The tenth annual WWE Extreme Rules event takes place in the city that made extreme wrestling famous: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July 14th. With the card still taking shape, this week is a great week to look back at the five best matches in the event's ten year history.
This list was compiled considering storytelling, memorable moments, athleticism, excitement, and creativity regarding the use of "extreme rules". Wrestling purists have been critical of events that push stipulations on feuds that may not have "earned" them, but through the ten years of the event some incredible matches have taken place. In the comments below, share your favorite Extreme Rules matches and memorable moments from the past ten years.
5. Jeff Hardy vs Edge (c)
Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Extreme Rules 2009
This match was the main event of the first Extreme Rules event, pitting two of the biggest stars of the tag team TLC matches against one another for the World Heavyweight Championship. Hardy and Edge used ladders, chairs, tables, security walls, & steel steps to destroy one another. Both men took multiple falls from over 10 feet and one more than 15 feet. These two men defined extreme for WWE at the turn of the century and they set the bar for violence and danger that may never be reached again on a WWE Extreme Rules program. One of the most memorable moments of the match was a homage to Edge's iconic spear on Hardy in the TLC match at WrestleMania X7, Jeff Hardy executed a Twist of Fate on Edge off the ladder. A creative finish led to Hardy defeating Edge followed by CM Punk cashing in his Money In The Bank contract resulted in two title changes in less than 4 minutes to the shock and delight of the live audience.
One year after the electrifying fatal 4-way match for the Intercontinental Championship, WWE dusted off the 5-man match concept for the first time in nine years on a ppv event. The match began with a melee that left Reigns alone in the ring before being faced with Bray Wyatt, then Samoa Joe, then Balor, then Rollins signaling the man to beat is Reigns.
The match had a series of memorable moments that added new wrinkles to each competitor's character while building action throughout to a crescendo and a surprise finish with Samoa Joe choking out Finn Balor with his Coquina Clutch to earn the victory and opportunity to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship. Some memorable moments were Bray Wyatt & Samoa Joe teaming up, Finn Balor raging against every competitor, and Joe and Balor getting speared through the barricade by Roman while Seth Rollins leaped from the top turnbuckle splashing Bray through the Spanish announce table eliciting "Holy sh*t" chants from the crowd. Each man walked out of this match looking more awesome than before while showing us new sides of their personalities through combat. WWE posted the full match on YouTube for free, watch and enjoy!
3. Roman Reigns (c) vs. AJ Styles
Extreme Rules Match for WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Extreme Rules 2016
After failing to defeat Roman Reigns at Payback, The Club tried to convince AJ to "go extreme" to win the WWE Championship. When AJ hesitated, The Usos & Reigns attacked with steel chairs. The match at Extreme Rules between Reigns & Styles destroyed everything around the ring except the German announce table. Both men used every move in their arsenal. Reigns busted out a sit-out version of the Razor's Edge into pinning combination. Reigns was the first to go for weapons by grabbing a steel chair but Styles ended up using the chair the most to pummel Reigns' spine. The crowd was hot for every move in this match as this continued Reigns' ascent to legendary status. Although the crowd didn't get the title change they wanted here, they left satisfied after an amazing match and the surprise return of Seth Rollins to close the show. This match firmly established AJ Styles in WWE as the future face of SmackDown when the brands split two months later.
2. John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar
Extreme Rules 2012
At the legendary Allstate Arena in Chicago, Brock Lesnar returned to action for WWE after an eight year absence from the company against John Cena. Cena was just coming off a loss to The Rock at WrestleMania 28, capping a year where he fell out of the WWE title picture after dominating WWE to the point of audience exhaustion.
The Chicago crowd booed Cena loudly at his entrance but by the end of the night, Brock Lesnar's work as a heel got John Cena over in Chicago once again. WWE changed their product to a more family-oriented and less violent one in Lesnar's absence but once the bell rang for this match, Brock instilled a sense of danger that had not been seen in years. Perhaps the most memorable moment of the match was the beginning: Cena charged Lesnar at the bell but was promptly taken down and pummeled by Lesnar's elbows. Lesnar busted Cena's head wide open with blood coating Cena's face. The match that followed set a new precedent for mixing the MMA style with professional wrestling. Chairs, tables, barricades, and a chain all came into play in this fight. Lesnar even painted his chest with Cena's blood as a trophy. Although Chicago was hoping for a Lesnar victory here, they left with a newfound respect for John Cena and the knowledge that Lesnar is back in the WWE and willing to do business.
1. The Miz (c) vs Cesaro vs Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens
Fatal 4-Way for the Intercontinental Championship
Extreme Rules 2016
Three PWG alums and one homegrown WWE Superstar (and his wife) combined for the most exciting match in Extreme Rules history. Immediately after the bell, Sami Zayn hit Kevin Owens with a Helluva Kick followed by Cesaro knocking out The Miz with a European uppercut. The hot start commanded the attention of the crowd and the match built from there. Sami had the early advantage before Owens recovered to get his revenge. The match was paced perfectly, leaving two men in the ring for the audience to focus on early while the other two participants recover on the outside until they break up the one on one action before a transition in the match. We got a great Tower of Doom spot leading to Cesaro, Miz, & Sami quickly trading momentum. The chemistry between these four is almost criminal with The Miz embodying opportunism, Cesaro embodying strength, Sami Zayn embodying agility, and Kevin Owens embodying jealousy. Maryse contributed perfectly when called upon in the match as well. The only weak point of the match is that the emotional perspective of each person in the match was conveyed with the exception of Cesaro. That said, this is one of the best multi-man matches in WWE history and every fan should watch this match.