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WWE Extreme Rules 2015 match card preview: John Cena vs. Rusev

No longer undefeated, Rusev has a perfect opportunity to restore his pride tonight by defeating John Cena in the rubber match of their series, which thanks to The Authority has a Russian chain stipulation that plays to his brawling strengths.

Can John Cena beat Rusev at his own game?
Can John Cena beat Rusev at his own game?
WWE.com

Russian Chain Match for the WWE United States Championship

John Cena (c) vs. Rusev

No longer undefeated, Rusev has a perfect opportunity to restore his pride tonight by defeating John Cena in the rubber match of their series, which thanks to The Authority has a Russian chain stipulation that plays to his brawling strengths. But often in the past, the Americans beat the Russians at their own game in such bouts. Can Cena follow in Bruno Sammartino's footsteps by beating his Russian rival again in Rusev's hand-picked gimmick rematch?

The Road to Extreme Rules

At WrestleMania 31, John Cena became the first man to both break free of the Accolade and cleanly defeat Rusev to win the United States title for the fourth time. Unlike at Fast Lane, Lana's interference backfired as the Bulgarian Brute crashed into her on the apron, which directly led to Cena pinning Rusev with the Attitude Adjustment.

In front of a raucous crowd of hecklers on the post-Mania edition of Monday Night Raw, John Cena proved himself to be a more fighting United States champion than Rusev ever was by issuing an open challenge to anyone in the back to face him in a match for the title. Surprisingly Dean Ambrose answered the challenge instead of Rusev, but he also fell victim to the AA in a competitive match. Later that night, Rusev squashed Goldust in a match where Lana was conspicuous by her absence.

However, Lana was back on the Apr. 2nd Smackdown to tell John Cena that he wasn't worthy of being champion and was half the man that Rusev is, before Rusev took the microphone from her to surrender the United States title back to him or be crushed at Extreme Rules again. Rusev also vowed that at Extreme Rules "we would see this" as he motioned for the Russian flag to be dropped from the ceiling, but nothing happened. Cena then mimicked Rusev and an American flag came down instead, much to the chagrin of Rusev.

Since that angle, John Cena's main focus has been beating all comers for his shiny new patriotic belt, including Stardust, Bad News Barrett and Kane, which has given Rusev opportunities to strike at unexpected moments.

On the Apr. 13th Monday Night Raw, Lana distracted Cena after his match with BNB, allowing Rusev to knock The US Champ out cold with a steel chain wrapped around his fist. The Ravishing Russian then revealed that The Authority had granted Rusev the stipulation of a Russian chain match at Extreme Rules.

A similar ambush attack occurred on this week's Monday Night Raw. Before John Cena could finish his backstage interview with Byron Saxton, Rusev came out of nowhere to KO Cena again with a steel chain assisted punch and then locked on a variant of the Accolade where the steel chain was wrapped around Cena's face for added pain and torture.

Although he lost by disqualification for using his Russian chain, Rusev destroyed the monstrous Ryback in similar fashion on this week's Smackdown too.

What's at Stake?

The themes are similar to their previous bouts this year on pay-per-view: a symbolic war for their home country's supremacy by battling over the WWE United States Championship.

The main difference here is the Russian chain gimmick, which should play to the Bulgarian Brute's brawling strengths. Can John Cena overcome the odds like he usually does or will Rusev crush him with the chain like he's already done twice on television in the run-up to this unique match?

Another factor is Lana, whose presence aided Rusev at Fast Lane, but hindered him at WrestleMania, where it looked like they would breakup. They've been on the same page ever since Lana's return, but will cracks in their relationship reappear if she accidentally costs Rusev the rubber match against Cena?

Find out by watching WWE Extreme Rules on the WWE Network tonight at 8pm EDT and following our live coverage at CagesideSeats.com!

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