Vince McMahon and WWE present WrestleMania 29
WrestleMania 29 came in like lightning and left like a drizzle. WWE presented their biggest event of the year tonight in front of more than 80,000 live fans and millions around the world. This is WWE’s opportunity to put an exclamation mark on the past year and set the stage for what is coming. From the onset of the night, it was clear that WWE’s long-term creative vision is severely lacking.
Here are the top five failures that account for WrestleMania 29 being an extremely disappointing event. (Not counting the performance by Diddy, because the awfulness of that performance speaks for itself.)
Randy Orton or Sheamus should have turned heel at WrestleMania
How many times will Big Show turn heel during his WWE career? The entire backstory of the six-man tag team match between The Shield and the team of Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show was that fans did not know if Big Show could coexist with his fan-favorite partners.
Creatively, The Shield was correct to go over with the win. The members need it to further their careers. However, the Big Show heel turn at the end of match serves no purpose. Randy Orton and Sheamus are plodding along within their current roles in WWE as fan favorites who are no longer Championship contenders on a regular basis.
What does it say about Orton and Sheamus that wrestlers like Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio are wrestling in higher profile matches? A heel turn of Orton or Sheamus would have made much more sense and served to further the career of a younger star.
Mark Henry won a match that only serves to bury Ryback
WWE spent months building up the character of Ryback, placing him in main event matches with CM Punk and John Cena. He dominated superstars on Monday Night Raw week in and week out. Tonight was Ryback’s first WrestleMania moment on the grandest stage of all. His opponent was Mark Henry, an established veteran on the cusp of retirement.
So how does WWE end the match? With Ryback losing cleanly, of course, and then delivering what the fans wanted all along (Shell Shock) after the match when it didn’t matter any more. Shame on the booking team for making Ryback take a backseat to Henry. Even if they have a rematch next month where Ryback is victorious, no one will remember. People remember WrestleMania, and WWE buried Ryback tonight.
WrestleMania is supposed to be the culmination of the year’s most intriguing and talked-about storylines. WWE typically gives itself four weeks to build up a PPV event. WrestleMania had seven weeks. With almost twice as much time, WWE failed on providing undercard stories that would captivate fans' interest. In fact, all but one of the undercard matches was over within 80 minutes of a 240-minute show.
WWE’s lack of importance placed on non-heavyweight titles, tag teams and rising youngsters has led to top-heavy cards that rely on aging or part-time wrestlers to carry a show. As good as an Undertaker moment at WrestleMania is, there are only so many left.
Pre-match videos for most of the undercard simply took viewers back to the previous Monday Night Raw and showed a few seconds of why a match was taking place. Think back to past WrestleMania cards where viewers watched classic IC Title matches, TLC Tag Title matches and grudge matches between rising stars like Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio and more. This year’s event did not have any of those matches or moments—a huge failure on the development end of long-term creative planning.
One of the only up-and-coming stars on the WWE roster that fans are genuinely invested in is Dolph Ziggler. He consistently gets poorly booked and underused, often taking losses in televised matches. WrestleMania should have been his chance to shine.
Not only should Ziggler and Langston won the tag titles from Kane and Daniel Bryan in an earlier match, but Ziggler should have also cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase after Alberto Del Rio defeated Jack Swagger later in the night. Ziggler leaving WrestleMania as both tag team and World Champion would have catapulted him to stardom in the current WWE landscape.
Instead, he took the pin in the tag team match loss and never cashed in his briefcase. Unless WWE is saving the briefcase moment for a title change on Monday Night Raw tomorrow night, this was a complete waste of talent and potential.
The Rock and John Cena fail to create a WrestleMania moment
John Cena's heel turn...didn't happen.
An electrifying, fast-paced match that was better than last year...didn't happen.
A swerve at the end and a huge creative surprise...didn't happen.
Instead, fans were treated to a pretty standard Monday Night Raw-quality main event with Rock and Cena hitting their high spots, working an awkwardly paced match and leaving everyone wanting more at the end.
If this was the end of the Rock's return to the ring, he leaves on a low note. His matches against CM Punk and John Cena were average at best, and he did nothing to set any younger stars up for main event runs. If this wasn't the end and the rumored Rock vs. Brock Lesnar match happens at SummerSlam this August, we will just be delaying these sentiments another five months.
Every classic WrestleMania has a defining moment. What was tonight's? A clean John Cena victory? As Michael Cole let us know, tonight was the fourth time we've seen that at a WrestleMania. It's nothing new. Hundreds of millions in dollars of revenue were brought to New York City and New Jersey tonight. Fans poured their money, time and energy into the WWE product. On the grandest stage of them all, WWE let their fans down.
WrestleMania 29 will go down in history as one of the most disappointing ever.