WrestleMania XXVIII is less than 50 days away and the Elimination Chamber PPV is just a week away. There is lots of speculation and discussion about what's going to happen on WWE Raw and Smackdown over the next few weeks along the Road to WrestleMania. Here, I attempt to answer 20 burning questions we hope to get answers to between now and April 1.
1. When will the Rock return to ramp up his feud with John Cena?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is advertised for the Feb. 27 edition of Raw, and pretty much every episode of Raw until WrestleMania. I have a feeling we'll get a "live via satelite" promo the night after Elimination Chamber as well.
2. What title will Sheamus challenge for at WrestleMania?
Assuming WWE doesn't find a way to change course entirely and have Sheamus lose his title shot, I expect he'll challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania.
3. Who will walk out of Eliminaton Chamber as WWE Champion and World Champion?
CM Punk or Chris Jericho are the likliest candidates to win the Raw Elimination Chamber, with a very slim chance Miz or Dolph Ziggler are victorious, should it be decided Sheamus is going after the WWE title. On Smackdown, I think Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton and Big Show have legtimate chances of winning (I used to believe in Wade Barrett, but not after how he's been booked in recent weeks). A week before the PPV, I'm picking Punk and Big Show.
4. Does Great Khali belong in the Smackdown chamber match?
Yes, he belongs in the match. Should he be considered a possibility to win. No, not at all. I don't understand why some fans are so angry about him being the sixth man in the match. Who should it have been? Ted DiBiase? Justin Gabriel? If Christian was ready, maybe; but we don't know his status, plus it was pretty clear WWE wanted another babyface in the match. Khali fit the bill, and because of his size, no matter his physical limitations, he's got credibility. That's more than I can say for Kofi Kingston as the sixth man in the Raw chamber match.
5. Will any titles change between Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania?
A major championship hasn't switch hands in the time between the WWE's February PPV and WrestleMania in 15 years. I think that happens for the first time this year. Regardless of who emerges from the Smackdown Elimination Chamber with the World title, I think they'll be dethroned by a returning Mark Henry on a live Smackdown broadcast on Feb. 21, setting up Sheamus vs. Henry at WrestleMania.
6. Does CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho have to be for the championship?
One theory I've seen recently is that these men end up costing each other victories at Elimination Chamber and either Miz or Dolph Ziggler emerge with the title, with Sheamus challenging them. Punk and Jericho then face off without the WWE title involved. Personally, I hate that idea. Their feud is based on who is really the "Best in the World." The WWE Championship is the embodiment of that. To have them fight, and have two other championship matches on the card diminishes all three bouts. So while the match doesn't need the title involved to be a great match-up, to not have the title on the line hurts the "best in the world" claims of both men.
7. What will Randy Orton being doing at WrestleMania, if not competing for the World Championship?
Even if my predicton of Henry regaining the title, setting up Sheamus vs. Henry, comes to fruition, I could still see Orton in the title match -- along with Daniel Bryan -- in a Fatal 4-Way. Maybe Orton wins the chamber match, loses to Henry two nights later, and Sheamus declares his intent to challenge Henry. Orton and Bryan, who never got a rematch, could claim they should be involved too. It would make sense, especially if Henry is limited because of nagging injuries, as it would lighten his workload. Personally, I'd rather see Orton and Bryan have a one-on-one match lower in the card that gets 15 minutes. Orton and Bryan will be WrestleMania opoonents in one way, shape or form.
8. Will Shaquille O'Neal face Big Show at WrestleMania as rumored?
I'm 99 percent sure this is going to happen. In a promo on Smackdown, Cody Rhodes started running down all of Big Show's past celebrity matches and his less-than-stellar WrestleMania track record. For those wondering, Show lost to sumo wrestler Akobono at WrestleMania 21 and the more memorable loss to boxer Floyd "Money" Mayweather at WrestleMania 24. Show does have a poor WrestleMania record. He's 3-8, with all of his victories in tag team matches. Bottom line, this is being done to set-up an angle with Shaq and Big Show trying to exorcise some demons of past WrestleMania losses to non-wrestlers.
9. Will Triple H accept the Undertaker's challenge for a WrestleMania rematch?
Simply put, yes, ultimately, he will. It might not be on Raw this week, but eventually, he'll accept.
10. What role would Shawn Michaels play, if any, in the Undertaker-Triple H match?
In the actual match, I'm not buying speculation that HBK will be the special guest referee. Just don't see how that would play into the storyline. I do think Michaels will be a facilitator of sorts in making the match happen, coaxing Triple H to accept 'Taker's challenge.
11. Would there be any other stipulations to the match?
Since the storyline is that Undertaker had to be carried out of last year's WrestleMania while Triple H walked out, I could see a Last Man Standing stipulation added, although WWE likes to avoid that kind of stuff at WrestleMania. Last year was No Holds Barred, and they won't want to do the same thing again, although however it plays out, you know there won't be DQs or countouts. Triple H putting his career on the line doesn't make any sense, however, Undertaker doing that might, except he only wrestles once a year anyway, so ...
12. Will Triple H end the Undertaker's streak?
No chance. Whether this is Undertaker's last match or not, losing to Triple H does nothing but tarnish 'Taker's legacy. Taker challenged the Game because he didn't want the lasting image of himself to be a shell of his former self. He's going to win to go 20-0, and be standing tall while Triple H has to be carried out this year, in my opinion.
13. Does the Money in the Bank ladder match make its return to WrestleMania this year?
I think so. The card is very top heavy and WWE has a lot of guys in the upper mid-card, so it would make sense to do a multi-man match like this. It beats the heck out of another 8-man tag match like they did last year with Big Show and Co. vs. the Corre. If Bryan and Orton aren't involved elsewhere, they could be part of this match, along with Miz, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, Christian, Kofi Kingston, and maybe a returning Rey Mysterio.
14. Who should win the MITB match?
Three names that immediately leap to mind are Ziggler and Rhodes, with an outside chance of Kofi Kingston winning. Assuming Rhodes doesn't defend his Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania, he's my pick, since Ziggler's already had several title shots and Kingston, well, let's just say I don't envision Kofi winning a world title within the next year.
15. Will Stone Cold Steve Austin have a role at this year's WrestleMania?
Austin played second fiddle to the Rock at last year's show, and I don't think he wants to do that again. Also, and this is silly, but if you look at Austin's WrestleMania involvement since he started doing part-time appearances with WWE at WrestleMania 21, he only shows up in odd-year 'Manias (21, 23, 25, 27). He's probably going to induct Mike Tyson into the Hall of Fame the night before, but won't be involved at WrestleMania.
16. Will Zack Ryder be back for WrestleMania?
Yes, I think so. Once John Cena finishes with Kane, and with Undertaker seemingly facing Triple H, Kane's only logical opponent would be a returning Ryder. Don't expect Ryder to win, with the match being more of an angle with Ryder getting DQ'd, setting up an Extreme Rules rematch at the next PPV.
17. What role, if any, would Mick Foley play at WrestleMania?
The Hardcore Legend should be involved somehow. If nothing else, he and the Rock should cross paths backstage. He recently did an interview about how he was able to cover up his physical limitations in the Royal Rumble. But I think Foley might have one more really good match left in him to put over one of WWE's young heels like Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler or Cody Rhodes the way he did Edge at WrestleMania 22 and Randy Orton before him. My money would be on Del Rio, who management wants to be "more aggressive" upon his return. What better way to highlight that than in a hardcore environment with Foley at WrestleMania?
18. Will Jim Ross return to call WrestleMania?
Probably not the entire event, but I have the feeling he'll call the three biggest matches of the event. They'll do some sort of angle to have Michael Cole get beat up and Ross replace him for Punk-Jericho, Taker-Triple H, and Cena-Rock. My favorite? Cole challenges Brodus Clay to a dance off, then gets Funked up.
19. Will there be a Divas Championship match at WrestleMania this year?
The Divas Championship has never been defended at WrestleMania and the last time it's predecessor, the Women's Championship was defended at the event was when Melina beat Ashley at WrestleMania 23. Since, we've gotten a Playboy Bunny matches, a Ms. WrestleMania battle royal (won by Santino in drag) a 10-Diva tag match where Vickie Guerrero got the winning fall, and a mixed tag involving Snooki. This year, expect the best Divas match since Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James at WrestleMania 22 when Champion Beth Phoenix defends against Kharma.
20. Who wins: The Rock or John Cena?
Unless the Rock has already agreed to a rematch at Extreme Rules in Chicago the next month or SummerSlam in Los Angles later in the year, I can't envision a scenario where WrestleMania ends without John Cena victorious. The whole idea behind the feud is that Cena is the guy who shows up and wrestles for the fans every day, while the Rock left them to do movies. Do you really think Vince McMahon is going to book the guy who isn't there every week to win? It's the same reason the Rock beat Hulk Hogan 10 years at WrestleMania 18. Although no one would've guessed at the time that Hogan would wrestle more matches over the next decade than the Rock would. Cena wins, and the Rock goes back to Hollywood.