The WWE WrestleMania 30 match card is set, but rumors of more Superstars making appearances linger heading into the pay-per-view.
Questions about whether CM Punk, The Rock and Sting will be in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday are the focus of recent backstage reports and Internet buzz. Insider insight into the build for Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker is a hot topic as well.
Which of these surprise appearances are most likely and which are just pipe dreams?
Picking apart the newest batch of WrestleMania-related rumors can help answer that question. "The Show of Shows" is sure to provide some unexpected moments, but don't count on that aforementioned trio of stars all being a part of the action.
The Best in the World
Just when talk of Punk had died down, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin planted the possibility of "The Second City Saint" making a comeback in fans' minds.
I'm telling you, I'm going to stick to my prediction that CM Punk is going to make his return at WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans. I made this prediction two months ago here on the show. It's been a long time, I think he's cooled his jets, he's got some rest, and I think it's time to get back to work. I don't see him participating in a match but it would be great to see him in a run-in to establish himself, to entrench himself immediately in a memorable and just a great moment, and I would say plant himself firmly in the middle of an angle, because he would be the angle, by attacking whoever he sees fit to attack or asserting his presence rather, whatever the case may be. But I see CM Punk coming back at WrestleMania 30.
One has to take notice of a hunch like this from someone who has spent so much time in the business and took his own abrupt hiatus years ago. The Honky Tonk Man also thinks Punk will be back soon.
Still, it sounds more like wishful thinking than anything else.
Word is that "there has been zero communication between CM Punk and WWE as of late," per Wrestling Observer Newsletter, via Nick Paglino of Wrestle Zone.
The smarter bet is for Punk to return, if he does so at all, before next year's WrestleMania. Why would he settle for a bit part when he can be one of the headliners as a special guest when WWE invades Santa Clara, Calif.?
Sting will be in New Orleans on WrestleMania weekend, but not at the big event itself it seems.
WrestleCon lists Sting as being a special guest for the wrestling convention on April 6. The autograph and photo-op session is likely the only chance fans will get to see him Sunday.
F4WOnline, via Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc., reports, "The people representing Sting in regards to his WrestleCon appearance were saying he was not scheduled for either WrestleMania XXX or RAW the next night..."
Some of Hulk Hogan's recent comments prevent that door from fully closing, though. Hogan spoke with RedEyeChicago.com about how he thinks WrestleMania's matches will play out. His most interesting prediction involves the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
He names Big E and Big Show as favorites, but also says, "But if something crazy happens like Sting or Ultimate Warrior show up, anything could happen."
That is sure to keep Sting fans from giving up on the idea of him making his WWE debut at "The Showcase of the Immortals." After all, there are still three spots left in the Battle Royal.
While Punk's run of seven straight WrestleManias (eight if you count him appearing as a gangster in John Cena's entrance), appears to be coming to an end, The Rock is likely to be a part of four of them in a row.
According to Wrestling Observer Newsletter, via Middleton of Wrestling Inc., "The impression given is that The Rock will be on the show in some form of a cameo, but whether it's live or taped isn't known."
This is the most feasible rumored appearance largely because of its format. If The Rock simply has to toss out a few catchphrases on camera and send in the clip to play at the Superdome, there's little reason to believe that can't happen.
He's gone the pre-taped route in the past.
Punk has distanced himself from the company. Sting hasn't officially signed with WWE. "The Great One", on the other hand, would likely be wrestling in New Orleans if not for a nasty injury he suffered against Cena last year.
The original plan, as The Rock told Peter Rosenberg, was for him to face Lesnar at WrestleMania 30, a match that fans may have to wait until 2015 to see. In the meantime, fans will apparently have to settle for a cameo.
Instead of tangling with "The Brahma Bull," Lesnar gets a crack at Undertaker's undefeated WrestleMania streak.
His power, athletic skill and previous record against Undertaker, should have made him an easy sell as a threat to that streak. The buildup has flopped, though, portraying Lesnar as overrun with fear. That hasn't sat well with some folks backstage.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter, via Middleton of Wrestling Inc., reports the following:
There are people within WWE who believe that Brock Lesnar should have been booked differently and as more of a threat to The Undertaker, since the only point Lesnar did anything to Taker was the go-home angle on RAW this week, and that was still a sneak up from behind distraction with the announcers calling Lesnar a coward.
There's little argument against this stance. Lesnar has been booked weakly, giving fans no reason to believe he can take Undertaker down at WrestleMania.
He has cowered from Undertaker and being the victim every time they met until he attacked Undertaker from behind on the March 31 Raw.
The match still promises to be a great one, but the hype hasn't been there.
It's too bad these people reportedly taking issue with the storyline weren't heard before this point. There's no time to fix the limping narrative now.
Only a few steps remain on the road to WrestleMania, word of big stars joining the journey still circulating.