The first big show of WWE’s fiscal year is tonight, when the company presents “Extreme Rules.”
In the first of two main events, the newly heeled Ryback challenges John Cena for the WWE championship in a Last Man Standing match. More than just Cena’s title hangs in the balance in this match. If Ryback can’t pick up the win here, the WWE has in effect wasted a heel turn, and the lights can finally go out on the Ryback character.
In the other big main event of the evening, Brock Lesnar and Triple H go to war in a steel cage, capping off a trilogy that began last August with Lesnar breaking Hunter’s arm. Hunter evened the score at Wrestlemania, and the rubber match happens tonight. Will Triple H be able to avenge his family’s honor, as well as the honor of his office?
Perhaps even more interesting than our two main events is the enigmatic trio known as the Shield. After rolling over top competition since making their WWE debuts back in October, the group finds itself in a great position tonight, with powerhouse Roman Reigns and high flyer Seth Rollins challenging Kane and daniel Bryan for the tag team titles, and faction leader Dean Ambrose challenging everybody’s favorite Jamaican-African-American hybrid Kofi Kingston for the United States title. At the end of the show, all three Shield members could leave St. Louis with championship gold. In our latest podcast, myself and Faraaz look at the pros and cons of loading the Shield up with U.S. And tag team gold.
The fun starts at 7:30 Eastern with the obligatory internet pre-show.
Pre-Show had a panel of guys including Wade Barrett, Titus O’Neil, and Mick Foley. Renee Young hosted it and all the guys hyped different matches. I wonder what would have happened if two guys were looking forward to the same match? That would have been very inconvenient. Also, isn’t Wade Barrett the Intercontinental Champion? Renee should ask why he’s not wrestling tonight. Those are the important questions. The WWE Universe wants to know. Then the Youtube stream died. It’s almost like the internet gods are guiding me away from having to watch another Miz match.
All jokes aside, the pre-show had a very sports-like presentation, similar to how UFC structures its Fox shows. I can’t see it pushing in any last-minute buys, but it was okay.
Miz beat Cody Rhodes with the Figure Four in the pre-show match. Didn’t see it. Pretty sure no one cared.
The pay-per-view opened with a long video chronicling the Lesnar-Hunter and Cena-Ryback feuds.
Chris Jericho beat Fandango in the opener with the Code Breaker. Summer Rae came out as Fandango’s dancer. Early on Lawler called Fandango one of “The most underrated superstars in WWE.” Cole basically responded with, “Dude. He’s wrestled two matches!” He didn’t exactly say that, but he should have. Fandango briefly got the heat, and then Jericho got into his standard comeback. He hit a crossbody and Fandango rolled through for a nearfall. Fandango missed his legdrop and Jericho hit the Lionsault for a nearfall of his own. Jericho got Fandango in the Walls but he made the ropes after much struggling. Fandango tried to come off the top with his move but Jericho caught him with a mid-air Code Breaker for the win. This was short with a cool finish.
Josh Mathews asked Sheamus how he planned on pulling Mark Henry around the ring to touch all four corners. Sheamus brought up that Mark Henry pulled those trucks around last week on Smackdown, but trucks don’t hit back. Sheamus also doesn’t way 150,000 pounds. So yeah.
Dean Ambrose beat Kofi Kingston with the headlock driver to win the WWE United States Championship. As Ambrose came out they did a deal where Rollins and Reigns left Ambrose alone to fight his own battle. I think my TV is broken because I could swear I just saw Ambrose put Kingston in a crossface chicken wing. Kofi broke out and did his comeback to set up for his Trouble in Paradise kick. Ambrose backed away but Kofi hit his S.O.S. Move for a nearfall. Later Ambrose took a crossbody for a nearfall and ate the Trouble in Paradise, but Ambrose fell off the apron and to the outside. Kofi put Ambrose back in the ring for a nearfall and JBL yelled at Kofi for not taking the count-out win. Ambrose avoided Trouble in Paradise and Kofi got caught in the top rope, allowing Ambrose to hit his goofy headlock driver dealy for the win. Match felt too short, like they could have gone for a few more nearfalls and kept it believable. Somebody let me know if Ambrose’s finish has a name.
Sheamus beat Mark Henry with a Brogue Kick into the final corner. Sheamus shoved Bully right away. Henry tried to tie Sheamus’ legs together to drag him to all four corners more easily. Very resourceful, Mr. Henry. Sheamus hung on after two though. Sheamus took Henry outside and tried to make him touch the corners from the outside, which apparently is legal. Sheamus took a few shots from the strap and Henry tried to drag Sheamus around the ring again. Sheamus got a strap and went to town on Henry. He pulled Henry around to three of the corners but he couldn’t quite make the fourth. He knocked Henry to the outside and managed to get him around three corners before Henry got up, but Sheamus hit the brogue kick to send Henry into the final corner for the win. So that happened.
A.J. Was on the phone with Dolph doing the “You hang up, no you hang up” deal. Kaitlyn came up and made fun of her and they fought for a while. The story is A.J. Is too distraught over dolph’s concussion to fight Kaitlyn for the title. A better explanation would be that A.J. Realized how useless the title was and decided she’d be better without it. But whatever.
Alberto del Rio beat Jack Swagger with the Cross Armbreaker to become No. 1 contender to the World Heavyweight Championship. Colter talked about the IRS scandal and railed against the government for tapping the AP’s phones. He asked who was going to jail for this. He somehow blamed the fans for that, and he started talking about the Cardinals and I just sort of tuned out after that. They used the steps early on and Swagger brought out a kendo stick. The referee asked del Rio if he wanted to quit and del Rio said no. I couldn’t tell if he was answering in English or Spanish. Del Rio nailed Swagger with about a dozen kendo stick shots but Swagger wouldn’t give it up. Swagger hit Del Rio with two powerbombs, but Del Rio countered into an armbar, but Swagger countered that into the Patriot Lock. Ricardo had a white towel and Colter attacked him. The referee saw the towel and, I guess, he assumed Ricardo threw it in. What the hell is happening? The referee is asking for a replay. The match is restarted. So as is typical with a restarted match, it went another two minutes or so, with del Rio forcing Swagger to quit with the cross armbreaker. Lame finish.
Ryback basically said everything he always says in his promos. Cena’s a liar, he’s tired of playing by normal rules, blah blah…
Seth Rollins and Roman reigns beat Kane and Daniel Bryan to win the WWE Tag Team Championships. JBL immediately brought up the Kane May 19 thing. I laughed. Hell-No got a lot of offense in, and Bryan looked fantastic. Kane went for a chokeslam and Reigns hit a spear to Kane. In a moment of sound and rational reasoning, Reigns yelled at Bryan, saying, “You try and break my arm, I break your face!” Kane almost got pinned with a second spear but Bryan broke it up. With Kane out, the Shield singled out Bryan, with reigns putting him on his shoulders and Rollins coming off the top with a knee for the win. The Shield are tag team champions! He didn’t break Bryan’s face, but they did win the titles. Yes, JBL, I understand that this is the Shield’s yard now, whatever that means.
They threw to Renee Young and the panel of guys from the pre-show. I just thought of something: Zack Ryder couldn’t even make the panel. It’s a sad time to be Zack.
Randy Orton beat the Big Show in an Extreme Rules Match with an RKO to a steel chair followed by the punt. Big Show basically tried to kill Orton with every weapon imaginable, including ladders. Orton hit a big dropkick to take Big Show down, but the flurry didn’t last very long. This is the point where I realize there’s still an hour left in this show. Show placed Orton on a ladder and tried to splash him, but Orton moved, sending Show straight into the ladder. Orton hit his DDT from the top, did his usual setup, and actually hit the RKO, but Show kicked out. Show hit a huge spear to Orton, but Orton came back and hit an RKO onto a chair. He couldn’t make the pin, but he hit the classic punt of death for the win. GOOOOOOOAL! By the end this was okay, but the beginning and middle parts were pretty boring. And no, I don’t know why Big Show didn’t bring his giant steel chair this time. Probably couldn’t get it through airport security. Seems like it would be quite the task to get that to fit in the carry-on bin.
My God I’ve seen this Ryback-Cena hype video a million times tonight. I get it. They don’t like each other.
John Cena and Ryback wrestled to a non-finish over the WWE Championship. The story going into this match is that Cena has never lost at Extreme Rules. Well, technically, neither has Ryback. He beat two jobbers last year, so both guys come in undefeated. Ryback went toward a table and I kid you not I cringed. Fallaway slam through the table and I believe Cena is still alive. Cena sent Ryback into the post and tried to set up the AA, but Ryback rocked Cena with a shoulder to the gut. Cena hit a powerbomb to lay Ryback out. Ryback took out Cena, waited for him to get back up, and killed him with that nasty clothesline of his. Cena managed to get Ryback in the STF but Ryback managed to get up at 9. Ryback teased Shell Shock through a table but Cena reversed and both guys went through the table for a count of 9. Cena threw Ryback into the barricade and collapsed momentarily. The monstrous Ryback ripped out a part of the barricade (complete with a Pepsi advertisement) and nailed Cena with it, but the superhero lives. Cena put Ryback down with a sleeper. Yes, that just happened. Cena belly-flopped onto Ryback. Cena took a fire extinguisher to Ryback, nailing him twice and taking him down for a count of 7. In a tribute to the defunct Wrestling Society X, Ryback drove Cena through the lighting on the top of the ramp when Cena tried for an AA. Both guys are dead, and it looks like they’re going to call this thing a draw. A bunch of guys are checking on them and the fans are chanting “Bull shit.” At least I’m not bored anymore. Ryback is up. Did he win? The announcers are talking in the hushed voices and whatnot. They went to a commercial, so I guess the match is over. I read somewhere that a promoter once killed a stip in St. Louis by doing a non-finish. Here’s a perfect case of WWE not learning from the past.
Brock Lesnar defeated Triple H with the F-Five in a steel cage match. Triple H attacked Brock from behind and took out Heyman before they went into the cage. Lesnar spent a lot of time being awesome and throwing Hunter around until Hunter countered and sent Lesnar into the cage. Brock tweaked his knee and he complained about it to Heyman. Why would you complain about an injury out loud when the guy you’re fighting can hear you? So with Brock’s leg injured, they gave Brock an out to go through the door, but it didn’t happen. Later Heyamn took out Triple H with the door and Brock hit the F-Five for a nearfall. They got a chair in there and Hunter started teeing off on Brock. Hunter worked over the leg for a while and then locked in the Figure Four. Way to tell Miz to suck it. Lesnar tried to climb out of the cage but Hunter attacked the leg and Brock squawked like a walrus being punched in the kidneys. After some back and forth with the sledgehammer, Hunter put Brock in the Sharpshooter while Heyman pleaded with him to “Get out of it.” People on twitter are finding this boring. Those people suck. Brock managed to get out only to take two straight pedigrees and, yes, he kicks out! Heyman hit Hunter low and Brock just said, “That’s my manager.” Yes it is, Brock. Yes it is. Trips got nailed in the face with the sledgehammer, but instead of leaving the cage, Brock decided to hurt him some more. Brock delivers an earth-shattering F-Five and pins Hunter to end it. There is a ripple throughout the heavens and flames came out of the earth, for all was right in the world of the WWE. *that actually did not happen, but the part where Lesnar won did.*
I can’t dismiss this show entirely. Aside from the WWE title match, it was properly booked, with the Shield winning both the U.S. And Tag titles and lesnar winning the rubber match to keep him hot for whomever his next program will be against. But a lot of the show really felt like it dragged. The Orton-Show match specifically ended up a relatively good match, but similar to the Sheamus-Big Show match late last year, it didn’t get good until the very end. Other matches felt very short. People can explain this by citing the stipulations. You keep the stips strong by keeping the matches shorter than usual, so fans buy that in the future added stips will have a definite influence over the match. That makes sense from a philosophy standpoint, but it certainly doesn’t help the show. Plus, the WWE title finish left enough of a sour taste in my mouth and I really have no interest in the follow-up. This show is a big, fiery thumbs in the middle.
Tell me what you thought. Let me know on Twitter, @DesDelgadillo.