Allstate Arena – Chicago, Illinois – April 29, 2012
Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Booker T are on commentary.
MATCH #1: Falls Count Anywhere Match – Randy Orton vs. Kane
They start out slugging and Kane knocks Orton off the second rope to the floor. Kane goes out and makes the first cover for two. Back in the ring Kane brings a lead pipe but Orton is able to get a hold of it and he bashes Kane with it repeatedly to send the Big Red Monster to the floor. They fight their way into the crowd and eventually make their way up by the entrance. Both men trade control back and forth, each getting several near-falls. They head backstage and Kane is throwing Orton around into things. Orton fights back and they go into the area that the non-booked wrestlers are watching the show. Zack Ryder pops up from out of nowhere to attack Kane, allowing Orton to hit the Backbreaker for two. Kane reclaims control and they continue fighting around the gorilla position. Back in the arena Orton slugs his way back into control. They make it to the ring and Orton is building momentum. Orton hits a clothesline and the snap powerslam. He goes outside and finds a chair. Orton hits Kane in the gut with the chair and then cracks it across his back repeatedly. Back out on the floor Orton rearranges some furniture. Orton hits the draping DDT off the Spanish Announce Table but it only gets two. He goes for an RKO but Kane pushes him into the steel ring post for two. Back in the ring Kane goes to the top rope but Orton crotches him. Orton hits a superplex for a near-fall. He goes for another RKO but Kane reverses it and hits a Chokeslam. That only gets two! A frustrated Kane goes for a Tombstone on the steel chair but Orton slips out and hits the RKO on the chair! That’s enough to get the pin at 16:44. These two had solid matches together but nothing spectacular, and this match fell into that mold. They made pretty good use of the stipulation, and did a good job just beating on each other but not doing anything crazy.
MATCH #2: Brodus Clay vs. Dolph Ziggler
Clay has Cameron, Naomi, and Hornswoggle in his corner. Ziggler has Vickie Guerrero and Jack Swagger with him. Clay uses his superior power to dominate Ziggler in the early going. Swagger distracts Clay and Ziggler dropkicks him to the floor. Ziggler distracts the referee so Swagger can mow Clay down with a running shoulder tackle. Back in the ring Ziggler does everything he can to keep Clay down on the mat to neutralize his power. Ziggler uses the Sleeper but Clay powers his way out of it. Clay then reverses a suplex and drops Ziggler down on his face. The Funkasaurus fires up and Swagger tries to distract him but Clay knocks him down. Ziggler tries the Sleeper again but Clay throws him off. The determined Ziggler tries another charge and Clay drives his skull into Ziggler’s chest. Ouch. Clay then hits the Splash to get the pin at 4:18. That was a harmless TV style match, but they did it on pay-per-view. And why did Ziggler have be the jobber here, couldn’t someone else do it?
MATCH #3: Tables Match for the Intercontinental Title – Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes
Show has been the Champion since 4.1.12, and this is his first defense. The Champion immediately dominates, throwing the challenger around the ring and landing hard chops. They go to the floor and Show continues the domination. Big Show is extremely confident here, and why shouldn’t he be? Back in the ring Show brings a table. Show sets up the table in the corner and tries to throw Rhodes into it, but the resourceful challenger jumps off it and hits the Disaster Kick. Rhodes charges and Show shoulderblocks him right down to the floor. Show continues throwing Rhodes around and caving in his chest with chops. He throws Rhodes back in the ring, and when he gets up on the apron Rhodes dropkicks him. That causes Show to step back, right onto a table, and the table breaks! The look on Show’s face is priceless, as he knows he just lost the title on something absurd. Even the referee is surprised, but he calls for the bell at 4:36. The match was pretty much nothing, but I don’t care what anyone says that finish was clever. It’s a good way for someone of Rhodes’ size and for the character he plays to get one up on Show.
After the match Show hits a Spear and then Chokeslams the new Intercontinental Champion through a table. Well that’s just being a poor sport. Show then press slams Rhodes through another table on the floor. That’s a poor example to set for the children.
MATCH #4: Two Out of Three Falls Match for the World Heavyweight Title – Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan
Sheamus has been the Champion since 4.1.12, and this is his first defense. They start with some chain wrestling and Bryan is able to get past the first 18 seconds. Sheamus almost hits an early Brogue Kick but Bryan avoids it. The chain wrestling continues and Sheamus targets the arm. It’s funny how the crowd is supporting Bryan and not so into Sheamus. Speaking of the crowd, they come alive as Sheamus locks on a Texas Cloverleaf. Bryan reaches the ropes. Sheamus goes for it again and Bryan gets a rollup for two. The Champ cuts Bryan off with a clothesline and keeps him on the mat. Bryan tries to build momentum and hits a running clothesline. He baseball slides Sheamus to the floor and follows him out with a dive off the apron but Sheamus intercepts him and drives him into the barricade! Back in the ring Sheamus goes up top and Bryan knocks him down. Bryan starts working the left knee now. He switches it up and goes after the left arm. Sheamus recovers and fires back with the forearm shots in the ropes. He follows with a fallaway slam for a two-count. Bryan comes back with a kick to the head for a near-fall. He goes for a hurricanrana off the top rope but Sheamus holds on and Bryan crashes down. Sheamus hits a flying shoulderblock for two. Bryan sends Sheamus crashing to the floor and tries to follow him out with a dive but Sheamus levels him with a flying forearm. Back in the ring they go back and forth, with Bryan doggedly trying for the Yes Lock. Sheamus pushes off but then misses a charge in the corner and hits the post. Bryan goes outside and throws Sheamus shoulder-first into the post twice. He brutally attacks the shoulder, which is perfect for his finisher. Bryan unleashes the Yes Kicks, further injuring the shoulder. Sheamus gets to the ropes but Bryan won’t stop kicking and the referee disqualifies him at 14:30! Bryan looks pleased with himself, as if it was all part of his plan. Bryan starts the second fall with a running dropkick to the shoulder. He then cinches in the Yes Lock and Sheamus passes out at 16:37. That evens things up at one fall apiece, with Danielson in the driver’s seat heading into the third fall.
Trainers come out to check on Sheamus while Bryan leads the crowd in a “Yes” chant. Finally, after Sheamus gets a long rest, the trainers declare him ready to compete. Bryan charges in but runs right into a Brogue Kick! Sheamus can’t cover right away and when he does he only gets two! Bryan recovers quicker and blasts Sheamus with a series of kicks, ending with one directly to the head! That only gets two. Bryan goes up top and Sheamus knocks him down. Sheamus tries a superplex but Bryan knocks him down and goes for the headbutt. Bryan misses and both men are down. Back on their feet Bryan charges into the corner but misses. Sheamus unleashes with strikes, and then hits the Irish Curse. He nails the Brogue Kick to win the third and final fall at 22:53. This was a phenomenal match for a lot of reasons. First, Bryan being confident enough to sacrifice a fall, and Sheamus being resilient enough to overcome the odds and persevere were both great bits of storytelling for their characters. The crowd didn’t seem too into Sheamus at the start, but he won them over by sheer effort, and the crowd was reacting to the match as a whole, not just Bryan’s greatness. This was a great, old school, two out of three falls title defense, and perhaps Sheamus’ best match ever.
MATCH #5: Handicap Match – Ryback vs. Aaron Relic & Jay Hatton
The crowd chants “Goldberg.” Ryback shrugs those chants off and commences destroying both Relic and Hatton. He drills one of them with the Meat Hook, and then hits a chin checker. Ryback hits the other one with the Shell Shocked, and pins both of them together at 1:50. That was a fun squash, but is stuff like this PPV worthy?
MATCH #6: Chicago Street Fight for the WWE Championship – CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
Punk has been the Champion since 11.20.11, and this is his tenth defense. The reaction for Punk in his hometown is of course, enormous. Both men are in street clothes, so you know it’s on. They start slugging right away and Punk stomps Jericho down. The fight quickly goes to the floor and Punk is throwing Jericho around. Punk throws some chairs in the ring and sends Jericho back in as well. He grabs a kendo stick and takes it to Jericho’s back. Jericho uses the referee as a shield and then pokes Punk in the eyes. He hits a dropkick and Jericho is on the attack. Punk won’t go down without a fight but Jericho avoids the running knee in the corner and Punk crashes to the floor. Jericho beats on Punk right in front of his mom and sister. That’s awesome. Jericho talks trash and Punk’s sister slaps him! Good for her. Jericho tries to retaliate but that rightly fires Punk up. Punk sets up a piece of announce table wood and slams Jericho through it! He takes his shirt off and the girlies squeal. Punk goes for a piledriver but Jericho backdrops his way out of it. Jericho hits Punk with one of the monitors, and then with the top of the announce table. Back in the ring Jericho covers for two. Punk fights out of a chinlock with a back suplex. He goes to the apron and tries the springboard clothesline but slips, and Jericho cracks him with the kendo stick repeatedly. Jericho talks trash and almost gets pinned with a small package for it. He’s able to cut Punk off with an enziguiri for a two-count. Jericho goes outside the ring and finds a can of beer. He pours it on the Straight Edge WWE Champion. Jericho gets too cocky and tries to do it again but Punk kicks him in the gut and then whacks him a bunch of times with the kendo stick. The Champ hits the running knee in the corner and the bulldog. Punk grabs the kendo stick and abuses Jericho’s nuts with it. He goes for Go 2 Sleep but Jericho counters and tries the Walls of Jericho, which Punk counters out of. Punk hits a powerslam for two. He goes up top and Jericho crotches him. Jericho goes for a superplex but Punk knocks him down This time Punk hits the elbow but Jericho kicks out at two! Punk tries Go 2 Sleep but Jericho slips out and hits the bulldog. Jericho tries a Lionsault but Punk stops him and tries go 2 Sleep! Again Jericho is able to counter out of it. Jericho throws Punk into a chair set up in the corner for two. Both men get to their feet and Jericho hits a Codebreaker! Jericho then locks on the Walls of Jericho. Punk makes the ropes but the commentators for once point out that Jericho can’t be disqualified so he doesn’t have to break the hold. Punk is able to reach under the ring and grabs a fire extinguisher. He sprays Jericho with it to break the hold. Punk hits Jericho in the gut with the extinguisher and they go back to the floor. He hits Jericho in the ribs again, and then lands a knockout kick that lays Jericho out on the announce table. Punk goes to the top rope and delivers the elbow drop to shatter the table. Back in the ring Punk covers but only gets two! Punk cinches on the Anaconda Vise but Jericho is able to grab the kendo stick and uses it to break free. Punk tries to hit Jericho with a chair but Jericho counters to a chair-assisted Codebreaker but it only gets two! Jericho picks Punk up and talks trash to him. He tries Go 2 Sleep but Punk grabs the leg and catapults Jericho into the exposed turnbuckle! Punk then finally hits Go 2 Sleep to get the pin at 25:02. This was much different than their WrestleMania match, as this was much more a fight than a wrestling match. They used weapons effectively and didn’t do too many big or unbelievable spots, they made sure to get across how much they hated each other and that’s the best way to do a Chicago Street Fight.
Michael Cole mentions that Santino Marella successfully defended his United States Championship against The Miz earlier tonight on the Extreme Rules Pre-Show on YouTube and WWE.COM. Marella hit the Cobra to get the win. I wonder why this match isn’t an extra feature?
MATCH #7: WWE Divas Championship Match – Nikki Bella vs. Layla
Nikki has been the Champion since 4.23.12, and this is her first defense. She won the title from Beth Phoenix. No, really. This is Layla’s return from an injury I neither recall nor give a crap about. Cole helpfully explains that she injured her knee at Extreme Rules last year. Layla is fired up from the get-go, so Brie has to help Nikki with cheap a shot to give the Champ an advantage. Whenever Layla tries to come back Nikki is able to cut her off, sometimes with an assist from Brie. Layla is able to kick Nikki to the floor, and when the referee’s back is turned Brie comes in instead. Even with this treachery, Layla hits a hangman’s neckbreaker to get the pin at 2:28. Obviously at hat length it hat wasn’t much of a match but it’s an effective bumper between the Chicago Street Fight and the Extreme Rules match.
MATCH #8: Extreme Rules Match – John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar
Cena brings a chain and padlock with him, in a nice throwback to a time Cena was not stale. Cena charges at Brock but pays for it by getting taken down and immediately busted open hard way with a forearm shot. The referee tries to stop the match and tend to Cena’s blood but Cena shoves him off and charges right back t Lesnar. Obviously that doesn’t go well for him and Lesnar is dominant here. The doctor comes in to check on Cena, grinding the match to a halt. When the action resumes Lesnar continues destroying Cena. The doctors tend to Cena again, and after that Lesnar starts throwing Cena around with suplexes. Cena fights back and hits a flying shoulder tackle, and Lesnar gets knocked back into the official! That looked nasty for poor Charles Robinson. Lesnar cuts Cena off with a clothesline and goes back to work. He beats on Cena both in and out of the ring, and teases using Cena’s chain but decides against it. Lesnar is so dominant that he is just toying with Cena. The referee makes it back in the ring, but when Lesnar hits Cena with the F-5, Cena’s legs made contact with Robinson and wiped him out. A new referee makes it down but only gets a two-count so Lesnar clotheslines him for fun. Lesnar brings the stairs into the ring and puts Cena in a Kimura Lock while on the stairs. Cena amazingly picks Lesnar up and slams him down onto the steps to break the hold. Cena goes up top but misses the Cena Slice but misses and rolls to the floor. Finally Cena climbs back up to the apron and Lesnar leaps off the steps to wipe Cena out but ends up taking a pretty nasty bump himself. How many bricks did Vince McMahon just shit right there? Luckily Lesnar appears to be unfazed. Cena gets back to the apron and Lesnar goes for another shoulderblock but Cena had gotten hold of his steel chain and he clobbers Lesnar in the face with it! The crowd popped big for that. Cena then hits the Attitude Adjustment on the steps to get the shocking pin at 17:41. I agree that Lesnar should have gone over here and Cena could have taken some time off and still come back to do Money in the Bank and the Punk turn and all that. It actually probably would have made it all the more effective. That being said, I still love the match, as it was very unique and memorable. Lesnar looked like a beast and Cena wouldn’t give up got a lucky shot and a big move to barely seal the deal. On its own that’s a great story, ignoring how stale Cena is. I do think this kind of match can be enjoyed outside of a storyline, which will help it age well. Winner aside, this match is phenomenal.