WrestleMania XXVI Preview

Posted by Grey Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Showcase of the Immortals. The Grandest Stage of Them All. The Grandaddy of Them All. It goes by many fancy name but make no mistake about it, WrestleMania XXVI is here.

The single most successful and longest-running professional wrestling event in the world, WrestleMania, the flagship event of WWE, is entering its 26th edition with the forthcoming WrestleMania XXVI, scheduled to be held at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on this Sunday, March 28th, 2010. According to the special "2010 WrestleMania Almanac" issue of WWE Magazine, the roof of the University of Phoenix Stadium will be open for the event, marking the third time in WrestleMania history after WrestleMania IX and XXIV that the event will be held in an open-air venue.

For those unfamiliar with the mechanism of professional wrestling and thereby unable to recognize the importance of this event, you can just take this like a 'Season Finale' to a long-running season of your favorite TV series. Speaking of long-running, every seasons (if you are looking at it this way) of WWE took a year, and that's just counting it short. In summary, every single plot developments this past year has been leading viewers down this path (hell they had a name for this path: Road to WrestleMania), for every feuds to culminate to the biggest event of the year.

What makes this year's WrestleMania particularly significant? (Other than the fact that it is the one true 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania. Apply logic.) Well, for one, the Road to WrestleMania has been particularly intriguing than the run-of-the-mill build-up you usually see, even by WrestleMania standards. Coupled with quality and creative match-ups, this year's Mania is potentially one of the best ones in years and if we're lucky enough, an all-time Top Three WrestleMania contender. A main contributing factor to the potential is the fact that the bookings have all the signature of a classic, wrestling writing. So much so that WWE is not bringing any half-baked celebrities to raise the profile of the event. If you still question the quality of the storylines, here's one to shut you off. It's so darn good that even Triple H is willing to step down a few notches to a mid-card match, just so that the top feuds stay where they are: Top.

While the placing of the matches in a WrestleMania have traditionally been puzzling for all wrestling fans, the position for this year's blockbuster match between company veterans, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, have been unprecedentedly so. Mainly, massive online debates over the importance of this match to be placed as the last Main Event despite the lack of the titles, are citing the stakes (namely, The Undertaker's undefeated streaks at WrestleMania, 17-0; and Shawn Michaels's show-stopping career) involved and the level of performers involved.

And what else do we have here? The "Closure Of The Greatest Screw-Job In Wrestling Business", with the unbelievably final showdown between "the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be" Bret Hart, and his ultimate nemesis, Vince McMahon, a closure for the classic chapter twelve years in the making, that spawned the character, Mr. McMahon. The "Clash Of The Canadians", with the much-anticipated return of Edge and his fulfilling the inevitable match-up with fellow Canadian, Chris Jerico. The battle of the WWE PG era icons, Batista versus John Cena. The classic build-up to a potential show stealer match-up between CM Punk and Rey Mysterio. Triple H's unexpected move to midcard match with his rumored gym buddy, Sheamus. The outrageously over-booked Money In The Bank featuring ten (!!!) excellent mid-carders waiting for their chance to burst into the main event scene. All signs of an excellent event. Even in the face of an annoying "PG-TV" era designed for Linda McMahon's senate ambition.

The Daily Zombie's WWE PPV Prediction for last month's Elimination Chamber was a stellar 3/4 with the exception for the RAW chamber where Cena triumphed but lost the title when Batista cash in McMahon's promise for being his lackey. Sounded familiar? Of course it does, because we predicted it last month. Just that we didn't think out of the box enough to know that The Animal's actually eyeing the RAW title. Nevertheless, let's see if our deadly kill-rate continues at the Granddaddy of them all.

One thing before we continue: Do bear in mind that we strongly suspect that many of the match-ups here will be rescheduled at the next Pay-Per-View, Extreme Rules in April, with the stipulation tuned up to the "Extreme". Much like last year's Backlash where Triple H dropped the belt back to Orton (due to stupid stipulation) and Cena losing his first title defence to Edge. And the fact that the draft lottery is scheduled to be the night after Extreme Rules, where they reshuffle the game.

And since the placement of the matches is a riddle by itself, we will list our prediction in an anti-chronological order, with what we thought should be the last main event being covered first and the first match-up covered at the last.

With that fact out of the way, let's get on to the game.

The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels

The Undertaker. Undefeated streak at WrestleMania with the score at 17-0.

Shawn Michaels. Mr. WrestleMania himself (a proven fact, it would seemed) with a career unsurpassed.

And all this culminated into a match-up for all time, with both invaluable prestige at stakes, both of the most experienced veteran of the current WWE engage on the biggest match of the year, of perhaps decades, or perhaps all time.

After mesmerizing fans with last year's Match Of The Year at last year's "25th Anniversary of WrestleMania", the idea of the rematch did not sit well with many wrestling fans (inclusive of yours truly), skeptical of its potential of outdoing last year's classic.

Ever wonder what can a correct booking and well-planned build-ups do? This match would be the perfect textbook example. Leading right from December's Slammy Award, where in his acceptance speech for the Match of the Year Award for his match with The Undertaker at last year's WrestleMania, Michaels issued the challenge to The Undertaker for a rematch. The whole plot move downward spiral for the Heartbreak Kid when The Undertaker rejected his challenge, causing HBK to determined himself to win the Royal Rumble in order to fact the then-World Heavyweight Champion. He failed to, even after eliminating his DX comrades, HHH, and a stellar performance. At Elimination Chamber, he snapped, sneaking into the chamber to deliver a Sweet Chin Music that ended the Deadman's longest champion reign. All this highlight were cleverly put into a nice video package, accompanied by the cool coverage of Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill by Placebo.

The fact that this match have gotten the addition of "no disqualification, no count-out" stipulation is yet another proof of the smart booking they had with this. By ridding both veterans all restraints with the cumbersome rules, you can expect both to pull out all the tricks they had in their respective bags after decades of wrestling any opponents, both in and out of the ring. Michaels, for one, will definitely be taking some incredible bump, cementing his Mr. WrestleMania status. In summary, this will definitely go down as a Wrestling 101 for all.

This is why I am certain that this match will be the last on the line-up. Because the bookers must have realized from last year's 30-min epic (which was followed by the so-called "Main Event" Orton Vs. HHH, which was too plain to be true) that this match is far too difficult to be outdone, not by Cena Vs. Batista, not by Edge Vs. Y2J, and no, not even by Bret Hart Vs. McMahon.

And on we go, to, I dare say, the most interesting portion of this entire article.

Predicted Winner: Shawn Michaels
The topic that has garnered unprecedentedly massive discussion on the online wrestling world actually boils down to one logic: Which is more important, the streak, or the career?

At first glance, the answer is surprisingly simple: The freaking career. Mr. Wrestlemania (yes, tested and proven), Shawn Michaels'storied career is one for the records, while in the meantime, wrestling is pre-scripted, meaning the supposedly phenomenal 17-0 record is only as significant as the WWE dictates it to be.

For one, I am not under the impression that WWE intentionally set out to build an undefeated streak for the Deadman, going into Wrestlemania VII (The Undertaker's first). Looking further into the list of opponents throughout this 17 matches gradually highlights its surprising mediocrity. King Kong Bundy, Giant Gonzalez, Sycho Sid, Mark Henry, for starters. It is only when in recent years, that the streak becomes something that will not be repeated and thereby impressive as a profitable marketing ploy. The myth of The Undertaker's undefeated streak lives on and will undoubtedly be an inseparable portion of the Deadman in the history books. Reasonably, the only sensible way to end the streak would be for the purpose of fueling the ascent of a rising star.

However, predictability of the streak eventually caught up. The Undertaker did not feed the streak to up-and-coming types, like Randy Orton (WM21) despite the relevance as Orton is marketed as the Legend Killer, or the Animal Batista, despite the potential changing of guards storyline they could have done, or even the Rated R Superstar, Edge, despite the mini undefeated streak he's keeping up back then. And if HBK himself couldn't get the job done twice in a roll, can the WWE seriously convince anyone at all that Taker can still be defeated after all? The sales pitch is flawed.

A smart methodology for the utilization of a marketing ploy would be to put an end to it as and when the appropriate opportunity comes along when you can gain even more by putting an end to it.

With WWE getting ever more wary on escalating young stars only to lose them to competing promotions (Lesnar and Lashley, for example), the chances of WWE feeding the honor of ending the streak to a rookie dims even more. The gimmick of making the fans worry of the potentially tremendous upset whenever a rookie rise to the occasion to face the Deadman, can only last as good as it gets.

And when they roll out the classic Undertaker Vs. Shawn Michaels bout last year, the sales pitch became so flawed that it is so hard to follow up. The match was so good that it raised the bar so high that the streak just can't be ended in a throwaway bout that is not on half the level of last year's classic. If HBK still does not win this one, I bet nobody ever will, and Taker can keep that clean slate all the way to the Hall Of Fame. But if there ever is a glimmer of a chance that it will be ended, the chance is now.

Who better than Mr. WrestleMania himself to end the Deadman's incomparable feat? It will be a storybook ending to one of the greatest WrestleMania, invoking a feel-good moment not unlike Benoit and Guerrero's champion reign at WMXX. And with HBK failing in last year's attempt, it will also make Taker bail out not looking weak at all, as he had in fact won round one.

While Michaels had been rolling out interviews putting out strong hints that he will be retiring after this match, chances are that, these are swerves. Swerves which, if indeed true and being pulled off, could prove to be the greatest swerves ever in professional wrestling history.

All the above rhetoric is quite simply, theories to convince myself to listen to the heart, not the brain, which is screaming "18-0" like a broken record. Traditionally, WWE, being the corporate monster that they are, will only be taking the conventional way of keeping the streak alive to die another day for a more worthy course. But the heart goes for the Heartbreak Kid.

(If this indeed is the last match of the night, I will be even more sure that the above mentioned feel-good moment will come.)

WWE Champion Batista vs. John Cena

Dave Batista. John Cena. Both icons of the PGTV WWE era, and today's answer to the Stone Cold and The Rock of Attitude era.

Surprisingly, the build-up to this match-up was impressive, bearing the hallmarks of the classic championship bout. And the credits would have to be given to Batista, who delivered a series of strikingly good promos, selling his "narcissistic big bully" heel role perfectly. While art almost always imitate life here in the wrestling world, Batista's speech towards Cena's Face Of WWE status actually reflects what many fans thought. We always knew why we love the Hitman, the Heartbreak Kid, the Deadman, The Texas Rattlesnake and The Great One, but what is there to be truly marvel and impressed by the former chain-wielding rapper turned kid's icon? In that respect, Cena truly personify the PGTV era. And hell do I want anything to do with it. Imagine the smirk I had with Cena caught speechless in those confrontation they had in the past few RAW. Meanwhile, Batista had excelled at his new heel role, and is in my opinion, one the top three heels out there, along with CM Punk and Chris Jericho.

The quality of this match should be way above the average, given the other strong competition matches in the card.

Predicted Winner: John Cena
Cena is almost guaranteed a victory with this, and will definitely be doing his best PGTV iconic impression with the championship high above Batista. Boring, but true. I just hope this match won't be the last of the card, taking away the thunder of the real main event.

10-Diva Tag Team Match

Nine of the most talented Divas from Raw and SmackDown — and Vickie Guerrero — will collide on The Grandest Stage of Them All when Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Eve, Gail Kim & Beth Phoenix team up to take on Women’s Champion Michelle McCool, Divas Champion Maryse, Layla, Alicia Fox & Vickie at WrestleMania.

While you might complain my laziness by just quoting directly from WWE website on this match, please forgive me for not having another method to tell you that I totally don't give a fuck about the Divas division of WWE. And guess what, so is the WWE management. If not, why are we scheduled to watch this insufferable two-minute yawn-fest, with no titles on the line, and no storylines whatsoever.

While I'll be the first to admit Kelly Kelly is stunning as hell, I just can't see why WWE is shoving every pretty face into our throat as a fully-functioning wrestler. Can't they be playing some roles like a backstage interviewer, or a heel manager to generate heat for those up-and-coming rookies who lacked personalities?

Predicted Winners: Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Eve, Gail Kim & Beth Phoenix
A crap-shot at best, but I'm pretty certain the good girls will win out.

Bret Hart vs. Mr. McMahon (No Holds Barred Match)

"Anything could happen in the World Wrestling Federation!"

If you can recall, that was the opening line to "WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role" PlayStation game a decade ago, and incidentally a line by the impeccable JR, whose absence in this year's WrestleMania, will be terribly felt. And with Bret Hart's return match with Mr. McMahon, this quote had never rang truer.

The Montreal Screwjob, much touted as the most important chapter in American Professional Wrestling history, inadvertently led to the creation of Mr. McMahon, the evil corporate boss with a monstrous ego. That, in turns, spun off the best times in professional wrestling history when Stone Cold Steve Austin rise to the challenge as the ultimate anti-authoritarian anti-hero, shutting WCW out and reinvent wrestling as we know it.

The closure to this chapter has more significance in the history books than in practice. Nevertheless, contrary to common beliefs that Vince will have a mellow little bout with Bret with not much highlights to speak of, I had a gut feeling that Bret, with his extraordinary moniker of being "the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be", had too much pride in himself to let this one fall into the mundane. Remember how Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat stole the show last year with Jericho?

Predicted Winners: Bret Hart
Despite conflicting news reporting that Hart will be staying in WWE after the Mania, there's no other way of doing this one. What had became common knowledge among wrestling fans smark or casual, is the fact that Vince always lose at WrestleMania. And in this case, I see no other way than to have him tap out to the best Sharpshooter ever.

With Vince declaring that Bret will nonetheless be screwed yet again, expect some run-in interference from those ne'er do gooders like Kozlow to happen.

World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho vs. Edge

It's the Clash Of The Canadians in this year's World Heavyweight Championship match-up.

Both extremely charismatic and fully capable of turning out with a show-stealing performance, this match should be on the top three matches of the night. Given the stellar card, this fact is telling of the quality of the match we can expect.

Storyline-wise, the build-up had been somewhat lackluster given both wrestler's usually great promos. A main factor of that might be the fact that they are building the feud over a minor past misgiving (Y2J badmouthing Edge while he is in his rehab, is essentially nothing to write home about) and abysmally, Edge's version of "Spear".

The single one element remotely concerned with the word "powerful" in Edge's "Spear", would be his insane, sadist grin in the build-up to the move. (Anybody in question to the above statement, please drown yourself in youtube to check out Goldberg's rendition of the move, and Rhino's "Gore".) And that is the reason why I'm not sold on the way this feud is being build up on the somewhat annoying "Spear, Spear, Spear" plot.

Predicted Winner: Edge
Two title change in one night. Trust me, WWE had more title change than you might care these days. And Edge winning this will fit the tradition of the grandest stage of them all. Poor Jericho with his particular title reign.

Triple H vs. Sheamus

Triple H had in recent times impressed me to no end. With an online reputation of being an egoistic, attention-seeking guy who just can't let go of the limelight (and the title at that), Hunter has shut his critic (myself being one of the guilty party) up with his actions, jobbing to many other top-card wrestlers lately, and finding himself in the midcard with his purported BFF, Sheamus.

This match-up should be better than what it seems on paper, as the big white dude seek to shut his own critic as well to prove his mettle as a top-carder. On this grandest stage, Hunter won't let up too.

Predicted Winners: Triple H
While it remains fairly likely that Triple H would further his current jobbing job by falling into the white-knuckled fury of the pale Irish dude, a back-and-forth display of a hard fought battle with the Cerebral Assasin should be enough to do the job.

That said, all the fellows out there doing online wrestling PPV results predictions will agree with me that any match involving Triple H is an unpredictable wild card.

CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio

Quite possibly the most potential show-stealer of the card if not for the fact that the show itself is HBK/Taker. The classic booking served well here, with CM Punk reaching his career peak with his cult leader approach to the "Straight Edge Society" storyline that in all rarity, developed tremendously over the months. Being the preachy elitist with a repackaged Luke Gallows (the most amazing repackage we have ever seen since the Papa Shango-The Godfather transformation), and the voluptuous Serena by his side, Punk revitalized the often heel-less SmackDown greatly, contributing to its superiority over the often mis-focused RAW on a regular basis.

Mysterio, while being his usual heroic self in the storyline, always bring his A-game to the big ones. Punk, on the other hand, has been honing his ability well with some of the best performance in the past few months. Expect sparks to fly with this one.

Predicted Winners: CM Punk
The potential storyline opportunities opening up with Mysterio joining the SEO will be intriguing enough while it lasts, most probably culminating with an "Extreme Rules" rematch next month.

Randy Orton vs. Ted DiBiase vs. Cody Rhodes (Triple Threat Match)

Yes, it's the heart-breaking official break-up episode between the baby-oil threesomes.

It was most interesting to watch Orton complete the reverse engineering of his heel role, as he go over DiBiase and Rhodes and threw all master-plans to the wind. The down side of that fact, would be the realization of the utter lacking of any characters for both DiBiase and Rhodes.

While packaged as a handicap match in disguise, the match will undoubtedly feature the further implosion of DiBiase and Rhodes, and hopefully brings Orton's complete face-turn to its peak. Orton as a face, might proved to be highly contentious. However, the potential for him to stay in his current Viper character as a self-serving anti-hero, not unlike Austin, would be appealing and capable of opening up more possibilities.

Anyway, this match unfortunately held the potential of being the plainest match of the card. It is somewhat puzzling that they did not go ahead with the rumored plan of having each of the opponents' fathers in the corner of their respective son. Nevertheless, this match is interestingly a card right out of this year's WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010's Road to WrestleMania mode for Orton.

Predicted Winners: Randy Orton
The Viper vanquishing his two former proteges to move on with his face turn, is a likelier possibility.

Money in the Bank Ladder Match

Christian vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kane vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Jack Swagger vs. Montel Vontavious Porter vs. Matt Hardy vs. Evan Bourne vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston.

Talked about overbooking. This has essentially become a "midcard slugfest".

Originally consisting of six wrestlers vying for the briefcase up in the air, the "Money In The Bank" match has evolved greatly, but questionably positively.

Allowing more opponents into the match ensures that more superstars will get the much-needed exposure of performing on the grandest stage of them all. But this is just plain overdoing it.

Expect bumps, super crazy bumps, ladder attacks, more bumps, and expect this formula to last another ten minutes.

Predicted Winners: Christian
Consisting of an overpopulated ring, this match is in fact just eight wrestlers booked in between two likely candidate. The storyline apple's eye of Vince McMahon, Drew McIntyre, has repeatedly nullified his loss records, building up to his absolutely inane qualification into the match. Meanwhile, Christian, freshly off his ECW champion reign, has been a fan favorite for sometime. Online rumors have been rampant regarding Christian winning the briefcase and immediately challenging Edge after his victory over Jericho. While that might not exactly happen, McIntyre's victory seemed comparatively somewhat short of happening.

Unified Tag Team Champion Big Show & The Miz vs. John Morrison & R-Truth - Unified Tag Team Championship Match

The other potential weaker match on the card, a victim of lack of planning and build-up.

While the fact that there is no real tag team in today's industry has been a sad fact that most have come to recognize, the Morrison-Truth team-up is just pushing it. So much so that they even parodies this fact in the program while in the process of coming out with a name for the tag-team. (They eventually settled down on Unified Tag Team Champion. What excellent writing.)

The match should be just fine, should they tap into the intense rivalry between Miz and Morrison. One interesting point that might figure in the match, would be The Miz's "NXT Rookie" Daniel Bryan, should he show up to further their respective program.

Predicted Winners: ShoMiz
While not exactly a tag-team, ShoMiz is a more functionable unit than Morrison and Truth, whom will be better off flying solo.


The Rundown

2010 has been a tremendous year for professional wrestling in general. We have seen Hogan spearheading the TNA, triggering the much awaited (in-ring) return of Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam (and most unfortunately, Nasty Boys as well); and the impossible return of Bret Hart in WWE. With an excellent card and the most anticipated main event that weighed heavy on all wrestling fans, it is perfectly reasonable to expect a WrestleMania to be phenomenal.


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