Powell's WWE WrestleMania 29 Hitlist: John Cena vs. The Rock to win the WWE Championship, Undertaker vs. C.M. Punk, Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar, Fandango debuts against Chris Jericho, Mark Henry vs. Ryback
By Jason Powell
Dot Net Members are listening to the two-hour audio review of WrestleMania 29 that featured former WWE creative team member Seth Mates (Twitter.com/SethMates) joining Chris Shore and I to discuss the biggest show of the year. The members will also be listening to my audio review of WWE Raw later tonight. Join us on the ad-free version of the website by signing up for membership now via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
WWE WrestleMania 29 Hits
The Rock vs. John Cena: Let's just get this out of the way. I enjoyed the first Rock vs. Cena match more. I would have to go back and watch them again to assess which one was better technically, but that wouldn't change the fact that I enjoyed their first encounter more. It's hard to top last year for me because we didn't really know what Rock would be capable of in the ring after such a long layoff (that shitty tag match at Survivor Series doesn't count) and it's hard to top the epic feel of a true first time ever dream match.
Rock and Cena II was also very good and the near falls down the stretch were excellent. It stuck to the 2013 Rock match formula of starting off with ten minutes of nothing, but it was a lot of fun once they kicked it into the next gear. The post match was exactly the scenario you had to envision occurring at some point in their run together. The problem is that while it would normally be the right for the returning mega star to pass the torch to the current star, it was the last thing in the world that a significant portion of the fan base wanted to see. The handshake and hug was enough, but the salute at the top of the stage was nauseating.
The way it all played out left me concerned about where they go from here. The only big heel who got a meaningful win at WrestleMania was Mark Henry. The bigger problem is that I see a whole lot of "been there, done that" when it comes to Cena's act and future opponents. So many fans were hoping for a change from Cena. There was so much hope that he was going to turn heel or at least add an edge to his character, yet those fans were given a passing of the torch they didn't want to see and are now left with a champion they are just plain tired of. WWE better find a way to heat this up tonight on Raw or the WrestleMania hangover is going to be a big one.
The Undertaker vs. C.M. Punk: The silly build that was more tacky than shocking was quickly forgotten once the bell rang. Taker and Punk delivered one hell of a match. The build didn't set this up in a way that left me feeling like Punk was a threat to end The Streak, but the match was so good that they had the fans standing and hanging on every near fall. Taker looked better physically this year than he did last year and he worked a smart match while incorporating his mainstay signature spots. Punk's use of Taker's mannerisms and the Old School move was perfect, as his character is the only one with the audacity to mock the legendary Taker. Paul Heyman also added a lot to the match with his calls and reactions from ringside. The match of the night.
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar: I enjoyed this brawl a hell of a lot more than the live crowd. They topped their SummerSlam effort yet received the same flat response. Brock's suplexes were vicious and Hunter took quite a beating throughout the hard hitting match. I liked that Hunter learned Brock's Kimura hold, but I am so happy that wasn't the finish because the idea of Hunter beating a former UFC Champion with a submission hold would have been way too self indulgent. I do worry that Lesnar lost something here. He's 1-2 since his WWE return. It's not that a meltdown on Raw tonight or the right return angle won't get fans excited again, but the aura of invincibility with Lesnar's character took another hit, as he has now lost to the two men he's faced since returning to WWE. Forget the substance on Hunter's stomach, what was up with that cheesy '80s heavy metal band set used for his entrance in the first place?
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango: The match was made to feel important right from the start as both wrestlers got the first impressive entrances of the night. Jericho did his part to help Vince McMahon's new pet project get off to a big start, and Fandango looked good and worked hard. This was a fine undercard match and Fandango is one of the few undercard acts that took a step forward at WrestleMania.
The Shield vs. Big Show, Randy Orton, and Sheamus: A minor hit. As much as I enjoy The Shield, I didn't think they shined here like Fandango did simply because we've already seen them beat all star teams. I didn't care for the placement of this match in the opening slot either as that made it feel less important than it looked on paper. The tag title match would have been a good opener had it been given a few more minutes, and this match could have woke up the crowd had it been saved for later in the show. It was surprising to see a rest hold so early in a Shield match. This wasn't the all out frenzied chaos we saw in their first two pay-per-view matches. The right team won the match and it's possible that Orton tagging himself into the match could be the first step toward a heel turn.
WWE WrestleMania 29 Misses
Overall show: The big three matches delivered, but the crowd didn't cooperate for one of those matches and I was underwhelmed by most of the undercard. The big three matches featured outcomes that most fans saw coming a mile away. I was hoping there would be some twists and turns throughout the show, but WWE took the safe and straight forward approach. The live crowd wasn't all that lively. Defenders claim its an issue with MetLife being an outdoor stadium, yet we had no problem hearing the fans when they came to life during the main event and Undertaker's match.
A good WrestleMania event closes out some major stories, forwards others, and leaves you eagerly anticipating whatever comes next. The big three matches were positioned to steal the show and they did just that. The problem is that four of the six wrestlers featured in those matches are part time players and there's no telling whether they will be sticking around. So now we're left with a lot of guys who were cooled off during the build to WrestleMania while WWE focussed on those big three matches. There's a lot of talent there to work with, yet few of those acts have any sense of true momentum coming out of the biggest show of the year. Despite my belief that this was a flat overall show, major props to those in charge of constructing the set. The visual of MetLife Stadium with the WrestleMania set was awesome.
Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston: The match was fun while it lasted. It just didn't get enough time to feel special or for Bryan and Ziggler to have any chance to deliver standout performances. Langston's power was displayed nicely, yet the short match was nearly forgotten by this viewer once the show was over.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger: The effort was definitely there from both men, but the interest just wasn't there despite Zeb Colter's attempt to insult the heritage of damn near everyone in MetLife Stadium beforehand. Del Rio is really cold as a babyface champion, and most of the fans seemed to be waiting for the match to end with the hope that Dolph Ziggler would cash in his Money in the Bank contract. WWE was wise to cut to a commercial after the match. It was an awkward transition and a letdown moment for the television audience, but I suppose it beat the loud boos and calls for Ziggler that were playing out at the stadium. On the flip side, who could they cut out the Swagger and Colter entrance in their camouflage vehicle? Was Zeb wearing the same tie he wore at the Hall of Fame ceremony?
Ryback vs. Mark Henry: Really, it was pretty much what I expected. I did not have high expectations for the match, though the finish felt flat to me with Henry holding onto the ropes and falling onto Ryback during the failed Shellshocked attempt. I was surprised to see Henry win because Ryback really needs wins following his losses to C.M. Punk and The Shield. Most wrestlers can bounce right back from losses, but part of the early appeal of a muscular monster type is that he seems unbeatable. Ryback got some momentum back afterward by performing Shellshocked, yet it also felt like Henry didn't gain anything due to the nature of how he won.
The Miz vs. Wade Barrett: Too much damage was done to Barrett and the Intercontinental Title leading into this match. I did not care about the match or the title. It's a shame because I continue to be high on Barrett and I hope WWE finds yet another way to rebuild him coming out of WrestleMania.
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