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   Sun, March 30, 2008



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Countdown to WrestleMania XXIV
By SLAM! Wrestling Staff
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Do we really need an introduction here? I mean, this is WrestleMania XXIV - the latest edition of the grandaddy of them all. For many wrestling fans, this is the only pay-per-view they buy in a 12-month cycle.

No my friends, there's no need to hype this one. We know the matches, we know the attractions. Let's get straight to the card.


TRIPLE THREAT WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

Triple H vs. John Cena vs. Randy Orton


SLAM! Predictions

Jon Waldman

Over the last number of years, probably since the beginning of my tenure with SLAM!, I've ridden Trippy pretty hard and given reasons why he doesn't deserve the title. Well, now he does. Don't think I'm going soft here folks, because that's far from the reality. Simply put though, Trippy is the right man to hold the belt now; not because he gets the loudest cheers, sells the most merch or draws the most money. Instead, it's because he's learned how to do business the right away. Here's your reward, my friend.

Jason Clevett

The past three times WWE has tried the multi-men championship bout have met with mixed results. Wrestlemania 2000 fell flat, Wrestlemania 22's match was far too short, and Wrestlemania 20 was amazing. From an in-ring standpoint I expect this one, if not measuring up to 20, will at least be fun to watch, and I honestly am not sure who will win, other than not Orton. Triple-H hasn't had a big WrestleMania finale celebration since 2002, so I will go with him.

Matt Mackinder

No Mercy notwithstanding, it’s been a while since Triple H last tasted gold. With him being so injury-prone, do you put the title on him and pray he doesn’t tear any more quad muscles? Does Orton keep the title? Does Cena win the title and get booed/cheered out of the building? Triple Threat matches always seem to be a cluster, but these three have decent chemistry in the ring and that should bode well. I've got HHH taking the title in a 30-minute main event.

Mark Xamin

Let's see. Orton has been the heel champ for months. Cena has been out for months nursing an injury and is scheduled to shoot a movie which will keep him off house shows for the next few months. Triple H hasn't won at WrestleMania since WM18 in Toronto. Triple H wins the title, guaranteed. Look for a Cena vs Triple H feud this summer.

Greg Oliver

Everyone and their mother seems to think that HHH is a lock to win this. Well, I am going to go out on a limb and say that John Cena wins the belt that he never actually lost. That's the go-home photo from WrestleMania 24. The only question is whether HHH has enough control of his ego to let Cena have his moment rather than another beatdown. I say yes.

Andy McNamara

The Game stated that "the king of kings will go back on his throne" and that is exactly what will happen. Hopefully Orton won't get lost in the shuffle following 'Mania because he is an excellent heel champ. This will be another strong main event with HHH pinning Orton to bring home the gold.

Bob Kapur

I like the triple threat dynamic for this match, since having a third person in there should allow for fast-paced action throughout (read: no extended Orton headlocks). After what should be a really good match, HHH will emerge as champ.

Tim Baines

Babyfaces traditionally win the main event. Tough to call. Orton keeps his title and a Triple H-Cena feud erupts.


 
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH

Edge vs. Undertaker
 

SLAM! Predictions

Jon Waldman

I think that of any match at 'Mania, this is the easiest to predict. Edge's "streak" has been downplayed, while 'Taker's is his lifeblood. I can't see Mark laying down now, especially when there's still at least one 'Mania left in him (next year vs. HBK, I'm predicting it now). UT wins, and Edge moves back to Raw as part of the Talent Exchange Program.

Jason Clevett

While the outcome is not in doubt, I am excited to see what Taker and Edge bring to the table for the match. While a clash of styles, technically, Undertaker has had great matches with such a wide variety of foes and I expect no different here. Both men will be out to steal the show, and 'Taker will have his third WrestleMania championship.

Matt Mackinder

I'm not sure this match will top last year’s ‘Taker-Batista epic, but it’ll be okay. The Edgeheads devalue Edge as a champion and his character and I hope they stay out of the match. Whoever comes out of this match as champ will have earned it. I don’t see Undertaker’s streak ending to a Canadian of all people, so let’s see Undertaker plant Edge with a Tombstone and then get him to tap with the triangle choke to get another title run.

Mark Xamin

I fully expect this to steal the show. Undertaker will win, but it will be his toughest 'Mania victory to date. Look for a lot of false finishes and possibly some blood, but 'Taker will walkout the new champ and enjoy a lengthy title run.

Greg Oliver

Edge is the greatest heel of his generation. Undertaker is a legend. This match has been a long time coming, and should be worth the wait. Sentiment and logic say that 'Taker keeps his winning streak at Mania alive, and sentiment and logic win this day.

Andy McNamara

I am really looking forward to this match as Undertaker and Edge have the potential for match of the night. After a long battle and some interference from The Edge Heads, it will be Taker left with his streak and the world title.

Bob Kapur

I've liked the buildup to this feud for the most part, especially the beatdown that Edge and his lackeys gave to 'Taker the other week.While Edge would be a great choice to end the streak, I don't think it will happen.

Tim Baines

The Undertaker's Wrestlemania winning streak of 15 is on the line. The Undertaker wins the title. Sorry Edge.


NO-DQ, MUST BE A WINNER MATCH*
Note: Stipulations were added after our writers made their predictions
Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather

SLAM! Predictions

Jon Waldman

Oh lord, where do I begin. How about the crappy booking? How about the unrealistic nature of this contest? How about the age-old "who's the face?" question? Do I need to go on folks? Look, I know this is designed to pop a buyrate, and kudos are to be offered for that. At the same time though, Show's return has been spoiled. It's times like these that you need a midcard guy like Bam Bam Bigelow to be in here who stands around the same as Mayweather. As is, nothing here is realistic. Show goes down, probably after all of Mayweather's lackies get involved.

Jason Clevett

I have zero interest in this match, but it has done well to generate mainstream buzz. Show should win, because it is unrealistic otherwise and Show is an actual roster member; but Mayweather will get it somehow.

Matt Mackinder

In the “I Don’t Care” segment, my guess is Mayweather busts out his tap shoes from Dancing With The Stars, knocks out Show and then does the Mambo on his head. Seriously, what is this match supposed to prove? Mayweather wins somehow.

Mark Xamin

I can't imagine that Floyd Mayweather would have agreed to work with the WWE if he wasn't guaranteed to come out on top. Money's got this all the way, but Big Show should be getting one hell of a bonus because chances are, his face is going to get rearranged.

Greg Oliver

WWE hasn't really even explained what kind of match it will be - boxing? Wrestling? A mix? Still, it'll take longer for everyone to get to the ring than the match itself. Mayweather gets the upper hand until Show loses his temper and gets DQ'd.

Andy McNamara

This could either be a complete disaster or extremely entertaining, no middle ground here. Both men have been played as tweeners, not quite babyface, not quite heel. I'm picking a DQ finish of some sort.

Bob Kapur

I can't see Mayweather losing cleanly, but nobody will buy it if he dominates Show. So look for a schmozz of some kind, with Mayweather somehow winning in controversial fashion.

Tim Baines

Boxer vs. wrestler. Tough finish to call. Easy out would be a double DQ. Would WWE risk having a 440-lb. monster lose to a 150-lb. boxer? No way.


  CAREER THREATENING MATCH

Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels
 

SLAM! Predictions

Jon Waldman

If it was me booking the show, Flair would cheat his way to victory and then sign the retirement papers on Monday. Since it's WWE though, they'll have Michaels beat Naitch at his own game. I'm envisioning a handful of tights a la WM 8 (hopefully with a lot less "Nature" hanging out).

Jason Clevett

This match that makes me wish I was in Orlando. As cliche as it is, Michaels has had more show-stopping WrestleMania performances than anyone, and with being in the ring with a hero he will pull out all the stops. This is a guy who got good matches out of ancient Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon, and he and Flair will pull off something special. My odds are on Flair going off into the sunset.

Matt Mackinder

Is this really the last hurrah for Flair? Watching him get in the ring each week, loose skin and all, makes me cringe, so let’s end this thing already. Flair leaves it all in the ring here and gets HBK to submit to the figure four. A standing ovation doesn’t do Flair justice and it’d be a nice touch to have the locker room empty to salute Naitch from the ramp.

Mark Xamin

Farewell, Nature Boy. The Showstopper will stop the show for Ric Flair, and the 16-time World champ will make his glorious exit on the grandest stage of them all. I'm really looking forward to this one because they'll be ultra-motivated to put on the performances of their lives. It's not onlyWrestleMania, it's Flair's last match.

Greg Oliver

Will it be the match of the night? It's a lot of pressure on a couple of guys who were at their best in the 1980s. I seriously smell a swerve here, with Flair getting the upset victory, and then announcing his actual retirement on Raw with the whole company feting him.

Andy McNamara

Both men will have their working boots on and will be out to steal the show. Flair deserves to go out with a classic battle and that's exactly what this will be. HBK ends The Nature Boy's career with some Sweet Chin Music.

Bob Kapur

Purely from an emotional standpoint, this is the Match of the Year. It will be a classic no matter what happens. Flair loses and bows out with class.

Tim Baines

If Flair loses, he must quit. The Nature Boy will be the sentimental favourite, but it seems likely he'll bow out with plenty of emotion. Thanks Naitch ... Woooooo!


 

MONEY IN THE BANK LADDER MATCH
Carlito vs. Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk vs. John Morrison vs. Ken Kennedy vs. MVP vs. Shelton Benjamin



SLAM! Predictions

Jon Waldman

WHAT YOU THINK
Who do you think will win the main event at WrestleMania 24?
Randy Orton - 10%
John Cena - 27%
Triple H - 63%
I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility that Matt Hardy comes in and steals the case, but then again he'll probably just cost MVP his chance. I'd like to see Punk with the case, but being champ just a few weeks ago really handicaps him. Instead, I'll put my money on Kennedy. I love the promos he's cut about cashing in the case at the end of the night, and I bet he will against HHH. Now how would THAT be for a 'Mania moment?

Jason Clevett

This was a no brainer, and even I was excited about the possibility of the winner cashing in his briefcase at the end of the night. Then the winner went and got himself suspended. So now, I honestly have no idea. Mr. Kennedy's push has gone down since he won last year, and while there is a lot of talent in this match, nobody is really at "Main Event Level." I will go with MVP (who should in fact be having his final blowoff with Matt Hardy at 'Mania, but what do I know?).

Matt Mackinder

One year, this match had six guys, then eight, and now seven. Great booking. Seven? Kennedy has been sagging lately, Punk is in the doghouse, MVP hasn’t defended his U.S. Title in I don’t know how long, Jericho’s I-C title won’t be defended at ‘Mania for like the ninth year in a row and Morrison is too feminine for my liking. That leaves Carlito and Benjamin. Give the win and monster push to Shelty B.

Mark Xamin

I'm going with the dark horse in this one - CM Punk. He's been my favorite wrestler since 2002, and word on the street is the WWE is looking to push someone who's marketable to kids since Jeff Hardy is suspended for some kind of substance abuse. With WWE in the spotlight, in a bad way, due to drugs and steroids and the like, what better guy to push than the Straight Edge Superstar? Punk wins and heads to either Raw or SmackDown! full time.


Greg Oliver

It's a funny use of your second tier champs; one would have thought that the Intercontinental and U.S. titles could have been defended at the biggest show of the year. (Oh wait, no tag titles either...) Since so many faces will already be going over, I think this one has to be a heel win. I'm going to go with MVP as the dark horse winner, with Mr. Kennedy as the backup, since he never got to cash in last year.

Andy McNamara

Always a crowd favourite, this will determine who the company puts the push rocket pack on. Although I believe CM Punk or Jericho should get it, I'm thinking Kennedy wins it again.

Bob Kapur

With the removal of Jeff Hardy from this one, it's really anybody's ball game. I'm going to pick CM Punk - he's due for bigger and better things, I think.

Tim Baines

Y2J is a personal favourite, but my instincts say the winner is Mr. Kennedy.


 

BRAND VS. BRAND (WHILE FORGETTING ABOUT THE OTHER BRAND) MATCH
Batista vs. Umaga

 


SLAM! Predictions

Jon Waldman

I'd like to care about this match, but I've been given no reason to. Brand pride is on the line? Really. Where's the ECW representative? How much better would this match be with Colin Delaney involved? Boo-urns. Batista wins, and I don't care.

Jason Clevett

This should be a fun brawl, and a match that hasn't been done before, which is what WrestleMania should be about. While it won't be a technical classic, both guys have shown in the past that when they are motivated they can be solid workers, and I expect motivation here. However, Umaga always seems to be the guy who loses against headliners, and I expect this to be no different.

Matt Mackinder

This should be the most boring match on the card – two guys with predictable match routines (read: no talent). It doesn’t matter to me who wins, but Big Dave will find a way to avoid the Samoan Spike and either spear, spinebust or Batista Bomb his way to a pin.


Mark Xamin

Look for a double DQ or countout. Nothing will be resolved in this one, but it will lead to a bigger feud which entails Umaga moving to SmackDown. Still, for tonight, no contest.

Greg Oliver

Talk about a meaningless match. Batista wins. It'll be quick.


Andy McNamara

This could be the lemon match of the night and will not be pretty. Batista picks up the 1-2-3 as a consolation for not being in the title picture.

Bob Kapur

Popcorn match. Fans lose.

Tim Baines

A match of the animals. Batista wins.


 

24-MAN BATTLE ROYAL/ECW CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

Elijah Burke vs. Lance Cade vs. Deuce vs. Domino vs. Tommy Dreamer vs. Jim Duggan vs. Festus vs. The Great Khali vs. Mark Henry vs. Hardcore Holly vs. Jesse vs. Kane vs. Brian Kendrick vs. Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz vs. Shannon Moore vs. Trevor Murdoch vs. Jamie Noble vs. Chuck Palumbo vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Snitsky vs. Matt Striker vs. Val Venis vs. Jimmy Wang Yang

Winner vs. Chavo Guerrero

 

SLAM! Predictions

Jon Waldman

Now would be the perfect time to debut...oh, let's say Ron Killings. The former K-Kwik wins and gets set for Chavito, who gets counted out in his match.

Jason Clevett

Ahh the match relegated to WWE.com. Kane wins, but Chavo squeaks out a win in the end... I hope.

Matt Mackinder

I’ll go out on a limb here and say Kofi Kingston wins the battle royal, but the loses to Chavito in another “Who Cares” match.

Mark Xamin

Well, if Punk is moving to Raw or SmackDown!, this would be a good time to make it up to ECW. It would need to be a babyface, since Chavo is a heel, and Punk is the top babyface on the brand. Matt Hardy as a surprise entrant, perhaps? Whoever it is, look for a title change.

Greg Oliver

One has to think about logical people to switch to the ECW brand and legitimately give Chavo a run for the belt, since that roster is so, well, unispirational. Chris Harris comes to mind as a new employee. I could see Colin Delaney win in a fluke. But let's take Matt Hardy as someone who is over with the fans and deserves a high-profile run, if for no other reason than for the powers that be to rub it in the face of the suspended Jeff Hardy. (Don't discount pettiness as a booking factor.)

Andy McNamara

There is really no clear cut favourite in this Battle Royal to face Chavo. I will go with Kane getting the victory and going on to face Guerrero. In that ECW title bout it will be Chavo going over.

Bob Kapur

Though I will be cheering for Tommy Dreamer as always, the realist in me says Khali will win.


 

BELFAST BRAWL MATCH

Finlay vs. JBL

 


SLAM! Predictions

Jon Waldman

This will be awesome as long as Hornswoggle doesn't interfere. I love the idea of these two brawlers mixing it up. Hopefully they get to do what they do best.

Jason Clevett

This match will only work if these two are willing to beat the crap out of each other. Finlay has shown throughout his career that he is willing to take it as hard as he gives, while JBL can also be stiff. Though JBL's comeback has been lackluster to say the least, this could be the match that makes him seem important again. If they fight hard, bleed and brawl, this could be great... or it could be a lame comedy background to Hornswaggle's return. I'll pick Finlay.

Matt Mackinder

I've got an interesting scenario here for you. Just when it looks like Finlay will get the win, out pops Hornswoggle with the shillelagh…and he drills Finlay. Bradshaw capitalizes and gets the win.

Mark Xamin

Well this feud has been in the making since this whole ridiculous storyline began back in July. Finlay will come out on top with a little help (no pun intended) from his "son" Hornswoggle. I wouldn't be surprised to see Vince come up an get what's coming to him either.

Greg Oliver

Since Hornswaggle has been off TV for a few weeks, courtesy of JBL, it's almost a given that he will show up here and cost JBL the match. Finlay wins.


Andy McNamara

This one will be full of plunder and blood featuring two terrific brawlers. I'm leaning towards the feel good win with Finlay getting revenge for his leprechaun son.

Bob Kapur

This could be the sleeper hit of the night, particularly if they keep it brutally violent and not interject Hornswoggle shenanigans into the mix. JBL gets his comeuppance at the hands of the angry Irish dad.

Tim Baines

Easy call. Finlay wins with a bit of help from his "son," Hornswoggle.


 

BUNNYMANIA LUMBERJILL MATCH (hosted by Snoop Dogg)

(Maria/Ashley vs. Melina/Beth Phoenix)

 


SLAM! Predictions

Jon Waldman

Paging Dr. Stratus and Dr. Dumas... the Women's Division is on life support. I love Maria, but Beth does not belong here. No one wins here. Not the Women's division, not the competitors and certainly not the fans. Okay, maybe drycleaners win, but that's it.

Jason Clevett

Well at least they aren't trying to have Maria challenge for the belt singles - that never works well. Keep this short, good bathroom break, and the Playboy gals win.

Matt Mackinder

Do we have to have a gimmick chick match EVERY year? Come on. All these ladies are eye candy for us guys and we all win just by watching. That being said, the heels will go over and the Glamazon continues to try and mirror Awesome Kong in TNA with her “unbeatable monster” gimmick.


Mark Xamin

Does anyone really care? These stupid "diva" matches always kill the momentum at WrestleMania. This will likely happen right between the two main events, bringing the crowd's mood down and wasting ten minutes of our lives that we'll never have back. It should have been Beth Phoenix vs Mickie James for the title. Regardless, Maria is on the cover of Playboy in April so look for her to pin Phoenix, leading to a title match between the two at Backlash.

Greg Oliver

Isn't it bad enough we have these silly matches on Raw every week, or the regular Smackdown swimsuit competitions? Remember - people have shelled out big bucks for this show. Alas, my rant is meaningless, and so is this bout. Ashley and Maria win in a fluke, and Phoenix punks everyone out at the end, including her partner and the ref.

Andy McNamara

Since Maria has the Playboy push behind her, I would expect the babyfaces to pick up the win.

Bob Kapur

We all win! Well, me and all the pervs...

Tim Baines

You've got Playboy beauties Ashley and Maria facing The Glamazon and Melina. All four are beautiful women, but I'm gonna go with Maria pinning The Glamazon.


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-- compiled by Jon Waldman

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