By Jason Powell
Dot Net Members are listening to the 73-minute audio review of WWE Extreme Rules that I recorded with Chris Shore last night. Join us on the ad-free version of the website (or the special members' section of the iPhone and Android apps) by signing up for membership today via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
WWE Extreme Rules Hits
The Shield vs. Evolution: The best match of the night. The first half of the match with Evolution isolating Seth Rollins and then Dean Ambrose was slow, but they kicked it into another gear down the stretch. The big spot with Seth Rollins diving onto Triple H and Randy Orton (and mostly poor Ambrose) from the balcony was a fun (and safe by comparison) throwback to New Jack diving off ECW balconies back in the day. Roman Reigns looked strong in the end. I am surprised they didn't do more to milk the crowd for a reaction the first time he entered the match against both Triple H and Batista. I enjoyed The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family matches more, but this was still very good and the highlight of the night. It also left me curious to know what's next for Triple H and how will Stephanie McMahon's character react now that her husband has lost back to back matches.
Daniel Bryan vs. Kane: WWE went about as far as they can go to live up to the Extreme Rules theme, which actually surprised me because they never really drove that home in the weeks leading up to the event. This was a good garbage style match and it definitely played to the strengths of Kane. Unfortunately, the live crowd didn't take his near falls seriously, as I don't think anyone over the age of ten really viewed him as a serious threat to take the title. WWE needs to get Bryan in the ring against opponents who viewers perceive as a realistic title holder. That's where they will make their money with Bryan, especially since so many of his fans are paranoid and have their guard up for a brief title reign. As good as the WWE production team is, they really blew it by showing the two men standing by with the fire extinguishers before the burning table spot. The post match with Kane's pyro going off as Bryan was leaving left me assuming we haven't seen the last of this program. Here's hoping they blow it off on television. This match was better than expected, but I wouldn't go back to the well with this as a pay-per-view main event.
WeeLC match: I went from hating the concept when it was announced to genuinely looking forward to the silliness. WWE certainly delivered in that regard. This is the type of spectacle that you either love or hate. There's not much in between. I got a kick out of it and appreciated the effort of Hornswoggle and El Torito along with their respective 3MB and Los Matadores teammates.
Cesaro vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Jack Swagger: A solid match that set the tone for the rest of the show. Van Dam worked hard and deserved a better fate than busting himself open when he performed the frogsplash onto the trash can. Cesaro got the win he needed and looked strong in the process. Bonus points to Paul Heyman for pumping up the crowd with the extreme speech only to turn it into his usual schtick about Brock Lesnar ending The Streak at WrestleMania 30.
Paige vs. Tamina Snuka: A minor Hit even though the crowd was fairly flat. WWE really needs A.J. Lee to return. Paige has breakout potential, but she's already running into the same issue that prevented Lee from reaching her full potential during her title reign. The rest of the Divas are booked in such a throwaway fashion that there's no anticipation to see any of them challenge for the title. Sure, you can get some viewers excited by the possibility of a good in-ring performance from two of the better workers, but Paige really needs a strong rival, just as Lee does. Meanwhile, WWE needs to do a better job with the rest of the division. It's a shame that they didn't take better care of Tamina by booking her as a badass. Instead, it feels like she's lost as many matches as she has won.
Alexander Rusev vs. R-Truth and Xavier Woods: A quick and effective win for Rusev. Maybe it's the fact that I grew up on '80s wrestling that featured countless heel Russian characters during the Cold War, but I like the idea of saying that Rusev now resides in Russia. I'm not really sure how he found time to move from Bulgaria to Russia when he's on the road five days a week, but I digress. Lana continues to shine much brighter on the big stage in WWE than she did in NXT.
WWE Extreme Rules Misses
Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena: The children's choir on Raw was really good and created an eery vibe. I don't know if WWE was inspired by that segment or if the finish to this match was planned along with it, but I hated the finish to this match. This was every bit as bad as the worst TNA finishes. It made Cena look silly and damaged whatever shred of credibility the broadcast team possessed coming into the show. Couldn't they have at least brought up the possibility that Wyatt was playing mind games with Cena by having the kid's voice distorted? No, instead we were supposed to believe that Cena and the broadcast team feared that Wyatt found a demon child to help him distract Cena in a cage match. I didn't even care for the bulk of the match. I get the idea of showing that Cena could have won had it not been for interference and totally expected that going in, but I couldn't believe just how many times they had to show us that he could have won. I'm sure there are some kids out there who this played to. And while I'm all for Cena's character catering to kids, WWE has to do a better job of making sure it's done in a way that doesn't insult the intelligence of the teen and adult viewers. Finally, Bray Wyatt answering questions at a press conference?
Bad News Barrett vs. Big E: I was looking forward to this match more than the live crowd was. There were some vocal adult males who wanted Barrett to win, but not nearly as many as I thought. Big E didn't seem to have much support and most of the fans just sat on their hands. I really want to believe that Barrett winning launches a new era for the Intercontinental Title and that he won't be the latest champion to lose non-title matches that serve no purpose. I also wanted Big E, Curtis Axel, The Miz, Kofi Kingston, and even Wade Barrett to be that guy previously. Here's hoping the fourth time is the charm for Barrett.