WWE WrestleMania 28 PreviewPosted on April 1, 2012 by Chris Blackwood WWEShare On: Tweet It’s the biggest night of WWE’s year, the “Grandest Stage of Them All”, the “Showcase of the Immortals” (do they even use that one anymore?). That’s right folks…IT’S WRESTLEMANIA TIME!! The one night of the year when this wrestling malarkey is supposed to be at it’s most magical, the night where memorable moments will forever be etched into the annals of WWE lore, the night where every man leaves it all in the ring in the hope of achieving that one defining “WrestleMania Moment”. So join me, dsrchris, as I endeavour to get you all suitably hyped for the big night… So before we start, I’ll let you in on a little background information. I nearly didn’t get to watch WrestleMania this year. My girlfriend’s birthday is on March 31st, which means that every year her birthday celebrations have a tendency to fall over WrestleMania weekend. I’ve spoken to her about moving her birthday but she just won’t have it, and Vince hasn’t answered my calls regarding shifting the date of Mania, which is plain rude. This year she put her foot down and told me in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t disappearing off over her birthday weekend to watch grown men in tiny pants slap each other around. I’d like to pretend I was all “b*tch, you don’t tell me what to do” and snapping my fingers like a hoochie mama, but that would be a complete lie. A more accurate description would be that I proceeded to throw an Incredible Sulk until she relented. But relent she did, so while you’re all sitting down to watch the show please spare a thought for my girlfriend, who has not only become a wrestling widow, she’s also had to put up with me gallivanting off during her birthday weekend to get my wrestling fix. Happy Birthday love! Gosh I hope this show is worth it now… All that aside, it’s WRESTLEMANIA, baby!! And this year’s card is looking pretty damned cool. We’ve got what could be the final curtain for the Attitude Era, we’ve got two of the biggest names ever in the business squaring off, and we’re finally going to find out who is indeed “The Best in World” (here’s a clue…it’s CM Punk). We’ve also got Divas goodness, an Intercontinental Title match (I know, right?), oh yeah, and the small matter of who will run Raw and Smackdown will be decided. So sit down, strap in, set phasers to fun, and let the hype begin! Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix & Eve Would it be WrestleMania without some random woman from American TV getting into grief with the Divas? Last year we had Snooki, who (rather surprisingly) wasn’t all that bad (although I do still hate her face). This year we have Maria Menu…Mino…Meeny…Men…that chick from Extra. But what makes this year a bit different is that we know that Ms Menounos (see, I know what her name is really, I was just playing with y’all) isn’t half bad inside a wrestling ring. We’ve already seen her compete on Raw, and at Tribute to the Troops, and (as far as celebrity involvement goes) she’s actually pretty good. Add to that the fact that she’s planning on competing after cracking a couple of ribs, and I think I’ve found my new favourite celebrity wrestler (sorry Dustin Diamond). Wait a second…where’s Nattie? First she gets lumbered with a horrific flatulence gimmick, then she gets bumped from being a Diva of Doom in favour of lantern jawed Eve Torres? Well goddamn WWE, way to crap on my favourite Diva. I can understand them wanting to push Eve as a new “uber bitch”, but just because I understand it doesn’t mean I have to like it. I guess that’s the underlying story to this match. Kelly and Eve used to be BFFs, and now Eve’s being a bitch. So much so that she flew across ‘Merica just to crash an interview Kelly was conducting for TV. I guess it’s worked in as much as it’s made me want to see Eve get her ass handed to her, but I’d have much rather have seen Beth and Nattie teaming up. Or maybe Nattie could accompany them to ring…in one of THOSE dresses. You know the ones I mean. And if you don’t, you should. I know most of you are probably gonna see this as an opportunity to take a whiz and grab a drink (I myself will be using the inevitable long ass Cena/Rock hype video for this reason), but I actually want to see how this pans out. I want to see how Maria Menarmenar (doo doo de doo doo, muppets references FTW) fairs competing at Mania with cracked ribs. Let’s bust out some predictions on this bad boy, shall we? As a special prediction, I wager that at least once someone on commentary says the words “Menounos Mania”. Yeesh. Who I want to win: Kelly & Maria. And then Kharma appears afterwards and destroys Eve just for the hell of it. Who I think will win: Kelly & Maria. The celebrity doesn’t lose at WrestleMania, are you mad? Randy Orton vs. Kane Ladies and Gentlemen a wrestling match built around a handshake. I love it when WWE references back to something that happened more than 3 months ago (because we know they think we’ve all got the memory span of a particularly forgetful goldfish), so I was kinda chuffed to see them playing this whole feud off the back of a match from last summer. This still smacks a little of having nothing for either of these guys to do other than throwing them together though. Not that I’m complaining. I could watch Orton RKO bitches all the live long day, and Kane’s been pretty entertaining since he put the mask back on. I just can’t shake the feeling that this has all been cobbled together just to give them both something to do on the show? Apparently rumours would have you believe that Randy himself specifically asked to work with Masked Kane, so I’d like to think they’ve got something a bit special planned for this match. What I’d really like to see is a knock down drag out brawl between these two, just a continuation of the last couple of weeks of these two guys whipping the piss out of each other. It’s what Kane is built for, and Orton is all kinds of awesome when he gets to be super aggressive during his matches. Remember him just destroying Otunga on the Smackdown Christmas show? More like that please. And another one of Randy’s jumping splits and celebratory dances wouldn’t go amiss either! 😛 So who’s gonna win? The Apex Predator or the Big Red Monster? Let’s take a stab at it… Who I want to win: Orton. All day, everyday. Who I think will win: Orton again. Kane wants to rid himself of the memory of being a nice guy at one point in his life, but losing to Randy just means that it’ll continue to eat him up inside and make him even more dangerous and demented than he already is. Winner becomes GM for Raw and Smackdown Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny I see all you folks out there wanting Team Johnny to win, and I’m ashamed of you. Are you telling me you’re seriously willing to forsake ever hearing Teddy Long say “now hol’ on a minute playa” and doing his little shuffle dance just so John Laurinaitis can be GM for both shows? You people sicken me. Okay, so on paper the teams look…a little one-sided. Okay, okay, A LOT one-sided, but that just adds to the excitement. Can Teddy’s rag-tag team overcome the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against them by Team Johnny? It certainly wouldn’t look like it, but then nobody thought Santino could ever qualify for the Elimination Chamber, let alone make it down to the final two. This seems like your standard underdog story (and let’s face it, anyone with Khali on their team is instantly at a disadvantage), so you’ve got to believe that the underdog will overcome the odds and pull through. Well I do at least. I know everyone’s harping on about “But if Johnny Ace runs the show it’s gonna be so cool. He’ll be a heel GM and think of the possibilities!”. Yeah. Because we’ve never had a heel GM trying to ruin someone’s life on the show before have we? Pfft. As far as I’m concerned the Heel GM role has been done to death, so why not change things up a bit? I’d really like to see Team Teddy win, then Johnny use his position as Executive VP of Talent Relations (don’t know if he ever mentioned that :P) to start screwing with Teddy and his shows something rotten. Think about it, Johnny has the backstage stroke in his role to make or break contracts, hire and fire talent, and just generally make things as hellish as possible for our new GM. Now to me that would be infinitely more interesting than the same old “I’m a heel GM, I don’t like you as champion, I’m gonna get you!”. I’d much prefer to see the GM battling not only against half his own roster, but the Upper Management Corporate Yes Man who’s out to get him. We’ve all been there, right? The suck up at work who does everything in their power to get you into trouble for stuff you haven’t even done. How much do you hate that person? Well that’s the person Johnny Ace should be. But enough about my hopes for what they do with the story, how about the actual match itself? Well you’ve gotta believe that Dolph and Kofi are gonna be going all out in an attempt to steal the show, and I think they can do it. Zack needs to desperately re-establish some of the momentum WWE insisted on cutting out from beneath him, and a good reception in his first Mania match should go a long way to fixing some of that. It’s awesome to finally see Drew getting something to do after being jobbed into oblivion for so damn long, and this is Miz’s chance to really answer back to his naysayers and come out with a great performance. Plus we get Booker T in the ring again (are they really THAT short on faces? Turns out they are, can you think of anyone else who should be on the team?), and I always enjoy laughing at just how much Jack Swagger is morphing into Gary Busey. Plus, Mark Henry eating bitches alive!! It’s right what he said on Smackdown last week. It could be you. You could be next. Imagine walking out of your front door one day and BAMN! Mark Henry. It could happen… Khali is…well…Khali. We’ll leave it at that. The real man of the moment here though is Santino. If this is an elimination style match (which I’m assuming it will be) then Santino is my pick for the last man standing on Teddy’s team. I’ve got dreams of a proper Survivor Series style comeback, where Santino ends up left as the last man in a 4 on 1 seemingly hopeless situation, and somehow manages to pull it back for his team. If that happens, expect the crowd to be behind the little guy every step of the way. It just goes to show, regardless of how you are booked a real entertainer shines through. Let’s see if we can’t figure out who’s going to win this thing then… Who I want to win: Team Teddy. Specifically Santino. Kofi can have his high spot, and do some tag work with Truth. Booker will be good for a nostalgia pop, Zack should get the crowd going, Khali can chuck out a couple of chops of doom before he gets eliminated, but Santino is gonna be the star of this match. Mark my words. Who I think will win: Oooh, tough one. Like I said earlier, I’d like to think Teddy’s team, purely because the heel GM gimmick has been done to death, and we do without a rehash of old storylines. But the prospect of Punk putting the badmouth on Johnny again does actually make me a little excited. Screw it, I vote Team Teddy. I just think it’d make for a much more interesting set of storylines off the back of this match. Intercontinental Championship Match Cody Rhodes © vs. Big Show “WAAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOO!! You’re only smoke and mirrors!” I LOVE Cody Rhodes’ entrance theme. Hell, who am I kidding, I’m just high on Cody Rhodes in general right now. Everything they’ve done with him since giving him his lovely, lovely white IC Title Belt (which I am insanely in love with) has been pretty much perfect. This time last year would you have believed for a second that Cody could conceivably take down the Big Show? Would he even register as a legitimate threat? Well what a difference a year makes, because right now Cody Rhodes looks like he could take down anybody on the roster. Whether it was his performance in the Elimination Chamber, or him taking down Khali like a boss on Smackdown, Cody just has something about him right now that screams “superstar”. On top of all that, I’m really impressed with how they’ve built this match between him and Show. I love the idea that on 365 nights of the year (leap year :D) Big Show is this unbeatable giant, but when WrestleMania rolls around he turns into this bumbling choke artist. The evidence is certainly there to prove this, and Rhodes has taken great delight in showing us all exactly how bad Show’s WrestleMania run has been. I could have done without seeing Show’s ass in his sumo nappy ever again, but what the heck, it all adds to the story. In my humble opinion this is going to be the making of Cody Rhodes. A clean win over Show at Mania with his IC strap on the line is just what is needed to elevate Cody to the next level, and drive him on towards a meeting with whoever wins out of Bryan and Sheamus. The bragging rights for Rhodes off the back of a win here are gonna give him a lot of mileage, and I’m seriously starting to think that Cody “doing a warrior” isn’t as unrealistic as we all originally assumed? Who I want to win: Cody Rhodes. He’s worked his ass off this year, so he deserves it. Who I think will win: This is going to be the start of Cody’s climb to the top of the pile, I have no doubt about it. If it’s not then WWE are dropping the ball in a BIG way. Hell In A Cell (Special Guest Referee Shawn Michaels) Undertaker vs. HHH Not content with single handedly keeping Motorhead in business, it looks like Trippers has shifted his attention to making sure the folks in Metallica don’t suffer too greatly after that horrific Lulu record. “The Memory Remains” isn’t a patch on “For Whom the Bell Tolls” or even Johnny Cash’s “Ain’t No Grave”, but meh, I’ll go with it. So here we are, the end of an era, two giants of the business clashing in one final titanic struggle, with the much coveted streak on the line. Or so they would have you believe. I say that because it seems to me that these guys just happen to be the last two of the “old guard” still standing. It’s nowhere near the biggest match possible from the guys active in the Attitude Era, it just happens that they’re the only guys left. Rock went to make movies, so did Austin. Foley wants to be a stand up comic, HBK kills animals with elaborate weaponry, all the big stars have moved onto something else for themselves, leaving Taker and HHH behind. Which I reckon eats Triple H up inside. He tried the movie thing and it didn’t work, he tried to be a “mainstream star” and kinda fell on his ass, so all he has left now is being the last remainder of the Attitude Era. Okay, so he’s gonna inherit the company when Vince (finally) pegs it, but he’s never been able to achieve the same kind of success as some of his peers did. Personally I don’t like Taker and Trippers bowling around acting all important. I feel that this whole “we’re so important, we’re the end of an era” thing actually devalues the rest of the roster. I appreciate the importance of this match to some people, but would it kill them both to at least try to put over the up and coming new guys instead of burying them as being nowhere near as great as Taker and Trippers are. Wait…this is the guy who couldn’t see his way to putting Punk over properly last year in the midst of Punkamania, of course he’s not gonna say anything good about the next generation! I mean it’s not as if they’re the future of the company he’s about to take a leading backstage role in…oh…wait, yes they are! I know I’m in the minority here, but I’m really not that bothered about this match. I’d much rather watch the new guys going all out to prove why they’re worth a damn than these two go all overkill on their own self important nonsense. Like I say, it’s not a popular view, but it’s how I feel unfortunately. Don’t get me wrong, Hell in a Cell at Mania should be cool, and I don’t doubt for a second that they’re going to put on a good show. I’m just finding it reeeeeeally difficult to give any kind of a damn. They’ve thrown Shawn Michaels in as the referee, and I still can’t get any kind of emotional investment in this match. I guess the one thing I can take from this match is that at least once this is over, then apparently so is the whole connection to the Attitude Era. Here’s to WWE finally being able to stop looking back, and start looking forwards to a brave, bold new future! Who I want to win: Taker. There’s no reason to taint the streak now. 20-0 and retirement with a nice spot in the HOF next year will be lovely, thanks. Who I think will win: Undertaker. Surely even an ego the size of Trippers couldn’t win out in this one? World Heavyweight Championship Match Daniel Bryan © vs. Sheamus Come on, shout along with me, you know you want to… YES!! YES!! YES!! WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION!! YES!! YES!! YES!! Oh D Bryan, what a year you’ve had. Bumped from the card last year, and look at where you are now. You beautiful b*stard. Remember when we were all super worried that they were just jobbing Bryan out to buggery? And we all thought that by now we’d be super hyped for a face D Bryan taking on Mark Henry at Mania? Well yeah, we were wrong. So very, very wrong, but I’ve never been more glad to be mistaken in my life. The last few months of Bryan have been a revelation. The guy got handed the ball, and he’s just ran and ran with it, I can’t find a single fault in how he’s conducted himself. D Bry been a great champion, and he’s managed to get himself some real heat, which is why (as much is pains me to say this, fella) I don’t want Sheamus to win… Now I know I was down as all hell on Del Rio winning the Rumble last year only to lose at Mania, but this year is different. Whereas last year it was obvious they needed to pull the trigger on Del Rio and it actually damaged him to lose to Edge, I think a loss would actually impact Bryan a helluva lot more than Sheamus this year. Right now he needs to be champion, and he needs to continue doing what he’s doing. Now this isn’t me hating on Sheamus (hell, after the Rumble I even dubbed this year’s event “FellaMania”), but a loss against Bryan at Mania wouldn’t be the end of the world, and to be brutally honest I still don’t think Sheamus is quite ready to be the head honcho on Smackdown just yet. He’s well on his way to getting there, he just hasn’t arrived at his destination. If they could continue to run a feud between Sheamus and Bryan until SummerSlam, I reckon then would be a perfect time for him to end his chase. So far there hasn’t really been a “feud” between them as such, but if he loses at Mania then Sheamus actually has some real motivation to take the title from Danny boy. I mean who honestly thinks that the plan was for Sheamus to win the Rumble all along? It’s so obvious it was supposed to be Jericho, but we all know how much Vince hates the internet, so he decided to troll us all with Sheamus winning (and then probably tweeted about it afterwards…dunno if you noticed, Vince likes Twitter). So it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Sheamus didn’t actually win the title. You can tell it was an short term fix by the way they’ve suddenly had to hype up Sheamus with the quick wins against solid opponents. None of that was seemingly originally planned, it was all just spur of the moment stuff, booked whilst flying by the seat of their pants. I certainly expect this to be a good match, let’s not forget this is the match that got bumped from last year’s Mania, so both men are going to want to go out and show everyone why they were wrong to knock them off the card. But in my mind there is only one person who should be walking out of Miami as champion. Who I want to win: *hits play on “Flight of the Valkyries”* DAN-IEL BRY-AN!! DAN-IEL BRY-AN!! HEA-VYWEIGHT CHAM-PION OF THE WORLD!! Who I think will win: I hope it’s Bryan. The guy’s done so much good work as Champ. He’s really upped his character, his promos have come on leaps and bounds, with the AJ angle he’s managed to get himself some real heat. It just makes sense. Let the guy carry on being great at what he does. WWE Championship Match CM Punk © vs. Chris Jericho Panic over folks. The beard is back!! (Okay, it took all of two days to reappear after Elimination Chamber, but it was a big deal to me!) Here we go. My personal pick for match of the night. The Best in the World vs. The Best in the World at what he does (which from where I’m sitting appears to be walking to the ring in an effeminate fashion). I’m so stoked for this one. Especially after Punk tore Christian a new one this past Monday. I love me a fired up Punk, so I can’t wait to see this all explode tonight. Actually, after mentioning earlier that I like it when WWE reference something that happened a while back, then I have to give them consistency props on Jericho bringing up Punk’s alcoholic dad. For those of you not in the know, there was an angle back in ROH where Punk confronted Raven for basically being a mess. Punk hated Raven for “p*ssing away everything you’ve ever been given”, before going off about how his Dad was just as bad for submitting to the evils of alcohol abuse. That was a good 7 or 8 years ago (if my memory serves me correctly…which it seldom does), so for it to be referenced on WWE TV in 2012 is pretty big deal in my eyes. I like consistency and self-referential stuff, it just helps add to the realism. I also thought it was nice little way to wrap it up by having Punk talk about his dad beating his demons, and that Punk was now actually proud of his father. Awww. So yeah, this feud started off a little slow (although Punk’s initial thing of trolling Jericho by not responding to him was pretty damned cool), but now this one’s got REAL personal REAL fast. I mean sure, saying that Alcoholism is genetic is a bit silly, but still it puts Jericho over as the douchebag he’s meant to be, so I’m all for it. And Jericho has played his douchebag role superbly. He’s so smarmy and condescending you can’t help but want to see him have his ass handed to him on a silver platter, and Punk is just the man to do it. Removing emotional attachment and bias from the equation though (which is difficult for me where Punk is concerned), this should really be the making of CM Punk. This should be the win that cements him as champion (although surviving the chamber as champ has gone a long way to doing that too), and finally makes him a big deal in the company. What excites the most about this match is that Jericho and Punk are two wrestling brains. Both guys know exactly how to work a crowd and drag them into a match emotionally, they both know all the tricks of the trade, while being skilled enough to proficiently perform their match. I don’t know if I’m putting too much pressure on this one, but I thinking this could potentially be a contender for match of the year. Let’s make some predictions (as if you even needed to ask who I think is going to win. Who I want to win: Same answer as always where this dude is involved…CM PUNK!! CM PUNK!! CM PUNK!! Who I think will win: Punk. Straight up. It’s gonna be a great match, but Punk stands to gain more from a win over Jericho than Jericho would from another title reign. In my ideal fantasy situation this would be the victory that cements Punk as champ for at least another 6 months, and finally….fiiiiiinally they may consider getting rid of the ugly ass spinner belt that doesn’t spin. Fingers crossed, eh? John Cena vs. The Rock You know what makes me laugh about this match? The sudden swing in a hell of a lot of people from Cena hating to “Cena’s not that bad actually”. As a mod on the TalkWrestlingOnline forums, I’ve seen more than my fair share of Cena hate thrown around, but it’s really surprised me the amount of folks who’ve come out as wanting Cena to win this match. It’s almost as if as soon as WWE caught on and made the “Cena Sucks” shirt, most fans decided “well, hating Cena isn’t cool anymore, so I may as well lay off the guy a bit”. So here we go. Two of the most well known names to set foot in a wrestling ring square off in the Rock’s back yard. Well not literally his back yard (great, now all I can think about is backyard wrestling…yeugh), but more his hometown. Well home city. You get what I mean. Shut up. Where was I? Oh yeah, so Rock and Cena face off after a year long build. Firstly, how fast has that year gone by? And secondly, bloody hell, WWE booked something a year in advance, laid it all out nice and logically, and actually stuck with something. So they CAN do it, they just spent the last how many years choosing not to. I’m genuinely hoping this pays off for them, because if this build works to draw in the fans, then we can expect more long term booking to begin to seep through, which I’m all for. I guess the question has to be asked if two full time roster members would be able to keep a year long feud going with them appearing on TV every week? I don’t know, but I’d sure like to find out. Something tells me that folks may get bored, which is probably where WWE’s tendency to rush through angles originally comes from (Punk vs. HHH, anyone?). Speaking of bored (segue, bitches!) has anyone else found the Rock to be a little…dare I say it…boring since his return? It just doesn’t feel like The Rock to me. It’s Dwayne Johnson trying to remember how The Rock should act, and it just isn’t the same. Someone over on the forums made a great point when pointing out that The Rock has been way too many “I” and “my” comments, when we’re all used to him electrifying us in the third person. It shouldn’t be “I’m gonna beat you Cena”, it should be “The Rock is going to layeth the smack down on your roodie poo candy ass”. And geez he needs to lay off the Twitter stuff. If I hear the phrase “Trending Worldwide” once more I’m gonna scream. So screaming will probably commence within 3 seconds of the Mania broadcast actually starting. I’m fed up of “Boots 2 Asses” and inspiring tweets to Team Bring It. That’s not The Rock, that’s Dwayne Johnson “expanding his fanbase” and other such corporate mumbo jumbo. Although I suppose it’s to be expected from the Corporate Champion! It actually kind of solidifies Cena’s argument that the Rock just ups and leaves and doesn’t actually care about the WWE audience. The funny thing is I genuinely have no idea how this match is going to play out. I’d expect it to be a passing of the torch type thing, but Cena doesn’t need the rub from beating Rock, so that’s not necessarily how it has to go down. Obviously there’s the distant possibility that we could see Cena’s own attitude get adjusted (see what I did there), whether that is through the much sought after Cena heel turn, or whether that just means that Cena is going to take himself a bit more seriously and stop being the happy go lucky goofball, who overcomes the odds with a smile and salute (goddamn I hate the smiling and saluting). Actually it’s only been during this feud that I remembered just how much I missed old school Cena, with the raps, the bad attitude, putting Steph over his knee, and the threatening to take a dump on your chest. Great days. I know someone has to be the kid friendly face of the company, but damnit I miss old Cena. He was so good. I blame Jesus for stabbing him in the kidney. Nothing was ever the same after that. Damn Jesus. So yeah, two giants of the business collide, but only one can walk out as a winner. Who’s it gonna be? Let’s try and figure it out. Who I want to win: *sucks air through teeth* Ooooh, that’s a hard one. If The Rock had come back actually as the Rock (instead of just giving us glimpses of how awesome he used to be) then I’d be straight on the Rock bandwagon. The fact remains that the only things that have been remotely anywhere near Rock-like have been his history lessons (throwing all the Cena merch into the river was great TV) and the start of his Rock Concert (the less said about that awful version of “We Will Rock You” the better). As it stands I actually think I’d quite like to see Cena win, but with the provision that he doesn’t smile and salute at the end. If he does that I’m gonna kick the TV. Who I think will win: Damn. I honestly don’t know. This one is genuinely too close to call. If history has taught me anything it’s that more often than not CENA WINZ, but this time I’m not so sure. One second….*flips coin* Well wouldn’t you know it, even my spare change thinks Cena is gonna win. So let’s say Cena, but let’s also say I wouldn’t be horribly disappointed if he lost. So there we have it, that my (admittedly lengthy) preview for RyderMa…I mean #WrestleMania (apparently that’s how it’s supposed to be hashtagged). I know some of you may get the whole TL;DR about this, but if you did read it, or if you just fancy saying something yourself about the big event, there’s a whole comment box just below here waiting for you to fill it to the brim with hot commenty goodness. Have a good night folks, and enjoy Mania. I know I will! See you next time, true believers!