This Sunday, WWE presents its fourth annual Extreme Rules pay-per-view live from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Ill. Per the concept of the event and its self-explanatory title, every match on the card must contain an extreme stipulation.
Although only four matches are confirmed for this year's installment thus far, it still looks to be an extremely entertaining crowd given the wrestlers involved as well as the electric Chicago atmosphere. However, we can't make an accurate analysis of this year's Extreme Rules event without looking back at years past and comparing each of the greatest contests in the pay-per-view's history.
With most of the event's matches being deemed some of the best in recent years, it was difficult to rank them accordingly, but I've managed to do my best based upon that particular match's drama, build-up, enjoyment, importance and, of course, the performances of the wrestlers involved.
As we prepare for this Sunday's pending Extreme Rules event, let's take a look a back at the most remarkable matches to take place at the pay-per-view since 2009.
On two consecutive occasions in May 2009, CM Punk attempted to cash in his opportunistic Money in the Bank briefcase on then-World Heavyweight Champion Edge, but was halted by the returning Umaga. His ambush on Punk would ignite a feud between the two, leading to a match at Judgement Day.
At the event, the Second City Saint fell Umaga in his hometown, but the ruthless rivalry didn't end there. The Samoan Bulldozer continued to target Punk, challenging him to the first ever Samoan Strap match at Extreme Rules.
Although it wasn't the most exciting match, Punk and Umaga were able to make the most of it with Punk scoring the victory following a GTS and touching all four turnbuckles. If nothing else, it also set the stage for the Straightedge Savior's shocking World Champion win later that evening.
Since mid-2009, Michelle McCool and Layla ruled the Divas division with an iron fist after capturing the Women's and Divas Championships respectively on numerous occasions. Once 2011 started to go downhill for the tandem formerly known as Lay-Cool, tension arose between the two during the month of April.
After Layla viciously attacked McCool at the 2011 WWE draft, they agreed on competing in a match at Extreme Rules that Sunday where the loser would have to leave WWE. In one of the better wrestled Divas matches of the year, Layla scored the victory and rendered her former friend McCool into retirement.
Upon his return to WWE in February 2009, Christian took the Land of Extreme by storm by winning the ECW Championship from Jack Swagger at Backlash nearly two months later. Although he narrowly defeated Swagger in a rematch at Judgement Day, the All-American American still earned himself another shot at the strap at Extreme Rules.
After announcing that his last night in the WWE would be June 1, Tommy Dreamer was also placed in the bout to save his own career. In a typical WWE/ECW-style brawl, Dreamer was able to capture the the ECW Championship for the first time in nearly a decade and postpone his eventual leave from the company.
Only five days after winning the opportunistic Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania 26, Jack Swagger cashed in his guaranteed title shot on Chris Jericho on SmackDown to capture the World Heavyweight Championship.
While Chris Jericho and Edge focused on their own rivalry, Swagger shifted his focus to Randy Orton, who defeated Swagger in a one-on-one contest on an edition of Monday Night Raw. At Extreme Rules, the two rivals clashed in a match named after the pay-per-view itself that saw the All-American American successfully retain his title.
After Sheamus claimed Triple H cost him his WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber, he challenged the Game to a match at WrestleMania 26. On the grandest stage of them all, Triple H cleanly defeated Sheamus, giving the Celtic Warrior his first pin-fall loss since moving to Raw.
On following editions of the flagship show, Sheamus brutalized Triple H and challenged him to a Street Fight at Extreme Rules to settle the score. Before their match even began that night, Sheamus ambushed Triple H backstage with a vicious series of blows.
Regardless, Triple H agreed to continue on with the match, despite the fact that he was in no condition to perform. In the end, Sheamus delivered multiple Brogue Kicks to the Cerebral Assassin, forcing him to leave on a stretcher and not be seen for nearly 10 months.
After Randy Orton punted Batista in the head in late 2008, the Animal returned the night after WrestleMania 25 and vowed to exact revenge on his former Evolution stablemate. At Judgement Day, Orton got himself intentionally disqualified in his match against Batista in order to maintain possession of the belt, but Batista's chase for the WWE Championship wouldn't end there.
At Extreme Rules, the two met in a very fitting Steel Cage match that ensured Orton's Legacy members wouldn't interfere. The bout told a good story, with the Viper attempting to escape the steel structure on more than one occasion, but was ultimately defeated by Batista in the end to lose the gold.
At the dawn of 2011, Rey Mysterio accidentally broke the nose of Cody Rhodes during a match between the two on SmackDown. Rhodes, from that point on, was determined on brutalizing Mysterio and forcing him to face the same terrible fate.
During their contest at WrestleMania 27, Rhodes used his protective face mask to his advantage and scored the victory over the Master of the 619. The rivals met in a Falls Count Anywhere rematch at Extreme Rules the following month that exploded all over the arena.
In an excellent use of the surrounding environment, Rhodes at one point connected with a Beautiful Disaster kick on Mysterio in the concession area. Once the action returned to the ring, Mysterio sprayed green mist in the eyes of the second-generation star and followed up with a swift 619 for the win.
On the road to WrestleMania 26, CM Punk and his Straightedge Society targeted Rey Mysterio and were attempting to convince him to join the sadistic stable. With Mysterio's pride on the line at the show of shows, the Ultimate Underdog soundly defeated Punk when his own antics backfired.
Leading up to Extreme Rules, Mysterio questioned Punk as to why his head wasn't shaved unlike Luke Gallows and Serena. If the Straightedge Savior was to lose at the April event, he would have been forced to shave his head bald.
It's safe to say that these two are just incapable of having a bad match, as they always seem to steal the show every time they lock up. This time was no different, as Punk was able to score the victory with some help of a masked member and save his luscious locks in the process.
In the third straight Rey Mysterio match on this list, the Master of the 619 was embroiled in a rivalry with Chris Jericho over his Intercontinental Championship. After Mysterio was able to retain against Jericho at Judgement Day, Y2J was looking for revenge at Extreme Rules in a No Holds Barred bout.
Similar to the two aforementioned matches, Jericho and Mysterio always have entertaining performances when they clash in the squared circle. The back-and-forth action in this contest kept the audience intrigued, as Jericho slipped the mask off Mysterio to pin him and steal the prestigious Intercontinental title.
Shortly after winning the Unified Tag Team Championships with Chris Jericho in mid-2009, Edge was forced to relinquish his half of the titles due to a torn Achilles tendon that would see him sidelined for nearly seven months. Upon his return, Edge won the 2010 Royal Rumble and challenged then-World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho.
Despite the major momentum Edge received going into WrestleMania 26, he ultimately lost to his former tag team partner at the event. While Jericho lost the title days later, the feud continued on to a Steel Cage match at Extreme Rules to finally see who was the better of the two.
Although the Rated-R Superstar seemed to revert back to his heel antics during most of the match, he was still able to score the victory over Jericho. The major highlight in this contest was the awesome springboard Codebreaker Jericho hit on Edge, but nothing outside of that was all that memorable.
As we enter the top five, the boiling culmination to the boiling CM Punk and Randy Orton rivalry from last year kicks us off.
At 2011's Royal Rumble pay-per-view, CM Punk and his New Nexus stable cost Orton the WWE Championship, stating that it was his revenge from an incident that occurred in 2008. In the weeks leading into WrestleMania 27, Orton demolished every member of the black and yellow stable before defeating the Straightedge Savior one-on-one at the show of shows.
Regardless, Punk continued to target the Viper in subsequent weeks and challenged him to a Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules. In the opening bout of the show, Punk and Orton had a strong showing that saw Orton be the last man standing.
In the weeks preceding WrestleMania 26, the odds seemed stacked against John Cena since he had never before been able to defeat Batista. Despite that, Cena soundly defeated Batista on the grandest stage of them all and recaptured the WWE Championship.
Of course, every champion has their respective rematch clause, and Batista chose to utilize his at Extreme Rules in a Last Man Standing match. In a hard-hitting brawl, Cena and the Animal were able to have a very entertaining brawl in the main event that night that set the bar for future matches of that stipulation.
Although the bout ended in a anticlimactic fashion with Cena using duct tape to keep the former champ down, it didn't take away from the fact that this was a great match to close the career of Dave Batista.
After The Miz successfully retained his WWE Championship against John Cena in the main event of WrestleMania 27, it seemed as if there was no one left to contend again. Nonetheless, Cena was able to earn another shot at the title, as well as R-Truth, when their match had no definitive winner.
The next week, however, saw John Morrison beat Truth for his spot in the WWE Championship match that was later announced to be a Steel Cage bout at Extreme Rules. During the match, all three Superstars managed to shine and prove that they were truly worthy of being in that main event slot.
Cena showed his wrestling skills that we rarely see from him, Morrison pulled off some awe-inspiring spots off the top of the steel structure, and Miz played his role nicely as well. Sure, Cena pulled out the predictable title victory, but I didn't feel cheated after watching it since the match was a brilliant way to close the show.
In late 2010, Alberto Del Rio viciously attacked Christian and sidelined him from action for five months. Upon his return, Christian reunited with Edge and helped him successfully retain his World Heavyweight Championship against Del Rio in the opening bout at WrestleMania 27.
Once Edge abruptly retired from wrestling in April, Christian and Del Rio were placed in a Ladder match at Extreme Rules to determine the new World Heavyweight Champion. After many suspenseful spots and intriguing interference from the likes of Brodus Clay, Ricardo Rodriguez and even the Rated-R Superstar himself, Captain Charisma had finally won the golden prize for the first time in his storied career.
The long history between Edge and Jeff Hardy cannot be overlooked, as they were also the pioneers of some of the very first Ladder matches in WWE. After Edge escaped Judgement Day unscathed, Hardy was determined to take full advantage of his one last shot when he contended for the World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules.
On one edition of SmackDown, Hardy defeated the Rated-R Superstar and was able to pick the stipulation for the rematch himself, where he eventually chose a Ladder Match and rightfully so. Both rivals were very familiar with this environment and made for a very fitting culmination to this broiling rivalry.
Edge and Hardy brought the best out of each other on this memorable night, where both put it all on the line to deliver a tremendous performance. When Edge accidentally slipped through one of the rungs of the ladder, the Charismatic Enigma took that opportunity to climb up and retrieve the golden prize that was dangling from above.
Could a contest on this Sunday's card be able to outlast any one of the aforementioned matchups?
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and make sure to drop a comment below with your thoughts on the list and how you would change the rankings. As always, your criticism and overall feedback of my latest piece is greatly appreciated.