Counterfeit Pennies: Ten Showstoppers, One WrestleMania


The question I have for this year’s WrestleMania is this: “After all of the promos are filmed, after all of the matches are set, after all of the storylines are **gasp** developed, who will be the name that fans utter as the show leaves the air?”

Last year, there were undoubtedly numerous people who looked at Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero as the two prime “showstoppers” – with all due respect to HBK. Benoit and Eddie had years of buildup to the moment where they could both be called world champions of their sport, and both left the arena with well-deserved titles.

As we flash forward to the glitz and glamour that coincides with WWE invading Hollywood for the 2005 version of the Grand-Daddy of Them All, I would like to take a moment to ponder the possible showstoppers who could potentially steal the spotlight come March. Some names are already have garnered the prim and proper buzz from both WWE management and folks the IWC, while others just may surprise you.

Chris Biscuiti presents … Ten Potential Showstoppers for WrestleMania

10. Whoever faces (and beats) the Undertaker. With his long WrestleMania streak on the line, it will be interesting to see if WWE goes down an unfamiliar road with the Undertaker. Will the Dead Man finally square off against and lose to a young and hungry opponent that needs a mid-card push, or will another in a long line of Psycho Sids and Heidenreichs do the perennial job to the not-so-fresh Phenom? I would like to see someone of the caliber of a Luther Reigns actually get one over on Mean Mark here, if for no other reason than to rid this WrestleMania of some predictability.

09. John Cena. The Doctor of Thuganomics would have been much higher on this list if not for the stale nature of his raps. Cena has proven to be as charismatic as any of the wrestlers who made the Attitude Era a golden time for the WWF; however, there is a point when Cena has to choose whether or not he wants to be known as the next mega-superstar a la The Rock, or the next mid-carder (Read: Road Dogg Jesse James) who just couldn’t capitalize on the hype. WrestleMania still could be a coming-out party for Cena if he pins JBL, but it will be interesting to see how successful his first title reign is with a Smackdown! roster that is scarce in terms of main event options.

08. Brock Lesnar. A Brock Lesnar comeback could possibly solve the aforementioned problem that Cena might have should he secure the WWE Championship against JBL. Lesnar would have to come back as a heel, considering the bad taste he left in the fans’ mouths last time around, and Smackdown! could use the injection of firepower Brock would bring back to the table.

07. Trish Stratus. With Lita on the shelf yet again, Trish just might prove her worth as a showstopper. If she can carry any title match in a short program against the likes of a Christy Hemme or any of the other Divas, then who knows, maybe she’ll even be forgiven for the Jackie Gayda fiasco. (Okay, so maybe I’m getting a little carried away.) Of course, I still don’t understand why Victoria isn’t featured in the Women’s Division more often, but I guess that’s what happens when you run with Stevie Richards.

06. Chris Benoit. You can’t really count Benoit out of the running, considering he can carry any opponent to a solid match at anytime. I would really like to see Benoit develop a program with a younger heel, perhaps even Muhammed Hassan. However, being that we’re talking about WrestleMania, something tells me Benoit will be involved in a higher profile exchange with someone along the lines of Jericho or Edge.

05. Chris Masters. Just making sure you’re still paying attention.

05. For Real: Batista. The burning question is this: Will Triple H do the job for the second straight WrestleMania? If so, we get the big Batista payoff that we’ve been clamoring for. If not, then we’re left with an anti-climactic Raw main event.

04. Christian. Whether its tag team action, one-on-one encounters, or telling Stacy Keibler that he likes sadomasochistic activity, Christian has been highly entertaining throughout his run as Captain Charisma. If his match with Randy Orton from Raw is any indication, then I can see this ex-Brooder stepping up big-time, as long as his opponent is as formidable in terms of ring presence and wrestling ability.

03. John Bradshaw Layfield. Shockingly enough, this is not a typo. I never would have dreamed of ranking JBL so high on this list even two or three months ago. Perhaps you could call it my affinity for the old school cowardly heel a la Ted DiBiase, or maybe it’s just the cold hard truth that JBL has proved me wrong in terms of developing a character that I genuinely love to hate. Needless to say, Bradshaw has come a long way from the pathetically comical Brawl for All days, and if he secures a win over John Cena at WrestleMania, his title reign is that much closer to hitting the one-year mark. So many of us scoff at WWE for the lack of long-term storyline development, and even if there is no “Master Plan” (in the immortal words of Vinny Verducci’s father in the much-maligned Matt LeBlanc sitcom Top of the Heap) behind JBL’s title reign, it is rather refreshing to have continuity that lasts beyond three or four episodes of Smackdown!. Besides, the drunker JBL gets on champagne after a title win, the more entertaining he is to watch.

02 and 01. HBK and Kurt Angle. I guess you’ve figured out by now what I think the Match of the Night will be this year. Pitting Angle and Michaels against each other is the perfect case for ending the brand extension, either that or at least getting HBK on Smackdown! in order to give him some fresher storylines with younger, capable talent. Of course, in order for this match and a potential HBK Smackdown! run to work for me, I need to see an Angle win and, more importantly, an HBK loss to a younger opponent in a big spot.

That’s all for now … PEACE.

Chris Biscuiti writes exclusively for Inside Pulse. His favorite Fraggle is Uncle Traveling Matt.

CB is an Editor for Pulse Wrestling and an original member of the Inside Pulse writing team covering the spectrum of pop culture including pro wrestling, sports, movies, music, radio and television.