WrestleMania 28 was a record-setting show that turned out to be one of the best Manias in recent memory, but WrestleMania 29 isn’t exactly headed in that direction.
While there is excitement surrounding this year’s WrestleMania, just like there is every year, there’s also a whole lot of doubt, anger and frustration with the way the pay-per-view appears to be shaping up.
In 2012, WrestleMania 28 was such a highly anticipated show because it featured one of the biggest matches in history, the first-ever bout between The Rock and John Cena, as well as a must-see WWE Championship match between Chris Jericho and CM Punk and the “End of an Era” Hell in a Cell match featuring The Undertaker vs. Triple H.
WrestleMania 29, however, doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere near the buzz that last year’s show did.
Even though the biggest PPV of the year will take place from a fantastic pro wrestling market in New York City and New Jersey, the build-up to the show and the show’s card itself have many thinking that it will be a major disappointment.
Don’t be surprised if those people are right.
WrestleMania 28 thrived in large part because of all the excitement surrounding the show’s three biggest matches—HHH/Taker, Punk/Y2J and, in particular, Rock/Cena—but WrestleMania 29 is once again being headlined by The Rock vs. Cena. This time around, however, it doesn’t seem so special.
Much of the appeal of last year’s Rock/Cena match was that it had been built up for more than a year with very little physical involvement between the two until they finally got their hands on each other at WrestleMania 28. This year, it’s a match we saw coming from 100 miles away, but it will only get about five weeks of real build before it happens.
Part of the problem with that match happening for the second straight year is that—although it will draw because of the star power of both men—there doesn’t seem to be much desire among the fans to see it. The simple fact that it’s a rematch is a big reason why, but it’s also because many felt like the first match fell far short of its very lofty expectations.
Of course, there’s something else the WWE needs to consider with The Rock vs. Cena: how the crowd reacts to it. The NY/NJ crowd is undoubtedly going to be anti-Cena, but knowing that The Rock is probably bolting the company immediately after the PPV, who’s to say they won’t crap all over The Rock, too?
That’s going to be a major factor in whether this match succeeds. If the NY crowd can turn on Goldberg and Brock Lesnar, it can just as easily turn on The Rock and Cena.
Unfortunately for the WWE, though, The Rock vs. Cena isn’t the only match that has the potential to disappoint.
There’s also the not-so-anticipated rematch between Lesnar and Triple H—a completely unnecessary match in which the outcome has no real effect on the WWE’s long-term future. No one seems to be into this match at all because it features two part-timers who faced each other just six months ago in a match that, quite frankly, was only OK.
Lesnar vs. Triple H at SummerSlam 2012 resulted in a big pay-per-view buyrate, but the match itself was slow and boring, which has left a sour taste in the mouths of many fans who have no real interest in seeing it again. Although both guys can go, sometimes opponents just don’t have the right chemistry, and judging by their last match, that appears to be true for Triple H and Lesnar.
Yet, much to the surprise of no one, we’re getting this rematch at WrestleRematches 29—I mean WrestleMania 29—with a super predictable ending of Triple H getting the win and getting revenge on Lesnar for attacking his father-in-law, Mr. McMahon. Zzzzz.
Another match that will take place at WrestleMania is Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Surprisingly, this match has generated a ton of buzz and interest for a number of reasons. Mainly, Swagger and his new manager Zeb Colter have been widely criticized for having a “racist” gimmick, and Swagger also recently found himself in hot water after getting arrested for DUI and marijuana possession.
Many fans are surprised that this match is still set for Mania—at least for now—because of Swagger’s arrest and also because it just doesn’t “feel” like a WrestleMania-worthy World Title match.
While I enjoy seeing new guys in the spotlight, as is the case here, those who say that Swagger vs. ADR is not what you would expect out of a Mania World Title match do have a valid point. Although ADR has done a fantastic job of getting over as a babyface, Swagger returned only about a month ago after years of mediocrity and jobbing and had even spent five months off of TV altogether.
Despite all the publicity and media attention that Swagger’s new gimmick has received, many question whether he’s been pushed too soon or, especially after his arrest, if he deserves to be on the WrestleMania card at all. It looks like he’s going to get the Mania match after all, and many will be disappointed by that.
A number of guys are viewed as much bigger stars and are going to be at the bottom of the WrestleMania card (or perhaps even off the card altogether), when the widespread train of thought is that they should be in a major match on the show.
Purely from a wrestling standpoint, Swagger vs. Del Rio has the potential to be a really good match, but it lacks the star power you would expect from a WrestleMania World Title bout—and that’s why the match is bound to be disappointing for many.
As far as announced or expected matches, Swagger vs. ADR, Rock vs. Cena and Triple H vs. Lesnar are all we can bank on so far. That, in and of itself, is a bit of problem, too.
We have just five more Raw episodes until WrestleMania, but many of the WWE’s biggest stars don’t have clear-cut feuds lined up as of yet. It looks like we could get The Shield vs. Randy Orton, Sheamus and (insert someone here), but it also looks like Sheamus might be fighting Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental title.
So, will The Undertaker be back? What is CM Punk going to do on the show?
What about Team Hell No? How about Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, Chris Jericho or Big Show? Where will all these guys fall on the WrestleMania card?
The fact that we don’t know—or at least have some idea—is a bit scary because we’re so close to WrestleMania now. Yet, there seem to be many questions about who will wrestle whom on the show, and the WWE simply doesn’t seem to have all the answers yet.
A big part of the appeal of WrestleMania is the build to the show, but when the feuds and rivalries aren’t so clear, the build is going to suffer.
With just five Raw shows left until we get to the biggest PPV of the year, there are more questions than answers and more rematches set than first-ever meetings between two major stars.
If that doesn’t change, WrestleMania 29 won’t be a big success. It will be a huge disappointment.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!