Wait a minute. First RAW starts with WWE Champion CM Punk addressing Chris Jericho, and now SmackDown begins with a promo from World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan? I can live with that.
This Bryan/Aj love angle is playing out beautifully. Bryan is such a jerk; from the way he puts words into his girlfriend's mouth to how he keeps on saying "YES! YES! YES!", it's hilarious. Of course Sheamus ends up making his way out to the ring and we get more build to the Sheamus/Bryan match at Wrestlemania 28. Sheamus ends up putting Bryan in his place by leading the crowd into chanting "Danny Boy", which irritated the champ.
One thing I really liked about this segment was that neither guy felt out of place being in the show's opening segment. Bryan is without a doubt the brand's number one heel, and dare I say Sheamus is coming into his own as one of the top faces on SmackDown? At this point, either man could walk out of Wrestlemania the world heavyweight champion and I wouldn't have an issue with either victor.
PRO: Henry vs. Truth
Two years ago, I never would have dreamed of listing a match between Mark Henry and R-Truth as a good thing. Let's face it: Henry was on nobody's radar back in 2010, and Truth was his annoying, rapping self. Fast-forward to the present day when you have a motivated Mark Henry and a slightly less annoying R-Truth, and you have the makings of a decent match.
Both men looked fairly strong here, as Truth was able to score a number of near-falls over The World's Strongest Man. Alas, Team Johnny continued to build momentum after Henry put away Truth with a HUGE World's Strongest Slam. They're really making Team Teddy look like the ultimate underdogs heading into Wrestlemania, aren't they?
PRO: Yokozuna & Team Teddy
You've got to love the tribute package each WWE Hall of Fame inductee receives. I mean, every one of the company's video packages are fantastic, but the ones for the future Hall of Famers are truly top-notch. The song selection, the commentary, the clips from the superstar's career - they're all phenomenal. Another great choice for the 2012 Hall of Fame in the late, great Yokozuna. R.I.P., big man.
So, it's official. Zack Ryder and The Great Khali will be on Team Teddy at Wrestlemania. I know a lot of people are against the move, but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Team Johnny is stacked, with four of the five announced participants being former world champions. Ryder is a big name (yes, you know it) so adding him will help improve the star power for Team Teddy. As for Khali? Well, he's the only former world champion on Team Teddy thus far, and the only member who can match the strength of Mark Henry. Both are sound choices, even though I could do without Hornswoggle being the team's "mascot".
CON: Aj vs. A Bella
Here's the thing. I'm digging this Aj push, but I had no idea who to cheer for in this match, and I think the crowd was just as confused as I was (or simply didn't care). Is Aj now heel? Is she a tweener? Are The Bellas supposed to be babyfaces? Their pre-match promo would suggest other wise. Confusion on every level, bro!
Anyways, Aj ended up winning via the ultimate divas finisher, the ROLL-UP, after Bella A accidentally knocked her sister Bella B off the ring apron. This led to Daniel Bryan celebrating Aj's win for her, and (I think) Bella B turning face post-match by announcing her allegiance to Team Teddy.
Ummm isn't this a repeat storyline of three years ago when one Bella sided with John Morrison & The Miz while the other sided with Carlito and Primo, only to re-unite a few weeks after Wrestlemania 25? Okay then.
PRO: Ryder vs. Swagger
The only thing sweeter than Ryder winning this match is something that anti-Ryder fans will absolutely hate - the introduction of Long Island Iced Z's "Five Moves of Doom". Unless I'm mistaken, it consists of a series of jumping clotheslines, followed by a face-slam into the mat, a kick into the turnbuckle, his Broksi Boot, and of course, the Rough Ryder. Hey, haters gonna hate. If Ryder now has his version of the "Five Moves of Doom", I'm guessing his push is far from over. Looks like I was right all along! (#Siiiick)
Getting back on track, I liked this match. Kudos to Michael Cole for reminding us about Ryder and Swagger's history, how it was Swagger who beat Ryder for the U.S. title last January. After a distraction from Hornswoggle, Ryder hit the Rough Ryder and picked up a big, overdue win for Team Teddy. I can't say I'm surprised that Swagger is the Team Johnny member who jobbed, though. Poor Swagger.
Side-Note: Is it just me, or does Flo Rida look a lot like The Rock?
PRO: Kane vs. Big Show
I don't remember who said it, but I believe this is approximately the 1,529th time we are seeing these two square off one-on-one during their lengthy WWE careers. Honestly, the wise fellow was probably being generous with that estimate.
Regardless, just like on Monday, Kane and Big Show showed off their in-ring chemistry on SmackDown. They weren't given too much time to work with, but at least the match didn't end in under two minutes. Just when you thought Show had Kane defeated, Cody Rhodes showed up and caused the disqualification, but unlike on Monday, Show fought him off, and the Intercontinental Champion fled the scene. Back in the ring, Randy Orton showed up and RKOed his Wrestlemania opponent, Kane.
I like how WWE managed to kill two birds with one stone here by promoting two Wrestlemania matches at the same time. However, I still can't help but feel Show vs. Rhodes is being given the spotlight over Orton vs. Kane. I'm okay with that, as long as Rhodes goes over at Wrestlemania. I just find it hard to believe Orton is practically on the backburner heading into the biggest PPV of the year next Sunday.
CON: Brodus vs. Slater
I for one am happy to see The Funkasaurus back in action, but I don't understand what was the point of taking him off television, only for him to return a few months later, virtually the same man. Apart from a slightly slimmer physique and a modified finishing maneuver, Brodus Clay is doing the same thing week he was before - squashing jobbers. I already hate Heath Slater enough as it is, and he has to be involved in something fantastic in order to not make me flunk the match or segment. This was NOT one of those times. It's time to get The Funkasaurus some real competition, stat.
CON: Ryder/Eve + HHH/HBK/Taker Re-Visited
Ryder's third on-screen appearance of the night (fourth if you count the Philadelphia rally replay from earlier on) featured an interaction with WWE's newest bitch, Eve. I still don't know where this Eve/Ryder storyline is going, but why did Eve say she and Ryder were going to Wrestlemania when she has a match of her own on April 1? Shouldn't she be hyping that match instead? I don't get it.
As for the HHH/HBK/Taker video package segment from RAW that SHOULDN'T have ended the show, feel free to YouTube it. I have no interest in recapping that anti-climatic confrontation again.
PRO: Ziggler vs. Khali
Before the match even started, I was already wondering how it would be booked. On one hand, Team Johnny is seriously owning Team Teddy, which means Khali should get the win to even things up. But, Khali's opponent happens to be Dolph Ziggler, a man who was very recently in the WWE title picture on RAW. Also keep in mind that it was a series of matches against Khali in 2009 that helped jump-start Ziggler's push on SmackDown, and it would be strange to see Ziggler lose now that's a lot more established.
This was a decent match which saw John Laurinaitis take a page out of the McMahon playbook and revive the Montreal Screwjob by ringing the bell when Ziggler had Khali locked in a Sleeperhold. Teddy Long would then overrule the decision, counted Ziggler out, and after laying out Ziggler, Khali, Long, Santino, and Kofi Kingston would all celebrate their "big victory". Score one for Team Teddy, I think.
Hey, at least the 12-man tag team match has been getting A LOT of hype so far. Christian's commentary at ringside was awesome as well. This could have been much worse than it was.
PRO: Punk & Sheamus vs. Bryan & Miz
Ah, main-event time. Even with very little time remaining in the episode, you knew this match would be fun, mainly because of the participants.
Hey, I was right. The Miz worked the majority of the match for his team, as Bryan played the cowardly heel, trying to avoid his Wrestlemania opponent at all cost. Cole brought up an interesting point about Punk, noting that the WWE Champion seemed unaffected by Jericho's words last Monday. Since Jericho didn't make an appearance during or after the match, was that a slip on Punk's part, or a sign that Punk would no longer be showing an emotional side of him, like he did on RAW? Either way, for the second time tonight, kudos goes out to Michael Cole (I feel dirty saying that).
The match itself was good and ended the only way it could - with Miz taking the pinfall. Seriously, this guy is in such a rut that I really hope WWE has something big planned for him post-Wrestlemania as a way of saying thank you for being the company's resident jobber for over five months now.
Oh, and WWE also did an excellent job tonight of hyping Sheamus vs. Bryan at Wrestlemania. The match very few people cared about is now a must-see for yours truly, and hopefully others as well. Let's just hope they're given a decent amount of time to work with on the big day.
Match/Segment of the Night: This was tough, as tonight's show featured some solid wrestling and a lot of hype for next week's Wrestlemania. I'm going to go with Punk & Sheamus vs. Bryan & Miz simply because it had the potential to be a great match, but time restrictions prevented it from getting there. Also, it really helped set the stage for Bryan vs. Sheamus at Mania.
Grade: B- (Again, some solid wrestling from top-to-bottom, only a few uninteresting matches and segments, and heavy hype for Wrestlemania. Had the main-event been given a few more minutes and tonight's show could have easily gotten a B or a B+ instead.)
2. Day 2
Writer's Note: With The Doc still going strong with his Road to Wrestlemania countdown, I figured I'd have some fun today and give a list of dream Wrestlemania matches that have never happened. Now, some of these matches could one day occur, while others have no chance in hell of becoming a reality. Cool? Then let us begin.
7. Randy Orton vs. The Rock
On paper, this looks like a rehashing of the current Cena/Rock program, but I honestly believe if given the chance, these two could put on a four-star match, if not better, at Wrestlemania. Think about it. You have two guys who were born into the business. Whether or not you enjoy their microphone work, you cannot deny their in-ring abilities. Orton has put on one stellar match after another since late-2010/early-2011, while Rock has been known to bring his A-game when it matters most. Should this match take place at next year's Wrestlemania or even Wrestlemania 30, ring rust wouldn't be an issue for either party, as Orton has arguably not yet peeked, and Rock proved at last year's Survivor Series that wrestling skills are not easily forgotten. Obviously, Cena vs. Rock is the bigger match in terms of star power (sorry Randy), but I think Rock and Orton could wrestle a better match. I'd love to see it happen one day.
6. John Cena vs. Hulk Hogan
I think once Cena/Rock is done with, this is the last truly "big" match WWE has yet to offer. You probably disagree with that statement, but off the top of your head, I dare you to come up with a bigger match-up than Cena vs. Hogan - chances are you can't. Hogan vs. Austin would have been humongous years ago, but that ship has sailed. I can't see Cena vs. Austin ever taking place, and if it did, I don't quite see the appeal in it. But with Cena vs. Hogan, you have two of the most popular babyfaces in WWE history squaring off one-on-one at Wrestlemania. The reason I didn't rank this dream bout higher than number six is simple; besides Hogan being a douche, I can't see this match being that great. Sure, it would generate a ton of buys for Wrestlemania, and the crowd would go ape-shit for both men, but wrestling-wise, it wouldn't be very good. Cena would likely spend most of the match selling Hogan's moves, and if given a lot of time, the fans would be forced to sit through plenty of stalling, even more than Rock/Hogan from ten years ago. Still, that doesn't mean I wouldn't love to see these two go one-on-one at a future Wrestlemania. But with Hogan's aging body and Cena presumably about to receive the proverbial torch from The Rock next Sunday, the chances of this bout ever coming together are slim to none.
5. The Undertaker vs. Sting
This is the first match on the list that has virtually no chance of ever taking place. Not because Sting will refuse to join WWE until the day he dies, but because 'Taker's wrestling career is quickly winding down, and I can't see him willing to go out there and put his life on the line against an unfamiliar opponent in Sting. Even The Icon has admitted to choosing many of his opponents carefully in recent years, because he doesn't trust any random wrestler to carry him in the ring. Therefore, the odds of two elderly, cautious veterans locking up at a big stage like Wrestlemania aren't very good. I also can't imagine WWE signing Sting to a one-year or one-match contract and shoving him into the Wrestlemania spotlight. I wouldn't mind seeing it happen, but I'm not holding my breath. Sting vs. Taker is a match older fans will continue to pray for everytime Wrestlemania season rolls around, but I've come to accept that the only place these two will ever square off is in my imagination.
4. CM Punk vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Unlike entry number five, this match may indeed become a reality at a future Wrestlemania. It's a feud that has been rumored to take place since Punk's days as the leader of The Straight-Edge Society, but talk on the street is swearing this match-up could take place at one of the next two Wrestlemanias. Earlier I said that Cena vs. Hogan is the last "big" match WWE has left to offer, but if Punk's star continues to rise, I may regret my words if the Voice of the Voiceless does end up feuding with Austin. Austin hasn't competed in an official wrestling match for nearly a decade, and you know the fans are dying to see "one more match" from their old anti-hero. I think Punk is the perfect guy for Austin to put over, because Austin vs. Cena and Austin vs. Orton don't sound very appealing. Not only could they have an awesome exchange of words heading into their match, but depending how much gas Austin has left in the tank, we could see something special come out of a match between them. If WWE ends up missing the boat on this dream match, I'll be really disappointed.
3. The Rock vs. Shawn Michaels
I've lost track of the amount of wrestling fans I talk to on a regular basis who all agree on the same thing: HBK retired at the right point of his career, but it's a damn shame he never got to fight The Rock in a legitimate one-on-one match before doing so. You see, Rock and Michaels never liked each other behind-the-scenes, and they never feuded because neither guy wanted to work with each other (as far as we know). However, even the biggest egomaniacs have put their differences aside in the past and done what's "right for the business" (see: Michaels vs. Hogan at SummerSlam 2005, the Matt Hardy vs. Edge feud and real-life storyline). I'm sure if Rock never left for Hollywood or Michaels was still an active competitor to this day WWE would have found a way to convince the two to wrestle at least one match against each other, and what better place than at Wrestlemania? Considering Michaels' resume at the Granddaddy of Them All, we would certainly be treated to a classic if Michaels and Rock ever locked up.
2. The Undertaker vs. John Cena
Come on, you knew this match was going to make the list. It's a Wrestlemania match that has been requested by fans for years now, and there's a chance we may finally get to see it at next year's show (no way is Rock vs. Cena II or III going down at Wrestlemania 29, get outta here with that shit). Those of you not on the Cena/Taker bandwagon may be asking yourselves why the IWC wants to see this match so badly, especially since A) many of them are Cena-haters and B) some people treasure 'Taker's Wrestlemania Streak more than life itself. Well, it probably has something to do with the surprisingly large amount of in-ring chemistry Cena and The Deadman share. Those of you newer to the sport may have missed out on Cena's SmackDown run and "Thuganomics" gimmick. If you did, you missed out on a great rivalry between Cena and Undertaker that not only helped mold Cena into the mega star he is today, but consisted of a series of great matches between the two. Nothing Match Of The Year worthy of course, but some great matches nonetheless. If I was Undertaker, I'd probably want to have my final Wrestlemania match against someone big, and who bigger than John Cena? It's a dream match that is a lot more probable than Undertaker/Sting or Cena/Hogan.
1. Triple H vs. Edge
Three guesses say you didn't see this one coming. That's right folks, my number one dream Wrestlemania match also happens to be the only match on the list we will absolutely NEVER get to see at The Showcase of the Immortals. Obviously, it's because Edge is retired and unlike Shawn Michaels, cannot risk returning for even one more match. To make matters worse, Edge and HHH had so many opportunities to engage in a long, drawn-out feud over the past fifteen years, but something always got in the way. Either one was on RAW while the other was on SmackDown, or both were simultaneously heel or simultaneously babyface, or one of them went down with an injury, or something else came up. For some unknown reason, the wrestling Gods never gave the fans the pleasure of seeing two of WWE's greatest superstars engage in a real feud. Apart from DX's feud with Rated-RKO and the short-lived Triple H vs. Edge and Vickie storyline from SmackDown a few years back, Triple H and Edge rarely got the chance to mix it up in the ring. The few times they did get to wrestle were good, but you could tell neither was giving their best effort, possibly because they were waiting for a bigger stage to do battle. Alas, Edge's unexpected retirement has made this dream Wrestlemania match an impossibility, and a reminder of how cruel life can be.
So there you have it, my seven dream Wrestlemania matches. There are some major names missing from this list, including the likes of Chris Jericho, Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, and others, but again, this is MY Wrestlemania wish-list, if you will.
Agree with my picks? Disagree? Want to share some of your dream Mania matches? Then let me know!
3. Day 3
Before we get into today's column, here are some quick RAW thoughts:
-As far as in-ring action goes, last night's show clearly did not excel at it, as only one match went longer than three minutes (Orton & Sheamus vs. Bryan & Kane). However, it is the go-home show before Wrestlemania, so you can't blame WWE for wanting to prevent any potential harm to their superstars. Besides, I thought the show did exactly what it was supposed to - hype this Sunday's Pay-Per-View. Apart from the Brodus Clay squash (which I'll come back to later), every single match and segment was done to build Wrestlemania angles. In other words, no filler, all killer.
-If you've kept up with my RAW reviews in recent weeks, you'll know I'm no fan of the build-up to this year's Triple H vs. The Undertaker's match at Wrestlemania. I may be looking forward to the match, but most of their in-ring segments and video packages have come close to putting me to sleep. That being said, I enjoyed the lengthy video recapping both of their careers that aired last night. Unlike their past interactions, it was fast-paced, straight to the point, and reminded me why I cannot wait to see Hell in a Cell on Sunday. Much credit goes to WWE's video editing team, they've been on a roll lately.
-Lastly, it sucks that Christian has been removed from the Wrestlemania line-up, but this is a blessing in disguise for Captain Captain Charisma and his fans. Apparently, the injury angle that took place last night was done because WWE officials don't believe Christian's ankle is 100%. If that is the case, WWE did the right move. I would have loved to see the former two-time World Heavyweight Champion be a part of the biggest show of the year, but if there's a chance of Christian injuring his ankle all over again, it's best to not take the risk. This way, Christian can take his time and not have to worry about any lingering ankle problems, while Drew McIntyre gets a treasured spot at Wrestlemania.
Speaking of valuable Wrestlemania spots, this is where today's main topic comes from. According to a rumor that hit the dirt sheets earlier this morning, the reason Brodus Clay competed on last night's RAW is because WWE is considering having Brodus wrestle at Wrestlemania 28. Not as a member of Team Teddy or Team Johnny as was previously speculated, but in a squash match against a random jobber.
I'll make no bones about it - I am 100% against the idea. Like many people, I hated The Funkasaurus gimmick the first time I saw it, but Brodus won me over as time went by. The song went from being annoying to being rather catchy, Brodus' dancers were just as into the gimmick as he was, and live audiences were really getting into it. Add in the fact that for a man his size, Brodus is an agile, athletic wrestler (I still think those reports of Brodus being "unsafe in the ring" were complete bogus), and you have a gimmick that has the potential to take the wrestling world by storm.
Unfortunately, since The Funkasaurus' RAW debut many months ago, all he has done is win squash matches on RAW and SmackDown. According to live event reports, Brodus gets to wrestle longer matches against tougher competition like The Miz, but the TV audience is yet to see The Funkasaurus wrestle a "standard match". Even as a fan of the big guy and his strange gimmick, I have just about had it with the constant squashes, as he is now beating the same jobbers over and over (Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, Curt Hawkins, etc.). WWE should have moved Brodus into a program with an established mid-carder weeks ago. Brodus vs. Jack Swagger would have been a nice program for the U.S. title. He didn't even have to win the title, just get his feet wet wrestling longer matches on television.
Instead, WWE wants to repeat the same mistake they made at the Royal Rumble and have Brodus wrestle a squash match at Wrestlemania 28 this Sunday. Honestly, I don't see how that can be considered a good idea. Not only would the match be a last-minute addition (which I already HATE for smaller PPVs, let alone Wrestle-freaking-Mania), but it would be the epitome of a bathroom break, which we already have the divas match for.
Look, Wrestlemania (and PPVs in general) should not be used as a commercial. People spend their hard-earned money to watch three-four hours of action, and watch storylines unfold. By booking Brodus Clay in a squash match at Wrestlemania, WWE is basically using the opportunity to push Brodus in front of a lot of eyes. But, why at Wrestlemania? Fans want to see dream matches come true, four-star matches take place, storylines unfold. They don't want to see a two-minute squash match between two guys who shouldn't be on the card (Brodus and the jobber he defeats). I know past Wrestlemanias have featured their share of squash matches, but did they really add anything of worth to the card? No, they didn't. Wrestlemania 28 is poised to be one of the most-stacked Wrestlemanias of all-time. They don't need filler like a Brodus Clay squash match, hell no.
I know a lot of you reading this right now are fans of The Funkasaurus, but don't let your fandom cloud your judgment. As it stands, Wrestlemania 28 is an almost perfect wrestling card. It does not need Brodus Clay squashing Random Jobber B in two minutes. I mean come on, it's Wrestlemania, not an episode of RAW. You can keep pushing Brodus AFTER Wrestlemania, that's fine. But I fail to see the entertainment value in letting Brodus do the same thing he's been doing for months at the biggest PPV of the year.
4. Day 4
Writer's Note: Borrowing from old man Tito, I'm back with another Wrestlemania-themed countdown. However, unlike Tito, I have not seen every Wrestlemania in history. My first live Wrestlemania was WM20, and I've seen most of the other ones on YouTube. Since I didn't see any of those matches live, I can't say I had the same experience as I did when I watched WM20-WM27. Therefore, I give you my top Wrestlemania moments of the last seven years!
10. The John Cena era begins(Wrestlemania 21)
We kick off the countdown with the match that saw the future 12-time world champion win his first-ever WWE Championship. Going into this match, John Cena was arguably at the height of his popularity. He had dropped the United States Championship a few weeks earlier after a lengthy run in the SmackDown midcard division, and was getting ready to release his debut rap album in May of that year. Unfortunately, despite all his success, Cena was unable to have a defining Wrestlemania moment on April 3rd. Some say this is because Cena's match with John Bradshaw Layfield was short and sloppy (which is true), while others say WWE spent more time promoting Cena's album than the match itself (which is also true). Nevertheless, Cena connecting with the FU and defeating JBL for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 21 was still a mark-out moment for Cena fans, and this moment may be more fondly remembered as the years go.
9. Chicago turns on The Champ(Wrestlemania 22)
It's funny how fast things can change in a year's time. John Cena went from being one of the most over guys on the roster to being absolutely despised by a large portion of the audience, specifically by males over the age of fifteen. While some crowds noticeably began to turn on Cena since joining the RAW roster in the 2005 Draft, it wasn't until Wrestlemania 22 came to Chicago that Cena got the stuffing booed out of him in the main-event of the evening. The vocal Chicago crowd wasted no time in tearing Cena a new asshole and cheering for Cena's opponent instead, the villainous Triple H. Not only was Cena vs. HHH an awesome match, but the crowd was electric from start to finish, with "Cena Sucks" chants being constantly repeated. Although they'll never admit it, the right man won that night, as Cena triumphed over Triple H, and the era of "Super Cena" began. I'll never forget that night, as it made me question my Cena fandom going forward, and it was a driving factor to make me join the Internet Wrestling Community not even a year later.
8. Jeff Hardy nearly breaks Edge in half(Wrestlemania 23)
By the time Wrestlemania 23 rolled around, the Money in the Bank Ladder Match had become a staple at Wrestlemania since 2005. The third edition featured plenty of guys with ladder match experience (Edge, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy), and as a result, were probably looking to steal the show at Wrestlemania. If that was indeed the case, then mission accomplished. In case you haven't seen the replay, Jeff's brother Matt stretched the diabolical Edge across a ladder set up at ringside and urged Jeff to climb to the top of the ladder in the ring. Once atop, Jeff had a choice - reach and retrieve the MitB briefcase, or cause more damage to his opponent by delivering a 20-foot leg drop onto Edge. A sane person would have chosen the former, but this is Jeff Hardy we're talking about. With Edge lying helpless on the ladder, Jeff took a deep breath and landed with all his force across The Rated R Superstar's chest, crushing the ladder in the process. To nobody's surprise, both men were wheeled out of the arena on stretchers, removed from the match, and left the crowd in awe. It was a high-risk, low-reward spot that left the wrestling world buzzing, and made even the toughest brawlers cringe at the sight of it.
7. Trish leaves Jericho for the other Chris(Wrestlemania 20)
Going into my first-ever Wrestlemania (20), Chris Jericho vs. Christian was one of the match-ups I was most looking forward to. Oh, don't get me wrong, I was pumped up for the main-attractions in Evolution vs. Rock & Foley, Angle vs. Guerrero, and Benoit vs. HHH vs. HBK, but WWE did a fantastic job in promoting this midcard bout months earlier. As a fellow Canadian, I had a chuckle or two over Jericho and Christian's multiple references to The Great White North (not Sheamus) and thought they had a great feud going on. The match itself was pretty darn good, and one of the best of the night (although it had some strong competition). However, it's what happened in the bout's closing moments that I'll never forget. Trish Stratus, Jericho's love interest and WWE's number one babyface diva, accidentally struck Jericho, which allowed Christian to steal a victory. Immediately afterwards, Trish revealed that her miscue was no accident as she ditched Y2J and made out with Captain Charisma instead. It was the perfect twist to a love story on the grandest stage of them all, and Jericho's sad, rejected face is an image that still pulls at my heart-strings to this day. So much for "bros before hoes".
6. Floyd flaunts his stuff(Wrestlemania 24)
One of the biggest surprises in Wrestlemania history occurred when world-renown boxer and heavyweight champion Floyd Mayweather met The Big Show in a highly-promoted, no disqualification match at Wrestlemania 24. Before both men made their entrance, there was a large percentage of the viewing audience who were dreading the match. After all, it was a non-wrestler taking on a slow, 500-pound giant. How good could the match be? The shocking result = VERY good. Both men knew they had their work cut out, as both were limited in what they could do in and outside the ring. But Show and Mayweather didn't let that stop them, as they brawled all over the arena, and the match was filled with innovative spots and impressive moments. Mayweather would eventually get the hard-fought win, but not before wowing the crowd in the process. Apparently Triple H helped put this match together beforehand, but credit goes out to everyone who made this match WAY better than it had any right to be.
5. Edge spears Foley through a flaming table(Wrestlemania 22)
You knew this was coming, didn't you? I mean, it's only one of the most over-played highlights since the 2006 Pay-Per-View. For those not up to speed with the backstory, Edge was in the middle of his rise to superstardom, but with the WWE Championship scene already filled up, Edge needed something to do, and so he urged the Hardcore Legend Mick Foley to face him at Wrestlemania 22. Foley agreed, but to an Extreme Rules match, and it was on! What transpired was a great, violent, back-and-forth match between the two wrestling greats, that saw the use of chairs, barbwire, and even be Lita physically abused. Foley, bless his fighting spirit, refused to stay down. That is, until Edge set a table at ringside on fire and proceeded to SPEAR Foley all the way through it. It was one of the sickest bumps I can remember, and it's a miracle neither guy seriously hurt themselves afterwards. Edge may have won the match, but Foley finally got what eluded him throughout his legendary career - a Wrestlemania moment.
4. Jericho and The Dragon steal the show(Wrestlemania 25)
The original plan going into the 25th Anniversary of Wrestlemania (how I HATED that moniker) was for Jericho to face Mickey Rourke. The idea came up due to the popularity of Rourke's movie "The Wrestler" and Vince McMahon wanted to capitalize on the attention by putting Rourke on the Mania card. However, plans fell through, and Jericho was hot-shot into a feud against WWE Hall of Famers Ric Flair, Jimmy Snuka, Roddy Piper, and Ricky Steamboat instead. With Flair in their corner, the other three legends challenged Jericho to a handicap match at Wrestlemania. After quickly disposing of Piper and Snuka, Jericho looked to finish off 'The Dragon' just as quickly. To almost everyone's shock, Steamboat proved he still had plenty of gas left in the tank, as he hung with Jericho for much longer than his teammates did, even coming close to putting away the cocky Y2J several times. Alas, it was not meant to be, as Jericho would vanquish his foe, but the crowd's chants of "You Got It" summed up the bout perfectly. No one expected much from the match, but Jericho and Steamboat put on a mini-classic that had the crowd on their feet in disbelief. Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker undoubtedly had the best match of the night, but Jericho and Steamboat gave them a run for their money.
3. Thank You Shawn(Wrestlemania 26)
After Shawn Michaels and Undertaker wrestled a classic at Wrestlemania the year before, WWE thought it would be a good idea to have them square off one more time at WM26. Except this time, not only was Taker's Wrestlemania Streak on the line as usual, but Michaels would be forced into retirement if he lost. Going into Wrestlemania 26, the stakes couldn't have been higher. The fans couldn't imagine The Streak being broken, but they couldn't picture WWE without The Heartbreak Kid, either. This "something has to give" stipulation added a sense of urgency to the match that their previous one did not. However, after twenty-four minutes of nail-biting action, Undertaker finally put Michaels away with a Super-Tombstone Piledriver after HBK refused to beg for mercy and gave his opponent one last, defiant slap. Just like that, Michaels' legendary career was over. The fans in attendance, not sure what to think, showed their appreciation for the future Hall of Famer, and wept along with Shawn as the show went off the air. A fitting end to one of the best Wrestlemania performers of all-time.
2. Benoit and Eddie reign supreme(Wrestlemania 20)
I may get some heat over this, but I don't let Chris Benoit's final moments in life change the way I view his wrestling career. As a result, his world title victory at Wrestlemania 20 and his post-match celebration with his best friend, Eddie Guerrero, is my second-greatest Wrestlemania moment since 2004. Not much explanation is needed, really. Everyone knows how Benoit and Eddie worked in WCW together and jumped ship to WWE at the same time. They embarked on separate career paths, and after several years of hard work, accomplished their lifelong dream - being the champion of the world at Wrestlemania. Rarely do you see wrestlers display their true emotions on television, but when tears rolled down both men's faces as they embraced in the ring, man oh man, that was moving. It's a tragedy that neither guy is still with us today, and even if it takes fifty years, I hope WWE one day gets past the Benoit ban, as moments like this are what dreams are made of.
1. "I'm Sorry, I Love You"(Wrestlemania 24)
If you were witness to these five words as they came out of Shawn Michaels' mouth, then you don't need me to explain why I chose this as my number one Wrestlemania moment. For the 1% of you who don't know what I'm talking about, it was another career-threatening match involving HBK, except it wasn't The Showstopper's career on the line, but his opponent's, Ric Flair. You see, Vince McMahon was running RAW back in 2008 and he put Flair in a do-or-die situation, in which Flair would be fired if he didn't win every single match he wrestled. After surviving the likes of MVP at the Royal Rumble, Mr. Kennedy at No Way Out, and even Triple H, Flair asked Shawn to be his opponent at Wrestlemania 24. HBK reluctantly accepted, but warned Flair he would "put Old Yeller out of his misery once and for all". The match itself was a thing of beauty, and one of the night's best contests, but more because of the drama than from a technical standpoint. After hitting Michaels with everything in his playbook, Flair rose to his feet for one last stand, and begged Shawn to finish him off with one last Sweet Chin Music. Michaels, with a heart-breaking look on his face, visibly mouthed the words "I'm sorry, I love you" and connected with his finisher for the inevitable three-count. Michaels didn't want to do it, but Flair gave him no choice. The conclusion of one of the best storylines of 2008 and an unforgettable story told inside the ring gets the nod for my number one Wrestlemania moment of the past eight years.
5. Day 5
Chrisss: Well Mr. Skittlez, the time has come. We endured a below-average Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View. We were treated to an awesome Elimination Chamber event. But the end of March is quickly approaching, which can only mean one thing - Wrestlemania is almost here! Are you as excited as I am?
Skitz: Most likely. I wouldn't exactly describe the February PPV as being 'awesome' but it was certainly passable. WM28 is an entirely separate beast though and I'm just stoked that we've finally reached game time. The Road to WrestleMania and all the build which comes along with it is fantastic but the psyche can only handle so many consecutive weeks of advertsising.
Chrisss: Bah, I enjoyed the hell out of the Chamber PPV, but I can see why it wasn't everyone's cup of tea. But you're right, it's always a good feeling when you know The Road to Wrestlemania is "officially" upon us, and besides the token divas match, WWE have built a really stacked card. Out of curiosity, which bout are you most looking forward to on April 1? If you say Randy Orton vs. Kane, you might as well leave now.
Skitz: While I haven't hated the various exchanges between the two throughout March like everyone else has, it definitely wouldn't be Orton/Kane. Honestly, I'd probably have to choose Jericho/Punk; followed closely by the War of GMs. There's been a handful of high caliber feuds leading up to the global phenomenon so it's difficult not setting lofty goals for this particular 'Mania.
Chrisss: I'm with you, bro. Jericho/Punk is still a dream come true, and WWE has invested so much time into Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny, the match better deliver. I hope Sheamus and Daniel Bryan get at least ten minutes to work with, and don't get lost in the card. Speaking of which, will we see the Royal Rumble winner kick off Mania for the second year in a row?
Skitz: In my mind, yes. Given the quality of contests elsewhere on the card, the World Heavyweight Title bout opening the show makes the most sense to me. And considering how the YES Man & Sheamus were relegated to dark match a year ago, the quasi main event fits there perfectly.
Chrisss: LOL @ "Yes Man", clever nickname for D-Bryan. I unfortunately think you're right, but that may be in both men's interest, as the crowd will definitely be into it if it's the opening match.
But enough jibber, let's do our non-paying job and predict Wrestlemania 28!
Intercontinental Championship: Cody Rhodes (c.) vs. The Big Show
Skitz: How many respective WrestleMania feuds have we seen thus far in '12 include minimal to no physicality? Guess it goes to show how overly cautious the company is about avoiding any serious injuries that might throw a monkey wrench in their plans. This program has followed that same criteria but mainly because of the size differential between Cody & TBS. Although the giant's played his role fine, Rhodes has carried their upcoming contest on the mic. The reigning IC Champ's persona is tailor made for an angle where he's poking fun at his adversary's flaws/failures on a weekly basis.
Chrisss: Well, in the case of Triple vs. Undertaker, you can't blame WWE for preventing any physical interaction between the Hell in A Cell participants, since 'Taker is so fragile at his age. But I see what you're getting at. As far as this feud goes, it makes sense for Show and Rhodes to contain minimal contact. Rhodes is coming across as the cocky, chicken-shit heel, and him constantly fleeing from The Big Show is only enraging the giant, which will make the payoff at Wrestlemania even sweeter. There's almost no way Rhodes can top his match against Mysterio from last year's Mania, is there?
Skitz: Hell no. But that's because Rey Mysterio is a much more accessible wrestler between the ropes and Cody's small enough to keep up with The Mexican Jumping Bean's frenetic pace. Unfortunately, the massive girth of TBS makes it extremely tough to put forth an above par performance with him; especially in a 1-on-1 bout where the giant's limitations are fully exposed. With the way this program's been outlined, the chances of Rhodes exiting victorious are next to impossible.
Chrisss: See, I agree that this feud has been booked heavily in Cody's favour, but tell me this - can you imagine The Big Show becoming the new Intercontinental Champion at Wrestlemania? I certainly cannot, especially in 2012 when the young roster is brimming with potential. I know Show could end up dropping the title a few weeks later, maybe even at Extreme Rules, but I don't see the logic in putting Show over Rhodes on the biggest PPV of the year just for the giant to redeem his Wrestlemania record.
Skitz: But this isn't The Attitude Era anymore, homie. Villains don't routinely own faces on the stick and during matches with little consequence. The 500-pounder's been placed in this spot so the veteran can enjoy his own respective WrestleMania moment before retirement rears its' ugly head. If the company refuses to give him at least one final hurrah as World Champion (FYI: Last December doesn't count), why not treat Big Show to a consolation prize? Besides, Cody's held the belt for roughly seven months and defended it like six times... Big whoop. Rhodes will manage just fine for now without any hardware.
Chrisss: I don't disagree with your logic, but having Big Show beat Cody Rhodes at Wrestlemania to win the Intercontinental Championship sounds like bad booking 101 to me. Maybe that's my bias talking, as I'm a huge fan of Rhodes and couldn't care less about Big Show, but that's where I stand on the issue. I'm going with Rhodes using some dirty tactics to retain the title at Mania.
Skitz: Hey, don't get it twisted. I'm rooting for the second generation star to prove me wrong and grace us with yet another unflattering Big Show visual. But reality tells me TBS will finally gain a measure of revenge against his nemesis in Miami. I just hope this receives more than 90 fucking seconds. Save that shit for the Divas and let Cody shine on the big stage.
Chrisss: Preach it, brother. If this match ends up being nothing more than a glorified squash in Big Show's favour, it would put a damper on what could be an epic Wrestlemania. Let's hope you're wrong, though.
Chrisss's pick: Rhodes retains the title
Skitz's pick: Show wins the title
Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres
Chrisss: Hey, speaking of the bimbos, it's the match everyone is NOT looking forward to! Seriously, besides the highlights from Extra, has this match received any hype on WWE television whatsoever?
Skitz: Nope. And honestly, it shouldn't. On paper, the twenty-eighth installment of WrestleMania has all the makings of the most technically sound edition yet... minus this cat fight. While I'm sure said tag team bout won't be anything dreadful, an expected Khama/Phoenix clash would've really completed the card in my opinion. Screw childbirth and the complications it brings a professional athlete. The hatred here should really be aimed at Kong's baby daddy. You couldn't decide to have a kid a month or two sooner? What kinda hokey fucking rubbers were you using!? And if this is a birth control issue, so help me God.
Chrisss: Mr. Kharma is a selfish bastard, no doubt about it. Then again, Phoenix vs. Kharma would have made the card a bit TOO perfect. I guess WWE didn't want to deprive the fans their cherished bathroom break, especially during a four-hour show. But that's no excuse for this match-up, though. Since Natalya is apparently a face now, they could have at least went with Natalya vs. Phoenix, but noooo Kelly, Eve, and Maria Something are obviously more deserving of a match at Wrestlemania instead. *smh*
Skitz: Disgusting, isn't it? We should be thankful though for Menounos having some experience in the squard circle (unlike Snooki). In a perfect world, The Glamazon would decimate everybody; prompting Kharma to appear and trade punches with Beth. Pipe dreams aside, I believe a large part of this Divas dribble is to highlight Eve's heel turn and Phoenix evening the score with Maria from her upset win at Tribute to the Troops
Chrisss: Whoa there, buddy! Snooki wasn't half-bad last year. She didn't let the boos get to her, and I laughed when she shut the crowd up with her impressive acrobats. Maria may have the experience, but how good can any match be that also includes Kelly and Eve? I really hope Kharma does make an appearance, as it's the only thing that would make this bout worth half my time. I'm sure the face team picks up the win, although we could see the Beth and Eve screw over the goody-goodies, but honestly, who cares?
Skitz: For reals. I apologize for being predictable and jumping aboard the Divas hate train but the upside to this bloody tampon is virtually non-existent. I'm holding out hope that the only reason WWE pulled the plug on a rumored Beth/Kharma title bout is because they were prolonging Kong's return until 'Mania itself. This crapfest holds zero bearing on the future which doesn't help its' cause whatsoever. Eve will keep toying with Zack Ryder's emotions, Maria will go back to her lousy TV show and The Glamazon will continue being underutilized.
Chrisss: In other words, this match is a complete waste of time and nothing but filler at Wrestlemania. Oh, well. Maybe one day we'll get a decent women's match at Wrestlemania. We haven't seen one since Trish vs. Mickie at Wrestlemania 22, which is an eternity ago. Sigh. Pick a winner so we can get on with the good stuff.
Skitz: The heels walk away with the 'W'. The company officials wanna push Eve in the ring as well as on the microphone and I just can't picture Phoenix jobbing to a non-wrestler again; much less on a platform of this magnitude. Pray that the visual torture lasts under 5 or 6 minutes and features a low number of miscues. But for the record, I'd much rather watch Rosa Mendes shake her hips that duration. Mmmmmm mesmerizing.
Chrisss: I was fortunate enough to see Rosa in person when WWE came to Montreal last week, and damn does she move those hips, son. It's crazy. I again disagree with you and I'm going with the face team. Why? Because it's Wrestlemania, and the face divas and celebrities usually win at the big event, and that trend won't change this year. I just hope Eve is the one who takes the pin, not the divas champion.
Chrisss's pick: Kelly & Maria win
Skitz's pick: Beth & Eve win
Kane vs. Randy Orton
Skitz: Apparently, the majority of our fellow IWC members are displeased with The Viper & Big Red Machine's heated confrontations which I just don't understand. Both individuals are, in some form or another, bigger than the 12-man tag team contest. Each warrants prominent placement and this a completely mutual comprimise for me. While I would've preferred Orton being added to Bryan/Sheamus, facing Kane allows for a much more hard hitting brawl that better suits Randy.
Chrisss: Yeah, I don't get all the hatred for this match-up. Is it a thrown-together feud? Without a doubt. But other than adding Orton to Bryan vs. Sheamus, what else would Orton have done at Mania? Being a part of Team Teddy makes no sense considering Long is responsible for removing Orton from Elimination Chamber in the first place. Wade Barrett got injured at the last minute, and Rhodes is busy with Big Show. Coming off a major rivalry with John Cena, Kane was the best choice to face Orton at Mania. The match won't be a classic, but it won't be terrible either.
Skitz: Indeed. I imagine their bout being structured similar to Kane/Angle from WrestleMania X8 (albeit consisting of a tad less athleticism). And judging on how this feud's been booked up to this point, the man who gets his hand raised this Sunday is anything but academic. Folks who rush to bring up the endless string of RKO's that Orton has hit each week are fucking idiots. Surely, you dildos don't have storyline amnesia? Give WWE a little bit more credit than completely burying the Big Red Machine all month and then putting The Viper over cleanly.
Chrisss: Another comparison to Angle/Kane from ten years earlier, I see. It almost feels like we're seeing a renewed version of Wrestlemania 17/18 with Kane vs. Orton, Cena vs. The Rock (instead of Rock/Hogan) and Triple H vs. The Undertaker. Can't be a coincidence, no way.
Going back to your point, I find it strange WWE is booking Kane rather weakly in this feud because I can't wrap my brain around the thought of The Big Red Machine leaving Miami with the win. I'm sure there's a chance of it happening, but if I was a betting man, I'd put my money on The Viper, who was once WWE's second biggest star (Hi CM Punk). This is a tough one to call, actually. Both guys sort of need the win.
Skitz: True but Kane could benefit more from a victory. The poor dude is STARVING for some sense of triumph over a premier star. Sadly, I also can't imagine the Big Red Machine scoring a three count... but he will leave Miami with the upper hand in a rivalry that's only beginning. I've given this match staunch consideration and believe The Viper wins via disqualification. Orton attempts the RKO and one of two things happens: Either Randy connects with his finisher and Kane rolls out of the ring or Mr. See No Evil thwarts the move and grabs a weapon. That's how I see this bad boy playing out; setting up a gimmick bout of some sort at Extreme Rules.
Chrisss: I've always hated when feuds don't end at Wrestlemania but instead use the big stage to begin their rivalry. It's also why I've never been too fond of WWE's April and May PPVs. That's why it pains me to admit you may very well be right, but I cannot imagine such an "important match" - if you ask Orton - ending via disqualification or no contest at Wrestlemania. Therefore, I'm going with Orton for the clean win via RKO. Kane could always get his heat back by assaulting The Viper post-match.
Skitz: Fair point. Based on how 'personally intense' a few of these rivalries have been hyped as such, we're bound to witness a non-finish somewhere on the card. If I had to make an assumption, Orton/Kane is my odds-on favorite to end messily. As they say, there's always tomorrow. I'm firmly opposed to The Viper defeating his foe cleanly at 'Mania though.
Chrisss: Opposed to Orton winning - or "burying" - Kane? You're not the only one, bro, trust me. But this isn't a discussion of what we feel is right and wrong, it's about picking who we think will be enjoying the pleasure of victory. Like it or not, I have to listen to my head and go with Orton for the win.
Skitz: Stubborn ass foreigner. Please change the subject before I lose my temper
World Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Bryan (c.) vs. Sheamus
Chrisss: We briefly touched on this match-up earlier on, but I want to take this moment to credit both men for taking the minimal amount of TV time they've been given to promote their match and making it must-see. A few weeks ago, Sheamus vs. Bryan almost felt like an afterthought, and if the world title wasn't on the line, you'd think WWE was toying with the idea of bumping them off Mania for the second consecutive year. However, both men have been playing their roles excellently, with Sheamus, the brave number one contender chasing after Bryan, the cowardly world champion. I don't know why, but I'm really excited for their match on Sunday. Aren't you?
Skitz: Well for a guy who's booking (sans winning the '12 Royal Rumble) has been uninspiring since becoming a face last summer, The Celtic Warrior has improved tenfold just over the past calendar year. From wrestling smart matches to speaking more comfortably on the stick, Sheamus is on another level nowadays. And on the other side of the spectrum, D-Bryan has been killin' it every Friday night since cashing in his MITB opportunity three plus months ago. Many people have compared The Dragon's heel transformation to Punk's 2009 campaign but they're totally different in execution. Bryan deserves every compliment thrown in his direction since the TLC pay per view. Not to mention the World Heavyweight Champion has graced us with A.J.'s sexy butt every time he's made an appearance. Who wouldn't spread those legs or bend that over? Omitting gay dudes of course.
Chrisss: Only you would turn a conversation about Bryan and Sheamus into an analysis of Aj's ass (side-note - i would so hit that, Lord Have Mercy!)
Anyways, I couldn't agree more. Both men have done a stellar job in making WWE look like fools for bumping them off Wrestlemania 27 by turning their characters into gimmicks the fans are really into. Sheamus went from a heel receiving lukewarm heat to a face who is quickly catching up to Orton in terms of popularity on SmackDown. Bryan went from being a face midcarder to - dare I say - the blue brand's top heel. Each evolution took place in less than six months, and there is no one more deserving of fighting for SmackDown's top prize at Wrestlemania (except for maybe Mark Henry. Poor guy).
Skitz: Bah SkidMark can suck my nuts. He's exactly where he belongs on the card; in a dominant position representing Team Johnny. However it doesn't matter how badass of a heel Henry became during the second half of 2011... I still don't want that negro anywhere near a WrestleMania main event unless it's a multi-man scenario. Just strikes me as Snoozeville and there are droves of younger, more talented wrestlers better equipped to headline the global phenomenon. No matter where the World Title contest lands on the card, I'm confident that Bryan and The Great White will do everything with the time they're given to steal the show.
Chrisss: Pfft, hater. Henry deserved that world title reign based on his hilarious mic work alone. But at least he made it back in time for Wrestlemania, so I can't complain.
The way I see it, Sheamus and Bryan have as good a chance of stealing the show as anybody else, if not better. As long as they don't go on after HHH/Taker, they should be fine. I'm still against the idea of the Royal Rumble winner competing in the opening match at Mania, but in this case, it might work to their advantage, as it did with Del Rio vs. Edge last year. As for the winner, you've got to go with Sheamus. Bryan's had a great run as champion, but Wrestlemania is the time to pull the trigger on Sheamus being the brand's top face. Orton won't be happy, but that's life.
Skitz: Ha! I had an inkling you'd lean in that direction. As strong as the ginger's looked on television since busting a load on Christian's face last fall, Sheamus isn't removing the gold from Bryan's waist yet. You'd figure the Royal Rumble winner would finally seize success at this 'Mania since the #1 contender hasn't completed the journey since 2007 but D-Bri is on too much of a roll. Basically, it'd be a crime for management to schedule a title switch at this juncture. Sheamus will capture the World Heavyweight Championship sooner rather than later but not on April 1st. Not. Fuckin'. Happening.
Chrisss: Ah, but that's partly why I am picking Sheamus to win the title at Wrestlemania. Like you said, it's been five long years since the Royal Rumble winner has gotten the job done at Mania. Sheamus will be the one to break the curse, I guarantee it. WWE's annual "All About The Numbers" Royal Rumble video package is getting a lower percentage of title wins with every passing year. At this rate, a superstar is better off competing for the title at Elimination Chamber than going through twenty-nine other men in January. I love Bryan, but he's going down on April 1.
Skitz: Nonsense. So you're telling me in their current states, Sheamus needs the strap more than D-Bri? The YES Man would prosper more if he retained the hardware at WM28 and carried the title for an extra month or two.
Chrisss: I disagree. Bryan has held onto the title for over three months now. I think he's done enough to not stumble too far down the card once he drops the belt. A lot of people won't like it, but a Sheamus victory is the way to go.
Chrisss's pick: Sheamus wins the title
Skitz's pick: Bryan retains the title
12-Man Tag Team Match: Team Teddy (Santino Marella, The Great Khali, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Booker T, and Zack Ryder) vs. Team Johnny (David Otunga, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry, and The Miz)
Skitz: All joking aside, I've been pleasantly surprised with how this feud's developed over the past few months. Right off the bat, we as wrestling fans should be completely content with how this situation has blossomed into a Survivor Series-esque clusterfuck. Fuck the clowns trolling the LOP forums who constantly complain about Del Rio, Christian, Rey Mysterio, Brodus Clay, Mick Foley, etc. being left off each team. You bastards should be thanking the Lord above every night that WWE didn't saddle us with Laurinaitis versus Long 1-on-1 at WM28. Next thing I know, dudes will be complaining about their bitches' pussy being too wet. Try smiling once in awhile and maybe go a week without beating your pets or children.
Chrisss: Thoughts of Cole vs. Lawler from last year's show were the first thing that came to mind when Teddy and Johnny began feuding last month. Fortunately, WWE were wise enough to learn from their past mistakes and keep the non-active wrestlers out of the squared circle. As far as the actual teams go, I have little to complain about. Everyone who should be on the card is in this match, as there's a healthy balance of veterans - Miz, Booker, Henry - mixed with new blood - Otunga, Ryder, Ziggler - to make this one worth seeing. The question is, will WWE devote some time to the action and make the hype worthwhile, or will it be a repeat of last year's clusterfuck eight-man tag which lasted all of two minutes?
Skitz: Fortunately, management's devoted so much TV time to this storyline that we're pretty much guaranteed the multi-man melee will receive ample minutes. Not to mention the fate of both General Manager is hanging in the balance. Do I envision the 12-man tag bout reaching its full potential? Hell no. But considering that not every guy in this match is a laughing stalk, I can imagine this being given closer to half an hour; factoring in the 49 separate ring entrances of course. My main concern here is the focus on individual performance. While studs like Ziggler & Kofi should shoulder most of the work load, I better see every participant used or else booked properly dammit.
Chrisss: In other words, if Khail wrestles the majority of the match for Team Teddy, we got a problem, don't we? I agree that Team Teddy is quite the odd bunch (minorities for the win?) but they have some of the company's most popular superstars on the same team, so I can't see the crowd being dead for the action, no matter how long it goes. What I'm wondering is if we get the predictable - and logical - Team Johnny victory, or do you sense a swerve coming, in Miz screwing over his team and turning face in the process?
Skitz: Think about it logically, Canuck. From a fan's perspective, you're constantly wishing for the best possible entertainment possible. And while Johnny hasn't exactly set the world on fire since filling in during Hunter's absence, Mr. Excitement's offered us a corporate suit who's gone mad with power. I dunno about you but a villanous GM sounds much more intriguing than Theo shimmy'ing on both brands for the next year plus. Long's been doing the same shtick for 7 fucking years which tells me the prodict desperately needs a bit of change. Now on the contrary, the faces could realistically win at 'Mania and Laurinaitis becomes a manager of Otunga or Lord Tensai but I'm not convinced.
Chrisss: Oh, don't get me wrong, by no means am I underestimating Big Johnny. It's always possible that Long wins, only for Johnny to reveal he is still the E.V.P. of Talent Relations and fires Teddy on the spot, thus rendering the match (and feud) rather pointless. But with so many faces on one side, and with Team Johnny being booked so strongly, I'd find it a bit odd if the good guys go down at Wrestlemania. That being said, I cannot picture Long being in charge of both shows, especially at his tender age. F*** it, I'm going with Team Johnny for the win.
Skitz: Uh seconded. Vince & Co. might be prepared to swerve the majority but I'm playing it safe here. Johnny's recruited a quartet of former World Champion and two wrestlers each fresh off daunting losing streaks. You've gotta figure both Miz & Drew's luck are bound to change soon and this event could certainly be the catalyst. An elimination type format would've been sweet tits but with a dozen bodies all interacting at once, the odds of a quick pinfall are ridiculously slim.
Chrisss: Exactamundo. Let's just hope they save the swerve for Cody vs. Big Show instead.
Chrisss's pick: Team Johnny wins
Skitz's pick: Team Johnny wins
WWE Championship: CM Punk (c.) vs. Chris Jericho
Chrisss: With all due respect for Triple H/Undertaker and Cena/Rock, THIS is the match I'm dying to see come Sunday night. It is a dream match that I've been waiting to see since Punk created the Straight-Edge Society many years ago. Both men truly are two of the best wrestlers in the world, and I have no doubt they will tear the house down, no matter where they end up on the card. I still think WWE would be making a huge blunder by having them go on first, though.
Skitz: Yeah there's no disputing anything here because 90% of my WrestleMania investment lies in this contest. Despite Edge/ADR opening the show in '11, this bad boy should land nowehere on the card besides the tail end. By and large your MOTN for several reasons. Technically, no other WM28 match can hang with Punk/Y2J. And say what you will about Jericho airing the reigning champ's dirty laundry on national television but I'll take a personal angle over the straightforward approach of Wrestler 'A' versus Wrestler 'B' any day. Determining who's the best in the world is fine and dandy but a feud set for the global phenomenon requires more than that.
Chrisss: Exactly. If this ISN'T the match of the night, I'll be shocked, no doubt about it. But the only thing troubling me is the outcome. I know Jericho is rumored to once again be leaving WWE a few months from now, but Jericho could be trolling the IWC for the millionth time this century. Or, even if Jericho does plan on leaving, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of the company putting the belt on Jericho this Sunday just so the two could face off at the next two PPVs as well. Hmmm, Punk or Jericho? Help me out, Candyman.
Skitz: With the elevation of Punk since last summer, management still needs to further establish him. Stone Cold, Triple H & John Cena all had singnature World Title reigns during their peak years. To drive home the point that Mr. Sobriety is in fact the real deal, WWE must book Punk as the victor this Sunday. I believe solidifying Cookie Monster's status atop RAW was the companies' motivation for bringing Jericho back when they did. The Straightedge Superstar's defeating credible names such as Cena, Del Rio & The Miz which should be impressive enough by itself. But in order to build towards the future, Punkster's career hinges on holding his own against a HOF caliber talent who's succeeded outside the world of pro wrestling.
Chrisss: Makes sense to me. Punk has come up short at the last two Wrestlemanias, and he needs a big singles victory to solidify his main-event status. While I agree that Jericho is the perfect guy to put Punk over (since Night of Champions proved Triple H is not willing to do the job just yet), where does Jericho go from here? One more shot at Punk and his WWE Championship at Extreme Rules? Does he put over another up-and-comer? Or does he ride off into the sunset for the hundredth time in his career? It's not Punk's future that troubles me, but that of Y2J.
Skitz: Eh I'm not concerned. There was some news bit posted a few days ago citing that the first-ever Undisputed Champion had extended his contract with WWE through this summer which warms my cockles. There are plenty of avenues for Jericho to explore after he parts ways with Mr. Sobriety and people will laugh but I'd look no farther than Zack Ryder. Can you even fathom how much a young buck like the Long Island Iced Z could learn from working a dozen or so matches with Y2J? Also keep in mind, the Fozzy frontman doesn't necessarily need to feud with another star extensively right after his current program finishes. I'd have no issue with Jericho simply facing the companies' younger athletes and shaking the tree a bit.
Chrisss: I was contemplating a feud between Ryder and Jericho, but I'm glad you beat me to it, so I won't sound like a fanboy as usual. Contract extension or not, you've sold me on this one. Punk retains, and gets revenge on Jericho for crossing the line these past few weeks on RAW.
Skitz: Lovely. Glad to hear I'm skilled at influencing the weak minded. Given the other co-main event contests on the card, I'll be pleased as punch if the WWE Championship bout receives over 17 minutes. Truthfully, anything less would be highway robbery. Y2J thrives on stealing the show at 'Mania whenever he's involved so barring random injury, I'm quite confident that Jericho and The Straightedge Superstar will create their own electricity in Miami. But despite the challenger's best efforts, Cookie Monster will exact revenge and exit with his title stint intact.
Chrisss's pick: Punk retains the title
Skitz's pick: Punk retains the title
Hell In A Cell Match: The Undertaker vs. Triple H (with Shawn Michaels as Guest Referee)
Skitz: As per expected, we witnessed zero physicality between the two throughout the build-up to their showdown on April 1st; even after Michaels' announcement that he'd be officiating the rematch. While they often furiate me, I'll give WWE kudos for adding extra ingrediants to HHH/Taker III because booking a HIAC contest was the only scenario in which Sir Fruity would approve such redundancy. Based on The Phenom & Hunter's respective history inside the cell, it's rather fitting that the structure's most dominant victims would resolve their tension surrounded by steel. Toss in the wild card of HBK who's serving as referee and I'm sold.
Chrisss: Sometimes we think alike. It scares me. I was dreading this contest as soon as they began hinting at it months ago, but as long as the cell is around, I'm fine with it. The Streak may not be in any more jeopardy than it was last year, with or without HBK in striped colours, but it's going to be one hell of a match. I really hope Shawn does more than just Sweet Chin Music one of them, because it means he'll be standing out doing nothing for 20+ minutes. Many people I've talked to are insisting this should be the main-event, not Rock vs. Cena, which I think is blasphemy, but with WWE, you never know. Thoughts?
Skitz: Humorous. What ass backwards retard would assume Undertaker & The Game headline the event when WWE booked Cena/Rock a year in advance and have hyped it to absurd proportions? Without question, Johnson and Mr. HLR are closing the show. Yet I wouldn't be shocked whatsoever if the HIAC war impresses more people than said dream match. Trips, Shawn & The Deadman all have fantastic chemistry and know better than most how to capitalize on an opportunity of this magnitude.
Chrisss: That's what I said, but they refused to listen. Stubborn bastards. But more on Team Bring It And Team Cenation in a bit. I agree that three musketeers have plenty of chemistry, but Michaels and Taker proved at WM26 that it's quite the challenge to make a rematch completely different from the first. Possible, yes, but difficult. Of course, the demonic structure and the mysterious Michaels will change the atmosphere dramatically compared to last year, but can they silence their critics once and for all?
Skitz: Ugh probably not. It goes back to spoiled little shits who expect the world on a platter. You know, as well as I do, the IWC faithful will find something or another to complain about when it relates to veteran stars in powerful positions. "OMG the match was so slow and boring that I was literally falling asleep ten minutes in"... "HBK didn't add anything to HIAC and sucked as a referee".... "WWE is sooooooo predictable. We all knew who was gonna wins"... "Fuck all three of them for hogging the spotlight from da younger guys"... "My vagina's sore and cramping"... Etc, etc, etc.
Chrisss: Amen to that. WWE are spoiling us with Jericho vs. Punk at Mania and THEY'RE STILL NOT HAPPY!!! I gave up on those people a long time ago, and so should you. Anyways, I think it's pretty clear The Streak reaches 20-0 on Sunday. But I'm going to take it a step further and say HBK screws over his buddy, Triple H.
Skitz: I actually agree with you to a degree. As far as the contest's closing moments are concerned, I suspect the finish will play out one of two ways. 1) Michaels drops Taker with sweet chin music but then does a 180 and floors his best buddy. 2) Shawn attempts to blast The Phenom but accidentally superkicks Hunter and begrudgingly counts to three. Management wouldn't have booked HBK as a third party unless he was playing an intricate part in the final decision. No matter what shenanigans ensue within the steel structure, Undertaker survives a tricky situation. Besides, the C.O.O. needs to profit off him at future WrestleMania's.
Chrisss: Interesting finish, I wouldn't mind seeing it go down that way. As long as The Streak survives, I'm a happy camper.
Chrisss: Well, we're finally here. After 364 days of Twitter wars, promo battles, and a forgettable Survivor Series main-event (R.I.P. Awesome Truth), the wait is finally over. This Sunday, we are treated to the biggest Wrestlemania main-event since Rock did battle with Hulk Hogan exactly ten years earlier. The build-up to this juggernaut has been disappointing at best, but that won't stop the fans from going bonkers for this match.
Skitz: Wrestling marks have been overly critical of the interaction between these crossover celebrities and rightfully so on certain occasions. However any man, woman or child who thought Rocky & Cenation would come to blows before WM28 are dumbfucks. Vince has seemingly done everything possible to refrain from the movie stars blowing their wads ahead of schedule; whether it be battle raps, music concerts, history lessons or dick measuring competitions. The promos seemed stagnant here and there but Cena constantly owned his opposition on the mic which should provide WWE's Poster Boy with extra ammunition in Miami.
Chrisss: Cena still hasn't won over the marks, though. I can name some casual wrestling fans I see everyday at work who are convinced Rock's concert was better than Cena's rap. But I digress.
I wouldn't have minded at least a hint of contact on last Monday's show. Not a Rock Bottom or AA, but maybe a shove or a slap or something. I find it a bit strange they were more physical in the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania 27 than they were for this year's event.
Skitz: Touche. But it's nothing to get your feathers all ruffled, right? People need to chill the fuck out, hit a Zanax and tune in this Sunday. Problem solved. I'm anticipating this dream match as much as the next guy... as long as it proves to be 'once in a lifetime' as the hour long special on USA suggests. Please do us a favor and CEASE the 'Mania rematches. I have absolutley no desire to watch this again at WM29; the same goes for Taker/HHH IV. Leave it alone and create fresh feuds you lazy, predictable bastards.
Chrisss: I'm sure it's just dirt sheet bullshit. How dumb would WWE look if they promote Rock vs. Cena as "Once In A Lifetime" only to announce a rematch for next year's Mania less than a month later? Nah, we're going to get either Cena vs. Taker or Rock vs. Taker next year, don't get your panties all tangled up. BUT, to play it safe, Cena has to win on Sunday. Like he said himself, he has to. It the biggest match of his career. If he can't beat a part-time wrestler, then it makes him look like a joke.
Skitz: How awesome would it be if Cena pulled a Steve Austin (minus the alliance with Mr. McMahon) and turned heel en route to beating Johnson? I'd fall off the couch in disbelief but then regroup and watch history unfold. Ahhhhhh to dream of the unrealistic. The man who has his hand raised here is an afterthought. We've known who's leaving 'Mania with a W since last year's event. The Brahma Bull rock bottomed Cenation at WM27 and repeated his actions at Survivor Series last November. Hmmmmmmm....
Chrisss: Screw it, I'd mark like crazy for a Cena heel turn, even if it's for one-night only (come on Vince, it's Miami, Rock's hometown - Cena ain't getting no 50/50 reaction). I guess it's obvious Rock is jobbing to The Occasional Doctor Of Thuganomics, much to the crowd's displeasure.
Skitz: No doubt. Let Mr. Hustle, Loyalty & Respect pick up the career defining victory and continue doing what he's best at... hypnotizing small impressionable children into buying John Cena merchandise with their parents' money to increase his newt worth and stirring up crowds across the country.
Chrisss's pick: Cena wins
Skitz's pick: Cena wins
This will unfortunately be my final column before Wrestlemania goes down Sunday night. I had originally planned on doing a "What If..." Wrestlemania edition sometime this week, but time restraints shot down that idea. I'll be back on Monday with my Wrestlemania thoughts, so until then, have awesome Mania weekend. It should be a great show.
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