Rusev dropped the U.S. title to Cena at WrestleMania 31 this past Sunday. The two continued their feud on Thursday's SmackDown, with the Bulgarian Brute maintaining that Lana's interference cost him the match. Cena, meanwhile, riled up Rusev by having the American flag unfurled above the ring.
Scott Fishman of the (South Florida) Sun Sentinel felt that few would be able to miss the patriotism on show:
With Cena holding the United States Championship and Daniel Bryan owning the Intercontinental Championship, it would appear WWE is making a concerted effort to elevate the company's secondary titles.
Cena is fresh off a good match with Dean Ambrose on Raw. He retained, but Ambrose pushed him to the brink.
It wouldn't be a big surprise to see WWE go either way at Extreme Rules. Keeping the U.S. title on Cena would allow the belt to gain more prestige—something it sorely needs. On the other hand, a win for Rusev would allow him to build back some of the momentum he had going into WrestleMania. He's teetering on what could be a Bray Wyatt-like fall from grace after the biggest show of the year.
Either way, the match is likely to be the last between the two for now, since Rusev and Cena each own one win over the other.