In the hype for the main event of WrestleMania XXIX between The Rock and John Cena, the term "passing the torch" has been used in regards to Cena taking over for The Rock as the face of WWE.
Since returning to the ring, The Rock has shown his displeasure for such a thing, but the match has been built upon Cena trying to beat The Rock for redemption and to show that he belongs in the discussion of the greatest of his era.
When you look at the rest of the card, a common theme can be drawn from most of the matches. There's a new kid on the block taking on an established superstar as the past and the present move toward the future. This is all being done because the clock to the iconic WrestleMania XXX falls within a year after Sunday's WrestleMania 29.
Don't believe that WWE takes a whole year in trying to plan its big events?
On the RAW following WrestleMania 28 in Miami, both The Rock and Alberto Del Rio said they would become WWE and World Heavyweight champions again, respectively. Both have done so in time for this year's WrestleMania.
There's no question that WrestleMania is where WWE can take its young crop of superstars and throw them into the large spectacle of WrestleMania. It doesn't always work at first. Triple H's WrestleMania debut saw him get squashed by The Ultimate Warrior (literally) in 1:40. It took time for The Game to become the best, but it is WrestleMania where the measuring stick is brought out and a rising star can see if he has what it takes.
Kane has been competing at WrestleMania since WrestleMania XIV in 1998. He will obviously be the veteran in the tag team title match when Team Hell No takes on Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston.
Langston technically makes his in-ring debut at WrestleMania and has a chance to hold tag team gold, which would make history as Langston is the current NXT champion. No superstar has ever held a title on both the main roster and the developmental territory at the same time. This week, we saw Kane grab Langston by the throat, only for Big E to power out of it.
Fandango will have his first match in WWE at WrestleMania against a seasoned veteran and living legend in Chris Jericho. Jericho has done everything a superstar could ask for in his career, while Fandango is only truly starting out. It didn't work when he was simply Johnny Curtis, but he did enough in the company's eyes to be the last winner of an NXT season.
It's hard to predict how Fandango will do long-term, but he is in dire need of a strong debut, especially if it is going to be at WrestleMania. Jericho can give him that match and a nice launching point for his career. The rest is up to Fandango after that.
Ryback wrestles Mark Henry in his first-ever WrestleMania match and is in need of a WrestleMania moment for the momentum to follow. It seemed unlikely when Skip Sheffield was becoming a babyface bent on destruction, but Ryback has grown on the fans and needs a victory over a veteran like Mark Henry to validate himself.
Henry may not wrestle at WrestleMania again and someone needs to take his role over when The World's Strongest Man hangs it up. Ryback can be that guy and delivering Shell Shocked to Henry at WrestleMania can be that moment to begin that ascension.
Even as established stars, John Cena and CM Punk will be recipients of torches at WrestleMania.
Punk will have the honor of facing The Undertaker at WrestleMania, a man who has faced Triple H and two WWE Hall of Famers in the previous five WrestleManias. Punk joins a short list, but can join an even shorter one if he can become the first to ever defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Even in a loss, Punk shows how elite he really is by joining those who will rest in peace.
As for Cena, for as much as The Rock says it isn't a torch passing, it truly will be, especially if he is victorious at WrestleMania this Sunday.
Cena is essentially the face of today's WWE, but he won't truly define his generation until he can take down The Rock. The Great One is the only one left in the way of Cena, who has disposed of established stars like Randy Orton, Edge, Shawn Michaels, Triple H and so many others. The saying goes that "to be the man, you got to beat the man" and The Rock is the man no matter where he goes.
Cena's legacy doesn't get ruined with another loss, but it does strengthen among the all-time ranks. Cena truly gets a nod for the Mount Rushmore of WWE essentially if he can go one on one with The Great One and stand tall.
Much like the past in WWE, legacies get defined in the New York area. From Shawn Michaels diving off a ladder onto Razor Ramon to John Cena lifting Big Show onto his shoulders, stars are made at WrestleMania in New York.
Who will be the next great star defined this Sunday? All that is known for sure is that the young that grow old will look to the next generation as the third decade of WrestleMania concludes.
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