Monday, April 21, 2008

WrestleMania 25 -- book it this way!

By Rick Morris

Twice in the leadup to WrestleMania 24
, I put in my two cents about how best to book the year's biggest 'rasslin card. I have long believed that the best way to set up this card, especially since it essentially marks the end of one year of setup and the beginning of the next, is to set it far in advance and back up from there in terms of the year's entire booking. Having said that, here's my early recommendation of how to book what will surely be one of the biggest cards of all time in Houston's Reliant Stadium next April:

^ WWE Championship match: John Cena vs. The Undertaker. The streak ends here. You wanna hear crowd heat? Picture Cena beating Taker cleanly in his hometown in the biggest event of the year! I think that the WWE should have had UT end his streak at 14-0 against Batista in '07 or at 15-0 against Edge this year, but I'm convinced that the company should have him lose to Cena next year if they are serious about promoting him as the company's cornerstone (stopping the neutering of Cena's character would be a nice move also, but you can't have everything!). I can't get behind the Mark Markerson sentiments of those such as my colleague Paul Belfi who think that Undertaker should never lose at WrestleMania. For a promotion that cares first and foremost about perpetuating future success, equity is built up to be spent eventually and the priceless value of Taker's streak has to be transferred sometime and somewhere. Houston in '09 is the time and the place.

^ World Championship match: Edge vs. C.M. Punk. I'm in favor of Punk getting another run atop ECW, then moving on to new horizons when he drops the title again. A Mania match against Edge should be fantastic and should really help put him on the map. While I would pull the trigger on a Punk World Title run, I think that should be held off for a few more months as Edge has yet to have the heel World Title wins that have only ever been bestowed on HHH and (undeservedly) on Randy Orton. He needs his moment and should get it next year.

^ ECW Championship match: MVP vs. The Big Show. When MVP moves on from the U.S. Title scene later this year, he should be the man to take the ECW Title from Punk when it gets transitioned back to him. Then, at WrestleMania, the WWE can work out a deal to bring back Floyd Mayweather in a "special adviser" role for MVP as the "man who knows how to beat The Big Show." With the similarities of "Money May" and the MVP character, the heat for this angle could be insane. I'd keep the belt on MVP, with Show dishing out post-match chokeslams to both of his adversaries.

^ Texas Beer Hall Brawl: JBL vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. We keep hearing rumors that Austin "may have one match left in him." Supposedly, these two Texans wouldn't mind working a match together -- remember the tease for it on Saturday Night's Main Event back in 2006. Mania in Houston would be the perfect atmosphere for the kind of no-DQ brawl that could perfectly camouflage the kind of limitations that would have to be built into a match given the state of Austin's neck. With Austin having a variety of weapons at his disposal, he could get the feel-good win that would energize the crowd without doing any damage to JBL's main-event viability.

^ Legend of Legends Match: HHH vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Batista vs. Randy Orton vs. Kane. This match would be contested for a "WrestleMania Legend of Legends" trophy by competitors who had won a main event match at one of the previous Mania shows (main event for these purposes to include the title match for any of the brands in the post-'02 era, which would include Orton and Kane). This would be a good place to give HHH some credibility back as a main-event player as he continues down the back nine of his career.

^ BunnyMania Match: The Glamazon & Nattie Neidhart vs. Cherry & Candace Michelle. Frankly, the contestants in such a match don't matter. Utilize the "Lumberjill" format again to cram all the Divas into one segment and get them out of the way, have the heels win and provide some comedy to lighten up the show a bit. In other words, pretty much do what they did this year.

^ Money In the Bank 30-man battle royal. Because the multi-man format is being used for the "Legends" match this year, substitute the battle royal for the "Money In the Bank" designation. It also keeps the match a bit more fresh and gives the wrestlers a one-year respite from trying to top the previous spectacle (and it might be futile to try to top the one from this year). I'd have Vladimir Kozlov as the winner and use this as the embryonic stage of a main-event push.

^ WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Miz & Morrison vs. The Hardys. WrestleMania should have some fun nostalgia moments, especially the 25th edition, and seeing the Hardys in there against a team that could be regarded as one of the most entertaining in a long time by then -- wow, that could be excellent. Give the Hardys the win and watch the roof get blown off.

^ United States Championship Match: Chris Jericho vs. Rey Misterio. I'd like to see Jericho get moved to Smackdown and have some time with that program's secondary title also (well, actually, if I had my druthers he'd be booked as a main event face, but I'm trying to deal in the realm of the most they will get out of somebody). He could have some nice matches and some good entertainment in a Misterio feud and as with the Hardys, he'd pop the heck out of the crowd with a title win.

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