With WrestleMania XXIX firmly in the rear-view mirror, the WWE is now focused on building up a multitude of different stars for the upcoming summer season. Scoring a big victory at Extreme Rules is a great way to start.
While the card is only halfway complete, it is fairly obvious which matches will be added if they haven't been announced already. Some bouts such as Mark Henry vs. Sheamus or a potential Randy Orton vs. Big Show match could go either way without consequence, but other tilts will feature one Superstar who clearly needs to win in a bad way.
Perhaps winning isn't everything in professional wrestling, but there comes a point when Superstars have to win and look strong in order to get over properly with the fans. The WWE has the potential for a highly entertaining summer provided the creative team books Extreme Rules logically.
That isn't always the case, but with CM Punk out for the time being and part-time guys such as Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker and The Rock not as prevalent, smart booking will be of the utmost importance moving forward.
Here are five Superstars who desperately need to come away with a victory at Extreme Rules and ultimately will.
Despite the fact that he is billed as the most dominant monster in the WWE today, Ryback's pay-per-view record is absolutely atrocious. The Big Hungry has lost at each and every pay-per-view since Hell in a Cell, with his last pay-per-view win coming at last year's Money in the Bank event over the rag-tag team of Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks.
To say that Ryback has been booked poorly is the understatement of the century.
The WWE backed itself into a corner last year when John Cena got injured as it pressed Ryback into the main-event scene against CM Punk and had no choice but to make him lose. Rather than allowing him to rebound, however, the losses have continued to pile up for Ryback over the past several months.
The WWE had a golden opportunity to give Ryback a huge victory on the WrestleMania stage over Mark Henry, but Henry inexplicably won the match. That ultimately led to Ryback's heel turn, but losing to Henry wasn't really necessary to make that happen. Whatever the case, it's very difficult to take Ryback seriously knowing how putrid his record is.
Since WrestleMania, Ryback has been made to look strong, but it's time for the WWE to put its money where its mouth is. If the writers are going to continue to herald Ryback as the most unstoppable force in wrestling, then he needs to win at Extreme Rules.
Ryback will be facing Cena for the WWE Championship in a Last Man Standing match, which could set the stage for a title change. The Shield has been heavily involved with Cena and Ryback as of late, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the group lay out Cena and help Ryback win the title after stifling him so many times in the past.
Even though Ryback would be getting help, he would still get a major rub simply by beating Cena. It isn't as if Cena ever loses cleanly anyway, so a win of any kind over Cena is huge.
Maybe Ryback isn't WWE Championship material, but if he doesn't beat Cena at Extreme Rules, then he'll be nothing more than a glorified midcarder.
As Mr. Money in the Bank, Dolph Ziggler was booked without any rhyme or reason. He was the sole survivor for his team at Survivor Series and he did defeat John Cena at TLC, but his victories were too few and far between.
Fans hoped that the schizophrenic booking would change when Ziggler won the World Heavyweight Championship, but that hasn't been the case, as Ziggler continues to lose despite having gold around his waist.
Over the past several weeks, Ziggler has won matches here and there over the likes of Kofi Kingston and other midcarders, but he has lost to both Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio, who will be his opponents at Extreme Rules. It's understandable that the WWE wants to make it seem as though the title could potentially change hands, but jobbing out Ziggler isn't the way to do it.
The WWE has a penchant for making its heel champions lose constantly. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett is dealing with that currently, and Antonio Cesaro was mired in a losing streak for months before dropping the United States Championship to Kingston.
Ziggler has been doing the same thing and it makes him look awful.
Perhaps the worst part about it is the fact that he has A.J. and Big E Langston constantly influencing matches, so he should never lose. He loses quite often, however, and even when he does win, it is usually due to outside interference. If the fans are to believe that Ziggler is as good as he says he is, then he needs to go on a prolonged winning streak.
Look for that to begin at Extreme Rules, where Ziggler will face Swagger and Del Rio in a ladder match. Hopefully it marks the start of a big run for Ziggler rather than serve as a one-off victory.
It is no secret that the WWE has struggled to book heel stables in the past, but that certainly hasn't been the case with The Shield.
Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns are undefeated as a trio since debuting at Survivor Series, and it can be argued that they are the most dominant group in recent memory. In a lot of ways, it seems as though the WWE is making amends for botching Nexus by making sure that The Shield perseveres.
With that said, all of The Shield's momentum can go away very easily with one dumb booking decision.
That isn't to say that The Shield will be sunk the second it loses, but there is honestly no point in having the triumvirate lose right now. The likes of John Cena, The Undertaker, Ryback, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Big Show, Chris Jericho and countless others have tried to stop The Shield, but each and every on them has failed.
Although The Shield hasn't yet been put in an Extreme Rules match officially, it is almost certain that at least two of them will challenge Team Hell No for the Tag Team Championships. Also, based on the events of Raw, Dean Ambrose could potentially face Kofi Kingston for the United States Championship. The Shield beat Kofi and The Usos in a six-man tag on Raw and the announcers made a big deal out of Ambrose pinning Kingston, so something has to be in the works.
There is some concern among WWE fans about where The Shield goes from here, but the next logical step involves winning titles. Perhaps the Tag Team Championships and United States Championship aren't as prestigious as they once were, but The Shield can undoubtedly legitimize those belts and make people care about them again.
This summer should be all about the meteoric rise of The Shield, and putting gold around the waists of all three men will only serve to make them look even stronger in the long run.
Brock Lesnar is one of the most physically imposing Superstars in WWE history, but that hasn't always been evident since his return the night after WrestleMania XXVIII. Lesnar lost to John Cena at Extreme Rules in his return match last year before beating Triple H at SummerSlam. Triple H got his revenge at WrestleMania XXIX, though, as he beat Lesnar in a No Holds Barred match. The two legends will now do battle in a rubber match at Extreme Rules.
Both Lesnar and Triple H are entrenched and nobody can take away what they have accomplished in the business. At the same time, if the WWE wants to continue putting Lesnar in high-profile matches moving forward, then he needs to win a bit more regularly. Lesnar's past losses can't be erased; however, a win over The Game in a steel cage match at Extreme Rules could be huge for him.
While Triple H has actually put over more people than some fans care to acknowledge, there is a misconception that he is out to bury everyone. With that in mind, having Lesnar win a three-match series over Triple H would be a fairly big deal. The match promises to be a brutal brawl, which is the type of environment that Lesnar thrives in.
The table is set for him to win and there is no reason why he shouldn't.
It is unclear where Lesnar will go from here as he is likely to take some time off, but there is no telling who he will feud with when he ultimately returns. The Rock's WWE status is up in the air, but a Lesnar vs. Rock match at WrestleMania XXX still seems like a real possibility. Lesnar simply can't enter that potential match with a record of 1-3.
There are probably some fans out there who ignore whether or not Lesnar wins and choose to look at his body of work instead, but that isn't the case with everyone. The WWE can't make Lesnar a regular loser at pay-per-views like it has with Ryback.
A loss at Extreme Rules won't sink Lesnar's career, but it would definitely damage his credibility even further.
Aside from The Shield, perhaps the hottest new Superstar in the WWE today is Fandango.
There were plenty of reasons for skepticism prior to his debut, but Fandango has taken a strange gimmick and done some great things with it. His debut win over Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XXIX was huge as it immediately put him on the radar and even led to the new craze known as "Fandangoing."
In order to keep the ball rolling, however, he needs to beat Jericho again at Extreme Rules.
Fandango vs. Jericho isn't yet official, but based on the fact that Jericho has continued to attack Fandango since WrestleMania, it's safe to say that a rematch is going to happen. It was announced that Y2J and Fandango will engage in a dance-off on the next episode of Raw, so all signs point to their match being announced during or after that encounter.
Jericho obviously has a ton of fans, and those fans would love to see him win more matches. At the same time, Jericho is a part-time performer and he fully realizes that Fandango benefits more from a pay-per-view win than he does. Jericho's willingness to put over other talent is admirable and if that is what he wants to do, then he should be commended for it rather than vilified.
Fandango suffered his first official loss on Monday as he walked out during his match with R-Truth and got counted out. It probably isn't a big deal, but the wheels could be turning in the wrong direction, so the writers need to make sure that they get him back on track. Wins and losses tend to snowball in professional wrestling, so it's possible that Fandango could be on a downhill slope.
Winning pay-per-view matches is what is truly important, and Fandango is 1-0 in that regard thus far. There may be some desire to give Jericho the victory in order to make his latest run seem worthwhile, but allowing Fandango to beat him again will be better for everyone in the long run.
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