The most anticipated day on the wrestling calendar is just hours away–WrestleMania 27. The return of The Rock has hyped this year’s WrestleMania to new heights. It’s been seven long years since we’ve seen him in a WWE ring. That’s too long. While his return is great, the WM27 card is deeper than just one big-name player. Let’s take a run down the official WrestleMania 27 lineup with some of my previews and predictions for the show.
Pre-Show Battle Royal
I’m not going to do a bit on this because it’s ridiculous.
Winner: Who cares?
United States Championship: Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan
This match could be the opener for the show, although that’s just speculation on my part. I think the key aspect of this match is the time they’re given–or lack thereof. Daniel Bryan is among the top in-ring performers in the company, while Sheamus works very well for a guy his size. I think these two can put on a great match if they’re given the time too. Generally, my rule of thumb is this: win on Raw, lose at PPV. That said, despite Sheamus walking tall on Raw, I think he retains the US Title–he’s been buried like crazy since winning King of the Ring, which makes absolutely no sense in my eyes, but they’ve got to build him back up, and I think now is the time they’ll start.
John Morrison, Trish Stratus & Snooki vs. Dolph Ziggler & Lay-Cool
This match makes me mad. First of all, there’s no way that Morrison, Trish and Snooki lose–bet everything you have–wife, kids, house, any collateral you’ve got. WWE never lets celebrities lose/get buried at ‘Mania, and this year is no different. Her win will get WWE insane amounts of pop-culture coverage across North America. Supposedly, WWE is banking on Snooki helping to draw over the 1-million buys mark with help from social networking sites. Aside from people streaming the show online, it shouldn’t be hard to generate the extra buys. As for the match, I don’t understand why Morrison and/or Ziggler aren’t in singles matches–they’re both incredible in the ring, and their talent is being wasted on a pointless six-person tag. Why not throw Morrison and Ziggler into the Sheamus/Bryan match and make it a Fatal 4-Way or something? That said, at least he’s on the ‘Mania card at all. A match like this screams for Money in the Bank to be brought back to ‘Mania-specific shows. I hope you’re reading this, WWE.
Winner: Morrison, Trish & Snooki
Corre vs. Kane, Big Show, Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov
Has anyone not seen Kane’s trombone celebration after the win on Raw? Hilarious. As for the match, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that Corre loses this match. There’s no reason to have a “legit” stable (I quote ‘legit’ because four people isn’t a ‘stable’) lose to two singles wrestlers slapped together with a comedic tag team. If Corre loses, I’d be extremely shocked. Any way you cut it, I think they’d look bad losing. It doesn’t make sense now either from a booking standpoint, as Barrett is the Intercontinental Champion and Slater & Gabriel are the Tag Champs. Don’t worry, Ezekiel’s just chillin’.
Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes
As with Bryan/Sheamus, this match could also potentially be the opener. Either one would make for a good choice I think. Various internet dirtsheets report that Rey actually chose Rhodes personally for this feud months ago. Supposedly, the two are close friends behind the curtain, and Rey is said to be a firm believer in Cody’s future as a WWE superstar. That said, I think Cody wins the match, with the feud continuing post-WrestleMania. He could potentially continue winning afterwards, but a Rey win at Extreme Rules or something is reasonable. Cody has also improved considerably in such a short time–it wasn’t very long ago when people though that Ted DiBiase was going to be the superior superstar after the Legacy breakup, with Cody being relegated to Superstars shows, but now, the tables have turned quickly. I’m a little upset that he’s dropped the “Dashing” gimmick, since I was singing “Smoke and Mirrors” constantly. A mirror on the back of a vest is also a brilliant concept. Although it’s unrelated to the match, it’ll be interesting to see what unfolds between Rey, Alberto Del Rio and Sin Cara behind the scenes. The recently-signed Sin Cara is advertised to debut on Monday, April 4–one day after WrestleMania–on Raw, where he’s expected to stay. Nonetheless, his style really threatens Rey’s, as Cara is far more capable of feats and flips. Rey was rumoured to be unhappy with the signing, but has since rejected that notion. Time will tell.
Winner: Cody Rhodes
Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole (w/ Jack Swagger): Special Referee “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
Just like with Morrison/Trish/Snooki, this match is a sure-fire win for Lawler. I’m sure Cole’s trainer, Jack Swagger, will interfere at some point, but I’d bet money that he’s on the receiving end of a Stone Cold Stunner by night’s end. I’m not sure the pinfall is going to be clean, but there’s no chance Lawler loses. I’d expect a big beer bath after the match with Austin and Lawler at least. I’m not really a fan of all the personal attacks made on Lawler, especially with his mom having recently passed away, but I’m sure he gave the OK for them to go ahead with the angle. Just seems like a bit much. Anyways, the more interesting question will be Cole’s role post-WrestleMania. He’s still probably going to be a heel, but does he turn the volume down? What happens between him and Lawler afterwards? Internet dirtsheets reported that Cole’s heel persona is rubbing people the wrong way backstage, so this will be something to monitor in the coming weeks.
Winner: Jerry Lawler
Randy Orton vs. CM Punk
This feud has had such a great build to it. Since the Royal Rumble when Punk (seemingly) randomly attacked Orton, this program has been nothing but good stuff week after week. The flashback to Orton punting Punk back in 2008 and costing him the World Heavyweight Champion is absolutely brilliant–being able to book like this and force fans to recollect past feuds, attacks, etc. is great booking. It’s a shame that WWE doesn’t do this consistently (see: HHH/Taker. More on that later.) Hell, I’m surprised the WWE Creative team even remembered that. Overall, the motive behind it was great, and that’s what makes this feud so good. Getting back to the present time, Orton has punted each member of Nexus (back to FCW, it appears), leaving Punk with none of his Nexus members in his corner come Sunday. It looked like Punk’s back was against the wall, until two weeks ago when Punk hit Orton in the knee with a wrench in the parking lot, then scoring a GTS in the middle of the ring last week–suddenly, the advantage and all the momentum are back with Punk. Great stuff. And for the first time, Orton is going to be playing the sympathetic babyface as he sells his knee injury–we’ve never seen Orton trying to overcome adversity and leap obstacles to win and get over with the crowd. Let’s see how it goes. Hopefully this feud continues, and hopefully they put a major title on one of these guys sooner than later.
Winner: Randy Orton
World Heavyweight Title: Edge w/ Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio w/ Brodus Clay
Like with Morrison/Ziggler again, this match screams for Christian to be in a Money in the Bank match, or at least in a match of some kind. They’re just letting him go to waste–again. Anyways, a lot of people are thinking Christian turns heel on Edge on Sunday. I think he might eventually, but it’s too soon now, as they’ve just been re-united recently. If anything, I think Clay tries to interfere with Christian trying to stop him, and he accidentally hits Edge or gets bumped by Edge off the apron, causing Edge to lose his focus and ADR to gain the upper hand. Does ADR win by pinfall or Cross Armbreaker? I think the latter, but it won’t be a clean finish I don’t think. I’ve heard rumours that it’ll be a three-way between ADR, Edge and Christian at Extreme Rules, and if anything, maybe then Christian will turn heel, but I still have my doubts. In all honesty, whatever gets him a push. Bottom line, ADR won the Rumble because he’s going to win at ‘Mania. He’s set to become the next big WWE superstar.
The Pick: Alberto Del Rio
The Undertaker vs. Triple H (No Holds Barred Match)
Did anyone miss that promo on Raw between Taker, HHH and HBK? If so, go watch it. Now. Just seeing the video package alone makes me want to buy this PPV, let alone the promo. Anyways, I don’t see Undertaker losing, especially to HHH. I am curious to see how HBK is involved, though–it’s a No Holds Barred match, so the possibilities are endless. Aside from both guys being rusty, I’ve got no idea what’s going to happen. Maybe HBK Sweet Chin’s Taker? Maybe he kicks HHH by accident. He could hit both, too–maybe he hits Taker and tries to get HHH to cover, who refuses, then kicks HHH. Does he do nothing? Does he kick HHH post-match? I’m sure whatever WWE chooses will be good. Just with Taker/HBK I & II, the last 10 or so minutes will just be each guy kicking out of the other guys’ finishers. I love how Undertaker hasn’t fought in like 10 months, HHH in about six months, HBK is retired, yet this is the most exciting thing. Also wanna know what’s great? This feud has been built solely on video packages–not a single punch has been thrown. How often do you see that? Not very. And the commentators at ringside have also stayed quiet about it too, both about the videos and during the promos. Sometimes, less is more, and words are enough to sell you angle. Bottom line, Taker improves to 19-0. Does he reach 20? 19-1? Can he make it to WrestleMania 30?
Winner: The Undertaker
WWE Champion The Miz vs. John Cena
I’d say this goes on last, following HHH/Taker. I’d also guarantee that a confrontation/showdown between John Cena and The Rock closes the show. When the feud began taking form, I thought Cena would win, then have Rock raise his arm as two generations blend in the ring, and Rock “passes the torch” to the next face of the WWE. But after this week’s Raw, I’m not sold on that now. I still think Cena wins, but like with HBK, Rock’s involvement remains totally up in the air. I’d like to see Rock and Cena duke it out, but I don’t think that happens. It also depends on Rock’s involvement post-WrestleMania, as it will determine what happens Sunday. If Rock sticks around, logically, the feud will continue, meaning Rock could walk tall as ‘Mania fades to black. Could Cena vs. Rock be coming up later in 2011? Will the two ever have a match? Who knows. My only complaint with this whole thing is that Rock’s return–likely temporary–is far and away the biggest thing on the card, which doesn’t do well for WWE’s up-and-coming talent. That said, the best option for WWE’s financial success at this precise moment in time is to have Rock hit Cena with a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow to end the show. We’ll see.
Winner: John Cena
Overall, I think this card has the makings for another solid show. I really miss Money in the Bank matches, and I really think they should be just for WrestleMania, but nonetheless, the card has enough to draw me into a buy. I think a Rock-over-Cena finish could propel this WrestleMania from ‘good’ to ‘great.’ It’s also weird seeing Taker not fighting HBK (I kid!). It also kinda sucks that the potential Cena/Rock confrontation will be just under 4 hours into the show. While WWE does have Rock as their selling point this year, there are still the same questions ‘hardcore’ WWE fans ask themselves after just about every PPV: there’s no Intercontinental Championship match, no Tag Team Championships match, and no Divas Championship match. Why have these belts if they’re not going to be defended on the Superbowl of wrestling events? Bottom line, the big matches all have great builds and should all live up to the hype, but the WWE midcard is once again lacking. Overall, though, I’m excited. It’s like a piece of the Attitude Era has been revived.