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I won’t be breaking any news in the next 800 words.
The eye-for-an-eye stipulation added to the Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins match at Extreme Rules is a horror of epic proportions. Not “horror” as a means to justify a forced and nonsensical “Horror Show” marketing tag line for the PPV, but bad. Awful in every sense and a high level of awful that hurts the story Mysterio and Rollins have told for the last two months.
Drum roll, please. On Raw this week, Rey Mysterio announced that the stipulation for their match in less than two weeks would be an eye-for-an-eye match. A logical reaction to the news would be rolled and squinted eyes in an effort to understand that madness. Yesterday, to alleviate that hardship for fans, the caring WWE brass revealed exactly what the stipulation meant.
The rules of the match state that the winner would only be determined by extracting their opponent’s eye.
Let’s recap. Months ago, Seth Rollins took out Rey Mysterio by squishing his eye into the sharp corner of the silver steel steps that sit ringside during Monday Night Raw. Rollins bragged about his accomplishment and applauded Rey for making the ultimate sacrifice to save the show. As weeks went by, Rey started his recovery and his son, Dominick, got involved to help restore pride to the good Mysterio name. Rollins attempted to injure Dominick’s eye in a similar fashion, but was outsmarted by the upstart wrestler. From there, an angry Rollins vowed retribution on Dominick, and his father stepped in to protect his son. This past week on Raw, Rey Mysterio won an impromptu tag team match over Rollins and his associate, Murphy, and his prize for doing so was the responsibility of picking the stipulation for his match against Rollins at Extreme Rules.
You can’t see it by reading that short description, but the entirety of this feud has been well executed from the beginning. If you put aside the phony eye spot and look at the work done within the program, it has been one of the most over angles on Raw each week. Within the story, Rollins has been able to heelishly channel his Monday Night Messiah gimmick into something tangible that has netted him a good deal of heat. Per the norm in 2020, Rey Mysterio has played the sympathetic babyface role like an Oscar winner with weekly promos that have carried the feud and, in some weeks, the Raw show as a whole.
Now, back to the real horror show. This stipulation severely hurts the Mysterio and Rollins program. Why? First, it’s unnecessary within the cadence of their feud and story. This is their first match. Let it breathe. The WWE needs hours and hours of content. In a scenario like this where the feud is clicking, go with it for a longer period of time. They are at grudge match level. Simply let them wrestle and if an “extreme rules” gimmick is needed, make it a street fight to accommodate. The match will be good ̶ both Rollins and Rey can shine and can set the table for future matches if that is the decided direction. The eye-for-an-eye match should always be a no-go, but if it absolutely needed to be done, wait until it can truly serve as a blow-off moment with deeper roots of hatred between both guys.
Second, that stipulation obnoxiously raises expectations for the match in all the wrong ways. Instead of talking about the Rey and Seth story, the nuances of the feud, what the match could look like, and how Dominick may or may not play into things, the discussion will hinge on the shock factor of “how will they do the eye thing.” Rollins vs. Mysterio is a big match and one that isn’t on the table for an infinite amount of time in WWE. They should be the focus. Instead, the match has a car crash element to it that dilutes the significance of them facing off.
Finally, and most importantly, nobody believes that Seth’s or Rey’s eye is actually going to get popped out of its socket live on the WWE Network. Outside of the obvious danger, medical impact, and trauma surrounding an injury like that, it’s not possible given what we know about WWE as a brand and not something that fans would really want to watch happen anyway. We’re not talking about a barbed wire bat to the back here.
The eye-for-an-eye match is the latest example of WWE not taking itself seriously and therefore hurting their ability to draw additional eyeballs (pun intended) and dollars. The stipulation erodes WWE’s already weakened credibility. When it comes time for them to put on a match with major stakes and with an impactful gimmick primed for the moment, they won’t be able to because fans won’t take it seriously.
Let the horror show begin.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S TAKE: HEYDORN’S TAKE: WWE must show patience with cinematic matches