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May 23, 2016

WWE 2016 Extreme Rules: Seth Rollins returns, attacks Roman Reigns

Wrestling WWE
052316_rollins_WWE WWE/Twitter

Seth Rollins returned to WWE on Sunday night and attacked Roman Reigns.

The Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. hosted the most extreme night of the year, or so WWE would want you to believe. Extreme Rules is the pay-per-view where the rules are bent and the lines are crossed, so I was looking forward to seeing what WWE had in store for us. And it turns out it had a lot in store for us.

Here's what went down on Sunday night at the Prudential Center:

No Disqualification

Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler

This might have been the most boring No Disqualification match I’ve ever had the pleasure (displeasure?) of seeing. This feud has been dead in the water for a while, but I can respect the way both Corbin and Ziggler try to make the most out of it.

The only reason they billed this as No Disqualification was so Corbin could clearly land a low blow on Ziggler in view of the audience and the referee, and then hit the End of Days for the win. And, thankfully, that was a short match.

Your winner: Baron Corbin

Tornado Tag Team Match

The Club [Gallows and Anderson] vs. The Usos

In this match, all members were allowed in the ring at the same time, so one could imagine the chaos that would be present during the match. As we could expect, the rivalry between these two teams was heated and it made for a fairly entertaining match.

Gallows retrieved the ring bell and was ready to put the Usos’ lights out, but they got to him just in time. Or so they thought.

The ending came when Jimmy Uso tried a splash attempt, but Gallows moved and Jimmy hit the ring bell dead on. Anderson gets back in the ring and he and Gallows hit the Magic Killer for the win.

Your winners: The Club

United States Championship

Kalisto (c) vs. Rusev

Kalisto wasn’t selling any of his “injuries” that he suffered from Rusev’s Accolade from last Monday on Raw, so right away I was already rolling my eyes. Pro wrestling 101, right? If Michael Cole is going to talk about how many injuries Kalisto dealt with, wouldn’t we expect him to, I don’t know, sell those?

Well, he didn’t.

Rusev reintroduced the Torture Rack, which used to be the finishing maneuver of “The Total Package” Lex Luger. I wouldn’t mind if he brought that back permanently. He’d be the perfect guy to use that hold, too. Though, I don’t see anything wrong with The Accolade at the moment.

The finish came when the referee kept checking on Kalisto, who was apparently injured, but Rusev kept kicking him and then locked in The Accolade, where he bent Kalisto backward and almost directly in half and Kalisto quickly tapped out, giving Rusev the United States Championship.

Your winner and NEW United States Champion: Rusev

WWE World Tag Team Championship

The New Day (c) vs. The Vaudevillains

Xavier Woods and Big E were the representatives for The New Day on this night as The Vaudevillians were trying to win their first WWE World Tag Team Championships since joining the main roster in April.

Aiden English and Simon Gotch have been impressive so far since they’ve been called up. They were one second away from winning the championships after they hit the Whirling Dervish on Woods, but he miraculously kicked out… somehow. I didn’t like that simply because it’s their finishing move and a month into their main roster stay and now they’ve already had a team kick out of their finisher.

Not a good look.

Kofi Kingston got involved on the outside and hit Gotch with Trouble in Paradise, and then Woods nails Gotch with the Shining Wizard to pick up the victory.

Your winners and STILL WWE World Tag Team Champions: The New Day

Fatal Four Way for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

The Miz (c) vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn

This was probably the best match on the card as there was so many near falls and so many good spots by all of the superstars involved. Once the bell rang, Zayn ran across the ring to Owens and nailed him with the Helluva Kick right away, sending the former two-time Intercontinental Champion to the outside. It was nothing short of awesome.

These four superstars had great chemistry the entire match. Miz teased stealing wins left and right, the one guy I didn’t want to win the match because I think he’s fine without a title, especially now with this angle with Maryse. We saw the usual spots with a combination superplex/powerbomb from the turnbuckle featuring all four men, the Big Swing from Cesaro (in which the crowd needs to stop counting in seconds when he does it, they’re supposed to be counting the number of turns, but I digress), and even Cesaro’s running European uppercuts from corner to corner to corner.

In the final moments of the match, Zayn nailed Cesaro with the Helluva Kick, but Owens dragged him out of the ring before the three count. With Zayn preoccupied with Owens, Miz snuck into the ring and stole the pin to retain his championship.

Your winner and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion: The Miz

Asylum Match

Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho

This match took forever to really get going. The crowd was dead silent, social media was blasting the match minute by minute by minute, and I can’t really blame either. The match was already looked at as sort of a joke with the weapons above the steel cage, and the commentators didn’t do a very good job in making us believe this was a bitter blood feud between Ambrose and Jericho, which it was supposed to be. Once Ambrose introduced the thumbtacks, business picked up as good Ol’ Jim Ross would say. Eventually, the weapons made their way down to the ring.

Jericho hit Ambrose with the barbed wire 2x4 in the stomach, back, and stomach again before setting him up for the Codebreaker, but Ambrose countered and threw him into the pile of thumbtacks. He then hit him with Dirty Deeds and got the win.

Your winner: Dean Ambrose

And so ended the first ever and hopefully last ever Asylum Match.

Submission Match for the WWE Women’s Championship

Charlotte (c) vs. Natalya

With Ric Flair being banned from ringside, the only way to win this match would be for either Charlotte or Natalya to give up in a submission hold. I thought this was a good match and we got to see the surfboard, and that’s one of my favorite submission moves, so I was happy.

Natalya was close to winning the Women’s Championship as she had Charlotte locked into the Sharpshooter, but the champion was able to reach the ropes. Natalya didn’t let go until Flair’s music hit, and out came was may have looked like Flair from 100 miles away.

It was, in fact, Dana Brooke dressed as Flair that distracted Natalya. Charlotte took advantage of the distraction and slapped on the Figure Eight and Natalya had to tap out.

Your winner and STILL WWE Women’s Champion: Charlotte

Extreme Rules Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Roman Reigns (c) vs. AJ Styles

Since this match was under the Extreme Rules banner, I had a feeling we would get somewhat of an old Attitude-like match that saw Styles and Reigns brawl all over the arena.

And that’s exactly what happened.

While it wasn’t totally in line with an Attitude Era pay-per-view main event, Styles and Reigns had another fantastic main event. Reigns has become the master of the close call at kicking out at a two count, and many people, including myself, probably thought Styles was going to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion at least three times.

After the obvious interference that Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and The Usos were going to provide, Styles went mad. He beat down Reigns with a steel chair along with Jimmy and Jey Uso, rendering them useless during the final sequence. After hitting Reigns with the Styles Clash on the steel chair, but him kicking out, Styles set up for the Phenomenal Forearm.

Unfortunately for him, and much of the crowd, Reigns countered the move with a monstrous spear that spelled the end of Styles as Reigns retained his championship.

Your winner and STILL WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Roman Reigns

But it wasn’t over. As the replays were being shown and Reigns celebrated, Seth Rollins made his long-anticipated return to action by attacking Reigns from behind with the Pedigree and holding the championship he never lost high above him. The crowd went absolutely nuts for this, and with good reason. Reigns and Styles have had a good build for the last month plus, but a Rollins-Reigns feud for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is absolutely what the fans want to see. And, of course, they want to see Rollins regain his title.

I’m not sure if that’ll happen anytime soon, but it’s great to see Rollins back.

And I only got one prediction wrong as Miz retained his Intercontinental Title. It was a good night for yours truly.

All in all, the pay-per-view was very good, borderline great if it wasn’t for the Asylum Match, but at least that match had a great ending. There’s really nothing to complain about, but I’m sure there will be people who will.

Raw tonight should give us more storylines and angles heading into Money in the Bank next month, and also build towards next Monday’s Memorial Day episode when John Cena will be returning. WWE’s starting to get its stars back. Will it make the right decisions, though?

Stardust released

Before Extreme Rules even began, WWE confirmed it had agreed on terms on the release of Cody Rhodes, aka Stardust.

On Saturday, Rhodes publicly said he had requested his release from the company via his personal Twitter account and would expound on the reasoning later. That came about an hour before Extreme Rules took the air on the WWE Network, as Rhodes posted the following statement on Twitter.

The statement reads:

“Setting foot in the dingy ol’ Greensboro Coliseum this past Monday can only be described for me as just a whimsical moment of clarity. At this point, most folks know that I have indeed asked for my release from World Wrestling Entertainment, but it’s paramount in my mind for the fans of pro-wrestling to have some answers and not be left with questions. A many superlative can be used to describe my mentor in wrestling, but one I often forget about is…fearless. And it’s a trait I wish more of had been passed down my way.

So there I was, standing in the very same locker-room Ric Flair had dressed in before changing the wrestling/PPV(closed-circuit at the time) game forever and capturing the NWA Title at Starrcade 83′, “a Flair for the gold”; it’s sad that after once again being benched off TV that my fate in said spot was instead to be relegated to watching a monitor advertising a returning star and kicking open my tumi gear bag to find an outfit I had long outgrown and a face-paint kit. Both HHH and Vince McMahon have given me many fun and challenging opportunities in my career, and I showed my gratitude by always pushing for the best segment I could create, the most interest I could generate. They gave me the chance to train on the job with some of the most brilliant minds in our world (gentlemen like Arn Anderson and Fit Finlay). I would do this job for free, but that didn’t stop WWE from always compensating me in a generous manner. My goal in pro-wrestling has always been to win the WWE Championship (the one accolade in the game my Father never obtained), and for a decade I tried to convince both Vince and HHH that I could be their star-player, their varsity quarterback if you will, but it seems we have reached the point where neither saw that in me. I sincerely appreciate HHH’s unflinching respect for my Father, and how he has acted as a custodian of history in honoring him since his passing. He did not owe me that same respect he gave Dream, but I thought I could earn it in time. One of the last discussions we had included him telling me that “WWE is a play, and everybody has their role and needs to act it their best”. All I can think of to say to that is, “the best actors don’t want the lesser roles.” In the past 6-months I had pleaded with WWE Creative and both of my bosses to let me roll-the-dice and once again be Cody Rhodes. I had pitched to every writer on the staff like a door-to-door salesman on “how” & “why” & “when”…and believe me, there are many of those who sought to help me (Brian James, Nick, Faz, J Russo, Dave K, JBL & Cole for letting me go wild on their YouTube show and a few others I’m sure) but for all that, both “head writers” of RAW & Smackdown (one pretending to be Brian Gewirtz and the other too busy hitting on developmental divas) continued to not return my pitches or e-mails, and in face-to-face encounters tried to big league me by pretending to be on their clearly powered-off laptops…barely willing to listen to an idea I considered beneficial to more than one talent. What’s that expression? Don’t take no for an answer…what do you do when you don’t get an answer at all?

So there I was…having done everything I could possibly do for ten years to make the most out of both large opportunities and even the half-cocked ones like “paint-up like your Brother”. Chicken shit into chicken salad became my specialty; and with those worthy opportunities afforded me…I can only hope I fully executed. I’ve made the walk down the ramp at multiple WrestleManias, and I have had a WrestleMania match canceled while I stood at the curtain moments before my music hit. I felt like I had a bag of those brass-rings and when it came time for me to cash them in, I find I can’t do so.

Like I said, Monday was whimsical…because I felt that fearlessness in my blood, even if just for a fleeting moment. I realized that I don’t need to sell myself to those two writers captaining a broken unrecognizable system, matter a fact with the time I had put in and the body of work I presented it should have been the other way around. I realized that blood is thicker than paint, that I know who I am and what I’m capable of…I’m not Dusty Rhodes. I’m a pro-wrestler. I am proud of that. It’s been said never to leave money on the table, but no money is worth being less than you are. Ask my wife, I don’t even read the check breakdowns…this was never about the money, this was always about the moments, and I’ll be dammed if my fathers legacy is “stardust” or a series of sizzle-reels for NXT. It’s not my job to pick up his sword. It’s my privilege.

I will miss many of the soldiers in that locker-room, some who I have earned their friendship. Guys like Cesaro, Zack Ryder, Tyler Breeze, KO, Harper, Kofi, Tye, the wasteland and the NC…keep that locker-room clean and keep having a better match than you’re supposed to, I do believe the cream rises and hard work prevails. My work just needs to be elsewhere. I want to thank both fans and critics of mine alike. There is no greater responsibility than having a fan who expects a level of entertainment from you, and there’s nothing more motivating than those who buy a ticket yet find something lacking (considering the first few CAW years of my career, I always took the criticism as more of a request and I made what adjustments I could for the overall product). Again, from the BOTTOM OF MY HEART…thank you. Almost one year ago, the biggest light in my sky was ripped away from me when I lost my Father. It’s time for me to try and seek that illumination…that glow that’s still out there. This is not goodbye. There’s a whole world of film and television and the state that I might find I have a knack for(maybe I even already got an offer). As far as the future is concerned though, I’m a wrestler. So that’s what I’ll do…wrestle.”

I certainly hope Rhodes lands in a place that gives him the fulfillment of a wrestling career redefined the way he wants. WWE isn’t where he’s supposed to be, clearly. But he won’t be gone long. We’ll surely see him in some other promotion having five-star matches with other tremendous talent. And I’m excited to see that.