April 27, 2015 by Joey Keogh
The first PPV following the biggest show of the year is going to have a difficult time making its mark as it is, but even so the card for Extreme Rules 2015 is particularly dreadful – especially considering last year’s boasted at least one memorable match. Speaking of which, the news broke on Twitter a bit earlier today that Daniel Bryan would officially not be competing for the intercontinental title in Chicago, giving NXT star and recent main roster recruit Neville the opportunity to show off what he can do opposite Bad News Barrett…on the pre-show. The kick-off panel, chaired by the reliably great Renee Young, are predictably boring and safe during their near one-hour of allotted chatter time. Byron Saxton seems in awe of Booker T, as always, while Book himself hams it up for the crowd whenever they turn their attention to him (which is a lot), and the insufferable Corey Graves wears a bow-tie and glasses in an effort to be taken seriously. The highlight comes when Dean Ambrose storms the board, demands Saxton’s spot at the table and then raves like a lunatic for about five minutes straight in spite of not having a functioning mic. Young tries to keep a straight face throughout and it’s adorable because she’s clearly very proud (who wouldn’t be?). The match itself, on the other hand, kicks off the kick-off, so to speak, with an opening promo from Barrett, during which he delivers the bad news that Bryan won’t be appearing tonight, before some great back and forth between the two ensues, with a load of kicks and jabs and the spot-making Red Arrow, after which Neville goes over. Considering what follows, it’s one of the most even-handed and well-played bouts of the night (and it’s only about ten minutes long).
Chicago Street Fight: Dean Ambrose Vs. Luke Harper
These two were always going to open the show, regardless of whether Bryan would be appearing or not, but it’s still kind of sad in a way. They may still be technically mid-carders but they’re also fierce, furious and frenetic in the ring and they deserve proper opportunities, not just bullshit, cringe-inducing pain-related stuff. Regardless, Harper doesn’t even make it to the ring before Ambrose attacks and no sooner has a lame joke been made about items one can readily discover on the streets of Chicago than a Kendo stick and a load of chairs have been produced from under the ring. The crowd are totally behind Ambrose and his loony bin antics, particularly when he sets up a chair, takes a minute to rest in it and then sets Harper up for a Suplex through it only to eat one himself. The fight, somewhat predictably, spills into the backstage area (presumably Ambrose knows where Harper is headed this time around, unlike on RAW) as Harper tries to make his getaway in an unattended SUV and Ambrose, never one to be bested, leaps in the window as he speeds off into the night. Naitch, bless his heart, stands there shaking his fist after them, unable to do anything besides wait for the match to continue on a bit later.
Backstage, Trips is texting on his phone and it only takes the sight of him standing there performing this simple task for Chicago to boo the fuck out of him. Kane and Rollins soon show up to continue their “Daddy likes me best” shtick and everyone “bor-ing”s the hell out of it. Well, that’s what you get for offering a PPV for free: an average RAW masquerading as something more important.
Kiss Me Arse Match: Sheamus Vs. Dolph Ziggler
It’s twenty years ago! My time machine works! Jojo struggles with saying “me” instead of “my” as she introduces this match, but she manages to get through the line regardless (which is more than can be said for Cole, who’s had way more practice at this stage). Chicago loves Ziggler (obvs) but Sheamo still dominates this match from the get-go (obvs). He yells indecipherable bullshit throughout like “arse” and “kiss”. Who knows what he’s on about half the time? He has beads in his beard. Ziggler wins it anyway, but then Sheamo refuses to kiss his butt, starting a too-long tease during which he slides down his pants and wiggles a bit as the wannabe Cú Chulainn looks increasingly uncomfortable. After trying, and failing, to flee several times Sheamus eventually gives in and bows down to Ziggler, only to turn around and deck him instead. He then grabs a mic, says some Celtic bollocks, pulls his tights aside to reveal the tiniest sliver of prime Irish beef and then rubs Ziggler’s face into his ass. This is wrestling.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Tag Team Championship Match: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro Vs. The New Day
Kidd and Cesaro get a massive pop as they enter, with The New Day still confused over the hatred towards them. Xavier Woods isn’t involved in the match so spends most of his time on the outside hamming it up for the fans, to mostly hilarious effect. Kidd and Cesaro are a well-oiled machine at this stage and they take control easily, stranding E in the corner and kicking him in time with the “New Day sucks” chants. After the challengers manage some offence, Woods turns his attention to the crowd, confused by their hostility as he demands to know; “What did we do!? We’re winning!” Cesaro swings Kingston and Superplexes him, but he later gets knocked out by E after he spears Kidd through the ropes. Kidd locks Kingston into the Sharpshooter but E breaks it up with a Belly 2 Belly that Cole decides is a simple throw. Cesaro swings Kingston as Woods attempts to intervene, just like he did on RAW, and gets slapped by Nattie as a result, leaving the way open for Kingston to grab Cesaro‘s tights and roll him up to win.
Winners: The New Day (new champs)
Backstage, the winners do a quick interview with Renee (with Woods still holding his cheek, of course), only to be interrupted by the return of Harper and Ambrose who Woods enthusiastically informs “You’re still getting beat up!” Ambrose leaps off the top of the car to tackle Harper and the action quickly spills back into the arena. Once they’re in the ring again, Ambrose clotheslines Harper and an ECW chant ensues as chairs are piled up in the centre. Harper powerbombs Ambrose through a bunch of them and then can’t quite believe it when he kicks out. Burying him under loads more, he goes to the top rope to line up his next move only for Ambrose to power out and pull him into the pile instead. He finally hits the Dirty Deeds to win. Although this was a fun little distraction, it didn’t quite last long enough for my liking. When they first disappeared we all collectively assumed, or hoped, rather, that we’d continue cutting back to them all night before a final confrontation set up the Main Event in style. Unfortunately, the powers that be still can’t trust mid-carders to deliver the goods, even when they’ve proven time and time again that they’ve got what it takes to do so.
US Championship Russian Chain Match: John Cena Vs. Rusev
A unanimous “John Cena sucks” chant echoes throughout the arena as the man himself yells things only the cameraman closest to him can hear. I don’t know quite what any of us were expecting with this match but suffice to say that it (and the subsequent news that it will be happening again, just under a slightly different guise, in less than a month at Payback) was even more of a disappointment than we imagined it would be. If that’s even possible. The cuffs for the chains have little flags on them for some reason, driving home the point that this feud is all about xenophobia. Cole reiterates the rules over and over and over even though they’re not particularly complex. Rusev Superplexes Cena, for instance, and he immediately yells “that doesn’t count!” like an over-excited child pointing out something his classmate has got wrong. If only Rusev could win by pulling Cena’s arm off – now that I would watch. Lana hops up on the apron to bask in the crowd’s adulation, Mizdow-style, only to be admonished and banished for her supposed insolence. Cena later powers out of the Accolade because these two are still focusing on pin-falls and submissions even though this is a goddamn chains match. And he wins with the AA because of course he does. But then finally, finally, finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for arrives as the American flag, not the Russian one, drops over the ring. Oh, what a time to be alive.
Winner: John Cena (retaining)
Divas Championship Match: Nikki Bella Vs. Naomi
As though to rub it in that our favourite won’t be appearing tonight, the moment during which Naomi took out Paige is replayed about fifty million times before the women’s match actually takes place. There’s no reaction whatsoever to the Bellas’ entrance, in spite of Brie’s hat (the true heel of the match) but Naomi has her own entrance music for the first time ever, along with some rad light-up sneakers, so she proves popular. At least for a bit, anyway. She hits a cool Suplex early on, and there’s a succession of clotheslines, followed by a gnarly dropkick, subsequently by Nikki but the action is overshadowed slightly by Brie’s constant, ear-piercing screeching. Naomi hangs on to the bottom rope until she gets pushed off by the meddling Bella, which naturally gives Nikki the opportunity to hit the Rack Attack for the win.
Winner: Nikki Bella (retaining)
Backstage again (because this is essentially RAW), Rusev is yelling things at Lana in Russian. She then approaches a door marked ominously with a Game Of Thrones–esque crest and two words: The Authority. Chicago gives this moment a big ol’ sitcom “oooooooh” for good measure.
Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns Vs. Big Show
Twitter blew up immediately following this match, with most fans creaming their pants over how great it supposedly was. Perhaps my signal was scrambled because what I watched was absolute garbage; a spot-heavy, sloppy, uninvolving and ultimately meaningless bout the only purpose of which was to further this idea of Reigns as the new Superman of the WWE. Speaking of Reigns, the new silver inserts on his gear look like fucking tin-foil. Anyway, there are loads of tables and chairs involved in this match, and Reigns allows the ref to count all the way to eight before getting up at one stage, because, once again, this is all about him being STRONG. For example, Show chucks him out and through, like, fifty tables but instead of selling like a good little boy, Reigns immediately hops back up to continue fighting. The action quickly turns to the announce table once all other props have been exhausted, the commentators scattering as they bicker about who wrote in their notepad that Show needed to lose weight (full disclosure: I can’t read my notes from tonight, so it might have been me). Reigns then spears Show through the barricade in a spot we’ve seen a million times over that isn’t getting more exciting despite what the writers seem to think. Then, after some teasing about who’s going to get up (spoiler: both of them), Show sets Reigns up on top of the announce table only for him to counter and spear him on it/through it instead. He lifts the massive (hollow, reinforced plastic) table up off the floor and buries Show – who sits down, of his own accord – under it and then stands on top for a ten count which, again, is kind of a heel move for such a massive face.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Maybe the PPV can be saved by the Main Event? Huh? Well, before we get to that, there’s some time to fill so here’s Bo Dallas to call Chicago smelly and get his ass beat by Ryback. He also seems to be taking facial grooming tips from Ming The Merciless. Rusev and Lana also show up to confirm an “I Quit” match with Cena at the next PPV. Yay?
Main Event: World Heavyweight Championship Steel Cage Match: Seth Rollins Vs. Randy Orton
The crowd boos like crazy when the whole RKO being banned stipulation is announced and Kane, who ambles down the ramp like he’s walking to his death, is so over being the fucking gatekeeper he might as well be pulling up a lawn chair and flipping through Muscle & Fitness while the match happens around him. There are three ways to win this match; by pin-fall, submission or escape which, all things considered, renders the whole thing kind of pointless. Chicago fucking loves Rollins, even as he plays the chicken shit heel and immediately tries to go for the quick escape. Orton consistently forces him to stick to the mat, repeatedly chucking him into the sides as Rollins slows the action down more and more, simultaneously yelling at Kane about how he did it all himself and doesn’t need anyone’s help. He manages to make it all the way over the top of the cage at one stage, with Noble and Mercury loyally waiting on the ground to cushion his landing, but Orton grabs him by the hair, pulls him back in and Superplexes him off the top rope (Cole is pretty sure it’s the top of the cage, mind). He later hits the Pedigree for a crazy near fall, with Rollins gurning for the camera in the aftermath. Orton lines up the punt but Rollins rolls out of the way and roundhouse kicks him. He crawls towards the door but Orton drags him back into a backbreaker as Kane closes it in his face. Rollins then accidentally kicks him and gets the door slammed in his face for his trouble. Unable to take it anymore, Kane enters the fray, Noble and Mercury hot on his heels, and choke-slams the security team for getting in his way before rounding on Rollins and Orton. Finally, after much deliberation, he chokeslams Orton but, as Rollins tries to escape, he chokeslams him too. However, he drapes his body over Orton’s so he can take the win, but Orton kicks, before RKOing Kane. Rollins, seizing the opportunity, then hits the supposedly banned move on Orton, crawls to safety and wins.
Winner: Seth Rollins (retaining)
Not a terrible end to a PPV, but not a particularly memorable one either. In general, Extreme Rules 2015 felt like an average episode of RAW than a proper event, with all of the backstage promos and retaining of championships and spot-heavy bullshit matches. There were fans who went nuts for it, and more power to them, but, at the risk of seeming ungrateful or jaded or bitter, it just didn’t seem worthy of our time. Even comparing it to last year’s event, which wasn’t life-changing by any stretch of the imagination but still delivered when it came to our collective favourites, Extreme Rules was pretty disappointing. Obviously, this is a nothing PPV and that was none more evident than when the commentators started selling Payback to us mid-show, but even so it would’ve been nice to take away something from it. It was cool to see Neville getting his shot, even if it was during the kick-off, and there were some cool moments during the short-lived Ambrose/Harper bout (the only truly “extreme” match of the night), while Rollins and Orton were as much fun as we’d anticipated they would be, and the tag bout was lively and entertaining in its comparatively short time slot. Maybe it’s just all starting to wear a bit thin, but this PPV lacked what most of them need to make a real mark on us; surprises, and it probably won’t stand the test of time even if it did divert our attention for the most part.