With WrestleMania 29 looming, it only makes sense that most fans are consumed by speculation and excitement for the event; discussions are occurring and bets are being placed. In an effort to stay ahead of the curve, though, I am already looking towards the future… to WrestleMania 30. Ladies and gentleman, my top ten predictions for next year’s big show:
- WM30 will shatter all buy-rates, despite another price increase ($75 for HD). A huge return, a great undercard, and a big round anniversary number will be the primary reasons.
- Steve Austin vs. CM Punk – It’s been wished and teased for almost two years now, but it will finally happen. The Beer-Swilling Redneck will come out of retirement to face the Straight-Edge Superstar, and when Austin makes his entrance that night and the sound of shattering glass first echoes throughout the arena, it will be the single biggest pop in the history of the business. You thought Hogan/Rock had a lively crowd? That’ll sound like crickets and tumbleweeds compared to Austin’s return. 1.75 million buys right there.
- John Cena vs. The Undertaker – This is a match that, realistically, should have happened by now. Cena has been on top of WWE for eight straight years now (nine by the time next year’s show comes along), and in that time, he’s been part of a few “lower-card” title matches at the show of shows– his three-way matches at WM 24 and WM 25 spring to mind. Why didn’t he fight ‘Taker either of those years? I have to believe that it’s because Vince has purposely been keeping them apart, keeping this inevitable showdown as the ace up his sleeve for as long as he possibly could, waiting for just the right time to unleash it. This is that time. With Cena appearing to be positioned for another dominant year in 2013, it would make this match a true meeting between the irresistible force and the immovable object.
- As an off-shoot of the previous prediction, John Cena will turn heel. With what would seem to be a foregone win over Rock at WM 29, 2013 will be Cena’s swan-song as the #1 undisputed face and center of the company. There’s just absolutely nothing left for him to do, and even Vince himself must realize that it’s time to give somebody else a chance to shine. As the company finally goes all-in on creating a new star, Cena will become one of the biggest heels in history by cheating to end Taker’s “streak”. Whether by twenty chair-shots, or a simple grab of the tights, Cena WILL beat Taker, and go on to show the haters that he has some of the best mic-skills and heat-drawing ability of anyone we’ve ever seen.
- Daniel Bryan (with Shawn Michaels in his corner) will beat Sheamus (with Triple H in his corner) for the World Heavyweight Championship – In a match that I was really hoping to see this year, Bryan will not only gain redemption by beating Sheamus, but will do so with two of the biggest WWE legends watching at ringside. There’s a natural, obvious story to be told of Bryan learning that controlling his anger and focusing his aggression will lead to success, ending with a big emotional win over the man that had previously embarrassed him so badly, but it can also tie into another great story of teacher-student relationships and friendly competition. Bryan seeking advice from Shawn, Sheamus seeking advice from Trips, and Shawn and Trips making a friendly wager as to who is the better teacher, would add a lot of importance and credibility to what is commonly seen as the “secondary” title. All four men embracing and hugging after the match would also set the tone for Bryan being given a very serious push over the next year. (Even if we don’t get this specific match, Bryan’s winning the title next year. Bank on it.)
- The novelty of having Rock around will fade (even more than it already has). Now don’t get me wrong, I realize that the last two WMs that Rock has appeared at did monster buy-rates; however, I would argue that WrestleMania, just on name alone, adds a whole new context and higher expectations than anything during the other 364 days of the year. To support that statement, I offer that since his comeback, none of the other PPVs or TV shows that he’s appeared on have gotten a big boost (although, granted, big is relative); even worse, it’s become a case of diminishing returns, with every appearance getting less and less buzz. While the rumor going ‘round at the moment is that Rock/Brock is penciled in for next year, I have a feeling that any legitimate thought given to that – if true – will cool over the next six months or so, especially if WM 29 doesn’t do a great buy-rate. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if he wrestled a second-tier guy, like Orton.
- Brock, however, will still be very popular. I can definitely see Brock getting a higher-profile match than Rock, as Brock is still very limited in his appearances, isn’t pooping the bed with (IMO) go-nowhere promos, and can still get it done in the ring without getting gassed in five minutes. Who does he face? No idea, though I can definitely see him being the “end game” for whichever guy they want to push – he’ll be dropping the WWE Championship to someone like Ryback or ADR, or maybe even a face-turned Ziggler. Although, if we don’t get Bryan/Sheamus next year, this would be the perfect opponent for Sheamus.
- We’re getting Kharma/Beth and Rey/Cara. The former will be great, the latter will not. I can also see Jericho/Ambrose happening.
- Some of the smaller, less-utilized guys will get a chance to shine. In an effort to create the excitement of the Hardys/Dudleys/E&C feud, we will get a four-way ladder match for the Tag-Team titles. Kofi Kingston, Tyson Kidd, The Usos, Primo & Epico, Hunico, JTG… all of these guys (and others) could certainly run with the ball in that type of environment. We’ll also get at least one big multi-man tag match, and a Battle Royale.
- We will get a LOT of returning stars. With the big round anniversary number, we’re going to be celebrating the history of WrestleMania by trying to get as many past stars as possible – and I’m not talking about the usual group that we always see (road agents such as Sgt. Slaughter), I’m talking names we haven’t seen in several years, like Scott Hall and Goldberg. The aforementioned Battle Royale would be a great way to utilize some of them.
- We’re getting a big return/debut on the next night’s Raw. As is tradition, the night after WrestleMania will feature a major, news-worthy appearance, and if I were a betting man, I’d go with either Kurt Angle or Jeff Hardy. (Although, to be fair, AJ Styles is the one I’ll be rooting for.)
So there you go, ten (or eleven, depending on how you’re counting) predictions for WM 30 – and one for the night after – made one year ahead of time. Be sure to bookmark this, and shower praise and/or disdain accordingly. Whatever it is, take care, and enjoy the show.