WWE Extreme Rules 2020 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
WWE continued its slog through 2020 Sunday night with The Horror Show at Extreme Rules, a show almost too appropriately named given the company's television ratings and general audience apathy. It hoped the event would light a spark, rather than descend into a nightmarish abyss.
With the first-ever Eye for an Eye match slated for the show, not to mention a Wyatt Swamp Fight, the prospects did not look promising.
Would it be Rey Mysterio or Seth Rollins who lost an eye in potentially the most barbaric match in WWE history? Would Braun Strowman exorcise the demon that is Bray Wyatt from his mind? Could Dolph Ziggler finally win the major title that has eluded him over the course of his career in the form of the WWE Championship?
Find out the answers to those questions and more with this recap of the July 19 pay-per-view.
The announced matches for Sunday's WWE Network presentation were:
- WWE Championship match: Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler (stipulation not yet announced)
- Wyatt Swamp Fight: Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt
- An Eye for an Eye match: Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins
- United States Championship match: Apollo Crews vs. MVP
- Raw Women's Championship match: Asuka vs. Sasha Banks
- SmackDown Women's Championship match: Nikki Cross vs. Bayley
- Tables match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships: The New Day vs. Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura
Just two hours before the event, WWE tweeted that Kevin Owens and Murphy would square off on the night's Kickoff Show.
Kickoff Show: Kevin Owens vs. Murphy
The night's action started on the Kickoff Show as Kevin Owens and Murphy battled in singles competition, rekindling a rivalry that was the direct result of KO's issues with Seth Rollins.
Neither Owens nor Murphy wasted any time, taking the fight to each other from the opening bell. A big clothesline by KO flattened the Aussie, but the former cruiserweight and tag team champion defended a senton with knees to the back.
Owens recovered and delivered a cannonball in the corner for two. Murphy broke out a Meteora for a near-fall. The lightning pace of the match continued, with neither man really gaining a sustained upper hand over his opponent.
That changed with Murphy's use of knee strikes and a brainbuster. Owens fought out of a superplex attempt and delivered a picture-perfect moonsault for a two-count. KO sustained his comeback and picked up the hard-fought victory with the stunner.
Owens defeated Murphy
It's never a good thing when the night's action peaks in the preshow, but that could well have been the case Sunday.
In an unannounced, thrown-together Kickoff Show match, Owens and Murphy brought the goods and may well have stolen the show.
The back-and-forth, transitions and reversals kept the viewer invested. Even if it was somewhat predictable, the performers did a fine job of creating doubt that Owens would run away with the win.
Murphy again looked far better than his status in the company would suggest, and KO's hot streak in 2020 continued.
This was a fine way to start Sunday night's festivities and hopefully a sign of things to come.
Tables Match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships
Fueled by revenge after being put through a table by their challengers, SmackDown tag team champions The New Day took the fight to Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura early in their Tables match.
Big E obliterated Cesaro with a Spear through the ropes in the first high spot of the night. The champs looked to continue their hot streak when Big E sent Kofi Kingston soaring over the ropes and right into a table held by the challengers.
With Kingston neutralized for the time being, the challengers focused their attack on his powerful teammate. But the former WWE champion exploded back into the match with a Trust Fall that wiped Nakamura out.
The comeback was short-lived, though, as The Artist sent Kingston to the floor and Cesaro swung Big E right into the Kinshasa by his teammate. Kingston again hit back by taking out both opponents.
Kingston's own momentum proved costly, though, as Cesaro caught him in a hurricanrana attempt and drove him through a stack of tables for the win and the titles.
Cesaro and Nakamura defeated The New Day to win the titles
It may not have been as good as Owens-Murphy, but this was the second high-energy match of the night that exceeded expectations.
It would have been better with more of a coherent story, but if the Superstars can bring a reasonable amount of energy to gimmick matches like these, the results are typically very good.
Cesaro and Nakamura have been a solid tag team for months now and probably deserve a run with the gold, but one has to wonder what tag teams there are to work with them besides The New Day.
Jimmy Uso is hurt, The Forgotten Sons were tweeted out of relevancy and former champs John Morrison and The Miz are heels.
Expect this to be just the first chapter of this particular rivalry, if only because there's nowhere else for either team to go.
SmackDown Women's Championship Match: Nikki Cross vs. Bayley
Arrogant SmackDown women's champion Bayley saw her title reign flash before her eyes early in her defense against Nikki Cross Sunday.
The challenger caught her with a neckbreaker that put her down for a near-fall, then followed with a Tornado DDT that had The Role Model reeling.
A crossbody from the top rope continued the challenger's roll until Bayley sent her crashing into the plexiglass surrounding the ringside area.
The champion meticulously worked over Cross, slowing the pace of the match and making the challenger work at her speed. Bayley, though, took her eye off the Scot and paid for it as she fought her way back into the match and applied a crossface.
The champ fought out and delivered a Bayley-to-Belly but could only keep Cross down for two as frustration set in.
Cross hit back with a basement dropkick, followed by a running bulldog and delivered a ripcord neckbreaker for two. "I need you to pull it together," Sasha Banks implored Bayley from ringside. She piped in again, this time in disbelief when her friend failed to put her opponent away.
Cross executed a perfect draping, twisting neckbreaker on the floor. Back inside, the Scot scored another two-count as concern painted the face of Banks.
The Boss distracted the referee, slid Bayley her "Boss" knuckle ring. and the champion used it to stun Cross. A face plant followed, and the champion successfully retained her title three seconds later.
Bayley defeated Cross
The storytelling in this one was off the charts.
From Bayley using Cross' ring-apron spot against her to the Scot recalling the champion's old taunts moments later, there were more than a few clever callbacks.
The strength of this match, though, was Bayley's mounting frustration with her inability to put the lively Cross away. She was so confident she would roll over her challenger and when it didn't happen, she grew more and more concerned, all the way to the point that Banks had to cheat on her behalf for her to retain her title.
It would be interesting to see later in the show if Bayley would be there for Banks to the same extent, or if the SmackDown champion isn't quite as invested in the friendship as she is in The Boss' contributions to her own success.
United States Championship Match: Apollo Crews vs. MVP...Maybe?
Commentator Tom Phillips announced Apollo Crews was not able to pass his pre-match physical due to injury and would be unable to defend his United States Championship against MVP Sunday night.
The braggadocios heel made his way to the ring, alongside Bobby Lashley, and urged his charge not to apply his trademark Full Nelson to such an extent that it impeded MVP's own career advancement.
He declared himself the winner by forfeit and the new United States Champion.
Crews has not been on TV for weeks. If you take the excuse at face value, that he was hurt weeks ago and unable to compete, you have to wonder why WWE continued to advertise him up to this point.
If his absence is related to the COVID-19 pandemic, you again have to ask why the company continued to advertise him knowing he would be unable to appear.
While that is questionable, even shady booking, the silver lining is that it allows MVP to continue building heat and enjoy the career renaissance he has found in 2020.
An Eye for an Eye: Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins
A match in which the only way to win is to gouge your opponent's eye out inexplicably began with Irish Whips as Seth Rollins and Rey Mysterio did battle in the most surreal match in recent WWE history...and that includes the Firefly Funhouse match.
As he slowed his opponent's momentum, Rollins methodically began his targeting of the eye. He sent Mysterio sternum-first onto a table, driving the air out of him.
"None of this would have happened if you would have just listened!" The Monday Night Messiah exclaimed as he grabbed a chair and threatened to drive it into the veteran's eye.
Rollins retrieved tool after tool, weapon after weapon in an attempt to win the match but quickly found himself on the defensive.
Back in the ring and having halted Mysterio's momentum, he lodged a kendo stick in the corner and tried to send the future Hall of Famer into it. The Master of the 619 fought him off and ignited a babyface comeback of sorts. He delivered a seated senton and followed with a frog splash.
Hoisted on Rollins' shoulders, Mysterio used a kendo stick to break his opponent's grip and then sent the heel crashing into the barricade. He broke apart the kendo stick and dug it into the face of his opponent, trying to dislodge Rollins' eyeball.
He followed with a 619. Mysterio delivered a stomp to Rollins, giving him a taste of his own medicine. Removing the black patch from his mask, he drove his rival's eye into the ring steps. The Monday Night Messiah, though, delivered a perfectly timed low-blow. A sickening kick directly to the face followed and a stomp appeared to spell the end of the veteran.
The match ended with Rollins driving Mysterio's face into the steps and the referee calling for the bell. The victor vomited, clearly haunted by the imagery as the referees helped The Master of the 619 to the back.
The NXT recruits at ringside jeered The Monday Night Messiah, who sulked to the back with the look of a tormented man.
Rollins defeated Mysterio
Had this been a straightforward No Disqualification match, this would have been a banger and one of the better bouts on PPV this year.
Handcuffed by the gimmick, though, it featured uneven psychology, such as Mysterio looking for his typical lucha libre offense in a match where he should have been targeting the eye of his opponent.
He did eventually, but it took a while to get there.
Still, the in-ring aspect of the match was infinitely better than it had any right to be with the stipulation hovering overhead like it did.
It does deserve credit for one thing: It was not nearly as ridiculous or over the top as it could have been. WWE kept the finish relatively rooted in reality, rather than relying on CGI or gimmicking things up to such an extent that the finish lost its impact.
One thing that made no sense, though? Rollins being so stricken by the effects of his actions when he essentially did the same thing to set this whole ordeal up. Hopefully, his reaction ties into his character going forward because that may well be the silver lining of this whole thing.
Raw Women's Championship Match: Asuka vs. Sasha Banks
Just an hour after she helped Bayley retain the SmackDown Women's Championship over Nikki Cross, Sasha Banks looked to add gold of her own as she challenged Asuka in singles competition, with Bayley and Kairi Sane watching on from ringside.
Banks looked for the Bank Statement early but Asuka escaped. Later, she tried for a sunset flip bomb but the Raw women's champion stomped out of it and blasted her with a sliding knee to the face.
The Boss weathered the storm and reasserted dominance, targeting the arms of The Empress of Tomorrow. Bayley added words of encouragement from ringside as the challenger teed off on the shoulder of her opponent. Double knees to the midsection continued The Blueprint's onslaught.
Asuka rocked Banks and followed up with a codebreaker. The challenger evaded the hip attack and teased a German suplex off the apron. The champion elbowed out and then tried for one of her own. Banks escaped and powerbombed The Empress into the plexiglass at ringside.
Banks delivered the frog splash and then transitioned into the Bank Statement. Asuka grabbed the rope, forcing her opponent to break the hold.
Building momentum for herself, the Raw titleholder delivered a release German suplex, then another as she folded Banks up. The running hip attack followed but The Boss escaped the pin at two.
The fight headed up top, where the challenger fought out of a superplex and dropped Asuka to the mat. Banks took too much time and the champion recovered. She tried for a German suplex off the top but The Boss landed on her feet.
Banks slipped off the ropes and immediately sold her knee. "I have to be the champion," she yelled at Asuka while nursing the joint.
Asuka teed up the Asuka Lock, but Bayley provided a distraction. At ringside, The Role Model dropped Sane with a Bayley-to-Belly while a series of counters and reversals played out inside the ring. Bayley tried everything she could to interfere but ate a kick for her troubles.
Asuka then blew her green mist into the eyes of the official when Banks ducked, and Bayley blasted the champion with a title. The SmackDown champion removed the referee's shirt, counted the pin and declared Banks the new champion as confusion reigned.
Sasha won? (Insert shrugging emoji here)
A+ match, D- finish
This match, the wrestlers involved and the fans watching at home deserved better than this convoluted finish. As usual, WWE completely overthought things to the extent that the finish severely hampered the overall quality of a contest that was heading toward Match of the Year candidacy.
We get it: Bayley and Banks cheat. To overbook and muddy the waters in this manner did a great disservice to two women having a hell of a wrestling match. There was nothing on this show, or any of the post-WrestleMania 36 events, that matched what they did from a quality standpoint.
Then, the finish.
There will probably be a rematch, maybe as soon as Monday's Raw, but Banks and Asuka will have a difficult time finding the same flow they had Sunday night.
Sure, from a storyline standpoint, it fit, but there were better ways to accomplish the same thing, including, but not limited to, absolutely anything else.
WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler announced a lopsided match stipulation, revealing Extreme Rules for himself only and that the WWE Championship would change hands if Drew McIntyre was counted out or disqualified.
It didn't affect The Scottish Psychopath, though, who brutalized and tossed his contender around the ringside area early and often.
"I can do this all damn night," he said as he taunted his opponent. Ziggler answered with a totally acceptable low blow and blasted the champion with a steel chair.
The titleholder recovered and tossed The Showoff over the announce table. A Fameasser from the table then stunned McIntyre and left him in urgent need of beating the referee's count.
Again, the challenger's offense was short lived as McIntyre pummeled him around the ringside area. He set him up for the Claymore Kick, only for The Showoff to blast him with a chair to the knee and score a near-fall off of it.
Ziggler climbed the ropes and drove McIntyre through a table with a big elbow drop. He then screamed in disbelief as the Scot rolled back into the ring, avoiding the countout loss.
The champion rocked Ziggler with the Glasgow Kiss, but the challenger answered with a Fameasser, Zig-Zag and uranage, all for another two-count that further incensed the heel.
McIntyre then kipped up, delivered the Claymore and scored a resilient win.
McIntyre defeated Ziggler
The psychology behind this match elevated it.
Ziggler pulling out everything he could and stacking every deck imaginable against McIntyre only to fail at the end of a Claymore Kick was an easy-to-follow story that helped with the overall quality.
This was The Showoff's best performance in years, and the Scot sold his offense like a pro. The result was just a solid, smartly wrestled match that people will wrongly forget about Monday night when WWE starts the march to SummerSlam and McIntyre's showdown with Randy Orton.
Wyatt Swamp Fight: Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt
The Wyatt Swamp Fight started off inauspiciously enough, with Braun Strowman pulling up to the entrance of the swamp in his truck and coming face-to-face with Bray Wyatt.
Then...things got weird.
Strowman was kidnapped, preached to and bitten by a snake; he saw temptation in the form of Alexa Bliss as Sister Abigail; and he sent Wyatt away in a dilapidated boat, only for it to return with nothing in it.
Wyatt nearly drowned the universal champion and then assaulted him with an oar, unleashing his frustration and fury on The Monster Among Men before letting out a blood-curdling scream.
"Look what you made me do. I didn't want this," Wyatt said as Strowman rose up and kicked him into the swamp.
Just when Strowman thought it was over, Wyatt emerged from the swamp and pulled his rival in using the Mandible Claw. The Fiend then emerged from the dark, watery abyss, and Wyatt's haunting laugh sent the show to black.
Wyatt was made for the world of cinematic wrestling. His character works so well in this environment and allows him to flex his creativity outside of the confines of the squared circle.
Like John Cena at WrestleMania 36, this was Strowman's descent into his own personal hell, perpetrated by a psychological master far more advanced than he or anyone else can imagine.
The storytelling here, complete with the excellent callback involving Bliss and her friendship with The Monster Among Men, was top notch and easily ranks as the best thing Strowman has been a part of from that perspective.
That it culminated with the one thing he was clearly terrified of, the reemergence of The Fiend, was the icing on the cake.
Strowman now faces the reality of a title defense against a force unstoppable anyone on this side of 1990s WCW.
We have been waiting for The Fiend to rear its head in this rivalry, and now that it has, it appears Wyatt is preparing to resume his role as the demonic face of SmackDown.