WWE Extreme Rules 2012 Results: Real Winners and Losers of the PPV
A bloodied John Cena pinned Brock Lesnar.
Cody Rhodes won the Intercontinental Championship back. Both Sheamus and CM Punk retained their titles.
In wrestling, though, it's often not about who gets the three-count, but who put on the best show or snagged the fans' loyalties.
Who came out of Extreme Rules 2012 with momentum and with a true victory?
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Gallo Images/Getty Images
No one looked better at Extreme Rules 2012 in a losing effort than Daniel Bryan.
Sure, Brock Lesnar was more dominant in his match, but Bryan was the brightest star in the best match of the night.
At times, he looked calculating, and at others, crazed.
Unlike his embarrassing 18-second loss at WrestleMania 28, Bryan was allowed to showcase his great high-flying skills, his submission prowess and increasingly impressive in-ring storytelling.
Sheamus ended up winning two falls and retained the World Heavyweight Championship, but he looked more like he survived the match than won it outright.
Bryan inspired the most sustained chanting other than the hometown CM Punk.
Loser: The Miz
photo from wwe.com
Regardless if the Miz had won the United States title or put on the match of the year against Santino Marella, his Extreme Rules match represented a step down.
The Miz's career has been going backwards.
He's already progressed beyond the US title, moving onto the WWE Championship just last year.
Going from the main event of WrestleMania 27 to the YouTube Extreme Rules pre-show is a painful tumble down the WWE ladder.
Does this mean that the Miz is so low on WWE's priorities that we will soon see him released?
For the cover boy of Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the recent media darling to become such an afterthought means that WWE has changed their mind about his star potential.
They once believed him to be a crossover star.
Is he in wrestling purgatory temporarily, or will he have to be awesome with another company in the near future?
Winner: Cody Rhodes
Gallo Images/Getty Images
The Tables Match stipulation had fans believing there was no chance for a Cody Rhodes victory.
Though the ending was a bit awkward, Rhodes looked impressive in beating the odds.
Early on, Rhodes thrilled us with a Beautiful Disaster kick catapulted from a propped up table. He looked smart, crafty and tough throughout the match.
An Intercontinental title reign that was gaining momentum and restoring prestige to the belt can now begin again. Rhodes can continue to shine as IC champ until his main event spot opens up.
Loser: The Spanish Announce Table
The Spanish announce table made it through a Randy Orton and Kane Falls Count Anywhere match. It seemed as if it might even survive the Chicago Street Fight unscathed.
A diving elbow from CM Punk put an end to that hope.
The oft-destroyed piece of furniture was again demolished, leaving the Spanish-language commentators to do the rest of the show sans table.
Extreme Rules is not the pay-per-view the Spanish announce table can realistically hope to survive.
If Punk and Chris Jericho hadn't smashed it, then Brock Lesnar and John Cena would have done it for sure.
Gallo Images/Getty Images
The lucky Chicago fans got to see their hometown hero, CM Punk, pull off a thrilling match and the victory.
In that match alone they witnessed broken kendo sticks, fire extinguishers and an astounding elbow drop through a table.
They were there for Brock Lesnar's first PPV match in eight years and seemingly John Cena's last one for some time.
An unannounced Dolph Ziggler vs. Brodus Clay match was a great bonus as well.
Chicago fans would have certainly gotten their money's worth without the World Heavyweight Championship match, but getting to see that classic live is an enviable position.
Loser: The Divas Title’s Prestige
When Layla's music came on and she skipped down the entryway, the biggest reaction she got was some courtesy golf claps.
Fans were hoping for Beth Phoenix to regain the title or perhaps see Kharma charging into the ring.
Instead, Nikki Bella's reign lasted less than a week and WWE passed off the Divas title to someone few fans care about.
Layla is undoubtedly several times better than Nikki, but having her win the title in her first match back makes the victory feel unfulfilling.
Unless Layla surprises us all and makes a worthy Divas champ, we'll just have more of the same fluff and filler in the women's division.
Winner: Chris Jericho and CM Punk
Photo by David Soto
Both men came out of this match looking like warriors.
At one point during the match, both men drenched in sweat, the crowd with their jaws hanging open, I realized I didn't care who won.
The chant of, "This is awesome" was absolutely correct.
Chris Jericho didn't lose much in this match. He is as vile and hated as he was before the bell rang.
He impressed in defeat.
CM Punk, of course, kept his title, and after fighting through Jericho's taunts and vicious kendo stick strikes, looked valiant and even more worthy of being the top man in WWE.
Winner: John Cena
J. Meric/Getty Images
Even with a win that smelled a lot like a Super Cena booking, John Cena channeled Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV and won over a hostile crowd.
Cena beating Brock Lesnar seemed unlikely. Cena ending up with blood smeared across his face was more improbable.
Ending Extreme Rules in Chicago with the crowd cheering for him was unimaginable.
Even smarks and self-proclaimed hardcore wrestling fans can be won over with Cena's charm, I guess.