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6-4 Swagger the best bet on WrestleMania card

YOU could be forgiven for not having WrestleMania highlighted on your sporting calendar but for some people it represents the pinnacle of sporting achievement.

Dubbed as ‘The Showcase of The Immortals’, WrestleMania is the Super Bowl of Professional Wrestling and although the build up to this year’s event has had its critics, don’t be surprised when World Wrestling Entertainment pull out all the stops and prove to both fans and sceptics alike that this truly is the greatest show on Earth!

There’s showbiz, athleticism, history and above all else spectacle and this year it seems to have become a big deal to bookmakers who have seen the potential of this untapped market.

From a punting point of view, unlike ‘sport’ you can’t simply look at form or who’s stronger, faster or more skilful when placing a bet, you have to follow the story and work out the direction the competitors will be taking in the future.

But just like all great managers in any sport try to keep their opposition guessing, WWE and Vince McMahon (WWE Chairman) do exactly the same to the WWE fans, as wrestling icon ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper famously said “Just when you think you’ve got all the answers, I change the questions!”

WrestleMania starts Sunday 11pm, live on Sky Box Office from midnight

WWE Championship Match: The Rock (c) v John Cena
This is a rematch of last year’s WrestleMania main event and that has irked many fans who were not overjoyed at the prospect of a repeat of what they saw 12 months ago, however, this time the WWE Championship is on the line.

John Cena’s loss to The Rock has impacted both his professional and personal life with crushing defeats at the hands of Dolph Ziggler, CM Punk and even John Laurinaitis, while he has also said the psychological effects of his failure to win was a key factor in a real life divorce.

Up until a few weeks ago everything was pointing to a reversal of last year’s result and Cena would have been considered even shorter than 1-7, particularly as The Rock is currently only competing in WWE on a part-time basis.

However, with the recent news that The Rock will be taking part in WWE’s Extreme Rules event in May there is less need for him to drop the title at WrestleMania so odds of 6-1 about the champion may seem generous (he was evens last year) but it would still be a massive surprise if Cena didn’t gain revenge.

CM Punk v The Undertaker
There are many valuable titles and championships in the WWE but none are as prestigious as a title that comes without any belt or trophy.

‘The Streak’ is the single greatest achievement in wrestling and the legendary Undertaker’s winning sequence of 20 wins and 0 defeats at WrestleMania is the holy grail of professional wrestling.

Some bookmakers make The Undertaker as short as 1-33 and I can certainly see why, but this is professional wrestling, a world where the impossible becomes possible.

The Undertaker is one of, if not the greatest wrestler of all time but just as Andre The Giant passed the torch to Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III, there comes a point when even the best have to step aside.

Does that mean The Deadman will to lose at WrestleMania? Probably not, but if The Undertaker is to lose to anyone I can’t think of a more deserving competitor than CM Punk.

Punk has paid his dues on the independent wrestling scene before moving on to ROH, TNA and finally signing a development contract with WWE in 2005 and working his way up through the

These two amazing performers have every chance of putting on one of the most breathtaking wrestling matches of all time and ‘The Second City Saint’ CM Punk will give you a good run for your money but ultimately The Undertaker is priced at 1-12 for a reason.

No Holds Barred Match: Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) vs. Triple H (with Shawn Michaels)
This is not going to a match for the wrestling purists but if you want to see a battle of epic proportions this is the match for you.

With all the attacks on people close to Triple H by Brock Lesnar and the added stipulation that Triple H will have to retire from the squared circle should he lose, most things point to a win for the ‘Cerebral Assassin’.

At 3-10, Triple H doesn’t set the world alight but a 3-10 winner is better than a 3-1 loser with Lesnar.

World Heavyweight Championship Match: Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Jack Swagger
Most of the focus to this match has been placed on the xenophobic storyline involving Del Rio’s Mexican heritage and Swagger’s dislike of illegal immigrants which at times has been uncomfortable to watch but in some ways that is probably mission accomplished as far as WWE are concerned.

I can see Del Rio dropping the strap to Swagger then chasing him for the title over the next few months before pulling off a big win to reclaim the title at Summer Slam in Los Angeles in front of a big Latino crowd.

At 11-4 Swagger is the best value in the whole WrestleMania card.

The Big Show, Randy Orton & Sheamus vs. The Shield
The Big Show, Randy Orton and Sheamus have held over 30 major WWE titles between them while Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns (The Shield) have a grand total of zero!

So what chance do ‘The Hounds of Justice’ have in their first ever WrestleMania match against such illustrious opposition? Well, the careers of The Big Show, Sheamus and especially Orton have been floundering recently, while The Shield, who were promoted from the WWE development territory six months ago are already in one of the biggest matches at WrestleMania XXIX.

I expect WWE to continue to push The Shield and to see them win at WrestleMania. Big Show, Orton and Sheamus look toxic even at 9-2.

Intercontinental Championship Match: Wade Barrett (c) vs. The Miz
Following in the footsteps of former Intercontinental Champions such as ‘The British Bulldog’ Davey Boy Smith and William Regal, Wade Barrett is yet another wrestler to originate from England and hold this prestigious title.

The UK wrestling scene is currently in the midst of a revival producing many of the top young talents competing across the globe and Barrett must be an inspiration to them all.

Talking of inspiration, The Miz, who is 4-9, recently received some inspiration of his own in the form of 16 time World Champion ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair.

Flair has become somewhat of a mentor to The Miz and has even passed on his patented Figure-Four Leglock submission hold to the ‘Awesome’ one. 

There is money coming in for Barrett but I think the Englishman will choke on the big stage and we will see a new Intercontinental Champion crowned.

Mark Henry vs. Ryback
It’s almost certain that the late great Gorilla Monsoon would have referred to this clash as “The Irresistible Force meeting The Immovable Object”.

‘The World’s Strongest Man’ Mark Henry is a mainstay of WWE having been part of the company for 16 years, but at 9-2 it looks like Henry is going to be fed to the wolves or at least fed to Ryback at WrestleMania XXIX.

Ryback has been an unstoppable machine during what is still his rookie year in WWE but after being elevated to main event status after only a few months the former ‘Corn-Fed Meathead’ is in need of a big win to keep the momentum going.

I can’t see anything other than a Ryback victory here, although that is reflected in odds of just 1-5.

WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Team Hell No (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston
Over the last few years the WWE Tag Team division has been a bit like the Europa League of wrestling but I’m really excited to see this match.

In Daniel Bryan, Kane (Team Hell No) and Dolph Ziggler you have three top-class performers worthy of main event status. Ziggler’s tag team partner Big E Langston will be making his WWE in-ring debut in this match and luckily for Dolph, Big E looks like he’ll be able to back up any amount of showing off Ziggler tries to get away with at WrestleMania.

Team Hell No, who are 8-11, should take massive amounts of credit for getting ‘over’ as a team and providing no end of entertainment both in and out of the ring.

As strange as it may sound to non wrestling fans, the best tag teams are often broken up by the ‘bookers’ (script writers) as a reward for their success and that is exactly what I think will happen here after their (potential) loss to Dolph & Big E who are a decent bet at 6-4.

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
Most wrestling fans see this as somewhat of a fall from grace for Chris Jericho who this time last year was facing CM Punk for the WWE Championship in one of the WrestleMania XXVIII main events.

Fandango, who is said to be the pet project of Vince McMahon, will also be making his WWE debut at WrestleMania XXIX and we haven’t had much opportunity to see what the ‘Ballroom Ballbreaker’ can do in the ring but he did deliver one of the sweetest flying legdrops I have ever seen from the top rope during an attack on Jericho a couple of weeks ago.

In the bizarre world of pro wrestling, Jericho at 3-1 and Fandango at 3-10 are priced right.

Tons of Funk & The Funkadactyls vs. Team Rhodes Scholars & The Bella Twins
I’ve been asked not to go over a certain amount of words when writing this WrestleMania XXIX preview (that went over the top rope ages ago) but I’m sure about 15 per cent of that allowance was used when writing the title of this match!

Apart from the obvious cat fight that will ensue between the female competitors and the fact that I can guarantee there will be more dancing than wrestling, when I look at this match I see nothing other than regret.

Regret at what could have been and the other matches Team Rhodes Scholars could have been involved in. My tip, use this match as your toilet break or if you really need to take a punt on Team Rhodes Scholars & The Bella Twins who look big at 9-4.

Jack Swagger
11-4 (Hills, Ladbrokes)
The Miz
4-9 (Coral)
Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston
6-4 (Betfred)

Charles Roskilly is an assistant producer of WrestleTalk TV which is shown every Sunday at 11:00pm on Challenge TV. You can follow Charles on Twitter at @iamthegr81