THE BEEF: Perennial champion John Cena is the WWE’s resident superhero, a mix between Hulk Hogan and Marky Mark who’s hugely popular with children. Current champ Mike “the Miz” Mizanin is a former reality star whose arrogance and sense of entitlement annoys both the fans and his fellow wrestlers. Their long-simmering feud started with the Miz routinely needling Cena in interviews throughout 2009 and 2010. The match is complicated by the involvement of the Rock, who returns to the WWE as WrestleMania’s guest host. The Miz, feeling disrespected as Cena and the Rock engaged in an increasingly hostile verbal war over several episodes of “Monday Night Raw,” sneak attacked Cena repeatedly during the buildup to WrestleMania. All three brawled on Monday’s episode of “Raw,” which ended with Cena standing over a downed Miz and Rock.
WHO SHOULD WIN: The Miz. Mizanin earned his main event slot with excellent promos and dramatic in-ring improvement. A victory over Cena would cement him in WWE’s upper echelon.
WHO WILL WIN: John Cena. WrestleMania almost always sends the crowd home happy. Cena hears more than his fair share of boos from older fans, but kids worship him and he’s the company’s number one merchandise seller.
UNDERTAKER VS. TRIPLE H
THE BEEF: The Undertaker has never lost at WrestleMania, going 19-0 since WrestleMania VII in 1991. Triple H, 14-time former world champion and Vince McMahon’s real-life son-in-law, has nothing left to prove as his in-ring career winds down. His goal: be the man to end
the Undertaker’s streak.
WHO SHOULD WIN: The Undertaker. The streak means more than either world championship at this point.
WHO WILL WIN: The Undertaker. Too bad both of these guys didn’t retire years ago. Few wrestlers have buried more promising young performers than these two.
World Heavyweight Championship match: EDGE VS. ALBERTO DEL RIO
THE BEEF: Longtime main eventer Edge is the current World Champion of WWE’s Smackdown brand. Alberto del Rio, aka Mexican wrestling veteran Dos Caras Jr., debuted in the WWE last summer with a Million Dollar Man style gimmick, quickly rocketing to the top of the card. Del Rio
won the Royal Rumble in January, guaranteeing him a World title match at WrestleMania. The feud turned personal over the last few weeks, as del Rio regularly attacked Edge with his debilitating cross armbar
submission hold. Edge’s best friend and former tag partner Christian and del Rio’s bodyguard Brodus Clay recently entered the mix as corner men. Expect both to get involved on Sunday.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Edge. As great as del Rio has been, he’s still very new. Winning the World title so quickly could lead to a backlash with the fans. Also crowning another first-time World Champion in the same calendar year as surprise title victories for Jack Swagger and the Miz would dilute the already diminished World titles even further.
WHO WILL WIN: Alberto del Rio. The WWE seems intent to push him to the very top as quickly as possible. Plus Edge has always been a transitional champion, rarely holding onto the World title for long. Don’t be surprised if Christian turns on his friend and kicks off a long-awaited feud.
CM PUNK VS. RANDY ORTON
THE BEEF: CM Punk, the self-righteous straightedge crusader, has never forgiven Randy Orton for punting him in the head in 2008. That injury forced Punk to vacate his world title. Orton is probably
the second most popular guy on the roster after Cena, even though his only character trait is just being a huge dickhead to every other person in the company. Orton acts like a heel, or bad guy, but he’s
massively popular with teenagers and older fans, and thus rivals Cena as the company’s top babyface, or good guy. Punk and his stable, the Nexus, attacked Orton on Raw several weeks ago. Orton then
systematically eliminated one Nexus member each week by kicking them in the skull. Punk gained the upper hand on Raw two weeks ago by taking out Orton’s punting leg with a wrench. Will Orton be able to
beat Punk at WrestleMania with a bum knee?
WHO SHOULD WIN: CM Punk. Punk is the best all-around performer in the WWE today. Despite a few World title reigns and two solid years of massive heel heat, Punk still isn’t permanently ensconced in the main event picture. A victory over Orton at WrestleMania would solidify
Punk’s stature without damaging Orton’s popularity.
WHO WILL WIN: Randy Orton. If the WWE took Punk seriously as a true top-level guy they would’ve pulled that trigger years ago. Expect Orton to win and reassert the WWE’s pecking order.
JERRY "THE KING" LAWLER VS. MICHAEL COLE
THE BEEF: WWE’s hottest feud doesn’t involve active wrestlers. Michael Cole and wrestling legend Jerry “the King” Lawler are Monday Night Raw’s announce team. Cole, the play-by-play announcer, gradually turned heel throughout 2010, acting as the Miz’s number one fan and cheerleader. Lawler wrestled Miz multiple times this past January, leading to Cole interfering and costing Lawler the World title. Since then Cole has regularly mocked Lawler on Raw, dragging Lawler’s washed-up wrestler son and recently deceased mother into his attacks. They’ll face each other at WrestleMania with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special referee and former World champion Jack Swagger in Cole’s corner.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Jerry “the King” Lawler. He’s the most sympathetic babyface on the card and he’s taking on the most hated man in the company.
WHO WILL WIN: Lawler. The fans will blow the roof off the dome once Cole meets his violent comeuppance.
REY MYSTERIO VS. CODY RHODES
THE BEEF: High-flying legend Rey Mysterio broke “Dashing” Cody Rhodes’ nose. Now the Marietta pretty boy and son of Dusty Rhodes wears a protective mask, spoiling his good looks.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Rey Mysterio. Rhodes has progressed greatly over the last two years, but a victory over former World champ Mysterio wouldn’t mean much in such a minor mid-card feud. Like a dark horse Oscar nominee, for Rhodes the victory is just facing a wrestler as popular as Mysterio at such a major event.
WHO WILL WIN: Rey Mysterio. Mysterio needs a convincing victory to propel him into a probable World title feud with del Rio.
SHEAMUS VS. DANIEL BRYAN for the U.S. Heavyweight title
THE BEEF: After two brief World title reigns and a victory in the King of the Ring tournament, Celtic Warrior Sheamus fell into a lengthy slump, bottoming out after a savage beatdown from Triple H and a subsequent minute-long loss to perennial “jobber to the stars” Evan Bourne. His slide ended when he won the United States Heavyweight title from Daniel Bryan (aka former Ring of Honor champion Bryan Danielson) on Raw two weeks ago. Bryan, the best pure wrestler in the WWE, invoked his rematch clause for WrestleMania. And yes, this is the same US Heavyweight title previously held by Magnum TA, Sting, Lex Luger, and other NWA and WCW fans.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Daniel Bryan. Bryan is a phenomenal talent who can have a good match with almost anybody. He’s the type of thrilling performer who improves every show and makes every opponent look fantastic. He shouldn’t be sacrificed to rebuild Sheamus’s heat after it was intentionally squandered for no good reason.
WHO WILL WIN: Sheamus. After tearing him down the WWE is now committed to building the Irish brawler back into a credible threat. That won’t happen if he can’t handle mid-carders like Bryan.
KANE, BIG SHOW, SANTINO MARELLA, VLADIMIR KOZLOV VS. THE CORRE (WADE BARRETT, EZEKIAL JACKSON, HEATH SLATER, and JUSTIN GABRIEL)
THE BEEF: Dudes gotta get paid. WrestleMania is routinely padded out with matches like this, where guys without an interesting or well-defined feud pile into a single match in order to get a
pay-per-view pay-day. The Big Show and Kane have had issues with the Corre on Smackdown for weeks, and Marella and Kozlov had traded the World Tag Team titles with Slater and Gabriel repeatedly this year.
Still, there’s no good reason for this eight-man tag match other than fitting as many wrestlers on the card as possible.
WHO SHOULD WIN: The Corre. Three members of the Corre were a part of the original Nexus, who looked like a serious threat eight months ago. Their leader Barrett was on the cusp of superstardom. Today they’re jerking WrestleMania’s curtains against not one but two comedy tag teams. Barrett and his stable need a win to ever be taken seriously again.
WHO WILL WIN: Depends on when the match happens. If it’s the first match on the card the faces will go over. If it happens later the Corre might steal a win through cheating. Either way it’ll hopefully be short and to the point.
JOHN MORRISON/TRISH STRATUS/SNOOKI VS. DOLPH ZIGGLER/LAYCOOL
THE BEEF: John Morrison is a parkour-practicing high-flyer saddled with a Jim Morrison gimmick because he vaguely resembles the Doors lead singer. Trish Stratus, one of the better female wrestlers of the last decade, is returning from retirement. Snooki, a talentless cartoon popular only because of America’s perverse fascination with human wreckage, is another transparent ploy at mainstream attention by the WWE. Together they’ll take on the blandly arrogant Dolph Ziggler and the catty duo of Layla Ali and Michelle McCool in a mixed-gender tag team match. Somehow Eddie Guerrero’s widow Vickie Guerrero is involved, but I am so depressed by how the WWE uses her that I skip over every segment she’s in.
WHO SHOULD WIN: John Morrison, Trish Stratus, and Snooki. Nobody will gain anything from this match, least of all the fans, so the faces going over is the only result that makes sense. Although whoever decided to make Snooki a face severely misses the point of how she became famous.
WHO WILL WIN: Morrison, Stratus, and Snooki. Snooki wouldn’t leave the Shore if she wasn’t made to look good.
More wrestling coverage at clatl.com/wrestling
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