Retro Review: WWE Extreme Rules 2009 – The Summer of Punk Begins

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6.4Solid

While not everything jumped off the screen, and I could have done without the Hog Pen catastrophe, almost everything finds a way to deliver in its own way. A solid collection of good performances highlighted by a pair of real gems in Jericho/Mysterio and Hardy/Edge. But the real star of the night was a young, long-haired up-and-comer named CM Punk.

  • 4-Way U.S. Title Match6
  • Chris Jericho vs Rey Mysterio8.5
  • CM Punk vs Umaga7.5
  • 3-Way ECW Title Match4.5
  • Steel Cage WWE Title Match6.5
  • John Cena vs Big Show4
  • World Heavyweight Title Ladder Match8
  • User Ratings (2 Votes)8.7

WWE Extreme Rules
June 7, 2009
New Orleans, LA

— We’re going back a decade to the very first WWE Extreme Rules pay-per-view. I’m going into this show completely blind. Outside of the brief description on the WWE Network I have no idea what is on this card, and while I’m certain I’ve seen the show it has been a very long time and I only vaguely remember what was hot back in 2009.

— Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler are our commentators for the evening, at least to get things started. I don’t remember the last time I watched a show with a two-man booth…


UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

Champion Kofi Kingston is out first, because this was the era where all champions came out first, for some reason. William Regal follows which immediately has my interest, followed by Matt Hardy and Montel Vantavious Porter!

Kofi with a plancha to the floor early on, and downs Regal with a high-elevation diving crossbody from the top. Some extremely LOUD “Regal sucks” chants as he beats down all three guys in different corners. They set up a Tower of Doom spot in the corner but MVP slips and lets go of the others, so it’s basically just an awkward-looking superplex. Regal blocked Trouble in Paradise from the champ with a Tazplex that sent him crashing into Hardy. That man is an international treasure. MVP had some spots later on hitting some heavy knee strikes and the Ballin’ Elbow on Hardy. Regal nearly drops Kofi on his head and drops MVP with the knee to the temple, knocking him out of the ring. He tried to throw Kingston over the ropes, but he rebounded off them and hit Trouble in Paradise to retain.

This was a lot of fun. Any time I get a surprise William Regal match, and it literally doesn’t matter what era of his career we’re talking about, it’s an absolute delight. It wasn’t a blow-away, but they kept the pace up and everyone worked hard. Kofi really shined throughout the whole thing. That said there were some awkward spots that probably could have been avoided by just slowing things down here and there – most notably MVP missing the Tower of Doom, and Kofi nearly landing on his neck when Regal threw him off the second rope at the end. I liked it though!

Rating: 6/10


— Big Show is interviewed outside his personal tour bus, and talks about throwing John Cena through the spotlight during his recent Falls Count Anywhere match. So, that kind of gives us a frame of reference.

— We’ve got an announce team change, with Jim Ross and Todd Grisham on for the Smackdown side of things, I assume.


REY MYSTERIO (c) vs. CHRIS JERICHO IN A ‘NO HOLDS BARRED’ MATCH FOR THE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP

This is a No Holds Barred match that Mysterio apparently asked WWE officials for. Lots of action on the outside early, with Mysterio doing a plancha to the floor and a great headscissors off the apron. Jericho tries for his triangle dropkick but Mysterio kicks him in the gut, and catches him with a 619 around the outside of the ring post. Cool spot! He actually dove off the top rope with a splash all the way to the floor, which fired up the crowd big time. It’s been all Mysterio so far, but the offense was so high-impact he’s basically done just as much damage to himself. I like it. It feels like they’re in a real fight, almost justifying the stipulation even though they haven’t used a single foreign object yet.

Jericho sends the champ flying out of the ring, into the barricade like a lawn dart. The tides turned completely as he slams him hard into the announce table and the ring post, and tears at the mask while locking him in various submission. Mysterio manages to fight him off and dropkick Y2J out to the floor, before flying through the ropes with a beautiful angled suicide dive. Back in the ring goes for a 619 but gets caught with an absolutely stunning tilt-a-whirl into an Argentine backbreaker, but for a close nearfall.

Mysterio rolls out of the way narrowly missing a Lionsault and nails a dropkick into the ropes. This time he hits the 619 and yells at Jericho to get up, springboarding off the ropes right into a Codebreaker! Jericho with the cover, but the champion kicks out at two-and-three-quarters, bringing the crowd to life.

Things are coming to a close as the challenger goes out to grab a chair, testing its mettle against the ring steps, but Mysterio comes out of nowhere dropkicking it right into his face. Mysterio with a drop toehold face first into the chair, and he jumps off the chair, but Jericho catches him out of the air into the Walls. They tease a submission real hard, but the champ manages to get a hold of the chair, fold it up and blast him with it. He tries for another 619 but Jericho rips his mask off in mid-motion! Small package for 1…2…3! New champion!

This match was all kinds of awesome. I’m sure some people probably complained about there only being one weapon in a No Holds Barred match, but I thought they really brought the intensity and lived up the violence and the action I’d expect from that kind of match, even without all the plunder. These two have had incredible chemistry for like 15 years or more at this point, understand their characters so well, and could have a great match together in their sleep. In 2009 Jericho was just coming off that incredible feud with Shawn Michaels and was doing some of the best character work of his entire career. This match was great, kept me gripped the entire time, and had an outstanding, dramatic finish with Mysterio’s mask coming off and the surprise of a new champion. Great, great stuff.

Rating: 8.5/10


— We get a look back at the history between Randy Orton and Ric Flair, going back to their Evolution days, to this point where the “Legend Killer” was doing his thing and trying to force the “Nature Boy” into retirement. Things got incredibly personal, leading to a steel cage match I remember very clearly. Orton systematically destroyed Flair while Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase locked the door and held back Batista, who had to watch his hero get Punted in the skull.

— Batista shows up and actually cuts a really good, believable promo stearing directly into the camera with a terrifying look on his face, the entire time. He basically told Orton that he assaulted somebody he loves and respects, a legend in the business, and tonight’s match is just the beginning. He’s coming to take the WWE Championship, but after that he’ll wipe out the entire Orton bloodline. Good lord.


UMAGA vs. CM PUNK IN A SAMOAN STRAP MATCH 

Well this is definitely a pleasant surprise! I don’t remember this match happening at all but CM Punk has the Money in the Bank briefcase, and Umaga was freaking awesome, so let’s see what they come up with!

Some light “CM Punk” chants from the crowd to get things started. It’s funny, my automatic reaction now is to cringe and roll my eyes in frustration when I hear them. How time has changed things… It’s all Umaga for the first few minutes, as he bludgeons Punk all around the ring, shaking off a nasty knee strike in the corner, laying in a heavy beating from that thick leather strap. There is NO WAY that doesn’t sting.

Punk takes an absolute mugging in this one. Umaga had this way of making everything he did look absolutely savage. He had some tremendous suplexes and an incredible superkick, a big running cartwheel kick, and a shoulder tackle that could kill a man. Punk does eventually mount some offense, hitting a jumping knee strike in the ropes, then uses the strap to rack the big man in the nuts. He managed to get to three posts and nearly won the match (oh yeah, the point of this match is to hit all four corners of the ring…), but Umaga whipped him back into an early, nastier prototype version of the Tour of the Islands.

The finish of the match, after Umaga continues to murder him for several more minutes, sees Punk slamming him off the top rope using the strap. He got to two corners, then the third, nearly won it again but was stopped short. Umaga tries for the Samoan Spike, but Punk ducks under it and lifts up the big man for the GTS! He hits the fourth corner and wins the match! Wow!

Another really fun match! I’ll admit I honestly have no idea why these two were feuding back in 2009, and that probably took me a bit out of it, but hot damn did these guys work their asses off. I don’t usually like these strap gimmicks unless we’re talking old Southern wrestling, because we just don’t make ’em like they used to, but they utalized the strap and made it look like a leathal weapon at times. The rare spots where they used the corner posts felt big. Most of all, Punk sold his ass off and played the perfect underdog babyface, taking out Goliath. The crowd was really into him, and given how these title reigns turned out, I’m honestly surprised to see him get such a huge victory! Punk looked like a million bucks coming out of this.

Rating: 7.5/10 


CHRISTIAN (c) vs. JACK SWAGGER vs. TOMMY DREAMER FOR THE ECW CHAMPIONSHIP

So the deal here is that if Dreamer can’t finally win the ECW Championship here in this match, he’ll have to leave the ECW brand forever.

A lot of the match is your basic WWE PG-Extreme affair that you saw all the time during this period. A lot of your basic brawling and beating each other up with weapons. While they did a lot of weapon spots, they used the same kendo stick and trash can lid for almost the whole match, then brought out some more trash cans, a stop sign, a crutch and a few other things by the end; none of which got much play.

At one point Swagger just started grappling with Christian and throwing big suplexes like they suddenly weren’t in the middle of a plunder match – a random moment of actual “wrestling”, quickly interrupted by a Tower of Doom spot with Dreamer taking the brunt of the damage being superplexed through three trash cans. He ended up rallying back and breaking a crutch over Swagger’s head, dropped him with the DDT and won the match.

When Dreamer wins, Matt Striker goes on an absolute rampage like he’d just won the damned World Series and found the cure for cancer. He literally screamed his shoot name at one point during the ejaculation. Dreamer went into the crowd and posed with the fans, barely keeping his tears back.

It wasn’t bad. They set up some cool spots here and there, and I think all three guys put a lot into the match, but the rather generic plunder spots in between weren’t all that exciting. I have to call out commentary as well. It’s not just Striker’s going overboard at the end, it’s that Josh Matthews was in his own announce booth the entire time. I don’t think he responded to a thing his partner said the entire night, no-selling everything and basically having a solo conversation in between huge periods of silence. Horribly awkward. They definitely didn’t help the match at all.

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Rating: 4.5/10


— Jerry Lawler is in a Hog Pen surrounded by pigs, mud and slop. He explains the rules to this incredibly scientific wrestling sporting contest, while pig snorts are played over the speakers.

SANTINA MARELLA vs. VICKIE GUERRERO IN A HOG PEN MATCH

Oh good. Santino’s in a drag. Vickie comes out in a dress with her Ms. WrestleMania sash, and announces that it’s a handicap match now with Chavo Guerrero competing instead. Lawler is still in the Hog Pen for some reason, adding useless commentary while Chavo walks through the mud in his socks.

Chavo didn’t take well to having mud thrown at him, and started bludgeoning Santina over and over again, as “she” screamed out. They throw mud back and forth at each other, before Chavo nearly gets thrown into the pigs. Vickie finally gets involved but accidentally hit with a bucket of disgusting slop. Chavo gets the slop as well, and Santino rolls Ms. WrestleMania up with a handful of dress to win the crown!

Well. This was horrible. Even by my ridiculously low standards by which I judged it going in, it was somehow worse than I thought it would be. The kind of late 2000s WWE “comedy” that I would be embarrassed to show my non-wrestling friends. Honestly, I’d probably be embarrassed showing my wrestling friends too…


— Vickie and Chavo walk through the backstage covered in mug and pig slop. Goldust shows up and said he took Hornswoggle to lunch, and needs an expense report. He says Vickie smells like shi-shi-shi-shiitake mushrooms. Okay, that match was garbage, but it was almost worth sitting it through for that one 15-second Goldust segment. She finally gets to her office and Edge tells her to get a good divorce attorney ebcause their sham of a marriage is over. She’s not going to make any of the Raw roster help him in his match tonight. He storms off. She cries. End scene.

RANDY ORTON (c) vs. BATISTA IN A STEEL CAGE MATCH FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP

The promos for this were incredible, so I’ve got some high expectations for this one. I don’t remember steel cage matches from this era being great very frequently, but these two were arguably in their prime here so let’s see what they can put together…

Orton tries to bail immediately and wants nothing to do with Batista, who throws him off the cage and begins stalking him around the ring. A very focused and pissed off Animal, who got a smattering of “you can’t wrestle chants” at the start, but quickly got the fans behind him as he dominated his opponent, spearing him into the steel over and over again.

Every time Orton got any kind of momentum going, he immediately went for the door or tried to climb. There’s a real feeling of desperation as he clearly doesn’t want to be in there with a guy who genuinely comes across as wanting to hurt him, badly. Loving the intensity.

The Legend Killer finally put together a string of offense and also utilized the cage with almost every spot, including some great dropkicks into the mesh. He goes to escape again but thinks twice about it and climbs back down, lining up for a Punt instead. Batista dodges the kick and catches him with a Spinebuster, then nailed the Batista Bomb for the 1…2…3. New WWE Champion!

That finish kind of came out of nowhere before the 8-minute mark. I figured Orton would have kicked out of the Batista Bomb and go at least another 8-10 minutes, but they kept it short and sweet, had themselves a really physical and believable brawl, using the cage numerous times to great effect. I mostly hate modern cage matches, but this one got the job done. The tone matched the stipulation. It could have been longer, but for what they laid out it made a lot of sense to keep it short.

Rating: 6.5/10


JOHN CENA vs. BIG SHOW IN A SUBMISSION MATCH

Commentary plays up how Cena basically can’t win this match because Big Show’s size makes it impossible for him to properly apply the STF. We’ll see how that theory works out for them…

Right on cue Cena goes for the STF early and Show powers out and drops him with a kick to the head. He throws some big right paws and hits a squash in the corner – for those keeping track at home, Big Match John is already dead on the mat.

One thing I’m actually liking is that Cena is selling his jorts off for the big man, making him look like a total monster. They’re telling a good story with John trying for all his usual moves, and Show shaking him off with relative easy, as commentary reminds us each time of how many champions and top names he’s taken down with those moves. If you’re going to do this match, this is how you put it together.

‘Much of the match was your basic brawl. Show controlled a lot of the action and John did a lot of being unconscious. There was a long submission spot as he finally locked in a sleeper using the top rope to climb the giant, wearing him down over time, but he couldn’t hold on forever.

Show goes back to bodying him all around the ring. Things slow way down and largely stay that way. Cena tries for the Hogan/Andre body slam but couldn’t get him up, and the bludgeoning continues as Show hurls him back-first into the ring post. John eventually counters the chokeslam with a big DDT, goes for the STF again but is shaken off. Bear Hug City time…

Let’s just fast-forward to the end, where Cena gets blasted with a Knockout Punch after trying and failing a third time to apply the STF. He gets back up anyways and hits a diving leg drop from the top rope, then twisted up Show’s boot in the ropes. That gave him leverage to finally lock in the STF, and Show has to tap out.

Wait – how did the ref not break up the submission with his foot in the ropes? There’s no reason you can’t be disqualified in a Submission Match, and there are most certainly ropebreaks, unless there just aren’t in this one for some reason. Whatever… I praised the match early on because they really did tell the right story, and I’ve always liked their chemistry together since John’s very first WrestleMania match. It just went on way too long (it kind of has to if you’re going to believable submit a giant) and didn’t keep my attention outside a few cool spots and ideas. Not bad, just not interesting. The crowd wasn’t really into it.

Rating: 4/10


EDGE (c) vs. JEFF HARDY IN A LADDER MATCH FOR THE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP

Jim Ross reminds us that neither of these men have ever lost at Extreme Rules. This is the first Extreme Rules pay-per-view, so I’m fairly sure that was true of everyone on this show, but alright…

Edge is limping around from the start, but hits an early spear in the corner. Hardy comes back with an early Facebuster, so it looks like we’re goin’ hard right off the bat. He goes out for a ladder but gets it dropkicked into his ribs, in a nasty spot. Edge goes for a spear but gets back body dropped out of the ring, through a ladder that had been propped up on the apron. There’s a really bad botch as he later tries for a Flapjack into the ladder, they catch it wrong and it falls over and breaks in an awkward way, and Hardy’s leg gets contorted in the twisted up metal. That could have been really bad.

Jeff tries to save the spot by dropkicking a ladder into Edge’s face in the corner, and mercifully, nobody chants “you f**ked up” at them. One of the more unique moves of the match saw Edge lock in a Sharpshooter with Jeff sandwhiched inside the ladder. Hardy also did a top rope missile dropkick taking the ladder out from under his opponent, in another car crash of a spot.

Hardy sets up a giant ladder in the corner and teases the Swanton, but Edge escapes so he just jumps off the ladder and hangs from the championship belt, until being pulled down. He does a beautiful Whisper in the Wind from about halfway up the Super Ladder. Things kind of just gradually escalated with bigger and bigger spots as they went along. It all led up to Edge jumping off the Super Ladder trying to spear Hardy, and him turning it into a Twist of Fate (more like an RKO) in midair. Awesome spot. He then hung up Edge in the ladder and retrieved the title to win, becoming World Heavyweight Champion!

It’s not a perfect match, but it is a really, really good match. I might go so far as to say a great one by the end of things. For me it took awhile to really pick up and get me interested. At times it felt like a collection of spots they had planned out and not necessarily a cohesive, personal story, and some of the sloppier spots early on really didn’t help things. But the second half was genuinely great. They picked up the intensity quite a bit, and brought out some truly innovative and wild ladder spots – which, of course they have to, because they’re two of the all-time great innovators of the ladder match. That Twist of Fate counter of Edge’s giant spear attempt was the highlight for me. I just wish the first 8-10 minutes or so felt a bit more organic, and it didn’t take so long to reel me (and the crowd) into it, because it came just shy of being one of their real classics.

Rating: 8/10


— CM Punk’s music hits and he sprints down the ramp and announces that he’s cashing in his Money in the Bank contract.

JEFF HARDY (c) vs. CM PUNK FOR THE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP

Punk immediately hits a GTS, but Hardy kicks out at two-and-three-quarters to a huge pop. Punk runs his hands through his hair and is absolutely livid. Hardy catches him with an inside cradle and nearly pulls out a surprise win, but the Straight Edge Savior knees him in the face and connects with another GTS, and this time it does the trick. We have (another) new World Heavyweight Champion!

This is a great Money in the Bank cash-in. I remember being so mad as a lifelong Jeff Hardy fan, thinking it was such a great moment having him beat Edge, one of his career rivals, to win the Big Gold Belt. In a great match, no less! And then here comes Punk to ruin everyone’s day! Of course, these two would go on to have an incredible run together with some career-high segments from both men, leading up to a TLC match in the main event of SummerSlam.


FINAL THOUGHTS

While not everything jumped off the screen, and I could have done without the Hog Pen catastrophe, almost everything finds a way to deliver in its own way. A solid collection of good performances highlighted by a pair of real gems in Jericho/Mysterio and Hardy/Edge. But the real star of the night was a young, long-haired up-and-comer named CM Punk.

Killam’s WWE Extreme Rules Retro Reviews: 

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