Friday, April 4, 2014
Random 'Mania factoids now aside, let us kick things off the day before WM29 and cover the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony. I really loved the quality of most of the induction and acceptance speeches from last year's ceremony, but WWE pulled out all the stops and easily had the best all around induction class since they brought back the Hall of Fame nearly a decade ago. WWE usually unveils a new Hall of Fame inductee every couple of weeks on RAW at the beginning of the year leading up to WrestleMania, and with each new inductee unveiled I kept thinking there was no way they could top themselves, but with the ceremony taking place in the grandest arena in the country that is Madison Square Garden, I imagine WWE wanted to go all out in their old territorial stomping grounds.
Five of the six inductees are major former world champions. The exception is their celebrity inductee with Donald Trump, who played a major role in three prior 'Manias. The fans booed him righteously, but Trump amusingly embraced the boos and knew how to play off it well. Mick Foley would have headlined any other hall of fame class, but he is the opener here, and the hardcore legend does not disappoint delivering one last awesome promo in the form of his acceptance speech. Trish Stratus has been my all time favorite WWE Diva, and I was thrilled to see her get inducted, and it was just too bad the rowdy hardcore WWE fans had to boo the shit out of her husband when she gave him props. Make sure to pause the screen when Trish unravels a huge scroll at the podium to catch all the names of the people she thanks that she did not have time for in person. Stevie Ray made his first ever WWE television appearance to induct his brother, Booker T into the Hall of Fame. Stevie gave us some classic Bookerman stories, and Booker T made sure to send us home happy with a Hall of Fame calibur spin-a-rooni!
I went on forever about the hall of fame, so I am going to try and breeze through WM29's undercard to somewhat condense this blog. The WM29 preshow match is included as an extra feature, and it had The Miz winning the Intercontinental title from Wade Barrett in a fairly by the numbers match. It is too bad the preshow was an hour long and they could only give this match about six or seven minutes. Onto the PPV card, which kicked off with The Shield defeating the trio of Randy Orton, Sheamus and The Big Show. This six man tag told a great story back when The Shield were still in their unstoppable phase and had them taking advantage of Orton, Sheamus and Big Show having too much of a combined ego to coexist. I recall being surprised and thrilled to see my man, Mark Henry finally have a Wrestlemania moment and cleanly defeat Ryback. It was sublime to experience it again, even if the match was not all that great.
WWE had another awful program leading up to Undertaker defending his undefeated streak against CM Punk. It started off painfully unoriginal, with four guys all randomly throwing their hats in the ring to face 'Taker at 'Mania, so the RAW GM just threw them in a Fatal 4 Way to determine who faces 'Taker. Yup. Then shortly thereafter, Undertaker's longtime old manager, Paul Bearer passes away, so WWE decides to make this the focus of their rivalry with CM Punk, you guessed it, stealing the urn with Paul Bearer's ashes and dumping them out over a prone Undertaker. Not even CM Punk and his then manager Paul Heyman's trademark killer promos could save this storyline from being a horrible exploit of a real world death. Gut wrenching storyline aside, the two did step up and deliver another Wrestlemania Streak classic that saw all kinds of close near falls and great exchanges that had the crowd completely invested by the end.
The extra features are among the same fare that WM28 has. Aside from the aforementioned preshow match, there are a few bonus segments from RAW featuring key promos from the Punk/Taker, Brock/HHH and Rock/Cena rivalries. There is also a post game show at MetLife stadium featuring Scott Stanford, Kofi Kingston and Dusty Rhodes giving their thoughts on all the matches, and interspersed with brief interviews from some of the wrestlers after the match. I actually enjoyed this and WWE has been making pre and post game shows a regular thing for RAW, Smackdown and PPVs since they launched the WWE Network in February.
Overall, another great Wrestlemania release from WWE. It is worth it for the 2013 Hall of Fame Ceremony alone. Wrestlemania 29 had a great spectacle look with a killer set and production values at MetLife stadium, but the show suffered with about 20-25 minutes of rah rah WWE vignettes featuring the publicly traded company toot their own horn about their charity work throughout the show. They could have easily combined all these segments into one for the same effect, but it was overkill here and it took away from the show. Compared to WM28 which featured a better undercard, slightly better Undertaker match and a superior Rock/Cena encounter, and I can easily recommend that show over this one. However, the 'Mania completionist in me says to buy this anyways for the Hall of Fame, the crazy Brock/Hunter brawl and see the Undertaker defend his streak in another classic match.
Past Wrestling Blogs
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
RoH Supercard of Honor V
WWE Wrestlemania 28