LECLAIR’S WWE EXTREME RULES 2021 REPORT: Alt perspective detailed coverage of Reigns vs. “Demon” Finn Balor, Lynch vs. Belair, more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor

PHOTO CREDIT: WWE

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

LECLAIR’S WWE EXTREME RULES 2021 REPORT
SEPTEMBER 26, 2021
COLUMBUS, OH AT NATIONWIDE ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON PEACOCK (U.S.), WWE NETWORK (INTERNATIONAL)

Announcers: Michael Cole & Pat McAfee (Smackdown), Jimmy Smith & Corey Graves & Byron Saxton (Raw)

After the show’s opening video package, Jimmy Smith welcomed the audience to the show but was drowned out by the French announce team. Their audio continued to be mixed into the main broadcast as New Day made their entrance.

Smith commented that with the draft coming up, New Day could be broken up (again, I guess.) A.J. Styles and Omos entered to a strong reaction from the crowd in Columbus, Ohio. Bobby Lashley followed. The replayed Big E’s successful Money in the Bank cash-in.

(1) THE NEW DAY (Big E & Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. BOBBY LASHLEY & A.J. STYLES & OMOS

Xavier Woods kicked off the impromptu six man tag match with A.J. Styles. The crowd broke into a strong “New Day rocks” chant. A.J. Styles dropped Xavier Woods and smiled. He went for a suplex, but Woods slid down his back and tossed Styles toward the corner. Woods hit a quick chop, then shot Styles across the ring.

Woods went for a Russian leg sweep off a tilt-a-whirl, but Styles blocked it and tripped Woods into the Calf Crusher. Woods quickly made it to the ropes to force a break. He tagged in Kofi Kingston. Kofi ducked a clothesline from Styles and threw a trio of kicks. He went for an immediate Trouble in Paradise, but Styles ducked it and swept Kingston to the mat. Kofi sold a pulled hamstring, then tagged in Big E.

Big E flexed his pecs to the delight of the crowd. He and Styles circled the ring, building tensions. E flattened Styles with a bit clothesline. He threw Styles to the corner and asked for a tag to be made to Bobby Lashley. Styles obliged. Lashley and Big E traded punches. Lashley quickly got the better of the champion, dropping him with a clothesline then whipping him the corner. Big E battled back, tackling Lashley to the New Day corner and stomping him violently. E tagged in Woods, who continued the stomps, Woods tagged in Kofi, who finished them off. Lashley rolled to the outside to regroup.

Kingston dove over the top rope, but Lashley caught him in mid-air. Woods leapt to Kingston’s aid, taking down Bobby. Lashley and Kingston returned to the ring while E and Woods faced off with Styles and Omos on the outside. Lashley tossed Kingston clear across the ring. He drove his shoulder into Kofi’s gut repeatedly, then tagged in Omos.

Omos clothesline Kofi out of the corner. He scraped him off the mat and clubbed him across the back. The crowd tried to will Kofi on with another “New Day rocks” chant. Omos gave Kofi a stalling front suplex. He stepped on Kingston for a two count. Omos tagged in A.J. Styles, who grabbed a side headlock on Kingston. Kofi tried to fight free, but Styles elbowed him in the neck to cut off the comeback.

Styles got distracted by Xavier Woods. He knocked him off the apron, then jawed with the referee. Kofi caught Styles with a jumping double stomp. Styles tagged in Bobby Lashley. Lashley knocked Big E off the apron to prevent a tag. Kofi briefly managed to take control over Lashley, but he had no one to tag in. Woods eventually made it back to the apron, receiving the hot tag at around the 11:20 mark.

Xavier Woods launched himself onto Lashley in the corner, peppering him with quick fire strikes. Woods hit a tornado DDT off the middle rope for a near fall. Lashley fought back with a huge power slam for a near fall of his own. Lashley hoisted Woods onto the top rope. Woods managed to fight him off and connect with a big dropkick. Woods tagged in Big E. Lashley tagged in A.J. Styles.

Big E gave Styles a massive overhead belly-t0-belly. He knocked Omos off the apron. E gave Styles another belly-to-belly, then hit a running big splash. E hyped up the crowd. Styles killed the momentum with a quick strike to the face. Styles backed E into the corner and charged, but E caught him and carried him out to the center. He planed Styles and covered him for a two count.

E set Styles up on the top rope as the match hit 15:00. He went for a superplex but Styles blocked it and slid through the legs. A.J. wound up on the apron. E went for the running spear, but Styles leapfrogged him and caught him awkwardly in the back of the neck. Styles rolled up E for a two count. E set Styles up for a powerbomb, leaning toward his own corner. Kingston tagged himself in and hit a double stomp off the top rope.

Kingston covered, but Lashley broke it up. Styles tagged in Bobby. Lashley set up for a spear, but Kingston leapt over him. Lashley fell to the outside. Styles came into the ring and got backdropped over the top by Kingston. Kofi tagged in Big E. E tossed Kofi over the top, but Omos caught him out of thin air and dropped him with a right hand.

Lashley dropped Big E in the ring and set up for the spear. A.J. Styles tagged himself in. Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm. Lashley tagged himself in. Big E ducked the forearm. Lashley tried to spear Big E, but missed, connecting with Styles instead. Lashley walked into the Big Ending from Big E, who covered for a three count.

WINNERS: The New Day in 18:13

(LeClair’s Analysis: Decent enough match, but I dislike the idea of throwing an unannounced six man tag match on a Pay-Per-View and giving it 18 minutes. Just make the show shorter. This match could’ve happened on Raw. Standard six-man tag by WWE’s standards, though the final few minutes were exciting enough. The brightest take away here is simply how strong the crowds are getting behind Big E. He’s being taken seriously as a main eventer, and that’s great. Surprised to see E pin Lashley, which seems to indicate that they’re simply moving on from that feud without a Pay-Per-View rematch for the former champion. I suspect Lashley will be going on to lose to Goldberg before being shuffled down the card after Crown Jewel. Much harder to predict what’s next for Big E, though I suspect the draft may give us some clarity there.)

-Becky Lynch was shown getting ready for her first title defense later tonight.

-Out of a commercial, Michael Cole said it’s time for the “Smackdown portion” of Extreme Rules. The Street Profits headed to the ring for their tag team title match.

Michael Cole introduced himself and Pat McAfee. McAfee cleverly began speaking over Michael in French. He’s the only guy in the company who could get away with this. The Usos headed to the ring. Cole and McAfee talked about the injuries sustained by Montez Ford on Friday night’s Smackdown. Ford’s ribs were heavily taped.

(2) THE USOS (c) vs. THE STREET PROFITS (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) – Smackdown Tag Team Championship match

Angelo Dawkins began the match with Jimmy Uso. Ford quickly dropped Jimmy. “I’m here how!” Dawkins proclaimed. He gave Uso a quick dropkick, then an awkward shoulder takedown for a quick one count. Jimmy tagged in Jey Uso, who was immediately dropped by Dawkins.

Dawkins tagged in Montez Ford, who gave Jey a quick dropkick. Jimmy Uso returned to the ring, but both Usos were sent packing over the top rope by the Street Profits. A “we want the smoke” chant broke out. Ford kicked Jey Uso in the ribs, then clubbed him in the back. Ford took down Jey by the legs and mounted him for a series of punches. Jey hit the ropes and Jimmy tagged himself in.

Jimmy caught Ford with a kick to the taped ribs. Ford rolled out of the ring to protect himself. Jimmy followed, driving Ford rib first into the side of the ring. Back in the ring, Jimmy covered for a quick two count. He tagged in Jey. The Usos draped Montez Ford over the top rope with a double team front suplex. Ford bounced to the outside. Jey gave Ford a backdrop on the floor. The crowd chanted “we want tables.”

Jey ripped the tape off of Ford’s ribs and tossed him back in the ring. He gave Ford another back drop. “Damn right!” Jey exclaimed as the crowd booed him. Jey grabbed a grounded waist lock. Ford dragged himself to his feet as the match crossed 5:00. Ford tried to reach out to Dawkins, but Jey held him back. Ford caught Jey in the face with a pair of elbows, nearly reaching his partner. Jey pulled him back. Ford rolled through a back drop attempt and tripped Jey into the ring post. Montez dragged himself toward the corner. Both teams made successful tags.

Angelo Dawkins caught Jey Uso with a corkscrew elbow, then dropped Jimmy for good measure. Dawkins sent Jey to the outside. Jimmy tossed Dawkins out too. Jimmy leapt through the middle rope, but Dawkins caught him and hit a fallaway slam on the outside. Jey Uso tried to dive onto Dawkins, but Angelo caught him in mid air with an elbow. Dawkins slid back in the ring. Jimmy Uso climbed to the top rope. Dawkins met him up there and hit a superplex. Dawkins rolled through the suplex and into a twisting neckbreaker for a near fall.

Montez Ford returned to the apron and received a tag from his partner. Dawkins hoisted Jimmy into electric chair position and Ford came off the top with a Blockbuster for a near fall. Jimmy fought to his feet with a quick shot to the ribs. Ford tagged in Dawkins. Jey tagged himself in. The Usos hit a double spinebuster on Dawkins for a near fall.

Dawkins dragged himself to the corner. Jey Uso slapped him across the face, then gave him a running body check in the corner. Jey went for it again, but Montez Ford tagged himself in and caught Jey with a leaping knee. Ford went for the cross body off the top rope, but Uso got his knees up, rolling into a cover for a two count.

Dawkins tagged back in. Jey hit a super kick and tagged Jimmy. Jimmy hit the big splash from the top rope for a near fall. Jimmy tagged Jey back in as the match hit 11:15. Montez Ford tagged back in. The Usos tossed Angelo Dawkins into the barricade on the outside. Montez Ford flipped over the turnbuckle onto both Usos. Ford tossed Jey into the ring, leapt to the top rope and hit the massive frog splash. He hesitated to cover, selling the rib injury. Ford finally pulled himself onto Jey, but Jimmy broke up the pin at the last possible second.

Jey tagged in Jimmy. Montez Ford used the ropes to stand up. The Usos tried to give him tandem super kicks, but Ford moved. The Usos hit Angelo Dawkins instead. The Usos hit Ford with tandem super kicks, then headed to opposite corners for the double Uso Splash. Jimmy covered for a three count.

WINNERS: The Usos in 13:46 to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championships

(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match. Ford did an excellent job selling the ribs from Friday’s Smackdown, and the Usos did a heck of a job exploiting it in a heelish way. It’s hard to get really excited about watching these two teams wrestle, since we’ve already seen it so many times, but they certainly mesh well together. The Usos going over was the right move. There’s too much momentum with the Bloodline to ignore. I’m not sure we’ve seen the last of this feud, simply because of the lack of depth in Smackdown’s tag team division.)

-Bobby Lashley was shown steaming backstage. He called Big E a chickenshit, and dared him to defend the WWE title against him one on one with no New Day involvement. “I want my title back!’ he yelled.

-After a promo for Crown Jewel, the Raw announce team discussed whether or not Big E would accept Bobby Lashley’s challenge. They then tossed to a video package hyping the Raw Women’s title match between Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss.

Alexa Bliss headed to the ring with Lilly in hand. The announcers debated her ability to get the job done against the champion. Charlotte Flair followed in a new robe, playing off of Bliss’ split personality gimmick – half the robe was colorful, the other half was jet black and seemingly Venom-inspired. Mike Rome provided standard championship match introductions. Both women received strong reactions to their introductions.

(3) CHARLOTTE FLAIR (c) vs. ALEXA BLISS – Raw Women’s Championship match

Alexa Bliss tucked her hands behind her back and circled the ring. Charlotte Flair stared her down intently. A “let’s go Bliss” chant broke out. Flair immediately wagged her finger at the crowd. “Nope!’ he yelled. Flair took down Bliss with a headlock takeover and played to the crowd, who rewarded her with boos.

Bliss came back quickly, taking Flair down. She went for the DDT, but Flair blocked it. Bliss tripped her to the apron. Flair tumbled to the floor. Bliss rolled onto Flair, then posed on the steel steps for the crowd. Both women returned to the ring. Flair went for a lock up, but Bliss ducked it and twisted herself up in the ropes, toying with the champion.

Charlotte grew impatient, tossing Bliss to the mat and repeatedly slamming her head. She hooked Bliss up in the middle rope and wrenched, utilizing the referee’s full count. Flair caught Bliss with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a two count. Charlotte kicked Bliss in the black, then hyperextended her arms with a foot in the back. Alexa contorted her joints to break the hold, but Flair caught her with a kick to stifle the offensive attempt.

Flair stretched Bliss across her back. Alexa eventually fought out of it and gave Flair a hurricanrana into the bottom turnbuckle. Flair hit the cushion awkwardly, grabbing at her face. Bliss tried to keep it up, but Flair tripped her into the corner. She climbed to the top rope at the 5:00 mark. Bliss pulled the champion down, then dropkicked her to the outside. Alexa tried a baseball slide to the outside, but Flair caught her by the legs, ripped her through the ropes and swung her head first into the barricade. The crowd booed.

Charlotte tossed Bliss back in the ring and covered her for a two count. Flair covered a second time for two. She tried it once more, this time using the full force of her body weight. Bliss kicked out again. The announcers sold Flair’s frustration. Bliss rolled up Flair for a two count of her own. Flair popped to her feet and cut Bliss off with a big clothesline. Flair stepped on Bliss on her way to the top rope. She went for the moonsault, but Bliss rolled out of the way. Charlotte landed on her feet and hit a standing moonsault for a two count.

Flair went for Natural Selection, but Bliss rolled away from it and rolled up Flair for two. Charlotte countered into a roll up and two count of her own. Flair lifted Bliss out of the roll up and into a powerbomb for another two count. Flair climbed to the top rope again, looking for the moonsault. Bliss got her feet up. Alexa hit the Sunset Bomb for a near fall. Bliss headed to the top rope. She went for Twisted Bliss, but the champion moved. Bliss still caught Flair in a roll up for two. Alexa kept control, quickly hitting the DDT. Flair got her foot on the ropes in the knick of time.

Charlotte Flair grabbed Lilly from the corner. She tossed it at Bliss and then hit her with a big boot. Flair hit Natural Selection and covered for a three count.

WINNER: Charlotte Flair in 11:27 to retain the Raw Women’s Championship

After the match, Flair tossed Bliss to the outside and grabbed Lilly again. She ripped the doll apart. Bliss returned in anger, attacking Flair from behind. Charlotte made short work of her, tossing her over the announcers table and wiping her hands.

Bliss stood from the behind the desk after Flair left the ringside area. She screamed in agony at the sight of stuffing strewn about in the ring. She collected what she could of Lilly’s broken body. The crowd chanted “thank you Lilly.” Bliss scream-cried and left the ring distraught. She appeared to have some sort of white tablet in her mouth, and she began to drool a little as she sat and screamed on the ramp. Not sure what was going on there.

(LeClair’s Analysis: This was about what one should’ve expected. Flair dominated the match, but Bliss getting small flurries of offense that didn’t really make anyone believe she truly had a chance. I’m glad they didn’t attempt to bring the supernatural element into the match itself, and instead, had Flair literally throw the doll in Bliss’ face as part of the finish. I love Alexa’s commitment to the character, but I don’t think the gimmick has any real business being in serious title contention. I’m often critical of Flair and the company’s undying devotion to her, but this was more or less how this thing needed to be booked to keep the title in a serious position. Let Bliss come back to Earth for another title opportunity, or move her on to something else.)

-Paul Heyman was shown on his phone backstage. Kayla Braxton interrupted him, confidently asking who was on the phone. Heyman put her down, saying she must’ve been worried he was talking to “another journalist, or, just a journalist…” The Usos celebrated their way into frame. Paul told Kayla he had to go.

-Jeff Hardy headed to the ring. Sheamus followed, sporting his face guard again. Damian Priest entered last, with Jimmy Smith talking up his momentum in 2021.

(4) DAMIAN PRIEST (c) vs. SHEAMUS vs. JEFF HARDY – Triple Threat match for the WWE United States Championship

The crowd started a “let’s go Hardy” chant out of the gate. Sheamus kicked Hardy in the face as soon as the bell rang, sending him toppling to the outside. Damian Priest and Sheamus went to work on each other, trading stiff shots back and forth. They tumbled to the outside quickly. Priest tossed Sheamus into the barricade, then hit him with a quick uppercut.

Priest peppered Sheamus with punches against the barricade. Sheamus slumped to the floor. As Sheamus battled back to his feet, Jeff Hardy flung himself off the steps and onto Damian Priest. Sheamus quickly tossed Hardy into the corner of the barricade. He lifted Hardy onto his shoulders, but Hardy elbowed himself free and onto the apron. He dove onto Sheamus.

Hardy and Sheamus battled on the outside. Damian Priest flew off the apron, flipping onto both of them. He tossed Hardy back in the ring, then kicked Sheamus in the ribs. Back in the ring, Priest drove elbows into both opponents. He hit a quick Falcon Arrow on Hardy and covered, but Sheamus broke it up. The crowd chanted for Hardy again, then transitioned into another chant for tables.

Sheamus knocked Priest to the outside and hit the Irish Curse Backbreaker on Hardy in the ring. He outstretched his arms and taunted the crowd, who booed him loudly. Sheamus stomped at Hardy, then dropped him with a short arm clothesline. Priest returned to the apron, but Sheamus sent him packing again with a knee to the gut. Sheamus gave Jeff Hardy a big power slam. Priest returned to the apron. Sheamus set him up for the Ten Beats. He connected with a few, but Priest elbowed himself free and then hit a few of his own. Sheamus eventually broke out by stunning Priest across the top rope.

Hardy returned to the fold and took down Sheamus with an inverted atomic drop, followed by his signature double leg drop. Hardy went for a running splash, but Sheamus got his knees up and rolled him into a cover for two. Hardy caught another roll up, but Priest broke it up around the 7:00 mark.

Jeff Hardy climbed to the top rope and hit Whisper in the Wind on Priest and Sheamus. He covered Sheamus for two. Jeff dropkicked Sheamus in the corner. He went for a second, but Sheamus booted him away. Sheamus hit an Alabama Slam for a near fall. Sheamus’ mask fell off in the process. He grabbed Jeff’s legs and turned him into a Cloverleaf. Hardy tried rolling through it, managing to slowly make it to the ropes. He grabbed the bottom rope, at which point everyone seemed to realize simultaneously that there are no rope breaks in triple threat matches.

Damian Priest saved the submission, attacking Sheamus from behind. He kicked Sheamus in the nose and then leapt onto him. Sheamus caught Priest and hit White Noise. Hardy returned and hit Sheamus with the Twist of Fate. Priest grabbed Hardy, but Hardy slipped away and went for Twist of Fate on him. He fell backward, landing awkwardly and trying to course-correct with a dragon sleeper. Priest rolled to his feet. Hardy hit the Twist of Fate.

Hardy climbed to the top rope for the Swanton Bomb. Sheamus dumped him to the floor. Sheamus climbed to the top rope himself, mocking Jeff Hardy’s entrance dance. He dove onto Priest for a two count. Sheamus continue to rile up the crowd. He went for the Brogue Kick, but Priest ducked it. Sheamus still caught Priest with a double boot out of the corner. He climbed to the top rope again. Priest cut him off, grabbing him by the throat and hitting a leaping chokeslam across the ring. Priest covered. Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to break up the count. All three men were laid out in the center of the ring.

The crowd broke into a massive “Hardy” chant. Jeff traded punches with Priest. The crowd booed Priest. The champion went for a spin kick, but Jeff ducked. Hardy went for a Twist of Fate and was blocked. Priest leapt into a Brogue Kick from Sheamus. Hardy tossed Sheamus to the outside and pinned Priest, who kicked out. Sheamus returned and gave Hardy a Brogue Kick. Jeff fell to the outside. Priest rolled up Sheamus for a three count.

WINNER: Damian Priest in 13:21 to retain the WWE United States Championship

(LeClair’s Analysis: Wild match. The crowd was firmly behind Jeff Hardy the whole way, even booing Priest at some points. It certainly didn’t appear as though they actually disliked Damian, but rather, really just wanted Hardy to win here. This just worked – all three guys busted their ass with tremendous results. It’s a shame this feud, and this title, doesn’t mean more, as this could’ve come off even stronger. Sheamus continues to excel in these mid-card matches and feuds. Priest is outperforming what I would’ve expected to be his highest projections. Hardy, while incredibly devalued in recent months, still has plenty of star power and interest from the audience. They’d be wise to get him in a better position.)

-Big E was shown in the locker room. He said Bobby Lashley is whining about not being ready for the Money in the Bank cash-in. Big E told Lashley he better be ready at 8pm sharp, when Big E stands in the ring for his WWE title defense.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Great fire from Big E here, this is the kind of promo I want to see more of from him.)

-Cole and McAfee covered Liv Morgan’s win over Carmella on the pre-show.

-Bianca Belair was shown warming up backstage. Cole and Graves turned their focus to the Smackdown Women’s title match and tossed to a video package for it.

Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch headed to the ring, each receiving strong babyface reactions during their entrances. Greg Hamilton provided standard Championship introductions. Belair received primarily cheers with a smattering of boos. Lynch received almost universally cheers. A loud “Becky” chant broke out quickly.

(5) BECKY LYNCH (c) vs. BIANCA BELAIR – Smackdown Women’s Championship Match

An “EST” chant replaced the “Becky” chant once the bell rang. Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair circled the ring. Lynch offered a handshake, but Belair tried to punch her. Becky caught her in Rock Bottom position. Belair elbowed out of it and scooped Lynch up for the K.O.D. Becky escaped down the back and rolled to the outside to regroup.

Lynch returned to the ring for a lock-up. The crowd opened up a large, dueling “let’s go Becky/EST” chant. Lynch got the better of the challenger, taking her over and then catching a big knee to the midsection. Belair recovered quickly, giving Lynch a scoop slam and hitting a split legged splash for a two count. The dueling chant broke out again.

Bianca Belair bounced Becky’s head off the top turnbuckle. Lynch stumbled out of the corner, comically overselling. Belair took her down with a dropkick. Lynch rolled to the outside. Becky chastised Michael Cole for saying she has to regroup. “I’ve got a plan,” Becky said. Belair headed outside to slam Lynch’s head on the apron. She tossed her back inside. Lynch immediately escaped back to the apron. She gave Belair a cheap shot, then hit a seated neckbreaker for a two count.

“I’m the best!” Lynch declared to the crowd as the match hit 4:40. The referee admonished Lynch for her aggression. She begged off, then drove her elbow into Belair’s heart. Lynch tried to slide into Belair’s leg, but Belair caught her and scooped her up in a deadlift. Lynch grabbed onto Belair’s ponytail to regain momentum. “Cheer for the champ!” she told the crowd. Lynch draped Belair over the middle rope and drove her hip into Bianca’s neck and head.

Lynch went for the Disarm-Her but Belair powered out of it. She settled for the Bexploder instead, covering for a two count. Lynch grabbed a mounted chin lock. Belair eventually rose to her feet and dumped Lynch into the corner. Lynch continued to hold on. Belair hoisted her up and over into a suplex.

The referee began counting both women down. Lynch rose at 7, Belair shortly after. They traded quick blows. Belair backflipped out of the corner and hit Lynch with another suplex. She held on for a second, long, stalling suplex. Belair kipped up and swung her ponytail. Lynch retreated to the corner. Belair mounted her and delivered nine punches. Becky ducked the tenth and slid through the legs. Belair hit a spinebuster and covered for a near fall at the 10:00 mark.

Becky dove off the middle rope for a cross body, but Belair caught her for a fallaway slam. Belair covered, but Becky got her foot on the rope just before a three count. Lynch rolled to the apron and caught Belair with a kick. She climbed to the top rope. Belair climbed to meet her, but Lynch knocked her down. Bianca shot up, running back to meet Becky again. She grabbed her into military press position. Lynch fought through it and downed Belair into the Disarm-Her. Belair managed to quickly reach the ropes with her leg to break it up.

Belair rolled to the apron. Lynch grabbed her braid. Bianca pulled the champion to the outside. On the floor, Lynch countered Belair into the steel steps, then tossed her back into the ring. Becky climbed to the top rope and hit a leg drop for a near fall. Lynch hit another leg drop to the back of the neck and scored another two count.

Becky grew frustrated. She set up for the Man-Handle Slam again, but Belair blocked it. Becky tripped her into the Disarm-Her a second time, but Belair clasped her hands to avoid the full effect. Belair deadlifted Lynch up and into a spinebuster for a near fall, forcing Lynch to finally let go.

Both women rose to their knees, trading fully bodied elbows. Belair backed Lynch into the ropes with punches. Lynch pushed her away. They traded two count roll ups. Lynch rolled Belair into the Disarm-Her again, but couldn’t lock it in. Lynch deadlifted Becky with one arm. She transitioned her into position for the Kiss of Death. Sasha Banks appeared and attacked Bianca from behind.

WINNER: Bianca Belair by disqualification in 17:30, Becky Lynch retains the Smackdown Women’s Championship

With Belair dispatched, Sasha Banks came face to face with Becky Lynch. Lynch offered her a meek thumbs up and went for a handshake. Banks attacked her, delivering a backstabber. Banks’ music played as she glanced down at the title belt.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match with an anticlimactic finish. Lynch still appears to be getting back up to speed, and working heel in this match allowed her to slow things down and build toward Belair’s big, flashy comebacks. Bianca continues to improve and really shine in these big match situations, and the crowd settled into getting behind her after riding an initial wave of strong Becky support. I get it – they weren’t ready to take the title off of Lynch, and they weren’t ready for Belair to lose clean again. Enter Sasha Banks, the wild card who seemed like the odd woman out following her no-show at SummerSlam. As much as I generally like one-on-one feuds, I do think there’s a lot of story to tell with these three and I’m very interested in the inevitable triple threat title match down the road.)

-Cole and Graves confirmed that Big E will defend the WWE title against Bobby Lashley at the start of tomorrow’ night’s Raw.

-After a pair of commercials, Michael Cole and Pat McAfee talked up Roman Reigns’ historic reign as Universal Champion. Cole tossed to a video package covering his defeat of John Cena, the return of Brock Lesnar, and the emergence of the Demon Finn Balor as his next challenger.

-Greg Hamilton announced the main event as an Extreme Rules match, which garnered a big pop from the crowd. Roman Reigns entered. Cole said that at 391 days, Roman currently has the second longest run in the history of the Universal title. Reigns made his long, sauntering descent down the ramp and into the ring. Cole wondered if Reigns would look past the Demon, having his eyes set solely on Brock Lesnar.

McAfee said people have claimed Reigns could be overlooking every opponent he’s had since winning the title, but he’s a man who focuses on the now. The crowd built anticipation for the Demon as Reigns’ music faded out. Finn Balor entered, wearing an elaborate spiked headdress with streamers. He entered the ring and removed his kilt.

(6) ROMAN REIGNS (c, w/ Paul Heyman) vs. “THE DEMON” FINN BALOR – Extreme Rules match for theWWE Universal Championship

Finn Balor stood opposite of Roman Reigns, unfazed by the presence of the Universal Champion. Reigns locked up with the Demon and easily tossed him across the ring. Balor no-sold it. Reigns and Balor locked up again. Roman forced Finn into the corner. Balor quickly kicked himself out, briefly stunning Reigns.

Roman gave Balor a quick pair of right hands, but Finn shook them off. He climbed onto Reigns’ back and ripped at his mouth. Roman screamed in agony. Finn slid down the back and kicked Reigns in the back of the leg. Roman dropped Finn and created some separation. He clutched at his mouth. The champion gave Balor a quick Samoan Drop for a two count.

Reigns gave Balor a snap suplex for another two count. The crowd begged for tables. Reigns leapt to the outside and retrieved a kendo stick. He looked around the ring, but Balor had disappeared. Finn rose from the opposite end of the ring, bundle of kendo sticks in hand. Balor heat Reigns with the sticks repeatedly. The crowd roared in approval. Reigns retreated to the corner. Balor connected with a big chop. Reigns shrugged it off and tossed Finn to the outside after a pair of short-arm corner clotheslines.

Roman shut down the crowd’s table chant. He tried to retrieve Balor, but the Demon tripped him up inside the apron and stomped viciously at the champion’s neck and back. Balor wound up and hit a running kick to the face. Pat McAfee said Balor was channeling Justin Tucker, making that his third reference to the kicker tonight.

Balor tried to retrieve a table from under the ring, much to the delight of the crowd. Reigns cut it off and kicked the table back under the ring. He grabbed a chair instead. Reigns drove the edge of the chair into Balor’s ribs repeatedly. He went for a final, delayed shot, but Balor swept Reigns’ legs out from underneath him and double stomped the chair into Reigns’ chest.

Both men headed to the outside. Finn drove Reigns into the steel steps, then tossed him into the barricade. Balor retrieved a table from under the ring, garnering the biggest reaction of the night. Finn slid the table in the ring, then ate a Drive-By from Roman. Finn’s head slammed into the ring post on impact.

Reigns tossed Balor into the crowd as the match crossed 8:00. Roman asked for a mask from Paul Heyman. He put it on and headed into the crowd. Reigns tossed Balor onto the desk of the kick-off show set. He taunted the crowd. Reigns climbed on top of the desk. Balor fought back, knocking Reigns back to the floor. Finn dove off the kick-off show desk, onto Reigns, and through a table nearby. Reigns struggled to his feet. He and Balor walked and brawled back to the ringside area.

Balor tossed Reigns back in the ring and set up the table he brought inside earlier. Reigns cut him off, but Balor hit a quick spinning elbow to the neck of Reigns. Balor finished setting up the table. Roman recovered, grabbed Balor and slammed him through the table. He covered for a near fall just before the 11:45 mark.

A “this is awesome” chant broke out. Both Reigns and Balor struggled in the center of the ring. Reigns returned to his feet first, setting up for a Superman Punch. Balor ducked the attempt, but Reigns still caught him with an uppercut. Balor shook it off and hit the Pale Kick. Reigns struck back with a Superman Punch. Reigns covered for two. Both men laid dormant again.

Paul Heyman hyped up Reigns. “All day, every single day, I’m the head of the table!” Reigns screamed as he rose to his feet. He set up for the spear, but Finn kicked him in the face and hit the Slingblade. Balor set up for the corner kick, but Reigns caught him with a Spear. Reigns covered, but Finn shot his shoulder up just before three, low blowing Reigns in the process.

Balor hit a missile dropkick and sent Reigns tumbling to the outside. Balor dove onto him., then tossed Reigns back inside. Balor climbed to the top rope and hit the Coup De Grace. He covered, but the Usos pulled Balor to the outside just before three. The Usos tossed Balor into the barricade. They retrieved a table from under the ring.

The Usos scooped Balor up, but Balor fought them off. He tossed Jimmy into the barricade, then gave Jey a Slingblade. Balor powerbombed Jey Uso through the the announcers desk. Balor turned around and got speared by Reigns through the time keeper’s area. A “holy shit” chant erupted as the match devolved into chaos just past the 17:00 mark.

Suddenly, the lights flashed red and they began playing Balor’s intro again. After the long breath, Balor popped to his feet. McAfee exclaimed that he was back from the dead. The lights in the arena remained red as Balor’s music continued to play. Balor hit Reigns with a chair repeatedly. He tossed him into the ring post, then through the table at ringside. He tossed Reigns into the ring and climbed to the top rope. Smoke filled the ringside area, Balor’s music continued to play. He set up for the Coup De Grace, but stood on the top rope for what seemed like an eternity. Suddenly, the entire top rope exploded and Balor crashed to the mat. This cut Balor’s music and turned the lights back on. Balor sold a knee injury. He wandered to his feet and ate a spear from Reigns. Roman covered him for three.

WINNER: Roman Reigns in 19:39 to retain the WWE Universal Championship

Roman Reigns celebrated with the Universal title, sharing hugs with his cousins. Cole immediately turned the page, saying there’s a beast looming. He teased Big E vs. Bobby Lashley on tomorrow night’s Raw as the show went off the air.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Oh boy. Just completely ridiculous, unbelievable shenanigans here. I realize there’s a first for everything, but Finn Balor’s demon has never been able to resurrect himself from the dead at the sound of his own music, or command the lights to turn red, or for smoke to fill the arena. They took some ridiculously elaborate liberties with the character tonight to get a pair of visual wins that were all for naught. I don’t think anyone has any remaining belief that Finn Balor, demon or not, is going to be treated as a perennial main event talent. I realize there is cache in the Demon character, and that Balor was undefeated when he breaks out the paint, but if there’s ever a guy to break that streak without making it seem completely fluky, it’s Roman Reigns. The breakage of the top rope was horribly timed and ridiculous. Balor can withstand a three-on-one attack, sustain copious amounts of damage from The Bloodline and “rise from the dead” with ease, but is just completely overcome by…the top rope breaking? It’s just silly. 

Outside of the finish, I thought the match was largely solid. They did a good job of getting Balor creative offense against the much larger Reigns, and making you feel like he was in peril on more than one occasion. The first Coup De Grace – just before the Usos interference, was a great highlight and a believable near fall for Balor, really the only one he needed to come out of the night looking strong. It was a great visual win and was more than sufficient. They didn’t need to lean on the supernatural stuff to make this work.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: This wasn’t a bad night for wrestling. I thought every match was solid enough, though nothing completely knocked it out of the park. It felt very much as though WWE was just going through the motions to get through tonight and get on to the draft, Crown Jewel, and into Survivor Series hype. It’s not surprising, given the focus on TV for the last several weeks. This not-so-Extreme Rules was an entertaining enough night, but it felt inconsequential and rather uneventful overall, with some baffling, unintentionally comedic gaffes that bring the overall vibe and quality of the show down a notch or two.

 

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