It's Still Real To Me: Extreme Rules

It’s Still Real To Me: Extreme Rules


“Only one place to go for both of us John – me up…you down”

So says Ryback in the promo video that opens this year’s Extreme Rules PPV. Those of you with even the most fleeting interest in primary school mathematics will have noticed that “me up…you down” is actually two places but it’s quite fitting that the show opens with such a blunder as Extreme Rules 2013 really is just a mess. There is the odd good match but there are just way too many matches that didn’t really need to happen.

“It’s the one night of the year when WWE goes EXTREME!!” barks commentator Michael Cole seconds before the opening contest…a standard one-on-one match between veteran Chris Jericho and ballroom dancing enthusiast Fandango. It’s a rematch of their Wrestlemania 29 bout back in April and is somehow even worse. It pains me to say this about a match involving Jericho but holy shit is it ever bad. They just seem to have zero chemistry in the ring. At one point both men fall over, unsure of who was supposed to be attacking who. Jericho wins with a brilliant Codebreaker that, for a few seconds, makes you forget the rest of the match. But then you remember. And then you are sad.

“How do I beat Mark Henry in a match that pacifically favours him?” ponders Sheamus stupidly before his strap match against said World’s Strongest Man. Firstly it’s ‘specifically’. And secondly I don’t care how. For those that
don’t know, a strap match is where both men are tied together using a long strap and they have to somehow touch all four corner top turnbuckles without interruption to be declared the winner. Whilst typing this I had to put the match on again to remind myself who won, as it doesn’t matter

Luckily the show picks up massively with a great United States title match between Kofi Kingston and Dean Ambrose of The Shield. I could allow this review to descend into a self-indulgent festival of fanboy worship of Ambrose. So I shall.

The guy is just light years ahead of so many others in the company right now. With the exception of maybe CM Punk there is no one else who makes every gesture, every word, every move seem so important. You truly believe he’s as unhinged as he makes himself appear in matches and promos. You feel like he’s probably watching you outside the
window right how. He’s like wrestling’s own Max Cady. And he’s only been on the main roster for just under a year. Without wanting to jinx him, you’ve got to feel like even bigger things are ahead for him.

The other highlight of the show features Ambrose‘s Shield team mates Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns going for tag team gold against Team Hell No. It’s a tornado match, meaning all 4 competitors can fight at once outside of the regular tag team rules. It’s a really strong bout, with all 4 men giving their absolute all to show just how entertaining the tag division could be if it was given a higher profile. There is not a weak link in the match and it’s one of those wide open bouts that keeps you hooked. It briefly makes me wonder how many of the other guys on the bill were watching backstage and taking notes. “Not too many from the look of it” I decide and continue watching.

We are also given an ‘I Quit’ match between Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger to decide the number 1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. This type of match is a tricky one to pull off – in brief it’s no holds barred, you don’t pin your opponent but have to make him ‘quit’ the match however you can. So a glorified submission match. The problems are firstly that you have the referee chasing them
around with a microphone asking them if they quit after almost every half-decent move, meaning they never really get the chance to build much momentum. Secondly, because of this you kind of zone out after a while. Operation ‘Turn ADR face’ didn’t really work and you can feel the crowd dropping off a bit at times when they should be rallying around him.

The WWE Title is on the line in a ‘last man standing’ match between champion John Cena and the barely tolerable Ryback. The WWE have spent over a year now telling us all that we should care about Ryback. Nah, you’re alright thanks. He looks like a market knock-off Goldberg, talks like a sleepy Ultimate Warrior and wrestles like a man with absolutely no concern for the safety and well-being of his opponent.

Yes smart-arses, that does sound odd but one of the big things in wrestling is to treat your opponent with respect and protect them from getting legitimately hurt. This IS entertainment after all. Something this match lacks somewhat for the majority of the time – about 10mins in the crowd builds into a huge “CM PUNK! CM PUNK!” chant. Neither
Ryback nor John Cena are CM Punk. So yeah. Probably not a good sign. That said, the ending is a pretty neat spot that catches the crowd completely off guard and, I suppose, leaves them with the feeling that they’ve seen something great.

The main event is Triple H vs Brock Lesnar for what I assumed was the eight billionth time but is actually only the third. This time they meet in a steel cage match that is worth watching for Paul Heyman‘s contributions alone. I wish they’d just put the mic on Heyman during Brock’s matches and let the commentary team go for a drink or something because the man is pure gold and sells the story of his matches so well. However, Heyman aside, this feud already felt pretty tired by the time this match rolled around and I think I know why – the days of rooting for Triple H just naturally seem to be over. He’s won all there is to win. He’s married the bosses daughter and is gradually being moved into an authoritative position within WWE booking etc. With this so well known by fans (sorry, I mean ‘the WWE Universe’ * shudder *) what reason do we have to root for him to win?

In wrestling I always feel like you’ve got to make me want the good guy to win – give him a cause, give him some injustice to try and overturn, make him the underdog. But here we have a hugely successful guy with nothing on the line against another legend on a part-time contract. Where is my incentive to care what happens to either of them? It’s no disrespect to them or what they’ve achieved but this feels like an after-thought of a main event. Much like at Mania where their match suffered from having to follow Undertaker vs CM Punk, this match suffers from having to close the show. It isn’t a bad match, and with the right placing on the card (and perhaps a slightly shorter duration) it could’ve even been a show-stealer, but as I’ve said so many times in this review already – it doesn’t really matter who wins.

Overall this PPV just feels like an over-egged episode of Raw, except without the relief of ad-breaks (although you can pause it and go for a wee if you like). If you’re a Shield fan you’ll get a kick out of about half an hour of it but sadly the majority of the PPV will leave your mind before the disc has even whirred to it’s conclusion. Extreme Rules is to ‘extreme’ what Mumford & Sons are to ‘not being shit’.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.