WWE Extreme Rules 2014 Match Card: Best Way to Book Each Match at PPV
The booking of a match can make or break an entire show or, in more extreme cases, an entire career.
Sunday night at Extreme Rules, fans will be treated to a pay-per-view featuring three legitimate main event matches and a card dotted with young stars with the potential to lead WWE into the future.
Alexander Rusev, Cesaro, Bad News Barrett, Paige, the Wyatt Family, The Shield and Daniel Bryan are the next generation of WWE Superstars and Divas, and they will be heavily featured on the WWE Network broadcast. For some of them, especially recent NXT call-ups Rusev and Paige, the manner in which they are booked Sunday night could have a direct impact on the success they enjoy throughout their careers.
With WWE Raw enjoying recent ratings success and the quality of the product as high as it has been in quite some time, the decision made among the members of WWE's crack creative staff could determine whether or not that success continues.
Finally, with performers such as the Wyatt Family and Cesaro delivering such consistently great promos and matches, what they do at Extreme Rules could repay their work with major wins on the road to main event glory.
With so much riding on this Sunday's pay-per-view event, here now is a look at the best ways to book every match on the Extreme Rules card.
Wee-LC Match: El Torito vs. Hornswoggle
Whoever decided that Hornswoggle and El Torito needed to feud and, more importantly, that the feud needed to culminate in a match on a pay-per-view event—even if it is on the pre-show—should be fired immediately.
With that said, the crowd has been at least receptive to the comedy program to this point and El Torito and Hornswoggle are both over enough, and good enough, to come up with something partly entertaining come Sunday night.
The key to booking the match will be to ensure that it does not go too long. Wee-LC stipulation or not, there is only so much those two competitors can do to keep the audience invested and the longer the match goes, the more risk they run of exposing their weaknesses.
Luckily for them, Los Matadores and 3MB are made up of some very talented workers who can add to the match and maybe even elevate the quality of the match as a result. Heath Slater is among the most underrated performers in all of professional wrestling and could be a very fun addition to the bout, while Fernando, Diego, Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal are pros' pros, doing whatever is asked of them for the overall entertainment of the audience.
Plenty of interference from both tag teams and a few fun spots from El Torito and Hornswoggle themselves—hopefully involving a stepladder at some point—and the crowd will respond favorably for the night's opening contest.
R-Truth and Xavier Woods vs. Alexander Rusev (with Lana)
With the "Ravishing Russian" Lana by his side, Alexander Rusev has torn through the competition thus far in his WWE career, laying waste to the likes of Sin Cara and Zack Ryder as he climbs the ladder to greatness in the land of sports entertainment.
Two of his victims, R-Truth and Xavier Woods, have been a thorn in his side over the last three weeks, and Sunday night at Extreme Rules they will work together to try to end Rusev's winning ways.
Truth and Woods have the opportunity to be a very solid babyface tag team for WWE but in no way should they be portrayed as any real threat to Rusev. There is too much upside to the "Bulgarian Brute" to waste on two guys perceived to be lower-midcard talents.
Sunday's match should be a display of Rusev's athleticism, agility and strength as he puts the former US champion Truth and his protege Woods away in short order. Woods does not have the history with the WWE Universe that Truth does and therefore Rusev should finish Truth off with the Accolade to secure the win.
Triple Threat Match: Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger
One of the most intriguing matches on the card was also the last to be officially added.
Jack Swagger and Cesaro have been feuding since the Real Americans duo imploded back at WrestleMania 30. Rob Van Dam became mixed up in the conflict during the No. 1 Contender's tournament to determine the next challenger to Big E's Intercontinental Championship. Now, the three skilled competitors will meet in a triple threat match in which the only things on the line are pride and bragging rights.
Swagger enters the match in dire need of an impressive performance. The likelihood of him leaving with his arm raised in victory are very low, so if he wants to remain relevant in WWE and not slip back into the abyss known as the middle of WWE's midcard he will have to deliver one of his finest performances to date.
Van Dam is perpetually over and will likely be the centerpiece of the match considering that he is the only babyface in the bout. Regardless of whether he wins or loses, he is bulletproof at this point of his career and will remain one of the most popular stars on the roster thanks to his impressive resume and his innovative offense.
Cesaro is the most interesting competitor to watch in the match as he is in the middle of a major push and has recently taken on Paul Heyman as his manager. His in-ring performances since splitting from Swagger and Zeb Colter have been exemplary. He has demonstrated fine chemistry with both of his Extreme Rules opponents over the last month, all-but ensuring the quality of the match.
Cesaro is the most important competitor in the match in terms of WWE's long-term future. They clearly see the Swiss Superman as one of the men to lead to the company's next generation and the attention will be on making him look as strong as possible. As it should be.
Uppercuts, forearms, the Cesaro Swing and the Neutralizer should lead Cesaro to victory. A pinfall win over Van Dam carries more weight, but as long as the former United States champion leaves the Izod Center with his arm raised in victory who he scores the fall over is inconsequential.
One of the major elements of the story leading into Extreme Rules has been the conflict between Heyman and Colter. To get the most out of the match and to elicit the loudest reaction possible, they should not only get involved but have a physical altercation to accentuate the action inside the squared circle.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Big E vs. Bad News Barrett
Bad News Barrett has been on a tremendous roll since returning to the ring on the April 7 episode of Raw. Since then, he has collected wins over the likes of Rey Mysterio, Sheamus and Rob Van Dam and has clearly positioned himself as one of the hottest stars in the promotion.
Considering how many times he has been pushed and de-pushed since assuming leadership of Nexus in the summer of 2010, it is a testament to the performer that he has been able to overcome every booking blunder thrown his way to become better and more over than he has ever been.
Big E is the Intercontinental champion and a Superstar who has been lost in the shuffle since WrestleMania. He has wrestled high-profile stars such as Alberto Del Rio but has not appeared on Raw in weeks, instead being relegated to B- and C-level shows such as Main Event and Superstars.
He is not particularly over with the crowd but a large portion of the blame for that can go to creative, who has done nothing to evolve or adjust his character since he captured the title last November. He is still the same quick, agile powerhouse that is capable of beating any Superstar put in front of him but, for whatever reason, only manages to win some while losing others.
Barrett is hotter and has more upside potential in the immediate future than E does, which should necessitate a title change come Sunday night.
A hard-fought, hard-hitting match between champion and challenger that ends cleanly with Barrett delivering the Bullhammer for the win would be an excellent way to pay off the No. 1 Contender's tournament and continue the sudden rise of Bad News Barrett.
Big E will recover and still has the tools to be a major player for the company in the future, but right now it is the Englishman's time to shine.
Divas Championship Match: Paige vs. Tamina Snuka
Paige will cap off an eventful first month on the main roster by defending the Divas Championship against Tamina Snuka.
To prepare herself for the match, Paige has been in action every week since capturing the title. She has scored two wins over Alicia Fox in very hard-fought matches and has made Aksana tap out to the Scorpion Cross Lock twice.
Tamina, on the other hand, has prepped for her latest title opportunity by defeating Natalya in two matches, one on SmackDown and the other on Superstars.
Rather than giving the Divas a story that could potentially excite fans or, at the very least, give them something to sink their teeth into, the company has opted to keep Paige and Tamina away from one another. They have not gotten physical to this point and only this past Tuesday on Main Event did they stare each other down.
Despite being a solid worker and the daughter of WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy Snuka, Tamina is largely a utility player in the Divas division at this point. She was very effective as the muscle for AJ Lee, but on her own she is simply another characterless female performer on a roster full of them.
Paige is fresh, young, exciting and a very talented ring worker with a tremendous upside. If handled correctly, she could very well be the first truly marketable Diva the company has had since Trish Stratus and Lita dominated the scene.
The Norwich, England native should continue her winning ways by catching Tamina with the Paige Turner and scoring an impressive pinfall victory.
Steel Cage Match: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
John Cena's victory over Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania XXX left many feeling as though the resident Superman of WWE was once again being shoved down the throats of fans at the expense of a young, captivating and entertaining talent like Wyatt.
How wrong they were.
That loss necessitated the next chapter in the feud, a chapter that has seen Cena near his breaking point as Wyatt continues to test his will. He has seen fans opt to throw him to the lions in a three-on-one handicap match. He has been the victim of mind games that have nearly cracked the otherwise unflappable competitor.
Wyatt, to his credit, continues to deliver the best promo work of the last ten years and has completely engrossed himself in the character. The conviction with which he speaks his words makes fans believe what he is saying and has won over a large part of the audience, which now greets the creepy and enigmatic Wyatt Family with cheers.
A third-generation star, Wyatt needs to beat Cena Sunday at Extreme Rules more than the former WWE champion needs the win, though not as much as you may think. Had it not have been for the tremendous followup to the 'Mania bout, he would absolutely need to win the match to be considered any threat to Cena.
With that said, he is so over, and his performances have been so good that wins and losses will not define his success at this point. Still, fan perception still means a great deal, and to this day fans gravitate to those considered to be winners.
The win would be the biggest of Wyatt's career to date and would continue the stellar rivalry between he and Cena for another month. Considering the quality of feud fans have enjoyed to this point, that would not be a bad thing.
Extreme Rules Match for the WWE World Title: Daniel Bryan vs. Kane
The return of the Big Red Monster has created a much more interesting feud over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship than a straight program between Daniel Bryan and Corporate Kane would have been coming out of WrestleMania XXX.
It also opened up story opportunities and allowed the company to write Bryan off of television so that he could be with his family following the untimely and unfortunate passing of his father.
Kane has been booked perfectly since putting the mask back on. He has been violent, sadistic and has also reverted to the supernatural and intimidating acts that made his character one of the most enduring in WWE history. Bryan, the sympathetic underdog champion, has been the perfect target for his ruthless aggression.
The most interesting element of the feud has been Stephanie McMahon, who has been at her disingenuous heel best. The manner in which she talks down to Bryan, throws his wife Brie in the path of danger and ultimately makes life a living hell for WWE's favorite couple has been brilliant.
It is clear that the Authority still does not want Bryan to be champion and the Billion Dollar Princess has unleashed the Devil's Favorite Demon to ensure he does not remain that way for long.
The match will be wild and chaotic but the violence on display will help determine its overall effectiveness. As someone who has been physically assaulted and has seen the love of his life personally targeted, Bryan should be prepared to unleash fury on Kane. Simply trying to out-wrestle him in an Extreme Rules match and not making the most of the stipulation would be a major waste of time.
Weapon use should be plentiful and the intensity off the charts as the competitors try to steal the show out from underneath Cena vs. Wyatt and The Shield vs. Evolution. Given the story leading into the match, a potential catfight between Brie Bella and Stephanie McMahon should not be out of the question.
Bryan should win the match in strong fashion. He has cooled significantly since WrestleMania—through no fault of his own, given the out-of-ring events occurring in his life—and needs that one great performance and signature win to help regain some momentum.
Kane, in monster form, still carries a great deal of weight with the fans. Beating the destructive force in a match that clearly favors the Devil's Favorite Demon will only shine the spotlight on Bryan's grit and toughness as his title reign continues.
The Shield vs. Evolution
Whether it is 1997 or 2014, defying authority is a surefire way of gaining favor with the audience and becoming one of the hottest acts in the industry.
Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns had gained reputations for being some of the best young workers in the industry thanks to stellar in-ring performances against the top names in professional wrestling. When they turned their back on the Authority and became babyfaces, the group reached an all-new level of popularity.
The return of Evolution, in the three-man form of Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista, has presented the Hounds of Justice with their biggest test to date. All former heavyweight champions, all destined for the Hall of Fame, Evolution is a dream team of three of the most decorated stars of the last decade.
Coming off of a WrestleMania XXX in which they saw their plans to halt the Yes Movement go up in smoke, they are more determined than ever to ensure they leave Extreme Rules much happier than they did a month ago.
The hottest match on the card, it is curious that there are no match stipulations attached. Still, with the amount of talent that will share the ring in what should be the main event of the night, the match will likely be the best of the evening. If they reach their full potential, it could even become the front-runner for Match of the Year.
Many believe this is The Shield's match to win for they are riding far too large a wave of momentum to sacrifice them just to put over the already established Evolution. It would be foolish to think that the issues between the two trios would conclude at Extreme Rules. There is still a tremendous amount of mileage left in the feud, regardless of who wins or loses Sunday night.
The Shield is more established as a group with today's audience than Evolution is. The stars, individually, are recognized for their greatness but a large portion of the audience is not familiar with their antics, which played out on Raw a decade ago. For that reason, they need to establish themselves as a force and put to bed doubts that they can work together as a unit.
Orton is most in need of a big win after the poor manner in which he was booked while WWE World Heavyweight champion, and he can get that win by catching either Rollins or Ambrose with an RKO.
The win allows the feud to continue while giving Evolution bragging rights heading into Raw.