A lot of momentum was lost between WrestleMania and Extreme Rules. Although it's a common problem after the year's biggest show, the build toward the latest pay-per-view was even more sluggish than usual until picking up steam over the last few weeks.
So Extreme Rules is an important event for the WWE. It will either spark interest heading into the summer months or cause the slide to continue. The company must pull the right strings to set up intriguing storylines moving forward.
With that in mind, let's examine the biggest overall winners that are likely to emerge from Extreme Rules on Sunday night. To check out the complete card scheduled for the critical show, visit the WWE's official site.
It's amazing how far The Shield has come since debuting at Survivor Series last year. The talented trio began as virtual unknowns, at least among mainstream fans, and became a vital asset. Now they are set to become champions.
Dean Ambrose, who features the most upside of the three rising stars, will face Kofi Kingston for the United States Championship. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns are slated to take on Team Hell No, Daniel Bryan and Kane, for the tag team belts.
It would be a surprise if they don't win both matches. Holding titles is the next step in the natural progression of their sustained push. Anything that leads to The Shield getting featured more often is a good move by the WWE. They could make an impact in the WWE title match, too.
Lesnar lost to Triple H last month at WrestleMania. The rematch at Extreme Rules will take place inside a steel cage, which is the perfect atmosphere for the brawl the two always put on. Fans got a taste of it at the end of Raw on Monday night.
The biggest winner at Extreme Rules will be...
The most important thing is maintaining Lesnar's reputation as a dominant force. His booking since coming back to the WWE has been questionable and, although wins and losses are only part of the equation, it's hard to maintain the same level of intrigue if the defeats start racking up.
There's a good chance the 'Mania rematch will be the best match of the night, at least in terms of entertainment value. It's certainly going to live up to the show's extreme name. In the end, Lesnar should pick up the win and boost his stock once again.
Alberto Del Rio
Del Rio was originally scheduled to battle for the World Heavyweight Championship in a Triple Threat Ladder match alongside Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. After Ziggler's concussion, however, it became an I Quit match against Swagger for the No. 1 contender spot.
After an initial surge following Swagger's return, thanks in part to his alliance with Zeb Colter, he's leveled off recently. On the other hand, Del Rio has maintained a steady presence in the main event scene in recent years.
The next logical step would be a feud between Del Rio and Ziggler, once the champ returns to full strength. It's a storyline that would feature a lot of tremendous in-ring work, allowing both superstars to shine. First, he'll pick up a key win over Swagger at Extreme Rules.