– You can watch Extreme Rules 2015 on WWE Network here.
– If you’d like to read previous years’ Best and Worst of Extreme Rules reports, you can do so on the tag page.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Extreme Rules 2015.
Best/Worst: I’m Afraid I’ve Got Some Grav News
The Slash Worst comes for the pre-match announcement that Daniel Bryan’s bones are made of balsa wood held together with paper clips and he isn’t medically cleared to compete. By “isn’t medically cleared” they mean “he has to use Sunday night to work on his Edge retirement speech for Raw.”
The good news is that they replace him with Neville, which (hot take) is probably an upgrade. The match Neville and Barrett have is good, and probably better than whatever Barrett and Bryan would’ve come up with. I think Bryan is naturally the best wrestler in the world, but if he’s got that Jumbo Tsuruta “whoops, I’m suddenly dying” vibe going on and can’t take a bump without clutching his neck with both hands and terrifying us, I’d rather him sit it out. That sounds kind of weirdly entitled when it isn’t supposed to. It’s not that he can’t perform “up to my level” or whatever, I just don’t want the dude to die in front of me. I don’t want Barrett to hit Wasteland and the crowd go silent as we watch Bryan’s head roll off and fall out of the ring.
Anyway, the funniest part of this is that Barrett loses. His legacy as Intercontinental Champion was “the guy who loses all the time.” They rebuild him for a title shot by having him lose a bunch of matches, then have him lose to the REPLACEMENT OPPONENT in a non-title pre-show thing. If I was Wade Barrett I’d be sending out Princess Leia holograms to every other wrestling promotion in the world.
Worst: Being Cute At The Expense Of A Match
So, the show formally opens with Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper in a Chicago Street Fight, which I’m not sure you can sanction without one or more of the competitors being from Chicago. I think Lex Luger and the Road Warriors yelled about that back in ’96.
Anyway, the match itself is a lot of fun but suffers because of a wacky intermission. Harper and Ambrose fight to the back and, in an attempt to be super cute, brawl into the driver and passenger seat of a car. They drive off with Cole screaming about how the parking lot lets people drive to THE STREET, and that’s it. They disappear. They return in the middle of a backstage interview about half an hour later and finish the match.
This is one of those things that sounds good when you’re tired and laughing about how you should book a match, but not something you should actually DO. First of all, it kills any momentum the match was building and 100% negate everything they did before they got in the car. Wrestling fans at a live show are trained to see a wrestler and respond to him, and know that the next 5-20 minutes or whatever is their time with them. That’s the time you have to work with. If you have them disappear after a few minutes and return half an hour later, nobody’s going to care. The time has been compromised and they’ve moved on to something else. It’s human nature. It’s how the wrestling fan brain works. It’s why you don’t announce big stars for your show and have them wrestle meaningless pre-show matches to open.
Second of all, it just doesn’t make any goddamn sense. If Harper was trying to escape Ambrose, why’d he drive off with Ambrose in the car? Wouldn’t he try to drive off, see Ambrose jump in the passenger’s side window and hit the brakes? And okay, say that’s just a thing that happened and they drove off. Why would they drive BACK? Why would they drive back into the same arena back entrance? How’d they get through security? Did they just crash through the gate? Is that Harper’s car? Does he have a toll tag or something that gets him into events?
My favorite theory is that they drove off fighting but calmed down, and went out for hot dogs. They decided cooler heads had prevailed and drove back to the arena and checked in normally, but Ambrose spilled mustard in Harper’s car or something as they were parking and things got out of hand again. We just missed the eye of the storm.
Best: Dean Ambrose, Though
Ambrose looked GREAT in this match. When did he get so fast? I don’t know if he’s just Crossfit obsessed and it’s turning him into Seth Rollins or what, but dude was BOOKING it into the ropes. I really hope this match was the first step in WWE refocusing their energies on Ambrose and making him a bigger star, because I’d hate to see him get stuck in Dolph Ziggler “good hand” purgatory for the rest of his life.
Worst: Luke Harper’s Big Plan
“gon jemp off onna these here chairs, one sec, lemme get up to ther top rope”
*Ambrose recovers, throws Harper onto chairs*
“AAAHHH WHAT HAPPENT, I JEMPT OFF ONTO THEM CHAIRS WITHOUT M’LEGS, THIS HURTS SO MUCH WORSE”
Did I just take 30 Ambien or are we seriously devoting 5 minutes of a “pay-per-view” about crazy violence to Triple H telling Seth Rollins and Kane to get along?
Worst: This Sucks Arse
It’s time to have a frank discussion about butts in wrestling.
Ziggler defeats Sheamus in a disappointingly by-the-numbers thing, and per the pre-match stipulation, Sheamus is contractually required to “kiss he arse.” The announce team builds it up like he’ll have to tongue his sweaty asshole or whatever, but that’s not the case. It’s never been. You have to kiss a person’s buttcheek.
Biologically, kissing a person’s butt is like kissing their elbow. It’s degrading because of what it means — you lost, and you’re submissive I guess — but it’s not “gross.” The middle of the right buttcheek is not where poop comes out.
Socially, you’re a pro wrestler. Your face and mouth are next to/on buttholes ALL THE TIME. It’s a hazard of the job. When you give a guy a schoolboy rollup, you’re gently resting your cheek on his balls and pointing your nose and mouth at his ass. When you powerbomb somebody, their package is basically in your mouth. What do you think a piledriver’s doing? What do you think a TOMBSTONE piledriver’s doing? Every time you scoop slam somebody you’re using their nuts and entire buttcrack as a fulcrum on your inner elbow. A press slam is blatantly your hand cupping their entire junk, unless you do the weird one where you grab the trunks and make a front wedgie. Even then, you are intimate with another man’s privates.
So just f*cking deal with it, you know? It’s a butt. Unless you are five, socially crippled or Vince McMahon, a butt kissing stipulation is a dumb happenstance of life. If it becomes “open your mouth and stick our your tongue while I do a bare-assed stinkface,” then maybe act like your life is over.
The worst part is that you knew from the second they announced it how it’d end. No matter who lost, their response would be a punch to the balls and nobody making them do it. That’s what I loved about the Enzo/Big Cass/Legionnaires hair vs. hair thing on NXT. The heels tried to get away, so the faces just chased them around and made them live up to the stip. Sheamus should have security on him Monday night forcing him to kiss Ziggler’s ass, or he’s in breach of contract. WWE’s the only place you can agree to something, say “no I’m not gonna do it” and have everybody be fine with it. Well, that, and being the more attractive half of a game of truth or dare.
Worst: Mountain Dew Presents These Jerks
The commentary team is the worst, and listening to any 30 seconds of Extreme Rules will confirm it. I just wish Sheamus vs. Ziggler had been called a “Do The Dew” match. It works if you think about it.
Best: I Am Pretty Into The Damn New Day
For my money, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, the best match of the night was the tag team championship match between The New Day and Team Hoodies I Guess I Don’t Know We Forgot They Existed. Those guys need a better team name.
There’s something beautiful and fun about The New Day’s heel turn, because they don’t really seem like they WANT to be heels. They want to be beloved, but then they get frustrated and cheating occurs. Xavier Woods has found his niche as a comically-excited situational evil-doer, and I can’t think of a better inconsequential wrestling moment this year than Cesaro and Kidd stomping to the beat of “New, Day sucks.”
Teaming Kofi with Big E is one of the best decisions they’ve made in a while, because it gives Kofi and instant personality and hides his flaws. Plus, being pseudo-heel allows him to still have his offense, but temper it. It’s not just mindless jumping anymore. Big E is great at what he does but never seems like he’s taking anything as seriously as he should, so putting him in a team with an exaggerated response to everything gives him a perfect role to play. All they needed was this little tweak, and the realization that The New Day idea was dumb as bricks on arrival. Just keep Woods out of the ring, and don’t Freebird those tag titles.
Worst: Adding A Bunch Of Stuff To Disguise The Fact That You’re Running A Wrestling Promotion But Can’t Depict People Hurting Each Other
If you want to skip this section, the short version is, “WWE is not a show for the kind of wrestling fan I am.”
So you’ve decided to advertise a Russian chain match. You build it by having Rusev attack Cena with a chain, punching him with it and making him make Ernest faces by wrapping it around his nose. You mention all the great chain matches in history, which are built around the idea that two wrestlers have access to a chain and can use it to beat each other to death. On a show called EXTREME RULES, which is the one night WWE stops being safe and gets crazy. You’ve built a blood rivalry between Rusev and Cena and, by proxy, Russia and America.
The payoff should be these guys beating the shit out of each other with a chain, right? Cena vs. Umaga without the blood. Instead, what do we get? A match where you have to touch all four corners of the ring and lighting color-coded siren lights like you’re in the f*cking Pick-A-Prize arcade on ‘I’m Telling!’ You don’t even have the drama of desperately dragging your opponent around the ring to touch the corners because the chain’s too long.
Cena starts making stupid faces five seconds in while they play tug-of-war for no reason, and the match ends with him Attitude Adjusting Rusev and confidently slapping a turnbuckle pad, then posing under an enormous U.S. flag. Nothing that happened between those moments mattered, and if you say something did, you’re lying.
The good news is that most of us came to terms with the Rusev/Cena story back in February, so this is just par for the course. Cena’s been a good United States Champion, and his U.S. Open will continue and hopefully end with someone unexpected unseating him (for real, not due to cheating) and being elevated. Rusev can get involved in anything else, as long as it matters and maybe doesn’t center around him being emotionally abusive to his uptight girlfriend.
Worst: GURL BYE
Naomi’s new entrance is a cross between Sasha Banks and the bottom of a car from Fast & Furious. I am NOT okay with somebody adding lights to The Boss and calling it their own. This isn’t just GURL BYE, this is grounds for a permanent GURL BYEING.
Somewhere in Orlando, the best female wrestler in the company is sighing and looking up at the ceiling for some reason.
Worst: Bad Creative Compromising An Otherwise Good Divas Match
Naomi and Nikki Bella are both pretty good in the ring at this point, at least for what they’re asked to do, and if you detach the match from what it means, it was also pretty good. Nikki Bella’s got really great offense somehow, and Naomi’s been great at TAKING great offense since like 2011. When she goes down she looks like a spider that got squashed and fell off the wall.
The problem is that like most of the stuff on the show, it didn’t have the right context. There’s just … nothing happening. Naomi has taken out Paige and is the new sassy heel in town with her Tron boots and Biff Tannen’s Future Posse glasses. She should have a great babyface adversary, but whoops, there aren’t any! WWE women aren’t people, they’re different shades and hair colors of the same terrible idea. So Nikki Bella’s the champion and her opponent, but Nikki’s been a dread heel since at least last August. Brie was a face and hated her but everybody forgot about it so now she’s on the outside cheering Nikki on like a face (incessantly) but cheating like a heel. Against a heel. So nobody’s got a good motivation, you can’t cheer for anyone and they’re just trying their best in this empty creative void.
So yeah, no insult to the performers, but this wasn’t the right thing, and it was at the wrong time. Okay, insult to Brie. Brie is the worst. If somebody hit Brie in the head with a garbage can I’d buy their shirt.
Worst: Are Last Man Standing Matches Contractually Obligated To Have Terrible Finishes?
Certain match types come with certain expectations. If you’re in an inferno match, for example, somebody has to be set on fire. If you’re in a tables match, somebody has to go through a table. WWE’s worked tirelessly to homogenize all the match stipulations into one slightly more prop-based version of a regular match for years, and I’ll never understand it. Cage matches are just regular matches surrounded by a cage. No blood, no increase in violence (not even in Hell in a Cell anymore), the only difference is that sometimes they’re climbing or trying to walk through a door. That Russian chain match should’ve been about a passionate rivalry and the danger of what a chain can do to the human body, but it was about tug-of-war and hockey sirens. Last Man Standing matches should be about wrestlers taking so much damage they can’t go on, and the emotional story of a person with more guts than brains who wants to keep going, but physically can’t. It should be about brutal drama and catharsis. Instead, it’s about who can come up with the least satisfying thing to do with props.
Last Man Standing matches are one of my least favorite things WWE does, because they don’t understand them. For one, the builds are always about not giving up, but the payoff is a gag. Remember when Cena and Batista wanted to kill each other, and the finish was Batista having his ankles taped together so he couldn’t “stand?” That’s what I’m talking about.
Roman Reigns vs. Big Show is built around how much damage Reigns can take, and how he’ll never stay down. He’ll keep getting up no matter what Show does. So during the match (which is better than it had any right to be), Show keeps hitting Reigns with chokeslams through tables and shit and Reigns keeps persevering. That’s good. The problem comes at the end, when Reigns manages to run up the steps and across the announce table to spear Show through the Spanish table. It’s a huge, beautiful spot that should’ve been the finish. Instead, Show stands up to break the count and immediately lies back down. Now, given what we’ve established as the point of the feud, Roman should hit Show with something else to keep him down, right? Show that he’s dominant and can withstand anything and recover but Show can’t. Right?
Nope, his response is to turn over the announce table onto Show, burying him beneath it, then standing on it while the referee counts to ten. Which proves nothing except Roman can’t keep show down on his own, and needed a bunch of props. In theory couldn’t show have just punched Roman in the face and sat on his chest to keep him down for 10? If you can just lay stuff on your opponent and tape them up and stand on them, why don’t Last Man Standing matches start with guys wheeling out grocery carts full of handcuffs and duct tape?
Two things I loved from Show, though:
1. Him rolling out to floor to “stand” and break 10 counts, which is the most reasonable damn thing I’ve seen in a Last Man Standing match in ages. It’s such an easy way to get to your feet without having to spend that energy.
2. His glorious sell of the nut shot on the top turnbuckle. RRRRAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH
Best: Please Tell Me The Ryback vs. Bray Wyatt Feud Involves Acknowledging Bo Dallas As A Wyatt
First of all, when did Bo Dallas start looking like The Mandarin?
Second of all, isn’t Bray Wyatt supposed to be feuding with Ryback soon? Is that why Ryback beat up his (sshhh) brother? Are we going to tie Bo damn Dallas into a Bray Wyatt feud finally? I’ve written a lot about how irreparable Bray seems, but man, if he’s suddenly being followed around by his dorky PMA brother and having to roll his eyes about everything, I’m all-in. Go full Cousin Oliver with him.
Worst: Extreme Rules Ends With HEATED DISCUSSIONS OF SEMANTICS
Sometimes a match is beautifully put together and wrestled, and just boring as f*ck.
That was the Extreme Rules main event. Orton and Rollins wrestled a fine match filled with way too many plot points while surrounded by a cage that neither hurts nor helps them. The RKO is banned. Kane is the “gatekeeper,” which either means he’s standing by the cage door the entire match and arbitrarily deciding who wins at the end or he’s hooking up with Rick Moranis. J&J Security are there to run interference and get in the cage, even though Orton picked “cage match” specifically to keep members of The Authority out. The match ends with a 4-on-1 Authority advantage. Inside the cage. GOOD CALL.
To make things worse, the finish is about SEMANITCS. YEAHHHH. Kane chokeslams everybody and Orton fights back with an RKO, which is “banned,” but assumedly only if he uses it on Rollins Rollins then runs up and RKOs Orton, then escapes the cage. So now instead of “who won the cage match and is WWE World Heavyweight Champion,” the question is “can somebody explain the fine print of a contract and the exact wording of a stipulation we established without really explaining it.” That’s the big heat coming off Extreme Rules. Not “wow did you see that,” not “that was a great show,” but “what do you think about the wording of a contract.”
I don’t even know what to say. I hope the answer is Rollins sneering and saying IT’S A CAGE MATCH, IT’S NO DQ, YOU COULD’VE RKO’D ME A HUNDRED TIMES AND BEEN FINE YOU DUMB IDIOT.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Wyatt’s Tough Enough video is the least interesting of them all.
Hot tag Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston. It’s like the easy fights in Earthbound. The screen just flashes to a dead Kofi.
Bahgawd, I’ve not seen that many unused chairs since the last Smackdown tapings.
[15 minutes after leaving the arena]
Dean: “I’m sure I put these chairs somewhere….”
Harper: “Try down this street here”
Dean: “Nope. not there”
Harper: “Wait, they’re not under the ring are they?”
Dean: “Shit” *turns car around*
Naomi used to be a Funkasaurus. Now she’s a Stegoeotype.
Rusev: Lana, Lana, LANAAAAAA!
Rusev: опасная зона
They should do this match like an episode of Touch The Truck.
Just Big Show and Reigns standing up until one of them gets sleepy or needs to bathroom or something.
If The Rock is The Scorpion King, Roman Reigns is The Scorpion King 3 & 4.
I bet the lights go out and a small child called “Little Randall” will distract Orton
Randy: “You said no RKO’s”
Seth: “No RKO’S, we can have one”
Thanks, everybody. See you on Monday for WWE REGULAR RULES.