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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

411’s Instant Access 04.29.12: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
Posted by Scott Slimmer on 04.30.2012

Hey kids, I'm Scott, and this is 411's Instant Access: WWE Extreme Rules 2012. Instant Access is the companion piece to 411 Live Pay-Per-View Coverage and features immediate reaction to wrestling pay-per-views. The focus in Instant Access is on first thoughts and initial reactions instead of play-by-play with the goal of providing you with instant access to one two THREE writers' thoughts on the show. Here's the team for Extreme Rules:

• Scott Slimmer, author of Don't Think Twice.
• Dimitri Dorlis, current author of Hidden Highlights.
• Gavin Napier, author of Handicapping the News and This is the End(ing). Gavin will be texting me comments throughout the night.

Okay kids, enough with the explanations. Let's get to the wrestling.

Pre-Show United States Championship Match
Santino Marella (Champion) vs. The Miz

Santino Marella vs. The Miz

Match Result: Santino Marella defeats the Miz with the Cobra.
Match Length: 4:38
Match Analysis:
Slimmer: This was a decent match for the pre-show, and I'm glad to see Santino pick up the win. He's a talented guy who's paid his dues in damn near every way possible, and it's nice to see a guy actually being rewarded for a being a loyal company man. On the other hand, I have no idea what to make of Miz's situation. Many are saying that he's on his way out the door, but I still tend to believe that WWE is tearing him down in order to build him back up later. You don't get a chance to bitch about wrestling on the pre-show if you're being punished. When you're really in trouble, you just job on the pre-show without saying a word.
• Jesus. Are they punishing Miz for Rey's wellness violation? I totally called that logic defying result, but still.
• The Miz is what Dixie Carter is getting for letting Ric appear at the HoF ceremony.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: **
Napier: N/A
Average Match Rating: **

Falls Count Anywhere Match
Randy Orton vs. Kane

Randy Orton vs. Kane

Match Result: Randy Orton defeats Kane with an RKO onto a steel chair.
Match Length: 16:39
Match Analysis:
Slimmer: I didn't have high hopes for this match, because Orton and Kane can both go into slow-and-plodding mode without much trouble. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how hard both guys worked and how they kept the action going as they made their way through the arena. They played off of the falls-count-anywhere stipulation quite well, and they put in a few brutal spots along the way. This match ended up seeming a bit timid by comparison to that matches that would come later in the show, but I want to give Orton and Kane credit for putting on a better match than I ever expected. Kane will likely move on to torment some other poor soul, but I'm more interested in Orton's next feud. It's been an incredibly long time since he's been in title contention, so I'd look for that to change sooner rather than later. Of course, if the rumors of Orton vs. Lesnar at SummerSlam are true, then Orton may just need another mid-card feud to burn time until his showdown with Brock.
Dorlis: You know, there was a lot to like in this match. The crowd got fired up, we got a Zach Ryder appearance for a bit of continuity, Michael McGillicuty showed up for a brief moment, and the right man went over. The spots also flowed rather organically, and I'm a sucker for prolonged brawls into the crowd. This worked for me, so it's getting a good rating.
• Randy Orton is my cure for insomnia.
• Kind of like WWE is using Brock to make people actually cheer for Cena, Orton makes me cheer for Kane.
• Zack Ryder is a jobber. WWWYKI.
• Randall Orton should call Shane McMahon to find out how to beat Kane.
• Why doesn't Kane just use his magic powers to blow up Orton?
• Between Randy hopping too soon and Kane missing the chair by a good foot, that finish left a little something to be desired. But then again, I'm just a hater on a cell phone.
• Orton and Kane just wrestled every Sting match in the last three years, only without blood or somebody getting slammed against a TNA poster.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: ****
Dorlis: ***½
Napier: **
Average Match Rating: ***¼

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

Match Result: Brodus Clay defeats Dolph Ziggler with a big splash.
Match Length: 4:02
Match Analysis:
Slimmer: I'm a big fan of the Funkasaurus, so I was thrilled to see him actually wrestling on the PPV. The man just makes me smile, but it's also nice to see him having more competitive matches as of late. Ziggler bumped as though he was possessed by Shawn Michaels circa SummerSlam 2005, and that's exactly what he needed to do to maintain Clay's mystique. It feels like there are still unresolved issues between Brodus Clay and Ziggler / Swagger / Vickie, so I'd look for them all to be seeing more of each other in the near future.
Dorlis: Unannounced Funkasaurus match, and hey, this is his longest match to date, so that was nice. Not much here, although Ziggler attempting to kill himself while selling the head butt was wonderful on its own.
• Teddy looks good as a waiter. He could play Grady in Tyler Perry's The Shining.
• Michael Cole's dinosaur facts are the best part of Funkasaurus matches.
• Biff Tannen looks good in a suit.
• If you squint, this is like Mr. Perfect vs. Big Bossman.
• They couldn't tack a dumb stipulation onto this one? The only thing extreme here is Dolph's overselling.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: **
Dorlis: **
Average Match Rating:

Intercontinental Championship Match
The Big Show (Champion) vs. Cody Rhodes

Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes

Match Result: Cody Rhodes defeats Big Show after Show stepped through a table.
Match Length: 4:33
Match Analysis:
Slimmer: Big Show and Cody Rhodes work surprisingly well together, and that was once again the case in this match. The match was shorter than I would have expected, but I suppose that plays well into the notion that Show's loss was a complete fluke. However, I do want to mention how incredible the Disaster Kick off the table was. That was simply a great spot that I honestly don't think I've ever seen before. With Show losing in such bizarre fashion, I'd look for these two to have at least one more PPV match before the feud ends. And like I said, with as well as they work together, getting one more PPV match out of this feud is fine by me.
Dorlis: This was a lot better than it had any right to be. The whole match built up into the Big Show slip, as he was dominating throughout. I'm not quite sure where they go from here, as it felt like a heel turn for Big Show, but it almost seemed like Big Show wasn't meant to step through the table like that. But Cody needs the belt way more than Show does, so I'm fine with the result.
• I don't like Cody's logo. It looks too much like Chevron gas stations. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that before.
• Sometimes Booker sounds like Jimmy Kimmel's version of Karl Malone.
• Big Show isn't fancy, but the guy is a pro. He's become great at working the big man style through the years, has learned to tell a story in the ring, and doesn't mind putting people over.
• If a spear from Edge can take out Big Show, shouldn't a spear form Big Show legally kill somebody?
• As Pedro Cerrano would say, Cody has marbles.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: **
Dorlis: **½
Napier: *½ for the match, *** for the whole segment
Average Match Rating: **

Two out of Three Falls Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Sheamus (Champion) vs. Daniel Bryan

Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan

Match Result: Sheamus defeats Daniel Bryan by a score of 2 – 1.
Match Length: 23:08
Match Analysis:
Slimmer: Ho. Lee. Crap. This was honestly the best pure technical wrestling match I've seen in WWE in a VERY long time. We all know Daniel Bryan is one of the best technical wrestlers in the world, and it was great to see him get a chance to prove that again tonight. However, the biggest surprise of the night might be the fact that Sheamus stayed right with him for the entire match. Sheamus is a talented big man, and we've seen him have good-to-great matches in the past, but I had no idea he could *wrestle* this well. The moves were impressive, the psychology was rock solid, and the match was definitely one to remember. You have to assume these guys has something to prove after only being give 18 seconds at WrestleMania, and that's exactly what they did tonight. This is what it means to steal the show. This is what it means to have a breakout performance. And this is what it means to show the world that you're ready to carry the company. I hope Sheamus and Bryan continue to have the chance to work together, but Alberto Del Rio will undoubtedly factor into the title picture at the next PPV. I just hope that Del Rio's presence doesn't mean that Bryan will be squeezed out of title contention prematurely.
Dorlis: Well, that lasted a bit longer than their WrestleMania match. Positives! But in all honesty, this match was extremely good. Sheamus getting the first fall via DQ followed by DB getting the second fall via submission was smart booking, as they made DB look like a million bucks, while keeping Sheamus strong in the final fall. Sheamus has a feud with ADR waiting in the wings, although I wouldn't mind DB getting added to it to make it a 3-way dance (add Orton and make it a Fatal Fourway if you want as well). Really, really good match.
• Daniel Bryan is like a cool version of Mr. Backlund.
• Am I the only one that wants to see Daniel Bryan shave his head and get the crazy eyes going with the massive beard?
• No fast count in history can compete with Teddy Long's quick count on the Road Warriors in 88 or 89.
• If Bobby Heenan were on commentary, he'd say, "But whose side is AJ on?!?"
• Texas Cloverleaf! Sheamus might be my wrestler of the week just for using that.
• I hope these two can keep this up. 5 minutes in and it's already been the best match on the show.
• I feel like we could get a Cattle Mutilation tonight.
• How much has Sheamus improved? He's already better than Bret Hart, because he can sell the arm.
• Impossible for me to go into detail from my phone, but this first fall has been absolutely brilliant wrestling from both guys.
• They should have worked the "I have til 5!" thing in there once before the dq.
• Sheamus turning his back to the kicks to protect his arm is beyond awesome.
• That match made both men look fantastic. Great psychology, wasn't overbooked, ring work was fantastic. Sheamus has really stepped his game up. A match like THAT is why I thought he could be Undertaker's streak-breaker.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: ****¾
Dorlis: ****¼
Napier: ****½
Average Match Rating: ****½

Impromptu Handicap Match
Ryback vs. Jobber #1 & Jobber #2

Match Result: Ryback defeats Jobber #1 and Jobber #2.
Match Length: 1:48
Match Analysis:
Slimmer: I love Ryback. Seriously. I just love the dude. And I love the Chicago crowd for correctly identifying the Goldberg push and stating as much during the course of the match. This wasn't a long match, but it was an incredibly entertaining match if you just wanted to see one big dude kill two little duded. And that's exactly what I wanted to see, so it worked for me.
Dorlis: Who cares. Let's check out how the playoffs are going right now! Atlanta is currently finishing off the Celtics on the road, while the LakeShow and the Spurs won earlier. The Clippers and the Grizzlies are tonight's nightcap. Oh, and there were Goldberg chants during this match. That was pretty great.
• Oh, these poor bastards.
• That's not an equation, dummy. No equal sign.
• I'm Rob Van Dam, and I approved Ryback's tights.
• Seriously, dude, just use the lariat.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: *
Dorlis: DUD
Napier: DUD
Average Match Rating: ¼*

Chicago Street Fight for the WWE Championship
CM Punk (Champion) vs. Chris Jericho

CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho

Match Result: CM Punk defeats Chris Jericho with the Go To Sleep.
Match Length: 25:10
Match Analysis:
Slimmer: Punk and Jericho had the unenviable task of having to put on a championship match after Sheamus and Bryan delivered a classic, but they rose to the challenge by giving us a completely different but equally impressive effort. This match was down-and-dirty, brutal, and incredibly emotionally raw. It had some great spots, highlighted by Punk's epic dive through the announce table. The finishing sequence was great, and in the end Punk got both an big win and an incredibly cathartic moment. Just like Sheamus and Bryan, I feel like Punk and Jericho had something to prove tonight. The last two PPVs have featured Cena and a visiting / guesting / part-time wrestler in the main event, and that has left the title matches in the middle of the card. That may be a smart business strategy, but tonight Sheamus, Bryan, Punk, and Jericho reminded us all that being a champion or a title contender still means something in this business. It means you can go out and put on a great match. Heck, maybe it even means that you really are the best in the world.
Dorlis: Real talk: I love when wrestlers wear jeans to a street fight. I don't know why, but it just seems to add more to the level of hate between two combatants. This was Punk's first PPV in Chicago since that fateful night in July, and the crowd seemed even more up for this match. This was a damn good match, and while it wasn't as technically sound as Bryan/Sheamus was, this one told a much better story. Jericho, you better not leave.
• Punk totally screwed up the sobriety test. He flipped two of the letters after he "sobered up." Jericho should find the rule book like WCW had and petition John Laurinaitis for a title change.
• Look at these guys actually dressed for a street fight. I'm having visions of Arn Anderson going into War Games.
• The little things like that really help the match atmosphere.
• Man do I hate that belt.
• Letting Jericho play heel to this crowd is almost too easy.
• Good start to the match, but I hope they're going to pick up steam. We had enough dabbling with psychology at Mania.
• Maybe I'm expecting too much or have a selective memory, but I don't remember street fights in the 80s having so much wrestling. I just want to see them fight.
• I feel like this would seem better if it weren't following Sheamus vs. Bryan.
• Lion Tamer v1.0!
• The mild inconvenience of a fire extinguisher!
• Well they've made me bit on two straight false finishes now. Good work.
• Good match, but makes you wonder what the point of Jericho's return was.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: ****¾
Dorlis: ****
Napier: ****
Average Match Rating: ****¼

Divas Championship Match
Nikki Bella (Champion) vs. Layla

Match Result: Layla defeats Brie Bella with a neckbreaker.
Match Length: 2:26
Match Analysis:
Slimmer: I love Layla. Which, now that I think about it, is the exact same thing I just said about Ryback, but I think it's important to clarify that I love them both in very different ways. VERY different ways. But anyway, as much as I love Layla and am happy to see her return, I do feel as though this match was a bit of a letdown after we all started expecting the Kharma era to begin tonight. That being said, Layla should freshen up a stale Divas division. Layla and Kelly Kelly can have various combinations of matches with Beth and Natalya, essentially with Layla playing the role Eve did before her heel turn. Of course, eventually Kharma will re-debut, and then things will get very interesting.
Dorlis: Nice return for Layla. Bellas are most likely on their way out......you know what, I don't really care about this. I wanted Kharma, she was backstage, even name-checked, and they didn't bring her out. Eventually you have to have her come out and do something.
• Is the surprise Harvey Wippleman?
• Oh, it's… her.
• She DDT'd her foot?
• Well that was… short
Match Rating:
Dorlis: **
Napier: *
Average Match Rating:

Extreme Rules Match
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar

John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar

Match Result: John Cena defeats Brock Lesnar with the Attitude Adjustment onto the ring steps.
Match Length: 17:46
Match Analysis:
Slimmer: I going to be honest with you. I have absolutely no idea what happened in this match. I mean, I saw the events unfold, but I'm truly and honestly not sure what was scripted and what was… slightly less scripted. The safe bet in this business is to assume that everything you see on television is scripted, and in that case Cena and Lesnar did an amazing job of injecting a sense of realism into the match. But I'm just not sure I can say Cena and Lesnar planned to have Lesnar but Cena wide open within the first minute of the match. That looked like Lesnar having a bit of trouble drawing the line between MMA and professional wrestling (which, of course, is exactly meant to believe is true, so this again plays into the notion that it was all scripted). Either way, John Cena allowed himself to get beaten senseless on live television for the sole purpose of entertaining the fans and legitimizing Brock Lesnar. Say what you will about Cena, but he truly is the hardest working man in the business, and there truly is nothing he won't do for the business. John Cena sacrificed his body tonight, and I respect the hell out of him for that. He went out to the ring knowing that his night was going to suck, and he did it gladly. Of course, then came Lesnar's big dive, which if the first time in forever that I've stopped typing during the live coverage because I just had to sit here in awe. It may not have been pretty, but it was spectacular as hell. And maybe that's what's so impressive and so memorable about this match. It probably was all scripted, but it didn't feel like it. It felt wild and unrestrained. It felt different from every other match on the card and different from every match we've seen in WWE for quite some time. It felt like a big deal, and that's something that I never actually felt from Cena / Rock. But with all of that being said, undoubtedly the most talked about part of the match will be the fact that Cena picked up the win. I certainly expected Lesnar to destroy Cena and get the win, and I know I'm not alone. Having Lesnar win in his re-debut seemed like a no-brainer, and this losing to Rock / losing to Lesnar storyline for Cena actually seemed like it could go somewhere interesting. It's hard to understand the logic of having Cena win, especially if he's taking some time off. And what were those comments after the match all about? Were they a shoot? Was the "boss" he was talking about John Laurinaitis, Triple H, or Vince McMahon? Tomorrow night's Raw should hopefully give us some answers and give us a few hints as to what's next for both Cena and Lesnar.
Dorlis: Wow. That really sums up this match. I had hopes that this would be a good match, and it exceeded my expectations and then some. No, this wasn't a 5 star classic, or even a workrate showcase. It was Lesnar's first wrestling match in over 7 years, and he delivered. Cena more than delivered: the dude got busted open hardway in the first minute of the match, and took a hell of a beating. Cena going over in the end was unexpected, but it made sense: Brock got overconfident, and it led to his demise. Cena's speech at the end sounded as if he might be out of action for a while, so that would help Brock as well. I wanted Brock to win this, but as the match went on, Cena won me over, to the point where the end result wasn't that upsetting.
• Let's do a quick checklist between Brock and Mark Mero.
• Wrestled in boxing / MMA shorts? Both. Married to Sable? Both. Can execute all of a shooting star press? Looks like Mero's the winner!
• Anything goes, huh? Cena should make Brock eat popcorn. Target the history of bellyaches.
• I don't know what's more amusing… the penis sword tattoo or the Jimmy John's logos.
• The good news for Cena is that if he can get through the first five or six minutes, Brock should be sucking wind.
• So we're stopping an extreme match… for blood?
• It's still impossible for me to buy Brock as a badass.
• Hey, licking the blood is BJ Penn's gimmick!
• WCW should have booked Sting vs. Hogan this one-sided.
• Charles Robinson might be dead.
• Brock am confused! Where am Cena!
• That was the least coordinated thing I've ever seen.
• Didn't pick Cena, but happy to see the win. Brock still looks like a monster, Cena stays strong. Questionable booking on the outcome, but since Brock may get bored and quit next week… why not?
Match Rating:
Slimmer: ****½
Dorlis: ***¾
Napier: ****
Average Match Rating: ****

Final Thoughts

Match of the Night:
Slimmer: Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan (****¾)
I gave ****¾ to both Sheamus / Bryan and Punk / Jericho, because both matches deserved it. They were very different matches, but they each epitomized a distinct style of wrestling match. However, in the case of a tie, I'll always go back to the fact that, as the saying goes, it will always say "wrestling" on the marquee. Punk Jericho was a great fight, but Sheamus / Bryan was a great wrestling match.
Dorlis: Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan (****¼)
It was hard to decide between the two title matches, but I liked this one juuuuust a little more, mostly because both men looked like even bigger stars afterwards than they did going in.
Napier: Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan (****½)
Maybe the Match of the Year so far.

Trash of the Night:
Slimmer: NONE
There is no way in hell that I'm calling anything on this card trash. Some matches were certainly shorter than others, but they all played a role on the show. I came close to giving this dubious distinction to Show / Rhodes based on the somewhat underwhelming fluke finish, but I understand the logic in needing to have Rhodes regain the title without actually earning it.
Dorlis: Ryback vs. Jobber #1 & Jobber #2 (DUD)
I know why they had the squash, but this could have been filled by the Santino/Miz match or a Tag Title match or something that at least involved more than one contracted wrestler.
Napier: Nikki Bella vs. Layla (*)
Just… who cares?

Final Analysis:
Slimmer: It may be April but it feels like December, because there were snowflakes flying everywhere tonight! This was the best WWE PPV since Money in the Bank 2011, and it featured FOUR matches that I rated at **** or higher. Many of you will probably say that I over-rated Orton / Kane, but that still leaves three legitimate **** matches on the card. The WWE and World Heavyweight Championship Matches were classics that proved the next generation of WWE stars is ready to carry the company. And Brock Lesnar's return to the ring was just as chaotic and brutal was it was advertised to be. Cena / Lesnar was a very untraditional match, but it was also one of the most uniquely exhilarating matches I've ever seen. Taken together, this is one of the strongest cards WWE has put together in many years, and I sincerely hope they can carry this amazing momentum going forward.
Dorlis: What is it about Chicago that leads to good ppvs from this company? Sure, there were some parts I could do without (Ryback squash, Brodus/Dolph), but overall, this was a damn good show. If you didn't watch it, I would definitely suggest buying the replay, especially for Brock's first match back and for both title matches, which more than delivered.
Napier: Overall a much more enjoyable show than WrestleMania for me. Cena vs. Brock wasn't a typical four star match, but the heat was there and they did the match right for the parties involved. Three four star matches on one show? That's hard to beat.

Slimmer: ****½
Dorlis: ****
Napier: ****
Average Verdict: ****¼


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