The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2012 – 01.29.12
(Originally written 01.12.2016)
So I had originally watched this in the theatre back in 2012 with a raucous, sold out group of fans, and it was a great experience, but not really conducive to writing a report afterwards. So I’ve got a few hours tonight, and we might as well do a fresh version for the first time!
Live from St. Louis, MO.
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Booker T & Jerry Lawler
World heavyweight title, cage match: Daniel Bryan v. Mark Henry v. Big Show
Definitely a muted reaction to Daniel compared to how he would explode just a few months later. What was the deal with Show telling the little girl at ringside “I know who your daddy is”? Show gets a spear on Bryan for two while the small but devoted D-Bry section starts chanting for him. Henry goes after Show and we get some hot steaming hoss action while Bryan wisely tries to sneak out early. For those keeping track, this was Fun-Loving Babyface Big Show, despite Cole’s description of him as being “quite possibly in the worst mood possible” while he’s running down to the ring slapping hands and smiling. Show tosses Bryan around, but misses a charge and Bryan takes over with kicks on both giants. Bryan tries to leave again and gets caught. Show continues throwing him around, and then Henry pounds both guys down while the announcers totally bury Bryan on commentary, calling him a geek who’s never had a girlfriend before AJ Lee. What a unique strategy to get someone over as a star. Bryan manages a tornado DDT on Show for two and wraps him up in the Yes Lock, but Henry breaks it up. Show knocks him out for two while Bryan runs away again, but Show hauls him back in by the beard and won’t let go. Bryan slugs away while hanging from the cage, and finally slips down for the win to retain at 9:09. As usual around this time, Bryan was booked as a total fluke champion and a loser. But he celebrates the “win” like it’s a Wrestlemania victory, the first real appearance of the “Yes!” act on PPV. Bryan’s book has some really interesting insight on this period, as they basically had nothing for him for months and then suddenly put the title on him and were like “Well, find a way to get yourself over.” This was totally nothing as a match. *1/2
John Cena: Love him or hate him, you have to respect him. Well, a bazillion people bought Wrestlemania that year, so they have a point.
Beth Phoenix, Natalya & The Bella Twins v. Tamina, Eve Torres, Alicia Fox & Kelly Kelly
I remember nothing of this, outside of mentions of Eve dating Zack Ryder, which of course went nowhere good. Beth Phoenix was champion here as this whole era was just a blur of faceless women until Eve turned heel and got pretty interesting. Eve gets the twerk moonsault for two on Nattie, but the heels work her over and she’s face in peril. The Bellas were definitely twins at this point, and at least today they have separate backstories and personality if nothing else. Alicia comes in and falls victim to the twins switching. Hot tag Kelly and she gets a handspring splash on a Bella for two, leading to a donnybrook outside before Kelly hits a dive onto everyone. Back in, Beth tags herself in and finishes Kelly with the Glam Slam at 5:23. Just time filler. *
Meanwhile, on RAW, Kane chokeslams poor Zack Ryder through a stage and all the way down to the curtain jerking spot. He shows up in a wheelchair here and gets greeted by Big Johnny, early in his “People Power” phase.
John Cena v. Kane
Kane was wearing a welding mask to the ring at this point for reasons that were never adequately explored and probably never will be. This was the very definition of a pointless, time-wasting feud for Cena until the Rock match, with the added bonus of completely burying Zack Ryder six feet under as a bonus. Fun fact: People on the blog optimistically declaring that we should “let it play out and see where it goes” with respect to Ryder as he was buried deeper and deeper every week is what spawned the meme that became the motto for the site. Kane pounds Cena down and beats on him outside, and back in with a low kick for two. We hit the chinlock, and Cena RISES ABOVE CHINLOCK and slugs away, but Kane beats him down again for two and goes back to a chinlock. The crowd is desperately trying to make this fun with their hatred of Cena, but there’s just nothing going on. Cena fights back again, somehow escaping SMELL THE GLOVE, aka the Smother Claw (like really, did he wipe his ass with that glove and he’s gassing Cena with it?), and Kane puts him down with a sideslam for two, and goes up with the flying clothesline. Cena makes the comeback with the usual, but Kane fights him off again because you gotta keep Kane strong, forcing Cena to use a devastating top rope variation on the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Amazingly, that can’t put away the future Director of Operations, and they battle outside to a double countout at 11:00. And this storyline didn’t get any better. *1/2 And then this just proves to be background for another stupid angle, as they brawl backstage and Kane breaks into Ryder’s dressing room, hauls him to the ring, and tombstones him all the way into jobberville while Eve pleads for his life. You literally could not write a segment to make someone look like more of a useless pussy if you actually sat down with the intention of doing so.
Drew McIntyre v. Brodus Clay
Future TNA main event! How the hell did they fuck up BOTH of these guys? Brodus as a monster heel killing fools was the easiest character ever and they totally dropped it before he even debuted, just to be cute. And then don’t even get me started on Drew Galloway and what a waste that ended up being. As usual for this time, Brodus quickly squashes the shit out of him with a big splash at 1:00. DUD
WWE title: CM Punk v. Dolph Ziggler
Johnny Ace, acting as special referee while distractedly checking his phone at ringside, was actually a brilliant character and one of the few cases where they built the heat on him as the corporate kiss-ass middle manager, and then blew it off at the EXACT right time, once and for all. Of course that’s because he got fired from his job in real life, but things sometimes just work out well that way. Now, those of you reading today who only know CM Punk as a UFC star might be confused, but he used to be a professional wrestler, and a pretty good one at that. Nothing compared to his stellar fighting career at whatever point you’re reading this in the future, of course. Big Johnny banishes Vickie Guerrero from ringside while Michael Cole boosts for Big Johnny (“What, Booker, are you still upset at Johnny Ace from your WCW days because he was a better worker than you? He was a World champion in Japan!”) I don’t even know what to do with that. Punk quickly tries the GTS and an Anaconda Vice, which he has no doubt finished off many UFC opponents with at whatever point you’re reading this, but Ziggler makes the ropes. Punk drops him on the top rope with a suplex while Cole notes that Ziggler doesn’t use “all that fake bake”, which is hilarious considering that Dolph was roughly the color of a pumpkin at this point. Punk goes up and gets dropped on his neck, and Dolph gets two. Dolph with a chinlock to take over, but Punk fights out of it and takes him down into the Vice again, but Dolph escapes. He tries the fameasser and gets reversed into a powerbomb for two, and Punk comes back with a spinkick and leg lariat for two. High knee and bulldog set up the GTS, but Ziggler counters into a catapult, which Punk turns into a bodypress and Dolph rolls through for two. Punk with a high kick for two, as he shows the awesome knockout power with which he is sure dominating UFC as you read this, future blog reader. Punk with the flying elbow for two. The ref is bumped and it’s time for Big Johnny to step up while Punk hooks the Anaconda Vice and Ziggler taps like nuts. Well, Punk is a top level UFC fighter, why wouldn’t he? John is busy checking on the poor referee who was knocked into the stairs and may be dead, which has Punk pissed off. Man, once Punk got injured at the Royal Rumble and HE was the one who needed medical attention, his tune sure changed. Punk with the rollup and still no ref, and a GTS and still no ref. Big Johnny, meanwhile, has shoulder problems and can’t count as the backup. Punk is busy jawing at him and Ziggler hits the fameasser out of nowhere for two to get his pity near-fall. Ziggler tries the Zig Zag, but Punk counters him into the GTS to finish at 14:25, with Johnny making the count to show his impartiality. This was a really weird match in that Punk had Ziggler clearly beat FOUR times and Dolph was never really positioned as a threat, basically just acting as a puppet for People Power. Amazingly, Punk would have another YEAR on his title reign, which I don’t think anyone would have predicted at this point. Decent match, but Ziggler was still struggling to escape the midcard and didn’t have the act down quite yet. ***
The Miz is #1 with epic fake tan, and Alex Riley is #2. Maybe that’s why he’s so ANGRY now? Riley tries to dump Miz and fails, then charges and goes out at 1:20. Ouch, eliminated by the Miz in one minute. R-Truth is #3 after the split of Awesome Truth and they block each other’s finishers, leading to Truth getting an ugly slam out of a stunner attempt. Cody Rhodes is #4 and he teams up with Miz to double-team Truth. Justin Gabriel, future GFW champion, is #5 and he’s got nothing. Primo is #6 and Miz tosses Truth at 7:15 in the chaos while Primo runs wild. Cole notes that Primo and Epico were tag team champions at this point. Was that really a thing that happened? 2012 was a weird time. Mick Foley is #7 to a huge pop and he gets to dump Primo at 8:30 and pounds away on Cody in the corner. Ricardo Rodriguez is #8, driving a broken car in a comedy spot, as we take our first extended humor break in the match. Mick coaches him through a beating on Gabriel and they toss him at 11:31, but now Santino is #9 and he beats on poor Ricardo with midget comedy spots and tosses him at 12:50. This sets up the epic SOCKO V. COBRA spot that my theater went INSANE for at the time, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Epico is #10 and he’s gone right away, and Cody tosses Santino at 14:28 and then Foley at 14:50.
We’re left with Miz and Cody, as Kofi Kingston is #11 and we’re severely lacking in star power this year. Kofi runs wild for a bit and gets his shit in. Jerry Lawler leaves the desk at #12 as they continue to scrape the barrel for bodies, and Lawler gets some dropkicks on the heels before Cody dumps him at 17:35. Ezekial Jackson is #13 and he gets to run wild for a bit as the crowd collectively asks “Who the fuck is this guy?” and then remembers before going back to checking their phones again. Speaking of “Who the fuck is this guy”, Jinder Mahal is #14 in another go-nowhere push and he goes right for Kofi. (Well that push would sure go somewhere a year after I wrote this.) Great Khali is #15 and he apparently dislikes Mahal and tosses him at 21:42 to reinforce that. Zeke is gone at 21:56. Hunico is #16 as we’re really bringing the star power now. He quickly gets beaten up like a geek. Booker T is #17 to continue the running gag, and speaking of which Kofi gets tossed and lands on his hands, then walks to the stairs to save himself. Dolph Ziggler is #18, doing double duty tonight, and there’s way too many bodies out there and nothing going on. Hacksaw Duggan is #19 for another weird cameo, and he gets to run wild for a bit before Cody dumps him at 28:33. And then Cole totally buries him on the way out. Cody clotheslines both Khali and Booker out at 29:00. Michael Cole is #20 and this joke is beyond dead at this point. Cole points to the sign and completely avoids any contact, and Kharma (Awesome Kong) is #21 and she chases Cole out of the ring at 31:15. Another push that ended up going nowhere. She tosses Hunico at 31:55, but Ziggler puts her out at 31:59 to end that run. We’ve got 9 guys left and we’re still doing bullshit comedy.
Sheamus is #22 and at least this should signal the point where it’s actually serious contenders. He slams Kofi out at 33:17. Road Dogg is #23, as he was doing his tryout as an agent around this time. Obviously he got the job. Dogg does his usual stuff and Jey Uso is #24. Why randomly one half of the team? The Usos were basically nothing at this point anyway. So it’s a lot of punching and kicking going nowhere again, and speaking of going nowhere, Jack Swagger is #25. He was actually US champion at this point. Who knew? I was reviewing RAW at this point and still don’t remember anything of this period outside of the Ryder nonsense. Wade Barrett is #26 and tosses Dogg at 39:08. David Otunga is #27 and there’s another character that had some legs and I think he’s still under contract here in 2016. Maybe Steven Avery should have hired him as a lawyer! More punching and kicking and no viable winners, really. Randy Orton is #28 to finally wake up the crowd and hopefully clear this ring out. Double draping DDT on Ziggler and Rhodes, and he tosses Uso at 42:37. RKO for Barrett and he’s out at 42:42. Chris Jericho is #29 and he tosses Otunga at 43:35. They were doing the weird trolling heel gimmick with Jericho, which was abruptly dropped in favor of Jericho being a jerk to CM Punk. Big Show is #30 while Swagger gets dumped at 45:09, and yeah, this is what we’ve got left for a field. Show puts out both Cody and Miz and Ziggler and that’s our final four!
Final Four: Sheamus, Big Show, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton
Show throws some guys around, but Orton dumps him out at 47:15, and Jericho dumps Orton at the same time, leaving Jericho v. Sheamus in a weird finale. Jericho tries a bulldog and Sheamus reverses him out in the corner, but Jericho hangs on and puts him down with a missile dropkick. Sheamus catches him with the backbreaker and tries the Razor’s Edge, but Jericho counters him to the apron and hits the springboard dropkick as Sheamus makes like Avril Lavigne and keeps holding on. Slingshot shoulderblock back into the ring, but Jericho ducks the Brogue Kick and gets the Walls of Jericho. Jericho charges and misses, but hangs onto the top and won’t go out, then makes the prime Rumble mistake and goes to the top rope. This nearly backfires on both guys as they both go down, but both escape. Codebreaker from Jericho and they fight on the ropes, but Jericho slaps him around one time too many and Sheamus gets fired up and tosses him before finishing with the Brogue Kick at 54:50 to win the Rumble. Man, that one sure ended up backfiring on them in a BIG way. Worthless Rumble that was almost redeemed by an excellent, dramatic finale between these two. *** with everything, but as a Rumble it was more like ** before the showdown at the end.
Man, time has not been kind to this show. This was definitely a lesser Rumble, as a match and as a show overall. Thumbs down.