The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2016 – 01.24.16
Live from Orlando, FL
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Byron-Bot & JBL
Sadly I have no Chex Mix to accommodate the occasion, but I am enjoying some Humpty Dumpty snack mix tonight instead.
Vince & Steph arrive in the back, because god knows going one show without having them would kill us all.
Intercontinental title, Last Man Standing: Dean Ambrose v. Kevin Owens
Ambrose quickly wins a slugfest and hits Owens with a dive to the floor, wiping out Michael Cole in the process. Ambrose finds a kendo stick from the magic stash under the ring, but Owens fights him off with a superkick on the floor. He follows with a cannonball into the railing as they’re going 100 miles an hour to start this thing. Dean is up at 8 and Owens fires back with the kendo stick as they head back in the ring again. Back to the floor as Owens tosses him around and selects some chairs for the next weapon of choice. Ambrose fights back with the rebound lariat, but Owens lays him out with a chairshot and tries the powerbomb on the chairs. Ambrose reverses out of that for the double count, but Owens bails to escape and suckers Ambrose into another dive. Owens catches him and sends him into the stairs, but Dean is up at 8 with help from the stairs. So next up is a table, as Kevin always makes sure to take time for his fans while setting them up. Guy at ringside: “I feel like you’re wasting your time right now.” Man’s got a point. So they head to the top and Ambrose tosses a chair at Owens to knock him down again. This gives us a funny visual of Owens with a chair hanging on his neck while Ambrose slugs away, but Owens tries the powerbomb, reversed into Dirty Deeds by Ambrose. Owens is up at 8 doing some great goofy selling, and Ambrose gives him Dirty Deeds on a chair this time. Owens rolls out of the ring at 9 and onto his feet to break the count. That feels like a cheat, but that’s Owens for you. So Ambrose sets up his own table while those other two are still hanging over the match, and he puts Owens through with a flying elbow. Owens is up at 8 and they back into the ring, where Ambrose hits him with chairs while Owens yells “I HATE YOU!” Well he just got hit with a chair, it’s understandable. They head to the top, but Owens reverses him into the fisherman’s buster through another table. Well, Owens did just say that he hated him! Ambrose should have seen that coming. Ambrose beats the count, but Owens hits him with a pop-up powerbomb, but Dean is up at 9. So now shit gets real, as Owens sets up chairs and goes up for a moonsault, but Ambrose shoves him through Chekhov’s Table Stack to escape and retains the title at 20:14. Things I liked: It was violent but not dangerous, super well-worked, fast-paced, the crowd was hot, and the finish was one guy beating another one. Things I didn’t: Ambrose probably could have eaten the loss better than Owens, but that’s minor. Spectacular opener. ****1/2
WWE tag team titles: The New Day v. The Usos
Kofi and Big E call for a moment of silence for the trombone, only to SWERVE us by revealing a brand new one: Francesca 2! Xavier couldn’t mourn forever. I do find it kind of hilarious that no one considered that he would just go to a store and buy a new trombone. New Day are the clear babyfaces here, especially with the new instrument. I do appreciate that the Usos are starting to vary their look so we can tell them apart, although Jimmy is looking a LOT like Umaga at this point. The Usos double-team Kofi and the fans just straight up boo them for that, but Jey gets sent into the post and they brawl outside. Xavier turns the tide and the New Day gets the heat on Jey while Xavier yells at Michael Cole for BIASED reporting. The crowd chants “Play Francesca” and Xavier DENIES them because he’s a jerk. Jey and Kofi have an awkward collision in the corner while trying kicks, but Big E gets a splash anyway. Kofi pounds away in the corner while Xavier finally gives in and starts playing, and Kofi looks like he’s about to crack up any second. “Hot” tag to Jimmy as the crowd doesn’t give a shit and only wants more New Day. Jimmy runs wild with a flying corkscrew for two, but Jey gets taken out by Kofi and Big E get two on Jimmy with a suplex. Everyone fights on the apron and Big E spears Jimmy to the floor. Back in, that gets two. Jimmy makes another comeback and Jey comes in with the flying splash, but Kofi is under the ropes. Big E finally gets rid of Jimmy and Kofi rolls up for Jey for two, but Jey superkicks him and goes up again. He lands in a Big Ending and that’s it at 10:51. This was a sloppy mess in places and the heat was all messed up because the crowd didn’t want to cheer the Usos, but it was entertaining enough. **1/2 New Day really doesn’t need to lose the titles until after WM, when they can bring up someone fresh.
US title: Alberto Del Rio v. Kalisto
Del Rio takes him down and a low kick gets two, but he slugs away in the corner and Kalisto dumps him and follows with a dive. Back in, Del Rio catches him with an enzuigiri for two. JBL stops to point out that it’s a David & Goliath story, but in the “real world” Goliath wins. Actually, in the “real world”, we have UFC, where it was firmly established that Goliath got his ass kicked because size doesn’t matter in the martial arts. It’s only Vince McMahon’s fantasies where Goliath always wins. Del Rio tosses Kalisto out of the ring and follows with a double knee gutbuster for two. JBL’s “Kalisto is really short and Del Rio is great!” heel act is REALLY grating here. I GET THE FUCKING STORYLINE, SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY. Del Rio with the superkick for two and we get the first official POINT TO SIGN of the show. Kalisto comes back with a tornado DDT for two and rana for two. Kalisto goes up and Del Rio superplexes him, and Kalisto botches his sunset flip REALLY badly and still gets two. Del Rio goes up and we set up for the stupid foot stomp, but it misses and Salinas Del Sol gets two. Del Rio catches him with double knees for two and undoes the turnbuckle, but Kalisto sends him into it and wins the title back with Salinas Del Sol at 11:35. I really don’t get the point of what they’re doing with this feud. Match never clicked either, like at all. And JBL’s Sledgehammer of Plot commentary so completely telegraphed the finish that it was obvious what was happening less than a minute into the match. **1/4
Meanwhile, Paul Heyman stops by to say hi to Stephanie and graciously will agree to renegotiate Brock’s contract once he eliminates everyone to win the title.
Divas title: Charlotte v. Becky Lynch
We get some tumbling to start for a stalemate and Becky controls with armdrags. They hit the floor for more abuse from Becky, but Ric Flair plants one on Becky to distract her, and Charlotte takes over. Becky gets a rollup for two, but Charlotte dropkicks her for two and works her over with the headscissors. Becky escapes with an electric chair and makes the comeback, but Charlotte takes her down with a neckbreaker out of the corner. Becky tries a figure-four and Charlotte counters with a rollup for two, but Becky gets the exploder suplex for two. Another one gets two. Charlotte reverses the armbar for two and spears her for two. They head to the top and Becky takes her down with a flying armbar, but Charlotte reverses with the Bob Backlund lift into a powerbomb for two. Charlotte accidentally baseball slides Ric, however, and Becky cradles for two and gets the armbar. Flair distracts her to break, and Charlotte finishes with the spear at 11:42. Everything after the opener has had some really flat finishes tonight. Hard work from the girls, though. **3/4 And with Becky out of the way, Sasha Banks returns to lay out both women and challenge for the next title shot. About time.
Royal Rumble match:
Not a fan of Robo-Saxton’s new “By the Numbers” video package reading, as he sounds even more robotic than usual. Roman Reigns is of course #1 and is of course booed out of the building. This is gonna be a long night. The idiot announcers are immediately all “The WWE Universe is great because they cheer who they want! They’re having fun, Maggle!” Rusev is #2 and they slug it out, but Rusev is unable to dump Roman over the top. Rusev does send him through the middle and stops to celebrate like an idiot, allowing Roman to dump him at 1:35. AJ STYLES is #3 and the crowd goes batshit for that. AJ immediately gets the Pele Kick and tries the Styles Clash, but Roman reverses to the samoan drop as Tyler Breeze is #4. Tyler gets to run wild for about 5 seconds before AJ destroys him and dumps him at 5:15. Curtis Axel is #5 in his quest to avenge last year, but AJ and Roman team up to kill all the Social Jobbers and AJ dumps Axel at 7:08. So that running gag is dead. Chris Jericho is #6 and you have to think that Jericho v. Styles would be an awesome match we’ve never seen before. Jericho reverses a charge on Roman, but Styles lays him out and tries the Styles Clash, which Jericho reverses into the Walls before Roman breaks it up. Kane is #7 and he lays everyone out but can’t get Jericho out. Why wouldn’t everyone just team up on Reigns? It’s not exactly “One vs All” at this point. Goldust is #8 and he slugs away on Kane, but the crowd is still only interested in Styles. Ryback is #9 and he gets his shine, but then it’s right back to guys laying around again. Kofi Kingston is #10 for his annual wacky spots and there’s nothing going on outside of Styles taking a crazy backdrop from Ryback and nearly getting eliminated. Titus O’Neil is #11 as the ring keeps filling up with deadwood. So he runs wild for a bit and eliminates Goldust at 17:19. R-Truth is #12 and he apparently thinks it’s a ladder match. Thankfully Kane throws him out at 19:00. Har har. Kane clotheslines Kofi out, but he lands on Big E’s shoulders and they take a victory lap and stop for a refreshing soda. Luke Harper is #13, and now the League of Midcarders all drag Roman out at the behest of Vince and mug him outside the ring. Well given no one in the ring apparently has any interest in eliminating him, someone had to do something. Stardust is #14 as the extended beatdown on Reigns continues with a Rusev splash through the Spanish table. So do they throw him into the ring at this point? No, of course not, they just leave so he can lay there and recover. Big Show is #15 as the parade of geeks continues unabated. Show tosses Titus at 25:15 and Ryback at 25:22 and Roman is being led to the back, for certain gone from the match. For real, yo!
Neville is #16 and Jericho gets rid of Kofi for real and AJ continues to be the star of the match. Brown Snowman is #17 and he tosses Kane at 28:22 and slugs it out with Show in YOUR Wrestlemania main event. Slowman chokes him out and Show falls out at 29:24. Kevin Owens is #18, selling a bad leg from earlier. Are they really that hard up for bodies? He immediately throws down with AJ for some awesomeness, and tosses him at 30:50. Uh oh, the crowd is gonna be angry about that. Dean Ambrose is #19 but the crowd still wants AJ. More standing around and doing nothing as Sami Zayn is #20 to hopefully thrown down with Owens. Sami indeed beats on him and tosses him at 34:39, so good on him. Erick Rowan is #21 as obviously we’re getting all the Wyatts at the end for Brock to run through. Harper clotheslines Neville off the apron and out at 36:20, and superkicks Stardust out at 36:30. Mark Henry is #22 as we rebuild the deadwood for Brock. The Wyatts triple-team him and he’s gone at 38:05, however. Sami is out at 38:37. Brock Lesnar is #23 and shit is on. He clubs Rowan out at 40:00 and destroys all in his path. Jack Swagger is #24. Wow. He immediately walks into an F5 like a geek and he’s gone at 41:18. Is that a snake on his tights or a big steaming turd? Brock just throws running knees at Stroman, and Miz is #25. We could really use some star power right about now. Miz doesn’t even get in the ring, going to the commentary desk instead to avoid Brock. Brock continues suplexing people and dumps Harper at 44:19. Alberto Del Rio is #26 as the double duty continues and Reigns gets a free pass. Brock finally clotheslines Snowman out at 45:50, but now Bray Wyatt is lucky #27. And the Wyatts all hid under the ring and gang up on Brock. Are they seriously doing two of the exact same angle in the same MATCH? Brock throws him all out like garbage again, but they just keep coming back in and toss Brock out at 48:30. Oh yeah, there’s your Wrestlemania match, like it or not. Dolph Ziggler is #28 as Brock meekly leaves instead of beating the shit out of Bray in revenge. So now Miz decides to enter the match and attacks Dolph with the Skull Crushing Finale, and Sheamus is #29. But now Reigns finally returns and tosses Miz at 51:28, and Del Rio at 51:39. This would be the point where the idiot writers put (***) on the script to indicate the big pop, but the crowd continues booing the shit out of him. And of course, HHH is #30 as everyone predicted. So everyone gets to lay around while Reigns and HHH have their big staredown. Sheamus finally gets in the ring and lays out Ambrose with the Brogue Kick, and everyone hits their finishes on each other. HHH tosses Ziggler at 56:31 and gets into a fight with Wyatt, which results in Sheamus hitting Bray with a Brogue Kick to dump him at 57:42. HHH and Jericho trade finishers, but Ambrose tosses Jericho at 58:43.
Final Four: Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, HHH & Sheamus
Ambrose runs at Sheamus like a moron and walks into a Brogue Kick, but Sheamus charges and misses and he’s out at 59:48, followed by ROMAN REIGNS at 59:59 via HHH. So it’s down to HHH and Ambrose in a wacky finish. Ambrose fires away and gets the rebound lariat, but can’t get HHH off the apron and runs into a knee to make HHH the champion at 1:00:41. What was the point of the ending sequence with Ambrose? So yeah, another giant “fuck you” to the fanbase, as usual. The match itself was much more enjoyable on the whole than recent years, despite the glaring lack of star power. I’m a mark for the Rumble overall and despite Roman Reigns taking a nap for thirty minutes I’d go ***1/2 on it. There was no glaring dead spots and it was unpredictable enough to hold my interest. They’ve gotta be close to pulling the plug on Reigns now, though. The crowd won’t get behind him and ratings continue to fall, and there’s not much more they can do to book him like superman. AJ Styles looked like a STAR and hopefully they don’t drop the ball on him.
Solid show, best WWE PPV of the year so far!