PPV REPORTS CALDWELL'S WWE WRESTLEMANIA 24 REPORT 3/30: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live PPV
Mar 30, 2008 - 9:20:59 PM
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By James Caldwell, Torch columnist
WWE WRESTLEMANIA 24 REPORT
March 30, 2008
Orlando, Fla. at the Citrus Bowl
By James Caldwell, Torch columnist
(a) In the 24-man battle royale on the WWE.com freeview, it came down to Henry vs. Snitsky vs. Kane. As expected, Kane won the battle royale and he'll face Chavo Guerrero for the ECW Title on the WrestleMania main card. The "match" only when 6:24. Wonderful.
Opening: The show started with a shot of the military planes doing a flyover above the Citrus Bowl. It's a rainy, cloudy evening in Florida. Lillian Garcia then introduced John Legend, who opened the show with "America the Beautiful". The dome-like structure covering the ringside area looks like a giant spider. Legend knocked that one out of the park.
Video package: They aired a video on wrestlers putting everything on the line for a chance to steal the show on WrestleMania. The general sense of what WrestleMania means transitioned into a focus on the top matches on the card.
Opening 2: They did a wide shot of the Citrus Bowl for a big fireworks display. The set is pretty elaborate. They built a two-tower skyscraper extending out of the entrance set.
In-ring: Lillian Garcia opened the wrestling by announcing the Belfast Brawl as the opening match. JBL came out first from his limo. They aired a video package on what led to JBL vs. Finlay, and the involvement of Vince McMahon and Hornswoggle, who took that huge beating several weeks ago. Finlay then came out and brought back Hornswoggle, who had a sharp green suit on.
1 -- JBL vs. FINLAY (w/Hornswoggle) -- Belfast Brawl
Finlay tried to enter the ring, but JBL smashed him in the face with a boot to start the match. They brawled on the floor, then into the ring where trashcan shots came a-plenty. Hornswoggle got involved at 4:00 to distract JBL, then Finlay came out of the corner with a giant clothesline. Finlay tried a suicide dive on the floor at 6:00, but JBL caught him in mid-air with a garbage can lid. Ouch. Hornswoggle ate a trashcan for good measure, then more weapon blows to the head. Finlay came back with blows of his own, then he sent JBL threw a table propped up in the corner for a nearfall at 8:00. JBL came right back with a kendo stick to the knee that stunned Finlay, allowing him to nail the Clothesline from Hell for the win.
WINNER: JBL in 9:00. Good opening match if you can get past the repeated weapon shots to the head. BTW, much respect to Davidson. What a tournament run. (**)
Backstage: Kim Kardashian welcomed us in as the guest host for tonight. Kardashian said it's MITB up next. Mr. Kennedy interrupted. He's sporting a movie villain beard. Kennedy said he'll be the first one to win multiple MITB matches. Kardashian handled Kennedy's name intro pretty well. Good presence.
In-ring: They showed people scurrying all over the place in the ring as the briefcase dangled in the air above the ring. The added effect of the wind blowing all over the place is going to make this interesting. John Morrison was the first one out, followed by Carlito, Shelton Benjamin, C.M. Punk, MVP, Mr. Kennedy, and Chris Jericho.
2 -- MONEY IN THE BANK LADDER MATCH
The bell sounded and everyone cleared out of the ring to grab a ladder, except for MVP, who guarded the center of the ring. Jericho and MVP had a ladder war, with Jericho getting the best of it. Morrison then busted out a moonsault using the ladder to smash everyone on the floor. Back in the ring, multiple men brawled on multiple ladders. Shelton then jumped over Kennedy and gave both Kennedy and Morrison a sunset flip powerbomb. Oh wow. Shelton then found himself on top of the ladder. Carlito and Kennedy took advantage by tipping Shelton off the ladder, over the top rope, and back-first through a ladder on the floor. Just not right.
Four men jumped onto two ladders in center ring and everyone cleared out when Carlito took Jericho off the ladder with a giant backstabber. Nice. MVP then found himself alone in the ring with a ladder. He started to climb, but then Matt Hardy ran into the ring and gave MVP a Twist of Fate off the top of the ladder. Huge pop for Hardy. He soaked it for a little while, then bailed through the crowd. Why not just climb the ladder and grab the title shot? Anything goes, right?
They starting teasing potential winners after Hardy left, then it came down to Jericho vs. Punk battling on the ladder. Jericho fell backwards and got his knee caught in the ladder. Punk then quickly scaled the ladder and grabbed the briefcase to win the match and earn a future title shot.
WINNER: Punk in 14:00. Some really dangerous spots in this one. Everyone is going to be waking up sore in the morning. Nice match, though. They pulled out some new, innovative spots and delivered a memorable moment with Matt Hardy returning. Unless Punk cashes in right away, he should be in line for a credible program. (***)
Backstage: They showed John Cena lacing up his boots in a locker room. They showed Randy Orton staring at the WWE Title belt, then staring straight ahead. Triple H was shown staring into space with a stern, determined look on his face.
Announcers: Ross and Lawler, apparently sitting in the dark, hyped the Hall of Fame ceremony from last night. ... They aired a video package on the Hall inductees.
On-stage: Howard Finkel continued his 24-show streak of introducing the Hall of Fame inductees. Jack and Jerry Brisco, Gordon Solie's family, Rocky Johnson, High Chief Peter Maivia's wife and daughter, Mike Graham for Eddie Graham, Mae Young, and Ric Flair's family came out on stage. Mae got top two reaction after Flair's family.
Backstage: Todd Grisham welcomed in Snoop Dogg to hype the BunnyMania match. Snoop said he's having the time of his life. He then brought in Festus to talk about how much they have in common. Festus stood still. Santino Marella interrupted and told Snoopy Dogg that he's hanging around with some brain-dead fool. Snoop had enough and brought out a bell. He rung it, then Festus chased Santino away. Grisham asked him where he got the bell. Mick Foley walked in and collected his Mania check by throwing a few fizzle dizzle bizzle lines. Snoop shook his head and walked away.
Ringside: The announcers commented on the stars in attendance. They showed Freddie Prinze, Jr. ringside. He's a star?
In-ring: William Regal and Teddy Long were in the ring for the inter-brand competition between Batista and Umaga. Batista came out first. Umaga came out next and they showed an overhead view of the spectacle of the arena. Now that the sun has officially set, they can adjust the lighting to make it look better on TV.
3 -- BATISTA (SD) vs. UMAGA (Raw)
Cole and Lawler called this one. Very slow, plodding the match. The pocket of fans that were into the action were cheering for Umaga and doing an "uh, uh, uh, Umaga" chant. When Batista made his comeback, the same pocket of fans that weren't taken out of the match booed heavily. Umaga went for the Spike, but Batista blocked and nailed a spinebuster. He went for the Batistabomb and just did connect while losing his balance. Batista with the pin for the win.
WINNER: Batista in 7:00. Not much to this. Disappointing after Batista had a MOTY contender against Undertaker last year. It just never clicked. (1/2*)
Backstage: They showed Floyd Mayweather smiling and laughing it up with posse and manager. They showed the Tale of the Tape on Show vs. Mayweather. Ross said it's lopsided and a definite mismatch.
Announcers: Joey Styles and Tazz hyped the Mayweather vs. Show match, then narrated clips of the Battle Royale earlier in the show. They could have just showed the whole thing.
In-ring: ECW GM Armando Estrada introduced the ECW Title match up next. No heat for the belt. Styles and Tazz said it's the first time the ECW Title has been defended at WrestleMania. Kane was then introduced and he snuck into the ring. Chavo kept looking to the entrance, then he turned around and the bell sounded.
4 -- ECW champion CHAVO GUERRERO vs. KANE
Bell sounded. Kane chokeslam. Kane pin. New champ. Kane laid the belt down, then did the pyro in the ring before walking away with the belt.
WINNER: Kane in 0:05. Just as I predicted (well, except for it going five seconds). I sure as heck hope Punk doesn't cash in the title shot for the worthless ECW Title belt. I like Kane as champ, though. The belt just doesn't mean anything. (n/a)
In-ring: Raven Symone was in the ring and cut a promo about the Make-a-Wish wish-granting this weekend. Nice moment. Ross plugged Raven's new album, then Lawler did the company line about being a huge Raven Symone fan.
Video package: They aired a video on classic Ric Flair ahead of Flair vs. Michaels. Apparently this is going on next. ... They went backstage where Mike Adamle brought in Ric Flair for an interview. Why Adamle? After Adamle talked for a little while, he asked Flair his strategy. "To be the man, you have to beat the man," he said with a smile. And cut.
In-ring: Shawn Michaels came out first. He took a deep breath, smiled, and talked to someone in the crowd. Ric Flair's music hit after a long pause, then Flair then came out strutting on stage. That is some kind of elaborate robe potentially from the closet of a king. Fireworks shot off in the night sky and they did a low angle camera shot of the fireworks in top-half of the shot while Flair walked to the ring in the bottom-half of the shot. Nice camerawork. Flair's family is on the front row. Tons of WOOOOOO signs in the building. Charles Robinson is the ref.
5 -- SHAWN MICHAELS vs. RIC FLAIR
Possibly the best three minutes to start a match you'll see in 2008. Such a heated atmosphere and Michaels drew blood from the mouth with a slap. Flair and Michaels then traded a series of chops in the corner. WWE has the mics right in the action, so all of the "trash talk" and calling of spots is being picked up. And then Michaels nearly broke his stomach in-half with a moonsault on the floor, with Flair moving and Michaels absolutely crashing into the announce table. Just a brutal spot. Back in the ring, Flair busted out a high-elevated vertical suplex to show off how good of shape he's in. Michaels came back and knocked Flair to the other side of the floor. He went for another moonsault, but Flair didn't break his fall and Michaels crashed to the floor. Geez. Both men made it back into the ring at nine and picked up the action at 10:00.
Michaels nailed a top rope elbow drop, then he tuned up the band for the Superkick, but Michaels stopped and hesitated. Flair stared at him, then dropped him on the mat and slapped on the figure four leglock. The crowd popped huge as Michaels teased tapping out. Michaels reversed the hold, though, and Flair broke the hold. They tried a series of pins using the bridge, but Michaels couldn't power up using his stomach. Michaels then tried to counter a figure four with a roll-up for a two count. Flair went for it again and Michaels teased tapping out again. He grabbed the ropes, though, and Michaels broke the hold. Flair tried to punish Michaels with more blows, but ref Robinson pulled Flair back. Flair then walked back over to Michaels and took Sweet Chin Music square in the jaw. What a shot. Michaels couldn't make the cover, but when he did, Flair kicked out at two for a big pop.
Michaels tuned up the band again for the superkick, but he got frustrated when Flair wouldn't get up. Flair pulled the ref in close, then dropped HBK with a mule kick for a nearfall. At 18:00, Michaels slapped on his inverted figure four, but Flair broke with a hand on the ropes. They battled to their feet and exchanged slaps before Michaels smashed Flair with a superkick to end the run of chops. Michaels slowly picked himself up again and wanted to tune up the band, but he hesitated. Flair then got up with tears in his eyes and put his fists up. He told him to bring it. Michaels then mouthed, "I'm sorry. I love you." He then smashed Flair with another superkick. Michaels dropped to his knees then embraced/covered Flair for the pin and the win.
Immediately after the bell sounded, Michaels grabbed Flair around the head and embraced him. Flair was biting his lip trying not to cry. Michaels then dropped to the apron and walked out of the ring. He choked back tears and disappeared up the entrance ramp. Back to the ring, Flair sat up and surveyed the crowd, which was applauding and cheering. He was all-tears, then he embraced his family ringside. They were all crying too. Flair kissed and hugged all of them before walking up the entrance ramp. He turned around one more time on top of the stage and saluted the crowd before disappearing.
WINNER: Michaels in 21:00. Amazing pro wrestling match. Great story with one pro working through two painful spots early in the match, and the other pro putting on one final superstar match for the proper send-off. I thought Flair would win coming in, but there was no other way to do this match other than how it was put together. There were some slow moments and off-spots that actually worked into the story of the match, but the sheer pro wrestling drama bumps this to four stars. (****)
Backstage: Todd Grisham brought in Edge to talk about facing Undertaker tonight. Edge cut a promo about sitting in Skydome at WM 6 when he was the biggest Hogan mark in Canada. He said his innocence was lost when Hogan lost that night. So, now he's going to end the innocence for all those kids who believe in the Undertaker. Where was that on TV? That was a big money promo.
In-ring: The divas came out on stage and danced. Snoop Dogg came out and drove a mini-Benz to the ringside area with the diva lumberjills following behind. Snoop then emceed the match by asking everyone to give Flair a shout-out. The diva match participants came out. I still don't get what Ashley is doing with the outfits. Santino came out with the heel divas.
6 -- Women's champ BETH PHOENIX & MELINA vs. MARIA & ASHLEY -- BunnyMania match
Ashley busted out a huracanrana and head scissors at various points in the match. Didn't look half-bad. Melina then catapulted Ashley into Beth's arms for a bear hug. Suddenly the lights went off and Lawler asked if The Undertaker just arrived. The action continued in the ring while the lights shut off. A spotlight came on above the ring to give a little light. This gives new meaning to the "dark match" term. Maria had a pin on Melina, but Santino yanked Maria off the pin. Jerry Lawler then came over and smashed Santino with a right hand blow. Back in the ring, Beth gave Maria the fisherman buster suplex for the pin and the win.
After the match, Santino stood over Maria's body and taunted her. Snoop then jumped into the ring and smashed Santino with a clothesline. Santino left, then Snoop picked up Maria and had a brief make-out session. Ashley and Maria left with Snoop while Santino had to be restrained.
WINNERS: Beth & Melina in 6:00. Actually not that bad of a match other than the lights being knocked out. (*1/4)
Video package: They re-aired the video on Cena vs. Orton vs. Hunter. The WWE Title match is up next.
On-Stage: A marching band was shown on stage. They performed John Cena's "My Time is Now" theme music before Cena walked out on stage sporting his "54" football jersey. Interesting concept, but the crowd didn't react. Cena then ran to the ring and tossed his gear into the crowd. 52 percent of folks believe Cena is winning the match. Hunter receives 40 percent and Orton 8 percent. Triple H then came out. No fancy ring entrance. Straightforward. Randy Orton then came out looking much bigger than he had been lately. In fact, all three were looking quite large.
In-ring: Lillian Garcia handled the ring intros. Cena was booed by everyone. Hunter received a strong reaction with some boos. Orton received all boos.
7 -- WWE champion RANDY ORTON vs. TRIPLE H vs. JOHN CENA -- WWE Title match -- No DQ
After 10 minutes of teased finishes, Orton applied the STFU on Orton in center ring. Hunter then interrupted and pulled Cena's arms off Orton to apply a crossface. Cena fought the hold and grabbed the ropes. Hunter and Cena did the WM 22 standing exchange of right hand blows with boos for Cena and yeahs for Hunter. Cena then dropped the Five Knuckle Shuffle on Hunter and went for the FU, but Hunter blocked for a failed Pedigree attempt. Hunter kicked Orton off the apron, then Cena went for the FU. Hunter blocked and nailed the Pedigree in center ring. He hesitated, then covered Cena, but Orton punted him right in the head. Orton then covered Cena for the pin and the win to retain the WWE Title.
WINNER: Orton in 15:00 to retain the WWE Title. Nice match, but not memorable. It was obvious Orton was winning since this match was on before the main event, but they had some good, believable nearfalls. (***)
Backstage: They showed Big Show walking toward the ring in preparation to face Mayweather. ... They aired a video package on the build-up to Show vs. Mayweather, including clips from mainstream news talking about the match.
In-ring: Big Show came out first for the match. It's pinfall, submission, or KO to win. Anything goes and there must be a winner. After a pause, Mayweather's music hit and money dropped from the ceiling. He strolled out to the ring flanked by his posse looking very flashy. Ross said the boxing world watching tonight is collectively holding its breath. Tough to read Show here. He looks slightly perturbed and also concerned for how this is going to go.
8 -- BIG SHOW vs. FLOYD MAYWEATHER
Mayweather is sporting boxing gloves while Show is bare-fisted. Mayweather did a duck and run to start with, then landed some body shots that surprised Show. Mayweather got cocky after landing some blows to the face, then his trainers pulled out a giant cup and gave Mayweather a drink break. Show got mad and grabbed one of the trainers and yanked him into the ring to land a huge chop to the chest. Show grabbed Mayweather around the neck in the corner at 4:00 for a chokeslam, but Mayweather landed right hand blows and jumped on Show's back for a sleeperhold. Show broke free, then stomped on Mayweather's left hand. His trainers screamed in disgust, then Show gave him a frying pan slap to the chest. Show then stood on Mayweather's back and gave a big smile.
Show went for an elbow drop, but his crew pulled him out of the ring. They said it was over and they tried to leave with Mayweather, but Show followed them out and dragged Mayweather back into the ring. He toyed with Mayweather and Mayweather finished off with a chokeslam, but one of the posse members interrupted with a chair and took a chokeslam. Mayweather then grabbed the chair and smacked Show in the back a few times. He went for a chair shot to the face, but Show blocked. He went for a chokeslam, but Mayweather kicked him in the groin and nailed three chair shots to the head. Mayweather then ripped off brass knucks from around the neck of a posse member and rocked Show's jaw with one right hand blow to the face. Show couldn’t make a ten count and Mayweather won the match.
WINNER: Mayweather in 12:00. Wow, that far surpassed expectations. Mayweather sold really well here and it built to a wild finish at the end. Very good gimmick brawl and stunt match that should get people talking tomorrow with that brass knucks blow to the face. (***)
Promo: They quickly aired a video on the silver anniversary of WrestleMania coming to Houston next year. The video was set to Kid Rock's "I wanna be a cowboy, baby" song from like the WM 17 era.
In-ring: Kim Kardashian was in the ring sporting a tight green dress. She said they set a new attendance record in the Citrus Bowl. She claimed there are 74,635 people in the building. Well, at least she didn't say they sold 74,000+ tickets. A big fireworks display went off.
Video package: They focused on Taker's Streak and Edge trying to end it.
In-ring: Undertaker came out first for the main event title match. Taker without a hat tonight, just a big, bulky jacket. He's looking bigger as well. Edge came out on stage, then Teddy wheeled Vickie out on stage. Edge and Vickie shared a kiss, then Teddy wheeled her away. Edge slowly made his way to the ring to make Taker wait. Taker didn't move one time.
9 -- World Hvt. champion EDGE vs. THE UNDERTAKER -- World Hvt. Title match
They had a stare down, then the bell sounded. They're going to have to work really hard to get the crowd involved because this doesn't feel like the main event after the big matches already occurred. Taker got the crowd into the action with a leaping dive over the top rope after Edge had the advantage for most of the match. Cole and Coach are just atrocious together. It's like listening to an old record player on constant repeat. At 13:00, Taker and Edge came to life with a round of right hand blow exchanges. Taker splashed Edge in the corner, then went for Snake Eyes, but Edge countered the big boot with a nice dropkick. Good spot for a nearfall. Taker tried to come back with a chokeslam, but Edge nailed the impaler for a close call. They traded close calls on their finishers, with each man pulling off some impressive counters.
Huge nearfall at 18:00 when Taker finally hit Last Ride and Edge kicked out just before three. Taker called for the end with the Tombstone, but Edge countered with a fall-back slam for another nearfall. At 20:00, Edge ducked a big boot and the ref took the blow to the face. Edge landed a reverse DDT. Coach, apparently blind, told Edge to cover Taker while the ref was KO'ed. Edge talked trash, then Taker reached up his hand for a chokeslam, but Edge smashed him with a kick to the groin. He then grabbed a TV camera and smashed Taker between the eyes. Edge tried to wake up the ref, but he knocked the ref off the apron to the floor. Taker sat up and Edge did his big eyes before going for a Tombstone. Taker countered into a Tombstone of his own and dropped him in center ring. He had the pin, but there was no ref. Charles Robinson hauled major ass into the ring and slid right into a count, but Edge kicked out just before three. Huge pop for that nearfall.
Hawkins and Ryder charged the ring, but Taker cleared them with a double chokeslam. Edge then surprised Taker with a spear, but Taker kicked out. Edge then went for another spear and smashed him a second time. The crowd thought it was over, but Taker surprised Edge with the triangle choke submission hold as Edge lingered over Taker's body before trying to cover him. Edge fought the choke, but tapped out after a tense ten or fifteen seconds.
WINNER: Undertaker in 24:00 to capture the World Hvt. Title. Seven minutes of blah, and then seventeen minutes of just plain amazing work and great main event heavyweight style pro wrestling. Just so great with the believable nearfalls and the way the match was laid out at the end. Of course, Edge has his "out" to set up a re-match at Backlash with the original ref being knocked out of the ring. I'm going to toss out the first seven minutes, and actually give both men props for persevering through that slow stretch to take it to three more levels in the next part of the match. (****1/2)
Closing: They showed Taker holding the WWE Title belt up in the air, then a huge fireworks display went off. ... They aired the traditional WrestleMania wrap-up video to recap all of the moments from the show.
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