Ring Posts Coverage of WWE and local professional wrestling

Extreme Rules: Samoa Joe leaves Baltimore as the No. 1 contender

Aaron Oster
Contact ReporterFor The Baltimore Sun

 In a Fatal Fiveway match at Extreme Rules that included huge names such as Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, and over acts such as Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt, it was Samoa Joe who emerged victorious and earned a shot at Brock Lesnar and the Universal Title.

The match ended up being the most “extreme” match at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view. All five brawled in and around the ring, using chairs and stairs liberally. Samoa Joe and Bray Wyatt formed an alliance early on, and the powerful duo dominated much of the match. Eventually it started to break down as Roman Reigns speared Joe and Balor through the barricade, and shortly after Seth Rollins hit a frog splash from the ring onto Wyatt, who was lying on the announcing table. Reigns and Rollins went at it at the end of the match, and then one by one everyone poured into the match to attempt a finisher and eat a Superman punch. However, Balor seemed to get advantage of Reigns, even hitting the Coup de Grace, but Joe slid in to lock the Coquina Clutch on Balor and force Balor to pass out with everyone else being downed from the prior flurry.

Samoa Joe hasn't had a lot of direction since being called up to the main roster the night after Royal Rumble. He was supposed to face Seth Rollins early on, but Rollins' injury derailed that. He randomly beat up on some people for Triple H, including Sami Zayn, but it wasn't enough to get a match at WrestleMania. He then lost to Rollins at Payback. With Triple H no longer in the picture to lead “The Destroyer,” it seemed as if Joe might fall by the wayside. While this doesn't necessarily mean anything long term, and cynics would say that it's simply because he has the least to lose by losing to Brock Lesnar, it's relevant that Samoa Joe is going to be headlining a pay-per-view against Brock Lesnar. They've been pretty careful about who has been able to get a match with Lesnar, so just the fact that Joe is getting into  that match is a good sign for the future.

When Samoa Joe arrived in NXT in 2015, people started brainstorming about the matches they'd love to see. One potential opponent that was on almost everyone's list was Brock Lesnar. Joe is one of the few guys that you could believe actually has a chance to get into a brawl with Lesnar and hold his ground. His suplexes potentially could rival Brock's, and his ground game also helps in the tale of the tape. The styles should mesh with each other perfectly, particularly if they let Brock get away from the Suplex City match. While I would have loved to see Joe face Brock coming off of a monster run, this is an incredibly intriguing first-time match at a time where we aren't getting a ton of them.

Whatever you think of this specific result, you have to admit, the main event of Great Balls of Fire has the potential to be pretty epic, and is a true dream match.

The rest of Extreme Rules:

>>The tag titles changed hands on the show, as Cesaro and Sheamus finally were able to get a win over the Hardys. Unlike many cage matches, the only way to win was to escape, instead of having a pin or submission. This led to Jeff's being the first one to get out, but it left Matt at a disadvantage inside the cage. This featured many of the top spots you would expect in the match, including a Whisper in the Wind off the top of the cage from Jeff Hardy onto Sheamus and Cesaro, which brought Jeff back into the match. Oddly in the finish, it was Cesaro and Sheamus going over the top and landing just before Matt Hardy dragged Jeff out of the cage. It was a reversal of most cage matches, where the faces go over the top, and the heels go through the door, however after Jeff went off the top, it was logical.

>>The tag titles weren't the only belt to change hands Sunday night. The IC title also moved as The Miz beat Dean Ambrose. This match had some of the best storytelling on the show. Miz constantly tried to get Ambrose DQ'd, whether it was trying to get Ambrose angry, exposing a turnbuckle, and even having Maryse slap him. The ref saw Maryse hit Miz, yet refused to DQ Ambrose. It wasn't until Miz shoved Ambrose into the ref that it seemed Ambrose would be DQ'd. As the ref debated what to do, and Ambrose pleaded his case, Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the win. While most likely this won't have any impact on the future, it was interesting. It established that the ref can refuse to accept a DQ. Does this mean that when wrestlers intentionally get themselves counted out or DQ'd, the ref can refuse to go along with it? Regardless, the title being back on Miz is a good thing.

>>Neville successfully retained his cruiserweight title, beating Austin Aries in a submission match. Aries had the advantage for much of the match, and seemed to have the match won a few times. However, eventually Neville was able to take advantage of Aries missing a dive to the outside. Neville then rolled Aries back in, hit the Red Arrow, then locked on the Rings of Saturn for the win. There was definitely a miscommunication somewhere along the way, as the ref tried to count out both competitors at times, and threatened Aries with a DQ at one point, despite it being a match that could only end in a submission. Aries failing to win the title for the third straight show definitely hurts his credibility.

>>Alexa Bliss beat Bayley in a fairly decisive beating. While the match wasn't all that special, the one thing that was shocking coming out of it is the reception that Bayley received from the Baltimore crowd. It wasn't overwhelming, but she received boos, quite possibly for the first time. It just shows how poorly someone who was considered to be the ultimate babyface has been booked over the past few months.

>>In a truly feel-good moment, Rich Swann and Sasha Banks beat Noam Dar and Alicia Fox. It was the first time Swann had wrestled in Baltimore under the WWE banner, and the crowd roared when his hometown was announced. Swann ended up hitting the Phoenix Splash for the win, then danced with Sasha after the match.

>>Kalisto beat Apollo Crews in one of the best matches of the night, on the preshow. Crews has really been neutered in-ring since his call to the main roster. Putting him with someone he had faced back in Dragon Gate USA really brought the best out of both men. Titus O'Neil and Crews argued after the match.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section here, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also hear my podcast, Jobbing Out, at https://soundcloud.com/jobbingout

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
61°