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Wrestlemania XXVIII: The Expectations And The Reality

02/04/2012

By: Josh Bennett

As of this writing, I am watching Smackdown on my TV, watching the replay of the final face-to-face confrontation of The Rock and John Cena, listening to them tear each other to shreds one last time before the year-long culmination finally comes afoot on Sunday. With this experiment of a year-long build to this feud created a mostly viral build for the most part, with Cena being put against a number of opponents on screen, in his current occupation of being a WWE Superstar, and winning a couple more WWE Championships in the process, while The Rock was busy filming more movies, in his current occupation of being a Hollywood Superstar, whether we like it or not.

After the conclusion of Elimination Chamber, we get five real shows to fully build up Rock vs. Cena on screen, as opposed to trying to build it 160 characters at a time on Twitter. Sure a lot of it has been cheesy, but then again both characters are cheesy in their own ways, so it should have been expected in hindsight. However with both men delivering on a very serious and very powerful back and forth promo, with each stating their case on how they both “need” to win this match, it left that seed back into the fans that was first planted one year ago when the match was first made, and it should fully bloom on Sunday.

The main idea of this article is to write my expectations on each of the eight announced Wrestlemania matches, and then once the show takes place and it is in the history books, talk about how each match may, or may not, lived up to them. Sure I am only one man, with one opinion, but as a lifelong wrestling fan, I hope to have some sort of unique views on the biggest wrestling show that is put on in North America, Wrestlemania. The listing of the matches is in order of my expected card lineup.

Expected Card Lineup: (© denotes Championship Holder)
1. Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan© World Heavyweight Championship
2. Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes© WWE Intercontinental Championship
3. Kane vs. Randy Orton
4. Triple H vs. The Undertaker Hell In A Cell w/ Special Referee Shawn Michaels
5. Team Teddy (Santino Marella©, Zack Ryder, Booker T, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, The Great Khali) vs. Team Johnny (David Otunga, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, The Miz, Mark Henry, Drew McIntyre)
6. Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk© WWE Championship
7. Eve Torres and Beth Phoenix© vs. Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos
8. The Rock vs. John Cena

Actual Card Lineup:
1. Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan© World Heavyweight Championship
2. Kane vs. Randy Orton
3. Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes © WWE Intercontinental Championship
4. Eve Torres and Beth Phoenix vs. Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos
5.Triple H vs. The Undertaker Hell In A Cell w/ Special Referee Shawn Michaels
6. Team Teddy (Santino Marella©, Zack Ryder, Booker T, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, The Great Khali) vs. Team Johnny (David Otunga, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, The Miz, Mark Henry, Drew McIntyre)
7. Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk© WWE Championship
8. The Rock vs. John Cena

Before I begin, my quick prediction of the dark match for this event, which is a 3 team match for the WWE Tag Team Championships between The Usos, the makeshift team of Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd, and the champions Epico and Primo©. Although this is a dark match, and will only be seen online, I would like to congratulate these 6 men for finding a spot on the card to try to impress a large amount of people in a short amount of time. All six men are more than capable in the ring, and it should provide its fair share of high spots and moments. Epico and Primo have not been the strongest Tag Team Champions in recent memory, but that is not their fault, as it is the fault of those who have no expectations for a tag team division in the WWE at this time. In what should be an entertaining 7-8 minutes to warm up the crowd, I expect, in lieu, of the late, great Yokozuna entering the Hall of Fame the night before, I see The Usos finally gaining the giant pennies at Wrestlemania 28.

Prediction: The Usos win the WWE Tag Team Championships

Reality: Starts out with a great flow from Jey Uso, Kidd and Primo, with an amazing double superplex. Parts of the match were choppy on my end thanks to the stream from WWE.com, so I can’t fully comment on the match. However, all 6 men had a very nice chemistry with each other and they are leaving everything out there trying to make an impression. Very nice high spots from Gabriel and The Usos in the match. Very impressive ending as Gabriel misses a springboard 450 splash and one of the Uso brothers hit’s a great Superfly splash, only to eat a backstabber from Primo to pick up the win for the Colons.

Winners: Epico and Primo retain the WWE Tag Team Championships

Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan© World Heavyweight Championship

Expectations: The match that was bumped at last year’s Wrestlemania, is now one of the Main Events of this year’s Wrestlemania, although it is the lowest of the four main event matches. With a richer prize on the line this time around, the obvious storyline for this match is that Sheamus wants to do what he couldn’t do last year and beat Daniel Bryan on The Grandest Stage Of Them All. Except that is not the main storyline. If my memory serves me correctly, that has not been mentioned even once during the buildup, or lack thereof. For being a World Championship match, and the biggest match the Smackdown brand has to offer, I haven’t seen very much buildup for this match, outside of Sheamus attacking Daniel Bryan at Elimination Chamber and selecting his title to cash in his Royal Rumble victory on, only because he had yet to win the World Heavyweight Championship.

However, Daniel Bryan is the most entertaining heel character the WWE has right now, with him soaking in and stroking his ego over AJ’s love and affection to him, as well as his over the top celebrations for even the most pedestrian of accomplishments in the ring, like winning the majority of his matches via DQ. Sheamus, on the other hand, has turned a new leaf in his character, evolving from the angry Irish man into an angry, yet loveable Irish man who fights for the fans. I have been clamoring for Sheamus to turn face for a while, and outside of his near immortality in his matches, he is getting the job done, and is the #2 face on Smackdown at the moment.

I expect this championship match to, regrettably, open the Wrestlemania card for the second year in a row, and these two will put on a very solid and entertaining 12-14 minute match, which could have the possibility to steal the show if it was given more time. My challenge to Sheamus is to break out all the stops, and show us a few new moves that he doesn’t perform on TV, in what would be his biggest match of his WWE career to date. I fully expect Daniel Bryan to go all out in what is also his biggest match of his WWE career to date, and show off a sample of his moveset that we don’t see every week, and I also expect him to, at least, try to slap on Cattle Mutilation on Sheamus at least once in the match.

If Daniel Bryan were to win this match, I couldn’t even fathom how insane and ridiculous his celebration would be, considering winning by DQ is like winning the Super Bowl in his book. As entertaining as the current heel Daniel Bryan gimmick is, Sheamus has been built as a super face since around Summerslam, and I think creative will think that it is time to hand him the belt. I want to see how Daniel Bryan reacts to losing, and how he would chase the championship with his heel character, coupled with his on-screen relationship with AJ. As much as it pains me to see one of my favorite wrestlers and favorite characters lose his championship, and lose at Wrestlemania, Sheamus has been built up way too much to lose this match. Also with last year’s outing for the Royal Rumble winner, Alberto Del Rio, being less than stellar, this year’s winner will look a lot better in his match.

Prediction: Sheamus defeats Daniel Bryan to win the World Heavyweight Championship.

Reality: We got a nice, but typical promo from Daniel Bryan during the preshow claiming that he would retain his Championship. Pretty funny spot at the end as Bryan instructs AJ to lift his belt up and celebrate like him. Despite the fact that she could barely lift up the belt, it was a humorous spot, and I’m sure her screaming out “Yes! Yes! Yes!” over and over left a nice image in the heads of all her fans.

Typical fantastic opening package for the ppv to open it out, followed by no pyro show. Out first is Sheamus to a huge pop in his usual red/black gear. Next out is the champion Daniel Bryan wearing white trunks and a nice robe, with the fans chanting “Yes! Yes! Yes! Along with him. Fantastic. There are Yes! Signs everywhere and this crowd is amazing so far. Bryan kisses AJ for good luck, gets Brogue kicked and that’s the match. Seriously. Guess they need all the time in the world for Rock vs. Cena and HHH vs. Taker. Wish this would have went on a little longer, but I expect a rematch at Extreme Rules, and/or a dissention from Bryan and AJ in the coming weeks.

Winner: Sheamus wins the World Heavyweight Championship

Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes© WWE Intercontinental Championship

Expectations: As refreshing it is to see the Intercontinental Championship actually defended in an honest to God match at Wrestlemania, it’s first official match since Wrestlemania 25, where Rey Mysterio squashed JBL, and it’s first, expected, actual match since Wrestlemania X8, ten years ago, where RVD defeated William Regal for the gold. The buildup for this match is using an obvious angle and finally bring it to light. To further boost himself as the asshole, cocky champion, Cody Rhodes spent weeks showing lowlights of a selection of Big Show’s Wrestlemania “moments”, ranging from getting knocked the fuck out by Floyd Mayweather, to losing a sumo match to Akebono, all the way to not even being booked for the previously mentioned Wrestlemania X8. However the only thing that did not make any sense was that this seemingly came out of nowhere, although some may argue that it started when Rhodes pinned Big Show inside of the Elimination Chamber in February. While the twitter campaign from big brother Goldust for a match with Cody Rhodes failed, I feel that this match has enough build behind it to seem important enough to belong on the card, with the classic moment of Big Show finally getting his hands on Rhodes waiting in the wings on Sunday, after enduring Rhodes’ verbal and physical abuse leading into the show.

My only gripe with this match is that Big Show went from multi-month World Championship contender, down to Intercontinental Championship contender overnight, and the sole reason for Big Show to even win the IC Title at this stage in his career, completing the Grand Slam and being in an elite class of holding all of the active WWE Championships at one point in his career, and it was not even mentioned once by Big Show in the buildup. Sure the focal point is for him to finally shut up the destroy Rhodes, but it would have been a nice little wrinkle to add in the match, to give Big Show some extra added initiative heading into the match.

Rhodes has held the belt since the Smackdown before Summerslam and is the longest reigning champion currently in the federation among current champions. He has brought back some of the prestige the belt once had, bringing back the uber-popular white leather, old school design, coupled with his long reign, despite not many title defenses in that time period. Big Show has no business to hold this belt, outside of completing the Grand Slam, and since that has yet to be mentioned, he shouldn’t hold this belt in my opinion. Big Show will get his hands on Rhodes and will punish him for a few minutes, however I see Rhodes finding some way to escape Miami with the championship still around his waist, hopefully in some sort of a clean fashion, as Big Show puts another young talent over.

Prediction: Cody Rhodes defeats Big Show to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship

Reality: Here we are with the third match of the night, apparently getting all the Smackdown matches out of the way early. Rhodes comes out in red attire, and Show comes out in his usual attire and pyro. Show takes early control on Rhodes, as expected, as he begins to take out his frustration on Rhodes. Show does his usual, painful, chops on Rhodes’ chest in the corner. Show misses a corner splash and Rhodes finally gets some offense in. Rhodes begins to work on Show’s knee, trying to ground the big man. Rhodes continues to work on Show’s left knee and ankle, but Show recovers and attacks Rhodes again. Rhodes reverses a avalanche choke slam and hit’s the Beautiful Disaster kick twice on Show, hitting the first and getting choke slammed on the second. Show hit’s the WMD and wins. Wanted Rhodes’ reign to continue, but congrats to Big Show on becoming a Grand Slam Champion in the WWE.

Winner: Big Show wins the WWE Intercontinental Championship

Kane vs. Randy Orton

Expectations: Out of all the matches on the Wrestlemania card this year, I remembered every single match, with the exception of this match. The yearly “throwaway” match for main event wrestlers without a program is this match right here. After losing his feud to John Cena, Kane randomly attacks Randy Orton on Smackdown, who was coming off yet another injury, as well as winning his feud with Wade Barrett. Trading shots back and forth over the weeks and we get this match, with minimal build to it, and is just a match to get two very capable wrestlers on the card.

I expect this match to be a good match, although it won’t be anything special. It still baffles me how over Randy Orton is with the crowd with, arguably, one of the most boring and dull characters in the history of the WWE. The silver lining of this match is that this leaves Orton out of the title picture for a little while longer, and let Sheamus and Daniel Bryan run with the ball for a while, as it should be. Either way, the match should hold its own and with Kane’s reputation, he will most likely have no problem having Orton go over on him, and that it what will most likely happen here, unfortunately.

Prediction: Randy Orton defeats Kane

Reality: Usual entrances and attires from both Kane and Orton, although Orton has black and blue trunks this time around. I expect this match to go a tad bit longer than the previous match. Starts out with Kane laying into Orton. Kane is fully in the offensive here, with Orton getting nothing so far. Ironically, Kane locks in a resthold on the king of restholds in Orton. Orton finally gets in some offense, hitting a swinging neck breaker for a two count. Orton goes for the usual comeback, but his weak clotheslines don’t drop Kane, but a power slam does. Kane goes into the ropes and Orton hit’s a spike DDT. The crowd erupts for Orton pounding his fists for an RKO. Nice back and forth from the wrestlers. Kane hit’s a choke slam on Orton but only for a two count. Kane pounds Orton in the corner. Kane is teetering from the middle rope while Orton beats him down, but eats a super choke slam for the pinfall victory. Pretty decent match from the two to get the crowd going. Didn’t expect to see Kane go over here, but I am glad he did.

Winner: Kane

Triple H vs. The Undertaker Hell in a Cell w/ Special Referee Shawn Michaels

Expectations: I put this match in the middle of the card for two reasons. One, due to the long setup that will be required, some sort of segment will be needed beforehand, and the Hall of Fame recap is usually shown at the halfway point of the show. (Congratulations go out to Edge, Ron Simmons, Mil Mascaras, Yokozuna, Mike Tyson, and the Four Horsemen group consisting of Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham, and JJ Dillon). Secondly, I see this as number 3 on the list of 4 main events on this year’s card. While it is a much bigger match than either championship match, the WWE Championship should always find its way to the top of the card, regardless of who is in it, as proven last year where The Miz main evented a Wrestlemania card solely on the fact that he was the champion, as well as facing off with John Cena. This match will be a very long match, and it should have a good location in the middle of the card, taking up roughly 45 minutes of time, including entrances and post-match theatrics.

This match easily has the best buildup of any of the matches on the card. For four weeks, creative let Triple H, Undertaker, and Shawn Michaels say whatever they want and build up their own match, and it has worked perfectly. The idea of Undertaker nearly begging Triple H for the rematch is a surprising twist as the challengers have been usually going to Undertaker. Also using Shawn Michaels as the key for Triple H to finally accept the match is another interesting aspect in the match as it reveals that although Triple H and Michaels are considered best friends in and out of the ring, Triple H still has that ego attached to him that he must be the best, and must be better than Shawn Michaels. The added wrinkle of using Michaels as the referee in the match, was at first an unwelcome addition in my eyes, changed into a very welcome addition, through Michaels’ promos. While many think that Michaels will help out Triple H in any way possible, he showed that he has his own ego still attached to him with that little smirk he revealed when Undertaker said he was better than Triple H.

This match should be one hellacious battle inside Hell in a Cell. While the gimmicked PPV has deteriorated the lore of the match in recent memory, it still gives it that one special feel that this match needed, as Triple H is much more of a brawler than a technician that Michaels is, hence why the HHH/Undertaker match last year was No Holds Barred. While Michaels may help Triple H in some ways during the match, I expect his ego to take over as he claims that “HHH is not better than I am, and he will not do what I couldn’t do”, most likely screwing over HHH during a possible deciding moment in the match, by possibly refusing to count or something like that. As great as the match will be, I see no way Undertaker loses this match, or even loses any match this deep into his streak, and I expect 20-0 to shine across the gigantic stage, as Undertaker rides into the sunset for another year-long hiatus, while we get the possible buildup for Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels for Wrestlemania 29 that has been widely speculated over the past few weeks.

Prediction: The Undertaker defeats Triple H

Reality: Coming up fifth is one of the biggest matches on the card, and I think this one will be difficult to follow. HBK comes out in his referee shirt, and unfortunately no short shorts. HHH comes out next with his normal music and King of Kings setup on the stage. Very cool looking. Next comes Undertaker, with his normal music, wearing a special getup with spikes on his arms and stuff and his usual hood. Very cool attire for Taker. No druids, however. Taker takes his time to the ring as usual then enters the ring. As he lets the lights up, pyro sets off around the stadium in a very cool effect. Undertaker takes off his hood to reveal a pseudo-Mohawk hairdo. The wind is blowing the fog around the stadium. Metallica plays as the cell is lowered onto the ring. This one should be good.

The cell is pre-locked as it is lowered. Not sure if that means no one will leave, or that will be a focal point for them to leave the cell. The two men begin to battle. Quickly outside the ring as Taker throws HHH into the cell and beats him down on the outside. Taker continues to beat down HHH over and over, into the pole, into the steps. Back in the ring, HHH finally gets on the offensive and hits his trademark face buster. Undertaker is already bleeding from the face buster. Both battle in the ring some more as the steps enter the ring. HHH looks for the pedigree on the steps, but Taker flips him over. Taker beats down HHH some more, but Taker eats a spine buster right on top of the stairs. Ouch! Taker locks in Hell’s Gate on HHH out of nowhere, while laying on the steps, but HHH picks him up and slams him down for a two count. HHH rolls out of the ring and throws in two steel chairs. He takes one chair and smacks Taker over his weakened spine. HHH sets up the stairs in the corner and whips Taker into them, and beats down Taker’s spine with the chair over and over. HHH shoves HBK out of the way to punish Taker even more with the chair. This is kind of brutal to watch, as HBK throws the chair out. HHH yells at HBK to “end it” but HBK says “you know he won’t quit”. HHH shoves HBK out of the way again and beats down Taker some more with the chair. HHH tells HBK to “end it or I will”. Crazy stuff right here. Taker rises to his feet and eats a chair to the gut and spine again for a two count. HBK pushes HHH out of the way this time and tried to get him to stop with the chair. HBK checks on Taker. HHH continues to punish Taker as he kicks out at two again. Taker eats a sledgehammer shot for another two count. Brutal match so far as HBK tries to restrain HHH yet again. HBK tries to call the match, but Taker got up and locked Hells Gate on HBK! Hells Gate on HHH now but can’t get out. He tries to pick up the sledgehammer, but he passes out, but HBK is still down! Lil’ Naitch runs down to the ring and unlocks the door to get inside but there’s only a two count. Wow! Taker looked for a tombstone, but got out as HBK super kicked him and HHH hit a pedigree for only a two count! HHH gets his sledgehammer once again, as Charles Robinson is knocked out, and HHH throws HBK out of the ring. Taker sits up and scares HHH! Taker takes it to HHH and finishes it up with a big boot. Both men trade shots on their knees, booing HHH and cheering Undertaker. This is insane! HHH walks into a tombstone, but reverses it into a pedigree, but Taker kicks out yet again, much to the delight of the crowd! The crowd is going apes hit right now, all behind Undertaker! Shawn has a somber look in the corner, as Taker sits up yet again. HHH goes for the sledgehammer and Undertaker goes for a chair. Taker steps on the hammer and beats down HHH with the chair, some revenge from earlier. HBK doesn’t make a good effort to stop Taker as he just stands there and let’s Taker beat down HHH more. HBK finally tells Taker to drop the chair as HHH kicks out at two. HBK yells at HHH for kicking out. HHH gets the hammer again as he grimaces in pain. Taker lets him stand and blocks the sledgehammer shot. HHH looks beat. HHH pushes Taker as he takes his hammer away. HHH crotch chops Taker and eats a vicious Sledgehammer shot to the head, while HBK looks away. HHH crawls up on Taker, like Shawn did at WM 26, picks up HHH for a tombstone as HBK counts for the three count!

Amazing match from these two, and great job by Shawn in the match. Both men are passed out as Shawn looks over both men as the cell raises. Definitely better than last year’s match. I wonder if this is the final match for either of these men, as they both left it all in the ring. JR says that “The era has ended and we will never see it again.” Whatever that means, I’m not sure, but Jim Ross questions seeing Taker and HHH in the ring ever again. Taker gets up and hugs HBK in the middle of the ring, while HHH is still passed out. HBK raises Taker’s hand up in victory, to the delight of the crowd, then goes to check on HHH. Taker kneels as the stage turned purple and pyro shoots up everywhere, with a 20-0 emblazoned on the tron on the stage. The music stops as HBK and Taker look down at HHH, who hasn’t moved yet. Both men help him up to his feet and begin to carry him outside the ring and up the stage, in a very cool moment. All three share a hug at the top of the stage, as the crowd gives all three men a standing ovation, which was well deserved. Great sign of respect from all three men. My guess is that this is it from HHH, as Taker and Shawn helped him out the ring and to the back, and JR kept emphasizing the end of an era tagline.

Winner: The Undertaker

Team Teddy (Santino Marella©, Zack Ryder, Booker T, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, The Great Khali) vs. Team Johnny (David Otunga, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, The Miz, Mark Henry, Drew McIntyre)

Expectations: Thanks to Wade Barrett’s elbow exploding, this is our replacement match for the rumored Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Over the past few weeks, we have gotten wrestlers who have been lost in the shuffle for Mania, pick sides over who should lead both shows into the future, to bring up a classic cliché “this town ain’t big enough for the two of us”. Naturally the faces side with Teddy Long, while the heels side with Johnny Ace. However, the lineups of these teams have been somewhat lackluster in my eyes. At Elimination Chamber, the segment with Christian, Mark Henry, Alberto Del Rio, and Big Johnny, as well as David Otunga, was supposed to plant the seeds for this match. And with those four men on the side of Mr. Excitement, it would be a great match! However, Del Rio had yet to be cleared, so he misses the match, and last Monday, Christian, inexplicitly gets beat down by CM Punk and gets replaced by a man who is currently a jobber on Smackdown in Drew McIntyre, even though he is a talented wrestler. With only one half of the “Ace Team” now in competition, as well as Vickie Guerrero clients Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler, and The Miz finally finding a place for Wrestlemania, they are opposed against a relatively weak Team Teddy. Led by the increasing popularity of the United States Champion Santino Marella is the most over midcarder in the federation, as well as one of my favorites, in Zack Ryder, insane commentator Booker T, a waste of a spot in The Great Khali, and the makeshift tag team of Kofi Kingston and a man who should still be a heel in R-Truth.

An idea I had for this match was for The Miz to take over the final spot on Team Teddy, with Del Rio and Christian on Team Excitement, and pretend to start to turn face, only to completely screw Teddy and take a fall to allow Team Johnny to win. While that won’t happen, Team Johnny should slaughter Team Teddy, on paper anyways. The only complaint I have for this match is that this has not been announced as an elimination tag match, and is currently scheduled for one fall. Teddy Long is still, somehow, over with the crowd, despite his very stale character. While some may see Johnny Ace as boring, he is unintentionally hilarious and is great for the role he has, and it would be a damn shame to see him off TV in favor of the dull Teddy Long. While many gripe over having yet another heel GM, Johnny Ace is very different from those other heel positions of power. However, I see Team Johnny coming out on top here, keeping Johnny Ace and David Otunga’s travel mug on TV for a few more months. Also, WWE, please make those Team Johnny, as well as, the Team Teddy shirts available for purchase!

Prediction: Team Johnny defeats Team Teddy (Dolph Ziggler pins Santino Marella if it is a one fall match)

Reality: Well that sucks that all the participants came out to the Raw and Teddy Long theme songs, rather than their own themes. Anyways, Brie Bella announces Team Johnny and Nikki Bella announces Team Teddy to the ring. This match is like Bragging Rights as it will only be one fall. Yikes! There’s a ton of action in this match, and there’s way too many people to keep a count of, so I apologize for that. The crowd seems out of it from that epic Undertaker vs. HHH match, as expected, but there was some great action from the great wrestlers in this match. Luckily Khali only had 30 seconds of ring time. McIntyre is taking abuse from about half of Teddy’s team right now, but Booker knocks out every member of Team Johnny. Side note, Swagger’s haircut makes him look like a fruit loop. The match slows down some as Swagger battles Booker in the ring, then tags in Henry. Booker works with Ziggler now. Everyone comes in to hit their finishers on each other, and go for the spotfest. More chaos ensures as Hornswoggle runs into the ring and splashes the crowd outside of the ring. The women now catfight outside of the ring. Booker tags the only man left in Santino, who fights Miz. Santino hit’s the diving head butt, and looks for the Cobra. Johnny gets on the ropes and Santino hit’s the cobra on Miz, but Ziggler saves at the very last second. Ryder gets in and attacks Miz and Swagger. Miz elevates Ryder as he Rough Ryder’s Ziggler, then looks for the Broski boot on Miz, but Eve ran in, and distracted the ref long enough for Miz to hit the Skull Crushing Finale on Ryder for the pinfall. Big Johnny over celebrates with Miz in the ring, as the rest of Team Johnny celebrate up the ramp.

Damn shame it ended with Eve costing Ryder, and with Ryder taking the fall, but I guess that storyline continues. At least Team Johnny won the match, taking the very stale Teddy Long off TV for a while. Eve picks Ryder up, while Team Teddy licks their wounds then low blows him! She smiles as she walks up the ramp with a “Hoeski” chant.

Winners: Team Johnny (The Miz pins Zack Ryder)

Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk© WWE Championship

Expectations: This one should be an instant classic. “The Best In The World At What He Does” against “The Best In The World”. Both men are fully capable of performing in ring classics, and I expect nothing less from these two future Hall of Famers. Are my expectations for this match set too high? It’s possible, considering they would be lucky to get 20 minutes for this match. However, both men are also experts at taking whatever time is given to them and making the most of it. The buildup for this match wasn’t as good as it could have been, although it has picked up in recent weeks. Creative completely dropped the ball by not having Jericho win the Rumble this year, while completely killed his momentum he received from his return vignettes, sparkly light up jacket, and subsequent trolling of the audience. After the loss, and getting knocked out at Elimination Chamber, and winning the number one contendership on Raw, he turned back into SRS Jericho, even with the same trunks and everything. However, as much as he tries, at least half of the fans refuse to turn on Jericho and still cheer him, even though he has tried hard in recent weeks to draw some cheap heel heat to himself, by picking on Punk’s alcoholic father, drug addicted sister, and pre-marital birth of a young Phil Brooks from his mother.

In what could have been a great program from these two, especially if they were allowed the free range that the Triple H/Undertaker/Michaels match was allowed, it would have come across a lot better, along with Jericho winning the Rumble as he should have. However, many fans have been clamoring for this match to happen for years and years, and with the jabs these two took at each other over twitter months before Jericho returned to the WWE, everyone knew it was inevitable. Punk’s near nine month hot streak continues as he faces the man who first coined the “Best In The World” moniker, which was an obvious, yet great, addition to the feud. I am a huge fan of both of these wrestlers, but I am a bigger Jericho fan, despite him no longer being his goofy, outgoing former self. This match could go either way, as I don’t expect to see this being a blow-off match for this feud, as I expect a submission match between these two to take place sometime in the future. Both men deserve to walk out of Wrestlemania with the outdated WWE Championship in their hands, and while I would like to see Jericho win, Punk has worked his ass off these past months to prove his main event status to management, and has taken the ball and sprinted with it. I think that Punk gets rewarded for all his efforts and retains the title, but the feud will continue on.

Prediction: CM Punk defeats Chris Jericho to retain the WWE Championship

Reality: Big Johnny runs into Punk and tells him that if Punk gets Dqed, he will also lose the title. Jericho comes out to a huge pop with an amazing light up jacket with red and blue lights all over the place. Very impressive! Jericho also has new tights, finally. Looks like one half of Jericho’s jacket is not lighting up, however. Very cool video package follows with the beginnings of Punk in WWE to now, and Jericho’s return. Great video package like always. Jericho poses in the ring as pyro shoots off around the top of the stadium. Punk then comes out to a massive pop as well, and insane fireworks behind the stadium in the parking lot! Punk comes out and does his usual “Clobbering Time” deal as he goes to the ring. Very cool of the WWE to give this match a big deal feel, despite the Rock/Cena match. Punk in black and green trunks tonight.

Both men start out with some chain wrestling, and reversals of waistlocks. A lot of back and forth between the two Jericho begins to slap Punk over and over. Jericho asks Punk “How’s your father”, as he slaps Punk some more. Jericho is taking early control on Punk in the matchup. Both men battle on the apron. Punk picks up Jericho for a GTS, but Jericho clotheslines him back into the ring. Jericho then suplexes him outside the ring in a painful spot. Jericho then kicks Punk while the referee counts. Jericho gets a two count. Jericho continues the assault on Punk’s lower back and locks in a resthold for our first “ASK HIM!” of the evening from Jericho. Jericho then gets a spinning backbreaker for two count again. Punk gets ripped off the top rope by Jericho, focusing on that lower back some more, but only gets two again. Jericho looks for a bulldog, but goes nuts first into the turnbuckle. Punk then gets some offense, chopping Jericho, then getting a swinging neck breaker for a two count. Punk hits his vintage Knee and bulldog, but Jericho counters and Jericho goes for a Lionsault, but Punk got his knees up, which Jericho turned into the Boston Crab version of the Walls of Jericho, which Punk spun out of into a kick to the head for a two count. After a body slam, Punk goes up for a Macho Man elbow drop and got punched in the side as Jericho hit a Codebreaker. Punk rolls outside of the ring as Jericho follows him out to roll him back in. Punk then gets a quick GTS on Jericho. Punk slowly crawls to Jericho but only gets two as Jericho gets his foot on the rope. Punk begins to give Jericho some stiff kicks and gets a power slam for a two count. Very action packed, fast pased match from these two thus far. Numerous reverses later, Jericho hit’s a Lionsault for a two count. Punk looked for a Frankensteiner but Jericho reversed it into a Walls of Jericho, as Jericho has it locked in. Punk somehow crawls to the ropes for the break. Very cool spot. Punk then launches Jericho high and out of the ring, then goes for a suicide dive on him. Punk’s face seemed to slam on the barrier though. Jericho then hit’s a very impressive flying code breaker on Punk for a two count. I lost a small portion of the matchup, but it resumed with Jericho trying to get the Walls on Punk, but he countered into a Anaconda Vise, which Jericho countered into another Walls, after knees to the head, but Punk rolled over into another Vise, while blocking the knee. Jericho tries to fight out of it, but Jericho has no choice but to tap out in a fantastic wrestling match. Punk celebrates after the victory.

Winner: CM Punk retains the WWE Championship

Eve Torres and Beth Phoenix© vs. Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos

Expectations: Well we all wanted Beth Phoenix to defend her Divas Championship against Kharma, but due to the tragedy in her family of losing her newborn child, we get your obligatory celebrity match, as well as the obligatory settle down match before the main event of the evening. In what was built up on an episode of Extra, rather than Raw, this is the outcome of that confrontation that was most likely seen by a small fraction of its normal viewing audience. Eve is really coming into her own as a “hoeski” heel character, and teams up with the champ, who is also a heel, which automatically makes them friends. They face off against the “celebrity” and the top female face in the company in Kelly Kelly.

We all know how this goes, the celebrity does little to score the pinfall victory. As much as it would suck to see the champion take the pinfall, I don’t see Eve taking it, as her momentum would slightly be halted by it. Although I wouldn’t leave out a Zack Ryder run-in costing Eve the match, and putting an end to that storyline.

Prediction: Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos defeat Eve Torres and Beth Phoenix ©

Reality: This match happened fourth, unexpectantly to me. Eve and Beth come out, and no idea what Beth has on her head, followed by Kelly and Maria. Maria barely looks dressed to wrestle as Kelly and Eve start out. Glad to see Black Ref Justin King make it to Wrestlemania! Typical in-ring work from these two as the crowd chants “Hoeski” to Eve. Maria gets tagged in and Eve takes full control. Beth Phoenix gets tagged and beats down Maria some more as the crowd chants “Yes!”, obviously very much into this match. Beth locks in a submission move on Maria, yelling out “ASK HER!” fully revealing herself as another Jericho wannabe. All joking aside, Eve gets knocked to the outside again as Maria makes the hot tag to Kelly. Kelly hits an awful head scissors followed by a better neck breaker. Kelly reversed a Glam Slam into a bulldog, as Kelly gets the hot tag. Maria, who can barely stand, enters and hit’s the rollup of doom on Beth Phoenix for the victory.

Winners: Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos

John Cena vs. The Rock

Expectations: Being one year in the making, which I feel wasn’t really the best idea for this match, although it had to be done due to Rocky’s lengthy absences. I already stated some of my opinion of this match in the first couple of paragraphs, but here is a little more. This match is a near carbon copy of the last “Once In A Lifetime” match, which happened ten years ago at Wrestlemania X8 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In that match, Hollywood Hulk Hogan squared off against The Rock in what should have been the main event of the night. The match, while not the best in ring, was truly electric, no pun intended, thanks to the fans, who ended up turning on Rocky mid match and was fully behind Hogan. Rocky picks up the victory and a “passing of the torch” moment is seen as Hogan and Rock shake hands, much to the disappointment of New World Order members Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, who lost earlier to Hogan’s original opponent Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Fast forward ten years to Wrestlemania 28, in The Rock’s hometown of Miami, Florida, and I expect the same to happen. While the crowd won’t turn on Cena mid-match, as they have already done so in recent weeks, he will be wrestling in a “road game”. The crowd will solely be behind The Rock, as were the fans for Hogan ten years earlier, the match won’t be a five star classic, but it will get the job done and will be remembered for years to come, just like the match ten years earlier, and the younger guy in Cena will defeat the older guy in The Rock in the match, just like ten years earlier. I also think there may be signs of respect between the two after the match, as they both went through a nearly 30-minute extravaganza. As the passing of the torch will most likely happen between the two, just like ten years ago, with rumors swirling of a possible rematch between the two at Summerslam, don’t be surprised if The Rock delivers one last Rock Bottom to Cena to close out Wrestlemania for the second straight year, to send the hometown fans happy, and build up to a rematch at a later date. With all the hype and expectations this match carries with it, it should be a very good match. Both men can put on great matches when asked and Cena tends to step up his game at Wrestlemania, especially if he is going over, unlike Wrestlemania 27. Cena should be going over here, whether there is a planned trilogy for this feud or not. Although it is the 2nd non-title match to main event Wrestlemania in the past 3 years, and 3rd overall, both men will want to, and will, leave it all in the ring for the WWE Universe, and will leave a lasting Wrestlemania moment that will be remembered for as long as the WWE is in business.

Prediction: John Cena defeats The Rock

Reality: Here we go. Main event time as one whole year of buildup culminates right now. MGK comes on stage to perform “Invincible”, wearing a Cleveland shirt, in Miami no less. MGK does a speech about “one of the biggest egos losing to one of the biggest underdogs”. Right. Cena debuts a green shirt as the entire stadium is booing the crap out of him. There’s a few women and children screeching for him, but this is a pro-Rock crowd as expected. Cena panders to the crowd some more, while the anticipation builds for The Rock’s entrance. Surprised Cena didn’t have a special entrance like he usually does for Wrestlemania. Flo-Rida then comes out to perform his song “Good Feeling”. No one seems to care, and want The Rock to come out. The crowd explodes as The Rock finally makes his way out to the stage. Rocky takes a moment to soak it all in as he walks the stage back and forth. Rocky takes his sweet dear time to get to the ring, so this match probably won’t go as long as expected. Justin Roberts does the main event introductions for each man. Cena gets booed like crazy and Rocky gets cheered like crazy. The bell finally rings and here we go!

The two stare each other down one last time, replicating that same moment from ten years ago with Rock and Hogan, soaking in the fan reaction. The two locks horns as Cena overpowers him and knocks him down. Surprising amount of deep, male voices chanting “Let’s Go Cena” during the chants. Rocky then overpowers Cena in a lockup. Rocky gets Cena in a headlock. Rocky gets a couple of shots in on Cena as he lets Cena up to his feet. Cena then gets Rocky in a side headlock and applies a resthold of his own Rocky gets Cena out of the ring, then more stalling as Cena climbs back in. Rocky gets some shots in on Cena and Cena throws Rocky outside the ring. Cena then drops Rock on the barricade, then on top of the English announce table. Cena gets a two count. Very slow build to the match so far. More “Lets Go Cena, Cena Sucks” chants fill the arena. Cena locks in a bear hug on Rocky as he struggles. Cena is definitely playing the heel in this one. Randy Orton would be proud of all these restholds going on right now. Rocky breaks out of it and punches Cena then nails a DDT on him for a 2 count. The pase finally quickens as Rocky punches Cena when clotheslines him over and over, but Cena trips up Rocky and almost gets an STF, then starts his 5 moves of Doom. Cena hit’s the shoulder blocks then the five knuckle shuffle. Cena went for the AA, but Rocky reversed and both got hit with a double clothesline. They trade punches, Rocky getting the cheers and Cena getting the boos. Cena then hit an Attitude Adjustment, but Rocky kicked out at 2! Cena picked Rocky up, but got a weak rock bottom for his troubles for a 2 count. Looks like Cena forgot to, or didn’t jump for the move, which made it look pretty bad. Rocky gets Cena in one of the corners, but Cena gets a sidewalk slam for a 2 count. Cena goes to the top rope and stalls waiting for Rocky to get up, and got a leg drop over Rocky’s neck for a 2 count. Rock’s head drove straight into the match, which looked pretty painful. Cena looks for an AA, but Rocky spears him and locks in a pretty bad sharpshooter, which Cena gets to the ropes. Rocky pounds away on Cena and locks in another weak sharpshooter, which Cena gets back to the ropes. On the outside, Rocky whips Cena into the stairs as Rocky breaks up the countout. Cena gets a sunset flip on Rocky and turns it into an STF. Rocky looks like a goofball as he begins to pass out to the STF. One arm down, two arm down, and at three Rocky finds the strength to reach the ropes and break the hold. Rocky gets a Samoan Drop on Cena. Both men struggle to their feet as Rocky and Cena trade blows. Cena breaks out of the Rock Bottom, Rocky breaks out of the AA and Rocky hit’s the spine buster to a massive pop! Rocky then hit’s the Most Electrifying Move in Sports and Entertainment, The People’s Elbow, but only gets two. Cena gets a rollup for a two count. The crowd chants “Rocky! Rocky!” but Cena springboards Rocky into the corner and gets a rollup at two. Cena props Rocky onto the top rope and looks for a superplex, but Rocky fights out and pushes him off. Rocky stands up and kind of caught the cross body and hit’s the Attitude Adjustment for a two count! Cena looks at his fist, and begins to do a People’s elbow to the Rock, throwing his wristband into the crowd, but walks into a Rock Bottom for the three count! The Rock has defeated John Cena as the crowd massively erupts!

Rocky hugs referee Mike Chioda and regains his composure and does his typical turnbuckle celebration as Cena sits on the ramp, surprised that he got caught by The Rock. Pyro goes off with Rocky on the turnbuckle as Wrestlemania 28 comes to a close.

Well I didn’t expect Rocky to go over on Cena, but he damn well did! I expected a rehash of Wrestlemania X8, which we originally got, but with Cena playing the heel, he tried to mock The Rock and paid for it dearly. While some people may bitch and moan, I’m glad Rocky won, so it builds up to a rematch at Summerslam, and that ending was very well done.

Wrestlemania 28 Overall

Expectations: With all the hype surrounding it, and entering with four main event caliber matches, this should turn out to be the best Wrestlemania of the new decade thus far. With the disappointment surrounding last year’s event, the pressure is on the wrestlers, the road agents, creative, and Vince McMahon himself to step up and make this event feel like Wrestlemania again, unlike last year, and I think that will happen. With four very talented performers wrestling for the two World Championships the company has to offer, a possibly hellacious, and possibly career ending match in the Hell in a Cell match, a very capable list of undercard matches that should all do their jobs, and the most hyped match in recent memory, this Wrestlemania would have to try harder to fail than to succeed. As long as there is enough time to spread to all the matches of the card, as well as none of them finishing with dusty finishes or horrible endings, this Wrestlemania is a top-10 show on paper, and with a couple of show stealers and lasting Wrestlemania Moments, this could easily enter top-5 territory. I will hopefully enjoy this four-hour event on Sunday, and I hope I am not proven wrong.

Prediction: Will finish as one of the Top-10 Wrestlemanias in history

Reality: With a very quick start, a good promo from Team Johnny, a decent match with two ring veterans, an unnecessary plug for The Deadliest Catch, but funny nonetheless with Santino and Foley and a Ron Simmons “Damn!”, Big Show becoming a WWE Grand Slam Champion, Divas’ video package, average divas match, great HBK promo, obvious attendance record announcement, Jim Ross coming out with his awful goatee to announce the Hell In A Cell match, the 5 star Hell in a Cell match, the recap of the Hall of Fame, which was a very touching and great moment, funny segment from Heath Slater and Flo-Rida, surprisingly entertaining 12-man Tag match, Wrestlemania media run recap, one final confrontation with Big Johnny and CM Punk, which was entertaining as usual, great WWE Championship match between two ring generals, an unexpected Brodus Clay sighting and promo where he calls his momma and “Momma Clay” makes an appearance and dances her huge ass off. More mommas came out and danced it up with Naomi, Cameron, and Brodus Clay. I cannot unsee this, folks. Still a very great filler segment for the Main Event. Finally we end with the match we’ve all been waiting for, with The Rock defeated John Cena.

While some of my friends who watched this match, didn’t like it, rating it a 3, 5, and 6 out of 10 respectively, I actually enjoyed this PPV. It was much better than last year’s Mania, as HHH/Taker 3 was the best of the trilogy, and Punk vs. Jericho was a barnburner in itself, with terrific chain and mat wrestling techniques. Also Kane and Orton was good for what it was as well. The only cons I saw was the quick finish in the WHC match, and the long musical performances between entrances, and that the women’s match was as long as it was, even though Maria Menounos was hurt and inexperienced.

For what I expected, Rock vs. Cena delivered and delivered well. I didn’t expect it to be a 5 star classic, but a brawl, with some high spots at the end. Sure it was slow and drawn out to start out, but it ended very well, and the main thing is that all matches ended with a clean finish this year. No DQ, or dusty finishes, as it should be! I was surprised to see Rocky go over on Cena, but I think it will build up to something in the future. After it’s all said and done, I give this Mania an 8 out of 10, and I put it in the Top-15 Manias of all time.

Thanks for bearing with me and reading all of this article, and a huge thanks for Liam for letting me do this and for posting it on his site. Hopefully I’ll be able to come back with something else for all of you listening. You can email me your thoughts at redsox1002003@yahoo.com.

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