This Sunday, WWE presents Wrestlemania XXVIII from Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida. The annual Pay-per-view event has transcended professional wrestling to become more than just another show, as cities now push to host Wrestlemania, realizing the tourism dollars a stadium full of fans will bring into their area. However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the matches, and following up on yesterday’s column, here is a look at the other half of the card WWE has on tap for us on April 1st.
The Rock vs. John Cena. WWE made a pretty gutsy move in announcing the main event of Wrestlemania a full year in advance. You had to wonder how WWE was going to stoke the flames of this feud with a part-time Rock and a full-time Cena. Well, the answer ended up being pretty simple. Put Cena in a lot of mostly meaningless feuds (did anyone really think the Kane storyline was quality television?) while having Rock show up every so often for a trading of insults, with the occasional Rock Bottom sprinkled in. A year later, nothing has really changed between the two. Cena still rips on Rock for not “being around” for WWE fans, while Rock informs us that he doesn’t like Cena and comes up with another Twitter-worthy nickname for him. Rock did mention during their final Raw confrontation that beating Cena would make Rock the only man to defeat Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin and Cena at Wrestlemania, which is true… but does anyone really care about that? Regardless of the build, the match will have Sun Life Stadium exploding. The Rock knows how to get a crowd to react. Cena is a hard worker under any circumstances, and is sure to turn it up a notch here. Some feel Cena will have won over enough of the crowd to get a more mixed reaction with is recent mic work, but, I’m not sure I see it that way. Miami is Rock’s hometown and a 90-10 split or 85-15 isn’t going to make a big difference overall. Who wins? Well, that all depends on what the plan is going forward. Will there be a rematch? Will this somehow set up Rock’s Wrestlemania match next year (which we already know will happen)? I’m going to go with Rock winning in his backyard, but with the booking set up for Cena to earn a lot of respect.
The Undertaker vs. Triple H, Hell In A Cell with Shawn Michaels as the referee. The Undertaker looks to take his Wrestlemania streak to 20-0 by making it four straight over D-Generation X members. After two incredible wins over Shawn Michaels, the Deadman defeated Triple H at last year’s event and has not wrestled a match since. Triple H has only been slightly more active, and you would expect ring rust might be a concern, even for these two veterans. However, they will be competing in Hell In A Cell, a match that has become a trademark for both men. If that wasn’t enough, they have made Shawn Michaels the special referee to add another dramatic element to the bout. While I can certainly appreciate the appeal of making this a Cell bout, I am a bit disappointed they went with the special referee gimmick. It all but guarantees that the main story of the match will be “Is Shawn Michaels favoring one man over the other? Is he calling it right down the middle” instead of the focus being solely on two of the WWE’s most celebrated performers going at it on the company’s biggest stage. As for the result, well, can you really see WWE ending the streak with a screwjob? Me neither. Undertaker chalks up another win, and perhaps the “End Of An Era” will actually mean the end of DX wrestling at the biggest show of the year.
Randy Orton vs. Kane. You get the feeling WWE just didn’t know what to do with Randy Orton this year. He suffered that concussion in February, and from that point on WWE seemed intent on going with Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania for the World Title, leaving Orton without a storyline for the big event. With Wade Barrett and Alberto Del Rio on the shelf with various injuries, the pool of potential opponents got even more shallow, so he ends up with Kane, who despite his re-masking, hasn’t caught fire (yeah, bad pun) the way some were probably hoping. I imagine this will be a solid match, with Orton chalking up an RKO win the to the delight of the crowd, then turning his attention to something else (like maybe a return to Raw).
Team Teddy (Santino Marella, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Zack Ryder, Great Khali & Booker T) vs. Team Johnny (David Otunga, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, The Miz and Drew McIntyre). Call it the “Give these guys a Wrestlemania payday” match, as two teams battle it out to allow either Teddy Long or John Laurinaitis full control over Raw and Smackdown. Toss in Hornswoggle and Vickie Guerrero at ringside, and you’re basically looking at a comedy cluster with a few big spots mixed in. There’s a lot of quality talent here, but it is doubtful any will get a chance to standout in this environment. At least these guys get on the show, which is more than we can say for Christian, who was taken off Team Johnny after CM Punk obliterated him on Raw, and has now been replaced with Drew McIntyre. To me, the real story of this match is the fact that The Miz has gone from the top of the lineup to this.
The freefall the Miz’ career has taken since last year’s Wrestlemania is no secret to anyone, including the Miz and WWE. They even poked fun at it, comparing it to King Kong Bundy, who went from the main event of Wrestlemania II to competing in a gimmick match with midgets at Wrestlemania III. However, the difference is that Bundy lost his match at Wrestlemania II. Miz actually won his main event, although it was probably the weakest “victory” in the history of Wrestlemania main events, as it was the Rock who actually took down John Cena. Miz was a bit player in what should have been the biggest match of his career. Since then, he has been a punching bag for the top stars on Raw, and now finds himself in a tag match where he will share screen time with the likes of Great Khali, Hornswoggle and a host of midcarders who WWE seems content to never break through the “glass ceiling” above them.
A winner? Give it to Team Teddy, just because I want to see Santino try a spinarooni with Booker T.
LIVE AND LOCAL– Upcoming live wrestling events in Florida.
April 14 – Minneola Recreation Center – Minneola
Florida Championship Wrestling
April 6 – Charlotte Harbor Event Center – Punta Gorda
April 13 – Crystal River Armory – Crystal River
April 21 – Starke Armory – Starke
New Florida Wrestling
March 31 – S. Combee Rd. – Lakeland
I Believe In Wrestling
April 7 – Team Vision Dojo – Orlando
TNA Impact Wrestling
April 2 – Universal Studios – Orlando
April 3 – Universal Studios – Orlando
April 1 – Sun Life Stadium – Miami (Wrestlemania)
April 2 – American Airlines Arena – Miami (Raw)
April 3 – Amway Center – Orlando (Smackdown)
Know a company running shows in Florida not listed here? Send their website address to firstname.lastname@example.org.