411ís Instant Access: 05.19.13: WWE Extreme Rules
Posted by Michael Benjamin on 05.20.2013
Triple H wrestles Brock Lesnar in a steel cage, John Cena fights Ryback in a Last Man Standing match and more!
Hello, I'm Michael Benjamin, and this is 411's Instant Access: WWE Extreme Rules. Instant Access is the companion piece to 411's Live Pay-Per-View Coverage and features immediate reactions 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 Michael Benjamin and Jeremy Thomas' thoughts on the show.
Enough with the explanations. Let's get to the wrestling.
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
Match Result: Chris Jericho via pinfall Match Length: 12:15 Match Analysis: Michael Benjamin: First and foremost, Summer Rae's dress was pretty amazing, right? Anyways, this was a pretty typical opener. I'm guessing Fandango will go over on a televised event that nobody has to pay for soon. That's just how the WWE rolls. They had a few decent near falls and delivered a good match. The crowd didn't care about Fandango, they didn't bite for the near falls, and a few of the spots were pretty sloppy. From my vantage point, it seemed like Fandango messed up a bit. Despite the couple of sloppy spots, the match was fun and the crowd loved Chris Jericho going over. All in all, it was a solid opening bout. Match Rating: **1/2 Jeremy Thomas: I think this was a better match than the two had at WrestleMania, certainly. This isn't to say that it was some kind of all-time classic but it worked fine for the show opener for Extreme Rules. The crowd was okay at best, but it was enough to get them built up a little bit...which is, after all, the whole point of the opening match. Fandango worked better with Jericho this time around and had more offense; Jericho needed the win in order to keep some credibility for his next return and people will remember Fandango's WrestleMania win over his Extreme Rules loss. Not great, but decent. Match Rating: **1/2
United States Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. Kofi Kingston
Match Result: Dean Ambrose via pinfall Match Length: 7:35 Match Analysis: Michael Benjamin: This was a really good match. There were plenty of reversals and false finishes to get the crowd into it. These guys seemed to have a decent bit of chemistry in the ring. Michael Cole fucking killed me by calling Dean Ambrose "Ambrew" FOUR TIMES. Come on, man. A slip up is one thing, but over and over? Anyways, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns headed to the back before the match started and "Ambrew" won this match squeaky clean with his sick looking finisher. Hopefully he has a nice long title reign. Match Rating:**3/4 Jeremy Thomas: I think this should have been the opener myself, but to each their own. Kofi and Ambrose worked really well here together and delivered a really enjoyable match. Sure, the end result was pretty much a foregone conclusion but one of the fun things about WWE's standard booking tactics is that you can't really trust for sure when the company is going to pull the rug out from under a rising talent, so there was some doubt in my mind here. (I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy.) Having Ambrose win without the rest of the Shield there was important because it establishes him as a guy who can win without interference. I enjoyed this, perhaps more than I should have. Match Rating:***1/4
Strap Match Sheamus vs. Mark Henry
Match Result: Sheamus Match Length: 8:03 Match Analysis: Michael Benjamin: This was a fun strap match. There was nothing brutal as expected, but they came up with a bunch of inventive spots and victory attempts. My favorite was Sheamus running around the ring apron trying to tap all four corners. Mark Henry played the big road block role perfectly and Sheamus worked great as the valiant face. The crowd popped huge for the Sheamus victory and Mark Henry looked strong in defeat. This was better than I expected going into it. They worked with the strap match gimmick to the best of their ability. Match Rating: **1/4 Jeremy Thomas I really hate strap matches as a rule. It's impossible for even the best wrestlers to give the match a constant flow and instead it always seems like a start/stop affair; the talent has to beat on each other, then stop the action to go for the corners, then repeat step one. In this case, Sheamus and Mark Henry weren't going to have a five-star classic anyway so my dislike of the gimmick match is mitigated somewhat. The key here wasn't fast-paced action or seamless counter-wrestling, it was telling a good story. "Henry and Sheamus come up with tactics that are used in almost every strap match while the announcers pretend they've never seen such tactics happen before" is not a story. Also, I defy anyone to logically explain why Henry's momentum was stopped when Sheamus was tied up and hanging onto the ropes, but Sheamus' momentum was not stopped when he was being held in fallaway slam position by Henry. I think they worked it as well as the match's booking would allow, but that booking hamstrung them. Match Rating: *1/4
"I Quit" Match Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio
Match Result: Jack Swagger Match Length: 15:22 Match Analysis: Michael Benjamin: This is easily the worst "I Quit" match I've EVER seen. You have the referee asking if both wrestlers quit after EVERY MOVE. I mean, Alberto delivered a transitional kick and Swagger was being asked if he quit. Ricardo was about to throw the towel in and Alberto told him not to. When the ref wasn't looking, Colter stole it from Ricardo and threw in the towel which gave Swagger the victory because the ref thought Ricardo threw it in. Okay, so nobody said "I quit" and that was offensive enough. A second referee runs down to the ring and tells Jimmy Korderas that Colter threw it in. Jimmy (the original referee) rolls to the outside and watches a replay of the finish on a laptop and restarts the match. WHAT? Alberto locked Swagger in the arm breaker for the win after the match was restarted and Swagger screamed "I quit." This wasn't ADR or Swagger's fault. Their moves were crisp and they really do work well together. Unfortunately they couldn't overcome the circumstances they were dealt. This was AWFUL booking, plain and simple. I don't like paying for matches that suck when I watched the same two wrestlers kill it on free TV a month prior. Match Rating: *1/2 Jeremy Thomas: I Quit matches have, to a lesser extent, the same sort of problem as Strap Matches do in that you have to stop the match in order to have the referee ask the question. It's not quite the same though as there can still be some action while the stipulation is catered to. With this being the case, it freed Del Rio and Swagger up a bit and the match had a good, solid flow to it. I think this is probably the best match Swagger has had during his push and both he and Del Rio worked very hard. The "throwing in the towel" false finish was a bit weird, not only due to the towel itself but because of the spontaneous decision that refs can call instant replay. But logical continuity isn't WWE's strong point anyway and it made for something different. Good stuff overall and of course, the right guy went over in terms of who faces heel Ziggler next. Match Rating: ***
Tornado Tag Team Match Tag Team Championship: Team Hell No vs. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns
Match Result: Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns Match Length: 7:25 Match Analysis: Michael Benjamin: These four men had the least amount of time to work a match, yet still delivered the best match of the night so far. Roman Reigns looked like an absolute beast in there. These guys worked the Tornado Tag format perfectly and kept the match exciting the entire time. This is exactly what I was hoping it would be and perhaps a little more as well. The big question for me is "how long will The Shield hold on to the straps?" Match Rating: *** Jeremy Thomas: This was shorter than I expected and not as good as I hoped, but it wasn't bad by any stretch. First off, the right team obviously went over. The Shield had to win this one to keep their momentum going as the best-booked stable in over a decade and it will completely erase in most people's minds the fact that they lost by DQ on Raw (which was glossed over even then). This had a lot of fun spots in it and it made Reigns and Rollins look strong without having to bury Team Hell No. Does anyone else get the idea that there is someone else booking the Shield than the rest of the product? Or is that just me? Match Rating: **3/4
Extreme Rules Big Show vs. Randy Orton
Match Result: Randy Orton Match Length: 13:05 Match Analysis: Michael Benjamin: This was an intelligently worked match that built up to a decent enough climax. With that said, I couldn't help but yawn a few times. It was boring, plodding, and ultimately unexciting. The crowd liked it quite a bit more than I did. They had the Extreme Rules gimmick and used it a little too sparingly for my liking. This entire show hasn't been very extreme but that's okay, as I expected that going in. It was nice to see Orton bring the punt back, and I enjoyed seeing Big Show land on a ladder set up on two chairs. Even for a Big Show match, this under-delivered. With that said, they kept the crowd into it and worked a smart match that built to the finish well enough. No rematches though, please. Match Rating: **3/4 Jeremy Thomas Well the crowd seemed to love it, so that's something. I get the feeling that I won't like this quite as much as some others but all in all it was a solid match. They used the stipulation well and some of the spots were fun, but though I get the feeling that they were holding back a bit in order to give Cena vs. Ryback better spots. Orton busting out the punt kick less than two weeks after Ziggler's concussion (a concussion which was heavily referenced on this very show) was an odd choice considering how careful WWE is around such issues in the post-Benoit era, but it didn't bother me all that much. There wasn't anything particularly sloppy to this match and the booking was okay, if lacking a bit in psychology like many gimmick matches are. Best match of the show at this point Match Rating: ***1/2
Last Man Standing WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Ryback
Match Result: Sports Entertainment Finish Match Length: 26:00 Match Analysis: Michael Benjamin: This match was progressing just fine and I was planning on rating it quite a bit higher before the non-finish. Again, WWE books themselves into a corner and we have to suffer for it. This reminded me of the Cena/JBL "I Quit" match with the way it was laid out. Whoever put the match together did a great job. Both men tossed each other around like the other was a hundred pounds lighter. I was very impressed by the strength and power moves that both men busted out during the in-ring portion of the match The problem is, why would I pay to see another Pay-Per-View when the two matches regarding the two world titles had ridiculous endings? Ryback and John Cena delivered in every way possible, but for the second time tonight Creative couldn't book a proper finish. Match Rating: *** Jeremy Thomas Yeah, so as I mentioned above I love how the last man standing match looked more like an Extreme Rules match than the Extreme Rules match. The battle going all over the place, the various hardcore spots, the general destruction of the arena and such. To its credit, this kind of stuff made this match a better one than it may have otherwise been, though I do think that they probably unfairly limited Show vs. Orton as a result. They focused heavily on Cena and his health status throughout the match for the sympathy of the fans and that was effective enough, though I'm sorry to say that Ryback just isn't ready for a match of this level. There were a couple of sloppy spots on his part and while he tried, I just never bought that he had any chance of being a threat to Cena no matter how much the injury angle was pushed. I kinda had a feeling they would go with a non-finish as it's the only way to extend this feud and no one else is ready for Cena, though I think the "through the Tron" spot came off as kind of goofy. All in all a disappointing match; it was solid enough but I was hoping for better from these two. Match Rating: ***
Steel Cage Match Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H
Match Result: Brock Lesnar Match Length: 20: 11 Match Analysis: Michael Benjamin These guys delivered a very good steel cage match despite the lack of blood that the trilogy could have used. It's nice to see Lesnar booked with a proper finish that made him look like the beast he should have been booked as the entire time. F5 to an unconscious Triple H? Hell yeah. It wasn't as violent as you may have wanted and it was a shame that Brock Lesnar needed Heyman's interference on multiple occasions to win, but it was a great brawl nonetheless. That's a minor quibble though. The right man went over and the match was physical. It was deserving of the main event spot which I was initially a little agitated by when the match start. Match Rating: ***1/2 Jeremy Thomas: This match had the best booked finish of a Lesnar match since he returned. Lesnar has been booked like shit for the majority of his WWE run and he needed to completely destroy the Game to get his credibility back; the image of Lesnar picking up an unconscious Triple H and F-5'ing him just because he could before getting the pin is one that will stick, probably more so than any other on this show outside of the Shield with all the belts. I got a lot of crap for how much I enjoyed their match at WrestleMania and to each their own, but I thought this was a really enjoyable piece of sports entertainment. It was overbooked with the Heyman stuff, but I had no problem with such as most of the rest of the show consisted of clean finishes. The in-ring stuff was good, perhaps a bit too much reliance on submission holds for a cage match but that is a minor gripe. All in all this was a good match and the right choice for the main event so that 'H could linger in the ring for a good long while. Match Rating: ***3/4
Match of the Night: Michael Benjamin Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H [***1/2] The main event delivered as it should have and they wrestled a nice a physical match. Brock Lesnar looks like a beast and hopefully continues moving forward with some wins from here. Jeremy Thomas: Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar [*** 3/4] The main event delivered just fine and provided everything I was hoping for here. Not much else to say about that.
Trash of the Night: Michael Benjamin: Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger [*1/2] As I said above, it was not the fault of the performers but I couldn't get past the booking and match layout. Jeremy Thomas Sheamus vs. Mark Henry [* 1/2] It was a dull match that was very poorly laid out. What else do you need to know? Final Analysis: Michael Benjamin: This show didn't live up to the precedent that past Extreme Rules had set for it. The booking ranged from bad to good. Besides Swagger/Alberto, nothing was a slap in the face. With that said, nothing was great either. Don't pay to see this. Jeremy Thomas This was a one-match show, with the main event delivering and the rest of the matches varying from poor to good. It did several things right, particularly in the booking of Lesnar and the Shield, and it did several things wrong such as the WWE Title match finish and the Strap Match in general. Was it worth the price of ordering it? No, I don't particularly think so but it wasn't a complete waste of time either. This one just goes down as a middle-of-the-road WWE B-List PPV, which is about what I expected of it.
Verdict: Michael Benjamin: **1/2 Jeremy Thomas**3/4