WrestleMania 29 is in the books and while it will surely go down as the highest grossing event in wrestling history, the show itself fell short of being among the all-time great WrestleManias inside the ring.
By no means would I label it a bad show. Any PPV with the Undertaker vs. C.M. Punk match should not be considered bad under any circumstances, and while John Cena vs. Rock as the main event wasn’t at the level of their previous clash, it was still a good match between the two biggest stars in the business. The workrate and storytelling in HHH vs. Brock Lesnar was superb, but they were hurt yet again by a dead crowd. You would really have to go back in time to find a major feud with such underwhelming PPV matches. They worked their butts off and deserved better from the audience.
The crowd reactions may have been the biggest story to emerge in the wake of WrestleMania. Even if the matches weren’t technically excellent, I at least expected it to be among the most vocal crowds in WWE history. We got that the following night on Raw, but not at the big show of the year. From numerous live accounts I read there were thousands of fans at MetLife Stadium that had difficulty seeing the ring. In fact, WWE was flooded with complaints from fans whose view of the ring was obstructed by the four huge columns surrounding the ring. Last year’s show in Miami had a similar structure, but there weren’t any major complaints best I recall.
Another contributing factor to the less than ecstatic atmosphere was Mother Nature itself. Every WrestleMania since 2007 has been in a domed stadium. While the location gives the event a major league presentation, it does hurt crowd reactions. Several wrestlers, most notably Chris Jericho, have publicly stated their dissatisfaction with the recent stadium shows. Sound travels much slower and wrestlers often become nervous because they feel their matches aren’t getting over with the audience. Even though his match against Edge was one of the best at WrestleMania 26, Jericho felt the match was awful as it happened live.
This year’s show had the unfortunate pleasure of being in an outdoor stadium in New Jersey without a retractable roof. Naturally most fans will not be at their most vocal when stuck outside in cold weather for an entire evening.
From a production standpoint it may have been the best PPV the company ever produced. The pyro and special effects were top-notch. Fandango’s entrance was particularly stunning.
While a lot of fans were disappointed with the quality of the show, I really couldn’t find too much fault. Since 2009, WrestleMania has always focused on two to three major matches with the rest of the card coming off as filler. Time management plagues every WrestleMania and this year was no exception. Most of the undercard matches were terribly rushed and, as I expected, more screen time was given to celebrity cameos and video packages than to the wrestlers that work hard all year for a spot on the show. But I can’t even be upset because that is what WrestleMania has morphed into over the years.
I never watch a WrestleMania expecting to see four hours of consistently great wrestling. If that were the case then I’d be better off watching one of the many iPPV offerings from ROH, Dragon Gate or New Japan Pro Wrestling over the weekend.
However, I do watch WrestleMania to witness a grand spectacle unlike any other. When I look at things from that perspective I’m never too disappointed.