Today is May 19, 2013. It’s not Kane’s special day anymore, but its been more than a year since Brock Lesnar’s reappearance in the WWE. His return to the WWE hyped up many of the fans who were looking forward to seeing an edgier product and fresh matchups with newer play fighters. It’s been a year and fans haven’t seen any of this. A lot of this is due to Brock’s limited dates but I see no reason why the WWE can still pair him up with a new and fresh opponent while also accommodating his schedule. Brock vs. John Cena at last year’s Extreme Rules episode was a great match that had a lot of potential for an interesting follow-up. If Brock had won that match instead of Cena, it could have been a great redemption story for Cena if the WWE had shown him training and getting ready for a rematch down the line. Cena picks up the big win in the rematch and everyone moves on to other stories. Instead, the fans get about 3 months of Cena goofing around with Big Show and Big Johnny.
Fans like me expected Brock to help put over full-time guys like Sheamus or CM Punk or even Ryback, but instead the WWE has him feud with Triple H. Nothing wrong with that of course because this was actually a fresh matchup never done before in the WWE when both men were in their prime. The problem here though, was that the anticipation for the fight was never really there since fans know that Hunter is a part of the front office now and doesn’t have the time to properly hype up a big money fight. The fans never really believed Brock was a real threat to Hunter, and although Brock could have proved them wrong by showing up to work more often to hype up the fight, his limited schedule tied him up to the point where no one really cared because they couldn’t buy into the thought of Brock beating his boss in an important match. When the match happened, it turned the entire feud off to those who were actually interested. The fight itself was slow, repetitive, boring and both men had no chemistry with each other. Hunter looked tired and old, and neither fighter played up to the crowd during the match. The only crowd reaction that match received were the mocking ‘YOU TAPPED OUT‘ chants directed at Hunter at the end of the fight.
This year’s Extreme Rules lacks any of the anticipation and build the fans had for Brock vs. John Cena last year. This time, it’s a hobbled Cena facing off against a guy who has a lot of potential to be a main event star but hasn’t won on pay-per-view since July of last year. That is unacceptable for a company desperate to create new stars. The match itself sounds unappealing (to me at least) because its going to be Last Man Standing rules. I understand putting together a slow match to take liberties regarding Cena’s bum ankle, but it’s could make for a painful viewing experience. The cage match with Brock and Hunter could also be just as painful to watch. Even though their Wrestlemania rematch was more physical and less boring than their first match, I highly doubt the fans are looking forward to this one since it was assumed that the feud ended when Hunter got the win last month. It just feels like there will be no real payoff for the fans here. Speaking of payoffs, I’m sure Brock is thrilled to be working with the boss. For more than $5 million a year, I’d be thrilled to lose to Triple H whenever and wherever.
Today’s episode of WWE Extreme Rules takes place at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO. The same venue was used for the Royal Rumble last year. Your commentators are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Bradshaw.
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango (with Summer Rae)
This is a rematch from last month’s Wrestlemania. Jericho is introduced first to a delighted crowd. A video recap of the storyline is played to hype up the fight. Fandango is introduced second and Lawler starts drooling all over his mic over the dancer. His entrance is entirely played out to the crowd while Jericho waits in his corner. WWE really missed the ball on the Fandango chanting. By recognizing the fan chants immediately, they took the fun out of the thing because it was the fans who made it look cool, and not the WWE. It felt like if your parents started getting into an interest you thought was cool. Jericho starts off the fight with some fast-paced offense which drives Fandango out of the ring. He leaps onto Fandango off the top rope to the outside of the ring and poses to the crowd for a loud cheer.
Jericho pins Fandango when he hits a Codebreaker to counter his opponent’s top rope leap. This was a great opener which featured a lot of brawling, playing to the crowd, and even some counters thrown into the mix. Jericho already got a great response from the fans, but they also loved to boo Fandango whenever he’d taunt the crowd before doing a move.
Kofi Kingston (United States champion) vs. Dean Ambrose
The champion is introduced first to a mild crowd reaction. The challenger walks towards the ring through the crowd to a huge cheer. The commentators play up the Dean’s background, or lack of it thereof. Cole also takes a moment to remind the audience that this match will not be called under Extreme Rules. Both men start off with some fast-paced offense with Kofi leading the way. The crowd isn’t really receptive to it though, and they are clearly calling for an Ambrose win.
Dean Ambrose pins Kofi after hitting an impressive finisher. It was a headlock turned into a face-first slam. The crowd goes crazy for the win and Dean’s crimeys turn up to celebrate the victory with him. Solid match which combined Kofi’s fast-paced moves and counters with Dean’s realistic offense. The WWE continues to push the Shield but they must do more to establish their background and philosophy. All three members play the roles perfectly though, with Dean explaining the group’s motivation, Seth making the threats, and Roman letting everyone else know that they are not playing around.
strap match: Mark Henry vs. Sheamus
Mark Henry is introduced first to a good crowd pop. The camera even pans in close for a fan with a ‘THATS WHAT I DO‘ sign. Sheamus is second with a mixed crowd reaction. After Sheamus tags the first corner, he is countered with a clothesline from the ‘worlds strongest man.’ Cole takes a moment to explain the rules for this gimmick match.
Henry is doing a great job selling for Sheamus, but its taking a toll on the big guy. He already looks way winded and tired out there. The crowd is still on his side for this one though. The fight goes outside the ring for a moment where Sheamus uses the strap to drag Mark Henry towards the ring post for a cartoonish bump.
Sheamus wins the match after hitting the Brogue Kick and touching all four corners. The crowd pops big for the win but the big story is going on in the ring, where trainers are shown consulting Mark Henry. He is lying down on his side and looks to be in serious pain. The commentators ignore the situation in the ring and play up Sheamus’s victory. Poor and slow match that took the fun out of an old-school concept that isn’t done often nowadays due to its violent nature.
Backstage, AJ fights with Kaitlyn while the Bella twins laugh and point in the background. It apparently started after AJ got the last word in an argument between the two girls. As a hero, Kaitlyn should have walked away from that but attacking AJ behind her back is a villain move. Why the writers put that in the script is confusing. How are you supposed to cheer for someone who just blindsided another person half your size?
‘I Quit’ match: Alberto Del Rio (with Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Jack Swagger (with Uncle Zebekiah)
Zeb riles up the crowd with a nonsensical promo. He goes off on the IRS, the government, the media, people in the crowd, the St. Louis Cardinals, MLB, Carribean people, Dolph Ziggler and many other things in a complaint that goes well over 5 minutes. Alberto is introduced second to a decent cheer. Instead of hyping up the match, the commentators talk about the issues raised by Zeb a moment ago. Bradshaw even agrees with some of the complaints and uses strawman arguments to defend them.
The fight starts off with Swagger using a kendo stick to control the offense. When he has Alberto down, Swagger shouts a taunt to the crowd and to his opponent. When Swagger heads to the outside of the ring, a fan in a yellow shirt sitting in the front stands up to tell Swagger that he’s not a real American. I agree with him. Fucking hilarious.
Swagger hits his trademark powerbomb on Alberto twice but doesn’t get him to quit the fight. There are audible cheers for Jack Swagger. I don’t know how to feel about that.
Zeb tries to interfere and throws in Ricardo’s towel to stop the fight when Alberto was trapped in Swagger’s ankle lock. The match is momentarily stopped to have the referee review the tape. Bradshaw asks when did the WWE start using instant replay. Cole replies that since it’s a number 1 contender’s match, they have to review tape to make sure it’s by the books. This on a WWE episode called ‘EXTREME RULES.’
Alberto makes Swagger quit with the cross armbreaker. The crowd gives him a good reaction for the victory. The commentators don’t really hype up his win. Instead, they start debating over the use of instant replay in WWE matches. Cole says it is necessary for important matches like this while Bradshaw says that instant replay sets a bad precedent that shouldn’t be brought up by inferior officiating. This match was well done but the feud has run its course. Dolph Ziggler was originally scheduled in this match to make it a triple threat fight, but he was pulled out of the show because of a concussion. The WWE treats that stuff very seriously now and even donated a gift recently towards research regarding brain injuries. More on that later.
tornado rules match: Kane & Daniel Bryan (Tag Team champions) vs. Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns
The ring announcer takes a moment to explain the rules as all four fighters will be active, which means no tags. The champs are introduced first to a loud cheer as Bradshaw mentions the relevance of today’s date for Kane. The challengers (without the new US champion) creep in through the crowd looking serious and focused to fight. They didn’t get loud cheers like Dean Ambrose had received earlier from the crowd but instead get a lot of curious stares.
The champions set the tone with a series of crowd-pleasing double team moves. The crowd loves every bit of it but the Shield hasn’t had a moment to showcase their offense yet. When they finally do, its Kane who takes much of the beating, which includes a flying knee from Seth Rollins and a roundhouse kick to the gut from Roman.
Roman pins D-Bryan after another flying knee from Rollins off the top rope. The Shield become the new tag team champions but the crowd doesn’t know how to react. They love Kane and Daniel Bryan but they also love the Shield and the title change. Dean Ambrose runs into the ring to celebrate and all three members hold up their belts. This was a great match that featured all kinds of tag team moves the audience hasn’t seen in years. Not only was it unique in that regard, it was also in a fast pace with non-stop action.
A segment is aired with Renee Young, Wade Barrett, Titus O’Neal and Mick Foley with the guys all dressed up in button-downs and church pants. It’s for a recap show after the episode. There was nothing interesting in this segment except a blooper where the production screwed up on the camerawork for a quick moment.
extreme rules match: Randy Orton vs. Big Show
Big Show appears first to silence from the crowd. The hometown hero is poorly introduced by Lilian Garcia to a very loud cheer. Orton starts off the fight with some brawling that gets the crowd hot and bothered. He even shouts at them to give him more cheers. Show slows down the pace of the match to catch a breather and to help build a comeback story for Orton. He takes a moment to set up a ladder in the corner with the use of some folding chairs.
In a really dangerous spot, Show leaps onto the ladder from the second rope when Orton dodges the splash. The referee clears the ring of the debris and Randy hits the DDT on Show while he is draped over the top rope. He starts to play with the crowd and then hits the RKO for a two count.
Orton hits the punt kick much to the crowd’s delight. He grabs Show’s kneepads to hook his legs for the successful pin. This match was entertaining but also slow and a bit of a chore to watch at times. Both fighters gave great effort though and the crowd made the match more special than it actually was. It was a treat for the crowd, as they got to see their hometown guy showcase his trademark moves, including one he hasn’t done in a long time claiming it was banned by the front office.
last man standing match: John Cena (WWE champion) vs. Ryback
The challenger walks down to the ring first to a lukewarm reaction. The champion gets a decent cheer but when the match starts, he gets more of a mix of cheers and boos. Ryback gets loud ‘GOLDBERG‘ chants that the commentators ignore yet again. I still miss Goldberg.
Ryback is taking moments to play up to the crowd but it’s not really working. His power moves are getting their attention though, as he hits a press slam, a powerbomb and even a fallaway slam through a table which gets no response from Bradshaw, despite it being one of his old trademark moves. Ryback even hits his old piggyback stunner finisher on Cena for a good cheer from the crowd. Getting slammed through a table won’t put Cena down even for 20 seconds. He takes over on offense now and gives Ryback a powerbomb of his own.
A really weird sequence of moves happens when Cena leaps onto Ryback towards the ropes and grabs and holds onto him by the neck. At one point, they both look like they can’t decide on what to do next, so they just have Ryback pick Cena back up while he is still attached and then slam him down to release the hold. Cena brings in another table into the ring.
Both men are brawling into the crowd now. Ryback grabs a piece of the arena’s penalty box and hits Cena over the head with it. Cena survives the count and takes over the brawl by putting a sleeper hold on Ryback. He sets up Ryback on a table and hops on top of him from the seats. He hits him with a fire extinguisher twice. Finally, he tries to go for his finisher on the stage. Ryback counters though with a slam through the set which causes sparks to fly. This spot was reminiscent of Rhino tackling Chris Jericho through the Smackdown set back in 2001.
The match is called off when both guys are incapacitated from going through the stage set. Ryback is out but most of the attention is on Cena, who is being treated by the meds as if he’s been shot. The commentators review the bump at various angles. Poor ending but the story has to go on because the fight wasn’t settled. The match itself was slow but also quite physical, as it was Ryback handling most of the offense while Cena sold his high-impact moves.
steel cage match: Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman)
Brock slowly walks to the ring but Hunter immediately runs in and attacks him in the aisle. He punches Paul Heyman out and throws Brock into the ring to start the match. Hunter is wearing black wrist tape this time. Brock recovers from the ambush while the commentators talk about his MMA history. Bradshaw even mentions that Matt Hughes is sitting behind them rooting for Brock. Not a fan but I still have respect for having a prolific professional fighting career. My favorite Matt Hughes moment was him getting knocked the fuck out by BJ Penn.
Slow and boring match so far. Triple H is busy selling Brock’s power moves while Brock is trying to sell a knee injury at the same time. Heyman starts to interfere in the fight by slamming the cage door onto Hunter’s head and also brings a chair into the ring. Lawler mocks Heyman’s advice to Brock about how he should finish off his opponent. Bradshaw interrupts him to tell him to show some respect to one of the greatest managers of all time (damn right). He even has a good laugh at Heyman hamming it up outside the ring when Hunter takes over and starts beating up Brock with the folding chair. The boss takes it a bit too far by having Brock beg him for mercy. Brock looks like an idiot here. This is a professional MMA fighter fighting and begging for mercy with a pretend fighter. But again, I’d be thrilled to pocket $5 million a year to ask a pretend fighter for mercy.
Hunter brings in a silver-colored sledgehammer into the fight. He locks the sharpshooter onto Brock as a counter. Bret Hart must be so upset right now. Paul Heyman has seen enough of the beating so he decides to run into the match to interfere. He gets a pedigree for his troubles. Brock gets one as well that only gets a two count. After Heyman recovers behind Hunter, he hits the guy with a low blow. Brock nails Hunter in the head with his sledgehammer.
The match ends with Brock pinning Hunter after hitting the F5 finisher. The crowd reacts with silence while the cage is raised and Brock celebrates with his manager on top of the ramp. This was actually a surprising effort from both guys. I expected a slow match and even though this was a slow match, they took the action up to another level with the props and weapons used during the match. Even though Brock fought like a moron in this match, it was a good effort that had the right outcome. I could have done without Heyman interfering for about half of the fight but I also understand that they had to do it to help hype up Brock as a villain and cheater. However I also felt that it’s not really convincing or even productive to have an MMA guy struggle to beat up a play fighter one-on-one and then cheat to win the match with the help of his buddy. I couldn’t even suspend my disbelief for that. It’s the WWE’s money though, so whatever. The commentators close out the show by hyping up the post-show recap with Renee Young. Renee asks Wade Barrett what he thought about what just happened and you can’t even understand his answer through the really thick accent. That was more hilarious than the fan in the yellow shirt who yelled at Swagger.
In conclusion, this was a good pay-per-view episode. The mid-card really stepped it up tonight with CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler missing from the fight card. The crowd was loud and responsive tonight but calmed down once the Cena and Ryback match began, and then calmed down even more when their match got called off. The WWE really needs help right now giving the mid-card some credibility so maybe some fresh and new matchups involving the Shield can help add some variety to the show. The WWE has the talent to put on quality shows but they need to improve the booking to establish long-term priorities. I don’t mind Cena as the champion but they need to build up credible rivals to help him carry the main event workload. Ryback was treated like an afterthought before and even after the match.
Before the show ended, the commentators ask the viewers to check their website and post-show recap regarding injuries to Brock, Hunter and Cena. They did not however, mention any updates about Mark Henry who may have suffered a real injury in his match.