The Road To WrestleMania 29: Logical, Competently Written And Completely Dull

Hey guys, my name’s Nathan and for some godforsaken reason, I like my fake underwear fighting to make sense.

My desire for lucid pro-wrestling goes beyond “no gaping plot holes, thanks” — I also like recognizable human motivations and characterization! Failing all that (and wrestling usually fails all that) I at least like when matches have some sort of compelling, logical hook. Assuming you’re not just rage-reading Brandon’s Best And Worst columns every week, I bet you feel the same way.

Well, I’m happy to say the build-up to WrestleMania 29 has made a shocking amount of sense! Nearly every match feels like it exists for a reason, and yet I can’t remember a year when I’ve been less excited for the show. Let’s take a stroll through this solidly assembled, yet totally sleep-inducing card, shall we?

Do Rhodes Scholars have some competition on the “best friends” front? Brodus certainly seems to be enjoying his Tensai back fat massage.

Team Rhodes Scholars & The Bellas vs. Brodus Clay, Tensai, Naomi & Cameron

Why The Match Makes Sense

It’s the smartest people in WWE (guy who uses words with up to three syllables, guy who nods approvingly when his friend uses words with up to three syllables and the only girls in WWE Diva history to use a strategy more complicated than “deploy roll-up as soon as possible” in their matches) against the stupidest (guy who’s not sure how to phone his mama, guy who thought “hey, I’ve been to Japan!” totally justifies six-months of yellowface and Sakamoto-beating, and two women who seem okay with wasting years of training on pom-pom shaking).

How Much Do I Care?

Somewhere between “meh” and “hrmm” depending on what the Bellas wear.

This is a “make the audience happy” match. That means two-minutes of actual wrestling and 20-minutes of dancing over Rhodes Scholars’ corpses. Also, they’re going to have a bunch of kids in the ring, and Tensai doesn’t belong anywhere near children.

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango

Why The Match Makes Sense

Jericho’s coat batteries still have some charge, so hey, may as well show up and grab a WrestleMania payday. He immediately flames out against any sort of top-level competition, but whatever, Wade Barrett hasn’t won a match in months, let’s take his belt. Jericho somehow fails again. Desperate to find somebody he can still lord his faded glory over, Jericho zooms in on the new guy with the dorky ballroom dancing gimmick and gives him the full early-2000s Y2J treatment. Dorky ballroom dancing guy spends the next few weeks beating the crap out of Jericho.

It’s Jericho’s wrestling mid-life crisis. The guy should almost miss his Wrestlemania match because he’s backstage wistfully looking through old high school yearbooks, then ride down to the ring on one of Undertaker’s old Harleys he paid way too much for.

How Much Do I Care?

Come on, its Cool Dad vs. Ballroom Dancing Guy. I know we all like Ballroom Dancing Guy because he’s silly and kind of loveably inept as the lothario, but WWE dancing gimmicks always end in heartbreak. In WWE doing a funny dance is considered the highest form of entertainment achievable, so if you’re a dancin’ guy you’re never going to have anywhere to go. It’s a guy whose best days are behind him vs. a guy with nothing ahead of him.

Screaming funny threats is 24-hour job for Mark Henry. 

Ryback vs. Mark Henry

Why The Match Makes Sense

It’s the two guys with the highest strength and lowest stamina stats in the WWE. In Smash Bros. terms, it’s Bowser vs. Donkey Kong on the F-Zero stage. If the match goes over three minutes I’m pretty sure they both just explode.

How Much Do I Care?

Okay, so I’m actually looking forward to King Hippo vs. Bald Bull quite a bit.

I love “tiny, barely taller than Daniel Bryan even when he’s standing in front” Kane. 

Kane & Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E. Langston

 Why The Match Makes Sense

So, AJ leaves Daniel Bryan at the altar and he’s so pissed he ends up needing counselling, but AJ’s immediately put in charge of RAW and ends up being the first lady to get a rise out of the jorts, so Bryan’s all “Oh, s–t. Uh well okay, I wish you the best.”

Skip forward a few months, John Cena/AJ are done because Cena thinks feeling are weird and now she’s palling around with the tightpants job squad. So Bryan finally feels it’s safe to sidle up and give AJ a quick “hey, f–k you” on Smackdown. An adorable, non-threatening Daniel Bryan sort of f–k you, but one nonetheless.

But, as Lawler and Cole helpfully remind us every time she’s on screen, AJ’s a little volatile, and Bryan’s needling reminds her she hates his guts and really ought to get back to ruining his life. So she convinces her Team Rocket pals to go after the titles. Ziggler isn’t happy about this because he thinks he has a good Shawn & Diesel thing going with Big E. and doesn’t remember how that storyline ended. Big E. is happy about it because he’s secretly the brains of the operation and does remember how that storyline ended.

How Much Do I Care?

I care in the sense that I like seeing Team Tightpants succeed, and I think they might at WrestleMania. That said, I’d be just as excited seeing them beat Santino and Justin Gabriel as Team Hell No at this point. Kane and Bryan are a joke way past it’s expiration date. Also Kane has the ability to drag an entire tag match down to his level, so don’t expect the match to be good or anything.

So, they totally just Photoshopped Brock Lesnar’s head and tattoos on Tensai’s body, right? 

Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H

Why The Match Makes Sense

I’m just glad Brock Lesnar accepted the match without any bulls–t time around. I get what they were going with the “monster killer who still backs out of fights because he’s an a–hole coward” thing, but f–k that — that’s more layers than you need with Brock Lesnar. “Monster killer” is more than enough.

How Much Do I Care?

Hey, where do you get your Haley Williams gifs Brandon?

I mean, I dunno. I guess Brock Lesnar might win. That’d be cool. I guess.

Sheamus, Randy Orton & Big Show vs. The Shield

Why The Match Makes Sense

Best as I can tell The Shield’s big thing is “we don’t like the established jerks who think they can hang around doing the same stale act forever” and hey, whattaya know, their opponents are the most established, stubbornly unchanging jerkasses the company has to offer (that don’t have something better to do).

How Much Do I Care?

Well, for one Team “Sorry John Cena’s Busy And We’re Trying A Thing With Jack Swagger This Year” is probably going to win.

Second, what’s the end goal for The Shield at this point? There’s no six-person tag titles for them to chase, and they don’t seem to actually want anything out of these “Shield vs. Superfiends” matches. They never demand any stips even though it’s the Randy Ortons and Sheamuses chasing the Shield and not the other way around. The only thing The Shield earns from beating one superteam, is another match with a slightly different superteam. It’s some Super Mario Bros. second quest s–t. Okay, now there’s buzzy beetles instead of goombas in the first level — who cares?

Give them some sort of goal WWE. If they beat 10 randomly assembled Randy Orton tag teams in a row they unlock different colored flak jackets or individual finishers. Something.

Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Jack Swagger

Why The Match Makes Sense

It’s Xenophobic Guy vs. Guy Not From America, But Who Recently Decided America Is Actually Better Than His Country. I’m mainly just happy Xenophobic Guy is the bad guy.

How Much Do I Care?

At first I was pretty into “values friendship and superkicking guys in the face” Alberto Del Rio, but then he started stealing tires and dousing opponents in various fluids and eh. I still like it when he superkicks guys in the face.

Swagger on the other hand — Jack Swagger’s value is as a lisping, pothead doofus who could destroy 99% of the people who have ever worked in WWE in a legitimate fight. I loved “Soaring Eagle” era Jack Swagger, but now WWE is asking us to take him seriously both in and outside the ring, and it isn’t working. Serious Jack Swagger is just another hoss.

Who’s ya got? 300-pound zombie Mad Max villain or uh, the other guy? 

The Undertaker vs. CM Punk

Why The Match Makes Sense

Most guys don’t mesh particularly well The Undertaker. I mean, what do you do with this guy who’s supposed to be a legit Frankenstein zombie? Most guys who feud with Taker fall into the familiar pattern of cutting promos about how the Undertaker totally doesn’t scare them, looking really scared when he shows up and then getting pinned. That’s the only storyline Taker knows how to do, and if you’re feuding with Taker you best believe you’re doing his storyline.

The Undertaker/Triple H stories from the past few years were different because Triple H is the one guy who can override Taker, so Triple H got to go on about RESPECT and BEING MEN and THIS BUSINESS while Taker just sort of stood there looking bored, waiting for his chance to make a pun about graves or hellfire or whatever.

I think a lot of people expected CM Punk’s feud with the Undertaker to follow the Triple H mold and involve the two of them really getting into it and shooting about that time Taker told Punk to stop wearing s–tty basketball shorts everywhere or whatever, but it was never going to be like that. Taker still outranks Punk, so this was going to be an Undertaker storyline, and Punk has embraced that.

Punk’s juggling urns, zinging Taker’s dead dad and bathing in his ashes. This is the kind of stuff the Undertaker actually cares about (in storyline, and probably in real life too). You can talk all the business and backstage gossip you want — that s–t rolls right off Taker’s back. Disrespect his dollar-store urn though, and it’s on. Yes, it’s all very stupid, but the Undertaker has always been a stupid character who does stupid things. This is the best Undertaker story in years.

How Much Do I Care?

Still, it’s hard to get that excited, because come on, we know who’s winning. The build to the Triple H matches was dull as hell, but there was still some drama because Triple H was realistically the one guy with the pull to end the streak.

Then again, they’ve really gone out of their way to never connect CM Punk and Brock Lesnar even though they’re the top two heels in the company and are both managed by the same guy. Hmmmm.

The Rock (c) vs. John Cena

Why The Match Makes Sense

Last year’s Rock vs. Cena match may have been a ground shaking once-in-a-lifetime battle of immortals, but neither guy had any sort of legitimate beef with the other. Cena was angry that Rock rarely appeared on Monday Night RAW. Rock was angry that Cena wore ugly shirts. Here’s how normal people would have dealt with these burning issues…

Rock – Well, I changed careers. Decided to give “fabulously wealthy movie star” a try. You’ve done some movies too haven’t you? Movies are cool, right?

Cena – Yeah, I guess. Oh, and I wear these shirts because kids like them.

Rock – Ah, right, the kids. Are they why I can only say “bitch” 10 times per promo now?

Cena – Yeah, sorry. Pro tip, keep a bag of peanuts with you at all times. Or maybe a picture of a dog or something. Whatever you feel.

This year both guys have an actual reason to want the match (aside from “money”). By now it’s firmly established John Cena doesn’t care whether he wins or loses. Epico could score a flash pin on Cena next week and he’d just shrug and launch into a “sometimes yah win, sometimes yah lose” speech. Cena doesn’t particularly care about wins either. Cena spent the past year winning the Royal Rumble and pummelling BEAST INCARNATE Brock Lesnar into submission in hardcore matches, but he still had a “bad year”.

Why? Because the only thing John Cena cares about is making VOWS and PROMISES. If John Cena can’t believe in John Cena, who can he believe in? Usually if Cena fails to live up to a promise, he just gets chance after chance until he does, but last year Cena guaranteed he’d beat the Rock, failed and then the Rock left for a year. Poor John has been miserable since.

The Rock on the other hand doesn’t really give a crap about Cena, but this skinny, easy-to-beat looking fry cook somehow strung together the longest WWE Championship reign in 25-years and Rock just had to end it. So he did, and then Cena went and won the Royal Rumble, and whoops, Rock let his ego trap him in another match with Cena. God-dammit.

How Much Do I Care?

So yeah, this year’s Rock vs. Cena match makes sense. Both guys have legitimate motivations. Unfortunately whatever specialness that first match may have had, has totally evaporated.

Rock’s been on dozens of episodes of RAW and in half-a-dozen matches by now. Hell, he showed up on an episode of Smackdown. Smackdown. Rock’s a regular guest star at this point, and if Rock isn’t anything special, then Rock vs. Cena 2 is basically just another John Cena main event. Against a guy he already fought last year. Which Cena is almost certainly going to win. Bleh. 

Wrestlemania 29 — competently built, yet mostly dull. I am so going to hesitate at least several seconds before I purchase it.