On Sunday, WWE Superstars will battle for titles, pride and revenge at Extreme Rules 2013.
The event should be a huge test for WWE title challenger Ryback, a showcase of WWE's most violent matches and serve as The Shield's coronation.
The Shield goes into the night with its first shot at championship gold, going after both the Tag titles and the United States crown. Ryback is after a title as well, but he'll have to go through a man who does not lose often in order to get it.
Derived from analyzing Superstar records, recent swings in momentum and WWE logic, here are the predictions for every match on the Extreme Rules card.
Winner: The Miz
The pre-show will serve as a celebration of The Miz's return. The short-lived Intercontinental champ spent about a month away to film (h/t WrestleZone.com) Christmas Bounty. Now it's time to get back to WWE business.
He faces an opponent with such a lack of momentum that victory seems inevitable.
Cody Rhodes has lost to Randy Orton, Sheamus, an injured Alberto Del Rio and Tensai in the last few months. He has a spare number of wins in that time as well. It'd be surprising to see Rhodes bust out of his slump here when he's been given little story and motivation to work with.
Winner: Mark Henry
Henry looks unstoppable right now. He knocked off Ryback at WrestleMania 29, battled four consecutive Superstars and showed off his strength by towing two massive trucks. Sheamus may just be next in the line of victims.
It's hard to imagine Sheamus not leaving the arena with a new set of welts on his back and a slightly worse pay-per-view record.
This looks to be a match Henry will use to further his momentum, to move on to bigger things. If Ryback fails to capture the WWE title, Henry could be next in line to challenge John Cena.
Winner: Chris Jericho
Jericho hasn't won a pay-per-view match since last year's SummerSlam. After a certain amount of losses, a win over Jericho won't have the same star-making power that it does now. WWE needs to get Jericho back on track and even his series with Fandango at one win apiece.
Fandango can still come out of this looking good even with a loss. Expect him to attack Jericho post-match, furthering his villainy and leading the feud into a third and final match.
Winners: The Shield
Winning the Tag Team titles from Daniel Bryan and Kane is a means in which to quantify The Shield's dominance. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have been a part of a number of impressive wins already, knocking off teams that have included Ryback, John Cena, Sheamus and The Undertaker.
A win on May 19 puts a tangible symbol of victory around Rollins' and Reigns' waists.
The tornado tag stipulation also gives The Shield the edge. The group thrives in a fast-paced, chaotic environment, one that this kind of match will have in surplus.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
To continue the theme of The Shield's infiltration into the championship scene, expect Ambrose to defeat Kofi Kingston.
It's hard to have confidence in such a transitional champion as Kingston. Kingston’s last reign as United States champ ended after just 49 days. His reigns as the Intercontinental title holder lasted for 49, 66, 77 and 74 days, respectively.
Seeing as how many singles matches Ambrose has been given over the likes of Undertaker, Kane and Daniel Bryan recently, it seems that WWE is singling him out as The Shield's top star for now. That confidence in him should translate into his first title win this Sunday.
Winner: Randy Orton
Orton has been the more featured star of the two in recent weeks. It's Orton who is more often asked to pound on guys like Antonio Cesaro or Cody Rhodes. This feels like WWE trying to build some momentum for Orton.
Orton hasn't held a championship losing the world title to Mark Henry in September of 2011. With as popular and as talented as he is, that’s a streak one can't expect to last much longer. Expect Big Show to be a giant-sized springboard for Orton's journey back into the main event scene.
With Henry and The Shield likely to win at Extreme Rules, an Orton win also balances out the heel-to-face win ratio.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
The I Quit match for the right to face Dolph Ziggler for his world title will essentially come down to a battle of the cross armbreaker against the Patriot Lock.
While Jack Swagger has put an impressive number of foes away with his move, it's highly unlikely that Del Rio will tap out to it. Swagger already submitted to Del Rio's hold at WrestleMania 29 and on the night that Ziggler cashed in his Money in the Bank contract. Del Rio, on the other hand, has precious few defeats by submission.
The fact that Del Rio is a face makes him more of a natural fit to challenge the villainous Ziggler. Ziggler's first pay-per-view title defense should be against the man he won it against.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Betting against Triple H is often a mistake, but someone has to take the edge in his best-of-three series, and the man more likely to be active in the ring in the coming months makes the most sense to do so.
If Lesnar is to be booked as a dominant monster, he has to start winning more. Since returning last year, Lesnar has lost to Cena and Triple H and beaten the latter once. That's a 1-2 record for a beast of a man. Can WWE really have him add another loss to his record already?
Regardless of who WWE wants Lesnar to face at WrestleMania XXX, Lesnar is going to need to pile up some victories and look overpowering at Extreme Rules and beyond.
A loss for Triple H here gives him a storyline reason to head back to his corporate work while Lesnar adds to his list of victims.
Winner: John Cena
Fans could forgive Cena's goofy demeanor, his lack of in-ring crispness and versatility and even his pandering nature if his matches weren't so predictable. If his battle with Ryback for the WWE title doesn't go according to the Cena victory template, it will be the most shocking moment of the night.
Cena will eventually lose his championship, but it feels too soon after going sans title for so long and earning his redemption against The Rock at WrestleMania.
Unless The Shield plays a part in this match as well, expect Cena to be celebrating as the show closes.