WWE's WrestleMania 29 pay-per-view (PPV) is only three weeks away (Apr. 7, 2013), making it safe to say we are on the downward slope heading towards the show. Therefore, it's time to analyze each individual feud that has been built up so far in order to see what elements are succeeding, or failing.
John Cena vs. The Rock:
Truth be told, neither Cena nor Rock managed to excite with their build towards the WrestleMania 28 match, largely because of the work-shoot material, not to mention the humorless, immature jokes both used against one another. This time however, they have already managed to make their rematch at WrestleMania 29 one to look forward to, because unlike last time, both have described why the match is so important.
John Cena is trying to redeem his loss to The Rock; the loss, which he alleges, led him to have the worst year of his career. Meanwhile, The Rock is trying to cement his legacy as one of, if not the greatest, WWE Superstars. Let's just hope The Rock brings "it", rather than phoning in yet another conventional effort; because well, I profoundly want this match to be special, don't you?
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar:
There are people out there who don't want to see this match. They either believe Brock Lesnar should be facing another wrestler altogether, or that Triple H is going to fully get his revenge. The first statement would tend to be easier to agree with if Lesnar hadn't signed an extension. Nevertheless, he did sign the extension, so now there will be other opportunities down the line for Brock to face someone else.
Therefore, I personally have no problem with this match happening whatsoever. In fact, I am glad it has happened, because it's been so well-booked. This angle serves as a good illustration as to precisely how you should book a compounding storyline; it escalates, adding another layer each week.
In truth, telling a narrative is akin to constructing a pyramid: you work from the base, building it up by putting the correct parts conjointly in place until it reaches its summit (or in a storyline, its apex).
This all began when Paul Heyman concocted a complex scheme that allowed CM Punk to escape The Rock as champion. Mr. McMahon was closely observing the situation, and later on it became transparent to the viewers he had figured out Heyman was the madman behind both The Shield and Brad Maddox's involvement in helping CM Punk escape with his title. Thence, McMahon convinced himself Heyman needed to be fired.
Everything would have gone according to plan if the ex-UFC Heavyweight Champion hadn't interrupted his final decree with an F-5, thus (kayfabe) shattering his hip.
Eventually, this led to a feud between Mr. McMahon and Heyman. Lesnar was of course Heyman's physical enforcer; faced with the task of bailing Heyman out of yet another grotesque situation. This time, however, The Former Next Big Thing found himself trapped in the ploy when Mr. Stephanie McMahon came out looking for a fight.
Never afraid of backing down from a fight, though, the ass-kicking war machine attacked the King of Kings. Savagely, they went back and forth in a brawl that's outcome felt unforeseeable -- since no one was wholly positive who would actually be able to obtain the upper hand -- until The Game knocked the bloodied Lesnar out of the ring.
The manbeast getting busted open severely the hard way (requiring 12-18 skin-staples to piece together the gash in his dome-piece post-match) showed why WWE should utilize color from time-to-time, too. It automatically intensified the clash, ending up overall with a powerfully engaging visual.
When a fan witnesses blood every single week in and out, they will build up a tolerance sooner or later, becoming desensitized to the weight of the visual it lends or even altogether immune to its magnitude. However, when it occurs once in a blue moon, it has broader significance and meritoriousness, due to its rarity.
Less, obviously, is more.
In direct opposition to the other top babyfaces in WWE, a couple of the characteristics most endearing about Triple H include his vehemence and the way in which he expresses his emotions via soulful soliloquies. These factors characterize him as a relatable ruler, a man in touch with his humanity.
After all, one should be infuriated if he loses a match. One also ought to be mournful if his or her father-in-law were assaulted and severely injured, requiring surgery. One undoubtedly would be stirred to seek retaliation upon having their arm broken, as well. They should NOT be happy-go-lucky about it, neglect it, or want to grimace about it instead. (See: Sheamus, John Cena.)
Last night, (Mar. 11) on Monday Night Raw after Lesnar beat up Trips' friends, the New Age Outlaws, Paul Heyman and the Brockness Monster agreed to a match under the condition that they be allowed to name the stipulation, and that they will only reveal the stip once Triple H has signed the contract. This is cunningly and sadistically genius, because HHH's fear (or lack thereof) isn't going to prevent him from getting his hands on Brock Lesnar regardless of the stipulation. Truly, another great layer added onto this already amazing feud.
As noted, some people were not high on Lesnar vs. Triple H's - part one at Summerslam in 2012. The problem was simply that they wrestled a wrestling match. It did not feel like the all out war people were anticipating it to be. This time, however, we will witness a heated, unadulterated epic battle.
Of course, the astronomic inquiry is, "What type of match should they do?" It would be overkill if they did another Hell in the Cell at WrestleMania 29, although personally, I would not be entirely against it. However, a plain old street fight would be adequate enough, but if they did a form of a Three-Stages of Hell Match, how much more enjoyable that would be?
Nevertheless, it's a great cliffhanger -- one that makes you want to tune-in next week to see what that stipulation will be.
Undertaker vs. CM Punk:
This is rather a dream match for many, including myself. Undertaker is one of the principal legendary, enigmatic figures in WWE's history. Meanwhile, CM Punk is the forthcoming generation's Straight Edge Sensation.
While these two have previously had matches, the malfunction inherent within them was that CM Punk did not appear as if he was on par with Undertaker's pedestal. After all, he was booked distinctly inferior in every facet to The Undertaker. It now, however, seems as if CM Punk is almost adjacent to Undertaker's level, if only due to his sensational title reign, not to mention the legacy that is his storied wrestling career.
Truth be told, though, WWE set this match up lazily. In fact, it was the laziest they could have probably done it. CM Punk's character is by and large more sophisticated than the ordinary heel, so seeing him want to face The Undertaker merely because of some vendetta against the fans seemed rather contrived, at first consideration.
Last night though, they injected much needed heat into the match.
It certainly stands to reason ‘Paul Bearer', ever the consummate performer and crowd-pleaser, would have been fine with the developments on Raw this week. After all, he possessed a keen old-school mindset and was all about the business he loved. Moreover, considering Undertaker's authority on this angle, it is hard to take offense, as he presumably could have vetoed it.
Although, a nagging question remains, "What if Paul Bearer had not unfortunately died?" Where were they heading with this, then?
Ideally, from the get-go, I would have enjoyed seeing CM Punk challenge the Undertaker, only for The Deadman to deny Punk's challenge, as he would understandably feel as if The Voice of the Voiceless is not worthy enough to face him at WrestleMania. This news then sends the self-propagandizing Straight-Edge Savior into a frenzy, due to being shell-shocked that ‘Taker could believe he is above someone who is after all the God of the WWE Universe, none other than "The Best in the World", as a matter of fact.
Consequently, CM Punk attacks everyone who gets in his way, including beating The Undertaker into oblivion with a behind-the-back attack. Subsequently, Undertaker accepts the Chicago City Saint's challenge and that is that.
Regardless, this match should be excellent, with Undertaker getting his revenge for one of his best friends, Paul Bearer.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger:
Out of all the marquee matches, this one holds the least interest. It's safe to assume I am not alone in this judgement, as almost nothing that has elapsed so far has received any measurable reaction. In fact, it even received a boring chant.
The bigot heel can work effectively when it's done right, with a recent example being JBL. Although, in contrast to Jack Swagger and his xenophobic mouthpiece, JBL was verbally assaulting an extremely over, sympathetic babyface known as Rey Mysterio. Ultimately, this feud just seems far too complex for the stereotypical WWE fan.
And to make matters worse, Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter come off more forced than natural.
In turn, the best idea would have been to push an Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler storyline. After seeing their match on SmackDown last Friday (Mar. 8), it's painfully transparent what a compelling match they could perform.
That particular match not only had intensity, high-impact moves, seemingly life-threatening bumps taken by Ziggler, and extraordinary exchanges (out of where counters/reversals and elusive facial expressions, mannerisms and body language prevailed), but the urgency of both competitors to triumph down the stretch was successfully sold. ADR and Dolph had unparalleled chemistry together, crafting a match that held little importance in hindsight, yet they made it feel as if winning that match was crucial.
Now, visualize these two actually having a match for something of legitimate importance, with more time for them to work. Without question, it would be a MotYC for sure. Besides, promoting this match around what Ziggler's strategy might be, since he holds the MitB briefcase, would be far more engaging than this non-achieving racist angle.
Ryback vs. Mark Henry:
This is a clash between two wrestlers, akin to one another, with the only glaring difference being their assigned roles on the roster. This is a dream match for many casual fans since this will be two behemoths slugging it out. Hopefully, for most of our sakes, the match will make its point short, so this is neither lengthy nor offensively abominable.
The Shield vs. Randy Orton/Sheamus/Big Show:
This may not have been announced yet, but it seems apparent that this match will happen. The Shield is a heel faction who is seeking justice. It feels like there will be more enhancement in the developments of their characters. Chances are they will team up with Heyman, Lesnar, and Punk and become the anti-establishment stable of WWE.
Either way, it's refreshing to see WWE building up a heel group effectively for once. Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show will hopefully find themselves on the same page before WrestleMania XXIX, because The Shield defeating a tag team that does not get along well with one another, hindered from working as a cohesive unit, is not going to help elevate them.
In addition, if they somehow lose to a discordant team, that very well might be the thing that halts their development.
The road to WrestleMania XXIX is shaping up nicely. There is a sizable amount of build to the important matches already, with three weeks remaining. They will presumably plant more seeds for The Rock vs. John Cena feud in the upcoming weeks since Rock was not able to attend this week's show.
The Undertaker vs. CM Punk angle has revealed what they are going to surround their feud with, as well as the basis with which they are staking their antagonism. Even though some might find it tasteless, it's going to lead to tons of satisfaction and genuine emotion when Undertaker inevitably gets his revenge on CM Punk and brings the streak to 21-0... for Paul Bearer.
The greatness of the Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H feud has been established here as worth stressing. The under card however, needs more time to develop, as there aren't many matches confirmed on it to date. Although lately, WWE has been known to book as few matches as possible on their PPVs. If they keep as much filler off this show as possible, and give the important matches the needed time they deserve, we should have no problem with that whatsoever.
The only thing to truly dislike so far is the sour aftertaste Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio leaves in our mouths. Otherwise, the overall build on this year's road to WrestleMania has been great and the matches look to be great, as well.
Let us know what you think of WWE's build so far on the road to WrestleMania, Cagesiders. What matches are you most looking forward to, and why? Which ones leave you wanting more, or less?
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