Michael N. Todaro
As WWE creative cobbles together its WrestleMania 29 line up, your old pal Hulk Holland takes a quick look at each match-up to see how it's progressing -- or is some cases -- regressing.
WrestleMania 29 is just around the corner, Cagesiders, and that means the pay-per-view (PPV) line up is starting to take shape. I always find it interesting how matches look completely different a few weeks out than they do right before showtime.
As well as right after.
With that in mind, I wanted to do a quick look at the April 7 extravaganza and see where work needs to be done -- if any -- as we inch closer to "the granddaddy of them all" at the MetLife Center in East Rutherford, NJ. Also known as the house that "Big Blue" built.
The Rock vs. John Cena
For a main event, this bout sure feels like an afterthought. I understand that last year's confrontation leaves fans with a built-in storyline, but with three Raw shows left until WrestleMania, it's impossible to justify The Rock's absence last night in Pittsburgh. Is anyone excited about this rematch? Give me a live video feed or something pre-recorded at the bare minimum, not Pancake Patterson and The Prime Time Pebbles. It's the headlining bout, gents, try to treat it like one.
Verdict: I feel like we're getting fucked on this deal.
Undertaker vs. CM Punk
This was shaping up to be streak and destroy. Nobody gave CM Punk a shot at breaking the holiest of records, simply because their program didn't have any backbone. The Undertaker was facing a guy who lost the title and was sent to the back of the line to make room for John Cena and The Rock, but now he's fighting an opportunist who elevated this match into something special in the wake of Bill Moody's death. He's still going to get destroyed, but now we have a legitimate reason to cheer for it. Win one for the Bearer!
Verdict: Sit up and pay attention, dis gun' be good.
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar
Oh noes! Trips might lose his job! Not likely, since "The Game" has to get one back for his broken arm. Actually, make that two broken arms. Brock will probably take time off after WrestleMania anyway, so perhaps Triple H will lose, but still incapacitate Lesnar to the point where it forces him out of action (kayfabe) for a few months. I like the fact that options exist, but let's all agree that Paul Heyman needs to keep his shirt on during future builds.
Verdict: I think Triple H wants to go out on top (again).
Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger
Wrestle-Meh-nia. Jack Swagger came back to wreak havoc on the world heavyweight title picture and to date, I've been grotesquely underwhelmed. Clomping around the stage and hitting power moves on everyone while your stocky and cocky mouthpiece sells your evil intentions? That gimmick is already taken (see above) and racist rants don't work for any superstar (see Muhammad Hassan). The fact that I didn't even mention Alberto Del Rio is all you need to know about the effectiveness of his face turn.
Verdict: Pull the plug. No one cares.
Ryback vs. Mark Henry
I love this fight. More importantly, I love how it's being booked. It starts with a simple staredown during a wrestler's entrance, then slowly over time evolves into a HOSS FIGHT. Sometimes, a rivalry doesn't have to be bogged down with "reasons" other than "I'm strong, you're strong, let's see who's stronger." Sure, I expect all the usual pre-fight tomfoolery including run-ins, interference and political sabotage, but I also mark out for the little extras, like when Ryback and Mark Henry went finisher-for-finisher. It's the role jobbers like Heath Slater were born to play.
Verdict: Music to my ears. Rock on!
The Shield vs. Randy Orton, Sheamus, Big Show
When first announced, I kinda looked at this match as filler, because The Shield ran out of gas, creatively speaking, and this amalgamation of faces does little but keep them double-parked with the engine running until the writing team exits the building. Then Big Show replaced Ryback and I'm suddenly (albeit cautiously) intrigued. Is he a heel with common interests? A man trying to turn face? A secret member of The Shield? The fact that I don't know is enough and we've already seen the heels perform admirably at TLC. That said, I think this one has potential.
Verdict: The jury is still out, but I remain optimistic.
Team Hell No vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E. Langston
At this point, we might as well just have Dolph Ziggler win the next MITB briefcase, then cash them both in at SummerSlam and win two titles ala Chris Jericho. Maybe then I can excuse his mishandling. But until something drastic happens, he's mired in tag team action with Big E. Langston, who FINALLY gets some real television time. Do I care about this match? Not really, since Ziggy and Biggie are not a tag team and have no business holding the straps. At least we'll get to see Daniel Bryan work and Dolph sell, so the spots should fill in the gaps, so to speak.
Verdict: Pointless, but I'm sure we'll get a kick out of it.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. But with just a few short weeks to go before the show of shows, how well do you think the bouts are coming together?