Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over twelve years now and have reviewed over 6,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?

Extreme Rules 2016
Date: May 22, 2016
Location: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
Commentators: Byron Saxton, John Bradshaw Layfield, Michael Cole

It’s a night of rematches but in this case we have a few bonus stipulations to carry things forward. The main event is another match between WWE World Champion Roman Reigns and AJ Styles, in this case under Extreme Rules. The question here is who interferes and helps either guy pull off the win. Let’s get to it.

On the pre-show, here are the Dudley Boyz with something to say. Bubba starts an ECW chant before telling the fans to stop buying everything they’re told to do. Once the Dudley Boyz left ECW, it completely fell apart. As for today, ever since they got here, Bubba has been dying to say something. “D-VON! LET’S GET OUT OF NEW JERSEY!”

Bubba rants about how much he hates the New Era until Big Cass interrupts. After listing off a bunch of food (these jokes lose some of their connection without Enzo), Cass says the New Era is doing what the ECW guys did in Bingo halls but in front of millions of people. A quick brawl breaks out with Cass clearing the ring and calling them S-A-W-F-T.

It was smart to have them doing something here but if Enzo is going to be out much longer, they need to either give Cass a new partner (even a temporary one) or have him do a singles feud. Cass is legitimately hot right now and it would be very risky to waste that while waiting on Enzo, who is probably better suited as a mouthpiece, to come back.

Pre-Show: Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin

Rubber match because rubber matches are awesome and No DQ. The bell rings nine minutes before the regular show is supposed to start so they’re in a hurry here. Ziggler dropkicks him down but Corbin takes it to the floor and sends Ziggler face first into the post. Back in and Corbin pounds away as Mauro lists off a bunch of biographical facts about Corbin (double degree in college and a Slipknot fan), making me miss the days of Mike Tenay doing the same thing in WCW. I know it’s nothing all that interesting but it lets you know a few things about the guy.

Corbin’s chinlock goes nowhere as Dolph gets in a jawbreaker and clothesline to take over. The Stinger Splash into a neckbreaker gets no cover as the countdown to the pay per view reminds us that this is in fact heavily scripted and certainly won’t go over because that’s how wrestling works. Corbin’s powerbomb is countered into a sunset flip for two, followed by a Deep Six for the same on Dolph. Ziggler grabs a tornado DDT and the Fameasser for two and both guys are down. The superkick misses and Corbin hits him low, which FINALLY plays into the rules. End of Days gives Baron the pin at 7:58.

Rating: D+. It’s not so much the action itself but more along the lines of how weak the gimmick stuff was here. They had a total of one instance of using the rules (the posting early on is marginal at best) and that’s not something that should happen in a No DQ match. It doesn’t help that this didn’t need such a gimmick but the calendar insisted on it and we certainly can’t question that.

The other issue here, and this one is certainly not their fault, is the time. That clock on the screen kept letting you know that it would be over soon and really took me out of the match more than once. This should have started about ten to fifteen minutes earlier so they could have had the extra time to let this build up. It never ceases to amaze me that WWE, who OWNS THE NETWORK AND HAS AS MUCH TIME AS THEY WANT, can’t time this stuff better. It really is inexcusable and yet it never stops happening.

The opening video talks about how rules control us but tonight is the chance to write our own rules.

Karl Anderson/Luke Gallows vs. Usos

Texas Tornado rules and this is their fifth match in less than a month, not counting six man tags. It’s a brawl in the aisle to start with the Usos getting the better of it, despite certainly not being the most popular guys in the building tonight. Jey dives over the top to take out Gallows, followed by a high cross body for two on Anderson. JBL calls this a dream match, which might have been true on the first match or maybe even the second. I lost interest somewhere around the third but I’m not smart enough to keep up with WWE booking.

Something like the Boot of Doom off the apron blasts Jimmy and the Club takes over. The Usos fight out of what looked like a Doomsday Device and it’s Jey dropkicking Gallows into a rollup for two. Anderson comes back in and knees Jey so hard that he holds his foot before getting two. Jimmy breaks up the Boot of Doom but the Superfly Splash gets the same treatment.

A Whisper in the Wind misses and it’s the Gallows Pole to Jimmy, followed by a spinebuster for two on Jey. Anderson sends Jey outside but charges into a superkick, setting up the running Umaga Attack against the barricade. Gallows is back up with a clothesline (JBL: “LARIOTO!”) and grabs the bell (insert your own Festus joke), only to eat a superkick from Jimmy. The Superfly Splash only hits the bell though and the Magic Killer pins Jimmy at 8:32.

Rating: B-. The match was fun but again, I lost all my interest in seeing these two teams fight weeks ago. It also helped that they were going somewhere with the rules being changed, basically starting the standard tag finishing formula at the beginning of the match. This was fine but they both really need to move on.

The Usos are helped out, which is mentioned as having a factor on the main event.

We get a quick recap of the main event with Rusev injuring Kalisto on Raw to make this even more one sided on paper.

US Title: Rusev vs. Kalisto

Kalisto is defending and tries to start fast with the corkscrew cross body, only to have it knocked out of the air with an ax handle. The fans are split on Rusev (now there’s something you don’t often see) as he pounds Kalisto down. We hit the bearhug and a CM Punk chant starts up. Kalisto fights out of a torture rack and counters into a sleeper with Rusev looking more shocked than worried. The hold goes nowhere so the champ grabs a tornado DDT (second of the night) and now the corkscrew connects.

There’s the hurricanrana driver for two, followed by a hurricanrana through the ropes to send Rusev face first into the steps. Back in and Rusev escapes the Salida Del Sol so Kalisto scores with a moonsault to take him down again. Kalisto goes up but Rusev slams him off the top and right onto the apron to stop Kalisto cold. The doctor comes out to check on him so Rusev grabs the Accolade, bending Kalisto back so far that Rusev is on his back, easily making Kalisto tap at 9:30.

Rating: C. That stuff with the doctor had me worried that they might actually keep the title on Rusev here. There was no reason to not change the title here, especially with Cena coming back in a week on Memorial Day. I really wish they had done something more with Kalisto but the curse of the midcard title got to him again, which really is a shame as it’s taken down so many people now.

Trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, featuring Sheamus.

We recap the Tag Team Titles match with the old school Vaudevillains winning a tournament to earn this title shot against New Day. This included New Day building a time machine, which was NOT an empty refrigerator box.

Tag Team Titles: New Day vs. Vaudevillains

New Day is defending but first they have something to say. After insisting that it was NOT a refrigerator box, Woods implies that he could use some photos or videos on his private feed. Big E. tries to cut him off but Woods insists that he get to shoot his shot. Fans: “SHOOT HIS SHOT!” Big E. has some gardening tools with them and since they’re in the Garden State, it’s time to put some hoes in the ground.

Kofi is the odd man out here which you don’t see that often. The champs get jumped to start and Woods is sent into the post to give the Vaudevillains early control. Gotch comes in for something like a dragon sleeper but Woods gets out and blasts him with a jumping enziguri.

The hot(ish) tag brings in Big E. for some house cleaning in the form of some belly to belly suplexes. It’s quickly back to Woods though with Big E. being sent into the steps. The Whirling Dervish only gets two on Woods and Big E. gets back in to spear English through the ropes. Kofi interferes with a kick to Gotch’s head and Woods adds a Shining Wizard for the pin on Simon at 6:13.

Rating: C-. In theory this sets up Gallows/Anderson as the serious challengers but this really didn’t do anything for me. For one thing, it’s really not making sense to have the face champions use the numbers advantage. It’s against logic in wrestling and needs to stop happening. It’s not like Big E. and Kofi can’t pull this off on their own. On top of that, this was just a six minute match after a pretty strong build with the Vaudevillains being treated like the young guys they really are. I wasn’t feeling this one but it seems like a one off match.

AJ says he’ll win tonight and walks into the Club dressing room.

We recap the Intercontinental Title match with Miz defending against Sami Zayn, Cesaro and Kevin Owens. They’ve done a great job of setting up the four way feud with everyone going after each other and having a reason to want to fight their opponents. Basically Sami vs. Kevin and Cesaro vs. Miz were combined into one feud to this is the big blowoff.

Intercontinental Title: The Miz vs. Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn

Miz is defending and this is one fall to a finish. Sami hits a Helluva Kick on Owens at the bell and Kevin falls outside. Cesaro uppercuts Miz and we’ve got a good guy showdown early on. Sami starts in on the still bad shoulder before kicking Cesaro in the face for two. That’s enough for Cesaro as he grabs a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two of his own and Sami is in trouble. Back up and Sami low bridges Cesaro out to the floor as Miz comes back in, only to be clotheslined outside.

Byron tries to call the match but JBL says if Saxton was on life support, he’d unplug the cord and charge his iPhone. Ok, can we PLEASE cut out the JBL doesn’t like Byron stuff? They’ve been going with it for like ever now and since it’s certainly not leading to a match or likely anything, drop it already as it’s been old but just keeps going for no reason other than picking on Byron. Sami flip dives onto Miz and Cesaro to put all three down. Back in and we almost get a Tower of Doom until Owens runs in for the save.

Kevin cleans house and gets two off the backsplash to Sami. The frog splash is broken up by Miz though and now we get the Tower of Doom with Owens getting the worst of it as Cesaro powerbombs everyone down. Sami knees his way out of Cesaro’s suplex and the Blue Thunder Bomb gets two. Miz grabs an exploder suplex on Sami but Cesaro suplexes both of them at once because he’s just that awesome.

All four are down in a corner now and that means it’s time for the running uppercuts all around. Kevin stops Cesaro though and it’s Cannonballs for everyone. Sami breaks that up though, only to eat Swiss Death. The Skull Crushing Finale gets two on Cesaro and everyone is down. Miz yells at Cesaro for kicking out and makes the mistake of slapping him in the face, setting up the springboard corkscrew uppercut to the champ.

That means it’s time for the Cesaro Swing for over twenty seconds, followed by the Sharpshooter. The rope break doesn’t exist in a four way so Maryse has to offer a distraction while Miz taps. You would think the referee, two feet away from Miz, would have heard that but instead Owens has to make a save. Miz grabs the ropes to block another Swing and Owens dives in with a frog splash to the elevated champion.

The Neutralizer gets two on Owens with Sami diving in at the very last moment for the save. Cesaro’s powerbomb to Sami is countered into a very fast sunset flip for two. Cesaro BLASTS him with an uppercut but walks into an exploder suplex into the corner, only to have Owens come in with the Pop Up Powerbomb for two on Cesaro with Miz making the save.

Owens yells at Maryse and gets a Skull Crushing Finale on the floor, only to have Miz dive in for two more on Cesaro. These near falls are insane. Fans: “FIGHT FOREVER!” Miz is backdropped out to the floor but Cesaro turns around and eats the Helluva Kick for two with Owens making a save this time. While the two of them fight, Miz slides in and steals the pin on Cesaro to retain at 18:20.

Rating: A. This was some of the best timing I’ve ever seen in a multi-man match with the near falls getting me more than once. It’s not often that I get fooled by some near falls but this match did it multiple times in less than twenty minutes. I had a great time watching this and the storytelling at the end with Sami getting obsessed with Owens and costing him the title as a result.

Pre-show chat.

We recap Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho in an Asylum match (cage with weapons). They had a match at Payback with Dean winning clean so Jericho hit him in the head with Dean’s potted plant (Mitch). Dean then ripped up Jericho’s $15,000 jacket and the result is this match.

Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho

There are weapons around the top of the cage, you win by pin or submission and Jericho is in boots and jeans. Jericho quickly takes him down to start but Dean makes a quick save and sends Jericho into the cage. It’s time for the first weapon so Dean grabs….a mop, which he uses to blast Jericho in the ear. Cole: “He’s looking to mop up Jericho here.” Even Byron rips on him for a line that bad.

Jericho scores with a dropkick to take over but takes too long going up, allowing Dean to belly to back superplex him down. Both guys go up and it’s Dean coming back with nunchucks, only to have Jericho grab a barbed wire 2×4. That goes nowhere so they both climb up with Jericho getting in a few kendo stick shots to put Dean back in the ring. The crowd isn’t exactly thrilled by this.

Now some nunchuck shots have Dean in trouble and Jericho makes it even worse (I think?) by grabbing a leather strap. A whip to the head doesn’t have much effect so Dean flips him off the top to put both guys down again. Dean straps him a few times but gets sent into the cage. Jericho climbs up but Dean is on the top rope to crotch him back down. Dean pulls off a fire extinguisher so Jericho throws a straitjacket over his head and gets two off an enziguri.

Thankfully Chris gets smart and ties Dean in the straitjacket…..which he doesn’t tie. Dean pops up with forearms which don’t wake the crowd up so a clothesline gets two instead. A butterfly backbreaker gets two for Jericho and the fans want Ryder. Dean drops him again and climbs to the top of the cage for the standing elbow drop and almost no reaction. Like you would think it was a clothesline for a meaningless one count a minute into the match.

Since this hasn’t gone on long enough, Dean goes up to get a mop bucket. That gets no reaction either but the bag of thumbtacks inside gets a bit better reception. They tease going into the tacks multiple times each until they give up for the time being, killing the crowd again.

The Lionsault hits knees but Jericho counters Dirty Deeds into the Walls. That goes nowhere (of course) so Dean breaks a kendo stick over Jericho’s back. Chris saves himself with a fire extinguisher blast, setting up the Codebreaker for two. Some barbed wire 2×4 shots to Dean’s ribs have almost no effect as he counters another Codebreaker by dropping Jericho onto the tacks. Now THAT woke the crowd up. Dirty Deeds ends Jericho at a ridiculous 26:23.

Rating: D+. I think you can guess my biggest issue with this match. Dean vs. Jericho third from the top in a semi-comedy cage match on a gimmick pay per view shouldn’t be 45 seconds shorter than the main event of Wrestlemania. The crowd just did not care here and they lost me as soon as the mop came into play. How much hatred and anger can you have in a match where the big violence for the first twenty five minutes is a mop to the head? Oh and they didn’t even use the plant, which was the big idea of the match. I really wasn’t feeling this one and it just went on WAY too long, even though it was a decent brawl at times.

We recap the Women’s Title, which is somehow centered around Ric Flair. Natalya made the champ tap but Flair distracted the referee so Charlotte could escape. Therefore the result is a submission match with Flair barred from ringside.

Women’s Title: Charlotte vs. Natalya

Charlotte is defending and this is a submission match. Natalya takes her down by the ankle to start and asks where Ric is now. A surfboard has the champ in even more trouble but she rolls out to the floor and fires off some chops. That’s fine with Natalya who sends Charlotte shoulder first into the post to give her a new target. Back in and Charlotte kicks her in the face but gets rolled up into a cross armbreaker. I can always go for some basic psychology like that.

Charlotte gets up and powerbombs Natalya to break the hold before grabbing something like a reverse Figure Four (with Natalya on her stomach and Charlotte on her back). Natalya crawls to the ropes and out of the ring for the break as the rope beak rule still isn’t clear over the years.

Charlotte scores with the moonsault and puts on a half crab but Natalya (with her leg just fine) pops up and throws her down with a German suplex. The Sharpshooter goes on so Charlotte climbs the ropes…..which doesn’t work as she crashes back to the mat. Cue a fake Ric Flair which is revealed to be…..Dana Brooke. The distraction lets Charlotte get in a cheap shot and put on the Figure Eight for the submission at 9:34.

Rating: D+. Well that was nothing and so much for the women stealing the show at every pay per view. I didn’t see any selling in this (Natalya being on her feet after the leg work and Charlotte’s arm being fine for the Figure Eight) and the ending was stupid. Somewhat predictable as you knew something was going to happen (though Dana was a surprise) but stupid at the same time. I don’t know if I just died in that marathon cage match or in the fact that Natalya was clearly just a filler opponent but I really wasn’t feeling this one.

Flair, Dana and Charlotte celebrate post match. Cole thinks this was a set up because Cole is forced to sound like a stupid puppet.

We recap the World Title match, which is a Payback rematch after AJ won by countout and DQ but the match was restarted twice, allowing Reigns to pin him. Since then AJ has been forced to go extreme against his will but eventually he seemed to like the idea. There’s still the question of whether or not he’s been behind the Club attacks but that hasn’t been treated as such an important idea this time around.

WWE World Title: Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles

AJ is challenging and this is under Extreme Rules, meaning street fight. Styles tells him to bring it to start so Reigns elbows him in the face. AJ ducks some shots and fires off kicks, which are quickly shoved away so Roman can fire off corner clotheslines. A big jumping knee to the face knocks AJ silly and they head outside.

Reigns takes too long setting up the announcers’ table though and gets knocked into the crowd. They fight over to the pre-show panel with AJ throwing him into various objects, including the table and a barricade wall. The Phenomenal Forearm off the table just staggers Reigns and they fight back to the timekeeper’s area. AJ sends him into the post and peels back the floor pads, which can never go well.

The Styles Clash on the concrete is of course countered so AJ tries it on the announcers’ table. Reigns counters that as well and catches a charging AJ in a big old backdrop through the other announcers’ table. Fans: “YOU STILL SUCK!” Back in and Reigns hits a Razor’s Edge into a sitout powerbomb (that should be someone’s finisher) for two and the champ is shocked.

With little else working, Reigns loads up the Superman Punch but AJ hits him in the knee and Reigns buckles to the mat. AJ knees him in the face from the apron but Reigns catches him in a powerbomb (so much for the leg) through the other announcers’ table (with AJ bouncing on the table before it breaks). The spear only hits the barricade though and Reigns is out.

They very slowly get back up and it’s AJ trying the Phenomenal Forearm with Reigns Superman Punching him in the face for the counter. The spear connects off the steps but neither guy can get up. Cue the Club as AJ is thrown back inside. Now this brings up the question: who am I supposed to cheer for here? Cole acts like this is a big heel act but Reigns is hardly a good guy.

The Boot of Doom only gives AJ two (so much for that move meaning anything) but the Usos run out (so much for that angle earlier in the night) for the superkick party. Jimmy’s Superfly Splash gives Reigns an obvious two. Another spear is countered and AJ scores with the Clash for two. The Superman Punch is countered again with an enziguri and the Styles Clash on the chair gets two more. Oh come on now. AJ is stunned so he unloads on the Usos and Reigns with the chair. Another Phenomenal Forearm is countered and a single spear retains the title at 22:13.

Rating: B+. This was really good, crippling the Styles Clash aside. It certainly wasn’t one sided but I have a real hard time buying Reigns kicking out of all the offense before the run-ins, the Boot of Doom, two Styles Clashes and a bunch of chair shots. At some point it gets stupid and we hit that with about five minutes to go. Either way though, this was another really good brawl as they beat each other up for a long time before the finishing sequence that people weren’t interested in seeing. I don’t think anyone expected AJ to win here and that’s fine, but good grief enough with killing the Styles Clash.

Post match Seth Rollins makes his return and lays out Reigns with a Pedigree. I have no idea if that makes him a heel or a face but I don’t think WWE does either.

Overall Rating: B. The strong matches more than carry this show as you had the amazing fourway, the strong main event and a good opener to balance out the WAY too long (though certainly not horrible) cage match. The show was very up and down though and instead of leading up to a big ending, it was much more “here’s something good now here’s something bad.” Thankfully it looks like we’re setting up some fresh stuff with Money in the Bank in a month, but that show tends to just throw everyone together in one big mess and forget all the feuds. Still though, strong show and outstanding if you cut out one match.

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You can find more from Thomas Hall at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.

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