While WrestleMania XXIX was largely about established stars from the past and present shining on the big stage, there were a number of wrestlers who received their first opportunity to perform at the industry's biggest event, and many of them made the most of it.
WrestleMania is the perfect venue for superstars to be noticed as all eyes from across the world are on them. Countless legendary figures in the business have used WrestleMania as a springboard to future success. It seems as though some of today's rising stars are trying to replicate that success as they brought their "A" game.
Here are the top three superstars or groups of superstars who helped themselves most at WrestleMania in terms of rising up the ranks moving forward.
It was no secret heading into WrestleMania that Fandango had an ideal chance to breakthrough. Prior to 'Mania, Fandango hadn't wrestled a single televised WWE match under his revamped gimmick, so there was a lot of pressure on him to perform. That pressure was heightened even more by the fact that he had to face Chris Jericho, who is one of the greatest in-ring performers the WWE has ever employed.
Perhaps Fandango didn't quite measure up to Y2J in that regard, but he certainly held his own and proved his capability as an entertainer. Fandango did everything big, including his entrance. He and several dancers engaged in an elaborate dance number, which was certainly fit for the WrestleMania stage. In addition to that, Fandango acquitted himself quite well as a wrestler. Even though Fandango had avoided wrestling in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania, he proved that he is capable in that regard.
Fandango's top-rope leg drop was a thing of beauty and it made for some great photo opportunities that fans will remember for a long time. Most importantly, Fandango scored the pinfall victory and beat one of the biggest stars in the history of the business. That alone ensures that the WWE will at least remain committed to him moving forward, so he has a great chance to build on this win.
The WWE has done a very nice job building The Shield since its debut at Survivor Series, but things were taken to another level at WrestleMania XXIX. After weeks of tormenting the likes of Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show, the unlikely trio came together in an effort to stop the Hounds of Justice. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, however, stole the show—as they so often do—with a spectacular in-ring performance.
Although The Shield has only had a few official matches as a unit, all of its bouts have been extremely impressive. It didn't fully steal the show as The Undertaker vs. CM Punk match has that distinction, but it was put in a vital position as it led off the show. Being in the first match is a vote of confidence because it means that the WWE trusted it to elevate the crowd. That was precisely what The Shield was able to do.
While the WWE played up Big Show turning on Orton and Sheamus more than anything, make no mistake that The Shield benefited most from that match. It has yet to lose as a group and has defeated most of the company's top stars cleanly. The WWE has struggled in the past in terms of pushing younger stables, but the creative team has given The Shield the tools necessary to succeed.
Big E Langston
He may have lost in his debut match on wrestling's grandest stage, but Big E Langston still managed to turn a lot of heads with his performance. Langston teamed with Dolph Ziggler to take on Team Hell No for the Tag Team Championships. Langston and Ziggler came up short as Daniel Bryan pinned The Showoff to retain the titles; however, Langston displayed incredible power and validated that he is a force to be reckoned with.
Langston has caused a lot of damage since becoming Ziggler's bodyguard, but he hadn't done it in an official match until WrestleMania. Many fans were interested to see what he could do and he didn't disappoint. Langston got the tag from Ziggler early in the match and came face to face with Kane. The Big Red Monster is known as one of the most destructive and sadistic men in WWE history, but Langston tossed him around like a rag doll.
Big E lifted Kane's seven-foot, 323-pound frame in the air like it was a bag full of feathers. He then proceeded to deliver a number of backbreakers before tossing The Devil's Favorite Demon aside. Langston was ultimately saddled with a loss as Ziggler was pinned, but he didn't factor into the decision and still came away looking strong. Now that Langston is entrenched as an active competitor, the sky is the limit.