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Posted in: Requesting Flyby
REQUESTING FLYBY: Extreme Rules 2015 Review
By Maverick
Apr 27, 2015 - 12:02:16 AM

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Greetings dear readers, it has been a while! With exam season well underway, this particular teacher has not had as much time as he might like to write columns for you fine people, but I made sure to give you my usual pay-per-view review, so here it is. My Intercontinental Title series will resume in the next week or so too.

Extreme Rules has an enviable history since it was first created, so expectations were reasonably high as I rose from my bed at 1am to turn the Network on, despite a lacklustre build on TV. Anyway, enough jibber jabber, let's get into it.

Extreme Rules 2015 Review

Dean Ambrose defeated Luke Harper in a Chicago Street Fight in 56:10

We had a perfect choice of curtain jerker here, and it had a hot start too, with the brawl starting immediately, and with Dean Ambrose getting the better of the opening exchanges. When the weapons came out, Singapore cane beat chair to the punch and Harper was punished by the Lunatic Fringe before he decided to play a few mind games by sitting down on the chair in front of the former Wyatt man. However, that very chair proved Dean’s undoing as he went through it after a suplex was reversed by the bigger man. Harper’s turn with the kendo stick signified clearly that the momentum was shifting in his favour, and he really caught the eye with some brutal offensive manoeuvres, as the crowd stayed vocal for Ambrose. However, a body slam onto the chair and a tornado DDT gave Ambrose back the advantage, and an elbow off the top led to the first near fall. Harper read the through the ropes clothesline, but when he countered the suicide dive, Ambrose hilariously reeled back onto the apron and roared back again with a clothesline just like he usually does through the ropes. Things seemed to be just heating up as Dean kendo sticked Harper all the way backstage, but they fought into a parked car, which Harper promptly drove off. This one read as a tribute to Mankind and Triple H from King of the Ring ‘97, where a similar through the night battle developed. The crowd were not impressed that they were denied an immediate result, however. I’m torn on that issue really. It was a fun angle, but at the same time, the match would have been a definitive show stealer if it had been allowed to develop properly.

Harper and Ambrose would return after the tag championship match with Ambrose coming off the top of the car and the pair fighting through the backstage area back to ringside. The Lunatic Fringe and the bearded maniac decorated the ring with steel chairs, which Dean was powerbombed emphatically onto, but he showed his resilience by kicking out. Likewise, after being buried with the chairs, Ambrose was able to catch Harper with the press slam off the top and nail Dirty Deeds on the chairs for the win. Very fun stuff, but a tough match to rate, given that it took place in two parts (it was almost an Ironman Match in length, with most of that unseen!) but I will say this: anyone who thinks Dean is behind Seth and Roman in prominence needs to re-evaluate that opinion. The Lunatic Fringe is in a 1997 Austin or 2012 Bryan position right now, being a feature part of every show, getting ever more over. He will own this year, I’m telling you that now.


Dolph Ziggler defeated Sheamus in a Kiss Me Arse Match in 9:31

The storytelling was strong here as a stare down and bully boy talk from Sheamus led to Ziggler going after him, driving him back into corner, then taking him outside with a tornado DDT off the ring steps. However, back in the ring, Sheamus beat the Show Off to the punch and methodically beat Dolph down, and even when Ziggler came back strong, a Fameasser attempt was countered with a picture perfect powerbomb for two. This led to a portion of the bout where they played up the bully storyline by having the Celtic Warrior control the Show Off while shouting taunts; this maybe went on a bit too long actually. Endless shouting in matches kind of irritates me. Dolph fought out eventually and starts threw a series of big forearm bombs and stinger splashes, but the plotline of “big vs small” dictated that he was unable to knock down the bigger man, and Sheamus locked on the cloverleaf, but after Ziggler made it to the ropes, a nice near fall sequence followed, with a roll up for two, a superkick for two and finally an Irish Curse. Great chemistry shown there. The Brogue Kick avoided with roll up, which Sheamus kicked out of,just, but Ziggler turned a small package into a suplex for the win. A distraught Great White continually tried to worm out of kissing Ziggy’s rear, and when he finally looked like he might do it, he inevitably low blowed his conqueror and hit a Brogue Kick in order to make Dolph kiss his pasty behind. A well worked bout with a post match sequence that played well into the development of Sheamus’ new character.


The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston, with Xavier Woods) defeated Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (with Natalya) to win the WWE Tag Team Championships in 9:47

Cesaro showcased his insane strength on Big E in the opening exchanges, whilst Kidd executed some crisp high flying immediately after to make for a very enjoyable and efficient face shine portion of the match. Big E caught Kidd on the outside to turn him into the face in peril, and some nice double teaming in the corner and tag psychology followed from Kofi and Big E as Kidd kept grounded. An eventual hot tag to Cesaro led to an awesome flurry of uppercuts but the deadlift superplex into springboard elbow led only to a near fall as Kingston unexpectedly kicked out. Big E tagged in and raised hell with his power, but Kidd was saved by Cesaro off the New Day finisher, after which Kidd caught Trouble In Paradise and turned it into the Sharpshooter, but again this was merely a teased finish as Big E broke things up with a belly to belly. Cesaro dealt with Big E and got the Swing on Kofi for a huge pop, but Woods distracted the referee to allow Kingston to get a roll up with a handful of tights for the win. New Day celebrated wildly to draw heat from the crowd. Unexpected title change, but I dig it. Let’s see what New Day can do with the natural heat they’ve gotten from arenas all over the States since ‘Mania. Excellently worked tag bout.


John Cena defeated Rusev to retain the WWE United States Championship in a Russian Chain match in 13:35

The psychology was strong from the get go in this one, as a tug of war with the chain was followed by both men going for the corners early. The possibilities of the length of steel chain were showcased when Rusev hoisted Cena up with the chain outside the ring and punished him with kicks and then a chain assisted suplex back into the ring. Both men found unique ways to counter the other making it around the corners, dropping out of the ring or holding into the bottom rope to prevent the full circuit around the turnbuckles. A spinning heel kick brought the advantage back to the Russian sympathiser after Cena had used the chain to send the Bulgarian Brute into the post, but Rusev was then unceremoniously yanked off the top by the chain and then hit with a running forearm. Cena went for the five moves of doom with the novel touch of his opponent being tied to him, but Rusev caught him in a fall away slam and followed up with a big kick. At this point, Lana jumped up on the apron to acknowledge the crowd and got sent back to the locker room for her troubles by Rusev in an interesting homage to Sable and Elizabeth. Cena locked on the STF, taking advantage of the Eastern European man’s distracted state, but when the Franchise Player went for the corners, Rusev again played defense by rolling out of the ring and pulling his end of the chain. Once the Superathlete was able to take back the momentum, he managed to slap on the Accolade but Cena powered out and backed Rusev into two corners, suddenly realising that he’d put his opponent at an advantage and so hitting the AA to break the sequence. Rusev and Cena then engaged in a desperate corner race, with three touches apiece; an AA allowed Cena to touch the fourth corner for the retention, which did seem like a logic hole in the rules, but I won’t complain too much about that. I was hoping that it would be more of a brutal and bloody brawl, but it was a decent bout with a good structure and a sound psychological dimension. Rusev sending Lana to The Authority immediately after the finish to set up another match was certainly an interesting touch, too.


Nikki Bella defeated Naomi to retain the Divas Championship in 7:17

The Bellas got a face reaction and played to the crowd so I guess they’re faces now, or at the very least, de facto faces in a heel vs heel setting, with the recent Naomi turn making her the supposed heat magnet. Meanwhile, we found out that Naomi had stolen Sasha Banks’ gimmick right out from under her...I really wish WWE wouldn’t undercut their developmental talent that way. Still, at least Naomi isn’t using that godawful Funk Is On A Roll theme anymore. Nikki used her power early, and then showcased some submission nous, locking in an armbar, but Naomi reached the ropes and was able to take control with some unique looking, but psychologically silly offense. Nikki showed her kayfabe resilience by continually kicking out, causing Naomi to toss her out of the ring and take out Brie for good measure. Nikki came back with a five moves of doom style sequence culminating in an Alabama Slam. Soon after, Naomi hit something that looked like Big Show’s old Final Cut move but then missed a moonsault; there was quite a lot of jerky back and forth in this one. Nikki went for the Rack Attack but it got reversed into a Bubba Bomb by the former Funkadactyl. A vengeful Brie would ultimately kick Naomi into the Rack Attack when the ref’s back was turned for the title to stay in Bella town. Not a bad divas match, I suppose, but I can’t stand Naomi, and no amount of flashing neon shoes is going to change that.


Roman Reigns defeated The Big Show in a Last Man Standing Match in 19:46

This was very much a match of two halves as the opening was as methodical and predictable as we might all have feared, but the close was as exciting as you might wish. I’ll need to see it a few more times to really form an opinion as to whether I liked it or not, because a bunch of big spots at the end might not make up for the dullness of the start. The Big Show was the stronger in those opening exchanges, using his superior power to put Roman down for some early counts. Reigns expelled Show from the ring, but got caught again after becoming preoccupied with setting up a table; this was a real bugbear for me, the fact that the former Shield man continually turned his back on a dangerous opponent to set up tables. That’s the kind of psychological black hole matches like this should avoid at all costs. The story of Show taking weapons off Reigns and getting rid of them because a giant doesn’t need weapons was also silly, as it was contradicted later on by the heel using plenty of them.

Things finally heated up a bit when Reigns unloaded on the giant with multiple chair shots and a DDT into that same chair, only for him to go off to fetch tables again which made me want to throw the TV out the window...honestly, that’s such poor storytelling, and just made Reigns look dumb as he walked the table straight into a KO punch for an 8 count. Show then set up the table but got Samoan dropped through it when he paused a moment too long; this was a cool spot, but it was also a touch premeditated, as is often the case when tables come into play. Show was able to roll to the floor and to his feet, get back in the ring and beat Reigns to the spear, following up with a botchy looking Vader Bomb, but Reigns got up in time to counter another, with the World’s Largest Athlete stuck on the top rope. Reigns set up a pair of tables outside; again, surely the amount of time this wastes in kayfabe makes it counter productive? The intention was to go for a superplex, but he was unable to get the giant over and settled for slamming him off the top instead. The giant made it up but was caught by two superman punches. When Reigns went for a third he was caught and chokeslammed through the tables outside! It was another contrived spot, but damn, it looked impressive.

Reigns somehow got up so Show went out after him and set up the steel stairs by the announce table; yet more infuriating furniture building rather than wrestling. A flurry of spears followed Show’s timewasting, which certainly set the pulse racing a bit more, culminating in the awesome spear through the barricade we all remember so fondly from back in the days of The Shield. The World’s Largest Athlete made it to his feet somehow and went for the big announce table chokeslam, but Reigns escaped and speared him off one table and through the next. When the giant rose up before ten again, Roman copied the Del Rio spot from Smackdown a couple of years ago and buried him under the table for the win. This one certainly gathered momentum as it went on, and Roman came out of it looking beastly (the desired effect) but I have to criticise the psychology and the telegraphed nature of many of the key spots.


Bo Dallas cut a heel promo but got beaten down by Ryback

I have no idea what this was doing on the show other than to use up a bit of time. I did think that Bray might show up and ambush Ryback, but even that didn’t happen. Future generations will watch this segment on the WWE Network and go “huh?”


Seth Rollins defeated Randy Orton in a Steel Cage Match (with Kane as the Gatekeeper) where the RKO was banned to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in 21:02

Much was made of Kane locking the cage door as the match began, telegraphing the key role the veteran would have in its outcome. When the bell rang, the canny Rollins twice went for the escape in the opening minutes, hoping his ridiculous athleticism would spare him a beating, but Orton put a quick stop to that idea, plucking him from the chicken wire and flinging him into the corner. The storytelling had a revenge flavour as The Viper tried to punish Rollins, a strategy that eventually led to the advantage changing hands, as mounted punches were turned into the powerbomb into the corner. Kane was slow to open the door though, and Orton again stopped The Architect from leaving. Seth soaked in the heat by using the cage as a weapon and taunting him by reminding him that he wanted the cage and now he would have to taste it. Orton fought back with strikes and a reversal of Seth into the cage, causing the champ to climb all the way to the top of the cage, with the challenger once again playing effective defense. A knee off the cage gave Rollins the opportunity to climb to the other side, but The Viper followed him and punished him with punches atop the structure and a powerslam off the top rope once they had descended slightly. An Avada Kedavra allowed Rollins to go for the climb again, assisted by the return of J&J to their master’s side, but a superplex sent Seth back into the ring for a near fall.

The stooges went on to try to persuade Kane to open the cage, but the Devil’s Favourite Demon refused, forcing them to try climbing, and getting smashed off the side of the cage for their trouble. Seth got himself crotched trying to climb for the umpteenth time and Orton followed up with the rope assisted DDT for the near fall. Orton then hit the Pedigree as a message to Triple H, which I thought was a nice storytelling touch, but Seth kicked out. It was sort of odd that the “no RKO” part of the stip came into the match so late, but when it did, it worked really well, as Randy lined up the Punt but whiffed on it and caught an enziguri from The Architect, after which Kane opened the door for the champion, but Orton stopped him with a trademark backbreaker.

The Big Red Monster seemed to finally show his true colours as he held the door shut so that Randall could not escape, flinging the door shut on both guys as they held a tug of war by the door. Kane double chokeslammed the stooges when they protested at their man’s treatment and then did the same to Orton and Rollins in quick succession, rolling Seth onto Orton, but The Viper had long enough to recuperate in kayfabe terms and kicked out. Kane lined up the Tombstone but got an RKO instead, but with the challenger distracted, he walked into an RKO from Seth, and the Authority’s crown jewel rolled out of the cage to retain his title. There was some debate from the announce team about whether the RKO was banned for both men or just for The Viper, but even if it was, Rollins would’ve retained on the DQ, so it makes no difference...honestly, how senile is Lawler? A really fun old school cage match with a tonne of psychology; a reasonably auspicious start to Rollins’ run as WWE World Heavyweight Champion.


What we had tonight was a show where almost everything was solid but nothing was truly great, something of a pattern with WWE’s second tier shows for the past year or so. It was certainly an enjoyable night of wrestling, but one where the foot was held just that tiny bit off the accelerator so as to avoid hitting maximum speed.


I’ll certainly be interested to see if WWE can buck the trend of forgettable television on Monday night; the return of King of the Ring, with the finals in a WWE Network exclusive special is a nice move and an ideal rub for whatever midcarder wins it. Meanwhile, Roman Reigns is likely to move into the title picture following that emphatic victory over The Big Show, a move which will need to be carefully handled. Finally, Lana’s politicking to The Authority has led to the booking of an I Quit Match for Payback between Rusev and Cena, one of the Franchise Player’s money gimmicks. I really hope they handle that one carefully, or the Superathlete may be badly harmed by the loss. Four matches is way too many for a feud. But we shall see.

That’s about all from me this evening; let me know what you thought about these thoughts on the pay-per-view in the comments section below, or you can tweet me here:

But until then, this is Maverick, requesting flyby!