Writer's Note: Today's column surrounds some rumored spoilers for something that will happen down the road. It has nothing to do with Smackdown's spoilers, Impact's spoilers, or anything along those lines. I just wanted to get this out of the way, in case people like to avoid all spoilers of all types, so let's consider ourselves all squared away now.
With Tables, Ladders & Chairs being the final pay-per-view of the calendar year for World Wrestling Entertainment, it's time we found ourselves on the annual "Road To WrestleMania", which means it's the time of year that the rumors of what will be taking place at WrestleMania really start rolling out. This year is no different, as we now "know" the proposed triple main event for WrestleMania 28 on April 1st in Miami, Florida. We already know about John Cena VS The Rock, and while that's a huge match, it's WrestleMania, which means there has to be more. Here are the other two matches rumored to be main eventing WrestleMania..
- CM Punk VS Chris Jericho for the WWE Title
- The Undertaker VS Triple H
Now, technically, neither one of those matches is a huge surprise to anyone. I've seen both matches on multiple lists as far as people making predictions for WrestleMania is concerned. Hell, I've even discussed both matches with various people, and have done so for months now. I want to take this time to discuss those matches, though. Do I think they end up happening? If so, how do I think they'll be put together? Am I looking forward to them? Let's go in order..
CM Punk VS Chris Jericho for the WWE Title: Obviously, the first thing that immediately jumps out at you is that Chris Jericho will be returning between now and WrestleMania. That excites most of you, and it pisses off the rest of you, but it draws an opinion from everyone. While I'm not the biggest Jericho fan on the planet, I will admit that he's an incredibly solid in-ring worker, and even with 14-and-a-half months away from wrestling, he could return today and be a better performer than the large majority of the current WWE roster. CM Punk is.. well.. CM Punk. If you put those two in the ring together, on a stage like WrestleMania, you have the formula for something very special.
If you dig a little deeper with the way things are right now, you have to rewind (well, fast forward from now, but rewind from WrestleMania) to the Royal Rumble. Let's work with the current storyline that Daniel Bryan will be officially cashing his Money In The Bank title shot for the World Title at WrestleMania. Unless they want to double up yet again, like they did with having Bryan win a #1 Contenders match, that pretty much rules Bryan out as the winner of the Rumble. Words simply cannot express how dumb Daniel Bryan would look if he did cash in his title shot, but it was in a Triple Threat Match with the World Champion and the winner of the Rumble, should the winner come from Smackdown. Because of that, you have to assume that the Rumble winner will come from the Raw side of things. That would mean one of two things.. either CM Punk wins the Rumble, with Chris Jericho going into WrestleMania as the WWE Champion, or Chris Jericho wins the Rumble, with CM Punk going into WrestleMania as the WWE Champion. Of those two scenarios, Jericho winning the Rumble makes more sense. He might be making his return at the Rumble, and while I know a lot of people are growing tired of people making their returns at the Rumble and then going on to win it, as they feel it pretty much gives things away when the wrestler makes his return, but it's still bound to happen.
I have absolutely no problem with the match taking place. Both men can work the hell out of a match, and both men remain over with the members of the WWE Universe all across the globe. Some people will say that a Punk/Jericho match will "steal the show", but those people don't quite understand what the term means. To steal the show means that the match came out of nowhere to be one of the best matches on the card. If everyone expects it to be a four-star match, and it ends up being a four-star match, that is not "stealing the show". If Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne VS Epico & Primo goes 20 minutes and comes in at 4.25 stars, that is "stealing the show", because everyone would be expecting the match to be over quickly and to not have any long-lasting memories. Punk/Jericho will be a really good match. I have no doubt in my mind. The funny thing about it, though, is the fact that it will probably end up being the fourth-most memorable match/moment coming out of the show, based on the way things are rumored to go. Either way, I'm all for CM Punk VS Chris Jericho happening.
The Undertaker VS Triple H: There is some eye-rolling taking place right now as some of you read that, I know. It will be their third time facing off at WrestleMania, although the company wants everyone to forget that they faced each other at WrestleMania 17, so they'll just say it's their second match. The biggest problem is that Taker has absolutely no reason to give Triple H another match. He's beaten him already.. twice, if the WWE wants to stop pretending that their fans are complete idiots with no sense of memory or history. If they had both won a match, then sure, the "rubber match" would make perfect sense, and it would be a "legacy" thing for both men and they'd both want the match, but as it stands, Taker has nothing to gain by beating Triple H at WrestleMania yet again.
The only way I can even see Taker being convinced to give Trips another match is if Trips puts his career on the line, just like Shawn Michaels did to get a rematch with Taker at WrestleMania 26. It pretty much goes without saying, I would think, that The Undertaker's career would be over, whether they announced it or not, if he were to lose at WrestleMania and have his streak broken. Without actually saying so, that was mentioned during the build for this year's match with Triple H, where it was talked about that he (Taker) would die if the streak died. That means he's wrestling in a Career Match at every WrestleMania these days, no matter who his opponent is. If Triple H were to put his career on the line, too, that might be enough for Taker to step back into the ring with him. He always talks about taking the souls of his opponents, but, short of actually killing them in the ring, ending their career is the closest thing to really taking their soul that he can do. Thing is, though.. it needs to be legit. By that, I mean that, if The Undertaker loses, we literally never see him again. If Triple H loses, not only does his in-ring career end (not a big deal, considering he's only wrestled five matches in 2011, one of which was at a house show and one of which was a dark match after an episode of Raw), but his (on-screen) role of power ends, as well, and he disappears. It's becoming crystal clear that Trips' return to the on-screen aspect of things hasn't worked out, both in excitement or ratings. Could that change? Of course it could. Perhaps once they get him away from John Laurinaitis and/or Kevin Nash, interest will pick back up, but that still isn't a guarantee. By the time April 1st rolls around, it could become clear that Triple H isn't the solution to whatever problems WWE is having. If that's the case, a loss to Taker at WrestleMania wouldn't be much of a problem for him at all. He could slip back into what he was doing for a large portion of 2011.. working backstage and in the WWE offices, doing various jobs to help keep the company moving, but without having to appear on television.
On the other hand.. if Triple H beats The Undertaker, be on the lookout for World War 3 to break out on the internet, with people wanting Trips' head on a silver platter, and with Trips' supporters fanning the flames and rubbing in the fact that The Undertaker's 20-year streak is over at the hands of one of the Internet Wrestling Community's most-hated performers of the last decade-plus. It's going to be an aftermath unlike anything we've seen over wrestling-related incidents as internet fans (again, wrestling-related, so what happened in the Benoit household in the final weekend of their lives doesn't count).
Even if you're against the idea of seeing The Undertaker and Triple H face each other at WrestleMania once again, you have to admit that it's one of the biggest matches the company can put together right now, as far as star power is concerned. That's a match that will be built up as one of the biggest deals the wrestling business has ever seen, especially if it gets the Career VS Career stipulation, and it's something that casual fans and older fans will gravitate towards because they know who is in the match. Sure, something like The Undertaker VS Sheamus could be a lot of fun, but Sheamus isn't anywhere near Triple H on the level of star power in the wrestling industry, which means Taker/Sheamus is less likely to push the pay-per-view buyrate than Taker/HHH. Sometimes, we, as wrestling fans, need to realize what we want to see isn't always what's best thing for the business.
Obviously, John Cena VS The Rock is going to carry WrestleMania with top billing, and rightfully so, but if we get a high-quality in-ring match (Punk VS Jericho) and a high-quality star power match (The Undertaker VS Triple H) to help out, as well as a possible "feel good" story of Daniel Bryan going for the World Title, along with the already-high excitement level that comes with WrestleMania, not only will that mean I'll be typing out an incredibly long run-on sentence, but it could also come together to give us a very nice show, as well as a very nice buyrate for the company. We'll just have to wait and see about the truth to those reports, I guess.