Friday, 24 May 2013

WWE Extreme Rules on Sky Box Office - TV Review

It’s gimmick match overload time again as we take a look at WWE’s latest pay per view offering, Extreme Rules, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Box Office here in Britain.

The show began with a Wrestlemania rematch as Chris Jericho took on Fandango.

With the lovely Summer Rae watching on from ringside these two easily picked up where they’d left off a few weeks ago. Jericho took it to the dancer before Fandango came back into the match, pulling off some pretty good moves in the process.

The action flowed along nicely as Jericho applied the Walls and Fandango missed his top rope leg drop. A few moments later Fandango went to the top rope again, but this time around Jericho took him down with the Code Breaker as he came down. A three count later and Jericho had the win.

The first title match of the evening saw the Shield’s Dean Ambrose challenging Kofi Kingston for the United States title.

We got a bit of a surprise before the match began when Ambrose wasn’t joined at ringside by his running buddies. It didn’t have any bearing on the match anyway, because what we had here was a pretty decent encounter.

It was a fast paced match packed with great moves from both men. Kingston was, once again, particularly impressive with his high impact moves, as was Ambrose, who showed that he didn’t need his cohorts watching his back all the time.

The crucial moment came late on when Kingston took his man down with the Trouble in Paradise kick while Ambrose was on the ring apron. But instead of taking the count out win Kingston rolled him back into the ring, only for Ambrose to reach the ropes when he went for the pin.

Kingston went for his big move again a few moments later, but this time around Ambrose managed to avoid it before taking the champion down with his side headlock into a DDT for the title winning pin.

The first of the stipulation matches followed as Mark Henry took on Sheamus in a strap match.

I’ve never really been a fan of strap matches, but I have to admit this wasn’t too bad. Hang on! Something just occurred to me! After all of these years I’m starting to praise Mark Henry’s matches on a regular basis!

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. This was basically one big brawl as they sought to achieve their objective. There wasn’t really anything fancy here, just two guys trying to touch all four corners in quick succession. What surprised me about this match that although we saw some innovative ways of achieving the objective the strap wasn’t used that much, which was a little disappointing.

As for the ending the win went to the Irishman. Having touched three corners Henry tried to stop him from touching the last one until Sheamus countered the World’s Strongest Slam attempt with the Brogue Kick so he could get the final touch for the win.

With World Champion Dolph Ziggler having suffered a concussion the Smackdown main event became a number one contenders I Quit match between Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio. Both men were accompanied by their respective cheerleading parties.

Well this one certainly proved to be an interesting encounter with an interesting twist at the end. These two didn’t wait to long to bring the toys, or rather toy, into the match when Del Rio found the kendo stick that always finds itself under the ring. Both guys had their turn with the weapon, and at one point I though we were going to get a Sandman/Tommy Dreamer moment when Swagger tied ADR in the ropes for multiple stick shots.

As the match went on both men began to pull out all the stops, but with neither man saying the magic word it looked like we were going to be in for a long night. Del Rio applied his cross arm breaker Swagger held on long enough to counter with his ankle lock, and as Del Rio fought against the pain it looked like his buddy Ricardo Rodriguez was about the throw in the towel on his behalf.

That was until Zeb Colter grabbed it from him and threw it in himself. The referee saw it laying in front of him and promptly called the match, giving Swagger the win. Or so we though. A second official appeared to tell the first official what had happened, and after studying the replay he ordered a restart.

Swagger immediately went after the ankle again, but Del Rio managed to fight him off so he could apply the cross arm breaker again. It wasn’t long before Swagger said the magic words, giving Del Rio the win and the title shot.

The title action continued with Kane and Daniel Bryan of Team Hell No defending the Tag Team titles against the Shield’s Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in a tornado match.

This one may not have lasted that long but they certainly packed a lot into it. The all hell breaking loose moment was the entire match, and with all four men in the ring at the same time we saw some great sequences.

The Shield boys looked a little off their game early on as Bryan and Kane displayed some great team work. It looked like it was going to be a dominating win for the champions until Reigns and Rollins came back into the match. This made it an even more interesting back and forth affair, and both teams came close to getting the win, especially when Bryan tried to take Reigns out with the No-Lock.

But as the action neared it’s climax after Kane had been taken out of the equation Reigns lifted Bryan onto his shoulders. It looked like he was going for the old Torture Rack submission hold until Rollins came down off the top rope and connected with a knee to take the three count and the win.

The Extreme Rules match followed as the Big Show went up against Randy Orton.

If the PG era has taught us anything it’s that the word extreme doesn’t mean today what it meant a few years ago. This match is the perfect example of that. Compared to the old hardcore division this match seemed quite tame. Well executed, but tame.

The action certainly can’t be faulted. Both men put in good performances as they hit each other with kendo sticks, chairs, and a ladder, but not much else as far as weapons are concerned.

The crash and burn moment came when Show perched a ladder on to two chairs before placing Orton on the new platform. He then climbed to the second rope, but as he came down Orton managed to roll out of the way, leaving Show to come crashing down onto the ladder.

It looked all over there and then, but not even two RKO’s, one of them onto a chair, could get the job done, and it was only after Orton punted the big man in the head did he managed to get the winning pin.

The Raw main event saw Ryback challenging John Cena for the WWE title in a last man standing match.

I guess they were saving the extreme stuff for this encounter. From the moment this match started these two tore into each other, with Ryback throwing the champion around like the proverbial stuffed toy. He put on a tremendous display of power, but no matter what he did Cena kept beating the count.

It wasn’t all one way traffic though. Cena managed to get in his fair share of offence as well, but like his opponent he just couldn’t get the job done. Eventually the brawling took them to ringside and beyond. After the timekeeper’s area was all but destroyed they began brawling through the crowd. More weapons and table spots followed until they made it to the stage as the carnage quota was taken up a notch.

At one point it looked like Cena was going to throw Ryback off the stage with the Attitude Adjuster until the big man countered by barging Cena through the lighting set. As the sparks flew and the lights dimmed the referee ran backstage, and while Ryback was helped to his feet Cena was strapped to a stretcher and carted away. No official outcome was announced, although Wikipedia said it was declared a no contest.

The main event saw Brock Lesnar, accompanied by Paul Heyman, facing Triple H in a steel cage match.

Now this is what a steel cage match should be all about, a brutal contest between two men who absolutely detest each other. It began when Trips attacked Lesnar as he made his entrance. He then put Heyman on his backside with a right hand before he entered the cage.

Once the match began Lesnar began to throw trips around like…wait, I’ve already used that particular metaphor. Anyway, he threw Trips around the ring and looked brutal until the Game ducked out of the way of a running knee as Lesnar rammed said joint into the fence.

It was then that the match became even more interesting. Lesnar showed that he did have a human side as he cried out in pain, letting Heyman know that his knee had gone. That was like a red rag to a bull as far as Triple H was concerned as he began to use the injured limb for target practice.

No matter what he tried though the heavily limping Lesnar kept coming back for more, and with the intensity levels going up to 11 Heyman introduced a chair into the equation. Both men began to use the weapon, and it wasn’t long before a second weapon came into play when Triple H brought out the a sledgehammer he’d hidden on top of the cage.

The next few moments proved to be quite frantic. Heyman tried to interfere but was taken down by a Pedigree, as was Lesnar seconds later. The Pain still survived the pin attempt though.

But just when Trips was about to use the hammer Heyman connected with a low blow. Lesnar then took the hammer and connected with a shot to Trips’ jaw. He then finished the job with an F5, and a three count later he had the win.

In conclusion - the first pay per view after Wrestlemania is normally a statement of intent as far as WWE are concerned as they look to see how the summer months will play out before the big one in August, and if this show is anything to go by then the next few weeks should be very interesting.

Extreme Rules proved to be a very good show. All of the matches here were very enjoyable. In fact the action was so good towards the end it made one forget about the high profile absentees, and I’m not talking about the concussed World Champion.

As for my match of the night no-prize there were several candidates, but it only seems right to give it to the Brock Lesnar/Triple H war. And to think we almost had to wait until Summerslam to see that one!

So with all of that out of the way there’s only one more thing to do, and that’s to give Extreme Rules the thumbs up.

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