How can I put into words how awesome Ric Flair is? I mean, he’s the best of all time.
Shawn Michaels is pretty much the greatest “big match” wrestler of all time. Ric Flair, however, is the total package. In the ’80s, there was no one better. I don’t think anyone can touch him, promo wise. He exuded charisma from the moment he appeared on the screen. Even today, where he’s downright belligerent and no one really trusts him to talk for long periods of time, he’s still damn awesome, deserving to be the only person inducted twice into the Hall of Fame. He’s that good, and no one on planet Earth can even touch him. Like I said, in big match situations Shawn Michaels, almost always pulls it off flawlessly. But, there’s only one Ric Flair. He’ll stand the test of time 100 years from now as one of the best there has ever been.
After a forgettable run on Smackdown, Flair returned to Raw to announce that he’d never retire. Vince McMahon, always evil, came out and told him in fact yes, you will retire when you lose your next match. So Ric Flair proceeded to not lose for the next few months. He picked up wins against the likes of Orton and MVP. But his most interesting match up came to be at Wrestlemania when he and Shawn went at it. Shawn said that even though they were friends, he’d take him out just like they had to take out Old Yeller. Flair, incensed, attacked Shawn, but HBK didn’t retaliate, instead leaving it for Wrestlemania.
John Legend (who just won an Oscar!) came out and performed America the Beautiful this year.
Belfast Brawl – JBL vs. Finlay: I didn’t like this last JBL run. At least before, he was a somewhat fun heel. Now he’s just a mean heel who beat up midgets. This, by the way, was the culmination of the Hornswoggle/Vince McMahon father storyline. Do you need me to go into detail how stupid and nonsensical it was? They, in fact, brawled around the ring to start things off. Hornswoggle got a way better reaction than I thought he would, but I guess maybe because it’s the opener. They used a bunch of metal weapons that make fun sounds. Hornswoggle got in the way and JBL laid him out, causing Finlay to beat him up around the ring again. Finlay actually launches off with a suicide dive but JBL smacks him with a trash can lid, then throws the can at Hornswoggle for good measure. Finlay comes back and sends JBL into a table for a nearfall. JBL hits Finlay with a kendo stick then hits the clothesline from hell for the win. Decent brawl. ***
KIM KARDASHIAN WAS BACKSTAGE. What on Earth? She plugs the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Ken Kennedy came in and said he’d win it twice in a row. Hey, she seemed happy to be there, at least.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match – John Morrison, Carlito, Shelton Benjamin, CM Punk, Ken Kennedy, MVP and Chris Jericho: MVP was the first one to introduce the ladder as he started to beat everyone up. Morrison grabs a ladder and hits a huge moonsault..that didn’t look like it connected at all. Oops. Big spot where Shelton sunset flips Kennedy while the latter is suplexing Morrison. Shelton ends up taking a huge bump off the ladder to another ladder that impacts his landing on the floor. A bunch of guys get on top of both ladders, but MVP is the victor here, taking everyone out…until a returning Matt Hardy, his former tag team partner, comes in and lays him out with a twist of fate on top of the ladder. Morrison took a scary bump falling off the ladder to the floor. Carlito spits apple on someone to take them out, then Kennedy takes out Carlito but Punk fires back with some ladder shots. Its down to Punk and Jericho. Jericho takes down Punk, but Punk grabs his legs and Jericho’s leg ends up getting wrapped around the ladder. Punk climbs back up and grabs the briefcase, winning the match. ****
John Cena, Triple H and Randy Orton are all shown backstage, looking mean.
Gordon Solie, The Briscos, Mae Young, Mike Graham, Rocky Johnson, Peter Maivia, and Ric Flair are all inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Todd Grisham interviews SNOOP DOGG. He says it’s great to be here, and he’s met someone who shares the same interests that he does. It’s Festus, of course. Santino comes in and starts whining about something when Snoop suddenly has a bell, and rings it. Festus becomes enraged and chases Santino away. Then Mick Foley comes in and says have a nice dizzle.
Battle for Brand Supremacy – Batista (Smackdown) vs. Umaga (Raw): I completely forgot this match existed. Batista got a cool fireworks display since they’re outdoors for the first time since Wrestlemania 9. Awesome spectacle live. Umaga laid waste to him from the get go, including kicking him off the apron and to the floor. Lots of NERVE HOLDS. Batista tries some offense but Umaga is on his case, grabbing him and going for the samoan spike but Batista powers out, pushes Umaga to the corner and hits the Batista bomb (that’s kinda botched) for the win. So Smackdown is the best brand of all time ever. Tonight, anyway. **3/4
They showed highlights from the preshow battle royal, with a winner getting a ECW title shot later on in the night. Kane won, last eliminating Mark Henry.
ECW Championship – Chavo Guerrero (c) vs. Kane: Kane came through the crowd, chokeslammed him, and pinned him. ECDUB, ECDUB. NR
The dumbest commercial ever aired. It was for Wrestlemania 24, the show we are all watching right at this very minute. Maria and Carlito were talking. Carlito kept saying these seagulls were stupid. So the seagulls attacked him, including biting him on the nipple. Then the seagulls pooped on him. You knew Vince roared with laughter over this one.
Raven Symone came out and talked about Make a Wish kids, having 50 kids from 50 states here tonight, then showed them in the crowd. That’s pretty nice.
Career Threatening Match – Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels: Big fireworks displays for everyone again. They do some mat wrestling early. Ric gets Shawn to the corner and berates him about the Old Yeller comment. Shawn responds by slapping him. Ric Flair tastes his blood and they go at it. Huge back and forth chop battle. Shawn takes Flair to the outside and tries a moonsault but with full force avoids Flair and lands right on top of the table, crushing it. Geez. More back and forth. Shawn unleashes another moonsault to the outside, this time catching Flair. He tries to superkick him, but stops, not wanting to end Flair’s career. Flair takes him down and locks in the figure four instead. Shawn manages to reverse, but Flair gets to the ropes. Flair tries to pin Shawn then bridge back up but the bridge fails. Flair was 59 at the time and tried to do moves he was famous for back in the 80s, but sadly the hands of time would not go back. Flair comes back with another figure four. Michaels escapes. Flair walks over to Shawn but eats a superkick but Flair kicks out. Shawn walks back to the corner and yells at Flair to get it. He goes to get him up but Flair grabs the ref and distracts him long enough to low blow Shawn. Shawn gets an inverted figure four in but Flair escapes. Flair and Shawn are on their knees as Flair starts chopping him, but when they get to their feet Shawn superkicks him. He goes to the corner, but is still hesitant to finish it. Flair gets up and tells him to finish it. Shawn, reluctant, mouths “I’m sorry, I love you” then superkicks Flair into retirement. ***1/2
Flair, emotional, rolls out of the ring and hugs his family. Huge ovation for Flair as he heads his way to the back. There will never be another.
Todd Grisham interviews Edge. He says that he remembers being at Wrestlemania 6 all those years ago and was rooting for Hulk Hogan. But then, Hulk Hogan proceeded to lose. That day, he said, he lost his innocence. Everyone wants to believe that the Undertaker will save the day and retain his streak. But tonight, he says, he hopes that a kid like him will be in the audience tonight. Because just like what happened to him all those years ago, his innocence will he lost as well when he beats the Undertaker. Great promo.
There was some sort of halftime here that was cut out of the WWE Network version of the show.
Snoop Dogg comes out with the diva lumberjills in a pimped out golf cart for the next match.
Lumberjill Match – Ashley & Maria vs. Melina & Beth Phoenix: Beth starts out by overpowering Ashley. Maria is tagged in and dishes out a bronco buster. Ashley comes in and hits a hurricanrana. She tries a facebuster off the top rope but it doesn’t work. They end up getting the heat on Ashley, with everything looking pretty clumsy. The lights go out during the match, oops. Maria tries to pin Beth but it doesn’t work. Beth goes for her glam slam but Maria counters into a bulldog. Ashley hits a crossbody off the top to the floor as Maria hits a bulldog, but Maria breaks up the count. Suddenly, Jerry Lawler leaves the announce booth and punches out Santino. It doesn’t help Maria much, however, as Beth pins her after a fisherman’s suplex. *
Santino heads to the ring and gloats at Maria, but then Snoop Dogg comes in and takes him out with a clothesline. He then makes out with Maria as they all head to the back.
WWE Championship – Randy Orton (c) vs. John Cena vs. Triple H: Cena comes out to a full out marching band. Triple H gets fancy pyro. Orton blasts Triple H with the belt to start. Cena and Orton go at it until Triple H comes back with a sleeper. Cena lifts them both up (!) but Triple H escapes. Orton comes back and starts Garvin stomping everybody. He manages to take them both out with a draping DDT. Lots of back and forth stuff here. Cena gets Orton into the STF but Triple H helps him grab the ropes, then punches him. Indian death lock by Triple H on Orton. That’s such a cool move that needs to be used more. Cena hits the STF again but Triple H comes back and busts out a crossface. Keep in mind it hasn’t even been a year since the Benoit incident. That’s weird. Triple H and Cena continue to have a back and forth. Triple H takes out Orton and pedigrees Cena but Orton comes back with the punt kick and covers Cena to retain the championship. Really good back and forth match. ***3/4
Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather: Yes, one of the best PPV box office draws of all time was here at Wrestlemania. Makes total sense, and Floyd has the charisma to pull it off. Problem is they tried to make him the face, and if you have ever seen Mayweather cut a promo you know he’s not a face. Big Show, after being gone for a year, returned and they ended up instigating one another into a match here. Floyd tries to take him down with body shots but it’s not working. He opts to stall around and drink from a chalice. Show responds by punching out one of his guys. Floyd tries a sleeper but Big Show escapes and stomps on Mayweather’s hand. He takes him to the corner and slaps him as one of his guys repeatedly says “HE CAN’T DO THAT”. Well, he just did. Show follows with a big sidewalk slam and an elbow. Mayweather’s people take him out of the ring as they try to bail, but Show lays them all out and drags him back to the ring. Big Show tries a chokeslam, but Mayweather’s guys come back, only to be taken out again. Floyd tries to take out Big Show with a chair but Big Show comes back, but eventually falls to some more shots. He grabs some brass knuckles then punches Big Show out. Referee counts to ten, and Floyd is declared the victor. Well booked, which it needs to be in this situation. **1/2
World Heavyweight Championship – Edge (c) vs. The Undertaker: Edge motioned for Vickie Guerrero to come out and she, in a wheelchair, and out and they made out. Edge shoves Undertaker at the bell and and they exchange some back and forth. Undertaker hits a huge splash that sends him out of the ring, then Edge capitalizes by spearing him off the apron and into the barricade. Undertaker comes back and throws Edge off the top rope to the floor, then follows with his yearly big over the top rope dive that wipes out Edge. Edge comes back and takes out Undertaker on the outside and throws him back first into the barricade. Undertaker makes it back in and soon there’s a huge back and forth striking contest. Undertaker scores a chokeslam, but only gets a nearfall. Edge crotches him on the ropes when he tries for old school and climbs to the top rope and lands a big superplex. Edge mounts him in the corner with punches, but Undertaker counters with a last ride, only for Edge to slide out and hit a neckbreaker. Another attempt finally connects. Edge kicks out, and manages to hit a reverse DDT after Undertaker accidently hits the ref. Edge taunts Undertaker, who grabs his throat, but Edge low blows him. He goes to the outside and grabs a camera and proceeds to smack Undertaker with it. Undertaker rises up, which leaves Edge incensed. He actually tries the tombstone, but that never works as Undertaker reverses with one of his own. Charles Robinson SPRINTS to the outside and counts, but Edge kicks out. This causes Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder to come out and interfere, but Undertaker grabs one of them and chokeslams him into the other one. Distracted, Undertaker walks into a spear but KICKS OUT. Edge is stunned. He goes to the corner and hits another spear, but Undertaker grabs him and locks in the gogoplata, or as Michael Cole refers to it as, “that submission maneuver”. Edge has no other alternative but to tap out, securing the title to the Undertaker. ****1/4
Undertaker does his pose as fireworks and pyro emerge all around the arena to close out the show.
Final Thoughts: A great show. There’s tons of great matches here, including the two title matches and the Money in the Bank, but everyone will remember the Flair match. The Mayweather stuff was fine, and I get why they did it, but the Flair moments overshadowed the star boxer. Regardless, a very memorable event.