With this year’s event just around the corner, Matthew Roberts takes a trip in the TWM Time Machine to revisit Extreme Rules 2012.
Back in 2012, Extreme Rules found it’s slot as the post-WrestleMania pay-per-view. Long time readers will know that I am not a fan of PPV’s that are based around “gimmicks” but in a way positioning the show after Mania like this was a pretty savvy move. After all, you can have the traditional Mania rematches the next month but with a built in way to make them different.
We kick off with Randy Orton and Kane clashing in a match that is at least different from their Mania match a few weeks earlier by having a Falls Count Anywhere stipulation added to it. I can’t remember exactly how I felt about either man in 2012 but I would guess it was pretty similar to feelings in years to come in that both really did not interest me by this time in their careers. That Orton is still hanging around seven years later is unfathomable to me. But that’s a rant for another time. Watched through hindsight it’s a decent enough effort and a hot crowd does make it appear a better match than it actually is. The real problem is that the generic brawling around the arena/backstage isn’t as entertaining as what happens when it gets back to ringside. And maybe it’s just me, but a Falls Count Anywhere match that ends in the ring is always a disappointment to me!
Brodus Clay against Dolph Ziggler (with the legendary trio of Hornswoggle, Jack Swagger and Vickie Guerrero knocking about at ringside) can’t follow that as it’s essentially a squash match with the only thing of note being the crowd being firmly behind Ziggler. As ever Dolph bumps impressively but doesn’t really sell (always a bug bear of mine) and he takes the loss.
It’s strange to sit here in 2019 when Cody Rhodes is (according to the IWC anyway) one of the hottest names in wrestling and look back to a pretty awful match with The Big Show here, where the Table stipulation was picked via a roulette wheel on the pre-show. Rhodes’ win here in less than five minutes is rendered largely pointless when Show batters him post-match anyway. But some things never change in the WWE do they?
After their 18 second match at Mania, Daniel Bryan and Sheamus met again here, with Sheamus’ newly won World Heavyweight Title being on the line in a Two out of Three Falls match (from a time when they didn’t have this stipulation five times a week on TV!). I hate the term but it’s a very smarky crowd tonight as they cheer on heel Bryan; of course it would soon become clear that if the intention was to bury Bryan at Mania with such a quick loss it was going to have exactly the opposite effect. This is a fantastic match, full of well worked psychology, and is a rare occasion where both winner and loser come out with a ton of momentum – even if Sheamus was never really allowed to capitalise on it.
Ryback kills two jobbers next (and the WWE made a rod for their own backs here with this push if they didn’t want Goldberg chants night after night) before we get another World Title Mania rematch as CM Punk and Chris Jericho clash in a Chicago Street Fight. It’s a lot better than their, frankly, mediocre Mania match which is a surprise as you would expect a “straight” match between these two to be a better fit than a gimmicked one. This is a classic, old school type brawl where it was very easy to be lost in the moment and believe that these two really did hate each other. Just don’t question why Punk would later be upset about “part-timers” taking spots when Jericho interrupted his “hugely successful musical career” to, erm… come back for this feud and claim a Mania spot.
We get the tragic news that Beth Phoenix hasn’t been medically cleared to take on Nikki Bella for the Diva’s Championship and despite everyone watching wanting the replacement to be Kharma (aka Awesome Kong) we get Layla. Which means this is an awful match that, unlike the World Heavyweight Title match earlier, actually kills off both winner and loser.
And then we come to the first in-ring match for Brock Lesnar in the WWE in eight years. That it’s against John Cena, and through usual WWE booking nonsense results in a Lesnar loss, is just one of those things wrestling fans have to accept. Of course, it was a fantastically “big” match for a “B” pay-per-view and it’s actually very good (although not quite the match I remember) but despite the fact that Cena willingly absorbs one hell of a worked beating (and boy, it looks very stiff at times) the result makes no more sense now than it did then. Cena’s no selling of the action post-match is what you’d expect from him, of course, but again that doesn’t make it any the more palatable seven years on. Still, that aside, it’s a great match that ends a very good card.
With the main event matches (Cena/Lesnar, Jericho/Punk, Bryan/Sheamus) delivering big style, there is a lot to enjoy on this show. That almost everything else isn’t very good brings down the vibe as a whole, but nothing that is really poor outstays it’s welcome. So you might be making use of the skip function during this show, but the best bits are certainly worth re-visiting.
You can find me on Twitter @IWFICON.