Wrestlemania X8: Who will win. Mike Flaherty wishes he were more excited about the Sunday, March 17, event -- but he'll make predictions anyway
Hulk Hogan
Credit: Hulk Hogan: Rich Freeda/WWF

Wrestlemania X8: Who will win

This is supposed to be the most exhilarating week of the year for grappling fans. In terms of bated-breath anticipation, Wrestlemania should hold all the mystery, glamour, and sheer importance of the Oscars and the Super Bowl combined. But, as preparations at Toronto’s Skydome near completion, WWF fans are walking, not running to secure a place in front of the TV, and who can blame them? Despite having arguably the most talent-packed roster of any time in its history, and probably the most star-power-packed main event ever, the WWF’s creative team has harshed our buzz with a series of wrongheaded plot angles and tepid feuds that threaten to turn WMX8 into just another pay-per-view, and not a particularly notable one at that. (Much more on this in weeks to come; I have not yet begun to rant.)

Nevertheless, hey, it’s Wrestlemania week! And I’d be remiss if I didn’t provide my fellow marks with thoughts and predictions on the nine matchups currently slated for Sunday’s extravaganza. So, let’s start from the bottom…

Edge v. Booker T
Comedically speaking, these two have rocked in recent weeks, even if their feud is based on a dopey shampoo-commercial angle. It’s particularly inspiring to see Edge finally hitting his stride after initially stumbling after his breakup with Christian. They also have the potential to pull off a killer match. Given Wrestlemania’s Great White North venue, I’m going with the totally awesome Canadian. My pick: Edge

Kane v. Kurt Angle
For the life of me, I can’t imagine why anyone over the age of 10 cares about Kane. But the masterful Angle has an uncanny ability to make any opponent look good in the ring. For sheer brutality, this could be the match of the night, though I can’t imagine the Big Red Retard emerging victorious. My pick: Angle

Women’s Championship
Jazz v. Lita v. Trish

At first glance, I’m inclined to say ”Who cares?” but as evidenced by their ring action over the past few weeks, these three seem capable of putting on a credible, hard-hitting match. While I love Jazz, I can’t help rooting for Trish, simply because she’s come such a long, long way since her early days in the squared circle. (And, lest we forget, she too is Canadian.) As long as the horrendously overexposed Lita doesn’t prevail. My pick: Trish

Tag Team Championship
Billy & Chuck v. the APA v. the Hardys v. the Dudleys

Now, this one I truly don’t care about. All this match says to me is how pathetic and thin the WWF tag team division has become. And it’s a rare case indeed when such a crowded mob scene of a match turns out to be a show-stealer. That said, I have no idea who’ll take it, as long as it’s not Billy & Chuck. My pick: The APA

Ric Flair v. Undertaker
The match I’m most excited about, since it’s had the most convincing angle run-up of anything on the card, and because, despite the Undertaker’s physical limitations, it’ll be a nasty and very bloody bit of business. With the WWF split a-comin’, I’m pulling for the WWF’s true living legend. Woooo! My pick: Ric Flair

Intercontinental Championship
William Regal v. Rob Van Dam

I’m a huge Regal mark, but he just doesn’t match up well stylistically in the ring with anyone. Frankly, I’m hoping the WWF comes to its senses and puts him at the announce table or the commissioner’s office, where he’ll do the most good. Even more frustrating is that RVD isn’t getting to strut his stuff against someone at his level of physicality like Lance Storm. My pick: Rob Van Dam

Stone Cold Steve Austin v. Scott Hall
If Hall can behave himself for the next four days and step up come match-time, this could be the dark horse match of the evening. Despite the overall bungling of the nWo angle, the WWF has done a good job of convincing us that these two really do hate each other. Despite Austin’s winning streak at four Wrestlemanias in a row, the more interesting outcome is to have Hall prevail. My pick: Scott Hall

Undisputed Championship
Triple H v. Jericho

The most tragically handled storyline on the card, thanks to head writer and loudmouthed ham Stephanie McMahon. I’ll be very surprised if she doesn’t ruin this matchup as she’s ruined the last few weeks of WWF TV. Deflating Jericho’s hard-earned cred and reducing Triple H to an Al Bundy level of silliness, she’s managed to suck all the air out of this shoulda-been-legendary confrontation. So I say surprise me. My pick: ????

Hollywood Hulk Hogan v. The Rock
Everyone knows this match won’t succeed on its high spots. But, with the past and present mega-stars of the WWF facing off, it’s bound to be a tense, goose-pimple-inducing spectacle. The outcome, however, is a no-brainer. My pick: The Rock

Who do you think will reign supreme on Sunday?

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