WrestleMania 29 will be about newcomers making their mark, about the future of WWE beginning right now.
Championships, streaks and careers are on the line. By looking back at trends and recent history, by assuming a balance between heels and faces winning, old champions retaining and new champions emerging, one can make confident picks about how this WrestleMania will play out.
Some matches will go as expected. Some are sure to surprise.
Starting with the pre-show and ending with the main event, here are the projected winners of all the announced WrestleMania 29 matches.
Winner: Wade Barrett
The WrestleMania pre-show will feature a battle for the Intercontinental title.
Wade Barrett won the championship back in December of last year. Even though his reign is now approaching the four-month mark, he hasn't had that many opportunities to defend it. He'll likely hold onto the belt for a little while longer.
There isn't a place for Barrett higher on the card right now.
His current spot is as good as any. Add to the fact that Miz was IC champ two champions back, and it looks like the Barrett Barrage will continue.
This clash of behemoths could be the catalyst for Ryback regaining the momentum he had before The Shield robbed him of it. Having him win is a return to dominance, making the incredible powerhouse once again unstoppable.
Mark Henry has been so destructive for so long now that a loss doesn't hurt him as much as it does Ryback.
If this battle follows the laws of the jungle, then the younger, hungrier beast should win out against the incumbent alpha male. Ryback needs a big win to change his career trajectory, and the prey doesn't get much bigger than Henry.
Winner: Tons of Funk and the Funkadactlys
The involvement of the Divas and the inclusion of the newly named Tons of Funk points to this being a comic-relief match. With so many emotional matches on the card, WWE is going to be looking for a palate cleanser—a short, silly bout to fill time.
If that's indeed the purpose of this match, it makes more sense for the good guys to prevail.
Expect a few athletic moves from the Funkadactyls, some cheating from the Bellas and the two big men to splash down on either Cody Rhodes or Damien Sandow. Sandow may one day be in major title matches at WrestleMania, but it appears his debut will end with him on his back.
Fandango's debut has been delayed again and again, leading to his first official match being at The Show of Shows. It should prove to be a successful one.
According to PWInsider (via WrestlingInc.com), word backstage is that "the idea at WrestleMania 29 is for Chris Jericho to make the Fandango character stronger."
That certainly sounds like Fandango winning. Chris Jericho is an established veteran whose legacy is intact. He's a part-timer who comes in and out and whose most recent duty seems to be making the younger guys look good. Fandango appears to be next on that list.
Winner: The Shield
The Shield has yet to lose. Its undefeated streak should extend beyond WrestleMania 29.
It feels too soon to have a band of foes take the group down. The trio has defeated superteams before, thanks to its cohesion and vicious, attacking style.
Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have the added benefit of their opposition imploding thanks to mutiny. Big Show, despite his willingness to join Sheamus and Randy Orton, is still a villain. Some fans believe it is Orton, though, who is the one most likely to turn on his team.
Orton is a much better fit as a heel and this would be one exciting time to have him turn. The Shield will then become the beneficiary of its opponent's dysfunction.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
If Jack Swagger hadn't been arrested for a DUI and marijuana possession (h/t Tmz.com), perhaps this would be his moment to dethrone Alberto Del Rio. One has to expect that some sort of punishment or demotion is coming his way eventually.
That makes Del Rio the recipient of good fortune.
Swagger's buzz has died down as well. The Zeb Coulter-Glenn Beck semi-feud has dissipated and has taken a backseat on Raw to the CM Punk and Undertaker story, among other feuds. That lack of momentum for Swagger means Del Rio's title reign should continue, at least until Dolph Ziggler cashes in his Money in the Bank contract.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
WrestleMania 29 should produce at least a few surprises. Fans may expect Triple H to get his revenge on Brock Lesnar, but this may be where WWE shocks us.
Triple H has been increasingly involved with the corporate, non-wrestling side of the business. He worked closely with WWE getting NXT at Full Sail University (h/t WrestleZone.com). He was the one who convinced Bruno Sammartino (h/t WrestlingInc.com) to enter the Hall of Fame.
With as promising as his post-wrestling career is, getting sent into retirement by a raging monster doesn’t sound all that bad.
The other thing is retirements in wrestling are about as permanent as stomach bugs. Perhaps his in-ring career is only over temporarily.
Some may say that Triple H’s ego will prevent him from losing three consecutive WrestleMania matches, but he may view it as a tribute to the business he loves. What better time to bow out then at The Showcase of the Immortals, the same way that his friends Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels did?
Winner: Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston
Team Hell No's reign has to end sometime, and it may be AJ Lee who ultimately does them in.
Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston debut as a team against a pair of champions who have rarely managed to stay on the same page. Predicting Ziggy and Biggy to win is not so much based on confidence in them but rather, a lack of confidence in Team Hell No staying together.
Bryan is sure to move on to singles competition at some point. Kane may be preparing for another run as the demented psycho.
Having Daniel Bryan's ex-girlfriend at ringside will open the door for distraction or underhandedness. It was AJ who cost Bryan his title at last year's WrestleMania. Expect that to happen for the second year in a row.
Betting against The Undertaker at WrestleMania isn't a wise move. He's faced two men at once, giants, icons and opportunists. Still, Undertaker has remained perfect at the event.
With as much as WWE has made The Deadman and CM Punk's story a personal one rather than one about the streak, it points to the fact that Undertaker will go 21-0. This will be the story of The Undertaker getting his revenge.
Punk may look good by getting close to victory, but he should end up with the same result as the 20 men before him.
Winner: John Cena
If there was one match fans had to bet on, it might be the WWE title match.
The Rock's part-time status, the long stretch John Cena has gone without a championship and WWE's focus on Cena's redemption make a Cena win feel inevitable. In WrestleMania WWE title matches (h/t TheHistoryofWWE.com), Cena is 4-2. The Rock is 0-3.
Having Cena return to championship status, to have the hero accomplish his goal, is the kind of story WWE has told before. Perhaps the company finds a way to tell it in a surprising way, but it should end with the same result—Cena saying, "The champ is here!"