The WWE will spend the next year preparing for WrestleMania 28. I thought it would be a fun time to take a look at event a year ahead of time and make my WrestleMania 28 card predictions based on this year’s show, past WrestleMania events, and the annual booking patterns of the WWE creative team.
Predicting a WrestleMania a year ahead of time is almost as difficult as filling out your March Madness brackets. Take a look at WrestleMania 26 a year ago for example. Sheamus, Ted DiBiase, Shawn Michaels, and Chris Jericho were all involved in high profile matches yet none of them even appeared live on the WrestleMania 27 broadcast.
On the flip side you have a guy like Alberto Del Rio who wasn’t even on the main WWE roster during last year’s event and wrestled in one of this year’s main-events. Even the biggest Jerry Lawler fan wouldn’t have predicted a gimmick match featuring the battle of the television announcers. The Miz was an afterthought in an undercard match and within a year was grappling with John Cena in the main-event in an unpredictable turn of events.
[adinserter block=”2″]What you can count on is that John Cena and Edge will be in the WWE world title pictures. They are every year. You can also count on a big match out of The Undertaker, although I am sure we will start seeing reports of retirement (we do every year right after WrestleMania). Randy Orton isn’t going anywhere and barring injury will have some kind of meaningful match on the show. And you can count on some big WWE star from the past to return for a short run ala The Rock and Bret Hart to remind ex-WWE fans that WrestleMania still exists.
So with this all said, let’s take a look at what are the most probable WrestleMania 28 matches one year before this great spectacle invades Miami. Keep in mind that these are all just predictions and should not be taken as fact or cited as a source in any kind of report.
The Rock vs. John Cena…WrestleMania 28 main-event. Well no big prediction here after Monday’s WWE RAW. The match is set and for the next year we can all keep our finger’s crossed that the wonderful WWE creative team doesn’t butcher this angle. So far not so good.
John Cena desperately needs a great match next year after the atrocity he offered up at 27. This will do it and put Cena in a different class of WrestleMania performers. Cena has had a few good matches with Triple H and Shawn Michaels but he has never had what I’d call a “WrestleMania Classic.” He’ll never get a better chance to accomplish this than against The Rock.
Backup plan – John Cena vs. The Undertaker…No Holds Barred Match. So what if The Rock gets hurt in training? The WWE needs a backup plan. Here is a rare WWE match that has never been offered up on the grand stage. It isn’t as if these two guys haven’t wrestled each other, they just haven’t wrestled many high profile matches. This match gives WrestleMania 28 something new, fresh, and potentially off the charts.
Before you criticize me for predicting anything John Cena is in would be off the charts, reflect back on the first time you heard Taker vs. Triple H announced for WrestleMania 27. Admit it, you thought it was going to disappoint. Whether it did or didn’t comes down to personal taste, but you can’t deny they busted their behinds out there. Cena and The Undertaker would do the same and give fans a potential WrestleMania classic.
I began writing this piece a few days ago and since my first draft, ironically Dave Meltzer reported on his podcast that this match was the actual backup plan if The Rock didn’t agree to wrestle.
Triple H vs. The Undertaker…Career vs. The Streak with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to predict this one. The way The Undertaker and Triple H match played out leaves the door wide open for a rematch. Triple H was seconds away from ending the streak before The Undertaker caught him for the win. Hunter hesitated at times during the match and in a rematch, I am sure he will vow not to relax for a second.
It is very possible that WrestleMania 28 will be the finale for The Undertaker. At his age and with injuries mounting, it is not likely he has many years left in the tank. The fans know it and he would go into the match as an underdog of sorts. The added intrigue of seeing if Shawn Michaels will count his friend’s shoulders down or take a cheap shot at the dead man could make whatever the finish of this match is, a very dramatic WrestleMania ending. I think this happens and I have no problem seeing it again.
Triple H cut a promo this past Monday on RAW setting up the rematch. Triple H said that whenever The Undertaker comes back that he will be waiting. They could do the rematch at SummerSlam which would allow the streak to remain in tact and Hunter to finally get a win over the dead man. At this rate I kind of think that is where this is going which may be the better option for those of us who want to preserve the streak.
Alternate Plan – The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar…No Holds Barred. Here we go again right? A lot of things have to fall into place to make this match happen which in reality continues to make this a long shot. One, Brock Lesnar needs to lose his next two fights. Two, The Undertaker needs to stay healthy or at least healthy enough for WrestleMania. Three, Dana White needs to reconsider his stance on Brock Lesnar wrestling. If Lesnar loses his next two fights, a WrestleMania could be possible. His current UFC contract could expire and Dana White may have no say in the matter.
The fact that Brock Lesnar is still doing interviews teasing the match tells me he is still on board and will attempt to get it done next year. He isn’t letting this feud die so why should I?
Sin Cara vs. Rey Mysterio…Mask vs. Mask. Who knows whether Sin Cara will be here next year, but right now he is the next hot star coming up the pike for the WWE. He will be going to the RAW roster which will theoretically keep him separated from Rey Mysterio for at least the short term.
Rey has been talking about leaving the WWE off and on for the last few years. This gives him a great out and who knows, maybe he takes a big bonus for dropping the mask. A lot of things have to happen (as with all of these matches) to make this one work but if there were one or two WrestleMania matches I would almost bank on seeing next year this would be one of them.
Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan…WWE championship. Is it likely? No. Is it possible? Did you think The Miz or Alberto Del Rio would be wrestling in a WWE world title match at WrestleMania one year ago? For a guy that wasn’t even on the broadcast this year it would be a huge leap for Bryan. However, if there is anyone that I think can get himself over during the course of the next year to make this happen it is him.
I think Randy Orton turning heel is inevitable. I also think that another WWE title run is also inevitable for the Viper. I think the disastrous main-event this year has taught the WWE a lesson and for whatever you think of Vince McMahon, he is not a dumb guy. He saw that he had two guys in his main-event that couldn’t put a good match together to save their lives. He also has to be very aware of the negative backlash coming out of the match with most fans feeling let down due to the weak WWE championship match. If there was ever a year for him to roll the dice with Bryan and guarantee a great main-event, it is next year.
This one is easy to make work. Daniel Bryan wins the Royal Rumble and boom gets the shot. Now Bryan isn’t exactly over as a top babyface right now but that is where Orton comes in. The cookie cutter babyface vs. the dastardly heel works almost every time and you have two of the best playing their respective roles in this one. I certainly wouldn’t look for a WWE title win from Bryan here, but I do expect him to get a big spot on next year’s WrestleMania. It doesn’t get much bigger than this.
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. CM Punk. Steve Austin hasn’t wrestled a match in ten years. Austin is retired but he has never said “never” when it comes to doing another match. Austin seems to like CM Punk a lot in recent interviews so the idea of him coming back to give Punk the rub really isn’t as farfetched as some people may think.
I am not a big CM Punk fan but he is a great heel. He is sneaky, smart, cunning, and very unlikable in a good way. Punk and Austin make perfect foils for one another. If it isn’t The Rock wrestling next year I definitely think it is Stone Cold. He has said that he thinks he has a match or two left in the tank, he isn’t getting any younger, so why not now?
A big hesitation in coming back appears to be Austin’s concerns about delivering a great match with the right opponent. Punk works a style that would make a less taxing match against Austin entertaining. Delivering Austin and The Rock on the same WrestleMania would put 28 on a whole other level. Austin certainly still looks great, so why not grab that last WrestleMania moment while he can?
[adinserter block=”1″]Alternate plan: Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk. Jericho left the WWE as a heel but the fans miss him and after Dancing with the Stars he is bound to get a big babyface reaction upon his return. Like Austin, who better to have him feud with than one of the most hated heels in the WWE, CM Punk?
I have heard enough interviews with Chris Jericho over the last few years to know that he takes his matches very seriously and that he is always aiming to steal WrestleMania. Granted, most guys probably are but he actually has the pull to request opponents and matches. I can’t imagine many other opponents more appealing other than CM Punk or maybe Daniel Bryan to try and get a WrestleMania classic out of.
The Big Show vs. Batista…WWE world heavyweight championship. Batista’s MMA hopes aren’t looking so good after Zuffa, LLC purchased Strikeforce. Unless he breaks through in Hollywood I would be surprised not to see the Animal back in the WWE for one last run. With the WWE light on star power from the main-roster, the timing wouldn’t be better to see the big man bring it at WrestleMania 28.
The Big Show is stale and on the downside of his career. Every once in awhile he can put a good match out there and I think he and Big Dave could do something good here. Batista can put over his “MMA skills” and The Big Show can put over his “boxing skills.” It sounds corny but it could work.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not expecting a WrestleMania classic. I just think Batista is coming back at some point and needs a big match at WrestleMania. I’d love to see him and Cena pick up where they left off in 2010 but Cena is already locked up against The Rock. If The Undertaker vs. Triple H goes down at SummerSlam, Triple H could be an interesting proposition as well.
The boxing vs. MMA and size matchup will probably be too much for the Chairman of the Board to pass up.
The Miz vs. Tough Enough 2011 winner…Grudge Match. Sorry Miz fans but The Miz isn’t hanging around at the top of the cards after this year’s WrestleMania performance. The Miz has some interesting possibilities next year but none better than wrestling the Tough Enough winner. The Tough Enough alum bullying around the new kid is a storyline that most wrestling fans can get behind.
Normally it would be a lot to ask of a Tough Enough winner to wrestle a semi-high profile match at WrestleMania, but Diva winners do it all of the time. Plus, most of this year’s Tough Enough competitors have wrestling backgrounds. The winner will likely be endorsed by Steve Austin who could wind up as the special referee or in the wrestler’s corner. They already planted the seeds on Monday so why not?
I don’t know who the winner will be but the match makes sense. The Miz could redeem himself after this year’s match and a new star could really break out with the right build up and Miz’s continued heel antics. Throw Austin into the mix and you have the potential for a real fun WrestleMania match. Especially if the winner turns out to be M Dogg 2o.
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