Matt’s Last Look: Extreme Rules 2014

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Coming off the heels of one of the most memorable WrestleManias last month, its now time to for the follow up – the one night of a year that the WWE goes Extreme (you know, except any other night where they have some kind of no DQ match). It was a fairly predictable show heading in – I went perfect in all my predictions as it turned out – but heading in I felt the card would deliver based on the three big matches. The PPV did lead to a little uncertainty as to what is coming next though, so that’s always a good thing. Anyway, lets jump right into my last look at Extreme Rules 2014.

I didn’t catch most of the pre-show as the Network live stream was playing up for me at the time. It turned out that everything was fine if I accessed it through the program schedule rather than the “now playing” button, so if anyone else had similar issues I hope you found the same solution. Of course, our pre-show match was the so called weeLC match between El Torito and Hornswoggle. I was able to watch just as the match was getting started, and this was entertaining enough for what it was supposed to be. The crowd loved it as well. El Torito came out victorious as expected due to him being the newer little guy on the scene and also the babyface. Onwards to the actual show.

The opening video package was the usual high quality stuff we expect from the WWE. It featured the Shield/Evolution, Bryan/Kane and Cena/Wyatt feuds, in that order. Our announcers were the usual combination of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & John Bradshaw Layfield. They took us to our opening match of the night.

Elimination Match:
Rob Van Dam vs Cesaro w/Paul Heyman vs Jack Swagger w/Zeb Colter

My pick heading in: Cesaro
Winner: Cesaro with the Neutraliser to Rob Van Dam on a trash can at 12:34 after Swagger was eliminated earlier in the match off an RVD five star frog splash.

Going into the show I was unsure as to the rules of this match. I thought I recalled seeing it being advertised as an elimination match on Smackdown, but WWE.com was calling it a regular triple threat match. Well, even the announcers were confused at one point as Lawler was saying Cesaro was breaking up a pin to keep the match going. This match was basically a means to showcase Cesaro and give him a win against a credible opponent like Rob Van Dam. I really like the pairing with Cesaro and Heyman (who was great as usual reminding us what his other client did to a certain streak before the match). I figured Swagger would be eliminated first in this as Cesaro and RVD were the two guys that the crowd really cared about in the match. I was a little surprised RVD eliminated Swagger as I thought Cesaro might go the distance and eliminate both men, but it was a way to keep Van Dam looking strong. After Swagger was taken out of the match the remaining two men the match picked up with the legdrop spot on the barricade and then bringing a trash can into play, so the match was also no disqualifications despite us not knowing this. I really liked the ending sequence of the match that saw RVD hit the trash can into Cesaro and then attempt to follow up with the five star, only to land on the can and then fall prey to the Neutraliser from the newest ‘Paul Heyman guy’. The Cesaro push continues although it looks like the RVD/Cesaro feud will continue from here. Thats fine with me. I’m not sure where Cesaro goes after that, but he’ll stay in this tweener role with Heyman where the crowd wants to cheer for him. The obvious face turn down the line should lead to a match with Lesnar, but Cesaro needs more time to establish himself as an upper card player before he’s ready for that. This was a good choice to start the show as the crowd were into these guys, and it was good to see the Cesaro push going strong.
My grade: **3/4

In the back, Stephanie McMahon approached Daniel Bryan. She told him that he could forfeit the title instead of facing Kane tonight, but Bryan told her to get out of his sight. Stephanie said by the end of the night, Kane would be making Bryan his bitch. Fine to continue this Stephanie/Bryan thing which I am intrigued to see where it is going.

R-Truth & Xavier Woods vs Alexander Rusev w/Lana
My pick heading in: Alexander Rusev
Winner: Alexander Rusev by submission, making Truth tap out to the Accolade at 2:53.

This match was exactly what we all expected it to be – a total squash for Rusev as he continues to run though all the lower card guys on the roster. Xavier Woods was taken out on the outside right away so this was effectively just a one on one match between Truth and Rusev. I must be one of the very few people (if any) that just doesn’t see Lana’s attractiveness. I mean, she’s fine, but I’d rank most of the current diva roster over her. Nonetheless, she plays her part well and Rusev continues to look strong. After the match Rusev attacked Woods some more. The match was short. I really don’t have anything else to say about this. Expect more Rusev squashes over the next month or so. There’s no rush getting him higher up the card just yet.
My grade: *

We then sent things to the amazing Renee Young who was backstage with Evolution. Triple H talked about having egos but that it wouldn’t be there downfall against the Shield before talking up their resumes. Orton said it was time for the Shield to perish. Batista didn’t say a word.

WWE Intercontinental Championship:
Big E (c) vs Bad News Barrett

My pick heading in: Bad News Barrett
Winner: Bad News Barrett by pinfall with the Bull Hammer elbow at 7:55.

Our first championship match of the night was highly predictable. Bad News Barrett is incredibly hot right now so putting the title on him was definitely the right call. Its his fourth time as I.C champion but it feels like a bigger deal this time simply due to how well he’s been received by the crowds since being repackaged in this character. At the opposite end of the spectrum was Big E who has lost a ton of momentum since winning the I.C title last year. The crowd was silent for a lot of his offence in the match, and that’s what will happen when you book a champion without any meaningful feuds for six months or so. I like Big E and I’m sure he’ll get the chance to recover, but a change was definitely needed here. As far as the match goes, it was fine for the time it was given but it wasn’t really anything special. There was never a moment that I thought Barrett was going to lose either. They did the rematch of this the next night on Raw where Barrett also went over clean so it looks like this feud is over now. I’m not sure who will be next in line to challenge the new champion, but I definitely hope he gets some real feuds rather than what most mid-card champions have. I’m cautiously optimistic that with the elimination of the World Heavyweight title we will start seeing that over time.
My grade: **1/4

A hype video for Adam Rose was shown next and he of course made his debut the next night. From here we threw to a video package for the Evolution/Shield match. I was shocked.

The Shield vs Evolution
My pick heading in: The Shield
Winners: The Shield by pinfall following a Spear by Reigns to Batista at 19:56.

Wow, this match was amazing – where do I even begin? I should start out by saying that my prediction that the Shield would win here was based solely on the rumours that Batista would be taking time off after this PPV. As it turns out it looks like he is sticking around through to Payback meaning the feud will be continuing, which makes the result more surprising to me than it was when it actually occurred. I was also very surprised that this match was not the main event of the night. I guess everyone can stop with that “Triple H booking himself in the main event” theory now. Oh who am I kidding, that’s not going to stop the haters. Anyway, the match itself was excellent. It started off a little slow, but things really picked up once the action got going. I didn’t quite like this match as much as the Shield/Wyatt tag at Elimination Chamber, but this was definitely still up there. One thing I really liked about this match was that every member of the Shield got the chance to shine. The highly likely end game of this rivalry is the big singles match between Reigns and Triple H, but in this match, everyone had their spots. Ambrose was great in the babyface that kept fighting role which is weird considering he is such a natural heel. Rollins was flying all over the place like usual showing off his insane athleticism, the most memorable spot of the match being the dive he took off the balcony in the crowd onto Triple H and Orton. Reigns was the big star who tagged in at the end getting the decisive pin on Batista. Evolution looked good in there as well, and for the second PPV in a row, Batista actually hasn’t looked horrible in the ring. It is strange that Evolution lost their first match back together with this feud likely continuing, but I’m definitely not against it. The Shield looked unstoppable here which is the right way to build up the young guys who all have bright futures. If you haven’t watched this match, fire up the Network and watch it now. You won’t regret it. The good news is, all signs point to a rematch next month as well.
My grade: ****1/2

After the Shield celebration in the crowd, we went right into our next match. The video package for Cena/Wyatt played. I figured this was going on last when the Shield match came on.

Steel Cage Match:
John Cena vs Bray Wyatt w/Luke Harper & Erick Rowan

My pick heading in: Bray Wyatt
Winner: Bray Wyatt by escaping the cage at 21:26.

First off – I loved that the crowd did the “John Cena” sucks chant to his song like we did the Raw after Mania in New Orleans. Now then, for a PPV that is traditionally based around WrestleMania rematches, this was our only one of the night. These two had a pretty good match last month which I rated at ***1/2 stars but expected more from. This match was not as good as their last outing, but I didn’t hate this like some people. The entire match here was all about story progression – and that’s a good thing since this is one of the more intriguing feuds John Cena has been involved in for a while, even if the matches themselves haven’t quite lived up to his usual big match outings quality wise. Bray really needed to win here so I’m glad that he did. He is now 1-1 with Cena, so obviously there will be another rematch with some kind of stipulation down there. I liked the way Harper and Rowan were heavily involved despite the cage, as their ability to prevent Cena from escaping the cage made the Wyatt Family look smart out there. People will complain that Cena probably looked a little too strong out there in being able to fight them off, and while I do somewhat agree, you’ve got to expect that as its the way Cena is booked. The ending of the match is the part that everyone is going to remember and given by love of creepy horror movies, I absolutely loved it. The moment the light went out and the voice started I wondered what was going to happen, and then when they came back on to the creepy demon child I was legitimately creeped out. I thought it was far more disturbing than the choir on Raw the week before (which I loved). Obviously the storyline here is that everyone has turned on Cena before and now thanks to Wyatt, the children are as well. Cue the Cena heel turn rumours. No, I don’t think it happens now or at all in the foreseeable future. I would love to see it though. It was strange that they didn’t have Cena on Raw this week, although he will be on Main Event, which is basically the WWE’s way of getting more people to subscribe to the Network, but I doubt anything major happens there. Back to the actual match, you could tell both guys were trying out there – it just seems for some reason these two just don’t have the chemistry together you would expect to have a classic match. Still quite enjoyable though.
My grade: ***

At this point we went over to the expert panel consisting of Josh Matthews, Alex Riley, Booker T & Sheamus. They were all in shock over the ending of the cage match. The announcers then talked about the weeLC match on the pre-show before our next match.

WWE Diva’s Championship:
Paige (c) vs Tamina Snuka

My pick heading in: Paige
Winner: Paige by submission with the Scorpion Cross Lock at 6:18.

This was a decent divas match for the time it was given. Paige is very good in the ring, you just need to look to her NXT matches to really see it, although she’s had some decent enough showings since winning the title the night after Mania. Tamina is serviceable enough with a good opponent and as a result this was a fairly entertaining divas match. I liked the physicality shown by Tamina outside when she sent Paige into the barricade. Of course, the outcome was never in doubt – this was the standard first title defence to establish a new champion. Paige won fairly decisively here so I envision she’ll move on to another challenger now. Having said that, there’s currently not a huge amount of heel opponents for her. I’d like to see Alicia Fox next in line, although Paige has defeated her a few times on TV already so I doubt they go that route. A heel turn for Natalya would also work. I’m sure we’ll get some matches with Emma and AJ down the line, but with Emma currently hanging with Santino and AJ out for a while yet, I’m not sure who is next in line for Paige.
Grade: **

We cut to the Wyatt Family who were with the evil demon kid from earlier. He put on a sheep mask. From here we went to a video package about the WWE title match which was the main event after all.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Extreme Rules Match:
Daniel Bryan (c) vs Kane

My pick heading in: Daniel Bryan
Winner: Daniel Bryan by pinfall with the Running High Knee at 22:44.

A lot of people were not happy about the idea of this match. I think that has a lot to do with people being hypersensitive about Daniel Bryan’s position in the company. Last month it was people thinking Triple H was going to bury Bryan for his own ego. Well instead, Bryan happened to have WRESTLEMANIA built around him. Now, I’ll admit I did not think there was any chance Bryan was main eventing tonight, but guess what – on a card that featured the reuniting of Evolution AND a match involving the guy that has been the face of the company for the past decade – Daniel Bryan went out last. I don’t know how more clearer it can be that the company believes in this guy and want to make him the next big star. But of course we’ll see the same stuff every month I’m sure. Now then, back on topic, this feud was fine considering what the company had to work with. All the other top heels are tied up in the Shield feud, and Bryan also had to miss a lot of TV time due to his honeymoon and the subsequent death of his father. I felt they did a good job of re-establishing Kane as a monster, particularly through that beating on Bryan a few weeks ago on Raw heading into this. The match itself was solid, although not great. Its about what I was expecting it to be. It’s not the terrible match some would have you believe though. I really enjoyed the early part of the match and the crowd was on fire for basically everything Bryan did. When the match went into the backstage area I was concerned that we were going to get some kind of screwy no contest ending following some evil act by Kane, but thankfully there was still a fair bit of time on the show during that part of the match. I did enjoy the Ezekiel Jackson cameo on the production truck despite no longer being on the roster though. The backstage stuff was to set up the forklift spot, which was actually a tribute to Bryan’s late father apparently. I loved the knee off the forklift, although the actual set up did drag a bit. I probably would have had the forklift up near the set instead of being all the way in the back to have it set up easier. After that spot, the match picked back up again and culminated in the flaming table spot which is something we haven’t seen in a long time now. Bryan followed up and pinned Kane clean with the Running Knee and it looked as though this feud was put to bed with Bryan conquering the Devil’s favourite demon. Then Kane sat up as Bryan was celebrating his victory in the aisle. That obviously means we are getting a rematch at Payback. I’m not really thrilled with that as this seemed like a one month feud, but I imagine it has something to do with the Batista stories out there as he was apparently set to face Bryan at one point in time. That said, I liked this match for what it was, but I’m definitely ready for a new contender to emerge after Payback.
My grade: ***1/2

Three Stars of the Night:
1. Seth Rollins – despite a lot of people thinking he’ll be the Shield member that gets lost in the shuffle when the eventual split happens, for the second PPV of the year I have him in this spot. The guys athleticism is insane and he got to showcase his stuff in the six man tonight. That dive off the balcony will be the moment I think of when I think of this PPV.
2. Roman Reigns – the major push of the next big thing continues. Dominant performance as usual with the crowd behind him big time. I’m genuinely surprised he pinned Batista clean here in Evolution’s first match back.
3. Daniel Bryan – it wasn’t the best match he’s had, but he still put on a pretty entertaining contest for his first title defence. Also, getting to go on after both Evolution and John Cena bodes very well for his future as a key player in the company.

Everyone else in the six man tag should get an honourable mention as well as Kane who busted his ass to put on a better match than usual for him these days. The three guys above stood out the most for me though.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Extreme Rules was a good show, but obviously nothing epic like last month’s PPV outing. It was a show that was about continuing storylines, as its clear that the big three feuds on this show will be going further and we will likely see rematches with some kinds of stipulations at Payback. The match of the night was obviously the six man tag, which joins the ranks of some very strong matches on PPV already this year as a match of the year candidate. Evolution put the Shield over big time, but as I said, considering the feud is continuing through to next month I didn’t expect them to get the win here. I’m not sure where they go after next month with it, as I do think we are building to Triple H/Roman Reigns at Summer Slam, but that’s still a fair way off.

The John Cena/Bray Wyatt feud really intrigues me. As I said before, I just can’t see the Cena heel turn coming out of this that a lot of people are predicting. Its a very interesting story being told though, and I hope there is some kind of pay off that is worth it down the line.

Bryan/Kane was a solid main event that served as a solid first title defence for the popular champion. I really don’t think the feud has the legs for another month, but that’s the way they are going to go due to the lack of main event heels outside of Evolution at the moment who are occupied with other things. I’m more intrigued as to who will be next to face Bryan after Payback (I have a feeling it could be Sheamus if this US title reign is a short one and the rumoured heel turn is coming). That’s not a knock on this match at all as I enjoyed it, I’m just ready for Bryan to move on to someone else now.

As far as the undercard goes (and the whole card actually), it was all about putting over guys and girls who can be viewed as part of the future of the company. That’s a good thing going forward. Extreme Rules was an enjoyable show. Now lets stop getting worried about Bryan shall we?

FINAL GRADE: 7 out of 10

Author: Matt McCulloch