WrestleMania XXIV: Raised the Bar and Set the Tone for the New Era of WWE
WrestleMania XXIV in many ways was the end of an era and the beginning of another. While it was the second WrestleMania to be held outdoors, it was the first to accurately capture the atmosphere that an outdoor crowd provides. After all, there’s a reason WrestleMania IX is not featured in this competition. It sucked.
Ric Flair, perhaps the greatest wrestler of all time, brought his career to an end by delivering a stellar match against Shawn Michaels. Flair might have come out retirement, but there’s little he can do in the Impact Zone that will take away from his finale on the grandest stage of all.
If there wasn’t a tear in your eyes when Shawn Michaels mouthed, "I’m sorry, I love you" to Flair before ending his career with the Sweet Chin Music, you might not be a wrestling fan. Certainly not a very good one.
Remember when the Undertaker had matches at WrestleMania that were not just about his Streak? The Streak, after all, needed to be built up before it could be bragged about. WrestleMania XXIV gave us one final title match featuring The Undertaker. And it was one for the ages.
As great as The Undertaker’s matches were with HBK, there’s something to be said about a good old title match featuring the Deadman going 20 minutes with Edge before locking in the Hell's Gate on WWE’s biggest heel at the time.
Undertaker did not have a gold belt to hold above his head after beating HBK. Call me old-fashioned, but that’s the picture I like to see when Taker adds to his Streak.
WrestleMania XXIV will also forever be remembered as the day CM Punk arrived in the main event. He wouldn’t cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase for a few more months, but the Straight Edge Savior proved that he was ready to move on from ECW into the limelight.
Celebrity involvement in WWE events is usually a disaster. Drew Carey in the Hall of Fame? Most guest hosts? Mayweather vs. Big Show was not a match for the ages, but that’s to be expected out of celebrity matches.
It succeeded in what it set out to do. It got WM some mainstream publicity that had been lacking ever since the days of Stone Cold and The Rock. Remember, Cena wasn’t exactly Mr. WWE just yet. And the match didn’t suck, either.
It can be hard to take a step back and analyze a match featuring Randy Orton, Triple H and John Cena these days. It is one that has been repeated far too many times. But back then, it was not a run-of-the-mill match.
There were a lot of doubts as to whether Cena would be able to compete as he was coming off a big injury. While he did not capture the gold, Cena looked better in defeat than he has before and likely ever will.
The fact that Cena put on a great match without winning speaks to the power of WrestleMania XXIV. There are not a lot of people who can put Superman on his ass without a shoot ending. Watching that felt pretty damn good.
Was WrestleMania 24 the greatest WrestleMania of all time? Definitely. The card from top to bottom was filled with past, present and future legends who walked down the Citrus Bowl ramp.
We look at the top dogs in the WWE now. What do they all have in common? They all kicked ass at WrestleMania 24, even if they did not walk out with a pinfall.
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