The Road to Wrestlemania is officially heating up!

I want to talk about wrestling, for once. I was going to write two separate pieces on the Chamber and on Raw, but I’ve decided to just start typing until I’ve covered everything, and then stop typing. I hope you enjoy reading.

After what I thought was an amazing Elimination Chamber, we were last night treated to another great edition of Monday Night Raw. The build for ‘Mania is falling into place nicely, on all fronts. Both titles are relevant, the mid card is stronger than ever, and it’s only a matter of time before a couple of returns surely set up some huge matches for the grandest stage of all. Frankly, I say it every year, but I don’t think I’ve been more excited for a Wrestlemania yet!

I’ll start with the World Heavyweight Championship. Alberto Del Rio is playing this sort of pseudo-face role to perfection. He has a basic innocence to his character now, which is always a good thing. But he also has a slightly different characteristic. The ability to consistently act in the ring (along with Ricardo Rodriguez) as a heel, by using heel tactics. Ricardo regularly (even as often as Sunday at the PPV) climbs onto the apron to either distract his opponent or the referee. His manager/announcer even helped the guy get a win over Big Show in a Last Man Standing match by taping the giants feet to the bottom rope. If Paul Heyman and CM Punk did this, would it be greeted with cheers by the crowd?

Del Rio has morphed into this modern day Eddie Guerrero character. He can cheat to win. He can try to get the upper hand on his opponent at any cost. So long as he is up against a heel, and the more despicable heel the better, he will be cheered and loved by the audience. It’s such an intriguing thing, and I think it does his cheesy new faceness the world of good. Another likeness to Eddie is obvious. His ethnicity. Del Rio is a great and proud Mexican superstar. Like Mysterio and Guerrero before him, he already has the backing of a huge percentage of the shows audience. It’s clear that the company is going to market him as their next big Latin champion.

This paves the way perfectly for a rivalry as old as time, and of the greatest ease to book. Patriotism. There is a brilliant round table discussion of the history of patriotism in wrestling on the WWE’s Legends Of Wrestling broadcast. If you can find a way to check that out, it’s truly fascinating. Since the end of World War Two, pro wrestling has played around with the idea of patriotism and rivalries between nations. Famous Russian, Iranian and German villains of the past have played pivotal roles in big time feuds against American heroes. Art imitates life.

Only this time it’s a minority hero in Alberto Del Rio, and who will be his villain? None other than the “Real American” Jack Swagger. I have to admit, his return has been phenomenal. He couldn’t have looked more buried when he left. Along with his new manager, the propaganda peddling, staunchly conservative Zeb Colter, he is looking aggressive, invigorated and truly a force to be reckoned with. It’s so easy, and I know it’s going to be so, so entertaining. Not to mention the fact that Wrestlemania is sure to see a great match between two brilliant technicians.

As for the WWE Championship, this match needs little promoting. It was announced on RAW last night that on next week’s episode John Cena will put his title shot on the line against CM Punk, in a display of pure moronic egotism that only he could pull off. The winner of that match will meet The Rock – complete with new Brahma Bull championship belt – at Wrestlemania. This new belt change must be secretly devastating to CM Punk to know that he and many other regular, hard working professional wrestlers will spend the next decade holding aloft a belt adorned with the logo of an actor who will be nowhere to be seen for most, if not all of that decade.

Nonetheless, this whole triangle is just enthralling and whatever happens with it, we are in for one hell of a main event. I fully expect it to conclude in a blockbuster triple threat match at Wrestlemania for the championship. Let’s not do ‘Twice in a Lifetime’ or ‘Third Time Lucky’. Adding that dynamic would give this match something different and make this the biggest thing of the year. The Rock has had great feuds with both of these gentleman in the past year or two. It’s time to bring it all together and see who is the best. This would also be the perfect opportunity to let Cena get his win and the title back He even said on Raw “I’ve couldn’t beat you, I couldn’t beat The Rock” – Now is the chance for him to beat both of them. I hope and fully expect that this is how it will turn out. That’s my prediction right there.

The title picture in both respects, is full of star power, intrigue and room to be creative, so let’s just hope they don’t make it all too predictable, and for the sake of good wrestling, keep all five of those guys (including Punk) in the picture. Nobody wants to see Punk drop into the mid card and be involved in a quickly-hashed, nonsensical and irrelevant rivalry. That would be such an anti-climax to what has been an unbelievable couple of years for the guy. If you’ve watched his DVD, you’ll know that the company has a track record of letting him down. Let’s just hope it won’t happen again this time, for the sake of the business.

Away from the situation with major gold, the card is sure to be filled with amazing matches, what with the amount of talent at their disposal. The Shield, Ryback, Sheamus, Chris Jericho, Mark Henry, Big Show, The Miz, Wade Barrett, Antonio Cesaro, the list goes on. There is sure to be a couple of high profile championship matches on the card, aside from the WWE and World titles. Not to mention the tag team division. With the likes of Kane, Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, Damian Sandow, Sin Cara, Rey Mysterio and many more, they could potentially create a huge multiple team match. There are so many superstars to be used and so many different avenues at every level. It is almost impossible to mess this up.

And completely separated from any championship, there are sure to be at least two high profile feud matches involving huge returning superstars. Any day now we should be seeing Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker on our screens again, and whatever they are involved in, it will be great. My dream would be to see the two of them face each other at Wrestlemania, rekindling their superb rivalry from 2002. In any event, someone is going to have to come back and defend the honour of Mr. McMahon. Could be Taker, could be Triple H or any number of people. I’m excited to see where they go with this. If booked right, this could be the main thing separating the show from any other previous event.

So, with a roster overflowing with star power, a countless number of routes to go, and the biggest audience of the year, we are surely set for something special. The anticipation is growing, the excitement is building and the storylines are taking real shape. This is my favourite time of the year, and I can’t believe I’m gonna say this again, but I can’t wait for Smackdown on Friday. Now that has to prove how good the product is these days!

What do you think about what I have to say? I love opinionated wrestling fans. Positive or negative, I’d love to get your feedback. Feel free to leave a comment and spark a debate!



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