WWE Wrestlemania XXIX
Going into this years “Show of Shows” I had a few expectations of how the show was going to play out. Firstly The Undertaker against CM Punk would be the match of the night, secondly Triple H against Brock Lesnar would be an all out brawl and John Cena taking on The Rock would see a reverse of last years main event. On all accounts, Wrestlemania didn't disappoint.
WWE Championship Match: John Cena Vs. The Rock
Now if you went into this match expecting a catch-as-catch can classic you'd have probably thrown your television out of the window before half way. If you'd gone into it expecting to see two of the most popular WWE Superstars of all time go at it once more, with a multitude of false finishes and all their top spots thrown in for good measure you'd have had a very enjoyable time. I for one was expecting the second.
Having been disappointed with the first match the two had at last years Wrestlemania, due to I think the overpowering year long built up to which the match could never live up to, I found myself enjoying this match a whole lot more. The false finishes worked well, I was pretty sure it was over when they did the switch of last year's finish with Cena delivering an Attitude Adjustment as The Rock attempted to steal the Cenation Leader's Five Knuckle Shuffle, and even believed The Rock had it won with a huge Rock Bottom.
Despite enjoying the match overall, there were a few things that niggled at me during the match. Firstly, John Cena could clearly be seen talking to The Rock during the crossface Submission. Now, I appreciate a lot of what John does in the ring, but one thing that has always annoyed me about him is how loud he is during his matches, which after the amount of time he has spent in the business, most of it spent at the top of the biggest wrestling organisation in the world and numerous Wrestlemania Main events, Cena really should be caught calling the match during what many would consider the biggest match of the year. You could hear Jerry Lawler scrambling for a reason to why Cena was casually chatting away, passing it off as “talking smack”
Another niggle for me was the ending, not that it was a bad finish, but it just felt like the end had come two minutes earlier, especially in terms of rounding out the storyline and the theme of redemption, when Cena suckered The Rock into thinking he was going to make the same mistake as last year, that for me should had ended it there, obviously after an AA from Cena.
The Undertaker Vs. CM Punk w/Paul Heyman
Now those predicting anything less than a match of the night encounter between two of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time should probably think about watching a different show. We hadn't seen The Undertaker in a match since his epic Hell in a Cell with Triple H at last years Mania, whilst CM Punk had continued his WWE Championship run for most of the year following. So it was always going to be interesting to see how these two meshed going into the Showcase of the Immortals, especially when at one point late last year that 'Taker wouldn't even be performing on the show and CM Punk carrying an injury into the event.
The doubts over both men's fitness were quickly dispelled when the worked their way to a fantastic back and forth contest. As with many of CM Punk's greatest matches, the first ten or so minutes of the bout were slow and calculating as the two competitors got warmed up and the tension built amongst the crowd in Metlife Stadium who knew the best was still to come.
We saw number of big moves thrown in from both me, Punk's early attempt at The Deadman's Old School move set the tone for the contest going forward. Punk works the disrespectful heel character very well, helped on by the always stellar Paul Heyman. The Phenom twice went for the Last Ride both times Punk escaping, the first leading to a leap from Punk from the top rope to Spanish Announcers table, which stayed strong, to land a huge elbow drop, which almost looked like The Best in the World wasn't going to reach. The second saw Heyman pass Punk the urn they'd carried in the build up, Punk bringing it down on 'Taker's head.
This lead to probably the biggest crowd reaction of the night, Punk attempt to pin Undertaker in his own familiar style, complete with outstretched tongue. I think the New Jersey crowd truly believed the streak was over at that point, and if I'm honest so did I. That was the great thing about this match, yes everyone predicted that The Undertaker would win, but it was the times when the performers in the ring made you truly believe that the match was about to go the other way, they made you invest in the match as a whole and when 'Taker kicked out, the crowd seemed as shocked as they had been when Punk kicked out of the Tombstone Piledriver minutes earlier.
In the end it was the second Tombstone that was enough to see off Punk. And as the The Undertaker took control of the urn once more, paying tribute to the late Paul Bearer, it got me thinking... have we just seen the last match of one of the greatest of all time? For me, if The Undertaker comes back next year, it needs to be for a match of this quality and looking at the current roster, I can't see anyone else capable of having a match like this with The Undertaker. So I guess we'll have to wait and see.
No Holds Barred Match: Triple H w/Shawn Michaels Vs. Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman
Now earlier, I mentioned that my expectations for this one would be and all out brawl and on that stance this match once again delivered. With a number of decent spots involving steel chairs, steel steps and of course Triple H's trusty sledgehammer. However this match suffered from it's placing on the card, having the follow Undertaker's victory over CM Punk was always going to be difficult, with a crowd clearly physically and emotionally tired from the previous match.
Whilst this match was a decent brawl, it heavily missed the element of realism that Brock's match with John Cena at last year's Extreme Rules show had. The hatred between the two that has been mentioned over the last several weeks and pushed throughout the match by Jerry Lawler and co. just didn't seem to be evident in the bout. It's clear that Lesnar is uncomfortable with dealing with WWE storylines by the fact that he wasn't present at any of the 'Mania promotions including the official press conference and this was clear for all to see during the match.
However, despite saying this the match is put together well as you'd expect from these two veterans, as well as Paul Heyman. Each spot felt like a natural step up from the one that had been seen previously as each competitor came up with new ways to try to put their opponents away.
Once Triple H had the Kimura locked on Lesnar after focusing on his arm, especially after Michaels sweet chin music to Paul Heyman, I was legitimately willing Lesnar not to tap out, just as the Metlife came alive in the match, the repeating Kimura attempt began to build and it felt like Triple H may beat Lesnar with his own submission hold. It felt like something Triple H would have come with backstage to help boost his already huge ego, luckily my opinion of Triple H was boosted when Lesnar eventually managed to get out of the hold.
The Game eventually picked up the win with a sledgehammer shot followed by a pedigree onto the steel steps, which felt like a much more satisfying ending to the bout. However, I'm not sure exactly what The Cerebral Assassins win and continued career really brings to the table of the current WWE. Hunter can still go that's for sure, but maybe it's time to step aside and let some younger stars take the spots on these big cards.
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio w/Ricardo Rodriguez Vs. Jack Swagger w/Zeb Colter
This contest for me was the surprise of the night. I expect a good technical contest between the two, however Swagger and Del Rio went above and beyond those expectations, pulling off a great, if not a little short, technical contest with some nice reversals and some nice story telling involving both Rodriguez and Colter.
Last year, no one would have predicted that these two would be in one of the four biggest matches at Wrestlemania, with Del Rio out injured (returning the day after Wrestlemania) and Jack Swagger getting lost in the mess that was Team Jonny against Team Teddy. Swagger's run of bad luck continued for most of the year, until he was given time of for a repackage, whilst Del Rio stayed in the World Title hunt for most of the year having multiple PPV matches with Sheamus before getting lost in the card and ending up lost on Team Ziggler at Survivor Series, the answer to this, turning Del Rio into an unlikely hero. Despite thinking this could never work, I have enjoyed Del Rio's face run and the returning Jack Swagger, repackaged with a Xenophobic “Real American” gimmick seemed like the perfect opponent.
In terms of storyline build up, I thought this was one of the strongest matches on the card, helped by both stars being full time competitors and being afforded plenty of time across Raw, Smackdown and Main Event.
The ending of the match focussed on both men's finishing submission holds Del Rio's Cross Armbreaker and Swagger's Patriot Lock. Reversals were a plenty as these men showed of they're amateur wrestling ability, both managing to make each other look strong. Swagger holding on for so long in Armbreaker, allows him to stay strong going forward and hopefully we'll get a rematch between the two at Extreme Rules that will afford them the extra time they no doubt deserved for this outing.
The Best of the Rest
For me, the best match on the under card, was The Shield's victory over the make shift team of Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show. The Shield continue to be built up very well by WWE and the steady build up for them has only helped the team gain popularity and momentum as WWE look to learn from their mistakes with Nexus a few years ago. The six man tags the Shield have had over the last few PPV's have been some of the best I have ever seen. They seem to have the psychology of these types of matches nailed on and the same could be said for tonight.
The biggest moment of the match came when Big Show managed to spear all three member of The Shield at once as they attempted their triple powerbomb on Sheamus. As well as Seth Rollin's dangerous dive to the outside, where he seemed to hit the barricade pretty hard, if he's not injured in some way, he's very lucky after Randy Orton failed to absorb any of the dive.
Towards the end of the match, WWE teased a Randy Orton heel turn, as Orton stole a tag from The Big Show, eventually leading to an RKO on Seth Rollins, and straight into a huge spear from Roman Reigns which lead to the victory. However, WWE in my opinion went for the easy options, turning Big Show instantly back, with two knock-out punches to Sheamus and Orton. This seems the case with WWE at the moment, they look scared to make that leap in case it goes wrong, with both Orton and a large proportion fans calling for a heel turn it's clear what should have happened, but maybe WWE just sees it as too much of a risk.
The Fandango and Chris Jericho matches was marred with a number of errors in a match that did neither men any favours. A lot was expected from these after WWE held off the former Johnny Curtis's début until the Granddaddy of them All and against a competitor of Chris Jericho's standing, it's understandable that the pressure was huge on the two to perform. However that performance never came and the match felt like the two going through the motions, with the awkward ending not helping towards this. It also seemed an odd decision for Jericho to kick out of Fandango's finish on his début, and Fandango to still win.
The Tag Team title contest, featuring Team Hell No facing the team of Dolph Ziggler and the debuting Big E Langston, was a solid contest but forgettable one. Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler proved during their short time in the ring, why they are considered two the most technically gifted competitors in the WWE with some stellar ring work, whilst Kane continues to amaze with his ability to still go at this level on a full time basis and Big E looked solid on his main roster début. A lot of people expected this loss would lead to Ziggler cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase later in the night, however this was not to be, and I'd hazard a guess that Ziggler's comments about The Rock and Cena earlier in the week might have something to do with it.
Mark Henry against Ryback went longer than I had expected but the bulk of the match was pretty much how everyone saw it. Two wrestlers of this size were never going to have a technical master class, it was was always going to be two big guys throwing each other around. They managed to keep both men strong with Henry picking up the victory, followed by Ryback lifting Henry up for a Shellshock, which was a spectacular sight. Ryback must have been training after being unable to lift Paul Heyman at Raw house show last year!
The pre-show featured the Intercontinental Championship match between Wade Barrett and The Miz. The match was had not much difference from the match they had on Raw a few weeks ago, about the same length and similar work from both. It was technically sound with no real botches of note, but felt like it was just missing something and seeing as the pre-show was a full hour could have done with having longer than it was given. The finish was nice with The Miz finally finding a decent way to get into the Figure Four Leg Lock which he has butchered for weeks.
Unfortunately the Tons of Funk/Funkadactyls Vs. Rhodes Scholars/Bella Twins was cut from the show. Although this would never have set the world a light it would have been a nice change of pace for the show.
Overall, I thought Wrestlemania XXIX was an enjoyable show, which largely lived up to my expectations (not that those were particularly high in some places) The variety of matches featured seemed like a good balance for The Shows of Shows, which I think would have satisfied the more casual of fans. Of course there is never please some areas of fandom, who will complain about the title being on a part timer and then complain again when, arguably, the hardest work guy in the company takes the title from him. Will complain one year about a main event not being for the WWE Championship, and complain the next when the main event is for the WWE Championship.
Personally I think the order did harm the show in it's latter stages. The sheer energy from the crowd during the CM Punk Vs. Undertaker match left the crowd tired for Triple H Vs. Brock Lesnar which couldn't live up to what had gone before, leaving the crowd flat going into the Main Event. I would have swapped the Punk/Taker with Triple H/Lesnar which should have lead to a louder more invested crowd for The Game and The Next Big Thing, with the quality of The Phenom and The Best in the World's match being able to draw the fans back. The Rock and John Cena might have then suffered, but if Diddy's performance was moved in between the two, it would have given the audience a chance to breath and hopefully be ready for the WWE Championship Main Event.
That's Wrestlemania done for another year, if you have any opinions of your own leave them in the comment box below. You can also message me on Twitter @IamNotAlanDale and if you can find me on Facebook I'm under my real name.
Time to get ready for tonights big Raw. I'm excited to see how it plays out.