|Promotion||World Wrestling Entertainment|
|Date||March 30, 2008|
|Venue||Florida Citrus Bowl|
|Tagline(s)||"The Biggest WrestleMania Under the Sun"|
WrestleMania XXIV was the 24th annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). The event took place on March 30, 2008, at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida and was the first WrestleMania to be held in the state of Florida. WrestleMania XXIV was the second WrestleMania to be held outdoors, with the first being WrestleMania IX, held in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nine professional wrestling matches were scheduled for the event, which featured a supercard, a scheduling of more than one main event; the first of these matches was a singles match from the ECW brand, in which Kane defeated ECW Champion Chavo Guerrero to win the ECW title. The second was a Triple threat match from the Raw brand, in which WWE Champion Randy Orton defeated challengers Triple H and John Cena to retain the championship. In the final match of the event, The Undertaker defeated SmackDown's World Heavyweight Champion Edge to win the title. From the six scheduled bouts on the undercard, three received more promotion than the others. In a No Disqualification match, boxing champion Floyd "Money" Mayweather defeated Big Show; the other featured undercard matches saw CM Punk win an interpromotional Money in the Bank ladder match and a retirement match in which Shawn Michaels defeated Ric Flair, leading to Flair's departure from the WWE and a period of retirement from active wrestling.
Tickets for the event commenced sale to the public on November 3, 2007. WWE and the City of Orlando hosted festivities that spanned a five-day period within the central Florida region. For the second consecutive year, WrestleMania broke the record for the highest-grossing pay-per-view in WWE history, it also set a gate record for the Citrus Bowl, grossing US$5.85 million in ticket sales. According to a study by Enigma Research Corporation of Toronto, the Citrus Bowl's record-breaking attendance brought an estimated $51.5 million – surpassing the projected $25 million – into the local economy and generated $1.8 million in local tax revenue. The Central Florida Sports Commission reported that the event created jobs and brought approximately 60,000 visitors to the city. Over one million people ordered the event on pay-per-view, grossing $23.8 million in revenue.
On March 21, 2007, a press conference was held at City Hall in Orlando, Florida, formally announcing the event for Orlando at the Citrus Bowl. According to an interview with The Daytona Beach News-Journal at the press conference, WWE chairman Vince McMahon mentioned Orlando being one of three front-runners to host the event, the other two being Las Vegas and Paris. McMahon explained that Orlando was chosen as geographically, a WrestleMania was never held in the southeast before.
As the second WrestleMania to be held entirely outdoors, Vince McMahon also announced that the show would have taken place regardless of the weather conditions. In the March 2008 issue of WWE Magazine, WWE set designer Jason Robinson revealed that a steel rig with a tarpaulin roof would be built above the ring itself to prevent rain from falling on the ring. In that same issue, an initial design of the ring setup was revealed showing a larger rig surrounding the tarpaulin rig, with lighting and two giant screens attached; the final design had the lighting and video screens on the tarpaulin rig, as well as the sound system. During an interview, WWE production manager Brian Petree mentioned that video reinforcement should prevent anyone's view from being obstructed by the steel structure. Up to seven generators were used to power up the show.
The set design for the entrance stage was at the north end of the stadium and consisted of another steel structure with various video screens hanging from it; the steel beams for the structure were custom built in Belgium and shipped over to Orlando. According to WWE Magazine, the amount of pyrotechnics used would be ten times that of the amount used on Raw. Without the restriction of a roof, the pyrotechnics for the show shot as high as 2,000 feet (610 m) as compared to WrestleMania 23's height of 150 feet (46 m); the fireworks were set off from boats on one of the lakes nearby the stadium. WWE has been said to have spent an estimated $300,000 on the fireworks alone.
With the Citrus Bowl's locker rooms on the south side and the entrance set on the north side, a tented 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) mini-city outside the north end served as the show's backstage area and included air conditioning, trailers, VIP areas, showers and restrooms. As a consequence, the road next to the north end zone, W. Church Street, was closed down until a day after the event. Numerous other roads were also closed to allow trucks and fork lifts to move in mega equipment for the event; the ring itself was built on the 50-yard line of the Citrus Bowl to give the best view for fans. Heavy-duty plastic flooring had been put over the field, to protect the turf, provide seating, and serve as the steel structures' foundation.
Development on the set design began in the middle of 2007; the building of the actual set began in the middle of March 2008. 100 people worked 16 hours a day to construct the set for the event. The construction finished on March 29. WrestleMania XXIV was the first WrestleMania event to be filmed in high-definition, it was also the first WWE show and sports related title to be released on the Blu-ray Disc format by WWE Home Video. WrestleMania also led to an increase in sales for musical artists related to the event, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers' album Stadium Arcadium, John Legend's album Live from Philadelphia, Rev Theory's single "Light It Up", and Fuel's single "Leave the Memories Alone", which was used as part of a tribute to Ric Flair.
WrestleMania XXIV featured nine professional wrestling matches with wrestlers involved in pre-existing scripted feuds, plots, and storylines. Wrestlers were portrayed as either villains or fan favorites as they followed a series of tension-building events, which culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches. All wrestlers belonged to either the Raw, SmackDown, or ECW brand – storyline divisions in which WWE assigned its employees to different programs.
The predominant rivalry scripted into WrestleMania on the Raw brand was between Randy Orton, John Cena, and Triple H, over the WWE Championship. At the Royal Rumble pay-per-view event in January, Randy Orton successfully defended the WWE Championship against Jeff Hardy at the same event where John Cena returned from an injury and won the Royal Rumble match, where thirty wrestlers competed in a ring and were eliminated by being thrown over the top rope when he last eliminated Triple H. By winning the match, Cena became a top contender for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXIV. Instead of challenging Randy Orton for the title at WrestleMania, he decided to challenge him at No Way Out. In the match, Orton got himself intentionally disqualified by slapping the referee, thus retaining the WWE Championship due to WWE regulations; that same night, Triple H also became a top contender to the WWE Championship by defeating five other men in an Elimination Chamber match, which featured wrestlers fighting in a ring surrounded by chains and girders. The next night on Raw, Cena argued that he deserved another WWE Championship match. Raw General Manager William Regal, who was portrayed as a matchmaker and rules enforcer, then announced that Cena would face Orton later in the night. Regal added a stipulation to the match that if Cena won, he would be added to the WrestleMania match between Triple H and Orton, making it a Triple threat match, a standard match that involves three wrestlers. If Orton won, the main event would remain as Orton versus Triple H in a singles match. However, Cena won the match and was added to the bout at WrestleMania. After the match, Triple H, who was the Special Guest Referee, executed a Pedigree to both Cena and Orton.
The predominant rivalry on the SmackDown! brand was between Edge and The Undertaker, over the World Heavyweight Championship. On the February 1 episode of SmackDown, Assistant General Manager Theodore Long announced that at No Way Out, an Elimination Chamber match would be held to determine the number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania; the Undertaker won the match by last eliminating Batista. On the following episode of SmackDown, Edge predicted that The Undertaker's 15–0 undefeated streak at WrestleMania would come to an end once he defeated him. Two weeks later, on the March 7 episode of SmackDown, the team of Edge and Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder defeated The Undertaker in a Handicap match, in which one wrestler faces a team of two or more wrestlers, after Edge pinned The Undertaker following a takedown variation called the spear; the following week, Edge, Hawkins, Ryder, and Chavo Guerrero, a group of aligned wrestlers, defeated Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels in a Steel Cage match, where the ring was surrounded by walls of steel. During the match, Undertaker interfered and attacked Hawkins, Ryder, and Guerrero; the Undertaker used a Double chokeslam on Hawkins and Ryder and a Tombstone Piledriver on Guerrero. As Undertaker was attacking Guerrero, however, Edge escaped the cage and won the match for his team; the next week on SmackDown, Edge, along with Vickie Guerrero, Hawkins, and Ryder, held a mock burial, entitled "Burial of The Undertaker's WrestleMania Undefeated Streak", to celebrate Edge's early victory over The Undertaker. During the "burial", however, The Undertaker emerged from a casket, which was inside the ring, and attacked Edge, Hawkins, and Ryder, knocking Hawkins and Ryder outside the ring and chokeslamming Edge through the casket.
At No Way Out, Big Show made a return to the company after taking time off for injuries beginning in December 2006. In his return promotional interview, Big Show threatened to give Rey Mysterio a chokeslam. Professional boxer and WBC Welterweight Champion Floyd "Money" Mayweather, who was in attendance and a close friend of Mysterio's, came to his aid and confronted Big Show. After Big Show dropped to his knees, Mayweather attacked him with a combination of punches, which caused Big Show to bleed from the nose and mouth; the following night on Raw, Big Show challenged Mayweather to a wrestling match, which Mayweather accepted. As part of the storyline, Big Show arranged an exhibition match with fighter Brandon Hill, who was similar in size and stature to Mayweather. Unimpressed with Show's display of dominance over Hill, Mayweather told Show that "at WrestleMania, I'm going to break your jaw". At their weigh-in for their WrestleMania match, Show threw Mayweather into a crowd of wrestlers to emphasise the disparity in size.
On the February 25 episode of Raw, 2008 WWE Hall of Fame Inductee Ric Flair challenged Shawn Michaels to a match at WrestleMania. Michaels accepted after some reluctance, knowing that due to a previous announcement from WWE chairman Mr. McMahon the next match Flair lost would result in his forced retirement. Flair said that "it would be an honor for [him] to retire at the hands of Shawn Michaels."
On February 18, WWE announced via its website that the fourth annual Money in the Bank ladder match would take place at WrestleMania XXIV, a match where the objective is to retrieve a briefcase suspended in the air using a ladder; the match involved wrestlers from all three WWE brands. The winner would earn a contract to challenge for any of the three WWE World Championships (the WWE Championship of Raw, the World Heavyweight Championship of SmackDown, or the ECW Championship of ECW) at any time and any place over a one-year period. Qualifying matches occurred to determine the participants in the match at WrestleMania, starting on that night's Raw with Jeff Hardy and Mr. Kennedy defeating Snitsky and Val Venis respectively to qualify. Shelton Benjamin became the third participant when he defeated Jimmy Wang Yang on the following episode of SmackDown. During the next two weeks on Raw, Chris Jericho defeated Jeff Hardy, and Carlito defeated Cody Rhodes to qualify. At a non-televised SmackDown/ECW house show held on March 8, Montel Vontavious Porter qualified when he defeated Jamie Noble. On the March 11 episode of ECW, CM Punk became the seventh entrant when he defeated Big Daddy V. John Morrison was the final person to qualify when he beat The Miz on the March 14 episode of SmackDown. Jeff Hardy was later removed from the match after a legitimate suspension by WWE for a drug violation of the company's Wellness Policy. WWE decided not to add another superstar in his place, making that year's Money in the Bank ladder match the first year to have seven participants.
Before the show aired live on pay-per-view, Kane won a 24-man Interpromotional Battle Royal, an elimination style match where the last person remaining was the winner, to win an ECW Championship match against Chavo Guerrero later that night; the event officially began with John Legend singing a rendition of "America the Beautiful".
|Commentator||Jonathan Coachman (SmackDown)|
|Michael Cole (SmackDown)|
|Jerry Lawler (Raw)|
|Jim Ross (Raw)|
|Joey Styles (ECW)|
|Carlos Cabrera (Spanish)|
|Hugo Savinovich (Spanish)|
|Ring announcer||Tony Chimel (ECW)|
|Armando Estrada (ECW Championship)|
|Howard Finkel (WWE Hall of Fame)|
|Lilian Garcia (Raw)|
|Theodore Long (Raw vs. SmackDown)|
|William Regal (Raw vs. SmackDown)|
|Justin Roberts (SmackDown)|
|Referee||Scott Armstrong (ECW)|
|Mike Posey (ECW)|
|John Cone (Raw)|
|Mike Chioda (Raw)|
|Jack Doan (Raw)|
|Marty Elias (Raw)|
|Mickie Henson (SmackDown)|
|Jim Korderas (SmackDown)|
|Chad Patton (Raw)|
|Charles Robinson (SmackDown)|
The first match was a Belfast Brawl between Finlay and John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL), a match in which there were no disqualifications or countouts and the match outcomes could have occurred anywhere. Finlay was accompanied to the ring by his storyline son, Hornswoggle, who was returning from a scripted injury suffered at the hands of JBL. During the match, JBL hit Finlay with a trash can lid when the latter was about to perform a suicide dive on him through the ropes on the outside. Later on, Finlay tossed JBL through a table that he had set up earlier on the turnbuckle. Hornswoggle also got involved during the match by hitting JBL with a kendo stick, while later on JBL threw a trash can at him. Attacking Finlay's knee with a kendo stick, JBL delivered a Clothesline from Hell to Finlay to score a successful pinfall; this was an interpromotional match.
The next match of the evening was the fourth-annual Money in the Bank ladder match, in which there were no disqualifications or countouts, and the only way to win the match was to climb a ladder in the ring and retrieve a contract briefcase hanging above; the match featured Chris Jericho, Mr. Kennedy, and Carlito from the Raw brand; CM Punk, Shelton Benjamin and John Morrison from the ECW brand; and Montel Vontavious Porter (M.V.P.) from the SmackDown brand. Jeff Hardy was supposed to be in the match, but he violated the wellness program and was taken out of the match. Early in the match, Morrison climbed a turnbuckle and performed a moonsault onto other competitors outside the ring while holding a ladder against his chest. Later, while Kennedy and Morrison were battling on top of a ladder, Benjamin climbed another ladder placed adjacent to the first one and performed a sunset flip powerbomb on Kennedy, who in turn superplexed Morrison from the top of the ladder. Later, Carlito and Kennedy flipped Benjamin off a ladder in the ring, sending him crashing through another ladder set-up between the barricade and the ring apron; when MVP was close to retrieving the contract briefcase, Matt Hardy (returning to action after suffering a legitimate injury), entered the ring from the crowd, climbed the ladder, and delivered a Twist of Fate to MVP off that ladder. As soon as Morrison started to climb a ladder, see-sawing with another ladder, Jericho flipped the other one and Morrison landed on the ring-ropes groin-first. Jericho even performed a Codebreaker on Punk using a ladder. In the end, Jericho and Punk fought each other on a ladder, but Punk trapped Jericho's one leg in the ladder's steps and retrieved the briefcase to win the match; this was an interpromotional match.
Next after that match, Howard Finkel introduced the 2008 WWE Hall of Fame class: Jack and Gerald Brisco, Gordon Solie (represented by his family), Rocky Johnson, High Chief Peter Maivia (represented by his wife Lia and daughter Ata), Eddie Graham (represented by his son Mike), Mae Young, and Ric Flair (represented by his family).
The next match, which was billed as a "Battle for Brand Supremacy", was between SmackDown's Batista and Raw's Umaga. Early in the match, both Batista and Umaga exchanged blows and Batista knocked Umaga outside with a shoulder block. Umaga later kicked Batista in the face, which caused him to fall back-first outside the ring from the ring-apron; as a result, Umaga started targeting Batista's injured back. In the end, however, when Umaga tried to perform his Samoan Spike, Batista countered the attempt and gave him a spinebuster. Batista won the match by pinning Umaga after a Batista Bomb.
The fourth match for the event featured Chavo Guerrero defending his ECW Championship against Kane. Kane surprised Chavo by emerging from underneath the ring instead of from the entrance stage during his ring entrance. Kane instantly pinned Chavo after a chokeslam and won the ECW Championship in eleven seconds; this was the only ECW match on the show.
Main event matches
Ric Flair's "Career Threatening" match against Shawn Michaels was next, which stipulated that Flair would have to retire from wrestling if he had lost. At the start of the match, both superstars engaged in a series of counters, and then Flair shoved Michaels in a corner, making "Old Yeller" comments to him. In retaliation, Michaels slapped Flair in the face, which caused him to start bleeding from the mouth. Later, Michaels attempted Sweet Chin Music, but stopped in the process and Flair capitalized by trapping him in his figure four leglock. Afterward, Michaels finally delivered the Sweet Chin Music to Flair for a near-fall. Michaels then trapped Flair in his modified figure four leglock, but Flair delivered a thumb to the eye to Michaels to break the submission; as Flair was delivering chops to Michaels' chest, Michaels executed a second Sweet Chin Music. After getting up on his feet with a worried face, Michaels said to Flair "I'm sorry, I love you", before nailing a final Sweet Chin Music and thus pinning Flair to end his 35-year-long wrestling career. After the match, Michaels left quickly and Flair got a standing ovation from the crowd. An emotional Flair embraced his family at ringside and then, as he proceeded to go backstage, he thanked the crowd for their support.
The sixth match was the Playboy BunnyMania Lumberjack match, in which Maria and Ashley faced Beth Phoenix and Melina, who were accompanied to the ring by Santino Marella. Rapper Snoop Dogg served as the official "Master of Ceremonies" for the match. In the match, several WWE Divas surrounded the ring and were able to interfere in the match without disqualifications. Due to some technical difficulties, the lights at Citrus Bowl temporarily went out during the match. Near the end, a pin attempt by Maria was prevented when Marella pulled Maria's leg. In response, Raw commentator Jerry Lawler approached and knocked Marella down with a punch. Phoenix executed a Fisherman Suplex and pinned Maria to win the match. After the match, Snoop Dogg executed a Clothesline on Marella and kissed Maria, before leaving with her and Ashley.
Next was Randy Orton defending his WWE Championship against Triple H and John Cena in a triple threat match, which is a standard match involving three wrestlers with no disqualifications. For his entrance, Cena had the Jones High School Marching Tigers marching band perform an instrumental version of his theme song "The Time Is Now" live. During the match, when Triple H had held Orton in a sleeper hold, Cena picked up both Orton and Triple H for an FU, but Triple H dropped down and low blowed him. Orton then dominated the match for some time; one highlight of the match featured Orton performing a crossbody from the top rope on Cena, while the latter was held on Triple H's shoulders in a seating position. Orton also performed an DDT to both Cena and Triple H simultaneously. Orton then tried to perform an RKO on Cena, but he countered and threw Orton onto Triple H. Triple H then started targeting Orton's legs and using some submissions on him; the match came to an end when Cena had Triple H on his shoulders for the FU, but was countered into a Pedigree. As Triple H was in the pin, Orton punted Triple H and pinned Cena to win the match and retain the WWE Championship.
The next match was the No Disqualification match between Big Show and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Early in the match, Mayweather repeatedly escaped Big Show's grasp and delivered body shots to him. Mayweather and his accomplices tried to "walk out" of the match, but Big Show walked up the ramp and brought Mayweather back in the ring; as Big Show was about to chokeslam Mayweather, one of Mayweather's accomplices struck a steel chair on Big Show's back, and the latter chokeslammed him in retaliation. Capitalizing from this distraction, Mayweather grabbed that chair and hit Big Show multiple times on the head with it. Finally, Mayweather removed his right glove and put on a pair of brass knuckles to hit Big Show in the face; as a result, Big Show was knocked out as he could not answer the referee's ten count, and Mayweather was declared the winner.
The main event of the night saw Edge putting his World Heavyweight Championship on the line against The Undertaker; the early going of the match was slow-paced, in which both superstars countered each other's maneuvers. During the match, Undertaker ran and leapt over the top rope from the ring onto Edge on the outside. Then throughout the match, Edge was able to counter Undertaker's numerous signature moves, including the Chokeslam, Old School and the Last Ride, a variation of the powerbomb. Near the end, Edge hit Undertaker with a television camera while the referee was knocked down; when he proceeded to deliver a Tombstone Piledriver to Undertaker, Undertaker countered it into his own version and successfully delivered it to Edge for a two-count. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder came to the ring for Edge's aid, but Undertaker took them out; because of their distraction, Edge was able to execute a spear on Undertaker, but was unable to pin him. When Edge delivered another spear to Undertaker, Undertaker applied Hell's Gate and forced Edge to submit to win the World Heavyweight Championship, improving his WrestleMania record to 16–0.
After the show, WWE was criticized for a malfunction in the pyrotechnics during The Undertaker's victory celebration. During the celebration, a hot cable for pyrotechnics was sent flying into audience members in the upper seating bowl of the stadium, leaving 45 injured, with some hospitalized; the accident was apparently due to a cable which fireworks were traveling across snapping, thus resulting in the fireworks exploding into the top rows of the upper bowl of the stadium. WWE's corporate website released a statement afterward stating that they would investigate the incident, but the results of the investigation were never released.
On the following episode of Raw, Ric Flair made his farewell speech, which led to Triple H introducing various people from Flair's past, such as the Four Horsemen, Ricky Steamboat, and others, each coming out to give an emotional farewell. Afterward, the entire WWE roster came out to say thank you to Flair (Including Undertaker, who came out after Raw went off the air and hugged Flair and did his kneeling stance). Shawn Michaels, who was clearly upset about retiring Flair, was forgiven by Flair. Despite Flair's forgiveness, his former protégé Batista later started a feud with Michaels, citing Michaels' "selfishness" at WrestleMania for not lying down for Flair; the two had a match booked at Backlash, WWE's next scheduled pay-per-view event, and after a confrontation between Michaels and Chris Jericho, Jericho was later added into the match as a Special Guest Referee. Michaels won with a superkick.
The feud between Randy Orton, John Cena and Triple H continued after WrestleMania with the added involvement of John "Bradshaw" Layfield leading to a Fatal Four-Way Elimination match between all four at Backlash, an elimination style match where the last person remaining is the winner. At the event, Triple H won his seventh WWE Championship by last pinning Orton. With Matt Hardy's return at WrestleMania, his feud with Montel Vontavious Porter over the WWE United States Championship, that had started in July 2007, was revived with a match booked at Backlash, which Hardy won; the rivalries between The Undertaker and Edge and the one between Kane and Chavo Guerrero both continued with successful title defenses at Backlash. On the May 2 episode of SmackDown, General Manager Vickie Guerrero stripped The Undertaker of the World Heavyweight Championship because of his continued use of his illegal chokehold, claiming she did it to protect the other wrestlers.
Approximately 1,058,000 people ordered WrestleMania XXIV, grossing $23.8 million in revenue. This number was fewer than the 1,188,000 buys that WrestleMania 23 achieved. Canadian Online Explorer's professional wrestling section gave the entire event 9 out of 10 stars; the rating was higher than WrestleMania 23 which received 8 out of 10 stars. The main event between The Undertaker and Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship was rated a 9.5 out of 10 stars. The Career Threatening match between Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels was rated a perfect 10 out of 10. Big Show vs. Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. was rated 7 out of 10 stars, and the Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship between Randy Orton, Triple H and John Cena was rated 8.5 out of 10 stars.
The event was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc by WWE Home Video in the U.S. on May 20, 2008, after it had completed broadcast on pay-per-view. It was the first WWE event to be released via the Blu-ray format; as well as the event, the DVD/BD release features bonus material in the form of the 2008 Hall of Fame ceremony in its entirety and the battle royal that took place before the event.
- Order of elimination: Deuce, Domino, Jim Duggan, Stevie Richards, Elijah Burke, The Miz, Shannon Moore, Jimmy Wang Yang, Jesse, Trevor Murdoch, Festus, The Brian Kendrick, Lance Cade, Kofi Kingston, Cody Rhodes, Jamie Noble, Chuck Palumbo, The Great Khali, Hardcore Holly, Tommy Dreamer, Snitsky, Mark Henry. Participated but elimination unmentioned: Val Venis
- The lumberjills were: Eve Torres, Cherry, Jillian Hall, Maryse, Katie Lea Burchill, Layla, Michelle McCool, Mickie James and Victoria
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