Wrestlemania, the biggest show in the wrestling calendar, is the official year end for WWE. This year’s event was held in Orlando, Florida at the Citrus Bowl and was only the second Wrestlemania to be held outdoors (the other was Wrestlemania IX). Being an outdoor venue, the Citrus Bowl offered the WWE production team (in my opinion, the best production team in the entire world) to really show off what they can do; it’s no exaggeration to say that the production added almost as much to the event as the wrestlers themselves. The set design of the entranceway and the rig around the ring looked spectacular (especially once darkness fell) and gave the event that “Wrestlemania feel”.
Running Time: 494mins (8hrs 14mins)
- John Legend Sings ‘America the Beautiful’
- Belfast Brawl: Finlay v JBL
- Kim Kardashian Introduces the “Money in the Bank” Ladder Match
- Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Chris Jericho v Shelton Benjamin v John Morrison v Carlito v CM Punk v MVP v Mr. Kennedy
- Highlights of the Hall of Fame Ceremony
- Howard Finkel Introduces the 2008 WWE Hall of Fame Inductees
- Todd Grisham Interviews Snoop Dogg
- Battle for Brand Supremacy: Batista v Umaga
- Floyd “Money” Mayweather & His Entourage
- ECW Championship Match: Chavo Guerrero v Kane
- Wish You Were Here: Carlito and the Seagull
- Raven Symone Welcomes Make-A-Wish
- Mike Adamle Interviews Ric Flair
- Career Threatening Match: Ric Flair v Shawn Michaels
- Todd Grisham Interviews Edge
- Playboy Bunnymania Lumberjack Match: Maria & Ashley v Beth Phoenix & Melina
- Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship: Randy Orton v John Cena v Triple H
- The Biggest v The Best: Big Show v Floyd “Money” Mayweather
- Wish You Were Here: Batista the Ladies Man
- Kim Kardashian Announces Wrestlemania XXIV Attendance
- World Heavyweight Championship Match: Edge v Undertaker’s
- Wrestlemania XXIV Highlights
Hall of Fame 2008 Induction Ceremony
- Hall of Fame Open
- Jack and Gerry Brisco
- Gordon Solie
- Mae Young
- Eddie Graham
- Rocky Johnson
- Rocky Johnson – continued
- High Chief Peter Maivia
- John Cena Congratulates the Hall of Fame 2008 Inductees
- Ric Flair
- Special Feature – Wrestlemania XXIV Battle Royal
- Debut Of Save_Us.222 (RAW – November 19th, 2007)
One of my favourite things about open-air sporting events is that they (normally) start in daylight and you watch the show as the sky gets darker; it adds to the main-event feel of the later matches and just makes them seem that little more special.
This year’s Mania had plenty of aerial shots and really allowed the pyrotechnic crew to go into overdrive; although the latter wasn’t required for the opening contest, a stiff little brawl between JBL and Finlay (stemming from Bradshaw’s assault of Hornswoggle on RAW a few weeks prior) that followed the traditional singing of the American national anthem. The two veterans put forth an enjoyable effort, the highlight of which was a hurled trash can smacking the leprechaun right in the face. It’s what a good PPV opener should be; not too long, eye-catching and with enough involved to get the fans hyped from the opening bell. Personally, I’d rather the MitB match was the opener due it virtually guaranteeing the fans excitement… but maybe that’s just me.
Kim Kardashian earns her pay by introducing the Money in the Bank match which should have been Jeff Hardy’s ticket to the WWE or World Championship. Unfortunately for the younger Hardy, he was a naughty boy and got suspended for sixty days, meaning the result of this match wasn’t the foregone conclusion we all thought it would be.
Some fantastic spots (as always) really helped push this to the levels of the first (and best) MitB encounter. From John Morrison moonsaulting from the top turnbuckle… to the outside… WHILE HOLDING A LADDER, to Shelton Benjamin almost killing himself as he tops the Jeff Hardy/Edge highspot from the previous year, the match was the perfect example of high-spot wrestling. Add in a surprise run-in that had the fans on their feet and a popular outcome and you have a match that did what it was designed to do; get the crowd excited with “aahhhh” moments and elevate someone to the main-event scene (although the latter did take a while and it’s still unsure how successful he will be in the role).
The highlights of the HoF ceremony are pretty much redundant with this collection seeing as the entire event is included across the discs two and three, but it’s still nice to see the old-timers getting some respect from the capacity crowd on hand.
Wrestlemania is also known as the time of year WWE and “mainstream” celebrities mix and this year was no exception. Kim Kardashian and Raven Symone (more on her later) looked uncomfortable, but Snoop Dogg truly respects wrestling and seemed to have a ball. His backstage segment with Todd Grisham and Festus (a man “he has a lot in common with) becomes comedy gold when Santino Marella shows his face. Santino may be lower-midcard in the ring, but he is main-event on the mic, and this is a prime example. Add in a cameo from Mick Foley and MC Socko and you have a backstage comedy skit that other wrestling companies (and some sketch shows) would kill for.
The first real disappointment of the night is up next as Batista takes on Umaga in a Smackdown v RAW grudge match. On paper, this should have been a thrilling brawl (especially if Batista was “on”), but it failed to live up to the hype. Batista’s powerbomb isn’t botched as much as people tried to make out (and can be excused due to the beating he’s taken and the size of Umaga himself), but the match never really gets going. Truth be told, it’s as if Batista (and maybe Umaga) felt the match was beneath them and didn’t really try as hard as they have had before. My only hope is that this is as bad as they can get when facing each other.
We get treated to a backstage segment with Floyd Mayweather and his posse which does its job. Mayweather, like Snoop Dogg earlier, seems to really respect the wrestling business and is a tailor-made fit for the industry. He is pretty much a real-life version of the MVP character and I’ve heard a few people (particularly my good friend, Mitchell Jones) say that Montel Vontavious Porter should steal the garnish Mayweather surrounded himself with (entourage, money, high-level rap star providing music, etc).
The first championship match of the evening isn’t a knock-down, drag-out affair that the ECW Title has had in the past. Kane had won a pre-show Battle Royal (shown on disc three) to earn a shot at Chavo’s title… and he didn’t waste it; pinning Chavo in eight seconds to claim his first singles title since he was Intercontinental Champion in September 2002. Some people felt ripped-off by the shortness of the match, but I personally felt that it worked to get Kane over as the champion of the third brand.
Besides, even if the ECW Championship match had been a thirty-five minute classic, no-one would care for it when the bell rang for the next match. Preceded by a commercial featuring Carlito being harassed by a seagull and Raven Symone, looking as uncomfortable as you could possibly get, introducing the Make-A-Wish kids who were invited to attend by WWE (the Make-A-Wish deals that WWE do is something the company is rightfully proud of and it’s a shame the media ignore that to focus on the “bad” things instead), the match between Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels was, to some, the only reason they were in Florida.
The raw emotion shown in this match is off the charts, with both men giving their all and Flair putting in a performance worthy of being the last of his career. Even though the result was never really in doubt, there was times when it looked like a swerve was on the cards. The HBK moonsault of death onto the announce table was breathtaking and the finish of the bout, with Michaels mouthing “I’m sorry… I love you” as Flair stood in front of him demanding to be kicked, was as emotional and heartbreaking as pro-wrestling can get. Shawn showed real class in leaving the ring pretty much straight away; leaving Flair to soak in one of the most well-deserved standing ovations of all time. With every single one of the 74,365 in attendance cheering, clapping and chanting “Thank you, Ric” over and over, the man himself went out and embraced his family before talking that last walk up the elongated aisle and disappearing behind the curtain.
The only disappointment here is that there is no extra showing the scenes behind the curtain when Flair stepped through it. Perhaps this will be on the new Ric Flair DVD.
Not many people would be able to follow the roller-coaster put on by Flair and Michaels, so full credit to Edge for being one of them. His promo about being in the crowd when Hulk Hogan lost to The Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI and how it affected him was one of his best. It was close to being the perfect heel promo and sets up his first ‘Mania main-event really well.
In hindsight, it made sense for the Bunnymania match to go on after Flair was retired; there were no high expectations put on the contest, so it was under no pressure to live up to what went before it. “Snoopy the Dogg” was again on fire in his role, from his pimped-out Golf Cart, his Mcing and particularly his post-match interaction with Santino Marella. Most of the women looked pretty good too, which is always a bonus.
Credit must also go to the ladies for continuing on when the lights in the stadium went out and they had to wrestle under a spotlight.
Bringing the first disc to a close is the second of three main-event matches and the first of two World title defences. The three-way for the WWE Championship had a fantastic build; from Cena entering the Rumble in the surprise of the year, this feud picked up steam on the way to Orlando in grand fashion.
Cena cashed in his title shot (earned from winning the Royal Rumble) at No Way Out. He failed to win the title due to Orton getting himself DQ’d in a fantastically heelish way (Randy simply turned around and slapped the referee with a smile on his face as Cena looked on helplessly), so Triple H was next in line for a title shot. With some twists and turns (including Trips counting the pinfall that turned the match into a Triple-Threat) along the way, we end up here, as three men vie for the biggest title in the industry.
Everyone and their dog put their money on Orton’s title run coming to an end on this night (with a fan vote running through the night garnering him just 7% of support), but the third-generation star came to fight. All three men put forth a very good effort, with near falls and big moves aplenty. I’m not ashamed to say that I leapt out of my seat with joy when the final three went down (because of who won and how he did it). The guys also had to wrestle part of their match with the main lights being out, so, like the Divas, they deserve credit for getting on with the show.
With disc one coming to a close, you should take a breather before inserting disc two, as it begins with the greatest wrestler v non-wrestler match you’ll ever see. Big Show v Floyd Mayweather was a phenomenal match when you consider the best boxer in the world has never wrestled before this night.
The hype was enormous and the build, for the most part, was up there as the most entertaining segments on television. The fight had a lot of great spots and put over both men really, really well. The finish also kept both guys strong and I would fail to see why anyone would have any complaints about the quality of the match overall. I was very impressed with Mayweather’s performance and would love to see him in WWE at some point in the future… especially if it was to endorse MVP as his wrestling counterpart.
Following on from the greatest boxer v wrestler match you will ever see, we get another pointless skit, this time with Batista spearing a guy as he is about to propose to his girlfriend. Does the wench get upset about her lover being attacked? Of course not; she takes one look at his muscles and walks off with him. I’ve never understood why, whenever there is a segment like this on television (not just wrestling) that we’re supposed to “cheer” the woman. She has shown herself to be shallow by dumping a guy who she was in love with to go with a guy who has big muscles. If it happened in the real world, the girl would classed as a slut. I don’t know, maybe I’m being too moralistic and should lighten up.
Anyway, moving on from the moral debate, it is now time for the official main-event of the evening; Edge v Undertaker for the World Heavyweight Championship. Built up beautifully by both men (Edge’s “FIFTEEN AND ONE, DEADMAN!!” assault was a touch of genius), the match had a lot of hype coming in. Edge also had a lot to live up to as he walked into his first Wrestlemania headliner. This would be tough enough, but he also had to contend with the legacy Undertaker’s undefeated streak at the event.
To say this match was awesome would be an understatement. I was on the edge (pun intended) of my seat pretty much from bell-to-bell. The outcome of an Undertaker match at Wrestlemania has become a foregone conclusion for almost a decade, but this match actually had me believing that the streak could come to an end. At one point, Edge hits a spear and I thought it was over; leaping from my seat when Undertaker kicked out confirmed to me that this match had me hooked.
This was a fitting close to a fantastic PPV and was probably the best match of Undertaker’s streak (even surpassing the previous year’s effort against Batista). Both men were sharp, the crowd were hot and the interference by Ryder & Hawkins was both brief enough not to be too impactful and made sense.
The event ends with a recap of the entire show set firstly to ‘Snow (Hey Oh)’ by Red Hor Chili Peppers (which fits really well) before cutting to ‘Light it Up’ by rev Theory once things pick up. Looking back on the card, you get a feeling that you’ve just spent four hours having a great time.
With the event over, the second disc continues with the previous night’s Hall of Fame ceremony in its entirety.
During the show, JBL is a revelation when indicting the Briscos, Pat Patterson is hilarious when telling stories of Mae Young in her youth (and the women herself is pretty awesome – I just wish Moolah was here to see it), Jim Ross pays great tribute to Gordon Solie… but it’s Dwayne Johnson, The Rock, who owns the room to this point.
The Rock gives the fans some Rockisms while also taking some time out to mention some of the wrestlers (past and present) in attendance and also show how a real showman handles a WWE audience. His jibe about ‘The Marine’ is both funny and self-depreciating.
The disc ends part-way through The Rock inducting his dad, with disc three picking up from this point and continuing on with Dwayne inducting his grandfather as well.
Even with all the big names on hand, including Steve Austin and The Rock, this night, nay, this weekend, belonged to only one man; Ric Flair. Triple H gives him a great introduction, but that all pales when compared to the man’s speech.
Flair talks for over an hour and not a single fan gets restless. He covers virtually all of his career and namechecks virtually everyone he’s ever met. Arn Anderson does appear to be in a huff as he sits among the crowd (I personally think Arn should have been inducting him, but that’s by the by), but everyone is sat in rapture as Flair emotionally tells us stories from the early days and thanks his family for forgiving him his discretions.
There is laughter (Ric has an awesome giggle), tears, emotion and a little regret, but the time passes quickly as you hang on his every word. Seeing guys like Orton, Edge, Big Show, etc, overcome with emotion is an awesome sight, especially as it is Ric Flair giving you a compliment on his night.
A fitting end to an awesome DVD set, Ric Flair’s induction is what the HoF should be about; honouring those wrestlers who have carved a legacy or niche unmatched in wrestling history. Outside Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, I don’t think there is a more deserving case for induction than “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.
The last chapter of the disc is the pre-show Battle Royal that led to Kane getting his ECW Championship shot on the main show.
All the wrestlers come out to the ECW TV Show theme music, but do get individual introductions. Some of the guys look out of place, but I have to say, Brian Kendrick carries himself like a star (it’s a pity he won’t do anything more of note in WWE). The match is a pretty standard Battle Royal, but Kane gets a huge pop for his victory (he also got a great reaction when announced) and it did allow the wrestlers not on the main show to wrestle in front of the largest audience of their careers.
Surprisingly, there are no extras on any of the three discs. You could argue that the Hall of Fame Ceremony and the Battle Royal are extras, but that would be it.
An absolutely blinding PPV event that has some phenomenal matches throughout. The production values are unbelievable (on the Blu Ray release, it will be even better) and the set design is out of this world. It is events like this that separate WWE from every other wrestling company in the world. In fact, it sets them apart from virtually every other televised sporting event on the planet.
Ric Flair goes out on a high, Shawn Michaels shows some real class, Edge and Undertaker tear the house down and the MitB enthrals from the opening bell until the case is grabbed. The celebrities did their jobs well enough, with Snoop Dogg and Floyd Mayweather excelling in their roles and the entire event comes across as being “big time”.
The HoF ceremony is very good value, and would be if it was only Flair going in. As it is, JBL, Mae Young, Pat Patterson and The Rock all make this quite possibly the best HoF ceremony yet.
All in all, I would recommend this release to any wrestling fan so they could watch present-day WWE at its finest. If you can get it on Blu Ray, I’d go for that as it will really show of the production values on an HDTV.