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Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Wrestlemania 25 Preview and predictions

A quick note before you read - I've written this over about three days, so some was written before I saw Raw and before I heard about certain things, including Tazz's release. I'm just too busy/lazy to go back and edit!

Enjoy, Rob


Right, now this is me doing predictions for an event more than about five hours before the show. Don’t get used to it. I just thought that since I’m going to be in Houston (have I mentioned that? I have? Oh, ok...) for Wrestlemania and can’t do the live blog I would give you a few days heads up on my predictions. It’s the least I can do.

Let’s get straight into it.......

Intercontinental Championship – JBL (c) v Rey Mysterio
This is a late addition filler match to the show, and I’ve opened with it for that reason, and because I feel WWE may do similar and have JBL, like last year, start us off.

I can only envision a straightforward three-star type of match here. I don’t see these two clicking in a major way, and there is no storyline animosity to build to it, just JBL quickly winning the IC strap from Punk and then Rey making the challenge.

The buzz surrounding the match, if any, is the promise of something historic. Apart from what I’m going to guess at in a second, the only thing I can think of is that perhaps JBL might the only man to take part in matches for the WWE, US, Tag Team and Intercontinental titles at Mania, but I couldn’t be certain.

I think, especially if this goes on first, that it’s got a babyface win written all over it. Mysterio to walk away from Mania as the new champ makes sense, and an opening match being taken by the fan favourite sets a good tone.

So, how about the historic JBL moment? I’m saying that Rey wins, JBL throws a fit, gets angry, gets the microphone and starts to talk. He says that he promised everyone something historic, and he hoped he was going to be being the first person to defend the IC title successfully at Wrestlemania since Chris Jericho did it in Houston eight years previously.

Instead, since he lost, he will do something historic and be the first person to quit live on air at Wrestlemania. Mic down, outta here. Gone.

There have been rumours that JBL is suffering from injuries again, and of course he doesn’t need to wrestle with the money he has from outside ventures. I’m taking that to be the historic announcement.

Prediction: Rey Mysterio to win, JBL to retire post-match

25 Diva Battle Royal

I think we may see a mixture of a fun event and some horrible action combined in this one. The fact that even the least qualified divas plus some girls from the past who may well be out of ring shape are in this are in this is not conducive to exciting wrestling.

As for those that will be making a cameo appearance, Sunny is pretty much confimed, at least according to herself, but there have been many others who have turned it down, it seems. You’d think that Trish would be a likely entrant, but I’m worried that entering a 25-diva match waters down the prospect of her reappearing again in the future.

Torrie, Jackie Gayda-Haas and Victoria seem likely returnees. Obviously it would be cool to see Stacy Keibler, but I can’t see it.

As for who will be crowned Miss Wrestlemania, I’m sensing that this can be used like King of the Ring or the Slammies as a tool for hyping someone up. Because of that it ought to go to a heel diva, and having a champion win makes little sense. I can only see it being Beth, to be honest. Imagine the fun we could have with a Santino acceptance speech and ongoing bragging about how his Glamazon is Miss Wrestlemania. Plus it builds her up nicely as a challenger for a future title shot.

Prediction: Beth Phoenix to win – and Santino to milk it

Tag Team Championship Unification – Mizorrison v The Colons, Lumberjack Match.

Firstly, a sensible decision. We don’t need two sets of tag titles. (We don’t need so many titles full stop, but that’s a subject for another day. In fact, you can read about it in a future edition of Fighting Spirit Magazine. Cheap Pop.)

I’m not so crazy about the feud, as I think it ran it’s course a few weeks ago and they’ve gone a little too far with it now. However, I like the concept of this match being at Wrestlemania, as it features a set of guys who I think will be extra keen to put on a great show. This is also a contender for opening match.

I’m not sure a lumberjack match makes complete sense, but it’s probably using the theory that they try to get as many guys as possible involved in Wrestlemania, and since the girls are having a battle royal I assume that’s why they aren’t doing that in the pre-show like last year.

Until I started writing this I’d have said Mizorrison to win and cement themselves as the top duo in the company, but the more I think about it, the more I think it makes sense to draft them separately and let them try to sink or swim as singles guys. I don’t see what else they can achieve as a team.

Prediction: Primo and Carlito

Jeff Hardy v Matt Hardy (Extreme Rules)
To me the strangest thing about this contest is that it’s extreme rules. That implies that it’s a blow-off match, and while you want that kind of thing at Mania, you would also think that Jeff and Matt would be pencilled in for at least two goes on PPV.

This might still be the first match of a more-than-one series, and if it is my instinct is to pick Matt Hardy. It makes sense for the ‘evil’ heel brother to get the best of his more successful, babyface sibling, before the latter exacts revenge. Perhaps, though, one of them is due for a Raw switch in the draft and they are being separated.

This is another contest, like the last, which you can line up as a match in its own right and say that its participants will go like crazy to put on a great show. Matt and Jeff must have been dreaming of wrestling each other at Wrestlemania all their lives, and will likely be desperate to make sure they can live up the hype which may have been on TV for two months, but has probably been in their minds for 25 years.

I really hope it’s a good match. I think Matt deserves it for years of hard and sometimes unappreciated work, and Jeff needs a standout contest to get him back into the title picture where he deserves to be.

Prediction: Tentatively Matt, because I think that this may be stretched to more than just this match.

Chris Jericho v Rick Steamboat, Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka
First thing to do is to state that I am not nearly as critical about this match as many seem to be. No, I don’t think it’s the most exciting match I’ve ever seen, or that is even on this card. However, I do not put the blame at the WWE’s door as many do.

Be fair to them, they tried four other situations before they got to this one, I’m sure of it. Some of the segments on TV featuring Chris Jericho have been special. Real, high-quality TV which the men involved should be proud of, and the audience should be grateful for. I think that they wanted Chris Jericho v Mickey Rourke, and the star of The Wrestler got cold feet. They wanted Flair to step in for one night, and he (rightly) opted to keep his retired status.

The other two scenarios are more speculative, but I believe them to be true. I think that they would have asked Steve Austin, the headliner of the Hall of Fame 2009 induction group, to lace the boots one last time, in Texas, but he turned it down. They probably even had tentative talks with that Stark Raving Hulkster himself, dude, but he they couldn’t sort it out, brother.

This isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s not going to be that amazing a match because Snuka and Piper at least are long past it, and although we know less about Steamboat’s physical condition it can’t be that terrific. Look for this one to be given about 25 minutes and for there to be about 7 minutes “wrestling”. I’d expect huge deals to be made out of the entrances of Snuka, Piper and Steamboat. Oh, and Flair.

The following message goes for the whole of Wrestlemania, but especially this match. You are a wrestling fan. I know that because you are reading this text. Because you are a wrestling fan, remember that you watch WWE to be entertained. So at Wrestlemania, please try to sit back and relax, and enjoy it as a fan. Don’t worry about the booking; don’t worry about where they go from there. On the night itself, just revel in the entertainment.

I think this will be a lot of fun. Yes it’s not where it could have gone, and yes it’s a bit of a waste of Chris Jericho, one of the best wrestlers in the company. But it’s still likely to be a nice piece of nostalgia mixed with some modern-day feelgood action.

We now know that this will be a gauntlet-type match, so one would assume that Jericho would be beat Piper and Snuka, and somehow they contrive that Steamboat gets the final victory for the legends.

Prediction: I think the Legends will win, eventually, somehow, with Jericho drawing heat from nefarious tactics and then bitching about it being three-on-one (or four with Flair, or five with Rourke) to keep himself as a strong heel.

And another thing: There is a draft coming, and I’d like to point out that Chris Jericho has had very little interaction with the Undertaker over the years. That might be fun.

Money in the Bank Ladder match

Bring me the McNichol Eliminator, as seen in the film 12 Rounds. (Well it isn’t really, but no-one has seen it, have they? They’ll never know.)

Mark Henry
Surely not. A surprising entry to this match anyway, if Mark Henry claims the briefcase then this match concept will effectively be over.

A sensible addition to the match, since Finlay is an experienced and strong hand. I suspect he will assist in the organisation of the bout and will be a reliable cog in making sure it is an exciting showpiece. However, he can’t win. It may no sense to give a title shot to man in his fifties who is in his ideal spot, helping future stars. A Finlay title reign is not in the offing.

He’s been the dominant figure on TV in the run up to this match, but surely as a concession to the fact that he won’t win it. A bit similar to Finlay, it doesn’t seem appropriate to give a man (or at least a character) who has spent 12 years near the top of the card. Surely MITB is designed to give someone a leg up, and you can cite Edge, Kennedy and Punk as examples. Kane winning will be a huge error, and the McNichol Eliminator concurs.

Shelton Benjamin

Seems doomed to stay in this one spot. Has always been a standout figure in this match, but the winner of MITB has to be someone ready to step up and hit the main event. Shelton has always suffered from a lack of having the big match feel and having the necessary vocal skills. I love to watch Shelton, and I’m sure he’ll pull off some of the moves of the match – but he won’t win.

You may be surprised to see this name eliminated so early, but I really don’t think MVP wins this. I don’t see the logic of giving him the United States title before setting him as a number one contender. The second black mark against him is the fact that I don’t believe his face turn has really come off as expected. If you look at this match composition I would say that MVP is the least over babyface in it. I’ve eliminated all heels already, so I’m obviously picking a babyface, crowd-pleasing win. If this is what is intended, I don’t see MVP being the man. I believe he has what it takes, but not as a babyface.

CM Punk
He is only this low because he won last year. For quite a while I had him down as the likely winner, as it wouldn’t be too outlandish for WWE to have him win twice in a row. I’m still not ruling it out, but at this point I’m looking at likely winners, rather than dismissing people. I believe that two people hold larger claims than Punk, so he is at #3, but to me he is one of three people who can win it.

This was a real toss-up, and I’m going against my own instinct here. Christian is by far and away the contender who has the best set up of overness, character, promo ability and wrestling quality to step up to dine at the top table. I said a long while ago that I thought Christian would come back and get involved with the Matt/Jeff Hardy situation and drag Edge in, but if he didn’t, then I thought he would win Money in the Bank. This was before he re-debuted. So the fact that I am now betting against him may seem odd. I just look at his position in WWE and feel that if the rumours of Vince not being behind him are true (which I have every reason to believe they are) then I don’t see him getting the necessary push to be a World Champion in WWE, which has happened for all who have cashed in the briefcase thus far.

Kofi Kingston
Weren’t expecting this one, were you? In fact, I wasn’t completely expecting it myself. It’s based on three things. One is that he is WWE made. WWE will love the fact that they have discovered and produced this guy and built him up. The second reason, following on from a point I made about MVP, is that with the possible exception of Punk, Kofi may be the most over babyface in this match. And finally, Kofi was put over Kane to get into the Elimination Chamber, a sign of intent, and had a superb pair of matches with Chris Jericho and Edge in one week of TV. I believe that was a trial to see how he would get on with the big boys, and he came through.

Admittedly, Kofi does not have the promo ability, one of the reasons I dismissed Shelton Benjamin. However, the marks against Punk and Christian to me are bigger than this knock on Kofi.

Prediction: Kofi Kingston – because the Eliminator said so.

Shawn Michaels v Undertaker

So who really is Mr Wrestlemania? Well, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the build-up to this match has been spine-tingling at times, and I cannot wait to be sat inside Reliant Stadium and hear the BONG signalling Undertaker’s entrance. Perhaps it is raising expectations too highly, but I anticipate a classic here. Michaels never disappoints in this kind of contest, and I expect him to play heel to some extent here. Undertaker matches are not at faultless as HBK’s but when he has a smaller, able opponent (think Edge) it’s normally the signal for one hell of a match.

Taker will win, but that, for once, is not the important thing. It’s going to be about soaking up the atmosphere, celebrating these two modern day wrestling icons who may well be the best in the world at what they do.

As for putting this on last, I don’t think they will, and I don’t think they should. Not only has Undertaker closed the show with a victory for the last two years, but it would effectively be tantamount to admitting that their builds to the title matches have been less than perfect.

Prediction – Undertaker, of course, because HBK does not need to end to the streak, and the streak needs to be kept as a hook for future Wrestlemanias. The overriding prediction is for a spectacle to blow your mind.

World Title Match – Edge v Big Show v John Cena

And apparently, Vickie Guerrero is (kayfabe) pregnant. Oh my. Didn’t she get speared a week or two ago? That’s a tough baby.

I’m not crazy about this feud or match, but the big hook for me is that I don’t know where it is going. All competitors have legitimate claims to win, really.

Cena winning is another one of his overcoming the odds stories, and there is a possibility that Orton will win, so they may want to have one babyface title win.

Big Show winning would mean a ‘Vickie turns on Edge’ story, which makes more sense than her staying with Edge, really. For her to stay with her husband they can only really go with the explanation that she changed her mind about Big Show, because if they say it was a plan all along, then why would she introduce Show to the equation?

Edge is a strong champion, and I’d be more than happy if he prevails. Maybe a better storyline would be Edge somehow winning out and actually turning Vickie down, sending her packing. The problem with that is that Edge would then end up being babyface, and I don’t see that working, really.

I’m going to have to take Cena to win, since it’s the percentage bet and it covers me just in case Orton wins.

Prediction – John Cena, because if you predict him all the time, more often than not you get it right.

And another thing......As a saver bet, what about Edge winning the match after copious Vickie interference, ref bumps etc., in the last match of the night. Then, down to the ring runs Christian, having won Money in the Bank, and pins Edge to win the World Title. We go off air with a major celebration, a babyface win and a shock ending. Then, back on regular TV, you can have either Edge chasing his ‘brother’ for the belt, or Vickie siding with Edge and maybe even Christian being her baby’s father. Reveal could be that Vickie didn’t care who won the title match, but built it up so that whoever won would be exhausted, leaving the door open for Christian.

It’ll probably never happen, but it’s a fun concept isn’t it?

WWE Title – Triple H v Randy Orton

To me this is the main event, and should be on last. Yes they have wrestled lots of times, and yes the build up at times has been less than stellar. However, let’s look at the positives, of which there are two major ones.

The first is that although yes these two have wrestled loads of times, their matches are normally very exciting. The prospect of the main event title match being a really solid wrestling match is very appealing. Secondly, the last two weeks of TV involving these two, and those peripherally involved, has been tremendous in my opinion. I thought that Orton’s destruction of Triple H and attack on Stephanie was chilling, and the Triple H revenge mission alongside his brother-in-law and father-in-law worked perfectly. The response it got from the live crowd was huge.

This really could go either way, and logic would probably dictate that Triple H would go over. He hasn’t won many matches at Wrestlemania over the years, and none at all as a babyface. Maybe he is due this one. It certain would be the fitting payoff after the treatment he has received.

I would love Orton to win. I think his egotistic, arrogant heel is a tremendous portrayal, and a win over Triple H would simply increase this position. I’m not feeling it, though. Some have suggested that one of the McMahon’s will defect and help out the Legacy group. Makes no sense to me. I could see it if they hadn’t all been physically attacked, but they have all been given some rough treatment by Orton, and this simply doesn’t make sense. I know WWE often do stuff that makes no sense, but I can’t see them going that far.

Here’s how I see things panning out over a couple of months. Triple H wins and retains. However, he may well get a certain amount of assistance at some point, however small, which will make Orton demand a rematch. He’ll wreak some sort of havoc to get it, and the booking will be thus. Vince, Shane and Trips v Randy, Cody and Ted. If Triple H’s team wins, he retains. If Orton’s team wins, Randy is World Champion.

Orton’s team win this, with Randy pinning Vince. Triple H will then blame Vince, who booked the match and lost the fall, and we spark an “I never liked you anyway, you’re not good enough for my daughter” row between Triple H and Vince, and all focus is back on the McMahons.

Prediction – Triple H at Wrestlemania, and then McMahonomania will run wild once more.

There you have it. I hope you enjoy Wrestlemania. Once again, I urge you to just sit back and enjoy. It’s what I intend to do, although I reserve the right to start questioning stuff when I return to England!

Ok, I have to go and pack. I can’t guarantee any correspondence from Houston, but enjoy the show, I know I will.

Take care,

1 comment:

coffee break said...

it looks like Mickey Rourke is keeping his career options open...