WWE Extreme Rules 2014 Card: Matches With Biggest Historical Implications

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WWE Extreme Rules 2014 Card: Matches With Biggest Historical Implications
Credit: WWE.com

Open up the WWE Encyclopedia by Brian Shields, and you will find any number of matches that were instrumental in shaping the World Wrestling Entertainment you see today.

Ivan Koloff's victory over Bruno Sammartino ended the legendary seven-plus year reign of the Living Legend. Hulk Hogan versus Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III was the greatest main event ever promoted. John Cena's titanic clash with The Rock drew the largest pay-per-view buyrate of all time. 

Triple H's Street Fight performance against Mankind at Royal Rumble in 2000 established The Game as one of the greatest main-event Superstars of all time. The Rock versus "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at WrestleMania X-Seven ended the Attitude Era, while John Cena and Batista's rise at WrestleMania 21 capped off the Ruthless Aggression Era.

Sunday night, when WWE presents its annual Extreme Rules event, the card will feature a number of matches with potential to live on in WWE history as landmarks for the talent involved.

Whether it is the first-time Divas title defense from Paige, the first WWE World Heavyweight Championship defense from Daniel Bryan, the first pay-per-view appearance for Alexander Rusev or the rise of The Shield to the top of the industry, fans have the opportunity to witness moments that could affect both the short- and long-term future of WWE.

With that said, here is a look at a few matches with the most potential to make history Sunday night during the Extreme Rules broadcast.

 

Credit: WWE.com

The Shield vs. Evolution

There is no match on the card that has received the amount of exposure or hype of The Shield vs. Evolution, to the point that the rise of the Hounds of Justice has overshadowed both Daniel Bryan's WWE Championship reign and the reunion of one of the greatest factions of all time.

The Shield has been great for a long time. Their in-ring work is top notch, and the way they mastered the psychology and storytelling of the six-man tag-team match led to WWE tailoring its television booking to include those bouts far more than they had ever been featured before.

The fact that the presentation of the group was so cool, with the entrance through the crowd and the tactical gear, only helped get them over with the audience. But the minute they turned babyface and management gave the audience at large the permission to accept them as heroes, their popularity increased significantly.

Now, instead of a small portion of the crowd cheering their exploits, the entire arena joined in. As it turned out, people like seeing three cool good guys beating up some of the top villains in the sport.

With the newfound popularity, a push to back it up and a potential breakout star in Roman Reigns ready to break through the proverbial glass ceiling, The Shield is riding a wave of momentum heading into the Izod Center in East Rutherford for Sunday's event.

The level of their performance and the reaction they receive from what should be a white-hot audience will dictate the future of the group and could very well decide just how quickly management will split them up in the coming months.

Whether or not the group remains intact, there is a great deal of potential for a ton of money to be made off of the Shield as a single unit, and WWE may very well find that out Sunday night when they meet Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista, who will make history by teaming together for the first time in nearly a decade and, more than likely, win the actual match itself.

 

Credit: WWE.com

Daniel Bryan vs. Kane

Daniel Bryan's WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign has gotten off to a bumpy start, though by no fault of his own or the creative team. There has been no poor booking or underwhelming performances to dampen his first month as champion. Instead, real life interjected itself and provided both joy and heartache.

The Friday after WrestleMania, Bryan married the love of his life, Brie Bella, and embarked on a honeymoon that caused him to miss a week of television. As soon as he arrived home, he was greeted with the unfortunate news that his father had passed away unexpectedly. While Bryan appeared on Raw that night, he was written off of television and missed SmackDown.

Upon his return, the storyline involving Kane picked back up and finished strong on the April 28 episode of Raw.

While crowds still greet the champion with "YES!" chants across the country and the bearded Superstar remains, arguably, the most popular man in the sport, one cannot help but feel as though he has cooled significantly since winning the title in front of 75,000-plus fans inside the Superdome in New Orleans.

Sunday night's Extreme Rules match against Kane will be the most important contest of Bryan's career. Some may argue that the WrestleMania match against Triple H was, but by the time that bout rolled around, the decision had already been made to give him a run with the title. Now, it is up to Bryan to retain the faith of management and convince them to allow his reign to continue.

That will not be a problem at Extreme Rules. Bryan will defeat Kane and retain his title barring some sort of radical and reckless booking decision but the length and quality of his reign, including where he is positioned on the card throughout, will likely depend on the mark his match with the Devil's Favorite Demon leaves on management and fans alike.

 

Credit: WWE.com

Paige vs. Tamina Snuka

Simply put, Paige is the Diva WWE has waited for since Lita walked out the door and waved goodbye to the company eight years ago. She has a unique look, is a great women's wrestler, has sex appeal by the boatload even if she does not flaunt it and can be the face of the Divas division for the next decade.

She is extremely marketable and will help immensely with the foreign crowds, particularly in her home country of England. The company will be traveling to Europe for a massive tour shortly after Extreme Rules, and she will likely play a major role in the marketing and media-relations aspect of the tour.

The result of Paige's match with Tamina is a foregone conclusion. Tamina will either tap out or be pinned, and the champion will retain her title. There is far too much money to be made and too much potential to waste on someone like Tamina, whose questionable natural charisma and solid-yet-unspectacular ring presence has held her back in WWE.

The win would see the continuation of the title reign and the defeat of the most physically imposing woman on the roster. More importantly, it would get Paige her first successful title defense and her first pay-per-view victory.

And if those two occurrences are not historically significant, what are?

 

Credit: WWE.com

R-Truth and Xavier Woods vs. Alexander Rusev

Like Paige, WWE sees Rusev as a key part of its future, and Sunday night at Extreme Rules, he will have the opportunity to pick up his first pay-per-view victory when he meets the team of Xavier Woods and R-Truth in a handicap match.

Truth and Woods, prior to the build for Extreme Rules, were largely afterthoughts in the WWE Universe. Woods failed to interest anyone upon his debut on the main roster late last year and R-Truth could conceivably be recognized as a veteran jobber-to-the-stars at this point in his career.

Neither man stands any chance of knocking off the super athletic Bulgarian Brute, as the lovely social ambassador Lana so elegantly puts it.

Rusev will roll over his competition before continuing his climb to bigger and better things in the coming weeks and months.

If the character reaches the level of success management believes that he can, it will be matches like Sunday's handicap bout and other early contests that one will be able to look back on as a major reason why.

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