WrestleMania 29: Where It All Happens … Again … and Again … and Again …
There’s an inherent feeling about the 29th edition of WrestleMania — that it is predictable. And, after looking at the card, a fan could probably easily deduce many of the outcomes.
You see, despite all of its glory, history, pageantry, etc., this year’s ‘Mania lacks a certain luster, notoriety, and even buzz. Maybe it’s the lack of a solid build (courtesy of the creative team’s indecisiveness), the fact that it’s going to be hard to top last year’s spectacle, or maybe it’s because of this…
Rematches. Rematches galore. Rematches that make the official line-up look a big bag of “we saw that coming.”
Even as a wrestling fan, I’m finding it hard to remember that The Granddaddy of Them All is taking place this Sunday, emanating from MetLife Stadium in New Jersey/New York. For all the reasons listed above, I’m not as excited as I have been in years past, which might be why I scheduled a golf outing with some friends for that afternoon and why I’m also more amped for the Season 6 premiere of Mad Men that night.
Nevertheless, it is still WrestleMania and a lot of the time, the WWE does its best work when they have their backs against the wall to put on a good show, and this feels like one of those times. So, without further ado and rambling, let us dive into the night’s matches…
Intercontinental Championship: Wade Barrett (champ) vs. The Miz (Preshow match)
This is actually kind of a rematch as well, as these two have battled quite frequently on episodes of RAW and SmackDown and have had numerous encounters, leading to the feud. Barrett has held the title since December, and has succeeded in every title defense. He is one of the future stars of the company, and deserves the push he has been getting. However, The Miz hasn’t had a good win in a while and has started to take on some of the characteristics of his kind-of-now-mentor, the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, including having Flair bestowing his legendary submission move, The Figure-Four Leg Lock. This could actually be a solid opening match to get the crowd started and start the night off right, even if it is just on the preshow.
• WINNER: The Miz
Tons of Funk and The Funkadactyls vs. Team Rhodes Scholars and The Bella Twins
A throwaway match if I’ve ever seen one. It looks like a desperate attempt to get some people on the card so they can cash their checks later that night. If this is an attempt to reinvigorate the tag division and the Divas division at the same time, it’s not looking like that good of a decision. I don’t even remember how this feud got started to begin with, so why even really bother researching it, even though Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes are two of my favorite performers on the roster. I’m just going to make a prediction here for the hell of it. I honestly don’t care.
• WINNER: Team Rhodes Scholars and The Bella Twins
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
When I first saw on a dirt sheet that this match may happen, my first instinct was to think that the reporter was simply trolling. Then, the next episode of Monday Night RAW laid the foundations for that feud, with Jericho making fun of his opponent’s name. Fandango, formerly Johnny Curtis, is a dancing machine, who has yet to actually wrestle a match, refusing to get into the ring until the ring announcers or fellow wrestlers pronounce his name right. Well, now he gets to show the world what he can do when he gets in the ring this Sunday against one of the best all-around performers this industry has ever seen. Unfortunately for Jericho, being this late in his career and being pretty much a part-time performer has relegated him to the role of putting over young talent and giving them a good rub, and what better way to get over than by beating a six-time World Champion, nine-time Intercontinental Champion, the first Undisputed Champion in history, and the inventor of all things (according to Internet memes). And THAT is what I see happening.
• WINNER: Faaaaaadaaaaannnnggoooooo (or something like that).
Tag Team Championship: Team Hell No (champ) vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/ AJ) and Big E Langsto
At the Royal Rumble, I originally predicted that Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) would drop their championships to the aforementioned Team Rhodes Scholars, leading to a ‘Mania feud between Kane and Bryan that would culminate in a singles match. Unfortunately that did not happen, so now we have the tag champs, who have held the belts since last September, taking on the team of Zigger and the massive Big E. It is kind of hard to predict what is going to happen here because even though the match was set, there has been no real interaction between the two teams so basing a prediction off that is difficult. But, I think there’s a chance to make something cool happen, and that would mean Ziggler and Big E taking the gold away from the champs. Hopefully, that would lead to a post-match argument between Kane and Bryan, which would then turn into that singles match I thought would happen. So, for the hell of it, I’m going to predict that. And even if the impromptu match doesn’t happen, I still think Ziggler and Big E walk away with gold.
• WINNER: Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston
Ryback vs. Mark Henry
Mark Henry is billed as The World’s Strongest Man, after his success in competitive power lifting. Ryback is being pushed as the future of the WWE and is a behemoth in his own right. This is slated to be a simple, powerhouse match between two huge guys that will probably feature a lot of shows of strength and at least one “Are you kidding me?” spot. I don’t know, maybe Ryback will set Henry up for his Shell Shock finisher and drive Henry right through the ring. That would allow the WWE to show a video package or two and give the crowd a slight breather to get them ready for the next match while the stage crew repairs the damaged ring. I’m obviously just spitballing, but this match is going to be short, sweet, and to the point.
• WINNER: Ryback
Six-Man Tag Team Match: The Shield vs. Sheamus, Randy Orton, and Big Show
After debuting last November, the group known as The Shield has been wreaking havoc on the WWE, taking out superstars left and right, executing what they believe is true justice. And they haven’t just been wreaking havoc. They have also been perfect, as in a perfect 3-0 in matches, including two pay-per-view contests, the latter coming at Elimination Chamber against the “Super Team” of Sheamus, Ryback, and John Cena. They have been booked to near perfection, and they are as over as any heel group in recent memory, maybe more so than what The Nexus was. Now, they are once again pitted against another super team, but this time it’s on the biggest stage of them all. In what should be a high-intensity, volatile match, the team of Sheamus, Orton, and Show will have their hands full and even though this is a six-man tag match, expect a lot of things to go down outside the ring, leading to the desolation of the match and in that environment, The Shield will thrive, as they have in their past big-time matches and what a better atmosphere to pick up a big win in than ‘Mania. #BelieveInTheShield
• WINNER: The Shield
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio (champ) vs. Jack Swagger (w/ Zeb Coulter)
Jack Swagger returned back in late January from about a six-month or so hiatus from WWE, complete with new character and everything. Granted, he still has the lisp which sometimes make its hard to take him seriously as a competitor, but his new character is much better than we had before. Now emboldened as hard-line conservative type that the Tea Party would be proud of, he has elevated himself to the main event by way of winning the No. 1 Contender Elimination Chamber match back in February. Along with his mouthpiece, Zeb Coulter, Swagger should now be considered a force to be reckoned with. And the whole storyline with Del Rio is right up the alley of the American political theater — immigration. You see, Del Rio is of Mexican descent and Swagger and Coulter have been airing long-winded promos that sell the idea of an America without immigrants. It’s borderline racist and even got some mainstream attention from some of the political pundits on Fox News and MSNBC. But then, even with all the publicity, it appeared that Swagger ruined his chance at the title when he was arrested for DUI and possession of narcotics, a huge no-no in the PG Era. But, it has been a long time since that incident and now the tables seem pretty even, setting up what could be a solid showdown between two good workers and a somewhat dead, but still good, storyline. Nevertheless, this is Del Rio’s title to lose.
• WINNER: Alberto Del Rio
No Holds Barred Career Threatening Match: Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar — If HHH loses, he must retire.
Brock Lesnar shattered everything we knew about WWE when he returned in what is now a full year ago. He is the beast, the anomaly, the genetic freak whose exploits are well known in both the wrestling business and the UFC. But right now, this is where he makes his money — and boy, does he have quite possibly the best contract in sports entertainment history. He gets to pretty much sit at home all year until the WWE calls for him, then look menacing for a few minutes here and there while Paul Heyman speaks for him before engaging in a high-profile, main event-caliber match, like he gets to do at ’Mania. Now see, these two squared off at SummerSlam, which resulted in a Lesnar win, meaning that this is now Rematch No. 2 on the card! HHH returned with a vengeance earlier this year, seeking to honor his real life father-in-law, Vince McMahon, who took the brunt of a Lesnar F-5 on an episode of RAW, sending him to the hospital for hip surgery. Challenging Lesnar, Trips made it known that he was out for blood but before he could get an answer from the beast, Heyman made it clear that if The Game wanted Lesnar at ‘Mania, he would have to sign the contract before knowing what stipulations would be on the table, then and only then, would he get his chance at revenge. So here we sit, two WWE behemoths, one a future Hall of Famer and the other an absolute terror of an individual in Lesnar, who made it a point to toy with HHH’s mind by attacking his family and close friends, with one of those close friends (and my favorite of all-time) being Shawn Michaels, who will be in HHH’s corner Sunday night. Now, the unwritten rules of wrestling state that if one person gets the upper hand in a feud, the other must get that victory back, so its pretty conceivable that HHH would put himself over on the grand stage, meaning his career would continue into perhaps another mega-showdown at WrestleMania 30. But, he is also a smart businessman with an eye toward the future of the company and with Lesnar now being signed through WrestleMania 31, making sure the beast retains that aura and mystique is critical. Either way, this should be an all-our brawl of a match.
• WINNER: Brock Lesnar
The Streak: CM Punk vs. The Undertaker
There is no denying that The Undertaker and his 20-0 mark at WrestleMania is one of the legendary statistics in sports entertainment history, and is probably the most revered. Even though he is a part-time performer now, pretty much only showing up for a big ‘Mania match, he always puts on a show and is respected by the locker room and fans alike. Now, he puts The Streak on the line against CM Punk, the man who holds the longest WWE Championship reign of the modern era and is the self-proclaimed Best In The World. These two worked together in the past in a feud over the World Heavyweight Championship back in 2009 (meaning Rematch No. 3), but it wasn’t that great as the matches were spotty and the feud somewhat forced and relying on old tricks. So, seeing those two facing each other again could spell in-ring disaster, but Punk has matured so much since then that his experience is through the roof. He is now of the caliber of putting on a great match with anybody, and should now be able to do the same with ‘Taker. Unfortunately, the feud turned personal when longtime Undertaker manager and friend Paul Bearer (William Moody) passed away a few weeks ago. And, instead of letting it go, the WWE turned it into a storyline between Punk and ‘Taker, with Punk stealing the legendary urn associated with ‘Taker, toying with his mind and emotional state. Before the death of Bearer, I would’ve guessed that Punk had decent odds of ending the streak, something like a 30/70 chance of walking out the winner. But now, it is almost guaranteed that ‘Taker wins, if it wasn’t going to happen already to keep the streak alive. For what it’s worth, this match should be better than what most fans are expecting.
• WINNER: The Undertaker
WWE Championship: The Rock (champ) vs. John Cena
Well, what else is new. John Cena is in the main event of WrestleMania. And look who he is facing…The Rock. So much for that Once In A Lifetime drivel that the WWE promoted so much and for so long last year when these two squared off (Rematch No. 4!). Sure, WWE seems to think that adding the WWE Title to the equation makes everything so much different. But truthfully, it’s not. It is still two slightly overrated guys facing each other in what should be a carbon copy of their encounter from last year’s Show of Shows. Though, this time it seems only a tiny bit different, especially with the way the feud has been built. Ever since winning the Royal Rumble and a shot at the title, Cena has talked about this being his redemption and saving grace. That The Rock didn’t beat him last year, but was instead his own fault and decision-making. Through all of this, he seemed to be pissed off and agitated, and that has led to him dropping hints of a possible heel turn come Sunday, something wrestling fans around the world would rejoice for. But that would mean ruining Cena’s squeaky-clean image and in the PG Era, that would be bad for business, so don’t expect anything like that to happen. Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin, The Rock has been carrying the belt around Hollywood, filming movies and TV appearances while only appearing on RAW or SmackDown sparingly, irritating the hardcore fans and casuals who are now tuning in every week to see him. A while back, I said it was only a matter of time before the belt was back around Cena’s waist, and this looks like the perfect opportunity to make that happen. And hopefully, that character change is coming, which would make this show all the more worth the price.
• WINNER: John Cena
So there you have it. The stage is set. A predictable ‘Mania line-up but still with the potential to do some solid things. If anything, at least it is still WrestleMania, and not some throwaway PPV.