(Editor’s note: I apologize on behalf of 4SportBoston for this random, non-Boston moment. Chas and Patrick INSISTED on using this outlet to come out the WWE closet.)
I enjoy watching pro wrestling.
There, I said it.
I know that keeps me in line with teenagers and rednecks, but whatever. I also enjoy NASCAR and country music. I have some peccadilloes that make me unique and I am okay with that.
With those revelations in mind, I feel no shame in announcing that today is one of my favorite days of the year. It is Wrestlemania Day. Ever since I was a little kid, through the years my mom and dad banned me from watching wrestling because I used my little brother to practice what I saw and through college where my roommates and I would order Wrestlemania every year, I have always anxiously awaited the “Showcase of the Immortals.”
Once you get past the pre-ordained nature of the sport and the fact that at its core, pro wrestling is a bunch of men in underpants throwing each other around, the athleticism, passion and sheer ridiculousness of the whole thing is just fun to watch. Where else can you watch two men fight over shiny belts in their underpants? Maybe Project Runway, but that is it.
So, judge me as you will, but I make no apologies. Vince McMahon is a genius and runs perhaps the model entertainment company in the world today. Are there issues with the world of pro wrestling? Sure, namely drug use and injury. The same can be said for the NFL, MLB, NBA. Vince McMahon has been chugging along for almost 30 years, pretty much printing money with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, John Cena and the Undertaker drawing millions of fans each year around the world to his product. Along the way, perhaps no franchise in the United States has done as much charitable work with groups like Make A Wish and there is no question that the WWE is at the forefront of supporting our troops. Each year they head overseas to the Middle East for a week. I don’t see Major League Baseball holding a week of games in Kabul.
Anyways, to me, the WWE is pure entertainment. I enjoy laughing at the hijinx and staring in awe at the showstopping moves these guys pull out. And there is no better chance to witness all that the WWE has to offer than Wrestlemania.
This is the marquee event that the WWE puts on every year. Its biggest matches and most blood-thirsty feuds come to fruition at Wrestlemania and this year is no different. Multiple titles are on the line as are livelihoods and perhaps the biggest streak in the history of sports entertainment.
In order to properly preview Wrestlemania, I called upon Patrick M. to help me out. He and I watched a few Wrestlemania’s while in college together and he is always good to help shed light on what may happen. So, for those unknowing in the ways of the squared circle, here is a preview of each match tonight and our predictions on who will win. Check back on Monday for the results. Whoever picks more matches correctly gets to DDT the other one.
WWE Championship Match
Batista (Champion) vs. John Cena
This match is a highly personal encounter between the WWE’s golden boy, John Cena, and Batista, a giant monster who is on a rampage. Cena, a Massachusetts native (see Craig, this story is about Boston) is a movie star and multi-media mogul. Batista is jealous that he isn’t the chosen one of the WWE who gets all the extra love. Cena won the WWE
Championship in February and Batista came out right after the match and beat him to steal the belt. Boom. Instant feud over the title, money and fame. Pro Wrestling’s oldest storyline at the biggest stage of them all.
Chas: Have to go with John Cena here. He is the biggest moneymaker for the WWE and is as close to old school Hulk Hogan as it gets. Batista claims Cena can’t beat him and that whenever they are in the ring together Cena gets hurt. Look for Cena to add something he has never done before to overcome the big fella. This could be pretty violent and steal the show.
Patrick: What, did you really think I was going to pick against my hometown boy? C’mon, we grew up together. He and his brothers are awesome. And he’s literally the only famous person from West Newbury, MA, in the world. You know, until I get elected President. Or get caught in some massive tax evasion scandal. One of the two. Plus, Batista is the single worst big-time WWE wrestler of the last 20 years. I have no idea why he’s popular or why Vince pushes him.
World Heavyweight Championship Match
Chris Jericho (Champion) vs. Edge
Ahhh the classic “Ex-tag team partners looking to settle the score” bout. Throw in the fact that both guys are Canadian and you have a recipe for awesomeness. Seriously, pretty much the best wrestlers ever are Canadian. Check it out. Anyways, Jericho – the son of ex-NHL player Ted Irvine (see, more real sports) is the champ and on a roll as the cocky, assh*le heel. Ever since his tag partner Edge got hurt, Jericho has been claiming that he was the one carrying the team and did so much better when Edge went to the sidelines. BAMMO, Edge comes back at the Royal Rumble, wins and earns the automatic title shot at Wrestlemania. Guess who he chooses? This battle has centered around Edge claiming his finishing move – the spear – has no defense. Jericho says he won’t hit it. Feel the drama.
Chas: I know we are supposed to love the good guys and boo the bad guys. That being said, I have a serious man crush on Chris Jericho. Maybe it is because he is the son of a hockey player. More likely it is because he is the funniest guy in the business and always puts on a good show. I feel like he will outsmart the overexcited Edge in the end and go on a serious run with the title.
Patrick: I am going with Edge. Why? In the battle of the Canucks, always bet against the dude who participated in “Celebrity Duets” on Fox. However, Jericho does get points for having the single-best entrance of anyone in the WWE of the last, oh, 10 years, outside of HHH.
Career vs. Streak
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker
Only in pro wrestling could a match between two guys over 40 that is going for the second year in a row be the most anticipated on the card. Last year, The Undertaker defeated Michaels in a great match. This year, Michaels wants his revenge. The storyline here is that Michaels fancies himself “Mr. Wrestlemania” and feels his loss to ‘Taker hurts that rep. The Undertaker is 17-0 at Wrestlemania over his career, a streak that is his legacy. Undertake didn’t want the rematch and only agreed if Shawn Michaels put his career on the line.
Chas: The streak will never die, and if it does it will be to someone who needs to have ending the run associated with him. I am going with the Undertaker. This match can only end via pin or submission, allowing for some shenanigans. Don’t worry about the whole retirement thing for Michaels. Retirements in pro wrestling last only as long as celebrity marriages. Michaels could lose tonight and be on Raw and win the world championships tomorrow.
Patrick: – The streak is too important. At this point, it’d be like Davey Johnson sitting Ripken in 96 against Ripken’s wishes for Luis Polonia. Vince just won’t do that, not even for Shawn. That being said, I’m not even sure how the Undertaker moves anymore. I remember where I was when I watched his debut in WWF at Survivor Series 1992. That was when I was 10. I’m 28 now. That’s… sad. Plus, I’m still angry about Shawn Michaels throwing Marty Jannetty through the plate glass window of the Barbershop, destroying The Rockers (my single favorite tag team in the history of professional wrestling), and sending my personal life into a tailspin for a month at age 9 on January 12, 1992. Yes, I’m still upset about this. No, I will never get over this.
No Holds Barred
Bret Hart vs. Mr. McMahon
This is a match 13 years in the making. In 1997, Vince McMahon, then pretty much a behind the scenes kind of guy in the WWE, ordered for the ref to call the bell in a Bret Hart-Shawn Michaels match in Montreal, giving Michaels the win. The deal here was that Hart was leaving for WCW and McMahon was worried if Hart still had the belt he might take it and disparage WWE on live TV. He did what he felt was right for the WWE. Still, it looked terrible and was a big FU to Bret Hart after his years of service. On the plus side, it made Mr. McMahon a huge heel and made the WWE millions of dollars over the next decade. Now, Bret Hart is back for his revenge. Albeit this is a Bret Hart who has suffered a stroke and is about 50 years old. Anyways, look for lots of punching and strangling and a pretty excited crowd.
Chas: Bret Hart will win here in pretty dominating fashion. Sure, Vince will get some shots in, but in the end Hart will get his Sharpshooter on and Vince will tap. I just hope Bret’s dad Stu gets in the ring and gets a few licks in. I only wish Owen were here.
Patrick: Why? Payback is a bitch, Vince. This is for all 40,000 screaming Montrealians in 1997 who had their hearts ripped out. Plus, did I own a pair of Bret Hart glasses for 2 years around the age of 12 and rock them most everywhere I went? Yes, yes I did.
CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio
CM Punk is the bad guy here. He lives a straight-edge lifestyle (for real) and his storyline is that he is trying to get all the wrestlers to give up drugs, drinking and carousing to be clean like him. I am not sure how Rey Mysterio fits in except that he has been suspended for drugs a few times. Anyways, these two are great athletes and should put on a good show. If Mysterio loses, he has to join the Straight-Edge Society.
Chas: Punk is at the top of his game right now, playing the creepy, weird heel to the best of his ability. Still, you don’t have one of your more popular guys go bad at the biggest stage of them all. Look for Punk to score a fluke win here to keep this great feud going.
Patrick: – Why? Because I have absolutely no idea who CM punk is. Plus, I’ve always hearted Rey, esp since we went with Weiss to that WWE event my junior year at MCI where Weiss wore the Mysterio mask, and then proceeded to wear it while working at Vittles.(Ed. Note: Patrick is wrong here. It was a Hurricane Helms mask and cape, not Mysterio. We both bought them and would wear them at work while playing the theme song. Yes, we were 21 years old and we didn’t care. We usually were about seven Jack and Cokes in.)
Tag Team Titles
The Miz/Big Show vs. John Morrison and R-Truth
The Miz may be better known to people from his days on The Real World and all those Real World/Road Rules Challenges. Now, he is a pretty successful pro wrestler who is a tag team champion with The Big Show who was in The Water Boy with Adam Sandler. Tonight, they meet The Miz’ old tag team partner John Morrison and R-Truth. Morrison’s gimmick is that he is like Jim Morrison, all trippy and rock-star. R-Truth raps his way to the ring. I kid you not. Anyways, they are all pretty good wrestlers and this should be fun.
Chas: I am going with Morrison and R-Truth. They have been getting the better of Miz/Show lately and have a chance to shine. Plus, Miz is the United States Champion as well and his star is growing enough that he should be focused on as a singles wrestler. Look for the Big Show to set up his big knockout punch and hit Miz instead. Classic heel tag team blunder.
Patrick: Because when push comes to shove, I will never pick against a 2-time winner of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge. Plus, the dude dated Trishelle. Do we really think he won’t be able to handle these 2 people, whoever the hell they are? I say no.
Triple H vs. Sheamus
Two men who trained to be pro wrestlers in Massachusetts (see, another reason this is important to you) do battle on the biggest stage of the sport. Triple H is the veteran superstar who has done it all. Sheamus is the pasty white Irishman who is a rookie but has already won the WWE Championship. Now, he wants to prove he has what it takes to defeat “The Game” at Wrestlemania.
Chas: It is always hard to go against Triple H. He is arguably the greatest of this generation and this may be a case where he teaches the rookie a lesson. Hopefully Sheamus doesn’t get frazzled in front of 70,000 people and this lives up to what it could be. As long as Triple H brings out the sledgehammer, I will be happy.
Patrick: I am going with Sheamus. – Because ever since Vince has claimed to institute steroid testing in the WWE, HHH has lost about 70 pounds and all his will to live. He does get to go home to Stephanie McMahon at the end of the night, though.
Triple Threat Match
Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhode vs. Ted Dibiase
All three of these guys used to be in a group called Legacy. It was named that way because all three are the sons of former Hall of Fame pro wrestlers. Then, after a while Rhodes and Dibiase tired of Orton being a big bully and turned on him. However, in the process Orton became the good guy fans cheered for and the other two became the heels. Only in pro wrestling… Anyways, the theme here is that Orton is really against both guys. But, beware one of the other two turning on each other to get the big win.
Chas: I am going with Orton. He is the only true star here and the fans are geeking over him big time. With the late storyline adding in Rhodes and Dibiase each saying they will get the win, my guess is one is close to the victory then the other breaks it up. They argue and Orton snipes in with his RKO for the win. Or maybe it is all a setup and Rhodes joins with Orton and they punk Dibiase big time.
Patrick: As someone who actively dislikes all 3 of these people, I base my decision on the relative strengths of their fathers as WWF wrestlers. Cowboy Bob Orton sucked and was painfully boring, Dusty Rhodes was fat and terrible and spawned Dustin Rhodes/ie: Goldust, who was the single creepiest character ever created by Vince and co. (I mean, seeing a transvestite Rupaul-esque wrestler at age 10 was something that shatters your psyche, you know?). However, the Million Dollar Man? He was LEGIT. I won’t hold Virgil or Irwin R. Scheyster against him.(Ed. Note: IRS was the man. Patrick doesn’t know what he is talking about. A guy who is an evil tax man is as bad as a bad guy can get.)
Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Evan Bourne vs. Kane vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Matt Hardy vs. MVP vs. Christian vs. Drew McIntyre
This is a Wrestlemania staple the past few years. It is a ladder match with the winner climbing the ladder to retrieve a contract good for a title match anytime in the next year. Everyone who has ever won this match has then won when they cashed in the contract. That is the storyline. There is no feud or anything, just 10 guys looking to make “the leap” to the next level. Expect lots of great moves and innovative violence. What more do you need?
Chas: Despite there being 10 guys in the match, only four have a chance to win. Christian won’t because he doesn’t need the push to be popular. Drew McIntyre is on a losing streak and just isn’t really good despite the WWE thinking he is. Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger are the only two legit candidates. Kingston (also trained in Boston) was on a hot streak for a while before slowing down. He has shown he is capable of hanging with the true stars and a win could elevate him to that level for good. Swagger is a big, athletic youngster (former two-time All-America at Oklahoma in wrestling) and needs one final jump to get into the higher echelon of performers. The problem with Swagger is he talks with a lisp. No offense to people with speech issues, but if your job requires talking in front of large groups of people, you need to fix that. I am going with Kingston. Alos, expect Shelton Benjamin to do something insane. He is in the WWE because of this match and every year creates a new way to make me poop my pants. Just go You Tube “Shelton Benjamin Money in the Bank.” Do it now.
Patrick: Because a) I have no idea who any of these dudes are outside of Kane or Matt Hardy or Benjamin, and b) as a huge fan of “Boogie Nights” and “Rocky IV” I support anyone who creates his stagename from a mix of Dolph Lundgren and Dirk Diggler.
There you have it. Patrick’s and my thoughts on a fake sport. I really hope my girlfriend still talks to me tomorrow.