Scott Reviews HHH v. Undertaker

HHH v. Undertaker (Wrestlemania 27) Normally I’m not a single match review kind of guy, but I was listening to the year-end awards show on the Observer site, and Dave and Bryan were talking this up as even better than the Punk-Cena ***** classic from Chicago. So I figured it was worth the download at least to make my own call on it.  HHH’s extended “For Whom The Bell Tolls” intro is pretty awesome, as is the Undertaker’s Johnny Cash theme. Probably cost a ton of money just for the entrances alone, though. HHH slugs away in the corner to start, but gets tossed and they brawl outside. Taker clears a table right away, but HHH spears him into the Cole Mine (now there’s a concept that thankfully died a quick death) and heads back in. They exchange fisticuffs again and Taker gets the flying clothesline, but HHH blocks the old school ropewalk and sends him to the floor. Into the railing, as the upside of only working once a year becomes evident. Hey, if you’ve got the financial security to be able to afford only match per year, you might as well leave it all on the table so to speak. HHH is already trying a Pedigree on the table, but Undertaker backdrops him to the floor instead. JR is worried about his internal organs, so you know it’s painful. The replays show that, yeah, HHH just took a flat-back bump off the table and onto the mat. Ouch. HHH is standing, so Undertaker hits the annual Wrestlemania tope suicida, thankfully not killing himself this year. He sets up the stairs but can’t hit anything as we get more and more teases and setups, but he charges instead and HHH counters with a spinebuster through the Spanish table! Holy shit, they’re just letting it all hang out. Back in, Taker catches him with a chokeslam for two as JR is really talking up the end of the streak. UT wants the Last Ride, but HHH slugs out of it and then pounds him in the corner. Oh, that’s not smart, Cerebral Assassin. Taker indeed tries the powerbomb, but HHH escapes and sets up for the Pedigree, which Undertaker escapes, but HHH gets another spinebuster for two. That was a great sequence of two guys knowing each other. He grabs a chair, but Taker kicks it back in his face and then just UNLOADS with it. Safely on the back, I should note. However, he pauses for dramatic effect, and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE for two. HHH sets up for a superplex, but this time Taker does hit the Last Ride, and that gets two. Tombstone time, but even with the pose it only gets two. The chair is still around, so Taker picks up HHH and tries again, but this time it’s reversed into a DDT on the chair and both guys are out. They both pull themselves up on the ropes in a cool visual of two guys fighting through it to continue beating each other up, and HHH recovers first with the Pedigree for two. Kicking out of two Pedigrees? Is this guy CM Punk or something? And it’s a THIRD one for two. Holy cow. HHH grabs the chair and goes all Steve Austin-at-WM17 on him, but Taker is old and stubborn and won’t stay down. So it’s a VICIOUS chair to the face, and UT got his hands up so fast that it looked unprotected. The crowd’s kinda freaking out a bit now because Taker is getting the BEATS put on him, and he can’t even do the zombie situp. HHH suggests, gently, that Undertaker stay down again, but Taker keeps fighting, so HHH resignedly gives him the famous tombstone…for two. If I was watching this live, I would have bet money that it was going to be the finish and the streak was over. So with all rational options exhausted, HHH gets the trusty sledgehammer to end it for good. However, HHH gets sucked into the gogoplata while trying to bash Taker’s head in. I hate it when that happens. HHH is equally stubborn and won’t tap, instead grabbing his hammer and threatening one last skull-bashing before finally dropping it and then tapping out at 28:54. It definitely wasn’t as good as Punk-Cena (one of the greatest matches of all-time), but it certainly wasn’t “two guys hitting finishers and then laying around” like others have accused. They were two guys who wanted to let it all hang out at Wrestlemania, with Undertaker stubbornly refusing to die (great choice of song to reflect that, even!) and HHH hitting everything he had and then letting his temper force himself into the one mistake that allowed the beaten Undertaker to win. I also the minimalist approach to it, as it gets portrayed as a brawl with a bunch of shortcuts, but it was really only one chair and one table and the rest was the in-ring finishers doing all the damage. Not something I’d want to watch over and over, but it was definitely something that deserved the viewing at least once. Not the Match of the Year by any means, but I’d call it a solid second place. ****1/2 The pace was slow, however, because Undertaker really is an aging and beat up old guy. So it’s obviously a very effective role for him to play during a match.

Scott Reviews HHH v. Undertaker

HHH v. Undertaker (Wrestlemania 27) Normally I’m not a single match review kind of guy, but I was listening to the year-end awards show on the Observer site, and Dave and Bryan were talking this up as even better than the Punk-Cena ***** classic from Chicago. So I figured it was worth the download at least to make my own call on it.  HHH’s extended “For Whom The Bell Tolls” intro is pretty awesome, as is the Undertaker’s Johnny Cash theme. Probably cost a ton of money just for the entrances alone, though. HHH slugs away in the corner to start, but gets tossed and they brawl outside. Taker clears a table right away, but HHH spears him into the Cole Mine (now there’s a concept that thankfully died a quick death) and heads back in. They exchange fisticuffs again and Taker gets the flying clothesline, but HHH blocks the old school ropewalk and sends him to the floor. Into the railing, as the upside of only working once a year becomes evident. Hey, if you’ve got the financial security to be able to afford only match per year, you might as well leave it all on the table so to speak. HHH is already trying a Pedigree on the table, but Undertaker backdrops him to the floor instead. JR is worried about his internal organs, so you know it’s painful. The replays show that, yeah, HHH just took a flat-back bump off the table and onto the mat. Ouch. HHH is standing, so Undertaker hits the annual Wrestlemania tope suicida, thankfully not killing himself this year. He sets up the stairs but can’t hit anything as we get more and more teases and setups, but he charges instead and HHH counters with a spinebuster through the Spanish table! Holy shit, they’re just letting it all hang out. Back in, Taker catches him with a chokeslam for two as JR is really talking up the end of the streak. UT wants the Last Ride, but HHH slugs out of it and then pounds him in the corner. Oh, that’s not smart, Cerebral Assassin. Taker indeed tries the powerbomb, but HHH escapes and sets up for the Pedigree, which Undertaker escapes, but HHH gets another spinebuster for two. That was a great sequence of two guys knowing each other. He grabs a chair, but Taker kicks it back in his face and then just UNLOADS with it. Safely on the back, I should note. However, he pauses for dramatic effect, and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE for two. HHH sets up for a superplex, but this time Taker does hit the Last Ride, and that gets two. Tombstone time, but even with the pose it only gets two. The chair is still around, so Taker picks up HHH and tries again, but this time it’s reversed into a DDT on the chair and both guys are out. They both pull themselves up on the ropes in a cool visual of two guys fighting through it to continue beating each other up, and HHH recovers first with the Pedigree for two. Kicking out of two Pedigrees? Is this guy CM Punk or something? And it’s a THIRD one for two. Holy cow. HHH grabs the chair and goes all Steve Austin-at-WM17 on him, but Taker is old and stubborn and won’t stay down. So it’s a VICIOUS chair to the face, and UT got his hands up so fast that it looked unprotected. The crowd’s kinda freaking out a bit now because Taker is getting the BEATS put on him, and he can’t even do the zombie situp. HHH suggests, gently, that Undertaker stay down again, but Taker keeps fighting, so HHH resignedly gives him the famous tombstone…for two. If I was watching this live, I would have bet money that it was going to be the finish and the streak was over. So with all rational options exhausted, HHH gets the trusty sledgehammer to end it for good. However, HHH gets sucked into the gogoplata while trying to bash Taker’s head in. I hate it when that happens. HHH is equally stubborn and won’t tap, instead grabbing his hammer and threatening one last skull-bashing before finally dropping it and then tapping out at 28:54. It definitely wasn’t as good as Punk-Cena (one of the greatest matches of all-time), but it certainly wasn’t “two guys hitting finishers and then laying around” like others have accused. They were two guys who wanted to let it all hang out at Wrestlemania, with Undertaker stubbornly refusing to die (great choice of song to reflect that, even!) and HHH hitting everything he had and then letting his temper force himself into the one mistake that allowed the beaten Undertaker to win. I also the minimalist approach to it, as it gets portrayed as a brawl with a bunch of shortcuts, but it was really only one chair and one table and the rest was the in-ring finishers doing all the damage. Not something I’d want to watch over and over, but it was definitely something that deserved the viewing at least once. Not the Match of the Year by any means, but I’d call it a solid second place. ****1/2 The pace was slow, however, because Undertaker really is an aging and beat up old guy. So it’s obviously a very effective role for him to play during a match.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2010

(In the interest of speeding things up, I’ll just repost the 2010 show as-is because there’s not much to say anyway other than I overrated the Rumble match and probably the Mysterio-UT match as well, but it was a fun show regardless.  And no, I don’t have time to do the 2011 rant, sorry.  Maybe some other time.)  The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2010 – Live from Atlanta, GA. – Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker.ECW World title: Christian v. Ezekiel Jackson Apparently Jackson won a battle royale to earn a title shot. How original. Really, isn’t it time to put a bullet in this belt and be done with it? Jackson overpowers Christian to start, but he gets dumped and Christian hits him with a springboard dive. Back in, Jackson pounds away as Striker notes that the match screeches to a halt when he’s on offense. I think he was trying to be positive about it, but I dunno. Christian escapes from a press slam and chokes away on the ropes, but goes up and gets yanked down rudely. William Regal tries to get involved and gets sent back to the dressing room, thus robbing us of much of the potential entertainment value here. Zeke throws Christian into the stairs, and back in for two. And we go to the neck vice, which Jackson turns into a chokeslam for two. Delayed suplex gets two. Jackson pounds on the back and blocks a sunset flip with a tree slam for two. And we’re back to the chinlock, but Christian fights out, only to get slugged down for two. Jackson’s Klingon howl of outrage at every two count is a bit annoying. To the top, as Christian fights off a superplex attempt and hits a flying elbow instead. Jackson no-sells it, but misses a blind charge and walks into a missile dropkick. That gets two for Christian. Killswitch is blocked, so Christian goes up again, only to miss a flying splash. Jackson hits a lariat for two off that. Christian escapes a uranage, but Jackson gets a backbreaker for two. Jackson misses another charge and Christian gets the tornado DDT for two. Jackson with another lariat for two. Jackson escapes the Killswitch and runs Christian into the corner with an Oklahoma Stampede, but Killswitch finishes him for good at 12:00. Jackson is fucking awful, so they’ll probably bump him to RAW and make him World champion by September. Watchable big v. little match thanks to Christian, albeit about 4 minutes too long. **1/2 Meanwhile, Cryme Tyme bargains with Teddy Long for an extra spot in the Rumble, because only one of them is entered for some reason. They try to talk Great Khali into giving up his spot, but he apparently says “No dice, homeslice.” The Miz thinks the whole thing is pretty stupid (I’m with Miz) so Teddy punishes him by forcing him to defend against MVP. Meanwhile, Cody Rhodes just wants Randy Orton to know that he’s got his back. Haven’t they broken up YET? US title: The Miz v. MVP MVP wins a slugfest and puts Miz down with a clothesline for two. Floatover suplex gets two. Backdrop out of the corner and a backdrop suplex gets two, as Striker relates a story about how Miz REFUSED TO SHAKE HANDS with Ricky Steamboat and Terry Funk. Oh shit, that’s like first degree murder in wrestling terms. If he ever forgets to wear a suit at the airport he might as well pack his bags and go to TNA. Miz dumps MVP off the apron and into the table, and back in he works on the back and gets a corner clothesline. Double axehandle off the top gets two. Miz hits the chinlock as Striker notes that, to him as a child, Wrestlemania meant not having to wear a jacket outside anymore. Obviously he didn’t come from the Canadian Prairies. MVP comes back with a faceplant and facecrusher, which sets up the Ballin Elbow. I’m impressed he got that over. Yakuza kick gets two. Miz fights back with a necksnap on the top rope, but MVP gets a Pounce for two. Whatever happened to Monty Brown, anyway? Running kick misses, but MVP manages a rollup for two. Backslide gets two. Jackknife rollup gets two. Miz bails to escape and gets tossed right back in, but he catches MVP with a small package on the way in at 7:30 to retain. Sneaky! The crowd respected that so much that when MVP lays him out afterwards, the crowd BOOS THE SHIT OUT OF HIM. I agree with the crowd, Miz won that one fair and square and MVP is a sore loser. Basic RAW match. **1/4 Meanwhile, Big Show and Jericho have an awkward moment backstage. RAW World title: Sheamus v. Randy Orton Orton gets a monster babyface pop for his entrance, because he’s the star and Sheamus is not. To fix that you’d put Sheamus over and make him the star, but I sense that’s not how they’ll play it. Orton wins a lockup and puts Sheamus down with a dropkick, but slithers away. He’s obviously been studying his Jake Roberts tapes again. They slug it out on the ropes and Sheamus puts him down, so Orton bails to regroup. Orton’s arm is apparently hurt, so Sheamus goes to work on it. Orton responds with a chop block and starts on the knee to take over. Sheamus goes back to the arm as the crowd totally dies with no one playing babyface. If they have the balls to try Sheamus v. HHH at Wrestlemania as rumored, it’s gonna be DEATH. Epic death. And now Orton works the knee again as this thing has screeched to a halt like a teenaged boy getting cut off at second base. They slug it out with Orton getting the babyface reaction, but Sheamus gets a backbreaker for two. Sheamus tries the unnamed Razor’s Edge, but Orton escapes and dumps Sheamus, for another out-of-proportion babyface pop. He drags Sheamus back in with the DDT for two. Orton sets up for the punt, but Sheamus rolls out to escape, then sends Orton into the post. This allows Cody Rhodes to run in and lay out Sheamus for the DQ at 12:25. Orton gets the RKO in the meantime, so he’s probably upset at Rhodes. Hopefully he’ll do something about it sometime this year. This was a total bore, with Orton showing none of his usual charisma and Sheamus showing nothing, period. *1/2 And FINALLY, Orton turns on Legacy and beats them both down after months of teases. And then Sheamus puts Orton out with a big boot. So is this Orton’s face turn, I’m assuming? Women’s title: Michelle McCool v. Mickie James Michelle cuts a lengthy promo about how Mickie forfeits, before she even gets a chance to make her entrance, and the announcers act all surprised when James shows up after all. James hits the DDT right away and wins the title at 0:20. DUD So there we go, the heels get what they deserve, including their own cake thrown on them. I think that will dissipate the heat over the “Piggy James” crap. Smackdown World title: Undertaker v. Rey Mysterio They’ve got some time to play with here. You know, looking at the number of kids at ringside wearing Mysterio masks and the coin that Rey now brings in from merchandise makes it all the more astonishing that someone in WCW thought it would be a tremendous idea to unmask the luchadores. You can sell Rey Mysterio masks until the Earth falls into the Sun. It’s like a license to print money. Rey slugs away in the corner, but gets tossed to the floor WITH AUTHORITY. Now there’s one time where the cliché is apt. Rey fights up to the apron and gets soup-boned back to the floor again. Clearly we’re going full monty Sting v. Vader formula here. Rey dodges the guillotine legdrop and Undertaker gets all cranky and pulls him back into place for another one. Back in, Rey reverses the chokeslam into a 619 attempt, but Taker catches him and nearly gets a tombstone. Awesome. Rey kicks out of it, barely, and boots Taker down, but tries a springboard crossbody and hits UT’s boot. Taker beats on him outside, but misses a baseball slide and hits the post. Rey tries to follow with a senton, but Taker catches him with a Last Ride. Rey hops onto the apron to escape and hits Taker with a moonsault to the floor, however. Rey tries a baseball slide and misses, and UT just destroys him with a shot to the railing. Back in, that gets two. Back in, UT’s REALLY pissed now, what with bleeding from the mouth and nose and all, so he beats Rey down in the corner and hits a sideslam for two. Hey, our first blood of 2010! Rey fights back and gets beaten down again for his troubles, but manages to put Taker down with an inverted DDT and Drops the Dime for two. Rey slugs away again and gets clotheslined, and Taker has had ENOUGH of this shit. Last Ride, but Rey escapes and dropkicks Taker into the 619. He’s still standing, so Rey does it again and goes for the West Coast Pop to finish, but it’s Last Ride and good night at 11:08. This? Was AWESOME. I’m a hardcore sucker for guys going out and beating the hell out of each other because they want the belt so much. And yeah, this was Sting v. Vader to the letter, with the plucky babyface throwing everything he has at the monster heel, but just not being good enough that night. LOVED IT. **** Meanwhile, Kane lectures Shawn Michaels about being obsessed with Undertaker. Well, he’d know. HHH and Shawn settle their differences about who should win…but Shawn REALLY feels he’s going to get that shot at Undertaker. They have to do HHH v. Shawn at the end now. Royal Rumble: Dolph Ziggler is #1 and Evan Bourne is #2. It’s truly the most star-studded Rumble ever! Bourne snaps off a rana and a leg lariat, but Ziggler pounds away in the corner and nearly dropkicks Bourne out. Bourne comes back with another rana that almost puts Ziggler out, but he hangs on. Dolph with the Zig Zag and he still can’t get Bourne out, and Evan gets the shooting star press as CM Punk is #3, looking more like Billy Jack Haynes every day. Well, in body hair, not in steroid use or paranoid batshit craziness, obviously. He tosses both guys at 2:29 and now it’s PROMO TIME. “Excuse me, it’s clobbering time”. JTG is #4 as this clock is already all over the place. JTG pounds away in the corner and gets dumped like a MORON at 4:04. And he CUTS ANOTHER PROMO. Epic. Great Khali is #5 and Punk can save him, by making him Greater, apparently. Khali chops him down in response and gives him the head vice. Beth Phoenix is #6. Sure, why not. Khali rather politely puts her on the ring apron, but Beth kisses him and pulls him out at 7:08. As comedy spots go, that’s pretty awesome. Beth goes after Punk as well and does pretty good, but she Goes To Sleep at 8:00 as Zack Ryder is #7. Punk barely even gets to cut a promo before laying out Ryder and tossing him at 8:43. HHH is #8 and I’m thinking his promo time is done. HHH slugs Punk down and gets the facecrusher, but Punk comes back with the knee in the corner. HHH hits the spinebuster as we’re already at Drew McIntyre at #9. Seriously, how hard is it to time 90 seconds? HHH lays out Drew and trades finisher attempts with Punk, then tosses him at 12:12. BOOO! I want more Punk! Drew pounds away on HHH in the corner and it’s Ted Dibiase at #10. He’ll likely get a long run. He powerslams HHH and the heels double-team HHH in the corner. John Morrison is #11 and he saves HHH, then attacks McIntyre. Dibiase lays him out before he can get Starship Pain, but really top rope moves are a bad idea anyway. But no, he fights Dibiase off and hits it anyway. Kane is #12 and he immediately cleans house, but doesn’t eliminate anyone yet. Cody Rhodes is #13 and saves Dibiase from Kane, and Legacy goes to work on him. Striker wonders what will happen if one of the “young guns” wins the Rumble. Does he still believe in Santa Claus, too? Legacy tries to get Kane out and HHH saves. Why? MVP is #14, but Miz blasts him with the US title as a receipt for earlier in the night and puts him out of the match. Good bit of booking there. More dullness in the corners as the ring fills up, and Carlito is #15. Truly this is star-studded. He gets his 5 seconds of offense, including the backstabber on everyone, but gets laid out as Miz is #16. And now MVP comes into the match and puts both Miz and himself out at 22:36. Matt Hardy is #17, so expect him to run away if anything gets too dangerous. And indeed the gas station incident must have been on the mind of Vince, because Kane dumps him at 24:03 before his music can even finish, but HHH puts Kane out at 24:10 as well. HHH lays out the field, but Shawn Michaels is #18. Carlito is done at 25:19. Cody is out at 25:28. Dibiase at 25:30. Morrison at 25:59. Can anyone stop the path of Jesus? Drew is alone with DX, and you can guess how that goes. Drew is done at 26:30. DX looks ready to throw down, but John Cena is #19. He takes on both DX members and neither one can see him. HHH saves Shawn from elimination and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE…but Shawn superkicks him out at 28:19! FUCK YEAH! Shelton Benjamin is #20 and he goes wild on Shawn and Cena, hitting the Paydirt on both of them, but Cena dumps him at 29:18. Yoshi Tatsu is #21. I don’t know who he is. And yeah, Cena dumps him at 30:28, giving us Cena v. Shawn again. I dunno, I’m definitely cheering for Shawn to win his first one in 16 years, but the story is better if he loses and has to fight for it next month. Big Show is #22 and he wants to put Shawn out, but Shawn does the Benoit choke to stop him. Cena dumps Shawn, but he skins the cat and Show yanks him back in. They’ve got the crowd by the short hairs here with the Shawn teases, as everyone wants him to win and they know it. Mark Henry is #23 and he slugs it out with Big Show. Cena and Henry combine forces and Henry slams Show, and Chris Masters is #24. STAR STUDDED! He goes after Show and gets dumped at 34:53. Henry and Show lay on the ropes and Shawn tries to help, but he’s got nothing. Truth is #25, and HE puts both of Show and Henry out at 35:41! Wow. He cleans house on Shawn and Cena and Jack Swagger is #26. Pump splashes for everyone and he clotheslines Shawn out…but Shawn hangs on again. Kofi Kingston is #27, and he might have an outside chance. Plus he’s got the best spot. He puts Swagger out at 39:01. He pounds on Truth in the corner and nearly gets dumped as a result, but hangs on and takes Truth out at 39:46. Chris Jericho is #28 and he goes after Cena, but walks into the FU. Shawn goes up with the flying elbow (which is actually a place where “Vintage Michaels” would apply), but Kofi cuts off the superkick. Cena dumps Kofi at 41:26, but Jericho hits the Codebreaker on Cena. Edge returns at #29 with his beard back again, and he spears everyone to a giant face pop. Jericho is gone at 42:23. Striker says to call your friends, but really it’s late to order the show now. And finally, Batista is #30. Final Four: Batista, Edge, Shawn and Cena. They all trade finishers and everyone is out. Edge and Shawn fight on the apron…and Batista knocks Shawn off at 46:03. The crowd is crushed by that one. So is Shawn, because he superkicks Charles Robinson! Great bump from the ref. So back to the match, as Cena dodges Batista to put him out at 48:48, leaving us Edge v. Cena. Cena dodges the spear, but Edge tosses Cena at 49:24 to win the Royal Rumble! I figured him for returning, but not winning the thing. And this may have been the best Rumble I’ve ever seen, with several great storylines going, no logjam periods, a great pace, and a big surprise entrant and winner. ***** The Pulse: The Rumble is a hard match to screw up, and in fact this time they got it exactly right. Big thumbs up!

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2010

(In the interest of speeding things up, I’ll just repost the 2010 show as-is because there’s not much to say anyway other than I overrated the Rumble match and probably the Mysterio-UT match as well, but it was a fun show regardless.  And no, I don’t have time to do the 2011 rant, sorry.  Maybe some other time.)  The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2010 – Live from Atlanta, GA. – Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker.ECW World title: Christian v. Ezekiel Jackson Apparently Jackson won a battle royale to earn a title shot. How original. Really, isn’t it time to put a bullet in this belt and be done with it? Jackson overpowers Christian to start, but he gets dumped and Christian hits him with a springboard dive. Back in, Jackson pounds away as Striker notes that the match screeches to a halt when he’s on offense. I think he was trying to be positive about it, but I dunno. Christian escapes from a press slam and chokes away on the ropes, but goes up and gets yanked down rudely. William Regal tries to get involved and gets sent back to the dressing room, thus robbing us of much of the potential entertainment value here. Zeke throws Christian into the stairs, and back in for two. And we go to the neck vice, which Jackson turns into a chokeslam for two. Delayed suplex gets two. Jackson pounds on the back and blocks a sunset flip with a tree slam for two. And we’re back to the chinlock, but Christian fights out, only to get slugged down for two. Jackson’s Klingon howl of outrage at every two count is a bit annoying. To the top, as Christian fights off a superplex attempt and hits a flying elbow instead. Jackson no-sells it, but misses a blind charge and walks into a missile dropkick. That gets two for Christian. Killswitch is blocked, so Christian goes up again, only to miss a flying splash. Jackson hits a lariat for two off that. Christian escapes a uranage, but Jackson gets a backbreaker for two. Jackson misses another charge and Christian gets the tornado DDT for two. Jackson with another lariat for two. Jackson escapes the Killswitch and runs Christian into the corner with an Oklahoma Stampede, but Killswitch finishes him for good at 12:00. Jackson is fucking awful, so they’ll probably bump him to RAW and make him World champion by September. Watchable big v. little match thanks to Christian, albeit about 4 minutes too long. **1/2 Meanwhile, Cryme Tyme bargains with Teddy Long for an extra spot in the Rumble, because only one of them is entered for some reason. They try to talk Great Khali into giving up his spot, but he apparently says “No dice, homeslice.” The Miz thinks the whole thing is pretty stupid (I’m with Miz) so Teddy punishes him by forcing him to defend against MVP. Meanwhile, Cody Rhodes just wants Randy Orton to know that he’s got his back. Haven’t they broken up YET? US title: The Miz v. MVP MVP wins a slugfest and puts Miz down with a clothesline for two. Floatover suplex gets two. Backdrop out of the corner and a backdrop suplex gets two, as Striker relates a story about how Miz REFUSED TO SHAKE HANDS with Ricky Steamboat and Terry Funk. Oh shit, that’s like first degree murder in wrestling terms. If he ever forgets to wear a suit at the airport he might as well pack his bags and go to TNA. Miz dumps MVP off the apron and into the table, and back in he works on the back and gets a corner clothesline. Double axehandle off the top gets two. Miz hits the chinlock as Striker notes that, to him as a child, Wrestlemania meant not having to wear a jacket outside anymore. Obviously he didn’t come from the Canadian Prairies. MVP comes back with a faceplant and facecrusher, which sets up the Ballin Elbow. I’m impressed he got that over. Yakuza kick gets two. Miz fights back with a necksnap on the top rope, but MVP gets a Pounce for two. Whatever happened to Monty Brown, anyway? Running kick misses, but MVP manages a rollup for two. Backslide gets two. Jackknife rollup gets two. Miz bails to escape and gets tossed right back in, but he catches MVP with a small package on the way in at 7:30 to retain. Sneaky! The crowd respected that so much that when MVP lays him out afterwards, the crowd BOOS THE SHIT OUT OF HIM. I agree with the crowd, Miz won that one fair and square and MVP is a sore loser. Basic RAW match. **1/4 Meanwhile, Big Show and Jericho have an awkward moment backstage. RAW World title: Sheamus v. Randy Orton Orton gets a monster babyface pop for his entrance, because he’s the star and Sheamus is not. To fix that you’d put Sheamus over and make him the star, but I sense that’s not how they’ll play it. Orton wins a lockup and puts Sheamus down with a dropkick, but slithers away. He’s obviously been studying his Jake Roberts tapes again. They slug it out on the ropes and Sheamus puts him down, so Orton bails to regroup. Orton’s arm is apparently hurt, so Sheamus goes to work on it. Orton responds with a chop block and starts on the knee to take over. Sheamus goes back to the arm as the crowd totally dies with no one playing babyface. If they have the balls to try Sheamus v. HHH at Wrestlemania as rumored, it’s gonna be DEATH. Epic death. And now Orton works the knee again as this thing has screeched to a halt like a teenaged boy getting cut off at second base. They slug it out with Orton getting the babyface reaction, but Sheamus gets a backbreaker for two. Sheamus tries the unnamed Razor’s Edge, but Orton escapes and dumps Sheamus, for another out-of-proportion babyface pop. He drags Sheamus back in with the DDT for two. Orton sets up for the punt, but Sheamus rolls out to escape, then sends Orton into the post. This allows Cody Rhodes to run in and lay out Sheamus for the DQ at 12:25. Orton gets the RKO in the meantime, so he’s probably upset at Rhodes. Hopefully he’ll do something about it sometime this year. This was a total bore, with Orton showing none of his usual charisma and Sheamus showing nothing, period. *1/2 And FINALLY, Orton turns on Legacy and beats them both down after months of teases. And then Sheamus puts Orton out with a big boot. So is this Orton’s face turn, I’m assuming? Women’s title: Michelle McCool v. Mickie James Michelle cuts a lengthy promo about how Mickie forfeits, before she even gets a chance to make her entrance, and the announcers act all surprised when James shows up after all. James hits the DDT right away and wins the title at 0:20. DUD So there we go, the heels get what they deserve, including their own cake thrown on them. I think that will dissipate the heat over the “Piggy James” crap. Smackdown World title: Undertaker v. Rey Mysterio They’ve got some time to play with here. You know, looking at the number of kids at ringside wearing Mysterio masks and the coin that Rey now brings in from merchandise makes it all the more astonishing that someone in WCW thought it would be a tremendous idea to unmask the luchadores. You can sell Rey Mysterio masks until the Earth falls into the Sun. It’s like a license to print money. Rey slugs away in the corner, but gets tossed to the floor WITH AUTHORITY. Now there’s one time where the cliché is apt. Rey fights up to the apron and gets soup-boned back to the floor again. Clearly we’re going full monty Sting v. Vader formula here. Rey dodges the guillotine legdrop and Undertaker gets all cranky and pulls him back into place for another one. Back in, Rey reverses the chokeslam into a 619 attempt, but Taker catches him and nearly gets a tombstone. Awesome. Rey kicks out of it, barely, and boots Taker down, but tries a springboard crossbody and hits UT’s boot. Taker beats on him outside, but misses a baseball slide and hits the post. Rey tries to follow with a senton, but Taker catches him with a Last Ride. Rey hops onto the apron to escape and hits Taker with a moonsault to the floor, however. Rey tries a baseball slide and misses, and UT just destroys him with a shot to the railing. Back in, that gets two. Back in, UT’s REALLY pissed now, what with bleeding from the mouth and nose and all, so he beats Rey down in the corner and hits a sideslam for two. Hey, our first blood of 2010! Rey fights back and gets beaten down again for his troubles, but manages to put Taker down with an inverted DDT and Drops the Dime for two. Rey slugs away again and gets clotheslined, and Taker has had ENOUGH of this shit. Last Ride, but Rey escapes and dropkicks Taker into the 619. He’s still standing, so Rey does it again and goes for the West Coast Pop to finish, but it’s Last Ride and good night at 11:08. This? Was AWESOME. I’m a hardcore sucker for guys going out and beating the hell out of each other because they want the belt so much. And yeah, this was Sting v. Vader to the letter, with the plucky babyface throwing everything he has at the monster heel, but just not being good enough that night. LOVED IT. **** Meanwhile, Kane lectures Shawn Michaels about being obsessed with Undertaker. Well, he’d know. HHH and Shawn settle their differences about who should win…but Shawn REALLY feels he’s going to get that shot at Undertaker. They have to do HHH v. Shawn at the end now. Royal Rumble: Dolph Ziggler is #1 and Evan Bourne is #2. It’s truly the most star-studded Rumble ever! Bourne snaps off a rana and a leg lariat, but Ziggler pounds away in the corner and nearly dropkicks Bourne out. Bourne comes back with another rana that almost puts Ziggler out, but he hangs on. Dolph with the Zig Zag and he still can’t get Bourne out, and Evan gets the shooting star press as CM Punk is #3, looking more like Billy Jack Haynes every day. Well, in body hair, not in steroid use or paranoid batshit craziness, obviously. He tosses both guys at 2:29 and now it’s PROMO TIME. “Excuse me, it’s clobbering time”. JTG is #4 as this clock is already all over the place. JTG pounds away in the corner and gets dumped like a MORON at 4:04. And he CUTS ANOTHER PROMO. Epic. Great Khali is #5 and Punk can save him, by making him Greater, apparently. Khali chops him down in response and gives him the head vice. Beth Phoenix is #6. Sure, why not. Khali rather politely puts her on the ring apron, but Beth kisses him and pulls him out at 7:08. As comedy spots go, that’s pretty awesome. Beth goes after Punk as well and does pretty good, but she Goes To Sleep at 8:00 as Zack Ryder is #7. Punk barely even gets to cut a promo before laying out Ryder and tossing him at 8:43. HHH is #8 and I’m thinking his promo time is done. HHH slugs Punk down and gets the facecrusher, but Punk comes back with the knee in the corner. HHH hits the spinebuster as we’re already at Drew McIntyre at #9. Seriously, how hard is it to time 90 seconds? HHH lays out Drew and trades finisher attempts with Punk, then tosses him at 12:12. BOOO! I want more Punk! Drew pounds away on HHH in the corner and it’s Ted Dibiase at #10. He’ll likely get a long run. He powerslams HHH and the heels double-team HHH in the corner. John Morrison is #11 and he saves HHH, then attacks McIntyre. Dibiase lays him out before he can get Starship Pain, but really top rope moves are a bad idea anyway. But no, he fights Dibiase off and hits it anyway. Kane is #12 and he immediately cleans house, but doesn’t eliminate anyone yet. Cody Rhodes is #13 and saves Dibiase from Kane, and Legacy goes to work on him. Striker wonders what will happen if one of the “young guns” wins the Rumble. Does he still believe in Santa Claus, too? Legacy tries to get Kane out and HHH saves. Why? MVP is #14, but Miz blasts him with the US title as a receipt for earlier in the night and puts him out of the match. Good bit of booking there. More dullness in the corners as the ring fills up, and Carlito is #15. Truly this is star-studded. He gets his 5 seconds of offense, including the backstabber on everyone, but gets laid out as Miz is #16. And now MVP comes into the match and puts both Miz and himself out at 22:36. Matt Hardy is #17, so expect him to run away if anything gets too dangerous. And indeed the gas station incident must have been on the mind of Vince, because Kane dumps him at 24:03 before his music can even finish, but HHH puts Kane out at 24:10 as well. HHH lays out the field, but Shawn Michaels is #18. Carlito is done at 25:19. Cody is out at 25:28. Dibiase at 25:30. Morrison at 25:59. Can anyone stop the path of Jesus? Drew is alone with DX, and you can guess how that goes. Drew is done at 26:30. DX looks ready to throw down, but John Cena is #19. He takes on both DX members and neither one can see him. HHH saves Shawn from elimination and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE…but Shawn superkicks him out at 28:19! FUCK YEAH! Shelton Benjamin is #20 and he goes wild on Shawn and Cena, hitting the Paydirt on both of them, but Cena dumps him at 29:18. Yoshi Tatsu is #21. I don’t know who he is. And yeah, Cena dumps him at 30:28, giving us Cena v. Shawn again. I dunno, I’m definitely cheering for Shawn to win his first one in 16 years, but the story is better if he loses and has to fight for it next month. Big Show is #22 and he wants to put Shawn out, but Shawn does the Benoit choke to stop him. Cena dumps Shawn, but he skins the cat and Show yanks him back in. They’ve got the crowd by the short hairs here with the Shawn teases, as everyone wants him to win and they know it. Mark Henry is #23 and he slugs it out with Big Show. Cena and Henry combine forces and Henry slams Show, and Chris Masters is #24. STAR STUDDED! He goes after Show and gets dumped at 34:53. Henry and Show lay on the ropes and Shawn tries to help, but he’s got nothing. Truth is #25, and HE puts both of Show and Henry out at 35:41! Wow. He cleans house on Shawn and Cena and Jack Swagger is #26. Pump splashes for everyone and he clotheslines Shawn out…but Shawn hangs on again. Kofi Kingston is #27, and he might have an outside chance. Plus he’s got the best spot. He puts Swagger out at 39:01. He pounds on Truth in the corner and nearly gets dumped as a result, but hangs on and takes Truth out at 39:46. Chris Jericho is #28 and he goes after Cena, but walks into the FU. Shawn goes up with the flying elbow (which is actually a place where “Vintage Michaels” would apply), but Kofi cuts off the superkick. Cena dumps Kofi at 41:26, but Jericho hits the Codebreaker on Cena. Edge returns at #29 with his beard back again, and he spears everyone to a giant face pop. Jericho is gone at 42:23. Striker says to call your friends, but really it’s late to order the show now. And finally, Batista is #30. Final Four: Batista, Edge, Shawn and Cena. They all trade finishers and everyone is out. Edge and Shawn fight on the apron…and Batista knocks Shawn off at 46:03. The crowd is crushed by that one. So is Shawn, because he superkicks Charles Robinson! Great bump from the ref. So back to the match, as Cena dodges Batista to put him out at 48:48, leaving us Edge v. Cena. Cena dodges the spear, but Edge tosses Cena at 49:24 to win the Royal Rumble! I figured him for returning, but not winning the thing. And this may have been the best Rumble I’ve ever seen, with several great storylines going, no logjam periods, a great pace, and a big surprise entrant and winner. ***** The Pulse: The Rumble is a hard match to screw up, and in fact this time they got it exactly right. Big thumbs up!

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2010

(In the interest of speeding things up, I’ll just repost the 2010 show as-is because there’s not much to say anyway other than I overrated the Rumble match and probably the Mysterio-UT match as well, but it was a fun show regardless.  And no, I don’t have time to do the 2011 rant, sorry.  Maybe some other time.)  The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2010 – Live from Atlanta, GA. – Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker.ECW World title: Christian v. Ezekiel Jackson Apparently Jackson won a battle royale to earn a title shot. How original. Really, isn’t it time to put a bullet in this belt and be done with it? Jackson overpowers Christian to start, but he gets dumped and Christian hits him with a springboard dive. Back in, Jackson pounds away as Striker notes that the match screeches to a halt when he’s on offense. I think he was trying to be positive about it, but I dunno. Christian escapes from a press slam and chokes away on the ropes, but goes up and gets yanked down rudely. William Regal tries to get involved and gets sent back to the dressing room, thus robbing us of much of the potential entertainment value here. Zeke throws Christian into the stairs, and back in for two. And we go to the neck vice, which Jackson turns into a chokeslam for two. Delayed suplex gets two. Jackson pounds on the back and blocks a sunset flip with a tree slam for two. And we’re back to the chinlock, but Christian fights out, only to get slugged down for two. Jackson’s Klingon howl of outrage at every two count is a bit annoying. To the top, as Christian fights off a superplex attempt and hits a flying elbow instead. Jackson no-sells it, but misses a blind charge and walks into a missile dropkick. That gets two for Christian. Killswitch is blocked, so Christian goes up again, only to miss a flying splash. Jackson hits a lariat for two off that. Christian escapes a uranage, but Jackson gets a backbreaker for two. Jackson misses another charge and Christian gets the tornado DDT for two. Jackson with another lariat for two. Jackson escapes the Killswitch and runs Christian into the corner with an Oklahoma Stampede, but Killswitch finishes him for good at 12:00. Jackson is fucking awful, so they’ll probably bump him to RAW and make him World champion by September. Watchable big v. little match thanks to Christian, albeit about 4 minutes too long. **1/2 Meanwhile, Cryme Tyme bargains with Teddy Long for an extra spot in the Rumble, because only one of them is entered for some reason. They try to talk Great Khali into giving up his spot, but he apparently says “No dice, homeslice.” The Miz thinks the whole thing is pretty stupid (I’m with Miz) so Teddy punishes him by forcing him to defend against MVP. Meanwhile, Cody Rhodes just wants Randy Orton to know that he’s got his back. Haven’t they broken up YET? US title: The Miz v. MVP MVP wins a slugfest and puts Miz down with a clothesline for two. Floatover suplex gets two. Backdrop out of the corner and a backdrop suplex gets two, as Striker relates a story about how Miz REFUSED TO SHAKE HANDS with Ricky Steamboat and Terry Funk. Oh shit, that’s like first degree murder in wrestling terms. If he ever forgets to wear a suit at the airport he might as well pack his bags and go to TNA. Miz dumps MVP off the apron and into the table, and back in he works on the back and gets a corner clothesline. Double axehandle off the top gets two. Miz hits the chinlock as Striker notes that, to him as a child, Wrestlemania meant not having to wear a jacket outside anymore. Obviously he didn’t come from the Canadian Prairies. MVP comes back with a faceplant and facecrusher, which sets up the Ballin Elbow. I’m impressed he got that over. Yakuza kick gets two. Miz fights back with a necksnap on the top rope, but MVP gets a Pounce for two. Whatever happened to Monty Brown, anyway? Running kick misses, but MVP manages a rollup for two. Backslide gets two. Jackknife rollup gets two. Miz bails to escape and gets tossed right back in, but he catches MVP with a small package on the way in at 7:30 to retain. Sneaky! The crowd respected that so much that when MVP lays him out afterwards, the crowd BOOS THE SHIT OUT OF HIM. I agree with the crowd, Miz won that one fair and square and MVP is a sore loser. Basic RAW match. **1/4 Meanwhile, Big Show and Jericho have an awkward moment backstage. RAW World title: Sheamus v. Randy Orton Orton gets a monster babyface pop for his entrance, because he’s the star and Sheamus is not. To fix that you’d put Sheamus over and make him the star, but I sense that’s not how they’ll play it. Orton wins a lockup and puts Sheamus down with a dropkick, but slithers away. He’s obviously been studying his Jake Roberts tapes again. They slug it out on the ropes and Sheamus puts him down, so Orton bails to regroup. Orton’s arm is apparently hurt, so Sheamus goes to work on it. Orton responds with a chop block and starts on the knee to take over. Sheamus goes back to the arm as the crowd totally dies with no one playing babyface. If they have the balls to try Sheamus v. HHH at Wrestlemania as rumored, it’s gonna be DEATH. Epic death. And now Orton works the knee again as this thing has screeched to a halt like a teenaged boy getting cut off at second base. They slug it out with Orton getting the babyface reaction, but Sheamus gets a backbreaker for two. Sheamus tries the unnamed Razor’s Edge, but Orton escapes and dumps Sheamus, for another out-of-proportion babyface pop. He drags Sheamus back in with the DDT for two. Orton sets up for the punt, but Sheamus rolls out to escape, then sends Orton into the post. This allows Cody Rhodes to run in and lay out Sheamus for the DQ at 12:25. Orton gets the RKO in the meantime, so he’s probably upset at Rhodes. Hopefully he’ll do something about it sometime this year. This was a total bore, with Orton showing none of his usual charisma and Sheamus showing nothing, period. *1/2 And FINALLY, Orton turns on Legacy and beats them both down after months of teases. And then Sheamus puts Orton out with a big boot. So is this Orton’s face turn, I’m assuming? Women’s title: Michelle McCool v. Mickie James Michelle cuts a lengthy promo about how Mickie forfeits, before she even gets a chance to make her entrance, and the announcers act all surprised when James shows up after all. James hits the DDT right away and wins the title at 0:20. DUD So there we go, the heels get what they deserve, including their own cake thrown on them. I think that will dissipate the heat over the “Piggy James” crap. Smackdown World title: Undertaker v. Rey Mysterio They’ve got some time to play with here. You know, looking at the number of kids at ringside wearing Mysterio masks and the coin that Rey now brings in from merchandise makes it all the more astonishing that someone in WCW thought it would be a tremendous idea to unmask the luchadores. You can sell Rey Mysterio masks until the Earth falls into the Sun. It’s like a license to print money. Rey slugs away in the corner, but gets tossed to the floor WITH AUTHORITY. Now there’s one time where the cliché is apt. Rey fights up to the apron and gets soup-boned back to the floor again. Clearly we’re going full monty Sting v. Vader formula here. Rey dodges the guillotine legdrop and Undertaker gets all cranky and pulls him back into place for another one. Back in, Rey reverses the chokeslam into a 619 attempt, but Taker catches him and nearly gets a tombstone. Awesome. Rey kicks out of it, barely, and boots Taker down, but tries a springboard crossbody and hits UT’s boot. Taker beats on him outside, but misses a baseball slide and hits the post. Rey tries to follow with a senton, but Taker catches him with a Last Ride. Rey hops onto the apron to escape and hits Taker with a moonsault to the floor, however. Rey tries a baseball slide and misses, and UT just destroys him with a shot to the railing. Back in, that gets two. Back in, UT’s REALLY pissed now, what with bleeding from the mouth and nose and all, so he beats Rey down in the corner and hits a sideslam for two. Hey, our first blood of 2010! Rey fights back and gets beaten down again for his troubles, but manages to put Taker down with an inverted DDT and Drops the Dime for two. Rey slugs away again and gets clotheslined, and Taker has had ENOUGH of this shit. Last Ride, but Rey escapes and dropkicks Taker into the 619. He’s still standing, so Rey does it again and goes for the West Coast Pop to finish, but it’s Last Ride and good night at 11:08. This? Was AWESOME. I’m a hardcore sucker for guys going out and beating the hell out of each other because they want the belt so much. And yeah, this was Sting v. Vader to the letter, with the plucky babyface throwing everything he has at the monster heel, but just not being good enough that night. LOVED IT. **** Meanwhile, Kane lectures Shawn Michaels about being obsessed with Undertaker. Well, he’d know. HHH and Shawn settle their differences about who should win…but Shawn REALLY feels he’s going to get that shot at Undertaker. They have to do HHH v. Shawn at the end now. Royal Rumble: Dolph Ziggler is #1 and Evan Bourne is #2. It’s truly the most star-studded Rumble ever! Bourne snaps off a rana and a leg lariat, but Ziggler pounds away in the corner and nearly dropkicks Bourne out. Bourne comes back with another rana that almost puts Ziggler out, but he hangs on. Dolph with the Zig Zag and he still can’t get Bourne out, and Evan gets the shooting star press as CM Punk is #3, looking more like Billy Jack Haynes every day. Well, in body hair, not in steroid use or paranoid batshit craziness, obviously. He tosses both guys at 2:29 and now it’s PROMO TIME. “Excuse me, it’s clobbering time”. JTG is #4 as this clock is already all over the place. JTG pounds away in the corner and gets dumped like a MORON at 4:04. And he CUTS ANOTHER PROMO. Epic. Great Khali is #5 and Punk can save him, by making him Greater, apparently. Khali chops him down in response and gives him the head vice. Beth Phoenix is #6. Sure, why not. Khali rather politely puts her on the ring apron, but Beth kisses him and pulls him out at 7:08. As comedy spots go, that’s pretty awesome. Beth goes after Punk as well and does pretty good, but she Goes To Sleep at 8:00 as Zack Ryder is #7. Punk barely even gets to cut a promo before laying out Ryder and tossing him at 8:43. HHH is #8 and I’m thinking his promo time is done. HHH slugs Punk down and gets the facecrusher, but Punk comes back with the knee in the corner. HHH hits the spinebuster as we’re already at Drew McIntyre at #9. Seriously, how hard is it to time 90 seconds? HHH lays out Drew and trades finisher attempts with Punk, then tosses him at 12:12. BOOO! I want more Punk! Drew pounds away on HHH in the corner and it’s Ted Dibiase at #10. He’ll likely get a long run. He powerslams HHH and the heels double-team HHH in the corner. John Morrison is #11 and he saves HHH, then attacks McIntyre. Dibiase lays him out before he can get Starship Pain, but really top rope moves are a bad idea anyway. But no, he fights Dibiase off and hits it anyway. Kane is #12 and he immediately cleans house, but doesn’t eliminate anyone yet. Cody Rhodes is #13 and saves Dibiase from Kane, and Legacy goes to work on him. Striker wonders what will happen if one of the “young guns” wins the Rumble. Does he still believe in Santa Claus, too? Legacy tries to get Kane out and HHH saves. Why? MVP is #14, but Miz blasts him with the US title as a receipt for earlier in the night and puts him out of the match. Good bit of booking there. More dullness in the corners as the ring fills up, and Carlito is #15. Truly this is star-studded. He gets his 5 seconds of offense, including the backstabber on everyone, but gets laid out as Miz is #16. And now MVP comes into the match and puts both Miz and himself out at 22:36. Matt Hardy is #17, so expect him to run away if anything gets too dangerous. And indeed the gas station incident must have been on the mind of Vince, because Kane dumps him at 24:03 before his music can even finish, but HHH puts Kane out at 24:10 as well. HHH lays out the field, but Shawn Michaels is #18. Carlito is done at 25:19. Cody is out at 25:28. Dibiase at 25:30. Morrison at 25:59. Can anyone stop the path of Jesus? Drew is alone with DX, and you can guess how that goes. Drew is done at 26:30. DX looks ready to throw down, but John Cena is #19. He takes on both DX members and neither one can see him. HHH saves Shawn from elimination and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE…but Shawn superkicks him out at 28:19! FUCK YEAH! Shelton Benjamin is #20 and he goes wild on Shawn and Cena, hitting the Paydirt on both of them, but Cena dumps him at 29:18. Yoshi Tatsu is #21. I don’t know who he is. And yeah, Cena dumps him at 30:28, giving us Cena v. Shawn again. I dunno, I’m definitely cheering for Shawn to win his first one in 16 years, but the story is better if he loses and has to fight for it next month. Big Show is #22 and he wants to put Shawn out, but Shawn does the Benoit choke to stop him. Cena dumps Shawn, but he skins the cat and Show yanks him back in. They’ve got the crowd by the short hairs here with the Shawn teases, as everyone wants him to win and they know it. Mark Henry is #23 and he slugs it out with Big Show. Cena and Henry combine forces and Henry slams Show, and Chris Masters is #24. STAR STUDDED! He goes after Show and gets dumped at 34:53. Henry and Show lay on the ropes and Shawn tries to help, but he’s got nothing. Truth is #25, and HE puts both of Show and Henry out at 35:41! Wow. He cleans house on Shawn and Cena and Jack Swagger is #26. Pump splashes for everyone and he clotheslines Shawn out…but Shawn hangs on again. Kofi Kingston is #27, and he might have an outside chance. Plus he’s got the best spot. He puts Swagger out at 39:01. He pounds on Truth in the corner and nearly gets dumped as a result, but hangs on and takes Truth out at 39:46. Chris Jericho is #28 and he goes after Cena, but walks into the FU. Shawn goes up with the flying elbow (which is actually a place where “Vintage Michaels” would apply), but Kofi cuts off the superkick. Cena dumps Kofi at 41:26, but Jericho hits the Codebreaker on Cena. Edge returns at #29 with his beard back again, and he spears everyone to a giant face pop. Jericho is gone at 42:23. Striker says to call your friends, but really it’s late to order the show now. And finally, Batista is #30. Final Four: Batista, Edge, Shawn and Cena. They all trade finishers and everyone is out. Edge and Shawn fight on the apron…and Batista knocks Shawn off at 46:03. The crowd is crushed by that one. So is Shawn, because he superkicks Charles Robinson! Great bump from the ref. So back to the match, as Cena dodges Batista to put him out at 48:48, leaving us Edge v. Cena. Cena dodges the spear, but Edge tosses Cena at 49:24 to win the Royal Rumble! I figured him for returning, but not winning the thing. And this may have been the best Rumble I’ve ever seen, with several great storylines going, no logjam periods, a great pace, and a big surprise entrant and winner. ***** The Pulse: The Rumble is a hard match to screw up, and in fact this time they got it exactly right. Big thumbs up!

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2010

(In the interest of speeding things up, I’ll just repost the 2010 show as-is because there’s not much to say anyway other than I overrated the Rumble match and probably the Mysterio-UT match as well, but it was a fun show regardless.  And no, I don’t have time to do the 2011 rant, sorry.  Maybe some other time.)  The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2010 – Live from Atlanta, GA. – Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker.ECW World title: Christian v. Ezekiel Jackson Apparently Jackson won a battle royale to earn a title shot. How original. Really, isn’t it time to put a bullet in this belt and be done with it? Jackson overpowers Christian to start, but he gets dumped and Christian hits him with a springboard dive. Back in, Jackson pounds away as Striker notes that the match screeches to a halt when he’s on offense. I think he was trying to be positive about it, but I dunno. Christian escapes from a press slam and chokes away on the ropes, but goes up and gets yanked down rudely. William Regal tries to get involved and gets sent back to the dressing room, thus robbing us of much of the potential entertainment value here. Zeke throws Christian into the stairs, and back in for two. And we go to the neck vice, which Jackson turns into a chokeslam for two. Delayed suplex gets two. Jackson pounds on the back and blocks a sunset flip with a tree slam for two. And we’re back to the chinlock, but Christian fights out, only to get slugged down for two. Jackson’s Klingon howl of outrage at every two count is a bit annoying. To the top, as Christian fights off a superplex attempt and hits a flying elbow instead. Jackson no-sells it, but misses a blind charge and walks into a missile dropkick. That gets two for Christian. Killswitch is blocked, so Christian goes up again, only to miss a flying splash. Jackson hits a lariat for two off that. Christian escapes a uranage, but Jackson gets a backbreaker for two. Jackson misses another charge and Christian gets the tornado DDT for two. Jackson with another lariat for two. Jackson escapes the Killswitch and runs Christian into the corner with an Oklahoma Stampede, but Killswitch finishes him for good at 12:00. Jackson is fucking awful, so they’ll probably bump him to RAW and make him World champion by September. Watchable big v. little match thanks to Christian, albeit about 4 minutes too long. **1/2 Meanwhile, Cryme Tyme bargains with Teddy Long for an extra spot in the Rumble, because only one of them is entered for some reason. They try to talk Great Khali into giving up his spot, but he apparently says “No dice, homeslice.” The Miz thinks the whole thing is pretty stupid (I’m with Miz) so Teddy punishes him by forcing him to defend against MVP. Meanwhile, Cody Rhodes just wants Randy Orton to know that he’s got his back. Haven’t they broken up YET? US title: The Miz v. MVP MVP wins a slugfest and puts Miz down with a clothesline for two. Floatover suplex gets two. Backdrop out of the corner and a backdrop suplex gets two, as Striker relates a story about how Miz REFUSED TO SHAKE HANDS with Ricky Steamboat and Terry Funk. Oh shit, that’s like first degree murder in wrestling terms. If he ever forgets to wear a suit at the airport he might as well pack his bags and go to TNA. Miz dumps MVP off the apron and into the table, and back in he works on the back and gets a corner clothesline. Double axehandle off the top gets two. Miz hits the chinlock as Striker notes that, to him as a child, Wrestlemania meant not having to wear a jacket outside anymore. Obviously he didn’t come from the Canadian Prairies. MVP comes back with a faceplant and facecrusher, which sets up the Ballin Elbow. I’m impressed he got that over. Yakuza kick gets two. Miz fights back with a necksnap on the top rope, but MVP gets a Pounce for two. Whatever happened to Monty Brown, anyway? Running kick misses, but MVP manages a rollup for two. Backslide gets two. Jackknife rollup gets two. Miz bails to escape and gets tossed right back in, but he catches MVP with a small package on the way in at 7:30 to retain. Sneaky! The crowd respected that so much that when MVP lays him out afterwards, the crowd BOOS THE SHIT OUT OF HIM. I agree with the crowd, Miz won that one fair and square and MVP is a sore loser. Basic RAW match. **1/4 Meanwhile, Big Show and Jericho have an awkward moment backstage. RAW World title: Sheamus v. Randy Orton Orton gets a monster babyface pop for his entrance, because he’s the star and Sheamus is not. To fix that you’d put Sheamus over and make him the star, but I sense that’s not how they’ll play it. Orton wins a lockup and puts Sheamus down with a dropkick, but slithers away. He’s obviously been studying his Jake Roberts tapes again. They slug it out on the ropes and Sheamus puts him down, so Orton bails to regroup. Orton’s arm is apparently hurt, so Sheamus goes to work on it. Orton responds with a chop block and starts on the knee to take over. Sheamus goes back to the arm as the crowd totally dies with no one playing babyface. If they have the balls to try Sheamus v. HHH at Wrestlemania as rumored, it’s gonna be DEATH. Epic death. And now Orton works the knee again as this thing has screeched to a halt like a teenaged boy getting cut off at second base. They slug it out with Orton getting the babyface reaction, but Sheamus gets a backbreaker for two. Sheamus tries the unnamed Razor’s Edge, but Orton escapes and dumps Sheamus, for another out-of-proportion babyface pop. He drags Sheamus back in with the DDT for two. Orton sets up for the punt, but Sheamus rolls out to escape, then sends Orton into the post. This allows Cody Rhodes to run in and lay out Sheamus for the DQ at 12:25. Orton gets the RKO in the meantime, so he’s probably upset at Rhodes. Hopefully he’ll do something about it sometime this year. This was a total bore, with Orton showing none of his usual charisma and Sheamus showing nothing, period. *1/2 And FINALLY, Orton turns on Legacy and beats them both down after months of teases. And then Sheamus puts Orton out with a big boot. So is this Orton’s face turn, I’m assuming? Women’s title: Michelle McCool v. Mickie James Michelle cuts a lengthy promo about how Mickie forfeits, before she even gets a chance to make her entrance, and the announcers act all surprised when James shows up after all. James hits the DDT right away and wins the title at 0:20. DUD So there we go, the heels get what they deserve, including their own cake thrown on them. I think that will dissipate the heat over the “Piggy James” crap. Smackdown World title: Undertaker v. Rey Mysterio They’ve got some time to play with here. You know, looking at the number of kids at ringside wearing Mysterio masks and the coin that Rey now brings in from merchandise makes it all the more astonishing that someone in WCW thought it would be a tremendous idea to unmask the luchadores. You can sell Rey Mysterio masks until the Earth falls into the Sun. It’s like a license to print money. Rey slugs away in the corner, but gets tossed to the floor WITH AUTHORITY. Now there’s one time where the cliché is apt. Rey fights up to the apron and gets soup-boned back to the floor again. Clearly we’re going full monty Sting v. Vader formula here. Rey dodges the guillotine legdrop and Undertaker gets all cranky and pulls him back into place for another one. Back in, Rey reverses the chokeslam into a 619 attempt, but Taker catches him and nearly gets a tombstone. Awesome. Rey kicks out of it, barely, and boots Taker down, but tries a springboard crossbody and hits UT’s boot. Taker beats on him outside, but misses a baseball slide and hits the post. Rey tries to follow with a senton, but Taker catches him with a Last Ride. Rey hops onto the apron to escape and hits Taker with a moonsault to the floor, however. Rey tries a baseball slide and misses, and UT just destroys him with a shot to the railing. Back in, that gets two. Back in, UT’s REALLY pissed now, what with bleeding from the mouth and nose and all, so he beats Rey down in the corner and hits a sideslam for two. Hey, our first blood of 2010! Rey fights back and gets beaten down again for his troubles, but manages to put Taker down with an inverted DDT and Drops the Dime for two. Rey slugs away again and gets clotheslined, and Taker has had ENOUGH of this shit. Last Ride, but Rey escapes and dropkicks Taker into the 619. He’s still standing, so Rey does it again and goes for the West Coast Pop to finish, but it’s Last Ride and good night at 11:08. This? Was AWESOME. I’m a hardcore sucker for guys going out and beating the hell out of each other because they want the belt so much. And yeah, this was Sting v. Vader to the letter, with the plucky babyface throwing everything he has at the monster heel, but just not being good enough that night. LOVED IT. **** Meanwhile, Kane lectures Shawn Michaels about being obsessed with Undertaker. Well, he’d know. HHH and Shawn settle their differences about who should win…but Shawn REALLY feels he’s going to get that shot at Undertaker. They have to do HHH v. Shawn at the end now. Royal Rumble: Dolph Ziggler is #1 and Evan Bourne is #2. It’s truly the most star-studded Rumble ever! Bourne snaps off a rana and a leg lariat, but Ziggler pounds away in the corner and nearly dropkicks Bourne out. Bourne comes back with another rana that almost puts Ziggler out, but he hangs on. Dolph with the Zig Zag and he still can’t get Bourne out, and Evan gets the shooting star press as CM Punk is #3, looking more like Billy Jack Haynes every day. Well, in body hair, not in steroid use or paranoid batshit craziness, obviously. He tosses both guys at 2:29 and now it’s PROMO TIME. “Excuse me, it’s clobbering time”. JTG is #4 as this clock is already all over the place. JTG pounds away in the corner and gets dumped like a MORON at 4:04. And he CUTS ANOTHER PROMO. Epic. Great Khali is #5 and Punk can save him, by making him Greater, apparently. Khali chops him down in response and gives him the head vice. Beth Phoenix is #6. Sure, why not. Khali rather politely puts her on the ring apron, but Beth kisses him and pulls him out at 7:08. As comedy spots go, that’s pretty awesome. Beth goes after Punk as well and does pretty good, but she Goes To Sleep at 8:00 as Zack Ryder is #7. Punk barely even gets to cut a promo before laying out Ryder and tossing him at 8:43. HHH is #8 and I’m thinking his promo time is done. HHH slugs Punk down and gets the facecrusher, but Punk comes back with the knee in the corner. HHH hits the spinebuster as we’re already at Drew McIntyre at #9. Seriously, how hard is it to time 90 seconds? HHH lays out Drew and trades finisher attempts with Punk, then tosses him at 12:12. BOOO! I want more Punk! Drew pounds away on HHH in the corner and it’s Ted Dibiase at #10. He’ll likely get a long run. He powerslams HHH and the heels double-team HHH in the corner. John Morrison is #11 and he saves HHH, then attacks McIntyre. Dibiase lays him out before he can get Starship Pain, but really top rope moves are a bad idea anyway. But no, he fights Dibiase off and hits it anyway. Kane is #12 and he immediately cleans house, but doesn’t eliminate anyone yet. Cody Rhodes is #13 and saves Dibiase from Kane, and Legacy goes to work on him. Striker wonders what will happen if one of the “young guns” wins the Rumble. Does he still believe in Santa Claus, too? Legacy tries to get Kane out and HHH saves. Why? MVP is #14, but Miz blasts him with the US title as a receipt for earlier in the night and puts him out of the match. Good bit of booking there. More dullness in the corners as the ring fills up, and Carlito is #15. Truly this is star-studded. He gets his 5 seconds of offense, including the backstabber on everyone, but gets laid out as Miz is #16. And now MVP comes into the match and puts both Miz and himself out at 22:36. Matt Hardy is #17, so expect him to run away if anything gets too dangerous. And indeed the gas station incident must have been on the mind of Vince, because Kane dumps him at 24:03 before his music can even finish, but HHH puts Kane out at 24:10 as well. HHH lays out the field, but Shawn Michaels is #18. Carlito is done at 25:19. Cody is out at 25:28. Dibiase at 25:30. Morrison at 25:59. Can anyone stop the path of Jesus? Drew is alone with DX, and you can guess how that goes. Drew is done at 26:30. DX looks ready to throw down, but John Cena is #19. He takes on both DX members and neither one can see him. HHH saves Shawn from elimination and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE…but Shawn superkicks him out at 28:19! FUCK YEAH! Shelton Benjamin is #20 and he goes wild on Shawn and Cena, hitting the Paydirt on both of them, but Cena dumps him at 29:18. Yoshi Tatsu is #21. I don’t know who he is. And yeah, Cena dumps him at 30:28, giving us Cena v. Shawn again. I dunno, I’m definitely cheering for Shawn to win his first one in 16 years, but the story is better if he loses and has to fight for it next month. Big Show is #22 and he wants to put Shawn out, but Shawn does the Benoit choke to stop him. Cena dumps Shawn, but he skins the cat and Show yanks him back in. They’ve got the crowd by the short hairs here with the Shawn teases, as everyone wants him to win and they know it. Mark Henry is #23 and he slugs it out with Big Show. Cena and Henry combine forces and Henry slams Show, and Chris Masters is #24. STAR STUDDED! He goes after Show and gets dumped at 34:53. Henry and Show lay on the ropes and Shawn tries to help, but he’s got nothing. Truth is #25, and HE puts both of Show and Henry out at 35:41! Wow. He cleans house on Shawn and Cena and Jack Swagger is #26. Pump splashes for everyone and he clotheslines Shawn out…but Shawn hangs on again. Kofi Kingston is #27, and he might have an outside chance. Plus he’s got the best spot. He puts Swagger out at 39:01. He pounds on Truth in the corner and nearly gets dumped as a result, but hangs on and takes Truth out at 39:46. Chris Jericho is #28 and he goes after Cena, but walks into the FU. Shawn goes up with the flying elbow (which is actually a place where “Vintage Michaels” would apply), but Kofi cuts off the superkick. Cena dumps Kofi at 41:26, but Jericho hits the Codebreaker on Cena. Edge returns at #29 with his beard back again, and he spears everyone to a giant face pop. Jericho is gone at 42:23. Striker says to call your friends, but really it’s late to order the show now. And finally, Batista is #30. Final Four: Batista, Edge, Shawn and Cena. They all trade finishers and everyone is out. Edge and Shawn fight on the apron…and Batista knocks Shawn off at 46:03. The crowd is crushed by that one. So is Shawn, because he superkicks Charles Robinson! Great bump from the ref. So back to the match, as Cena dodges Batista to put him out at 48:48, leaving us Edge v. Cena. Cena dodges the spear, but Edge tosses Cena at 49:24 to win the Royal Rumble! I figured him for returning, but not winning the thing. And this may have been the best Rumble I’ve ever seen, with several great storylines going, no logjam periods, a great pace, and a big surprise entrant and winner. ***** The Pulse: The Rumble is a hard match to screw up, and in fact this time they got it exactly right. Big thumbs up!

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2010

(In the interest of speeding things up, I’ll just repost the 2010 show as-is because there’s not much to say anyway other than I overrated the Rumble match and probably the Mysterio-UT match as well, but it was a fun show regardless.  And no, I don’t have time to do the 2011 rant, sorry.  Maybe some other time.)  The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2010 – Live from Atlanta, GA. – Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker.ECW World title: Christian v. Ezekiel Jackson Apparently Jackson won a battle royale to earn a title shot. How original. Really, isn’t it time to put a bullet in this belt and be done with it? Jackson overpowers Christian to start, but he gets dumped and Christian hits him with a springboard dive. Back in, Jackson pounds away as Striker notes that the match screeches to a halt when he’s on offense. I think he was trying to be positive about it, but I dunno. Christian escapes from a press slam and chokes away on the ropes, but goes up and gets yanked down rudely. William Regal tries to get involved and gets sent back to the dressing room, thus robbing us of much of the potential entertainment value here. Zeke throws Christian into the stairs, and back in for two. And we go to the neck vice, which Jackson turns into a chokeslam for two. Delayed suplex gets two. Jackson pounds on the back and blocks a sunset flip with a tree slam for two. And we’re back to the chinlock, but Christian fights out, only to get slugged down for two. Jackson’s Klingon howl of outrage at every two count is a bit annoying. To the top, as Christian fights off a superplex attempt and hits a flying elbow instead. Jackson no-sells it, but misses a blind charge and walks into a missile dropkick. That gets two for Christian. Killswitch is blocked, so Christian goes up again, only to miss a flying splash. Jackson hits a lariat for two off that. Christian escapes a uranage, but Jackson gets a backbreaker for two. Jackson misses another charge and Christian gets the tornado DDT for two. Jackson with another lariat for two. Jackson escapes the Killswitch and runs Christian into the corner with an Oklahoma Stampede, but Killswitch finishes him for good at 12:00. Jackson is fucking awful, so they’ll probably bump him to RAW and make him World champion by September. Watchable big v. little match thanks to Christian, albeit about 4 minutes too long. **1/2 Meanwhile, Cryme Tyme bargains with Teddy Long for an extra spot in the Rumble, because only one of them is entered for some reason. They try to talk Great Khali into giving up his spot, but he apparently says “No dice, homeslice.” The Miz thinks the whole thing is pretty stupid (I’m with Miz) so Teddy punishes him by forcing him to defend against MVP. Meanwhile, Cody Rhodes just wants Randy Orton to know that he’s got his back. Haven’t they broken up YET? US title: The Miz v. MVP MVP wins a slugfest and puts Miz down with a clothesline for two. Floatover suplex gets two. Backdrop out of the corner and a backdrop suplex gets two, as Striker relates a story about how Miz REFUSED TO SHAKE HANDS with Ricky Steamboat and Terry Funk. Oh shit, that’s like first degree murder in wrestling terms. If he ever forgets to wear a suit at the airport he might as well pack his bags and go to TNA. Miz dumps MVP off the apron and into the table, and back in he works on the back and gets a corner clothesline. Double axehandle off the top gets two. Miz hits the chinlock as Striker notes that, to him as a child, Wrestlemania meant not having to wear a jacket outside anymore. Obviously he didn’t come from the Canadian Prairies. MVP comes back with a faceplant and facecrusher, which sets up the Ballin Elbow. I’m impressed he got that over. Yakuza kick gets two. Miz fights back with a necksnap on the top rope, but MVP gets a Pounce for two. Whatever happened to Monty Brown, anyway? Running kick misses, but MVP manages a rollup for two. Backslide gets two. Jackknife rollup gets two. Miz bails to escape and gets tossed right back in, but he catches MVP with a small package on the way in at 7:30 to retain. Sneaky! The crowd respected that so much that when MVP lays him out afterwards, the crowd BOOS THE SHIT OUT OF HIM. I agree with the crowd, Miz won that one fair and square and MVP is a sore loser. Basic RAW match. **1/4 Meanwhile, Big Show and Jericho have an awkward moment backstage. RAW World title: Sheamus v. Randy Orton Orton gets a monster babyface pop for his entrance, because he’s the star and Sheamus is not. To fix that you’d put Sheamus over and make him the star, but I sense that’s not how they’ll play it. Orton wins a lockup and puts Sheamus down with a dropkick, but slithers away. He’s obviously been studying his Jake Roberts tapes again. They slug it out on the ropes and Sheamus puts him down, so Orton bails to regroup. Orton’s arm is apparently hurt, so Sheamus goes to work on it. Orton responds with a chop block and starts on the knee to take over. Sheamus goes back to the arm as the crowd totally dies with no one playing babyface. If they have the balls to try Sheamus v. HHH at Wrestlemania as rumored, it’s gonna be DEATH. Epic death. And now Orton works the knee again as this thing has screeched to a halt like a teenaged boy getting cut off at second base. They slug it out with Orton getting the babyface reaction, but Sheamus gets a backbreaker for two. Sheamus tries the unnamed Razor’s Edge, but Orton escapes and dumps Sheamus, for another out-of-proportion babyface pop. He drags Sheamus back in with the DDT for two. Orton sets up for the punt, but Sheamus rolls out to escape, then sends Orton into the post. This allows Cody Rhodes to run in and lay out Sheamus for the DQ at 12:25. Orton gets the RKO in the meantime, so he’s probably upset at Rhodes. Hopefully he’ll do something about it sometime this year. This was a total bore, with Orton showing none of his usual charisma and Sheamus showing nothing, period. *1/2 And FINALLY, Orton turns on Legacy and beats them both down after months of teases. And then Sheamus puts Orton out with a big boot. So is this Orton’s face turn, I’m assuming? Women’s title: Michelle McCool v. Mickie James Michelle cuts a lengthy promo about how Mickie forfeits, before she even gets a chance to make her entrance, and the announcers act all surprised when James shows up after all. James hits the DDT right away and wins the title at 0:20. DUD So there we go, the heels get what they deserve, including their own cake thrown on them. I think that will dissipate the heat over the “Piggy James” crap. Smackdown World title: Undertaker v. Rey Mysterio They’ve got some time to play with here. You know, looking at the number of kids at ringside wearing Mysterio masks and the coin that Rey now brings in from merchandise makes it all the more astonishing that someone in WCW thought it would be a tremendous idea to unmask the luchadores. You can sell Rey Mysterio masks until the Earth falls into the Sun. It’s like a license to print money. Rey slugs away in the corner, but gets tossed to the floor WITH AUTHORITY. Now there’s one time where the cliché is apt. Rey fights up to the apron and gets soup-boned back to the floor again. Clearly we’re going full monty Sting v. Vader formula here. Rey dodges the guillotine legdrop and Undertaker gets all cranky and pulls him back into place for another one. Back in, Rey reverses the chokeslam into a 619 attempt, but Taker catches him and nearly gets a tombstone. Awesome. Rey kicks out of it, barely, and boots Taker down, but tries a springboard crossbody and hits UT’s boot. Taker beats on him outside, but misses a baseball slide and hits the post. Rey tries to follow with a senton, but Taker catches him with a Last Ride. Rey hops onto the apron to escape and hits Taker with a moonsault to the floor, however. Rey tries a baseball slide and misses, and UT just destroys him with a shot to the railing. Back in, that gets two. Back in, UT’s REALLY pissed now, what with bleeding from the mouth and nose and all, so he beats Rey down in the corner and hits a sideslam for two. Hey, our first blood of 2010! Rey fights back and gets beaten down again for his troubles, but manages to put Taker down with an inverted DDT and Drops the Dime for two. Rey slugs away again and gets clotheslined, and Taker has had ENOUGH of this shit. Last Ride, but Rey escapes and dropkicks Taker into the 619. He’s still standing, so Rey does it again and goes for the West Coast Pop to finish, but it’s Last Ride and good night at 11:08. This? Was AWESOME. I’m a hardcore sucker for guys going out and beating the hell out of each other because they want the belt so much. And yeah, this was Sting v. Vader to the letter, with the plucky babyface throwing everything he has at the monster heel, but just not being good enough that night. LOVED IT. **** Meanwhile, Kane lectures Shawn Michaels about being obsessed with Undertaker. Well, he’d know. HHH and Shawn settle their differences about who should win…but Shawn REALLY feels he’s going to get that shot at Undertaker. They have to do HHH v. Shawn at the end now. Royal Rumble: Dolph Ziggler is #1 and Evan Bourne is #2. It’s truly the most star-studded Rumble ever! Bourne snaps off a rana and a leg lariat, but Ziggler pounds away in the corner and nearly dropkicks Bourne out. Bourne comes back with another rana that almost puts Ziggler out, but he hangs on. Dolph with the Zig Zag and he still can’t get Bourne out, and Evan gets the shooting star press as CM Punk is #3, looking more like Billy Jack Haynes every day. Well, in body hair, not in steroid use or paranoid batshit craziness, obviously. He tosses both guys at 2:29 and now it’s PROMO TIME. “Excuse me, it’s clobbering time”. JTG is #4 as this clock is already all over the place. JTG pounds away in the corner and gets dumped like a MORON at 4:04. And he CUTS ANOTHER PROMO. Epic. Great Khali is #5 and Punk can save him, by making him Greater, apparently. Khali chops him down in response and gives him the head vice. Beth Phoenix is #6. Sure, why not. Khali rather politely puts her on the ring apron, but Beth kisses him and pulls him out at 7:08. As comedy spots go, that’s pretty awesome. Beth goes after Punk as well and does pretty good, but she Goes To Sleep at 8:00 as Zack Ryder is #7. Punk barely even gets to cut a promo before laying out Ryder and tossing him at 8:43. HHH is #8 and I’m thinking his promo time is done. HHH slugs Punk down and gets the facecrusher, but Punk comes back with the knee in the corner. HHH hits the spinebuster as we’re already at Drew McIntyre at #9. Seriously, how hard is it to time 90 seconds? HHH lays out Drew and trades finisher attempts with Punk, then tosses him at 12:12. BOOO! I want more Punk! Drew pounds away on HHH in the corner and it’s Ted Dibiase at #10. He’ll likely get a long run. He powerslams HHH and the heels double-team HHH in the corner. John Morrison is #11 and he saves HHH, then attacks McIntyre. Dibiase lays him out before he can get Starship Pain, but really top rope moves are a bad idea anyway. But no, he fights Dibiase off and hits it anyway. Kane is #12 and he immediately cleans house, but doesn’t eliminate anyone yet. Cody Rhodes is #13 and saves Dibiase from Kane, and Legacy goes to work on him. Striker wonders what will happen if one of the “young guns” wins the Rumble. Does he still believe in Santa Claus, too? Legacy tries to get Kane out and HHH saves. Why? MVP is #14, but Miz blasts him with the US title as a receipt for earlier in the night and puts him out of the match. Good bit of booking there. More dullness in the corners as the ring fills up, and Carlito is #15. Truly this is star-studded. He gets his 5 seconds of offense, including the backstabber on everyone, but gets laid out as Miz is #16. And now MVP comes into the match and puts both Miz and himself out at 22:36. Matt Hardy is #17, so expect him to run away if anything gets too dangerous. And indeed the gas station incident must have been on the mind of Vince, because Kane dumps him at 24:03 before his music can even finish, but HHH puts Kane out at 24:10 as well. HHH lays out the field, but Shawn Michaels is #18. Carlito is done at 25:19. Cody is out at 25:28. Dibiase at 25:30. Morrison at 25:59. Can anyone stop the path of Jesus? Drew is alone with DX, and you can guess how that goes. Drew is done at 26:30. DX looks ready to throw down, but John Cena is #19. He takes on both DX members and neither one can see him. HHH saves Shawn from elimination and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE…but Shawn superkicks him out at 28:19! FUCK YEAH! Shelton Benjamin is #20 and he goes wild on Shawn and Cena, hitting the Paydirt on both of them, but Cena dumps him at 29:18. Yoshi Tatsu is #21. I don’t know who he is. And yeah, Cena dumps him at 30:28, giving us Cena v. Shawn again. I dunno, I’m definitely cheering for Shawn to win his first one in 16 years, but the story is better if he loses and has to fight for it next month. Big Show is #22 and he wants to put Shawn out, but Shawn does the Benoit choke to stop him. Cena dumps Shawn, but he skins the cat and Show yanks him back in. They’ve got the crowd by the short hairs here with the Shawn teases, as everyone wants him to win and they know it. Mark Henry is #23 and he slugs it out with Big Show. Cena and Henry combine forces and Henry slams Show, and Chris Masters is #24. STAR STUDDED! He goes after Show and gets dumped at 34:53. Henry and Show lay on the ropes and Shawn tries to help, but he’s got nothing. Truth is #25, and HE puts both of Show and Henry out at 35:41! Wow. He cleans house on Shawn and Cena and Jack Swagger is #26. Pump splashes for everyone and he clotheslines Shawn out…but Shawn hangs on again. Kofi Kingston is #27, and he might have an outside chance. Plus he’s got the best spot. He puts Swagger out at 39:01. He pounds on Truth in the corner and nearly gets dumped as a result, but hangs on and takes Truth out at 39:46. Chris Jericho is #28 and he goes after Cena, but walks into the FU. Shawn goes up with the flying elbow (which is actually a place where “Vintage Michaels” would apply), but Kofi cuts off the superkick. Cena dumps Kofi at 41:26, but Jericho hits the Codebreaker on Cena. Edge returns at #29 with his beard back again, and he spears everyone to a giant face pop. Jericho is gone at 42:23. Striker says to call your friends, but really it’s late to order the show now. And finally, Batista is #30. Final Four: Batista, Edge, Shawn and Cena. They all trade finishers and everyone is out. Edge and Shawn fight on the apron…and Batista knocks Shawn off at 46:03. The crowd is crushed by that one. So is Shawn, because he superkicks Charles Robinson! Great bump from the ref. So back to the match, as Cena dodges Batista to put him out at 48:48, leaving us Edge v. Cena. Cena dodges the spear, but Edge tosses Cena at 49:24 to win the Royal Rumble! I figured him for returning, but not winning the thing. And this may have been the best Rumble I’ve ever seen, with several great storylines going, no logjam periods, a great pace, and a big surprise entrant and winner. ***** The Pulse: The Rumble is a hard match to screw up, and in fact this time they got it exactly right. Big thumbs up!

RSPW Awards Plug

Hey Scott, 40 ballots and some tight races later, and the awards live once more! Sadly, no comments from Herb Kunze or Otto “Hack-Man” Heuer, but it’s kinda like the days of old. Sort of. Anyway, hope your readers enjoy.  http://bit.ly/yspftS

Why am I not shocked that it’s the CM Punk awards?  That’s kinda why I didn’t do something myself, since I could have saved everyone the trouble and just did “The CM Punk Award For Excellence In Being CM Punk” 10 or 12 times.  But hey, at least Tanahashi didn’t win Wrestler of the Year here.

RSPW Awards Plug

Hey Scott, 40 ballots and some tight races later, and the awards live once more! Sadly, no comments from Herb Kunze or Otto “Hack-Man” Heuer, but it’s kinda like the days of old. Sort of. Anyway, hope your readers enjoy.  http://bit.ly/yspftS

Why am I not shocked that it’s the CM Punk awards?  That’s kinda why I didn’t do something myself, since I could have saved everyone the trouble and just did “The CM Punk Award For Excellence In Being CM Punk” 10 or 12 times.  But hey, at least Tanahashi didn’t win Wrestler of the Year here.

RSPW Awards Plug

Hey Scott, 40 ballots and some tight races later, and the awards live once more! Sadly, no comments from Herb Kunze or Otto “Hack-Man” Heuer, but it’s kinda like the days of old. Sort of. Anyway, hope your readers enjoy.  http://bit.ly/yspftS

Why am I not shocked that it’s the CM Punk awards?  That’s kinda why I didn’t do something myself, since I could have saved everyone the trouble and just did “The CM Punk Award For Excellence In Being CM Punk” 10 or 12 times.  But hey, at least Tanahashi didn’t win Wrestler of the Year here.

RSPW Awards Plug

Hey Scott, 40 ballots and some tight races later, and the awards live once more! Sadly, no comments from Herb Kunze or Otto “Hack-Man” Heuer, but it’s kinda like the days of old. Sort of. Anyway, hope your readers enjoy.  http://bit.ly/yspftS

Why am I not shocked that it’s the CM Punk awards?  That’s kinda why I didn’t do something myself, since I could have saved everyone the trouble and just did “The CM Punk Award For Excellence In Being CM Punk” 10 or 12 times.  But hey, at least Tanahashi didn’t win Wrestler of the Year here.

RSPW Awards Plug

Hey Scott, 40 ballots and some tight races later, and the awards live once more! Sadly, no comments from Herb Kunze or Otto “Hack-Man” Heuer, but it’s kinda like the days of old. Sort of. Anyway, hope your readers enjoy.  http://bit.ly/yspftS

Why am I not shocked that it’s the CM Punk awards?  That’s kinda why I didn’t do something myself, since I could have saved everyone the trouble and just did “The CM Punk Award For Excellence In Being CM Punk” 10 or 12 times.  But hey, at least Tanahashi didn’t win Wrestler of the Year here.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2009

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.)  The Pulse: 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.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2009

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.)  The Pulse: 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.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2009

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.)  The Pulse: 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.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2009

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.)  The Pulse: 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.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2009

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.)  The Pulse: 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.

Slobberknocking Plug

Hi Scott, Just a quick note. I dare say you’ve been told this before but I’m a big fan of your writing, and have been for quite some time. In fact it’s inspired me to start my own blog (www.theoldschoolslobberknocker.blogspot.com), whilst still very much in its infancy, I’m already liking the idea of channeling my obsession into something creative. I don’t think for one second my ramblings can be as influential or as read as yourself, but i can live the dream right? Anyway, that’s it, just a note of thanks really. Cheers Jake P.S Any advice?

Just write about what you enjoy watching and have fun doing it, not because you want to make a living off it or anything. 

Slobberknocking Plug

Hi Scott, Just a quick note. I dare say you’ve been told this before but I’m a big fan of your writing, and have been for quite some time. In fact it’s inspired me to start my own blog (www.theoldschoolslobberknocker.blogspot.com), whilst still very much in its infancy, I’m already liking the idea of channeling my obsession into something creative. I don’t think for one second my ramblings can be as influential or as read as yourself, but i can live the dream right? Anyway, that’s it, just a note of thanks really. Cheers Jake P.S Any advice?

Just write about what you enjoy watching and have fun doing it, not because you want to make a living off it or anything. 

Slobberknocking Plug

Hi Scott, Just a quick note. I dare say you’ve been told this before but I’m a big fan of your writing, and have been for quite some time. In fact it’s inspired me to start my own blog (www.theoldschoolslobberknocker.blogspot.com), whilst still very much in its infancy, I’m already liking the idea of channeling my obsession into something creative. I don’t think for one second my ramblings can be as influential or as read as yourself, but i can live the dream right? Anyway, that’s it, just a note of thanks really. Cheers Jake P.S Any advice?

Just write about what you enjoy watching and have fun doing it, not because you want to make a living off it or anything.