As we continue down the road to the biggest show of the year, I’ve been going through each event to prepare for the big day.
Instead of doing recaps for every WrestleMania (other people here do that much better), I’ve been putting together a Top Ten list of WrestleMania matches and have been updating it after each show.
WrestleMania NY/NJ – April 7, 2013
After building the Rock-Cena WrestleMania XXVIII match as the “First Time, Last Time” encounter between the two, the main event rematch this year was inevitable, wasn’t it? The two-year build was mostly one-sided, since Cena was the only one on TV week-in and week-out. And while Rock is always entertaining and popular when he comes back, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of Rock-Cena II, as I had other things I would have rather seen at this show. More on that below.
When WWE announced that WrestleMania would be at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ for the 29th edition, I was a little upset, because it practically guaranteed that WrestleMania XXX wouldn’t be in New York, breaking from the tradition of WrestleManias X and XX. I guess the era of Madison Square Garden hosting WrestleMania is pretty much over, which is understandable considering the high rental cost and the lack of a desired stadium atmosphere.
Another (for the most part) enjoyable show, but the card begins to drag after the CM Punk vs. Undertaker match. Speaking of which…
Best Match: CM Punk vs. The Undertaker. This was easily the WrestleMania NY/NJ match with the best build, which should come as no surprise considering the build involved two of the best talkers in WWE history in Punk and his advocate/manager/best friend/whatever Paul Heyman. I really did love everything about the Heyman-Punk pairing on screen, as they played off each other so well. And that really helped my enjoyment of this match, since a good chunk of it was the now-typical Hit-Sell-Recover Undertaker formula. During the points that would be considered slow in another Undertaker match, you had Heyman there to fill the void. When the match goes into the final lap towards the end, you’re completely drawn in and hanging on the near falls and reversals. CM Punk’s best WrestleMania match in what would sadly be his last appearance (as of this writing, of course – anything can happen in WWE!). As an added bonus, Living Colour did a live version of “Cult of Personality” for Punk’s entrance, adding several points of awesome to the match.
Worst Match: Ryback vs. Mark Henry. The World’s Strongest Man has been with the company since 1996, and yet this is only his SECOND one-on-one match at WrestleMania. And it was terrible. A couple of big guys beating each other up in a slow, plodding match that ended with what looked like a botch on television. Maybe that was the planned finish, but it came off terribly. At least they got it out of the way relatively early.
No Redemption Needed: The Cena-Rock rematch was built on the premise that Cena, after losing to the Rock the previous year, had spiraled and needed a big win to redeem himself. But how bad was Cena’s year? In April, he beat Brock Lesnar. In June, he beat Big Show in a cage match. He won the Money in the Bank briefcase in July. And he won the Royal Rumble. Sure, he lost a match here and there to CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler, but it was a pretty even year for Cena, certainly not a year where John needed to redeem himself. But WWE logic is WWE logic, so what can you do?
What Should Have Been: While some say they should have kept the WWE Title on Punk at the Royal Rumble to build his 500-day title reign against Undertaker’s streak, I still believe that the main event of this WrestleMania should have been CM Punk defending his WWE Title against Cena. This was the defining feud of the last few years and it never got the spotlight it deserved. Considering the great matches they’ve put on in the past, a WrestleMania encounter between the two would likely have been in contention for the best WrestleMania match of all time.
Long, Not Epic: There was no downtime in between the final three big matches. No divas match to break up the flow and give the fans some down time, which really affects a person’s stamina watching a show like this. Match times for the Punk-Taker, Triple H-Brock Lesnar and Cena-Rock matches all fell within a minute of each other – 23:07, 23:58 and 24:00 respectively. That was really draining watching this show, especially when the middle match was the dullest of the three. I felt bad for Heyman, who was a featured player in two straight matches, running close to an hour straight. During that time, he got attacked by the Undertaker and was hit with some Sweet Chin Music from Shawn Michaels, who served as Triple H’s second. The Triple H-Brock match, to me, failed to deliver. There was no need for Triple H to overcome the odds and beat Brock at WrestleMania… unless they knew they needed to keep him strong for his WWE Title defense a few years later. Evil geniuses, I tell ya.
Quick Hits: It would have been great if Daniel Bryan was able to pin Dolph Ziggler after a quick kick in the Tag Team Title match between Ziggler and Big E and Team Hell No, to call back to the WrestleMania XXVIII loss; The Shield’s WrestleMania debut was somewhat overshadowed by the collapse of the Big Show-Sheamus-Randy Orton team, but it’s still always fun to see Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns working together; The World Heavyweight Title match between Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger was just there, as was Fandango-Jericho.
The Top Twenty!
1 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Submission Match (WrestleMania 13)
2 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania III)
3 – The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – No DQ WWF Title Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
4 – Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit – World Heavyweight Title Triple Threat (WrestleMania XX)
5 – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania XXVI)
6 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
7 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII)
8 – Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Title TLC Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
9 – Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX)
10 – The Undertaker vs. Triple H – Hell in a Cell (WrestleMania XXVIII)
11 – Edge vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin – Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania 21)
12 – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 25)
13 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
14 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
15 – Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 21)
16 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
17 – Undertaker vs. Edge – World Heavyweight Title Match (WrestleMania XXIV)
18 – Eddy Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XX)
19 – Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair – Career Threatening Match (WrestleMania XXIV)
20 – Undertaker vs. CM Punk (WrestleMania NY/NJ)
Top Twenty WrestleMania Celebrity Appearances
Mike Tyson – WrestleMania XIV
Pete Rose – WrestleMania XIV/WrestleMania XV/WrestleMania 2000
Bob Uecker – WrestleMania III/WrestleMania IV
Mary Hart – WrestleMania III
Cyndi Lauper – WrestleMania I
Donald Trump – WrestleMania 23
Snoop Dogg – WrestleMania XXIV / WrestleMania XXVII
Alex Trebek – WrestleMania VII
Vanna White – WrestleMania IV
Burt Reynolds – WrestleMania X
Regis Philbin – WrestleMania VII
Sean “P Diddy” Combs – WrestleMania XXVIII
Gennifer Flowers – WrestleMania XIV
Pee Wee Herman – WrestleMania XXVII
Jonathan Taylor Thomas – WrestleMania XI
Mickey Rourke – WrestleMania 25
LT’s All-Pro Team (Reggie White, Steve McMichael, Carl Banks, Rickey Jackson, Chris Spielman, and Ken Norton Jr.) – WrestleMania XI
Muhammad Ali – WrestleMania I
Elvira – WrestleMania 2
Jenny McCarthy – WrestleMania XI
Top Fifteen WrestleMania Musical Performances
Ray Charles, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 2
Little Richard, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania X
Living Colour, Cult of Personality – WrestleMania NY/NJ
Fife and Drum Corp performing Piper’s entrance – WrestleMania I
John Legend, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania XXIV
Steve Allen rehearses in bathroom with the Bolsheviks – WrestleMania VI
Machine Gun Kelly, Invincible – WrestleMania XXVII
Drowning Pool, Tear Away – WrestleMania X8
Aretha Franklin, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania III / WrestleMania 23
Gospel Choir, The Time is Now – WrestleMania XXVII
Nicole Sherzinger, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 25
Boys Choir of Harlem, American the Beautiful – WrestleMania XX
P.O.D., Booyaka – WrestleMania 22
Flo Rida featuring Sia, Good Feeling and Wild One – WrestleMania XXVIII
Kid Rock Medley – WrestleMania 25