As March begins, wrestling fans around the world eagerly begin the trek on the ‘road to WrestleMania.’ This year’s offering from World Wrestling Entertainment’s sports-entertainment extravaganza on March 28 includes match-ups that are new and fresh, pulling away from the rather stale we’ve-seen-this-before feeling of seeing the same matches every week on Raw or Smackdown.
This year’s Super-Bowl-of-professional-wrestling boasts not one but four main events. Fresh off a Royal Rumble victory in January, Edge challenges former tag-team partner Chris Jericho for the World Heavyweight Championship, Smackdown’s main event title.
The main event for the Raw brand’s title is John Cena challenging ‘the Animal’ Batista for the WWE Championship. In a pay-per-view environment, this match has only happened once before: SummerSlam 2008, not including the 10-second squash match at Elimination Chamber. This time, the WWE Championship is on the line. ‘The Animal’ won their 2008 match-up and stole the WWE Championship in their short match last month. Will John Cena finally gain the upperhand and regain his championship?
The other two match-ups do not involve championships, but are high-profile matches that have enough to offer to not need a world championship on the line. WWE Hall of Famer Bret “Hitman” Hart will face Mr. McMahon in a match that has been anticipated since the 1997 Survivor Series, the event that featured a legitimate incident where McMahon double-crossed Hart and awarded the WWF Championship to Shawn Michaels. This has has become known as ‘the Montreal Screwjob,’ and 12 years later, Bret Hart makes his return to competitive action in a WWE ring.
The other main event is surrounded by even more anticipation and suspense, as the Undertaker defends his legendary undefeated-at-WrestleMania streak (17-0) against Shawn Michaels. The two met at last year’s WrestleMania in a match that was named match of the year by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. This time around, Michaels has a second choice to end ‘the streak,’ but puts his career on the line. If Michaels loses, he must retire (or most likely just take a long vacation).
The undercard includes the annual “Money in the Bank” ladder match, where eight superstars compete to retrieve a briefcase hanging high above the center of the ring. The winner and retriever of the briefcase receives a title shot at the time of their choosing. The confirmed participants so far include Christian, Kane, M.V.P., Shelton Benjamin, Dolph Ziggler, and Jack Swagger. Christian looks to be the favorite out of this group, but there are still two spots open. John Morrison and C.M. Punk both lost in qualifying matches, which leaves less options. Potential final entrants include William Regal, Ezekiel Jackson, Kofi Kingston, and Evan Bourne.
One unconfirmed-but-speculated match may involve Unified Tag Team Champions The Miz and Big Show defending their titles, possibly against the Hart Dynasty. With no storylines in progress, look for this or a similar tag team match to be the ‘dark match’ (unbroadcasted match) to start the event. Rey Mysterio and Triple H have been teasing separate storylines with C.M. Punk and Sheamus, respectively, so look for these matches to be added to the undercard.
WrestleMania can be seen on pay-per-view on through most cable providers, and for readers in the western Massachusetts area, will be shown at Maximum Capacity in Chicopee for an $8 entrance fee. Maximum Capacity is also hosting an Elite Wrestling Riot show at 4 p.m. EWR is an independent wrestling promotion and the main event will feature former ECW champion and WWE superstar Justin Credible. For only $25 fans can get a day full of wrestling, including ringside seats to the indie show and entry to the WrestleMania viewing.