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WWE Royal Rumble 2014

by Scrooge McSuck

- Broadcasted live, on Pay-Per-View, on January 26th, 2014, from Pittsburgh, PA. Michael Cole, Jerry "The King" Lawler, and JBL are calling the action from ringside, while Josh Mathews has a "Hall of Fame panel" consisting of Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan... one of these things just doesn't belong.

WWE Tag Team Championship Match:
The Brothers Rhodes © vs. The New Age Outlaws:

(Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Road Dogg & Billy Gunn)
It's our official Kick-Off Match, and the crowd is surprisingly responsive to Road Dogg's pre-match usual, even if most of the fan base has turned over several times since it's been a mainstay in the WWE. Pointless Tidbit: The last time Goldust, Billy Gunn, and the Road Dogg have been featured on a Royal Rumble was in 1999. Dogg and Gunn were never much in the ring, but they look to be in "ring" shape for their ages. Goldust and Cody hit a couple of cool highspots as we take a break. When we return, Goldust is our Rhodes in Peril. Goldie hits a Canadian Destroyer on Road Dogg, but he's sitll too beat up and continues to get worked over by Gunn. Cody gets the eventual hot tag and counters Road Dogg's signature pump-handle slam with the Cross-Rhodes, but Gunn breaks the cover. Disaster Kick connects, but Gunn gets the blind tag and hits a Fame-Asser from out of nowhere, and to my complete shock, have NEW Champions at 6:29. 14-years between reigns isn't something to brag about: It means "wow, these guys are old news and riding a wave of nostalgia that does nothing for ratings." ** Good match, too short, and a finish I did not expect. I am assuming Goldust and Cody win them back quickly, otherwise we're in for a weird road down to WrestleMania XXX.

Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt (w/ Rowan & Harper):

PPV Opener, proper, and the crowd is really into this Daniel Bryan fellow. I'm sure it's a passing fad, like Zack Ryder or Dolph Ziggler. We all know the set up here: Wyatt torments Bryan for months, Bryan "turns", crowd doesn't buy it, he turns back in one of the best endings to Raw in forever, and declares he will destroy Wyatt at the Rumble... but what about the Rumble Match?!

Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from this: Maybe 10-minutes of Wyatt dominating and big finish. Well, I was in total shock to see them take the ball and run to the end zone with an early touchdown. Bryan's aggressive attacks, especially the leg after a collision with the ring steps, was a breath of fresh air from a babyface, especially that surfboard/curb-stomp move. Wyatt took over, slowing things down a bit, but was constantly targeting the shoulder and head, possibly to play into the "rumors" of Bryan having a concussion (f*ck you, Cole). Bryan mounts his comeback, only to eat a vicious body tackle. Wyatt ends up on the floor, and Bryan follows with a Tornado DDT from the apron! The YES Kicks gets two. Bryan with his signature running dropkicks, but a third is interrupted by a brutal clothesline, complete with over-sell. Sister Abigail gets countered with a roll up, for two. Yes-Lock applied, but Wyatt escapes by biting the hands. They fight into the corner, trading headbutts until Bryan knocks Wyatt down, and comes off the top with a splash. Wyatt to the floor to avoid the knee, then blocks a Suicide Dive and gives Bryan Sister Abigail into the security wall! Wyatt throws Bryan's limp body back in the ring, hits a second Sister Abigail, and it's enough for the three count at 21:29! ***1/2 I'm still having a hard time getting into a Bray Wyatt match from start to finish, but he brought the goods here, and Bryan was working his ass off for a man who is recovering from a concussion. The middle portion dragged slightly, but that closing 5-minutes really pulled this from "pretty good" to REALLY good. If not for those lengthy chinlocks, I might've gone 4-stars, but after watching it twice, I'm set on my rating.

Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman):

This is just a waste of a Brock Lesnar appearance, and anything more than a 5-minute squash is completely pointless. Jerry Lawler incorrectly tells us Big Show gave Brock his first loss... at the 2002 Royal Rumble. I would make the usual smart-ass remarks, but I have to save that for the second half of this PPV. Lesnar attacks Show before the bell and beats on him with a chair. The referee FINALLY gets it away from him and calls for the bell, but Heyman slips Brock another chair. Show counters a chair shot with the KO punch, but Brock is still moving. Stuff happens for a few moments, and Lesnar finishes Show with the F5 at 1:59. I'm not kidding. We follow that up with roughly 7-minutes of Lesnar beating on Show with three more chairs. I was fine with just the F5, but the post-match shenanigans were over-the-top and unnecessary. Crowd cheers for Lesnar, anyway, so mission NOT accomplished. No Rating, considering the official "match" was roughly 4 moves long.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Randy Orton © vs. John Cena:

And this is where the show takes a sharp right turn straight into hell. Pre-match introductions are drowned out by chants for Daniel Bryan. It's going to be a LONG night from this point on. First, let me get this out of the way... I don't dislike Randy Orton, and I generally don't dislike John Cena, but with how this crowd reacted, what we got to follow is exactly what is wrong: John Cena's tired, Hulk Hogan formula match where he's going through the motions with his signature spots, and Orton, upon hearing negative crowd response, either sits too long on rest holds or does his doofus pose, because that's going to sway people back. I will admit, I liked them stealing each others big moves, especially Orton doing a better STF, considering he never does it, but other than that, it's the same, tired, dull as dishwater match from these two we've seen over the years, ad nauseum. While some may argue the harsh crowd response started too soon, the goofy, cartoony, incredibly poorly executed action deserved a "this match sucks" response, and I will admit, I was loving the "Where's our refund" chant and the occasional chants for Daniel Bryan. You know, that guy that nobody cares about and certainly doesn't belong anywhere near the top of the WWE Mountain. Finish came with Cena on the verge of victory, but the lights went out, the Wyatt Family created a distraction, and Orton retains with the RKO at 20:53. Post-match, Cena eats a Sister Abigail, to babyface pops, of course. Really hard to rate this match... I didn't care for the wrestling, but it wasn't "Bad", and I loved the hostile crowd, so call it **1/2 and we'll move forward to our Main Event...

30 Man Royal Rumble Match:

Winner gets to face the WWE World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania XXX. The alternate title of this match should be "The Morons Running WWE vs. The WWE Universe", because I have just witnessed something I didn't think I would ever see... the WWE audience shitting all over a Royal Rumble Match. The one match that almost always promises to deliver, and almost always has a hot crowd... well, yeah, someone dropped the ball.

As already announced, CM Punk is #1, and as I predicted, Seth Rollins gets #2. Thankfully we didn't get Ambrose and Reigns to follow. Damien Sandow enters at #3, and Cody Rhodes is #4. They do a mini-sequence, ending with Sandow eating a Cross Rhodes and getting tossed by Punk. Corporate Kane is #5, goes after Punk, and gets dumped as NXT performer Alexander Rusev comes in at #6. I'm not a fan of the "muscle-headed grappler" gimmick, but I'll give him time before I get overly critical. Jack Swagger is #7, and gets face pops slugging it out with Rusev. #8 is Kofi Kingston, #9 is Jimmy Uso, and #10 is Goldust. Rusev gets tossed by a gaggle of Superstars, and Kofi winds up in his arms, only to be rested along the security rail. It's not the most creative spot, but Kofi jumping that distance with little momentum was still f*cking cool. Dean Ambrose is #11, Dolph Ziggler is #12, and R-Truth is #13. He lasts about 30-seconds and gets tossed by Ambrose. Jimmy Uso follows shortly after. Kevin Nash makes a surprise appearance as #14, but I don't give a shit. #15 is Roman Reigns, so it's time for some Shield House Cleaning™: Kofi and Ziggler gets dumped by Reigns, and Nash misses a charge and gingerly tumbles to the floor.

Great Khali is #16, throws some awkward chops, and gets triple-teamed and tossed by the Shield. Cody ends up on the apron and "accidentally" eliminated by Goldust, and he is dumped as well, courtesy Roman Reigns. Sheamus returns at #17, saving Punk from a 3-on-1 beating. He spends the next 5-minutes laying in a fetal position in the corner. The Miz is #18, Fandango is #19, and OH MY GOD, El Torito is #20. A goofy midget comedy act is #20. Seth Rollins and CM Punk have to sell for him, and he gets to eliminate Fandango! Reigns continues becoming my hero, tossing Torito like a sack of Mexican potatoes (Editor's Note: "saco de patatas"). Antonio Cesaro is #21, and works in his Giant Swing, tallying roughly 30 rotations on Rollins. Luke Harper is #22, and Jey Uso is #23. JBL makes a pointless appearance as #24 and is gone in seconds thanks to Reigns. Cue the conversation about Santino and Bushwhacker Luke. Erick Rowan is #25, and makes short work of Miz and the other Uso. Ryback is #26, and nobody cares. Alberto Del Rio is #27, and somehow even less people care. Batistais #28, and proceeds to toss out Rowan, Ryback, and Del Rio, to little fanfare. I actually missed Del Rio's elimination at first. #29 is Big E. Langston, and #30 is Rey Mysterio...

And then the match f*cking died. No, Daniel Bryan wasn't advertised for the match, but neither were roughly a third of the field, including pointless appearances by JBL and El Torito. The crowd turned on the match so hard, Rey Mysterio was the victim of the most crowd backlash, mercilessly boo'ed until being dumped by Seth Rollins, possibly to the best babyface pop of the match. Reigns Superman punches Harper out, but then Ambrose tries to sneak up and toss him, but it doesn't work. Cesaro, Rollins, and Ambrose tangle up, allowing Reigns to toss all three in a giant pile, leaving a final four of Batista, CM Punk, Roman Reigns, and Sheamus... oh, wait, sorry, Kane returns and tosses Punk, then chokeslams him through a table. Would've been a surprise had he NOT missed his cue and appeared at ringside when JBL made his "surprise" entrance into the match from the broadcast table. With Sheamus, Batista, and Reigns struggling to get to their feet, the crowd rained upon them loud chants of "NO!" and "Daniel Bryan." Everyone works in a KO spot, but the crowd doesn't care. Sheamus points to the WrestleMania XXX banner and gets told where to go (BOO-VILLE), and gets to be the 12th elimination for Reigns, breaking Kane's record of 11 from 2001. The crowd shits all over everything Batista, but actually pops huge for a Reigns spear and start a "Roman Reigns" chant. Then Batista wins at 53:07, pissing the crowd off even more. Turning up the music and trying to talk as loud as possible isn't enough to drown out the crowd's displeasure with the turn of events. *** Decent, if unspectacular Rumble, and again, the crowd backlash makes it hard to rate, as my enjoyment for the last 10-minutes was the nuclear meltdown from the crowd and the lack of Daniel Bryan.

- And we end the night with Michael Cole saying, and I quote, "Batista is going to WrestleMania, deal with it."

Final Thoughts: I don't think I've ever experienced a show quite like this before. I found enjoyment out of pretty much the entire show, but for different reasons as the show ran deeper into the night. We were treated to a show-stealing performance between that scamp Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt, and got to watch Brock Lesnar treat the Big Show like the useless lump of goo he is. Then someone hit the switch that changed everything, and the live crowd completely turned on Cena vs. Orton Part 691. It was an OK match, but the crowd's response more than made up for it. Finally, we got the Rumble Match: Again, it was OK, but once that final entrant came out, and there was to be no last minute change of plans, it became a spectacle, the kind I've never seen before, especially on the second-biggest PPV the WWE has to offer. The continued ignorance and lack of common sense has me scratching my head trying to understand the logic behind this stubborn "don't push him, let's push this guy instead" when live crowds, on a regular basis, have voiced their opinion in the direction that doesn't fit with what WWE wants us to accept. I'm not going to play the "boycott" WWE card, because Raw and Smackdown are free to view, but even without the WWE Network coming out, I don't see myself committing to a product that continues to insult my intelligence as a paying fan. Thumbs Up, Highly Recommended, to see WWE push it's audience too far and watching everyone take a collective dump on the brain-dead decisions presently being made.

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