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'Mania journey underway
Stage has already been set for Triple H and Randy Orton's title match in April
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun


The road to Wrestlemania begins each year at the Royal Rumble, or at least that's what the advertising says. This year, though, WWE took the first step a few months early.

It all started in the main event of Raw last Monday, when Ric Flair got a big win over Randy Orton -- with the obligatory ton of outside interference from Evolution, of course.

The Nature Boy's victory means Orton can no longer challenge Triple H for the heavyweight championship, so the planned main event for next year's Wrestlemania is out the window, right?

Wrong.

HHH vs. Orton is still pencilled in as the headliner for 'Mania 21, which will take place in Los Angeles in April.

The storyline journey is simply starting to unfold.

Orton is going to have to fight and claw his way back into the heavyweight-title picture. As he is thwarted by Evolution at every turn, the audience will get more and more into his underdog chase for the championship.

Let's call it the Red Sox syndrome.

By the time 'Mania rolls around, Orton's hunt for revenge will hopefully have developed a fanatic following and the audience will blow the roof off Staples Centre when he topples The Game and wins the big gold belt.

Well, that's what's written on the figurative drawing board at Titan Tower. And on paper, it sounds like a winner. Or at the very least, not a loser. Which, given the icy behind-the-scenes climate at WWE right now, is definitely good news.

Based on recent booking trends, it looks like the buildup will begin with HHH and Orton captaining opposing teams in an old school Survivor Series match at next month's pay-per-view.

Helmsley will likely be paired with Flair, Batista and Edge. Orton will team with Maven, Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho.

The feud will continue to develop at the New Year's Revolution pay-per-view from Puerto Rico in early January and will kick into high gear at the Royal Rumble, where Orton is expected to win the 30-man battle royal, with seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against him.

Since the Rumble winner automatically receives a title shot at 'Mania, the stage is set for the main event of what's being billed (probably falsely) as the biggest wrestling show of all time.

Just sit back and enjoy the ride. After all, the journey is half the fun.


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