WWE’s first pay-per-view after WrestleMania XXX wasn’t extreme in name alone, but with the match ups and action living up to expectations.
The night got off to a great start with the Triple Threat Elimination match between Rob Van Dam, Jack Swagger and new rising star, ‘Paul Heyman Guy’ Cesaro. It was a great, energetic way to kick off the event with the right man in Cesaro picking up the victory. In recent months, ‘The Swiss Superman’ has been on a pathway straight to the top especially with his top class performances at ‘Mania but also every Monday night. Now with Paul Heyman in his corner, he has the man and the mouthpiece to take him to the top level in WWE.
Up next was the squash handicap match between newcomer Alexander Rusev and the team of R-Truth and Xavier Woods. There was nothing much to report as Rusev’s push is continued. Rusev (who now resides from Russia and not Bulgaria because the writers thought of a better way to get heat) and Lana were dedicating their match to Russian President, Vladimir Putin; “the most powerful man in the world” and man who they admire. Anyone who has a problem with this and don’t understand why WWE would highlight Putin in light of recent events don’t quite get it. You are meant to feel that way, his mention is meant to entice more hate (or heat) towards him, and make you dislike him. Either way expect a few more squash matches from Alexander Rusev.
The first title match of the evening saw the Intercontinental championship on the line as Bad News Barrett took on reigning champion Big E. It was a solid match with both putting in good performances, however like before the right man won and the man from Preston, England walked out new champion. When Wade Barrett unveiled this new ‘Bad News’ gimmick, like many I was not a fan and couldn’t believe they put an awful character on top of what was already a well established grappler like Barrett. However his dedication to the gimmick has seen not only great TV time, which is always crucial, but also clean victories over the likes of Sheamus and now a championship.
WWE is at dire straits with their two sub-card championships, with no real attention or gravitase given to either the Intercontinental or United States titles; the U.S. has been welded to Dean Ambrose with sparing defences. Taking nothing away from Big E, hopefully Wade Barrett or Bad News Barrett (hopefully for not much longer, but can keep the catchphrase) can restore the importance of the Intercontinental championship, whilst continuing to climb the ladder that will inevitably take Wade the top tier in WWE and give his character main-event status.
In my own personal opinion the wrong match came next as The Shield took on the establishment, the authority, Evolution. This one was definitely the match of the night and was executed perfectly by all six competitors, playing to their individual strengths. As expected, the match played to the rise of Roman Reigns, whether it be finally getting the tag after Evolution wore down Ambrose and Rollins or ultimately scoring the victory by pinning Batista. Taking nothing away from the other hounds of justice who put in stellar performances and proved they too can ‘wrassle’ with the buy guys. A big time moment in the match saw Seth Rollins dive from the stands onto both Orton and HHH, who with Ambrose had found their way into the crowds leaving Batista alone to face defeat. The arrival of Reigns is imminent.
John Cena and Bray Wyatt in the steel cage followed and the premise of the match was thrown well and truly out the window. At times the leader of the Buzzards, Bray was left looking weak as he needed to rely on Rowan and Harper to keep Cena from escaping with Rowan even finding himself inside the cage at one point. In my opinion, steel cage matches are meant to keep the competitors inside and associates, faction members and everyone else in-between out, and call me a traditionalist, you shouldn’t be able to escape through the door. However, the door was the deciding factor as Cena found out when he was stopped by a child ‘infected’ by the Wyatt’s virus leading to Cena’s distraction, Bray’s finishing manoeuvre and the escape out the door. In this confusing match, it left you in no doubt that this wasn’t the culmination of the storyline. How could it have been? If Cena would have won, would that have meant people would have stopped choosing to follow Bray and his family? Because Bray has won does that mean we have unleashed the “monster” inside John Cena? This one was definitely puzzling to say the least and if it hasn’t accomplished anything else, it certainly has left the WWE Universe wondering what will happen next.
WWE’s English contingent continued to shine as Paige walked away still with her championship in hand. WWE’s approach with Paige is certainly interesting, giving her the Divas title straight away with not many fans really knowing who she is. This was evident in their lack of interest in the bout, but this was also due to its placement in the card. However she proved she definitely has the looks as well as the talent in her victory over Tamina Snucka. Victories over the stronger and more powerful women in the division will certainly help get her over.
And finally, we came to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between Daniel Bryan and his former Tag Team championship partner Kane. The cards were stacked against Bryan facing a much stronger adversary who has proven on recent occasions to have the upper hand, as well the Extreme Rules stipulation. However through defeating someone who can afford the loss whist also seems a challenge, helps establish and legitimise his reign. The match itself wasn’t able to beat the six-man earlier in the night but however lived up to the Extreme Rules scenario with an amble through the backstage area and parking lot where a perfectly positioned fork lift was ready to take a knocked out Kane back to the ring. Although a good idea on paper, its longevity help loose interest from the audience. However the big finish which heralded back to the extreme days of ECW helped re-attach the fans to the match, who can’t be attracted to a flaming table?!
Bryan’s victory against it all helped bolster the image of the underdog champion taking on anyone and conquering. The finish did however leave the possibility of a rematch open as Kane didn’t stay down long after the 1,2,3. If we are to believe the dirt sheets (online wrestling websites), this was done to carry through to the next pay-per-view Payback, as a planned story between Bryan and Batista has looked to have fallen through.
WWE Extreme Rules 2014 was a great event and it was great to see even in the PG era of WWE, we can still experience a little bit of hardcore action. Now it will be interesting to see how Daniel Bryan grows, how Evolution and John Cena recover and where the next steps will lead for the new stars of Cesaro, Bad News Barrett, Bray Wyatt, Paige and especially The Shield.