TJR Best WWE PPVs of the Decade: Extreme Rules 2012 Review

It’s December 1, 2019, which means we are in the last month of the year and also the 2010 decade. I know there are probably some people that say the decade runs from 2011 to 2020, but I don’t think that’s right. I’m sure the majority of people would say 2010 to 2019 and that’s what we’re going with here.

Since the decade is wrapping up, I’m going to be re-posting some of the best WWE PPVs of the last ten years. This version of TJRWrestling (the .net period) started in February 2015. Everything I wrote before that was on the .com site, which unfortunately we lost because I trusted somebody that ended up screwing me over and we lost everything. The good news is I was writing at other sites too, plus I have everything saved going back to around 2006 or so, which means I can re-post older stuff once in a while.

I’m posting Extreme Rules 2012 as one of the best WWE PPVs this decade. They aren’t going to be posted in any particular order. I don’t know if I’m going to post five of them or ten of them or what I might do. It’s just a way to look back on a good show. Maybe at the end of the month, I’ll post the ranking of the top 20 WWE PPVs this decade. I think there’s a very good chance that I’ll be doing that column.

Here’s Extreme Rules 2012, which is the PPV that followed WrestleMania 28 and this was built around Brock Lesnar’s return to WWE after eight years away. It was also two years before WWE Network came into our lives. What you’ll see here is the play by play, my reactions at the time, my star ratings and then I’m going to add some 2019 thoughts in blue as well. Let’s roll.

WWE Extreme Rules
Chicago, Illinois
April 29, 2012

The opening video package focused on the Cena/Lesnar match with comments from each guy telling their side of the story so to speak.

If you’re wondering, I’ve ordered it and I’m watching on WWE.com. I hooked up the HDMI cable to the TV. Good quality. The WWE.com version costs $44.99. The HD version on TV costs $54.99. Might as well save $10 right?

(The pre-WWE Network days! I like it better when it’s $9.99 per month!)

Michael Cole welcomed us to the show. The Chicago crowd sounds loud as always. It’s a packed house too. Jerry Lawler and Booker T are at ringside as well.

On the pre-show, Santino beat Miz to retain the US Title. Also, the Cody Rhodes/Big Show match is now a Tables match. I guess I didn’t miss much by skipping it.

Kane is making his entrance, so the Falls Count Anywhere match is up first. We get videos of the feud up to this point including the dreaded freezer angle from Monday’s Raw. Dreaded being awful. Huge pop for Orton on his entrance.

Falls Count Anywhere: Randy Orton vs. Kane

Predictably, they start brawling into the crowd at the beginning. Orton won that slugfest in an area of the floor where fans are close, but they can’t touch them. Orton gave him a running knee into a wall that got a two count. Kane came back with a body slam on the concrete floor. Booker: “This right here is taking it to the street.” Then he yelled “Oh my goodness” seconds later. My favorite announcer. That’s not sarcasm. The fight in the crowd continues as they climb up the stairs. They walked by a bunch of dudes in CM Punk shirts. Hey, there’s a “Macho Man Hall of Fame” sign. That would be nice, but don’t hold your breath on that one fella. (It did happen a few years later at least!) The fight goes over to the side of the entrance where Orton hits a dropkick for a two count. Kane took control and the fight went to the backstage area. Wouldn’t it be great if they went to a freezer and Paul Bearer was in there? They went to an area where WWE talent was watching the match on a TV. Zack Ryder attacked Kane, but Kane didn’t sell any of his punches. He choked him. Orton saved Ryder and hit his backbreaker for two. Kane threw Orton into doors. The camera guy fell down, so that’s fun. Match has passed ten minutes now.

Kane threw some storage box at Orton to knock him down for a two count. Kane walked Orton through the curtain, so they were at the top of the set again. There’s no ramp for this PPV. The fight made its way back to the ring. Orton was in control now with a clothesline and then a powerslam. Orton went outside the ring where he got his hands on a steel chair. He jabbed Kane in the ribs with it. He followed that up with a few chair shots to the back of Kane. The crowd is chanting “YES” for the chair shots. Fantastic. Orton cleared off the announce table, the English one no less as the announcers bust out their vintage “Orton is going to that place” line. Kane tried to fight out, but Orton got control again and hit his DDT off the table into the mat outside the ring. Huge pop for that spot. Booker: “You’ve got to be kidding me.” So he’s busted out his big two catchphrases already. Orton went for the RKO, but Kane shoved Orton into the ring post. Back in the ring, Kane went for his top rope clothesline. Orton blocked it, so Kane got crotched on the top rope. Superplex by Orton. Booker: “Randy Orton just dropped that boy.” Kane is 45, but he’s a boy according to Booker. Just so you know. Orton went for a RKO. Kane shoved him away and hit a Chokeslam for two. You know it’s a big match when you’re kicking out of finishers in an opener. Kane went for a Tombstone on a chair, but Orton slithered out. Kane walked right into the RKO on the chair. That’s enough for the Orton victory at 16:45.

Winner by pinfall: Randy Orton

Analysis: ***1/4 Strong opener. There was a lot of basic brawling in the crowd and in the backstage area, but when they got back to the ringside area for the second half of the match they told a good story. I liked the nearfalls. Spots were well done too. Orton got the decisive win that hopefully ends this feud. I didn’t think this would be the first match on the card, but it was a good choice since it was an exciting match that had the babyface going over clean in the end. Works for me.

(They worked well together. I think it was smart to put on a Falls Count Anywhere match up first because it sets the tone for the night by having more of a brawling match instead of just a regular match. The Extreme Rules concept means you have matches with stipulations, so it’s smart to start with a stipulation match. The finish worked well. Orton going over was fine because he was solidly over as a face at this point.)

Backstage, Eve was talking to John Laurinaitis. Teddy Long showed up with champagne. She wanted to make a toast to celebrate the new era. Teddy had a giant name tag that said “Hello my name is Teddy” because last week Eve suggested they have name tags. Laurinaitis had a phone call. His ring tone is some cheesy song. He answered the phone saying it was Triple H and that he could talk, but was going to go somewhere private. He left. Eve looks really hot in her Executive Administrator role.

(My last sentence there was very true. Eve always looked great.)

Back in the arena, Brodus Clay, Hornswoggle and the dancers made their entrance. Vickie Guerrero cut a promo saying Dolph Ziggler will take on Brodus Clay. Jack Swagger was at ringside too.

Brodus Clay (w/Cameron, Hornswoggle and Naomi) vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guerrero and Jack Swagger)

There was a loud “Let’s Go Ziggler” chant early. Ziggler sent Brodus to the floor. He distracted the ref, so Swagger ran over Clay with a shoulder tackle. Back in the ring, Brodus missed a running attack, Ziggler hit a kick to the knee and then the Fameasser got a two count for Ziggler. At two minutes in length, this is the longest match Clay’s had as the Funkasaurus. Ziggler slapped on a sleeper, but it didn’t last for more than ten seconds. Clay made a big comeback. Ziggler charged in, Clay gave him a headbutt to the ribs and Dolph sold it better than anybody could sell a move like that. Clay hit a big splash to win at 4:17.

Winner by pinfall: Brodus Clay

Analysis: * If you want to pick anybody to get the best match out of Clay in only four minutes then Ziggler is the best choice. They still need to use Ziggler better, but it’s obvious they think highly of Clay. Here’s hoping Ziggler gets another push up the ladder soon.

(A quick match to put over Clay. His push really didn’t go anywhere because any time they tried to push him more, the matches were just bad. Brodus Clay was mostly just a babyface short match guy. It was easy to see why WWE liked his look. I just don’t have many fond memories of his matches. Three months later, Ziggler won Money in the Bank and a year later became World Champion, so things did get better for him.)

They showed a clip from the pre-show where Teddy Long spun the wheel to determine the stipulation for the Show/Rhodes IC Title match. It landed on Tables Match. All around ringside, tables were set up by crew members.

Intercontinental Title: Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes

Show entered first to a good pop. Rhodes had a worried expression during his entrance. I wasn’t going to write every detail of the match because I assumed it would go long, but then a surprise finish happened. Big Show was standing on the apron. Rhodes gave him a dropkick. Show’s right leg went through the table. The ref saw it and Show lost the match because he went through the table. Match went 4:37.

Winner AND NEW Intercontinental Champion: Cody Rhodes

Analysis: * Show was one of the worst IC champs ever. They only put it on him so they could say that he’s won every title in the company. It would have been better if Cody’s long reign didn’t have a four week break in it, but it’s not like they care about the prestige of this title. I’m glad the title is on Cody, though. I just think it was silly that he lost the title in the first place.

Post match, Show decked Rhodes with a spear and then he gave Rhodes a Chokeslam through the table. Show looked at the table that cost him the match. Then he picked Rhodes up, gave him a Gorilla Press and put Cody through a table outside the ring. That’s a painful looking bump.

(It was a fluky win for Cody to get the title back onto him. Like I said, they just put the title on Show for a month to give him a title reign for the first time as IC Champion and then this was about getting the title back on Cody. I guess you could say it was a creative finish.)

A commercial aired for Edge’s new DVD.

Backstage, Matt Striker talked to Daniel Bryan. Loud “YES” chants from the crowd. Bryan says he gets more chicks than Sheamus, he has a manlier beard than Sheamus and his stomach isn’t weighed down by beef like Sheamus. Bryan mentioned that the crowd thinks they’re the best, but they’re really overrated and unoriginal just like Sheamus. I guess that’s their way to discourage “YES” chants. Moments later he ended the promo with “YES” and the crowd chanted along. As he left, AJ was shown looking at Bryan walk away.

They aired the video package for the Sheamus/Bryan match.

(As a reminder, their WrestleMania 28 match was the match that ended after 18 seconds when Sheamus hit Bryan with a Brogue Kick after Bryan got a good luck kiss from AJ Lee. The Bryan/Lee relationship had plenty of ups and downs in the months that followed.) 

Bryan entered first. Huge pop. Loud “yes” chants during his entire entrance. Even though he insulted the crowd in his pre-match promo they didn’t care. Sheamus comes out wearing a shirt that says “18 seconds.” I wouldn’t wear that around a chick, fella. Bryan gets cheered for the pre-match in-ring intro and Sheamus does too although it’s louder for Bryan.

(This was when Bryan was still a heel. The “yes” chant was a taunt to piss off the fans, but when I was at WrestleMania 28, the “yes” chant was more over than anything else on the show. Bryan ended up becoming a popular babyface later in 2012.)

World Heavyweight Title (2/3 Falls): Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan

The match went past the 18-second mark as Bryan avoided a Brogue Kick by crawling under the ropes. Loud “Daniel Bryan” chants that the announcers ignore of course. Sheamus got a couple of nearfalls early, but Bryan came back with the quickness and a rollup. Sheamus put him in the Texas Cloverleaf. He sat all the back on it. Great move for Sheamus to use. Perhaps backstage agent Dean Malenko taught him that one. Bryan made it to the ropes. Bryan came back with a clothesline followed by a running dropkick that sent Sheamus to the floor. Bryan attacked off the apron, but Sheamus caught him and drove him back first into the security wall. They went back into the ring and Bryan was able to gain control with an armbar. The crowd was chanting “yes” for every strike that Bryan threw whether it was a headbutt, forearm, punch or kick. Bryan got a roll-up for two. Sheamus made the big babyface comeback that included a shoulderblock and a running knee lift. Sheamus did his forearms to the chest spot while Bryan was tied up in the ropes. The crowd counted along with him. Fallaway slam got him two as we reached the ten-minute mark.

Bryan regained control as the crowd chanted “Daniel Bryan.” Bryan went for a hurricanrana off the top. Sheamus pushed him off. Sheamus hit the big shoulderblock off the top for a count of two. Cole called it the Battering Ram, so I guess that’s the official name. Bryan avoided an attack, which sent Sheamus to the floor. Sheamus blocked the dive through the ropes with a forearm to the face. Bryan got another nearfall for two. They’re doing a great job of telling a story where Sheamus uses his power to counter the great technical wrestling ability of Bryan. Another counter by Bryan as Sheamus went for an attack in the corner, but Bryan moved and Sheamus went right into the post. Bryan threw him into the post. Bryan worked on the left arm by ramming it into the post. Bryan threw a series of kicks at Sheamus’ left arm while the crowd chanted “yes” for every one of them. Sheamus was holding the ropes. Bryan didn’t stop. The ref disqualified Bryan, so the first fall went to Sheamus at 15 minutes.

Winner of Fall #1: Sheamus

Bryan was smiling as the announcers talked about how it seemed as if Bryan wanted that to happen as a strategy. He quickly attacked again and hit a dropkick to the arm of Sheamus while he was standing by the turnbuckle. Bryan applied the Yes Lock on the injured left arm. Sheamus was fighting it. He looked like he was going to pass out. Eventually, Sheamus passed out. He was in the hold for about one minute. That second fall lasted about two minutes.

Winner of Fall #2: Daniel Bryan

The doctors went into the ring to check on Sheamus. More “yes” chants and some in the crowd are chanting “no” too. That’s hilarious.

After talking to doctors for about two minutes, Sheamus decided he could still compete. As fall three started, Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick. He was slow to cover. Bryan kicked out. Fantastic. Sheamus was still selling the arm injury. Bryan attacked him with a barrage of kicks including a stiff shot right to the face. He covered for two. Great nearfall. Bryan went to the top. Sheamus tried to stop him, but Bryan gave him headbutts to knock him down. Bryan went for a top rope headbutt. Sheamus moved. Bryan went for a charge in the corner, Sheamus move and Bryan crashed. Sheamus came back with the Irish Curse Backbreaker as he grabs his left arm to sell the pain. At least he can beat his chest with his right arm. Bryan turned around. Sheamus hit him with the Brogue Kick to win the third fall after 6 minutes. The whole thing went 22:55.

Winner of Fall #3: Sheamus

Winner by pinfall: Sheamus

Analysis: ****1/4 Awesome match. This was a wonderfully booked title match featuring two guys that have developed great chemistry. They told a great story with Sheamus using his power while Bryan used his speed to get the advantage a number of times. I’m a little surprised that the finish came out of nowhere like that because I thought it was going to be built up a bit more, but it made sense for Sheamus to win with the Brogue Kick again and avoid doing moves using his injured arm. He did a good job of selling the injury during the match. If you wondered why Bryan is considered one of the best workers in the world I give you that match as evidence. It’s probably his best WWE match to date because it’s the first time he was really given a lot of time. Sheamus put on a very good showing too.

(I really enjoyed this match and remember it well. When fans think of the Sheamus/Bryan feud in 2012 the first thing they will remember is the 18-second match at WrestleMania, but they shouldn’t forget about this match. When I just re-watched it, I remembered some of the creative spots they had and why I liked it so much. This was probably one of Sheamus’ best singles matches. Bryan had others that were better, but this is still one of his best matches too. They got a lot of time at 20 minutes and told a great story with Sheamus selling the arm, yet still coming back to win. If this was a WrestleMania match, it would be remembered a lot more for being an outstanding wrestling match. Check it out if you have the time.)

A commercial aired for the WWE/Youtube partnership.

The commercial for the May 20th PPV Over The Limit featured Randy Orton. Only three weeks until that one.

(That show was headlined by John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis with JL getting the win! I highly recommend CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan on that event because it was one of the best WWE matches in 2012.)

Two jobbers were in the ring to get squashed by Ryback. Santino and Khali were watching backstage. In the ring, they got to cut a promo saying no one superstar can beat the two of them. Nice #PushMcIntyre sign in the crowd. “Two is greater than one” was the message of the promo. Ryback’s music started. He got a nice pop.

Ryback vs. Aaron Relic & Jay Hatton

Loud “Goldberg” chants for Ryback. Ryback hit a powerslam. The other guy wouldn’t tag in, so Ryback threw him into the ring. Big clothesline on jobber number two as Ryback yelled: “Finish him.” Loud “Goldberg” chants again. Ryback put them away with his finishing moves. He put one on top of the other and covered. Squash win in about two minutes.

Winner: Ryback

Analysis: 1/2* A squash match win like Ryback’s been getting on Smackdown every week. Short and sweet, which is how it should be done. The “Goldberg” chants were loud. The announcers didn’t acknowledge them of course.

(This is what they call a “come down” spot in wrestling where there’s a long match before it and you need something to give the crowd a bit of a break. That’s where this squash came in. Plus, the next match was a long one too. It’s fine to kill a few minutes on PPV with a match like this.)

Backstage, Matt Striker talked to WWE Champ CM Punk. He was happy to be home in Chicago. The crowd was popping for everything he said. Punk said he’s done playing games and would make Jericho go to sleep.

They aired the Punk/Jericho video package.

(It’s a rematch from WrestleMania where babyface Punk beat heel Jericho to retain the WWE Title. The feud continued from there leading to this Street Fight match.)

Chris Jericho entered first to mostly boos. CM Punk entered wearing a shirt that says “Drug Free” on the front and “Poison Free” on the back. He got a monstrous pop. They showed Punk’s sister sitting at ringside. Punk was wearing ripped jean shorts while Jericho had tape on his wrists. They changed their gear up because of the Street Fight rules. Loud “CM Punk” chants before the beginning of the match.

WWE Title (Chicago Street Fight): CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho

Punk attacked early, beating down Jericho with punches and elbows. Within a minute, Punk got a kendo stick and hit Jericho in the back with it. Punk did a wild swing with it, but Jericho avoided it and ran around the ring. Punk hit a clothesline in the center of the ring followed by another kendo stick shot to the back. Jericho used a thumb to the eye followed by a dropkick. I think a thumb to the eye is the best tactic in a street fight, really. He hit Punk in the ribs with a kendo stick. Springboard dropkick by Jericho as Punk lands right in front of his sister sitting at ringside. Jericho attacked him on the floor a bit. They went back into the ring and Jericho took the turnbuckle pad off the corner. Punk came back and went for the running high knee in the corner. Jericho moved, so Punk went crashing to the floor. Jericho took the padding off the security wall and threw Punk’s head into the steel right in front of his sister at ringside. Punk’s sister slapped Jericho in the face. Big pop for that. Punk saved her. He attacked Jericho with punches. Punk lost his mind, so he took the covers off the top of the announce table. He slammed Jericho through one of the announce table “hoods” as Cole called it. Jericho avoided being put through a table. He smashed the hood of the announce table over the back of Punk and he rolled him into the ring. Jericho slapped on a reverse chinlock. In a Chicago Street Fight? Ask him. Punk got out of it quickly, which is a good thing in a match like this. Punk hit a side suplex as we reach the ten minute mark.

Punk went for the springboard clothesline off the top, but he slipped and Jericho nailed him with the kendo stick to the head. Punk got a rollup for two. He grabbed the stick, but Jericho hit an enziguiri for two. Under the ring, Jericho grabbed a can of beer. He poured it on Punk’s head. I didn’t catch the brand of beer. Don’t slip on the wet spots, boys. Nice “Oh Mah Goodness” sign in the crowd. Jericho got another beer from under the ring. He drank some of it and Punk kicked him in the gut before he could attack with it. Punk used the kendo stick to attack some more. Nice jumping side kick to the face with the assistance of the kendo stick for Punk. Punk hit his running high knee/bulldog combo. Kendo stick to the crotch of Jericho. That’s not a good feeling. Jericho slipped out of the GTS, Punk slipped out of the Walls and Punk ended up getting a quick powerslam for two. Punk to the top, but Jericho got to the ropes and that crotched Punk. The WWE Champ fought off a superplex attempt with chops and that set up the Flying Elbow for a count of two. That was a good nearfall. And a “Randy Savage” chant after Punk’s top rope elbow. That’s lovely. Jericho came back, went for the Lionsault and Punk caught him. Punk was able to turn it into the Go To Sleep, but Jericho countered and threw Punk face first into a steel chair that was wedged between the ropes. It was more of the right shoulder than it was the head. Jericho hit a Codebreaker that didn’t connect that well. Jericho didn’t cover. Jericho put him in the Walls of Jericho. Punk was doing his best to fight it. He grabbed a fire extinguisher that was at ringside and he sprayed it into the eyes of Jericho to break the hold. That’s an innovative counter. Jericho rolled out to the floor. Punk hit him in the ribs with the extinguisher and then a kick to the head. Jericho was lying on the announce table. Punk went to the top rope. He lost his balance at first. He laughed about it. Top rope elbow off the top through the table. There’s your “holy shit” spot of the match. I can remember being at a show in Toronto and chanting “Spanish Table” for a spot like that. Good times.

Punk rolled Jericho back in the ring, Punk covered and Jericho kicked out at two. Punk put him in the Anaconda Vice. Jericho was able to grab the kendo stick and hit Punk in the head with it to break the hold. Loud “this is awesome” chant by the crowd. Jericho hit the Codebreaker. Punk kicked out at. Jericho went for the GTS. Punk countered with a slingshot to Jericho into the exposed turnbuckle. Punk hits the GTS for the pinfall win at 25:15.

Winner by pinfall: CM Punk

Analysis: **** This match was better than their WrestleMania match, which was a bit of a letdown in the sense that I expected it to be greater. It should be remembered as one of the better matches of the year. The chemistry was there. I didn’t think Jericho was going to win, but it would have been good to see that happen for the sake of the story continuing. I’d imagine the story is done here because this was quite the capper with Punk winning a physical brawl. Great match between two of the best. Check it out if you didn’t see it. Next opponent for Punk? I think Lord Tensai is an option. (That was a serious prediction. It ended up being Daniel Bryan, which is much better than Lord Tensai!)

(In my initial rating for this match, I gave this ****1/2 out of five, which was too high after rewatching it. It’s a good brawl that was a fitting end to this rivalry where Jericho put over Punk clean in back to back PPV matches. This was during Punk’s memorable 434 day WWE Title reign. The table spot was a big deal. It was smart to do it towards the end of the match because that’s when the crowd was their hottest. I think this feud did well to help Punk’s title reign and his popularity. Three months later, Punk turned heel.)

They aired the “don’t try this at home” commercial. What a nice spot for it after a Street Fight.

They showed a clip of Santino beating Miz from the pre-show on Youtube.

Backstage, Eve and her cleavage were walking. She saw Beth Phoenix talking to the Bella Twins with Beth selling a foot injury. Eve told Beth she can’t compete due to her injury. Beth told the Bellas that it doesn’t matter when it happens because one day, she’ll be Divas Champion again. Eve told Nikki that her opponent is going to be a surprise. Eve: “Don’t worry it’s not Kharma.”

The Bellas made their entrance. They celebrated being the Divas Champion again. I guess Nikki did. The mystery opponent is the returning…Layla.

Divas Title: Nikki Bella vs. Layla

Layla was out for most of the last year with a knee injury. She used the Michelle McCool theme song, which I guess became the Laycool song. Brie distracted Nikki so she could take advantage. Crowd isn’t that hot for Layla. They were chanting “we want Kharma” at one point. Layla hit a springboard crossbody for two. She knocked Brie off the apron. Nikki whipped Layla down by the hair. Layla got a rollup for two and then Nikki got a rollup. Nikki rolled out. Brie went into the ring. Layla hit her neckbreaker called the Layout (that Cole didn’t say) and she covered for the win at 2:45.

Winner by pinfall AND NEW Divas Champion: Layla

Analysis: 1/2* It’s good to see Layla back. The crowd didn’t pop much for her win, though. They wanted Kharma and they didn’t get her.

(A short divas match was common for a lot of these PPVs in the early 2010s. It sucks for the women, but in this case, I doubt Layla and Nikki would have had a good match anyway. Nikki got better as a worker later in the decade. Kharma was Awesome Kong in case you forgot about that angle.) 

Backstage, Matt Striker asked Laurinaitis about Triple H with Johnny saying it was business matters that didn’t concern us. Laurinaitis said Hunter would be at Raw tomorrow.

It’s 10:25pmET so with about 30 minutes of show left that means it’s time for the Lesnar/Cena video package. Main event is next.

John Cena vs Brock Lesnar Promo - Extreme Rules 2012

Brock Lesnar entered first. He got a huge pop as soon as his music hit, but once it stopped there were some boos. He was rocking the Jimmy John’s shorts, the MMA gloves on his hands and boots, so at least he’s not going at it barefoot like they do in UFC. Cena got a mixed reaction as he always does. The crowd is really loud for it.

(This was before Paul Heyman came back to WWE TV to be with Lesnar and CM Punk as well. In the build-up to this match, it was just about Lesnar and Cena. They had a great sitdown interview with Lesnar to set this up.)

Extreme Rules Match: Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena

The stips mean the finish can only be pinfall or submission. Ref is Charles Robinson. Lesnar took him down early and gave him forearms from a mounted position. Lesnar decked him with a clothesline. Cena came up bleeding. Lesnar’s forearms and elbows to the head are what cut Cena open. There were three elbows that were replayed that showed Cena getting cut. That was likely a planned spot because they know if you hit that spot you can be cut open. The doctors took a look at Cena’s cut to the head. Lesnar took him down again. The doctors tended to Cena one more time. Cena hit an elbow and went for the AA. Lesnar countered it with two German suplexes. Cena elbowed him to the head and knocked him down with a shoulderblock. The ref took a bump too. Lesnar took Cena down with a shoulder tackle. Great brawl so far and it’s only five minutes in.

They fought on the floor a bit, which was another dominant performance for Lesnar. He grabbed Cena’s left arm and rammed it into the security wall. Lesnar grabbed Cena’s chain that he brought to the ring. He put the chain between Cena’s leg. John stood up, so Lesnar knocked him down with a clothesline. Lesnar used the chain to hang Cena upside down in the turnbuckle. Lesnar hit him with a series of punches. Cena tried fighting back. Lesnar threw him into the steel steps. He grabbed the ref by the belt and threw him back into the ring. That was comical. This Lesnar/Cena match is a different kind of WWE match made to build Lesnar as a monster. Not a typical main event style match. Cena tried to get the Attitude Adjustment. Lesnar fought out of it. Lesnar hit the F5, but it knocked out Robinson. Ref Jon Cone ran into the ring to count. Cena kicked out at two because there was a delay after the move hit. Lesnar clotheslined the ref. Other officials came down to ringside. Lesnar brought in the ring steps. Lesnar put Cena in a kimura armbar while also wrapping his legs around Cena’s waist. Cena was able to pick him up a bit and dropped Brock’s back right onto the steps. Cena went to the top rope for his legdrop off the top. Lesnar moved, so Cena went crashing into the mat. Cena rolled to the floor. Cena stood up on the apron. Lesnar charged in, jumped off the steps in the middle of the ring and hit Cena with a running knee. Lesnar went flying over the top to the floor. He landed face first on the ground. It looked like a legit injury, but instead Lesnar popped right back up. He went for the spot again. This time Cena hit him in the head with the steel chain. Lesnar was bleeding. Cena picked him up and delivered the Attitude Adjustment on the steel steps. The ref counted the fall as Lesnar was lying on the steps. One…two…three. The match went 17:43.

Winner by pinfall: John Cena

Analysis: ****1/4 A violent match that felt like a big time fight, just as we hoped for going into it. It was one of the most surreal wrestling matches you will ever see. It was booked more like a fight than a traditional wrestling match, but they told the story very well. Lesnar was the dominant heel that looked like he would be tough to beat. This match did a wonderful job of building up Cena (again) as a fighting babyface. And the crowd cheered him more than you would think. The question is was it smart to have Lesnar lose in his first match back? He was billed as this unbeatable monster, yet he lost his first match. That makes him just another guy, doesn’t it? I can understand why they did it to put Cena over more as a fighting babyface hero, but does it hurt Lesnar? They are going to have to book Lesnar very strong going forward because otherwise, the loss could be damaging a bit.

(I loved this match. The crowd was amazing and so hot for everything they did. There were a lot of questions going into it about how good Lesnar was going to be in his first WWE match in eight years, but I think it’s fair Lesnar was amazing in this match. Lesnar not only looked the part as a dominant heel, but he sold well for Cena too. That one bump that Lesnar took where he flew over the top and landed on the floor was scary, yet he was able to come back from it as if nothing happened. The one thing that bothered me about the match the most was that Lesnar lost. I think it was WWE’s way of sending the message that their long-time top guy John Cena was superior to the former UFC guy Lesnar. I still this Lesnar should have won. I’m sure there are people reading this that agree with me on that one.)

After the match, Cena said he knows it’s CM Punk’s town but it’s a wrestling town. He said tonight you got an extreme show. He thanked the crowd. Mentioned “good guys and bad guys” even. Cena talked about going out for a while. He talked in a way that makes you think he’s got an injury or is simply going to take time off from being on the road so damn much. They can use the worked excuse of Lesnar injuring his arm. I’m sure we’ll hear about it tomorrow night and the rumors will be flowing on internet as I’m sure they already are.

Here’s the full John Cena speech as transcribed by a friend that makes life easier on me:

“I’m probably going to get sent home for speaking when I’m not spoken to, but I think I’m headed home anyway. And if I know my boss, he’s going to kick me out the door, but he’s going to do it on air, so I hope this is for the world to see.”

“Chicago, I know this is CM Punk’s town, but above all else, this is a wrestling town. Tonight, you people were supposed to see the extreme. I’ve got no left arm, I’m tasting my own blood… and I’m damn proud to say it was in Chicago.”

“All of us — good guys, bad guys, big guys, small guys — all of us give everything we have every night for you guys. And if I gotta take a vacation, so be it. If I’m going away for a while, I just wanna say thanks for one hell of a last ride. I feel great tonight, even with this Chicago crowd that may or may not like me. I listen to that and I think, if I’m going out, I wouldn’t want to do it any other way! Thank you guys, go home safe!”

(This promo was weird. The belief at the time was that Cena had a legit arm injury and needed time off. He ended up missing no time.)

This event has a runtime of 2:54:03 on WWE Network.

 

Five Stars of the Show

1. Daniel Bryan – Finally got a long match under his belt in WWE. More please.

2. Brock Lesnar – First WWE match in eight years. Awesome job.

3. John Cena – A great Rocky Balboa-like performance. He did very well.

4. CM Punk – Once again another classic in his hometown. The champ delivered.

5.  (tie) Chris Jericho – Best match he’s had since he returned. Hope he doesn’t leave again.

5. (tie) Sheamus – One of the best matches of his career.

 

Final Thoughts

Call it 8.5 out of 10. This PPV topped WrestleMania for me. It’s on par with Money in the Bank last year. Another Chicago classic.

(It might be a 9 out of 10 thanks to three matches around the four star level and a pretty good opener. Some of the other things on the show hurt a bit, so I’ll stick with the 8.5 out of 10.)

Heading into the show I thought the quality of the event itself would be based on the three main headline matches: Sheamus/Bryan, Punk/Jericho and Lesnar/Cena. All of them delivered the goods in my opinion.

The Sheamus/Bryan match told the story of the dominant big man babyface going up against the crafty heel that used his smarts to get the advantage whenever he could. Going in I thought for sure Sheamus would win and that ended up being the case, but they didn’t bury Bryan in any way. In fact, Bryan looked great in defeat. He weakened Sheamus, who sold the arm injury very well and fought back with the Brogue Kick for the win. Hopefully this leads to longer PPV matches on a regular basis for Bryan, who is arguably the best in-ring performer in WWE.

I thought Punk/Jericho was an outstanding brawl within the confines of a wrestling match. By that I mean they used a lot of weapons to bring up the intensity of the match while also doing a lot of counter holds to showcase their exceptional technical wrestling skills. Jericho returned in January. Four months later he didn’t win the Rumble, the Elimination Chamber or the WWE Title, yet he’s still a top guy. That’s talent. I’m guessing the feud is over, but if they want to have more matches together I’m all for it.

The Lesnar/Cena match is the one I want to see again more than anything else. This match really caught my eye because it was different than most WWE matches. It felt like a real brawl. Lesnar cut Cena with his elbow in a planned spot and it gave the match the “real” sense. Cena did an awesome job of selling everything. Some will question the Cena win, which is fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. What I’m saying is look at the performance of both guys. They did a wonderful job of telling their story in a way that made even Cena’s haters want to see him. It felt like Rocky coming back to beat Drago in Rocky IV. That’s the babyface story.

Everything else on the card was fine. I thought Orton’s win was a good way to win that feud and he can move on to a new opponent. The Rhodes win was cheap, but it got the job done in terms of getting the title off of Show. The filler stuff with Clay and Ryback didn’t excite me in any way. I guess they had ten minutes to fill huh? It’s nice to see Layla back. The crowd wanted Kharma, though. I don’t blame them.

Extreme Rules 2012 was a great success. Check it out if you missed it. It’s worth your time.

(I don’t have much to add here. If you’re wondering if the “great success” term is from the movie Borat, the answer is yes.)

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That’s all for now. I’ll be back with more WWE PPV reviews from earlier this decade throughout the month.

John Canton

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