WWE Extreme Rules 2014 Matches: Power Ranking Excitement Level for Each Match
World Wrestling Entertainment has done a phenomenal job of following up a great WrestleMania XXX with stories that hook the audience, leading to an Extreme Rules pay-per-view that has far more buzz to it than last year's show.
The triple main event proves just how strong the storytelling has been, as the company has three different matches—involving 10 different Superstars—that could headline in any arena across the country.
John Cena versus Bray Wyatt is the age-old story of the lengths evil will go to in order to drag the good down to its level.
Daniel Bryan's title defense against Kane is a David vs. Goliath scenario in which the new WWE World Heavyweight champion will have to overcome a newly motivated Big Red Monster if he wishes to continue his dream of being the top wrestler in the world. His wife Brie and boss Stephanie McMahon may have something to do with it as well.
Past meets present as The Shield takes on Evolution in a six-man tag-team match that may more closely resemble a war than a wrestling match before all is said and done.
With so much content to sink its teeth into, the WWE Universe is understandably excited about Sunday's broadcast.
Which matches have done the most to elicit that excitement and which have done the least?
Take a look for yourself.
8. Handicap Match: R-Truth and Xavier Woods vs. Alexander Rusev (with Lana)
It is very difficult for fans to get excited for a match when its outcome is so completely obvious, hence the lack of buzz surrounding "Bulgarian Brute" Alexander Rusev's first pay-per-view bout against R-Truth and Xavier Woods.
The match exists simply to get Rusev on the card and to showcase his dominance over two Superstars with nothing else going on. Truth and Woods may make for a great little opening-match tag team, but they are by no means legitimate competition for the rookie, who appears to be poised for bigger and better things.
The only real intriguing aspect of the entire bout is whether Rusev will be able to apply the Accolade to both Truth and Woods at the same time, something that would be quite the impressive feat.
Otherwise, all eyes will likely be on the "Ravishing Russian" Lana.
For obvious reasons.
7. Wee-LC Match: El Torito vs. Hornswoggle
Why El Torito and Hornswoggle even began feuding in the first place remains a mystery.
Why the creative team, with a roster as talented as the one it currently has, would devote as much time to those two performers rather than developing interesting angles and programs for the likes of Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio, all of whom are former World Heavyweight champions, eludes both this writer and the fans of those individuals.
Still, the crowd has reacted well enough to the interactions between El Torito and Hornswoggle, and the latter has been a loyal employee of WWE for more than seven years now and probably deserves a shot at the spotlight after doing nothing for quite some time.
The Wee-LC gimmick lifted this match ahead of Rusev vs. Truth and Woods, but it will still likely serve as the last-minute-bathroom-break or food-prepping match.
With Los Matadores and 3MB surrounding the ring, there should be enough content to make the match watchable, at the very least. That the fans do not really care about anyone involved, however, may mean they opt not to watch at all.
6. Divas Championship Match: Paige vs. Tamina
The Divas Championship match between Paige and Tamina should be more anticipated than it is.
Paige is a hot, young newcomer who made an instant impact on her first night with the main roster, ending AJ Lee's 295-day Divas title reign. Had the feud between she and AJ continued, Extreme Rules' championship bout may have been one of the hottest on the card.
Instead, AJ opted to take time off, and Tamina won a battle royal to become No. 1 Contender. There was still potential for a strong story to unfold, but instead of doing anything even remotely interesting involving the new Divas champion and her top contender, the company had the two women compete in random matches against Alicia Fox, Aksana and Natalya.
Paige and Tamina did not even come close to one another until the April 29 episode of Main Event, where they awkwardly stared at one another before the latter left.
The build to the match has been lackluster, and the followup to Paige's first night on Raw has been tremendously disappointing.
Given the potential she has to be something truly different for the company in terms of a marketability, it would be a major misstep to allow her to fall into the same mediocrity and blandness that every other woman on the roster has, save for AJ, over the last three years.
Paige will win but few will care because the match was handled so poorly from a creative standpoint.
5. Intercontinental Championship Match: Big E vs. Bad News Barrett
On one side, you have a Superstar who has been on a roll since returning to the ring on the April 7 episode of Raw and downing the electrifying Rey Mysterio. On the other, you have a champion who can barely get on Raw and SmackDown, and when he does, he is typically losing to guys perceived to be bigger stars than he is.
Bad News Barrett has developed into one of the most entertaining characters on WWE television, and the crowds are beginning to react accordingly. His promos have been golden, and he has been better than ever between the ropes. Matches with Sheamus, Rob Van Dam, Kofi Kingston and the aforementioned Mysterio have proven just how ready he is to take the next step back up the proverbial ladder.
Big E, the Intercontinental champion, could not be colder entering Extreme Rules.
He has been relegated to competing on Main Event and Superstars for the most part and has hardly looked dominant in any of his recent matches. Sure, he beat Alberto Del Rio a few weeks back, but at this point, who doesn't? His brawl with Titus O'Neil on this week's SmackDown was neat, but what did it really accomplish?
Big E has fallen off significantly since capturing the once-prestigious title and now finds himself as an irrelevant champion heading into what many expect to be a coronation of Bad News Barrett, which is a shame. Barrett is such an effective heel right now that, had the company even attempted to give people a reason to cheer Big E, a solid feud may have been possible.
Instead, Barrett will get the contest over thanks to his pre-match promo, but the fans' apathy toward Big E will make it difficult to maintain the heat as the contest wears on.
4. Triple Threat Elimination Match: Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger
WWE has done a stellar job of pushing young stars to the forefront since WrestleMania.
Cesaro has benefited tremendously from the new initiative to highlight those men and women, being given Paul Heyman as a mouthpiece and increased television time as well. He has backed up his first substantial push with excellent ring work, something he prides himself on.
Rob Van Dam made his return on the April 7 episode of Raw and has not missed a beat. A performer who wows audiences with his unorthodox offense, he can be counted on to deliver consistently solid performances at this point in his career, as evidenced by his recent matches against Cesaro, Bad News Barrett and Jack Swagger.
Speaking of Swagger, he enters Sunday's match with very little in the way of momentum. He has lost nearly every match he has wrestled in since the Real Americans split back at WrestleMania. The former World Heavyweight champion has been booked to appear inferior to Cesaro and dropped two recent matches to Van Dam as well.
It is a good thing that he has Zeb Colter as a mouthpiece at this point, because that is the only thing keeping him from falling back into obscurity.
Fans enjoy watching Superstars journey to the top of the industry, especially when they believe a specific man or woman deserves it. Cesaro is one of those stars, and anything he does over the next few months will have a measurable excitement around it.
3. WWE World Heavyweight Championship Extreme Rules Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Kane
A wedding, a honeymoon and the unfortunate and untimely death of Daniel Bryan's father significantly cooled down the hottest star wrestling had seen in three years. None of that should be held against the performer, especially since real life trumps wrestling every time.
Still, there is significantly less excitement surrounding Sunday's WWE World Heavyweight Championship match.
That is not to say that the company has not rehabbed the title picture significantly over the last two weeks. Stephanie McMahon has been outstanding as the lead heel in the program, the return of the Big Red Monster aspect of Kane's character was much needed and the involvement of Brie Bella in the story has added a new plot device to help manipulate the fans' emotions.
The attempt by Kane to abduct Brie on the go-home episode of Raw may have seemed ridiculous to some but it was the type of angle that has helped keep Kane over for as long as he has been. It also was the emphasis for Bryan to get angry and to, hopefully, unleash fury on his former tag-team partner when they clash for the biggest prize in the industry Sunday night.
The guarantee of a good match that comes with Bryan is enough to generate excitement and buzz for any bout in which he takes part. That Stephanie is such a great villain and Kane is the enduring character that he is only helps intensify the anticipation for the match.
It has been a difficult first month for Bryan as WWE World Heavyweight champion, but luckily for him, he has a great supporting cast heading into his first title reign. Now it will be up to him to do what he does best: wrestle.
2. Steel Cage Match: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
The feud between John Cena and Bray Wyatt could have, for all intents and purposes, ended at WrestleMania XXX when Cena once again overcame the odds and beat the Eater of Worlds.
But it did not.
Wyatt recovered from the loss and continued to cut outstanding promos on a weekly basis. The creative team allowed Cena to look vulnerable, and the story thrived because of it. The tearing down of Cena mentally and physically has struck a nerve with the audience, and the overall creepiness of the Wyatt Family have made it one of the most over and anticipated elements of any episode of Raw or SmackDown.
Cena's promo on the April 28 episode of Raw, in which he repeatedly asked the fans why they set him up to take a beating, then quoted Harvey Dent from the Dark Knight, was phenomenal and did an excellent job of showing the audience just how much Wyatt's mind games are affecting the normally unflappable star.
Character development and evolution, strong promos and eerie imagery such as the sheep-mask-wearing children's choir, have made for a can't-miss program and the second-most anticipated bout on the Extreme Rules card.
1. The Shield vs. Evolution
The Shield represents the future of the industry. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns are three young stars destined to achieve great things in WWE. Their babyface turn prior to WrestleMania XXX gave fans—who already thought their presentation was cool and their matches great—the excuse to cheer them.
And they have. A lot.
The Hounds of Justice are, arguably, the hottest and most popular act entering Extreme Rules. The way they unapologetically lay waste to the opposition pops the audience, and their presence captures the viewer's attention. Most importantly, the way they stand up in the face of an unjust Authority has made for a very understandable story.
After all, who has not taken a look at the powers that be, be it at work or in politics, and seen some sort of injustice they wish they could fix?
Add to the rise of The Shield the return of Evolution, an all-time great stable that spawned two of the top stars of this generation in Batista and Randy Orton, and you have all the ingredients necessary for a truly hot match that overshadows both the WWE World Heavyweight title bout and the blowoff to the best story WWE has told in years in Cena vs. Wyatt.
The fact that the winner is not obvious only enhances the excitement and intrigue surrounding the contest. Will Evolution be able to put their egos aside and work together to halt the momentum of The Shield or will the Hounds of Justice add Triple H and Batista to Orton and the rest of the WWE roster that has succumb to their brute force?
It is a question fans will find the answer to Sunday night in what is sure to be a wild and chaotic main event.