Sheamus, the winner of the 2012 Royal Rumble, looks to capture his first World Heavyweight Championship on Sunday when he challenges Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 28.
Sheamus, the winner of the 2012 Royal Rumble, looks to capture his first World Heavyweight Championship on Sunday when he challenges Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 28. (Craig Ambrosio, Carroll County Times)

During the course of the last 10 days on the Road to WrestleMania, I'll be taking a look at each match on the card individually in order to fully explain the background of the storyline, a breakdown on why each Superstar could and should win, and the bottom line -- my prediction on the result of the match and the immediate aftermath, plus any other random thoughts. Today, it's the first of the four "main events" advertised for the show, 2012 Royal Rumble winner Sheamus challenging World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan.

Background

Sheamus won the Royal Rumble in January by last eliminating Chris Jericho, and earning the right to challenge either champion at WrestleMania. On the go-home Smackdown prior to Elimination Chamber, he lost to World Champion Daniel Bryan in a nontitle match when Bryan spat in his face, enraging the Celtic Warrior and causing him to hammer away at Bryan and get disqualified. At the PPV, after Bryan emerged victorious, Sheamus declared his intention to challenge him for the World Heavyweight Championship by attacking him after the match.

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Breakdown

Why Sheamus should win: The Great White has been on an incredible roll since he turned babyface over the summer, and has been booked in a very old school manner. He hasn't had many true feuds, rather he's steamrolled pretty much everyone in his way. He has all the momentum on his side and a victory here could be a star-making performance. However, he has the "other" WrestleMania streak working against him. The past four winners of the Royal Rumble have all lost their championship matches at WrestleMania (although all won a world title by the end of the calendar year).

Why Daniel Bryan should win: No one could have expected Daniel Bryan's run as the World Champion to be as successful as it has been. While he won the title as a babyface, he has transitioned to a fantastic, smug heel who draws heat with his ridiculous "Yes! Yes! Yes!" celebration, his vegan diet and his penchant to win matches via disqualification. While the focus is usually on the Royal Rumble winner, in this case, it's been all about continuing to build Bryan's newly-minted heel character. On Raw, a new wrinkle was added when AJ interjected herself into the tag team match to save Bryan from a Brogue kick, so that's working in his favor too.

Bottom line

This might be the most difficult match to call on the card. Months ago, when Mark Henry was a dominant heel champion, I thought the path was building toward Sheamus defeating him at WrestleMania. Since he's face turn in the summer of last year, Sheamus has been booked very differently from a lot of WWE Superstars in that he hasn't had a true feud with a major storyline, he was just kicking everyone's butt. And it worked.

Around that same time, I think everyone expected Bryan to be the first to cash in Money in the Bank and fail. When he did become champion, as a babyface, I don't think anyone anticipated the heel turn, and when he turned, no one imagined it would be as successful as it has been.

Only one world championship match in WrestleMania history has ended in a count-out or DQ (Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna at WrestleMania X, but Yoko defended the title a second time later in the night and lost clean to Bret Hart) and while I think this card is so top-heavy that WWE could get away with it here, I'm going to go with Sheamus instead. They'll do a similar spot where AJ gets in the match, Bryan will catch a near fall, then Sheamus kicks his face off for the win.

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