The idea that Extreme Rules is simply pay-per-view-filler following WrestleMania is no more.
Action from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo., was not only enthralling, but also unique thanks to an array of uncommon stipulations that epitomize this PPV.
While John Cena vs. Ryback and Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar controlled the headlines heading into this anticipated event, The Shield had a truly memorable night while several other Superstars put on entertaining shows.
Let's take a look at how it all went down.
Note: (c) denotes champion heading into match
- Pre-show: The Miz defeats Cody Rhodes via submission (figure-four)
- Chris Jericho defeats Fandango via pinfall
- United States Championship: Dean Ambrose defeats Kofi Kingston (c) via pinfall
- Strap Match: Sheamus defeats Mark Henry
- No. 1 Contender "I Quit" Match: Alberto Del Rio defeats Jack Swagger via submission
- Tag Team Championship: Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins defeat Team Hell No (c)
- Extreme Rules Match: Randy Orton defeats Big Show via pinfall
- WWE Championship Last Man Standing Match: John Cena (c) and Ryback end in no finish
- Brock Lesnar defeats Triple H via pinfall
John Cena Retains
The WWE Championship absurdly didn't serve as the main event, and Cena and Ryback put on a classic battle that suggested they took offense to that fact.
Mr. Feed Me More got things started by showcasing some jaw-dropping strength, via Bleacher Report's Brian Mazique:
But that was only the beginning.
The duo would go on to produce countless more unbelievable moments.
First Ryback slammed Cena through a table. Cena responded with a massive powerbomb before sending Ryback through a table of his own with an AA.
Then they moved outside the ring, where Cena would spear the challenger through the barricade into the crowd.
As they got behind the audience, Ryback took apart a section of the wall and slammed it into Cena, only for the champion to respond by jumping off the railing onto Ryback, who was set up on a table.
After Cena hit Ryback with the fire extinguisher, the big man came back and hit a monstrous slam on the champ through the electrical light fixture wall. The match ended as Cena was taken away on a stretcher.
There were a few too many (and a few unbelievable) nine-counts, but the amount of insane spots littered throughout the arena coupled with the crowd excitement had this feeling like an old-school instant classic.
Bleacher Report's Mike Chiari summed it up pretty well:
Brock Lesnar Wins the Rubber Match
Following up Cena and Ryback wasn't going to be easy, but Lesnar and Triple H were up to the task.
There were slow moments to their steel cage match, but things really heated up as the fight wore on.
Helmsley controlled a majority of the match, showcasing a lot of good in-ring offense, including a Pedigree to both Lesnar and Paul Heyman.
But after Heyman landed a low blow on The Game, Lesnar was able to turn things around with a mammoth sledgehammer shot and F5 for the pin to end the terrific match.
This should subsequently end the three-match feud between these part-timers. Lesnar's knee injury was played up a lot during the match, and it will likely be used as a way to give him a significant break.
The Shield Hogs the Gold
Dean Ambrose got The Shield's eventful night started when he knocked off Kofi Kingston in an entertaining, tactically sound match to capture United States gold.
While his teammates weren't even ringside for the match—only adding to the validity of the victory—they were quick to celebrate with the new champ:
As someone who is certainly no stranger to gold himself, Hall of Famer Mick Foley sees a bright future for Ambrose:
With the push that he and his teammates have been getting, it's hard to argue with that fact.
As someone with a beard, I was disappointed to see Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins make it 2-of-2 later in the night. As was Oakland Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick:
Still, Reigns and Rollins' win over Team Hell No was an absolutely fantastic match, and an argument could easily be made that it was the best of the night.
That's not something that could be said about the tag team division six months ago.
Sheamus Touches All Four Corners
When two heavyweights are locked together, it's not easy to put on a match that keeps the crowd interest high. Unfortunately for Sheamus and Mark Henry, the only thing they get an "A" for is "effort":
Still, despite the underwhelming match, it was at least interesting watching the different strategies each wrestler would employ to attempt to touch all four corners in succession.
From Sheamus attempting to run around on the outside of the ropes to Henry simply carrying the Celtic Warrior from corner to corner, this match wasn't short on innovation.
In the end, Sheamus delivered the Brogue Kick to touch the fourth corner for the win. It's safe to say he was happy with himself:
Nevertheless, after the crawling-paced match, it's clear that most fans will hope to see each wrestler move to a new feud in the future.
Jack Swagger Quits
This match between Swagger and Del Rio, which lasted a healthy 11 minutes, featured lots of entertaining spots and unique offense:
The ending, on the other hand, was, well, odd.
When Swagger had Del Rio in the Patriot Lock, Ricardo Rodriguez was ready to throw in the towel. Zeb Colter quickly interfered and, with the referee distracted, threw in the towel himself.
The ref, thinking Rodriguez had conceded, ended the match and awarded the win for Swagger. After a few moments of discussion, however, he went to the announcers' table and actually watched the replay to overturn the decision.
Probably not the best idea, via Goldust:
After the match was restarted, Del Rio got Swagger into the cross armbreaker and forced his opponent to quit.
This means Del Rio will take on World Heavyweight champion Dolph Ziggler at WWE Payback, while Swagger is just a sad Swagger:
Randy Orton defeats Big Show
Thanks to an inconsistent buildup, not many were excited for this match. But it turned out to be a pleasant surprise—a captivating match featuring several moments that had the crowd going bonkers.
Some of the highlights include Big Show crashing through a ladder (that was set up on two chairs) from the top ropes, Orton connecting on a draping DDT from the ropes, Show hitting a monstrous spear and Orton hitting two RKOs, including one on a chair.
And then the most important move of the match: the punt kick.
Not only did the thundering, chill-inducing kick get the win for Orton, who put forth a memorable performance, but it could very well signal a transition that a majority of the wrestling universe has been itching for:
Not too bad for a match no one wanted in the first place.