Mt. Killamanjaro: Extreme Rules 2013 Review

Mike Killam

WWE Championship – Last Man Standing
John Cena vs. Ryback

Grade: ****

-Results: Ryback spears John Cena through a wall of LED lights, and the referee doesn't even bother counting. Officials help Ryback walk away while a team of medics put John Cena on a stretcher and wheel him out of the arena. No contest (21:57). 

Despite the finish making absolutely no sense, I actually enjoyed this match. Ryback has proven – despite all odds and a ton of undeserved criticism in recent months – that he can work. He's a formidable big man that has now gone twenty-minutes with John Cena, and carried the majority of the action. I think Ryback is over, but it's really hard to tell because just about anybody is going to get a rise out of the audience in a match with John Cena. 

There were some cool spots in the match, including the wall of LED lights, a Fallaway Slam through a table, a rare John Cena high risk spot (again, through a table) and a pretty sick crash through the barricade. I really liked that this match – unlike the previous Extreme Rules match – was more about using the environment and travelling around the arena, than the use of weapons. It felt very fluid, and not as contrived as searching for foreign objects every minute. 

Now…the finish. In a Last Man Standing match, you finish the ten-count no matter what. I mean, unless something real happens, or a guy brings a gun into the arena, you finish the count. You don't have Jerry Lawler go into "kayfabe mode" and try to tell us the match went "too far", and just throw the whole thing out. It didn't make any sense, and never for a second was a single fan in the entire WWE Universe suddenly convinced this whole fake sport is real. It would have made much more sense to end the thing in a double count-out, and give Cena the title by default. But no, you can't risk making the poster boy look weak; having him go out on a stretcher is way more hardcore… 

Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar
Steel Cage Match

Grade: ****1/2

-Results: Triple H revealed that he had a sledgehammer hidden in the cage structure, but Paul Heyman took advantage of his distraction and hit The Game with a low blow. Lesnar struck Triple H upside the head with the sledgehammer, and followed that up with an F5 for the pinfall victory. Brock Lesnar wins (20:10).

While I've thoroughly enjoyed each of their three matches, I personally thought this was the best of the Triple H and Brock Lesnar war. The two of them told such a great story, with Lesnar selling a brutal leg injury at the hands of The Game, and the match transitioning from two men trying to escape, to two men trying to destroy each other. Paul Heyman would inevitably get involved, and ultimately be the key to Brock's success, as he executed his role to perfection as per usual. 

Unlike the majority of modern day cage matches, the structure was there to enhance the fight, not to give the wrestlers an excuse to phone in their performances. You didn't see fifteen minutes of Lesnar trying to crawl out of the cage, and the same "barely made it to his feet on time" save that we've grown used to, over and over again. There was a brief moment that a lot of fans complained about, where Brock could have easily just left the cage and won the match. But by that point, the goal wasn't simply to win a gimmick match. He wanted to hurt Hunter, and end this thing with no grey area left between them. Lesnar obviously knew the cage door was open, he could have escaped, and yet he went back to finish off his rival. I thought it was great storytelling, not a lapse in judgement. 

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