I'm sure you guys have heard the whispers.
The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar.
Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock.
John Cena vs. The Rock II, with the WWE Championship on the line.
CM Punk vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
It seems like everyone on the Internet has an opinion as to how WWE can match or even improve upon WrestleMania 28.
This is understandable when you consider that we knew the WrestleMania 28 main event less than 24 hours after WrestleMania 27 went off the air.
How does WWE plan on topping this year's event?
It won't be easy. After all, WrestleMania 28 did have a lot to offer.
The Hell in a Cell "End of an Era" got epic for the old school fans.
CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho for the WWE Championship was basically an aphrodisiac for smart marks.
The Rock vs. John Cena was a respectable 3-star match that sent mainstream Universe members home happy (and their children to bed weeping).
There's no denying that it was a great card, but it wasn't perfect.
If Curt Hennig were here, he would back me up on that.
So what does the perfect WrestleMania look like?
Well, I got sauced last weekend and traded my time machine straight up for a bucket of Portuguese chicken, so there's no sense in laying out the perfect WrestleMania 28.
However, WrestleMania 29 is still nine months and change away, and I know for a fact that Vincent K. McMahon has my writer dashboard bookmarked under "That guy who really likes Booker T."
So you're welcome, WWE. I've done your job for you.
Here is the perfect card for WrestleMania 29!
This won't be a technically intoxicating affair, and that's why we keep it off the PPV.
That said, this match makes sense for several reasons.
McIntyre is stuck on WWE Superstars, which is the darkest, dingiest abyss since TNA decided they needed a discount version of Kane.
The best way to bail McIntyre out is to have him string together a few wins over fellow glorified jobbers to reestablish himself, and then embark on a lengthy, dominant run as Intercontinental Champion.
Sheamus is the single most over-appreciated and undeservedly pushed wrestler in WWE.
Yes. That includes Ryback and Brodus Clay.
Being 6'4" and Triple H's gym buddy doesn't make the guy entertaining.
I understand the benefits of having a big ginger dude make Be a STAR appearances, but that hardly justifies giving him the second-most prestigious title in the company.
If there were an ounce of fairness in WWE, Sheamus would drop the World Heavyweight Championship to ultra-talented Christian at SummerSlam.
Christian is miles better in the ring and on the microphone, and has yet to get the serious World title run the entire intelligent world was aching for last summer.
Sheamus, on the other hand, should be a fixture of the mid-card.
More specifically, he should put McIntyre over so the Scotsman can eventually get his hands in the main event mix.
I'm not saying McIntyre actually has what it takes to headline pay-per-views, but surely he deserves a shot at fulfilling his initial "Chosen One" moniker.
Sheamus has been handed numerous opportunities, and all he's done is beat his chest like an albino gorilla.
McIntyre needs to snip the ponytail and show us some Celtic fury that's actually, you know, interesting.
Result: Sheamus tries for the Brogue Kick. McIntyre evades contact, crotching Sheamus on the top rope.
McIntyre connects with his potent Future Shock DDT and retains the gold.
I'd make this our hot opener for the evening.
Unlike most blokes on the Internet, I actually don't mind the recent trend of kicking off pay-per-views with a World Heavyweight Championship match.
The last two WrestleMania events have gone this route.
Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan was a sham, but Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio did a decent job of whetting the crowd's appetite for theatrical violence.
Christian and Ziggler would establish a standard of excellence for the rest of the card, and quite possibly craft the greatest World Heavyweight Championship match in WrestleMania history.
Or at any rate, a close second to Chris Benoit's triple threat with Triple H and Shawn Michaels at the 20th anniversary.
I don't necessarily disagree with people who say Ziggler needs to wear the belt as soon as possible, but part of me thinks it'd be in Ziggler's long-term interest to begin his first real World title reign at WrestleMania.
Winning the gold in a memorable war at the grandpappy of them all would give Ziggler a new level of legitimacy, and he's the kind of workhorse who would run with it.
I fear WWE will always see Christian as Edge's little buddy.
While Christian winning the Intercontinental Championship isn't exactly a demotion, it doesn't capitalize on the fact that he was a main-event player on SmackDown last summer.
He put on stellar World title matches with Randy Orton for months, but all he walked away with were two transitional title reigns.
He deserves better.
He deserves to frog-splash Sheamus and offer up a bevy of scintillating successful World Championship defenses.
Following this match, Ziggler and Christian should feel free to put on more fast-paced, super-tight matches and play hot potato with the belt for as long as they want.
Result: Ziggler leapfrogs Christian's spear and snags a nasty Zig-Zag on the way down. New champ!
I considered adding quality teams like Primo and Epico and the Usos to this match, but ultimately sided with simplicity.
Within the last year, Kofi Kingston has held the Tag Team Championships with both Evan Bourne and R-Truth.
Bourne went down twice on Wellness Policy violations and then broke his foot in a car accident.
Enter R-Truth, who also busts up his foot.
What does this mean?
1) Kofi's tag partners need to be careful with their feet.
2) There's a story waiting to be told here.
What if Evan Bourne came back and took R-Truth's place as co-holder of the tag straps?
If Bourne's not cleared yet, have them reunite somewhere down the line and capture the belts from a lackluster team like Titus O'Neil and that guy who looks like John Cena after sleeping in a tanning bed for a fortnight.
Either way, R-Truth gets insanely jealous.
More importantly, he gets insane.
Think of how hard R-Truth could run with the idea that Evan Bourne is out to steal his best friend and sabotage his career.
I am simultaneously chilled and humored when I think of a maniacal conspiracy theorist trying night in and night out to destroy the perma-smile elf that is Bourne.
Where does Kane come in?
Well, I see R-Truth auditioning much of the WWE locker room to be his new partner in crime, but naturally he makes crazy-face selections like AJ, Sakamoto and Ricardo Rodriguez that don't pan out.
But then Kane volunteers his monstrous services after being double-teamed and eliminated from an Elimination Chamber match by Bourne and Kingston.
Both members of Air Boom are enormously creative in the ring, so I see them playing off Kane's size and power to the massive crowd's delight.
Result: Kane grows frustrated with his partner's lunacy and gives him the Chokeslam.
The catch: R-Truth lands on a prone Evan Bourne for the pin, giving us at least a few months of the odd couple taking on the best teams in the division.
It's a tad reminiscent of Hunter vs. Sheamus back at WrestleMania 26, but Wade Barrett is clearly more accomplished in the ring and on the stick than the Just All Right White.
This is not just emerging star vs. veteran, it's also a battle between two men with fairly similar (and I would argue complementary) wrestling styles.
Barrett has performed well in the limited number of big matches he's had, but I think a competitive match with the Cerebral Assassin at WrestleMania would push Barrett's confidence over the top.
Well, Barrett's been out for a while now. When he returns, he'll have some ground to make up.
"The Game" only wrestles two or three times a year now, so just landing a match with the aging pelican-nosed veteran will get Barrett noticed.
Barrett's a tall, tough-looking technical brawler, so maybe Triple H won't even bury the guy.
Hating on Barrett would essentially be hating on himself.
Leave it to Triple H to find a reason:
"His accent is too snobby."
That's too bad, American Blue Blood.
"He needs a cool beard to make it to the next level."
That's right, Hunter Hearst Lemmy.
Result: Triple H attempts the Pedigree, but Wade Barrett low-blows him with Triple H's trusty Sledgehammer.
Barrett hits Wasteland.
Super H kicks out.
Barrett scrapes his half-dead opponent off the mat and lands the Pedigree on a steel chair for the win.
P.S.: I know Triple H would be booked to win this, but that's not how it ought to go.
WWE has two such matches coming our way on July 12, but I don't see why we can't have another one in April.
It's one of the most exhilarating gimmick matches in WWE, and I can easily watch three of them a year.
Remember 2010 when WrestleMania 27 and the inaugural Money in the Bank pay-per-view both featured the match?
Did anyone honestly feel overexposed to the sick bumps and clever sequences?
I don't think this match would take the vigor out of the new July tradition.
Quite the opposite. It would fill the void that has existed in the last two WrestleManias.
This year I spent the entire Team Laurentitis vs. Team Long flop fest pining for that spot where an unfortunate bodily vessel falls on a ladder and cracks it in two.
I was yelling "Shelt-on Ben-ja-min!" in my living room.
That never happens. My neighbors called the World's Greatest Police Team on me.
WrestleMania's Money in the Bank can be sort of like a jacked-up version of the match, featuring more Superstars and the winner's perk of being able to cash in on World Heavyweight or WWE Champion.
So. The players:
Rey Mysterio's a big name who can obviously wrestle, but I've honestly enjoyed his extended absence. His creepy smile and imbecilic contact lenses make him look like a tiny deep-sea creature.
That said, kids and short adults need someone to cheer for, so he's in.
Sin Cara is looking a bit like Ultimo Dragon these days, and ultimo-ately, his stay in WWE will amount to little more than Dragon's.
He gets a place here because these matches require some high-flying participants, and there's a good chance he'll (inadvertently) give us the nastiest bump of the night.
The Miz is upper mid-card material at best, and that's why he's perfect for a supporting role here.
Damien Sandow is terrific. His "Intellectual Savior" shtick couldn't come at a better time. WWE needs a whole lot of saving on that front.
The guy should be a major player within the next couple years, but he hasn't paid the dues necessary for a win of this magnitude just yet.
Inexplicably, Zack Ryder has fans. That's more than David Otunga can say.
Ryder could be the dark horse to win it, ala Santino in the Elimination Chamber.
Listening to Alberto Del Rio speak is not exactly a toga party. It feels more like watching paint dry, and then watching it peel, and then watching more paint dry, and then... you see my point.
But he is a pretty decent wrestler, so we sign him up to eat some rungs. Maybe there could be a spot onto his overpriced car rental of the evening.
I think a good Money in the Bank match needs a couple of hosses to throw the smaller combatants around, so Mark Henry and the hopefully Funkasaurus-less Brodus Clay get a WrestleMania paycheck.
If Henry injures himself again, give his spot to Ryback or Tensai.
Uh, if they're even still with the company.
Tyson Kidd is a dynamic, polished worker, and he proved in the fatal four-way at No Way Out that he can shine in multi-man stunt spectacles.
Cody Rhodes? Should he eventually qualify for the World Championship ladder match at Money in the Bank, there's a chance he'll win it and finally shatter the glass ceiling in the last half of 2012.
If not, he can sit tight for a little bit longer and have his breakthrough moment on a much more historically significant platform come April.
Result: As Sandow and Del Rio struggle for control of the briefcase at the top of ladder, Tyson Kidd springboards into the ring and knocks over the ladder with his deadly-sweet front dropkick.
Tyson frantically climbs a ladder and fumbles with the hook mechanism for almost as long as Swagger did at WrestleMania 26.
As a worn-out Brodus Clay tries to make it to his feet, Cody Rhodes springboards off his back and just barely cracks the jaw of Tyson Kidd with the Beautiful Disaster kick.
Clay falls out of the ring, Tyson crashes to the mat, and Cody Rhodes is Mr. Dashing in the Bank.
Jack Swagger has a speech impediment.
And Big Show has the highest cholesterol of any WWE Superstar since Bastion Booger, but he isn't booked like a hopeless jobber.
Swagger may never move the WWE Universe with his promos, but he puts on a respectable match every time out.
Making him World Heavyweight Champion was a mistake. He's not a headliner.
No, Jack Swagger is a high-quality mid-card mainstay who could go down in history as one of the greatest U.S. Champions in history.
One thing WWE did well in the 80's and early 90's was make their secondary belt, the Intercontinental Championship, seem prestigious.
This was largely accomplished by having solid wrestlers hold and/or feud over the gold for long periods of time.
So let's go ahead and do that.
Plus Jack Swagger is a heel who calls himself the "All-American American". Of course he should be competing for the United States Championship.
This guy needs to slaughter Santino Marella, and soon.
The fact that a former World titleholder has been losing to the guy with a SOCK SERPENT over his hand speaks to the inconsistency of WWE booking.
Jack Swagger's biggest achievement during his bad joke stint as World Champion?
He got a few passable matches out of the World's Largest Angus Burger.
Sorry. I meant Athlete.
These guys have chemistry, and selling the Ankle Lock is as good a kayfabe excuse as any for why Big Show can barely walk.
Big Show will do here what he should have done at the previous WrestleMania: put over a younger, more relevant champion.
Result: Swagger punishes Big Show's ankle throughout the match, only for Show to turn the tables and subject Swagger to his own version of the Ankle Lock.
Just when it looks like Swagger's going to tap, he rolls through, flips Big Show over and sinks in his signature submission.
Sweating, slobbering and probably crying, Big Show eventually taps out.
P.S.: For those of you concerned that so many heel wins will kill the crowd, do relax. These matches are all fun-sauce. Those in attendance will be having the merry time of their lives.
I guess Chris Jericho still hasn't accepted that he's better at wrestling than making music.
Word has it that he'll be leaving WWE after SummerSlam to play more Twisted Sister slop and Iron Maiden poppycock.
Hopefully, Moongoose McQueen can resist musical mediocrity long enough to work a short program with Randy Orton in early 2013.
That was where things were headed before the Brazilian flag potatoed Jericho and Orton was busted for a second wellness policy violation.
Say what you will about Jericho's rivalry with Punk, the dude came through big in their WrestleMania match.
Undertaker vs. Triple H was more emotionally loaded, but Jericho vs. Punk was technically superior.
These days it's apparent that WWE doesn't view him as being dedicated enough to their product to warrant a title reign, so the smart thing to do is simply book him in can't-miss matches.
In recent years, Randy Orton has made a habit of contributing strong matches to the WrestleMania undercard.
I say we keep that tradition rolling.
Both guys are extremely fluid in the ring, extremely over with the crowd, and extremely likely to enter the WWE Hall of Fame one day.
The match will be as good or better than Orton's match with CM Punk at WrestleMania 27.
Result: Jericho tries to hit the Lionsault on a horizontal Orton, but that spry Viper pops back up and catches Jericho with the RKO on his way down. 1-2-3.
P.S.: I personally prefer Jericho as an all-around performer, but I couldn't justify putting him over a full-time (when he's not suspended) worker.
I almost went with John Cena to challenge the Phenom because he's the only wrestler I can imagine WWE allowing to end the 20-0 undefeated streak.
But Cena’s not going anywhere.
Lesnar, on the other hand, is barely even part of the company now, so I imagine he’ll be long gone after he gets his WrestleMania payday.
Clearly, WWE won’t let the guy who bailed on them in 2004 steal Undertaker’s glory, but the match is still interesting from a storytelling point of view.
First of all, these guys had wicked wars years ago when Brock first broke onto the main-event scene.
Yeah, they’re both older and arguably out of their prime, but Undertaker consistently produces magic at WrestleMania.
Then there’s the mixed martial arts angle.
Brock was UFC World Heavyweight Champion.
Undertaker has been a UFC Live Event Attendance Champion for years, and even called Brock out after his loss to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121.
UFC nerds will be buzzing over this one, and I think Undertaker and Lesnar will satisfy them with bursts of jiu-jitsu and boxing, and several intense submission attempts.
This match could give new meaning to the term “worked shoot.”
The only way this match goes wrong is if it ends with that exhausted routine where Undertaker’s nemesis punches away at his head in the corner and everybody and their real estate agent (who isn’t even watching the match) can see the Last Ride reversal coming.
The result: The Undertaker attempts a Chokeslam, but Brock bullies the Dead Man into a standing Kimura.
Brock pulls him to the ground, but before he can secure the body lock, Undertaker slowly but surely lifts Lesnar off the mat and spikes him with a brutal Tombstone.
Bye, Brock! Enjoy your next sport of choice!
Surely by this point in time, Kharma will have returned to claim the Divas Championship and save the most floundering division the sport has seen since WWE Juniors.
Purists will say this should be Kharma and Beth Phoenix one-on-one, but I like the wrinkle that AJ adds to the proceedings.
She’s small enough to take awesome bumps from her monstrous opponents, and crazy enough to make this storyline more than two big girls beating each other up.
Plus AJ is the only Diva to do anything truly notable since Kharma’s surprise appearance at the Royal Rumble.
She should be rewarded for her efforts.
Upon her return, Kharma must go on a warpath.
Her matches with Beth Phoenix and some of the better female wrestlers should be competitive, but she should end up cleaning out the division.
Like, I’m saying she becomes so dominant she starts squashing male jobbers, Ryback style.
Where do we go from there?
After months of being untouchable, you have a small and unassuming Diva like Layla pull off the upset and make a huge name for herself.
I see this match as a stunning example of Kharma’s seemingly unstoppable tear through the division.
Result: Kharma lays Beth Phoenix out with the Implant Buster. AJ sneaks in and dropkicks Kharma from behind, sending her through the ropes and to the outside.
AJ steals the pin on Beth for a two count, but Kharma slides in, grabs AJ, and sitout powerbombs her smack-dab onto Beth.
She covers both for the decisive win.
Mainstream vs. underground.
The poster boy of WWE vs. the best technical wrestler in the company.
This feud writes itself, so leave it to WWE to turn it into a love triangle involving Hornswoggle.
The buildup for the match would be at least moderately entertaining, with Cena finding several quasi-funny ways to mock Bryan’s facial hair and Bryan straightforwardly telling Cena that he can’t wrestle.
The truth is that he can.
Or rather, he can if his opponent is wildly talented.
It might be more accurate to say that he can keep up, and that’s exactly what he’d do against Bryan.
Bryan leads. He follows. We watch with bated breath.
A win over John Cena at WrestleMania could give Daniel Bryan's star CM Punk-like brightness.
However, a loss to John Cena at WrestleMania could make his star absolutely blinding.
Because if fans watch the very good bad guy lose to the kind-of-bad good guy at what may very well be biggest pay-per-view of all time, it could reignite the revolution that CM Punk started and WWE quickly extinguished last summer.
Imagine the crowd for this ditty:
Result: Daniel Bryan catches Cena with a victory roll, but Cena keeps it rolling to avoid the pin and powers Bryan up for the Attitude Adjustment and the finish.
The Rock told us he wanted one last taste of the WWE Championship, which would seem to suggest that he will challenge for the gold at WrestleMania.
I can’t see it happening at, say, Night of Champions.
The Rock went over a full-time WWE loyalist this year, so it’s only fair that he return the favor next year.
What is the one thing CM Punk is currently lacking?
If you ask WWE, it’s the kind of drawing power necessary to headline pay-per-views.
Put him against the Hollywood celebrity who helped make last year’s event the highest grossing pay-per-view in WWE history.
John Cena is as big a name in wrestling as he’s ever going to be.
A win over the Rock wouldn’t benefit him like it would Punk.
If Cena beat Rocky, people would say, “Duh, it's Cenamania. He beats everybody, brother.”
If Punk beat Rocky, people would say, “CM PUNK JUST BEAT THE BALD GUY FROM THE G.I. JOE MOVIE! NO, NOT BRUCE WILLIS! THE OTHER BALD GUY!”
In just one night, WWE could make themselves a second golden boy.
CM Punk has nice wins over Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio, the Miz (but who doesn’t?) and Daniel Bryan, and indeed he beat Cena a couple times in controversial fashion last year.
A clean win over the Rock in the main event at WrestleMania would do more to legitimize Punk than all of those other victories combined.
Think of the buildup:
CM Punk rips Dwayne’s crappy action adventure films to shreds.
The Rock makes fun of the odd little warm-up shorts Punk wears when he’s not wrestling.
And again, the crowd would be off-the-hook.
They would make Toronto's SkyDome during Hogan vs. Rock sound like the TNA Impact Zone during one of Orlando Jordan’s old segments.
Result:The Rock connects with his patented spinebuster. He tries to follow up with the People's Elbow but Punk clocks him with with a stiff kick to the skull and the GTS for the historic win.