Extreme Rules has come and….hang on. Actually it was The Horror Show At Extreme Rules. Yeah that’s the brilliant name that WWE came up with for this shindig and no I don’t think it makes a ton of sense either. For some reason, WWE felt that the show, held in July, needed a horror theme so that’s what we got. Now some of you might not be getting what the point was of this and that means you’re in the smart group today. This week we’re going to look at the gimmick WWE instead that was needed and why it dragged down what could have been a solid show.
WWE LOVES having gimmick shows. Like, ridiculously loves having them really. It has become pretty rare to see a show that doesn’t have some kind of a gimmick attached, even if that gimmick something as simple as “THE GREATEST WRESTLING MATCH EVER!” Now some of these things can be a good idea (Survivor Series and Royal Rumble say hello), but then you get into some of the less inspired ideas and it starts to fall apart.
That’s where we get to Extreme Rules, which is a pretty simple idea but the kind of show where you have to suspend a lot of disbelief. Not only is the show suddenly all EXTREME, but you need to have a bunch of rematches with gimmicks because that’s what the calendar calls for. I’m not a fan of that kind of booking whatsoever, but that’s another set of complaining for another time.
This year’s Extreme Rules came at a time when WWE is looking HORRIBLE. The fans are leaving in droves, the top stars are all mostly gone (You mean it was a bad idea to book Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar and Becky Lynch as the only people in the whole company who mattered?) and there is almost no reason to watch. Now WWE could put in some effort and turn some things around to make their product better (say, like, getting CREATIVE with it), but instead they’ve chosen to take the easy route (a trend for them) and just slap a new name on a show and go from there.
This was creative:
So the big idea became The Horror Show At Extreme Rules. This led to the obvious reaction of “…..huh?”, as the big idea was suddenly to have a gimmick show with a gimmick. Let me repeat that: the gimmick show needed a gimmick. Yeah for some reason, just having a show made of extreme matches wasn’t good enough anymore, after eleven previous installments of the exact same show. Now it was going to be a HORROR show, which had a grand total of absolutely nothing to do with Extreme Rules.
Now you might think that the solution here would be to, I don’t know, DROP THE EXTREME RULES PART, but why do that when you can just slap two names together and have fans wondering what the heck they’re watching? It didn’t make sense when WWE announced the name and then it got even worse when they started announcing the matches for the show. So what brilliant ideas did they come up with the double gimmick special?
Actually, what we got was more of a triple decker, as there were six matches on the entire card. The show consisted of a tables match, an Extreme Rules match (kind of, as only one wrestler was abiding by Extreme Rules), a Swamp Fight (which wasn’t exactly a match), an Eye For An Eye match (which was a regular match with a SCARY way to win) and two singles matches. That’s the whole card, and if you count the Kickoff Show match, it’s a mixture of two horrors, two extremes and three….perfectly regular matches.
In other words, WWE somehow managed to have two gimmicks for the price of one and then spent an equal amount of time (plus more with the Kickoff Show) on something COMPLETELY NORMAL. Do you have any idea how much talent it takes to be that unfocused on a single given night? How can you manage to not even be able to focus on your two (YES TWO) gimmicks on the same pay per view? Put a bunch of gimmicks in a bag and pull them out of a hat or something. You can’t do a street fight or a Last Man Standing match in there to give the show a more extreme feeling?
Or do something like this:
No, apparently not, because we needed to focus on the horror stuff. So what exactly did we get out of the horrors? Well as far as an actual match, as in something with an opening bell and a referee declaring a winner, we had a match between two Hall of Fame talents where they had to keep trying to gouge the other’s eye out. Yes it was the special horror gimmick which served as a great metaphor for the entire show.
In something that shouldn’t surprise you, Mysterio and Rollins were having a heck of a match because they’re some of the most talented people you’re going to find. They both looked sharp and crisp, but then they had to stop and do something about the other’s eye. It felt like a huge distraction rather than just letting someone go out there and do the thing that they do better than almost anyone else. Sure they were having a great match and the kind of thing that might get someone’s attention because it’s an awesome athletic display, but then we need to stop and try to do something that makes it a horror match.
That’s where things start to fall apart with the show. Mysterio and Rollins were having an intense and personal feud, but they had to play into the gimmick of the show rather than something that would work well in execution. These two should be having a violent match and they’re more than capable of doing so. Lock them in a cage, have a street fight, or tie them together with a chain. Do SOMETHING other than announcing that you’re going to see some kind of gore, with the best that you can really offer being a bad practical or CGI effect (Which you could maybe see. A bit. If you froze it. And squinted. And pretended.)
It sums up the whole fiasco so well. Why have a wrestling match between two great wrestlers when you can have them try to do something that is pretty much out of their characters? Mysterio vs. Rollins in a well told story can attract an audience. What WWE tried to go for was shock power and that is leaving a lot to chance. Like for example being able to live up to the hype that you have created. The same was true of the Edge vs. Randy Orton match at Backlash. Sure it was a very good match, but the Greatest Wrestling Match Ever? They’re behind the eight ball to start and it happened to Mysterio and Rollins as well.
But hang on, let’s try this instead:
It’s the problem of setting up a gimmick and then having to set things up to achieve that standard. WWE has put together their last two pay per views backwards in a sense, as there is almost no way to live up to the promises that they have made, leaving them scrambling to come up with something even remotely acceptable. All the while you have Edge vs. Orton and Mysterio vs. Rollins in what could be very good and totally acceptable pay per view showdowns falling by the wayside because wrestling isn’t interesting enough. On the wrestling show.
Extreme Rules has been called one of the worst shows WWE has ever produced and that just isn’t true. There was some good wrestling involved, but the show was so bogged down by trying to do too many things at once that it collapsed under all of its own expectations. WWE is making things way more complicated than they should be. They have talented wrestlers who can have good matches. Let that be enough, and you won’t need a gimmicked gimmick.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!