Sunday’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view has come and gone. It was a place-holder show. There was only one Extreme Rules match on the show. No titles even changed hands, and for three of them – the WWE title, the Universal title and the Smackdown Women’s Championship – more important things are on the horizon than what took place on this show.
The event itself had some good wrestling and enough wackiness to please some fans while irritating others.
Here are takeaways from Extreme Rules as we look forward:
NO ONE’S BEATING ROMAN BUT BROCK OR ROCK
Yes, they tried to make Finn Balor look like a threat, using the Demon gimmick and hyping the idea of the body-painted version of Balor being undefeated. Despite this, even the most optimistic Balor fan had to realize there was no way Reigns was losing on this show. The emphasis is clearly on Brock Lesnar as the top challenger for Reigns. This was a way for Roman to main event a big show, give him a win and send him on his way to Lesnar.
WWE has booked Roman so strong as a heel, a bout with Lesnar or a potential dream match with the Rock (if they can work something out with his filming schedules) are the only ways he’s likely to lose the Universal title.
THE EMPHASIS ON TV RATINGS IS REAL – AND IT DOESN’T BODE WELL FOR BIG E
Most of us can remember when WWE used its TV shows to hype pay-per-view matches. Tonight, we saw them use a six-man tag team match featuring the WWE Champion to hype a match on WWE RAW. In a match that wasn’t even on the company’s website mere hours before the show, The New Day defeated A.J. Styles, Omos and Bobby Lashley when Big E pinned Lashley. Big E hit the Big Ending after Lashley had accidentally speared Styles.
This was all to set up a title match on Monday’s RAW show. Big E’s position as champion in the first place is a piece of hot-shotting as WWE tries to keep AEW from catching up to them in the key 18-49 demo during football season. It is possible Big E’s push is almost over and WWE will put the title back on Lashley. Even if it does not happen Monday, it is possible Big E won’t be the one representing RAW in the main event of Survivor Series.
What does this title reign mean for Big E? Probably not much. His New Day partner, Kofi Kingston, can tell him all about that. Kingston held the WWE Championship for 180 days in 2019, then lost it to Lesnar in eight seconds. He was back throwing pancakes to the crowd a week later.
SMACKDOWN’S WOMEN’S TITLE PICTURE REGAINS A KEY PLAYER
After spending the first nine months of the year building Bianca Belair into a star, WWE booked her to lose the Smackdown Women’s title to Becky Lynch in 26 seconds at SummerSlam. Banks was supposed to be Belair’s opponent, but Banks was unable to work the match and it led to Lynch’s surprise return. Lynch came out to a huge ovation and promptly turned heel, since heaven forbid the WWE let its fans be happy for more than a few seconds.
Banks returned at Extreme Rules, attacking both Belair and Lynch, setting up an obvious Triple Threat match. While some felt the disqualification finish fell flat (a DQ at Extreme Rules?), it did keep either Lynch or Belair from taking a clean loss. Banks interjecting herself makes sense in storyline since she missed out on the big match in which she felt she’d regain the title.
— WWE (@WWE) September 27, 2021
This gives WWE a few options going forward to keep this story moving. Whoever is not involved in the pin at the inevitable Triple Threat match will have a claim to the next title shot and these three popular characters can continue to meet in key matches.
WWE STILL HATES HOMETOWNS
WWE’s near-pathological refusal to let hometown fans be happy continued at Extreme Rules. Alexa Bliss failed in her title match with Charlotte Flair. Her precious doll, Lilly, was destroyed by Flair to boot. Actually, the whole thing with the doll seemed to upset Bliss far more than losing shot at the title.
— WWE (@WWE) September 27, 2021
Bliss was wrestling in her hometown and while she really shouldn’t be beating Flair, it’s just another example of the company setting up wrestlers for failure at home. It’s such a pattern people must cringe when they see their home cities on the schedule.
It even happened to Belair on September 17, when her homecoming ceremony in Knoxville, TN was interrupted by Lynch and ended with Belair starting a fight as a babyface and getting beaten up. To be fair, after the live TV show went off the air, Belair won an impromptu non-title match against Lynch, but the TV viewers just saw Belair look like a failure in front of friends and family. WWE seems to think this builds heat, but it just makes fans more hesitant to believe in a babyface.
Liv Morgan is likeable, popular as a babyface and got a decent match out of Carmella. Those are not easy accomplishments in today’s WWE. She deserves a bit more attention on TV.
The Usos are excellent, both as Reigns’ cronies and in-ring as the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. They are having a strong year, performance-wise.
The draft is coming Friday on Smackdown and Monday on RAW. With the current emphasis on making sure AEW doesn’t top them in the 18-49 demographic during football season, changes will be made to shake up the rosters further. We will be back to analyze how that will affect WWE programming.