Well kids – WWE did it. They went EXTREME. Again. And nobody bled, or went through a flaming table, or found a thumbtack up their nose. But they did at least give us a solid, B-level show.
We knew Daniel Bryan was a giant question mark. So when the news broke right before WWE Extreme Rules went on the air, it wasn’t as much surprising as it was refreshing (that they actually addressed the issue in a semi-professional manner). You know what was surprising? That Bad News Barrett vs his substitute opponent Neville about near stole the show before 8:00pm. Better yet, Neville won. A whole lotta good here.
The actual show (i.e. post-fireworks) kicked off with pure energy, having Dean Ambrose and Eric Rowan fight for the right to wear white. No, I know, the wife beater wasn’t actually on the line… but the brawl was fun, and it was nice to see a wrestling arena backstage again. The break was weird – but it managed to avoid being an Impact Wrestling #AnotherDamagedAngle moment when they actually picked back up later in the night and finished the show.
The Tag-Team Championship match between New Day and Tyson & Cesaro wound up being another surprising WWE Extreme Rules highlight. These guys put together a fun contest, and the final stretch of this match was one of the hottest I’ve seen all year. Tag-team matches almost always have the potential to be great simply because putting four talent together in that type of frenetic environment creates entertaining chaos. I loved the near-falls, I loved the finish, and think New Day has potential as champs.
John Cena and Rusev did their thang, and it looks like this feud is going to go one more month. Meh.
Another big question mark was the kind of match Roman Reigns and Big Show would deliver in their Last Man Standing contest. Verdict? Surprisingly great. I’m not saying it’s the kind of high-class, caliber match we’ll still be talking about years from now (or even the kind of contest that has potential to be on “best of” lists come December), but both of these men put on one heck of an effort. And that spear through the table? Incredible. Reigns keeps doing what he needs to, and the critics keep getting less vocal. Who knows, maybe we’ll actually be on the Reigns hype train come WrestleMania 32… maybe.
Randy Orton and Seth Rollins put together pretty much what they thought we would in their Steel Cage contest over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Two things I liked about this match: the unpredictability of Kane, and the RKO (or, as the internet has dubbed it, diamond cutter) from Seth Rollins. Both men looked great and the finish made sense.
One more thing… special shout-out to Bo Dallas and his awesome, awesome mirror universe goatee. More guys need a visual indicator like this when they turn heel. Actually, more guys just need goatees.
Overall Score: 8 Last Man Standing Referee Count out of 10
That is, if you wanted a solid wrestling pay-per-view. If you wanted anything else: surprises, big title changes, or legend cameos, you likely left disappointed. But note – that Chicago crowd did not chant “C-M-Punk!” even one time. (maybe the “Wrestling is fake” talk was too much?)
If you’re in the mood for more wrestling snark, make sure to check out last week’s WWE RAW Hangover!