2022 WWE Extreme Rules results, recap, grades: Bray Wyatt returns, Ronda Rousey reclaims title in wild show

Look out: Bray Wyatt has returned. Following weeks of anticipation with mysterious teasers for the arrival of a “White Rabbit,” Wyatt is back in the realm he once ruled over by making his first appearance in more than a year in the closing moments of the 2022 WWE Extreme Rules premium live event on Saturday night in Philadelphia.

Wyatt, a former WWE and two-time universal champion, made his return to WWE about 19 months after being released on July 31, 2021. WWE closed out Extreme Rules with Wyatt’s ominous and theatrical comeback, which elicited a huge response from those in attendance at the Wells Fargo Center. His return came directly after a bad blood Fight Pit match between Matt Riddle and Seth Rollins that notably featured UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier as the special guest referee.

Extreme Rules also featured the crowning of Ronda Rousey as SmackDown women’s champion, a number of hard-hitting matches and a visceral conclusion to the “I Quit” match between Finn Balor and Edge that should have fans talking over the weekend until Monday Night Raw in a couple days.

CBS Sports was with live throughout Extreme Rules with match results, grades and highlights as the action went down.

2022 WWE Extreme Rules results, grades

Dexter Lumis presented The Miz with an unsolicited birthday present: Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty repeatedly tried to bury the hatchet with Miz throughout the show by attempting to give him a T-shirt. The Miz rejected the offering over multiple segments. Outside of Triple H’s office before the end of the show, Miz put a beating on Gritty. Lumis, who has stalked Miz for weeks on Raw, emerged behind the trendsetter. Lumis choked Miz unconscious with Silence and helped Gritty to his feet as the mascot got a kick in for good measure.

The Brawling Brutes vs. Imperium (Good Ol’ Fashioned Donnybrook): Ridge Holland showed off his absurd strength, carrying Ludwig Kaiser and Vinci on one shoulder each and delivering a back body drop. Holland’s success was short-lived as Kaiser and Vinci delivered the Imperial Bomb ringside. Sheamus earned his group some momentum by saving Butch from an extended beatdown. Sheamus dropped Kaiser and Vinci ringside before going toe-to-toe with GUNTHER. The Brutes put a fun twist on Sheamus’ trademark clubbing blows as all three members beat GUNTHER like a drum. Sheamus nearly scored the victory following a Brogue Kick on GUNTHER; however, Vinci executed a perfectly timed springboard splash to break the pinfall.

Sheamus locked in a follow-up Cloverleaf submission on GUNTHER, but Kaiser saved the day by snapping a shillelagh across Sheamus’ back. The six superstars’ efforts earned chants of “This is awesome!” from the crowd. Butch landed a stunning moonsault off a set of barrels ringside on Kaiser and Vinci. GUNTHER utilized Sheamus’ trademark shillelagh, the same weapon he used to beat Sheamus on SmackDown, to score a near fall. It was a cathartic moment when Sheamus finally got his revenge on GUNTHER by smacking him across the neck with the shillelagh. An inspired Butch and Holland laid into Kaiser and Vinci with the same weapons. The match’s closing moments saw Sheamus crash GUNTHER through the announcer’s table with a Celtic Cross. A Brogue Kick to Vinci locked in a much-needed win for the Brutes.

Fantastic opening match. The action was intense, high-quality and varied in its approach. It was great to see Sheamus get a much-needed win to extend a program that has lots of life in it. The only thing holding the match back from “A” or “A+” territory is a lack of big-time stakes. There were no titles on the line, it wasn’t quite a “Match of the Year” contender and there was no major plot development beyond extending the feud. Brutes def. Imperium via pinfall — Grade: A-

SmackDown Women’s Championship — Liv Morgan (c) vs. Ronda Rousey (Extreme Rules): A particularly intense Rousey did not take her eyes off Morgan from the moment the champion made her entrance. The opening moments revolved around the idea that Morgan needed an equalizer, a.k.a the Extreme Rules stipulation, to level the playing field against a superior wrestler. Morgan tried (and failed) to misdirect Rousey in the opening exchange and grab the baseball bat she brought with her. Rousey snatched the bat and considered using it before sliding it outside of the ring. Morgan introduced a fire extinguisher into the match and all hell broke loose. Rousey left a deep, baseball bat-shaped welt on Morgan’s stomach. Morgan cracked Rousey with a chair more times than I could count.

The match hit a period of disjointedness as the superstars struggled through a pair of spots. Morgan drove Rousey through a table with a crashing senton bomb. Rousey expertly turned the subsequent near fall into a triangle armbar that had the champion in agony. The ending sequence was somewhat deflating. Rousey switched techniques into some sort of chokehold that even commentator Michael Cole failed to pick up on. Morgan passed out as the referee called for the bell. In an apparent heel turn, Rousey then trash-talked Morgan and the fans as she stepped on her stomach and walked out to boos.

It was a step up from their SummerSlam match but not by much. Things started well with their commitment to telling a story about Morgan’s equalizer. Unfortunately, the match disintegrated into a brawl way too soon. A pair of messy spots and a confusing conclusion hurt a match that was shaping up to be the best in their series. Rousey def. Morgan (c) via knockout to win the title – Grade: C

Drew McIntyre vs. Karrion Kross (Strap Match): The brawl kicked off before the bell. Kross played mind games with McIntyre and repeatedly refused to wear the strap. The two fought everywhere from the ring to the crowd with McIntyre selling a dislocated shoulder before finally strapping in Kross. After months of being blindsided by Kross, McIntyre finally had his foe within reach. McIntyre whipped Kross mercilessly until Scarlett’s intervention gave Kross the opening to take over. Kross drove McIntyre into the announcer’s table which held up better than it did in the opening six-man tag. Boos erupted from the audience as Kross viciously beat McIntyre with the strap as Scarlett commanded.

McIntyre finally had enough abuse and roared to life. He chucked Kross across the ring and landed a nice strap-assisted neck breaker. The tethered foes tormented each other with lashes. McIntyre got the better of the exchange and landed a Future Shock DDT. McIntyre attempted to close out the match with a Claymore, but Scarlett once again intervened. She blinded McIntyre by spraying his eyes with pepper spray. A compromised McIntyre was helpless as Kross clocked him with a fight-ending Kross Hammer forearm to the back of the head.

Your mileage may vary based on your expectations. I think very highly of both men and was expecting a physically gruelling, emotionally heavy contest. Kross’ attempts to avoid the stipulation made sense considering his tactics in the lead-up to the match and his general penchant for mind games. The whipping was wonderfully horrific. Beyond that, it felt like the match was missing about two gears of intensity. Still, a strong showing for Kross in his biggest main roster match to date and a good sign of things to come. Kross def. McIntyre via pinfall — Grade: B

Raw Women’s Championship — Bianca Belair (c) vs. Bayley (Ladder Match): Belair and Bayley got off to a quick start. Duelling crossbodies sent both women outside to retrieve ladders. Bayley took a moment to be delightfully evil and berate a young fan for shouting, “You suck!” The superstars made the most of the stipulation. Belair ran up a ladder propped against the ring apron. The champion laid out the challenger on a flat ladder and creamed her with a standing springboard moonsault. Bayley returned the favor with a modified sunset flip into a ladder leaning in the corner. One of the bout’s most impactful moments came when Bayley ran along the ring apron and landed an elbow drop to Belair across a ladder outside. Bayley removed a piece of her knee brace to attack Belair with; however, Belair flattened Bayley with the KOD.

Belair nearly captured the title before Bayley’s Damage CTRL cohorts Dakota Kai and IYO SKY intervened. Belair fended them off with a messy double KOD off the ropes, but the distraction was enough for Bayley to gain the upper hand. The strategist Bayley tried to pin Belair under a ladder while attempting to climb to victory. The champion’s renowned strength was on display as she managed to tilt back the ladder from underneath and send Bayley crashing into the ropes. The foes jostled for momentum and the match came to a close when Belair landed an impressive KOD on Bayley, who was carrying a piece of ladder. Belair climbed the ladder and retrieved the title.

This was a solid match with plenty of good spots. You can forgive Belair for having difficulties with the double KOD, and she more than made up for it with the closing ladder sequence. I was a little miffed to see Belair so easily fend off all three members of Damage CTRL, but it’s great to see WWE continue to rally behind the champ. Belair (c) def. Bayley to retain the title — Grade: B+

Edge vs. Finn Balor (I Quit Match): Balor repeatedly targeted Edge’s knee early. Edge comically shouted, “Get that thing out of my face” as the referee presented Edge with a microphone to say, “I quit.” Balor walloped on Edge but the Hall of Famer remained defiant. Edge finally turned the tide by tackling Balor through the timekeeper’s barricade. The fight subsequently spilled out to the kickoff show set. Edge whipped out a hockey stick, beating Balor with it before using it as part of a crossface submission hold on top of the desk. The action finally spilled back into the ring, following a detour into the crowd, with Balor in firm control. Balor had Edge gasping for air with repeated steel chair shots to the torso. Edge earned himself a much-needed break by driving Balor’s head into a corner-planted chair. Balor begged for mercy as Edge repeatedly drove the chair into Balor’s leg. Edge locked in his trademark Edge-u-cator and smacked Balor upside the head.

It appeared as if Balor was at a breaking point before Judgment Day members Damian Priest and Dominick Mysterio interfered. Edge laid out his foes with a spear through the apron that took out all three men. Rhea Ripley appeared out of nowhere and handcuffed Edge to the ropes. Balor laughed menacingly before he, Priest and Dominick swarmed Edge. Balor took pleasure in punishing a defenseless Edge with kendo stick shots to the back. Rey Mysterio ran to Edge’s aid, laying out Priest and Balor. It was Dominik who blindsided his own father and beat down the elder Mysterio ringside. Beth Phoenix emerged, saving her husband from further damage. Phoenix got the better of both Balor and Ripley before freeing Edge of his handcuffs.

Edge cornered a helpless Dominick and kicked him in the ground as payback from Clash at the Castle. Edge appeared primed to defeat Balor by utilizing a piece of a steel chair for a crossface submission hold, but Ripley distracted Edge by clocking Phoenix with brass knuckles. Priest and Dominik held down Edge as Balor landed three consecutive Coup de Grâces. Judgment Day ultimately negotiated an “I quit” out of Edge by threatening to pulverize his wife Phoenix with a Con-Chair-To. Despite their victory, Ripley swung for the fences with a nasty-looking chair shot to Phoenix’s head after the bell had already rung.

What a conclusion! The match was fine up until all the interferences, then they kicked it into another gear. The sheer number of interferences could have dissolved into chaos but instead elevated the match. I will never be a fan of the father-son violence between Dominic and Rey; however, it did succeed in making me feel uncomfortable. Edge looked legitimately pained and defeated as he was forced to utter “I quit.” He really sold the emotion while he and the officials attended to an unconscious Phoenix. WWE managed to turn a middling Judgment Day into a legitimately dangerous, provocative and sinister force. I don’t know that it’s “match of the year” in terms of in-ring action, but it stands out enough to warrant a perfect grade for the creative. Balor def. Edge — Grade: A+

Matt Riddle vs. Seth Rollins (Fight Pit): Daniel Cormier, a UFC Hall of Famer and two-division UFC champion, served as special guest referee. The match could only end via knockout or submission in the ring. Riddle took a mixed martial arts stance to start the fight. The match stipulation played in Riddle’s favor as the former UFC fighter outstruck and outwrestled his bitter rival. A heated Riddle got into a confrontation with Cormier. The distraction allowed Rollins to take advantage. The tables were turned shortly after as Cormier threatened Rollins for laying his hand on the guest official. Rollins laid out Riddle with a pair of superkicks that kicked off Cormier’s fight-ending 10-count. Rollins continued to lay on the punishment with a Rob Van Dam-inspired frog splash off the cage wall.

Rollins played mind games with Riddle, mocking his foe from the second level of the Fight Pit. Riddle followed Rollins as a precarious brawl took place. Riddle hung in the air, applying a rear-naked choke to Rollins with help from a chin suspending the Fight Pit. Rollins buckle bombed Riddle into the corner of the elevated platform. Riddle dodged a Stomp and planted Rollins with an RKO. Rollins rolled off the platform and into the ring. Cormier was counting out Rollins before Riddle leapt off the platform, rupturing Rollins with a Broton. Riddle applied a standing triangle choke. Rollins did everything in his power to wiggle free but was ultimately forced to tap out weakly with Cormier calling the match.

Great spots, moments of dread and a dose of revenge that Riddle desperately needed. The stipulation lent itself to Riddle and gave Rollins a viable excuse for losing. The ending sequence could have used a dash more umph, but it was great to see Rollins’ desperation and submission. Riddle def. Rollins via submission — Grade: A

The “White Rabbit” is unveiled: Cormier raised Riddle’s hand in victory while walking up the ramp just before the arena lights cut out. Fireflies filled the arena as fans turned on the flashlights from their phones. The eerily familiar tune of, “He’s got the whole world in his hands” rang throughout the Wells Fargo Center. Wyatt’s various puppet pals emerged one by one in different pockets of the arena as full-sized humans in costumes as the suspense built. Commentators Michael Cole and Corey Graves were taken aback when The Fiend’s mask mysteriously appeared on their announce table. WWE faked out fans by having a stand-in appear wearing The Fiend’s mask just beyond the ringside barrier.

A creepy video montage was followed by a close-up of an ominous door as the Philadelphia crowd shouted, “Holy shit!” The man believed to be Wyatt, sporting a brand new mask, walked through the smoke-filled door with his trademark lantern. Wyatt stripped off the mask, revealing his face and confirming his return. He blew out the lantern and the screen went black with a new logo flashing on the screen. WWE may have just pencilled the greatest return in pro-wrestling history strictly in terms of presentation. The company delivered on weeks of a unique build surrounding various “White Rabbit” clues. The final reveal was rife with tension and excitement, well-paced and well-executed. Pure, magical horror.

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