As hard as it may be to believe, wrestling's biggest event is nearly upon us as WrestleMania XXVIII takes place on Sunday from Miami, Fla. There has been a lot of talk about this particular WrestleMania perhaps being the best ever, or at least the best in recent memory.
It's easy to see why that sentiment has been expressed as this year's Mania boasts four main-even-caliber matches in Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus, CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho, The Undertaker vs. Triple H and, of course, The Rock vs. John Cena.
At least three of those matches are good enough to headline WrestleMania most years, but they will all get to share the spotlight on Sunday. In a lot of ways, this year's WrestleMania has the potential to be one of the most unpredictable ones as almost every match could truly go either way.
Despite that uncertainty, I will attempt to prepare you for what you should expect to see at the premier event in sports entertainment. Here are 10 predictions for what will go down at WrestleMania XXVIII.
It has been called the biggest match of all time for the better part of a year, and while some may not want to admit it, The Rock and John Cena have the ability and the platform to make their match precisely that. Neither is ever going to be confused with Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart in terms of in-ring prowess, but Rock and Cena are two of the best ever in terms of their presence, and that is why they're sure to deliver.
Both competitors have done more against less in the ring before, so there is reason to believe that they can have a spectacular match. Don't expect a technical display or anything of that nature, but both men have come through on the big stage before. Rock has had fantastic WrestleMania matches with the likes of Hulk Hogan and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, while Cena had the best match of his career at Money in the Bank this past summer against CM Punk.
Nobody is going to call this encounter the greatest wrestling match of all time, but in terms of the spectacle it is sure to be in The Rock's hometown, it could be biggest match of all time, just as it has been touted. With as much hype as this match has gotten, neither The Rock nor Cena are going to disappoint.
No topic has been debated more heavily over the past couple years in the WWE than the prospect of a John Cena heel turn. The overwhelming thought is that the company would never allow him to turn heel at this point as he draws too much money. That is obviously going to be a consideration, but with the amount of buzz and interest a heel turn would create, it makes sense to pull the trigger.
I, like most fans, have been hoping for a Cena heel turn for quite some time, and his actions on Monday's RAW made me believe that a turn was a distinct possibility. Cena was far cockier than he usually is and he continually made reference to how he would do anything to win the match and how he will always rise above hate in terms of fan reaction.
With all of that said, I envision the hate he is sure to receive from the fans in Miami becoming too much for Cena. The most likely scenario either involves Cena refusing The Rock's handshake after The Rock defeats him or Cena using a heel tactic to pick up the win. Either way, a Cena heel turn will be more lucrative than people care to admit.
As much as I want to believe that the WWE could throw us all for a loop with regards to the "end of an era" match between The Undertaker and Triple H, I just can't see Taker losing. There are a lot of variables as the match is of the Hell in a Cell variety and Shawn Michaels will be the special guest referee, but I can't be persuaded into thinking that the streak will end.
Many seem to think that this will be The Undertaker's final match, but for as long as the streak lives on, the possibility that he could come back and have another match lives on as well. As soon as the streak ends, much of the mystique surrounding The Undertaker's character disappears as well. Considering how much Taker has given the company over the past two decades, the WWE owes him a perfect WrestleMania mark.
With the way that tension between Triple H and his best friend/special guest referee Shawn Michaels has been built over the past few weeks, it seems as though the creative team is trying to make us believe that HBK might screw over Triple H. I'm expecting quite the opposite, however. Imagine, if you will, the latter stages of the match as The Undertaker begins to stir, Michaels tunes up the band in preparation for a thunderous chord of Sweet Chin Music.
Just as Michaels is about to deliver it, though, Triple H will stop him. This will result in The Undertaker hitting Triple H with a tombstone and Michaels counting Triple H's shoulders to the mat. This would be a fantastic swerve in that it would show that Triple H wanted to end the streak honorably, but it would also show that Michaels doesn't have an issue with Hunter losing. This could possibly lead to a Triple H vs. Michaels match next year as has been rumored.
As far as I'm concerned the build between WWE Champion CM Punk and Chris Jericho has been the best of any leading up to WrestleMania, and because of that I am extremely excited for their match. Not only has there been an excellent, old-school psychology between the two during their feud, but they are two of the best in-ring workers in recent memory, so their match at WrestleMania could easily steal the thunder of The Rock vs. John Cena or The Undertaker vs. Triple H.
I would love to by Jericho as a credible threat to beat Punk, but I don't believe that he's in it for the long haul. Jericho apparently has a lot of dates coming up in the near future with his band Fozzy, so I doubt that he'll be given the title unless he drops back to Punk at the next pay-per-view. Punk is currently the No. 2 guy in the company in terms of popularity and like so many of the greats before him, he needs a signature win on the big stage. A triumph over Jericho would be exactly that.
It may be the forgotten match among the quartet of main-event bouts, but the battle between World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan and Royal Rumble winner Sheamus has the potential to be fantastic. Sheamus is among the company's rising stars as he is close to reaching the level of John Cena, CM Punk and Randy Orton as a face, while Bryan has surprisingly done a fantastic job going from a lovable underdog to an annoying, weasel-like heel.
Having Bryan come to the ring with A.J. by his side has done wonders as Bryan has done a great job playing the oppressive boyfriend role, which gets him even more heat with the crowd. A.J. herself isn't a heel, but she has helped Bryan a lot in recent weeks. With the way Bryan forced her to make very personal confessions on SmackDown, however, it would appear as though a breakup could be in the works.
I anticipate A.J. slapping Bryan across the face at some point with Sheamus following that up with a Brogue Kick. Sheamus has built up too much momentum since his face turn and Rumble win, so I have to believe that he will come out on top.
Although it seems like little more than a throw-in match, Randy Orton vs. Kane certainly has the potential to be a good one. It basically came down to one of the company's top guys in Orton and one of the most well-respected veterans in Kane not having anything to do at WrestleMania. The creative team did a nice job of crafting a storyline out of the handshake between Kane and Orton over the summer, so now we have a feud that at least makes some sense.
For the most part, Orton has been booked like Superman since his face turn two years ago, so it's tough to imagine him losing to Kane. As much as the creative team has tried to make Kane look like a legitimate monster by putting him back in a mask, he doesn't have the results to back that up. There really isn't anything to gain by making Orton lose this match, so I fully expect the WWE to make the kids happy with an Orton victory.
Because of his status as a rising star, most are probably expecting Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes to take down Big Show at WrestleMania. While that would probably be the best course of action since it would give Rhodes wins over legitimate veterans at Mania in back-to-back years as he beat Rey Mysterio last year, there is reason to believe that things will go against the popular school of thought. The main reasoning for that is the way that Rhodes has completely owned him during the feud.
Rhodes has gotten the better of Big Show at every turn and continually taunts him with clips of his past WrestleMania failures. As much as I would like to see Rhodes win, a loss wouldn't be the end of the world. Rhodes has been an entertaining champion, but losing will rid him of the Intercontinental Championship and allow him to rise to main-event status. Should Sheamus win the World Heavyweight Championship, then I could easily see Rhodes being his first challenger after Daniel Bryan's obligatory rematch.
After weeks of wondering where The Miz would fit into the WrestleMania card, it was revealed that he would be the final member of Team Johnny after he saved John Laurinaitis from a Cobra at the hands of Santino. My initial thought was that Miz would find a way to get onto Teddy Long's team and destroy it from the inside, but Miz was conventionally added to the heel team. After all the embarrassment he has suffered over the past several months, The Miz needs a big performance in order to be taken seriously again.
He continues to be fed to main-event talent, and since losing the WWE Championship to John Cena last year, he has mostly been an afterthought with the exception of his stint in a tag team with R-Truth. The Miz is a main-event performer in terms of his look, presence and mic skills, and his in-ring work continues to improve, so he needs to get back on track.
Helping Laurinaitis gain control of both RAW and SmackDown would be a fantastic start as it would allow Laurinaitis to reward Miz with a world title shot. That is what I expect to happen as Miz takes down Long's rag-tag group of wrestlers.
On a non-wrestling-related note, you should expect to see Jim Ross call a few matches on Sunday. It seemed as though the three-man team of Michael Cole, Jerry "The King" Lawler and Booker T would be in effect, but with Booker being named as the final member of Teddy Long's team, there appears to be an open spot. There could very well be a conventional two-man booth with Cole and Lawler when Booker wrestles, but the vast majority of fans want to see Ross, and the WWE will likely oblige.
Ross stepped in at last year's event when Cole and Lawler wrestled and he stuck around to call the main-event matches. Ross' mere presence made those matches feel huge and he deserves to be the one who calls The Rock vs. John Cena. I've tried to convince myself that Booker being in a match will lead to Ross calling the final few matches, and it seems to have worked as I believe that will be the case.