Extreme Rules may not be considered a "Big Four" pay-per-view in the WWE, but it has consistently been one of the most entertaining events the company has to offer over the past few years. That is likely to be the case once again this year as Extreme Rules stands to outclass WrestleMania XXIX.
Last year's WrestleMania XXVIII was considered by most to be a great event, but the ensuing Extreme Rules was even better. In fact, many felt as though Extreme Rules was the best pay-per-view of 2012. If the Extreme Rules 2013 card ends up being as good as it looks, a repeat could very well occur.
Here are three reasons why Extreme Rules will be a fantastic event and will ultimately be superior to WrestleMania XXIX despite the disparity in hype.
Stipulations Keep Things Fresh
While this year's Extreme Rules card features some new and exciting matches, even the WrestleMania rematches are worth looking forward to. Perhaps Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H for the third time in less than a year and Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger for the umpteenth time don't sound particularly enticing. When you add a steel cage to the Lesnar vs. Triple H mix and make Del Rio vs. Swagger an "I Quit" match, however, things suddenly change.
Generally speaking, stipulations should be saved for special circumstances, but loading up Extreme Rules with stipulations works because there is so much variety. In addition to the aforementioned matches, John Cena will face Ryback in a Last Man Standing match, Sheamus and Mark Henry will do battle in a strap match, Randy Orton and Big Show will go one-on-one in an Extreme Rules match and The Shield will challenge Team Hell No for the Tag Team Championships in a tornado tag match.
Those are matches that you don't see every day and there is reason to be excited about them. Most WrestleMania matches tend to be basic singles or tag-team matches, but perhaps Cena vs. The Rock or the original Del Rio vs. Swagger match would have been better with some added pizzazz. That won't be an issue at Extreme Rules as every bout will be unique and worth watching.
New Stars Will Shine
Although WrestleMania XXIX was much maligned by wrestling fans, one thing that it did right was allow rising stars such as The Shield and Fandango to go over on the big stage. Something similar is likely to happen at Extreme Rules, but it will be taken to the next level. The Shield should have a particularly good night as Dean Ambrose will challenge Kofi Kingston for the United States Championship and the team of Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns will face Team Hell No for the Tag Team Championships. The Shield is confident, and for good reason.
The Shield has been the most dominant force in the WWE since debuting at Survivor Series and Extreme Rules should be a huge night for the trio. Not only will all three members almost certainly walk away with gold, but they also figure to get involved in the WWE Championship match between Cena and Ryback. Whether they attack Cena, Ryback or both combatants, they will make their presence felt.
Also, while a draw seems like the most logical conclusion to Cena vs. Ryback, it is definitely possible that Ryback will benefit from The Shield's interference and become the new WWE Champion. Whether you like him or not, that would be a huge deal as a win of any kind over Cena is extremely rare. Veterans will have their opportunities to impress on Sunday, but it will be all about the up-and-comers by the end of the night.
What is the biggest reason why Extreme Rules will be better than WrestleMania XXIX?
Expectations Are Tempered
Perhaps the biggest reason why WrestleMania XXIX was perceived as a poor event was the hype surrounding it. WrestleMania is one of the biggest sporting events on a yearly basis, so the WWE goes all out to promote it. With immense hype comes immense expectations, and fans expected WrestleMania XXIX to be the best pay-per-view of the year and possibly one of the best pay-per-views ever. While WrestleMania received more criticism than it deserved, it admittedly didn't rise above and stand out like it should have.
The build toward Extreme Rules has been solid, but it can't compare with WrestleMania on the hype scale. Fans went into WrestleMania hoping to see something amazing, but they'll enter Extreme Rules simply hoping to see a decent show. As long as Extreme Rules satisfies those modest expectations, it will be a success. Upon looking at the card, it doesn't seem as though Extreme Rules will have any issue in that regard.
There are several intriguing matches in place and the potential for some instant classics. Lesnar vs. Triple H and The Shield vs. Team Hell No automatically look like match-of-the-year candidates on paper. Ultimately, it will be much easier for fans to enjoy Extreme Rules than it was for them to enjoy WrestleMania. There won't be much pressure on the WWE or its performers to thrive, so it may come as a pleasant surprise when they do.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter