Royal Rumble Predictions Thread

All right boys we’re less than 24 hours away from Rumble time. What are your predictions:

Who will be this year’s “Ironman”

Who will be Number 1? (Remember Dolph can pick 1 or 2)

Who will be Number 2?

Who will be Number 30?

Who will be the first participant eliminated?

Who will be the final participant eliminated?

Who will have the most eliminations?

Who will be in the final four?

Who will give us the best elimination defense (i.e. Kofi’s handstand)?

And finally who will the damn thing and the right to point at the Wrestlemania XXIX (oops) sign?

Blog Topic: No Guts, No Glory – Royal Rumble 2013

Hey Scott,


Love the blog and its Simpson-savvy commentariat. Just thought I'd shoot you a topic for the blog, given that the Rumble is this Sunday. 

It's what I call a "No Guts, No Glory" predictions thread, which is, specifically, for bold/daring/ballsy predictions.

The "No Guts, No Glory" thread is where you can make the predictions that you just have a certain hunch about, but aren't willing to predict at any official capacity, whether it's because people will think you're out of your mind, or because you feel the prediction is just wishful thinking on your part (or whatever reason, really). 

The catch is, you only get three predictions. 

They can be in any order, no need to rank based by likelihood of the prediction actually happening.

Of course, there's no real point to this beyond bragging rights, but at least bragging rights here on more rewarding than they were on the PPV of the same name (trophy notwithstanding).

My guesses:
1)  John Morrison returns, fails to win the Rumble, but comes up with a spot where Kofi Kingston walks on his hands to avoid elimination and then Morrison actually balances on Kofi's feet after getting thrown out of the ring.
2)  The New Age Outlaws both enter the Rumble, somehow win the tag titles halfway through the match and then we all get bored with them by the 40 minute mark, at which point they break up again and WWE tries another singles push for Billy Gunn that lasts until the 45 minute mark of the match, when Gunn fails three simultaneous drug tests and gets fired.
3)  Zack Ryder becomes the first person to draw a negative number in the Rumble.

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2012

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2012 So just like my Night of Champions rant, this is more of a short-form review because I was watching this in a theatre and I never want to be the doofus taking notes in the dark. Now, that being said, my opinion of this might vary wildly from people watching it home because the movie theatre experience is AWESOME. And it was a sold out theatre, which is a rarity for their PPVs these days. Not only that, but sold out with a JACKED crowd. A tad on the super-mark side (some loudly so) but man what a fun experience it made for. There’s really no comparison to watching it at home. So any of these ratings and opinions are subject to future “2020 Scott sez” re-examinations later where I make fun of myself, but for now it is what it is.Live from St. Louis, MO. Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & Booker T. Smackdown World title: Daniel Bryan v. Big Show v. Mark Henry Weird choice for an opener, with two heels and Big Show. Henry, as expected, didn’t do much here, as the focus was mainly Show v. Bryan. A couple of interesting spots with Bryan trying to outsmart the big guys in between getting pounded by Show and throwing kicks. Mark Henry yelling “SHUT THAT DOOR!” at the poor referee was epic. Finish seemed a bit rushed, with Bryan trying for the over-the-top exit and Show holding him by the wrist to block, before just kind of dropping him to give Bryan the win. That’s pretty anticlimactic. The flukish win aside, this was pretty strong booking for Bryan, but the match was dogshit. They’ve gotta let Henry sit out for a couple of months or else he’s gonna be done for good by Wrestlemania. *1/2 Meanwhile, Johnny Ace continues his attempts to save his job by putting Zack Ryder (now downgraded to a herniated disc) into a private office so he can watch the show. Oh yeah, also a LONG promo for John Cena basically doing everything but showing him walking on water to hopefully find SOMEONE to cheer for him at Wrestlemania. He does charity work! He loves the troops! He does more charity work! They’re going all-in on promoting Wrestlemania, I’ll give them that. Beth Phoenix, Natalya, Brie Bella & Nikki Bella v. Kelly Kelly, Eve, Alicia Fox & Tamina I was actually just wondering where the hell Beth had gotten to. I guess we’ve exhausted all the other combinations of these divas, so now it’s just throw everyone into the match and have at it. I really don’t get what they see in Tamina aside from her dad. Standard tag match with no real heat segment aside from the Bellas briefly switching places in lieu of just making a tag, leading up to everyone “brawling” on the floor in the most contrived setup possible for Kelly to do a dive onto them. The finish redeemed it somewhat, as Beth tags herself in and has had ENOUGH of Kelly, finishing her with the Glam Slam to hopefully end that feud forever. This wasn’t embarrassing at least, but man every time Tamina and Fox get in there it’s brutal. *1/2 John Cena v. Kane This match died the death of a thousand DUDs as far as the crowd was concerned. Like really, it’s supposed to be this super-heated blood feud, and they just go out and do a dull Cena v. Kane match. Kane basically took the whole match and there was nothing going on as Kane can’t even get SMELL THE GLOVE over as a hot finish. Maybe if he wiped his ass with the glove before doing the smother, people would buy it as a deadly move. I did enjoy Kane popping up with a chokeslam attempt to show that he can indeed see Cena, but then they go to the incredibly lazy double countout non-finish so THIS FEUD MUST CONTINUE. It’s such an important issue to Cena that they’re running promos for his match with the Rock before and after it. And then, just because you can never get enough of it, they fight to the back and sure enough Kane invades Ryder’s office and beats him up AGAIN. And this time it’s a tombstone on a guy with a back brace. And the crowd CHEERS it because they hate Cena so much. What a disaster this all was. DUD I keep wondering what more they can possibly do to Ryder and they keep finding things. But don’t be a bully. BE A STAR! I can assure you that Zack Ryder is no longer a star. And now, the Rock promo. Brodus Clay v. Drew McIntyre I don’t get the joke behind Drew continuing to get “fired” every week and yet still being employed. Usual Clay squash here, although the crowd isn’t really as fired up for Clay as the RAW crowds have been. ½* RAW World title: CM Punk v. Dolph Ziggler Thankfully, this was where the show went from awful to fantastic. Ace demotes himself to outside referee and then tosses Vickie (as per the stips that I don’t think anyone else even remembered). Ziggler continues to bring the goods here, as they do some neat mat reversals off the sleeper attempt and Dolph continues to be a show-off. I also really loved the fameasser getting countered into the rotation powerbomb by Punk. The finish sees the ref getting bumped (of course) and Punk hitting three different finishes on Ziggler to make up for the fluke jobs he’s already done, with Big Johnny missing all of them. The crowd was RABID at this point and freaking out about Ziggler possibly winning the title, so the booking of the match was particularly effective. Dolph escapes the GTS with the fameasser for a hot two, but Punk finishes for realz with the GTS with both referees counting. Ace as the smiling asskisser was tremendous here and this was a show-saving main event. **** Royal Rumble Miz gets #1 of course and he quickly gets rid of Alex Riley at #2. Man, whose dog did Riley run over? I just don’t get this whole thing where they find their decent prospects and then job them out of existence in a weird self-fulfilling prophecy. Most impressive to me, however, was the loud-mouthed guy next to me who actually knew A-Ry’s music. Next big highlight was Mick Foley at #7, leading to a sock-off against Santino in an amazingly entertaining break. Also amazingly entertaining: Ricardo Rodriguez entering to Del Rio’s music and driving a broken-down rental car before bonding with Foley and eliminating Justin Gabriel. That whole segment was AWESOME and they’ve got something potentially special with Ricardo. After that begins the running gag for the night, with Jerry Lawler entering the match to a giant pop and cleaning house before getting eliminated again. There was a lot of that, which is a great way to use the legends. Jinder Mahal gets some good heat from the crowd before Great Khali comes out and eliminates him, then proceeds to last longer than he had any right to. Next announcer into the match is Booker T, and you can see the payoff to this gag coming a mile away. Kofi Kingston gets tossed by the Miz, but lands on his HANDS and does a handstand to the stairs to save himself. That got, I shit you not, a nearly standing ovation from the movie theatre. Michael Cole is the last announcer in at #20 and everyone stands aside to let him pose and the marks around me were SCREAMING for Jim Ross to get #21. Sadly, no, but Kharma returns and Cole eliminates himself to escape. Then the actual star power portion begins, with Sheamus, Orton, Jericho and Big Show ending up as the final four. The crowd in the theatre was going crazy for all of this, although Show as #30 was a letdown to me. As was Jericho making his big promises and then just being a guy in the Royal Rumble. Orton gets his big hometown eliminations and then just gets tossed by Jericho, which was kind of a weird way to use him in his home city. Sheamus and Jericho survive to the end and do a pretty great 5 minute match ala Shawn-Undertaker in 2007, with Sheamus getting the unpredictable win with the Brogue Kick to eliminate Jericho. I don’t see him in the title match by Wrestlemania somehow. Plus I think predictable would have been the better way to go. I initially gave this the full monty while leaving the theatre and updating the blog from my phone, but a couple of hours of thought leaves this as ****1/2 because there was too much silliness with the announcers and they seemed to run out of clever ideas at the end. Still, a fantastic end to save what had been a horrible show up to the WWE title match started. The Pulse Well worth buying the replay, but only for the last two matches. That Kane-Cena abomination was a show-killer on any other PPV, but the Rumble was fantastically entertaining and I’m kind of left wanting to see another Ziggler-Punk match next month. Which is good because I’m sure I’ll get one. Thumbs up!

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2012

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2012 So just like my Night of Champions rant, this is more of a short-form review because I was watching this in a theatre and I never want to be the doofus taking notes in the dark. Now, that being said, my opinion of this might vary wildly from people watching it home because the movie theatre experience is AWESOME. And it was a sold out theatre, which is a rarity for their PPVs these days. Not only that, but sold out with a JACKED crowd. A tad on the super-mark side (some loudly so) but man what a fun experience it made for. There’s really no comparison to watching it at home. So any of these ratings and opinions are subject to future “2020 Scott sez” re-examinations later where I make fun of myself, but for now it is what it is.Live from St. Louis, MO. Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & Booker T. Smackdown World title: Daniel Bryan v. Big Show v. Mark Henry Weird choice for an opener, with two heels and Big Show. Henry, as expected, didn’t do much here, as the focus was mainly Show v. Bryan. A couple of interesting spots with Bryan trying to outsmart the big guys in between getting pounded by Show and throwing kicks. Mark Henry yelling “SHUT THAT DOOR!” at the poor referee was epic. Finish seemed a bit rushed, with Bryan trying for the over-the-top exit and Show holding him by the wrist to block, before just kind of dropping him to give Bryan the win. That’s pretty anticlimactic. The flukish win aside, this was pretty strong booking for Bryan, but the match was dogshit. They’ve gotta let Henry sit out for a couple of months or else he’s gonna be done for good by Wrestlemania. *1/2 Meanwhile, Johnny Ace continues his attempts to save his job by putting Zack Ryder (now downgraded to a herniated disc) into a private office so he can watch the show. Oh yeah, also a LONG promo for John Cena basically doing everything but showing him walking on water to hopefully find SOMEONE to cheer for him at Wrestlemania. He does charity work! He loves the troops! He does more charity work! They’re going all-in on promoting Wrestlemania, I’ll give them that. Beth Phoenix, Natalya, Brie Bella & Nikki Bella v. Kelly Kelly, Eve, Alicia Fox & Tamina I was actually just wondering where the hell Beth had gotten to. I guess we’ve exhausted all the other combinations of these divas, so now it’s just throw everyone into the match and have at it. I really don’t get what they see in Tamina aside from her dad. Standard tag match with no real heat segment aside from the Bellas briefly switching places in lieu of just making a tag, leading up to everyone “brawling” on the floor in the most contrived setup possible for Kelly to do a dive onto them. The finish redeemed it somewhat, as Beth tags herself in and has had ENOUGH of Kelly, finishing her with the Glam Slam to hopefully end that feud forever. This wasn’t embarrassing at least, but man every time Tamina and Fox get in there it’s brutal. *1/2 John Cena v. Kane This match died the death of a thousand DUDs as far as the crowd was concerned. Like really, it’s supposed to be this super-heated blood feud, and they just go out and do a dull Cena v. Kane match. Kane basically took the whole match and there was nothing going on as Kane can’t even get SMELL THE GLOVE over as a hot finish. Maybe if he wiped his ass with the glove before doing the smother, people would buy it as a deadly move. I did enjoy Kane popping up with a chokeslam attempt to show that he can indeed see Cena, but then they go to the incredibly lazy double countout non-finish so THIS FEUD MUST CONTINUE. It’s such an important issue to Cena that they’re running promos for his match with the Rock before and after it. And then, just because you can never get enough of it, they fight to the back and sure enough Kane invades Ryder’s office and beats him up AGAIN. And this time it’s a tombstone on a guy with a back brace. And the crowd CHEERS it because they hate Cena so much. What a disaster this all was. DUD I keep wondering what more they can possibly do to Ryder and they keep finding things. But don’t be a bully. BE A STAR! I can assure you that Zack Ryder is no longer a star. And now, the Rock promo. Brodus Clay v. Drew McIntyre I don’t get the joke behind Drew continuing to get “fired” every week and yet still being employed. Usual Clay squash here, although the crowd isn’t really as fired up for Clay as the RAW crowds have been. ½* RAW World title: CM Punk v. Dolph Ziggler Thankfully, this was where the show went from awful to fantastic. Ace demotes himself to outside referee and then tosses Vickie (as per the stips that I don’t think anyone else even remembered). Ziggler continues to bring the goods here, as they do some neat mat reversals off the sleeper attempt and Dolph continues to be a show-off. I also really loved the fameasser getting countered into the rotation powerbomb by Punk. The finish sees the ref getting bumped (of course) and Punk hitting three different finishes on Ziggler to make up for the fluke jobs he’s already done, with Big Johnny missing all of them. The crowd was RABID at this point and freaking out about Ziggler possibly winning the title, so the booking of the match was particularly effective. Dolph escapes the GTS with the fameasser for a hot two, but Punk finishes for realz with the GTS with both referees counting. Ace as the smiling asskisser was tremendous here and this was a show-saving main event. **** Royal Rumble Miz gets #1 of course and he quickly gets rid of Alex Riley at #2. Man, whose dog did Riley run over? I just don’t get this whole thing where they find their decent prospects and then job them out of existence in a weird self-fulfilling prophecy. Most impressive to me, however, was the loud-mouthed guy next to me who actually knew A-Ry’s music. Next big highlight was Mick Foley at #7, leading to a sock-off against Santino in an amazingly entertaining break. Also amazingly entertaining: Ricardo Rodriguez entering to Del Rio’s music and driving a broken-down rental car before bonding with Foley and eliminating Justin Gabriel. That whole segment was AWESOME and they’ve got something potentially special with Ricardo. After that begins the running gag for the night, with Jerry Lawler entering the match to a giant pop and cleaning house before getting eliminated again. There was a lot of that, which is a great way to use the legends. Jinder Mahal gets some good heat from the crowd before Great Khali comes out and eliminates him, then proceeds to last longer than he had any right to. Next announcer into the match is Booker T, and you can see the payoff to this gag coming a mile away. Kofi Kingston gets tossed by the Miz, but lands on his HANDS and does a handstand to the stairs to save himself. That got, I shit you not, a nearly standing ovation from the movie theatre. Michael Cole is the last announcer in at #20 and everyone stands aside to let him pose and the marks around me were SCREAMING for Jim Ross to get #21. Sadly, no, but Kharma returns and Cole eliminates himself to escape. Then the actual star power portion begins, with Sheamus, Orton, Jericho and Big Show ending up as the final four. The crowd in the theatre was going crazy for all of this, although Show as #30 was a letdown to me. As was Jericho making his big promises and then just being a guy in the Royal Rumble. Orton gets his big hometown eliminations and then just gets tossed by Jericho, which was kind of a weird way to use him in his home city. Sheamus and Jericho survive to the end and do a pretty great 5 minute match ala Shawn-Undertaker in 2007, with Sheamus getting the unpredictable win with the Brogue Kick to eliminate Jericho. I don’t see him in the title match by Wrestlemania somehow. Plus I think predictable would have been the better way to go. I initially gave this the full monty while leaving the theatre and updating the blog from my phone, but a couple of hours of thought leaves this as ****1/2 because there was too much silliness with the announcers and they seemed to run out of clever ideas at the end. Still, a fantastic end to save what had been a horrible show up to the WWE title match started. The Pulse Well worth buying the replay, but only for the last two matches. That Kane-Cena abomination was a show-killer on any other PPV, but the Rumble was fantastically entertaining and I’m kind of left wanting to see another Ziggler-Punk match next month. Which is good because I’m sure I’ll get one. Thumbs up!

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2012

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2012 So just like my Night of Champions rant, this is more of a short-form review because I was watching this in a theatre and I never want to be the doofus taking notes in the dark. Now, that being said, my opinion of this might vary wildly from people watching it home because the movie theatre experience is AWESOME. And it was a sold out theatre, which is a rarity for their PPVs these days. Not only that, but sold out with a JACKED crowd. A tad on the super-mark side (some loudly so) but man what a fun experience it made for. There’s really no comparison to watching it at home. So any of these ratings and opinions are subject to future “2020 Scott sez” re-examinations later where I make fun of myself, but for now it is what it is.Live from St. Louis, MO. Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & Booker T. Smackdown World title: Daniel Bryan v. Big Show v. Mark Henry Weird choice for an opener, with two heels and Big Show. Henry, as expected, didn’t do much here, as the focus was mainly Show v. Bryan. A couple of interesting spots with Bryan trying to outsmart the big guys in between getting pounded by Show and throwing kicks. Mark Henry yelling “SHUT THAT DOOR!” at the poor referee was epic. Finish seemed a bit rushed, with Bryan trying for the over-the-top exit and Show holding him by the wrist to block, before just kind of dropping him to give Bryan the win. That’s pretty anticlimactic. The flukish win aside, this was pretty strong booking for Bryan, but the match was dogshit. They’ve gotta let Henry sit out for a couple of months or else he’s gonna be done for good by Wrestlemania. *1/2 Meanwhile, Johnny Ace continues his attempts to save his job by putting Zack Ryder (now downgraded to a herniated disc) into a private office so he can watch the show. Oh yeah, also a LONG promo for John Cena basically doing everything but showing him walking on water to hopefully find SOMEONE to cheer for him at Wrestlemania. He does charity work! He loves the troops! He does more charity work! They’re going all-in on promoting Wrestlemania, I’ll give them that. Beth Phoenix, Natalya, Brie Bella & Nikki Bella v. Kelly Kelly, Eve, Alicia Fox & Tamina I was actually just wondering where the hell Beth had gotten to. I guess we’ve exhausted all the other combinations of these divas, so now it’s just throw everyone into the match and have at it. I really don’t get what they see in Tamina aside from her dad. Standard tag match with no real heat segment aside from the Bellas briefly switching places in lieu of just making a tag, leading up to everyone “brawling” on the floor in the most contrived setup possible for Kelly to do a dive onto them. The finish redeemed it somewhat, as Beth tags herself in and has had ENOUGH of Kelly, finishing her with the Glam Slam to hopefully end that feud forever. This wasn’t embarrassing at least, but man every time Tamina and Fox get in there it’s brutal. *1/2 John Cena v. Kane This match died the death of a thousand DUDs as far as the crowd was concerned. Like really, it’s supposed to be this super-heated blood feud, and they just go out and do a dull Cena v. Kane match. Kane basically took the whole match and there was nothing going on as Kane can’t even get SMELL THE GLOVE over as a hot finish. Maybe if he wiped his ass with the glove before doing the smother, people would buy it as a deadly move. I did enjoy Kane popping up with a chokeslam attempt to show that he can indeed see Cena, but then they go to the incredibly lazy double countout non-finish so THIS FEUD MUST CONTINUE. It’s such an important issue to Cena that they’re running promos for his match with the Rock before and after it. And then, just because you can never get enough of it, they fight to the back and sure enough Kane invades Ryder’s office and beats him up AGAIN. And this time it’s a tombstone on a guy with a back brace. And the crowd CHEERS it because they hate Cena so much. What a disaster this all was. DUD I keep wondering what more they can possibly do to Ryder and they keep finding things. But don’t be a bully. BE A STAR! I can assure you that Zack Ryder is no longer a star. And now, the Rock promo. Brodus Clay v. Drew McIntyre I don’t get the joke behind Drew continuing to get “fired” every week and yet still being employed. Usual Clay squash here, although the crowd isn’t really as fired up for Clay as the RAW crowds have been. ½* RAW World title: CM Punk v. Dolph Ziggler Thankfully, this was where the show went from awful to fantastic. Ace demotes himself to outside referee and then tosses Vickie (as per the stips that I don’t think anyone else even remembered). Ziggler continues to bring the goods here, as they do some neat mat reversals off the sleeper attempt and Dolph continues to be a show-off. I also really loved the fameasser getting countered into the rotation powerbomb by Punk. The finish sees the ref getting bumped (of course) and Punk hitting three different finishes on Ziggler to make up for the fluke jobs he’s already done, with Big Johnny missing all of them. The crowd was RABID at this point and freaking out about Ziggler possibly winning the title, so the booking of the match was particularly effective. Dolph escapes the GTS with the fameasser for a hot two, but Punk finishes for realz with the GTS with both referees counting. Ace as the smiling asskisser was tremendous here and this was a show-saving main event. **** Royal Rumble Miz gets #1 of course and he quickly gets rid of Alex Riley at #2. Man, whose dog did Riley run over? I just don’t get this whole thing where they find their decent prospects and then job them out of existence in a weird self-fulfilling prophecy. Most impressive to me, however, was the loud-mouthed guy next to me who actually knew A-Ry’s music. Next big highlight was Mick Foley at #7, leading to a sock-off against Santino in an amazingly entertaining break. Also amazingly entertaining: Ricardo Rodriguez entering to Del Rio’s music and driving a broken-down rental car before bonding with Foley and eliminating Justin Gabriel. That whole segment was AWESOME and they’ve got something potentially special with Ricardo. After that begins the running gag for the night, with Jerry Lawler entering the match to a giant pop and cleaning house before getting eliminated again. There was a lot of that, which is a great way to use the legends. Jinder Mahal gets some good heat from the crowd before Great Khali comes out and eliminates him, then proceeds to last longer than he had any right to. Next announcer into the match is Booker T, and you can see the payoff to this gag coming a mile away. Kofi Kingston gets tossed by the Miz, but lands on his HANDS and does a handstand to the stairs to save himself. That got, I shit you not, a nearly standing ovation from the movie theatre. Michael Cole is the last announcer in at #20 and everyone stands aside to let him pose and the marks around me were SCREAMING for Jim Ross to get #21. Sadly, no, but Kharma returns and Cole eliminates himself to escape. Then the actual star power portion begins, with Sheamus, Orton, Jericho and Big Show ending up as the final four. The crowd in the theatre was going crazy for all of this, although Show as #30 was a letdown to me. As was Jericho making his big promises and then just being a guy in the Royal Rumble. Orton gets his big hometown eliminations and then just gets tossed by Jericho, which was kind of a weird way to use him in his home city. Sheamus and Jericho survive to the end and do a pretty great 5 minute match ala Shawn-Undertaker in 2007, with Sheamus getting the unpredictable win with the Brogue Kick to eliminate Jericho. I don’t see him in the title match by Wrestlemania somehow. Plus I think predictable would have been the better way to go. I initially gave this the full monty while leaving the theatre and updating the blog from my phone, but a couple of hours of thought leaves this as ****1/2 because there was too much silliness with the announcers and they seemed to run out of clever ideas at the end. Still, a fantastic end to save what had been a horrible show up to the WWE title match started. The Pulse Well worth buying the replay, but only for the last two matches. That Kane-Cena abomination was a show-killer on any other PPV, but the Rumble was fantastically entertaining and I’m kind of left wanting to see another Ziggler-Punk match next month. Which is good because I’m sure I’ll get one. Thumbs up!

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2012

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2012 So just like my Night of Champions rant, this is more of a short-form review because I was watching this in a theatre and I never want to be the doofus taking notes in the dark. Now, that being said, my opinion of this might vary wildly from people watching it home because the movie theatre experience is AWESOME. And it was a sold out theatre, which is a rarity for their PPVs these days. Not only that, but sold out with a JACKED crowd. A tad on the super-mark side (some loudly so) but man what a fun experience it made for. There’s really no comparison to watching it at home. So any of these ratings and opinions are subject to future “2020 Scott sez” re-examinations later where I make fun of myself, but for now it is what it is.Live from St. Louis, MO. Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & Booker T. Smackdown World title: Daniel Bryan v. Big Show v. Mark Henry Weird choice for an opener, with two heels and Big Show. Henry, as expected, didn’t do much here, as the focus was mainly Show v. Bryan. A couple of interesting spots with Bryan trying to outsmart the big guys in between getting pounded by Show and throwing kicks. Mark Henry yelling “SHUT THAT DOOR!” at the poor referee was epic. Finish seemed a bit rushed, with Bryan trying for the over-the-top exit and Show holding him by the wrist to block, before just kind of dropping him to give Bryan the win. That’s pretty anticlimactic. The flukish win aside, this was pretty strong booking for Bryan, but the match was dogshit. They’ve gotta let Henry sit out for a couple of months or else he’s gonna be done for good by Wrestlemania. *1/2 Meanwhile, Johnny Ace continues his attempts to save his job by putting Zack Ryder (now downgraded to a herniated disc) into a private office so he can watch the show. Oh yeah, also a LONG promo for John Cena basically doing everything but showing him walking on water to hopefully find SOMEONE to cheer for him at Wrestlemania. He does charity work! He loves the troops! He does more charity work! They’re going all-in on promoting Wrestlemania, I’ll give them that. Beth Phoenix, Natalya, Brie Bella & Nikki Bella v. Kelly Kelly, Eve, Alicia Fox & Tamina I was actually just wondering where the hell Beth had gotten to. I guess we’ve exhausted all the other combinations of these divas, so now it’s just throw everyone into the match and have at it. I really don’t get what they see in Tamina aside from her dad. Standard tag match with no real heat segment aside from the Bellas briefly switching places in lieu of just making a tag, leading up to everyone “brawling” on the floor in the most contrived setup possible for Kelly to do a dive onto them. The finish redeemed it somewhat, as Beth tags herself in and has had ENOUGH of Kelly, finishing her with the Glam Slam to hopefully end that feud forever. This wasn’t embarrassing at least, but man every time Tamina and Fox get in there it’s brutal. *1/2 John Cena v. Kane This match died the death of a thousand DUDs as far as the crowd was concerned. Like really, it’s supposed to be this super-heated blood feud, and they just go out and do a dull Cena v. Kane match. Kane basically took the whole match and there was nothing going on as Kane can’t even get SMELL THE GLOVE over as a hot finish. Maybe if he wiped his ass with the glove before doing the smother, people would buy it as a deadly move. I did enjoy Kane popping up with a chokeslam attempt to show that he can indeed see Cena, but then they go to the incredibly lazy double countout non-finish so THIS FEUD MUST CONTINUE. It’s such an important issue to Cena that they’re running promos for his match with the Rock before and after it. And then, just because you can never get enough of it, they fight to the back and sure enough Kane invades Ryder’s office and beats him up AGAIN. And this time it’s a tombstone on a guy with a back brace. And the crowd CHEERS it because they hate Cena so much. What a disaster this all was. DUD I keep wondering what more they can possibly do to Ryder and they keep finding things. But don’t be a bully. BE A STAR! I can assure you that Zack Ryder is no longer a star. And now, the Rock promo. Brodus Clay v. Drew McIntyre I don’t get the joke behind Drew continuing to get “fired” every week and yet still being employed. Usual Clay squash here, although the crowd isn’t really as fired up for Clay as the RAW crowds have been. ½* RAW World title: CM Punk v. Dolph Ziggler Thankfully, this was where the show went from awful to fantastic. Ace demotes himself to outside referee and then tosses Vickie (as per the stips that I don’t think anyone else even remembered). Ziggler continues to bring the goods here, as they do some neat mat reversals off the sleeper attempt and Dolph continues to be a show-off. I also really loved the fameasser getting countered into the rotation powerbomb by Punk. The finish sees the ref getting bumped (of course) and Punk hitting three different finishes on Ziggler to make up for the fluke jobs he’s already done, with Big Johnny missing all of them. The crowd was RABID at this point and freaking out about Ziggler possibly winning the title, so the booking of the match was particularly effective. Dolph escapes the GTS with the fameasser for a hot two, but Punk finishes for realz with the GTS with both referees counting. Ace as the smiling asskisser was tremendous here and this was a show-saving main event. **** Royal Rumble Miz gets #1 of course and he quickly gets rid of Alex Riley at #2. Man, whose dog did Riley run over? I just don’t get this whole thing where they find their decent prospects and then job them out of existence in a weird self-fulfilling prophecy. Most impressive to me, however, was the loud-mouthed guy next to me who actually knew A-Ry’s music. Next big highlight was Mick Foley at #7, leading to a sock-off against Santino in an amazingly entertaining break. Also amazingly entertaining: Ricardo Rodriguez entering to Del Rio’s music and driving a broken-down rental car before bonding with Foley and eliminating Justin Gabriel. That whole segment was AWESOME and they’ve got something potentially special with Ricardo. After that begins the running gag for the night, with Jerry Lawler entering the match to a giant pop and cleaning house before getting eliminated again. There was a lot of that, which is a great way to use the legends. Jinder Mahal gets some good heat from the crowd before Great Khali comes out and eliminates him, then proceeds to last longer than he had any right to. Next announcer into the match is Booker T, and you can see the payoff to this gag coming a mile away. Kofi Kingston gets tossed by the Miz, but lands on his HANDS and does a handstand to the stairs to save himself. That got, I shit you not, a nearly standing ovation from the movie theatre. Michael Cole is the last announcer in at #20 and everyone stands aside to let him pose and the marks around me were SCREAMING for Jim Ross to get #21. Sadly, no, but Kharma returns and Cole eliminates himself to escape. Then the actual star power portion begins, with Sheamus, Orton, Jericho and Big Show ending up as the final four. The crowd in the theatre was going crazy for all of this, although Show as #30 was a letdown to me. As was Jericho making his big promises and then just being a guy in the Royal Rumble. Orton gets his big hometown eliminations and then just gets tossed by Jericho, which was kind of a weird way to use him in his home city. Sheamus and Jericho survive to the end and do a pretty great 5 minute match ala Shawn-Undertaker in 2007, with Sheamus getting the unpredictable win with the Brogue Kick to eliminate Jericho. I don’t see him in the title match by Wrestlemania somehow. Plus I think predictable would have been the better way to go. I initially gave this the full monty while leaving the theatre and updating the blog from my phone, but a couple of hours of thought leaves this as ****1/2 because there was too much silliness with the announcers and they seemed to run out of clever ideas at the end. Still, a fantastic end to save what had been a horrible show up to the WWE title match started. The Pulse Well worth buying the replay, but only for the last two matches. That Kane-Cena abomination was a show-killer on any other PPV, but the Rumble was fantastically entertaining and I’m kind of left wanting to see another Ziggler-Punk match next month. Which is good because I’m sure I’ll get one. Thumbs up!

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2012

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2012 So just like my Night of Champions rant, this is more of a short-form review because I was watching this in a theatre and I never want to be the doofus taking notes in the dark. Now, that being said, my opinion of this might vary wildly from people watching it home because the movie theatre experience is AWESOME. And it was a sold out theatre, which is a rarity for their PPVs these days. Not only that, but sold out with a JACKED crowd. A tad on the super-mark side (some loudly so) but man what a fun experience it made for. There’s really no comparison to watching it at home. So any of these ratings and opinions are subject to future “2020 Scott sez” re-examinations later where I make fun of myself, but for now it is what it is.Live from St. Louis, MO. Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & Booker T. Smackdown World title: Daniel Bryan v. Big Show v. Mark Henry Weird choice for an opener, with two heels and Big Show. Henry, as expected, didn’t do much here, as the focus was mainly Show v. Bryan. A couple of interesting spots with Bryan trying to outsmart the big guys in between getting pounded by Show and throwing kicks. Mark Henry yelling “SHUT THAT DOOR!” at the poor referee was epic. Finish seemed a bit rushed, with Bryan trying for the over-the-top exit and Show holding him by the wrist to block, before just kind of dropping him to give Bryan the win. That’s pretty anticlimactic. The flukish win aside, this was pretty strong booking for Bryan, but the match was dogshit. They’ve gotta let Henry sit out for a couple of months or else he’s gonna be done for good by Wrestlemania. *1/2 Meanwhile, Johnny Ace continues his attempts to save his job by putting Zack Ryder (now downgraded to a herniated disc) into a private office so he can watch the show. Oh yeah, also a LONG promo for John Cena basically doing everything but showing him walking on water to hopefully find SOMEONE to cheer for him at Wrestlemania. He does charity work! He loves the troops! He does more charity work! They’re going all-in on promoting Wrestlemania, I’ll give them that. Beth Phoenix, Natalya, Brie Bella & Nikki Bella v. Kelly Kelly, Eve, Alicia Fox & Tamina I was actually just wondering where the hell Beth had gotten to. I guess we’ve exhausted all the other combinations of these divas, so now it’s just throw everyone into the match and have at it. I really don’t get what they see in Tamina aside from her dad. Standard tag match with no real heat segment aside from the Bellas briefly switching places in lieu of just making a tag, leading up to everyone “brawling” on the floor in the most contrived setup possible for Kelly to do a dive onto them. The finish redeemed it somewhat, as Beth tags herself in and has had ENOUGH of Kelly, finishing her with the Glam Slam to hopefully end that feud forever. This wasn’t embarrassing at least, but man every time Tamina and Fox get in there it’s brutal. *1/2 John Cena v. Kane This match died the death of a thousand DUDs as far as the crowd was concerned. Like really, it’s supposed to be this super-heated blood feud, and they just go out and do a dull Cena v. Kane match. Kane basically took the whole match and there was nothing going on as Kane can’t even get SMELL THE GLOVE over as a hot finish. Maybe if he wiped his ass with the glove before doing the smother, people would buy it as a deadly move. I did enjoy Kane popping up with a chokeslam attempt to show that he can indeed see Cena, but then they go to the incredibly lazy double countout non-finish so THIS FEUD MUST CONTINUE. It’s such an important issue to Cena that they’re running promos for his match with the Rock before and after it. And then, just because you can never get enough of it, they fight to the back and sure enough Kane invades Ryder’s office and beats him up AGAIN. And this time it’s a tombstone on a guy with a back brace. And the crowd CHEERS it because they hate Cena so much. What a disaster this all was. DUD I keep wondering what more they can possibly do to Ryder and they keep finding things. But don’t be a bully. BE A STAR! I can assure you that Zack Ryder is no longer a star. And now, the Rock promo. Brodus Clay v. Drew McIntyre I don’t get the joke behind Drew continuing to get “fired” every week and yet still being employed. Usual Clay squash here, although the crowd isn’t really as fired up for Clay as the RAW crowds have been. ½* RAW World title: CM Punk v. Dolph Ziggler Thankfully, this was where the show went from awful to fantastic. Ace demotes himself to outside referee and then tosses Vickie (as per the stips that I don’t think anyone else even remembered). Ziggler continues to bring the goods here, as they do some neat mat reversals off the sleeper attempt and Dolph continues to be a show-off. I also really loved the fameasser getting countered into the rotation powerbomb by Punk. The finish sees the ref getting bumped (of course) and Punk hitting three different finishes on Ziggler to make up for the fluke jobs he’s already done, with Big Johnny missing all of them. The crowd was RABID at this point and freaking out about Ziggler possibly winning the title, so the booking of the match was particularly effective. Dolph escapes the GTS with the fameasser for a hot two, but Punk finishes for realz with the GTS with both referees counting. Ace as the smiling asskisser was tremendous here and this was a show-saving main event. **** Royal Rumble Miz gets #1 of course and he quickly gets rid of Alex Riley at #2. Man, whose dog did Riley run over? I just don’t get this whole thing where they find their decent prospects and then job them out of existence in a weird self-fulfilling prophecy. Most impressive to me, however, was the loud-mouthed guy next to me who actually knew A-Ry’s music. Next big highlight was Mick Foley at #7, leading to a sock-off against Santino in an amazingly entertaining break. Also amazingly entertaining: Ricardo Rodriguez entering to Del Rio’s music and driving a broken-down rental car before bonding with Foley and eliminating Justin Gabriel. That whole segment was AWESOME and they’ve got something potentially special with Ricardo. After that begins the running gag for the night, with Jerry Lawler entering the match to a giant pop and cleaning house before getting eliminated again. There was a lot of that, which is a great way to use the legends. Jinder Mahal gets some good heat from the crowd before Great Khali comes out and eliminates him, then proceeds to last longer than he had any right to. Next announcer into the match is Booker T, and you can see the payoff to this gag coming a mile away. Kofi Kingston gets tossed by the Miz, but lands on his HANDS and does a handstand to the stairs to save himself. That got, I shit you not, a nearly standing ovation from the movie theatre. Michael Cole is the last announcer in at #20 and everyone stands aside to let him pose and the marks around me were SCREAMING for Jim Ross to get #21. Sadly, no, but Kharma returns and Cole eliminates himself to escape. Then the actual star power portion begins, with Sheamus, Orton, Jericho and Big Show ending up as the final four. The crowd in the theatre was going crazy for all of this, although Show as #30 was a letdown to me. As was Jericho making his big promises and then just being a guy in the Royal Rumble. Orton gets his big hometown eliminations and then just gets tossed by Jericho, which was kind of a weird way to use him in his home city. Sheamus and Jericho survive to the end and do a pretty great 5 minute match ala Shawn-Undertaker in 2007, with Sheamus getting the unpredictable win with the Brogue Kick to eliminate Jericho. I don’t see him in the title match by Wrestlemania somehow. Plus I think predictable would have been the better way to go. I initially gave this the full monty while leaving the theatre and updating the blog from my phone, but a couple of hours of thought leaves this as ****1/2 because there was too much silliness with the announcers and they seemed to run out of clever ideas at the end. Still, a fantastic end to save what had been a horrible show up to the WWE title match started. The Pulse Well worth buying the replay, but only for the last two matches. That Kane-Cena abomination was a show-killer on any other PPV, but the Rumble was fantastically entertaining and I’m kind of left wanting to see another Ziggler-Punk match next month. Which is good because I’m sure I’ll get one. Thumbs up!

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2010

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

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2010

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

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2010

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

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2010

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

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2010

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

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 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.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2008

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2008 – Live, in HD, from Madison Square Garden. This rant will also be presented in widescreen, so adjust your margins to 100 columns to match.  (2012 Scott sez:  First WWE show I ever ordered in HD!) – Your hosts are Michael Cole and The Coach and Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler and Joey Styles and Tazz.Ric Flair v. MVP This is for Flair’s career, but not MVP’s title, which hardly seems like a fair swap. Flair grabs a headlock and gets knocked down to start. They trade hammerlocks and Flair starts with the chops, but MVP brings him down with a Yakuza kick and a neckbreaker for two. He goes to the armbar, but Flair elbows out and clips him. MVP fights off he figure-four, then reverses another attempt into a cradle for two. They slug it out in the corner and Flair gets backdropped, allowing MVP to follow with another high kick in the corner for…the pin? Nope, Flair’s foot is on the ropes. That’s always struck me as a dangerous way to break a count, because the ref could miss it. (2012 Scott sez:  Just ask John Cena.)  Flair gets a rollup for two, but MVP clotheslines him and gets a suplex for two. To the top for the superplex, and that gets two. MVP goes for some kind of fireman’s carry thing, but Flair escapes and they collide in the corner, giving Flair a cradle for two. Backslide gets two. Flair throws chops, but MVP takes him down with a kneelift. He sets up to finish, but Flair reverses to the figure-four to finish. Well it’s not like Flair was going to retire here. **1/2 – Meanwhile, Vince and his midget bastard discuss Rumble strategy.  (2012 Scott sez:  I forget, did they ever resolve the issue of Hornswoggle’s parentage?  Was it actually Finlay who was his dad?)  Chris Jericho v. JBL (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, this feud was DEATH.  Jericho was already on the ropes as a babyface character at this point in his comeback and JBL did nothing to make people care about him.)  JBL ducks away from the lockup to start and hides in the ropes, then goes with the cheapshot before Jericho takes him down with a spear and pounds away. The reactions for Jericho seem a bit tepid tonight. Jericho punts the ribs and quickly gets the Walls of Jericho, but JBL is in the ropes. JBL bails, bu Jericho hits him with a baseball slide and sends him into the stairs. Back in, JBL catches him with a stungun. JBL hits him with a pair of short clotheslines and chokes away on the ropes, forcing JR to say “larynx” far too many times for someone who can’t pronounce it. Jericho fights back with chops, but walks into the sleeper. Jericho fights out with a clothesline, but JBL boots him down and then sends him into the post. And we have blood! (2012 Scott sez:  Blood?  What’s that?)  JBL is all over that, stomping the cut in the corner, but Jericho shoulderblocks him down and drops elbows. Lionsault and a Cactus clothesline put both guys on the floor, and Jericho uses a chair to draw the DQ. LAME. Jericho goes nuts and chokes JBL with the TV cable (which is hopefully Monster HDMI, since it’s in HD now and all), and that finally gets the crowd a little more on his side. Lots of blood from Jericho, but the match was strictly TV quality, with a limited moveset from JBL. **3/4 – Meanwhile, Santino Marella informs an apparently anorexic Ashley that Maria won’t be doing Ashley’s “booby magazine”. Spoiler: She already has.  (2012 Scott sez:  She was the last one to do so, I believe.)  Smackdown World title: Edge v. Rey Mysterio What’s with the hate from the crowd for Rey Rey? And what’s with a tattoo of a chain around his neck? Who DOES that? Really, though, how can you not love Edge and his circus of flunkies? (2012 Scott sez:  I guarantee I wasn’t watching this thinking “Hey, Edgehead #2 might just be US champion and one of my favorite wrestlers someday relatively soon.”)  They do the test of strength and Rey escapes with a headscissors, and the crowd is just all over him for some reason. Low dropkick gets two (or should I say “Boo”) and Edge backs off. Edge gets the big boot and tosses Rey, and sadly the Edgeheads get sent back to the dressing room by the ref before they can do anything. Rey fights back in and goes for the 619, but Edge bails, so Rey follows with a pescado. Senton back in gets two. Rey misses a charge in the corner and Edge kicks him in the injured knee to take over, so Rey bails. Back in, Edge stomps the crap out of the knee and goes to a half-crab. Rey fights out with an enzuigiri, but Edge powerslams him for two. Edge can’t get a horse-collar, so he goes with a kneebar instead, but Rey kicks out of it. Edge stays on the knee, but Rey comes back with the bulldog, and the crowd really hates that for some reason. It’s not my favourite move either, but geez. (2012 Scott sez:  Eh, it’s New York, what are you gonna do?)  Edge tries a sunset flip, but Rey rolls through and boots Edge down for two. Rey takes Edge down out of a powerbomb attempt for two. To the top and a double-stomp gets two. Edge comes back with the big boot and sets up for the spear, but misses and hits the corner. 619 miraculously brings Vickie Guerrero out of her wheelchair in time to pull the ref out, and she blocks a second 619, allowing Edge to spear Rey and retain the title. (2012 Scott sez:  This was the run where Vickie really blossomed from annoying manager into nuclear heat generator.)  Good match, weird crowd reactions. Never really took off like their tag matches together used to, but Edge is a different worker now and Rey is a lot more banged up. The soap opera finish worked well. ***1/2 Quick story for you: I’m watching Smackdown at work the other night because it’s in HD now and thus I can actually justify having it on, and my co-worker, who hasn’t watched in a few years, is asking what happened to Teddy Long. I tell him I’m not sure, and he asks who the GM of Smackdown is now. I tell him that it’s Eddie Guerrero’s widow, and he comments that things much be just about as bad now as when he stopped watching. So there you go, WWE. – Meanwhile, Kennedy Kennedy gets in Flair’s face and volunteers to be the guy to retire him at Wrestlemania. (2012 Scott sez:  I do believe that was the plan at one point before Shawn got the honors instead.)  Shawn Michaels chases Ken off (“Kids these days…”) and then shills his t-shirt while mediating a dispute between HHH and Batista. – Maria joins us for the Royal Rumble HD Kiss Cam, but Ashley and her disgusting ribs interrupt to offer a spot in Playboy. Thankfully, Santino is once again the voice of reason and nearly incites violence from the crowd with his comments about the Giants. Maria polls the crowd, but Santino points out that the crowd are like sheep and they’ll cheer if you ask them if they want hepatitis. HA! The payoff, as usual, is Big Dick Johnson, because they had nothing better to use for a punchline, I guess. RAW World title: Randy Orton v. Jeff Hardy (2012 Scott sez:  The 2008 Rumble was WAY up in buys almost exclusively due to Jeff Hardy challenging for the title now.  For example, I bought the show based solely on seeing this match and I’m a cynical fuck who stopped caring about buying PPVs years before this show, so that tells you what kind of a draw this match was.  And although hindsight says that what they did was the right decision in the long run, man was it ever the wrong decision at the time.  A little goodwill goes a long ways sometimes.)    This one finally has the big match feel that has been lacking from the other matches tonight. Well, except for Mike Adamle calling him “Jeff Harvey”. Hey, hope you enjoyed your one PPV, Mike. (2012 Scott sez:  Sadly he stuck around a while longer.)  Jeff is the Good Guy and Randy is the Bad Guy and the crowd has their side picked firmly. They fight for a lockup to start and Jeff grabs the headlock and gets two. Orton reverses to a headscissors, but Hardy takes him down for the legdrop and a low dropkick for two. Orton pounds him down (“Who’s your boy now? What’s he going to do? NOTHING!” That’s some good trash talk!), but Hardy clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a baseball slide that sends Orton’s head into the railing at a pretty sick angle. Jeff follows with a pescado, prompting Orton to take his belt and leave, but Jeff cuts him off and they brawl outside. Jeff tries to springboard in, but Randy uses his DROPKICK OF DOOM to counter and put Jeff back on the floor. Nice spot! Orton suplexes him on the floor, and gets two back in the ring. Orton uses the Garvin Stomp and then drops a knee on Jeff’s face (Not his beautiful face!) for two. Jeff fights back and sends Orton to the floor, then follows with a dive off the apron and surprisingly hits it. Back in, he gets two. He charges Orton and eats post, however, and Orton gets two. Orton goes to the chinlock with the bodyscissors, and a powerslam gets two. Orton uses his deadly side headlock, but Hardy comes back with a clothesline and elbows him down. Whisper in the Wind gets two. Mule kick in the corner and Jeff goes up, but Orton rolls to the apron to stop him. Hardy dropkicks him to the floor anyway and then goes back up with a moonsault press to the floor. Back in, Orton reverses the Twist of Fate into the RKO out of nowhere for the pin to retain. That one just totally sucked the life out of the crowd. Didn’t really have a finishing sequence as such, which hurt it a lot. I’ve gotta be honest, I bought the show based on the buildup to this match and I was expecting WAY more out of it, and it was a pretty big disappointment. Especially without some kind of big bump from Hardy or otherwise memorable spot. I dunno, I keep giving them another shot and they keep letting me down. ***1/4  (2012 Scott sez:  Story of my life with WWE.  “Hey, you like this Ryder guy?  Let’s have Kane beat him like a dog for 10 minutes and then ‘break’ his back by chokeslamming him through a gimmicked stage.  Now give us your money!”) Royal Rumble Undertaker draws lucky #1, and Shawn is #2. Huh. Wouldn’t have predicted that. Taker quickly whips Shawn into the corner for the Flair Flip and slugs away. To the other corner as Shawn teases going over the top again, but he goads Undertaker into charging and puts him on the apron. Shawn charges and gets caught by Taker, and they’re both back in for the big boot from Taker. Santino is #3 and he immediately eats the superkick and he’s gone. Poor guy. Shawn attacks Taker while he’s tossing Santino, and gets an atomic drop and chops in the corner. Flying forearm and Great Khali is #4 while Taker chokeslams Shawn. Taker immediately jumps Khali, but faces the BITCHSLAP OF DEATH. Crowd chants “You can’t wrestle”. Too true. Taker and Khali choke each other, but Taker dumps him and we’re back to Shawn v. Undertaker again. Hardcore Holly is #5, and Taker gets the corner clothesline on him and boots him down. Shawn keeps trying to catch Taker from behind and dump him, but Taker reverses to a fireman’s carry and they fight on the ropes. John Morrison is #6 and he gets his ass kicked by Shawn, but hangs on when chucked over the top. Shawn hits him with the flying elbow and sets up for the superkick, but John catches it and spinkicks him. Tommy Dreamer is #7, but he quickly gets pounded down by Undertaker. Batista is #8, and he’s all over it with spinebusters, leading to a showdown with Undertaker. Tommy interrupts that and tries a DDT, but Batista tosses him to end his dreams. Batista spears Morrison, but Taker chokes him out in the corner. Hornswoggle is #9 (8.5?) and he immediately hides under the ring. Can’t argue that strategy. (2012 Scott sez:  Worked for Jimmy Hart back in the day.  It’s solid battle royale planning!)  Holly clotheslines Shawn to the apron, but he hangs on while Chuck Palumbo is #10. The black bandana in his pocket indicates heavy S&M, according to Wikipedia. Hey, he played the gay tag team wrestler. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, was that when he was playing the car mechanic?  He could have made way better money fixing all the vehicles blown up by Vince Russo over the years.)  Jamie Noble is #11 and Palumbo tosses him right away. For the seven people who care about that feud, I guess. Shawn tosses Morrison and he hangs on, as CM Punk is #12 and throwing knees at everyone. He tries to bulldog Shawn, but Taker clotheslines him. Shawn ends up on the apron again, as does Palumbo, and Punk knees Chuck off to eliminate him. Cody Rhodes is #13 to deafening silence, and he’s dumb enough to go after Undertaker. Shawn tries to piledrive Batista but gets backdropped, while Taker beats on Rhodes. Umaga is #14 with red tights that threaten to blow out my TV, and he immediately clotheslines Holly out of the match while Rhodes backdrops Shawn to the apron yet again. Snitsky is #15 and he gets offense against everyone, but Rhodes jumps on his back and takes him to the apron. Sadly, neither goes out. The Miz is #16 as this thing is really starting to drag. Miz and Morrison team up on Punk while Taker tries to dump Umaga without any success. Shelton Benjamin is #17 and he too goes after Punk with a fancy DDT, but Shawn superkicks him out just as he’s getting warmed up. And yet Cody Rhodes is still allowed to bore us?  (2012 Scott sez:  Thankfully Cody would get much less boring after the whole Legacy deal.)  Superfly Jimmy Snuka is #18 looking like he just got unearthed from his tomb, and poor Miz gets to sell for him. Speaking of unearthed, Roddy Piper is #19, and he’s not looking that hot either. Piper and Snuka do a comedy sequence while the match literally stops. Kane is #20 and dumps both of the seniors, thankfully. Chokeslam for Miz and he beats on Umaga in the corner. Carlito is #21 and he gets the usual flurry of offense before reality sets in with a bulldog from Cody Rhodes. Mick Foley is #22. Hey, he’s back. Again. How can we miss him if he won’t go away? Mick goes after Kane with a DDT while Undertaker powerbombs Batista, and there’s lots of laying around and punching going on. Kennedy is #23 and we desperately need someone to clear the deadwood. Downward spiral for Punk and Miz, but Taker sits up and chokeslams him. Big Daddy V is #24 as Snitsky gets tossed…and Shawn superkicks the Undertaker out. And then Kennedy tosses Shawn. Oh, SNAP. Well that makes the winner pretty obvious. I should note that Michaels and Undertaker were not “deadwood” and didn’t need clearing. Cody and Kennedy battle on the apron while Mark Henry is #25 to really crank up the workrate. Hornswoggle finally leaves the hiding spot and pulls Miz out, then goes back under again. Chavo Guerrero is #26 as we’re running out of spots and stars to fill them. Punk and Chavo go at it while Kane boots Morrison out of the match. Hornswoggle emerges again, but gets dragged in by Henry and Vis. Finlay comes in to save him, and takes him back to the dressing room. Apparently Finlay was #27 and was DQ’d for using the shillelagh. Lame. Elijah Burke is #28 while Chavo chokes Punk out of the match. HHH is #29 and it’s deadwood time. Rhodes is finally gone. V is gone. Mick Foley slugs away on HHH and gets tossed into Burke, putting them both out. So that’s why they left all those guys in there. Umaga misses a charge and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE for him. And holy crap…John Cena is #30. So much for rehab. (2012 Scott sez:  Cena used a crazy technique called “lying” whereby he did not tell the truth about his injury on Twitter every week, thus preserving the illusion that he would be out for months instead of weeks.  Randy Orton has not learned this lesson, apparently.  I guess that makes Cena = Scotty and Orton = LaForge.)  Bye, Carlito. So long, Chavo. Ciao, Mark Henry. Cena and HHH have the staredown and slug it out, and HHH gets a spinebuster. Umaga recovers from his Pedigree and attacks HHH, but gets speared by Batista. Kennedy gets thrown out like the garbage, and Batista clotheslines Umaga out for an encore. HHH and Batista team up to get rid of Kane, and we’re down to Cena, Batista and Kane. Now that’s quite the finish. Batista gives them the thumbs down and Cena can’t see anyone. HHH tells them to suck it and it’s on. Everyone slugs it out and Batista elbows Cena down and clotheslines HHH in the corner, then clotheslines both guys. Spinebuster for Cena, and he reverses a Pedigree into another one for HHH. Cena reverses the demon bomb, and HHH dumps Batista to leave Cena and HHH. They slug it out and now the crowd totally turns on Cena after giving him the big pop, and Cena gets a backdrop suplex. F-U is reversed to the Pedigree, but they clothesline each other. HHH tries to clothesline him out, but runs into a boot. He recovers with a DDT and fights with Cena on the ropes, but they trade finisher attempts and Cena dumps him with the F-U to win the match and the title shot. Pretty dull Rumble, but the finish was super-heated and shows that clearly they need to change the belt at No Way Out (if not sooner) and do Cena v. HHH at Wrestlemania for the title. ***  (2012 Scott sez:  Well, Cena v. HHH v. Orton, so close enough, although it wasn’t exactly a heated classic or anything.)  The Pulse Nothing bad and a HUGE shock ending to the Rumble make this a pretty easy thumbs up, although honestly it was a bit of a letdown overall. If you’re watching for the Hardy-Orton title match, however, you’ll be disappointed. Mild recommendation.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2008

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2008 – Live, in HD, from Madison Square Garden. This rant will also be presented in widescreen, so adjust your margins to 100 columns to match.  (2012 Scott sez:  First WWE show I ever ordered in HD!) – Your hosts are Michael Cole and The Coach and Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler and Joey Styles and Tazz.Ric Flair v. MVP This is for Flair’s career, but not MVP’s title, which hardly seems like a fair swap. Flair grabs a headlock and gets knocked down to start. They trade hammerlocks and Flair starts with the chops, but MVP brings him down with a Yakuza kick and a neckbreaker for two. He goes to the armbar, but Flair elbows out and clips him. MVP fights off he figure-four, then reverses another attempt into a cradle for two. They slug it out in the corner and Flair gets backdropped, allowing MVP to follow with another high kick in the corner for…the pin? Nope, Flair’s foot is on the ropes. That’s always struck me as a dangerous way to break a count, because the ref could miss it. (2012 Scott sez:  Just ask John Cena.)  Flair gets a rollup for two, but MVP clotheslines him and gets a suplex for two. To the top for the superplex, and that gets two. MVP goes for some kind of fireman’s carry thing, but Flair escapes and they collide in the corner, giving Flair a cradle for two. Backslide gets two. Flair throws chops, but MVP takes him down with a kneelift. He sets up to finish, but Flair reverses to the figure-four to finish. Well it’s not like Flair was going to retire here. **1/2 – Meanwhile, Vince and his midget bastard discuss Rumble strategy.  (2012 Scott sez:  I forget, did they ever resolve the issue of Hornswoggle’s parentage?  Was it actually Finlay who was his dad?)  Chris Jericho v. JBL (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, this feud was DEATH.  Jericho was already on the ropes as a babyface character at this point in his comeback and JBL did nothing to make people care about him.)  JBL ducks away from the lockup to start and hides in the ropes, then goes with the cheapshot before Jericho takes him down with a spear and pounds away. The reactions for Jericho seem a bit tepid tonight. Jericho punts the ribs and quickly gets the Walls of Jericho, but JBL is in the ropes. JBL bails, bu Jericho hits him with a baseball slide and sends him into the stairs. Back in, JBL catches him with a stungun. JBL hits him with a pair of short clotheslines and chokes away on the ropes, forcing JR to say “larynx” far too many times for someone who can’t pronounce it. Jericho fights back with chops, but walks into the sleeper. Jericho fights out with a clothesline, but JBL boots him down and then sends him into the post. And we have blood! (2012 Scott sez:  Blood?  What’s that?)  JBL is all over that, stomping the cut in the corner, but Jericho shoulderblocks him down and drops elbows. Lionsault and a Cactus clothesline put both guys on the floor, and Jericho uses a chair to draw the DQ. LAME. Jericho goes nuts and chokes JBL with the TV cable (which is hopefully Monster HDMI, since it’s in HD now and all), and that finally gets the crowd a little more on his side. Lots of blood from Jericho, but the match was strictly TV quality, with a limited moveset from JBL. **3/4 – Meanwhile, Santino Marella informs an apparently anorexic Ashley that Maria won’t be doing Ashley’s “booby magazine”. Spoiler: She already has.  (2012 Scott sez:  She was the last one to do so, I believe.)  Smackdown World title: Edge v. Rey Mysterio What’s with the hate from the crowd for Rey Rey? And what’s with a tattoo of a chain around his neck? Who DOES that? Really, though, how can you not love Edge and his circus of flunkies? (2012 Scott sez:  I guarantee I wasn’t watching this thinking “Hey, Edgehead #2 might just be US champion and one of my favorite wrestlers someday relatively soon.”)  They do the test of strength and Rey escapes with a headscissors, and the crowd is just all over him for some reason. Low dropkick gets two (or should I say “Boo”) and Edge backs off. Edge gets the big boot and tosses Rey, and sadly the Edgeheads get sent back to the dressing room by the ref before they can do anything. Rey fights back in and goes for the 619, but Edge bails, so Rey follows with a pescado. Senton back in gets two. Rey misses a charge in the corner and Edge kicks him in the injured knee to take over, so Rey bails. Back in, Edge stomps the crap out of the knee and goes to a half-crab. Rey fights out with an enzuigiri, but Edge powerslams him for two. Edge can’t get a horse-collar, so he goes with a kneebar instead, but Rey kicks out of it. Edge stays on the knee, but Rey comes back with the bulldog, and the crowd really hates that for some reason. It’s not my favourite move either, but geez. (2012 Scott sez:  Eh, it’s New York, what are you gonna do?)  Edge tries a sunset flip, but Rey rolls through and boots Edge down for two. Rey takes Edge down out of a powerbomb attempt for two. To the top and a double-stomp gets two. Edge comes back with the big boot and sets up for the spear, but misses and hits the corner. 619 miraculously brings Vickie Guerrero out of her wheelchair in time to pull the ref out, and she blocks a second 619, allowing Edge to spear Rey and retain the title. (2012 Scott sez:  This was the run where Vickie really blossomed from annoying manager into nuclear heat generator.)  Good match, weird crowd reactions. Never really took off like their tag matches together used to, but Edge is a different worker now and Rey is a lot more banged up. The soap opera finish worked well. ***1/2 Quick story for you: I’m watching Smackdown at work the other night because it’s in HD now and thus I can actually justify having it on, and my co-worker, who hasn’t watched in a few years, is asking what happened to Teddy Long. I tell him I’m not sure, and he asks who the GM of Smackdown is now. I tell him that it’s Eddie Guerrero’s widow, and he comments that things much be just about as bad now as when he stopped watching. So there you go, WWE. – Meanwhile, Kennedy Kennedy gets in Flair’s face and volunteers to be the guy to retire him at Wrestlemania. (2012 Scott sez:  I do believe that was the plan at one point before Shawn got the honors instead.)  Shawn Michaels chases Ken off (“Kids these days…”) and then shills his t-shirt while mediating a dispute between HHH and Batista. – Maria joins us for the Royal Rumble HD Kiss Cam, but Ashley and her disgusting ribs interrupt to offer a spot in Playboy. Thankfully, Santino is once again the voice of reason and nearly incites violence from the crowd with his comments about the Giants. Maria polls the crowd, but Santino points out that the crowd are like sheep and they’ll cheer if you ask them if they want hepatitis. HA! The payoff, as usual, is Big Dick Johnson, because they had nothing better to use for a punchline, I guess. RAW World title: Randy Orton v. Jeff Hardy (2012 Scott sez:  The 2008 Rumble was WAY up in buys almost exclusively due to Jeff Hardy challenging for the title now.  For example, I bought the show based solely on seeing this match and I’m a cynical fuck who stopped caring about buying PPVs years before this show, so that tells you what kind of a draw this match was.  And although hindsight says that what they did was the right decision in the long run, man was it ever the wrong decision at the time.  A little goodwill goes a long ways sometimes.)    This one finally has the big match feel that has been lacking from the other matches tonight. Well, except for Mike Adamle calling him “Jeff Harvey”. Hey, hope you enjoyed your one PPV, Mike. (2012 Scott sez:  Sadly he stuck around a while longer.)  Jeff is the Good Guy and Randy is the Bad Guy and the crowd has their side picked firmly. They fight for a lockup to start and Jeff grabs the headlock and gets two. Orton reverses to a headscissors, but Hardy takes him down for the legdrop and a low dropkick for two. Orton pounds him down (“Who’s your boy now? What’s he going to do? NOTHING!” That’s some good trash talk!), but Hardy clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a baseball slide that sends Orton’s head into the railing at a pretty sick angle. Jeff follows with a pescado, prompting Orton to take his belt and leave, but Jeff cuts him off and they brawl outside. Jeff tries to springboard in, but Randy uses his DROPKICK OF DOOM to counter and put Jeff back on the floor. Nice spot! Orton suplexes him on the floor, and gets two back in the ring. Orton uses the Garvin Stomp and then drops a knee on Jeff’s face (Not his beautiful face!) for two. Jeff fights back and sends Orton to the floor, then follows with a dive off the apron and surprisingly hits it. Back in, he gets two. He charges Orton and eats post, however, and Orton gets two. Orton goes to the chinlock with the bodyscissors, and a powerslam gets two. Orton uses his deadly side headlock, but Hardy comes back with a clothesline and elbows him down. Whisper in the Wind gets two. Mule kick in the corner and Jeff goes up, but Orton rolls to the apron to stop him. Hardy dropkicks him to the floor anyway and then goes back up with a moonsault press to the floor. Back in, Orton reverses the Twist of Fate into the RKO out of nowhere for the pin to retain. That one just totally sucked the life out of the crowd. Didn’t really have a finishing sequence as such, which hurt it a lot. I’ve gotta be honest, I bought the show based on the buildup to this match and I was expecting WAY more out of it, and it was a pretty big disappointment. Especially without some kind of big bump from Hardy or otherwise memorable spot. I dunno, I keep giving them another shot and they keep letting me down. ***1/4  (2012 Scott sez:  Story of my life with WWE.  “Hey, you like this Ryder guy?  Let’s have Kane beat him like a dog for 10 minutes and then ‘break’ his back by chokeslamming him through a gimmicked stage.  Now give us your money!”) Royal Rumble Undertaker draws lucky #1, and Shawn is #2. Huh. Wouldn’t have predicted that. Taker quickly whips Shawn into the corner for the Flair Flip and slugs away. To the other corner as Shawn teases going over the top again, but he goads Undertaker into charging and puts him on the apron. Shawn charges and gets caught by Taker, and they’re both back in for the big boot from Taker. Santino is #3 and he immediately eats the superkick and he’s gone. Poor guy. Shawn attacks Taker while he’s tossing Santino, and gets an atomic drop and chops in the corner. Flying forearm and Great Khali is #4 while Taker chokeslams Shawn. Taker immediately jumps Khali, but faces the BITCHSLAP OF DEATH. Crowd chants “You can’t wrestle”. Too true. Taker and Khali choke each other, but Taker dumps him and we’re back to Shawn v. Undertaker again. Hardcore Holly is #5, and Taker gets the corner clothesline on him and boots him down. Shawn keeps trying to catch Taker from behind and dump him, but Taker reverses to a fireman’s carry and they fight on the ropes. John Morrison is #6 and he gets his ass kicked by Shawn, but hangs on when chucked over the top. Shawn hits him with the flying elbow and sets up for the superkick, but John catches it and spinkicks him. Tommy Dreamer is #7, but he quickly gets pounded down by Undertaker. Batista is #8, and he’s all over it with spinebusters, leading to a showdown with Undertaker. Tommy interrupts that and tries a DDT, but Batista tosses him to end his dreams. Batista spears Morrison, but Taker chokes him out in the corner. Hornswoggle is #9 (8.5?) and he immediately hides under the ring. Can’t argue that strategy. (2012 Scott sez:  Worked for Jimmy Hart back in the day.  It’s solid battle royale planning!)  Holly clotheslines Shawn to the apron, but he hangs on while Chuck Palumbo is #10. The black bandana in his pocket indicates heavy S&M, according to Wikipedia. Hey, he played the gay tag team wrestler. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, was that when he was playing the car mechanic?  He could have made way better money fixing all the vehicles blown up by Vince Russo over the years.)  Jamie Noble is #11 and Palumbo tosses him right away. For the seven people who care about that feud, I guess. Shawn tosses Morrison and he hangs on, as CM Punk is #12 and throwing knees at everyone. He tries to bulldog Shawn, but Taker clotheslines him. Shawn ends up on the apron again, as does Palumbo, and Punk knees Chuck off to eliminate him. Cody Rhodes is #13 to deafening silence, and he’s dumb enough to go after Undertaker. Shawn tries to piledrive Batista but gets backdropped, while Taker beats on Rhodes. Umaga is #14 with red tights that threaten to blow out my TV, and he immediately clotheslines Holly out of the match while Rhodes backdrops Shawn to the apron yet again. Snitsky is #15 and he gets offense against everyone, but Rhodes jumps on his back and takes him to the apron. Sadly, neither goes out. The Miz is #16 as this thing is really starting to drag. Miz and Morrison team up on Punk while Taker tries to dump Umaga without any success. Shelton Benjamin is #17 and he too goes after Punk with a fancy DDT, but Shawn superkicks him out just as he’s getting warmed up. And yet Cody Rhodes is still allowed to bore us?  (2012 Scott sez:  Thankfully Cody would get much less boring after the whole Legacy deal.)  Superfly Jimmy Snuka is #18 looking like he just got unearthed from his tomb, and poor Miz gets to sell for him. Speaking of unearthed, Roddy Piper is #19, and he’s not looking that hot either. Piper and Snuka do a comedy sequence while the match literally stops. Kane is #20 and dumps both of the seniors, thankfully. Chokeslam for Miz and he beats on Umaga in the corner. Carlito is #21 and he gets the usual flurry of offense before reality sets in with a bulldog from Cody Rhodes. Mick Foley is #22. Hey, he’s back. Again. How can we miss him if he won’t go away? Mick goes after Kane with a DDT while Undertaker powerbombs Batista, and there’s lots of laying around and punching going on. Kennedy is #23 and we desperately need someone to clear the deadwood. Downward spiral for Punk and Miz, but Taker sits up and chokeslams him. Big Daddy V is #24 as Snitsky gets tossed…and Shawn superkicks the Undertaker out. And then Kennedy tosses Shawn. Oh, SNAP. Well that makes the winner pretty obvious. I should note that Michaels and Undertaker were not “deadwood” and didn’t need clearing. Cody and Kennedy battle on the apron while Mark Henry is #25 to really crank up the workrate. Hornswoggle finally leaves the hiding spot and pulls Miz out, then goes back under again. Chavo Guerrero is #26 as we’re running out of spots and stars to fill them. Punk and Chavo go at it while Kane boots Morrison out of the match. Hornswoggle emerges again, but gets dragged in by Henry and Vis. Finlay comes in to save him, and takes him back to the dressing room. Apparently Finlay was #27 and was DQ’d for using the shillelagh. Lame. Elijah Burke is #28 while Chavo chokes Punk out of the match. HHH is #29 and it’s deadwood time. Rhodes is finally gone. V is gone. Mick Foley slugs away on HHH and gets tossed into Burke, putting them both out. So that’s why they left all those guys in there. Umaga misses a charge and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE for him. And holy crap…John Cena is #30. So much for rehab. (2012 Scott sez:  Cena used a crazy technique called “lying” whereby he did not tell the truth about his injury on Twitter every week, thus preserving the illusion that he would be out for months instead of weeks.  Randy Orton has not learned this lesson, apparently.  I guess that makes Cena = Scotty and Orton = LaForge.)  Bye, Carlito. So long, Chavo. Ciao, Mark Henry. Cena and HHH have the staredown and slug it out, and HHH gets a spinebuster. Umaga recovers from his Pedigree and attacks HHH, but gets speared by Batista. Kennedy gets thrown out like the garbage, and Batista clotheslines Umaga out for an encore. HHH and Batista team up to get rid of Kane, and we’re down to Cena, Batista and Kane. Now that’s quite the finish. Batista gives them the thumbs down and Cena can’t see anyone. HHH tells them to suck it and it’s on. Everyone slugs it out and Batista elbows Cena down and clotheslines HHH in the corner, then clotheslines both guys. Spinebuster for Cena, and he reverses a Pedigree into another one for HHH. Cena reverses the demon bomb, and HHH dumps Batista to leave Cena and HHH. They slug it out and now the crowd totally turns on Cena after giving him the big pop, and Cena gets a backdrop suplex. F-U is reversed to the Pedigree, but they clothesline each other. HHH tries to clothesline him out, but runs into a boot. He recovers with a DDT and fights with Cena on the ropes, but they trade finisher attempts and Cena dumps him with the F-U to win the match and the title shot. Pretty dull Rumble, but the finish was super-heated and shows that clearly they need to change the belt at No Way Out (if not sooner) and do Cena v. HHH at Wrestlemania for the title. ***  (2012 Scott sez:  Well, Cena v. HHH v. Orton, so close enough, although it wasn’t exactly a heated classic or anything.)  The Pulse Nothing bad and a HUGE shock ending to the Rumble make this a pretty easy thumbs up, although honestly it was a bit of a letdown overall. If you’re watching for the Hardy-Orton title match, however, you’ll be disappointed. Mild recommendation.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2008

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2008 – Live, in HD, from Madison Square Garden. This rant will also be presented in widescreen, so adjust your margins to 100 columns to match.  (2012 Scott sez:  First WWE show I ever ordered in HD!) – Your hosts are Michael Cole and The Coach and Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler and Joey Styles and Tazz.Ric Flair v. MVP This is for Flair’s career, but not MVP’s title, which hardly seems like a fair swap. Flair grabs a headlock and gets knocked down to start. They trade hammerlocks and Flair starts with the chops, but MVP brings him down with a Yakuza kick and a neckbreaker for two. He goes to the armbar, but Flair elbows out and clips him. MVP fights off he figure-four, then reverses another attempt into a cradle for two. They slug it out in the corner and Flair gets backdropped, allowing MVP to follow with another high kick in the corner for…the pin? Nope, Flair’s foot is on the ropes. That’s always struck me as a dangerous way to break a count, because the ref could miss it. (2012 Scott sez:  Just ask John Cena.)  Flair gets a rollup for two, but MVP clotheslines him and gets a suplex for two. To the top for the superplex, and that gets two. MVP goes for some kind of fireman’s carry thing, but Flair escapes and they collide in the corner, giving Flair a cradle for two. Backslide gets two. Flair throws chops, but MVP takes him down with a kneelift. He sets up to finish, but Flair reverses to the figure-four to finish. Well it’s not like Flair was going to retire here. **1/2 – Meanwhile, Vince and his midget bastard discuss Rumble strategy.  (2012 Scott sez:  I forget, did they ever resolve the issue of Hornswoggle’s parentage?  Was it actually Finlay who was his dad?)  Chris Jericho v. JBL (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, this feud was DEATH.  Jericho was already on the ropes as a babyface character at this point in his comeback and JBL did nothing to make people care about him.)  JBL ducks away from the lockup to start and hides in the ropes, then goes with the cheapshot before Jericho takes him down with a spear and pounds away. The reactions for Jericho seem a bit tepid tonight. Jericho punts the ribs and quickly gets the Walls of Jericho, but JBL is in the ropes. JBL bails, bu Jericho hits him with a baseball slide and sends him into the stairs. Back in, JBL catches him with a stungun. JBL hits him with a pair of short clotheslines and chokes away on the ropes, forcing JR to say “larynx” far too many times for someone who can’t pronounce it. Jericho fights back with chops, but walks into the sleeper. Jericho fights out with a clothesline, but JBL boots him down and then sends him into the post. And we have blood! (2012 Scott sez:  Blood?  What’s that?)  JBL is all over that, stomping the cut in the corner, but Jericho shoulderblocks him down and drops elbows. Lionsault and a Cactus clothesline put both guys on the floor, and Jericho uses a chair to draw the DQ. LAME. Jericho goes nuts and chokes JBL with the TV cable (which is hopefully Monster HDMI, since it’s in HD now and all), and that finally gets the crowd a little more on his side. Lots of blood from Jericho, but the match was strictly TV quality, with a limited moveset from JBL. **3/4 – Meanwhile, Santino Marella informs an apparently anorexic Ashley that Maria won’t be doing Ashley’s “booby magazine”. Spoiler: She already has.  (2012 Scott sez:  She was the last one to do so, I believe.)  Smackdown World title: Edge v. Rey Mysterio What’s with the hate from the crowd for Rey Rey? And what’s with a tattoo of a chain around his neck? Who DOES that? Really, though, how can you not love Edge and his circus of flunkies? (2012 Scott sez:  I guarantee I wasn’t watching this thinking “Hey, Edgehead #2 might just be US champion and one of my favorite wrestlers someday relatively soon.”)  They do the test of strength and Rey escapes with a headscissors, and the crowd is just all over him for some reason. Low dropkick gets two (or should I say “Boo”) and Edge backs off. Edge gets the big boot and tosses Rey, and sadly the Edgeheads get sent back to the dressing room by the ref before they can do anything. Rey fights back in and goes for the 619, but Edge bails, so Rey follows with a pescado. Senton back in gets two. Rey misses a charge in the corner and Edge kicks him in the injured knee to take over, so Rey bails. Back in, Edge stomps the crap out of the knee and goes to a half-crab. Rey fights out with an enzuigiri, but Edge powerslams him for two. Edge can’t get a horse-collar, so he goes with a kneebar instead, but Rey kicks out of it. Edge stays on the knee, but Rey comes back with the bulldog, and the crowd really hates that for some reason. It’s not my favourite move either, but geez. (2012 Scott sez:  Eh, it’s New York, what are you gonna do?)  Edge tries a sunset flip, but Rey rolls through and boots Edge down for two. Rey takes Edge down out of a powerbomb attempt for two. To the top and a double-stomp gets two. Edge comes back with the big boot and sets up for the spear, but misses and hits the corner. 619 miraculously brings Vickie Guerrero out of her wheelchair in time to pull the ref out, and she blocks a second 619, allowing Edge to spear Rey and retain the title. (2012 Scott sez:  This was the run where Vickie really blossomed from annoying manager into nuclear heat generator.)  Good match, weird crowd reactions. Never really took off like their tag matches together used to, but Edge is a different worker now and Rey is a lot more banged up. The soap opera finish worked well. ***1/2 Quick story for you: I’m watching Smackdown at work the other night because it’s in HD now and thus I can actually justify having it on, and my co-worker, who hasn’t watched in a few years, is asking what happened to Teddy Long. I tell him I’m not sure, and he asks who the GM of Smackdown is now. I tell him that it’s Eddie Guerrero’s widow, and he comments that things much be just about as bad now as when he stopped watching. So there you go, WWE. – Meanwhile, Kennedy Kennedy gets in Flair’s face and volunteers to be the guy to retire him at Wrestlemania. (2012 Scott sez:  I do believe that was the plan at one point before Shawn got the honors instead.)  Shawn Michaels chases Ken off (“Kids these days…”) and then shills his t-shirt while mediating a dispute between HHH and Batista. – Maria joins us for the Royal Rumble HD Kiss Cam, but Ashley and her disgusting ribs interrupt to offer a spot in Playboy. Thankfully, Santino is once again the voice of reason and nearly incites violence from the crowd with his comments about the Giants. Maria polls the crowd, but Santino points out that the crowd are like sheep and they’ll cheer if you ask them if they want hepatitis. HA! The payoff, as usual, is Big Dick Johnson, because they had nothing better to use for a punchline, I guess. RAW World title: Randy Orton v. Jeff Hardy (2012 Scott sez:  The 2008 Rumble was WAY up in buys almost exclusively due to Jeff Hardy challenging for the title now.  For example, I bought the show based solely on seeing this match and I’m a cynical fuck who stopped caring about buying PPVs years before this show, so that tells you what kind of a draw this match was.  And although hindsight says that what they did was the right decision in the long run, man was it ever the wrong decision at the time.  A little goodwill goes a long ways sometimes.)    This one finally has the big match feel that has been lacking from the other matches tonight. Well, except for Mike Adamle calling him “Jeff Harvey”. Hey, hope you enjoyed your one PPV, Mike. (2012 Scott sez:  Sadly he stuck around a while longer.)  Jeff is the Good Guy and Randy is the Bad Guy and the crowd has their side picked firmly. They fight for a lockup to start and Jeff grabs the headlock and gets two. Orton reverses to a headscissors, but Hardy takes him down for the legdrop and a low dropkick for two. Orton pounds him down (“Who’s your boy now? What’s he going to do? NOTHING!” That’s some good trash talk!), but Hardy clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a baseball slide that sends Orton’s head into the railing at a pretty sick angle. Jeff follows with a pescado, prompting Orton to take his belt and leave, but Jeff cuts him off and they brawl outside. Jeff tries to springboard in, but Randy uses his DROPKICK OF DOOM to counter and put Jeff back on the floor. Nice spot! Orton suplexes him on the floor, and gets two back in the ring. Orton uses the Garvin Stomp and then drops a knee on Jeff’s face (Not his beautiful face!) for two. Jeff fights back and sends Orton to the floor, then follows with a dive off the apron and surprisingly hits it. Back in, he gets two. He charges Orton and eats post, however, and Orton gets two. Orton goes to the chinlock with the bodyscissors, and a powerslam gets two. Orton uses his deadly side headlock, but Hardy comes back with a clothesline and elbows him down. Whisper in the Wind gets two. Mule kick in the corner and Jeff goes up, but Orton rolls to the apron to stop him. Hardy dropkicks him to the floor anyway and then goes back up with a moonsault press to the floor. Back in, Orton reverses the Twist of Fate into the RKO out of nowhere for the pin to retain. That one just totally sucked the life out of the crowd. Didn’t really have a finishing sequence as such, which hurt it a lot. I’ve gotta be honest, I bought the show based on the buildup to this match and I was expecting WAY more out of it, and it was a pretty big disappointment. Especially without some kind of big bump from Hardy or otherwise memorable spot. I dunno, I keep giving them another shot and they keep letting me down. ***1/4  (2012 Scott sez:  Story of my life with WWE.  “Hey, you like this Ryder guy?  Let’s have Kane beat him like a dog for 10 minutes and then ‘break’ his back by chokeslamming him through a gimmicked stage.  Now give us your money!”) Royal Rumble Undertaker draws lucky #1, and Shawn is #2. Huh. Wouldn’t have predicted that. Taker quickly whips Shawn into the corner for the Flair Flip and slugs away. To the other corner as Shawn teases going over the top again, but he goads Undertaker into charging and puts him on the apron. Shawn charges and gets caught by Taker, and they’re both back in for the big boot from Taker. Santino is #3 and he immediately eats the superkick and he’s gone. Poor guy. Shawn attacks Taker while he’s tossing Santino, and gets an atomic drop and chops in the corner. Flying forearm and Great Khali is #4 while Taker chokeslams Shawn. Taker immediately jumps Khali, but faces the BITCHSLAP OF DEATH. Crowd chants “You can’t wrestle”. Too true. Taker and Khali choke each other, but Taker dumps him and we’re back to Shawn v. Undertaker again. Hardcore Holly is #5, and Taker gets the corner clothesline on him and boots him down. Shawn keeps trying to catch Taker from behind and dump him, but Taker reverses to a fireman’s carry and they fight on the ropes. John Morrison is #6 and he gets his ass kicked by Shawn, but hangs on when chucked over the top. Shawn hits him with the flying elbow and sets up for the superkick, but John catches it and spinkicks him. Tommy Dreamer is #7, but he quickly gets pounded down by Undertaker. Batista is #8, and he’s all over it with spinebusters, leading to a showdown with Undertaker. Tommy interrupts that and tries a DDT, but Batista tosses him to end his dreams. Batista spears Morrison, but Taker chokes him out in the corner. Hornswoggle is #9 (8.5?) and he immediately hides under the ring. Can’t argue that strategy. (2012 Scott sez:  Worked for Jimmy Hart back in the day.  It’s solid battle royale planning!)  Holly clotheslines Shawn to the apron, but he hangs on while Chuck Palumbo is #10. The black bandana in his pocket indicates heavy S&M, according to Wikipedia. Hey, he played the gay tag team wrestler. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, was that when he was playing the car mechanic?  He could have made way better money fixing all the vehicles blown up by Vince Russo over the years.)  Jamie Noble is #11 and Palumbo tosses him right away. For the seven people who care about that feud, I guess. Shawn tosses Morrison and he hangs on, as CM Punk is #12 and throwing knees at everyone. He tries to bulldog Shawn, but Taker clotheslines him. Shawn ends up on the apron again, as does Palumbo, and Punk knees Chuck off to eliminate him. Cody Rhodes is #13 to deafening silence, and he’s dumb enough to go after Undertaker. Shawn tries to piledrive Batista but gets backdropped, while Taker beats on Rhodes. Umaga is #14 with red tights that threaten to blow out my TV, and he immediately clotheslines Holly out of the match while Rhodes backdrops Shawn to the apron yet again. Snitsky is #15 and he gets offense against everyone, but Rhodes jumps on his back and takes him to the apron. Sadly, neither goes out. The Miz is #16 as this thing is really starting to drag. Miz and Morrison team up on Punk while Taker tries to dump Umaga without any success. Shelton Benjamin is #17 and he too goes after Punk with a fancy DDT, but Shawn superkicks him out just as he’s getting warmed up. And yet Cody Rhodes is still allowed to bore us?  (2012 Scott sez:  Thankfully Cody would get much less boring after the whole Legacy deal.)  Superfly Jimmy Snuka is #18 looking like he just got unearthed from his tomb, and poor Miz gets to sell for him. Speaking of unearthed, Roddy Piper is #19, and he’s not looking that hot either. Piper and Snuka do a comedy sequence while the match literally stops. Kane is #20 and dumps both of the seniors, thankfully. Chokeslam for Miz and he beats on Umaga in the corner. Carlito is #21 and he gets the usual flurry of offense before reality sets in with a bulldog from Cody Rhodes. Mick Foley is #22. Hey, he’s back. Again. How can we miss him if he won’t go away? Mick goes after Kane with a DDT while Undertaker powerbombs Batista, and there’s lots of laying around and punching going on. Kennedy is #23 and we desperately need someone to clear the deadwood. Downward spiral for Punk and Miz, but Taker sits up and chokeslams him. Big Daddy V is #24 as Snitsky gets tossed…and Shawn superkicks the Undertaker out. And then Kennedy tosses Shawn. Oh, SNAP. Well that makes the winner pretty obvious. I should note that Michaels and Undertaker were not “deadwood” and didn’t need clearing. Cody and Kennedy battle on the apron while Mark Henry is #25 to really crank up the workrate. Hornswoggle finally leaves the hiding spot and pulls Miz out, then goes back under again. Chavo Guerrero is #26 as we’re running out of spots and stars to fill them. Punk and Chavo go at it while Kane boots Morrison out of the match. Hornswoggle emerges again, but gets dragged in by Henry and Vis. Finlay comes in to save him, and takes him back to the dressing room. Apparently Finlay was #27 and was DQ’d for using the shillelagh. Lame. Elijah Burke is #28 while Chavo chokes Punk out of the match. HHH is #29 and it’s deadwood time. Rhodes is finally gone. V is gone. Mick Foley slugs away on HHH and gets tossed into Burke, putting them both out. So that’s why they left all those guys in there. Umaga misses a charge and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE for him. And holy crap…John Cena is #30. So much for rehab. (2012 Scott sez:  Cena used a crazy technique called “lying” whereby he did not tell the truth about his injury on Twitter every week, thus preserving the illusion that he would be out for months instead of weeks.  Randy Orton has not learned this lesson, apparently.  I guess that makes Cena = Scotty and Orton = LaForge.)  Bye, Carlito. So long, Chavo. Ciao, Mark Henry. Cena and HHH have the staredown and slug it out, and HHH gets a spinebuster. Umaga recovers from his Pedigree and attacks HHH, but gets speared by Batista. Kennedy gets thrown out like the garbage, and Batista clotheslines Umaga out for an encore. HHH and Batista team up to get rid of Kane, and we’re down to Cena, Batista and Kane. Now that’s quite the finish. Batista gives them the thumbs down and Cena can’t see anyone. HHH tells them to suck it and it’s on. Everyone slugs it out and Batista elbows Cena down and clotheslines HHH in the corner, then clotheslines both guys. Spinebuster for Cena, and he reverses a Pedigree into another one for HHH. Cena reverses the demon bomb, and HHH dumps Batista to leave Cena and HHH. They slug it out and now the crowd totally turns on Cena after giving him the big pop, and Cena gets a backdrop suplex. F-U is reversed to the Pedigree, but they clothesline each other. HHH tries to clothesline him out, but runs into a boot. He recovers with a DDT and fights with Cena on the ropes, but they trade finisher attempts and Cena dumps him with the F-U to win the match and the title shot. Pretty dull Rumble, but the finish was super-heated and shows that clearly they need to change the belt at No Way Out (if not sooner) and do Cena v. HHH at Wrestlemania for the title. ***  (2012 Scott sez:  Well, Cena v. HHH v. Orton, so close enough, although it wasn’t exactly a heated classic or anything.)  The Pulse Nothing bad and a HUGE shock ending to the Rumble make this a pretty easy thumbs up, although honestly it was a bit of a letdown overall. If you’re watching for the Hardy-Orton title match, however, you’ll be disappointed. Mild recommendation.