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The Shield Takes Over Extreme Rules

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One of the most anticipated and intriguing events on the WWE calendar has been Extreme Rules ever since its introduction to WWE over five years ago. Originally a homage to the original ECW’s “One Night Stand” this year’s instalment was another firm example that extreme wrestling has no place in today’s WWE. The first two matches on the card were legit wrestling matches with absolutely no gimmicks attached and the Tornado rules attached to the WWE Tag Team Title match were hardly what you could call extreme. However I found the pay-per-view very enjoyable, full of interesting matches and feuds I wanted to see resolved. My only objection is don’t label something extreme when what you want to offer a is rough at best. What was on the menu was jalapenos and I was served bacon and cabbage.

Our opening contest was a straight up rematch from Wrestlemania pitting the flavour of the month Fandango against the six time world champion Chris Jericho. A lively encounter this match was very similar to their Mania encounter in many ways. They told the same story again of the experienced veteran trying to beat some respect into the brash upstart Fandango. In the middle of the match there was a small lull however the last 5 minutes became more action packed and it looked like either man could pick up the big win. This match has highlighted Fandango’s skill in the ring more than any of his other matches to date. In the end it was a surprising code breaker from the top rope that gave Jericho his redemption over his ballroom dancing nemesis. Fandango looked strong coming out of the defeat however and his star still appears to be shining bright.

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The next match was the match I was most looking forward to on the card, the one-on-one contest between reigning US champion Kofi Kingston and The Shield representative Dean Ambrose. This was the first opportunity any of The Shield members has had at championship gold and the first time one of them has competed in a singles match on a pay-per-view. Before the two locked up there was a surprising amount of support for Ambrose despite his villainous character. It was a real sign of respect from the diehard fans, who have been following Ambrose since before he even entered the WWE. This match was solid and a real flashback to the undercard matches of old where there was animosity, passion and technical skill giving these bouts the attention they deserve. This has been something missing from many of the lower championship bouts for quite a number of years now. The entire match had a real old school feel while still offering very much new school style moves. Many people predicted that Ambrose was a shoo-in to walk away with the victory however they crafted the match so well that at various moments towards the end it looked like it could have gone either way. Eventually the inevitable happened and Dean Ambrose picked up this first championship in WWE. The other Shield members joined in the ring for a great celebration and all of a sudden the United States championship has become a lot more interesting.

Our next match was the first with an “extreme” stipulation. Sheamus was taking on the World’s Strongest Man Mark Henry in a strap match. The rules of the strap match are that the two competitors are tied to each other at the wrists by a strap, they then have to touch each of the four ring post in succession without their momentum being stopped by their opponent who will obviously be resisting at the other end of the strap. The strap can be used as a weapon at any time. This was a relatively enjoyable match. Both Sheamus and Mark Henry tried to do things that haven’t been seen before in this very restricting type of matchup. It told a classic story of the valiant warrior trying to get past the immovable monster. Eventually Sheamus pulled off a surprise upset and actually won the match despite everybody feeling that Sheamus was going to be fed to Mark Henry in order to fuel his monster push. Even though this was definitely a brawl and they did incorporate the strap it was not nearly worthy of its extreme moniker. JBL must of had mixed feelings watching the match as he competed in what is widely considered to be the measuring stick for strap matches with Eddie Guerrero. Now that match was definitely extreme. Still in today’s current PG environment it was impossible to have a match of that style and saw the two men did their best to work around the contradiction of an extreme match on a PG show.

ImageNext we were presented with the second outing of the evening that would see The Shield members competing for championship gold. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns were given the task to do what no other tag-team has been able to do for close to a year, dethrone Team Hell No. The tornado rules even though not extreme definitely suited The Shield’s frantic style and the big man/small man dynamic of Daniel Bryan and Kane. This match served up action fast and frequently with both teams giving a gargantuan effort. This match proves that you do not need weapons or intimidating structures to have an incredibly physical matchup. Eventually Daniel Bryan and Kane succumbed to the hounds of justice’s chaotic attack and The Shield rounded out their trifecta of Championships. We are in for a very interesting couple of weeks as we see how The Shield carry themselves now that they are champions.

The following match was a contingency plan put in place when World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler suffered concussion 10 nights ago. With Dolph unable to compete or even travel to the Extreme Rules pay-per-view it was decided that Jack Swagger and Alberto del Rio would face off in an I quit match where which ever one of the submission specialists picks up the win would be granted a future World Heavyweight Championship match against Ziggler. Another match which is very hard to pull off if you cannot go to the extreme, the idea is basically to torture your opponent until they utter the words “I quit”. It was very interesting as both Swagger and Del Rio’s finishing manoeuvres are submission-based holds. This match carried predictably for the first three quarters as the bad guy Swagger tortured Del Rio in various despicable ways with the Mexican hero refusing to quit. However towards the end there was a strange twist as Swagger’s manager Zeb Colter pushed over Ricardo Rodriguez and threw in the towel behind the referees back convincing the referee that Ricardo was throwing in the towel for his buddy. The whole arena was left stunned as Swagger was leaving with the all-important victory when all of a sudden another referee came down and explained the situation to the current referee. Upon viewing video evidence of the deceit the referee restarted the match and Del Rio quickly picked up the submission victory with his cross arm breaker. I find it terribly worrying when pro wrestling has television match officials and football still doesn’t.

ImageNext up was hometown favourite Randy Orton taking on the giant task of defeating The Big Show in an extreme rules match. The two experienced superstars provided us with a pretty entertaining matchup despite there not being enough prestige or personal justice on the line to warrant its extreme rules stipulation. This feud has very much had the feeling that it was their simply to occupy both men’s time until they had something more interesting for either of them. Orton appears to be going through the motions while rumours of his frustration backstage continue to circle. There were some innovative spots and use of weapons I hadn’t seen before but this match lacked any tangible importance to it. The last few seconds had to be the highlight of the match as we saw the return of Randy Orton’s punt kick. This should continue to feed the flames of Orton’s slow heel turn and perhaps take Big Show off TV for a couple of weeks.

ImageThe WWE championship match was our penultimate contest. John Cena defended his championship against monstrous juggernaut Ryback in a last man standing match. To win this match you have to beat your opponent down so badly that they cannot stand up within a referees 10 count. Both men have been marred by criticism that neither of them have real wrestling skill but they put on a pretty good match here. By no means a technical showcase these men just unloaded big power moves on each other. Ryback looked very much John’s equal and sometimes his superior over the course of the matchup. Of course there were several embarrassing Cena moments including Cena stalking the monster with a fire extinguisher in a sheepish manner and then there was the splash. While the champion and challenger fought around the arena John sprawled his young contender on the table and quickly climbed up onto a slightly elevated platform by the fans. He gave us a “why not?” kind of shrug and proceeded to land a simply terrible splash on Ryback through the table. There are some things John Cena does very well, he can cut a fantastic promo when motivated, give him the right opponent and they can put on a great match and he has a connection with the fans that very few superstars can ever hope to emulate. However he is in no way an athletic ring technician. He has no business attempting dropkicks, hurricanranas and in this particular case splashes. Superstars like Daniel Bryan need to do these kind of moves because given their appearance and size they cannot be believable fighting musclebound behemoths unless they can show they have an arsenal of innovative and impressive moves. John Cena does not need these moves as he is a freak of nature when it comes to strength and is loved by the fans (for the most part) no matter what moves he does as long as he hits his five knuckle shuffle and an AA. Someone needs to sit John Cena down and implore him to stop doing these moves because they’re only embarrassing himself and whoever is forced to sell them. Anyway the match ended with an interesting twist as Ryback charged Cena through the lights of the stage resulting in the match being called off by the referee and Cena being stretchered away. It’s obvious that Payback will see a rematch between the two lions jousting to become King of the Jungle.

ImageSpeaking of King of the Jungle, the final match was long-time rivals the King of Kings Triple H against the beast incarnate Brock Lesnar. This match took place in WWE’s new and improved steel cage. The two men predictably brought the physicality and this match like many of the others on tonight’s card was a down and out brawl. Early on in the match Brock appeared to injure his leg, we don’t know at time of writing was this a legitimate injury although it probably wasn’t, and spent most the match playing the part of the wounded but prideful animal. They played this card too early in the match as Brock was relatively immobile for the most of the match and hence the bout suffered accordingly. This match only proved how stale the Brock Lesnar/Triple H feud has become and with Brock Lesnar picking up the win I hope this is the end of it. A mundane enough ending to a pretty good pay-per-view. The irony of this year’s Extreme Rules was the matches with the least extreme elements seemed to be the best of the show.

Match of the night: Dean Ambrose VS Kofi Kingston

Extreme highlight of the night: Top rope code breaker from Jericho

Star of the night: Dean Ambrose

Pay-per-view rating: 6 out of 10

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