Chair Shots: Wrestlemania Preview Week (Day 5: The Streak and the WWE Championship)
Apr 5, 2013 - 10:00:47 AM
So here we are loyal readers, only a couple of days away from the biggest wrestling card of the entire year. The press rounds are being made, the Hall of Fame Induction is ready to happen, and NY is all aglow with professional wrestling goodness. Whether you’ve been happy about how this year’s bill came together or not, hopefully you will enjoy the show and revel in its grandeur. We’ve got the last two matches to look at today, so enough lollygagging around, let’s do it!
Undertaker vs. CM Punk
‘Taker returns for his yearly visit to defend his undefeated streak against a man that has had one of the longest WWE title reigns in recent history. CM Punk is determined to end the streak, and possibly the career, of a WWE icon, but I don’t really think many people think this is going to happen. I’m not one of those people. In my gut, I think this might be the year. Undertaker is most certainly towards the end of his career. His body has been battered, bruised, operated on, and worn down to the point of no return. I really didn’t want him to come back this year. I want him to retire undefeated and take his long overdue ride into the sunset where he can play with his kid, bang Michelle McCool, and rest.
But that didn’t happen, and we will see ‘Taker put his body to the test once again for the people he loves, the WWE Universe. CM Punk has gone on record as saying he will do whatever it takes to break the streak, and if that means winning by disqualification, than that’s what he will do. While I’d hate to see the streak broken like that, it is EXACTLY the kind of thing that Punk would do. He’s made this very personal by desecrating the name of Paul Bearer, something that many thought crossed the line. Punk’s sole purpose was to get into his opponent’s head, and hopefully get him to make a mistake. This should be quite different than the Undertaker matches we’ve seen over the past few years with Triple H and Shawn Michaels. It won’t be pretty, but it should be entertaining nonetheless.
Prediction: Well, while I want to say that the outcome will be a broken streak, I’m just not confident enough in that feeling in my gut to do it. When all else fails, go with ‘Taker for the win.
The Rock vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship
This year’s WM will close out with the first anniversary of the “Once in a Lifetime” match we had last year. I’m not sure that calling ANYTHING “once in a lifetime” and then having a second one makes any sense at all, but it happens, so we’ll have to disregard that logic for a minute. I didn’t really want to see this match last year, and I’m about as equally thrilled to see it again this year. I’ve been against The Rock’s return from the beginning. Now don’t get me wrong, I know he’s mega-over with the fans, he brings in ratings, and he’s a massive superstar, but at the end of the day he’s a part-time wrestler who’s only going to go away once again. With 4 movies coming out within 6 months, The Rock is a full-time Hollywood actor, who for a short time is playing a professional wrestler. His movie stardom is only going to increase, and that means he’ll be gone once again. It’s one of those short-term fixes that the WWE likes to go with, but in the end, it only results in a temporary increase in ratings. Once he’s gone, we’re back where we started, and the emphasis needs to be on building the stars of tomorrow.
So how will this match go? The outcome seems pretty apparent, but how we get there is another story. The Rock is supposed to go film yet another movie after WM, which should mean that John Cena walks out of WM as the new WWE Champion. But the question on everybody’s mind is will John Cena turn heel in NY? He’s certainly been showing some heelish tendencies the past few weeks. He’s going to get booed out of MetLife Stadium, so why not? Why wouldn’t the WWE pull the trigger on the long overdue heel turn? That’s pretty simple- money. John Cena sells more merchandise than any wrestler on the WWE roster. He’s the face of the company. He’s the WWE’s king of Make A Wish granting. That would all change with a simple turn of the heel. Now do I think he should turn heel? The answer to that is a resounding YES! His character is stale, and has been for the past few years. There is only so much of the same thing that you can see week after week. A heel turn for Cena would rejuvenate his character, and take it places he hasn’t been before. Gone will be the poop jokes. Gone will be the goofy grins and interviews. It’s time for a more serious, HEEL John Cena.
But that’s not going to happen.
Prediction: John Cena walks out of MetLife Stadium the NEW WWE Champion…..and everything goes back to the way it was.
Well that’s it folks. For those of you that have been reading, I thank you. For those of you that have been commenting as well, I thank you too. Please be sure to check out Oliver’s NXT Review that I’ll be bringing you every week from now on. So what’s next for Chair Shots? Well, if you followed me in the Columns Forum, you might remember a little something I did last year- a little something called DOA.
Until then, Enjoy Wrestlemania my friends!
So it appears that Martha Hart has settled her lawsuit with the WWE, which is good news for Owen Hart fans (and who out there isn’t). This opens up a myriad of possibilities, including Owen’s possible induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, which I would expect to happen as early as next year. We’ll also be able to see him again in video clips, DVD collections, etc. Owen is one of the greatest who died before he was able to reach his true potential, and I for one sorely miss him in professional wrestling, even today.
We’re getting closer to Wrestlemania and today we’re going to look at two more matches as we make our way to the night of nights in professional wrestling.
Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship
The fact that this match isn’t more prominent only goes to show how far the status of the World Heavyweight Championship has fallen. The belt that was once worn by Ric Flair with such prominence was defended in 18 seconds at last year’s Wrestlemania, and that match had more heat around it than this year’s title defense. Despite the WWE’s attempt to push Jack Swagger to the moon with his “Real American Jack Swagger’s America” gimmick, he’s just not performing as he should. The majority of the promos are done by Zeb Colter, while Swagger stands behind him staring blankly ahead like an idiot. I’ve never been sold on Swagger from day one, and unfortunately it didn’t help him any that he was given a title reign long before he was ready.
On the other hand, Alberto Del Rio seems to be embracing being a face pretty effectively. With Mysterio’s status uncertain and Sin Cara not being the star the WWE had hoped, the WWE had only one option in terms of a Hispanic fan favorite. There’s still a certain something that Alberto is missing, and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but he’s improved leaps and bounds from where he was as a heel. This match probably won’t get too much time in terms of the card, and may even once again open the show, which I’m actually OK with since there is such a packed card at the top of the evening. As with a lot of new stars, all eyes will be on Swagger to see if he can perform at the next level that he’s yet to show he can do.
Prediction: Jack Swagger as World Champion makes me cringe, and there seems to be no ramifications for his arrest a month or so ago. I don’t see Del Rio dropping the belt on this evening to Swagger, but there is always the outside chance that he can drop it to Ziggler with a MITB cash-in.
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar in a No Holds Barred Match
I just can’t get used to Triple H with short hair. It just doesn’t look right. Is there something telling about my feelings toward this match when I open with a statement about Trips grooming choices? Yes, my nom de plume is patterned about Triple H, and I have been a fan of his for a very long time, but this match does absolutely nothing for me. Maybe it’s the stipulation that hovers over it that makes me not care so much. If Triple H loses, his career is over. OK, so if Trips loses, he can’t wrestle once a year like he does now, big woopity doo. If they were going the career route, how about make him put his entire wrestling career on the line and make him step down from his corporate duties as well. Personally, I preferred a stipulation that Paul Heyman threw out during the Raw segment; if Triple H loses, Brock Lesnar gets Stephanie McMahon. That makes it more personal, more heated.
The match is bound to be a brutal, nasty encounter since it has a No Holds Barred stipulation. It’s kind of a weird stip for Lesnar, because he relies on a ground and pound attack with an emphasis on his time in the UFC. But given the opportunity to use weapons has always worked in the favor of Triple H, since besides Shawn Michaels, his best friend is a sledge hammer. In the PG-era, these types of matches tend to get somewhat watered down, but at Wrestlemania this one may just see some blood. This match should sit pretty highly on the card, but what happens after for both men? Triple H will again go back into semi-retirement only coming out when the itch strikes him. Lesnar still isn’t signed to a full WWE schedule, but has been rumoured to have some upcoming feuds in the works. Hopefully they’ll be able to utilize him a bit more than the past year has seen.
Prediction: I’ve been going back and forth on this one, but with the stipulation in place, I see Triple H coming out of it with the victory.
One day left to look at the two biggest matches on the card. See you then.
There has been a lot of discussion since the closing of this week’s Raw as to whether or not the Undertaker/CM Punk angle crossed the line or not. Reports came out yesterday that stated that Paul Bearer’s family had approved of the segment, but after they watched it they stated the ending was not what they had envisioned. Today, a statement was released from the WWE, through Bearer’s family, saying it was approved, but it was very hard to watch. Personally for me, the visual of CM Punk dumping the ashes from the urn on a prone Undertaker would be just what a man like Punk would do. This would have been nothing in the Attitude Era, but in today’s PG market, some thought it crossed the line. I was OK with it, and it adds fuel to the fire for Sunday’s match.
Today we’re going to look at two tag team matches on the card, so let’s get to it.
Team Hell No vs. Ziggler and Big E. Langston for the Tag Team Titles
This match seemed to come out of nowhere over the last couple of weeks, as the WWE probably realized they had nothing for their MITB holder to do at Wrestlemania. It’s a rather odd match, because you have a tag team vying for the straps that actually hasn’t competed as a team on live television. For a short time, the Tag Team division was headed in the right direction, but as of late it has again become an afterthought with many of the teams becoming jobbers to Kane and Daniel Bryan. Even Rhodes Scholars are now floundering with Brodus and Tensai. So instead of building up an existing team, the WWE has put Zigs and Langston in a title match that quite frankly they haven’t earned.
Despite all of that, this one has potential to be pretty interesting. Ziggler and Bryan have put on some stellar one on one matches leading up to this, and Kane can always be counted on for some solid in-ring work. The question mark is Big E. Langston. He has spent considerable time in NxT, and is currently the defending champion there, however he hasn’t been tested yet on the main roster. This is another case of talent getting their first shot at the biggest event of the year. From what I’ve seen of Langston, he has typical big man moves. His finisher, whatever it’s called, is somewhat ridiculous however as his opponent actually lands on him when he drops them to the canvas. While the impact looks strong, the damaging effect should be minimal. All eyes will be on Big E, as he’s the greenhorn in this match.
Prediction: When all is said and done, Team Hell No should walk out of Wrestlemania with the Tag Titles intact, but it would not surprise me in the least if a change happened here.
The Shield vs. Big Show, Sheamus and Orton
I believe in The Shield! For all of the missteps that the WWE may have had over the past year, they’ve gotten one thing right 100% of the time, and that’s the introduction and continued push of Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose. Since their debut, The Shield has taken the WWE by storm with their unique style of offense and pack mentality that is unlike anything currently in the WWE. Sunday, they will make their Wrestlemania debut in a match against Orton, Sheamus and The Big Show, who is in the middle of his 147 ½ face turn.
There has been a lot of talk ongoing about whether or not Orton and Sheamus can trust Show, but the bigger story is the rumour that this match will signal the long awaited heel turn by Randy Orton. I’d be OK with that, because I always thought Randy was a better heel than a face anyway. What I don’t want to see is any sort of reveal that puts Randy as the new leader of The Shield. Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins are doing just fine as they are, and putting Orton with them would be, in my humble opinion, a slap in the face to the great work they are doing without an established star in their midst.
Prediction: The WWE needs to keep The Shield strong, so they need to come out of Wrestlemania with a win. If the Orton turn happens as has been discussed, The Shield could come out victorious without really damaging Sheamus or Show in any way.
Day 4 brings us closer to the Main Event, as we’ll look at the World Championship match and Lesnar/Triple H
Last night the WWE had its “Go Home” episode of Raw and for me it hit all the right notes. All of the major storylines were advanced to the point that there isn’t anything left to do except get in the ring and settle things. I enjoyed the appearance of HBK, as he always brings a little extra spark to things. Having him in Triple H’s corner certainly raises some questions though. These two have a storied history of both friendship and rivalry, but I firmly believe Shawn is done with wrestling, so any swerve you might be thinking of is probably not going to happen. The final sequence with The Undertaker and CM Punk was nicely done, even if it was a bit predictable. Will ‘Taker’s streak be broken? You’ll see my prediction in a few days, but until that time, let’s look at two more matches.
Wade Barrett vs. The Miz for the IC Title
Let me see if I understand this correctly. The Lords of Pain readers just voted to induct Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage for the IC Title into our Hall of Fame as one of the greatest matches of all time. 26 years later, the IC Title isn’t even being defended on the actual PPV, but on the Pre-Show instead. This title, with its great lineage of champions, is held in such little regard now that it will be defended before the show really even begins. This just boggles my mind. The Intercontinental Title SHOULD be the most important singles title below the WWE Championship; a stepping stone for future World Champions. But right now, much like the United States Championship (which isn’t even on the card), the title is pretty meaningless.
With that being said, a match will still happen. The WWE seems to be behind The Miz’s face turn, but for me I think he’s even more annoying than he was as a heel. Fortunately for him, Wade Barrett isn’t faring much better. This was a man that was primed for the next step until an arm injury sidelined him, causing him to miss last year’s WM. He hasn’t seemed to be able to get that heat back he had when he was running The Nexus, which is unfortunate for a man who has solid in-ring skills. This match is being billed as being “interactive”, which always scares me some. It probably means some sort of stipulation will be put in place, but at the end of the day I don’t see a title change happening on a Pre-Show.
Prediction: Wade Barrett leaves WM still the IC Champion, and gets to sit in the back and watch the next four hours of the ACTUAL PPV.
Ryback vs. Mark Henry
In this one we have the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object- two huge behemoths stepping into a ring to see who the biggest dog in the yard is. I’ve been a fan of Mark Henry for the past couple of years, and feel he finally figured things out after 15 years in the business. Injuries plagued him once again though for a good portion of this past year, and you can only guess that his in-ring career is on the downside at this point. Ryback is the up and comer; a man that has been embraced by the WWE Universe quicker than most superstars. He’s been in the WWE Title hunt, in a high profile feud with The Shield, and was one of the last two people in this year’s Royal Rumble. On paper, this one looks like a brutal encounter.
However early reports of matchups between the two aren’t coming back positive. Ryback has been protected for the most part, working with stars that can carry him through a match. His in-ring time has been limited, and his flaws really haven’t been exposed that much. I’m not sure working with Mark Henry is to his advantage. Despite Henry’s improvements, he’s always had someone in the ring with him that can guide the match and work to his strengths. Now you have two guys that are pretty similar in styles who have to figure this out at the biggest PPV of the year. I don’t expect this to get much time, which is probably a good thing. A shorter match will keep things focused, and not subject either man to a major misstep.
Prediction: The WWE has put too much into the Ryback machine to have him lose at Wrestlemania. Now whether or not he can Shellshock Henry is another story, but when all is said and done, Ryback gets the victory.
Well we’re finally here wrestling fans; it’s Wrestlemania week. Coming to you this year from MetLife stadium in East Rutherford, NY, the biggest spectacle in sports entertainment comes at you full blast this Sunday night. For some, the build-up to Wrestlemania has been just what it should be. For others, it has been a major disappointment. One of the things that has been brought up by several people is that a large number of superstars participating this year haven’t wrestled a single PPV match in 2013, and in some cases ever(Triple H, Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, Fandango, Bellas, Big E Langston, etc.). For those stars that have worked hard the whole year to have a spot at the biggest payday in wrestling, that can be a disappointment. While Fandango manages to have a match against Chris Jericho before even proving what he can do in the ring, Antonio Cesaro is nowhere to be seen on the card despite having a stellar last 12 months. It’s probably one of my biggest pet peeves surrounding ‘Mania; the feeling that you have to trot big names who only wrestle part-time to have a great show. It’s not necessary, and certainly bad for business down the road.
For the next five days, I’m going to give you a preview of the 10 advertised matches on the card, along with my predictions. I think I can even handle that math, making it two a day for the numerically challenged out there. Let’s get to it!
Ton of Funk and the Funkadactyls vs. Team Rhodes Scholars and The Bellas
I’m really torn on this match, because both Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow deserve a better spot on the Wrestlemania card than what will probably be a comedy match against The Funkasaurus and Hip Hop Haiku. And as I already mentioned earlier, how Clay and Tensai get a WM match and Antonio Cesaro does not is mind boggling. The WWE Divas Division certainly got a breath of fresh air with the return of the Bellas, but let’s be honest, they were never the best in-ring wrestlers. The “Twin Magic” aspect of their shtick may also be not as believable, because it seems as though one of the Bellas may have gotten a boob job. Maybe it’s just me, but there certainly seemed to be a difference last Monday on Raw.
Tensai has been a complete bust since returning to the WWE from Japan, and that’s a shame because he made a name for himself over there, being known as a hard hitting big man with some innovative moves. That seems to have disappeared in his return to the states. Brodus Clay could be considered somewhat of a bust as well, since he really has become nothing more than mid-card filler. It’s interesting if you look at the tracks of Ryback and Brodus. Both came back from NxT squashing jobbers. Both were touted as big men who moved well, but had devastating power moves. Ryback quickly went to the World Title picture, and Brodus watched him from the back.
Prediction: Team Rhodes Scholars and The Bellas win. I can’t see bringing The Bellas back only to have them lose their first big match in their return.
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
I’ve already gone on record saying I think that the Fandango gimmick is already a bust, but if ANYBODY can make this work it’s Chris Jericho. It seems as though after the first Raw promo where you could hear a pin drop, that the WWE went scrambling to find someone to help get Johnny Curtis some heat. There is no one better at this than Y2J. He has managed to take someone else’s horrible gimmick and make this match somewhat intriguing to see. If you think about it, there’s no reason for these two to be wrestling each other except for the fact that Jericho kept butchering his name and at one time he was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars.
However, again you have a wrestler that hasn’t had one single televised match ever under this gimmick getting a prime spot on the Wrestlemania card. Curtis has to be feeling some insane pressure this week, going into what will be without a doubt the biggest match of his career against one of the best wrestlers of this generation. With 10 matches on the card, I don’t see this getting much more than 10 minutes, so Curtis will need to let Y2J take the wheel and drive him to a successful first match in the WWE.
Prediction: Y2J puts people over as well as anybody, and having Fandango lose his first match makes no sense. Fandango should come out of this on top.
Tomorrow- two more matches and some quick comments about the “Go Home” episode of Raw.
Until next time,
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