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WWE presents Extreme Rules 2014
May 4, 2014

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OOWrestling.com


Well, another month, another "pay"-per-view that I can't watch on a real TV because WWE's shitty permissions on the App. HDMI-out is blocked on all mobile devices, and unlike NetFlix and HBOGo and pretty much every mainstream over-the-top service, the WWE Network will not work on either my Android Dongle Thingie (which is a device invented solely for this purpose of watching "over-the-top" apps on your TV, and it works perfectly for everything BUT WWE Network), nor my tablet when connected via HDMI. My phone is really really old, and doesn't even know what HDMI is, but let's all just assume I'm right about this. YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO WATCH WWE NETWORK ON YOUR FOR-REAL TV~!

Fix this, WWE. Yesterday. Or else.

"Or else, what, Rick?", I hear you asking.

Good question. Or else I'll keep paying $9.95 a month, because the Network is still worth it for tons of hours of Fetish Viewing on my tablet or PC, when I'm away from a TV and just want to kill time on something other than reading-a-book or playing guitar. It's that good. I'm not very good at threats...

But it's still fucking retarded that WWE hasn't addressed this yet. If Netflix changed its permissions like this, the world would explode and their stock price would drop 70% again, like when they dared to raise their fee by $4.
I can't be alone on this, can I? Mobilize, people!!! Threaten carnage!!! Or AM I the only one in this specific viewing scenario, and NOT in possession of a Playstation or XBox (on the grounds that I'm a grown-ass man), nor wanting to pay for a Chromecast Dongle (which I gather DOES work to wirelessly mirror a PC screen to your TV) because I already paid for a similar/superior device that makes my TV a "Smart TV"?

If so, you should all still mobilize. For me. It's the least you can do, people! If WWE wants to be dicks about HDMI-connected phones/tablets, I'll even let that slide (even though it makes ZERO f'n sense so long as they're allowing gaming consoles to connect to TVs), just so long as the entire class of devices that make a TV "smart" are cleared... hell, not even the entire class. Just mine would be fine. It's made by Minix. I think it's a G-5, or Geo-5, I forget. MAKE IT HAPPEN!!! YESTERDAY!!!!
In exchange for your indignant rage directed at WWE's antiquated App Permissions, here's what happened at the just-completed Extreme Rules 2014 pay-per-view:

  • ON THE PRESHOW, El Torito defeats Hornswoggle in a WeeLC Match: The Expert Panel consists of Booker T, Sheamus, and Alex Riley (quarterbacked by Josh Mathews). Doing their best impersonation of the mostly-useless Studio Hosts during every other sporting event, ever, they add nothing to the proceedings.

    Then, it's time for the WeeLC Match. WWE went all in on the concept, including an alternate commentary crew of midgets: "Micro Cole," "Jerry Smaller," and "JBElf." Also: a midget ring announcer and a midget ref.

    The bell rings, and mostly-comedy ensues, with mini-ladders and mini-chairs, and also, with Jinder Mahal being the first full-sized person to feel the wrath of the little fellas. Hornswoggle took control, and promptly added to the "comedy" by being "afraid of heights," on the mini-ladder. The delay allowed Torito to (a) stand up, (b) encourage Swoggle to jump, (c) lay back down in position to tell him "it's totally gonna be OK," and then (d) move out of the way when Swoggle finally jumped. LOW-larious!

    For some reason, they felt the need to insert ads (for other WWE Network shows). When we come back, 3MB and the Matadores are fighting outside the ring. The midgets are still going at it in the ring, and the mininouncers are comparing it to Steamboat/Savage. Swoggle's still in control, and tosses Torito out of the ring, and sets him up on the mini-announce table (complete with removing the mini-monitors). Swoggle comes off the apron with a flying elbow through Torito and the table.

    Crowd: "THIS is AWEsome clap clap clapclapclap."

    Mahal and McIntyre start lending a hand, having dispatched the Matadores, and set up a table for Hornswoggle. Slater tries to help out with a chair, and ends up on the wrong end of it after Torito ducks. Slater through a table. Then, the Matadores get in the ring to counter McIntyre/Mahal, and it all builds up to a massive spot where all four big guys go flying through a table/ladder structure that must have been built during the "ad" break. And once things finally get sorted out, and it's just the little guys in the ring, Torito dazes Swoggle with a chairshot, and then pins him with a springboard seated senton through a table.

    You know what? I was right to be kinda, sorta, almost excited for this match. A workrate classic? Nah. But more than enough action to elevate it from pure comedy to a full-fledged Sports Entertainment Spectacle.

    The preshow finishes up with more zero-value-add video packages and filler.

  • Opening Montage/Theme/Pyro: a lengthy and overly-dramatic clip package focuses on tonight's three top matches. Then, we hit the fireworks, and Cole & The Gange welcome us to No Longer The Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, NJ. And no dawdling, it's right to the ring...

  • Cesaro outlasts Jack Swagger and Rob Van Dam in a Three-Way Match. Standard entrances for Rob Van Dam and Jack Swagger... but then Paul Heyman interrupts Lilian Garcia, to cut a promo on the top of the stage. He starts out by goosing the crowd into cheers by talking about how this is the one night out of the year when WWE "gets it right" and pays homage to The Extreme. But then he turns the cheers into jeers by reciting his "My Client, Brock Lesnar" spiel, and correcting the crowd by telling them that "Hey, Commandment #11 of The Extreme is You Shalt Not Boo Paul Heyman."

    Then he introduces his new client, and we're off. Cesaro and Swagger bury the hatchet for about 30 seconds, to get the better of RVD, but then they both turn on each other at the same moment. That allows Van Dam to recover, and start taking to to both guys, alternately, including a few near falls. Nice little sequence, with RVD believably beating two guys for a while.

    But only a while. It's still 1-on-2, and that just doesn't work in the long run. RVD rallies with a nice sunset flip/powerbomb thinging on Cesaro, causing Cesaro to powder out. Swagger immediately gets the better of it, kicking off a lengthy Swagger/RVD segment. In discussing the value of having a manager/agent/manager/coach, JBL manages to make a Scott Boras reference, except he calls him "Borat." As a man who has called Boras a multitude of bad names, because he truly is a jackwad of a human being, I can still report that that's a new one by me.
    Then again, Borat always made me laugh the most out of all the characters on "Ali G," so I never would have envisioned it as an insult. Why JBL went there, therefore, is even MORE confounding to me!

    Swagger's still in control after a few minutes, when Cesaro finally gets back into the Swing of Things, if you catch my drift. With RVD powdered out, Cesaro hits a few rotations on a Swing, and continues going to town on Swagger, culminating in a superplex.

    But it takes a bit of starch out of Cesaro, so he doesn't make the immediate cover. Instead, RVD comes flying in from out of frame (goddammit do I ever HATE that production trick of using close-ups to create faux drama!! TV wrestling should be MORE like live wrestling, not less!!!! for more details, see my rants in every Royal Rumble Recap ever, and probably 50% of other recaps of multi-way matches) with a Five Star on Swagger's carcass.

    Swagger's pinned, and there's momentary confusion, because the announcers forgot it was elimination rules, not standard Triple Threat rules. But Lilian makes thee announcement that Swagger's eliminated, and now the match continues, and it's all cleared up.

    Van Dam tries to keep things rolling, but almost immediately Cesaro comes up with a vicious uppercut, and starts piling on the power offense. Suplexes and the like.

    A couple minutes of that, then Van Dam hits a big rally, including his apron-to-the-barricade legdrop, and a split legged moonsault. But then RVD gets a little greedy, and goes for a trash can (I guess it's not just elimination rules, but Extreme Rules?). Cesaro wrests control of the trashcan away from RVD, but it's almost like RVD planned it that way, as he spin kicks the trash can back into Cesaro's face.

    Then, RVD puts the trashcan on Cesaro's chest, and goes up top for another Five Star. But Cesaro moves, and RVD gets nothing but the trash can to the ribs. A lightning-quick Neutralizer later, and Cesaro gets the win.

    Really solid, action-packed 15 minute opener, and definitely a convincing showcase win for Cesaro, to boot.

  • Backstage: WWE Champ Daniel Bryan is getting his final check-up with the trainer, when Stephanie McMahon walks in. Bryan isn't happy to see her, and she makes him even less happy when she says that she honestly has no control over The Monster Kane. But she doesn't want Bryan to suffer unnecessarily, so she proposes that Bryan just surrender his WWE Title.

    Bryan tells her to get lost, because he's walking out of Extreme Rules with his WWE Title in tow.

    In a really ham-fisted, writer-y tag, Steph says, "I don't think so. You're going to walk out of Extreme Rules as -- what was it Brie called me last week? -- oh yeah... as Kane's BITCH." Jesus, that was terrible. Bryan sets it up perfectly so that all Steph has to do is say "Walking out with your title? I don't think so. When Kane's done with you, you won't be walking at all." (or similar), and they went with THAT, instead.

  • Alexander Rusev beats R-Truth and Eggsavier Woods in a Handicap Match. So Lana does her best to put a little stank on this affair, by making a superfluous mention of her beloved Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, during her prematch spiel. And while that does get a brief "USA USA USA" chant going, it gives way to a "BORE RING" chant about 30 seconds later, once Truth and Woods hit the ring and the actual match starts.

    As a result, I see no reason to deny the simple fact that we're all adults here, and as such, let's not pretend this was something it wasn't.

    Rusev wins in about 2 minutes, completely dominating R-Truth (after Woods powdered out in the early moments) before getting the win with the Camel Clutch. After the match, Rusev put an exclamation point on it by attacking Eggsavier at ringside, while trainers were checking on him. Even more one-sided than I would have guessed. And remember, I say that as An Adult, so I was guessing it'd be pretty one sided.

  • Backstage: Renee Young interviews Evolution. HHH rambles for a couple minutes, then Orton tags it by stealing the Shield's catchphrase, and telling Renee you can "believe that." They even do the Shield Fist Pose, because they are jerks.

  • Wade Barrett beats Big E to win the InterContinental Title. Barrett enters first, and has some bad news for us, in the form of referencing the recent arrival of the MERS virus here in the US, and extrapolating further that, as deadly as it is, it's still nothing compared to the debilitating beating he's about to put on Big E.

    Out of the gates, the crowd fires up a big "BAD NEWS" chant, boos Big E's initial outburst of power moves, and then adds a "BAD NOOSE BARE YET clap clap clapclapclap" chant. The match spills outside, and Wade finally takes control by dodging a charge, causing E to crash into the barricade. Wade follows up with an apron-to-the-floor elbow, then takes it back inside the ring.

    Standard heel beatdown sequence commence-u-lates. No real specific target by Barrett, but just a lot of striking. Mostly knees and kicks. But when he gets cocky, and preens a bit (doing the hands-raised Rocky Balboa Boxing Shuffle), Big E dodges a charge and hits an overhead suplex. Then a belly-to-belly suplex. Then his Engulfening Tackle sends Wade to the floor.

    Then, a huge kickass spot, where Wade gets up on the apron, and Big E gets a running start, and dives through the ropes to Spear Barrett to the floor (landing hard, himself). Awesome (though the crowd didn't really give E as much love as I would have).

    Big E takes it back into the ring, and sets up for his Criss Cross Warrior Splash, but Barrett gets up on the second criss-cross, and catches E with the Winds of Change sideslam. A little more back-and-forthy, then another near fall for Barrett after Wastelands. Barrett calls for the Bullhammer, but E ducks it and hits a HUGE clothesline, instead.

    Warrior Splash hits this time. Two count. Big E takes down thes trap, and goes for the Big Ending... but Wade sneaks out the back door, and shoves E into the turnbuckle. Big E is dazed, but ducks the first Bullhammer attempt, but Wade powers through, and bounces back off the ropes with a second Bullhammer. This time, it hits.

    New InterContinental Champion! Barrett wins a solid 8 minute match that probably suffered a bit -- atmosphere-wise -- from an audience that was not buying into Big E, at all, and thus, was nonresponsive until the finish. Oh well... I liked it.

  • The Shield defeats Evolution in a kick-ass six-man tag match. Huh, I sort of had this one pegged for the main event spot... and not because Hunter's a egomaniacal powerbroker. Because it actually sort of felt like the biggest deal on the card.

    Evolution enters first, and definitely has some fans. Or more likely, they just have tenure, and are getting the "respect pop." Shield hits the ring, through the crowd, and we get a three-on-three staredown. The ref tries to enforce the Rule of Law, but it breaks down into a Pier Sixer immediately: the staredown ends, and the Shield charge Evolution. Shield wins the brawl.

    Evolution chickenshits their way out of the ring to regroup. All three get up onto the apron, but the ref is still asking for a Legal Start to the match. So HHH steps into the ring, and Rollins decides to join him. The other four take up their spots in the corners, and the ref finally rings the bell to officially start the match.

    Rollins gets out of the blocks fast, but when HHH ducks out of the ring, Rollins follows, and is the victim of your textbook "cat and mouse role reversal" spot. HHH stomps Rollins down when they head back to the ring, and then makes a quick tag to Batista, who in turn hits a big clothesline, and tags in Orton.

    Evolution is turning the tables on the Shield, with superlative execution of the frequent tags and cuttingtheringinhalfery. It's the voodoo the the Shield used to do so well, over the past 18 months, but tonight, they're on the receiving end of it.

    After five full minutes of this, Rollins finally creates separation by powering out of a chinlock (by Orton, duh) and turning it into a backdrop suplex. HHH and Batista run interference, foiling Rollins' first dive to his corner. But then Rollins surprises Orton with an enziugiri counter, and gets the tag to Ambrose on his second dive.

    Ambrose manages to fend off all three members of Evolution during his flurry of offense, and then, when he locks the Figure Four on Orton (remember, Ric Flair endorsed Evolution on Monday, no matter how shittily he did it!), it's another quick Pier Sixer when Evolution triple-teams him to break the hold. The ref (as all good refs must do) is completely obsessed with making the Good Guys get out of the ring, allowing the Bad Guys to cheat. Ergo, Orton escapes the hold, and then, as soon as the ref turns back around, makes the tag to Batista.

    And so we begin a second heel beatdown, this time, with Ambrose as the face in peril. And of course, with more excellent teamwork by Evolution. This time around, the crowd amuses itself by getting on Batista's case whenever he tags in, with both "You Can't Wrestle" and "BOO TEEST TA" chants. The former's really not true, but Batista has a certain fresh scent of Hollywood Douche on him, so I still get it; but really, wankers, the latter is just fricking lame. Why is it even A Thing?

    After another solid 3-4 minutes, Ambrose gets separation from HHH, thanks to a DDT. No screwing around this time: Ambrose gets the hot tag to Reigns on his first dive. HHH makes the corresponding move to Batista.

    Reigns is a house o' fire, matching power with Batista, and then fending off all of Evolution when they try to interfere. Awesome spot where Reigns ducks a clothesline by Orton (outside the ring), but then keeps sprinting and hits his big Leaping Apron Dropkick Thingie on Batista. Then, a Superman Punch on Batista.

    Ambrose and Rollins join in, and hit a Triple Powerbomb on Batista, but Orton and HHH attack, and take out Reigns first, then the other two. HHH hits a spinebuster on Reigns, and drags Batista's carcass onto Reigns. Two count.

    Another Pier Sixer breaks out. This time, it's serious. I mean, really serious. And also, awesome, and not just because Lilian Garcia was getting scared by all of the brawling in the Timekeeper's Cubicle, and started climbing up onto the barricade in a manner that allowed us to look up her skirt, a bit. Although, that didn't hurt. I likes me some Lilian. [Mostly because she really is excellent at finding the correct fulcrum in the Sexy vs. Slutty battle. But also partly because she's the last WWE babe who's older than me, and I refuse to become a Dirty Old Man. If Lilian ever gets ousted, prepare for me to get a huge bOOner for Layla for reasons that are only partly due to age-appropriateness.]

    But what really got us kicked up into high gear was the HHH/Orton vs. Rollins brawl in the Cubicle, which ended with Ambrose getting a running start on the Spanish Announce Table, across the Regular Announce Table, and finally diving onto both HHH and Orton in the cubicle, driving them through the barricade.  Suh-weet.

    Reigns and Batista are still in the ring, periodically doing moves to knock each other down, but the other four brawl into the crowd with MORE awesome results. Rollins powders out, and Orton/HHH go to town on Ambrose, even sending him down a set of stairs for a nasty bump. But then, as they are double teaming him, Rollins shows back up again, diving off the mezzanine, with a crossbody block. Holy Shit, that ruled.

    Conveniently, Batista and Reigns are stirring again in the ring, just as the other four are all out of it. Batista with a spinebuster. Then, he calls for the BatistaBomb... but instead, Reigns counters, and hits another Superman Punch. Batista gets up from that, and walks right into a Spear. One, two, and three.

    The Shield win, and I'm more convinced than ever that this probably should have been the main event. That was just outstanding. A full 25 minutes, about 15 of it utilizing basic tag team psychology and format (albeit, very well executed) and then 10 minutes of just incredible brawling that busted out some crazy tricks not seen all that often these days in TV-PG WWE. Trust me, I think I conveyed how good things were, but my narrative missed a shitton of really cool spots... you just have to go see this one.

    I'd give my standard "youtube it" endorsement, but at this point, there's really no reason why you should be a wrestling fan who isn't paying $9.95 a month for WWE Network. Well... then again, I'm all too aware of the depressingly small percentage of readers who help me keep OO's bills paid with voluntary donations. Perhaps y'all just get off on getting awesome shit for free, instead of paying even a microscopic fee for it. In which case, youtube away! It'll be readily available, illegally, by the time you read this.

    After the match, Reigns quickly eschews the ref's attempt to raise his hand so he can go join his mates, out in the crowd. A nice touch comes as Ambrose can't even stand, so Reigns actually has to fireman-carry him after they manage a quick Fist Pose. Ambrose is a great off-kilter heel in the Pillman/Roberts mold, but lately, he's also done a great job at garnering sympathy by acting near-death after tough matches. [He even did it once on Main Event, a/k/a The Show No One Even Watches, so his effort was doubly-appreciated in that case.]

  • Bray Wyatt beats John Cena in a Cage Match. Well, at least that settles the issue of which match will be the main event... which is weird, since honestly, Bryan/Kane really was the least of these three, to me. It's just the "get healthy" booster match to kick off Bryan's title reign before he starts facing real challengers (such as Orton, who I'm assuming is up next). Meantime, Evolution's reunion seemed like a huge deal, and Wyatt's mindgames with WWE's franchise player came across really well, too.

    But hey, the decision isn't mine, and it's already been made, so let's just roll with the punches.

    Cena enters first. Wait: the Cage enters first (to the standard "Theme From Cage Lowering"). Then Cena. Cena's entrance theme immediately gets the crowd singing "John Cena Sucks" along with the trumpet fanfare. Then the lantern is lit. They're here. The lantern is blown out. They enter.

    Bray has a quick sit-down in his rocking chair, but then saunters around the ring, goosing the crowd into louder and louder cheers, before finally entering the cage. Harper and Rowan remain, and loiter about ringside as the match starts.

    The announcers talk about the crowd response, acknowledging the positive response for Wyatt. Cole tries to sell it as simple "anti-establishment" sentiment, and fans don't always go for the pre-packaged hero. JBL says it's not that easy, and that if Wyatt wasn't selling something they wanted, they wouldn't be buying it. He's doing something right, sayeth JBL. I agreeeth.

    For his part, Bray actually starts playing to the crowd early on. Cena tried to control things with basic headlocks and such. Bray would counter that by doing naughty things with the cage, including the classic Cheese Grater spot with Cena's face. Then, he'd acknowledge the cheers, and even start conducting the crowd when they starting singing "He's Got the Whole World."

    The Family pause the loitering long enough for a spot where Bray held Cena's face against the cage, and then Rowan got a running start and dove into the cage, making a Cena Sandwich. Nice bit o' business.

    Cena mounted an comeback when Wyatt played to the crowd while (slllooooooooooooooowwwwwlllyyyyyy) heading towards the cage door. After clubbering Bray from behind and hitting a few more moves, Cena decided to exit the cage... but Harper and Rowan are standing guard by the door. There's no way Cena's getting out the door, so long as they're there. So he makes an attempt by climbing out over the top. But he had to slow his descent when Harper and Rowan loiter over to that side of the ring.

    The delay allowed Bray to join Cena on top of the cage, and to to halt his escape. Cena wound up tumbling back down to the mat, and Wyatt wound up back in control. This included his Ragdoll Ballroom Dancing Spot, and more singing from the crowd.

    Cena tried to make another climb-out escape, but when he got to the top of the cage, Wyatt popped up into Exorcist Crabwalk Position, and started crabwalking to the door. Cena had to come down to put a stop to that. But Bray sort of seemed to see that coming, and popped up and caught Cena, regaining control.

    Cena makes another comeback, this time, building up to a Five Knuckle Shuffle. He goes for the F-U (remember, as much as we've talked about escapes, pinfalls also count), but Bray counters by grabbing the cage. Wyatt pulls himself up onto the top rope, but Cena re-counters by turning it into a powerbomb.

    Only a two count. So Cena decides to try to escape again. This time, he figures he'll try the door, despite the two large men standing guard. Cena manages to kick Harper in the face, and it's now only Rowan. They engage in a sort of "push-of-war," and Cena's about to win, but Harper gets up and joins back in. The two-on-one means Cena can't force the door open, and goes back to Bray.

    He plants Wyatt with a wacky tackle/slam combo, then tries a climb-out escape. Rowan stops that by climbing up to join Cena on top, and chucks Cena back into the ring.

    Cena drops Wyatt again, and tries climbing out the other side. This time, Harper climbs up and joins Cena on top of the cage. But Cena is adapting. This time, he just yanks Harper over the top of the cage, and sends him tumbling to the mat below. It'd probably be illegal, or something, except Cena did it, himself.

    Now, Wyatt's still down, Rowan's still down, and Harper's freshly down. Cena's still on top of the cage, and decides to complete his escape by climbing out... except Rowan recovers, grabs a chair, and scares Cena into climbing back into the cage.

    Bray and Harper have both recovered a bit, but Cena still fights the two of them off, making Harper eat cage, and then refocusing on Wyatt. The two men wind up climbing up the cage together... and after jockeying for position, they are both standing on the top rope. and Cena hits a huge Atomic F-U.

    But when he goes for the pinfall, Harper breaks it up. Wyatt's toast, so Cena drops Luke, and then tries to make another escape. He quickly joined on top of the cage by Rowan. Cena wins the top-of-cage battle, ramming Rowan's head into the cage frame. Then, he leaps off the top rope and hits Harper with the leg drop to the back of the head.

    And remember, Wyatt's still out after the top rope F-U.

    So Cena walks towards the door. He asks the ref to open the door. He steps one leg out of the ring.


    The lights go out.

    When they come back on, a kiddie in a choir robe is standing on the ring steps, singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" -- with a creepy audio effect -- and with the deadest of dead looks in his eyes. Cena is creeped the hell out, and takes a step back.

    And walks right into Sister Abigail.

    Wyatt doesn't bother making a cover, and instead walks to the cage door, where the kiddle smiles and allows Bray to make his escape. The crowd gets in a quick verse of "He's Got the Whole World." But then, Wyatt's music hits, and Bray makes a victorious exit from the ringside area, while the kiddie reaches up and holds hands with Harper and Rowan on their way up the ramp.

    I've used this phrase a lot in reference to Bray Wyatt, but I'll use it again: pitch perfect storytelling here. As a match, I don't know if it was all that great; I'm just not a fan of cage matches that are predicated on 20 minutes of cage escape tease/reset/another cage escape tease/lather/rinse/repeat, but in this case, it did all build up to a really neat finish that only further builds up Bray's character.

    I'll take it.

  • Paige beats Tamina Snuka to retain the Women's Title. Tamina enters first, and is apparently now a redhead. The champ enters second, and is still just about the world's cutest albino.
    Tamina tries to use size and power to start, but Paige matches that with fire and fighting spirit. And also, a Primal Scream (tm, PyroFalkon) or two.

    Paige's unexpected strong start ends when she goes to the top, and Tamina catches her with a kick to the face. Paige tumbles all the way from the top turnbuckle to the floor.

    The beatdown continues, as required by The Formula, and includes one really wicked spot: when the match spills outside, Paige ducks an attack and tries to hit a rana, but instead, Tamina catches Paige and spins her around (giant swing-style) until she crashes into the barricade. It's a spot Cesaro has done in his matches, and it's just as effective and sympathy-inducing here.

    Match gets back in the ring, and the beatdown STILL continues. Paige gets one hope spot where the ref screws up and counts three after a simple crossbody (or something along those lines). But the ref then changed his mind, and the match continued.

    Another minute or so later, Paige makes her for-reelz comeback, and locks Tamina in the Scorpion Crosslock. Fin.

    I'll never complain about women's matches getting a full 6-7 minutes to play out, but I WILL point out that every time Pyro makes the "What is this, SHIMMER?" joke, the reason why it doesn't QUITE ring true is because WWE doesn't have enough Smarkish Wanker Fans to create a Big Match Atmosphere when a full-length women's match breaks out. Hopefully, that will change if WWE continues to feature ring-capable women fighting over the belt... but for now, you could feel the apathy as Tamina's lengthy beatdown went on, because either (a) fans just didn't care, or (b) fans didn't believe Tamina was actually capable of winning. Or possibly, both.

    I think getting AJ back for her Obligatory Rematch (and with a compelling storyline for her comeback) will do wonders. Also, Emma's actually a lot better than the Clumsy Hottie she plays on TV. And I won't even tease you by talking about how fond I am of Bayley (down in NXT).

  • Sheep Mask Freeze Frame: we cut to a dark room backstage (or wherever it is the Wyatts live). Bray commends "Little Johnny" on a job well done, and says this is the beginning of the end for John Cena. Wyatt's message has never been more clear, and he'll keep spreading it. And what's that message, Little Johnny? "Follow the buzzards." Bray hands Johnny a sheep mask, and the kiddie puts it on, as Harper and Rowan each put a supportive hand on his shoulders.

  • Daniel Bryan defeats Kane in an Extreme Rules Match to retain the WE Title. For some reason, the champ enters first. Huge pop for Bryan.

    Oh wait. I see, now.  Bryan entered first so he sprint out of the ring the second Kane's music hit, and attack Kane at the top of the ramp. No Boxing Style intros tonight! [Dammit, that's too bad. I could have gotten MORE Lilian. For some reason, she's worked the entire show, not just the more SD-centered matches. I want to say this happened at Elimination Chamber, too. Does Justin Roberts not work Sundays, anymore? Not that I'm complaining!]

    Anyway, this decision has nothing to do with depriving me of more of Lilian's Little Black Dress, and everything to do with illustrating what a fiesty little bastard Daniel Bryan is. He's still nursing injuries, he's outweighed by 100 lbs., and he's still taking the fight to his opponent.

    But when you get right down to it, being 7 foot tall and 300 lbs trumps being fiesty every time. Including this time. After a short flurry, Bryan is on the wrong-end of an ass-kicking, courtesy of Kane.

    This includes all the usual ringside furniture, since it is an "Extreme Rules" match. Bryan tries to get back in the match by grabbing a kendo stick from under the ring. Kane is having none of that happy crappy, and basically yanks the cane out of Bryan's hands, and continues the ass-kicking.

    Bryan finally gets some traction a couple minutes later, after using Kane's own steel chair against him, and following up with a Missile Dropkick, and then using the kendo stick to good effect, finally.

    But said hope spot is snuffed out when Bryan starts prepping the Spanish Announce Table for something. Kane regains his full faculties, and clubbers Bryan from behind. Kane then preps the Regular Announce Table, and gets up on the Spanish Announce Table with Bryan.... he's setting up for a chokeslam through the other table.

    But Bryan fights out with elbows, and manages to dump Kane off the table, and follow up with a Tornado DDT. But again, his rally ends abruptly when Kane makes use of the ring steps.

    Kane keeps the heat on, until Bryan finds another kendo stick under the ring. Bryan swings away with wild abandon, and Kane can do nothing but retreat a step with every swing. Finally, the two end up at the top of the ramp, where Kane has finally had enough. He blocks a cane shot, hits an uppercut, and then tosses Bryan into one of the giant LED screens.

    Then, Kane drags Bryan all the way to the backstage area. There's a break while a camera "catches up" to them, and then we rejoin the action. Kane is tossing Bryan into various electrical equipment, creating sparks, and then takes the fight all the way out into the parking lot.

    When it does, Bryan manages to mount another rally by chucking Kane into the giant WWE Production Semi. Hilariously, NOW is when Ref Chioda decides to assert his authority by meekly suggesting, "C'mon, Bryan, let's take it back to the ring."

    Bryan isn't interested in heading back to the ring. Kane hiptosses Bryan onto the hood of a car, as Bryan has his witty repartee with Chioda. But when Kane tries to punch Bryan, Bryan ducks, and Kane's fist goes through the car window. Ouch. [Luckily, he apparently informed someone of his plans to do so beforehand, because the glass broke, and he didn't get "Goldberg'd."]

    With Kane nursing his hand, Bryan reached into the trunk of the car, and pulled out a tire iron. When Kane finally recovered enough to come back at Bryan, Bryan swung and KO'd the Monster with said tire iron.

    Kane's completely unconscious, but NOW we understand why Chioda so incongruously suggested heading back to the ring: you can't win the match backstage. And Bryan's not big enough to carry Kane's carcass all the way back.

    So Bryan spies a nearby forklift and has an idea: he clocks Kane with the tire iron one more time, for good measure, then load Kane onto a pallette. Then he forklifts the pallatte up, and drives Kane to the ring....

    He dumps Kane's body into the ring, and then climbs up onto the elevated pallate to hit a super-atomic Divebomb Headbutt. But it only gets a two.

    Bryan starts leading the crowd in a "YES! YES! YES!" chant, in anticipation of the running knee strike... but Kane does a Zombie Sit-Up, instead, and Bryan walks into a chokeslam.

    Kane grabs a chair, and sets up for a Tombstone onto said chair... but Bryan counters by sliding out and hitting a DDT onto the chair. Only a two.

    Bryan starts peppering Kane with chairshots to the back and shoulder, and Kane finally crumbles into a helpless heap on the mat. Damage was done to the left shoulder, and Bryan takes advantage by locking in the YES! Lock on the left arm.

    But there's a kendo stick within reach of Kane's right arm. He manages to grab it, and flails it in the general direction of Bryan's head...

    But instead, Bryan grabs the stick, and uses it to crossface Kane (Benoit-style), and yank back even harder on Kane's neck. Kane's only option is to head for the ropes.... but it's Extreme Rules, which means there's no rope break!

    So Kane, instead, grabs the apron, and tries to pull himself out to the floor. Bryan decides to release the hold, and let him, instead stepping back, with designs on hitting the Flying Goat Dive.... but Kane catches him in mid-air, and turns it around into a chokeslam THROUGH THE ANNOUNCE TABLE. Nice.

    Kane goes under the ring and grabs a table. He sets it up at ringside.

    Then, he goes BACK under the ring, and comes up with a gasoline can.

    Holy shit.

    He lights the table on fire.

    He gets up on the apron and gestures (Broadly) that he will use This Hand to chokeslam Bryan through the Flaming Table.

    But as soon as Kane steps one foot through the ropes, Bryan gets a running start and hits the Running Knee, sending Kane flying off the apron and through the flaming table.

    Production crew members materialize out of nowhere and immediately shoot off fire extinguishers. Bryan pounces, and tosses Kane into the ring, hits another Running Knee, and makes the pin. One, two, and three. Bryan retains.

    OK, I'll eat crow: you can't use a flaming table on the mid-card. I was wrong, WWE was right. No matter how awesome Shield/Evolution was, that final spot HAD to go on last. I could be a dick and point out that they used a camera angle where you could pretty much tell that only the two ends of the table were on fire, and the middle was "safe," but I'm not That Guy. Because it's still f'n FIRE, people. And that spot was a satisfying pay-off to a match that I think most fans probably knew had an inevitable outcome...

    A full 20 minutes, all kinds of bells and whistles, and completely unlike any Bryan match ever... I'd rather see Bryan back to having HIS kind of good matches, sooner than later, but as a one-PPV abberation, you absolutely can't do anything but enjoy it.

    After the match, Bryan celebrated for a bit, but not as much as I would have thought (especially since the match ended at 10:40pm eastern)... he heads up the aisle, at which point, Kane does the Zombie Sit-Up, and shoots off more stage pyro, to make sure we get the message that he just WENT THROUGH FIRE, and still retains all his powers.

    Bryan has the belt, but the PPV fades to black with Kane's music playing and Bryan looking vaguely concerned...

And so ends the show. It's a show that was different in the details, but overall, delivered the basic entertainment value I expected. There were issues in the build-up, and it was pretty much a 3-match card (as was witnessed by audience apathy or insubordination for all but 3 matches), and Evolution/Shield was the best of the bunch. And Cena/Wyatt was less about OMG WORKRATE, but still hit all the perfect storyline notes.
If something caught me off-guard, it's the extremes to which Bryan and Kane went to entertain. Didn't see that coming. But I think that MIGHT be offset by the uncomfortable feeling that I have that, after that sign-off, WWE is building to a Bryan/Kane rematch, instead of moving on. And THAT's where I might not quite be on board.
I liked Bryan vs. Kane as a one-off "booster" match to launch Bryan's title reign against a "disposable" challenger. Then, it's on to real business. And I'm not saying that to belittle Kane... I'm just saying that WWE can't spend 6 months treating Kane the way they did, and then try to pretend that he's NOT a "disposable" storyline prop. That's THEM creating that impression of Kane, not ME inventing it.
As such, I think Kane did an amazing job of serving his purpose tonight. I look forward to him serving additional purposes in the future. But "main eventer that I can believe will win the WWE Title" is not that purpose. I also suspect I'm not the only one who feels this way, and WWE would meet resistence if they go that route.
Not saying they WILL go that route, but given Kane's Sit-Up and Pyro Burst, I'm still thinking they might. We'll see.
Otherwise: highest possible endorsement to Evolution/Shield. It might even be my Match of the Year, to date. I'll have to get at least one re-watch in before I confirm that, but it's at least in the discussion after one viewing. Just spectacular effort, combined with a Big Match Atmosphere, resulting in awesomeness.
Cena/Wyatt was good enough, with an electric finish. Barrett looked convincing in the start of his IC Title reign, even if the audience cold-shouldered the match. Cesaro adds another up and coming heel who's looking damned strong, after his win. Full length women's match that played to Paige's strengths. And let's not sleep on the WeeLC Match!
DIGRESSION: As I type this, I've got the Post-Show on in the background, and they're doing the cheesy "press conference" deal again, despite the lack of letting legitimate press ask questions. But I mention it because they're showing the Shield's press conference, and Ambrose just made me laugh when asked about Flair's "endorsement" on Monday. His response: "Yeah, I don't even know what he said. He's an old guy and gets lost in his own little world sometimes. But I think he tried to say that when he thinks of Excellence, like what the Horsemen used to be, he thinks of the Shield. Which is pretty cool, I guess." I'll use the phrase again, because that was Pitch Perfect, both in terms of Ambrose's overall character, and acknowledging what a turd Flair dropped on Monday.
So yeah, I can't complain about Extreme Rules 2014 in any significant way. I got my $9.95 worth, easy. Except for the part about not being able to use Technology to watch on a full size TV, which is pretty indefensible.
Still, we're in the Afterglow Phase, given that spending $50 per month for this is still fresh in my memory, and I find the new arrangement altogether more enjoyable.
So let's call it a Thumbs Up. I'll see you all again in 24 hours, with the RAW Recap. At least, it's still my plan to have it be 24 hours. If I get sidetracked by -- ironically enough -- "24," that might change, but as of now, I'm thinking I'll keep Jack's return saved back to watch on DVR, and make sure I've got the RAW Recap posted before midnight.
As always, you know how to thank me for my dilligence, right? I knew you did. Thanks in advance to the generous minority who chip in. And I'll see all of you tomorrow!


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RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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