Pruett’s WWE WrestleMania 29 Preview and Predictions: Can John Cena beat The Rock? Will Undertaker overcome C.M. Punk and his own rage to go 21-0? Will Brock Lesnar make this game over for Triple H?
By Will Pruett
Check out the All Access audio featuring Will Pruett, Jake Barnett, and Jeff Lutz delivering a WrestleMania 29 preview.
There's something really fun about being a wrestling fan during this time of the year. Mainstream attention is actually on the thing you love. There are probably 100 hours of wrestling content produced in one weekend and you can watch it for the rest of the year. Friends are far more likely to come over for a WrestleMania party than a Vengeance party. Things always look up for wrestling fans.
This show has been criticized by some for offering too many rematches though. I don't see any other way. The Rock and John Cena were destined to meet again. Triple H and Lesnar needed another encounter. I understand a desire for freshness, but these matches have both just happened once, not five times. They were also two of the most important matches of the last year.
The following predictions are made from a place of complete ignorance to the finishes. They are merely predictions of what I would find logical, entertaining, or interesting. Let's all have a good time.
The Rock vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship: For the third WrestleMania in a row, this feud is being showcased on top of the card. For the third WrestleMania in a row, it is exactly where it should be. The path to Rock vs. Cena II has been much more enjoyable than the path to the first match. We didn't know about it a year ago, which means every John Cena match didn't have the specter of The Rock hanging over it.
John Cena is coming off of a year WWE would like us to believe has been an off year. Sadly, they didn't commit to telling this story over the course of 2012 and they hedged their bets on fans having short memories. I've enjoyed the way Cena has played it off since the new year. He has played the redemption story well, even if the down year wasn't exactly down.
The Rock comes into this match after a two match series with C.M. Punk, where he won the WWE Championship. He has held the title since January and it seems like he won it specifically to lose it here at WrestleMania. The Rock's matches this year have shown how dynamic he can be, but also how quickly he can get worn out. The Rock needs a special opponent to take care of him, and John Cena proved last year that he is that guy.
The major question coming out of the last few weeks of TV has been if John Cena's desperation and obsession with redemption will cause him to do something uncharacteristic. Cena's promos have been akin to Steve Austin's before WrestleMania X-7. He is a desperate man and desperate men do desperate things. Will John Cena do something desperate?
I'm not predicting a John Cena heel turn, but I am picking a character evolution. Cena will have to change who he is to beat The Rock. The evolution may actually be more compelling than a straight up turn.
Prediction: John Cena pins The Rock to win the WWE Championship and evolves in the process.
The Undertaker vs. C.M. Punk: The build to this match will forever be remembered for what could have been. Months ago, it seemed like Undertaker vs. C.M. Punk could eclipse any match on this card, including The Rock vs. John Cena. Now, one day before the match, it seems like the lowest of the three main events. How did we get here?
The story took an odd turn when Paul Bearer (Bill Moody) passed away suddenly a little over a month ago. Undertaker paid tribute to his longtime manager and dear friend on Monday Night Raw and Punk, being the super-villain he is, decided to interrupt the tribute. For a one week story, that would have been passable. Sadly, this went beyond one week.
Punk stole the urn (the legendary source of Undertaker's strength, inspiration, and possible container of the charred remains of his parents, who were burned in a funeral home fire by Kane). Punk taunted Undertaker with the urn. Punk even alluded to Paul Bearer being inside the urn. Nothing was off-limits to Punk and he made it known he would do anything.
Undertaker has been seething and angry. He wants vengeance for himself and his friend. This is a far cry from what Undertaker has done at the last four WrestleMania's. He has been in matches that have transcended wrestling and became the finest performance art possible. He has artfully crafted Aristotelian tragedies. Undertaker has been in the best match of the last four years and has redefined what a great match is with drama and storytelling.
This is far closer to Undertaker's feud with Edge in 2008. It was a great feud and fun WrestleMania main event, but it was not on the level of Michaels and Triple H. I don't believe Punk is on the level of Michaels and Triple H going into this one. Maybe he wouldn't have been even if the build would not have taken such an odd turn. We'll never know.
Prediction: The Undertaker defeats C.M. Punk to extend his WrestleMania streak to 21-0.
Brock Lesnar vs. "The Game" Triple H in a No Holds Barred match with Triple H's career on the line: The career ending match has been used two times in the last five WrestleMania's. Both men lost their careers on the grandest stage of them all. They were the two men most closely associated to Triple H: Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels.
Brock Lesnar will be making his first WrestleMania appearance since being booed out of Madison Square Garden by a group of scorned wrestling fans nine years ago. Lesnar has been intense and violent in this build. He is everything a genetically gifted monster should be. His rare appearances on television have made him all the more mysterious. Having only seen him in two matches in the last year makes this match even more of an attraction.
Triple H has once again been forced to shed the corporate suit and wear the cape (or tights) of justice. His family has been threatened (Triple H has been the exclusive defender of the McMahon family since 2009) and his pride has been hurt. He lost to Lesnar at SummerSlam and is looking for revenge.
Speaking of the SummerSlam match, it wasn't that great. It was an okay match. It attempted to recreate the formula from Undertaker vs. Triple H at WrestleMania 27, but it didn't quite get there. It had some fine moments, but it was not what people expected from Lesnar vs. Triple H. The brawl on Raw that restarted this feud was what people expected. If Lesnar and Triple H can pull off a match as good as the brawl, they're in pretty good shape.
I expect to see Shawn Michaels and Paul Heyman both physically involved in this match, giving Brock and Triple H time to rest and set up what is next. Bells and whistles are fun when they contribute to a big match. I don't think this is the end of Triple H, so I'll pick him to win it.
Prediction: Triple H defeats Brock Lesnar in a much more entertaining match than their SummerSlam effort.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger for the World Heavyweight Championship: This match probably could have been built well with three weeks of hype. It turns out that seven was a few too many. First, it got political with Swagger and Zeb Colter offending some and getting some great publicity. Then, it just got boring.
As for Alberto Del Rio, everything I liked about him as a babyface going into the Royal Rumble seemed to disappear. He doesn't seem likable. He doesn't seem engaging. He's just kind of there and smiling. WWE has tried to get people to cheer him by promoting Ricardo Rodriguez heavily. Even that seems like a desperate attempt.
It's odd to see a match where the managers outside the ring have more of a connection with the crowd than the men inside the ring. I expect this to be a very encounter, leading to Swagger losing, attacking Del Rio, and a fun surprise ending. Remember, no one has ever cashed-in Money in the Bank at WrestleMania. Why not now?
Prediction: Alberto Del Rio forces Jack Swagger to tap out, but Dolph Ziggler cashes in his Money in the Bank and wins the World Heavyweight Championship.
Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston for the WWE Tag Team Championship: I have enjoyed Team Friendship (I'll be damned if I'm going to call them Team Hell No) and their run on top more than most. When some say they've run their course, I keep pointing at certain moments and enjoying them. I tend to like a little more camp in my wrestling and this is right up my alley. Despite all of this, Team Friendship must lose the tag titles here.
Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston need some legitimacy, not necessarily as a tag team, but as wrestlers. Dolph walking out of WrestleMania as a double champion with a formidable group around him is the best possible way to build him up. It also doesn't take much from Kane and Bryan who seem very desperate to go their respective ways.
Big E Langston is making his in-ring debut here. It'll be interesting to see how the young powerhouse operates in the ring. Much like I said when The Shield was debuting against Kane and Bryan, he couldn't be in there with better opponents. No two wrestlers know and executes the WWE style as well as these two.
Prediction: Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston win the Tag Team Championships when Langston pins Bryan.
Ryback vs. Mark Henry: The battle of the big men on this show has not been impressively built up. Sure, Ryback and Henry have both been established as monsters. That is step one of a multiple step process. The steps that actually bring them together to monster each other has been odd.
What isn't odd is the idea to have this match. WWE loves their big man matches. As long as WrestleMania has existed, the big man match has been a part of it (Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd). This match may be one of the better big man matches we see from WWE. Ryback is capable of delivering some good stuff with the right opponent. Henry is too.
My hope is for Ryback and Henry to be the right opponents for each other and for this match to blow us all away.
Prediction: Ryback pins Mark Henry after impressively delivering Shellshock to him.
The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins) vs. Randy Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show: The Shield have slipped to the middle of the pack on TV. This is one of the most notable situations with a wrestler or an act being pushed down the card as the part time stars come in. They were main eventing shows just months ago, but they seem to have found themselves in the midcard now.
The odd thing about the midcard around this time of year is the large amount of former world champions in it. The Shield is facing a formidable team in Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show. While it may seem like a midcard attraction now, anyone in this match could be in a main event next month. That makes this match much more exciting.
I had been predicting The Shield's first loss to come at WrestleMania, but seeing the team assembled against them, it's hard to imagine them losing this one. The Shield is an act WWE needs to keep as interesting as possible for when all the big stars are gone and they're still producing weekly TV.
On top of that, a heel turn is rumored for Randy Orton. I believe the seeds of that turn will be planted here.
Prediction: The Shield eek out a hard fought (and cheated) victory over Orton, Sheamus, and Show.
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango: This match could be the highlight of the midcard. It is the debut of Fandango in the ring (unless you ever watched a Johnny Curtis match in NXT) and he is debuting on the largest possible stage. The road to get here has been a little frustrating, but it's also been fun. Fandango's act of not wrestling has gotten old and it ends here.
Jericho is a returning legend taking a major step down on the card to hopefully give another talent a major step up. Chris Jericho could lose this match and seven more just like it and still challenge for a world title next months. He is that good and establishing and maintaining a character. I'm not worried about Jericho here. He doesn't need a win. He isn't here to win.
Prediction: Fandango defeats Chris Jericho in a surprisingly effective debut.
Brodus Clay, Sweet T, Naomi, and Cameron vs. Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, and The Bella Twins in a mixed tag match: This will be the fourth mixed tag match in WrestleMania history. Two of the past ones have involved Dusty Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes. This is Cody Rhodes' destiny. Some men are meant to main event WrestleMania. Some men are meant to wrestle in mixed tags.
What is there to say about this one? Brodus and Sweet T will dance. Damien Sandow and Rhodes will await their transportation to a higher spot on the card. The women will be there. It is what it is. The match should be fun and funny. That's what counts.
Prediction: Tons of Funk and the Funkadactyls defeat the heel team when Naomi does something awesome to Nicki Bella.
Wade Barrett vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship: Random thought: Wade Barrett won the Intercontinental Championship from The Miz. Nothing has happened since. This could be Bo Dallas, if he hadn't mysteriously vanished, taking his awful ring music with him. Why not reverse the course from before and make sure progress is never made?
Prediction: The Miz defeats Wade Barrett to kick off the preshow with a babyface victory. He goes on to lose 11 matches in the next month.
One interesting note about this show: Every match aside from the mixed tag match features a former World Champion. Say what you will about star power, this show definitely has it. It also should have some great wrestling, fun brawling, some high flying, some power, and an excellent display of the WWE main event style. Basically, this show will have everything. I'm looking forward to this one quite a bit.
Let's do some good old fashioned talking about this show! Feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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