Wrestlemania 29 is upon us and like last year World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has proven that even “reactive” booking can produce a pretty compelling card. When you think of Wrestlemania, in the past, you would normally view it as the culmination of rivalries and overarching storylines from throughout the “WWE Year” (marked by the Post-Wrestlemania episode of Monday Night RAW to the next Wrestlemania). This year’s Wrestlemania at first glance is exactly how an ESPN correspondent described as “hasty booking”, however this year’s Wrestlemania actually delivers exactly what it’s supposed to.
The reason many probably view the event as evidence of “hasty booking”, as opposed to the regular way WWE has done things in the past in which two superstars have been set in rivalries that culminate at Wrestlemania, this year’s Wrestlemania can be seen as a culmination of each individual superstars journey. For example, the match between The Miz and Wade Barrett isn’t predicated on a rivalry between these two but rather on the idea that they are both reaching the ends of each of their struggles. Ever since Wrestlemania 27, The Miz has been trying to prove he is still a main event talent and with the help of Ric Flair he seems closer than ever to regaining his status. While on the flip side you have Wade Barrett who, since returning has been engaged on his “Barrett Barrage”. The question of this match isn’t to settle the rivalry, but rather can Wade continue his barrage, or will the Miz make Wade another stepping stone on his way to regaining his spot at the top? Everything from the WWE articles to the promos, don’t really indicate a hateful rivalry with their opponent, but rather an exposition about how their year has been and how a victory at Wrestlemania 29 will help put some sort of capstone on it.
With that in mind, here are my bold predictions about how this event will fall into place:
1.) Fandango vs Chris Jericho
The company wouldn’t invest this much time in a character’s debut only to have him lose to a returning top performer, who hasn’t really done much in terms of establishing himself in his most recent run. Chris Jericho has done a lot in the past, but in this case I believe this match will be used as a vehicle to build Fandango.
2.) Intercontinental Title: Wade Barrett vs the Miz
Prediction: The Miz
Since The Miz began being backed by Ric Flair he has been on a role, not to mention building a pretty solid following from fans. His character development shows real growth from his fall from main event status last ‘WWE’ year. Plus a Wade Barrett loss against someone like The Miz, can provide a great vehicle to renew his Barrett Barrage.
3.) Tensai, Brodus Clay and The Funkadactyls vs The Rhodes Scholars and The Bella Twins
Prediction: The Rhodes Scholars and The Bella Twins
This was a close one to predict. The obvious choice in this match would be Team Brodus Clay, however if past Wrestlemanias are to be taken into account, in recent years, anytime WWE has done a multiple person tag match at Wrestlemania, the good guy team has lost. So if the trend continues, then it should follow, that Team Rhodes Scholars should take the win.
4.) Mark Henry vs Ryback
Prediction: Mark Henry
Mark Henry is in need of a way to set himself as a top monster in the company once again, while Ryback is more embroiled in his rivalry with The Shield. I don’t think WWE would drop the momentum they have built with The Shield, in favor of Ryback building towards another world title shot. So the logical decision would be to have a match that might build Mark Henry back to where he was prior to his injury.
5.) Randy Orton, Sheamus and The Big Show vs The Shield
Prediction: The Shield
The Shield is the top faction in the WWE right now. Since debuting they haven’t lost a match and at the same time, haven’t revealed too much information as to what their purpose is in the WWE other than to bring “justice” to the product. I see them winning at Wrestlemania and also one of the members of the other trio becoming a member of The Shield, by the time the match ends.
6.) Team Hell No vs Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston
Prediction: Team Hell No
The company has a good thing going with Team Hell No. Daniel Bryan and Kane are easily two of the company’s top performers. Having them lose their titles, would essentially mean they have lost their momentum which could lead to a pretty epic continuation of their rivalry, but really I would think we would have to see more cracks in their teamwork, before that could occur. Not to mention, assuming Ziggler and Langston were to win, what logical direction would they take that storyline?
7.) Brock Lesnar vs HHH
I felt like this one was a “no brainer”. When they added the stipulation “if HHH loses, he will have to retire from WWE competition”, you could already tell HHH has a strong chance of winning. You would assume, if this were truly HHH’s swan song there would be much more fan fare. I remember when it was announced if Austin loses he must retire, if HBK loses he must retire, or even if Ric Flair loses he must retire, there would was so much more remembering (or what felt like a wrapping up) of their careers. The last few weeks don’t feel like a wrapping up of HHH’s career, but rather a build up to a longer rivalry. If this really is HHH’s last match, then WWE could have done so much more in terms of hype.
8.) CM Punk vs The Undertaker
Prediction: The Undertaker
You simply cannot beat Undertaker at Wrestlemania. The streak has gone on too long and if anything, at this point aside from being a great performer, it is a large part of the Undertaker’s legacy. I love the stuff CM Punk has been doing in order to antagonize (and build hatred for himself from the fans), but this really is one for Punk to lose.
9.) Alberto Del Rio vs Jack Swagger
Prediction: Jack Swagger
I like the social commentary they created for this match. The idea that Swagger represents the demographic of Americans against illegal immigrants and that Del Rio is the hero of immigrants was basically the perfect set up for this rivalry. It’s been fun watching these two, week in and week out build this rivalry on this premise, and with Zeb Coulter increasing the tension with his great promo work, this match is truly one not to miss. If we’re to continue with this idea of social commentary, knowing that America still hasn’t just opened it’s borders and handed out some form of universal asylum to immigrants, it could be said that Swagger could take this one (if we’re just following the idea of social commentary), but I wouldn’t be too surprised if Del Rio takes this one, just to make a statement of perseverance to those who are rallying for the rights of immigrants.
10.) The Rock vs John Cena
Prediction: John Cena
Of all the match ups I kind of felt this was both an obvious choice but also one that, if it were to go the other way, it wouldn’t be too much of a shocker. At first, I thought Cena might lose this one again, setting him up for a much-needed character change or “heel turn”, but then he did an interview where he was asked directly if he would consider a “heel turn”. He responded by explaining about all the charitable works he does and how much his good guy status allows him to be able to be such a role model to kids and allow him to actively do all his charitable works. So of course, with that in mind, a “heel turn” would be out of the question because it would in turn shut down a lot of the charitable things he has been doing. If he were to lose, it wouldn’t mean he would have to be a bad guy, but if he were to win, it would put a capstone on his losing year. Plus, The Rock doesn’t have any new movies coming up so there’s no point of him remaining with the company because he doesn’t have anything else to promote. Update: Guess I spoke too soon. The Rock’s next film “Pain & Gain” comes out April 26, so I guess we will see The Rock at the next pay per view, “Extreme Rules”.
Final Verdict: I think this year’s Wrestlemania will really capitalize on the idea of pulling one over on smart fans. When they began to recruit more and more indy talent to the company, the WWE executives had to have noticed a shift in the fan base. There have to be more internet savvy and indy based pro wrestling fans watching WWE now a days, and the WWE could totally capitalize on this by pulling more swerves and having large-scale surprises occur on the company’s biggest stage, Wrestlemania. In all, I think people will look fondly back on this show as one to remember.