411’s Instant Access 04.07.13: WWE WrestleMania XXIX
Hey kids, I’m Scott, and this is 411’s Instant Access: WWE WrestleMania XXIX. Instant Access is the companion piece to 411 Live Pay-Per-View Coverage and features immediate reaction to wrestling pay-per-views. The focus in Instant Access is on first thoughts and initial reactions instead of play-by-play with the goal of providing you with instant access to
one two three FOUR writers’ thoughts on the show. Here’s the very special team for WrestleMania:
• Scott Slimmer, author of Don’t Think Twice.
• Chris Lansdell, 411Mania alum and Instant Access legend.
• Jeremy Thomas, all-around supremely important dude here at 411Mania and Instant Access legend.
• Michael Benjamin, author of 411’s WWE Main Event Report and 411’s WWE Smackdown Report.
• Jeff Small, author of the Tuesday Small-For-All News Report. Small was originally scheduled to be part of our epic Instant Access reunion tour, but he backed out at the last moment when he found out that the Great Khali wasn’t booked for the show. He’s currently getting drunk and watching old Punjabi Prison matches. I will find a way to make him pay for this. Maybe sooner than he thinks…
Okay kids, enough with the explanations. Let’s get to the wrestling.
Match Result: The Miz defeats Wade Barrett with the Figure Four Leg Lock.
Match Length: 4:08
Slimmer: I can make my peace with Barrett and Miz being relegated to the pre-show, but given the fact that this particular pre-show was an entire hour long, I do sort of feel like they could have been given more than four minutes. Especially for a title match. And double especially for a title match with a title change. The match was good for what it was, but as is so often the case with the pre-show matches, there’s only so much you can fit into four minutes. However, the real news here is that it looks like WWE hasn’t completely given up on Miz. Giving him the Intercontinental Championship freshens up the title scene, but we can still definitely expect Barrett’s re-match in the near future.
Lansdell: A decent choice to start the show, even if it was on the preshow. I know Miz’s star has fallen considerably over the past few months, both with WWE and with the fanbase, but I still think he’s underrated in the ring. Barrett I am still very nonplussed by, and will likely remain that way until he does something special. I loved the counter that Miz used to finish the match, and I presume the transition of the belt means that Wade will be going on to bigger things in the near future. Maybe he’s going after Cena?
Benjamin: Despite this being on the pre-show, it actually felt like a really big deal with all of the hype around it. This is essentially the opener, which is extremely important, and these guys treated it as such. I’m a little torn on Miz kicking out of the Wasteland. I suppose it was probably a good idea to show any “on the fence” fans what the wrestlers are willing to do at WrestleMania. At the same time, it made Barrett look like a bitch. It’s WrestleMania though, and it was thoroughly entertaining for what it was. Miz locked in the Figure Four out of nowhere after that and won the title. Hey, it wasn’t a great match but what they delivered was solid and it did its job in getting the crowd into the show right out of the gate.
Average Match Rating: *½
Match Result: Dean Ambrose pins Randy Orton after a spear from Roman Reigns.
Match Length: N/A
Slimmer: The WWE.com stream died just a few minutes after the show began, so I didn’t see any of this match. I’ve heard some very positive reviews from those who were able to see it, but I’m unable to make any sort of comment on its quality.
Lansdell: It was pretty obvious The Shield was going to win here due to some sort of in-fighting on the part of the cobbled-together team, but the way it happened felt very wrong. I am SO tired of Big Show turns. This time, you couldn’t even say he was in the wrong! I like how The Shield is working together, but they are kind of floundering around the upper midcard. It’s hard to book a three-man stable when none of them has had a singles match yet, but I imagine Reigns will be the one who goes for singles gold while the other two tag up. I don’t know who of Orton and Sheamus will feud with Show, but I assume it will be Orton leaving Sheamus feudless. Aside from Rollins almost faceplanting THROUGH the barricade on a tope, nothing really remarkable in this match but it was good enough.
Thomas: I thought this was a decent match, though not great by any stretch. It didn’t have the “crowd-pleasing” quality that you expect from an opening match but the star power was there and that’s a solid trade-off. There were some fun moments and impressive spots; I did think that Orton didn’t protect Rollins well on his dive through the ropes and cringed when Rollins looked like he’d gone face-first into the guardrail. But everyone worked hard and the right team went over in relatively clean fashion, and the progression of Orton’s turn and Show’s drop back into heeldom worked well.
Benjamin: I was very surprised that this was the “official” opener. Didn’t see that coming. This was a quick, yet highly entertaining opener. The action was fast paced and everybody did their job. Rollins flying through the second rope into the barricade was SICK looking and stands out as the spot of the match for me. Instead of the Orton heel turn, Big Show knocked his teammates out after the loss. It made complete sense within the context of the match, as Big Show wasn’t tagged in when he wanted to be. This was a great start to the show and nice sprint. They used every second its fullest potential.
Average Match Rating: **¾
Match Result: Mark Henry defeats Ryback after a failed Shell Shocked.
Match Length: 7:57
Slimmer: As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that sometimes it’s important to view a match as it was meant to be viewed. There are matches that truly are meant to be analyzed from a technical workrate point of view. Those are the matches that reward knowledgeable fans and nuanced analysis. But there are also matches that are simply meant to be watched as a fan, and this was one of those matches. It would be pointless to analyze the workrate or psychology, because that wasn’t the point of this match. The point of this match was to watch two beasts beat on each other for eight minutes. I like to watch Mark Henry hurt people. It makes me happy. As such, this match made me happy. ‘Nuff said. I hope to have the opportunity to watch Mark Henry hurt people again very soon. Because it makes me happy.
Lansdell: Rumour has it that the old lady from the Wendy’s commercial pointed at her TV when this one started and yelled “I FOUND IT! I FINALLY FOUND IT!” This one actually surprised me, not because of the result but because of the way Henry basically dominated the match throughout. Ryback looked outclassed and outmuscled for most of the night and that doesn’t augur well for a guy that for a while seemed to have a wagon hitched to him and a rocket up his arse. It was good for what it was, a slugfest between two behemoths with some impressive strength spots, and it was north enough of glacial that I never felt myself nodding off. I did enjoy the finish and post-match activity, I won’t mind seeing these two continue the feud at Extreme Rules at all. Maybe a Last Man Standing match or, not that it will happen, a Texas Death Match. As good as could be expected.
Thomas: What, did we expect this to be an exciting match? ’cause if we did, we were set to be disappointed. This was two big, slow guys plodding around the ring brawling with occasional power moves. I’m really surprised that Ryback lost because at this point, you can’t possibly believe he’s staying anywhere remotely near the main event, even if he did get some of his heat back thanks the bad-ass Shellshock post-match. The match was surprisingly one-sided and I can’t view this as anything less than a complete demotion of him. I would like to say it was a better match than I expected, but it wasn’t.
Benjamin: It was kind of weird to see them exchanging “BOO” and “YEAH” punches to start the match. My wife mentioned that Ryback looked a bit like a ninja turtle in his singlet and I couldn’t help but notice it for the rest of the match. The cameras didn’t do a good job of hiding their blatant talking back and forth. Mark Henry wins and I’m legitimately shocked. Ryback can’t pick up a win on PPV for his life. Two heel wins to start the show? Surprising. I like the unpredictability though. Ryback hitting the Shellshock after the match was legitimately impressive as hell. I’m assuming this feud will continue through Extreme Rules, where Ryback gets his big win that only a quarter of the audience will see. This was a decent power match.
Average Match Rating: **
Team Hell No (Champions) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston w/ AJ Lee
Match Result: Daniel Bryan defeats Dolph Ziggler with a flying head butt.
Match Length: 6:15
Slimmer: The homage to the World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania 28 was brilliant, and I would have been completely fine with this match only going 18 seconds. However, I’m also glad that it got more than 18 seconds, because they managed to fit a whole lot of match into six minutes. Big E looked good next to the three more seasoned guys in the match, and the entire match flowed quite well. This could have turned into a modern tag team classic with twelve to fifteen minutes, but ultimately there’s only so much you can do with just six. Team Hell No continue to find a way to win, and at this point I really have no idea who could take the belts from them.
Lansdell: Three matches in a row featuring a WrestleMania debutant, which is pretty unusual. With Ziggs and Daniel Bryan in this one I was expecting quality, and I got it. All four men worked hard, Langston showed some impressive agility and strength, and even played a role in some of the better spots. I can only hope that Hell No’s retention means The Shield is the team that gets to dethrone them, if for no other reason than having Seth Rollins and Daniel Bryan in the ring together. With another 5 minutes this would have been in the running for match of the night, but at the time it got I can’t go too high.
Thomas: They got off to a fun start by keeping AJ’s “Kiss of Death” WrestleMania gimmick going. This had the potential to be the best match of the night at this point for obvious reasons but it wasn’t quite as good as the opener. Big E. was kept in fairly limited use but he was effective in the amount that he was used while Dolph and D-Bry were both workhorses and Kane did his usual solid stuff. Bryan’s running knee off of the apron onto Langston was pretty cool and as would be expected, Dolph sold the choke slam like an absolute champ. I would have liked to see this go longer, but what we got was pretty good. Another somewhat surprising result as conventional wisdom would say the disagreeing tag champs should lose, but they just had two heel wins so a crowd-popping moment was necessary. Ultimately this seemed like the kind of thing we would see as an extended match on Raw which is fine, but I hoped for more.
Benjamin: My initial thought was “why did Team Hell No enter to Kane’s music!?” I absolutely LOVED that they teased the WrestleMania 28 ending with the AJ kiss. That was great writing. Anyways, they gave us some solid tag team action here. They didn’t get enough time to put on a clinic, but like the opener, they used every second they were given to their fullest potential.
Average Match Rating: **¾
Match Result: Fandango defeats Chris Jericho with an inside cradle.
Match Length: 9:15
Slimmer: There seemed to be a lot of people predicting that this match would steal the show like Jericho and Michaels did a decade ago, and while it was a good match, it wasn’t quite a show stealer. However, Fandango did look good out there, no doubt in large part thanks to being across the ring from Chris Jericho. I could easily see the Fandango / Jericho feud continuing if Jericho is going to stay with WWE past WrestleMania, but I could also see Fandango being inserted into a high profile mid-card feud. Given his athleticism and narcissistic persona, I’d be completely in favor of a Fandango / Kofi Kingston feud.
Lansdell: I had an inkling going in that these two would steal the show. Jericho is of course amazing and can carry anyone, but Fandango is no slouch. As it happened they didn’t quite set the world on fire, but the match was very enjoyable and a promising start to the dancer’s career. His gimmick is a heat magnet, he looks like a heel and he talks like a heel. If his ring work improves (which is almost a given if he keeps working with the likes of Jericho), he could be a player. The feud should continue with the heel getting the win here, and I’m fine with that. I just really want him to get a more impressive, athletic finisher. Good, solid match here that was short of special. Also, we now have our fourth match with a debutant in a row, and the second in a row with someone making their in-ring debut on the biggest stage
Thomas: Well, that was what WWE wanted it to be, for better or worse. Jericho did his utmost to make Johnny Curtis a star and to his credit, Fandango was pretty far from terrible here. This match was all about building up Fandango: his character, his ring presence, everything. And it accomplished that. This wasn’t an all-time WrestleMania classic but they worked hard and the crowd was appropriately into it, which is all we’re asking for from a match like this. Here’s hoping giving Fandango a debut win at WrestleMania isn’t meaningless three months from now via a complete jobbing out because Creative can’t figure out what else to do with him. We laugh about his character now, but remember how Dolph Ziggler got his start. I’m just sayin’.
Benjamin: Fandango’s entrance with all of the dancers was EPIC. He didn’t get as much heat as I was hoping he’d get. There were multiple bad camera angles in the match in which we missed spots due to bad cutaways. Jericho moving out of the way of the Alabama Jam was a great spot. Fandango’s landing looked legitimately painful. It felt like they were building towards a longer, better match until the abrupt finish. That’s kind of the purpose of abrupt finishes though. I’m glad that Fandango got his win, but I hate roll up finishes on a big stage. That’s more of a personal thing though and I can’t fault them for that. I’m sure they’ll have a rematch soon. The match was solid but again, wasn’t long enough to be anything special.
Average Match Rating: **¾
Alberto Del Rio (Champion) w/ Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Jack Swagger w/ Zeb Colter
Match Result: Alberto Del Rio defeats Jack Swagger with the cross arm breaker.
Match Length: 10:22
Slimmer: I’ll admit that I’ve always been a bit skeptical of both Del Rio and Swagger. I’ve certainly enjoyed various matches from both guys, but I’ve also been terribly bored by various matches from both guys. Neither one of them has seemed incredibly consistent to me, and so I really didn’t know what to expect from this match. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this match. Del Rio and Swagger kept the action going from start to finish, and they never got bogged down in slow or repetitive spots. However, I will admit that I was disappointed that Del Rio never escaped the Patriot Lock by slipping out of his boot. Given the characters involved in this match, I thought that would have been a nice little homage. Anyway, my guess is that there’s still life in this feud, so look for a rematch at Extreme Rules in May.
Lansdell: Yes, I thought Dolph would cash in too. There seems to be some sort of prohibition on people doing that at Mania though, so it didn’t happen. If Swagger is going to get suspended or punished in some way for his arrest (which would be a shame, if warranted), I expect him to destroy ADR tomorrow night leading to the cash-in. From the start this match was weird, with Swagger’s entrance (with his awesome new theme) being partially overwritten by a video. The match itself was fine, the finishing sequence of reversals ended up being a sign of things to come as it would be repeated in the other three main events but it was still impressive. I know these two were capable of more with more time, and Swagger looked better than I have seen him in a long time, but of course the arrest may have had a lot to do with that. I hope this doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of Zeb Colter either!
Thomas: I hate to be saying this because it sounds like a broken record, but…yep, that was a match alright. It certainly wasn’t bad and Swagger and Del Rio work pretty good together, but there just wasn’t anything special here. They did everything perfectly by the numbers from Swagger’s reversing a submission hold into his own submission hold to the manager shenanigans, the announcers selling everything in broad strokes. The crowd was more interested in Dolph Ziggler cashing in than they were anything that actually took place during the match. I really wanted to like this but like most of the undercard, it was just kind of there.
Benjamin: Swagger and Colter got A JOBBER ENTRANCE AT WRESTLEMANIA! Hey, I’m not complaining. Zeb cut a decent promo to get as much heat on Swagger before the match as possible and I think it worked. I interpret this as WWE not having enough faith in Swagger getting the heat that he needs. With that said, Del Rio didn’t get that good of a reaction either. During the introductions, Swagger got some pretty big heat, proving that Colter’s promo worked well. These guys put on an exceptional back and forth match. This was the first match of the night that felt like a legitimate wrestling match. This was a pretty good match. Not going to lie, I was really hoping for a Ziggler cash in. It seemed to me that they cut to a video package quickly afterwards to take care of the imminent speculation.
Average Match Rating: ***
Match Result: The Undertaker defeats CM Punk with the Tombstone Piledriver.
Match Length: 22:10
Slimmer: People talk about the genius of the Undertaker’s gimmick and how the magnificent production value of his entrance adds so much to his aura of mythical invincibility. That may be true, but the myth of the Undertaker isn’t nearly as impressive as the reality of Mark Calaway. This man is 48 years old. His body is broken down and crumbling. He only wrestles once a year. And yet when he does step back into that ring every April, he’s still just about the best in the world. This man truly is a phenom. Tonight he stepped into the ring with the self-proclaimed best in the world, and in my eyes they stole the show. Punk is at the top of his game, and Taker still miraculously moves better than most of the guys who are half his age. This wasn’t quite up to the standard that Taker set with HBK and HHH, but that’s a damn near impossible standard to meet. Taker and Punk told a story that settled the score, and there’s a good chance they’re both going to take a break for a while.
Lansdell: Everything about this match was special. Living Color’s performance playing Punk to the ring was insane (they’re BLACK???), Taker’s entrance was well-conceived with the zombie arms grabbing at him, Punk’s ring attire was purple, grey and black as a throwback to Taker’s old garb…and then they started wrestling. Punk using Old School, Taker looking like he was legitimately in trouble, Punk almost breaking himself in half with an elbow off the top that was meant to go through the table and didn’t, counters and kickouts and reversals and…wow. A very different type of match from last year with Triple H, but in my mind almost as good. I was really pulling for a draw in this one, dirtying the streak without breaking it, letting Punk crow about being the one in 20-0-1 and setting up a rematch. I can understand them not doing that with WM30 coming up and everyone expecting Cena-Taker, but I still wanted it to happen. When Punk pinned Taker with Taker’s own pose I legitimately thought the streak was done, and I didn’t even think that when he fought HHH. Brilliantly done all around.
Thomas: Okay, so clearly this was not one of the Dead Man’s best WrestleMania matches. Compared to the last several years of facing HBK and Triple H it was downright lackluster. But that being said, I think that anyone hoping for another classic was deluding themselves. Punk is burned out and Taker has shown less and less each year as his body deteriorates. I think that they tried to deliver something really epic to the best of the ability that they had. There were some really great moments but the story of the match never had me suspending my disbelief to think that Punk might somehow pull out the win the way that past ‘Mania matches with Taker have done. They tried very hard, but in the end this is a middle-of-the-road match in terms of the Streak.
Benjamin: The crowd is amazing for this match. They were more divided for a Taker WrestleMania match than ever. Every big spot was built up intelligently in the first half of the match and they followed through on them all in the closing sequence. I’m writing the analysis live and at this point, I’m not sure if this match can be topped. This was far better than I, and most others, ever expected it to be. This match is proof that Undertaker still has plenty of gas left in the tank for a few more years. This is the type of match you want to see when you spend this type of money on a WrestleMania.
Average Match Rating: ****¼
Match Result: Triple H defeats Brock Lesnar with a Pedigree on the steel steps.
Match Length: 22:26
Slimmer: I’m a bit torn on this match. On the one hand, I definitely admire the intensity and brutality that Triple H and Brock Lesnar both put into this match. They both went out there and beat each other senseless for our entertainment, and I respect the heck of them for that. However, at the same time, I also kind of feel like they were trying just a bit too hard to force this match into being something more epic than it really was. That’s sort of the same feeling I got from the Triple H / Shawn Michaels Hell in a Cell match years ago. Anyway, Triple H got his revenge, so all is right in the House of McMahon-Helmsley. The bigger question is where this leaves Brock Lesnar, who now stands 1-2 in his first year back with WWE.
Lansdell: Brock is a monster, and he showed it here. HHH is tough as old leather, and he showed it too. These two had a rough, violent, personal war that was exactly what I expected and wanted it to be. The finishing sequence with the steel steps, the kimmura and the Pedigree was suspenseful, and each time Brock broke the hold I thought he was going to find a way to finish it. Kind of surprised that HHH isn’t going to ride off into the corporate sunset just yet, but I guess he has someone else in mind to finish his in-ring time. Maybe he wanted to distance himself from HBK’s departure as much as possible. The weird thing about this match is that neither guy figures to be around much for the next while, and the crowd was seemingly aware of that as they were pretty dead for this one. I really enjoyed it and thought it deserved better.
Thomas: Well, it took them most of the show but they finally pulled out a great match. This wasn’t a fast-paced extravaganza but it told a great story and had a lot of hard-hitting offense which accomplished exactly what it needed to in order to excel. With a match like this there’s a temptation to overbook but they kept it down to the basics, two guys who were willing to do just about anything. People may complain about the fact that there were slow points but each of them had a specific point to it and it all worked out perfectly fine. I’m also not an MMA guy, so I’m not bothered by the fact that, as I was informed, the Game’s kimura was sloppy as hell. This had that epic feeling that no other match on the card up to this point had.
Benjamin: First thing of note, Brock slamming Triple H through the same table that Punk and Taker didn’t break was a brilliant spot, especially the following belly to belly suplex on the shards of the table. Something of note early on was Brock lifting up the stairs fifteen minutes into the match and tossing them over the top rope like it was nothing. Not to mention, he was throwing Triple H around like a rag doll the entire match. It was extremely impressive. Brock looked to be in better shape than ever. The biggest problem that I had with the match was that the crowd just didn’t want to rally behind Triple H like WWE was hoping for. Triple H’s ego trip needs to stop. The crowd chanted for a pose or two for Trips, but it almost seemed like they didn’t want him to win. Either way, these guys delivered the match that they should have wrestled at Summerslam. This was a WrestleMania worthy no holds barred match.
Average Match Rating: ***¾
Match Result: John Cena defeats the Rock with the Attitude Adjustment.
Match Length: 24:03
Slimmer: I should probably keep my comments here brief, because I don’t want to be negative just for the sake of being negative. The truth is that I’m really not much of a Rock or a Cena fan, and as such it was very hard for me to get excited about this match. There are people who are Rock fans or Cena fans who were definitely pumped for this rematch, and I’m glad they enjoyed it. From my point of view it was a fairly bland matchup with way to many finisher-cover-kickout, finisher-cover-kickout, counter-counter-counter-finisher-cover-kickout sequences, but I will admit to thinking it was clever how they played off of last year’s finish to set up this year’s finish. There are those who will complain about Cena walking away with the belt, but that part of the match is actually fine by me for one very simple reason. Of the six men in the big three matches at the end of the show, Cena is the only one who we know is going to be a full-time member of the roster from this point forward. If only one of your six main eventers is going to be on your television shows every week, it only makes sense to put the belt on him.
Lansdell: Well, there was no way this match could live up to the hype without a full-on Cena heel turn. Nobody really expected Rock to win, he couldn’t really with his schedule and him holding the belt. I was heavily rooting for Cena to align himself with Heyman, Punk and Lesnar to fulfill the “anything to win” line he uttered on Raw a couple of weeks back. Of course we all know the issues with a Cena heel turn and if it is ever going to happen, tonight was not the night. The match seemed to sort of plod along for the most part, there were way too many kick outs from finishers and escapes from finishing submissions, but otherwise it was just sort of there. Then they started playing up the finish to last year’s match and making this one into something that felt like a sequel, and it improved immensely. Sadly the crowd still didn’t seem as into it as they should have been, and it hurt the “big time” feel that the main event of the biggest night on the wrestling calendar should have had.
Thomas: I have a feeling that this match will be divisive among people; I think that these guys are capable of putting on a far better match and I think their timing was off in portions of the match. That being said, it was still a very, very good one. They had the passion in it and the booking was very solid, even if everything went down in a completely predictable fashion and there were absolutely no surprises here. That’s the match’s biggest flaw; it felt like it was going through the motions a bit on the booking, but Cena and Rock did everything they could to make it worthwhile.
Benjamin: This match started off SO. SLOW. It didn’t really pick up either. They phoned this shit in. It was ten minutes of rest holds and then they kicked out of each other’s finishers a bunch. It was a bullshit match in my opinion. I hope that other people enjoyed this more than I did because as a main event, it really left a sour taste in my mouth. I don’t care about the result. The match just reeked of laziness. They didn’t even TRY to surprise anybody. This was essentially the same match they had last year, and that’s why my rating is below ***. Wow, the crowd boos as pyro goes off and Cena and Rock hold hands at the top of the ramp. “STUPID, STUPID, STUPID.”
Average Match Rating: ***¼
Match of the Night:
Slimmer: The Undertaker vs. CM Punk (****¼)
It wasn’t Taker / HBK or Taker / HHH, but it still magical to watch Taker defy time, physiology, and all good sense to once again steal the show.
Lansdell: The Undertaker vs. CM Punk ((****¼)
Thomas: Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (****)
I rated Rock vs. Cena and Triple H vs. Lesnar the same, but my expectations were higher for Rock and Cena so this gets the edge.
Benjamin: The Undertaker vs. CM Punk (****¼)
This is what WrestleMania is all about! They built up to the finish perfectly and legitimately had half of the crowd believing that CM Punk could potentially win on multiple occasions. Undertaker stole the show yet again.
Trash of the Night:
Slimmer: Omitting Tons of Funk & the Funkadactyls vs. Team Rhodes Scholars & The Bella Twins
I love the Bella Twins. I love them, and I paid good money to see them wrestle tonight. This match wouldn’t have gone more than about six minutes, and with entrances and exits you could have gotten it done in about nine. Bump Diddy, kill one of the Rock / Cena promos, and take out one of the THREE kimura / step slam spots in Triple H / Lesnar, and there are your nine minutes. Besides the fact that I love the Bellas, inserting this match between Taker / Punk and Triple H / Lesnar or between Triple H / Lesnar and Rock / Cena would have done wonders for the match that followed it. It would have been a great palette cleanser. Like sweet, Bella-flavored sorbet. There’s always room for Bella-flavored sorbet on a four hour show.
Lansdell: Omitting Tons of Funk & The Funkadactyls vs. Team Rhodes Scholars & The Bella Twins
Thomas: Ryback vs. Mark Henry (*¾)
Sorry kids, but this was a snoozer. Considering the lack of a Divas match on the show, this was pretty much guaranteed to be the worst match of the night and it didn’t let me down in that respect.
Benjamin: The Rock vs. John Cena (**¾)
Give me a second before you flame me. These guys delivered almost the same match as last year with a different ending. It was boring as hell and then they exchanged their signature moves a bunch. I consider myself one of the most positive writers on the site, but this really chapped my ass. I was very much under the impression that they didn’t try hard enough to deliver something special. Obviously this wasn’t the worst match of the night, but it left the worst impression with me. This is all about personal opinions, so if you disagree that is fine. Rock/Cena II bombed for me and I don’t want to see them ever wrestle again.
Slimmer: This show may have felt a bit bland, but in retrospect it actually built quite well from start to finish. None of the matches were total crap, and the undercard matches kept increasing in quality up to the three big main event matches. Not every match on the card was my cup of tea, but I understand that there was definitely something for everyone. I mean, I may not have enjoyed Rock / Cena as much as some, but I also probably enjoyed Ryback / Henry way more than most. This probably wasn’t an all-time classic Mania, but it was almost certainly above average.
Lansdell: I said this on Twitter, but this would have made an excellent Night of Champions, a good Summer Slam…but as a WrestleMania, this just felt vanilla. No other word for it really, just vanilla. No backstage promos, no swerves, no turns, just a bunch of solid matches without even an “OH MY GOD” moment to show in clip montages in future years. This did not feel like WrestleMania. I can’t point to any one thing that was bad, because it wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t Mania.
Thomas: This would have been a great PPV if it had been, say, Over the Limit or some other B-Show. But as WrestleMania, the biggest show of the year (and a supposedly-$70 product, nonetheless)? Hell no. The first big problem is that the pacing of the show was absolutely atrocious. This is why you need a variety of match styles on a card; if you just to all faced-paced spot monkey matches then you get burned out, but when all the matches have a slower pace, then the show feels like it lasts forever, and not in a good way. That’s exactly what happened here. Sure, the last two matches delivered but that should have gone without saying; whether this show lived or died in terms of its legacy depended on the undercard which the company has made perfectly clear that they don’t care about. The World Title match felt like it was basically just treading water, Punk vs. Undertaker was no classic (nor should we have expected such) and the best match outside of the three main events involved Fandango. FANDANGO, people. The whole thing felt like the company was just coasting along. The more I think about it, the worse the part-timers coming back seems to be for the state of the WWE product. Not exactly because they’re taking spots from other guys, but because it allows the company to continue not caring about the undercard because the people will pay for the big names. And that’s great except the big names make up less than 25% of the PPV’s time. This was one of the least-satisfying WrestleManias that I can remember in some time.
Benjamin: This was a solid WrestleMania. Nothing sucked, but only one match was “great.” CM Punk and Undertaker delivered big and everything else was what we expected. They should deliver beyond our expectations on the “Grandest Stage of Them All.” When it comes to events that I pay $70 to watch, I want to be blown away and I wasn’t. If I ever want to see John Cena vs. The Rock again, I’ll watch their superior WrestleMania 28 match. I was wrong and the majority of you were right. WrestleMania 29 was status quo and not worth the price tag.
Average Match Rating: ***¼