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I Was There for Extreme Rules 2017

I Was There for Extreme Rules 2017

Chapter 17 – I Was There for Extreme Rules 2017

Event:Β I Was There forΒ Extreme Rules 2017

Location:Β Royal Farms Arena – Baltimore, MD

Date: June 4, 2017

Headline: Fatal Five Way to Determine Brock Lesnar’s Next Opponent (Samoa Joe vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins)

Miles from Home: Β 32 Miles

The Historic Royal Farms Arena

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post covering the historic nature of the famous Baltimore Arena.

A place where Ron Simmons broke the pro wrestling color barrier by becoming the first black man to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

It’s the place Bruno Sammartino lost the WWWF championship to Superstar Billy Graham.

Sting won his first world championship, Ric Flair beat Terry Funk, and AEW held their third Pay Per View: Full Gear.

Yes, the Baltimore Arena hosted all these historic moments!

A place where thousands of fans witnessed some of the most important events in pro wrestling’s past.

The Baltimore Arena is such an important venue in the history of professional wrestling.

And when WWE came to Baltimore in June 2017 for the Extreme Rules Pay Per View . . . .nothing happened.

Memories

OK. So clearly something happened at Extreme Rules, but certainly nothing of Extreme consequence.

Nothing remotely close to the importance of the other items I mentioned.

It was a completely missable show with a couple of bright spots, but largely a transitional pay per view wedged between WrestleMania and SummerSlam.

A complete holdover.

A show whose main event featured five men fighting for a title shot against Brock Lesnar at the next pay per view.

And I’ll talk about that name of the next pay per view soon enough.

This pay per view event didn’t even have a world title match.

Of course, it would be way too much to expect that every single show would feature something iconic to hang its hat on.

But did the WWE give me, the fan sitting in the stands, a good night out?

Did they give me entertainment equivalent to the money I spent on the ticket? Do I have memories?

I do have memories, I was entertained, and I did escape real life for a few hours.

Without the aid of rewatching the show, I do have four major memories from this otherwise completely forgettable affair.

Memory 1

I remembered that Matt and Jeff Hardy were on the card defending the Tag Team titles.

Extreme Rules came just one or two months after their big triumphant return at WrestleMania.

That return was the pro wrestling feel good moment of the year and WWE still uses it in countless video packages.

I couldn’t remember who the Hardy’s wrestled at Extreme Rules nor could I remember the outcome of the match . . . nor could I remember the match’s extreme stipulation.

But I did remember the excitement of seeing the Hardy’s.

In all the live pro wrestling I’ve managed to attend, rarely have I ever looked forward to seeing a specific act.

This was a major exception, and I don’t even know why. I wasn’t a really big Matt and Jeff Hardy fan during their first major run.

Why then did I feel anything when going to see them at Extreme Rules?

The only way I can explain the psychology at play is to think and compare the experience to food. Not just any food though.

I grew up in a little upstate New York town. The neighboring town had a pizza shop that I simply adore. We never went their to dine-in. It was pretty much take-out only. We routinely got pizza from this shop, and it always felt special.

The pizzas are too big to qualify as a personal, but probably too small to adequately share. So I got to have my own personal larger than average pizza. A whole pizza to myself with no sharing. Bliss.

Oh, it was so delicious and it was all mine. The little crunch on the edges of the crust, the mixture of cheeses on top, and just the right amount of sauce. I loved it.

In my adult life, I’ve had pizza in every major city in the United States. Disappointing as it may be, I’ve come to learn that my memories are the only truly special thing about the neighborhood pizza shop that I adore.

The nostalgia of that pizza shop. The special place in my heart and on my taste buds will never fade away. Even today, I can imagine the familiar taste of that pizza on my tongue and it makes my mouth water.

I haven’t lived in that town for close to 15 years. But whenever I go home to visit, despite having the knowledge that better pizza exists in the world, I still go get pizza from my little shop. It gives me immense joy with every bite.

OK . . . I was talking about Matt and Jeff Hardy. Despite not being all that big of a fan, I was really looking forward to seeing them perform.

I grew up with them. They were there for me when I turned on the TV and when I lost myself in the wonderful world of professional wrestling.

Indeed, I likely watched them wrestle while eating pizza from my neighborhood shop.

I know all their signature moves and the unique way they move about the ring. The cadence of their footsteps, theΒ smoothness of their offense, and the looks on their faces when selling their opponent’s offense – I can see it all clear as day.

The Hardy’s are like my pizza shop. There is plenty of stuff that I like better, but the joy and familiarity I have with the Hardy’s . . . I just love to watch them perform. More today than ever.

I now crave a twist of fate and a swanton bomb the same way I crave a bite of pizza from the neighborhood shop.

Note: I watched the show to remember that the Hardy’s lost to the Bar in a steel cage match.

Memory 2

My second memory was the main event.

I remembered that Samoa Joe won a big multi-person match to become the number 1 contender for Brock Lesnar’s championship.

I could not remember the other participants or how he won.

Playing back the tape, I learned that Joe choked out Finn Balor with the Coquina clutch to win the match.

The other participants were Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Bray Wyatt.

Memory 3

We sat in the 300 level section of the Royal Farms Arena (FKA the Baltimore Arena).

That’s a rather mundane thing to remember or even mention, but it’s unique because the 300 level of Royal Farms has been tarped off for every WWE show after (at least all the ones I’ve been to).

Also, at this point in my life, I would probably rather watch the show from home than sit in the 300 level.

The atmosphere may still be great, but weighing that combined with an often obstructed view . . . I’ll take the comfort of my couch.

Indeed, the product is less popular today than it was in 2017.

Memory 4

My last and most vivid memory.

The one memory from this show that will never ever leave my brain.

It was during this show that WWE announced the name of their next Pay Per View.

That’s right, the great July classic.

Main evented by Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar.

A show name with such historic importance that the WWE would have to unveil it at the historic Baltimore Arena, use it this one time, and then never ever again.

My wife and I still snicker at the mention of a pay per view named Great Balls of Fire!Β We both thought, “They can’t be serious,” but they were.

WWE actually had a pay per view called Great Balls of Fire. Silly.

Final Thoughts on Extreme Rules

I have no doubt that in the span of your life you remember going someplace, but you can’t remember any of the finer details.

Attending this pay per view live was one of those situations for me.

I still had a great time, and I still love pro wrestling.

It hasn’t prevented me from going to future shows, and it was nice to attend a WWE show under three hours.

While I got to experience the thrill of seeing the Hardy’s perform, I did not get to have a slice of that pizza from back home.

One things for sure, the wrestling was fun but the Baltimore Arena chicken tenders were as missable as the Extreme Rules Pay Per View.

Thank You

Thanks for reading this chapter of the I Was There series. The pandemic has made writing this column a bit of a chore, but it has given me the ability to look back at some of the shows I’ve attended live and relive those memories.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, subscribe to my weekly Pro Wrestling Letter. It’s totally free. Here’s a link where you can sign up. You can read and sign up there.

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