Heroes and monsters await to inflict violence on each other at WWE Extreme Rules 2014.
WWE's first pay-per-view after WrestleMania 30 features a good-versus-evil showdown inside a steel cage, Daniel Bryan defending the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against his former tag team partner and a collision of warring trios.
The show is poised to highlight a number of breakout stars from Paige to Alexander Rusev.
El Torito is going to make a silly match better than expected. The Shield and Evolution will do their best to have fans forget how much this year's Extreme Rules is lacking in extremeness.
The company has planted a number of hints about who will win the eight scheduled bouts. Backstage reports and betting odds also give fans a glimpse of what to expect when Extreme Rules kicks off inside IZOD Center.
News, Potential Spoilers
It appears the WeeLC match is getting an added little person. Short Sleeve Sampson, who calls himself "the toughest midget to enter the ring," is reportedly scheduled for Extreme Rules.
PWInsider, via Wrestle Zone, reports that Sampson "will likely be the special guest referee for the 'WeeLC' match."
Talent agent Angela Gulizio also tweeted that Sampson will be at the event.
Will there be a Hall of Famer making a surprise appearance as well? The rumor mill hasn't gotten much of a chance to churn regarding Ric Flair stopping by.
PWInsider, via Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc, reports that "there's been some speculation about Ric Flair appearing at Extreme Rules, but he's not currently scheduled for the event."
Sheamus, on the other hand, is announced for Extreme Rules. He won't be competing this year, though.
WWE.com lists Sheamus, Josh Mathews, Booker T and Alex Riley as members of the pre-show panel.
With Sheamus out, Bad News Barrett and others will get a chance under the spotlight. There's reason to believe, win or lose, that Barrett has big things ahead for him.
F4WOnline, via Wrestling Inc, reports, "Barrett's stock within WWE went up a lot with his promo at the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. Vince McMahon has been high on Barrett for a while and is a fan of the Bad News Barrett gimmick."
Does that translate into a title win for him? The odds says it will.
The following Superstars are favored to win based on current betting odds, per Wrestling Observer Newsletter, via Wrestle Zone:
- El Torito
- Daniel Bryan
- Alexander Rusev
- Bad News Barrett
- Bray Wyatt
There isn't a surprise in this bunch. The Evolution vs. The Shield match could go either way, as both teams have looked strong at times during this buildup. How long this feud is planned to last will play a big role in who gets the win here.
A long feud points to Evolution winning first with The Shield getting revenge later. It's just more dramatic that way. A shorter feud gets The Shield its win earlier.
The other odds mostly point to emerging stars making big statements at the event.
- El Torito vs. Hornswoggle (WeeLC)
- Alexander Rusev vs. R-Truth and Xavier Woods
- Paige vs. Tamina Snuka (Divas Championship)
- Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena (Steel Cage)
- Cesaro vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Jack Swagger
- Big E vs. Bad News Barrett (Intercontinental Championship)
- The Shield vs Evolution
- Kane vs. Daniel Bryan (Extreme Rules match for WWE Championship)
El Torito Showcased
The Extreme Rules pre-show will be more goofy than extreme, but expect El Torito to wow folks.
His speed and uncanny athleticism is set to be elevated by the novelty of the WeeLC match. All the moonsaults and dives he normally does will be done off mini-ladders and onto mini-tables. The results are going to be memorable.
Expect the momentum to swing back to El Torito as it's the more dramatic option, and the feel-good match is better punctuated with the good guy winning.
The Brute Rolls On
WWE is clearly following the monster heel script. Rusev is still in the first step—plowing through the lesser stars on the card.
Count on him going undefeated for a while longer to build him up as an unstoppable force. The company will milk the power of his first loss by having it happen at the climax of a bigger story and to a Superstar higher up the food chain.
The handicap stipulation is only meant to make The Bulgarian Brute look stronger.
Paige is still introducing herself to much of the audience. Fans of her NXT work know exactly the kind of warrior she is. That's not as true for WWE-only fans.
After letting Paige knock off Divas like Aksana and Alicia Fox, it's now time to add a bigger win to her resume.
Tamina will test her like no one else has. It's too early to take the title from Paige, though. She's still trending upward, likely building toward a feud with AJ Lee later on.
The Monster Thrives in the Cage
Wyatt's feud with Cena is a means to make the former a marquee star and the latter undergo an interesting shift in his character.
Wyatt doesn't fully benefit from this rivalry if he doesn't gain a victory at some point. It makes the most sense to have him even things up at Extreme Rules. After they are 1-1 against each other, Wyatt and Cena can have a rubber match at Payback to settle things.
A dangerous environment like a steel cage also gives a vicious, unscrupulous man like Wyatt an edge. His disciples can hand him weapons, for one, and he's not bound by high morals as Cena is.
Cesaro's Push Continues
Cesaro is clearly set to emerge as another top talent.
WWE had him win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania and then align himself with the company's top manager in Paul Heyman just after he led Brock Lesnar to breaking The Undertaker's run of wins at that event.
Van Dam is here only to add a babyface for fans to cheer for.
The bout will be about Cesaro, shooting himself upward with a win over his former tag team partner and a former WWE champ.
Big E Survives
Barrett has been getting all the focus as of late. He's the one on the winning streak and who beat three former world champs to earn the right to challenge Big E.
He's the one with the overstock of confidence now.
This makes Barrett a more viable contender, which in turn makes Big E beating him a bigger deal.
Barrett has less to gain here. He's already won the Intercontinental Championship three times. Big E is charging toward a big future, and Barrett is just one of the tougher obstacles in his way.
This feud is going to shoot Roman Reigns up the WWE ladder. Expect him and Triple H to extend their hatred past Extreme Rules.
Before those two face off alone, The Shield will cause Evolution to splinter.
Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista aren't as cohesive as they once were and certainly not as unified as their opponents. Evolution has to worry about infighting, bad blood between teammates resurfacing and perhaps Flair playing a part in the match.
All that, and a younger, hungrier team will prove to be too much for them.
Bryan Destroys the Destroyer
WWE can't have fans go on the long, winding journey that was Bryan's path to the WWE title only to have him lose it a month later.
Kane is going to pound Bryan. He's going to look to capitalize on his return to the role of masked sadist. It will be Bryan who emerges as the predator, though.
This feels like a placeholder feud, something to keep Bryan busy before facing Batista again, an emerging star like Cesaro or eventually Brock Lesnar.
Expect a dramatic match where Bryan suffers plenty, but look for him to kick Kane to his knees and hand out some abuse of his own.