DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 08: WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan flys off the ropes during the WWE Smackdown Live Tour at Westridge Park Tennis Stadium on July 08, 2011 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
WrestleMania 28 will take place on Sunday, April 1. We run down the full card and offer predictions, as well as reasons to care.
It's that time again. WrestleMania 28 will finally arrive Sunday, emanating from Miami. In every sense, the annual event is the Super Bowl of professional wrestling, with theatrics and spectacle that will put that whole "Madonna has a guy on a tightrope" thing to shame. This year features a Washington native defending a world title in his first-ever WrestleMania match, so there's really no reason not to order the pay-per-view. Except, you know, if you don't want to spend the money or something.
In case you haven't been paying attention for the past few months/years/ever, I developed a handy-dandy primer for you to take a look at. Now that the glorious day is nearly upon us, I'm pleased to present a complete rundown of the card and my predictions for each match. Keep in mind that I'm no expert, so if you're thinking of putting money down on any of these matches ... well, you've got an unscrupulous bookie, because wrestling is fake.
The actual order of these matches won't be known until the event actually takes place, but I'll start with what is the match you should care the least about and work my way up to the main event. I'll try to add some reasons why you should care along the way, but your mileage may (and will) vary.
Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix & Eve
OK, so this isn't really selling WrestleMania very strong, but bear with me here. This match features Kelly Kelly,
the lady so nice they named her twice a wrestler who used to be an exhibitionist during the ill-fated "new" ECW but now has the gimmick of "nice lady who smiles," teaming up with Maria Menounos, the host of "Extra," who is not actually a wrestler. She's in the match because WWE loves celebrities to be at WrestleMania and Maria Menounos fills the absolute lowest criteria of being a celebrity. She's maybe half a step up from Joe the Plumber. They will be taking on Beth Phoenix, who is a strong and mean lady and the Divas champion, and her partner Eve, who is wrapped up in a storyline so mindlessly idiotic that the less you know about it, the better.
Prediction: The nice ladies beat the mean ladies.
Why you should care: You shouldn't and you don't. This is what is known as a "popcorn match" and will be inserted near the top of the card between the best match and the biggest match so the crowd can relax for a couple minutes so they're not too burnt out to cheer for the actual end of the show. Seriously. That is literally why this match exists.
Randy Orton vs. Kane
Randy Orton was supposed to be injured at WrestleMania, but came back earlier than expected. Since he's one of the very biggest stars in the company (no, really!), they had to find a match for him. So we get this. Kane is wearing a mask again and has a new finishing move where he grabs the middle of someone's face and the whole thing is just lousy. This match could be awful, or it could be "surprisingly OK," but it will most likely be forgettably acceptable. Let's all just hope it's under 10 minutes long.
Prediction: Randy Orton will win, because otherwise the feud will continue and oh god no
Why you should care: Randy Orton can get insanely enthusiastic reactions from a crowd, so if the match is good enough (closer to "surprisingly OK"), it will be fun to watch 80,000 people go absolutely bonkers for something. Also, hey, maybe you really like Kane and are excited about seeing him in the mask again. Whatever, man. I'm not here to judge.
Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny
So evil Raw general manager John Laurinaitis and evil SmackDown! general manager Teddy Long hate each other, because Laurinaitis is a bad guy and Long is a good guy. In this match, they're each championing a team of six wrestlers in a 12-person tag team match. I was hoping it would be an elimination match, because elimination matches are awesome (we've all been watching a month-long elimination match in the NCAA Tournament, after all), but it looks like it's just a regular tag. The winner of this match takes over GM responsibilities for both shows, which makes sense because the brand isn't split any more.
The participants for Team Johnny are team captain David Otunga, "The World's Strongest Man" Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Drew McIntyre and The Miz. If you don't know who most of those people are, it's OK. Just remember that all of them are super-great except Drew McIntyre, who sucks.
The participants for Team Teddy are team captain and United States Champion Santino Marella, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Booker T, Zack Ryder and the Great Khali. If you don't know who most of those people are, it's OK. Neither does Vince McMahon.
Prediction: Team Johnny wins, because things are much more interesting if he wins and takes control of the shows.
Why you should care: This match has the greatest possibility of being either a train wreck or a sleeper match. The Team Johnny side is stacked with people who can both take hellacious beatings and dish them out and look good doing either one, while the Team Teddy side is stacked with a couple of OK wrestlers. All right, this one might be really bad. But it could also be really, really fun. But probably bad.
Intercontinental Championship: Cody Rhodes (c) vs. The Big Show
Let's all just be peeved for a moment that we were robbed of a possible match between the Big Show and Shaq. Cody Rhodes has been mocking the Big Show for weeks about how the "World's Largest Athlete" has only ever made an ass of himself at past WrestleManias and has been -- pardon my French here -- a real jerkface about it. Naturally, the Big Show wants to clean every clock Rhodes has ever owned, while Rhodes is cocky enough to think he can beat the giant.
Prediction: The Big Show, as documented, has never been afraid to show ass at WrestleMania (in at least one unfortunate instance, literally). Him winning a secondary title wouldn't mean as much as Cody beating him, so I'm picking Cody here.
Why you should care: Few people in wrestling right now are as good at making you want to see them get beat up as Cody Rhodes. Regardless of whether he wins, he will be getting his block knocked off in this one.
World Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Sheamus
Aberdeen's own Daniel Bryan will carry the World Heavyweight Championship into WrestleMania to defend it against this year's Royal Rumble winner, Sheamus. Just one year ago, these two were bumped off the WrestleMania 27 main card and relegated to the pre-show. Now they're in a match that may very well end up going on last.
Prediction: I really, really, really want Daniel Bryan to win this one. That said, Sheamus will probably win the title here. If the match goes on last, you can guarantee Sheamus is winning.
Why you should care: Beyond the local ties, Daniel Bryan is likely one of the best wrestlers you've ever seen. If these guys have enough time to go out there and have the match they're capable of having, you may very well have your socks knocked entirely off of you. This may end up being the best match on the card.
WWE Championship: CM Punk (c) vs. Chris Jericho
CM Punk is one of the best things to happen to the WWE in years. Chris Jericho is one of the best things to happen to wrestling ever (his first autobiography notwithstanding). This is another match that could be absolutely incredible given enough time. I'm getting embarrassingly jazzed thinking about this match right now. wheeeeee
Prediction: Again, I really, really, really want CM Punk to win here, but it feels like Chris Jericho might take this one so the feud can stretch out longer. More of these two is never a bad thing.
Why you should care: BECAUSE THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME
The Undertaker vs. Triple H
The Undertaker (the Grave Digger of professional wrestling) is an unprecedented 19-0 at WrestleMania and his career is nearly at an end. This will be his first match since last year's WrestleMania and could very well be his last. The man he beat last year, Triple H, is also nearing the end of his career and was goaded into a rematch. This will be a twist on last year's fight, as Sunday's match will be a Hell in a Cell match, taking place in a steel cage with a roof on it, which means at some point they'll get up on top of the cage. The waters are further muddied with the inclusion of special guest referee Shawn Michaels.
Prediction: The Undertaker's streak, amazingly, is one of the few things that still matters in pro wrestling, so if he doesn't go to 20-0 this year it's an honest-to-goodness travesty. Triple H likely wouldn't win this one if he ran over his opponent with Grave Digger (the Undertaker of monster trucks).
Why you should care: Look, if you can't get amped up about two dangerously old dudes throwing each other into and off of a steel cage in front of tens of thousands of people, why have you even read this far?
John Cena vs. The Rock
Even if it doesn't go on last, this is the true main event of WrestleMania 28. The build-up has been god-awful, but the match itself should be OK-to-great. One of the biggest stars of all time coming back to wrestle the biggest star of the modern age? Even WWE can't screw this up.
Prediction: John Cena will win. The Rock can't see him.
Why you should care: Odds are good that if you ever watched wrestling in the 1990s, you were a fan of The Rock at some point. He does his best in big matches and they don't get much bigger than this. They'll give the fans something to remember.
Come on back to SB Nation Seattle on Sunday, as we will be providing live, match-by-match results of the whole shebang. If you have Twitter, you can also follow me @sundownmotel as I will be live-tweeting the event. Because that's just how I roll.