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Royal Rumble: Through The Years (Part 3, 2000-2005)
by Scrooge McSuck
Last time in our re-visiting of the Royal Rumble, we took a look at each Rumble from 1994 through 1999, and HOLY CRAP, were they some of the worst, dullest, and least memorable Rumbles in the history of the event. 1999 is when the concept finally hit rock bottom, with a shallow talent pool, lack of attention to detail, poorly constructed spots, and a swerve for the sake of re-writing the script and screwing with people who paid to watch this garbage. This time around, we kick things off with the year 2000 and work ourselves halfway into the next decade...
2000 (January 23rd, Madison Square Garden @ New York, NY)
Participants Order of Entry and Elimination...
1. DíLo Brown, 2. Grandmaster Sexay, 3. Mosh, 4. Christian, 5. Rikishi, 6. Scotty 2 Hotty, 7. Steve Blackman, 8. Viscera, 9. Big Boss Man, 10. Test, 11. The British Bulldog, 12. Gangrel, 13. Edge, 14. Bob Backlund, 15. Chris Jericho, 16. Crash Holly, 17. Chyna, 18. Faarooq, 19. Road Dogg, 20. Al Snow, 21. Val Venis, 22. Prince Albert, 23. Hardcore Holly, 24. The Rock, 25. Billy Gunn, 26. Big Show, 27. Bradshaw, 28. Kane, 29. The Godfather, 30. X-Pac
1. Mosh (by Rikishi), 2. Christian (by Rikishi), 3 DíLo Brown (by Rikishi), 4. Grandmaster Sexay (by Rikishi), 5. Scotty 2 Hotty (by Rikishi), 6. Steve Blackman (by Rikishi), 7. Viscera (by Rikishi), 8. Rikishi (by BBM, Test, Bulldog, Gangrel, Edge, Backlund), 9. Bob Backlund (by Jericho), 10. Chris Jericho (by Chyna), 11. Chyna (by Boss Man), 12. Faarooq (by Boss Man), 13. The British Bulldog (by Road Dogg), 14. Edge (by Snow), 15. Big Boss Man (by Rock), 16. Crash Holly (by Rock), 17. Test (by Show), 18. Gangrel (by Show), 19. Bradshaw (by Outlaws), 20. Val Venis (by Kane), 21. Prince Albert (by Kane), 22. Hardcore Holly (by Snow), 23. The Godfather (by Big Show), 24. Al Snow (by Rock), 25. Road Dogg (by Gunn), 26. Billy Gunn (by Kane), 27. Kane (by X-Pac), 28. X-Pac (by Show), 29. Big Show (by Rock), WINNER: THE ROCK
Memorable Moments and Random Tidbits...
- The original Rumble lineup included Mark Henry, all three members of the Mean Street Posse, Kaientai, Thrasher, and Mideon, but someone thought "this would suck" and plugged in most of the undercard workers, including Jericho, Chyna, Hardcore Holly, the APA, the New Age Outlaws, and surprise entrant Bob Backlund.
- Speaking of the people pulled at the last minute, the running gag in the Rumble was Kaientai and the MSP doing run-ins throughout and being thrown out as soon as they came in. At one point, Taka took a pretty rough bump, doing a forward flip and landing on his face (which lead to an unfunny running joke of showing the replay) and Pete Gas nearly breaking his neck hitting the bottom rope too hard during the run-in on Bradshaw. Might as well have advertised this as a 40-Person Rumble with the combined eliminations of those 5 coming in several times.
- DíLo Brown vs. Grandmaster Sexay might be the least impressive start to the Royal Rumble Match, up until this point. Itís neither a nod to a program nor features two elite workers.
- Scotty 2 Hotty kicks off his string of comical Rumble appearances, as weíll tally as we go through the years. So far, he comes out to dance with his partner and Rikishi, only to get thrown out in the middle of it.
- They found the perfect time to get Rikishi and Too Cool in the ring together for a brief dance-off, complete with their normal flashing lights. Its moments like these that donít mean much for the wrestling, but for having fun in a match that needs a laugh or two in the hour or so it runs.
- Rikishi is the first babyface to get the "Diesel" treatment of clearing out the ring and standing tall through the next few entrants. He also gives us our only Battle of the Bulgeô, with Viscera (formerly Mabel of Men on a Mission).
- Big Boss Man is the first man I can recall who came out and stalled until someone else entered to break up someoneís hot streak. Unfortunately for him, its Test, who I believe he had history with at this point.
- Jerry Lawler does not pick Test, Gangrel, or Steve Blackman, his choices from the 1999 Royal Rumble. He does promote the Rockís personal pick of Crash Holly, and who can blame the Rock? The greatest Super-Heavyweight on the roster is always a threat.
- If you notice, the majority of the people who subbed in for the Jakked/Metal crew (Jericho, Chyna, APA, etc. etc.) spend very little time in the match, probably because there were no plans for those spots to have longer ring time.
- What was the deal with Edge spanking Crash? When Crash first enters, Edge and Bulldog immediately try to throw him out and Edge just starts spanking him.
- Road Dogg spends the majority of the match laying on the ground and clinging to the bottom rope. He was suffering from the flu, so maybe it was a cruel rib to have him in there for 15-20 minutes sick as a dog (pun intended). Lawler makes reference to A Christmas Story, saying Road Doggís only defense is laying there like a slug.
- Did I forget an angle with Kaientai? Why is Lawler so insistent that Taka and Funaki are Chinese?
- The refereeís miss X-Pacís elimination (and it was a heck of a bump, too), a la Steve Austin in 1997, but there was no chance in hell we were getting X-Pac as the Royal Rumble winner.
- Kane vs. Big Show. A tradition that continues to this day, and itís 2016!
- Rikishi had the most eliminations of the night, tossing out 7 participants (DíLo, Mosh, Christian, Too Cool, Blackman, and Viscera). Big Show and the Rock both had 4 eliminations.
- The Iron Man of 2000 goes to Test, spending about 26-minutes in the ring. Gangrel of all people had the next longest, with 23-minutes. As far as the shortest time in the ring, and not counting the unofficial eliminations of the run-in scrubs, Faarooq and Bradshaw both spent about 20-seconds in the ring apiece. Chyna tallied 37-seconds, and Steve Blackman 45-seconds.
Rumble Match Rating: Not a great Rumble by any stretch of the imagination, but it was more entertaining than what weíve seen in quite a while. Started off dull, but Rikishiís arrival woke the crowd up, cleared the ring, danced a bit, and stood tall for a few more entrants. It didnít get over that well, but having Kaentai and the MSP running in and thrown out almost instantly was funny the first time or two. Things picked up when the Rock arrived, and there was a good finale, but there wasnít a match long performance to tie everything together. [***1/4]
- Tazz def. Kurt Angle in his surprise WWF debut. For weeks, orange lights would flicker, signaling the arrival of a new Superstar. Itís Taz(z) from ECW, and MSG is a better place than most of the usual WWF locations to showcase him. Angle was undefeated at this point, but the loss hardly hurt his momentum... he won the IC and European Titles within the next month. [*1/2]
- The Hardy Boyz def. The Dudley Boyz in the first ever Tag Team Tables Match. Lots of brawling all over the place and both members of each team had to go through a table. Ended with Jeff doing a Swanton Bomb off one of the balconies. [***1/2]
- Mae Young "won" a Swimsuit Competition that also included Womenís Champion THE KAT (yep), Terri Runnels, Ivory (reluctantly), Jacqueline, Luna (who denied showing herself even though her robe was revealing enough to begin with) and "Barbra Bush" (the big-breasted EMT). This PPV actually advertised Nudity in the opening ratings, and we got Mae Youngís prosthetic boobies. Yay. I was 14, so I enjoyed most of this, regardless. The days before internet porn...
- Chris Jericho def. Chyna and Hardcore Holly to become the undisputed Intercontinental Champion. A few weeks earlier, Jericho and Chyna did a double pin, so Stephanie McMahon ruled they were co-holders of the Championship. Something that thankfully hasnít been done again. [**]
- The New Age Outlaws def. The APA to retain the Tag Team Championship. Short and pointless. I think Road Dogg had the flu, and the show was running long already. [3/4*]
- Triple H def. Cactus Jack in a Street Fight to retain the WWF Championship. Amazing match that definitely put Triple H on the level of a made top guy. Not so much a wrestling match, but a 20-minute brawl with smart booking, hard work, and a few cool twists and turns. Easily one of my favorite matches of all time and one of, if not the best, of this era in the WWF. [*****]
2001 (January 21st, New Orleans Arena @ New Orleans, LA)
Participant Order of Entry and Elimination...
1. Jeff Hardy, 2. Bull Buchanon, 3. Matt Hardy, 4. Faarooq, 5. Drew Carey, 6. Kane, 7. Raven, 8. Al Snow, 9. Perry Saturn, 10. Steve Blackman, 11. Grandmaster Sexay, 12. The Honkytonk Man, 13. The Rock, 14. The Goodfather, 15. Tazz, 16. Bradshaw, 17. Albert, 18. Hardcore Holly, 19. K-Kwik, 20. Val Venis, 21. William Regal, 22. Test, 23. Big Show, 24. Crash Holly, 25. The Undertaker, 26. Scotty 2 Hotty, 27. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, 28. Billy Gunn, 29. Haku, 30. Rikishi
1. Bull Buchanon (by The Hardys), 2. Faarooq (by The Hardys), 3. Jeff Hardy (by M. Hardy), 4. Matt Hardy (by J. Hardy), 5. Drew Carey (self-eliminated), 6. Grandmaster Sexay (by Kane), 7. Steve Blackman (by Kane), 8. Al Snow (by Kane), 9. Raven (by Kane), 10. Perry Saturn (by Kane), 11. The Honkytonk Man (by Kane), 12. The Goodfather (by Rock), 13. Tazz (by Kane), 14. William Regal (by Test), 15. Test (by Show), 16. K-Kwik (by Show), 17. Big Show (by Rock), 18. Bradshaw (by Undertaker), 19. Crash Holly (by Kane), 20. Albert (by Kane), 21. Hardcore Holly (by Undertaker), 22. Val Venis (by Undertaker), 23. Scotty 2 Hotty (by Kane & ĎTaker), 24. Haku (by Austin), 25. The Undertaker (by Rikishi), 26. Rikishi (by
Memorable Moments and Random Tidbits...
- I loved that the promotional poster was a call-back to the 1991 and 1992 posters, an illustration of a large number of the biggest names in the company (and Bradshaw), ready for battle. Who didnít love a cool promotional poster?
- No substitutions that I am aware of. The card was pretty set in stone, and the list of participants remained the same, with the exception of the 2 or 3 that were left a mystery (and yay, who doesnít love one-night returns for older guys? Perfect use of a few Rumble spots instead of giving them to bottom feeding scrubs that nobody cares about anyway).
- The first of many attempts at giving us a Hardy vs. Hardy showdown. Unless thereís a damn good reason for it, thereís no reason to do it, because crowds generally donít respond as well as you would want. Other than the squeal of delight for their shirts coming off, this wasnít that good, and dig Matt having to sell a dropkick that Jeff completely whiffs on.
- Yup... Drew Carey. The story was that he was hitting on Trish Stratus, so Vince McMahon egged him on in a bit of reverse-psychology-revenge, giving him the spot that was earned by Loí Down on Sunday Night Heat. They also pimped a improve-PPV hosted by Carey for later in the week like you wouldnít believe. And thatís all you need to know about Mr. Careyís Hall of Fame Career. To be fair, his self-elimination was one of the best. He realizes the trouble he just escaped, waves to the crowd, and climbs over the ropes... then offers words of wisdom for Raven on his way back.
- Iíve always enjoyed the "Hardcore" sequence featuring Kane, Blackman, Snow, Raven, and Saturn. It was something different that had never been in extended form before (Cactus and Funk in 1998 did it, but it didnít dig as deep).
- The Honkytonk Man shows up as a surprise entrant to sing along with his theme music. Kaneís amusement is non-existant and blasts the greatest Intercontinental Champion with a guitar as a parting gift.
- 10 Years Later, The Rock would headline a PPV against K-Kwik, better known to fans these days as R-Truth.
- Big Show makes his return from OVW (where he was sent as punishment to get into better shape. It didnít work, so he was buried as a JTTS for most of 2001) and immediately cleans house, but then the crowd turns on him when he goes one-on-one with the Rock.
- The Undertaker and Kane reunite again to clear the ring out, which leads to the second year of Scotty 2 Hottyís laughable performances. Heís the next man in as Taker and Kane stand tall, gets beat on for a few seconds, hit with a Double Chokeslam, and casually thrown out. Thereís always 2002...
- Why didnít Triple H wait until Austin was in the ring and eliminate him from the match? Youíd think the "Cerebral Assassin" wouldíve figured Austin might come back from his beating, enter the match, and still win it.
- Iím not 100% certain, but Austin might be the first man to blade for a Royal Rumble Match.
- The final surprise entrant of 2001... HAKU! I say that with vigor because he was the reigning WCW Hardcore Champion at the time, but working without a contract. Thatís just picking on the competition when they can no longer defend themselves. He also uses the old Head Shrinkers music, which makes sense since he started teaming with Rikishi (formerly Fatu).
- Part of me is convinced that Austinís heel turn is already being teased when he has to cheat to eliminate Kane, a man who dominated the field and was still a viable threat despite spending nearly an hour in the ring. No other Rumble to this point featured the top face having to blast a heel repeatedly with a chair to finally eliminate him.
- Kane set the new record for most eliminations in a Royal Rumble, 11, or more than 1/3rd of the Rumble field. The list of victims: Grandmaster Sexay, Al Snow, Steve Blackman, Raven, Perry Saturn, Honkytonk Man, Tazz, Crash Holly, Albert, Scotty 2 Hotty, and The Rock.
- Still on the subject of Kane, he also set the Iron Man Mark for 2001, lasting over 53-minutes. For shortest times in the ring, Tazz lasted a whopping 10-seconds, and The Goodfather only 13-seconds.
Rumble Match Rating: With the exception of a 10-minute period from Bradshawís entrance through Testís, this was a fun Royal Rumble with a lot of different sequences and booking choices to keep everyone entertained. We got the showdown between tag partners, a few fun surprises a Hardcore sequence, one person dominating the field, HHH running in and busting up Austin, and a hot finale. One of the best Rumbles that most people seem to forget about. [****1/4]
- Lo Down def. Kaientai on Sunday Night Heat with one spot in the Royal Rumble Match on the line. That didnít work out so well for DíLo and Chaz. [NR]
- The Dudley Boyz def. Edge & Christian for the Tag Team Championship after giving Edge the 3-D. Good opener, and the first of four consecutive years where the Dudleys would challenge for the Tag Team Titles. Lucky us. [***]
- Chris Jericho def. Chris Benoit in a Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship. Spectacular Match, which became the norm for these two in this era. Hard to watch at times when Benoit is taking chair shots to the head unprotected, but the work was phenominal. [****1/2]
- Ivory def. Chyna by refereeís decision to retain the Womenís Championship. Total garbage of a finish in an era where Droz and Owen Hartís unfortunate accidents were still very much fresh in the minds of viewers. [-**]
- Kurt Angle def. Triple H to retain the WWF Championship, with a bit of interference from Steve Austin. Heel vs. Heel never does it for me, and this was just too long and all over the place. It was like it almost wanted to be a Street Fight, but without the weapons, with constant action on the floor. It was "good", but I donít see the love for this as a lost classic. [***]
2002 (January 20th, Philips Arena @ Atlanta, GA)
Participant Order of Entry and Elimination...
1. Rikishi, 2. Goldust, 3. The Boss Man, 4. Bradshaw, 5. Lance Storm, 6. Al Snow, 7. Billy Gunn, 8. The Undertaker, 9. Matt Hardy, 10. Jeff Hardy, 11. Maven, 12. Scotty 2 Hotty, 13. Christian, 14. Diamond Dallas Page, 15. Chuck Palumbo, 16. The Godfather, 17. Albert, 18. Perry Saturn, 19. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, 20. Val Venis, 21. Test, 22. Triple H, 23. The Hurricane, 24. Faarooq, 25. Mr. Perfect, 26. Kurt Angle, 27. Big Show, 28. Kane, 29. Rob Van Dam, 30. Booker T
1. The Boss Man (by Rikishi), 2. Lance Storm (by Snow), 3. Bradshaw (by Gunn), 4. Goldust (by Undertaker), 5. Al Snow (by Undertaker), 6. Rikishi (by Undertaker), 7. Billy Gunn (by Undertaker), 8. Jeff Hardy (by Undertaker), 9. Matt Hardy (by Undertaker), 10. The Undertaker (by Maven), 11. Maven (illegally by Undertaker), 12. Scotty 2 Hotty (by DDP), 13. Diamond Dallas Page (by Christian), 14. Albert (by Christian & Palumbo), 15. The Godfather (by Christian & Palumbo), 16. Christian (by Austin), 17. Chuck Palumbo (by Austin), 18. Perry Saturn (by Austin), 19. Val Venis (by Austin), 20. Test (by Austin), 21. The Hurricane (by Austin & HHH), 22. Faarooq (by HHH), 23. Big Show (by Kane), 24. Kane (by Angle), 25. Rob Van Dam (by Booker T), 26. Booker T (by Austin), 27. Steve Austin (by Angle), 28. Mr. Perfect (by HHH), 29. Kurt Angle (by HHH), WINNER: TRIPE H
Memorable Moments and Random Tidbits...
- No substitutions, since weíre out of that era of announcing names so far in advance that there might be a problem. We did have four names announced to return to the WWF... Mr. Perfect, Goldust, and the reintroduction of the Godfather and Val Venis, who had been off TV since the Spring of 2001 to get the stink of the Right to Censor gimmick off them (spoiler: it didnít work).
- Who better than Goldust to have as either the first or second entrant? Gives him the opportunity to return to TV and do his complete ring entrance, which would probably last long enough for two other people to follow him in.
- 2002 Undertaker might be one of the least likeable workers in WWE history. His character of being a grumpy old veteran, stinking up the Main Events month after month, and never really doing anything to put over the new talent. I canít think of many people who fondly remember the Undertakerís "American Badass" era.
- Intervals get so out of whack that during the sequence with Undertaker and the Hardy Boyz, the clock slows down to the point itís nearly 3-minutes between entrants! Undertaker squashes them both, obviously, including giving Matt Hardy a Last Ride Powerbomb for the sake of doing it, and then fought them off again when they came back in moments later.
- Maven with the most surprising elimination in Rumble history, taking out the Undertaker. Undertaker followed it up by beating the crap out of him and tossing him over the top rope for a elimination. The rub doesnít work when you treat the guy like the joke everyone already assumed he was. This was just the nail in the coffin.
- Scotty 2 Hottyís streak of laughable Rumble matches continues, as he comes dancing out during the previous sequence and sells a single punch from Undertaker as if her were shot for about 4-5 minutes.
- The Godfatherís entrance is so long and obnoxious that we miss Diamond Dallas Page being eliminated. I know, itís DDP in the WWF when heís doing the smiling doofus guru gimmick, but still, thatís poorly crafted production.
- What is the deal with Perry Saturn? Were cow skin trunks the in thing in 2002?
- Steve Austin cleans house and has to eliminate Christian and Chuck Palumbo twice to kill time, then goes old school and nods to his 1997 run by looking at his imaginary watch waiting for someone else to come in.
- The Winner for the MOST OBNOXIOUS ENTRANCE in 2002... Triple H. His full scale entrance eats up more than 2-minutes, so again, we have to rig the clock so someone doesnít lap him on the way to the ring.
- The Hurricane attempts to give Steve Austin and Triple H a Double Chokeslam, and they actually sell it for a few seconds before it dawns on them that itís THE HURRICANE.
- Mr. Perfect is being double-teamed by Hunter and Austin and still manages to spit out and swat away his gum.
- Big Show vs. Kane. Again. Kaneís impressive performance from 2001 is definitely not replicated here, coming in late and being eliminated in about 3-minutes.
- Rob Van Dam comes in strong working over everyone until Triple H hits him with the Pedigree, knocking him out for the rest of his time in the ring until Booker T casually throws him out. Thatís about 2-minutes of non-movement.
- This was, until the 40-Man Royal Rumble, the longest Rumble Match, running approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.
- No impressive run for the Iron Man of 2002. Steve Austin lasted around 26-minutes and Triple H 23-minutes. Far cries from the norm. When it comes to shortest ring time, The Hurricane, Faarooq, and Booker T all lasted in the neighborhood of 30-seconds.
- Steve Austin and the Undertaker both tallied 7 eliminations. Iíve noticed a trend of 7 being the magic number for most eliminations in a Rumble.
Rumble Match Rating: Not the greatest Rumble, but there wasnít much to complain about, either. The biggest sin of a Royal Rumble is crowding the ring, and never did the ring fill with more than 7 people. The Undertakerís sequence in the first half carried a decent stretch of the match, including a ring clearing sequence, the battle with both Hardys, and the shocking elimination by Maven. Things cooled down for Austinís arrival, who cleaned house until Triple H made his in-ring return. We got a hilarious spot from the Hurricane, a fun return from Mr. Perfect, and who doesnít enjoy HHH burying RVD with a Pedigree? [***3/4]
- Spike Dudley and Tazz def. The Dudley Boyz to retain the Tag Team Championship. Yes, that random team of Spike and Tazz were Tag Champions for about 6-8 weeks. Yes, the Tag Division sucked that much. [*1/2]
- William Regal def. Edge for the Intercontinental Title. Regalís "Power of the Punch" was always entertaining, but he wasnít really having good matches at this point, having a lack of chemistry with a lot of the roster. [**]
- Trish Stratus def. Jazz to retain the Womenís Championship. Jacqueline was the "special" referee. Not much to say about this, it barely went 4-minutes. [ * ]
- Ric Flair def. Vince McMahon in a Street Fight. Flairís first televised WWF Match since January 1993, and itís about as good as youíll get from McMahon (and Flair at this age). [**]
- Chris Jericho def. The Rock to retain the Undisputed WWE Championship, following interference from Christian and Lance Storm and using the ropes for leverage. Really good match, but Jerichoís reign always seemed destined for failure with cheap victories and being background noise to other people. [****]
2003 (January 19th, Fleet Center @ Boston, MA)
Participant Order of Entry and Elimination...
1. Shawn Michaels, 2. Chris Jericho, 3. Chris Nowinski, 4. Rey Mysterio, 5. Edge, 6. Christian, 7. Chavo Guerrero, 8. Tajiri, 9. Bill DeMott, 10. Tommy Dreamer, 11. B-2, 12. Rob Van Dam, 13. Matt Hardy, 14. Eddie Guerrero, 15. Jeff Hardy, 16. Rosey, 17. Test, 18. John Cena, 19. Charlie Haas, 20. Rikishi, 21. Jamal, 22. Kane, 23. Shelton Benjamin, 24. Booker T, 25. A-Train, 26. Maven, 27. Goldust, 28. Batista, 29. Brock Lesnar, 30. The Undertaker
1. Shawn Michaels (by Jericho), 2. Chris Nowinski (by Mysterio), 3. Rey Mysterio (by Jericho), 4. Bill DeMott (by Edge), 5. Tommy Dreamer (by Jericho & Christian), 6. Tajiri (by Jericho), 7. B-2 (by Edge), 8. Chavo Guerrero (by Edge), 9. Edge (by Jericho), 10. Christian (by Jericho), 11. Jeff Hardy (by RVD), 12. Rosey (by Kane), 13. Eddie Guerrero (by Booker), 14. Chris Jericho (by Test), 15. Goldust (by Team Angle), 16. Booker T (by Team Angle), 17. Test (by Batista), 18. Rikishi (by Batista), 19. Shelton Benjamin (by Lesnar), 20. Charlie Haas (by Lesnar), 21. Matt Hardy (by Lesnar), 22. John Cena (by Undertaker), 23. Jamal (by Undertaker), 24. Maven (by Undertaker), 25. A-Train (by Kane & RVD), 26. Rob Van Dam (by Kane), 27. Batista (by Undertaker), 28. Kane (by Undertaker), 29. The Undertaker (by Lesnar), WINNER: BROCK LESNAR
Memorable Moments and Random Tidbits...
- Jeff Hardy earned his spot by defeating Raven on Monday Night Raw earlier in the week. Raven had a completely new look and ended up being released the next day. Him showing up in TNA actually peaked my interest in the company for most of 2003 and I was far from being a Raven mark.
- Chris Jericho won the right to pick his number in the match, and wanted to pick #1, but Shawn Michaels was granted the privilege of picking his number too, and took it first, so Jericho reluctantly picked #2. The pick ended up being a smart one, as he used Christian as a Y2J decoy to attack Michaels from behind and eliminate him a couple of minutes into the match.
- Shawn Michaels with blade job #2 in the history of the Royal Rumble Match.
- The Smackdown Six ô is well represented, with Edge and Rey Mysterio entering early and both Guerreros coming in not long after. You can tell the match is filled early on with better workers, most of them from Smackdown.
- Edge clearly hits the floor on a teased-double elimination with Mysterio, but is allowed to stay in because it wasnít time for him to go, yet.
- Christian tries to reunite with Edge so he wouldnít be at a disadvantage with Edge and Rey as the only men in the ring (Jericho and Nowinski were on the floor), but Edge hits him with a Spear in response.
- Tommy Dreamer busts Jericho open hard-way with a Singapore Cane. Jericho looked like he had a bit more gusto behind the weapon shots he delivers moments after it happens.
- B-2 (pronounced B-Squared), formerly Bull Buchanon, is still selling a beatdown from earlier in the week when John Cena debuted his new crony, "Red Dog", later known as Rodney Mack. That alliance didnít last long, either.
- Matt Fact of the Night: Matt strongly dislikes Mustard. He also had Shannon Moore at ringside to take punishment from other participants and to keep him from being eliminated until Brock throws him out with an F5. Matt and Jeff Hardy do the exact same spot that we just saw with Edge and Christian, with Matt pleading for an alliance, but Jeff choosing to attack him, instead.
- As usual, once we hit the half-way mark, things become uninteresting as the ring becomes way too cluttered for any one sequence to really pick up steam.
- Dig the Samoan Family Reunion when Rikishi and Three Minute Warning (Rosey and Jamal) all share ring time and a brief exchange.
- Shawn Michaels returns to get revenge on Jericho, creating enough of a distraction for Test to throw Jericho out.
- The Undertaker returns from a 3-month hiatus... and fans are disappointed heís still "American Badass" Undertaker and not "Deadman" Undertaker. Even when he did finally go back to being the Deadman, it took a while for his look to alter enough to no longer look like the American Badass.
- Maven tries to recreate his magic moment from 2002, but Undertaker hangs on and if you donít know where this is going, then stop reading now.
- Check out this Hoss-o-riffic Final Four: Undertaker, Kane, Batista, and Brock.
- Brock Lesnar winning at the #29 spot is the latest entrant to win a Rumble to this point. Prior to 2003, the highest winning number was 27, done on multiple occasions, including Big John Studd in 1989, Yokozuna in 1993, Bret Hart in 1994, and Steve Austin in 2001.
- Chris Jericho is the 2003 Iron Man, lasting approximately 39-minutes. Rob Van Dam with the next longest at 32-minutes. For shortest ring time, B-2 was in for about 30-seconds, and we had under-one minute efforts out of Goldust and Dreamer.
- Chris Jericho with the most eliminations with 6, followed by the Undertaker with 5 and Brock Lesnar with 4.
Rumble Match Rating: Underwhelming Rumble Match, with a complete lack of momentum once the half-way marker hit. There was some fun individual performances, like Jericho attempting to do the Iron Man story to win it all, and the stuff with Matt Hardy and Shannon Moore. Brock Lesnar and Undertaker came in late with some hot sequences, but outside of that, there wasnít much that happened late that was worth mentioning. Whenever the ring clutters that much (at times there were 12 people in the ring), thereís no chance of having interesting spots beyond an occasional couple of seconds. [**3/4]
- Spike Dudley def. Steven Richards on Sunday Night Heat [NR]
- Brock Lesnar def. The Big Show to earn a spot in the Royal Rumble Match. Short and to the point, much like all of their other matches. [*1/2]
- The Dudley Boyz def. William Regal and Lance Storm for the WWF tag Team Championship. I donít think the reign lasted longer than a day. Nothing to see here, basic TV quality match. [*1/2]
- Torrie Wilson def. Dawn Marie. Move along, nothing to see here. [-*]
- Scott Steiner def. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H by Disqualification in one of the worst World Title matches in WWE history. Steiner was blown up early and was booked to go 20-minutes. All he could do was suplex after suplex and fell on his ass at one point from exhaustion. HHH bladed from a phantom belt shot, and the crowd BOOED when Hebner decided not to call for the DQ the first time it was teased. [-***]
- Kurt Angle def. Chris Benoit to retain the WWE Championship. And after that nightmare, we have one of the best wrestling matches in Royal Rumble History, with chain wrestling, emphasis on submissions, and gradually building up for high spots that had fans on the edge of their seat. One of those matches Iíd proudly show casual and non-fans what makes professional wrestling so darn good. [*****]
2004 (January 25th, Wachovia Center @ Philadelphia, PA)
Participant Order of Entry and Elimination...
1. Chris Benoit, 2. Randy Orton, 3. Mark Henry, 4. Tajiri, 5. Bradshaw, 6. Rhyno, 7. Matt Hardy, 8. Scott Steiner, 9. Matt Morgan, 10. The Hurricane, 11. Booker T, 12. Kane, 13. Spike Dudley, 14. Rikishi, 15. Rene Dupree, 16. A-Train, 17. Shelton Benjamin, 18. Ernest Miller, 19. Kurt Angle, 20. Rico, 21. Mick Foley, 22. Christian, 23. Nunzio, 24. Big Show, 25. Chris Jericho, 26. Charlie Haas, 27. Billy Gunn, 28. John Cena, 29. Rob Van Dam, 30. Goldberg
1. Bradshaw (by Benoit), 2. Tajiri (by Rhyno), 3. Mark Henry (by Benoit), 4. The Hurricane (by Morgan), 5. Scott Steiner (by Booker), 6. Kane (by Booker), 7. Spike Dudley (never made it to the ring), 8. Rhyno (by Benoit), 9. Matt Hardy (by Dupree), 10. Rene Dupree (by Rikishi), 11. Matt Morgan (by Benoit), 12. Rikishi (by Orton), 13. Booker T (by Orton), 14. A-Train (by Benoit), 15. Shelton Benjamin (by Orton), 16. Ernest Miller (by Orton), 17. Rico (by Orton), 18. Randy Orton (by Foley), 19. Mick Foley (self-eliminated), 20. Christian (by Jericho), 21. Charlie Haas (by Goldberg), 22. Billy Gunn (by Goldberg), 23. Nunzio (by Goldberg), 24. Goldberg (by Angle), 25. Rob Van Dam (by Show), 26. John Cena (by Show), 27. Chris Jericho (by Show), 28. Kurt Angle (by Show), 29. Big Show (by Benoit), WINNER: CHRIS BENOIT
Memorable Moments and Random Tidbits...
Rumble Match Rating
- John Cena and Chris Benoit had to defeat the FBI (Nunzio, Chuck Palumbo, and Johnny Stamboli) to earn their spots in the Royal Rumble on the 1st Smackdown of 2004. In other "Rumble Qualifying Matches", Rikishi def. Scotty 2 Hotty, Team Angle def. The Bashams, Nunzio def. Stamboli and Palumbo (all on the January 15th Smackdown), Matt Morgan def. Orlando Jordan (January 17th Velocity), Rico def. Tommy Dreamer (January 19th Heat), Tajiri def. Billy Kidman, A-Train def. Shannon Moore, and Bradshaw def. Akio and Sakoda (all on the January 22nd Smackdown). That accounts for 2/3 of the Smackdown list of participants.
- Chris Benoit is forced to enter as the #1 entrant, part of yet another Evil Authority Figure vs. Guy They Are Trying to Keep Down angle. This EAF would be Paul Heyman, for those who have forgotten over the last decade (plus).
- This Rumble is the first to list on screen the entrants and their numbers, which sure does make it easy to keep track of. This addition to the production has remained part of the match every year going forward.
- Why does Tajiri go for the Tarantula in every Royal Rumble or Battle Royal? Itís a spot that screams predictability, like Triple H going for a Pedigree near the ropes.
- Scott Steiner makes only his 2nd Royal Rumble Match appearance, 10 years after his first. The only other participants that were involved in both were Rikishi (Fatu in í94) and Billy Gunn (half of the Smoking Gunns in í94).
- What is that awful Non-Harlem Heat music that Booker T is using!?
- The tease of a Deadman Undertaker causes Kane to be eliminated. He takes it out on Spike Dudley, who must be playing the role of Scotty 2 Hotty, never making it to the ring. Yeah, Kane vs. Spike was a thing on Raw for a few weeks.
- Ernest Miller and Lamar (donít ask) provide the comic relief (but minus the comedy), doing a dance routine while Orton and Benoit are selling the beating theyíve taken so far. Benoit "accidentally" rips off Lamarís obvious wig before throwing him out, as well. Since itís the only time Iíll ever talk about Miller, his music was recycled for Brodus Clay.
- Mick Foley makes his first in-ring appearance since WrestleMania 2000, beating up Test and taking his place, to get revenge on Randy Orton who had belittled and badmouthed Foley for being a coward.
- For the second year in a row, Jericho eliminates his "best friend" Christian.
- John Cena sucks up to the Philly crowd by wearing a throwback Tug McGraw jersey. This was back when Cena was still a "thug" and wearing sports jerseys was his thing.
- Nunzio takes the greatest bump on a Spear in the history of professional wrestling.
- The finale of the match, when it comes down to Big Show vs. Benoit, Jericho, RVD, Cena, and Angle is easily the best match-closing sequence in Royal Rumble History (at this point), almost a clever nod that it was Big Show vs. a bunch of smart fan favorites.
- The finale of the 2nd Annual Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal was a call back to the match ending sequence where Benoit had a guillotine choke applied on Big Show. In 2015, it was Damien "Mizdow" in the role of Benoit, but this time Big Show held on for the victory.
- The majority, if not all, of Benoitís eliminations are giants or classically classified "hosses": Bradshaw, Mark Henry, Rhyno, Matt Morgan, A-Train, and Big Show.
- Chris Benoit is the Iron Man of 2004, setting a new record, the first time since 1993, by lasting 1 hour and 2 minutes, just barely surpassing Bob Backlundís record-setting time in 1993. The shortest time spent in the ring goes to the Hurricane, lasting less than 20-seconds. Rene Dupree, Ernest Miller, and Shelton Benjamin also lasted under one minute.
- Chris Benoit threw out 6 participants, most of this Rumble. Randy Orton with the next largest amount, throwing out 5, and Big Show throwing out 4.
: Ignoring the sad decline of the main player of this Rumble, it still holds up as one of the best ever, maybe even better than 1992. You have the match long story of Benoit having to go the distance, along with Randy Orton surprisingly keeping pace until Mick Foley interjected himself. You had one of the best "mini matches" to end the Rumble, with Show vs. The World until it came down to just Show and Benoit. Brock Lesnar made his presence felt on Goldberg, who was cleaning house for his brief time in the ring. You had comedy with Ernest Miller, a cheap elimination of Kane that teased the eventual return of Deadman Undertaker, and from bell-to-bell, just an excellent Rumble. [*****]
- Ric Flair and Batista def. The Dudley Boyz in a Tables Match to retain the (Raw) Tag Team Titles. Ridiculously short for PPV and completely worthless. [DUD]
- Rey Mysterio def. Jamie Noble to retain the Cruiserweight Title in another match that was way too short for a PPV. They actually did a rematch later in the week on Smackdown and didnít give that much time, either. [**]
- Eddie Guerrero def. Chavo Guerrero in yet ANOTHER match that was rushed for no good reason. A big showdown between relatives shouldnít go 8-minutes. [**]
- Brock Lesnar def. Hardcore Holly to retain the WWE Championship. Yes. HARDCRE HOLLY. WWE Championship Contender on a Big 4 PPV. [ * ]
- Triple H and Shawn Michaels went to a No Contest in a Last Man Standing Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The typical PPV circle jerk from these two when it came to PPV. Not nearly as dull as Bad Bloodís Hell in a Cell Match. [***]
2005 (January 30th, Save Mart Center at Fresno State @ Fresno, CA)
Participant Order of Entry and Elimination...
1. Eddie Guerrero, 2. Chris Benoit, 3. Daniel Puder, 4. Hardcore Holly, 5. The Hurricane, 6. Kenzo Suzuki, 7. Edge, 8. Rey Mysterio, 9. Shelton Benjamin, 10. Booker T, 11. Chris Jericho, 12. Luther Reigns, 13. Muhammad Hassan, 14. Orlando Jordan, 15. Scotty 2 Hotty, 16. Charlie Haas, 17. Rene Dupree, 18. Simon Dean, 19. Shawn Michaels, 20. Kurt Angle, 21. Jonathon Coachman, 22. Mark Jindrak, 23. Viscera, 24. Paul London, 25. John Cena, 26. Snitsky, 27. Kane, 28. Batista, 29. Christian, 30. Ric Flair
1. Daniel Puder (by Holly), 2. Hardcore Holly (by Benoit & Guerrero), 3. The Hurricane (by Guerrero), 4. Kenzo Suzuki (by Mysterio), 5. Muhammad Hassan (by Jericho, Reigns, Benoit, Edge, Booker, and Shelton), 6. Scotty 2 Hotty (never made it to the ring), 7. Luther Reigns (by Booker), 8. Orlando Jordan (by Booker), 9. Booker T (by E. Guerrero), 10. Shelton Benjamin (by Edge), 11. Eddie Guerrero (by Edge), 12. Simon Dean (by Michaels), 13. Charlie Haas (by Michaels), 14. Kurt Angle (by Michaels), 15. Shawn Michaels (illegally by Angle), 16. Rene Dupree (by Jericho), 17. Viscera (by Cena), 18. Paul London (by Snitsky), 19. Mark Jindrak (by Kane), 20. Snitsky (by Batista), 21. Chris Jericho (by Batista), 22. Kane (by Cena), 23. Jonathon Coachman (by Flair), 24. Christian (by Batista), 25. Chris Benoit (by Flair), 26. Ric Flair (by Edge), 27. Rey Mysterio (by Edge), 28. Edge (by Cena & Batista), 29. John Cena (by Batista), WINNER: BATISTA
Memorable Moments and Random Tidbits...
Rumble Match Rating:
- More fun with promotional posters: most of the Raw and Smackdown rosters are featured in a spoof of "West Side Story." Rey Mysterio wearing a wig over his mask is just ridiculously awesome.
- The first official entrant announced for the Royal Rumble Match... Tough Enough IV "Winner", Daniel Puder.
- Royal Rumble Qualifying Matches: Booker T and Charlie Haas def. Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns (January 9th @ Orlando, FL), Shelton Benjamin def. Maven (January 16th Heat), Edge def. Rhyno (January 16th Heat), Christian def. William Regal (January 14th @ Minneapolis, MN), Luther Reigns and Mark Jindrak def. Scotty 2 Hotty and Nunzio (January 15th @ Kitchener, Ontario), Kane def. Gene Snitsky (January 15th @ Grand Forks, ND), Chris Jericho def. Muhammad Hassan (January 16h @ Winnipeg, Manitoba), Orlando Jordan def. Charlie Haas (January 16th @ Halifax, Nova Scotia), Scotty 2 Hotty def. Akio, John Cena def. Rene Dupree, Rey Mysterio def. Chavo Guerrero (all on the January 20th Smackdown), Kenzo Suzuki def. Paul London (January 22nd @ Amarillo, TX), Hardcore Holly def. Danny Basham (January 23rd @ Tupelo, MS), The Hurricane def. Chris Masters (January 23rd @ Tulsa, OK), Viscera def. Tajiri, Batista def. La Resistance, and Muhammad Hassan def. Val Venis (all on January 24th Raw), and Paul London def. Funaki, Shannon Moore, and Spike Dudley (January 27th Smackdown). They really got carried away with the concept this year, with obvious double chances.
- Chris Benoit gets to start this Royal Rumble, too. Combining his winning effort of 2004 through his eventual elimination near the end of this match, he spent nearly a combined 2 hours in the ring for his consecutive performances.
- Daniel Puder makes his one and only in-ring appearance after winning Tough Enough, being treated to 4 minutes of vicious chops from Benoit, Guerrero, and Holly. I guess this was an attempt to humble Puder after shooting on Angle and nearly breaking his arm on an episode of Smackdown during the TE competition. I guess Eddie being part of the fun lessens the complaints of smart fans of Holly and Benoit hazing a rookie.
- Worst group of lackies for a top heel: Kurt Angleís unnamed team of henchman consisting of Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns (no relation to Roman), or JBLís Cabinet, The Bashams and Orlando Jordan?
- We get a big "Raw vs. Smackdown" showdown when we have 4 from each brand in the ring. Immediately after that, Muhammad Hassan enters, which unites both brands in tossing him out.
- Scotty 2 Hotty makes his first Rumble appearance since 2002, and his streak continues: Hassan assaults him on the way to the ring, resulting in Scotty not being able to make it to the ring.
- Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin briefly unite for "old times sake." Yeah, they only broke up a year before this, but Haas was shipped to Smackdown as a JTTS while Benjamin prospered on Raw and was the reigning Intercontinental Champion.
- Simon Deanís pre-match work-out is credited for the distraction that allowed Eddie Guerrero to be eliminated. Shawn Michaels entered next and had fun mocking Simon Dean after his elimination.
- Kurt Angle ripped off Nunzio for his spot in the Rumble.
- Who gave the OK to let COACH stay in the match for nearly 20-minutes? Maybe its another infamous Royal Rumble rib where someone lasts a while for the sake of blowing them up and making them look like a goof.
- Shawn Michaels with the 3rd blade-job in Royal Rumble Match History. Former Superstars Dean Malenko, Dave Finlay, and Steve Kiern are among the gaggle of officials and agents that show up to break things up.
- Paul London with the greatest bump in Royal Rumble history, selling a clothesline and doing a 180 flip, landing face-first on the arena floor. He was a just inches away from a bad landing on his head and neck. Iím sure Iíve read elsewhere that people backstage were not pleased with his choice of a career-threatening elimination bump.
- Vince McMahon runs to the ring to clear up the controversy of the double elimination finish and blows out both quads entering the ring. He still stays composed enough, sitting on the canvas, to direct the referees what to do.
- Chris Benoit is the Iron Man for the second year in a row, lasting 47-minutes. Simon Dean and Muhammad Hassan were both in for less than one minute.
- Batista with a meager 5 eliminations tops the list this year. Edge with 4, 5 if you include the body surfing elimination of Hassan. Even J.R. noted nobody really dominated this Rumble.
One of those Rumbles that somehow slips through the cracks for the top of the list. You went the route of teasing that Benoit might accomplish the impossible two years in a row and kept Eddie in for the ride most of the way. Cena and Batista coming in late to dominate and making a strong case for either to win the Rumble. The "hazing" booking Daniel Puder, the Raw vs. Smackdown Clash and the eventual alliance to gang up on Hassan, and planting the seeds for Shawn vs. Angle are a few of the notable spots. [****]
- Maven def. Rhyno on Sunday Night Heat. Yeah, Maven was still around. [NR]
- Edge def. Shawn Michaels in a surprisingly dull opener. Both were scheduled to appear in the Rumble Match, so maybe they were holding back, but yeah, not as good as expected. Edge was freshly turned heel after teasing it for a while, and was still finding his footing as a despicable jerk. [**1/2]
- The Undertaker def. Heidenreich in a Casket Match. Interference from Kane and Snitsky teased what couldíve been the worst Tag Team Match of 2005. Awful. [ * ]
- JBL def. Kurt Angle and the Big Show to retain the WWE Championship when he pinned Angle. Surprisingly good considering JBL and Big Show were involved. All it did was lead us into an awful JBL/Big Show Main Event at No Way Out. [***]
- Triple H def. Randy Orton to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Hunter beat Orton silly, teasing a concussion, but the crowd was barely into Orton as a babyface. The work was fine and the story of Orton being knocked out and unable to defend himself was fine, but without much of a reason to cheer him, it felt flat. [***]
Final Thoughts: An impressive string of Royal Rumbles to begin the new Millennium. 2000 was probably the weakest of the bunch, but it holds a soft spot for me because of the location and set design. 2001 delivers a home run and one of the greatest performances from (at one time) one of my favorites (thatís got to be Kane!). 2002 is solid from start to finish, and 2003 delivers a strong effort even with a weak second half. Iíd still consider 2004 arguably the best Rumble Match of all-time. Next time we will cover the years 2006 through 2010. This is when things start to blur together for me, so it should be interesting. Until then...
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