Sunday, March 30, 2008

WrestleMania 24 review

By Rick Morris

This was a tremendous show, one of the most entertaining WrestleManias ever. Great moments were interspersed all throughout the four hours, continuing the trend of recent years ended. Ever since the first post-boom WrestleMania of this decade (18), the company has taken advantage of their depth of "names" by trying to present several super-attractive matches on each show. They succeeded more than at any other time this decade.

^ JBL defeated Finlay in a Belfast Brawl match. Excellent brawl to open the show with several STIFF shots from each man. Hornswaggle made his return by accompanying Finlay at the outset. Finlay did a dive to the outside at one point, only to have JBL swing a garbage can lid right into his head. The "Clothesline from Hades" gave JBL a surprising clean win, surprising in the sense that the match seemed to be built toward the "Finlay family" getting revenge after a month of JBL's cruelties. This was a super-stiff match and both guys are going to be sore tomorrow. (3 stars)

^ C.M. Punk wins the Money In the Bank Match. This was probably the best of the "Midcard Spotfest-Mania" matches in its four years of existence. There were several insane spots: John Morrison moonsaulting out of the ring onto several participants HOLDING A LADDER, Carlito giving Chris Jericho a backstabber off a ladder and the worst of them all, Sheldon Benjamin getting pitched off a ladder and landing flat on his back on a ladder stretched out from the ring to the apron. Benjamin never got up from that and could well be seriously injured. Matt Hardy made the obligatory run-in when MVP was about to win and Punk & Carlito did a nice spot jumping onto ladders that their competitors were climbing. In the end, Punk got Y2J tied up in the ladder once he fell backward and Punk claimed the prize. (3 3/4 stars)

The Hall of Fame inductees were then recognized, with Ric Flair's family standing in for him.

A backstage skit with Snoop Dog and Festus then aired, with Santino angrily approaching Snoop, who then reached around to ring a bell to get Festus to chase Santino. Mick Foley then popped up for a cameo with a sock with bling-bling on it.

^ Batista defeated You-Mang-A in the "brand supremacy" match. This was a fairly basic match, nothing horrible or special about it. (2 1/4 stars)

Highlights of the battle royal that only aired on earlier tonight were shown, as Kane emerged the winner.

^ Kane defeated Chavo Guerrero for the ECW Title. This one was short and sweet. Kane snuck into the ring behind Chavo and chokeslammed him when he turned around. Just like that, Chavo's run on top of ECW is done. (not applicable for star rating)

^ Shawn Michaels defeated Ric Flair in a "Career Threatening Match." Purely in terms of raw emotion, this match would have to be in anyone's all-time top five. They pulled out all the stops. Relatively early, Michaels missed a moonsault outside the ring in a planned spot -- well, I'm guessing the ringside table not falling apart as it should and likely breaking several of Shawn's ribs was not planned, but the spot itself was. Minutes later, Michaels tried another one and Flair botched the catch, causing HBK's knee to bounce harshly off the ground. There was a tremendous back-and-forth in the ring, with several false finishes. Michaels hesitated the first time he went for the superkick, allowing Flair to hit the figure-four leglock. Flair kicked out of another superkick and almost won several times with the figure-four or some rollup nearfalls. Flair actually hit a flying bodypress tonight as well. These two pulled out all the stops and were only hampered by their limitations: age in the case of Flair and Michaels suffering as a result of the first moonsault. In the end, Michaels mouthed, "I love you. I'm sorry," right before he swiftly hit another superkick and covered Flair for "Little Naitch" Charles Robinson's final three-count. Just like that, Ric Flair's career as an active wrestler ended. Michaels embraced Flair quickly, then left the ring, allowing Flair an extended exit. Flair, his family at ringside and many fans in the stadium were crying. Quite coincidentally, I had a piece of dust fly in each of my eyes at the moment, giving the illusion to the naked eye of manly tears welling up in there. (4 1/2 stars)

^ Beth Phoenix and Melina won the BunnyMania match. Against all odds, Maria had The Glamazon beaten, but Santino Marella broke up the three-count and Phoenix got the duke. Afterwards, Snoop Dogg clotheslined a gloating Santino, who had also been punched earlier by Jerry Lawler. (1/2 star)

^ Randy Orton retained the WWE Title by pinning John Cena in the three-way match. This match was decent, but nothing terribly memorable. Each wrestler got in several of their trademark spots and pinfall attempts were routinely broken up by the third wrestler in there. The finish came when HHH reversed the FU into a Pedigree and Orton came back in out of nowhere with the punt to HHH's head to steal the three-count on Cena. (2 3/4 stars)

^ Floyd Mayweather defeated The Big Show. This match exceeded the justifiably low expectations. Mayweather successfully worked the "stick and move" early on, frustrating Show. In perhaps the funniest moment of the night, Mayweather took a drink from one of his cornermen not in the standard fighter's water bottle, but in an ornate chalice! Show charged the corner, started beating up on Floyd's posse, and the mayhem was on. Mayweather got in a version of a sleeperhold on Show, but eventually the big man took over to the point that the fighter and his entourage tried to bail. Show chased them up the aisle, beat up the crew and took Mayweather back to the ring. Once there, Mayweather was able to use a chair to soften up Show before resorting to brass knuckles for the legal three-count in this "anything goes" match. Decent action at times (2 1/2 stars)

^ The Undertaker defeated Edge for the World Heavyweight Title. This match began at a slower pace and built tremendously. At one point, Edge took a sick bump outside the ring when Taker pushed him off the top turnbuckle, then later Edge just dumped Undertaker right onto some shocked fans in the front row. The progression of the match featured the old All-Japan pattern of repeated false finishes. Edge kicked out of a chokeslam and a Last Ride, then the Undertaker kicked out after Edge waffled him with a TV camera during a ref bump, then Edge survived a Tombstone. When Edge's lackeys interfered, Taker chokeslammed one on top of the other one outside the ring, allowing Edge to set up a spear that did not result in a three-count. Edge hit another spear, but then Undertaker reached up and locked on a modified sleeperhold that got Edge to tap out. It was an outstanding ending to an amazing night of wrestling. (4 stars)


Joel and Leslie said...

I agree, it was a heck of a show last night and Flair and HBK definitely stole the show. Not to mention how amazingly creative the MITB guys keep getting with those ladder spots.

Rick Morris said...

I thought Sheldon was dead in the MITB match. Those death-defying spots are out of control.