Following a disappointing WrestleMania 27 pay-per-view last April, my hopes for WrestleMania 28 grew higher as more exciting matches were announced for the already anticipated card. Being only mere hours away until the greatest spectacle of the year finally comes to fruition, it's time to cast our picks for each of the advertised matches for the show of shows.
With more questions than answers leading into WrestleMania 28, we look to analyze each bout and its potential to be worthy of watching or just fall flat. This year's huge WrestleMania event could quite possibly outlast any other Mania in recent memory, but only time will tell.
For weeks on end, the most popular question I've been asked regarding WrestleMania 28 is "The Rock or John Cena?" After reviewing my choices over and over again, I've finally come to a conclusion for each outcome.
Here, I am once again joined by the past, present and future of Bleacher Report to help me analyze tonight's electric pay-per-view with their intelligent insight on all things wrestling.
Without further ado, please allow me to introduce the recognizable talent of RiZE, Daniel Massey and Nate Scaccia, otherwise known as the Evolution of Bleacher Report, for the most jam-packed prediction article ever conducted!
GSM: Seems a bit random, don't you think? I like the idea of getting the WWE tag team champions on the card, but adding the newly-formed team of Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd is a confusing move when they could have just used an established team such as Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks.
Nonetheless, this should be a fun match with the champs successfully retaining their titles yet again.
RiZE: Before I start, I’d like to say that I’m very pleased with the WWE for pairing up Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd. I’ve been calling it for some time, and I’m glad it came to fruition. Nonetheless, I feel as if this was a “spur of the moment” decision by the WWE.
It shows how much the WWE cares about the TT division, since (it) could’ve easily built up this match. Anyway, I believe Primo and Epico are going to lose their tag team championships. It would be lazy of me to predict Kidd/Gabriel when the WWE could give it to the Usos because of Yokozuna’s HOF induction.
Because of this, I’ll stick with the Usos as your new tag team champions.
Massey: Primo and Epico are the tag team champions, believe it or not. Many were questioning whether the tag team championships would be defended at this year’s event.
Well, apparently, they are. With absolutely zero build-up, I expect Primo and Epico to retain the titles although it is very likely they may change hands if the WWE wants to see if another team can revitalize the titles.
Scaccia: This year, the WWE tag team championships will be defended in a triple threat tag team match. Primo and Epico will take on Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd and The Usos. I have liked Primo and Epico so far, as they seem to be the only tag team with character in the WWE.
The Usos are good in ring competitors, but they have been beaten time and again in the WWE. Gabriel and Kidd are a new pairing which could be interesting.
It is nice to see the tag titles getting defended at WrestleMania even if the match is not an official “pay-per-view” match. I think Primo and Epico pick up the win although I would not be surprised if The Usos or Gabriel and Kidd win the titles.
Final Consensus: Primo/Epico 3, Usos 1, Gabriel/Kidd 0
GSM: While the build-up to this has been obnoxious at times, it has least made sense in the long run. Regardless, I'm hoping they give each talented member of both teams their shining moment in order to make this match memorable.
Adding to the fact that his team is stacked with former world champions, John Laurinaitis could make a fun personality on both Raw and SmackDown. If one thing is for sure, it's that I can't wait for this feud to finally be done with.
RiZE: Honestly, Team Teddy pales in comparison to Team Johnny. Most of its members are comedy acts or have just begun to regain their momentum. Mark Henry has more credibility than the entire Team Teddy alone.
Nonetheless, this program has been entertaining. The winner is just so obvious that it’s hard to enjoy the build sometimes. To put it simply, Laurinaitis is a few months into his GM run while Teddy has been GM of SmackDown since 2004. With that said, Team Johnny for the win.
Massey: For me, this is the most unpredictable match on the card. I haven’t read a great deal about this match, so whoever wins it will be a surprise for me. Being as mostly faces will be winning at WrestleMania, I’ll say that Team Johnny will win this one.
This would really throw a spanner in the works for Teddy Long and SmackDown, and could even lead to both brands being led by full-fledged heels. Team Johnny has the potential to turn into a stable and if they win at WrestleMania, it makes that situation all the more likely.
Scaccia: Here is one of our filler matches for the evening. If done right, this match could be pretty good. Santino Marella, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, The Great Khali, Zack Ryder and Booker T will represent Team Teddy. David Otunga, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, The Miz and Drew McIntyre will represent team Johnny.
What I see happening here is team Johnny getting the win. This could happen any number of ways, but I would really like to see McIntyre get the win for his team. Have him pin either Booker T or Santino Marella. He can then feud with either one of them.
Think of the poetic justice. Long fired McIntyre only for him to return and cost Long his job in an act of revenge. Johnny gets the win and continues his reign of terror over the WWE.
Overall Consensus: Team Laurinaitis 4, Team Teddy 0
GSM: Personally, I'd rather have Natalya in Maria's spot, as that would make much more sense, but I guess they felt the need to include a celebrity on the card to garner more mainstream (appeal).
Seeing how Kelly Kelly has been complaining lately that she has yet to receive her WrestleMania moment and (given) the fact that celebrities never lose at the event, they'll be going over here. An unexpected Kharma return following the bout would save this from total disaster.
RiZE: The WWE has done so little with this program that I’ll probably completely ignore it during Mania. Nonetheless, at least it’s giving the WWE and the Divas a little mainstream media exposure. The finish to the match is deliberately unambiguous. It’s a well-known fact that celebrities don’t lose at WrestleMania. Maria and Kelly winning this match is fairly obvious if I must say so myself.
Massey: Maria Menounos and Kelly Kelly will triumph over Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres in this Divas tag match mainly because the special guest celebrity rarely loses. That is all.
Scaccia: Sigh. What do I think about this match? Personally, I don’t care. This is another match thrown on to the card to get the divas on the show and to get a celebrity involved. I would much rather have no celebrity and a real divas match rather than this. Obviously, the faces will win this one.
Overall Consensus: Kelly/Menounos 4, Phoenix/Eve 0
GSM: I know I'm in the minority here, but I'm not completely dreading this match. I predicted that they'd use their match from last August as the motive for this feud, and they surely did.
However, the rest of the build-up has been lackluster and uninspiring. The match should be fine, but there's really no suspense to it. It's a shame to see Orton fall so far after being world champion last year, but I definitely see him defeating Kane here.
RiZE: This match is easily the most unimportant match on the card. It seems as if the WWE put this together just so Orton would have a place on the card. The storyline behind this match is also very questionable. This match is built on a handshake. That itself speaks volumes when it comes to the importance of this match. It’s obvious that Randy Orton will defeat Kane in a passable WrestleMania matchup.
Massey: The only reason I think Orton will lose to Kane is because the Big Red Machine has been nothing but embarrassed in the ring since he returned under a new mask. When he did return, we were all expecting a new dominant force in the WWE, which would have been a good sending off for the 326-pounder if he is looking to retire soon.
Nevertheless, he has been battered by Cena multiple times, and Orton has consistently gotten the better of the masked maniac in the lead-up to WrestleMania. This match is merely a warm-up match for the crowd. Don’t expect anything exciting—many aren’t even positive what this feud is all about.
Scaccia: I really do not care about this match. It was thrown together to get Orton and Kane on the card. If Kane loses, it really makes his return pointless. I would like to see Orton lose and turn heel, but I don’t think the WWE wants to lose (its) “No. 2 babyface”.
I am going to keep this one sort and sweet. Kane and Orton take the action out into the crowd and the match ends in a double count out.
Overall Consensus: Orton 3, Kane 0, Other 1
GSM: As much as I don't like the Big Show, I give major props to Cody Rhodes for making this feud entertaining with his solid promos each week. Given the way they've built up this rivalry, it would only make sense to have Show emerge victorious, but I don't believe Cody's eight-month reign as intercontinental champion (ends) in that fashion.
Show will get his moment either way, but Rhodes must walk out with the title still intact around his waist via disqualification.
RiZE: I can’t speak for everyone else, but I feel this match is the most overlooked on this card. The buildup was exceptional and very entertaining to a point where I don’t have a solid prediction.
Based on what has happened thus far, you’d think Big Show would win the championship. Big Show, who has been in this business for years, deserves a pleasant WrestleMania moment.
However, Cody Rhodes has been billed as the next big thing for months, so the WWE could easily have him go over. Honestly, Rhodes will benefit from a win and a loss. If he wins, he continues his steady (but proper) ascension to the top card. If he loses, he’ll be inserted into the place Daniel Bryan currently holds. In the end, I’m sticking with the Big Show.
Massey: Cody Rhodes will retain his intercontinental title and embarrass the Big Show in some way, shape or form. If he wasn’t looking to embarrass the giant, then that makes the last few promos on SmackDown fairly pointless. Big Show really has no reason to take the title off Rhodes, who is the longest reigning champion in recent history.
It will do wonders for Cody’s character development if he can gain a win over the Big Show on the grandest stage of them all. Working with the veteran should help him advance to the main event, and capturing the win will solidify this development with the crowd. Expect Cody to run away a lot.
Scaccia: Cody Rhodes has really grown since re-introducing the classic intercontinental championship. Rhodes has been one of the most constant superstars in the WWE for months. Big Show has also been fairly impressive in recent months. I really think Show has one more good match in him and I hope he can pull off a great match here.
On one hand, I do not want to see him win the intercontinental championship. But on the other hand, I do want Rhodes to be pushed as a main event talent, and to do that he would need to drop the intercontinental championship at some point.
There is also the threat of Goldust. Will he interfere and cost Rhodes the match? I like Goldust, but this would be too little, too late in my mind.
If the WWE had any plans for Rhodes vs. Goldust, they would’ve had that at Mania, not at another pay-per-view. So who wins? I think Rhodes gets the win after Big Show dominates him and gets himself disqualified.
Overall Consensus: Rhodes 2, Show 2
GSM: While the build-up to this match was horrendous, the match itself should be spectacular.
Sure, they've been given promo time to hype this feud, but Sheamus as a face just doesn't work for me. The main focus of this bout has been over AJ, who will more than likely play a major factor in the conclusion of the title match.
Nonetheless, the Celtic Warrior has been on a major roll as of late, and will capture the world heavyweight championship by putting an end to Bryan's winning ways.
RiZE: I’m disappointed by the way the WWE has handled the world title match. I know there are other matches that are obviously more important, but this entire program is severely undeveloped.
Besides a number of verbal confrontations and tag matches, there’s practically no build nor storyline behind this match. The WWE could’ve easily had one of these guys mention the Rumble streak.
In case you’re unaware of what I’m referring to, the Royal Rumble winner hasn’t won the title at WrestleMania since '07. If Sheamus loses this Sunday, that’ll make it five in a row.
Nonetheless, I firmly believe Sheamus will win the world championship this Sunday. He has been built as the next face of SmackDown, while the WWE is touring Ireland two weeks after Mania.
Massey: Sheamus, the winner of the 2012 Royal Rumble, will win on Sunday. The Celtic Warrior has been waiting patiently for a top title since building himself back up after the "King of the Ring" fiasco. Daniel Bryan is not the best world heavyweight champion in my opinion, and I don’t feel like he is carrying the top title of SmackDown, even though he is.
Maybe he just needs that extra bit of charisma, maybe he just needs to get rid of AJ. Either way, Sheamus will take this title off Bryan at WrestleMania, spearheading a new direction for SmackDown just before the draft.
The match will be a mixture of technical wrestling and physical prowess. Bryan will be going for the submission while Sheamus will be looking to overpower the vegan. I think the match will be better than it is currently being given credit for—it is just overshadowed by the main events.
Scaccia: Perhaps the easiest prediction of the night. Sheamus has been unstoppable since winning the Royal Rumble, but Bryan has proven to be a thorn in his side by winning through underhanded tactics. I think Bryan’s reign will end and Sheamus will win the world heavyweight championship.
It will be interesting to see where the WWE takes Bryan’s gimmick next. Will he blame AJ for the loss? Or will she turn on him? If done right, the WWE can make a great storyline to keep this feud going.
Overall Consensus: Sheamus 4, Bryan 0
GSM: If Rock-Cena and 'Taker-HHH weren't happening on this show, then you can bet that this match would have been the true highlight of the event, and it still very well could be.
Despite being overshadowed by the two aforementioned bouts in recent weeks, Punk and Jericho have consistently found ways to make this feud entertaining. From arguing over who's the true best wrestler in the world to Punk's personal past, this is the match I've been most looking forward to.
The in-ring action will be phenomenal, no doubt, so one can only hope it gets plenty of time. Although it would make sense for Punk to get his vengeance and retain the title, Y2J hasn't gotten any momentum whatsoever his return to WWE, so I see Jericho capturing the strap, only to drop it back to Punk at Extreme Rules in Chicago.
RiZE: I find it slightly uncharacteristic of the WWE to go two different routes when it comes to the build of this match. It started out as an angle to determine the best wrestler in the world. Jericho, living up this mental mastermind nickname, has opted to insult Punk’s family by exposing a number of personal demons. I can’t say I’m a fan of that, but the story is interesting regardless.
Anyway, I do expect a solid match between these (two). I don’t believe this match will be one of the greatest of all time, considering the level of the competitors. There wouldn’t be any reason to take the title off of Punk at this point, so I believe he’ll retain.
Massey: CM Punk and Chris Jericho will be the most technical match of the night, with both superstars trying to prove they are the best in the world, and I think Punk will be taking the championship home to Chicago. Chris Jericho would get nothing out of holding the WWE championship at WrestleMania, but I do think he could gain it later down the line.
It has been reported that Jericho has signed a contract extension to wrestle through the summer, which also suggests a loss at WrestleMania for the first ever undisputed champion.
I think we will likely see moves we have not seen for years and years, as they have the potential to take technical wrestling back to the level we used to witness when Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle and Dean Malenko were a part of the company. CM Punk will prove his worth at WrestleMania, but it won’t be the end of the feud.
Scaccia: Here we have another match that has been built up perfectly. In recent weeks, Jericho has made this match personal. He has insulted Punk’s family and has questioned his straight-edge lifestyle. Punk, being Punk, has not shown any weakness or signs of disgrace to Jericho’s charges.
I think this match is one of the easier ones to predict compared to our other main events. Jericho has returned to re-claim his “best in the world” title. Since Jericho lost at Elimination Chamber, he needs a win here. I believe he will get that win.
Jericho has signed a contract extension with the WWE that will keep him with the company past WrestleMania. Jericho gets the win and the feud can continue.
Overall Consensus: Punk 2, Jericho 2
GSM: Originally, I was dreading this rematch merely due to this being the third time Triple H would be challenging The Undertaker's streak at WrestleMania 28. However, over the course of the past two months, they've really boosted my interest in this feud, and it has me eagerly anticipating the suspenseful outcome.
Throwing Shawn Michaels into the mix was an excellent move since he has history with both men, and teasing that he might turn on one of them makes this bout all the more intriguing. I expect a drawn-out brawl between the two icons, with HBK delivering sweet chin music to them both in the end.
I don't believe this is Taker's last Mania, since they haven't made that big of a deal out of it, so I fully expect him to extend his streak at the show of shows to 20-0.
RiZE: Honestly, I was against this match the moment some pro wrestling websites reported it a few months ago. It seems like a bad decision to have Undertaker waste this milestone by facing someone he has already beaten twice. The HIAC stipulation sweetens the deal as these two are the greatest competitors when it comes to the demonic structure.
The inclusion of Shawn Michaels is what sold me. As far as the winner goes, I don’t believe the steak will end. I believe this match will be second to last, and having Triple H defeat the Undertaker will ruin the entire mood of the entire show.
The live audience would be so disappointed in the finish to a point where the main event would suffer. Because of this, I believe the streak will live on.
Massey: If The Undertaker wins on Sunday, he will be the first man in WWE history to go 20-0 at WrestleMania. As many people have pointed out around Bleacher Report, not only does this win make sense for The Undertaker’s streak, but 20 wins is a nice round number. I wouldn’t even mind if Undertaker didn’t retire after Sunday and lost the next year, because he has already solidified his legacy with a rounded 20 wins at the granddaddy of ‘em all.
Triple H will put on a brilliant display in Hell in a Cell, especially as he seems to be in better shape than he was at last year’s event. I think Shawn Michaels will definitely be detrimental to the whole emotional aspect of the match.
Though I think The Undertaker is a shoo-in for this match, with Michaels refereeing, and this being Triple H’s third shot at the Deadman, the streak has never been in more danger.
Scaccia: When this match was first being rumored, I was one of the many fans who did not want to see this match again. Triple H and Undertaker put on a good match last year, but it was obvious that Undertaker could not go as hard as he once could.
He was using very little maneuvers and did very little in terms of moves or spots. Really, he won last year with one move. This year, the match is a Hell in a Cell. This makes it easier for undertaker to rest if he needs it and to take up time selling the Cell’s damaging structure.
Let’s also not forget that Shawn Michaels is the guest referee for the match. This is another scenario where I really would like to see a clean finish but it seems unlikely. Why have a special guest referee if he is not going to have some kind of impact on the match. I think HBK will hit both men with a sweet chin music at some point during the match.
My ending is Triple H pins the Undertaker, but 'Taker kicks out at the very last millisecond. Triple H thinks it was a three count and blames Shawn for not counting the victory. Triple H is distracted and Undertaker rises up and hits Triple H with a tombstone to win. NO chance Undertaker loses.
Overall Consensus: Undertaker 4, Triple H 0
GSM: For a feud they've been building towards for over a year, the hype got old rather quickly. However, I do commend both men for switching it up in recent weeks by making their promos more personal and intense.
I won't be disappointed if either man wins, but the outcome is still extremely unpredictable. Rock has consistently gotten the better of Cena over the last year, which would call for Cena finally emerging victorious and Rock passing the torch in the process.
But, do you think that would go over well with the Miami crowd? They won't cheer for Cena at all, regardless of how strong of a performance he puts on. Since Rock probably won't be returning anytime soon, I see Cena beating Rock and leaving it at that without any rematches.
To send the crowd home happy, they'll shake hands after the match, with Rocky possibly solidifying his revenge with a rock bottom to close the show.
Also, don't be surprised to see a returning Brock Lesnar interfere in this bout, but this match must end clean in order to mean something.
RiZE: This will undoubtedly be the main event of this show. After a year’s buildup and intense verbal warfare between these two (and their fan bases), I don’t see it being any other way. As far as the winner goes, I’d hate to be in the WWE’s shoes. If Cena wins, the live audience will be infuriated due to WrestleMania taking place in Rock’s home town.
If Rock wins, it makes the current product pale in comparison to that of the past. The Rock’s involvement in this WrestleMania is bringing new eyes to the WWE. If they witness someone from the past defeat the current top guy, it would make the WWE come off as inferior to what it once was. Because of this, I believe John Cena will win this match.
Massey: The Rock must win this match. There is absolutely no point or value in Cena gaining the victory here. The Rock is coming back from a seven-year absence from singles competition and he is arguably in the best shape of his life.
A win for the Rock will bring his career full circle as he will have beaten the past, present and future of the business—Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin and John Cena. This is almost unfathomable.
Cena could recover from a loss as he is there every week, and it would give him plenty of options to evolve his character. A loss for The Rock would tarnish his legacy, and make his return pointless.
With a year of build-up and real bad blood between the pair, expect this match to be a slobber knocker. I predict the match will be fast-paced, but with enough focus on every move for the crowd to be taken in by the spectacle they thought they’d never see.
Scaccia: After a year’s worth of build up, John Cena and The Rock will finally go one-on-one. Obviously, this is the intended “main event” of the show. This match will last a long time and it will definitely give the fans their money’s worth. I do not expect Cena to win this match using his traditional tactics. The “five moves of doom” will not take down The Rock.
Likewise, The Rock will not be able to win the match with one peoples' elbow or rock bottom. Expect each other to kick out of repeated finishers before someone eventually picks up the win.
But that is where the problem lies. I cannot picture John Cena losing clean nor can I see The Rock losing clean. So who wins the match? Common sense says that Cena should win since he is still with the company and is the “golden boy” of the business.
Having someone who hasn’t wrestled a match in seven years beat Cena would look bad for Cena and the WWE. Keep in mind Tensai. With the hype of a new superstar, this match would be a perfect place for him to interfere, costing Cena the match.
As a wrestling fan, I really do not want this match to end without a clean finish, but it is just so hard to see this match ending that way. Rock wins either by a superstar distracting Cena or by someone storming the ring and ruining the finish.
Overall Consensus: Cena 2, Rock 2
Overall, WrestleMania 28 has amazing potential to be one of the most epic and memorable events in a long time. The build-up to the show of shows as a whole has been strong and extremely enjoyable, leaving most viewers (myself included) with very high hopes for his pay-per-view.
Last year's WrestleMania 27 garnered over one million buys worldwide, and The Rock wasn't even competing on that show. One can only imagine the enormous buy-rate they'll be bringing this time around, giving WWE the incentive to put on the best show they possibly can.
As always, expect to see the Hall of Fame class of 2012 make a brief appearance at some point during the show. Similar to last year's event, comedy segments as well as additional promos from Superstars backstage will occupy any time left over from the matches.
The best part about this show is that while it may be a culmination of everything occurring in the WWE today, including Rock/Cena and HHH/Taker, it's the start of something new with the likes of Daniel Bryan, Sheamus and CM Punk being given their chance to steal the show.
I'd like to thank RiZE, Daniel Massey and Nate Scaccia for collectively participating in my WrestleMania 28 preview, all of which put in valuable time and thought into making their respective predictions. Drop a comment with your thoughts going into the WrestleMania and be sure to enjoy tonight's grandest spectacle of the year!
Also, be sure to check out Nate's blog Infinite Sports for sports updates including updates on your favorite WWE Superstars!