Risk and reward
LOS ANGELES -- Earlier today at the WrestleMania XXIV press conference, the trail to the year's biggest sports-entertainment spectacle heated up weeks before WWE dips south to Orlando, Fla., for The Granddaddy of Them All. Amid that blaze: The announcement that Floyd "Money" Mayweather will meet Big Show at WrestleMania.
A mass of fans -- some lucky enough to flash their tickets to the March 30 extravaganza -- gathered at the STAPLES Center to witness WWE's elite. Many others who didn't have tickets in their hands clasped $100 bills tossed out by the boxer they call "Money."
The "undisputed, undefeated" boxing champion told the world that he would take down Big Show -- a man three times his size -- on The Grandest Stage of Them All. Mayweather then cast wads of cold, hard cash to the Los Angelinos in attendance, explaining that he runs the show.
"I'm going to turn the ‘W's upside down [in WWE]," said the greatest fighter in the world. "It's going to be ‘Money Mayweather Entertainment.' "
His massive WrestleMania opponent made his way to the stage moments later, sharing his own comments before tossing around furniture and taunting Mayweather. A fiery staredown between the two (with Mayweather standing on a table to meet Show at eye level) ended just before they came to blows when the WBC Welterweight Champion coolly -- and rudely -- disregarded the 7-footer's bellows.
Moments before their showdown, Mayweather's friend Rey Mysterio greeted and thanked our fans for their support and attendance. Though precluded from competition due to injury for the second straight WrestleMania, Mysterio promised that his torn right bicep would not keep him from coming back better than ever. The masked Superstar also vowed to help "Pretty Boy" Mayweather in preparing for his battle with the "World's Largest Athlete."
Though they may have avoided a physical collision in Los Angeles, at the pay-per-view event of the year on March 30, the gloves will be off between Big Show and Mayweather. And, something's got to give.
While reputations will be at stake between the giant and the fighter, WWE gold will also, of course, be on the line at WrestleMania XXIV.
At the press conference, WWE Champion Randy Orton claimed he would emerge from the Citrus Bowl with his title carefully couched in his arms, as the Legend Killer would also kill the hopes of his Raw challengers.
One of Orton's two opponents, John Cena, intensely described his excitement for an event he was originally slated to miss due to a pectoral injury. In a Triple Threat encounter for the WWE Championship held by the Superstar who injured him, the title-focused Chain Gang Leader offered his own prophecy for March 30.
"My promise and my prediction," Cena said, "is that history will be made at WrestleMania XXIV."
In addition to the comments of both the WWE Champion and Cena, 11-time World Champion Triple H offered his emotion-fueled perspective on The Granddaddy of Them All. One year after being forced to participate in WrestleMania 23 live from the locker room area, The Game has fully recovered from the injury that caused him to miss sports-entertainment's greatest spectacle.
"Last year, I was forced to sit on the sidelines," Triple H explained. "That ate a hole in me. This year, The Game is back."
Guaranteeing a show that no one else in the universe can put on, the King of Kings said the world will witness his return to his golden throne.
Another championship-minded Superstar making bold guarantees at the STAPLES Center was the Ultimate Opportunist. With the daunting task of facing Undertaker and his 15-0 streak at WrestleMania, World Heavyweight Champion Edge snickered at the podium and asserted his bravado. Boasting that he would find a way past The Phenom to retain the title, the champion promised that "the streak comes to an end finally at the hands of the Rated-R Superstar."
Finally, the press conference took a turn toward the sexier side of WWE, as Divas Candice Michelle and Maria spiced things up in Hollywood this afternoon. In celebration of Maria posing in Playboy magazine, the pair of the Sexiest Women on Television announced their participation in the sexiest match at WrestleMania: The first-ever Playboy BunnyMania Match. What will this contest entail? Check back with WWE.com and WWE programming as more details are announced.
"Is the risk worth the reward?" Are the reputations, titles and bodies at stake on March 30 worth risking for the fame and legacy associated with performing on The Grandest Stage of Them All? As Shane McMahon, the son of the WWE Chairman, proclaimed earlier today, we will find out live at WrestleMania XXIV.