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WWE presents WrestleMania 29
April 7, 2013

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OOWrestling.com


I always get excited for WrestleMania season. But I'd be remiss if I didn't drop some baseball propaganda on you, in this spot. The baseball season is all of one week old, and I've already got my fandom whipped into midseason form, dagnabbit...

Then again, that's what happens when your favorite team opens with a series that's supposedly a "World Series Preview" according to some. And then you follow it up with an "NLCS Preview" according to some. And you win both series. The beloved Cincinnati Reds take 2 of 3 from the hated LA Angels, and follow it up by taking 2 of 3 from the treasonous Washington Expos.
These are things that make The Rick happy. But they are also things that you do not care about. So let's cut to the chase...
Here's what happened at the just-completed WrestleMania 29 pay-per-view:

  • On the Preshow: Miz beat Wade Barrett by submission to win the IC TItle, and absolutely nothing else of value happened. I mean it: one full hour, and they found time for a 4 minute match amidst an onslaught of video packages and brainless hype. Why I watched, I don't know. This was a show designed for people not planning to watch WM, in hopes of tricking them into making the buy. It was also a show designed to torment and annoy people already intending to get the PPV. Bleh.

  • Pre-Intro: A video package narrated by Chris Christie. If you missed the memo, a thing called Hurricane Sandy did much grievous damage to metro NYC. But it didn't dent the soul of NY and NJ. So now, the region is proud to welcome us all to WrestleMania, as part of the Festival of Healing. Does this mean that Paul McCartney is taking part in a Nirvana reunion again, tonight? No? Dammit. Who gives a shit about your stupid hurricane if it doesn't result in the best damned rock show ever?!?! [I keed, I keed. It sucks that it takes WWE to re-remind me, but the mind boggles at how still-broken parts of NY and NJ are 5 months after Sandy. Five f'n months.]

  • Regular Intro: past WM highlights, overly dramatic narration about history and greatness and resilience and fortitude and greatness and also greatness. WrestleMania is a big deal, yo. Perhaps even the single most important event in the history of all mankind. If you're gullible.

  • Hi, Hello, and Welcome... and we're live inside MetLife Stadium, in the part of New Jersey where everybody still just pretty much considers it New York. And I guess there will be no "America the Beautiful" this year, since we're straight into wrestling hype mode. Huh. At one point, WWE suposedly had a deal in place for Alicia Keys to do it. And even if she fell through, they DO realize they employ Lilian Garcia, right? She could knock that one out of the park with one vocal chord tied behind her back. Oh well....

    FWIW: the staging/set looks really cool. It's a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge, with the entrance stage/aisle underneath, and another stage and extra screens up on the "deck" of the faux bridge. The ring is covered by a lighting/sound rig, which is capped off by a giant Statue of Liberty. All around, a good looking presentation. Definitely my favorite since they started big leaguing it with outdoor stadium shows.

    Our announce crew are the now-standard PPV Trio of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and JBL. Cole takes a moment to introduce us to the Spanish Announce Team, too (and their surely-doomed table). And then it's time to get started...

  • The Shield (Ambrose/Rollins/Reigns) defeat Big Show/Sheamus/Randy Orton by pinfall, when Ambrose pins Randall. Allow me to get this out of my system early: my pants would like to congratulate Lilian for continuing her WM Streak of outstanding dresses. Kudos, and kudos again. The babyfaces enter first, each to his own music, but they wait at the top of the stage to walk to the ring together. Awwww, adorable. Then the Shield did their entrance, through the giant crowd, which was pretty cool.

    Quick bits of tagging and teamwork by the good guys, to establish that they are totally on the same page. Well, it's mostly teamwork with Orton/Sheamus, then Big Show tags himself in, seemingly with a bit of hostility. But as soon as Show decimates Ambrose -- including the "SHHHHH!" Chops -- Orton and Sheamus start giggling like schoolgirls, enjoying the beatdown.

    Too bad it doesn't last. In a unique turn of events, Big Show becomes your Face In Peril at the 4 minute mark, after a chopblock by Ambrose and some double-teaming. Who had money on Show playing Ricky Morton out of these three?

    Shield shows off their old school "cut the ring in half" tag skills for about 2-3 minutes, until Show can make a tag to Sheamus. House o' fire, leading to a Ten of Clubs for Rollins. Ambrose thinks he's getting clever by blind-tagging in, but Sheamus grabs him for another Ten of Clubs. Reigns breaks that up, and it turns into a Pier Sixer (well, Pier Fiver, with Show still sagging on the apron)... Rollins hits a big ass plancha, and it appears Sheamus will be ripe for the pickin's.

    But in the nick of time, Show returns to the brawl and hits a big spear on reigns. Sheamus is able to make a tag to Orton, but does so despite Show openly asking for the tag. Uh oh. But in the near term, Orton goes on a tear, including snatching Rollins out of mid-air for a top rope RKO. But Reigns breaks up that fall, and Ambrose joins in the beatdown.

    A quick 3-on1 ends with Ambrose hitting His Finisher ("That's his move!"), while Sheamus is still out of commission and Show is conscienciously objecting to get involved. Orton eats the pinfall. Shield is still undefeated. Unobjectionable 10-12 minute opener.

  • After the Match: Orton looks sort of annoyed that Show didn't make the save. Show looks sort of annoyed that Sheamus didn't tag him in at the end. Sheamus looks sort of out of it. So Show just punches him in the face to emphasize his annoyance. Orton tries to confront Show about this, but he eats another WMD. Show stands tall, to mild boos.

  • Filler, Pt. 1: a Cena/Rock video package. It's a real shame I do not yet have to pee.

  • Mark Henry defeats Ryback, via pinfall. Henry enters first, and the mere sound of his music gets a babyface pop. D'oh. Can't say as that I'm surprised. I'm not even a card carrying Wanker, and insofar as I care about this match, I kinda like Henry more, too. This could get interesting...

    Once things settle in, it's staring and jawing to start. Not really boos for Ryback, so that's good. But not really any cheers, either; mostly just "Goldberg" chants. When the two start trading right hands, the crowd immediately starts playing "Yay"/"Boo" with Henry getting the majority of the Yays. Once Henry wins the exchange, he is rewarded by a "Sex Shul Chock Lat" chant. Wacky. Wait, no: Wanky.

    Nominal heel beatdown, but there's no real flow, nor focus. Just big strike (punch, headbutt, whatever), then a pause, then another. And after about 2 minutes of that: a bearhug. Oy. The second worst of the alleged "submission" moves, after the abominable stretch. Ryback breaks that hold, only to get shoulder tackled over the top rope to a huge cheer. Henry, "That what I do!" Crowd, "YAY!"

    Another bearhug. Ryback escapes, only to eat a powerslam. Another bearhug. Now the crowd starts booing Henry. Heh. Ryback powers out and this time starts an actual rally to a tepid reaction. When he finally hits the Meathook, that gets a nice little pop, though.

    And then: Ryback goes for the Shellshock. He actually gets Henry up to oohs and ahhhhs, but Henry is able to reach out and grab the top rope, which throws the balance off, and Ryback's legs buckle, and Henry lands right on top of him. Whoops. The ref is there, and counts to three.

    Henry wins. Whoa, did not see that coming. Match was pretty much crap, but the finish got a rise out of me.

  • After the Match: trainers are tending to Ryback, and Henry thinks he might take advantage of the situation. But as soon as he lifts Ryback to his feet, Ryback springs to life, and drops Henry with a spinebuster. Then he goes for the Shellshock again... and this time, he hits it. Impressive, admittedly.

  • WWE Cares: Stephanie McMahon and Chris Christie are joined on the stage with some Special Olympics participants, by way of announcing the WWE is sponsoring said event in 2014. I'm not a big enough jerk to make fun of the Special Olympics, so instead I'll take a jab at Gov. Christie, who was wearing a bulky sweatshirt to hide the fact that he clearly has boobs even bigger than Steph's. Wait what do you mean you've heard that same basic joke 792 times in the past year? I'M A COMIC GENIUS, DAMMIT~! [Also: in all honesty, I like Chris Christie. He seems like a good man. A good and funny man, if his appearance on Letterman a while back is any indication.]

  • Kane and Daniel Bryan defeat Dolph Ziggler and Big E. Langston, via pinfall, to retain the Tag Team Titles. AJ's with the challengers, rocking a pair of tight shorts, despite the 52 degree weather. God bless her. Despite my prediction, Kaitlyn is NOT with the champs. At least, not yet.

    Hilarious opening moment, as Ziggler makes a big deal out of stealing a kiss from AJ, as Daniel Bryan looks on. OMG, IT'S GOING TO BE ANOTHER 18 SECOND THING! Ziggler actually finishes up with AJ and walks right into a front kick, but kicks out at 2, so it looks like this will be an actual match, afterall. Crowd (and I) loved the little homage, though.

    Ziggler/Bryan lasts for all of 30 seconds, before Langston tags in. Kane asks to be tagged in, too. Bryan obliges. Monster vs. Monster, which would be neat, if only we hadn't just gotten done with Henry/Ryback. Langston gets the better of it, and Ziggler eventually decides it's safe for him to tag back in. Then Langston taags back in. Then Ziggler. So, is this already our Face in Peril sequence?

    Maybe not... the heel beatdown gives way directly to End Game. After Bryan and Langston both interfere to break up near falls, things break down a bit... AJ tries to get involved by tossing Dolph the MitB briefcase, and then distracting the ref. But Ziggler whiffs on a swing with the case, and eats a chokeslam while Bryan takes out Langston with a dropkick. Bryan adds a top rope headbutt on DOlph, for emphasis, and the champs retain.

    Just like that. Huh. Short match, just 5-6 minutes, tops, with an abrupt ending. I can only assume this portends another (less schmucky) appearance by Dolph later in the night? [Ed. Note: Guess not.]

  • Fandango defeats Chris Jericho, via pinfall. Fandango gets the first "mega-entrance" of the night, as his regular schtick is augmented by about a dozen lady dancers, instead of his standard one. Jericho's entrance is merely augmented by a ton of "Y2J" chants.

    Fandango stalls by mincing about, but Jericho only puts up with about 30 seconds of that before charging. Jericho dominates the opening brawl, and Fandango keeps trying to run away from the fight, with little success. Less than 2 minutes in, Jericho hits a Codebreaker, but Fandango rolls out of the ring.
    So Jericho goes up top and hits a crazy ass top-rope-to-the-floor cross body. Jericho keeps on laying a beating on Fandango for a few more minutes, both in and out of the ring, until Fandango used the ol' "cat and mouse" trick where he got back in the ring first, and when Jericho followed, he surprised Jericho with a spinning kick to the mush.

    Fandango puts his advantage to use by delivering a combination of effete preening and chinlocks. One gets him some nice heat. The other annoys me deeply. Jericho fights out of the 2nd or 3rd chinlock, however, and has a nice high-energy rally, including another big cross body.

    But when Jericho goes for a corner charge, Fandango moves, and Jericho went shoulder first into the ring post. Fandango smelled blood, and hit an STO, and followed it up with his top rope legdrop.... but Jericho kicks out at 2 to a big cheer. Fandango's frustration, giving Jericho precious seconds to recover. So when Fandango goes up top again (for another legdrop), Jericho is able to catch him.

    Jericho sets Fandango up for a superplex, but with both men on the top rope, Fandango shoves Jericho off, and tries for another legdrop.... Jericho moves, and Fandango hits the mat hard. Jericho immediately goes for a Lionsault, and seems to counter when Fandango moves (Jericho landed on his feet). But when Jericho tries to follow with the Walls, his knee buckles, and Fandango's able to catch him with a small package for the surprise win. A replay shows that Jericho "tweaked his knee" when he lands on his feet after the Lionsault, which left him open to the schoolboy roll-up.

    Right around 10 minutes, and pretty solidly entertaining throughout, with a nicely crafted finish. Project Fandango is off to a big start, now let's see if Johnny Curtis can take advantage of the kindness Jericho just did for him.

  • Filler, Pt. 2: another Rock/Cena package. OK, I guess I could go for a pee. It's not a pressing sort of pee, but it beats sitting through this tripe.

  • Worse than Filler: Speaking of pee, it's Pee Diddy. Of Puff Daddy. Or Poop Duddy. Or, as I like to think of him, the man who possesses the greatest chasm between his level of fame and his actual talent. Or maybe I'm just a "rockist" (a supposedly dirty word I didn't even know existed until last week, used by critics and other idiots to describe people who think music involves picking up and instrument and playing it, not just doing glorified karaoke). I'd feel bad, but Dave Grohl is also accused of being a "rockist." That's company that I'm happy to keep.

  • Alberto del Rio defeats Jack Swagger, via submission, to retain the World Heavyweight Title. Zeb Colter prefaces the match with a promo that basically repeats the standard right wing Tea Party rhetoric that we just saw in a lengthy video promo. Oy. Then del Rio entered, with two notable happenings: (1) Ricardo set a new personal best for the "AlbertOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO," and (2) del Rio was rocking a new bathrobe, clearing in homage to Damien Sandow (either that, or it was just an unfortunate wardrobe choice).
    TANGENT: so here's what's I don't like about WrestleMania: by the time this match gets started, it's been over 20 minutes since the end of the last match. Filler, Diddy, video package for this match, pre-match promo that just re-does the stuff from the video package, and FINALLY it's time for actual content. I got nothing against 3 minute piss breaks, but c'mon: this is a show we paid $60 for, so you canNOT get away with 20 minutes of worthless filler, WWE.  Please, no more. I tap. The notion that you have to produce WM for non-fans is a fallacy. Just because WM gets quadruple the buys of any other PPV doesn't mean there are non-fans watching; WM also gets one-quarter as many viewers as your weekly TV shows, so my guess is we're all up to speed and desiring a plain ol' Good Wrestling Show, even if some of us don't buy every PPV.

    Bell rings, and del Rio gets off to a quick start until Zeb manages to hook his leg and trip him up. Less than 60 seconds in, and Swagger's in command, with a nominal focus on the ankle/lower leg that Zeb attacked. Which makes perfect sense, since Ankle Lock.

    In fact, the first attempted Ankle Lock comes at all of 4 minutes into the match. Alberto is able to counter it, and his flurry leads to the rope-assisted Backstabber he's been using, recently. Two count. German Suplex. Two count. Swagger with a rally and a power bomb. Two count.
    And while all this action is happening, the crowd is half dead and half chanting "We Want Ziggler." Whoops.

    Swagger manages to cinch in the ankle lock, but Alberto does a nifty bit of counter-wrestler to reverse into the cross-arm breaker.... but then it's Swagger's turn to counter, as he re-reverses it back into an ankle lock. This time, del Rio can't counter, and just barely manages to make it to the ropes for a break. But the damage is done: can Alberto stage a reasonable offense on one leg?

    He's gonna give it the old college try, at least, and even hits a less-strenuous/dumbed-down version of his run-up enzuigiri, which only gets a two thanks to Zeb's interference. When Alberto gets out of the ring to threaten Zeb, Swagger's able to recover, and eventually attack del Rio from behind... but when he throws Alberto back into the ring, there's a quick exchange and reversal that ends with Swagger locked into the cross-arm breaker.

    He fights valiantly, but taps out. Del Rio retains in about 10 minutes. Then he celebrates, and then we slam cut to a National Guard ad. NO ZIGGLER FOR YOU~! Boo. Seriously, I'm not even a Wanker, and: Boo. Ziggler promised to cash-in by WM, and now you've made him a liar, WWE. This is not a workrate-loving, Metlzer-fellating weenis saying this: this is me, a guy who merely enjoys basic continuity and temporal causation. If I can remember February, WWE, I think it's fair for me to expect you to, too.

    Performance-wise, you can't point to anything these two did wrong. It was good. But something was lacking, sizzle-wise. Or maybe it's just that 10 minute matches will never feel substantial, and if they'd tried to go longer than 10 minutes, the fans (who clearly only wanted to see Ziggler win the title) wouldn't have gone along with it. Probably the biggest Catch-22 on the card, so I won't complain about the end result.

  • Undertaker defeats CM Punk, via pinfall, to extend his streak to 21-0. As expected, Living Colour playing Punk to the ring was awesome. Punk (resplendent in new t-shirt, and joined by Paul Heyman and the Urn) clearly enjoyed the Bonus Rock, and the band even got a better-than-I'd-have-expected sound mix. Crowd seemed to be 80% pro-Punk (or pro-Living Colour) at this juncture.

    Also as expected, Taker doing nothing more than his basic awesome entrance was awesome. Because I'm a sucker that way. Or maybe just because it just awesome that way. You decide. Forget the 20 minute waste of time earlier: THIS is how you do superfluous fluffery, WWE. Make it about the wrestling, and make it cool. Not complicated.

    Once Taker got to the ring, Punk started juggling the Urn, and basically miming (Broadly) the many ways that he is a total prick. But the stalling doesn't last long, and Punk joins the fight, and actually gives as good as he gets in the opening moments. Crowd reaction is no longer 80% pro-Punk, but it's still mixed.

    As the brawl spills outside, Taker assumes control, whipping Punk into various pieces of furniture, including the ring posts, the ring barricades, and the poor, poor Spanish Announce Table. When Taker's had enough of that, he lays Punk on the apron, and hits that sick Apron Legdrop (which I've always thought HAD to hurt him as much as it hurts the other guy).

    Back in the ring, and the fans are lively. It's about 50/50 with an "Un Der Take Her" vs. "See Emm Punk" chant. More telling: Taker goes up top and hits a sweet Old School Ropewalk, and a vocal minority BOO him.

    Then, in a WM Moment for your video collection, there's a quick grapple, and Punk gains control, and immediately hits an Old School of his own. Dick. The vocal majority boo the shit out of him, but after he nails it, the minority is back with a "See Em Punk" chant. I have to admit: I'm torn, too. Not because I want Punk to win (I'm mark enough to admit that I want the Streak to continue), but because I just loves me a Magnificent Bastard.

    After the dick move, Punk retains control for a bit, just plain taking it to the Phenom for several minutes (including a big ass cross body to the floor as a highlight). Emphasis seems to be on Taker's shoulder/neck. Ringside mics pick up a lot of Heyman during this beatdown, and his mantra is "one second away" every time Punk scores a near fall. I'm having flashbacks to Heyman's days as a WWF commentator.

    Punk's dominance ends when he tries to go for Old School again. Taker yanks him off and crotches him on the top rope. Heyman got involved, and interrupted Taker's rally, however. This allows Punk to regain control, and hit the Macho Man Elbow. But it only gets a two.

    And when Punk tries to follow up with a GTS, Taker sneaks out the backdoor and hits a chokeslam out of nowhere. But that only gets 2... frustration setting in. Both men up, but woozy, so they start trading blows (crowd plays "Yay"/"Boo" and it's still 50/50). Big spot where Taker drops Punk for Snake Eyes, but Punk blocks it, and catches Taker with a dropkick for a close near fall.

    Brawl spills outside, and PUnk begins prepping the Spanish Announce Table for something.... but he takes too much time, and Taker catches him... but Punk manages to counter at the last second, and lays Taker out on the table.... then Punk goes up to the top rope... and Punk flies, landing a SICK Macho Man Mega Elbow onto Taker on the table... the table does not break.

    I honeslty don't know who got the worst of it, as Punk landed awkwardly.... but for storyline purposes, Taker got the worst of it, and Punk is perfectly happy to take a count-out win. Anything to end the Streak. But Taker makes it back into the ring at 9. So close. Punk sulks briefly, but then goes to attack.... and Taker was playing possum: as Punk reaches down, Taker cinches in the Hell's Gate. But Punk is able to reverse it into the Anaconda Vice.

    Taker won't tap, but Punk starts sapping the life out of him to the point where he tries holding Taker's shoulders down for the three-count.... and that's when Taker hits the Greatest Zombie Sit Up of All Time. Awesome. The visual of Taker sitting up to stare death bullets at Punk (while Punk looked like a scared little girl) was perfect.

    Punk releases the hold out of panic, and a quick bit of triple reversey ends with Taker landing a chokeslam. Two count.

    Whew. Back and forth. More "Yay"/"Boo," this time with Taker getting 75% of the Yays. Nice. As they are trading blows, one of Taker's elbows hits the ref, and the ref is out.  Taker has a quick rally, and goes for the Last Ride Powerbomb, but with the ref out, Heyman tosses the Urn to Punk, who whaps Taker in the skull with it.

    Punk makes the cover, mocking Taker's Crossed Arms Cover, and the ref SLOOOOOOWWWWWWLY crawls over to make the count. It's a 2. A long-ass 2, but a 2 nonetheless. Punk is briefly annoyed, but then remembers he's Lord of the Assholes. So he gets up and does the Taker Throat Slit Gesture.

    Punk goes for the GTS. Taker reverses into a Tombstone, Punk re-reverses, and finally Taker  re-re-reverses into the Tombstone and nails it. One, two, and twenty-one-and-oh. At this point, I'm pretty sure 95% of the fans cheer, and only 5% of the Wankiest Wankers are still pretending to be upset.

    Somewhere around 20-22 minutes, and just really good throughout. I dare say excellent. It had a good pace, all things considered (Taker's old, and Punk's dealing with nagging injuries), and it also had some seriously nice highspots, plus great "character" moments (like Punk mocking Taker's mannerisms and the aforementioned Zombie Sit Up of Awesomeness). That's (sports) entertainment. You want to youtube this one, assuming you like things that are good.

  • After the Match: Taker got the Urn back, and celebrated with it before walking out and giving a final single fist salute at the top of the stage.

  • Filler, Pt. 3: seriously, another Rock/Cena package? Ugh. I'm still a young man, WWE. My prostate is healthy. Two piss breaks in a four hour show is plenty for me.

  • Triple H defeats Brock Lesnar, via pinfall, in a No Holds Barred Match. Shawn Michaels enters first. You know something I just realized? WWE clearly put a lot of effort into that video package for this match (which they just forced me to watch for the 3rd time in 48 hours, which is not appreciated), and there's not one mention of HBK. Was his participation that late of an addition? Or is it a misstep by the WWE Production Monkeys?

    Lesnar enters second, with Heyman. Riddle me this: how is it, after a full year back in WWE, that Lesnar has not gotten a new entrance theme that isn't -- you know? -- something that sounds like it was put together 12 years ago on a Casio MusicTron5000. It does not suit him.

    An overlong dramatic pause enters third. And finally gives way to HHH. What were they trying to do there? Milk a "Trip Uhl Aitch" chant out of the crowd, or something? Oh, wait.... I see, now. They needed the time to set up a special entrance set for HHH, made up of skulls and furs and whatnot. Note to WWE: dorks who think that shit looks cool are watching "Game of Thrones" tonight, not WrestleMania.  The rest of us will consider it to be just barely a notch or so above HHH's memorably lame WM22 entrance.

    The two waste no time landing bombs. Big hooks, stiff jabs, knees to the gut, et cetera. Back and forth for a few moments before it spills outside, and Brock gets the better of it. But when Lesnar tries to introduce a steel chair (legal, as this is a no holds barred match), the delay is just enough to let HHH recover and dump Lesnar over the ringside barricade and onto his head.

    Back in the ring, HHH is in control, and was getting set to use Lesnar's chair, when Heyman stole it away. Jerk. HHH doesn't let it deter him.... more HHH on offense until the match spills outside again, and Brock counters an whip-into-the-steps, and instead lands a RUDE belly-to-belly suplex on the floor. He follows up by suplexing HHH onto the Spanish Announce Table.

    THIS time the table breaks. Look at HHH abusing his backstage clout! Making the table screw Punk and Taker, so it can obey HIS orders! [/tinfoilhatguy]

    As a bonus, Lesnar re-suplexes HHH onto the remnants of the table. I like it. Lesnar is sporting a shit-eating grin as he surveys his handiwork. He also sends Michaels scurrying away, and tosses HHH back into the ring to toy with him some more.

    Weird crowd at this point. Dead silent, but not grumbly bored silent. So it's either "quietly respecting Brock's badassery" silence, or "quietly awaiting a major twist" silence. Brock really is looking impressive here, adding two more sick belly-to-belly suplexes. Then a German. It's at this point that Cole mentions the "hush fallen over the crowd," as HHH's kick-outs are not getting any cheers.

    HHH taking the old Flair Flip over the top rope does get some ohhhs and ahhhhs, and then Lesnar wastes time scaring HBK off again. This allows HHH to score a big move by tossing Brock over the barricade and into the front row.  But as soon as it gets back into the ring, Lesnar counters HHH into a belly-to-back suplex for a near fall.

    Lesnar gets briefly distracted by HBK, and ends up tackling him off the apron. This allows HHH to hit a spinebuster, but Brock powers out of a Pedigree attempt. Michaels, looking for revenge, actually gets into the ring (remember, No Holds Barred, so No DQ), but eats an F-5.  HBK, neutralized.

    While Brock was distracted, HHH had time to go under the ring to grab Sweet Lady Sledge.... but Brock wasn't THAT distracted. Before HHH can use the sledgehammer, Brock tackles him, and the sledge goes flying out of the ring. Brock's in control again, and grinning and mugging for the camera again.

    Fight spills outside, and Brock starts using the ring steps as a weapon, both by whipping HHH into them, and then whapping HHH in the head with them. Brock even tosses one segment of the steps into the ring, hitting HHH in the skull with them again.

    Brock's grinning and mugging continues for a bit until HHH just up and bitchslaps him. Brock no-likey. So Brock cinches in the kimura arm-lock (the one that "broke the arms" of both HHH and HBK last year), in hopes of doing to HHH's arm what that one guy on Louisville did to his own leg last week. But at the last second, HHH reverses it with a quasi-spinebuster.

    HHH decided this was no time to be a gentleman, so he just punched Lesnar in the scrotum. That'll work. HHH finds a steel chair, and whaps Lesnar in the arm and shoulder with it, including a sort of "one man con-chair-to" where he laid Lesnar's arm acorss the in-ring steel steps and then hit it.

    After decimating the arm, HHH then did the most logical thing he could: he cinched in Lesnar's own kimura lock on the injured arm. Heyman tried to get in to the ring to break it up, but that's when HBK made his mireculous recovery, and he superkicked Heyman into next week.

    The kimura is still locked in, but Brock's still fighting it. Brock actually goes for pure power, and lifts HHH up (while HHH is hanging from his arm) and drops him into the turnbuckle. HHH breaks the hold, but only for seconds. Then he recinches it. Lesnar  picks him up again, the same way, and this time drops him onto the in-ring steel steps. HHH breaks the hold, but again, only for a few seconds before cinching it back in.

    Lesnar goes for the lift-and-drop one more time, but this time, HHH counters, and turns it into a DDT onto the in-ring steel steps. Nice. HHH surveys the scene, and decides to grab Sweet Lady Sledge.

    Sledgehammer to Lesnar's temple.

    Pedigree onto the ring steps.

    One, two, and three. Triple H is not retired. Except for the part where he's been 97% retired since 2011. Ahem.

    Decent 25 minute match, but it definitely seemed to lack the intensity or immediacy of their SummerSlam match. You won't be putting this one in your video vault, but it's not like it was for a lack of effort or anything. It was just a sort of half-assed storyline build-up combined with the "we already saw it last summer" thing.

  • Hall of Fame Presentation: after a quick recap of last night's induction ceremony (surprise revelation: Trish is pregnant! the next generation of Stratusfaction is due to arrive in September), the entire Class of 2013 is introduced to the the live crowd. Hey, look, it's "Stone Cold" Bruno Sammartino!

    Also: I make fun of you, Wankers, but thanks for booing the shit out of Trump.

    Also also: I just looked at the clock. Sorry about yer damned luck, Mixed Tag Match. You're getting bumped. Gee, I wonder why. It's definitely not because there was too much wrestling on this show.

  • John Cena defeats The Rock, via pinfall, to win the WWE Title. Cena enters first, and it's about 75% boos. Rock enters second, and we have ourselves a fan favorite. The boxing-style ring-intros seem to bear this ratio out, though the Cena fans -- even if in the minority -- made sure that Rock got audible boos.

    Back and forth feeling out to start is more of the same. Rock is the nominal fan favorite, but as they trade side headlocks and shoulderblocks, it's almost like the fans are more interested in booing the guy they hate than they are in cheering the other guy. This.... this can't be a good thing, right? If people are just here to watch Cena lose, and NOT to watch Rock win (and vice versa), that's really not a sustainable formula.

    But we'll see. The way fans came around by the end of Taker/Punk leads me to suspect that they'll come around again here.

    After a good 3-4 minutes of the back and forth feeling out, crowd has settled into the "hushed silence" of the last match. Huh. Then again, Cena's working his third side headlock of the match, which isn't exactly thirlling.

    Announcers (mostly JBL) come up with a way to spin it: "This is such a big stage, so both guys are playing it safe. They don't want to be the first to make a mistake." Which works for those of us at home, but not so much for the live crowd. So when Rock "rallies" and opts for a sleeperhold, they start to grumble a bit. There's ALMOST a "boring" chant, but it fizzles when Cena powers out of the sleeper, and tries to rally.

    Rock puts an end to that by countering a charge by Cena with a Samoan Drop. Two count. Cena re-rallies with a PerfectPlex for a 2 counts. They try for some "Yay"/"Boo" action, but the crowd's not ready to buy it, yet. A display of genuinely nice counter wrestling breaks out, and Rock finally locks in a SharpShooter.

    Cena manages to power out after a few moments, and starts up his Five Moves of Doom. But he takes too long posing for the Five Knuckle Shuffle (hey, Sparky, didn't you just cut a giant promo about not making that same mistake again this year?), and Rock pops up and has designs on a Rock Bottom. But Cena counters.

    And Cena rallies again; this time, he lands the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He tires for the F-U, but Rock worms out and  gets Cena in position for a Rock Bottom.... but Cena counters that and rolls through into SSTF. Rock escapes. Grapple. Rock Bottom. Kick out. Grapple. F-U. Kick out.

    Whew. Both men down. Cena first to his feet, and goes up to the top rope for his big legdrop. Rock dodges it. Rock hits a Spinebuster. Rock decides it's time for the People's Elbow. Hits it. But before Rock can follow up, Cena rolls out of the ring. Rock does not want to win by count-out

    So Rock hoists Cena into the ring. They go for "Yay"/"Boo" and this time the crowd's invested. It's at least 75% Yays for Rock.  Rock wins the exchange. Rock hits the Rock Bottom. But Cena kicks out at 2. Rock, getting cocky, decides to go for the People's Elbow again....

    And Cena pops up and catches him. And hits the F-U.... flashbacks to last year's Mania! But Rock kicks out at 2.

    Both men down. Both men back up. Another round of "Yay"/"Boo"... Cena gets the better of it, and after a quick exchange, hits his own Rock Bottom out of nowhere to a huge pop. But Rock kicks out at 2. Cena is frustrated. But saavy: he gets a sassy look on his face, and suddenly starts setting up for the People's Elbow (despite claims that he'd never make that mistake again).

    Cena runs the ropes. Rock kips up. Cena is ready for it, as it was all a trap. Instead of running into a Rock Bottom, Cena catches Rock with an F-U. But Rock worms out at the last second. ANother grapple. Cena tries for the Rock Bottom again. Rock counters. Another grapple. And this time, when Cena tries for the F-U, he hits it.

    And this time, the ref counts to 3. Somewhere around 22-24 minutes, and I'd rate it a notch or two better than last year, but probably not as good as Rock's first match against Punk, if that helps you decide whether or not to youtube this one.

  • After the Match: Cena gets the belt, to mild boos. Then Rock shakes his hand and hugs him, in an attempted "pass the torch" moment that the crowd didn't really care for. They cut Cena's music, and change it to Rocky's, and Cena actually leaves the ring.

    Which is how WrestleMania 29 ended with the Rock going around ringside and making nice-nice with a bunch of friends and family while his music played. Even though he lost. I'd say this makes me feel like this might really have been Rock's last match (despite WM30 rumors about Rock vs. Brock), but they did this same thing with HHH after he lost to Brock at SummerSlam last year, and look how long it took him to un-do that faux "farewell" moment.

    Actually, I lied. Right at the very, very end of the show, Rock joined Cena at the top of the stage, and they embraced again while Cena's music played for the final 3.2 seconds of the PPV. Maybe 3.3. But definitely not 3.4. He's the champ again, but let's not go overboard, right?

    Fade to black at 10:52pm (eastern)...

And so ends the show.
And I can't say a whole lot bad about it. But I also can't say a whole lot good about it. It's just.... I dunno. You know?
I think the guys working the matches stepped up and delivered for the most part. I think WWE hamstrung some of them in terms of poor build-up, and I think the overly smart/entitled nature of the WM crowd sapped some energy from spots in the HHH/Lesnar and Rock?Cena matches that really should have been present. But there wasn't a single stinker of a match on the whole show. Not even Henry/Ryback.

That's saying something.
Unfortunately, while all the matches had some redeeming value, they also added up to less than 2 hours of a 4 hour show. Time management was an issue, causing me to think that I'd have had more fun with WrestleMania if I'd had a DVR time-shift. And WWE, PEOPLE DO NOT PAY $60 TO FAST FORWARD AN HOUR'S WORTH OF FILLER. I've said my piece about this in the past (including just 7 or 8 scroll-ups ago in this very recap), so I won't bore you with more ranting, other than to say: in my preview, I was looking for ways to put more wrestling on the show, since it seemed thin, and here we are after the show, and WWE had to scratch one of the existing matches because there wasn't time.
Taker/Punk was flat out awesome. Youtube it. Save it. Cherish it for decades. And HHH/Lesnar and Cena/Rock were both better than the crowd gave them credit for, too, but that's not saying much. Nothing else really stood out as PPV-worthy, much less WM-worthy.
Maybe I'd feel more charitable if I hadn't sat through the youtube pre-show. WM29 was definitely 3 hours of show, wrapped up in a 4 hour bag.... but the way I experienced it, it was 3 hours of show, wrapped up in a FIVE hour bag. Perhaps that's the source of my excess of saltiness?

Combine the massive amounts of wasteful blubber with the fact that the high spot of the show happened 2/3rds of the way through (resulting in a slight anticlimax of a main event, which is the last -- and longest-lasting -- taste left in your mouth), and I think you have a recipe for The Rick's Disappointment.
If my feelings change upon reflection/hindsight, I'm sure I'll report back to you soon enough. TIll then, thanks for your patronage, and double thanks to those of you who take the time to thank me (via a donation of a few bucks -- or many bucks, the amoutn is entirely up to you -- to OO, using paypal).
Later on, kids....


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RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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