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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The WWE Extreme Rules Report
By The Doc
May 4, 2014 - 11:44:02 PM

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The Snowman is a genius

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What was your Match of the Night for Extreme Rules and why?

The WWE has been on a roll this year with their PPVs. Each event has offered something that felt "must see." Tonight was no exception. Extreme Rules had a lot to offer and I came into the evening with very high expectations. All in all, I did not walk away disappointed, neither with the quality of the show nor the quality of the live stream from the WWE Network that worried me into spending more money than I needed to for WrestleMania XXX. A great night of wrestling, if you ask me...

Match 1: Cesaro defeated RVD and Jack Swagger in 13-minutes (***) (Though the match structure had been criticized by many, I actually thought that it worked well. Cesaro was transitioning between a story that nobody cared about anymore but that needed resolution into a story that people might very well care about. The triple threat gave The King of Swing the opportunity to accomplish two things at once. And he did. The pace of the early minutes before Swagger's elimination was quick and aesthetically pleasing. In the ring with a ring general and a mat-based grappler, RVD's offense looked clean and crisp. Van Dam does nothing for me if he's sloppy and his moves ill-timed. I liked him on this night, especially when it came down to just him and Cesaro. The crowd being hot helped and I was hopeful that they would turn to Cesaro's side by match's end as they did. If the final 6-minutes of the match were any sort of preview, then I'm all for a full-fledged angle between Cesaro and Van Dam with some sort of "Heyman's past" arc. A job well done from all three, but a showcase for The Swiss Superman)

Match 2: Alexander Rusev squashed R-Truth and Xavier Woods (*) (Does anyone else think that it's amusing to see the pair of Rusev and Lana doing battle with a wrestler once named Consequences Creed? From the moment that they began doing promos together, Rusev and Lana have screamed "Rocky IV." In that film, Ivan Drago fights and actually kills Apollo Creed, who Xavier Woods once parodied in tribute. The match was what you would expect it to be. Rusev is a better athlete than many of his fellow internationals who have played a similar role. I'm impressed with Lana; I'm impressed with Rusev's skill. I really do not think that this gimmick can go far in 2014. It may, however, provide Rusev a vehicle to get good exposure that ultimately leads him out of the part and into something better down the road)

Match 3: Bad News Barrett won the IC title from Big E in 8-minutes (**1/2) (Cue the fanbase thinking that the IC title will hopefully get back on track. I join it with such sentiments. Bad News Barrett has more character development and is more over than any IC titleholder in a good while. With the World Heavyweight Championship division no more but its basic creative plots not too far from memory, one can only hope that the IC title being on someone of Barrett's current stature will turn the division into what we once saw for the big gold belt in 2012 and 2013. BNB is very capable. He's also gotten over. It has been since he led Nexus that he has been this over. People are buying into his act, myself included. I happily admit that I was wrong about the "Bad News" schtick. He has made it work and will hopefully reap more rewards for it than just a prop. I stated on last week's "Doc and Super Chrisss Show" that Big E would come out inspired to show the world that he was still a factor. I thought that he busted his butt. Barrett responded in kind and the two of them had about as good an 8-minute PPV bout as you could expect in this day and age. Big E has rounded into a damn good in-ring performer, but he needs to go back to the drawing board with his character, perhaps following the model of the man who just took from him the last remaining speck of what kept him relevant)

Match 4: The Shield defeated Evolution in 21-minutes (****1/4) (This was the Match of the Night for me. I was genuinely curious to see how they would structure this match to try to top - or at least equal - what The Shield vs. The Wyatts became in February. They ended up pulling out a very 2003/2004-esque page from the playbook during the climax, using an Attitude Era-holdover move of brawling into the crowd. We saw that a lot a decade ago. Back then, when wrestlers would find themselves surrounded by fans, it felt forced. We had seen so much of it from 1997-2001 that any time it was done, I personally groaned. Tonight, it felt fresh when Rollins and Ambrose battled Trips and Orton up to a concourse and provided Seth with the opportunity to fly with the greatest of ease and stamp the match with a "Holy Shit" moment. The climax actually had several notable occurrences, not the least of which was Ambrose running across the announce tables to take out two members of Evolution. Add in the final sequence of Reigns showing signs of being able to get over huge with important audiences again when singled out from his teammates and this turned out to be a helluva match. Everything before Reigns pinned Batista after the Spear had been what you might expect from these two teams by comparison to The Shield-Wyatts matches. In many ways, Shield vs. Wyatts felt like mid-card wrestlers taking advantage of main-event caliber time to blow everyone's minds. Shield-Evolution, by contrast, felt much more like the main-event feud that it is. It was wrestled in the WWE main-event style with the heels dominating for long stretches. The cool thing about it, though, was that each babyface got a chance to take his punishment and then mount his comeback. First, it was Rollins. Then, it was Ambrose. Last but not least, it was Reigns. Along the way, we got some inspired work from all involved. Where the match shined brightest was in the last several minutes. The Shield looked like huge stars in the making. The entire performance was basically designed to tell the world that each Shield member was legit. Ambrose's table run, Rollins's leap, and Reigns's pin and win. It accomplished exactly what it set out to and delivered huge. Another Match of the Year candidate. Four for four on PPV this year)

Match 5: Bray Wyatt defeated John Cena in a 21-minute Steel Cage match (***) (As you may recall, I was a huge fan of the WrestleMania match between Cena and Wyatt. I thought that it told a great story and had a unique atmosphere. The story came under fire for being confusing. I never saw it as such. Trying to unleash the monster within Cena would have destroyed his legacy. There was nothing convoluted about that. Extreme Rules, on the other hand, was overbooked a little too much for my liking. Subsequently, I enjoyed the story told yet again, but found that the wonderful meshing of all the elements at Mania was not to be repeated tonight. While there were plenty of good moments that will make for a nice highlight package, I cannot see myself being overly excited to go back and view this one again. It might have been wise to put the Divas match between the 6-man and the Cage rather than the Cage and the World title match. I thought that the crowd seemed a little out of it after the exciting conclusion to the Shield-Evolution match. The people were one of the intangibles that helped make the Mania match so enjoyable for me. They did not respond with the same vigor tonight as they did four weeks ago. Overall, I still think that this feud has legs. I think we'll look back on this chapter of the Cena-Wyatt saga as a night that established a key plot point moving forward. The thing with the kid singing in the obviously altered voice was creepy and creative. It did not so much work for me like the Raw segment did, but I am looking forward to seeing how Bray can spin that tomorrow night and beyond)

Match 6: Paige defeated Tamina in 6-minutes (**) (Good action from the ladies and one of the first times that I have paid attention to a Paige match. I watched her NXT Arrival match with Emma, so I know what she can do. I just have not invested my time in watching her do only a fraction of that on WWE TV since she debuted on the main roster. I don't think she's going to get over by wrestling for 6-minutes. That's a lot to ask of anyone. She is impressive in the time she's given, but until something fundamentally changes about the majority of Divas title feuds, I will continue to respond to the matches with relative indifference)

Match 7: Daniel Bryan retained the World title against Kane in 23-minutes (****) (Bryan vs. Kane blew my expectations out of the water. I was quite pleasantly surprised with the entire presentation of their match. First, I did not expect that it would go on last. Of the three main-events for this PPV, I thought that this was the least likely to be the show closer and I'm happy that I was wrong. It was a vote of confidence for Bryan to get the final slot. I also did not expect the match to receive the kind of time necessary to be special. Again, I was happy to be wrong. I actually find it difficult to traditionally rate, to be honest. We've not seen Bryan wrestle this kind of match very often. Seeing him go outside of his element had a novelty to it. The sequence that they did with the forklift was just the sort of creative touch that sent this match into a higher star rating. Without that, I think we were looking at a pretty standard Extreme Rules match. The diving headbutt off of the palate was a great visual sure to be shown in still photos throughout the next week. In past Kane matches, that would have been the end. 15-minutes of work to be enjoyed on the night of but rarely watched in replay. Instead, they kept on going for another 7-minutes, making the previous two-thirds of the match more memorable by association. Someone had mentioned to me last week that they thought of Kane-Bryan as being capable of producing something on the level of HBK-Diesel from 1996 in Shawn's first title reign. I think that was exactly what happened tonight. We got an inspired effort from both. I was shocked when they kept the late 90s level shenanigans from throughout the night going with the flaming table. Used sparingly, those types of spots are incredibly effective. They have a "wow" factor. My hats off to both guys)

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