The quality of any given World Wrestling Entertainment card is ultimately attributed to the wrestlers who compete on the show.
While booking can build heat for a match, it is the workers themselves who are tasked with delivering the goods between the ropes to ensure a proper payoff to the storylines conceived in creative meetings in the hours, days and weeks before the shows.
Sunday night, WWE will present its annual Extreme Rules pay-per-view event. With three legitimate main event matches taking up a large portion of the broadcast, the success of the night's show may very well hinge on the 10 men involved in the night's most anxiously anticipated bouts.
Which of those competitors will either make or break the entire show and become synonymous with the event, for better or worse?
Let's take a look.
So much of the build and hype heading into Extreme Rules has centered on the Hounds of Justice. They have been pushed as the anti-authority vigilantes since the post-WrestleMania, April 7 episode of Monday Night Raw, and both their popularity and exposure has increased rapidly in the weeks preceding Sunday's event.
Booked as the equals of Evolution to this point, The Shield will have to back up the extraordinary job the creative team has done in putting them in that position. They will share the ring with three of the most decorated stars of this, or any, generation in Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton.
Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have consistently excelled since entering the company in 2012. Their first match at the TLC pay-per-view in December of that year was a near five-star classic against Daniel Bryan, Kane and Ryback, and their work since has been nothing short of stellar.
Still, despite working with the likes of John Cena, Big Show, Randy Orton and Sheamus, there is a special kind of pressure that comes with working with the boss.
Triple H does not work many matches at this point in his career, so for him to take to the ring to compete against anyone is a big deal. That he has chosen to work with The Shield is a phenomenal endorsement of the three young stars.
The COO, Orton and Batista will get a pass if the match fails to live up to lofty expectations. They are established performers with Hall of Fame inductions in their futures and guaranteed spots at the top of the card for the rest of their careers.
Therefore, the weight of the world rests on the shoulders of the Shield as they prepare for what will be the biggest match of their young careers. Deliver the performances fans know they are capable of and they will be made men.
Fail and not only could a pay-per-view event suffer significantly as a result, but doubt will creep in concerning their ability to succeed at the next level.
Daniel Bryan is one of the greatest in-ring workers of his generation, and regardless of what is going on in and around his personal life the one thing people can feel confident in is his ability to deliver an outstanding match once the bell sounds.
It is for that reason that Kane's performance in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is paramount to its success.
Bryan can be as great as he wants to be, but if Kane underwhelms, which he has done one several occasions in the past, fans are going to endure a disappointing first title defense from the bearded Superstar.
Kane has a track record of delivering his best performances between the ropes when he is paired up with a technically sound competitor. Whether it is the dynamic between the ruthless powerhouse and the technical thinker or if he is simply more motivated to prove he can hang with those guys, Kane's resume is dotted with very good matches against the likes of Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle.
Bryan is every bit as good as those individuals and, like them, has the ability to adapt and wrestle any style of match imaginable. If Kane puts his working boots on and rises to the level of his opponent, and former tag team partner, they could potentially deliver a show-stealing match.
If he does not, or if the Devil's Favorite Demon simply has an off-night, the match will suffer and so too may Bryan's long-awaited championship reign.
Outside of that one superb match against Daniel Bryan back in January at Royal Rumble, fans are still waiting for that moment when Bray Wyatt backs up his stellar microphone work with an outstanding in-ring performance against a top-level star in a big-match situation.
At WrestleMania, the Reaper of Souls told a tremendous story in his contest with John Cena but there was something lacking that really prevented the match from ascending to the next level.
With some fine writing and even better performances leading to one of the best all-around stories WWE has told over the last decade, there will be plenty of high expectations surrounding the Steel Cage match Sunday night at Extreme Rules.
For all of the negativity that tends to surround him, Cena is one of the best big-match performers WWE has ever seen. His ability to drag a good match out of even the least talented stars in the industry, such as the Great Khali, is astounding.
Wyatt is far better than Khali and significantly better than a large portion of today's roster, which is why so much is riding on the third-generation star to finally give that one performance that makes everyone sit up and appreciate his work inside the ring as much as they do his promo ability.
If that happens and he finally turns in that performance, the likelihood that Extreme Rules is recognized as one of the best shows of the year increases exponentially.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!