Impressive card aside, the big story leading into this PPV event was the breaking news that Daniel Bryan wouldn’t be medically cleared to compete in the Intercontinental Championship match against Bad News Barrett that was planned for the night. It tragically echoed Daniel Bryan’s situation last year in which he was able to compete at Extreme Rules, but shortly after was forced to relinquish the Heavyweight Championship due to the injury that would sideline him for the remainder of the year. I hope he takes the time he really needs to fully recover and comes back 100% percent so he doesn’t have to suffer anymore setbacks like this. Furthermore, I hope it isn’t an injury that will take him out permanently as his passion for pro wrestling is evident in everything that he does. I wish him well..
That brings us to the event. For the kick-off show, Bryan’s opponent Bad News Barrett was granted a replacement opponent in up and coming NXT golden child, ‘The Man That Gravity Forgot’, Neville. The crowd was white hot for the match, and for good reason, to me it qualified for match of the night and I wish it could have been featured on the main card. Neville fully displayed his strongest points in his high flying style the likes of which we haven’t seen in a good long while, his moveset is definitely awe inspirig and I’m predicting he’ll be able to mesh his in ring style well with anybody. The match was booked so well, in the sense they had me thinking Neville would actually come up short in the match, suspenseful offense from Barrett. Missed bullhammer after missed bullhammer. Ultimately, Neville was able to gain the upper hand and hit his amazing finisher The Red Arrow to get the pin, and earn an insane pop from the always entertaining Chicago crowd. Hopefully this leads to a great future for Neville.
Next up we had Dean Ambrose face off against Luke Harper in a Chicago Street Fight. Dean Ambrose comes out to a massive pop, the match is underway and shortlived, and a bit underwhelming (save for a few entertaining moments). At least for the first half of the match. First half you say? A few minutes into the match the action spilled into the backstage area, where eventually Luke Harper hijacked an SUV and took it for a joyride into the Chicago streets. With Ambrose as his unwanted passenger. It left the crowd and the announce table a bit baffled, what else was there to do but to get to the Kiss My Arse match? Before that though, there was more great story development in the Kane/Seth Rollins saga, in which Kane has been thoroughly entertaining. And it paid off later in the night in a way.
Seeing Sheamus as a heel again has been refreshing, he returned with a look that brought a new dimension to his character, new theme, and new attitude. He was smug, talking trash all through his offence in his match against Ziggler and it made me look forward to Ziggler’s inevitable victory, which he won ultimately with a roll-up that caught Sheamus unawares. Now came the moment of truth which Sheamus avoided with all his might. His tactics and his arrogance backfired on him, and as Ziggler pulled his tights to the side, he reminded Sheamus that he was the one who wanted this stipulation. But did we really expect for Sheamus to be a man of honor? Instead he granted Ziggler a low blow and rubbed Ziggler’s face into his own pale posterior. An entertaining match, an even more entertaining aftermath, and we know this isn’t over.
One of the matches of the night for me was the Tag Team Championship match. I love how New Day has taken to social media to begin their heel turn, and I love how they have milked their crowd reactions for all they’re worth. This match has turned the team of Cesaro/Tyson Kidd into faces by default, and the ferocity of Cesaro’s in ring performance last night matched that. I would not want to be on the receiving end of one of Cesaro’s brutal uppercuts, of which he had plenty to give in the match. Another great spot was a spear by Big E through the middle rope onto Tyson Kidd that spent both men flying to the floor. There were a bunch of brutal falls to the floor in this match as a matter of fact, and each man got his time to shine. Also, the crowd wanted the swing and they got it. Along with a brutal low drop kick by Tyson Kidd mid-swing. It looks like they had the match one. But a few interferences later, Kingston was able to catch Cesaro with a roll up, holding the tights, and win the New Day the Tag Team Championships.
In the middle of a brilliantly scathing backstage victory interview with New Day, a familiar black SUV literally crashed the party. That’s right, Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper once again grace us with their presence. No count outs allowed this match to continue at it spilled back into the arena where a shitload of chairs were introduced. Dean ‘The Lunatic’ Ambrose was ultimately able to get the upper hand and gain a pin with dirty deeds. The only thing that would have contributed to the angle for this match, was to have the second half of it even later into the event. But it was brilliantly booked anyway.
I don’t know if it’s because I am convinced Rusev will not be the one to eventually take the US title off John Cena’s hands, but I just couldn’t get into the Russian Chain Match. I mean the most compelling element of it for me was the seeds being planted for an inevitable split between Lana and Rusev, but it leads one to wonder what is next for Lana when that happens. Anyway, the match was decent enough, some great offense, some close calls. But the suspense wasn’t there. You were just waiting for Cena to emerge victorious. I will say this, the ending of the match was booked wonderfully with both men getting to three corners, until it was a race for the last corner. One AA later and Cena retains the US championship. In an I admit groan inducing development, a rematch between the two has been booked for next month at Payback, and it will be an I Quit match. It was also dubbed the final chapter of the feud. So there’s that.
The Divas Championship match confused me a bit. One second I know Nikki Bella as a despicable annoying heel, then last night I see her smiling and blowing kisses to the crowd. Her opponent was a fresh heel in Naomi, who attacked Paige (the rightful contender) to replace her in the match. The match was slow paced, but the length of the match was impressive. It didn’t feel like a throw away. I also stand by my stance that Nikki Bella is more talented in the ring than I think a lot of people give her credit for. She has passion while she’s in there. Now here is where the confusion comes back, Naomi was built up as a heel in this match, and then Nikki retains the title thanks to intereference from Brie. Was this a heel vs. heel match? I don’t know. Nikki was just the lesser evil for the night? Until that finish anyway.
Now what shocked the hell out of me, is that hands down Roman Reigns and Big Show completely stole the show when all was said and done. I will admit I am not entertained by Roman Reigns when he is in front of a microphone, but as far back as Fast Lane I have been impressed by his ability to put on a good match. Tonight was no different. Tables played a big part in this Last Man Standing match. Reigns tried to employ them from the get go, and in brilliant booking, Big Show wanted no part of it. He’s a giant dammit, he doesn’t need no stinking tables. But that couldn’t last forever, eventually they came into play. Big Show slammed head first into a few, Reigns was chokeslammed to the outside onto two (that he said up, btw). Close count after close count, they really played up that this match could have gone either way. BOOM! A spear by Reigns into the security railing spelled doom for Big Show. But he would not die, even after another spear onto the spanish announce table that was our ‘Holy Shit’ moment of the night. But in the end, Reigns had to resort to pinning Big Show under another announce table to earn the ten count and the victory. And well deservedly, there were considerable less boos as Reigns held up his hands in victory.
Two sagas have been unfolding leading up to the nights main event. An angle where both men got to choose stipulations led to addition of the steel cage and the banning of the RKO. But that is just a fraction of Seth Rollins problems, he’s also had to deal with trouble in the ranks of the Authority, namely Kane, who believes he’s a spoiled child who didn’t really earn the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Truth be told, I’ve seen better cage matches, but these two men work very well together, they have great chemistry and it was a great main event. The real story was when the shit hit the fan and Kane became involved in the match. As Orton and Rollins both attempted to get out of the cage, he slammed the cage door into the heads of both men. He entered the ring, and was obviously wrestling with conflicted feelings. So naturally, he chokeslams both men. But feelings where Rollins is concerned aside, he wants to be loyal to the Authority, so with both men out cold he drags Rollins over Orton’s prone body. Kick-out. Kane moves in to finish the job and gets an RKO for his trouble, Rollins in turn hits an RKO on Orton to escape the cage and retain. Rollins does what he wants, the Authority is backing him, so I see no consequences for a stipulation broken by a top heel. Instead, I think Kane will have a few things to answer for tonight on RAW.
Overall Extreme Rules 2015 grade: B+