WWE's stars impressed and underwhelmed on the violent night that was Extreme Rules 2013.
From the solid pre-show match to the hard-hitting cage match, the card was filled with weapon usage, title changes and kayfabe injury. Some matches flexed their dramatic muscles while others whimpered.
The Shield, as many fans expected, walked away with championship gold. WrestleMania rematches saw new outcomes and the last four men who went on put on compelling theater.
The following is a recap of the Extreme Rules event, who won, how it happened, analysis of the quality of the match and thoughts on what happens going forward.
Winner: Miz via submission (figure-four)
Quickness and fluidity made for an entertaining pace in this solid opener.
Cody Rhodes was the aggressor for much of the action. He attacked Miz with vicious kicks, grinded his forearms into him during pin attempts and yanked him down by the hair.
Both he and Miz came out looking good in this short match, but Miz ended the night with the victory and the momentum. Rhodes had a top-rope move thwarted and once he was on his back, he was easy prey for Miz and his figure-four.
Miz's win should launch him into a semi-prominent feud going into Payback. Perhaps he continues his rivalry with Wade Barrett or moves up the WWE ladder some and faces someone like Big Show.
Figure four and Rhodes taps. The Miz def. Cody Rhodes. Decent match. I would like to see it again with more time. #ExtremeRules— American Dolphin (@BrettChandlerWE) May 19, 2013
Winner: Chris Jericho via pinfall (Codebreaker)
A few awkward spots didn't diminish the entertainment value of Fandango vs. Chris Jericho too much. Jericho and Fandango continued their rivalry with a match that was engrossing at times.
Jericho began lounging in the ropes, unimpressed with Fandango's over-the-top entrance.
The veteran spent most of the match in pursuit, his long-building frustration evident in his sneer and in the intensity of his attack. He landed elbows and kicks on Fandango and worked the crowd masterfully.
After Fandango missed a flying legdrop, Jericho hit the lionsault for only a count of two. The surprise of Fandango's resilience here was one of the match's highlights.
Both men looked exhausted toward the end. It took Jericho catching Fandango in mid-air with the top Codebreaker to end it.
His performance made Fandango seem that he belonged on a high level, which is evidently the purpose of having him face Jericho. Jericho gets a much-needed pay-per-view win, his first since SummerSlam 2012. The feud doesn't seem quite over, so perhaps Payback will feature the rubber match.
Jericho hits a sick codebreaker with Fandango coming off the top rope. Solid, if unspectacular PPV bout. Can't really go wrong w/Jericho.— WrestleZone.com (@WRESTLEZONEcom) May 20, 2013
Winner: Dean Ambrose via pinfall (headlock driver)
A new United States champion was crowned and the next phase of The Shield's journey began.
Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins left Dean Ambrose's side before the match began. This was apparently going to be an independent win.
Kofi Kingston speed was the best part of the match in the opening moments. He leapfrogged over Ambrose a few times and went for the Trouble in Paradise early. The move was built up as a dangerous weapon, one that Ambrose was wary of but prepared to face.
It was that finisher that conked Ambrose in the head, knocking him off the apron. Rather than trying for a count-out victory, Kingston dragged Ambrose back in. That choice ended up costing him the match and the title.
Ambrose soon turned a missed Trouble in Paradise into his headlock driver for the win.
This was an exciting match despite being so short. The U.S. title hasn't been featured a ton in recent months, but Ambrose as champion may change that. The Shield have been featured prominently and championships will only increase that.
Dean Ambrose over Kofi Kingston in 7 minutes. New US Champ. Very impressive. #ExtremeRules— John Canton (@johnreport) May 20, 2013
Winner: Sheamus via touching all four turnbuckles
A match with the potential to be the show's most violent and gasp-inducing fell short.
The rubber-looking strap that tied Mark Henry and Sheamus together didn't look half as scary as the belt Henry whacked Sheamus with previously.
As many times as the announcers played up how difficult it would be for Sheamus to drag Henry around to the corners of the ring, it seems pointless that Sheamus didn't even need to drag him. He just got some distance from the big man and reached out for the turnbuckles.
The strap got in the way more than it added to the intensity of the match.
Several times, it looked like both men were confused about what moves to do next. It wasn't used as a weapon nearly enough, either.
Sheamus nearly hit all four corners a few times, but Henry kept smashing him to the ground. A World's Strongest Slam countered into the Brogue Kick got Sheamus the space he needed to finally hit the fourth corner and win.
A win for the Celtic Warrior against a man who just beat Ryback and was made to look so monstrously strong recently should mean big things for him. If this feud isn't continuing, Sheamus may be headed back to the World title picture.
Can we expect to see a Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler feud by SummerSlam?
They should do an angle where Sheamus and Mark Henry can't get the straps off and have to be stuck to each other for at least a week.
— Gavin Jasper (@Gavin4L) May 20, 2013
Winner: Alberto Del Rio via submission (cross armbreaker)
An overeager referee deflated the drama of a potentially excellent match.
Zeb Colter opened with another borderline racist promo saying that the St. Louis baseball team should be called the Caribbean Cardinals.
Once that heat was churned up, Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio got to work. The kendo stick was pulled out early and became a prominent figure in the match. Swagger used it to beat on Del Rio's ankle and his chest. Del Rio later got revenge and whipped Swagger in the back with it.
Swagger's intensity throbbed, in his eyes and in his offense.
He slammed Del Rio down viciously and at one point gave him such a realistic punch, it looked like he might have concussed Del Rio a la Dolph Ziggler.
A small cut opened up on Swagger's shoulder and he made the most of it by licking his own blood.
The drama never got a chance to swell, though, as the referee asked both men if they wanted to quit too early and too frequently. Someone would get hit with a clothesline and then be asked if they wanted to quit.
A regular Joe could possibly call it quits after a basic move, but there's no way it would happen here. This took away from the flow of the match in a major way.
Swagger caught Del Rio in the Patriot lock and Del Rio writhed dramatically. He tugged at Swagger's knee pads and reached out in desperation. Ricardo Rodriguez thought about tossing in the towel, but didn't. Once the ref's back was turned, Colter threw it in for him.
Swagger was awarded the victory, but the finish ended up being a false one. A look at the instant replay inspired the referee to restart the match. It didn't go on much longer before Swagger gave up thanks to the pain of the cross armbreaker.
Del Rio moves on to face Ziggler for the World title. Will it be during an episode of WWE Raw or do we have to wait until Payback?
Winner: The Shield via pinfall (torture rack and flying knee)
A candidate for match of the night was later outshined by a longer, more hyped bout, but the energy of the tag team title match was stirring.
The fun that is the chaos of The Shield continued here, with just Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins fighting this time. Both teams showed off great cohesion and chemistry.
While Daniel Bryan held Rollins in the surfboard hold, Kane came in and kicked him. The Shield showed similar moments of great teamwork.
Bryan captured Reigns in the No! Lock, a move that caused the big man to be unable to lift his arm or to capitalize on a spear to Kane. Reigns fought through the pain to pick Bryan up in a torture rack hold while Rollins came crashing down with a knee.
Like The Shield's WrestleMania 29 match, had this gone on a little longer, it would have even better and earned instant-classic status.
Finally losing the titles gives Kane and Daniel Bryan the opportunity to go their separate ways. Will they part ways amicably or will Kane blame Bryan for being the weak link?
Either way, Extreme Rules was the coronation of The Shield, marking their first title wins and giving them something tangible to quantify their dominance.
Team Hell No's long reign has come to an end.The Shield is now all full of gold.— WrestleChat.net (@WrestleChatNet) May 20, 2013
Winner: Randy Orton via pinfall (punt)
With less hype than the matches that followed it, Randy Orton and Big Show still delivered.
This was one of the matches that most felt like it fit the Extreme Rules theme. Weapons and elevated violence were its hallmarks.
Big Show dominated to open. He stalked behind a wobbling Orton. Each time Orton pulled out a kendo stick or ladder to help him, Big Show used it against him.
It was a slow, pounding clash with bursts of excitement. Big Show propped up a ladder on two chairs only to crash into it himself. Orton swung a chair at him and Big Show countered with a spear.
After Big Show kicked out of an RKO, The Viper had to resort to his most dangerous weapon. He punted Big Show for the win.
The punt usually signifies the end of a feud or else time off for the victim. Expect Orton to move onto new prey come WWE Raw and beyond. He dispatched the big man with his boot and now moves forward with some momentum.
So Orton wins against Big Show. Not really surprising since they are in Orton's home town. But fine match none the less.— It'sLishYouTwit (@IAmJustLish) May 20, 2013
Winner: No Contest
Fans may disagree on how they feel about the ending, but there's no doubt that John Cena vs. Ryback gave us a grueling, physical match.
Cena's power had little effect on Ryback at first. Every time Cena hit him with something, Ryback would just pop back up. Ryback was in control for the majority of the night. He tossed Cena around, including a fallaway slam into a table.
Desperate to find a way to keep Ryback down, Cena threw out some new moves. He hit a powerbomb and later cranked Ryback's neck in an MMA-inspired hold.
This felt a lot like Triple H and Brock Lesnar's WrestleMania 29 match, but without as many weapons.
There were big, thrilling spots like an Attitude Adjustment through a table and Cena spearing Ryback through a barricade, but the pace slowed down too much even for a Last Man Standing match.
What really held this back was the lack of strategy.
With as much talk as there was about Cena's ankle/heel injury before the match, Ryback surprisingly almost never attacked that part of the body. That narrative tool was seemingly forgotten about.
The match ended after Ryback slammed Cena through the Extreme Rules set. Both men suffered injuries with Cena having to leave on a stretcher. Boos filled the arena as the fans realized there'd be no winner on this night.
The lack of a decisive finish all but guarantees a second match between these two. Looks like we know at least one match that will be on the Payback card.
Ryback was helped up & to the back! Cena stretchered out! Doesn't Ryback win? Just asking!— Jimmy Korderas (@jimmykorderas) May 20, 2013
Winner: Brock Lesnar via pinfall (F-5)
Match of the night goes to the main event.
Maybe some fans would prefer the night to end with the WWE title match or that Brock Lesnar was facing a full-time star, but this match shows why WWE had confidence in this pairing.
Triple H and Lesnar's fight was the best story told in the ring on Sunday. Star power, hype and excellent performances all around had this enthralling fans.
Triple H attacked Lesnar outside of the cage, and there was energy and intensity between them right away. Lesnar hurled The Game into the steel cage in an impressive feat of strength.
As he punished Triple H, Lesnar smiled deviously.
Lesnar hurt his knee barreling toward the cage wall and the subsequent injury became the narrative focus going forward. Lesnar screamed, "My knee!" Triple H used this as his opening.
Later, Lesnar's knees buckled as he tried to perform an F-5. Triple H slammed the knee with a chair to prevent a possible escape.
Lesnar and Triple H were great, but Paul Heyman was just as masterful. His whining and pleading, his underhanded moves like tossing Lesnar a chair and hitting Triple H with a low blow, amplified the drama of the match.
That low blow, a strike from Triple H's own sledgehammer and a final F-5 ended this slugfest between titans.
After defeating and hurting Triple H, Lesnar is free to move onto new prey. He looked like the monster he is capable of being. We should see his rampage continue, this time into new territory.
Lesnar wins! What a GREAT match! #ExtremeWithSubtitles— WWSubtitles (@WrestleSubtitle) May 20, 2013