WrestleMania has been interesting over the last few years. 24 wasn't a spectacular-looking card on paper but every match exceeded expectations and we got some really great moments. 25 had the pressure of being the 25th WrestleMania, which seems silly, but I think it did hurt the show a bit. 26 had the best build of any WrestleMania since 17, but didn't quite deliver on the hype even though it was still a great show. Last year, while there was fun to be had, didn't exactly go down in history as one of the greatest Manias in history.
This year, the hype has been largely unnecessary thanks to a card that looks absolutely stellar on paper. Will that translate to a fantastic show? We still have a few hours before we find that out, but let's take a look at the card and make some predictions.
WWE Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Tag Match
Epico & Primo © vs. The Usos vs. Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel
I wasn't aware that Kidd and Gabriel are a team these days, but that's cool. I also think it's pretty cool they're streaming this match live on WWE.com and YouTube; preview matches used to be standard fare for PPVs and they've gone by the wayside. That's why the pre-show is called the Free For All, because you would always get to see a match that was free, for all. I bet if WWE did this more often, giving away an exciting match 30 minutes before showtime, they might see an uptick in last-minute buys.
Anyhoo, I expect this match will be pretty exciting due to the parties involved. I'm confident Epico & Primo will retain, but I'd like to see Gabriel & Kidd take it, rebuild the tag division around them. Although I feel like "rebuild the division around them" is something I say every time a new team pops up.
Divas Tag Match
Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix & Eve
I doubt WWE's expecting people to buy WrestleMania to see Maria Menounos wrestle, it strikes me as relationship building to get more WWE features on Extra. Nothing wrong with that, and Menounos clearly wants to be a part of WWE, so I don't really see the harm here. The match will probably suck, but not like Miller Lite Catfight suck, so at least it's not the worst thing ever. Kelly & Maria win.
Randy Orton vs. Kane
It's like my own personal hell! What happens when the most overexposed wrestler of the late 90s/early 00s meets the most overexposed wrestler of the late 00s/early 10s? We'll find out tonight! These guys have long been famous "that guys," they can fit into a main event at any time, the crowd is usually into whatever it is they're doing, but they haven't done anything new or interesting for damn near a decade. They could surprise us, it's WrestleMania after all, but I suspect this will be my match to get more pizza. Orton wins because it's a PPV and he's Randy Orton.
Control of WWE on the line
Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny
The entrances alone will probably keep this match from being much more than a finisher-fest, but I suspect it will be loads of fun and a nice showcase for quite a few guys. The Miz needs to be rebuilt, Dolph Ziggler just needs that one big moment and David Otunga is about to solidify himself as the real deal, so with all that in mind, I'm going with Team Johnny.
Cody Rhodes © vs. Big Show
I am oddly excited for this match. I'm also a little nervous that it'll end with one punch, but that could be fun too, Big Show finally getting his WrestleMania moment. Big Show is definitely winning here, just so he can lay claim to winning every title in the company, which as far as I know, will make him the first person in WWE history to do it when you include the ECW Championship. That makes up for 13 years of WrestleMania embarrassment, right?
World Heavyweight Championship
Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan ©
I predict a big sleeper hit here. Give these guys 15-20 minutes to work with and I think some serious magic could happen. After getting bumped off the card last year, it's exciting to see these two get a chance to tangle on the big stage with the World Title on the line. Sheamus should win here, but the fact that Daniel Bryan is defending the World Championship at Wrestle freakin' Mania is a victory for him in itself.
CM Punk © vs. Chris Jericho
Despite the silly attacks on Punk's family, we all know this match could steal the show. Hell, it could steal the year. These two aren't strangers to each other, they've square off in a WWE ring before, but not since CM Punk climbed to that upper echelon that few Superstars ever make it to. You could argue Jericho himself never made it there until his second run with the company, and that's a far more interesting story to me that Punk's junkie sister. Give these guys enough time and let them do what they do best (in the world) and I think we're in for quite a treat. They've got two other matches casting big shadows tonight, but I do think this one has potential to be the match of the night. I'm going with CM Punk for the win, but I hope we get a rematch next month too.
Hell in a Cell
The Undertaker vs. Triple H
This match scares me. As someone who loved their match last year, I'm scared they have a lot to live up to. As a match that was quite divisive last year, I'm scared they have a lot of people to convince. Considering both guys are down to a handful of matches a year between them, I'm scared for their safety... the addition of Hell in a Cell just makes that fear even worse. But these two aren't strangers to pressure, danger or the massive stage of WrestleMania. This is Taker's 20th appearance at the event, Triple H's 15th and it very well could be the last for one or both of them. With that in mind, I expect these two to leave everything they got in the ring, and that scares me too, but it's also very, very exciting. Undertaker goes 20-0.
The Main Event
John Cena vs. The Rock
More than a year of hype behind it, two eras of wrestling clashing, make no mistake: this is the biggest match WWE has promoted since The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan. And I would argue it's even bigger, because in 2002, Hulk's stock had dropped significantly due to years of coasting along in WCW. That match made Hogan relevant again, but even after eight years away from the ring, The Rock is just as relevant to professional wrestling fans as he was at the height of the Attitude Era. Cena is undoubtedly the guy in wrestling right now, has been for the better part of the last decade and now he's squaring off with the one guy people say he'll never be.
Matches like this make wrestling fun. It's real (as real as wrestling gets, at least), there's drama, excitement and mainstream press behind it, it makes wrestling feel big again. Much like the other big matches tonight, there's a lot of - and I mean a lot - of hype to live up to. Cena and Rock aren't the type to buckle under pressure, but the big question is if these guys still have it in them - if they ever did at all - to execute what is being billed as the biggest match of all-time? There were a lot of doubt about Hogan and Andre in 1987 and they proved the naysayers wrong, I suspect Cena and Rock will do the same tonight. John Cena wins.