Rey Mysterio and Seth Rollins are facing off at Extreme Rules in one of WWE's most ridiculous matches yet, and the Wrestle Buddies have thoughts about it.
Over-the-top match stipulations are a major part of wrestling. Promotions like WWE can't just have one-on-one or tag team matches for every bout during a show, and with PPVs, the company needs to up-the-ante in order to keep viewers invested. At times, adding a cage around a ring, allowing weapons to be added to a match, or having to climb a ladder to grab something floating above the ring is all you need. However, not all stipulations are "best for business."
Take the Kennel from Hell match between Big Boss Man and Al Snow, for instance. As discussed on an episode of Wrestle Buddies, the two wrestlers were surrounded by a steel cage, a Hell in a Cell structure, and a pack of "trained" dogs. It ultimately led to a mediocre match, but the visual was striking.
With the next PPV, Extreme Rules--you can see the final results here--coming to the company's streaming service on July 19, WWE is effectively jumping the shark with one match as Seth Rollins and Rey Mysterio battle it out in an "Eye for an Eye" match. There is no subtlety here. The person loses if one of their eyes is pulled out.
A little background on this silliness. On an episode of Raw, Rollins grinded Mysterio's face against the steel steps, which resulted in kayfabe damage to his eye. Additionally, Extreme Rules has the tagline of "The Horror Show." No seriously, they're promoting the event as The Horror Show at Extreme Rules. So, because of this pointless tag--which makes no sense in the grand scheme of things--now eye removal is a part of the match.
Of course, everyone has thoughts about the Eye for an Eye match, but it's time to find out what GameSpot's two Wrestle Buddies--Chris E. Hayner and Mat Elfring--have to say about this outlandish stipulation.
Chris: Why are they doing this to us, Mat? Honestly, Rollins and Mysterio could have an incredible professional wrestling match on a professional wrestling TV show. Instead, we have to expect them to literally mutilate one another--something WWE absolutely has no intention of following through on, nor should they.
I get that they are billing Extreme Rules as a horror show, which makes sense for the match between Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt. Are they going to do this for every bout, though? Will Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre face off in a knives for fingers match where Freddy Krueger's glove is on a pole?
Mat: The only thing Extreme Rules needs on a pole is Judy Bagwell. And the stipulation makes no sense. It will simply lead to brutality and not much else, which sucks because Rollins and Mysterio could put on a barnburner if they wanted to. However, all roads will eventually lead to eyes popping out heads.
But that's the thing. They want us to talk about this match. It's over-the-top. It's monocle-falling-into-champagne-glass shocking. We're doing exactly what we're supposed to be doing. It's a double-edged sword. An Eye for an Eye match is silly and unnecessary, yet here we are… talking about it before it's even happened. And frankly, we'll probably be covering it on an episode of Wrestle Buddies in like three weeks because we're suckers.
Chris: The thing is, though, we're talking about it because there's no way it's going to happen. WWE loves hyperbole, it always has. But, to flat out say the only way there will be a winner is if someone actually loses an eye is ridiculous. This match will clearly end in a draw, or some kind of weird angle in which Seth "loses an eye" and wears an eyepatch for a few weeks while his eye is replaced and heals. This is going to be silly, even if it's one of the cinematic matches WWE has been doing of late.
It's the same issue that comes with the Greatest Wrestling Match Ever at Backlash. Had they wrestled the same match but without that branding, it would have been a match of the year candidate. Now, no matter what Mysterio and Rollins does in this bout, it's about pretending to gouge out each other's eyes.
You're not wrong, though. WWE wants to stir discussion about the show and wants people to tune in to see how, exactly, they're going to pull this stipulation off. So, in all honesty, it's working. But that's something the company has been doing more and more of late, without an audience there to add to the matches. They put these big titles or stipulations on the matches that might work as hype leading up, but make it that much harder to make it worth it in the end.
Mat: But it's easy to add crazy stipulations to a match and make it work. The Boneyard Match and Firefly Fun House Match at Wrestlemania 36 along with the Money in the Bank Match at Money in the Bank are a perfect example of this. I never felt these were too over-hyped or had stipulations outside of what WWE has done in the past. Yes, a bunch of wrestlers trying to get a briefcase on the top of a building is silly, but it worked so well--mainly because it had more of a comedy angle. Meanwhile, the WM36 matches were introspective about both the Undertaker and John Cena's careers. And even with the Greatest Wrestling Match Of All Time, Ever, Period, you had two performers with a long history between each other to give it some flavor--even if it was just a normal match with two extra camera angles and crowd noise pumped in.
As for the Eye for an Eye match, how is this wrestling? This feels like Attitude Era shenanigans--in the worst way possible. And to top it all off, WWE may be slowly stepping away from the PG-Era, but it's still an all-ages showcase. I don't want my kid watching a could of dudes trying to de-eye each other for 20 minutes, and I'm sure there are other people like me. I feel like I just became the whiny parent I've always hated…
Crazy stipulations will always be a part of wrestling. It's the nature of the beast, but this is one of the times where it feels like it's gone too far, even before the match actually happens.
Chris: The stipulations you mentioned work on some levels, especially the Boneyard match and the Firefly Funhouse match because, honestly, who knew what to expect? Having it laid out like this, with the only way to win is by turning your opponent into a cyclops, it is strange. And you're absolutely right. Gouging out an eye isn't wrestling and I'd be wary to show this match to a kid.
I'm just puzzled about why this is the route they've decided to follow. There are a billion other stipulations that could have settled their grudge. Why not do any of those? Heck, get the NXT Fight Pit back out and have them go to town in that thing. That was an audience-free match idea done in the Performance Center that was so incredibly good and should be taken advantage of again.
Oh well, this match will play out however it does and in the end nobody will lose an eye because you can't do that on TV.
Mat: If you want horror, get rid of the eye stipulation and add some spooky ghosts. It's not 2005 anymore. Torture horror isn't popular. Give me more spooky ghosts, please.
Extreme Rules airs Sunday, July 19, on the WWE Network, so make sure to head back to GameSpot that evening for live coverage of the PPV.