This is our latest wrestling list as we consider the best Extreme Rules matches of all time. Now, WWE Extreme Rules 2021 is just around the corner. And so we’re looking back on the most memorable Extreme matches from over the years. So, let’s take a look at our choices for the best Extreme Rules matches ever!
Best Extreme Rules Matches
10. Randy Orton vs. Big Show, WWE Extreme Rules 2013
We kick off with a battle of two WWE veterans during an era where veterans would be ten-a-penny. So, Show would temporarily turn face (of course it was temporary) to side with Randy Orton and Sheamus. After their loss to The Shield at WrestleMania 29, Show would (obviously) turn back heel. And it was Randy that would garner Show’s attention, leading to this PPV showdown six weeks after Mania.
This isn’t hugely memorable or anything, but it is an exciting match that makes the most of the stipulation. And emanating from Orton’s hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, the clash has a big-fight feel to it. Furthermore, Orton has motivation to succeed here, which isn’t always the case when it comes to The Viper. After hitting a huge DDT through the ropes early on, an RKO and a Punt would allow Orton to triumph. Show would then leave television for a stretch before – yes! – turning babyface upon his return. And people wonder why fans make fun of Show’s face and heel switches.
9. Daniel Bryan vs. Kane, WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match, WWE Extreme Rules 2014
Team Hell No would officially divorce long before Bryan’s climactic WWE Title win at WrestleMania XXX. As a result, with Evolution reuniting to face The Shield, Kane would target his old buddy. And he would summon the spirit of The Big Red Machine. So, this is more noteworthy for being Bryan’s only major defence of his WWE Championship in the Mania 30 aftermath. That’s because he would shortly have major neck surgery that would threaten his career at one point. Bryan would return, only to have to retire in early 2016 due to concussions. And it was only after his remarkable comeback at WrestleMania 34 that he would finally regain the WWE Title again.
Back to 2014, though. And though some fans don’t like the hijinks, I would enjoy this crazy battle of two polar opposites. Indeed, only in WWE could a forklift become a platform to dive from, and onto a monster, no less. But Kane would up the ante by lighting a ringside table on fire to the shock of fans in attendance. Bryan would even dropkick Kane through the burning wood, albeit in such a way that Kane would safely avoid harm. Yes, some people would actually complain about that; how dare he try to avoid being on fire! Anyway, Bryan would pin Kane as a result, though their feud would continue before abruptly ending due to Daniel’s surgery.
8. The ECW Originals vs. The New Breed, ECW, April 3 2007
In early 2007, WWE’s ECW would present a feud between vintage ECW performers and younger heel stars. So, on one side, you would have Rob Van Dam, The Sandman, Tommy Dreamer and Sabu. And on the other hand, there was Elijah Burke, Matt Striker, Kevin Thorn and Marcus Cor Von. Their saga was logical though not always hugely entertaining, mainly due to the heels having very little credibility. Furthermore, nothing about Burke and co. would resemble what the original ECW was about. It would lead to the ECW Originals getting a feel-good victory in a forgettable eight-man tag at WrestleMania 23. But it was on ECW two nights later that we would get a WrestleMania-worthy scrap.
Indeed, under Extreme Rules, the Mania rematch would be an epic fight. It would involve plenty of hard-hitting brutality, as well as Sandman swinging his kendo stick like a madman. (Not that this was unusual, to be fair). We would also get an Arabian Facebuster through a table from the still-over Sabu. But he would immediately take a jaw-dropping Elijah Express straight through a diagonal table. The subsequent three-count for Elijah was a formality. So, The New Breed would win here. And though the feud would soon fizzle out, this was a legitimately great match. Had this been on the WrestleMania card instead of the regular bout, it would be far more memorable nowadays. and one that I would prefer to have seen at WrestleMania. On two occasions, WWE would pair the same men against one another inside the Cell. In fairness to John Cena and Randy Orton, neither of their bouts are particularly memorable.
7. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe, WWE Extreme Rules 2017
Sometimes, the “extreme” aspect doesn’t just refer to the use of weapons. On occasion, it can be the big schmozz that sees several performers come together for one giant scrap. In this case, five of Raw’s top names would go at it hell for leather. And the prize would be a WWE Universal Title match against Brock Lesnar at Great Balls Of Fire. Furthermore, all five would have a chance at winning. Reigns’ history with Brock would still require a resolution at this stage. Rollins as a babyface challenger to Lesnar was new. Bray Wyatt could offer something different to counter Lesnar’s brute force. Finn Balor was still waiting for a chance to reclaim the belt that he would have to forfeit after SummerSlam 2016. And Samoa Joe was a dream challenger to the Beast.
As one might expect, then, this was lots of fun from start to finish. And the drama over who might win would make this one of the more unpredictable main events for WWE. In the end, though, it would be Joe that would win after he would submit Balor to the Coquina Clutch. Sadly for Joe, though, Brock would ultimately pin him to win their clash at Great Balls Of Fire.
6. Big Show vs. Ric Flair, ECW Championship Match, ECW, July 11 2006
This one isn’t much of a match, to be honest. But it does live up to the “extreme” aspect. Now, Ric Flair was in a feud with Mick Foley, with Foley wanting Flair to prove himself as being hardcore. Meanwhile, Show was still reacting to his ECW Title win over Rob Van Dam the previous week. For some reason, WWE would decide to put these two against one another in a match where anything could happen. And considering that this was on free TV for the company’s number three programme, this would be something else.
Indeed, both men would bleed heavily. Barbed wire would come into the fray, much to the delight of the fans in attendance. Even more shockingly for a television scrap, Flair would unleash a bag of thumbtacks. And Show would take a back-first fall onto the drawing pins. Still, this wouldn’t be enough to aid Slic Ric, as Show would hit his devastating Cobra Clutch backbreaker. And to add insult to injury, Show would hurl Flair across the ring and onto the same pins. Cue Show getting the victory. It’s arguably violence for the sake of violence, but it’s as close as WWE’s ECW would come to being truly “extreme”.
5. Mick Foley, Edge & Lita vs. Terry Funk, Tommy Dreamer & Beulah McGillicutty, ECW One Night Stand 2006
Mind you, if it’s pure violence that you want, then you have to watch this match. Coming from the relaunch PPV for WWE’s version of ECW, this one would have it all. So, Foley and Edge would deliver an unforgettable Hardcore match at WrestleMania 22. Yet the bout would bring them closer together, as they would defend WWE against ECW’s attempt to “copy” their work. After some spellbinding promo exchanges, we would get to One Night Stand for this war. And on the night, Lita and Beulah McGillicutty would join in the fray because, hey, why not?
The upshot was a match containing tons of brutality and bloodshed. Terry Funk would exit the match after Foley would bust him open badly with barbed wire. Later, Tommy Dreamer would use another line of barbed wire to trap Edge in a Crossface. The heels would soon take over, before Funk’s triumphant return while wielding a barbed wire 2×4. Both Foley and Edge would take shots, before The Funker would light it on fire! And a burning Barbie would send Foley crashing into a barbed wire board at ringside, with Edge shortly knocking Terry straight onto Mick. Furthermore, Edge would then Spear Beulah before covering her in a very sexually provocative manner. If WWE ever promotes a match like this again, I would express amazement.
4. Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles, WWE Championship Match, WWE Extreme Rules 2016
One of the issues with Extreme Rules matches in the modern WWE is that they’re all very similar. So, if you watch one, you will essentially watch them all. You know, the steel chairs, the kendo sticks, a table or two, and maybe a ladder if we’re lucky. So, for a modern Extreme Rules match to really stand out, it has to be a truly epic fight. Indeed, it needs to be so compelling that fans overlook the familiarity and just embrace the carnage on display. And that is what we would get from this showdown between then-WWE Champion Roman Reigns and AJ Styles.
Indeed, this would be one hell of a fight that would go around ringside and all over the arena. Styles’ backdrop bump through an announcer’s table would be an insane visual. As would be their creative use of the Kick-Off desk near the back of the arena. In the ring, the chaos would increase due to interference from Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows and The Club. But AJ would gain sufficient momentum that a Phenomenal Forearm would seem likely for him to win this Payback rematch. However, Roman would catch him in mid-air with a huge Spear, pinning the Phenomenal One for the decisive win. But more was to come, as Seth Rollins would shockingly return afterwards and drill Reigns with a Pedigree. As a main event presentation, few bouts in recent years can touch this one.
3. John Cena vs. Rob Van Dam, WWE Championship Match, ECW One Night Stand 2006
Before Cena would face CM Punk in Chicago at Money In The Bank 2011, there was this match. By this stage, John would already be comfortable with garnering huge cheers one night and massive boos the next. Sometimes both simultaneously. But at the second ECW reunion PPV One Night Stand 2006, he was a 100% nuclear heel. To the ECW fans, he was the walking embodiment of everything wrong with wrestling. In contrast, Rob Van Dam was the personification of what the original ECW was all about. And RVD was cashing in Money In The Bank, his prize from WrestleMania 22, to challenge for the WWE Title.
The crowd responses to RVD and especially Cena would ensure that this match remains memorable today. So, the action itself is fine, though nothing outstanding in my opinion. Yet it’s a thoroughly entertaining spectacle, especially when Cena relents to the atmosphere and turns ever-so-slightly heel. However, he would suffer the wrath of another heel, Edge, who would Spear him through a table. That would allow Van Dam to hit a Five-Star Frog Splash to capture his first (and only) WWE Championship. This is definitely worth a watch if you get the chance prior to this year’s Extreme Rules card.
2. Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy, WWE WrestleMania 25
When it comes to “extreme”, you have to mention The Hardy Boyz. Their use of ladders would define an era and influence a generation back in the early 2000s. But by 2009, each man was establishing themselves as a major singles force. For instance, Jeff would win his first WWE Championship at Armageddon 2008. But Matt would retaliate by turning heel on Jeff with a nasty chairshot at Royal Rumble 2009. Their on-screen saga would turn very personal, with the decision being for them to battle under Extreme Rules. And at WrestleMania 25 no less.
To me, this match doesn’t get enough appreciation, because it’s their best in-ring outing against one another. Indeed, we get several major spots that one would expect from a Hardy vs. Hardy clash. For instance, Jeff would splash Matt in what I can only describe as a table sandwich. Furthermore, Jeff would later miss an insane legdrop over a ladder, cracking his tailbone hard on the canvas. Capitalising on the moment, Matt would almost snap Jeff’s neck with a Twist Of Fate within a steel chair. Oh, yes. Matt would get the pinfall as a result to triumph in an underrated gem from a middle-of-the-road WrestleMania.
1. John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar, WWE Extreme Rules 2012
Our top pick goes to a match that would alter WWE’s PG rating. That’s right; this was so violent that the DVD release of this card would garner a TV-14 rating. But why? Well, Brock Lesnar would be making his first WWE supershow appearance since WrestleMania XX. However, during his time away from the company, he would become far more famous as a UFC fighter and champion. So, upon his return, he would vow to bring “legitimacy” back to WWE. In doing so, he would target John Cena, the unquestionable top guy in the company. Furthermore, Cena was the poster boy for the PG era, between his superhero-esque character, his colourful merchandise and his smiling nature. All of which would make this main event a truly shocking battle to witness.
Within seconds, Lesnar would bust Cena open hardway, instantly neglecting the lack of blood in modern WWE. From there, Brock would pound John from pillar to post (quite literally, in fact). All the while, Lesnar would maul Cena in a style more akin to his previous UFC stint. There would be jaw-dropping spots, such as Lesnar almost paralysing himself when diving onto Cena on the apron. Furthermore, we would even get minor comedy when Brock would lift up referee Charles Robinson by his belt using one hand! But Cena would fight back and use a metal chain to also bust open Brock. The subsequent Attitude Adjustment would give Cena the shock victory. And in fairness, I would strongly disagree with the decision to put Cena over here. But purely from an in-ring perspective, this was utterly mesmerising, and a must-see attraction.
You can watch WWE Extreme Rules 2021 on the WWE Network or on Peacock.
So, those are our thoughts on the best Extreme Rules matches ever! But what do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment below!