That's Hugo, Master of Disguise.
Welcome to Falls Count Anywhere and that's 10-time Hugo Nominee Chris Garcia to you!
If you haven't been buying WWE PPVs lately, well, you're not alone. WrestleMania was a bit disappointing, though I loved a few of the matches.
The UFC has been tearing it up, even though I was again assaulted with a GSP main event this weekend where they bored the hell out of me.
I decided to give a watch to Extreme Rules, expecting a weaker PPV than most.
I was wrong.
Extreme Rules was a great example of what happens when you give guys time to work matches and build in some psychology. I would say there was only one bad match, and it wasn't the woman's match! And even that bad match told a good story! So there's that.
The opener was Randy Orton vs. CM Punk, a match that had built for a long time and the kind of match that deserved a gimmick match send-off. Great spots and they know how to build to a big finish. It was a Last Man Standing match; you had to answer a ten-count and get to your feet. It was a well-timed match, and they didn't do a lot of counts early, which a lot of these kinds of matches do. In the before times, they called these Texas Death Matches.
The star here was Punk, a guy who understands how to sell a big spot better than any other. He's also a guy who understands how to make a finish, even if he's the one losing the fall. He played it perfectly when he took an OrtonCutter off the top rope. There's talk that CM Punk might not be re-signing with the WWE, most notably in a recent Observer, and I'm thinking that they see the writing on the wall. Even in losing this match, he looked good.
We got an excellent Sheamus vs. Kofi Kingston Table Match. Kofi is awesome. I've always liked him and here he got to show his athleticism by beautifully teasing table spots. He got knocked off the apron but jumped over the table to avoid losing. Sheamus set the table up in the corner and tossed Kofi towards it, but Kofi planted his feet on either side of the turnbuckle and that saved him.
In the end, Kofi gave Sheamus the Trouble in Paradise off the top onto Sheamus who was standing by the table on the floor. It was a sweet spot and if they let Kofi have more time with a lot of his matches, he'd be a much bigger star. Really good match, though not as good as the opener.
They had the Jack Swagger/Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler and Good Ol' Jim Ross match.
This was far better than I expected. Michael Cole came out wrapped in bubble wrap so that when he was whipped, it wouldn't hurt. He did a pretty good promo, too.
They then had a very decent little whipping match which ended with Swager and Cole stealing a victory. Not great wrestling, but they did a good job of working with the limitations. Both Lawler and JR were way over when they used their straps.
The only downer was Kane and Big Show vs. Corre members Wade Barrett and Elijah Burke. It actually wasn't a terrible match, but Big Show's having trouble moving and Kane has slowed down so much.
They told a very simple story: Barret blind-tagged himself in after Burke had slammed The Big Show. Barrett got in and got chokeslammed and pinned. It spoke of dissention in Corre, so at least it accomplished something.
That was followed by Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio. This was a really good Falls Count Anywhere match. Cody Rhodes can work, but he has somewhat limited charisma. He'd probably do well in somewhere like RoH where his size wouldn't work against and he could work an athletic style. Mysterio has been hurting, and he's not nearly as spectacular a flyer anymore, but he's still able to do some special work in.
The best part of this match was that they got the crowd into it. Cody Rhodes did a decent promo ahead of the match. The match started fast and Rey did everything. Rhodes is a bumping machine. They went to the backstage area and the crowd was really into it.
There was a dope spot where Rhodes did a jumping kick into Rey's face and Mysterio hit the floor and they sold like Rey fell right on the back of his head. It certainly sounded like it, but you could tell that it was all flat-back slap against the floor. That got a "This is Awesome" chant going.
Rey got a good pop for leaping off the stage onto Cody who was on the floor. These two were getting good reactions for everything and they'd had some time to build the program. This match ended with Rey hitting the 619 and then a top-rope splash to end it. A really good brawl.
The Layla vs. Michelle McCool match was really pretty good. They didn't get much out of the crowd, but it was a good brawl between the two kept properly short. They made the most out of it and McCool looked better than almost any of the other Divas in recent memory. She worked hard, she sold right for a brawl and she was pinned in a crucifix by Layla. She's taking some time off, so the Loser Leaves WWE stipulation was added.
The finish got a bit of a pop, which is always good to hear. After Layla left, Awesome Kong, now called Kharma, came out and gave Michelle A Double-Arm Facebuster, which was a great way in introduce her.
The Alberto del Rio vs. Christian match was a really good, really smart ladder match. Yes, there were some dangerous spots, but mostly they worked a much safer style than they would have even two years ago. They brought in a stepladder and used it to do a few spots, including Del Rio getting the Cross-Armbreaker on with the stepladder on Christian's arm!
It was a neat, if slightly ridiculous, spot. When it looked like Christian was gonna get the belt, Brodus Clay came out and pulled the ladder out from under Christian, then pulled him down and dropped him. Then Christian busted him open with a ladder. It apparently was a bad cut as there was a pool of it outside and they had to get multiple towels to sop it up.
The finish was Del Rio about to get the belt only to have Edge drive his car out and distract him allowing Christian to knock him off the ladder and get the belt. Really good match and Edge and Christian celebrated in the right afterwards and it really looked like the two were happy that he'd won.
That's something they need to do more of. I remember the first time Kurt Angle won the belt and the celebration they had and it really made for a special scene.
The main event cage match between John Cena, The Miz and John Morrison was really good, especially with Morrison working it like he was trying to be Shawn Michaels. Everyone got their working shoes on and put on a great performance.
The story was that Miz and Cena would focus on each other too much and then Morrison would almost escape and they'd concentrate on him. The Miz gave a great powerbomb into the cage on Morrison that was awesome. Cena ended up getting the piin on The Miz following the Attitude Adjustment and it was a solid ending.
Best show in a while? Yeah, I'd say that. The Ladder Match, the Rhodes vs. Rey match and the Opener were all worth four stars or better. I'd say that they should use serious matches like Layla vs. McCool more often for the ladies. It's right up there with the legendary Tori vs. Ivory Falls Count Anywhere Raw match that was the best woman's match that the WWF had ever done.
All in all, try and see this show!