Thursday, April 28, 2016

Top Ten Thursday: Extreme Rules PPV Matches

With the recent reshuffling of the WWE Pay-Per-View schedule, Extreme Rules has been moved behind Payback. With that show on the horizon, it made my decision for this top ten a bit easier. I'm going to rank my top ten matches from Extreme Rules PPVs. They don't have to be of the Extreme Rules stipulation itself, just on the PPV. I'm also not counting One Night Stand event in 2008 that kind of had Extreme Rules as a secondary name. 2009 and beyond! The 2013 edition is the only one to not have a match make the list.

10. WWE World Heavyweight Championship Extreme Rules Match: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kane – Extreme Rules 2014 

I probably liked this match more than some other people. Daniel Bryan getting a sustained run as WWE Champion was a dream come true that turned into a nightmare unfortunately. It started when he was put into a feud with a tired Kane that nobody really took seriously. Add in the awful acting of Brie Bella and you had a recipe for disaster when it came to the buildup to this match. However, when it came time for the actual match to go down, Kane and Daniel Bryan found some of the magic that they had when they were awesome together as Team Hell No. They were wise enough to try and work around Kane’s limitations at his age, putting on a match filled with fun spots. They fought backstage, which we don’t see often anymore, brought into multiple weapons and had a crazy finisher. Bryan used a forklift to bring Kane back to the ring and dove off of it with a headbutt. To top all of the unique spots, they brought a goddamn flaming table into play. That was unheard of in the PG era of WWE. Hell, it was rare in WWE period. A fun match that used the Extreme Rules stipulation very well.

9. Hair Match: CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio – Extreme Rules 2010 

While compiling this list, I came to the conclusion that CM Punk usually managed to perform very well on the Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View. He appears here, later in the list and nearly made it for his outing against Randy Orton at the 2011 version of this show. CM Punk was in full on Straight Edge Messiah mode here and was in the midst of a really good rivalry with Rey Mysterio. The highlight of the feud was Punk singing “happy birthday” to Rey’s daughter in a very creepy segment. Punk lost a disappointing match to Rey at WrestleMania the month before but put his hair on the line in the rematch. This one got the time that Mania didn’t and it was much more fun. The Straight Edge Society got involved, though it may have been a bit too much which kept this from being a great match, but it made sense given the angle. Entering the match, Punk only had Luke Gallows and Serena but a third follower in a mask showed up to swing the momentum. He was revealed to be Joey Mercury and Punk finished Mysterio with the GTS to save his hair. Well, for another month at least since he’d get shaved a month later.

8. WWE Tag Team Championship: Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (c) vs. The New Day – Extreme Rules 2015 

The lone match to make the list from last year’s Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View, though Roman Reigns vs. Big Show came close. Again, this might be a match that I rated higher than most but I love both teams involved. The New Day were dead in the water shortly after their debut because cheesy babyfaces don’t really work often. The crowd quickly turned on them and heading into this, they began to show off more heel tendencies. This was a really good back and forth tag team match without many shenanigans to start. Xavier Woods and Natalya had some interaction at ringside but nothing more. It was just Tyson Kidd, Cesaro, Big E and Kofi Kingston doing damn good things in the ring. Hell, Kidd and Cesaro only being able to team up for about six months is a damn travesty. They looked so comfortable in their new babyface role here. It was a distraction from Woods that allowed Kingston to rollup Cesaro and become the champions. It kick started the incredible run of the New Day for the next year, but at the time, it came across as very shocking since Kidd and Cesaro were gaining momentum.

7. WWE Championship Chicago Street Fight: CM Punk (c) vs. Chris Jericho – Extreme Rules 2012 

Chris Jericho returned on the first Raw of 2012 (in a very, very strange way) and the rumors began running that we’d get CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho at WrestleMania that year. Well, it happened and while I found it to be very good, it came across as a bit disappointing. People wanted a five star classic but it wasn’t in the cards. Jericho chose to target Punk’s straight edge lifestyle and his family history, making things more personal as they headed for a rematch at Extreme Rules. In Punk’s hometown of Chicago, they met in a street fight and right from the start, I was excited because Punk showed up in street clothes. It’s not a big thing but it adds a lot to a street fight in my eyes. Now this wasn’t the all-time classic that fans expected either, but it proved to be a more heated match than Mania and it really fit the street fight feel. Punk had family in the front row, only adding to the ongoing angle. They made sure to include some big spots (like Punk’s elbow through a table) while not overdoing it. Some of the near falls near the end had the crowd losing their minds as the final stretch was great. Punk would eventually retain in one of the better matches from his excellent WWE Title run.

6. WWE Intercontinental Championship No Holds Barred Match: Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Chris Jericho – Extreme Rules 2009

Speaking of Chris Jericho, his crowning moment in Extreme Rules history came at the inaugural event. Entering this, Jericho was in the midst of his incredible run as the slow talking, serious heel. While he had dropped the World Title rather quickly, he was just embarking on a fantastic feud with Rey Mysterio. For a few months, these two made the Intercontinental Title relevant and important once again. This one was held under the No Holds Barred stipulation though it wasn’t a case where they used a ton of weapons or anything like this. It just allowed them to showcase their hatred for one another in a physical form. Throughout the course of this match, Jericho continually tried to remove Mysterio’s mask. Yea, most of us know what he looks like, but an unmasked Rey was unheard of in the WWE. There were a fair amount of reversals, especially near the end, but they saved the best for last. Jericho caught Rey’s 619 and removed his mask in one fell swoop, leading to a win and a record ninth Intercontinental Title reign.

5. World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match: Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian – Extreme Rules 2011 

In a very unfortunate turn of events, Edge was forced to retire after WrestleMania XXVII. Edge was the World Heavyweight Champion at the time so he was forced to forfeit the gold. Most likely, he was set to drop the title to Alberto Del Rio at Extreme Rules after retaining against him at WrestleMania. In his place, we got his best friend Christian battling Del Rio in a ladder match for the gold. Coming into this, everyone assumed Del Rio would win. The WWE had never pulled the trigger on Christian and seemed to have very big plans for the “Mexican Aristocrat”. They still managed to go out and deliver a match filled with drama and close calls that had the crowd on the edge of their seats. This proved to be one of the most overlooked ladder matches in history as people don’t talk about it much but it was arguably the best match of Del Rio’s WWE run and one of the best World Title ladder matches I can recall. Probably only behind another on this list and Jericho/HBK off the top of my head. In a surprising move, Christian pulled down the title to fulfill his dream before celebrating with Edge in an emotional moment.

4. World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match: Edge (c) vs. Jeff Hardy – Extreme Rules 2009 

The string of World Title Ladder matches continues, though ends at two. The rivalry between Edge and Jeff Hardy was certainly a long one. It started as members of tag teams in the very late 90’s and progressed through the years before involving the World Title in 2009. Hardy won the WWE Title at the end of 2008 and quickly dropped it to Edge a month later. Some title switching fuckery happened and Edge ended up with the World Heavyweight Title leading into this match. The video package beforehand billed this as the final battle between them, set to “You’re Going Down” by Sick Puppies. I felt like the match itself worked as a bit of a greatest hits for the guys since the ladder match is synonymous with both men. The fane ate everything up and you got the feeling that both guys really disliked each other. The finish was original and cool as Edge was pulled into the open ladder, leaving him stuck there while Jeff captured the gold. An added moment followed as CM Punk showed up to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase and crush Jeff’s heart.

3. World Heavyweight Championship 2 Out of 3 Falls Match: Sheamus (c) vs. Daniel Bryan – Extreme Rules 2012

Ah, this infamous feud. Sheamus won the 2012 Royal Rumble and faced Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania. Fans expected a really good match but instead got Sheamus winning the title in 18 seconds in front of a crowd that was pretty pro-Bryan. That began the “yes movement” but Bryan would stay heel for a while. At Extreme Rules, we were treated to the Sheamus/Daniel Bryan match that we all wanted. Bryan, being at a significant size disadvantage, used his brains to his advantage as he gave away the first fall via disqualification. Normally you wouldn’t think that was a good idea, but it allowed him to win the second fall via submission almost instantly. Their final fall, though shorter than the first one, proved to be the best part of the match, with both guys going back and forth and trading close calls. Sheamus was able to rally and scored a clean victory over Bryan with the Brogue Kick. This was easily in the top ten matches of Bryan’s WWE career and, as far as I can recall, the best Sheamus match I’ve ever seen.

2. Extreme Rules Match: Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena – Extreme Rules 2012 

In one of the coolest post-WrestleMania Raw moments in history, Brock Lesnar returned after nearly eight years away from the WWE. He went after John Cena instantly and the build for the match saw Brock bust Cena open, setting the stage for what would be an excellent match. Man, this showed the world that this post-UFC Brock was a completely different animal. Brock busted Cena open again, within minutes of the match. Like their SummerSlam 2014 bout, Brock beat the shit out of Cena though it was not as one-sided. Brock wipes Cena’s blood on his chest and just treats the top guy of the company like he’s completely worthless. There was something incredible about watching this and just seeing Cena take a pounding after years of dominating the entire WWE roster. Unfortunately, the one thing that keeps this match from the top of the list was the outcome. Cena did his big comeback and won after the AA on the steel steps. It was and still is baffling that they would make this decision. In my opinion, Brock should still be unbeaten since his return because he shouldn’t have lost here and he damn sure didn’t need to lose to Triple H at WrestleMania 29.

1. Extreme Rules Match: Evolution vs. The Shield – Extreme Rules 2014 

It was pretty obvious that the Shield was the best thing in the WWE during 2013. As the calendar turned to 2014 though, they embarked on a new challenge. Instead of just dominating and outperforming the rest of the company, the Shield would now be tested to see if they’d work as babyfaces. They did and it was simply because they didn’t change anything about themselves except for their targets. They kept everything that made them cool. Anyway, their rivalry with the Authority led to Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton reforming Evolution and leading to a clash of two dominant stables. Like the Shield’s matches earlier in the year against the Wyatt Family, this was tremendous and more than lived up to the hype. Everyone came to perform at a high level, even Batista who was picking back up after struggling early in his return. Seth Rollins stole the show with an insane dive in the crowd that proved to be the most memorable moment of the match. The best thing about this though was that the Shield won, fair and square. They beat the best stable of the past fifteen years and did it again a month later in two standout matches before their eventual split.