WrestleMania 29 – The Live Experience

michael dworkis looks at ‘mania …

 

Before I begin, a word of thanks go out to my wife, Evi (@CreateEvity), for helping me tweet live updates of the event on the Pop-Break twitter feed (@PopBreakDotCom). I admit to not being an expert on hash-tags and tagging, but Evi, who maintains her own blog regarding pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting (www.honestpreggo.com) is very skilled in the ways of the internet; without her it would not have been possible. She was never into wrestling, until a few months into our dating life. After joining me and my friends in our monthly Pay-Per-View gatherings, she was instantly hooked. Her first live event was the 2009 Hell in the Cell, where The Undertaker defeated CM Punk for the World Heavyweight Champion. Following that she went to see two Ring of Honor shows. How could I top that, spoiling her with such incredible live experiences? The answer: Take her to WrestleMania 29. Fitting, that Undertaker would once again come out victorious.

 

To experience a WWE event live is one thing, to experience WrestleMania is completely different. As a writer, I find it difficult to adequately put into words the feelings of being there, live, with 80,000+ people sharing the same excitement, the same rush of adrenaline, to be part of an annual event which becomes part of WWE history. Just beyond incredible.

Since by now most of you know the results, I am going to do this review differently, as I recap not just the match results, but what it was like seeing it all in person. Thank you to Marty (@muffnman) for helping me this morning recall some of the highlights.

Pre-Show panel with Scott Sanford, Jim Ross, Dusty Rhodes, and… Kofi Kingston???

Maybe he is injured, or they really have NOTHING for him to do anymore. Kingston on this panel was very strange to see. His place is in the ring showcasing his athletic ability. We could not understand a single word Dusty said, and Sanford pretty much led the show while fans were upset that JR would not be part of the main broadcast team. Not like we would have been able to hear him live, but Jim Ross should be behind the announce table. My wife is a Speech Pathologist, so she had a clinical field day with this verbally challenged panel.

The Miz defeats Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental Title on the Pre-Show.
I’m still not sure why this was on the pre-show. It was a decent match. Live, it looked slow as Barrett owned the entire match until Miz locked on the figure-four. Barrett escaped, only for Miz to lock it in a second time and earn the submission victory. It started to rain during the match, so people were panicking. Thankfully, once Miz and Barrett were done with their bit, so was the rain. Barrett came out looking weak, and The Miz once again holds a mid-level championship.

 

Michael Cole comes out to boos, the crowd cheers for JBL, and ERUPTS for Jerry “The King” Lawler. No joke, he got one of the loudest pops of the night. Out comes Lillian Garcia and…

NO National Anthem. Now, I have no idea if they did some sort of pre-recorded National Anthem with a video montage (they have done this once or twice in the past). No introduction either, they just ring the bell, and get right to it with the intro for…

Sheamus, Randy Orton, and Big Show vs. The Shield
Great opening match and The Shield looked damn strong against the three WWE veterans. Rollins did a suicide dive and crushed his face against the barrier. The crowd booed Sheamus at every turn, while no one seemed to care much for Orton either. Show hits some massive chops, and you did not need any sound system to hear that. Shield won the match after Sheamus moved to tag Show, only to have Orton steal the tag, and to wind up getting pinned by Ambrose. The crowd cheered for the win, and then popped huge when Show KO’d both Sheamus and Orton.
Winners: The Shield (of Justice)

 

Mark Henry defeated Ryback
This was a repeat of Brock/Goldberg from WrestleMania 20. Bear hugs, mid-ring stalemate collisions, just a whole lot of nothing. At some point, Ryback went for Shell Shock, got squashed by Henry and got pinned, I think. It looked like Ryback got injured, because the end of the match seemed mis-timed and his confusion was easily noticeable. Post-match Ryback did hit the Shell Shock on Henry, but the trainers were out helping him to the back. The crowd booed through all of it, but that was not the worst match of the night. Not by a long shot.

Team Hell No retain the World Tag Team Titles against Dolph Ziggler & Big E. Langston w/AJ Lee
A decent match with Bryan and Kane dominating. Langston finally proves what we all thought, he is just another big man with power moves; however, Kane proved his superior over the NXT Champion. Ziggler looked weak. He had a couple of great moves, but a disappointing show. Perhaps it was meant to show off Langston, but the overwhelming dominance of Team Hell No stole the thunder to keep the titles. The crowd popped huge for Daniel Bryan, the “YES!” chants echoed throughout the match.

 

Chris Jericho jobs to Fandoinktheclowngo
I am not making this up. I think my twitter post of #cryingfromlaughter started trending after this debacle. I could not believe they actually booked Jericho to lose to Johnny “Fandango” Curtis. This must be punishment, having Jericho lose to the Dancing with the Stars-gimmick-boy because of his own attempt at pseudo-celebrity. The match was good at least. Jericho carried the match, which I never take issue to, except Fandango had a whole three moves: one was a top-rope leg drop, a second was a nice jumping roundhouse kick, and third, another top-rope leg drop. Jericho got rolled up, and the crowd spent the next five minutes laughing at Jericho. I am not making this up.

Alberto del Rio w/Ricardo Rodriguez defeats Jack Swagger w/Zeb Colter to retain the World Heavyweight Championship
This was a fantastic match. It should have been longer and the crowd was hot the whole time. The surprising part was how Swagger seemed to have been more over with the New Jersey audience, but that can be debated. Del Rio and Swagger are two great performers and worked the ring to perfection. Del Rio took control with a nice-looking backstabber out of the turnbuckle, and then crushed Swagger with a German-Suplex. That got a huge pop (mostly from me). Del Rio went for another, but Swagger countered and reversed until he floored Del Rio with the Swagger Bomb. Great reversals between the Ankle Lock and the Cross-Arm Breaker until Del Rio trapped Swagger in the middle of the ring. Best bout of the night until…

 

The Undertaker defeated CM Punk to extend The Streak to 21-0
The crowd roared for CM Punk. The arena, if it had a roof, would have exploded off. His entrance theme was played live by Living Color, and you could barely hear them over the live-crowd. Good thing Punk waiting a few minutes before entering so we could actually hear the theme. The eruption was incredible! Then the lights went out. Undertaker came out. Again, the crowd was deafening. Very cool entrance and the big-screens had very cool backdrops.

Punk and Taker had a short stare down and then just went at it. The crowd roared the whole match, clearly divided, although at time favoring Punk. The Undertaker certainly worked out before this one, his performance easily surpassed last year with his match against Triple H. Punk did not have to carry this at all. Great moments: Taker goes for Old School Rope Walk, but Punk pulls him down, and then does it himself!!! Crowd cheered for that. Taker laid out on the Spanish announce table, and Punk LEAPING off the top rope, crashing down on The Deadman but the table did NOT break. Punk gets trapped in the Hell’s Gate, but then flips over Undertaker and locks in the Anaconda Vice. Crowd on their feet. Punk locks it in, and it seems like The Deadman is down…

… until he sits right up, old school style.

 

They go at it some more, Taker with a Power Bomb, then Punk spikes him with the Go-To-Sleep. Punk eats Chokeslam after Chokeslam, kicks out of each following pinfall attempt. Crowd on their feet the rest of the match. Taker then plants with the Tombstone and the crowd jumps. Punk kicks out a two and the “This Is Awesome” chant begins. Punk regains himself, mocks Taker and then, thanks to Paul Heyman, is able to clock Taker with the Urn. Punk covers doing the Deadman vintage pin, but Taker kicks out and they just tear into each other. Punk cracks The Deadman with another GTS, the Taker falls back on the ropes, GRABS PUNK TWISTS, TURNS, and TOMBSTONE out of NOWHERE! One, two, three and this is over. The crowd exploded. Unbelievable. MATCH OF THE NIGHT.

I got chills just thinking about that match.

Triple H defeated Brock Lesnar
This match was expected to be a bloodbath, and it did not come close. Loudest cheer went to Shawn Michaels who ate an F-5 half way through the match. Crowd started off loud, then gradually died as it became a standard brawl with nothing special. Some big hits which got reactions, but overall it was a decent match at best. I think it would have been perceived as better if it was not built up to be some sort of bloody war. The good stuff though, as I said, HBK got launched with an F5 when he tried to superkick Brock, and we got a bunch of nice suplexes and German suplexes thrown during the match. I was proved wrong, Brock still remembers some of his roots. The ring stairs and sledgehammer came into play, and then The Game locked on the Kimura Hold, the signature submission used by Brock not once, not twice, but three times. HHH won via a Pedigree on the ring stairs. Not the best match, but not a bad one. Decent. Good. Got the job done.

 

John Cena defeated The Rock for the WWE Championship
This was, without a shadow of any doubt, the WORST match of the night. This match killed the event for many, as evidenced by people LEAVING the MetLife arena. We are not talking small groups; you could see, throughout the arena, people getting up and leaving during the match. The match was terrible. Maybe a move here and there, and there was at least one five-minute sleeper hold because I left for the bathroom and came back, and neither man had moved. Rock hit Cena with a dozen Rock Bottoms, effectively killing the “impact” that move is supposed to have, Cena hit a few Attitude Adjustments, locked on the STF at one time, and the predicted “oh look at that moments” such as Cena mocking Rock, or Rock evading the Five-Knuckle Shuffle. The “boring” chant echoed over and over. The one good moment, I think, was Cena mocking the People’s Elbow, but as Cena hit the ropes, Rock snapped up and stared the challenger down. That was it. Eventually Cena hit his 47th Attitude Adjustment on The Rock, got the three-count and the crowd booed their way out of the arena.

 

I would have rather seen Tons of Funk vs. Rhodes Scholars, which was left off the show.

Overall, this was a solid and very well-performed WrestleMania. Had the show ended with Punk/Undertaker the crowd would have went home happy, easily. I imagine the folks booking and planning this could not have been blind to the obvious mistake of closing with Cena/Rock. Even the 16-year-olds were booing.

The entire stage and ring area was a masterpiece. If you saw it on television, great. Seeing it live though… Wow. I must have snapped a couple dozen photos of the set during various entrances. The bridge, the giant screens, the Statue of Liberty high above the ring. The WrestleMania 29 setup was a work of art.

However, it had one major flaw. The four corners holding up the Statue of Liberty over the ring, also hold the sound-system, lights, and equipment, were not transparent and not the metallic piping we have seen before. They were made to look like skyscrapers, so anyone sitting behind them could not see the ring. It did slightly affect where I was sitting, as I could not see one of the turnbuckle corners. It did not take away from the matches, since I could just look up at one of the many screens, but still a bit of a nuisance.

I repeat, WrestleMania 29 was a solid show. The undercard out-performed two of the main attractions (Cena/Rock & Brock/HHH), and the Punk/Undertaker match easily wins the Match of the Night award. Jericho losing to Fandango was the joke of the night. For those of you who followed my tweets @PopBreakDotCom, I hope you enjoyed them. I enjoy doing my reviews for you and I am proud to have been covering wrestling on Pop-Break for over two years now. I hope you all enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing.

Quick rundown:

Miz wins IC Title from Barrett
Shield beats Sheamus/Show/Orton, Show KOs Orton and Sheamus post-match
Henry defeats Ryback, terrible match, reminiscent of Brock/Goldberg at WMXX, Ryback appeared inured
Team Hell No retained the tag titles against Team Ziggles. Ziggler looks weak, hopefully he cashes in soon.
Jericho loses to Fandango, becomes instant jobber
Alberto del Rio retains the World Title against Jack Swagger in a solid wrestling match
Undertaker goes 21-0, defeating CM Punk – Best Match of the Night
HHH beats Brock in a brawl with German suplexes
Cena wins the WWE Title from The Rock in the Worst Match of the Night.

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