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SMARK COUNTRY: Rules Are Extreme. Results, Not So Much

As WWE Extreme Rules ended, I found myself pressing the playback button to watch it again. Not the entirety of it, because the WWE’s version of Extreme Rules never quite lives up if you’ve ever watched other promotions utilize this match type (ECW). But I must say, certain spots really proved the hunger of some of the WWE’s best and brightest.

I’ll leave out the ridiculousness of the “Wee-L-C match,” as that was borderline insulting, which is a shame because there is talent with both competitors (Hornswoggle and Torito).

JACK SWAGGER vs. CESARO vs. ROB VAN DAM: I’ve never been big on triple threat matches where there’s no championship on the line. That being said, the dust being blown off of the Three-Way-Dance rules was a bit of a surprise. Standard triple threat rules mean first pin or submission ends the match and there is your winner. Three-Way-Dance means first person pinned or taps out is eliminated and the match continues until there is one more victory. This match, despite a good showing from The Real American American and The Whole F’n Show, this match’s main purpose was to elevate Cesaro and both competitors did just that. Swagger continues to be the whipping boy of the mid-card and RVD can’t quite be RVD when his opponents can’t work a match at his pace. That being said, these men had a good, if not great match and all evidence points to the next stop on the Cesaro Push Express is the World Title picture. WINNER: CESARO

ALEKSANDER RUSEV vs. R-TRUTH & XAVIER WOODS: Squash matches have their time and place. But at a pay-per-view event, where people pay top dollar for those tickets, a one sided match to push the next “bruiser” big man might not have been the smartest idea by booking/creative. Xavier Woods seems to exist for the sole purpose of being curb stomped by said big men of the WWE and he put on just the showing one would expect as he was knocked out early on. R-Truth is a solid ring worker and did a good enough job gaining audience sympathy with “U-S-A” chants being heard throughout the match. But the “Bulgarian Brute” and his arsenal of Sambo and Muay Thai along with startling agility for a man his size, proved to be too much. Rusev locked on his finisher, The Accolade and R-Truth had no choice but to tap out. WINNER: ALEKSANDER RUSEV

BAD NEWS BARRETT vs. BIG E for the INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP: I’ve made no bones about how I feel about Barrett. Four years doing televised matches and while his promos and vignettes are second to none, his actual ring work still feels like it’s lacking. Well, this match was certainly a step in the right direction. A WWE of 5-10 years ago would have had two big brutes of this size just pummel each other. But the past few years have seen big men with amazing technical prowess and cat-like reflexes, as both competitors showed during this match. This was perhaps Big E’s hardest fought match. Though he had the belt for five months, which is a respectable reign, he really didn’t have many title defenses outside of pay-per-view. Hopefully creative has something better in store as I don’t see how Barrett holding the IC belt yet again does anything to help him or Big E at this point. WINNER: BAD NEWS BARRETT

THE SHIELD (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns) vs. EVOLUTION (Triple H, Batista, Randy Orton): This was expected to be the match that tore the roof off of the arena and it damn sure lived up to that expectations. This spilled out of the ring fairly early on and fights broke out between the competitors around the arena. One amazing spot featured Dean Ambrose running across both announcers tables to leap at two of his opponents. Another moment which would make Paul Heyman proud, featured Seth Rollins dive bombing from the balcony of an upper section to take out HHH and Orton. One thing missing, was the element of Evolution’s egos causing a breakdown during this match. This was so heavily alluded to the past few weeks that it felt awkward that this plot element never came into play. Overall, this was the match that ensured fans got their money’s worth. WINNERS: THE SHIELD

BRAY WYATT vs. JOHN CENA: Steel Cage matches are pretty fun and though I’m not the biggest John Cena fan, he made this one work in some interesting ways story wise. Normally in a steel cage match, instead of going for the pinfall or submission, you can just try to escape the cage. But Bray’s brethren, Luke Harper and Eric Rowan were waiting, at one point with steel chair in hand, for Cena to climb out. So Cena was forced to try to win it inside the cage. Several good spots, Bray’s creepy crab walk and an interesting dynamic with this feud being put into play (Cena’s primary fan base being lulled in by the charismatic Wyatt) made for a satisfying match. WINNER: BRAY WYATT

TAMINA SNUKA vs. PAIGE for the DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP: This is the match that I felt the most disappointed with. Normally Divas matches in WWE are snooze fests unless they involve one of the women that can actually wrestle (I count maybe six out of the near twenty getting TV time). These are two of the best ring workers on the entire roster, male or female. Yet there were so many blown spots that I lost excitement for when amazing spots (like Tamina’s reversal of a Hurricanrana into a slam into the security barrier) did occur. I really hope there’s a rematch coming, because I know these two are capable of a five-star match. WINNER: PAIGE

KANE vs. DANIEL BRYAN for the WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: This match would probably excite the hell out of someone who is new to sports entertainment. But it really felt like these two performers were paying homage to several extreme rules matches from years past. Everything from using a kendo stick for a crossface style submission, to utilization of a forklift to drive a larger opponent back to the ring. It was a nice trip down memory lane, but when weapons are allowed in a match, some innovation is definitely a requisite…or at least it should be. Overall, a good match and both men will be sporting bruises and scars for the next few weeks. Daniel Bryan has momentum on his side, but how long will he be able to keep the fans behind him and keep upper management content with him as their top guy. WINNER: DANIEL BRYAN

After my second viewing, my feelings haven’t changed. This was a good pay-per-view, but could have been a sleeper hit of 2014, if not for some missed opportunities. What were your thoughts of WWE Extreme Rules 2014?