Weekend's Best Bets -- Final Four and Wrestlemania 28
When I was a kid, there were only a small handful of sporting events to which you set your calendar/watch, events that owned certain weekends or weeks of the calendar year. They were the biggies: Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals.
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But with the advent of a million different television channels, a 24/7 news cycle and pay-per-view, the land rush for shaping our viewing habits via occupation of the open dates on the year-round calendar has been fast and furious in the last decade.
Hence, the first weekend of April(ish) has morphed into a three-day extravaganza that sees the men's basketball Final Four sandwiched around WWE's own Super Bowl, Wrestlemania.
This might be my favorite weekend of the year.
And I'm not afraid to say that, despite a Final Four with marquee value out the wazoo and despite my being one of approximately twenty Americans who unconditionally love college basketball any time of year, I am ten times more fired up for Wrestlemania. Call me a dork, call me a loser, get in line.
And an added bonus to this year's Wrestlemania experience? You can actually wager online on the results! And yes before you get all uppity with me, I know the results are predetermined, so you can save the "How is this any different than wagering on whether or not Dwight keeps his job at Dunder Mifflin?" Both involve scripts. I get it.
To me, the most intriguing thing about wagering on Wrestlemania is that every "smart" wrestling fan thinks they know who is going to "win" all of the matches on Sunday. Our collective knowledge of the inner workings of the business side of WWE are baked into a slew of money lines on these matches, most of which are skewed heavily toward one side or the other. (The only match that is even close to a 50/50 wager is the Intercontinental title match between Cody Rhodes and the 500-pound Big Show.)
People who scoff at professional wrestling and its millions (and MILLIONS) of fans, the naysayers who condescendingly try and point out that "You do know the outcome is predetermined, right?", they don't realize that the actual outcome of each match is fairly far down on the list of reasons we watch. It's the ring entrances, the music, the stories, and the psychological roller coaster on which each match puts you. Those are the draw. Who wins matters, but not really. If that makes sense.
So in a way, these wagering odds for Wrestlemania 28 are validation of that. The numbers indicate a slew of one-sided outcomes. That couldn't be further from the truth. We may know who is going to win, but how compelling the journey of getting to a pin or submission in each match -- that's why we plunk down our hard-earned money. (Or in my case, have a Wrestlemania party at Nick's Place!)
Okay, now let me hop off my soapbox and give you my predictions (Odds for each side are in parentheses after their names; quick wagering primer -- the minus number indicates the favorite and how much you'd have to risk to WIN $100; the plus number indicates the underdog and how much you would win by risking $100. And if that doesn't make sense, you probably don't care enough to read my stuff on here anyway):
Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos (-350) vs WWE Divas Champion Beth Phoenix & Eve (+225)
This match is WWE's attempt to get some crossover star power onto the card as Menounos, who has been in a WWE ring before, teams up with Kelly Kelly, who has somehow managed to become a mainstream media darling despite having the personality of a potted plant. They take on the Divas champ Beth Phoenix (affectionately known as "The Glamazon") and Eve, who in the last six weeks has become the definition of a "jezebel." Just trust me. Anyway, this little moment took place on Extra:
If Menounos were an actual wrestler, ironically I'd take Phoenix and Eve exacting some revenge on her, but there's no way WWE let's the token celeb on the card (Menounos) skulk off with an "L." Pick: Menounos and Double K
Randy Orton (-500) vs Kane (+300)
Every single match on this card has some sort of backstory, flimsy as some of them may be, except this one. In this match, I'm pretty sure the participants don't even know why they hate each other. Best part of this match will be Orton's entrance and the inevitable point during the match where Orton tries to rip off Kane's mask (a required token spot for any match involving a masked wrestler), even though Kane has wrestled maskless for the better part of the last decade and we know exactly what he looks like. With all these heavy favorites on the card, there will be at least one upset. Let's roll the dice with the big red machine +300! Pick: Kane