As is usually the case, WrestleMania XXIX is all about the main events. With star-studded bouts like The Rock vs. John Cena, The Undertaker vs. CM Punk and Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar on tap, it's very easy to look past some of the matches that are slated to go on earlier in the night.
The WWE hasn't done a great job building the midcard feuds compared to the main event-level ones, but many of the performers involved are good enough to make up for the creative team's shortcomings. Many fans have been pretty critical of the WrestleMania XXIX card due to predictable main events and a thrown-together undercard. However, there are reasons for optimism.
Here are the top three midcard matches that stand the best chance of impressing the WWE Universe and ultimately stealing the show at WrestleMania XXIX.
Ryback vs. Mark Henry
If you're looking for a technical showcase, go watch a Ring of Honor match. Ryback and Mark Henry aren't going to do any chain wrestling, and they won't lock horns for much more than 10 minutes, but they are both incredibly entertaining in their own ways. Their feud has been simple thus far, as they are essentially trying to prove who is stronger. Things have been quite even, but WrestleMania will bring a resolution of some kind.
The smart money is on Ryback since he is a rising star, and Henry is a veteran. Ryback hasn't won a meaningful pay-per-view match yet and could really use some momentum, so he will almost certainly come out on top. Even if the match is predictable to some degree, the true draw is the fact that both men have the ability to execute incredible feats of strength.
The one spot everyone wants to see is Ryback getting Henry up for Shell Shocked. As strong as Ryback is, I doubt that he'll be able to do it organically. If Ryback can somehow get Henry on the ropes and take him from there, though, it is a definite possibility. Whatever the case, fans will likely be talking about the Ryback vs. Henry match at the end of the night.
The Shield vs. Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show
Although The Shield hasn't been as prominently featured on WWE programming lately due to the main event feuds heading into WrestleMania, I still consider the trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns to be among the most entertaining aspects of the company right now. The Shield has made life miserable for Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show for the past several weeks, leading them to form an unlikely alliance in order to take down The Shield.
Orton, Sheamus and Show have been dysfunctional to some degree, but they have managed to get the better of The Shield quite often as of late. Even so, The Shield is favored to win at WrestleMania. It wouldn't make sense for the group to lose after scoring a big victory over Sheamus, Ryback and John Cena at Elimination Chamber unless the plan is to break The Shield up, but I can't see that happening quite yet.
The Shield has had a couple of pay-per-view matches thus far, and they have both been excellent. There is no reason to expect anything different at WrestleMania. Aside from the match quality itself, it will be interesting to see how Orton, Sheamus and Big Show lose. The smart money is on one of them going rogue. While it appears as though Big Show could be that guy, an Orton heel turn is long overdue and could come to fruition.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger
The match between Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger at WrestleMania XXIX will be contested with the World Heavyweight Championship on the line, but it is an undercard match, regardless. The world title match has actually opened WrestleMania the past two years, and I can definitely see that being true once again this year. No matter where Del Rio and Swagger are placed on the card, though, I am looking forward to their match due to the unpredictability and the potential in-ring work.
Fans seem to have differing opinions about the quality of the Del Rio vs. Swagger feud, but I have enjoyed it for the most part. Even though it has had its ups and downs, it has been in place since Elimination Chamber and is the longest-running angle on the card. The WWE has actually been committed to Swagger vs. Del Rio, and I'm excited to see how everything plays out.
The obvious choice is Del Rio winning so Dolph Ziggler can cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase at some point, but I can just as easily see Swagger winning only for him to drop the title back to Del Rio or drop it to another face, such as Chris Jericho, before Ziggler ultimately cashes in. Del Rio vs. Swagger may not have the same cachet as the main event matches, but it is something different, and it is among the most uncertain bouts on the entire card.