WWE Extreme Rules 2014: Superstars Who Will Exceed Expectations
WWE Extreme Rules 2014 is shaping up to be a great show, even though there hasn't been much officially announced for it yet.
Speculation about where the feuds will go seems to be leading to a positive outcome, but that can be tricky.
It's one thing to have high hopes for a show and another for it to actually deliver when the time comes.
WrestleMania XXX played with the perception of the crowd, as it appeared to be an awful card that eventually transitioned into a good one.
During the event, some matches and performers that fans were eagerly anticipating ended up being disappointments, while others that didn't feel so important helped make it a successful night.
For Extreme Rules, everyone is going to be looking forward to watching some of their favorite wrestlers and dreading the performances of others that they dislike.
But who among the roster has it in them to prove the audience wrong and do better than expected?
Let's take a look at some potential names that the WWE Universe should not write off just yet.
Honorable Mention: The Usos
Jimmy and Jey Uso are in a tough spot right now that can make or break their careers.
While they are the reigning WWE Tag Team champions and featured on WWE programming quite often, it doesn't seem as though they have much going on.
Multiple teams have been broken up over the past few months and no true, credible challengers are waiting to face The Usos.
It is easy to look at that and expect a run-of-the-mill filler match for The Usos at Extreme Rules where they beat the likes of Ryback and Curtis Axel or Los Matadores, which would not be impressive.
However, they've been able to have good or even great matches with a wide variety of opponents as of late, so being excited for them to wrestle isn't impossible, either.
Most of this depends on what WWE decides to book for the event and the fans will just have to wait and see.
5. The Shield
Admittedly, The Shield being on this list is a bit of a conundrum.
How can you truly exceed expectations if the expectations are incredibly high to begin with?
All three members of The Shield are proving themselves to be some of the biggest assets in the company right now and their growing fanbase reflects that.
They have been on a roll for so long that it's tough to determine just when things really started heating up.
Since their match at WrestleMania XXX was so short, it can be seen as a temporary letdown that shouldn't be replicated.
As such, it's tough to imagine that their match will disappoint at Extreme Rules.
High expectations are tough to surpass, but Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have it in them to do just that.
These men have outdone themselves numerous times in the past and it would be no shock for them to pull off yet another accolade like that again.
4. Randy Orton
Randy Orton has been put on the back burner for almost the entirety of his WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign.
The meat of the story has always revolved around Triple H and Daniel Bryan, so Orton unfortunately was cast aside for much of the past few months.
It would be generous to say that he will be looked at as a huge selling point for this pay-per-view.
Fans can't be blamed if they are not excited for Orton's performance, considering how little his actions have truly reflected the recent landscape of WWE programming.
Despite being the top champion in the company, his feuds focused on his opponents and he won matches through odd circumstance instead of showing off his skill.
Even at WrestleMania XXX, when Orton dropped his title to Bryan, he wasn't a part of the decision to end the match.
For a major player, that isn't too impressive, but he was facing an uphill battle he couldn't win, considering the popularity of Bryan and the company's steadfast push of Batista.
Extreme Rules will give Orton a chance to break out of that rut and remind the audience that he is indeed one of the top guys in WWE, as opposed to just a placeholder.
It appears as though he will be feuding with The Shield, which is a guaranteed high-profile segment of the show.
In that environment of a match, Orton is going to be relied upon for carrying the bulk of the action.
This will allow him to showcase his talents and, after having a good match with three of the biggest babyfaces in the company, get back on track.
To say that Batista's return has been a complete disaster would be an exaggeration, but it's hard to argue that it's been a success.
For WWE to bring back a former huge star in the company and thrust him back into the main event is a logical move to make, and those who called the shots can't necessarily be blamed for trying.
However, it just wasn't in the cards and it wasn't what the fans wanted, and now Batista is in the position he's in today.
Transitioning to a heel was out of necessity—a "turn into the skid" moment to keep the situation from getting worse.
Instead of welcoming him with open arms and cheering him like no other, fans have been heavily critical of Batista as of late.
NXT crowds have taken it upon themselves to cheer "better than Batista" when people dish out a powerbomb.
Chants of "you tapped out" and "you can't wrestle" have been less about playing along and hating the bad guy and more about expressing one's dissatisfaction in Batista's work and WWE's creative team.
Similar to Orton's case, Batista is going to be working with The Shield somehow.
This presents an opportunity for different styles to give the crowd something new to see that hasn't happened yet.
Roman Reigns going against Batista will make some in the audience very happy to see, not to mention the other pairings.
Keeping it fresh is going to tone down the hate that Batista is getting, which separates him from Orton.
While Orton can fix being shunned with a lack of attention, Batista is going to have to fix being glared at and receiving solely negative attention.
If "Bootista" is unable to pull it off, it will justify the complaints from the fans.
On the contrary, if Batista can be a star at Extreme Rules, the fans will just have to deal with it.
2. Jack Swagger
With the way things are going on WWE programming at the moment, it's safe to assume that Cesaro is going to face off against Jack Swagger at Extreme Rules in some capacity.
While the key star of the match is clearly Cesaro and it is highly unlikely that he will take the fall in this match, Swagger should not be counted out, either.
Just because he probably would be on the losing side of things does not mean that Swagger will end up looking like a total chump.
In fact, Swagger has a good chance here to grab some of the spotlight for himself.
If you follow Swagger's career over the past few years, he has been given several opportunities and then squandered them.
Sometimes, it was merely a lack of a progression in his mic skills, which have been rectified by giving him a manager.
Other times, it's been trust issues, such as his run-ins with the law or his ring-work leading to Dolph Ziggler's concussion last year.
This may be the last time that Swagger has a legitimate chance to prove to WWE that he can be worth more than a midcarder.
Chances are he knows this and he will be trying to put on the best possible performance to show how valuable he is.
Compared to the other people on this list, Swagger probably has the smallest vote of confidence from the fans in terms of assuming that he will be a highlight.
Because of those low expectations, he has the most to gain out of all the names on this list by proving everyone wrong.
1. Bray Wyatt
Most of Bray Wyatt's match at WrestleMania XXX consisted of him waiting for John Cena to beat him.
This is not the best way to promote interest in a character, as opposed to allowing him to show off his skills.
It was a disappointment that their match together wasn't as epic of a fight as it was marketed to be.
Extreme Rules can up the ante and make their next encounter more worth the while and what fans were hoping for, though.
Ideally, this is a chance to give Wyatt a victory that can boost his credibility quite a bit.
Introducing a steel cage to block Luke Harper and Erick Rowan means that Wyatt will be given the full amount of attention and it will all rest on his shoulders.
If you were not happy with what happened at WrestleMania XXX, you should be optimistic that the opposite will happen at Extreme Rules.
Wyatt's value can be thrown out the window completely if WWE books this the wrong way.
But if done well, by the end of the night, everyone in the crowd might end up looking at him as a bona fide main event star and the biggest talking point of the night.
Who do you think will shine at Extreme Rules? Do you expect anyone to disappoint instead?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
Anthony Mango is the owner-operator of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment as well as the host of its podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.