The Fifth Annual WrestleMania Preview (WrestleMania XXVIII)

Finally, the “Road to WrestleMania” will grind to a halt and end a year of hype, missed opportunity, and some bad booking decisions. Finally, all the talk, talk, talk, talk, talking will be over and the gladiators will step into the ring and settle their grudges. Finally, WrestleMania is nearly here.

As you can tell, I haven’t been the fan of the buildup in most of the matches. But, let me say that I really do believe that from the opening bell to the final three count will be some hot action. Four of the eight matches all have the potential to be Match of the Year contenders. For now, let’s go through the card.

Divas Tag Match: Eve & Divas Champion Beth Phoenix vs. Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos

I don’t care about this match. You don’t care about this match. Let’s just move on.

Winners: Kelly Kelly & Menounos

Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny

It’s another filler match with the entire lower and mid-card players in one match. Miz is 0-15 in TV and PPV matches in 2012. Drew McIntyre hasn’t won a match in about a year. The Great Khali looks like a stiff wind might blow him over. The poor guy looks like walking is a struggle. Zack Ryder is one of the most overrated and annoying wrestlers in history. David Otunga is one of the worst workers I have ever seen. Swagger has jobbed out most of the past year and a half.

Santino is a great worker stuck in a comedic role. Ziggler hasn’t been taken a serious threat since the Royal Rumble burial. Mark Henry was a monster that became a lamb over the course of a month (though he seems to be picking up some steam). R-Truth is another great worker that found his niche in a comedy role, but that doesn’t translate into a substantial push. Finally, Booker T isn’t even a full-time wrestler.

On top of all this, no one particularly cares who is “running” the show. It’s been played out with McMahon, Bischoff, an anonymous computer, and now Johnny Ace. Half the time, the figure head GM doesn’t even “book” the matches. Two guys talk crap to each other and a match is agreed upon. Did anyone book Rock/Cena on air? No. The entire idea of a GM is so played out that it doesn’t even matter. Kayfabe died a long, long time ago.

I don’t expect great things from this. Multi-tag matches (those greater than 2 on 2) don’t have the best results in Mania. Last year’s 4 on 4 was a 1:30 waste of time if that’s possible. The only exception to the rule was Evolution vs. The Rock N Sock Connection at WM XX. Otherwise, these huge tag matches result in less than memorable moments.

I fully expect Team Johnny to win with some type of underhandedness afoot.

Winners: Team Johnny

Randy Orton vs. Kane

No one quite understands how this match came to be. I certainly don’t get why Orton is wrestling Kane at WrestleMania. Orton is far too talented to be in a match like this. It’s a waste of his talent. Don’t misconstrue that statement that I think Kane is unworthy of being in the ring with Orton. It’s just at this stage of Orton’s career, he deserves better. I would guess he’s a bit bitter that Cena is getting all the press and he’s in a likely third or fourth match.

The buildup has been horrendous. Kane suddenly went from trying to have John Cena “embrace the hate” to being neutered by Cena at Elimination Chamber to attacking Orton unprovoked. It was as if creative suddenly looked at the roster and remembered Orton was on it. So, book a meaningless match with Kane.

Orton wins. Kane will attack someone else soon after.

Winner: Randy Orton

Intercontinental Title Match: Cody Rhodes (C) vs. Big Show

Much has been made about Big Show’s unfortunate history at WrestleMania. He’s 3-8 and has been the victim to some really bad matches. Cody Rhodes is probably the mid carder that WWE has the best laid plans with at this point. He’s had a long IC title reign that usually (sorry Shelton) leads to bigger things.

Rhodes has done so well with whatever WWE has thrown at him. From the disciple of Hardcore Holly to a disfigured heel, it hasn’t mattered one bit to Rhodes as he’s has excelled in each role.

Big Show is closing in to the end of his career. He is honestly one of the best big guys in the ring once he was motivated. He has never won the Intercontinental title. Could he make history at Mania?

I was pretty certain that Rhodes would continue his impressive run with a win. However, they are booking it for Show to get his moment. WWE has booked this pretty well because you just aren’t sure. I’m still calling for a Rhodes win, but a Show win would not surprise me in the least.

Winner: Cody Rhodes

World Championship Match: Daniel Bryan (C) vs. Sheamus

I was excited for this match…last year. But, WWE left the match off the card. This year it’s going to be on the card, and it should be a good one. It will not be one of those Mania moments matches. Sheamus and Bryan do have good chemistry together, so the match should flow well.

I foresee AJ getting involved somehow and costing Bryan the match. Sadly, it would appear that Bryan’s run will be over. I hope WWE gives him another chance.

Winner: Sheamus to win the World Championship

WWE Title Match: CM Punk (C) vs. Chris Jericho

All the fluff was not needed. Tales of alcoholic fathers, drug addicted sisters, bastard childhoods have only clouded the fact that this is the most pure wrestling match on the card. Punk is a great wrestler and so is Jericho. They should mesh well in a big match like this. Honestly, this match has the potential to be one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history.

It’s been widely reported that Jericho has resigned through the summer. So, there’s a possibility he could win the match here, and then give it right back at Extreme Rules or whatever the next PPV is. Or, WWE could do the right thing and keep the strap on Punk and allow him to have a dominant reign.

Winner: Punk by submission

Hell in a Cell Match: Triple H vs. The Undertaker with Shawn Michaels as special referee.

I am going to keep this brief. Undertaker wins to go 20-0 after a great, well-told story from two masters.

Winner: Undertaker

Main Event: The Rock vs. John Cena

After a year of lukewarm buildup, the match is less than a week away. It is beyond a shadow of doubt that WWE watered down the Rock in an effort to make Cena look stronger. Cena just isn’t in the same league as Rock, and despite the near certainty that Cena will go over, he never will be in the same league as the Rock.

The Rock is a one of a kind that can connect with the fans and make it look easy. Cena connects with children and wanna-bes that buy into his psuedo-feel good message. Cena just has rested on what little skills he’s had and has never pushed himself to become a better in ring performer. If you saw a Cena match in 2006, not much has changed in 2012. He has resisted evolving. As such, I can never get behind him.

Cena will win. Rock may get his win back at Summerslam when less people are watching. But, WrestleMania will be Cena’s moment…even though half the crowd (or more) won’t give a damn.

Winner: Cena

As I’ve said since the beginning, this card has the potential to be a really good one. There are causes for concern (Team Teddy/Team Johnny, The Divas Tag). Yet, there’s enough matches that could be excellent if given the time. I do believe the Top Four matches that WWE has concentrated on will deliver. And, Rhodes vs. Show could be a sleeper. Possibly, Orton will be motivated to have a good match with Kane…but, it seems unlikely.

Overall, it should be a great night of action. It is WrestleMania after all is said and done.

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