The superstars of World Wrestling Entertainment push themselves to the limit by working hard and training tirelessly every year to reach their ultimate goal – the company’s “Big Dance” – Wrestlemania. This year, the event takes place on March 28, at the University of Phoenix Stadium, in Glendale, Arizona. The crowd of over 70,000 spectators will witness, what I believe to be a night full of excitement, breath-taking action, and one of the best line ups for a Wrestlemania event. I will attempt to shed some light on some of the great matches scheduled for the spectacular show.

A tradition at Wrestlemania over the past few years, is the “Money in the Bank” ladder match. Wrestling enthusiasts know the requirements of this awe-inspiring match. The difference this year is that it involves ten wrestlers, instead of the regular eight. The question is why? Is it to create more entertainment? Or is it a money-making strategy? No matter what the reason is, I believe it will be a difficult contest to follow, but one that promises action and excitement. The winner in this match? My prediction is Christian. He is the most experienced wrestler in the group, especially in ladder matches, and would be an unbelievable challenger to any champion he decides to choose.

This year’s Wrestlemania will feature a highly anticipated showdown that’s been thirteen years in the making – Bret Hart will battle Vince McMahon. Bret repeatedly said over the years, that he would never return to the WWE again. But, he had a change of heart, when he returned on Raw on January 4. Bret was the “guest host” of the show, and the first thing he did was summon Shawn Michaels to the ring, to put an end to all the animosity between them. To the crowd’s amazement, they shook hands, embraced each other, and “buried the hatchet.” Bret, then demanded a meeting with McMahon.

At Raw’s conclusion, Vince answered Bret’s calling. After a few minutes of talking about the “Montreal Screwjob,” they agreed to put the past behind them, and shook hands. That, however, was short-lived because McMahon kicked Bret in the gut. So, with that act, the WWE took a major real-life event, and turned it into an “angle,” or storyline. This incident also ensured we would see Bret on Raw again.

On the Feb. 15 episode of Raw, Hart returned to say “goodbye” to the fans. When he went outside and attempted to get into his limo, a woman reversed her car, and crashed into the limousine door, “injuring” “The Hitman’s” leg. Or, so it appeared.

Mr. McMahon invited Bret to return to Raw on March 1, to give him a “proper farewell.” However, Vince would end up challenging Bret to a Wrestlemania match. Hart accepted. Two weeks later, Raw’s ‘guest host’ was “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and the final segment of the show was “a contract signing” between Bret and Vince. They agreed to make their battle a “no holds barred” match. McMahon thought, that with Bret injured, he would win the match in quick fashion. As Austin was leaving the ring, he was about to tell Vince something, but changed his mind and said “let Bret tell you.” The owner of the WWE turned around, and saw Bret’s cast and crutch on the table, and he attacked Vince. The so-called “broken leg” was a set up to lure McMahon into having the match with him, and did Vince ever fall for it. I think Bret will win. The match will not last long, nor will it be a classic. Hart will gain his “revenge,” which is what this entire match is really about. I’m sure Vince will remember this matchup for a long, long time.

One of the night’s main events features Batista defending the WWE Championship against John Cena. The Hart/McMahon storyline, combined with this rivalry, adds spice to these Wrestlemania matches. Reflecting on the exchange between McMahon and Hart, and the surprise appearance of Batista, Bret was shocked by the vicious attack by the WWE Champion. After Raw went off the air, John Cena entered to check on Bret, to make sure he wasn’t seriously injured. Batista, then, violently attacked Cena, which included a powerbomb on the ring steps.

The opening contest of the “Elimination Chamber” pay-per-view telecast was an “Elimination Chamber” match. This battle featured five challengers, including Cena, for the WWE Championship, held at the time by Sheamus. Cena escaped “the chamber” as the new champion, but his celebration was short lived, when Vince McMahon congratulated Cena, but added that he had to defend the title immediately.

An exhausted Cena was shocked when he saw Batista walk toward the ring. The champion fought extremely hard for a few short minutes, but “The Animal” utilized his “Batistabomb” powerbomb to end Cena’s reign as champ. It was not the ending fans wanted. There were boos in the arena, and the audience was disgusted with McMahon’s scheme.

On the March 1 episode of Raw, John Cena walked to the ring, angry about losing the title the night before and the events surrounding it. He demanded a rematch that night for the belt. Out comes McMahon, who granted Cena the rematch, but non-title. Vince stated that if Cena defeated Batista, a rematch would be granted for the belt at Wrestlemania. The match didn’t last long, as all the champion did was kick his opponent “below the belt,” causing an intentional disqualification, allowing Cena to receive his Wrestlemania championship rematch.

Over the past few weeks, both Batista and Cena have cost each other matches, usually ending with the champion standing over his ‘Mania challenger, after a post-match beatdown. Batista has repeatedly mentioned that “bad things happen to Cena whenever they cross paths.”

A match between these two superstars is rare. The last one occurred a few years ago at Summerslam, where Batista defeated Cena. So, the question at Wrestlemania is, can John Cena beat Batista, and reclaim the WWE Championship. Personally, I think it will happen.

Batista has undergone a change of attitude. The character he now portrays is cocky and arrogant, and he truly succeeds in doing it so well. I think his aim is to make fans despise him, and while I think this change is fresh for “The Animal,” Cena deserves to win because it would mean the fans, especially the children, will be happy. It would also show that John Cena’s path to redemption ends with him becoming WWE Champion at “the grandest stage of them all” – Wrestlemania.

The World Heavyweight Championship will be at stake at Wrestlemania, when Chris Jericho defends the belt against Edge. Last year, these two wrestlers were tag team champions. Unfortunately, their reign was curtailed because of an injury Edge suffered. Jericho needed to find a partner to hold the titles with, and recruited the Big Show. During Edge’s injury, Jericho kept saying that he was tired of carrying Edge, and implied that his former partner was faking the injury. Eventually, Jericho and Big Show lost the titles to D-Generation X (Triple H and Shawn Michaels.)

Edge’s injury required surgery, and he was supposed to be out of action until well past Wrestlemania. But, he indicated in an interview that once he was fully recovered, he would go after Jericho. As it turns out, Edge returned a lot sooner than the fans thought.

In the “Royal Rumble Match,” Edge made a surprise return as entrant number 29. The audience was shocked and the cheers were deafening. Edge emerged victorious, eliminating John Cena to win the “Rumble” match, and earn a Wrestlemania Championship opportunity. The following month at the “Elimination Chamber,” The Undertaker defended the World title against five other wrestlers, including Jericho. ‘Taker and Jericho were the last two in the “chamber.” It seemed that the champion would retain his title, but Shawn Michaels popped up from under the ring, and hit his “Sweet Chin Music” superkick, knocking the Undertaker out. Jericho utilized one of his finishing moves, and became the new World Champion.

The next night on Raw, Jericho was celebrating his victory, when Edge arrived. He made the announcement that he would be facing Jericho for the World title at Wrestlemania. Over the past few weeks on Smackdown, Edge nailed his “spear” on Jericho. During another episode of Smackdown, Edge was trying to utilize his big move, but the champion “knocked out” his ‘Mania’ opponent with a steel chair. On the March 19 episode of Smackdown, the two opponents had a confrontation in the ring, and Jericho asked Edge if the leg is healthy enough for him to compete at Wrestlemania. Before Edge answered, Jericho kicked him hard in the knee, and mercilessly stomped on his challenger’s previously injured leg.

This match will be a thriller. The two are evenly matched, can move at a relatively quick pace, and know each other well, because they were former tag champs. As much as I would prefer Jericho to retain his title, because he deserves to hold on to the belt for more than a month, I think Edge will win, but it will likely be a very close, hard fought match. It could even end up being the match of the night. All eyes will be on these two phenomenal wrestlers, and this match promises great entertainment.

Last year’s Wrestlemania was home to one of the greatest matches in the history of the event. The Undertaker barely kept his Wrestlemania undefeated streak in tact against Shawn Michaels. The match won “Match of the Year” at the 2009 “Slammy Awards.” Shawn accepted the award, and in his “acceptance speech” stated that he knows he can defeat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania, and end “the streak.” However, the Undertaker openly admitted that he had nothing to prove to Shawn, and rejected the challenge.

Michaels became more determined to make ‘Taker’ change his mind. The only way he could get his wish, was to win the “Rumble Match.” That, unfortunately did not happen, and Michaels went into a depressed state. It got to the point where Triple H told his friend to “get over it….there are other guys for you to face at Wrestlemania.” Shawn responded with “not for me.” A couple of weeks later, Shawn and Triple H lost the tag titles to the Miz and Big Show.

Following February’s “Elimination Chamber” event, the Undertaker was angry about how he lost the title. He accepted Shawn’s challenge for Wrestlemania, but wanted Michaels to put his career on the line. “The Heartbreak Kid” agreed, and the match was set. A few weeks later, they also agreed that the battle would be won by pinfall or submission only. So, at Wrestlemania 26, the stakes will be extremely high – the Undertaker’s ‘Mania undefeated streak against the career of Shawn Michaels. This is the rematch wrestling fans have been waiting to see. How it will end, is anyone’s guess. I stated last year, that the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak should not end, because it’s something that’s unique. I still believe that the Undertaker will win, and Shawn should take an extended break since his career would be “over.” Shawn was, and still is, an exciting wrestler. However, fans also know to expect the unexpected in the wrestling world.

Every year, the WWE attempts to deliver a spectacular, and memorable show for its most watched event. Sometimes, the events are so etched in the memory of the viewers, and at times, they can be uneventful and flat. Like most fans, I am looking forward to a nail-biting, provoking and awe-inspiring night of action, great wrestling moves, and huge roars and rants from fans. It is my wish that you enjoy the most watched and followed event in the wrestling world – Wrestlemania 26.

Azeem Kayum

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