It didn’t take very long for WrestleMania 29 to get a reputation as one of the least anticipated WrestleManias in recent memory.
Despite having a card that is loaded with star power and features some of the biggest names from three different wrestling eras, WrestleMania has been criticized in large part because of the poor buildup to it and the lack of freshness its major matches have.
Some have even gone on to call it the worst-hyped WrestleMania in recent memory. But does it really fit that bill?
Well, in order to figure that out, we have to go back and look at the last five WrestleManias, analyze what was so appealing about those pay-per-views and then compare it to WrestleMania 29.
1. Bellfast Brawl: JBL defeats Finlay
2. CM Punk wins Money in the Bank ladder match
3. Battle for Brand Supremacy: Batista defeated Umaga
4. ECW Championship: Kane defeated Chavo Guerrero
5. Career-Threatening Match: Shawn Michaels defeated Ric Flair
6. Playboy BunnyMania Lumberjill Match: Beth Phoenix and Melina defeated Maria and Ashley
8. No DQ Match (could end by KO or submission only): Floyd Mayweather defeats The Big Show
9. World Heavyweight Championship Match: The Undertaker defeats Edge
WrestleMania 24 featured four matches with rather lackluster build (JBL/Finlay, Batista/Umaga, Kane/Chavo and Lumberjill match), but it did feature several matches that got a lot of hype on the road to WrestleMania.
As always, the Money in the Bank ladder match was something that the vast majority of the fans were dying to see. Not only is the match itself a really entertaining one, but the WrestleMania 24 field featured eight great superstars—any one of which could have feasibly won the match.
The MITB bout was a great addition to the show’s undercard, but this pay-per-view relied on the strength of its three top matches and the celebrity appearance from Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather’s involvement with Big Show was one of the better celebrity/wrestler feuds in recent memory, and it delivered a match that was actually pretty entertaining.
WrestleMania 24’s two top title matches packed a lot of star power too, with arguably the three biggest (or at least most-pushed) stars in the WWE at the time fighting for the WWE Championship and the great rivalry between Edge and Undertaker coming to a climax with Taker putting “The Streak” on the line and going after Edge’s World Heavyweight title.
These were two highly anticipated matches, but the real selling point of WrestleMania 24 was Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels in a Career-Threatening Match. This was, of course, a bout between two of the greatest in-ring performers in wrestling history, one that became even more hyped when it was revealed that Flair would be putting his career on the line.
All in all, Flair vs. HBK was the most anticipated aspect of a show that featured a couple of good World title bouts and one of the better booked celebrity appearances the WWE has had in quite some time.
- CM Punk wins the Money in the Bank ladder match
- “Santina Marella” wins 25-Diva Battle Royal (winner is crowned Miss WrestleMania)
- Handicap Elimination Match: Chris Jericho defeated Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka and Ricky Steamboat
- Extreme Rules Match: Matt Hardy defeated Jeff Hardy
- Intercontinental Championship match: Rey Mysterio defeated JBL
- The Undertaker defeated Shawn Michaels
- Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: John Cena defeated The Big Show and Edge
- WWE Championship: Triple H defeated Randy Orton
The 25th anniversary of WrestleMania featured a strong undercard that was highlighted by the always great MITB match, a match involving three legends and a hardcore match between brothers-turned-rivals.
Jericho’s disrespect toward the WWE’s legends led to a solid undercard match that was more about nostalgia than anything else, but it was nice to see some legends appearing on the card.
The Extreme Rules match between the Hardys, though it didn’t have quite the build that we thought it would, was still a very good undercard match that fans wanted to see simply because of who was involved.
What was really disappointing about WrestleMania 25, though, were the two World title matches—both of which we felt like we’d seen so many times in the past. Show/Cena, Edge/Cena and HHH/Orton were all rivalries that had already been done to death, so it was certainly a questionable move to have these feuds main-event WrestleMania.
Though they all packed star power, there wasn’t much excitement surrounding them because they didn’t feel fresh at all. As a result, the most anticipated match on the card clearly became The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, which featured great build between two of the greatest superstars ever and resulted in arguably the best match in wrestling history.
As far as main events go, WrestleMania 25 was lacking in terms of must-see World title matches. But the hype surrounding HBK vs. Taker made up for what was otherwise a somewhat disappointing card with less-than-stellar buildup.
- WWE Tag Team Championship Match: ShoMiz (Big Show and The Miz) defeated John Morrison and R-Truth
- Triple Threat Match: Randy Orton defeated Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase
- Jack Swagger won the Money in the Bank ladder match
- Triple H defeated Sheamus
- Rey Mysterio defeated CM Punk
- No Holds Barred Lumberjack Match: Bret Hart defeated Mr. McMahon
- World Heavyweight Championship: Chris Jericho defeated Edge
- 10-Divas Tag Team Match: Michelle McCool, Vickie Guerrero, Alicia Fox, Layla and Maryse defeated Beth Phoenix, Eve Torres, Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly and Mickie James
- WWE Championship: John Cena defeated Batista
- Streak vs. Career Match (No DQ): The Undertaker defeated Shawn Michaels
From top to bottom, the WrestleMania 26 card was actually one of the better ones we’ve seen in recent years. It had a really strong undercard that featured the likes of Randy Orton, Triple H and CM Punk competing in matches that were built up pretty damn well.
Although there were some duds on this show (the tag team title match was far too short and McMahon vs. Hart was downright atrocious), it did feature a trio of really strong main events: Y2J vs. Edge, Cena vs. Batista and Undertaker vs. Michaels: II.
When you combined the star-studded undercard that was built upon some well-booked rivalries with a trio of anticipated main events, what we got was a show that was really well-rounded.
It thrived based on the great run of a heel Batista, the surprising return of Edge and the second HBK/Taker bout, which was one of the most anticipated matches ever because Michaels had put his career on the line.
There were certainly things about this PPV that could have been changed, but in terms of its overall appeal, not many recent WrestleManias rival WrestleMania 26.
- World Heavyweight Championship Match: Edge defeated Alberto Del Rio
- Cody Rhodes defeated Rey Mysterio
- 8-Man Tag Team Match: Big Show, Kane, Kofi Kingston and Santino Marella defeated The Corre
- Randy Orton defeated CM Punk
- Michael Cole defeated Jerry Lawler by DQ
- No Holds Barred Match: The Undertaker defeated Triple H
- 6-Person Mixed Tag Team Match: John Morrison, Trish Stratus and Snooki defeated Dolph Ziggler, Layla and Michelle McCool
- WWE Championship: The Miz defeated John Cena
WrestleMania 27 was perhaps one of the most poorly booked and least anticipated WrestleManias not just in recent memory, but of all time.
Perhaps the biggest issue with this show was that its two World title matches featured two largely unproven superstars (Del Rio and The Miz), who many didn’t view as legitimate main eventers or worthy of being in WrestleMania World title matches. That was detrimental to the buildup of both of these feuds, which were two horribly booked rivalries on a card that was full of them.
This card featured three throwaway matches (the 8-man tag, the 6-person mixed tag and Cole/Lawler), two good undercard bouts (Rhodes/Mysterio and Punk/Orton) and only one match that really had any sort of buzz or hype surrounding it in Triple H vs. Undertaker.
The weak World title matches sort of had a domino effect on the rest of the card, which seemed to be lazily put together. For whatever reason, the effort just wasn’t there with WrestleMania 27, which featured one of the worst main events ever and a World title match/feud that I honestly can’t remember any of.
There weren’t many strong points for WrestleMania 27, which is probably why it’s widely considered to be a terrible WrestleMania—a totally forgettable show that featured only one match that’s worth rewatching.
- World Heavyweight Championship Match: Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan
- Kane defeated Randy Orton
- Intercontinental Championship: Big Show defeated Cody Rhodes
- Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos defeated Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres
- Hell in a Cell Match: The Undertaker defeated Triple H
- 12-Man Tag Team Match: Team Johnny defeated Team Teddy
- WWE Championship: CM Punk defeated Chris Jericho
- The Rock defeated John Cena
Out of the last five WrestleManias (24-28), WrestleMania 28 has to have been the most anticipated of the bunch.
From top to bottom, the show’s card probably wasn’t as good as many of the ones we saw in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But—make no mistake about it—it thrived because of its three main events.
You could certainly make a case that WrestleMania 28’s trio of main events (Y2J/Punk, Rock/Cena and HHH/Taker) was one of the strongest ever. Not only did it feature one of the most anticipated matches in history with The Rock vs. Cena, but it also featured one of the most buzz-worthy WWE title matches of the last several years in Punk vs. Jericho.
Of course, Undertaker vs. HHH was a predictable rematch, but the match quality of both this one and the one at WrestleMania 27 seemed to make most of the fans forget about that aspect.
While we probably could have done without Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy or the Divas tag team match, WrestleMania 28 thrived because it featured highly anticipated main events. As a result, the rest of the card just didn’t matter—fans were going to buy the PPV anyway.
So, where does WrestleMania 29 fit in with the previous five WrestleManias?
Though the pay-per-view features three star-studded matches on paper, the issue here is that the creative team simply hasn’t put enough effort into making these matches matter. Yeah, Undertaker/Punk, Cena/Rock and HHH/Lesnar all feature big-named stars, but when the booking is weak and lazy, we’re not going to care about it.
That’s what is plaguing this pay-per-view. While it will likely feature some really good wrestling, its biggest matches have been terribly booked while many of its undercard matches seem to have been just randomly thrown together.
There is a certain amount of appeal that comes with some of these matches, like Ryback vs. Mark Henry or Chris Jericho vs. Fandango. But WrestleMania 29 would have a lot more hype surrounding it if the creative team hadn’t mailed it in so badly over the last couple of months.
The WWE knows that WrestleMania 29 is going to be a huge success money-wise, but that doesn’t excuse the company for coasting by with its booking.
Because that’s exactly what it’s done, though, we’re forced to watch a WrestleMania 29 PPV that has worse hype than any recent WrestleMania, except for perhaps WrestleMania 26.
Whereas WrestleMania 26 struggled because of lack of star power, however, WrestleMania 29 is struggling because of laziness. It features the stars and the matches that seem good on paper—it just doesn’t have that hyped-up feeling you would expect it to.
Instead, WrestleMania will probably be a show that features some good wrestling, but will be overshadowed by the lackluster build to that wrestling. That’s why you don’t book so many rematches on the biggest PPV of the year, WWE.
As was the case with WrestleMania 25, WrestleMania 29 feels like one big re-run—and we want to change the channel.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!