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WrestleMania XXVII: The Beginning of a New Era?

Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus is a rumored WrestleMania 27 main-eventHere we are, WrestleMania 27 week. For wrestling fans, this is our Super Bowl, especially right now that the WWE is the only major company that actually knows how to build to a special event. In prior years, the event has seemed dwindling in aura and specialness to me at least. This year though, something feels different. There seems to be a feeling of anticipation in the air, moreso than in past years. Yeah, last year had Cena vs. Batista and the second Undertaker/Michaels match, but this year, it feels… special.

Look at the main events. The Undertaker battles Triple H. Yeah, that match does nothing for me. Let’s move on. The Miz takes on John Cena. Ooh, there we go, that’s a good one. Alberto del Rio vs. Edge, with a possible addition of Christian at the last minute? Hell yeah, sign me up! CM Punk vs. Randy Orton? Okay, this match wasn’t built up all that well between the excellent reveal of why Punk harassed Orton in the first place and the segment on last week’s RAW where Punk kneecapped Orton, but hey, it’s CM Punk.

That slate of matches, as well as the undercard which features Sheamus battling Daniel Bryan and John Morrison and Dolph Ziggler in an intergender tag match on opposite teams, signals to me that this WrestleMania could be one of those watershed events where the guard is changing. Think about it; Undertaker isn’t running through one of the up-and-comers like was rumored he would in Wade Barrett. Triple H isn’t getting his revenge on Sheamus. They’re separated from the pack to do their own thing. Meanwhile, The Miz is getting his chance to shine as WWE Champion in the biggest event on the calendar in a match where he might even go over. Alberto del Rio will most likely fulfill his destiny and become World Champion. Punk? Yeah, well he’ll most likely get RKO’ed out of the arena, but his WrestleMania stock has been rising each year to the point where he’s in against the second biggest face in the company right now.

This event is shaping up to be the platform where the new breed of main-event superstars is looking to take over, where the new stars who’ll carry the WWE for the next five to ten years will get their chance to have a big stage all to themselves, and if you ask me, this could be the beginning of a new boom period.

Now, I’m not saying that this uptick is Attitude-like in its ceiling. However, the doldrums of the last decade need to be shaken, and they’re not shaken by relying on the same old lead characters all by themselves. The fact that the main event matches feature Edge, Cena and Orton against new challengers rather than against each other, leaving the new blood to self-cannibalize. They realize that the future needs to be now, and the current crop ready to be harvested actually has potential to exceed the boundaries set by Cena, Edge, Orton and Triple H.

Alberto del Rio represents the new focus on Mexico. Until Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero came along, the WWE ignored Mexico for the most part. The traditional lucha libre feds were too strong. Now, with Guerrero resting in peace and Mysterio literally on his last legs, they need replacement stars. del Rio is the first, and the debuting Sin Cara will represent the new breed of luchador superstars to continue cultivation of their audience South of the Border.

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Punk is a guy that the indie crowd has known about for the longest time, and now, he’s getting his chance to shine on the big stage. He’s shown that he can be the best heel in all of wrestling in the last two years. The funny thing is, I think his ceiling is much higher as a top face. His charisma is off the charts, and he reminds me of this year’s WrestleMania host, The Rock, in some respects, in that he can manipulate the crowd with his promo skills. He could be the WWE’s top heel or top face with very little effort in either direction. He reminds me of Steve Austin in other respects in that he can come off as so likable without having any of the redeeming qualities of a traditional face. He can be an anti-hero for a new generation, and that could end up being huge for WWE.

The biggest future star though is in the exact right spot to bust out huge this Sunday. I don’t think it’s a mistake that he’s in the middle of a collision course between the biggest star of today and the biggest star of the most recent yesterday in the WWE’s history. Many people are calling for there to be a double turn, much like the way that Steve Austin and Bret Hart executed one at WrestleMania 13. I don’t think that’s the way to go.

Right now, The Rock and John Cena are appealing to two different crowds. In their war of words, Rocky has been getting the cheers and approval of the males and the older fans. Cena gets his cheers from females and children, aka newer fans. I agree that Miz should turn face at WrestleMania. I also agree with the general consensus that The Rock is going to pass the torch at the event. However, I don’t think the other turn should happen, and I don’t necessarily think Rocky is going to give that transference of approval to Cena. Instead, I can totally see Miz going over in a hard-fought match, earning the respect of both Cena and Rock in the process and having his first of many WrestleMania moments as the top dog in WWE.

The Miz is already getting audible face pops. I don’t think that the guys in the front offices in Stamford are deaf to that, and in their quest to find the next big thing, this whole set-up could be one big exercise in getting that guy over, hammering his stardom home in a big way. Miz has crossover appeal. He can work. He can talk. He’s got the “it” factor. He’s a WWE company man.

And this could be his crowning moment, the biggest moment in an event that could prove to be the end of the post-Attitude era and the beginning of a new renaissance in professional wrestling.

Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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