As Extreme Rules approaches, much of the WWE's focus has been on John Cena vs. Ryback for the WWE Championship and Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar in a steel cage. With that said, the card appears to be quite deep and there are several unheralded matches capable of stealing the show.
There is no question that the creative team has pushed the main-event-level bouts to the max, but the writers have done a pretty nice job of building supporting feuds as well. The most recent edition of Raw made that abundantly clear as everyone received a bit of television time and set the stage for Extreme Rules.
Here are three undercard matches that may not have as much on the line as some of the other contests on the card, but will ultimately entertain the fans and improve the overall quality of the event.
Sheamus vs. Mark Henry
Ever since WrestleMania XXIX, Mark Henry and Sheamus have engaged in several heated exchanges. It started when Henry attacked Sheamus backstage for no reason, and the Celtic Warrior decided to reciprocate.
Things have gotten interesting from there as they have engaged in feats of strength such as tug of war and arm wrestling. Henry even managed to pull two tractor trailers across a parking lot on SmackDown, so the WWE has gone to great lengths to make this feud relevant.
Henry decided to whip Sheamus with a belt last week, so a strap match stipulation was added to his bout with Sheamus at Extreme Rules. Henry demonstrated the match on Monday by using Josh Mathews as an unwilling participant. He forced Mathews to put the strap around his wrist and proceeded to pull him around the ring until he touched all four corners.
Sheamus wasn't amused as he came to the ring to confront The World's Strongest Man. Sheamus had hidden a strap of his own under the ring to level the playing field. He and Henry whipped each other, but as Sheamus later bragged about on Twitter, he got the better of the exchange and Henry fled.
Their match at Extreme Rules won't be a scientific encounter by any stretch of the imagination, but Henry and Sheamus are two of the toughest and strongest men in the WWE.
Also, it isn't often that you see a strap match anymore, so the novelty of the match makes for plenty of intrigue. Look for Henry and Sheamus beat each other to a pulp and put on a great show.
Randy Orton vs. Big Show
Randy Orton and Big Show once formed an unlikely alliance in an effort to take out The Shield, but their partnership was short-lived. Orton, Big Show and Sheamus lost to The Shield at WrestleMania XXIX, which resulted in Big Show attacking his partners after the match.
Sheamus has moved on to a feud with Henry, but Orton and Big Show have continued to get involved with each other and will compete in an Extreme Rules match at the upcoming pay-per-view.
Orton and Big Show are admittedly among the most boring characters on the roster currently and they have already faced each other on several occasions, so it's understandable that many fans aren't exactly pumped about their impending encounter. With that said, Orton and Big Show have both excelled in hardcore environments in the past, so the match itself should be fairly entertaining.
Big Show had a pair of Last Man Standing matches against Alberto Del Rio a few months ago and they were among the best matches he has had in a long time. Also, The Viper has a long history of hardcore wrestling success, so he knows how to get the job done with weaponry involved.
Also, if nothing else, it is extremely difficult to say who is going to win this match. Most of the bouts on the card are fairly predictable, but this one could truly go either way. Orton is probably the favorite; however, it certainly wouldn't be surprising to see Big Show win, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
In a WrestleMania XXIX rematch, Fandango will look to prove that his win on the big stage wasn't a fluke as he faces Chris Jericho. Fandango upset Y2J in his first career match as he beat him with a roll-up at 'Mania. Fandango has continued to wreak havoc on Jericho ever since. There is no stipulation in place for their contest, but it should be an entertaining affair nonetheless.
Fandango and Jericho certainly turned things up a notch on Raw as they were scheduled to compete in a dance off. Fandango's dancing partner, Summer Rae, apparently sprained her ankle, which led to Jericho checking on her. Fandango then attacked Jericho from behind and it was revealed that Summer was faking her injury all along. Fandango got the better of Jericho heading into Extreme Rules and he made sure that Y2J knew it.
Lesson learned, @IAmJericho... #RAW2013-5-14 00:42:02
There were high expectations for Fandango vs. Jericho prior to WrestleMania, and while it was a decent enough match, it was somewhat sloppy at points and wasn't truly representative of how good both superstars can be.
The pressure is off Fandango now that WrestleMania is in the past, so the jitters should be gone. Jericho is comfortable regardless of how big the moment is, so he will put on a great show and continue to elevate Fandango to the next level.
While a Fandango victory seems likely, Jericho could very well win this match. He beat Dolph Ziggler at SummerSlam last year despite not needing the win, so the creative team may give him a win over Fandango in order to appease his fans.
As long as the match is well-wrestled, Fandango will come out of it looking good and won't be damaged by a potential loss.
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