This Sunday night at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, WWE presents WrestleMania 29. It's the company's biggest show of the year. With a reported $11 million gate, it's already the most successful WWE event ever in terms of ticket sales. I don't need to sell the event to you considering that WWE has run approximately 473 video packages about the show in the last month.
If you want to purchase the show in HD on pay-per-view, it will cost you $69.95 in USA or Canada (non-HD is $59.95). That's the most expensive WWE show ever. There's also a one-hour pre-show before the four-hour broadcast and there's even a post-show. If you think a three-hour Raw is too long (and I certainly do), then try to sit through this whole event. I doubt I'm going to watch all of the pre-show. I may end up watching the last half of it.
If you're reading this, you're either watching it just like you do every year because for us "crazy" wrestling fans, this is the one event we all want to watch. Of course, some don't because something on the card bothers them and that's fine. Your call.
What I'm here to do is run down the whole card, give my opinions on the storylines heading into the matches and, of course, pick the winners, too. This is the part where I also complain about talented people like Antonio Cesaro being left off the card. A pre-show battle royal isn't good enough if it happens. He deserves more.
Let's get to the preview.
Intercontinental Championship: Wade Barrett (c) vs. The Miz (Pre-Show)
Did you hear Miz on Raw on Monday trying to say that this was the "most must-see pre-show in WrestleMania history" because he was on it? Dude, you're trying too hard. The babyface act already comes off as forced and then he says ridiculous things like that.
We saw this match a couple weeks back on Raw. Miz won clean in a non-title match that was pretty underwhelming. Perhaps that will lead to a title change here, but I don't care that much either way.
I'll pick Barrett to retain, although even if he loses it, I doubt there will be a boost for the title by moving it over to The Miz.
Winner: Wade Barrett
Tons of Funk (Brodus Clay & Sweet T) & The Funkadactyls (Cameron & Naomi) vs. Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow) & The Bella Twins (Nikki & Brie)
This is the official "bathroom break" match of the show. I really feel bad for Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes having to be a part of this brutal match. I don't care much about the other six people involved, but I like those two a lot.
The babyface team will go over, they'll dance and Jerry Lawler will think it's the greatest thing in the history of WrestleMania because if you want to work for WWE for 20 years, those are the kinds of things you say. This will not be a highlight of the show, that's for sure.
Winners: Tons of Funk and The Funkadactyls
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
Why are they feuding? Because Chris Jericho didn't say his name properly. Yep. That's the legit reason. But I don't mind it that much.
It's not like Fandango is some rookie wrestling his first match. Johnny Curtis first signed with WWE over six years ago. He's been working his ass off to get this opportunity and if you've watched NXT (like me) over the last few years, then you know he's a good talent. Throw him in the ring with one of the best ever like Chris Jericho, and I think they have the potential to have a really good match.
My original opinion on the booking was that Fandango would win because he's the "new" character that needs to make a big impact on the big stage. Jericho doesn't need wins. He can lose 200 matches in a row and still be considered one of the best ever because he is. However, if I use my "lose or get up on TV/win on PPV" theory, then that would suggest a Jericho win. In this case, though, I'm going against the theory.
I think they had Fandango dominate because he needs the heat just like he needs the win. If Jericho does win, I'd expect Fandango to win a rematch on Raw or something like that, but the win at WM would mean more. That's why I'm picking that.
In addition to all that, keep an eye on this match as a "sleeper" because if they get 10-15 minutes, it could be really good. Fandango/Curtis is pretty good. And Jericho does not disappoint. It could be a lot of fun.
Ryback vs. Mark Henry
I have mild excitement for this one. I don't mind Mark Henry in matches against big guys. I enjoyed his feuds with Sheamus and Big Show the last few years. The difference with this is that I don't think Ryback is as good as those guys. With that said, I have liked the buildup to it and I think it will be fun to see a physical match like this one.
I think the finish is obvious, with Ryback hitting Shell Shocked for the win to give people that "did you just see that?" kind of moment. I think the win for Ryback is one of the most sure thing predictions on the card.
WWE Tag Team Championship: Team Hell No (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston
My wish of a Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler WrestleMania match is on hold for this year, but at least we'll see them in the same match in a tag team setting. Of course, we saw them in a match on Raw, but that's not the same as being in a big WrestleMania, is it?
Langston is making his WWE TV debut, although, again, if you watch NXT, you would know he's had plenty of experience in his career. He's actually worked as a babyface on that show, so it's different than what we'll see here when he's doing his heel act.
I think it's time for a title change. My feeling is that the whole point of the match is to put over the Ziggler/Langston/Lee trio going forward. They are a good act, so it makes sense to give them some gold.
The act of Bryan and Kane was really fun in the fall and even into the winter, but now that we're in the spring, it's time to move them on to something else. I'm actually impressed that they've held the Tag Team titles since September and were given a significant reign. But that's going to end here.
Look for some kind of distraction by AJ Lee leading to Kane and Bryan screwing up, and that will lead to Langston hitting his finish on one of them to win the Tag titles for his team. This could be a very good tag match if they get the 10-15 minutes like I expect.
Winners: Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston
Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show vs. The Shield
This will be fun. I'm such a fan of The Shield and the way the group has been booked since it debuted in the fall. The trio has an act that works because it has been booked like a winner. There are too many acts in WWE that are booked inconsistently, which hurts them. The way that Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have been used is how we want to see young performers.
The build to the match has seen the babyface team (I guess Show counts) look like a united group that has been able to prevent The Shield's attacks in the last few weeks. Will it happen on Sunday? I doubt it. I think The Shield has to go over. The face team has established veterans who are going to be over no matter how many times they win or lose. That's why The Shield has to win, and it will.
There are a lot of rumors heading into this match, too. I don't think Orton turns heel here. However, I think something will happen in the finish of the match that leads to Orton as a heel on television in the weeks and months to come. Perhaps Sheamus accidentally hits him, which leads to Orton snapping, and that could set up their rivalry.
Of course, they could do the obvious thing with Show acting out against his partners since he's a heel. But I'm thinking it's Orton that will be the cause of defeat for his team. That means a win for The Shield, which is what really matters.
Winners: The Shield
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Jack Swagger
I like both guys a lot, but I don't think the feud is working. I'm also worried about the crowd completely turning on the match, possibly even chanting for Ziggler during much of it (to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase) and becoming the focal point of the show instead of the actual match.
Del Rio had a lot of crowd support in Florida and Texas when he first turned face. It's been a different story at shows in the Northeast like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington. The support isn't as strong. This WrestleMania crowd won't be much different.
If Swagger wins the title, that likely means the feud will continue, but I think the way the story has been told would mean a Del Rio win because he has to avenge the broken ankle of his friend Ricardo Rodriguez. Right? That's what babyfaces do.
I don't think the story has the legs to carry on for another PPV considering that Extreme Rules is in mid-May this year. They'll probably have a solid 15-minute match that will be pretty good but not great. Again, the crowd heat may not be as strong as WWE would like and that will hurt things a bit. I expect Del Rio to show the heart of a babyface to win the match.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
After the Del Rio win, I think Swagger will attack him and then Ziggler will come out to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase. He'll be the first man to cash in MITB at WrestleMania and leave WrestleMania as the new World Heavyweight champion. He'll also have the Tag titles with Langston. I also think AJ Lee could be Divas champion soon, so that's a lot of gold for that trio.
Coming out of this show, I think a lot of people will be talking about Ziggler. And that's a great thing if it happens. The Del Rio/Swagger feud can continue as a non-title feud, or they could move Del Rio into a feud with Ziggler.
Winner and new World Heavyweight Champion: Dolph Ziggler
No Holds Barred with Triple H's Career On The Line: Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar
I think this has the potential to be the match of the night. The No Holds Barred stipulation will definitely help it, and I expect it to be better than their match at SummerSlam was. That's the right setting for any Lesnar match. Fans don't want to see him applying rest holds in a regular match. He's a brawler, so let him do what he does. Triple H is also very good in that kind of situation. That's why I have high hopes for it.
Since there are already other big babyface winners on the card, I would love to see Lesnar walk out of this one as the victor. Do I expect it? No. I think Triple H winning is very predictable because he has to avenge what Lesnar did to Hunter's father-in-law, Vince McMahon, when he "broke his hip" on Raw a month ago.
I also don't think there's any need for Hunter to retire in his early 40s when he's playing a major role in the company. He's a part-timer that will continue to wrestle a couple of times per year. I'm OK with that.
This week on Raw, it was announced that Shawn Michaels will be in Triple H's corner. I don't think it's a necessary addition, but I see it as a situation where Michaels hits Paul Heyman with a superkick at some point to keep him from interfering in the match. That will ultimately set up the victory for Triple H.
They'll probably get 20-25 minutes, Lesnar will dominate a majority of it and Hunter may even kick out of an F5 in a memorable spot because it's not like a lot of people have kicked out of that move before. It will be a great near-fall spot late in the match. Like I said, though, a Triple H win is very likely. If it doesn't happen, I'd be very surprised.
Winner: Triple H
The Streak on the Line: The Undertaker vs. CM Punk
First of all, it should be noted that this past Thursday on Twitter, CM Punk stated that Living Colour would sing "Cult of Personality" for his entrance at WrestleMania, so that will be an awesome experience.
I think Undertaker winning this match is the biggest lock of the event. It's a sure thing. I think before the death of Paul Bearer that it was a sure thing, too. But after that happened and they used it as part of an angle, it's an even bigger lock, in my opinion. Of course, I'm sure there are some of you reading this thinking there's still a chance Undertaker could lose. I really don't see it happening.
The build for the match has been pretty good. It's the first WrestleMania in five years where Undertaker is in a babyface vs. heel match instead of the babyface vs. babyface setting of the last four. I expect it to be an excellent matchup because when it comes to Undertaker matches at WrestleMania, he's delivered great ones every year. Punk is an elite talent who has proven to be the best in the world the last couple of years, so I expect a great performance out of him on Sunday. Remember, Punk has an arm injury that has kept him out of the ring in the past month. I think he'll be able to fight through it during the match, but it is worth keeping an eye on.
This should be fun. It's my favorite match going into the card. I don't know how many matches Undertaker has left, so I'm going to enjoy it while he's still doing his thing. I'd expect a physical 20-minute match that ends with an Undertaker Tombstone Piledriver. Then we could see that symbolic urn one last time as a tribute to the late William Moody/Paul Bearer. Oh yes.
Winner: The Undertaker
WWE Championship: The Rock (c) vs. John Cena
Last year was more special. There's no denying that. It was Rock's first WM match in eight years and it was in his hometown of Miami, too. The build to Cena vs. Rock was a year old, they had done numerous promos against each other and it felt like an epic showdown in a lot of ways.
Being at the match last year, it really had a big-match feel to it. The crowd was hot for most of it. The ovation when Rock won was enormous. It was a match with one year of build and for the most part, it was a success. Was it an all-time great match? No. But it was good enough.
I think in terms of quality that this year's match will likely be better. Rock was winded last year. He wasn't in the best wrestling shape of his career. This year, he's had a couple of big matches with CM Punk at Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber, so I think he'll be more ready this time around. It's not easy to just get back to it after being off for so long.
Now that he's back to working those 20-plus minute main events, I think he'll be ready. Their chemistry should be better, too. I'd rate their match last year at about three stars out of five. I think it can reach four stars this year.
Who did I pick to win last year's match? John Cena.
I was wrong.
Why? Because I thought that would be the only match that Rock would wrestle. If I knew he was going to wrestle more, I'd have picked Rock.
This year, I'm picking Cena to win because I think the whole point of this three-year arc with Rock coming back as the host of WM27, then beating Cena last year and now having a match this year is about putting Cena over as the "greatest" WWE star ever.
The crowd reaction for the match will be interesting. I think the crowd is going to be anti-Cena for the most part. I also think some may not like Rock, either.
The crowd reaction could make this match even more memorable. Remember, those fans will be in those seats for over four hours by that point and it will likely be a cold night, so chances are they may not be in a great mood. The crowd will be a big part of the story of this match.
I know there are rumors of a Cena heel turn. I think they're just that—rumors. It's fun to think that the character of Cena might change because that's the only way for him to beat a guy like Rock, but I don't see it happening.
I know he has said he "needs" to win and that we won't believe what he might do. I think it's just a cliché, though. It's a selling point. It's a way for him to say he's going to go all out to win the match, which is what he should say.
But if he does turn heel? It will be a huge deal. It could make a big impact on WWE as a whole because it would generate the kind of buzz that they haven't had in a long time. I don't think it's going to happen. I wouldn't mind it, though.
I think the night will end with John Cena winning the match, being handed the WWE title by Rock (similar to Hogan/Warrior at WM6) and The Rock giving him a hug as a sign of respect.
Winner: John Cena
I think it will be a good show. I don't expect it to be the best WrestleMania ever, nor do I think it will be one of the worst. Hopefully there are some memorable moments that get us talking after it's over and make us look forward to the weeks ahead.
John Canton is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. You can read more of his work at his website TJRWrestling.com along with his talented staff of writers. He also writes at LayfieldReport.com. You can follow John on Twitter @johnreport.
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