The Royal Rumble has always been one of the highlights of the wrestling calendar, particularly since 1992 when the WWE title became the focal point of the match. In 1992, the winner (Ric Flair) won the vacated WWF Title in a fantastic match. From 1993 onwards, the winner of the Royal Rumble has won himself the chance to challenge for the WWE Title at Wrestlemania.
Running Time: 160mins (approx. excluding extras)
- ECW Championship Match: Christian v Ezekiel Jackson
- Teddy Long and Tiffany in their office
- Randy Orton prepares for his championship match
- United States Championship Match: The Miz v MVP
- Chris Jericho has a talk with Big Show
- Randy Orton heads to the ring
- WWE Championship Match: Sheamus v Randy Orton
- WWE Women’s Championship Match: Michelle McCool v Mickie James
- World Heavyweight Championship Match: Undertaker v Rey Mysterio
- Kane confronts Shawn Michaels
- The 2010 Royal Rumble Match
- RAW – February 1, 2010: Bret ‘Hit Man’ Hart confronts Mr. McMahon
Yokozuna was the first man to claim this honour; going on to Wrestlemania IX and defeating Bret Hart for the WWF Title… only to lose it less than three minutes later to Hulk Hogan. The stipulation changed slightly in 2003 when the brand split led to WWE having two champions. Chris Benoit was the first wrestler to exploit a loophole and jump brands to cash in his title shot. The Rumble was also used to bring to a head the burgeoning feud between Triple H and Batista and propel “The Animal” into the main event picture; a position he holds to this day.
Even outside the “Winner gets a title shot” stipulation, the Rumble match has played host to many great confrontations, including the very first physical exchange between Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior in 1990. Owen Hart turned on his brother, Bret Hart after a tag title match, Vader cleanly pinned Undertaker one year after making his debut in the 1996 event and scaring the crap out everyone with his physical destruction, Sid defended his WWE Title against Shawn Michaels in a heated match, Undertaker was robbed in his bout against Bret Hart in 1996, Triple H made a triumphant return in 2002… and the list goes on and on.
As one of the original “Big Four” PPVs, the Royal Rumble has a mystique that is lacking from many of the other PPV events. It is always looked forward to and has one of the best, and simplest, gimmick matches in history. The format (credited to Pat Patterson) is brilliant and has everyone counting down with the on-screen clock in anticipation of who will be next. The match can be used as a surprise return for a wrestler (more about this later) or to treat the fans to a one-off appearance from a legend of the sport, but whatever your motivation for watching, the Royal Rumble is a PPV that rarely, if ever, disappoints.
The 2010 edition begins with a great hype vignette putting over how important not only the Rumble itself, but also both the WWE and World Championship matches. Mr. Deep Voiceover claims that this is the most star-studded Royal Rumble ever, which isn’t exactly true (for my money, that honour belongs to 1992), but, to be fair, there were a lot more viable winners going in this year than there has been for a long, long time. All credit to that must go to the booking team and the storylines they had in place going in (each person who couldwin had feuds ready made for either eventuality).
The matches are all, on the whole, above-average at worse and the fact that every undercard match was for a title really helped. Christian performed a minor miracle as Ezekiel Jackson had his best match in WWE ever against the Canadian. That they would repeat this feat on ECW the following week just adds to the man’s reputation.
On the rest of the card, Miz furthered his development into one of the most well-rounded performers in wrestling today with a good outing against MVP (in an unannounced match added to the card by Teddy Long “on the fly” backstage) that has a great ending, Mickie James got her revenge against Michelle McCool to end the deplorable “Piggie James” angle (in a nothing bout that lasts 20secs), Sheamus and Orton have a wonderful WWE Championship Match that was marred by a disappointing finish (even if it did make sense in the long run, on the night, it really put a dampener on things) and Undertaker turned back the clock one more time to steal Match of the Night honours with Rey Mysterio. The WWE production staff (who always get at least one credit per review – it’s the law) also put in a great showing with the pre-match video for the World Heavyweight Championship bout.
Going into the main-event, there were at least six credible winners (John Cena, Big Show, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Batista and Jericho, with both Drew McIntyre and CM Punk being viable outside bets into the bargain), so there was one thing this Royal Rumble had over the previous four or five – unpredictability.
CM Punk is an early highlight (seriously, it’s a work of genius) and HBK’s exit is (pun intended) heartbreaking, while the match itself is exciting enough from start to finish, but at under 50mins in length from bell-to-bell, it’s too short and lacks that one “how long has he been in there?” moment as everyone seems to last very little time at all (Cena was the longest with a rather pathetic 22mins). Edge’s surprising return gets a nice reaction, but the gulf between this and John Cena’s return in 2008 is massive, maybe due to the former’s arrival being expected by the majority.
Ultimately, by the end of the night, even with the unpredictability going in, everything ends up as we’d hoped (i.e. the WrestleMania matches we were hoping for all happened due to various shenanigans on the Road to ‘Mania).
One extra and it’s a doozy! William Shatner and Bret Hart on RAW is cheesy goodness and the promo between “The Hitman” and Vince McMahon is fantastic, with the line between reality and kayfabe being blurred really, really well. At 15mins, this is well worth viewing again and again… unlike the match it eventually led to.
This is a really good PPV, with each match (Mickie v McCool isn’t a match) being worthy of the event. Miz, Sheamus, Orton, Undertaker and Rey worked hard and gave the fans their monies worth.
The Rumble itself, as I’ve said before, sells itself. Unfortunately, this one is too short and not much of anything memorable happens outside of HBK, HHH, CM Punk, Jericho and Edge. That being said, it’s not a boring match, just that there’s no old-school returners and it seems that people came in, did a bit and then got eliminated within minutes.
That being said, if you can get it at a discounted price (£12.99 or less), this is well worth adding to your collection.