WrestleMania 29 comes to us from New Jersey’s Met Life Stadium, instead of MSG, which had become too expensive to run TV from, sadly. This WrestleMania marks the start of the ‘NXT Generation’ as superstars that have come from NXT as a developmental brand are starting to come onto the main roster. The first to do this is the Shield, who are making their WrestleMania debuts after running through the roster for three months.
There are other things going on at this WrestleMania of course, The Rock/Cena feud will reach its climax, CM Punk and the Undertaker will lock horns, and Triple H will put his career on the line against the returning Brock Lesnar. So, does WrestleMania 29 live up to this card? Let’s find out!
We start off with a gorgeous tribute to the people of New York and New Jersey, who had withstood Superstorm Sandy, which totally trashed the Northeast, especially New Jersey and NYC. I don’t like Chris Christie, but that was great. I’m also crazy about ‘I’m Coming Home’. The New Jersey National Guard is there, and MetLife Stadium is packed.
Now, we get a promo about WrestleMania moments, and there have been tons of them. This includes promos for the three big matches: Taker/Punk, Triple H/Lesnar, and Rock/Cena.
Six Man Tag Match: The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins) vs Randy Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show
Sheamus comes out first to what sounds like a pretty good pop, Orton is next to another great pop. Big Show doesn’t get quite as big a pop, but everyone seems really amped up for this. In a show of solidarity, Orton, Show, and Sheamus come to the ring together.
JBL points out the big problem with this set up: Orton, Show, and Sheamus are great individuals, while the Shield is a TEAM. Lawler thinks Orton and company are the people who can beat the Shield, who have been running roughshod over the roster since their debut.
The Shield get a really good pop, coming through the crowd. None of them look nervous, which is surprising. I’d be peeing my pants.
This was a really good match, all three members of the Shield were a little rough around the edges, especially Roman, but everyone looked really great.
I actually forgot how great the Shield were as a team back in 2013. I hear a chant for Ambrose going, but with the open stadium, it’s a little hard to tell.
Orton and company seem to like to take the clothes off the Shield. Rollins dang near killed himself in a suicide dive.
Winner: Dean Ambrose gets the pin on Orton for his team. Big Show is ticked that Orton tagged himself in when Sheamus was going for Show and KO’s both Orton and Sheamus before leaving.
Highlights: The Shield!!!!!!!! Ambrose shirtless (I’m shallow, what can I say?). Big Show spearing the Shield and saving Sheamus from the Triple Powerbomb. Big Show KOing Orton and Sheamus.
Comments: Seeing all three members of the Shield in their first WrestleMania is fantastic.
We get a promo about Rock/Cena Part II. I admit, I didn’t like Rock beating Cena in 2012, but this was probably already penciled in, so I won’t complain about it. I forgot that 2012 was a pretty rotten one for Cena personally and professionally. I won’t comment on Rock beating Punk since I haven’t seen the match in awhile.
Mark Henry vs Ryback
Mark Henry comes out first to a decent sounding pop. Ryback’s pop is quieter and it’s hard for me to say who the crowd is rooting for, to be honest.
We start off with a lot of trash talk, at least Ryback does. If you’re looking for something technical, skip ahead. This was a rough, physical match. It also had some old-school elements, such as bearhugs.
This match was slow, but very good. Both guys looked great and Ryback’s loss was more because of Henry’s veteran instincts than anything else.
Winner: Mark Henry by pinfall. Ryback is in bad shape after that finish, but Henry decides to put Ryback in the Hall of Pain for good measure, but Ryback hits a spinebuster and goes for Shell Shock and nails it this time.
Highlights: Ryback going for Shell Shock on Henry and getting squashed due to Henry grabbing the ropes.
Comment: I’m not sure what this feud was all about, but this match was interesting, if a little slow.
We’re getting getting a promo for some WWE toys and JBL has it in for his Rey Mysterio toy, due to his embarrassing loss at WrestleMania 25. A partnership with Special Olympics is also announced. The Special Olympics team is on the stage with Stephanie McMahon and Chris Christie.
WWE Tag Team Championship: Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane) vs Dolph Ziggler and Big E (with AJ Lee)
Ziggler and Big E are out first to a decent sounding pop. It’s weird to see Big E not part of New Day. I like this more serious Big E better, personally.
Team Hell No get a great pop. Ziggler insists that AJ kiss him in front of Bryan. Bryan’s response is to kick Ziggler’s head off, which pretty much sets the tone for this match. This wasn’t a pretty match, this was a fight. There was a botch, the ref counted three before Kane got his shoulder up
Winner: Daniel Bryan pins Ziggler to retain the Tag Team belts.
Highlights: Ziggler trying to nail Kane with the MitB briefcase and missing badly.
Comment: I really liked this match. It had a lot of great elements, and again, veterans winning due to experience not poor wrestling by newcomers.
We get a promo by Cena for Make a Wish.
Fandango vs Chris Jericho
We have a lot of dancing ladies for Fandango’s debut. Funny, he looks like Johnny Curtis from NXT. Okay, Dude, you can sort of dance, this isn’t ballet or ballroom dancing. Jericho gets a great pop, I can’t say that the audience seemed very impressed with Fandumbo (my favorite of Jericho’s nicknames for him).
Fandango exhibits some dance…steps, but Jericho isn’t having it and proceeds to take Fandango to the woodshed, as JR would say. This match was pretty much all Jericho at the start. Fandango did manage to get some offense in, but this match was not great, especially for someone making their in-ring debut, even his victory seemed like more a fluke than being a better wrestler.
Winner: Fandango by pinfall. The crowd is not impressed with this result, and neither am I, to be honest.
Highlights: The reel of Jericho’s nicknames for Fandango. Finding out that Cole studied ballroom dancing.
Comment: There’s a story that Jericho summed up Fandango’s prospects as ‘The song will get over, but the guy won’t’. IF that story is true, I can see what he was talking about, at least at this point.
We get a highlight of the pre-show IC title match between Barrett and Miz.
We get another promo for Rock/Cena, but from Rock’s POV. There’s parts of this that seems fake. Like the kids claiming to be one of the millions, but they were born after Rock was gone from WWE. I’m just not buying this promo.
After that, we get a montage of WrestleMania moments, so this must be the halftime show. Our performer is Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs. I’m not a listener of his music, so I can’t tell you how good or bad this is.
Diddy reminds us that WrestleMania started in New York City and really gets the crowd going.
We get a promo for ADR/Swagger. I’d totally forgotten how much they danced around the racism line during this feud.
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Alberto Del Rio (with Ricardo Rodriguez) vs Jack Swagger (with Zeb Colter)
Swagger and Colter are already in the ring, Colter is yapping and the NYC/New Jersey crowd isn’t having it. Considering that New York City has been multi-cultural for pretty much all of its history, I’m not sure letting him cut a promo against multi-culturalism was such a good idea.
ADR and Ricardo are out next, Ricardo not very convincing on crutches. ADR gets a great pop, which is surprising to me. For whatever reason, ADR is wearing a robe like a boxer.
To no big surprise, this was a really good match, the storyline of the ‘Real American’ vs the Immigrant Who Made Good was a good one and made the great ring work really meaningful. ADR vs Swagger is one of those great feuds that could go forever in a lot of different ways, they’re so well matched and work so well together. I honestly thought the barely hidden racism of the story would turn me off, but it didn’t. I really wanted to see Swagger get beat by ADR.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio by submission by the cross armbreaker, he retains the World Heavyweight Championship. ADR and Ricardo celebrate in the ring.
Highlights: ADR stomping on Colter’s hand for trying to trip him up. ADR countering the Ankle lock into the cross armbreaker and Swagger reversing it back into an Ankle Lock.
Comment: It’s weird thinking of ADR as a babyface, but it worked.
We get a promo for the National Guard.
We get a promo for Undertaker/Punk. I have to admit that this whole thing about disrespecting Paul Bearer bothered me deeply and having his death be used in a storyline angered me. That might have been the point, but it still makes me mad and deepened my dislike for Punk.
The Streak: Undertaker vs CM Punk (with Paul Heyman)
Living Color sings Punk and Paul Heyman to the ring, the reaction to Punk is mixed and the cheers seem to be for the band more than Punk. The Deadman Cometh. Taker comes out of the floor, with the ands of fans through the smoke looking like hands reaching out from hell. Taker’s in his Lord of Darkness type rig.
Punk plays some mind games with Taker and draws first blood, but Taker is the Master of mind games and gets in the saddle quickly. This wasn’t a pretty match, but if you want a match where the heel gets his can kicked, this is a good one to watch. There was a possible botch towards the end of the match, Punk hit an elbow drop from the turnbuckle to where Taker lay on the Spanish Announce table and the table didn’t break, which hurt Punk and Taker.
My deep dislike of Punk aside, this was a really great match, and easily could’ve gone either way. That said, I’m not sorry Punk lost, though it looks like a big part of the audience thought he’d win.
Winner: The Undertaker by pinfall. The Streak is 21-0. Afterwards, Taker takes the urn back, places it in the ring and celebrates, just as if Paul Bearer were there with him…maybe he was.
Highlights: Heyman nearly crapping his pants when his attempt to save Punk from the suicide dive nearly ends with him getting chokeslammed. Taker countering the GTS into a tombstone. Chioda waiting for Taker to finish the ‘Rest in Peace’ pin before counting.
Comment: This is the one match in the Streak where I wanted to see Taker’s opponent get the s**t kicked out of them. I had enough respect and/or liking for Taker’s other opponents to not want that for them. Punk pissed me off and I wanted Taker to teach him respect. Also, this would be Punk’s last WrestleMania, he would leave the company in January 2014 and has not returned.
We get a promo of Mick Foley’s newest documentary: For All Mankind.
We get a third promo for Rock/Cena. They’ve promoted this one match more on this show than the rest of the card. I get it, WWE, lay off.
We get a promo for Triple H vs Brock. I’m irked by the commentators saying No Holds Barred is Brock’s match, when Triple H has been in, and won, his fair share of No Holds Barred matches.
Disclaimer: I do not like Brock Lesnar, I haven’t since his first run in WWE, so if the following comes across as heavily biased against Lesnar, that’s why. I will try to be neutral, but I won’t promise.
Triple H (with Shawn Michaels) vs Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) – No Holds Barred. If Triple H Loses, He Retires
HBK comes out first and gets a great pop. He looks like he just got in from hunting something and considering that it was 50F when the show started, the tank top cannot be keeping him warm.
Lesnar and Heyman are out next and the reaction seems mixed for Lesnar.
Triple H gets a really great pop and has his Skull King entrance. For some reason, he’s got something glowing on his stomach. I’m not sure if that’s water or something else.
Lesnar tries get go for the kill quickly, but Triple H is ready for him. This match starts off as a slugfest pretty quickly. This narrative that No Holds Barred favors Lesnar is deeply irritating to me because it ignores that Triple H has been in many No Holds Barred matches. It’s like they completely forgot about Taker/H two years before, all the Hell in a Cells, and the Street Fights Triple H has been in over the years.
My almost pathological hatred of Lesnar aside, this was a pretty good match, but it was slow moving and not quite as excited as other ones I’ve seen, including Triple H vs Taker. I’ll give both guys their due, that was a great match and one I’d recommend watching.
Winner: Triple H by pinfall. HBK and Triple H celebrate in ring, the McMahons were avenged.
Highlights: HBK distracting Lesnar without doing anything. HBK taking an F-5 to help Triple H. The look on Lesnar’s face when Triple H gives him a taste of his own medicine. HBK hitting Sweet Chin Music on Heyman.
Comments: I despise Lesnar, but that was really good.
We get a promo for WrestleMania 30.
New attendance record: 80,676!!!
WWE Championship Match: The Rock vs John Cena
Cena is out first to a mixed reaction. The crowd doesn’t seem to really be behind him, but he shakes hands with Michael Strahan. Rock gets an amazing pop. It’s been eleven years since Rock was the defending champ at WrestleMania.
Cena and Rock circle each other and we are off! Cena gets first blood, but Rock gets the upper hand quickly.
I’m getting Hogan/Andre vibes and not the good ones. This match is like Hogan/Andre at WrestleMania IV with bloom off the rose. This is a slow match and it is getting boring. I almost want to poke them and say ‘Come on guys, pick up the pace a little’. It did pick up the pace towards the end, but not enough to salvage the whole thing.
Winner: John Cena by pinfall, we have a new WWE Champion. Afterwards, Rock and Cena exchange words (nice ones) and hug. Cena lets Rock have the ring to himself. On the stage, they have a moment and Rock raises Cena’s hand. The torch is passed.
Highlights: Cena using Rock’s moves against him and suckering Rock in.
Comments: I’m sorry, but that was a boring match. It was good, but very boring.
So how did WrestleMania 29 do? It actually did really well, in my opinion. Compared to the previous two WrestleManias, this was a great show. All of the matches had great spots in them, even the boring/not great ones. My biggest issue is that a lot of the matches were slow. I realize that everyone wants to do their best at WrestleMania, but the slowness really bugged me.
Snoozers: Cena vs Rock. I’m sorry, but that was incredibly boring and not what I expected from either man.
Stinkers: Fandango vs Jericho, having your first match at WrestleMania, with a legend like Chris Jericho, should produce something more impressive than that match.
Match of the Night: Triple H vs Lesnar. My deep dislike of Lesnar aside, that match was fantastic.
Sign of the Night: I hate Cena Guys. Last year, I saw three of them spill beer on a Baby!
Hall of Fame: Mick Foley, Bob Backlund, Bruno Sammartino, Trish Stratus, Booker T, Donald Trump.
Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this show, even the not great matches had good spots and there was a lot of interesting things going on. Only thing I didn’t like were the three promos for Rock/Cena, it just about killed any desire I had to see the match.