Kester's WrestleMania 28 Preview and Predictions: John Cena vs. The Rock, Undertaker vs. Triple H, CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus, and more
By Ryan Kester
The following predictions are made with no inside knowledge or clairvoyance as to what the finishes will be. They are predictions made based on what WWE has done and what I think they will do.
John Cena vs. The Rock: For how long WWE had to work with you hype this match, I expected to be more excited about this match than I am. This has nothing to do with my views on Cena or Rock, it has everything to do with my belief that the build simply didn’t live up to the "once in a lifetime" moniker. They did their best to make up for lost time on the go-home Raw, but for this viewer that hype came far too late.
I think what will happens after this match will have more ramifications than the actual finish of this match. With the build that CM Punk has received as a legitimate babyface, WWE has an opportunity to turn Cena and have a top babyface to fall back on. The trouble is, WWE has waited so long that a turn at this point would effectively swap the sides of the audience that boo or cheer him. Still, the idea of having Rock pin Cena only for Cena turn afterwards or Cena cheating to win such a hyped match would make for one hell of a WrestleMania moment. If ever there was a moment tailor-made for a Cena heel turn, this Sunday would be that moment.
However, I think the chances of that happening are so slim that it's almost depressing. John Cena is great for WWE because he is a reliable workhorse that appeals to WWE's current target demographic. While he certainly doesn’t make for the most dynamic or entertaining figure for regular viewers, I can understand WWE's hesitancy to pull the trigger on a turn. I am expecting to see Cena pin the Rock at WrestleMania. For WWE's sake, I hope they have something more solid planned than a handshake between these two to close the show, as I cannot think of anything that would produce a bigger collective groan from the live audience and fans that are already disenfranchised with Cena's current character.
Prediction: John Cena pins The Rock.
Undertaker vs. Triple H in a Hell in a Cell Match with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee: I'm not one of those that believe The Streak is something that should never be ended, but I cannot imagine that WWE will waste the end of The Streak on another part-time wrestler, especially when it can be used to sell future WrestleMania shows as long as it remains intact.
That's not to disparage the work that Undertaker, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels have put into planting seeds of doubt. The storytelling and build for this match has been about as solid as possible, and this is easily one of the matches I am looking forward to the most at 'Mania. I am looking forward to the story this match will tell, and I am curious to see how the pioneers of the Hell in a Cell match will get the structure over after it has been watered down in the previous years.
I still see money in The Streak and I have not gotten the impression that Undertaker is close to retiring for good. He is in a great spot with being used as a WrestleMania attraction, and I expect to see that continue. For that to happen, he must go over on Sunday.
Prediction: Undertaker pins Triple H and The Streak extends to 20-0.
CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho for the WWE Championship: Jericho and Punk have really settled into a groove over the past few weeks that has done a great job of establishing both of their current characters. Jericho has done an excellent job of coming off as a sleazy jackass, and Punk has felt like a true babyface for the first time since his turn.
My prediction for this match may have more to do with my personal desire than anything WWE has presented us with, but I am expecting to see Jericho go over at 'Mania. This feud has been a great thing for both men, and Punk's more inspirational character is practically begging for him to be in chase mode rather than carrying the championship. I want to see this feud continue for Punk's long-term development as a top star.
Prediction: Chris Jericho pins CM Punk after using some dirty tactic to become the new WWE Champion.
Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship: While I am looking forward to this match, the build for it was lackluster. Sheamus hasn't evolved in the slightest since winning the Royal Rumble, and the prospect of him headlining Smackdown with his current character is uninspiring.
Based on the booking since the Royal Rumble, I believe Daniel Bryan will be going over Sheamus at WrestleMania. Sheamus has been booked strong, but Bryan has received the most creative focus. I get the impression that creative still has a story to tell with Bryan having the World Heavyweight Championship around his waist, and I expect that will continue after WrestleMania. Sheamus will likely end up taking the belt from Bryan in the coming months, but with how little attention and direction he has been given since the Rumble, I feel like we will join the list of the recent Rumble winners that went on to lose at WrestleMania.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan retains the World Heavyweight Championship.
Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show for the Intercontinental Championship: The presentation of this feud has been hit or miss, but one thing has remained constant; almost no attention has been given to the Intercontinental Championship. The match has been booked around Show's chance to finally get his hands on Rhodes, but I highly doubt that the title will be changing hands with such little focus being given to the belts.
I expect to see Rhodes continue to be a pest during this match until Show finally snaps and just mauls him, leading to a disqualification finish in favor of Rhodes. Show gets the payoff of tearing into Rhodes, Rhodes keeps his title, and Rhodes gets to sing the tune that he technically defeated Big Show. It's certainly not the strongest storyline possibility, but it's the one I expect to see WWE go with.
Prediction: Cody Rhodes wins by DQ.
Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny: WWE has done its damnedest t make this year's "get everyone on the card" match feel important, but it's difficult to muster up much enthusiasm over wrestling's latest power struggle. WWE brand comedy has been all over the build for this match, so I expect this to be more of a spectacle than an actual serious match.
That's all well and good, by the way. McMahon certainly likes to give a variety of tones and elements to every WrestleMania, and I fully expect this match will be the comedic relief of the evening. It may very well be a lot of fun and feature some cool spots, but ultimately, there simply isn't much to analyze given WWE's approach to booking this match.
Previously, I would have predicted Johnny's team going over simply to give Teddy a way out from the travel schedule. However, I get the sense from the way this match has been booked that Laurinaitis will still be around even in defeat thanks to his often-referenced role as the Executive VP of Talent Relations. Unless Long has suddenly decided to retire, his team going over is the best way to keep both characters on television.
Prediction: Team Teddy wins and Teddy Long gains control of both shows.
Randy Orton vs. Kane: What a strange feud. The story for this match has been ancillary at best, and this pairing feels so incredibly forced. This is another match that I expect will be relatively solid from a work rate standpoint, but it holds very little of my interest.
In the Dot Net Awards this year, I praised Randy Orton for the way he's done good business over the past years and given rub to several superstars. If I had my druthers, that is what both men would be doing at WrestleMania, allowing a younger star to get over simply by giving them a rub on the biggest stage WWE has at its disposal. Both men have proven that are capable of doing so without losing their heat in the process so this pairing not only makes little sense, but it feels like a wasted opportunity.
When it comes down to it, Orton is the more likely to go over. Kane was damaged considerably in his feud with Cena, Orton is the bigger name, and Kane has a history of putting more guys over. I'm not really sure what WWE is going to do with Kane after WrestleMania, but I would be shocked if he came out on top this Sunday.
Prediction: Randy Orton pins Kane.
Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix and Eve: I feel bad for the WWE women's division. For two WrestleManias in a row, they are given the designated celebrity guest match spot at WrestleMania. This year's spot is about as uninspiring as possible, and frankly, I can't even pretend to have any interest in seeing this match.
The one thing that impressed me during this build was the in-ring chemistry Eve and Phoenix displayed in some of their tag matches. They make for a fun pair, but ultimately this match does not have the showcase feel that previous celebrity tie-ins have had for the show. I'm expecting to see Kelly and Menounos go over, but I am also expecting a great deal of apathy from the live crowd.
Prediction: Kelley Kelly and Maria Menounos defeat Beth Phoenix and Eve.
If you have any questions or comments or just wish to chat with a fellow wrestling fan about whatever, then feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter at @TheRyanKester.
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