The Stomping Ground: Musings on the ‘Mania Midcard (Ziggler, Ryder, Rhodes, Kingston)

Yeah, I know. My title is a shameless use of Kue’s alliteration tactics. I figure if he’s going to be late with his presentation this week, I might as well show ’em up, right?

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Welcome back to the most consistently awesome column this side of… well, I don’t know. You fill in the blank and I’ll give you credit for it.

So The Rock returned this past Monday night and did pretty much what I said he would: pop the crowd, insult Cena’s manhood, and gloss over Cena’s accusations. We also had a great opening segment with Jericho and Punk that set the stage nicely for their upcoming confrontation, and more hijinks with the Raw and SmackDown GMs. As usual, the WWE pulled out all the stops to build their main events for WrestleMania this year.

Hold up.

Where the hell’s the midcard in all of this? Besides the Hell in a Cell and Sheamus/Bryan, there are only two other matches rumored for the show (which I will delve into) and a host of talent with no storyline in sight. We still have four weeks to go, so obviously I expect things to start shaping up next week, but I’ve been contemplating how the rest of the card will fall into place. Without further ado, here are my expectations for the midcard match-ups of WrestleMania XXVIII.

Keep in mind that anything can change between now and WrestleMania weekend, so I could be COMPLETELY off on some of these.

Cody Rhodes vs Big Show
This is all but guaranteed at this point, based on what’s been happening between them for the past two weeks. Cody continues to anger Big Show by bringing up his ridiculous WrestleMania losses and the logical conclusion will be that they face off one-on-one with Wight finally getting a big win. I just hope the Intercontinental Championship stays out of the equation. Many of us assumed the return of Goldust would take place here (especially after he defended Booker T), but the angle doesn’t seem to be heading in that direction.

United States Championship: Fatal Four Way
Jack Swagger vs Dolph Ziggler vs Zack Ryder vs The Miz

I realize that Ryder would be the only face in this match, but he’ll be the undeniable underdog favorite going in. In order for this to occur there has to be some dissension in Team Guerrero stemming from Ziggler, who did not get his rematch for the title after Ryder defeated him at TLC. He and Swagger can squabble amongst themselves until Ryder makes his big return, demanding his rematch as well. As for The Miz, Eve could hook up with him and the two could start plotting a way to make it back to the top. Since Eve and Ryder have unfinished business, Miz could snake his way into the match and a Fatal Four Way is born. Kelly Kelly could join Ryder’s corner for support and to keep Vickie and Eve at bay.

Team Teddy Long vs Team John Laurinaitis
Santino Marella, Kofi Kingston, Randy Orton, and R-Truth vs David Otunga, Alberto del Rio, Christian, and Mark Henry

This is the other match I said was rumoured to happen and it seems to be heading in this direction. Del Rio and Christian reappeared at the Elimination Chamber PPV to promote Johnny Ace’s managerial skills and haven’t been seen since, but I think they’ll be back full-time in a matter of days. Santino is guaranteed to be on Teddy’s team, which needs faces to complement the other team’s heels. Enter Kofi and Truth, who (if they’re not going after the Tag Team Championship) are most definitely getting a spot on the card. The only real variable in this is Orton, if he’s not injected into the World Heavyweight Championship match. If the company DOES go that route to make it a Triple Threat, a surprise return by Rey Mysterio would do nicely to take his place here.

Divas’ Championship
There are currently THREE rumors going around about the state of the Divas’ Championship match at Wrestlemania XXVIII:
1. Beth Phoenix vs Natalya
2. Beth Phoenix vs Trish Stratus
3. No Diva match at all (more time for higher profile bouts).
Personally, I’d look forward to Beth vs Nattie if she hadn’t been saddled with this dumb farting gimmick. Kharma appears to be off the table for now and Trish just seems to be lobbying at this point.

I can’t see a place for guys like Jinder MahalGreat KhaliTed DiBiase, or Hunico at the moment. Maybe throw Khali in a backstage comedy segment. DiBiase might somehow fit into the GM situation, but if he’s not in that match he might be in the dark match before the show. Primo and Epico are afterthoughts unless they face Kofi and R-Truth for the gold. Kane is another guy whose involvement seems questionable, but he just returned this past Monday to squash all three teams in that Triple Threat match; there must be some plan for him to show up at the big event.

In my head (and for weeks now) I believed Orton would be thrown into the World Heavyweight Championship match to make it a Triple Threat, but another curveball has entered the mix: Shawn Michaels. HBK is scheduled for Raw next week to address rumors that he and Triple H can’t decide which man is better. The plan right now is to insert Michaels into the Hell in a Cell match in some way, shape, or form. Rather than have him referee the match, why not put HBK in the damn match itself? The story could be that both Triple H and Michaels want the glory of ending THE STREAK, so let them fight to be the guy to do so. This will ease up Taker’s involvement (we all know Triple Threats are notorious for rest spots) and add a little more unpredictability to Undertaker’s 20-0 (c’mon, you know it’s gonna happen). If HBK were to actually wrestle in that match, I don’t foresee the WWE having TWO Triple Threats in one night. However, if the ‘E decides to take the guest referee route, then Orton can get in the Sheamus/Bryan match and Mysterio could take the Viper’s place in the GM battle.

Hold up…how awesome would it be if Mick Foley offered to referee a Triple Threat Hell in a Cell match with HBK, Triple H, and Undertaker with THE STREAK on the line?

A Note About The Rock’s Promo
One thing I’ve noticed is how quickly some of us bashed The Rock’s promo on Monday, especially with the crib notes on his bicep. Here’s something I haven’t seen many people consider: Rock’s promo was DESIGNED to be lackluster. John Cena is a huge cash cow for the company, whereas Rock is a special attraction. The more people that come around to Cena’s side, the more money spent on merchandise in the long run. It all stems from what I mentioned last week. Cena’s job is to prove that Rock is full of himself, right? The match is clearly designed as a “passing the torch” moment, and in order for this to be deemed successful, the WWE needs more supporters for Cena by the end of it. Turning fans to Cena’s argument is the only way to go, and making Rock look foolish is a good start. We tend to think the company is out of touch with its fans, but I believe this is one instance where they know what they’re doing.

Mike Gojira’s Fave Five
This week’s Fave Five is based on the columns that have popped up in the last few days on the Pulse.

1. The Common Denominator: Ralph Hardin is an extremely knowledgeable guy, and this week he goes back in time to 1984 for a great “What If?” scenario.
2. A Decade of Honor: Jake Ziegler hits us up with a great retrospective of ROH’s ten years in the business. With each column dedicated to a year in the company’s lifespan, this particular edition covers 2006 and the Year of the American Dragon.
3. Kue’s Korner: The master of abominable alliteration discusses the chemistry between the main eventers of this year’s WrestleMania.
4. Extreme Archive: An underrated gem from Robert Schwabe, who revisits every episode of the original ECW each week.
5. Top Ten Thoughts on Monday Night Raw: Even though he buried me this week, I’ll give Rhett Davis the rub. He needs the hits anyway, because he’ll disappear into the mists of time soon enough.

Kelly Floyd’s taking a little hiatus from the site to deal with some health issues, so I’ll be pulling Smackdown duty solo for now…unless anyone’s interested in joining me in the recaps????

Hit me up with your thoughts on MY thoughts and everything in between in the comments below.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.


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