WWE Extreme Rules: Seven things we learnt, including Shield vs Evolution is an impossible act to follow

Is Bad News Barrett turning into WWE’s most unlikely fan favourite?  And how Cena and Wyatt failed to match great buildup

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1. Triple threat kicks things off with a bang

The match between Cesaro, Jack Swagger and Rob Van Dam was the perfect way to start proceedings at Extreme Rules. A fast paced, all action affair, it was a great showcase for all three, with Van Dam and Swagger both looking sharper than they have in a long time. That being said Cesaro stole the show yet again and came out of the match victorious following a Neutraliser onto a rubbish bin (well, this is Extreme Rules). Despite being paired with Paul Heyman (which is normally a good indication he is moving up the card), this feud seem to stagnate Cesaro prior to the PPV following his sensational start to 2014. Hopefully now that he has come out of the feud victorious, he can start to move on to bigger and better things.

2. Bad News Barrett – WWE’s most unlikely fan favourite?

When Wade Barrett first started his ‘Bad News’ character, it was quickly written off as one of the worst gimmicks in history (and with good reason). However, Barrett stuck with his proclamations of bad news, and slowly but surely the crowd started to react, mainly due to Barrett’s excellent delivery. Following his surprise turn at this year’s Hall of Fame, Barrett began to hear the cheers of the audience for the first time and has been on the end of a strong recent push, with wins over RVD and Sheamus on his way to challenging Big E for the Intercontinental title. Preston’s finest walked away with the gold to a loud ovation, while Big E must wonder where he goes from here. Is Barrett on the brink of something big?

3. Shield vs Evolution prove impossible act to follow 

Going in this match had been the main storyline on WWE programming, so perhaps it was a shock  to see this match go on so early. Any surprise was quickly forgotten as the two teams put on a fantastic display, with all six men bringing their A game as their match got the appropriate time to tell an excellent story while keeping the action nothing less than top notch. It’s hard to pick a standout performer from such an exemplary showing, but on a night where they were sharing a ring with a team who had held the World title a combined thirty one times, The Shield came into their own and not only hung with the legends, but also outshone them by the end of the encounter.

Seth Rollins put on a master class of innovative moves, great selling and in the highlight of the match, an awe inspiring dive off a balcony onto HHH and Randy Orton. Dean Ambrose’s ability to make the viewer believe he is actually insane may rival Bray Wyatt’s, and his unique brawling style was interspersed with his own array of spectacular offence, including an exploding clothesline out of the ropes on Randy Orton which drew a monstrous  reaction from the crowd, topped only by his version of the figure four leglock. It would be Roman Reigns who would pick up the pinfall victory, with the spear being enough to put away Batista following what felt like fifteen minutes of both men lying on the canvas as the other combatants brawled into the crowd. Rollins and Ambrose are the perfect foil for Reigns’ big man offence, which is at its most effective in short intensive bursts as displayed during the match. It will be interesting to see how Reigns will hold up on his own as the year unfolds, but for now it seems like a bad move to break up a trio in the form of their lives.

4. Cena and Wyatt fail to match great buildup. 

John Cena and Bray Wyatt came into Extreme Rules off of the back of some great storyline advancement, particularly the eerie sight of a large group of children in sheep masks singing ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands’. With the addition of a steel cage stipulation, it seemed like there would be enough for this match to be very good, particularly following their Wrestlemania outing.

Sadly this was not to be as the match never got above mediocre, despite Wyatt’s incessant demented actions as well as the presence of Luke Harper and Eric Rowan at ringside and eventually in the ring itself. Cena was at his ‘Super Cena’ worst here, seemingly out on his feet one minute then leaping to life to scale the cage. Suspend our disbelief, John! While the match ended with the correct result of Wyatt leaving victorious, the ending of the match, with Cena conquering all three Wyatt Family members only to be thwarted by a small child singing ‘He’s Got The Whole World’ through a voice distorter looked hokey in the….well, the extreme.

5. Paige’s PPV debut a success after shaky start

Norwich’s favourite daughter Paige made her ‘Special Event’ debut with a successful defence of her Diva’s championship, tapping out Tamina with her impressive finisher, the Scorpion Cross. It took a little while for this match to get going, largely to the placement on the card but also due to some clunky offence, but Paige won the crowd round and by the time she locked in the finish the fans were vocal in their support. Onwards and upwards for Norfolk’s finest.

6. Bryan proves he can do it all

While his technical skills are second to none, it is rare to see Daniel Bryan in a full out brawl. With the limitations of his opponent Kane, as well as the anything goes stipulation and build up to the match, this was not the time to be exchanging wristlocks. With the rules removed, Bryan and Kane ended up having a match as exciting as you could possibly get considering ‘The Big Red Machine’s’ involvement, with numerous weapon shots and around the arena brawling taking the place of the usual Bryan in ring exhibition. At times the match looked like it would veer into comedy, particularly with the sight of Kane laid out on a pallet as Bryan drove a forklift to the ring, but it is to the credit of both men that the match stayed on it’s hard hitting, dramatic course.  The addition of fire towards the end added drama and spectacle, and was done as safely as possible, as ridiculous as it sounds. Despite the apprehension going in, Bryan came out looking stronger, although we could all o without a rematch.

7. Cheapest of cheap (Cold) heat

WWE have never been known as the most politically correct company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and their streak continued here as Lana dedicated Alexander Rusev’s win over R-Truth and Xavier Woods to……Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Wrestler and Moment of the night – Seth Rollins’ insane dive from the stands onto Randy Orton and HHH will be replayed again and again.

Line of the night – ‘You can’t pull a man’s moustache’ – JBL on Paul Heyman’s dastardly attack on Zeb Colter’s facial hair.