ECW on Sci-Fi 05/19/2009 #154

Judgement Day 2009: Christian vs. Jack Swagger (ECW Title)

Uh oh, we’re in the European Title Match No-One Asked for slot on the PPV but luckily Christian gets a tremendous pop that is far bigger than the brand he’s representing.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 05/19/2009 #154

ECW on Sci-Fi 05/12/2009 #153

We’re five days away from Judgement Day with Christian defending his title against Jack Swagger and er that’s it so let’s jump in this pool of excitement.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 05/12/2009 #153

ECW on Sci-Fi 05/05/2009 #152

It’s been two weeks since the last post due to that whole “Las Vegas for Double Or Nothing” thing followed by living out my fantasy of being completely fucked up on edibles like Hunter S. Thompson. I’ve retired from them and will only do them again if the Saudis are paying for it.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 05/05/2009 #152

ECW on Sci-Fi 04/28/2009 #151

We’re in MSG and the ring is set up in a weird position so the entranceway is slightly to the right making for an empty hard cam shot. This works nicely as a metaphor for ECW on Sci-Fi right now where they kind of know what they want and only get half of it.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 04/28/2009 #151

ECW on Sci-Fi 04/21/2009 #150

It’s the first ECW on Sci-Fi since the Supplement Draft and the intro has already been updated with the unwanted toys like Hurricane, Ezekiel Jackson and Kozlov. Main event is the Backlash Contract Signing as Christian won the Elimination Chase on Superstars last week.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 04/21/2009 #150

ECW on Sci-Fi 04/14/2009 #149

We start off with terrible news as The Miz was drafted to Raw on Monday, thus splitting up one of the great tag teams of the era and leaving the just-unified tag team division in such a state that super-teams like Jeri-Show, D-X and Jeri-Edge had to step in.

Upon hearing the news, Miz hugged Morrison then immediately left him laying, foreshadowing both men’s WWE careers.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 04/14/2009 #149

ECW on Sci-Fi 04/07/2009 #148

It’s the show after Wrestlemania and Josh Mathews joins Striker on commentary with both of them looking & sounding like they’re ready to discuss men’s rights.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 04/07/2009 #148

ECW on Sci-Fi 03/31/2009 #147

Christian & Finlay vs. Mark Henry & Kane

Finlay qualified for MITB by pinning The Brian Kendrick on Smackdown, which seems a tad unfair given Christian had to win a battle royal to earn his shot.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 03/31/2009 #147

ECW on Sci-Fi 03/17/2009 #145

Teddy Long welcomes Finlay & Horny to the St. Patrick’s Day episode of ECW and they immediately lose Hornswoggle quicker than a failed piss test.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 03/17/2009 #145

ECW on Sci-Fi 03/10/2009 #144

Primo Colon vs. The Miz

Amazingly both men are still on the roster in 2019 with Miz demolishing Primo last week on Smackdown. They show a clip of Morrison & Miz dressing up as Ben Affleck to mock The Colons (Striker: “the punctuation?”).

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 03/10/2009 #144

ECW on Sci-Fi 03/03/2009 #143

Tonight, Swagger teams with Miz & Morrison in the main event to ensure the rest of the card will be like the forty minutes Tarantino could have cut out of his film but insisted on leaving in.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 03/03/2009 #143

ECW on Sci-Fi 02/24/2009 #142

We’re in Nashville (birthplace of Big Kev) and Christian gets his first ECW Title shot tonight against Jack Swagger, which he earned by being Christian.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 02/24/2009 #142

ECW on Sci-Fi 02/03/2009 #139

Last week Hornswoggle stole Swagger’s title so Finlay’s wrestling Jack tonight and possibly getting a title shot out of it if he wins, which doesn’t set a great example to the kids.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 02/03/2009 #139

ECW on Sci-Fi 01/27/2009 #138

This past Sunday at the Royal Rumble, Matt Hardy turned on his brother to fuck the dirtsheets and their ”Christian is returning” mumbo jumbo.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 01/27/2009 #138

ECW on Sci-Fi 01/13/2009 #136

We get the first dramatic video package in a long time for the Jack Swagger vs. Matt Hardy title match as the first big match in a long time on this show.

Read moreECW on Sci-Fi 01/13/2009 #136

October Countdown: WWE Bragging Rights 2009

Hey Scott, Big fan, yadda yadda, just wondering when you’re gonna get off your fat fucking lazy ass and rant the PPV? Kind regards, Dan.

Wouldn’t watching the PPV require me remaining on my fat fucking lazy ass?  There seems to be a gap in logic there.  In the mean time, you get this and like it. The SmarK Rant for WWE Bragging Rights 2009 – Live from Pittsburgh, PA. – Your hosts are Michael & Jerry & Todd – So apparently the winner of the metaphorical bragging rights gets an actual trophy. Really? In 2009?  (And in 2010!  Thankfully they came to their senses and dropped it in 2011.)  The Miz v. John Morrison You’ve gotta feel a little bit bad for Marty Jannetty, having been turned into even more of a punchline than he was before.  (The sad thing is that I have no idea which one I was mocking there.  I assume Miz, but then he’s the guy who went on to main event Wrestlemania and Morrison is doing guest spots on Zack Ryder’s internet show these days.  Although neither guy is exactly Shawn MIchaels.)  Morrison rides him down to start and controls with an armbar for two. Shoulderblock gets two. Miz bails and heads back in for a side headlock. Morrison escapes with a pancake and gets the standing moonsault for two. Miz hammers away and tosses him, but Morrison comes back in with a sunset flip for two. Rollup gets two. They fight over a backslide, but Morrison clotheslines Miz to the floor instead and follows with a baseball slide. Glad we missed that because of the director showing the locker rooms watching the match. (Team Smackdown!  Team RAW!  Team Miz!  Team Morrison! Everyone loves to support a Team according to Stephanie!)  Morrison goes for a flying headscissors and gets dumped to the floor, and back in Miz gets a backdrop suplex for two and takes over. Morrison slugs back, but Miz clotheslines him in the corner and adds a kneelift for two. We hit the chinlock, but Morrison rolls him up for two. Another rollup gets two. They slug it out and Morrison wins with a legsweep and adds a leg lariat for two. Shining Wizard misses and Miz rolls him up for two. Morrison with the Moonlight Drive for two, but Miz bails to escape Starship Pain. Morrison hits him with a plancha instead, and that gets two. Morrison puts him on top, but Miz hits him with a double axehandle. Morrison comes back with a Russian legsweep and goes to finish, but Miz knocks him down and pins him at 10:55. The announcers were all “The winner of this is the conquering hero who hit the home run!” and stuff, but the crowd wasn’t really into it. They really need to better inform the crowds when it’s the most important PPV of the year, because otherwise people just think for themselves. Match was fine, as they have good chemistry. *** Michelle McCool, Natalya & Beth Phoenix v. Melina, Kelly Kelly & Gail Kim Kim starts with Phoenix and gets a rollup out of a slam attempt for two, so McCool tags herself in. That goes nowhere, so Natalya comes in and slams Kim. Gail gets a kneelift off the apron and it’s over to the RAW side, where Kelly gets a Nash choke in the corner, but gets dropped on the top rope for two. The Smackdown team works Kelly over in the corner and Phoenix gets a snapmare for two. Kelly plays face in peril and McCool throws knees, but Beth comes in and gets rolled up for two. Hot tag Melina and she faceplants Phoenix and gets a small package, but McCool turns them over for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Beth finishes Melina with the Glam Slam at 6:51. Totally watchable. **1/2  (Three years later and only Nattie is foolish enough to continue waiting for her turn to be pushed in this company.)  Meanwhile, D-X tries to rally the troops, inadvertently insulting everyone on the team (“And we exposed this guy as a fake Jamaican!”) but still getting the solidarity desired. Smackdown World title: Undertaker v. Batista v. CM Punk v. Rey Mysterio Punk declaring “It’s clobbering time!” on the ramp is pretty awesome. Batista chases Punk to start, and walks right into Undertaker’s punch. Punk hammers on UT in the corner, and that’s an epic fail as Taker tosses him into a Mysterio dive from the apron. Rey dropkicks Taker out of the ring, but walks into a boot. Taker goes to work on Batista with Old School, but Punk prevents a second attempt and fights on the top rope with UT. He manages a superplex and Rey springboards in for two. Batista beats on Punk and adds a powerslam, but Taker puts him down with a big boot. Rey tries diving in with a rana, but Taker counters to the Last Ride, and Batista spears UT out of that. Rey and Batista argue over who gets to cover, but Taker pops up, so Rey gets the 619 on Taker, into Batista’s spinebuster for two. Rey goes up again and gets caught by Punk with GTS for two. Batista goes after Taker and gets caught in the gogoplata, but Punk breaks that up and hits the running knee on Taker. That leads to the Last Ride for two. Taker and Batista slug it out and Batista gets chokeslammed for two. Punk goes after Taker and gets tossed, leaving UT to finish Batista, but Batista counters with the Batista bomb for two. Rey breaks it up and gets two, and there’s your heel turn for Batista. Unfortunately, Batista gets so distracted by the dark side of the Force that a chokeslam from Undertaker gets two. (Uh, sorry, Mr. Mouse, sir, I meant “The alternate side of the public domain religion.”  Please don’t sue me now.  Loved the Avengers!)  They clothesline each other and Punk gets two on both of them. Rey comes back in and Batista tosses him, but Undertaker finishes Batista with the tombstone at 9:56 to retain. Well that was fast-paced, to say the least. I liked all the crazy finishers for the first 8 minutes or so, but it kind of fell apart once Batista turned. Needed to go to the finish as soon as Batista nailed Rey, but it was really entertaining otherwise. ***1/4 Afterwards, Josh interviews Rey & Batista, and Rey is all “Well, we did our best”, and Batista attacks him again to really drive the point home. And people CHEER him. (That’s because he’s fucking awesome.)  Well, that was a pretty awesome heel turn with some good menace from Batista (“I’m not playing. I’m gonna rip your head off.”) so you can hardly blame them. And a really good, high quality heel turn with solid motivation has been lacking for a while now, so good on them.  (Has there even BEEN one since then?  Big Show maybe, although that had the crying and begging for his job thing preceding it.  I feel like Randy Orton is gonna turn again soon, and it’s going to be an EPIC backstabbing on someone because he really seems bored in his current role and I think he’d take to an evil predator role again really well.)  Bragging Rights Trophy final: HHH, Shawn Michaels, Big Show, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, Cody Rhodes & Kofi Kingston v. Chris Jericho, Kane, Matt Hardy, Finlay, R-Truth, DH Smith & Tyson Kidd (Almost as exciting a lineup as this year’s Survivor Series main event.  And a lot of the same people!)  Once again the announcers lie about RAW being the “longest running episodic show in TV history,” which it’s not. The Simpsons and Law & Order have been running longer than RAW, and 60 Minutes has not only run longer but has produced more episodes. (Much like Meltzer, my blood boils every time I hear that stupid made-up honor and I MUST REFUTE IT.  Or else!)  Rhodes and Truth do some brawling to start, but Cody tags out to Show. So we get Show v. Kane instead, and Show puts him down and follows with a legdrop for two. Swagger comes in and gets in Kane’s face, and that proves to be a bad idea. The Smackdown side beats on Swagger in the corner, and Hardy gets a clothesline for two. Swagger charges and hits boot, and Matt follows with the yodeling legdrop for two. To the floor, where Hardy clotheslines him, and we get our first RAW v. Smackdown standoff. Matt gets caught in the RAW corner and Henry tosses him around, then Shawn works on the arm until Matt hits a Side Effect. Over to Finlay, who whips Shawn into the corner for a Flair Flip, but they collide for the double KO. Shawn recovers first with the superkick, but the Hart Dynasty sneaks in with a Hart Attack to keep Shawn in the corner. And it’s Jericho time, as he goes to a chinlock. Cole, while talking about Big Show: “Big Show there, looking at his partner. Well, no partners tonight!” Except for the six partners on his team, I guess. Kane comes in with a seated dropkick for two. Grisham accidentally calls the Hart Dynasty “The Hart Foundation” and MICHAEL COLE makes fun of him for saying something stupid. Buh-zing. (It’s BAZINGA.  But then Big Bang Theory wasn’t quite the cultural phenomenon in 2009 that it is now.  By the way, I’m totally serious. People who don’t live in Canada don’t understand how that show completely dominates every facet of TV up here.  It is literally one of the highest-rated shows in Canadian TV history, and the Comedy Network runs a marathon basically every stat holiday, plus it’s constantly, CONSTANTLY shown in syndication, often in two hour blocks like the Simpsons, on any station that can buy the rights to it up here.  Sheldon shirts are everywhere and worn totally without irony in public, and there’s ads for it all over.  It’s EVERYWHERE.  I mean, I love the show too, but you can basically pick anyone off the street at random and engage them in a conversation about last week’s episode and if they think Raj is gay or not.) Smith comes in with a backdrop suplex on Shawn for two. Kidd slingshots in with an elbow, but misses, and it’s hot tag HHH. He runs wild on the Harts and hits everyone with spinebusters, but Kane chokeslams him. Kidd gets two off that. Jericho with a bulldog, but the Lionsault misses and Kofi comes in. Jericho counters the, uh, Boom Drop into a Liontamer attempt, but Kofi rolls him up for two. (Sadly “Boomdrop” became the totally non-ironic name for that move.) Trouble in Ghana gets two and it’s breaking loose in Tulsa again, as everyone does their wacky finishers. Kofi looks to finish, but Big Show turns on him, revealing that his alliance to the World tag team titles is more important than a meaningless trophy. (NO PARTNERS TONIGHT!  It was FORESHADOWING!) I’m shocked, I don’t know about you. Jericho pins Kofi at 15:31 to give Smackdown the trophy. Sadly, no one smashes it. Too short to give everyone any kind of time in the match, but it was another good fast-paced match for the night. ***1/2 RAW World title, Iron Man match: Randy Orton v. John Cena Cena with the headlock to start, and Orton also goes that route. Cena fights out and Orton sends him into the corner and Cena tries a bulldog, but Orton counters that and stomps the back. Cena takes him down with an STF out of nowhere, however, and Orton taps out at 3:55. Cena is 1-0. Smart booking there, as Orton tapped immediately rather than let himself get injured.  (If only Jon Jones would have learned that lesson.)  30 second rest period follows, and Orton charges in with a powerslam, then chokes away on the ropes. Suplex gets two. Orton goes to the CHINLOCK OF DOOM, but Cena escapes with the Throwback and goes up for the legdrop. Five knuckle shuffle is countered with the RKO, and we’re tied 1-1 at 9:00. Cena bails to the apron and Orton sends him into the railing, then clears the announce table and nails Cena with the monitor. That gets two. You know, it’s 2009, they should really have switched to LCD monitors by now.  (Or iPad or something.  Like really, what IS up with that?  Even TNA, who does free tapings and whores out their TV time to Direct Auto while losing millions has nicer equipment for the announce team.)  Orton brings the microphone into the ring and puts Cena down for two. And Cena is BLEEDING. Holy shit, that’s only the second time this year someone has done that. (They came down HARD on the blood edict at this point, making sure that any stragglers who still wanted to gig themselves for their art were snuffed out like the proverbial candle in the wind.)  They want to check the cut, but Cena is too angry and tosses Orton, before getting sent into the stairs himself. Orton gets two off that. Orton stomps Cena’s head on the stairs and gets two. Back in, Orton slugs away while the announcers talk about how the doctors might have to stop the match because of Cena’s cut. C’mon, Jerry Lawler would bleed more than that during his PROMOS, why would he ever say something like that? This TV-PG shit is fucking stupid. (Get used to it.  Although in the age of Hep-C and other disgusting blood-borne illnesses, in a lot of ways I’m glad they’re being safer about it.  Maybe we can go back to my personal favorite:  Biting down on a condom full of fake blood to simulate internal injuries!) Cena comes back with the Shuffle and FU, but Orton counters to an RKO in mid-air and both are down and out. So the ref counts them both out at 17:00 to make it 2-2. Well that’s kind of a pointless fall, although it does save Orton from going down 2-1, so I guess it makes sense in that regard. I retract my criticism.  (Not often I do that.  Usually I’ll fight to the death to defend whatever stupid stance I’ve taken that day.)  They fight to the top rope and Cena gets the FU off the top, for the pin to go up 3-2 at 19:38. And Legacy runs in for the beatdown, because why not? It’s no DQ anyway. After the 30 second rest period, Orton pins Cena at 20:55 to make it 3-3. Kofi Kingston chases Legacy away to explain their departure. They brawl to the stage and Orton rams Cena into the pyro table, which sets off an explosion on the ramp. That seems to inspire him, so he throws Cena into the lighting grid for more silly special effects, and that makes it 4-3 Orton at 25:33. Orton continues to play with the pyro board, which has GOT to be setting something up, and indeed he puts Cena down with a chair and drags him over the pyro and then threatens to BLOW HIM UP REAL GOOD. Sadly, it doesn’t work, because it would have been the most over-the-top retardedly awesome finish in wrestling history. So with that devious plan foiled, they fight back to ringside as Jerry Lawler has to say with a serious inflection “Guys, Randy Orton’s intentions were to blow up John Cena.” I can’t even type that without cracking up. (I wish Ryback had been involved, because then I could have said “He was already blown up!” but Cena is pretty awesome, cardio-wise.)  Was he going to ask for ONE…BILLION…DOLLARS first? Was his next step the sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their heads? They’ve crossed the line from wrestling into Austin Powers, folks. (Vince Russo was WAY ahead of them…) Anyway, Orton hits Cena with the stairs for two, then a chair for two. Back in, Cena gets the cradle out of nowhere for the pin at 33:00 to make it 4-4. Orton tries to beat up Cena during the rest period, and the ref is like “You’ve gotta give him 30 seconds!” Are you kidding? You’re gonna tell that to the guy who tried to murder someone with a PYRO BOARD?  (In all fairness, it was only ATTEMPTED murder.  I mean, to quote Sideshow Bob, they don’t give out Nobel Prizes for attempted chemistry.) So Orton gives him the 30 seconds, then drags him to the apron and DDTs him to the floor to make it 5-4 at 35:15. After the rest period, he covers again and gets two. Back into the ring for the Garvin Stomp, which gets two. Orton slugs him down for two. Very slowly. Cena suddenly makes the comeback, rapidly shifting as usual between playing a corpse and moving planets as Superman, and Orton bails to think the situation over. (In all fairness, Superman hasn’t been able to move planets since before the John Byrne revamp in 1987, and certainly not after the New 52.  Although maybe he was super-duper-overpowered again around 2009, but I wasn’t reading very much in the way of comics at that point so I’m not sure.)  Lawler thinks that 19:00 is too long for Orton to stall, but that never stopped Larry Zbyszko before. They slug it out on the ramp and then Orton runs all the way back to the ring again to waste more time. So back into the ring, Orton attacks and pounds away on the mat, then tries his DDT, but Cena reverses out and Orton bails again. Into the crowd this time for the time-wasting brawl, as Cena sends Orton down the stairs and back to ringside again for two. Into the stairs for two. Nice visual as he tosses Orton through the timekeeper’s barricade, then hits him with the STEEL steps. Then he stops to prep the table, and sets up the stairs next to it. That seems like an oddly specific plan for revenge. As it turns out, he carries Orton up the stairs on his back and puts him through the table with the FU. That ties it up at 5-5 at 51:00. Cena brings another table into the ring and puts Orton’s lifeless body on it, but then goes up and tries a flying splash. That backfires on him, of course, and they slug it out from their knees as the crowd boos Cena’s comeback. The ref is bumped and Orton gets the RKO, but it only gets two, even with Charles Robinson sprinting in. Oh no, I said a referee’s name, I hope Vince doesn’t sue me or yell in my headset. (It’s so funny in the dark way that I love so much that they spent YEARS making sure no one would ever speak the name of a referee on WWE TV and turning them into nameless nothings, only to suddenly be all “BRAD MADDOX!” when the situation required an evil referee, and they’re shocked when it doesn’t get over.)  Orton gets rid of that ref and stops to talk to the voices in his head, but misses the PUNT OF DOOM and gets caught in the STF. He holds on for nearly a minute, but taps at 1:00:00 to give Cena the belt back. I liked the Hell in a Cell match better, actually, as I found this even more slow and plodding than usual for an Orton match and couldn’t take it seriously after Orton tried to kill him with fireworks. I don’t get where some people are getting “All time classic” from at all. ***1/4  (Yeah, like seriously, who even remembers this match outside of the pyro board spot?)  The Pulse: A good show with yet another in the endless series of World title changes that mean nothing. (Oh…JUST WAIT.)  Nothing bad and all good matches means an easy thumbs up, but this is nothing I’m ever going to go back and watch again.

Princess Pick: 2009 Smackdown Elimination Chamber

Two down, two to go, this ranting stuff is like riding a bike.

I was watching some old Royal Rumbles and I’m just curious how the 1990 Rumble never gets mentioned in the “best ever” category. It’s, at worst, a ****1/2 match. I get it, Hogan won and Mr. Perfect didn’t and that sucks for people that hate Hogan but the match is almost as good as the 1992 and the star power is damn near equal if not slightly better because guys like Andre, Dusty and Demolition were in it. There were a couple of moments that really stood out for me:

— When Piper entered (at No. 6 I believe) it set off a crazy two-minute sequence between Piper and Jake “The Snake” vs. Savage and DiBiase, which would have been a ridiculous tag match during that era – a crazy brawl at MSG or Boston that would have grown legendary on some Coliseum video compilation. The crowd exploded during this sequence and seemed to stay on their feet for the rest of the match.

— It was Andre’s last great performance. Even by his limited physical standards at that point he busted his ass in that match and sold for everyone. You ever want to see Andre selling offense from Bret Hart? It was in the 1990 Royal Rumble.

— The Hogan-Warrior showdown. Still cool 22 years later.

Anyway I think I’m alone in believing that’s a ***** match and at worse the third best Rumble in history. Just watch it again; it’s 60 minutes of awesome. I promise. Princess would never, ever, ever lie.

Smackdown Elimination Chamber from No Way Out 2009

Event held on February 15, 2009 from Seattle, Washington

Hosted by Jim Ross and Tazz

WWE Championship Elimination Chamber: Edge, The Undertaker, Triple H, Vladimir Kozlov, Jeff Hardy and The Big Show

Wow, remember the days when Kozlov was getting a main event push? He absolutely stunk during that phase but he gradually got better, at least good enough to be functional, and then they release him. Same thing happened to Chris Masters, who didn’t stink as bad, but still got better with time. It doesn’t always make sense to me. I guess it didn’t help that Kozlov looked like a cross between Eddie Munster and Jay Leno on HGH.

Undertaker, Big Show, Kozlov and Triple H get the pod treatment, which sort of sucks for Edge since he was the champion going into this thing. He will start the match with Jeff Hardy. Five minute intervals again.

Hardy jumps on Edge to start, hitting two sit-down clotheslines but Edge with a huge boot to end the rally. Crowd with a chant for Hardy already – a precursor to his big push in later months. Edge chokes Hardy on the middle rope and lands a splash for two. Hardy rallies with a head scissors, inverted atomic drop, double-legged splash, low dropkick combo. Hardy goes for the twist of fate but Edge tries to counter with the Edge-u-cation which is countered back into the twist of fate. These two had chemistry for the ages even though you knew who was going to win every encounter. Hardy goes for the swanton but Edge wisely scoots out of the way. Edge goes for the spear but Hardy catches him in a small package for three! Holy crap, I forgot they jobbed Edge out in four minutes. Everyone in the pods is highly entertained by this and Edge throws an awesome temper tantrum. Oh well, he figures out a loop hole later in the night. 10 seconds until next entrant.

Kozlov is next and he kicks Hardy right in the face. Kozlov’s issue was he only knew a few moves regardless of the situation and couldn’t sell so it was up to the guy he was in the ring with to make him functional. Luckily Hardy sells like a champion as Kozlov’s wide array of shoulder blocks seem effective. Kozlov tosses Hardy in the cage a couple times and gives him a fall away slam back inside the ropes for a two count. Kozlov drapes Hardy on the top rope, headbutts him a few times in the back and hits another fall away slam for two. Backbreaker from Kozlov gets two and now a bearhug. Hardy fights to his feet and fights out of the hold but a shoulderblock grounds him again. Kozlov with a running power…nope Hardy escapes and dropkicks him into the corner. Hardy with a slingshot double-leg kick in the corner that gets two. Hardy with the whisper in the wind as we hit the ten second mark.

Big Show is next and he just steps over Kozlov to abuse Hardy. Show with a headbutt and Kozlov joins in on the action as the guys decide to team up and beat down Hardy to the dismay of the crowd. Show with a body shot, Kozlov with a body shot as it’s a battle of one upsmanship. Show with a body slam on Hardy and now Kozlov with a body slam on Hardy. The pace of the match has slowed tremendously. Hardy tries to fight back but Show stops it with a headbutt. Kozlov with an elbow drop. Show adds a big chop as the two bigger men size each other up for a second and then decide to continue their abuse on Hardy. Kozlov makes the first move, knocking Show down with a battering ram and Show takes exception to it. Big man slugfest that Show wins but Kozlov blocks the suplex. Show misses an avalanche and Kozlov lands the shoulders as we hit the 10 second mark.

Triple H is in and it’s game time. Let the knees fly! Knee smasher for Show, the Harley high knee for Kozlov. Massive spinebuster on Show and Hardy tries to stop the rally so HHH clotheslines the shit out of him. Kozlov charges and HHH ducks and lets him go flying out of the ring. HHH sends Kozlov into the cage and goes for the pedigree on the steel but Show drags HHH back into the ring and roughs him up in the corner. Crowd chanting for HHH. Show with a sidewalk slam on HHH gets two, Kozlov roughing up Hardy in the corner. Kozlov with his 40th elbow drop of the match on Hardy. Crowd ready to see the Undertaker. Show goes for the chokeslam but HHH fights out only to run into a press slam. Show and HHH go out to the steel platform and Show sends HHH into the cage. Show avalanches HHH and then catches Hardy trying to sneak attack him and sends him into the cage. Show tries to avalanche both men but misses. Hardy and HHH back in the ring and give Kozlov a double suplex. Hardy and HHH fight each other and Hardy hits a whisper in the wind as we are down to 10 seconds.

Here comes Mr. McCool and it’s a rare time that five of the six are in the match. Usually they max out at four. Undertaker goes right after Show and then beats up on Kozlov, who botches the hell out of snake eyes. How the fuck do you botch that move? Undertaker dominating and was about to hit a double chokeslam on Hardy and HHH until Show interferes. Flying clothesline for Show and Undertaker takes HHH to old…nope he audible and jumps onto Show, who was ready but Taker still hits the DDT on the steel. Now he takes HHH to the old school. Big boot for Hardy but Kozlov hits a shitty spear and goes back to the shoulder blocks. I tell you Kozlov keeps it close to the vest. He gives Undertaker some corner punches and that’s not a smart move because about 30 seconds later he takes his last ride and heads back to the USSR. Show chokeslams Undertaker. HHH tries for a pedigree and Show back drops him over the ropes and on to the steel. Hardy tries to attack Show and he catches him and sends him into HHH. Show sends HHH into the steel and tries to do the same with Hardy but Hardy sticks the landing and climbs the pod. Show climbs after him and Undertaker climbs after Show. Undertaker with a superplex on Show and HHH hits a pedigree on the prone show while Hardy recovers and hits the swanton from the top of the pod! HHH covers Show for three and we’re down to three!

Undertaker escapes Hardy’s whisper in the wind and starts brawling with HHH, sending him over the corner and out onto the steel again. Undertaker tries to go old school again but HHH shakes the ropes from the outside and knocks Undertaker off. Hardy uses the Undertaker’s prone body to do a leap of faith on HHH but gets caught with the tombstone on his way back in to end his night and a hell of an effort. Down to two.

HHH charges and Undertaker hits him with the big boot and roughs him up in the corner but HHH escapes a running big boot and they go tumbling to the steel. HHH sends Undertaker into the cage and back into the ring. HHH to the top and he jumps right into a chokeslam for a near fall. HHH tries to rally but Undertaker hits snake eyes, however, HHH catches him with a spinebuster coming off the ropes. I love when two guys know each other’s moveset so well they can use logical counters. The spinebuster gets two. We go back out to the steel as the crowd has dueling chants, which is pretty cool and appropriate as it was split 50/50 for this segment. HHH goes for a pedigree on the outside but Undertaker counters with a slingshot into the cage. Undertaker goes for a tombstone, HHH counters and they flip into the ring but Undertaker counters THAT and hits the tombstone but HHH’s foot is on the ropes at two and three-quarters. HHH hits a pedigree out of desperation and THAT only gets two. They stand and slug it out in an epic scene. Undertaker wins the slugfest but HHH sends him into the corner and does corner punches, Undertaker tries for the last ride but HHH escapes and hits the pedigree for three! Holy shit that was an awesome finish!

(HHH wins Elimination Chamber via pinfall over Undertaker, ****1/2, once Kozlov was gone that sucker got damn good. I remember wanting to see Undertaker-HHH at Wrestlemania after this short encounter. Unfortunately we got Shawn Michaels instead and…well…that didn’t suck either. As for those of you wondering about Edge he would sneak attack Kofi Kingston before the World Championship match, take his spot and win that title.)

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.