The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2013
Live from Phoenix, AZ
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL
World title, Last Man Standing: Alberto Del Rio v. The Big Show
Bret Hart stops by to endorse ADR backstage, which has Ricardo giggling like a smitten schoolgirl. (And you thought trying to get Roman Reigns over as a babyface was a failed endeavor…) So now we’ve got the new Ric Flair and the new Bret Hart, apparently. Hopefully we won’t get the Tijuana Screwjob out of it. Show throws chops to start and tosses him around the ring, but Del Rio goes for the knee to bring him down. Show blocks the Si Kick, but Del Rio reverses a powerbomb into a rana and goes up with a senton to put Show down for 4. Show counters out of the armbar with a samoan drop, and that turns the tide. Show grabs a chair, but that goes badly for him when Del Rio gets it and beats him down with it. Show comes back with a chokeslam on the chair, and Del Rio is up at 9 off that before bailing to the floor. Show continues the attack, so Del Rio kicks him in the nuts for the 9 count. That’s not very PG. Show uses some pieces of the set for more punishment and gets the table, and they fight onto a suspended setpiece before Del Rio gets chucked through the table at an UGLY angle, a shoulder bump that bounces his head off the concrete. I’m shocked he didn’t break his neck there. That was horrifying. Alberto is up at 9, so I guess he’s OK, and they head back to the ring again so Show can set up for the finish. Del Rio wisely runs away from that, so Show throws stairs at him and beats the shit out of Ricardo as well. Show charges and goes through the timekeeper’s cubicle, and Del Rio just unloads with some nasty chairshots. I wish they’d retire the chair as a weapon sometimes. Del Rio stays on the arm with it and they head back in for the armbar, while Ricardo tapes Show’s feet to the bottom rope. That’s pretty smart. And with Show hogtied, the ref counts him down and out at 16:54. Damn good match, smart finish, although Del Rio still doesn’t feel like a top level babyface yet. ***3/4 (And he never would.)
Meanwhile, Dolph Ziggler chooses #1 in the Rumble, and Matt Striker angers AJ and gets chased off by Big E. He promises to unify the belts again at Wrestlemania, which is the first time anyone has brought up that possibility on TV. Hmm. (Well, just wait until the end of the year when they’d finally do it, on a throwaway PPV with another Cena v. Orton match.)
And now, ROYAL RUMBLE PROMOS! Old school, baby. All this was lacking was stylized graphics on a green screen behind the participants. And why the hell weren’t they doing these on the RAWs leading up to the show?
WWE tag titles: Kane & Daniel Bryan v. The Rhodes Scholars
Bryan escapes a wristlock and gets a sweet anklelock takeodown into a surfboard hold, and Kane comes in with a dropkick for two. Over to Sandow, and Kane drops an elbow on him for two, and it’s over to Bryan for the kicks. Kane cleans house on the heels and Bryan hits them with a FLYING GOAT VEGAN TOPE. Cheapshot from Cody turns the tide, however, and Bryan is your goatface-in-peril. Cody with a half-crab, but Bryan reverses into a small package for two. Sandow puts him down for the ELBOW OF DISDAIN for two. Bryan comes back with a leg lariat as the proceedings are kind of dull here for some reason. Cody cuts off the ring and Bryan comes back with a DDT and makes the hot tag to Kane. Sideslam gets two. Kane to the top and Sandow cuts him off and they mess up a neckbreaker spot to give Sandow two. Bryan makes a blind tag while Sandow suplexes Kane, and comes in with a missile dropkick off that. Chokeslam for Cody, No-Lock for Sandow finishes at 9:23. Really? Because it was WAAAAAAAAY past time to change those belts. Unless they’re switching them to the Shield next month, because otherwise I don’t really see the point. **1/4 (Yup, they were totally switching them to the Shield.)
Huh, pretty early in the show for this. Dolph is of course #1, and #2 is CHRIS JERICHO?!? Good thinking to the guy with the Y2J sign in the crowd. Dolph tries to toss him, but Jericho goes up and hits a forearm, then clotheslines Ziggler to the apron. Dolph goes up and they fight on the top, allowing Jericho to hit a superplex as Cody Rhodes is #3. Jericho immediately lays into him with chops, but the heels team up and beat on Y2J. Jericho puts Cody in the Walls, however, prompting Ziggler to break it up. Kofi Kingston is #4 and he cleans house on the heels and renews hostilities with Ziggler. Everyone fights on the ropes, but no one out as Santino is #5. I guess his neck injury wasn’t as bad as feared. Santino thinks he’s eliminated everyone, but they all hang on and team up to get rid of him at 6:00. Drew McIntyre is #6 and he does fairly well for himself as Jericho gets tossed, but hangs on and pulls himself back in. Titus O’Neil is #7 and he beats on Kofi, but Jericho dropkicks Drew out at 9:28. Dolph continues to hang on. And GOLDUST is #8 and Cody is going nuts. We get the RHODES SLUGFEST and Goldust beats on Cody in the corner. David Otunga is #9 and he starts sucking immediately and Cole goes on a funny run with JBL about Rumble times among the announcers. The Rhodes Brothers team up on Titus, but then Cody turns on Goldust and can’t quite put him out. Why can’t Dusty’s hellspawn just get along?! (It’s coming later in the year!) Heath Slater is #10, and Cole calls him the Axl Rose of the group. If that were true, he would have showed up for the match four hours late and then left after three songs. The ring keeps piling up with deadwood which probably means that Ryback is near. What other purpose does Otunga serve? Sheamus is #11 and he hits everything that moves and gets rid of Titus and Otunga in succession at 16:12.
Tensai is #12. Yay. The crowd is immediately all over him with the Albert chants, and it’s another pileup of bodies in the corner. Brodus Clay is #13 and this is just begging for a Rikishi guest spot. Goldust backdrops Cody onto the apron, but he charges and gets pulled out there with him. Cody sends him into the post to put him out at 19:50 and the crowd is PISSED. Rey Mysterio returns at #14 with new gear and diminishing muscle tone, and he hits a pair of 619s and drops the dime on Jericho, but then it turns into another pileup again. Darren Young is #15 and everyone gets Brodus out at 22:00. Kofi puts Tensai out with a rana at 22:10. And then Dolph tosses Kofi, but he lands on Tensai’s back and moves to the table, but now he has to get back to the ring. This provides unique drama as he tries to puzzle it out, and uses JBL’s chair to pogo back to the ring with Bo Dallas at #16. That warrants another Slammy, and then he eliminates Darren Young on the way in at 24:40! Sadly, Cody kicks him out at 24:45 to end the run. And then GODFATHER is #17. Now these are the guys they should be doing nostalgia shots with. And then Dolph dropkicks him out again at 26:06. Oh well, still fun. Wade Barrett is #18 and he beats on some people. John Cena is #19 and all the heels line up against him and move in for the beatdown, but Cena RISES ABOVE MATH and tosses Slater at 29:11. Cody is gone at 29:15. Bo Dallas goes after Cena and that doesn’t seem like a smart move. Damian Sandow is #20, one guy too late to save his best friend. Frowny face. Avenge him, Damien! Rey nearly takes Barrett out with a rana, but gets tossed at 30:44. Jericho gets the Walls on Cena as Daniel Bryan is #21. Everyone gets kicked in the face as a result and that’s awesome.
Sheamus and Bryan try to get Jericho out again, but no go. Antonio Cesaro, still the US champion after the pre-show, is #22, and he slugs it out with Sheamus. And again, not much going on. Great Khali is #23 to waste a high number, and he can barely walk. Khali gets his chops in as JBL rails against Khali’s “interspecies relationship”. Kane is #24 and he can’t put Ziggler out either. Zack Ryder is #25, thus defying my prediction of a negative number for him. Khali goes out at 37:50, and Bryan eliminates Kane at 38:00. Bryan goes out by lands in a hug with Kane, who cruelly dumps Bryan on the floor instead of letting him continue. Randy Orton is #26 and this should clear out some people. Double draping DDT for Ziggler and Dallas. RKO for Ryder and he’s toast at 40:00. Team Europe beats on Orton in the continue to end that run, as Jinder Mahal is #27. I don’t see that one being the lucky number this year. Cena backdrops Cesaro out at 41:00 to draw more boos, and he slingshots Ziggler to the apron but not out. The Miz is #28 as Sheamus puts Mahal out at 42:42. There’s some impressive star power left in here. And Bo Dallas. Sin Cara returns at #29 to not much reaction. So that means Ryback has to be #30. And then Bo Dallas pulls Wade Barrett out at 44:32! Well there’s a RAW match tomorrow night. Miz backdrops Jericho to the apron as Wade pulls Dallas out in a show of sportsmanship at 45:22 and then knocks him out with the elbow. He learned that one from Hogan. And yeah, Ryback is #30 and he puts Sandow out at 46:32. Sin Cara dives and gets nothing, and Ryback presses him out at 46:55. Miz attacks Ryback and gets tossed at 47:06. Jericho hits the codebreaker to end that run, then Lionsaults Cena and almost gets rid of Sheamus. Codebreaker for Ziggler, but he hangs on and superkicks Jericho out at 47:52 after one hell of a run. Orton runs wild and hits Ziggler with the RKO, then Cena, then Sheamus, and the draping DDT on Ryback. Ryback blocks the RKO and clotheslines him out at 49:19.
Final four: Cena, Sheamus, Ziggler and Ryback. The Brogue Kick finally puts Ziggler out at 49:51 to draw groans from the crowd, but he didn’t need to win anyway. Going coast to coast was enough. Sheamus and Cena go after Ryback and there’s no good answer for a winner here. Sheamus and Cena stop to POINT AT THE SIGN and Cena hits Sheamus with the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, but Ryback lays him out. Sheamus hits White Noise on Ryback and tries the kick, but Ryback dumps him at 52:29. So this leaves Ryback v. Cena and the crowd favorite is obvious here. More SIGN POINTING, although Ryback is a sign pointing virgin and kind of blows the spot. Spinebuster for Cena, but Cena takes him down with the STF. Ryback comes back with a Thesz Press, but Cena just dumps him to win at 55:01, because of course John Cena wins everything. Good thing he won that Rumble because who knows when he’d get another title shot otherwise. Great star power this year, but there was a lot of piled up bodies and the finish was particularly uninspired. They really need Pat Patterson booking these things again, because there were tons of missed chances for great spots and too much downtime. ***1/4
WWE title: CM Punk v. The Rock
I dunno man, the babyfaces have won every match tonight and it’s been all the obvious winners, so we might be ripe for a big swerve here. Although Rock’s cancer-stricken mom is in the audience watching tonight, so that’s probably not a good sign for Punk. Slugfest to start and Rock blasts out of the corner with the clothesline and puts Punk on the floor, and Rock’s already prepping the tables. Punk then UNPREPS the table, which is tremendous. They continue brawling on the floor while the crowd suddenly heels on Rock with a Punk chant, until Heyman goes after Rocky like a weasel to draw boos again. Punk continues his love-hate relationship with the poor Spanish announce table, and back in for a bodyscissors on the mat. Rock slugs back, so Punk puts him down with a knee for two. Punk wraps him up on the mat again and cuts off another Rock comeback attempt and goes to the ribs, then suplexes Rock onto the top rope for two. Heyman with another cheapshot and Punk adds a springboard dropkick and follows with a double axehandle to the floor, hurting his knee in the process. Back in, Rock goes to the knee, but Punk tosses him again and hits him with a suicide dive. Back in, Punk misses a flying clothesline and Rock goes to work on the knee and hits a legsweep for two. Go 2 Sleep time, but Rock reverses into the Sharpshooter, which Punk reverses into the Anaconda Vice. Rock rolls him over for two and follows with the DDT, but Punk reverses the Rock Bottom into a crucifix. Rock reverses that into the Scorpion King Deathlock, but Punk powers himself to the ropes. Rock puts him on the floor and once again preps the table, but the table collapses before they can do the awesome GTS-Rock Bottom reversal spot. I bet Vince fires that table after the show. THAT TABLE WILL NEVER GET INTO THE WWE HALL OF FAME! So Rock hits the Rock Bottom on the floor instead, which is just as good. Back in, Punk hits the high kick out of nowhere and both guys are out. Slugfest and the fans are still divided, but Rock makes the comeback with the spinebuster and People’s Elbow. And then the lights go out. Michael Cole accuses the Shield of powerbombing Rock through the table in the darkness, but WHERE’S THE PROOF?! I’d hardly call Michael Cole a reliable witness. In fact eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, and Punk himself once again denies involvement with the Shield while dragging Rock back into the ring. And Punk RETAINS AT 21:35?!?!? But then Vince appears, ready to strip Punk of the title, but Rock doesn’t want to go out that way. So the match restarts and Punk hits the running knee and flying elbow for two. GTS is reversed to the spinebuster and People’s Elbow, and Rock wins the WWE title to end the 434 days of Punk. No complaints about the body of work here, as Rock worked hard for a guy who hasn’t wrestled since last April and they were throwing out bigtime finisher reversal spots to pump up the crowd. I love Punk, but I love Rock more and sadly one guy had to lose and it might as well be the one who can always win it back from Cena after Wrestlemania. ***1/2 (Well, he wouldn’t. However, Cena getting CRUSHED by Brock Lesnar was a nice bit of consolation, if nothing else.)
If you were going into this expecting anything other than Cena winning the Rumble and Rock winning the title, you were setting yourself up for disappointment. Much like getting pregnant with a bastard child after a one night stand with Randy Orton, there’s nothing you can do to stop it so you might as well accept it.
Thumbs up, but yeah, I felt a certain tinge of disappointment at seeing the inevitable march to the Wrestlemania rematch that nobody really wants, too. (Well, a bazillion people still bought it, so it was worth a try.)