There were three big marquee matches coming into WrestleMania 29. Most of them delivered when the time came — even if they weren’t that interesting to me.
The Rock and John Cena faced off again, because it made sense to do it. I guess in the end, they wanted Cena to go over strong and for The Rock to officially pass the torch to him. Problem is, no one wanted a happy ending to this rivalry. They wanted to see the Rock lay out Cena. If we realistically look at things, of course that couldn’t, and in fact did not happen. Cena is the big star, him being upstaged by the former big star is silly. So yes, they were all buds at the end of the day. No one liked it, but what can you do, WWE as usual booked themselves into a corner and you can’t do anything about it other than deal with it.
Brock Lesnar returned to the WWE shortly after WrestleMania 28 and immediately set his sights on John Cena. Instead of having him come in and be this undefeated monster, he lost. Yes. They had him lose his first match in. It’s still astounding to this day. But anyway, when he came back his next target was Triple H. He had him sign a contract saying that if he lost, he would retire from wrestling. Nevermind Triple H was only showing up once a year anyway, but Triple H agreed to the bout, essentially promising that he was going to win against Brock Lesnar.
This year for the Undertaker, they had a tournament to see who would face him. In the finals of said tournament, CM Punk defeated John Cena in one of their best matches to date to secure the right to face him. This is where the good stuff ends. Around the same time, Paul Bearer died. Since WWE creative couldn’t help themselves but be total dicks, they did a storyline where CM Punk stole Paul Bearer’s urn with his ashes in it (kayfabe, obviously) and tormented Undertaker with it leading to the WrestleMania event. Not only was it offensive, it really wasn’t needed, and took a match that people were looking forward to and made it completely uninteresting.
But that’s WWE. STORIES triumph over stories. It’s their biggest problem right now, but it doesn’t look like it’s set to change anytime soon.
They showed a nice video narrated by Chris Christie regarding the rebuilding of New Jersey and New York following superstorm Sandy.
Big Show, Sheamus & Randy Orton vs. The Shield: They had a pretty good back and forth match. Sheamus took two of them out at once when he clubbed Ambrose then followed with a rolling senton on top of Rollins. They isolate Sheamus and go for the triple powerbomb but Big Show comes in with a spear. Orton makes a hot tag as he takes out a springboarding Rollins with an RKO but walks into a spear by Reigns, allowing Ambrose to pick up the win over Orton. ***
Big Show was mad after the match and punched out both guys, turning heel for the seventy millionth time. It’s only been two years and he’s turned at least 2 or 3 times since, legit. Who could possibly care about him in the least as a character.
Mark Henry vs. Ryback: Who booked this match in a live scenario? One would think that since Ryback came into this as a big, relatively undefeated guy with a push that he would win against Mark Henry. Well, lets see here. Mark Henry had the heat on him a while. Ryback made a comeback with a big clothesline and was set to hit the shellshock, but instead landed on him and covered him for the win. WWE star making, everyone. *
Ryback is tended to after the match, but Henry calls them off. Ryback comes back and lays him out with the shellshock. So here’s a question — WHY NOT JUST HAVE HIM WIN. Maybe I’m too stupid to understand WWE’s great critical thinking here.
Big E & Dolph Ziggler vs. Team Hell No: I know a lot of people liked the skits between Daniel Bryan and Kane, but having a team where they’re the champions, constantly say their catch phrase back and forth and just generally didn’t get along for the majority of their run annoyed me to no end. It came off as so Russoific. Big E was the big vocal point of the match, looking dominant against both Kane and Bryan. Ziggler is in and grabs the briefcase from AJ, but Kane lays him out with a chokeslam and Bryan headbutts him off the top rope to retain the tag team titles, the story being tonight that Daniel Bryan and Kane came together and settled there differences. Woo hoo. It was fine. **1/2
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango: Remember when Fandango was a thing for a few months? Well, you all know how it went, so whatever. JBL kept putting him over as this new guy that never wrestled before, even though anyone with a brain would remember this being the former Johnny Curtis. Then again, I think Curtis was on Smackdown maybe two times before being demoted back to developmental, so I guess it works here. They had a solid match that people got into as time went on. Fandango hit his leg drop off the top rope but Jericho kicked out. He made a comeback and hit a lionsault, but landed wrong on impact and Fandango cradled him for the upset. In the long run, it meant nothing, but hey, they were interested in him for a while. **1/2
Miz, in a terrible role as babyface, submitted Wade Barrett in the middle of the ring to win the intercontinental title in the pre-show.
Sean Combs came out and performed a medley of his songs.
World Heavyweight Championship – Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Jack Swagger: The latter got no entrance. At WrestleMania. Geek. They tried making Del Rio into this big Mexican star, but they went overboard with it and didn’t let it be organic, a big problem nowadays in the WWE, and it didn’t work. Not like it had much of a chance, as they completely botched the babyface turn to a baffling degree. Zeb Coulter did a promo before the match, insulting foreigners and the like. The match was fine, but there wasn’t much heat. They traded submission attempts. Coulter put Swagger’s foot on the ropes at one point and he and Ricardo got into it. Zeb kicked him in his injured leg and when Del Rio came out to confront, Swagger jumped him. He throws him back in the ring, but Del Rio catches him with the armbar and Swagger has to tap. **3/4
CM Punk vs. The Undertaker: Living Colour performed “Cult of Personality” as CM Punk came down to the ring and it was great. Slow start. Back and forth but Punk counters the old school and puts the boots to him. He instead does the old school to him and maintains control. Undertaker eventually manages to crotch him, and tries for the top rope suicide dive but Heyman meets him on the apron. This allows Punk to come back with a springboard clothesline. Undertaker comes back out of nowhere with a chokeslam. He takes him to the outside and tries a Last Ride through the table but Punk comes back and hits a big elbow…that doesn’t break the table. Oops. Punk crawls over to Undertaker when they both make it back into the ring but he walks right into the Hell’s Gate. Punk counters with a roll up then applies the anaconda vise. Undertaker falls to the floor, when then rises up and glares at Undertaker, but misses a chokeslam and instead Punk hits the GTS, but Undertaker bounces off the ropes and hits the tombstone for a nearfall. Some back and forth has Undertaker coming back and going for the last ride, but Punk grabs the urn he’s been carrying around and then hits Undertaker with it for another nearfall. Punk does the cut throat gesture and tries for the GTS again, but Undertaker transitions into a tombstone to win the match. A really great back and forth match that had a bunch of cool spots, and the heat was totally there. ****1/4
Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H: Shawn Michaels, who looked like he had just returned from a long hunting trip, came out to support Triple H. Match quickly goes to the outside where Brock unleashes a huge belly to belly suplex, then follows that up by driving him through a table, then gives him an overhead belly to belly into the broken table. Brock destroys him some more back in the ring, but Triple H starts a comeback. Brock goes to the outside and targets Shawn, but Triple H jumps him and sends him through the barricade. Brock comes back, but Shawn tries to interfere with a superkick, only to get laid out with an F5. Triple H seizes upon the distraction with a pedigree, but Brock kicks out. Triple H opts for the sledgehammer but Brock comes back with the F5 but Triple H kicks out as well. Brock takes out steel steps, but Triple H refuses to give up. He yells at him to retire, but Triple H slaps him in the face. Brock responds by putting him in the kimura lock, but Triple H escapes. Triple H escapes from another kimura attempt and posts Brock. Triple H whacks Brock’s bum arm with then locks him a kimura lock of his own. He tells Paul Heyman to help him but Shawn comes to and drives him back with a superkick. Brock lifts him up and drives him into the steel steps but Hunter locks it on again, only for Brock to do it again. Then they do it again for a third time, but then Triple H fights back with a DDT into the steel steps then plants Brock with the pedigree on top of the steel steps to retain his career. This held up a lot more than I thought it would be. Great, dramatic match. ****1/4
Mick Foley, Trish Stratus, Bob Backlund, Booker T, Donald Trump and Bruno Sammartino are inducted into the hall of fame this year. Sammartino’s induction is a good indication that you never say never when it comes to WWE mending relationships. Hell, you should have realized that when Bret Hart came back.
WWE Championship – The Rock (c) vs. John Cena: Cena comes back with the first offensive move of the night with a clothesline. This was really slow and didn’t have a whole lot of heat at first. back and forth moves and rest holds. After STF and spinebuster attempts Rock locks him into the sharpshooter but Cena escapes and hits the blue thunder bomb. Crowd is totally not behind Cena as he does his comeback. Rock dodges the five knuckle shuffle and hits a DDT. He locks him into a crossface but Rock escapes and tries for the people’s elbow. Cena locks him the STF but Rock escapes. Cena hits the AA but Rock kicks out of that too. Rock comes back with hits the elbow but Cena escapes to the floor. Cena comes back and they exchange punches, then goes for another AA but Rock counters with the Rock Bottom for another nearfall. They do a callback to last year where Rock mocks Cena and goes for the five knuckle shuffle, but Cena hops back up and hits another AA, but still doesn’t kick out. Cena follows that with a Rock Bottom of his own, but nope. Finally, after several finisher attempts and flashbacks to last year, Cena hits the AA on the Rock for the fourth or fifth time (lost count) for the win. Good, not great, and not as good as last year’s match. Though still good! ***1/4
John and Rock have a long verbal debate after the match with them eventually shaking hands and hugging. The crowd sure was indifferent to that. Cena leaves as the Rock’s music plays, because I dunno. Oh, ok. He eventually makes his way to the stage where Cena’s still waiting. He raises Cena’s hand as fireworks go off, a symbol of passing the torch as Rock leaves and Cena celebrates, closing out the show.
Final Thoughts: Good show! The undercard wasn’t that memorable, but the three big matches of the night delivered. The main event was supposed to be this great match to end this great feud, but I think in the end it was just a good match to cap off a very indifferent feud. The first match was a dream match of sorts, I don’t know in the end if there was enough interest to do a second. Well, ok, there was interest, but not GIANT interest, you know what I mean? Regardless, this was a good WrestleMania with some questionable booking, but then again what booking hasn’t been questionable in the last few years for WWE.