Friday, March 30, 2012

Wrestlemania 28 Preview

It is that time of year. The event that only happens once a year. While the build may not have been as great as we hoped for, Wrestlemania is always an exciting time for wrestling fans. People can rip on wrestling all they want, but getting 60,000 plus people to watch one event is something not a lot of things can do. Wrestlemania always brings the goods and most of the time after watching it you can say that you watched something where a major event happened or a great match was had. I went to my first Wrestlemania last year, and while it wasn't the best of Wrestlemanias it was still a once in a lifetime experience that I encourage all wrestling fans to do at least once. From Axxess, to the Hall of Fame, to just being in the city where Wrestlemania is happening, it is just a great week all around.

The build for this year's Wrestlemania hasn't been great. I've been really disappointed, especially with the Triple H/Undertaker build. Even Rock/Cena has been slightly disappointing. The WWE should that announcing a match a year in advance, while different, isn't the best thing to do. They didn't build to anything special between these two. Allowing a feud to develop over time heading into Wrestlemania is much better. That is why C.M. Punk/Chris Jericho and Big Show/Cody Rhodes, in my opinion, have been the two best built programs heading into this show. Starting from the end point and building backwards didn't work out for the WWE.

Now, while the build hasn't been great, this still has the potential to be a very good Wrestlemania. HHH/Taker and Jericho/Punk should all be in the four star range. Rock/Cena will be a great spectacle and should still be a good match. Daniel Bryan/Sheamus also should be very good if given time. They've put on good matches before. The wrestling on this show should be very good. On paper this Wrestlemania should be one of the better ones of the last few, and if Money in the Bank was taking place instead of this GM non-sense, I would say it could be one of the better Wrestlemanias of all time.

With all that being said, on to the Preview!

Maria Menounos & Kelly Kelly vs Eve & Beth Phoenix

Instead of building towards an actual program for the Divas Title, the WWE decided that they wanted a celebrity involved in a Divas Match. So there was a bit of a scuffle between these four on the set of Maria Menounos show Extra!, and then she challenged Beth and Eve to a match at Wrestlemania. Except that Menounos has yet to appear on WWE TV and also has two broken ribs, so who knows how this match will happen. It could mean five minutes of Kelly Kelly wrestling. Why couldn't we have an actual match for the Divas Title? I know I don't care for the Divas too much, but I would at least care about a Natalya/Beth Phoenix match more than this. Anyways, celebrities never lose at Wrestlemania, so Kelly and Maria pick up the win. Maria sneaks in a roll up on Eve.

WINNER: Maria Menounos & Kelly Kelly

Team Johnny vs Team Teddy

I figured I would get this out of the way while I could. I've hated this build more than anything else leading up to Wrestlemania. First of all, there are way too many parts to this. We have the Bellas arguing over which team is better, Hornswoggle and Vickie Guerrero as flag bearers, and way too many David Otunga vs Santino matches. And those two guys are the team captains. There's way too many people involved. Also, having one authority figure doesn't really mean much nowadays unless he has absolute power and authority. We still have Triple H as COO and Vince McMahon always lurking. While John Laurinaitis has been entertaining, he doesn't have that strong of a character to pull off being an ultimate authority figure. And I've seen enough of Teddy Long coming out and making impromptu tag team matches. Long has been stale for quite some time now.

Looking at both teams, you would have to say Team Johnny looks much better on paper. Adding Booker and subtracting Christian from Team Johnny makes Team Teddy look a little better. But I still would much rather have Team Johnny. Nobody on Team Teddy should be pinning anybody on Team Johnny, and that includes the ever popular Santino Marella. Plus, having a heel general manager makes more sense storyline wise than having a face GM. I see Team Johnny winning here, with Dolph Ziggler pinning Zack Ryder to get the win. Why Zack Ryder? Because he has been made to look like an idiot in recent weeks, so why not continue to add on to it.

WINNER: Team Johnny

Kane vs Randy Orton

I've been hot and cold on Randy Orton over the last few years, but it seems like Randy Orton has gotten shafted at the last couple Wrestlemanias. Last year he had a secondary feud with C.M. Punk that didn't get too much attention. At Wrestlemania 26, when he was on a hot run and the crowd was behind him, he was stuck in a triple threat match with Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. Then he had a terrible build up to his Wrestlemania 25 match with Triple H. And now he gets stuck with Kane. I think Orton has done rather well for himself in this last year. His matches with Christian were very good, and he had a series of good matches with Wade Barrett. Orton is now in a match that has barely gotten any push aside from the fact that it is two names wrestling fans recognize.

At this point in his career, Kane is just a glorified monster jobber. He looks like a force in the build up to his match, but he never comes out on top. There really is nothing left for Kane at this point in his career. He's done almost all he can as a character. His job now is to put people over. Long term, a win for Randy Orton is more important than a win for Kane. Kane goes for his top rope clothesline but gets caught with an RKO from OUT OF NOWHERE for the win.

WINNER: Randy Orton

Intercontinental Championship: Cody Rhodes (c) vs Big Show

I've really liked the build for this match. Cody has done a good job, and the Big Show hasn't done too bad either. Cody's promo work has been fantastic. Cody continues to grow as a character and his constant ripping on Big Show has been entertaining. The video packages of Big Show's Wrestlemania blunders have been fun to watch. I think it is pretty clear the WWE sees Cody as a future main eventer. I would say he surpassed Dolph Ziggler as far as the future push factor goes. He has been Intercontinental Champion for over 225 days now, and while hasn't defended the Title all that much recently he has still brought some prestige back to the IC Title.

Big Show has not been bad in recent months. I had a problem with him eliminating certain people in the Royal Rumble, but other than that he has been good. Big Show is a good promo and actually makes you think he really cares about what he is doing. The reason Big Show has been a part of so many celebrity happenings at Wrestlemania is because he is a good promo and always willing to put somebody over, whether it be Akebono or Floyd Mayweather. If given interview time before the match, Show could make you believe that he wants to win the Intercontinental Title just as much as he wants to beat Cody Rhodes.

This is also one of those matches, however, that could end in one minute. While Cody is the future, you could tell that it could lead to Big Show hitting the KO Punch on Cody almost right after the bell to pick up the win. While Big Show doesn't need the win or the IC Title, it could allow Cody to move on to a World Title program down the line. Whoever thought Big Show's Wrestlemania moment would be him winning the IC Title? I will say Show wins with the KO Punch in rather short time.

WINNER: Big Show

World Heavyweight Championship: Sheamus vs Daniel Bryan

These two were suppose to fight at last year's Wrestlemania but the match was bumped from the card and turned into a pre-show match. Then the match, which was a lumberjack match, turned into a battle royal. Now these two are officially on the card and fighting for the World Title instead of the United States Championship. If my memory serves me right, this is the first time in Wrestlemania history where two men are fighting for the WWE or World Title and neither was on the official card last year. It just goes to show you how much each one has grown in the last year.

Daniel Bryan was the surprise winner of the Smackdown Money in the Bank contract. I don't know if too may people saw it coming. The WWE had been doing nothing with Bryan for quite some time, and they continued to do the same even after he won the match. Bryan said that he was going to cash in the contract at Wrestlemania, but the signs were there that a cash in could be coming sooner. He tried once on Smackdown but was over-ruled by Teddy Long. But he successfully cashed in at TLC and has done a great job ever since. Bryan is playing his heel role perfectly. He thinks he's better than you because of his lifestyle, similar to what C.M. Punk was as a heel. I like the Bryan/A.J. relationship. I would have to think they've been watching some Randy Savage/Elizabeth tapes since A.J., just like Elizabeth, is being used as a shield by Bryan.

Sheamus has surprised me as a face. I didn't think he could pull off the face turn, but he has surpassed my expectations. Sheamus is a good big man worker who has the agility to move around in the ring with smaller guys like Bryan. He's a good promo and most importantly, the fans get behind him. He's looked strong throughout this face run. Sheamus is also a great ambassador for the WWE. He has a very out going personality outside the ring and is very interactive with fans. Sheamus has all the makings of a future star for the WWE and I expect him to be at the top for a long time.

There's really not much back story here. Sheamus won the Royal Rumble and decided to take on Bryan at Wrestlemania. The two have been exchanging words back and forth, and Bryan picked up a pinfall victory over Sheamus this week on RAW, which is usually the kiss of death for someone heading into a PPV. Bryan has done well as World Champion, but I think it is time for Sheamus to take over the reigns at the top. I almost think Sheamus has to win because the last four Royal Rumble winners have all lost at Wrestlemania. Sheamus wins here with a Brogue Kick in a good 15 minute match.

WINNER: Sheamus

WWE Championship: C.M. Punk (c) vs Chris Jericho

Hands down, this has been the best built match heading into Wrestlemania. No ifs, ands or buts about it. These two know the business, and they knew they had to do something to separate their program and make it unique compared to Rock/Cena and Taker/HHH. So what does Jericho do? He calls out Punk and all the problems his family has. It is as real life as you can get. Punk is straight edge because of his father's history with alcohol. Punk's sister does have substance abuse problems. Jericho is getting to Punk as best as he possibly can. Nothing has ever really fazed C.M. Punk as WWE Champion until Jericho brought up his family. With all that Jericho has done to torment Punk in recent weeks, you actually feel like these two really hate each other and want to really beat the hell out of one another. It feels like a real feud, and that is all you can ask for in the wrestling business.

Both of these men claim to be the "Best in the World." There is no doubt that these two men are two of the better performers in the WWE today. Jericho crafted his in ring work by going to various parts of the country and incorporating everything he's learned into his wrestling career. Jericho's career took off once he got into the WWE, and he became the first ever Undisputed Champion. Jericho's in ring work has not decreased over the years. It is as good as it ever has been. The way he can also change his gimmick is great as well. In his return in 2008 he went from being the over the top rock star to straight faced, no non-sense serious man. Jericho knows what wrestling fans want and he knows how to work a crowd.

C.M. Punk has been the best performer in the WWE since his "shoot" promo in June. Punk has been the face of the WWE. He's become universally liked by pretty much everyone in the WWE universe. He is finally getting the chance to show that when given the ball, he will take it and roll with it. Punk's career started differently than Jericho's. Punk started in the Indies and Ring of Honor before finding his way to the WWE. Punk was never properly used until this past year because he was different. He wasn't the typical, main event yes man. He's anti-authority. Just like Jericho, Punk knows what wrestling fans want to see. He's great on the mic and believable when he uses it. People flock to Punk because he says things that fans would love to say to other people. Punk's four month run as WWE Champ has been entertaining and I hope he continues to stay on top for quite some time.

When it comes to the outcome of this match I am very torn. I already have a handful of faces winning and I normally don't like that, but this is Wrestlemania and the WWE likes to make the fans happy. Punk's reign has been good and you don't think he would lose the WWE Title to a part timer like Jericho. No one really knows how long Jericho will actually be around. I'm pretty sure he has a tour with Fozzy some time this summer. But Jericho almost deserves another run as WWE Champion. But the WWE could also do what they did with Batista after Wrestlemania 26. Lose three consecutive matches then leave. If I was a betting man, this is the one match I would absolutely stay away from. I'm going with C.M. Punk here, but I'm not too confident. I just think losing the WWE Title at Mania then regaining it at Over the Limit doesn't make you the Best in the World. Winning it at Mania and keeping it does. Punk wins. I expect a good 20-25 minute match either way.


Hell In A Cell: The Undertaker vs Triple H with Shawn Michaels as Special Guest Referee

I kind of figured that ever since last year these two would fight at Wrestlemania. I really wanted Undertaker to face someone other than a Triple H type veteran again this year. I always thought that Undertaker's Streak should be used to help put younger guys over, but that hasn't been the case in the last few years. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Undertaker would probably put on a better match with Triple H then a Cody Rhodes or Wade Barrett type. Those matches would be more wrestling matches, but a match with Triple H would be more of a spectacle then a wrestling match, and both men could pull out their bag of tricks to hide their deteriorating skills in the ring. Undertaker is up there in age and has numerous injuries he is dealing with. An actual one on one match wouldn't do him any good.

This match is being build as the "End Of An Era," I guess because these two are really old and no one their age is around in the WWE anymore. The build to this match started off decent, with Triple H realizing that as COO Undertaker's worth to him is more than HHH the wrestler breaking the Streak. It was different from last year. But then they completely steered away from that and have just been repeating the same things over and over again for the last month. They talk about how whoever wins won't be the same again, and they must be willing to sacrifice everything for a win. It has just been a lot of talk about the same stuff that hasn't been too interesting.

Then Shawn Michaels gets named the Special Guest Referee. I still want to know who named him referee. That could have been an interesting twist to the storyline. HBK seems to be sticking his nose in everything just to satisfy his own ego, storyline wise of course. Come Wrestlemania time, Shawn wants to remind you that he is Mr. Wrestlemania. What role HBK plays in the match will be the most intriguing part of the story. One would think that he would help HHH, but does he want HHH to do what he couldn't. I personally maybe see some shoving between HBK and both men, but I don't know if HBK actually plays a part in the finish. It would taint the outcome of the match.

No matter how bad the build, you know these two, along with HBK, will put on a good match. They're ring veterans who know how to mask their limitations and entertain in the ring. But in the end, this is Wrestlemania, and I really don't think Triple H is ending the Streak. We get a match full of big spots, near falls, I think a little blood, and some arguing/shoving with HBK. But in the end, Undertaker hits the Tombstone on Triple H through a table for the win.

WINNER: The Undertaker

John Cena vs The Rock

It is finally here. A match that was announced a year ago is finally taking place. It seems like the time has flown by, but that is what happens when one guy isn't around full time. As I said in the intro, the WWE tried working backwards here by announcing the match first then going with the build afterwards, but it just didn't work out as well as I expected. I was willing to give it a chance, but it just didn't pan out as I had hoped. From now on, hopefully the WWE can work a build into a match like this. If they do Austin/Punk next year, work a build before they announce the match.

Throughout this build, it seems like The Rock is either just not on his game or has been asked to tone it down a bit to make John Cena look like he belongs on the same stage with Rock. I just feel like The Rock could have done so much more in this build. I was waiting for him to just tear Cena a new one. But it never happened. Rock's history lessons were entertaining, and the concert wasn't bad, but it could have been so much better. This isn't the same Rock we saw back in the Attitude Era.

I know one of the main goals of the WWE was to try to get fans to cheer Cena and get at least a 50/50 split of the crowd. While The Rock has been getting some boos the past couple weeks, there is still no way he isn't getting fully cheered in his hometown of Miami. That crowd will be very pro-Rock. But that is not to say that John Cena hasn't stepped up his game in recent weeks. Cena's promos have been serious and he showed that when he's not goofy and corny he can be a good promo. Both men have talked about how much they need to win this match. The Rock needs it to prove he is the greatest of all time, while Cena needs it because he can't just let any former star come in and take his spot and show they are better than the current crop of stars. At least that part of the build makes sense.

And that all leads to the outcome of the match. What will it be? All logic would point to John Cena winning. He will be here long term and there really isn't a point to putting Rock over, other than that Wrestlemania is in his hometown. I think Rock winning would also make sense if: A) This is the first of a series of matches or B) Cena takes time off after Wrestlemania. Cena would never take time off, he means to much to the WWE and the WWE means too much to him. But a few months off for Cena could do him well. It could freshen him up a bit and take away some of the staleness Cena was experiencing before the program with The Rock. Give him a couple months off and have him return right around the start of summer.

Then there is the possibility of a John Cena heel turn. It is always possible, but I still think it never happens. Cena is the face of the WWE. His work with Make A Wish and other charities can't be passed up. But, that doesn't mean Cena couldn't use some help in winning without his knowledge. I don't know who, but I think somebody helps Cena beat Rock, then we get a few weeks of people thinking Cena knew said person would helped him all along, or if Cena had no knowledge. I think that person might be Miz. I think no matter what happens, John Cena leaves with his hand raised. But no handshake afterwards.

WINNER: John Cena

And there you have it folks. I will more than likely be writing live about Wrestlemania Sunday night.

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

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