Wednesday, 10 June 2009

WWE Extreme Rules on Sky Sports - TV Review

It’s gimmick match overload time again, but this time it’s World Wrestling Entertainment’s turn, with both main titles up for grabs in what was One Night Stand but is now Extreme Rules, shown live here in Britain in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Sports.

The show began with the first title match of the evening, with Kofi Kingston defending the US title against William Regal, MVP and Matt Hardy. Although this was hardly an extreme rules match, it was an entertaining way to open the show, even though there were a couple of dodgy moments. Once again Kingston impressed the hell out of this writer, and was definitely the MVP (pun intended) of this particular match. He was also a worthy winner, getting the pin after taking Regal out with an enziguri.

The title action continued with Chris Jericho challenging Rey Mysterio for the Intercontinental title in a no holds barred match. Before the match even began Jericho cut a promo from the merchandise stand, boasting about how he was going to rip Mysterio’s mask off and expose him. To say that this was a tremendous match-up would not be an understatement. Once again Mysterio and Jericho put on a hell of an encounter with an excellent build-up and terrific storyline. In fact if I go on like this I’ll run out of ways of describing just how good this match was. Eventually Mysterio’s desire to protect his Lucha Libre heritage cost him. With Jericho draped on the middle rope, Mysterio went for the 619, but in the blink of an eye Jericho ripped the mask off, and as Mysterio covered his face to protect his identity, Jericho got the three count to win the Intercontinental title for a record ninth time. By the way, did I say how good this match was?

Then it was on to C.M. Punk, taking on Umaga in a Samoan strap match, otherwise known as a Texas bull rope match, or Russian chain match, or whatever else it’s been called over the past few decades. To win, a wrestler has to touch all four corners. Now I’m not usually a fan of these types of matches, but I have to admit that this one was quite good. Punk and Umaga, despite the differences in size, are great opponents for each other, putting on a great, hard hitting affair, with Punk getting the win after taking Umaga out with the GTS.

The third title match of the evening followed, with Christian defending the ECW title against Jack Swagger and Tommy Dreamer in a hardcore match. It was nice to see Dreamer back on pay-per-view, in what was being billed as his last chance. This was a fine match, with three great performances, and a perfect example of just what Tommy Dreamer is all about, and how it’s a shame we don’t get to see him on the major shows much. Good use of the toys throughout this match, with Dreamer taking Swagger out with the DDT to get the thoroughly deserved win. Could there really have been any other result though?

Then it was on to the hog pen match, with Vickie Guerrero defending her Miss Wrestlemania title against Santina Marella. This was extreme - extremely bad. Need I say any more?

Thankfully, normal service was resumed with Batista challenging Randy Orton for the WWE title in a steel cage match. Despite suffering from injury, Batista put in a hell of a performance here. It was a dominating performance from the Animal, with Orton more intent on mere survival than trying to pin his challenger. Indeed, the match began with Orton trying to climb over the top of the cage. But in the end Batista’s power game told, as he took Orton down with a Batista bomb to get the winning pin. But I’m left to wonder how long he’ll be champion given the nature of his injury.

Next up, John Cena taking on the Big Show in a submission match. Now this one would be interesting, considering that Cena just couldn’t get the STFU or whatever the hell it’s called now on the big man at the last encounter. Well, this certainly wasn’t the best match of the show, and at times it seemed to just plod along, but it was entertaining in it’s own way, and I really can’t fault the performances of those concerned. The ending, though, was quite inventive, as Cena tied the Big Show’s foot in the ropes (although the foot soon slipped out), using the pressure of the ropes so he could apply the face lock part of the STF to get the submission win. Could really have done with being just a bit shorter if you ask me.

Main event time, with Jeff Hardy challenging Edge for the World title in a ladder match. These two have a long history in ladder-type matches, so this one had a hell of a lot to live up to. No matter how many times I see these two in ladder matches against each other, I never get tired, and this was certainly a case in point. Great action throughout in this one, with both men using the ladder in some really inventive ways. Perhaps the highlight of the match came when both men were battling atop a big ass ladder stationed at ringside, before falling onto a second ladder that lay between the ring and the ringside barrier, almost snapping the ladder in half, with Hardy countering Edge’s spear off the ladder with a mid-air Twist of Fate coming a close second. The inventiveness continued with the finish, with Hardy pulling Edge down and trapping him in the rungs of the ladder so he could climb up and grab the title belt unopposed.

But the show didn’t end there. As Hardy celebrated in the ring, C.M. Punk came down to cash his Money in the Bank title shot. Punk connected with the GTS straight away, but Hardy kicked out of the ensuing pin, before going for a small package. Punk soon connected with a second GTS, and a three count later we had a second new World Champion in a matter of minutes, creating a great piece of unexpected drama.

In conclusion - although there were parts of this show that were frankly dire, and some moments that were either plodding or somewhat iffy, Extreme Rules turned out to be a good show. I would have labelled it as very good had it not been for the moments I’d just mentioned. For me the match of the night was the Jericho/Mysterio encounter, although the ladder match came a close second. But in all, a good show.