Extreme Rules 2015
WWE’s 4th pay per view of 2015 year took place on Sunday and was mostly hit or miss. They presented some great individual moments but lacked any standout matches in my opinion.
As I’ve been saying, there’s a lull following Wrestlemania. WWE is trudging along until Brock Lesnar returns to build up Summerslam and new feuds and storylines begin for the rest of the summer.
I’m still a WWE fan by and large, but this time of year is when I seek alternatives to fill the void. I love professional wrestling as an entertainment medium, and when I stop being entertained by the WWE is when I slow down and tune out for a while. Luckily for me, Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling have some crossover shows approaching in May.
Anyways, what follows is my recap and review of WWE’s Extreme Rules. After a long weekend at an anime and video game convention, turning my brain off for some good ol’ American pro-wrestling was just what I was looking for.
Pre-show match: Bad News Barrett vs. Neville
Daniel Bryan was scheduled to defend his intercontinental title against Bad News on the main show until it was announced shortly before the show that Bryan was unable to compete. They shuffled the card around and BNB was left without a dance partner. Enter Neville: a call-up from NXT who is slowly working his way into the fray of the main roster. A pre-show match with an established name like Barrett would do him wonders. They had a quick match that served to hype up the crowd before the main show started. It essentially served as a showcase for Neville who won after hitting the red arrow. The hardcore fans in Chicago were very into Neville so this match served its purpose. Wasn’t a terrible match, just quick and to the point.
Chicago Street Fight: Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper
I knew this would open the show. Dean and Luke are two characters I like so pitting those two against each other in a hardcore match sounded great. This match never really got to that next level to make it something great, unfortunately. These two fought with kendo sticks and chairs for a while until continuing the fight backstage where they jumped into a running SUV and took off out of the arena and into the streets of Chicago. This moment was fantastic and pretty funny, almost as a throwback to the attitude era of the 90s. The live crowd loudly boo’ed this, but eventually they realized that these two would be back to finish the brawl.
Kiss Me Arse Match – Dolph Ziggler vs Sheamus
I was dreading this match. Well, mostly the aftermath. These two certainly worked a wrestling match. Nothing terrible, nothing great. Dolph hit a nice tornado DDT outside of the ring.
I fully expected Sheamus to win and to ultimately humiliate Dolph Ziggler, but Ziggler pulled out the win with a surprise cradle pin to Sheamus. The crowd went crazy knowing that Sheamus would have to kiss the “arse” of the winner while chanting “pucker up” at him, whereas I expected the opposite with the crowd chanting something like “this is stupid.” Sheamus acted this segment beautifully. He sold the fact that he would have to kiss Dolph Ziggler’s ass like he lost a terrible bet. The utter mental turmoil he showed over having to abide by a juvenile wrestling stipulation ended up as great comedy. Eventually, Sheamus was going in for the kiss and hit Ziggler with a low blow and cemented himself as an up and coming villian. For a segment that should have been embarrassing and cringe-worthy actually ended up being goofy enough to be enjoyable.
Tag-Team Title Match: Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (c) vs. The New Day
This was so great. The entire match only went 10 minutes and turned into my favorite match on the show. The New Day are the trio of Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E Langston. They’re a group of heels who think they’re babyfaces. They don’t understand why the crowd hates their terrible gimmick, which leads to even greater comedy. They’ve been subtly turning heel and Extreme Rules finally sealed their status. They came out for their entrance and the camera immediately cut to this guy:
Sums up The New Day perfectly. Kids still like them since they get to clap along for fun, while the adults in the crowd just wonder why.
These guys went all out to put on a good match. Bodies flew around the ring everywhere and everybody involved got a chance to shine. Cesaro showed off an incredible feat of strength when he plucked 300+ pound Big E out of the air.
Tyson Kidd showed off his aerial acrobatics
And Big E even flew out of the ring a few times like so.
Finally, Kofi Kingston got the pin by holding on to Cesaro’s trunks (this is cheating in the pro-wrestling world) after a perfectly choreographed sequence for the finish. The New Day are your new champions after a fun mess of a match. I hope this leads to more since these guys are great together.
Chicago Street Fight: Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper (part 2)
The New Day were backstage cutting a promo and celebrating their victory when suddenly this happened:
Dean and Luke were back! This literally came out of nowhere. Luke left the arena driving the SUV, while Dean came back driving it. A subtle touch that worked great. As the viewer, we got to fill in the blanks of what the hell happened while they were gone. Dean and Luke found their way back to the ring and continued their match. They beat each other with more chairs and weapons until finally Dean gets the win. It’s wonderful that this match has the statistic of going 56 minutes and 10 seconds. I’m glad Dean won a pay per view match, but unfortunately the weapon brawls weren’t anything too special. The SUV moment was great though and is something they can put in clip shows and DVDs for years to come.
Russian Chain Match for the United States Championship: John Cena (c) vs. Rusev
Around here is where the show took a nosedive for me. I had some high hopes for this match since I liked their previous encounters, but here’s an example where the Extreme Rules gimmick hindered what could have been a good match. Cena and Rusev were to touch all corners of the ring in sequence in order to win, all while being chained together. This led to them having to focus more on the chain than each other. They couldn’t get much for a match going until they had to stop and go back to the chain or to the corners. It really slowed down the pace and messed up the flow of what could have been something decent. Notable here was Rusev sending his valet, Lana, to the back after the crowd began to chant for her and took the attention away from Rusev. They’re probably splitting Rusev and Lana up so I guess this match served as a purpose to move that story along. Cena wins as our conquering, all-American hero. If anything, I wish there was a big spot or something to be memorable about this match, but I’ll probably forget about it in a few months.
Divas Championship Match: Nikki Bella (c) vs. Naomi
I wanted to like this match and I think the live crowd did too. Some poor booking resulted in Naomi coming in as a heel, while The Bella Twins have also been presented as heels for several months as well. Naomi’s actually been coming into her own since the heel turn and has been providing some decent promo work but this would be clicking much more against a crowd favorite. These two worked a match that highlighted Nikki’s strength and Naomi’s athleticism. Brie Bella kicked Naomi in the face while the referee was distracted allowing Nikki to get the win and retain her championship. A heel finish to beat another heel? This just didn’t work for me. It’s like Harley Quinn suddenly deciding to fight Poison Ivy for no reason. The audience is Batman.
Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns vs. The Big Show
Last Man Standing matches in the WWE are ultimately hit or miss. I’ve seen some great, innovative matches as well as some boring, drawn out slogs. This ended up right in the middle for me. The Big Show hammed up his heel persona and shut down Reigns from doing anything the crowd wanted to see, such as setting up tables. They went from spot to spot until Reigns put The Big Show through a table with a Samoan Drop. I fully expected the crowd to hijack this match, but after that spot they seemed to side with Reigns. I liked his work in the match, but these matches tend to get a little too lengthy. Reigns set up some tables outside the ring and teased suplexing The Big Show over the ropes and onto them, until Reigns ate a chokeslam and took an impressive bump.
Reigns made it to his feet before the count of 10 and continued the fight. Reigns finally speared Big Show through the Spanish announcer’s table, flipped it on top of Show and got the 10 count for the win. This spot was repeated practically verbatim from a Big Show match a couple of years ago, and it was pretty disappointing to see them reuse it. I didn’t hate this match as much as I thought I would, but I doubt I’ll ever go back to rewatch it. Mostly smoke and mirrors to hide their flaws. Hopefully this feud is finally over.
WWE Championship Cage Match (with Orton’s RKO banned and Kane as the Gatekeeper): Seth Rollins (c) vs. Randy Orton
This was going to be a hot mess from the beginning. All of these stipulations ended up a little over the top and once again detracted from the match. Everybody was basically waiting for Kane to get involved with the finish and to see whose side he takes in the match. Orton and Rollins had a standard WWE cage match. The last really good cage match I can remember was Triple H vs Brock Lesnar about 2 years ago, and cage matches since then have typically been lackluster. The whole idea of the cage is to prevent outside interference. The babyface hero finally has his opponent trapped in a cage, or so you think. As fans, we’ve been conditioned to know that cage matches always have some kind of a run-in or interference. Seth Rollins’ lackeys showed up and of course, ended up inside. Seth and Orton’s having a match for the top championship almost seems secondary to the Kane storyline, where I think he’s eventually turning face against the Authority. It’s not the greatest main event storyline of all time and once again detracts from the rest of the match. Kane finally interfered, teased turning on Rollins and finally went after Orton. Orton hit Kane with the RKO, Rollins hit Orton with his own RKO and crawled out of the cage for the win. Apparently Orton can do the RKO to someone who is not in the match, and apparently Seth can do it since it is Randy’s move and only he can be disqualified for it. A lame stipulation they failed to capitalize on, as the show went off the air with the announcers trying to make heads or tails out of the situation.
Seth’s first title defense had to end in some sort of screwy fashion. He’s obviously not going to drop it within a month of winning it at Wrestlemania, and I’m glad he didn’t. I like Seth as champion and hope he gets a credible reign, but I feel like the WWE set themselves up for failure here with all of these stipulations added on that didn’t really add to the match. Sometimes less is more in professional wrestling.
There you have it. Overall, I turned on some wrestling on a Sunday night and enjoyed the first hour. Extreme Rules has been a good show in the past and this was probably the weakest show in the last several years. The last couple hours really dragged and brought down the show as a whole as it turned into something dull and lifeless. The next pay per view show already takes place in a couple weeks on May 17th, a little too soon to get anything going. I won’t give this show a thumbs down but it’s not quite a thumbs up. I think a 6 out of 10 is serviceable.
by Nathan Dimit