WWE Wrestlemania 28: What Would the Card Look Like Without so Many Injuries?
This isn't the WrestleMania that we were supposed to get.
While WrestleMania 28 is shaping up to be a fantastic show, I have no doubt in my mind that the WWE being severely bitten by the injury bug caused the card to look a lot different than it was originally going to be.
Throughout the course of 2011 and early 2012, we saw a number of major stars (such as Wade Barrett, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton and Sin Cara) go down with injuries, ultimately resulting in a domino effect that drastically altered the creative team's plans for the WWE's biggest pay-per-view of the year.
While we can never know for sure what would have happened had all these injuries never happened, that's not going to stop me from speculating.
Here's what I think we would be seeing at WrestleMania 28 had the WWE managed to remain injury-free.
Matches That Wouldn't Have Changed
John Cena vs. The Rock
Triple H vs. The Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell, with Shawn Michaels as special guest referee
WWE Championship: CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
Intercontinental Championship: The Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes
Thankfully, the three biggest matches at WrestleMania 28 weren't affected by the injury bug. Those three bouts seemed to be planned all along, while the whole Shaquille O'Neal debacle probably resulted in the Rhodes/Show match.
Divas Championship: Kharma vs. Beth Phoenix
I guess Kharma's pregnancy and the stillbirth of her child weren't technically injuries, but this was, overall, a very unfortunate and tragic situation that had a huge effect on the WrestleMania 28 card.
Had Kharma either not gotten pregnant or given birth to a healthy baby, the rumored Kharma vs. Beth Phoenix match likely would have taken place on the grandest stage of them all.
For many, Kharma vs. Beth is a dream match of epic proportions. It would be a battle between arguably the two best female wrestlers in mainstream wrestling, one that could, given the right ingredients, quite possibly be in the running for the best WWE Divas match of all time.
But it now looks like we'll have to wait to see Beth vs. Kharma at another point down the road, if it ever happens. Instead, all we'll probably get out of the Divas at WrestleMania 28 is some pre-show battle royal or a crappy bout involving Eve.
Rey Mysterio vs. Sin Cara
Rey Mysterio vs. Sin Cara has been talked about and debated from the second that Sin Cara (a.k.a. Mistico) signed with the WWE, and the consensus was that it would happen at some point. We just didn't know when.
The idea behind the bout, for a wrestling fan like me, is to add a great match to the undercard between the two most well-known Hispanic wrestlers on the planet. But crazy old Vince McMahon was apparently looking to hold this match for one real wacky reason.
WWE was hoping to book Mysterio vs. Cara for WrestleMania this year and try to break the world record for most people wearing masks at once in the same place. It's said that even if Mysterio and Cara can't compete, they can still appear for the world-record angle, if WWE still decides to do it.
It's all but certain, however, that the highly anticipated Sin Cara vs. Mysterio bout won't be happening. Well, at least not this year.
Mysterio has been out of action since last August after undergoing knee surgery, and Sin Cara also suffered a devastating knee injury at Survivor Series in November.
Barring two minor miracles, this is a dream match that will continue to be a dream beyond WrestleMania 28.
Mark Henry vs. Kane
A number of interesting factors have prevented us from seeing Mark Henry take on Kane at WrestleMania 28.
For starters, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via LordsofPain.net) detailed why Henry's push on WWE TV has been noticeably scaled back in recent months:
WWE creative curtailing Mark Henry's standing in the company following a huge promotion relates to injuries and perception. Many internally have perceived Henry for numerous years as being injury prone and not tough enough to gut said injuries out.
So, in other words, Henry's injuries (which started taking form late last year) caused him to lose the World Heavyweight Championship and take a plunge down the card. Interestingly, another factor also prevented Kane vs. Henry from happening.
There was talk about turning Mark Henry babyface and programming him with Kane for WrestleMania. Remember it was Henry that originally wrote Kane off television. Henry was vehemently against the proposed babyface turn and it seems WWE has abandoned his massive push.
While the Henry/Kane match wasn't taken off of WrestleMania exclusively because of injuries (some attitude problems seemed to play into this as well), it seems that the likely match between Randy Orton and Kane would never have happened had Henry not gotten injured.
Rather, what we would have gotten was a babyface World's Strongest Man taking on a heel Big Red Monster.
World Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus vs. Randy Orton
Count me among the people who don't believe for a second that the original WrestleMania 28 plans for Randy Orton had him (likely) facing Kane in a match that not too many people care about.
It was the ripple effect from Mark Henry's injury (which resulted in a scratched match with Kane) that ultimately led to The Big Red Monster needing a new WrestleMania 28 opponent.
Orton then became that opponent when he was injured for twice in the last several months, and Sheamus wound up winning the Royal Rumble, although many fans expected Orton to win.
Gosh, this situation is almost too complicated to type. But the basic gist is that I think Henry's injury caused the dominoes to fall and for Orton to be forced into a match with Kane instead of the World Heavyweight Championship match with Sheamus and Daniel Bryan.
That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.
The Orton/Kane and Sheamus/Bryan feuds are falling extremely flat so far, and call me crazy, but my belief is that that's happening because these feuds were never intended to play out like this or even happen in the first place.
Money in the Bank
The best example of one wrestler affecting an entire pay-per-view is Wade Barrett.
Check out the drastic changes that were reportedly made to the WrestleMania 28 card as a result of Barrett's elbow injury, courtesy of PWInsider.com (via SEScoops.com):
Barrett’s injury has caused change to the WrestleMania XXVIII card as a Money in the Bank Ladder Match was scheduled for the pay-per-view event with the English grappler pegged as the winner of the briefcase. With Barrett sidelined, the match has been scrapped altogether.
Without Barrett's injury, chances are that the Team Long vs. Team Laurinaitis match would have never happened, and instead, it would have been replaced by the popular Money in the Bank match, with Barrett as the likely winner.
In other words, MITB would have been the "Let's get a bunch of mid-carders on the show" match, not Team Long vs. Team Laurinaitis.
That would have worked much better for me. After all, this is WrestleMania, not Survivor Series.