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WWE appears to have a plan
Future matches chiseled in stone -- at least for now
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun


World Wrestling Entertainment bosses are notorious for making decisions at the last minute. It's not uncommon for a wrestler to arrive at an arena on Monday afternoon with no clue what they will be doing on live TV just a few hours later.

However, as 2005 rolls around, it seems WWE's new year's resolution is to improve the company's long-term planning.

A solid game plan is in place. Not just up until the next pay-per-view but all the way through to Wrestlemania in April.

Of course, this could change in an instant if a McMahon were to get out of the wrong side of bed or if Triple H throws a hissy fit, but as things stand right now, the road to Wrestlemania has been clearly mapped out.

Things kick off Jan. 9 with New Year's Revolution, the first WWE pay-per-view to emanate from Puerto Rico.

Triple H, Randy Orton, Batista, Edge, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit will battle it out in San Juan, fighting for the vacant heavyweight championship in the Elimination Chamber.

As much as I hate to say this, the only outcome that makes sense is for Triple H to win the belt back.

He has the most heel momentum going into 'Mania and needs to pass the torch cleanly, one-on-one, in the middle of the ring.

Next up is the 'Royal Rumble' on Jan. 30 in California, where a 30-man battle royal will determine the No. 1 contender for the title. Orton, Batista or John Cena are odds-on favourites to be the last man standing.

The Rumble undercard will include a three-way for the WWE championship between John Layfield, Kurt Angle and the Big Show. Vince McMahon is a big fan of Layfield as champ, so the former CNBC analyst will likely hold onto the belt.

Then comes No Way Out, a Smackdown brand PPV on Feb. 20 in Pittsburgh. The main event is set to be a singles showdown between Layfield and the Big Show but with a twist that will definitely raise this pay-per-view above filler status. The bout will be WWE's first-ever barbed-wire match.

And again, unless plans change, look for Layfield to take the win, or at the very least, walk out as champ.

Which brings us to the Super Bowl of sports entertainment, the granddaddy of them all, and, well, insert your own cliche here. Wrestlemania 21 goes down April 3 at Staples Centre in Los Angeles.

For the Raw brand's main event, there's a big question mark hanging over the planned Triple H vs. Randy Orton headliner. The fans have been slowly getting behind Batista as the crowd favourite to challenge Triple H.

With the right storyline, either Orton or Batista could use a win as a springboard to the next level of stardom, though I have this sinking feeling a dull three-way could be in the works.

On the Smackdown side of the card, they'll likely go with John Cena as the challenger for Layfield's title. The original plan was for Cena to take the win and get a big push as the top guy on Smackdown, coinciding with the release of his rap CD and movie debut. However, rumours are circling that WWE honchos aren't so high on Cena and may hold off the switch until Summer Slam in August.

The Rock is another possible challenger, as he has scheduled a break between movie shoots and is pretty much a lock for a match at 'Mania.

Steve Austin is also likely to make a comeback at the PPV, though probably not in a wrestling role.

Brock Lesnar has reportedly expressed interest in returning to the ring after his failed attempt at an NFL career but so far WWE has been cold to the idea.

WWE is still hopeful of getting Ric Flair and Mick Foley to put their real life hatred aside and turn it into a storyline for a match at the big event.


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