For many wrestling fans, the anticipation for WrestleMania begins the moment the previous WrestleMania ends. And now we’re just a few hours away.
I was interviewed yesterday by Nick Malone of Hofstra Radio’s “Over the Ropes” program, and he asked how I thought this WrestleMania would be remembered. I told him that it really all depends on the performance of two men – the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels.
Yes, there are other big matches on the show that help make the show a hit or a miss. But, in the end, it’s the rematch between Taker and Michaels that will decide WrestleMania XXVI’s place in history. If the match lives up to, or surpasses, its ridiculously high expectations, then the show may remembered as one of the very best WrestleManias of all time, regardless of the night’s other matches. If the match is a disappointment, then almost nothing WWE can do on the rest of the card could make up for it.
What’s amazing is that a WrestleMania rematch between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker wasn’t even on fans’ radar a few short months ago. Most fans assumed WWE was heading in the direction of a Taker-John Cena match at this year show. And now, Taker-Michaels II is not only the most anticipated match on tonight’s show, it may be one of the most anticipated matches in WrestleMania history.
As for the rest of the card, I’ve heard a lot of people say that this is one of the greatest WrestleMania line ups in history. That look like the case on paper, but there are a number of matches that could potentially fall flat tonight.
The Money in the Bank ladder match is always guaranteed to deliver some thrills, but I’ll be surprised if it was as good as previous years’ editions. With ten contestants, there’s a good chance this will devolve into quite the cluster-you-know-what, with way too many guys doing too many things in ways that don’t look believable.
Show Miz vs. R-Truth & John Morrison will be adequate, but nothing special. Same for Triple-H vs. Sheamus, which probably won’t be given enough time for Triple-H to deliver the kind of drawn out, saga of a match that he’s best at. The members of Legacy have wrestled each other too many times in various combinations leading up to WrestleMania, that it will be hard to get excited about tonight’s triple threat match. There’s now a throw-away ten Divas tag team match that won’t help the show any. And Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon could either be really, really fun, or really, really awful.
The rest of the card has more potential. Even with just eight minutes or so, Rey Mysterio and C.M. Punk are capable of putting together a really intense match. Chris Jericho vs. Edge may not have the kind of buzz going into tonight as some of the other big matches, but that may only drive them to over-deliver, and that’s a good thing. And I fully expect John Cena and Batista to bring it home with an epic, WrestleMania-worthy main event.
A final note about match order. WWE’s had some success in recent years in kicking off the show with the ladder match. I think it’s a good strategy in that it gets fans revved up right at the beginning of the event. Another good option is the tag team title match, which will likely go over better in the opening slot than later in the show.
And although earlier this week I wrote about how the Taker-Michaels match deserves the respect of going on last, after thinking about it some more, I’m now OK with it going on somewhere in the middle of the show. Very often, the audience – both live and watching on TV – can be burnt out after sitting through more than three hours of action. And so I’d rather the Michaels-Taker match go on early, in front of a crowd that will be totally hungry for it, rather than risk fans being a little worn about by the time the match hits the ring. Cena and Batista can close out the show.
It should be a good one. I'll try to be back soon after the event with my review. Enjoy the show everyone!