Mike Reviews – WWF Royal Rumble 2002 (20/01/2002)

Hello You!

Next week I’m doing another Stinker Review, so I decided that I’d do a show I actually like this week in the form of WWF Royal Rumble 2002.

This show actually happened during a period where I was getting progressively less into wrestling due to WCW and ECW falling by the wayside and the fact I hadn’t discovered Japanese Wrestling yet. However, the emergence of Brock Lesnar and the Smackdown Six ended up re-energising my fandom later in the year and then I discovered ROH and NOAH in early 2003, which pretty much ensured that I’d have some form of wrestling fandom going forward.

Despite being a bit down on the WWF’s product following the lame Invasion angle of 2001, I was still tuning in to Sunday Night Heat on Channel 4 due to having no access to satellite on my house. When that contract wasn’t renewed I was left without any access to wrestling on TV for the first time in 3 years, which was a bit of a pisser in all honesty. However, a friend taped this show off SKY Box Office and leant me the tape, so I watched it more out of curiosity for the guys who were scheduled to comeback in the Rumble match itself and I ended up loving the show.

To this day, this is still one of my favourite Rumble events from top to bottom, so let’s take a dip into 2002 and watch some chuffing wrestling!

The event is emanating from Atlanta, Georgia

Calling the action are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler

Opening Match
WWF Tag Team Titles
Champs: Tazz and Spike Dudley Vs The Dudley Boyz w/ Stacy Keibler

This was standard ECW styled booking for the Dudley clan, as Spike found himself a tag partner in order to take on his evil half-brothers. Thus Tazz joins the illustrious company of Balls Mahoney, New Jack, Nova and Sid as guys Spike recruited in his many battles with The Dudleyz over the years. The makeshift team had managed to beat The Dudleyz to win the tag belts, although I kind of expected them to win them back here. Stacy was on a hotness streak around this period that would lead to a mould of her bum being made for that year’s WrestleMania Axxess event.

Sadly Tazz’s Cypress Hill song that he was using at the time is dubbed out for his generic WWF theme, which is weird as usually they include the Forceable Entry songs on these. I’m sure there’s some sort of legal rights issue they don’t want to get into so they’re just playing it safe. This one is a brawl right from the off, with The Dudleyz laying out Tazz on the floor with a back drop/neck breaker double team move, which leads to instant heat on Spike back inside. Spike is sporting a neck brace here courtesy of a 3-D on the floor on the TV leading up to this, which leads to The Dudleyz targeting that part of the body.

This will shock you all I’m sure, but Spike sells the heat segment really well. Yeah, I know, Spike Dudley being good at selling. Next I’ll be telling you that water is wet! Spike manages to catch Bubba with an Acid Drop out of nowhere though, which leads to a double down and false tag to Tazz, with D-Von distracting the ref so he misses it. That leads to Spike taking an outstanding double flapjack from the challengers, with Ross rightly mentioning The Midnight Express. Heel miscommunication sees The Dudleyz double clothesline each other though and it’s hot tag Tazz, who looks good with clotheslines and suplexes.

Tazz was never going to be WWF Champion, but they definitely could have done more with him before his body gave out on him. Stacy tries to get involved, but gets choked out and D-Von feels it next soon after, to give The Champs a surprisingly clean victory.

WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: TAZZ & SPIKE
RATING: **

This was a bit on the short side (Pun ever so mildly intended) but as a match it was fine. They realised they didn’t have a lot of time, so they just cut the shine entirely and went straight to the heat, which made perfect sense and the crowd was into it, so the match succeeded in what it wanted to achieve

We get clips of William Regal knocking out Edge with brass knuckles on Raw, only for Edge to clock him with a chair on Smackdown.

We get promo time from Edge following that, where he says he’s happy to fight Regal but Regal is more interested in fighting dirty. Edge then produces a chair to offset Regal’s knuckle game.

Match Two
WWF Intercontinental Title
Champ: Edge Vs William Regal

The story here was that Regal had been forced to kiss Vince McMahon’s bum in order to keep his job following the Invasion, which had led to him becoming more nasty and sadistic as a result of the humiliation he suffered. Edge meanwhile had defeated Test at Survivor Series 2001 to unify the IC and United States Titles, and after breaking Regal’s nose with a chair it set up a natural feud, with the cruel Regal trying to give the young up and comer a good thrashing. They never really had particularly good matches due to a styles clash, but the whole point of the feud was to show that Edge could hold his own with a tough vicious heel, whilst also giving Regal a chance to show off his new nastier attitude following his humiliation, and it worked in that regard.

Regal had just started doing the “Power of the Punch” gimmick during this period, where he’d clock opponents with brass knuckles, so the ref checks the ringside area prior to the bout in an effort to find any he might have stashed away. Edge’s Rob Zombie music manages to survive the licensed music cull here. Regal does indeed have some knux in his trunks though, which the ref finds and takes away. The match itself is mostly a slug fest in the early going, with Regal eventually cutting Edge off and working some bruising holds, which Edge sells well. You can really see what they were going for here, as they were trying to mould Edge into the classic WWF babyface role, which involved a lot of selling and fighting from underneath.

Edge takes some nice bumps from Regal’s throws and suplexes, but the two ring styles of both men just don’t really mesh well, so their matches always had a ceiling. Edge was better suited to a more hybrid guy like Kurt Angle who could do a mix of technical and American style, whilst Regal was better suited to a Chris Benoit who could do the snug strikes and European grappling style. It’s not a bad match or anything like that, and both men are clearly working hard, but there just isn’t chemistry there.

Eventually both men bonk heads and that leads to a double down followed by Edge making the standard WWF comeback, bumping Regal three times and then getting a near fall. We actually get the old All Japan delayed sell spot, where Edge gets spiked with a German Suplex but then rolls up to his feet with a clothesline. I loved that they managed to work that spot into a WWF match. Regal replies with The Regal Stretch following that, but Edge hangs on and makes the ropes to break, before countering to a submission attempt of his own.

Regal survives that though, and then cuts Edge off when he tries a missile dropkick, only for Edge to fight him off and get an awesome looking spinning wheel kick from the top rope. It turns out Regal has another set of knux that the ref missed earlier though. Regal pulls the ref into the way of an Edge attack and then clocks Edge with the knux, which gets him a three count from the revived referee.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: WILLIAM REGAL
RATING: **1/2

This was decent enough and that was a good finish that protected Edge whilst also making Regal look like a devious heel

Michael Cole asks Regal about how he won, and Regal thanks the Lord above for gifting him with The Power of the Punch.

Match Three
Guest Referee: Jacqueline
WWF Women’s Title
Champ: Trish Stratus Vs Jazz

Trish had won the Title at Survivor Series 2001, a show where Jazz had also debuted. Jazz was the muscular powerhouse heel of the women’s division during this time, and she attacked Trish’s hand on TV prior to this in order to give Trish a weakness to sell. Jackie has been added as the referee at the behest of Ric Flair to make sure no funny business takes place.

Jazz attacks Trish right from the opening bell and works her over. Trish’s execution wasn’t quite up to snuff yet, but she shows good babyface fire and her selling was getting better with every match. By the end of the year she was a solid worker and she was arguably one of the best women in the whole company by the time she retired for the first time in 2006.

We of course get the spot where Jackie and Jazz start arguing with one another, with Jackie being the trouble shooting ref who ain’t gonna take no guff from the heel, and that leads into Trish making a bit of a comeback. Jazz stops that with a DDT though, which gets two. Jazz really was a level above everyone else save Molly Holly at this stage, but Trish catches her with a desperation bulldog to pick up the flash pin.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: TRISH STRATUS
RATING: *1/2

They didn’t really get enough time to have a proper match here, but for what it was it ended up being a battling clean win for Trish that helped her whilst taking nothing away from Jazz due to how she dominated throughout. Jazz would end up beating Trish for the belt, which you think would have led to Trish winning it back at Mania in her home country, but for some reason they decided to delay her regaining the belt until May instead

Earlier tonight, Ric Flair shows up with his family, but he has no comment for The Coach.

Match Four
Street Fight
Vince McMahon Vs Ric Flair

This one came about because Ric Flair bought out Shane and Stephanie McMahon to become 50% owner of the WWF. Vince didn’t like that, which led to a natural feud where Vince beat up Flair with a pipe. This led to Vince doing the archetypal creepy heel Vince promo, where he said he got turned on by ruining people’s lives. Yeah, most bullies tend to feel that way.

Flair is of course super over in Atlanta, and his kids Reid and Megan are at ringside, with Megan even taking some snaps on a camera. Those pictures best be for her own personal use or a lawsuit might be in her future. Vince is ludicrously swollen and muscular here, with Lawler of course being a good heel announcer and sucking up about it. In a funny touch, they basically do Hogan Vs Flair to start, with Vince even getting to shove Flair down and pose in classic Hogan style. Vince is of course an absolutely horrible wrestler, but he’s a supremely entertaining character, so this section is fun, if not a technical wrestling clinic.

Vince eventually throws a lame chop, which leads to Flair replying with the genuine article, with Vince selling it big in hilarious fashion. The fight heads outside following that, with Vince hitting Flair with one of the keep off signs in the aisle way, which was a thing for a bit in 2001 and 2002 until they changed the entrance way set up. Flair blades from that (Yeah, Ric Flair just bladed in a high profile match, what are the odds?) which leads to Vince dragging him over to his family in a classic example of heel Vince toss-pottery. He even steals Megan’s camera to take some pictures of her bloody dad.

Vince actually tries taking Flair to school back inside following that, showing off once again his total lack of any wrestling ability. No wonder Vince hates “wrasslin” so much, he can’t do a lick of it to save his life. Flair is generous enough to sell it all at least, and he does such a good job that you could almost believe some of this stuff would actually hurt. Figure Four follows, with Vince making Sid look like Mitsuharu Misawa the more this progresses, and Flair sells it big until managing to turn it, which causes Vince to bail and grab his lead pipe.

Flair hits him right in WBF to put a stop to that though, and then makes the comeback, with Vince doing some fantastic facial expressions for it all. We head outside, where Flair clocks Vince with a monitor to bust him open, and Vince took an admittedly impressive looking bump over the table following that in all fairness. Flair drags Vince over to Megan and Reid, so that they can take some pictures of their dad giving Vince a good kicking. Flair continues the beat down back inside, working the cut and mule kicking Vince right in the XFL before adding a pipe shot and a Figure Four to pick up the clean win and pay back Vince for everything that was done to him.

WINNER: RIC FLAIR
RATING: ***

This was supremely entertaining and way better than it had any right to be, with Flair clearly being energised by the Atlanta crowd and Vince being in his element as an odious heel getting his

Ross asks if there will be any repercussions for this, and indeed there was as Vince would go on to bring the New World Order to the WWF in order for them to kill it (Although that storyline point ended up getting forgotten and they ended up just being his heavies).

Michael Cole tries to ask Nick Patrick about the Edge match, but Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley interrupts to be annoying, saying that Triple H is going to destroy everyone in the Rumble later, but Stone Cold interrupts her interruption and keeps yelling “WHAT?!” until she can’t take it anymore and flees. Austin then says he’ll win the Rumble and the crowd chants “WHAT?!” along with him.

Match Five
Super-Duper-Undisputed WWF Championship
Champ: Chris Jericho Vs The Rock

Jericho cheated to win the Title at Vengeance 2001, defeating The Rock along the way, and became an absolute egomaniac as a result. Rock defeated Booker T to earn himself a Title shot though, thus meaning he would get a chance at some payback.

Rock is super intense here, so Jericho tries talking some smack to wind him up, which backfires as Rock unloads on him in the shine, with Jericho bumping and selling for it really well. These two had been working together since the autumn of 2001, so they were in a really good groove together by this stage and had some fantastic chemistry, thus the match is sharp and really entertaining. I was a big Jericho guy at the time, but I appreciate Rock more and more as the years go by. He was genuinely really good in the ring, especially when in there with a guy of Jericho’s calibre.

Jericho manages to get a foothold in the match and does his usual stuff of the cocky cover, which leads to him undoing a turnbuckle pad for good measure. This one has pretty much been all action thus far and it’s been really good. We do eventually get a chin lock following a missile dropkick from Jericho, but they’ve been working at a quick clip and have earned the right to work a hold for a bit, and Rock sells it really well too. Rock teases going out, but his hand stays up on the third lift and he fights out of the hold.

Rock busts out a superplex following that, which leads to a double down, and some of the crowd is actually chanting for Jericho now. Jericho replies with two Lionsault’s, but Rock manages to kick out and Jericho throws his customary hissy fit, which gives Rock a chance to catch him in The Sharpshooter to a huge pop from the crowd. This leads to Lance Storm and Christian running in to help out their fellow Canadian, but Rock manages to fend them off, only to be caught with his own Rock Bottom to give Jericho two in a great near fall.

This Canadian Faction didn’t really go anywhere, which is a shame as Jericho having them watching his back in the form of a Horsemen-like stable would have likely been pretty great, and would have worked much better going into Mania than the storyline we actually got. Jericho tries the Fozzy Elbow on a downed Rock, but Rock recovers and then flings Jericho out of the ring for a Rock Bottom through the English announce table. Personally I’m surprised that wasn’t a DQ really, but I guess it isn’t on the video games so why should it be here? (I say this as someone who played a fair bit of WWF No Mercy over the holiday period)

Rock gets two from that back inside and then preps for another Rock Bottom, only for Jericho to counter into THE DREADED YOUNG LION BOSTON CRAB, which leads to a great submission tease until Rock manages to make the ropes to break the hold. This has been a really good finishing stretch and the crowd has been digging it. Earl Hebner ends up taking a bump, which leads to Jericho getting his main finishing move from this period of a belt shot, which gets two from replacement ref Nick Patrick. Rock gets  DDT following that, but Patrick does his heel referee routine of refusing to count, which leads to Rock giving him a Rock Bottom.

People’s Elbow to Jericho follows after that, but there is no referee to count with Hebner still being down as well. That allows Jericho to hit Rock right in the Scorpion King’s before flinging him face first into the unprotected buckle from earlier in the match and then follow up with a rope assisted pin for the three count. Was he playing “Heel Finish Bingo” or something?! The finish actually gets a surprised pop from the crowd, almost as if they appreciated Jericho for being so conniving.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: CHRIS JERICHO
RATING: ****

Excellent match, with good action and some fantastic near falls. What I loved about the finish was that Jericho actually won it on his own through his own heel antics. It would have been so easy for Storm and Christian to beat Rock down and Jericho get draped on top or something, but instead they had Jericho find a way to win it himself, thus making him look clever and resourceful rather than just some rube who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Too often WWE tend to book their heel Champs like chumps who can’t win a match on their own, such as Miz, JBL and Jinder Mahal, and all it does is devalue them. Always have the heel win off their own back in some form if you can, especially if they have the top Title. You can get away with it in the mid-card, but the World Champ needs to be Ric Flair and not Honky Tonk Man

Ross ponders how Jericho will sleep tonight, and Lawler replies it will likely be with his belts.

Shawn Michaels is at WWF New York, where he predicts either Stone Cold or Undertaker as the eventual winner of the Rumble, because you don’t mess with Texas.

Main Event
The Royal Rumble

Entrant #1 – Rikishi

Entrant #2 – Goldust

This was Goldust’s return to the WWF after being elsewhere since 1999. He would be a roster member on and off for many more years until eventually moving to AEW when that started up. Rikishi had spent quite a lot of 2001 on the shelf, but had returned at the end of the year so that Vince McMahon could have his face shoved up his bum by The Rock. They do the usual opening segment, where they tease some elimination’s to get the rules over, and the crowd isn’t really that into it, even though both men got decent reactions for their entrances.

Entrant #3 – The Big Boss Man

Boss Man had come back at the end of 2001 to work as an enforcer for Booker T as Stone Cold didn’t want to work with Stevie Ray but trusted Boss Man. He was basically done in that role now and this was his last pay per view appearance for the WWF I believe. Honestly, they should have just gone full retro with him and turned him back into babyface act from the early 90’s, especially as nostalgia would end up being a big part of this post-Attitude/pre-Ruth Aggression mini-era. Boss Man wasn’t looking too good here, but Rikishi is nice enough to take a Marty Jannetty bump from a clothesline for him.

Entrant #4 – Bradshaw

Bradshaw was still in his APA gimmick here and gets probably the biggest pop so far. He mows Goldust down with a shoulder tackle, whilst Rikishi gives Boss Man a Stink Face and throws him out.

Elimination # 1 – The Big Boss Man via Rikishi (1)

Entrant #5 – Lance Storm

Storm does a nice little bit with Goldust whilst Rikishi and Bradshaw tangle in the corner. Goldust has been fun with his selling actually.

Entrant #6 – Al Snow

Al gets a nice pop, whilst Bradshaw destroys poor Storm with a Clothesline From Heck. Meanwhile, the crowd wants Head, but Snow neglected to bring it.

Entrant #7 – Billy Gunn

Gunn was tagging with Chuck Palumbo by this stage, but they hadn’t won the tag belts yet. Storm and Snow fight on the apron, and Snow eventually wins that battle to kick Storm down to the floor to eliminate him.

Elimination #2 – Lance Storm via Al Snow (1)

Meanwhile, Goldust manages to catch Bradshaw and send him over the top.

Elimination #3 – Bradshaw via Goldust (1)

Entrant #8 – The Undertaker

Taker was freshly turned heel and he quickly destroys everyone, sending Goldust out with a choke slam.

Elimination #4 – Goldust via Undertaker (1)

Snow is next following that, and Rikishi soon follows him, as does Billy.

Elimination #5, 6 and 7 – Al Snow, Rikishi and Billy Gunn via Undertaker (4)

Entrant #9 – Matt Hardy

The Hardyz had been feuding with Undertaker, and Lita joins Matt in the quest for revenge, kicking Taker right in the gravestones and then helping Matt stomp away. Matt tries to eliminate Taker, but he’s just too big and he can’t manage it, although he gave a good effort.

Entrant #10 – Jeff Hardy

Jeff hates Taker as well of course, so he teams up with Matt, leading to all three of Team Xtreme taking it to the guy who tried to take them out. Of course, this is The Undertaker, so he manages to shrug their attacks off and eliminate them, although that’s not entirely it for The Hardyz involvement.

Elimination #8 and #9 – The Hardy Boyz via Undertaker (6)

Entrant #11 – Maven

Maven was fresh off winning Tough Enough, but sadly the crowd reaction is dubbed out due to darn music rights. He of course gets easily dismantled by Taker, but The Hardyz run in again to continue attacking Taker. He manages to fight them off, but the distraction is enough for Maven to dropkick Taker out for the surprise elimination to pop the crowd.

Elimination #10 – Undertaker via Maven (1)

Maven has a great look of “Oh, now I’m going to get it” on his face, and indeed, Undertaker gives him a battering.

Entrant #12 – Scotty 2 Hotty

In a funny spot, Taker punches Scotty as he makes his entrance and then drags Maven into the concession stand, where he flings him into a popcorn machine and then takes some free corn for good measure. He’s a bully and a thief, what a jerk! Maven is bleeding from that and is essentially eliminated via proxy. He would end up getting a Title shot at Jericho on Raw to make up for it, where Jericho actually managed to convince the crowd he might lose the belts to the rookie in a decent match.

Elimination #11 – Maven due to being unable to continue

Entrant #13 – WWF European Champion Christian

Scotty is still out in the aisle, so Christian taunts in the ring for a bit and then starts selling for Scotty when Scotty gets back in. Scotty tries to get the bulldog to set up the Worm, but Christian manages to dodge it.

Entrant #14 – Diamond Dallas Page

DDP was a babyface now due to a fun motivational speaker gimmick after being a psycho heel stalker during the Invasion. He would go on to defeat Christian for the European Title to set up a Title match at Mania. Christian ends up getting Diamond Cuttered, but Scotty super kicks him through the ropes and then bulldogs Christian to set up The Worm to pop the crowd. That’s two guaranteed crowd pop spots in a row, lovely stuff! DDP flings Scotty out following that now that his usefulness has expired.

Elimination #12 – Scotty 2 Hotty via Diamond Dallas Page (1)

Entrant #15 – Chuck Palumbo

Chuck and Christian team up on babyface DDP, as we’ve hit a bit of a lull following some strong story stuff and easy crowd pop spots.

Entrant #16 – The Godfather

Speaking of easy crowd pops, it’s The Godfather with loads of birds. Sadly his entrance goes on for so long that we miss DDP getting thrown out by Christian and Chuck.

Elimination #13 – DDP via Christian (1) and Chuck (1)

Entrant #17 – Albert

Albert was tagging with Scotty 2 Hotty at the time as “The Hip-Hop-Hippo”, in an act that was surprisingly effective but didn’t really end up going anywhere. He tries to eliminate Godfather, but gets dumped by the combined forces of Christian and Chuck.

Elimination #14 – Albert via Christian (2) and Chuck (2)

Godfather teases The Ho Train on the heels, but they dodge it and dump him to continue a surprisingly effective partnership.

Elimination #15 – The Godfather via Christian (3) and Chuck (3)

Entrant #18 – Perry Saturn

This was post-Moppy for Saturn, but he was basically done as a serious wrestler thanks to that and he ended up jumping to New Japan. He does some decent stuff, but the crowd doesn’t really care. Christian and Chuck as the two heels teaming up to eliminate a bunch of guys has not been this Rumble’s strongest section in all honesty.

Entrant #19 – Stone (What) Cold (What) Steve (What) Austin (WHAT?!?!)

This was during Austin’s insufferable WHAT period, where he got a catchphrase over and milked it to buggery. Anyway, Austin finally manages to end the Christian-Chuck Tyranny by dumping them and adding in Saturn for good measure.

Elimination #16, 17 and 18 – Christian, Chuck and Saturn via Stone Cold (3)

Entrant #20 – Val Venis

Venis was back to his porn star gimmick here following a rubbish stint as a censor in the Right To Censor faction. This isn’t a glorious return for him though, as Austin batters him so that the crowd can chant “WHAT?!” along with it. Venis does manage to get a bit of token offence in, and he was in decent shape here to be fair. Honestly I would have liked it for him to skip the WWF and have a go in Japan, as he would have been a monster over there and could have probably gotten work as a heel in somewhere like Zero-1. Going over and working some matches with Hashimoto to get some buzz before jumping back to the WWF would have probably stood him in better stead. He manages to survive until the next guy at least, thus ending Austin’s streak of eliminations for the time being.

Entrant #21 – Test

Test had immunity from getting fired in storyline here due to winning a battle royal at Survivor Series, which was an interesting idea that they didn’t do much with and then just forgot about. Both Canadians try taking it to Austin, but he manages to fight them off and dumps both of them to clear the ring once again.

Elimination #19 and 20 – Val Venis and Test via Stone Cold (5)

Entrant #22 – Triple H

Triple H had returned following a torn quad and was now a babyface, with the idea being that he worked so hard to come back from such a gnarly injury that it made him a sympathetic figure that people could get behind. He indeed got a monster pop on his return and was suitably popular on the face side, but he was still a distant third behind Stone Cold and The Rock, which eventually led to him going heel again later in the year. He takes his time making it down to the ring in order to create suspense, thus eating up a lot of time as a result. Triple H was huge here, which looked great on photo’s but hampered his work rate a bit due to it effecting his stamina.

Entrant #23 – The Hurricane

Hurricane tries to choke slam both guys in a funny spot, which goes about as well as you’d expect and he gets chucked out, thus leaving us with more Austin Vs Triple H.

Elimination #21 – The Hurricane via Stone Cold (6) and Triple H (1)

Entrant #24 – Faarooq

Faarooq seems to get booed during his entrance, probably because the fans think it’s eating into their Austin Vs Triple H time. They quickly deal with him though and Triple H clotheslines him out.

Elimination #22 – Faarooq via Triple H (2)

Austin and Triple H continue to go at it, and its decent action, although the heat isn’t entirely what you’d expect it to be.

Entrant #25 – Mr. Perfect

And here comes the unexpected star of the match, as Perfect was coming off a lousy final year or so in WCW and seemingly had a point to prove. I was really happy to see him at the time, especially as I’d randomly been playing WWF Royal Rumble on the SNES and he’d been my favourite character on that.

Entrant #26 – Kurt Angle

The fans chant “You Suck” and “WHAT?!” at Angle to wind him up. All four guys in the ring are good workers, so this section is fun from a wrestling perspective, as Perfect holds his own with the current generation of top guys just fine.

Entrant #27 – Big Show

Big Show was kind of just a mid-carder here, and would stay that way until Paul Heyman got his hands on him later in the year and actually made him a pretty entertaining part of the Smackdown Six Era of Smackdown. Show does his usual spot in one of these things by clobbering everyone, but he declines to actually throw anyone out.

Entrant #28 – Kane

Kane and Show do the Kaiju Battel, which ends with Kane slamming Show out of the ring, only for Angle to then slam him out straight afterwards.

Elimination #23 – Big Show via Kane (1)

Elimination #24 – Kane via Kurt Angle (1)

Entrant #29 – Rob Van Dam

One of a Kind gets dubbed out here. RVD runs wild on everyone and looks like a huge star in the process, but then a trend begins, as Triple H kills RVD stone dead with a Pedigree and that’s it for him in this.

Entrant #30 – Booker T

Booker quickly throws out the still knocked out RVD with ease. Man, what a waste of RVD that was.

Elimination #25 – Rob Van Dam via Booker T (1)

Booker stops to celebrate following that like an absolute idiot, leading to Austin easily dumping him out.

Elimination #26 – Booker T via Stone Cold (7)

So our Final Four is Triple H, Stone Cold, Angle and Perfect

The work continues to be really good here, with Angle throwing suplexes and Perfect continuing to not look out of place despite how long he’d been away. Perfect even gets to outlast Austin, as Angle knocks Austin out whilst he tries to eliminate Perfect.

Elimination #27 – Stone via Kurt Angle (2)

Kurt and Curt team up on Triple H, but Austin is a sore loser and chairs all three remaining guys in the ring before skulking off. He may not have won, but he was probably the second best performer in the match after Perfect to be honest. I’m surprised he went out so early, but it leaves money on the table for him and Triple H I guess. Perfect gets to do a really good bit with Angle, where he gets The Perfect-Plex, and you can imagine that Angle got a real kick out of that, but this leaves him open to a Triple H clothesline to finally end his night after a great performance.

Elimination #28 – Mr. Perfect via Triple H (3)

Angle and Triple H is a probably the least interesting combination of guys for a final two out of those four guys, and indeed the crowd spends a chunk of their fight cheering a leaving Perfect. Angle thinks he has it won, but Triple H holds on and dumps him out to win the match.

Elimination #29 – Kurt Angle via Triple H (4)

WINNER: TRIPLE H

MOST ELIMINATIONS: STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN (7)

LONGEST TIME IN MATCH: STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN (26:46)

RATING: ***1/4

This wasn’t quite as good a Rumble as I remembered it being, but it still had some strong moments and the stuff with Perfect in particular was really good. Definitely a good Rumble overall

Triple H celebrates following the victory, but Angle is displeased and would end up weaselling his way into almost getting the Title shot for himself.

In Conclusion

This one is an easy thumbs up, with nothing actively bad on the under card, a fun Vince/Flair brawl, an excellent World Title match and solid Rumble to cap it off with Curt Hennig’s last great performance. Not the best Rumble event ever, but a very good one that is well worth a watch if you’ve never seen it.