Extreme Rules 2013 is in the books and, as usual, some Superstars came out of the annual event better off than others.
Some experienced the ecstasy that comes with winning championship gold while others suffered the agony of defeat. Feuds came to a decisive end while the seeds of future battles were planted. Bodies were beaten, egos bruised and careers changed for the immediate future.
Who left St. Louis having conquered their opponent, their arms raised in victory? Who must rebound after a disappointing performance?
These are the winners and losers from WWE Extreme Rules.
With his victory over Fandango, Chris Jericho accomplishes two things: he dishes the ballroom dancer his first pinfall loss in World Wrestling Entertainment and, more importantly, he stops his pay-per-view losing streak.
Jericho has long been one of the most talented and entertaining performers in the sport. His ability to overcome losses to remain over with the audience is one of his strongest attributes. Lose enough matches, however, and it will eventually do damage.
Y2J's win over Fandango gives him another notch in his belt. The young star had been one of the hottest stars in the industry over the past two months and beating him in a high-profile match on what is traditionally one of the better shows of the year means something, even for an accomplished and decorated star such as Jericho.
With his band Fozzy scheduled to tour later this summer, it remains to be seen how long Jericho sticks around. Regardless of when he leaves the company, his Extreme Rules win is a nice reward for one of the industry's most unselfish stars.
The United States champion entering Extreme Rules, the highly talented Kingston once again finds his career in limbo.
A staple of WWE's mid-card, Kingston has won both the United States and Intercontinental titles so long that it no longer really matters when he does it again. Unfortunately, prior to his latest title win, he suffered through a long losing streak that saw him left off of the WrestleMania broadcast for the first time in his career.
His Extreme Rules match against Dean Ambrose was a high-energy, fast-paced match that saw the challenger capitalize on a mistake by Kingston before picking up his first title.
Once again without title, Kingston faces an uncertain future. Will the feud with Ambrose continue to evolve or will the former champion return to his role as the company's most decorated jobber?
The answer may not be readily available but, for Kofi's sake, one can only hope his talent does not go completely wasted like earlier this year.
When "The World's Strongest Man" made his return earlier this year, he bulldozed the competition and was among the most over Superstars in the company. He left his competition lying at the Elimination Chamber and received one of the biggest pops of the night.
He stunned the world by defeating Ryback at WrestleMania. He was the alternative bad guy, the villain who talked a big game and backed it up with dominant victories.
Then came the feud with Sheamus.
Henry was outsmarted and embarrassed by the former World champion. He was outclassed by the "Celtic Warrior" and any of the aura that followed him suddenly disappeared. It only got worse at Extreme Rules.
A bad build was made worse by the fact that the "strap match" stipulation hampered what Henry and his opponent could do. They played to the stipulation and what resulted was several minutes of two men trying to drag each other around the ring in an attempt to hit all four corners in succession. In the end, Sheamus would be declared the victor.
Henry has lost a tremendous amount of momentum since the night after WrestleMania, when he lost to John Cena via countout and was treated as an afterthought thereafter. The feud with Sheamus made him look mindless and the loss Sunday night only hurt.
The developing rivalry between AJ Lee and Kaitlyn has already made for some entertaining exchanges between the two former friends. Sunday night at Extreme Rules, they took their rivalry to the next level with a ferocious pull-apart brawl that incorporated great intensity.
When it comes to the WWE Divas, fans have shown a tendency to care about rivalries only when they have some sort of story to sink their teeth into. Kaitlyn and AJ have a past between them and, being two of the more over women on the Divas roster, that will only help them tell the story they hope to tell in the coming weeks and months.
Also on the show, Renee Young saw her first expanded role as the moderator of a panel of WWE experts, including Wade Barrett, Titus O'Neil and Mick Foley. A longtime wrestling fan and broadcaster for The Score in Canada, Young brings a female presence to WWE's announcing and commentating side of things and, thus far, has performed admirably.
The fact that she was given a fairly important role as host of the pre- and post-shows means she is progressing rather quickly through the ranks of the company.
There has been no brighter spot for World Wrestling Entertainment since last fall than Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, known collectively as The Shield. At Extreme Rules, the impact they have made thus far in their career as a group was rewarded with championship gold.
Ambrose defeated Kofi Kingston in the night's second bout to capture the United States title while Reigns and Rollins claimed the tag team titles following their victory over Team Hell No.
During a time in which no WWE Superstar is really allowed to look completely dominant over any other Superstar (outside of the already established John Cena), the fact that The Shield has proven to be the exception by beating the top stars in the industry consistently and now controls two of the company's championships is impressive.
There is still a ton of mileage left in the three performers as a group, but one cannot help but worry that management will eventually get antsy and want to split them up.
Doing so prematurely could unravel all of the good that has been done.
Apparently WWE is utilizing instant replay now.
At the conclusion of Sunday's "I Quit" match, Jack Swagger locked Alberto Del Rio in the ankle lock. Suddenly, a white towel flew into the ring and the official called for the bell, awarding the match to Swagger.
Then, in a curious moment, referee Mike Chioda was called to ringside to view video evidence that it was Zeb Colter, not Ricardo Rodriguez, who threw the towel in. The match was restarted and Del Rio won shortly thereafter, thanks to the cross armbreaker.
While his performance was impressive, Swagger is an Extreme Rules loser because he not only needed outside interference to score him a controversial non-win, he allowed a beaten and battered Del Rio to quickly submit him just moments after the bout was restarted.
Yes, he controlled most of the match but the protecting of Del Rio by the creative team only served to make Swagger look weaker than he already did. Considering the fact that he needs the most help of the three men in the World title picture when it comes to getting over with the audience, that is far from a good thing.
Randy Orton has his fair share of critics.
Regardless of one's opinions of the former WWE and World champion, it is hard to deny the fact that at Sunday's Extreme Rules, he delivered his best performance in quite some time. He showed great energy and emotion in his battle with The Big Show, perhaps due to the fact that the event took place in his hometown of St. Louis, and the match thrived because of it.
The finish saw Orton deliver an RKO to Show, onto a steel chair, before setting up and executing the running punt to the head. One of the most dangerous moves in the sport, and done so rarely that it still means something when it occurs, the punt spelled the end for the giant who, to his credit, also performed admirably.
Fans have been waiting for a heel turn for Orton for quite some time. Having dispatched of The Big Show, wrapping up a story that began at WrestleMania in the process, there is finally an opening to book that turn.
As adamant as fans are about the turn, however, the reception Orton gets upon entering the arena every week is one some of the so-called top babyfaces in the sport could only dream of.
The Last Man Standing match for the WWE title between John Cena and Ryback was, arguably, the most well-built match on the Extreme Rules card. Their feud began the night after WrestleMania and was among the most anticipated of the event. Fans in St. Louis treated it as such, too.
Unfortunately, the creative team failed to deliver a true finish. Unwilling to end a Cena title reign that began just over a month ago and afraid to decisively defeat Ryback, one of the few top contenders to the WWE championship still on the roster, they booked a "no contest" finish on a night billed as the most extreme in World Wrestling Entertainment.
Fans voiced their collective opinion, erupting into a loud B.S. chant that overshadowed any story the announcers were attempting to tell.
On any other pay-per-view broadcast, the finish would have been perfectly acceptable, if not unpopular. But Extreme Rules is different. It is the one night where rules are set aside and the well-being of the Superstars is on the line. The risk of injury and the reward of championship glory adds drama to matches and creates heated and exciting matches.
The creative team's inability to book a match that delivered a finish, one way or the other, left a sour taste in the mouths of fans.
As it should have.
A year ago at Extreme Rules, Brock Lesnar made his in-ring return to WWE after a seven-year absence. In the main event of that show, he dominated John Cena in a tremendous main event before falling victim to a well-timed chain shot to the face and an Attitude Adjustment on the steel steps.
Despite the loss, no one questioned that Lesnar was a dominant beast of a man. Quite the contrary. Cena's win had appeared to be a fluke, a last-second desperation shot that worked in his favor.
Despite the loss, Lesnar would be okay, it was determined.
Then came the feud with Triple H. Brock was booked as a generic wrestling heel, the type that needs a manager to help him out of situations he cannot get himself out of. He decisively beat Triple H at SummerSlam after months of questionable booking. Months later, at WrestleMania, he would lose the rematch in a No Holds Barred bout. The rubber match, it was revealed, would take place at Extreme Rules inside a steel cage.
With the aura of "legitimate badass" completely worn off, Brock Lesnar entered the cage Sunday night for the main event of Extreme Rules against Triple H looking every bit the imposing physical specimen that he is.
He then proceeded to be beaten around the ring, tossed from one steel side to the other and stretched in a number of submission holds focusing on his injured knee as "The Game" completely outclassed and outmaneuvered him.
Matters were only made worse when Lesnar needed a well-timed low blow from Paul Heyman to help him beat Triple H once and (hopefully) for all.
Brock Lesnar makes a lot of money. While that may allow him to be more comfortable with the way in which he is booked as a part-time attraction with World Wrestling Entertainment, the company is only hurting the man's worth the weaker he is made to look.
The fans in St. Louis were tremendous.
There was a lot to like about Sunday's Extreme Rules pay-per-view, but there was also quite a bit to dislike. No matter, the WWE faithful in the host city treated every match as if it were a big deal, staying hot for the entire show.
The quality of any show can be hurt or helped by the live reaction to what is going on between the ropes. The fact that the St. Louis crowd was so excited and energized helped matches that otherwise may have been merely "average" rise above that status.
While the fans were hardly as hot for the main event as they probably should have been, given the actual quality of that match, the booking of the story heading into it and the crafting of the match itself, one can hardly blame them.