Ok, i’ll be up-front about this; this write-up isn’t going to be the most detailed of write-ups, just because I don’t have the time to put that much detail in. It’s a shame too because I really enjoyed last night’s PPV. Every match (the Cole match aside, which ‘was what it was’) really delivered in my eyes, even if some of the results in themselves weren’t to my liking.
Match 1) Randy Orton def. CM Punk in a Last Man Standing Match
It didn’t seem to me that the crowd wasn’t that in to this match, which is a shame because this match was predictably really good. One of the most frequent criticisms of Extreme Rules is that it isn’t that ‘extreme’. Well I don’t think that could be said about this match at least. There were a lot of enthralling hard-to-watch spots in this match, from an RKO on the announce table, the onslaught of kendo shots to Punk while he was in the corner, and the sickening shot to the ring-post to Randy Orton with his head in a chair, amongst much more. This was a well thought out brawl, and despite losing, CM Punk didn’t look weak, often out-wrestling Orton and kicking out of some of his strongest moves. The finish was pretty good though not that original with a super RKO to Punk ending it. I understand why Punk lost: Orton is now top dog on Smackdown and has to carry that, while Punk’s future at the company seems uncertain. Nonetheless, I would have liked to see Punk go over as he deserves one big win in this feud.
Match 2) Kofi Kingston def. Sheamus in a Tables Match to Win the United States Championship
This was an impromptu match, and so, the competitors may be forgiven for putting on a so-so match, and indeed, it seemed like that might be the case initially. The match started off slowly, but really built around Kofi surviving against the seemingly unstoppable Celtic Warrior, jumping over the table following a brogue kick for instance. Eventually, Kofi managed to turn the tide, showing a resilience and a fighting spirit he may not have been able to show at times in the past. The spot which finished the match was spectacular. Initially, though Sheamus was stood next to the table, he didn’t seem vulnerable to going through the table. But then, Kofi leaped from the turnbuckle, landing on Sheamus and dropping him through the table with a devastating boom-drop. A nice match, especially given that the match didn’t receive much build and wasn’t even listed.
Match 3) Michael Cole & Jack Swagger def. Jerry “The King” Lawler & J.R. in a Country Whipping Match
The low point, the black hole if you will, of the night. This was better then their attempt at an actual wrestling match at WrestleMania, but it was still far from a good match, though obviously, that wasn’t the intention. The problem was that this wasn’t the blow-off. I know Cole is getting the most heat right now, and that the people are loving seeing J.R., but this really needed to be the blowoff. And what better match to do that in than a whipping match! I know the angle is popular, but the matches are not. There is nothing long with people wanting more if that is required.
Match 4) Rey Mysterio def. Cody Rhodes in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
This was another very good match that will probably be the blowoff of this excellent feud between Mysterio and Rhodes. This one went the right way as it left the ring pretty quickly, and was appropriately brutal given the hard feelings that have grown between the two characters. They made their way up the ramp first, and Mysterio reversed Rhodes and threw him in to the tron in an echo of Rhodes’ original beat-down of Mysterio. Then, they moved in to the crowd, and we saw a really cool spot with Rhodes putting Mysterio in a Boston Crab while he was wrapped in a hand-rail. In a different part of the arena, there was another nice storyline idea as Mysterio forced Rhodes to look at himself in the mirror, before Rhodes reacted by hitting a Beautiful Disaster from the wall. The only problem was that the finish had to finish in the ring because of Mysterio’s move-set (well, not necessarily, but more easily) which was part of my reasoning for predicting Rhodes to win. The finish was nice despite that, with Mysterio hitting Rhodes with some mist (Great Muta/Tajiri style) before hitting a 619 for the win. The match was nice, but I do always think that falls count anywhere matches that the matches should finish outside the ring, and the fact that it didn’t hurt the match. Other than that, another very well thought out match.
Match 5) Layla def. Michelle McCool in a No DQ, No Count-Out, Loser Leaves WWE Match
Very nice divas match here. As i’ve said before, the story here wrote itself, though the aspect WWE added (that Layla could hardly bare to fight Michelle) was a nice aspect as it showed how close the two were while adding an extra psychological dimension to every move she executed. Before the match, Layla apologised to all the divas for all the things she’d done as a member of LayCool in a segment which she did a good job of making it seem sincere, so it seems here babyface turn is confirmed. The match itself was really brutal, and just goes to show that at least some of the divas can really bring it physically. This started when McCool big-booted Layla right off the top rope during her entrance pose to kick things off (LITERALLY!) Lots of brawling ringside with the barricades and announce table before they made their way back to the ring. Layla hit her floatover stunner from the turnbuckle for a nice near-fall, and, speaking of psychology, when Michelle kicked out, Layla really seemed devastated as she would have to continue punishing someone she is so emotionally connected to. After some more nice progressions, McCool hit a Faithbreaker, but as she pinned Layla, Lay reversed in to a crucifix pin for the victory. A nice reversal, but maybe a slightly lacklustre finish? I think that’s a bit harsh, but I might have appreciated a bit more of a punchy end. Both girls in tears at this point and it was certainly very emotional. Great of McCool to do her duty and put Layla over, and while i’ve heard the dreaded word ‘retirement’, I really hope to see her again.
Then we heard Kharma’s music! The build for her character has been fantastic, and this was such an exciting moment. Her music and her demeanor was very affecting, especially since they gave her the ‘Andre’ shot from the ground, making her seem even bigger. She was absolutely terrifying, and for Michelle’s part, she played it fantastically,frozen to the spot like in a horror film. She then took a huge Implant Buster from Kharma who reverted to periodic, spasmodic laughter (which must be very difficult to do). Huge impact, and thanks to Michelle. Firstly for putting over 2 divas in one night, but more importantly, if she is retiring, for everything she’s done for the fans. Great worker, and one of the stand-out divas of recent years.
Match 6) Christian def. Alberto Del Rio in a Ladder Match to Become the BRAND NEW World Heavyweight Champion
At the start of this post, I said that I wouldn’t be able to go in to too much detail, and that is still the case i’m afraid. I feel bad, because this deserves all the attention it gets, but unfortunately, I really need to finish this sucker! Every second of this match delivered, so I wont even go in to too many specific spots. I will, however, mention what looked like it was meant to be a snap-ladder spot. With Christian draped across a ladder wedged between the ring apron and the announce table, Del Rio went for an elbow-drop from the turnbuckle, only for Christian to move and Del Rio to crash, sickeningly in to the ladder, which did NOT snap. If anything, I think that made it more visually affecting that the clean ladder-snap. It looked so brutal. Del Rio regained the upper hand though, and looked ‘destined’ to collect the World Title when Edge came in in a jeep for enough of a distraction (though not enough of one to reasonably claim that Del Rio was ‘screwed’) to allow Christian to push Del Rio out of the ring on to Ricardo Rodriguez and a disgustingly busted open Brodus Clay (seriously, there was a PUDDLE of blood (not to be confused with a Puddle of Mudd)) and claim the title as his friend Edge watched on approvingly. It was exactly what the WWE Universe wanted to see, and personally, for me, it was so touching, having had some of my formative wrestling viewing experiences watching Edge & Christian. Christian was incredibly moved by this, and as a fan, this is what you want to see. Someone who cares about achieving these goals and realises how blessed they are. Beautiful.
Match 7) Kane & The Big Show def. Wade Barrett & Ezekiel Jackson (Corre) in a Tag Team Lumberjack Match to Retain the WWE Tag Team Championships
I literally almost forgot that this match even happened. Its not that this was bad, but it simply served these guys by progressing the Corre fragmenting story. That is a job for TV. It didn’t last that long, but it would be time better allotted to another match (Layla/McCool?).
Match 8) John Cena def. The Miz and John Morrison to Win the WWE Championship
One of my few criticisms of this PPV is that the main event should have been the previous match. I understand that this match was about the ‘A’ brand, and the WWE’s top stars and the top title changing hands, but the truly iconic moment came just before this. It is a shame that Christian’s moment had to compete with Cena’s. Having said that, this main event was great in itself, and, probably helped by the intervening tag match, didn’t suffer from following Christain’s win. This was very well booked specifically as a triple threat cage match, with jeopardy at every turn from the third wheel having chances to escape while the other competitors don’t even notice. There were some great dramatic moments from that conceit alone. Other than that, just lots of nice spots and very good drama. Miz took a couple of horrible bumps, especially that double superplex from the ropes from which he landed on his neck! They also used the cage door very well at times. There was one point when Cena and Morrison were fighting atop the cage. Miz, trying to escape from the door, was stopped by Morrison who used his leg to slam the door in his face. I know this doesn’t sound particularly great, but considering he was focused on Cena, and the nonchalance with which he did it made it seem unique and cool. This was followed by another really arresting image of Morrison being dragged back in to the cage, from the the top, through the door, by Miz before Cena hit him with a Monkey Flip (more additions to Cena’s move-set, but will no doubt people will still call him out for using ‘5 moves’). Later on, Morrison looked destined to escape the cage, when R-Truth appeared to stop him. I really liked how this was booked. Truth absolutely decimated Morrison. I loved him being in the cage, and I loved even more how he beat down Cena and climbed out to prove a point. Excellent stuff and a definite impact from Truth. JoMo was out of the match from this point, leaving just Miz and Cena. Atop the turnbuckle, Miz teased a super-Skull-Crushing Finalé, but what we got was a super-Attitude Adjustment and a three-count for Cena. It was a very good match, and Miz had had a 159 day reign (pretty long by any marker), so it’s hard to legitimately complain, but I really don’t think Cena should have won. It seems now that Cena is going to hold that title until WrestleMania (following his confrontation with Rock on the following night’s RAW). Not only is a year-long Cena champ what few want to see (though it will add nice prestige to the title I must admit, and make his eventual losing of it seem huge), I would have rather had that effect on Miz’s reign. He’s a top guy now for sure anyway, but imagine if he’d have had the title until, say, Summerslam? Not only that, but it deprives WWE and its Universe of a good face-chase story, with Cena being denied the title by various different means, again, making his eventual capturing of it seem like a dramatic peak. All this said, it’s not the worst decision ever. It does make sense. I just would have rather Miz continue his reign.
Overall, probably the best non-major PPV in a long time. The two tag matches were not very satisfying, but those aside, consistently high quality matches, and mixed in with Michelle’s emotional exit, Kharma’s impactful debut, and Christian’s title win, this PPV was a very good one. Even a rare iconic non-major PPV. Maybe. Time will tell.
One more thing! For those of you that read and enjoy, please try and show that somehow (comments, likes etc), and if you want further thoughts from me, and comments on the biz, follow me on twitter @RTVWOW Here’s a link too: http://twitter.com/#!/RTVWOW I just tweeted, for instance, on TNA’s name change. Go see what I said!