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The Punk: Wrestlemania 29 Review

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Wrestlemania is to wrestling fans what Christmas is to children. Since 1985 it has been the number one wrestling event of the year and has become, to most fans, almost as big as the Superbowl. The last couple of years have seen WWE struggle to craft decent storylines heading into the event and this year has been no different. Regardless however, this year's instalment features a number of highly anticipated bouts including Triple H and Brock Lesnar, Undertaker and CM Punk and, of course, the rematch from last year's main event, The Rock and John Cena. Can Wrestlemania 29 exceed our expectations, or is this year's show of shows destined for failure?

We begin with a video package looking at the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy which devastated the New York/New Jersey area late last year. Narrated by New Jersey governor Chris Christie, this package paid tribute to the strength of the people while also honouring those who lost their lives during the crisis. Nicely done.

We are LIVE from the Metlife stadium in New Jersey. The fears of a snowy, freezing Wrestlemania hasn't stopped over 80,000 people from packing out the stadium. The set looks amazing too. Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL are our commentary team for the evening. For the first time in ten years, no America the Beautiful to open the show. Justin Bieber must have been unavailable.

Match One - Six Man Tag Match
Sheamus, Randy Orton & Big Show
vs.
The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns)

Probably the best match to open the show. Team Orton, Sheamus and Show showed unity before the match but this soon went out of the window as Sheamus and Orton tagged between themselves without giving the giant a look in. The Shield, up to their usual tricks, controlled for most of the match but perhaps for the first time since their debut in November, looked vulnerable to the attacks from their opponents. Big Show proved to be the weak link here and ultimately cost his team the match by refusing to save Orton from being pinned after a huge spear from Reigns. Most expected The Shield to go over here but despite the signs, few predicted at Show, not Orton, would be the one to cost the faces victory. A great scrap which had the fans hooked from start to end. Last year's opening match was an insult so nice to see WWE getting back on form with their important curtain-raiser.

Winners: The Shield via Pinfall (Spear)

Match Rating: ****/5

Post Match:
Show and Orton argue. Big Show hits Sheamus with the KO punch, and then lays Orton out! So much for the Orton heel turn rumours.

First Rock/Cena promo of the evening. Expect a lot of these throughout.

Match Two
Mark Henry vs. Ryback

Vince McMahon LOVES meatheads so a match of this kind was inevitable considering the talent available. Mark Henry and Ryback's feud coming into the match was surprisingly good, well...as good as it could be. I was expecting a faster paced match with Ryback getting most of the offense and the eventual win. This never happened. Mark Henry actually dominated this slow match by utilising hugs and throws. Many assumed that this match would be used as a 'Mania moment device for Ryback who would lift Henry into the Shellshocked for the victory. This kinda happened but ended with Henry falling on his opponent and getting the three count. Ryback has now failed to win in a PPV match since October. Disappointing match with the wrong man going over. Ryback really needed this more than the 41 year old Henry.

Winner: Mark Henry via Pinfall (Squash?)

Match Rating: **/5


Post Match: Henry marches back to the ring and ends up getting Shellshocked by Ryback! Ryback wins by attrition! Why they couldn't of had that as the actual matches' finish is beyond me. This segment wasted time that could have been given to something else. Still an impressive sight though seeing Henry get lifted and slammed like that.

Match Three - WWE Tag Team Championship
Team Hell No (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston w/ AJ Lee

Despite only getting about nine minutes, this tag match was surprisingly decent. Mixing scrappy brawling with technical wrestling, the two teams probably gave us the best traditional tag match seen for some time at a Wrestlemania. AJ and Dolph began the match recreating Bryan and AJ's ill fated 'Kiss of Death' from last year which nearly saw Bryan redeem his 18 second loss. Big E impressed in his debut, showing off his strength against Kane who conversely looked almost like a bystander here. Perhaps time for the 'Devil's Favourite Demon' to call it day? The champions picked up the win with Bryan hitting Ziggler with the diving headbutt. Decent, brief match. Big E is kept looking strong and the loss for Ziggler could be used as a smokescreen for a possible cash-in later.

Winners and STILL champions: Team Hell No via Pinfall (Diving Headbutt)

Match Rating: ***/5

Match Four

Fandango vs. Chris Jericho

Uneducated fans annoy me sometimes. Fandango's character hasn't flopped. Far from it actually. His refusal to make a proper debut in the weeks leading to 'Mania worked perfectly as a way to generate attention and heat from viewers. In this match with Jericho, Fandango proved that he truly belongs in the WWE as the two delivered one of the best matches on the undercard. Jericho's willingness to help develop younger talent was evident here as he helped ease Johnny Curtis' nerves and expertly disguised a wrestling lesson as an entertaining back and forth encounter. Fandango, as expected, went over with a crafty roll up which has hopefully silenced a lot of his Internet warrior critics. I'm expecting big things from the dancing superstar this year.

Winner: Fandango via Pinfall (Roll-up)

Match Rating: ***.5./5


Recap of The Miz submitting Wade Barrett to win the Intercontinental Championship for the second time. It should be noted that Barrett's reign was ended at 99 days. That's a bummer.

Another video package for the upcoming Rock/Cena match. Yawn.

P Diddy/Puff Daddy/Diddy/Sean Combs/Snoop Dogg takes to the stage for a mini-concert. Better than Kid Rock's at 'Mania 25 but still a horrible waste of time. WWE cares more about mainstream exposure, relevance and acceptance than it does developing it's future talent. Makes me sad when I think about it for too long.

Match Five - World Heavyweight Championship
Alberto Del Rio (c) w/Ricardo Rodriguez vs. Jack Swagger w/Zeb Colter

Jobber entrance for Swagger? What's the point in the elaborate entrance? At least the match isn't opening the show I guess. Despite the strong beginning of this controversial rivalry, it has fizzed out considerably in recent weeks. Zeb Colter's pre-match promo fell pretty flat, a sign that this programme between the two has run it's course. The match itself was a disappointment with Del Rio and Swagger both attempting to win the match with their respective submission finishers. The participation of Colter and Ricardo was thankfully kept to a minimum as the focus stayed with the actual combatants. The submission reversals at the climax of the match were pretty entertaining and quite reminiscent of Punk/Jericho from last year. Del Rio brought the match to an end with a cross armbreaker in the middle of the ring, causing the tap from the 'Real American'. Could this be the last time we see Swagger for a while? He needs to pay his dues after that DUI last month so I reckon it could be.

Winner and STILL champion: Alberto Del Rio via Submission (Cross Armbreaker)

Match Rating: ***/5


No sign of a Ziggler cash-in! I thought this would have been a certainty considering his loss earlier in the evening. WWE really missed an opportunity here to shock in what has been a pretty predictable evening so far. Perhaps he'll do it on Raw? We'll see.

Match Six
CM Punk w/ Paul Heyman vs. The Undertaker

Of all the matches heading into Wrestlemania, this had the greatest build by far although I wonder how WWE originally had it before the tragic passing of Paul Bearer. With classic matches with Shawn Michaels and Triple H in the four 'Mania's prior one was wondering how this match with Punk would fare by comparison. My concerns were subsided as 'Taker and Punk delivered the match of the night. A tense back and forth contest saw Punk dominate for large periods, just like his two predecessors. For the first time ever I found myself doubting whether the streak would survive as Punk countered 'Taker's offense, hit every move he had...including some of 'Taker's own and even put his adversary through the announcers table with an amazing elbow drop from the top rope. Ultimately, 'The Phenom' would come back and hit Punk with two tombstone piledrivers to win the match and go an unprecedented 21-0. Right up there with The Undertaker's greatest 'Mania matches. The loss could actually do Punk more good than expected as this performance cemented his status as the undisputed best full time performer in the company. Living Colour performed his theme too. That was seriously epic.

Winner: The Undertaker via Pinfall (Tombstone Piledriver) - Undertaker is 21-0 at Wrestlemania

Match Rating: ****.5/5


Another video package for the Cena/Rock match. Just in case you forgot it was on tonight.

Match Seven - No Hold Barred Match - Should Triple H lose, he must retire
Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman vs. Triple H w/ Shawn Michaels

The other match with a decent build up carried on the momentum from the last bout as Triple H and Brock Lesnar clashed in an intense 25 minute brawl. I'll forget that Triple H was basically coming out retirement for a retirement match and focus on the positives! Lesnar finally got it right third time round as he brutalised his adversary with a well balanced mix of wrestling throws and MMA strikes. Dominating for the first half of the match, Lesnar literally chucked Hunter all around the arena before the action settled down in the ring. It wasn't until the final 10 minutes that this match went from good to excellent; Triple H managing to grab Lesnar's arm and snap in the Kimura lock. Lesnar's screams and tap teases and escapes took the match into unpredictable territory, that was until Michaels took Heyman out with a Sweet Chin Music though! Triple H followed the submission torture with a sledgehammer to the face and a pedigree for the win. A great, violent match far superior to their Summerslam main event and miles better than the Extreme Rules match last April. Out of all the main evening part timers, Lesnar is the only one I hope we see a little more of in 2013.

Winner: Triple H via Pinfall (Pedigree)

Match Rating: ****/5


The Hall of Fame class of 2013 is bought out to nice pops, well, everyone except Donald Trump anyway. Amazing to see Bruno Sammartino finally in the hall. No one has deserved it more and it's a real shame that it took this long.

Justin Long announces that the attendance for Wrestlemania 29 is 80,676. This breaks the the attendance of both Summerslam '92 and Wrestlemania 23 and becomes the WWE's highest attendance since 1987's Wrestlemania III...that's if you still really believe that they got 93,173 fans in the Silverdome!

No mixed tag match before the main event? Oh well.

Match Eight - WWE Championship
The Rock (c) vs. John Cena

Cena gets booed more than I have heard since Chicago in 2011. Rock gets a warm reception as usual. Twice in a lifetime was always destined to be inferior to last year's match. We all knew that Cena was going to win clean and despite the brief moments of doubt, our predictions were spot on. It's quite hard to try and rate this match, the chemistry between The Rock and Cena is apparent and some moments which played as flashbacks to last year were quite clever but having Cena kick out of THREE Rock Bottoms? Hard to believe, even for Super Cena! The last 15 minutes pretty much boiled down to the two hitting and countering and using the other's finishing moves. It was a really strange thing to see. Despite an evening hyping the match, it just didn't have the epic feel that it had last year. The crowd seemed to share my sentiment as for the longest time were completely unresponsive to what was happening in the ring. A polarising match which in all fairness needed to end the way it did; the crowning of a WWE champion who can actually appear on programming each and every week. That saved it for me.

Winner and NEW champion: John Cena via Pinfall (Attitude Adjustment)

Match Rating: ***.5/5


Cena and Rock hug it out, just as I predicted as a firework barrage ends the show. Meh for Cena/Rock, yay for fireworks!

Overview: Wrestlemania 29 had the potential to be amazing but the utter predictability of the whole evening reduced my enjoyment of it. No Orton heel turn, no Ziggler cash-in and not even a whiff of a turn from Cena left marks and smarks alike feeling a little robbed. What did surprise however was the even feel of the card. Instead of last year's 18 second and 5 minute cameo matches, we saw a lot of matches which crossed the five minute mark, leaving the main event matches much less time than usual. Still, they largely impressed with Triple H/Lesnar and 'Taker/Punk being the best matches of the night. The show will likely split fans down the middle but we all know that WWE does polarising better than any other sports/entertainment organisation!

Match of the Night: Undertaker/Punk.
Move of the Night: Cena nearly makes the same mistake two years in a row.
Lowlight of the Night: Henry wins by falling on Ryback. Really?

PPV Rating: ****/5

What did you think of Wrestlemania? What was your favourite match or moment? How can WWE improve for Wrestlemania XXX? Leave your comments below! Thanks for reading and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @ThePunk2012.

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  1. Dime Store Saint's Avatar
    Review was pretty spot on as to how I saw it live at MetLife. I liked the opening match and the tag match. I was impressed by Jericho and Fandango despite the botch ending and Taker/Punk stole show just like Taker does year in,year out. The crowd was disappointing live considering how hot they were for Raw. I think the event was better than all what the IWC give credit for
  2. The Punk's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Dime Store Saint
    Review was pretty spot on as to how I saw it live at MetLife. I liked the opening match and the tag match. I was impressed by Jericho and Fandango despite the botch ending and Taker/Punk stole show just like Taker does year in,year out. The crowd was disappointing live considering how hot they were for Raw. I think the event was better than all what the IWC give credit for
    Cheers bud! Yeah loved some elements, hated others and felt a little in different about others. Wrestlemania will always divide, especially members of the IWC who get upset and throw tantrums when things don't go their way! I try to look at the events from both the perspective of a long time fan and someone who has never seen it before.
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