I’ll be the first to admit that I was not that pumped for Extreme Rules. I saw all the rematches and yearned for something new. I saw all the hardcore matches as further distraction from real wrestling. I thought Cena/Lesnar was interesting but would be more of the same we’ve seen from both. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Instead of simply following in WrestleMania 28’s footsteps, Extreme Rules took last month’s PPV and turned it up to eleven, delivering with drama, extreme action and in-ring action alike.
First let’s get to the main event and what everyone will be talking about tomorrow. To put it bluntly, Brock Lesnar beat the crap out of John Cena for roughly 20 minutes. After getting busted open by Lesnar a few weeks ago on Raw, Brock pulled the same routine about a minute into the match, elbowing Cena in the back of the head and making him a bloody mess for the entire match, which had to be stopped twice to superglue Cena’s head together (not exaggerating). The rest of the match was Lesnar dominating as much as I’ve ever seen anyone dominate before. If you thought Tensai and Clay could throw people around, then you haven’t seen Lesnar. It was also a nice touch that Brock wore his MMA gear (allowed through his contract, very rare), and it can’t be talked about enough how much of a monster he is. Anyway he pummeled Cena to the point where the crowd started pulling for Cena (not easy to do) who finally hit Lesnar with a fist full of chains and an AA on the steel steps to secure the win. Hip hip hooray, Cena’s off the snide.
But the real story is what happened after the match. Cena’s right arm was noticeably dangling from his shoulder by the end, which he even acknowledged when he addressed the crowd. He then started talking about how he’ll probably get fired (on camera) for what he’s going to say, but mentioned how all of the good guys and bad guys sacrificed their bodies at Extreme Rules, and thanked Chicago for being such a great wrestling city (he actually said wrestling!). He also said (off and on mic) that he’ll probably be leaving for a while, citing both his injury and that Laurinaitis would kick him out (for what I still don’t know). Then as Cena walked up the ramp he was again heard off camera telling a fan about his arm, saying something like “it just feels like it’s hanging there.”
How much of this is legit or not I can’t say. He definitely looked hurt but he’s in the business of selling injuries so who knows what you can take from that. It is pretty rare for a post match mic session to be put on air (which again can go either way) and he sounded fairly genuine. It’s also possible that he is just in line for some scheduled time off and what better way to send him off than with a “severe” injury in a big win. Works for Triple H and the Undertaker. If it’s planned out (which I tend to think it is) then I think they wanted Cena to make his leave with as much positive reaction as possible, so that whenever he does come back in isn’t to as many boos. I also think they are enjoying having Punk as champion so much that they want to keep him their, and don’t know how to transition Cena back into the title picture yet (which eventually he has to). Either way Cena is still the biggest draw, so for their sake I hope he comes back as soon as possible (unless it’s a work, which in that case screw him).
On to the rest of the card. Jericho and Punk had me really worried that having a Chicago Street Fight would take away all of the wrestling they were known for. I wasn’t put at ease when they both came out in jeans instead of traditional wrestling gear. What we got however might have been the best combination of both. It started slow and expectedly weapon filled, but by the middle of the match there was a great combination of technical wrestling mixed in with weapons. The Anaconda Vice countered with a kendo stick. Code breakers with chairs were hit. My favorite spot had Punk crawling to the ropes while in the Walls of Jericho, only it didn’t mean anything because of the street fight rules. That lead to Punk reaching down toward the arena floor to grab and use a fire extinguisher on Jericho to break the hold. The key to the whole thing was the stipulation that the pin or submission had to be in the ring. That kept things from going backstage which is the least entertaining thing possible, and kept these guys where they do their best work. After more taunting from Jericho (tacked on but he finally has full heel status for it), Y2J went to finish Punk with a GTS, which Punk reversed and delivered a GTS of his own to retain the title.
So now Jericho has lost to Punk in two PPV’s, once by submission and once by pinfall, both clean. Where can Jericho go from here? The rumor is that Jericho will be gone before Summerslam, which is four months away, to go on tour with Fozzy. That means he could leave now or three months from now, and if Cena’s gone I’m not sure what else he can do besides keep feuding with Punk, who’s he’s now lost to twice already. Punk meanwhile has been champion for six months and is running out of opponents. Does Lord Tensai get a push? Jericho/Punk part 3? It’s possible Lesnar get’s the next shot would make for some good old fashioned MMA style fighting. I could also see Daniel Bryan switching to Raw and gunning for Punk now that he’s lost to Sheamus.
Speaking of which, what a great match Bryan and Sheamus had. It had everything you want in a great match. The crowd had been waiting four weeks for this one and they were ready for it. Electric stuff. It’s always special when a heel becomes so popular that the face gets booed, and that’s what happened here. Then the storyline they told worked really well. After a hard fought back and forth battle that would have been a great TV main event any other day, Bryan then attacked Sheamus’ shoulder in the corner so brutally that he purposefully got disqualified for the first of 3 falls, only to immediately administer the Yes Lock to get take the second and tie it up. Sheamus, who was very impressive, managed to secure the win with a couple of brogue kicks, but the star of the show was still Bryan. For the first time since I started watching him, he had everything clicking in a big spot. He was a smaller heel being treated as a face, making a giant beast of a face look like the underdog by the end of the match. Loved it.
Now that the WWE seems committed to Sheamus as a champion all signs point to him meeting Alberto Del Rio at Over the Limit in May. Bryan on the other hand has no direct path. One thing that surprised me about the match was that AJ was nowhere to be seen. Probably for the better, but I’m sure she’ll pop up later this week.
Other notes from Extreme Rules:
Cody Rhodes beat the Big Show in a table match on a technicality, as Rhodes pushed Show slightly off the edge of the ring, having his foot (and just his foot) break through the table, and costing him the Intercontinental title. Show dominated the whole match, including throwing Rhodes through two tables post match, so this feud seems to have another chapter or two left.
Randy Orton opened the show by defeating Kane in a match that would have bored me completely had it been after any of the other matches mentioned above. They had some decent spots, but too much throwing people into objects outside the ring, which we all know by now that I hate. Let’s give it up to a random Zach Ryder appearance though.
Brodus Clay’s feud with Vicki Guerrero took another turn when he had an actual back and forth match against Dolph Ziggler. Clay won of course but Ziggler put up a good fight and we got to see Clay fight back a little. It’s taking a while, but we’re starting to see what this guy is actually made of. Decent job.
On the YouTube pre show, Santino retained his US Championship against the Miz who seems to be dropping further and further down the depth chart.
Ryback was correctly labeled as Goldberg by the crowd, defeating two hilariously awesome local wrestlers.
As for the ladies, Layla came back to beat the Bella’s for the Diva’s title. Kharma’s name now gets tossed around like a an urban legend, and Beth Phoenix will be out for a while with her leg “injury.”
Oh yeah, Michael Cole called out Booker T for saying he knew Sheamus was tired by looking at all his sweat, and said that if Booker’s fighting was anything like his announcing, he’d do fine in a fight against him.
Overall I’d say it was a pretty successful pay-per-view. Very few dead spots and the time killing was kept to a minimum. We also saw plenty of blood (the best way to get Cena on the crowd’s side) and plenty of regular wrestling too. Did I miss anything you noticed? If so, leave a comment below.
-Update: I just realized the pics are in black and white so you can’t see the blood! Oh WWE, you are sooooooooo slick.