WWE Royal Rumble - Jan 29, 2012
-From St. Louis, MO. Our hosts are Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, and Booker T.
World Heavyweight Championship (Steel Cage match):
Bryan is just starting his “YES” gimmick here and is in the midst of a heel turn. The fans still like him though. Bell rings and Bryan sprints right up the wall but gets pulled down. Henry and Show lumber around while Bryan sells for a bit. Daniel sneaks up the cage again but Show tosses him down. Bryan suffers the wrath of Big Show while Henry takes a turn on the mat. Show misses a KO punch and hits the wall, giving Bryan an opening for some offense. Bryan looks to waltz out the door, but Henry attacks. Show drops Henry and resumes beating up Bryan. Henry, who is working through an injury, takes a turn in the driver’s seat. Henry gets countered by Bryan and suffers a Big Show spear. Show decimates Bryan with a series of attacks but the choke slam is blocked. Tornado DDT by Bryan puts Show down. Cue the YES lock. Henry lifts Daniel for the World’s Strongest Slam but Show nails a KO punch. Bryan sprints up the cage and has to fight Show off before dropping to the floor for the win at 9:05. Bryan survives, but the match wasn’t very interesting to watch, *½.
Daniel Bryan © vs. Big Show vs. Mark Henry
Winner and still World Heavyweight Champion: Daniel Bryan
-Video package putting over John Cena’s greatness and controversy.
Divas Champion Beth Phoenix, Natalya, Nikki Bella, and Brie Bella vs. Kelly Kelly, Tamina, Alicia Fox, and Eve Torres
I’m starting to feel like I’ve recapped far too many of these pointless diva matches. Natalya squares off with Tamina in the early going, giving us a battle of the second generation divas. Eve tags but quickly finds herself cornered in enemy territory. Eve counters Phoenix but her back senton gets countered as well. One of the Bellas works over Eve. Alicia gets a lukewarm tag and throws the few kicks they taught her how to do properly. The Bella counters and applies a chinlock. Kelly finally tags in and cleans house. The match breaks down and a brawl breaks out at ringside, allowing for Kelly to score a dive off the turnbuckles. Beth tags herself in and pins Kelly with the Glam Slam. Decent-ish outing here, *½.
Winners: Beth Phoenix, Natalya, Nikki Bella, and Brie Bella
-Recap of Kane destroying Zack Ryder on Raw. There goes Ryder’s push. John Cena is sad about the whole thing.
-Poor Zack Ryder is in a wheelchair and John Laurinaitis has a personal dressing room for him. An insincere Big Johnny offers Ryder anything he needs. Eve shows up and tells Mr. Ace off for allowing Ryder to get hurt in the first place.
John Cena vs. Kane
The bell rings and Cena goes right after Kane, who quickly turns the tables. The fight spills to ringside, where Cena reverses an Irish whip into the ring steps. Back to the ring, Cena is too injured to hit the Attitude Adjustment. Kane works over Cena in unspectacular fashion. Cena takes a prolonged beating and counters with a crossface. Kane comes back with the flying clothesline. Kane signals the choke slam, but Cena mounts his routine comeback. Kane counters and drops a big boot for 2. Cena blocks a superplex and delivers a flying Five Knuckle Shuffle. The AA is blocked but Cena drop-kicks the leg. Kane tosses Cena to ringside and regains control. They get counted out at 10:53. Ugh, was this a major pay-per-view match or the main event to a “C market” house show? *.
-The Cena/Kane brawl continues to the backstage area. Kane does some damage with a chair before noticing Zack Ryder’s private locker room. Kane kicks the door down and puts Ryder to sleep by attacking his face. Kane wheels Ryder into the ring and gets ready to hurt him more when Eve runs out to plead with him. Kane puts Ryder down with a Tombstone Piledriver anyway. Kane considers attacking Eve when Cena runs in for the save. Unfortunately, Cena eats a choke slam and Kane stands victorious. Ryder gets stretchered out while the commentators use their tasteless “Owen voice” to describe the situation. I hate this.
-Video recap of The Rock’s career. Whoo hoo.
Drew McIntyre vs. Brodus Clay (with the Funkettes)
McIntyre should know by now that if you complain to an authority figure that you don’t have a match, you’ll end up facing the monster of the month. Drew is aggressive in the early going but it doesn’t take Clay long to start no-selling. Clay delivers a suplex and some splats and gains the pinfall at 1:04. It’s okay, Drew, you’ll get a match at Wrestlemania and Brodus won’t. DUD.
Winner: Brodus Clay
-The hype package for the WWE Championship also highlights the saga of John Laurinaitis, who is facing a performance review from Mr. McMahon on the next Raw.
John Laurinaitis is supposed to be the referee, but he adds a new referee at the last minute, deciding to stay on as a special enforcer instead. Um, okay. I suppose he’s trying to save his job by avoiding the temptation to screw Punk out of the title. To further suck up to the Board of Directors, Big Johnny kicks Vickie Guerrero out of the arena before the bell can ring. The match finally begins and Punk goes for a quick roll-up. They trade finisher attempts and we have a stalemate. Punk fails to apply the Anaconda Vice. Punk aggressively pummels Ziggler in an abdominal stretch and mocks Ziggler’s mannerisms. Ziggler gets hung up on the ropes and needs a breather. Suicide dive by Punk connects! Ziggler trips Punk on the turnbuckles in nasty fashion to take control of the match. Ziggler hits about a dozen elbow drops in short order and goes to work on the neck. Punk counters with a sit-out power bomb! Punk mounts a comeback with a flurry of offense. Ziggler rolls through a flying cross body for a near fall. Punk regains his momentum but can’t get the pinfall, despite a flying elbow. Ziggler blocks the GTS, bumping the referee in the process. Big Johnny turns his back to the ring to revive the referee and misses Ziggler tapping to the Anaconda Vice. Punk rolls up Ziggler but there’s still no ref. Punk argues with Johnny and nails a spinning GTS that knocks Laurinaitis out of the ring. Ace refuses to count because he thinks Punk hit him on purpose. Ziggler counters a second GTS with the Fame-asser for a close near fall! Punk counters and nails GTS to finish it at 14:27. Laurinaitis makes a show out of counting to 3 along with the official ref. The Laurinaitis shenanigans took away from what could have been a great match, leaving us with a pretty good one instead, ***.
CM Punk © vs. Dolph Ziggler (with Vickie Guerrero)
Winner and still WWE Champion: CM Punk
30 Man Royal Rumble:
As per usual, the Rumble winner gets a Wrestlemania title match against the WWE or World Heavyweight Champion. At this point, I’m shocked that anyone still chooses to face the World Champion. The Miz is #1 and he takes a moment to whine about how nobody ever believes in him. Miz’s former protégé, Alex Riley, is #2. This would have meant something if both these guys hadn’t been constantly buried over the past few months. They have a back and forth exchange (to zero crowd heat) before Miz dumps Riley with ease. #3 is Miz’s current arch-enemy, R-Truth. They fill time with a livelier brawl and tease some eliminations. Cody Rhodes is #4. Cody helps Miz put a beating on Truth. Justin Gabriel is #5 and he unleashes a flurry of offense on everyone, regardless of heel/face alignment. #6 is Primo, one half of the Tag Team Champions, and therefore a jobber. Primo sneaks in some cool moves while Miz tosses R-Truth. Truth isn’t done and drags Miz to ringside for a DDT. #7 is Mick Foley to wake up the crowd. Foley beats up poor Primo and back drops him to the floor. Foley pummels Rhodes into the corner for his running knee to the face. Foley plants Cody with his double underhook DDT! #8 is Ricardo Rodriguez, doing his best Alberto Del Rio impersonation. Ricardo joins in on the Cody beating. Foley and Ricardo work together to toss Gabriel. #9 is Santino Marella and the ring is quickly filling up with comedic workers. Santino dominates a fun exchange with Rodriguez before eliminating him via wedgie. We’re then treated to Mr. Socko vs. The Cobra! #10 is Epico and he shows up just in time to take The Cobra and Foley’s Mandible Claw. And just like that, Epico is gone.
Foley and Marella continue their stand off until Miz and Rhodes decide they’ve had enough of the nonsense. Cody tosses Santino and saves Miz from Mr. Socko with another elimination. #11 is Kofi Kingston. Kofi cleans house on Rhodes and Miz, including a Boom Drop on both heels. Kingston is in trouble when #12 Jerry Lawler enters the match. Lawler outsmarts the young whippersnappers with his usual shtick. Cody dumps Jerry in short order. Cole made such a fuss about Lawler being in the Rumble that you know he’s next. #13 is Ezekiel Jackson and he gets a brief turn in the driver’s seat. #14 is Jinder Mahal and the crowd goes mild. Jinder takes his sweet time entering the ring and goes after Jackson. #15 is the returning Great Khali, who just happens to be Mahal’s brother-in-law. Khali plows through the competition and tosses Mahal and Jackson. #16 is Hunico, who rides a bike to the ring with Camacho. Hunico scores with some high flying moves before getting stepped on by Khali. #17 is Booker T, giving Cole another chance to complain. Booker goes on a rampage but Khali stops his momentum. Meanwhile, Kofi does a handstand at ringside to avoid elimination. #18 is Dolph Ziggler. #19 is Jim Duggan, making what feels like his umpteenth surprise return to cash in on his status as the first ever Rumble winner. The crowd goes nuts for Duggan, who arranges a meeting of the minds between Rhodes and Miz. Sadly, Cody rebounds to eliminate Hacksaw. Cody manages to dump Booker and Khali together. #20 turns out to be none other than Michael Cole.
Cole really hams up his Rumble entry until #21 Kharma makes her surprise (one-shot) return. Kharma nails Cole with a clothesline, and Booker and Lawler help her with the elimination. Aren’t the commentators adorable? Kharma drops Ziggler with the Implant Buster and throws Hunico over the ropes. Ziggler regains his manhood by dumping Kharma. #22 is Sheamus and he throws clubbing blows at all challengers. Sheamus eliminates Kofi, leaving himself alone against Rhodes, Miz, and Ziggler. #23 is Road Dogg for yet another nostalgic pop. Dogg shakes, rattles, and rolls and plants Miz with a pump handle slam. #24 is Jey Uso, who goes right after Road Dogg. #25 is Jack Swagger, who cleans house. #26 is Wade Barrett, who quickly tosses Road Dogg to the floor. #27 is David Otunga and he doesn’t really do much. #28 is hometown boy, Randy Orton! I was just noticing that the ring was getting awful crowded, giving Orton plenty of targets. Orton delivers a double spike DDT to both Miz and Cody. Orton tosses Jey Uso and Wade Barrett with ease. #29 is Chris Jericho, complete with the light-up jacket. Jericho eliminates Otunga quickly and mixes it up with Ziggler. #30 is Big Show! Show swats Swagger out and finishes him with a KO punch. Show eliminates Miz and Cody, who had both been in this for 45 minutes. Show is determined to ruin the match and tosses Ziggler.
Our final four are Big Show, Sheamus, Randy Orton, and Chris Jericho! Show saves himself from getting triple teamed and plants Jericho with a choke slam. Show spins around into the RKO! Orton dumps Show, and Jericho immediately dumps Orton! It’s down to Jericho vs. Sheamus! They have a fast paced back and forth exchange. Jericho blocks elimination and nails a missile drop-kick. Irish Curse backbreaker by Sheamus! Jericho counters the Celtic Cross with a near elimination. Sheamus hangs on after eating a drop-kick. Slingshot shoulder tackle by Sheamus! The Brogue Kick misses and Jericho applies the Walls! Jericho hangs on after taking a back drop. They battle on the turnbuckles and they both nearly flop out. Codebreaker, but Jericho can’t make a cover. Sheamus blocks a second Code Breaker and tosses Jericho, who skins the cat. The Brogue Kick sends Jericho to the floor, giving Sheamus the win at 54:42. The climatic mini-match really elevated this Rumble, though it’s not as good as the best Rumbles, nor as bad as the worst, ***½.
Final Thoughts: The Royal Rumble match itself is a pretty good time. Everything else on the show either stunk or failed to live up to expectations. I’d skip this one. Thumbs down.
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