With Extreme Rules less than a week away, it’s officially time to get retro. This, of course, was Brock Lesnar’s first WWE match in almost a decade. The match was set up by Lesnar attacking Cena the Raw after Cena lost “the biggest match of his career” vs. The Rock. Lesnar attacked Cena to prove that the only reason Cena is on top is because he left. Leading into the match, there was a great deal of mystique, as we did not know what kind of match they were going to have. Elsewhere, Daniel Bryan was hitting his peak due to the fans’ vendetta over him losing in 12 seconds at Wrestlemania. And Chicago’s native CM Punk was taking on Chris Jericho, who turned their feud in a personal one by degrading Punk and his family.
Opening Match: Randy Orton defeated Kane in a Falls Count Anywhere Match: They brawled just about everywhere, including backstage. Eventually, they made themselves back into the ring. Orton went for the RKO, but Kane blocked and drilled a chokeslam for a near-fall. Kane went for the Tombstone onto a chair, but Orton escaped. Kane went for a clothesline, but got RKO’ed onto the chair instead for three @ 16:30.
Synopsis: This was an effective way to open the show. It was a fun all-over-the-place scuffle with some nifty and cunning spots. Randy Orton got his win back by avenging the psychotic, powerful monster in a match that ought to have suited him more. In a company similar to TNA circa 2007, this would have been labeled another garbage spot-infested brawl. But due to its uncommonness in WWE, it came off as something refreshing, proving that when you do something less, it means so much more. ***
Backstage, Eve brought in Teddy Long, who was wearing a “Hello, My Name Is Teddy Long” tag. It was all fun and games until Ace realized HHH was calling him. He left the room for privacy.
Brodus Clay vs. Dolph Ziggler: Ziggler got heat on Clay, which setted up Clay’s comeback. Clay nailed a headbutt to a running Ziggler—who sold it like a champ. Clay then nailed a big splash for three @ 4:30. After the match, Clay and his ladies danced.
Synopsis: Ziggler had his carry shoes on, but due to both lack of time and that he was working with Clay, he came up a bit short. But because of Ziggler bumping like a fish out of water, I will give this match a *.
IC Title Match; Tables Match: Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show ©: Show attempted to toss Rhodes into a table, but Rhodes ran off the table and nailed the disaster kick. The match carried onward to the floor, where Show beat up Rhodes. Show nailed Rhodes with a chop to the chest. Later on, Rhodes caught Show with a leg kick as he was trying to get back in the ring, putting him (barely) through the table and ending the match @ 4:30. After the match, Big Show beat up Rhodes to regain his heat.
Synopsis: This was just a way to put the title back onto Rhodes without damaging Show’s credibility. The match had a few good spots, but it had too much down time for something that was less than five minutes. A completely unmemorable tables match. *
Backstage, Daniel Bryan made fun of Matt Striker, saying teachers like him are the reason why many people in the USA are stupid. He then made fun of the crowd, saying they are like Sheamus: overrated.
WHW Title Match; Two out of Three Falls: Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus: This is their rematch from their infamous 16 seconds match. Bryan purposely lost the first fall to use a chair to inflict damage onto Sheamus. It worked enough to get him another fall as he made Sheamus pass out to the yes lock. Whilst Sheamus was knocked out, Bryan was too busy chanting “YES” and pandering to the crowd. Sheamus had enough in the tank to make with a comeback, and then he nailed the Irish Curse backbreaker. He then hit the Brogue Kick to remain champion @ 23:00.
Synopsis: Even though Sheamus was working with one of the best in-ring technician today, it still made me realize that Sheamus had some aptitudes after all. The match was highlighted by Bryan effectively portraying a strategic gamplan to try and win the match. Truth be told, I will take psychology and storytelling over a series of spots any day, and it is a shame that WWE does not implement it into their matches more often. This was the first match that non-independent fans understood all the praise Daniel Bryan received. **** ¼
Ryback vs. Two Jobbers: The highlight of the match was Ryback receiving a great deal of Goldberg chants. Ryback finished both jobbers like nothing and picked up the win @ 1:03.
Synopsis: It was just a buffer match. N/R
WWE Championship Match; Street Fight: CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho: Throughout the match, Jericho showed why he is one of the greatest heel wrestlers of all time—as he wrestled exactly how his outside the ring character was portrayed, dictated the pace of the match, and effectively read the crowd. Later on, Jericho lifted Punk up to give him the GTS, but Punk it and threw Jericho into the exposed turnbuckle. Punk gave Jericho the GTS to end the match @ 25:00.
Synopsis: This was on its way of being a mirror image of Jericho’s epic street fight with HBK at Unforgiven 2008, but unfortunately never quite got there due there not being enough feeling of hatred between the two. Still, this was a very good street fight that did not get marred by any noticeably contrived spots. In fact, everything came off natural and realistic, and Jericho effectively set up spots well and “weapon grabs” when he appeared to be in peril. *** ¾
Backstage, Eve told Nikkie Bella that Beth Phoenix was too injured to wrestle tonight. However, she had a replacement for her, but it would not be Awesome Kong (BOOOOO!!!!).
Diva Championship Match: Nikkie Bella vs.Layla: After some back and forth action, Layla got the pin fall @ 2:45. And there’s that.
Synopsis: Did not care. Just a buffer match. ½*
Extreme Rules Match: John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar: Through most of the match, Cena took a merciless beat down curiosity of Lesnar. Later on, Cena entered the ring, but Lesnar hit off the ropes and hovered into a flying-splash on top of Cena. Lesnar shook it off and then sadistically smiled. Meanwhile, Cena had a chain around his fist. Lesnar went for another flying slash, only to be drilled in the cranium with the chain. Cena got fired up and then FU’D Lesnar onto the stairs for the three count @ 17: 34. After the match, Cena cut a promo saying he was going to have to take time off (which never happened).
Synopsis: Goddamn, what a marvelous match. Brock Lesnar delivered one of the most authentic heel beat downs I have ever witness. In fact, the beat down was so realistic—I thought they were going to have stop the match. Kudos to John Cena as well, for doing such a believable job of selling the destruction inflicted to him. The match was booked and wrestled so well; it had no down time whatsoever and never allowing the viewers to get a grasp on where the match was heading.
With Cena going into this match with a losing streak, you just did not know what to expect. And at times, I thought something major was going to happen to the Cena character because of this match. But that ended up being not the case.
And saddest part was, they could have redeemed themselves by Cena taking time off and then wanting to get revenge on Lesnar for putting him on the shelf. Besides Lesnar obviously would have wanted a rematch too—because in his eyes, he underestimated Cena and should have ended the match on the many occasions he should have instead of toying with him.
However, WWE ignored Cena’s promo just stick him in a terrible feud with both Johhny Ace and the Big Show. Meanwhile, Lesnar was inserted into a feud with Triple H that ended up being a muddled mess. Moreover, the feud slayed a great deal of Lesnar’s momentum he until the leading seconds of this match. And now these days, Lesnar feels like just another wrestler on the roster. **** ½
Final Verdict: It would be sicken on WWE’s behalf to figure out how much money they lost off this one idiotic decision. After all, John Cena became the same exact character that most of the WWE’s audience is sick of, while Brock Lesnar became just another wrestler on the roster. This PPV honestly reminds me of Capital Combat 1990: It was a terrific PPV that was completely overshadowed by one idiotic decision—the debut of Robocop. Despite the main event’s outcome, this was one of the best recently published WWE PPVS. It was one of those rare nights where the crowd is white-hot and the wrestlers, road agents, production team, bookers, and even the announce team, brought their A-game.