By Graham "GSM" Matthews
El Torito def. Hornswoggle in a WeeLC Match
I, along with many others, have despised this feud since the start, but this match exceeded expectations big time. Granted, it was goofy early on with the mini-commentators and horrid ring announcer, but the action itself was very fun. Both 'Swoggle and Torito, along with Los Matadores and 3MB, took some crazy spots and the live crowd ate all of it up. It just goes to show that when you don't treat the competitors like jokes, the match can deliver. I will go as far to say this was one of the best matches to ever be held on the Kickoff, right up there with The Usos vs. The Shield from last year's Money in the Bank event.
Cesaro def. Rob Van Dam and Jack Swagger in an Elimination Triple Threat Match
While nothing was up for grabs, the crowd was still invested in the action and was behind both Cesaro and RVD. All three competitors held up their end of the bargain and had an enjoyable matchup. They kept a consistent pace, the eliminations were well done and it was a perfect opener. Cesaro going over was the only logical outcome in order to maintain his strong momentum, but it will be interesting to see where he goes from here with Paul Heyman by his side.
Alexander Rusev def. R-Truth and Xavier Woods in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
The match was basically what you'd expect it to be, though the faces scored more offense than they probably should have. It wasn't a complete squash but it was a good albeit predictable win for Rusev. He looked like a beast attacking Woods afterward, but I just can't help but feel bad for the former Consequences Creed who has been highly misused since coming up to the main roster. On a side note, bonus points to WWE for now billing Rusev from Russia. It hits a little too close to Vladimir Kozlov (if anyone even remembers him), but they'll get great heat for being associated with Vladimir Putin.
Bad News Barrett def. Big E to Win the Intercontinental Championship
Barrett was the obvious favorite here and I can't say I was surprised that Big E was booed here. He hasn't done anything to get under the skin of viewers, but fans have had no reason at all to care about him. He hardly ever appears on Raw and when he has, he's lost, so putting the belt on Barrett was the right move. The match itself was decent enough but nothing memorable, though I didn't think it would be anyway. I won't say that the title will now be prestigious just because Barrett won it since the title changes are always hot, the rest of the reigns are garbage. So, time will tell. Barrett's previous three reigns were all terrible, so I hope WWE learned their lesson this time around and will treat him as the star he truly is.
The Shield def. Evolution
I was stunned to see this match go on this early in the show if only because it received the most hype out all of the event's headliners, but that aside, this was an excellent match. The first 10 minutes dragged on a bit and weren't any special, giving me the impression that this would be your standard tag team match and not the chaotic brawls we've come to expect from The Shield. However, they really picked up the pace down the stretch and had a hell of a match. There were plenty of insane spots from Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Triple H and Randy Orton on the outside of the ring and the crowd was red hot for Roman Reigns' offense in the ring. They went crazy for The Shield's win, showing that they are in fact one of if not the best stable in the last decade. The Shield wouldn't have lost anything if they came up short here, but the fact that they won solidifies them as a dominant, credible faction. Well done, WWE.
Bray Wyatt def. John Cena in a Steel Cage Match
I didn't think it could get any worse following their WrestleMania match. Well, I was wrong. The steel cage didn't add anything to the match at all. If anything, it took away from it. It wasn't even much of a match. There were at least a dozen instances where it was implied that Cena would have won the match had it not been for the interference from The Wyatt Family members. The whole point of the steel cage is to prevent interference, but it instead welcomes it. How is that supposed to make sense? That's been the case with a lot of recent cage matches, but it was especially stupid here. The little kid preventing Cena from winning was campy even for Wyatt. This crossed the line for me and made the feud go from bad to worse. Don't get me wrong, this feud has been enjoyable thus far, but the matches haven't delivered and it has run its course. On the plus side, the match didn't end the show and Wyatt won, but at what cost?
Divas Champion Paige def. Tamina Snuka
Like every other Divas feud in the last six years, Paige vs. Tamina received very little focus, so the fact the crowd was virtually silent for most of the match was unsurprising. Nevertheless, this was a good effort from the ladies and one of the better Divas matches in recent memory. It served its purpose as a buffer match and established Paige as a credible champion. WWE just needs to devote more time to the Divas feuds on Raw (why not give them some mic time?) to make fans care. I assume the Divas division will heat up again when AJ Lee eventually returns to feud with Paige.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan def. Kane in an Extreme Rules Match
This may not have been the most anticipated match in history, but Bryan and Kane have a tendency to have solid matches and this was no different. They made great use of the extreme environment and kept the crowd engaged throughout. Gimmick matches aren't necessary for Bryan to have an entertaining outing, but I think it was in this case given that his opponent was Kane. The forklift spot was innovative and Bryan sending Kane through the flaming table at ringside was very cool. I had no faith that this match would go on last, but it was enjoyable enough to the point where it deserved the spot. It also made the title feel important and gave people hope that Bryan's run won't be similar to Punk's in that all of his championship defenses aren't in the main event. Kane standing tall to close the show seemed to indicate that the feud will be continuing going into Payback. I can't say I'm excited for that, but I guess I wouldn't mind seeing a rematch between the two.
Extreme Rules, to me, has always been one of the best pay-per-views of the year because it's awesome every year and that strong streak continued with this installment. The action as a whole was very entertaining and all the right people went over. The only real low point of the night was the John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt match, but even that wasn't the worst thing ever given that Wyatt emerged as the victor. As with WrestleMania 30, the live stream on the WWE Network worked perfectly and I had very few issues with it if any at all. It was a fun show from start to finish, but where the featured feuds go from here remains to be seen. That being said, I very much look forward to seeing what's in store for Monday's Raw.
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