(In my opinion, this pay-per-view either needs to be renamed or removed. It’s kind of hard to have “extreme rules” in a PG era where, among other things, bleeding and headshots are highly frowned upon. Perhaps put “King of the Ring” in its place?)
I’ve had a couple of days to digest WWE’s latest pay-per-view, “Extreme Rules”, so here are some thoughts on the matches and stars, in no particular order:
– Daniel Bryan’s Intercontinental Title Match being called off (injury to Bryan) was a little surprising to me, mainly because I don’t read a lot of ‘dirt sheets’. Instead, it was replaced with Bad News Barrett (Bryan’s original challenger) versus NXT call-up, Adrian Neville, on the pre-show. This was a pretty entertaining match, especially with Neville’s speed being countered by Barrett’s timing and reversals. If you haven’t seen Neville perform, YouTube him. A Red Arrow sealed Barrett’s fate.
– It was nice to see the Divas get more than a few minutes for their match, and
Sasha Banks with neon shoes Naomi (Challenger) and Nikki (Champion) did not disappoint. The athleticism by both Divas was showcased pretty well, especially Naomi’s. Both took some ridiculous punishment throughout the match. With the screw-finish, Naomi should remain in the Divas Title hunt. SHOULD. One thing bothered me just slightly, however (and, talking to friends, bothered them a little bit, also): The Bellas are heels… Naomi just turned “You-know-I’m-right!” heel after trying to make Paige’s head a part of the ringside barrier a few weeks ago…. so why have a heel vs. heel title match, when your audience isn’t probably going to cheer for either? Why not wait to turn Naomi during/right after Extreme Rules? Other than that, the match was enjoyable.
– Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus’s “Kiss My Arse (groooan!)” match was not enjoyable… which is saying something, since both are 2 of my favorites in the ring and usually put on entertaining matches. There was something about it that made it to the point that I could not get into it, or get excited about it. Ziggler winning was nice; dragging on the “I won’t do it! I won’t! OH OK, I’ll kiss it! Oops… LOW-D@MN BLOW to the Zigglets!!” for that long killed probably the best part of that match.
– Dean vs. Luke Harper, in a “Chicago Street Fight”, was what you would expect: about 15 minutes of entertaining insanity from the both of them. A 30-minute intermission that involved them getting into an SUV – well, Harper getting in, Ambrose diving in through the open passenger’s side window – was unusual; there was no footage of them fighting somewhere else, or the truck driving along the Chicago streets. They drove off, , showed back up much later in the middle of an interview segment with the New Tag Team Champions (!!!), and went back to the arena to finish their craziness. I don’t know if Luke Harper gets enough credit for the moves/move set and matches that he has had over the last year and a half. I’m pretty sure that Ambrose hasn’t. Anyway, Ambrose, in a ring full of chairs, wins with Dirty Deeds.
– U.S. Title Match: Cena (challenger) defeats Rusev (Champion), in a “Russian Chain Match.” It’s a strange mixed feeling with this match: nearly everything about this match and feud bugged me… but the match itself was pretty good. The feud has virtually stopped any upward momentum Rusev had. The match itself falls under the italicized comment at the top: don’t advertise a Russian Chain Match and not have the chain come into play much, other than to keep the 2 competitors locked together. Lana becoming an unintended distraction to Rusev works… if you plan on breaking her away from him. Despite all of that, it was a better match than I thought it would be. I know that they have a (hopefully) final match at Payback, but even that makes little sense: why announce it, if you continue to have Cena have ‘U.S. Open Challenges’ on Raw? No one’s beating him for that title if he’s already been announced for the next PPV!
– Tyson Kidd/Cesaro (Champions) vs. A New Day (Challengers). Another heel vs. turning-heel matchup. It’s amazing just how well Kidd and Cesaro have meshed as a team. Big E and Kofi haven’t been too shabby, leading up to this match, either. It was a very entertaining, action-packed match… with new Tag Team Champions?!? Sweet! Their 1st order of business as champs should have been to demand a celebratory interview segment backstage that didn’t have Dean Ambrose standing-elbow-dropping them and Luke Harper. 😉
– The Surprise of the Show (no pun intended) had to be the “Last Man Standing” match between Roman Reigns and Big Show. If there was ANY doubt left in the fans’ minds that Reigns took take punishment, it should be gone – Show beat the crap out of Reigns in this match, including chokeslamming him to the outside, through 2 tables… and Reigns kept getting up. To Reigns’ credit, he put a nice little whooping on Big Show, too. After getting speared through the outside barricade, Show lost to Reigns when he had the announce desk flipped onto to him and Reigns stood on top of both, preventing him from beating the 10 count. An awesome match.
– Unfortunately, the WWE World Title Match between Seth Rollins (Champion) and Randy Orton (Challenger), inside a cage, with the RKO banned, didn’t quite meet the bar that Show-Reigns set. The match was ‘meh’. Nothing real dramatic or “OMG!” worthy until near the very end, but there wasn’t anything really bad. It just…. was. Kane eventually got involved and chokeslammed everyone not named Kane, including Rollins, but it wasn’t enough to finish Orton off. Rollins, after Kane was RKO’d by Orton, eventually hit an RKO on Orton (….no, that wasn’t a typo) for the win. One thing the clueless commentator team seemed to overlook, as they argued that Rollins cheated to win: the RKO was banned from use by ORTON, not Rollins. Besides, Orton used one first; yes, Kane wasn’t in the match but since it was a Cage Match, all bets were off. Any way that they tried to spin it, Rollins won.
Looking ahead, we now know that Cena-Rusev will happen again at “Payback”, along with Rollins-Reigns-Orton Triple Threat for the WWE World Title. I really hope that the winner of the network-only King of the Ring tournament gets a match in that PPV, too. Unless Sheamus is Brogue-kicking people’s faces off as a stipulation, I don’t want to see another bad gimmick match with him or Dolph. What about Bray Wyatt – where does he fit in? Ambrose has been hovering right outside of the title pictures; with Bryan out, he should get an IC Title shot.