And so it is out of our lives for another year. Twelve long months must be waited until the pangs of excitement kick in again. For 365 days we must persevere until Atlanta, Georgia welcomes Wrestlemania into it’s James Brown loving bosom and back into our lives once again.
Within a matter of hours last night the landscape of the WWE was irreversibly shifted. The storied career of Shawn Michaels came to a devastating end thanks to the most heinous tombstone piledriver The Undertaker has perhaps ever delivered. Jack Swagger broke his post draft rut to stun us with his Money In The Bank victory, setting up a monstrous looking 12 months for the All American American, whilst John Cena began his ninth World Title reign. Not to mention that Legacy was finally put to bed once and for all and Bret Hart finally got to ‘screw’ Vinnie Mac after 13 years of waiting.
So where do we go from here’ Loose ends may yet have to be tied up over the next couple of months, but for many superstars, they are starting a fresh in their journey to land a prestigious spot on the card for WrestleMania 27. So yours truly decided to look at all the movers and shakers from last night’s extravaganza and predict what lies in store for them in the not too distant future.
It’s Going To Be A Big Year For…
Jack Swagger: Arguably the biggest shock of the night came when the All American American former ECW Champion held aloft the Money In The Bank briefcase last night. Many had predicted a Christian or Kofi Kingston victory, but it was Swagger who eventually unhooked a guaranteed World Title shot for any time over the next year. As far as surprises go, it was a most welcome one. Swagger’s potential is almost limitless and during his tenure as ECW Champion he impressed more than a few people. It really is amazing what one match can do for a young superstar. Heading into Mania Swagger had been struggling to get his name attached to any PPV and was even engaged in a mini feud with Santino around Royal Rumble time. Now he’s got a HUGE year ahead of him and is possibly the most exciting MITB winner the WWE has had.
I personally don’t see Swagger being the sort who will cheaply cash in the briefcase after a match has finished as has often been the case in the past. I think the wisest move would be to have Swagger hold onto the contract until next year’s Wrestlemania. A solid year of build will do him the world of good. He’s already pretty over with the crowd and is as natural a young heel as you’re likely to find at the moment. I say draft him to SmackDown in the next draft and push him into the upper mid card/main event scene as soon as possible. Give him ring time with the likes of Finlay, Rey, Regal and Matt Hardy as well. The experience will prove invaluable. I’d be tempted to have him revisit the MVP feud briefly before moving to the blue brand where a face Rey would make a great opponent for the Summer months before throwing big Jack into a career making feud with a returning Undertaker. A couple of mini programmes over the briefcase here and there would keep things exciting too on Swagger’s year long road to Wrestlemania.
Sheamus: I think it’s safe to say the feud with HHH isn’t over. Sheamus won’t take last night’s defeat lying down as he’ll want to beat the one guy he’s not been able to so far in his short career. Plus, with The Game apparently angling for some time off, it’d make sense to have the Celtic Warrior finally beat Hunter at Extreme Rules and then put him on the shelf. Gives HHH some time with his kids and puts Sheamus over huge. It’s a win – win situation for everyone. Following this the red headed warrior should head into feuds with both Kofi Kingston and Mark Henry. Mainly because the skin contrast would be so stark and also because they’re two pretty logical guys for him to feud with. Kofi’s a mega over face who’s spot monkey type act will play right into the hands of Sheamus’ destroyer routine which he does so well, then a brief man mountain feud with Henry would ready him for another run at the Title over the Summer months. I’m not sure if I’d stick the Title back on him so soon but he’s definitely worthy of another programme for it. Then of course come the end of the year you can return to the HHH feud for the ‘rubber’ match.
Randy Orton: Now that Legacy seems to be officially done I’m seeing Orton heading to Smackdown and heading there fast. There’s nothing keeping him on Raw, and with Cena as champ over there there’s no point in Orton sticking around for a feud we’ve seen heavily over the past three years. Orton sort of became the face in the Legacy feud which could set him up nicely as a’tweener on SD where he could run big money feuds with Jericho, Edge and Rey before the year’s out. Then of course once Taker is back and done with his feud against Swagger, an Orton/Taker feud five/six years on from their original Wrestlemania programme would be something I’m sure everyone would want to see with RKO so improved since then. I’d also be shopping Christian over to SD who would also make an ideal opponent for Randy somewhere down the line. Maybe as a challenger to his World Championship which he’d dislodge from Jericho.
Christian: Another guy who I’d be sending to Smackdown, but not before a feud with The Miz, which I honestly believe would be money. Have Captain Charisma take the US Title from Miz and hot foot it over to SD as Drew Mcintyre comes the other way. I’d make him the upper mid card staple until he drops the title, then he’d move on up into feuds with Jericho and then Orton for the WHC. Eventually I see him turning right after the Rumble next year in time for a ‘Mania match with Edge. Big year for this guy though and on Smackdown he should thrive.
John Cena: Well the new WWE Champ and Batista have a rubber match to take care of at Extreme Rules I’d say. It’s one I don’t see Cena losing as I think this may be the beginning of another lengthy run with the strap ala 2005 & 2007. I see big Dave being officially drafted over to Raw to make life difficult for the Chain Gang’s Chief of Staff, but in true Cena style, he’ll survive The Animal before embarking on a programme with, wait for it, big ‘Zeke Jackson. Hell, in his 2007 run he got Umaga, Khali and Lashley, all of whom were newcomers and in the cases of Lashley and Khali, green and no great shakes in the ring. Two quick defences against Jackson would do both men the world of good as it gives ‘Zeke the rub and experience and gets Cena’s run off to a solid start. From there John will return to two feuds from last year. First The Miz and then Sheamus before finishing off his dominant start to the decade with a face/face programme with Kofi Kingston.
The Miz: I think the logical step with The Miz is to hit the Daniel Bryan feud head on once Bryan is eliminated from NXT next week. The Miz will win a TV match between the two before beginning his feud with Christian which will constantly have Bryan hovering in the background before he costs Miz the US Title, thus kick starting their feud properly. I’d even have him cost ShoMiz the Tag Titles just to really get under The Miz’s skin, so he could have about a million reasons to hate Bryan, who he will finally see off as he begins his assault on John Cena’s WWE Championship.
Priceless: I’m guessing an eventual feud between these two is on the cards in the none too distant future. Following that, which will result in a Ted victory, I’d split them up across the brands, shifting Cody to SmackDown with his brother and keeping Ted on Raw to work the mid card and maybe have an IC Title run whilst Cody crafts himself with the help of the Finlay’s, Hardy’s and Regal’s etc.
CM Punk: Another guy with unfinished business from ‘Mania. The Rey feud’s only just getting started really, which is phenomenal news for everyone involved as these two never fail to deliver together in the ring, and Punk’s character work is second only to Chris Jericho’s and Randy Orton’s right now. We saw at Armageddon ’08 just how much these two can go together and last night we got an incredibly entertaining snippet of what to expect in the upcoming matches in their series. This can easily go another two ‘ three months, with some juicy stipulations along the way. Rey’s probably the best in ring worker in the world right now and has been for some time for my money. Combine that with Punk’s ability to get mileage from even the most average feuds and you’ve got money written all over this. Following the Rey feud, Edge should be Punk’s next port of call and then Morrison before perhaps Christian before the year’s out. Come Rumble time he should be a firm favourite to be going to Wrestlemania with a Title match contract in his possession.
Whatever the outcomes of this year, match wise, feud wise and draft wise, I can honestly say it’s been a while since I’ve been as excited for a year in the WWE as I am with 2010. Wrestlemania has thrown up some truly fascinating potential and with HBK retired, Taker heading into what will likely be semi retirement and HHH also looking to take time off, it’s as good a time as any to gamble on the Swagger’s, The Miz’s and the Sheamus’s. If ever a new guard was needed, it’s now.
Until next time, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter at @JoeBaia. I want to know what you crazy cats got up to for ‘Mania and I desperately want to know if anyone dared to attempt the Baiamonte’s Casa Wrestlemania Drinking game. I shall be honoured if you did.