WWE Extreme Rules
April 26, 2015
Allstate Arena
Rosemont, Illinois
Watch: WWENetwork.com

In our Extreme Rules 2015 preview, I mentioned that despite the lackluster build Extreme Rules had a high probability of being a good to great show — Extreme Rules has a history of over delivering and with a decent card on paper, the 2015 edition had every chance to be great.

What we got was somewhere in-between. I wouldn’t say it was great by any means but it certainly wasn’t bad. There were a few disappointments, mainly John Cena vs. Rusev which wasn’t a great match and made worse by some questionable booking. Big Show vs. Roman Reigns way over-delivered (at least by my expectations) and helped this card in a huge way.

The main event, an overbooked mess that completely spit on any and all stipulations attached, ended the show on a down note but by and large, it was enjoyable. Let’s get to the review. -Rich Kraetsch

Our panel is as follows:

  • Rich Kraetsch: Voices of Wrestling co-owner, co-host of the Voices of Wrestling podcast and all that other good stuff.
  • Warren Taylor: VOW’s resident indie PPV reviewer, all-around good guy. Follow him on Twitter @TeddyNoir.
  • Rob McCarron: Co-host of the Shake Them Ropes podcast and VOW’s current NXT & Main Event reviewer. Follow him at @RobsNotClever and @ShakeThemRopes
  • Lastly, welcome this month’s guest reviewer Bo Churney: Bo is a soon-to-be Georgia Tech graduate and basketball blogger for ESPN TrueHoop for the Atlanta Hawks. He has recently become an avid wrestling viewer again thanks to Seth Rollins’ blonde streak. You can find him on Twitter @bochurney.

(Kickoff Show) Neville def. Bad News Barrett

Rich Kraetsch: This was a lot of fun. Bad News Barrett won’t wow you in a match like this but he does everything just right enough to make his opponent shine which Neville did here. Neville was super over in front of the crowd and this was a great match to get the crowd going. ***

Warren Taylor: Pre-show matches are usually entertaining and the contest between Neville and BNB for the vacant IC Championship was exactly that. The two Brits are tailor made opponents. Neville’s size is perfect to make Barrett look like a domineering bully and Barrett’s nasty streak enhances Neville’s underdog status. Adrian Neville’s win came as complete surprise and the fact that he got it clean before a hot crowd made the moment that much sweeter for the former NXT Champion. ***1/2

Rob McCarron: It seemed pretty clear that, after Smackdown, Neville would be the one to end up wrestling Barrett on this show. In the staff predictions here at VOW, I predicted Neville to win. It seemed obvious. Showcase the new guy, start the show off hot, and have a fun match while doing it. WWE delivered.

Star Rating: ***1/2

Bo Churney: Shame this match had to be on the pre-show, but it was a great way to start off in front of a rowdy Chicago crowd. I did not think that either of these guys could use a loss really, but the mesh of style between these two made it work when Neville eventually got the W with the Red Arrow. ***3/4


Chicago Street Fight
Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper 

Rich Kraetsch: I had high hopes for this and while it was a great plunder match, I would’ve loved to see them having a legit street fight. Instead we got a few weapons thrown in the ring, a stack of chairs, a car driving away for an hour and a bunch of other madness. Overall, this was still cool but I was hoping for something a bit more structured. Oh well, Ambrose was super over and Harper is great at taking punishment. **1/2

Warren Taylor: A brawl is a fun way to start to show. A brawl with Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper is an excellent way to open a show. Everything was fine at the start. There was energy, weapons and a few cool spots. Hey, the match even spilled backstage. Then Harper got in a car. Ambrose followed. Then Harper stomped on the gas. I thought that was the finish but the match resumed almost an hour later. Makes you wonder if they went to iHOP for a breather. Ambrose won with the Dirty Deeds in the most bizarre street fight since WrestleMania 12. **1/2

Rob McCarron: Wrestling Is WWE. WWE did the CHIKARA gimmick of the participants leaving the arena mid match, only to return later to finish it. It was somewhat clever, and definitely unique in WWE, but at the end of the day, it meant the match had no flow and was considered largely a joke. At least the Dean PPV singles winless streak is over, landing just short of two years! **

Bo Churney: I’m not usually a fan of street fights, but this one was definitely interesting. After some brawling in the ring with chairs and kendo sticks, the two eventually worked their way backstage and took off in a car out into the streets. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see anything while they were out there, but it was definitely an intriguing twist. The two came back to interrupt the New Day’s celebration and found their way back to the ring where Ambrose won via a Dirty Deeds on top of a bunch of chairs. **¾



Kiss Me Arse Match
Dolph Ziggler def. Sheamus

Rich Kraetsch: Hmm, I’m not sure what I thought of this. Technically it was fine, I just couldn’t get into it. Sheamus had a ton of control which he’s great at and Dolph spent a lot of the match taking punishment, again, what he’s good at. The finish however felt really flat and more like something that would build to a PPV match rather than the PPV match. Either way, it was enjoyable. **3/4

Warren Taylor: Little fella. Big fella. The classic formula for a guaranteed good match. Sheamus’ heel offense meshed well with Ziggler’s god like bumping ability to add to the long list of above average David vs. Goliath encounters. Ziggler’s win was a surprise. What was not a surprise was the the Irishmen welched on his word and laid Ziggler out before he had to kiss his ass.**3/4

Rob McCarron: Dolph winning was a nice surprise, although with what they did, how come we didn’t see it coming? It all made perfect sense. Sheamus was his usual great self, but the problem is he’s still largely boring while being great. I’ve seen enough Sheamus vs Dolph to at least enjoy that they tried to make this match a little different than their previous Raw encounters. ***

Bo Churney: Sheamus had control of most of the match, with Dolph getting in well-timed spurts of offense. We eventually had Dolph winning with a surprisingly well-booked roll-up, but Sheamus got the last-laugh by delivering a low-blow and brogue kick to Dolph post-match. Good match, but terrible stipulation and the star rating suffers a bit for it. **3/4


WWE Tag Team Championship
The New Day def. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro ©

Rich Kraetsch: When it’s all said and done, there’s a good chance this is my match of the night. It started off a little slow and I actually thought it was pretty boring, NEVERMIND. The last half of this match kicked it into a next gear and you could see how talented these four men are. Each played their role to perfect: Cesaro/Big E as the great strongman, Kidd/Kofi as the fliers. These two teams are so great and such a perfect match for one another. I wouldn’t mind seeing these two wrestling a long series of matches. In the end, we had yet another fluke win and new tag champs but regardless, I thought this was. ***1/2

Warren Taylor: Started slow and really picked up at the end. The Cesaro Swing into the drop kick spot was awesome. I am not a huge fan fluke finishes but hey that is how heels win in Vince’s mind.  Decent match. **1/2

Rob McCarron: Cesaro played the power man while in the ring with Big E, a superstar power lifter. So, that was something. We have some turmoil in the tag division now, as the Lucha Dragons have certainly earned placement into this picture over the last few weeks. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the tag belts trade hands quite often this year, especially when the Usos return. ***

Bo Churney: To think that just a few months ago all four of the guys involved in this match had no direction and were getting little time on air. We got some cool spots out of this match, including Cesaro catching Big E, and Big E doing a massive spear to apron-standing Tyson Kidd. New Day won by the dreaded distraction rollup, but it was a great match overall and good for New Day to capitalize on their heel turn.***1/2



Russian Chain Match – WWE United States Championship
John Cena © def. Rusev

Rich Kraetsch: There was a lot I didn’t like here. On a macro sense, breaking up Lana/Rusev is silly. I’m sure they have high hopes for Lana, as they should, she’s a supremely talented beautiful woman. I’m more worried about what happens with Rusev and what he loses without Lana. He’s a huge talent but the Lana dynamic puts him over the top. Secondly, it may not matter if he keeps losing so much. People justified the ‘Mania loss to Cena, fine, whatever. There was no reason for him to lose again here, none. The match, it was what it was, the chain/strap stipulation sucks, the matches always suck and the finish is almost always the same. These guys did about as good as you can given the limitations of the stipulation. **1/4

Warren Taylor: Tonight was the second sign of the impending Lana/Rusev break up which is a  shame because they are so great together. Strap/Bullrope/Chain matches are hard to pull off and always end up feeling the same. Rusev and Cena tried to make it work. The spots involving the chain as a weapon were logical and fun to watch. Rusev’s face while he was in the STF was priceless and shows why he is fast becoming a complete performer. In the end I felt the stipulation sucked the drama out of what should have been a hot feud ender. Major major props to the work of both wrestlers  for making this bout much better than it had any right to be. ***1/4

Rob McCarron: I don’t know what else to say other than I wasn’t a fan of what they did, stipulation or not. Three lights, AA, three lights, AA. Same formula, with nothing new. Rusev didn’t appear to ever have a shot at winning, so it’s amazing how far they’ve come from unstoppable monster to Bray Wyatt level for Rusev. Without Lana, he’s sub-Bray, and that disappoints me greatly. **

Bo Churney: Was skeptical of how this match would go, but Cena and Rusev definitely made it interesting and the action in the ring was good considering they had a chain to compensate for. The only two problems were some spots in the match that slowed down too much to fit the gimmick and Rusev sending Lana to the back after she climbed on the apron to accept the “We want Lana!” chants. Rusev without Lana and a storyline could leave him dead in the water. Rusev deserves better. **3/4


WWE Divas Championship
Nikki Bella © def. Naomi

Rich Kraetsch: The match was sneaky good, Naomi doesn’t get enough due as one of the best women’s talents they have right now. Years down the line we may be talking about her as one of the top women in WWE history, but we’re obviously a ways away from that. Everything between the bell and the finish made no sense. Naomi turned heel two weeks ago, the Nikki’s became proxy-faces last week but were still technically heel. So heel vs. heel, right? Well sorta, Brie helped Nikki cheat and Naomi looked really upset after, you know, like a babyface would. Your guess is as good as mine! **3/4

Warren Taylor: Work wise Nikki Bella’s reign has been sneaky good. She and Naomi worked hard and had about as good a match as the two of them are capable of having. I think performers like them just are not the athletes needed to restore credibility to the division. **

Rob McCarron: The booking leading up to this match was confusing, and outright frustrating due to knowing what could have been. So we had heel vs heel, forcing the crowd to care about nobody. Naomi, again, fails in any bid to win the title, with Brie Bella helping her sister gain the win via Rack Attack. The whole thing, from concept, to execution, to result was just a big negative to me. The work in the ring was actually the best part, but the story failed them. **1/2

Bo Churney: I’m confused. Naomi took out fan-favorite Paige, which should make Naomi the heel, right? Well, it looked that way going into this match, with the Bellas even getting a mix of cheers. However, when it came to the end, Nikki won with a Rack-Attack after Brie hit Naomi with a kick to the head while the ref was distracted. Sooo… are the Bellas still heels to eventually feud with Paige again? Either way, we got an OK match despite that confusion. **


Last Man Standing
Roman Reigns def. Big Show

Rich Kraetsch: There were some psychology issues throughout with Big Show opting to not use the weapons while the babyface Roman Reigns used them willingly but in the end, it didn’t matter much. This match was overdelivered on my expectations. The amount of damage and punishment Big Show took here is nothing short of amazing. Reigns had yet another main event level performance as he slowly but surely rebuilds himself. This was really good, maybe not my Match of the Night but right up there. ***1/2

Warren Taylor: LMS matches in the WWE always build to a huge car crash of a finale after multiple ten count teases, which this match had in abundance and made it tedious for me to watch. To be fair, the huge spot of Reigns using the steels steps to spear Show the announce table was wicked cool.I liked Shows insistence that he “is a giant” and did not need to use weapons, makes perfect sense to me since he has those huge meaty fists. Reigns showed great emotion in this match and won majority of the crowd over. In Chicago. Impressive. ***

Rob McCarron: While some of the in-match work was poorly planned, with Roman being the man always getting the weapons and failing for example, I have no hesitation calling this the best match on the show so far. I would have liked it better if it was the bad guy Big Show trying to use weapons to beat the quickly rising Reigns, but you can’t win them all. The usual finish of Big Show getting buried under something was expected, and you got it. I enjoyed it, but don’t want to see these two anymore. ****

Bo Churney: There might have been a few too many 10-count teases in this match, but the Big Show and Reigns put on a helluva performance. Show did a great job of verbally heeling throughout the match, with my favorite being him shouting “BOOYAH!” after hitting Reigns with a spear. There were some awesome spots in this match: Reigns taking a chokeslam through a couple of tables from in the ring to outside of it, and Reigns spearing Big Show off of one announce table through the other. I was surprised at how friendly the Chicago crowd was to these two, but then again, maybe they were surprised with how well the match went. Hopefully this is the last time we will see Reigns against the Big Show, as Reigns should be moving on to different opponents now. ****




Steel Cage Match – WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Seth Rollins © def.. Randy Orton

Rich Kraetsch: The match wasn’t bad at all, Rollins and Orton were having a good WWE-style main event… then this thing went completely off the rails. Everyone interferred, people hit multiple RKOs, Kane became the focal point and I just tuned it out. This was an overbooked mess when it really didn’t need to be. Hope you’re excited for a triple-threat main event at Payback featuring Kane. I know I’m not. **

Warren Taylor: An awful, plodding and overbooked main event. *

Rob McCarron: The RKO was banned. So Seth Rollins won after delivering an RKO. This Raw sucked. It was, however, exactly what we thought a “Free Preview Month” WWE PPV woudl be… a full on promotion for the next event. Payback is the one that matters, WWE told us tonight. Somehow, when Payback ends, I bet we still won’t think that’s true. ***

Bo Churney: I’m tired of cage matches being used to “prevent interference” failing so epicly at doing so. What was the last major cage match that didn’t have interfering shenanigans? Jericho-Batista? Anyways, the match was alright before the shenanigans happened, with Orton hitting Rollins with a Pedigree being a nice surprise. However, the ending left a lot to be desired. Kane, who seemed on the edge of turning face, did a whole lot of “meh”, and Rollins won by hitting Orton with an RKO, which was supposed to be banned from the match. Just a whole lot of head-scratching after this one was over. **