Date: March 30, 2008
Location: Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Jonathan Coachman, Joey Styles, Taz
America The Beautiful: John Legend
Since this Mania is just over a year old, I’m going to assume that most of you already know the main ideas behind it. Your truly big match here was Ric Flair in what was known would be his last match vs. Shawn Michaels. Without a doubt to me, this should have closed the show. World Titles aside, neither match is going to be as emotional as this. Flair was offered the chance to close the show and said absolutely not which I can admire.
Your other big feuds coming into this were Orton vs. HHH vs. Cena and Edge vs. Undertaker. There was also a match between boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Big Show which still boggles my mind to this day. I’ve heard some great and some bad reviews for this, so I guess we’ll have to see how well it holds up a year later.
We get a recap kind of telling us how the entire year has gone which is kind of a cool thing that would help a lot if it was a permanent thing. The open stadium concept is truly awesome and looks great. They have kind of a dome over the ring to keep the rain out which is also smart of them. After America The Beautiful, it’s time for our first match.
JBL vs. Finlay
This is a Belfast Brawl, meaning no DQ I suppose. This match/feud stems from the most absurd storyline I can ever recall as Vince had his illegitimate son Hornswoggle face him in a cage match. Vince beat him up with a belt as Finlay came in for the save. JBL then cuffed Finlay to the cage and beat up Horny.
I remember this buildup being quite good but looking back at it now, I can’t believe I actually thought this was good. Seriously, they’re fighting over a freaking midget. Then we get the DRAMATIC reveal that Horny was Finlay’s song all along. REALLY??? The tiny leprechaun that hangs out with the Irishman who is the only person on the planet that cares about him is his father? I’m stunned.
They start on the floor and the bell hasn’t actually rung yet. Ok so it’s one of those kind of fights. JBL gets a big shot with a trashcan and Finlay is in trouble early on. JBL had lost a ton of weight and actually looked fairly lean by this point. After he takes forever to get some stairs into the ring his Piledriver on them fails though and here comes the older dude.
Nothing all that special here as it’s back and forth but intense for the most part. Well as intense as this match could be that is. Both guys control for awhile and then get hit by something to break the momentum. Is it bad that seeing Horny all scared and nervous makes me laugh and smile?
Finlay busts out a table as JR tries to make this seem all serious and such. It’s set up in the corner as I’m getting into this far more than I should. DOWN GOES THE MIDGET! Finlay goes the heck off on him with trashcan lids and JBL is more or less done on the floor. A suicide dive eats lid though and Finlay is in trouble all over again.
More going off follows as the crowd is into this. I’m not sure why but this is actually working pretty freaking well. It’s not a great match or anything but it’s very fun. JBL finally goes through the table for a LONG two. Finlay comes at him with stairs but JBL gets a kendo stick shot into the knee. The Clothesline From JBL ends it though. Fun match.
Rating: C+. If there has ever been a match where the term “fine for what it was” is appropriate, this is it. This match was designed to get the crowd going a bit and not be anything serious and that’s exactly what they went out and did. Nothing bad here at all but nothing to go out of your way to see. Run of the mill hardcore match but rather fun, and that’s all fine and good.
Kennedy says he’s going to repeat as MITB. Kim Kardashian did the interviews at this show so at least we have something nice to look at.
Money in the Bank: Shelton Benjamin vs. Carlito vs. Chris Jericho vs. John Morrison vs. CM Punk vs. MVP vs. Mr. Kennedy
You know the drill by now I’m sure. It’s weird to see Morrison as a heel. Morrison is a tag champion, MVP is US Champion and Jericho is IC Champion here. Nice to see the titles being treated so well here. I wouldn’t expect to see much in the area of play by play here as it’s way too much to call move for move.
Everyone not named MVP runs out to grab a ladder so he steals Kennedy’s when it comes into the ring. He and Jericho have a joust with them with the Canadian winning. Morrison grabs a ladder and puts it perpendicular to himself. He then climbs to the top and moonsaults while still holding the ladder to take out just about everyone! Sweet looking stuff!
Kennedy and Jericho are left in the ring with Jericho launching Kennedy into a ladder. Kennedy is like screw that and holds on before scurrying up. Morrison rides a ladder from the corner onto the middle ladder to stop Kennedy in an awesome spot. Kennedy sets for a suplex but Shelton jumps over Kennedy in a sunset powerbomb which pulls Morrison over too in a Tower of Doom spot. This is all in less than four minutes mind you.
With everyone more or less dead Punk goes up but just kind of stops so Shelton can make the save. GTS to Shelton and Punk goes up again. Carlito makes the save as I forgot he was even in this at all. There’s a ladder between the ring and the railing which makes me think nothing is going to go well for the ladder.
And I’m right as Shelton almost makes it up there but gets the whole ladder shoved over and flips onto the bridged ladder, breaking it in the middle. Morrison almost makes it but gets caught in the Walls by Jericho in a spot he and Benoit did at the 01 Rumble. Now Kennedy comes up so Punk has to springboard up. Carlito enacts Puerto Rican Affirmative Action and gets up as well, giving us five guys on two ladders.
Naturally they all fall down and leave Jericho there but Carlito saves it. Total spotfest so far. Backstabber off the ladder to Jericho and everyone is dead until MVP gets his wits about him. With no one in sight, Matt Freaking Hardy runs through the crowd and gets a Twist of Fate off the top to save the match. MVP had hurt Matt a few months ago.
Morrison is under a ladder in the corner and Jericho wedges the top of another into the rungs of the one in the corner, kind of making a big V shape. Morrison shoves the original one forward which allows him to be able to climb the ladder without having to have it open due to the wedge design. This is awesome stuff. Naturally Morrison gets crotched on the top but it’s still cool looking.
Jericho goes up again but Carlito spits apple at him instead. Kennedy drills him and shoves him off but Punk drills Kennedy. Jericho pops up again and hits the Codebreaker with a ladder to take out Punk. Punk more or less no sells it though and climbs up to stop Jericho as everyone else is pretty much dead. Punk knocks Jericho down into the Tree of Woe and grabs the case to win it. Total war the whole way through.
Rating: B. It was a wild brawl, but we just got done with a wild brawl. This was solid and the backflip ladder spot was sweet looking. Other than Matt returning though, there’s not much to hate. This was Jeff Hardy’s to win before he got wellnessed out of it. Another fun match and one of the best MITB matches ever as it was a total spotfest the whole way, which it’s supposed to be.
Hall of Fame Ceremony. This is Flair’s class, but he’s in the back getting ready so his kids accept it. The only ones that truly belong in to me are Flair, Solie, and the Briscos.
HHH is ready.
Snoop Dog is here. He sends Festus after Santino in a dumb segment.
Batista vs. Umaga
This is the Brand Supremacy match that was thrown together because there was nothing for either of these guys. I really wouldn’t expect this to be anything resembling good. Power match to start us off as you would of course expect. The GMs, Teddy and Regal, are here also. Umaga gets a spinwheel kick to take down Batista and take over.
A big boot sends the Animal to the floor. There’s the nerve hold as it’s all Umaga here. Middle rope headbutt misses though and here comes the Animal again. And so much for that as we hit the nerve hold again. This is rivetingly bad if that wasn’t clear. Samoan Drop mostly ends Batista so of course it only gets two.
Batista gets a quick comeback and so much for that as it’s over already. Samoan Spike is blocked though and Umaga’s head eats post. Spinebuster puts him down and the Batista Bomb ends it clean. WOW. That might be the least interesting match I have ever seen, which is saying a lot.
Rating: F+. These two had no chemistry together at all and it showed badly. This match was a waste as you had a multi-time world champion against a top mid carder. These brand supremacy things are rarely good and this was no exception. The other stupid part was Batista went to Raw a few weeks later. Totally bad match and I have no idea what they were going for here, but it didn’t work at all.
Mayweather vs. Show is anything goes and you can win by knockout.
Mayweather and company are here.
ECW Title-Kane vs. Chavo Guerrero
Kane won a battle royal before the show started to get this shot. By the time I was done typing that previous sentence the match ends. Here’s your match: bell rings, Kane chokeslams Chavo, pinfall.
Rating: N/A. There’s no match here so I can’t rate it, but this was exactly what was needed. Kane absolutely dominated here and it made him look like a monster. Well done actually.
Painfully bad Mania promo for the show that is already on.
Raven Simone does something for Make-A-Wish. Can’t stand her but it’s a cool charity.
Note: the following was written BEFORE Flair signed in TNA and before he came back to WWE in 2009.
And here it is. This is the match that defines this Wrestlemania. Many people, including myself, feel that this should have been the final match of the night. We knew that Flair was going to lose, but it’s the pure symbolism of the match that’s important. Many people have this match because it’s “an old man that should have retired 10 years ago.”
To them I have one thing to say: get over yourselves. Ric Flair was the man that drove the NWA and WCW through the roof in the 1980s. Without him, Sting, Luger and the Horsemen, and therefore DX, the NWO and the Monday Night Wars don’t happen.
Ric Flair means more to this business than all but a very few and if he wants to wrestle until his tits hang lower than Terri Runnels then so be it. When anyone, and I mean ANYONE, can last in the business at a high level for as long as he has, let me know. I’ll be at my wedding to Trish Stratus.
Some people like to talk about how Flair needed to hang it up. Maybe those people need to SHUT it up and let the man do what he wants. Vince didn’t let him go did he? I’m willing to go out on a short limb and say Vince has forgotten more about wrestling than any of us will ever know, so get off your high smarky horses.
As for the other participant in this match, Shawn Michaels may not have been the perfect choice here, but I don’t have a problem with it being him at all. So what if he and Flair are friends in real life? It’s Flair’s last match and if he wants to go out to Shawn, then blast it he should be able to go out to Shawn. Shawn puts on his best this time of year so why should this be any different?
Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels
The intros for both guys are of course great. You can tell the fans and the entire world knows that Flair is losing here but that’s fine here much like it can be at other times. We exchange hammerlocks to start and no one can get an extended advantage. They shove each other and Flair shouts OLD YELLER HUH?
Flair might have bitten his lip or something as it’s busted open a tiny bit. Shawn goes up but gets slammed off in a nice little touch. Flair goes up and GETS A CROSS BODY for two. That was kind of awesome. Old men flying through the air is cool for some reason. Baseball slide takes down Flair again though Shawn misses an Asai Moonsault and slams into the table, possibly legitimately injuring his ribs.
A nearly perfect suplex gets two for Flair as he’s hitting everything perfectly here. Remember if he loses he has to retire so they’re playing up the fight for survival deal here and it’s working for the most part I think. Shawn gets a neckbreaker to come back and hits a moonsault off the top to the floor to leave both guys laying. When I say hits I mean Flair sticks an arm out which slows Shawn down a bit mind you.
Forearm sets up the nipup and here comes Shawn despite not really being in trouble for the most part. There’s the elbow and Shawn sets for the superkick but can’t do it. Flair is like ok then and double scoops the legs to throw on the Figure Four. Flair has aged about ten years in this match so far. The rope is grabbed soon and we go to the backslide sequence that Flair has done a million times. That being said, Flair can’t really do it due to his age. That’s rather sad.
Flair goes back to the knee and now we get the REAL Figure Four. I guess the other was just a preview edition. Shawn reverses though into a cradle for two. Enziguri misses and THERE is the Figure Four. A rope is grabbed again but this time more damage is done here. However Flair does one WOO too many and gets drilled by the kick for two as Shawn couldn’t cover immediately.
Shawn sets for the kick again but Flair gets a low blow which brings a nice little smile to my face. That only gets two though as this is fairly solid stuff. Shawn gets his disfigured figure four on but like Flair is going to lose to that. He’s Shawn Michaels, not Jay Lethal. A rollup get two for Flair and they chop it out. Shawn is like screw it and kicks his head off. Flair gets up again, and although Shawn is sorry and he loves Flair, the third superkick ends Flair’s career. Well for about a year or so at least.
Rating: A. As I said, this wasn’t about the match. This was about saying goodbye to one of the greatest performers of all time. That night, the titles weren’t important, the atmosphere wasn’t important, and the show wasn’t important. This night was about Ric Flair saying goodbye to being an in ring competitor.
Should this match have gone on last? Yes I think that it should have. Nothing, and I mean nothing, was as important to the industry as the moment when his final match ended. It was a sad day, as Flair didn’t get to go out on his own terms completely, but at least he went out on the biggest stage in the world.
As for the match, it’s not nearly as bad as people make it out to be. Yes, some spots are blown. Yes, we knew what was going to happen. Some find “I’m sorry, I love you” to be corny. That’s fine that you think that way, but this match almost had me in tears all over again.
It’s so sad to see Ric Flair having reached the point where he can’t bridge up for a backslide anymore. This man was once the greatest performer in the entire world and now he can’t do a simple reversal spot. He broke out all of his old classics including the cross body block that made him famous by giving him the world title at the first ever Starrcade. This match isn’t great from a wrestling perspective but it’s more than that. This match is about the end of an era.
Flair gets a big sad moment but the real one would come tomorrow.
Edge says the Streak ends tonight.
So who gets to follow that match? I hate to say it but whoever they are, their match is going to go down a letter grade or so as it’s simply not going to be easy to touch what just happened.
Beth Phoenix/Melina vs. Maria/Ashley
Oh screw it. I was going to try to be nice to whatever came next and I get “bunnymania”? Well crud. This is a lumberjill match, hosted by Snoop Dog in a pitiful attempt to bring celebrity status to this show. He’s driving something that looks like a golf cart that looks stupid. Santino is here to annoy all of us again as he helps the heels cheat to win.
Well at least Maria looks good. Actually only Ashley doesn’t here. Beth has to sell for this Ashley pest which makes my head hurt quite a bit. Snoop is so stoned he can’t stop smiling. Sweet merciful crap make this end already. Total time in before my head hurts: 34 seconds. Well I lasted longer than I thought I could.
The girls on the floor waste their usual time and no one cares at all. Maria saves Ashley. You can see the issue here with her being the better worker of the team. And there go the lights. Yeah you can’t see anything at all for about a minute or so. Ah there’s a spotlight. Well that helps a little I guess.
Glam Slam is blocked and we get some heel miscommunication. The lumberjacks get involved again and Maria gets two on Beth. Here’s Santino but Lawler attacks him which led to nothing of note. Beth pins Maria after Musclebuster. Snoop attacks Santino and kisses Maria, somehow making me less interested than I was when this started. This led to Glamarella if you’re interested for some reason.
Rating: F. Another waste of time in a bad match. How long is it going to take for the WWE to realize something: someone that is willing to be naked in a magazine doesn’t mean they can wrestle. The teams should have been switched so Melina can face Beth, as both can actually work. The lights went out during this match, as God himself is showing that he doesn’t care, and neither did I. Such a waste of time.
Recap of the Raw World Title match. Orton was champion, Cena got in by winning the Rumble and challenging Orton at No Way Out but Orton got intentionally DQed, and HHH is in because he won the Elimination Chamber that same night. I have never once liked three way matches for world titles at Mania.
The idea is supposed to be one on one for the heavyweight championship of the world, not three guys with false finish after false finish. I am however glad that this isn’t the main event of the night. It wasn’t the biggest match of the night and it wasn’t billed as such.
Raw World Title: Randy Orton vs. John Cena vs. HHH
Cena gets a full marching band entrance here. That’s rather awesome. Everyone goes after each other to start and we’re on the floor already. FU attempt on Orton almost immediately but he gets nowhere with it as HHH apparently fears Cena as he’d rather save Orton than get rid of him. You can tell Cena isn’t taking this seriously: he isn’t in his black jeans.
Orton gets both guys down and covers both of them multiple times which gets him nowhere. He keeps up the advantage though by slowly, and I do mean SLOWLY stomping both guys. Wouldn’t he give them more time to recover by taking so much time like that? Couldn’t he do better by stomping their heads the whole time? Double elevated DDT and our heroes are in trouble!
Cena comes back and hits the Throwback to HHH and the Fameasser to Orton but Orton manages to send Cena into the post on the floor to buy himself some time. Back to Hunter vs. Randall now. HHH works the knee but Cena comes in to distract him. Once John goes down the RKO takes down HHH.
Cena saves of course and the STFU to Orton has him in trouble. This is going by FAST. Cena tells him to tap but Orton doesn’t listen. I guess Cena isn’t one of the voices in his head. Back with HHH now as he hooks a freaking Indian Deathlock on Orton. WOW he’s busting out the way old stuff here. HHH back to the floor thanks to Cena and there’s the STFU again.
HHH literally comes in to pull Cena’s arms off of Cena. I guess HHH wants to cuddle him. He throws a Crossface on Cena for fun. I know he wants the title but I didn’t think he wanted to kill him. The fans are all over Cena here and it’s kind of funny to see. Boo/Yay thing with the punches and here comes Cena.
He initiates the ending sequence on HHH and sets for the FU but gets taken down by a clothesline. Pedigree and STFU are reversed but a facebuster and clothesline set up the spinebuster which sets up the Pedigree. Orton Punts HHH out of nowhere and climbs on Cena for the pin to retain. Nice little ending there.
Rating: C+. It’s ok and that’s all. Like I said, there’s nothing special here whatsoever. It’s not a bad match but it’s just ok. There was nothing Mania-like here at all. It was three men in a standard formula match. Why should I get emotionally invested into this match? There was no reason for me to and simply put, I didn’t.
We recap the boxer vs. wrestler thing. Okay, this feud has been over and done with for a solid year and there’s one thing I’d still like to know: WHO IN THE WORLD WAS THE FACE SUPPOSED TO BE??? This feud was ridiculous.
In case you don’t know, Big Show returned at No Way Out and got in the face of a really good boxer named Floyd “Money” Mayweather, who legitimately broke his nose with a punch. This led to a feud between the two, culminating in this match.
Over the course of the 5-6 weeks, we got terrible promos from Mayweather and Show and it was never once made clear who the face was. Should we cheer for the underdog that is an outsider or for the monster that looks like a bully? That was never answered which is a problem.
Floyd Mayweather vs. Big Show
Mayweather does the whole raining money deal. Naturally Floyd has gloves on. Mayweather dodges a lot and that gets him nowhere as we’re more or less just killing time for awhile. Floyd throws punches which don’t do much. This is going NOWHERE. Out of boredom, Show beats up one of Floyd’s posse.
Show grabs Mayweather’s hand and tries to step on it which doesn’t work. This is about 85% standing around and “jockeying for position”. Show almost gets a chokeslam but Floyd gets on his back for a choke. After nearly a minute and a half of this, Show flips him over and steps on his hands to send Floyd’s posse into a frenzy.
Big chop by Show in the corner as the posse shouts that Show can’t do various things, such as stand on his chest. I hate this match very deeply at the moment. Them shouting THIS IS FOR YOUR KIDS when Mayweather has like 50 million dollars makes me sick. He has money. I don’t want to hear about how he’s doing this for his kids. If they can’t survive off the paychecks he makes already, there’s a major problem.
Show hurts him a lot and drops an elbow. This is AWFUL. The posse pulls him out, Show goes to get him, he beats up the posse, the posse tries to give Floyd a chair, Show beats that guy up again, Mayweather pops Show with the chair and a shot with brass knuckles ends this via knockout, FINALLY.
Rating: D-. This was a mess. These things rarely work and this was following the norm of not working. Mayweather is simply too small to get this to work. He stands 5’8 and while he’s a great boxer, no one honestly believed that he could beat Show.
There’s no way to make this work: if Mayweather wins, Big Show looks weak. If Show wins, he beat a tiny man at Show’s own game on his turf. Either way there’s no way to make this work and they didn’t have one.
The other thing that’s a problem is that Mayweather has no business wrestling. He’s a puncher, but even with that there’s no way to believe that he has a chance here. They tried to make this look competitive, but the crowd was completely behind Mayweather for the simple reason of he’s average sized and Big Show is……well he’s BIG. This did not do it for me at all.
There’s a new attendance record.
Taker gets this title shot from winning the Rumble. That’s all you need to know.
Smackdown Title: Edge vs. Undertaker
Edge brings out Vickie in the wheelchair. Taker’s entrance remains completely awesome. He came out first which is odd yet traditional. What an odd thing to see. Edge is a four time champion here, meaning he’s won a world title every six months since then. Keeping in mind that he hasn’t had one since April of 2009, that says a lot.
Very basic stuff to start as we’re not going anywhere so far. Old School is countered but Taker shifts around in mid air into an arm drag. It gets NO reaction. That’s saying a lot as no one cares after something I don’t remember seeing before. Taker gets a running knee to the head and goes over the top in a nice looking move. Taker may have hurt his arm though.
Edge takes over and almost gets a countout. He goes up and gets caught like any good heel and here comes the Deadman. VERY slow pace so far as each short sequence they’re doing is taking 2-3 minutes each. Lash Ride won’t work as Taker’s back is messed up from various attacks by the evil Canadian. Edge drops Taker’s back over the railing and the Deadman is in trouble.
In the ring again and Edge throws on a half crab as a joke I suppose. Much like everything else in this match, that goes on for two minutes. They slug it out and take a guess who wins that. They FINALLY speed things up a bit as the chokeslam is countered into the Edgecution for two. Spear is avoided and the chokeslam gets two.
Old School is blocked AGAIN for two as Edge pounds away in the corner like an IDIOT. Last Ride is countered into a neckbreaker for two. Taker calls for the Tombstone but Edge counters AGAIN into the Edge-O-Matic for two. The third Old School hits and Edge is in trouble again. And there goes the referee to a big boot. Ok where are the cronies?
Low blow takes down the Deadman as does a camera shot but there’s still no referee. Like an idiot, Edge goes for a Tombstone and is reversed but there’s no referee. Charles Robinson runs down to count two. I don’t think you can count that as Edge doing the same as Batista and Shawn kicking out of all the finishers though so we won’t do it.
Ah I was right. Here are Curt Hawkins and Zach Ryder (shut up about him being in the Mania main event) and never mind as a double chokeslam gets rid of them. Spear from nowhere gets two and the fans are into it now. Edge sets for another spear but runs into the whatever that thing is called for the chokeout and submission.
Rating: A-. There’s just something missing from this match and I just can’t place it. All the elements are there as Edge and Taker are both well established main event players, the Streak is on the line and Taker gets a world title at Mania like he should, but there’s just something missing from it. Maybe it’s that these matches were done better later in the year. Either way, it’s certainly good, but not a masterpiece.
Overall Rating: C-. There’s a lot of good stuff here, but there’s only one truly good match. Yet again the tradition of messing things up with the Brand Split comes into play as the best match doesn’t go on last. This show should have been about Ric Flair, not a world title. Not many people can get that honor but it should have happened here.
At the end of the day, no one cared about what happened in the two title matches, or any other match for that matter. Flair going on in the middle of the show hurts it a lot. Other than him, there’s nothing noteworthy here to me at all. The show isn’t bad, but it’s hardly memorable. Mild recommendation but don’t go out of your way for it.