When you think of U.S. cities with wrestling crowds that are going to voice their opinions no matter what, places like New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Chicago come to mind. As the 2014 Royal Rumble proved on Sunday night, it’s time to add Pittsburgh to that list.
The disapproval of the fans at the Consol Energy Center at how the Royal Rumble match went down will be the lasting memory for anyone who watched the show. Upset that Daniel Bryan wasn’t in the annual battle royal, the people in attendance booed the victory by Batista heartily, threatening to turn the returning superstar into a heel whether the WWE had planned it that way or not.
Bryan had lost clean to Bray Wyatt in the event’s fantastic opening match, so the fact that fans still expected him to enter and possibly win the Rumble is a testament to how truly over he is right now. He took to Twitter later in the night to state that “the machine” didn’t want him in the main event and that fans should keep making themselves heard, and even if that statement turns out to be a work, one can’t help but suspect it reflects his true feelings.
CM Punk and the Shield’s Seth Rollins entered the Rumble match first, and both lasted almost 50 minutes in the ring. Rollins’ teammate Roman Reigns took perhaps the biggest star turn on the night, breaking the record for most eliminations by tossing out 12 men. That tally included both Rollins and Dean Ambrose, something that probably won’t bode well for the ongoing unity of the Shield.
Previously unannounced entrants included Kane, NXT’s Alexander Rusev, Kevin Nash, the returning Sheamus, Los Matadores’ mascot El Torito and JBL (thrown out by Reigns after only seconds in the ring). But when Rey Mysterio entered in the 30th and final position and the crowd realized that Bryan wasn’t coming out, the booing began in earnest.
When the dust settled, the final four men vying for a WrestleMania main event slot were Punk, Reigns, Sheamus and Batista. Punk became the first to fall when Kane returned to ringside, eliminated him and sent him through the Spanish announce table with a choke slam.
Sheamus was next, going into the record books as Reigns’ final victim. A battle of spears ensued, but the Animal prevailed and locked up the WWE World Heavyweight title opportunity that was his stated goal during his first appearance on a WWE show in nearly four years earlier in the week.
Sheamus is upset that Dean Ambrose said that he wasn’t really missed.
Unless things change over the next few months (and that’s happened before), Batista will be trying to wrest the belt from Randy Orton, who retained his title in the night’s penultimate match. Though his defense against John Cena was a sloppy affair that won’t go down among the best work from either man, it proved to be little more than an apparent set-up for Cena’s next feud after Wyatt and wingmen Luke Harper and Erick Rowan cost him any chance at victory.
That leaves Bryan without a WrestleMania dance partner for now –- rumors have him facing Sheamus or the Undertaker depending on the source – but one thing’s for sure: if Pittsburgh is a reflection of the WWE Universe as a whole, there better be a good plan in place for him going forward or there are going to be more boos between now and April.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Elimination Chamber on February 17th.
Oh you didn’t know… the way we do this by now? Dale’s comments are in italics and Nick’s are in plain type.
Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt w/ Erick Rowan and Luke Harper
Bray tries to overpower Bryan, shoving him into the corner. Byran fights out, only to be taken down hard with a clothesline. Bryan responds with knees to the mid-section. Bray whips Bryan into the ropes; Bryan shoots off, dodges Bray and dives through the ropes to take out Harper. Bryan looks like he is in trouble, but Bray sends his troops to back, telling them he doesn’t need them to fight his war. Bryan nails Bray from behind and rolls him back into the ring. Bray reverses a whip but runs into a boot in the corner. Bryan climbs the turnbuckle, only to be chopped to the floor. Bryan ducks a charge from Bray, who collides with the ring steps and goes flying into the security barrier.
No! No! No! We must keep Daniel Bryan down!
Back in the ring, Bryan continues to focus on the injured leg of Bray. Bryan hangs him up the corner, delivering a dropkick to Wyatt’s leg. The two men trade blows on the apron and Bryan gets the worst of it, hitting the floor. Bray drags Bryan back into the ring and applies a rear chin lock. Bryan fights out only to be launched over the top rope. Bray splashes Bryan on the floor before rolling him back into the ring. Wyatt slams Bryan to the mat and goes to the corner. Bray crab walks out of the corner, freaking out everyone in the crowd. Bryan rolls away from an elbow drop after being slammed to the mat. Bryan flips over Bray in the corner, but then runs into a clothesline coming off the ropes. Bryan recovers to deliver a running tornado DDT off the apron to the floor. Bryan climbs the turnbuckle and finds the target with a missile drop kick. The crowd starts the “Yes!” chant as the kicks start to fly. Bryan follows with a running drop kick in the corner, but Bray explodes out of the corner and turns Bryan inside out with a clothesline. Bray sets up the Sister Abigail, but Bryan counters with a roll up. Bray kicks out, but Bryan is able to lock in the Yes Lock. Bray bites Bryan to escape, and the two men climb the turnbuckle. Bray hits the mat and Bryan splashes him. Wyatt rolls out to the ring to avoid the running knee. Bryan dives through the ropes, but Bray catches him and slams him into the security barrier with the Sister Abigail. Bray rolls Bryan back into the ring, hits him with another Sister Abigail. Wyatt covers and gets the win.
Winner… Bray Wyatt at 21 minutes and 30 seconds
Match Rating: 9.5/10
Renee Young talks to Paul Heyman, who puts over his client Brock Lesnar. Heyman says this is the dawning of a new era, one where the WWE will be dominated by Brock Lesnar.
He actually said that the WWE Universe was going to be “conquered and subjugated by Brock the Unmerciful.” Honestly, it’s like Heyman has an unending reservoir of this stuff. Out in the crowd, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is in the front row. Not just a giant Roethlisberger head, though there’s one of those too.
Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and Hacksaw Duggan participate in panel with Josh Mathews, each no doubt thinking they could win the event if Batista can.
Josh Mathews has a panel of Hall of Famers with him: Ric Flair, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Shawn Michaels. HBK says he will continue to put all his chips on Bryan despite the loss, the Nature Boy likes Lesnar over Show, and Duggan sticks with the giant. Kind of goofy, but that’s okay.
The Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar
The Big Show punches Brock Lesnar in the jaw, dealing with the painful molar that Brock had been complaining about.
Lesnar doesn’t wait for the bell, attacking Show as soon as he gets into the ring. Heyman slides a chair into the ring and Brock goes to town. The ref admonishes Lesnar, but still doesn’t call for the bell. Lesnar connects with another chair shot and Show rolls out of the ring. The ref asks Show if he is ready, but Brock attacks again. Brock demands for the bell to be rung as ref Mike Chioda rips the chair out of his hand. The bell rings as Heyman slides another chair into the ring. Show lands a big right as Brock was winding up for a finishing blow with the chair. Show can’t take advantage of a woozy Brock though. Show gets to feet, landing a body blow on Lesnar. Show whiffs on another punch and Lesnar is able to get him up for the F-5. Lesnar drives him into the mat and covers to get the win.
Winner… Brock Lesnar at 2 minutes and 2 seconds
Match Rating: 1/10
After the bell, Show is still prone in the ring. Lesnar grabs another chair to inflict more damage. Two chair shots cause Show to roll to the floor, but Brock just follows him to inflict more pain. After what seems like an eternity, Lesnar finally lets up and walks to the back.
Here’s what’s awesome about pro wrestling logic: Show is too hurt (in real life) to have much of a match? No problem. We’ll just have him take chair shots from a former UFC champion for like 15 minutes!
The Shield talks to the camera about how the hounds are on the loose to-night, even with 27 enemies in the ring. They make a bold prediction that they’ll be the last three left. Will they tell each other their entrance num-bers? Nope, apparently not. Elsewhere, Renee Young gets a word or two with Randy Orton. He scoffs at Lesnar and Batista and calls Wyatt a “Duck Dynasty reject.” Okay then.
John Cena (Challenger) vs. Randy Orton (Champion) – WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton contemplates a match against Batista at WrestleMania. Headlocks rule!
The duelling Cena chants get going early as Orton takes him right down to the mat. People are chanting for Bryan while Cena gets a quick near fall. The champ responds with a suplex and a head butt for a near fall. They battle outside the ring until Cena gets suplexed back in off the apron and has to kick out. Orton keeps the pressure on by hurling Cena into the steel steps, but the fans remain unimpressed. A DDT gets Orton another two count, but he stops to pose and Cena hits an electric chair drop for two. Cena runs through his usual comeback offense, though Orton interrupts the chain with a power slam for two. A full Nelson into a neck breaker gives Cena time to go up top, where he’s quickly met by Orton. They struggle until Cena prevails, but his top rope leg drop gets him only two more. The AA is countered by a neck breaker, though Cena is able to flip to the Orton out to the floor. His elevated DDT connects on the floor, putting him in control back in the ring. Cena rallies to apply the STF, but Orton grabs the ropes to escape and guillotines his challenger on the top rope. The Five Knuckle Shuffle is Cena’s response, but the ref ends up taking a bump, and Charles Robinson isn’t conscious to see Orton tap out to the STF. While Robinson gets checked out, Orton strikes with a title belt shot, yet Cena still manages to kick out at two. An Attitude Adjustment comes out of nowhere, and the fans chant “This is awful!” A series of quick reversals ends with Cena in the STF followed by Orton hitting the AA. he knew the right button presses! So does Cena, apparently, as he nails an RKO. The match rolls on as Cena puts Orton on the top rope. He looks for an AA from up there but has to switch gears into a tornado DDT. The STF is locked in again, and Orton is in trouble. The sudden arrival of the Wyatt Family changes that, and when the lights come back up, Orton hits an RKO to get the win.
Winner… and still WWE Heavyweight Champion … Randy Orton at 20 minutes and 54 seconds
Match Rating: 4/10
The new tag team champs show Young the correct way to introduce them. We see how the New Age Outlaws won the straps in the pre-show. And a bunch of superstars tell us why they’re going to win the Rumble match. We check in with the Hall of Fame panel to get their picks too.
The Royal Rumble
Royal Rumble Stats
|No. entered||No. eliminated|
|1 CM Punk||1 Damien Sandow|
|2 Seth Rollins||2 Kane|
|3 Damien Sandow||3 Alexander Rusev|
|4 Cody Rhodes||4 R-Truth|
|5 Kane||5 Jimmy Uso|
|6 Alexander Rusev||6 Jack Swagger|
|7 Jack Swagger||7 Kofi Kingston|
|8 Kofi Kingston||8 Dolph Ziggler|
|9 Jimmy Uso||9 Kevin Nash|
|10 Goldust||10 The Great Khali|
|11 Dean Ambrose||11 Cody Rhodes|
|12 Dolph Ziggler||12 Goldust|
|13 R-Truth||13 Fandango|
|14 Kevin Nash||14 El Torito|
|15 Roman Reigns||15 JBL|
|16 The Great Khali||16 The Miz|
|17 Sheamus||17 Jey Uso|
|18 The Miz||18 Erick Rowan|
|19 Fandango||19 Ryback|
|20 El Torito||20 Alberto Del Rio|
|21 Antonio Cesaro||21 Big E Langston|
|22 Luke Harper||22 Rey Mysterio|
|23 Jey Uso||23 Luke Harper|
|24 JBL||24 Antonio Cesaro|
|25 Erick Rowan||25 Seth Rollins|
|26 Ryback||26 Dean Ambrose|
|27 Alberto Del Rio||27 CM Punk|
|28 Batista||28 Sheamus|
|29 Big E Langston||29 Roman Reigns|
|30 Rey Mysterio|
Winner of the Royal Rumble: Batista
Time of the Rumble: 55 minutes and 7 seconds
Most Eliminations: Roman Reigns with 12
Shortest time in ring: JBL
Longest time in ring: CM Punk at 49 minutes and 12 seconds
|WHAT YOU THINK|
What did you think of the WWE Royal Rumble PPV?
It was great – 5%
It was okay – 19%
Didn’t like it – 46%
Didn’t see it – 31%
The John Morrison Memorial Award for longest time in the ring without a single elimination goes to Cody Rhodes, who spent 21 minutes and 4 seconds without tossing anyone over the rope.
Think Kofi Kingston has run out of awesome stuff to do in a Rumble match? Think again. First he was tossed out to the floor and caught by the already eliminated Rusev, who placed him on the barricade and was going to beat on him until the refs told him to head to the back. Kingston decided to leap from the barricade back to the apron, a long jump that he made look effortless. Later, he was in trouble again hanging by his feet on the bottom rope while his head was near the floor. He managed to take Jack Swagger’s boot off and hit him with it before getting back into the ring.
Even though Kane was the second man over the top rope, he came back to ringside to pull CM Punk over the top rope for the 27th elimination.
What, no Sting?
The only surprise entrants this year were Kevin Nash and Alexander Rusev, the latter because none of us watch NXT and didn’t have a clue who he was.
Total Event Time: 2 hours and 43 minutes
Event Rating: 6/10