WrestleMania XXVI preview

WWE WrestleMania XXVI is under forty-eight hours away. The event will be broadcast live from the University of Phoenix in suburban Phoenix, Arizona and feature a card of ten matches. On the eve of the twenty-sixth edition of WrestleMania here is a full preview of the upcoming event.

WWE Championship
John Cena versus Batista
The two super powers of World Wrestling Entertainment have been kept fairly far apart since they both become mega stars at WrestleMania 21, having only one major match against each other at SummerSlam ’08. Batista came out on top in that first bout and since then speculation has run wild when the inevitable rematch would take place. But various injuries and the two men finding themselves on opposing brands have left the rivalry unfinished. This is one of the company’s few remaining dream matches that hasn’t been done to death and is fitting a marquee spot at a place like WrestleMania XXVI. Now with Batista a villain and Cena the company’s uber-hero the story is even easier to tell. The two men got themselves involved in the Bret Hart-Mr. McMahon rivalry, with Cena, the long-time pro wrestling fan, coming to the aid of Hart while Batista has worked as a hired gun for the company owner.

After Batista became McMahon’s hired gun and Cena became Bret Hart’s defender the two men have split away from the Hart-McMahon rivalry and built upon their own fantastic history. Batista became jealous and bitter of Cena’s success not only in the company, but also in other forms of media as well. Now with Batista in possession of the prized WWE Championship and with the backing of Mr. McMahon he is on top of the world. He has truly reinvented himself and found new life as a villain. Cena, the people’s champion, never backs down from a fight and is shocked by Batista’s actions, but is ready to fight him and is always in contention for the WWE Championship. The amazing promo work between these two has successfully transitioned their own personal grudge from McMahon-Hart into something worthy of their long-standing history. What looked as an afterthought weeks ago has now become the clear far and away main event for the evening.

No Disqualifications, No Count Outs
Shawn Michaels versus The Undertaker
Since the 2009 Slammy Awards when Michaels and Undertaker won the Slammy for 2009 Match of the Year for the WrestleMania XXV epic, Michaels has been campaigning to wrestle Undertaker one more time at this year’s WrestleMania in order to avenge last year’s loss and end the fabled Undertaker WrestleMania winning streak. On a live RAW in January, Undertaker turned down Michaels request for a rematch. Since that point Michaels has gone on a crusade to get that match with Undertaker. He failed to win the Royal Rumble, which would have guaranteed him a World Title match at WrestleMania and he failed to qualify to get into the Elimination Chamber, which would have also allowed him freedom to pick his match. That desperation and despair has caused him to lose focus and was the catalyst for him and his DeGeneration X partner to lose their Unified Tag Team Championships to The Miz and The Big Show back in January on RAW. This obsession has caused a rift with Triple H, which also is beautifully building up tension and teasing the inevitable violent break-up of DX as well.

The night of the Elimination Chamber pay per view, Michaels snuck into the Chamber during Undertaker’s World Title defense and cost him the Championship. The next night on RAW, Undertaker appeared and granted Michaels wish of a rematch, but on the condition that Michaels put something at stake as well – his career. Michaels readily agreed and the “most anticipated match in WrestleMania history” was made. Sunday night at WrestleMania either Undertaker’s immortal WrestleMania streak will come to an end or Shawn Michaels’ career will come to its end (or at least a long hiatus.) The stakes were raised even higher when it was determined that the match could only be won by pinfall or submission, thus no disqualifications or count outs would be allowed. That edict allows for a whole new element not seen in last year’s match and could help differentiate it. But sequels often never live up to the original and these two will have big shoes to fill if they want to top or recreate their masterpiece from last April.

World Heavyweight Championship
Edge versus Chris Jericho (c)
Edge and Jericho have bad blood stemming from this past summer. The duo were Unified WWE World Tag Team Champions but an untimely Achilles tendon injury to Edge caused him to vacate his half of the Championships. Jericho replaced him with The Big Show and badmouthed Edge as being injury prone. The early forecast looked as if Edge’s injury would prevent him from even being back in action in time for WrestleMania. However rumors circulated he would return at the Royal Rumble, far earlier than predicted. The rumors came true as Edge returned and won the Royal Rumble match, staking his claim for a World Championship match at WrestleMania. He sat back and watched the Elimination Chamber pay per view and saw his old partner win the World Championship at Elimination Chamber. The next night on RAW, Edge made things official challenging Jericho for the World Title at WrestleMania. Since then Edge has psyched out Jericho by hyping his Spear finishing move and subsequently hitting him with said Spear in numerous face-to-face interactions. Jericho has responded by pointing out Edge’s propensity to be injury prone and his faulty DNA while promoting his own impeccable health record and past in-ring success. Look for a great match between the two blonde Canadians built upon a past partnership and injury and the “richest prize in the game.”

No Holds Barred
Bret “Hit Man” Hart versus Mr. McMahon
When it was announced that Hart would be returning to WWE back in December fans wanted two things from Hart. One was a face-to-face confrontation with Shawn Michaels, and the other was a confrontation with Mr. McMahon. Both happened on Hart’s first night back in the company, but it was evident that the storyline would be Hart against McMahon as his long-standing real life feud with Shawn Michaels was put to bed immediately. In his four appearances so far McMahon and Hart have gone back and forth trying to gain an edge with John Cena acting as Hart’s defender and Batista acting as McMahon’s enforcer. On a February episode of RAW as Hart was entering his limo he was hit by a car going in reverse, injuring Hart in the process. Hart has been retired since 2000 due to post-concussion syndrome and in the decade that has passed he suffered a stroke and a myriad of personal tragedies that have kept him from competing the ring. To say he is not the same athlete he was ten years ago would be an incredible understatement. Therefore the Street Fight stipulation would keep Hart and McMahon in an environment that would protect both men. However, this “injury” that Hart sustained on RAW this past week may the catalyst to keep Hart out of the ring completely. If that is the case, expect Hart and McMahon to act as corner men for Cena and Batista in their inevitable match. The punch line of the entire storyline will revolve around Hart locking McMahon in the Sharpshooter when it is all said and done. That can be done with or without the actual match between the two.

Triple H versus Sheamus (c)
Sheamus came out of virtually nowhere to win the WWE Championship back in December. He lost the Championship inside the Elimination Chamber after he was pinned by Triple H. After recovering from a concussion suffered inside the Chamber, Sheamus returned to RAW to attack Triple H, the man who eliminated him. It’s been reported that Sheamus is a workout buddy and backstage protégé of Triple H, so this could be a test to see if Triple H’s new guy has what it takes on the biggest stage of them all while giving HHH a big win once again at WrestleMania. It was originally expected this match would be for the WWE Champoinship, but now it’s time to see whether Sheamus can hang with the main eventers and whether Triple H can be the ring general he professes to be by leading the relative rookie to a great match on the biggest stage of all. In the past few years, “The Game” has been doing his duty making new stars at WrestleMania, losing to Batista at WrestleMania 21, John Cena at WrestleMania 22 and putting over Randy Orton at WrestleMania XXIV. Now it’s time for Triple H to either “make” Sheamus or break him.

If Mysterio Loses He Must Join The Straight Edge Society
Rey Mysterio versus CM Punk
Both Mysterio and Punk have indicated in past interviews that they would like to battle each other in a long-term, big stage program, and their wish came true after their interactions leading up to Elimination Chamber and the many weeks afterwards.
The two men met on SmackDown the week before Elimination Chamber that saw Mysterio emerge victorious, only to receive a three-on-one beatdown for his troubles. Their rivalry became more personal as weeks went on, but reached a boiling point two weeks ago on SmackDown when Mysterio brought his entire real family out with him to celebrate his young daughter Aaliyah’s ninth birthday. Punk, and his Straight Edge Society (Luke Gallows and Serena) interrupted the proceedings and challenged Mysterio to a match at WrestleMania. Punk then took things a step further by harassing Mysterio in front of his entire family and then sang a Happy Birthday song to young Aaliyah in the creepiest fashion possible. The next week on SmackDown, Mysterio lost a match to Punk’s right hand man Gallows, which then set up the stipulation that should Mysterio lose tonight’s match-up, then he will join the Straight Edge Society. The two men are definite professionals in WWE and most likely are planning on stealing the show at WrestleMania XXVI if given the chance. Whether this is the end of their wild rivalry or just the first chapter, it should be a fun ride.

Randy Orton versus Ted DiBiase versus Cody Rhodes
DiBiase and Rhodes has been an on/off protégsé of Randy Orton’s since the fall of 2008 and form the other two-thirds of the Legacy stable. Since the three men officially formed Legacy in early 2009 fans have speculated their inevitable break-up. Recently miscommunication has cost Orton two matches against Sheamus and Orton has openly attacked both Rhodes and DiBiase while they have all gone behind each backs to stir up controversy. The break-up became definitive at the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match at the Elimination Chamber pay per view when Rhodes, who wasn’t even in the match, brought a pipe to ringside to aid DiBiase. DiBiase then used the pipe on Orton and eliminated him from the match. Since then Orton has battled DiBiase in a singles match and battled both Rhodes and DiBiase in a handicap match. What originally seemed as a story to break DiBiase out as a hero singles star has actually turned Orton into an unlikely hero once again as he battles his former followers. The match is wide open and many possibilities remain for the match. Who knows whether Orton will reign supreme as the conquering leader defeating his former subjects, or DiBiase will win and break out as the emerging singles star so many have expected or whether Rhodes will surprise them all and come from behind to make himself a player.

Money in the Bank
Evan Bourne versus Christian versus Kofi Kingston versus Montel Vontavious Porter versus Jack Swagger versus Shelton Benjamin versus Matt Hardy versus Kane versus Drew McIntyre versus Dolph Ziggler
The Money in the Bank Ladder Match is always a fun car crash that highlights the entire company’s main event and gets many deserving wrestlers on the card that may not make it otherwise. This year will boast Money in the Bank’s largest roster since its inception in 2005, as ten men will battle for their chance at a guaranteed World Championship Title shot. Each man earned their spot in the match as Christian defeated Carlito, Ziggler outlasted both John Morrion and R-Truth in a triple threat and Benjamin beat former two-time winner CM Punk. Kane and Matt Hardy both earned their berths by beating Intercontinental Champion Drew McIntyre in separate singles bouts. McIntyre got those losses expunged and beat local competitor Aaron Bolo to advance into the match. In addition MVP beat Zack Ryder and Swagger pinned Santino Marella in quick bouts to earn their spots and Bourne beat the veteran William Regal to earn his first WrestleMania payday. Then just as if it looked as if it would be a nine-man match, Kofi Kingston qualified by beating Vladimir Kozlov this past week on RAW. Kingston, McIntyre and Christian are the three men coming into the match with the most momentum, but with a record ten men in the match it should make for an incredibly unique match.

Unified WWE World Tag Team Championship
John Morrison & R-Truth versus The Miz & The Big Show (c)
Morrison and Truth beat Cryme Tyme and The Hart Dynasty in a triple threat match on the March 5 edition of SmackDown to become number one contenders for the Unified WWE World Tag Team Championships. The match and the feud came out of nowhere but since Morrison and Truth earned the bout, the feud has intensified greatly. The four men have battled in singles matches across RAW and SmackDown to build up suspense. In addition R-Truth and his Rookie on the new WWE program NXT, David Otunga, have clashed numerous times with The Miz and his NXT Rookie Daniel Bryan, which have only added fuel to this fire. Plus if you add to the long-standing tag team partnership and subsequent rivalry between John Morrison and The Miz this bout has a lot of underlying issues that could make this bout better than it seems on paper.

Beth Phoenix, Mickie James, Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly & Eve Torres v. Vickie Guerrero, Maryse, Alicia Fox, Michelle McCool & Layla
This bout was just officially made on Friday as a WrestleMania match. It was expected, however, as Vickie Guerrero, McCool and Layla have been a thorn in the sides of Beth and Mickie for weeks now. Their rivalry, which originated on SmackDown, spread to RAW recently as Maryse joined forces with McCool and Layla to beat on Gail, Kelly and Eve. Maryse also recently beat Gail to win the vacant WWE Divas Championship, which makes for an underlying rivalry in this ten women brawl.

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