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Road to WrestleMania X-8: A Compulsive 
Fan's Guide to the Granddaddy of 'Em All
Part Four of Four

by Rick Scaia


Is WMX-8 Another Classic in the Making?

I'll be honest...  I got the "this WrestleMania is gonna suck" bug out from my ass earlier this week.  In the interest of my own sanity, and in the interest of maintaining my status as one of the WWF's varsity cheerleaders, I'm setting those reservations aside so as to make this the Happiest, Shiniest WrestleMania X-8 Preview on the web!


If you don't want to get on board and pretend like this is the bestest time of the year to be a wrestling fan, you can go back and read my bitching...  otherwise, let's spend the next two days trying to do what the WWF hasn't done:  get ourselves into a good frame of mind for the biggest PPV of the year.

I mean, look at it this way:  there's a big difference between "disappointing considering this is WrestleMania" and the outright awful that WCW sometimes served up over its last few years.  This is still a stacked talent roster, and even if the WWF is fumbling the ball on a few scenarios, a very good chance remains that they'll still score a touchdown on Sunday.

But enough with the out-of-season football metaphors...  I think it's sufficient to say that there are a couple really promising matches on this card, and provided you're still upright (and not hungover and in "recovery mode" from prior St. Patty's Day action), I don't think there's any place any wrestling fan wants to be on Sunday night other than in front of a TV watching WrestleMania.

I know that's where I'll be.  And while Time Warner Cable might have thought they'd escape my wrath this month, allow me to once again curse their name and their fascist policy of requiring a pricey digital cable upgrade in order to view PPV shows en route to saying that I will NOT be able to do any of the cool "live coverage" things I had once envision here for OO.

Instead, I encourage you to make use of the new OO Live Chat feature to hang with other fans in real time during the show, and then come on back to OO around 1am or so on Sunday night, when I will finally get my "immediate" post-show recap filed.

At present, the Fed has announced a 10 match card, though it seems very likely that AT LEAST one more contest will be added...  here's the projected line-up for Sunday night's WrestleMania X-8 pay-per-view event:


This, flat-out, is a match that can make a show.  I know anyone who's seen the build-up might disagree, but with Jericho really hitting his stride as a heel and HHH getting back to full strength after his injury, I have little doubt that this match will deliver the goods inside the ring.

Questions linger, such as:  "Will Jericho be as effective a heel in his native Canada?" and "Will the in-ring work matter as much with Stephanie lurking at ringside?"...  but for the most part, I dismiss those concerns.  The crowd in Toronto will be largely Canadian, but there are also 50 US States and 15 other countries represented in that crowd (according to the latest WWF press release, anyway), so I expect a pretty level-headed live audience.  

And while I have no doubt that HHH/Steph will be a big part of the climax of the match, the fact is that HHH and Jericho will have to do the work in the other 30 minutes or so of this contest.  And THAT, my friends, is when the good stuff will happen.  Sure, I think the WWF has miscalculated badly in terms of thinking that we really give a damn when Steph FINALLY gets Pedigreed, but hey, at least we'll get that out of the way on Sunday, hopefully after Hunter and Jericho blow the roof off SkyDome...

The other storyline element that'll play into this match is the fact that HHH is now working on a tender leg:  Jericho took a sledge to HHH's surgically repaired quad this week, and followed up on Thursday by locking in the Walls of Jericho.  It sets the stage for Sunday's psychology, which will feature Jericho using every leg-based offensive tactic in his arsenal and HHH rallying at every turn.  Simple, yes, but more than likely, it'll be effective.

In terms of predicting a winner, I'm presently using this heuristic:  I think faces and heels will split the top two matches, with the fan favorite winning whichever contest goes on last.  So:  If this goes on last, HHH wins.  If Hogan/Rock goes on last, Jericho retains.  It's worth noting that some people also think that we're due for a double turn or something along those lines in this match (with Steph and HHH re-uniting to reveal their split has been a massive swerve), which would make HHH the heel coming out.

For whatever it's worth, I don't think that'll happen. Yes, HHH is extremely effective as a heel, but I see tons of logic in the scenario many have presented:  HHH wins the title, but as part of Steph's insistence on a "50/50 split," the unified title is broken back up in time for the promotion's split into two rosters.  More soap opera BS, yes, but at least it's soap opera BS with a reasonable foundation, storyline-wise.

Part of the fun of WM is coming up with convoluted double turn scenarios and the like... and certainly, a partisan Canadian crowd would be a GREAT place to try to pull it off.  So I won't rain on your parade, folks.  But mostly, my optimism here is based on the fact that I really do believe that these two guys are among the best in the game, and are very capable of overcoming the shitty material that has been tossed their way in the last month or so.

Don't be surprised if they find that perfect balance of sports entertainment (mostly the Steph saga) and actual rasslin', folks...

My Prediction:  for reasons outlined above, Triple H walks away with the title, only to have its "undisputed" status stripped away with the promotional split happens in a few weeks.  Oh, and hell yeah, he's gonna Pedigree Steph.


At the very least, this WM will go down as featuring a double main event, which will include this match...  by virtue of that, Hogan will be wrestling his unprecedented TENTH WrestleMania main event (he's never wrestled in a match at WM other than the main event!), while the Rock will be leaping ahead of the pack and into (a distant) second place by wrestling in his fourth WM main event.

Coming into this match, the combined 12 WM main events is a record by a large margin, and goes a long way to granting legitimacy to that "Icon vs. Icon" tag that the WWF has attached to this match.  Sure, it seems weird to consider a guy who's just a few years older than me an "Icon," but hey, it's a testament to (1) the fact that the Rock is damn good at what he does, and to (2) the fact that I'm getting older every damn day.

By the way, here's an oddball trivial observation that those of you who haven't been following the Road to WM Feature might have missed:  this is the first time that the Rock will NOT be wrestling for a title at WM.  He contended for either the IC or WWF Titles in all of his first five WMs.  This is only the third time in Hogan's WM career that he's wrestling without a title on the line (WM1 and WM8 were the previous times).

The combined 11 WWF Titles between these two is also a WM record, just edging out the combined 10 titles that the Rock and Steve Austin had at the time of their WM main event showdown last year.  Like I said, there's plenty of evidence for this Icon vs. Icon thing, even if the WWF seemed intent on resting on music videos and pathetic ambulance attack skits to build up this match!

Will this be a ***** workrate classic?  Hell, no.  When the chips are down a year or two from now, I don't even think we'll be talking about this as a highlight of Hogan's "farewell run" in the WWF.  But I look at two things:  first, nobody gets as much of a reaction out of EVERY SINGLE MOVE he does as the Rock.  And second, even Hogan's shitty Leg Drop of Doom is getting a big time nostalgia pop out of the crowd in this early going.  So I think this one's gonna be electric:  like Hogan/Warrior at SkyDome 12 years ago, this one might not feature a Benoit-like move-set, but I'm willing to wager a body part (in this case, my tonsils) that it'll be a well-constructed, dramatic showdown that keeps the crowd entranced.

And that, my friends, is more than enough for me.  I mean, it's been year's since you can say Hogan had a match like that, so I'll take it if he can deliver it on Sunday.

My Prediction:  in going forward with my aforementioned heuristic, I guess that this match does NOT go on last, and that Hogan will somehow walk away the winner.  I actually would prefer to see something like Shawn Michaels returning to the Fed in a ref capacity in this one, where he'd go anti-nWo and help the Rock win, but Einstein's Law of the Conservation of Heel Heat dictates the the babies can't win both the top matches here...


There's no doubt about two things...  one, Scott Hall has looked the best (by default) of the three nWo guys since their return.  And two, taken at their best, Hall was always the best of the bunch in the ring, anyway.

So while a lot of people look at this as the sacrificial offering of Hall to at the altar of Stone Cold, I look at it as a promising upper-mid-card match (though not the third prong of a "Triple Main Event," as I suspect the WWF will allege).  Five star ladder matches may be 8 years in Hall's past, but both he and Austin are more than capable of one of those patented WWF main event style brawls that somehow tricks you into not caring that the total number of wrestling moves you've just seen can be counted on both your hands (with fingers left over).

Plus, you cannot discount the value of Kevin Nash at ringside.  Hey, maybe he's "Big Poochie" to you, but in this case, his presence will put that glimmer of doubt into your head.  As long as he's there, Hall is NOT just a sacrificial lamb, he's a possible winner via heinous cheating!  And that, my friends, is where you get your drama.

At some point in the match, I'd reprise WM10, and eject Nash from ringside (just as he -- as Diesel -- was ejected when he seconded Shawn Michaels against Hall -- as Razor Ramon -- in the aforementioned ladder match), so as to build to an ultimately clean finish.  But for a while, I see the two-on-one dynamic as being a positive thing for this contest.

As far as in-ring action goes, this one doesn't hold the promise of Jericho/HHH...  but it also stand a very good chance of blowing Rock/Hogan out of the water.  A good showing here, and Scott Hall goes a long way to silencing the critics who contended he was unemployable.  As an unabashed Austin fan, I won't necessarily be cheering for Hall in this match...  but I'll be damned if I won't be cheering for that good showing, nonetheless.

My Prediction:  Nash's interference can only go so far...  Austin wins and runs his impressive WM record to five wins against one loss.


The cynics can come up with whatever creative labels for this match that they want, and all of them will somehow have to do with the fact that both these guys are perceived of by smarks as old and used up.

Me, I'm loving a lot of the new Undertaker's heel shtick.  And I can't help but remain a Flair fan even after all these years.  So I look at this, and I label it this way:  it's a showdown between the Greatest Clutch Performer in WrestleMania History (the Undertaker, who sports an unblemished 9-0 record at WM) and the Greatest Wrestler of the WrestleMania Era to Have Only Wrestled at One WM (Flair, who's loyalty to NWA/WCW has meant he only appeared at WM8).

Plus, I look at that new "No Disqualification" stipulation, and I see plenty of potential for a killer Sports Entertainment Segment, even if this isn't gonna be a Lou Thesz-caliber grappling classic.  Flair once claimed he could coax a *** match out of a broomstick, and two months ago at the Royal Rumble, he went a long way to proving he's still got that magic when he had a really entertaining brawl against Vince McMahon.  Taker is more capable that Vince, so I don't think it's too pie-in-the-sky to expect more of the same here.

This match, in addition to being the likely night's only all-over-the-building plunder segment, also boasts some of the best storytelling and build up of any match on the entire card.  The Taker's decimation of both Arn Anderson and David Flair set the stage beautifully for Flair to accept this in-ring challenge.  

A sub-plot here centers on Vince McMahon's attempts to wrest control of the WWF away from Flair...  in a no DQ match, you can bet that Vince will probably get involved, here.  But then, he's probably Taker's only real close ally.  Flair might be able to get assists from either Arn or his son David, which would go a long way to evening to score.  Again, that all par for the course when you're talking about what makes a Sports Entertainment Segment different from a wrestling match...

My Prediction:  Flair, unfortunately, does not have a full-time, in-ring return left in him, and thus, Taker's the one with something to gain here.  Somehow, Flair will get the old screw-gee (and I'm betting Vince is the one who administers it), while Taker runs his WM record to ten wins and no losses.


In my WM ranting, I alluded to something unique about this match:  the sheer force of the fresh-ness of the personalities involved is enough to make this an engaging contest.  I won't sit here and tell you the storytelling has been masterful in terms of bringing RVD and Regal together, but what HAS been outstanding is the way Regal's been built up as a superb heel in the last two months, while RVD's babyface "megastar-in-waiting" status has been buffed to a glossy sheen.

It's not so much that this is a great feud as it is that these are two very marketable personalities:  fans are DYING to see that cheating bastard Regal (and his bloody brass knucks) lose the IC Title.  Fans are also dying to see Van Dam get a major singles title and break through to the next level.  The fact that these two desires are intersecting is merely happy coincidence.

In fact, if you held a gun to my head, I'm not entirely sure I could explain to you exactly how it is that RVD wormed his way into what had been a Regal/Edge feud for the IC Title.  He just kind of got tossed into the mix, and has made the most of it, going so far as to pin Regal in a tag match setting within the past week.

It's ever-so-fashionable to call any match involving Regal a "clash of styles," but that tag applies doubly to this match.  But it's also of little concern to me.  Though Van Dam's flashy offense differs massively from Regal's, his real claim to fame is the ability to bump around and make the other guy's stuff look awesome.  So what you call a Clash of Styles, I call a fantastic opportunity for Regal to look like a million bucks.

For about 10 minutes until RVD wages his comeback and gets the big win, anyway.

My Prediction:  Man, I'd love it if the Fed had the balls to keep the "Honkeytonk Man" think going with Regal and his uncanny ability to hold on to the IC Title...  but I'm guessing this is the right time to ditch that experiment and try another:  the RVD-as-a-singles-star experiment.  The IC Title will be his.

BILLY/CHUCK vs. THE APA vs. THE HARDYS vs. THE DUDLEYS  (Four Way WWF Tag Title Match)

This one started out looking like a straight-up APA vs. Billy/Chuck tag title match...  but then the Acolytes used up their title shot (unsuccessfully) against B&C.  In storylines, it's because Billy and Chuck perpetrated a heinous barroom attack on the APA.  In reality, I think it's because somebody in the office realized that APA vs. Billy and Chuck simply did not have any cache, baby.

So they tossed the Hardys and the Dudleys in there, and hoped like hell that that'd make things all better.  Hey, I'll be the first to admit that it really only amounts to putting a band-aid on a bullet wound, but the WWF's ailing tag division could do a lot worse than having the Duds and Hardys involved in the same match for the third year in a row.

In fact, this will be the third WM match for all of Matt, Jeff, Bubba, and D-Von...  and in what's gotta be a WM record of some kind, they've been involved in the same match all three times.  You can call it lazy or repetitive booking.  I just call it going with what works.

Unfortunately, while those two are probably the most watchable of all these teams in terms of in-ring work, they are also two of the more stale...  I think it's Scott who has been stumping for a double turn of these two, and I couldn't agree more.  I'm not sure how you'd pull it off (the Hardy going heel would be lots harder than the Duds going back babyface), but something's gotta happen to spruce up the tag division.

As it stands, Billy and Chuck's ambiguously gay gimmick is the most entertaining part of this match.  It pains me to admit it, but that's the sort of thing that makes me hope they keep the titles...

My Prediction:  Billy and Chuck retain, if only because the Fed has more viable babyface challengers than established heel duos.  That makes it easier to run people up against Billy and Chuck than it does to come up with someone to feud with the APA or Hardys...


This one is straight out of the Marriage of Convenience Files...  two former WWF Champs, two established main eventers, both without anything to do at WrestleMania.

So we'll just toss 'em together and hope it works.

The feud has featured plenty of uninspired storytelling -- a Kane run-in cost Angle a match, and Angle went all ballistic and suplex Kane through a table and then attacked him backstage to set up this match (like I said, Marriage of Convenience)-- but also has plenty of potential to quietly develop into a show stealing in-ring contest.

In Angle, you've got, perhaps, the Fed's best all-around peformer.  In Kane, you've got one of the most capable big men the business has ever seen.  And together, you've got a duo who delivered on one or two really good TV matches back several months ago, so you know they've got the chemistry to work together well.

And then, you've got the best reason to watch WM:  because Pete Rose may be back this year, and he's due to get his revenge on that bastard Kane!  Rose missed out on last year's Mania due to a disagreement over his role at the show, but the Fed's once again put the highlights of previous year's encounters between Rose and Kane into heavy rotations this year.  We are clearly NOT supposed to forget about their shared past, and I can only imagine the great heel synergy that could exist between Rose and Angle if they got together on the same page for a night!

Or maybe I'm just too big a Reds fan...

My Prediction:  Angle gets the win...  but I won't go so far as to promise that Pete Rose has anything to do with it.  That's more my own private pipe dream...


Another text-book example of a marriage of convenience... but unlike Kane/Angle, this one doesn't just feature uninspired storytelling.  This one's predicated on a downright STUPID scenario.

You see, Booker T wanted this shampoo endorsement deal in Japan.  But somehow (and this involved Tajiri in a very tangential sort of way), that spot went to Edge instead.  And there was nothing for Booker to do about it other than to get ultra-pissed at Edge and set up this match for WM.

Not exactly Steamboat/Savage-caliber compelling, I know...  but when I stop and try to put a shiny, happy face on this, I can't help but think to myself that short of Jericho/HHH, no match on the card has as good a chance of delivering the goods in terms of bell-to-bell action.  

You've even got the added zing that Edge's hometown status will bring...  he'll be more over at SkyDome than at any other arena on the continent, and that can only be a good thing.  And while I hope (and suspect) that a babyface turn is in Booker's near future, he definitely got one more killer heel performance left in him.

My Prediction:  Edge has GOT to win.  His singles push is floundering AND he's in his hometown.  That adds up to a victory.


This one came together quickly, but relatively sensibly.  Provided you buy into the Christian-is-a-nutcase shtick, anyway...

A month ago, Christian's losing streak motivated him to try to quit the WWF...  but he was stopped by Dallas Page, who himself is doing a motivational speaker-type gimmick.  He insisted that Christian try to be more positive and happy.

Finally, DDP's efforts resulted in Christian getting a singles win this past Monday...  but when DDP (who actually secured the win for him with a Diamond Cutter) tried to join in the celebration, Christian attacked him and left him lying.  Geez, get the guy one win, and he's back to being all cocky and shit!

The match was set up really quickly over the last week, so it's not been a terribly elaborate angle or anything...  but as a lower-card palate-cleanser, this one should provide a solid 5-8 minutes of action.  It won't sell many PPVs on its own, but when the Monday morning dissection begins, I doubt this will be anything anyone's too upset about, either.

My Prediction:  Christian's got the hometown thing working, too.  Even though he's the heel and won't get the same reaction as Edge, I think this story works best if he somehow cheats his way to a Euro Title win here.  

JAZZ vs. TRISH STRATUS vs. LITA (Women's Title Match)

The asshole in me wants to call this a throw-away, an excuse to put some hot broads out there to flesh (heh heh) out the card...  but actually, this stands a good chance of being one of the better women's matches in recent memory.

In Jazz, you have -- hands down -- the most believable women's champ that I can recall.  The woman has a major ass-kicking vibe going.  In Lita, you've got a big time highspot machine who can pop a crowd with moonsaults and hurricaranas.  And in Trish, you have a surprising top contender for the award for most improved wrestler of the last year AND (is this starting to sound like a broken record?) a girl who's working in front of her hometown crowd.  Those are all the components you need for a solid little rasslin' match, and to hell with the pointless catfighting.

Jazz, obviously, is the heel here, but after the last week, Lita and Trish won't exactly be all on the same page Sunday.  Trish accidentally kicked Lita during a tag match on Monday, and then a backstage confrontation on Thursday resulted in the two smacking the living hell out of each other.  No friends or allies here, folks.

My Prediction:  What the hell?  I say give the Toronto crowd what they want:  Trish Stratus is your new Women's Champ after Sunday...


Since Mania is once again a four-hour show, I doubt these ten matches will comprise the entire card...  two possibilities present themselves immediately:  a Test/Mr. Perfect/Lance Storm vs. Rikishi/Scotty 2 Hotty/Albert match is a very viable option, and Maven, Al Snow, Goldust, and others in a Hardcore Title Schmozz is another.

If one or the other of those matches doesn't take place on the PPV, proper, it could be used as a warm-up during a live edition of Heat.

Additionally, live music is gonna be a part of the show... the bands providing the "WrestleMania Theme Songs" will both be performing:  Saliva (what the hell is that song, "Click Click Two"?) and Drowning Pool will be playing.  Probably to less-than-stellar crowd reactions, seeing as how live music (other than HHH entrance themes) have never been particularly well-received by wrestling fans.  And also seeing as how these two songs are only BARELY more tolerable than last year's god-awful Limp Bizkit theme song.

In terms of any additional surprises, we already know that Bret Hart declined the option of appearing on the show... and that it seems likely that the WWF will be using Shawn Michaels, instead, in some capacity on the show.  As referenced above, a guest referee slot is probably the best guess, though nothing (as far as I know) has been solidified in that respect.

I know it's naive of me, but I still hold out that hope that Sunday's WrestleMania X-8 can live up to the hype I've presented here, instead of living down to what has been a lackluster build-up so far...  we'll know soon enough just how the event has played out.

In the meantime, I encourage you to do whatever it takes to get yourself psyched up for the biggest show of the year!  Check out the rest of the OO Road to WM (links are below), if you want...  or maybe just get REALLY tanked while celebrating St. Patty's Day, and forget all about this smart fan bullshit once 8pm rolls around.

Regardless of how YOU deal with Sunday's PPV, know this:  OO will have a post-show recap available about an hour or so after the event.  Then on Monday, our additional coverage will include Scott's PPV Rant, plus other news and fall-out from the show.  And of course, you're all encouraged to make use of the Message Boards and Live Chat features of OO.com to keep abreast of everything that happens on Sunday night, as well!

See you once another Mania is in the books....

Road to WM Navigation
  -/-  WM X-8 PREVIEW


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