Tuesday, 28 April 2015

TV Review: WWE Extreme Rules

It's gimmick match overload time again, but this time it's of the WWE variety as we take a look back at Extreme Rules, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Box Office here in Britain.

The show began with the Chicago street fight as Dean Ambrose faced Luke Harper.

Now this was kind of fun. It began when Ambrose greeted Harper as he made his entrance, taking him out with a dive out of the ring. A brief ringside brawl followed before they actually made it into the ring so the match could begin properly.

After the bell rang these two proceeded to beat the hell out of each other with anything they could get their hands on, although that was mainly kendo sticks and chairs. It was at this point that Harper took his man down with a particularly brutal suplex onto a chair.

As the match went on both men got in their fare share of good licks, but it wasn't long before the action spilled outside the ring again, and this time they went a little further as they battled backstage, again hitting each other with anything that was to hand.

A few moments later Harper staggered into a parked car, intent on fleeing the scene of the crime. Ambrose tried to stop him at first, but just as Harper was about to drive off Ambrose managed to dive through the front passenger's window, leaving everyone wondering what had happened as the car screeched away.

So with the street fight apparently still in progress it was on to the kiss me arse match between Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus.

You know, this is probably the only time you were going to hear the word arse repeated continually over a ten minute period. It was probably the only time you were asked to help make that particular word a worldwide trend on Twitter.

Anyway, despite my amusement at our esteemed commentators constantly saying a word that reminded me of the heyday of Father Ted I thought this one was very entertaining. Sheamus looked really impressive, despite that daft haircut of his. Personally I think it makes him look a bit of an arse, but it didn't stop him from pulling off a great array of power-based moves, especially that suplex thing he did when he lifted Ziggler up in the normal way but just threw him forward onto the mat.

Ziggler, for his part, put in another solid performance, and these two ingredients made this match what it was as we were treated to plenty of back and forth action with some nice moves from both men, with the end coming without the aid of a brogue kick or a fame-asser. When Sheamus lifted Ziggler up for another suplex the show-off countered, rolling the Irishman up for the winning pin.

Needless to say that Sheamus was none too happy with the result, and after much protestation he finally got down on his knees as Ziggler prepared himself. But instead of puckering him Sheamus decked him with a low blow, finishing him off with a brogue kick. He then rubbed salt into Ziggler's wounds by rubbing his head into his lily white backside.

Oh, and seeing as how Cole et al said arse a lot, do you think we could get them to pay tribute to Father Jack by saying feck and girls as well?

The first title match of the evening saw the New Day's Big E and Kofi Kingston challenging Tyson Kidd and Cesaro for the Tag Team titles.

This match had all the ingredients that makes a good tag team match great. You had two teams whose partners complimented each other extremely well and who had a great chemistry against each other, you had some outstanding sequences throughout as all four men showed us their wares, and you had the sort of finish that had people screaming out for a re-match.

All four men put in great performances. The early exchanges between Kidd and Kingston were the perfect set up for the battle of the power between Cesaro and Biggie, and as the match went on and the action level was turned up to eleven it got even better, especially when they kicked it into overdrive.

Eventually we got to see Kingston fall to Cesaro's big swing, and this particular sequence brought back fond memories of the Kings of Wrestling's heyday in Ring of Honor when Kidd dropkicked Kingston in the head as he went round. Okay, it wasn't as crisp as when Chris Hero did it, but it was still good nonetheless.

The end came a few moments later, following a brief altercation between the lovely Natalya and Xavier Woods and a bodies flying everywhere moment, and after Cesaro sent Biggie over the top rope with a clothesline Kingston rolled the Swiss Superman up from behind and took the title-winning pin with a handful of tights.

Then, a few moments later as the new champions were being interviewed backstage Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper returned to the arena as their continued their Chicago street fight. Biggie and the boys didn't have much time to celebrate when Ambrose dived off the top of his car onto them before following Harper back into the arena.

Once there they soon made it back into the ring, closely followed by a referee. Both men then tossed a load of chairs into the ring, bringing back memories of a certain ECW moment. Harper quickly took the upper hand, but after his powerbomb onto a chair failed to get the win he piled a load of chairs onto Ambrose and climbed to the top rope.

The lunatic fringe was having none of this though, and after getting back to his feet he took the big man down with a Flair bump onto the pile of chairs before sealing the deal with his dirty deeds DDT for the winning pin.

The good old fashioned Russian chain match followed as Rusev challenged John Cena for the United States title.

I have to admit that I've never really been a fan of chain/rope/whatever matches where to win you have to touch all four corners. The end of these matches has always been a bit of an anti-climax to me. It's certainly not as thrilling as seeing a knockout blow of a hard-fought submission.

The action in this one can't be faulted though. Both Cena and Rusev put in their usual solid performances, but I couldn't help but feel that despite the introduction of the chain we've kind of seen this all before, at Fastlane, then at Wrestlemania, and now here.

The only major difference came when the lovely Lana began to get a good response from the crowd, especially when she stood on the ring apron and acknowledged their presence. This didn't sit too well with the big Bulgarian who promptly sent her to the back.

The end came when, with both men having touched three corners each Cena took Rusev down with the attitude adjuster so he could touch the final corner and retain the title.

The championship action continued with Naomi challenging Nikki Bella for the Divas title.

Now this wasn't too bad, even though I found myself constantly looking at Naomi's footwear, wondering what colour they'd turn into next.

Both champion and challenger acquitted themselves quite well here. There were some nice sequences throughout, and despite having earned her shot by taking out the previous number one contender Naomi looked like she deserved to be there.

The end came when sister Brie got a little payback. Earlier in the match Naomi had kicked Brie in the head when she tried to help her sister at ringside. A few moments later, while the referee was distracted, Brie returned the favour by kicking Naomi in the skull. Nikki then finished her off with the rack attack for the title-retaining pin.

The penultimate match saw the Big Show taking on Roman Reigns in a last man standing match.

I heard there was a bit of criticism about this one, it was too long, it was too drawn out, etc, but for me it was pretty good, even if the ending was something we'd seen before.

It was a good old fashioned slobber knocker with a well played out storyline and good performances from those concerned. Reigns picked up where he'd left off at Wrestlemania by once again showing that he was one tough so and so. He certainly gave as good as he got and kept coming back for more.

For me the interesting thing about this match was Show's early tactics. Whenever Reigns tried to bring a weapon into the match Show ended up wrecking it, shouting that he didn't need a weapon because he was a giant. That would probably have been the case against any other opponent, but against Reigns it wasn't, and he soon found himself changing his tactics a little.

Which led us to a few holy you know what moments involving a few tables, the first of which saw Reigns put Show down with a Samoan drop through the wood. A few moments later Show chokeslammed his man over the top rope and through two tables at ringside, and a short time after that he tried to mock his opponent, only for Reigns to move out of the way as he crashed and burned through a table in the corner.

They saved the best for last though. It was originally the big man's intention to put Reigns through the main announcer's table, but things didn't entire go to plan, especially when Reigns ran across that table and put Show through their neighbour's furniture with a spear. He then lifted up the main table and dumped it on the big guy, standing on the upturned bit of wood as the referee made his count. There was nowhere for Show to go as the official reached the count of ten, giving Reigns the win.

After an appearance from the ever annoying Bo Dallas (thank you Ryback for taking the annoying git out) it was on to the main event. With Kane as the gatekeeper and with the RKO banned Randy Orton challenged Seth Rollins for the WWE World title in a cage match.

As far as main event matches go this proved to be quite an entertaining affair with an interesting storyline and an ending that probably left a few people scratching their heads a little. It also took a while to get going, but that may have been due in part from the hangover effect of the Reigns/Show match.

Rollins played the part of the cowardly champion well early on, particularly when Orton tried to throw him into the cage and he countered by doing his best Peter Parker impression and turned these moves into escape attempts. Things started to warm up as the match went on, but no matter what happened everyone probably kept wondering when the former Big Red Machine would come into play.

Kane didn't really play his part until quite late on in the match when he warned off the new stooges when they wanted to get in the cage. A few moments later he refused to open the door for Orton, and a few moments after that he was sent flying when Rollins went to dropkick Orton but ended up connecting with the door, sending it smashing into Kane's head.

Which lead us to the obligatory smashing the door into the combatant's head moment when Kane swung the door into the heads of both of those inside. Hey, it wouldn't be a steel cage match if we didn't have that spot, would it?

It wasn't long before we reached the all hell breaking loose segment. Kane and the new stooges soon made their way into the cage, and when Mercury and Noble urged the big man on he took them both out with a chokeslam at the same time. But just when it looked like he was going to do the same to Rollins he took out Orton with another chokeslam, much to the disappointment of everyone in attendance.

Kane then appeased the fans a little by finally taking out Rollins with a chokeslam, before confusing them again by draping the champion's arm over the challenger's body. That didn't quite get the job done, and when Kane went to take Orton down with a tombstone Orton countered with an RKO, with the ban obviously not counting there because Kane wasn't meant to be a part of the match.

Then, from out of nowhere, Rollins came back and took Orton out with his own RKO. The champion then crawled out of the cage to retain his title, leaving many wondering why he'd been allowed to use the RKO if that move had been banned.

In conclusion - the morning after the show I'd read quite a few comments about this show. Most of them said that it wasn't really up to much and it was quite disappointing. Sorry guys, but I find myself disagreeing with the general consensus once again, because I found Extreme Rules to be quite entertaining.

As the old saying goes every match delivered in it's own way, and it definitely was a lot better than TNA's recent gimmick match-laden offering. These matches had a bit more spark, a bit more fire in them compared to the damp squid of an offering that was Hardcore Justice.

As for my prestigious match of the night no-prize I'm going for the New Day vs. Cesaro/Kidd Tag Team title match. It may have lasted a shade under ten minutes but they certainly packed in a lot during that time. It's just a shame that we don't get to see quality tag matches like that more often these days.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give this year's Extreme Rules a thumbs up.