The boisterous screams of fans, and the beautiful, yet extravagant setting, welcomed those watching at home to the biggest event on the WWE’s calendar – Wrestlemania 29. This year’s spectacle was well attended by more than 80,000 fans at MetLife Stadium, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It was a night full of action, but very few surprises. The opening match was a thriller, with a major question mark regarding one of the teams.

Randy Orton, Sheamus, and the Big Show battled the Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose) in a six-man tag. The question going in was whether or not Orton, Sheamus and Show would co-exist long enough to defeat their opponents. It did not take long for some dissention to occur. The first time this was teased was when the Big Show rescued Sheamus from a triple-power bomb attempt by the Shield. He came in and speared his opponents, knocking them, and Sheamus to the canvas. Big Show then stood on the apron, awaiting a legal tag from Sheamus. When Sheamus crawled to his corner, Orton tagged himself in, which angered the Big Show. His expression showed his displeasure.

Once in the ring, Orton attempted to battle all three members of the Shield by himself. Unfortunately the numbers eventually caught up to him, as Roman Reigns speared Randy, which allowed Dean Ambrose (who was the legal member of his team) to pin Orton. Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins – the Shield, won their first Wrestlemania match. With swift, precise, and hard hitting moves, fans were treated to a terrific opening match. But, more drama occurred afterwards, to the surprise of nobody.

Reeling with immense fury, The Big Show knocked out his partners. Personally, I agree with Show’s actions. He had every right to be upset and probably felt that if he was tagged in, the outcome would have been different. In the end, the right team won. The Shield is a young, talented group that needed the win on the big stage to keep its momentum going. The question now becomes who will stop this group? At some point, they are going to lose a match, and possibly split. When that happens, I hope the WWE will continue to push all three as singles competitors. I believe that if the WWE has faith in these three as individual wrestlers, nothing but good things can happen for all three. Each one possesses immense talent, and that will only enhance matches, bringing more excitement to the wrestling world.

Mark Henry fought Ryback in the next match, and both were provided with an opportunity to display their strengths. Many times during the match, Henry utilized a “bear hug.” Although the move is boring, it did its job of wearing down Ryback. The crowd became engaged once Ryback knocked the “world’s strongest man” off his feet with a big, impactful clothesline. Again, Ryback displayed his strength by attempting to lift his opponent for his “Shellshocked” finisher, but his back was too weak. Mark Henry landed on him for the pin and the victory. But, like the previous match, some more drama was in store.

As Henry was walking to the back, he turned and noticed his opponent being checked on by medical personnel. Mark slowly walked back to the ring, and demanded the doctors leave the ring stating “let him suffer.” After some taunting by Henry, Ryback got up, lifted Henry on his back, and marched around the ring, before dropping him for the “Shellshocked.” That was an amazing display of power, which awed the fans. The ending was not what I expected, but the aftermath was designed to provide Ryback with his Wrestlemania moment. But, I would have preferred Ryback to win the match with his finisher.

In another thrilling match, C.M. Punk attempted to end the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania undefeated streak. In the buildup, Punk kept insisting that he “would be the one, in 20-1.” Punk began the match by slapping the Undertaker, continuing the storylines of disrespect and “getting inside Taker’s head.” After a flurry of moves, countermoves and near pinfalls, the Undertaker attempted to apply his chokeslam for the win, but Punk’s “advisor” Paul Heyman, distracted the wrestler. That tactic allowed Punk to escape Taker’s grasp, and work on his knee.

After a kneelift into a corner, Punk tried to end the match with a running bulldog. Taker, however, had other plans. He caught Punk, and put him in position for his “Last Ride” power bomb, but Heyman gave his friend the urn (which was once held by Taker’s manager, the late Paul Bearer.) Punk hit his opponent in the back of the head with the object. The Undertaker was out….or so the fans thought.  Silence penetrated MetLife Stadium, as the referee began his count. At the count of two, Taker kicked out, and the crowed went wild.

Punk applied his “Go to Sleep” finisher, in another attempt to end the streak, but Taker escaped, and applied his Tombstone reverse piledriver for the final pinfall. After a hard-fought and thrilling match, the Undertaker is now 21-0 at Wrestlemania. But, this match, like his previous matches at this event, took a toll on him, which makes me, and I am sure a lot of fans, wonder how much does he really have left. I do know that whenever he competes he will always give it his best even though he is older and has nagging injuries. His body will eventually say “enough is enough.” I hope that before any major issues arise, he will retire, and go down in history as being undefeated at Wrestlemania.

With fans exerting so much energy for the previous match, the competitors in the next match would have to work harder to regain their interest. Triple H and Brock Lesnar had the unenviable task of following the previous match. The match could only be won by pinfall or submission, and if Triple H lost, his career would be over. There were lots of weapons used – a sledgehammer, steel steps and chairs. Near the end, Lesnar tried to slam his opponent on the steps, but Triple H countered it into a DDT on the steel. After hitting Brock’s skull with a sledgehammer, Triple H applied his “pedigree” finisher for the three. The crowd was not completely happy, because once the “career” stipulation was added, it basically gave away the ending, and meant that HHH would wrestle again. But, despite the lack of crowd reaction, I think both men deserve credit for putting their bodies through so much in this “no holds barred” fight.

The main event was a rematch of last year’s event. The Rock defended his WWE Championship against John Cena. As usual, the crowd seemed split between the two wrestlers, which adds drama to any match involving Cena. After both wrestlers repeatedly performed their opponent’s finishers, the Rock attempted to end the match with his Rock Bottom. But, Cena countered, and utilized his Attitude Adjustment finishing move and got the three count. As a result, John Cena is now an eleven time champion.  After the match, the two talked in the ring, shook hands and hugged. The night ended with the two showing respect – symbolizing perhaps a “passing of the torch.” I figured Cena would have won – the WWE would not have the “face of the company” lose two consecutive Wrestlemania matches.

In my mind, the WWE staged an entertaining show for Wrestlemania. The fans were invested in most of the matches, even though some results were predictable. I was happy that some of the young stars like Fandango (who beat Chris Jericho), the Shield and Ryback enjoyed their Wrestlemania moments. But, I believe the WWE will give viewers a more memorable event next year in New Orleans, since it will be the thirtieth anniversary of this spectacle. The company will not hesitate to go “all out” to ensure a highly celebrated and remarkable event.

Azeem Kayum

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