For the first time, WWE takes Wrestlemania to the Sunshine State and history was made on so many levels. A legend's career ended, two undefeated streaks were kept intact, and neither John Cena or Triple H won!
I found it shocking that WWE had not taken Wrestlemania to Florida considering how nice the weather typically is in late March/early April. But my investigative skills show that is indeed the case: Wrestlemania 24 is the first, with more than 74,000 in attendance at the Citrus Bowl. As I watched this PPV back, I was astonished that Undertaker/Edge finished the show, because I swore for the past 10 years it was HBK/Flair. That's not to say that the stacking of this card was bad, I simply had this delusion that the career-threatening match ended the show. Regardless, that match stole the show for me.
Favorite Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair
Okay. Let's forget the fact that Ric Flair left the company, only to return to TNA not too long after. At the time, this match was downright emotional. I remember the build-up with Mr. McMahon saying the next match Flair lost would be his last. We all knew it would culminate at Wrestlemania but what if they swerved us?! Then Shawn Michaels comparing Ric Flair to old yeller. The Nature Boy demanding that he gets Mr. Wrestlemania. HBK promising the Show Stopper. Chills. That was before we even got to the wrestling, and then the match itself was extremely engaging. I swear Michaels broke his ribs with that springboard backflip onto the announce table. When Flair hit the Figure-Four Leg-Lock, I almost thought he was going to secure the victory. We all expected Flair to retire, but then what happens if WWE swerves us once again. The "I Love You" before Sweet Chin Music to end it. I can't. I'm not crying you're crying. And a young Charlotte Flair is crying. And Ric is crying. And Shawn is crying. WE'RE ALL CRYING.
Hornswoggle making his return
That crowd popped for his return! Match itself was somewhat disappointing, but damn it they enjoyed seeing Swoggle.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Once again, always exciting. The number of spots in these matches is always amazing. Culminating with a CM Punk victory didn't hurt my feelings either.
Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship
This was an incredibly solid match for each wrestler. It flowed well, and the story-telling felt appropriate. It did seem as though Randy Orton got forgotten in some of the build-up in this with the focus more on Triple H and Cena, and whether intentional or not, it worked. I thought The Game had the victory, only for The Viper to punt him out of nowhere. Incredible way to end that match.
Floyd Mayweater vs. Big Show
Honestly, this shouldn't have worked. It was oddly entertaining in retrospect. I think every party involved played their part perfectly, including the entourage for Money Mayweather. Props to Big Show for taking those punches, because I think Floyd laid a few of them in there.
Edge vs. Undertaker
Had it not been for the emotional appeal of Flair and HBK, this would have been my favorite match. These two tore the house down. Edge knocking out the Deadman with the television camera. Taker jumping the top rope to the outside. The Edgeheads being put in their place with a Chokeslam. Rumors have it that Edge was considered to beat the streak, but I'm glad they didn't end it here.
Least Favorite Match: Beth Phoenix & Melina vs. Ashley & Maria
I guess stop me if you've heard this before: this simply does not put the women wrestlers in a good light. The entire premise is surrounded by Santino's jealousy over Maria's Playboy Cover. Then you have all the Divas (at the time) come to ringside to dance for Snoop Dogg? And then the rapper makes out with Maria? I didn't understand any of this. Nothing was accomplished with this aside from a real slimy cheap pop.
Least Favorite Moments:
Batistsa vs. Umaga left a lot to be desired
It just didn't work. This should have been two world-beaters taking one another out. Instead, it was a quick and relatively pointless match.
Kane beating Chavo for the ECW Championship
It actually worked in context, but I hated seeing Chavo get treated like that, as well as the ECW Championship. 11 seconds?! Come on. They would never do that with the Heavyweight Championship. What's that Brunner? Look into the future? GREAT.
Final Thoughts: There is a lot to this WrestleMania and nothing to egregiously wrong outside of the divas match (they were still called Divas at this point). Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels put on an absolute classic. Money in the Bank was amazing per usual (and yes I'm biased). Orton/Cena/HHH was surprisingly good. Edge and Undertaker told a great story. And Floyd Mayweather and Big Show entertained.
Would this hold up in 2018?
News outlets would absolutely devour the Snoop Dogg involved Divas match. It simply wouldn't work. Other than that, this Wrestlemania was absolutely great. I forgot how good some of these wrestlers were in their heyday.
See below for a roundup of those already up: