It’s gimmick match overload time again, but this time around it’s of the WWE variety as we take a look back at Extreme Rules, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Box Office here in Britain.
The show began with Kane facing Randy Orton in a falls count anywhere match.
This was just the sort of match I thought it would be. They brawled in the ring, they brawled around ringside, they brawled through the crowd, they brawled backstage, then they returned to the ring to brawl some more.
And amidst all of this brawling they put on a very entertaining encounter, with comebacks in all the right places and, surprisingly, very little weapons use.
Eventually this brawling had to end and after Orton escaped from Kane’s tombstone on a chair attempt before taking the monster down with an RKO on said chair.
Unadvertised match number one saw Brodus Clay, accompanied by Hornswoggle, taking on Dolph Ziggler, accompanied by Vickie Guerrero and Jack Swagger.
If you didn’t follow WWE you’d be forgiven for thinking that Ziggler was the big hero, especially given the reaction he received from those in attendance. Everything he did was greeted with a big cheer.
As for the match it was basically the let’s get the Funkasaurus over exercise. It was okay, a good way of giving him the notch in the win column on pay per view, but it will probably be forgotten by the time you’ve finished reading this.
The big guy went over in the end, pinning Ziggler after the big splash.
The first title match of the evening saw Cody Rhodes challenging the Big Show for the Intercontinental title in a tables match.
This was basically Show beating the hell out Rhodes for a few minutes. We had countless chops and the big man throwing Rhodes around like the proverbial rag doll, with Rhodes getting in a few fleeting moments of offence, including his disaster kick counter off a table in the corner.
Then came the end. Show was attempting to get back into the ring via a table at ringside when Rhodes connected with a dropkick. The referee checked and called for the bell, giving Rhodes the title win because Show had stepped through the table. A unique if somewhat unfulfilling ending.
Except that wasn’t the ending, as the big guy spent the next few minutes taking his frustrations out on Rhodes by putting him through a couple of tables.
The Smackdown main event saw Daniel Bryan challenging Sheamus for the World title in a best of three falls match.
Now this was good, very good. In fact this may well be the best performance Bryan has put in during his WWE tenure.
Both guys put on great performances in a match that had everything. It was well executed and had great psychology throughout, with plenty of near finishes among the great back and forth action.
Sheamus took the first fall when the referee disqualified Bryan when he didn’t stop his attack on the Irishman’s shoulder while holding the ropes. Bryan quickly evened the score with Sheamus passed out to the Yes Lock.
The third and deciding fall came when Sheamus finally put Bryan away after the Brogue Kick, ending what will become, without doubt, a match of the year candidate.
Unadvertised match number two saw Aaron Relic and Jay Hatton (looks into the side camera, shrugging in a Harry Hill sort of way) taking on Ryback.
The point of this match was to get our Skip over in a Goldberg sort of way. After the whoever-they-are’s did a promo Skip took both guys out in very short time, pinning the skinny one with his Samoan drop-type thing. I’m surprised they didn’t let him use the jackhammer as the finisher.
The Raw main event saw Chris Jericho challenging C.M. Punk for the WWE title in a Chicago street fight.
This week’s master storyteller award goes to these two. Garbed in the traditional street fight garb, the jeans/knee pads/wrestling boots combo, Jericho and Punk put on a match even better than their Wrestlemania effort.
It was a tremendous back and forth encounter between two men who had everyone in the palms of their hands from the moment it started. Like many before them they brawled all around and inside the ring, making good use of the toys provided along the way.
There really were too many great moments here to mention, but the highlight of them all had to be, without a doubt, the moment where Punk launched himself off the top rope, elbow dropping Jericho through the Spanish announcer’s table.
In the end it was the champion who came out on top as he finally took his adversary down with the GTS for the winning pin.
The penultimate match saw the returning Layla challenging whichever Bella twin is the champion for the Divas title.
This wasn’t too bad. A short encounter which saw the girls pulling off a few good moves before the twins did the old switcheroo routine while the referee wasn’t looking. Layla then took the wrong twin down with a neck breaker for the title wining pin.
The real main event saw Brock Lesnar taking on John Cena in an extreme rules match.
You know what? I like this new version of Brock Lesnar. They’ve taken a few measures of his previous monstrous persona and added in a few MMA stylings to create an even better character.
It would be tempting to go into MMA review mode to describe parts of this match, but in pure wrestling terms this was brutal. Apart from a few moments of offence Lesnar dominated the entire match, taking Cena apart bit by bit and busting him open in the process.
And if Cena wasn’t safe in this environment then neither were the officials. The original ref was accidentally clobbered twice while the replacement was taken out by a Lesnar clothesline.
Cena’s first big break came late on when he finally managed to clobber Lesnar with his trusty chain as he came off the ropes. An attitude adjuster to the ring steps in the middle of the ring later and Cena, despite being completely dominated, took the winning pin.
In conclusion - other commitments meant that I had to watch this show a day later than planned, but boy was this worth the wait.
Extreme Rules delivered, big time. The three marquee matches were tremendous spectacles, with the Cena/Lesnar battle the highlight of the night for me.
Granted, the Ryback and Brodus Clay matches probably would have been better on either Raw or Smackdown, but apart from this I don’t really have anything to complain about here, and if it doesn’t get any nominations for show of the year in any of the big awards I’ll leave a burning bag of dog poop in from of Dave Meltzer’s front door.
I think you can guess what my final words will be here. Yep, you’re right. This is getting the big thumbs up from me.