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Royal Rumble: Through The Years (Part 3, 2000-2005)

by Scrooge McSuck

Royal Rumble Through the Years

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

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]

    The Undercard...
  1. 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]
  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]
  3. 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...
  4. 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. [**]
  5. 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*]
  6. 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

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]

The Undercard...

  1. 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]
  2. 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. [***]
  3. 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]
  4. 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. [-**]
  5. 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

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]

    The Undercard...
  1. 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]
  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. [**]
  3. 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. [ * ]
  4. 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). [**]
  5. 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

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]

    The Undercard...
  1. Spike Dudley def. Steven Richards on Sunday Night Heat [NR]
  2. 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]
  3. 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]
  4. Torrie Wilson def. Dawn Marie. Move along, nothing to see here. [-*]
  5. 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. [-***]
  6. 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

Rumble Match Rating: 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. [*****]

    The Undercard...
  1. 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]
  2. 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. [**]
  3. 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. [**]
  4. Brock Lesnar def. Hardcore Holly to retain the WWE Championship. Yes. HARDCRE HOLLY. WWE Championship Contender on a Big 4 PPV. [ * ]
  5. 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

Rumble Match Rating: 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. [****]

    The Undercard...
  1. Maven def. Rhyno on Sunday Night Heat. Yeah, Maven was still around. [NR]
  2. 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]
  3. 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. [ * ]
  4. 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. [***]
  5. 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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