Since I was a little sprout, I have always been drawn to wrestling. The pageantry of it, the entertainment value, the humor, drama, & athletic showcases somehow captivate me. On Sunday, April 29, 2012, it all came full-circle for me, as I attended my first ever wrestling event. It's an understatement to say that it lived up to expectations, as it surpassed my wildest dreams. My thoughts leading up to the show were very much excited, but I wasn't expected to LOVE my experience as much as I did. I assumed I would go to the event, enjoy the show, & spend my time looking around at the crazy die-hards shouting & screaming, chanting their asses off. I figured I would chuckle as I sat there, subdued and enjoying myself. That's the type of fan I usually am, you don't really see me singing the National Anthem before a Bulls game or singing the 7th inning stretch in Wrigley, outside of some clapping along, I'm not prone to screaming "Let's go Hawks" at a Blackhawks game; I'm a quiet guy. For some reason at Extreme Rules, that all changed. I was one of those crazed fans, along with 2 of my friends, standing there cheering & chanting along with the tens of thousands of people. I'm glad I did, made the event all that much more memorable for me. Now then, the show itself, how was it? Well, I'll tell you!
I didn't have a spectacular seat by any means, but for me, it was more than enough. Allstate arena isn't huge, so it wasn't like I was super far away, pretty close in the 2nd level was fine by me for my 1st show.
For the record, I used all pictures featured in this post from wwe.com, they always do an amazing job with photos, so no better place to look.
My friends & I got to Allstate Arena at around 6, right when the doors were opening up. We headed in line & I immediately made nice with two attractive female John Cena fans behind us. One of my cohorts in our excursion to WWE's most extreme night of the year is obsessed with wrestling & brought his replica WWE Championship belt, spinner & all. My other friend & I were shocked at how heavy it was, it was pretty ridiculous. We got into the arena & immediately made our way upstairs to our seats & were able to take it all in. I pointed out to my friend, who had expressed how he was hoping to see Brodus Clay, that Clay's disco ball was hanging above the ring. He became very excited. The peace & tranquility of the area in front of us was pretty surreal. Like I said, we were there straight away, so the place was hardly filled up. It was cool to look in front of me & see this peaceful area that in a very short time would become an insane spectacle the likes I had never experienced before.
My friends & I took the free time to run to the souvenir stands & check out the merchandise. I don't own any sort of wrestling gear, not since I was a kid at least, and I knew I wanted to come home with something to commemorate my first show. I took a glance at the stand in front of me & could not for the life of me decide what I wanted. Did I want The Miz shirt? Perhaps the new CM Punk shirt. Oh, but hey, they have an Extreme Rules 2012 shirt! Oh jeez, but look at that hilarious R-Truth little Jimmy shirt! I must have changed my mind a million times in line, but ultimately walked away VERY pleased. I decided that not only did my wardrobe need an influx of wrestling merchandise, but a little bit of pink in it too! So I went ahead & asked the shockingly attractive merch lady to give me a pink Dolph Ziggler shirt with "It's Not Showing Off" on the front & "If You Back It Up" on the back, with "DZ" on the left sleeve. I've always been entertained by Dolph Ziggler, one of the most underrated guys in WWE right now, so I was more than happy to wear his shirt. I wasn't done there though! While I was in line to get into the arena, the first chant I heard of the night was a bunch of guys screaming "YES! YES! YES!" for Daniel Bryan. It didn't stop there, seeing as how I was walking to my seat & heard it being chanted once again. I took a glance up & saw a t-shirt with the words "YES! YES! YES!" on the front with a wrestling ring on the back & Daniel Bryan's name surrounding it. Daniel Bryan is hilarious, his story-line love interest, AJ Lee, is quite possibly the most attractive woman on the face of the Earth and I was thrilled to bring his shirt home. Just as I was finishing up, my friend pointed out what was inside the counter I was leaning on. The brand new Edge DVD, You Think You Know Me? The Story of Edge. We had seen a commercial for it on the titantron inside the arena & I turned to said friend remarking that I couldn't wait until it was on Instant Netflix to watch. No need to wait until then, because I picked up that sucker right then & there. What clinched it was the fact that it was super cheap, only $10 to buy at the show! I walked away a very happy customer. One of my friends walked away with a John Cena "Rise Above Hate" shirt & the other one with a CM Punk shirt & wrist bands.
Before settling into our seats for the night, we decided to drop some money on some obnoxiously overpriced food. I figured, since I'm spending way too much money on this crap anyway, I'd go ahead & get the souvenir cup as well. I'll give WWE this, their souvenir cups are actually good quality, unlike at sporting events for any teams I've been to. We hadn't been in our seats for any longer than 20 seconds when we saw the WWE announcer Tony Chimel climb into the ring & the anticipation in the air picked up. He welcomed the backstage interviewer Matt Striker, who came out with the music he used to have when he was a wrestler with a teacher gimmick. I turned to my friend & mentioned how it was unbeknownst to me that Striker was even in the WWE anymore, since he had been knocked off the announcer's crew. Michael Cole was introduced next to the first chorus of boos of the night. He walked out to the song Sweet Home Chicago & it was time for the first match of the night.
United States Championship Match
The Miz vs. Santino Marella (c)
The Miz was the first superstar of the night to emerge from the curtain, getting a decent little pop. I think he initially got cheered more so because the crowd was so amped up to see someone, he just happened to be the first one. He cut a quick little promo, the usual heel esque thing to get the crowd to boo him which got interrupted by Santino's music, the crowd was very happy to see him. Marella strutted to the ring & the first match of Extreme Rules (or at least the pre-show) was under way. Miz hit his usual spots quickly, only to have Santino fight back, ultimately putting Miz down for the 1-2-3 with the Cobra.
Winner & still United States champion - Santino Marella
Bamtastic Rating - 2/5
It was a match that lasted under 5 minutes & really shows how far Miz has fallen in WWE. This time last year he was a main event guy & one of the faces of the company. Now he's losing to Santino in the pre-show in under 5 minutes. I had actually thought Miz would win this match, but oh well. Just a match to get the crowd into it before the real fun began.
They showed Eve, Teddy Long, Cody Rhodes, & Big Show standing in a room backstage on the titantron with the roulette wheel. There were a slew of stipulation matches on the wheel & Show & Rhodes were going to find out which match they'd be competing in later in the night. Eve spun the wheel, the camera zoomed in so we didn't see them manipulating the spin & it stopped on tables match. Was pretty excited about that.
Cut back to the ring & Lillian Garcia is announced as she enters the ring. She welcomes Chicago to the show & tells us they'd be going live in under 3 minutes. Crowd starts going nuts, I'm really into it at this point. The WWE opening video begins & the promo for John Cena & Brock Lesnar begins. Can't help but buy into the idea that Lesnar is a massive douche bag, so I'm completely backing Cena tonight. Booker T & Jerry "The King" Lawler are welcomed to the show & we get a National Anthem from Lillian & the show begins officially! The stage gets lit up by 2 huge balls of fire & the first match is under way...
Falls Count Anywhere Match
Randy Orton vs. Kane
Kane's pyro hits & the arena goes dark for the first time on the night as Kane appears on stage in his Super Shredder mask. The crowd explodes for the first time in the night when Randy Orton's music fills the arena & he methodically walks his way to the ring, you know, just so he & Kane can leave it within seconds of the bell. They ended up in the crowd, which is always a cool site to see & they wind up backstage & the crowd is left there watching the giant HD screen. Zack Ryder showed up in the middle of the brawl backstage, which the crowd dug. A mini "Woo Woo Woo" chant began, but it died quicker than his push. Predictably they ended up in the ring area & Randy Orton cleared off the announcer's table. We all thought the table was going to get destroyed during the opening match, which I did not understand, because they had a perfectly good Spanish announcer's table to mess up. Luckily for Cole, Booker, & Lawler, Orton had other ideas in mind. The first big spot of the night featured Orton giving a hanging DDT to Kane, whose body was resting on the table as Orton drove his head on to the mat below. They found their way back into the ring as the first near-fall of the night occurred when Kane chokeslammed Orton to the mat for a 2-count. Kane went for the Tombstone on a steel chair, only to have Orton escape & give the crowd exactly what they'd been hoping to see, a sick RKO right on said chair for 1-2-3.
Winner - Randy Orton
Bamtastic Rating - 3.5/5
It was a fun match that ended very strongly. They had to do the obligatory brawl to the backstage area to drive home the fact that it's a falls count anywhere match & the spots at the top of stage were pretty cool. Just them being backstage & having to watch everything on the big screen made the crowd antsy. Regardless, a very good 15+ minute match that set the tone for the rest of the night. I really had no doubt in my mind that Randy Orton would win, the highlight of the match was me chuckling to myself at my obsessive friend next to me mimicking Randy Orton's victory stance with his arms in the air.
Some shit happened on the big screen that nobody cared about, which was fine, because when John Laurinaitis was done sounding like his voice was eating himself from the inside & Eve was done being a whore & Teddy Long was done being irrelevant, everyone in the arena started to dance.
Brodus Clay vs. Dolph Ziggler
Somebody Call My Momma began blaring through the arena & I had an uncontrollable urge to dance like a tattooed morbidly obese man with a mohawk in spandex. Brodus brought his hos to the ring, along with that lil' pimp Hornswoggle. They danced, the disco ball turned, my friend creamed his pants & sang along, good times were had by all. Vickie Guerrero interrupted the fun by yelling "Excuse me" like the boner kill she is & was met with a chorus of boos louder than her voice. She announced that Brodus would be facing Dolph Ziggler, who came out accompanied by Jack Swagger in a dress shirt & tie with slicked back hair. So here I am, rooting for my guy, the dude I just bought a shirt for. Surely he will win, right? Nope. No way. They didn't even raise the disco ball during the match, it just stood there waiting for Clay to win so they could start dancing again. Which they did, when Clay hit a sick looking headbutt to Ziggler's stomach (sick looking only because Ziggler is fantastic at selling) & Brodus won the match in just over 4 minutes.
Winner - Brodus Clay
Bamtastic Rating - 2/5
Brodus & friends danced for a little bit post-match as crowd watched a midget & fat guy entertain us with their mediocre dance moves. In all honesty, this whole dancing thing they do is a hell of a lot of fun in person.
They replayed the clip of Rhodes & Show finding out the stipulation to their Intercontinental title match as it was about to begin.
Tables Match For The Intercontinental Championship
Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show (c)
I like Cody Rhodes a lot, so I was looking forward to this match. They brawled for a bit outside the ring, a couple big moves from Big Show on Rhodes occurred, & then Cody won. Yep, just abruptly like that. Show was standing on the apron, Rhodes kicked his leg, which fell to the mat below & through the table on the way. So Cody Rhodes won, when he caused Big Show's foot to stomp through the table. I thought at first it could have been an accident, but it was pretty clear that this was the proposed finish. Rhodes celebrated with his newly regained IC championship & Big Show raged. He chokeslammed Cody through the table in the ring & then tossed him out of the ring & through the table on the floor. Big Show's wreckage garnered him some cheers & he left frustrated to the back, while Cody received plenty of cheers when he finally emerged from the scraps of tables with the title.
Winner & new Intercontinental Champion - Cody Rhodes
Bamtastic Rating - 1/5
The post-match antics were more entertaining than the match itself, but I guess they blew through this match in under 5 minutes to get the strap back on Cody & save time for the main events. I'd prefer the belt on Cody anyway, so the fact that the match was such a disappointment really didn't sting me at all.
Daniel Bryan got interviewed by Striker in the back & he tried his best to get us to hate him, but to no avail. He walked off screen & we saw the gorgeous & immaculate AJ Lee. She is such a wonderful lady.
2-Out-Of-3-Falls Match For The World Heavyweight Championship
Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus (c)
Bryan's music hit & the "Yes! Yes! Yes!" chants had already begun. He orchestrated the chants as he hopped to the ring & the crowd was 100% behind him. Sheamus' music hit & he was initially booed, which turned into laughter as people saw he was wearing a shirt that read "18 seconds" on the front. Humorous little touch by the Irishman. I was expecting to see Bryan hit by a Brogue Kick straight away for an instant pin & tally for Sheamus, but Bryan avoided it and the match was on. I was pretty excited for this match because I had faith this stipulation meant we'd actually see a long & impressive match from these two, rather than the crap we saw at Wrestlemania. It was so much fun to yell "Yes!" every time Daniel Bryan got in an offensive move, that guy is so over. It's amazing to see how over he is as a heel rather than when he was a face. My friend & I were both pleasantly surprised at how long it had taken to get the 1st fall. Like we said, we assumed we'd see a 1st fall almost immediately, it wasn't until Bryan began beating the utter shit out of Sheamus without stopping that we saw our first fall occur, after the 10 minute mark. Bryan was DQ for not stopping his onslaught on Sheamus before the 5-second count. The 2nd count happened pretty quickly after as a beaten-up Sheamus laid there vulnerable. Bryan slapped on the Yes lock & everyone went nuts, screaming for Sheamus to tap. He didn't tap, but instead, passed out on the mat, thus giving Bryan his 1st fall & evening the score. Doctors & trainers checked on Sheamus & Bryan led a monstrous "Yes!" chant, which was met by a moderately loud "No!" chant. That was fun. Pretty much everyone in the crowd knew Sheamus was going to garner the 3rd fall & win, but we were all hoping Daniel would have a couple close-falls to try and entice us into thinking he could do it. He didn't, as the 3rd fall came pretty abruptly when Sheamus hit him with the dreaded Brogue Kick & it was all over.
Winner & still World Heavyweight Champion - Sheamus
Bamtastic Rating - 4/5
It was a hell of a match & there's no complaints from me. They did exactly what we all wanted them to do. They gave the match time, seeing as it was a 2-out-of-3-falls match, they pretty much had no choice but do so. 20+ minutes is more than enough for these two, as Bryan showed why he's considered one of the best wrestlers in the world & Sheamus showed he's more than capable of putting on a show. I hope they continue to do important things with Bryan, instead of letting him fade into obscurity like The Miz has.
After a commercial, everyone noticed two jobbers in the ring. Some Zach Gowen look-alike started talking about how Ryback has been demolishing people on Smackdown, but him & his friend were here to put an end to it. His tattooed tag-team partner went on some spiel about how 2 is greater than 1 & so that would lead them to victory over Ryback. I turned to my friend & remarked how much it sucked that these two losers get mic time, but guys like Christian & Alberto Del Rio are left off the card. Eventually Ryback's music hit & shut these two guys up, I had never been so happy to see him.
2-On-1 Handicap Match
Ryback vs. Aaron Relic & Jay Hatton
Two things stand out the most to me when thinking of this match. The first being how hilarious it was when Ryback had Relic on the mat & grabbed him by the shoulders & started picking him up and slamming him back down. It looked so comical, almost cartoony. The 2nd thing was when we all started to chant "Goldberg" towards Ryback. Ryback hit his power moves & did his super Stunner on Hatton, then put away Relic, pinning both of them at the same time.
Winner - Ryback
Bamtastic Rating - 1/5
Ryback is an impressive dude, to be honest, this was the first time I had ever seen him perform because I rarely ever watch Smackdown. Will be interesting to see what they do with him in the future. I hope I never see Relic & Hatton again.
CM Punk showed up on screen & the crowd went nuts. It was the first time we had seen him all night & there was a roar of approval. He did his little interview with Striker, which meant the WWE Championship match was about to begin.
Chicago Street Fight For The WWE Championship
Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk (c)
Oh God, this match. There wasn't a moment during this bout that didn't absolutely enthrall me. It started when the lights went out & Jericho's pyro hit. I remember watching him walk down for his entrance thinking how this was the guy I was nuts about as a little kid watching him debut as Y2J & here I was more than a decade later live. Then came the biggest pop of the night when CM Punk's Cult of Personality music hit. Chicago adores their hometown heroes & Punk is a prime example of that. He's as Chicago as they come & he does it with so much pride. One of my favorite moments was when the crowd loudly screamed "It's clobberin' time!" with Punk as he made his way to the ring. He played up to the fans & we ate it up. His entrance was worth the price of admission all by itself. The match started out with Punk beating the ever living crap out of Jericho until he was knocked from the ring, which then introduced the weapons. The kendo stick hit Jericho a few times, then Punk eventually met the unpadded security wall. Jericho ended up taking off the turnbuckle padding, which is always a bad omen to the guy who does that in a match. There was a spot where Jericho trash-talked Punk's sister at ringside & got slapped. Looked like Jericho was going to go after her, but Punk made the last-second save & started going nuts. The match really began to pick up here and the electricity was palpable. Punk ripped apart the announcer's tables (finally!) & put Jericho through the covering of one of them. That was kind of cool, seeing as how I don't think I've ever seen someone use that part of the table before. There was a spot where Punk was going to do a clothesline off the top rope, but he slipped. Luckily, Jericho has amazing ring presence & saw he was slipping & moved forward to hit him in the stomach with the kendo stick, making it look a bit less awkward & more fluid. Jericho poured a beer on Punk, which made many people around me mad because he was wasting a perfectly good beer according to them. He went to drink the 2nd beer when Punk got up & started beating Jericho with it, causing him to spit out the beer. The mat was a mess at this point, which made for a good atmosphere in a street fight. Punk did his now signature tribute to Randy Savage with the flying elbow which led to a "Randy Savage" chant. I always love to hear fans chant for Savage, made me happy I could be a part of it for the first time. A couple more teases at finishing moves happened, which led up to the spot of the night. Jericho got placed on the Spanish announcer's table & everyone stood up in anticipation. Punk slid back in the ring, got himself on top of the turnbuckle, fell down, got BACK up the turnbuckle & flew from the ring on to Jericho laying on the table for an amazing elbow drop through the table. Cue the "Holy shit!" chants. It was one of those things you see in a WWE video game, one of those moments that will be replayed for years & I got to be there to see it live. Fucking amazing. They slid back in the ring as Jericho regained control as he set up Punk for a Go to Sleep steal, only to have Punk escape & catapult Jericho into the exposed turnbuckle. Jericho was reeling & Punk hit him with the Go to Sleep & boom, the crowd went nuts as Punk retained the title in his hometown.
Winner & still WWE Champion - CM Punk
Bamtastic Rating - 4.5/5
This is the first time I've ever remotely written about wrestling, so I won't go ahead and pretend like I'm some sort of professional, but I know one thing. I have been a fan of this business for practically my whole life. This was one of my favorite matches ever, whether I was there live or watching it at home I'd say that. The fact that I was actually there to see it just makes it all that much more memorable and special to me. Punk & Jericho are 1 & 1A when it comes to my favorite wrestlers and up there as my all-time guys. They put on a hell of a show and every single person in attendance was more than thankful for it. It's matches like this one that makes you remember why you love watching the product.
We needed a cleanser after that epic match, something to calm us all down. So they went ahead & did the Divas time of the show. They had Eve talking backstage to the Bella twins who were informed that Nikki's opponent for her newly won Divas championship, Beth Phoenix, was unable to compete. Everyone thought it meant Kharma would be returning, but instead, it was Layla. Not bad, but not Kharma, so it wasn't exciting. Layla is gorgeous though, so that helped.
Divas Championship Match
Layla vs. Nikki Bella (c)
No one cared about this match. No Kharma meant no interest. Dont get me wrong, it was nice to see Layla back, but it's something they could have just done on Raw. I guess they just wanted to do a buffer between the WWE championship match & Lesnar/Cena. Bellas tried to do their twin magic thing, only to have Layla do some sick looking neckbreaker & the match was over.
Winner & new Divas champion - Layla
Bamtastic Rating - .5/5
Pretty sure the Bellas are leaving WWE soon, which wouldn't bother me at all. They provide nothing. Layla brings the belt a LITTLE more value because she can actually hold her own. Kharma will return soon enough & her domnating Layla is more impressive than the Bellas.
It was FINALLY time for Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena. The video promo began, the anticipation built. The crowd started standing before the first opening song even hit.
Extreme Rules Match
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar
Lesnar's music hit to a huge pop. People were excited to see him, this would be the first time since his return that he'd be in ring gear & it was cool to be there and be able to say I was in attendance for it. John Cena's entrance was welcomed with "Cena sucks" chants & a chorus of boos. I was 100% rooting for Cena going into the night, so I was, at first, in the minority. The bell rang & instantly Lesnar took down Cena and began punching the daylights out of him. This match was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Lesnar was throwing legitimate shots at Cena which caused him to start bleeding. They kept cleaning up Cena's wound, which led to some booing from the crowd. Between the Lesnar take-downs, the onslaught of punches, Brock was selling the fact that he's an absolute monster. Cena could barely get any sort of offense in & Lesnar just seemed like he was toying with him. Lesnar wrapped Cena's chain around his feet, which led to everyone around me asking why he didn't just kick it off, but oh well, WWE is funny like that. Cena was hanging from the turnbuckle & Lesnar started smashing his left arm into the mat, really focusing on hurting John. Lesnar brought Cena into the ring & hit the F5, but taking out the referee as well in the process. he had the match won but no ref meant no 3-count. A new one came sprinting to the ring to get the close 2-count when Cena got the elbow up. Lesnar was pissed, so of course he took out new referee. Throughout the match, something happened. I don't know why, but the crowd went from booing & hating Cena, to actually sort of backing him. Maybe it was because it was such a good match, it was living up to expectations, and peoples trepidation about it all sorta diminished. Whatever it was, Cena's "Let's go Cena" chants were getting louder & his "Cena sucks" chants were getting quieter. I was not expecting that. Lesnar had one of most astonishing spots of the night when he set up the steel steps in the middle of the ring & bounced off the ropes, which led to him launching himself off the steps & over the ropes hitting Cena who was standing on the apron. It was a move that looked like it hurt Lesnar far more than it did Cena, but it was fucking fantastic. Lesnar got up and as everyone suspected, he was hurt, or at least seemed like it. He limped for a few feet but then started laughing and everything was hunky dory. Lesnar is fucking nuts. He went in the ring to do that spot again, but Cena had wrapped his chain around his fist & when Lesnar propelled himself, he was met with a face full of chain. Lesnar got up and staggered, showing he had begun bleeding. Cena lined him up & picked his ass up for the Attitude Adjustment. He dropped Lesnar down back first on the steel steps for the incredible 1-2-3.
Winner - John Cena
Bamtastic Rating - 4/5
It's amazing that a match that was as hyped up in such a short time as this one was able to live up to expectations. Kudos to both guys for pulling it off and putting on a brutal & amazing show, which was very fitting for an event called Extreme Rules. Cena's pin got a HUGE pop from the crowd who had officially turned to his side. It was awesome. Cena got on the mic and started to address the crowd. It wasn't his usual shtick, he didn't talk about overcoming the odds and rising above hate. He simply stated that he appreciated Chicago. He spoke about how he knew it was CM Punk country, but he also knew it was a wrestling city, which is why he wouldn't have wanted this match in other place. It was pandering, but not obnoxiously. Not in a way where you rolled your eyes, it was definitely sincere & heartfelt. He insinuated that he may be taking a break, which is more than deserved in my eyes. He's the face of the company for a reason, the guy busts his ass more than anybody else. I was always a bit of tweener with Cena. I didn't dislike the guy, but he wasn't someone I really dug either. That's over now. You can officially call me a John Cena fan.
My friends & I piled out of the arena with everyone else raving about how fantastic the show was. We agreed that we would all attend Raw in September when they come back & get some kick-ass seats for it. I was curious to see if I would enjoy live WWE shows as much as I like sporting events and I absolutely do. The experience blew my mind & I'm thrilled to have been a part of it.
Bamtastic Rating for Extreme Rules - 4.5/5