Sunday, December 30, 2012
Ideal WrestleMania 29 card
By Rick Morris
As always, these picks are within the realm of what is politically possible in the company. For example, if reports are to be believed, the Lesnar-HHH rematch from SummerSlam is happening regardless of whether anyone truly wants to see it or not, so we’ve got a decent scenario laid out here about how to get there. Despite that, the title unification called for in the first match goes against 11 years of company policy, but with the ongoing “soft merger” between the Raw and Smackdown brands and the hopefully-growing realization that matches other than a “brand world championship contest” can headline house shows, we’re going to swing for the fences on that one.
THE ROCK (WWE CHAMPION) VS. JOHN CENA (WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION) – UNIFICATION MATCH
How we get there: The first part is fairly straightforward as The Rock defeats CM Punk for the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble. In the second part, John Cena wins the Royal Rumble, but comes out on Raw the next night and announces that he is challenging The Rock at WrestleMania, but that he would like Booker T to enter him into the Elimination Chamber match for the World Title at the February PPV. Cena’s reasoning is that Champion Vs. Champion is the only way to top the “Once in a Lifetime” billing of WrestleMania 28. Booker T agrees and Cena takes the championship from Dolph Ziggler in the chamber, setting up the unification match where Cena gets his win back one year later.
CM PUNK VS. THE UNDERTAKER
Feeding Punk to Undertaker after his incredible 2012 push may seem counterproductive, but it’s generally accepted by fans that ‘Taker at WrestleMania is “unbeatable by anyone.” Punk should get the overwhelming majority of offense in the match, however, to come out as strong as he can and to hopefully get “the rub” going forward.
HHH VS. BROCK LESNAR
The previous match would be keyed by Punk, locked out of the ‘Mania main event, calling out Undertaker as the ultimate means of gaining respect. On the Raw after the Elimination Chamber PPV, as Undertaker responds to Punk’s challenge at the end of the show, he would be jumped not only by Punk, but by Lesnar coming out of the crowd. HHH would come down to make the save for his fellow legend with his sledgehammer, setting up the SummerSlam rematch that he would (inevitably) win.
DOLPH ZIGGLER VS. SHEAMUS VS. RANDY ORTON VS. ALBERTO DEL RIO VS. THE MIZ VS. WADE BARRETT (INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION) VS. DAMIEN SANDOW VS. CODY RHODES – MONEY IN THE BANK MATCH
In the return of the MITB match to ‘Mania, the focus of the storyline would be that the match would be the first of its kind to offer a shot at the new Unified World Title. Rumor has it that Barrett was to have won the match at ‘Mania 28 before his injury, so it makes sense to give him the turbo-push starting here. Also, this match would be in the midst of a Sheamus-Orton feud, with Sheamus having re-captured the World Title at Royal Rumble with a jealous Orton coming out to give him the RKO after the match and turning heel, setting him up for the Ziggler cash-in.
REY MYSTERIO VS. SIN CARA
Again, this match was rumored for ‘Mania 28 before Rey-Rey’s injury rehab was pushed back further. Assuming that the company not irreversibly down on Cara at this point, it makes sense for him to get the win in something of a “passing of the torch match,” which under ideal circumstances could allow Rey to slide into the kind of special attraction role that would certainly prolong his career.
RYBACK VS. BIG SHOW – LUMBERJACK MATCH
Hindsight is 20-20, but even at the time, it seemed as though WWE was booking itself into a corner by hot-shotting Ryback into the main event against Punk in the injury-caused absence of Cena. Of course, Cena would have looked even weaker by coming up short against Punk at Hell in a Cell, but such are the breaks when you have determined that Punk cannot drop the title until January. Ryback needs some renewed luster and who better to provide it than Big Show, who has been fairly well-protected since turning heel midway through 2012? The visual of Ryback delivering the Shell Shocked finisher would be one of the defining moments of this show and these two could provide one of the greatest Big Man Vs. Big Man Slobberknockers in WrestleMania history. The sight of the lumberjacks trying to handle these behemoths when they fall out of the ring would be entertaining as well and it’s a way to get everyone on the roster a ‘Mania payday without watering down the match quality.
TEAM HELL NO (WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS) VS. THE SHIELD
The Shield would win the first-ever tag team Elimination Chamber match at the February PPV to become #1 contenders and would not be required to name the specific challengers until the day of the show (for workrate purposes, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins would be the challengers, but with “Freebird rules” allowing any Shield members to defend the belts subsequently). The Bryan-Kane storyline and chemistry, one of the big successes of the company in 2012, is going so well that the tag team title reign should continue until ‘Mania. The Shield’s win should cause Kane to turn heel on Bryan, officially triggering the mega-face run for Bryan that could place him in the next year’s main event. Meanwhile, the Shield would certainly be hot enough to main event some house shows, keeping the tag team titles at the level of esteem where Bryan and Kane have placed them.
ANTONIO CESARO (US CHAMPION) VS. JACK SWAGGER
The pre-‘Mania period would be a good time for Swagger to re-emerge, this time as a face playing up his American pride against Cesaro. Swagger should get his win at a later PPV, maybe even the next one, but Cesaro needs and deserves the win at WrestleMania to continue to cement him as an upper-card heel and future franchise player.
EVE (DIVAS CHAMPION) VS. NATALYA
These two haven’t crossed paths to any significant degree, so it’s a match as fresh as any for WrestleMania and you can always involve the Hart family if you’re looking for some extra gusto. Honestly, there aren’t any potentially huge matches among the current crew of Divas and at least Eve is a credible heel champion, so she should retain here. Natalya’s the best Diva worker on the roster and Eve is above-average by the company’s low standards, so the match has the chance to exceed the bar of women’s matches at ‘Mania. Which says very little.