Next up in my series of retro WrestleMania reviews, we’ve got WrestleMania 29 from the MetLife stadium. Remember, if there is any retro WrestleMania you’d like for me to look at, feel free to drop it in the comments below. With that said, here we go.
The Shield def. Randy Orton, Sheamus and The Big Show
A predictable match to start the show, but perfect for warming up the crowd. This was especially good to give The Shield a chance to make a great impression and turn heads in their first-ever WrestleMania. Ultimately, this was a solid, but unspectacular opening. The bottom line is that Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show are three of the more methodical workers in WWE, and there was no way to get a fever pitch going in this one. Sure, the crowd popped for things such as Orton’s RKO on Rollins, but the finish came kind of abruptly. Also, Big Show turning on Sheamus and Orton here wasn’t really a solid pay off because let’s face it. No one cared about it. The right team went over here, and it probably passes as a good match on RAW, but this was ultimately as by-the-book a six-man tag can get. **1/2
Mark Henry def. Ryback
Boy, oh boy was this match cringe. My expectations coming into this, were of course, very low. However, everything just didn’t work here. First of all, this match epitomized why Ryback’s career was a failure. He was pushed well before he was ready and then started losing in every big match situation he was in as a result because he was put in a spot he had no business in to begin with. Secondly, the match was just way too slow. Not to mention, Ryback looked like a complete chump here as Henry was tossing around Ryback here with the smallest of difficulty.
I’m sure everyone came into this match thinking that the younger Ryback would get put over by a veteran with credibility. Instead, Ryback gets his ass handed to him for about 8 minutes, briefly gets Henry on his shoulders, only to slip on a banana peel and get flattened like a pancake. What’s crazy is that Ryback still hit the finisher, but only after he lost the match. Why couldn’t you just do that and make that the finish? A pretty boring, dull mess here. 1/2*
Daniel Bryan (C) and Kane (C) def. Big E and Dolph Ziggler – WWE Tag Team Titles
This was another relatively average match that was salvaged by a hot crowd. The best part of the match, by far, was Ziggler making out with AJ to start the match, only for Bryan to take advantage and almost steal the win, a call-back to what happened to him at the previous WrestleMania. Again, this match would be perfectly fine on RAW, but I don’t even think this match reached the length of time it would take for RAW to get its first commercial break during a match in. This only lasted just over six minutes or so. I thought Big E was solid here in his first WrestleMania, but ultimately, he didn’t get to do much. I think we are all in agreement that this loss was supposed to set up a WrestleMania cash-in by Dolph, but it never came. This match was an okay sprint, but uneventful in hindsight. **
Fandango def. Chris Jericho
In terms of match quality, this is probably the best match of the night thus far. However, the bar hasn’t exactly been set very high. This was a solid outing, and I think Jericho did a great job of dictating the pace in this match. The problem for me is that Fandango was never a character I invested in, and therefore, when he defeated Jericho, I wasn’t, in like, shock or anything. I think Fandango did perform admirably in lieu of the grand WrestleMania stage, but I also didn’t think he was worthy of getting a clean victory over Jericho at WrestleMania. Even more so, considering how his career (or lack thereof) has gone since then, he probably peaked here. At least they got the post-RAW WrestleMania crowd to do his chants.
I wish I could say I enjoyed this match more, but ultimately, all I got for you was that it was a solid 9 or so minutes and both men worked hard. It just never reached that next level. Maybe if this got 5 or so more minutes, we could have gotten somewhere. **3/4
This match had a lot of things working against it. Primarily was the expectation that Ziggler would run down the aisle and cash in on the winner of the match afterward. So the crowd wouldn’t be as invested in the match so much as they would be with the aftermath. This meant that the match between ADR and Swagger needed to be so good that the crowd would forget that Ziggler had the MITB in his possession. Unfortunately, the match was not able to alleviate some of those concerns. Swagger and Del Rio were just two of the blandest competitors to compete for a World Title at WrestleMania. This is primarily because both of them relied on generic taunts such as “We The People!” and “Si!”.
I did enjoy the ankle lock vs. armbreaker battle towards the end, and the actual structure of the match was fine. The problem is that their characters could not get the crowd invested until the end. God bless both of them for trying in spite of the odds stacked against them, but I felt like this match would be better received at a normal PPV than a WrestleMania caliber stage. **3/4
The Undertaker def. CM Punk
Finally, something worth watching here. This is a bit bittersweet for me because this is the last WrestleMania match where Undertaker resembled his former self. This is his last true great performance at WrestleMania. This was also Punk’s last ever WrestleMania match. What carried this match was the backstory and the characters involved. Here you have Undertaker, whose real-life manager, Paul Bearer, passing away. Then you have the egotistical d*ckhead, CM Punk, mocking it in his face. I just think that these two carried themselves with a sense of energy and carried along with it a pace that the night could not follow. Once we got to the near-falls to the end, it went up to another level. I truly believed that WWE was crazy enough to allow Punk to break the streak when he struck Undertaker in the head with the urn.