Photo courtesy WWE.com
Last night’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view was… a pay-per-view. It certainly didn’t have that big time atmosphere we expect from one of WWE’s marquee events. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan retained their titles, John Cena and Kane fought to a double countout, the Funkasaurus won another squash, Sheamus is going to WrestleMania, and some women wrestled.
The night wasn’t without its notable moments, however, as the Royal Rumble match gave us a lot of campy comedy but also some memorable entrants. On the campy comedy side, Mick Foley and Santino had a Cobra v. Socko battle and all three announcers – Booker T, Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole – entered the match. That must have been what WWE was going for by hammering us over the head that anyone on the roster could enter the contest.
The entry of Michael Cole did lead to the return of Kharma, who eliminated Cole and Hunico before being tossed by Dolph Ziggler. First ever Royal Rumble winner Hacksaw Jim Duggan and the Road Dogg were surprise legends entrants.
Below is a match-by-match breakdown of the 2012 Royal Rumble:
Triple Threat Cage Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Daniel Bryan (C) defeated Big Show and Mark Henry
Mark Henry was very limited in this match, which basically turned into a one-on-one Show v. Bryan contest. It was okay for what it was and the ending made sense, with Show grabbing Bryan as he tried to escape the cage, then finally losing his grip on the champion. One thing that distracted me during the match was Michael Cole’s wishy washy commentary, changing from praising Daniel Bryan for his heel antics but then remembering he is supposed to hate Daniel Bryan and bashing him again.
Beth Phoenix, Natalya and the Bella Twins defeated Kelly Kelly, Tamina, Eve and Alicia Fox
Typical divas fare, although we did see a top rope dive from Kelly Kelly onto all the divas on the floor. As you would guess, there was “twin magic,” an Eve booty pop, Kelly Kelly handspring elbow, and not enough Beth Phoenix and Tamina ring time. Hopefully with the return of Kharma, the women’s division will focus more on wrestling, but it doesn’t seem promising.
John Cena and Kane fought to a Double Countout
The match itself was pretty good, with Cena getting his typical shtick in but Kane always having an answer. The double countout was predictable since it protects both men. I really didn’t mind Kane wheeling Zack Ryder out to the arena and then demolishing the Long Island Broski and John Cena, logic of him not just taking care of business in the back aside. There was some continuation of Eve’s feeling that Cena is responsible for Ryder’s injuries and I’m assuming that will play out a little more on Raw.
Brodus Clay defeated Drew McIntyre
Basic Funkasaurus match… Dance, squash, dance. The demise of Drew McIntyre continues.
WWE Championship Match
CM Punk defeated Dolph Ziggler
There was just way too much John Laurinaitis in this match. The in-ring action was great, as you would expect from Ziggler and Punk. With Triple H coming back on Raw to rule on whether or not Johnny Ace keeps his job, the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and Interim Raw General Manager couldn’t screw Punk as planned. Even though he teased it, you knew it wasn’t happening.
I have no problem with that, really. What was worse was how much all those shenanigans took away from Dolph Ziggler. He became a sidecar to the Punk-Laurinaitis motorcycle. Hopefully Ziggler stays in the title chase because the guy is one of the best in the business right now.
Sheamus wins the Royal Rumble match
The final four came down to Big Show, Randy Orton, Sheamus and Chris Jericho. Show and Orton quickly were eliminated, which took a little steam out of the crowd. While I’ll admit I thought Jericho was an obvious choice to win, Sheamus is deserving of a title run once again. It just doesn’t feel that special since he’s been buried in his beef with Jinder “please hate this man” Mahal. Sheamus was well down my list of potential Rumble winners heading in but we’ll see how WWE builds this heading into WrestleMania. I would guess that Sheamus challenges for the Big Gold Belt since CM Punk v. Chris Jericho at ‘Mania makes so much sense it would be hard to pass up.
As I mentioned before there was too much campy comedy in this Rumble. Did we really need to see Michael Cole in the match? I didn’t mind Lawler and Booker T, in fact I mostly suspected it, but Cole? The Foley-Santino stuff was cute at first but got old fast, as mostly everything WWE thinks is funny does.
Ricardo Rodriguez appearing in full Alberto Del Rio mode was pretty good and was one of the minor hits in an otherwise underwhelming Rumble match. Kharma returning was a welcomed surprise but it would have made more sense for her to come out after Kelly Kelly hit all the divas with the dive off the top rope during the women’s match.