michael dworkis previews ‘mania…
It’s that time of year! The Grandest Stage of them All, the Show of Shows, the Showcase of the Immortals, the Granddaddy of them All… have I covered all the nicknames? This is the event where the biggest matches of the year take place.
the most publicized match for this year, is the long-awaited confrontation between The Rock and John Cena. Two of the most iconic wrestling superstars to grace the squared circle. The Rock, famed star during the Attitude Era through 2002. Cena, the dominant face of WWE for the past several years will come face-to-face with the man who brought WWE to a new level.
Before we cover that, let us get to the undercard, as there is plenty of talent who will perform for us fans at WrestleMania.
Intercontinental Championship Match
Cody Rhodes (champion) vs. The Big Show
The angle for this one pits the son of legendary Dusty Rhodes, against the World’s Largest Athlete. Cody has been making fun over the fact that at WrestleMania, the Big Show always winds up the loser. While you might argue The Big Show is one of the greatest and most popular wrestling stars ever, Rhodes actually brings up a good, realistic point. Show, while a multi-time World and Tag Team Champion, has eight losses at Mania, with only three victories:
• WrestleMania 22, teaming with Kane to defeat Carltio and Chris Masters. This was seven years after his first WrestleMania match in 1999.
• WrestleMania 26, again in a Tag Team Match, Show and The Miz defeated John Morrison and R-Truth
• WrestleMania 27, Show earned a victory as part of an 8-Man tag match where he, along with Kane, Santino, and Kofi Kingston defeated Wade Barrett, Ezekiel Jackson, Justin Gabriel, and Heath Slater.
We can see The Big Show has won at his last two appearances, but all of his wins were in a tag team situation. On the other hand, Rhodes is on a roll as of late, holding the Intercontinental Championship for well over a year and is quickly becoming one of the top stars in WWE. Big Show has been loyal to WWE since his debut. We know Big Show loves what he does and that can clearly be seen when he shows off his big goofy grin as he enters the ringside area. Is that all there is to him? However, he is, a GIANT. He should dominate the ring! Will The Big Show be used as a stepping stone, or will he finally see another singles title run in his future?
Prediction: The Big Show — I am giving this one to The Big Show. Having been robbed of the World Title, The Big Show needs something big, literally to keep going. His days of being the dominant Giant are fading, and a title win at WrestleMania will give him the boost he needs.
Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres
It is no secret I have nothing but disdain for the Divas Division of WWE. There are ladies here with such incredible talent, yet I feel they are being wasted with gimmicks that make me miss Luna Vachon and Bertha Faye.
Beth Phoenix, Natalya Neidhart, Tamina Snuka, and even Eve all have amazing in-ring ability. Tamina showed off her stuff for a month, and is back to doing nothing. Natalya has a gimmick where she farts. A lot. Eve is a “hoeski” and Phoenix is thankfully Divas champion. This match is the celebrity factor for the show, bringing in Maria Menounos from Extra as a participant. At least it is a vast improvement from the disastrously dreadful appearance of Snooki last year.
Prediction: The concession stand and merch booth. Do I have to?… Really? I don’t wanna… Come on guys… Fine. It goes to Kelly Kelly and Maria Menouoreostronowitz.
Randy Orton vs. Kane
There really was no build-up to this match, except, uh, they got mad at each other once. Maybe they fought over the last doughnut and instead of allowing Orton to have it, Kane set it on fire. Maybe since Orton is now touted as a predator, he stalked Katie Vick and Kane got mad. In any case, I do not expect much out of this match except for brawling all over the arena.
Prediction: Kane. It will be a brawl. Both men thrive in brawls, but I see this match being the shock where Orton loses. Yes, Orton will lose and Kane will WIN.
Team Teddy (Santino, R-Truth, Khali, Kofi, Ryder, & Booker T) vs. Team Johnny (Otunga, Henry, McIntyre, Miz, Ziggler & Swagger)
In an effort to get as many people possible at Mania, a 6-on-6 Tag match was devised. The plot for this one, is that Teddy Long and John Lauranitis are vying for the position to be the General Manager for both Raw and SmackDown! television shows. Having a big tag match is always fun, but something about this match seems to be a bit of a letdown. On one side, you have popular stars in Santino, Kofi Kingston, Zack Ryder, and Booker T, who is always fun to watch. The other side you have current and future main eventers in Mark Henry, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, and Jack Swagger. However, whenever I see The Great Khali included in any match, I often ask the question: “Why… DOES HE STILL HAVE A JOB?!” McIntyre might have talent, but in the two-plus years he has been with WWE, we have yet to see it? Do not get me started on Otunga. I do not like him. I give him credit for having the physique of Lex Luger, but only armed with a bodyslam and the worst-spinebuster ever, Otunga makes zero contribution to the ring. Christian was supposed to be in the match, but his altercation with C.M. Punk on the Raw before Mania left him with multiple injuries, including re-injuring his neck which he just recovered from. Where is Alberto del Rio? Unfortunately, I feel the comedy factor might be prevalent in this match, which will undermine and hold back stars like Ziggler and Miz from showcasing their talent.
You know what, I’d rather see T.L. Hopper than The Great Khali.
Prediction: Team Johnny. This will be a good match. It will not steal any spotlights though.
World Heavyweight Championship Match
Daniel Bryan (champion) vs. Sheamus
The hype for this one, is Sheamus cashing in his Royal Rumble victory and challenging Bryan for the title. The only real background, is the feud these two had over the United States Championship when Bryan started out in WWE. These two were on opposite ends of the fanbase, Sheamus being the brutish heel and Bryan being the underdog babyface. The sides have changed, and now “The Great White” (is there something wrong with this or is it just me?) challenges the crafty villain for the championship. Bryan is an awesome, awesome mat-athlete which Sheamus is the perfect example of what a big man can do in the ring. This match is certain to be fantastic and very entertaining.
Prediction: Sheamus. I am going to make an interesting call here. Sheamus will win the match, but not the title. Sheamus is in the midst of a big push, and while I see him earning the WrestleMania win, it will be by countout or disqualification, and the title does not change hands that way.
WWE Championship Match
CM Punk (champion) vs. Chris Jericho
I am conflicted about who will win this one. Of course, the match will be spectacular and the outcome will be awesome. The build-up was disappointing, but easily forgettable and will not negatively impact the match. We have two of the greatest wrestling personalities in history, yet instead of making this a competitive bout to answer who is “the best in the world,” instead we get a personal attack by Jericho. He bashes the straight-edge lifestyle of Punk and proceeds to reveal dark secrets and embarrassments of his family. Did we really need that for this match?
No, we did not. It is easy to explain why, in five easy words: Chris Jericho versus CM Punk. Chants of Y2J echo wherever he goes. Punk has been hailed as one of the greatest in-ring performers, and that was before he even came to WWE. This is a match about ability and competitive edge. These two will tell, what might be one of the greatest stories in their match at WrestleMania. It will be so good, we will want to see it again. Set your TiVo, your DVR, or your VCR. This will be a match featuring two of the best wrestlers in the world.
Prediction: CM Punk. Obviously, the fans win this one. I just cannot wait for this one to happen. Jericho vs. Punk, a decade ago I would never have thought these two would go one-on-one at WrestleMania. It will be an amazing match, and I see C.M. Punk retaining the title.
Hell in the Cell – The Era Comes to an End
The Undertaker vs. Triple H
Special Guest referee: Shawn Michaels
Are you sweating yet? Do you feel the goosebumps? The anticipation? If not, oh yes you will. This is it. If you want to see the last match of The Undertaker, mark my words, this is it. After a long and storied career, this is the match to end an era. That is the billing for the match. Triple H and Undertaker, two men whose careers spanned multiple eras, multiple decades for that matter. The Undertaker is 19-and-0 at WrestleMania. He is the bearer of “The Streak.” He defeated Shawn Michaels at WrestleManias 25 and 26, and defeated Triple H last year. The storyline goes, it was not The Game who wanted the rematch, but The Deadman himself. If you recall, the match reached an apex of hellaciousness (Is this even a word!? Where is Jim Ross when I need him?), it was Helmsley who walked away from the ring, while The Man from the Darkside had to be helped out.
Enter Shawn Michaels. He is going to be the guest ref. This is the part that makes me, and I have no doubt everyone in the WWE Universe very nervous. Will HBK take a side? Will someone get screwed? Will this end cleanly or will Mr. WrestleMania be the show-stealing show-stopper he rightfully calls himself and affect the outcome? One thing is for sure, fans will not be happy if The Streak ends with controversy.
If this is not enough. I add four ever-important words: Hell in the Cell. Do I need to say more?
Here is a short breakdown of the two epic careers of The Undertaker and Triple H:
• Made his in-ring debut at Survivor Series, November 22, 1990.
• Won his first WWF Championship, defeating Hulk Hogan at the 1991 Survivor Series
• Appeared on the first Monday Night Raw on January 11, 1993
• 4-Time WWF/WWE Champion
• 3-Time World Heavyweight Champion
• 7-Time Tag Team Champion (WWF, WWE, WCW)
• First man to win the Royal Rumble as entrant #30
• Led the Ministry of Darkness and the Corporate Ministry
• Currently the longest active superstar on the WWE roster
• Second-most wins in Hell in the Cell matches
Triple H – Hunter Hearst Helmsley
• Made his in-ring debut on April 30, 1995
• Started DX with Michaels, Rick Rude, & Chyna in 1997
• Part of the McMahon-Helmsley Era (the storyline marriage between HHH and Stephanie McMahon)
• The first WWE “World Heavyweight Champion”
• Leader of Evolution (included Batista, Randy Orton, and Ric Flair)
• Current Chief Operating Officer of WWE in storyline and WWE Executive in reality
• 8-Time WWF/WWE Champion
• 5-Time World Heavyweight Champion
• 5-Time Intercontinental Champion
• 3-Time Tag Team Champion
• 1997 King of the Ring
• Most wins in Hell in the Cell matches
There is no question the match between The Undertaker and Triple H will be incredible. There are those who say they are too old to be doing this, and maybe those people are right. If you look at past WrestleMania matches, The Undertaker and Triple H have, without question, rose to the occasion and have each had their share of history-making matches. April 1st, I truly believe than it will be The End of an Era.
Prediction: The Undertaker. I am actually scared about picking the winner. Scared because I feel like this could be the end of the Undertaker and his undefeated winning streak. Triple H? Is he the guy to do it? Will Shawn Michaels cost the Deadman his reign? Wow. So many factors. I want the undefeated streak to continue, but then again, maybe it is time to end it. Do I want to remember The Undertaker losing his final match, or would I rather remember him with The Streak intact?
“Never Before, Never Again”
John Cena vs. The Rock
Having made appearances here and there, The Rock returned in grand fashion by hosting WrestleMania 27. In the final match of that event, John Cena challenged The Miz for the WWE Championship. The match originally ended in a double-countout, but The Rock came down to restart the match as WrestleMania would not end on such a lame note. As the action resumed, The Rock snuck up from behind and crushed Cena with the Rock Bottom, allowing The Miz to retain the title. The next night on Raw, Cena confronted The Rock, and announced they would go head-to-head at WrestleMania 28.
Now, here we are.
John Cena, one of the most talked about superstars to date. People love him. People hate him. Fans cannot make up their minds. In nearly every arena, the chants of “Let’s go Cena!” compete with “Cena Sucks!” roaring throughout arenas. Cena quickly rose to main event status because of his combination of mic skills and in-ring ability. He has the look of a star, yet, in the past few years, fans, particularly older in age and in duration of following wrestling, have become sick and tired of his dull matches and repetitive in-ring promos. Younger fans see him as an icon, older fans see Cena as an annoyance and the definition of WWE creative shoving his presence down the throats of the WWE Universe and the wrestling industry as a whole.
Say what you want about Cena, but this heated issue only furthers his popularity and the debates will only continue and escalate, making Cena more popular than ever. Who do we have to thank? No, not WWE shoving him in front of the camera, it is you, the fans, the loyal watchers of wrestling who constantly yell and moan about how much Cena is nothing more than the WWE main event puppet.
The again, if you go back to the late-nineties, the very same thing happened with The Rock. He was the uber-face, and then the fans got tired of it. Chants of “Die Rocky Die” would ring around arenas all over, until an injury kept him out for months. Upon his return, he shocked the world by attacking his former friend, and thus made the full-fledge change to hated heel.
Could this happen on Sunday? Could John Cena be the one to finally embrace the hate? Who will rise and who will fall? Will we get The Rock we know and love, or a Rock who is just a shadow of what made him famous? Will he actually wrestle, or fall victim to the dreaded Five Moves of Doom which plagues John Cena?
Prediction: The Rock. This clinches it. This is the hardest-to-predict WrestleMania ever. The man of yesteryear or the man of the present (and future)? The fan in me wants to see The Rock triumph, but my gut tells me that John Cena will… you know what, the FAN in me says THE ROCK will whoop Cena from pillar-to-post and drop the Almighty People’s Elbow, and beat the Fruity Pebbles mascot once and for all!
Well let me tell you something Mean Gene, this Sunday, it’s WrestleMania, the Great Granddaddy of Them All, there is only one way to find out! It’s live this Sunday, April 1st only on Pay-Per-View!!