Considered a favorite among fans young and old, it has been the launching pad for many superstars past and present like Booker T, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Sheamus, Bret Hart, etc.
What the KOTR accolade does for somebody is it gives them a title to run with and put themselves over in the process.
One Less Lonely Champ
– The opening video focused on the sudden return of the King of the Ring tournament. This was good for the show because it promised quality wrestling as a way to fill gaps of time, even leading to a special on the WWE Network the following night.
Most of “Extreme Rules” went according to plan – and that’s best for business.
The matches that didn’t sound so hot headed in actually turned out to be the most memorable and vice versa. It’s crazy how it works sometimes.
That being said – the night provided a decent way to advance feuds, nothing really feeling like a “payoff.”
Usually, “Extreme Rules” does a good job of following the fallout from WrestleMania, sometimes even allowing feuds to surpass their Mania greatness.
Have we had that this year? Sort of yes, but mostly no.
Some things have come about since Mania that have been on a roll – from the return of a newly revamped badass heel in Sheamus to the stare-in-awe-and-drop-your-jaw aerial tactics of Neville, while others have stood the same, like the lackluster Roman Reigns-Big Show feud. We’ll get into just why that feud is the worst thing for the Mania main eventer in a little bit.
Before Things Get Too Extreme
– The first segment with Seth Rollins, J & J Security and Kane continued the trend of Rollins talking himself into trouble, all while downplaying Randy Orton – pointing out he won’t have the RKO at Extreme Rules. Rollins took some good vocal shots at Kane, who in turn booked an immediate match with Rollins, threatening him to lay down for him, only to make it a “joke,” instead booking him to face Dean Ambrose.
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An All-Champions Affair
– Starting the show off with John Cena again? Are we watching a Raw repeat? Do we even want a repeat of Raw? His promo did its job as it explained the rules of the Russian chain match (much-needed) and addressed the energy of the crowd. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro came out for some cheap heat, cutting down the people and Cena, all for Daniel Bryan to come out and the place to go bonkers. Read the rest of this entry
The New Toy Destroyer Of Fear
– The first segment with Daniel Bryan, Bad News Barrett, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, The Big Show and Roman Reigns solidly hyped up the eventual main event, which tacked on Show and Reigns from what was originally advertised. Bryan led off the segment well – putting over the Intercontinental Championship and willing to take on all comers, inching a little too close to John Cena’s current gimmick, but still the best example of a “fighting Champion” as you can get. Barrett and Sheamus are a good heel duo – almost shades of their fantasy United Kingdom stable a la WWE ’12 coming to fruition. Ziggler was understandably all business and Show entered the equation as a good sidekick to the heels, which called for Reigns to finish things out, going straight for Show as the faces cleared the heels from the ring.
– The Tyson Kidd/Cesaro-Kofi Kingston/Big E match continued the momentum for the Tag Champs while further cementing New Day’s slow-burn heel turn. Big E’s promo was good stuff, as he condescending told the crowd they needed to love him, carrying most of the group’s vocal load. The New Day’s gimmick sucks but their maneuvers are all crowd-pleasers and as the turn becomes more evident, they need to alter it a little bit for easy heat. The “heel vs. soon-to-be heel” dynamic made it hard to root for Cesaro/Kidd per se, but the action was good while it lasted. The finish also made the Champs look good, albeit using cheap tactics, but lost nothing against fellow heels.
– The Neville-Curtis Axel match was preceded by an Axel promo that hyped the match in his own wannabe Hogan way. Neville continues to impress in the ring – resorting to more of his aerial tactics. Quick crowd-enlightening squash that followed the script of his Raw debut to a tee.
– The Natalya/Cameron/Alicia Fox promo had the female heels go at it in a condescending way. Either that or we got a glimpse of Bad Girls Club: WWE Edition. Not exactly carrying the division with class.
– The Natalya-Fox match carried over from the previous segment as Cameron was Special Guest Referee. This didn’t really do much to entice the crowd for Raw’s #1 Contender’s Divas Battle Royale, as it almost seems the WWE’s answer to missing AJ Lee is to amp up everybody else’s personalities where they almost become intolerable. Natalya won by submission using the Sharpshooter, which was the only bright spot out of this. Could’ve also seen Cameron’s attacks from a mile away. We did like the top rope “mirror pose” though.
– The Erick Rowan hype video pretty much summed up everything about him, but didn’t really push anything new about him and that’s the problem. At the least, he’d be Bray Wyatt’s opponent, resorting to past history for storyline purpose. This match really came out of nowhere.
– The Rowan-Wyatt match followed a solid Wyatt promo that talked about Rowan’s lack of acceptance by society. This felt like it could either be a way of writing Rowan’s lukewarm character off or to build Wyatt as the new “Face of Fear.” It actually felt like both were accomplished here. The Wyatt win was expected. The cradling of Rowan in Wyatt’s lap added a nice touch, but where does it lead?
– The MizTV segment with Miz, Damien Mizdow and Summer Rae came off as a feeble attempt to hype the straight-to-Blu-Ray release while having Mizdow turn on Miz yet again. Have to award Miz for his mic work here as he did a good job of setting up the moment where Mizdow delivered and promptly planted one on Rae. The crowd was more hot for this than Raw, which was a positive, but will Miz’s words about us forgetting who Mizdow is in three months ring true? It almost feels like this feud is being booked on the fly. Sure, they knew how to set up the turn well, but not much of that thought process has related to the aftermath. Slowly get Mizdow back to his former character.
– The Barrett/Sheamus/Show-Bryan/Ziggler/Reigns match continued the string of crowd-pleasing Smackdown main events. Nothing all too newsworthy though. Reigns getting the pinfall was okay, but where exactly does he fit into the equation? Will him and Show have a match at Extreme Rules? We can expect all six men to be involved with each other at the PPV in some way, but we still have yet to see any planning in that regard. On that note, with exception of Show, it was nice to have a night free of The Authority in the arena.
– Tyson Kidd/Cesaro (w/Natalya) def. Big E/Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods) via pinfall
– Neville def. Curtis Axel via pinfall
– Cameron As Special Guest Referee – Natalya def. Alicia Fox via submission
– Bray Wyatt def. Erick Rowan via pinfall
– Six-Man Tag – Roman Reigns/Daniel Bryan/Dolph Ziggler def. Sheamus/Bad News Barrett/The Big Show via pinfall
You’re A Runt, Fella
– The opening video did a good job of recapping the chaos that went down on Raw when Brock Lesnar didn’t get his immediate rematch against WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and kindly destroyed ringside equipment, announcers and cameramen, setting up his indefinite suspension via Stephanie McMahon.
– The in-ring segment with Rollins, Kane, J & J Security, Big Show and Randy Orton gave us the awaited bragging promo from the new Champ, which was good. Rollins does a great job of making himself sound like a mastermind while also manipulating those around him into doing what he wants, making excuses behind his intentions. Of course, this set up Orton’s part of the segment, where he reminded us why he was due a Title shot and for some reason, really targeted Kane for having no “WrestleMania presence.” What’s that, Kane? You’re going to book an awesome match?! Nah. Just Orton-Show for right now. That’ll surely steal the show. Sigh.
– The Orton-Show was just a set-up for The Authority to do their Authority thang. Shocker. Orton had his brief moment by playing possum before getting Chokeslammed by Kane. Nice moment for Ryback to make the save, who seems more over every time he comes out. We can smell a future Rollins/Kane-Orton/Ryback tag match from a country away.
– They did a great job all night of emphasizing the magnitude of Sheamus’ return, heel turn and brutal attacks on fan favorites Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler. They even altered the Smackdown card to have Ziggler fully sell his injuries. Makes sense, and we can expect the original match to probably occur on Raw.
– With AJ Lee’s sudden retirement and the fact that Paige has already feuded with the Bella Twins, we need another new top face of the Divas Division. Apparently, that lady is Naomi. Now, she’s not a bad performer and she makes a good sidekick to the Usos. Only problem is this: her finisher. She knocks people out with her ass. How is that even remotely convincing? Let’s hope this push comes with a slightly revamped maneuver repertoire. For God’s sake, even if you change the finisher, that would make half the difference. Her boxed promo came off grotesquely rehearsed and almost like that one obnoxious cheerleader who tries too hard. With some more promo work, she could rise to a passable level, but at the moment, at least the idea of a singles push is encouraging for her character, as she seemingly has no character outside of being tattooed to the Usos by way of marriage to Jimmy.
– The Bella Twins have the advantage of being good-to-great talkers and have immensely improved their act in the past couple years. They made some good jabs at Naomi, that she had no identity and made perfect people to prove wrong as she took down Natalya rather quickly. A Nikki Bella-Naomi Divas Championship feud appears to be the new direction.
– So, Kane learned to finally throw his weight around and appear to want to make an Orton-Rollins Title match at Extreme Rules a reality. At the same time, Rollins was great in trying to get out of it while sounding confident. Dean Ambrose coming into the scene as that guy who uses the executive bathroom without permission fit his “unpredictable” character, but on top of his convincing Mania performance, did we need to saddle him with toilet humor? At the same time, he should use it more often if it sets up matches like him and Luke Harper. It’s obvious they’re using the ladder powerbomb spot to light a spark between the two in the form of a feud.
– Of course it’s Smackdown, so we need another Roman Reigns pre-taped interview. He approached what happened with Mania with one message he kept repeating: I took the brutal beating and came closer than ever to beating the beast. Word selection was kind of key here, working against him at moments. How exactly do you “come out swinging” by taking a beating? How does that work? His attempts at humor were grin-worthy (Let us know Suplex City condo prices while you’re at it, huh?) but this made it clear his new focus was Rollins and gunning for him made sense. If he’ll go full force as Extreme Rules gets closer, than this “quiet rage” is a good start.
– The Miz-R-Truth match saw the old Awesome Truth tag mates face-off. With all the Mizdow talk, it was obvious Truth went back to enhancement talent status just to make Miz look strong. No complaints about that. At the same time, Damien Mizdow got his revenge from Raw as he came out, hit the Skull-Crushing Finale on Miz and put his sunglasses on to a big reaction. Solid.
– The segment with John Cena, Rusev and Lana was a good way to emphasize Cena’s desire to be a literal fighting United States Champion – taking on all comers, particularly “underdogs and B-plus players.” With Cena set to the future, this was a good time to have Rusev come out with Lana and be the one to challenge this time. The patriotic exchange was expected at this point. The thing with the American flag was cutesy, but bordered on slight ridiculousness.
– Good placement of the Neville hype video for Smackdown, making it appear that Raw will be his current stomping grounds for now. Between that and Cena’s weekly open challenges, they’re really hyping Raw as the place to be to see big developments.
– The Ambrose-Harper match was a nice little bout with some harsh kicks and hits, topped off with Harper powerbombing Ambrose through the announce table, their match going to a DQ in Ambrose’s favor. A feud between the two appears to be on the rise. No complaints, but what will the winner get?
– The Prime Time Players promo ripping New Day was a pleasant throwback to their old parody segments, and it appeared they were playing the pandering faces here. Good thing Creative finally capitalized on The New Day’s lack of popularity. This likely leads to a match and with Big E’s recent “heel” tweets, the lines for fanfare should be clearly drawn.
– They’ve really amped up Sheamus, huh? His new music will take some getting used to, but it fits his “tough Irish asskicker” gimmick. He arrived on the WWE scene as a heel, one who grinned particularly, beat Cena for the WWE Championship and even had a match against Triple H at Mania at one point. He did big things. Being a fan-pandering bland face for the last four years did call for a shakeup, but this was more on the extreme side. You can’t help but feel he tries too hard at times to be hated, but at the same time, they’ve given him the ball and he’s making the most of it. His promo was good stuff – basically saying he picks on underdogs “because he can” and “wants to crush hopes and dreams.” That’s as mean as it gets, no? The main event match with him and Bryan was good – he looked tough and Bryan provided the appropriate comeback spirit. Bad News Barrett out on commentary was a good way to use him in the meantime, practically breathing down Bryan’s neck, vying for his rematch clause, likely to come at Extreme Rules. Him getting involved towards the finish, hitting Bryan with the Bull Hammer Elbow, busting him open and allowing Sheamus to take advantage for a countout victory was a good start.
– Randy Orton def. The Big Show (w/Seth Rollins, J & J Security, Kane) via DQ
– Naomi def. Natalya via pinfall
– The Miz def. R-Truth via pinfall
– Dean Ambrose def. Luke Harper via DQ
– Sheamus def. Daniel Bryan via countout
– The first segment with Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman and Stephanie McMahon was a perfect open to the show. Lesnar was understandably angry and him coming out with Heyman in his fighting gear sold that he meant business. Heyman was on fire on the mic and knew exactly what to say to get the crowd fired up, demanding a WWE World Heavyweight Championship rematch right then and there. He had them in the palm of his hands. Who knew “Suplex City, Bitch!” would catch on the way it has? The chant even had Lesnar cracking a smile. McMahon coming out arguing for Seth Rollins’ case, saying he’d probably be up for the challenge was a good hook into the much-chaotic second hour.
– The Intercontinental Championship match between Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler was their best effort to date. Both guys turned it up a notch in front of a hot post-Mania crowd and they loved every second of it. Bryan was more over, but both guys were cheered heavily. Utter all-out war. Only criticism with this was that they never clarified why exactly the match was happening and what Ziggler did to earn yet another shot at the Title. They could’ve had this later in the show with a segment explaining the reason for the match, but this happening out of the blue after a killer first segment was an obvious way to please the diehard fans. Bad News Barrett being out on commentary bringing up his rematch clause was good stuff and he looked solid in his postmatch attack on both men. It was also a nice set-up for Sheamus’ return, who teased making the save for Bryan/Ziggler, only to brutally attack them instead. He came roaring down the ramp with a new aggressive, bad-ass look that the crowd ripped on with their “You Look Stupid!” chant, but as a heel, it works for him. He was the same boring face character for about five years. We can welcome this change and their tag match hyped for Smackdown should be a good follow-up to what went down here.
– WWE carried the momentum on with the much successful debut of The Lucha Dragons as they participated in an eight-man tag match, teaming with Kofi Kingston/Big E to take on The Ascension/Tyson Kidd/Cesaro. The presence of NXT rained all over this match and with good reason. The NXT-bred luchadors shined all over the match – Calisto’s sequence on Cesaro particularly, which got the crowd on its feet, was memorable. The New Day continue to get negative reactions and it should be telling, but Creative is stubbornly sticking with their lame “Three positive Black men” gimmick that borders on stereotypical racism. Something needs to happen with them and soon. Woods kept tapping the mat, starting the “New… Day-Sucks!” chant from the crowd, which only grew louder as the match progressed. For that matter though, it was all Lucha Dragons and it was the right decision to have them pick up the pinfall.
– The Neville hype video was short, but summed it up perfectly with a slow-motion of him in mid-air, delivering his Red Arrow finisher. Clever placing right after the previous match.
– The first hour rolled right along with a hot show and little did we know just what would happen at the top of the second hour. They teased a rematch between Lesnar and Rollins, until Rollins expectedly backed out of it and tried to run away, causing Lesnar to get his hands on him and beat him down, but still failing to deliver a satisfying F5. This caused Lesnar to get so angry he utterly annihilated the ringside area in ways not seen since the Nexus debut- let’s see: he flipped the announce table onto JBL and Booker T, Irish-whipped J & J Security onto the adjacent announce table, took Michael Cole into the ring and F5’d him, then put his hands on the cameraman, which caused McMahon to come out pleading for sanity. Lesnar’s actions escalated with every minute, creating utter chaos and unpredictability. Once he F5’d the cameraman, it made sense for Steph to take disciplinary action – indefinitely suspending him. This will likely keep him off TV until the rematch, but they can pick this up at Extreme Rules or even hold out until SummerSlam and they got everything they needed here. It was utter WTF chaos, but completely awesome to watch go down and that’s the way you send Lesnar out.
– McMahon’s comments made sense from her character’s perspective, defending the company in a corporate role. Her comments about Lesnar re-signing with WWE and that she “owned that son of a bitch” was for shock value, but worked.
– Byron Saxton out as a makeshift replacement commentator sold the moment of ringside chaos as well. For a little while, there was no commentary and just graphics and segments. The Stardust-Damien Mizdow match was about Mizdow getting his moment and we expected Miz to beat him down after. That was solid, though the crowd wasn’t nearly as hot for it as past segments. Keep in mind they were coming down from all that chaos.
– Curtis Axel was over with these fans, but they forgot all about him once Neville came out and their match was a quick squash for Neville. All eyes were on him as he performed the Red Arrow, his beautiful finisher. So, essentially he dropped the Adrian and he gained a cape, a unique addition to his look.
– John Cena’s United States Championship open challenge segment had him deal with the hostile crowd and Dean Ambrose was a pleasant surprise challenger. Their match was good and competitive – almost a test for Ambrose, but it’s like we were waiting for Rusev to come out the whole time and couldn’t truly enjoy the match. Despite that, it was a good effort.
– The backstage segment with Rollins, Big Show, Kane and Big Show was decent in letting Rollins cut a promo saying Lesnar got what he deserved and put himself over as a genius for his cash-in and Orton brought up his logical case for a World Title shot. Hyping the sudden tag match main event was on the lame side. Are we supposed to think Orton has no friends? That main event was treated like, “Oh yeah, we need one for the show! Oops.”
– The AJ Lee/Paige/Naomi-The Bella Twins/Natalya match provided just the right amount of good stuff with lengthy time (nearly 15 minutes) to deliver for the Divas, a welcome change. The finish left a little to be desired, but that can be overlooked for the effort to raise efforts in these matches.
– Oh, look at Orton backstage. He has no friends. Oh, wait… here comes Ryback. Oh, he hates the Authority too and wants to fight them? What a shocker.
– Rusev picked himself back up again by squashing Goldust, though the crowd obviously wanted more of Lana. Either way, they do a solid job of making him a threat without her present, maybe even more so, as she is his voice of reason. The placing of this on the show was bad though, as things went from hot to mild.
– What a dud of a man event, huh? That’s what you give the hot post-Mania crowd? Of course they were going to hate Roman Reigns as the third guy. How lame could it get? Granted, you could argue that Reigns earned his main event status in the Mania main event, but why send him out in front of a hostile crowd that hated everything about him? Not to mention, he didn’t even look like he sold the beating from Lesnar all too much. Creative must be scared that the crowd rooted more for Ryback than anyone in the match.
– Intercontinental Championhip – Daniel Bryan def. Dolph Ziggler via pinfall to retain
– Eight-Man Tag Match – The Lucha Dragons/Big E/Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods) def. Tyson Kidd/Cesaro/The Ascension via pinfall
– Neville def. Curtis Axel via pinfall
– United States Championship – Open Challenge – John Cena def. Dean Ambrose via pinfall to retain
– AJ Lee/Paige/Naomi def. The Bella Twins/Natalya via pinfall
– Rusev def. Goldust via submission
– Roman Reigns/Ryback/Randy Orton def. Seth Rollins (w/J & J Security)/The Big Show/Kane via pinfall