One of the greatest entertainment spectacles of the year is once again upon us! WrestleMania broadcasts from MetLife stadium in New Jersey, and no matter how the show is booked, it is sure to have people talking for weeks to come.
Will The Undertaker's legendary streak continue? Will John Cena turn on the fans? Will the career of Triple H end?
In this article you will find:
- Previews and predictions for every (known) match.
- My thoughts on how certain matches should be ordered, including what the main event should be. (The order in which the matches appear in the slideshow represents this.)
- Opinions on certain wrestlers, including The Rock and Ryback.
- Projected rating for each match (out of 5 stars).
- Estimated match times.
No matter what people say about the buildup to the event and the card—sure, it could have been a lot better—we should see some fine-quality bouts at this event, and I believe it has every chance of topping last year's effort if it is booked smartly enough.
Why on earth is this the pre-show match? Put the stupid eight-person tag match in the pre-show and make the first match actually mean something. These two deserve to be on the show, unlike Clay and Tensai.
This is my selection of the match to open the show. Why? These are two talented performers who are both over with the fans and have proven themselves more than capable of putting on a solid match in recent weeks.
I have been very impressed with both of them as of late.
Wade Barrett is great fun to watch and is very amusing in his heel role; hearing him shout out such expressions as "I know the bloody rules, alright?" and "I'm the bloody champion" to the referee in his dulcet tones is something I will never get bored of. He has a natural ability in the ring and completely deserves this spot on the card.
The Miz has been working well in his new babyface role, and even more promising is the improvement in his in-ring skills. I've always thought he was alright in the ring, but there has been a noticeable upturn over the last six months, and he has put on some quality matches recently. The inclusion of the figure four leg-lock has been beneficial too, as has his affiliation with Ric Flair in general.
Hence why I think these two can kick this show off with a bang. And being one of the more unpredictable matches on the card, it should keep us on our toes throughout.
I hope they are given a good time to develop the match and show what they can do. Things I would like to see are the figure-four applied around the ring post and kick-outs from both the Skull-Crushing Finale and Wastelands.
I think we need a new champion now (no matter how entertaining Barrett is), and The Miz is a good choice. It would be nice to see a rematch next month at Extreme Rules. After that, I hope Barrett goes on to bigger and better things.
Winner: The Miz (New champion)
Time: 17:00 (Including entrances)
Projected rating: ***
Really, WWE? This is the best you could come up with for Team Rhodes Scholars? I mean, come on!
Damien Sandow is arguably among the top performers in the WWE today; he fits his scholarly character like a glove and delivers great promos and matches on a consistent basis. He is hilarious! He should be put in the main event scene this year for the world title; whether he is or not remains to be seen, however.
As for his partner, I see a mid-card future for the son of the legendary Dusty Rhodes. Yes, he is a decent wrestler and can cut a promo, but I don't think there is enough about him to warrant a world title run. I find it worrying that his mustache is arguably more over than he is.
That being said, I do like the guy and what he brings to the table; the WWE needs good mid-carders/tag-team specialists right now—they always do—and you don't need to be world champion to have a successful career.
The Bella Twins made their return to the WWE recently and have made a reasonable impact, attacking The Funkadactyls and showing some good work in the ring. They are an addition the Divas division so desperately needs.
As for the other team, the most talented individual there is Naomi. I watched her wrestle on NXT and was impressed by her athletic ability and natural charisma. Her move-set is beyond what most of the current Divas can dream of (with the exception of AJ). I think the WWE needs to give her the ball and maybe the Divas title in the near future. I don't know what the others are doing in the match, but never mind.
Not an interesting match, really, I think it would be better as a tornado mixed tag match (the four men or the four women in the ring at any time). Hopefully, the WWE will be smart and give Rhodes Scholars and the Bella Twins the win (albeit in shady fashion) in a short but mildly entertaining affair. Really, this match should be on the pre-show. It's not worth paying for.
Has anyone else considered the possibility of the return of Kharma after the match? Maybe that is why this isn't the pre-show match? In that case I have no issues with it being on the PPV!
Winners: Team Rhodes Scholars and the Bella Twins
Time: 10:00 (with entrances)
Projected rating: *
I need to get this off my chest: Ryback is a dreadful character.
He doesn't deserve to beat Mark Henry; he doesn't even deserve a match with Mark Henry.
The guy can do hardly anything worth watching in the ring, his promos make my ears bleed in protest, and he has the charisma of a used teabag. I found Skip Sheffield more entertaining, and believe me, that is worrying. Comparisons to Goldberg are an insult to Goldberg (and I didn't rate him too much).
Honestly, the WWE seems to think that height and strength are a recipe for a world champion. Not true. Height and strength with a good character and real personality is a recipe, even if in the ring the person is lacking.
It is laughable, too, that the WWE wants us to believe Ryback is stronger than Mark Henry (or even a match for him strength-wise): Mark Henry is a former professional weightlifter and former strongest man in the world. Ryback is strong, but he's not that strong. There is no contest to be had. I doubt Ryback is stronger than Cena, let alone Henry.
Mark Henry can go in the ring. Sure, he won't win any match-of-the-year awards or even steal the show, but he is capable of a good match and can tell a story. He is also charismatic and can cut a decent promo. I have really enjoyed his return because THAT WAD I DO!!!!!! Sorry, I had to...
The spectacle of this match is clearly planned to be the Shell Shock finisher delivered to Henry by Ryback. I hope it goes wrong, because to me that would be the most entertaining aspect of the match. I very much doubt Ryback will be able to do it without the assistance of the top turnbuckle.
This could be a make-or-break moment for Ryback; maybe I'll give him a chance if he can pull it off.
Oh, and no matter how hard he tries, Mark Henry would like to remind you that there is no way Ryback will be able to splash him. Actually his exact terminology was "AIN'T NOBODY GONNA SPLASH ME!" His words are poetic and of deeper meaning than we can ever know.
Time: 15:00 (With entrances)
Projected rating: *1/2
The first big match of the night should close out the first hour of the PPV. The idea of putting this as the third match may be a little controversial, but it is important to spread the big matches out to retain interest and let the audience recover between them.
I must admit that I was not at all keen on this match to begin with. I enjoyed their SummerSlam match enough, but I thought that should have been it. However, the WWE has made the match a lot more interesting since adding the stipulations of No Holds Barred and Triple H's potential retirement if he loses.
Do I think Triple H will retire here? No. Even if he loses the match, I can't see it.
What I can see is the potential for a brutal (potentially bloody) match to give WrestleMania a little bit of edge. I think and hope that this will surpass their SummerSlam effort and that possibly this match could come within a star of the quality of Triple H vs. Undertaker from last year.
Even if it is predictable, it should still be great to watch, and with the addition of Paul Heyman and perhaps Stephanie McMahon, even more so.
How I would book it
I hope the WWE sees the potential here that I do. After a brutal spectacle of a match, I would have Stephanie McMahon accidentally cost HHH the match by hitting him with his own sledgehammer in the gut when Heyman dodges out the way, leading to an F-5 from Lesnar and the win.
This would start a series of events leading to Triple H turning on his wife and becoming a heel in light of her costing him his career. A power struggle would ensue between the McMahon family and HHH, with it being revealed that HHH never liked Stephanie and only married her for power.
Triple H in control of the WWE as a heel is too good an opportunity to miss, and I'm sure, if they desired, the WWE could find a loophole allowing him to wrestle again and manipulate his way to the world title for a short 14th reign.
But even in a non-wrestling capacity, HHH as a heel in power would be great television. He could recreate the whole Mr. McMahon dynamic from the attitude era.
How I think it will be booked
Stephanie will get involved mid-match and take out Paul Heyman. Following this, HHH will find a way to beat Lesnar, involving both Heyman and Stephanie (and, of course, the sledgehammer). He may get taken out post-match by Lesnar (or The Shield).
I also see Paul Heyman getting "taken out" during the match, thus preventing him from accompanying CM Punk to the ring against The Undertaker.
Winner: Triple H
Time: 30:00 (Including entrances/video package)
Projected rating: ***3/4
Team Hell No, who have helped to bring some degree of credibility to the tag titles, have been champions now for a long time; too long, some might say.
The dynamic between Kane and Bryan, however entertaining it may be (or may have been), cannot last forever, and there must be an implosion sooner or later. You have to believe it will be sooner, not later.
For one, I believe they are both way too talented for the tag division. Kane has a proven track record, and Daniel Bryan is one of the best all-round wrestlers I have ever seen; his heel work is impeccable.
This is the debut of Big E Langston, and it needs to be memorable. He needs to dominate for large portions of the match and put in a strong performance; I've heard and seen a lot of good stuff about him, and he cannot be made to look weak here (although I could see him take the pin fall after a double team from Kane and Bryan).
I am going to go out on a limb and say that Ziggy and Big E will capture the titles here, caused by a breakdown between Daniel Bryan and Kane leading to a gimmick match at Extreme Rules between the two.
Winners: Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston (New champions)
Time: 16:00 (With entrances)
Projected rating: **1/2
Chris Jericho is, without doubt, one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time. With his immense ring ability, promo skill and all-round talent, he can make anything look good. Including Fandango, apparently.
As reported by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Chris Jericho was originally slated to work with Ryback at WrestleMania. Plans changed while Jericho was touring Australia with Fozzy. Jericho was unhappy when he heard the news to begin with, though he admits he is now excited for the match.
Well, I am certainly more excited than I would have been were he facing Boreback.
This match is original and completely open to interpretation. Will the WWE put Fandango over in his first match? Or will it simply be a great showing against one of the all-time greats? Either way, we are in for a treat with this match, although I would still argue that Jericho deserves better.
I think the WWE will give Jericho the win here and have Fandango get his revenge in some ludicrous gimmick match at Extreme Rules. (Ballroom brawl, anybody?) He may even beat Jericho down after the match in order to set it up.
But I hope for and expect a high quality contest here, Fandango really needs to come through this with a glowing display. If he doesn't, he could fade into obscurity quickly. Look at Tensai if you want proof of that.
This match should be fairly late in the PPV for two reasons: Jericho deserves a highlighted match due to what he is being asked to do, and Fandango needs to look like a big deal.
Winner: Chris Jericho
Time: 18:00 (With entrances/video package)
Projected rating: ***
Call me old-fashioned, but I believe world title matches should not open an event or appear within the first few matches. Regardless of how the WWE views the title, this is where I think the world title match should be placed (roughly).
Lets face it, we can't have a repeat of last year's awful opening, from which the show struggled to recover.
This match has had a pretty good build and is probably the most unpredictable match on the card overall. I like the fact that the WWE got a bit edgy with Swagger's gimmick, despite the fact that it has gotten rather repetitive. Breaking Ricardo Rodríguez' ankle was a neat way of keeping it fresh and maintaining the heat on Swagger.
I know who I think should win: Del Rio.
I think I know who the WWE wants to win: Del Rio.
But I'm far from 100 percent sure, as Swagger has been booked really strong going into this and a loss may kill his momentum.
One thing is certain, and that is that the match has a lot of potential given the proven credentials of both of these guys in the ring.
What I can see happening is maybe WWE delving into Eddie Guerrero territory by having Del Rio get Swagger intentionally disqualified.
The referee gets knocked out along with Coulter, Del Rio retrieves the crutch of his friend Ricardo Rodríguez and lines up to hit Swagger with it. He then realizes the referee is recovering, smacks it against the canvas, throws it to Swagger and collapses on the mat causing the disqualification.
It would be a nice tribute to Eddie, and it would also help motivate Swagger and Coulter's hatred towards immigrants "sneaking" their way to success, naturally setting up a gimmick match at Extreme Rules. This also protects Swagger's momentum and gives Del Rio the cheap pop for his antics after a strong match.
That is how I would book it; what the WWE decides on is a different matter.
Winner: Del Rio (Still champion by DQ)
Time: 23:00 (With entrances/video package)
Projected rating: ***1/2
First things first, why is this not the main event? There are numerous reasons this shouldn't be the main event.
- It was the main event last year; give someone else a chance.
- It is not as intriguing as last year.
- The WWE made a mistake last year not having Undertaker vs. Triple H close the show. The fact is that Undertaker has a proven track record over the last few years of stealing the show, and with CM Punk as his dance partner, nothing is likely to come close to being able to follow his match. The crowd would be too spent to invest in anything else properly.
- CM Punk has been the WWE's workhorse for the past two years. He was the WWE champion for 434 days. He puts on consistently great matches and deserves a chance to main event WrestleMania this year.
- Fans in general are more interested in this match than a predictable rematch from last year.
- It is perfectly feasible that the match involving The Shield could be better, especially if they alter the stipulation to falls count anywhere.
That being said, this match still has a lot of significance, mainly due to the Raw segment last week.
John Cena cut a promo saying that The Rock cannot beat him, that he beat himself at last year's event. There was a slight heelish edge to Cena in that segment.
I'm not saying he will turn heel—he probably won't—but the whole dynamic of the match changed with that excellently worked segment from Raw.
I was dead against this match before that segment, and I still am in principle. I just dislike it a little less. But now I feel like I can watch it without falling asleep. The possibility of foul play by Cena and the fact that The Rock is scheduled for Extreme Rules makes this match a little less predictable.
Sure, Cena has around an 80 percent chance of winning, but if he does win, how will he win? Will it be clean, like I am inclined to believe? Or will he resort to any means necessary and beat the Rock?
If The Rock wins, will Cena attack him after the match?
There is plenty to get your teeth into, even if the outcome does turn out like expected.
I feel that the quality of this match should be better than last year's; after all, The Rock has wrestled two more matches since then.
How I would book it
Cena hits The AA for the second time in the match, and The Rock kicks out. Cena stares into space in disbelief.
Cena then has an argument with the referee over the count. As The Rock gets to his feet, Cena "accidentally" shoves Rock into the official as a counter to The Rock Bottom.
A look of inner turmoil shows on Cena's face; he steps out of the ring and grabs The Rock's title. A shot to the head of The Rock with the belt resonates worldwide and perhaps signals the biggest heel turn since Hulk Hogan joined the NWO. An attitude adjustment seals the match, and as Cena leaves the ring, he does his signature hand gesture to The Rock's prone body.
Would he actually turn heel following that? It may not be enough to cement it in totality, and he may remain face, but it would show an edge that many fans want to see. It could be a short-lived heel turn, but it would pull in the viewers! Or they can make him a full-on heel. Either way the fans are winners.
How WWE will likely book it
Cena wins cleanly.
A plea to The Rock
As much as I am a supporter of The Rock and appreciate his worth to the WWE, I would be naive to suggest that he isn't a shadow of his former self.
Gone is The Rock we once knew, replaced by the characters he plays in his action movies.
His once sharp, cocky and creative character has been shelled in favour of the action hero with the gravelly voice, endless pandering and overall lack of creativity.
We don't want G.I. Joe or Hobbs in the WWE; we want The Rock. You know, the jabroni-beating, pie-eating, trail-blazing, eyebrow-raising son of a gun who took the WWE to new heights back in the day.
When was the last time Dwayne Johnson cut a real "Rock promo"? I'd probably say the night he returned in 2011, because let's face it, we haven't really seen The Rock since. Its like a shell of the former entity that was The Great One.
This is not meant to disrespect Dwayne Johnson; he is still mildly entertaining and deserves to come and leave as he pleases after what he has done for the WWE (except when he is the WWE champion in the run up to WrestleMania), but he could be so much more.
At the moment, it's like watching a nostalgia act, and that is what The Rock is relying on: his prior run with the company, which is how people remember him and why they still support him regardless of the quality of what he does (which, as I say, is still good).
In all due respect, that is fine. But The Rock is better than that, surely?
Winner: John Cena
Time: 35:00 (With entrances/video package)
Projected rating: ***3/4
Okay, I know this match isn't official yet, but I have a feeling it will happen at the event. I certainly hope so.
AJ Lee is one of the best women's wrestlers in the WWE. You probably know that, but for any doubters, the evidence is in the video, showing just how talented she and Naomi are in the ring.
Kaitlyn has come on leaps and bounds in the ring since becoming champion, and she needs a good opponent to work with.
Therefore, the reasoning behind this match is pretty self-explanatory: have a good match between two Divas who have actually had some sort of feud coming into the event.
They can certainly deliver, and I am going with AJ Lee to capture the title, as she is by far the most over Diva currently in the WWE. Expect her to win dirty if she does come out victorious.
Winner: AJ Lee (New champion)
Time: 9:00 (With entrances)
Projected rating: **
First things first: Please, WWE, make this falls count anywhere.
As a standard six-man tag match, this should be good, but with the falls count anywhere stipulation, it could be brilliant. The WrestleMania card needs more than one gimmick match for balance, after all.
The Shield showed what they could do at TLC in a six-man TLC match, and they stole the show. This could do the same.
They could battle throughout the huge stadium, backstage, throw each other off the enormous WrestleMania set. It would be a car wreck, and it would be awesome to watch.
As far as The Shield go, they have been superb ever since they debuted. Unlike the Nexus, each man has a personality, can go in the ring and has a well-developed, distinct personality. They deserve to be in the penultimate match.
As, of course, do Orton, Sheamus and Big Show, still three of the biggest names in the business. I must admit, however, that I find Sheamus one of the most annoying people on the roster in his babyface role.
Apart from that, the talk going into the match centers on the potential heel turn of Randy Orton, something that has taken far too long to happen.
If there ever was a design for the perfect heel, it would look a bit like Orton. His heel work when he was feuding with HHH back in 2009 is among the best you'll ever see. The babyface gimmick just doesn't suit him at all, and really, he has been wasted over the last two years.
So I think and hope that he will turn on his team here, preferably costing them the match. RKO'ing Sheamus or Big Show after the match wouldn't be enough (he's done similar before to Sheamus), and seeing as he is apparently banned from punting, that is out of the question, too.
By turning at the end of the match and costing his team the victory, Orton cements himself as an exploiter whose phony words of unity were part of a bigger plot to screw his teammates and fans.
He shouldn't join The Shield; Orton is a loner and doesn't need accomplices. Hopefully, the WWE will relent on the ban of the punt for one night (at least) and maybe let him put an exclamation point on the turn after the match by hitting Big Show with it.
But as I say, this match needs to be stripped of any rules or limitations. Let The Shield shine and put together one of the most epic WrestleMania multi-man matches of all time.
Winners: The Shield
Time: 27:00 (With entrances/video package)
Projected rating (given falls count anywhere stipulation): **** (else: ***1/4)
If this isn't the match of the night, then something went badly wrong. This match pits quite possibly the best all-round wrestler in the WWE against the performer who has stolen the show for the past six years.
Undertaker is arguably the most-loved WWE superstar of all time, and he has few matches left. The WWE needs to make the most of him while it can, and putting him in the main event is the obvious way to do this.
These two have made the feud very personal in recent weeks, with CM Punk using the death of Undertaker's long-time manager Paul Bearer to get under The Deadman's skin. He has thrown the legendary urn around like a baseball and tipped the contents all over a wounded Undertaker.
Anyone with any doubts about Undertaker's fitness or Punk's health should stop worrying; these two will deliver, they always have.
I expect this match to rival Undertaker's matches with Shawn Michaels from a few years ago, and they were among the best of either man's career. No matter what Punk says about Undertaker not being his dream opponent, there is no better match on the card than this, and Punk should feel privileged to face Undertaker at all, let alone at WrestleMania (as anyone should).
Do I think Punk will break the streak? Not at all. Do I think Punk will come out of this match better than when he went in? Absolutely.
If I were the WWE, I would have a spot where Punk has Undertaker beat but there is no referee to make the count. Following this, have him hit Undertaker over the head with the urn and continually assault him on the floor with it (like he did to Kane).
I would also advise getting Paul Heyman involved in the match in some capacity, even if he doesn't accompany him to the ring. Heyman should be willing to do anything to help Punk end the streak, regardless of any injuries sustained in the earlier match,
At the end of the match, they could do a spot where Punk opens the urn and gets engulfed with smoke blinding him, or simply have Undertaker use it to gain retribution.
Punk is apparently taking well-deserved time off following this match, whereas Undertaker will be appearing in London later in April on SmackDown!, and so it seems that Undertaker will write Punk out of the storylines for the time being.
This would be the best possible way to end WrestleMania, with hopefully one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time: Punk vanquished but glorified, and the streak intact.
Hopefully he'll defend it next year against Cena.
Time: 38:00 (With entrances/video package)
Projected rating: ****1/2
I understand the frustration a lot of people have had with the card for this show, as I have been feeling the same way. It can be argued that the three main event matches are predictable and that the rest of the card hasn't got much going for it in terms of build and excitement.
However, in a way I would rather go into WrestleMania expecting less, because then I'll be pleasantly surprised if it's even remotely good.
If WrestleMania had had a great build with lots of unpredictable and intriguing matches on the card, I would have expected more, and as a result the best that could happen would be me being satisfied at the end.
Despite the card for this event, it has a lot of potential. Let's face it, apart from three matches, last year's WrestleMania was a flop, but people still view it positively because of those matches.
Despite how predictable HHH vs. Lesnar might turn out to be, does anyone doubt that it'll be incredible to watch as a match?
Sure, the build for Undertaker vs. Punk has been perhaps too focused on the urn, but it has made the match personal, and you have to believe that these two will deliver on a grand scale.
Twice in a lifetime, Rock vs. Cena II; it doesn't matter what you call it, because the result is pretty much set in stone. But if Cena turned heel, wouldn't that be one of the all-time great WrestleMania moments?
Apart from a couple of matches, this card has the potential to make this one of the all-time best WrestleManias. The WWE also has the capability to make it one of the worst of all time.
But it's good to know that there is potential. So here is my advice to you:
- Don't be a critic.
- Don't over think things.
- Don't expect much.
That way, the WWE would have to fail on a major scale to disappoint you.
Watch it as the fan you were when you first watched WrestleMania.