By Jeff Lutz
1. Team Rhodes Scholars and the Bella Twins vs. Tons of Funk and the Funkadactyls.
The case for Team Rhodes Scholars and the Bellas: Brodus Clay and Sweet T are a fun house-show act, but long-term plans for them are probably not as extensive for them as they are for Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow, either as a team or individually.
The case for Tons of Funk and the Funkadactyls: WrestleMania is the ultimate house show in some ways, with babyfaces often going over in second-tier matches. WWE may opt to push the reset button with Rhodes and Sandow and begin to rebuild them post-‘Mania.
Prediction: Tons of Funk and the Funkadactyls.
2. Wade Barrett vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship.
The case for Wade Barrett: Barrett appeared in a theatrical release while Miz’s movie was straight to DVD. Does that matter? Secondary championships have become meaningless in WWE, so a title change here would likely be met with little interest. A Barrett win would allow the feud to continue.
The case for The Miz: Even though his act still hasn’t evolved from his days as a heel, Miz is gaining a somewhat higher profile with some wins on TV. If WWE opts to make the IC title more meaningful, Miz could carry the division by producing strong work-rate matches.
Prediction: Wade Barrett retains the Intercontinental Title.
3. Fandango vs. Chris Jericho.
The case for Fandango: Jericho has become the Mick Foley of this era, using his name-brand value to offer character-establishing or character-building victories to up-and-coming stars. Vince McMahon seems to have big plans for Johnny Curtis and the Fandango character.
The case for Chris Jericho: WWE may decide that Fandango isn’t quite ready for a major push, and with Jericho likely sticking around beyond WrestleMania, he may be vaulted into a higher position on the card, especially if John Cena turns heel.
4. Mark Henry vs. Ryback.
The case for Mark Henry: The most impressive big man, especially in terms of microphone work _ over the last 18 months, a major win would help push Henry back to the level he reached before a lengthy injury.
The case for Ryback: It’s basically now-or-never for Ryback, who has been in his share of high-profile matches during the last six months but lost most of them and seen his popularity dwindle with each defeat. WWE may be grooming Ryback to be its top babyface in the near future, and another loss would derail any such plans.
5. Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston vs. Team Hell No for the WWE Tag Team Championship.
The case for Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston: It’s unprecedented that a performer makes his worldwide television in-ring debut at WrestleMania, but WWE is making fans believe that Langston will be a major player for years to come. Ziggler could be the next World Heavyweight Champion and is finally gaining momentum after a long losing streak.
The case for Team Hell No: Most tag teams are heels, so if Ziggler and Langston won there would be few teams to defend the titles against. Kane and Daniel Bryan have finally turned the page from their stretch of bad comedy, and a Ziggler loss here would be overshadowed by what happens in a later prediction.
Prediction: Team Hell No retain the WWE Tag Titles.
6. The Shield vs. Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show.
The case for The Shield: Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns are undefeated in limited appearances since they debuted late last year. Dissension among their opponents, which includes rumors of a Randy Orton heel turn, likely sets the stage for another win by The Shield. But where does the group go from here?
The case for Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show: If Cena is turning heel, a turn for Orton will likely be pushed back to when it can make a major impact. The Shield could also get revenge for a loss at a later date or split up for a series of matches between the individual members of these teams.
Prediction: The Shield win.
7. Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship.
The case for Jack Swagger: Since he returned and added Zeb Coulter to the act, Swagger has received a major push that can seemingly only end with him winning the World Heavyweight Championship. Swagger has lost a lot of momentum lately, and the mainstream attention his and Coulter’s controversial characters were receiving has evaporated, but maybe WWE will continue to push the envelope with Swagger in a more visible position as champion.
The case for Alberto Del Rio: The sooner this feud ends, the better. It has done nothing for either performer, and Del Rio needs to move onto another program. He hasn’t found his voice as a babyface, but he should get the opportunity to do so against a more capable opponent.
Prediction: Jack Swagger wins the World Hvt. Championship, but...
The case for Dolph Ziggler: Even though Ziggler is part of a recently formed heel trio, he’s still getting cheers as one of the most entertaining performers in WWE. A Money in the Bank cash-in won’t resonate elsewhere like it would at ‘Mania, and fans in the NYC area would love it, since wiser crowds tend to favor heels.
Prediction: Dolph Ziggler cashes in on Swagger and begins his run as a babyface World Heavyweight Champion.
8. Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H in a No Holds Barred match with Triple H’s career on the line.
The case for Brock Lesnar: With a long-term contract in tow, Lesnar will be relied upon to help carry buyrates for several pay-per-view events over the next two years. Triple H’s appearances aren’t that much more frequent, but he isn’t the draw that Lesnar is at this stage of his career. Triple H, I believe, wants a retirement moment that buddies Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels enjoyed at past WrestleManias.
The case for Triple H: As the new face of the corporate side of the company, Triple H isn’t going away for a long time. He’ll be needed for sporadic matches in the future and will probably never truly retire.
Prediction: Lesnar wins, Triple H retires.
9. C.M. Punk vs. The Undertaker.
The case for C.M. Punk: Well, maybe Undertaker gets paralyzed on a botched spot and can’t kick out.
The case for The Undertaker: The Streak. Enough said. It’s not ending here.
Prediction: The Undertaker extends The Streak.
10. John Cena vs. The Rock for the WWE Championship.
The case for John Cena: Redemption. Cena had such an awful 2012 (He lost some matches! Oh, and he got divorced, too.) that the only way to wipe that away is to win a rematch of a Once in a Lifetime match and set up a Thrice in a Lifetime match at a later date. The Rock, by the way, won’t be around much longer due to his movie schedule.
The case for The Rock: If he’s around for Extreme Rules, maybe Rock gets a win here and doesn’t lose the title for another month. But that would be pointless – if Cena is the next WWE Champion, that needs to happen on the grandest stage.
Prediction: John Cena wins the WWE Championship.
***Jeff Lutz has written for the Wichita Eagle newspaper in Kansas for over a decade and debuted with Prowrestling.net on November 4, 2012. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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