Typically held on the last Sunday of March or the first Sunday of April, WWE’s WrestleMania (WM) is always the highlight of my year. I have been a lifelong fan of wrestling and to me this night and event is better than the Super Bowl. Having seen every WM, dozens of pay-per-views, hundreds of weekly shows, and quite a few events in person, I consider myself a huge fan.
When you talk to a wrestling fan and ask them some of their favorite moments, a lot of their responses will involve WM. Memories of the immortal Hulk Hogan body-slamming Andre the Giant at WM3 or ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels using a huge zip-line to enter the ring before the main event of WM12 are mentioned frequently. A bloodied Stone Cold Steve Austin refusing to submit to Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart at WM13 and Triple H hitting the Undertaker with his own signature move, the Tombstone Piledriver, at WM27 often top lists. Whether it’s the sights and sounds of Mean Gene Okerlund, Mike Tyson, the Ultimate Warrior, Randy Macho Man Savage, or Pete Rose, WM always delivers on the grandest stage of them all as the WWE’s marquee event of the year.
This year’s show is set for Sunday night, April 1st, and could potentially be one of the best. I am very excited and will gladly offer up my roughly $65 to view the show on HD pay-per-view like I do every spring. Here is a complete run-down of the schedule matches, my thoughts, and my predictions.
Randy Orton vs. Kane: this match is a battle of two stars of the company however it is really being used as a filler match. Speculation was for Wade Barrett to take on Orton but Barrett was injured in recent weeks leaving Orton out in the cold for the big night. Kane has gladly stepped in to try to spoil Randy’s fun, playing the evil monster from hell. On a night where the good guys (baby face/face) usually win, I’m going to predict Randy Orton wins this one.
Tag Team Match featuring Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs. Divas Champion Beth Phoenix & Eve: Beth Phoenix is without a shadow of a doubt the only Diva in this match with talent. Having held the Championship since October of last year, Beth is is a class by herself and could give several of the men on this card a run for their money. With that being said, this is WM and I expect the celebrity to win. We’ve seen it before with Lawrence Taylor, Snooki, and Floyd Mayweather. As sad as it is, the celebrities always win, so I will look for Maria or Kelly Kelly to pin Eve to end this one.
Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny: in a match to decide control over both Raw and Smackdown, Vice President of Talent Relations and Interim Raw General Manager John Laurinaitis puts together a team of 6 wrestlers to take a team chosen by Smackdown General Manager Theodore Long. Team Johnny captain is none other than the coffee-thermos toting husband of Jennifer Hudson, David Otunga. Together with Laurinaitis they have selected Jack Swagger, Drew McIntyre, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, and the Miz. Team Teddy features current US Champion Santino Marella as captain along with Booker T, The Great Khali, Charlotte native R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, and Zack Ryder. Looking at this match from a competitor stand point, I see Team Teddy having comedy (Zack Ryder, Santino Marella, & R-Truth) mixed with vetern leadership (Booker T) and a massive man (Khali). The ‘X’ factor here is Kofi Kingston. His athletic ability, talent, and determination gives him the opportunity to steal the show at any time. On the other side of the ring are 4 former World Champions (Swagger, Henry, Ziggler, & the Miz) along with 2 future stars (Otunga and McIntyre). I see no way Team Johnny loses with the power they have on their team. Looking at this from a GM stand point, Teddy Long has been the GM of Smackdown forever and it’s time for a change. John Laurinaitis draws heat from the crowd very well and I think his ‘texting’ needs to be seen on both shows. Team Johnny wins as the Miz and/or Dolph Ziggler finish off Santino Marella.
Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes vs. The Big Show: son of Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, Cody has really stepped into his own in the last year. After a long feud with Rey Mysterio, Rhodes won the Intercontinental title and has not looked back since. The Big Show has been a company man for years doing whatever has been asked of him, including losing a sumo wrestling match, losing a match to Floyd Mayweather, and being one of the shortest reigning World Champions ever. I foresee the Big Show doing the job again here, letting Cody keep his IC title, as it does no good putting the strap on Show. With that being said, maybe Big Show wins the match. I could see him hitting Rhodes with the Weapon of Mass Destruction (a knockout punch) while Cody is on the outside of the ring, thus resulting in a count out, allowing Cody to keep the title because the championship cannot change hands on a count out.
World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus: the Celtic Warrior has been on a roll lately since turning face and that push landed him in the winner circle at the Royal Rumble, giving him the opportunity to pick his championship opponent at WM. Sheamus chose Daniel Bryan at February’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view and in my opinion should be able to beat him. Looking for another championship run, Sheamus is a mass of a man with a high tolerance for pain. That combination, along with his humorous accent, spells disaster for long time independent wrestler Bryan.
WWE Champion CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho: many people are crediting Punk with bring wrestling back to main stream media after voicing his opinion of the company during contract negotiations last summer. I say it’s just the CM Punk that has been there all along, just now he was given the microphone and platform to tell it like it is. CM Punk is very popular right now and will be the crowd favorite in his match against the original undisputed champion. Chris Jericho (Y2J) came back to the WWE at the beginning of the year after taking time off to write another book and compete on Dancing With The Stars. Although I believe Y2J is in great shape and the two competitors will put on a heck of a show, I think CM Punk will retain his WWE championship and win bragging rights as the ‘Best In The World’, a claim both men have used recently. Whether it is Punk’s famous finishing manuever, the ‘Go To Sleep’ (GTS), or his submission hold, the Anaconda Vice, he will walk out of Sun Life Stadium in Miami still the champion.
Hell in a Cell Match featuring The Undertaker vs. Triple H with special referee Shawn Michaels: the undefeated streak at WM for the Undertaker stands at 19-0 and has grown into a level of mythical proportion when it comes to the history of the WWE. Many of the biggest name is pro wrestling have fallen to the Deadman in their attempt to end the streak, including back to back matches with Shawn Michaels (the last of them being a career ending match for HBK). Last year Triple H challenged the Phenom to a match at WM27 to not only end the streak but avenge the losses of his best friend Michaels. No matter what HHH threw at the Deadman he kept coming back. The Undertaker won the match but was badly beaten and could not leave the ring under his own power. Pleased with the victory but frustrated with the lasting image of himself being carried from the ring, the Deadman is giving the King of Kings an opportunity to etch his name in history books once again as the two compete in arguably the most painful match the WWE offers, Hell in a Cell. Shawn Michaels could play a role in this match. Mr. WrestleMania not only had his career ended by ‘Taker but has been Triple H’s best friend since the mid ’90s. The Showstopper has a lot of respect for the Undertaker and may not be able to bring himself to help his friend, leading the WWE Universe to wonder how this will end. I myself have been cheering against the streak for a couple of years now, however I have learned not to bet against it. It is very possible this could be the last match for whichever man loses in a showdown being billed as the ‘End of an Era’. I will be rooting for Triple H but I have to pick Undertaker to win.
The Rock vs. John Cena: another match featuring two of the greatest stars in the history of this company, The Rock will take on John Cena in Rocky’s hometown of Miami, in an epic match being touted as ‘Once in a Lifetime’. This match was agreed upon last year after The Rock interfered in Cena’s WWE Championship main event match against The Miz at WM27. The two men have since engaged in a war of words and staredowns in and out of the WWE ring. The Rock has called out Cena for his appeal to young fans and his babyface character while John Cena has made it clear that the Rock (who claims to be the People’s Champion) does not care about the fans but only about making movies and money. I was a huge fan of The Rock in the mid ’90s thru early 2000s and love how he can captivate an audience, but Cena is right. The Rock has not competed in a singles match in 8 years and is only coming back for the money and to promote himself as an actor. John Cena has been giving 110% every night, show after show, for 8 years, and only cares about the fans. John Cena has granted more ‘Make A Wish’ dreams than any one else in the history of the program and that speaks volumes for a man who does not miss a match. He is a polarizing character and everyone has an opinion of him, you either love him or hate him. The Rock has massive drawing power on his own and losing to Cena will not hurt that, however Cena is the face of the WWE and a loss to The Rock can hurt his legacy within the WWE. This one will live up to it’s hype and be the match of the night. With rumors of several upcoming film projects for The Rock, I fully expect John Cena to defeat him and walk out of the ring as the real ‘People’s Champion’. (John Cena was on The Drive with Marc James last week, listen to the interview here)
Regardless of who wins and loses on Sunday night, millions will be entertained for 4 hours during the best night of the year.
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