Thursday, March 21, 2024

Ramblemania Rewind 29 - WWE Wrestlemania NY/NJ (2013)

Date: April 7th, 2013
Venue: MetLife Stadium - East Rutherford, New Jersey
Attendance: 74,300

When I wrote the original Ramblemania post for this show a couple days after its conclusion, the first word I wrote - and pretty much the word I used to describe Wrestlemania 29 as a whole - was "underwhelming." And of all the shows that I would expect to label as underwhelming, this was not it.

Wrestlemania 29 has a number of marquee matches going for it. It featured The Rock defending his WWE Championship (that he won from CM Punk at the Royal Rumble - a decision that proved to be somewhat controversial) against John Cena in what is jokingly billed as "Twice In A Lifetime." It also featured CM Punk attempting to snap the Undertaker's long-running Wrestlemania win streak (spoiler: he fails), and short-haired HHH attempting to get his win back from Brock Lesnar after the pasting he got at Summerslam the year prior, promising to retire if he didn't get the job done... even though he was kinda, sorta retired by this point by virtue of the fact that he cut his hair to be more presentable in the office... or something.

So I thought this show was underwhelming when I first watched it back in 2013... but that was eleven years ago. What's the verdict on this show now? Is it a better show than I gave it credit? Does it even hold up?

Well... only one way to find out, I guess...

The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reign) defeated Sheamus, Randy Orton, and Big Show. The Shield, of course, first made their debut a few months prior and were being pushed as a new threat in the WWE landscape. To my complete and utter amazement, the Shield ended up being on of those things that WWE had somehow managed to not completely fuck up, as they could have been booked to lose to the three veteran Superstars. But no, Randy got cocky, tagged himself in, got speared and pinned for his troubles. And then Big Show would punch out his partners in frustration. The match wasn't anything special, but it did do its job of making the Shield feel like a big deal. As it should.

Mark Henry defeated Ryback by way of Ryback trying to hoist Henry up to deliver what I presume would be his finish, but he ends up just collapsing and Henry falls on top of him for the pinfall win. That was a weird finish and on top of that, the match was a bit dull. You'd figure two big fuckers beating the fuck out of each other would be a fun thing to watch, but we didn't even get that much here. Thankfully, this wasn't dull enough to put me to sleep, but it wasn't quite the fun hoss fight that I was hoping for. There was no meat slapping to be found here.

Speaking of slapping meat, Tag-Team Champions Kane and Daniel Bryan Danielson (I STILL refuse to call them Team Hell No) defeated Mr. Money In The Bank 2012 Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston to retain their tag-team titles... and yes, that is the same Big E of New Day fame. Fairly short match, nothing of note happened. Kane and Bryan would eventually drop the belts to the Shield at some point because we gotta make those guys really, REALLY strong. Honestly, I don't see why they couldn't have done that here, but that's just me.

Fandango, in his debut, defeated Chris Jericho in a match that's only notable because people were singing his entrance song (which is a pretty catchy medley, I'll admit that much). This was Jericho getting in most of the offense before Fandango won with a fluke roll-up. The match was nothing special, but the "memes" were everything... at least, they were until WWE got in on the act and made the whole thing lame. Just as well, I suppose.

World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio defeated Jack Swagger to retain the title. This was when Jack Swagger was paired up with Zeb Coulter (a.k.a. Dirty Dutch Mantell playing a racist American) and was feuding with all the foreigners or something... and this was the quick blow-off. It's already a bad scene when the challenger for your World title is already in the ring after your hype package concludes. Anyway, the match itself... yeah, this was a thing that happened where nothing of note happened and eventually Del Rio emerged victorious. And it was at this point where I wondered why Dolph didn't cash in his briefcase to beat Del Rio for the title.

Turns out Dolph would do just that... the next night on RAW.

Okay, then... better late than never, I suppose.

The Undertaker defeated CM Punk to extend his streak to 21-0. Since this is Wrestlemania, CM Punk got Living Color playing his song live and in living color (pun intended), which probably meant that he was losing the match... and sure enough, he did. Anyway, I liked this match. It's the first time in a while where I thought Taker might potentially lose on this night and he certainly held up his end of the bargain against a determined Punk, who was absolutely going to make the most of this match that was billed as - but certainly was NOT - the main event. While I thought this match was good back then, I actually think it's a genuinely great match and probably the best match on the entire show if I'm being honest. Both guys came off great. And then both guys fucked off for a bit.

Triple H defeated Brock Lesnar in a No-Holds-Barred match that went on for way too fucking long and wasn't quite as much of a wild encounter as it should have been. Sure, this was before Brock fell into that pattern of "Suplex City, Bitch" that would define the rest of his WWE run and that can be fun to watch sometimes, but Brock also had a hell of a match with Cena a year earlier and that was also a No Holds Barred match. We need wild, crazy Brock to go wild and crazy before HHH overcomes the beast and subdues him for the win... and the match is about 10-15 minutes tops. Anything above that is just superfluous padding for the sake of sating one's ego... but yeah, sure, Hunter got his win back. Now he can now avoid retirement so that he can go back to retirement... why did they even bother with that stipulation? 

John Cena defeated WWE Champion The Rock to win the title... this match was the drizzling shits. Rock looked like shit, most of the match was nothing but finisher spams and big spots after big spots, and the crowd simply didn't give a fuck. Probably because they knew that Cena was getting his win back and he'd conclude this whole "WORST YEAR EVER" horseshit that had been part of the build-up... and indeed when he won, the crowd came alive and booed the shit out of him. Sadly, the idea of the crowd shitting on a Wrestlemania main event would eventually become the norm rather than the exception... but that wouldn't happen until two years later, so for now, we're okay.

Yeah, on second viewing, "underwhelming" is the correct word to describe Wrestlemania 29. The only match that I really enjoyed was Punk vs. Taker and everything else was just dull or boring. I wouldn't necessarily call it a bad show because - other than the one P. Diddy live act that I skipped - there wasn't anything that was really bad or awful. It's just a largely dull show with one really good thing going for it... and that one thing can probably be found on the Youtube somewhere, so.. yeah... better luck next time, kid.

Upon further reflection, it's interesting to me that the 2011-2012 period of WWE was about experimenting with new things. Yes, despite his "worst year ever" or whatever, John Cena was still main eventing shows in matches that should NOT be main eventing a taping for WWE Velocity, much less a PPV. But you had CM Punk's year-plus-long reign as WWE Champion and he was having great matches with every one, his run was not quite that greatness that everyone says it is, but he did have memorable moments, the numbers were pretty good, and then once 2013 rolls around, we're going to dump all of that in favor of the familiar. Brock Lesnar, fresh from his UFC run, explodes onto the scene in his first night back against John Cena, only to lose unceremoniously to McSon-In-Law, the main event is a repeat of last year's main event and nowhere near as good, and once again, John Cena reigns supreme as WWE Champion. It just goes to show... the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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