WWE Royal Rumble - Jan 29, 2011
-From Boston, MA.
-This is a first-time review for me, as it’s based on my live experience at the show. I would say that it ranks fairly high on the list of live events I’ve been to. The TD Bank Garden was legitimately sold out with a great mix of young and older fans. I saw a lot of excited little kids in John Cena gear and a lot of 30 something year olds decked out in ROH merch.
-Our hosts for the evening were Michael Cole (who received great heat during his entrance), Jerry Lawler, and Matt Striker.
-The dark match was R-Truth beating Curt Hawkins in about two minutes.
World Heavyweight Championship:
This started as a fairly cookie cutter match. Edge was in full control for the first few minutes until Ziggler tricked him with a kick to the chest while getting back into the ring. After a standard first half, this match really picked it up several notches. What stands out in my mind is how comfortable Ziggler looked here, as if he belonged. That should go a long way in his continued push and elevation in the company. The final stretch was full of convincing near falls. The story of Edge’s spear being illegal in the match was a nice touch as well. The crowd groaned later on when the referee took a bump, but it gave Edge to be the anti-hero and deliver the spear anyway. It was also nice to see Edge break out the sharpshooter and Edgecution. Ziggler hit his Zig Zag finisher and got the type of near fall that you usually see in Ring of Honor main events. Basically, this was a great showing for both men, especially when you consider how rare successful title defenses are for Edge, ***ľ.
Edge © vs. Dolph Ziggler (with Vickie Guerrero)
Winner at 20:45 and still World Champion: Edge
This one began on the fairly dull side as well. Orton doesn’t seem too interested in bringing his “A” game when it comes to elevating fresh World Champions. His performance here was reminding me of the previous Royal Rumble event, when he phoned it in against Sheamus. However, things picked up when the overbooking started to go into full effect. The New Nexus came out for a distraction but Orton tossed an interfering Alex Riley over the ropes onto them. Things shifted gear when CM Punk rolled into the ring and hit Orton with the Go To Sleep. It appears that Orton/Punk is the direction for Wrestlemania instead of Cena/Punk. With Orton dazed, Miz managed to get the pin, which was a surprise because I had predicted a DQ finish going into the match. Michael Cole’s celebration was hilarious. Overall, this wasn’t bad, so **˝.
The Miz © (with Alex Riley) vs. Randy Orton
Winner at 19:48 and still WWE Champion: The Miz
-Todd Grisham announces that Cody Rhodes will not be a part of the Rumble match, due to the face injuries he received at the feet of Rey Mysterio.
-Michelle McCool, Layla, and Natalya come out for their scheduled Divas title handicap match. The anonymous Raw general manager changes the match to be a four-way. This caused a stir in my section because we were hoping the surprise would be Awesome Kong. Instead, we got Eve. The building was generally deflated by this development.
I would dare say this was better than your average WWE divas match, though it overstayed it’s welcome by a few minutes. The highlight was when Natalya applied a sharpshooter Eve and Layla at the same time. Anyhow, slightly screwy finish sees Michelle covering Natalya as Eve delivers a moonsault onto Layla. The referee only sees Eve’s cover, giving her the win and the title. Not much to complain about here, **.
Natalya © vs. Michelle McCool vs. Layla vs. Eve
Winner at 5:11 and new Divas Champion: Eve
-Daniel Bryan and Gail Kim are being interviewed backstage about Bryan’s Rumble chances when the Bella twins interrupt. This leads to a cat fight among the ladies, with Bryan being stuck in the middle again. I missed most of this as I was in the facility.
Royal Rumble match:
As you know, this was the “biggest Royal Rumble in history” as there were 40 participants instead of the traditional 30. I think it worked well. CM Punk was the first entrant and was immediately attacked by Wade Barrett’s Corre group. The New Nexus made the save for a massive brawl. Michael Cole cleared the ring by saying the Raw GM would disqualify all of them from the match otherwise. Daniel Bryan was the #2 entrant and things got awesome from here. There were dueling chants as Punk and Bryan fought and did a good job eliminating Justin Gabriel and Zack Ryder to maintain their singles fight. William Regal ended up joining the fray, which only added another element of awesomeness. Seriously, I had chills during this stretch, as hearing the sold out Garden chant for both Punk and Bryan still feels surreal. The ring began to fill up from here. John Morrison entered and saved himself in awesome fashion. Regal knocked him off the apron but he landed on the barricade and jumped back onto the steel steps. I hear Morrison’s performance won him quite a few supporters in the back so hopefully he receives a more consistent push from this point on. Chavo Guerrero also got a memorable run by hitting suplexes on anyone who came near him (to a nice baby face reaction from the audience).
Unfortunately, the fun and good times of the first stretch came to an end when the ring filled up with Nexus members. The group eliminated everyone else and stood on guard to toss out whoever joined them (victims included Tyler Reks, Vladimir Kozlov, R-Truth, and the returning Great Khali). The building erupted when BOOKER T made his not-so-surprise return. Booker cleaned house on the Nexus and showing off with a spinaroonie. Nexus brute Mason Ryan tossed Booker to general crowd disappointment. Business picked up because John Cena joined the match and went on a Nexus eliminating spree. Hornswoggle joined the match and basically overstayed his welcome by about ten minutes as he and Cena “hilariously” embarrassed the heels for a long stretch. With CM Punk out of the Rumble, things winded down for several minutes, though a lot of hot acts such as Kofi Kingston, Sheamus, and Rey Mysterio came in to keep the audience interested. The crowd was surprised when Dolph Ziggler and Randy Orton became unannounced entrants but the building exploded when Diesel made a surprise return. Honestly, I don’t think I’d ever been so happy to see Kevin Nash.
The crowd was clearly hoping for a Triple H return, so when Kane turned out to be #40, he received a deflated reaction. Kane, like Big Show, didn’t do much in this Rumble, and was quickly heading to the back. The final four came down to being John Cena, Wade Barrett, Randy Orton, and Alberto Del Rio. Cena ended up getting dumped out of the match by The Miz, who had been sitting at ringside when his protégé, Alex Riley, was in the match. The crowd was furious over this development. So Orton is alone against Barrett and Del Rio and at this point became my predicted winner. That soon changed when Orton dumped Barrett only to be dumped by Del Rio. Del Rio wins? I have to say I was shocked. It turned out Santino Marella hadn’t really been eliminated and was just hiding under the ring and he almost pulled the upset of the century by hitting the Crane on Del Rio. Del Rio ended up tossing Marella and winning for real. Overall, this was a great Rumble match, with lots of memorable moments and fantastic variety. ****˝.
Winner at 69:52: Alberto Del Rio
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