Sunday marks the 25th time in my lifetime that I will experience Super Bowl Sunday as a pro wrestling fan. WrestleMania will dominate popular culture and sports entertainment for 24 hours on Sunday. Chances are whether you are a wrestling fan or not, you have seen a piece of WrestleMania in your lifetime. The dream of an ambition promoter is now as much of a part of popular culture as the World Series and American Idol.
The anticipation for this year’s WrestleMania began last year. As the 25th edition of the big show, big things were expected by fans. Fans predicted shocking returns, dream matches, celebrity involvement, and a big celebration of 25 years of tradition. Unfortunately the rumors of Steve Austin wrestling, a Warrior vs. Vince match, and even an appearance by the Hulkster were all just rumors.
On paper, this year’s show is very disappointing. I was extremely critical of the lineup during the last few weeks of my radio show. When I think of WrestleMania I think of big, first-time main-events. This year’s show is the antithesis of that. This year’s lineup is a big wakeup call to the problems that the WWE have had in elevating young talent. It is definitely not a good thing when the main-event is a match we have seen several times in the last twelve months. With that said, let’s break down the top matches.
WWE Championship Match: Triple H vs. Randy Orton. If this match looks familiar, well you are right. Sadly, you could have stopped watching wrestling two years ago, turned it on yesterday, and not have missed a beat when it comes to this feud. To say I was disappointed when this match was confirmed as the main-event is an understatement. Now that the complaining is over, let’s take a look at the match itself.
I will say this about the match. The buildup has been pretty awesome at times. At other times, it has just been downright ridiculous. I’ll give credit where credit is due to the WWE writers and tell you that they have definitely done a great job on putting a new spin on such an old match. I am much more interested in the match now than I was five-weeks ago when the direction became obvious.
Triple H may be the best babyface of the decade. He has a lot of critics, but you cannot deny his talents as a sports entertainer. I can’t remember another babyface of this generation that has sustained his babyface appeal among fans like Triple H. Most babyfaces wind up booed at some point in favor of the heel. No matter who he is in there with, Triple H continues to get wildly cheered.
Randy Orton has struggled as the top heel. The WWE have continually tried to make this guy their top heel for the last few years. Every time he has gotten that opportunity, it has never worked out. Orton or any other heel will likely never get an angle like this one to get him over. Unfortunately his adversaries are the McMahon and most people don’t mind seeing Stephanie get an RKO. The heat between these two will probably blow the roof off of Houston.
These two guys have great chemistry together. They have rarely had a bad match. In 2007 they had the WWE Match of the Year for their Street Fight. The two had an excellent match at One Night Stand last year. I predict another tremendous match between these two guys. I think these two guys more than anyone understand the pressures of the situation and will come up huge. My prediction is a Randy Orton win and a new champion. These two will continue this one way past WrestleMania.
WWE World Title Match: Edge vs. Big Show vs. John Cena. If the theme of 25 years of WrestleMania was to make main-events of guys that have wrestled each other 25 times on big shows, well congratulations WWE. Unlike the previous match, I have very little interest in seeing this one. This may be the first time in several years in which John Cena has been a bit of an afterthought on WrestleMania. Maybe you feel different?
If there is one thing you can count on the last few years is that Edge has great matches at WrestleMania. Edge has his work cutout this year. Edge and Cena had one of the longest feuds of the decade back in 2005. These two guys wrestled each other every other week. Unlike Orton and Triple H, I never found their matches to be so great. Big Show is an interesting wrinkle in the match to see the least.
Maybe it is the old-school fan in me, but I still enjoy seeing Big Show. I look at Show as a throwback to the old-school monster days. I think Show keeps this one interesting. I also predict that unlike Orton-Triple H, this is the last time we see this one with all three. My prediction is Cena wins the title, pins Show, and we move back to 2005 and see a lot of Edge-Cena in 2009.
The Streak vs. Mr. WrestleMania: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels. Finally! That is all I have to say. I have been barking about this match for the last two years. There are very few “Dream Matches” left in the WWE. This one has been screaming out for the last several years. As seasoned veterans, I was afraid that the WWE was going to let this one pass them by. I hate to use a cliché, but better late than never.
For me and a lot of fans, this is the show right here. This was the tipping point in my $54.95 decision to buy the show. This is a re-match over ten years in the making. In 1997, these two guys had some of the most underrated matches in WWE history. As opposite as their styles were, they made it work. For me, their 1997 Hell in the Cell Match is one of the all-time greatest matches in WWE history.
WWE have teased this match the last few years in the Royal Rumble. It was obvious from their first spot that they haven’t lost their magic. These two guys have a tremendous chemistry. Both of them have had some of the best matches on the last few WrestleMania shows. I continue to find myself amazed at how much these guys have left in the tank. To not only be wrestling, but having great matches at both of their ages is just truly amazing and should be commended.
Shawn Michaels once again has the best buildup leading up to WrestleMania. The buildup and angles have been awesome. Michaels even reverted back to his old DX character on RAW this week. I love it and I can only hope that this one turns into another great series. I predict a great match and a show-stealer from these two veterans. My prediction is that Undertaker continues the streak, but Michaels gets one back at Backlash.
Extreme Rules: Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy. For fans of the Hardy brothers, this is their dream match. This is the second time that the brothers have wrestled each other in the WWE. The first-time was somewhat of a disaster. Matt on my radio show several years ago acknowledged the disappointment that everyone had in the match. I have a feeling that everyone involved has learned their lessons and this one will be a fun one.
I think this could have been a lot differently, but that is all opinion. The Matt Hardy turn from a logic standpoint, didn’t work for me. I also think this one needs a little more flavor such as a title or stipulation. This match reminds me of the Rey Mysterio-Eddie Guerrero WrestleMania match. The expectations for the match were so high, that nothing they could do would meet them. I fear the same thing for these guys.
I honestly think this one comes down to placement on the card. If these guys are following someone like Jericho or Michaels-Undertaker, they are dead. I would almost put these guys in the opener and let them start the show. I think the match will be great, but placement is huge on a four-hour show. I don’t know where this one goes if the match disappoints. My prediction is a Matt Hardy win and a few more matches in 2010.
Handicap Elimination Gauntlet Match: Chris Jericho vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
Tag Team Championship Unification Lumberjack Match John Morrison and The Miz vs. Carlito and Primo Colon
Money In The Bank Ladder Match: CM Punk vs. MVP vs. Shelton Benjamin vs.Kane vs. Christian vs. Fit Finlay vs. Mark Henry vs. Kofi Kingston
25 Diva Battle Royal