I’m back once again…but it’s only a one-shot deal. (Insert Rob Van Dam outdated Internet meme here). Let’s take a look at Sunday’s WrestleMania and see what all the fuss is all about.
“Tear down the cockpit door, Hulk Hogan.”
Just like “The Last Outlaw” The Undertaker comes strolling around once a year for a nice payday, I like to take his cue and come around only once a year, when eyeballs and interest are at an all time high. Only my payday isn’t beating up legends and indy gods, I get adulation from faceless commentators and my man CB. No, but seriously, it’s WrestleMania week, as a wrestling fan how can you can not be a little more amped up than usual?
Also, where the well is the fun, awesome WrestleMania hype that has been instilled in company culture since about WrestleMania 21? The build for the entire card, including the big three main events have been lackluster.
But that’s why we are all here today, so let’s do a run down of the who, what, where and why for this year’s Showcase of the Immortals.
So now…for one last time (again!)…let’s take some ‘E.
News of the Week
Yeah it’s WrestleMania week; that’s why I came back for the week. (Just like last year.) Do you think I’m not going to talk about anything not related to WrestleMania?
There is one thing I miss about writing for the Pulse, I can write fast and loose and not have to explain everything. With Examiner I feel like I am writing more “proper” and writing to a new audience every time. I mean if you found your way all the way here you pretty much know the score and I shouldn’t have to break down a lot. So I’m going to cut the bullshit and go with a quick and dirty preview of this weekend’s show and who I think will win. Everybody cool? Alright…
WWE Championship – The Rock v. John Cena
The promos between the two have been less inspired than last year and the novelty has worn off. Even John Cena’s BBF Stu the Cameraman thinks this is a rerun and want’s to see something different. That being said, John Cena wins this one to rectify what was supposedly a terrible 2012 for the face of the company. Plus, even I’m a sucker for trilogies and best-of-three series. Cena needs to win the Title here in order to set up Rock-Cena III (Once in a Lifetime…Again…For the Last Time) at WrestleMania down in NOLA.
Triple H v. Brock Lesnar
I am an unabashed Brock Lesnar mark and will pretty much watch in any fighting or wrestling thing. The dude’s hometown was 40 minutes from mine for crying out loud. But Triple H needs his win back from SummerSlam ’12 and then of course set up Triple H-Lesnar III somewhere down the road. Now that Lesnar will be around for another year there’s plenty of time for the inevitable part three.
Undertaker v. CM Punk
This probably won’t touch Undertaker’s past four WrestleMania masterpieces, but it still should be a great bit of fun. In a Blair-level or snark, I have to ask, how the hell did WWE get so lucky that Paul Bearer passed away unfortunately during the build-up to the match. I mean it completely steered the course of the match build-up into a different direction. Punk now looks like a huge grade A jackass jerk and Undertaker an even bigger hero. At least Punk now gets to part of an immortal list.
World Heavyweight Championship – Alberto Del Rio v. Jack Swagger
Alright, I admit, I love Zeb Coulter and by proxy the “We the People” gimmick. It cracks m up to no end and it is obvious that Coulter and Ricardo Rodriguez are the stars of the rivalry. This could easily go either way. Del Rio could win to vanquish the evil racist and send Swagger packing after the DUI. Or Swagger could win and ride the craziness to another level. Either way I’m just loving all the managers coming back to the company in some fashion.
Randy Orton, Sheamus & The Big Show v. The Shield
One thing WWE has done right in 2012 is the creation, evolution and build up of The Shield. The three “rookies” have been built up and protected so well that they seem on even keel with three multi-time former World Champions. The kids should win here to continue their momentum and make all three into legit superstars. Their opponents are all already made and don’t need the victory. Plus it could to plenty of in-fighting and rivalries heading into the springtime and summer. Let The Shield run together for a few months longer before they branch out into the shark-infested singles ranks. I mean they haven’t had the inevitable awesome rivalry against 3MB yet.
Ryback v. Mark Henry
This may be what I am most looking forward to on the card. It’s scary to think that it includes Mark Henry, but this guy has improved ridiculously in the past couple of years. It’s still fun to watch big monsters squash little guys, and no one does it better than “The World’s Strongest Man.” Plus all the shit talking he does during it is just phenomenal. Ryback has done a great job of getting himself over and deserves a spot here. I’m guessing Ryback wins with what will supposed to be a show-stealer worthy Shell Shock, but Henry is on a solid roll too. This should be fun in an old school, beat ‘em up ‘80s style brawl.
WWE Tag Championships – Team Hell No v. Big E Langston & Dolph Ziggler
It seemed so logical to do the inevitable Team Hell No break up here, but I guess they wanted to milk it a little longer. But this match is so random. Ziggler should be in a high profile singles match or really hyping up his desire to cash in the Money in the Bank contract. Now it also looks like Kaitlyn and AJ Lee being added to the match to make it a six-person winner take all match. Either way the villains should win to set the seeds for the inevitable Team Hell No feud and give Ziggler momentum into possibly cashing in the World Title contract and being a dual Champion. And seriously how lucky is Big E to make his main stage debut on friggin’ WrestleMania of all places?
Intercontinental Championship – The Miz v. Wade Barrett
Remember when Miz just lost a United States Title feud to Antonio Cesaro just a couple months ago? Yeah me neither. This feud started over that was better in their borderline terrible movies that just came out. I mean it’s no Japanese shampoo commercial rivalry, but it’s still pretty sweet on the bad feud starter scale. It’s really irrelevant who wins as they will both stay in the same position and job to someone higher up the food chain to them a week later on RAW. And why isn’t United States Champion Antonio Cesaro included somewhere here? He got himself incredibly over in 2012 and certainly deserves a spot here. And how about Kofi Kingston? Maybe a fatal four way for both belts would’ve been a nice way to include them, but I guess someone needs to win the pre-show battle royal.
Chris Jericho v. Fandango
What a random slot to insert Chris Jericho into. But he seems like he is always up for a challenge and I’m certain signed off the rivalry and had a hand in developing it. Johnny Curtis has come out of nowhere with Fandango and like Big E, gets to have his main stage debut at WrestleMania. That’s unheard of to have two “young lions” like that get big time treatment like that. Plus add in The Shield’s debut, it’s a case of rookies and part-timers filling the show, while the company’s main stays pad out the mid-card. Fandango should win this to keep his new momentum rolling.
Brodus Clay, Tensai & The Funkadactyls v. The Rhodes Scholars and Nikki & Brie Bella
This will either get bumped down to the pre-show or will be a 30 second squash followed up happy dancing to break up all the heavy main event matches. Remember when The Rhodes Scholars split up for like two weeks? Yeah me neither.
In non-WrestleMania preview news, it is incredibly sad to hear about the passing of Reid Flair. He was way too young to die at 25, no matter the circumstances. Even as a caricature that he has slowly morphed into, Ric Flair is a pro wrestling national treasure, wrestling fans mourn for the family’s loss.
WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013
Bruno Sammartino (inducted by Arnold Schwarzenegger)
Bob Backlund (inducted Maria Menounos)
Mick Foley (inducted by Terry Funk)
Wrestler of the Week
Yeah I went there. Johnny Curtis when from a barely there presence on the WWE roster to get his “first match” at WrestleMania XXIX of all places. Fandango has been growing into his role and his obnoxious mannerisms and entrance have been getting responses from the crowd each week. He appeared on both RAW and SmackDown this past week to further his rivalry with Chris Jericho and has dome an admirable job along the way. Sunday will certainly be sink or swim time for both Fandango and Johnny Curtis.
RAW’s On Tonight!
It’s the go home show for WrestleMania. If you think you are getting 20 minute, five-star in-ring wrestling you are insane. Expect plenty of jibber jabber between Rock and Cena, Paul Heyman, CM Punk and some racist hilarity from everyone involved in the World Title match. Plus the mid-card Champions will probably job, the undercard matches will get some paltry last minute build and everyone will do their best to say Fandango’s name right. Don’t watch it for the wrestling, watch it for the inevitable shit talking and last minute hype. This show, alongside the show right after WrestleMania, are traditionally two of the most hyped, entertaining and important RAWs of each calendar year.
On Last Week’s Episode…
A new guy, the legendary Scott Keith and the always entertaining Matt Harrak like it RAW.
That dastardly Blair Douglas and his own Dungeon of Doom cover SmackDown.
This is Boring…What Else is There to Read?
Mark was a columnist for Pulse Wrestling for over four years, evolving from his original “Historically Speaking” commentary-style column into the Monday morning powerhouse known as “This Week in ‘E.” He also contributed to other ventures, outside of IP, most notably as the National Pro Wrestling Examiner for Examiner.com and was previously a contributor for The Wrestling Press. Follow him on Twitter here.
Tags: aj lee, alberto del rio, Brock Lesnar, chris jericho, cm punk, Dolph Ziggler, Fandango, jack swagger, john cena, Mark Henry, randy orton, ryback, sheamus, Team Hell No, the big show, The Miz, The Rock, The Shield, the undertaker, triple h, Wade Barrett, Wrestlemania XXIX, wrestling, WWE