Friday, May 27, 2022
HomeSportsBoxingWrestleMania XXIV: And We Never Saw Flair Again

WrestleMania XXIV: And We Never Saw Flair Again

-It had been 15 years, but WWE had to get back on the horse and have an outdoor PPV again. Following the debacle that WrestleMania IX, I know that it had to be tough to repress the memories of bad matches and a horrid appeasement of Hulk Hogan’s ego. So here we are, at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL, on March 30, 2008. After years of watching TNA, I had no idea that more than 900 people were allowed to attend wrestling events in the city.

-So after JBL went back to being an active wrestler, our teams became Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler (Raw), Michael Cole and Jonathan Coachman (Smackdown), and Joey Styles and Tazz (ECW). The Smackdown team has the most legit news experience by far, yet want to be hung by their Adam’s apples for atrocities committed on headset, courtesy of the smark community. From this, I can infer that smarks hate news people.

-Kane won a 24 man battle royal before the show to earn a shot at the ECW Championship on this show. I still wish Val Venis had gone to the brand with him to form my dream team: “The Libertarian Extremists”. They could hold Tea Party protests over administrational tyranny and everything. They’d have my support.

-John Legend performs the America the Beautiful. When watching the show with my viewing party, I believe my exact reaction was “Oh, so that’s what he looks like.”

-The show opens with a “Belfast Brawl”, which I believe is actually a hardcore match, aka extreme rules match aka no holds barred match aka street fight. In other words, you can use weapons with total impunity to settle your blood feud, but just don’t aim for the head. Anyway, Finlay’s taking on JBL in this contest, which was centered around one of the most bizarre and non-sensical storylines in the annals of WWE history. I don’t even think I wish to recount it.

-Or maybe I do.

-Long story short, Vince found out that he had an illegitimate child in a case where the mother never revealed herself. The son was revealed in a convoluted game of process of elimination to be Hornswoggle. So Vince was dismayed, as you might expect, but eventually, Finlay kept coming out to save the little bugger from certain harm that Vince would create for him. Some “deal” between Finlay and Vince was tossed around, albeit vaguely. Finally, JBL somehow has this inside knowledge and he reveals that Finlay is Hornswoggle’s actual father. How he acquired such knowledge is anyone’s guess, but this led to a match between Finlay and JBL for this event.


-JBL attacks early and manages to hit Finlay with a trash can that the Irishman threw into the ring. He hit em in the head, but hey, we can ignore that for the sake of a Senate run.

[adinserter block=”1″]-After reversing a piledriver, Finlay wallops JBL with a cookie sheet. Anyone have any earthly idea how cookie sheets get under the ring in the first place? Maybe if they had those old five minute intermissions in mid show and they’d serve some Toll House cookies to the announcers, that’d be one thing. As it is, makes no sense.

-Just to exacerbate the horrible story arc, here comes Hornswoggle with a kendo stick. Sure enough, he hits JBL with it. Anyone who’s ever taken comedic pleasure in the mere sight of a midget should be hanged. Because of you, we have moments like this.

-Finlay attempts a suicide dive, but JBL smashes him with a trash can in mid air. It’s important to keep in mind that both men are north of forty years of age. Just wanted to note that.

-JBL throws a trash can hard onto a prone Hornswoggle on the floor, thus earning him the official ranking of “Jesus Christ Almighty” in my book. Thank you, John. I will never mock your man-boobs ever again.

-After whacking Finlay’s legs with the kendo stick, JBL lands the Clothesline from Hell for the win. If you take out the horrid angle and the involvement of a freaking leprechaun, then you’re left with a rather decent brawl. JBL and Finlay have known each other for years going back to their alliance in the CWA in Germany, so it makes sense that they’d have some chemistry. Good Belfast Brawl or hardcore match or street fight or whatever it was….

-Backstage, Mr. Kennedy has words with guest hostess Kim Kardashian. Ah, Kim. There’s a potential Raw host I could get behind. And I’d support her bid to host as well.

-Up next, we have the fourth annual Money in the Bank ladder match, featuring seven participants. That’s because Jeff Hardy decided to be El Violator de Wellness and get him excised from the match. So while Jeff’s at home living for the moment, we’re left with Chris Jericho, CM Punk, MVP, Mr. Kennedy, John Morrison, Shelton Benjamin, and Carlito. All in all, a pretty stellar cast.

-MVP manages to come into possession of a ladder early, and uses it to ward off the other opponents like some blinged out pong paddle. I take pride in knowing that I’m first person to ever type those four words in that order. Unfortunately for Mr. Porter, Jericho gets a bigger ladder and phallically out-duels him. So much for that.

-Jericho tries to put Kennedy in the Walls, but ends up slingshotting him onto the ladder, allowing last year’s winner to try and climb. However, Morrison and Benjamin end up joining him near the apex and it leads to a tower of doom sunset superplex spot. Not wasting time, I see.

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-Shelton tries to top his usual insanity by springboarding to an empty ladder, but slips off without anyone to counter balance it. You mean WWE can’t find ANYTHING for Shelton to do? Really?

-Punk nails Benjamin with the GTS. Well, they found something for him. Unfortunately, it’s a role as “guinea pig for other guys’ finishers”. Well, it’s something.

-Shelton gives it one last go, but is dumped off the ladder, flipping through a table bridge at ringside in a truly scary spot. How scary? Carlito couldn’t hide the look of horror on his face, even though he’s one of the guys who pushed the ladder. Amazing.

-Jericho, Carlito, and Kennedy all make a run for the contract, but MVP dumps them all. Then MVP eats a ladder to the face from Morrison.

-Jericho, Carlito, and Kennedy again find themselves up on the ladders, with Punk as well, but all of them end up crashing, leaving MVP as the last man standing. He goes to climb with no one in sight to stop him, until Matt Hardy jumps the rail and asks us to buy his brother’s DVD to help pay his legal costs. No, sorry, he takes MVP out with a Twist of Fate. My only question: why is Matt in the audience without a shirt on?

-Two ladders get wedged together and Jericho drops Carlito onto the contraption, causing it to project one ladder vertically. Morrison tries climbing this oddly-positioned ladder, but gets pushed off and crotched on the top rope. Ouch.

-Carlito and Kennedy wipe out, leaving a finale between Jericho and Punk. They meet at the top and Jericho gets the upper hand, but Punk pulls Jericho’s leg through and hangs him out, leaving CM Punk to pull down the briefcase and earn the contract. Good stunt show featuring some really innovative stuff, especially Morrison’s climb up the doubled ladder. Plus, it pushed Punk up the ladder (pun intended) to becoming a featured player, which helped lead him to where he is today. What more can you ask for?

-The Hall of Fame Class of 2008 is introduced by Howard Finkel (#24!): The Briscos, Gordon Solie, Rocky Johnson, Peter Maivia, Eddie Graham, Mae Young, and Ric Flair, who is represented by his family. Moments after this recognition took place, Reid and Ashley were arrested for beating up Megan, and Ric was disappointed in David for being David.

-Backstage, Snoop Dogg, Festus, and Santino Marella ham it up. Maybe Snoop’s part of the reason why Luke Gallows got so messed up. Punk should rail against Snoop next.

-Teddy Long and William Regal provide the intros for the next match between Batista and Umaga, which is the “Battle for Brand Supremacy”. Man, when you can’t come up with a solid angle for Batista to work within, you must not have your priorities in order.

-Yes, Regal does call Umaga “Youmanga”. That will never get old, even if the guy is dead.

-Slow paced hoss fight with no story at all, and the crowd is all over Batista for some reason. Seriously, Umaga nails him in the throat at one point and the fans all cheered.

-Boo. Yay. Boo. Yay. The punch sequence we’ve all grown to love, except Umaga’s getting the yays. It’s like Hogan vs. Rock, but without the intrigue and imagination-capturing fun.

-Umaga has the Samoan Spike blocked, and Batista goes into the final sequence, botching the Batista Bomb en route to victory. Not good at all, and uncharacteristically stale for two pretty good brawlers. Batista would recover from this and Umaga….well, unfortunately, not so much. Last Mania match for the big man, who is sorely missed.

-JR and Lawler give us the tale of the tape for the Mayweather-Show fight. They should have included Show’s WrestleMania record, just for a laugh.

-Highlights of Kane winning the battle royal, thus dampening my spirits as I was pulling for Snitsky. Truth told, I was hoping that “bad teeth” Snitsky was a ploy to bring Isaac Yankem back through Kane, and create the most epic feud in the history of civilization. Sadly, the moment was wasted.

-So here’s Armando Estrada to do ring intros for the ECW Title match, and he’s wearing arguably the greatest hat in the world. Why not just make HIM Raw GM? He’s Cuban/Palestinian Slick!

-So here’s Chavo Guerrero to defend the title….and it’s over. Yep. Not even fifteen seconds and Kane chokeslams him to Hell for the gold. I wish Kane had been in the original ECW, just so he could set people on fire with more gusto. The match didn’t suck because, well, it wasn’t a match.

-Raven Symone promotes her Make a Wish charity to grant wishes for 50 kids in 50 states. WWE was so touched by the humanity on display, that they totally forgot to send Michelle McCool and Layla out there to call her fat.

-Shawn-Flair highlights to build up this historic match, and Mike Adamle gets Ric’s final thoughts. To Hell with Adamle, we should have Peter Vescey doing interviews. He could ask “So, are you retiring at age 59 because you finally have your finances in order and aren’t evading your taxes anymore?”. It’s a burning question, I think.

-Before we go any further, I’d like to state for the record that I, in fact, don’t have the same level of invested emotion in this match as many other fans do. Those who still love Ric Flair and voted this as match of the year for 2008 over, say, Shawn’s match with Chris Jericho at No Mercy, were free to have done so. However, given that I believe that Flair is a sycophantic lush who blew all of his money and sucks up to his current employer just to keep his remaining assets safe, I could not wait to see Ric go. What follows is a really good match, but I shed no tears over Flair’s departure.

-Anywho, it’s Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels in a match where Flair has to retire if he loses. Former WWE writer Seth Mates was right: they should have done it the opposite way. Have Flair lose to undercard guys like MVP and Kennedy, etc, with the edict being that Flair can’t retire until he WINS a match. In order to go out on top, Flair has to put on the performance of his life against Shawn, whom he tells not to lay down. Flair ends up beating Shawn in a possible classic, and then rides off into the sunset. Works better, I think.

-Technical exchange to start and Flair lands a hip toss, followed by his Flair strut. Flair’s not going down easily. The Internal Revenue Service learned this.

-Hey look, a chop fest between two men that Bret Hart doesn’t like, and they’re doing his least favorite move back and forth. If Bret goes to Hell, this move will be on loop for all eternity.

-Hey look, Flair hit a top rope move. It’s a cross body on Shawn, and cross bodies are played out, but hey. Better late than never for Naitch.

-Then we get a moment that’ll make ya cringe: Shawn attempts a moonsault to the floor with Flair in his path, and Shawn kinda gets em, but also slams his ribcage on the commentary table. It looked a lot worse than it would end up being, but geez. Flair shoulda just pinned him in a shoot and said “Ha ha, Vince still has to pay me! I’m out of debt forever!”. Just because.

-The match seesaws from here, which is fine because you can’t really have a heat segment for this kind of match if Flair’s going out, and I get that. So you have a game of one-upsmanship which I’m sure Michaels and Flair are willing play, since they’re buddies and all.

-Figure Four locked on, but Shawn gets to the ropes. As much as I disliked Flair here, I was enjoying the drama.

-Pinfall reversals and Flair gets a second Figure Four. C’mon, Shawn, tap out, his finances depend on this. Crap, Shawn gets the ropes. Oh well, maybe next time.

-Shawn lands the SCM, but a slow cover gets only a 2. Shawn tries another, but Flair goes low, since it’s one of the few moves he can execute now without giving himself a hernia. I have to admit, dramatic as it is, two years removed it, it’s just looking like any other match.

-Finally, the well known ending, where Shawn gets a second SCM, but is hesitant to cover. Finally, Flair tells him to bring it, and Shawn mouths the “I’m sorry….I love you” comment, before landing the third Sweet Chin Music to win and end Flair’s career. Shawn hugs the unconscious Flair and kisses him in a nice moment, before leaving him to have his spotlight. Flair embraces his kids at ringside, whom are all crying (“Crap, Dad’s going to be home more!”) and Flair leaves to a thunderous ovation. If you love Flair, then this was your Graceland. If you’re like me and you think he’s a scumbag, then it was merely a “really good match”.

-Goodbye, Ric. It’s a shame that we’ll never see you wrestle another match, since you’re a man of your word.

-Edge assures us that tonight, the fans will leave disappointed. Shoulda waited till next year to use that line, Mr. Copeland.

-Snoop Dogg is the guest emcee for the LumberJills Playboy Challenge Gala Thingie-ma-bobber. Beth Phoenix and Melina vs. Maria and Ashley while Mickie James gets to watch from ringside again. Lucky her.

-Mmm….Maryse and Layla dancing up on each other on the way out. Victoria dancing….well, not so much.

-And here’s a highlight: the lights went out during the match. And there’s your highlight. Thanks for taking interest in the match!

-Anyway, Santino Marella interferes on behalf of the heels and Beth pins Maria with her Fisherman’s Buster. Then Snoop takes out Santino and makes out with Maria. When you have 15 women out there and you’re just happy to see Santino Marella, there’s a good chance that WWE didn’t pique your sexual interest properly. Match was lame, as you’d expect.

-Hype for the triple threat WWE Title match. The viewing party was torn: one half hated Cena, the other half hated Triple H. Regardless, we received our Randy Orton Fan Cards in the mail days before, so our allegiance was set.

-Randy Orton vs. Triple H vs. John Cena was indeed next, and Cena’s special entrance is a college marching band playing his theme. I’ll admit, this is probably my favorite of the collection. How would the marching band play a theme like Isaac Yankem’s though?

-Cena tries to end it with the FU early on Orton, but HHH goes low on him to put a stop to that. Then HHH and Orton hit a cross body version of the Doomsday Device on Cena. Well, Hunter hates doing jobs, so that WOULD make him Animal. And they’re both related to Johnny Ace, either by blood or….I’ll just stop right there.

-Orton drops Cena and HHH with a dual rope-assist DDT. I really can’t believe I wasn’t an Orton fan sooner. If you get past his real life aggressive behavior, is there any heel that’s so perfectly slimy like Randy Orton has been? Even Jericho’s too likeable as a weasel. Orton just has the right amount of gusto for his character.

-HHH begins to work Orton’s knee, because the match could use a story other than “three muscleheads beating each other up in shifts”. Good call.

-Orton manages an RKO on Hunter, which knocks him to the outside. Cena gets the STFU on Orton, but Hunter pulls the pile to the ropes. Clever spot. Basically, the match turns into HHH and Cena taking turns wearing Orton out while disrupting the other man’s attempts to win. Makes you forget that Orton has a chance.

-Cena with another STFU on Orton, and Hunter locks Cena in the Voldemort Crossface. There’s a good way to wake the crowd up, imitate a disgraced murderer. Of course, Triple H is the smartest man in the business, you know.

-Hunter avoids the FU and Pedigrees Cena, but Orton comes flying in out of nowhere to Punt Trips’ head into the third row. With Hunter incapacitated, Orton covers Cena to win and to retain the title. It was a really good match, and my friends and I actually marked out like idiots when Orton actually won. And really, isn’t that what matters?

-Hype video for Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather. I believe the original concept for the match, before Rey Mysterio got hurt, was to have Mysterio and Oscar de la Hoya face MVP and Mayweather, which would have been far more interesting. At least, that’s what a couple of outlets revealed, so take it with a grain of salt. Poor Big Show. He’s always the consolation prize that nobody wanted.

-Mayweather’s entourage consists of about 8 large men and a promoter who looks like MVP if MVP went on the Kirstie Alley diet. Those sixty pounds that Show lost during his layoff had to go somewhere, geez.

-What follows is incredibly worked stuff, since Mayweather has to sustain as little damage as possible. Being an active boxer who draws millions of dollars on PPV, it would behoove you to work as light as you can. With the crowd kinda lukewarm on Mayweather, who doesn’t exactly have the most endearing personality, the fans seem lost.

-Show dominates for a few minutes and the entourage tries pulling Mayweather to safety. So Show lays out the crew and brings Mayweather back. Fans still have no idea who the face is here. Neither do I.

-After the crew helps Floyd avoid the chokeslam, Mayweather takes Show down with some chair shots, and then knocks him out with a pair of brass knux. Show cannot answer a ten count, so Mayweather is declared the winner. Weird spectacle of a match that wasn’t boring, but it was just badly booked. At least the Vince-Trump saga from one year earlier had a good story to it, with the characters better defined. This was just there.

-Kim Kardashian announces the attendance at 74,635. That’s also the number of things I’d love to do with her. Oh, don’t give me that look, you’re in the same boat with me.

[adinserter block=”2″]-Undertaker-Edge highlight package. At this point, it was a bit uncomfortable watching Vickie Guerrero play a heel who was so sickeningly intimate with Edge, given that her husband, a hero to many, had just died two years before. At the same time, I feel like WWE has to go over the line when trying to get heels over, because there’s too many heels like Jericho, Punk, and others who the fans cheer and admire so much that it’s hard to get the vehement hatred that they desire. So, on the one hand, I understand using Vickie to cement Edge as a heel that you hate with all your heart. On the other hand, just….ugh.

-It’s funny how Teddy Long keeps getting reduced to minor roles, like “guy who pushes Vickie’s wheelchair”, when he’s possibly one of the top two or three most charismatic authority figures that WWE’s ever had. Between doing menial tasks, making weird deals (MVP’s contract when he debuted, for one), and relying on The Undertaker to be his main enforcer, has any authority figure been as misused as Teddy?

-I’m done being a bitterhead, I swear.

-Stand up brawl to kick things off, with Taker getting the better of it. There’s a good litmus test for main eventers. If you can’t have a decent brawl with Undertaker, then you’re probably not going to make it far in the company. Just saying.

-Taker tumbles to the outside after hitting a running knee into the corner, and the tide turns. Edge goes outside and slams Taker into the apron. Inside, Edge lands a beautiful neckbreaker, and the Dead Man falls back to the floor. Good build so far, but they have their work cut out for them after the Mayweather-Show debacle.

-Edge is knocked off the buckles, and Taker lands his super dive onto him. Finally, the fans are coming around.

-Meanwhile, Taker can’t hit the Last Ride due to back pains, and Edge takes him outside, slamming him into the rail with a back suplex. Even then, I don’t think any of us thought the streak was in jeopardy, even though Edge is that good of a heel.

-Edge works the leg to little avail, and Taker comes out of it with Snake Eyes, but runs into a dropkick on the rebound strike attempt. Taker tries a chokeslam, but Edge lands the Edgecution for 2. The two take turns countering moves, and it ends with Taker attempting Old School, only to get crotched. Edge lands a superplex for another 2 count. Good stuff.

-How often does someone outright kick out of the Last Ride? Edge just did. Then the champion counters the Tombstone attempt with the Edge-o-matic for 2. Nope. Still not buying the streak being in jeopardy.

-Taker misses a big boot attempt and takes out the ref. I’ll bet there’s going to be run-ins and/or chicanery. What do you think?

-Sure enough, Taker lands the Tombstone with no referee, and here comes Charles Robinson sprinting 165 MPH to the ring, but it’s only a 2 count. THAT was awesome.

-The Edgeheads of Curt Hawkins and Zack “WOO WOO WOO” Ryder hit the ring, but Taker takes them out easily. However, Edge manages a couple of Spears, but soon falls victim to Hell’s Gate, and submits after a struggle to give Taker his sixth World Title. Really good match, but the Smackdown matches seem to suffer compared to Raw in terms of telling the story, since Monday night is the “wrestling night”. I barely remembered the issue between the two men and I follow wrestling very closely. Even then, I still think the match was better quality than Michaels/Flair.

-Chili Peppers, Rev Theory, play us out.

-CYNIC SAYS: Kind of a weird show, but it wasn’t terrible. You had 4 matches to hang your hat on, but there was a share of crap as well. Finlay and JBL was the only “middle ground” match, so other than that, either it was really good, or it was really bad.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at and He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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Justin Henry
Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at and He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.


  1. I really miss outdoor wrestling events. The old NWA used to have them all the time in the 80's (the Great American Bash). I loved the WCW Nitros that were outdoors too (from Disney-MGM). Now it seems like we get one a decade.


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