Extreme Rules Review – Rollins Retains While Tag Teams Steal the Show

 

Seth Rollins def. Randy Orton in a Cage Match to Remain WWE World Heavyweight Champion

Grade: B+

On a night full of crazy high spots, weapons, and big risks, Orton and Rollins showed that smart, deliberate ring psychology is still the most fundamentally sound way to get fans invested in a match. As the chicken heel, Rollins took every opportunity to try to escape the ring while Orton tried to punish his rival. Outside the ring, Kane did his job and opened the cage door, but would not provide any extra help to Rollins or J&J Security.

Rollins got a rare advantage when they were in a skirmish on the top rope and he delivered a flying knee to Orton. They climbed back to the top and both straddled to top of the cage until Orton brough Rollins back in and caught him with a big powerslam. Rollins hit a very sudden superkick and got a two count.

 

Rollins once again tried to climb out of the cage and Orton caught him by his hair. He pulled Rollins into the position and delivered a superplex from the top of the cage. He knocked J&J Security from the side of the cage and hit a T-Bone suplex and a hangman’s DDT from the top rope. With the RKO banned, Orton put Rollins down with a Pedigree, only for Rollins to kick out at two. He tried his trademark punt, but Rollins dodged it and responded with an enzuigiri.

 

Orton hit a backbreaker on Rollins and tried to leave through the door. Instead, Kane slammed the door and refused to let him pass. Rollins tried to hit Orton and inadvertently knocked Kane to the floor. An angry Kane snapped and slammed the cage door on both Orton and Rollins. Kane entered the ring and chokeslammed both of J&J Security. He lingered over Rollins, but grabbed Orton by the throat instead and hit him with a big chokeslam. When Rollins tried to scurry out of the cage, Kane caught him and hit another chokeslam. Much like he did in his match with Rollins, he draped Rollins over Orton, but Orton kicked out at a two count.

 

Kane went after Orton again and set up for a Tombstone. Orton fought himself free and nailed Kane with the banned RKO. As Orton climbed to his feet, Rollins hit him with an RKO and hurried out of the cage. JBL valiantly tried to explain that the RKO was only banned for Orton, but his explanation made little sense. It was a confusing ending to an otherwise very good match. While we will have to wait for Raw to get an explanation, I suspect that the bait-and-switch is intended to make Rollins seem obnoxiously above the law and to set up a rematch at Payback.

 

John Cena def. Rusev in a Russian Chain Match to Remain U.S. Champion

Grade: B

The opening moments of the Rusev-Cena match were more confusing than entertaining. The chain that held them together was so long that it hardly restricted either man’s movement. On top of that, there were red and green lights on the ring posts that would sometimes reset themselves when one wrestler was interrupted and would sometimes remain on for much longer stretches.

In spite of the technical complication, the phsycality was at a high level. Rusev used the chain to hang Cena over the ropes and deliver a series of kicks to Cena’s back. Cena pulled Rusev head-first into the ring post using the chain. Rusev wrapped the chain around his fist to smash Cena in the back and ribs. When Cena went for his series of shoulder tackles, Rusev caught him and hit a fallaway slam with Cena’s leg awkwardly tangled in the chain.

 

The fans started to chant for Lana and she got on the apron to acknowledge their cheers. Rusev angrily sent Lana away from the ring and she pouted as she walked up the ramp. The delay allowed Cena to recover and hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Rusev quickly recovered to hit an Alabama Slam. Before Rusev could lock in the Accolade, Cena put Rusev in the STF. The wear and tear allowed Cena to reach three corners, but Rusev recovered and put Cena in the Accolade. Cena struggled to escape and almost allowed Rusev to reach all four corners. With three lights on, Cena hit Rusev with the AA.

 

Both wrestlers touched three corners. They ran for the fourth and Cena hit the AA and reached the fourth corner. While it was a good match, the finish made absolutely no sense. Not only should each wrestler touching the corner reset the count for the other, Cena hitting the AA before touching the fourth corner clearly interrupted his progress and should have also reset the count. If not for the screwy ending, the match would have been quite good. It also leaves open the possibility of some Rusev-Lana tension. That tension will develop at next month’s Payback, where Rusev will face Cena a fourth time, this time in an I Quit Match.

 

New Day def. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro to Become Tag Team Champions

Grade: A

Everyone knew that these wrestlers had this kind of match in them, so it was very gratifying and fun to see them reach their full potential in a phenomenal tag match that was great for the division. The Chicago fans gave all of their support to the burgeoning fan favorites Kidd and Cesaro. They repaid the fans early when Kidd outwrestled Kofi Kingston and Cesaro caught Big E’s leapfrog and countered with a bodyslam. Kidd set up both New Day members on the floor and delivered a flipping suicide dive.

 

New Day turned the momentum from that point and wore Kidd down. He eventually got to Cesaro with a hot tag and he rallied with a gorilla press hot shot and a series of uppercuts. Cesaro caught Kingston’s cross-body and hit a backbreaker. He followed it with a deadlift suplex, which set up a springboard elbow drop by Kidd for a near fall. After the kick out, Big E hit a spear off of the apron. They double teamed Kidd with their spiked Big Ending finisher and Cesaro was barely able to make the save. Kidd then blocked Trouble in Paradise and turned it into a Sharpshooter, which Big E broke up with an overhead throw.

 

Cesaro tagged in and hit an uppercut and the swing into Kidd’s dropkick. When he went for the pin, Xavier Woods distracted the referee. Natalya smacked Woods, but it was too late. Kingston recovered and rolled Cesaro up with a handful of tights to get the win. It was the type of great, energetic match that makes tag team wrestling unique. The rivalry ought to continue because the cheap finish only made the fans hate New Day more.

 

Dolph Ziggler def. Sheamus in a Kiss Me Arse Match

Grade: B+

Although it’s a little different from the way Sheamus has been booked in the past, the story of the smaller Ziggler struggling with Sheamus’s size made for an entertaining match that echoed the narrative from their rivalry. Sheamus taunted Ziggler and dominated most of the match. He countered a Famouser into an impressive sit-down powerbomb. Even when Ziggler mounted a rally, he could not get Sheamus off of his feet. Sheamus put Ziggler in a Cloverleaf and only released when Ziggler turned it into a pin.

 

Ziggler stayed on the attack with a superkick. Sheamus answered with a backbreaker and a lifting powerslam, but Ziggler caught Sheamus with a roll-up to steal the pin. Sheamus appeared shocked and was in denial about the result. Ziggler milked the “arse kissing” for all it was worth. When Sheamus finally appeared ready to pay up, he instead hit Ziggler with a low blow and a Brogue Kick. With Ziggler unconscious, Sheamus rubbed Ziggler’s face into his own arse. It was a clever finish because Sheamus kept his heat, Ziggler looked very good, and the rivalry becomes even more intense moving forward.

 

Roman Reigns def. Big Show

Grade: B-

From the moment the pre-match promo started, it felt like this match sucked all of the life out of the PPV. Whether it was the story build-up, the lingering resentment at Reigns’s Wrestlemania spot, or Big Show’s presence, this set-up simply didn’t have the same fervor as the rest of the show.

The start of the match followed the story from the Reigns-Lesnar match at Wrestlemania- Big Show dominated Reigns and he continually fought back. Every time Reigns brought out a weapon, such as a table or a Kendo stick, Big Show either put it away or broke it. Reigns finally got two tables in the ring, only to eat a KO Punch from Big Show for a count of nine. Big Show tried to follow with a chokeslam through a table, but Reigns freed himself and hit a Samoan drop through the table instead. Big Show answered with a spear and the match continued to plod along.

 

Reigns threw Big Show off of the top rope and delivered a pair of Superman Punches. When he went for a spear, though, Big Show caught him by the throat and chokeslammed him through two tables on the floor. Reigns miraculously staggered to his feet at a nine count. Big Show took his time and when he tried to spear Reigns through a table, Reigns dodged and Big Show dove through a table to nearly cost himself the match. Reigns started to get a second wind and speared Big Show through the barricade to the timekeeper’s area.

 

After they both barely made it to their feet, Big Show got on top of the announce table to try a chokeslam. Reigns freed himself and speared Big Show through the Spanish announce table. Although Big Show barely made it to his feet, Reigns tipped the original announce table on top of him and stood on it to pin Big Show down and get the win. What started as a downer on a solid show turned into a surprisingly compelling, creative match. Reigns deserves credit for doing a lot with a bad situation. Ultimately, there was just too much dead time at the start of the match for the solid finish to redeem it.

 

Nikki Bella def. Naomi to Remain Divas Champion

Grade: C+

The fans were predictably confused about who to favor in the heel vs. heel match. If nothing else, they could focus on Naomi’s light-up, color-changing shoes that she apparently borrowed from an eight year-old relative.

 

When Nikki tried to escape Naomi’s bulldog, Naomi pulled her back by her hair and slammed her face first into the middle turnbuckle. She hit an inverted DDT, but missed a moonsault. Nikki hit a knee lift and Naomi answered with a Full Nelson slam for a near fall. Nikki jumped up in the corner to hit a springboard enzuigiri. While the referee dealt with Nikki, Brie kicked Naomi. Nikki followed up with a Rack Attack to get the pin. It was a decent match that was hamstrung by its lack of a fan favorite the fans could get behind.

 

Dean Ambrose def. Luke Harper in a Chicago Street Fight

Grade: B

The early part of the Ambrose-Harper match was every bit as brutal as advertised. Ambrose went to work with some extremely stiff Kendo stick shots and Harper responded by launching Ambrose head first into a chair. Ambrose hit a suicide dive and a clothesline on the floor and the fight continued back into the locker rooms. Harper jumped in a running SUV, Ambrose followed him, and they drove out of the arena while the match continued.

The SUV reappeared about a half hour later after the Tag Team Title match. Although Harper moved out of the way, Ambrose hit an elbow drop off of the top of the vehicle to New Day during their post-match interview. They brawled back toward the ring, where Harper hit a superkick and Ambrose hit a bounce-back clothesline.

 

Both men threw numerous chairs into the ring and Harper was the first to take advantage with a powerbomb onto a chair, though Ambrose managed to kick out at two. Harper piled chairs on top of Ambrose and went to the top rope, but Ambrose made it to his feet and slammed Harper onto the mess of chairs. He hit Harper with Dirty Deeds and got the pin to end his long PPV slump. It was a creative match that will hopefully set Ambrose back on track to the top of the card, where he belongs.

 

Ryback Annihilates Bo Dallas

With some extra time before the main event, Dallas and Ryback had an impromptu popcorn showdown to reset the emotional odometer before the main event. It was a perfect way to separate the Reigns-Big Show match from the main event. Dallas and Ryback got on the PPV, Ryback looked dominant, Dallas got roundly booed and also got in some good jokes.

 

Neville def. Bad News Barrett

Grade: B+

While it was not what the fans most wanted to see, Neville and Barrett made the absolute most out of a tough situation. It was only on the pre-show, and it only happened due to Daniel Bryan’s injury, but Neville got his biggest win on the main roster in impressive fashion.

 

Barrett pulled Neville off of the apron early to ground him. Neville could not turn the tide until he hit a pair of basement dropkicks and a reverse plancha. He brought Barrett back into the ring and got a near fall from a bridged German suplex. Barrett got on track with Winds of Change and then caught Neville for a Wasteland slam to get a couple of two counts. Finally, Neville ducked the Bullhammer and hit an enzuigiri. Barrett knocked Neville off the top turnbuckle to block the Red Arrow and Neville dodged another Bullhammer. He hit the Red Arrow and got the upset win to a great reaction from the crowd. Given Bryan’s unfortunate health situation, WWE has to feel lucky that Neville is connecting with so many of Bryan’s fans in his absence.