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CALDWELL'S WWE EXTREME RULES PPV REPORT 4/29: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live PPV - Brock-Cena, Punk-Jericho in Chicago

Apr 29, 2012 - 9:57:19 PM

WWE Extreme Rules PPV Results
April 29, 2012
Live from Chicago, Ill.
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

PPV Pre-Show

Michael Cole and Matt Striker were shown ringside introducing the show live inside Allstate Arena during the YouTube pre-show. Like for WrestleMania, WWE is running a separate pre-taped Extreme Rules pre-show on the cable TV PPV feed.

In-ring: The Miz opened the show coming to the ring cutting a promo about being stuck on the PPV pre-show. Miz said he singlehandedly gave John Laurinaitis his powerful position at WM28, and this is the thanks he gets. Miz said he was the main event of Extreme Rules last year. But, this year...pause for "You Suck" chant...he's not in a Falls Count Anywhere match like Kane and Randy Orton or a Chicago Street Fight like Chris Jericho and C.M. Punk (taking the temperature of the crowd on the pre-show). He said it doesn't matter where WWE sticks him because he will be the most-talked-about Superstar of all-time. Miz vowed to make this the most popular pre-show in WWE history. C'mon, Miz, those Heat pre-shows during the WWE New York era were pretty big. Miz heeled on Chicago before vowing to become U.S. champion. Santino's music then interrupted Miz's catchphrase to set up the pre-show match.

A - U.S. champion SANTINO vs. THE MIZ -- U.S. Title match

Miz dominated early on as the announcers discusses Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena, mentioning Lesnar's UFC background to suggest Lesnar is in his element in an Extreme Rules match tonight. Cole also brought up Edge's pep-talk on Raw. Santino made his comeback, then finished off Miz with the Cobra in five minutes. Afterward, Striker wondered aloud what's next for Miz after the loss.

WINNER: Santino to retain the U.S. Title.

Announcers: After the match, Cole and Striker talked about the top PPV matches before going backstage to Eve, who was standing by with IC champion Big Show and Cody Rhodes for a spin of the wheel to determine the stipulation for their title match on the PPV. The spin revealed a...tables match.

Live PPV Results

The PPV opened with a video package on John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar. Cena talked in a sit-down interview of his own about there being plenty of "legitimate" guys on the WWE roster before calling Lesnar ignorant. Cena mumbled something about carrying Lesnar's bags only to the hospital. Cena said it's a very important match for him because Lesnar wants to remove him from the equation. He said he doesn't every match, but he always fights.

Live inside the arena, Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T introduced the show before WWE paused for Kane's pyro to hit. Kane came out for the opening match, then WWE replayed clips from the Kane-Randy Orton feud dating back to before WrestleMania. Orton then came out to face Kane.


The match started with a few basic holds before weapons were quickly introduced into the action. Kane retrieved a rubber pipe from under the ring, but Orton turned the tables by bashing the pipe over Kane's back. The action then spilled to the floor and the audio picked up a few people screaming and shrieking. The action moved over the guardrail into the crowd, where the two men took turns bashing each other into various structures. Orton then landed consecutive offense and Booker said Orton is having "no mercy" on Kane tonight. Wrong PPV, Book. Kane then scored a nearfall on the floor as fans counted along with the nearfall.

Next, the two men brawled up the steps of the arena into a sea of people. They brawled next to a row of people wearing C.M. Punk t-shirts, then moved down the steps toward the stage/production area. Orton suddenly pulled out a wrestling move - a dropkick - to deck Kane and score a two count. He teased the RKO, but Kane blocked and landed a big boot for a nearfall on the floor.

Next, they brawled backstage, clearing random people out of the way. They moved into a side room down the hallway and exchanged right hand blows. Orton then threw Kane through a side door into a room where WWE personnel were watching the show on a monitor. Suddenly, Zack Ryder entered the scene by blasting away on Kane. Orton used the distraction to drop Kane with a back-breaker for a two count on the floor. Booker said he doesn't know what Ryder was thinking. Kane regained control of the "match" a few moments later, then blasted Orton out of the room back into the hallway.

Down the hallway they went, where Kane chucked an object at Orton before making a cover. The ref was slow to make the count, though, and Orton kicked out. The fight then moved back into the arena, where they fought on the stage. Orton then right-hand-punched Kane down the ramp toward the ringside area. And, back inside the ring they went at 10:30. Orton landed right hands to "Yes!" chants before landing a corner clothesline. Orton followed with a snap powerslam before rolling to the floor to retrieve a chair.

Back in the ring, Orton jabbed the chair into Kane's gut before cracking it over Kane's back. Another chair shot to the back. And, another. And, another. "Yes!" chants for each chair shot. Kane rolled out of the ring, though, so Orton followed out and jammed Kane into the announce table. Cole said Orton has lost it. Orton then cleared the English language announce table before Kane suddenly grabbed Orton around the neck. Orton blocked a chokeslam, though, and bashed Kane on top of the announce table. Orton then set up for and connected with his trademark elevated DDT off the announce table onto the floor. Orton made a cover, but Kane kicked out.

Orton and Kane reset with an RKO tease, but Kane shoved Orton into the ringpost. Kane made a cover on the floor, but Orton kicked out. Back in the ring, Kane climbed up top, but Orton sprung to his feet and crotched Kane. Orton then wanted an "evil" Superplex, as called by Lawler, and connected. Kane kicked out of a pin attempt, though. The announcers stressed that Kane seems indestructible tonight. Orton then wanted the RKO, but Kane blocked and nailed a chokeslam center-ring. Kane made a cover, but Orton kicked out in time, popping the crowd.

Kane, frustrated, reset with a chair involved in the proceedings. Kane wanted the Tombstone onto the chair, but Orton slipped out, ducked a clothesline, and RKO'ed Kane onto the chair to a big reaction. Orton was slow to recover, then made the cover for the three count. Orton wins.

WINNER: Orton at 16:45. Crazy, engaging match to start the PPV that WWE doesn't present often. (How the rest of the PPV fares after this will be interesting to see.) The story was clearly to make Kane seem like an indestructible monster within the match so it would mean more for Orton to finally score the fall. If Orton is going to be built up for a Brock Lesnar match this summer, he needed an emphatic win here after floundering on Smackdown the past six months.

Backstage: John Laurinaitis, with a haircut, talked to Eve about how exciting the FCA match was. Eve then brought in Teddy Long, who was sporting a giant "Hello, My Name Is Teddy Long" nametag. Long poured some champagne for both Eve and Laurinaitis before they toasted to People Power. Suddenly, Laurinaitis's phone buzzed. It was Triple H. Laurinaitis walked off to have a more private convo with Hunter, leaving Eve to mock Long.

In-ring: For the buffer segment, Brodus Clay's music played to bring out Clay, Hornswoggle, and the dancers in matching black outfits. Cole said this is ridiculous. Booker said they're having some fun. Vickie Guerrero then introduced Dolph Ziggler as Clay's opponent.

(Side Note: WWE just texted a mobile alert that Beth Phoenix is off the PPV. Nikki Bella will now face a mystery opponent for the Divas Title.)

2 -- BRODUS CLAY (w/Hornswoggle) vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Jack Swagger and Vickie Guerrero)

The vocal males were in favor of Ziggler early in this match. Chaos in and out of the ring allowed Swagger to clothesline Clay on the outside. Clay was nearly counted out, but made it back into the ring, where Ziggler went on the attack. Ziggler worked over Clay, then Clay made a comeback and started shaking and jiggling. Clay suddenly delivered The Headbutt to a running Ziggler, who flew across the ring to sell the move. Clay followed with the big splash for the pin and the win. After the match, dancing ensued before WWE replayed The Headbutt a few times.

WINNER: Clay at 4:17. Basic TV-style buffer match after a wild opener. The Miz and Dolph Ziggler haven't exactly been positioned as future top heels, though, to start this PPV.

In-ring: Lilian Garcia announced a Tables Match as production staff as shown setting up tables ringside and on the entranceway. IC champion Big Show came out first as Cole noted Show has the advantage tonight. Show made a kid's night by giving him his beanie, then WWE replayed Show's title victory over Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania earlier this month. Rhodes then came out and stopped to feel a few of the tables on the entranceramp. Booker said Rhodes is completely unsure of himself tonight.

3 -- IC champion BIG SHOW vs. CODY RHODES -- Intercontinental Title match -- Tables match

Rhodes took a big chop to the chest, then flew across the ring via giant back body drop to start the match. Rhodes rolled to the outside to try to collect himself before Show set up a table in front of the announcers. Rhodes cut off Show at the knees, though, before the action spilled into the front row. Show then tossed Rhodes back over the rail to ringside before they re-entered the ring. Show tried to throw Rhodes into a table propped up in the ringside, but Rhodes ran off the table and transitioned in mid-air into a beautiful disaster kick. That was quite innovative.

The match moved to the floor again, and Show dismantled Rhodes, who complained about a hip injury. Show then landed another chop to the chest before rolling Rhodes into the ring. Rhodes rolled back out the other side to collect himself, but Show caught up with him and landed a knock-down clothesline. Rhodes sold an eye injury and called over the ref, but Show picked him up and rolled Rhodes back into the ring.

As Show was about to climb back into the ring, Rhodes dropkicked him lightly. To regain his balance, Show stepped through a table ringside and stopped when he realized his boo-boo. The ref saw it, then called for the bell, giving Rhodes the win because Show "went through a table" with his foot. Rhodes is the new IC champ.

Post-match: Rhodes celebrated, then Show got his heat back with a big mid-ring spear. The vocal males booed Show, who welcomed it. Show then set up a table center-ring as Cole called this poor sportsmanship. Show grabbed Rhodes and delivered a big chokeslam through a table as the vocal males booed and the casual fans cheered Show. Show, frustrated, started to leave the ring, but paused when he saw the broken table that cost him the match. Show then picked up Rhodes - now with a torn-up back - and tossed him clear over the top rope through a table in front of the announcers. Cody sold the impact before Show left the ring with his music playing. They replayed Cody's rough night at the office before showing Rhodes being tended to by refs and medics ringside. Rhodes eventually made it to his feet to hobble away with possession of the title.

WINNER: Rhodes at 4:37 to capture the IC Title. Exactly what the TV build-up and stipulation foretold - Rhodes gets a "win" to regain the title without Show having to lose. Then, Show stood tall in the post-match.

Next, a plug for Edge's DVD aired.

Backstage, Matt Striker brought in Daniel Bryan, who told Striker he's a stupid teacher and represents why the U.S. education system is out of the Top 20 worldwide. Daniel then rattled off a list of reasons why he's better than Sheamus, which the crowd echoed with "Yes!" chants. Bryan then heeled on Chicago, calling the crowd over-rated and unoriginal, like Sheamus. Bryan then vowed to become two-time World Hvt. champion. He did the "Yes!" chant and the crowd joined in. Bryan then walked off and the camera picked up on A.J. lurking in the background.

Announcers: The talking heads trio was shown on-camera discussing Bryan before Cole fed to a video package from WM28 when Bryan's Mania dream turned into a nightmare with an 18-second loss to Sheamus. The video transitioned to the past month of WM28 fall-out leading to tonight's re-match.

In-ring: Lilian Garcia announced the first wrestler to secure a combination of two pinfalls or submissions will be the winner. So, the implication is a count-out or DQ decision doesn't count. D-Bryan came out first to loud "Yes!" chants. After his music stopped, Bryan stood in the ring and glared into the crowd before Sheamus's music played to boos from the crowd. Sheamus was sporting a bright red t-shirt simply reading, "18 Seconds," to taunt Bryan. In the ring, Lilian handled formal ring introductions. Bryan was booed. Sheamus was also booed.

4 -- World Hvt. champion SHEAMUS vs. DANIEL BRYAN -- World Hvt. Title match -- 2/3 Falls match

Once the bell sounded, the two men engaged in a basic tie-up. And, 18 seconds is gone with no fall. Lawler noted he looked down at his watch to make sure 18 seconds has passed. Sheamus teased an early Brogue Kick, then smiled and told Bryan he was "that close." More feeling-out as the crowd chanted, "Yes! Yes!" Suddenly, Sheamus busted out a Texas Cloverleaf center-ring. Sheamus had trouble maintaining the hold, though, and Bryan reached the bottom rope for a break. Sheamus followed with a big clothesline, but Bryan came back with a clothesline of his own. Bryan then baseball kicked Sheamus to the outside.

On the floor, Sheamus caught Bryan flying off the apron and smashed Bryan back-first into the guardrail. Big visual and loud noise to sell the impact. Back in the ring, Bryan crotched Sheamus on the top rope, then went on the attack. Meanwhile, the crowd picked up a dueling chant of "Daniel Bryan / Eight-teen-seconds." Bryan slapped on a submission hold wrenching Sheamus's right arm every which way before using his foot to push Sheamus's shoulder down to the mat for a two count.

Bryan continued the assault, including choking Sheamus on the middle rope. Bryan broke the hold, then went old-school dramatically telling the ref that he has until five, before going back to the shoulder. Sheamus then made a comeback with a clothesline, shoulder, and big knee lift. Bryan tried to recover on the apron, but Sheamus blasted away with ten big forearm strikes to the chest. Sheamus followed with an overhead slam for a two count. But, he lost control airballing a corner attack, then Bryan rolled up Sheamus for a close nearfall.

At 11:00, Bryan took Sheamus up-top, but Sheamus knocked him down to the mat and landed a big shoulder block for a close nearfall of his own. As the wrestlers reset, Booker endorsed Bryan as the real deal and championship-material. Bryan then ducked a clothesline and Sheamus went flying over the top rope to the outside. Bryan then tried a flying suicide dive, but Sheamus blocked with a forearm from the outside. Back in the ring, Sheamus tried to finish off Bryan, but Bryan countered. Sheamus then blocked the "Yes! Lock" twice...then a third time. Sheamus suddenly went flying shoulder-first into the corner turnbuckle, and Bryan capitalized by ramming Sheamus shoulder-first into the ringpost twice. It's worth noting the ref was not counting a ten count.

Back in the ring, Bryan teed off on Sheamus with multiple kick strikes. Bryan continued to kick away at Sheamus, drawing the ref's ire and a five count. The ref then called for the end of the fall, giving Sheamus a DQ first fall. Well, that goes against Lilian's pre-show announcement that the winner will be a combination of two pinfalls and submissions. It's also inconsistent with the ref not counting a ten-count ringside.

*** Sheamus 1, Bryan 0 via DQ at 14:30 ***

After a brief pause, Bryan immediately went to the "Yes! Lock" center-ring. Sheamus sold that he was fading as the announcers said the ref should declare Sheamus unconscious. Sheamus sold life momentarily, but Bryan re-applied the hold and the ref was forced to call for the bell, giving Bryan the second fall.

*** Bryan 1, Sheamus 1 via submission at 16:40 ***

After the second fall, medics checked on Sheamus as Bryan chanted, "Yes! Yes!" over again. The crowd joined in, creating a hot atmosphere as Sheamus continued to be checked on by medics. The camera zoomed in tight on Sheamus, who said he can continue. The medics continued to evaluate Bryan, who orchestrated a dueling "Yes! No!" chant. Sheamus struggled to his feet as the ref and medics continued to evaluate Sheamus. The ref then called for a re-start of the action, Bryan charged Sheamus, and Sheamus blasted Bryan with a Brogue Kick out of nowhere. Great sequence. Sheamus was slow to make the cover, though, before covering Bryan for a two count only. "And, we continue," Cole said.

Champ and Challenger reset at 20:00 with the two men slow to their feet. Bryan was the first man to land offense with a kick strike. They started trading bombs before Bryan blasted Sheamus with a kick to the side of the head. Bryan made a cover, but Sheamus kicked out in time. Bryan tried a top-rope attack next, but Sheamus cut him off with his good arm. Sheamus and Bryan battled up-top before Bryan headbutted Sheamus to the mat. Bryan then stood tall on the turnbuckle, flew off the top, but missed with a diving headbutt.

Sheamus came up hot with a comeback at 22:20. Sheamus delivered the Irish Curse backbreaker before surveying the crowd and pounding his chest. Sheamus wanted to end the match and absolutely destroyed Bryan with a Brogue Kick that Bryan sold by going inside-out. Sheamus then made a quick cover for the pin and the win. Sheamus is still World champ. Afterward, they replayed the finish before Sheamus left the ring with possession of the gold. Lawler asked if there's any way for Bryan to blame that loss on A.J. "No," Cole said dejectedly.

WINNER: Sheamus 2-1 falls at 22:55. Excellent, excellent bout. Bryan was phenomenal in defeat and Sheamus came out of this looking strong headed into the next chapter of his title run. I didn't expect A.J. to get involved, so that was good to keep the Bryan-A.J. story off the PPV and on TV. It will be interesting to see what they do with Bryan following the PPV, and how he will try to blame A.J. for the loss. Or, if they use the inconsistent application of the rules for Bryan to claim he only lost one fall. (***3/4)

Backstage: Santino was watching a monitor. Two jobbers were in the ring. Santino then brought in Great Khali for a look at this. In the ring, Aaron Relic & Jay Hatton were the assigned jobbers. The two men cut promos claiming two is greater than one. The one was Ryback, who finally came out to get his High Voltage squash in.

5 -- RYBACK vs. AARON RELIC & JAY HATTON -- handicap match

Once the bell sounded, the crowd chanted, "Goldberg." After Ryback dismantled the first jobber, the crowd chanted Goldberg's name again. Ryback then destroyed the second jobber before pinning both men. Backstage, Santino and Khali commented in an indiscernible language. After a replay of the "match," Ryback shouted that he needs more.

WINNER: Ryback at 1:51. Another buffer match trying to get mid-card stars on PPV. Fine to space out the big matches and let the audience take a breather.

Backstage: The camera focused on WWE champion C.M. Punk. Matt Striker then interviewed Punk, noting Punk's family members will be here tonight. Punk talked about his feud with Chris Jericho, then said he will prove he is the Best in the World tonight. Punk said someone will be waking up from a hangover tomorrow, but not him, and not from booze, because he'll be putting Jericho to sleep. Great closing line. ... Cole then fed to a video package on the Punk-Jericho feud.

In-ring: Chris Jericho was out first sporting a brighter light-up jacket. He was also sporting black jeans with kneepads over the jeans to sell this being a Street Fight. After a pause, C.M. Punk's music played to bring out Punk to a huge reaction in his hometown. It didn't quite have that once-in-a-lifetime MITB 2011 PPV feel, but was still very strong. Punk, sporting blue jeans, slowly made his way to ringside and embraced his family members on the front row. Punk then entered the ring and posed for the appreciative crowd, which chanted, "C-M-Punk" once his music stopped. Justin Roberts handled formal ring introductions as WWE picked up various Punk signs and banners in the crowd.

6 -- WWE champion C.M. PUNK vs. CHRIS JERICHO -- WWE Title match -- Chicago Street Fight

Once the bell sounded, the two men remained in their corners. Punk, who did not remove his t-shirt, charged at Jericho, who met him center-ring. They traded blows to make this feel like a fight, then Jericho retreated to the outside. Punk smashed Jericho, then found a Kendo stick under the ring and used it to blast away at Jericho in the ring. Punk tried a wild swing, but missed, and Jericho slipped to the outside to run away. Punk chased him down inside the ring, then landed a big clothesline. Punk followed with a Kendo stick to the back, then pointed to his sister to say that one was for her. Jericho then grabbed the referee to hide, which allowed him to thumb Punk in the eye when Punk took his eye off the ball.

Jericho, with his first offense of the night, popped Punk in the gut with a Kendo stick, then dropkicked Punk off the ring apron to the floor. Jericho arrogantly raised his arm in the air to celebrate his offense, then followed to the outside to inflict more damage. Back in the ring, Jericho removed a top turnbuckle pad and threw it down at Punk, who suddenly came back with Ric Flair chops. Punk went for a corner knee, but Jericho side-stepped and dumped Punk to the floor.

On the floor, Jericho removed the padding from the guardrail area right in front of Punk's family. Jericho taunted Punk's family, then Punk's sister reached back and slapped Jericho. Jericho paused to sell, then lunged at Punk's sister, but Punk came out of nowhere with a big splash to Jericho's back. Punk went nuts, clearing the announce table, before slamming Jericho onto the announce table lid. Punk then removed his t-shirt and stalked Jericho. He wanted a piledriver on the floor, but Jericho back-dropped Punk to the floor. Jericho then smashed a TV monitor across Punk's back before breaking the announce table lid across Punk's back.

Back in the ring, Jericho made a cover for a nearfall. Jericho then settled into a mathold working over Punk's back. Punk suddenly tried a high-flying move, but stumbled off the top rope and Jericho capitalized with multiple Kendo stick shots. Jericho taunted Punk, telling him to look at his sister and calling him a drunk. Punk suddenly went for a small package, drawing a two count, then Jericho cut off Punk with a step-up enziguiri. Next, Jericho went under the ring to retrieve a can of beer. In the ring, Jericho raised the beer in the air before pouring it over Punk's head.

Jericho then went back under the ring to grab another beer. Jericho started chugging the beer, so Punk back-kicked him before cracking the Kendo stick over Jericho's back. Punk then scored with a Kendo stick-aided leg whip off the ropes to deck Jericho. "C-M-Punk" chant as Punk delivered his combination high knee and bulldog. Punk then crotched Jericho with the Kendo stick before calling for the end. Jericho slipped out of the GTS, though, and the two men countered each other, resulting in a stalemate.

At 14:00, they reset with Punk deciding to go up top. Jericho scrambled to the corner, though, and crotched Punk. Jericho then lit up Punk with chops and slaps before climbing up top. However, Punk fought him off, then gathered himself, and came off the top with a Macho Man elbow drop, but Jericho kicked out of a pin in-time. A light "Randy Savage" chant followed, then Jericho landed a bulldog after slipping out of the GTS. Jericho gathered himself before trying the Lionsault, but Punk blocked. Jericho blocked the GTS, though, before running Punk head-first into a chair wedged in the corner.

Jericho hit the Codebreaker out of nowhere, but didn't make a cover. He opted for the Liontamer, which he transitioned into the Walls of Jericho. Punk reached the bottom rope for a break, but there are no breaks in a Street Fight, so Punk pulled them through the ropes for him to reach down and grab a fire extinguisher outside the ring. Jericho didn't see Punk grab the extinguisher, though, and Punk sprayed him in the face to break the hold. Punk then jabbed the extinguisher into Jericho's gut to knock him to the floor. On the outside, Punk placed Jericho on the Spanish announce table before going back into the ring. The crowd roared, wanting a top-rope dive, then Punk positioned himself up-top. Punk nearly lost his balance, but recovered, smiled, raised his arms in the air, and flew onto Jericho through the table with a big elbow.

After a pause for the move to sink in and for both men to sell the effects, Punk slowly rolled Jericho back into the ring, then slowly made a cover, but Jericho kicked out. Punk followed right up with his submission center-ring. Jericho had nowhere to go, but he grabbed a Kendo stick. Jericho dropped the stick, though, but then grabbed it again and smashed Punk with the stick over Punk's head multiple times to finally break the hold. Big counter. They reset, then Jericho smashed Punk with a codebreaker into a chair. Booker gave away a kick-out saying there will be a new champion, then Punk kicked out of a pin attempt.

At 24:20, Jericho got up, angered, and told Punk to stay down and give up. Jericho then slowly lifted Punk to his feet before setting up for Punk's GTS finisher. Jericho arrogantly walked around the ring before declaring he's the Best in the World. Punk countered the GTS, though, and catapulted Jericho into the exposed turnbuckle. Punk then followed right up with the GTS center ring, and it was good for the pin and the win. Big crowd reaction, then Punk's sister was shown celebrating on the front row. Cole said Punk proved something tonight by taking everything Jericho had to dish out and more. After a replay of the high points, Punk was shown jumping into the crowd to celebrate with his hometown fans and family members.

WINNER: Punk at 25:15 to retain the WWE Title. That was a heck of a Street Fight as a standalone fight, and went to the next level incorporating elements from their Mania match, the TV build-up, Jericho's heel character, and Punk's resiliency. It looks like Punk-Jericho is over, but they could have Jericho do something on TV to push for another re-match at Over the Limit next month. (****1/4)

Announcers: Cole, Lawler, and Booker took a deep breath after that bout, then Cole recapped Santino's U.S. Title retention over The Miz on the YouTube pre-show.

Backstage: Eve was shown walking down the hallway to approach the Bella Twins and Beth Phoenix. Eve told Beth that she's not medically cleared to wrestle tonight. Beth said she'll get her title back eventually. The Bellas thought they had the night off, but Eve told Nikki that she has a surprise opponent for the Divas Title tonight. Eve told her not to worry because it's not Kharma. That's interesting acknowledging Kharma. It also killed off some buzz that started up in the crowd in the background. The Bellas breathed a sigh of relief, then joked about it being Mae Young.

7 -- Divas champion NIKKI BELLA (w/Brie Bella) vs. MYSTERY OPPONENT -- Divas Title match

The Bellas came to the ring first and Lawler suggested he give them a massage since they look a little tense. Before her mystery opponent came out, Nikki cut a promo vowing to be the longest-reigning Divas champion in WWE history. Suddenly, Lay-Cool's music hit. Layla (not Michelle McCool) came out, making her in-ring return after a year-long absence. After a back-and-forth, Layla scored a quick pinfall to win the title in her return match.

WINNER: Layla at 2:45 to capture the Divas Title. It looks like the Bellas are out, then WWE will transition to Kharma and Layla in a feud after Eve name-dropped Kharma backstage. It's potentially Awesome Kong vs. Gail Kim from TNA's early Knockouts division brought to WWE TV.

Backstage: Striker sprinted down the hallway to catch up with John Laurinaitis about his conversation with Triple H. Laurinaitis said they talked business and will be announcing some items tomorrow night on Raw.

After the segment, Cole said in a voice-over that Hunter will be on Raw tomorrow night. Cole then fed to a video package on John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar for the PPV main event.

In-ring: Justin Roberts announced the main event, then WWE paused for a while as the crowd chanted, "Let's Go Cena / Cena Sucks." Brock Lesnar's music then played to bring out the big man making his WWE in-ring return after an eight-year absence. Lesnar was sporting his black & white MMA-inspired trunks and a black cut-off t-shirt. Cole listed Lesnar's accolades as Lesnar made his way to the ring, then bounced inside the ring. A bit of a mixed reaction for Lesnar, who ripped off his t-shirt before pacing around the ring. Once his music stopped, the crowd booed a bit. A light-up "Brock Couldn't Make The UFC" sign was visible over his shoulder.

After another pause, John Cena's music played to bring out Cena to boos. Cena, sporting his chain from Raw around his neck, paused on-stage, collected himself, and stormed the ring. Cole said Cena has returned to his Thug Life roots and is here to fight. They cut to a shot of two kids sporting Cena gear who were on the front row facing the hard camera waiting for Cena the entire night. Cole noted Cena is wearing his traditional gear and Lesnar is wearing MMA gear, complete with MMA gloves.

8 -- JOHN CENA vs. BROCK LESNAR -- Extreme Rules match

Once the bell sounded, Lesnar charged right at Cena and tackled him mid-ring. Lesnar lit up Cena with right hands, then smashed him with a clothesline. Cena was busted wide open and the ref pulled out his gloves to check on Cena. After a pause, Lesnar went back on the attack with more massive blows to Cena's head. A medic entered the ring to check on Cena as they replayed Lesnar's match-opening shots to the head. Back live, Cena suddenly tried to tackle Lesnar, but Lesnar tackled him and landed more blows to the head. Lesnar continued to blast away at Cena before landing a big knee to the gut. Lesnar then knocked Cena to the outside and told him to come bring it on. The announcers sold awe as Lesnar bounced around in the ring and smiled.

Cena slowly re-entered the ring before a medic checked on Cena again as the crowd booed. Cena then waved off the medic, then caught Lesnar with a back-elbow. Cena suddenly tried the AA, but Lesnar blocked and landed two German suplexes. Lesnar then stalked Cena, but Cena fought back with back elbows. Cena then smashed Lesnar into the ref, who was bumped to the outside. Lesnar then smashed Cena off the ropes with a big shoulder tackle to cut off Cena.

They reset with Lesnar stalking Cena, who was covered in blood. Lesnar then placed Cena in a submission hold inside the ropes and Cena screamed out in pain. Lesnar eventually knocked Cena to the outside before bouncing around inside the ring. On the floor, Lesnar slapped on a submission before ramming Cena into the guardrail in front of the two young Cena fans on the front row who must be traumatized after tonight's show. Back in the ring, Lesnar grabbed Cena's chain, but then dropped the chain, conveying that he doesn't need a weapon to finish off Cena. Lesnar then smashed Cena in the ribs before grabbing the chain again. Lesnar wrapped Cena's ankles together with the chain before taunting Cena to get up.

At 8:30, Lesnar hung Cena upside-down in the corner before taunting Cena some more. Lesnar teed off on Cena with right hands before snapping his left arm down toward the mat. Lesnar then walked to the other side of the ring to check on the ref, who was still KO'ed. Lesnar saw Cena get up, so he went after Cena, who fought back with right hands before Lesnar whipped Cena into the ring steps. Lesnar smirked, then walked back over to the ref and tossed him back into the ring.

At 11:00, Cena tried to climb back into the ring, where Lesnar awaited. Suddenly, Cena teased the AA, but Lesnar blocked and hit the F5 center-ring. In the process, the ref was KO'ed again. Lesnar made a cover, waited for a second referee, and Cena kicked out. Lesnar then destroyed the second ref since he's untouchable due to the demands Laurinaitis signed. This is great making Lesnar seem like he's untouchable and is too dangerous for WWE. A third ref came to ringside as Cole said Laurinaitis's agreement is "biting him in the ass right now."

Lesnar placed ring steps in the ring as the intensity picked up in the arena. Lesnar stood tall on the ring steps, then Cena tried to fight back, but Lesnar slapped on another arm submission trying to break Cena's arm. The crowd picked up a dueling chant as Cena fought the hold, then suddenly lifted Lesnar a few feet off the ground before slamming Lesnar back-first on the ring steps. Cena then slowly went up top and went for a guillotine, but Lesnar moved and Cena ate the mat. Cena rolled out of the ring as the crowd came down from Level 8 to Level 3. In the ring, Lesnar stood on the ring steps again to taunt Cena, who slowly made his way back into the ring.

Once Cena entered the ring, Lesnar bounced off the ropes, then flew off the ring steps into a flying splash onto Cena, taking both men off the ring apron to the floor. That was a sick risk. Lesnar came up selling his left knee, then medics checked on Lesnar. Lesnar limped it off, then smiled and lifted his arms in the air. Cole called him sick. But, in the background, Cena wrapped the chain around his fist. Lesnar then wanted another flying splash, but Cena popped Lesnar in the head with the chain. Cena then entered Super Cena mode and begged Lesnar to get up. Cena got himself fired up, stalked a now-bloody Lesnar, wanted the AA on the ring steps, waited, and delivered the AA on the ring steps. Cena made a cover on the ring steps and scored a pin for the win. The crowd exploded for an emphatic finish to an intense match/fight/brawl/spectacle.

WINNER: Cena at 17:43. This PPV went exactly how I thought it would until the outcome here with Lesnar losing. It felt like WWE realized they needed to protect Cena, as it could kill their star to lose another big PPV main event twice in the same month. Where they go from here with Cena was spelled out in the post-match. Where they go from here with Lesnar will be really interesting. As for the match, it was super-intense, had good storytelling with Lesnar the big, bad bully dominating and offering physicality not seen in years, and gave Lesnar his "out" by getting about five wins before Cena got the decisive pinfall. Plus, WWE managed to get some of the crowd on Cena's side by the end of this, which was a victory in and of itself. Excellent main event spectacle. (***3/4)

Post-match: Medics and refs hit the ring to check on Cena, who told a medic that his left arm is "f-----." The announcers covered for Lesnar, saying this match had to be stopped on two separate occasions before Cena came back for the win. Lesnar acted punch-drunk ringside, ready to fight some more. It was like Triple H at WM27 standing tall while the winner was barely alive in the ring. After replays of Lesnar dominating Cena before Cena won, they showed Cena standing tall in the ring, his face covered in blood. Cole said Cena knows he was in the fight of his life. Lawler said Cena never would have been the same if he lost here after losing to The Rock at WrestleMania.

Cena then took a mic and sat down on the ring steps. He said he's probably going to get sent home for speaking when he's not supposed to (trying to sell this as a shoot), but he's going home anyways. Cena said this might be C.M. Punk's town, but this is also a wrestling town. He said the people were supposed to see an extreme show tonight and he's proud it was in Chicago. The crowd cheered. Cena said all of them - bad guys, good guys, everyone - give everything they have every night. Cena said if he's going to take a vacation, it was a great way to go out. Cena said if he's going out, there's no other way he would want to leave. Cena dropped the mic and slowly left the ring, still selling the arm from Lesnar's submissions. They signed off at 9:57, three minutes before the top of the hour.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Excellent PPV. From start to finish, it felt like MITB 2011 in Chicago with strong matches throughout, a nice pace with downs to follow the big ups, and some very strong performances throughout followed by an intense main event. This is replay-worthy.


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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.

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