The following piece was contributed by avid wrestling fan and analyst JR. Follow him on Twitter at @StarNinja99.
The more I look at this year's Wrestlemania card, the more I truly believe that this may indeed be the best card in the history of the event. The pure caliber of potential Four and Five Star Matches is mind boggling. If there is such a thing as an over-star powered card, this is it. I believe this is going to be the night you'll tell your grandkids about someday, and the night that will leave all Wrestlemania cards in the future looking weak.
But, that's not what you've come here to see, is it? You want predictions! Predictions run rampant this year, and this is a very tough card to call. Still I'll throw my best efforts into it, and possibly feel like a moron on April 2nd. So, lets get to it, ladies and gentleman!
WWE Champion CM Punks gets held back by the referees.
Solid match to kick off the show with World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan and Kane defeating Sheamus and Randy Orton in tag team action. It got great time and all four competitors got their spots in. It was also a nice change of pace to have a match at the top of the hour rather than the usual promo, which seemed odd for the go-home show. Nonetheless, this bout certainly sold me on both feuds going into Sunday.
Throwaway match between United States Champion Santino Marella and David Otunga that was drowned out by pure comedy. After being pushed and slapped by Teddy Long for weeks now, you would think that John Laurinaitis would fight back, right? The only real hit here was the revealing of The Miz for Team Johnny, who was a pleasant surprise seeing most people were expecting Alberto Del Rio.
Lackluster match between Kelly Kelly and Eve that didn't accomplish much. Since this is the first-ever meeting between the two former best friends, I'd rather see this for the Divas Championship or hyped out in advance as a big culmination. Instead, we had Kelly beat Eve in mere minutes, despite Beth Phoenix being at ring-side. Also, I'm not a huge fan of Maria Menounos being in the Divas match at Mania because only mentioning her on the show doesn't make up for her lack of appearances on live television.
Intense segment with Chris Jericho once again WWE Champion CM Punk, only to release his frustrations out on Christian. With this being the third straight week that Jericho has targeted Punk's family via the Titantron, his remarks regarding Punk's mother this time around didn't have the same impact as the previous two. However, Punk still showed perfect facial expressions and the sense of vulnerability that unleashed a new vengeful side of him that we haven't seen in a long time. Sure, I would have loved to see Punk take on Christian, but giving this new edge to Punk I believe was more important. By the way, I'm vastly disappointed Christian had to take the beating here since he just returned a few short weeks ago, but hopefully they use this attack as a reason to have Punk and Christian feud down the line.
Yet another typical squash match with Brodus Clay dominating Curt Hawkins. I was originally hoping that returning Brodus to television on the road to WrestleMania would mean that he was bound for Team Teddy, but it appears not. Well, fingers crossed they have plans for him to initiate an actual feud following Mania, otherwise he'll lose any relevancy he has left.
Sheamus controls The Miz with a headlock.
Excellent opening segment featuring World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan, AJ, and Sheamus. Bryan's power over AJ was hilarious material as always, but Sheamus interrupting and then stating that he'll destroy Bryan at WrestleMania felt bland. This feud has been given very minimal build-up, but at least they were able to get some mic time to further establish the feud.
Quick match with Mark Henry dominating R-Truth. This was their first singles encounter, so at least it felt fresh. It's good to see Henry pick up a decisive victory after losing to John Cena on Raw this week, so this helped him get his steam back. Of course the main focus of this bout was to give more build for the Team Laurinaitis vs. Team Teddy match at WrestleMania.
Passable match between AJ and Brie Bella that focused more on the relationship between AJ and Bryan more than the match itself. Regardless, it was a nice victory for AJ that will hopefully get her in the Divas Championship picture someday soon. Additionally, I can't say I'm excited for another Bella Twins break-up, as their promo after the match felt meaningless.
Good match between Zack Ryder and Jack Swagger that was good while it lasted. These two work well together, so it baffles me to why we didn't get this rematch in a feud over the United States Championship. This bout was effective in giving Ryder his first singles win in months, while giving Swagger the out due to Hornswoggle's distraction at ring-side.
Decent match from Kane and Big Show that wasn't as slow as some would think, but it felt more of an extension of what we saw Monday night. Kane has really lost his threatening touch since his return, so his appearance on SmackDown didn't feel special at all. Cody Rhodes' interference in the match was predictable, as well as Randy Orton's post match RKO on Kane. Expect a tag team match between these four next week.
Chris Jericho degrades WWE Champion CM Punk.
Strong promo to kick off the show featuring WWE Champion CM Punk and Chris Jericho. Although Punk always cuts a great promo, this specific one involved the emotion that we don't usually see from Punk. For the second week in a row, Jericho did an excellent job of getting under the skin of Punk and furthering my interest in this intriguing rivalry between the two best in the world.
Quick match between Big Show and Kane that lasted only under a minute. These do indeed have history together and would have liked to see them go longer, but I guess it was for the best since both are monsters and the crowd would have been sitting on their hands the entire time. Smart booking with Cody Rhodes beating down Show, giving him tremendous heat in the process.
Typical match with David Otunga defeating United States Champion Santino Marella in a non-title bout. The whole series of events with Teddy Long and John Laurinaitis bickering at ring-side only for Long to push or slap Laurinaitis has gotten old at this point, and it certainly takes away from the matches they are involved in. Additionally, it would make sense to give Otunga a shot at the U.S. title, but I don't see that happening sadly.
Fun promo from The Rock that incorporated the right mix of humor and seriousness. The live crowd didn't seem into it at first, but Rocky got them on his side by the end of it. Dropping a handful of legendary names was a nice touch, as well as getting straight to the point. Tying in his background into the promo made this an effective segment.
Random match between World Heavyweight Championship Daniel Bryan and Zack Ryder. These two have great chemistry and had a good match while it lasted, but no build-up to this bout made me not care. Bryan's opponent Sheamus didn't get involved, nor did anything further with Ryder storyline-wise. If nothing else, the finish was pretty cool.
Predictable match from Mark Henry and John Cena. I'm glad that Henry was able to get in some dominant offense for most of the bout, so he didn't get completely squashed. Seeing Cena was involved in a car accident earlier that morning, wouldn't it have been better to play that up and make it seem like Cena went against all odds? The Rock Bottom to Henry after the match was actually pretty damn impressive. This mini-confrontation between Cena and Rock was a nice teaser and break from their usual promos.
John Laurinaitis welcomes Christian to his team.
Entertaining segment to kick off the broadcast with the return of the Peep Show. It never ceases to amaze me how Christian continues to draw a face reaction despite being a whiny heel, which speaks volumes regarding his popularity. He had good humor with John Laurinaitis here and had a logical reason for joining his squad at WrestleMania.
Passable match between Kofi Kingston and David Otunga that was fine for what it was worth. Otunga isn't the greatest worker in the world, but I was impressed that he was still able to compete despite not being properly prepared. The overbooked finishes are predictable at this point, so it came as no surprise in the end.
Quick match between AJ and Nikki Bella that was able to further progress the on-going story involving Daniel Bryan and AJ. I'm glad to see AJ back in the ring since she is one of the better wrestlers on the Divas roster, and her win over Nikki should hopefully getting her closer to receiving a shot at the Divas Championship. It felt awkward at the end with Bryan celebrating with AJ, as it seemed the crowd wasn't sure to cheer or boo.
Effective match with Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes cleanly defeating The Great Khali that was successful in giving Rhodes additional momentum going into his title defense at Mania. Khali's offense was kept limited and played his role well, as Rhodes was able to establish that he can indeed defeat gigantic opponents.
Decent promo between Randy Orton and Kane that was finally able to give some meaning behind this impromptu feud. I clearly remember that night Kane and Orton shook hands after their match on SmackDown last summer, so I'm glad they're usually something from not too longer ago as the incentive for this rivalry. Both Orton's and Kane's mic work was nothing to write home about, but did no harm.
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