Roman Reigns managed to hold onto the WWE Title against AJ Styles in the main event of Extreme Rules. It was a wild brawl with plenty of interference and a decisive ending as Reigns was able to pin Styles again. When it was all over, a familiar face returned, as former WWE Champion Seth Rollins laid out an exhausted Reigns and held up the WWE Title that Rollins never lost.
The Reigns/Styles match had an Extreme Rules stipulation, which meant that they could use weapons and brawl all over the arena, which is what they did. They brawled into the crowd. The event went over to the pre-show set where Styles took a bump on a glass table. Then they went back to the ringside area to destroy everything that they could with both guys showing the perfect amount of intensity the whole time.
— WWE (@WWE) May 23, 2016
Styles took some spectacular bumps during the match. At one point, he took a back drop off the German announce table at ringside that sent him through the English announce table. Shortly after that, Reigns launched Styles onto the Spanish announce table. Styles also took a few hard falls such as a Reigns’ Spear on the floor and at one point, he bumped off the top all the way to the floor in a way that looked like it really hurt. It seemed as though he was determined to put on a memorable show because he knew he may not see a main event for a while, and he certainly did a great job of it.
The interference from Gallows & Anderson helping Styles was predictable. They hit their finisher on Reigns, put Styles on top and then Reigns kicked out. Then The Usos came out, attacked Styles, put Reigns on top and Styles kicked out. It was a way to push the stories they told on television for the last month where it wasn’t going to be a true one-on-one match.
Styles came close to winning twice late in the match. Reigns kicked out of his Styles Clash finisher the first time. Then Styles beat on him with a chair, hit another Styles Clash (this time on the chair) and Reigns kicked out again. A frustrated Styles took to the air, jumped off the top for his forearm only to be caught by Reigns with a Spear, which was enough for the win.
Some fans will likely continue to complain about Reigns being booked like a “Superman,” although if you watched John Cena booked that way for the last decade, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. In terms of his performance, he did a good job. Styles worked over his knee a bit and while there were times where Reigns wasn’t selling enough, he sold it really well for most of the match.
It was one of the best WWE Title matches in a long time. I think it topped their match at Payback three weeks ago because the weapons and big spots certainly helped. There were a lot more believable nearfalls to build up to the finish as well. It was the best match on the show for a lot of people, although I liked the Intercontinental Title match more.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) May 23, 2016
The night ended with Reigns holding the WWE Title as Rollins made his return after being out of action since November. Rollins dropped Reigns with a Pedigree while the crowd cheered because they don’t like Reigns and they missed Rollins. With Reigns out in the ring, Rollins held up the WWE Title in an image that made a lot of fans happy because it could mean a new WWE Champion very soon.
As for Rollins, there was a backstage news story earlier on Sunday that Rollins was at the event and had been cleared to return to action. Just because somebody is backstage doesn’t mean they are going to be on the show, but in this case, there was definitely a belief that Rollins would show up. Kudos to WWE for saving him for the last two minutes of the broadcast as a way to build anticipation for what might happen on Monday’s Raw.
Rollins didn’t do a promo on the show about his return, but he did ask this question on Twitter.
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) May 23, 2016
Yes, we did!
Rollins should open Raw with a promo about his title aspirations. He was the WWE Champion for over seven months in 2015 and never lost the gold, so it makes sense that he would try to reclaim “his” championship. It’s likely that WWE will go with Reigns vs. Rollins as the main event of the Money in the Bank PPV on June 19th.
Over the next month, things should be more clear in terms of who is the face, who is the heel and how the match might go down. I think Rollins should be booked as a face because I doubt the crowd is going to boo him. It wouldn’t shock me to see Triple H show up to cost him since they have a history and it would make sense to do Rollins vs. Triple H soon. There are certainly plenty of options at play. I’m just glad Rollins is back.
Results From The Rest of WWE Payback
There were no significant in-ring promos or backstage segments during the show. It was all about the matches. Here’s a quick look at the other matches that took place.
Baron Corbin defeated Dolph Ziggler in a No Disqualification Match (Kickoff Match)
This was on the Kickoff Show prior to the three-hour PPV broadcast. It was a No Disqualification match where they worked for about 10 minutes without using a weapon. The only reason it was No DQ was to set up the finish, with Corbin hitting a blatant low-blow punch to the groin and then his End of Days finisher for the win. This feud is probably over at this point since they’ve had multiple matches.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson defeated The Usos in a Tornado Rules Tag Team Match
These teams have wrestled so many times in the last two months that it was hard to get that excited for the match. They still managed to have a physical battle in which they didn’t have to tag in under the tornado rules. I liked the way that G&A were made to look physically dominant with The Usos really selling the beating well. It was a clean win for G&A as expected in a match that went about 10 minutes.
Rusev defeated Kalisto to win the United States Title
Every title was on the line at Extreme Rules, but only the US Title changed hands. That was the right move from a booking perspective because Kalisto didn’t have much momentum as the champion anyway. Rusev needed to win the US Title again and did so in dominant fashion. Kalisto sold a bump off the top onto the apron in a big way. It made Rusev look really strong. That led to Rusev applying a vicious Accolade submission hold for the win.
Now that Rusev is US Champion again, it leads to this question: Could John Cena come back next week to face Rusev for the US Title like he did last year? It wouldn’t be a surprise if it happened, although if they want Rusev to have a long reign then maybe he should avoid Cena.
The New Day defeated The Vaudevillains to retain the Tag Team Titles
It was Xavier Woods and Big E working for the New Day. Usually it’s Kofi Kingston instead of Woods, so it’s nice to see Woods in there because he’s a talented in-ring performer as well. The Vaudevillains really didn’t have a lot of heat, nor did the crowd believe in them during that match. Their only significant moment was when they hit the Whirling Dervish finisher in their corner and Woods kicked out of it. Shortly that, Woods hit a running knee (sometimes called the Shining Wizard) for the win.
It feels like the next tag team feud should The New Day against Gallows and Anderson. That would be a strong title feud for the summer. It could also lead to a title change soon.
The Miz defeated Cesaro, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn to retain the Intercontinental Title
This was the best match of the night, in my opinion. Fatal Fourway matches can be difficult sometimes because they get repetitive. Guys hitting moves, covering for a pin and having another guy break it up can get really boring after a while. However, these guys managed to make it really entertaining. All four guys were able to connect with finishing moves or signature spots to come close to winning, yet they weren’t able to get that decisive fall. There were several “This is Awesome” chants while the crowd also gave them a standing ovation when all four guys were down around the ring.
There were several great near-finishes in the match, like when Cesaro had Miz in the Sharpshooter, then The Miz’s wife Maryse distracted the ref and the ref never saw Miz tapping out. Then there was Zayn hitting his Helluva Kick finisher on Cesaro, he went for a cover, and Zayn’s big rival Owens ruined the moment for him by taking him out of the ring. Zayn was furious. That led to Miz sneaking back into the ring, covering Cesaro and escaping as champion.
Kudos to all four guys for having a match that I think was the best WWE match of the year, at least on the main roster. I think Nakamura vs. Zayn in NXT was the best. It’s very possible that Owens, Zayn and Cesaro will be in the Money in the Bank match in June and that all three of them are viable threats to win. The Miz will probably have a new challenger for the IC Title, although if WWE were to put Zayn or Cesaro against him, that would be fine too.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) May 23, 2016
Dean Ambrose defeated Chris Jericho in an Asylum Match
It was the longest match on the show and also the most disappointing. Maybe it was a tough spot also, because it followed the classic IC Title match. They just didn’t do a good job of utilizing the many weapons that were hanging above the ring. It felt like a comedy match that was trying to be a violent match and it never really clicked. The fact that it went 27 minutes didn’t help either. The only high point in the match was when Ambrose brought thumbtacks in the ring, Jericho freaked out about them and of course, Ambrose was able to send Jericho into the tacks. Once that happened, the crowd loved it. Ambrose won clean with the Dirty Deeds DDT after. The guess here is we don’t see an Asylum Match again any time soon because it didn’t work.
That win for Ambrose likely ends this feud since he won both their PPV matches. If Ambrose is in the Money in the Bank match, he’s certainly a threat to win it. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to see what the “Lunatic Fringe” could do while holding the coveted briefcase.
Charlotte defeated Natalya in a Submission Match to retain the Women’s Title
This was another match which didn’t live up to the high expectations I had. It’s really the fault of the booking more than the performers. They should have had more time to tell a story because it felt rushed at 12 minutes. The last minute delivered a finish that led me to shake my head as they had Ric Flair’s music play, Natalya was distracted, and it was newcomer Dana Brooke dressed as Flair. She jumped on the apron, Natalya went after her, and Charlotte capitalized with the Figure Eight submission to win.
Why do they always book the babyface divas to be so stupid? Not only are they often alone for their matches against heels that outnumber them, but then they are made to look like idiots during match finishes all the time. It’s frustrating to watch. That’s two straight Charlotte/Natalya matches with bad finishes. I’m not sure if they’ll have another match or Natalya will have to feud with Brooke now, while somebody else like Becky Lynch or Sasha Banks goes after Charlotte. Perhaps it will be Paige, since she beat Charlotte non-title a couple of weeks ago.
Roman Reigns defeated AJ Styles in an Extreme Rules Match to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
The main event was covered earlier. It was one of the two great matches on the show. Reigns winning wasn’t a surprise at all. He hasn’t even held the title for two months at this point. If I had to guess, he’ll probably have a five- to eight-month WWE Title reign. They have built him up for years so he can have this run, and I doubt they’re going to deviate from that plan.
WWE Extreme Rules was a predictable show because if you read my predictions prior to the event, I got all eight match results right. I even predicted Seth Rollins coming back for it, but it wasn’t the exact same scenario that I laid out. Predictability doesn’t always mean a bad show. It just means that the current WWE product is lacking the excitement and “wow factor” that a lot of fans want.
At least there was a huge talking point coming out of the event because the return of Seth Rollins is a big deal. He made it clear he wants his WWE Title, so now we’ll likely get the match with Reigns that didn’t happen at Survivor Series because of Seth’s injury. Don’t forget that John Cena is back next week on Raw, while Randy Orton should be back within a month too.
Extreme Rules was an event that I had high expectations for that failed to live up to the mark. With that said, if you didn’t see the show and only want to watch a couple of parts of it, I highly recommend the IC Title and WWE Title matches. They were clearly the best matches.
Up next on the WWE pay-per-view calendar is Money in the Bank on June 19 in Las Vegas. It’s usually one of the best PPVs over the year, so let’s see what they have in store for us this year.