WrestleMania XXVI – The Anticipation Has Me In A Submission Hold!!!
2.24pm GMT. Sunday 28 March 2010. Mere hours from the spectacular that is WrestleMania XXVI, and I am watching the WWE Championship match from the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania. To say I am watching for enjoyment is obvious, but I am also watching to remind myself of the hype that I should expect when I sit in front of my uncle’s wall-mounted HD television at midnight. The anticipation is bringing both a smile to my face and raising the hopes that I expect tonight to live up to. In what I expect to be a vain attempt at relinquishing that anticipation I am going to throw some extremely late predictions into the mix.
Money in the Bank Ladder match; This year WrestleMania aims to make history right from the get go, by increasing the number of participants in its seemingly trademark opening contest, Money in the Bank, to the large figure of ten. For the past three years this contest has seen almost the same competitors battle it out for, to borrow a line from Michael Cole, “the golden briefcase”. Kane, Kofi Kingston, Shelton Benjamin (this year makes him six for six in MITB appearances), among a few others. This year though, WWE creative have mixed it up by including some of the next generation of superstars, with Drew McIntyre and the “All American American” Jack Swagger being the most prominent. Now to say the winner of this match is unpredictable is a huge understatement, but I’ll give it a go. Based solely on the hype and push both superstars have been given over the past twelve months, this match should go to either Kofi Kingston or Drew McIntyre. There is one problem with this theory, however. McIntyre is still very much in the developmental stage in his career, and on top of that holds the Intercontinental Championship, therefore I don’t think he will be a huge part of the final moments of this match. Instead, I need to take you back to the last ever episode of ECW. Christian was defeated in the brand’s finale match, and I feel has not received enough of a reward for his year-plus efforts as their champion. This is why I see Christian vs. Kofi at the top of the ladder at the culmination of this match, and it may be a slightly overzealous thing to try and predict how one of these men will defeat the other, but if Christian is victorious it should be due to a badly timed Trouble in Paradise from the top of the ladder on the part of Kingston. Slightly unlikely, but isn’t that what WrestleMania is all about; unpredictability and making moments.
CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio; From Money in the Bank to a match featuring its previous two-year victor and his Straight Edge Society battling one of the most innovative and high-flying superstars to grace WWE in the last decade. This feud seems to have developed from nothing, which is why it is likely to feature early in the night. Despite this, it does make me wonder what Mysterio would truly be losing if he joined Punk’s society. His fan base seems to have recently quietened in my eyes, and he is in need of a new gimmick or at least a heel turn. Honestly, it has been eight years since “the Master of the 619” joined the ranks of WWE and he is yet to have a heel turn. Maybe this is because of his marketability towards the WWE’s younger fans, but I don’t think he has a strong enough fan base in 2010 to warrant a victory against Punk. On the other hand, Punk is doing exactly the same thing that Randy Orton was doing this time last year and developing a defiant into a serious force. This leads me to believe that Punk will leave Arizona with the win, and most likely through the interference of his Straight Edge Society. Look for the rematch in a month’s time.
WWE Unified Tag Team Championship match – ShowMiz vs. John Morrison & R-Truth; It seems to me that this match is as much about the Unified Tag Team Championship as last year’s WrestleMania was about featuring the aforementioned titles in its main show. Instead, I see this match as a brief revisit to The Miz and Morrison’s feud, and effectively taking the slot that the Divas match usually does at most PPVs, bringing the crowd down so the next contest can bring them back to their feet. I expect this contest to last all of ten to fifteen minutes, and result in a short spell of dominance from either team. I am pinning the Big Show as the man who will gain the victory against a much overpowered R-Truth whilst The Miz and Morrison are preoccupied with each other on the outside of the ring.
Triple H vs. Sheamus; Sheamus: A superstar with so much arrogance that he could easily be compared to his opponent as he was in the late 1990s. Triple H: A superstar with a huge number of World Championships under his belt, and so many ties into the McMahon family that he is just as guaranteed to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. The story behind this match seems to me that Sheamus wants to make a name for himself by taking on the WWE’s biggest star in the past decade and coming out of the other side victorious. Seems fair enough, but why would to do that against somebody who failed in their very own attempt to dethrone the Ultimate Warrior in his first ever WrestleMania? The simple reason is this. With Shawn Michaels taking on the Undertaker, Triple H has no partner, and until Elimination Chamber, no reason to be involved in the year’s biggest spectacular except for his experience. I see this match as a turning point in the WWE: The first step for Sheamus and the many other new superstars who have emerged in the past year into taking the spotlight from those who have spent the last decade in it. Triple H, Shawn Michaels, the Undertaker, and to some extent John Cena and Randy Orton, are all household names for a reason. They all took the spotlight from those who preceded them and they all propelled themselves on the biggest stage, WrestleMania. So what seems like a badly built storyline at first glance is in fact something which has been on the horizon since Sheamus shocked the WWE Universe with his victory over Cena at TLC: Tables, Ladders, Chairs. I am predicting the first step into the new generation from Sheamus in this one, via that vicious axe kick out of nowhere. Game over.
Street Fight – Bret Hart vs. Mr. McMahon; This should be one of the most anticipated matches of the last twelve years. Instead, I am left with an image of what will happen even before the event begins. I take you back to WrestleMania 23, Shawn Michaels versus Mr. McMahon. This was the complete annihilation of the owner of WWE at the hands of Mr. WrestleMania. What leads me to think Hart will do exactly the same to McMahon is that it has taken the WWE twelve years to get “The Hitman” to agree to come back. He has no charisma and seemingly no wrestling ability left, and it is amazing how WWE creative can book this match. It looks good on paper, but if you look at both competitors you see a disaster in the making. Neither man has wrestled a full match in at least five years. I am throwing it out there that McMahon is guaranteed to lose. All that there is to look forward to in this match is the potential of some interference from the Hart Dynasty and perhaps a surprise from McMahon. Enjoy the weaponry violence.
Randy Orton vs. Ted DiBiase vs. Cody Rhodes; A match with young blood is needed after the grudge match which will have preceded. With the only other three matches on the card being of more significance, this is almost guaranteed to be next. So the story is this: Randy Orton and his Legacy dominate WWE for just over twelve months, only to see some friction develop in the late months of 2009. Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase then start to turn on their mentor through a series of Orton-esque mind games, costing “the Viper” the WWE Championship in the process. This leads to the imminent break-up of the Legacy and a triple threat match at the grandest stage. Enter tonight. Triple threat matches are never easy to predict, and you can never truly be sure of the victor until it happens. Tonight’s triple threat is in no way an exception. Each man has a case for winning this match. Randy Orton is rapidly rebuilding a face image after almost two years as an excellent heel, DiBiase is very quickly making a name for himself as a heel, and Rhodes is looking to take the spotlight away from his partner and Orton. The match is likely to pan out with a series of double team attacks to Orton in the early going, with an eventual turn on Rhodes from DiBiase. This will lead both men to forget about Orton and open the match up from there on in. As for a victor in this match, I can see a series of miscommunications from Rhodes and DiBiase leading to a couple of swift RKO’s and a punt to Rhodes before Orton gains the victory.
Career vs. Streak – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker; If there was one match on this card which could top anything you put before it, it is this one. Two WrestleMania legends with a wealth of credentials to prove them the true icon of WrestleMania. Last year’s match between the two was so awe inspiring that it made The Rock versus Hollywood Hogan at WrestleMania X8 look amateurish. You might be thinking to yourself right now that it could be impossible to outperform last year’s effort, but throw in a no disqualification stipulation and the risk of “HBK’s” potential retirement, on top of “the Deadman’s” prestigious 17-0 streak, and you have a match the likes of which there could be nothing more important for either legend. Despite this, however, I am not torn at who I want to emerge victorious. I am one of the few who believe that the Undertaker is ready to let go of the streak (feel free to disagree with what I grant to be a big statement). The truth is that both men have achieved everything possible in their careers, and the Undertaker’s impressive streak will never be beaten if it does end. On the other hand, Michaels has nothing left to achieve and could retire and have no real regrets. This is a match which will tarnish the final step in one of these two superstars’ careers, and one which I feel will go to Shawn Michaels. His dedication to the WWE has led me to believe that he is in fact deserving of ending the streak, and both of these legends will leave with careers of the fullest achievement. The Undertaker with his 17-1 streak and Michaels having accomplished everything he possibly could in his amazing career.
World Heavyweight Championship match – Chris Jericho vs. Edge; The first of the two heavyweight championships to be defended is likely to be the World Heavyweight Championship since it has a weaker storyline in comparison with RAW’s Championship match. The story for this feud is a classic case of face versus heel. The face being Edge, a superstar who has made his miraculous return to action after several months of injury; the heel being Chris Jericho, the man who is the self-proclaimed “best in the world at what he does” and the superstar who claims to have been the driving force behind the two enemies’ previous Unified Tag Team Championship title reign. Most of these feuds usually have a happy ending, which suggests that Edge will have the victory. However, this feud has been so focused on the typical structure for a World title match that there has to be a spanner in the works to make this a more interesting match. I have been a long time Jericho fan, and I don’t feel like a whole WrestleMania feud should revolve around one simple phrase, “spear”. Jericho is usually more devious and something seems like it could happen during the match to remind the WWE Universe of this. Interference will not likely play a part, but instead a match of epic proportions between two talented superstars, showcasing the talents of both, should be the outcome. Whether or not the Spear or the Codebreaker will prevail is something I would like to think is on a fine line, but I can see a shocking outcome in that Jericho will leave his second WrestleMania in a row victorious.
WWE Championship match – Batista vs. John Cena; Hollywood, California. WrestleMania 21. John Cena versus John “Bradshaw” Layfield. The day when John Cena shot to the top of WWE, and leapfrogged over a superstar who had, on that very same night, achieved a similar feat at the hands of Triple H, Batista. At least this is Batista’s depiction of that night’s events. Now jump forward to Hall of Fame night, one night before the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania. Stone Cold Steve Austin gives his Hall of Fame speech, and in the process hands the torch off to John Cena. As of this moment, Cena was officially the new face of World Wrestling Entertainment. Now look back to Elimination Chamber, one month ago. John Cena wins the WWE Championship, only for Mr. McMahon to confront him moments later and announce his immediate opponent as Batista. Batista then goes on to defeat Cena and solidify his place in the main event of WrestleMania. This was the moment Batista set both himself and Cena into the same lane on the Road to WrestleMania and on a collision course to culminate a previously indirect five year feud.
Now, back to March 28, 2010. Eight matches have been contested and there is one left, featuring two of the biggest stars in WWE today and the most prestigious prize in sports entertainment, the WWE Championship. The two superstars enter the ring and stare each other out for the tense moment before the bell rings. The crowd anticipating who will throw the first punch, who will gain the momentum, and who will be the victor. Expect fireworks in this match, two powerhouse superstars colliding and no focus but to be at the top of the mountain. I expect a back and forth match, with no interference. The winner depends on one question which WWE creative have had to ask themselves: Do we leave Cena at the mountain top where he has been for the past five years, or do we give Batista the push he has been looking for all this time? My guess is the torch will remain with John Cena. Batista has been on his way out of WWE for some time and sadly lacks the charisma which Cena has down to a tee. Before I am accused of a biased view on this match, I want to point out that I am a fan of neither of these superstars. I feel Batista lacks charisma, and I feel Cena has a lack of variety in his move set. However, I look at this as the final match between the two as a main event and it wouldn’t be right to change the face of a PG WWE from a superstar who epitomises the era.
So there it is, 4.54pm GMT. All predictions for WrestleMania have been made and I scroll back to the top of this article to see if I have done what I set out to do. I set out to take control of the anticipation I was feeling for tonight’s event, and I can safely say I have only managed to take that anticipation to new heights. I sit here almost seven hours from the big event knowing full well that tonight is going to be spectacular, and on that note I shall leave you and allow you to prepare for tonight in whatever way you usually do. I for one will be preparing my alcohol for the commentary drinking games.
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