Wrestlemania, the WWE's spring spectacular, lands at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday. The 26th annual edition may in fact be the best pay-per-view WWE will offer in 2010, who knows? Let's take a look at the card.
Monday Night Raw matches:
WWE title: David Batista (champion) vs. John Cena. This actually ties into another match on the card. You see, at last month's Elimination Chamber show, Cena won the WWE title, but didn't get the chance to savor the moment. WWE Chairman-CEO Vince McMahon decided right then and there to have Batista challenge Cena for the title. This was a bizarre redux of the 2006 New Year's Revolution card in which Edge cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase after Cena scored his only other victory in the Elimination Chamber. Sure enough, Cena was easy pickings for Batista, and this was done solely because Cena had cast his lot with Bret "Hitman" Hart. We know McMahon is certifiably insane, but apparently he either doesn't realize it or doesn't care. His loss. McMahon won't or shouldn't be a factor here, assuming his match goes on before this one. The pick----Cena.
Vince McMahon vs. Bret Hart. Even though Slim Jim is the sponsor for the entire show, I'm shocked McMahon didn't arrange for Dannon yogurt or Geritol to sponsor his match. This is a no-holds-barred brawl that figures to include Cena & Batista, to set up their match later in the show. One truism that will hold for sure is that McMahon NEVER wins at Wrestlemania (0-3 as a wrestler), and this won't be an exception. I see Cena putting McMahon through a table to set up Hart applying the Sharpshooter to make the insane executive tap out. The pick----Hart.
Triple H vs. Sheamus. Last month, Sheamus lost the WWE title in the Elimination Chamber, which was a typical McMahon curveball to fool the internet fans who thought they had it all figured. It was Triple H who eliminated Sheamus, ending his 2 month run, so the Irishman is looking for revenge. Here, relative youth (Sheamus is in his early 30's) will be served. The pick----Sheamus.
Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Ted DiBiase, Jr.. Legacy, once a trio, is now down to the former 2-time tag team champs, Rhodes & DiBiase. For some strange reason, the creative team would like you to forget about those tag title runs, or so it would seem. Based on the comments Rhodes & DiBiase made on Monday, this will be the final break of the faction, as these two may turn on each other in the heat of battle. Since Ted's father, Ted, Sr. (the Million Dollar Man) is going into the Hall of Fame, I'd say he'd have to be considered a favorite to win this one. Most pundits, however, favor Orton, feeling he can't lose two years in a row. The pick---DiBiase.
Friday Night Smackdown matches:
WWE World title: Chris Jericho (champion) vs. Edge. One tends to forget that these two were tag team partners last summer, before Edge was sidelined with a torn Achilles' tendon. Edge returned at the Royal Rumble in January, and made no secret of who was his target once he won the Rumble. Jericho won the World title at Elimination Chamber thanks to an assist from an unlikely source---Shawn Michaels. Since then, Edge has gotten the better of Jericho at almost every turn. Jericho's first reign as (undisputed) champion came to a crashing end 8 years ago in Toronto at Wrestlemania 18, and some think he may lose again. I'm not one of those people. I'm expecting some sort of screwy finish here, to set up a rematch at Extreme Rules on April 25. The pick---Jericho.
Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk. It's amazing how Punk has gone from beloved hero to despised arch-villain in the last year. Transformed into a Charles Manson like cult leader as the head of the Straight Edge Society, Punk has become a polarizing figure on Smackdown over the last 9 months. If he wins, he adds Mysterio to his little group, but I think Rey's been through that before (The Latino World Order in WCW comes to mind rather quickly), and I don't think it's going to end up that way, not with Rey needing time off for knee surgery yet again. The repackaging of Punk, in this writer's opinion, judging from his current look, is just another example of McMahon's twisted sense of humor in the face of religion. Punk, you see, is supposedly meant to resemble Jesus. We've got enough lunatics in the real world that adopt that kind of look, and if that's what McMahon was after with Punk, well, it does prove he's nuts, doesn't it? The pick---Mysterio.
Money in the Bank: This year, they're doing a pay per view built around this ladder match, so this may be the last MITB at Wrestlemania after 6 years. The field:
From Raw: Christian, Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, Montel Vontavious Porter.
From Smackdown: Matt Hardy, Kane, Shelton Benjamin, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre.
McIntyre, McMahon's newest "golden child", needed three opportunities to qualify, which speaks more to McMahon's overall insanity than the devaluation of the current Intercontinental champion (McIntyre). They neglect to tell you that this is really the Scotsman's 2nd go-round with the big club (he was up for a few months in 2007), but the time spent in developmental has helped McIntyre greatly. They'll still need to call air traffic control, with MITB vets Kane, Hardy, Christian, & Benjamin, plus Bourne, Kingston, & Ziggler, flying all over the joint. At least they don't have to worry about concrete this time. With rumors that the briefcase could be cashed in at the end of the night, which would help set up the MITB PPV in July, we have to go with the presumptive favorite here. The pick---McIntyre.
WWE Unified tag titles: Big Show & Mike "The Miz" Mizanin (champions) vs. John Morrison & R-Truth.
A year ago, Morrison & Mizanin were the tag champs going into a unification match with the Colons (Primo & Carlito), but the bout was moved to the pre-show, and the Colons became the champs. "ShoMiz" won the titles from D-Generation X on Raw last month, so it's too soon for a title change. The pick---"ShoMiz".
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker. As noted earlier, Michaels cost Undertaker the World title at Elimination Chamber last month, bent on getting his rematch with the "Dead Man". However, the "HeartBreak Kid" is putting his career on the line. Last year's bout was voted the match of the year on the Slammy Award edition of Raw back in December, so these two are being asked to top it. Tough chore, but if any two people could, it's these two vested veterans. As William Shakespeare wrote, many years ago, all good things must come to an end, so.......The pick----Michaels.
Women's tag match: Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Mickie James, & Beth Phoenix vs. Simply Flawless (Michelle McCool, Layla El, & Vickie Guerrero), Alicia Fox, & Maryse Ouellette. Instead of making this an interbrand match, Raw vs. Smackdown, for the sake of brand supremacy, McMahon and his creative staff decided that the "official consultant" to Smackdown, Vickie Guerrero, would be in this match instead of either Serena, Natalya, or Tiffany. However, if Mickie James, recovering from a staph infection, has to be scratched at the last minute, that would allow Tiffany or Natalya to step in. Smackdown's diva pool has gotten so unbalanced of late, it isn't funny, and they're pushing Guerrero, widow of the late Eddie Guerrero, even harder than ever. She's a heat leech, which makes her inclusion in Simply Flawless even more puzzling. Vickie has no skills as a wrestler, not learning thing one from Eddie, it would seem. In other words, Vince is treating this match like last year's Miss Wrestlemania battle royal, as a joke, an insult to every woman who's ever competed in the WWE or elsewhere. They really need to get a room ready for the old man at Bellevue, and he can take Guerrero with him. With the Women's champ (McCool) and the Divas champ (Maryse) on the same team, their respective challengers need to win this to gain some momentum for future title matches. The pick---Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Mickie James, & Beth Phoenix.
The next challenge, of course, would be to build on the momentum from the big dance with television programming for the next month. An even bigger one, though, is getting rid of McMahon, but as I've noted before, he won't allow himself to be exposed as weak to the point of being forced out. That's where his gigantic ego gets in the way. For the sake of the company's future, McMahon must do the right thing and step away, once and for all.