01/03/2024

Bray Wyatt makes his return to the WWE. (Picture: WWE)

For numerous weeks on WWE television, there were multiple vignettes surrounding a ‘white rabbit’, and there was great suspense about what they were all eventually going to lead to. At Extreme Rules, it was revealed as the return of fan favourite and former world champion, Bray Wyatt.

The former WWE and Universal Champion made his appearance after the main event concluded, as the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania turned dark before the tune of “he’s got the whole world in his hands” rang through the arena.

Human versions of the Firefly Funhouse then emerged in the attendance and the camera panned towards an abandoned funhouse, before Wyatt finally walked through a door at the top of the stage with a signature lantern.

The WWE Universe let out an almighty pop, 14 months after Bray was released by the company. It’s unclear what his direction on television will be, but it is certain he will have more freedom with his character and storylines with the new administration in charge.

While it was the most talked about topic of Extreme Rules, six matches took place beforehand and there were two standouts. The four other contests were unfortunately underwhelming, as the show had an exciting build in the lead-up.

It was still refreshing to see that every match on the show had a stipulation attached, which is a concept the former regime were against when booking Extreme Rules.

The Inner Sanctum has reviewed and recapped each match, giving a score out of five to every contest.

The Brawling Brutes beat Imperium as a consolation prize for Sheamus’ Intercontinental Title defeat

(Picture: WWE)

To open Extreme Rules, The Brawling Brutes competed against Imperium in a good old fashioned donnybrook match. The former were looking to avenge Sheamus’ controversial Intercontinental Championship loss to Gunther the night before on Smackdown.

The two teams brawled immediately as the bell rang, having feuded since Clash at the Castle last month. Imperium dominated early in the piece, always ensuring they had a numerical advantage by delivering three-on-one assaults to their opponents.

The crowd were dissatisfied with how The Brawling Brutes were being controlled, until Sheamus eventually equalised the situation by removing Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci from the picture. It was then looking good for the Brutes, as Sheamus delivered an emphatic brogue kick to Gunther.

The Celtic Warrior pinned The Ring General, but did not receive the three-count as Vinci stopped it with a springboard splash. Sheamus soon after applied a clover leaf to Gunther, but the Intercontinental Champion was saved again with Kaiser hitting the Celtic Warrior with a shillelagh.

After both groups recuperated in the ring, Kaiser and Vinci aimed to put Sheamus through the announce table until Butch hit his opponents with a moonsault from the top of a barrel.

It opened the door for the Celtic Warrior to turn his attention back to Gunther, but the Intercontinental Champion struck Sheamus with the shillelagh.

The former WWE Champion was pinned, but was able to kick out and soon after, delivered a Celtic cross to Gunther through the announce table at ringside. The Ring General was out of the equation, before Sheamus hit Vinci with a brogue kick for the win.

It was a highly entertaining match and the right choice to start Extreme Rules, as the rivalry will more than likely continue from here. This feud has not only allowed for Imperium to receive main roster exposure after reforming last month, but has also turned The Brawling Brutes into a lovable faction.

Rating: 4/5

Ronda Rousey wins back Smackdown Women’s Championship in slog

(Picture: WWE)

In the second match of the night, Liv Morgan defended her Smackdown Women’s Championship against Ronda Rousey. Many were questioning the champion coming into this clash and if she could really defeat her opponent in an extreme rules match.

Morgan brought a bat to the ring and wanted to use it instantly, but Rousey denied it and took control early. The challenger proved she didn’t need to use any weapons, applying submissions to the Smackdown Women’s Champion.

Liv had to resort to using a fire extinguisher to halt Rousey’s momentum, but the challenger wasn’t phased and delivered a Piper’s Pit to Morgan, before striking her opponent with her own bat; she always had an answer for whatever the champion threw at her.

The match was slow and the fans were not engaged following the previous donnybrook match, until Morgan lightened them up and her chances of retaining by hitting Rousey with a senton bomb through a table.

Soon after, it was all too much for Morgan, as Rousey made her pass out in a submission hold to become a two-time Smackdown Women’s Champion.

It was the least intriguing match coming into Extreme Rules and it translated into the ring, as the match was sloppy and barely interested the fans.

Morgan should have retained her title, as she needed to remain as a top talent in the Smackdown women’s division and prove her credibility by beating Ronda Rousey.

However, it can be said that her reign was uneventful and only featured one convincing defence, which was against Shayna Baszler at Clash at the Castle.

Rating: 1/5

Karrion Kross defeats Drew McIntyre with assistance from Scarlett Bordeaux

(Picture: WWE)

The third match of Extreme Rules saw Karrion Kross make his Premium Live Event debut, colliding against Drew McIntyre in a strap match.

The former was playing mind games early, refusing to have the strap tied to him and attacking the Scottish Warrior before the contest began after a distraction from his wife.

A brawl between the two then broke into the crowd and eventually, McIntyre was able to wear down his opponent enough to tie the strap to him.

The two-time WWE Champion had the early advantage, before Scarlet Bordeaux intervened and wanted Drew to stop. Kross then seized and pulled his opponent towards the ring post shoulder first, as the referee asked if McIntyre needed medical attention.

Kross had all the momentum and fully utilised the strap, as his wife demanded for McIntyre to receive more punishment. Eventually, the whips of the leather only fired up Drew before the two exchanged shots of the strap.

McIntyre was able to best Kross in this instance, as he hit his opponent with a future shock DDT. The Scottish Warrior was then ready to pounce for a claymore kick making the countdown from three to one, until Bordeaux sprayed him with pepper spray.

Kross took advantage and delivered a kross hammer for the pinfall victory, with McIntyre suffering his second Premium Live Event loss in a row.

The match was slow and never gained real traction, as Kross now has his sights set on the Undisputed Universal Championship. A clash with Roman Reigns however is unlikely to occur, as this rivalry may be continuing heading into Crown Jewel.

Rating: 2/5

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Bianca Belair retains against Bayley despite Damage CTRL interference

(Picture: WWE)

Following McIntyre vs. Kross, Bianca Belair defended her Raw Women’s Championship in a ladder match against Bayley. It was the latter’s first title match since returning to WWE from injury at SummerSlam.

Both competitors made their entrances without their partners, but it was always expected that there would be some level of interference in this match. The first stages of this contest saw both Belair and Bayley tussle with a ladder, as they tried to retrieve the title early on.

The Raw Women’s Champion used her athleticism to dodge her opponent’s attacks and make her way up the ladder, as Bayley was always left with preventing Belair from retaining rather than attempting to obtain the title herself.

The crowd was divided for this match, as the younger audience was cheering for the champion and the older members of the WWE Universe were on the challenger’s side. Bayley was then able to deliver a sunset flip powerbomb to Belair on a ladder, but it wasn’t enough to restrain the E.S.T.

To keep her momentum, Bayley soon after hit her opponent with a flying elbow on a ladder that was perched on the steel steps and barricade. However, Belair worked her way back into the contest, delivering a K.O.D to Bayley and climbed the ladder before reinforcements arrived.

Bayley’s proteges, Dakota Kai and IYO SKY stormed to the ring to attack Belair, and it looked like Bayley was going to become the Raw Women’s Champion. However, the E.S.T was able to sustain the outnumbered assault and hit her rivals with a double K.O.D.

After removing Kai and SKY from the equation, Belair was then trapped by Bayley with the ladder and the challenger made her way up to the title. The E.S.T’s strength was on display though, as she hoisted the ladder up and pushed Bayley from the top down to the ropes.

Soon later, both women made the climb and the champion’s braid came into play. It was used as a weapon for both Belair and Bayley, but the Raw Women’s Champion eventually retrieved her title to retain.

It was a decent contest and somewhat surprising result; there was more potential with a title reign for Bayley, but the feud may not be over yet and that possibility could still be alive.

Rating: 2.5/5

Finn Balor forces Edge to quit in emotional rollercoaster

(Picture: WWE)

In what was the match of the night that had the attendance on the edge of their seats, Finn Balor and Edge competed against each other in an ‘I quit match’. The contest was proposed by the Rated-R-Superstar, but it came back to haunt him.

Edge controlled the bout early and asked the referee if Balor wanted to quit after clawing his face, but the leader of The Judgment Day refused.

The two would constantly ask each other if they wanted to quit while doing battle, before it spilled out in the crowd and the Rated-R-Superstar struck his opponent with a hockey stick.

Balor still said he would never quit and suffered a crossface with the stick in his mouth, a move that Edge has delivered to his rivals with different weapons before. Both superstars eventually returned to the ring after Edge’s midsection was sent into the railing.

The 11-time world champion eventually applied a submission to Balor in the ring, until the remaining members of The Judgment Day finally arrived at their leader’s aid.

Damien Priest and Dominik Mysterio came to the scene and intervened, but Edge was still able to fend them off with a spear through the middle rope to the outside.

The Rated-R-Superstar was then gearing up for a spear on Balor, until Rhea Ripley handcuffed him to the rope. It was then looking bleak for Edge, as he was defenceless and had to endure an outnumbered assault from The Judgment Day.

Michael Cole was even barking for Edge to quit for the betterment of his career, but he was too proud to give up. The referee asked the legend if he wanted to quit, but Rey Mysterio finally made his way to the ring.

While he was able to neutralise Balor and Priest, his own son got involved and assaulted his father for the first time since betraying him at Clash at the Castle. Ripley was elated, but Cole on commentary was beyond disgusted and asked how someone could hurt his own family.

Balor was then dominating Edge in the ring with the assistance of a kendo stick, until Beth Phoenix removed the weapon from Finn and used it on the male members of The Judgment Day.

A stare down then occurred between Edge’s wife and Ripley, before brawling with the Glamazon spearing the Eradicator.

Phoenix was then able to unhandcuff her husband and it was looking like another victory for the Rated-R-Superstar over The Judgment Day, as he delivered three consecutive spears to Balor and applied another crossface with a part of the steel chair. However, it took a dark turn when Ripley knocked out Phoenix with brass knuckles.

Balor then hit his rival with three coup de graces in a row and told Edge it was his last chance, but the legend told Finn to go to hell. Ripley then showed the Rated-R-Superstar his wife was out cold and unless Edge would quit, Phoenix would receive a con-chair-to.

The 11-time world champion then said he quit to prevent the attack, but Ripley followed through anyway and Edge immediately checked on his wife. It was a highly emotional match, but the right winner won.

The Judgment Day haven’t had a favorable record in their Premium Live Event matches, so it was important for Balor to score this win. The story with Edge being forced to quit also gave the faction more heel heat, with this rivalry having to continue now.

Rating: 4.5/5

Matt Riddle makes Seth Rollins tap out in the fight pit

(Picture: WWE)

Without an appearance from Roman Reigns, it was hard to see what would main event Extreme Rules. However, the night of wrestling concluded with Matt Riddle and Seth Rollins in a fight pit.

The contest started with leg strikes from Riddle to Rollins, while the crowd were desperate for Bray and chanted, “we want Wyatt”. The Original Bro had early momentum until he accidentally struck the special guest referee, Daniel Cormier with a back elbow.

The UFC great then pulled Riddle away from Rollins and issued a stern warning, telling him that he is not supposed to fight him. The Visionary took advantage and attacked his opponent from behind, before Cormier checked the condition of Riddle until Rollins shoved him out the way.

Both competitors were getting on the nerves of Cormier, as he told Seth that he’s here to fight Riddle and to not touch him. Rollins was sorrowful and laid an assault on The Original Bro, ordering Cormier to start the 10-count until Riddle resurfaced at eight.

The Visionary then had other options, climbing up to the top of the cage and delivering a twisting flog splash to Riddle. It wasn’t enough to keep The Original Bro down, as he followed through with an RKO on Rollins.

The bitter rivals eventually both climbed to the top and while Cormier was saying the fight had to be conducted in the ring, Riddle and Rollins still battled above until the latter hit his opponent with a pedigree.

Seth then had a brain fade, as he demanded Cormier to count Riddle while he was down. The UFC great reminded Rollins they weren’t in the ring and The Visionary was furious, saying he would choke Cormier out.

This led to another RKO by Riddle to Rollins on the top, as the latter rolled down safely in the ring. The Original Bro wasn’t finished there, hitting his opponent with a devastating floating bro from the platform.

Soon after, a triangle choke was applied by Riddle to Rollins and while The Visionary was able to counter by hoisting the former up and driving him into the sides of the cage, The Original Bro was able to hold in the submission.

It was then too much for The Visionary, as he tapped out in defeat to Riddle.

The match was overhyped and didn’t deliver on expectations, as Riddle surely needs to be in consideration for a United States Championship opportunity. If Rollins was able to receive one against Bobby Lashley and lost this match, The Original Bro should mount his case and get one.

Rating: 2.5/5

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