This weekend sees the WWE bring their biggest event of the year to New York’s MetLife Stadium, for the ‘granddaddy of them all’ WrestleMania 29! There’s a whole weekend of WWE themed events over in the big apple, which includes this years Hall of Fame, where the likes of Mick Foley, Trish Stratus and Bruno Sammartino are set to be inducted, before the action kicks-off in front of a packed out stadium for ‘The showcase of the immortals’.
The card is dominated by three massive WWE legends in three marquee matches, headlined by the night’s main event when The Rock puts his WWE Championship on the line against the company’s franchise player John Cena. However up and down the card, there are some intriguing matches, which could have massive consequences, so here’s my preview and prediction for (cue Vince McMahon voice) WRESSSTLEMANIA!!!!!!!
Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett vs The Miz
Poor old Miz, two years ago he was headlining WrestleMania 27 by beating John Cena for the WWE Championship, now he can’t even get on the main card. His face turn has been a slow burner, especially given as his character hasn’t changed a great deal, but the last few weeks have seen some improvement. Adding the figure-four leglock to his armory has helped, as forced as his angle with Ric Flair was, and I think he’ll still deliver on WWE’s biggest stage. As for Barrett, he seems to have lost some momentum during this title run, probably down to the way WWE books mid-card champions. There’s no way we are to believe Wade is a genuine threat if he keeps being fed as a jobber to main event players. The best outcome would be for Miz to grab back some credibility by defeating the champion and give Barrett the chance to move up the card. However, I don’t think it will end that way.
Prediction: Wade Barrett retains his belt.
Tons of Funk (Brodus Clay and Tensai) and The Funkadactyls (Cameron and Naomi) vs. Team Rhodes Scholar(Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow) and The Bella Twins (Brie and Nikki Bella)
The lack of a Divas match on the card, is made-up for with this rushed mixed tag-team match. It doesn’t say much that WWE is willing to ignore the actual Diva’s champion and go with two sets of ladies that have hardly been in a ring this year, but that’s the state of the women's division right now. As for the men, Tons of Funk seem to have become this generations Too Cool, and even though I think they’d be a brilliant monster heel tag team, are still very popular. Not enough for the W, here though as I think WWE has more to gain with a win for Sandow and Cody - if they can make their minds up whether they are staying a team long-term or not.
Prediction: Rhodes Scholars, and the Bellas to down the big men.
Fandango vs Chris Jerichio
Fair play to Johnny Curtis, despite being given a ridiculous gimmick by WWE in Fandango, it seems to be somehow working. It’s a nod to the larger-than-life characters we saw in the early nineties, and even with the over-the-top entrance and dancing Craig-Revell-Hall would frown upon his getting great heat with the crowd. Some of that is down to Y2J, who’s latest run has been a fun ride down the babyface route we haven’t seen for some time, and has really given the rub to his young opponent. I expect WWE will go all out with Fandango’s entrance, but ultimately this will be the stage for Jericho’s revenge.
Prediction: Fandango to come close but Jericho will bag a WrestleMania win.
Ryback vs Mark Henry
Vinnie Mac loves nothing more that a battle of the big men, when the irresistible force meets the immovable object (quote Gorilla Monsoon). The road to get to this bout was a little clouded, what with Ryback’s intertwining feud with The Shield but I think this match will be some spectacle. I’m actually a big fan of Ryback and the crowd seem to be still on his side thanks to the ‘Feed Me More’ chants, while Henry has picked-up where he left off since coming back from injury. The match rests on whether Big Hungry can lift Henry for the Shellshock and give Ryback his ‘WrestleMania’ moment. I for one can’t wait to see him try.
Prediction: Ryback wins, hopefully with an almighty Shellshock to the former Sexual Chocolate.
Tag Team Champions Team Hell No vs Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston
Another feud that has seemed quite rushed, what with WWE seemingly not sure on what to do with all four of these men. I expected the tag titles to be defended against an actual team like the Primetime Players or Rhodes Scholars, but I think the match does offer some interesting aspects. With her history with both men I expect AJ will play some part in the match, even if it’s just a little skip around her former flames. Then there’s the money in the bank shaped elephant in the room, that may come into play later in the night. I’m looking forward to seeing Big E in his first actual match outside of NXT, and I feel he may dominate but his team may fall short thanks to Ziggler’s intentions later that night.
Prediction: Team Hell No to just about escape with the belts.
The Shield vs Randy Orton, Sheamus and The Big Show
It’s time we saw the next step for The Shield, and I think it will come post WrestleMania and after they have disposed with the latest WWE All Star Team. This build has been all about the face team being able to ‘trust each other’, with Orton leading the charge as the peacemaker. Expect that to come crashing down in this match, and we see the heel-turn from Randy we’ve all being longing for - probably leading to a programme with Sheamus. There’s no need for a win for that trio here and the focus should be on continuing The Shield’s impressive WWE start.
Prediction: The Shield wins, Orton RKO’s everyone.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio vs Jack Swagger
This feud seemed to peak about two weeks into it, and since then it’s been playing on repeat ever since. For me, the whole ‘Jack Swagger’s America’ just feels a bit like it’s been shoved down our throats so much, that it’s the match I’m actually least interested in now. Alberto Del Rio face turn and Mexican hero bit has also been overdone so much that he’s back to where he was before this run. Roberto Rodriguez remains a shining light in this angle, and no doubt his ring announcing will draw a huge pop from the New York crowd. But Seb Colter and Swagger just don’t look like World Heavyweight material for me. Where as Dolph Ziggler does and holds that shiny blue case…
Prediction: Del Rio retains, Rodriguez gets revenge on Colter, but Dolph cashes in.
No holds barred
Triple H (with Shawn Michaels) vs Brock Lesner
When this rematch was first talked about as a possible Mania match I was far from overwhelmed with the idea. However, thanks to some first class story telling from Paul Heyman and some genuine red mist from Lesner my interest has peaked somewhat. Before I thought this was a shoe-in Triple H win, especially on this stage, but with the added retirement clause and with Brock re-signing with WWE it could be Trips' ‘last’ battle. It will easily be the night’s most physical battle, and expect a Sweet Chin Music from HBK along the way, but it makes more sense for the monster to prevail and give Hunter more time to become corporate Triple H.
Prediction: Lesner sends Hunter into semi-retirement.
The Undertaker vs CM Punk
Oh dear. What could have been eh? What would this feud have been like if it hadn’t been for the untimely death of Paul Bearer. I appreciate that this angle feels different and more personal than the usual Taker WrestleMania build-up over the streak. However, Punk’s cheap heat over Bearers passing has left a bitter taste in the mouth - especially in the closing stages of Raw’s go home show. If seeing Heyman dressed as Bearer wasn’t enough (and it was for me, freaky!), bathing in the ashes was too much, and would have even been too much in E’s Attitude era. Nevertheless I’m sure both men will put on a great show here, even with Taker’s in-ring limitations. It’s just a shame the road to get there was a little uncomfortable. One thing is for sure, though, there’s no way The Phenom is walking out of Mania 20 and 1.
Prediction: The streak continues, without a shadow of a doubt.
WWE Champion The Rock vs John Cena
Do it, do it, do it! Over the past couple of weeks seeds have been planted for a much-anticipated John Cena heel turn, now it’s time to see if WWE have the balls to pull the trigger on it. For what it’s worth I still don’t think it will happen, what we’ve seen is a darker and more focused Cena but that’s all we’re going to get. It would make sense for him to ‘crack’ as he got can’t get the job done over The Rock, and cheats to beat the People’s Champ, but it still feels like it might be a step too far. At least this rematch has been treated with a much better build compared to last years, one that The Rock has once again dominated. My highlight was his Lance Armstrong line, which to quote Michael Cole was vintage Rock. I’m still 99% sure that this years event will end with Cena holding the new title belt - whatever way he gets there - but how intriguing would the next night on Raw be if Cena once again failed to beat the Brahma Bull? Or is that just wishful thinking?
Prediction: The Champ is here once again.