The Punk: Extreme Rules Review
by, 05-21-2013 at 12:45 PM (3252 Views)
The glitz and glamour of Wrestlmania is now but a faint memory. From here and going forward the WWE will begin to build it's summer programs which should see most culminate at this year's Summerslam. Before they can do that however, that they have a few loose ends to tie up and since 2010, Extreme Rules has been the perfect event in which to do this. Will The Shield complete their rise to power when they challenge for both United States and Tag Team gold? Will John Cena overcome the power of Ryback? Who will emerge victorious in the war between Triple H and Brock Lesnar? Will this year's Extreme Rules finally live up to it's name?
We are live-ish in St. Louis for the 5th instalment of Extreme Rules. Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL are our commentary team and start the show running down a number of the high profile matches for the evening.
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
Love this feud or hate it, you can't really deny that Jericho and Fandango have great chemistry together. Their initial encounter at Wrestlemania was perhaps one of the best undercard matches of the night so it's a shame that this rematch didn't receive nearly as much attention as it should have. Much of the action looked awfully similar to their first match, not to say that's a bad thing but a little diversity can go a long way in preserving a feud. The inclusion of Summer Rae could have added a new dimension to this match but sadly she wasn't utilised once. Since his return last year, Jericho has helped many of the young talent reach new heights in the company by putting them over but this wasn't the case tonight. Fandango may have lost this return match, but this could actually do him more good than harm in the long run.
Winner: Chris Jericho via Pinfall (Codebreaker)
Match Rating: ***/5
Backstage: Interview with Sheamus who tells Josh Matthews that while Henry can pull two trucks, they don't hit back. Errrrm...okay.
Match Two - United States Championship
Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Dean Ambrose
Those unhappy with Kingston's latest reign as United States champion must have loved this match! In his first singles match on PPV, Shield ringleader Dean Ambrose continued to show the qualities that will eventually make him one of the company's biggest stars in this little gem of a match. A fast, back and forth encounter wasn't as one-sided as many believed it would with the former champion getting plenty of offence in against his highly regarded opponent. Both worked well together and while the match was short, and lacking in any "Extreme" stipulation, it did exactly what it intended to do and provided us with one of the night's strongest matches in the process.
Winner and NEW champion: Dean Ambrose via Pinfall (Modified Bulldog DDT)
Match Rating: ***.5/5
Match Three - Strap Match
Mark Henry vs. Sheamus
Strap matches are usually poor. Slow, restrictive and just generally boring. Those hoping Sheamus and Mark Henry would provide something lacking these negative traits were unfortunately always going to be left disappointed. More a tactical battle than a physical encounter we thought it would be, the two combatants attempted out out-manoeuvre the other for nearly 10 minutes before Sheamus picked up the win with a Brogue kick and a lunge towards the final turnbuckle. Hurting the overall score of the match, however, was the odd refereeing which totally disregarded the rules of a match that Cole, Lawler and JBL had spent most of the match explaining to the viewers. Unfortunately this wasn't to be the last of the weird refereeing either.
Match Rating: **/5
Backstage: AJ and Kaitlyn bicker before brawling around for a bit. Entertaining but could have been used for an actual Divas match? Just saying.
Match Four - Number One Contenders I Quit Match
Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio
If it wasn't for the concussion of World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler, this would have been my number one most anticipated match for the evening. The sudden change of stipulation and lack of title defence should have ruined this match but Del Rio and Swagger, whose rivalry seems to be getting better with time, put on a great showing in this hard hitting match. Extreme might be pushing it nowadays considering the only weapons we see are kendo sticks and the odd chair but the two utilised these weapons with great effect. The constant sound of referee Mike Chioda asking both men if they wanted to quit may have grated fast and yes, the use of the instant replay might have been a bit ridiculous but it was otherwise a decent effort from both men and a great save from the WWE who are able to prelong this rivalry until the return of the champion.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Match Rating: ***.5/5
Backstage: Josh Matthews interviews Ryback who calls Cena a liar. Promises change tonight when he takes the WWE title from Cena. About as good as you would expect promo-wise from the big man.
Match Five - Tag Team Championship
Team Hell No (c) vs. The Shield (Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins)
Having one member of The Shield win gold just wasn't enough. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns joined their stablemate in capturing the tag team titles in this solid tornado tag match. Promoted as a chaotic brawl since it's announcement, these four men didn't disappoint as they went back and forth for just under 10 minutes. Again, like the Kingston/Ambrose match, a win was always on the cards for everyone's favourite new villains but Kane & Bryan were able to get just enough offense in to tease the upset victory. Rollins and Reigns ultimately captured the belts with one of the best moves of the night; a Road Warriors-esque double team move which flipped Bryan over the shoulders of Reigns. A great move and the perfect way to end the 245 day reign of the entertaining duo.
Winners and NEW champions: The Shield via Pinfall (Double Team Attack)
Match Rating: ***.5/5
Match Six - Extreme Rules Match
Big Show vs. Randy Orton
Those hoping for an Orton heel turn were never going to get their wish tonight as competing in his hometown, the 'Viper' received the loudest crowd pop of the night. This match was generally considered as one of the least anticipated of the evening but the two surprised by putting on a pretty entertaining match. It won't go down as the best Extreme Rules match ever, quite the opposite actually, but it did serve as a great way to tease a turn to the darkside for Orton who blasted Show with multiple kendo stick shots, a top rope elevated DDT, two RKOs with one onto a steel chair and then finally, a sorely missed punt to the skull to pick up the win. Quite possibly Orton's best match in a while and hopefully a sign that the heel turn we all want might be a little closer to actually happening.
Winner: Randy Orton via Pinfall (Punt)
Match Rating: ***/5
Match Seven - Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Championship
John Cena (c) vs. Ryback
Another match that was written off from the start that managed to surprise and entertain. Ryback and Cena beat each other to a pulp for nearly 20 minutes, culminating in a frustrating, yet memorable finish. Ryback has been panned recently for his green approach but his pairing with the champion may have resulted in one his best performances to date. Taking inspiration from previous last man standing matches including his own against Batista, Edge and even the Undertaker's battle with the "Animal" at Backlash 2007, the match was filled with plenty of decent spots ranging from ones seen plenty of times before to the more unique ones that preceded the finish. The finish itself, despite the referee's failure to make a count...ugh, was violent and amazingly convincing. The WWE needed a way to make both look strong and while it was a frustrating and to some, maybe even anti-climatic, it succeeded in being a violent match which will almost certainly result in a continuation of the feud between the two.
Official Decision: No Contest; John Cena is STILL champion
Match Rating: ****/5
Match Eight - Steel Cage Match
Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H
This is what a year of fighting came down to; a steel cage match between the COO and the 'Beast'. Dubbed the rubber match no-one wanted to see, Triple H and Lesnar managed for the best part to put on a satisfying conclusion to their war. Utilising the steel cage as a weapon in ways not seen in a long time, the two combatants threw each other against the walls with reckless abandon. It shouldn't have gone on last, it probably wasn't their best match and it was booked a little oddly (Seriously, Brock Lesnar, a former UFC champion selling a knee injury like that?), but it served as an appropriately "Extreme" way to close the show.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Match Rating: ***.5/5
Overview: Not the best Extreme Rules event but by no means the worst. The show succeeded in cementing The Shield as major players in the WWE, wrapped up the Triple H/Lesnar rivalry, hinted further at an Orton heel turn, and proved that Ryback could actually have a future as a main event star given time. Extreme Rules has set the pieces for the various summer programmes and judging by the strength of these pieces, I firmly believe that 2013 has the potential to be a great year for the company.
Match of the Night: Cena/Ryback.
Move of the Night: Reigns and Rollins' new finishing move. As deadly as it is beautiful.
Lowlight of the Night: Strap matches really suck.
PPV Rating: ***/5
What did you think of Extreme Rules? What was your favourite match or moment? What could the WWE have done differently? Leave your comments below!
Follow The Punk: