We are less than a week away from WrestleMania 29 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. As a lifelong World Wrestling Entertainment fan that has seen every WrestleMania (and reviewed them all) it's always a big night to see what might happen.
I realize a lot of fans are upset with the build to WrestleMania. If you read my Raw Deal column weekly you know that I haven't really liked Raw in the last month. However, it's still WrestleMania and there is always going to be something special about the event to me.
I have a lot of questions going into the show. This is not a preview, though. That's for later in the week (I think Thursday), but instead it's going to be about certain aspects of the show. As you'll see from some answers below you may get some idea of what I'm predicting in some matches although I'm really not going to go too in-depth with the preview yet.
Before I get to the questions and answers, here's the advertised lineup for WrestleMania 29 as of Monday April 1 at 3pmET when I'm posting this.
WWE Championship: The Rock (c) vs. John Cena
The Streak On The Line: The Undertaker vs. CM Punk
No Holds Barred With Triple H's Career On The Line: Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar
Randy Orton, Sheamus & Big Show vs. The Shield
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Jack Swagger
Ryback vs. Mark Henry
Intercontinental Championship: Wade Barrett (c) vs. The Miz
WWE Tag Team Championship: Team Hell No (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
Tons of Funk & The Funkadactyls vs. Team Rhodes Scholars & The Bella Twins
That's ten matches. They could add one or two since the entire event is five hours long, so if that happens I'd expect a battle royal of some kind or possibly a US Title match featuring the forgotten champion Antonio Cesaro. I also think a Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee Divas Title match is possible too.
Now that we know the lineup, let's get to the questions and answers.
1. Will the crowd be loud the whole show?
The crowd will be amazing for the most part. As somebody that's been at the last two WMs I know what it's like to go crazy when something big happens. And to hear that ovation. This time it's a New York/New Jersey crowd, which is one of the best there is.
A lot of people travel long distances for WM, especially "smart" fans, so they're the ones that make the most noise more often than not. With that said, there are always going to be parts of a long show like that where the crowd dies for certain matches. That's just how it always is.
2. Is a five hour broadcast a good idea?
I don't think so. Technically the PPV portion of the show is four hours, but with the one hour pre-game show (that will likely include a couple of matches) it's going to be a long night for everybody involved. Despite the awesome crowd mentioned above, there are going to be instances where they are burned out and quiet. It happens every year. I guess WWE figures "we have 70,000 people here so we might as well put on a five hour show" and that's what they're doing whether we enjoy it or not.
3. Is WrestleMania worth the $69.99 price tag it's going for in glorious HD in North America?
It's a personal choice depending on how much money you make and how much money you're willing to spend to watch a wrestling show. Personally I'd say it's worth it because I'm going to write about it and even though I've been known to find other ways to watch PPVs in the past (*cough*), for WrestleMania I'm going to order it. If you're watching with a group of seven people have everybody put in $10 and you have it covered. It's worth it that way. For those watching alone or with just one other person maybe it's too much.
It's the highest price for any WWE show ever. Will it go up in future years? Probably. It always does. Ten years ago it was probably half that number. In ten years it could be over $100. Life is expensive.
4. Will Fandango be a success in his WrestleMania debut?
I'll say yes largely because his opponent is Chris Jericho, who is one of the best performers ever. The former Johnny Curtis hasn't wrestled on television as Fandango yet, so there are a lot of questions as to what he will do. I think it's a smart move by WWE to keep him out of the ring until WrestleMania.
For those wondering if Fandango deserves a spot on the WrestleMania card, keep in mind he first signed with WWE developmental in 2006. He's been there seven years. The guy has earned the right to be a performer on the main roster, so give him a chance before you dismiss it. I'm mildly optimistic about the character. I want to see what happens with him.
5. What can we expect out of the announce team of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & John Bradshaw Layfield?
JBL confirmed that this trio is calling the PPV as they have done since JBL returned to commentating full time last year. I enjoy listening them call a show because JBL is great in the heel role, Lawler is more tolerable when he has to talk less and Cole does a good job of being the middle man who has worked a lot with both guys. The chemistry is there. The three man team is certainly better than the two man team on Raw, that's for sure.
Of course I wish they would bring back Jim Ross to commentate, but Cole is definitely better as a babyface play by play guy these days. He's much more tolerable than he was during his heel announcer run.
6. Will the weather be a factor?
I hope not! As somebody that lives in southern Ontario I know what it's like in early April in New York. They get the same weather we do although it can be even worse there due to the ocean (remember Hurricane Sandy?). It won't be cold enough to snow, but rain is possible. Early forecasts this far out are never that accurate although at this point it doesn't look like shows are unlikely.
I hope the weather cooperates for the performers and fans. When we were in Miami last year we worried about a rain storm. On the Saturday afternoon it rained for about a half hour. On Sunday it was all clear. You never know how Mother Nature will factor in to an outdoor wrestling show. She can be a vengeful bitch sometimes.
7. Is it a mistake that Antonio Cesaro isn't involved in WrestleMania (at this point)?
Yes it is. What a shame. Cesaro is the kind of wrestler that is talented enough to have great matches with anybody on the roster. The problem is when you book a guy to lose so many non-title matches like him it tells the fans that he's a loser that isn't worthy of a prominent role at WrestleMania. And that's a shame because the guy has all the tools to be a main event player in the near future.
Please use Antonio Cesaro better. He's too good to be sitting on the sidelines. Others are too, but he's at the top of the list.
8. Can Ryback hit Shellshocked on Mark Henry?
We've seen him do it to Tensai (one time it was very awkward) and others, but can he do it to somebody as big as Mark Henry? I think so. I imagine that's the plan to end the match, so it will be interesting to see if it happens. I like the idea of the move because it will give Ryback a WrestleMania moment that will be very memorable.
9. What under the radar matchup are you looking forward to?
Any interaction between Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan in the tag title match. I think those two guys along with CM Punk are the best in-ring performers in WWE, so it will be a joy to watch them go at it at WrestleMania. Of course I would have rather seen them in a major singles match against each other possibly for the World Title because they could have had the match of the night. A tag match is better than nothing.
10. If I have to go to the bathroom during this really long show what match should I plan my break around?
Oh the always important bathroom break match. I would plan it around the eight person tag match between Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow and six other people I really don't care to watch or really name here. As much as I like Rhodes & Sandow, I'd expect that match to get under five minutes. It's all about putting over the team of dudes that dance with Naomi (she is talented) and that Cameron chick that says her favorite match ever is Alicia Fox vs. Melina. Of course I have to share a clip.
I'm sure she thinks that her WrestleMania match will be the best match of the night too. I'm not so sure.
11. Who will have the longest entrance?
It's a good thing that the show is four hours long (five if you count the pre-show) because the ramp is so long it takes a while for some people to make it down to the ring. Of course The Undertaker will likely take the longest, but perhaps Fandango will beat him considering how over the top and ridiculous it is.
I also wonder if Brodus Clay will be gassed by the time he gets down to the ring. I think he will be.
12. Will the Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar match be better than their last match at Summerslam?
I think it's very likely because the No Holds Barred stipulation will certainly help them. Lesnar's better in matches where he can brawl around the ring while using weapons. Hunter has had a lot of good matches in that setting too, so I would expect them to have a very exciting match while using all of the extra "equipment" outside the ring.
13. Even if he loses, do you think WrestleMania 29 is going to be the last match of Triple H?
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! No. (Yes I'm allowed to feed myself easy questions.)
His father in-law-Vince "WHAT A MANEUVER!" McMahon has had matches into his 60s. I think Triple H will too.
14. Is this the best Hall of Fame class in WWE history?
Yes it is. I always enjoy when they bring out the Hall of Famers onto the stage to wave to the fans. It's nice to remember the history of the business on the night of the biggest show of the year.
Bruno Sammartino was at the first WrestleMania 28 years ago when he was in the corner of his son David in a match against Brutus Beefcake. It was an awful match too. I remember it from when I reviewed it last year. David was not a good performer like his dad. That's for damn sure. He was also a part of the battle royal at WM2, which was also pretty bad. Of course Bruno could miss it like when Bret Hart missed it in 2006 when he was inducted, but I think that's unlikely.
15. Since it's relevant to the Hall of Fame, how about a Trish Stratus photo?
Of course that pic is over ten years old and she doesn't look like that anymore, but I don't care.
I'm sorry for not sharing a Bruno Sammartino pic, by the way. I'm not into hairy chests that much.
16. Should the winning streak of The Shield continue at WrestleMania?
Yes. Absolutely. They're going up against a trio in Randy Orton, Sheamus & Big Show who could lose 50 times in a row in singles matches yet still retain their credibility because of all they have accomplished in their careers. The Shield has momentum. They're a fresh act in a company full of stale acts that are stale because of inconsistent booking. Give The Shield the big win here and their rise to the top can continue.
17. What positive can you take out of the Wade Barrett vs. The Miz match for the Intercontinental Title?
The positive thing about this match is that The Miz isn't in the WrestleMania main event! I don’t hate the guy. I just hate that I spent a lot of money to watch him main event WrestleMania 27 in one of the worst main events in WrestleMania history. The feud with Barrett is pretty boring too.
18. Will there be any surprising turns?
It would be nice. Those are the kinds of things we can expect at an event like WrestleMania. I think The Shield's match against Randy Orton, Sheamus & Big Show is the one match where something could happen where we see Orton costing his team the victory leading to a heel turn that's been rumored for a long time. Orton even tweets about wanting to be a heel too, so maybe it's more than a rumor. I'm starting to think that it may be too obvious, though, so perhaps WrestleMania is the wrong time to do it.
If Orton turns I hope he's an independent heel. The Shield doesn't need a leader. Orton doesn't need a stable. He's done that before with Legacy. We don't need a repeat.
19. Will I miss not going to this WrestleMania after going to the last two?
Yes. A bit. I'll miss seeing my friends that I've met up with over the past two years whether they are fellow writers or just people I've met through writing over the years. We had a blast the last couple of years. But I'm not that upset about saving my money this year. Plus, it's really hard to enjoy a wrestling show in a football sized stadium unless you're sitting close. I'm definitely planning on going to WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans. Always wanted to see that city.
20. Will any referee beat Charles Robinson's sprint WrestleMania 24?
I don't think it's possible. Here's the video in case you don't remember it.
There's also a "Chariots of Fire" version of that video, but if I put that in you would sit there for hours watching it repeatedly. And I need you to finish the column, my friends. It's all about you.
It would be cool if they had that spot at least once at every WrestleMania where there's a ref bump and then Robinson has to sprint down to the ring on the really long aisle. It's awesome.
21. Will there be a Divas Title match?
It's possible on the pre-show. It looks like Kaitlyn could defends against AJ Lee. It was thrown together pretty quickly this past week on Raw (after ditching the Layla heel turn story apparently), so I'm not sure if it will be on the main card or the pre-show. I'm just glad WWE is actually giving their women a chance on the big stage. It doesn't always happen.
22. Other than the three advertised main event matches, what match do you expect to get the most time?
By three main event matches I'm referring to Rock/Cena, Punk/Taker and Lesnar/HHH. I think it will be either Swagger vs. Del Rio or Daniel Bryan & Kane vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston as far as getting the most time in the ring. I think the World Title match
23. Do you expect to see Dolph Ziggler cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase to win the World Heavyweight Title?
I do. While I know that WWE is really pushing the Del Rio/Swagger story, it's been six weeks and the feud isn't connecting like they thought it would at least as a major title feud. I can see a situation where Del Rio retains title via a counter move of some kind. Post match, Swagger could attack him possibly going after the ankle. That could lead to his former partner Ziggler running down the ramp, cashing in that briefcase and leaving WrestleMania as the World Champion.
If you throw in a possible Divas Title win for AJ Lee (not an official match yet) and tag title win between Ziggler & Langston it's a way to give that trio a lot of momentum heading forward. They could keep the Del Rio/Swagger going forward if they want or just end it a few weeks later while moving onto Ziggler/Del Rio feud. There are a lot of possibilities.
It would be a history making event to see somebody cash in a Money in the Bank briefcase at a WrestleMania. It would be the first time ever. Since WrestleMania is a history making event why not do something to make it really memorable by crowning a new World Champion? I'd love it. If it happens Ziggler would probably get a lot of cheers too, which will lead to his face turn in the near future. Why do you think Langston there? To kick his ass one day and turn Ziggler into a face.
23. Do you still get excited to see The Undertaker wrestling at WrestleMania?
Yes. Absolutely. Simply put, the guy is a legend. We don't know how many matches he has left now that he's 48 years old and is obviously a part-timer these days. Enjoy it while it's here. A lot of people thought 20-0 last year might have been the end. I don't know when it will be. Maybe next year at WrestleMania 30. I think he'll go as long as long as he wants and we're not going to get a warning
24. Even though CM Punk has been injured for the past month, do you expect him to put on a great performance?
Of course I do. He's the best in the world. He's my wrestler of the year for the past two years and he hasn't dropped off the past two months. I'm really going to enjoy his match because apparently his arm injury is bad enough that he may be off for a couple of months after WrestleMania. If anybody deserves some time off it's him considering the schedule he has worked the last couple of years.
I think Raw will suffer without Punk if he's out for a month or two. It will allow others to step up, though.
25. After this week, there will be no more staring at or pointing at the WrestleMania sign for about ten months. Will you miss it?
Not really. But I am impressed that we managed to get 20 people pointing (or looking) at the sign at WWE events over the past couple of months.
26. Who are you happy about seeing at WrestleMania?
I could pick so many people here including Brock Lesnar, who is wrestling in his first WM in nine years. However I'm going to go with a non-wrestler: Paul Heyman.
Heyman is an amazing manager that deserves the spotlight he has. He really is one of the best managers I've ever seen. When he does his promos it's not about him. It's about CM Punk or Brock Lesnar - two guys he considers to be close friends who he has influenced greatly in his career. I think we take it for granted sometimes, but Heyman's a guy that loves the business as much as anybody, so I'm glad he'll play a major role at WrestleMania this year.
27. Who will get booed more: The Rock or John Cena?
I think Cena will. But it wouldn't surprise me to hear some boos for Rock because he hasn't been on TV that much in the last month. Out of all the matches on the card I'm most interested in the crowd reaction for this match. I think most will boo Cena, but I think Rock will hear some too. Ultimately I think Rock will be cheered more because he's the guy starring in the top movie in the country that has only had a few matches in the last decade.
28. Do you think John Cena will turn heel at WrestleMania?
No I don't. However, if there is one thing that WWE could do to really create a lot of buzz and give them momentum going forward it's the heel turn of Cena. I just don't see it happening. I'd be very happy to be wrong on this one. Trust me on that.
29. Where do you think WrestleMania will rank in history compared to the others?
At best it can be a top five or top ten WrestleMania. At best means if the booking is great, if something memorable happens to get people talking and if there are three or four above average matches.
At worst it will be in the middle of the pack. I don't see it as a bottom ten WrestleMania (like WM27 was, for example). A lot of the early ones were below average in terms of quality with the exception of WM3. Generally speaking, since 2000 WrestleMania has been consistently good because the formula is there to have those really great matches and there are still a lot of talented people in the key matches.
I'm excited for it because of the name of the show, but I liked the build to last year more. Then again that was partly influenced by the fact that I was in Miami for it. What an awesome city that is.
That's it for me. For a simple column it still ended up being over 3,000 words! I thought it would be a nice way to cover some WrestleMania topics as the week begins.
You can look for more from me in the Raw Deal (not live this week), then our WrestleMania 29 preview on Thursday, then the live WrestleMania recap on Sunday and then next Monday it will be a live Raw Deal from me too. It's a busy week. Enjoy it.
John Canton - [email protected]