Finally, WrestleMania season has arrived, and this Sunday, we will see WWE's yearly spectacular emanating from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The build for this year's WrestleMania in my estimation has been superior to the previous two years, and I think this card looks a lot stronger than that which we were given this time last year for WrestleMania.
This WrestleMania has been the subject of some unfounded criticism on this site as of late, and I am warming to the belief that there is no pleasing some wrestling fans.
I have even read in some places that people do not think this WrestleMania will reach the standard of last year's event. That is ridiculous, quite frankly.
Last year's WrestleMania was perhaps one of the worst WWE have ever produced. Going into the event, the matches we were looking forward to were Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon, Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho vs. Edge, Triple H vs. Sheamus and perhaps the Money In the Bank ladder match.
At the event, only three of those matches really delivered. This year, looking at the card I see seven matches which I am looking forward to, and all of those, with the exception of Lawler vs. Cole, should be great wrestling matches.
This year's event has more star power than last year's event as well, we have seen the returns of The Rock, Steve Austin and Trish Stratus. In fairness, we have no Chris Jericho or Batista this year but I think that is well and truly made up for.
The Rock on his own could arguably make this year's WrestleMania better than last year's, I'm just saying...
My message then is simple, don't b*tch and moan about the event before you see it, sure it is not perfect but so far in 2011, WWE has been better than it was in 2010.
Therefore, there is no reason to believe that this year's event will not blow the last two years out of the water.
So, on to the predictions:
I will predict these matches in the order of which I expect the matches will be played out at the event.
This contest is surely a terrific way to set the night off with a bang. We could possibly see a Rock promo to kick off the event, but I think the in-ring action needs to start here.
Last year at WrestleMania, Triple H Vs. Sheamus was one of the three matches which delivered. This year, we see the Celtic Warrior defending his newly-won US championship against a man beloved by the IWC.
Sheamus is a terrific wrestler for his size, and his timing in the ring is nigh-on perfect as noted by WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart recently in an interview.
This guy has all the tools and it has been ridiculous watching him lose week in week out as 'King' Sheamus.
Finally however, someone in WWE worked out how to use their brain and got rid of the stupid 'King' gimmick which over the years has done nothing for any superstar who wins the King Of The Ring tournament. It should long ago have been scrapped.
Sheamus is now back to his old self, and Daniel Bryan is as technically gifted in the ring as anyone in the business; therefore, this match could well steal the show if given 10+ minutes at the event.
I do not expect to see Sheamus lose his title here, but I do expect to see him pushed to the limit on Sunday.
Winner: Sheamus (Still Champion)
Projected Rating (***)
The madness of WWE has finally infiltrated Michael Cole. Last year at this time, he was a reasoned individual who sat behind a desk and delivered reasonable commentary, usually in favour of face wrestlers.
A lot has changed in a year, because if we examine Cole now, it is clear that he has lost his mind. He is now a full-fledged heel. He supports heels and is actually friends with heels such as Jack Swagger and the WWE Champion The Miz, to whom he refers almost as a son.
He now gets involved physically with matches, applying the patented AnCole Lock to anyone who gets in his way.
This all started last year on NXT when Cole developed a dislike for NXT rookie Daniel Bryan. Within a few weeks, Cole turned heel and got involved in a physical altercation with Bryan.
Over the coming months, Cole's heelish antics became more pronounced, revealing his support of other heel wrestlers such as CM Punk.
Over the last two months, Cole's actions have doubled in intensity. He has assaulted Jerry Lawler and JR on live television, he has applied the AnCole Lock to pretty much anyone who wrestles Jack Swagger and in general is now perhaps the most despised heel in the company.
I absolutely love it. I think it is a terrific transformation which has turned a dull corporate man into one of the most entertaining people on the roster.
This Sunday, his issue with Jerry Lawler comes to head in a match between the two overseen by unbiased (yeah, right...) referee Steve Austin, who thwarted Cole's attempt to get JBL as referee.
We all know that Cole is getting his ass kicked Sunday night, topped off with a Stunner and a beer bath.
JR will also likely be calling the match and all matches following this one, as the man himself has now confirmed he will be calling some matches at WrestleMania. That alone should make the event better.
This is not going to be a good match, it is there for pure entertainment and I believe it is filling the role of Vince Vs. Bret from WrestleMania 26, except that this should be more entertaining.
This match is all about comedy, and that is why I am pleased to see it at WrestleMania. It has also had one of the best builds heading into WrestleMania and so hopefully will not let us down.
Winner: Jerry Lawler
Projected Rating (*)
This match is another which has all the potential to steal the show if given the time. We have one of the best Mexican wrestlers in the world facing a pure American-style wrestler. Matches like this always deliver.
The build for the match has been very solid and the feud really kicked off when Rey broke Rhodes' nose, forcing him to have kayfabe reconstructive surgery. Now Rhodes has to wear a 'hideous' mask to the ring, consequently ruining his dashing looks.
Over recent weeks, we have seen Cody wrestle matches in a full suit and I wonder if this will continue at WrestleMania? I kind of like it, it just adds something new to the product.
Rhodes has also been using his mask as a weapon during matches as well, and we are sure to see that again during this match. Why it is legal is another story.
Quite a few of the matches at this year's event are unpredictable, and this is one of them. I honestly cannot see who to go with here, because Rhodes has been booked so strongly heading into the match.
However, with the rise comes the fall, and so I expect to see Rey yet again overcome the odds with a roll-up victory.
Winner: Rey Mysterio
Projected Rating (***)
If I had been in charge of booking these wrestlers for WrestleMania, I would not have booked this match, that's for sure.
I would have booked Kane & Big Show Vs. Santino & Kozlov Vs. Gabriel & Slater in a triple threat tag match for the titles. Then I would have booked Barrett Vs. Kingston for the Intercontinental title separately.
However, we have what we have, so we might as well get on with it. The match could be decent if given the time, and it is yet another really difficult one to call.
If you are booking smart, you would have Corre go over here, as a win for the other team means very little, given they were thrown together and could hurt The Corre's momentum. On this occasion, I think WWE will make the right choice.
It will be all right while it lasts, just nothing special.
Winners: The Corre
Projected Rating (**)
Wouldn't we all have rather seen Ziggler Vs. Morrison and Lay-Cool involved in a divas championship match featuring Trish Stratus, with Snooki either not at the event or in someone's corner?
This match is by far the most dull and predictable of the night, and I honestly cannot see the point to it.
It will be good to see Stratus wrestle and if Snooki's involvement is kept minimal, the match may be watchable. The babyfaces win here, obviously.
Winners: Team Stratus
Projected Rating (*1/2)
This one of the most anticipated matches on the card. The build for the match has been decent, the outcome is unpredictable and these two stand a real chance of stealing the show.
Last year, Punk wrestled Rey Mysterio in a match which could have been so much better had it been given the time. This year, the straight edge warrior faces top babyface Randy Orton in a match which is viewed as a main event of the night.
This year, Punk's match should not have any time issues; that's for sure.
Both men have been sadistic on the road to WrestleMania. Orton has punted every Nexus member in the skull, whereas Punk has assaulted Orton's knee with a wrench and intimidated his wife.
This feud is very personal, and I cannot wait for this match.
Many people seem to think Orton is winning this match, but something tells me otherwise. Punk got beaten easily at last year's event and could really use this win to cement himself and continue the feud.
So I see two scenarios:
The first is that Orton wins clean.
The second is that Punk wins dirty possibly with outside interference from a new Nexus member (possibly Kong?). I think Punk and Kong would be a dynamic duo, and with Kong being spotted in the Atlanta area, don't write this off.
So, I am going to say WWE will shock us somehow with a Punk victory.
Winner: CM Punk
Projected Rating (***1/2)
This match has received the second-best build heading into WrestleMania. Alberto Del Rio is wrestling in his first WrestleMania, his debut, in a world title match. That shows the faith WWE has in Del Rio.
Since he burst onto the scene over the summer, Del Rio has mastered his gimmick as a rich and ruthless Mexican aristocrat perfectly. It got voted best gimmick of 2010. The man has everything it takes to be world champion.
On the other side of the ring is 11-time world champion Edge, who has done it all in WWE. He is one of the best performers in the business and had a terrific WrestleMania match against Chris Jericho at last year's event.
This match is yet another which could be a showstopper. You see now why I think this WrestleMania has so much potential?
I see this match being the shock of the night as after a grueling match featuring hijinks from Del Rio and Brodus Clay, Christian will turn on his tag team partner in pure jealousy and set up what has the ability to be the best feud of 2011 with Edge.
Its about time we saw Christian return as a heel and enter the main event; what a better place than WrestleMania?
Winner: Alberto Del Rio (New Champion)
This is another match which has recieved a lot of criticism from members of the IWC, and yet again it is completely unwarranted.
Would you honestly rather see Undertaker Vs. Wade Barrett or Undertaker Vs. Kane?
WWE has a lot to live up to when it comes to The Undertaker at WrestleMania due to his performances at the last four events. So he needs a top draw opponent: who better than The Game?
Triple H is a guy who has never really stolen the show at WrestleMania, but I think that will change Sunday night.
People reckon Undertaker will be limited during this match by his shoulder injury, and that the only reason this match is No Holds Barred is because WWE wants to play it safe with him.
Those people clearly don't really know Undertaker's qualities as a person. This is a man who has always given his all at WrestleMania, regardless of opponent or injury.
Undertaker will bring his best game Sunday night and with the No DQ rules we are going to see a slobberknocker (especially as JR is commentating!).
Expect to see signature moves, finishers and kickouts galore. But that is not all.
I also expect the involvement of Shawn Michaels.
After the segment on Raw this week, you have to believe Shawn will get involved. But how? If he attacks Undertaker, then surely that means he wants HHH to do something he couldn't.
If he attacks HHH, then you would have to think he would have to return for a feud with the game, but we all know he is retired.
My money is on him delivering Sweet Chin Music to both of them. What he does after that is anyone's guess.
I think though, that no matter what, Undertaker is winning here. It would make no sense to end the streak whatsoever, much less so against a man who is near retirement.
This is my pick to be match of the night.
When the Rock returned nearly two months ago and insulted John Cena during the best promo of this decade, The Miz was forgotten about.
This was a major problem for WWE, as they needed to shift some focus back to their champion.
They did this by having Miz take out Cena four weeks running and involve him with the Cena-Rock feud. This has worked somewhat, as Miz is certainly more relevant now.
In my estimation this match is the hardest to call of the night, along with Orton-Punk. This is because of two things: the involvement of The Rock, and what will happen to Miz if he loses.
I believe we are not going to see Miz emerge from WrestleMania as champion.
I think that during the course of the event we will see numerous segments with The Rock backstage after his opening promo.
I also expect the Miz-Cena match to be a solid encounter with no Rock presence. We will see Cena emerge victorious as the new WWE champion. It is after the match that the fireworks will start.
I predict that just as Cena is celebrating with his WWE title, The Rock's music will hit and he will cut another top-class promo at the top of the stage, during which a number of things could happen:
i) The Rock could congratulate Cena and shake hands with him in the ring. If that happens, WrestleMania XXVII is officially a failure.
ii) Secondly, he uses his power as host to make a WWE title match between himself and Cena, and wins the title, only to drop it on Raw the next night.
iii) The Rock hurls a barrage of insults at Cena before storming down to the ring and laying the Smacketh Down on his candy ass, culminating in a Rock Bottom and People's Elbow.
iv) Fourth, there is also the possibility of Miz retaining the title thanks to The Rock's interference during the match, which seems to be popular among the IWC.
To be honest, I don't mind as long as its not the first one. In an ideal world, Miz retains the title as in iv) and then he and Cena get their asses kicked by The Rock.
But as I say, as long as Cena and Rock are still enemies and Rock gets revenge on Cena, then I will be happy come the end of WrestleMania.
Who Should Win: The Miz (Still Champion)
Winner: John Cena (New Champion)
Projected Rating (***)