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Countdown to WrestleMania 21
By 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



SLAM! Predictions

  • Bob Kapur
    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.

  • John Milner
    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.

  • Jason Clevett
    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..

  • Steve Rennie
    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 Dave’s shortcomings? Batista should be getting a Goldberg-like push, running roughshod over everyone in his path. Instead, he’s struggling to beat Mabel. What’s next, the long-awaited Batista-Adam Bomb feud? I’m going with Batista here, but only because I know that when Triple H regains the big belt next month, he’ll be that much closer to being a 384,906,704,397-time World champ.

  • Jon Waldman
    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


    SLAM! Predictions

  • Bob Kapur
    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.

  • John Milner
    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.

  • Jason Clevett
    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.

  • Steve Rennie
    Of the two main events,I’m 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 isn’t 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.

  • Jon Waldman
    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 some shenanigans.

  • Smackdown! vs. Raw
    Going it alone, JBL scored the pinfall victory
    LEGENDS OF OUR TIME MATCH


    Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels


    SLAM! Predictions

  • Bob Kapur
    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.

  • John Milner
    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.

  • Jason Clevett
    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

  • Steve Rennie
    This is the match I’m 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 Angle’s neck, but I doubt either man will let injuries get in the way of a potential classic. If this is Angle’s ‘Mania swan song, I hope he picks up the win with help from Jannetty for purely selfish reasons: I’ll never get tired of watching Marty parade around in those silly tassels.

  • Jon Waldman
    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 match.

  • Smackdown! vs. Raw
    Without Luther Reigns by his side, Kurt Angle took the match.
    INTERPROMOTIONAL MATCH

    Undertaker vs. Randy Orton


    SLAM! Predictions

  • Bob Kapur
    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.

  • John Milner
    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.

  • Jason Clevett
    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.

  • Steve Rennie
    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. I’ve 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.

  • Jon Waldman
    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
    OTHER MATCHES
    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 this idea.
  • 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 contract.
  • 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. Christy Hemme
  • 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 feud.
  • 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 by Victoria
  • 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 company.
  • 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 they’re given enough time. Rey wins with Chavo’s 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 heated bout.
  • -- compiled by Jon Waldman



    RELATED LINKS

  • Scott Zerr's WrestleMania picks
  • Tim Baines' WrestleMania picks
  • More on WrestleMania 21


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