Saturday, April 3, 2010

'Mania 27 card we would like to see

By Rick Morris

My mediocre WrestleMania 26 predictions notwithstanding, I'm ready to take a stab at laying out next year's event (thanks again, BTW, to WFAN's Evan Roberts for his awesome recap of last Sunday's big show).

First, a few basic parameters for the next year in terms of how I would use the draft:

^ I would move Randy Orton to Smackdown rather than clogging up the main event babyface picture on Raw.

^ I would move MVP and Mark Henry to Smackdown, using MVP as more of an occasionally-wrestling "super-agent" character with Henry as his bodyguard. Such an "Arli$$" persona could be used to represent disparate main-event heels who would otherwise never cooperate on a regular basis (i.e. Jack Swagger, Chris Jericho and Edge if/when he turns back).

^ I would move John Morrison to Raw with the setup that he will eventually be the man to take the US Title off of The Miz. Morrison is an underutilized player with big upside which the company should be looking to tap sooner rather than later.

^ I would move Christian to Smackdown to pair back up with Edge eventually and Evan Bourne over to team up with Rey Mysterio in an "ultimate high-flyer" combo that would give Bourne an excellent "rub" for the future.

Now, here's the card I would like to see, 12 months out from the big night in the Georgia Dome:

^ World Title Match: CM Punk (Champion) vs. HHH. While cross-brand world title matches are not ideal in the sense of maintaining storyline continuity about the belts that the wrestlers are chasing during the year, they can help ensure fresh matchups. Punk as the sneering champion trying to make his bones by taking down one of the company's biggest remaining legends would be gold.

^ WWE Title Match: Batista (Champion) vs. Randy Orton. This too would be a cross-brand match, holding off on it throughout the course of the year instead of hot-shotting it by summer -- which would be inevitable if they stayed on the same brand. Much as Orton/HHH II seemed fresh when it first began (before it was beaten into the ground) because significant time had passed since Orton and HHH both turned again, we need another year for this match to really resonate notwithstanding each's successful (so far) and recent turns.

^ Undertaker vs. John Cena. OK, I've been calling for this match for the past few years, and maybe it makes more sense for 'Taker's shot at 20-0, but at this point it can't be assumed that the Dead Man has that many years left to finish the checklist of dream opponents. The heat would be at obscene levels if Cena won, as he should -- and the "rub" would be the greatest in history.

^ Sheamus vs. Goldberg. Rumors abound that Goldberg will be back in a wrestling capacity with the company, with the obvious details to be solved surrounding his willingness to "give back" in terms of jobbing. The best scenario would be for Goldberg to get a strong push when he comes back -- maybe even a WWE Title run -- and make his eventual put-overs all the more impactful. If Sheamus is to be one of the key players in the company going forward, and he is going to be one of the defining big men of the next decade if he stays healthy, he would be the obvious recipient of this J-O-B on the big P-P-V. This match would fill the non-title, non-'Taker "big match wild card" function of the show that we have seen on the program in the last decade (such as any of the Mr. McMahon matches, Angle-Michaels I, Rock-Austin III, the Flair retirement match, or, ironically, the Goldberg-Lesnar fiasco).

^ Unified World Tag Team Title Match: Edge & Christian (Champions) vs. Hart Dynasty vs. Legacy vs. Rey Mysterio & Evan Bourne. I was dubious about the company's decision to merge the tag belts from the different brands, but I was wrong, because they have come to mean a great amount -- less meaningful than the world titles, but certainly much, much more than the secondary singles titles. This could be one of the greatest tag team matches in 'Mania history, matching up strong elements of the past, present and future with workers ranging from well-above-average to great. This would be a great place to put the belts back on the Harts (as presumably they will carry them at some point in '10) or maybe on Dynasty for the first time.

^ United States Title Match: John Morrison (Champion) vs. The Big Show. Having survived inexplicable early jobbing in the WWE (well, it was the WWF then), Show has actually gone on to become one of the company's most versatile players. Like his former tag team partner Chris Jericho, he can move back and forth between the midcard and main event and work well in both. Like Kane, he's a great "main event gatekeeper" in that wins over him carry great impact (witness John Cena's WrestleMania 20 US Title win over Show at MSG). Here, a win by Morrison would go a long way towards establishing him as a main event player.

^ Diva’s Match. It's impossible to forecast who will be on the roster from one year to the next and these matches never draw money (because they're not in a position to do so, not because all of the women are stinko workers), so it's not worth seeking a specific match.

^ Money in the Bank: Shad Gaspard vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Ezekiel Jackson vs. Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Yoshi Tatsu vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Mystery Opponent. This match provides the opportunity to put the final touches on the main-event elevation of The Miz -- and hopefully, the company will not blow that by hot-shotting him in the next year inasmuch as he has unfinished business with many fellow mid-carders. Rather than including ten wrestlers like 'Mania 26 featured, I would limit it to eight -- with one "Mystery Opponent" spot reserved for the winner of a battle royal to be held at WrestleMania Axxess. Highlights of that battle royal would precede the big ladder match.

^ Jack Swagger vs. Kane. There's not an endless supply of "big match" slots on the show, so a win for Swagger here would have much the same purpose as the wins for "main event holding pattern" stars HHH and Randy Orton did last Sunday.

^ Chris Jericho vs. Matt Hardy. Again, with prime matches having been filled in by other wrestlers, you know you can structure a good program and an excellent match with these two. That's the blessing and the curse of having the versatility to work anywhere on the card.

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