WrestleMania Thoughts and Predictions

Well, ladies and gentlemen.  It’s that time of year again.  WrestleMania 26 will arrive this Sunday.  And top-to-bottom, it is one of the most stacked WrestleMania cards I’ve ever seen.  Nine matches, and I would say that five of them have the potential to be 4 star matches or higher. 

In this blog post, I’m going to guess as to the position of the match on the card (barring last minute additions, and any Divas or Womens matches), and guess who will win, and any other results. So, let’s break this one down, as best as possible:

Opening Match – Money in the Bank: Christian, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Evan Borne, Jack Swagger, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Matt Hardy, MVP, and Shelton Benjamin

Details: This is the sixth year for the “Money in the Bank” ladder match. In this contest, a ‘briefcase’ is hung over the ring.  The wrestlers can only get to the briefcase by using a ladder. The wrestler who gets the briefcase can challenge any WWE World Champion in the upcoming year.  In the previous five years, the briefcase has been used to crown a new WWE champion.  So, usually this is a game changer for the upcoming year, and usually leads to lots of spectacular stunts and damage.  This year, they have updated the number of wrestlers from 8 to 10, which means more candidates and more carnage.
Predictions: This comes down to who I think will win the ladder match, and be a challenger for the world title in the upcoming months. So let’s go through each challenger from bottom to the top:

10. Matt Hardy
Matt Hardy is a good hand, and certainly is suited for this type of match. But, Matt just isn’t really geared for being a world champion, as defined by the WWE. Additionally, you get the sense that the WWE doesn’t trust the Hardy family right now, as Jeff is in TNA. Matt and Jeff are different people, obviously. And Matt just isn’t as popular as his brother. So I would be shocked if Matt won the match. Field (30-1 odds)
9. Kane
Kane has credibility, as both a former WWF World Champion (only a single day, but still) and a former (WWE) ECW Champion. So he has the pedigree, but that’s almost against him here. If the WWE wants to push Kane as a world title contender or a world champion, they can just push him. He doesn’t need the boost and he doesn’t need the excuse. Additionally, Kane had chances in the Main Event scene 7-8 years ago, and the WWE never pulled the trigger on him as a long term champion. There’s nothing that has changed for Kane that would lead me to see him capturing the briefcase. Field (25-1 odds)
8. Evan Borne
Okay, the WWE does treat Evan Borne as an ‘attraction’ of sorts, and hype him as a very exciting high-flyer. But at the end of the day, I don’t think I have ever seen Evan Borne defeat any larger sized opponents. So for the WWE to pull the trigger on Borne as a serious threat to a WWE World Champion would be a significant surprise. Borne is here to establish some acrobatic moves in the match. Field (20-1 odds)
6. (tie) Dolph Ziggler/Drew McIntyre
I mostly watch Monday Night Raw, and little of SmackDown!, and my sense of both of these wrestlers is that they are young ‘up-and-comers’, but they just aren’t ready for a major program with a champion. Good to get their faces on a major PPV, and I would expect one or both of them to be drafted to RAW (at the draft). A nice start and stepping stone for these two, but I think the briefcase goes elsewhere. Field (15-1 odds)
5. Shelton Benjamin
I just don’t get what the WWE is trying to do with Shelton Benjamin. My only guess is that they are keeping him on the roster, because he would be too strong of an addition to TNA. But every year, the fans of this guy get a tease that maybe the WWE will pull the trigger on a upper main event run. But sadly, I think we have to look to history. Shelton has been in all six MITB matches, and hasn’t won it yet. And the WWE has given us no reason to think this will change at WM26. Chance of winning 3% (10-1 odds)
4. Jack Swagger
Swagger has a decent chance at winning this thing. The WWE is very high on him, and he has gotten a decent push this past year. He just doesn’t have any momentum at the moment taking him into the match. They could go with him, just to push someone different, but I think there’s fresh faces in this match, that are more likely. Very interesting to see how he fares. Chance of Swagger winning 5% (7-1 odds)
3. Christian
In one sense, Christian falls into the category of Matt Hardy and Shelton Benjamin, a lifelong WWE midcarder. And, deep down, I still think this is true. But there’s too much that makes sense. First off, I think that his former partner is going to walk out of WrestleMania with gold around his waist. And Christian has always had good chemistry with Jericho as well, both in the ring and verbally. And the WWE gave Christian a very nice match against Sheamus a few weeks ago on RAW, better than most midcarders get against a current champion. History says that Christian won’t win, but situationally, it might be enticing enough. Chance of Christian winning 10% (5-1 odds)
2. Montel Vontavious Porter
MVP has had a good 2009, where he started to show you signs of greatness. A nice verbal feud with The Miz in early 2010 definately had the Internet buzzing with his poise and attitude. And really, the time is now for him to go to the next level. He’s held the US title, and there really isn’t much left for him at the midcard level. The one knock against him is that I have not seem him have a strong wrestling match yet. If he wants to face the Ortons, Cenas, Jerichos, Edges, and Triple Hs, he definately needs to increase his game. And I think we’ve seen all that MVP has to offer in the ring. But I can still see them pulling the trigger on him. Chance of MVP winning 20% (3-1 odds)
1. Kofi Kingston
Post Royal Rumble, I started thinking about who would win the 2010 MITB match, and there were three candidates: Punk (going for his 3rd), Morrisson (getting push with the DVD), and Kingston. And the only one in the Money in the Bank match is Kofi. After giving him an extended feud with Randy Orton where Kofi dropped the Jamacian accent and really started to shine, Kofi showed the look and intensity of a champion. The image of Kofi standing ontop of Orton’s race car, definantly triumphant showed me that he has the look of a champion. And his in-ring work is very solid. It needs some work, but it’s definately solid. I think Kofi is most likely to win the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Chance of Kingston winning 35% (2-1 odds)

Second Match – WWE Unified Tag Team Championship Match: ShowMiz (The Big Show & The Miz) vs John Morrison & R-Truth

Details: In some ways, this match was just thrown together kindof haphazzardly.  And in other ways, this match has been brewing for about 10-11 months.  In 2008/2009, the hottest tag team was Miz and Morrison.  Even though, they were regulated to SmackDown!, the two wrestlers made a lot of buzz with The Dirt Sheet, where the pair would trash pop culture, movies, and wrestlers.  Eventually, the pair would become tag team champions.  In April of last year, The Miz was drafted to Monday Night Raw.  The Miz attacked Morrison once he was drafted, and the pair were never given a significant blow-off match.  The Miz really shined on his own on RAW, and Morrison continued his climb up the ladder.  The Big Show & The Miz won the tag team titles earlier this year, becoming ShowMiz.  Morrison & Truth won a triple-threat qualifying match to challenge ShowMiz at WrestleMania 26.

Prediction: I like Morrison, and there’s part of me that wants him and Truth to win the titles.  But, there’s little else for The Big Show to do right now, and placing him in a dominant tag team with a great talker, like The Miz, is really a good fit for him.  Additionally, I think the other two titles are changing hands at WrestleMania, so it’s always good to have a defended championship remain with the defending champions. 

BUT, I think there certainly is a chance that Daniel Bryan gets involved in this match.  And if so, that could turn the tide towards Morrison & Truth.  Tho, I’m not quite sure that Bryan is ready to play at that level.  Seems a bit of a jump to go from the WWE “Rookie” show to WrestleMania, but that might get buzz for WWE NXT.   

Chance of ShowMiz winning 55% (3-2 odds)

Third Match – CM Punk vs Rey Mysterio

Details: Rumors for this match began last fall, I think, when Punk said (in some interview) that a dream opponent of his would be Rey Mysterio.  Either this was foreshadowing or the WWE capitalized on a good idea, especially with both wrestlers not having obvious dance partners for WrestleMania.  CM Punk has been riding high with his Straight Edge Society mission, that mirrors his actualy lifestyle.  His ‘crusade’ has taken him in the path of Rey Mysterio.  Recently it has gotten personal, with Punk confronting Mysterio when celebrating with his family.  Recent stipulations state that if Mysterio loses, he must join the Straight Edge society.

Prediction: A very tough one to call.  Punk has really captured something with his Straight Edge society group, and since losing the World Title to the Undertaker, he might need a win to re-establish himself as a major player.  And Mysterio could perhaps use a character change, as he has been the same character since he arrived in the WWE, and never even has turned heel (I don’t think). However, I see this feud between Punk and Mysterio lasting a few PPVs, and to have Mysterio become straight edge, seems to defeat that purpose.  So I’m predicting a victory for Mysterio, but I can see Punk winning.

Chance of Rey Mysterio winning 60% (2-1 odds)

Fourth Match – Triple Threat Match: Randy Orton vs Ted Dibiase vs Cody Rhodes

Details: When a stable or tag team is formed in professional wrestling, one of the obvious questions is, who turns on the leader first.  The break-up of Legacy has been teased for quite some time, most recently when Randy Orton turned on Dusty Rhodes when he guest hosted Monday Night Raw.  We all predicted that it would be Dibiase who turned face against Orton, with Rhodes in the middle.  But, seemingly, it is Orton who has turned face against Rhodes and Dibiase.  This is billed as a triple threat match, and not a handicap match, even thought Rhodes and Dibiase are seemingly on the same side.  There is no way that can last in a match like this.  I think Rhodes defects early and attacks Dibiase, and then expecting a warm reception from Orton, gets taken out. 

Prediction: Very difficult, as Randy Orton is the most likely candidate. Rhodes and Dibiase are being pushed as teaming against Orton, giving Orton the momentum.  But Randy does not need the victory.  And I don’t think a victory would help Cody Rhodes enough.  After the Legacy break-up is complete, I think Cody needs a relocation to SmackDown!  But I see three scenarios:

  1. Randy Orton uses experience and dissention between Dibiase and Rhodes to win the match.
  2. Ted Dibiase is able to get a victory where all three men are exhausted, and Dibiase is able to get a war of attrition pinfall.
  3. Cody Rhodes takes advantage of the battle between Dibiase and Orton, and captures an opportunity and gets the victory.

But, I’m going with Ted Dibiase to win the triple threat match. 

Chance of Ted Dibiase winning the match 45% (3-1 odds), Chance of Randy Orton winning the match 35% (4-1 odds), Chance of Cody Rhodes winning the match 20% (6-1 odds)

Fifth Match – Sheamus vs Triple H

Details: This is an interesting match, in one specific way.  Triple H and Sheamus are training partners, and typically Triple H has good matches with his training partners: Michaels, Orton, Batista, etc. This is a throw-away match of WWE Championship contenders, who have nothing else to do at the match.  This made more sense if Sheamus had the title, but less sizzle for a Wrestlemania championship match. The question is, does the WWE booking committee want to keep Sheamus as a top contender, or are they looking for some change of pace for him in the months following WrestleMania (face turn, tag team/stable, or drafted to Smackdown!).  Could be a good power match.

Prediction: In a tough call, I’m going to go with Triple H to win the match.  I don’t see these two continuing their battle into April and May, and I don’t see Triple H losing a WrestleMania match to someone who has been in the WWE for less than a year.  Call it a consolation prize for not having the title this year. 

Chance of Triple H winning the match 65% (5-2 odds); Chance of Sheamus winning the match 35 % (5-1 odds)

Sixth Match – World Heavyweight Championship Match: Chris Jericho vs Edge

Details: Another match which has been a long time in the making.  Jericho and Edge won the Unified Tag Titles back in June of 2009, but Edge suffered an achilies-tendon injury. Immediately, Jericho started blasting Edge, setting up the beginings of the feud. When Edge returned as  a surprise entrant and won the Royal Rumble, the Rated R Superstart had a focus on winning the world title at WrestleMania, and if he could do it by defating Jericho, all the better.  Since Jericho won the title at No Way Out, Edge has stalked him, making him fear the Spear.  At WrestleMania, the ultimate opportunist, takes on Jericho.  Could potentially be a great match between two wrestlers who know each other very well.

Prediction: Not a tough call at all.  Jericho only captured the title, to give some extra sizzle to Edge vs Jericho.  Jericho is a fine champion, but there’s no way he makes it out of WrestleMania with the title.  Since 1993, when the prize for winning the Royal Rumble match has been a world title match at WrestleMania, the royal rumble winners are 11-5.  So I think Edge wins it in a good match.  I mean, they may keep it on Jericho, just to tease it out a bit more, but all signs point to a Jericho victory.

Chance of Edge winning the match 85% (1-3 odds); Chance of Jericho winning the match 10% (20-1 odds)

Some are predicting that Christian wins the Money in the Bank match, and cashes in against Edge here.  Personally, I don’t see it.  Just because you don’t do that at WrestleMania (due to casual fan interest).  But, IF Christian wins the Money in the Bank match, then I definately would keep my eyes open for it.

Seventh Match – No Holds Barred Match: Bret Hart vs Mr.McMahon

Details: Bret “The Hitman” Hart was a five-time WWF World Champion.  When Bret Hart refused to drop the title to Shawn Michaels before heading to WCW, Vince McMahon called for a false/shoot finish to the match.  The title was awarded to Shawn Michaels in the event known as the Montreal Screwjob. Since then, Bret Hart had a tumultuous time in WCW, leading to him having a stroke, ending his wrestling career. Vince McMahon became a very strong in-ring character, known as the Chairman of the WWE, Mr. McMahon.  This past year, Bret Hart and the WWE mutually agreed to come together to do business.

In the storyline, Bret came to the WWE looking to put the past behind him, when Mr. McMahon gave him a low blow and spit in his face (returning the favor to Bret Hart from the Montreal Screwjob). Bret Hart attacked Vince in later weeks to get his revenge.  Bret Hart then had an accident, breaking his leg, during Monday Night Raw.  Vince confronted Bret a fourth time, goading him into having a match with McMahon at WrestleMania.  At the contract signing, Bret asked for the match to be a No Holds Barred match, which McMahon agreed to.  After both had signed the contract, Bret revealed that his leg wasn’t broken, and that he was 100% and ready to fight McMahon at WrestleMania

Prediction: While I suppose it is possible that McMahon wins, but Hart gets full revenge.  And it’s possible, that due to interference from Cena and Batista, the match becomes a no contest, and flows into their championship match.  I just can’t imagine why Bret Hart would have agreed to come back to the WWE to lose to Vince McMahon at WrestleMania.  Doesn’t make much sense.  I see some revisiting of the Montreal Screwjob, but Bret (due to himself or other interference) getting the upper hand and winning the match, using the Sharpshooter.

Chance of Bret winning the match 80% (1-2 odds); Chance of no-contest 10% (20-1 odds); Chance of McMahon winning the match 10% (20-1 odds)

Eighth Match – Career vs The Streak: Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker

I thought that maybe this could be the main event. But you usually want the fans to go home happy.  And if Shawn is retired by this match, then there’s a definate sadness that occurs during the match.  And if The Undertaker loses, then the heel-like tactics of Michaels would end the show.  Only two WrestleManias have ended with an unhappy ending: WrestleMania 2000 and WrestleMania X-7 (and even 17 is debateable).

Details: Last year, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker put out one of the best WrestleMania matches ever.  An incredible 5-start contest, that challenged the immortal matches for Best Match Ever.  In that contest, The Undertaker won, keeping his undefeated streak alive.  Both wrestlers took time off following the match, already scheduled, and came back not mentioning the results….

Until Michaels out of nowhere challenged the Undertaker for a rematch at WrestleMania 26 at the end of 2009.  Undertaker refused, making Michaels obsessed with the match.  Eventually, Michaels cost The Undertaker the title at The Elimination Chamber match at No Way Out.  The Undertaker then granted the match with Shawn Michaels, on one condition, that Michaels put his career on the line.  Michaels agreed.  Later, the two of them agreed to a no disqualifications and no count outs match. 

Prediction: I have been thinking about this match for months.  The only thing that made sense is that Shawn Michaels wants to go out with one last great match at WrestleMania, and become a part-time superstar.  It makes no sense for The Undertaker to give the rub for ending the streak to a wrestler who is basically the same age.  At 44, Michaels doesn’t need to prove anything.  But, why would Michaels want to have a rematch, where he would lose a second time?  I understand that a wrestler rarely loses his last match, but even so.  In wrestling philosophy, it leaves open the idea that Michaels can’t beat The Undertaker. 

Only the last two weeks have there been hints that Michaels is planning on retirement.  Usually when a wrestler wants to retire, the internet is abuzz with the information.  It buzzed for Flair, Foley (the first time), Funk (yeah right), but there was no word from Michaels.  A hint from an interview that he has a plan for when he will retire, and recently bookings for post-WrestleMania that don’t include his name.

So, I’m going with the Dead Man, by a nose.  I barely believe it.  But I think that’s the way it goes, and Michaels comes back around Royal Rumble of next year, becoming the Roger Clemens of the WWE (joining a team late in the season… not the proposed steroid usage, not that he hasn’t)

Chance of Undertaker winning the match 60% (2-1 odds); Chance of Michaels winning the match 40% (4-1 odds)

Main Event – WWE Championship Match: Batista vs John Cena

A tough call, but I think this match has to go on last.  You can go with Edge winning the title as the end.  You can go with a Shawn Michaels celebration to end the show.  But I think you go with this match.

Details: John Cena and Batista both won world titles at the exact same day, WrestleMania 21, five years ago.  Since then, John Cena has gotten a decent amount of backlash as being the corporate stooge and pushed too hard.  The two of them have mostly been on different brands, Cena typically on RAW, Batista typically on SmackDown!.  They had a single match, at SummerSlam 2008, where Batista won and damaged John Cena’s back. 

Recently, John Cena took to championing the return of Bret Hart to Mr. McMahon.  During that time, Batista emerged and attacked both Bret Hart and John Cena.  Batista then attacked John Cena at the end of the Elimination Chamber match at No Way Out, sanctioned by Mr. McMahon to win the WWE Championship.  Since then, Batista has attacked John Cena’s character like no other contender ever has.  And he has attacked John Cena’s will, stating that Cena cannot defeat him.  It has built up to hyping a championship match, that is almost a dream match (I knew those bastards were ruining a future WrestleMania Main EVENT!). 

Prediction:

It’s very hard to imagine John Cena not winning the WrestleMania blow-off match.  If you wanted Batista to win, then you’d have him challenge Cena, I would think.  And the storyline is pushing that John Cena can’t beat Batista.  If Batista wins, then that statement basically becomes true.  Doesn’t make sense for the uber-popular John Cena to not be able to find a way to defeat The Animal.  I see Cena defeating Batista using some sort of ‘shortcut’ or something, enough to give Batista cause to run Cena down having used it, and set up a rematch.

Regardless, I see Cena winning the match, winning the title, and closing the show arms raised in victory.  (Tho I must admit, I don’t know how Batista leaves quietly…)

Chance of John Cena winning the match 65% (3-1 odds); Chance of Batista winning the match 35% (5-1 odds)

Overall:

Looks like a stacked show.  Best show on paper since WrestleMania 17, and if two or more matches flirt with a five start rating, then could be one of the greatest WrestleManias of all time.

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