Michael Cole welcomes us to Rosemont, Illinois for Extreme Rules — the one night of the year WWE goes extreme. Problem is just last month at Wrestlemania, we had a No DQ match, a ladder match and a WWE title match that will likely feature more blood than we’ll see tonight so we may have an extreme show that if nothing else doesn’t live up to its title.
Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper (Chicago Street Fight)
The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family feud must continue! I’m still trying to figure out at what point the kendo stick gets used during ring construction. It’d make more sense for Ambrose to just bring it out with him. Elbowdrop while Harper is standing. With Ambrose’s intensity, this is reminiscent of the old Attitude Era Hardcore title matches. Ambrose and Harper are two of the more underutilized potential main event stars in the promotion and they do their best to set the bar high for the rest of the matches to follow.
They fight to the back and Harper climbs into a truck to make a getaway, but Ambrose dives in through the window as Harper drives off. The fans are pissed and when they’re unhappy with a WWE decision they go to old faithful and start a ‘CM Punk’ chant. Cole insists that this match isn’t over, and I’m willing to bet Ambrose and Harper will time their return perfectly during a lull in the action.
Triple H tells Kane to find Ambrose and Harper, but Seth Rollins comes in and starts arguing with Kane. The Authority is like a heat vacuum for the heel champ first sucking away all of Randy Orton’s importance as the unified champ and now Rollins is made to look like the third wheel in a segment with Kane and Triple H. The crowd is equally underwhelmed and starts another chant that gets muted out.
Jojo introduces the Kiss Me Arse match
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus (Loser kisses the winner’s arse)
I love Sheamus’ new look with the Mohawk and braided beard. Give him back his King of the Ring cape and it’d complete the regal warrior look. Cole cues tweets Ziggler and Sheamus exchange. If only they had more TV time to devote to storyline development so they didn’t have to get them built up over Twitter. The fans must be acting very unruly as the audience volume seems to be heavily muted. Sheamus is such a better heel than smiling face as his bullying taunts are so effective in adding to the story. Ziggler counters a suplex for the win.
This was a very well told match with the bully overpowering the quicker face and shows how easy wrestling can be when two guys are allowed to do what they do best in a wrestling ring. Ziggler and Sheamus milk the crowd for the post-match stipulation. Sheamus low-blows Ziggler and gives him The Brogue Kick before rubbing his a$$ on Ziggler’s face. In my day they just called it a Stinkface. I was wondering how they’d weasel out of this since Sheamus getting humiliated his first feud back from injury wasn’t going to be a wise move and this allows their feud to continue. Rating: 4 out of 5
Rundown of WWE Network specials. Mick Foley’s comedy show is more of the original programming the Network needs to keep cranking out to make it more enticing to casual fans.
New Day vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd [with Natalya] (WWE Tag Team Titles)
Still waiting on the Extreme stipulation for this match. Or is that a WWE ppv in 2015 has a tag team title match on the card and not the kickoff show? Natalya looks extreme. Not sure if it’s a step up for her to be at ringside with the tag team champions or fighting in 2 minute Divas matches? What is the deal with Kofi’s hair? Kidd & Cesaro have no problem playing to the crowd as the default faces. Three matches in and despite the underwhelming announced line-up, the matches have been exceeded expectations.
This was the best of the three with all four guys looking inspired to steal the show. Xavier distracts the ref and gets slapped by Natalya and kneed by Kidd allowing Kofi enough of a distraction to hook the tights and give New Day the tag titles. I’m not a fan of switching the belts off Kidd & Cesaro so quickly and hopefully this isn’t the end of this rivalry. Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Extreme Rules panel – Byron Saxton, Corey Graves and Booker T, who is very excited about New Day’s title wins. Graves is so clean cut he looks like Corporate Graves. They recap Daniel Bryan being unable to compete so Bad News Barrett faced Neville, who hit Red Arrow for the win. That move is so incredible.
Renee Young interviews a gloating New Day just as Harper and Ambrose drive back in. Curious, did Ambrose patiently wait for Harper to come to a stop while they were cruising? To remind us that tag teams mean nothing, Ambrose hits his standing elbowdrop to knock New Day down. Ambrose chases Harper back to the ring and they throw chairs into the ring. It’s just not the same without Public Enemy buried underneath. Ambrose sends Harper onto the pile and hits Dirty Deeds for the win. The break killed some of the momentum of the match, which would have been better had it just gone uninterrupted or at least not following that fantastic tag title match.
John Cena vs. Rusev (Chain match for the U.S. Title)
This crowd confuses me. They go full mark out in chanting ‘USA’ at Rusev, but then revert to ‘John Cena sucks’ when the champ arrives. Of all the matches, this one has the toughest hurdle as a chain match without blood seems pointless. This is the third consecutive ppv in the Rusev vs. Cena feud and I like that it’s progressing with a stipulation match. In a nice modern upgrade, the corners have sensors that light up as the guys make their way to the four corners.
Fans cheer for Lana and Rusev channels ‘Macho Man’ and sends her to the back. The dynamic between Lana and Rusev is changing now and it seems a bit late to turn the ‘Ravishing Russian’ into Elizabeth now. Accolade counter allowed Rusev to hit two corners and Rusev hits a third before Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment. Tied up and Cena drags Rusev into another AA to hit the fourth turnbuckle for the win. This feud could continue if there isn’t another long-term contender in the wings for Cena. This was as good a bloodless chain match as you could imagine, which isn’t a knock as it was entertaining. Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Renee interviews Roman Reigns. Barring a miracle, it looks like that will be the match to halt this positive momentum. Scratch that. Time for our Divas match.
Nikki Bella (w/ Brie Bella) vs. Naomi (Divas Title Match)
Naomi now has new music and ring gear. I’m still unclear how the Bellas have turned into faces after their #BeAStar bullying of Paige. And Naomi has a legit non-heel beef since she’s beaten Nikki repeatedly. Lawler is fascinated with Naomi’s color changing shoes. Ok, they are cool, but they should be focusing on the match not the attire.
I hate how Cole spends so much time rehashing the build-up to the match and ignoring the match itself. As the match unfolds, I’m having a hard time seeing a scenario where Naomi doesn’t beat Nikki. Naomi kicks Brie down. That’ll do it. Brie kicks Naomi while the ref is distracted allowing Nikki to hit Rack Attack for the win. So the Bellas are faces who continue to utilize their heel tactics, but we’re supposed to be OK with that because Naomi is mad since she has a justified point? Rating: 2 out of 5
Rusev chews out Lana in the back and sends her off to The Authority’s office so she can get further talked down to as I wonder why Lana has become so demure and deferential to the man she controlled for the last two years?
Roman Reigns vs. The Big Show (Last Man Standing)
TBS is an ideal image rehabilitation opponent for Reigns. Longtime fans are tired of watching TBS dominate as needed and will by default back Reigns. TBS keeps breaking the weapons saying he is a giant. That makes sense as Show is taking out every possible advantage Reigns could have. Only problem here is just last month we watched Reigns survive Brock Lesnar’s onslaught and everyone considers Brock far more of a destructive force than Big Show so nothing Show does including a chokeslam through two tables leads you to think Reigns will stay down. Now the fans are cheering on JBL.
Spear through the barricade and Reigns follows up with a spear through the Spanish announce table. That should have been the finish. Reigns pushing the US announce table onto Show, but it hardly seems heavy enough to keep Show down. This delivered what it needed although Cole’s statement of ‘Roman Reigns has arrived’ seemed ridiculously forced. Main-eventing Wrestlemania would cover that a lot more than beating Big Show. Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Randy Orton chats with Kane backstage. Tough Enough commercial. I feel for some of these applicants as they clearly aren’t paying attention to the WWE roster if they think they’ve got a shot of getting a chance. There are some fitness models and overly muscular guys that will give Vince the warm fuzzies though.
Bo Dallas comes out. His goatee clashes with his gimmick. After running down the Chicago crowd, Ryback comes out for a squash. This show was en route to be a wonderful surprise, but it hasn’t recovered from the Divas match letdown.
Saxton interviews Rusev. Lana says the final chapter of Rusev vs. Cena will occur at Payback in an ‘I Quit’ match.
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins (WWE title — steel cage match with Kane as the gatekeeper and the RKO is banned)
The fans seem burnt out or are just not all that interested in the title match. The new champ’s first title match is always a hard sell since even the weakest champ manages to retain in their initial defense. The race match cage format doesn’t help matters either as the fans are smart enough to wait for the shenanigans before getting excited despite the usual solid effort from Rollins and Orton.
These two have a great old school chemistry, but they’re not doing enough to convey the hatred to take this feud to another level. J&J arrive, but Kane chases them away from the gate before going in himself. Kane teases going after Rollins and double chokeslams J&J before doing the expected and chokeslamming Orton. Rollins is making his way to the door, but Kane grabs him and chokeslams him before placing Rollins’ arm over Orton.
Orton kicks out and counters a tombstone into an RKO. Rollins takes advantage and hits his own RKO and escapes the cage to retain. Cole and Lawler fall over themselves complaining about Rollins’ use of the banned RKO, but Rollins’ chosen stipulation simply was that Orton couldn’t use it so it’s hard to understand their outrage. Rating: 3 out of 5
Extreme Rules was rolling along and shaping up to be one of the WWE’s best of 2015, but it’s all downhill after Rusev/Cena. WWE Network viewers will be very entertained for the first half, but can skip the rest and be perfectly fine as I’m sure we’ll see several clips of Reigns’ big spears on Big Show repeatedly.
**Pics credit: WWE.com