One championship belt hangs above the ring, reachable only by ladder. Another belt will be awarded to the survivor of a Triple-Threat Cage Match. Some title changes, some surprise matches, and a newcomer to the WWE locker room round out the show from Tampa, FL.

The cage drops down for the main event, with John Cena versus John Morrison versus The Miz, and, like Jesse Ventura used to promote, it’s nice when the champ enters last as The Miz does tonight — without Alex Riley, by the way. Miz also tries to exit first, but the Johns double team him before turning on each other. Cena hoists Miz up for an AA, but Miz uses the height to clamber up the cage. Cena catches him and bulldogs him back down.

Cena starts his finishing sequence on Morrison, but Miz drops Cena with a Skull-Crushing Finale. Morrison takes advantage by scaling the steel, and when both The Miz and Cena catch up to him, the Johns bring him down with a superplex that drops the champ very awkwardly on the back of his neck.

After all three take some time to recover, Cena has to chase Morrison up the cage again. As The Miz tries the door, Morrison kicks it in from his perch, but Cena proceeds to square Morrison across the open door. Miz drags him back into the ring again, but is soon once again atop the cage, spinning off with Starship Pain onto both Miz and Cena.

Morrison goes to the door for the win, but R-Truth shows up to pound him against the stairs, entering the ring to further assault his former friend before leaving with all three wrestlers down. The Miz is up first, climbing for an escape, but Cena brings him back down with an AA off of the top rope, knocking him out for the win.

Winner via pinfall and NEW WWE Champion: John Cena

Cena celebrates, but the focus immediately after the match is on R-Truth’s attack.


Match #1 – CM Punk (w/ David Otunga, Michael McGillicutty & Mason Ryan) vs. Randy Orton – Last Man Standing Match

Booker T, Josh Matthews, and Jerry Lawler are seated ringside to provide commentary, while the Cole Mine sits vacant for the time being.

Randy Orton, still sporting his Smackdown shadow, gets some early good news as the anonymous Raw General manager bans the New Nexus members from ringside. Punk sets the tone by removing a turnbuckle pad on his way in, but Orton gets the first shots in by taking Punk out of the ring. Punk goes to the next level when he produces two kendo sticks from under the ring and smacks Orton several times. Orton gives a little kendo action back to Punk, but a slingshot into the exposed turnbuckle nearly knocks Orton out.

As Orton struggles to his feet, Punk wedges a chair into the opposite corner. After a sequence of dodged RKOs and GTSs, Orton runs Punk into the chair and out to the floor. Orton strips down the announcer’s table, but elects to bring Punk back into the ring where he is felled by a GTS for a nine count. Punk has an idea to side suplex Orton onto a chair, but Orton hits an RKO instead for another nine count. Determined to end it, Punk wraps an open chair around Orton’s neck and sends him running into the ringpost, but Orton makes it to his feet once more.

An RKO on the announcer’s table also fails to keep Punk down, as does a modified GTS landing Orton’s head on the steel steps. Both wrestlers crawl back into the ring, but Punk gets caught on the top rope by an energized Orton and a kendo stick attack. The finishing touch is Orton launching Punk off the ropes for an airborne RKO.

Winner via 10 count: Randy Orton

Rating: 7/10

What did you think of WWE Extreme Rules?
It was great – 20%
It was okay – 22%
It was disappointing – 11%
Didn’t see it – 47%

Jerry Lawler makes his way to the back in preparation for his match as the 2011 Draft is reviewed –- minus the John Cena shenanigans. Speaking of shenanigans, King Sheamus is backstage with Teddy Long complaining about having to wrestle Kofi Kingston for the U.S. Championship in a Tables Match. Sheamus is unhappy that he’s defending his title against a non-U.S. citizen. Ummm, Sheamus? Red, White & Blue tights does not an American make.

Match #2 – Kofi Kingston (challenger) vs. King Sheamus (champion) – Tables Match for the United States Championship

Sheamus has a fondness for Tables Matches, having won his first WWE Championship in such a contest against John Cena. Kingston lands a flurry of fast punches and produces a table early on, setting it up on the outside floor. Sheamus sets up another table on the opposite side and takes yet another one into the ring, leaning it in a corner. Sheamus whips him towards the corner, but Kingston dodges a bullet by straddling the table, landing his legs on the ropes. He follows it up by striking the champ with Trouble in Paradise, sending him to the floor. As Sheamus gets to his feet, Kingston flies off the top rope and leg drops Sheamus through the table for the win.

Winner via table breakage and NEW United States Champion: Kofi Kingston

Rating: 5/10

Todd Grisham is backstage trying to get pearls of wisdom from R-Truth, but the disgruntled wrestler follows up his excellent heel promo from Monday night with bad comedy that focuses on a conspiracy to remove him from the championship match.

Match #3 – Sir Michael Cole & Jack Swagger vs. Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross – Country Whipping Match

Cole is secured in bubble wrap. Nice. Swagger takes a whipping and tags in Mr. Bubble, who takes several whips without any effect. Lawler breaches the defences with a punch to Cole’s jaw, then rips off the bubble wrap. Swagger gets back in and soon has Lawler trapped in an ankle lock, but Ross baits Swagger to his corner, giving Lawler a chance to deck Swagger and make the tag. Ross actually gets an ankle lock on Cole, but with Lawler missing in action, Swagger distracts Ross and allows Cole to roll him up for the win.

Winners via pinfall: Sir Michael Cole and Jack Swagger

Rating: 3/10

Todd Grisham gets a more sensible promo from John Cena, who predictably promises a victory.

Match #4 – Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio – Falls Count Anywhere Match

Rhodes approaches the ring with his two flunkies handing out paper bag masks to the “extremely ugly” fans. To clarify, there are no disqualifications in this match, as the two enemies waste no time in taking the fight to the ramp. Mysterio sends Rhodes into the video screen, then brings him down with a seated senton off the stage platform. The scrap goes through the crowd and into the mezzanine with Mysterio and Rhodes hitting Beautiful Disasters and cross-body blocks off of available ledges. Sorry Tampa fans, but you have set a new low standard for “Holy Sh**” and “This is Awesome” chants.

As the fight returns to the ring, Rhodes seems to have the upper hand before Mysterio pulls a Great Muta and spews a blinding liquid into Rhodes’ face. A 619 and a springboard splash later, and Mysterio takes the latest battle in this long-standing war.

Winner via pinfall: Rey Mysterio

Rating: 6/10

Backstage, as several Divas discuss an undisclosed matter of great importance, Layla enters the room and cautiously asks for forgiveness for any hurt she’s caused them. Beth Phoenix acknowledges that nobody in there likes Layla, but Kelly Kelly says they like McCool less, so they offer her their support. That’s funny – I think that’s how most Canadians will justify their vote in the Federal election Monday. Cole is now back with the announcing team.

Match #5 – Michelle McCool vs. Layla – No Count-Out, No Disqualification Match – Loser Leaves the WWE

It’s a nice touch that the Lay-Cool music goes on uninterrupted as both wrestlers make their way separately to the ring. McCool attacks Layla as she makes her entrance pose. Both exchange even-handed moves in the ring, but the story unfolding seems to be how much these two don’t want to fight one another. McCool tries for her finisher first, but Layla escapes and hits her Lay-Out instead. McCool survives by getting her foot on the ropes, and as Layla tries a bridge pinning attempt, McCool turns it into a Faith Breaker. She hesitates to go for the pin, and Layla reverses the cradle for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Layla

Rating: 5/10

As McCool comes to grips with the loss, Kharma works her way to the ring. McCool forgets about all the various escape paths available to her and simply awaits Kharma’s arrival. Kharma hits what looks an awful lot like the Glam Slam and walks away, leaving the Divas in the locker room watching the monitors in understated shock.

Match #6 – Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez)- Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship

Del Rio and Christian exchange the obligatory softening maneuvers before they head to the floor to retrieve a ladder. Del Rio shoves Christian under the ring to buy some time, but Christian emerges on the other side and dropkicks Del Rio who had a ladder in hand. Del Rio goes for the first creativity points by bracing a ladder between the apron and announcer’s table – but that will wait to be used later.

Christian gets halfway up an oversized ladder, but Del Rio stops him by tossing a mini-ladder into his back. Christian responds soon after by back-dropping Del Rio from the apron onto another ladder, and delivers an honourary spear not long after that. Remembering his earlier craft project, Del Rio sets Christian up on the ladder between the ring and announcer’s table, then leaps for an elbow — but Christian rolls away leaving Del Rio to a destructive fall.

Christian climbs to seemingly certain victory, but Brodus Clay enters the ring to pull Christian down. Del Rio gets a cross arm-breaker on Christian, intertwined in a ladder, and starts his slow climb. A honking horn gets Del Rio’s attention, though, and Edge has arrived in a jeep to give Christian a chance to send Del Rio to the floor and retrieve the belt.

Winner via pinfall and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Christian

Rating: 7/10

As Christian and Edge celebrate the victory, hopefully someone is attending to the very bloody Brodus Clay. In the meantime, Alex Riley is trying to pump up The Miz, but a seed is planted that maybe Riley is tired of being told to shut his mouth.

Match #7 – Wade Barrett & Ezekial Jackson (challengers) vs. Kane and Big Show (champions) – Lumberjack Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship

Barrett is the first to nonsensically leave the ring only to be sent right back in, followed by Kane being thrown over. He is attacked by the lumberjacks, followed by a messy confusion with Kane fighting one of the Uso brothers in the ring before Jackson levels Kane with a clothesline. After Big Show gets the tag, Jackson body slams him and prepares for the pin, but Barrett tags himself in only to be choke-slammed and pinned to Jackson’s chagrin.

Winners via pinfall and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: Kane & Big Show

Rating: 4/10

Match #8 – John Cena (challenger) vs. John Morrison (challenger) vs. The Miz (champion)

Rating: 7/10

Event Rating: 6/10

The next WWE pay-per-view is Over the Limit on May 22, in Seattle, WA.

Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and has one chance at being a world champion: I can climb up ladders at an above average pace.