Countdown to WrestleMania 21
SLAM! Wrestling staff
It's the grandaddy of them all this Sunday, as WWE presents WresteMania. This year's edition is an intriguing event, as several matches are looking unpredictable. Fortunately, the SLAM! gang -- along with a special digital guest known as the Raw vs Smackdown! game -- are ready to take their chances and offer up their thoughts on who will walk away with their heads held high.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
HHH vs. Batista
Knock WWE all you want, but the buildup for this match has been nearly
perfect. Doing everything they should have done with Orton earlier this
year, they managed to turn (evolve if you will) Batista from a generic
muscle-headed midcarder into a bonafide superstar. The fans have been
waiting a long time for a hero to topple HHH, and I think that Big Dave is
just the guy to do it.
The only logical ending to this particular story is to have Batista win. Give
WWE props for taking what they wanted to do with Orton, listening to the fans'
reactions and putting in Batista instead. Does Batista retain for long? Probably
not. Does he win at `Mania? If the writers have a clue, he does.
While I expect this to be a solid match, what should have been a build of Batista
calling HHH on using him and trying to manipulate him instead has become an
ego-stroking, "you're the greatest wrestler in the world and I want your
belt," crap. While last year had amazing build up and emotion, this just
feels like it's going through the motions to the inevitable winner, Batista..
Where do I begin? If the company is really serious about pushing Batista as
its next breakout star, why put him in there with guys like Kane, who only highlight
Big Daves shortcomings? Batista should be getting a Goldberg-like push,
running roughshod over everyone in his path. Instead, hes struggling to
beat Mabel. Whats next, the long-awaited Batista-Adam Bomb feud? Im
going with Batista here, but only because I know that when Triple H regains
the big belt next month, hell be that much closer to being a 384,906,704,397-time
HHH is still five or six reigns away from equalling Ric Flair, so we know he'll
drop the belt here. The bigger question is whether Batista or HHH moves to Smackdown!
afterward. Methinks HHH will screw with the lottery and make sure Big Dave moves
over, leaving a vacant World Title for him to claim again. Winner: Big Dave
Smackdown! vs. Raw
With Ric Flair as his manager, Triple H scored the duke.
WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
JBL vs. John Cena
Cena is arguably the most popular character in the company right now and it
would be easy to see how they might give him the belt to capitalize on his
momentum; but sometimes that strategy backfires, and the fans turn on the
champion once the thrill of the chase is gone. Look for JBL's stable to help
him keep the belt, thereby keeping the feud going for another couple of
months. A screwjob win for JBL would still keep Cena strong in the fans'
eyes, and their disappointment will be abated by Batista's win.
I think they waited too long to give Cena this World title push. It's like he's
no longer as over as he once was and they've run out of things they can do with
him. Could he carry Smackdown the way JBL can? I'm thinking not. JBL retains,
if only through the means of Orlando Jordan or the Bashems.
Could this be history, seeing both WWE titles change hands at Mania? Unfortunately
for Cena, I don't think so. A Cena win would take away from the show-ending
celebration of Batista. Cena's time is coming, probably by Judgement Day, but
he will get screwed this time. Winner - JBL.
Of the two main events,Im actually looking forward to this more than HHH-Batista.
Like him or not, JBL is a solid heel and Cena is on a roll right now. Can either
one carry a match alone? No; but this one isnt about putting on a wrestling
clinic. In many ways, I think the road leading up to this one has been more
scenic than the other main event.My pick is Cena, with enough re-matches to
last until the summer.
Had Batista not been slotted for the title victory on Raw, I would've picked
Cena; but two major title changes on one show is too much. JBL will win with
Smackdown! vs. Raw
Going it alone, JBL scored the pinfall victory
LEGENDS OF OUR TIME MATCH
Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels
Sometimes, the hype and anticipation for a match raises expectations so high,
that no matter how good the contest is it doesn't live up to its billing. Given the
calibre of these two, however, I don't think they will disappoint. In fact,
this one could very well be the Steamboat-Savage of the modern WrestleMania
era - talked about for years to come. I think Angle is going to be re-pushed
back into the title scene, and a win here will be the first step.
Why is this match billed as deciding who is the greatest wrestler of their generation?
Michaels, love him or hate him, has so much more of a claim than Angle due to
the length of time he's been in the business and the impact he's made. One match
won't change that; but that's another story for another time. I'm gonna wimp
out and call this a draw.
While the debate rages over who is the better of the two, the parallels can't
be denied. While Michaels slowly worked his way up the ladder, Angle has been
as brilliant of a wrestler and character as Michaels in a shorter time. This
is the hardest one to pick, but in matches like this, sometimes it is best to
just sit back and enjoy the ride. Winner: Angle
This is the match Im most looking forward to. The build up has been nothing
short of terrific, and dusting off Marty Jannetty and Sherri Martel was a nice
touch. A lot is riding on the condition of Angles neck, but I doubt either
man will let injuries get in the way of a potential classic. If this is Angles
Mania swan song, I hope he picks up the win with help from Jannetty for
purely selfish reasons: Ill never get tired of watching Marty parade around
in those silly tassels.
This match has had all the right build and looks to be the most intense bout
on the show. I really hope these two can go at it strongly without killing themselves,
but at this point I'm fearing for angle's ability to survive. Quite frankly,
I'm surprised that there isn't a guest referee for this bout. Another legend
like Steve Austin or Hulk Hogan would have put a nice extra little touch on
the match. I'm expecting some sort of draw, maybe time-limit afte a good half-hour
Smackdown! vs. Raw
Without Luther Reigns by his side, Kurt Angle took the match.
Undertaker vs. Randy Orton
Remember a few months ago, when Orton's matches with Mick Foley, Chris
Benoit, and Ric Flair had people calling him the future of the industry?
Seems like eons have passed since then and his star has almost completely
faded. While I may have accepted it back then, it seems completely
implausible now that he would be the guy who would end Taker's streak. I
think this would be a good time to bury Orton, and give him some time off to
freshen up his character.
Hey, they have the shirt already printed
what does that tell you? I think
Undertaker gets the win, but Orton somehow manages to keep his "Legend
Killer" status and heat.
Since Orton is off the roster post-'Mania with a major shoulder injury, it doesn't
make sense for him to take the streak when he can't capitalize on it immediately.
Taker retains his streak.
Slapping Taker in the face - good; giving the RKO to your hot, on-screen girlfriend
- not so good. This match is lost in the shuffle for me. Ive never been
a big fan of Taker, and Orton has really fallen a long way from the red-hot
Legend Killer of last spring. Word is that Orton is going under
the knife to fix an injury-plagued shoulder after Mania, so I think Taker
fans will see the Dead Man keep his undefeated streak alive.
Oh ye non-believers. How long have I been predicting that "Cowboy"
Bob Orton Jr. would be getting involved? Sure, he got in early on Smackdown,
but the bottomline is he's there and he'll be at 'Mania. The antics on SD! mean
'Taker keeps the streak alive, but I'm still going with a DQ. Oh, and that supposed
surgery? I think Bob's going to be passing the cast down to Randy.
Smackdown! vs. Raw
In a near-squash, The Undertaker up-ended Randy Orton
| 6-Man Ladder Match: Chris Jericho vs.
Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Kane vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Edge
Bob Kapur: Edge
John Milner: Matt Hardy and Gene Snitsky make appearances
to take out Kane, but Jericho wins since he's the one who introduced
Jason Clevett: With Batista taking the strap, the only
one who makes a viable title contender (and the guy most heavily pushed
in this group) is the blonde haired Canadian... wait that doesn't narrow
it down. Winner: Edge.
Steve Rennie: This is one of the many potential show
stealers, but my money is on Christian to walk away with the win.
Jon Waldman: Four Canadians in a match? Works for me.
Benjamin's assention to main event status continues as he'll get the
Smackdown! vs. Raw: Christian climbed to success. *note:
the game's settings did not allow for a 6-way, so a triple-threat tag-team
ladder match was set up, with ACC vs. E&C vs. Benjamin/Kane.
| Women's Title Match: Trish Stratus vs.
Bob Kapur: Trish
John Milner: We'll pray that Trish retains and we can put
all this unpleasantness behind us.
Jason Clevett: If kept short it will be a watchable
trainwreck - winner: Trish
Steve Rennie: If the wrestling gods have any sense of
justice, Trish will pick up a quick win here and move onto a meaningful
Jon Waldman: This could be a good match...in bizzaro
world. Methinks Lita does the heel turn here.Trish gets the duke.
Smackdown! vs. Raw: Trish took this match easily. *note:
with Hemme and Lita not in the game, Stacy Kiebler took the fall, accompanied
| Sumo Match: Akebono vs. Big Show
Bob Kapur: Akebono
Bob Kapur: Akebono
John Milner: Mr. T. won, Lawrence Taylor won, and so Akebono
continues the tradition of having non-wrestlers (sorry, non- PRO wrestlers)
going over the guys that put in 300-plus appearances a year for this
Jason Clevett: Will Akebono continue the tradition of
guys like Mr. T, Lawrence Taylor and Butterbean and beat the company's
guy? I don't know. I'll be in the bathroom. Winner: Big Show
Jon Waldman: If it's a legit bout, Akebono wins. If
it's fixed, Akebono wins and Show slams him afterward.
| Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Eddy Guererro
Bob Kapur: Eddy
John Milner: Match of the night as Eddie turns heel, making
for an interesting few weeks for the tag title situation.
Jason Clevett: This should be a red hot opener and a
hell of a contest. Winner: Guerrero
Steve Rennie: Could be a match of the year candidate
if theyre given enough time. Rey wins with Chavos interference.
Jon Waldman: Hmm...Psychosis, Super Crazy and possibly
Junventud Guererra are supposedly headed to WWE. Methinks Chavo is reforming
the lWo, who will interfere in this match and get the DDQ.
Smackdown! vs. Raw: Guererro came out on top in this
-- compiled by Jon WaldmanScott Zerr's WrestleMania picks
Tim Baines' WrestleMania picks
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