WWE management has long been worried that this year's WrestleMania will not be able to deliver in buy rates and when you look at the card lined up, yes, there are noticeable gaps. The youth movement has moved from infancy to toddlerhood, as evidenced by the Miz and Del Rio (though he's not exactly in his early 20s) but is still not in full swing. The old guard is changing and we already are missing the one guaranteed classic match that we get every year: "the HBK match". With the Money in the Bank being gone as well, this is definitely a trying year, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was written off in the history books as something in comparison to WrestleMania 11, but that's not to say that it doesn't still have the potential to deliver as well. Good ideas can turn out bad, bad ideas can turn out good. Look at Bret Hart vs Vince McMahon from last year. That was horrendous. So what's in store for this year?
In the years past, they adopted some themes. For instance, WrestleMania 23 had the theme of "All Grown Up". This year it seems like the focus is all on escorts. Seriously, count how many extraneous non-wrestling entities are popping up. The primary focus is on the Rock who is supposed to be nothing but a host. The feud also involves Alex Riley (though not to a big extent). The world title match includes both Brodus Clay and Christian. The Corre's angle is built entirely on people that aren't the legal man helping out in a match. The Cody/Rey match threw Dusty in there. Lawler and Cole aren't roster members and they've added Austin (and for one show, JBL and Brian Christopher) into that feud, alongside Jack Swagger. The Nexus angle was predominantly focused on "which guys that aren't in the match can stand beside Punk" and it now included Orton's wife. Then we've got Vickie and Trish and Snooki all involved in that mess of a match. Also, HBK involved in the HHH/Taker match. The whole build this year has revolved around people that aren't in the match itself doing most (or all) of the leg work.
WWE Championship: The Miz (c) vs. John Cena
It's a shame that this feud has become John Cena vs the Rock guest starring the Miz, instead of the Rock being on the sideline. Obviously, if they were able to do an actual match between Rock/Cena, then naturally that would raise more dough than Miz/Cena, but they're setting themselves up for a huge drop. People are going to be expecting something big with the Rock and I don't think you'll see it. At the most, the Rock will hit a Rock Bottom and People's Elbow on the Miz, I'm guessing, and are you really going to be satisfied with that? WWE should be careful. Building something up and getting ppv buyrates is one thing, but if you're setting yourself up for an even bigger fall, then the fallout is going to be huge as well - especially if in the process, you give the title to the guy who is coming out of this looking like a tweener (and not in the cool way), John Cena. The babyface here is the Rock. The Miz should be the heel, facing the babyface Cena, but he's being overshadowed, and instead, looking like the incompetent bit-player that shouldn't be in the same league as those two (which is a shame considering how great the Miz has been doing). Winning the tag titles did nothing for the feud and people won't even remember that by the time the match comes around. All I'm saying is if you go into this expecting a classic, you're going to be disappointed.
PREDICTION: John Cena wins the title.
World Heavyweight Championship: Edge (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio
We've known about this match for some time now. The only real question now is whether or not Del Rio will win the title. At the moment, I'm leaning more towards no, he won't. The poll on the side of Smark Out Moment at the moment goes back and forth all the time. It's not out of the realm of possibility, though, especially if they book it pretty much in the midcard of the ppv like they've done in the past. It definitely won't be the main event of the night as that will go to either Cena/Miz or Taker/HHH. Now that they're having Brodus Clay and Christian take part in this feud (which is a good idea in my opinion) I expect both of them to get involved somehow in this match. I would not be surprised in the slightest to see Brodus interfere, Christian stop him, and then Rodriguez cause a distraction that costs Edge the title. Either Edge drops it here or he drops it at Extreme Rules, but Del Rio is going to be the champ soon enough, and it all depends on whether or not they want him to win it at the big event. I have a feeling whatever I say, they're going to do the opposite (not conditionally but just out of pure dumb luck escaping me).
PREDICTION: Edge retains, then potentially drops it at Extreme Rules, but it's a crap shoot.
Undertaker vs. Triple H
If you look at my post on what I would have booked for WrestleMania, you'll see that this match is on it, despite how I don't particularly want to actually see it. I don't think either of these guys are healthy enough to put on a fantastic match, nor do I think HHH would be able to do that anyway since his in-ring ability has slowed down considerably over the years and he was never HBK to begin with. It isn't all HHH's fault in my predetermination, as I think Taker won't have it in him physically to carry the match. I love the guy but you can see that his body can't handle a whole lot more. Hell, you can tell they've kept the two of them off wrestling other people just to make sure nothing goes awry. This feud got stale for me very soon, considering how it was nothing but the same exact promo being repeated between the two for weeks. As always, they can prove me wrong, but I don't see it happening - even if I can completely foresee people bitching on my comments that they loved it and that I'm wrong. I hope to hell they have a good/great match, but there's no way it'll top HBK vs Taker from WM 25. Absolutely no way.
PREDICTION: Obviously, Undertaker wins...or I stop watching WWE.
Randy Orton vs. CM Punk
What a shame. This could have been the top feud of the card for a WrestleMania main event and they squandered the fuck out of it to a ridiculous point. This has become an afterthought feud when it really could have been a headliner. Orton punting Nexus members and that's it. Ugh. What a fucking shame. The match should be good if they give the guys a decent amount of time, but I can't help but feel like they'll screw them over and use some of that time to blast us with another Chaperone trailer.
PREDICTION: CM Punk squeaks out a victory, which will be handed back to him at Extreme Rules.
Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole
Poor Jack Swagger, relegated to being in the corner of a commentator instead of having a match for himself. At least it gets him on the card and he's doing something more than just being yelled at backstage by the Rock or something. He'll definitely try to interfere and end up getting a stunner as a result of it. I like the angle between Cole and Lawler, but I'm hoping the match lasts no longer than 5 minutes. They don't need any longer than that to give you everything you want. Any longer and you run the risk of exposing all of the flaws. Cole is not a trained wrestler. We don't need another fiasco like Hart/McMahon from last year. Austin is now the special guest ref. I don't know why. I doubt his involvement is going to make thousands of people buy the ppv. Plus, you know the most he'll contribute to the match is what he's been doing for years: stun someone, drink beer, waste a ton of time circling the ring, and leave. Honestly, I'd trade 100 Austin appearances for just one of them where he does something other than that. It's gotten more than repetitive and I actually was disappointed that JBL wasn't the ref instead. I fast-forwarded through Austin's nonsense. They've done some good things in this feud to give it more heat than what it would normally have, like bringing Brian Christopher out for a segment. I'm curious where they'll go after this feud is over with, but I like it.
PREDICTION: Lawler of course comes out on top after Austin stuns Swagger.
Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio
I'm all for Rey working with Cody. I don't even think the concept behind the feud is that bad. But what I'm not a fan of is how this WrestleMania is filled with matches that will not be given enough time (like last year) and won't mean anything in the long run. This falls into that category. This will be around 6 minutes long, very rushed, and nobody will remember it by the end of the night.
PREDICTION: Rey Mysterio SHOULD lose...but he probably won't.
John Morrison, Trish Stratus, & Snooki vs. Dolph Ziggler and LayCool
I didn't like the idea of this match when it had Kelly in it...I'm sure as hell not going to like it when it has Snooki instead. The whole concept behind the match just doesn't do it for me, and you know that the in-ring performance will be terrible (outside of John and Dolph). It's really a shame that Morrison and Ziggler, who have just been so awesome as of late, are being thrown into a match like this. I hope WWE rewards them after Mania with world title reigns.
PREDICTION: There's no way they'll have Trish and Snooki in a match and not have them come out on top. I just hope that the entire match is Ziggler/Morrison until the finish lol.
United States Championship: Sheamus (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
I still think a much better match would be Bryan against Swagger, and I don't really have a lot of faith that this will be particularly good. The feud itself is rushed and lackluster and I can't see anything good spawning out of this, as more than likely, it will just end with Sheamus retaining and then being lost in the shuffle, though not as lost as Daniel Bryan.
PREDICTION: Sheamus retains and the match isn't given a lot of time to develop into anything good, but everyone will forget about it.
WWE methodology: take the biggest angle in the company and when it comes to WrestleMania season, split the group up into two factions that then both get shoved into the midcard. Then, eliminate one of them completely off the card by having them all get punted in the head. Throw the others into a random half-assed tag match with Santino and Kozlov. But oh shit, we have to do something here to make it seem worthwhile. Uh...let's give Barrett the IC strap and let's put the tag titles on them! Phew, now we don't have to worry about them defending those titles. Oh, you mean to tell me the IC champ isn't looking for revenge in this match and has nothing going for him for WrestleMania? Meh, Kofi Kingston is only one of the guys we'll depend on for the future, along with Drew McIntyre...they can sit out this one. Snooki's more important.
PREDICTION: The Corre wins. Guess who they pin.
We may be in for a bumpy ride...but I hope they pull off a miracle and don't leave us in the dust.