Less than a month after ‘WrestleMania XXVIII,’ WWE put on its ‘Extreme Rules’ show, an annual opportunity to trot out more gimmick matches than you can shake a stick at. But while the event contained its fair share of weapons, brutal spots, street clothes and yes, even blood, it was also a pretty phenomenal card from top to bottom with some absolutely stunning matches.

Full match results are below.

MATCH 1: Randy Orton def. Kane in a Falls Count Anywhere Match

‘Extreme Rules’ started off with a brutal Falls Count Anywhere Match between Randy Orton and Kane. This hasn’t been the most interesting feud to watch these past couple months, and there wasn’t really anything at stake between the two, which might explain why the two escalated their bout pretty much immediately, bringing in a steel pipe and taking things to the outside.

The match also featured an appearance by Zack Ryder, but while the crowd seemed to dig it, Kane simply no-sold the attack, continuing the trend of making the Broski look like an ineffectual goof.

The match came to an end when Orton reversed a Tombstone Piledriver into an RKO on a steel chair, causing me to wonder why you’d even book a Falls Count Anywhere Match in the first place if you’re just going to end it in the center of the ring.

MATCH 2: Brodus Clay def. Dolph Ziggler

Because no evening of WWE programming is complete without a visit from the Funkasaurus, ‘Extreme Rules’ also featured a match pitting Brodus Clay against Dolph Ziggler. Mr. Ziggles is a favorite of mine, due in large part to the way he sells everything (crazily), and appears to execute even the simplest of moves with a huge amount of emotion and feeling, and he didn’t disappoint this time out.

Somewhat shockingly, he was even allowed to get some offense in on Brodus, who up until now has been booked pretty indestructibly, even in previous matches against Ziggler. Ultimately, Clay picked up the win with a headbutt and running splash following some failed interference from Ziggler’s pal Jack Swagger, but fortunately, Ziggler is talented enough that he should be able to bounce back from his umpteenth loss in recent months.

MATCH 3: Cody Rhodes def. Big Show for the Intercontinental Title in a Tables Match

Though it was later eclipsed by other matches on the card, the match between Cody Rhodes and Big Show was a great appetizer for what was to come later on in the card.

Announced as a Tables Match just prior to the bell ringing, the two put on a fun performance including a great spot where Rhodes turned an Irish Whip from Big Show into a Disaster Kick by bouncing off on an upturned table. Very fun stuff.

I also loved the finish for this match, which saw Rhodes hit Show with a weak dropkick, causing him to step off the ring apron and through a table. Show’s shocked and embarrassed face sold the moment perfectly, turning it into a fantastic way for a heel like Rhodes to win back the Intercontinental Championship.

Following the loss, Show took it out on his opponent, laying him out and proceeding to chuck him through not one, but two different tables.

MATCH 4: Sheamus def. Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Title in a Two Out of Three Falls Match

I’m having a really hard time picking a Shitterson Match of the Night, because I’m torn equally between three very different, but equally awesome matches, and this one was the first. It was the match everyone wanted to see at ‘WrestleMania XXVIII,’ with Bryan bringing all of his submissions and puroresu-style kicks and Sheamus countering it all with sheer brute force. It was a phenomenal performance that let each wrestler shine with their extremely different styles, but while Sheamus was good, Bryan was the true standout, using pitch-perfect psychology to home in on Sheamus’ left shoulder throughout the match, weakening it up for the application of his patented YES Lock.

The first fall was an interesting one, as Bryan appeared to get willingly disqualified for refusing to stop kicking the bejeezus out of Sheamus’ shoulder. He quickly made up for the loss, however, by applying the YES Lock to the weakened limb and taking the second fall.

The final fall was in intense piece of storytelling that made both wrestlers look absolutely awesome, only ending with an Irish Curse Backbreaker and a Brogue Kick from Sheamus, following Bryan’s missed Flying Headbutt. All in all, a tremendous performance, made bittersweet by the fact that this is likely Bryan’s exit from the World Heavyweight Title picture.

MATCH 5: Ryback def. Jobber #1 & Jobber #2

I was in the bathroom when they were announced, so imagine my surprise when I saw a couple of skinny geeks yammering in the ring at ‘Extreme Rules.’ The two cut a math-based promo, awkwardly chanting “Two is better than one!” before Ryback mercifully emerged to take care of them for us.

I’m still not sure how I feel about Ryback – he’s absolutely terrifying looking and he’s clearly strong as hell, but I remember not being too impressed by his Skip Sheffield-era work, so I’ll need something besides squashes to go on before I make up my mind. Ryback won of course, but the best part of the match was hearing the smarky Chicago crowd chant “GOLD-BERG! GOLD-BERG!” at the intense, bald, squash-happy wrestler and his goofy ‘Mortal Kombat’-inspired “FINISH HIM!” catchphrase.

MATCH 6: CM Punk def. Chris Jericho for the WWE Title in a Chicago Street Fight

I’ll admit to not being terribly clear on the difference between an Extreme Rules Match, a No Holds Barred Match, a No Disqualification Match and a Street Fight, but after tonight I think I understand a little better: A Chicago Street Fight is a No DQ Match where everyone puts on jeans.

Jokes about CM Punk and Chris Jericho’s ring attire aside, this is the second contest under serious consideration for Shitterson Match of the Night. I thought this particular match put their ‘WrestleMania XXVIII’ contest to shame, as there appeared to be some real intense emotion on display here from Punk, and Jericho was at his smarmiest (in other words, his best).

Punk even hit an absolutely ridiculous Flying Elbow Drop to the announcer's table, which was especially impressive considering how shaky his administration of that particular move can look to even the center of the ring, and the fact that he nearly fell on his ass trying to get up to the top turnbuckle for it.

The match’s finish came with a Go-to-Sleep from Punk, though I would have preferred to see him borrow Jericho’s Walls of Jericho move, as his opponent had just previously tried to steal the GTS. For a moment it even looked like it was going to happen, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be, as Punk grabbing Jericho’s legs was just a set-up for a slingshot into the turnbuckle.

match 7: Layla def. Nikki Bella for the Divas Title

Going into ‘Extreme Rules,’ WWE had billed the Divas Championship Match as being between Nikki Bella and the woman she just beat for the title this past Monday, Beth “Am I a Face or a Heel Now?” Phoenix. Prior to the contest, however, Eve informed Beth that due to her maybe-kind-of-real-perhaps leg injury, she wasn’t cleared for competition, and that the Executive Administrator would produce another opponent for Nikki. Of course, this got those of us at home immediately and excitedly thinking one thing, but Eve went ahead and dashed those hopes by informing us that no, in fact, it wasn’t Kharma...

It turned out to be Layla, who, don’t get me wrong, is totally awesome. Layla was a truly detestable heel in her tag team with Michelle McCool, and seemed to improve her ring work on a nightly basis, so having her back as a face is just plain fantastic. But after all the internet rumors of Kharma’s return, Kharma’s own tweets about the subject and Eve’s explicit mention of the wrestler, seeing anyone but the former Awesome Kong was a pretty serious letdown.

match 8: John Cena def. Brock Lesnar in an Extreme Rules Match

This match was absolutely ridiculous and my third candidate for Shitterson Match of the Night. It became very brutal, very quickly, as Brock Lesnar immediately started pummeling John Cena with clearly stiff shots to the head. Between this and their slugfest on ‘Raw’ a couple weeks back, it’s clear that there’s either some legitimate heat between the two, or that Cena is OK with taking some lumps for reality’s sake. Either way, it’s making for some riveting television.

Lesnar controlled almost the entire match, busting Cena open (seemingly inadvertently, though given WWE’s apparent fondness for worked injuries, who knows), locking him into nasty-looking MMA-style submissions and even knocking out referees when they didn’t perform to his expectations. Eventually, Cena began to fight back, however, reversing a Kimura Armlock into a spinebuster onto the ringsteps, showing that it wasn’t just him that was going to take some nasty hits in this match.

In the end, Cena picked up the victory by clobbering Lesnar with a chain, busting his opponent open in the process, and following it all up with an Attitude Adjustment onto the aforementioned ringsteps. I was a little shocked to see Cena defeat Lesnar, but it made me happy that WWE was finally throwing the guy a bone after he laid down for the Rock at ‘WrestleMania XXVIII.’ Just as interesting as the match itself, however, was what came afterward…

As Lesnar refused any kind of medical treatment, selling his head, leg and general well being, Cena posed semi-victoriously in the center of the ring. When he took the microphone, however, he revealed that his victory was a Pyrrhic one, alluding to the fact that his left arm (the one that suffered the brunt of Lesnar’s submission attacks) might be legitimately injured, and could force him to take some time off. Of course, this could very well be a part of the storylines, or even a way to get Cena off television while he stars in the next ‘Marine’ movie (which still doesn’t have an announced lead) but we’ll have to wait until this week’s ‘Monday Night Raw’ to find out for sure…

Check back tomorrow morning for our weekly ‘Monday Night Raw’ recap.

Aubrey Sitterson is a professional writer and editor specializing in comics and wrestling. He writes weekly reviews of ‘Monday Night Raw’ and previews of ‘Friday Night SmackDown.’ Find him on Twitter and at aubreysitterson.com.