Pruett's Pause: WWE Extreme Rules - Why Last Man Standing matches are awful, Brock Lesnar defeats Triple H in a new cage, The Shield captures gold, and more!
By Will Pruett
I hate Last Man Standing matches. I always have. I just can't help it. Think about it. The overall concept of the match is watching a referee count to nine as loud as he can about 45 times. All said referee does is count in the time between big moves from the wrestlers.
Another reason I hate them: the ease at which the match can end in a tie. Off the top of my head, I can think of three instances when a Last Man Standing Match, as a main event or co-main event of a WWE pay-per-view, ended with neither wrestler answering a ten count. I'm sure there are more examples, but I'm thinking of The Rock vs. Mankind at St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1999, Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H at Royal Rumble 2004, and Undertaker vs. Batista at Backlash 2007.
What does it say when, for the fourth time in 14 years, a major gimmick match ends in a non-finish. Add into the non-finishes the two duct tape finishes we've seen in these contests (John Cena vs. Batista at Extreme Rules 2010 and Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show at Royal Rumble 2013). This gimmick match is basically dead.
Even when Last Man Standing was a stipulation to fear, it was a frustrating display of counting. In order to build drama in the match, the wrestlers actually have to lay on the ground for nine seconds at a time. This does not create a compelling contest.
In theory, a Last Man Standing match should be excellent. The idea of it is fun. In execution, the match is very flawed. The Last Man Standing match between John Cena and Ryback was actually pretty good. Cena was able to carry Ryback to a quality contest with a great deal of tricks (the ultimate trick coming at the end). The story told was lacking, simply because a gimmick match wasn't necessary yet. John Cena hardly sold his "injured Achilles," which compromised the story of the match.
This was a fair contest, bound by the rules being forced to go to the "extreme." The tie at the end was predictable (I called it the moment the stipulation was announced). The match didn't work. The stipulation should be retired.
- WWE has scaled pyro back at the beginning of its TV shows to the point that it actually feels special on pay-per-view. This creates more of a big match feel for the entire event.
- Did the set for this show remind anyone else of the old U.K. only "Insurrextion" pay-per-views? I was not impressed by the giant X.
- Opening the show with Chris Jericho's entrance was also a really nice way to kick off the show hot. Jericho is doing some nice work with this comeback and the crowd is still super into him.
- Fandango and Summer Rae could are putting a very nice act together. I could see the chemistry between them developing nicely. Hopefully WWE decides on Summer Rae as Fandango's permanent valet.
- Jericho and Fandango topped their WrestleMania encounter and definitely topped the ending. This wasn't the awkward exchange between them we saw before.
- Josh Matthews comes off as the most annoying person I've ever met in backstage interviews. He should work on this.
- Kofi Kingston vs. Dean Ambrose brought with it an atmosphere that hasn't been seen for an United States Championship match in a long time. Ambrose (and The Shield) bring with them a big-match feel. It's nice to see this trickle down to the United States Championship instead of staying in the top portion of the card.
- Kingston was a very good choice to be the transitional champion and pass the title to Dean Ambrose. A month ago, I would have been fairly surprised to see Ambrose win the U.S. Championship, but at this moment, it works.
- I would like to see Kingston continue feuding with Dean Ambrose for the moment. After Kingston, Daniel Bryan could have a heck of a series with Ambrose.
- How was it decided when the lights would go out in the Strap Match? Also, why were Sheamus and Mark Henry so bad in this match? I didn't enjoy this one at all.
- Kaitlyn was more than kind of a jerk to A.J. Lee. I wonder why their match wasn't on this show.
- The "I Quit" match didn't live up to the other "Extreme" matches Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger have had on Smackdown. They were in a no-win situation replacing a Ladder Match featuring Dolph Ziggler, but this was a serious lack of win.
- The overbooked finish with the towel throwing and restart was far more than was needed. I'm guessing the finish was booked to allow for a Triple Threat match down the line (most likely with a Ladder), but it made this show a little sad.
- I'm surprised the Tornado Tag format isn't used more often in WWE. It's a fun gimmick that requires nothing extra (like a cage, a manager, or a kendo stick) to accomplish. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Kane, and Daniel Bryan all worked really well in this format.
- I enjoyed the effort on this show to show The Shield going it alone. It was necessary to make sure they were legitimate enough to capture titles on their own. WWE seems unable to go wrong with The Shield and I'm happy to see them getting built up so well.
- The mid-show break with the pre-show panel was a nice breather in the middle of the show. I wish we had something like this on Raw every week.
- Big Show and Randy Orton was a decent cookie-cutter WWE Extreme Rules match. Randy Orton had a better version of this with Christian at SummerSlam 2011. It wasn't a bad match and Orton was happy to be in front of his hometown crowd, but I couldn't get into it.
- Before the show I predicted Big Show to get caught in the RKO while attempting a Shooting Star Press. I'm fairly sad this didn't happen.
- I think I've already said too much about the Last Man Standing match.
- I like the look of the new steel cage. It isn't exactly different, but the thinner top portion and the more sound structure helped this contest. The cage was also a little taller, which made it more visually appealing.
- Triple H and Brock Lesnar did have the best match of their series here. Triple H was obviously calling spots, but that didn't even bother me. Lesnar was more coherent here than at WrestleMania and looked to be in great shape.
- Would Bret Hart give Triple H's Sharpshooter a four out of ten?
- "That's my manager" was my favorite quote of the night.
- Brock Lesnar looked adequately tough winning this contest. The audience seemed confused about how to react to the match, but both men looked good coming out of it.
This wasn't a bad show, but I do feel a little let down by it. The concept of an almost-all gimmick match show kind of hurt everything on this show. Nothing felt super special, aside from the cage match main event. Luckily, the WWE Championship match didn't have to carry the card, since Brock and Triple H were on top. This also doesn't do a ton for the WWE Championship though.
Let's do some good old fashioned talking about this show! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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