A WrestleMania 29 Review from Jon North
By: Jon North (@JNorth0)
I guess since The Miz and Wade Barrett kicked off WrestleMania on the pre-show, the only logical thing for me to do would be to write a pre-review, over the pre-show. To be honest I didn’t watch this match. Poor Miz main evented this same event just two years ago and his fall from grace has put him in the main event of a pre-show that 100 people watch and 50 actually pay attention to. I’ve never really been a big Wade Barrett guy, his move-set and persona bores me, and I’m an easy wrestling fan to please. I enjoy Miz, but don’t enjoy his new figure-four leg lock, I love the idea behind it, but no just no (and yes I’m bitter because he botched it that ONE time). Regardless, Miz goes over and becomes the new intercontential champion, which ultimately means he now has to lose to Randy Orton every RAW.
The SHIELD vs. Sheamus/Randy Orton/Big Show
Very pleased this match kicked off the show, partly because I was wondering if the Shield was going to drop out of a helicopter or actually hike themselves all the way from the top of MetLife Stadium down to the ring because they usually enter through the crowd. The Shield made up of Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins have been nothing short of dominate since their WWE debut, so it was interesting to see how this “all-star” team of Sheamus, Orton, and Show would handle the trio. A lot of storytelling during this match took place which I personally loved. Orton, Show, and Sheamus were very dysfunctional and they all had a “do it myself” mentality, while the Shield worked together as a team the whole time. The Shield isolated Big Show for most of the match, with a couple of great spots with Sheamus working Ambrose on the outside and making the hot tag after Show was tagged out. There was some tension between Show and Orton when he got tagged in. Orton hit the top rope, hung DDT on Ambrose, hits Rollins with an RKO as Rollins leaps off the top rope but he is nailed by Reigns with a spear as Ambrose covers as Big Show just watches on and doesn’t make an attempt to save.
Winners: The Shield
The Shield split the same way they came in, through the crowd and Show delivered two knockout punches to both Sheamus and Orton. Overall, it was a great opener, and for once the World Heavyweight Championship didn’t start off the show. This was one of my favorite matches on the card, probably third on my list and the WWE (surprisingly) kept the continuity of The Shield working so solid as a three man team. The triple powerbomb/spear on Ambrose spot from Big Show was also awesome. I’m interested to see where The Shield goes from here, or what random three superstars the trio will face at Extreme Rules.
Mark Henry vs. Ryback
The World’s Strongest Man vs. Big Hungry, or “feed me more” guy or whatever the WWE wants you to call Ryback. Despite the short buildup for this match, it was well done and a lot of fans were anxious to see if Ryback could actually lift up Mark Henry on his shoulders (I didn’t think it was possible) the match was typical and what you would expect from these two heavyweight guys. Mark Henry is a great talent, but I just don’t think he works well with guys like Ryback, so the fans weren’t into this match and I cannot say I blame them. There were a lot of pushes and tests of strength, with Henry dominating most of the match. The two traded some sick clothesline spots which were worth noting, and Henry throwing Ryback around like a rag doll was very fun to watch. In an odd ending, Ryback lifted Henry up and the camera shot of Henry’s face is priceless. Regardless Henry holds onto the rope and collapses on top of Ryback and rolls him over for the pin. Ryback saves face after the match and hits Henry with a shell shocked.
Winner: Mark Henry
This feud isn’t over, I can foresee a rematch at Extreme Rules, but these guys have done just about all they can do in a match. Some of my favorite Henry matches are with smaller guys such as Punk and Daniel Bryan. He just doesn’t work well with Ryback, but it was okay for what it was. Ryback is on a bit of a losing streak, but is still pretty over with the fans, but I did not foresee the WWE putting over Henry in this match, who doesn’t really need the push, but was happy he won. THAT’S WHAT I DO.
WWE Tag Team Championship: Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston vs. Team Hell No Kane and Daniel Bryan
My second favorite match on the card by far. It felt like a RAW match with the time constraints (something you’ll see me type a little bit later) but with the people involved, it followed very well and had a little something special in it with two very underappreciated guys in Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler. If you didn’t see the opening spot, I suggest going back to watch as they had a play on the “18 seconds” loss for Daniel Bryan last year, who lost the World Heavyweight Championship in 18 seconds to Sheamus. Ziggler told Bryan to hold on a second while he planted AJ with a kiss, Daniel Bryan kicked Ziggler in the head for a two count, and it was great. Big E Langston was very impressive in this match, while I’ve seen him in NXT (WWE’s developmental brand) I thoroughly enjoyed watching him toss Kane around the ring like a rag doll and dominate most of the match. The ending featured Dolph, while the legal man trying to hit Kane with the Money in the Bank briefcase and Kane ducked and hit Dolph with a choke slam, who tagged in Bryan who hit Dolph with a flying head-butt for the win.
Winner: Team Hell No
In reality the only people Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler have pinned in the last few months it seems like has been each other, in a perfect world I like to think these guys are just single handedly keeping the Internet happy by pinning one another. Regardless, even with eight minutes this match killed it, Bryan led some “YES” chants as his music played afterward and got one of the best crowd reactions of the evening. One of the better spots in the match was Big E hitting Kane with multiple back-breakers without dropping Kane, I’m anxious to see how they move forward with the big guy.
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
This may have been the lock of WrestleMania, the WWE have put so much time and effort into building this Fandango character he was destined to go over, plus Jericho has been the King of making people look good and putting them over as legitimate threats so much he only wins when he’s facing Ziggler, Bryan, or Cesaro (because HAHA internet). This was a very fast paced match with a lot of counters and really proved Fandango can go. The match itself had a lot of great storytelling with Jericho the “favorite” throwing everything at Fandango but Fandango holding on, Jericho got all of his signatures in, a Code breaker sent Fandango to the outside early, and several Walls of Jericho attempts. Jericho sold a knee injury late in the match on a missed Lion Sault attempt, and when Jericho, after kicking out of several of Fandango’s flying leg drop attempts, went to lock it on, the knee gave way and allowed Fandango to get a sloppy, but quick roll up for the 1-2-3.
Jericho will probably take another hiatus from the WWE with the selling of the knee injury, but Fandango got what he needed out of this match and he gets a win over Chris Jericho. It’s going to be very interesting where the WWE goes with Fandango from here, he got a lot of heat from the crowd last night and it was good heat. I’m invested in this character so he’ll probably end up losing to Randy Orton every week from here on out or something. In my booking world Chris Jericho is going through his mid-life crisis of wrestling where he’s turned into this guy who needs to beat all these younger guys to prove he’s still as good as he once was, but he doesn’t have the booking power of Triple H to make him look like the coolest guy in the room. Regardless, Jericho has been here before, he’s been underused and overlooked in his past when he was a young guy and no guy was willing to do the job for him, so good for him for stepping into that role, just stop with the Fandango word plays, they aren’t funny.
Diddy’s concert played after this match. Also, between each match a promo plays for The Rock vs. John Cena. You aren’t missing anything.
World Heavyweight Title: Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger
We come back from another promo to see Jack Swagger gets a non-entrance at WrestleMania. I’m not sure if WWE thought maybe the crowd would actually cheer Jack Swagger too loudly so they just skipped his entrance or because of time constraints, regardless the match really just felt like a RAW match to me, even though it was very good between two of the best wrestlers on the roster. Also, if you were at the event live you would have got to see Jack Swagger ride in on a jeep, which would have been awesome to see because wrestlers and vehicles have a pretty good track record with me. Regardless, a lot of technical wrestling between these two as one would expect, Del Rio had some awesome counters out of the ankle lock that didn’t look spammed or faked, it looked as real as a guy could trying to worm his way out of an ankle lock. I read on the internet this match got cut short, so maybe that’s why it felt a little rushed, but Del Rio wins this one by a couple of neat reverses and then swinging Jack Swagger into his cross arm breaker which was AWESOME and out of nowhere.
Winner: Albertoooooooooo Del RIOOOOOOOOOOOO (Ricardo voice)
After the match Del Rio celebrated, I really wish the crowd would not have chanted “WE WANT ZIGGER” over and over, it kind of took away from how good the match is. I’m totally all in on Del Rio as a face and “living his dream” with the World Heavyweight Championship. It works really well and comes across well on television, this whole Del Rio as face is where the WWE probably thought Miz should have gone, but didn’t. Plus Alberto has a ring announcer, that’s probably the difference.
CM Punk vs. The Undertaker
There is A LOT to write about this match action wise as it was one of the most fast paced matches of the night. I will say if I had to suggest watching one match on the card, it would be this one. CM Punk had “Cult of Personality” played live by Living Colour, which was cool to see but man, Undertaker’s entrance was simply amazing. It was a back drop with the living dead reaching up and trying to touch Undertaker, I would like to think of it as a play on all the people he’s beaten in the past at Mania. Regardless, one of the COOLEST moments for WrestleMania for me, and got me jacked was the close up on CM Punk during the initial “GONG” of undertaker’s music. He just screamed and pounded his chest as if to say “BRING IT ON” I loved this moment and it got me ready for the match. Also, add Paul Heyman yelling out instructions to Punk as he wrestled was a great touch.
The match itself was well done, like I said, a lot of action, too much for me to explain, but Punk played smart with Taker early, taunting him and then running from him, making him give chase and then waylaying him. Big fan of this, but Punk played the heel role brilliantly, he even got in Taker’s classic “Old School” move where Taker ties up the arm and scales and balances the top rope. Punk taunted, and put on a glorious performance only Punk can do. I was not a fan of the no selling of Undertaker, although really cool. He no sold the Anaconda Vice into his classic “sit up, death stare” taunt and no sold the GTS into his finisher, Punk sold the move by shaking his head violently before he went down to the piledriver, as if he knew it was over.
Winner: The Undertaker
This was by far the match of the night, I could have ended Mania here and been very pleased, because the next two matches will not be very positive, but Taker was coming off of surgery and Punk is as banged up as anyone on the roster and still went out and put on an absolute show. There was a sick spot where Punk hit the Macho Man elbow drop off the top turnbuckle onto the Spanish announcer’s table, but the table didn’t break and Punk looked like he may have hurt his knee, none the less a fantastic spot. Favorite match of the night.
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar
I’ll just get this out of the way now, I’m not a big fan of Triple H, and I’m not a big fan of the way the WWE has handled Brock Lesnar up until this point. I know Lesnar probably doesn’t care, he’s in this thing for a pay check, but since Brock has been back he’s lost to John Cena, and drew with Triple H, making him 1-2 since his WWE return. Records don’t matter as much as they used to, but still I’d love for them to have built him up to something special. Triple H I can tolerate as a wrestler, he does well, or good enough but he always has to be the coolest, savviest, guy in the room. He’s buried people I liked throughout his career and I’m just not a fan of the way he works. Regardless, this match was a classic brawl. Reports on the internet say Brock took a knee early and was knocked out on his feet five minutes into the match so a lot of headlocks and arm bars early, they got to some good spots late, a few chair shots. No blood, which I was expecting and it ended with Triple H trying to beat Brock with his own Kimara lock before pedigreeing Brock on some stairs to beat him. Not a surprise.
Winner: Triple H
Crowd was sort of down for this match, which took away from it because I do want to give credit where it’s due, it was a fine brawl type match, but you can’t follow something like this match with the Taker/Punk match. I figured the WWE would throw in the mixed tag match they had advertised here, but it got bumped, probably because they had 16,000 Rock vs. John Cena promos.
WWE Championship: The Rock vs. John Cena
Nothing special entrance wise for this match which really surprised me, John just did his talk to the camera man thing at the top of the ramp and waddled down the ramp, very simple, and so was the match. If you remember last year, nothing special really happened during the match, a lot of arm bars and head locks, a lot of time for The Rock to catch his breath. Whether it’s a work or not, reports came out The Rock tore his abdominal muscle straight from the bone during this match and wrestled for another 15 minutes. I’m not sure if this is true or a work because of how non entertaining the match was, plus after three straight matches with the star power, the crowd wasn’t very into this one either. It started off pretty slow. It didn’t really keep me “hooked” but it kept me interested with all the false finishers, but it had been done before; these two guys are basically the same wrestler. The Rock is past his prime and can’t go like he used to, and Cena has always been, well, Cena. Cena wins this one with an AA after about four counters into the Rock Bottom and the AA, nothing special, but the end was a lot better than the start of the match and if it’s true about Rock, he’s a trooper.
Winner and new WWE Champion: John Cena
Overall, the first half of Mania I thought was a really fun show, I was bummed to see Ziggler not cash in and get his WrestleMania moment, and even though I did not think I would, I really missed some of the backstage segments, instead all we got was Rock and Cena commercials, where I really thought something special was going to happen between them. Instead we got them chatting it up and raising one another’s hands in the ring and hugging. Boo sportsmanship. I was hoping for a Cena heel turn, but WWE has teased it so much at this point they’ll never do it. I don’t blame them but that’s a different story for a different time.
Until next time, happy Rrasslin.