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Every year there are a lot of Pay Per Views held by WWE and other wrestling promotions. And with every month those PPVs set out to deliver some fantastic wrestling. The wrestlers go out and up their in-ring performance to put on great matches for the benefit of the fans in the arena and watching at home. The promotion hopes that the product is fun for the fans. But it’s that one moment of the year when everything finally starts to fall into place. The time of the season when everything is pointing in one direction. When it is time for everyone to not only have fun, but to give it their all. It is the grandest stage of the year; the granddaddy of them all. I’m talking about WrestleMania.
For two and a half decades the greatest names in sports entertainment have gathered together for the ultimate time of year. It is when everything is clicking on all cylinders. The entertainers put everything they have into their matches to show that they truly belong on the stage of the immortals. Risking injury and even humiliation like never before, the superstars of World Wrestling Entertainment will make sure that everyone knows their names and what they are capable of.
On March 30, 2008, the superstars of Raw, SmackDown, and ECW came together in the open-air Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. It was a night of great comebacks, true dominance, and instances that will stick in the minds of wrestling fans forever. It was a night that would see the careers of some elevate to new levels. It was also a night that would see one legendary career come to an end after three and a half decades inside the squared circle. The Undertaker would put his streak on the line yet again. Finlay would fight for what is right. Umaga and Batista would battle it out to prove which major brand was better. And championships would be put on the line to see if their holders would retain, or if someone new would go home with the gold.
It would be one of the most explosive WrestleManias in history and with good reason.
**Warning: There are spoilers to the event in this review!**
~ John Legend Sings America The Beautiful
~ Belfast Brawl: Finlay Vs. JBL – JBL proved that Vince McMahon never really had an illegitimate son in Hornswoggle and that it was actually Finlay who was his father. This wasn’t that big of a deal, but it turned into one when JBL constantly berated the little guy and even lashed out vicious beatings upon him. This match involved lots of weapons and some seriously hard shots from both men. Little Hornswoggle also got involved from time to time in defense of his a-hem, father. One of the best moments is watching JBL outside the ring deliver a vicious shot with a trash can lid to Finlay diving outside the ring onto him.
~ Kim Kardashian Introduces The Money In The Bank Ladder Match – Kennedy!
~ Money In The Bank Ladder Match: Chris Jericho Vs. Shelton Benjamin Vs. John Morrison Vs. Carlito Vs. CM Punk Vs. MVP Vs. Mr. Kennedy – In what has now become a tradition at WrestleMania, the Money In The Bank (MITB) match is one of my favorites every single year. No matter who is involved, they give every single ounce of energy and make sure that the fans are going to be impressed by what they do. It is essentially a spotfest, so it’s not like you can really expect much strategy or planning in this match. But hell if it isn’t fun to watch.
This year’s MITB match is no different in that there were awesome spots galore and actually a little bit of strategy that I had never thought about. MVP made it a point to kind of stay away from some of the action and just bide his time. That is possible in this year’s match because there isn’t an even number of participants for everyone to match up with. Everyone involved truly deserved their spot in the match and made that point valid by just showcasing their expertise in every way imaginable. There’s just no possible way you can not enjoy this match.
~ 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 Vs. Umaga – What would you expect from a match with these two big guys in it? Slugging? Power moves? Violence? Technical moves? Well, you’re right on all of them except the last one of course. It is nothing more then a slugfest and not the most exciting one in the world either. Big Dave is not one of my favorites and I feel like Umaga is not getting nearly the respect he deserves for how dominant he has shown he can be over the past two years. Seeing him get defeated by Batista here really upset me, and it’s the one match I could have done without.
~ Floyd “Money” Mayweather & His Entourage
~ ECW Championship Match: Chavo Guerrero (c) Vs. Kane – The first time that the ECW Championship is being defended at a WrestleMania, and it is undeniably one of the shortest matches ever. My God was this unnecessary a huge slap in the face to ECW. Hell, Joey Styles and Tazz could have just hung out with the boys in the back and phoned in their commentary.
~ Wish You Were Here: Carlito And The Seagull
~ Raven Symone Welcomes Make-A-Wish
~ Mike Adamle Interviews Ric Flair
~ Career Threatening Match: Ric Flair Vs. Shawn Michaels – For months Ric Flair had been fighting for his wrestling life. Vince McMahon told Flair that he didn’t have to retire as long as he could keep winning, so every match was a possible career ending match. No matter what was thrown at him, Flair still somehow was able to show that the “dirtiest player in the game” was not going down without a fight. For thirty-five years he had been the ultimate name in both sports entertainment and wrestling while fans both new and old respected and loved him. This night would be one of his greatest matches and also his last.
Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels are two favorites that have been around for a very long time. Not only have they made themselves look good, but they also make every single person they step into the ring with look good. This match would just go to prove that they deserve every piece of recognition, all the compliments, and each of the accomplishments they have achieved in their careers. This match portrayed them as the awesome competitors they are and they just put on an absolute masterpiece. Flair gave it everything he had, but in the end it was just too much. The Heartbreak Kid wasn’t too happy about it, but he is the one that retired the Nature Boy. It was truly a classic moment as Michaels mouthed “I’m sorry, I love you!” to Flair before delivering the final blow. No wrestling fan should go without seeing this match.
~ Todd Grisham Interviews Edge
~ Playboy Bunnymania Lumberjack Match: Maria & Ashley Vs. Beth Phoenix & Melina – Snoop Dogg is the guest MC for this match that I could truly do without. I mean, Mickie James had an awesome feud going on with Beth Phoenix at the time, but as soon as Candice Michelle came back from injury; the feud was thrown out the window. Yeah it was continued later on after this event, but that is beside the point. Then Michelle goes down with an injury again and James still isn’t put into the match all because there was a Playboy Bunny theme. Whoopty-doo!
Anyways, the match wasn’t that bad but it’s not like Maria or Ashley can wrestle that well. I mean Melina isn’t very good but at least she has some talent. If you really wanted to put on a “wrestling match” between any of the divas then it would include any combination of James, Phoenix, Victoria, Katie Lea, and Natalya. Anyway, this match was eye candy and comedy fodder.
~ Triple Threat Match For The WWE Championship: Randy Orton (c) Vs. John Cena Vs. Triple H – John Cena feels he never actually lost the title since he had to hand it over due to injury. Triple H always feels as if the title belongs to him. Randy Orton has proved time and time again that his conniving and sheer evil will to win will and can persevere. This was one of the better triple threat matches I’ve seen in recent history as there wasn’t a lot of the old “one man gets knocked to the outside and two fight it out in the ring.” It was kind of nice to see all three of them involved almost the entire time.
I will give WWE some credit here because the result of this match was pretty much obvious to all those who are wrestling fans and what the Internet considers as “smart” fans. Cena is not on my favorite list along with Batista and that is kind of odd considering they both made it big at around the same time. Triple H is one of my favorites ever. Orton I could do without although he does make an awesome heel except for the fact that he sucks on the microphone. This is a really good bout between these three that ends in what can only be considered an upset as Orton retains over two who were favored over him.
~ The Biggest Vs. The Best: Big Show Vs. Floyd “Money” Mayweather – Here is another match that wasn’t necessarily awful or a bad idea, but still bothered me. Show is about a foot and a half taller then Mayweather and close to triple his weight. It took everything but the kitchen sink for Mayweather to even get Show off his feet, but he still kept coming back and with good reason…the guy is a friggin’ giant. Show wrestled a sumo guy some years ago at another Mania and came out on the losing end. That one I can understand, but losing to this midget who simply has fast hands? Come on!
Either way, the match was entertaining as there was a lot going on and it was just really cool seeing the size comparison between the two. Don’t expect much from this match except some chaos and a lot of big hits from Big Show and also from Mayweather in what simply proved to be a publicity stunt. I don’t blame WWE though because it worked up the media into a hell of a frenzy.
Keep an eye on two things at the beginning of this match. The fear on Mayweather’s face at the very start as he is circling Show is just hilarious and very convincing. The other thing is the big time show that Show gives one of Mayweather’s posse members. It is just downright brutal.
~ Wish You Were Here: Batista The Ladies Man
~ Kim Kardashian Announces WrestleMania XXIV Attendance
~ World Heavyweight Championship Match: Edge (c) Vs. Undertaker – The Undertaker came into the match with a 15-0 record at WrestleMania. Edge came in holding the World Heavyweight Title and one of the competitors that has given Undertaker the most trouble throughout his illustrious career. This turned out of be a great choice for the main event match of the evening as both men put on one hell of a fight. Undertaker still has it in him after a storied career that has panned over a decade and a half. Edge is one of the most entertaining and talented wrestlers in the business, so you won’t get a bad match from him often. This match was really the first time in a long time that I thought Undertaker’s streak could possibly come to an end, but it appears the Dead Man wants it to go on much longer.
~ WrestleMania XXIV Highlights
~ Hall Of Fame 2008 Induction Ceremony Opening
~ Jerry & Jack Brisco – Capturing twenty tag-team championships in different federations, the brother team of the Briscos knew how to use their brains to get the job done right. Whether it was amateur or professional wrestling, they always rose to the top no matter what was thrown in front of them. They also won numerous singles titles and opened their own automobile repair shop together. JBL inducted the brothers into the HoF in an awesome in-character speech.
~ Gordon Solie – One of the greatest announcers in the history of wrestling, Solie knew how to call a match like no other. Some of the comments he made and just his voice could make even the most boring match into one of the most entertaining. Hearing his voice on some of the greatest moments in the long background of wrestling makes them even more perfect. Another great announcer in Jim Ross inducted Solie into the HoF, and all I can say is that it’s about time.
~ Mae Young – I never got to see Mae wrestle in her prime, but she has been in the ring since the days of World War II. Besides some of the incredibly crazy antics she has done on recent WWE television over the years such as strip, the bronco buster, the DX chop, get drunk, and even give birth to a hand…she is one of the most well known and most loved characters ever. It is great seeing her still enjoying herself so much and she hopes she’ll be around at the age of one hundred to perform for her fans, and I honestly hope she is. Pat Patterson inducted Mae into the HoF.
~ Eddie Graham – Eddie was not only one of the greatest wrestling promoters of all time, but also a fantastic wrestler. He became the first man to ever wrestle as a tag-team with his son and also wrestled in a team with his brother. Eddie made it a point to bring wrestling into the lives of many young fans and make sure that people of all ages were able to enjoy it. Dusty Rhodes inducted Graham into the HoF in what can only be characterized as a unique speech.
~ Rocky Johnson – It amuses me that The Rock still gets both cheers and jeers and the man hasn’t wrestled in years. Still it’s nice seeing him involved with the WWE in some capacity again. Man, hearing him do his “Finally” bit really makes me miss when he was still wrestling. The Rock just really goes all out here talking about past matches with Austin and Mick Foley and the more he talks, the more I wish he was not succeeding in films so he could still be in the squared circle today. And you just know that you’ve made it if The Rock makes fun of you so Santino Marella can just tip his hat to himself.
When Rock finally gets a chance to talk about his father, “Soul Man” Rocky Johnson, it really is a beautiful speech. He discusses crossing racial lines and many other barriers to become one of the best in the business. Johnson, with Tony Atlas, became the first ever African American tag-team championship holders.
~ Rocky Johnson continued – The elder Rocky comes out to accept his award and it is wonderful seeing him up on stage with his oh so talented son. They are both great wrestlers that held their own all the way to the top in two totally different generations and made great names (name) for themselves.
~ High Chief Peter Maivia – The Rock then inducts his grandfather into the HoF and it is a touching speech. Maivia was the first Samoan wrestler to be known on a worldly basis and was one of the toughest and most entertaining men ever. The Rock introduces Lia Maivia, the late Peter’s wife, and she gets a nice hand from the crowd.
~ John Cena Congratulates The 2008 WWE Hall Of Fame Inductees – Ok, so Cena even gets booed tremendously at this event and he still isn’t one of my favorites, but he does give a damn fine speech here. He talks about all the inductees and congratulates them as they should be. He also discusses the wrestling business and just gives an all around fantastic speech.
~ Ric Flair – Triple H comes out to induct Flair and gives one kick ass promo, speech, whatever you want to call it. He is always entertaining and continues to do so here. Then Ric Flair comes out and there is no need for me to discuss Flair’s career. If you’re reading this or wondering whether you should buy the DVD or not, then you’re a wrestling fan. And if you are a wrestling fan and know nothing of Flair’s career then something is obviously wrong with you. Nonetheless, get the DVD if not for anything but for Flair’s speech here and his match on the card. Simple enough.
The event is shown in 16:9 Widescreen format and it looks absolutely beautiful. No pixilation anywhere to be found and all is perfect.
The event is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it actually was a bit better then the past couple WWE releases I’ve checked out. The commentary continued to come through the center speaker while the music and pyro was heard around the room, but it was louder then usual and made for a better experience.
WrestleMania XXIV 24-Man Battle Royal Match – This is the match that took place before the actual event began. Twenty-four men from all three brands participated in this match in hopes of getting the shot to face Chavo Guerrero for the ECW title later on in the night. It was big cluster in this battle royal with a wide array of wrestlers ranging from Cody Rhodes to Kane to Khali to Festus to Elijah Burke to anyone else you can really think of. As you know, Kane won the match and got the privilege of fighting for the title later and it turned out pretty damn well for him.
Trailers – Flash Point and Behind Enemy Lines III: Columbia
WrestleMania XXIV has to be my favorite one since XX back in 2004 from New York. Besides the Playboy Bunny match and Umaga/Batista, the card was strong all the way through and the matches surely lived up to the hype. The Flair/Michaels and MITB matches are well worth picking up this set alone. But then there are the rest of the matches, the battle royal, and the really great Hall Of Fame ceremony from this year. Wrestling fans need to pick this one up no matter what, but this is an event that could entertain even the casual fan who doesn’t watch wrestling or stopped long ago. My girlfriend came in during the Flair/Michaels match and actually stood there and stared at the screen watching the match from about five minutes in all the way to the end. She stopped watching wrestling about five years ago. It is just that good.
The way it looks, there aren’t many special features, but in reality the entire Hall Of Fame is one big extra. I would have liked “Flair’s farewell speech” from Raw the next night, but I hear that is going to be in the new Flair DVD set coming out soon. Just get this one people, it is essential.
WWE Home Video presents WrestleMania XXIV. Featuring: Ric Flair, Triple H, John Cena, Randy Orton, Floyd Mayweather, Big Show, Undertaker, Edge, Mr. Kennedy, Umaga, and many more. Running time: 540 minutes on 3 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: May 20, 2008. Available at Amazon.com