The following piece was contributed by avid wrestling fan and analyst JR. Follow him on Twitter at @StarNinja99.
The more I look at this year's Wrestlemania card, the more I truly believe that this may indeed be the best card in the history of the event. The pure caliber of potential Four and Five Star Matches is mind boggling. If there is such a thing as an over-star powered card, this is it. I believe this is going to be the night you'll tell your grandkids about someday, and the night that will leave all Wrestlemania cards in the future looking weak.
But, that's not what you've come here to see, is it? You want predictions! Predictions run rampant this year, and this is a very tough card to call. Still I'll throw my best efforts into it, and possibly feel like a moron on April 2nd. So, lets get to it, ladies and gentleman!
Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy
Team Laurinaitis vs. Team Long
The more I look at this lineup, the more it seems apparent Johnny Ace's boring, yet effective, character has it in the bag. But, let us analyze these teams in more detail before fully judging the outcome.
On team Johnny you've got Captain David Otunga, a two time tag team champion, Mark Henry, a fifteen year veteran and one time World heavyweight Champion, Jack Swagger, (sadly) a former World heavyweight Champion, and the man who dropped the US Title to Santino Marella a few weeks ago, The Show Off Dolph Ziggler, a former Intercontinental and United States Champion (And World Heavyweight Champion, if you count being awarded a title), Drew McIntyre, the former "Chosen One" of Vinny Mac, and a man who has been on a massive losing streak as of late, and The Miz, a former United States and WWE Champion. On top of that, you've got the "flag bearer" Vickie Guerraro, and Johnny himself at ringside. Add on that the high possibility of Michael Cole getting involved with his chosen winner.
Now lets take a look at team Teddy Long. You've got Captain Santino Marella, The United States Champion, R-Truth, a formerly hot commodity that has centered around tag team wrestling since Elimination chamber with the next member of Team Teddy, Kofi Kingston, Zack Ryder, a former tag team and United States champion fresh off a broken back (kayfabe) at the hands of Kane, The Great Khali, and the former Five time, Five time, Five time, Five Time, FIVE TIME WCW Champion Booker T. At ringside you've got the flag bearer Hornswaggle, Teddy Long, and in all probability, Akshana.
Are you seeing the pattern here? Because I sure am.
Johnny Ace's is built heavy on former World Champions. Teddy's team is built heavy on... underdogs.
I was saddened to see Christian bumped off the card for team Johnny, but it actually serves a sort of purpose. That purpose being adding someone to Team Johnny that isn't a a hot commodity at the moment.
Now, when you think of this fact, you automatically think of the WWE's love of underdogs, and I would never deny that this would be a great break through underdog moment in Wrestlemania history, but, come on here, do you really think John Laurinitus will really just walk off into the sunset (or directly to an elevator down below) after all his build as the man sticking it to the good guys this early? No, its just not that simple. Expect a screwjob here, folks. Johnny Ace will soon be remembered as the man that harassed an entire roster of babyfaces endlessly.
If I had to guess at this outcome, I see Booker T dominating this match for a good portion, only to get cut down by the likes of Mark Henry. Johnny's team will take control from there, taking out most of the team, but will eventually get cut down by Khali. After that... well, there are to many variables to guess at. Its hard to guess on who will pin who, but my assumption will be Miz pinning Santino, just to push]Miz back to whatever level they want him at.
All that left to say? I kind of wish this had been an Elimination tag team match.
Divas Tag Team Match
Maria Menounos & Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres
Yes, in case you didn't realize, this is the crappy match we got instead of Kharma versus Beth Phoenix. Or Trish Stratus versus Beth Phoenix. Or Natalya versus Beth Phoenix. Or, pretty much anything other than this.
Then again, its better than Snooki.
All hate aside, this match is easy to predict. Even with Maria's broken ribs, this is going to be yet another Diva's squash match, with Kelly Kelly and that chick from Extra steamrolling through the fearsome force of Beth Phoenix and Eve.
Man, that was hard to say without sarcasm.
We're in luck, however, as this should be the only match on the entire card that should be anything but up to expectations.
Not that expectations were incredibly high for this particular match. Moving on...
Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show
Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show for the Intercontinental Championship
I for one am happy we got this instead of Show versus Shaq.
The Big Show, as we know, has a terrible history on the grandest stage of them all. The fact that this has been stressed so much should obviously point to the outcome, but lets break it down to understand why this will be the outcome.
Cody Rhodes, who really hit his stride last year at Wrestlemania, has gone on to hold the Intercontinental Championship on August 12tbh, 2011. This means Cody has held the Intercontinental Championship for the greater part of eight months. If you want to dig through the history of the championship, he is the longest running Intercontinental Championship since 1997. This, naturally, means he'll be dropping the belt soon.
The Big Show, on the other hand, is nearing the end of the career. We can pretend all we want he hasn't lost a step, but its apparent in his every move. He's still got it in the ring, but his size and the stress on his body is getting to him, and he won't be on our TV screens for to much longer.
What does all this mean? Well,. The Big Show may only have one Wrestlemania match left in him. With his terrible win-loss record as Wrestlemania, both Cody and Show are going to put on an easy three or four star match, ending with the Big Show gaining the Intercontinental Championship via knockout punch, and finally gaining his rightful spot as a triple crown champion.
Kane vs. Randy Orton
Randy Orton vs. Kane
Bear with me, folks, as my mind changes on this one every couple of minutes.
The build for this has been less than stellar. Well, let me correct myself, and be honest. There was really very little build for this at all. A couple of chokeslams and RKO's, and a quick promo, and this match was set. But honestly, this match writes itself. Unbalanced taking on Demonic. Kane and Randy Orton. This match has a serious chance at being a five star tournament.
Now whats the stickler here, you may ask? Isn't it basically common sense one of the top three, Randy Orton, is going to come out on top? Not exactly.
Kane managed to walk away from his fued with Cena rather unscathed, mostly due to the quality of the match and how he was beaten, but in many ways due to his actions on the Raw after Elimination Chamber, where he chokeslamed everyone and their mother. That made him get momentum back on his side. Can Kane come back from another back to back Pay-Per-View loss?
While I'm sure the man can, it would take a lot of work. Chokeslamming a bunch of mid carders won't do it this time. So do I believe its in the realm of possibility for Kane to win? Absolutely. If I had a safe pick choice? I'd go with Orton.
With such little build, I'll be watching more for performance, not wins. If I was in creative, I'd give Kane the chance to win. But I'm not, so my assumption will be Randy
Orton. Still, expect this to be your surprise of the night. These are two of the best in the business, and the lack of build won't take away from the quality of the match itself.
Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus
I have to eat my own words with this one, obviously. I said for my Elimination Chamber predictions that the WWE would never take a match that they dropped from the card at Wrestlemania 27 and make it a main event at Wrestlemania 28.
Well, I for one am rather happy with the match up. Sheamus never really resonated as a deserving champion back in the days when he was WWE Champion. He needed a lot of work, and he's on the right track to becoming a staple in the company.
Daniel Bryan is one of the best technical wrestlers I have ever seen in my life. He has a natural way about him in the ring, and when he fought against Big Show and Mark Henry for the title, you couldn't see it as well as you could the moment him and CM Punk stepped in the ring with him. There is no doubt about his technical ability. His Mic skills, on the other hand, has somehow gone down hill. I don't know if its him or creative, but I like to hope its the latter.
But the winner of this match was etched in stone the moment Sheamus eliminated Chris Jericho from the Rumble. Why? Its statistics.
Fourty-One Percent of the winners of the Royal Rumble have gone on to win the big one at Wrestlemania. Is it just me, or is that number a lot lower than last year? Sheamus won the Royal Rumble, therefor that percentage is on his back. If he loses, they legacy of that one chance at Wrestlemania the Royal Rumble gives suddenly doesn't matter.
Your going to see the best of both Brawling and technical wrestling in this match. It may surprise you with the quality of this match. But at the end of the night, Daniel Bryan will fall to White Noise (Or the Brogue Kick, or a slim chance of the Celtic Cross), and Sheamus will walk out with the strap around his waist.
Undertaker vs. Triple H
Triple H vs, The Undertaker Hell In A Cell Match with Shawn Michaels as the Special Guest Referee
Is anybody else just pumped to see Shawn Michaels back on the grandest stage of them all?
Sorry, mark out moment.
A lot of people were against this match before 'Takers return. They couldn't see how they could top last years spectacular performance, and that it would be going to the well just one to many times. But look at this build now. Its the one match that both Hardcore and Softcore Wrestling fans agree will be one of the greatest matches in a long time. And Shawn Michaels being the Special Guest referee is just one hell of a bonus.
Or is it? Shawn Michaels holds the end of an era in the palm of his hands, and its not exactly like he is the most trustworthy of Referees. We all know this. The Build for this match has been superb, and no one can agree on who's side HBK will take. It really is a wild card match.
I see it unfolding like this. There will be a good Twenty to Thirty minutes of great action between Triple H and The Phenom, with occasional pauses for big bumps, and for each one to call Shawn out on his shady, but fair calls. The King of Kings will throw everything at the Undertaker, and Undertaker will do likewise. Likely after a kick out of the Tombstone Piledriver or a Pedigree, both men will be down. The Showstopper will get that smirk on his face that we all know and love, and go to the corner, calling for sweet chin music on the Deadman. just as Taker struggles up, however, Shawn will switch it up and nail Triple H right in the chin. Enraged, The Undertaker will forgo the pin and proceed to beat the tar out of Shawn, finishing him with a tombstone. With that, Triple H will likely be up, and take advantage. A new referee will have to come out, and they will try to pry the doors open, but after a beating, The Demon of Death Valley will counter, put Triple H Down for a Tombstone, and Shawn will struggle his way to count to three, thereby screwing Hunter, and allowing the Streak to extend to 20-0, the number every fan has always wanted.
Now, thats a lot of guess work, but I'm essentially saying Shawn will screw his best friend, and 'Taker will extend to Twenty and Zero.... and by my estimation, retire.
Leaving an angry Game to deal with his best friend.
CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk for the WWE Championship
Ah, now this will be the best match of the night, without a doubt in my mind, and you can take that to the bank folks.
I've heard a lot of rumors that this match will go on first, and thougvh I'm a little disappointed, as long as an angry CM Punk comes out and insists the match goes on early, I'm cool with that.
This match is going to be a classic. It'll be this generations Chris Jericho versus Shawn Michaels, or possibly much more correctly, this generationsRicky "The Dragon" Steamboat versus "Macho Man" Randy Savage. These are two of the best all around performers to ever step between those ropes, and they will upstage anything you will see on April 1st.
As for the match, I foresee this being a masterfully high impact, fast patched twenty to thirty minute match. The only time this one will slow down is when someones locked into the Anaconda Vice or the Walls of Jericho, or when both men are down because they've taken to much of a beating. In the end, however, CM Punk is the man that needs to walk out with the win.
This certainly isn't Punk's first Wrestlemania, but its his first time on the Grandest Stage of Them All as one of the (If not the) top draws in the entire company. He needs to show that he can beat any comers, even someone as masterful as Chris Jericho. My guess would be near the end Punk manages to counter a codebreaker into an Anaconda Vise, and force Jericho to tap. My second guess would be Jericho going for the Lionsault, only to be caught inot a Go To Sleep.
After April 1st, Punk will still hold the WWE Championship. And I'm willing to bet this feud will not end there.
John Cena vs. The Rock
John Cena vs. The Rock
This has been the longest build I can ever remember in the history of wrestling. Ot was slow, even painful at times, but in the last four weeks, both men have delivered.
Hype is back up to a firey level, and everyone is ready to see the Brahma Bull lock horns with John Cena it what has truly become the most important match in wrestling history.
That statement has become a cliche rather fast, but this match has been so unbelievably built up on both WWE programming and off that these two have no choice but to put on one absolute Five Star Match for the ages. With Cena's tendency to stick to the five move of doom and the Rocks ring rust, a lot of people worry about the outcome.
Despite what I think of either man, which I will not voice here, one thing is true of both: they are pressure workers. If the pressures on, they will deliver. And I believe this will be the biggest test of either mans careers.
Expect to see shady tactics, multiple failed finishers, Rock Bottoms from Cena, Attitude Adjustments from The Rock, and every possible way of stealing each others moves you can think of. will be a battle of one-upsmanship at its finest. I wouldn't be surprised to see a knocked out referee, and a few chair shots. This is as personal as it gets, my friends, and you will see every ounce of frustration in that ring.
And at the end of the night, much to the anger and dismay of the Florida crowd, John Cena will stand over the limp body of The Most Electrifying Man In All Of Entertainment. And when he gets up, they will do the unthinkable, the unbelievable, and the unacceptable.
The Rock and John Cena will shake hands.
Anything less than that, and this entire build will have been a waist of time.
No matter what you like, who's side your on, if you watch every wrestling program on TV or just watch Raw every couple of months and buy only the big four Pay-Per-Views, this night has the potential to go down as the greatest of all time.
And my belief is that it will.