And so as the lights went down on Elimination Chamber 2013, the final hurdle was removed, and once again the wrestling world can begin on the road to Wrestlemania.
On April 7, Wrestlemania 2013, the show-piece event of the wrestling calendar, will descend on the MetLife stadium in New Jersey. 90,000 wrestling fans will pack into the venue, with many more millions around the world watching. At its best Wrestlemania is where legends are made and stars are born, where superstars such as Bret Hart, Stone Cold, The Undertaker and “Macho Man” Randy Savage wrote their names into history.
Can any of the present day roster take their chance this year to do the same? Will any of them even get the chance with a raft of part time superstars returning for the big show? Who will face who in New Jersey? Where will the titles be decided, and which feuds will reach boiling point? Who will we all be talking about come the end of the night?
The Road to Wrestlemania should be the time of year when WWE is at its strongest, pulling out all the stops to make Wrestlemania the greatest show of them all. This column will track the progress towards Wrestlemania each week, looking at the developments on Raw and Smackdown, trying to see which feuds are buildings, which matches may be set, and how they might finish on the night.
So with the first steps taken on the road to Wrestlemania, the fire is already being lit under some of the match-ups for New Jersey.
WWE Championship: The Rock (c) vs John Cena or CM Punk
CM Punk was WWE Champion for an astonishing 434 days, becoming the sixth-longest reigning champion of all time, a feat even more incredible when compared to the length of other reigns in this era. But at the Royal Rumble, The Rock returned from his self-declared exile in Hollywood to take on the champ. He would eventually win the match, after false finishes, outside interference and a simple elbow.
At Elimination Chamber The Rock again came away with the title, and so will go into Wrestlemania as WWE Champion – a move the WWE money men are no doubt relishing. Also at the Royal Rumble, John Cena emerged from the battle royale as the last man standing, booking himself a place in the main event at Wrestlemania.
To the surprise of no one, Cena chose to face The Rock again at Wrestlemania, looking to both take the title and avenge his loss at Wrestlemania 28 to The Brahma Bull. However this week on Monday Night Raw, out came Punk to get under Cena’s skin as only he can.
Telling Cena he did not deserve his title shot, and echoing a number of fans when he said the WWE would be a better place without him, Punk managed to goad Cena into a match on next Monday’s Raw, with the winner taking the number one contender spot for the WWE Title at Wrestlemania.
The match-up at least presents a little intrigue in a feud that has so far been obvious from miles away. How the match goes down and who comes out the victor is not entirely clear cut. Punk could still force his way into the WWE Title match at Wrestlemania to make it a fatal three-way. It seems clear that Cena will be there in some capacity, and at the moment I would still imagine it will be a one-on-one match between him and The Rock, but a lack of another obvious opponent for Punk in New Jersey does make you wonder.
Cena against Punk has been a long running feud which always brings out the best in both men, and each of the two had their moments against The Rock in their respective feuds. Three-way matches can be great, but more often than not they are a mess, and the chances of WWE creative not going with the obvious ‘Twice in a Lifetime’ match between Cena and Rock seem slim.
Prediction: It all still seems so obvious – Cena to beat Punk, go on to face The Rock at Wrestlemania, where he will level the scores and win the WWE title. Yawn.
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