The Live Wire - By Tony Cottam

TLW: WrestleMania 25 Preview

Wow, it’s been a while since I wrote that little two word intro… Yes folks, those that care or remember, The Live Wire is back for a WrestleMania special! Some of you may even still be reading – as such, I claim the moral victory. A lot has happened since I put the keyboard away on a regular basis… names have risen to the top of the wrestling world, names have fallen from grace, and a few have gone to the great Squared Circle in the sky…

Well, hello.

Wow, it’s been a while since I wrote that little two word intro… Yes folks, those that care or remember, The Live Wire is back for a WrestleMania special! Some of you may even still be reading – as such, I claim the moral victory. A lot has happened since I put the keyboard away on a regular basis… names have risen to the top of the wrestling world, names have fallen from grace, and a few have gone to the great Squared Circle in the sky.

Still, I’m not here to dwell morbidly on the past. Hell, if I was, I’d be here all day – and I don’t have all day. Well, actually I do, but I’m just a lazy Mother-Hubbard…

It’s WrestleMania time, again! Something about this annual celebration of all things WWE, grabs you by the throat and makes you buzz like no other event can. The WWE do a superb job of marketing in general, but they really do shift up a gear for The Grandest Stage of Them All. Not sure if I need a TM logo after that, but I’ll plough on regardless, and blame Bret Hart if I get sued.

With the marketing job they do, this is the one PPV I allow myself to buy every year. It has to be done. It just HAS to. I don’t watch wrestling as religiously as I used to anymore; I always watch Raw live as there’s not really much else on TV at 2am on Monday nights and my son keeps me up to date with what I miss, and I read spoilers for all the shows to keep myself “in the loop”.

So what does WrestleMania have in store for us this year? Well, with my words earlier praising the build up that the WWE give to WrestleMania as an event, they haven’t done a great job in preparing a card in advance, as seems to be the norm these days. Allow me to sound like an old fogey for a second, but I remember WrestleMania matches were built up for weeks, if not months in advance – not just focusing on a few key matches and throwing the rest together in the last 2-3 weeks.

In any case, here’s what we KNOW we have at the moment, in no particular order other than as my rusty old brain can remember things. Oh, and before we start, I’d just like to air one more gripe – using AC/DC classic “Shoot to Thrill” as the theme is fantastic – but stop telling people it’s on the current Black Ice record! It’s on Back In Black, a record that no home is complete without. Music pedantry over, on with the wrasslin’

First BURNING question – What will Tazz do now? And will he go back to being just Taz with one Z when he inevitably jumps to TNA? Does he possibly have one last match left in him? Maybe… just maybe, we haven’t seen the last of the Tazmission. he’ll be a big loss on WWE television, as he was a smart commentator and understood both sides of the game, the in ring stuff, and how to translate that to the punters at home.

Anyhoo… I believe there’s some sort of pay per view event on over the weekend…

Unified Tag Team Championship Match
Primo & Carlito Colon vs. John Morrison & The Miz

There’s two ways I would send this. Miz & Morrison are by far the best tag team in the WWE today. They would obviously get the nod to unify the tag titles in my book… if that’s the way you were gonna go. However, in John Morrison, I see a HUGE star in the making. I’m talking Shawn Michaels level. Sooner or later, this team is gonna have to self destruct and Morrison is going to make the break. Miz is a hell of a lot better than he was and has improved hugely… but he’s still the Marty Jannetty of the team – and if you don’t know what that means, man, you make me feel old!

The question is when do they pull the trigger on Morrison again? He had a brief run as an ECW champion, more by necessity than invention, and I don’t think it was that bad. WrestleMania is a big stage, and what better way to kick start a solo run than have Miz and Morrison split in acrimony and launch the inevitable Miz vs. Morrison feud? As much as I love their promos together, I really think Morrison has to break away soon. It might not happen here, but I still see Carlito and Primo taking the win here.

25 Diva Battle Royal

You know what will keep me interested in this? Santino. Wherever Beth Phoenix goes, Santino is sure to be near, and he is the only thing that can make this car wreck waiting to happen worth watching. Well, that and the hope that Victoria makes an appearance… giggedy! Other than that, this is my designated Sandwich Match of the night. You know, the moment where you can head for the kitchen to make a sandwich safe in the knowledge you’re not going to miss much… Who will win? Meh, who cares? I’ll throw a name out there and say Maryse or Melina as Vince is pushing them to the moon right now. I know for sure it won’t be Katie Lea…

Intercontinental Title Match
JBL vs. Rey Mysterio

Wow, this feud has been epic. Oh yeah, feel the sarcasm dripping from my every word, folks. This is an example of what I was talking about earlier. This match has been thrown together at more or less the last moment, with Rey challenging JBL seemingly out of the blue, and having it announced by Michael “shades of” Cole during a match on Raw… well, it doesn’t lend itself to a classic build. Giving away the match for free on Raw the week of the show too? I see no logic in that at all.

I have bad feelings about this match. It’s going to be short (hopefully) and ugly, depending on which JBL turns up. If he can pull himself together long enough to care, he can put on a great brawl, and I would expect to see Rey bumping like a pinball for the big Texan. I can’t see past JBL keeping a hold of his title for the time being, unless his big announcement that will change wrestling forever is that he’s retiring… I’m still going for the JBL win. By cheating, natch. And then retiring undefeated to become commentator on Smackdown once again.

Money In The Bank Ladder Match
Kane vs. Mark Henry vs. Finlay vs. Christian vs. CM Punk vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. MVP vs. Kofi Kingston

The annual spot fest returns, and on paper, there’s a couple of names in this match that stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. Mark Henry – anyone see him climbing a ladder? Finlay? Even Kane? It’s good to have a power guy in there, I suppose, and my pick for that slot would be Kane. But there’s a few guys you would absolutely love to see in a match like this – that man John Morrison, maybe even Evan Bourne if he’s back to full fitness. This match is all about the spectacle rather than anything substantial.

If there can be a couple of feuds that come out of it as a result of double crosses – Royal Rumble style – then that’s a bonus, and I would personally look for a Punk/Kingston confrontation. As it stands this is gonna be 10-15 minutes of cringing at car crash style high spots and bumps and wondering if people are actually dead or just selling. You’re guaranteed that Hornswoggle is gonna get involved at some point, and I would look towards Christian or Benjamin to take the briefcase.

Extreme Rules Match
Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy

Anyone who remembers this column when it was – I was gonna say good, but I’m not sure that’s the right word for what I churned out… so we’ll go with regular – will know my feelings on the multi coloured fraggle gymnast that is Jeff Hardy. They haven’t mellowed with age, despite my son’s idolisation of him. I’m still firmly in the Matt Hardy camp, as for my money he is vastly under-rated. These two know each other better than anyone and I’m sure there will be no punches pulled and no spot too risky to try and steal the show.

Having said that, WrestleMania is usually about sending the fans home happy, and as there are more gullible fools willing to fork out for whatever cheap tat with Jeff Hardy’s face on it for their kids, you gotta think that the nod will go to Jeff, be it on merit or not. I’ve never been totally sold on Jeff’s main event credentials and I’m still not, but he is the one guy they have that pops a crowd like almost no other at the moment.

Legends Handicap Match
Superfly Jimmy Snuka & Ricky The Dragon Steamboat & Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Chris Jericho

The build up to this event – I refuse to call it a match – has been superbly booked. Jericho has been impeccable on screen during the build for WrestleMania. It’s a bit of a comedown for me that it’s a trio of guys – who deserve the Legend tag – who you have to think are gonna have trouble bumping at all that Jericho gets. Even with Flair at ringside, and the rumoured Mickey Rourke participation, it’s just an anti-climax for me.

I don’t know where they could have gone, or what route they could have taken to pay off this excellent angle, but it’s a case of the chase being greater than the end for me. We all know Jericho is either gonna win the match and get his comeuppance afterwards from Flair and/or Rourke or the aforementioned duo will cost Jericho the match. It’s not going to be a classic, but given the excellent acting of Jericho and all participants so far, the pay off should justify the weakness of the actual match. Just give Piper a mic again, please.

Triple Threat Match
World Heavyweight Championship
Edge vs. Big Show vs. John Cena

Now, sit down and prepare yourself. Cena’s promo work in the build for this has been excellent. No, it has – he’s put focus on the BELT rather than the issues. To an extent, Edge has too as his gimmick of being prepared to do anything – or in Vickie’s case anyone – to hang to a title has restored a little prestige to the actual championship.

Sure we’ve had the bolted on Big Show / Edge / Vickie love triangle, but is anybody really giving a damn for that? Or, to be fair, this match in general? Throwing together a triple threat and plugging the angle as much as possible hasn’t really helped interest in this B show title match. I really have no idea, not interest in who is gonna win this. I’d say Cena will get the nod… because he’s got a movie out. Really, that’s my reasoning. You can see why I quit doing this on a regular basis, huh?

Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels

For me, this is THE reason to buy the show. These two always raise their game at Mania, and throwing them together is a great idea – they had a little turn together at the Rumble last year and showed flashes of genius, so here’s hoping that can be extended into a full match. HBK has been back to his belligerent, antagonistic best – the White Undertaker get up on Smackdown was fantastic – and Undertaker has got his growl back.

Taker I think will be working this one as a face, and Michaels playing the cocky heel that he does best, despite both being nominal fan favourites in front of their home state fans. Given the build has been almost entirely one way in Shawn’s favour, it has to be Taker and the streak going to 17-0 in Texas. Hopefully, this lives up to the faith I’ve placed in it – it may just be the match that the show’s final judgement is carried on

WWE Championship
Triple H (with anyone called McMahon) vs. Randy Orton (with B-level second generation stars)

The focus has been more in the inter-personal issued between the protagonists and their various followers and family members than the actual championship, but you can’t fault the quality of the build. Orton has been nothing short of spectacular in the way he’s carried himself, and Trips has held his end up as well… for all it was soap opera central, the close to last week’s Raw with Orton kissing Steph with an incapacitated Trips in the background was compelling storytelling. This is very much an angle that has grabbed the average fan’s attention and as such, has to live up to those high standards.

Fortunately, Orton has the ability to do that, and throw in a motivated Triple H – who wouldn’t be motivated headlining WrestleMania?- and the sideshow we’ll no doubt have with the McMahon/Legacy contingent and the heat for this one could and should blow the roof of the stadium. I would say it’s been built towards Trips gaining his righteous revenge and closing the show posing with the belt and the fireworks… but I see Orton leaving victorious.

Hopefully, the two key matches in Orton/Trips and Taker/HBK hold up the show; no doubt Jeff & Matt will do their damnedest to steal the show and the MITB match will provide the usual collection of suicidal moments and dramatic set pieces. Everything else is pretty much on a meh level. And at the time of writing, why no ECW Championship match? Dreamer should punk out Jack Swagger and take the ECW Title on the biggest stage of his career. I would just about explode if that happened…

In any case, enjoy the show – it is after all, WrestleMania, baby!

Have fun, go mad.

Tony Cottam

[My Blog]