But the show ended with Ryback standing tall over Cena. And somewhere in between, Dolph Ziggler captured his first legitimate world championship after cashing in his Money in the Bank contract.
The Rock's WWE future is still marred in ambiguity, and Triple H appeared to have been written out of WWE storylines with an injury. Brock Lesnar will be in and out, and when he returns the WWE will probably pencil him in for another expensive loss.
It seems the part-timers are to be paving the way for the WWE to build new stars from the ground up.
And why not? If there truly is more to the Rock's sudden exit to the WWE than meets the eye, the WWE would suddenly be without a reliable big name who can help it laugh its way to the bank. Say goodbye to another WrestleMania sure to do over one million buys.
Ryback might be the long-term answer as the WWE has done their best to protect him. He started off hot with a six-month win streak, and his losses are rarely clean.
Dolph Ziggler can work, but if his job were to transcend professional wrestling, he'd be fired. He doesn't have the larger-than-life personality or the mass appeal to be the face of the WWE. If the WWE truly is in the quasi-era of Dolph Ziggler, it's going to need some legitimate part-timers to bolster any adverse effect on business.
The WWE went to the part-time cookie jar around WrestleMania XXVII with the return of The Rock. They haven't stopped gobbling them down since. Since 2011, Brock Lesnar, Triple H, The Undertaker and Chris Jericho have all settled comfortably into their roles as temporary talents.
With no new stars created since John Cena made it big around WrestleMania XX, it appears the WWE is content with cycling in stars from the past while testing the waters with homegrown talent during times when business is slower.
The formula seems to have been sufficient in terms of WrestleMania's business. But in non-WrestleMania quarters, the WWE's current business model suggests that maybe an emphasis on full-time stars would be more viable long-term.
For now, however, wrestling fans can enjoy the anticipatory periods of another potential return. Batista, as a heel or babyface, will have plenty of wrestlers to work with. Mortgaged future aside, another brief run from a big name couldn't hurt. Could it?