Sports during this time of year can be a little bit of a downer for some. Football has been over for a few months, your college basketball NCAA Tournament bracket got busted a long time ago, MLB is in preseason and the NBA hasn't hit the playoff run yet. What's a sports fan to do during this time? You, my friend, are missing a staple of Americana. A profession that, for years, created household names and gave us all something to cheer about. The most popular outgrowth of that profession is having a big time event this weekend. That profession, my friends, is professional wrestling and that event is Wrestlemania 25, coming at you live from Houston, Texas.
Former Oregon Duck, Josh Wilcox used to dabble in the ring from time to time. Although I'm not sure if he still does, he had some memorable moments worth sharing. Josh Wilcox hit the wrestling ring in 2004, doing battle at Mac Court against Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig, a legend in professional wrestling and a WWE Hall of Famer. I was there that day. Wilcox was the last man standing in the 20-man Battle Royal for $5000 in prize money. Hennig stole the bag to a chorus of boos and who should come out to make the save? Oregon native Rowdy Roddy Piper. Mac Court was alive with "Let's go Ducks!" chants for Wilcox and Piper. That wasn't the first time Josh wrestled with some big names. He teamed with ECW legend Tommy Dreamer in a match against Steve Corino and Rhino back in 2000. In 2003, Josh Wilcox and Bruiser Brian Cox beat Lou "The Bull" Andrews & C.W. Bergstrom to win the Portland Tag Titles in Eugene. What does this preview have to do with Josh Wilcox? Not a lot actually but professional wrestling roots run deep in Oregon history.
Read on for my Wrestlemania 25 preview
Although it appears Josh has hung up the boots for now, the history is there. The state of Oregon has one of the proudest traditions in the US for fielding elite members of the professional wrestling fraternity. Legends of the sport including Playboy Buddy Rose, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, The Iron Sheik, Curt Hennig, Rocky Johnson, Sgt. Slaughter, Ric Flair and others.
Why is all of this important? This weekend marks not only 25 years of Wrestlemania but of decades more of Oregonian professional wrestling tradition. Yes, I know. Professional wrestling is fake. That ship sailed along time ago. Steroids? Yep, the scandals are all over the place (although MLB has rapidly caught up). This weekend, you have an opportunity to remember 25 years (and more) of professional wrestling history. The card for the event is pretty good but how many more times will you see Ric Flair, Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, and Rowdy Roddy Piper have one more match? Here is my preview for the event
WWE Champion Triple H vs. Randy Orton
Background coming into this match is that Randy Orton has been playing mind games with Triple H, knocking out the Game's father and brother-in-law as well as giving the RKO to his wife Stephanie. For those not in the know, Triple H is actually married in real life to Stephanie McMahon, daughter of Vince McMahon. Yes, that Vince. This is an intriguing matchup because this is the first time it has been publically admitted that Triple H is actually married into the company. The story goes that Randy is messing with his head but always has his eyes on the WWE Championship. Triple H is only worried about destroying Randy, so much so that he may be losing sight of keeping the gold. Given that Wrestlemania always has "feel good" stories, I'm taking the upset and giving the win to Randy Orton. It keeps the feud going and allows Randy to be moved to Smackdown where him and Trips can continue the feud for months (sigh). Prediction: Randy Orton wins the WWE Championship
World Heavyweight Champion Edge vs. John Cena vs. Big Show (Triple Threat Match)
Continuing the theme of feel good stories, you have 1 bad guy in Edge versus 1 good guy in John Cena versus one middle of the road guy in Big Show. Big Show would be a HUGE surprise if he won the title and I'm just not buying it. Him and Edge have a "love triangle" thing going with the general manager of Smackdown right now and Cena is the odd one out. Even though Cena is supposed to be off shooting a movie during the summer, I think he will win the title and drop it to someone else in the coming months.Prediction: John Cena wins the World Heavyweight Championship
Intercontinental Champion JBL vs. Rey Mysterio
This is an intriguing matchup, pitting former world champions against each other in a match for the title that time and WWE forgot about. JBL is promising something "huge" at Wrestlemania and some big surprise whatever that is. Rey has been beating him pretty convincingly on the TV shows over the last month and even beat JBL for the world title a few years ago. Not all the good guys can win and I think JBL pulls this one out. WWE wants us thinking that Rey will just beat him one more time to take the title at Wrestlemania. Prediction: JBL
Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy (Extreme Rules Match)
Matt versus Jeff, brother versus brother, with all kinds of wacky things to hit themselves with. These matches both scare me and entice me at the same time. With Jeff in the match, we're apt to see guys flying off of 20 foot ladders, crashing through tables, trashcans, kendo sticks, you name it. These guys have known each other their entire lives and hopefully they come out of this thing ok. That being said, I think WWE pulled the trigger on this feud too early and there is more to this coming in the next few months. Predicition: Draw
WWE Tag Team Champions vs. World Tag Team Champions (Unified Tag Team Championship Lumberjack Match)
WWE doesn't care about tag team wrestling so why should I? That being said, I think the Colons win the match and we start to see a Miz and Morrison feud. There has been a lot of talk that these two would start up singles careers soon and what better time than right now. Prediction: Primo and Carlito
Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker
This match is truly the main event of the evening. I don't care that other matches are for world titles or are appearing later on the show. If WWE is going to get buys for Wrestlemania (at $55), this is the match that would sell it to me. Undertaker has never been beaten at Wrestlemania in his entire career. He is shooting for 17-0 in this match against Shawn Michaels. Shawn has the nickname "Mr. Wrestlemania" for a reason. He has provided some of the most epic moments in the history of the event, including last year's emotional win over Ric Flair to send him into retirement. These guys can both work a match and are old school enough to understand what this moment means to the sport and their careers. These 2 wrestlers bridge the gap from the old WWF (Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, etc) to the current WWE product. Both are probably nearing retirement but they aren't there yet. Undertaker won't give up the streak without retiring shortly afterwards. Prediction: Undertaker
Money in the Bank Ladder Match
With a great concept like MITB, this should be a great match with some good wrestling and hot spots. For those that don't know the rules, they place a briefcase, supposedly containing a contract for a WWE Title Match sometime within the next year, suspended from a hook above the ring. The only way to reach the briefcase is to climb a ladder and unhook the briefcase. This is just like a regular ladder match except with a twist. There are 8 participants and that special title stipulation. One note. Every wrestler to win the MITB match has gone on at some point to win the title. Too many variables to predict in this match but the favorite in my eyes has to be Christian. He recently came back to the WWE and has the biggest possible "star value" out of the rest of the guys in the ring. In the end, this one is a tossup but should be one of the top matches on the card. Predicition: Christian
25-Diva Battle Royal
This is a gimmick match to get everyone their payday. Honestly, I will probably be lighting up the grill during this match. There will be some comedy aspects of it including my favorite newcommer, Santino Marella. Overall though, I will probably use this one for a break. Prediction: Gail Kim
Chris Jericho vs. WWE Legends
The ultimate in feel good stories for the night, the WWE Legends in Rowdy Roddy Piper, Ricky the Dragon Steamboat and Superfly Jimmy Snuka should win this match. It is an elimination bout so we'll see a couple of legends get pinned but the Dragon should get the pin on Jericho to have a happy crowd. I expect a surprise appearence in this match from someone behind the scenes but we'll see! Prediction: WWE Legends