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WWE Extreme Rules
Chicago, Illinois
April 26, 2015

I attended this year’s Extreme Rules event because I wanted to see a WWE Chicago PPV in person. Since I really don’t feel like sitting through a 3+ hour broadcast of a show I already watched, what I will do is offer up some point form notes on the highlights of the show from my live perspective. If you don’t like this format, I’m sorry. It’s a one time thing. I’m still in Chicago as I write this and I don’t feel like re-watching the whole thing. I did load up some of the show as I was writing about the matches, but I didn’t re-watch it all. I’ll still have the analysis with the star rating with the results too.

My buddy Pat and I were sitting straight across the Titantron about seven rows up from the floor. They were great seats because we could see the ring perfectly and also the screen without really turning our heads.

Here’s a shot from our viewpoint.

Kickoff Match: Bad News Barrett vs. Neville

– The crowd loved both guys because they were the first ones out, but also because they are so talented. Chicago fans really appreciate great in-ring talent and both of these guys have that.

– Neville’s athleticism is incredible in person. Best thing I can say is he makes everything look easy and that’s what you want out of a wrestler.

– There were a lot of good nearfalls and the crowd really bought into them since Barrett has so many signature spots, but he never hit the Bull Hammer elbow.

– Neville got the win with the Red Arrow. I like how they did it with the first attempt missing after Barrett tripped him up, but Neville was able to recover and that led to the finish.

Winner by pinfall: Neville

Analysis: **1/2 I felt like Barrett would win because I figure if Daniel Bryan is out then Barrett will get the IC Title again. However, in thinking about it some more the win for Neville means more because they can do this feud with Neville saying he got a win over Barrett. I do think WWE books Barrett poorly, though. He loses far too much. Neville getting his first PPV win is a big deal, so I’m glad he was put in there as the replacement for Bryan.

PPV Broadcast

– The set really wasn’t impressive. All they had was an Extreme Rules logo and a WWE logo. It’s a shame they didn’t do an elaborate set, but that’s what happens with budget cuts.

Chicago Street Fight: Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper

– Good choice for the PPV opener. The crowd loves Ambrose.

– This was pretty standard with how WWE does their weapons matches with the kendo sticks being used as well as steel chairs. The fans wanted tables, but I figured Reigns and Show would be using them later.

– It definitely upset the fans when they went brawling backstage. There were boos from the crowd as soon as they left the ringside area.

– That fight that they had with the car and then leaving together was pretty funny. I wasn’t looking at Twitter at the time, but it’s hilarious that referee Charles Robinson tweeted wondering where they went.

– Fans chanted “CM Punk” as the guys left. I assume WWE muted the chants at least as best they could.

Backstage segment with Triple H, Kane and Seth Rollins: The crowd didn’t care about this at all. There were “boring” chants, which is pretty rare for a backstage promo, but that showed that the fans really were craving for action. I was told WWE muted the boring chants. That’s no surprise.

Kiss Me Arse Match: Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler

– The story of the match was that Sheamus dominated the majority of the match, did a lot of trash talking and we assumed he was going to win the match too.

– Ziggler winning with inside cradle felt a little weak because he really didn’t hook the legs. At least it wasn’t a ROLLUP OF DEATH, right? There was one of those later.

– I was shocked that Sheamus lost. I figured he would get the win because he just came back a month ago as a heel.

Winner by pinfall: Dolph Ziggler

– Sheamus did a lot of stalling after the match. It almost felt it was longer than the match. When he hit that low blow on Ziggler followed by a Brogue Kick it drew massive heat from the crowd, so it worked. Ziggler being forced to do an unconscious “kiss” is a good way to keep the feud going.

Analysis: **1/2 It was good for the time given, which was around 10 minutes. I wasn’t sure how they would book the ending of it because I didn’t expect an ass kissing moment, so they did the predictable ending with Sheamus using cheap tactics. I hope that the feud continues and they have other matches with better stipulations because they have good chemistry as a bigger heel in Sheamus matched up with an athletic face like Ziggler.

Tag Team Titles: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro w/Natalya vs. The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) w/Xavier Woods

– That “New Day…sucks” chant was the most popular chant from the fans. We were chanting it all night long. I thought they should have done a promo before the match to rile up the crowd, but they opted not to do that.

– The crowd loved the Cesaro/Kidd even though they did nothing to turn face. It’s just an appreciation for great wrestling. Cesaro was especially loved.

– Kidd’s suicide dive attack outside the ring was perfect. That’s a spot that he can do as a babyface, but when he was a heel you didn’t see him do as many high spots.

– Natalya looked amazing at ringside. When she decked Woods with a strike to the face it drew an awesome reaction. Woods is entertaining outside the ring too.

– Kidd’s Sharpshooter felt like that was going to be the finish, so when Big E saved Kingston and the match kept going it only added to the quality of the match.

– Kingston winning the match by doing the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Cesaro was a surprise, but he did use the tights since he’s a heel. WWE wants them to be booed so the finish makes sense that way.

Winners and New Tag Team Champions: The New Day

Analysis: ***1/2 The match went about 10 minutes and was about as good as you could ask for in a match that goes that long. Once again it was a match that leaves us wanting more. It was a little disappointing that Cesaro and Kidd lost the titles because they only held them for about two months. I get why WWE did it, though. The New Day will really benefit from it. Their heel turn in the last month has worked really well and WWE wants to capitalize that by putting the gold on them. It really makes sense. These teams can feud for another two or three PPVs as well. It’s just a shame that Cesaro/Kidd couldn’t have a six month reign or something more than just two months. I like the New Day, though, so the title change doesn’t really bother me.

– I liked that The New Day got to do their promo backstage after their win. WWE needs to do that more often with champions.

Chicago Street Fight (Part 2): Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper

– They came back to the arena fighting and the crowd loved their intensity. It was cool to see them flood the ring with chairs because it let the fans know a violent finish was coming.

– Ambrose did a good job of winning in a decisive manner. He slammed Harper off the top rope leading to Harper landing on a pile of chairs in the ring and then Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds for the win.

– They only went about five minutes when they returned from fighting in the car. The match went about 56 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dean Ambrose

Analysis: ** It was one of the more unique matches in history because it’s hard to properly rate it or review it. I was informed after the show that this was Ambrose’s first win on PPV. That’s a bit of a surprise, but I’m glad he got a win. It was obvious he would get the victory. It’s okay because he needed the win.

United States Title (Russian Chain Match): John Cena vs. Rusev w/Lana

– It was my first time at WWE event in Chicago, so experiencing the Cena reaction after his intro was pretty unique. It was a combo of cheers and boos as anybody can hear, but it really was one of the loudest sounds of the night. That’s star power. Singing along with the “John Cena suuuuuucks” for his song is a lot of fun too.

– The chain looked like it was really restricting them. There were some moves that didn’t look smooth, which was expected because they likely weren’t used to using a chain in a match.

– There’s definitely less drama in the “touch the corner four times in a row for the win” compared to a regular match with pinfalls and/or submissions.

– That “We Want Lana” chant was really loud. It was a combination of the fans being bored of the match and also really interested in her actually doing something because she’s a very pretty lady. Rusev telling her to leave ringside was a great way to get some heat. It’s a classic wrestling trick. Lana seems destined for a bigger role soon.

– Give them some credit for doing a few creative spots where each man nearly got the win.

– Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment twice to get the win, so it’s not like Rusev was completely buried. The finish wasn’t that creative, though. Basic stuff.

Winner: John Cena

Analysis: ** Cena winning was one of the three biggest locks on the show. We all knew it was coming. This was the worst of their three matches. Blame the stipulations. It just wasn’t that interesting especially with the obvious outcome. I think breaking up Rusev and Lana would be a bad move since it’s a great act, but if they have bigger plans for Lana then they have to do it. Cena’s win made me think the feud was done here. As we found later, that was an incorrect thought.

– Roman Reigns did a promo about how he keeps getting back up. I thought the fans would boo when he was on the screen, but there were solid cheers for him.

Divas Title: Nikki Bella w/Brie Bella vs. Naomi

– A lot of fans left for the bathroom or refreshments as soon as this match started, but not as much as I’ve seen in other buildings for a divas match.

– It’s good to see Naomi changing things up since she turned heel. There’s a new theme song along with some bright sunglasses and boots that had some neon lights on them that were green, yellow and blue.

– The crowd was dead in the early going, but the girls worked hard and had some creative spots. I found it odd that the other titles had in-ring intros while this one did not. Way to not give the divas a chance.

– Naomi’s offense was fine, but we’re not used to seeing her as a heel. Nikki doing the face comeback was weird since she was a heel so long and is now booked like a face without doing a turn.

– After Nikki was sent outside the ring, Naomi kicked Brie even though Brie did nothing. Brie got involved in the finish with a kick to Naomi’s head while the referee wasn’t paying attention. That led to Nikki finishing with the Rack Attack for the win.

Winner by pinfall: Nikki Bella

Analysis: ** Nikki winning wasn’t a surprise. What did shock me was the finish. I thought the Bellas were faces again. Brie cheating is not a face like move, yet that’s the story they pushed. It went about seven minutes like most diva PPV matches. I’m not sure if Naomi will win the title at the next PPV or they choose to go in another direction. It might be time to bring up Charlotte to the main roster.

– We were a few sections away from the Roman Reigns entrance, so as soon as I saw that video package rolling I went into the lobby to meet up with a friend for a few minutes. I missed a few minutes of Roman’s match.

Last Man Standing: Roman Reigns vs. Big Show

– I got back to my seat when Big Show broke a kendo stick over his leg, so the early story in the match was Show preventing Reigns from using weapons.

– Big Show was dominant for the first half of the match. Most of his offense was really good and believable, but when he did that splash off the middle rope it looked terrible. Reigns had to sell it like it was a big deal and stayed down for an eight count.

– When Reigns got the momentum back by tossing Show off the top rope it reset the match and led to Reigns taking control.

– Best spot of the match was when Show gave Reigns a Chokeslam from inside the ring through the two tables that were outside the ring. Great bump by Reigns. A spot like that could end a match, but of course Reigns got back up from it. What I liked about it is that it’s not something we see very often, so it was an impressive moment. The crowd chanted “holy shit” for it because that spot deserved it. It wasn’t the whole crowd, though. Reigns got up at nine, then fell back down. Good selling by him in that instance.

– Show setting up the steps by the announce table made it obvious that’s where they were going for the finish because that kind of thing always happens. Fans chanted “JBL” because we saw him standing.

– The match went into another gear when Reigns hit Show with a Spear through the barricade at ringside. That’s not really a new spot, but it’s still impressive.

– The finish wasn’t easy to set up although it looked good. They stood on the English announce table, then we could see Show looking down to see what his fall would be like and then when Reigns speared him the crowd popped huge when Show went crashing through the table. It doesn’t matter if a spot is obvious. If it’s good the crowd is going to react to it.

– Reigns got the win after dumping the English announce table on Show. It was a copy of the finish when Alberto Del Rio won the World Title against Big Show in January 2013 in a Last Man Standing match. Show must love that spot to do it again. I don’t blame him. It worked.

Winner: Roman Reigns

Analysis: ***1/2 It was a very good match that was probably the match of the night, but the outcome was never in doubt. They’ve been feuding for the better part of four months with the purpose of using Show to put over Reigns. They did an awesome job of showing that Roman was able to keep on fighting. It’s very similar to how Cena has been built up as a top babyface for so many years as well. Reigns looked like a huge star once again, so give him credit for delivering with another big match for the third PPV in a row. Hopefully we don’t see them wrestle again any time soon. This feud is over.

– Bo Dallas was loved by the crowd when we first saw him. Ryback beating him up wasn’t a surprise. It was just a five minute segment to kill some time before the main event. It seems like that Ryback/Bray Wyatt feud will start on Monday.

WWE Title Steel Cage Match: Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton

– The RKO was banned for Orton and Kane was guardian of the gate at ringside.

– None of the pinfall attempts prior to Kane’s interference really drew a reaction because we all knew Kane was going to be involved in some way.

– That superplex by Orton to Rollins from the top of the cage was awesome to witness live just because of how high that drop was.

– Orton doing the Pedigree drew a huge reaction. I hope that carried over on the broadcast. We really didn’t know what he was going to do without a RKO, so when he busted that out it was a nice surprise that people loved. They should have had Orton go for some other finishers too. The “yes” chants that followed that were a bit weird, but I think it was the crowd’s way of telling Orton they liked that.

– Kane giving the Double Chokeslam to J&J Security was loved by the crowd. Then they hated when he gave Orton a Chokeslam and then cheered him again for taking out Rollins. It made Kane the ultimate tweener in the same match.

– Orton hitting the RKO on Kane was a nice surprise. It was banned for Orton to use on Rollins, so that was a creative spot. Then Rollins capitalized on that by hitting Orton with a RKO. Rollins crawled out of the cage to escape with the WWE Title.

Winner by escaping the cage: Seth Rollins

Analysis: **3/4 The winner was no surprise. It was just a matter of how and we knew Kane was likely going to be the difference maker in the end too. What hurt the match was that they just didn’t have a lot of near finishes that the crowd bought into. Once Kane got involved that’s when it started. The work by Rollins and Orton was fine, but they had a better match at WrestleMania and on Raw last November as well. WWE needs to stop doing cage matches if they only want to book them with interference. It has ruined the cage match as an attraction. Nearly every cage match has interference, so whenever people see that a cage match is announced they know what’s coming.

– After the show was over, everybody just walked to the back on their own with Orton’s playing. I thought Orton should have hit Kane with a Chokeslam to please the fans, but that didn’t happen.

– When we were leaving the show, the most popular chant was “New Day…sucks” it seemed. It’s fun to chant it and people laugh while they do it too. We need more of that in wrestling. It’s supposed to be fun after all.

 

Five Stars of the Show

1. Roman Reigns – Third straight PPV with the best match. He’s doing something right.

2. Big Show – The veteran big man was entertaining all night long.

3. Tyson Kidd/Cesaro – Former tag champs were on fire despite the loss.

4. The New Day – The gimmick is working.

5. Dean Ambrose – Nice to see a PPV singles win for him finally.

I count teams as stars apparently.

 

Final Thoughts

It gets a 6 out of 10 from me.

I would have liked a better show for my first WWE event in Chicago, but there just weren’t enough strong matches to carry the three hour broadcast. I’m not sure if that 6/10 is high from me since I was there. I just thought the work by the performers was pretty good all night long. Nothing on the show was that bad.

The three biggest matches all had very predictable winners with Rollins, Rusev and Cena all finding ways to get the job done. That hurts the show a bit because people like unpredictability and to be surprised.

If you missed the show, I’d recommend the tag title match because it was really good and Reigns/Show was a fun brawl for the most part. Everything else was pretty average.

It was a fun experience for me to be a part of that Chicago crowd. I hope to be a part of it again some day down the road.

 

2015 PPV Rankings

WrestleMania – 8/10

Extreme Rules – 6/10

Fastlane – 5/10

Royal Rumble 4/10

It’s been a below average year for PPVs so far. By the end of the year, let’s hope there are about six PPVs in the 7/10 range.

———

Check out my feature column archive that’s exclusive to WhatCulture.

This week’s Raw Deal won’t be live at TJRWrestling.net, but should get posted on Tuesday so check it out. Have a great week.

John Canton – mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling.com on Facebook

 

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