Extreme Rules HITS:
Evolution vs. The Shield: This was every bit of the brawl I was anticipating, and more. For me, without question, the match of the night on a night with a number of good-to-great matches. Each member of the Shield had their moment to shine, but for me, no one shone brighter than Seth Rollins. Rollins balcony dive literally had me almost jump out of my seat, and that was just one incredible moment of many he had during the match. Everyone here worked hard, and as a result, everyone came out looking even better than they did going in (including Evolution). My hopes are that this isn’t the end of the feud, and we get some type of a gimmick match at Payback next month. With rumours abound of Batista taking a sabatical to promote his new feature film (Guardians of the Galaxy), for this wrestling fan, it couldn’t come at a worse time. Batista has finally found his stride in his return, and it seems a shame to lose him at this point in time.
Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena: An argument can be made that the Wyatt Family had too much involvement in this match, and thus took away from the effectiveness of Bray Wyatt. I can see that logic, but I ask whether or not there is another character in all of professional wrestling, WWE or otherwise, more captivating than Bray Wyatt. The answer is no, there is not, and it’s not even remotely close. And that’s what matters here. Bray Wyatt has carved a legacy for himself in a very, very short period of time, and this was another highlight on an ever-growing long list of moments he has created. Did anyone else have nightmares of the child used in the closing moments of the match? That might have been one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen, in my life.
Paige vs. Tamina Snuka: A minor hit. I enjoyed this for the fact that it was the first time I felt like I was seeing a real divas wrestling match in a long time. It’s rare to get two girls with as much experience as these girls have between them in the ring, in a feature contest, at the same time. Tamina and Paige were both born into wrestling families, and both have a lot of history to draw from. I enjoyed this match as much, or more, than any other divas contest this year.
RVD vs. Jack Swagger vs. Cesaro: My hats off to Paul Heyman. The Innovator of Extreme took a crowd that was hot to his every word, and using those very same words, turned them in the blink of an eye. Purely masterful. And with that, this match was well on its way to being a good opener. Jack Swagger is motivated, and wrestling at a high level, and RVD’s oft-laziness from his previous run has been absent in this one. Cesaro, of course, was the star of this match. His displays-of-power are still mind-bending, no matter how many times you see them. If you have the chance, re-watch the suplex from the ring apron to the inside of the ring, from the second rope, that Cesaro hits on Jack Swagger. It’s super-human.
Extreme Rules Misses:
R-Truth and Xavier Woods vs. Alexander Rusev: R-Truth does not belong on PPV in 2014. While WWE continues to evolve and change, nothing about R-Truth has changed in 10, or more, years. When a mid-card character devolves, as opposed to evolves, fans are left with little reason to invest. Worse, Rusev is not established enough in moveset or personality for fans to invest, either. This match is better served on an episode of RAW, where a larger audience can become more familiar with Rusev, and his strength, speed and agility. As it stands, an audience that paid a premium price both for live event tickets, or pay-per-view viwership largely sat on their hands, and just waited for this one to be over.
Kane vs. Daniel Bryan: Kane has no place, in 2014, main eventing a pay per view. This is not a knock on Kane’s value, or his tenured and storied career. But the time has come, and gone, for Kane to be used in a role such as this. I wouldn’t exactly say Bryan’s World Heavyweight Championship run is off to a roaring start as a result of this match, either. Clunky, and over-booked, there too many moments that took you out of “the moment” in order to enjoy this match. The spot with the forklift likely sounded great on paper, but in execution, it felt like an eternity, and finished with a flop (literally). The ending flaming table spot was a cool visual, but I found it was too much, too late. Good thing Kane stashed a jerry can with 36 cents of gasoline under the ring without a production team member noticing prior to the event. Barely enough gas to get the table to light, and Kane was hit with a fire extinguisher with so much force and velocity, the WWF Hardcore Division of 2001 called and asked for their spot back. Sour taste left in my mouth for the second “PPV” of the WWE Network era.