There has been plenty of talk about whether Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H or John Cena vs. Ryback will headline Extreme Rules, but an equally interesting question is who will kick off the pay-per-view in the opening match?
The Miz and Cody Rhodes will do battle on the pre-show, but only a fraction of the audience is going to watch that. Everyone who buys the pay-per-view is going to see the very first match on the card, and it is important that the match impresses as it will set the tone for the rest of the event for both the fans at home and those in attendance.
Here are the three best options, in descending order, to kick off Sunday's Extreme Rules pay-per-view in St. Louis.
Full Extreme Rules Card
|The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes||Pre-Show||N/A|
|John Cena vs. Ryback||Last Man Standing||WWE Championship|
|Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H||Steel Cage||N/A|
|Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger||I Quit||WHC No. 1 Contender|
|Sheamus vs. Mark Henry||Strap||N/A|
|Team Hell No vs. Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns||Tornado Tag||Tag Team Championships|
|Kofi Kingston vs. Dean Ambrose||N/A||United States Championship|
|Randy Orton vs. Big Show||Extreme Rules||N/A|
|Chris Jericho vs. Fandango||N/A||N/A|
*Card courtesy of WWE.com
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
It may not have a stipulation like most of the other matches on the card, but Chris Jericho vs. Fandango is the perfect opener to get the fans involved. Their rivalry has been going on for quite some time and it has heated up ever since WrestleMania XXIX when Fandango stole a win from Jericho. Y2J is looking for revenge, and it seems as though the fans are really invested in the feud and the storyline surrounding it.
The WWE Universe has really taken to Fandango since WrestleMania as "Fandangoing" has been all the rage. That alone is something that can get the crowd energized, so it makes sense to put his match on first. Also, it can be argued that their rivalry is more heated than any other one. Fandango took it to the next level on Raw as Summer Rae feigned an injury so Fandango could attack Jericho. Fandango even hit Jericho with a floor board during his vicious assault.
Perhaps Jericho vs. Fandango didn't exactly steal the show at WrestleMania, but it was a solid match that they can build upon. Fans already knows how great Jericho is in the ring, and Fandango is underrated in his own right. With the first match on a card you're generally looking for a technically sound, 10-minute encounter that engages those watching, and this bout can absolutely provide that.
Kofi Kingston vs. Dean Ambrose
A Shield member will go for an individual title for the first time at Extreme Rules as Dean Ambrose challenges Kofi Kingston for the United States Championship. While The Shield has been all about operating as a unit, Ambrose has had several singles matches as of late and he has been impressive. Kofi has had a nice run as United States Champion and is always among the company's best mid-carders, but Ambrose is looking to break through in a big way.
While it seems fairly predictable that Ambrose will win the match and become the new United States Champion, it would be a great fit for the opening bout. The fans take notice when something happens involving The Shield, so they will instantly be interested. Also, Kingston is one of the best in-ring workers in the company, while Ambrose is slowly developing a similar reputation, so it's doubtful that they would disappoint. Their rivalry is heating up as well if Kofi's tweet is any indication.
Kofi Kingston @TrueKofi
Well looks like I got a date on Sunday… #EXTREMERULES #ToHellWithTheShield5/14/2013, 1:39:45 AM
Considering how quickly Ambrose and The Shield have moved up the ladder in the WWE, they are going to be a very big deal down the line. Ambrose has the potential to be the top heel in the company for years to come and to win multiple world championships. The United States Championship will be his very first, though, and no big wrestling fan will want to miss it.
Randy Orton vs. Big Show
While Randy Orton vs. Big Show may not seem like the most exciting match on the surface, it has the potential to be an entertaining affair. It feels like Orton and Big Show have faced each other countless times, but this match carries an Extreme Rules stipulation with it. Both Orton and Big Show have proven capable of excelling in a hardcore environment, so it wouldn't be too surprising to see them put on a high-quality match with plenty of great spots.
Orton actually opened Extreme Rules last year, as he faced Kane in a Falls Count Anywhere match. That contest exceeded expectations and set the tone for what was arguably the best pay-per-view of the year. This card has similar potential, so maybe lightning will strike twice. If nothing else, The Viper and Big Show have had a pretty consistent rivalry since Big Show turned on Orton at WrestleMania, so emotions should be running high.
Big Show has had some of the best matches of his career in recent months and they have involved stipulations against the likes of Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio. There is no reason why he can't do the same against Orton as well. Fans love hardcore wrestling, so if an RKO or chokeslam on the steps ends this encounter, the live crowd will be involved and ready to enjoy the rest of the night.
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