The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2009
– Live from Detroit, MI
– Your hosts are Cole, JR, Tazz, King, Grisham and Matt Striker.
ECW World title: Jack Swagger v. Matt Hardy
I don’t think I’ve even seen Swagger wrestle before. (2012 Scott sez: I was definitely only an occasional viewer at this point, and even that’s being generous.) Swagger ducks into the ropes to start, and Matt slugs him out of the ring for the brawl. Back in, Matt with a clothesline, but Swagger ducks out again. Back in, he starts working on Matt’s arm with a nice takedown into a hammerlock, but Matt escapes and gets a low dropkick into the corner. He follows with a bulldog for two and goes up, but Swagger dumps him out. Back in, Swagger with a shoulderblock for two. Swagger goes back to the arm in the corner, but Hardy slugs him down to escape, until Swagger hits the arm to block a clothesline. Hey, nice move. That gets two. Swagger cranks on a standing armbar, but Matt fights up and clotheslines him into a neckbreaker for two. Matt with a corner clothesline into a one-armed bulldog for two. Middle rope elbow gets two. Matt sets up for the Side Effect, but Swagger reverses to a belly to belly suplex for two. They fight for a suplex, but Matt’s arm gives out and Swagger takes him down with an armbar takedown for two. To the top as Swagger sets up for a hammerlock slam off the top, but Matt puts him down and hits a moonsault for two. Matt tries the Side Effect again, but Swagger simply tosses him into the post to counter, and finishes with a powerbomb at 10:28. Real good stuff, with Matt fighting through the arm injury and selling it CONSISTENTLY, and the fantastic commentary of Matt Striker really putting it over. ***1/4 (2012 Scott sez: When do you ever hear the phrase “fantastic commentary” used about Matt Striker now?)
WWE Women’s title: Beth Phoenix v. Melina
I just don’t buy Melina as the smiling babyface. (2012 Scott sez: Nor does anyone else in the world with Twitter.) Why not finally bring in Gail Kim if they need a new opponent for Beth? Hasn’t she been signed for months now? (2012 Scott sez: Well we know how that ended up.) Beth overpowers her to start and swings her around like the proverbial ragdoll, but Melina slugs out and dropkicks Beth. Beth tries a tilt-a-whirl slam, but Melina reverses to an armbar. Beth tosses her into the corner to break, but Melina tries a victory roll and Beth has to power out of that, too. Beth goes to a legbar that shows off the incredible flexibility of Melina, as Beth literally beats on Melina with her own foot! That’s like one of those Jack Evans spots. (2012 Scott sez: So for those wondering why John puts up with her…) Sideslam gets two. She tries a gorilla press, but Melina slips out (and they mess up the spot) to make the comeback. They screw up the timing again as Melina gets a sunset flip after one try at it, and she makes the comeback with a faceplant for two. Cannonball off the top sets up an inverted DDT, but Beth ducks out and Melina responds with a rollup for the pin and the title. This was watchable with one notable spot, but they blew quite a bit of stuff and it was mostly an extended Phoenix squash with a fluke ending. *1/2 (2012 Scott sez: Otherwise known as “every Divas match involving Kelly Kelly.”)
RAW World title: John Cena v. JBL
(2012 Scott sez: Yeah, I got suckered into ordering this show by the Shawn-JBL storyline, what about it?) So before the match, JBL tells Shawn that should he win the title here, then Shawn is out of his service and will be in the Royal Rumble match as well. I think they’re really, really tempted to run Shawn v. JBL for the title at Wrestlemania, but I just don’t know if JBL can deliver that kind of match. (2012 Scott sez: Holy cow, thank GOD they went with Plan B instead.) Cena takes him down with a headlock to start and JBL reverses to his own as the duelling chants for/against Cena start already. Cena with a shoulderblock for two and JBL bails for some advice from Shawn. JBL slugs away in the corner, but Cena hits him with the neckbreaker formerly known as the Throwback for two. JBL runs out again and Cena chases, allowing JBL to clobber him from behind and introduce him to the stairs. Back in, that gets two. Short arm clothesline gets two. JBL drops his sloppy elbows for two. (2012 Scott sez: I think he is literally the worst elbowdrop in the business. He just drops down and slaps the mat without even making the motion of an elbowdrop.) Chinlock time, and JBL follows that with a sideslam for two and then shoulderblocks him off the apron. Into the stairs again for two. JBL puts Cena on top and slugs away, but Cena puts him down and follows with the top rope legdrop for two. Cena charges and hits boot, but he tackles JBL to block the Clothesline From Hell, then makes the comeback. Backdrop suplex and five-knuckle shuffle set up the FU, but JBL slugs out, so Cena takes him down for the STF. No more U. Shawn distracts Cena and allows JBL to escape by pulling the rope down, and the Clothesline from Hell gets two. JBL and Shawn have a long, unspoken Beecher-Schillinger thing, but the ref is bumped and everyone’s out. So now it’s time for the moral choice by Shawn, as he comes into the ring and superkicks…JBL. Then just as the crowd gets back on Shawn’s side, he hits Cena with one as well. Choice apparently made, he puts JBL on top and leaves. Alas, it only gets two. Cena hits the FU to finish at 15:29. The whole boring match was just a backdrop for the Shawn’s Choice angle and that was the only time it had any heat. And for those expecting a payoff here, think again. ** (2012 Scott sez: Unfortunately the angle was writing cheques that JBL couldn’t cash in the ring, because the eventual blowoff nearly sunk the whole thing.)
Smackdown World title: Jeff Hardy v. Edge
Jeff runs Edge into the turnbuckles to start as the crowd chants “We want Christian”, apparently more hip to the room than the WWE would like. (2012 Scott sez: Oh, but they sure showed that crowd!) lJeff grabs a chair since it’s no-DQ, but Edge kicks it away from him. Jeff with a low dropkick for two, but Edge whips him out of the ring. Jeff lands on his feet and slides back in to deke Edge out, then hits him with a dive off the apron. Chavo distracts Jeff long enough for Edge to boot him off the apron, and he follows with a baseball slide. Brawl on the floor and Hardy goes into the railing before they head back in. Edge gets two, and a distinct face pop. He punts Jeff in the ribs and shoulderblocks him into the corner, but Jeff comes back with a sunset flip for two. Edge puts him down again with a clothesline for two. He holds a bearhug on the mat, but Jeff fights out with a mule kick and goes up. Bodypress is blocked by an Edge dropkick, and that gets two. They fight to the apron and Jeff gets a Twist of Fate, catching Edge’s neck on the ropes. That could have been ugly. Jeff puts him on the table and finds a ladder, but Chavo interferes and prevents anything from happening there. Plus he earns himself a swanton through the table in Edge’s place, but really that’s his job. Back in, Jeff hits Edge with a high cross for two. Edge comes back with a big boot and undoes the turnbuckle, but Jeff hits him with the Whisper in the Wind for two. Twist of Fate looks to follow, but Edge reverses to a DDT for two. Edge goes up, but Jeff boots him on the way down and cradles for two. Front suplex and he goes up, but Edge rolls away and then suckers Jeff into the corner for a shot into the STEEL turnbuckle that gets two. He sets up for the spear, but Jeff does a SWANK reversal into the Twist of Fate…but Vicki pulls him down from the top. He goes up again and gets the swanton, but now Vicki pulls out the ref. And now the twist, as Matt Hardy comes out to even things up…and turns on Jeff again, revealing himself to be the evil mastermind. You’d think Jeff would have learned his lesson the first time. MATT HARDY VERSION 2! Edge wins the title back at 19:28. Good, I’m tired of babyface Matt, and there hasn’t been a really good heel turn in a while. Slow start with a hot finish and a big turn at the end makes for good TV. And there’s no ironic detachment from the crowd, because Hardy’s fans are all 14 year old girls who wouldn’t have seen this 100 times already and thus buy into it completely. But where’s Christian? ***1/2 (2012 Scott sez: In fact, Christian was going to be the guy to screw Jeff Hardy over and set up the reunion with Edge, but basically they thought people were onto the big “surprise” return and so they changed it just to screw with us. Lucky us.)
Royal Rumble match
Rey Mysterio draws #1 and John Morrison gets #2. Rey throws kicks, but Morrison dumps him on the bulldog attempt and Rey has to use fancy footwork to stay in. Nice spot. Rey springboards back in and takes him down with the tilt-a-whirl headscissors, but Morrison also hangs onto the ropes and won’t go out. Carlito is #3 and he attacks both guys, catching Rey’s moonsault press and turning it into a neckbreaker. Double jump moonsault on Morrison follows, but John hits him with a running knee and chokes out Rey. The time count is about 15 seconds slow tonight, if you care. MVP is #4 and he gets a face pop and powerslams Morrison, but gets nailed by Carlito. He hits Morrison with the Drive-By, but Rey takes him down with a headscissors. Great Khali is #5 as the intervals are getting pretty liberal. Khali wallops all the little people and no-sells all their offense, and with everyone out Vladimir Kozlov is #6. Kozlov quickly dumps him in the fakest looking elimination you’ll ever see, and then pounds MVP and disposes of him as well. That doesn’t go over well. Carlito goes to the apron but not out, so Kozlov tosses him for real. (2012 Scott sez: Did they seriously think Kozlov was going to get over as a monster heel back then?)
HHH is #7 to save us from the suck and he slugs it out with Kozlov, but goes down from the headbutt. Kozlov puts his head down, however, and a facecrusher and crotch chop puts him out. Morrison goes after HHH and eats a high knee as a result, but Randy Orton is #8. He trades with HHH and gets the neckbreaker and slithers around like a slithering slithery slitherer, but Morrison takes him down with the knee, only to fall victim to a 619. So everyone’s out now. JTG is #9 (after winning a coin flip) and goes after HHH, which proves ineffective. Orton tries to power Rey out, meanwhile, but he clings onto the ropes. Now the 90 second intervals are really getting short, as Ted Dibiase is already #10. Morrison and JTG team up against him and then turn on each other, so Dibiase dumps them both and they hang on the ropes kicking at each other before coming back in. Very cool. Same deal with Rey and Dibiase on the other side of the ring. Rey baseball slides Dibiase in the nuts and Chris Jericho is #11. He’s right after Randy Orton with no luck, then hits HHH with a bulldog as they reverse each other’s finishers. HHH dumps him, but Jericho hangs on and Mike Knox is #12 to really change the complexion of the match. Or not. He lays a couple of guys out and then it settles back into the usual punching and kicking on the ropes.
The Miz is #13 and he gets his token offense, but the match is filling up with too much deadwood again. The tag champs double-team Orton, but Miz misses a charge and hits the corner, resulting in a pair of RKOs for the champs and then one for JTG as well. HHH stops that rampage with KICK WHAM PEDIGREE and then tosses Miz and Morrison by himself (BOO!). (2012 Scott sez: I was pretty into the Dirt Sheet at this point.) Then the best one-off Rumble spot I’ve ever seen sees Rey getting tossed, but he lands on Miz and then uses Morrison as a step to get back in again without touching the ground. Awesome. Finlay is #14 and goes after Jericho to no avail before settling on stomping random guys instead. Cody Rhodes is #15 as we’re halfway through with only 22 minutes elapsed. The Legacy teams up on Finlay and then beats up Knox, as Rey springboards right into an RKO. That’ll teach him to fly around in a match like this. Undertaker is in surprisingly early at #16, and this should thin out the herd. Everyone stops and goes after him, but JTG is the first victim. Snake Eyes for Cody and he eats a boot, and Goldust is #17. C’mon, we need the obvious matchup here. And indeed, Cody goes after him and gets slugged down, but Goldust dumps him to the apron and not out. A backdrop puts him back to the apron, but again not out. An RKO ends the Goldust rampage,however, and Orton allows Cody the honor of tossing his big brother out. There’s a lot of family issues tonight. (2012 Scott sez: Amazingly, it took them until this year to actually set up a feud between them.)
CM Punk is #18 and he goes crazy with the kicks and knees, and HHH Goes 2 Sleep. Undertaker puts him down with a big boot, however. Mark Henry is #19 and he puts Undertaker down with a clothesline, and the ring is getting way too full again. Powerslam for HHH, but he can’t toss Punk out. Shelton Benjamin is #20 and that’s going nowhere. Jericho and Punk are dumb enough to fight on the top rope, and Benjamin brings them both down with a double Downward Spiral. HHH tosses Punk and he still won’t go out, and William Regal is #21. He goes right for Punk with a badass series of knees and a running knee to the head as Mark Henry was eliminated off-screen by Rey. Kofi Kingston is #22 and this ring needs clearing out in the worst way. And again, he gets his flurry of offense and then runs out of gas while everyone is punching and kicking on the ropes. Undertaker tosses Benjamin with little fanfare, and Kane is #23. OK, please put some guys out now. Kane and Undertaker have their faceoff and then decide to buck the trend tonight by working together, chokeslamming a variety of people. Punk gets a hard-working elimination of Regal, and R-Truth is #24. Yay, more deadwood.
Everyone just kind of stops as the match grinds to a halt with nothing happening, and Rob Van Dam is a surprise entrant at #25, fresh off Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling. (2012 Scott sez: I’m still waiting for season two. BEST REALITY SHOW EVER.) Crowd goes nuts for that and he kicks everything in sight, but overshoots the frog splash and can’t hit Truth with it. The Brian Kendrick is #26 and manages to push Kofi out before HHH gets rid of him as you’d expect. Dolph Ziggler is #27 as another comedy entrant, and he introduces himself to Kane and gets tossed. I don’t know why they waste slots on dumb comedy bits like that. (2012 Scott sez: And here we are 3 years later with the comedy guy headlining the show. It just goes to show: Don’t needlessly bury and destroy people early on, because you never know who’s going to be your next breakout star.) And speaking of which, Santino is #28 and out before he can even get in, again via Kane. So that breaks the venerated Warlord record. But seriously, someone of use needs to be eliminated here before we run out of entrants. I think we’re out of comedy guys, but then it’s Jim Duggan at #29. Unless they’ve got a major surprise prepped, it seems a pretty clear cut win for Randy Orton here given who’s left. Another whole lot of nothing for the last interval, and #30 goes to Big Show. So no real big shocks here. So it’s pretty much a 14-man battle royale now.
As you’d expect, everyone goes after him, but he fights them off and dumps Duggan. Jericho tries a sleeper while Undertaker tosses Punk to no avail. Show presses Truth out of there long after he should have been gone. Punk still won’t go out and throws kicks at the Show, but Show finally just knocks him out on the apron and he’s gone. Rey and Knox put themselves both out off-screen, and Hornswaggle runs in to save Finlay from Kane, but to no avail as he goes out via a backdrop anyway. So Rey doesn’t match his own record, only going about 50 minutes. Show pounds on RVD in the corner while Orton DDTs HHH on the ropes, and we get another Show-Undertaker battle. RVD hits Orton with the frog splash, but sells it too much and Jericho tosses him. Jericho follows with the Codebreaker on Undertaker, but charges at him and goes out as well. The Legacy teams up on Kane and gets rid of him, leaving us with HHH, Show, Taker and the Legacy. The Legacy goes after Undertaker while Show chokeslams HHH, but Taker comes back and chokeslams them all. So it’s back to the Show-UT dullness again and they slug it out until Taker clotheslines him. Big boot looks to put Show out, but he actually hangs on. Randy tries to sneak in with the RKO, but Taker blocks and ends up on the apron with Show. Orton puts Show on the floor, and Show drags Taker down with him and I guess that feud is on again. (2012 Scott sez: Luckily they didn’t go there for Wrestlemania.)
Final Four: Cody Rhodes, Randy Orton, Ted Dibiase and HHH. They all attack HHH and Orton just pounds the hell out of him, but Orton talks too much and HHH counters the RKO. He takes down Dibiase and Rhodes and tosses them, but Orton tosses HHH at 58:38 to win his first Rumble. Well considering the entire promotion is centered around making him look like a bigger star than Jesus right now, it’s not a huge shock win. Good hot start with some inventive spots, but it just got so incredibly bogged down in the middle and never recovered, leaving us with the predictable finish. Definitely a mid-level entry. *** This would be the first time since Vince in 1999 that a heel has won the thing.(2012 Scott sez: And as usual the Rumble winner chokes at Wrestlemania and fails to win the title. And you can definitely tell that the lack of Pat Patterson booking these things is starting to hurt as we progress through the years.)
A good show, but definitely felt like a letdown given what was expected from the Rumble match. Hardy v. Edge is well worth checking out, the rest is take it or leave it. Thumbs in the middle.