May 5, 2014 by Joey Keogh
As Pay-Per-Views go, Extreme Rules isn’t one of the biggies. A show sold entirely on a gimmick, which is often only utilised in one match over the course of the night, it tends to fly under the radar, either managing to be dreadful or passable, depending on who’s headlining. Last year, Ryback was in the Main Event. So already, we’re off to a good start this year with Daniel Bryan and Kane. But, given how consistently high the standard of wrestling has been since Wrestlemania, it seemed unlikely that ER was going to be anything other than a serious drop at worst, a passing piece of entertainment at best. Funnily enough, it ended up being neither.
The pre-show, which as per tradition promises to be twenty-five minutes of recaps and about five of actual combat, boasts a panel of “experts” headed by Josh Matthews, who as per usual looks to be a bit out of his depth. As he’s still in contract with WWE, the intolerable Alex Riley joins Booker T (who wishes he’d tied his hair back tonight, judging by how much he’s fussing with it) and Sheamus, who is sporting a paddy cap and looks as displeased as he’s allowing himself to openly be, because his presence on the panel solidifies the fact he has no match tonight, to discuss who they think is going to win, or whatever.
WeeLC Match: El Torito -v- Hornswoggle
The very title of this match may seem as though it’s straddling a line between good taste and very, very bad, but never fear, the so-called mini announce table (and indeed mini referee) are here to ensure we know just how little respect the company has for the participants in this match, and little people in general. In fairness to them, Jerry Smaller and Micro Cole do a fine job during the match, quipping at one point “Can we go home now?” and at another demanding everyone download the App, while their counterparts rattle off such borderline-offensive lines as “Do these two not realise that they’re not big guys!?” The very presence of the tiny announce table, around which the mini commentators are seated, bodes well for an extreme-style match, during which a stepladder, a mini ladder and a mini chair (a nod to the giant chair Sheamo once used on Big Show, perhaps?) will all be used to inflict pain – and no, the announce table itself does not last long. Although this is clearly a sideshow comedy match, meat to warm up the crowd a little but not too much so they can save their energy for the big stuff, Swoggle and Torito do a good job of selling themselves, and their skills, in the time they’re given, bouncing around the place like they’ve got fireworks up their butts. At one point, Torito manages to do a handstand on the top rope, balancing for several seconds in a display of impressively disciplined skill and strength. Elsewhere, there are powerbombs galore, the matadors are thrown through two ladders and a table by Torito, Drew Mc Intyre gets tricked into going through another full size table after he’s helped set it up, and naturally, the match ends with Swoggle being put through the in-ring mini table for his opponent to win.
Winner: El Torito (maybe now they can afford his shots)
An interesting pre-show match, which bodes well for the rest of the night considering it utilised several weapons and showcased a number of interesting spots, in spite of the fact it seemed to be purely just for laughs when it was originally announced. It’s followed up by a decent little Zeb Colter/Jack Swagger promo, and then we’re back to the “expert” panel, during which Sheamo pats Riley so hard, and with such a glean in his eye, that’s it’s obvious he intends to murder him once the cameras stop rolling (possibly using his hat – he’s Irish, he knows what to do). Finally, it’s time for the main show, which is introduced by that same, weird, super-serious British voice-over that never makes any sense, along with a load of graphics that make the event look more like Summer Slam than Extreme Rules (no barbed wire? no lightning? no cage? no skulls!?) and that terrible theme tune that is not extreme at all. In fact, it sounds a bit like Sean Paul if he were even more PG. We’re then treated to a quick, breezy recap of everything that’s happened up to this point, just in case you’re one of those loons who only watch PPVs and nothing else.
Triple Threat Elimination Match: Rob Van Dam -v- Jack Swagger -v- Cesaro
When did RVD become a part of this match-up? Was it not originally supposed to be Cesaro versus Swagger? Sure, RVD might be annoyed that he lost his chance at the Intercontinental Championship, but he still doesn’t really have any reason to be involved. It really should be one-on-one. Anyway, he wanders out as though he’s lost, which is par for the course at this stage, followed by the great Paul Heyman, who is quickly establishing himself as the greatest manager of all time. He cuts a quick (by his standards) promo, referring to the “synagogue of hardcore” before introducing Cesaro, who gets a rapturous reception from the sold-out New Jersey crowd, in spite of his god-awful entrance music (Sirens! War! Germany and Switzerland are the same place, right!?) He and Swagger immediately take the lead, with RVD stepping aside as though he feels like an unwanted guest at a party. When Swagger gets a bit tired though, RVD takes over, showcasing that he can be light on his feet when he wants to be, even though he hasn’t a hope in hell of winning this. He spends most of the match tumbling and rolling about the place, bouncing off the ropes and hitting his opponents where it hurts more times than he misses (for once). A clothesline delivered from the inside out seems as though it’ll give him the edge, but Swagger counters with a powerbomb and pins him. Cesaro then takes charge again, delivering the swing on Swagger, only for RVD to interrupt and get himself tied up in the Patriot-Lock. Cesaro bounces off the second rope to break it, before administering a suplex to RVD, from the second rope from the outside. RVD delivers the Frog Splash to eliminate Swagger, followed by some gut wrenches and an impressive-looking bridge from Cesaro, who stands on perfectly-pointed toe like some sort of macho ballerina. Considering Heyman is watching ringside, it’s amazing that the “ECW” chants echoing around the arena haven’t begun sooner, or that they don’t last longer, or that he hasn’t said much in the way of encouragement. Outside, RVD delivers a roundhouse kick to his opponent at the barricade, before grabbing a trash can, which Cesaro kicks back, using it as offence against him (“Cesaro‘s not big on recycling” JBL quips). There’s an okay-looking Vandaminator (great word, almost German in length) before RVD pauses to pose and do his thumb chant thing on the top rope. He then launches off to land on Cesaro, who counters almost too easily to win. And there’s his weird siren music again, to remind us that nobody’s perfect, not even the king of swing (what does that even mean, he’s not a dancer).
Winner: Cesaro (even ABBA would make more sense)
Backstage, Daniel Bryan is being checked out by a doctor. Steph arrives, clad in a Nu Joisy-style outfit, to show respect for the crowd who are booing the hell out of her, and tries to explain how worried she is about his match tonight. Bryan assures her he’s going to walk out of the ring the same way he walks in, as champ, to which she responds “You’re going to walk out as Kane‘s bitch” (why are this lot suddenly so fond of mild swear words?) Up next, we get another fantastic Bo Dallas vignette, which is also booed, so that bodes (no pun intended) really well for his introduction on Raw.
2-on-1 Handicap Match: Alexander Rusev -v- R-Truth -v- Xavier Woods
Poor ol’ Xavier Woods was dragged out of NXT purely to be squashed underneath some giant, tubby Russian dude’s stinky foot. No wonder he looks so disinterested all the time, mirroring the crowd’s reaction to this rubbish. At least Lana is here (not dressed in a Nu Joisy getup, sadly) to pose and twirl before the night takes it first significant dip. It’s evident that her client hasn’t quite figured out who he is on the mic yet, so it makes sense that, when it comes time to dedicate the match to none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lana is the one delivering the killer blow. If only the match itself managed to utilise the intense heat that this move generates. It kicks off without any warning, in a flurry of missed moves and non-events as Woods is knocked out almost immediately (or maybe he’s just sleeping through it). R tries his best to establish himself somewhat – this is his first match in months, after all – but he’s only given about two minutes to do so before Rusev corners him and delivers the Accolade to win, yet again.
Winner: Alexander Rusev (Putin must be so proud)
Evolution are backstage with Renee, sporting bitchin’ new shirts emblazoned with skeletons (Orton’s is dancing, because he’s the jolliest member of the team) which seem to signal they’ve already lost, or are just moments away from retirement, or indeed death. Batista‘s has shoulder pads, because he’s vying for the Glenn Close character’s part in the stage production of Fatal Attraction. Only Triple H gets to talk, because fuck you all.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Bad News Barrett -v- Big E
Who could’ve predicted, back in January that none other than Wade Barrett would be vying for the IC championship tonight? He’s always been a stand-out talent, but he’s come remarkably far over the past few months, even if he did need a silly gimmick to get the push he deserved. He gets a HUGE pop as he enters tonight, even if his so-called bad news is that everyone is going to die. The match kicks off with some impressive back and forth between the two, with Barrett quickly gaining the upper hand. He delivers a shout-out to the great Mick Foley by quipping “Bang bang” before administering an elbow drop from the apron, following which he strands E on the top rope and pummels the hell out of him. E manages to administer the Belly To Belly (what an odd name for a move, is it perhaps even sillier than Big Ending?) and launch them both out of the ring. Barrett gains dominance again with the Winds Of Change and pins E, who kicks out, delivers a body slam and pins Barrett, who also kicks out. There’s an impressive Big Splash from E, before he tries to go for the Big Ending but Barrett counters it and administers the Bullhammer to win.
Winner: Bad News Barrett (Wade Barrett is IC Champ. Holy shit)
As BNB celebrates his win by kissing his new belt passionately on the mouth (belts totally have mouths, look it up), a sign in the crowd becomes visible which seems to read “HAT KIDZ” It’s not clear who these hat children are, but they may be hanging around with Sheamo and his hat, or maybe Bray, and his hat. Okay, it actually says HAI KIDZ but what kind of parent spells the word “hi” like a goddamn weeaboo? This moment of wonder is followed up by another, similarly-mad, vignette for Adam Rose, who is debuting on Raw next week. At the end of it, he can be heard very calmly stating “I love bunnies”, just as the music cuts out – this moment is more ominous, and filled with more foreboding, than every Wyatt vignette put together. Truly chilling.
6-Man Tag Team Match: Evolution -v- The Shield
The match that is otherwise known as old v young, kicks off with some impressive, simultaneous chain-wrestling as the group immediately splits off into pairs, with Rollins taking on Trips, Reigns handling Orton and Batista standing near Ambrose, who is on fire tonight, gurning and twitching like a freak (and deserves a better sparring partner). The Shield do away with their older counterparts almost immediately, before taking a moment to stroke each other’s dicks in the ring. It’s then up to Rollins, who arguably takes bumps, and sells them, better than most of the current roster, to take a beating from Trips as the others stalk out ringside and try to hit spots here and there. Orton tries to sneak up on Rollins at one point, but he tackles him effortlessly, leaving him to return to Reigns, and allowing Trips to deliver a pretty brutal clothesline. Ambrose gets a shot to exact some revenge, taking on Orton and laying into him. He does away with Batista in one hit, before delivering a figure-four that shows the Miz up as the worthless wannabe he is (as if more proof were needed). The ring is cleared for Reigns to take charge, as Batista is launched into the barricade, leading the crowd to begin a blistering “Boo-tista” chant. Trips flings Ambrose back into the ring and Batista takes the opportunity to pin him, but he kicks out, after some impressive selling for the camera. Ambrose is very aware of his angles, and he knows when to overdo it a bit for the camera, which is great to see. Trips corners him in a hail of uppercuts, followed by a spinebuster, out of which he kicks once again. Batista somehow manages to then get Ambrose locked in a choke-hold, which leads the audience to chant “You can’t wrestle” louder and louder as Ambrose eventually manages to power out, taking the opportunity to deliver a DDT on Triple H.
Reigns then clears the ring again as the three members of The Shield gather to deliver another, awe-inspiring triple powerbomb on the COO. Batista re-appears as the other members of Evolution drag Reigns out of the ring and Orton is then flung into the barricade. Rollins suicide dives out, but misses everyone and totals himself on the barricade also. The Spanish announce table is demolished (has it really lasted this long?), as Orton performs an RKO on Reigns. Batista then seizes the opportunity to pin Reigns, but Rollins interrupts before returning to the barricade and tackling Orton once more. A cameraman loses his feed as the action moves almost completely outside the ring, with Trips laying into Rollins and Ambrose legging it across both announce tables to break it up. Rollins and Trips fight behind the crowd, as Orton and Ambrose follow suit, continuing their struggle as the latter is flung down a flight of stairs. Orton follows and lays into him, as a distraught child yells “Get up, Dean! Get up!” (he is up, it has to be said, he’s just taking a beating is all, so relax, kid, Deano will survive). Just as it seems like all hope is gone, suddenly Rollins leaps from the tier above, out of nowhere, to tackle Orton and break his hold on Ambrose. Back in the ring, Batista tries for the Batista Bomb but Reigns counters with the Superman Punch, followed by a gut-wrenching Spear, to win. He then strolls over to his comrades, lifts Ambrose onto his shoulder and the three huddle together in triumph once more.
Winners: The Shield (back to your comfy chairs and Four In A Bed marathons, Grampas)
Bray Wyatt -v- John Cena
Of all the matches on the card tonight, this was my most-anticipated, not because it takes place in a steel cage (it’s impossible to see what’s happening on TV, let alone when one is actually sitting a few feet away from it) but thanks to the awesome build-up over the past few weeks, which has sought to ensure Bray is presented as a disturbed, misguided preacher type, and Cena his unwilling, conflicted convert. The build-up has been truly remarkable, with perhaps more time given to it than any other storyline, and as a result, this match seemed predetermined to be either life-changing or a complete and utter let-down. With respect to both participants, it wasn’t the stand-out of the night, but at least it wasn’t considered Main Event-worthy, because ending ER with it would’ve kind of sucked. Cena emerges with the crowd singing “John Cena sucks” along with his entrance theme, as they are wont to do, looking unnerved and anxious as he takes his spot inside the cage. Although the other members of his so-called family must remain on the outside for the duration of the match, Wyatt doesn’t let that hinder him, dominating immediately, hungry for the win. Cena tries to leave after about a minute by climbing over the top of the cage, but is stopped at the bottom by Harper and Rowan (I guess that doesn’t count as interfering?) Wyatt then pushes Cena’s face against the side of the cage and demands he apologise to everyone who came here to see him tonight.
He tries to leave through the door, but Cena pulls him back. Cena then tries to climb out, but is dragged back in, drop-kicking Wyatt in the process. Bray starts his weird, spider-crawl thing towards the door (would it not be faster to just walk?) but is stopped by his opponent once again, who takes the opportunity to deliver the 5-Knuckle Shuffle, followed by a powerbomb. Cena tries to leave again, but the Wyatts block the door, and then slam him with it. Trying a different approach, he climbs over the top once more, but Rowan gets underneath him and pushes him back over it again, like they’re at a show and he’s tired of Cena getting a better view than him. Cena takes the top rope and then pins Wyatt, but he kicks out again, leading Cena to attempt to climb out once more and, when stopped by Harper, he changes tactics and pulls him into the ring with them instead. Wyatt tries to make his escape through the door, but Cena stops him and slams it shut, while Rowan stands poised with chair in hand in case Cena tries to climb over again. Wyatt tries for the Sister Abigail, but Cena counters with the STF. As Wyatt tries to escape, Cena grabs his feet, and Harper grabs his arms, resulting in a tug-of-war. Cena takes the top rope, delivers the Attitude Adjustment, and pins Wyatt. Wyatt kicks out, as Rowan intervenes. All three lie motionless in the ring, until Cena starts crawling towards the door again. Suddenly, the lights go out. When they come back on, a small child, clad in a black robe and utilising a voice changer so he sounds like an eighties horror movie villain while he sings, guards the doorway. Wyatt seizes his moment to deliver the Sister Abigail and, rather shockingly for everyone who expected Cena to make yet another miraculous recovery, he wins.
Winner: Bray Wyatt (finally, he has the whole world in his hands)
Divas Championship Match: Paige -v- Tamina Snuka
Seemingly, Tamina rarely gets a look in when it comes to Divas matches because she isn’t as conventionally pretty as some of the other ladies on the roster (also she doesn’t star on their shitty, yet strangely addictive, reality show), but the girl can fight and tonight, she is moving like she’s hungry for it, like she knows this is her moment and that she finally has a worthy opponent in Paige. The action kicks off with the current champ locking Tamina in the corner, before delivering a flying drop-kick that looks more impressive than every other move delivered by Eva Marie over the course of her entire “career” (including her Maxim shoot). She then sits on Tamina’s shoulders and flips her over backwards, before taking the top rope. Tamina kicks her off, and drags her over to pin her. Paige kicks out, delivers a powerbomb and pins Tamina for a three-count which the ref fucks up because, let’s face it, it’s a Divas match, giving Tamina the chance to kick out. Paige exhibits just how slippery of an opponent she is by sliding out of every hold Tamina tries to put her in, countering everything as the crowd go totally silent, which is an insult given the fact that these two, at the very least, know how to fucking wrestle. Paige pins Tamina again, she kicks out, Tamina goes for the Super Kick but Paige counters with the Scorpion (which is NOT modified, Michael Cole, so please stop pretending it is because you’re too lazy to just Google it while you’re sitting there shilling) and Tamina taps out after a respectable thirty seconds or so.
Winner: Paige (this match could be replayed over and over for the next ten Raw shows and it’d still be better than whatever other rubbish the Divas are getting up to otherwise)
Before we get to the Main Event, the Wyatts are backstage with that same kid from earlier, who we quickly learn is named Little Jimmy, and who is obviously related to someone because he seems way too calm in the presence of these swamp people.
World Heavyweight Championship Extreme Rules Match: Daniel Bryan -v- Kane
Sadly, it’s kind of difficult to care that these two are up against each other in the Main Event tonight because the build-up for this match has been non-existent over the past few weeks. Seriously, why are these two even feuding? Is it simply because Trips has been too busy with the other two baldies to bully Bryan? Anyway, in case we’re wondering why the fuck these two have been pitted against one another, a recap precedes the match, during which there is no mention of hugging it out, or indeed of Team Hell No at all, which is a damn shame. Bryan attacks Kane before he’s even made it down the ramp, which sets the tone for what is going to be a surprisingly inventive, brutal and rather thrilling title match – for once, it’s not just “extreme rules” by name. Bryan grabs a chair and delivers a flying dropkick with it, before a Kendo stick is retrieved from beneath the ring (which is no longer Kane‘s home, I’m guessing) and what’s left of the Spanish announce table is demolished. Kane goes for a chokeslam off the table, but Bryan counters with a DDT, eliciting a rousing “Daniel Bryan” chant from the crowd, which quickly turns into a “Yes” chant as he grabs the Kendo stick – in fact, one dude in the front row is so enthusiastic, I’d be surprised if he’s wearing pants behind the barricade. The action moves away from the ring as Kane throws Bryan into one of the big screens, causing it to turn off, ruining the whole bizarre display. The two move backstage, where a cluster of nobodies are huddled, vying for their moment in the spotlight.
Kane chucks a TV into a bucket of iced water, for a moment making it seem as though electrocution may be an option tonight – well, Bryan has been almost-drowned before – as he uses anything and everything in sight to tear into his opponent. The referee, who has accompanied them, you know, just to make sure they’re still adhering to the old “extreme rules” adage, screams at the two to get back in the ring, but to no avail. They move to the parking lot, where Bryan retrieves a snow shovel and uses it to whack the shit out of Kane, who is stuck on the hood of a car, the windscreen of which is then broken with a fire extinguisher. Bryan searches in the trunk for weapons, eventually happening upon a crowbar, which he uses to completely debilitate Kane, eventually leaving him lying motionless on a forklift. We watch in abject horror/admiration as Bryan climbs behind the wheel (“Run him into a wall!” an ecstatic King yells) and proceeds to drive his unconscious opponent back to the ring, where he raises him up over the ropes and drops him in, before using the lift itself to launch himself onto Kane, and pin him. Maddeningly, he kicks out, leading to a massive “Yes” chant from the crowd as Kane recovers enough to chokeslam his opponent and pin him, out of which Bryan somehow finds the energy to kick. Then, visibly shaking, Kane sets him up for a Tombstone, but Bryan counters it to deliver the Yes-Lock. He then grabs the Kendo stick again and uses it to enhance the Yes-Lock as he tightens his grip. Kane powers out, gets out of the ring, and throws Bryan through the announce table. He then sets up another table, pours gasoline over it and sets it alight, but before he can throw his opponent through it, Bryan is back on his feet and manages to push him into it instead. Finally, Bryan delivers a swift and simple, yet brutal, knee to Kane‘s face to pin him, ending the carnage to win and retain the title.
Winner: Daniel Bryan (well-deserved is an understatement)
The Main Event was an insane, thrilling and suitably shocking end to an absolute blast of a PPV, which actually made a case for giving more attention to the smaller shows (even those with stupid gimmicks, such as this). The match was genuinely an extreme rules fight, utilising weapons and different locations and with two enthusiastic, fearless, and very skilled fighters at its core. At first, it seemed as though they were paired up for the sake of it, which is probably still true, but it really worked out well in the end, and their match was one of the stand-outs of the night, alongside The Shield v Evolution, Barrett’s win over E, Bray’s win over Cena (though that was a dull match, in general) and even the Divas match which, for once, showcased two genuine talents.
The two, sort-of low points of the night came with RVD’s inclusion in what should have been a great one-on-one match with ex-teammates Cesaro and Swagger. It’s not that RVD is a bad wrestler, but his presence was totally unnecessary tonight, and he didn’t really do anything of interest in the ring. Likewise, what the hell has Rusev done to deserve a PPV spot? He’s only had squash matches thus far, and tonight was more of the shame, with only Lana‘s shout-out to Putin generating any kind of heat for what was obviously, from the outset, going to be another win for this newbie. Rusev could be great, but he needs to be put up against others of his ilk, like Ryback, or even his teammate Curtis Axel, both of whom could easily take him, maybe even giving him an angle.
Overall, Extreme Rules was a surprisingly entertaining PPV. The matches were consistently entertaining, inventive and shocking, with just the right mixture of brutality and skill on show. In the shows building up to it, it seemed like everything was going to fall apart tonight, but really, we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome, with favourites Cesaro, Daniel Bryan, Bad News Barrett, The Shield and, most shockingly of all, Bray Wyatt, walking away victorious and the action hurtling along at a breakneck pace throughout. The less said about the post-show press conference, the better.
Funnily enough, what Extreme Rules boasted in name, it delivered in practice.