Extreme Rules 2019 was a surprisingly good show. Following high-profile events on Saturday from both AEW and New Japan Pro Wrestling (wrestling fans: sign up to New Japan World for the G1. Trust me), WWE capped the weekend off with Extreme Rules, a Philadelphia-based pay-per-view that aired on the WWE Network. WWE is currently in the throes of bad ratings and a couple of back-to-back poor shows, but this one was somewhere in between good and great.
There were disappointments. Samoa Joe vs. Kofi Kingston and AJ Styles vs. Ricochet should have both been better matches, particularly the latter. But these flaws were evened out elsewhere. The main event mixed-tag match was far better than previous matches from Baron Corbin and Seth Rollins. And we got a Brock Lesnar cash in, which is either great or terrible depending on your feelings on The Beast. (I am very much pro-Beast, for the record.)
Maybe most importantly, there really was nothing bad on the show.
Perhaps the best match of the night was on the undercard: Aleister Black vs. Cesaro. If you're a WWE Network subscriber and don't have the time to watch the whole show, that one is worth going out of your way for. As noted, the main event was also a pleasant surprise.
Below are the full results, recaps and match ratings for the night, from end to beginning.
Brock Lesnar cashes in
After the main event, Brock Lesnar's music hits. He German Suplexes Rollins twice, and then officially cashes in. One F5 and Brock wins the Universal Championship for the third time.
Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch vs. Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans
Lacey Evans had the name "Seth" embroidered on the top of her tights, which resulted in a few discomfortingly gratuitous butt shots. The pay off was this match starting with Becky Lynch literally kicking Evans' ass.
Corbin and Rollins wrestle, and eventually Evans comes in with a Kendo Stick. Rollins catches the stick, and Evans pulls him in all seductive like. But then Becky cuts that off by hitting Lacey in the back with a Kendo Stick. The two then do tandem offense, pummeling their respective opponents with Kendo Sticks, and a sliding dropkick-suicide dive combo. Corbin and Rollins end up in the ring. Rollins goes for a dive, but Corbin counters with a chair shot.
The crowd comes in with a loud dueling chant -- except it's not for the wrestlers. One side is chanting "we want Lesnar" (to cash in his Money in the Bank contract), and the other side chants "no we don't!"
Corbin and Rollins work around two chairs setup in the middle of the ring, while Becky takes a chair to Evans on the outside. Now the legal women, Lynch hits an exploder suplex onto two chairs. She sets up a chair atop Evans and does a top-rope leg drop. Corbin comes to protect Evans, but Rollins passes him a chair and Lynch kicks it into his face. The distraction allows Evans to take control. She hits a beautiful springboard moonsault for a 2-count.
Evans goes for a Women's Right knockout punch, but Becky counters into a Disarmer attempt. Evans counters for a roll up, and Lynch tags in Rollins. Lynch and Rollins set up two tables next to each other outside the ring. It takes them a while, though, so Evans and Corbin are able to take back control. Corbin and Evans hit Rollins with a barrage of Kendo Stick strikes. Lynch comes in, and she and Rollins are hit with stereo chokeslams.
The two continue to double team Rollins, sending him outside the ring. They try to double suplex him through a table, but Lynch interrupts and reverses the suplex. Becky and Rollins then set Evans and Corbin up on the two tables, and both hit top-rope splashes to crash through both tables. Cool spot.
Rollins goes for the Curbstomp, but Corbin counters with a Deep Six. He pins Seth, but Lynch breaks up the count. Lynch sends Evans out of the ring, and Corbin hits her with an End of Days. WWE doesn't ever really do man-on-woman violence, so this got the crowd. It also go Seth Rollins, who, visibly incensed, demolished Corbin with a Kendo Stick, a chair and then three Curbstomps. Great finish.
Rating: 4 stars. I thought this match would be lacklustre, given Seth and Baron's previous bouts, but it was actually filled with creative spots and great action. The finish was also terrific, and made Seth look invincible. Funny how that worked out, though...
Kofi Kingston retains the WWE Championship
Butter your pancakes, its WWE Championship time.
The two exchange strikes, with Joe performing a sweet leg sweep. He slaps Kofi on the back, and Kofi returns with a chest slap. Looks like these two are going to work snug. A shoulder ram from Joe proves this.
The story from SmackDown a few weeks ago was Kofi wouldn't shake Joe's hand. That plays into this match, as Joe bends Kofi's fingers and then puts his hand in between the ring stairs and steps on them. Back in the ring, Joe slaps Kofi and Kofi gives him the finger. He fights back, hitting a cross body from the top rope. Joe regains control with a wicked powerslam.
Kofi gets an SOS DDT and then goes for the Trouble in Paradise Kick, but Joe counters into a Coquina Clutch attempt. He slams Kofi and then does a back senton. Kofi kicks Joe in the face, Joe hits the ropes and Kofi gets a Trouble in Paradise.
Rating: 3 stars. Just as this match was getting good, it's over. Good, but another disappointment.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens
Ziggler slaps Owens. Ziggler eats a stunner. 1-2-3.
Owens grabs the mic and cuts an explosive promo on Shane McMahon. He puts over The Undertaker tombstoning McMahon, and says Shane can kiss his ass and go straight to hell. We feel you, Kev.
AJ Styles vs. Ricochet
Paul Heyman comes out and says Brock Lesnar is here and will cash in on either the WWE or Universal Champion. But, he asked, is he telling the truth, or is he being Paul Heyman? Deep thoughts from Paul E. Dangerously here. Up next is the United States Championship match, which could/should be the best of the night.
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, who entered with AJ Styles, attack Ricochet before the match starts. The bell rings, and Cole reminds us that this is a match contested under normal rules. Nothing extreme here, fans.
Styles advantage is immediately neutralized, as Ricochet gets the advantage early on. Rolling flip into dropkick, shooting star flip from the apron to the outside. No fists, just flips. A distraction from Gallows allows AJ to get back on top. After some heat, Ricochet takes control with a backflip-enziguri combo. He gets a big knee to AJ's face and then takes out Gallows and Anderson with a springboard moonsault.
Style goes for a reverse DDT, but Ricochet counters into a Northern Lights Suplex, powerslam combo. Styles counters a springboard move into an Ushigoroshi. Styles spikes Ricochet with a beautiful body slam-reverse DDT transition. Other than one brief dueling chant, the crowd has been quiet for this one.
Styles goes for a Phenomenal Forearm but Ricochet dodges, but Styles manages to faceplant Ricochet. He goes for a Styles Clash, but Ricochet counters into a Hurricanrana pin attempt for a 2-count. The two exchange strikes and the crowd wakes up with a big dueling chant.
The two counter with the same moves: Ricochet hits a Pele Kick, Styles hits a Pele kick. Richochet hits a brainbuster, Styles hits a brainbuster. After some back and forth, Ricochet manages a shooting star press. He gets a two count after AJ sticks his foot under the rope. Anderson tried to interfere but Ricochet catches him with a kick, but Gallows strips him off the top rope and AJ hits an avalanche Styles Clash to win the US title.
Rating: 3.5 stars. So many incredible sequences, and everything was smooth and snug. But much of it was hurt by the crowd who, outside of two dueling chants, was flat. Hard to see this one as anything other than a disappointment.
The New Day wins the SmackDown Tag Team Championships
Daniel Bryan and Rowan take on Big E and Xavier Woods and Heavy Machinery. Lotta men in this here match. Two wrestlers in at a time, meaning the third team needs a wrestler from another team to tag them into the match. OK.
The match starts with Bryan and Woods going back and forth, ending with Woods getting a solid forearm strike in. Tucker, from Heavy Machinery, manages to tag himself in, sending Bryan out. Tucker and Woods go back and forth before Rowan tags himself in, sending Tucker out.
Rowan tags in Bryan, who puts Woods in a submission. The ref tells him to break the hold, but Bryan yells that it's no DQ. Daniel Bryan is one of us. But he tags Rowan back in. Woods gets in some offense and tags in Otis while Rowan tags in Bryan. Otis runs wild on Bryan. Oh yeah! He then does the worm, as in the breakdancing move, into an elbow drop. Fantastic.
Tucker tags in, while Big E tags Bryan. Big E, who by the way has the best Twitter game of anyone in WWE, hits a belly-to-belly suplex on Tucker, but Otis tags himself in. They hit a suplex/cross body tandem move. Rowan comes in, slams Tucker and hits a roundhouse kick on Otis. Rowan and Bryan tag team Woods on the outside. Rowan gets back in the ring, but is sent out by Big E. Big E then spears Bryan through the ropes.
Then, with four men on the outside, Otis goes for a suicide dive -- but stops at the last minute, steps through the ropes and cross bodies onto the tag teams. Tucker then does the same, but from the top rope.
They send Big E in and hit their Compactor tandem move, but Woods breaks up the pinfall attempt. He's promptly dispatched by Heavy Machinery, and Rowan comes in to take on Otis and Tucker but is hit with a tag team barrage. It ends with Big E double powerbombing Otis and Tucker from the top rope, and then a superplex on Rowan. Bryan, however, got a sneaky tag and locks the LaBelle Lock on Big E. Big E goes to grab the rope, but Bryan takes that arm and puts him in an armlock. Big E goes to put his foot on the rope, but Bryan grabs it for a leg hold. Awesome spot, but Big E makes the ropes.
Bryan hits Yes Kicks on Big E, but Big E hulks up and returns with a clothesline. He and Woods hit the Midnight Hour on Bryan for the three count. Bryan has lost two titles this year to The New Day.
Rating: 3.5 stars. Great action, Heavy Machinery shined and... Daniel Bryan, a huge star who has been confusingly booked as an everyday midcarder, got pinned. Can't have it all.
Braun Strowman beats Bobby Lashley
These two big fellows start brawling immediately, before the bell can even ring. Strowman beats down Lashley, who retreats to the outside of the ring. Strowman follows him, though, for his patented running shoulder ram. Strowman runs around the ring to build momentum for another shoulder ram, but Lashley counters with a big spear.
Between this and Lashley's suicide spear to Finn Balor at WrestleMania, we need to start an official Lashley vs. Reigns spear competition.
Lashley gets the "steel" steps and rams them into Strowman. Lashley hits him with the steps again, and Strowman tumbles into the crowd. Lashley follows him, and bashes him in the back with a chair. The two stumble into the merchandise stands of the arena. They brawl, and Strowman eventually suplexes Lashley into a merch stand. The announcers play up Strowman's condition, after he suffered an apocryphal spleen injury on Raw a few weeks ago.
These chaps make their way back to the crowd. Strowman employs ye' ol' shoulder ram, but moments later Lashley drives Strowman through the barricade. Lashley is a freak.
Lashley does a Strowman-esque shoulder ram to Strowman through the German announce table, and then dunks the table over Strowman for a 9-count. Strowman stumbles into the crowd, and Lashley follows him by leaping right over the barricade. Strowman catches him and chucks him into the international announcer area. Bad time for non-English announce teams right now. They brawl some more and get a light "this is awesome" chant.
They ascend the stairs, and Lashley actually throws a "fan" into Strowman (definitely a plant). Strowman bats him away and hits Lashley with a chair. Strowman hits a Powerslam off a ledge through...a strange... box... thing? Braun Strowman is the last man standing.
Rating: 3 stars. Some cool spots, but a lot of average brawling and an underwhelming finish. Crowd liked it, though.
Bayley beats both Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross
If Cross and Bliss win, they become co-SmackDown Tag Team Champions. The story here is that Bliss is just using Cross, but Cross, I guess a loveable idiot, is the only one who doesn't realize?
Cross begins with Bayley, but Bliss is quickly tagged in. Bliss then tags in Cross, who has a few exchanges with Bayley. The two wrestle outside the ring, but as Bayley stands on the apron to re-enter she's shoved by Bliss and hits her head on the ring stairs. Bliss and Cross work over Bayley.
Cross traps Bayley in the ring apron, and Bliss hits her with a sliding drop kick. Bayley, still stuck, gets a hard slap from Bliss. Another hard slap from Bliss in the corner. Bliss traps Bayley in a tree of woe and hits her with forearms. Back in the middle of the ring, she does some flippy knee drops on Bayley. They exchange strikes and Bliss hits Bayley with a kick. Lots of leg slaps here. Bayley hits a clothesline on Bliss and a suicide dive on Cross to start a comeback.
Cross tags herself in, but Bayley gets the advantage and body slams Cross onto Bliss. Bayley gets a leglock on Cross and a crossface on Bliss at the same time for a creative spot. Cross eventually regains the advantage after distraction from Bliss, and hits a Tornado DDT. Bliss gets tagged in and goes for a Twisted Bliss but Bayley gets her knees up. Cross tags in and also jumps from the top rope but gets a knee to the chin from Bayley. Bayley gets a top-rope elbow to beat both Cross and Bliss clean.
Rating: 3.25 stars. Everyone worked hard here and there were no botched spots or boring stretches. Bayley beating both Cross and Bliss clean is a huge headscratcher, though, as it kills both Cross' presumed eventual babyface turn.
Aleister Black defeats Cesaro
It's the Striking Man from Amsterdam against the Swiss Superman. This could be a great match.
Black goes for his Black Mass roundhouse kick straight away, but Cesaro ducks. Black hits him with a leg kick in the corner, and Cesaro counters with a snug European Uppercut. (In Europe, do they just call that an Uppercut?") Cesaro taunts Black with Black's own sit-down taunt, but Black makes him pay with a flurry of strikes and a springboard moonsault. Aleister Black is super good.
Black dominates Cesaro, and hits a head kick that, once again, went off like a gun shot. These guys love a good leg slap and I'm all for it. Cesaro fights back and does a spectacular springboard European Uppercut. Cesaro, too, is super good.
The two go back and forth, and Cesaro puts Black in a hold. Black fights out and hits another springboard moonsault. Black goes for a double-knee slam, but Cesaro catches him, throws him up and hits an uppercut. Amazing spot.
Black hits a series of kicks on Cesaro, and Cesaro goes for another springboard uppercut but Black counters with a mid-air knee strike. Cesaro starts selling his left leg, after Black has kicked it throughout the match. Black does a leglock takedown, but Cesaro counters it into a sharpshooter and transitions into a crossface. Black counters into a pinfall attempt for a 2-count and then hits a knee to Cesaro's face. Crowd chants that this is awesome. Sure is, Philly.
Black hits a few uppercuts on Cesaro, but Cesaro counters with a flurry of uppercuts of his own. Great intensity. Cesaro goes for a Neutralizer, but Black counters and hits a Black Mass for the win.
Rating: 4 stars. These two beat the crap out of each other. The crowd was into it because the action was outstanding, but the match was hurt by the crowd not really being invested in either character. Still, absolutely fantastic wrestling.
The Revival retains WWE Raw Tag Team Titles
After a bad comedy promo with Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins, The Revival are out to defend their Raw Tag Team Championships. The Usos cut a dual promo in their entrance welcoming us to the Uso Penitentiary. The Usos are great.
After back and forth action, with tags in and out for both teams, The Usos end up doing an over-the-top-rope dive on The Revival. The Revival double team Jey Uso on the outside, and The Revival tag in and out to work him over. No flips from them so far. Just fists. (And slams.)
Dash Wilder tags in Dawson, who cuts Jey off from Jimmy Uso. Jey eventually makes the tag, but The Revival distract the ref, who missed the tag and doesn't let Jimmy in. The Revival hit a backbreaker-elbow drop combo on Jey.
After countering a superplex, Jey tags in Jimmy for the hot tag. Dual Samoan Drops on Wilder and Dawson. Wilder cuts him off, though, and hits a sit-down Powerbomb. Wilder tags in Dawson, and the two try to double team Jimmy, but Jimmy hits a corkscrew moonsault on both. The Usos hit a tandem Samoan Drop on Dawson for a 2-count.
After some action, Dawson hits a superplex on Jey Uso and Dash follows with a top-rope splash, but Jimmy breaks up the pinfall with a top-rope crash of his own. Awesome spot. Jey Uso hits a superkick on Dawson that sounded like a gunshot, and follows with one on Dash. Jey hits the ropes for a plancha but gets leg dragged by Dawson, and The Revival hits a Shatter Machine for the 3 count.
Rating: 3.5 stars. Terrific wrestling, but held back by a crowd that was only semi into it.
The Undertaker and Roman Reigns defeat Drey McIntyre and Shane McMahon
The main show is kicking off with one of the card's biggest matches, featuring a rare appearance by The Undertaker.
Shane is out first, and makes the announcer introduce him as "the best in the world". Did you know Chris Jericho invented that? McIntyre, who looks like he's made of solid stone, follows. Reigns gets a decent reaction, followed by a huge pop for The Undertaker.
Reigns and McIntyre start. Michael Cole explains this is a no-holds-barred match, meaning no disqualifications, but the wrestlers still need to tag each other in and out. OK. McIntyre tags in Shane, the crowd boos. Reigns, after a few exchanges, tags in Undertaker. The crowd cheers. After some punches in the corner, Undertaker goes for Old School and crowd chants that he's still got it. We will see, Philadelphia, we will see.
After some action, Reigns finds himself in the ring being pummeled by Shane, and the McIntyre tags in and puts Reigns in an armhold. Reigns comes back with a Samoan Drop, and Undertaker gets the hot tag. He hits Snake Eyes and a big boot on Shane and clears the ring of both Shane and McIntyre.
Undertaker takes apart the announcer's table and sets up Shane for a Last Ride. Elias comes out of nowhere and breaks his guitar over Undertaker's back. Reigns fights him off, but eats a Claymore Kick from McIntyre. McIntyre then hits another Claymore on Undertaker. McIntyre looking like a killer.
Elias and McIntyre put Undertaker on the announcer's table, and Shane hits the flying elbow from the top rope through the table. Elias and McIntyre bring Undertaker into the ring, and position him in the corner. Shane hits a Coast to Coast dropkick. Greatest hits of Shane, here.
Reigns hits Elias with a Superman Punch, but McIntyre takes him out with a Russian Leg Sweep. In the ring, Undertaker sits up to a petrified Shane and hits a Chokeslam on him. McIntyre pops up behind Undertaker, but Reigns hits a spear on McIntyre. Undertaker Tombstones Shane and gets the 1-2-3.
Reigns gives the ring to Undertaker, and Cole tells us to breathe him in because we don't know how many more times we'll get to experience The Undertaker.
Rating: 3.5 stars. Undertaker clearly wanted to prove, after the disastrous Saudi Arabia match with Goldberg, that he's still got something. He did well here, didn't botch anything and never looked noticeably slow. The match was also helped by a hot crowd.
Extreme Rules's hour-long preshow had two matches, one of which crowned a new champion. Here are the quick results.
Shinsuke Nakamura wins the Intercontinental Championship from Finn Balor: Nakamura pinned Balor after a Kinshasa knee.
Drew Gulak retains the Cruiswerweight Championship: Gulak pinned Tony Nese with a Cyclone Clash.