The Best And Worst Of WWE WrestleMania 29 Live

WrestleMania 29 Undertaker fireworks

Pre-show notes:

Comments, shares, likes, whatevers are appreciated!

– As with last year, this is a live Mania report, so please excuse me if I mention (or don’t mention) some stuff that was either explained by commentary or obvious to people seeing things through the camera’s lens. It’s hard to pick up some of the small stuff when you are an acre away, trying to figure out whether the MetLife Stadium french fries are vegan.

– Be sure to be back here tomorrow for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw report, because as you may know, post-Mania Raw is like a thousand times better than Mania proper. I don’t know why.

Please click through to enjoy the Best and Worst of WrestleMania 29 live.

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Best: Look Ma, No Palm Trees

Hey look, USA Guy is making his WrestleMania debut!

First and foremost, for anyone who read last year’s Best and Worst of WrestleMania XXVIII Live report and were concerned about me, yes, I managed to find a seat this year without a gigantic, monolithic prop object blocking my view. Last year I could only see two corners of the ring and had to watch it all on a video screen. This year? THE ENTIRE RING. I’m moving up in the world! Next year I’ll be eating filet mignon sandwiches in a press box with Chris Sims somewhere.

My company for this year’s event was our lovely Best and Worst of Impact columnist Danielle Matheson and her boyfriend Matthew, and if I can recommend one thing after my third live WrestleMania experience, it’s to go with as many friends as possible. Sometimes you need a person to say “yes, I’ll go get a souvenir cup with you” when Triple H is emerging from Castle Greyskull, and if I didn’t have them around, I would’ve drifted off into memories of watching Athena and Ayako Hamada at SHIMMER the day before and been the most worthless prick smark on the planet. What I do not recommend: being from the American South and speaking in front of Canadians. They think I am HILARIOUS.

Best: Kofi Kingston, Pre-Game Analyst

Hope you enjoyed your WrestleMania Moment, Kofi. It was almost as cool as Zack Ryder’s.

In all seriousness, WWE doing a pre-game show like the NFL or NBA might is a great idea, and something they should’ve been formally doing 10 years ago. Dusty Rhodes and Jim Ross want to talk about wrestling in front of me? I don’t care what they’re talking about, I want to listen. They could be hyping Dead Man Down and I’d just sit with my chin in my hands smiling and nodding. Good call, WWE.

I would, however, suggest two improvements:

1. Kofi Kingston being forced to wear a nametag that says “Michael Irvin,” possibly with “LOL” after it, and

Worst: Out Of Time? Cutting Things? Why Not Use That Extra 40 Minutes Of Pre-Show

2. We didn’t get the advertised Rhodes Scholars 8-person tag team match (more on that later), there were no backstage or in-ring interview segments, nobody announced the attendance for a cheap pop, hell, we didn’t even get a Lilian version of ‘America The Beautiful.’ Nobody did a fly-over. Hell, Jack Swagger couldn’t even drive his mobile assault vehicle to the ring on camera because they were cutting for time. But hey, guess what? They still did 40 minutes of pre-show nothingness before the Miz/Wade Barrett match. If you know you’ve got 40 minutes, why not throw the Funkasaurus a bone and have him do his 5-minute “dance, then jump on Damien Sandow” gag? Why not get Snooki in the ring and have Layla blitz her? Something. Anything.

And sure, the fans hadn’t finished filing in yet, but “not everybody saw the entire match” is a much better alternative to “we did nothing, and now we don’t have time for anything.”

Worst: Here Comes The Miz’s Obvious Victory, Or

Best: At Least He’s Not Trouncing Cesaro

I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t catch much of this. I was busy trying to connect to that free WiFi network they’d set up that never actually let me connect, then trying to moderate With Leather comments on an iPad while it started to rain. That wasn’t fun. But hey, Miz finally got the victory and continued his “I do very well for myself at WrestleMania” gag, so that’s good. I’m sure he’ll be a great Intercontinental Champion, and keep the belt for a very long time! I HAVE NOT WATCHED RAW YET, NOPE.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but it’s super depressing that Antonio Cesaro was the shoot MVP of Raw for like two months, then got stuck on a weird losing streak thing while holding a title and didn’t get a match at WrestleMania. He was wrestling NXT dudes at Axxess. And yeah, shit, I want to see Cesaro wrestling NXT guys in front of me, but I would rather him be rewarded for being an amazing pro wrestler who can have great matches with anybody and holds a title in your wrestling company.

But yo, of course you need that time to show the “I’m one of the millions” Rock hype videos. The fans would not be excited to see the Rock without that four minute video about how great he is!

Worst: WrestleRainia

Things started to look pretty grim after Miz’s victory, which was either God’s way of saying “stop having outdoor WrestlesMania in bad weather climates” or possibly “why the f**k did you let the Miz win.” I’ve been to three Manias, all outdoors. The first two were the ones in Florida (24 and 28), so I assumed this one would be Noah’s f**king Ark to punish me. Penance, or karma, or whatever.

Thankfully it cleared up and we had a nice night, so … good job, Vince McMahon. You are the luckiest possible guy when it comes to outdoor events. Next year we won’t have to worry about it at all because we’ll be inside the Superdome, and I get to find out what Mania feels like indoors. Then in 2015 we’ll get that Mania in Dallas, and we can all set in semi-indoors while it’s 750 degrees outside. In April. Because Texas.

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These assholes

Worst: The Shield Didn’t Come Down In A Helicopter Like I Was Hoping

How great would that have been? Just SIERRA HOTEL INDIA etc. and then a helicopter descends upon the stadium, and then BOOM THE SHIELD ARE REPELLING FROM THE HELICOPTER. I guess you can’t do that in a post-Owen Hart world, especially when one of your repellers is Seth Rollins, a guy who can’t jump from the ring to the floor without trying to decapitate himself. My alternate suggestion was that they climb a rope ladder INTO a helicopter and fly away at the end. Basically I just want somebody in a flying device at my WrestleMania. Santino Marella in a hot air balloon!

Best: Everybody Who Isn’t Randy Orton And Sheamus

The weird thing about WrestleMania 29 is that it was set up to allow me a giant window to bail and go home. Every single match that featured somebody I cared about (Shield/Big White Snake, Henry/Ryback, Hell No/Team Rocket, Fandango/Jericho, and to a lesser degree Taker/Punk) were all in a row, remembering that Rhodes Scholars got bricked. I seriously could’ve left after Taker/Punk and been fine. It turned the entire last half of the event into a bathroom/go see my friends in other parts of the stadium break.

But yeah, the opening match started a wonderful trend of People Brandon Wants To Win winning. I didn’t think The Shield was going to take it unless Orton and Sheamus turned on each other, but hey, no turns happened and they still won! Big Show got in a few great moments, taking down everybody with his very slow, very awesome SPEAR TO ALL, then casually knocking out Sheamus and Orton after the match and making me laugh so hard I almost cried in Danielle’s shoulder. It wasn’t the booking I expected, but it was glorious nonetheless.

The Shield should probably never lose. They should be a consistent example of how getting along and wrestling like an actual team works, and only start taking losses when the WWE Trios community has learned enough from them, formed enough teams, and formed an annual six-man team tournament of some kind. You know, to find out who the “king” of those Trios would be.

(ILU, The Shield)

Best: I Am Happy To Say I Was Right And Also Totally Wrong About Ryback And Mark Henry

Here’s what I wrote two weeks ago in the Best and Worst of Raw column about the idea that Ryback could get Mark Henry up in the Shellshock and march around with him without f**king it up:

I don’t think he can do it. Remember when Ryback tried to Shellshock Paul Heyman, and it didn’t work because Heyman is fat and kinda ovular, and Ryback had been picking up nothing but skinny and/or in-shape guys? He did it fine when he adjusted for it, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t the brute, natural power they want the Shellshock to be. Remember when he tried to pick up Lord Tensai and couldn’t, because Tensai is shaped like a big ass dugong, and Ryback only picks up guys like Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal?

Mark Henry is WAY bigger and WAY fatter than Paul Heyman or Tensai. He’s an IMMENSE dude. I don’t think Ryback can Shellshock him and make it look right, at least not in the organic context of a match. Cena can pick up Henry for a finish because he’s just doing a squat. Ryback can probably pick him up, but to hold him in place? Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

An important note about my column: I am almost never right.

So there were two major surprises in this match. The first one is that Ryback COULD get Mark Henry up for the Shellshock, and not only that, he could get him up for it and throw him down in it with authority. I am very, very happy to say that I was wrong, and that Ryback has legitimate superhuman strength. I’m sorry for calling you Mason Ryan all those weeks, Ry. The second surprise is that YEAH MARK HENRY WON ANYWAY, so at least I was right about that. I wish I’d put money on it. This match worked out perfectly, I thought … Ryback got his big WrestleMania moment, and Mark didn’t have to lose to make it happen. High-five.

Worst: Feed Me More Chants

The only bad part of the Henry/Ryback match (besides the actual match not being any good whatsoever … just do Sheamus/Henry or Bryan/Henry for every Mark Henry match, please) was Ryback leading the crowd in a rousing FEED ME MORE chant after he Shellshocked Henry.

I know that’s your cue, studio audience, but … he just lost. He could not finish the food he was given. Why does he get to chant Feed Me More? That was supposed to suggest that the competition he was given was not enough, and he needed more of it. More than two! It doesn’t mean “we like Ryback.” LISTEN TO WHAT YOU’RE CHANTING.

Also, I’m predictably not a big fan of the Sexual Chocolate chant. I tried to get a “Let’s go Skip” counter-chant going, but I guess we’re only remembering past character incarnations for some of these guys. Between this and the “You Can’t Wrestle” chants for Fandango, I’m starting to think nobody in the WWE Universe watches NXT.

I am starting to think it.

Best: Daniel Bryan Gets A WrestleMania Match (No, Really)

Whenever the action in the ring seemed muddled, I’d look up at the video screen to get my bearings. At the beginning of this match, I looked up in time to see Dolph Ziggler and AJ kissing on the ring apron, shot to look identical to Daniel Bryan’s Kiss Of Death 18 Seconds Loss That Ruined My Life last year. It was a momentary recreation of the saddest non-somebody-dying moment of my pro wrestling fan life, and even with the guy I love on the kicking end, my heart imploded and sank and gulped. Thankfully the match continued, Daniel Bryan got to spend more than 20 seconds in a WrestleMania match that actually appears on a WrestleMania pay-per-view, and … things are better.

Of course, I’d rather Daniel Bryan still be the World Heavyweight Champion and not the comedy sidekick of Kane, defending meaningless tag team titles against guys with better things to do, but it’s a small apology for last year’s horrible horrible horrible thing, and that’s something. I get to tell people I saw my favorite wrestler win a match at WrestleMania. That’s cool.

now let’s never speak of that 18 second thing again

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Best: Everything About Fandango Except … Uh, Well, Huge Chunks Of This Match

Before you ask, I am so excited to write about Raw, dude. You have no idea. But … we’ll get there.

Here, I’d like to say how much I loved the Fandango WrestleMania entrance, which was as much a direct apology to me for the Brodus Clay Mammy thing last year as Daniel Bryan’s victory was for his 18-second loss. Fandango gets a dozen dancing girls on the stage while his silhouette burns against the Brooklyn Bridge. The crowd chants “You Can’t Wrestle” at him, so he beats Chris Jericho with a roll-up. He is FAAAAAAHN DAAAAAAAHN GOOOOOO, and he is the new Stone Cold Steve Austin, or at least this year’s Daniel Bryan. Or Simon Dean, but slightly better. One of those three.

The downside is that the match was … not good. I was sitting pretty far away, and even I could see the Brodus-sized gap between them during moves. I still haven’t watched any of this on tape so I don’t know if it was the timing or if one of them was at fault, but Jericho Lionsaulting into the middle of the ring while Fandango held us legs up about an inch from the rope to set up a Walls of Jericho counter with enough room for at least three dancing ladies between them was pretty rank. I hope they get another shot at it, because Jericho is better than this, and Dirty Curty in-ring work needs to be as over as his entrance theme.

Best: What’s Up Now, Teens Who Talked Shit About Me On The Shuttle Ride Over

We stayed at the Fairview Inn Meadowlands, so it was just a short shuttle over to Mania to avoid the heinous assland of that parking lot. We had a few people in the van with us, including two (I wanna say) teenage girls in homemade “IF PUNK WINS, WE RIOT” hoodies with “TEAM UNDERTAKER FOREVER 21-0” on the back. They struck up a conversation about WrestleMania with us, and mentioned that above all, they wanted to see “Jericho kick Fandango’s ass.”

Now, if you need to be reminded, I am me. I do not think I’m “right” about wrestling (I am never, ever right), but some stuff has become pretty obvious to me in my time as a fan. I am not trying to be the smartest or most correct guy in the room, but if you’re gonna talk about wrestling, I’m gonna talk to you about it like I’d talk about it to myself. I think my exact comments were “If that match doesn’t end with Fandango rolling Jericho up, I will eat my shoes.”

They were not happy. They asked the Canadians why they were friends with me, called me a “smark,” then mumbled under their breath about how I was a “jackass.” I just want to give a popular internet wrestling column shout-out to those girls, and I hope they enjoyed Fandango winning the match with a roll-up.

Best: Being Here Live Means I Got To See Jack Swagger Drive A Jeep To The Ring

WELCOME TO JACK SWAGGER’S JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE

I’m sad Jeep Swagger didn’t make it onto the show. In the interest of full disclosure, here are the three thoughts I had while he was driving it around:

1. THEY GAVE HIM TONY’S ENTRANCE FROM SMACKDOWN VS. RAW 2009

2. How funny is it that Jack’s the one driving the jeep? Shouldn’t he make Zeb do that? I couldn’t imagine King Kong Bundy driving Bobby Heenan to the ring in something.

3. How much better would this have been if they’d gone with my idea of making him an astronaut? He’d be piloting a space shuttle to the ring, and instead of Zeb Colter he’d have Shaul Guerrero sitting next to him, dressed like a sexy Martian.

Best: Swagger/Del Rio, And Ricardo Living His Dream

This was easily, easily my favorite match of the night. I dug the ankle lock reversals for the first time since Kurt Angle tried to ruin them forever, I loved Del Rio’s fighting spirit (and Mexico fireworks), and I thought Ricardo Rodriguez having 80,000 people chanting ALBERTOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO with him was adorable. The crowd wouldn’t cut it out with the WE WANT ZIGGLER chants, which was a shame, because the wrestling in front of them was going really well. They chanted it after the match, too, even when Del Rio was perfectly fine and waving the title around. LISTEN TO WHAT YOU ARE CHANTING AND THINK ABOUT IT, CHANTERS

Worst: The WrestleMania Superstore

The WrestleMania Superstore was such a disappointment for me. I wanted to get the Bent On Destruction Mark Henry shirt because they didn’t have it on sale on Elimination Chamber, but nope, they didn’t have a single one. They had 10,000 Ryback shirts, though. So I thought “okay, I’ll get the Primetime Players shirt.” Only available in 2X and above! Danielle wanted to get the Mick Foley Hall Of Fame shirt (because each of the inductees got their own shirt), but Foley’s was the worst looking one by a mile. Total letdown. But they had that Jim Ross cookbook from 15 years ago, a crate full of unsold Zack Ryder wigs and at least a wall of Kofi Kingston wrestling buddies. Oh, and every single shirt stand sold out of the I WAS THERE shirt about 10 minutes into the show. Tons of Sean Combs INVISIBLE BULLY shirts were still available, though.

I am disappoint, WrestleMania Superstore.

Best: Puff Daddy’s Thing

(it was extremely short)

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Undertaker WrestleMania entrance

Best: Poor Unfortunate Souls

Credit to Danielle for that joke. I was just gonna call him Kratos.

Undertaker’s entrance was my very favorite part of this match, and I’m not a mark for Undertaker entrances. I don’t do the “goosebumps” thing most people do, I just see a weird tall guy in bat wings. But here, the imagery was too cool to deny. I just wish they’d had the souls dressed like wrestlers he’s beaten at WrestleMania. Kamala soul! A really big Giant Gonzalez soul, which would explain why he’s so low to the ground*. Get Tensai to play himself!

*Because he has trouble standing up, not because he’s dead.

Worst: I May Not Have Enjoyed This As Much As You And I’m Afraid To Mention It

This is probably a result of not having seen the match on tape yet, but … I didn’t love this, and I feel like maybe I’m wrong. When I watched it I thought Punk was EXCEPTIONAL with all his mannerisms and callbacks and supreme cadre of dick moves (pulling out the Old School and getting away with it was especially choice), but the finishing stuff felt wrong … I mean, Undertaker pretty much straight-up no-sold an Anaconda Vice, then totally no-sold a Go To Sleep to hit his finish and win. It wasn’t even an All Japan delayed sell thing, he just ignored it because UNDERTAKER and WRESTLEMANIA. And yeah, I know that has a place and I’m not complaining about it too much, but … I don’t know. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say. When it was done, I didn’t feel that WOW, WHAT A GREAT MATCH rush I get. It just felt like Punk doing one of those Undertaker matches.

I talked to a lot of people who thought Punk was going to win, and it says a lot for the impression Punk’s made on people. The guy is 1/3 of the Undertaker’s size. He just finished an angle where he had the upper hand the ENTIRE time, going into Undertaker’s 21st WrestleMania match. Taker had just beaten Shawn Michaels twice and Triple H twice. The match went on third to last. People STILL thought Punk was going to win. That’s a dedicated fan base. At least the girls on the Fairview Inn shuttle didn’t have to riot and destroy the place.

I would like to personally recommend that everybody IN that passionate fan buys the new CM Punk shirt, because Jill Thompson drew it, and Jill is the most amazing.

Best: Guess How Much Of Triple H/Lesnar I Watched

I don’t want to say this like I’m proud of being some kind of smarmy anti-fun asshole, but as soon as they started putting SKULL MOUNTAIN together on the stage, I bailed. I spent the majority of the match hanging out with the cats from TJR Wrestling and Sims, laughing about pro wrestling and having fun while these two beefy identical dudes put each other in armbars.

I wandered back into the walkway and watched the last few minutes, and I feel like I got the gist of it. I came in just when Triple H was kimura locking Brock, and Brock was trying to break it by slamming him on some steps. I got a sledgehammer shot, a pedigree onto steps, Triple H being TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY FINE despite the 24-ish minutes of (I’m assuming) armbars and weapons shots, and … yeah, this is what it was. It was that kind of unfortunate wrestling match where you know one guy’s winning and they keep sorta limply trying to convince you that he won’t. You know, the kind of match they did three times in a row to end WrestleMania.

I didn’t know until I saw a bunch of viral videos and memes this morning that Brock Lesnar had done a weird yell. That’s going to be my first chapter search when the blu-ray comes out.

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Worst: Where The F**k Is My Rhodes Scholars Match?

WHAT THE HELL, MAN

As weird as it was that they set up Mania’s matches like they did, putting all the undercard stuff first and doing all the big matches with similar times and set-ups and executions right in a row, I was still expecting something to buffer the next-to-last “big” match with the main-event. I thought for sure when we got to Swagger/Del Rio that the Funkasaurus/Tensai/Funkadactyls vs. Rhodes Scholars/Bella Twins thing was going to be five minutes of dancing and splashes to let us cool down.

Instead, Triple H finally disappears to back, and suddenly RAPPADOO. I was all ready to write a thing about how Cody should be wrestling Goldust and how Damien Sandow should be in at LEAST Jack Swagger’s position and how Naomi is great and “Hoss Funk” is the best name for Brodus and Tensai and just … nothing. Just rappadoo. And nothing + rappadoo is SO MUCH WORSE than nothing.

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