Zim's WrestleMania 29 Experience: Dot Net contributor Zack Zimmerman's detailed report on the in-person experience
By Zack Zimmerman
We arrived at MetLife plenty early, in anticipation of heinous traffic. Much to our delight, officials did an outstandingly commendable job filing thousands of cars into the lots and the fans into the stadium. Once inside however: sheer pandemonium, as was expected with 80,000 surely-caffeinated, wrestle-gasmic fans.
When we found our seats, the view of the stage was spectacular! The view of the ring; not so much, thanks to the enthusiastic fans who insist on standing through entire shows. Luckily there was a completely empty section next to the production area that the most opportunistic and quick witted fans, us included, filled in, but not completely. We had padded stadium seats, with open seats on both sides, with the same view as the hard cam. Simply put: perfect.
Before the show, Stephanie and Linda McMahon could be seen in Gorilla Position. 'Little Naich' Charles Robinson had his picture taken from the stage, an annual tradition according to Jimmy Korderas. Throughout the night, various celebrities and notable WWE personnel could be seen walking by, including Michael Strahan, Brooklyn Brawler, and Sean Waltman.
While a portion of the crowd were still going rabid at the merch stands, others buying food and finding their seats, Wade Barrett lost the IC Title to The Miz. We who watched it probably could've done without, as neither man seemed to earn the crowds attention until the finish. I interpreted it as a title change pop rather than a Miz pop, because he got heat during his entrance.
A brief drizzle got fans concerned that this may be the WrestleMania of misery, but aside from slightly brisk temperatures, Mother Nature took care of us.
The opening six-man was serviceable, but not quite WrestleMania quality. I got to enjoy the frenzy of their first match at TLC, and this wasn't even comparable. Both sides had their supporters, but there wasn't great enthusiasm as the match seemed to end right as it was about to pick up. There was a major "that's it?" feeling in the air after the initial pop on the finish.
Ryback and Mark Henry under-delivered in what I incorrectly anticipated would be a better-than-expected big man match. The crowd woke up as soon as Ryback signaled for Shell Shock, and were enthusiastically impressed at the feat of actually lifting Henry. The finish left fans with the second "that's it?" feeling in two matches, but there was a great reaction when Ryback hit Shell Shock post-match. Ryback appeared to be fighting back winces of pain on the big screen close-up, not sure what happened.
There was buzz in my section from fans that the Tag Title match would be a show-stealer. Six minutes later when the finish came, there was a good reaction, but it reinforced that WrestleMania and work-rate do not occur together in a single thought in Vince McMahon's mind.
Fandango and Jericho certainly had the most glitzy entrances of any match in Mania history. I was genuinely delighted to see that real fireworks have become a staple of big-time WrestleMania entrances. The match, as was the rest of the undercard, was underwhelming with a finish threw the crowd off guard. At this point, it became evident that we were not likely viewing one of the better WrestleManias of all time.
Diddy's performance was short, sweet, and surprisingly well-received. Kudos from someone who wouldn't ever be caught listening to Diddy, but had no complaints about the performance.
In a hilariously unexpected and tragically non-televised entrance, Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter made their way down the ramp and around the ring in a camouflage Gator UV.
The crowd couldn't have cared less about the WHC match, and rightfully so. "We want Ziggler" chants could be heard through the entirety of the match, whether it was coming from one section of the whole stadium. The crowd popped on the finish in a "yay it's over!" fashion, and seemed genuinely disappointed that there was no post-match attack to set up a cash-in. IMO, WWE dropped the ball here.
Living Colour received a nice reaction and delivered a solid performance. Surprisingly positive response for Punk, despite WWE's damnedest efforts to make him detestable. I would put the crowd at 60/40 for Taker, at times however, the 40 percent sounded like 60 percent.
Undertaker's entrance with the hands of hell trying to pull him down was fantastic for those who could see, but the thick fog likely limited the view for a large portion of the audience. Not sure what came through on TV, but Undertaker was crying after retrieving the urn. It was either a great character portrayal, or the genuineness of a man missing his friend.
Taker and Punk put on the match of the night and it was the only match with the expected hot crowd enthusiasm. Punk's leap of faith elbow was the best spot of the show, I just wish the table has given way properly to minimize the impact but boost the effect of the bump. Both men worked hard and told a memorable story. Ultimately, this was a one-match show, and this was the match.
It seemed like HBK got a bigger reaction than Triple H or Brock Lesnar, which reinforced my question of 'why was he there?' The crowd just didn't get up for this match. There were parts where fans would yell to both guys to "Break his arm!" But that seemed to be more cat-calling than passionate support. Interest picked up down the stretch, but the match turned out to be the very least of what I had hoped for.
Howard Finkel introduced the HoF inductees, who all got the reactions they deserved, Donald Trump included.
One of the coolest things to see was looking up anytime the stadium-top pyro shot off. Truly a spectacle and environment that must be experienced to be fully appreciated.
No eight-person tag, but if anyone was legitimately let down by that, why? Unfortunate for the competitors, but it spared us five minutes of non-WrestleMania-worthy campy junk that we'll see on Raw tonight instead.
Crazy heat for Cena's entrance as expected, and every time he teased going to one of his five moves (the story of the match), the crowd let out with relentless boos. Rock got a great pop when he came out, but there wasn't a single pro-Rock chant the entire night; It was all about Cena's supporters and haters. Smart fans had to figure that the only reason Rock had the belt was to lose to Cena, it was just a bit of a letdown to have such a predictable finish to such a predictable show.
As soon as the finish occurred, many fans went straight for the exits. I took this to be an overall unenthusiastic reaction to the show, a thought that was reinforced when we got outside, and there wasn't a buzz in the air that's frequent even after Raw and Smackdown tapings.
Regardless of how unimpressive and surprise-free the show was, the experience is something I will hold forever. It was the most awe-inspiring production I've ever seen and as a wrestling fan, it doesn't get any better. I cannot recommend it enough; if you've never been, get to a WrestleMania at least once in your lifetime.
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