The WWE’s road to WrestleMania officially (and usually) starts at the Royal Rumble event in January every year, but this year’s event was merely another date on the company’s grueling calender. Normally, the Super Bowl of wrestling is loaded with feuds and story lines that culminate at ‘Mania before a reset button is hit and fresh rivalries start on the Raw after ‘Mania. But this year, however, there is a sense of inevitability about the biggest wrestling show on the year despite long term feuds that should have us salivating. A feeling that no matter what the buildup might be, we’re headed for predictable finishes in three of ‘Mania’s top four matches. Put it this way, John Cena pulling off a Hurricanrana on CM Punk in the #1 contender match a few weeks ago on Raw was more shocking than anything we’re going to see at MetLife on April 7th.
WrestleMania week is always a meeting place for every die hard old school wrestling fan. It’s the time of year where internet fans can gather and bitch about the company together, get autographs from seemingly every legend that still loves to be in the spotlight one last time and see indie shows that only certain professional wrestling lifers make sure they attend. To the WWE, it doesn’t matter who wins on the big stage of ‘Mania, its all about garnering attention, attracting tons of TV cameras, mainstream media, celebrities and virtually everyone else to talk about their product. In the immortal words of Carlos Boozer… That’s all that matters, yo.
This is the time of year for the McMahon’s to remind the world that they run the wrestling business, and we’re all lowly subjects that can’t get enough even if we loathe the results. But there’s something to be said for knowing the results of the matches a few weeks (or months) before the event takes place.
Barring any last minute changes, Cena will defeat The Rock for the WWE Championship, Triple H will get his revenge on Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker will defeat CM Punk and run his ‘Mania winning streak to 21-0. That’s what’s going to happen because that’s what’s supposed to happen. At least, that’s what the WWE wants us to believe. There should be intrigue and a genuine feeling of “I have no idea who is winning this match” when it comes to the top matches on the card, not a sense of formality like an 80′s Hogan main event.
But these matches (in addition to being insanely unsurprising) are ones fans have seen coming since the summer. Ever since Lesnar “broke Triple H’s arm” for a second time at SummerSlam, we’ve been waiting on Trips to ditch the suit and corporate look for the jeans that too tight look to exact his revenge on Lesnar. The fact that they wrestled once and Lesnar left Triple H a broken man (or so we’re supposed to think), it’s a given that Stephanie’s husband will get his revenge and get the win. With both guys only wrestling on a limited basis, it makes it even more obvious who is walking out with a win.
Everyone knows The Rock will be leaving the company again to film his next movie, so the rematch of “Once In A Lifetime” might be the easiest main event match to call in ‘Mania history. Yeah, it’s possible the WWE throws fans off and puts off The Rock losing the title until April’s Extreme Rules (The Rock was originally scheduled to appear… The he wasn’t… Now he might be performing), but the fact that they’ve been pimping just how bad Cena’s 2012 was after losing to Rocky at last year’s ‘Mania tells us all we need to know. Rock winning again would be like Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson. You shouldn’t even be able to bet this match if you wanted to.
Some Cena haters might be able to stomach seeing Mr. Jorts walk out of MetLife with The Rock’s new custom belt only because it would set up Rock-Cena III at ‘Mania XXX in New Orleans next year, but I’m not one of those people. The WWE needs another Cena title run like they need a celebrity match to fill the card.
Ideally, Cena would lose again and finally turn heel, but we know that’s a lost cause. Seeing Cena turn heel would top when Stone Cold Steve Austin shocked the wrestling world at WrestleMania 17 and joined forces with Mr. McMahon. That move set up compelling television for the next several months, but that’s a waste of time to talk about. Cena has to win so the WWE can again remind us that he’s the poster boy and equal to The Rock on both a wrestling and entertainment level.
There’s not much to get into with The Undertaker and CM Punk because this “rivalry” was hastily thrown together when it became obvious that Taker was working this year’s ‘Mania. Punk stealing Paul Bearer’s urn last week on Raw, hitting Kane in the head with it and proceeding to taunt Taker was a great start, but can they build legitimate momentum for this match with so little time before the show?
You’d like to think so because Punk was the only worthy star to challenge “the streak.” But again, 21-0 seems inevitable. Most, if not all old school fans want the streak to end before Taker retires, but it’s impossible to envision Vince letting that happen no matter what Taker’s preference is. And if ever there was a time for the streak to end, it’s this year and this opponent.
Punk remains the most compelling character in the WWE (although Zeb Colter and The Shield are quickly gaining momentum) and a villain (even though most fans continue to chant his name) that could benefit from being the 1. The only time in recent years the streak has been in jeopardy, was the 2nd match with Shawn Michaels and Triple H. Much like Rock-Cena II, you figure the other guy has to win the rematch, but 21-0 is happening.
The only potential swerve on the card, is seeing Jack Swagger upsetting Alberto Del Rio to further push the “real American” story line. However, Swagger’s DUI arrest could pump the brakes on his push. If Swagger doesn’t win the world heavyweight title, the only other “shocker” could be seeing Dolph Ziggler finally cashing in his money in the bank contract to steal the belt from a beaten up Del Rio.
It really doesn’t matter what the die hard internet fans want to see at wrestling’s Super Bowl because the inevitable is what the WWE wants. Its their world remember, and we’re just there for the show. As entertaining as it would be to see Punk end the streak, Rock beat Cena again and Lesnar retiring Triple H, it’s just not happening. Instead, we’ll be left to root for The Shield and be reminded that in the John Cena era…predictability & boredom reign supreme. That’s the John Cena legacy. And that’s your next WWE Champion.