WrestleMania has grown to be more than just a pay-per-view.
For years, the event has been the biggest of the year for not only WWE, but the world of professional wrestling. No event could come close to matching the magnitude of this spectacle.
But, as the years have gone on, WrestleMania has become more than one show. It's become a week-long celebration of all things professional wrestling.
Throughout this week, WWE superstars and officials have participated in a number of events, many of them supporting charity. The Axxess events also allowed fans the opportunity to get up close and personal with their favorite stars.
Other promotions - notably Ring of Honor and Dragon Gate USA - have capitalized on the momentum by running shows in the same city as WrestleMania in the days leading up to the "showcase of the immortals."
With so much going on through the week, WWE foregoes taping a full episode of Smackdown to air the Friday before the pay-per-view.
Rather, the blue-brand show featured a few select matches taped before Monday's Raw, highlight videos promoting WrestleMania matches and sights and sounds from WWE's pre-WrestleMania festivities.
By this point, most viewers have already made the decision to order the pay-per-view or not, so there's not much need to go overly dramatic on the show. And, really, the video production team have been the MVPs of this year's Road to WrestleMania, so it's nice to see these unsung heroes of the company have a chance to shine.
I attended WrestleMania 26 in Phoenix but didn't participate in any of the Axxess events. Watching the footage of fans in attendance and seeing the different types of activities and exhibits that are set up makes me wish I had.
A Smackdown episode of this design may not be the final step in convincing someone to order the pay-per-view on Sunday, but it could be a motivator to venture out to a future WrestleMania and take part in the spectacle.
- Chris Jericho and Kofi Kingston presented a main event-worthy match that wouldn't have been out of place on any show. Kingston walked out of the match looking like a star, while Jericho looks strong heading into his WWE Championship match with CM Punk. This kind of match helped seal the deal on this show.
- Zack Ryder and Drew McIntyre opened the show with an energetic and fun match. They worked well together and were given a decent amount of time. On a show like this, a match between these two helps promote a WrestleMania match, but it also grants these guys a chance to shine. This was the best McIntyre match we've seen in a long while, and Ryder played his role well. If given the right push and treatment, both have potential to be solid top midcarders.
- Big Show cut a good promo about his match with Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania, promising he won't choke, only chokeslam Rhodes. Big Show really has no business holding the Intercontinental title at this point in the game, but I'm predicting him to win the strap, add that accomplishment to his resume and finally achieve his "WrestleMania moment." I just hope it doesn't come too much at Rhodes' expense.
- Having Matt Striker on commentary was a welcome change. I was always a fan of Striker, though I know many were not. I just think he adds a welcome dynamic to the announce team and offers a great alternative to the Jerry Lawlers, Booker Ts and Michael Coles of the world. While a full-time return to the desk will likely not materialize for a long while, I'm all for these types of special appearances.
Zack Ryder d. Drew McIntyre
Chris Jericho d. Kofi Kingston
It's hard to rate a show like this. While there were only two matches and one live promo, the show still felt worthwhile. Both matches were really strong, especially the main event, and the supplementary footage delivered. The Road to WrestleMania is coming to an end, and I'd say WWE has done a successful job building to Sunday's show. Most of the eight matches have developed stories behind them, which is great, as it makes every match feel more special. This year's WrestleMania has unrivaled potential, and I can't wait until Sunday to find out if it delivers.
Ring Posts’ Adam Testa has teamed up with My 1-2-3 Cents and All American Pro Wrestling to bring you "From the Rafters Radio," a weekly pro wrestling talk radio show airing on Monster Radio 1150 AM in Southern Illinois and streaming worldwide on wggh.net.