Extreme Rules didn't have a world title match, but it may have had something better: The return of Bray Wyatt. After weeks of teasing the polarizing character's return, WWE on Saturday presented us Bray Wyatt to end Extreme Rules. Note that what we saw was Bray Wyatt, not The Fiend. Let's hope it stays that way.
It capped off a strong pay-per-view, which was main evented by Matt Riddle submitting Seth Rollins in the Fight Pit. It's arguably Riddle's biggest win in WWE yet. Ronda Rousey won the SmackDown Women's Championship earlier in the show, and Bianca Belair retained her gold by beating Bayley.
The best match of the night was the "I Quit" Match between Edge and Finn Balor, which the latter won. It cemented the Judgement Day as a top-tier faction, at least for the time being, exemplified by the nuclear heat they received after the match. Another highlight was the six-man Street Fight that opened the show between the Brawling Brutes and Imperium.
Bray Wyatt returns at Extreme Rules
Daniel Van Boom
After Matt Riddle beats Seth Rollins in the main event, Michael Cole is closing off the broadcast when the lights go black. He's Got the Whole World in His Hands starts playing. The spotlight picks out spots throughout the crowd, which shows characters from Bray Wyatt's old Firefly Funhouse. The Fiend's mask pops up on the announcer's table.
We see a freaky video package that takes place inside the old Firefly Funhouse set. Back in the arena, a door is setup on the entrance ramp. It's kicked open and out walks Bray Wyatt in a new mask. The crowd goes wild, and chants "Holy shit!"
Wyatt takes the mask off, and we see his face for a moment before the show goes off the air.
Matt Riddle makes Seth Rollins tap out
Daniel Van Boom
Matt Riddle got his win over Seth Rollins, defeating Rollins in the Fight Pit match that served as Extreme Rules' main event. UFC legend Daniel Cormier was the special guest referee here.
The ring's turnbuckles were taken off for the match, with a cage falling down to replicate a cagefight rather than a wrestling match. The Fight Pit is a weird mix between a simulated MMA fight, a Cage Match and a Last Man Standing Match. Rollins and Riddle fought each other at first like it was an MMA fight, and there was a strong submission orientation to much of the action. To win the fight, one person needed to keep the other down for a 10 count.
There was a sweet spot early on when Riddle rebounded off the cage to kick Rollins in the face. Rollins, who was wearing an RVD-inspired outfit, at one point climbed the cage then jumped off it to land a Frog Splash.
Rollins attempted a Peruvian Necktie choke, but Riddle rolled out and landed an RKO on Rollins. The two had a strike exchange -- Riddle's strikes are a lot better, as you'd expect from a former UFC fighter -- and Riddle went for another RKO. Rollins shoved him down, then crushed him with a Curbstomp. Riddle beat the count, and Riddle climbed up the cage to the platforms on its second level.
Riddle got a flying Triangle Choke on Rollins, who countered by turning it into a Buckle Bomb into the corner of the cage. Rollins then planted Riddle with a Pedigree, but Cormier wouldn't start counting because the match can only be won inside the ring, not on the platforms above it. Riddle surprised Rollins with an RKO, and Rollins rolled off the platform into the ring. Riddle then hit a Floating Bro senton from the top of the Fight Pit -- it looked like it killed both of them.
Both men got up at 8, and Riddle did another flying Triangle Choke -- his jump height is impressive. Rollins tried to fight out by slamming Riddle into the cage, but Riddle kept the choke locked on. Rollins eventually tapped out.
Rating: 3.75 stars.
Finn Balor makes Edge say 'I quit'
Daniel Van Boom
Edge lost his match with Finn Balor, saying "I quit" after the Judgement Day threatened to Conchairto Edge's wife Beth Phoenix. This took a while to get going, but built up to the best match of the night.
Just basic stuff at first. Balor put Edge in a Figure Four, which Edge eventually reversed. Balor trapped Edge in the apron and pummeled him, like Rousey did to Morgan earlier. The problem with "I Quit" Matches, like Last Man Standing Matches, is that you know they need to escalate to a super violent level before there can be a finish. It makes the first 80% of the match feel low stakes.
Edge and Balor brawled through the crowd and into the Kickoff Show panel area. Edge smashed Balor with a hockey stick, and put a crossface on with it, but Balor won't quit. They fight near the backstage area, and Edge tries to Spear Balor down the arena stairs, but Balor dodged it and rammed Edge crotch-first into the stair railings.
Back in the ring, Balor hit Edge with a bunch of chair shots. The ref asked if he quits, and Edge defiantly said no -- getting a round of cheers, the biggest response the match has aroused so far. The crowd is listless as they wait for something that realistically could end the match.
Balor had set up a chair between the top and middle ropes in the corner turnbuckle and tried to toss Edge into it. Edge reversed, slamming Balor head-first into the chair. Edge put his Edgecator submission on Balor. Balor teased quitting, saying "I" a bunch of times, but before he could say the second word Damian Priest hit the ring, followed by Dominik Mysterio. In a sick spot, Edge threw both on the outside and then, when Balor tried to get into the ring, Speared Balor through the ropes onto Damian and Dominik.
Edge set Balor up for a second Spear, but Rhea Ripley popped up out of nowhere and handcuffed Edge to the ring ropes. The three Judgement Day men then beat down Edge, with Balor whipping him with a Kendo Stick. Rey Mysterio came in to make the save, and began clearing house. He was cut off by Dominik Mysterio who knocked his dad out side and beat him down. This got nuclear heat in the arena, and Michael Cole did a great job of putting over how dastardly this all is.
As Balor restarted whaling on Edge, Edge's wife Beth Phoenix came into the ring, snatched the Kendo Stick and took out Balor and Priest with it. That led to a showdown between Pheonix and Ripley, which the crowd was excited about. It ended with Phoenix laying out Ripley with a Spear. She then got the handcuff keys from Ripley and uncuffed Edge.
Edge kicked Dominik in the balls, and Speared Balor three times. Edge put a Crossface on Balor, but Ripley distracted him by clocking Phoenix with Brass Knocks. Damian Priest Chokeslammed Edge, and Balor hit three consecutive Coup De Grace. Edge still refused to quit.
Ripley got two chairs from under the ring and set up a Conchairto on Phoenix, which got Edge to say "I quit". Balor won the match -- and Ripley smashed Phoenix with the chair anyway. Great stuff.
Rating: 4.5 stars. This was terrific for two reasons. First, though the first 60% of the match was generic, its final stretch was thrilling, with plenty of surprises and twists. It was lots of fun. Second, this match did a lot to make the Judgement Day feel important. The faction has felt B-grade since Edge left it, but with a win over the legend Finn Balor and the whole Judgement Day now feels like a bigger deal.
The crowd hated the Judgement Day, getting legitimate heat from the crowd. It's all building up to Edge ultimately getting a win back but, for the time being, it's great for Balor & Co.
Bianca Belair defeats Bayley in a Ladder Match
Daniel Van Boom
Liv Morgan couldn't keep her gold, but Bianca Belair managed to. Belair retained her Raw Women's Championship by defeating Bayley in a Ladder Match. We got interference from Bayley's Damage CTRL faction partners, and some painful-looking ladder spots
At first the Philly crowd was behind Belair but, about 7 minutes into the match, we got loud, dueling "Let's go Bianca" and "Let's go Bayley!" chants. Bailey is great at playing a bratty heel. Early in the match she reprimanded a young fan for calling her a loser, and later on snatched a sign from a fan in the crowd.
In among the most wince-inducing moments of the match, Bayley setup a ladder between the barricade and the ring steps on the outside, and laid Belair out on it. She then hit a flying elbow on Belair: It was wicked, and looked like it hurt Bayley a lot more than Belair. Bayley whiplashed off it after making contact, and the announcer's questioned how wise the move was. Indeed.
There was a moment where Belair was climbing the ladder, only for Bayley to kick it out from under her. Belair fell off the ladder and fell out of the ring. Bayley, inside the ring, took part of her knee brace off, signaling that she was going to hit Belair with it. The announcers played up her genius -- but then she threw it away, and the announcers didn't know what to say. Weird moment.
Bayley attempted a running knee in the corner, but Belair moved. Belair nailed Bayley with a KOD, and scaled the ladder. Before she could grab the title, though, Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai stormed the ring and stopped Belair. Belair fought them both off, planting them with a double KOD.
Fresh off the distraction, Bayley hit a Rose Plant on Belair and put a ladder onto of Belair's body. Bayley intended to trap Belair underneath as she climbed the ladder, but Belair was able to bench press the ladder with Bayley on it.
The two women fought briefly atop the ladder, with Belair slashing Bayley with her braid to knock her off. A ladder half was in the ring after snapping earlier in the match. Bayley grabbed it, but Belair snatched Bayley up for a KOD. Bayley was slammed onto the ladder she was holding, which looked brutal. Belair climbed the ladder to retrieve the Raw Women's Championship.
Rating: 3.5 stars.
Karrion Kross pins Drew McIntyre
Daniel Van Boom
Karrion Kross defeated Drew McIntyre in a Strap Match after interference from Scarlett. McIntyre was setting up for the Claymore Kick when Scarlett interjected and sprayed McIntyre in the face with pepper spray, which allowed Kross to take out McIntytre with his Kross Hammer finish.
Kross refused the put the strap around his wrist at first. After Scarlett distracted McIntyre, Kross hit a cheap shot on McIntyre. They then brawled around the arena, with the match not yet having officially started due to Kross not being tied to McIntyre. McIntyre got the best of Kross, tossing him in the ring and physically putting the strap around Kross' wrist. The bell rang to officially kick off the match.
There wasn't much to this bout once it properly started. McIntyre had the upper hand at the beginning, but Kross targeted his injured shoulder to start a long heat segment. Kross beat down McIntyre with the strap for a while, then McIntyre Hulked Up and mounted a comeback. That comeback was cut off by Scarlett, who sprayed him with pepper spray to lead to the finish. A basic match.
Rating: 2.5 stars. Karrion Kross and Scarlett are a great act, but he's not yet proven he can have great matches. This was a hard one for both men, since Strap Matches typically feature a level of blood and violence that was never going to be met in 2022 WWE. The result was a match that was largely just there.
Ronda Rousey wins SmackDown Women's Championship
Daniel Van Boom
Ronda Rousey defeated Liv Morgan to regain the SmackDown Women's Championship. The story of the match as that Rousey was the dominant competitor, and that Morgan had to fight as the underdog to eke out a victory somehow. No such victory was eked, however, as Rousey ended up making Morgan pass out.
Early in the match, Rousey trapped Morgan in the apron on the outside, decking her with a wicked slap. Rousey grabbed the baseball bat Morgan brought to the ring, but Morgan sprayed Rousey with a fire extinguisher. Morgan couldn't follow up though. She tried offense, but Rousey immediately countered with a Piper's Pit. When Rousey then started clearing her eyes out, Morgan flew off the ring steps to attack Rousey, but Rousey hit her in the stomach with the baseball bat.
Every time Morgan would get a bit of offense in, Rousey would cut her off. Rousey tied Morgan to the apron with her black belt and barraged her with baseball bat strikes. Morgan set up a table inside the ring, but Rousey caught her with a knee to the face and choked Morgan on the ring ropes.
Morgan set up a steel chair between the top and middle rope, then tried to slingshot Rousey into it. Both failed: The chair unwedged and fell to the floor, and somebody botched the first slingshot attempt, as Ronda fell back onto Morgan but Morgan (I think) didn't push her off properly.
Morgan then hit Rousey with a series of chair shots -- among the weakest chair shots I've ever seen. Corey Graves tried to cover for Morgan, saying she's taken so much damage she can't properly swing the chair. Brutal.
Morgan setup a table in the middle of the ring, put Rousey on it and crashed through it. Morgan got a two count, and Rousey immediately countered the pinfall into an armbar. The armbar then turned sort of into a choke, and Morgan passed out.
Rating: 3stars. The match was sloppy in parts, and Liv Morgan isn't a believable enough opponent for Ronda Rousey. Her offense looks weak, so it's hard to suspend disbelief when Rousey sells for her. After the match the announcers were playing up the fact that Liv Morgan was inexplicably smiling, meaning the feud will likely continue. That's unfortunate. Rousey needs to move to something better.
The Brawling Brutes beat Imperium
Daniel Van Boom
Sheamus, Butch and Ridge Holland (The Brawling Brutes) defeated Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci (Imperium) in a Good Old Fashion Donnybrook match (a Street Fight) to open Extreme Rules. Other than a mixup towards the end, where the performers seemed confused about where they were meant to be few a few awkward moments, this was fabulous.
Sheamus' chest was still welted up from his match with Gunther on SmackDown. It got a whole lot more welted in this match, when Gunther barraged Sheamus with chops while Kaiser and Vinci held him down. It was gnarly, but not as gnarly as the Imperium Bomb to Holland on the outside. A hard powerbomb to a big man on the concrete floor; rough stuff.
Imperium managed to take out the Brutes one by one, standing tall as a trio inside the ring. Sheamus was able to recover though, and began a comeback for the team on his own. He took out Kaiser and Vinci, which allowed Sheamus and Gunther to showdown in the middle of the ring. The crowd was into this.
There was a fun spot where Sheamus was doing his 10 clubbing fists on the apron, and the two other Brutes joined him and barraged Gunther with strikes. Sheamus then hit a Brogue Kick on Gunther, but Vinci broke it up with a springboard splash.
There was then a brawl, ending with Sheamus getting Gunther in a Sharpshooter. But Kaiser broke it up by smashing a sheleighly across Sheamus' back. Gunther got a two count, and a "this is awesome!" chant.
Butch took out everyone outside with a moonsault off barrels set up at ringside, leaving Sheamus and Gunther in the ring. Gunther hit Sheamus with the sheleighly several times, but Sheamus kicked out. Butch and Holland ran in and held Gunther, allowing Sheamus to clock Gunther in the head with the sheleighly.
Everyone got lost after this. Butch and Holland went outside for no apparent reason, and we could see Kaiser and Vinci scrambling to figure out where they were meant to be. Eventually they all ran into the ring, and the Brutes beat down Imperium with sheleighlys.
Sheamus put Gunther through the announcer's table with a Celtic Cross powerbomb. Inside the ring, Sheamus hit Vinci with a Brogue Kick for the win.
Rating: 4 stars. Fun, hard hitting opening match -- what you'd expect. The Brawling Brutes' victory means Sheamus' feud with Gunther may not yet be over. That's great news for us, since their bouts have been outstanding, but bad for Sheamus. How many more chops can his chest take?