For the second straight year, fans most likely came into the Royal Rumble without a very good idea of who might end up the winner. That’s not a bad thing, as unpredictability is the key to making the WWE’s second most famous pay-per-view event so much fun.
And just like in 2011, the Rumble itself did not disappoint, though the last man standing wasn’t as much of an underdog as Alberto Del Rio was a year ago. Despite going up against a final four brimming with world championship experience, Sheamus emerged with his hand raised in victory at the end of the night at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
The Miz appeared to be one of the favorites despite entering the Rumble first. He and Cody Rhodes both lasted over 40 minutes but fell just short of making the final four once the Big Show entered in the always desirable 30th spot. It paid to enter late this year, as Show, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton were the last three men down the ramp, and they joined Sheamus, who entered 22nd, to battle it out for the win.
Jericho finally ended his silence last week, and he wrestled for the first time since his most recent return. He managed to outlast both Orton and Big Show, leaving him just one elimination away from making good on his promise to end the world as we know it.
The final battle was a dramatic one, with both grapplers ending up over the top rope and on the apron multiple times. Jericho even did his best Shawn Michaels imitation, barely pulling off a cross-handed skinning of the cat to keep his feet off the floor.
Ultimately, Sheamus managed to overcome his more experienced foe and secure the coveted main event slot at WrestleMania XXVIII. He’ll get his choice of champions to challenge, though with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan both retaining their belts earlier in the show, it feels like the latter man (currently going through an extended heel turn) is more likely to end up in the sights of the Great White.
There were a few surprises within this year’s field of 30. The very first Royal Rumble winner, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, made sense as a tribute to the 25th anniversary of the event. Kharma also returned from her maternity leave, becoming just the third female to compete in the Rumble match.
All three announcers, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Booker T and Michael Cole, left the table to enter the battle royal. None lasted more than a few minutes, with Cole managing to survive the longest thanks to a host of preoccupied wrestlers when his number came up.
More comedic moments occurred when Ricardo Rodriguez hijacked his boss’ entrance to enter the match, getting joined shortly thereafter by Santino Marella. Mick Foley also drew some laughs by engaging Santino in a test of strength that was also a battle of socks between Socko and the Cobra.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Elimination Chamber on February 19th.
As always, Nick’s comments will appear in plain type while Dale’s thoughts appear in italics. Dale lost a coin toss for this privilege ages ago and the matter has never been revisited.
The Big Show (challenger) vs. Mark Henry (challenger) vs. Daniel Bryan (champion) – World Heavyweight Title Steel Cage Match
Bryan immediately tries to escape and is yanked off the cage by Mark Henry. The champ tries to climb out again as the big men brawl, but is brought back into ring by Big Show. Henry runs Bryan’s face into the cage, but then walks right into a big boot from Show. Henry and Show take turns beating on Bryan. The champ fights out of a choke slam from Show and counters into a tornado DDT. Show decks Henry with the right hand, and Bryan uses the opening to escape. Show catches the champ atop the cage, but Bryan wills himself over the top. Show catches Bryan by the wrist, dangling him outside the cage. Show tries to lift the champ back in, but Show loses his grip. Bryan hits the floor in a heap but retains his World Heavyweight Title.
Winner… and still World Heavyweight Champion… Daniel Bryan at 9 minutes and 6 seconds
Match Rating: 5/10
A video package explores the now-famous mixed reaction that John Cena gets from WWE fans and what he thinks about it. The segment is well done, and whoever put it together did an especially nice job getting fans to give some good sound bites. One problem: This is a pay-per-view, and this kind of thing would be better served on the regular shows, especially since it’s hyping up a match at a future PPV. Just saying.
Beth Phoenix, Natalya, and The Bella Twins vs. Kelly Kelly, Eve, Alicia Fox and Tamina
Yay, an eight-Diva tag team match (#fakeenthusiasm)! There is actually one cool spot about four minutes in when Kelly Kelly dives off the top rope onto all of the other women, who were out scrapping on the floor. Alas, poor Kelly falls victim to the Glam Slam just over a minute later, and she isn’t getting up from that.
Winners… Beth Phoenix, Natalya, and The Bella Twins at 5 minutes and 26 seconds
Match Rating: 3/10 (10/10 for the Bellas’ ring attire)
We flash back to last Monday to see Zack Ryder carted off in an ambulance. In the arena, John Laurinaitis greets Ryder and tells him anything he needs, he’ll get it. Eve comes by and reads the interim GM the riot act. Oh, and she hopes Johnny Ace gets fired tomorrow night. You mean “future endeavored,” don’t you?
John Cena vs. Kane
Nothing subtle here as they go right after each other. Kane gets thrown into the steps on the floor and almost falls prey to an Attitude Adjustment when he returns. Kane beats on Cena and hits a low drop kick to the face for a near fall. He gets two more in quick succession with a big right hand and a vertical suplex. Kane tries to suffocate Cena with his glove, but Cena gets low and counters with the STF. Kane manages to power out and hit a side slam that leaves both men down. He goes up top and hits his flying clothesline before signaling for the choke slam. Cena rallies with some shoulder blocks, but Kane stops him cold with a boot for another two count. Getting his second wind, Cena hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle off the top rope. They go back and forth before Kane takes the fight back out to the floor. At 10:58, the bell rings for a double countout. The brawling continues backstage with a steel chair coming into play. Kane halts his assault when he realizes he’s right in front of Ryder’s dressing room. Zack loses consciousness from Kane’s glove and gets wheeled out to the ramp. Kane dumps Ryder out of his chair and hauls him into the ring. Eve comes out to plead for her boyfriend but still has to see Zack get Tombstoned in front of her. Cena tries to save the day, but to no avail – he gets a choke slam, and Kane leaves him and Ryder out cold in the ring.
Double countout at 10 minutes and 58 seconds
Match Rating: 6.5/10
This time we visit with The Rock as he prepares for his WrestleMania match. Curiously, he claims that when he left, he didn’t just go away and never show his face around WWE programming. Um, actually Rock, you kind of did for the most part. One cool part here is seeing The Rock visiting his old high school in Hawaii.
Drew McIntyre vs. Brodus Clay
Really?!? A squash match during a PPV? We paid $55 for this! McIntyre gets in a few early blows, but the Funkasaurus gets his groove on, slamming McIntyre in the corner. Clay hits the What the Funk and covers for the win.
Winner… Brodus Clay at 1 minute and 4 seconds
Match Rating: NA/10 (8/10 for the funk)
Dolph Ziggler (challenger) vs. CM Punk (champion) – WWE Championship Match – John Laurinaitis Special Referee
Laurinaitis says that in the interest of fairness, he’s going to supervise the officiating from outside the ring and let a WWE official handle the calls in the squared circle. That referee sends Vickie Guerrero to the back, as per a stipulation from several weeks ago. Punk takes control early, mocking Ziggler a bit and doing his suicide dive out to the floor. Ziggler responds by knocking him off the top turnbuckle, nailing a neckbreaker and dropping a series of elbows. Punk catches a breather following a side suplex. It doesn’t last long, but after some mat wrestling, he manages to catch Ziggler coming off the ropes and hit a sitout power bomb for two. Continuing his momentum, Punk hits his high knee and running bulldog, and both men almost get the pinfall over the next minute or so. Punk flies to hit his big elbow for two, but he gets thrown into the ref right after that, and the official doesn’t see Ziggler tap to the Anaconda Vice. Laurinaitis is checking on the ref, so he doesn’t make the count when Punk rolls Ziggler up for at least three. Punk hoists Ziggler up for the GTS, though Laurinaitis takes a bump when they spin around. After a brief argument, Punk gets Ziggler up again, but Dolph reverses it into the Zig Zag, and the champ just barely beats the now-revived ref’s three count. A frustrated Ziggler rains down shots on Punk’s head. But he ends up getting a slingshot into the turnbuckle, and Punk hits him with another GTS. Laurinaitis comes in and joins the other ref in making the three count, “doing the right thing” as the champ retains.
Winner… and still WWE Champion… CM Punk 14 minutes and 29 seconds
Match Rating: 8.5/10
This Wednesday, get ready for WWE on YouTube. Watch it. You know they want you to.
The Royal Rumble
Royal Rumble Stats
|1 The Miz
|1 Alex Riley
|2 Alex Riley
|4 Cody Rhodes
|4 Justin Gabriel
|5 Justin Gabriel
|7 Mick Foley
|8 Ricardo Rodriguez
|9 Santino Marella
|9 Jerry Lawler
|10 Jinder Mahal
|11 Kofi Kingston
|11 Ezekiel Jackson
|12 Jerry Lawler
|12 Jim Duggan
|13 Ezekiel Jackson
|13 Booker T
|14 Jinder Mahal
|14 The Great Khali
|15 The Great Khali
|15 Michael Cole
|17 Booker T
|18 Dolph Ziggler
|18 Kofi Kingston
|19 Jim Duggan
|19 Road Dogg
|20 Michael Cole
|20 Jey Uso
|21 Wade Barrett
|22 David Otunga
|23 Road Dogg
|23 Jack Swagger
|24 Jey Uso
|24 The Miz
|25 Jack Swagger
|25 Cody Rhodes
|26 Wade Barrett
|26 Dolph Ziggler
|27 David Otunga
|27 Big Show
|28 Randy Orton
|28 Randy Orton
|29 Chris Jericho
|29 Chris Jericho
|30 Big Show
Winner of the Royal Rumble: Sheamus
Time of the Rumble: 54 minutes and 54 seconds
Most Eliminations: Cody Rhodes with five
Shortest time in ring: Epico at 21 seconds
Longest time in ring: The Miz at 45 minutes and 43 seconds
The John Morrison Memorial Award for longest time in the ring without an elimination goes to Kofi Kingston, who spent 18 minutes and 15 seconds without tossing anyone over the rope.
Kofi also channeled his inner John Morrison when he was almost eliminated, but saved himself with a handstand.
Even though Karma get credit for the elimination, Michael Cole fled to the apron when she stared him down. He was then pulled off the apron by Booker T and Jerry Lawler, who had already been eliminated.
The Miz and R-Truth got to renew their rivalry early on with Truth entering third. Alas, even Little Jimmy couldn’t save Truth from a relatively quick exit.
Three words: Socko versus Cobra. #nuffsaid
Ricardo Rodriguez actually got a “Ricardo” chant from the fans when he appeared to Alberto Del Rio’s music. He also entered in a beat up sports car with at least one window smashed out.
Total Event Time: 2 hours and 49 minutes
Event Rating: 6.5/10
Like Jericho, Dale Plummer and Nick Tylwalk failed in their attempt to “end the world as we know it,” choosing to stick to the tried and true instead of revolutionizing pay-per-view recaps. Express your disappointment with Dale on Twitter or by email and do the same to Nick on Twitter, on Google+ or by email.