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WWE WrestleMania XXIX(TV) (2013)
It only happens once a year, and in 2013, The Showcase of the Immortals comes to the greater New York City area for WrestleMania XXIX! From MetLife Stadium, the biggest stars in WWE and several returning legends compete on sports entertainment's grandest stage.
For more about WWE WrestleMania XXIX and the WWE WrestleMania XXIX Blu-ray release, see WWE WrestleMania XXIX Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 16, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: John Cena, Mark "The Undertaker" Calaway, CM Punk, Paul "Triple H" Levesque, Brock Lesnar, Sheamus
» See full cast & crew
WWE WrestleMania XXIX Blu-ray Review
Simply the best.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 16, 2013
New York tough to Jersey strong.
WrestleMania is the one event every year -- not just in the WWE but in the broader world of sports and sports entertainment -- that seems to regularly outdo itself, if not always in substance certainly in style and pomp and circumstance, all dripping with a sense of history and electricity that's matched only by the best of the sports world. Yet even the Super Bowl, the World Series, or any of the A-list annual sporting events suffer through the occasional clunker. Even if professional wrestling is engineered so as to guarantee a quality matchup every time, it may be said that it at least always meets expectations. Even at its worst it delivers on the promised goods and, for the dedicated wrestling fan, makes the investment of a springtime Sunday night and a good chunk of cash a worthwhile exchange. The match-ups rarely disappoint in star power or execution. Sure there is some filler -- when is there not -- but move beyond the midway point and it's hold-on-tight for the rest of the night. On the one-year eve of WrestleMania XXX -- what in the world will they do for that anniversary? -- XXIX proves a difficult mountain to topple. From the opening match that's star power galore and on through to a trio of visually exciting, historically relevant, emotionally draining, and simply unforgettable clashes between several wrestling legends, this is "once in a lifetime" all over again, an extravaganza that neither wrestling fans nor history will ever forget.
The show must go on, as they say, and the good people of the New York/New Jersey areas that were most devastated by the October 29, 2012 landfall of Superstorm Sandy -- some still reeling from the destruction and loss of life and property all the way up to and beyond WrestleMania -- welcomed the arrival of the WWE's flagship event just a few months later. No surprise, the WWE didn't disappoint them or its broader audience. The show of shows, the night of nights was held outdoors for only the fifth time in twenty-nine events, this time at the newly christened home of the NFL's Jets and Giants, MetLife Stadium. The 80,676-strong crowd broke attendance records for the two-year-old venue, and they were treated to what might just have been the finest night of sports entertainment the WWE has ever assembled. Despite fifty-something degree weather to start, the fans and the wrestlers both heated the arena with a frenzied energy that began with a star-studded six-man tag team match featuring The Shield on one side of the ring and legendary Superstars Randy Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show on the other. That star power precedent didn't quite hold for the rest of the evening -- one or two of the matches felt like they could have been removed or replaced -- but the closer the evening drew towards the final three incredible matches, the more the palpable excitement and sense of unfolding history gripped the audience, both those attending in person and those channeling the thrills through their television sets.
The evening's opening clash -- the aforementioned six-man tag match -- felt a little more routine than fans might have liked, the event more about the star power involved and involving the crowd in the match more so than putting on a more technically oriented match, the likes of which would be coming later on in the evening. Maybe forgotten in the mayhem of the trio of classic matches to come was the intensity and pure entertainment of the big man matchup that pitted the ripped Ryback against the massive Mark Henry. The clash between two of the WWE most oversized Superstars lived up to the gargantuan promise of the XXXL billing. The next two matches -- another tag match featuring Team Hell No versus Dolph Ziggler and Big E. Langston followed by a singles clash between Chris Jericho and Fandango -- proved suitably entertaining but ultimately seemed to only delay the inevitable, but a good little bit of anticipation is never a bad thing. Besides, it left audiences time to ponder the most important question going: what could possibly possess a male ballroom dancer to to take up professional wrestling, and is that actually more embarrassing than a male marathon runner who races in a cheerleader's costume? The build-up to the final three matches concluded with the "pro/anti immigration" match between the Mexican Millionaire Alberto del Rio and his personal hobbled ring announcer and the "All-American American" Jack Swagger and his good old boy manager, Zeb Colter. The audience favored Del Rio, but would the wrestling gods do likewise?
Finally, the trio of events everyone was waiting for arrived. Though not the main event, Punk-'Taker was perhaps the evening's most anticipated. The Undertaker once again put his undefeated WrestleMania streak on the line against one of the finest champions the WWE has ever known, CM Punk, in a matchup that didn't disappoint in spectacle or execution. Precision wrestling was wed with all-out insanity, resulting in a dream of a matchup that beat the hype and left both combatants executing a number of daring maneuvers and finishers that only left each more battered but more determined to beat the odds, for Punk to end the streak and for The Undertaker to extend it to an unfathomable 21-0. Maybe lost in the hype shuffle was the dream matchup to follow between two of the WWE's most intimidating, focused, ripped, and purely powerful warriors, Triple H and Brock Lesnar. If this one didn't accelerate the heartbeat and create a craving for massive amounts of protein -- just from their entrances -- then nothing could. It was a classic demonstration of power from start to finish; with plenty of action outside the ring and a seemingly endless barrage of beat downs with any implement available -- attached to the body or not -- this was one no-holds-barred clash for the ages. Of course, the WWE saved the best for last, bringing back the once in a lifetime dream matchup between The Rock and John Cena for a second spin around the ring. It was legacy versus redemption in a match that arguably bested the original, a showcase of pure wrestling talent, a display of technical mastery, a clash of two of the highest profile personalities in wrestling history, not just from an outward, physical styling but also considering their inward drive, love of competition, appreciation for the historical significance of their match, and understanding of what it means to be a WWE champion. These are wrestlers of substance of the best kind, two who rightly define the sport and, win or lose, deserve the belt and their place in history. The match met the hype, even if The Rock looked gassed by the time he reached the ring and oftentimes overmatched in it. It's one fans won't want to miss.
As for the Blu-ray release, it's unsurprisingly spectacular. Sure, it's core is only a repeat of the event, but it's an event worth reliving and the quality of the presentation -- from the fold-open case and the artwork inside down to the quality of the video presentation and the hours upon hours of added bonus features across both discs -- makes it a no-brainer for wrestling fans. The event could maybe do without quite so many extracurricular activities, but the WWE certainly has its heart in the right place promoting some of the good causes that are highlighted throughout the program. Rarely does the flow feel interrupted (the Sean Combs musical interlude seems uninspired and completely tacked on, however) and the action rarely seems to pause. The quality, scope, and excitement of the in-arena production values comes through nicely on home video, thanks in part to the Blu-ray format's ability to so precisely capture it but also thanks to the fast-thinking camera work and editing that brings the audience right into the match. Speaking of, this WrestleMania feels more intimate; the wrestlers seem bigger, the camera closer, the quality better. Viewers will quite literally feel like they're in the front row much of the time, which really brings the amazing skills, sizes, and techniques of the Superstars to life like never before.
The following matches are included as part of WrestleMania XXIX:
WWE WrestleMania XXIX Blu-ray, Video Quality
WrestleMania XXIX's high definition transfer might be the best released by the WWE yet. It reveals a nice little uptick in stability and detail over previous releases, which helps to showcase the finest little details seen in some of the many up-close-and-personal shots that put the home audience almost right in the middle of the action. Clarity is excellent and the sharpness and resolution allow for even distant elements -- notably fans and the signs they hoist -- to appear with an accuracy unmatched for a wrestling release. Wrestler close-ups reveal every bead of sweat, each line of the most intricate tattoo, and all the skin textures and hairs. Colors are wonderful, too. The balance and brilliance both are tops for a wrestling title. The digital signage sparkles and wrestler attire pops. The mass of digital green behind Sheamus upon his entrance, the red and orange-dominant WrestleMania banners, and Cena's bright yellow shirt all look fantastic in high definition. Black levels are fairly deep and flesh tones accurate. A bit of messy blocking remains across some darker backgrounds and graphics still show a touch of aliasing and a few jagged lines, but all appear a little less pronounced than normal. This is everything fans expect from an HD WWE release, but improved upon a little bit here and there for a finer viewing experience.
WWE WrestleMania XXIX Blu-ray, Audio Quality
WrestleMania XXIX features a good, though certainly not spectacular, Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. This is basically the average WWE new release event style soundtrack. It delivers ringside commentary with largely faultless clarity and center-front placement. The track offers a good general surround element throughout, though the back channels never do get the same kind of love as do the fronts; the main three dominate the proceedings and there's a lack of real-sounding envelopment, whether crowd ambience or intro music. The former -- crowd noise -- comes through well enough that the din doesn't sound mushy or uncontrolled, while various chants are, for the most part, intelligible. The wrestler intro music spills into the stage but not quite with the sort of potency one can imagine would be experienced in the arena. It does its best to fill the soundstage but never quite achieves an authentic transparency, whether in the deeper notes of Mark Henry's music, the higher pieces of Alberto Del Rio's walk-in tune, or the Hard Rock riffs that accompany Ryback and Big Show. The Sean Combs musical interlude, too, lacks the sort of tight authenticity of the best concert Blu-ray soundtracks, but again the presentation largely suffices for a lossy presentation. This is not reference material, and it's not even the most engaging WWE track, but it suits the material well enough.
WWE WrestleMania XXIX Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
WrestleMania XXIX contains supplements across both discs.
WWE WrestleMania XXIX Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
It's WrestleMania. It's Cena vs. Rock. It's Triple H vs. Lesnar. It's Undertaker vs. Punk. Add in a few more superstars and several additional quality matches and the table is set for the best WrestleMania of them all. Is it? It's close, that's for sure. A few of the matches fall a little flat, but the trifecta main event squeezes out every last drop of adrenaline and then digs deeper to find just a little bit more. Now the question is who will challenge Cena, who will take on the Undertaker, what will be the surprises and story lines leading up to next year's XXX-rated event? Maybe a Vin Diesel appearance? Something a little more racy? Whatever it is, count on the WWE to do all it can to top this year's event. The WrestleMania XXIX two-disc Blu-ray collection delivers strong video, fine audio, and a good amount of extra content, dominated by the 2013 Hall-of-Fame induction ceremony. Highly recommended, and a must-own for wrestling fans.
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