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Since its inception in June 2009, the annual WWE Extreme Rules event is one of the best shows of the year, showcasing some of the more brutal matches and painful moments that are reminiscent of the Attitude Era and late ‘90s Extreme Championship Wrestling. Over the years, fans have watched as Brock Lesnar challenged John Cena in his first match in nearly a decade, witnessed Seth Rollins dive from the crowd onto multiple opponents, and other extreme moments. With Extreme Rules 2021 right around the corner, now is the perfect time to take a break and look back on some of the great moments from the event’s storied history.
John Cena Punches Brock Lesnar With His Chain-Wrapped Fist (Extreme Rules 2012)
Extreme Rules 2012, which took place at the famed Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois back in May 2012, is often regarded as not only as one of the best editions of the annual pay-per-view event but also one of the most memorable WWE shows of the modern era. With awesome matches like the two-out-of-three falls contest between Daniel Bryan and Sheamus, and the Chicago Street Fight between CM Punk and Chris Jericho, the main event Extreme Rules match between John Cena and a returning Brock Lesnar had to be great.
This match had something for everyone: technical mat-based wrestling, stiff punches, and plenty of weapons, including a steel chain that Cena wrapped around his fist before he punched a charging Lesnar. That blow was enough for Cena to put Lesnar in the Attitude Adjustment (on a set of ring steps) and get the 1-2-3.
Seth Rollins Jumps Off The Balcony Onto Evolution (Extreme Rules 2014)
Extreme Rules 2014 is another bright spot in the event’s history, and one of the reasons for that is the six-man tag team match between The Shield and Evolution. Although this wasn’t an Extreme Rules match, the two competing factions used the entire arena as their battlefield, where they waged war against one another.
Near the end of the match, Triple H and Randy Orton isolated Dean Ambrose from his teammates in the crowd and started putting a beating down on him while Batista took care of Roman Reigns in the ring. But, Evolution forgot about Seth Rollins (just one month before he turned against his longtime allies). As the camera pans up, you see Rollins standing on a balcony in the crowd just moments before he jumps off and takes out Triple H and Orton in spectacular fashion. Reigns is able to make quick work of the future Guardians of the Galaxy star in the ring, and The Shield claims another victory.
Randy Orton Brings Back The ‘Punt Kick’ Against Big Show (Extreme Rules 2013)
Extreme Rules 2013, a.k.a. the final edition of the event to be held exclusively on pay-per-view before the inception of the WWE Network (which has since been replaced with WWE Network on Peacock), is mostly remembered for being the night all three members of The Shield became champions (Dean Ambrose won the U.S. Title, while Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins captured the Tag Team Championship), but it was also the night Randy Orton brought back his feared “Punt Kick” against Big Show in The Viper’s hometown of St. Louis.
The only Extreme Rules match on the card, the one-on-one bout against the two WWE veterans was a hard-hitting affair that saw them resort to various weapons and situations in an attempt to get the upper hand. When Randy Orton couldn’t take down Big Show with two RKOs, he pulled out his old finishing move: the Punt Kick. Following a swift kick to the head, Big Show was out and Orton got the pinfall victory.
Ryback Tackles John Cena Through The Stage (Extreme Rules 2013)
Ryback is nothing but a distant memory for some WWE fans, and an unknown for others, but there was a stretch of time early in the heavyweight's run where he was one of the most exciting wrestlers on WWE TV. During his peak, Ryback was put into a feud with John Cena and one of the highlights of the brief rivalry was the Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules 2013.
The painful match between the two beefed-up superstars was hard-hitting, and featured its fair share of memorable moments. The biggest of those, one that made Ryback look like an absolute beast, took place when Ryback tackled John Cena through a stage panel. That panel didn’t stand a chance, as the duo busted through it on their way to the ground. The match, however, ended in a no contest.
Everything About Jeff Hardy And Edge’s Championship Ladder Match (Extreme Rules 2009)
Extreme Rules made its debut in June 2009 and featured a Ladder match between Jeff Hardy and World Heavyweight Champion Edge. Going into the match, the WWE superstars had a shared history that went all the way back to October 1999, and both are still in the list of the top five who’ve competed in most matches of that type. Despite the high expectations going in, the bitter rivals did not disappoint.
Everything about this match is still great 12 years later. After beating each other on ladders, with ladders, and around ladders, the match finally ends with Edge getting stuck in one of them, allowing Jeff Hardy to climb up and claim his first World Heavyweight Championship.
Daniel Bryan Performs A Flying Headbutt From A Forklift (Extreme Rules 2014)
The main match between WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan and his former tag team partner, Kane, at Extreme Rules 2014 took place just one month after Bryan took home the gold in the electrifying WrestleMania 30 main event, and served as his first and only title defense before he relinquished the championship to undergo neck surgery.
This match had a ton of insane moments, like Kane lighting a table on fire and attempting to throw Daniel Bryan through it, and the use of random luggage in a parking garage, before Bryan used a forklift to carry Kane back to the ring. With a prone Kane in the ring, Bryan jumps off the forklift and delivers a flying headbutt. It didn't make any sense, but was it awesome!
Bonus: Rey Mysterio ‘Loses His Eye’ (Extreme Rules 2020)
Okay, before wrapping things up, I have to talk about the “Eye for an Eye” match between Seth Rollins and Rey Mysterio at The Horror Show at Extreme Rules from July 2020. In a year that saw spectacles like the Boneyard match and whatever went on between John Cena and Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 36, Mysterio losing his eye was truly something to behold. I mean, the stipulation was that the match would go on until one of the competitors lost an eye, and that did in fact happen (wink, wink) after Rollins dragged Mysterio’s face along the ringside steps. The cherry on top came when Rollins lost his lunch at ringside.
Those were some of the greatest and most painful moments from WWE Extreme Rules so far. Who knows, maybe this list will get a little longer once WWE Extreme Rules 2021 airs live, Sunday, September 26, on Peacock.
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Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or chatting about professional wrestling to his wife. Writing gigs with school newspapers, multiple daily newspapers, and other varied job experiences led him to this point where he actually gets to write about movies, shows, wrestling, and documentaries (which is a huge win in his eyes). If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.