Ranking the 5 Greatest Moments in WWE Extreme Rules PPV History
WWE Extreme Rules is currently one of the company's longest-tenured pay-per-views, with this year's installment set to be its 10th. The event's history began in 2009, when the original idea was for every match on the card to feature a stipulation of some sort.
Sadly, somewhere along the way, WWE lost sight of what the show should be all about as "the most extreme night of the year." Instead, most matches in recent years have been contested under standard rules, thus making it no different to any other event on the calendar.
Nonetheless, every installment has ranged from good to great thanks to some outstanding matches. Whether it was a championship changing hands, a shocking return, or a result no one saw coming, Extreme Rules has hosted a handful of memorable moments since its inception nearly a decade ago that won't be soon forgotten.
The upcoming installment has promise on paper, but the lack of hardcore matches on tap could cause the event to lose its luster. Then again, the only thing "extreme" about these five moments was that they were extremely effective in making the event what it is today.
Will anything at next Sunday's pay-per-view measure up to these all-time amazing moments in Extreme Rules history?
5. Samoa Joe Reigns Supreme in a Star-Studded Fatal 5-Way (2017)
Brock Lesnar's decisive Universal Championship victory over Goldberg at WrestleMania 33 left him without a proper challenger in the months that followed. In his absence, however, the Raw roster went to war over who deserved the next shot at the strap for when Lesnar inevitably resurfaced.
Therefore, a main event was made for Extreme Rules 2017, pitting five of the brand's biggest and brightest stars against each other. The winner of this star-studded Fatal 5-Way would earn the right to contend for the championship at July's Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view.
The build-up to the bout left a bit to be desired, if only because there are only so many ways to get fans excited about a match where there's no bad blood present. Nevertheless, the main event of the night delivered in a major way, with strong showings from five Superstars going to great lengths to walk away the victor.
Of the combatants, Roman Reigns and Finn Balor seemed to be the fan favorites to come out on top because of their unfinished business with the title and with Lesnar. Either one of them would have been fine choices, but Samoa Joe's win was even more monumental and satisfying because it was surprising.
Furthermore, his blockbuster win set up a dream match many had been waiting years to become a reality: Joe vs. Lesnar. The moment was exciting on all levels and kicked off WWE's summer season with a bang.
4. The Shield's Golden Sweep (2013)
Few Superstars had more momentum on their side by the spring of 2013 than The Shield, who had taken WWE by storm in six-man tag team competition. As they approached their six-month mark on the main roster, the trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns decided to branch out and conquer the singles and tag team ranks.
At Extreme Rules 2013, the faction had their chance to follow in the footsteps of Evolution, with each member aiming to hold gold on the same night. While Ambrose vied for the United States Championship against Kofi Kingston, Rollins and Reigns set their sights on Team Hell No's WWE Tag Team Championship.
Both bouts were excellent and proved that all three Shield stars were every bit as excellent individually as they were collectively. Ambrose was the first of them to take home gold at the event, knocking off Kingston for the star-spangled prize—his first singles title in WWE.
Whether Reigns and Rollins could continue to clean sweep, however, was the question. Team Hell No had been rocking and rolling in the tag team scene for over eight months, but even they were no match for the cohesive unit of Reigns and Rollins.
In their thrilling Tornado tag team matchup, The Shield emerged victorious and walked away with the titles in tow, further cementing their legacy as one of the most dominant factions of all time.
3. Christian Captures the World Heavyweight Championship (2011)
Edge's retirement from the ring in 2011 was bittersweet. On one hand, one of the greatest wrestlers to ever grace the squared circle was being forced to hang up his boots, but on the bright side, it meant a slew of stars could rise up and take his relinquished World Heavyweight Championship.
The title match at Extreme Rules 2011 was originally supposed to see Edge defend against Alberto Del Rio in a Ladder match. When Edge was deemed unable to compete, he was replaced by friend Christian, who of course had plenty of experience with the stipulation.
For years, it never seemed officials were willing to get behind Christian as a main-event player. He was considered a great hand to have, but he always fell short of winning the big one.
It was a different story in Tampa at Extreme Rules. Christian and Del Rio rekindled their rivalry and produced an excellent Ladder match. The suspense of who would retrieve the title kept fans on their feet in the arena, both competitors pulling everything out of their arsenal in an attempt to fulfill their destiny of becoming world champion.
With a little help from Edge, Christian was able to pull down the title belt to an outstanding ovation. Almost instantly, tears started streaming down the faces of the former WWE tag team champions as they embraced each other. It was an emotional moment for fans and competitors alike.
2. CM Punk Crashes Jeff Hardy's Championship Celebration (2009)
WWE has delivered some stellar Extreme Rules events over the last decade, but the inaugural installment will forever be tough to top for how many great matches and moments came out of it.
On a night that saw several surprises and multiple title changes, the best had yet to happen until the main event, which featured Jeff Hardy vs. Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship. Since both men had history in Ladder matches, it was a true toss-up over who was going to emerge victorious in their latest encounter.
They battled back and forth for over 20 minutes as the coveted title hung in the balance in a hard-fought contest.
Unfortunately, Hardy's night was far from over. Before he could properly commemorate the occasion with a championship celebration, CM Punk crashed the scene to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. It was uncharacteristic of Punk to take advantage of a beloved hero such as Hardy, but he hardly cared as he hit him with not one but two Go to Sleeps to claim the world title.
Punk's slow transformation into a hated heel that summer was glorious to watch, and it all started with his win over The Charismatic Enigma at Extreme Rules. This series of events can be credited for essentially revitalizing Punk's career and setting the bar for future installments of the event.
1. Seth Rollins' Triumphant Return (2016)
Roman Reigns' WWE World Heavyweight Championship win at WrestleMania 32 rang hollow because it felt like he was keeping the belt warm until a certain someone returned from injury. In the meantime, Reigns took on all challengers to his championship, including AJ Styles at Extreme Rules 2016.
Their exhilarating Extreme Rules match was not only among the best bouts of the year, it proved Reigns was more than a one-note performer. He more than held his own against The Phenomenal One as the fight went all around the arena and into the audience, and Reigns never let up on his relentless assault.
Despite Styles' best efforts (and interference from Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows and The Usos), Reigns secured the three-count and maintained possession of the belt. Many fans in attendance were disappointed by the result, and it seemed the evening would end on that underwhelming note.
Just when it appeared the event was about to go off the air, Seth Rollins resurfaced for the first time in six months and immediately laid out his former Shield stablemate with a thunderous Pedigree. The crowd burst back into life as Rollins stood tall over Reigns, slowly picking up the WWE title he technically never lost and holding it high over his head.
Around this time, the WWE Universe was aware Rollins' return was imminent, but no one could have expected that it would happen at this moment, which is what made it so memorable.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.