Monday, January 30, 2012

My First Rumble

Shemaus wins the 2012 Royal Rumble
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

I've been to five Wrestlemanias and will hit my sixth in 62 days in Miami.  I've been to live Raws (I witnesses "Rosie O'Donnel" vs. "Donald Trump", and I've been to the first ever Hell in a Cell match at Badd Blood '97, but in the 25 year history of the Royal Rumble, I had never been.  That all changed last night.

Luckily for me this year's event was in St. Louis, my hometown.  I live about 2 hours away, so when it was announced months ago, I made plans to attend.  My 10 year old son was also stoked and wanted to go as well, since my Wrestlemania trips have been named "Bromance Weekends" with My 1-2-3 Cents partner in crime Chad.

The Rumble event was great.  Top to bottom we had a blast.  My son, Mason and I went with my friend and coworker, Weston.  Our seats were pretty good too, despite the morons in front of us and in front of them who kept standing, especially towards the end of the Rumble.  But I digress...

We arrived in St. Louis early to experience the DiBiase Posse Party.  It was pretty cool.  Ted was mobbed by fans as he signed autographs and posed for photos.  There was a television crew there with a mic flag that said "Crash" (I think).  We're not sure if that's something that will be a part of the WWE Network or what was going on.  At one point we were just feet away from DiBiase, but Mason wouldn't get any closer to him for a picture.  Hope he doesn't have the regrets I had when I was younger about bailing on meeting King Kong Bundy...  I did however get a quick video of DiBiase so you can see what the party is all about.

The dark match saw Yoshi Tatsu pin the "One Man Southern Rock Band"Heath Slater.  Weston tried getting a Wendy's chant started, but it fell on deaf ears.

Bryan escapes
The show started with Daniel Bryan defending the world championship inside a steel cage against the Big Show and Mark Henry.  Oh, let me preface this blog by saying I haven't read any other reviews of the show, so I don't know if there have been any news nuggets added from overnight.  Anyway, the match wasn't too bad.  Show squashed Henry early on, taking him out of action for a bit.  I had heard last week that Henry was hurt, so I wasn't sure if that was part of keeping him in the match, yet keeping him safe too.  Bryan did the coward try to escape ASAP strategy.  It works for him.  I like what they're doing with his character.  Ultimately, he scaled the cage again, but Show caught him and held on to him with one arm.  Bryan eventually got free and hit the floor and retained.  I was impressed with Big Show's strength.  But he was clearly disappointed he lost another bid to be the champ.

There was an unannounced 8 divas tag team match that saw champion Beth Phoenix team up with the Bella Twins and Natalya.  The heel quartet beat the face team of Kelly Kelly, Eve, Alicia Fox, and Tamina.  The match wasn't horrible, but many fans used it as a chance to go to the bathroom or hit the concession stand.  Beth won for her team after hitting the GlamSlam on K squared.

Kane destroys Zack, again
John Cena and Kane brawled and fought in a pretty good see-saw battle.  The crowd in St. Louis clearly hated Cena.  There was the "Let's Go Cena" "Cena Sucks" (I think that's the chant) going on throughout the match.  Since my 10 year old and 6 year old both like Cena, I joined in on the pro Cena side of things.  The match ended in a double count out.  Kane took care of Cena backstage, then attacked a wheelchair bound Zack Ryder, rolling him into the ring and Tombstoning him.  Eve tried to stop it, but Kane wouldn't let up. Then when Cena ran back to the ring, to save Eve from doom, the fans booed him again.  That I didn't get.  Even when he's playing the hero to a popular Diva, Cena gets heat.  Anyway, Kane chokeslammed Cena and then left the ring without hurting Eve.  I'm predicting a Kane-Ryder match of some kind at Wrestlemania.

Funkasarus Brodus Clay beat the struggling Drew McIntyre in a pretty quick match.  It was another bonus match on the card.  I had hoped this didn't mean Clay wouldn't be in the Rumble, but it did.  I was really hoping to see him in the match.  Maybe next year...

Punk's tribute to Macho Man
CM Punk beat Dolph Ziggler finally, despite two ref bumps and John Laurinaitis serving as a special guest referee.  However, I thought he was going to be the only official in the match.  The match between these two was outstanding.  I've said it before, I'll say it again, Ziggler has so much potential.  I hope they keep him near the top of the card this year and he doesn't end up lost in the shuffle.

The Royal Rumble match itself was pretty entertaining.  There were some entrants that baffled me.  I'm not sure how I feel about all three commentators getting into the match.  Although with the surprise entrance of Kharma (who was my mark out moment of the night), it made up for Cole being in there.  I liked how she came out and went after him immediately.  My other two favorite moments from the Rumble were KofiBourne in AirBoom, more on that in another post).

Socko meets the Cobra
Besides Kharma's few minutes in the Rumble, another memorable moment for me was the Cobra vs. Socko with Santino and Mick Foley.  It was comedy for sure, but in a match like the Rumble, you need some comedy relief too.

The crowd in St. Louis of course popped when Randy Orton came out.  I'm so glad he didn't win.  I really thought the Miz was going to take it all.  Then I figured Jericho would get the nod.  Sheamus' victory was not totally unexpected.  I'm not let down, nor am I super pumped either.  I'd say I'm indifferent about it.  It'll be interesting to see if he goes after Daniel Bryan (and if Bryan is still champ by Mania).  You'll remember last year the two were supposed to face off for the U.S. title in a lumberjack match that got demoted to the dark match and then became a battle royal.  Funny the difference a year can make...

Jericho hangs on... for now
My dream scenario was actually for Punk to enter the Rumble (since it was open to ANY superstar) and win.  Then go on to face Bryan at Mania and unify the titles.  I kinda felt like all the surprise entrants took away from guys on the undercard who could've been in the match, specially Brodus and McIntyre.  I'm also wondering where the other Uso brother was.

Quick fun fact, since 2005, the final two men in the ring at the Royal Rumble have been involved in WWE or World title matches at Wrestlemania (the exception, in 2011 with Santino and Alberto Del Rio).  So with that track record, I wonder if we'll see a Chris Jericho title match at Mania this year as well...

But overall, I loved the Royal Rumble.  It was really cool seeing it live and in person.  It's an experience I'll never forget, and I hope my son doesn't either.  These are the bonding moments that I remember having with my dad.  Now the Road to Wrestlemania is in high gear.  Can't wait for Miami!

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