Just like this year’s show of shows it was MetLife Stadium in New Jersey that played host to WrestleMania from the year 2013. Not all that long ago of course but I thought it be fun to look back at the show given it is indeed in the same venue as the 2019 equivalent. In summary I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase ‘a one match show’… well… this was absolutely a three match show. CM Punk trying to end Undertaker’s streak in the aftermath of the passing of Paul Bearer, Brock Lesnar trying to end the career of Triple H and in the main event for the WWE Championship we had John Cena challenging The Rock… TWICE in a lifetime… This show also marked the final time the World Heavyweight Championship (the big gold belt) would be defended on the grandest stage of all as a standalone title (given the belt closed 3 Manias it had a very sad final showing here). The show will also be remembered for the famous cancelled match scheduled to be between the team of Brodus Clay, Tensai (A-Train or nowadays Matt Bloom) and ‘The Funkadactyls’ (Cameron and Naomi) against Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow and Nikki and Brie Bella. It got the bump after Taker v Punk went long and they didn’t want to take any time from the other two matches, they did the match on Raw the next night and it went a couple of minutes and nobody cared. Harsh on them but nobody really cared at the time, not like they would nowadays but it does show you how far women in WWE have come. Overall it seemed the show got mixed reviews, the live crowd seemed to have fun but given the venue is an outside stadium it suffered from that old thing of the noise escaping and so nobody sounds over (yet the crowd were pretty loud during one match in particular). I would keep an eye out for that this year…
The Pre Show in the pre-WWE network era saw a panel of Jim Ross, Kofi Kingston (wonder what ever happened to him), Dusty Rhodes and Scott Stamford (him from ‘This week in WWE’ on the network) on a panel discussing the upcoming show. They also had Snooki (her from Jersey Shore and a former WrestleMania competitor… christ…) interview The Miz backstage. The single match on the pre show saw Miz tap out Wade Barrett to win the Intercontinental Championship. 12 months prior Miz retained the WWE Championship against John Cena and here he was on the pre show…
The opening video shown at the start of the show centered around Storm Sandy that had destroyed New York the prior October and the rebuilding process in the city, and how WrestleMania was almost a reward for their resilience. They then showed the New Jersey National Guard stood at the front of the entrance ramp with the Diddy-Dirty Money song ‘Coming Home’ played in the background. They then aired a more WWE themed WrestleMania themed video package and then the show got underway. Your commentators are Michael Cole, JBL and Jerry Lawler with Lillian Garcia and Justin Roberts sharing the ring announcing duties.
The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose) defeated Sheamus, Randy Orton & Big Show
Sheamus got a decent pop, Orton got a bigger one and Big Show got basically nothing. The Shield got a reaction coming out and were really put over as a big deal. This was a showcase match for The Shield in their WrestleMania debut, although all 6 guys got their stuff in. The Shield really got punished at times with Show ripping Dean’s vests off and chopping his bare chest and Sheamus then doing the same to Rollins and then Ambrose. The Shield at one stage had Sheamus set up for the triple Powerbomb but Big Show made the save by spearing everyone down. Orton got the blind tag from Show, hit a great draping DDT to Dean as Big Show watched on, he went to RKO Ambrose but instead caught Rollins who had done the springboard off the ropes with an RKO instead which looked really cool, but Orton then turned around into a Spear from Roman Reigns. Ambrose then got the cover as Big Show did nothing to stop his team from losing here. This was OK for the 10 minutes it went without being great, and it was the only result possible. After the match Show and Orton argued and Big Show gave the knockout punch to both Randy Orton and then to Sheamus as the crowd booed.
They showed a really good video promoting the main event. The story they told with it was how his loss to The Rock at last year’s show began what was a nightmare period for John Cena, and how he redeemed himself and got out the slump. This was honestly really great and was Cena being prime Cena, regardless of personal views I have to say it did a good job of putting Cena over as a huge fighting babyface, and they do love a comeback story in the US so it made a lot of sense and they did a great job with it. Still though as good as it was it was still odd that they showed a video for a match that was still hours away but still it was a great watch.
Mark Henry defeated Ryback
This was like the kind of match I’d imagine Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks would have on British TV in the 70s/80s (google each guy and make your own mind up). Henry clotheslined Ryback out the ring and he only got back in at 9, the crowd did not like this match and even commentary said “WWE universe showing their displeasure”… NO SHIT! Ryback made his comeback and lifted Henry up in a fireman’s carry position which did get a big pop, but then Ryback collapsed and Henry fell on top of him. And then Henry pinned him. Ryback got the heat back after by hitting a Spinebuster and then the Shellshock on Henry, why he couldn’t have just won the match I don’t know, especially odd given Henry lost in a match and after Ryback made the challenge to the WWE Champion the next night. A finish fitting of the match in the sense both really sucked.
3/4* (0.75 stars)
Jerry Lawler and JBL were playing with some action figures they were promoting (the WWE Power Slammers action figures set). This was really funny and if you can watch it you should. After the previous match it was something I needed.
The partnership between WWE and Special Olympics was announced. Lillian Garcia introduced the Team USA alongside Stephanie McMahon and the New Jersey Governor. You see, SOMETIMES WWE can do nice things.
WWE Tag Team Championship: Team Hell NO (Kane & Daniel Bryan) (C) defeated Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston with AJ Lee to retain
Daniel Bryan (a year away from his big moment) was sooooooooooo over! Big E overpowered Kane which was a sight to behold, Ziggler hit a clunky looking move on Bryan for a nearfall (JBL covered it up saying he didn’t get all of it), a few more nearfalls then saw Dolph hit a Zig Zag on Kane for a 2 count which the crowd popped for, then AJ Lee (who was a previous girlfriend of Daniel Bryan and they played on that too) slid in Ziggler’s Money in the Bank briefcase but he was unable to use it and he missed Kane and then got a big boot. Kane hit a Chokeslam, tagged in Bryan who hit a flying headbutt and ,with Big E down, they were able to get the win. This was really good but was criminally too short (just over 6 minutes), especially given how over everyone involved was particularly Bryan of course. There lots of YES chants too at the end.
Fandango defeated Chris Jericho
There lots of female dancers as part of Fandango’s entrance (it was his debut). They played a video montage of Jericho saying Fandango’s name wrong in many different ways and it was hilarious. Jericho got a big pop coming out. Match began with Fandango taking a beating and bumping like crazy, this carried on until Fandango got a brief comeback and even hit a leg drop off the top rope which got a nearfall that people popped for. Jericho got the wall of Jericho in but Fandango kicked out of it, Fandango went for the big leg drop again but Jericho moved, he went for the Lionsault but Fandango got his knees up, this led to the Walls of Jericho again but Fandango rolled it over (they explained Jericho hurt his knee off the Lionsault hence Fandango was able to counter) for the 1, 2, 3! FANDANGO WINS AND NOBODY COULD BELIEVE IT! It was put over as one of the biggest upsets in WrestleMania history, but the live crowd didn’t seem to react much to it as I think they really liked Jericho.
We recapped the match from the pre show were Miz beat Wade Barrett for the IC title.
They then showed a video on The Rock where fans of his were spliced in saying his catchphrase. It was a bit cringey but was what it was.
There was a video of past WrestleMania’s on the arena screens that led into a P Diddy mini-concert. This really sucked.
To follow that excitement… we had…
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio (C) with Ricardo Rodriguez defeated Jack Swagger with Zeb Colter to retain
I was absolutely blown away by Zeb Colter’s anti-foreigner gimmick. He cut a promo and they played a video that was pretty much him being a racist. I could not believe this was a thing only SIX years ago. Colter and Swagger actually first appeared in the ring as the video had just finished playing, so the guy challenging for the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP AT WRESTLEMANIA got a jobber entrance. Extraordinary. Del Rio came out with his manager who was doing an injury angle. Match was fine, but to be honest I’m not a fan of anyone in this match whatsoever so I found it a bit of a slog. In-ring it was OK but the crowd didn’t care much, and there were chants for Ziggler (MITB holder at the time who’d cash in on Del Rio the next night on Raw in fact). Crowd were happy when Del Rio won with the Cross Armbreaker submission. Ricardo Rodriguez seemed the most over guy with the crowd involved here so that was very telling to me.
The Undertaker defeated CM Punk with Paul Heyman
The pre-match video package for this was excellent. It centered around the recent passing of Taker’s longtime former manager Paul Bearer and the disrespect shown towards Taker and Bearer by Punk and Heyman. Punk said he’d end the streak. The band Living Colour played Punk’s music live, they were introduced as ‘New York’s own’ which I found odd as Punk is really the heel and you had a hometown group play him out who were obviously going to get cheered. Not that Punk was ever getting booed in front of this crowd anyway. Taker’s entrance took a typically long time, Punk played with The Urn during it and Heyman’s acting here too was great. I didn’t take too many notes on this match as I was so engrossed by it, so I’ll write you exactly what I put in my notes:
“HALLELUJAH! A GOOD MANIA 29 MATCH! THIS WAS FUCKING GREAT! SO MUCH FUN TO WATCH! CM PUNK DESERVES A GIANT MEDAL FOR GETTING THIS MATCH OUT OF 2013 TAKER!!!”
An excellently told story. Lots of nearfalls for both. Crowd were in to absolutely everything both guys did all match, and in the end Taker got his win and the urn back. This might have been (in hindsight) Taker’s last great hurrah, as aside from the Lesnar Summerslam match in 2015 I can’t think of any Taker matches that were of this standard that have taken place since.
We got ANOTHER Cena vs Rock video… COME ON NOW!?!? …
Triple H with Shawn Michaels defeated Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman in a No Holds Barred Match (if Triple H lost he’d have to retire)
A great video package was followed by a typically grand WrestleMania entrance for The Game. In fact during it he was accidentally sprayed with dry ice during it which given the images he shared after the match I presume was excruciatingly painful. This match is also notable to the internet for being the match where Lesnar did his famous scream which has now become a meme (you’ll know the one I mean when you see it). This was more of a long brawl than a wrestling match but that was to be expected. The crowd were NOT happy at all when Lesnar hit and then F5’d Shawn Michaels. Lesnar also kicked out of a Pedigree, and then Triple H also kicked out of an F5. Lesnar locked in the Kimura (which he had previously utilized in the build to the match breaking HHH’s arm twice and also that of HBK), the crowd chanted ‘break his arm’ but Triple H was able to escape with a Spinebuster. Triple H then hit a low blow to Lesnar as HBK just looked on chilling which was funny. Triple H then put the Kimura on Brock as Michaels hit the superkick to Heyman to stop him breaking it up which got a giant pop. Lesnar slammed Triple H down onto the steel steps that were in the ring to try and break the hold but HHH kept it locked in. This happened 3 times in a row, only the third time HHH appeared to move his arm during it and I THINK the idea was that instead of Lesnar slamming him down Triple H would use the impact but turn it to his favour and lock his arm round Brock’s neck for a DDT. Commentary were kind of late to call this and pint out what it was so I;m not sure they followed what was happening there as it happened. Triple H then smashed Lesnar with a sledgehammer and he then roared to a huge pop. He then hit the Pedigree on the steps for the win and the finish got a big reaction. This match was fine but seemed to be paced really slowly, I think intentionally for impact but it wasn’t one you could really get into as a wrestling match. If you want stiff and brutal stuff this was for you though. It wasn’t bad too considering Lesnar was legitimately KNOCKED OUT in the very early stages of the match and had to be talked through the following few minutes by Hunter. So credit to them for putting even something this good with that in mind. Anyone was going to struggle following Taker v Punk but these two did fine and HBK helped a lot with that too, didn’t help that the whole world knew Triple H was about to retire.
They recapped the Hall of Fame class and ceremony of the year. Considering the ceremony was held at Madison Square Garden which is widely considered the spiritual home of WWE it was an incredible class, probably the most star-studded they’ve ever had. Howard Finkel did the introductions for; Mick Foley (big pop), Booker T (big pop), Trish Stratus (pop), Bob Backlund (kind of got a pop), Donald Trump (roundly booed, well done MetLife) and headliner Bruno Sammartino (who of course got a huge round of applause and a big pop from the crowd).
They did an advert saying that WrestleMania the next year would be in New Orleans.
They then announced the attendance for the show, which as always with WWE was 10000000000% factual.
John Cena defeated The Rock (C) to win the WWE Championship
Cena was booed when he came out. Rock was cheered loudly maybe the most of anyone on the show. If you saw their first match this will make more sense, but it was almost the same only not as good. It had all the big spots and moments you’d expect but half the crowd heat of their previous match. I’d presume that was because it wasn’t in Rock’s hometown like the previous year’s and everyone knew Cena was winning in the end. The Rock actually DURING THE MATCH tore his hip and abdominal muscles as well as sustaining a hernia, so he didn’t have the best of showings presumably as a result (he flew out for surgery the next day and missed Raw as a result). This actually put back filming of Rock’s movie Hercules. It is probably why we haven’t seen Rock in a proper match since given his insurance costs raised up by movie companies after this. Rock was apparently planned to face BROCK LESNAR the next year so think about how different WWE history could have been! Anyway in this match the crowd loved The Rock but more out of hope than actually thinking he’ll win I think, as they fell flat at every Cena finisher hit. And boy oh boy did we have a gazillion false finishes in this match! But to be fair the crowd were into almost everyone towards the end, but in the end of course they tried to play off the finish of their fist match to end this one. The year prior it was Cena’s over-confidence that cost him, but this year Rock instead of trying to pin Cena who was down after a DDT chose to go for another Rock Bottom, and Cena countered this into another AA and then got the win. The Cena fans sounded happy but most people in the front few rows just stood there, the camera panned to the crowd and you could see people walking out (good one Kevin Dunn), there was a mixed response to Cena and Rock talking then embracing in the ring, Rock held Cena’s arm aloft at the top of the entrance ramp to close the show. People in the stadium didn’t seem to like this too much.
Well it was billed as a 3 match show and it ended up being a 1 match show. Everything else was very by-the-book and not many surprises at all. Fandango winning was a mild shock but too far down the card for anyone to care about. In looking to this years show it should be noted that the crowd sounded… well put it this way my friend Stefan asked me about what I thought of the crowd and how they sounded during the show? I thought about it and best I came up with is that it sounded like the crowd were in a stadium.. without a roof… which of course they were but the point is the sound in a stadium goes up and into the air, whereas in an indoor arena the sounds has a roof to bounce off so the noise stays in the arena and the crowd sound louder. So don’t be worried if the crowd sound quiet during Mania 35, it should be noted you could definitely hear them though during Punk v Taker so maybe it’s just they weren’t that in to much else on the show. I wouldn’t blame them too much to be honest. Notably this was then the highest grossing of all time so credit to them for that. Overall it seemed a below par Mania without being a bad PPV (Henry v Ryback aside), and maybe it was a sign of the lack of roster depth at the time but there wasn’t anything outside the final 3 matches that screamed Mania-worthy to me.