WrestleMania is the PPV where we usually see the good guys win and the feuds come to an end. It’s not always that way, but that’s usually the case. This year continued a tradition that first began with Backlash 1999 and saw a number of WrestleMania repeats with special added stipulations. Backlash became Extreme Rules in 2010 and has remained World Wrestling Entertainment’s first post-Wrestlemania gimmick-themed PPV ever since.
In a PPV that I’ll dub “WrestleMania 28 Part Deux,” the WWE followed up its biggest show of the year with an incredibly fast sequel (this PPV took place just 28 days later – luckily, without the enraged zombies). While there have been plenty of PPVs that suffered from lack of build, the fact that the WWE chose to carry over feuds into this show really helped it out. The biggest questions about the April PPV is if all of the rematches top their WrestleMania bouts, or did some falter after setting the stage at the biggest show of them all?
Let’s break down the matches below and find out!
Falls Count Anywhere
Randy Orton Vs. Kane
I’ll say right off the bat, that I really dislike the introductions after the wrestlers come down to the ring. After the music hits, have the announcer say who the wrestler is as they make their way down to the ring, don’t add a minute or so of time to the start of a bout where we’re told who’s in the ring. The odd part is, it only happens for certain matches, which makes it inconsistent, and just odd.
With a street fight between Jericho and Punk happening later in the card, Kane and Orton have almost no choice but to just make this a walk around brawl to kick off the show. The WWE isn’t going to blow huge spots at the start of the PPV that they need later for the street fight, though that makes a falls count anywhere match a bit harder to pull off – especially since they’ve got to drag one another all around the arena in order to make the stipulation mean anything.
In the end, there was a lot of walking around just trading blows, and a few solid shots here and there, but when it all comes down to it, the most entertaining parts took place in the ring at the end. Still, a stipulation was needed, and while I think a “Steel Pipe on a Pole” match may have worked better, there’s only so much these two can do in the ring, and with their WrestleMania match being a regular match, having them just pound on one another from one side of the arena to the other helped change things up a bit. Overall a solid opener to the show, in a match that pretty much equaled their ‘Mania bout, just with a different result.
“The Funkasaurus” Brodus Clay Vs. Dolph Ziggler
This match isn’t even written on the DVD case, which is kind of odd. It was Clay’s first PPV match, and it was what it was. I don’t dislike the Funkasaurus character, as it’s nice to have an unstoppable force of sorts who’s a face that will stick up for the little guy, as there’s already plenty of heel versions in the WWE. In the end Clay wins, and Ziggler continues to be the best in the business at selling moves like a champion, which make his opponents look that much better.
I’m wondering if maybe Ziggler needs a solid face turn at this point, so that he can turn heel even bigger later (ala The Rock), by turning on a main eventer and being hated that much more because of it. At this point, as good as he is, he just seems to be treading water, so maybe that’d be a nice way to make something happen for him.
Tables Match for the Intercontinental Championship
Big Show Vs Cody Rhodes
These two had a solid WrestleMania match, and they follow it up with another quick, yet solid outing. The look on Show’s face when he steps through the table to lose worked really well, and helped sell the finale. Show also not just shrugging and walking to the back worked as well, with Show just taking his frustrations out on Rhodes by tossing him through two tables.
While Show would go back to his smiley self in the coming weeks, the booing from the crowd here and the Show’s anger helped plant some seeds of what was to come of Show in the coming weeks. Overall, the end to this match was actually really smart, and the match itself was on par with their Wrestlemania match, which was entertaining enough to warrant multiple viewings.
2 Out of 3 Falls Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Sheamus Vs Daniel Bryan
Chicago has always had a great crowd when it comes to wrestling events, and this one was no different. They’re pretty much on fire the whole night, with this one likely getting the biggest reactions of the night. Of course, the match between these two was more a joke at WrestleMania, so it was nice that they actually got to spend some time battling out this time around.
There was a solid mix of technical wrestling and physical big bumps giving this match a great pace from start to finish The idea to have Bryan disqualified the first time around works well, and eventually leads to Sheamus passing out. After that, it seems as though everything is going to go Bryan’s way, and even with a bit of offense by Sheamus, Bryan really carries this bout and keeps the crowd HUGELY into it the whole way through, which only makes the match that much better. Overall, this was the second best match on the card that really highlights Bryan as a main eventer, and it’s definitely worth watching again.
2 on 1 Handicapped Match
Aaron Relic & Jay Hatton Vs Ryback
Ryback is a cool character, even though he’s coming off as a Goldberg clone as far as being fed jobbers in order to build a huge undefeated streak. This match actually differed from his Smackdown! matches, as it was only one guy at a time, though after taking out one guy he just yanks in his partner anyway. The crowd continuously chanted “Goldberg” quite loudly throughout, which I’m surprised doesn’t happen more often (though it may be edited out from the Smackdown! tapings.)
I would like to see things mixed up a bit on the jobber front, however, as seeing the exact same match every week will get a little monotonous, and there’s only so many times I can take Cole or Josh Matthews yelling in amazement by the fact that Ryback can lift two wrestlers – who are a quarter his size – up at the same time. Still, I’m sure this will eventually pay off with some big bouts in the main event down the line, and hopefully Ryback actually has some personality to back up his huge moves, as that will help keep things interesting in the long run.
Chicago Street Fight
Chris Jericho Vs CM Punk
I love Jericho’s flashing jackets, and I want to get one to wear at Christmas time. This is really a great street fight, as they don’t use a whole lot of weapons, but it’s got solid emotion behind it, and two great wrestlers taking part in it and it really tells the story that needed to be told in order to settle this feud.
I did find it funny that when Punk takes off his shirt midway through the match, he tosses it to the timekeepers and you can hear him say, “I need this back.” Aren’t there enough shirts for him to just toss it into the crowd in a fit of anger, since that’s what he’s experiencing at this moment? Just humorous to see him so irate at Jericho going after his sister, that be tosses him through a piece of the announce table, and then takes off his shirt and informs those at ringside that he needs it back later.
Jericho is hilarious throughout the match, and I really loved after he was sprayed with a fire extinguisher how he used the referee’s shirt to help clean his eyes. I will say, however, that I love the Walls of Jericho, and I hate when he turns it into a Boston Crab. For some reason it looks so much cooler, and unique when he puts all the pressure on the neck of his opponent. Though if Jericho saw this, he’d call me an assclown and tell me to stop complaining, so I will…just my personal preference.
The end of the match was incredibly strong, with finishers being hit all around, a great table break, some well timed near falls and an awesome counter finale. This was an amazing battle, and a wonderful finish to a fun feud between two of the best in the world that everybody wanted to see. I’d easily put it up there for a “Match of the Year” contender, and it was definitely the match of the night.
The WWE did a good job of breaking up the huge, epic bouts with filler so that the crowd stayed lively all night, and they do the same here, talking about the Extreme Rules pre-show that took place…well, before the show. There are a few highlights of a match between Santino Marella and The Miz, and while I think Santino is a hilarious character that deserves the push he’s getting, I’m not a fan of how The Miz is being buried and hidden away. He’s great on the mic, and strong enough in the ring to have entertaining matches, and yet he’s nowhere near the upper card where he should be at the moment. Here’s hoping that he and Christian start a feud soon, as those would be some entertaining matches and promos (though I could see The Big Show going after Christian in the near future, seeing as his feud with Cena is finished.)
Diva’s Championship Match
Nikki Bella Vs Layla
This was a quick match just to break things up between the Punk/Jericho match and the main event bout. It wasn’t bad, but there weren’t any great Diva moves (which do happen often enough that it’s noticeable when they don’t) to make it anything but filler. Still, Layla made her return and won the title, though I think more fun could have been had with the Bella twins mischievously finding ways to keep the title around “their’ waists.
Extreme Rules Match
John Cena Vs Brock Lesnar
The build for this match worked out quite well, with Lesnar cowardly attacking Cena time and time again, and Cena continuously doubting himself after his loss to The Rock at WrestleMania. It worked quite well, and the having Edge come out and talk some sense into Cena beforehand was a nice touch.
The match starts harsh, with Lesnar jumping right onto Cena and hitting him in a way where you knew that blood would be drawn early. Within 30 seconds, Cena’s blood is all over his face, the mat, and Brock’s body. It’s vicious and really aimed to set the tone for this “Extreme Rules” bout. What slows the pacing somewhat is the doctors that keep entering the ring to clean up Cena’s cut. This is supposed to be a “barn burner” and in order for the tempo to keep up, the doctors just need to stay out and let the red flow.
When Lesnar and Cena are allowed to go toe to toe, things get crazy. The idea to have Cena just get busted open right at the start was incredibly smart, as it just takes him off his feet early, and really just makes this Brock tossing Cena around, with the occasional comeback from Cena. It really shows Lesnar to be a beast, as Cena is a strong guy, and he’s just being thrown around like a doll – albeit one who won’t stay down.
The ending to this fight is great, as Cena is just beaten and bloodied, and while Lesnar is in the ring, taunting and toying with him, Cena wraps his hand in a chain that Lesnar used earlier, and then nails Brock in the head with it in a last ditch effort, knocking Lesnar off his game, which leads to an Attitude Adjustment onto the steel stairs, which finishes this brawl once and for all.
The PPV ends with a cryptic (at the time) speech from Cena, which comes off sounding like he’ll be away for a few months, which makes you wonder if he actually thought he may be more hurt than he actually turned out to be, because he ended up showing up the next night on RAW and has been around ever since.
The show highlights were what you would expect, as Daniel Bryan Vs. Sheamus was a really well put together bout, while CM Pink Vs. Chris Jericho had a street fight that could easily find its way into the “Match of the Year” nominees, and lastly a brutal main event between Cena and Lesnar that told the story it needed to tell the way it needed to be told in order for it to be effective.
Overall, Extreme Rules (aka Wrestlemania 28 Part Deux) was a really solid show from start to finish, with just enough breathers in between the strong, memorable matches to help keep everything fresh throughout. Definitely worth picking up, as the replay value is strong, especially for those who own WrestleMania 28.
The DVD quality of this PPV is solid throughout, and the audio also comes through strong. The WWE is almost always on the top of their game when it comes to video production, so this should be no surprise to those who collect these DVDs.
There is only one special feature, which is two and a half minutes in length, and it’s Matt Striker interviewing CM Punk after his bout with Jericho. It’s all fun and games, with the two just being casual with no storyline taking place whatsoever. It’s a fun little addition, and it’d be nice to have more interviews like this after a PPV, but this’ll do this time around.
WWE Home Video presents WWE Extreme Rules. Featuring: John Cena, Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, Chris Jericho, The Big Show, Cody Rhodes, The Bella Twins, Layla, Kane, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus. Approx. Running Time: 3 Hours. Rating: TV-14. Released: May 29, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.