The 2013 WWE Elimination Chamber pay-per-view has come and gone, leaving a clearer view of the top two championship matches for WrestleMania and a handful of Superstars ready to jump at the opportunity to appear on that card.
It has also left a number of questions that need to be answered prior to, as well as on, April 7. These questions surround a main event most believe should not happen, a title match lacking in star power, a trio of young upstarts achieving great success and a number of talents that could, potentially, miss out on a WrestleMania paycheck.
These are the five biggest questions on the Road to WrestleMania, their answers to be determined sometime during the next seven weeks.
At WrestleMania 28, John Cena and The Rock did battle in a truly epic main event match billed as “Once in a Lifetime.” Now, one year later, there will be high expectations for both all-time great Superstars to replicate what they achieved in Miami last year.
There will also be pressure to make sure the match is worth the impending backlash that will come from fans who believe they were mislead by the “Once in a Lifetime” tag line that accompanied their first in-ring encounter.
The Rock and John Cena have made careers out of out-performing others in big match situations. They have achieved great success and enjoyed legendary careers because they have a tendency to live up to the hype surrounding their matches. Now, with a rematch of the highest-grossing pay-per-view bout in World Wrestling Entertainment, they will have to rise to the occasion one more time to justify what many feel is a match that should not happen.
Whether they can or not is a question that will be answered April 7.
One thing is for certain, though, and that is that the build-up to this year’s rematch will have to be significantly different from last year if the company hopes to replicate the financial success of WrestleMania 28. The fans have already seen Cena and Rock exchange verbal blows. Now, with the WWE Championship as the centerpiece of their rivalry, their rivalry will have to take a decidedly more serious tone with less jabs and pokes and prods about Cena’s t-shirts and Rock’s boob job and more focus on the biggest prize in the industry.
Only time will tell if Rock-Cena II will take the path of The Dark Knight and Toy Story 2 or if it will fail miserably, like Grease 2 and Jaws 2. Either way, the road to Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey should be a fun and exciting one.
There will be much debate in the coming days about whether or not Alberto Del Rio defending his World Heavyweight Championship against Jack Swagger at WrestleMania is a match worthy of a grandiose card such as WrestleMania. After all, the champion is arguably still in the infancy of his babyface turn and the challenger was in the middle of a very long losing streak as early as last summer and only recently returned with a new look, attitude, manager and character.
Add to that the decided lack of star power involved in the match and there is reason to question the legitimacy of the bout.
With that said, there are seven weeks between Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania 29 for one of two things to happen. One, the story of “bigot versus proud Mexican champion” is strong enough to lead the match into WrestleMania, giving fans a reason to get behind it despite the decided lack of star power, or two, the match transforms into a Triple Threat or Fatal Four-Way match also involving the likes of Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler.
The intense staredown between Orton and Swagger in the moments immediately following the Elimination Chamber match seems to indicate that there are unresolved issues between the two, issues that very well could bleed over into Monday’s Raw or Friday’s SmackDown.
At this point, the company cannot afford for Alberto Del Rio versus Jack Swagger to hold the interest of the WWE Universe the way it is right now. They will have to work overtime to craft a believable story or add more Superstars to the mix in order to make it mean something.
If they do that, there is more than enough talent involved to have a potential show-stealing match on one of the biggest stages in all of entertainment.
At Elimination Chamber, The Shield scored a huge upset victory when they defeated a trio of World Wrestling Entertainment’s top babyfaces clean in the center of the squared circle. It was a shocking conclusion to the match in which everyone and their mothers expected the heroes, captained by WrestleMania main event competitor John Cena, to finally end the reign of terror The Shield has enjoyed since debuting at the 2012 Survivor Series.
The win provides the talented newcomers with tremendous momentum as April 7 draws nearer and nearer. They are undefeated in their two official matches and have terrorized WWE Superstars by attacking seemingly on a whim. With Cena moving on to his program with The Rock, it would seem as though there are a limited number of possibilities for Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns when it comes to the big event.
Sheamus and Ryback appear to have no real direction when it comes to WrestleMania and a rematch of sorts should not be out of the question. Perhaps the revisiting of The Shield’s issues with Team Hell No and a shot at the WWE Tag Team Championship is in order. The trio has had show-stealing matches with all four of those mentioned, and a repeat performance against either duo would have the potential to overshadow many of the matches on the WrestleMania card.
Wherever The Shield finds themselves on the WrestleMania card, against whomever they find themselves against, one cannot help but marvel at the meteoric rise the former developmental talents have enjoyed over the last few months. A refreshing and welcome addition to WWE programming that can, at times, become boring and stale, Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns have a tremendous future ahead of them.
WrestleMania 29 will be their first but it will not be their last.
Die-hard fans were ecstatic when Dolph Ziggler climbed the ladder and retrieved the Money in the Bank briefcase at last July’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view event. For years they had championed him as the most underrated performer, and for years he had backed up their claims by stealing any number of shows he was booked on.
It was fitting that he would finally have his hard work and dedication pay off in the form of a World Heavyweight Championship reign.
Fast-forward eight months and Ziggler still has in his possession the Money in the Bank contract and no real momentum on his side heading into WrestleMania. There were times when it appeared as though the self-proclaimed “Show Off” was on the verge of cashing in, but, for whatever reason, it did not happen.
Then there were the times that seemed custom made for him to finally achieve his goal of becoming World Heavyweight Champion, but he never made an appearance.
Now, with several Superstars’ WrestleMania plans coming together all around him, there is not only a question of whether or not Ziggler cashes in by April 7, but also whether Ziggler is in any kind of meaningful match at all. Sunday, at Elimination Chamber, he was thrown onto the card at the last minute, a participant in a four-minute match against Kofi Kingston.
With a somewhat weak World Heavyweight Championship match appearing more likely following Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger’s victories at Elimination Chamber, Ziggler cashing in his Money in the Bank contract prior to WrestleMania, creating a multi-man match of some sort, could help boost interest in the bout.
At the very least, Ziggler cashing in immediately following a Swagger-Del Rio title match could help erase any disappointment due to a lack of star power.
Either way, Dolph Ziggler deserves to be involved in a high-profile match at WrestleMania, and his Money in the Bank briefcase will likely make that possible.
Ryback. Sheamus. The Miz. The Shield. Kane. Daniel Bryan. Antonio Cesaro. Wade Barrett. Kofi Kingston. Chris Jericho. Mark Henry. Randy Orton.
One of the most talented rosters in WWE history, there are almost too many talented individuals for every one of them to appear on the WrestleMania card. Main event Superstars or those on the receiving end of a push, such as Ryback, Jericho, Orton and Sheamus, are going to make the card regardless. Kane and Bryan are near-locks to make the final card, either as singles or tag competitors.
But that leaves a handful of guys with main event potential who may be forced into pre-show competition or, worse, made to watch from the locker room area.
Secondary champions Cesaro and Barrett, as well as their top challengers Bo Dallas and The Miz, are not guaranteed to appear. Kofi Kingston has been a tremendous spokesperson for the company, and is easily one of the most popular mid-card performers on the roster, but with a decided lack of interest and push, is most in danger of missing out on a fat WrestleMania paycheck.
Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, Brodus Clay, Tensai, 3MB, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara are also going to find it difficult to weed through the traffic in front of them to end up on the card.
There is one potential solution to the problem, however. In recent years, Money in the Bank or huge multi-man tag matches have appeared on the WrestleMania card as a way of getting a group of talented and deserving workers on the card despite no real storyline for fans to get behind. Last year, Team Teddy versus Team Johnny helped a large number of stars earn their spot.
Perhaps an inter-brand showdown between a team constructed by SmackDown GM Booker T and a team of stars led by Raw GM Vickie Guerrero could accomplish the same thing.
There are times when a talented roster is a blessing, but in a situation such as WrestleMania, where spots and time is at a premium, a roster full of tremendous performers creates a number of issues when it comes to getting everyone their moment in the spotlight. WWE is staring said issues in the face with only seven weeks to go until WrestleMania.
Here is hoping they confront the problem and come up with a solution. The WWE Superstars work extremely hard, travel hundreds of thousands of miles and entertain millions of fans every year, and a spot on the WrestleMania card means the world to them. They deserve the notoriety and attention that comes with an appearance on that show.