WWE WrestleMania 29 Preview

So it’s WrestleMania weekend, and I’m…strangely unhyped. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m gonna be watching it with my mates and the social side of it is gonna be really cool, but as for the show itself? Well, there’s not that much that I’m excited about this year. Let’s see if we can figure out what’s gone wrong, and why I’m not as excited as a kid at Christmas…

wwe-wrestlemania-29-poster

Okay, so I want to get excited about this year’s Mania. It’s supposed to be the biggest show of the year, right? But with people like Antonio Cesaro, Kaitlyn, even the Prime Time Players being snubbed after all their hard work in favour of letting Diddy do…whatever the hell it is Diddy does these days, I’m not holding out much hope.

Sure we’ve got The Shield making their Mania debut, Punk challenging the streak, and Brock Lesnar (hopefully) mauling Triple H, but everything else just seems…underwhelming? Let’s take a closer look, and maybe that will help ramp up the enthusiasm a bit.

Intercontinental Championship: Pre-Show Exclusive:
Wade Barrett (c) vs. The Miz

Oh dear, Wade Barrett’s really done nothing with the Intercontinental Title, has he? I don’t know what the problem is, but the dude seems lost ever since he returned from his injury. I’m not entirely sure how they can start to rebuild his momentum, but it’s pretty obvious putting the IC Title on him hasn’t done the job.

And from a heel I have no strong feeling about to a face I have no strong feeling about. The Miz. I was so hopeful for Miz’s face turn last year. Go read my Survivor Series preview, I was totally pulling for it to essentially be Miz’s show for the evening. Roll on 6 months and boy have I ever changed my mind. Miz just doesn’t evoke any emotion in me at all. I don’t even hate him, I have the emotional equivalent of the colour beige towards Miz at the moment, and there’s not much that can be done to change that viewpoint. Especially not just shoving the Intercontinental strap on him.

So here we stand in a quandary. We have an IC champ I don’t want to see retain going up against a challenger I don’t want to see win. The only saving grace in this lose/lose situation is that I don’t have to watch it, it’s only the pre-show!

I know it sucks that the IC title isn’t featuring on the main show (imagine how p*ssed Cesaro is, he hasn’t even gotten a look in, period), but that’s not gonna be rectified until firstly, we have a new champion, and secondly, WWE realise they need to actually book mid-card feuds, not just randomly throw guys together in a match for fairly tenuous reasons.

It’s a sentence you’re gonna read lot in this article, but the build for this match has been woefully inadequate. So inadequate, in fact, that I genuinely couldn’t care less about who walks out with the title.

Who I want to win: There are no winners in the match, so let’s say Miz just because I need to pick someone.

Who I think will win: Probably Miz. And I will continue to not give a damn. WWE needs to sort out it’s midcard. And sharpish.

8-Person Mixed Tag Match:
Brodus Clay, Tensai, & The Funkadactyls vs. Team Rhodes Scholars & The Bella Twins

So instead of a Divas title match, or Rhodes Scholars getting a crack at the tag titles, we get this?! And people wonder why we despair at the state of the WWE these days.

So it’s pretty obvious that this is gonna be the filler match for just before the main event. 90% of you folks probably aren’t even gonna bother watching this match, are you? You’ll all be getting snacks, or emptying your bladders, or I dunno, tweeting to whatever ridiculous hashtag they give out on Sunday night. And that’s your prerogative as a fan. It’s just a crying shame because Cody and Sandow deserve so much more.

Team Rhodes Scholars have been consistently entertaining for months now, and still they get relegated to doing the job for all and sundry instead of getting the push towards the titles they are so obviously ready for. It’s a little disheartening when you see folks as talented and comfortable with their character as Sandow going to waste in nothing matches, even though it’s supposed to be the biggest show of the year.

If anything the way the show has been structured just goes to show that WWE currently have no real long-term plan for the future. They’re still depending on their “legends” and returnees to spike the buyrate instead of trying to develop the talent they’ve already got. Look at your main draws, everyone bar Punk and Cena are either part-time or on their way out within the next 12-18 months. How late do WWE want to leave it before they start to look at creating some stars for the next generation?

I just hope when they do get round to it that Damien Sandow is high up on their list of people to push.

Who I want to win: Rhodes Scholars & Bellas. As I say Cody & Damien have been brilliant for such a long time now, they deserve a better standing than they have right now.

Who I think will win: Team Funk. And then they’ll dance. Great.

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango

So I’ll just come right out and admit it. I like Johnny Curtis, and I don’t actually mind this Fandango gimmick. I liked Johnny Curtis on NXT as a crazy stalker, and I’m pretty much certain that he’ll be able to pull off this gimmick given time. Have you watched the video of him teaching folks how to pronounce his name and getting oiled up on Opie and Anthony? This dude has a handle on his gimmick and is only just getting started.

And how about Jericho seemingly making the decision that he’s gonna spend this last run putting the new guys over. DID YOU HEAR THAT WWE?! A veteran the calibre of Jericho only being concerned about getting the next wave of talent over instead of trying to be protective of his “spot”. Now that is someone who understands that you need to start preparing for the future, and I applaud him for it. Jericho may be fighting a losing battle in trying to get WWE ready for when all their current starts have gone, but damn it he’s trying and that’s good enough for me.

I’m actually holding out a bit of hope for this one. We already know that Johnny Curtis is perfectly adequate in the ring, so with Jericho no doubt looking to turn up with his working boots on, this could actually be a cracking little match. I’m not saying to expect match of the night, but I am expecting a lot of people to be pleasantly surprised when this one’s said and done.

Who I want to win: Say it with me folk (and don’t forget to let the “A”s breathe), FAAAAAAAHN…DAAAAAAAAAHN…GOOOOOOOOO!!

Who I think will win: Fandango, after being made to look fantastic by Jericho (and hopefully being able to make himself look good too).

WWE Tag Team Championship:
Team Hell No (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E. Langston

Where in the hell did this match come from? What did Ziggler and Big E do up until 3 weeks ago to even suggest they were a tag team, let alone contenders for a title shot?! Langston hasn’t even wrestled a proper match on a main show yet?!

Seriously, the fact this is Biggie and Ziggie (that’s what some folks are calling them now) in the title match and not a team like the PTP, or NAO, or Rhodes Scholars (or as I mentioned in a previous article, why not all 4?) makes me despair for my beloved Tag division.

The funny thing is it actually feels like the time is about right for Kane and Bryan to drop the straps, I think it’s time for Bryan to strike out in singles competition again (I’d put him straight in as IC champ for a good lengthy run). I just don’t want them to drop the belts to their WrestleMania opponents. There’s better teams to be holding the tag straps, and even if they win, we know Dolph is going to be moving on to cashing in his briefcase sooner rather than later, so once again the tag titles would get buried and forgotten about.

I know Triple H wanted to revitalise the tag team scene in WWE, but using this match to showcase the division at the largest wrestling show of the year probably isn’t the best way to go about it.

Who I want to win: Hell No, because Dolph has bigger fish to fry.

Who I think will win: Most likely Ziggler and Langston, as I can’t see them getting Big E. to do the job on his “debut” and Ziggler needs to start being made to look like a serious contender instead of a jobbing bump monkey.

6-Man Tag:
The Shield vs. Big Show, Sheamus, & Randy Orton

The Shield. The one saving grace, and in my mind the success story so far for 2013. Not only have they been fascinating to watch in the way they work as a perfect 3 man unit, they’ve also given me some faith that somewhere in Titan Towers is some wonderful person who is responsible for The Shield, and this person understands how to logically book a new set of characters to look strong with a nice slow steady push. I can’t say enough good things about Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns, and I’m hoping this last few months are only the start of much bigger things to come.

Incidentally, this match is my pick for the dark horse MOTN contender. And why not? The Shield have had strong showings in their last few matches, and stole the show back at TLC. With the absence of a main spectacle match like the money in the bank, this is the match I’m expecting to have the “annual WrestleMania crazy bump” moment, probably from Seth Rollins, and I’m fully expecting The Shield to be the one group to come out of WrestleMania looking like a million bucks.

And how about the other team? So Big Show’s turned again, but I guess that was a necessity given WWE apparently wanting to keep Ryback and The Shield apart and both looking strong after Mania. It’s a bit abrupt, and the way they took Ryback out of the match was pretty poorly executed, but I’ll happily take Big Show because that means there’s a very real possibility of him receiving the Hammer of Justice (that’s the Triple Powerbomb to those who don’t listen to the TWO Podcast) for a BIG WrestleMania moment.

The big question in this match (other than “How awesome are The Shield?) is whether Randy Orton is gonna go “darkside” at some point during the evening. Dunno how you folks feel, but I’m all for it. Bring back Intermittent Explosive Disorder Randy Orton and RKOs for everyone! It’s pretty blatant that it’s what Orton wants to do, they’ve switched Big Show back to face, Sheamus is perfectly capable of stepping in to hold the title should Del Rio fail to ignite the crowds, I don’t see why they couldn’t let Orton switch? And what better time to do it than WrestleMania?

Who I want to win: The Shield. BELIEVE IN THE SHIELD!!

Who I think will win: The Shield. Because I like to think that WWE believe in The Shield too.

Ryback vs. Mark Henry

Anyone see Mark Henry getting interviewed by Rosenberg at the WrestleMania Press Conference? I recommend checking it out, if only to see him talking about what happens to fans who lay hands on him.

I’m actually interested in seeing this match now, pretty much purely because I want to see if Ryback can pick Mark up for the ShellShock. If he can then it’ll be Ryback’s WrestleMania moment. If he can’t…well, you’ve just botched your finisher on the biggest show of the year, and that’s not good.

To be honest there’s not a lot to say about this match. Hopefully the crowd won’t get too bored otherwise we could get a fair few “Goldberg” chants, but I’m hoping it won’t come to that. I can’t see it being a long match, and it’s certainly not gonna be a technical masterclass, but it should just be two big strong guys dropping bombs on each other. Although truth be told, we all just know this is just a match to further Ryback’s push to the top of the card, and the result has got to be a foregone conclusion.

Who I want to win: Ryback, purely to see if he can hit his finisher on a guy like Mark Henry.

Who I think will win: Ryback. He’s being pushed in a big way, and this is his next stepping stone.

World Heavyweight Championship:
Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Jack Swagger

I’m not quite sure what to make of the build to this match. I’m still not quite invested in Del Rio as champion, but I think that may be because the whole “Born in Mexico, but made in America” thing kinda grates on me a little. It just seems really…forced, which I know sounds ridiculous when talking about scripted promos and predetermined match outcomes, but the whole face turn of Del Rio seems just…slightly off to me? I can’t even exactly put my finger on what it is, it just doesn’t sit right with me, and I don’t fee the urge to cheer for Del Rio.

For what it’s worth, Jack Swagger hasn’t exactly set me on fire since Elimination Chamber either. If it wasn’t for Zeb Colter being absolutely outstanding, then this angle may not have even got this far. Personally I’m hoping that Zeb puts together some kind of faction after Mania, most likely lead by Swagger as the champion (Zeb Colter’s Real Americans? Anyone?).

I know I’ve said this a lot, but I’m not really bothered about this match. I have no strong feelings either way for either of these guys, so I’m just gonna cut my losses here and skip to the predictions. Oh, and as a bonus I’m gonna predict match opening the show.

Who I want to win: Dunno? Maybe it’s worth keeping the title on Del Rio for at least another month to see if he can connect with the fans a little more?

Who I think will win: Most likely Swagger. Welcome to Jack Swagger’s America everyone. Meh.

CM Punk vs. The Undertaker

Now this is one I’m excited about, even though it’s also a foregone conclusion as to how this match is ending. Before we lost the legend that was Paul Bearer, I’d have argued til the cows come home that Punk could potentially have ended the streak, but with the situation being as it is then I can only see this match ending with an Undertaker win, and him finally getting to pay tribute to Paul, uninterrupted.

There’s been a lot of talk about what WWE would have done had they not had the death of Paul Bearer to work into their story leading up to Mania, but I’m pretty confident they may well of gone with a similar story involving the urn, maybe with Punk taking it from Bearer himself at old school Raw back in January. I don’t know, the whole thing with Punk emptying the urn over Taker on the go-home Raw seems like it may be something that had been planned for a while?

My main concern for the match itself is the condition of the Undertaker. Is he gonna be able to go for 15-20 minutes, considering he hasn’t worked a televised match since last year’s WrestleMania. It looks like the brunt of the legwork for the match will have to be done by Punk, but that’s not to say it’s going to be at all detrimental to the match, and I’m expecting this to be the best of the “main event” matches of the evening. Hopefully I’m not setting my expectations too high?

Who I want to win: Even though I know for pretty much fact that he won’t, I’m still gonna say Punk. Once a punk mark, always a Punk mark!

Who I think will win: Undertaker, and then we should get a fitting tribute to Paul Bearer at the end, which will probably bring up a lump in my throat.

Triple H’s Career on the Line: No Holds Barred:
Triple H (w/ Shawn Michaels) vs. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman)

So Triple H comes out of what was essentially retirement to wrestle in a retirement match? GENIUS!

Being serious though, there is no way Triple H should be going over Brock here. That’s not to say it isn’t going to happen, but if I were booking this then I’d have Trips retire here and go off and concentrate on reversing the last decade of Vince McMahon slowly spiralling into madness.

It’s not just me is it? It makes sense that Brock should get the win here, doesn’t it? He’s signed a contract extension, so it makes sense (now we know he’s not just gonna take the money and run) to start portraying Brock like the badass he is. No more of that rubbish like his loss against Cena, no egocentric Triple H booking escapades, just Brock Lesnar tearing people apart, like only Brock Lesnar can. It really is that simple. Let Brock be Brock.

Rumours abound that Stephanie may well put in an appearance during this match too. Part of me kind of hopes that all these folks are there to support Triple H, but he loses anyway. Is that mean?

Who I want to win: Brock Lesnar. All day everyday.

Who I think will win: I think Brock may well retire Trippers here. I don’t even know why, I just have this feeling in my gut that it could well happen. What’s left for Triple H to do now? May as well give Brock the rub of retiring The Game?

WWE Championship:
The Rock (c) vs. John Cena

So here we are, the main event of this year’s WrestleMania, and I’m pretty certain by this point I’ll be beyond caring and just wanting to go to bed. I’ve really, REALLY not enjoyed any of this ongoing feud between Cena and Rock, and I’m already down on the Rock because his lack of appearances in the lead up to this match. Is it too much to ask that your champion turns up on the show more than once in a blue moon?

I’ll give credit to Cena that he’s tried to uphold his end of the deal, but it’s hard to build a main event for your biggest show of the year when half of that main event just isn’t there. Add to that my general lack of enthusiasm for Rock’s in-ring work since his return, and I’m pretty sure this main event is onto a loser right from the get go as far as I’m concerned. I know there’s plenty of people out there who will enjoy the match, and more power to them, but this whole setup just really isn’t my cup of tea.

To be honest I’d much rather we got the belt back off The Rock now he’s done advertising his movies, and we move onto getting someone built up to challenge Cena.

Who I want to win: Surprisingly, John Cena. But only on the provision that we don’t get a return to “Superman” Cena destroying all comers for the next God knows how long.

Who I think will win: Cena. It’s got to be hasn’t it? And he’ll smile and salute, the kids will cheer, everyone over the age of 13 who doesn’t have lady parts will boo, and I’ll probably die just a little inside.

So that’s it. I don’t want to sound like the harbinger of doom, but it doesn’t look like there’s that much to look forward to on paper. Ah well, once we get Mania out the way we can look forward to the next set of NXT alumni coming through. Two words for you all to look out for in the next 12 months. BRAY WYATT. Expect big things from that man.

And if you’re looking for ways to kill time until the event starts, why not check out some more of the fine articles here on Wrestling101, or join Matt Denton, The Fury, Magic, Maxximus and whoever else chooses to call in on the WrestleMania edition of the TWO Podcast.

Enjoy the show folks, and I’ll catch you next time!

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