Here at CBSSports.com, it's rare for us to cover a pro wrestling event. Then again, it's kind of a special occasion when almost 75,000 people converge in one venue for something other than a football game. It's also a special occasion when a household name like "Nature Boy" Ric Flair wrestles his last match, one day after going into the WWE Hall of Fame while still a full-time member of its roster.
And it's rare for boxing superstar Floyd "Money" Mayweather to do something other than box in a ring, especially against an "opponent" three times his size.
WWE is sports entertainment, not sport. But when you witness the sheer spectacle that is WrestleMania first-hand, you see many of the same traits that the fans of competitive sports love. At the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on Sunday evening, you had it all. The smell of overpriced hot dogs. Every kind of licensed WWE merchandise you could every possibly want to own. A jam-packed stadium full of fans. A contingent of legit wrestling legends, one night removed from entering the Hall of Fame. A full crew of performers backstage -- some of them tremendously gifted athletes, others over-the-top characters or flashy crowd pleasers, and one guy in a class all by himself in Ric Flair -- who left it all in the ring during their matches.
On this night, WWE had a guy we follow very closely here at CBSSports.com, who also happens to be a charismatic entertainer. In the latest effort by Floyd Mayweather to broaden his celebrity status beyond the sport of boxing, his dance partner was decidedly uglier.
For his "David vs. Goliath" match against the 440-pound Big Show, Mayweather strutted down the aisle with his full posse backing him up. In a fitting special effect, it rained cash on the fans during his saunter to the ring. (By the way: If you think Mayweather is really getting $20 million for this, you're dreaming.)
The only thing big about Mayweather were his XXL trunks -- even his gloves were smaller than the norm. He danced around Big Show and tagged him with quick jabs while the big guy swatted at him to no avail. Show upped the ante by dragging one of Mayweather's cornermen into the ring and slapping him with a bare-chested chop. When he caught up to Mayweather, he tried to stomp on his hand (making good on an earlier promise to end his boxing career). He failed, and Mayweather responded by climbing the turnbuckles and putting Show in a sleeper hold. Show walked around the ring trying to shake him off, and when he finally did so, he got that hand stomp he was looking for.
Show then slapped Mayweather's chest in the corner with a chop. Mayweather fired back with some shots, but fell victim to a side slam. He stood on Mayweather's fallen body with both feet, drawing some gasps from the crowd. Show landed an elbow drop, and at that point Mayweather looked dead. His corner dragged him out of the ring by the feet and tried escaping back down the aisle. Show chased them, and dragged Mayweather back to the ring for more abuse. The crowd was laughing at Mayweather, probably mostly due to the downright comical size difference.
Show lifted Mayweather off the ground with a choke, but before he could finish the choke slam, a cornerman hit Show in the back with a steel folding chair. Show turned and choke slammed that guy, then turned around to eat a pair of chair shots from Floyd himself (one gut, one back). On a third swing of the steel, Show grabbed Mayweather by the neck again. This time, Mayweather escaped with that old boxing standby: a kick in the crotch.
Mayweather got his biggest reaction out of the crowd with a right hand that dropped Show face-first to the canvas. Mayweather, by the way, was holding a foreign object (brass knuckles) when he threw the punch. With that, Mayweather scored the pinfall for his first -- and possibly only -- pro wrestling win.
Full results from WrestleMania 24 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando:
- World Heavyweight Title: The Undertaker defeated Edge via submission to a gogoplata to win the title and remain undefeated at WrestleMania.
- Floyd "Money" Mayweather beat The Big Show via knockout after a right hook with a foreign object.
- Triple Threat Match: WWE Champion Randy Orton retained his title against Triple H and John Cena after he kicked Triple H as he was pinning Cena after a pedigree, and then pinned Cena himself.
- BunnyMania Lumberjack Match: Beth Phoenix & Melina beat Ashley & Maria when Phoenix pinned Maria after a fisherman's suplex. During the match, the main lighting above the ring went out and the match went a few moments in the dark. They finished the match with the use of spotlights.
- Shawn Michaels defeated Ric Flair via pinfall after a superkick. The match was Ric Flair's final performance as an active wrestler.
- Kane pinned ECW Champion Chavo Guerrero Jr. after a choke slam to win the title.
- Batista pinned Umaga after a powerbomb.
- Money in the Bank Ladder Match: C.M. Punk defeated John Morrison, Carlito, Shelton Benjamin, Mr. Kennedy, MVP and Chris Jericho to earn the right to challenge for any title in WWE at a time of his choosing within the next year.
- Belfast Brawl: John Bradshaw Layfield defeated Finlay via pinfall after the clothesline from hell.
- Kane won a 24-Man Battle Royal for a same-night shot at the ECW Championship.
John Legend opened the show with his rendition of "America the Beautiful." Kim Kardashian served as honorary backstage interviewer. Raven Simone came out to the ring to thank WWE for working closely with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Snoop Dogg acted as the "Master of Ceremonies" for the BunnyMania women's tag team match, featuring the team of Ashley Massaro and Maria Kanellis, both of whom have bared all for Playboy.
The announced attendance was 74,635.