Gone are the days of Mr. McMahon “guaran-damn-teeing” an outcome of a match or a certain superstar meeting his demise in WWE. But in my opinion, there are some “certainties” heading into WrestleMania 28. If I were a betting man, I would put money down on these 10 things* happening this Sunday in Miami:
1. THE UNDERTAKER WILL GO 20-0
I feel so confident about this one that I even created an infographic celebrating Undertaker's 20-0 streak at WrestleMania. As awesome a career as Triple H has had, I just don't see him being the guy to end the streak. Do I think the streak will end one day? Maybe, especially against a superstar with many years left to travel with WWE. There are still unique, intriguing matches on the table at WrestleMania for the Dead Man, including facing John Cena, CM Punk or Stone Cold Steve Austin. Imagine how big those matches would be with the streak in tact, which I “guarantee” it will be.
2. SOMEONE WILL INTERFERE IN CENA/ROCK AT WRESTLEMANIA
I talked about this one briefly on the #AftermathBlog – an interference in this match could be a situation that benefits a lot of parties. For one, it would come as a shock because the WWE Universe typically isn't accustomed to there being interference in epic contests at WrestleMania like this one (think Hogan vs. Andre, Hogan vs. Warrior, Bret vs. Shawn, Taker vs. Shawn, etc). This would break the mold and would come as a big surprise. If (sorry, “when”) someone interferes, costing John Cena the match, there is continuity from WrestleMania 27, as well as a rivalry for John Cena post-WrestleMania while The Rock resumes his movie career.
3. CM PUNK VS. CHRIS JERICHO WILL STEAL THE SHOW
If WrestleMania 28 was WrestleMania 3, Cena vs. Rock is Hogan vs. Andre, while Punk vs. Jericho will be Savage vs. Steamboat. Two fantastic in-ring competitors in a championship matchup leaving it all in the ring. With the skills and the history of both men, this has all the tools to be a five-star classic. Everyone might be walking into the building talking about #TeamBringIt and CeNation, but they will walk out talking about how amazing and what a wrestling clinic that WWE Championship match was.
4. THE DIVAS TAG-TEAM MATCH WILL BE SLOTTED BETWEEN HELL IN A CELL AND ROCK VS. CENA
I base this on history. At WrestleMania 18, the Triple Threat women's match was wedged between Hogan vs. Rock and Jericho vs. HHH. Last year, the six-person tag (involving Trish Stratus and Snookie) found a home after Taker vs. HHH, but before Cena vs. Miz. This year I “guarantee” the same positioning. Unfortunately, even with the involvement of Extra's Maria Menounos, this match doesn't have the level of interest most matches on the card do. This is a shame personally, because in my opinion there is a lot to look forward to in the Divas division. AJ is doing fantastic work with Daniel Bryan, Eve is finding her own niche as a master manipulator, Beth Phoenix is (as always) fantastic in the ring, Natalya would absolutely hold her own if given the opportunity, an imposing Kharma waits in the wings to inject a new look, the consistently entertaining Layla may soon return from injury, and Kelly Kelly works well as the face of the division, especially against an overpowering current Divas champion.
5. THERE WILL BE AT LEAST FOUR EPIC SUPERSTAR ENTRANCES AT WRESTLEMANIA
Perhaps WrestleMania 27's legacy (other than a celebration of The Rock returning to WWE) is the era of the multiple “epic entrance.” The Miz, John Cena, The Undertaker and HHH all entered the GeorgiaDome to a spectacular, out-of-the-ordinary entrance, for the most part with different music. This year, it's already been announced that Machine Gun Kelly will sing John Cena to the ring, while Flo Rida will belt out a track as The Rock walks that aisle. The Undertaker and HHH are good for two more larger-than-life openings as well (over-under on whether or not HHH chooses another Metallica song, or is that point moot since the theme to the rivalry itself is “The Memory Remains”)? Oddly enough, perhaps the most epic moment of all four will be when The Undertaker finally removes his hood to reveal ... his usual long hair (yep, you heard me – I “guarantee” it!).
6. JIM ROSS WILL CALL AT LEAST ONE MATCH
Maybe more of a wish than a "guarantee," but what the heck, let's have some fun. Last year, it was such a welcome breath of fresh air when JR replaced Michael Cole after Cole's match. When simply a lead announcer Cole is great, but when infused with a steady dose of villain commentary, it's a unanimous wish for silence from the WWE Universe. This doesn't need to be said, but in my opinion (and with great respect to the late Gordon Solie and the late Gorilla Monsoon), JR is the greatest wrestling commentator of all time and it would be a unanimous "welcome!" to the lead announce chair, even if it's for one match. Perhaps it would be fitting that he call the "end of an era" Hell in a Cell match. Speaking of that match ...
7. HELL IN A CELL ... "THERE WILL BE BLOOD"
It's difficult for me, as someone who consumed the Attitude Era live, to imagine Undertaker / HHH, in a Hell in a Cell, at WrestleMania, for the last time ... without it being the most violent match in recent memory. Despite the lack of blood in recent years, we will see a "crimson mask" or two (or three) in this matchup that will define a generation. Not only that, the violence we will be subjected to in this match will have an even greater impact because of how scarce it is in WWE today. This one won't be for the faint of heart.
8. JOHN CENA'S CROWD REACTION AT WRESTLEMANIA WILL SURPRISE YOU
The day after WrestleMania 27 when these two epic superstars shook hands in the center of the ring, I thought to myself "John Cena will get booed out of the stadium on April 1, 2012." Fast forward 11.5 months, and John Cena has won a lot of fans. I have it as a 55/45 boo/cheer split on my John Cena Crowd Reaciton Map, and though you might have previously thought it would have bordered closer to 90/10 come show time, I think this will ring accurate. To many (including myself), Cena has won the war of words leading up to WrestleMania and has come across as the more geniune of the two. I "guarantee" members of the WWE Universe will be thinking, "hmm... that's not the reaction I was expecting for John Cena in Miami at WrestleMania!" when the bell rings for the main event.
9. DANIEL BRYAN VS. SHEAMUS WILL CONTINUE PAST WRESTLEMANIA
Daniel Bryan and AJ have consistently been the highlight for me on Smackdown week after week. I thoroughly enjoy the sneaky, conniving Bryan weaseling his way out of sticky situations, and I look for him to do exactly that on Sunday. The Royal Rumble is certainly not the focal point going into this match, and it's not that Sheamus is looking weak going into the PPV; it's that Daniel Bryan is looking so strong. Sheamus has a great rivalry going at this time, which is why I see the World Heavyweight Champion escaping with the gold (much to the chagrin of the WWE Universe) and there being a PPV rematch with a stipulation that doesn't allow Bryan to use his same tactics again.
10. TOMMY DREAMER WILL NOT APPEAR AT WRESTLEMANIA
To be honest, I only had nine "guarantees" and I've been enjoying Tommy's articles lately (@THETOMMYDREAMER if you don't already follow him on Twitter) so I just threw this one out there. Random story: he once played the "wrestler name game" with independent wrestler Pierre Shadows for three hours in the parking lot of one of my independent shows in Toronto a few years ago (Tommy, if you're reading this I would love to "challenge" you and try my hand at your vast knowledge some day!)
Enjoy WrestleMania. I'll be in Miami tweeting throughout the weekend, so feel free to follow me @arda_ocal to get the latest.
* Not actual guarantees. If any of the above predictions comes true, I reserve the right to say “I told you so,” and if they don't, I reserve the right to say “I put 'guarantee' in quotation marks because I said it tongue in cheek. Of course it wasn't going to happen!”