WWE Extreme Rules wasn’t the perfect event, but given the current landscape of RAW and Smackdown, the event is a big win for fans in terms of getting to the point where events are more “must see”.

The Big Dog Supplanted

Whether you like Roman Reigns as a performer or not, the way he has been utilized the past few years has gotten a bit tired. The way in which WWE made it very obvious that they wanted him to be the one to ultimately defeat Brock Lesnar for the championship was very apparent, and it felt like we were biding our time until they decided Lesnar had held it long enough (read: until he exceeded CM Punk’s streak to a sufficient length).

And now Bobby Lashley has something to say about whose “yard” it is.

Do I want Bobby Lashley to be the top guy in WWE? Not a chance, because he’s honestly not very charismatic at all. Yet, with him taking the driver’s seat in the conversation about who is going to get their hands on Brock Lesnar, potentially at Summer Slam, things get more interesting.

The Tag Team Divisions Bolstered

It wasn’t too long ago that The New Day and The Usos were the only two legit threats in the tag team divisions. The way Extreme Rules played out, we get more credible teams than before it started.  Though it was on the pre-show, Sanity defeating The New Day is significant, with the trio fresh from NXT defeating the most popular team over the past three years, world-wide, bar none (Bullet Club included)! The Buldgeon Brothers retaining against Team Hell No is of massive benefit to Harper and Rowan, getting a signature win over arguably the most OVER competitor in the WWE today. It wasn’t too long ago that they were second fiddle to Bray Wyatt and were hardly ever scoring victories in meaningful matches. Now they’ve extended their title reigns.

Oh, right, speaking of title reigns and Bray Wyatt, how ’bout that B-Team?! When they won the Battle Royal to become #1 contenders, it seemed like a nice little opportunity for Bray to face his real-life brother Bo in a somewhat meaningful match on an albeit second-tier (or third?) monthly event. Bo and Axel have done well as bit players as they supported The Miz as his stooges, and it’s great that they’re getting rewarded with the gold. Now there are no fewer than 7 interesting teams in WWE’s tag division, and had the event gone another way, three of them might still be clearly relegated to a secondary tier.

The Right Women Chosen

As I saw that Nia Jax and Asuka were the contenders to face Alexa Bliss and Carmella, respectively, I figured we were potentially about to end up with either one or both of the titles switching hands to a competitor who is significantly less compelling than the ones who walked into the event with the straps. I figured Alexa Bliss was more likely of the two to keep her championship because WWE clearly showed they don’t know how to use Jax, having switched her back and forth from face to heel back to face in just a few months. And it’s only a matter of time before Asuka goes on a run where she holds one of the Women’s Championship belts for a record length of time, and Carmella has gotten really good at playing the heel who is clearly less talented than the challenger coming for her yet keeps her abundance of confidence. And now Carmella becomes even more effective in the role as she extends her title reign.

Setting things up between Alexa Bliss and Ronda Rousey for SummerSlam? Excellent. Rousey may have lost some of the momentum she had when she first got to WWE, but her aftermath involvement at Extreme Rules definitely helps get back on track. For now, the two heels can drive their feuds towards the big event.

The Smackdown Title Scene

Oh how happy I was to see Shinsuke Nakamura facing Jeff Hardy at Extreme Rules instead of yet again getting Nakamura vs AJ Styles. The fact that Jeff Hardy held the United States Championship gave me hope that Nakamura might dwell in that title scene for a month or two and extend the reprieve from the continuation of the feud with Styles. Imagine my surprise (and elation) when Nakamura cemented the reprieve by defeating Jeff Hardy for the US Championship! This gives us the opportunity to see Nakamura face other opponents, while holding a championship, which should help fans get a better idea for what he’s all about than they did during his repetitive feud with Styles.

Oh, and Rusev getting the shot at AJ Styles and that championship?! GOLDEN! Yeah, Rusev came up short, which is fine, but at least he finally got his title match atop the card, something that has been a long time coming. It also signals that someone backstage is listening to the fans and giving a fan favorite the opportunity to shine in brighter lights.

Playing Fields Leveled

For a while, Baron Corbin was on a run which I felt was a bit short-sighted, and frankly, which didn’t pay off for WWE in the short-term. He didn’t have anything resembling a good feud back when he was just destroying Dolph Ziggler, nor when he had what I would consider to be transitional “feuds” with Nakamura and then John Cena. After becoming the “Constable of RAW” as the personal representative for Stephanie McMahon, I figured this signaled that Corbin was going to go back to his winning ways.  As it turns out, I was totally wrong to be disappointed-in-advance, because Finn Balor DID NOT lose to Corbin, and takes a step up the card as he keeps Corbin from doing so.

Kevin Owens was, at one point, the best heel in WWE. That sort of accolade doesn’t stay if the person can’t win a match, and he was floundering for a bit. When I saw that he was facing Braun Strowman at Extreme Rules in a Cage Match, I disappointingly resigned myself to the fact that this was just another way to prove just how dominant Strowman was… and yet again, I am happy to admit that I was wrong! The right person won the match, even if Kevin Owens did get completely destroyed in the process.

Both of these outcomes goes a long way towards making the main event scenes far more interesting. Had Kevin Owens simply lost outright, he loses any sort of bragging rights or momentum, and he’s a lesser heel than he is today. Finn Balor takes a huge step back from his quest to regaining the Universal Championship if he loses to Baron Corbin. And yet, while I would have been happy with either of the two of them winning their respective matches, to have both of them win sets things up for WWE to tell more interesting storylines with great competitors going forward. Braun Strowman doesn’t actually lose any momentum, given how he destroyed Owens, and Corbin… ah, who cares about Baron Corbin. As the flunkie mouthpiece for Lady McMahon-Helmsly, he can call his shots any way he wants to, and he gets even more heel heat if the fans have historical “ammo” to show that any opportunity he gifts himself is unwarranted.

Intercontinental Champion Elevated

I’m not thrilled that there were 8 “falls” in a 30 minute Iron Man match. It took half that amount of time for AJ Styles to get one fall on Rusev in the penultimate match of the night… you’re telling me that there would be 7 more if they kept going for another 15 minutes? It just seems cheap. That said, the match going to a sudden-death “overtime” is good stuff, and having Dolph Ziggler retain the championship is the absolute correct decision here. Seth Rollins doesn’t need YET ANOTHER accolade, but Ziggler needs more wins like this over competitors of Rollins’ stature to help elevate him up the card where he should be. If Rollins had won here, it would have all but negated Ziggler’s win back on June 18th when he won the championship for the sixth time, especially because the only way he retained in their first rematch was because of Drew McIntyre’s interference.