Thursday, March 28, 2024

The History of WWE WrestleMania: XXIX

Once in a Lifetime!  And by "once," we mean "once plus one"......

MetLife Stadium - 4/7/13

'Mania 29 will go down as one of the least exciting PPVs ever.  It wasn't good enough or bad enough to be very memorable.  It's a completely middle-of-the-road WrestleMania that didn't really advance any storylines or elevate anyone.  The three main event matches featured four part-timers and only two current stars.  Two of the three main events were unnecessary rematches of recent bouts that weren't good enough to warrant a second go-around.  It didn't feel like the company took any risks whatsoever with this event, and the result and quality of nearly every match was terribly predictable.

First the pluses: to be fair a few of the undercard matches were fun.  The opening six-man between The Shield and Randy Orton/Sheamus/Big Show accomplished perfectly what any good opening match should.  It was high energy, showcased some young, exciting talent, and got the crowd hyped.

The Tag Team Title match of Team Hell No vs. Dolph Ziggler and Big E. Langston was also solid, though too short to be significant.  But at least Daniel Bryan finally got a real match at WrestleMania, and even got the win.

Chris Jericho and Fandango had an unexpectedly good match that seemed to start Fandango's WWE career off with a bang.  Of course the company didn't follow up on it and so Jericho put him over for nothing.  Stuff like this is why a scatterbrained 68-year-old shouldn't be booking the show.

The Undertaker and CM Punk predictably stole the show with a dramatic and memorable 4-star bout that showed Punk able to hold his own against The Phenom.  For the first time in many years it seemed The Streak might actually be in jeopardy, and in hindsight given what happened the following year they probably should've just let Punk be the guy to end it.  It would've done more for Punk than it did for Brock.  2013 was the year Punk became Jobber to the Part-Timers and it was instrumental in his leaving the company in 2014.  Throw the guy a frickin' bone.

Wow, this wallpaper's BOSS.

The final plus of this show was that there was no pointless Divas match.  Now I am all for women's wrestling if it's presented well.  Unfortunately at this point WWE almost never presented the Divas in an interesting or purposeful way, and every Divas match just ended up eating 10 minutes of valuable PPV time.

The Indifferent: Alberto Del Rio, fresh off an ill-advised face turn (seriously, who thought this was a good idea?), faced Tea Party-inspired Jack Swagger for the World Title.  The match was ok but immediately forgettable, and I don't think anyone gave Swagger much of a chance to win the belt.

Now, the minuses, and they're big ones: Ryback faced Mark Henry in a second-match snorefest.  What could've been a good Battle of the Bulls never got out of first gear and inexplicably ended with Henry going over clean.  At this point Ryback desperately needed a PPV win, coming off four consecutive big-match losses.  Henry would be sidelined with an injury right after this and Ryback would be positioned as Cena's #1 contender, so having Henry win was totally counterproductive.

The two most egregious offenses on this show were sadly the two top-billed matches.  Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H was a longer, more boring version of their Summerslam 2012 disappointment.  I'm still baffled that WWE booked TWO rematches between these two.  Lesnar's post-UFC record would sink to 1-2 after this match, making him one of the worst-used big ticket stars in the company's history as of that moment (Seriously, they paid him $5mil that year to go 1 for 3???).

The other main event was also a rematch I didn't want, as John Cena challenged The Rock for the WWE Title.  Unlike their first encounter this match had no novelty and little dramatic intrigue.  And somehow The Rock seemed rustier this time despite this being his third PPV match in as many months.  After 24 unremarkable minutes and a pointlessly long sequence of finisher reversals, Cena finally did what he should've done a year earlier and defeated The Rock.

God, even THEY look bored....

WrestleMania XXIX just felt very much phoned in.  The company put together an overly safe, predictable card that featured way too many past stars and almost no opportunity for current full-timers to move up.  Think about it, the next night Rock and Taker were both gone again, Triple H and Lesnar would have one more match before disappearing themselves, and Punk would take two months off.  When five of your top six WrestleMania stars are gone within a month, you haven't properly built up your current roster.  And WWE wondered why they couldn't sustain PPV buys after 'Mania.

Best Match: Undertaker vs. CM Punk
Worst Match: Ryback vs. Mark Henry
What I'd Change: Punk should've been added to the Rock-Cena match.  He had just finished a long, excellent WWE Title run and deserved a 'Mania main event.  Taker should've fought Lesnar, and Hunter should've sat this one out.
Most Disappointing Match: The Rock vs. John Cena - While I had no interest in seeing this again, I at least thought they'd earn their main event slot.  That didn't happen.
Most Pleasant Surprise: WWE cutting the scheduled Mixed 8-person tag match
Overall Rating: 5.5/10

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