Unpopular Opinion: John Cena vs. Umaga from Royal Rumble 2007 Isn’t An All-Time Match

Welcome to the first Unpopular Opinion of 2020.  Apologies for the long gap since my last installment. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to try and make this once a month column because I am quite an opinionated chap.

The PTBN stretch project for 2019 was to find the “Greatest WWE Televised Match of All-Time.”  At the moment on The Special Relations podcast, (found exclusively on the Place To Be Nation Wrestling Podcast Feed) we are two-thirds of the way through revealing our personal lists.  This column is focusing on one of the matches that I know has made the top twenty of the complete list.  For me it made it as high as 71 and I think it was lucky to make it that high.  The opinion for this column is:

John Cena v Umaga from Royal Rumble 2007 Isn’t An All-Time

I will be totally honest from the outset, 2007 is a time period that doesn’t hold any great emotional attachment to me.  I was watching the big PPVs (such as this one) but wasn’t watching any of the weekly shows.  I was already getting bored of Cena, in fact it was the Punk series of 2011 that started changing my mind.  I had trouble vocalising my feelings about this match until I heard the Wrestling Warzone podcast about Royal Rumble ’96.  In it, JT describes the Bret Hart v Undertaker main event as a ‘refrigerator match’.  He was referring to when you keep going to the fridge hoping to find something good and there isn’t anything there.  For the purposes of this column I am not saying the match isn’t very good (it’s number 71 on my list for God’s sake) but I know some people have had it as a top 10 and even the number 1 match.  The match is very good but is not reaching those best of all-time levels.

I have watched the match on a few occasions in preparation for the project and it always reaches the same level of very good and in some parts gets as high as great.  The match for me is too slow paced, especially at the beginning to get any higher than there. As I said though there are some parts of the match I really like, I’m referring to everything from the missed running splash through the table onwards and then the STFU with the broke ring rope too.  The sequence does present another issue I have, not just with this match but last man standing matches in general.  The two competitors have put untold damage into each other and one has to stand there whilst the ref counts away.  It’s a very anti-climatic way of finishing off a blood feud (Cena is bleeding like a pig) and whilst for some people it is definitive and satisfying, for me it is a disappointment.  

I have listened to a lot of podcasts on this fine network with people whose opinion I greatly respect and to say that this match is divisive is an understatement.  The people who love it really LOVE it and are seeing things that I and a few others just don’t see.  As I have said I think it’s a good match but I don’t believe it is an all time like some others think.

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Unpopular Opinion, I will be back at some point in March with something Wrestlemania related (it is the season after all) but in the mean time you can reach me on Twitter at @benl1981.

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