It’s time! It’s time! It’s Wrestlemania time!
Welcome to the two-part, all encompassing Wrestlemania preview. I am your host The RAW Librarian and I will be joined by KOBEshigawa in breaking down the twenty-ninth annual, Granddaddy of em all. We are going to run down the final card, giving our thoughts on the presumed winners and losers as well as providing some analysis on which direction Vinny Mac would be wisest to pursue. Tomorrow, we’ll get to the man events, but in today’s post, we’ll touch on the still very important undercard.
Intercontinental Championship: Miz vs. Wade Barrett
Prediction: Miz wins via an improved Figure-four.
Why does the Miz winning make sense?
The Raw Librarian: This match makes me feel sad inside. The Intercontinental strap, once held with prestige by Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Steve Austin and Chris Jericho….now relegated to jobber status. This is my only “eh” match on the entire card. I feel like Wade Barrett and Miz are the same wrestlers in Vince’s eyes. They both receive arbitrary pushes every now and then but never get the kind of support Jack Swagger is currently getting. I feel bad doing this on the very first match we’re previewing, but I don’t care who wins this match. Like at all. It literally makes no difference which wrestler has the belt. I’m not a big Wade Barrett fan, but even I feel for what they’ve put this guy through on TV. He’s holding what is supposed to be the third most important belt in the company, but he loses clean anytime Randy Orton or Ryback need to get a television win.
KOBEsh: I’m of the same thoughts as my colleague here for the most part, except these two are going to put on a decent match. He’s right: it doesn’t matter who wins or loses. Either man is going to stay relegated at the top of the midcard, fighting the Kofi Kingstons and R-Truths of the world. I expect that the next heel challenger of Cena will be of the Daniel Bryan, Antonio Cesaro or Randy Orton ilk–so rather than using this match or title as a stepping stone towards the main event, I just see this as a way to include both wrestlers on the card. I suppose Wade Barrett has a little more to gain by being free of the IC belt and moving up the infrastructure of the company, but with all those in front of them, I find it hard to see. The Miz wins here, but neither man truly wins.
Should it be booked differently?
TRL: Like I said, both these wrestlers are pretty much at the same spot in the company. Both guys have flirted with the main event scene but for whatever reason, they aren’t considered on the same level as Cena, Punk, Sheamus, Del Rio. Again, it doesn’t matter who wins this match. The only thing I care about is treating the title with respect. The Intercontinental and United States champion should (almost) never lose a clean match on television. I’ll talk more about treating titles with respect when we preview Antonio Cesaro’s match. Oh wait, no I won’t.
Why does Team Hell No retain?
TRL: This match was thrown together at the last minute, presumably just to give the participants something to do. Daniel Bryan and Kane have teased splitting up but appear to be back on the same page. On the other side of the ring Ziggler and Big E are odd challengers for the tag team titles. Langston has been great in his role as Ziggler’s enforcer, the Diesel to your Heart Break Kid if you will. The more interesting question rather than who will win/retain is “will Dolph Ziggler be the first person to cash in his Money in the Bank contract at Wrestlemania?” I’m going to employ a reverse jinx and say that no he will not.
Why do Dolph and Big E win it?
KOBEsh: I’ve held that while Dolph Ziggler has a lot going for him, I’m selling stock in his main event potential. That being said, time is running thin on the WWE’s opportunity to pull the trigger on a Money in the Bank cash-in. He’s a popular wrestler with both the fans and I”m sure with the company because of his tantalizing package of looks and athleticism, but the shine is wearing off. Ziggler has been doing too little for too long.
Any prediction for this match rests solely on whether or not you believe Dolph is going to get his title shot on Sunday. The timing doesn’t look right to me. A Swagger loss to Del Rio looks unlikely considering how big of a push they’ve given him, and losing the title just minutes after he wins it looks even more unlikely. In the mean time, it feels that Team Hell No has run it’s course and it’s high time for a Bryan/Kane feud. I see the WWE giving Dolph and Big E something else to focus on while Zigs waits for his shot at the title, even if it’s for a few days.
Should it be booked differently?
TRL: Daniel Bryan and Kane should keep the tag straps until there is a formidable team that will defend the titles on a weekly basis. That team is not Ziggler and Big E.
KOBEsh: No, Dolph and Big E should win the straps. The WWE doesn’t care about the tag belts–what does it matter if a team wins it and then either that night or later on RAW or Smackdown one of the members wins a more prestigious title? I see their victory as more of a red herring than anything else.
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
Why does Fandango win?
TRL: Hard to talk about this one without having seen Fandango wrestle before. From what I’m told, Johnny Curtis actually is a pretty good wrestler. Apparently he had a good run on seasons four and five of NXT, which I’m going to have to take people’s words for it. The dirt sheets seem to indict that Vince McMahon is really high on the gimmick and wants to push the Fandango character hard. Having your debut match at Wrestlemania against Chris Jericho would seem to be a pretty good indicator that Fandago will be given every opportunity to get over. I hate gimmicks and I hate the idea of an unknown debuting at the biggest show of the year, but I’m taking a wait and see approach with this one. Besides Daniel Bryan or CM Punk, if there’s anyone that can carry this young kid to a good match, it’s Chris Jericho. Fandango gets a cheap victory and I continue to fall more and more in love with his silent dance partner.
KOBEsh: Because Fandango has to win. This is really such a feast or famine proposition for the guy: he’s been set up with a debut match at Wrestlemania with one of the greatest workers of his generation, not to mention a living, breathing Hall of Famer. The fact that he’s wrestling his maiden bout with a main event caliber guy like Jericho rather than say, the Miz or Mark Henry gives him a world of credibility. If he succeeds, he makes a giant splash and on the most giant of stages. If he fails? It’s a monumental bust from a gimmick that many people are very, very tepid about to begin with. Honestly, if he lays a stinker at ‘Mania, he may never recover.
Fan-dan-go doesn’t just have to win–he’s got to win while looking good. Silently, strangely, this is a big match on the card considering what’s at stake for a young performer.
Should it be booked differently?
TRL: This is a matter of opinion. Chris Jericho is going back on tour with his band, so he is either going to be making sporadic appearances or will completely be off of television. Fandango is Vinnie Mac’s new toy and appears to be in line for a big push. There are two ways of thinking about this one: does the WWE reward Chris Jericho for being a work horse all those years with a Wrestlemania victory? Or do they give the new kid a monster push by giving him a win over an established superstar at the biggest show of the year? If Jericho isn’t going to be on television, and Fandango actually CAN wrestle, I say you put him over. Yes he’s unproven and yes Fandango could turn out to be a huge bust, but I think it is worth the risk.
KOBEsh: As I mentioned, there’s no other way to look at this. Fandango needs this in so many ways, while Y2J doesn’t need it at all.
Ryback vs. Mark Henry
Why does Ryback win?
TRL: Vinnie Mac is going to be watching this match with a full-on chub. There is nothing that he likes better than having two big hosses going at one another in the ring. I have to admit, I’m pretty excited for this one as well. I’m a big fan of Mark Henry’s and I like Ryback just fine. No, I don’t like how he’s been forced down our throats, but I like how he appears to be a student of the game. You can take everything you read off the dirtsheets with a grain of salt, but from what I’ve read, Ryback likes to pick the brains of veteran wrestlers like CM Punk. You can see Ryback improving before your eyes in every match. Obviously he still has a long way to go, but I like what I’m seeing so far.
KOBEsh: I’m much more all-in on Ryback. The guy carries himself like a star, the crowd seems to like him and he’s got enough technical chops to wrestle a damn good match with the right opponent. The former Skip Sheffield’s push has been noticeably bogged down since his rampage to the top of the card with losses to The Shield, as well as being eliminated last at the Royal Rumble. While this match may be a bit slow, Henry is the right opponent for Ryback to score a strong win against in a march back to the main event.
Should it be booked differently?
TRL: Both guys could use a victory here. Mark Henry’s 91 day run with the World Championship was a thing of pure dominance. If there is any interest in putting him back in the World Title hunt, he needs this victory. However, his stature with the company is more secure than Ryback’s, therefore, he is positioned better to deal with a loss.
Ryback is over. He is at a point where he has been made and he is here to stay. However, he’s been pushed too quickly and that some minor changes need to be made to his character if Vince is serious about keeping him with the main eventers. If he stays the same bland babyface, eventually the fans will turn. What did all that have to do with this match? A Ryback victory would be in the WWE’s best interest. He is clearly being positioned to borrow a phrase to be “the next big thing.” At this point, he needs the Mania victory more than Henry does.
TRL: Solid point. As much as Ryback needs this W to establish momentum, Mark Henry also does to a lesser extent. He’s been out with injury for so long that other than nerds like myself and MAMBINO’s librarian, perhaps people have forgotten about how dominant the big man was before extensive surgery.
Still, as the young buck, Ryback needs the win. I wouldn’t book it any other way.
Orton, Sheamus and Big Show vs. The Shield
Why would The Shield win?
TRL: Because someone on the super-team has got to turn. Everyone and their mother is predicting a Randy Orton heel turn. Classic storyline laws would indicate that it will be the Big Show who is doing the turning. Like my man Mr. Tito wrote in his Wrestlemania preview, it doesn’t make any sense for any of those guys joining and becoming the leader of The Shield. Tito argues for a new Dangerous Alliance stable with Paul Heyman managing Brock Lesnar, CM Punk and Rollins, Ambrose and Reigns. Um yes, sign me up yesterday for that. However, Vince doesn’t have the balls to pull the trigger on that one. That would mean more television dates and more money for Lesnar and with no real competition to force his hand (sorry TNA) there is no reason in Vince’s head to take a risk.
KOBEsh: The Shield has to win because other than wrapping up the storyline with a neat little bow, there’s no reason for them to lose. But it is Wrestlemania, right? Isn’t that what happens?
I agree with TRL–this match is all about the turn. I am not sure whether it’s Big Show or Orton here, but I doubt the WWE would turn Sheamus considering his massive popularity. Still, that would be quite the swerve…
Should it be booked differently?
TRL: The Shield deserve the victory, as they actually wrestle fundamentally and employ team work as a strategy. On the other hand, Orton, Sheamus and Show aren’t a stable. They are just a dream team thrown together to try and stop The Shield from running rampant all over World Wrestling Entertainment. Look for chemistry issues with the Big Show to cost his team the match. Although they are young, The Shield is already established. They were “made” after their initial match against Team Hell No and Ryback, so even if they received their first loss at Wrestlemania against three of the top draws in the company, it wouldn’t set them back too far.
Also, I would mark out hard if the Dangerous Alliance scenario came to fruition, but I’m not holding my breath.
KOBEsh: The Shield don’t need the win here, so if they were to lose, they’d have to quickly regain the upper hand with a turn by one of their opponents or a mastermind behind their team that’s a significant player. They’re a very solid, young team that keeps attention on them by being able to claim they’ve never won a match. Taking away that gimmick from them when it still has legs doesn’t seem like the most prudent decision.
However, I would book The Shield with another strong win AND also not giving them a leader. The stable works so well in its uniqueness because they are a leader-less unit. Adding a main event guy as the focal point would really water down what’s been so special about them.
That’s it for today–check in tomorrow for Part 2 when we tackle the Main Event picture.