-We are live from my brother Josh’s house in rural New Jersey, where the snow is plenty, and the salty snacks are….uhh…equally plenty? It’s the 23rd annual World Wrestling Entertainment Royal Rumble, and, as we all know, this is an event that is IMPOSSIBLE to screw up. Unless Vince wins it.
-Tonight, I’m joined by my brother Josh (well, duh), and our long time friends Dave and Rob, all of whom are wrestling fans. Well, actually, Josh only cares for the major events these days, Dave’s mostly given up due to the crappy booking, and Rob’s been out of the loop since Billy and Chuck’s wedding (he never got over Crash Holly’s death, but that’s because he just found out about it last week. From me. Talk about out of the loop….)
-Jack Korpela’s 30 minute hard sell precedes the big event. Insert “Bud Bundy” joke here.
-The promo video features the bigger stars on the roster proclaiming themselves to be “The One”. Like Neo? Well, Ted Dibiase’s proven to have his acting range….
-Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Matt Striker are our hosts for the evening. Well, if it keeps Josh Mathews off camera, then I’m all for it. His only good quality is his speaking voice, which sounds like that of Eric Gargiulo before puberty. I kid, Eric’s all man, and is the greatest indie commentator of all time (I love you, Eric, please don’t get rid of me). My brother takes this time to say “This better be worth $45”, which is a not so subtle reminder for Dave and I to reach for our wallets. Gracious host you are, Josh.
-Lawler calls the Rumble “his favorite pay per view of the year”. What’d Wrestlemania and its explosive budget ever do to you?
-Up first, Christian defends his ECW Championship against Ezekiel “Bad News Brown meets Dr. Bannister” Jackson. One Mississippi, two Mississ—oh sorry, ECW Title match. These usually don’t get more than 20 seconds on PPV. Oh wait, looks like WWE’s feeling generous tonight!
-Past three minutes, shockingly, and dare I say Ezekiel’s looking fairly solid. Christian’s reining him in superbly, as a veteran should. Though my friends and I can’t get past Ezekiel’s wrinkled head. If those rolls sagged anymore, he’d have the King Kong Bundy Memorial Neck-Roll going.
-Between Christian’s clap-happiness and Ezekiel’s super stiff clotheslines, I feel like I’m watching an extended “feature bout” on All American Wrestling. Feel free to wikipediate that one, kids.
-Christian lands the Killswitch and retains the gold. I thought they might drop it to Zeke, so that Christian would have no strings for a brand jump. I loudly wonder if Christian will enter the Rumble and win it, just so he challenge for a different title and abandon ECW post haste.
-Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes have a manly heart to heart while a pink shirt is visible on a hanger behind them. If that wasn’t intentional subtlety, then I’ll just pretend that it is.
-Thank you, Skillet, for the PPV theme. The viewing group goes around the room suggesting better names for the band, such as “Wok”, “Strainer”, “Frying Pan”, and “Anything”.
-Ooooh, bonus match between MVP and The Miz for the US Title. Works for me. I’m digging the mic work between the two, so I’m happy to see them. Especially if it subtracts from Michelle McCool later on.
-Wow, the crowd’s really into this one. Scarily enough, they’re behind Miz about 85%. See what happens when a good talker reaches the audience. Just please, Stu Hart in the Heavens, don’t turn Miz face. Remember Randy Orton in 2004, Vince. Remember Orton.
-Miz wins a short-but-sweet one, clean as a sheet. Kinda dumb to end it like that, given that MVP’s whole mantra is standing up to the stuck-up snob, and needs to be able to fight from underneath. Afterward, MVP lays out Miz to a chorus of boos. C’mon, WWE, Atlanta likes for their losers to lose graciously. WCW curled up, accepted defeat, and died easily, you know. It’s how the city rolls.
-William Shatner’s hosting Raw! Rob and I reminisce about his singing endeavors. I think I would actually cheer Triple H if he came out to Mr. Tambourine Man.
-Here we go, Sheamus and Randy Orton for the WWE Title. Michael Cole tells us that Sheamus is a star, and, well, is Cole ever wrong? Sheamus already has Rob’s support, due to Rob’s personal mantra: if he’s Irish, he’s my hero. The only Irishman Rob doesn’t like is Bobby Sands, mostly because he let food go to waste.
-Orton wins the crowd’s hearts, mostly because he’s not Sheamus. Sheamus busts out the 1978 offense with a Polish hammer. Do Warsaw and Dublin have a grudge of any kind? I want to make a good ethnic joke, but I want to make sure that the circumstances are perfect. Oh well, the mood’s passed.
-While the pace slows down, now’s a good time to mention that Lawler’s actually calling the match. Matt Striker’s like a miracle worker. He gets people to do their jobs and do them efficiently. If he worked on the production staff for Waterworld, I believe that the movie would have turned a profit four times over. Really.
-Oops, Cody Rhodes just got Orton disqualified. Lame. The Legacy troubles continue as Orton punks out both Cody and Ted Dibiase before getting laid out by Sheamus. So, in the pecking order, the ruler is the red headed Irish guy. I never would have guessed that the brain trust of WWE would be named “McMahon” with THAT kind of logic.
-We have nothing left to say, except for Dave noting that Orton made it the whole match with nary a chinlock. Must be a personal record. Also, I decided that Sheamus looks like a cross between Conan “Coco” O’Brien and The Warlord. My new name for him: The Coke Lord.
(See? Now even YOU would cheer for him with THAT name)
-Michelle McCool vs. Mickie James is up next. I have no patience to watch the promo video, so I go to piss and Rob goes to smoke, leaving Josh and Dave to deal with the horror. I emerge from the bathroom five minutes later (also checking my facebook mobile in the interim), only to find Josh and Dave with bewildered looks on their face. I don’t know if that’s the reaction that WWE wanted with the “Piggy James” angle, but there you go.
-Michelle McCool cuts an in ring promo. Dave laments that he wishes he’d taken up smoking like Rob.
-Mickie wins in 20 seconds. So glad that we got a blowaway pay-off for THAT epic feud. Rob lumbers back to find that the match is over. The real winner: big tobacco.
-Now THIS should be interesting: Undertaker vs. Rey Mysterio for the World Heavyweight Title, in their first ever singles match. We’ll all intrigued, because there’s no real angle here (barring Batista’s hatred of both). I guess it’ll be just a straight up, one on one match, one with no chicanery, where the best man wins. Wait, isn’t that what each match is supposed to be in theory? Why did it sound so ironic?
-Undertaker’s unitard is on loan from the Steve Borden Collection. The guyliner is Undertaker’s show of solidarity for Adam Lambert, who is at the Grammys and couldn’t be at the Rumble in person. After all, Adam Lambert = kid friendly.
-Typical Mysterio ingenuity, with Taker’s pacing. It’s an unusual combination, but it just works. These two men just don’t have bad matches anymore. Having a good match is more about experience and instinct, as opposed to complicated hard-landing maneuvers. Hate to break it to certain people. *COUGH*SMARKS*COUGH*.
-For instance, Undertaker tries his usual moves and Rey has a brand new counter for them. Same in reverse, as Taker has some neato reversals to Rey’s offerings. Tell me that’s not appealing from a fan’s standpoint. Two guys who have been overexposed can have a fun match with just some minor tweaks. I feel like I’m explaining how a light switch works.
-Blood! Oh, wow, someone better clean Taker off, or Linda will lose her Senate bid! Or something.
-Undertaker wins it with the Last Ride. Great exhibition, fun match, not enough superlatives in the world. No wonder WWE doesn’t turn over the roster with regularity anymore: they don’t want to lose the guys that have these great instincts. Yeah, Triple H is a political wank, but when does he have bad matches anymore? There’s something to be said about timing and experience inside the ring.
-Interesting segment, as Shawn Michaels is watching backstage on a monitor, only to be approached by Kane, who has some words with him, and then leaves the dressing room. My question: was Kane just hanging out in Shawn’s locker room and Shawn didn’t notice him? You have no idea the psychological effect this had on us.
–Royal Rumble time! Always good fun. I’m giddy. Can you tell?
-#1 is Dolph Ziggler, #2 is Evan Bourne. Well, looks like no one’s going coast to coast THIS year. After some standard opening exchanges, CM Punk (along V for Serena) is #3, quickly dumping both, just so he can pontificate to the masses on the wonders of Straight-Edginess and the perils of showering. Well, he’s got me half-interested.
-#4 is JTG, and he’s in and out. More preaching from Punk. Until Great Khali comes in at #5 and Punk offers some life lessons. Maybe he’ll teach him some new moves. Khali doesn’t like the idea of learning and attacks, but Beth Phoenix(?) is #6. She manages to dump Khali via a kiss. Quite frankly, I’m not sure who I feel more sorry for.
-After Punk gives Beth a stiff GTS and tosses her, Zack Ryder is #7. Punk doesn’t even waste his breath. Love ya, Punk. Ryder’s sent home to Snooki. Triple H is #8. Yeah, I think the sermon is over.
-Hunter’s in a good mood, and lets Punk live until #9 (Drew McIntyre) before sending him flying. What’s up with Hunter’s gut? Sympathy weight? Is Stephanie pregnant again? Maybe Hunter should have let Punk save him from the pitfalls of Ring Dings.
-Here comes Mid Card Mania! Ted Dibiase (#10), Kane (#11), John Morrison (#12), and Cody Rhodes (#13). If Hunter were Britney, then we know who the back-up dancers are
-MVP is #14, but Miz punks him out to keep the feud alive. Carlito is #15, Miz himself is #16. And hereeee comes MVP to take Miz and himself out. See, the US Title is more important than Wrestlemania to MVP. Barry Windham would be so proud.
-After Matt Hardy goes in and out at #17 (running away from conflict?), Shawn Michaels intercedes at #18 and helps Hunter clean house of, well, everyone. Until….
-John Cena is #20. Something’s gotta give! Or sell.
-And it’s….Triple H who gets dumped out by Shawn! WOAH. Our friend Dave claps at this development. Dave is a lifelong Bret Hart fan who went through homicidal rage after Montreal, and has made it clear that Shawn Michaels is welcome to die at anytime. So how much does Dave hate HHH? He clapped for Shawn. Highlight of the night for me.
-After some quick eliminations (Shelton Benjamin at #21, Yoshi Tatsu at #22), we come roaring down the homestretch with Big Show at #23. He brought his working boots too, working a fun sequence with Shawn and Cena that teases eliminations for all. But, you know, they’re not HALF the worker that Austin Aries is.
-Mark Henry in at #23, Chris Masters in at #24. Hold me back.
-R-Truth is #25 and he dumps Henry and Show together! If you had $10 in the “I’ll bet R-Truth dumps two 400+ pounders at the same time” pool, then you’re going to Hell for lying.
-Jack Swagger comes running in at #26, giving a visual to Denis Leary’s “handicapped people make handicapped faces” lyric. I apologize for the tastelessness of that statement. Nobody, no matter how retarded, looks as goofy as Swagger.
-I should note that Masters was eliminated a while ago. I just now noticed. Whoops.
-“You think you know me…”
-Yup, Edge is #29 and Jericho’s about to take the worst beating of his life since….well, last week. Sure enough, 320 pound Adam Copeland is a house of fire! Just don’t hit him in the legs, guys, we may need him. There goes Jericho, for the record. Guess that would be his “punishment”
-Batista rounds out the field at #30, after Kofi and Swagger both go. Tremendous final four, as you’re still clueless as to who has this one won. Compare it to 1998, when the field was Austin, a still-midcard Rock, Dude Love, and Faarooq. Well, that’s one up over the Attitude Era. Still down by 47,000 points overall, though.
-Shawn bites the bullet first, and then he flips out over having to job. For those wondering what life was like backstage in 1995, here you go. Though it’s missing the part where Shawn has to step over the passed out carcass of Louie Spicolli to complain about doing a job.
-Batista goes next, leading us to think that Cena’s going to dump the lethargic Edge and get his vengeance on Coke Lord at Wrestlemania, but fate throws us a curveball. Edge tosses Cena to win and the place comes unglued. I’m in a room where I’m the least jaded fan (that’s saying something) and we all marked hard for the finish. Then we all fell back into our chairs because, well, we’re in our twenties and thirties. We can only mark twice a night before our bodies give out.
And so it was a fun night. Good wrestling, good twists, exactly what a PPV should be. So maybe I’ll stop being cynical for a little while and let the kid in me take over.
Maybe we’ll hire Matt Striker to rein us in on our jobs as “fans”.
Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for WrestlingNewsSource.com and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.
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