wrestling / Video Reviews

Kevin’s RetrospectiveMania Series: WrestleMania XXIV

January 4, 2020 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Shawn Michaels
WWE WrestleMania XXIV
March 30th, 2008 | Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida | Attendance: 74,635

Ric Flair’s final match (at least for a few years). The Undertaker back in the main event. An undefeated boxer competing on the biggest stage. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to WrestleMania XXIV. We’re also back to Roman numerals this year. WrestleMania came into 2008 on a bit of a hot streak with recommendable shows in each of the past few years. The last one that was kind of weak came way back in 2000 and 1999 was the last one I’d flat out call bad. Could the streak continue?

• Match quality – Self-explanatory. Will always be the longest section.
• Memorability – How memorable is the show?
• Historical significance – The impact the show had on wrestling
• Booking decisions – Did the event have logical booking decisions for the stories they told
• Presentation – Things like stage setup, video packages, commentary, etc.
• Pacing/Flow – How well is the show laid out? Does it drag or move along smoothly?
• Entertainment – The non-wrestling elements like promos, celebrity interaction, concerts, etc.

Match Quality


Belfast Brawl: Finlay vs. John Bradshaw Layfield ~ Not what I expected to start the show but okay. The crowd popped for the arrival o Hornswoggle. What I dug about this match was that they didn’t waste time with BS. Nobody came here to see them grapple. Finlay immediately whipped JBL into the steel steps and brought out weapons. They just spent the whole match battering each other with various weapons. And that was a great decision because it’s what this needed to be. JBL was a magnificent dastardly heel. Stopping to threaten Hornswoggle was one thing but randomly launching a trash can at him was spectacular. Finlay fought hard but fell to a Clothesline from Hell after a wildly entertaining 8:30. I feel like every time I watch this match I end up liking it more. This is just a really fun way to start the show. They beat each other up and didn’t go too long. [***¼]


Money in the Bank: Carlito vs. Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk vs. John Morrison vs. Mr. Kennedy vs. MVP vs. Shelton Benjamin ~ I remember this being one of my favorite Money in the Bank matches. Let’s see if it holds up. It goes right into the action. John Morrison is doing moonsaults with a ladder off the top within the first two or three minutes. That pace was kept up throughout and that’s important. It’s almost impossible to reel off every big spot. The sunset flip/superplex combo was a standout, as was the Backstabber off the ladder, and Benjamin’s ridiculous bump through a ladder. I thought that Matt Hardy’s surprise return to cost MVP the match was well done. The crowd ate that shit up. In fact, the fans were hot for everything. It all ultimately came down to the recently returned Jericho and Punk. The drama was high but Punk trapped Jericho’s leg in the ladder and pulled down the briefcase to a huge pop after 13:54. I love this match. It features great inventive spots, has no downtime, and is filled with fantastic action, all coming to a satisfying conclusion. I’m probably the high man on this but whatever. [****½]

Battle of the Brands: Batista vs. Umaga ~ William Regal introduced Umaga as YOUMANGA. You gotta love it. Though there wasn’t much in the way of build for this match, I was interested. Umaga and Batista are two of my favorite big men in wrestling history. But it seemed like they weren’t happy with their position on the show and didn’t give their best efforts. A lot of the work was lethargic. I sweat Umaga had a nerve hold in for like 10 minutes. Batista rallied from having his back targeted to deliver a spinebuster and Batista Bomb. That was enough to give Smackdown the win in 7:06. This felt like something you’d see before intermission on a house show. [*¼]


ECW Championship: Chavo Guerrero [c] vs. Kane ~ Hahaha. Chavo Guerrero as ECW Champion was a bad move. I’ve been reviewing ECW 2008 for my Patrons and I learned the hard way. Kane won a pre-show battle royal to earn the shot. He snuck up behind Chavo, the bell rang, and Chavo ran into a Chokeslam to lose in 0:10. [NR]

Career Threatening Match: Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels ~ Talk about pomp and circumstance. This match just felt special even before the bell rang. Once it got going, it was all about the storytelling. Ric Flair shouting “OLD YELLER” at Michaels as he chopped him was great. That was Flair letting us know that he wasn’t going down without a fight. He busted out a successful flying cross body and a stalling vertical suplex. Michaels took a sick sounding bump as he missed a moonsault and caught the table instead. I loved the moment of Shawn going for Sweet Chin Music but pulling up because he didn’t want to end Flair’s career. Flair eventually walked into one but Shawn couldn’t cover in time so he kicked out. Great drama. Shawn survived the Figure Four and Flair was on his last legs. And of course, as Flair put up his fists, Shawn tuned up the band. “I’m sorry, I love you.” Cue to the tears as Flair’s career ends in 20:23. Stellar stuff here. Shawn brought it for the big match, Flair left it all out there, and they told a magnificent story. [****¼]


Playboy Bunnymania Lumberjill Match: Ashley Massaro and Maria Kanellis vs. Beth Phoenix and Melina ~ Totally here to give the crowd a break after the emotional fallout from the last match. Basically, it’s a tag match with the rest of the poor roster around the ring. Also, Snoop Dogg is the master of ceremony for…reasons. The best part of this was getting to hear Maria’s theme. Not much of note happens in the match. Melina showed a bit of athleticism and Beth Phoenix showcased her power. The lights went out for a bit and the match was kind of dark. Jerry Lawler knocked out Santino Marella for interfering but it backfired as it distracted Maria. Beth then beat her with the Fisherman Buster in 5:55. A bit too long but mostly inoffensive. [¼*]

WWE Championship: Randy Orton [c] vs. John Cena vs. Triple H ~ Orton’s “Age of Orton” title reign against HHH’s comeback story against Cena’s even more impressive comeback story. There was a fair amount of animosity between the guys, so it starting as a brawl was a move I liked. It helps that it’s the style each guy is best suited for. I liked some of the spots, like Orton hitting both men with his hanging DDT or Cena and HHH trading submission holds in a call back to their main event two years prior. When the match seemed to be getting to its peak, it looked like one of the babyfaces would walk out as champion. Triple H planted Cena with the Pedigree, only for Orton to Punt him and cover Cena, retaining in 14:08. That finish has been overdone by now but it was still fresh here and the Punt is the perfect move to pull it off. The match was really fun and better than I remember. I enjoyed a lot of that. [***½]


No Disqualifications Match: Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather ~ I’m mad the WWE Network has to dub over Mayweather’s “I Get Money” instrumental. The idea of Mayweather bobbing and weaving was great. He should be no match for Show in the ring so he had to do what he knows. He’s a great defensive boxer for a reason. They knew how to play perfectly to the crowd. Just when Mayweather running got a little annoying , Show woke the crowd up by slapping his chalice out of his hand and beating up a member of his entourage. Mayweather’s cockiness faded there and Show took control. Show’s offense was great at looking like it crushed Mayweather. They used the stipulation to their advantage. Show beat up entourage members, while Mayweather got a steel chair to level the playing field. He used several chair shots to get Show down to his knee. Then Floyd put on brass knuckles and knocked out Show to earn the victory in 11:35. One of the best celebrity matches ever. They used all the smokes and mirrors and that’s a good thing. [***]

World Heavyweight Championship: Edge [c] vs. The Undertaker ~ Easily one of my most-anticipated WrestleMania main events ever. This felt like a big deal from the entrances until the closing bell. Coming in, neither man had ever been pinned at WrestleMania. Edge came in with a smart plan. He did his homework and had counters ready for Undertaker’s key stuff, always looking to negate whatever he did. After Undertaker’s signature dive, Edge still remained in control and kept the focus on Undertaker’s damaged lower back. When they started going into counters, the match truly became great. We’re talking Last Ride, Chokeslam, Edgecution, and almost every big offensive shot these guys had. The main point stood that Edge had Undertaker’s number. The ref bump made sense because it allowed Edge to hit Undertaker with a camera, which was a callback to Survivor Series. It also gave us the iconic Charles Robinson sprint to the ring on a Tombstone near fall. Edge hit a Spear after a run-in by Hawkins and Ryder. He went for a second knowing one wasn’t enough. Though he hit it, Undertaker trapped him in Hell’s Gates and he had no choice but to tap after 23:49. Outstanding pro wrestling. Undertaker’s best Mania match to this point and the third-best Mania main event to date. Edge was a brilliant villain with a smart plan but Undertaker overcame and was too much for him. Lots of callbacks, counters, and drama. Incredible. [****½]

Damn, this whole show is great. I mean sure, Batista/Umaga is a huge disappointment and there’s that Bunnymania match. But other than that, you’ve got nothing but winners. Edge/Undertaker is one of the best Mania main events of all-time. This show has a fantastic Money in the Bank match. Shawn Michaels/Ric Flair is a classic. Even the unexpected stuff was really good. Mayweather/Show overdelivered, I really liked Orton/Cena/HHH, and Finlay/JBL was a blast of an opener.

SCORE: 9.0

 


 

Memorability

 


We all remember one thing above all from this show. “I’m sorry, I love you.” It’s one of the greatest and most emotional moments in wrestling history. That was the best goodbye Ric Flair could have asked for. Incredible. Some other memorable moments for me was Shelton Benjamin’s bump, Randy Orton’s punt, Floyd Mayweather, Kane’s squash, and the spectacle of the main event. While not the strongest area for this show, it was easily a good one.

SCORE: 7.5

 


 

Historical Significance

 


Though he kind of pooped on it by wrestling for TNA, this was still Ric Flair’s final match for WWE. That’s a big deal. It’s a small note but this was the first ever WrestleMania to be broadcast in high definition. That marked a step in the right direction for the future of the company. Speaking of future, this was the first of two Money in the Bank wins for CM Punk and the true start of him being taken more seriously as a top star. Kane won a major singles title for the first time in about a decade, while Undertaker stood tall as champion at the end of Mania for the second time in his career.

SCORE: 8.5

 


 

Booking Decisions

 


From top to bottom, this show pretty much got it right. There is one glaring issue to me. I personally feel that JBL shouldn’t have gone over in the opener. He had the bigger 2008 coming out of this but Finlay should’ve won it for the honor of his son. Everything else featured good decisions. CM Punk, Randy Orton, The Undertaker, Kane, Batista, Shawn Michaels, and Floyd Mayweather were all right winners. I also appreciated how this show didn’t feature many shenanigans. Clean finishes up and down for the most past.

SCORE: 9.0

 


 

Presentation

 


My word, this is a gorgeous show. It’s not just the HD aspect. The stage is incredible and probably my second favorite in history (you’ll see the top spot in a few installments). It looked magnificent and was at its best when we were treated to those wrestlers with pyro. The video packages throughout the night were once again a strong suit. I loved a lot of the work done on entrances. Ric Flair’s robe, Edge’s pyro, and of course, John Cena getting played to the ring by a marching band were all things that stood out. Phenomenal effort here.

SCORE: 10.0

 


 

Pacing/Flow

 


I’m a big fan of the way this show flowed. It almost never hit a lull. It started with a fun brawl before moving into one hell of a Money in the Bank match. After a weak Batista/Umaga match, you get a quick squash. If I had an issue it would be there. Two hardcore matches following by two lame ones. But even that’s not a big deal. The whole show moves along smoothly and you never feel like you’re bored or stuck for too long.

SCORE: 9.0

 


 

Entertainment

 


Most of the entertainment bits here were a mixed bag. For example, I think John Legend was a great choice to sing at the start of the show. The Mick Foley/Snoop Dogg/Festus segment was harmless. Snoop as a host for the Divas stuff was also fine on paper. In execution, he took over too much of the attention and him making out with Maria was super weird. While Kim Kardashian and Raven Symone didn’t hurt the show, their inclusion was kind of a head scratcher. Imagine how much an appearance from Kim K would cost these days? Mostly inoffensive stuff here but nothing that added to the show.

SCORE: 6.0

 


 

Overall

 


An outstanding show that ranks high on the list of WrestleManias. There’s a little bit of everything here. Great wrestling, a tremendous main event, an emotional high, a wild ladder match, and so much more. I found myself entertained from start to finish as even the low moments weren’t all that bad. One of my favorite WrestleManias and it holds up over a decade later.

TOTAL: 59/70

 

WrestleMania Rankings
1. WrestleMania XIX – 62/70
2. WrestleMania X-Seven – 61/70
3. WrestleMania XXIV – 59/70
4. WrestleMania III – 55/70
5. WrestleMania 21 – 52.5/70
6. WrestleMania X – 52/70
7. WrestleMania 23 – 51/70
8. WrestleMania VIII – 50.5/70
9. WrestleMania XX – 50/70
10. WrestleMania I – 50/70
11. WrestleMania XII – 48.5/70
12. WrestleMania 22 – 48.70
13. WrestleMania VII – 46/70
14. WrestleMania XIV – 46/70
15. WrestleMania VI – 44/70
16. WrestleMania X8 – 43.5/70
17. WrestleMania 2000 – 39.5/70
18. WrestleMania V – 39/70
19. WrestleMania 13 – 37/70
20. WrestleMania XV – 35/70
21. WrestleMania IV – 32/70
22. WrestleMania XI – 31.5/70
23. WrestleMania IX – 31.5/70
24. WrestleMania II – 29/70

article topics :

Wrestlemania 24, Kevin Pantoja