Extreme Rules, formerly known as One Night Stand, has been a PPV where, FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY, WWE goes to the extreme. While we all know that is a bunch of hogwash, there have been some memorable matches that have defined the Extreme Rules PPV. Here is what I believe to be the top 5 matches in the history of the Extreme Rules PPV. As a side note, while technically the Extreme Rules banner started to get adopted in 2008, I will start from 2009 when the PPV was named as such.
Before we get started, my honorable mentions include Chris Jericho facing off against Rey Mysterio in 2009, John Cena against Batista in 2010, Alberto Del Rio facing Christian in 2011 and The Shield vs. Evolution in 2014.
5. 2012: Sheamus (C) vs. Daniel Bryan – 2 out of 3 Falls (World Heavyweight Championship)
I was looking across the Internet to see what other people thought some of the top Extreme Rules PPV matches of all time were, but I failed to see this match show up often. If you ask me, this was a masterpiece made all the more special considering the fact that this was the match we were supposed to get at WrestleMania 28.
Daniel Bryan was the heel and Sheamus was the face, but the roles might as well have been reversed considering that Bryan had built up sympathy from the crowd with his fluke defeat at WrestleMania. His YES! gimmick was relatively fresh, and he had the crowd in the palm of his hands. What I liked was how Bryan was able to cut Sheamus down to size. He got himself disqualified in the first fall, and took advantage of his weakened state to get an easy knockout in the second fall. That is called in-ring IQ.
Then, Sheamus had to use his size and physicality just to escape and he was eventually able to. This is a highly overlooked match and definitely worth a watch.
4. 2009: Edge (C) vs. Jeff Hardy – Ladder Match (World Heavyweight Championship)
The history between Edge and Jeff Hardy speaks for itself as they have been fighting against each other in form or the other for a decade. From the time when they were individual members of a tag team to singles competitors, the two would constantly push each other whenever they fought.
While you will see way better ladder matches, this one excelled at being creative and the chances that both men took were absolutely insane. It kind of just goes to show the kind of damage that these two were putting each other through back in the day in order to make tag team wrestling relevant again. This match also featured one of my favorite finishes of a match in WWE history, which is when Jeff Hardy squeezed Edge’s body in between one of the rungs on the ladder, making it impossible for him to reach the title. It was just the most Jeff Hardy thing to do, and Edge got his comeuppance in the process.
3. Roman Reigns (C) vs. AJ Styles – WWE World Heavyweight Championship (Extreme Rules Match)
AJ Styles was becoming a bit of a tweener as he was looking to prove himself against WWE’s established face of the company. While it was all but set in stone that AJ would eventually become WWE Champion one day, it was only a matter of when. Maybe thought it would take place here, and you could have fooled me with some of the near falls in this match.
Organized chaos is always great when you have performers who work to their strengths. When you combine Roman’s strength with AJ’s highflying ability and a No DQ stipulation, you have endless possibilities. The sequences where you had The Usos and The Club interfere on behalf of their comrades also added to the chaos as well. While the finish was predictable and painfully telegraphed, it didn’t alter the sheer chaos we got before. And to top it off, Seth Rollins came back from injury to give Roman a surprise Pedigree when it was all said and done. Everyone wins.
2. The Miz (C) vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro – Intercontinental Championship
A lot of people claim that this match is nothing more than an overrated spotfest, but I cannot help but disagree. I believe it was an organized and well-structured match that showcased the strengths of all of the competitors. First, the dynamic of Sami and Kevin continuing their rivalry added some extra drama to the match, and we saw how their feud cost both men the match. Then you had Cesaro, who was showcasing incredible strength and was also in a feud with The Miz prior.
The Miz, being the champion he was, always sought to be a vulture and picking the bones off the work of others. We saw throughout the match how The Miz tried to pin others whenever they were down but was either stopped or failed. It was great consistency. Not to mention, there were some great near falls and very well-done innovative sequences to keep the crowd invested into the match.
1. John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar – Extreme Rules Match
Now, this isn’t exactly a popular choice by a lot of people, but if you ask me, this was one of the rare fights in WWE that looked like a real fight. Brock Lesnar legitimately looked like he wanted to destroy John Cena, and Cena sold the damage absolutely beautifully. Lesnar was fresh off a return from an 8 year hiatus and was ready to take the top spot in WWE once again. However, he had to get through John Cena in order to get what he wanted and he was more than happy to oblige.
It was just a straight beatdown, and if you didn’t know that WWE was fake, you would think that this fight was a shoot. Now, of course, many people were reasonably upset that all it took from Cena was one shot to the face with a chain and an AA to a pair of steel steps to put Brock Lesnar away after all the damage he took. Initially, I was pissed because of the unrealistic nature of how that played out in real life. Over time, however, I considered that a minor wrinkle. For all of Super Cena’s powers at his peak, if there is one thing that he can do at an elite level, it is give off the impression that he is suffering. And boy did Brock make him suffer.