Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow & James Giles
On Sunday, the eyes of the wrestling world will be locked on to Wrestlemania 29 as we see the annual culmination of WWE storylines and feuds.
Much of the build-up has focussed on The Rock v John Cena rematch from last year’s Wrestlemania with the WWE Title on the line this year. Will The Rock retain or will Cena finally triumph and end the evening with the title? Elsewhere, The Undertaker will put his historic streak on the line against CM Punk whilst HHH will put his career on the line against Brock Lesnar in a no holds barred match.
Also on the card World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio will put his title on the line against the All-American Jack Swagger, The Shield will face the team of The Big Show, Randy Orton and Sheamus and the WWE tag team Champions Team Hell No defend against Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston.
The Ring The Damn Bell writers Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow and James Giles share their thoughts and predictions ahead of the biggest night of the wrestling calendar.
Pre show: WWE Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett v The Miz
Craig: As I voiced on Twitter the other day, the positioning of this match on the card is the most disappointing aspect to it. A place can be found on the card for the mixed tag match and a music performance from Diddy yet this is relegated to the pre-show.
Whilst he’s floundering a bit as a face, I think The Miz will win here with bigger and better things around the corner for Barrett; such as winning Money in the Bank.
Winner: And new Intercontinental Champion, The Miz
Jamie: Tough one. Both are firmly in the mid-card with no immediate signs of escape so this genuinely could go either way. I think there might be life left in this feud after Sunday so I think Barrett retains. It’s easier for a babyface to get over when they are chasing a title so I think Miz will have to wait a month or so before getting his hands on the belt. With any luck the wait will actually help boost the rather bland babyface version of The Miz.
Winner: Wade Barrett
James: Why doesn’t the WWE just abandon the IC Title? For every moment they treat it as a serious and worthy title, there are 10 more like this where the take a big dump on it. Bumping it, and its competitors Wade Barratt and The Miz, to the pre-show is a slap in the face to everyone involved, particularly with crap like Tons of Funk making the main card. Barrett and The Miz pushes have both stop started several times of over the years, and this cant be good news for either of them. Whoever wins is actually kind of irrelevant, as many fans wont even get to see it, and how WWE decides to treat the championship and champion going forward that is more important.
Craig: I expect this match to be the first match on the actual card, in order o get the show off with a bang. Of course, many will discuss Ziggler cashing in during this one but if this opens the show then I don’t see a cash in happening at ‘mania. Calling this match, however, is a touch trickier. Pre DUI I couldn’t see past Swagger winning but now I’m not too sure. Part of me suspects Albert Del Rio will hang on with this one. I think the WWE have a lot of faith in ADR as a face, despite some reservations from others, and dropping the belt would hurt him.
Jamie: I am not looking forward to this one at all. I have no interest in the Jack Swagger or Zeb Colter characters and Del Rio doesn’t seem like a natural babyface that I want to cheer for. Del Rio turned face and won the World Heavyweight Championship within the same month, meaning we had no time to get to know him as a good guy and root for him to win the title, he just kind of did it all of a sudden. He did OK at first but he’s just not particularly interesting or likeable. As for Swagger, well I’m not American or Mexican so I’m not particularly interested in his political views. I’d be interested in his opinions on wrestling, but I couldn’t give a flying fuck about politics when I’m trying to enjoy some wrasslin’. My guess is Del Rio wins, but may not leave the show as champion…
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
James: The only of the main event bouts that is promoting young, up-and-coming talent, I’m trying not to get too excited about this match, because we all thought the same thing about Sheamus v Bryan last year, and WWE took a massive dump on that match. Hopefully we won’t have a case of history repeating. Considering I have predicted all face victories thus far, I’m going to go with Swagger here; Del Rio has reigned for a few months now and Swagger went through too much at Elimination Chamber to not take victory here. I am not of huge fan of his patriotic, sub-Kurt Angle shtick but he is an excellent wrestler and given a chance he could be a great heel.
Winner: Jack Swagger
Craig: Despite my own reservations regarding the abilities of Clay and Tensai as I team I think that they, and certainly The Rhodes Scholars, have far more to offer than being stuck in this mixed tag match which really serves no purpose with such a quick and poor build up. That said, I predict the faces will prevail here and give the crowd the trademark dancing from them.
Winners: Tons of Funk & The Funkadactyls
Jamie: This match has ‘Pre-Show’ written all over it. By the time you read this I would bet that it has officially been confirmed as such. Unlike many of the matches on the card this is actually a tough one to call, what a shame few people care about it. My hope is that the criminally underutilised Rhodes Scholars team pick up the win, especially given the return of the (not perfect but better than anything else in the Divas division) Bella Twins. However, my hunch is that the dancing babyfaces pick up the win.
Winners: Brodus Clay, Tensai & The Funkadactyls
James: Can’t think of a single decent reason why this would be considered a Wrestlemania worthy bout. All I can hope is it gets relegated to the pre-show. Or used to rest the crowd between some of the big bouts? Who wins – who cares? Does it matter? You can’t help but feel sorry for Team Rhodes Scholars, especially as the faces win basically every bout at Mania so they don’t really have a chance.
Winners: Tons of Funk & The Funkadactyls
Craig: This all depends on what plans, if any, the WWE actually has for the Fandango character. If they have high hopes for him then there’s every chance that they’ll use Jericho to put him over at ‘mania. Despite how dreadful the gimmick is, the WWE has invested a great deal of time in building him up and introducing him to the fans so I predict, and fear, a Fandango victory here.
Jamie: The fact that he’s on the card just weeks after his debut tells me that Fandango is going to win. WWE would be shooting themselves in the foot by introducing a new character and building him up, only to have him lose his first match. If he was facing The Rock in his first match then they would get away with it, but he’s against serial put-over guy Chris Jericho.
James: The Fandango gimmick doesn’t interest me in the least but if anyone can help it get him over it is Y2J. Jericho will probably go over the unproven Fandango on the super-show but the dancer will get a victory back at Extreme Rules. Whether the match will be any good, I’ve no idea; I doubt it will be given much time and Jericho can be sloppy when not properly motivated. Plus, there are much bigger matches that will need the extra time. As much as I might not personally like the Fandango gimmick, it will stand as an example of new talent getting short-changed at Mania.
Winner: Chris Jericho
Craig: My fairly recent high hopes for the tag division have all but disappeared as we see the tag champions defend against a team thrown together. That said, I don’t think this will be a bad match at all, particularly the exchanges between Bryan and Ziggler – especially if there recent matches are anything to go by. With quite a crowded singles title picture I imagine that individually, despite their respective merits, Kane and Bryan would get lost in the mix if the team split up. For that reason, and the lack of obvious talent elsewhere in the tag ranks, I see the tag champs retaining here.
Winners: Team Hell No.
Jamie: This one could go either way. Team Hell No are ready to go their separate ways, although ironically their dissention has been downplayed since they started working with Ziggler and Langston. On the other hand, Ziggler should be stepping out on his own and cashing in that briefcase. Heading into the traditional post-wrestlemania quiet period Ziggler should be in preparations for a push, once all the part timers have counted their cash and disappeared again. I’m going to be bold here and say that Daniel Bryan will turn on Kane. This would free Bryan up for a post-mania push of his own. Ziggler might have to wait until he drops the tag belts, or maybe his trousers require two belts…
Winners: Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston
James: This is a weird on for me, because I’d really been hoping to see Ziggler in some significant singles match. Is he ever going to cash his MITB in? It seems a bit of a waste, but at least he and Daniel Bryan should have some good interactions in the match. I’d rather see Team Hell No drop the belts to a more interesting team, so I’m hoping they retain here.
Winners: Team Hell No
Craig: based on the fact that The Shield has beaten teams made up of stronger superstars: including against teams led by Cena and Jericho I’d be very surprised if The Shield were to loss this. Add that to the fact that there’s a lot of gas left in the tank of the team made up of former NXT stars, this has a victory for The Shield written all over it.
Whilst the build-up has centred on whether or not the faces can trust The Big Show I suspect we will get a heel turn here however, and it’s what his character needs, I think it will be Randy Orton that will cost his team mates here. I don’t think he’ll join The Shield – there’d be nothing for either to gain by that – but his character as a face is very stale and he is crying out for a heel turn.
Winners: The Shield
Jamie: Can the babyface team trust each other? Since this is the question the commentators keep asking themselves then I would suggest that no, no they can’t. It is set up beautifully for someone to turn, more than likely Randy Orton. However WWE is a land of missed opportunities these days so I predict that we merely see the seeds of dissention sewn between Orton and his team mates via a miscommunication that hands victory to The Shield.
Winners: The Shield
James: As thrown together as it does seem, WWE should at least be given credit for giving all involved something to do. Part of me thinks it would be a great opportunity to turn Orton heel by betraying his team mates, but I can’t really see it. WWE has done a great job of building the faction of youngsters up on their own, and they should continue promoting their dominance. This should be the one sure fire heel victory of the evening, a given some time, an action packed and exciting match. Could well be the dark horse match of the show.
Winners: The Shield
Craig: I’ve surprised myself somewhat by quite getting into the build up for this one. I’ve enjoyed the old school mentality of it being based on a test of strength with a weight lifting competition etc. Don’t get me wrong, my hopes aren’t exactly high for a classic bout between the pair but every match can’t be classic submission based matches. The big power guys always have a place on a card, particularly a Vince McMahon card and expect hard hitting action in this one. The WWE have high hopes clearly for the Ryback and I see him picking up the win here.
Jamie: Ryback wins via pinfall after he hits his Shellshock finisher. Oh, and the match will probably be either very dull or very bad, or both.
James: What is this match doing on a Wrestlemania card? Ryback would have been much better served in his original role on the card, as part of the six-man Vs the Shield. Now we get to see these to square off in what will undoubtedly be a boring affair, if there is any mercy it will at least be a short display of powers. Any longer than 5 minutes and I will using it as my toilet break. Ryback has to win because he is the one with a future, but I can envision Shield interference to extend Ryback’s feud with them.
Winner: Ryback (hopefully)
Craig: As with a number of matches on the card, viewers can be forgiven for having a sense of deja vu! Much in the same way as I wasn’t terribly fussed ahead of their original encounter, this one does nothing for me either. I expect a hard hitting a bloody brawl but being a huge fan of neither superstar, I haven’t really emotionally bought into this one. In addition, there’s absolutely no chance that Trips will be retiring this Sunday so I see him going over in this one.
Winner: Triple H.
Jamie: This should be match of the night and I’m picking Triple H to win what should be a brutal and bloody war. We’ve known since Summerslam that this match was on the cards, and since then I have picked Triple H to win. I know Brock has since signed a contract extension and probably should be booked to win in order to maintain his monster aura, but he won’t, WWE is just like that sometimes. Brock is booked for Extreme Rules so there’s always the possibility of these two meeting again in a decider.
Winner: Triple H
James: Anyone who knows the unwritten rules of wrestling already knows the outcome to this match; after putting Lesnar over at Summerslam, HHH has to get a victory back, and with his career on the line there is no way HHH is retiring before competing at WM30. As for the match itself, it should be very good with the No Holds Barred rule affording them more shortcuts that their previous bout, something they’ll need to make it something different. Definite match of the card contender.
Craig: This is one of the matches I’m most looking forward to. Despite a, at times, questionable build-up – some of the Paul Bearer stuff has left a bad taste in my mouth – I think this will be a top match. I’ve previously written that Punk stands a better chance than most to end the streak and I stand by that position. However, I think The Undertaker will prevail on the night and keep his streak intact. If the WWE are clever, though, they will look to have a rematch at next year’s ‘mania and have a slow build up reminiscent of the build up to the consecutive Undertaker v Shawn Michaels ‘mania matches. It takes a long term investment into that though and be interesting to see if the WWE can have that and, I suspect, another year build up to Cena v The Rock pt. 3.
Winner: The Undertaker
Jamie: The Undertaker all day long. The build-up to this match has been so lacklustre, it has essentially centred around cheap heat tactics from Punk. The ending to Raw this week was the best and strongest angle of the dispute, but it was a desperate attempt to make Punk look like a threat and distract us from what we already know, Taker will be 21-0 come Monday morning.
Winner: The Undertaker
James: This is sadly a match up that I really didn’t want to see on this PPV; although the bout itself will probably be very good, neither man stands to gain anything from it. There is no realistic way Punk could win clean, considering the much bigger stars that have gone down to Taker in the last few years. The only chance he would have is a screwy ending, and breaking the Streak with that sort of finish would be a slap in the face to Undertaker and the fans. I really can’t see the Streak ever ending, and if it does it will more likely be at next years major anniversary show Wrestlemania 30. There is a good chance it could be the best match in terms of action but the outcome seems so inevitable there may not be a lot of tension.
Winner: The Undertaker
Craig: ‘Twice in a lifetime’ for this one as Cena again locks up with The Rock in the main event of Wrestlemania, this time with the WWE title on the line. I think the build up to this one surpasses last year’s affair and focusses less on the petty and cheap insults and instead on Cena’s desire to make amends for last year. By far the most interesting aspect, a view I imagine Jamie will share, is the hinting towards a potential heel turn from Cena. If nothing else, some of his comments have seemed quite heelish in part.
Winner: John Cena
Jamie: We have covered this match extensively elsewhere on this blog, and as Craig suggests I am desperate for a Cena heel turn to take place. I hope Cena turns heel by attacking The Rock with a chair, or something similar. I hope they go on to Extreme Rules where a fully-fledged heel Cena defeats The Rock yet again. This would provide ample mileage for a third and final Wrestlemania match between the two next year. However, there is a big difference between what I hope will happen and what I think will happen. Cena will likely win with an Attitude Adjustment, he won’t turn heel and WWE will remain the same as it has been for years.
Winner: John Cena
James: Last November I wrote an article about my thoughts and predictions for Wrestlemania, and pretty much begged WWE not to book this match. After last years ‘Once in a lifetime’ crap, even booking this shows WWE’s contempt for its fans. Their bout last year was barely average, carried only by the electric atmosphere, which itself was more due to seeing the Rock in a Wrestlemania main event again. There is nothing new they can do, and given Rock’s victory last year and Cena’s Rumble win, the outcome is inevitable. But really what does having Cena win the championship yet again do for WWE’s future? And you know it will go on last again. Jesus, WWE makes it hard to be a fan sometimes….
Winner: John Cena