Extreme Rules is the one pay-per-view each year in which the WWE rule book is set aside in favor of hard-hitting, punishing and violent matchups featuring the top Superstars on the roster. This year, Triple H and Brock Lesnar will look to bring their rivalry to its conclusion inside the confines of a steel cage. John Cena will have to overcome a heel injury and a Last Man Standing stipulation in order to retain his WWE title against Ryback. And Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger will likely utilize their trademark submission holds to force the other to utter the words "I quit."
While this year's card features a number of potential show-stealing bouts, no one knows for sure just how good (or bad) it will ultimately be.
What fans do know is that Extreme Rules, and its predecessor One Night Stand, have provided a number of hardcore, extreme and memorable moments for WWE fans. As is the case with all shows, some are better than others.
So which Extreme Rules and One Night Stand events rank as the best? Which are considered the worst?
Find out now.
All results taken from the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Almanac 2013.
Continuing stories from April's then record-setting WrestleMania 23, One Night Stand featured the WWE, World Heavyweight and ECW titles on the line in three very unique matches. Vince McMahon had "won" the ECW title from Bobby Lashley at April's Backlash and feuded with the young upstart throughout the spring. In a street fight, Lashley would put an end to his issues with McMahon once and for all as he defeated the owner of World Wrestling Entertainment, despite interference from Shane McMahon and Umaga.
World Heavyweight champion and "Rated R Superstar" Edge was enjoying a role as the top villain in WWE. The most hated star on the roster, he was the centerpiece of a SmackDown brand that had been dominated by Batista in the two years prior to their steel cage match at One Night Stand. Edge, always the ultimate opportunist, escaped the barbaric bout with his title in tow and just out of the reach of "The Animal".
In the evening's main event, the Great Khali would challenge John Cena for the WWE title for the second consecutive month. At Judgment Day in May, he fell just short of taking the gold away from the dominant Cena. At One Night Stand, with the added stipulation of "Falls Count Anywhere", it appeared as though the unstoppable giant may finally secure the gold.
Cena, in one of his most underrated performances, carried Khali to a solid main event. More than elevate Khali, the match cemented Cena's status as the unquestioned star of World Wrestling Entertainment. In one night, he took an awkward, at times immobile giant and got the absolute most out of him in a main event that proved far better than it had any right to be.
The third annual One Night Stand pay-per-view failed to blow away audiences in the manner that the first two had but it did continue to be one of the more entertaining events of the year.
In other matches: Rob Van Dam def. Randy Orton in a stretcher match... CM Punk, Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman def. Matt Striker, Marcus Cor Von and Elijah Burke in a six-man tag team tables match... World Tag Team champions The Hardys def. Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin in a ladder match... Mark Henry def. Kane via knockout in a lumberjack match... Candice Michelle def. Melina in a pudding match
In one of the most underrated matches on the entire WrestleMania 26 card, Triple H withstood the challenge of young, up-and-coming former WWE champion Sheamus to once again prove that he was the "King of Kings". At Extreme Rules one month later, "The Celtic Warrior" would look to put an end to his rival's reign.
Sheamus attacked Triple H prior to the bell and the fight was on from there. "The Game" put up a valiant fight but his younger, more determined and aggressive opponent would not be denied. The fight would spill from the ring to the arena floor and would feature the use of several weapons but, in the end, it was Sheamus' reliance of his trusty Brogue Kick that would put Triple H down for the count.
The win was an important one for Sheamus, who was still in his first full year as a main roster performer. While his WWE title win over John Cena was monumental, it was his win over Triple H that announced to the world that he was a main event player in the top sports-entertainment company in the world.
Speaking of young Superstars making an impact, new World Heavyweight champion Jack Swagger would make his first pay-per-view title defense at Extreme Rules, squaring off with number one contender Randy Orton.
Randy proved to be the perfect challenger for Swagger. Freshly-turned babyface, Orton had the fans behind him, a hot finishing maneuver that could pop a crowd at any moment, and a young opponent he could help guide.
Swagger withstood the onslaught of his more experienced opponent and capitalized on the introduction of a weapon into the bout. He slammed Orton onto a steel chair and followed with his trademark gutwrench power bomb before pinning "The Viper's" shoulders to the mat. Swagger would win the battle but Orton would win the war with one sudden, swift RKO on the arena floor.
Extreme Rules 2010 suffers from an overabundance "good" or "solid" and did not have enough to put it over the edge as one of the really great entries into the One Night Stand/Extreme Rules anthology.
In other matches: The Hart Dynasty def. R-Truth & John Morrison, MVP & Mark Henry and ShowMiz in a gauntlet match to earn a tag title match... CM Punk def. Rey Mysterio in a match in which Punk's hair was on the line... JTG def. Shad Gaspard in a strap match... Beth Phoenix def. Women's champion Michelle McCool in an Extreme Makeover match to win the title... Edge def. Chris Jericho in a steel cage match... WWE champion John Cena def. Batista in a Last Man Standing match
In December of 2008, Jeff Hardy finally captured the top prize in the industry, defeating Edge and Triple H in a triple threat match at Armageddon to become WWE champion. Unfortunately, Hardy's reign was cut short less-than one month later when he lost the title to the aforementioned Edge, thanks to his own brother Matt, in a shocking moment that would set up a brother versus brother showdown at WrestleMania 25.
Having dispatched of his brother at Backlash, Hardy turned his focus toward once again winning heavyweight gold. His old rival, Edge, was the World Heavyweight champion when Extreme Rules 2009 arrived and Hardy was the number one contender. With the title suspended high overhead, the only way to reach it being a ladder, fans expected a chaotic and dangerous title bout, the likes of which they had become accustomed to whenever Hardy and Edge were in the ring with the climbing instrument.
Hardy and Edge stole the show, putting the "extreme" into Extreme Rules. Relying less on the death-defying stunts they made famous in the TLC matches of the early 2000's, they wrestled a smarter match that relied on psychology and storytelling. And in the end, it would be Hardy who accomplished his goal of regaining a major championship.
Until CM Punk made his presence felt.
For the second straight year, Punk cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on the world champion. Unfortunately for Hardy, his title reign was, again, short-lived. Punk delivered Go To Sleep on Hardy and, seconds later, became a two-time World champion. It would be the beginning of a heel run that would prove to fans and management that Punk could thrive as a top heel in the sport.
Despite the good (Hardy-Edge, Rey Mysterio-Chris Jericho), Extreme Rules 2009 was also littered with bad. The hog pen match featuring Vickie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero taking on Santina Marella ("sister" of Santino) was embarrassing. John Cena and Big Show continued to exhibit a lack of chemistry and Punk's Samoan Strap match against Umaga proved to be underwhelming.
A good show that was hampered by poor storytelling and embarrassing ideas.
In other matches: US champion Kofi Kingston def. William Regal, MVP and Matt Hardy in a fatal four-way match... Chris Jericho def. Intercontinental champion Rey Mysterio to win the title in a No Holds Barred match... CM Punk def. Umaga in a Samoan strap match... Tommy Dreamer def. Christian and Jack Swagger in a triple threat hardcore match to win the ECW title... Santina Marella def. Vickie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero in a hog pen match... Batista def. Randy Orton to win the WWE title in a steel cage match... John Cena def. Big Show in a submission match
At WrestleMania 24, The Undertaker defeated Edge in the main event to once again become World Heavyweight champion. Never one to let the title slip through his fingers so easily, the "Rated R Superstar" spent April and May attempting to win back the gold. Unfortunately for the champion, General Manager of SmackDown, Vickie Guerrero, would outlaw the Hell's Gate submission hold. When The Undertaker continued to use it anyway, she had no choice but to strip him of the title.
At June's One Night Stand, the World Heavyweight Championship would be on the line in one of the most chaotic, dangerous and career-threatening matches World Wrestling Entertainment has to offer: Tables, Ladders and Chairs. The match type was the perfect choice for Guerrero. Her fiance, Edge, was a master of TLC while The Undertaker had never competed in one. The deck was stacked in Edge's favor and, in typical WWE babyface manner, it would be up to "the Dead Man" to overcome the odds.
With constant interference from Chavo Guerrero, Bam Neeley, Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins keeping him from retrieving a championship that was rightfully his, Undertaker fell just short of regaining the title. Edge would leave the event with the title and as the unquestioned face of SmackDown.
Earlier in the evening, the latest chapter in the best story of 2008 would unfold.
Following Shawn Michaels' retiring of the legendary Ric Flair, there were several Superstars more than displeased with the "Heartbreak Kid", none more so than Batista. The man who looked up to Flair, considered him a mentor, did not mix words in discussing his anger towards Michaels. Eventually, they would meet at the Backlash pay-per-view. Chris Jericho, smack dab in the middle of the beef between the two, would serve as guest referee.
In that match, Michaels would fake a knee injury before catching Batista off-guard with Sweet Chin Music and picking up a win. Shawn would play up the knee injury, despite Jericho and Batista both questioning it. Two months later, Batista would look for a measure of revenge at One Night Stand, taking on HBK in a stretcher match.
This time, there would be no faking injuries. Batista was less-than forgiving, punishing Michaels before picking up a big win. The interaction between Michaels and Batista would eventually segue into the legendary rivalry between Shawn and Jericho, which dominated WWE programming for most of 2008.
In other matches: Jeff Hardy def. Umaga in a falls count anywhere match... The Big Show def. Chavo Guerrero, John Morrison, Tommy Dreamer and CM Punk in a Singapore cane match to earn a shot at the ECW title... John Cena def. JBL in a first blood match... Beth Phoenix def. Melina in an "I Quit" match... WWE champion Triple H def. Randy Orton in a last man standing match
By the time 2011 rolled around, Michelle McCool had become the most dominant woman in World Wrestling Entertainment. A two-time Women's champion, two-time Divas champion and unified champion, it seemed like there was not a moment that passed over a three-year period in which Michelle did not have a championship of some sort in her possession.
Add to that a pairing with Layla, known affectionately (or maybe not) as LayCool, and you have an act that actually managed to generate storylines for the WWE Divas.
In the spring of 2010, however, McCool's WWE contract was up and she made the decision to leave WWE. To write her off of the show, a "loser leaves WWE" match was booked between McCool and Layla, who had shown dissension in recent weeks. There would be no disqualifications, no count-outs and no way out of the stipulation. There had to be a winner.
Layla, predictably, won the match but a loss alone would not result in McCool's banishment. No, after years of tormenting and humiliating the other Divas on the roster, Michelle received an unceremonious exit from the company.
The debuting Kharma stalked towards the ring, the WWE fans in awe of the new "Diva" in town. She demolished McCool, announcing her arrival with a display of her brute strength and dominance.
Extreme Rules 2011 featured tremendous in-ring action and a few nice surprises, including Christian's first World Heavyweight title victory and what should have been John Morrison's breakout performance in the triple threat cage match main event. Unfortunately, the fate of the 2011 show (and its placement in these rankings) lies at the feet of one dreadful match in particular: Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross vs. Michael Cole and Jack Swagger.
Blame that match for this show coming in at number 4.
In other matches: Randy Orton def. CM Punk in a last man standing match... Kofi Kingston def. US champion Sheamus in a tables match to win the title... Michael Cole & Jack Swagger def. Jerry Lawler & Jim Ross in a country whipping match... Christian def. Alberto Del Rio in a ladder match to win the vacant World Heavyweight title... WWE Tag Team champions Kane & The Big Show def. Wade Barrett & Ezekiel Jackson... John Cena def. WWE champion The Miz and John Morrison in a triple threat steel cage match to win the title
John Cena is the most polarizing Superstar in the history of World Wrestling Entertainment. Some fans love him, others strongly dislike him. The fans in the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City were a different animal all together. There was no love for John Cena, nor was there strong dislike. The fans inside the Hammerstein Ballroom hated Cena, a feeling that was evident from the moment his music played and he stepped foot on stage for the main event of ECW One Night Stand in 2006.
As the WWE champion, he would be defending his title against the holder of the Money in the Bank briefcase, and star of the original Extreme Championship Wrestling, Rob Van Dam. The two Superstars stood across from the ring, the fans so avid in their hatred for the champion that RVD could have been replaced with Headbanger Mosh and the reaction would have been equally as strong.
"If Cena wins, we riot!" one sign read. In that building, on that night, it was highly probable.
Cena and Van Dam delivered a tremendous main event, a chaotic title bout fitting of the original ECW. Late in the match, the referee was knocked unconscious and all hell broke loose. Former WWE champion Edge entered the ring under a riot gear helmet and delivered a spear to Cena through a table. Van Dam climbed the ropes, delivered a Five Star Frog Splash and Paul Heyman entered the ring and counted the pinfall, awarding the title to Van Dam and sending the fans in attendance home happy.
Speaking of Edge, earlier in the evening he delivered a performance befitting the sleaziest top heel in WWE history. With Mick Foley by his side, he brutalized and battered Terry Funk and Tommy Dreamer in an extreme tag team match. At the conclusion of the match, Funk and Foley were knocked outside of the ring and into a bed of barbed wire and Dreamer was a bloody and beaten mess. This left Edge and Beulah McGillicutty, the wife of Dreamer and a late entry into the match.
Edge delivered a sickening spear to the petite ECW original before stacking her up in a lewd pinfall for the win.
ECW One Night Stand 2006 was a tremendous pay-per-view offering with two outstanding headline bouts that falls short of the top two spots because it lacked the special, nostalgic feeling of the original and the overall quality of the next event on our list.
In other matches: Tazz def. Jerry Lawler... Kurt Angle def. Randy Orton... Little Guido & Tony Mamaluke def. Yoshihiro Tajiri & Super Crazy... World champion Rey Mysterio fought Sabu to a no contest... Balls Mahoney def. Masato Tanaka
One night after losing a monumental match against The Rock at WrestleMania 28, John Cena took to the ring to address the WWE Universe. It would not be long before the familiar opening chord of Brock Lesnar's music played over the PA system, causing the fans in Miami to erupt into a thunderous ovation. Lesnar stepped onto the stage before slowly making his way to the squared circle. He came face-to-face with Cena, then flattened him with the F-5.
The assault would set up an Extreme Rules match between the two at the traditional post-WrestleMania pay-per-view event. What would result was one of the most vicious, violent one-sided beatdowns in the history of WWE.
Lesnar demolished Cena and took great pride and joy in doing so. He utilized strong striking abilities learned inside the octagon with UFC to batter and bloody the WWE's resident "golden boy" and appeared well on his way to picking up a dominant win and announcing to the world that no other WWE Superstar was safe. Instead, he allowed his ego to get the best of him. He got cocky and tried to do more damage to Cena than necessary.
In a memorable spot, he launched himself off the steel steps and at Cena, only to run face-first into a steel chain that the former ten-time WWE champion had brought to the ring with him. The Chicago crowd, in a stunning moment, erupted. For the first time in nearly seven years, they cheered Cena. With a moment to gather himself, Cena seized the moment and ended the match with a thunderous Attitude Adjustment to Lesnar on the steps.
The match was a bloody, violent classic—the type of which should be associated with the so-called "most extreme night in WWE." The beating Cena took allowed him to garner sympathy with the audience, something that did not happen prior and has not happened since.
In other matches: Randy Orton def. Kane in a falls count anywhere... Brodus Clay def. Dolph Ziggler... Cody Rhodes def. Big Show in a tables match... World champion Sheamus def. Daniel Bryan in a 2-of-3 falls match... Ryback def. Aaron Relic and Jay Hatton in a handicap match... WWE champion CM Punk def. Chris Jericho in a Chicago street fight... Layla def. Nikki Bella to win the Divas title
In the summer of 2005, ECW nostalgia was at an all-time high. World Wrestling Entertainment had released The Rise and Fall of ECW, a documentary look at one of the most innovative professional wrestling promotions of all-time. It was a major success for the company, selling 22,000+ copies in its first week.
Capitalizing on the momentum the ECW DVD had built, and the fan demand for any and everything Extreme Championship Wrestling, Vince McMahon announced plans for an ECW reunion pay-per-view titled One Night Stand. For one night in June, the stars of the once-great promotion would reunite for an event in the spirit of the original company. Superstars such as Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman, the Dudley Boyz, Lance Storm, Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka would reintroduce the aura of ECW to fans who may not have had the opportunity to enjoy it before.
The fans inside Hammerstein Ballroom were at a fever pitch and the wrestlers rewarded their excitement and their energy with a show that proved to be one of the best WWE productions of the year. Paul Heyman cut a mid-show promo as only he can, taking shots at several WWE Superstars, including former WWE champion JBL ("The only reason JBL was WWE champion for a year was because Triple H did not want to work Tuesdays!")
In the main event, Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman rekindled their rivalry with Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley in a tag team war. The four hardcore icons utilized cheese graters, chairs, canes and street signs to assault one another. The "Queen of Extreme" Francine and Beulah McGillicutty delivered one good, old fashioned cat fight for the ECW faithful before the Dudleys brought the match to an end, delivering a power bomb to Dreamer, through a flaming table for the win.
A brawl between ECW alumni, including "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Rey Mysterio, and current WWE Superstars ended the show.
One Night Stand 2005 proved to management that there was still a very vocal portion of its fan base that wanted to see the out-of-control nature of ECW programming. The event was such as success that it would return the following year. Unfortunately, no other incarnation of One Night Stand would be able to accomplish the unique, fun and genuine atmosphere that the original did.
In other matches: Lance Storm def. Chris Jericho... Super Crazy def. Tajiri and Little Guido in a three-way dance... Rey Mysterio def. Psychosis... Sabu def. Rhyno... Chris Benoit def. Eddie Guerrero... Mike Awesome def. Masato Tanaka