February 20, 2015
WrestleMania XXIV was held March 30th, 2008 from the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL. The announced attendance was 74,635. This was a tri-branded show with RAW, SmackDown, and ECW (WWE's version) represented. This also provided us with three full announce teams: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler for RAW, Michael Cole & Jonathon Coachman for SD, and Joey Styles & Tazz for ECW.
If you've read my previous Mania reviews you may remember that I had never seen most of them before, because I generally never ordered PPVs but this event was an exception. This Event was going to be Ric Flair's retirement match and there was no way I was going to miss it, so I purchased this show.
Finlay vs. JBL (Belfast Brawl): Hornswaggle was out with Finlay and we got a video package explaining the Vince McMahon illegitimate son angle with Hornswaggle, and how it was revealed that he was in fact Finlay's son after all. The match only went 9 mins but it was a great believable fight. There were a lot of head shots but thankfully they were with lighter trash cans and lids, rather than chairs.
MITB: Punk, Benjamin, Jericho, Carlito, MVP, Kennedy, Morrison: This was just an amazing exciting match. Seeing this match here really made me long for MITB to be a part of WrestleMania rather than a standalone PPV. It fit so much better here. It added a can't miss exciting match to Mania, it gave a high profile match to those hard working athletic guys who often don't get a highlighted angle leading into Mania, and by doing it at Mania we always knew when the year expired on the contract. It provided us with some post Mania excitement, because we often get a cooling off period post Mania but MITB always gave us a couple teased cash ins right after Mania that provided excitement. Also by not having it as the Main Event of a PPV you could keep your top players out of it, giving young new blood the chance to step up. This was so much fun, and Punk picked up the win.
Batista vs. Umaga (RAW vs. SD): This match was in a tough spot following the MITB, and as a result felt pretty slow and uneventful. There was a blonde chick in the front row that was chewing gum with her mouth open the whole match, which drove me nuts. Batista lost his balance on the PowerBomb finish but managed to save it and plant Umaga for the win.
Chavo vs. Kane (ECW Title): Kane won a Battle Royal on the preshow to earn this title shot, and he won the title in maybe 10 sec. The entire match was a choke slam 1...2...3. Why they didn't put this match right after MITB to give Big Dave and Umaga a better chance to get over I have no idea.
Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels (Flair's career at stake): The video package for this match alone was awesome. The story was that if Flair lost he would retire, and as a result HBK didn't want to wrestle him. Flair demanded that Shawn not only wrestle him but give him his best, because if he couldn't hang then he should retire. This match was so God damned good; it was what wrestling is supposed to be. It was an emotional journey that we cared about. It wasn't about the moves it was about the match and who won. They got emotion out of trading blows and submission holds. Shawn did pull out 2 huge moonsaults in this match, the most notable one where he crashed into the announce desk, but I really wish he hadn't. Without those 2 bumps the match would have still been awesome and they would have done it with no big moves what so ever. I loved this match so much. Flair is an artist and while he was past his prime here, his brush strokes not as precise, his colours not as brilliant, he was still a Picasso or Rembrandt; so this was a work of art. The ending of "I'm sorry, I love you" was so perfect and probably so true. Stuff like this is why I love wrestling!
Beth Phoenx & Melina vs. Ashley & Maria (Playboy BunnyMania Lumber Jill Match): These poor girls were in a death spot. They had to follow the retirement match of arguably the greatest professional wrestler of all time; good luck. If that wasn't bad enough the lights died in the match and the ring was black for a period of time. Snoop Dog was the Master of Ceremonies or something for this match and drove the Snoopmobile to the ring, while all of the Lumber Jills followed him to the ring. There were a ton of girls, they weren't introduced and most either just walked or mildly danced down the ramp to ring side. One girl was dancing her ass off the whole way down and when she got to ringside I determined it was my little sister Victoria, she was having fun. Like I said this match was doomed before it started, it was rushed, nothing much sank in, add to that lights out and this wasn't any good. Even odder it was a Playboy Bunny Mania match and the Playboy girls got beat; Beth pinned Maria. After the match Snoop bumped Santino (a heel with Beth) and then kissed Maria. Poor Snoop. Likely got a big payday, a private Snoopmobile to drive to ringside, a thrown to sit in during the match, and then gets to make out with Maria.
Orton vs. Cena vs. HHH (WWE Title): Cena had a big marching band entrance but HHH and Orton just got regular ones. Cena was heavily booed, HHH was cheered, and Orton was also booed although not as loudly as Cena. This was a good solid match with a lot of drama built around submission holds. Eventually HHH hit Cena with the Pedigree, but on the cover Orton ran in to hit the punt of doom on HHH and pinned Cena to retain the title. I think at the time no one expected Orton to retain but he did.
Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather: This match was so much better than it had any right to be. Floyd did way more than you would expect and they did a great job of laying this match out; it told a great story. Floyd sold his ass off, had his entourage take some big bumps for Show and even took a side slam himself. Floyd won after a couple of chair shots to the head of show and then a KO punch with brass knuckles.
Edge vs. The Undertaker (World Title): This was an awesome main event and the only thing missing that could have made it better was Jim Ross. This was a SD match so we had Michael Cole and Jonathon Coachman calling it. They were fine but they were no Jim Ross. This match was about move and counter moves. Edge managed to counter pretty much every move Taker attempted into really good near falls. Taker eventually hit his stuff but Edge kicked out. This was really great drama. In the end Edge hit the Spear but The Undertaker countered with his Hell's Gate submission hold for the win and the Championship. This finish was about 6 months in the making. When Taker started using it, it wasn't over at all and I thought it was a terrible move idea. I thought Taker going to his back to win a match was just so against who the Undertaker was, but after 6 months or so of beating people with it to get it over it paid off here. I suspect the plan to face Edge at Mania came about first, and they thought of this great finish and then Taker set out to get this thing over for this one time major pay off. This was also one of those perfect wrestling matches in where the guy who loses gets even more over in the loss. The Undertaker especially at WrestleMania is on a whole other level and in this clean submission loss Edge stepped up to that level. A great great way to end a really good WrestleMania.
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