The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2011

I’ve had requests for a Royal Rumble Kindle book, but this is the one show I’m missing.  So here it is!  I wasn’t even watching the product at the time, so this is basically all new to me aside from knowing who the winner was.  My exposure was limited to WWE sending me DVDs to review, and otherwise I was exclusively watching Classics on Demand for my fix.  I barely even remember who the champions were or what the issues were, so I’m kind of looking forward to going in blind!

Live from Boston, MA

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Matt Striker and Jerry Lawler.

World Heavyweight title:  Edge v. Dolph Ziggler

The spear is BANNED tonight during one of Vickie Guerrero’s reigns as Smackdown GM.  Given the way Edge’s neck turned out, he probably should have heeded that warning.  Dolph is noticeably more ripped here than he has been in recent times.  Not that I’m accusing anyone of anything.  Dolph slugs him down to start, but gets whipped into the corner and kneed for two.  Edge with a gutbuster for two.  Knee to the gut gets two.  To the floor, but Dolph catches him with a cheapshot on the way back in to take over, and gets two.  To the chinlock, but Edge fights out, so Dolph gets a sunset flip for two, reversed by Edge into a catapult for two.  Ziggler puts him down with a neckbreaker for two.  Back to the chinlock, as Dolph channels his inner Randy Orton and grinds on that for a while, but they collide on a bodypress attempt and everyone is out.  Dolph recovers first and misses the blind charge, but Edge isn’t allowed to spear him.  He hits a flapjack instead and makes the comeback, with a bulldog for two.  Ziggler counters the Downward Spiral with something like a Franchiser, and that gets two.  Edge counters the fameasser with a powerbomb for two as Striker is already getting on my nerves with his melodramatic clichéd commentary.  They fight to the top and Edge fights out of a superplex, but Dolph rolls through a bodypress for two.  Ziggler with a dropkick for two as the crowd starts to get on his side.  Edge takes him down with his Edgecution submission, but Dolph makes the ropes.  Edge charges and clotheslines himself, and Dolph hits the fameasser for two.  The crowd is really buying into the near-falls here.  Edge puts him down with a big boot and sets him up for a spear, but Ziggler catches him with the sleeper.  Edge turns it into the Impaler DDT for two, but Vickie makes the save.  Edge rolls Dolph up for two, but Kelly Kelly beats up Vickie to get rid of her, while Dolph hits the Zig Zag for two and freaks out the crowd.  Another try at the sleeper, which Striker completely mis-explains.  The sleeper doesn’t cut off oxygen, it cuts off blood via the carotid artery.  A choke cuts off oxygen.  Unless he meant that it cuts of blood to the brain, which carries oxygen, but really he doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.  Edge escapes and bumps the referee, and with everyone unconscious he takes the opportunity to use the spear, which has Heel Michael Cole aghast.  Edge finishes with an Unprettier as a shout-out to Christian at 20:44 to retain.  Turned into a hell of a match to hook the crowd and keep everyone on the edge of their seats, pardon the pun.  ****  Dolph would soon end up with the belt in the most backhanded way possible.

WWE title:  The Miz v. Randy Orton

Oh yeah, Miz used to be WWE champion.  I seriously forgot about that.  I will say, at least Miz as champion had confidence and swagger that is totally missing today.  Like, a totally different person now.  That being said, he was treated like a fluke champion and, dare I say, a B+ player next to the likes of Randy Orton and John Cena.  Orton beats him down in various corners of the ring, but Miz’s lapdog Alex Riley gets a cheapshot from the outside and allows Miz to take over.  Miz with the corner clothesline for two.  We hit the chinlock, and Miz puts him down with a knee for two.  Miz boots him down for two.  Elbow gets two.  We get a horrendously dull heat segment on Orton with Cole openly cheering for the Miz, but Orton fights back with a superplex for two.  They slug it out and Orton tries the draping DDT, but gets backdropped to the floor as a result.  Back in, Miz with a double axehandle for two.  He goes to a chinlock as this thing drags on, due to Miz having no idea how to build to a climax in this kind of environment.  Back to the floor, where he catapults Orton into the post, but he recovers at 8 and makes the comeback. So yeah, more clotheslines and the Garvin Stomp (which thank god he’s retired now) for two.  A-Ry gets involved yet again and Miz gets a neckbreaker for two.  Orton with an Angle Slam for two to escape the Finale.  Miz grabs the belt and takes a walk, but Orton cuts him off, only for Miz to get a DDT for two.  Orton rolls him up for two and follows with the draping DDT, but now the Nexus comes out and distracts Orton.  Randy gets rid of Riley by tossing him onto the Nexus losers, but CM Punk runs in and hits Orton with a GTS and puts Miz on top at 19:53.  That was WAY too long for that stupid TV finish.  **1/2  Miz was like a lost sheep out there, struggling to stretch the match out to 20 minutes with his 5 minute offense.  And they STILL put this guy out there to die in the main event of Wrestlemania!  No wonder that show sucked ass.

Divas title:  Natalya v. LayCool

The anonymous RAW GM buzzes in before the match and adds Eve Torres for some reason.

Divas title:  Natalya v. Layla v. Michelle McCool v. Eve Torres

This earth-shattering announcement gets no reaction from the crowd, since Eve had not yet developed a personality.  LayCool gets rid of Eve and Natalya fights them off alone, but the heels are left to face each other.  It’s like a really shitty Royal Rumble!  The babyfaces chase off LayCool, but Natalya gets a bizarre double Sharpshooter on Eve and Layla.  I have no idea who that was supposed to hurt.  Nattie fights off Laycool , but Eve dumps Natalya and moonsaults Layla for the pin at 5:13 to win the title.  ½*

Meanwhile, a clean-shaven Daniel Bryan and girlfriend Gail Kim (WTF was that about?) offer comments on the Rumble, but the Bella Twins interrupt with apologies for their previous shenanigans.  That ends up very badly for everyone.

Royal Rumble: 

This was the one year they tried 40 men, due to all the Nexus and Corre guys needing spots.  CM Punk draws #1, and we suddenly get a giant Nexus v. Corre brawl until the anonymous RAW GM breaks it up with an e-mail.  And then the #2 guy is Daniel Bryan.  So that’s an awesome way to start.  We get some teased eliminations as the crowd is heavily torn between these two internet geeks that no one cares about.  Bryan misses a charge and Justin Gabriel is #3.  He attacks Punk and quickly tries the 450, but it misses and Bryan dumps him at 2:35.  Bryan goes back to beating on Punk as Zack Ryder is #4, long before he meant anything on TV.  Broski boot on Punk and the Roughrider, but Bryan dumps him at 3:57.  Sign at ringside:  “Jobber Exit This Way” Now there’s some quality snark.  William Regal is #5 and he wants to beat on everyone.  I approve.  He suplexes both guys around and knees Punk down, then has an awesome forearm battle with Bryan.  And then everyone trades stiff kicks until only Bryan remains.  Ted Dibiase is #6 and he’s throwing dropkicks!  Bryan tries to get him out, and John Morrison is #7.  He runs wild and hits Bryan with a C-4, but Dibiase dumps him…and he lands on the railing and hangs on!  He jumps to the stairs (itself an amazing spot) and stays in.  Why do they not throw money at this guy and bring him back?  Yoshi Tatsu is #8 because, you know, 40 men.  Regal gets eliminated at some point during the JoMo parkour show, call it 10:00.  Husky Harris is #9 and he’s running interference for Punk, and he’s definitely in better shape these days.  Chavo Guerrero is #10 as more filler, and hits the Three Amigos on Dibiase, Punk, Morrison and finally Bryan.  Harris lays him out to end that run.

Mark Henry is #11 and splits wigs, dumping Chavo at 15:21 and Tatsu at 15:49.  JTG is #12 because 40 men.  Husky beats on Bryan, who promptly quits and joins the Harris family rather than fight on.  No, wait, that’s not right, that would be fucking stupid.  Michael McGuillicutty is #13, and he’s also Team Punk for those like myself who can’t keep track without a scorecard.  He dropkicks JTG out at 18:10, and there’s a real accomplishment for your resume.  The Nexus geeks backdrop Dibiase out at 19:08, and Chris Masters is #14.  There’s another guy they need to get back again.  Masterlock on Punk looks to put him out, but Perfect Jr. makes the save.  David Otunga is #15, and Bryan gets dumped at 21:16, followed by Masters at 21:23, Morrison at 21:40, and Mark Henry at 22:05 to finish clearing the ring.  Tyler Reks is #16 and he’s pretty much fucked given it’s the Nexus all alone in there.  And they swarm Reks and toss him at 23:07.  Vlad Koslov is #17 and he gives it a go, but as a comedy guy he gets nowhere and the Nexus destroys him at 24:35.  R-Truth is #18 but he’s not high level enough and also gets mauled and thrown out with suitable snark by Punk at 26:30.  I think we can all see the payoff for this gag coming.  Great Khali is #19 and he manages to fight them off and toss Harris at 27:48.  Mason Ryan replaces him as the Nexus guy at #20, however, and dumps Khali at 28:40 to leave it all Nexus, all the time.

John Cena has to be coming soon here to clear the heels out, especially with all the dead space of the Nexus waiting for their next victims.  Booker T makes is surprise return at #21, however, and the crowd goes insane.  Striker is marking out, bro.  SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY.  Booker manages to hold his own and gives us a Spinarooni, at which point Punk blindsides him and Ryan tosses him at 31:15.   Punk is feeling confident about his chances at this point, and HERE’S John Cena to pay this off.  OK, finally.  Great Khali was one too many.  And yes, Cena kicks the shit out of them and rids us of Otunga, Ryan and McGillicutty at 33:00 at one time.  Punk is alone and tries a GTS, but Cena clotheslines him down and both guys are out.  Hornswoggle is #23, pulling double duty after two anonymous GM e-mails, and I’m not liking his chances here.  An irritated Punk kicks him down and goes after Cena, but gets FU’d to the floor at 35:40 to end his night.  Cena makes peace with the midget and Tyson Kidd is #24.  Hornswoggle takes him down with a flying headscissors in a physics-defying move, and then hits his own FU to allow Cena to finish him off at 37:23. Geez, poor Kidd.  Heath Slater is #25 and he too is no match for MIDGET MADNESS, as he takes a 10 Knuckle Shuffle and frog splash before going goodbye at 39:08.  Kofi Kingston is #26 to hopefully end the alleged comedy, and they’re STARING AT THE SIGN to really hammer home how serious this is.  So Kofi controls with a dropkick and hammers away in the corner, but Jack Swagger is #27.  He takes out both babyfaces, but stops to yell at Hornswoggle and gets Boomdropped as a result.  This midget stuff is really killing the flow of the match.  King Sheamus is #28 in his heel bully phase, and he beats up Hornswoggle to prove that.  And thankfully boots him out at 44:11.  Rey Mysterio is #29 as thankfully things can get serious again, and he runs wild on everyone until Sheamus cuts him off.  Swagger gets eliminated via 619 at 45:59, and I’ve got some good news:  Wade Barrett is #30.  The bad news:  There’s still 10 more guys to come.

So he runs wild and hits Cena with the bossman slam, but Kofi throws kicks in the corner as Dolph Ziggler is #31 and everyone gangs up on Cena with no success.  Diesel is #32 for the mega-pop of the night, with freshly dyed hair.  I know it can’t happen for a variety of reasons, but can you imagine the reaction Scott Hall would get coming out for a Rumble spot as Razor Ramon one last time?  Nash beats on a variety of guys, but Drew McIntyre is #33 as the crowd is unabashedly cheering for Diesel.  DO YOU SEE WHAT THIS CROWD DID?!  If you want to point fingers for the way the Summer of Punk went, look no further than this crowd.  THANKS A LOT, JERKS.  Alex Riley is #34 as Barrett boots Diesel out at 52:44, and everyone starts ignoring the match while Cole sucks up to the Miz at the commentary desk.  Big Show is #35 and we get a Show-Diesel staredown that thankfully went nowhere.  Show chokeslams some people and tosses Ziggler at 55:09, and then Drew at 55:28.  Big Zeke is #36 and he immediately throws Big Show out a 56:00.  He’s still under contract, by the way. Just sitting at home doing nothing.  Speaking of sitting at home doing nothing, Santino is #37 and foolishly goes after Jackson, resulting in him getting knocked out of the ring under the bottom rope.  Alberto Del Rio is #38 and Riley gets eliminated off-screen.  Del Rio’s entrance is so long that Randy Orton is #39 before he even makes it to the ring, and Orton lays out Del Rio on the floor.  In the ring, RKO for Del Rio, RKO for Sheamus, RKO for Kofi and out at 61:00, Sheamus out at 61:06.  And then Cena and Orton have the biggest Wrestlemania Moment Epic Fail in history, as they point to the sign and the crowd shits all over it.  Awesome.  And Kane is #40 to close out the bloated field.

Kane takes out Orton and dumps Jackson at 62:53, but Rey catches him in a headscissors and dumps him at 63:51, only to get tossed out by Barrett at 64:00.  The final four:  Cena, Barrett, Orton and Del Rio.  Barrett gets Cena to the apron but can’t close the deal, and again we get the stupid Cena v. Orton tease.  Barrett breaks it up with a suplex on Orton, and Cena hits Del Rio with an FU.  This brings Miz into the ring to dump Cena at 66:54, setting up their epic Wrestlemania fail.  So Orton is alone against Barrett and Del Rio, and he manages to hold his own.  He bumps Wade at 68:56, but Del Rio dumps him right back at 69:00 to win the thing.  However, TWIST ENDING, as Santino is still alive under the ring, and he loads up the Cobra, but also can’t close and gets eliminated for real at 70:17 to give Del Rio the win and MAIN EVENT OF WRESTLEMANIA.  By which I mean the opening match where he did the job while the crowd was still coming in.  This had its moments, but the whole Nexus segment was way too long, and the Cena-midget comedy segment that followed was also too long, basically filling up the extra time with unneeded bloat where a 30 man Rumble would have served the purpose much better.  Still, it’s a Rumble, it’s generally pretty good even with the flaws of this year.  ***1/4

Four matches, two were pretty good, two not at all, but that’s a good enough ratio for a recommendation.  I literally couldn’t have told you any of the matches aside from the Rumble, though, which shows how forgettable this whole period was.  And everyone forgot to buy Wrestlemania as a result.

Thumbs mildly up.