Wrestlemania 27 will be held in Atlanta this weekend, coinciding with the release of our cover story on former WWF champion Superstar Billy Graham.
We've got a preview of the big event after the jump, featuring Snooki Polizzi, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson -- whose father and grandfather helped teach Billy Graham how to wrestle in San Francisco -- and all of the WWE's top stars. Plus, a look at the major indy wrestling shows going on this weekend.
There are two heavyweight title matches scheduled for Wrestlemania.
Former Real World star Mike "The Miz" Mizanin will defend the WWE championship against John Cena in the most unpredictable match of the night. The Rock made his triumphant return to World Wrestling Entertainment about a month ago as the "Guest Host" of Wrestlemania and immediately began a feud with Cena.
Of course, he isn't going to wrestle Cena at Wrestlemania -- otherwise the WWE would have advertised the bejeesus out of it. But last Monday night on Raw, Cena attacked the Rock. The suspense going into Wrestlemania, then, is whether Rock will give Cena a beating before or after his match against Miz. The title match itself is a major afterthought in this drama, which sucks for Miz. It's hard to imagine Miz beating Cena.
The other title match involves Edge, with ex-partner Christian in his corner, defending the World Title against Alberto Del Rio, who will be seconded by a rookie named Brodus Clay. Del Rio is a major Mexican star formerly known as Dos Caras Jr. who has become one of the company's greatest villains. Del Rio is expected to win the championship in what could be a very good match.
The Undertaker is going to wrestle Triple H in a No Holds Barred match. Undertaker has wrestled at 18 Wrestlemanias and won at each one. Triple H is one of the company's biggest -- and oldest -- stars. Fans love this match, but we don't. Undertaker defeated Triple H at Wrestlemania exactly ten years ago but the company refuses to acknowledge that, instead pretending that this is their first confrontation. The story lacks depth and character. The match will probably be decent, but expect a lot of smoke and mirrors.
Perhaps the most jarring match features Randy Orton taking on CM Punk. What's real fascinating about this match is that Punk worked his way up to the WWE on the independent scene and by wrestling in Japan. Orton was born and bred into it -- his father was in the main event of the first Wrestlemania. Each of these guys is super talented and smart in the ring, so they should put on an excellent match, but they each got to the WWE in very different ways and it's interesting to think about.
WWE's announce team is going to blow up this weekend as former CBS reporter Michael Cole faces wrestling legend Jerry "The King" Lawler in Lawler's first Wrestlemania match with Stone Cold Steve Austin as guest referee and an Oklahoma NCAA wrestler named Jack Swagger backing Cole. This should be mercifully short.
Snooki from Jersey Shore is going to wrestle alongside WWE Diva Trish Stratus and rising star John Morrison against the hideously-named Dolph Ziggler and Michelle McCool and Layla. Ziggler and Morrison are great wrestlers, but the key to watch here is Snooki to see if she makes it to the ring sober.
Here at New Times, we're most looking forward to Sheamus defending the United States championship against Daniel Bryan, who made his reputation on the indy scene and in Japan as "the best in the world" years ago. He's still an awesome performer, and if these two get more than ten minutes for their match, they'll steal the show.
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The Corre, a group of four misfit rebel wrestlers, will be facing a comedy character called Santino Marella, Vladimir Kozlov, Kane and The Big Show in a match nobody cares about. There will likely be some funny moments in the match, but we wish the WWE would just give their time to Daniel Bryan and Sheamus.
Finally, Rey Mysterio is going to take on Cody Rhodes in a match capping off a long rivalry. Rhodes' character is that of a pretty boy trying to unmask his rival. Mysterio "broke" Rhodes' nose a few weeks ago, which is the impetus for the feud. Mysterio will likely beat Rhodes.
Although Wrestlemania looks like a good show on paper, the best matches this weekend likely won't happen at Wrestlemania. Other companies will be in Atlanta this weekend putting on shows for fans.
Dragon Gate USA will be hosting an Internet Pay Per View Saturday night featuring a title match between Japanese star YAMATO and American indy sensation Austin Aries. Ring of Honor will be hosting two IPPVs this weekend, featuring much-anticipated matches between The Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli) and Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas) as well as The American Wolves (Davey Richards and new ROH Champion Eddie Edwards) vs Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team.