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What's up wrestling fans? I'm back with a look at WWE's latest PPV offering, the one day out of the year where the company goes extreme, and while we caught a glimpse of that last night, I wouldn't quite say it was a day where the PPV went extreme, but more a half-day. WWE presented its annual "Extreme Rules" PPV, an event which began as WWE's "One Night Stand," and made its debut last night under the title of "Extreme Rules." I have to say that overall, this PPV was a mixed bag for me. I applaud WWE for throwing several curve balls into the mix and keeping the show meaningful by swapping titles during unpredictable match finishes, however, as a wrestling purist, my biggest problem with the show was that it fell short of living up to its name. There wasn't much in the form of "Extreme" wrestling, and although there were instances where the extreme moniker delivered, ultimately, I felt like too many of the bouts came up short when trying to provide what should have been a complete and total unique PPV experience which is different from anything else WWE produces every month. That said, let's take an in depth look at all of the action from New Orleans last night.
Fatal-Fourway Match for the United States Title: Kofi Kingston (c) vs. MVP vs. Matt Hardy vs. William Regal: This was a solid opening contest, albeit somewhat short. The bout itself was very physical, and I think all four of these guys work very well together, but there was something missing here that could have taken the contest to a higher level. The opening of a PPV should be as strong as its end, and in this case the match provided some fun moments, but overall failed to deliver an outstanding opening match that a PPV like this requires. Add to that a few botched spots, which normally don't bother me very much, and you end up with a match that entertained, but contained a common theme of the evening; it didn't provide us with an example of "Extreme." It was great to see Kofi go over here, though, and I look forward to watching what I hope is a long US Title reign for the young athlete. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give this opening bout 6 Stars.
No Holds Barred Match for the Intercontinental Title: Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Chris Jericho: This was a great match. Both these guys worked very hard, and although I have a feeling it was not the best match the two could have had, they still provided the night with its first taste of actual Extreme wrestling. My biggest complaint here, however, is with the finish of the contest. Although I predicted that WWE would make the decision to go with a title change, I disagree with it. I can look at the silver lining here and say that it seems as if the Jericho/Mysterio feud is far from over, which is a good thing because I could watch these two wrestle each other for a whole year, but at the same time I think it's a mistake to have Jericho holding a mid-card title at this point. WWE would have been better off leaving the strap around the waist of Mysterio so he could be used to work with up-and-coming talent, and in the meantime Jericho could return to the main event picture where I think he ultimately belongs. I may be speaking too quickly though, and we'll have to wait and see where this angle goes, because I won't be too disappointed with this match outcome in hindsight if the program pays off well and Jericho eventually loses the title back to Rey. 8 Stars.
Samoan Strap Match: Umaga vs. CM Punk: This match didn't do much for me at all. The problem here was that the attempts to win the match and reach all four corners actually served as a distraction from the actual wrestling and flow of the match. There were too many lulls during the bout where one wrestler was trying to reach the four corners only to have his attempts thwarted during a tug-of-war game against his opponent. These two have had very physical singles matches in the past, and ironically the match they had last night, which was supposed to be the most "extreme" of them all, was actually the least extreme of their outings.The focus should have been more on the wrestling and the physicality of the match as opposed to the constant attempts to hit the corners for the victory. Obviously the guys should be wanting to win the match whenever possible, but there could have been a better infusion of wrestling and innovative strap spots throughout. As a side note, the whole "Samoan" strap thing bothered me. JR was reminding everyone before the bout that it was not a normal strap match because it was a "Samoan" strap match which favors Umaga, but in what way was that match different from any other strap bout we've seen in the past and what was uniquely Samoan about it? 5 Stars.
Extreme Rules Match for the ECW Title: Christian (c) vs. Tommy Dreamer vs. Jack Swagger: Ambivalent is a great way to sum up how I felt about this match and for that matter the entire event last night. On the one hand I was shocked and very pleased to see Dreamer pick up a long awaited victory here, yet on the other hand I was slightly disappointed because garbage can lids and stop signs do not make a great hardcore match for me. I will admit that Dreamer's work in this match, especially with the Singapore Cane, was great at times, but in the long run there were too many weak looking shots with the garbage can lids and not enough moments where serious weapons were used or innovative offense was showcased in a hardcore environment. Hats off to Tommy Dreamer though, and kudos to WWE for allowing the veteran to hold onto the one thing that he has been chasing for so long. Here's to hoping WWE doesn't make the horrible mistake of erasing last night's triumph by booking Dreamer to be a weak, push-over style champion, because if booked correctly, this title reign would be a wonderful cap to Tommy's career. 6 Stars.