Once again, it's the most exciting weekend of the year. The Super Bowl and the World Series can go take a hike, because it's time to talk pro wrestling. That's right; WrestleMania 29 takes place on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The PPV proper kicks off at 7 p.m. ET, with a pre-show on YouTube beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.
If you've been a lapsed wrestling fan since the last WrestleMania -- or perhaps for longer! -- we've got you covered. It's tough to keep up with wrestling every week when there are so many other sports going on all the time. Trust us; we do this for a living. So kick back, relax and enjoy this in-depth preview, which will tell you who's who, what you can expect and why you're about to get emotionally invested in guys wailing on each other for four-plus hours come Sunday.
Intercontinental Championship: Wade Barrett (c) vs. The Miz
The backstory: Wade Barrett is an Englishman with a past as a bare-knuckle brawler. He's been the Intercontinental champ for a little while (but he has also been losing a lot of non-title matches to bigger stars as of late). The Miz used to be the WWE Champion! Lately, the Miz has been a good guy with some hurt ribs. Ric Flair passed down his figure-four leglock to the Miz! That's neat!
This match is the "special interactive pre-show match" that will be free for everyone in the world to watch. I don't know what "interactive" means but this match is technically part of WrestleMania!
Why you should care: These are both wrestlers that the WWE has been really, really high on in the past but have never really caught on like they had hoped. Whoever loses this match will likely have the saddest night at WrestleMania. So that's something to root for, in a way.
WWE Tag Team Championship: Team Hell No (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston
The backstory: Team Hell No is comprised of Kane and Daniel Bryan. They were forced to be tag team partners as part of anger management counseling and have since become the worstbest of hatefriends. Their power is derived from hugs! Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston are a little cocky guy and a huge menacing goofy muscleman, respectively. One team has the tag team belts and the other team wants them. Sometimes it's just that simple.
Why you should care: This match features three of the most goofy and entertaining wrestlers in the world and also Kane. It may very well end up being the most out-and-out fun match on the card.
Tons of Funk & the Funkadactyls vs. Team Rhodes Scholars & the Bella Twins
The backstory: "Tons of Funk" is "The Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay and Tensai (the former Albert). The Funkadactyls are Clay's backup dancers. Team Rhodes Scholars are comprised of snooty intellectual Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes, famous for dodging the genetic bullet of having Dusty Rhodes for a father. The Bella Twins are two women WHO ARE TOTALLY RELATED AND ABSOLUTELY IDENTICAL TWIN SISTERS AND EVERYTHING I SWEAR. It's fat guys against smug guys, basically.
Why you should care: Every WrestleMania has a train wreck and there's no way this match won't be that. Whereas Daniel Bryan, Big E Langston and Dolph Ziggler are goofy in a good way, Tons of Funk is ... not that. Team Rhodes Scholars are great, but if you're hoping to just see a big mess, this is your best chance.
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
The backstory: Chris Jericho is pretty much as you remember him, but older, with a few tattoos and even more desperate rehab dad hair. Fandango is a ballroom dancer.
Yep, you read that right. In 2013, the WWE debuted a guy whose gimmick is that he likes to dance, ballroom-style.
... And he is AWESOME.
These guys hate each other because Chris Jericho once danced on a TV show and Fandango is a dancing wrestler. Sometimes these things just write themselves, people.
Why you should care: There are two types of wrestling fans in the world: people who will hate Fandango's guts because it's so stupid that he exists and people who will love Fandango unconditionally because it's so stupid that he exists. Either way, you will be fully engaged in this match to an extent you didn't imagine was possible.
Ryback vs. Mark Henry
The backstory: Ryback is an enormous Goldberg-type monster who demands that you "feed [him] more [wrestling opponents]." Mark Henry is a monster-type monster who obliterates fools and is a legitimate terrifying monster. They hate each other because as Godzilla movies have taught us, MONSTERS MUST FIGHT.
Why you should care: MONSTER VERSUS MONSTER WHAT IS NOT TO LIKE
Randy Orton, Sheamus & The Big Show vs. The Shield
The backstory: The Shield is comprised of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, AKA "three guys in utility vests." Their mission is a little nebulous at this point, so just consider them "outsiders who claim to hate the WWE" and you'll be okay. Randy Orton, Sheamus and the Big Show had nothing better to do, so here we are. The twist in this is that the "good guys" aren't sure whether they're all on the same page. And considering the Big Show was trying to murder them two months ago, they probably have a point there.
Why you should care: This is probably a match where a lot of big, crazy things are going to happen. Someone is probably going to break a guard rail or something. It should be good fun with a lot of wild power moves. Maybe someone will go through a table! That would be neat!
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Jack Swagger
The backstory: Alberto Del Rio is a proud Mexican hero. Jack Swagger has aligned himself with Tea Party-like manager Zeb Colter and is trading on anti-immigration jingoism. It's a politically-charged feud that has a lot of solid buildup and has told a good story. Also, it's pretty original.
Why you should care: Maybe your personal politics will be validated by the outcome! How often does THAT happen in football, huh?
No Holds Barred: Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar
The backstory: Vince McMahon was about to fire Paul Heyman when Brock Lesnar showed up (again) and laid waste to the owner of the WWE. The real-life son-in-law and COO of WWE, Triple H, took exception to this and now THERE'S A-GONNA BE A FIGHT. The stipulation here is that if Triple H loses, he must be retire. Which is kind of weird, because he sorta already retired after losing to the Undertaker at last year's WrestleMania. But whatever!
Why you should care: Because it's Brock dang Lesnar against Triple H, one of the last wrestlers you still recognize. If there's going to be blood at WrestleMania, it's going to be in this match. And it's a street fight at WrestleMania, which means there's going to be one humongous set-piece stunt. What will it be? Will a fake Statue of Liberty be thrown at someone? Will someone get thrown through a fake Empire State Building? There is literally no telling!
The Undertaker vs. CM Punk
The backstory: The Undertaker has one of the only records in pro wrestling that still matters: he's never been defeated at WrestleMania. It's such a big deal that 1) It's the only time each year that Undertaker wrestles and 2) This year they had people fight for the right to be in a match with him at WrestleMania. CM Punk won the honor this year and used the real-life death of Paul Bearer to mock and torment the Dead Man. (That's what they call the Undertaker, because he is a literal undead ghoul.)
Why you should care: CM Punk poured the Undertaker's dead storyline father's ashes onto him. That's pretty incredible.
WWE Championship: The Rock (c) vs. John Cena
The backstory: The Rock and John Cena! They fought last year at WrestleMania in a match that was billed as "Once in a Lifetime." Now they're uh ... doing it again? But this time it's for the top title in the company! That's a neat twist!
Why you should care: Because it's the Rock against John Cena. You know you're gonna have a good time. It's going to be like 40 minutes long and they're going to do a million finishers.
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