Its practically the most anticipated night of the year – the Royal Rumble. Will Bryan escape with his title again? Will Punk get screwed out of his? What surprises are in store for the Rumble match? And who will book their ticket to Wrestlemania? Lets find out.
And once again the World Title match opens a show. But this is what the Rumble show has become, and what the hell, I am so, so psyched for this match. The introductions worked a treat because of the hilarity of “‘The World’s Strongest Man’ Mark Henry, the 7ft tall, 500 lbs. ‘World’s Largest Athlete’ The Big Show…and Daniel Bryan.”
Bryan scampering up when the bell rang was tops. Its just a shame Henry is injured again because they had to work around it and Henry couldn’t do much in the match. But to their credit Show took over and did a lot of work, and Bryan bumped around like Shawn Michaels on a bad day. And what Henry did was still great – the slingshot into the cage in particular was awesome. Show just completely smushing Henry into the cage early on, before seeing Bryan climbing up, that was cool. Show throwing SUPERKICKS at everyone was great too. The man was trooping today. The match was quite fun overall, although the finish seemed a bit abrupt as they hadn’t really gone that long. But it was really well done, Henry gets Bryan up but gets KO’d to DEATH, Bryan takes his chance once again and gets even further, Show climbs all the way up, and hey, I thought Bryan’s first dangling spots were cool as it was, and then SHOW DANGLED HIM IN MIDAIR WITH ONE HAND! Really, really cool visual, and as I say I still didn’t think it was finish time so when Bryan slipped out and crashed I thought “Oh!” It had a good “not supposed to happen that way” vibe. Anyway, fun times, the best possible under the circumstances, and Bryan escapes with the title again.
I really, really dug the Cena video here. You can complain about ads on a PPV (as if they’ve just been invented, or they’ve never broken up matches before…) but I thought it was a nice touch to make Cena/Rock seem like a gargantuan big deal, that they’re profiling these guys two months out. Plus it was a good video.
Women! Wow, the colour co-ordination is exemplary here. Great job ladies. Also, I’m just glad Beth has returned to the land of the living. Check out the afro on Tamina! They go further and further to dress her up like Superfly. Anyway, I have to say in all honesty I enjoyed this a HELL of a lot. Mainly for the fact that, unlike pretty much every single women’s tag in WWE TV history, they gave them time and made a concerted effort to get ALL the girls in the match and doing something. Just making that kind of effort was nice. Plus, KELLY FLIES! That was a super fun spot and, again, something that made it stand out from all other matches. Beth tagging the crap out of the Bella and just Handling Her Business Son was great too. I’m so glad Beth is back in business, hopefully it leads somewhere interesting for Mania.
Zack! The poor bugger. Ace being such a c*ck by being so nice to him was awesome and is really a great microcosm of the Ace character – he’s so slimy and transparently fake that the nicer he acts towards people the more dickish he comes across. Also, Eve is an educated woman. She’s also deaf, and very pissed. (And if you get that reference you win a gold star.)
As a match I thought Cena vs Kane was really, really well worked. Enjoyed it more than I imagined I would. Kane was a complete badass and Cena totally made it work by fighting from underneath. It can be hard to find Cena a believable underdog in this day and age but he came off completely overmatched – he sold and sold and even when he fought back he was continually cut off. And he never got to complete a proper comeback either, which I thought was an awesome touch; it was all he could to hang in there and even down the stretch, it was about getting in whatever shots he could before being smacked down again. They also did a bunch of cool spots I marked for – ‘You Cant See Me’ right into the CHOKESLAM, the Smothering of Doom into the crossface, Cena busting out the top rope 5KS. They kept teasing stuff and switching it up, and I kept trying and failing to keep up. I just thought it was really good, really smart work all through, and easily the best Kane match in forever.
They were really building the stretch well so suddenly doing a double countout took me aback a bit, although thinking about it, I’m glad Cena didn’t just Cena Up and win, and obviously its not like he’s doing jobs before Mania. And we get another backstage brawl, which WWE has been using more and more in the last 6 months or so, and I for one appreciate it since they’re fun. I really liked the way it all happened: they brawled, Kane chair’d him out, and suddenly the camera pans up to see Zack’s door and you realise HE’S DOOMED. Sort of reminded me of Edge kidnapping Vickie’s wheelchair in 2008 in an absurd way. Plus I realised he was going to wheel him down the ramp, and then he did, and it was great fun. Zack sold well, and once again Eve is concerned enough that she goes out to confront Kane and beg for mercy, and Kane just gives her this LOOK as he Tombstones a man with a broken back like a complete asshole. Cena drags his ass out there again but gets Chokeslammed for his troubles, and the key here is that Cena, unlike almost all times before, has not only failed to make his comeback and win in the end, but his failure has once again caused his little buddy Zack even more excruciating pain.
One thing that I want to add, I’m not sure if its going to be important or not, but I’ve noticed in the last week that during both angles, it was Eve being threatened by Kane that brought Cena out to make the save. This is me with my C,O,N,Spiracy hat on, but I have noticed it. Anyway, enjoyed the match a lot and I’m intrigued by the twist of Kane remaining on top through the PPV.
Liked the Rock video as well, and again, I liked them adding these onto this show as an ad for Mania. I’m less annoyed by ads than pretty much everyone else in the universe, so I imagine I’m in the minority, but it did make it feel like the oft-mentioned ‘start of the Road to Wrestlemania’.
Drew! He lives! I was racking my brains trying to figure out why he had a match here, but obviously, FUNK. I’m kind of bummed he didn’t get to dance in the Rumble, but then again, its better for him that he remains undefeated and protected, and he’d have been exposed doing the Rumble so soon. Drew selling Brodus was good, as was his attempt at offense before being Funk’d. I was half-expecting Teddy to come out here and fire him on PPV as a moment, so I’m just glad he survived another night.
Ace deciding to be the Special Enforcer instead was unexpected, but also a welcome change since he didn’t get in the way of the body of the match. Ejecting Vickie was cool too and it was good that they realised he was only enforcing the stipulation from a few weeks ago. Ace: killing people with kindness since ’11. Punk vs Dolph itself was great stuff. Not some all-time match people maybe expected, but a great match and they did some really cool stuff – Punk blocking the slingshot and then hitting it later, the Fame Asser into the spinning powerbomb, the sleeper to Vice to sleeper. Then stop: shenanigans time! By the third false finish I was sold because one you can say, sure, whatever, he was distracted, but by the third time Ace is so obviously avoiding doing the job that it works. Liked how they did the accidental knock too. And HOLY GOD, the GTS into the Fame Asser for that NEARFALL ruled hard. Great stuff. Really didn’t know where it was heading and in the end, Ace coming in to count the pin and be nice was kind of unnerving, in a good way, like, hang on, you were chickening out after all? Its like, he was going for a subtle screwing and plausible deniability if he could manage it, but even after three tries it didn’t work and Punk had him fair and square, and Ace couldn’t risk an outright screwjob with his job on the line so he just goes along with it and tries to be nice guy Ace and pretend that he wasnt trying to subtly screw Punk for the last 10 minutes. A good story told, and I’m interested in what happens with him on Raw. Also, Lord in Heaven, the way Dolph sold those GTS’ was INCREDIBLE.
Now for the Royal Rumbles! Its all about the numbers, you see. I apologise in advance for the rest of this, I’ve never had to cover something so long before so I’m pretty much going to ramble for what will feel like the amount of time the Rumble itself took.
I wish Miz would cover up his botches a bit better when he talks. Of course, I wish he wouldnt botch so much full stop. He also no-sold his old protege and arch-nemesis Alex Riley drawling #2, so I’m not happy with Miz right now. Anyway, Miz and Riley brawling brings back memories of times past. Ahh, 2011, the good old days! But he’s a jobber now so he’s tossed, and Miz being all “thats one” and setting up for a big innings was cool, and frankly Miz doing the Madison Rayne regal wave here is one of the better things he’s done recently. DA TRUTH HAS SET ME FREE! They also had a fun brawl right into that weird semi-botched slam. Miz is all about the botches. Cody coming in early bodes well for him too. Plus him and Miz make a cool makeshift heel team. And GABES is out to continue his mini-feud with Cody. I like how the commentators noted that he couldnt – or shouldnt – jump off the top rope so he’d need a different strategy than normal. But speaking of small flippers, PRIMO COLON WITH THE HEADSTAND RANA! That was a cool ass spot and I marked. As sudden as it was, Truth hitting his finish and immediately getting tossed was a cool little spot, again in an “oh no thats not supposed to happen!” way. Wow, Foley is GIGANTIC. What a tubster. Still it was nice to see him do his thing, and Primo took a HELL of a spill out. A worker.
HOLY GOD RICARDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
AHH! Ricardo coming out in his beat up sh*tbox in his Alberto outfit and doing his best Alberto was UNBELIEVABLE. WHAT A MAN. This is so awesome, and the crowd LOVES HIM. So much so that Gabes got booed for hitting him and he ended up tossing Gabes with Mick Foley and going insane. RICARDO IS MARCO TARDELLI! This rules, Ricardo is so awesome. AHAHAHA Santino! This is going to RULE. Our business is comedy, folks, and business is good. That roll-through was very Eugene-esqe, in a good way. Using a wedgie to eliminate someone is just something else. Too bad Ricardo was so over that it was booed. But OH GOD THE COBRA VS THE SOCKO! They’re circling! No, Epico Colon! The double team! He’s tossed! And Mick Foley eliminates both of the tag team champions. That isnt even a shocking sentence to write. But oh God they’re trying again! I was already marking and when Booker went “They’re lockin’ up!” I COMPLETELY LOST IT. And finally our little comedy interlude is broken up by the survivors – Miz and Cody.
Kofi! I still love you buddy! The Double Boom Drop was fun. I loved the little set up where King says “Kofi needs some help…” and BZZZ, its THE KING! I love how he was all dressed up, just in case. He also had a fun run around, and Booker going UTTERLY INSANE when he went for the strap was hilarious. He nearly had a heart attack. And then Cody spoils things once again, and eliminates another Legend. Nice development of a theme. Now, I had #14 in the TWO Rumble Pool, so you can imagine my displeasure when it turned out to be, of all people, JINDER F*CKING MAHAL. Jesus Christ. But, never fear, because THE GREAT KHALI IS HERE! I dont think I’ve ever been so happy to see the big bastard in my life, if only because I knew Jinder was completely f*cked. And because CHOPS OF DOOM FOR EVERYBODY! I marked and marked and marked. If there’s one thing I miss in wrestling, its people getting Chopped to Doom. I love this Rumble.
BOOKER T WASNT WEARING ANY PANTS!
When they did King I mentioned how cool it would be if they did the same thing with Booker, and here we are. And he was sitting there in a shirt, tie, jacket…and no pants. Awesome stuff.
HOOOOOOOOOLY GOD KOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOFI!
AHHHHH! THAT WAS AWESOME! Mind. F*cking. Blown. That might have been even better than Morrison’s leap. I love you Kofi Kingston. I just, God. Argh, argh, argh.
And Dolph is in, I expected that. HOOOOOO! Duggan is hardly newsworthy at this point, but whatever, its a chance for people to chant ‘USA’ and be happy. And once again Cody tosses a Legend! Really cool subplot there. And man, he and Miz tossed Booker and Khali just like that. The survivors strike again. Oh dear God, Cole! They’re completing the set. Booker freaking out and King saying “Keep your pants on!” made it. I laughed at Cole taking five years to put his helmet on. I admit, I liked this. Plus Booker: “I was this close to winning the Royal Rumble King!”
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
KHARMA! SHE’S BACK! OH GOD! KILL HIM! KILL HIM AND EAT HIM! YES! Oh God, I have waited like 9 months for this moment, this is incredible. Booker’s mischievous “c’mon King” and they creep up and pull Cole down, I laughed FOREVER. Dolph! KILL HIM AND EAT HIM! YES! IMPLANT BUSTER! What a motherf*cking SOLDIER Dolph is today. Work a main event for 20 minutes, job four times in one match, pull double duty for the Rumble and get beat up by a woman. Hunico tossed! Vickie! Oh God, Kharma kills and eats her and I straight-up die a thousand deaths of awesome. No Dolph! Boo! What a bugger. Whatever though, that was incredible and totally worth it. Kharma is back bitches! Sh*t gonna get real for these ladies once again. Kharma/Beth for Mania, book it now.
All through the first two thirds I noticed that hardly any big guns had come out yet. We’re past 20 and none of the big four are in, until finally at #22 Its a Shame For They, Lobsterhead! Its a shame Kofi was just kind of dumped here after the greatness of DOING A HANDSTAND. Still not over it. I’m in love again. I liked Cody trying to block the Chest Wallops for whatever reason.
OH YOU DIDNT KNOW? YOUR [BLEEP] BETTER CALL SOMEBODY!
Yay Road Dogg! I dont even know you, but I love you. One of the few guys who makes me wish I was five years older. He was great doing his dancing schtick. Speaking of dancing, its The Uso! Seems they had the same idea since The Uso danced at Road Dogg, plus it gave Booker a chance to say “Buggaloo”. I had legit forgotten all about Da Swag Man, but he won me back by coming in and throwing a million Swagger Lariats. Laughed hard at Road Dogg going for a tag in the corner. Also, I have to say I enjoyed the entire commentary angle, and Cole’s pouting “She’s a Diva. And a strong one at that.” legit cracked me up. I have not enjoyed this man so much in months. Too bad he’ll be the same old Cole come TV. Barrett’s new music sounds terrible, bad decision. ‘I’ve Had Enough’ isnt the best of songs, but I thought it was finally established as identifiable with Barrett, and they up and change it to something unrecognisable. Boo. Hahahaha what a meanie, tossing Road Dogg. He did great.
At this point there’s only four left and it still felt like they hadnt got to the big guns, so #27 is…Otunga. Laughed FOREVER. But the dude has become astonishingly useful in the last couple months, all credit, so I could never begrudge him the spot. And anyway, I hear voices in my head! I picked him and Jericho from here perfectly, genius that I am. Double DDT was cool, as was somebody’s “Evolution” slip. They’ve been on my mind too lately. Barrett is gone! I expected that one would do the other, but its weird how inconsequential Barrett’s Rumble was, after he was the guy with the most actual build for it going in. Wow, the POP Jericho got! And continued to get. The man was so over to these people. It was kind of neat that this was his first actual action so far.
Its funny. I’m completely in love with the Big Show right now and he’s confirmed as the new reigning and defending Greatest Man in the Entire World…and for the second time he has HUGELY let me down as the #30 entrant. You cant help it, when there’s one more to go and you dont know for sure who it is, the mind races imagining all of the crazy surprises it could be. And then its…the Big Show. I love you buddy, but shesh. Anyway, he KO’d Swag Man to Death for fun so I aint hatin’. And the survivors survive no more! After the way their runs unfolded its only fitting that they went out together, and they both did well, Cody in particular. And what a final four we have here. It is the three biggest favourites still so there’s no telling who wins from here. The quick Chokeslam right into the RKO was cool, and then Orton ELIMINATED SHOW and then JERICHO TOSSES HIM! Wow, did not expect that here. Orton ended up kind of doing nothing much as well.
Jericho and Sheamus. And wow, they did a HELL of a job on this stretch. Just super, they battled it out for a long time and had a million nearfalls and I bought almost every one of them. When Jericho did the Jericho Dropkick onto Sheamus on the apron, then when he was out there for like an hour before the Shoulder Block, then the top rope spot, then the Kick-Codebreaker-toss sequence, and finally the Brogue Kick to win. I wasnt sure who was winning through this, and I didnt care majorly one way or the other really, but I was completely on the edge of my seat throughout, they built it so well. The only thing you could say is that since Jericho was such a crowd favourite it sort of took away from Sheamus the young babyface overcoming and realising his dream of headlining Wrestlemania, since the crowd kind of wanted and expected Jericho to win. But it was great work from them both and the finish picked the match right back up, since the period before it was probably the lowest moment, although thats a harsh thing to say.
I really, REALLY enjoyed the Rumble. It was great. I was never close to bored at any point, it was pretty much all action, it was called relatively well, they paced the big comedy/nostalgia spots well, and the stretch ruled. And some of those moments – Ricardo, Kofi’s handstand, Kharma – are already some of my favourite Rumble spots of all the times. I think it was even better than last year’s, which I enjoyed a lot, which makes it my favourite since 2008. I just had so, so much fun watching it, and the card overall was quite good.
I’m also interested as to where they go from here. Sheamus winning isnt completely unforeseen, but it does throw a spanner in the works since the expected title matches were Punk/Jericho and Bryan/Orton. They could go Bryan/Sheamus, although that sounds way too midcard on paper. They could add Orton, or even Henry depending on how he is. Or, for the roughie, say Jericho wins the Raw title at the Chamber PPV and they rematch Jericho and Sheamus at Mania. That would require a reshuffle to Punk/HHH or something like that, but its a possibility. I like that there are possibilities. I’m excited for TV this week, for all of the fallout for everyone involved – Ace, Hunter, Punk, Dolph, KHARMA, Jericho, Cody, Bryan, Henry, Show, Orton, Sheamus. Thumbs up.