Some Random Thoughts on the Royal Rumble

The hot topic following last night’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view is the crowd reaction based on Daniel Bryan not appearing in the Rumble match. It’s unfortunate since there were other notable occurrences at the show, like Roman Reigns clearly being pushed with his record-setting 12 Rumble eliminations, Bray Wyatt’s continued ascension to the top of the card and the return of Sheamus. Here are some more random musings about WWE’s second biggest show of the year:

• The opening Bryan v. Bray Wyatt match was incredible. So many little details that made it shine, the crowd was so hot for it and Bray going over clean says a lot about the direction they’re going with him. I thought him coming after John Cena later in the night cemented him as a rising star in 2014.

• Sure, Daniel Bryan told us Monday in a roundabout way that he wouldn’t be competing in the Rumble match. But having him lose in the opener sure sent a signal that he was going to enter the Rumble and have a solid run, if not win. On the other hand, I think keeping him completely out of the Rumble was the right call since he wasn’t going to win. WWE has painted themselves into a corner with Bryan’s booking and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

• The crowd went into business for themselves right from the start of the Cena v. Randy Orton match. While it’s entertaining to see a crowd express its displeasure over the match they’re getting, it certainly takes away from the action. In this case, the action was very serviceable. In fact, I enjoyed the match. But WWE fans are ready to move into a new era, without John Cena and Randy Orton clogging up the main event.

• That, coupled with the lack of Daniel Bryan, is why the crowd boo’ed so hard when Batista won the Rumble. Had Roman Reigns come out victorious, the crowd would have popped, simply because he’s one of the new guard. I think WWE is seriously overvaluing Batista in terms of his crossover potential and Batista reportedly flipping off the crowd after the show isn’t going to make anything better.

Bryan v. Wyatt Added to Royal Rumble Card

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The Royal Rumble match card is pretty much all set now that Bray Wyatt v. Daniel Bryan has been added to the card, and CM Punk has been announced as entrant number one into the Rumble match. 20 participants have also been announced for the Rumble – with Wade Barrett inexplicably being removed from the list – leaving 10 spots remaining for surprises.

30-Man Royal Rumble Match
Announced participants are:
Batista, Alberto Del Rio, Rey Mysterio, Goldust, Cody Rhodes, CM Punk, Big E Langston, The Miz, R-Truth, Xavier Woods, Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, Kofi Kingston, Fandango, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Damien Sandow, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
John Cena v. Randy Orton

Daniel Bryan v. Bray Wyatt

Big Show v. Brock Lesnar

Kickoff Show: WWE Tag Team Championship Match
The New Age Outlaws v. Cody Rhodes & Goldust

Current Royal Rumble Participants and Full PPV Card

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The Royal Rumble comes to you live on pay-per-view Sunday, January 26th, from CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA. So far three matches have been announced for the card, with 12 wrestlers currently entered in the Royal Rumble match.

Royal Rumble Match
Announced participants:
Batista
Alberto Del Rio
Goldust
Cody Rhodes
CM Punk
Big E Langston
R-Truth
The Miz
Fandango
Rey Mysterio
Xavier Woods
Kofi Kingston

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
No Countouts, No Disqualifications
John Cena v. Randy Orton

Big Show v. Brock Lesnar

Ringside Reads: Opinions of Raw, Best of Nitro pics, Rumble fanfest

episodeYour Tuesday afternoon wrestling linkage:

– Author Kevin Sullivan weighs in with his Weekly Top Five from last night’s Raw, giving Paul Heyman the number one spot.

– Arda Ocal of The Score gives his thoughts on Raw at the Baltimore Sun‘s Ring Posts blog.

– Of course, don’t forget to check out my recap of the show.

WWEDVDNews has some exclusive photos of the upcoming Best of Nitro collection.

And some Royal Rumble related reading:

– Our friends at TnF Wrestling recap the pay-per-view.

– The aforementioned Arda Ocal has some thoughts and interviews from the Royal Rumble fanfest.

2013 Royal Rumble recap: An entertaining, if predictable, pay-per-view

Image courtesy WWE.com
WWE put on an entertaining, if predictable, Royal Rumble pay-per-view last night in which the crowd was hot for most of the night and the match quality was very good. The Rock won the WWE Championship and John Cena won the Royal Rumble, likely setting up the “Twice in a Lifetime” rematch at WrestleMania XXIX.

– The pre-show United States Championship match between Antonio Cesaro and The Miz was your typical Miz match until he landed awkwardly from a top-rove move, apparently twisting his ankle. Miz tried to work through it but was clearly hobbled. The finish was awkward as well as Cesaro threw Miz into the ring from the outside and then hit the Neutralizer with no real progression and got the win. Obviously that had to do with Miz being legitimately hurt so we can’t fault them too much for how this all went down.

– The Last Man Standing match between Alberto Del Rio and Big Show was better than expected. Usually I don’t have high hopes for LMS matches because it’s basically, “hit a move… stand there” forever, but this one had some good spots. Big Show’s chokeslam of Del Rio off the staging onto a table with no padding underneath was probably the highlight of those. I don’t like the Cena-Batista finish off taping Big Show’s legs to the ropes so he couldn’t stand, but it was clever and Del Rio is over huge right now, so it made sense to keep the belt on him somehow. I like that WWE is going for a sort of Eddie Guerrero-esque “lie, cheat, steal” face gimmick with Del Rio and Ricardo.

– Team Hell No defeated Rhodes Scholars to retain in the Tag Team Championship match. Nothing stellar, but not boring either. Keeping the belts on Team Hell No allows them to keep their comedy act going, although I don’t think they need the straps to continue that. While Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes would have benefited from winning the titles, they should be okay as well. That is, as long as WWE re-invests itself in the tag team division once again.

– Other than the somewhat predictable conclusion, the Royal Rumble match featured some nice surprises. The biggest surprise was Chris Jericho entering at number two and then remaining in the Rumble almost to the end. It’s a testament to the athletic conditioning of Jericho that he hasn’t wrestled since August and was able to come back and go as long as he did. We also got the returns of Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara and Santino Marella, and likely one-off surprise appearances from Goldust and The Godfather.

When Dolph Ziggler, who entered at number one, was finally eliminated by Sheamus, it seemed to take the air out of the crowd, as did John Cena’s anti-climactic victory. Once Cena ended the Rumble match, it was safe to assume The Rock would be beating CM Punk, which also took a little steam out of the crowd for that match as well.

– The WWE Championship match was much better than Rock’s bout with John Cena at WrestleMania, as one would expect. I wouldn’t call it a wrestling classic, but Rock was always known to be able to go in the ring and CM Punk is one of the best at putting on an exciting match. This one felt a little like a late-1990s match with a lot of outside the ring action and we got a scary moment when the Spanish announce table gave out on the competitors as The Rock was trying to give CM Punk a Rock Bottom. The lights went out as The Rock was about to hit the People’s Elbow and Michael Cole told us that The Shield was powerbombing Rock through the announce table. When the lights came back on, The Rock was out cold and The Shield were nowhere to be found. Punk pinned the Rock to retain the title.

After some celebration by Punk and Paul Heyman, Vince McMahon appeared and told Punk he had no choice but to strip him of the title, but The Rock spoke up and said, instead, to restart the match. After a few minutes, The Rock completed the People’s Elbow and won the belt.

While many thought The Rock would win, I absolutely hated that it was off the People’s Elbow. He couldn’t have at least finished Punk with the Rock Bottom? It seems like we’re headed for Rock-Cena II at WrestleMania but I’m curious to see the twists in the road as we get there. I’m also wondering if we get a swerve and it turns out Brock Lesnar was the man who attacked The Rock when the lights went out.

2013 Royal Rumble Preview

punkrockWWE Championship Match
The Rock v. CM Punk

If we follow “Wrestling Booking 101,” all signs point to The Rock winning this match since he was laid out by The Shield and Vince McMahon added the stipulation that CM Punk will be stripped of the title if Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns interfere. But that caveat – McMahon only mentioning The Shield – leaves the door open a bit. Might we see Brock Lesnar? Will Brad Maddox be involved?

Or, they could just book CM Punk to win the title without a ton of shenanigans for once, but that’s not how WWE books heels.

While my preference is that CM Punk retains the title, it seems like we’re destined for a Rock v. John Cena rematch at WrestleMania where Cena will avenge his loss to The Great One and regain the WWE Championship. Plus, The Rock swore to God that he would win the title and when faces do things like that, they usually happen.

Royal Rumble Match

As I mentioned, the common thought is that John Cena wins the Rumble and challenges The Rock at WrestleMania. I hate that idea. John Cena doesn’t need to win the Rumble match to get a title shot. From a booking standpoint, Cena has always been tossed into title bouts without “climbing the ladder” or winning any No. 1 contender matches. So why waste such a coveted thing as winning the Royal Rumble on someone who has already been a champion many times over? You can get to Cena v. Rock without Cena winning the Rumble.

Monday’s development of Dolph Ziggler entering either first or second makes me wonder if we’re about to see a Ric Flair-esque start-to-finish Rumble win. While Ziggler already has the Money in the Bank briefcase, it would seriously legitimize him as a main event player and potential double future champion if he wins the Rumble.

Or could we see one of the surprise entrants win the match? Rumors have been floated that The Undertaker is set to appear at the Rumble and him winning and challenging one of the champions at WrestleMania would help make him possibly losing the streak believable.

World Heavyweight Championship Last Man Standing Match
Big Show v. Alberto Del Rio

I think Del Rio retains here since he’s a newly minted babyface and the crowds have been really into him lately. The match type also enables whomever wins to be so beaten down that Dolph Ziggler could easily cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase. Imagine “The Showoff” becoming World Heavyweight Champion and then winning the Royal Rumble in the same night, while going start-to-finish to do it? Talk about “making a star.”

WWE Tag Team Championship Match
Rhodes Scholars v. Team Hell No

I refuse to call them “Team” Rhodes Scholars.

This one could go either way. Kane and Daniel Bryan probably don’t need the tag team titles to continue their comedy act together, whereas Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow would benefit from holding the straps. I see Rhodes Scholars becoming the champs, which allows Kane and Bryan to continue their partnership but also veer off into some singles programs before WrestleMania.

Preshow: WWE United States Championship Match
The Miz v. Antonio Cesaro

This match is on the pre-show as a way to entice viewers to buy the pay-per-view, but I’d much rather it be part of the main card. Being that it isn’t, I think Cesaro probably retains the US Title. Also, I wouldn’t pull the belt off him just yet as he’s seriously gaining momentum.

2012 Royal Rumble results and recap

Sheamus, the 2012 Royal Rumble winner

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.