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WWE Extreme Rules – April 26th, 2015

In front of a rowdy crowd in Chicago, Illinois the WWE brings its most brutal Pay-Per-View event of the spring. Last Man Standing, Kiss Me Arse, Russian Chain, Steel Cage and a Chicago Street Fight colour the night with thrills spilling out of the ring and off the page. But not too much, though. We are in the “PG Era” now, so things can’t get too violent. (Insert collective groan here)

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The flow and arc of the event was conflicting and at times downright confusing. It played at times like an episode of Raw or Smackdown, but then at times it roared with the electricity one expects of big-time Pay-Per-Views. There were surprises, to be sure, and then there were moments you just knew in your bones were coming, but I have to say that happily the former came more often than the latter. The times I felt conflicted can be blamed more on a disjointed and incomplete build to the event, which left some storylines undeveloped or muddled. Overall an entertaining night with good performances from most of the talent, but certain glaring inconsistencies and questions mar the overall value of the action.

THE RUN-DOWN

  • Pre-Show Kickoff – Bad News Barrett vs Neville: Red Arrow lands Neville a pinfall victory.
  • Chicago Street Fight – Dean Ambrose vs Luke Harper: the two brawl through the arena, jump in a vehicle and drive off. Later on, they arrive back and brawl back to the ring. Ambrose wins with Dirty Deeds.
  • Kiss Me Arse – Shaemus vs Dolph Ziggler: small package, Ziggler upsets Shaemus. Shaemus beats down Ziggler in lieu of fulfilling the match’s stipulation.
  • Tag Team Championship Match – The New Day vs Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (c): Kofi Kingston schoolboys for the victory, pulling the tights.
  • Russian Chain US Championship Match – John Cena (c) vs Rusev: both competitors touch three corners apiece, Cena hits AA and touches fourth corner to win and retain.
  • Divas Championship Match – Naomi vs Nikki Bella (c): Brie interferes, kicking Naomi. Nikki hits Rack Attack for the victory and retains.
  • Last Man Standing Match – The Big Show vs Roman Reigns: three spears don’t keep Show down. Reigns piles table on top of him and ref counts to ten for the win.
  • Bo Dallas cuts in-ring promo, insulting Chicago. Ryback hits signature moves on Dallas. Fin.
  • RKO is Banned/Steel Cage WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match – Randy Orton vs Seth Rollins (c): Kane chokeslams both wrestlers. Orton RKOs Kane, Rollins RKOs Orton and escapes the cage to win and retain. Debate ensues.

ANALYSIS

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  • The push that Neville is getting since entering the fed is great, but it’s so generous that I’m starting to feel bad for everybody else who’s come up in the last couple of years. Then again, the cream rises to the top. Rollins made it to the top of the heap in less than three years, and Rusev was given a winning streak that few can ever enjoy along with a title reign. So, it isn’t unheard of.

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  • Neville deserves every bit of push he is being given. Barrett must feel the kick of going from a chance to reclaim Intercontinental gold to putting over the rookie, but he does it with grace and style. A class act.

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  • The Chicago Street Fight was the one match I was really looking forward to, since it seems that Ambrose and Harper are not only made for one another but both are made for a match like this. The resulting action fell a bit flat, mostly – I’m convinced – because they were ordered to dial it back. You know for a fact that if these two were left up to their own devices, the blood would flow like Niagara. These two were obviously given the task of orchestrating an innovative and entertaining no holds barred contest with minimal actual violence. What’s the best way to do that? Take off in a car for a while. It was neat, but ultimately lame. They didn’t look any different upon returning. They could have at least been covered in mud, or concrete dust, or have a few more scuffs and tears in their jeans.

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  • As it was, they appeared to just take a cruise for a spell and come back. The whole thing just played like a stall. The crowd wanted more from two men who were capable of delivering, and I don’t blame them for feeling let down. That being said, I’m happy that Ambrose finally won a Pay-Per-View match.

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  • Ziggler and Shaemus put on one hell of a match. I was often nervous watching, as the Irishman’s style looked extra stiff and the Showoff was selling like death. Added to the mix were rumours that the two are at odds behind the scenes, and I wasn’t sure how much of what I was seeing was a shoot. Ziggler took the lion’s share of the punishment, as Shaemus looked mighty dominant in his new bully heel role, but ultimately sneaked out the victory in plucky underdog fashion.

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  • The stipulation I so dreaded would ruin the entire night was actually played quite nicely by both men, with Shaemus first refusing, then protesting, then begging, and finally appearing to acquiesce, only to attack and inflict his stipulated fate upon the victor. I wouldn’t have expected anything less. Shaemus is too hot right now to give in to such embarrassment, and both men come away looking strong. The feud is obviously not over.

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  • The crowd was firmly behind Cesaro and Kidd, begging the question if they will be faces now and exactly what they did to deserve it. This was the best performance to date from The New Day, but the majority of the good work was done by the champions. Big E could learn a thing or two from Cesaro. E has incredible strength, but doesn’t use a move set which shows it off. Cesaro was getting huge pops for his feats of strength while Big E simply threw his weight around. A back and forth contest got plenty of near falls, last minute saves, shmoz spots and tandem maneuvers.

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  • The victory was best gotten by a cheap roll-up instead of a clean win, but I could have done with an even more under-handed victory to fully seal the New Day’s heel turn. As it stood, things are left ambiguous: New Day are underdog faces who behave like faces but nobody wants to cheer them because they’re not impressive; Cesaro and Kidd are heels who fight like heels but are so technically superior that people want to cheer them. It’s an odd situation.

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  • The story of the Russian Chain Match was that John Cena was at a disadvantage, as Rusev has far more experience in such matches. The coarse of the match, however, saw not only Cena use the chain as a weapon against his opponent first, but use it most often and in the most creative and effective ways. Rusev should have at least punished Cena with the chain-assisted Accolade hold we watched him use twice in the past week, but we didn’t even get that. The match was an even contest and by no means a bore, however it did plod at times. There was enough drama created by the efforts to touch all four corners, though more creativity could have been shown.

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  • The match’s end was a big point of contention for me, mostly due to the ambiguity of the rules: when the wrestler’s progress in touching the corners is interrupted, the referee waves off all progress and the count must start again. We saw this occur throughout the match. In the end, both competitors had touched three of four corners, the winner being the first man to touch the fourth. John Cena then performed the AA on Rusev, thus interrupting both men’s progress. At that point, when he engaged Rusev with a move, the referee should have – I would assume – waved off all progress and both men should have started again. Am I wrong? Oh well. Rusev vs Cena is already set for  the next Pay-Per-View, Payback, in one of the many backstage segments which made the event feel like an episode of Raw.

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  • Naomi’s new look and music is… interesting. Light-up shoes and all black leather, with a Matrix jacket and florescent eighties sunglasses. Cool. The championship match was the best offering I’ve seen from the main roster’s Diva division in a long time. Nikki has really come into her own this past year and is constantly adding to her repertoire of moves and holds – even using some very impressive ground grappling to cinch in an armbreaker submission. Naomi, meanwhile, was concentrating so much on getting over her new aggressive character that her move set lacked the flashy athleticism which brought her to the dance in the first place.

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  • In the end, outside interference from Brie confused the entire situation. The Bellas were despicable heels until a couple of weeks ago, and going into this match they were over with the crowd – for whatever reason. Naomi had solid heel heat going into the match despite the fact that her turn was a bit unfounded. Brie’s interference not only made the Bellas look like total under-handed cheats again, but it garnered sympathy for Naomi. It feels like the finish which would have occurred a month ago, before all the face and heel turn took place. Now, it just seems out of place. Somebody help me here.

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  • If you were to tell me that Roman Reigns and Big Show in a last man standing match would be the high-light of the night, I would have called you a dirty, filthy, lying bastard. But dammit if they didn’t steal the show. It feels like somebody took Reigns aside and told him that if he wanted to win the Chicago fans over, he needed to give them lots of spots with tables, chairs and canes.

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  • The people called for tables in the very first match, and while neither Ambrose nor Harper delivered, Roman gave them five, plus a busted barricade and two wrecked announce desks. Reigns showed that he could get extreme with the best of them, and although it took a lot of those spots to get it done, by the end of the match the powerhouse had won the crowd over. For the first time since last year, the support for Roman Reigns was deafening. It warmed my heart. There is hope for the man yet.

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  • The Bo Dallas/Ryback segment was filler, plain and simple. It wasn’t a match. There were no introductions, no referee, no bell. It was just… I don’t know why it happened. It, along with the extensive backstage segments involving Kane, Triple H, Lana and Rusev all contributed to a non-big event feel. I suppose this is what we can look forward to, now that the line between television and Pay-Per-View is disappearing thanks to the WWENetwork.

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  • The main event suffered from – and I never thought I’d say this – having to follow Big Show and Reigns. Kane was stoic at ringside and offered very little intrigue to the match. Orton was so subtle in his performance that it simply looked nonexistent. Rollins has dialed back his intense in-ring style since becoming a main event talent and even more so since becoming champion. All this amounted to quite the flat match. There were few spots to speak of, save a superplex from the top of the cage.

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  • The ending can be disputed – and actually was disputed at the time by the announce team. The RKO was banned, and was used by both men at a certain capacity, so why was no one disqualified? Many uncertainties, including what Kane’s future with the Authority will be, remain to be pondered. We’ll see what lies ahead in the aftermath on Monday Night Raw, and in what state will be the championship picture.

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