TEN YEARS AFTER: WWE WrestleMania XXIV

WWE: WrestleMania 24
March 30, 2008
Orlando, FL
Citrus Bowl

The current WWE champions are as follows:
WWE Champion: Randy Orton (10/7/2007)
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Chris Jericho (3/10/2008)
World Tag Team Champions: Hardcore Holly & Cody Rhodes (12/10/2007)
WWE Women’s Champion: Beth Phoenix (10/7/2007)
ECW Champion: Chavo Guerrero (1/22/2008)
World Heavyweight Champion: Edge (12/16/2007)
WWE United States Champion: MVP (5/20/2007)
WWE Tag Team Champions: The Miz & John Morrison (11/16/2007)

Read along if you have the WWE Network!

To begin the show, jets fly over the Citrus Bowl as John Legend joins elite company with Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin to perform “America, the Beautiful” at a WrestleMania.

Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole & Jonathan Coachman, and Joey Styles & Tazz.

  • Belfast Brawl: Finlay (w/Hornswoggle) vs. JBL

Horny makes his return since he was assaulted in his hospital bed by JBL last month. This starts on the floor with JBL bullying Finlay, but JBL gets a whip into the steps reversed to turn the tide. Trash cans and kendo sticks are pulled out as JBL wipes out Finlay. WHY NOT JUST USE THE SHILLELAGH. JBL tosses the steps into the ring – because that’s always worked out well for him in the past. He tries a piledriver on the steps, but Finlay backdrops him to the mat. Finlay then whacks on JBL’s head with a cookie sheet. JBL boots him down though and beats him into a pile of nothing down in the corner. JBL grabs the shillelagh (thank you!), but Hornswoggle sneaks in and hits JBL with a kendo stick. As JBL stalks Horny, Finlay picks up the shillelagh and KO’s JBL through the ropes to the floor. Finlay has to power JBL’s huge body into the ring, stomps a trash can on his face, and then goes out and brings a table into the mix. The table gets leaned into the corner, but neither man can whip the other to the wood. After JBL takes a hard lariat from Finlay, he rolls out and grabs Hornswoggle for a bitch slap. Finlay comes to the rescue and bounces JBL’s face off the RAW announce table. JBL retreats to the aisle and arms himself with a trash can lid. Finlay then thinks it’s a good idea for a tope suicida, but gets whacked with the trash can lid. Oh boy. That gets two. A trash can gets thrown at Horny and a trash can goes over Finlay’s skull. Finlay makes one more comeback with the trash can. Finlay Roll connects! JBL then gets tossed through the table for 1-2-NO! Here comes the steps, but JBL whacks him in the knee with the kendo stick and comes off the ropes for the CLOTHESLINE FROM HELL for the win. (8:38) Seems like an unnecessary swerve finish, but okay. Horny cries for his father after the match. **

Elsewhere, Kim Kardashian (back when she was just known to the world for having a sex tape with Snoop Dogg’s cousin) interviews Mr. Kennedy who yells in her face.

  • Money in the Bank Ladder Match

The entrants include: US champ MVP, Carlito, WWE tag team champ John Morrison, CM Punk, Shelton Benjamin, IC champ Chris Jericho, and Mr. Kennedy. While the other guys are sliding ladders into the ring, MVP stays put and grabs a ladder to fight off everybody from returning to the ring. He forgets about Jericho though and gets a jousting to take him out. A ladder is already set up like a scaffold between the ring and the ringside barricade. Meanwhile, Morrison does a MOONSAULT OFF THE TOP HOLDING A LADDER onto a gathering of dudes. While they are selling, Jericho and Kennedy fight over the briefcase. Morrison finds his way on the ladder to stop Kennedy though. Benjamin tries to sneak past them to get to the briefcase, but instead we get a SUNSET FLIP POWERBOMB TOWER OF DOOM. Oh my gosh. Shelton tries to get to the briefcase, but Carlito stops him. Here’s our first look at CM Punk tonight. He pulls Shelton off the ladder into the GTS. Kennedy stops Punk with a Finlay Roll onto a ladder. MVP misses a Helluva Kick in the corner on Carlito and gets his knee whacked with a ladder. Carlito starts the climb, but Benjamin pulls him down and hits the whip kick. As Shelton climbs the ladder, Carlito and Kennedy tip it over forward and Benjamin goes crashing through the ladder scaffold deal on the floor. Welp, he’s done. Now Jericho and Morrison meet at the top of the ladder for the WALLS OF JERICHO. While they are wrapped up, Kennedy climbs a different ladder. Jericho lets Morrison drop to the mat and goes to stop Kennedy. Meanwhile, Punk and Carlito springboard onto a ladder to meet Kennedy and Jericho. Kennedy brings down Punk with a MIC CHECK OFF THE LADDER! Carlito gets shoved down onto his feet, but then brings Jericho down with a BACKSTABBER OFF THE LADDER! Amazing. MVP is the last man standing and goes up the ladder, but then MATT HARDY jumps the rail and brings MVP down off the ladder with a TWIST OF FATE. The crowd goes absolutely insane here. And just like that, Matt Hardy is gone again. The ladders get stuck together and one of the ladders gets flipped so that a person could conceivably climb up the ladder and reach the briefcase. Of course, John Morrison is that guy to try it only to reach the briefcase and get dropped crotch-first on the top rope. Jericho, Carlito, and Kennedy all try for the briefcase, but can’t reach it. Punk stops Kennedy with a ladder shot, but then Jericho gives Punk a CODEBREAKER with the ladder in between them. However, they end up meeting at the top of the ladder for a struggle, but Punk pulls Jericho’s legs through the rungs of the ladder and gets him stuck so he can reach the MITB briefcase for the win. (14:06) Great moment as it finally seems like WWE might be taking CM Punk seriously. Very good match, too. While still a bunch of crazy spots, it’s good to see they have toned down some of the craziness in these ladder matches. ***½

Howard Finkel introduces the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2008. Of course, Ric Flair doesn’t appear and it’s just his fam instead. Yes, even Charlotte.

Todd Grisham hangs out with Snoop Dogg backstage. Snoop says he has really bonded with Festus backstage. When Santino shows up letting Snoop know there better not be any funny business during the Playboy BunnyMania match, Snoop hammers a ring bell and makes Festus chase away Santino. Next thing we know, Mick Foley shows up with a Snoop Dogg Socko. Foley is now a parody of himself.

  • Batista vs. Umaga

Crazy how both guys were in big time marquee matches last year and now they are put into a throwaway heatless match. The respective brand GMs introduce their featured talents. They go tit-for-tat power wise until Umaga starts throwing out kicks and sends Bats to the floor for a hard thump. Back inside, Umaga starts splashing the back and whipping Batista into the corners. He misses a flying headbutt though. Bats tries a slam and collapses with Umaga on top for two. NERVE HOLD TIME. Batista elbows out, but gets caught with a Samoan Drop for another nearfall. Bats avoids the Samoan Spike and Umaga’s missed avalanche sends his head cracking off the top of the ringpost. As Umaga spins around into a Spinebuster, Bats PSYCHES HIMSELF UP for one messy DEMON BOMB for the win. (7:07) The crowd was actually more behind Umaga than my man Bats. It reminded me of his 2014 run, but uhh, ya know, here in 2008. *½

  • ECW Championship: Chavo Guerrero (c) vs. Kane

We get highlights of the dark match 24-man battle royal where Kane last eliminated Mark Henry to a HUGE pop. Armando Alejandro Estrada introduces the champion and challenger. This is the one and only time the ECW championship would be defended at a WrestleMania. Kane comes up from under the ring to surprise Chavo and squash him with a CHOKESLAM for the win and the title in 11 seconds. N/R

They air the great WrestleMania promo video where Carlito is on a date with Maria and gets attacked left and right by seagulls.

Back when she was just known for being on a cheesy Disney sitcom and not as that liberal weirdo jerk on The View, Raven-Symone applauds WWE for having the Make-A-Wish kids here. Lawler says he’s a huge Raven-Symone fan. Yikes.

After they air the “Leave the Memories Alone” video package, Mike Adamle asks Ric Flair what his game plan will be. His game plan is – to be the man. And that’s that.

  • Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair

I have to mention that Flair’s robe is just tremendous here. I believe the WOO signs stretch out all over the arena. What an atmosphere for the man. As you reading already know, this is a “career threatening” match for Flair. If he loses, his time in WWE will be over. Hammerlock exchange to start. They head over to a corner where Flair tries to intimidate Shawn shouting, “Old Yeller, huh?”. Shawn returns fire with a slap, which busts open Flair’s lip. Shawn wants Flair’s BEST tonight. Flair wins a chopfest and delivers the Rolling Knee Drop. Michaels gets slammed off the top, while Flair FINALLY lands that flying bodypress he’s always to do. To be fair, babyface Flair actually did come off the top rope. Shawn kicks Flair out to the floor when he tries the Figure-Four. With Flair up against an announce table, Shawn delivers an Asai Moonsault and misses, hitting his mid-section on the edge of the table! OUCH. Back inside, Flair ravages Shawn with whips into the corner. Back suplex is followed by a butterfly suplex. Hourglass suplex gets two. Back to the floor, Shawn takes another crazy chance by hitting Flair with a moonsault press! He didn’t get all or even most of it though. They make it back inside at the count of nine. Another chop exchange leads to the Flying Forearm from Shawn. He mounts the comeback, hits the Flying Elbow, and “tunes up the band”. Reluctant to be the guy who ends Flair’s career, Shawn stops himself from kicking Flair and gets scooped up into the FIGURE-FOUR! WOOO! Shawn reverses out though. They try the headlock-headscissors sequence into a backslide, but Flair doesn’t seem to be able to help out with Shawn bridging up. Flair whips Shawn in the corner for the Ray Stevens bump. With Shawn staggering, he catches him with a nasty chopblock. Michaels counters the next attempt at the Figure-Four, but can’t stop the second shot. He tries to reverse, but Flair rolls with the momentum. Oh, but Shawn makes the ropes. Flair walks away to ‘style and profile’, but turns back around into SWEET CHIN MUSIC. Slow cover gets 1-2-NO! Michaels wants to nail him real good with Sweet Chin Music, but Flair won’t get up. Shawn goes over to help him up only to catch a low blow! Flair crawls on top for 1-2-NO! Shawn applies his Inverted Figure-Four. Flair quickly reaches the ropes and very easily pulls off the bottom turnbuckle pad. While Robinson is taking care of that, Flair pokes Shawn in the eye and rolls him up for 1-2-NO! Another chop battle culminates with another SWEET CHIN MUSIC. Now Shawn “tunes up the band”, tells Flair that he’s sorry and that he loves him, and puts him down with SWEET CHIN MUSIC. (20:25) It’s not a technical masterpiece, but what a strong and emotional story told here. I don’t think they capitalized enough on the two high-risk spots that Michaels tried though. Normally I wouldn’t think it would have been necessary in a Flair match, but it does give you the idea that the bumps he took looked brutal and they give Flair an advantage that he could potentially pull this off and keep his career alive. There couldn’t possibly be a better sendoff for him. Like any other wrestling fan, I just wish he had made better money and relationship decisions in his life so he could just sit back and enjoy the fruits of his labor like someone like Roddy Piper has done, for example. ***½

  • Playboy BunnyMania Lumberjack Match: Ashley & Maria vs. Melina & Beth Phoenix (w/Santino Marella)

Snoop Dogg is the special MC for this one. He rides out to the ring in a pimped out Mercedes Benz golf cart. The WWE Divas who will be serving as lumberjacks follow behind him and try to look like they are having fun. The ten lumberjacks include Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Cherry, Eve, Jillian Hall, Michelle McCool, Katie Lea Burchill, Victoria, Maryse, and Layla. Snoop gives a shoutout to his main man Ric Flair. Santino comes out looking all cool wearing a sky blue boa and sunglasses. Beth overpowers both Ashley and Maria to start. They do manage to double hiptoss her over to Melina for a tag. She gets dumped to the floor for a beating and tossed back into the ring. The buttalanche and the bronco buster punishes Melina for two. Tag to Ashley, she delivers a tilt-a-whirl headscissors and hits a facebuster out of the corner. Beth and Melina cheat to turn the tide as Ashley gets tossed to the floor for a beating. Back inside, Phoenix bearhugs Ashley and then tags in Melina who gets flipped off her shoulders into a moonsault onto Ashley for two. As Maria gets the tag, the lights go out. Hard to believe Maria is able to hang with Phoenix. They use an emergency spotlight to help out. Maria actually counters out of Phoenix’s finish with a wheelbarrow bulldog. Whoa. As Ashley and Melina go to the floor, Maria hits a flying bulldog on Beth for 1-2-NO! Santino pulls Maria off the pin. Lawler has enough of this Italian idiot and walks over to clock him. Meanwhile, Beth jumps Maria and hits the FISHERMAN’S BUSTER for the win. (6:00) Afterwards, Santino stands over Maria when SNOOP DOGG comes in and drills him with a clothesline. After Santino clears out mad, Snoop helps up Maria and plants a smooch on her. Oh boy. ½*

  • WWE Championship: Randy Orton (c) vs. John Cena vs. Triple H

Right at the bell, Orton grabs his belt and nails Triple H to take him out of the action to stress this match is NO DISQUALIFICATION. Cena, however, seizes the moment and runs wild on Orton. Once Triple H wakes up, he throws Cena out on one side of the ring and takes Orton on another to beat him up on the RAW announce table. Back inside, Cena breaks up a sleeperhold with a DOUBLE FU attempt, but Triple H gets off Cena’s shoulders and kicks him in the balls. Orton catches Triple H with the Inverted Backbreaker (atomic drop, JR?) and Garvin Stomps them both. Cena catches Orton up top, but here comes Triple H to put Cena on his shoulders. Orton flies off the top with a flying body press to Cena, but Cena rolls through and looks for an FU. Triple H takes a kick from Cena, but that’s enough distraction to allow Orton to slide down Cena’s back for a rollup for two. Orton ducks a running clothesline from Triple H which nails Cena and then Orton nails Triple H with a running clothesline of his own. He drills both Cena and Triple H with a DDT through the ropes. Can’t get the pinfall though. RKO TIME. Who will taste the RKO first? It’s Cena, but he pushes Orton off onto Triple H. Cena hits the Throwback to Orton and comes off the top with the Flying Famouser. Orton ducks out to avoid the STFU and drives Cena into the ringpost. In the ring, Triple H goes after Orton’s knee and keeps Cena at bay. However, Orton pops up and drills him with an RKO FROM OUTTA NOWHERE! As Orton struggles to get to his feet, Cena grabs him for the STFU. Just before Orton goes out, Triple H prevents him from tapping and drags Cena to the floor to send him into the steps. Back inside, Triple H applies an Indian deathlock to Orton only for Cena to break up the hold. Cena sends Triple H into the corner for the Harley Race bump. Now back to the STFU on Orton. Triple H comes back inside and pulls Cena’s hands loose to lock in a (CRIPPLER) CROSSFACE. Cena looks ready to tap, but reaches the ropes. Triple H and Cena now get into a YAY-BOO punch exchange. Cena wins that exchange, hits the shoulderblocks, the Protobomb, and delivers the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Finishers are attempted back and forth. Triple H hits the Facebuster and the AA Spinebuster. He clips Orton’s knee as he tries coming back into the ring. FU is blocked by HHH, but the PEDIGREE IS NOT. Cover, 1-2-NO! Orton punts Triple H off the cover and collapses on top of Cena for the win in a great finish. (14:11) Strong contender for match of the night. They did a great job making Orton look like a star here. ****

  • No Holds Barred: The Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather

Money gets dropped into the crowd before the match. That had to be fun for security. Mayweather wisely tries to stick and move with body shots to start, but then takes a break to drink out of his pimp chalice. That doesn’t settle too well with Show, so he makes an example out of one of Mayweather’s entourage buddies. He pulls the guy into the ring by his shirt, rips it off, and then slaps the shit out of him. Mayweather then goes for the punch to the chin, but Show catches the punch and tries to stomp his hand. Show gets Mayweather up in the corner, but Mayweather punches back and puts a sleeperhold on him. Big Show actually starts to fade away, but then flips Mayweather over and steps on his wrist. Mayweather’s cornerman in the white suit shouts that Show can’t be doing that. Yeah, he can. Show then SHH slaps Mayweather and steps on his back. He then hits a side slam and steps on Mayweather’s mid section. The crowd is genuinely enjoying watching Floyd Mayweather get torn apart. Show hits an elbow drop and as he asks the crowd for one more, Mayweather’s entourage decides it’s time for them to leave with Floyd. Oh, no. Show isn’t going to let this happen. He tears through security and beats Mayweather back to the ring. One security guy gets punched down while another one hits Show in the back with a chair. When Show NO-SELLS, he gives the guy a CHOKESLAM. Obviously, these are some developmental guys. As Show turns around, Mayweather beats him down with a chair. Enough of that, Show looks for a Chokeslam only for Mayweather to kick him in the groin. More chair shots from Mayweather. When that’s not enough, Mayweather pulls out some brass knucks from one of his boys, and wallops Show for the KNOCKOUT victory. (11:36) One of the most fun celebrity matches ever. ***½

To a mixed reaction, Kim Kardashian is in the ring to announce the new Citrus Bowl attendance record of 74,635.

  • World Heavyweight Championship: Edge (c) vs. The Undertaker

Edge shoves Taker back to start and then quickly winds up on the floor. Back inside, Taker slugs him in the corner and then follows up with the Jumping Lariat. Time for Old School, but Edge pulls him down. Taker sees it coming and flings Edge back into the corner for some choking. Think they flubbed a missed corner charge spot as Taker goes crashing to the floor even though he hit Edge with his knee. Edge knocks Taker off the apron into the barricade and keeps him on the floor for a while. Back in the ring, Edge corners Taker for a spear and keeps him down. Taker finally catches a break as Edge goes up top as Taker shoves him down to the floor. Here comes Taker’s WrestleMania NO HANDS PLANCHA. He then puts Edge on the apron for the kick and the legdrop. Taker’s back hurts too much for the Last Ride thanks to the plancha, so Edge gets free and boots him down. To the floor, Edge gives Taker a backbreaker onto the barricade. Back in, Edge covers Taker for two. He punishes Taker some more with a half crab and his knee stuck in Taker’s back. Taker manages to power out for a YAY-BOO punch exchange. He comes back with Snake Eyes, but Edge stops the big boot with a dropkick for two. Taker goozles Edge though, but Edge counters with a DDT for another nearfall. The SPEAR gets kicked away and Taker delivers a CHOKESLAM for 1-2-NO! Old School gets blocked again and delivers a superplex. Cover, 1-2-NO! They do the Last Ride spot out of the corner, but Edge COUNTERS again and hits a reverse neckbreaker for two. Another shot at the LAST RIDE and this time Taker gets it for 1-2-NO! Time for the Tombstone, but Edge COUNTERS to the Edge-O-Matic for 1-2-NO! Taker boots down Edge and finally lands Old School, but then ref Jimmy Korderas gets wiped out. Edge hits an inverted DDT, but of course there’s no ref. He stands over Taker telling him how it’s over for the dead man, but Taker goozles him and gets up to his feet only to take a swift kick to the balls. Edge wallops Taker with a camera to play off the Survivor Series finish. But yeah, no ref. Edge looks for a Tombstone, but Taker reverses into a TOMBSTONE of his own. No ref, guys. Oh wait, here comes Charles Robinson SPRINTING to the ring. I love how they don’t bother getting a replacement ref until there’s a pinfall attempt. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder come down, but they are of no consequence. Taker chokeslams one onto the other, but then turns around into a SPEAR from Edge! Cover, 1-2-NO! Another SPEAR, but Taker pulls Edge into HELL’S GATE for the tapout and the world title. (23:49) Edge is bleeding from the mouth afterwards. Good psychology here as Edge had a counter for everything Taker threw at him – except the gogoplata. I don’t think it holds up to be as exciting as it might have been at the time. Not enough convincing nearfalls for me and I think the ref bump was ultimately unnecessary and killed some of the momentum when it shouldn’t have. All the same, a clear highlight match for Edge’s career. ***½

Final Thoughts: The show has a lot of good stuff on it. Both title matches were just fine, although not the MOTYC some people are touting them as at the time. I think you could make the argument that Flair riding off into the sunset would have made for a better finish for the PPV in general than another win for the Undertaker. And that, I think, is the biggest problem I have with this show. Had they rearranged the matches a bit to build to a better climax, it might have felt less plodding. I like Edge, but he never felt big time to me. The crowd looked pretty listless going into the main event. Part of that may be from the 4+ hours of this show, but the fact that the match was a foregone conclusion didn’t help the situation. There’s enough here to earn the show a recommendation, especially with the atmosphere and Flair’s last WWE match, but sometimes less is more. Thumbs in the middle leaning upwards for WrestleMania 24.

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