The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 29
Live from the New York market.
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL
Pre-Show match: Wade Barrett v. The Miz
Barrett pounds on him to start, but Miz gets a sunset flip for two. Barrett boots him down and pounds away in the corner, for two. Miz suddenly comes back with the double neckbreaker for two, and they trade finisher attempts before Barrett hits the bossman slam for two. The big elbow misses and Miz gets the figure-four, but Wade gets the ropes. Wasteland gets two. Miz goes back to the figure-four and wins the title at 4:05. Oh goodie. * Poor Barrett, his legacy as champion is losing every match and then dropping the title to the Miz on the Wrestlemania pre-show. (Yeah, Miz as a babyface mentored by Ric Flair. That was a real thing that happened.)
The Shield v. Big Show, Sheamus & Randy Orton
Sheamus slugs it out with Reigns and puts him down with a clothesline for two. Over to Orton, as Cole notes that Orton had a “Wrestlemania moment” when he won the WWE title at Wrestlemania 24. Given that Orton was already the champion and was defending it on that show, that was quite the moment. Like, c’mon, I can barely remember who the champions are these days and even I knew that one off the top of my head. Ambrose comes in and gets beat up by Show, but the Shield turns the tide and Reigns spears Show for two. We get some dull kicky-punchy offense in the heel corner, but Show is CREATING WRESTLEMANIA SEPARATION. Who’s gonna be building Wrestlemania momentum? Hot tag to Sheamus and he pounds on Rollins and Ambrose in turn with the forearms and goes up, only to get foiled by Reigns. Show breaks up the triple powerbomb with a spear, but Orton tags himself in, snubbing Show. Draping DDT for Ambrose and RKO for Rollins, but he walks into a spear and Ambrose pins him at 10:44. Way to go, hotshot. Show lays out his partners afterwards, which I’m not sure counts as another official turn on his lengthy list. Not much to this match, especially given the high standards set by the Shield in their other PPV outings, although they definitely looked like stars here. **1/4
Mark Henry v. Ryback
Slugfest to start and Ryback goes down first. Henry with a powerslam for two, but Ryback tries a suplex and that works out about as well as you’d expect. Henry puts him on the floor and does nothing with that, and then works on the back. Slowly. Back to the floor for Ryback, and again Henry doesn’t even follow. Back in, it’s another bearhug. Ryback as the plucky underdog babyface is the worst idea ever. Ryback fights back as the crowd starts booing the match, and puts Henry down with the clothesline. Shellshock looks to finish, but Henry falls on top of him and pins him at 8:00. That was weird, unless Henry is next in line for ADR or Cena or something. I mean, I’m as big of a Henry booster as the next guy these days, but Henry could have taken the loss here. ½* And then Ryback gives him the Shellshock afterwards anyway! Weird. (This was pretty much the end of Ryback’s serious push at the top. People were like “Oh, but Henry is getting one last hurrah because retirement, blah blah blah” but then he stuck around for another 4 years anyway.)
WWE tag titles: Kane & Daniel Bryan v. Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston
Quick Big Brother Canada update: On Sunday’s show, super-smark Peter was leading the house in a Bryan-themed “Yes” chant, complete with hand gestures. I wonder if he’s bummed at missing the show this year? He would have gone into the house just after Elimination Chamber so he would barely even know what was going on with the card anyway. (Peter is actually now involved in the show as an interviewer for the social media stuff, and there’s been a long-running gag every season where the talking moosehead is still in love with him and is waiting anxiously for him to return. BB Canada is pretty awesome.) Cute spot to start with Ziggler getting a kiss from AJ, and Bryan hitting a high kick in an attempt to repeat the 18 second spot. Sadly, it only gets two. Bryan fires away with kicks, but Big E comes in and slugs it out with Kane. Dolph with a dropkick for two. Langston pounds away, but Kane DDTs him and makes his own comeback on Ziggler. Sideslam gets two. Dolph comes back with a fameasser for two and goes up, but Kane slugs him on the way down and gets two. Bryan fights with Big E on the floor and Ziggler hits the Zig Zag on Kane for two, but walks into a chokeslam and Bryan finishes with the flying headbutt at 6:18. So I’m not even really sure what the point of this feud was, unless the heels win the belts on RAW tonight. ** (It was just some stuff that happened.)
Fandango v. Chris Jericho
Jericho attacks during Fandango’s opening dance number, and they do some scufflin’ on the mat. Jericho suplexes him onto the top rope, and a codebreaker puts Fandango onto the floor. Jericho follows with a nice bodypress to the floor. Back in, Jericho tosses him again, but walks into a high kick on the apron. Back in, Fandango gets two and goes to the chinlock, but Jericho comes back with a double axehandle and enzuigiri for two. Flying bodypress gets two. Fandango sends him into the post and follows with a flatliner, setting up the flying legdrop for two. If that’s gonna be his finish I kind of wish they didn’t have Jericho kick out of it already. Jericho goes for the Walls, but Fandango clotheslines him to escape and goes up again. This time it misses, of course, and they fight to the top, where Fandango misses it again. Jericho with the Lionsault and he goes for the Walls again, but Fandango reverses into a cradle for the pin at 9:18. Best match of the show thus far. *** (Jericho had a whole story on this match in his last book and it’s pretty mind-blowing how Vince’s mind works sometimes.)
P. Diddy, meet F. Forward.
World title: Alberto Del Rio v. Jack Swagger
It must be a big night because Uncle Zeb has a tie underneath his hunting jacket. Swagger attacks and they immediately fight to the floor, and back in where Swagger gets a cheapshot to take over. He sends Del Rio into the post. Short arm clothesline gets two. Del Rio escapes a chinlock and gets a crucifix for two, but Swagger boots him down again. Swagger Bomb gets two. He starts working the leg to set up his finisher, which at least puts him one up on the Miz, but Del Rio comes back with a backbreaker and low kick for two. Swagger reverses the armbar attempt into a powerslam for two and hooks the anklelock, but Del Rio escapes and makes the comeback. After 5 minutes? Backstabber gets two. This match has NO heat. Like, people are literally seen on camera getting up to take a shit and stuff. Surprised no one has Touted that yet. “Oh man, I’m here in the official Wrestlemania bathroom taking a huge greasy dump! Go John Cena!” So yeah, Swagger gets the anklelock and Del Rio gets the armbar and Swagger gets the anklelock again, but Del Rio escapes. Enzuigiri gets two and Del Rio goes after poor old Uncle Zeb (which is echoed by JBL), and that allows Swagger to attack from behind. Back in, Del Rio gets another armbar and Swagger taps at 10:31. And hopefully that’s the end of that chapter. **1/2 (Yes, because the next night on RAW had the epic Dolph Ziggler cash-in.)
CM Punk v. The Undertaker
Living Colour plays Punk down, although without Corey Glover’s dreads it’s not quite the same. Punk attacks and slugs away in the corner as the crowd FINALLY wakes up and finishes taking their collective shits and buying nachos or whatever. Taker fires back and they head to the floor, where Punk gets his ass whupped. Taker immediately preps the table and runs Punk into the post, and the crowd actually starts a dueling chant for Punk and Taker. Back in, Taker goes old school, but Punk counters him and stomps away in the corner. Punk also goes old school, which REALLY pisses off the crowd for some reason. I mean, this dude dumped a guy’s ASHES on someone and the people barely blinked, but Punk does a ropewalk and suddenly THAT’S what the fans boo? Punk stays on the arm, but Taker launches him into the corner and then misses a blind charge. Taker bails and Punk follows with a flying axehandle to the floor, and back in for two. Punk hits the chinlock, but Taker suplexes out of it, so Punk decides o go old school again. I don’t like his chances here. And indeed, Taker drops him on his nuts and tries the dive, but Heyman runs interference and Punk gets a flying clothesline for two. Macho Elbow gets two. GTS is countered into the chokeslam for two. They slug it out and Taker gets the corner clothesline and Snake Eyes, but Punk throws the high kick out of nowhere and gets two. Back to the floor and Taker tries a powerbomb through the table, but Punk escapes and kicks him down again. This leaves Taker on the table, and Punk being himself goes to the top and hits another Macho Elbow onto the table…which doesn’t break. THAT TABLE WILL NEVER WORK IN THIS TOWN AGAIN. That thing is gonna be jobbing to Zack Ryder on Monday, and maybe Antonio Cesaro on Main Event. Punk gets a 9 count out of the spot, but Taker makes it back into the ring. Punk goes for the pin, but Taker wraps him up in the choke, which Punk turns into the Anaconda Vice. Taker does the zombie situp to escape and Punk nearly craps his pants, which is an AWESOME visual. The situp and reaction, not the pants. Punk gets the GTS, but Taker no-sells it and the Tombstone gets two. Thy slug it out again in dramatic fashion and the ref gets bumped, but Punk’s running knee is caught and turned into the Last Ride. Punk gets the urn, however, and puts Taker down for two. Punk wants a GTS, but Taker fights out, into the tombstone, and that’s 21-0 at 22:00. Undertaker pulls another great match out of his ass. **** Clean win, but Punk got tons of offense and you thought he might pull it off a few times, and that’s all you need. Plus now Punk can milk this for another year and never shut up. (He certainly never did shut up about it, that’s for sure.)
HHH v. Brock Lesnar
I kind of wish Brock wore his toque for the whole match. Fight on the floor to start, where the crowd is just deathly silent. DON’T THESE FANS KNOW HOW IMPORTANT THIS MATCH IS?!? HHH tells us how important it is EVERY WEEK and we get multiple video packages explaining in great detail how important it is. Brock gets a belly to belly suplex out there and then finally the stupid table breaks via a Brock suplex. Brock is so happy that he howls like a gorilla (thus having the loudest crowd reaction of the match on his own) and then sends HHH into the wreckage again. Back in, Brock clotheslines him for two. Another suplex gets two. German suplex gets two. Another one gets two. Back to the floor we go and HHH is BUILDING WRESTLEMANIA MOMENTUM. I knew Michael Cole wouldn’t let me down. HHH takes over, but back in Brock gets yet another german suplex for two. Anyone else thinking “Royal Rumble 2003” here? He stops to beat on Shawn Michaels, the multiple time World champion who is reduced to HHH’s damsal in distress, and gives him an F5. HHH completely botches a Pedigree and goes for the trusty sledgehammer, but Brock gives him the F5 for two. Back to the floor again and Brock throws the stairs into the ring and runs them into HHH for two. This match could have used some editing down, to say the least. HHH valiantly comes back, but Brock catches him with the kimura, forcing HHH to go low to break. I just noticed that poor Shawn has to lay on the floor selling an F5 from five minutes ago like he’s a recovering heart transplant patient or something. HHH tries his own kimura and Shawn finally revives and gets superkick Paul Heyman. IT’s no holds barred, why don’t Shawn and HHH just beat the shit out of Brock? Brock finally fights him off and gently drops him on the stairs to break, but HHH applies it again, because of course HHH would book himself to be the world’s awesomest submission specialist when facing a UFC champion. Sledgehammer and a gentle Pedigree on the stairs finishes at 23:49. Pretty anticlimactic finish. But at least HHH’s career isn’t over! I think we all breathed a sigh of relief at that one. So yeah, this was…long. ** It somehow managed to be even more boring than their Summerslam match. The Cena match worked because Brock is a different animal than all the other WWE guys, and Cena went out there and let himself get destroyed in something that looked like a legit fight to play to Brock’s strength. HHH, on the other hand, seems to see Brock as a monster of the week for him to play underdog against, even though no one in the free world sees HHH as an underdog at anything. (Yeah, this feud nearly sunk Brock before breaking the streak saved him again.)
WWE title: The Rock v. John Cena
Slow feeling out process to start as they exchange shoulderblocks and Cena goes to the headlock. Belly to belly suplex gets two. Cena goes to the chinlock as I start to get the third-hour-of-RAW doldrums and ponder whether to shut it off and play God of War for a while to clear my head. Meh, there’s only 20 minutes left, I’ll tough it out. Rock with a sleeper and I have to grab caffeine and a snack. Cena suplexes out for two and I go back and add some more random thoughts to previous matches while he stomps away. Rock fights back, but Cena takes him down and tries the STF, then hits the shoulderblocks instead. Rock with the Sharpshooter, but Cena quickly escapes that and gets the five knuckle shuffle. Rock manages to dodge that devastating maneuver and kips up into a Rock Bottom, but Cena counters into the STF. Did I miss the part of the match building up to the big finisher sequence or something? It was just like, nothing, for 10 minutes and all of a sudden they’re hitting all their big moves in succession and selling nothing. So Cena gets the shuffle on a second try, but Rock gets the spinebuster, and Cena’s back to the STF as they try to create all this artificial drama. Rock powers out and gets the Rock Bottom for two. Cena with the FU for two. People’s Elbow gets two as this continues devolving into a video game demo. They slug it out and it’s another Rock Bottom for two. FU gets two. They slug it out and Cena gets a rollup for two, then hits his own Rock Bottom for two. I’m pretty sure they have other moves besides the Rock Bottom and FU. Cena once again tries the People’s Elbow, but suckers him in this time, and then Rock hits the Rock Bottom again anyway and gets two. They’re trying SOOOO hard t be cutesy-poo with this thing instead of trying to have a good match. So they keep trying to hit their finishers for the 20th time and Rock finally DDTs him, but takes too long setting up for the finish and Cena hits the FU to win the title back at 24:00. OK, you’ve been redeemed, now fuck off. (It was Cena’s WORST YEAR EVER, guys! Cut him some slack.) I kind of resented this match most of the way, because they were doing big spots that they hadn’t earned by setting them up with smaller spots earlier in the match. It was fine for a big stadium main event, but nothing I’d ever want to watch again. ***
Wasn’t a bad Wrestlemania (certainly much better than 27 was) but between the meaningless midcard filler and ENDLESS commercials for WWE’s socially relevant importance and how wonderful they are to sponsor Special Olympics and soldiers and bullying and K-Mart and video games and semi-retired 80s rock bands and movies, it got a bit tiresome to say the least. By Brock-HHH I was ready to throw in the towel, but I mostly enjoyed the show before that, so we’ll go thumbs in the middle this year. Really could’ve used a wacky Ron Simmons skit or something to break up the monotony and dour self-importance, though.