Shore's WWE WrestleMania 29 Preview and Predictions: Will Triple H lose to Brock Lesnar and retire? Can CM Punk worm his way into ending Undertaker's streak? Will John Cena finally pull the trigger and turn on The Rock?
By Chris Shore
The following predictions are made with no prior knowledge of the planned finishes. These are merely my guesses based on what I see on TV each week and where I think WWE is going with their storylines.
The Rock vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship: Well here we are, just one year removed from the "once in a lifetime" match, and I'm more excited for it this time than last. Rock and Cena have done a much better job working together this year. The build has been better because of it, and the match will be better because of it. But will it be good enough?
From an in-ring standpoint, I'm worried. Rock was blown up wrestling Punk just a few months ago, and there is no question he was blown up last year. That might be enough to trigger his competitive spirit and make his cardio better, but he's already adding bulk for the next moving he's shooting, and that will certainly work against him.
Of course all eyes will be on John Cena and the possibility of a heel turn. There was zero thought of that this year until the build took the "obsessed" turn that it has. That has added to the story and rekindled speculation about a possible turn. So will John Cena turn heel? I have to say no. At the Hall of Fame ceremony last night, Bob Backland talked about refusing to turn heel because it would have hurt his work with troubled youth. Cena's Make-a-Wish situation is very similar, though kayfabe is not what it was back in Backland's days.
DO not confuse my disbelief that Cena will turn with my desire to not see it happen. On the contrary, I want to see him turn and cannot think of a better opportunity than they have here. But WWE has been a babyface driven company from the moment Vince decided to go national, and while people like to throw out Triple H's heel run at the top as the one exception, I would like to point out that Cena is not married to Stephanie McMahon. In the end, Cena pulls of a victory, and I believe a clean one. I will be pulling for the turn, but until I see it happen with my own two eyes, there's just no way I can believe it will happen.
Prediction: John Cena beats The Rock to win the WWE Championship, but without a heel turn.
The Undertaker vs. C.M. Punk: When this match was rumored months ago, I got giddy. When it became obvious it was going to happen, I became even giddier. Now that it's here, I'm anything but giddy. That's a shame too because these two guys should have the hottest angle considering who is involved. Instead, we have a weak story that is built around not CM Punk defeating Undertaker, but Undertaker beating himself.
For those Punk marks who are convinced Punk wins here, presumably by a cheesy DQ or countout finish, let me ask you this: IS that really a victory? Will CM Punk go down in history as the guy who ended Undertaker's streak, or will he go down in history as the guy who was there when Taker decided to end his streak? Do you really think Punk gains anything by winning that way? I sure don't, and that's why this story has been so poorly done.
If Undertaker's streak were to come to an end, it can't be by a technical decision. Somebody needs to put his shoulders to the mat for three seconds to make it meaningful, and I don't see any way that happens here. Worse, they haven't even built it as a possibility. The feud with so much promise has been reduced to a side show that serves neither Punk nor Undertaker well. I expect a good match, one that incorporates a lot of storytelling, but there's so much more they could have done.
Prediction: The Undertaker defeats C.M. Punk.
Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H in a No Holds Barred match with Triple H's career on the line: Probably the biggest wild card on the show in the sense of match quality, Triple H and Brock Lesnar are to be commended for having a much better build this time. SummerSlam left a lot to be desired, and that's why there was so much pushback when I speculated then that this match would happen. They have overcome the hole they dug for themselves nicely.
As far as a prediction on this, the retirement stipulation was, for me, a slam dunk when taken in context with everything else. Triple H gets his win back was my guess in August, and the stipulation only hardened, my resolve to that pick. That was until Shawn Michaels was added and Jason Powell asked about Michaels throwing in the towel.
Suddenly I had a scenario where Hunter could lose and still come back at some point simply because he didn't lose, Michaels lost for him. Sure its flimsy, but this is wrestling. World titles have changed on flimsier logic than that. I'm sticking with my pick, but I'm also going to be watching HBK very closely tonight. If he comes out with a towel in his hand, I may have to revamp my pick on the fly.
Prediction: Triple H defeats Brock Lesnar.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger for the World Heavyweight Championship: Oh how I thought this would be a good feud. I'm not sure I have been more wrong about anything in wrestling (with the possible exception of Bully Ray's singles run). Coulter and Swagger never evolved like I thought they would, and Del Rio has simply stunk. I expect this to be a good, but not great match, and I expect Del Rio to get the win. I also expect that to piss Swagger off to the point where he destroys Del Rio post-match. And we all know what that means.
Prediction: Alberto Del Rio defeats Jack Swagger to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
BONUS: Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship: Yep, time for Ziggler to finally cash in. I know I've predicted it several times, but if you were the Money in the Bank contract holder, wouldn't you cash in on "the grandest stage of them all?" Yeah, me too.
Prediction: Dolph Ziggler wins the World Heavyweight Championship.
Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston for the WWE Tag Team Championship: As much as I would like to see Ziggler and company walk out with a ton of gold, I don't think it happens. This could be the sleeper match of the night. Ziggler and Bryan are well known commodities in the ring. Everyone constantly sleeps on Kane and he constantly proves them silly for doing so. Langston is the wild card, but everything I have seen of the guy screams ability. My guess is he's another guy like Kane and will prove the doubters wrong.
Prediction: Team Hell No retains the WWE Tag Team Championships.
Ryback vs. Mark Henry: For me, the only question going into this match is: Can Ryback pick up Mark Henry. Ryback has shown a disturbing lack of strength when in the ring with bigger men, especially when it comes to lifting them for Shell Shocked. It may not matter ultimately because I don't think this ends in a clean finish. There's business to do tomorrow, and there's nothing obvious for these guys to move on to. We know some of these matches have to be revisited at Extreme Rules, and this feud is tailor made to carry over. Expect a double countout or some other mess of a finish to precipitate that.
Prediction: Ryback and Mark Henry fight to some sort of no contest or double DQ.
The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins) vs. Randy Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show: The story in this match isn't the match, but whether the team of Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show can co-exist. WWE has gone out of their way to prove they can, and Booking 101 says that means they can't. I had a Orton heel turn before Mania to setup him vs. Sheamus, and I still think that's where this ultimately leads, but I don't expect the turn tonight. Even though I don't expect Cena to turn, the possibility that it might happen makes me believe they will save Orton's turn for a little later, but look for the seeds of that turn to be sown here.
The other question is match quality. On PPV, nobody has had more exciting matches the past year than the Shield. Their TV matches have left a lot to be desired, but that's TV and this is WrestleMania. Can they recreate the frenetic TLC match they had a few months ago? I sure hope so because that was a match worth sitting through a second time, and they have even better workers across the ring this time.
Prediction: The Shield win after miscommunication between Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show.
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango: It's been nice to see CM Punk and others join me in saying this is the undercard match they most want to see. Fandango can work, and his character is growing on me more and more. Chris Jericho is a guy who gets motivated putting young talent over, and all signs point to him making the kid look great. Debuting at WrestleMania is a big deal. I hope the artist formerly known as Johnny Curtis is up to the challenge.
Prediction: Fandango defeats Chris Jericho.
Tons of Funk and the Funkadactyls vs. Rhodes Scholars and The Bella Twins in a mixed tag match: This match should be aâ€¦wellâ€¦ton of fun! OK, you can boo me if you want, but this match should truly be entertaining. Everyone is expecting the finish to involve the women, and that seems logical to me. But more than anything, I want to see Damien Sandow get a mic and draw heat with a crowd that should be rabid for his promo.
Prediction: Tons of Funk and the Funkadactyls win.
Wade Barrett vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship: I'm not even sure what to write about this one. This feels like a game of "Who or what has been devalued more?" Neither of these guys matter right now, and the title means even less. At least this is the pre-show match, I guess. I see no reason to move the title, so I'm picking Barrett to retain.
Prediction: Wade Barrett retains the Intercontinental Championship.
BONUS: Antonio Cesaro vs. Zack Ryder for the United States Championship: This is pure speculation, but Cesaro doesn't have a match and deserves one, and Zack Ryder is in his home areâ€¦meaning WWE has to abuse him for some unknown reason. I have no idea how they get there, probably the "get everybody on the show battle royal," but I see Cesaro beating Ryder to a pulp.
Antonio Cesaro retains the United States Championship.
Questions? Comments? Anyone, anyone? Let me hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @TheShoreSlant with whatever is on your mind.
And read my first work of fiction: The Following Contest is a Dark Match available exclusively on ebook for all eReaders, smartphones, tablets, and PCs for only 99 cents.
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