Welcome back to another Mania Main Thoughts. With Wrestlemania 33 still over two months away, we’re just getting into this thing, so make sure to go back and check out the other reviews for WMVIII, 2000 and 25th while it’s still easy to catch up.
Today, we’re going almost a decade back to Wrestlemania XXIV, which shares a home with the upcoming WM33 – the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL. I know it’s the Camping World Stadium now, but I don’t recognize any name change that involves a company that has nothing to do with anything. Can you camp in Camping World Stadium? No. Can you get citrus fruits? I’m going to guess yes.
While the WWE product had tamed down a lot by WMXXIV, the PG Era’s official start (with all WWE programming going PG) was still a few months away. So what better way to give that TV-14 rating a sendoff than with the one and only Rated R Superstar, Edge?
Edge was pretty much at the top of his career at this point and was reveling in his “ultimate opportunist” character. Not long after WM23, Edge cashed in the Money In The Bank briefcase to take the World Heavyweight Title off of The Undertaker. Not only had Taker just successfully defended the title against Batista in a grueling steel cage match, he’d also suffered a post-match beatdown by The World’s Strongest Man, Mark Henry. You don’t even have to be a Median Opportunist to see the opportunity there. Edge would hold onto the title for a couple of months before being sidelined with an injury.
Edge made his return at the 2007 Survivor Series, where he disguised himself as a cameraman and caused The Undertaker to lose in a World Title Hell In A Cell Match with then-champion Batista. Edge went full-on heel with his return, aligning himself with villainous SmackDown! GM Vickie Guerrero – in business and in love. With Vickie’s help, Edge inserted himself into the World Title picture and, at Armageddon 2007, walked out from a Triple Threat with Undertaker and Batista with the World Heavyweight Title.
Of course, Edge, being the Ultimate Opportunist, didn’t win the title without help. He utilized a bloody double! Actually two of them – the new tag team of the Majors Brothers, who would go on to be known as the Edgeheads, or Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder. So if you’re wondering where we got Zack Ryder, you can thank Edge.
With a couple of flunkies and Chavo Guerrero thrown in for good measure, Edge was captaining an entire faction now. They called themselves La Familia
I don’t remember why Vickie was working a wheelchair gimmick at the time. I feel like there’s nothing Vince McMahon hates more than a person in a wheelchair, because wheelchairs are always used to get heel heat. I guess some rolling bastard really got under Vince’s skin once.
It’s also interesting to note that Edge’s alliances here are uncannily similar to how Seth Rollins was booked a couple of years ago. You’ve got full backing by the people in charge (The Authority/Vickie), a couple of flunkies (J&J Security/The Edgeheads) and the tough veteran at your side (Corporate Kane/Chavo). I guess they really do replay this stuff every seven years. I’ve really wasted a lot of my life.
Edge held onto the World Title as WMXXIV drew closer. The fact that he put a ring on Vickie Guerrero’s finger helped a lot. At the 2008 No Way Out PPV, an Elimination Chamber Match was held to determine with whom Edge would face off for the title at Mania. Participants would include The Great Khali and Big Daddy V. I didn’t say it was a classic.
The match ended when The Undertaker tombstoned his old foe Batista to earn the #1 Contender and Mania spot, where he’d finally exact his vengeance on Edge. The scene had been set.
Of course, you didn’t need much to hype an Undertaker Wrestlemania match. Taker was well into his Mania Streak at this point, having gone 15-0 at the show since his debut at WMVII. The “can he beat the streak” hype had been a part of the Road to Wrestlemania for years, and Taker had taken out some huge names in the last few years, including Batista for the World Title at WM23 the year before.
Edge took to bragging that he was also undefeated at Wrestlemania (5-0), which wasn’t entirely true. He had never lost a singles or tag match, but he did lose the Money In The Bank Ladder Match the year before. Never trust a heel.
WMXXIV is one of the better Wrestlemanias from the show’s third decade. The Ric Flair retirement match with Shawn Michaels is an emotional classic, CM Punk won his first Money In The Bank Ladder match, and even the opening match – which featured Finlay taking on JBL in a Belfast Brawl (somehow the blowoff match for the “Mr. McMahon blew up in his limo” storyline – don’t get me started) – was hot. WMXXIV also featured the Floyd Mayweather/Big Show match, which was much better than it had a right to be. WWE loves outside celebrities, but they really made everything click when they realized that Mayweather was the heel for that match.
WMXXIV also had one of the weirdest and best official themes – “Snow ((Hey Oh))” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Because Orlando and snow just go hand in hand.
The World Title match went on last at WMXXIV, which seemed a little odd given that the John Cena/Randy Orton/HHH rivalry highlighted in the WWE Title Triple Threat Match was built as a bigger talking point leading up to Mania. The Dead Man draws a lot of respect.
Taker’s entrance, which has grown to mythical proportions in the present day, was pretty much the biggest version of the “fire & druids” concept that you can do. There were lots of both. The World Champ countered with a lot of smoke. You also can’t say that Edge’s Alter Bridge theme wasn’t one of the best ever in wrestling.
I remember this match being pretty good, but rewatching, I couldn’t help but realize how amazing Edge was in the ring. His forced early retirement isn’t as much of a bummer as Daniel Bryan’s, but the guy was a great who went out on top of his game. That’s not to say The Undertaker was being carried – there’s a reason Taker has become THE staple of Wrestlemania for the past 25 years.
I think at this point, Undertaker winning WM matches had become a given, so not many people gave Edge high odds of walking out with that belt. But boy did he pull some close calls to make you believe you were wrong. Edge seemed to have an answer for all of Taker’s “vintage” offense, including not one but TWO counters for Taker’s “old school”. At one point, Edge even countered a Last Ride attempt into a leg submission maneuver. This match is definitely one to see for workrate fans.
That’s not to say that Undertaker always came up short. He did finally hit a nasty Last Ride, and also got off his successful once-a-year suicide dive. You can say that move has become old hat, but seeing a 7-foot guy launch himself over the ropes like that is never not impressive.
After Taker nearly finished Edge off with a tombstone, the finish of the match started when the ref took a bump (JENGA) to the outside, which brought out Ryder & Hawkins. The Edgeheads didn’t get to inflict any damage, though, as Taker just chokeslammed Ryder from the apron right onto Hawkins on the outside. There’s your Wrestlemania Main Event Zack Ryder. The interference did distract UT long enough for Edge to set up a spear, though. That one wasn’t enough, so Edge lined up for a second spear, which he hit perfectly. It also set Edge up perfectly for Taker to lock on his Hell’s Gate submission, which looked pretty ingenious. Tap-out, new champ, 16-0.
Taker posed in the ring, the Streak still safe. Fireworks went off and it was an awesome close to Wrestlemania. Unless you were in the section where the firework went rogue and exploded. The news the next day that was 45 fans suffered minor burns after the pyro incident. I hope they didn’t settle for free t-shirts and at least got tickets to Raw the next night.
In all, it was a pretty awesome closer. Edge kind of flipped the script on the typical Undertaker match and showed that he had an answer for everything that Taker could dish out. It was Edge’s first and only time closing the show at Wrestlemania, but you can’t say he didn’t make an impact while he had the chance.
Probably not going to make anyone’s Top 10 list, but I’d easily recommend this one for any wrestling fan, and as a bonus, it’s one of the best Undertaker Mania matches that’s not against Shawn Michaels. If you’re only going to watch one match from WMXXIV, it has to be Flair/HBK, but give this one a chance if you have the time. In fact, watch the whole show. It delivers top to bottom.
I hope you enjoyed this look back at WMXXIV. Next, we’ll take a look at the time the WWF took its celebrity WM involvement to the next level.
Final Score: 8.0 (Recommended)