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April 27, 2015

Your Extreme Rules review: Do stipulations really matter anymore?

Wrestling Extreme Rules
042715_extremerules_Twitter Twitter/WWE

Seth Rollins celebrates after walking out of Extreme Rules still WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

Sunday night’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois felt more like a setup for next month’s Payback pay-per-view than anything being settled at this event. The booking was questionable at best, and I just didn’t think a lot of the decisions made a whole lot of sense.

We already have one rematch booked for May, with others likely coming as soon as tonight. Billed as being the one night of the year the WWE goes extreme, this event was pretty tame compared to past years.

I made my predictions last week right here at PhillyVoice so let’s see how I did.

Extreme Rules Kickoff Show

Bad News Barrett vs. Neville

WWE announced hours before the event that Daniel Bryan was not cleared to compete and defend the Intercontinental Championship against Bad News Barrett. Neville wrestled in Bryan’s place. I don’t mind this match being moved to the Kickoff Show, especially since it bumped the Tag Team Championship match to the main card. Though, on the other side, it would have been great to see Neville get on the main card, but you can’t win them all.

Barrett and Neville had a fine match, one that allowed the latter to showcase his high-flying ability. Despite his small stature, Neville’s build and aerial capabilities make him one of the more unique superstars on the roster. He’s looked good in every match so far since being called up to the main roster; he kicked out of two of Barrett’s signature moves and countered a third before hitting Barrett with his finisher to get the win. The ending sequence of the match is worth watching if you missed it, and the WWE Network is free for four more days, so get on it.

Your winner: Neville by pinfall via the Red Arrow.

Not counting this one in my predictions count.

Chicago Street Fight

Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper

Ever since Harper powerbombed Ambrose onto the ladder outside of the ring at WrestleMania, Ambrose has had his sights set on Harper. The match was what you would expect, at least in the beginning. Some good spots and a brawl all over the arena was what this match should have been. But nobody saw what would come just over ten minutes into the match.

Harper commandeered a vehicle and drove off, but not before Ambrose jumped into the car – twice – once through the door, then once through the window after Harper was able to get Ambrose out of the car and close the door. With both superstars gone, the show went on.

Kiss Me Arse Match

Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus

This feud has been brewing since Sheamus returned to WWE the night after WrestleMania and attacked both Bryan and Ziggler. His explanation essentially became that he wanted to destroy all of the fans’ heroes because they are simply weak. While Sheamus’ look has grown on me the last couple weeks, I still think he looks ridiculous and should have kept his old look.

The ending of the match came out of nowhere when Ziggler rolled Sheamus up in a small package for the three count. Sheamus was absolutely mortified and initially refused to kiss Ziggler’s arse, and wanted the bellkeeper to restart the match, to no avail.

While the ending may have been unpredictable given how Sheamus has been pushed since returning, I don’t mind the loss for Sheamus after seeing what he did to Ziggler after the match. Sheamus low blowed Ziggler then gave him a Brogue Kick, which is exactly what should have happened since he lost. Even-Steven booking is never good for anyone involved, yet I think this case of that booking worked. Sheamus then rubbed Ziggler’s face into his asscheek, which likely garnered him more heat than he had before, which is the name of the game.

Your winner: Dolph Ziggler by pinfall via small package.

Predictions: 0-1.

WWE Tag Team Championship

Tyson Kidd and Cesaro vs. The New Day [Kofi Kingston and Big E]

Kidd and Cesaro were heels initially, but they’ve been getting cheered loudly, especially the last few weeks, and Sunday night was no different. That’s likely why WWE went with The New Day as the No. 1 contenders instead of the Lucha Dragons. “New Day s*cks!” chants rang out quite a bit.

There was a sequence in the match where Cesaro got the tag and wound up Irish-whipping Kofi from corner to corner following it up with a European uppercut each time. That was one of the more fun sequences I’ve seen in a match. Later in the match, Kofi and Big E hit their double-team finisher on Kidd, but Cesaro broke up the pin with a crawling headbutt, which was another cool sequence. Cesaro and Kidd hit their double-team finisher before Xavier Woods interrupted the count, Kidd hit Woods, Big E hit Kidd, Cesaro hit Big E, then Kofi rolled up Cesaro for the surprising victory.

This match was a lot better than I expected, but I was definitely surprised at the title change.

Your winners and NEW WWE Tag Team Champions: The New Day by pinfall via rollup.

Predictions: 0-2.

During a post-match promo with The New Day in the back, Ambrose and Harper returned in the vehicle they left the arena with - this time with Ambrose behind the wheel and Harper a passenger as JBL aptly pointed out. The two battled back into the arena and dumped a whole bunch of steel chairs into the ring before continuing their Chicago Street Fight.

This match technically would go almost an hour, and may be the only other time WWE had two simultaneous matches on a pay-per-view at a time - the first being the Hollywood Back Lot Brawl between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Goldust. Harper tried burying Ambrose in the steel chairs after powerbombing him onto one, but Ambrose got out and flung him onto the chairs from the top rope before hitting him with his finisher.

Your winner: Dean Ambrose by pinfall via Dirty Deeds.

Predictions: Finally on the board. 1-2.

Some breaking news was given to us during the pay-per-view, and it was in the form of a WWE Network advertisement between matches. Some new content is coming this week, including the return of the King of the Ring tournament, which will begin tonight on Raw and end tomorrow night with the Finals being exclusively broadcast on the Network.

This week will feature new content each night, beginning tonight with “Too Hot For TV” featuring Jerry Springer, immediately following Raw.

Tuesday will have the King of the Ring tournament finals.

Wednesday will debut Mick Foley’s “Cheap Pops” comedy special beginning at 9 pm.

Immediately following SmackDown on Thursday night, Chris Jericho interviews Stephanie McMahon on his “Talk Is Jericho” podcast.

Friday night builds on the Floyd Mayweather, Jr. name before his big fight against Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night with the Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather WrestleMania 24 special.

It’ll certainly be a big week for the WWE Network as WWE tries to gain more subscribers before the free month of April is over.

Russian Chain Match for the United States Championship

John Cena (c) vs. Rusev

The rules for this match became quite clear when we saw the green and red lights mounted at each ring post. Before that, nobody really knew what to expect in this match or how to win it - even I just thought the two superstars would be connected to each end of the chain and be able to use it as a weapon. It turns out the rules were basic strap/bullrope match rules where each superstar could only win after touching all four ringposts in succession.

In the middle of the match, the fans were chanting for Lana and she got up on the ring apron to acknowledge the chants and wave at the fans. Rusev, incensed, sent her to the locker room. The rest of the match was a race for the turnbuckles, which included a cool moment where both Cena and Rusev had three turnbuckles lit, and were at a standoff in the middle of the ring. Rusev went for the fourth one but Cena was able to prevent him from getting there and he hit Rusev with an Attitude Adjustment and touched his fourth turnbuckle for the win.

Your winner and STILL United States Champion: John Cena

Predictions: 1-3.

Divas Championship

Nikki Bella (c) vs. Naomi

Naomi was given this title match after taking out Paige in her home country of England, shelving Paige for the time being. In reality, Paige is taking time off to film WWE’s next film with The Miz called Santa’s Little Helper. Both Nikki and Naomi are playing heels, but there were more cheers for Naomi during her entrance. 

Brie tried getting the audience behind Nikki by clapping at ringside, but it didn’t really catch on. The Bellas used heel tactics as Brie kicked Naomi from the outside while the referee was preoccupied with Nikki, but the crowd loved it. They cheered loudly when Nikki pinned Naomi.

So, I guess they are faces now? This is the type of storytelling WWE is sorely lacking, and it’s so easy to explain if they just cared about their stories. It’s frustrating watching a television show when you don’t know what the hell’s going on at times.

Your winner and STILL Divas Champion: Nikki Bella by pinfall via the Rack Attack.

Predictions: 2-4.

After the match, Rusev was seen yelling at Lana backstage, and apparently sent Lana into the office of The Authority - much to the surprise of the crowd - which let out a big “OOOOOH!” when Lana entered their room.

Last Man Standing

Roman Reigns vs. Big Show

I still couldn’t care less about the Big Show. He’s not a big name anymore in WWE and nobody gains any credibility by facing him. His ship has long sailed, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t think it was impressive a man of his age (43) and size (7’0”, 425 lbs.) is still going strong. Every Last Man Standing match seems the same - a few big spots, close calls, one huge spot that ends the match. This match was textbook Last Man Standing in the beginning and picked up as the match went on. The two delivered with a really impressive spot with Show chokeslamming Reigns out of the ring onto two tables onto the floor.

While Show was setting up the ring steps near the announce table, he picked up JBL’s notepad and remarked, “What do you mean Big Show needs to lose weight!?” Some comedic relief in a Last Man Standing match - that’s definitely not out of the textbook… or notepad. Show launched himself head first into the table set up in the corner of the ring after a failed spear attempt, then a spear by Reigns sent Show to the outside, where Reigns found him again and speared him through the barricade. When Show recovered, he was set to chokeslam Reigns off the steps through the announce table, but Reigns would counter and spear Show off one announce table onto the next. Surprisingly, Show would answer the ten count, but not before Reigns solidified his victory with a little announce table retribution.

The ending sequence of the match was really good and executed perfectly. Reigns poured it on at the end with a terrific comeback and lifted the other announce table and buried the giant under it. Michael Cole, definitely being fed this line from Vince McMahon, said, “Roman Reigns has arrived!”

Your winner: Roman Reigns

Predictions: 3-5.

Bo Dallas made a surprise appearance and immediately berated the crowd for not showering. Before he could get out his patented, “All you have to do is BO-LIEVE!” phrase, Ryback’s music hit, and he was hungry. He nailed Dallas with Shell Shock, and that was your bathroom break opportunity. Shame on you if you didn’t take it.

Was that also WWE’s way of hinting that Bray Wyatt’s next target is Ryback? Will they finally acknowledge Wyatt and Dallas are brothers? Will Wyatt start a new family with his real-life brother? At least there’s some interest there heading into Raw tonight.

Lana announced in a backstage segment with Rusev that the final chapter in the Rusev/Cena rivalry will take place at next month’s Payback pay-per-view, with Rusev challenging for Cena’s United States Championship in an “I Quit” Match.

Steel Cage Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

The RKO is banned; Kane is the “Guardian of the Gate”

Seth Rollins (c) vs. Randy Orton

Orton had confronted Kane in a backstage segment earlier, and with the tension between Rollins and the Big Red Machine being a huge backstory to this match, I figured he would play a large part in the outcome of the match. I wasn’t far off. The match was okay for what it was, nothing spectacular. There was a pretty fun moment where Orton used the pedigree, but Rollins kicked out of the pin attempt. Orton had tried to use the cage door to escape, but Kane shut the door and wouldn’t allow him.

Rollins, aiming for Orton, missed and kicked the door back into Kane, who became incensed and went into the ring. With J & J Security trying to stop him, the Director of Operations chokeslammed them out of his way before stalking Rollins. However, Kane chokeslammed Orton first to the surprise of a lot of people, then as Rollins tried to escape through the door, Kane chokeslammed him. A little revenge never hurts, right? Kane tried to make good by placing Rollins over Orton for the pin, but Orton kicked out.

Kane then waited for Orton to get up and was set to give him the tombstone piledriver, but Orton countered with an RKO, then walked into an RKO of his own from Rollins, who then escaped the cage and was billed as the winner.

Your winner and STILL WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Seth Rollins

Predictions: 4-6.

I wasn’t a fan of how overbooked most of that main event was, but at an event such as this, it’s hard to be completely angry at what we witnessed. There are no rules in a cage match, and it would be awesome if Rollins brought that up tonight on Raw when explaining why he was able to use the RKO and Orton wasn’t. Even if Rollins was disqualified, he would still keep the championship. JBL seemingly was parroting what we could hear tonight as Rollins was able to use the RKO but Orton wasn’t. I get that booking, but it doesn’t mean I like it. Rollins should have pinned Orton instead of escape the cage after the RKO if the referee wasn’t going to disqualify him, but I guess we can’t have everything we want in life.

Overall, I didn’t think this was a terrible show, but it could have been a lot better. The matches were good, but I didn’t think a majority of the outcomes were. Whether the booking improves heading into next month’s Payback pay-per-view or not, the outcomes need to make more sense than they did Sunday night. WWE even seemed confused:

I hope you all enjoyed Extreme Rules more than I did! Catch my Raw Roundup tomorrow morning right here as we hopefully get some answers that make sense tonight.