3/30 WWE WrestleMania 24 Live Coverage: Ric Flair's last match? Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather, Randy Orton vs. Triple H vs. John Cena, Edge vs. Undertaker
Mar 30, 2008 - 10:00 PM
By Jason Powell
Airing live on pay-per-view
Orlando, Fla. at the Citrus Bowl
The WWE battle royal coverage has started at WWE.com. They did rapid fire entrances for the entrants. They did list Khali's height and weight, but everyone else was pretty much introduced by name and that was about it.
The ring ropes are orange and the skirting around the ring is aqua blue.
1. Kane won a 24-man battle royal for a shot at the ECW Title at 6:23. Deuce and Domino were quickly eliminated by Festus. The crowd booed when Jim Duggan was eliminated. Stevie Richards was eliminated early. After a lot of rapid fire eliminations, the match came down to Kane, Khali, Hardcore Holly, Tommy Dreamer, and Snitsky. They all teamed up to eliminate Khali and then there were quick eliminations until Kane was left to face Henry and Snitsky.
Henry and Snitsky teamed up briefly, but Snitsky mugged for the crowd and Henry turned on him and dumped him over the top rope Kane and Henry battled briefly and Kane eliminated him with a big boot to the head, which sent Henry over the top rope and to the floor.
Powell's POV: No sign of Big Daddy V despite WWE.com advertising him ahead of time. Quick and painless match.
The actual pay-per-view opened with a shot of military jets flying over the stadium. Lillian Garcia welcomed viewers to WrestleMania 24. On the stage, John Legend performed "America the Beautiful"...
Powell's POV: The stadium is totally decked out with WWE flags around the top of the stadium and banners around the walls of the between the levels of seats. WWE did more to dress up the building than many NFL teams, including my Minnesota Vikings, do for their own stadiums. The entrance stage looks awesome. It's mammoth.
A WrestleMania video aired... Jim Ross welcomed viewers to the show and said he wished everyone could be there... Lillian Garcia stood in the ring and introduced the opening match. It's definitely cloudy and it looks dreary, but it did not appear to be raining, as there was no sign of rain on JBL's limo...
2. JBL beat Finlay (w/Hornswoggle) in a Belfast Brawl at 9:10. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler called the match. JBL attacked Finlay as he was entering the ring. Finlay fought back and then went to ringside. He pulled several garbage cans out from underneath the ring and threw them inside the ring, but JBL recovered and used the cans as weapons. JBL also brought the ring steps inside the ring.
JBL grabbed Finlay's shillelagh and tried to use it as a weapon, but Horny ran in, swiped it from him, and headed back to ringside. JBL ended up attacking Horny. Finlay checked on him and Horny said he was okay. In a wild spot, Finlay dove through the top and second rope toward JBL at ringside, but JBL was waiting and hit him with a trash lid in mid-air. JBL followed up by throwing a trash can at Horny, which knocked him down at ringside.
In the end, JBL hit Finlay with a kendo stick to the knees and then followed up with a Clothesline from Hell and scored the clean pin.
Powell's POV: A wild brawl with trash cans, a table, kendo stick, and other weapons. Honestly, though, it's not what I was expecting or hoping for. I could have done without all the weapons. I was hoping for a straight up brawl. Disappointing.
Backstage, Kim Kardashian was hyping the Money in the Bank match when Mr. Kennedy interrupted her and said he'd become the first person to win the MITB match twice. He said his name and then backed off. When Kim started talking, he interrupted with the "Kennedy!" She was smiling the entire time...
3. C.M. Punk defeated Chris Jericho and MVP and Mr. Kennedy and Carlito and John Morrison and Shelton Benjamin in a Money in the Bank ladder match at 13:58. There were ladders set up in the entryway. Ross and Lawler pointed out that Kennedy walked under the ladders, which is bad luck. Early in the match, Morrison performed an Asai Moonsault with a ladder at his chest and landed on a group of other wrestler at ringside.
Shelton attempted a move off the ladder, but it gave out on him. A short time later, Punk hit him with the GTS. Punk climbed the ladder, but Kennedy caught him and performed a Green Bay Plunge onto a ladder. At 7:00, Shelton climbed to the top of the ladder. Carlito and Kennedy pushed the ladder over and Shelton fell back first onto a ladder that was propped up between the ring and the barrier at ringside. It looked like the ladder snapped. Crazy spot. Carlito sold it brilliantly by standing there with his jaw dropped.
Later, Carlito caught Jericho climbing up a ladder and hit him with a Backstabber. With everyone else laid out, MVP smiled and climbed the ladder. Out of nowhere, Matt Hardy ran in through the crowd and hit MVP with a Twist of Fate off the top of the ladder. Hardy was dressed in his ring gear, but he made a quick exit back through the crowd. By the way, Joey Styles and Tazz are also chiming in on this match.
There were a series of really good "near grabs" that popped the crowd. It came down to Jericho and Punk battling on top of the ladder. Jericho knocked Punk down by slamming the briefcase into his head. Jericho was close to grabbing the briefcase, but Punk reached through the ladder and pulled Jericho's leg through. With Jericho trapped, Punk grabbed the briefcase to win the match.
Powell's POV: Some crazy spots. Shelton never got involved in the match again following his big bump, which was definitely the craziest bump in the match. Not sure if he's hurt or just selling the insanity. The match was every bit as wild as you'd expect and there were some pretty good "near grabs."
Separate shots aired of Randy Orton, John Cena, and Triple H...
Howard Finkel introduced the Class of 2008. They all stood on the stage area. Ric Flair was represented by his family. Mae Young tried to take her shirt off, but Mike Graham stopped her...
Backstage, Todd Grisham asked Snoop Dogg what he thought of WrestleMania so far. Snoop put over seeing stars from the past and present. Snoop introduced Festus as someone he can relate to. Santino interrupted and confronted Snoop about the Bunny match. Snoop pulled out a bell and rang it, so Festus went crazy and chased Santino out of the picture. Snoop said he got the idea from "Mick Fizzle." Mick Foley appeared on camera and joked around with Snoop. He pulled out Mr. Socko, who was decked out with bling...
Powell's POV: It's dark in Orlando and the set and light show look amazing. It would look even better if my cable company offered the show in HD, but no such luck.
4. Batista beat Umaga in a battle of the brands match at 7:07. Teddy Long introduced Batista. William Regal introduced Umaga. Michael Cole checked in and called the match with Tazz. No Jonathan Coachman so far and I don't think anyone is complaining. Batista tried to slam Umaga early, but he couldn't do it and Umaga fell on him. Umaga locked Batista in a long nerve hold. He went for a top rope headbutt, but Batista moved. Back to the nerve a short time later.
Things picked up when Umaga hit a Samoan drop, but Batista came back with a spinebuster. He went for the Batista Bomb and stumbled backward while hitting the move. It was awkward and clumsy, but he made the pin anyway. Batista clutched his back afterward.
Powell's POV: It's a good thing the match was short because the live crowd was turning on Batista. They booed his offense and cheered Umaga's. The Batista backers were louder than the Umaga supporters during the finishing sequence, though. Lame match.
Ross and Lawler ran through the tale of the tape for the Floyd Mayweather vs. Big Show match. A shot aired of Mayweather hanging out with his posse backstage...
5. Kane defeated Chavo Guerrero to win the ECW Title in 0:10. Armando Estrada handled the ring announcing for the match, and Styles and Tazz took over on commentary. Kane didn't come down the entrance ramp. Rather, he appeared out of nowhere from the other side of the ring. Chavo saw him and pointed at him. The bell rang and Kane chokeslammed him for the win.
Powell's POV: I thought they'd do something special for Kane's pyro, but it was actually really tame. I'm not sure why they had him come out from under the ring or where ever he was, but the battle royal and the ECW Title match took a combined 6:33. They must have some long matches coming up if they couldn't fit the battle royal on the show or give the ECW Title match more time.
The Carlito and Maria commercial aired... Raven Symone stood in the ring and yelled a lot. I didn't realize she was so hefty. She quickly introduced the Make-A-Wish children who were in the crowd... The Ric Flair video aired...
Mike Adamle interviewed Flair backstage. Ric let out a "Woooo!" Adamle asked him what his game plan was. "My game plan?" Flair asked. "To be the man." Flair "woooo'd" again and departed. He was all smiles...
6. Shawn Michaels pinned Ric Flair at 20:23 to end Flair's career. Flair's family was shown sitting in the crowd before the match. Reid was in tears. Flair walked onto the stage wearing what appeared to be a new blue robe. He strutted down the ramp and appeared to look around a little more than usual. Fireworks exploded behind the entrance set. Really cool camera shot of Flair opening the robe and posing while the fireworks exploded behind him.
Ross noted that Flair was confident and prideful and he certainly looked it. Once in the ring, Flair extended his hand and when Michaels reached out to shake hands, Flair pulled his hand back and "Woooo'd." Two minutes into the match, Michaels slapped Flair and he bled from the mouth. HBK told Flair he could leave now and Flair responded, "First blood, brother." Flair came back with a series of hard chops in the corner and the crowd "Whooo'd" them all.
Flair hit a cross-body block and Ross and Lawler roared with approval because he hit a top rope move. Moments later, Michaels dumped Flair to ringside. Shawn went for an Asai Moonsault, but Flair missed and Michaels landed really hard on the announcers' table. The table didn't break and didn't appear to give at all. Michaels beat referee Charles Robinson's count back into the ring. Ross pointed out that Robinson has been a Flair fan all his life.
Later, HBK hit a moonsault off the top rope onto Flair at ringside. Flair didn't do much to break's Shawn's fall. Another big bump for Michaels even though it was portrayed as an offensive move. Both men got back inside the ring as Robinson's count reached nine.
At 10:40, HBK hit a top rope elbow drop. He shook head and hesitated before he wound up for Sweet Chin Music. He stomped his foot and set up for the kick, but he stopped himself short. Flair pounced on HBK and applied the figure-four leglock. HBK eventually rolled it over and Flair reached the ropes to break the hold.
Flair locked Michaels in the figure-four again at 14:00 for a nearfall. HBK sold it well and the crowd stood because they thought Flair was going to pull it off. Michaels tried to reverse it, but Flair rolled all the way over and back into an offensive position. HBK finally reached the ropes and the crowd booed. Flair styled and profiled briefly. When he turned around, he walked into Sweet Chin Music. Michaels made the cover, but Flair kicked out.
Michaels "tuned up the band" in the corner again. Flair didn't get so HBK stopped and demanded that he get up. Michaels walked over to Flair, who responded with a kick to the groin. The crowd loved it. Flair went for the pin, but Michaels kicked out at two. A short time later, HBK locked Flair in his version of the figure-four. Flair cried out in pain and the announcers said it wouldn't be right if he lost to that move.
Flair reached the ropes and took the bottom turnbuckle pad off. While the ref dealt with the turnbuckle, Flair poked Michaels in the eyes for another big pop. They traded chops in the middle of the ring. Flair was getting the better of it, but HBK hit Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere.
HBK went back to the corner and hesitated again. Flair got to his knees and struck a fighter's pose to encourage HBK to bring it on. Michaels mouthed, "I'm sorry" and "I love you" before nailing Flair with Sweet Chin Music and pinning Flair to end his career as an active wrestler. Michaels immediately put his head down by Flair's and the two exchanged words. Flair appeared to be in tears immediately.
Michaels left the ring quickly as his music played. Flair stood up and was crying. The cameras showed a shot of his family and they were all crying as well. The live crowd gave Flair a standing ovation. Flair went to ringside and hugged and kissed his family. Once he made it to the entrance area, he raised his hands and smiled. The live crowd continued to cheer. He turned around and blew the crowd a at the mid-point of the entrance ramp and did so again when he was near the top.
At the top of the stage, Flair turned around and waved to the crowd one last time. He was crying and the crowd roared in approval as he disappeared into the back.
Powell's POV: Fantastic match. Flair and Michaels rose to the occasion. Great drama and the live crowd bought into Flair's nearfalls. A very emotional finish. I loved Michaels mouthing the words "I'm sorry" and "I love you" to Flair before delivering the shot that ended his career. What a way to go out. Sensational.
Backstage, Edge cut a promo about attending WrestleMania 6 and seeing his hero Hulk Hogan. "I was the biggest Hulkamaniac in Canada," Edge said. "And on that day, Hulk Hogan lost." He said there's probably a kid in the audience who's there to see Undertaker and he wants to take his innocence just like he lost his that day at WrestleMania...
Ross and Lawler noted that they're only halfway through the show...
7. Beth Phoenix and Melina (w/Santino Marella) defeated Maria and Ashley at 5:57. Before the match, the other Divas stood on the stage. Snoop came out in a pimped out golf cart and drove it to the ring. In the ring, Snoop said, "For my main man Ric Flair, somebody say Woooo." The crowd Wooo'd. Snoop read his lines off a card, but did a good job while introducing women. Santino came out with the heel team and wore a light blue boa.
The power went out during the match and the ring went dark momentarily. They quickly placed a spotlight on the ring. Later, Santino broke up Maria's pin attempt by pulling her legs. Jerry Lawler ran over and smacked Santino. However, Beth hit her finisher on Maria for the win.
Afterward, Snoop clotheslined Santino and then made out with Maria...
Powell's POV: I'm sure WWE is in panic mode, but the lighting is sufficient for television if they continue to have power problems. By the way, the guys at my pay-per-view party unanimously agree that Ashley is not attractive. The comment was made that the power outage was nice because we didn't have to look at Ashley for a few seconds. Ouch.
A video highlighted the Randy Orton vs. Triple H vs. John Cena match...
The power for the entrance stage is working. However, a Dot Net reader who is at the show let me know that the big screens around the ring are not working. The fans are said to be taking it well at least in this person's section, as they can still see the ring.
8. Randy Orton beat Triple H and John Cena to retain the WWE Title at 14:06. The Miami Hurricanes marching band played Cena's entrance music. The bell rang and Orton immediately struck Cena with the title belt. Cena went for a double Death Valley Driver, but it appeared Hunter accidentally fell off, so he kicked Cena to break up the move. Later, Orton went for the RKO on Cena, who caught Orton and threw him across the ring. Cool move.
At 8:00, Cena locked Orton in the STFU while Triple H was selling an RKO at ringside. Orton raised his hand to tap out, but Hunter recovered, grabbed Orton's hand, and pulled it to the ropes to beak up the hold. Hunter grabbed Cena and rammed him into the ring steps. It was Hunter's turn to dominate Orton until Cena recovered. At one point, Cena locked Orton in the STFU, but Hunter came back in and applied the Crossface to Cena. It was a good spot but you knew they weren't going to end the match using Chris Benoit's old finishing move.
Later, Hunter and Cena faced off while Orton sold and injury at ringside. Really good series between these two. Cena went for the FU, but Hunter slipped out and and hit the Pedigree on Cena. He went for a cover, but Orton raced into the picture and caught Hunter with a kick to the head. Orton covered Cena and scored the pin.
Powell's POV: Very good three-way match. The placement of this match on the card was a good indication that Orton was going over because they usually like to finish the show on a high note. Speaking of which, any chance Punk cashes in the Money in the Bank and beats Cena later in the show?
A Floyd Mayweather and Big Show video aired...
9. Floyd Mayweather beat Big Show by knockout at 11:39. No Jay-Z for Mayweather's entrance. It was still great. His outfit was great and his chain medallion read "Philthy Rich." Mayweather wore some type of gloves that appeared to be MMA-style gloves with extra padding. Mayweather was accompanied by members of his posse. Show flew solo to start the match.
Floyd hit an early flurry of punches to Show's stomach. He'd throw a few punches and then run away. Floyd got cocky and went to his corner to drink out of a pimped out cup. Show took offense and charged at Mayweather, who ducked out of the way. However, Show knocked Floyd's posse member off the ring apron. The posse member recovered and got back on the apron. Show clubbed him, but the camera was focussed on Floyd looking scared.
Show caught one of Floyd's punches. He placed his hand on the ground and tried to stomp it, but Floyd moved his hand out of the way. Later, Show caught Floyd in the corner and placed him on the top rope, but Mayweather hit him with a few punches and then jumped on his back and applied the sleeper. Show escaped the sleeper by ripping his arm away from his throat.
Show stomped on Mayweather's hand and his corner flipped. The announcers back off for a while so the microphones could pick up Mayweather's corner protesting. Show stood on Mayweather and one of his cornermen screamed, "You can do that." Show also motioned to the crowd to be quiet before the delivered a chop to his chest. Show stood on Floyd again and the corner freaked out.
Floyd's posse pulled him from the ring and tried to leave. Show chased after them and plowed through the posse members to get to Mayweather. Once he knocked all of the posse members down, Show put Floyd in a headlock and dragged him back to the ring.
Back inside the ring, Show punched one member of Mayweather's posse who tried to interfere. He went for a chokeslam on Floyd, but another member of the posse ran in with a chair. Show chokeslammed the posse member, but Floyd picked up the chair and hit Show with it repeatedly. Stiff shots.
With Show woozy, Floyd pulled a pair of brass knuckles off a chain that one of his fallen posse members was wearing. He took off his right glove, put the brass knuckles on, and hit Show with a really good right hand that knocked show to the ground. I don't think the guy knows how to throw a worked punch. Show tried to get up, but the ref counted to 10 to end the match.
Floyd celebrated at ringside and all the way up the entrance ramp while the announcers expressed their surprise. Show recovered in the ring and stood there with a surprised look on his face...
Powell's POV: That was fun. No complaints from me. Good power spots by Show fun heel antics from Mayweather. The brass knuckles punch looked really good, probably because he really connected. I'll be sad to see Floyd go. I wonder if he'll show up to take a chokeslam on Monday's Raw?...
An ad hyped WrestleMania 25 for April 5 in Houston, Tex. at the Reliant Astrodome. The ad was set to Kid Rock's "Cowboy" song... In the ring, Kim Kardashian announced that the show was attended by over 74,635 fans, which is a Citrus Bowl record...
An Undertaker and Edge video aired...
10. Undertaker defeated Edge to win the World Hvt. Title at 23:50. Michael Cole and Jonathan Coachman called the main event. Think about that for a second. Coach is calling a WrestleMania main event match. Taker gave the cutthroat sign to start the match. Edge gained early control and hit a sloppy looking neckbreaker on Taker, who was standing on the ring apron. Edge played to the crowd and got loud boos.
Edge went to the top rope, but Taker caught him and threw him to the ground at ringside. Taker followed up with his annual running dive over the top rope onto Edge at ringside. Taker sold a back injury as he worked over Edge. Taker went for the last ride, but he couldn't get Edge up because of the back injury.
Later at ringside, Edge backdropped Taker onto the guardrail at ringside and he tumbled into the first row. Cool spot. Back in the ring, the match slowed down, as Edge locked Taker in a couple of rest holds.
Taker and Edge traded punches and Coach told Cole that it was tremendous. Taker got the better of the exchange and hit Edge with with Snake Eyes in the corner. Taker charged at Edge, who responded with a surprise dropkick. A short time later, Edge hit a great looking DDT on Taker for a nearfall.
Edge went for a spear, but Taker lifted his knee and regained control of the match. Taker chokeslammed Taker and went for the cover, but Edge kicked out just in time. Later, Edge regained control of the match, but he got cocky while standing on the second rope delivering punches. Taker picked him up and went for the Last Ride, but Edge slipped out and hit a neckbreaker.
Taker came back and hit the Last Ride. Coach blew it by stating we had a new world champion and Cole confirmed it, which let everyone know that Edge was going to kick out. Edge regained control of the offense briefly, but he ran into a high kick from Taker. It was actually sloppy and both men fell to the mat briefly.
Taker went for another boot, but Edge ducked and the ref was bumped. Edge went for an inverted DDT, but Taker fell over. Taker stood back up and Edge hit the move. With the ref down, Edge knocked a cameraman down and took his television camera from him at ringside. Edge nailed Taker with with the camera. Edge shoved the ref out of the ring and onto the floor. Meanwhile, Taker sat up.
Edge went for the Tombstone, but Taker reversed the move and hit it himself. Referee Charles Robinson sprinted to the ring and made the count, but Edge kicked out. Zach Ryder and Curt Hawkins ran out and Taker quickly knocked them off the ring apron. He turned around and walked right into a spear. Edge got a nearfall. He hit a second spear, but this time Taker held on and locked in his submission move. Edge tried to reach the ropes, but he eventually submitted.
Taker knelt in the ring with the title belt as fireworks exploded over his shoulder. Cole thanked viewers for being part of WrestleMania... A WrestleMania recap video aired...
Powell's POV: A good match with a couple of sloppy spots or slips. It was a good match and I enjoyed it even though it seemed like one of the more obvious outcomes of the match. If you didn't have a good idea about the outcome of the match, then you probably enjoyed it more than I did. It was pretty much as good as it could have been under those circumstances.
They had some good nearfalls and there was some good action, but I just didn't buy into the possibility of Edge winning no matter how hard they tried. It didn't help that Coachman kept telling calling finishes and making it obvious that the match wasn't going to end whenever he said it was going to. He was really bad. It was just one cliche after another. I feel bad for ripping on the guy because he has no confidence and knows color commentary isn't his thing, but there's just no ignoring how bad he was.
I'll have a lot more to say about the show in tomorrow's WrestleMania 24 Hitlist.