The close of this week’s Raw was an apt send-off into the oxymoronic PG-13 Extreme Rules, giving us something we don’t see every week, if ever: Triple H and Brock Lesnar engaging in fisticuffs. It almost didn’t happen; Lesnar was set to strut out of the arena until Hunter, inside of a steel cage, referred to him as “Brock Lesnar… the Bitch”. Up until that point, I was still admiring the fact that Lesnar shows up to collect a paycheque each week for simply standing there while Heyman speaks on his behalf. He’s truly living the American Dream.
Heyman divulged to Triple H that he and his client “enjoy the perverse pleasures in life”. I know, Heyman. I saw the pictures you posted to your Twitter account before this current WWE run, and they sure as hell weren’t PG-13. Heyman’s final taunt was to promise Triple H he would “go down as the loser” this Sunday, which is a mighty tempting prospect. Will Triple H get a second successive victory; or, to put it another way, will Brock do the job for the second successive pay-per-view? With the added variable of the steel cage, this is one to look forward to.
The Shield laid out John Cena yet again, though it was Ryback who came down to deliver the devastating punchline. He went straight for Cena’s bad ankle with a few swings of the steel chair, meaning the Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules will essentially be another 20 or so minutes of similarly one-track ankle-bashing. Afterwards, Ryback screamed at Cena that it was “my life, my rules!” That may be so, Ryback, but I do believe you just obeyed the meticulously plotted directions of a paper script.
In the biggest twist of the decade, it was inadvertently revealed that the man portraying Fandango – Curtis Hussey – can’t actually bust a move. In a dance-off against Dancing with the Stars alumni Chris Jericho – who came out dressed as an extra from West Side Story – Fandango covered for his inability by having dancing partner Summer Rae land badly on her ankle. At this moment, Ryback was presumably akin to a shark smelling blood.
So the dance-off inevitably devolved into what everyone came to see: a physical face-off between Jericho and Fandango, the latter receiving some passable heel heat from the fans. Jericho was furious – or pretending to be furious, or pretending to care – following his beatdown, saying, “I’ve been trying to play by other people’s rules, but that is going to change,” which, funny enough, is exactly what Ryback had said only 10 minutes previous. Meticulously plotted directions of a paper script.
I misread Ziggler’s “up next” card as “impotent World Heavyweight Champion”, which is more or less what he currently is, figuratively speaking. Ziggler has a bad boo-boo (concussion), so he’s been forced out of the Championship match this Sunday. That bout is now an I Quit #1 Contender’s Match between Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio. On the ramp, AJ Lee and Big E Langston argued with Swagger and Zeb Coulter as Teddy Long stood between them. I knew Teddy’s game; I knew he was going to shoot for that trademark Teddy Long move of placing all four competitors in a tag match for later that night. It’s the same trick he’s pulled over 2394 years of SmackDown. If Teddy Long saw four pigeons scrapping over a piece of bread, he’d divide them into two teams and have them go at it in a tag match.
Astonishingly, Teddy surprised me by instead booking a match between Big E Langston and either Swagger or Del Rio. The fans would use the WWE App – AND ONLY THE WWE APP, it was stressed – to decide his opponent. At this point I’m unsure of how to use the WWE App, and I want Michael Cole to give me one of his 15-minute step-by-step guides. Instead, Cole informs me that I can use the WWE App to watch extra footage from backstage, such as Big Show sitting motionless in his locker room as he watches a Randy Orton match. It’s like watching a Bela Tarr film in full colour, except this man has long ago polished off his supply of potatoes. Imagine sitting there in silence as the entire WWE universe watches you. Worse still, imagine pretending – for the good of the WWE Universe – that you’re visibly enjoying the entirety of a Randy Orton match. This man is a workhorse. I salute you, Big Show.
The match absolutely no one is anticipating for this Sunday has to be The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes. Luckily that’s taking place on the pre-show, so the next worst thing is undoubtedly Sheamus vs. Mark Henry in a strap match, or the why-does-this-exist match. In the greatest display of idiocy I have ever seen on a WWE broadcast, Josh Matthews obliged Mark Henry in a demonstration of how the strap match supposedly works. This is the sort of man who follows a knife-wielding bandit into a back alley for the promise of “free candy”. Even Michael Cole called him a moron; that’s like putting Randy Orton in a headlock. Now, usually when a commentator is mercilessly assaulted, another member of their broadcast team steps up to their defence. It’s usually King, sometimes Booker T. Here, they simply sat in silence as Matthews was dragged around the ring like a rag doll.
Sheamus eventually emerged, presumably to primarily administer a beating to Henry and not knowingly rescue Josh Matthews. I was actually expecting Sheamus to whip out one of those “hilarious” anecdotes about an Irish uncle, though I suspect he may have run out of those by now. There are only so many uncles one man can lay claim to. Sheamus dutifully chased Henry from the ring as JBL informed us that this Sunday: “These men will be bound together by a leather strap, and everything is legal.” Extreme rules, indeed. Grrr.