Monday, January 31, 2011

Royal Rumble Recap

Courtesy: Erik Stensland 
Lots of partnerships in this posting.  Chad offers up his analysis here.  Kevin's thoughts can be found on My 1-2-3 Cents on YouTube.  And a new friend Erik provides these photos.  He was in Boston for the Rumble.  Enjoy!

by Chad Smart:

Saturday night I watched an 18-man Legends Royal Rumble match with all but 2 or 3 of the guys a good 20 years past the prime of their careers. Sunday night I watched WWE’s annual Royal Rumble match.  If I had to recommend one of the matches to anyone, without a moment of hesitation I would recommend the Legends match.  While WWE’s match featured more talent and younger guys who could put on a more athletic match, the Legends put on a more emotionally investing match. But before I get into the rumble match, let’s review the rest of the Pay Per View.

Edge defending his World Title against Dolph Ziggler opened the show. Before the match could start, Smackdown acting General Manager Vickie Guerrero informed Edge his finishing move, the spear, was too dangerous and if he used it he would be disqualified and lose the title.  After the stipulation was laid out, I texted Kevin and told him the ref would be knocked out and Edge would hit the spear for the victory. The match itself was really good. I think Dolph has a bright future in the company, but I don’t think he was ready for a title run at this time. For some reason, Kelly Kelly came down to ringside and attacked Vickie Guerrero. I don’t know why Kelly did this other it was a way to get Vickie knocked out preventing her from seeing Edge use the spear. After Vickie is out, the referee gets knocked down and Edge hits the spear for the victory.  Predictable finish, but it didn’t tarnish the match.

Randy Orton attempted to capture the WWE title from the Miz in the second match. To be honest, I didn’t really pay attention to this match because I felt for sure Orton would win the match. Orton didn’t win the match, but really neither did The Miz. Miz’s protégé Alex Riley interfered numerous times throughout the match before the New Nexus came to ringside. The referee went to remove Nexus from ringside while Alex Riley tried to attack Orton. Orton tossed A-Ri over the top rope onto Nexus.  When Orton turned his attention back to The Miz, The Miz tried to hit the Skull Crushing Finale but Orton reversed it into an RKO. Before pinning The Miz,  CM Punk snuck into the ring and hit Orton with his finishing move, Go To Sleep. Then Punk pulled The Miz onto a knocked out Orton.  The ref returned to the ring and counted the pin fall and The Miz retained his title. As I wrote about in the Not Championship Material posting, this match did nothing to make The Miz look worthy of being champion.  I still don’t see The Miz getting past the next Pay Per View and going on to Wrestlemania as champion.

For some unknown reason, the Diva’s Handicap title match was turned into a 4-way match.  Even more head scratching was the addition to the match and eventual victory of Eve. While Eve is a former Diva champion, she hasn’t done a lot since loosing the title. And speculation was a Wrestlemania match between Natalya and either Beth Phoenix or Awesome Kong.

Now it was time for the Royal Rumble. The biggest Royal Rumble ever with 40 guys instead of the normal 30.  I’m not going to go into full detail about the match. I’ll let Kevin do that on the YouTube video. I’m going to focus on the different story lines and major events that transpired during the match.
Having CM Punk start at number 1 leading to the Corre and Nexus coming out and having a pull a part brawl was a good beginning. Especially since there was very little interaction between the two groups during the rest of the rumble. Bryan Danielson drawing number 2 gave a good few minutes of solid wrestling before the ring started filling up with wrestlers.

I liked the luck of the draw giving CM Punk the rest of Nexus within the first 15 participants. Don’t understand why Corre member Justin Gabriel was put in early and taken out quickly instead of playing up the Nexus/Corre feud. Nexus dominating the under card guys gave them momentum and had the fans thinking CM Punk had a shot of winning the Rumble. Well, anyone who hasn’t watched WWE programming in the past year anyway. As soon as John Cena’s music hit, it was clear Nexus’ run was over. And Cena wasted little time in disposing of every member of Nexus. I think this was when my interest in the match died.

Actually I think that’s the only major story to come out of the match. The Corre didn’t get to work together as a group. I don’t remember anyone getting the Diesel/Kane treatment of being the dominating force eliminating guys left and right. By the end of the match I was thinking, this is it? For being the biggest Royal Rumble, there wasn’t a lot of drama in the match. Guess that’s’ partly due to do events during the match.

Cena, Kingston, & Hornswaggle (Courtesy: Erik Stensland)

After John Cena had eliminated Nexus, at some point Hornswaggle entered the match. If you’re not familiar with Hornswaggle, all you need to know is he’s a midget. So a guy who isn’t even as tall as the top rope was in a match where the objective is to throw people over the top rope. During his run in the match he was basically the Mini Me to John Cena’s Dr. Evil. I decided whoever took out Hornswaggle was going to get my vote for Wrestler of the Year. Therefore 2011 is the year of Sheamus. Just wish he would have entered the ring sooner.

Several times during the last half of the match, there were several moments where John Cena and Randy Orton had a face off and each time the crowd would go silent. Fans online commented WWE was trying to have a Rock/Steve Austin scenario.  If that’s the case there’s one thing WWE needs to realize, we’ve seen Randy Orton vs. John Cena so many times already that few people want to see it again.  All the face offs did was stall a match that wasn’t running that fast to begin with.

In my Rumble prediction post, I wondered how many mystery entrants we’d see. Other than Hornswaggle, the only surprises were a returning Booker T. and Kevin “Diesel” Nash. The cynic in me says Booker and Diesel were only brought back because TNA is supposed to reveal a group this Thursday on Impact and that group is rumored to be the returning Main Event Mafia of which Booker and Nash were members. By bringing them in for the Rumble, I wouldn’t be surprised if some deal were in place to keep them out of TNA for the foreseeable future. I don’t know why Vince McMahon would care. It’s not like the MEM is going to get people to watch TNA. Think it was done simply because he could.

Del Rio wins. (Courtesy: Erik Stensland)
Oh yeah, there was a winner to the Royal Rumble wasn’t there. This year’s winner was the man most predicted would win, Alberto Del Rio.  Del Rio has been in WWE for about six months.  I don’t see the appeal in him and will often change the channel when he comes out to wrestle. Judging from fan reaction, few people in the arena were excited to see him win.  If I didn’t already have my plane ticket to Atlanta, I would probably consider selling my Wrestlemania ticket. There’s going to have to be an exceptional card surrounding Del Rio’s title match to get me excited for the show. I can always hope something happens and Del Rio loses his title match option at the next Pay Per View. I mean, anything can happen in the WWE, right?

Overall, in my opinion this was a lackluster Royal Rumble and the supersizing to 40 guys seemed unnecessary. Next year they should go back to 30 guys and build up more story lines throughout the match to set up potential matches down the road.  But now we’re on the Road to Wrestlemania. Let’s hope it’s a smooth ride and there are no breakdowns or unnecessary rest stops until we get to Atlanta. 

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