Seth Rollins vs. Rey Mysterio (The Horror Show at WWE Extreme Rules 7/19/20)

Match Reviews

Are we going to sit here and pretend to talk about anything other than finish?

This is an eye for an eye match where the only way to win is by gouging out an opponent’s eyeball. This match has been sanctioned by the same promotion that thought hitting someone very hard with a very big hammer during a Hell in a Cell match was going too far.

It’s such a truly WWE trait to be so preoccupied with seeming interesting that they refuse to ever just be interesting. An “eye for an eye match,” for example, is something that on paper brings about a lot of provocative imagery. As soon as the stipulation that you had to remove an opponent’s eye to win was announced, it drew the baffled curiosity of fans everywhere. What would that look like? How could you even make that work within the confines of a pro wrestling match? Even if they utilized the cinematic style that they’ve been leaning on, how could it be done to match the family oriented tone that WWE often strives and fails to achieve? Rumors of CGI effects being utilized only sweetened the B-movie morbidity of this is on our minds. A CGI eyeball flopping about on the canvas is just the kind of wrestlecrap schlock that we can talk about and mock for decades to come.

This match is not that. It fails because it refuses to commit to anything.

Instead of going down the ridiculous path of being on a card called “The Horror Show at Extreme Rules,” these two decide to just work a match with eye psychology. That’s nice and all. Rey Mysterio is an all time great performer and Seth Rollins has demonstrated that he can be held by the hand and dragged kicking and screaming to a great match. And for most of the match, it seems that Rey might have pulled off a bit of a miracle too. The offense and spots are creative. The emphasis on evasion means that these two can swing about gruesome weapons without anyone actually having to take any damage. The focus on eye psychology is interesting enough and uncommon enough that it added a lot of substance to a Seth Rollins match–a feat truly worthy of praise.

And sure, let’s give Seth Rollins some credit, why not? He took both those barricade bumps that made up the highlights of this match pretty well. But even before this match gets both deeply stupid and uninteresting all at once, Rollins reveals himself for the sham hack that he’s always been. It’s all in the trash talk. I’ve brought up the WWE’s tendencies to lean on in-ring dialogue before and it’s a habit that’s only gotten worse with COVID-19. The fact is that in-ring trash talk can work when it’s both simple and realistic. Something like Rey selling on the ground, groaning out, “You son of a bitch!” Yes, that is something a human person would say in the middle of a fight. To have Rollins immediately follow up with, “You should have listened to me, Rey”–a line so trite and cliched that even your dullest Hollywood screenwriter will at least do a double take before writing it down–exposes that Rollins really has no clue how to capture a realistic human emotion.

But enough of that, we came to talk about the eyeball stuff, right?

That’s this match’s greatest sin, really. There’s nothing to talk about. Seth shoves Rey’s face into the edge of the steel steps and then recoils in the horror of what he’s done. We never get a shot of a bloody eyeball. Instead, we have Rey Mysterio covering his face while palming a fake glass eye against his face that we only get brief glimpses of. Seth probably sees more than we do as he’s so aghast by his own actions that he vomits onto the ground. You got to give credit to Seth for taking the already miserable “HAVE I GONE TOO FAR” WWE trope and ramping it all the way up to eleven to actually expose how bad the trope is and has been for a long time. For that sacrifice, at least, Seth gets some credit.

Commentary goes silent and the planted PC marks that earlier tried to start up an “Ole!” chant watch on in disgust. One can’t help but imagine their reaction had Seth Rollins had lost. Would they turn on Rey Mysterio as well? Let’s not forget that earlier in the night, Rey tried to stab Rollins’ eye out with the shards of a broken kendo stick. Would that have brought about jubilant celebrating from this uncanny valley facsimile of an audience? We can only wonder.

Rude of WWE to deprive me even of rage. As I said, most of this was actually something approaching good. And the bad isn’t even worth laughing at. This match is cowardice on a truly impressive scale.

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