The WWE Extreme Rules crowd in Pittsburgh overshadowed the main event match of Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins on July 15, and the fans watching at home weren't the only ones put off by the spectacle.
During the latest episode of Chasing Glory With Lilian Garcia, (h/t Cageside Seats' Sean Rueter), Rollins discussed how the crowd had an adverse impact on his opponent for the Intercontinental Championship:
"I know it really messed with Dolph. He was super out of synch from how he normally is. I was OK. I just let them do their thing. I knew we had 30 minutes and by the end of it, I knew they'd be invested in what we were doing and I think they were. It was OK, it was a weird one, though."
At the start of the 30-minute Iron Man match, WWE posted a running clock on the Titantron to provide the remaining time in the bout. Shortly after the bell rang, fans started counting down the end of each minute, not unlike what happens during the Royal Rumble match.
While that works in the Rumble match—when the timer counts down to introduce a new wrestler—it's less appropriate in an Iron Man match.
In response to the fan countdowns, WWE removed the clock, which only exacerbated the problem. The crowd started counting down at random intervals, independent of the actual time left.
There's no question the Pittsburgh crowd detracted from the pay-per-view and gave Rollins and Ziggler little time before turning on the match and ignoring whatever was happening in the ring.
With that said, the incident spoke to two big issues for WWE at the moment: PPVs have grown too long and overstuffed with matches, and the company is struggling to get fans emotionally invested in its stars.
Combine those two things, and you create a situation where fans might stop caring about the in-ring action toward the end of the show.
Bayley and Sasha Banks wrestled in a 30-minute Iron Man match at NXT TakeOver: Respect in October 2015, and the bout had the Full Sail crowd on the edge of their seats for the full half-hour. That's because NXT built the rivalry between the two wrestlers over months, and the match was the final chapter of the story.
Likewise, Sasha and Charlotte Flair had a 30-minute Iron Man match in Pittsburgh at Roadblock: End of the Line in December 2016, which was a continuation of their long-running feud. The crowd didn't turn on that in the same way they did Rollins vs. Ziggler.
As much as the Pittsburgh fans deserve scorn for hijacking the Extreme Rules main event, the general problem is unlikely to go away anytime soon.