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: 2007

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2007 (2012 Scott sez:  I’ll take “Shows I Don’t Remember A Damn Thing About” for $200, Alex.)  – Live from San Antonio, TX – Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, JBL, Joey Styles & Tazz.The Hardy Boyz v. MNM (2012 Scott sez:  Interesting how John Morrison did such a complete reinvention of himself that no one remembers his time with MNM.)  Matt gets suckered into the MNM corner to start, and Mercury pounds him on the mat. Matt fights back after a double-team and brings in Jeff, who comes in with a mule kick for two. Nitro comes in and gets legdropped for two. Double-team by the Hardyz and Matt suplexes Mercury to get rid of him for the moment, and a neckbreaker on Nitro gets two. They go to the injured face of Matt, however, and work it over, which is certainly unique psychology. Mercury kicks him in the face and Nitro gets two. Mercury keeps slugging at the face and gets a hard clothesline for two. Finally Mercury misses a splash and Jeff comes in again. Front suplex gets two on Nitro. Whisper in the Wind gets two. The Hardyz double-team Nitro with a suplex and both head up, but it’s mixed news as Jeff hits Nitro’s knees and Matt gets his legdrop. That’s pretty unique — I’ve never actually seen a spot done like that before. And so, Jeff is YOUR raver-in-peril, as Jeff gets taken into the corner and Nitro charges in with a running knee for two. Jeff’s ribs appear to be hurt, so that’s what they go for. Double-team from MNM gets two. Jeff rolls up Mercury for two, but Mercury pounds on the ribs again to keep him down. MNM with the double gutbuster for two, but Matt breaks it up. Nitro goes to a bodyscissors, but Jeff fights out and makes the tag…which the ref doesn’t see, naturally. Finally, it’s hot tag Matt, and he does the bulldog/clothesline combo for two on Nitro. Yodelling elbow gets two. Way to change it up, Matt. MNM comes back with an attempt at a Snapshot, but Jeff breaks it up and they get Poetry in Motion. Another one is missed by Jeff, and Nitro cradles Matt for two. Matt comes back with the Side Effect and Twist of Fate, but Mercury takes him out. Jeff goes up, however, and finishes with the swanton bomb. (The Hardy Boyz d. MNM, Jeff Hardy swanton — pin Nitro, 15:27, ***) Pretty much a formula Hardy match, as they’ve pretty much squandered every cent they could have made out of the Hardy reunion at this point.  (2012 Scott sez:  Thankfully there was still money to be made off the Hardys in different ways.)  – Meanwhile, Edge and Orton draw their numbers for the Rumble and mock Kelly Kelly (who is an exhibitionist).  (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, whatever happened to that?) ECW “World” title: Bobby Lashley v. Test Shoving match to start and Test stomps away and chokes him down, but Lashley hits him with a t-bone suplex. Delayed vertical suplex and Test bails, but he suckers Lashley into standing the apron long enough for a trip into the post. Great, now we get to watch him try to sell. Back in, Test gets two. We go to an armbar, and you know Test means business because he cycles through his two facial expressions and gives us “Angry Test”. And we stay on the armbar for a while, as Test’s face just does not change. Did he get Botox done or something? I mean, sure, he’s expanded his range of emotion by 100%, but geez. Lashley backdrops him and follows with a corner clothesline and some shoulderblocks in the corner, but his arm gives out on a press-slam attempt. Big boot from Test gets two, and it’s ANGRY TEST again. F5 is escaped by Lashley, and he clotheslines Test to the floor (causing him to shift facial expressions to “Confused and/or Injured Test”) and Test walks out on the match. Countout finishes are EXTREME! (Lashley d. Test, countout, 7:10, 1/2*) Well that was pretty fucking lame. Nothing like a match where no one gets over and the fans boo both guys. Lashley destroys Test afterwards to complete the burial.  (2012 Scott sez:  Sorry, Andrew.  RIP) – Meanwhile, Vince wants John Cena to lose. And John’s injured too. Uh oh, he’s facing impossible odds! He can’t possibly win, can he?  (2012 Scott sez:  Nope.)  Smackdown World title: Batista v. Mr. Kennedy Frankly I’m surprised that no one has brought up the weird coincidence of a guy named “Batista” fighting a guy named “Kennedy”. It’s a political allegory and they didn’t even realize it. Look for Batista to get beaten by a guy named Castro next time they do a tour of Cuba, I guess. JBL notes that the fans are on their feet because they get to see a World title match, which is a rarity. On a show with THREE OF THEM. Well, he’s trying. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s unfair.  The ECW title wasn’t really a World title.)  Kennedy slugs away to start and gets a rollup for two. Batista is all in his face and stuff, so Kennedy hammers away until Batista slugs back. Suplex gets two for Batista. They fight out of the ring and do nothing, and back in for more punching from Dave. Kennedy goes to the knee, however, and starts working on it. Somehow that gets two. Kennedy wraps him up in a reverse figure-four, but he uses the ropes and gets caught. Back to the knee as Kennedy is apparently suffering a nosebleed. Lay off the yayo, Ken. (2012 Scott sez:  We never did find out why he got fired…) Running boot in the corner gets two. Kennedy goes to a half-crab, but Batista counters to a small package for two. He tries a powerslam, but Kennedy sneaks out and clips him. He walks into a spinebuster, but Batista can’t cover. He fights back and no-sells some stuff, getting a standing backdrop and corner clothesline. Awkward slam and Regal Roll cues the comeback, but Kennedy hits the knee again to block the Batista Bomb. Ref is bumped, but Kennedy gets a DDT for two. The crowd actually starts chanting for Kennedy, but he goes up and lands on a Batista clothesline. Batista Bomb ends it. (Batista d. Mr. Kennedy, Batista Bomb — pin, 10:24, **) Not bad, actually, which is a pleasant surprise given how how much of a shitty non-roll Batista has been since the comeback. They kept it basic and short and thus Batista was exposed less than usual. I wouldn’t bring it home to marry my daughter or anything, but it didn’t make me want to rip my own arm off, so huzzah.  (2012 Scott sez:  That Undertaker match was a major turnaround for Big Dave, actually.)  – Meanwhile, the Little Bastard meets The Great Khali. Hilarity ensues and Ron Simmons says “Damn”. – Speaking of hilarity, intentional or not, The Marine comes out on Tuesday, you know.  (2012 Scott sez:  Still one of the only movies to make money for WWE Films, oddly enough.)  – Wrestlemania 23: 63 days away. Maybe by then they’ll have a direction for the main event.  (2012 Scott sez:  Barely.)  RAW World title: John Cena v. Umaga, Last Man Standing Cena is wearing the DDP rib tape tonight. Gee, I wonder what the story of the match will be? They slug it out and Cena gets a jawbreaker, but Umaga hits him in the ribs and Cena bails. Pussy. Umaga slugs him off the apron and sends him into the steps, but sadly he’s not coughing up blood yet. C’mon, John, be a man and bite down on that condom full of red liquid! They down the aisle and Cena brings him back to ringside, but he forgets the first rule of wrestling: Samoans have hard heads. Well, maybe not the FIRST rule of wrestling, but it’s up there. Back in, Umaga headbutts him down and kicks him in the ribs again, and Cena keeps trying to run away, like little boys from Rob Feinstein… …allegedly.  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s unfair.  He was trying to pick up an undercover officer playing a TEENAGED boy… …allegedly.)  Umaga lays him out with the clothesline, but Cena , fearing for his merchandising cut, makes it up at 7. Umaga gets the stairs as Cena beats another count and then recovers the stairs himself and tosses them at Umaga to knock him out. Oh, what a role model, using the stairs as a weapon. What a jerk. Umaga beats the count and goes back to the ribs, via a bearhug, but then stops and grabs another set of stairs. Well, Cena deserves it for using them the last time. They get set up in the corner and Cena sits against them, but the RUNNING ASS OF DEATH misses and Cena uses the stairs again. Umaga answers the count at 7. Cena goes up, but gets caught in a uranage on the way down. Hah, serves him right. Umaga goes back to the ribs, but Cena kicks him in the nuts to stop him. Just can’t fight fair, can you? Blue Thunder bomb on the stairs and both guys are down, but Cena is up first, probably by some sort of illegal supplement, and the F-U on the stairs follows. Cena, however, hits his head on the way down, showing that poor sportsmanship is never rewarded. Except in real life. Cena starts bleeding to go along with the taped ribs, and now the crowd catches onto his bad attitude and starts telling him that he sucks. Umaga slugs him down, but John fights up again. I’d test the blood dripping off his face for drugs if I was them. Cena, obviously high on goofballs, hulks up, but Umaga hits him with a samoan drop. This sets up the THUMB OF DEATH, but Cena blocks it. Umaga hangs him in the Tree of Woe, but Cena dodges a charging Umaga and goes up with a top rope legdrop, then cheats again by sending him into the post. Just to really hammer home what a dirty cheat he is, he uses a monitor, thus adding destruction of private property to his list of transgressions tonight, but Umaga is up at 8. Man, the WWE is gonna be screwed if they ever switch to LCD monitors like the rest of the world. Cena comes off the apron, but Umaga sends him into the post and it’s onto the ECW table. Umaga preps all of the announce tables, and then charges across all of them, before missing and belly-flopping through the ECW one. Now that was unique. Umaga is up at 9, however. Estrada undoes a turnbuckle while Umaga recovers and heads back in. So the entire top rope is dislodged, which seems a bit involved when just giving him the WRENCH would have sufficed just as well. Umaga, of course, misses his big chance, and Cena uses the loose rope to choke him out like the no-good cheat that he is. Umaga pops right up again, so Cena chokes him out again, adding attempted murder to his rap sheet tonight. (John Cena d. Umaga, STFU — knockout, 22:40, ****) Oh, sure, Cena won, but at what cost? His SOUL? The lives of kids everywhere who idolize this cheating maniac? For SHAME, WWE. OK, the match was pretty cool, though. (2012 Scott sez:  This was the start of the period where it was obvious that Cena could get good stuff out of a lot of people.) – That commercial with the little kids is pretty creepy. – Meanwhile, Ric Flair draws his number and dances with random chicks. Uh, OK. Royal Rumble: 90 second intervals this year, which should work out well, time-wise. So Ric Flair draws #1 for the second time in his career, and Finlay is #2. This should be interesting, actually. Finlay gives him a drubbing in the corner and tries to get him out, but Kenny is #3 and he of course goes after Ric. Finlay kind of hangs back and takes his shots as they come. Matt Hardy is #4, working twice tonight. Side Effect for Kenny, but he can’t toss him. Kenny and Finlay go back to working Flair over, and Edge is #5. Spears for all! Matt hits him with the Twist of Fate to stop the path of rage, and everyone is out. Flair decides to get a chair, but Edge tosses him. Well, that went about as bad as it could for him. Kenny celebrates, so Edge turns on him and dumps him. Ha! Serves him right for taking credit for other’s work. Tommy Dreamer is #6 and goes after Edge, dropkicking him in the Tree of Woe before getting taken down by Finlay. Edge and Matt continue like private war, and Sabu is #7. It’s table time already. He sets one up at ringside and heads in to pound on Dreamer. Gregory Helms is #8 and goes after Matt, as Sabu almost gets Finlay out and then chokes him down instead. Not much going on and Shelton Benjamin is #9. He can’t throw either Matt or Helms through the table at ringside. Nor can Finlay. That table had better be setting up a really big spot later given this buildup. Kane is #10 and everyone panics, rightfully so because Kane starts hitting people unimpeded. Goodnight, Dreamer! So long, Sabu! Kane chokeslams him through the table to pay it off. Could’ve been better. CM Punk is #11, and immediately gets pounded by Finlay. So much for his push. (2012 Scott sez:  He’ll probably do OK for himself.)  King Booker is #12 and Helms is gone as a result. Super Crazy is #13, and I’m sure that won’t make much of a dent. Kane beats on him right away, and some other people for good measure. Jeff Hardy is #14 and teams with Matt against Finlay, and then against Edge and Crazy. They even get Poetry in Motion on Kane, and Sandman is #15. He canes some people…and gets tossed by Booker 10 seconds into his appearance. Well that was a letdown. Hardy gets tossed by Finlay, but skins the cat back in. Same deal with Punk. Randy Orton is #16, as the ring is getting too full. The champs team up to get rid of Crazy.  (2012 Scott sez:  I’d be referring to Rated RKO there, right?) They go after Matt, and when Jeff tries to save they dump him. And then Matt, just to rub it in. That’s a little better. Chris Benoit is #17, and he’s chop crazy! Finlay eats a german suplex as Punk hangs on for his life. Finally Finlay clobbers him to slow him down, but can’t get him out. Rob Van Dam is #18, and he kicks lots of people. Kane uses that advantage to toss King Booker, thus ending his dream of a rematch. Booker doesn’t take it well and eliminates Kane in retribution. Well, there’s a feud for you. (2012 Scott sez:  Not so much.)  Viscera is #19 and he goes after Edge, and it’s a lot of kicking and punching. Johnny Nitro is #20, and gets nowhere fast. Much like this match. Kevin Thorn is #21 and does nothing. (2012 Scott sez:  They were actually ahead of the curve with the vampire stuff.  A character based on Erik Northman might actually work now if they could get the dreamy Swedish hunk to play it.)  RVD goes after Viscera, but can’t get him out alone. Hardcore Holly is #22 as we’re really into the doldrums now. Kick, punch, choke. There’s just nothing going on, and there’s too many people in the ring. Finally everyone gets smart and goes after Viscera as Shawn Michaels is #23. He goes after Finlay for whatever reason and dumps him, ending his 30 minute run. Superkick for Vis, and that’s what everyone needs to get him out. Shelton charges at Shawn and goes bye-bye. Chris Masters is #24. I’m sure they’re all shaking. Nitro gets tossed, didn’t catch why. Replay shows that Benoit knocked him off the top rope. People who go up the ropes in Rumbles are idiots. (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t forget people who dance!  They’re stupid too!)  Team RKO works on Shawn in the corner as Chavo Guerrero is #25. Benoit powers Thorn out on the ropes, which is one of the rare times you see someone actually fighting for the elimination like that and getting it. MVP is #26, but Benoit starts chopping him. RVD dropkicks Masters out while Orton pounds Punk on the apron, but can’t get him out. Carlito is #27, and he goes after Orton & Edge. RVD nearly gets Michaels out, but Holly makes the save. Great Khali is #28, and at least he’ll probably toss some people out. Everyone stops and readies themselves for him, but he fights off everyone. It’s the Elephant’s Graveyard out there as he lays out the whole pack, and Miz is #29. Khali tosses him, thankfully. Benoit is gone, Holly is gone, Punk is gone, RVD is gone, Carlito is gone, Chavo is gone. Is there no stopping the path of suck? Undertaker is #30, the one time I’m glad to see him. Taker fires away on Khali , and clotheslines him out. MVP, odd man out in the main eventer mix left, is quickly dealt with by Undertaker. Final four: Undertaker, Edge, Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels. So really anyone can win. Orton gets a chair and lays Taker out, but Edge sets up for a spear. Whoops, awkward. Shawn interrupts the argument between the champs, but takes an RKO as a result. Rated RKO goes after Undertaker and pounds him down, but he fights back. Corner clotheslines for both of them and he clotheslines both at the same time. Snake Eyes for Edge and big boot, and Orton is about to be chokeslammed before Edge spears Taker to save. A rather nasty chairshot puts Taker down again. Edge gets another chair and sets up the concerto, but Shawn recovers and dumps Orton, then superkicks Edge out of the match. So we’re down to Shawn and Undertaker, as I’ve apparently set my alarm clock for 10 years ago and not realized it. Shawn slugs away in the corner, but Taker fires back and nearly punches him out of the ring. When Melodramatic Selling Goes Bad. Shawn takes another overblown bump in the corner and gets hung up, but Taker charges and lands on the apron himself. Shawn charges and hits elbow, however. Back in, Shawn gets a neckbreaker and they slug it out, selling it like death after only being in the ring for like 10 minutes combined. Shawn ends up on the apron during a suplex attempt, but tries to go up and gets slugged down. Both guys fight on the top, but Taker goes down first, and Shawn follows with the flying elbow. Superkick is caught by Taker, and it’s chokeslam city. Taker goes for the tombstone, but Shawn escapes and superkicks him. Another try is blocked, however, and Taker dumps him to win the Royal Rumble for the first time, and also becomes the first person to win at #30. And….the crowd is pissed. Wow, that was a pretty gutsy finish. (2012 Scott sez:  Seems like Undertaker and Shawn might want to have a match or two at Wrestlemania to settle things.)  (Undertaker wins Royal Rumble, 56:31, ***1/4) The main body of the match was boring as hell, but the finishing sequence once Khali got in was spectacular, until they totally blew the big underdog win. This one just totally sucked the life out of the crowd. Just an average Rumble match overall. The Pulse: Well, the Rumble match mostly delivered, as the drama was good once you had no idea who was going to win it, and the Cena-Umaga match was a hell of a brawl, so it’s good enough for a mild thumbs up, but Batista-Undertaker is going to be a real mess unless they go with the more intriguing Cena-Undertaker matchup instead.  (2012 Scott sez:  Batista-Undertaker ended up just fine, thank you very much.  You know what’s crazy about this show, though?  This is only 5 years ago, and look at all the major players who are now either retired, dead, or moved on:  Batista, Michaels, Benoit, Umaga, Kennedy, Test, Lashley, The Hardy Boyz and Edge all gone for one reason or another.  That’s a HUGE chunk of star power that’s been cycled out with no real replacements aside from CM Punk and maybe Alberto Del Rio.  No wonder the product is so stale now.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2007

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2007 (2012 Scott sez:  I’ll take “Shows I Don’t Remember A Damn Thing About” for $200, Alex.)  – Live from San Antonio, TX – Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, JBL, Joey Styles & Tazz.The Hardy Boyz v. MNM (2012 Scott sez:  Interesting how John Morrison did such a complete reinvention of himself that no one remembers his time with MNM.)  Matt gets suckered into the MNM corner to start, and Mercury pounds him on the mat. Matt fights back after a double-team and brings in Jeff, who comes in with a mule kick for two. Nitro comes in and gets legdropped for two. Double-team by the Hardyz and Matt suplexes Mercury to get rid of him for the moment, and a neckbreaker on Nitro gets two. They go to the injured face of Matt, however, and work it over, which is certainly unique psychology. Mercury kicks him in the face and Nitro gets two. Mercury keeps slugging at the face and gets a hard clothesline for two. Finally Mercury misses a splash and Jeff comes in again. Front suplex gets two on Nitro. Whisper in the Wind gets two. The Hardyz double-team Nitro with a suplex and both head up, but it’s mixed news as Jeff hits Nitro’s knees and Matt gets his legdrop. That’s pretty unique — I’ve never actually seen a spot done like that before. And so, Jeff is YOUR raver-in-peril, as Jeff gets taken into the corner and Nitro charges in with a running knee for two. Jeff’s ribs appear to be hurt, so that’s what they go for. Double-team from MNM gets two. Jeff rolls up Mercury for two, but Mercury pounds on the ribs again to keep him down. MNM with the double gutbuster for two, but Matt breaks it up. Nitro goes to a bodyscissors, but Jeff fights out and makes the tag…which the ref doesn’t see, naturally. Finally, it’s hot tag Matt, and he does the bulldog/clothesline combo for two on Nitro. Yodelling elbow gets two. Way to change it up, Matt. MNM comes back with an attempt at a Snapshot, but Jeff breaks it up and they get Poetry in Motion. Another one is missed by Jeff, and Nitro cradles Matt for two. Matt comes back with the Side Effect and Twist of Fate, but Mercury takes him out. Jeff goes up, however, and finishes with the swanton bomb. (The Hardy Boyz d. MNM, Jeff Hardy swanton — pin Nitro, 15:27, ***) Pretty much a formula Hardy match, as they’ve pretty much squandered every cent they could have made out of the Hardy reunion at this point.  (2012 Scott sez:  Thankfully there was still money to be made off the Hardys in different ways.)  – Meanwhile, Edge and Orton draw their numbers for the Rumble and mock Kelly Kelly (who is an exhibitionist).  (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, whatever happened to that?) ECW “World” title: Bobby Lashley v. Test Shoving match to start and Test stomps away and chokes him down, but Lashley hits him with a t-bone suplex. Delayed vertical suplex and Test bails, but he suckers Lashley into standing the apron long enough for a trip into the post. Great, now we get to watch him try to sell. Back in, Test gets two. We go to an armbar, and you know Test means business because he cycles through his two facial expressions and gives us “Angry Test”. And we stay on the armbar for a while, as Test’s face just does not change. Did he get Botox done or something? I mean, sure, he’s expanded his range of emotion by 100%, but geez. Lashley backdrops him and follows with a corner clothesline and some shoulderblocks in the corner, but his arm gives out on a press-slam attempt. Big boot from Test gets two, and it’s ANGRY TEST again. F5 is escaped by Lashley, and he clotheslines Test to the floor (causing him to shift facial expressions to “Confused and/or Injured Test”) and Test walks out on the match. Countout finishes are EXTREME! (Lashley d. Test, countout, 7:10, 1/2*) Well that was pretty fucking lame. Nothing like a match where no one gets over and the fans boo both guys. Lashley destroys Test afterwards to complete the burial.  (2012 Scott sez:  Sorry, Andrew.  RIP) – Meanwhile, Vince wants John Cena to lose. And John’s injured too. Uh oh, he’s facing impossible odds! He can’t possibly win, can he?  (2012 Scott sez:  Nope.)  Smackdown World title: Batista v. Mr. Kennedy Frankly I’m surprised that no one has brought up the weird coincidence of a guy named “Batista” fighting a guy named “Kennedy”. It’s a political allegory and they didn’t even realize it. Look for Batista to get beaten by a guy named Castro next time they do a tour of Cuba, I guess. JBL notes that the fans are on their feet because they get to see a World title match, which is a rarity. On a show with THREE OF THEM. Well, he’s trying. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s unfair.  The ECW title wasn’t really a World title.)  Kennedy slugs away to start and gets a rollup for two. Batista is all in his face and stuff, so Kennedy hammers away until Batista slugs back. Suplex gets two for Batista. They fight out of the ring and do nothing, and back in for more punching from Dave. Kennedy goes to the knee, however, and starts working on it. Somehow that gets two. Kennedy wraps him up in a reverse figure-four, but he uses the ropes and gets caught. Back to the knee as Kennedy is apparently suffering a nosebleed. Lay off the yayo, Ken. (2012 Scott sez:  We never did find out why he got fired…) Running boot in the corner gets two. Kennedy goes to a half-crab, but Batista counters to a small package for two. He tries a powerslam, but Kennedy sneaks out and clips him. He walks into a spinebuster, but Batista can’t cover. He fights back and no-sells some stuff, getting a standing backdrop and corner clothesline. Awkward slam and Regal Roll cues the comeback, but Kennedy hits the knee again to block the Batista Bomb. Ref is bumped, but Kennedy gets a DDT for two. The crowd actually starts chanting for Kennedy, but he goes up and lands on a Batista clothesline. Batista Bomb ends it. (Batista d. Mr. Kennedy, Batista Bomb — pin, 10:24, **) Not bad, actually, which is a pleasant surprise given how how much of a shitty non-roll Batista has been since the comeback. They kept it basic and short and thus Batista was exposed less than usual. I wouldn’t bring it home to marry my daughter or anything, but it didn’t make me want to rip my own arm off, so huzzah.  (2012 Scott sez:  That Undertaker match was a major turnaround for Big Dave, actually.)  – Meanwhile, the Little Bastard meets The Great Khali. Hilarity ensues and Ron Simmons says “Damn”. – Speaking of hilarity, intentional or not, The Marine comes out on Tuesday, you know.  (2012 Scott sez:  Still one of the only movies to make money for WWE Films, oddly enough.)  – Wrestlemania 23: 63 days away. Maybe by then they’ll have a direction for the main event.  (2012 Scott sez:  Barely.)  RAW World title: John Cena v. Umaga, Last Man Standing Cena is wearing the DDP rib tape tonight. Gee, I wonder what the story of the match will be? They slug it out and Cena gets a jawbreaker, but Umaga hits him in the ribs and Cena bails. Pussy. Umaga slugs him off the apron and sends him into the steps, but sadly he’s not coughing up blood yet. C’mon, John, be a man and bite down on that condom full of red liquid! They down the aisle and Cena brings him back to ringside, but he forgets the first rule of wrestling: Samoans have hard heads. Well, maybe not the FIRST rule of wrestling, but it’s up there. Back in, Umaga headbutts him down and kicks him in the ribs again, and Cena keeps trying to run away, like little boys from Rob Feinstein… …allegedly.  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s unfair.  He was trying to pick up an undercover officer playing a TEENAGED boy… …allegedly.)  Umaga lays him out with the clothesline, but Cena , fearing for his merchandising cut, makes it up at 7. Umaga gets the stairs as Cena beats another count and then recovers the stairs himself and tosses them at Umaga to knock him out. Oh, what a role model, using the stairs as a weapon. What a jerk. Umaga beats the count and goes back to the ribs, via a bearhug, but then stops and grabs another set of stairs. Well, Cena deserves it for using them the last time. They get set up in the corner and Cena sits against them, but the RUNNING ASS OF DEATH misses and Cena uses the stairs again. Umaga answers the count at 7. Cena goes up, but gets caught in a uranage on the way down. Hah, serves him right. Umaga goes back to the ribs, but Cena kicks him in the nuts to stop him. Just can’t fight fair, can you? Blue Thunder bomb on the stairs and both guys are down, but Cena is up first, probably by some sort of illegal supplement, and the F-U on the stairs follows. Cena, however, hits his head on the way down, showing that poor sportsmanship is never rewarded. Except in real life. Cena starts bleeding to go along with the taped ribs, and now the crowd catches onto his bad attitude and starts telling him that he sucks. Umaga slugs him down, but John fights up again. I’d test the blood dripping off his face for drugs if I was them. Cena, obviously high on goofballs, hulks up, but Umaga hits him with a samoan drop. This sets up the THUMB OF DEATH, but Cena blocks it. Umaga hangs him in the Tree of Woe, but Cena dodges a charging Umaga and goes up with a top rope legdrop, then cheats again by sending him into the post. Just to really hammer home what a dirty cheat he is, he uses a monitor, thus adding destruction of private property to his list of transgressions tonight, but Umaga is up at 8. Man, the WWE is gonna be screwed if they ever switch to LCD monitors like the rest of the world. Cena comes off the apron, but Umaga sends him into the post and it’s onto the ECW table. Umaga preps all of the announce tables, and then charges across all of them, before missing and belly-flopping through the ECW one. Now that was unique. Umaga is up at 9, however. Estrada undoes a turnbuckle while Umaga recovers and heads back in. So the entire top rope is dislodged, which seems a bit involved when just giving him the WRENCH would have sufficed just as well. Umaga, of course, misses his big chance, and Cena uses the loose rope to choke him out like the no-good cheat that he is. Umaga pops right up again, so Cena chokes him out again, adding attempted murder to his rap sheet tonight. (John Cena d. Umaga, STFU — knockout, 22:40, ****) Oh, sure, Cena won, but at what cost? His SOUL? The lives of kids everywhere who idolize this cheating maniac? For SHAME, WWE. OK, the match was pretty cool, though. (2012 Scott sez:  This was the start of the period where it was obvious that Cena could get good stuff out of a lot of people.) – That commercial with the little kids is pretty creepy. – Meanwhile, Ric Flair draws his number and dances with random chicks. Uh, OK. Royal Rumble: 90 second intervals this year, which should work out well, time-wise. So Ric Flair draws #1 for the second time in his career, and Finlay is #2. This should be interesting, actually. Finlay gives him a drubbing in the corner and tries to get him out, but Kenny is #3 and he of course goes after Ric. Finlay kind of hangs back and takes his shots as they come. Matt Hardy is #4, working twice tonight. Side Effect for Kenny, but he can’t toss him. Kenny and Finlay go back to working Flair over, and Edge is #5. Spears for all! Matt hits him with the Twist of Fate to stop the path of rage, and everyone is out. Flair decides to get a chair, but Edge tosses him. Well, that went about as bad as it could for him. Kenny celebrates, so Edge turns on him and dumps him. Ha! Serves him right for taking credit for other’s work. Tommy Dreamer is #6 and goes after Edge, dropkicking him in the Tree of Woe before getting taken down by Finlay. Edge and Matt continue like private war, and Sabu is #7. It’s table time already. He sets one up at ringside and heads in to pound on Dreamer. Gregory Helms is #8 and goes after Matt, as Sabu almost gets Finlay out and then chokes him down instead. Not much going on and Shelton Benjamin is #9. He can’t throw either Matt or Helms through the table at ringside. Nor can Finlay. That table had better be setting up a really big spot later given this buildup. Kane is #10 and everyone panics, rightfully so because Kane starts hitting people unimpeded. Goodnight, Dreamer! So long, Sabu! Kane chokeslams him through the table to pay it off. Could’ve been better. CM Punk is #11, and immediately gets pounded by Finlay. So much for his push. (2012 Scott sez:  He’ll probably do OK for himself.)  King Booker is #12 and Helms is gone as a result. Super Crazy is #13, and I’m sure that won’t make much of a dent. Kane beats on him right away, and some other people for good measure. Jeff Hardy is #14 and teams with Matt against Finlay, and then against Edge and Crazy. They even get Poetry in Motion on Kane, and Sandman is #15. He canes some people…and gets tossed by Booker 10 seconds into his appearance. Well that was a letdown. Hardy gets tossed by Finlay, but skins the cat back in. Same deal with Punk. Randy Orton is #16, as the ring is getting too full. The champs team up to get rid of Crazy.  (2012 Scott sez:  I’d be referring to Rated RKO there, right?) They go after Matt, and when Jeff tries to save they dump him. And then Matt, just to rub it in. That’s a little better. Chris Benoit is #17, and he’s chop crazy! Finlay eats a german suplex as Punk hangs on for his life. Finally Finlay clobbers him to slow him down, but can’t get him out. Rob Van Dam is #18, and he kicks lots of people. Kane uses that advantage to toss King Booker, thus ending his dream of a rematch. Booker doesn’t take it well and eliminates Kane in retribution. Well, there’s a feud for you. (2012 Scott sez:  Not so much.)  Viscera is #19 and he goes after Edge, and it’s a lot of kicking and punching. Johnny Nitro is #20, and gets nowhere fast. Much like this match. Kevin Thorn is #21 and does nothing. (2012 Scott sez:  They were actually ahead of the curve with the vampire stuff.  A character based on Erik Northman might actually work now if they could get the dreamy Swedish hunk to play it.)  RVD goes after Viscera, but can’t get him out alone. Hardcore Holly is #22 as we’re really into the doldrums now. Kick, punch, choke. There’s just nothing going on, and there’s too many people in the ring. Finally everyone gets smart and goes after Viscera as Shawn Michaels is #23. He goes after Finlay for whatever reason and dumps him, ending his 30 minute run. Superkick for Vis, and that’s what everyone needs to get him out. Shelton charges at Shawn and goes bye-bye. Chris Masters is #24. I’m sure they’re all shaking. Nitro gets tossed, didn’t catch why. Replay shows that Benoit knocked him off the top rope. People who go up the ropes in Rumbles are idiots. (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t forget people who dance!  They’re stupid too!)  Team RKO works on Shawn in the corner as Chavo Guerrero is #25. Benoit powers Thorn out on the ropes, which is one of the rare times you see someone actually fighting for the elimination like that and getting it. MVP is #26, but Benoit starts chopping him. RVD dropkicks Masters out while Orton pounds Punk on the apron, but can’t get him out. Carlito is #27, and he goes after Orton & Edge. RVD nearly gets Michaels out, but Holly makes the save. Great Khali is #28, and at least he’ll probably toss some people out. Everyone stops and readies themselves for him, but he fights off everyone. It’s the Elephant’s Graveyard out there as he lays out the whole pack, and Miz is #29. Khali tosses him, thankfully. Benoit is gone, Holly is gone, Punk is gone, RVD is gone, Carlito is gone, Chavo is gone. Is there no stopping the path of suck? Undertaker is #30, the one time I’m glad to see him. Taker fires away on Khali , and clotheslines him out. MVP, odd man out in the main eventer mix left, is quickly dealt with by Undertaker. Final four: Undertaker, Edge, Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels. So really anyone can win. Orton gets a chair and lays Taker out, but Edge sets up for a spear. Whoops, awkward. Shawn interrupts the argument between the champs, but takes an RKO as a result. Rated RKO goes after Undertaker and pounds him down, but he fights back. Corner clotheslines for both of them and he clotheslines both at the same time. Snake Eyes for Edge and big boot, and Orton is about to be chokeslammed before Edge spears Taker to save. A rather nasty chairshot puts Taker down again. Edge gets another chair and sets up the concerto, but Shawn recovers and dumps Orton, then superkicks Edge out of the match. So we’re down to Shawn and Undertaker, as I’ve apparently set my alarm clock for 10 years ago and not realized it. Shawn slugs away in the corner, but Taker fires back and nearly punches him out of the ring. When Melodramatic Selling Goes Bad. Shawn takes another overblown bump in the corner and gets hung up, but Taker charges and lands on the apron himself. Shawn charges and hits elbow, however. Back in, Shawn gets a neckbreaker and they slug it out, selling it like death after only being in the ring for like 10 minutes combined. Shawn ends up on the apron during a suplex attempt, but tries to go up and gets slugged down. Both guys fight on the top, but Taker goes down first, and Shawn follows with the flying elbow. Superkick is caught by Taker, and it’s chokeslam city. Taker goes for the tombstone, but Shawn escapes and superkicks him. Another try is blocked, however, and Taker dumps him to win the Royal Rumble for the first time, and also becomes the first person to win at #30. And….the crowd is pissed. Wow, that was a pretty gutsy finish. (2012 Scott sez:  Seems like Undertaker and Shawn might want to have a match or two at Wrestlemania to settle things.)  (Undertaker wins Royal Rumble, 56:31, ***1/4) The main body of the match was boring as hell, but the finishing sequence once Khali got in was spectacular, until they totally blew the big underdog win. This one just totally sucked the life out of the crowd. Just an average Rumble match overall. The Pulse: Well, the Rumble match mostly delivered, as the drama was good once you had no idea who was going to win it, and the Cena-Umaga match was a hell of a brawl, so it’s good enough for a mild thumbs up, but Batista-Undertaker is going to be a real mess unless they go with the more intriguing Cena-Undertaker matchup instead.  (2012 Scott sez:  Batista-Undertaker ended up just fine, thank you very much.  You know what’s crazy about this show, though?  This is only 5 years ago, and look at all the major players who are now either retired, dead, or moved on:  Batista, Michaels, Benoit, Umaga, Kennedy, Test, Lashley, The Hardy Boyz and Edge all gone for one reason or another.  That’s a HUGE chunk of star power that’s been cycled out with no real replacements aside from CM Punk and maybe Alberto Del Rio.  No wonder the product is so stale now.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2007

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2007 (2012 Scott sez:  I’ll take “Shows I Don’t Remember A Damn Thing About” for $200, Alex.)  – Live from San Antonio, TX – Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, JBL, Joey Styles & Tazz.The Hardy Boyz v. MNM (2012 Scott sez:  Interesting how John Morrison did such a complete reinvention of himself that no one remembers his time with MNM.)  Matt gets suckered into the MNM corner to start, and Mercury pounds him on the mat. Matt fights back after a double-team and brings in Jeff, who comes in with a mule kick for two. Nitro comes in and gets legdropped for two. Double-team by the Hardyz and Matt suplexes Mercury to get rid of him for the moment, and a neckbreaker on Nitro gets two. They go to the injured face of Matt, however, and work it over, which is certainly unique psychology. Mercury kicks him in the face and Nitro gets two. Mercury keeps slugging at the face and gets a hard clothesline for two. Finally Mercury misses a splash and Jeff comes in again. Front suplex gets two on Nitro. Whisper in the Wind gets two. The Hardyz double-team Nitro with a suplex and both head up, but it’s mixed news as Jeff hits Nitro’s knees and Matt gets his legdrop. That’s pretty unique — I’ve never actually seen a spot done like that before. And so, Jeff is YOUR raver-in-peril, as Jeff gets taken into the corner and Nitro charges in with a running knee for two. Jeff’s ribs appear to be hurt, so that’s what they go for. Double-team from MNM gets two. Jeff rolls up Mercury for two, but Mercury pounds on the ribs again to keep him down. MNM with the double gutbuster for two, but Matt breaks it up. Nitro goes to a bodyscissors, but Jeff fights out and makes the tag…which the ref doesn’t see, naturally. Finally, it’s hot tag Matt, and he does the bulldog/clothesline combo for two on Nitro. Yodelling elbow gets two. Way to change it up, Matt. MNM comes back with an attempt at a Snapshot, but Jeff breaks it up and they get Poetry in Motion. Another one is missed by Jeff, and Nitro cradles Matt for two. Matt comes back with the Side Effect and Twist of Fate, but Mercury takes him out. Jeff goes up, however, and finishes with the swanton bomb. (The Hardy Boyz d. MNM, Jeff Hardy swanton — pin Nitro, 15:27, ***) Pretty much a formula Hardy match, as they’ve pretty much squandered every cent they could have made out of the Hardy reunion at this point.  (2012 Scott sez:  Thankfully there was still money to be made off the Hardys in different ways.)  – Meanwhile, Edge and Orton draw their numbers for the Rumble and mock Kelly Kelly (who is an exhibitionist).  (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, whatever happened to that?) ECW “World” title: Bobby Lashley v. Test Shoving match to start and Test stomps away and chokes him down, but Lashley hits him with a t-bone suplex. Delayed vertical suplex and Test bails, but he suckers Lashley into standing the apron long enough for a trip into the post. Great, now we get to watch him try to sell. Back in, Test gets two. We go to an armbar, and you know Test means business because he cycles through his two facial expressions and gives us “Angry Test”. And we stay on the armbar for a while, as Test’s face just does not change. Did he get Botox done or something? I mean, sure, he’s expanded his range of emotion by 100%, but geez. Lashley backdrops him and follows with a corner clothesline and some shoulderblocks in the corner, but his arm gives out on a press-slam attempt. Big boot from Test gets two, and it’s ANGRY TEST again. F5 is escaped by Lashley, and he clotheslines Test to the floor (causing him to shift facial expressions to “Confused and/or Injured Test”) and Test walks out on the match. Countout finishes are EXTREME! (Lashley d. Test, countout, 7:10, 1/2*) Well that was pretty fucking lame. Nothing like a match where no one gets over and the fans boo both guys. Lashley destroys Test afterwards to complete the burial.  (2012 Scott sez:  Sorry, Andrew.  RIP) – Meanwhile, Vince wants John Cena to lose. And John’s injured too. Uh oh, he’s facing impossible odds! He can’t possibly win, can he?  (2012 Scott sez:  Nope.)  Smackdown World title: Batista v. Mr. Kennedy Frankly I’m surprised that no one has brought up the weird coincidence of a guy named “Batista” fighting a guy named “Kennedy”. It’s a political allegory and they didn’t even realize it. Look for Batista to get beaten by a guy named Castro next time they do a tour of Cuba, I guess. JBL notes that the fans are on their feet because they get to see a World title match, which is a rarity. On a show with THREE OF THEM. Well, he’s trying. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s unfair.  The ECW title wasn’t really a World title.)  Kennedy slugs away to start and gets a rollup for two. Batista is all in his face and stuff, so Kennedy hammers away until Batista slugs back. Suplex gets two for Batista. They fight out of the ring and do nothing, and back in for more punching from Dave. Kennedy goes to the knee, however, and starts working on it. Somehow that gets two. Kennedy wraps him up in a reverse figure-four, but he uses the ropes and gets caught. Back to the knee as Kennedy is apparently suffering a nosebleed. Lay off the yayo, Ken. (2012 Scott sez:  We never did find out why he got fired…) Running boot in the corner gets two. Kennedy goes to a half-crab, but Batista counters to a small package for two. He tries a powerslam, but Kennedy sneaks out and clips him. He walks into a spinebuster, but Batista can’t cover. He fights back and no-sells some stuff, getting a standing backdrop and corner clothesline. Awkward slam and Regal Roll cues the comeback, but Kennedy hits the knee again to block the Batista Bomb. Ref is bumped, but Kennedy gets a DDT for two. The crowd actually starts chanting for Kennedy, but he goes up and lands on a Batista clothesline. Batista Bomb ends it. (Batista d. Mr. Kennedy, Batista Bomb — pin, 10:24, **) Not bad, actually, which is a pleasant surprise given how how much of a shitty non-roll Batista has been since the comeback. They kept it basic and short and thus Batista was exposed less than usual. I wouldn’t bring it home to marry my daughter or anything, but it didn’t make me want to rip my own arm off, so huzzah.  (2012 Scott sez:  That Undertaker match was a major turnaround for Big Dave, actually.)  – Meanwhile, the Little Bastard meets The Great Khali. Hilarity ensues and Ron Simmons says “Damn”. – Speaking of hilarity, intentional or not, The Marine comes out on Tuesday, you know.  (2012 Scott sez:  Still one of the only movies to make money for WWE Films, oddly enough.)  – Wrestlemania 23: 63 days away. Maybe by then they’ll have a direction for the main event.  (2012 Scott sez:  Barely.)  RAW World title: John Cena v. Umaga, Last Man Standing Cena is wearing the DDP rib tape tonight. Gee, I wonder what the story of the match will be? They slug it out and Cena gets a jawbreaker, but Umaga hits him in the ribs and Cena bails. Pussy. Umaga slugs him off the apron and sends him into the steps, but sadly he’s not coughing up blood yet. C’mon, John, be a man and bite down on that condom full of red liquid! They down the aisle and Cena brings him back to ringside, but he forgets the first rule of wrestling: Samoans have hard heads. Well, maybe not the FIRST rule of wrestling, but it’s up there. Back in, Umaga headbutts him down and kicks him in the ribs again, and Cena keeps trying to run away, like little boys from Rob Feinstein… …allegedly.  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s unfair.  He was trying to pick up an undercover officer playing a TEENAGED boy… …allegedly.)  Umaga lays him out with the clothesline, but Cena , fearing for his merchandising cut, makes it up at 7. Umaga gets the stairs as Cena beats another count and then recovers the stairs himself and tosses them at Umaga to knock him out. Oh, what a role model, using the stairs as a weapon. What a jerk. Umaga beats the count and goes back to the ribs, via a bearhug, but then stops and grabs another set of stairs. Well, Cena deserves it for using them the last time. They get set up in the corner and Cena sits against them, but the RUNNING ASS OF DEATH misses and Cena uses the stairs again. Umaga answers the count at 7. Cena goes up, but gets caught in a uranage on the way down. Hah, serves him right. Umaga goes back to the ribs, but Cena kicks him in the nuts to stop him. Just can’t fight fair, can you? Blue Thunder bomb on the stairs and both guys are down, but Cena is up first, probably by some sort of illegal supplement, and the F-U on the stairs follows. Cena, however, hits his head on the way down, showing that poor sportsmanship is never rewarded. Except in real life. Cena starts bleeding to go along with the taped ribs, and now the crowd catches onto his bad attitude and starts telling him that he sucks. Umaga slugs him down, but John fights up again. I’d test the blood dripping off his face for drugs if I was them. Cena, obviously high on goofballs, hulks up, but Umaga hits him with a samoan drop. This sets up the THUMB OF DEATH, but Cena blocks it. Umaga hangs him in the Tree of Woe, but Cena dodges a charging Umaga and goes up with a top rope legdrop, then cheats again by sending him into the post. Just to really hammer home what a dirty cheat he is, he uses a monitor, thus adding destruction of private property to his list of transgressions tonight, but Umaga is up at 8. Man, the WWE is gonna be screwed if they ever switch to LCD monitors like the rest of the world. Cena comes off the apron, but Umaga sends him into the post and it’s onto the ECW table. Umaga preps all of the announce tables, and then charges across all of them, before missing and belly-flopping through the ECW one. Now that was unique. Umaga is up at 9, however. Estrada undoes a turnbuckle while Umaga recovers and heads back in. So the entire top rope is dislodged, which seems a bit involved when just giving him the WRENCH would have sufficed just as well. Umaga, of course, misses his big chance, and Cena uses the loose rope to choke him out like the no-good cheat that he is. Umaga pops right up again, so Cena chokes him out again, adding attempted murder to his rap sheet tonight. (John Cena d. Umaga, STFU — knockout, 22:40, ****) Oh, sure, Cena won, but at what cost? His SOUL? The lives of kids everywhere who idolize this cheating maniac? For SHAME, WWE. OK, the match was pretty cool, though. (2012 Scott sez:  This was the start of the period where it was obvious that Cena could get good stuff out of a lot of people.) – That commercial with the little kids is pretty creepy. – Meanwhile, Ric Flair draws his number and dances with random chicks. Uh, OK. Royal Rumble: 90 second intervals this year, which should work out well, time-wise. So Ric Flair draws #1 for the second time in his career, and Finlay is #2. This should be interesting, actually. Finlay gives him a drubbing in the corner and tries to get him out, but Kenny is #3 and he of course goes after Ric. Finlay kind of hangs back and takes his shots as they come. Matt Hardy is #4, working twice tonight. Side Effect for Kenny, but he can’t toss him. Kenny and Finlay go back to working Flair over, and Edge is #5. Spears for all! Matt hits him with the Twist of Fate to stop the path of rage, and everyone is out. Flair decides to get a chair, but Edge tosses him. Well, that went about as bad as it could for him. Kenny celebrates, so Edge turns on him and dumps him. Ha! Serves him right for taking credit for other’s work. Tommy Dreamer is #6 and goes after Edge, dropkicking him in the Tree of Woe before getting taken down by Finlay. Edge and Matt continue like private war, and Sabu is #7. It’s table time already. He sets one up at ringside and heads in to pound on Dreamer. Gregory Helms is #8 and goes after Matt, as Sabu almost gets Finlay out and then chokes him down instead. Not much going on and Shelton Benjamin is #9. He can’t throw either Matt or Helms through the table at ringside. Nor can Finlay. That table had better be setting up a really big spot later given this buildup. Kane is #10 and everyone panics, rightfully so because Kane starts hitting people unimpeded. Goodnight, Dreamer! So long, Sabu! Kane chokeslams him through the table to pay it off. Could’ve been better. CM Punk is #11, and immediately gets pounded by Finlay. So much for his push. (2012 Scott sez:  He’ll probably do OK for himself.)  King Booker is #12 and Helms is gone as a result. Super Crazy is #13, and I’m sure that won’t make much of a dent. Kane beats on him right away, and some other people for good measure. Jeff Hardy is #14 and teams with Matt against Finlay, and then against Edge and Crazy. They even get Poetry in Motion on Kane, and Sandman is #15. He canes some people…and gets tossed by Booker 10 seconds into his appearance. Well that was a letdown. Hardy gets tossed by Finlay, but skins the cat back in. Same deal with Punk. Randy Orton is #16, as the ring is getting too full. The champs team up to get rid of Crazy.  (2012 Scott sez:  I’d be referring to Rated RKO there, right?) They go after Matt, and when Jeff tries to save they dump him. And then Matt, just to rub it in. That’s a little better. Chris Benoit is #17, and he’s chop crazy! Finlay eats a german suplex as Punk hangs on for his life. Finally Finlay clobbers him to slow him down, but can’t get him out. Rob Van Dam is #18, and he kicks lots of people. Kane uses that advantage to toss King Booker, thus ending his dream of a rematch. Booker doesn’t take it well and eliminates Kane in retribution. Well, there’s a feud for you. (2012 Scott sez:  Not so much.)  Viscera is #19 and he goes after Edge, and it’s a lot of kicking and punching. Johnny Nitro is #20, and gets nowhere fast. Much like this match. Kevin Thorn is #21 and does nothing. (2012 Scott sez:  They were actually ahead of the curve with the vampire stuff.  A character based on Erik Northman might actually work now if they could get the dreamy Swedish hunk to play it.)  RVD goes after Viscera, but can’t get him out alone. Hardcore Holly is #22 as we’re really into the doldrums now. Kick, punch, choke. There’s just nothing going on, and there’s too many people in the ring. Finally everyone gets smart and goes after Viscera as Shawn Michaels is #23. He goes after Finlay for whatever reason and dumps him, ending his 30 minute run. Superkick for Vis, and that’s what everyone needs to get him out. Shelton charges at Shawn and goes bye-bye. Chris Masters is #24. I’m sure they’re all shaking. Nitro gets tossed, didn’t catch why. Replay shows that Benoit knocked him off the top rope. People who go up the ropes in Rumbles are idiots. (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t forget people who dance!  They’re stupid too!)  Team RKO works on Shawn in the corner as Chavo Guerrero is #25. Benoit powers Thorn out on the ropes, which is one of the rare times you see someone actually fighting for the elimination like that and getting it. MVP is #26, but Benoit starts chopping him. RVD dropkicks Masters out while Orton pounds Punk on the apron, but can’t get him out. Carlito is #27, and he goes after Orton & Edge. RVD nearly gets Michaels out, but Holly makes the save. Great Khali is #28, and at least he’ll probably toss some people out. Everyone stops and readies themselves for him, but he fights off everyone. It’s the Elephant’s Graveyard out there as he lays out the whole pack, and Miz is #29. Khali tosses him, thankfully. Benoit is gone, Holly is gone, Punk is gone, RVD is gone, Carlito is gone, Chavo is gone. Is there no stopping the path of suck? Undertaker is #30, the one time I’m glad to see him. Taker fires away on Khali , and clotheslines him out. MVP, odd man out in the main eventer mix left, is quickly dealt with by Undertaker. Final four: Undertaker, Edge, Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels. So really anyone can win. Orton gets a chair and lays Taker out, but Edge sets up for a spear. Whoops, awkward. Shawn interrupts the argument between the champs, but takes an RKO as a result. Rated RKO goes after Undertaker and pounds him down, but he fights back. Corner clotheslines for both of them and he clotheslines both at the same time. Snake Eyes for Edge and big boot, and Orton is about to be chokeslammed before Edge spears Taker to save. A rather nasty chairshot puts Taker down again. Edge gets another chair and sets up the concerto, but Shawn recovers and dumps Orton, then superkicks Edge out of the match. So we’re down to Shawn and Undertaker, as I’ve apparently set my alarm clock for 10 years ago and not realized it. Shawn slugs away in the corner, but Taker fires back and nearly punches him out of the ring. When Melodramatic Selling Goes Bad. Shawn takes another overblown bump in the corner and gets hung up, but Taker charges and lands on the apron himself. Shawn charges and hits elbow, however. Back in, Shawn gets a neckbreaker and they slug it out, selling it like death after only being in the ring for like 10 minutes combined. Shawn ends up on the apron during a suplex attempt, but tries to go up and gets slugged down. Both guys fight on the top, but Taker goes down first, and Shawn follows with the flying elbow. Superkick is caught by Taker, and it’s chokeslam city. Taker goes for the tombstone, but Shawn escapes and superkicks him. Another try is blocked, however, and Taker dumps him to win the Royal Rumble for the first time, and also becomes the first person to win at #30. And….the crowd is pissed. Wow, that was a pretty gutsy finish. (2012 Scott sez:  Seems like Undertaker and Shawn might want to have a match or two at Wrestlemania to settle things.)  (Undertaker wins Royal Rumble, 56:31, ***1/4) The main body of the match was boring as hell, but the finishing sequence once Khali got in was spectacular, until they totally blew the big underdog win. This one just totally sucked the life out of the crowd. Just an average Rumble match overall. The Pulse: Well, the Rumble match mostly delivered, as the drama was good once you had no idea who was going to win it, and the Cena-Umaga match was a hell of a brawl, so it’s good enough for a mild thumbs up, but Batista-Undertaker is going to be a real mess unless they go with the more intriguing Cena-Undertaker matchup instead.  (2012 Scott sez:  Batista-Undertaker ended up just fine, thank you very much.  You know what’s crazy about this show, though?  This is only 5 years ago, and look at all the major players who are now either retired, dead, or moved on:  Batista, Michaels, Benoit, Umaga, Kennedy, Test, Lashley, The Hardy Boyz and Edge all gone for one reason or another.  That’s a HUGE chunk of star power that’s been cycled out with no real replacements aside from CM Punk and maybe Alberto Del Rio.  No wonder the product is so stale now.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2007

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2007 (2012 Scott sez:  I’ll take “Shows I Don’t Remember A Damn Thing About” for $200, Alex.)  – Live from San Antonio, TX – Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, JBL, Joey Styles & Tazz.The Hardy Boyz v. MNM (2012 Scott sez:  Interesting how John Morrison did such a complete reinvention of himself that no one remembers his time with MNM.)  Matt gets suckered into the MNM corner to start, and Mercury pounds him on the mat. Matt fights back after a double-team and brings in Jeff, who comes in with a mule kick for two. Nitro comes in and gets legdropped for two. Double-team by the Hardyz and Matt suplexes Mercury to get rid of him for the moment, and a neckbreaker on Nitro gets two. They go to the injured face of Matt, however, and work it over, which is certainly unique psychology. Mercury kicks him in the face and Nitro gets two. Mercury keeps slugging at the face and gets a hard clothesline for two. Finally Mercury misses a splash and Jeff comes in again. Front suplex gets two on Nitro. Whisper in the Wind gets two. The Hardyz double-team Nitro with a suplex and both head up, but it’s mixed news as Jeff hits Nitro’s knees and Matt gets his legdrop. That’s pretty unique — I’ve never actually seen a spot done like that before. And so, Jeff is YOUR raver-in-peril, as Jeff gets taken into the corner and Nitro charges in with a running knee for two. Jeff’s ribs appear to be hurt, so that’s what they go for. Double-team from MNM gets two. Jeff rolls up Mercury for two, but Mercury pounds on the ribs again to keep him down. MNM with the double gutbuster for two, but Matt breaks it up. Nitro goes to a bodyscissors, but Jeff fights out and makes the tag…which the ref doesn’t see, naturally. Finally, it’s hot tag Matt, and he does the bulldog/clothesline combo for two on Nitro. Yodelling elbow gets two. Way to change it up, Matt. MNM comes back with an attempt at a Snapshot, but Jeff breaks it up and they get Poetry in Motion. Another one is missed by Jeff, and Nitro cradles Matt for two. Matt comes back with the Side Effect and Twist of Fate, but Mercury takes him out. Jeff goes up, however, and finishes with the swanton bomb. (The Hardy Boyz d. MNM, Jeff Hardy swanton — pin Nitro, 15:27, ***) Pretty much a formula Hardy match, as they’ve pretty much squandered every cent they could have made out of the Hardy reunion at this point.  (2012 Scott sez:  Thankfully there was still money to be made off the Hardys in different ways.)  – Meanwhile, Edge and Orton draw their numbers for the Rumble and mock Kelly Kelly (who is an exhibitionist).  (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, whatever happened to that?) ECW “World” title: Bobby Lashley v. Test Shoving match to start and Test stomps away and chokes him down, but Lashley hits him with a t-bone suplex. Delayed vertical suplex and Test bails, but he suckers Lashley into standing the apron long enough for a trip into the post. Great, now we get to watch him try to sell. Back in, Test gets two. We go to an armbar, and you know Test means business because he cycles through his two facial expressions and gives us “Angry Test”. And we stay on the armbar for a while, as Test’s face just does not change. Did he get Botox done or something? I mean, sure, he’s expanded his range of emotion by 100%, but geez. Lashley backdrops him and follows with a corner clothesline and some shoulderblocks in the corner, but his arm gives out on a press-slam attempt. Big boot from Test gets two, and it’s ANGRY TEST again. F5 is escaped by Lashley, and he clotheslines Test to the floor (causing him to shift facial expressions to “Confused and/or Injured Test”) and Test walks out on the match. Countout finishes are EXTREME! (Lashley d. Test, countout, 7:10, 1/2*) Well that was pretty fucking lame. Nothing like a match where no one gets over and the fans boo both guys. Lashley destroys Test afterwards to complete the burial.  (2012 Scott sez:  Sorry, Andrew.  RIP) – Meanwhile, Vince wants John Cena to lose. And John’s injured too. Uh oh, he’s facing impossible odds! He can’t possibly win, can he?  (2012 Scott sez:  Nope.)  Smackdown World title: Batista v. Mr. Kennedy Frankly I’m surprised that no one has brought up the weird coincidence of a guy named “Batista” fighting a guy named “Kennedy”. It’s a political allegory and they didn’t even realize it. Look for Batista to get beaten by a guy named Castro next time they do a tour of Cuba, I guess. JBL notes that the fans are on their feet because they get to see a World title match, which is a rarity. On a show with THREE OF THEM. Well, he’s trying. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s unfair.  The ECW title wasn’t really a World title.)  Kennedy slugs away to start and gets a rollup for two. Batista is all in his face and stuff, so Kennedy hammers away until Batista slugs back. Suplex gets two for Batista. They fight out of the ring and do nothing, and back in for more punching from Dave. Kennedy goes to the knee, however, and starts working on it. Somehow that gets two. Kennedy wraps him up in a reverse figure-four, but he uses the ropes and gets caught. Back to the knee as Kennedy is apparently suffering a nosebleed. Lay off the yayo, Ken. (2012 Scott sez:  We never did find out why he got fired…) Running boot in the corner gets two. Kennedy goes to a half-crab, but Batista counters to a small package for two. He tries a powerslam, but Kennedy sneaks out and clips him. He walks into a spinebuster, but Batista can’t cover. He fights back and no-sells some stuff, getting a standing backdrop and corner clothesline. Awkward slam and Regal Roll cues the comeback, but Kennedy hits the knee again to block the Batista Bomb. Ref is bumped, but Kennedy gets a DDT for two. The crowd actually starts chanting for Kennedy, but he goes up and lands on a Batista clothesline. Batista Bomb ends it. (Batista d. Mr. Kennedy, Batista Bomb — pin, 10:24, **) Not bad, actually, which is a pleasant surprise given how how much of a shitty non-roll Batista has been since the comeback. They kept it basic and short and thus Batista was exposed less than usual. I wouldn’t bring it home to marry my daughter or anything, but it didn’t make me want to rip my own arm off, so huzzah.  (2012 Scott sez:  That Undertaker match was a major turnaround for Big Dave, actually.)  – Meanwhile, the Little Bastard meets The Great Khali. Hilarity ensues and Ron Simmons says “Damn”. – Speaking of hilarity, intentional or not, The Marine comes out on Tuesday, you know.  (2012 Scott sez:  Still one of the only movies to make money for WWE Films, oddly enough.)  – Wrestlemania 23: 63 days away. Maybe by then they’ll have a direction for the main event.  (2012 Scott sez:  Barely.)  RAW World title: John Cena v. Umaga, Last Man Standing Cena is wearing the DDP rib tape tonight. Gee, I wonder what the story of the match will be? They slug it out and Cena gets a jawbreaker, but Umaga hits him in the ribs and Cena bails. Pussy. Umaga slugs him off the apron and sends him into the steps, but sadly he’s not coughing up blood yet. C’mon, John, be a man and bite down on that condom full of red liquid! They down the aisle and Cena brings him back to ringside, but he forgets the first rule of wrestling: Samoans have hard heads. Well, maybe not the FIRST rule of wrestling, but it’s up there. Back in, Umaga headbutts him down and kicks him in the ribs again, and Cena keeps trying to run away, like little boys from Rob Feinstein… …allegedly.  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s unfair.  He was trying to pick up an undercover officer playing a TEENAGED boy… …allegedly.)  Umaga lays him out with the clothesline, but Cena , fearing for his merchandising cut, makes it up at 7. Umaga gets the stairs as Cena beats another count and then recovers the stairs himself and tosses them at Umaga to knock him out. Oh, what a role model, using the stairs as a weapon. What a jerk. Umaga beats the count and goes back to the ribs, via a bearhug, but then stops and grabs another set of stairs. Well, Cena deserves it for using them the last time. They get set up in the corner and Cena sits against them, but the RUNNING ASS OF DEATH misses and Cena uses the stairs again. Umaga answers the count at 7. Cena goes up, but gets caught in a uranage on the way down. Hah, serves him right. Umaga goes back to the ribs, but Cena kicks him in the nuts to stop him. Just can’t fight fair, can you? Blue Thunder bomb on the stairs and both guys are down, but Cena is up first, probably by some sort of illegal supplement, and the F-U on the stairs follows. Cena, however, hits his head on the way down, showing that poor sportsmanship is never rewarded. Except in real life. Cena starts bleeding to go along with the taped ribs, and now the crowd catches onto his bad attitude and starts telling him that he sucks. Umaga slugs him down, but John fights up again. I’d test the blood dripping off his face for drugs if I was them. Cena, obviously high on goofballs, hulks up, but Umaga hits him with a samoan drop. This sets up the THUMB OF DEATH, but Cena blocks it. Umaga hangs him in the Tree of Woe, but Cena dodges a charging Umaga and goes up with a top rope legdrop, then cheats again by sending him into the post. Just to really hammer home what a dirty cheat he is, he uses a monitor, thus adding destruction of private property to his list of transgressions tonight, but Umaga is up at 8. Man, the WWE is gonna be screwed if they ever switch to LCD monitors like the rest of the world. Cena comes off the apron, but Umaga sends him into the post and it’s onto the ECW table. Umaga preps all of the announce tables, and then charges across all of them, before missing and belly-flopping through the ECW one. Now that was unique. Umaga is up at 9, however. Estrada undoes a turnbuckle while Umaga recovers and heads back in. So the entire top rope is dislodged, which seems a bit involved when just giving him the WRENCH would have sufficed just as well. Umaga, of course, misses his big chance, and Cena uses the loose rope to choke him out like the no-good cheat that he is. Umaga pops right up again, so Cena chokes him out again, adding attempted murder to his rap sheet tonight. (John Cena d. Umaga, STFU — knockout, 22:40, ****) Oh, sure, Cena won, but at what cost? His SOUL? The lives of kids everywhere who idolize this cheating maniac? For SHAME, WWE. OK, the match was pretty cool, though. (2012 Scott sez:  This was the start of the period where it was obvious that Cena could get good stuff out of a lot of people.) – That commercial with the little kids is pretty creepy. – Meanwhile, Ric Flair draws his number and dances with random chicks. Uh, OK. Royal Rumble: 90 second intervals this year, which should work out well, time-wise. So Ric Flair draws #1 for the second time in his career, and Finlay is #2. This should be interesting, actually. Finlay gives him a drubbing in the corner and tries to get him out, but Kenny is #3 and he of course goes after Ric. Finlay kind of hangs back and takes his shots as they come. Matt Hardy is #4, working twice tonight. Side Effect for Kenny, but he can’t toss him. Kenny and Finlay go back to working Flair over, and Edge is #5. Spears for all! Matt hits him with the Twist of Fate to stop the path of rage, and everyone is out. Flair decides to get a chair, but Edge tosses him. Well, that went about as bad as it could for him. Kenny celebrates, so Edge turns on him and dumps him. Ha! Serves him right for taking credit for other’s work. Tommy Dreamer is #6 and goes after Edge, dropkicking him in the Tree of Woe before getting taken down by Finlay. Edge and Matt continue like private war, and Sabu is #7. It’s table time already. He sets one up at ringside and heads in to pound on Dreamer. Gregory Helms is #8 and goes after Matt, as Sabu almost gets Finlay out and then chokes him down instead. Not much going on and Shelton Benjamin is #9. He can’t throw either Matt or Helms through the table at ringside. Nor can Finlay. That table had better be setting up a really big spot later given this buildup. Kane is #10 and everyone panics, rightfully so because Kane starts hitting people unimpeded. Goodnight, Dreamer! So long, Sabu! Kane chokeslams him through the table to pay it off. Could’ve been better. CM Punk is #11, and immediately gets pounded by Finlay. So much for his push. (2012 Scott sez:  He’ll probably do OK for himself.)  King Booker is #12 and Helms is gone as a result. Super Crazy is #13, and I’m sure that won’t make much of a dent. Kane beats on him right away, and some other people for good measure. Jeff Hardy is #14 and teams with Matt against Finlay, and then against Edge and Crazy. They even get Poetry in Motion on Kane, and Sandman is #15. He canes some people…and gets tossed by Booker 10 seconds into his appearance. Well that was a letdown. Hardy gets tossed by Finlay, but skins the cat back in. Same deal with Punk. Randy Orton is #16, as the ring is getting too full. The champs team up to get rid of Crazy.  (2012 Scott sez:  I’d be referring to Rated RKO there, right?) They go after Matt, and when Jeff tries to save they dump him. And then Matt, just to rub it in. That’s a little better. Chris Benoit is #17, and he’s chop crazy! Finlay eats a german suplex as Punk hangs on for his life. Finally Finlay clobbers him to slow him down, but can’t get him out. Rob Van Dam is #18, and he kicks lots of people. Kane uses that advantage to toss King Booker, thus ending his dream of a rematch. Booker doesn’t take it well and eliminates Kane in retribution. Well, there’s a feud for you. (2012 Scott sez:  Not so much.)  Viscera is #19 and he goes after Edge, and it’s a lot of kicking and punching. Johnny Nitro is #20, and gets nowhere fast. Much like this match. Kevin Thorn is #21 and does nothing. (2012 Scott sez:  They were actually ahead of the curve with the vampire stuff.  A character based on Erik Northman might actually work now if they could get the dreamy Swedish hunk to play it.)  RVD goes after Viscera, but can’t get him out alone. Hardcore Holly is #22 as we’re really into the doldrums now. Kick, punch, choke. There’s just nothing going on, and there’s too many people in the ring. Finally everyone gets smart and goes after Viscera as Shawn Michaels is #23. He goes after Finlay for whatever reason and dumps him, ending his 30 minute run. Superkick for Vis, and that’s what everyone needs to get him out. Shelton charges at Shawn and goes bye-bye. Chris Masters is #24. I’m sure they’re all shaking. Nitro gets tossed, didn’t catch why. Replay shows that Benoit knocked him off the top rope. People who go up the ropes in Rumbles are idiots. (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t forget people who dance!  They’re stupid too!)  Team RKO works on Shawn in the corner as Chavo Guerrero is #25. Benoit powers Thorn out on the ropes, which is one of the rare times you see someone actually fighting for the elimination like that and getting it. MVP is #26, but Benoit starts chopping him. RVD dropkicks Masters out while Orton pounds Punk on the apron, but can’t get him out. Carlito is #27, and he goes after Orton & Edge. RVD nearly gets Michaels out, but Holly makes the save. Great Khali is #28, and at least he’ll probably toss some people out. Everyone stops and readies themselves for him, but he fights off everyone. It’s the Elephant’s Graveyard out there as he lays out the whole pack, and Miz is #29. Khali tosses him, thankfully. Benoit is gone, Holly is gone, Punk is gone, RVD is gone, Carlito is gone, Chavo is gone. Is there no stopping the path of suck? Undertaker is #30, the one time I’m glad to see him. Taker fires away on Khali , and clotheslines him out. MVP, odd man out in the main eventer mix left, is quickly dealt with by Undertaker. Final four: Undertaker, Edge, Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels. So really anyone can win. Orton gets a chair and lays Taker out, but Edge sets up for a spear. Whoops, awkward. Shawn interrupts the argument between the champs, but takes an RKO as a result. Rated RKO goes after Undertaker and pounds him down, but he fights back. Corner clotheslines for both of them and he clotheslines both at the same time. Snake Eyes for Edge and big boot, and Orton is about to be chokeslammed before Edge spears Taker to save. A rather nasty chairshot puts Taker down again. Edge gets another chair and sets up the concerto, but Shawn recovers and dumps Orton, then superkicks Edge out of the match. So we’re down to Shawn and Undertaker, as I’ve apparently set my alarm clock for 10 years ago and not realized it. Shawn slugs away in the corner, but Taker fires back and nearly punches him out of the ring. When Melodramatic Selling Goes Bad. Shawn takes another overblown bump in the corner and gets hung up, but Taker charges and lands on the apron himself. Shawn charges and hits elbow, however. Back in, Shawn gets a neckbreaker and they slug it out, selling it like death after only being in the ring for like 10 minutes combined. Shawn ends up on the apron during a suplex attempt, but tries to go up and gets slugged down. Both guys fight on the top, but Taker goes down first, and Shawn follows with the flying elbow. Superkick is caught by Taker, and it’s chokeslam city. Taker goes for the tombstone, but Shawn escapes and superkicks him. Another try is blocked, however, and Taker dumps him to win the Royal Rumble for the first time, and also becomes the first person to win at #30. And….the crowd is pissed. Wow, that was a pretty gutsy finish. (2012 Scott sez:  Seems like Undertaker and Shawn might want to have a match or two at Wrestlemania to settle things.)  (Undertaker wins Royal Rumble, 56:31, ***1/4) The main body of the match was boring as hell, but the finishing sequence once Khali got in was spectacular, until they totally blew the big underdog win. This one just totally sucked the life out of the crowd. Just an average Rumble match overall. The Pulse: Well, the Rumble match mostly delivered, as the drama was good once you had no idea who was going to win it, and the Cena-Umaga match was a hell of a brawl, so it’s good enough for a mild thumbs up, but Batista-Undertaker is going to be a real mess unless they go with the more intriguing Cena-Undertaker matchup instead.  (2012 Scott sez:  Batista-Undertaker ended up just fine, thank you very much.  You know what’s crazy about this show, though?  This is only 5 years ago, and look at all the major players who are now either retired, dead, or moved on:  Batista, Michaels, Benoit, Umaga, Kennedy, Test, Lashley, The Hardy Boyz and Edge all gone for one reason or another.  That’s a HUGE chunk of star power that’s been cycled out with no real replacements aside from CM Punk and maybe Alberto Del Rio.  No wonder the product is so stale now.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2007

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2007 (2012 Scott sez:  I’ll take “Shows I Don’t Remember A Damn Thing About” for $200, Alex.)  – Live from San Antonio, TX – Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, JBL, Joey Styles & Tazz.The Hardy Boyz v. MNM (2012 Scott sez:  Interesting how John Morrison did such a complete reinvention of himself that no one remembers his time with MNM.)  Matt gets suckered into the MNM corner to start, and Mercury pounds him on the mat. Matt fights back after a double-team and brings in Jeff, who comes in with a mule kick for two. Nitro comes in and gets legdropped for two. Double-team by the Hardyz and Matt suplexes Mercury to get rid of him for the moment, and a neckbreaker on Nitro gets two. They go to the injured face of Matt, however, and work it over, which is certainly unique psychology. Mercury kicks him in the face and Nitro gets two. Mercury keeps slugging at the face and gets a hard clothesline for two. Finally Mercury misses a splash and Jeff comes in again. Front suplex gets two on Nitro. Whisper in the Wind gets two. The Hardyz double-team Nitro with a suplex and both head up, but it’s mixed news as Jeff hits Nitro’s knees and Matt gets his legdrop. That’s pretty unique — I’ve never actually seen a spot done like that before. And so, Jeff is YOUR raver-in-peril, as Jeff gets taken into the corner and Nitro charges in with a running knee for two. Jeff’s ribs appear to be hurt, so that’s what they go for. Double-team from MNM gets two. Jeff rolls up Mercury for two, but Mercury pounds on the ribs again to keep him down. MNM with the double gutbuster for two, but Matt breaks it up. Nitro goes to a bodyscissors, but Jeff fights out and makes the tag…which the ref doesn’t see, naturally. Finally, it’s hot tag Matt, and he does the bulldog/clothesline combo for two on Nitro. Yodelling elbow gets two. Way to change it up, Matt. MNM comes back with an attempt at a Snapshot, but Jeff breaks it up and they get Poetry in Motion. Another one is missed by Jeff, and Nitro cradles Matt for two. Matt comes back with the Side Effect and Twist of Fate, but Mercury takes him out. Jeff goes up, however, and finishes with the swanton bomb. (The Hardy Boyz d. MNM, Jeff Hardy swanton — pin Nitro, 15:27, ***) Pretty much a formula Hardy match, as they’ve pretty much squandered every cent they could have made out of the Hardy reunion at this point.  (2012 Scott sez:  Thankfully there was still money to be made off the Hardys in different ways.)  – Meanwhile, Edge and Orton draw their numbers for the Rumble and mock Kelly Kelly (who is an exhibitionist).  (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, whatever happened to that?) ECW “World” title: Bobby Lashley v. Test Shoving match to start and Test stomps away and chokes him down, but Lashley hits him with a t-bone suplex. Delayed vertical suplex and Test bails, but he suckers Lashley into standing the apron long enough for a trip into the post. Great, now we get to watch him try to sell. Back in, Test gets two. We go to an armbar, and you know Test means business because he cycles through his two facial expressions and gives us “Angry Test”. And we stay on the armbar for a while, as Test’s face just does not change. Did he get Botox done or something? I mean, sure, he’s expanded his range of emotion by 100%, but geez. Lashley backdrops him and follows with a corner clothesline and some shoulderblocks in the corner, but his arm gives out on a press-slam attempt. Big boot from Test gets two, and it’s ANGRY TEST again. F5 is escaped by Lashley, and he clotheslines Test to the floor (causing him to shift facial expressions to “Confused and/or Injured Test”) and Test walks out on the match. Countout finishes are EXTREME! (Lashley d. Test, countout, 7:10, 1/2*) Well that was pretty fucking lame. Nothing like a match where no one gets over and the fans boo both guys. Lashley destroys Test afterwards to complete the burial.  (2012 Scott sez:  Sorry, Andrew.  RIP) – Meanwhile, Vince wants John Cena to lose. And John’s injured too. Uh oh, he’s facing impossible odds! He can’t possibly win, can he?  (2012 Scott sez:  Nope.)  Smackdown World title: Batista v. Mr. Kennedy Frankly I’m surprised that no one has brought up the weird coincidence of a guy named “Batista” fighting a guy named “Kennedy”. It’s a political allegory and they didn’t even realize it. Look for Batista to get beaten by a guy named Castro next time they do a tour of Cuba, I guess. JBL notes that the fans are on their feet because they get to see a World title match, which is a rarity. On a show with THREE OF THEM. Well, he’s trying. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s unfair.  The ECW title wasn’t really a World title.)  Kennedy slugs away to start and gets a rollup for two. Batista is all in his face and stuff, so Kennedy hammers away until Batista slugs back. Suplex gets two for Batista. They fight out of the ring and do nothing, and back in for more punching from Dave. Kennedy goes to the knee, however, and starts working on it. Somehow that gets two. Kennedy wraps him up in a reverse figure-four, but he uses the ropes and gets caught. Back to the knee as Kennedy is apparently suffering a nosebleed. Lay off the yayo, Ken. (2012 Scott sez:  We never did find out why he got fired…) Running boot in the corner gets two. Kennedy goes to a half-crab, but Batista counters to a small package for two. He tries a powerslam, but Kennedy sneaks out and clips him. He walks into a spinebuster, but Batista can’t cover. He fights back and no-sells some stuff, getting a standing backdrop and corner clothesline. Awkward slam and Regal Roll cues the comeback, but Kennedy hits the knee again to block the Batista Bomb. Ref is bumped, but Kennedy gets a DDT for two. The crowd actually starts chanting for Kennedy, but he goes up and lands on a Batista clothesline. Batista Bomb ends it. (Batista d. Mr. Kennedy, Batista Bomb — pin, 10:24, **) Not bad, actually, which is a pleasant surprise given how how much of a shitty non-roll Batista has been since the comeback. They kept it basic and short and thus Batista was exposed less than usual. I wouldn’t bring it home to marry my daughter or anything, but it didn’t make me want to rip my own arm off, so huzzah.  (2012 Scott sez:  That Undertaker match was a major turnaround for Big Dave, actually.)  – Meanwhile, the Little Bastard meets The Great Khali. Hilarity ensues and Ron Simmons says “Damn”. – Speaking of hilarity, intentional or not, The Marine comes out on Tuesday, you know.  (2012 Scott sez:  Still one of the only movies to make money for WWE Films, oddly enough.)  – Wrestlemania 23: 63 days away. Maybe by then they’ll have a direction for the main event.  (2012 Scott sez:  Barely.)  RAW World title: John Cena v. Umaga, Last Man Standing Cena is wearing the DDP rib tape tonight. Gee, I wonder what the story of the match will be? They slug it out and Cena gets a jawbreaker, but Umaga hits him in the ribs and Cena bails. Pussy. Umaga slugs him off the apron and sends him into the steps, but sadly he’s not coughing up blood yet. C’mon, John, be a man and bite down on that condom full of red liquid! They down the aisle and Cena brings him back to ringside, but he forgets the first rule of wrestling: Samoans have hard heads. Well, maybe not the FIRST rule of wrestling, but it’s up there. Back in, Umaga headbutts him down and kicks him in the ribs again, and Cena keeps trying to run away, like little boys from Rob Feinstein… …allegedly.  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s unfair.  He was trying to pick up an undercover officer playing a TEENAGED boy… …allegedly.)  Umaga lays him out with the clothesline, but Cena , fearing for his merchandising cut, makes it up at 7. Umaga gets the stairs as Cena beats another count and then recovers the stairs himself and tosses them at Umaga to knock him out. Oh, what a role model, using the stairs as a weapon. What a jerk. Umaga beats the count and goes back to the ribs, via a bearhug, but then stops and grabs another set of stairs. Well, Cena deserves it for using them the last time. They get set up in the corner and Cena sits against them, but the RUNNING ASS OF DEATH misses and Cena uses the stairs again. Umaga answers the count at 7. Cena goes up, but gets caught in a uranage on the way down. Hah, serves him right. Umaga goes back to the ribs, but Cena kicks him in the nuts to stop him. Just can’t fight fair, can you? Blue Thunder bomb on the stairs and both guys are down, but Cena is up first, probably by some sort of illegal supplement, and the F-U on the stairs follows. Cena, however, hits his head on the way down, showing that poor sportsmanship is never rewarded. Except in real life. Cena starts bleeding to go along with the taped ribs, and now the crowd catches onto his bad attitude and starts telling him that he sucks. Umaga slugs him down, but John fights up again. I’d test the blood dripping off his face for drugs if I was them. Cena, obviously high on goofballs, hulks up, but Umaga hits him with a samoan drop. This sets up the THUMB OF DEATH, but Cena blocks it. Umaga hangs him in the Tree of Woe, but Cena dodges a charging Umaga and goes up with a top rope legdrop, then cheats again by sending him into the post. Just to really hammer home what a dirty cheat he is, he uses a monitor, thus adding destruction of private property to his list of transgressions tonight, but Umaga is up at 8. Man, the WWE is gonna be screwed if they ever switch to LCD monitors like the rest of the world. Cena comes off the apron, but Umaga sends him into the post and it’s onto the ECW table. Umaga preps all of the announce tables, and then charges across all of them, before missing and belly-flopping through the ECW one. Now that was unique. Umaga is up at 9, however. Estrada undoes a turnbuckle while Umaga recovers and heads back in. So the entire top rope is dislodged, which seems a bit involved when just giving him the WRENCH would have sufficed just as well. Umaga, of course, misses his big chance, and Cena uses the loose rope to choke him out like the no-good cheat that he is. Umaga pops right up again, so Cena chokes him out again, adding attempted murder to his rap sheet tonight. (John Cena d. Umaga, STFU — knockout, 22:40, ****) Oh, sure, Cena won, but at what cost? His SOUL? The lives of kids everywhere who idolize this cheating maniac? For SHAME, WWE. OK, the match was pretty cool, though. (2012 Scott sez:  This was the start of the period where it was obvious that Cena could get good stuff out of a lot of people.) – That commercial with the little kids is pretty creepy. – Meanwhile, Ric Flair draws his number and dances with random chicks. Uh, OK. Royal Rumble: 90 second intervals this year, which should work out well, time-wise. So Ric Flair draws #1 for the second time in his career, and Finlay is #2. This should be interesting, actually. Finlay gives him a drubbing in the corner and tries to get him out, but Kenny is #3 and he of course goes after Ric. Finlay kind of hangs back and takes his shots as they come. Matt Hardy is #4, working twice tonight. Side Effect for Kenny, but he can’t toss him. Kenny and Finlay go back to working Flair over, and Edge is #5. Spears for all! Matt hits him with the Twist of Fate to stop the path of rage, and everyone is out. Flair decides to get a chair, but Edge tosses him. Well, that went about as bad as it could for him. Kenny celebrates, so Edge turns on him and dumps him. Ha! Serves him right for taking credit for other’s work. Tommy Dreamer is #6 and goes after Edge, dropkicking him in the Tree of Woe before getting taken down by Finlay. Edge and Matt continue like private war, and Sabu is #7. It’s table time already. He sets one up at ringside and heads in to pound on Dreamer. Gregory Helms is #8 and goes after Matt, as Sabu almost gets Finlay out and then chokes him down instead. Not much going on and Shelton Benjamin is #9. He can’t throw either Matt or Helms through the table at ringside. Nor can Finlay. That table had better be setting up a really big spot later given this buildup. Kane is #10 and everyone panics, rightfully so because Kane starts hitting people unimpeded. Goodnight, Dreamer! So long, Sabu! Kane chokeslams him through the table to pay it off. Could’ve been better. CM Punk is #11, and immediately gets pounded by Finlay. So much for his push. (2012 Scott sez:  He’ll probably do OK for himself.)  King Booker is #12 and Helms is gone as a result. Super Crazy is #13, and I’m sure that won’t make much of a dent. Kane beats on him right away, and some other people for good measure. Jeff Hardy is #14 and teams with Matt against Finlay, and then against Edge and Crazy. They even get Poetry in Motion on Kane, and Sandman is #15. He canes some people…and gets tossed by Booker 10 seconds into his appearance. Well that was a letdown. Hardy gets tossed by Finlay, but skins the cat back in. Same deal with Punk. Randy Orton is #16, as the ring is getting too full. The champs team up to get rid of Crazy.  (2012 Scott sez:  I’d be referring to Rated RKO there, right?) They go after Matt, and when Jeff tries to save they dump him. And then Matt, just to rub it in. That’s a little better. Chris Benoit is #17, and he’s chop crazy! Finlay eats a german suplex as Punk hangs on for his life. Finally Finlay clobbers him to slow him down, but can’t get him out. Rob Van Dam is #18, and he kicks lots of people. Kane uses that advantage to toss King Booker, thus ending his dream of a rematch. Booker doesn’t take it well and eliminates Kane in retribution. Well, there’s a feud for you. (2012 Scott sez:  Not so much.)  Viscera is #19 and he goes after Edge, and it’s a lot of kicking and punching. Johnny Nitro is #20, and gets nowhere fast. Much like this match. Kevin Thorn is #21 and does nothing. (2012 Scott sez:  They were actually ahead of the curve with the vampire stuff.  A character based on Erik Northman might actually work now if they could get the dreamy Swedish hunk to play it.)  RVD goes after Viscera, but can’t get him out alone. Hardcore Holly is #22 as we’re really into the doldrums now. Kick, punch, choke. There’s just nothing going on, and there’s too many people in the ring. Finally everyone gets smart and goes after Viscera as Shawn Michaels is #23. He goes after Finlay for whatever reason and dumps him, ending his 30 minute run. Superkick for Vis, and that’s what everyone needs to get him out. Shelton charges at Shawn and goes bye-bye. Chris Masters is #24. I’m sure they’re all shaking. Nitro gets tossed, didn’t catch why. Replay shows that Benoit knocked him off the top rope. People who go up the ropes in Rumbles are idiots. (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t forget people who dance!  They’re stupid too!)  Team RKO works on Shawn in the corner as Chavo Guerrero is #25. Benoit powers Thorn out on the ropes, which is one of the rare times you see someone actually fighting for the elimination like that and getting it. MVP is #26, but Benoit starts chopping him. RVD dropkicks Masters out while Orton pounds Punk on the apron, but can’t get him out. Carlito is #27, and he goes after Orton & Edge. RVD nearly gets Michaels out, but Holly makes the save. Great Khali is #28, and at least he’ll probably toss some people out. Everyone stops and readies themselves for him, but he fights off everyone. It’s the Elephant’s Graveyard out there as he lays out the whole pack, and Miz is #29. Khali tosses him, thankfully. Benoit is gone, Holly is gone, Punk is gone, RVD is gone, Carlito is gone, Chavo is gone. Is there no stopping the path of suck? Undertaker is #30, the one time I’m glad to see him. Taker fires away on Khali , and clotheslines him out. MVP, odd man out in the main eventer mix left, is quickly dealt with by Undertaker. Final four: Undertaker, Edge, Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels. So really anyone can win. Orton gets a chair and lays Taker out, but Edge sets up for a spear. Whoops, awkward. Shawn interrupts the argument between the champs, but takes an RKO as a result. Rated RKO goes after Undertaker and pounds him down, but he fights back. Corner clotheslines for both of them and he clotheslines both at the same time. Snake Eyes for Edge and big boot, and Orton is about to be chokeslammed before Edge spears Taker to save. A rather nasty chairshot puts Taker down again. Edge gets another chair and sets up the concerto, but Shawn recovers and dumps Orton, then superkicks Edge out of the match. So we’re down to Shawn and Undertaker, as I’ve apparently set my alarm clock for 10 years ago and not realized it. Shawn slugs away in the corner, but Taker fires back and nearly punches him out of the ring. When Melodramatic Selling Goes Bad. Shawn takes another overblown bump in the corner and gets hung up, but Taker charges and lands on the apron himself. Shawn charges and hits elbow, however. Back in, Shawn gets a neckbreaker and they slug it out, selling it like death after only being in the ring for like 10 minutes combined. Shawn ends up on the apron during a suplex attempt, but tries to go up and gets slugged down. Both guys fight on the top, but Taker goes down first, and Shawn follows with the flying elbow. Superkick is caught by Taker, and it’s chokeslam city. Taker goes for the tombstone, but Shawn escapes and superkicks him. Another try is blocked, however, and Taker dumps him to win the Royal Rumble for the first time, and also becomes the first person to win at #30. And….the crowd is pissed. Wow, that was a pretty gutsy finish. (2012 Scott sez:  Seems like Undertaker and Shawn might want to have a match or two at Wrestlemania to settle things.)  (Undertaker wins Royal Rumble, 56:31, ***1/4) The main body of the match was boring as hell, but the finishing sequence once Khali got in was spectacular, until they totally blew the big underdog win. This one just totally sucked the life out of the crowd. Just an average Rumble match overall. The Pulse: Well, the Rumble match mostly delivered, as the drama was good once you had no idea who was going to win it, and the Cena-Umaga match was a hell of a brawl, so it’s good enough for a mild thumbs up, but Batista-Undertaker is going to be a real mess unless they go with the more intriguing Cena-Undertaker matchup instead.  (2012 Scott sez:  Batista-Undertaker ended up just fine, thank you very much.  You know what’s crazy about this show, though?  This is only 5 years ago, and look at all the major players who are now either retired, dead, or moved on:  Batista, Michaels, Benoit, Umaga, Kennedy, Test, Lashley, The Hardy Boyz and Edge all gone for one reason or another.  That’s a HUGE chunk of star power that’s been cycled out with no real replacements aside from CM Punk and maybe Alberto Del Rio.  No wonder the product is so stale now.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2006

(2012 Scott sez:  I saw this one live in the theatre at the time, but didn’t do this rant on it until a couple of years later.  So there’s not likely to be much in the way of extra comments here, sorry.)  The SmarK Retro Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2006 – Live from Miami, FL. – Your hosts are Joey & King & Tazz & ColeCruiserweight Texas Tornado open: Kid Kash v. Funaki v. Jamie Noble v. Nunzio v. Paul London v. Gregory Helms I don’t even remember Kash as champion, but then I was paying very little attention at this point anyway. Everyone gangs up on Helms because he was apparently from RAW at this point, and guys trade highspots. Noble with a powerslam on Nunzio into an armbreaker, and London dropkicks Helms and lands on Noble for two. London tries a headscissors on Helms in the corner, but gets dumped, and Nunzio hits the Sicilian Slice on Helms for two. Kash dumps Nunzio onto a couple of guys, but Noble hits him with a leg lariat for two. Noble adds to the pile outside, leaving Funaki and Kash in the ring, but Kash tosses Funaki as well. London sneaks in and superkicks Kash out, then hits everyone with the shooting star press to the floor. Back in, Helms hits London with a neckbreaker from the top, but Kash breaks up the pin. Kash with a brainbuster on London for two, and a backstabber on Nunzio for two. Noble with an exploding gutbuster on Funaki and into the dragon sleeper, but Helms breaks it up, hits the Shining Wizard on Funaki, and wins the title at 7:38. Messy but fun. *** Meanwhile, Randy Orton and HHH draw numbers for the Rumble, and HHH gets the worst of it. Meanwhile, Mickie James just wants Trish Stratus to know that she loves her. Well, who doesn’t? Mickie James v. Ashley Massaro God, I forgot about the “spunky tomboy” image when they were still pushing Ashley down our throats. Mickie was very much the lesbian stalker at this point, which was tremendous, and Trish is the special referee with a very special referee outfit. When Trish wears tiny shorts, it works. When Shawn Michaels does, not so much. They do a silly lockup battle to the floor, and back in Ashley gets a rollup for two. Mickey gets frustrated and bails, so Ashley follows with a shitty clothesline from the apron. Back in, Ashley hammers away in the corner with ridiculously unconvincing punches, but James nails her from behind and works on the leg. Mickie dumps Ashley and follows with a baseball slide. Back in, a fisherman’s suplex gets two. Ashley comes back with horrifying punches, which actually leads Joey Styles to be forced into saying “she’s got a great right hand.” Jim Ross used to say that about jobber Bob Cook and you at least believed it. Ashley is no Bob Cook. This just keeps GOING and getting worse as Ashley makes her pathetic comeback, but Mickey rolls her up in the corner for the pin at 7:44. And Ashley can’t even do THAT right! 1/2* Even the crowd had turned on Ashley by the end of this.  (2012 Scott sez:  On the bright side, at least now women aren’t hired because of their willingness to do Playboy.)  Meanwhile, Big Show draws his number, although his hand is too big to fit in the drum and Candace has to help him. Rey also draws after dedicating the match to Eddie Guerrero, and apparently Eddie still has a sense of humor. JBL v. The Boogeyman JBL lets the Boogeyman have his way with Jillian Hall to distract him and then attacks, and they fight to the floor. Boogey no-sells most of it and they head back in, where JBL chokes him out with the wrist tape. Clothesline from Hell misses and Boogey finishes with the pumphandle slam at 1:47. WTF was that? DUD Meanwhile, Vince meets Shelton Benjamin’s mama in a hilarious bit of hilarity. There’s another angle that went nowhere. Royal Rumble: HHH is #1, and Rey Mysterio is #2. Rey dominates and hammers away in the corner, but 619 is interrupted by Simon Dean at #3. (2012 Scott sez:  That loser gimmick stuck around for a whole YEAR?!) Simon tries to toss Rey with no luck, but HHH lays him out and gets rid of him at 2:36. Rey goes back to beating on HHH again and gets the broncobuster, but Psicosis is #4. I still can’t believe that “Mexicools” was a real thing. Psi and Rey team up on HHH, but Psi turns on him and hits him with a uranage faceplant. He tries to put him out with a powerbomb, but Rey reverses and eliminates him at 4:50 with a rana. Ric Flair is #5 and that’s an immediate showdown with HHH. Flair chops away and gets a backdrop out of the corner, but walks into the facecrusher. Flair responds with a ballcrusher, however, so HHH goes to the eyes and then backdrops a charging Flair out at 6:48. Big Show is #6 and he hates HHH as well, for reasons I don’t remember these long 4 years later. But Michael Cole assures me that a sledgehammer was involved, so I’m sure it was very memorable and awesome. Show pounds on HHH in the corner and gets a sideslam, then teases throwing him out before slamming him instead. Coach is #7. And he’s out at 9:38. (2012 Scott sez:  That should have been the extent of his involvement in the 2005 Rumble.)  Show again teases slamming HHH out of the ring and then doesn’t. He chokeslams HHH and Bobby Lashley is #8. He slugs it out with Big Show and gets a backdrop, then boots him out of the ring. Under the ropes, though. Kane is #9 and he slugs it out with Lashley and then puts him down with a big boot. Lashley suplexes him in return and hits him with the Dominator, and everyone is out as Sylvan Grenier is #10. I don’t remember him as a single either. Lashley chucks him at 14:55, but turns around into a double chokeslam from Kane & Show, and he’s out at 15:19. Kane and Show melt down and slug it out, and apparently they were tag champs at this point, which I vaguely remember but I don’t remember how they got the belts off them.  (2012 Scott sez:  That would be via the Spirit Squad, I believe.)  They choke each other on the ropes, and HHH smartly dumps them both at 16:28. Carlito is #11 and he goes after Rey and then HHH, and hits Rey with the backstabber. He fights off HHH long enough for Chris Benoit to be #12. Apparently he won the Rumble in 2004 and then went on to win the belt at Wrestlemania, but I can’t find that anywhere on WWE.com. Michael Cole is such a liar. Benoit suplexes the shit out of everyone and makes Carlito tap to a crossface, but that of course means nothing. HHH breaks it up and tries to suplex Benoit out, and they fight for the suplex in a good sequence until HHH puts him on the top and Benoit comes in with the diving headbutt as a result. Booker T is #13 and goes right for Benoit, but gets tossed at 21:39 as a result. So Benoit goes back to beating on HHH as Mercury is #14. I have to say, there’s a lot of Wellness violations in that ring right now. (2012 Scott sez:  Well technically HHH isn’t eligible to be tested, but point taken) Mercury does pretty well for himself, but Benoit hits him with a suplex to stop the rampage. Not much going on and Tatanka is #15. This was a weird surprise entry, and he actually stuck around for a while for reasons I can’t fathom. He chops away on some people as I wait for the chop showdown with Benoit, but it’s not coming. Benoit’s dedication to annoying HHH is nice to see. Nitro is #16, and now with MNM at full force I don’t think anything can stop them. MNM teams up on Tatanka while Carlito tries to get Rey out without success. Trevor Murdoch is #17 and we get another elimination tease from Rey, this time via HHH. Eugene is #18 and he goes right for Murdoch with an airplane spin, but makes himself dizzy and gets laid out by a Rey bulldog. Animal is #19, once again showing that nostalgia + nepotism = a powerful combination. (2012 Scott sez:  Frankly I’m shocked that they haven’t put Animal back on TV to heat up the Big Johnny stuff.)  Way too much deadwood in there now and even the announcers are complaining that we need to clear things out. RVD is #20 and that should help. And indeed he runs wild, dumping Animal at 34:12, before Orlando Jordan is #21. His reaction is almost as big as the one he got on TNA Impact. But that might have just been the pedophiles in the crowd, I’m not sure. Does NAMBLA have a Miami chapter? Chavo is #22, but really Eddie can’t bless TWO people in the match, because he goes up and HHH sends him to the floor at 37:20. Obviously the dead understand the concept of midcarders, too. Matt Hardy is #23 as Rey & RVD team up on HHH but can’t get rid of him. Tatanka is gone at 39:15 via MNM, and Super Crazy is #24. Finally some star power, as Shawn Michaels is #25 and will hopefully clean house. He pulls Murdoch out at 42:01, but then gets sucked into the Bore Zone like everyone else. Chris Masters is #26, back when people still saw him as someone worth protecting. Hardy and HHH try to eliminate each other with no luck, and Viscera is #27. He squashes Matt Hardy and violates him, then tosses him at 45:40. Geez, raped and thrown out of the ring, there’s no justice.  (2012 Scott sez:  If he does go to jail, he’ll at least have some practice.)  Shelton (and Mama) are #28 as Benoit tosses Eugene at 46:22. And yet Orlando Jordan is still in there wasting our time. Doesn’t he have an underage boy to statutorily rape? (2012 Scott sez:  Allegedly.)  Goldust is #29 as the 90s nostalgia parade continues with little payoff. Randy Orton is #30, back when he still had hair, untattooed skin and body fat. He quickly powers Benoit out at 49:19 and hits Vis with an RKO, which allows Masters and Carlito to dump him at 49:51. Carlito turns on Masters at 49:55 to get rid of him. Goldust gives Carlito Shattered Nuts and then takes an awkward bump out from an RVD kick at 50:40. Orton puts OJ out at 51:03. Shawn and HHH have their showdown, but MNM attacks HBK. Shawn gets rid of them both at 52:29, however. Shelton lays him out with a high kick, but gets superkicked off the apron at 53:03. Those two had some mad chemistry together. So now Vince comes out to further his nonsensical feud with Shawn, distracting him long enough for Shane to come in and put Shawn out at 54:08. (2012 Scott sez:  You know, as entertaining as the WM match and ensuing feud with DX turned out, I still have no earthly idea what they were even fighting ABOUT.  Like, can someone sum up in a sentence what the issue was?) Shawn gets a superkick on HHH before leaving, though. Carlito beats on RVD and gets kicked out at 55:23, so… Final Four: Rob Van Dam, HHH, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio. At that time there was a real case to made for any of them to win. Except for RVD. Rey and Rob reunite their team and destroy the former Evolution, but RVD goes up and gets knocked off at 56:51 by Rey, accidentally. Like I said, anyone except for RVD could win. HHH and Orton wisely team up against Rey, but he hits them with a double DDT and gets them both in 619 position, then hits it and follows with the senton on Orton. HHH lays him out with a clothesline right after, but Orton powerslams HHH. He sets up for the RKO, but walks into a spinebuster instead. HHH goes after Rey…and gets flipped out at 60:04. So we’re down to Orton v. Rey now, but sore loser HHH sends Rey into the stairs to seemingly assure victory for Orton. Orton tries to slam Rey out, but Rey hangs on and wins the Royal Rumble at 62:00. I really liked the storyline with HHH trying to be 1992 Ric Flair, but then it fell into the usual Rumble trap of piling midcarders in there and grinding it to a halt without a payoff. ***1/2 RAW World title: Edge v. John Cena This is their first “real” match in a series that currently sits at 300,000 and counting. Cena pounds Edge and gets a clothesline to put him on the floor, but Edge pulls him out for a quick brawl. Back in, Cena with a sideslam for two. Edge bails and hides behind Lita (at her hot slutty mess peak here), but Cena of course won’t hit a woman and Edge gets the cheapshot. He follows with a baseball slide to put Cena into the front row. Back in, Edge pounds away with knees on the ropes and chokes him down. They slug it out and Edge gets a leg lariat for two and follows with a german suplex, then puts him down with a standing dropkick and out to the floor. Back in, Edge with a missile dropkick for two. They fight for a superplex and Cena sends Edge to the mat and follows with the legdrop for one. Edge charges into the corner and Cena almost gets an FU, but Cena reverses to a rollup for two. Edge puts him down with a big boot and goes up again, but Cena rolls through a bodypress and gets two. Edge with a sleeper, but Cena powers him into the corner to break. Edge sets up for the spear instead, but hits the turnbuckle and walks into a Cena DDT for the double KO. That’s not what this match needed. Cena makes the comeback with the backdrop suplex and Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Lita has the ref distracted. Probably with her awesome rack. (2012 Scott sez:  Even age and an arrest record can’t take that away.)  FU and STFU finishes at 14:00 to give Cena the title back, however. They’d have awesome matches in the future, but this wasn’t one of them, as it was ultra generic heel offense from Edge and basically just a way to get the belt back on Cena. **3/4 Meanwhile, Josh Matthews or Todd Grisham or whichever one he is calls Edge a “transitional champion”, showing that he has no idea what that term means. Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Mark Henry Yeah, this gets the main event slot. Mark Henry has Daivari with him in another angle that I don’t remember and probably went nowhere. Angle slugs away on Henry, but tries a bodypress and gets dumped. Back in, Angle tries a facelock and gets dropped on the top rope as a result. Henry with the big splash for two. Cole gets really excited about that. It’s a fucking big splash, Cole. Henry goes to the bearhug to really ramp up the pace, but Angle hiptosses out of it. He goes up and gets caught again, but slips into an anklelock attempt. Henry pounds him down with the clubbing forearms, but Angle pulls out a german suplex and the Angle slam for two. Anklelock, but the ref is bumped. Angle gets rid of Daivari with a chairshot and goes low on Henry. Two chairshots get two. Oh come on. No one gives a shit about Henry, just end it. Angle undoes a turnbuckle, sends Henry into it, and rolls him up to retain at 9:19. Pretty terrible even by Angle’s declining standards that year. * Undertaker returns to close the show, destroying the ring with his mystical powers (no, really) and setting up a pretty great main event against Angle the next month.  (2012 Scott sez:  I definitely did not see myself turning into a supporter of Mark Henry years later, but here we are.)  The Pulse This is definitely one of the weakest and most forgettable Rumble cards top-to-bottom, setting up a weak and forgettable Wrestlemania in turn. Recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2006

(2012 Scott sez:  I saw this one live in the theatre at the time, but didn’t do this rant on it until a couple of years later.  So there’s not likely to be much in the way of extra comments here, sorry.)  The SmarK Retro Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2006 – Live from Miami, FL. – Your hosts are Joey & King & Tazz & ColeCruiserweight Texas Tornado open: Kid Kash v. Funaki v. Jamie Noble v. Nunzio v. Paul London v. Gregory Helms I don’t even remember Kash as champion, but then I was paying very little attention at this point anyway. Everyone gangs up on Helms because he was apparently from RAW at this point, and guys trade highspots. Noble with a powerslam on Nunzio into an armbreaker, and London dropkicks Helms and lands on Noble for two. London tries a headscissors on Helms in the corner, but gets dumped, and Nunzio hits the Sicilian Slice on Helms for two. Kash dumps Nunzio onto a couple of guys, but Noble hits him with a leg lariat for two. Noble adds to the pile outside, leaving Funaki and Kash in the ring, but Kash tosses Funaki as well. London sneaks in and superkicks Kash out, then hits everyone with the shooting star press to the floor. Back in, Helms hits London with a neckbreaker from the top, but Kash breaks up the pin. Kash with a brainbuster on London for two, and a backstabber on Nunzio for two. Noble with an exploding gutbuster on Funaki and into the dragon sleeper, but Helms breaks it up, hits the Shining Wizard on Funaki, and wins the title at 7:38. Messy but fun. *** Meanwhile, Randy Orton and HHH draw numbers for the Rumble, and HHH gets the worst of it. Meanwhile, Mickie James just wants Trish Stratus to know that she loves her. Well, who doesn’t? Mickie James v. Ashley Massaro God, I forgot about the “spunky tomboy” image when they were still pushing Ashley down our throats. Mickie was very much the lesbian stalker at this point, which was tremendous, and Trish is the special referee with a very special referee outfit. When Trish wears tiny shorts, it works. When Shawn Michaels does, not so much. They do a silly lockup battle to the floor, and back in Ashley gets a rollup for two. Mickey gets frustrated and bails, so Ashley follows with a shitty clothesline from the apron. Back in, Ashley hammers away in the corner with ridiculously unconvincing punches, but James nails her from behind and works on the leg. Mickie dumps Ashley and follows with a baseball slide. Back in, a fisherman’s suplex gets two. Ashley comes back with horrifying punches, which actually leads Joey Styles to be forced into saying “she’s got a great right hand.” Jim Ross used to say that about jobber Bob Cook and you at least believed it. Ashley is no Bob Cook. This just keeps GOING and getting worse as Ashley makes her pathetic comeback, but Mickey rolls her up in the corner for the pin at 7:44. And Ashley can’t even do THAT right! 1/2* Even the crowd had turned on Ashley by the end of this.  (2012 Scott sez:  On the bright side, at least now women aren’t hired because of their willingness to do Playboy.)  Meanwhile, Big Show draws his number, although his hand is too big to fit in the drum and Candace has to help him. Rey also draws after dedicating the match to Eddie Guerrero, and apparently Eddie still has a sense of humor. JBL v. The Boogeyman JBL lets the Boogeyman have his way with Jillian Hall to distract him and then attacks, and they fight to the floor. Boogey no-sells most of it and they head back in, where JBL chokes him out with the wrist tape. Clothesline from Hell misses and Boogey finishes with the pumphandle slam at 1:47. WTF was that? DUD Meanwhile, Vince meets Shelton Benjamin’s mama in a hilarious bit of hilarity. There’s another angle that went nowhere. Royal Rumble: HHH is #1, and Rey Mysterio is #2. Rey dominates and hammers away in the corner, but 619 is interrupted by Simon Dean at #3. (2012 Scott sez:  That loser gimmick stuck around for a whole YEAR?!) Simon tries to toss Rey with no luck, but HHH lays him out and gets rid of him at 2:36. Rey goes back to beating on HHH again and gets the broncobuster, but Psicosis is #4. I still can’t believe that “Mexicools” was a real thing. Psi and Rey team up on HHH, but Psi turns on him and hits him with a uranage faceplant. He tries to put him out with a powerbomb, but Rey reverses and eliminates him at 4:50 with a rana. Ric Flair is #5 and that’s an immediate showdown with HHH. Flair chops away and gets a backdrop out of the corner, but walks into the facecrusher. Flair responds with a ballcrusher, however, so HHH goes to the eyes and then backdrops a charging Flair out at 6:48. Big Show is #6 and he hates HHH as well, for reasons I don’t remember these long 4 years later. But Michael Cole assures me that a sledgehammer was involved, so I’m sure it was very memorable and awesome. Show pounds on HHH in the corner and gets a sideslam, then teases throwing him out before slamming him instead. Coach is #7. And he’s out at 9:38. (2012 Scott sez:  That should have been the extent of his involvement in the 2005 Rumble.)  Show again teases slamming HHH out of the ring and then doesn’t. He chokeslams HHH and Bobby Lashley is #8. He slugs it out with Big Show and gets a backdrop, then boots him out of the ring. Under the ropes, though. Kane is #9 and he slugs it out with Lashley and then puts him down with a big boot. Lashley suplexes him in return and hits him with the Dominator, and everyone is out as Sylvan Grenier is #10. I don’t remember him as a single either. Lashley chucks him at 14:55, but turns around into a double chokeslam from Kane & Show, and he’s out at 15:19. Kane and Show melt down and slug it out, and apparently they were tag champs at this point, which I vaguely remember but I don’t remember how they got the belts off them.  (2012 Scott sez:  That would be via the Spirit Squad, I believe.)  They choke each other on the ropes, and HHH smartly dumps them both at 16:28. Carlito is #11 and he goes after Rey and then HHH, and hits Rey with the backstabber. He fights off HHH long enough for Chris Benoit to be #12. Apparently he won the Rumble in 2004 and then went on to win the belt at Wrestlemania, but I can’t find that anywhere on WWE.com. Michael Cole is such a liar. Benoit suplexes the shit out of everyone and makes Carlito tap to a crossface, but that of course means nothing. HHH breaks it up and tries to suplex Benoit out, and they fight for the suplex in a good sequence until HHH puts him on the top and Benoit comes in with the diving headbutt as a result. Booker T is #13 and goes right for Benoit, but gets tossed at 21:39 as a result. So Benoit goes back to beating on HHH as Mercury is #14. I have to say, there’s a lot of Wellness violations in that ring right now. (2012 Scott sez:  Well technically HHH isn’t eligible to be tested, but point taken) Mercury does pretty well for himself, but Benoit hits him with a suplex to stop the rampage. Not much going on and Tatanka is #15. This was a weird surprise entry, and he actually stuck around for a while for reasons I can’t fathom. He chops away on some people as I wait for the chop showdown with Benoit, but it’s not coming. Benoit’s dedication to annoying HHH is nice to see. Nitro is #16, and now with MNM at full force I don’t think anything can stop them. MNM teams up on Tatanka while Carlito tries to get Rey out without success. Trevor Murdoch is #17 and we get another elimination tease from Rey, this time via HHH. Eugene is #18 and he goes right for Murdoch with an airplane spin, but makes himself dizzy and gets laid out by a Rey bulldog. Animal is #19, once again showing that nostalgia + nepotism = a powerful combination. (2012 Scott sez:  Frankly I’m shocked that they haven’t put Animal back on TV to heat up the Big Johnny stuff.)  Way too much deadwood in there now and even the announcers are complaining that we need to clear things out. RVD is #20 and that should help. And indeed he runs wild, dumping Animal at 34:12, before Orlando Jordan is #21. His reaction is almost as big as the one he got on TNA Impact. But that might have just been the pedophiles in the crowd, I’m not sure. Does NAMBLA have a Miami chapter? Chavo is #22, but really Eddie can’t bless TWO people in the match, because he goes up and HHH sends him to the floor at 37:20. Obviously the dead understand the concept of midcarders, too. Matt Hardy is #23 as Rey & RVD team up on HHH but can’t get rid of him. Tatanka is gone at 39:15 via MNM, and Super Crazy is #24. Finally some star power, as Shawn Michaels is #25 and will hopefully clean house. He pulls Murdoch out at 42:01, but then gets sucked into the Bore Zone like everyone else. Chris Masters is #26, back when people still saw him as someone worth protecting. Hardy and HHH try to eliminate each other with no luck, and Viscera is #27. He squashes Matt Hardy and violates him, then tosses him at 45:40. Geez, raped and thrown out of the ring, there’s no justice.  (2012 Scott sez:  If he does go to jail, he’ll at least have some practice.)  Shelton (and Mama) are #28 as Benoit tosses Eugene at 46:22. And yet Orlando Jordan is still in there wasting our time. Doesn’t he have an underage boy to statutorily rape? (2012 Scott sez:  Allegedly.)  Goldust is #29 as the 90s nostalgia parade continues with little payoff. Randy Orton is #30, back when he still had hair, untattooed skin and body fat. He quickly powers Benoit out at 49:19 and hits Vis with an RKO, which allows Masters and Carlito to dump him at 49:51. Carlito turns on Masters at 49:55 to get rid of him. Goldust gives Carlito Shattered Nuts and then takes an awkward bump out from an RVD kick at 50:40. Orton puts OJ out at 51:03. Shawn and HHH have their showdown, but MNM attacks HBK. Shawn gets rid of them both at 52:29, however. Shelton lays him out with a high kick, but gets superkicked off the apron at 53:03. Those two had some mad chemistry together. So now Vince comes out to further his nonsensical feud with Shawn, distracting him long enough for Shane to come in and put Shawn out at 54:08. (2012 Scott sez:  You know, as entertaining as the WM match and ensuing feud with DX turned out, I still have no earthly idea what they were even fighting ABOUT.  Like, can someone sum up in a sentence what the issue was?) Shawn gets a superkick on HHH before leaving, though. Carlito beats on RVD and gets kicked out at 55:23, so… Final Four: Rob Van Dam, HHH, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio. At that time there was a real case to made for any of them to win. Except for RVD. Rey and Rob reunite their team and destroy the former Evolution, but RVD goes up and gets knocked off at 56:51 by Rey, accidentally. Like I said, anyone except for RVD could win. HHH and Orton wisely team up against Rey, but he hits them with a double DDT and gets them both in 619 position, then hits it and follows with the senton on Orton. HHH lays him out with a clothesline right after, but Orton powerslams HHH. He sets up for the RKO, but walks into a spinebuster instead. HHH goes after Rey…and gets flipped out at 60:04. So we’re down to Orton v. Rey now, but sore loser HHH sends Rey into the stairs to seemingly assure victory for Orton. Orton tries to slam Rey out, but Rey hangs on and wins the Royal Rumble at 62:00. I really liked the storyline with HHH trying to be 1992 Ric Flair, but then it fell into the usual Rumble trap of piling midcarders in there and grinding it to a halt without a payoff. ***1/2 RAW World title: Edge v. John Cena This is their first “real” match in a series that currently sits at 300,000 and counting. Cena pounds Edge and gets a clothesline to put him on the floor, but Edge pulls him out for a quick brawl. Back in, Cena with a sideslam for two. Edge bails and hides behind Lita (at her hot slutty mess peak here), but Cena of course won’t hit a woman and Edge gets the cheapshot. He follows with a baseball slide to put Cena into the front row. Back in, Edge pounds away with knees on the ropes and chokes him down. They slug it out and Edge gets a leg lariat for two and follows with a german suplex, then puts him down with a standing dropkick and out to the floor. Back in, Edge with a missile dropkick for two. They fight for a superplex and Cena sends Edge to the mat and follows with the legdrop for one. Edge charges into the corner and Cena almost gets an FU, but Cena reverses to a rollup for two. Edge puts him down with a big boot and goes up again, but Cena rolls through a bodypress and gets two. Edge with a sleeper, but Cena powers him into the corner to break. Edge sets up for the spear instead, but hits the turnbuckle and walks into a Cena DDT for the double KO. That’s not what this match needed. Cena makes the comeback with the backdrop suplex and Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Lita has the ref distracted. Probably with her awesome rack. (2012 Scott sez:  Even age and an arrest record can’t take that away.)  FU and STFU finishes at 14:00 to give Cena the title back, however. They’d have awesome matches in the future, but this wasn’t one of them, as it was ultra generic heel offense from Edge and basically just a way to get the belt back on Cena. **3/4 Meanwhile, Josh Matthews or Todd Grisham or whichever one he is calls Edge a “transitional champion”, showing that he has no idea what that term means. Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Mark Henry Yeah, this gets the main event slot. Mark Henry has Daivari with him in another angle that I don’t remember and probably went nowhere. Angle slugs away on Henry, but tries a bodypress and gets dumped. Back in, Angle tries a facelock and gets dropped on the top rope as a result. Henry with the big splash for two. Cole gets really excited about that. It’s a fucking big splash, Cole. Henry goes to the bearhug to really ramp up the pace, but Angle hiptosses out of it. He goes up and gets caught again, but slips into an anklelock attempt. Henry pounds him down with the clubbing forearms, but Angle pulls out a german suplex and the Angle slam for two. Anklelock, but the ref is bumped. Angle gets rid of Daivari with a chairshot and goes low on Henry. Two chairshots get two. Oh come on. No one gives a shit about Henry, just end it. Angle undoes a turnbuckle, sends Henry into it, and rolls him up to retain at 9:19. Pretty terrible even by Angle’s declining standards that year. * Undertaker returns to close the show, destroying the ring with his mystical powers (no, really) and setting up a pretty great main event against Angle the next month.  (2012 Scott sez:  I definitely did not see myself turning into a supporter of Mark Henry years later, but here we are.)  The Pulse This is definitely one of the weakest and most forgettable Rumble cards top-to-bottom, setting up a weak and forgettable Wrestlemania in turn. Recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2006

(2012 Scott sez:  I saw this one live in the theatre at the time, but didn’t do this rant on it until a couple of years later.  So there’s not likely to be much in the way of extra comments here, sorry.)  The SmarK Retro Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2006 – Live from Miami, FL. – Your hosts are Joey & King & Tazz & ColeCruiserweight Texas Tornado open: Kid Kash v. Funaki v. Jamie Noble v. Nunzio v. Paul London v. Gregory Helms I don’t even remember Kash as champion, but then I was paying very little attention at this point anyway. Everyone gangs up on Helms because he was apparently from RAW at this point, and guys trade highspots. Noble with a powerslam on Nunzio into an armbreaker, and London dropkicks Helms and lands on Noble for two. London tries a headscissors on Helms in the corner, but gets dumped, and Nunzio hits the Sicilian Slice on Helms for two. Kash dumps Nunzio onto a couple of guys, but Noble hits him with a leg lariat for two. Noble adds to the pile outside, leaving Funaki and Kash in the ring, but Kash tosses Funaki as well. London sneaks in and superkicks Kash out, then hits everyone with the shooting star press to the floor. Back in, Helms hits London with a neckbreaker from the top, but Kash breaks up the pin. Kash with a brainbuster on London for two, and a backstabber on Nunzio for two. Noble with an exploding gutbuster on Funaki and into the dragon sleeper, but Helms breaks it up, hits the Shining Wizard on Funaki, and wins the title at 7:38. Messy but fun. *** Meanwhile, Randy Orton and HHH draw numbers for the Rumble, and HHH gets the worst of it. Meanwhile, Mickie James just wants Trish Stratus to know that she loves her. Well, who doesn’t? Mickie James v. Ashley Massaro God, I forgot about the “spunky tomboy” image when they were still pushing Ashley down our throats. Mickie was very much the lesbian stalker at this point, which was tremendous, and Trish is the special referee with a very special referee outfit. When Trish wears tiny shorts, it works. When Shawn Michaels does, not so much. They do a silly lockup battle to the floor, and back in Ashley gets a rollup for two. Mickey gets frustrated and bails, so Ashley follows with a shitty clothesline from the apron. Back in, Ashley hammers away in the corner with ridiculously unconvincing punches, but James nails her from behind and works on the leg. Mickie dumps Ashley and follows with a baseball slide. Back in, a fisherman’s suplex gets two. Ashley comes back with horrifying punches, which actually leads Joey Styles to be forced into saying “she’s got a great right hand.” Jim Ross used to say that about jobber Bob Cook and you at least believed it. Ashley is no Bob Cook. This just keeps GOING and getting worse as Ashley makes her pathetic comeback, but Mickey rolls her up in the corner for the pin at 7:44. And Ashley can’t even do THAT right! 1/2* Even the crowd had turned on Ashley by the end of this.  (2012 Scott sez:  On the bright side, at least now women aren’t hired because of their willingness to do Playboy.)  Meanwhile, Big Show draws his number, although his hand is too big to fit in the drum and Candace has to help him. Rey also draws after dedicating the match to Eddie Guerrero, and apparently Eddie still has a sense of humor. JBL v. The Boogeyman JBL lets the Boogeyman have his way with Jillian Hall to distract him and then attacks, and they fight to the floor. Boogey no-sells most of it and they head back in, where JBL chokes him out with the wrist tape. Clothesline from Hell misses and Boogey finishes with the pumphandle slam at 1:47. WTF was that? DUD Meanwhile, Vince meets Shelton Benjamin’s mama in a hilarious bit of hilarity. There’s another angle that went nowhere. Royal Rumble: HHH is #1, and Rey Mysterio is #2. Rey dominates and hammers away in the corner, but 619 is interrupted by Simon Dean at #3. (2012 Scott sez:  That loser gimmick stuck around for a whole YEAR?!) Simon tries to toss Rey with no luck, but HHH lays him out and gets rid of him at 2:36. Rey goes back to beating on HHH again and gets the broncobuster, but Psicosis is #4. I still can’t believe that “Mexicools” was a real thing. Psi and Rey team up on HHH, but Psi turns on him and hits him with a uranage faceplant. He tries to put him out with a powerbomb, but Rey reverses and eliminates him at 4:50 with a rana. Ric Flair is #5 and that’s an immediate showdown with HHH. Flair chops away and gets a backdrop out of the corner, but walks into the facecrusher. Flair responds with a ballcrusher, however, so HHH goes to the eyes and then backdrops a charging Flair out at 6:48. Big Show is #6 and he hates HHH as well, for reasons I don’t remember these long 4 years later. But Michael Cole assures me that a sledgehammer was involved, so I’m sure it was very memorable and awesome. Show pounds on HHH in the corner and gets a sideslam, then teases throwing him out before slamming him instead. Coach is #7. And he’s out at 9:38. (2012 Scott sez:  That should have been the extent of his involvement in the 2005 Rumble.)  Show again teases slamming HHH out of the ring and then doesn’t. He chokeslams HHH and Bobby Lashley is #8. He slugs it out with Big Show and gets a backdrop, then boots him out of the ring. Under the ropes, though. Kane is #9 and he slugs it out with Lashley and then puts him down with a big boot. Lashley suplexes him in return and hits him with the Dominator, and everyone is out as Sylvan Grenier is #10. I don’t remember him as a single either. Lashley chucks him at 14:55, but turns around into a double chokeslam from Kane & Show, and he’s out at 15:19. Kane and Show melt down and slug it out, and apparently they were tag champs at this point, which I vaguely remember but I don’t remember how they got the belts off them.  (2012 Scott sez:  That would be via the Spirit Squad, I believe.)  They choke each other on the ropes, and HHH smartly dumps them both at 16:28. Carlito is #11 and he goes after Rey and then HHH, and hits Rey with the backstabber. He fights off HHH long enough for Chris Benoit to be #12. Apparently he won the Rumble in 2004 and then went on to win the belt at Wrestlemania, but I can’t find that anywhere on WWE.com. Michael Cole is such a liar. Benoit suplexes the shit out of everyone and makes Carlito tap to a crossface, but that of course means nothing. HHH breaks it up and tries to suplex Benoit out, and they fight for the suplex in a good sequence until HHH puts him on the top and Benoit comes in with the diving headbutt as a result. Booker T is #13 and goes right for Benoit, but gets tossed at 21:39 as a result. So Benoit goes back to beating on HHH as Mercury is #14. I have to say, there’s a lot of Wellness violations in that ring right now. (2012 Scott sez:  Well technically HHH isn’t eligible to be tested, but point taken) Mercury does pretty well for himself, but Benoit hits him with a suplex to stop the rampage. Not much going on and Tatanka is #15. This was a weird surprise entry, and he actually stuck around for a while for reasons I can’t fathom. He chops away on some people as I wait for the chop showdown with Benoit, but it’s not coming. Benoit’s dedication to annoying HHH is nice to see. Nitro is #16, and now with MNM at full force I don’t think anything can stop them. MNM teams up on Tatanka while Carlito tries to get Rey out without success. Trevor Murdoch is #17 and we get another elimination tease from Rey, this time via HHH. Eugene is #18 and he goes right for Murdoch with an airplane spin, but makes himself dizzy and gets laid out by a Rey bulldog. Animal is #19, once again showing that nostalgia + nepotism = a powerful combination. (2012 Scott sez:  Frankly I’m shocked that they haven’t put Animal back on TV to heat up the Big Johnny stuff.)  Way too much deadwood in there now and even the announcers are complaining that we need to clear things out. RVD is #20 and that should help. And indeed he runs wild, dumping Animal at 34:12, before Orlando Jordan is #21. His reaction is almost as big as the one he got on TNA Impact. But that might have just been the pedophiles in the crowd, I’m not sure. Does NAMBLA have a Miami chapter? Chavo is #22, but really Eddie can’t bless TWO people in the match, because he goes up and HHH sends him to the floor at 37:20. Obviously the dead understand the concept of midcarders, too. Matt Hardy is #23 as Rey & RVD team up on HHH but can’t get rid of him. Tatanka is gone at 39:15 via MNM, and Super Crazy is #24. Finally some star power, as Shawn Michaels is #25 and will hopefully clean house. He pulls Murdoch out at 42:01, but then gets sucked into the Bore Zone like everyone else. Chris Masters is #26, back when people still saw him as someone worth protecting. Hardy and HHH try to eliminate each other with no luck, and Viscera is #27. He squashes Matt Hardy and violates him, then tosses him at 45:40. Geez, raped and thrown out of the ring, there’s no justice.  (2012 Scott sez:  If he does go to jail, he’ll at least have some practice.)  Shelton (and Mama) are #28 as Benoit tosses Eugene at 46:22. And yet Orlando Jordan is still in there wasting our time. Doesn’t he have an underage boy to statutorily rape? (2012 Scott sez:  Allegedly.)  Goldust is #29 as the 90s nostalgia parade continues with little payoff. Randy Orton is #30, back when he still had hair, untattooed skin and body fat. He quickly powers Benoit out at 49:19 and hits Vis with an RKO, which allows Masters and Carlito to dump him at 49:51. Carlito turns on Masters at 49:55 to get rid of him. Goldust gives Carlito Shattered Nuts and then takes an awkward bump out from an RVD kick at 50:40. Orton puts OJ out at 51:03. Shawn and HHH have their showdown, but MNM attacks HBK. Shawn gets rid of them both at 52:29, however. Shelton lays him out with a high kick, but gets superkicked off the apron at 53:03. Those two had some mad chemistry together. So now Vince comes out to further his nonsensical feud with Shawn, distracting him long enough for Shane to come in and put Shawn out at 54:08. (2012 Scott sez:  You know, as entertaining as the WM match and ensuing feud with DX turned out, I still have no earthly idea what they were even fighting ABOUT.  Like, can someone sum up in a sentence what the issue was?) Shawn gets a superkick on HHH before leaving, though. Carlito beats on RVD and gets kicked out at 55:23, so… Final Four: Rob Van Dam, HHH, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio. At that time there was a real case to made for any of them to win. Except for RVD. Rey and Rob reunite their team and destroy the former Evolution, but RVD goes up and gets knocked off at 56:51 by Rey, accidentally. Like I said, anyone except for RVD could win. HHH and Orton wisely team up against Rey, but he hits them with a double DDT and gets them both in 619 position, then hits it and follows with the senton on Orton. HHH lays him out with a clothesline right after, but Orton powerslams HHH. He sets up for the RKO, but walks into a spinebuster instead. HHH goes after Rey…and gets flipped out at 60:04. So we’re down to Orton v. Rey now, but sore loser HHH sends Rey into the stairs to seemingly assure victory for Orton. Orton tries to slam Rey out, but Rey hangs on and wins the Royal Rumble at 62:00. I really liked the storyline with HHH trying to be 1992 Ric Flair, but then it fell into the usual Rumble trap of piling midcarders in there and grinding it to a halt without a payoff. ***1/2 RAW World title: Edge v. John Cena This is their first “real” match in a series that currently sits at 300,000 and counting. Cena pounds Edge and gets a clothesline to put him on the floor, but Edge pulls him out for a quick brawl. Back in, Cena with a sideslam for two. Edge bails and hides behind Lita (at her hot slutty mess peak here), but Cena of course won’t hit a woman and Edge gets the cheapshot. He follows with a baseball slide to put Cena into the front row. Back in, Edge pounds away with knees on the ropes and chokes him down. They slug it out and Edge gets a leg lariat for two and follows with a german suplex, then puts him down with a standing dropkick and out to the floor. Back in, Edge with a missile dropkick for two. They fight for a superplex and Cena sends Edge to the mat and follows with the legdrop for one. Edge charges into the corner and Cena almost gets an FU, but Cena reverses to a rollup for two. Edge puts him down with a big boot and goes up again, but Cena rolls through a bodypress and gets two. Edge with a sleeper, but Cena powers him into the corner to break. Edge sets up for the spear instead, but hits the turnbuckle and walks into a Cena DDT for the double KO. That’s not what this match needed. Cena makes the comeback with the backdrop suplex and Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Lita has the ref distracted. Probably with her awesome rack. (2012 Scott sez:  Even age and an arrest record can’t take that away.)  FU and STFU finishes at 14:00 to give Cena the title back, however. They’d have awesome matches in the future, but this wasn’t one of them, as it was ultra generic heel offense from Edge and basically just a way to get the belt back on Cena. **3/4 Meanwhile, Josh Matthews or Todd Grisham or whichever one he is calls Edge a “transitional champion”, showing that he has no idea what that term means. Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Mark Henry Yeah, this gets the main event slot. Mark Henry has Daivari with him in another angle that I don’t remember and probably went nowhere. Angle slugs away on Henry, but tries a bodypress and gets dumped. Back in, Angle tries a facelock and gets dropped on the top rope as a result. Henry with the big splash for two. Cole gets really excited about that. It’s a fucking big splash, Cole. Henry goes to the bearhug to really ramp up the pace, but Angle hiptosses out of it. He goes up and gets caught again, but slips into an anklelock attempt. Henry pounds him down with the clubbing forearms, but Angle pulls out a german suplex and the Angle slam for two. Anklelock, but the ref is bumped. Angle gets rid of Daivari with a chairshot and goes low on Henry. Two chairshots get two. Oh come on. No one gives a shit about Henry, just end it. Angle undoes a turnbuckle, sends Henry into it, and rolls him up to retain at 9:19. Pretty terrible even by Angle’s declining standards that year. * Undertaker returns to close the show, destroying the ring with his mystical powers (no, really) and setting up a pretty great main event against Angle the next month.  (2012 Scott sez:  I definitely did not see myself turning into a supporter of Mark Henry years later, but here we are.)  The Pulse This is definitely one of the weakest and most forgettable Rumble cards top-to-bottom, setting up a weak and forgettable Wrestlemania in turn. Recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2006

(2012 Scott sez:  I saw this one live in the theatre at the time, but didn’t do this rant on it until a couple of years later.  So there’s not likely to be much in the way of extra comments here, sorry.)  The SmarK Retro Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2006 – Live from Miami, FL. – Your hosts are Joey & King & Tazz & ColeCruiserweight Texas Tornado open: Kid Kash v. Funaki v. Jamie Noble v. Nunzio v. Paul London v. Gregory Helms I don’t even remember Kash as champion, but then I was paying very little attention at this point anyway. Everyone gangs up on Helms because he was apparently from RAW at this point, and guys trade highspots. Noble with a powerslam on Nunzio into an armbreaker, and London dropkicks Helms and lands on Noble for two. London tries a headscissors on Helms in the corner, but gets dumped, and Nunzio hits the Sicilian Slice on Helms for two. Kash dumps Nunzio onto a couple of guys, but Noble hits him with a leg lariat for two. Noble adds to the pile outside, leaving Funaki and Kash in the ring, but Kash tosses Funaki as well. London sneaks in and superkicks Kash out, then hits everyone with the shooting star press to the floor. Back in, Helms hits London with a neckbreaker from the top, but Kash breaks up the pin. Kash with a brainbuster on London for two, and a backstabber on Nunzio for two. Noble with an exploding gutbuster on Funaki and into the dragon sleeper, but Helms breaks it up, hits the Shining Wizard on Funaki, and wins the title at 7:38. Messy but fun. *** Meanwhile, Randy Orton and HHH draw numbers for the Rumble, and HHH gets the worst of it. Meanwhile, Mickie James just wants Trish Stratus to know that she loves her. Well, who doesn’t? Mickie James v. Ashley Massaro God, I forgot about the “spunky tomboy” image when they were still pushing Ashley down our throats. Mickie was very much the lesbian stalker at this point, which was tremendous, and Trish is the special referee with a very special referee outfit. When Trish wears tiny shorts, it works. When Shawn Michaels does, not so much. They do a silly lockup battle to the floor, and back in Ashley gets a rollup for two. Mickey gets frustrated and bails, so Ashley follows with a shitty clothesline from the apron. Back in, Ashley hammers away in the corner with ridiculously unconvincing punches, but James nails her from behind and works on the leg. Mickie dumps Ashley and follows with a baseball slide. Back in, a fisherman’s suplex gets two. Ashley comes back with horrifying punches, which actually leads Joey Styles to be forced into saying “she’s got a great right hand.” Jim Ross used to say that about jobber Bob Cook and you at least believed it. Ashley is no Bob Cook. This just keeps GOING and getting worse as Ashley makes her pathetic comeback, but Mickey rolls her up in the corner for the pin at 7:44. And Ashley can’t even do THAT right! 1/2* Even the crowd had turned on Ashley by the end of this.  (2012 Scott sez:  On the bright side, at least now women aren’t hired because of their willingness to do Playboy.)  Meanwhile, Big Show draws his number, although his hand is too big to fit in the drum and Candace has to help him. Rey also draws after dedicating the match to Eddie Guerrero, and apparently Eddie still has a sense of humor. JBL v. The Boogeyman JBL lets the Boogeyman have his way with Jillian Hall to distract him and then attacks, and they fight to the floor. Boogey no-sells most of it and they head back in, where JBL chokes him out with the wrist tape. Clothesline from Hell misses and Boogey finishes with the pumphandle slam at 1:47. WTF was that? DUD Meanwhile, Vince meets Shelton Benjamin’s mama in a hilarious bit of hilarity. There’s another angle that went nowhere. Royal Rumble: HHH is #1, and Rey Mysterio is #2. Rey dominates and hammers away in the corner, but 619 is interrupted by Simon Dean at #3. (2012 Scott sez:  That loser gimmick stuck around for a whole YEAR?!) Simon tries to toss Rey with no luck, but HHH lays him out and gets rid of him at 2:36. Rey goes back to beating on HHH again and gets the broncobuster, but Psicosis is #4. I still can’t believe that “Mexicools” was a real thing. Psi and Rey team up on HHH, but Psi turns on him and hits him with a uranage faceplant. He tries to put him out with a powerbomb, but Rey reverses and eliminates him at 4:50 with a rana. Ric Flair is #5 and that’s an immediate showdown with HHH. Flair chops away and gets a backdrop out of the corner, but walks into the facecrusher. Flair responds with a ballcrusher, however, so HHH goes to the eyes and then backdrops a charging Flair out at 6:48. Big Show is #6 and he hates HHH as well, for reasons I don’t remember these long 4 years later. But Michael Cole assures me that a sledgehammer was involved, so I’m sure it was very memorable and awesome. Show pounds on HHH in the corner and gets a sideslam, then teases throwing him out before slamming him instead. Coach is #7. And he’s out at 9:38. (2012 Scott sez:  That should have been the extent of his involvement in the 2005 Rumble.)  Show again teases slamming HHH out of the ring and then doesn’t. He chokeslams HHH and Bobby Lashley is #8. He slugs it out with Big Show and gets a backdrop, then boots him out of the ring. Under the ropes, though. Kane is #9 and he slugs it out with Lashley and then puts him down with a big boot. Lashley suplexes him in return and hits him with the Dominator, and everyone is out as Sylvan Grenier is #10. I don’t remember him as a single either. Lashley chucks him at 14:55, but turns around into a double chokeslam from Kane & Show, and he’s out at 15:19. Kane and Show melt down and slug it out, and apparently they were tag champs at this point, which I vaguely remember but I don’t remember how they got the belts off them.  (2012 Scott sez:  That would be via the Spirit Squad, I believe.)  They choke each other on the ropes, and HHH smartly dumps them both at 16:28. Carlito is #11 and he goes after Rey and then HHH, and hits Rey with the backstabber. He fights off HHH long enough for Chris Benoit to be #12. Apparently he won the Rumble in 2004 and then went on to win the belt at Wrestlemania, but I can’t find that anywhere on WWE.com. Michael Cole is such a liar. Benoit suplexes the shit out of everyone and makes Carlito tap to a crossface, but that of course means nothing. HHH breaks it up and tries to suplex Benoit out, and they fight for the suplex in a good sequence until HHH puts him on the top and Benoit comes in with the diving headbutt as a result. Booker T is #13 and goes right for Benoit, but gets tossed at 21:39 as a result. So Benoit goes back to beating on HHH as Mercury is #14. I have to say, there’s a lot of Wellness violations in that ring right now. (2012 Scott sez:  Well technically HHH isn’t eligible to be tested, but point taken) Mercury does pretty well for himself, but Benoit hits him with a suplex to stop the rampage. Not much going on and Tatanka is #15. This was a weird surprise entry, and he actually stuck around for a while for reasons I can’t fathom. He chops away on some people as I wait for the chop showdown with Benoit, but it’s not coming. Benoit’s dedication to annoying HHH is nice to see. Nitro is #16, and now with MNM at full force I don’t think anything can stop them. MNM teams up on Tatanka while Carlito tries to get Rey out without success. Trevor Murdoch is #17 and we get another elimination tease from Rey, this time via HHH. Eugene is #18 and he goes right for Murdoch with an airplane spin, but makes himself dizzy and gets laid out by a Rey bulldog. Animal is #19, once again showing that nostalgia + nepotism = a powerful combination. (2012 Scott sez:  Frankly I’m shocked that they haven’t put Animal back on TV to heat up the Big Johnny stuff.)  Way too much deadwood in there now and even the announcers are complaining that we need to clear things out. RVD is #20 and that should help. And indeed he runs wild, dumping Animal at 34:12, before Orlando Jordan is #21. His reaction is almost as big as the one he got on TNA Impact. But that might have just been the pedophiles in the crowd, I’m not sure. Does NAMBLA have a Miami chapter? Chavo is #22, but really Eddie can’t bless TWO people in the match, because he goes up and HHH sends him to the floor at 37:20. Obviously the dead understand the concept of midcarders, too. Matt Hardy is #23 as Rey & RVD team up on HHH but can’t get rid of him. Tatanka is gone at 39:15 via MNM, and Super Crazy is #24. Finally some star power, as Shawn Michaels is #25 and will hopefully clean house. He pulls Murdoch out at 42:01, but then gets sucked into the Bore Zone like everyone else. Chris Masters is #26, back when people still saw him as someone worth protecting. Hardy and HHH try to eliminate each other with no luck, and Viscera is #27. He squashes Matt Hardy and violates him, then tosses him at 45:40. Geez, raped and thrown out of the ring, there’s no justice.  (2012 Scott sez:  If he does go to jail, he’ll at least have some practice.)  Shelton (and Mama) are #28 as Benoit tosses Eugene at 46:22. And yet Orlando Jordan is still in there wasting our time. Doesn’t he have an underage boy to statutorily rape? (2012 Scott sez:  Allegedly.)  Goldust is #29 as the 90s nostalgia parade continues with little payoff. Randy Orton is #30, back when he still had hair, untattooed skin and body fat. He quickly powers Benoit out at 49:19 and hits Vis with an RKO, which allows Masters and Carlito to dump him at 49:51. Carlito turns on Masters at 49:55 to get rid of him. Goldust gives Carlito Shattered Nuts and then takes an awkward bump out from an RVD kick at 50:40. Orton puts OJ out at 51:03. Shawn and HHH have their showdown, but MNM attacks HBK. Shawn gets rid of them both at 52:29, however. Shelton lays him out with a high kick, but gets superkicked off the apron at 53:03. Those two had some mad chemistry together. So now Vince comes out to further his nonsensical feud with Shawn, distracting him long enough for Shane to come in and put Shawn out at 54:08. (2012 Scott sez:  You know, as entertaining as the WM match and ensuing feud with DX turned out, I still have no earthly idea what they were even fighting ABOUT.  Like, can someone sum up in a sentence what the issue was?) Shawn gets a superkick on HHH before leaving, though. Carlito beats on RVD and gets kicked out at 55:23, so… Final Four: Rob Van Dam, HHH, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio. At that time there was a real case to made for any of them to win. Except for RVD. Rey and Rob reunite their team and destroy the former Evolution, but RVD goes up and gets knocked off at 56:51 by Rey, accidentally. Like I said, anyone except for RVD could win. HHH and Orton wisely team up against Rey, but he hits them with a double DDT and gets them both in 619 position, then hits it and follows with the senton on Orton. HHH lays him out with a clothesline right after, but Orton powerslams HHH. He sets up for the RKO, but walks into a spinebuster instead. HHH goes after Rey…and gets flipped out at 60:04. So we’re down to Orton v. Rey now, but sore loser HHH sends Rey into the stairs to seemingly assure victory for Orton. Orton tries to slam Rey out, but Rey hangs on and wins the Royal Rumble at 62:00. I really liked the storyline with HHH trying to be 1992 Ric Flair, but then it fell into the usual Rumble trap of piling midcarders in there and grinding it to a halt without a payoff. ***1/2 RAW World title: Edge v. John Cena This is their first “real” match in a series that currently sits at 300,000 and counting. Cena pounds Edge and gets a clothesline to put him on the floor, but Edge pulls him out for a quick brawl. Back in, Cena with a sideslam for two. Edge bails and hides behind Lita (at her hot slutty mess peak here), but Cena of course won’t hit a woman and Edge gets the cheapshot. He follows with a baseball slide to put Cena into the front row. Back in, Edge pounds away with knees on the ropes and chokes him down. They slug it out and Edge gets a leg lariat for two and follows with a german suplex, then puts him down with a standing dropkick and out to the floor. Back in, Edge with a missile dropkick for two. They fight for a superplex and Cena sends Edge to the mat and follows with the legdrop for one. Edge charges into the corner and Cena almost gets an FU, but Cena reverses to a rollup for two. Edge puts him down with a big boot and goes up again, but Cena rolls through a bodypress and gets two. Edge with a sleeper, but Cena powers him into the corner to break. Edge sets up for the spear instead, but hits the turnbuckle and walks into a Cena DDT for the double KO. That’s not what this match needed. Cena makes the comeback with the backdrop suplex and Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Lita has the ref distracted. Probably with her awesome rack. (2012 Scott sez:  Even age and an arrest record can’t take that away.)  FU and STFU finishes at 14:00 to give Cena the title back, however. They’d have awesome matches in the future, but this wasn’t one of them, as it was ultra generic heel offense from Edge and basically just a way to get the belt back on Cena. **3/4 Meanwhile, Josh Matthews or Todd Grisham or whichever one he is calls Edge a “transitional champion”, showing that he has no idea what that term means. Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Mark Henry Yeah, this gets the main event slot. Mark Henry has Daivari with him in another angle that I don’t remember and probably went nowhere. Angle slugs away on Henry, but tries a bodypress and gets dumped. Back in, Angle tries a facelock and gets dropped on the top rope as a result. Henry with the big splash for two. Cole gets really excited about that. It’s a fucking big splash, Cole. Henry goes to the bearhug to really ramp up the pace, but Angle hiptosses out of it. He goes up and gets caught again, but slips into an anklelock attempt. Henry pounds him down with the clubbing forearms, but Angle pulls out a german suplex and the Angle slam for two. Anklelock, but the ref is bumped. Angle gets rid of Daivari with a chairshot and goes low on Henry. Two chairshots get two. Oh come on. No one gives a shit about Henry, just end it. Angle undoes a turnbuckle, sends Henry into it, and rolls him up to retain at 9:19. Pretty terrible even by Angle’s declining standards that year. * Undertaker returns to close the show, destroying the ring with his mystical powers (no, really) and setting up a pretty great main event against Angle the next month.  (2012 Scott sez:  I definitely did not see myself turning into a supporter of Mark Henry years later, but here we are.)  The Pulse This is definitely one of the weakest and most forgettable Rumble cards top-to-bottom, setting up a weak and forgettable Wrestlemania in turn. Recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2006

(2012 Scott sez:  I saw this one live in the theatre at the time, but didn’t do this rant on it until a couple of years later.  So there’s not likely to be much in the way of extra comments here, sorry.)  The SmarK Retro Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2006 – Live from Miami, FL. – Your hosts are Joey & King & Tazz & ColeCruiserweight Texas Tornado open: Kid Kash v. Funaki v. Jamie Noble v. Nunzio v. Paul London v. Gregory Helms I don’t even remember Kash as champion, but then I was paying very little attention at this point anyway. Everyone gangs up on Helms because he was apparently from RAW at this point, and guys trade highspots. Noble with a powerslam on Nunzio into an armbreaker, and London dropkicks Helms and lands on Noble for two. London tries a headscissors on Helms in the corner, but gets dumped, and Nunzio hits the Sicilian Slice on Helms for two. Kash dumps Nunzio onto a couple of guys, but Noble hits him with a leg lariat for two. Noble adds to the pile outside, leaving Funaki and Kash in the ring, but Kash tosses Funaki as well. London sneaks in and superkicks Kash out, then hits everyone with the shooting star press to the floor. Back in, Helms hits London with a neckbreaker from the top, but Kash breaks up the pin. Kash with a brainbuster on London for two, and a backstabber on Nunzio for two. Noble with an exploding gutbuster on Funaki and into the dragon sleeper, but Helms breaks it up, hits the Shining Wizard on Funaki, and wins the title at 7:38. Messy but fun. *** Meanwhile, Randy Orton and HHH draw numbers for the Rumble, and HHH gets the worst of it. Meanwhile, Mickie James just wants Trish Stratus to know that she loves her. Well, who doesn’t? Mickie James v. Ashley Massaro God, I forgot about the “spunky tomboy” image when they were still pushing Ashley down our throats. Mickie was very much the lesbian stalker at this point, which was tremendous, and Trish is the special referee with a very special referee outfit. When Trish wears tiny shorts, it works. When Shawn Michaels does, not so much. They do a silly lockup battle to the floor, and back in Ashley gets a rollup for two. Mickey gets frustrated and bails, so Ashley follows with a shitty clothesline from the apron. Back in, Ashley hammers away in the corner with ridiculously unconvincing punches, but James nails her from behind and works on the leg. Mickie dumps Ashley and follows with a baseball slide. Back in, a fisherman’s suplex gets two. Ashley comes back with horrifying punches, which actually leads Joey Styles to be forced into saying “she’s got a great right hand.” Jim Ross used to say that about jobber Bob Cook and you at least believed it. Ashley is no Bob Cook. This just keeps GOING and getting worse as Ashley makes her pathetic comeback, but Mickey rolls her up in the corner for the pin at 7:44. And Ashley can’t even do THAT right! 1/2* Even the crowd had turned on Ashley by the end of this.  (2012 Scott sez:  On the bright side, at least now women aren’t hired because of their willingness to do Playboy.)  Meanwhile, Big Show draws his number, although his hand is too big to fit in the drum and Candace has to help him. Rey also draws after dedicating the match to Eddie Guerrero, and apparently Eddie still has a sense of humor. JBL v. The Boogeyman JBL lets the Boogeyman have his way with Jillian Hall to distract him and then attacks, and they fight to the floor. Boogey no-sells most of it and they head back in, where JBL chokes him out with the wrist tape. Clothesline from Hell misses and Boogey finishes with the pumphandle slam at 1:47. WTF was that? DUD Meanwhile, Vince meets Shelton Benjamin’s mama in a hilarious bit of hilarity. There’s another angle that went nowhere. Royal Rumble: HHH is #1, and Rey Mysterio is #2. Rey dominates and hammers away in the corner, but 619 is interrupted by Simon Dean at #3. (2012 Scott sez:  That loser gimmick stuck around for a whole YEAR?!) Simon tries to toss Rey with no luck, but HHH lays him out and gets rid of him at 2:36. Rey goes back to beating on HHH again and gets the broncobuster, but Psicosis is #4. I still can’t believe that “Mexicools” was a real thing. Psi and Rey team up on HHH, but Psi turns on him and hits him with a uranage faceplant. He tries to put him out with a powerbomb, but Rey reverses and eliminates him at 4:50 with a rana. Ric Flair is #5 and that’s an immediate showdown with HHH. Flair chops away and gets a backdrop out of the corner, but walks into the facecrusher. Flair responds with a ballcrusher, however, so HHH goes to the eyes and then backdrops a charging Flair out at 6:48. Big Show is #6 and he hates HHH as well, for reasons I don’t remember these long 4 years later. But Michael Cole assures me that a sledgehammer was involved, so I’m sure it was very memorable and awesome. Show pounds on HHH in the corner and gets a sideslam, then teases throwing him out before slamming him instead. Coach is #7. And he’s out at 9:38. (2012 Scott sez:  That should have been the extent of his involvement in the 2005 Rumble.)  Show again teases slamming HHH out of the ring and then doesn’t. He chokeslams HHH and Bobby Lashley is #8. He slugs it out with Big Show and gets a backdrop, then boots him out of the ring. Under the ropes, though. Kane is #9 and he slugs it out with Lashley and then puts him down with a big boot. Lashley suplexes him in return and hits him with the Dominator, and everyone is out as Sylvan Grenier is #10. I don’t remember him as a single either. Lashley chucks him at 14:55, but turns around into a double chokeslam from Kane & Show, and he’s out at 15:19. Kane and Show melt down and slug it out, and apparently they were tag champs at this point, which I vaguely remember but I don’t remember how they got the belts off them.  (2012 Scott sez:  That would be via the Spirit Squad, I believe.)  They choke each other on the ropes, and HHH smartly dumps them both at 16:28. Carlito is #11 and he goes after Rey and then HHH, and hits Rey with the backstabber. He fights off HHH long enough for Chris Benoit to be #12. Apparently he won the Rumble in 2004 and then went on to win the belt at Wrestlemania, but I can’t find that anywhere on WWE.com. Michael Cole is such a liar. Benoit suplexes the shit out of everyone and makes Carlito tap to a crossface, but that of course means nothing. HHH breaks it up and tries to suplex Benoit out, and they fight for the suplex in a good sequence until HHH puts him on the top and Benoit comes in with the diving headbutt as a result. Booker T is #13 and goes right for Benoit, but gets tossed at 21:39 as a result. So Benoit goes back to beating on HHH as Mercury is #14. I have to say, there’s a lot of Wellness violations in that ring right now. (2012 Scott sez:  Well technically HHH isn’t eligible to be tested, but point taken) Mercury does pretty well for himself, but Benoit hits him with a suplex to stop the rampage. Not much going on and Tatanka is #15. This was a weird surprise entry, and he actually stuck around for a while for reasons I can’t fathom. He chops away on some people as I wait for the chop showdown with Benoit, but it’s not coming. Benoit’s dedication to annoying HHH is nice to see. Nitro is #16, and now with MNM at full force I don’t think anything can stop them. MNM teams up on Tatanka while Carlito tries to get Rey out without success. Trevor Murdoch is #17 and we get another elimination tease from Rey, this time via HHH. Eugene is #18 and he goes right for Murdoch with an airplane spin, but makes himself dizzy and gets laid out by a Rey bulldog. Animal is #19, once again showing that nostalgia + nepotism = a powerful combination. (2012 Scott sez:  Frankly I’m shocked that they haven’t put Animal back on TV to heat up the Big Johnny stuff.)  Way too much deadwood in there now and even the announcers are complaining that we need to clear things out. RVD is #20 and that should help. And indeed he runs wild, dumping Animal at 34:12, before Orlando Jordan is #21. His reaction is almost as big as the one he got on TNA Impact. But that might have just been the pedophiles in the crowd, I’m not sure. Does NAMBLA have a Miami chapter? Chavo is #22, but really Eddie can’t bless TWO people in the match, because he goes up and HHH sends him to the floor at 37:20. Obviously the dead understand the concept of midcarders, too. Matt Hardy is #23 as Rey & RVD team up on HHH but can’t get rid of him. Tatanka is gone at 39:15 via MNM, and Super Crazy is #24. Finally some star power, as Shawn Michaels is #25 and will hopefully clean house. He pulls Murdoch out at 42:01, but then gets sucked into the Bore Zone like everyone else. Chris Masters is #26, back when people still saw him as someone worth protecting. Hardy and HHH try to eliminate each other with no luck, and Viscera is #27. He squashes Matt Hardy and violates him, then tosses him at 45:40. Geez, raped and thrown out of the ring, there’s no justice.  (2012 Scott sez:  If he does go to jail, he’ll at least have some practice.)  Shelton (and Mama) are #28 as Benoit tosses Eugene at 46:22. And yet Orlando Jordan is still in there wasting our time. Doesn’t he have an underage boy to statutorily rape? (2012 Scott sez:  Allegedly.)  Goldust is #29 as the 90s nostalgia parade continues with little payoff. Randy Orton is #30, back when he still had hair, untattooed skin and body fat. He quickly powers Benoit out at 49:19 and hits Vis with an RKO, which allows Masters and Carlito to dump him at 49:51. Carlito turns on Masters at 49:55 to get rid of him. Goldust gives Carlito Shattered Nuts and then takes an awkward bump out from an RVD kick at 50:40. Orton puts OJ out at 51:03. Shawn and HHH have their showdown, but MNM attacks HBK. Shawn gets rid of them both at 52:29, however. Shelton lays him out with a high kick, but gets superkicked off the apron at 53:03. Those two had some mad chemistry together. So now Vince comes out to further his nonsensical feud with Shawn, distracting him long enough for Shane to come in and put Shawn out at 54:08. (2012 Scott sez:  You know, as entertaining as the WM match and ensuing feud with DX turned out, I still have no earthly idea what they were even fighting ABOUT.  Like, can someone sum up in a sentence what the issue was?) Shawn gets a superkick on HHH before leaving, though. Carlito beats on RVD and gets kicked out at 55:23, so… Final Four: Rob Van Dam, HHH, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio. At that time there was a real case to made for any of them to win. Except for RVD. Rey and Rob reunite their team and destroy the former Evolution, but RVD goes up and gets knocked off at 56:51 by Rey, accidentally. Like I said, anyone except for RVD could win. HHH and Orton wisely team up against Rey, but he hits them with a double DDT and gets them both in 619 position, then hits it and follows with the senton on Orton. HHH lays him out with a clothesline right after, but Orton powerslams HHH. He sets up for the RKO, but walks into a spinebuster instead. HHH goes after Rey…and gets flipped out at 60:04. So we’re down to Orton v. Rey now, but sore loser HHH sends Rey into the stairs to seemingly assure victory for Orton. Orton tries to slam Rey out, but Rey hangs on and wins the Royal Rumble at 62:00. I really liked the storyline with HHH trying to be 1992 Ric Flair, but then it fell into the usual Rumble trap of piling midcarders in there and grinding it to a halt without a payoff. ***1/2 RAW World title: Edge v. John Cena This is their first “real” match in a series that currently sits at 300,000 and counting. Cena pounds Edge and gets a clothesline to put him on the floor, but Edge pulls him out for a quick brawl. Back in, Cena with a sideslam for two. Edge bails and hides behind Lita (at her hot slutty mess peak here), but Cena of course won’t hit a woman and Edge gets the cheapshot. He follows with a baseball slide to put Cena into the front row. Back in, Edge pounds away with knees on the ropes and chokes him down. They slug it out and Edge gets a leg lariat for two and follows with a german suplex, then puts him down with a standing dropkick and out to the floor. Back in, Edge with a missile dropkick for two. They fight for a superplex and Cena sends Edge to the mat and follows with the legdrop for one. Edge charges into the corner and Cena almost gets an FU, but Cena reverses to a rollup for two. Edge puts him down with a big boot and goes up again, but Cena rolls through a bodypress and gets two. Edge with a sleeper, but Cena powers him into the corner to break. Edge sets up for the spear instead, but hits the turnbuckle and walks into a Cena DDT for the double KO. That’s not what this match needed. Cena makes the comeback with the backdrop suplex and Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Lita has the ref distracted. Probably with her awesome rack. (2012 Scott sez:  Even age and an arrest record can’t take that away.)  FU and STFU finishes at 14:00 to give Cena the title back, however. They’d have awesome matches in the future, but this wasn’t one of them, as it was ultra generic heel offense from Edge and basically just a way to get the belt back on Cena. **3/4 Meanwhile, Josh Matthews or Todd Grisham or whichever one he is calls Edge a “transitional champion”, showing that he has no idea what that term means. Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Mark Henry Yeah, this gets the main event slot. Mark Henry has Daivari with him in another angle that I don’t remember and probably went nowhere. Angle slugs away on Henry, but tries a bodypress and gets dumped. Back in, Angle tries a facelock and gets dropped on the top rope as a result. Henry with the big splash for two. Cole gets really excited about that. It’s a fucking big splash, Cole. Henry goes to the bearhug to really ramp up the pace, but Angle hiptosses out of it. He goes up and gets caught again, but slips into an anklelock attempt. Henry pounds him down with the clubbing forearms, but Angle pulls out a german suplex and the Angle slam for two. Anklelock, but the ref is bumped. Angle gets rid of Daivari with a chairshot and goes low on Henry. Two chairshots get two. Oh come on. No one gives a shit about Henry, just end it. Angle undoes a turnbuckle, sends Henry into it, and rolls him up to retain at 9:19. Pretty terrible even by Angle’s declining standards that year. * Undertaker returns to close the show, destroying the ring with his mystical powers (no, really) and setting up a pretty great main event against Angle the next month.  (2012 Scott sez:  I definitely did not see myself turning into a supporter of Mark Henry years later, but here we are.)  The Pulse This is definitely one of the weakest and most forgettable Rumble cards top-to-bottom, setting up a weak and forgettable Wrestlemania in turn. Recommendation to avoid.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2005

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2005 – Live from Fresno, CA. – Your hosts are JR, King, Cole and Tazz. Opening match: Edge v. Shawn Michaels. Shawn attacks to start and gets a backdrop, then takes him out of the ring with a clothesline. Edge stops to be all crazy, and heads back in to exchange shots in the corner. Shawn gets the best of that and puts his head down, perhaps in celebration, allowing Edge to get a neckbreaker. Edge slugs him down, but Shawn fights back, forcing Edge to use that old standby, the thumb to the eye. Shawn gives him a Thesz Press and tosses him, but misses a baseball slide. Edge gives him an Edge-o-Matic on the floor as a result. Edge follows with his own baseball slide, and this one hits. Back in, Edge sends him into the turnbuckles and stomps away, then fends off another comeback attempt by blocking a rana with a powerbomb. That gets two. Edge hits the chinlock, and that goes on for a while. Shawn fights up, so Edge takes him down again and mocks him. That never seems to be a sound strategy. Edge keeps hitting him with chops and charges, but goes up and whiffs, allowing Shawn to get a rollup for two. Edge kicks him down for two. They slug it out and Edge goes for a backdrop suplex, but Shawn falls on top for two. Edge clotheslines him down again and we go back to the chinlock. Shawn fights out and makes the comeback, hitting Edge with an inverted atomic drop and blocking a blind charge with an elbow. That sequence looked pretty awkward. Shawn pounds away in the corner and gets a sunset flip for two. Catapult into the corner gets two. Edge bails and decides to walk out, but Shawn is like “Hey, that’s my act!” and chases him back in again. They brawl on the floor and Shawn walks into a spear. Edge tries for the countout, but Shawn is too darn resilient. Edge gets a little overconfident and sets up for the spear, hitting it clean for two. They head up top and slug it out, which puts Edge down for a flying elbow from Shawn. Shawn gets possessed by the holy spirit and he’s JESUSING UP, but Edge counters the superkick with an electric chair. About time someone thought of that. It gets two. Personally I’m waiting for someone to wait until he sticks his leg in the air and then punch him in the nuts, but maybe that’s just me. (2012 Scott sez:  Pretty sure Jericho busted that one out in 2008, actually.)  Shawn gets a sunset flip, but Edge rolls through into the Edgeucator, and Shawn really should have tapped there. He doesn’t, however, because he’s just too darn resilient. Edge tries again, but Shawn counters for two. Rollup gets two, countered by Edge for the pin at 18:35. Didn’t like the finish and the slow middle portion, but the rest was solid. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t remember the circumstances around this feud, but it seems like it should have been better than it was.)  – Meanwhile, Flair and Eddie draw their numbers, resulting in Flair being delighted and Eddie not so much. The solution: Eddie picks his pocket. That’s certainly a unique solution. – Meanwhile, Heidenreich and Snitsky continue their epic romance from Survivor Series. I think someone’s been watching too much Oz. – Casket match: Undertaker v. Heidenreich. Speaking of Oz, this should be about as much fun as prison rape. UT grabs a headlock to start and hiptosses him into an armdrag. Heidenreich backs off, because he’s afraid of caskets. Interestingly, I’m afraid of Heidenreich matches. So everyone is kind of facing their fears. Taker goes after the knee now and gets a half-crab. Heidenreich bails and tries to run away, but Taker follows, and they brawl. I use that term loosely. Taker gets the worst of it, as Heidenreich overcomes his fear of caskets and rams UT into it a few times. They head into the ring, where Taker gets the deadly Bermuda Triangle Choke, but Snitsky runs in and breaks it up. That’s quite the complex plan they hatched, no? That allows Kane to pop out of the casket, which I’m sure no one saw coming, and clean house on his arch-enemy. How sad is it to have an arch-enemy named Gene Snitsky, whose gimmick is killing babies? Meanwhile, Heidenreich continues to fight his necrophobia, shoving the casket down the aisle while making sure no one else is going to pop out, and he whips UT into the stairs. He drives the casket into Undertaker, although it clearly misses by a lot, and they head back into the ring, where Heidenreich struggles to get a SLEEPER on Undertaker. Yes, he couldn’t remember how to do a sleeper. He rolls Taker into the casket, but that only makes him mad. Taker sandwiches Heidenreich in the casket and drops a leg on it, which was a nice spot if nothing else. Taker tries a bulldog (?!?) and Heidenreich counters to a Bossman slam, then tries a pin. Heidenreich smartens up and rolls him into the casket instead, but again it doesn’t work. They slug it out, with Heidenreich looking like he’s stoned while he flails away, and Taker gets a bad-looking DDT to set up a worse-looking chokeslam, and the tombstone thankfully finishes things at 13:19. Watchable, but not much more. * (2012 Scott sez:  I still feel ripped off that we didn’t get Kane & Undertaker v. Snitsky & Heidenreich at Wrestlemania.)  – Meanwhile, Teddy Long wants Flair’s number back from Eddie. And the wallet. (2012 Scott sez:  The number was probably worth more than the wallet at that point.)  – Meanwhile, John Cena’s number picking is interrupted by Christian, who wants a RAP OFF. “Tomko, give me a beat.” “No.” (2012 Scott sez:  TOMKO~!  This of course was a legendary segment.)  Christian’s rap is both fresh and phat, but Cena wins due to politics. – Smackdown World title: JBL v. Big Show v. Kurt Angle. Bradshaw goes after Show to start, and that doesn’t prove smart. Show smacks him around in the corner, but runs into a boot in the corner. JBL tries to follow with a high cross, but Show catches him and drops a leg for two. That brings Angle into things, and he gets pounded by Show, too. Show suplexes JBL and boots Angle down, then clotheslines both of them out of the ring. They fight on the floor and JBL eats post, while Show moves furniture around. He tries to chokeslam JBL through the table, but Angle saves with a low blow and a monitor to the head that sends Show crashing through the table. So with Show detained for a while, Angle beats on JBL and chases him into the ring, taking him down with an armdrag. JBL tries a big boot, but Angle takes him down with an armbar and tries to stay on that. Bradshaw takes over with a corner clothesline, but falls victim to a german suplex. He tries to counter with the Clothesline from New York, but Angle ducks (what a counter!) and gets another german. Angle Slam is countered with a boot to the face, which gets two. Show wanders back into the match and clotheslines them both a bunch of times, then slams Angle onto JBL. Into the corner for a butt splash on both, and another double clothesline sets up a double chokeslam. Angle and JBL team up for Total Elimination, but then Angle turns on JBL and suplexes him, then gets two on Show. Angle Slam on Show follows, and JBL gets two from that. Show comes back with a chokeslam for two. JBL bails, so Show charges him and puts him through the railing! Now there’s a spot you don’t see every day. Meanwhile Angle sneaks around and sets up a chair in the ring. Show flapjacks him on his own chair, but Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns attack Show. JBL’s flunkies help him out on the floor while Show beats up Angle’s crew, and OJ throws JBL into the ring, where he clotheslines Angle for the pin at 12:04. I know this will probably shock people, but I think this was too SHORT, because I was actually enjoying the hell out of it and liking the inventive spots before the abrupt finish. The overbooked finish kind of hurt it a bit, too. ***1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Talking point:  Who had the worse crew of flunkies at this point, Angle or JBL?)  RAW World title: HHH v. Randy Orton. Orton slugs him down to start and gets a backslide for two. He pounds HHH into the corner and backdrops him out, but a kick RKO attempt is foiled by HHH. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Steve Austin RARELY had the stunner countered or averted, and ditto DDP with the Diamond Cutter. That’s why it was such a great finish. When it happened, it was over, period. Anyway, HHH fights back and pounds away in the corner, but Orton drops him on the top rope and tries ANOTHER RKO, and fails AGAIN, as HHH dumps him out of the ring. Orton’s like a horny teenager going for a girl’s boob with that thing. HHH sends him into the stairs and slugs away, but charges and hits boot. Orton fights back as the crowd starts to turn on him, and HHH clips the knee and wraps it around the post. Back in, HHH clips him and drops an elbow on the knee. He keeps working on it, but Orton gets a cradle for two. HHH goes right back to it, and it’s figure-four time. After a couple of minutes of that, Orton reverses to escape, so HHH goes right back to the knee. Orton kicks him out of the ring, and fights back with a backbreaker as HHH comes back in. And suddenly the knee injury is miraculously healed and forgotten about. Neckbreaker gets two. Another one gets two. Powerslam gets two. HHH comes back with an atomic drop out of the corner and goes up, but gets slammed off. Orton goes up with a high cross for two. HHH comes back with a Pedigree attempt, which gets countered into a catapult. HHH counters the RKO again and follows with a high knee for two. Another Pedigree is countered with a clothesline, which gets two. They fight outside and Orton sends him into the stairs, and back in Orton slugs away in the corner. He tries a DDT, but HHH blocks and Orton seems to have knocked himself out. Orton takes a breather and gets checked out by the ref, who is promptly bumped by HHH. HHH beats Orton down like his bitch and then grabs the sledgehammer, but Orton manages to fight him off. Back in, Orton goes for the hammer, but gets owned by HHH. And that’s all she wrote for Orton, as KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes things at 21:28. Weird match, with a ref bump that didn’t even give Orton any offense, and a total destruction at the end by HHH. Oh well. **3/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Not much to say here.  That was the end of Orton’s big babyface run at the top, and it took him another couple of years to really find his way as a top level guy.)  Royal Rumble: Eddie Guerrero draws #1, and Chris Benoit is #2. They fight in the corner to start and Benoit takes him down with an armdrag, but so does Eddie. Eddie takes him down in a headlock and overpowers him, as Daniel Puder is #3. He stops to cut a promo, talking smack against Benoit and Guerrero, and somehow I’m sensing that’s a bad idea. They team up and kick his ass in the corner, holding a chop competition on him. Double suplex and then Benoit drops him on his head with a backdrop suplex. Guerrero gets the rolling verticals and Hardcore Holly is #4. He calls of Benoit and Guerrero, because he’s got this one. This sets up another chop contest on Puder, as they just tee off on the poor kid. Eh, who am I kidding, for $1,000,000 they can rape him in the middle of the ring and he shouldn’t be bitching. (2012 Scott sez:  How DARE someone get over on their own.  I don’t think Puder is even doing MMA these days, though.)  Holly gives him the Alabama Slam and Hurricane is #5, as Puder is out at 6:00. My boys turn on Holly and dump him at 6:15. Hurricane is their next victim, as they redden up his chest before Eddie betrays Benoit and they go back to fighting with each other again. Hurricane hits Eddie with the Blockbuster, but gets killed by Benoit’s chops again. Eddie dumps him at 7:24. Kenzo Suzuki is #6, and he takes the beating from the Radicalz. Benoit suplexes him and they pound him in the corner, then Eddie gets a backdrop suplex before Benoit tosses him…to the apron. Oooh. Eddie hangs on as Edge is #7. He’s all about Edge, to quote JR, as he goes after everyone without prejudice, and tries to dump Eddie. Doesn’t work, though. Kenzo hooks up with Benoit as Rey Mysterio is #8. He goes after everyone and bulldogs Edge, then dropkicks Benoit in the corner. Kenzo tries to dump him, but Rey hangs on and headscissors him out at 11:28. Eddie hits him with a backbreaker, however, and goes back to Benoit. Shelton Benjamin is #9 as the workrate really starts to flow. He goes after Edge with an elbow and backdrops Eddie as Benoit fights with Rey on the ropes. No one goes out, though. Rey does a nice headscissors on Shelton, and Booker T is #10. He pounds Edge down and gets a leg lariat, and Uncle Eric joins us at ringside for some reason. Rey springboards in from the apron to break up Benoit’s boston crab, and Jericho is #11. He elbows Benjamin down and starts chopping Edge, and now Teddy Long is out. Lots of punching and stuff as Luther Reigns is #12. Suddenly, all the RAW and Smackdown guys separate and team up. Big brawl erupts, which the crowd likes, and Hassan is #13. Now the brand differences are cleared up and everyone teams up to get rid of him at 20:15. Crowd likes that one too. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like Hassan as the outsider who just took things too far was an interesting gimmick idea, and I had no real problem with the subject matter as far as being tasteless or whatever, but he just couldn’t get over as a worker OR a talker, and that’s what killed him.)  Orlando Jordan is #14 as things settle back in the previous rhythm again. I think that the three black guys in the Rumble at the same time is coming close to setting some sort of record. Maybe during the Nation’s glory years there might have been four, but I can’t think of any other time there would be close to that many. The brothers should have teamed up to fight off whitey, but I can’t see that dynamic working as well with the crowd. Scotty 2 Hotty is #15, but Hassan lays him out before he even gets to the ring. Oh, sure, big man beating up a jobber. Scotty never enters the match, and thus is the winner and will presumably wrestle HHH at Wrestlemania. Charlie Haas is #16, as we’re halfway through now, and Booker kicks him in the face on the way in. Booker dumps Reigns at 24:24, and Jordan at 24:25, but Eddie dumps him at 24:42 after a Spinarooni that was ill-advised. Didn’t Ernest Miller’s dancing faux pas last year teach anyone anything? (2012 Scott sez:  Never stop for a dance-off in a Royal Rumble, no matter how funky you may be.  Brodus Clay would be well advised to remember that advice this year.)  Nice moment sees Haas & Benjamin reunited to beat on Eddie, and Rene Dupree is #17. He goes after Rey and chokes him down in the corner, but Haas hotshots him and double-teams him with Benjamin. Rey breaks up the WGTT love with a leg lariat, and Shelton goes up like a moron and gets shoved out by Edge at 26:36. How stupid do you have to be to try THAT? Speaking of stupid, Simon Dean is #18, and he takes his time getting in. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel bad for Nova getting that loser gimmick.)  Edge dumps Eddie at 28:18, drawing HUGE heel heat. They keep burying him and he keeps being the most over babyface on the roster. (2012 Scott sez:  I guess the burial remark ended up being ill-timed there.)  HBK is #19 as Dean finally gets into the ring, and he goes right for Edge. And Dean is gone at 29:11, via Shawn. Shawn goes after everyone and gets slugged down by Haas. Rey plays hide and seek with Edge as Shawn dumps Haas at 30:23, and JR confuses him with Dupree. Kurt Angle is #20, and he goes right for Benoit with a german suplex. It’s Angle Slams for everyone! Well, everyone but Shawn, who blocks and superkicks him out at 31:16. (2012 Scott sez:  Thus setting up one of the greatest WM matches of all-time!)  Coach is #21, and I’m not giving him much in the way of odds to last longer than Angle. Benoit elbows Rey down, and then turns his attention to Coach. Jericho and Rey fight on the ropes, but neither can get the other out. Mark Jindrak is #22, as Angle returns and dumps Shawn at 34:00. He beats on him outside and anklelocks him, which pretty much eats up that whole segment. Viscera is #23, as we’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Jindrak tosses Rey, but he hangs on. You’d think everyone would stop and get rid of Vis at this point. Paul London is #24, and quite enthused about it. Dupree beats him down, and Jericho dumps Dupree mid-dance at 37:40. (2012 Scott sez:  What did I JUST SAY about dance-offs in a Rumble?)  Everyone fights on the ropes and John Cena is #25. He goes nuts and hits everyone, then does us a favor and gets rid of Vis at 39:02. The intervals shorten a bit, as Snitsky is #25. He clobbers quite a few people until London tries a sleeper on him. Snitsky puts him on the apron and then clotheslines him off, resulting in London taking the somersault bump of the YEAR off the apron to go out at 40:20. Snitsky boots Cena down and Kane is #26, much to Snitsky’s chagrin. Gene goes after him and gets clotheslined, and Kane chokeslams some people for fun. Jindrak is out at 42:08. Coach commits suicide by attacking him, but Snitsky saves him. The COAT HANGER on Kane follows, and Batista is #27, to a MONSTER face pop. It’s for real, folks. (2012 Scott sez:  Well, duh.  Hard to believe people would think otherwise at the time given what a huge star Batista turned into.)  Snitsky goes bye at 43:10. He faces off with Kane and the crowd knows who it wants to win that one. Demon bomb on Kane! Jericho charges and goes for a ride at 43:57. He can’t get Edge out, however. Christian is #29 and he of course wants John Cena to avenge the rap battle. Cena FUs Kane out at 45:16, and Rey wants an alliance. Flair is of course #30, and we’ve got our field for the finish. Ric and Dave give Coach a ride at 46:32. Next up: Christian, who goes home at 46:57. Benoit goes after Flair with some chops, but Batista clobbers him with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. He goes back to Atlanta at 47:33. Flair tries to turn on Batista, and that proves to be unwise, but Rey and Edge save him. Edge spears Flair and tosses him at 48:06, and we have the last four. Final Four: Edge, Rey Mysterio, Batista and John Cena. (2012 Scott sez:  There’d be a hell of a tag match right there, and you could a few different combos of it effectively) Batista goes after Edge, but gets speared, as does Cena. Edge goes for Rey, but misses, and Rey follows with the 619. But that puts him on the apron, and Edge spears him off at 49:20. Edge goes for our heroes and gets dumped by them at 49:41. So it’s the obvious finish, with Cena and Batista. Slugfest and Cena goes for the FU, but can’t get him out. Batista tries the demon bomb, but both tumble out and it’s a tie. The RAW refs declare Batista the winner, and the Smackdown refs call Cena the winner, but Vince runs out to settle it. Sadly, he trips and blows out his knee on the way in, suffering the worst injury of the whole show. That’s pretty funny, actually. (2012 Scott sez:  Of course, it wasn’t just his knee, he actually tore BOTH quads, and was still back by Wrestlemania!  You can’t say he doesn’t set an example.)  Batista and Cena toss each other to no avail, and the match restarts. Cena goes for the FU, but Batista gets the spinebuster and tosses him for real at 53:54 to win the Rumble and go to Wrestlemania. Finish was really silly and messed up, but the rest was about as good as could be expected. **** The Pulse: The Rumble is always a fun show, even if this year was a bit of a foregone conclusion with either Cena or Batista having to win, although I’m not sure if the Rumble match was good enough to warrant a recommendation on its own given the weak undercard. Still, it was pretty darn good, so thumbs mildly up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2005

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2005 – Live from Fresno, CA. – Your hosts are JR, King, Cole and Tazz. Opening match: Edge v. Shawn Michaels. Shawn attacks to start and gets a backdrop, then takes him out of the ring with a clothesline. Edge stops to be all crazy, and heads back in to exchange shots in the corner. Shawn gets the best of that and puts his head down, perhaps in celebration, allowing Edge to get a neckbreaker. Edge slugs him down, but Shawn fights back, forcing Edge to use that old standby, the thumb to the eye. Shawn gives him a Thesz Press and tosses him, but misses a baseball slide. Edge gives him an Edge-o-Matic on the floor as a result. Edge follows with his own baseball slide, and this one hits. Back in, Edge sends him into the turnbuckles and stomps away, then fends off another comeback attempt by blocking a rana with a powerbomb. That gets two. Edge hits the chinlock, and that goes on for a while. Shawn fights up, so Edge takes him down again and mocks him. That never seems to be a sound strategy. Edge keeps hitting him with chops and charges, but goes up and whiffs, allowing Shawn to get a rollup for two. Edge kicks him down for two. They slug it out and Edge goes for a backdrop suplex, but Shawn falls on top for two. Edge clotheslines him down again and we go back to the chinlock. Shawn fights out and makes the comeback, hitting Edge with an inverted atomic drop and blocking a blind charge with an elbow. That sequence looked pretty awkward. Shawn pounds away in the corner and gets a sunset flip for two. Catapult into the corner gets two. Edge bails and decides to walk out, but Shawn is like “Hey, that’s my act!” and chases him back in again. They brawl on the floor and Shawn walks into a spear. Edge tries for the countout, but Shawn is too darn resilient. Edge gets a little overconfident and sets up for the spear, hitting it clean for two. They head up top and slug it out, which puts Edge down for a flying elbow from Shawn. Shawn gets possessed by the holy spirit and he’s JESUSING UP, but Edge counters the superkick with an electric chair. About time someone thought of that. It gets two. Personally I’m waiting for someone to wait until he sticks his leg in the air and then punch him in the nuts, but maybe that’s just me. (2012 Scott sez:  Pretty sure Jericho busted that one out in 2008, actually.)  Shawn gets a sunset flip, but Edge rolls through into the Edgeucator, and Shawn really should have tapped there. He doesn’t, however, because he’s just too darn resilient. Edge tries again, but Shawn counters for two. Rollup gets two, countered by Edge for the pin at 18:35. Didn’t like the finish and the slow middle portion, but the rest was solid. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t remember the circumstances around this feud, but it seems like it should have been better than it was.)  – Meanwhile, Flair and Eddie draw their numbers, resulting in Flair being delighted and Eddie not so much. The solution: Eddie picks his pocket. That’s certainly a unique solution. – Meanwhile, Heidenreich and Snitsky continue their epic romance from Survivor Series. I think someone’s been watching too much Oz. – Casket match: Undertaker v. Heidenreich. Speaking of Oz, this should be about as much fun as prison rape. UT grabs a headlock to start and hiptosses him into an armdrag. Heidenreich backs off, because he’s afraid of caskets. Interestingly, I’m afraid of Heidenreich matches. So everyone is kind of facing their fears. Taker goes after the knee now and gets a half-crab. Heidenreich bails and tries to run away, but Taker follows, and they brawl. I use that term loosely. Taker gets the worst of it, as Heidenreich overcomes his fear of caskets and rams UT into it a few times. They head into the ring, where Taker gets the deadly Bermuda Triangle Choke, but Snitsky runs in and breaks it up. That’s quite the complex plan they hatched, no? That allows Kane to pop out of the casket, which I’m sure no one saw coming, and clean house on his arch-enemy. How sad is it to have an arch-enemy named Gene Snitsky, whose gimmick is killing babies? Meanwhile, Heidenreich continues to fight his necrophobia, shoving the casket down the aisle while making sure no one else is going to pop out, and he whips UT into the stairs. He drives the casket into Undertaker, although it clearly misses by a lot, and they head back into the ring, where Heidenreich struggles to get a SLEEPER on Undertaker. Yes, he couldn’t remember how to do a sleeper. He rolls Taker into the casket, but that only makes him mad. Taker sandwiches Heidenreich in the casket and drops a leg on it, which was a nice spot if nothing else. Taker tries a bulldog (?!?) and Heidenreich counters to a Bossman slam, then tries a pin. Heidenreich smartens up and rolls him into the casket instead, but again it doesn’t work. They slug it out, with Heidenreich looking like he’s stoned while he flails away, and Taker gets a bad-looking DDT to set up a worse-looking chokeslam, and the tombstone thankfully finishes things at 13:19. Watchable, but not much more. * (2012 Scott sez:  I still feel ripped off that we didn’t get Kane & Undertaker v. Snitsky & Heidenreich at Wrestlemania.)  – Meanwhile, Teddy Long wants Flair’s number back from Eddie. And the wallet. (2012 Scott sez:  The number was probably worth more than the wallet at that point.)  – Meanwhile, John Cena’s number picking is interrupted by Christian, who wants a RAP OFF. “Tomko, give me a beat.” “No.” (2012 Scott sez:  TOMKO~!  This of course was a legendary segment.)  Christian’s rap is both fresh and phat, but Cena wins due to politics. – Smackdown World title: JBL v. Big Show v. Kurt Angle. Bradshaw goes after Show to start, and that doesn’t prove smart. Show smacks him around in the corner, but runs into a boot in the corner. JBL tries to follow with a high cross, but Show catches him and drops a leg for two. That brings Angle into things, and he gets pounded by Show, too. Show suplexes JBL and boots Angle down, then clotheslines both of them out of the ring. They fight on the floor and JBL eats post, while Show moves furniture around. He tries to chokeslam JBL through the table, but Angle saves with a low blow and a monitor to the head that sends Show crashing through the table. So with Show detained for a while, Angle beats on JBL and chases him into the ring, taking him down with an armdrag. JBL tries a big boot, but Angle takes him down with an armbar and tries to stay on that. Bradshaw takes over with a corner clothesline, but falls victim to a german suplex. He tries to counter with the Clothesline from New York, but Angle ducks (what a counter!) and gets another german. Angle Slam is countered with a boot to the face, which gets two. Show wanders back into the match and clotheslines them both a bunch of times, then slams Angle onto JBL. Into the corner for a butt splash on both, and another double clothesline sets up a double chokeslam. Angle and JBL team up for Total Elimination, but then Angle turns on JBL and suplexes him, then gets two on Show. Angle Slam on Show follows, and JBL gets two from that. Show comes back with a chokeslam for two. JBL bails, so Show charges him and puts him through the railing! Now there’s a spot you don’t see every day. Meanwhile Angle sneaks around and sets up a chair in the ring. Show flapjacks him on his own chair, but Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns attack Show. JBL’s flunkies help him out on the floor while Show beats up Angle’s crew, and OJ throws JBL into the ring, where he clotheslines Angle for the pin at 12:04. I know this will probably shock people, but I think this was too SHORT, because I was actually enjoying the hell out of it and liking the inventive spots before the abrupt finish. The overbooked finish kind of hurt it a bit, too. ***1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Talking point:  Who had the worse crew of flunkies at this point, Angle or JBL?)  RAW World title: HHH v. Randy Orton. Orton slugs him down to start and gets a backslide for two. He pounds HHH into the corner and backdrops him out, but a kick RKO attempt is foiled by HHH. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Steve Austin RARELY had the stunner countered or averted, and ditto DDP with the Diamond Cutter. That’s why it was such a great finish. When it happened, it was over, period. Anyway, HHH fights back and pounds away in the corner, but Orton drops him on the top rope and tries ANOTHER RKO, and fails AGAIN, as HHH dumps him out of the ring. Orton’s like a horny teenager going for a girl’s boob with that thing. HHH sends him into the stairs and slugs away, but charges and hits boot. Orton fights back as the crowd starts to turn on him, and HHH clips the knee and wraps it around the post. Back in, HHH clips him and drops an elbow on the knee. He keeps working on it, but Orton gets a cradle for two. HHH goes right back to it, and it’s figure-four time. After a couple of minutes of that, Orton reverses to escape, so HHH goes right back to the knee. Orton kicks him out of the ring, and fights back with a backbreaker as HHH comes back in. And suddenly the knee injury is miraculously healed and forgotten about. Neckbreaker gets two. Another one gets two. Powerslam gets two. HHH comes back with an atomic drop out of the corner and goes up, but gets slammed off. Orton goes up with a high cross for two. HHH comes back with a Pedigree attempt, which gets countered into a catapult. HHH counters the RKO again and follows with a high knee for two. Another Pedigree is countered with a clothesline, which gets two. They fight outside and Orton sends him into the stairs, and back in Orton slugs away in the corner. He tries a DDT, but HHH blocks and Orton seems to have knocked himself out. Orton takes a breather and gets checked out by the ref, who is promptly bumped by HHH. HHH beats Orton down like his bitch and then grabs the sledgehammer, but Orton manages to fight him off. Back in, Orton goes for the hammer, but gets owned by HHH. And that’s all she wrote for Orton, as KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes things at 21:28. Weird match, with a ref bump that didn’t even give Orton any offense, and a total destruction at the end by HHH. Oh well. **3/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Not much to say here.  That was the end of Orton’s big babyface run at the top, and it took him another couple of years to really find his way as a top level guy.)  Royal Rumble: Eddie Guerrero draws #1, and Chris Benoit is #2. They fight in the corner to start and Benoit takes him down with an armdrag, but so does Eddie. Eddie takes him down in a headlock and overpowers him, as Daniel Puder is #3. He stops to cut a promo, talking smack against Benoit and Guerrero, and somehow I’m sensing that’s a bad idea. They team up and kick his ass in the corner, holding a chop competition on him. Double suplex and then Benoit drops him on his head with a backdrop suplex. Guerrero gets the rolling verticals and Hardcore Holly is #4. He calls of Benoit and Guerrero, because he’s got this one. This sets up another chop contest on Puder, as they just tee off on the poor kid. Eh, who am I kidding, for $1,000,000 they can rape him in the middle of the ring and he shouldn’t be bitching. (2012 Scott sez:  How DARE someone get over on their own.  I don’t think Puder is even doing MMA these days, though.)  Holly gives him the Alabama Slam and Hurricane is #5, as Puder is out at 6:00. My boys turn on Holly and dump him at 6:15. Hurricane is their next victim, as they redden up his chest before Eddie betrays Benoit and they go back to fighting with each other again. Hurricane hits Eddie with the Blockbuster, but gets killed by Benoit’s chops again. Eddie dumps him at 7:24. Kenzo Suzuki is #6, and he takes the beating from the Radicalz. Benoit suplexes him and they pound him in the corner, then Eddie gets a backdrop suplex before Benoit tosses him…to the apron. Oooh. Eddie hangs on as Edge is #7. He’s all about Edge, to quote JR, as he goes after everyone without prejudice, and tries to dump Eddie. Doesn’t work, though. Kenzo hooks up with Benoit as Rey Mysterio is #8. He goes after everyone and bulldogs Edge, then dropkicks Benoit in the corner. Kenzo tries to dump him, but Rey hangs on and headscissors him out at 11:28. Eddie hits him with a backbreaker, however, and goes back to Benoit. Shelton Benjamin is #9 as the workrate really starts to flow. He goes after Edge with an elbow and backdrops Eddie as Benoit fights with Rey on the ropes. No one goes out, though. Rey does a nice headscissors on Shelton, and Booker T is #10. He pounds Edge down and gets a leg lariat, and Uncle Eric joins us at ringside for some reason. Rey springboards in from the apron to break up Benoit’s boston crab, and Jericho is #11. He elbows Benjamin down and starts chopping Edge, and now Teddy Long is out. Lots of punching and stuff as Luther Reigns is #12. Suddenly, all the RAW and Smackdown guys separate and team up. Big brawl erupts, which the crowd likes, and Hassan is #13. Now the brand differences are cleared up and everyone teams up to get rid of him at 20:15. Crowd likes that one too. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like Hassan as the outsider who just took things too far was an interesting gimmick idea, and I had no real problem with the subject matter as far as being tasteless or whatever, but he just couldn’t get over as a worker OR a talker, and that’s what killed him.)  Orlando Jordan is #14 as things settle back in the previous rhythm again. I think that the three black guys in the Rumble at the same time is coming close to setting some sort of record. Maybe during the Nation’s glory years there might have been four, but I can’t think of any other time there would be close to that many. The brothers should have teamed up to fight off whitey, but I can’t see that dynamic working as well with the crowd. Scotty 2 Hotty is #15, but Hassan lays him out before he even gets to the ring. Oh, sure, big man beating up a jobber. Scotty never enters the match, and thus is the winner and will presumably wrestle HHH at Wrestlemania. Charlie Haas is #16, as we’re halfway through now, and Booker kicks him in the face on the way in. Booker dumps Reigns at 24:24, and Jordan at 24:25, but Eddie dumps him at 24:42 after a Spinarooni that was ill-advised. Didn’t Ernest Miller’s dancing faux pas last year teach anyone anything? (2012 Scott sez:  Never stop for a dance-off in a Royal Rumble, no matter how funky you may be.  Brodus Clay would be well advised to remember that advice this year.)  Nice moment sees Haas & Benjamin reunited to beat on Eddie, and Rene Dupree is #17. He goes after Rey and chokes him down in the corner, but Haas hotshots him and double-teams him with Benjamin. Rey breaks up the WGTT love with a leg lariat, and Shelton goes up like a moron and gets shoved out by Edge at 26:36. How stupid do you have to be to try THAT? Speaking of stupid, Simon Dean is #18, and he takes his time getting in. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel bad for Nova getting that loser gimmick.)  Edge dumps Eddie at 28:18, drawing HUGE heel heat. They keep burying him and he keeps being the most over babyface on the roster. (2012 Scott sez:  I guess the burial remark ended up being ill-timed there.)  HBK is #19 as Dean finally gets into the ring, and he goes right for Edge. And Dean is gone at 29:11, via Shawn. Shawn goes after everyone and gets slugged down by Haas. Rey plays hide and seek with Edge as Shawn dumps Haas at 30:23, and JR confuses him with Dupree. Kurt Angle is #20, and he goes right for Benoit with a german suplex. It’s Angle Slams for everyone! Well, everyone but Shawn, who blocks and superkicks him out at 31:16. (2012 Scott sez:  Thus setting up one of the greatest WM matches of all-time!)  Coach is #21, and I’m not giving him much in the way of odds to last longer than Angle. Benoit elbows Rey down, and then turns his attention to Coach. Jericho and Rey fight on the ropes, but neither can get the other out. Mark Jindrak is #22, as Angle returns and dumps Shawn at 34:00. He beats on him outside and anklelocks him, which pretty much eats up that whole segment. Viscera is #23, as we’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Jindrak tosses Rey, but he hangs on. You’d think everyone would stop and get rid of Vis at this point. Paul London is #24, and quite enthused about it. Dupree beats him down, and Jericho dumps Dupree mid-dance at 37:40. (2012 Scott sez:  What did I JUST SAY about dance-offs in a Rumble?)  Everyone fights on the ropes and John Cena is #25. He goes nuts and hits everyone, then does us a favor and gets rid of Vis at 39:02. The intervals shorten a bit, as Snitsky is #25. He clobbers quite a few people until London tries a sleeper on him. Snitsky puts him on the apron and then clotheslines him off, resulting in London taking the somersault bump of the YEAR off the apron to go out at 40:20. Snitsky boots Cena down and Kane is #26, much to Snitsky’s chagrin. Gene goes after him and gets clotheslined, and Kane chokeslams some people for fun. Jindrak is out at 42:08. Coach commits suicide by attacking him, but Snitsky saves him. The COAT HANGER on Kane follows, and Batista is #27, to a MONSTER face pop. It’s for real, folks. (2012 Scott sez:  Well, duh.  Hard to believe people would think otherwise at the time given what a huge star Batista turned into.)  Snitsky goes bye at 43:10. He faces off with Kane and the crowd knows who it wants to win that one. Demon bomb on Kane! Jericho charges and goes for a ride at 43:57. He can’t get Edge out, however. Christian is #29 and he of course wants John Cena to avenge the rap battle. Cena FUs Kane out at 45:16, and Rey wants an alliance. Flair is of course #30, and we’ve got our field for the finish. Ric and Dave give Coach a ride at 46:32. Next up: Christian, who goes home at 46:57. Benoit goes after Flair with some chops, but Batista clobbers him with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. He goes back to Atlanta at 47:33. Flair tries to turn on Batista, and that proves to be unwise, but Rey and Edge save him. Edge spears Flair and tosses him at 48:06, and we have the last four. Final Four: Edge, Rey Mysterio, Batista and John Cena. (2012 Scott sez:  There’d be a hell of a tag match right there, and you could a few different combos of it effectively) Batista goes after Edge, but gets speared, as does Cena. Edge goes for Rey, but misses, and Rey follows with the 619. But that puts him on the apron, and Edge spears him off at 49:20. Edge goes for our heroes and gets dumped by them at 49:41. So it’s the obvious finish, with Cena and Batista. Slugfest and Cena goes for the FU, but can’t get him out. Batista tries the demon bomb, but both tumble out and it’s a tie. The RAW refs declare Batista the winner, and the Smackdown refs call Cena the winner, but Vince runs out to settle it. Sadly, he trips and blows out his knee on the way in, suffering the worst injury of the whole show. That’s pretty funny, actually. (2012 Scott sez:  Of course, it wasn’t just his knee, he actually tore BOTH quads, and was still back by Wrestlemania!  You can’t say he doesn’t set an example.)  Batista and Cena toss each other to no avail, and the match restarts. Cena goes for the FU, but Batista gets the spinebuster and tosses him for real at 53:54 to win the Rumble and go to Wrestlemania. Finish was really silly and messed up, but the rest was about as good as could be expected. **** The Pulse: The Rumble is always a fun show, even if this year was a bit of a foregone conclusion with either Cena or Batista having to win, although I’m not sure if the Rumble match was good enough to warrant a recommendation on its own given the weak undercard. Still, it was pretty darn good, so thumbs mildly up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2005

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2005 – Live from Fresno, CA. – Your hosts are JR, King, Cole and Tazz. Opening match: Edge v. Shawn Michaels. Shawn attacks to start and gets a backdrop, then takes him out of the ring with a clothesline. Edge stops to be all crazy, and heads back in to exchange shots in the corner. Shawn gets the best of that and puts his head down, perhaps in celebration, allowing Edge to get a neckbreaker. Edge slugs him down, but Shawn fights back, forcing Edge to use that old standby, the thumb to the eye. Shawn gives him a Thesz Press and tosses him, but misses a baseball slide. Edge gives him an Edge-o-Matic on the floor as a result. Edge follows with his own baseball slide, and this one hits. Back in, Edge sends him into the turnbuckles and stomps away, then fends off another comeback attempt by blocking a rana with a powerbomb. That gets two. Edge hits the chinlock, and that goes on for a while. Shawn fights up, so Edge takes him down again and mocks him. That never seems to be a sound strategy. Edge keeps hitting him with chops and charges, but goes up and whiffs, allowing Shawn to get a rollup for two. Edge kicks him down for two. They slug it out and Edge goes for a backdrop suplex, but Shawn falls on top for two. Edge clotheslines him down again and we go back to the chinlock. Shawn fights out and makes the comeback, hitting Edge with an inverted atomic drop and blocking a blind charge with an elbow. That sequence looked pretty awkward. Shawn pounds away in the corner and gets a sunset flip for two. Catapult into the corner gets two. Edge bails and decides to walk out, but Shawn is like “Hey, that’s my act!” and chases him back in again. They brawl on the floor and Shawn walks into a spear. Edge tries for the countout, but Shawn is too darn resilient. Edge gets a little overconfident and sets up for the spear, hitting it clean for two. They head up top and slug it out, which puts Edge down for a flying elbow from Shawn. Shawn gets possessed by the holy spirit and he’s JESUSING UP, but Edge counters the superkick with an electric chair. About time someone thought of that. It gets two. Personally I’m waiting for someone to wait until he sticks his leg in the air and then punch him in the nuts, but maybe that’s just me. (2012 Scott sez:  Pretty sure Jericho busted that one out in 2008, actually.)  Shawn gets a sunset flip, but Edge rolls through into the Edgeucator, and Shawn really should have tapped there. He doesn’t, however, because he’s just too darn resilient. Edge tries again, but Shawn counters for two. Rollup gets two, countered by Edge for the pin at 18:35. Didn’t like the finish and the slow middle portion, but the rest was solid. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t remember the circumstances around this feud, but it seems like it should have been better than it was.)  – Meanwhile, Flair and Eddie draw their numbers, resulting in Flair being delighted and Eddie not so much. The solution: Eddie picks his pocket. That’s certainly a unique solution. – Meanwhile, Heidenreich and Snitsky continue their epic romance from Survivor Series. I think someone’s been watching too much Oz. – Casket match: Undertaker v. Heidenreich. Speaking of Oz, this should be about as much fun as prison rape. UT grabs a headlock to start and hiptosses him into an armdrag. Heidenreich backs off, because he’s afraid of caskets. Interestingly, I’m afraid of Heidenreich matches. So everyone is kind of facing their fears. Taker goes after the knee now and gets a half-crab. Heidenreich bails and tries to run away, but Taker follows, and they brawl. I use that term loosely. Taker gets the worst of it, as Heidenreich overcomes his fear of caskets and rams UT into it a few times. They head into the ring, where Taker gets the deadly Bermuda Triangle Choke, but Snitsky runs in and breaks it up. That’s quite the complex plan they hatched, no? That allows Kane to pop out of the casket, which I’m sure no one saw coming, and clean house on his arch-enemy. How sad is it to have an arch-enemy named Gene Snitsky, whose gimmick is killing babies? Meanwhile, Heidenreich continues to fight his necrophobia, shoving the casket down the aisle while making sure no one else is going to pop out, and he whips UT into the stairs. He drives the casket into Undertaker, although it clearly misses by a lot, and they head back into the ring, where Heidenreich struggles to get a SLEEPER on Undertaker. Yes, he couldn’t remember how to do a sleeper. He rolls Taker into the casket, but that only makes him mad. Taker sandwiches Heidenreich in the casket and drops a leg on it, which was a nice spot if nothing else. Taker tries a bulldog (?!?) and Heidenreich counters to a Bossman slam, then tries a pin. Heidenreich smartens up and rolls him into the casket instead, but again it doesn’t work. They slug it out, with Heidenreich looking like he’s stoned while he flails away, and Taker gets a bad-looking DDT to set up a worse-looking chokeslam, and the tombstone thankfully finishes things at 13:19. Watchable, but not much more. * (2012 Scott sez:  I still feel ripped off that we didn’t get Kane & Undertaker v. Snitsky & Heidenreich at Wrestlemania.)  – Meanwhile, Teddy Long wants Flair’s number back from Eddie. And the wallet. (2012 Scott sez:  The number was probably worth more than the wallet at that point.)  – Meanwhile, John Cena’s number picking is interrupted by Christian, who wants a RAP OFF. “Tomko, give me a beat.” “No.” (2012 Scott sez:  TOMKO~!  This of course was a legendary segment.)  Christian’s rap is both fresh and phat, but Cena wins due to politics. – Smackdown World title: JBL v. Big Show v. Kurt Angle. Bradshaw goes after Show to start, and that doesn’t prove smart. Show smacks him around in the corner, but runs into a boot in the corner. JBL tries to follow with a high cross, but Show catches him and drops a leg for two. That brings Angle into things, and he gets pounded by Show, too. Show suplexes JBL and boots Angle down, then clotheslines both of them out of the ring. They fight on the floor and JBL eats post, while Show moves furniture around. He tries to chokeslam JBL through the table, but Angle saves with a low blow and a monitor to the head that sends Show crashing through the table. So with Show detained for a while, Angle beats on JBL and chases him into the ring, taking him down with an armdrag. JBL tries a big boot, but Angle takes him down with an armbar and tries to stay on that. Bradshaw takes over with a corner clothesline, but falls victim to a german suplex. He tries to counter with the Clothesline from New York, but Angle ducks (what a counter!) and gets another german. Angle Slam is countered with a boot to the face, which gets two. Show wanders back into the match and clotheslines them both a bunch of times, then slams Angle onto JBL. Into the corner for a butt splash on both, and another double clothesline sets up a double chokeslam. Angle and JBL team up for Total Elimination, but then Angle turns on JBL and suplexes him, then gets two on Show. Angle Slam on Show follows, and JBL gets two from that. Show comes back with a chokeslam for two. JBL bails, so Show charges him and puts him through the railing! Now there’s a spot you don’t see every day. Meanwhile Angle sneaks around and sets up a chair in the ring. Show flapjacks him on his own chair, but Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns attack Show. JBL’s flunkies help him out on the floor while Show beats up Angle’s crew, and OJ throws JBL into the ring, where he clotheslines Angle for the pin at 12:04. I know this will probably shock people, but I think this was too SHORT, because I was actually enjoying the hell out of it and liking the inventive spots before the abrupt finish. The overbooked finish kind of hurt it a bit, too. ***1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Talking point:  Who had the worse crew of flunkies at this point, Angle or JBL?)  RAW World title: HHH v. Randy Orton. Orton slugs him down to start and gets a backslide for two. He pounds HHH into the corner and backdrops him out, but a kick RKO attempt is foiled by HHH. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Steve Austin RARELY had the stunner countered or averted, and ditto DDP with the Diamond Cutter. That’s why it was such a great finish. When it happened, it was over, period. Anyway, HHH fights back and pounds away in the corner, but Orton drops him on the top rope and tries ANOTHER RKO, and fails AGAIN, as HHH dumps him out of the ring. Orton’s like a horny teenager going for a girl’s boob with that thing. HHH sends him into the stairs and slugs away, but charges and hits boot. Orton fights back as the crowd starts to turn on him, and HHH clips the knee and wraps it around the post. Back in, HHH clips him and drops an elbow on the knee. He keeps working on it, but Orton gets a cradle for two. HHH goes right back to it, and it’s figure-four time. After a couple of minutes of that, Orton reverses to escape, so HHH goes right back to the knee. Orton kicks him out of the ring, and fights back with a backbreaker as HHH comes back in. And suddenly the knee injury is miraculously healed and forgotten about. Neckbreaker gets two. Another one gets two. Powerslam gets two. HHH comes back with an atomic drop out of the corner and goes up, but gets slammed off. Orton goes up with a high cross for two. HHH comes back with a Pedigree attempt, which gets countered into a catapult. HHH counters the RKO again and follows with a high knee for two. Another Pedigree is countered with a clothesline, which gets two. They fight outside and Orton sends him into the stairs, and back in Orton slugs away in the corner. He tries a DDT, but HHH blocks and Orton seems to have knocked himself out. Orton takes a breather and gets checked out by the ref, who is promptly bumped by HHH. HHH beats Orton down like his bitch and then grabs the sledgehammer, but Orton manages to fight him off. Back in, Orton goes for the hammer, but gets owned by HHH. And that’s all she wrote for Orton, as KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes things at 21:28. Weird match, with a ref bump that didn’t even give Orton any offense, and a total destruction at the end by HHH. Oh well. **3/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Not much to say here.  That was the end of Orton’s big babyface run at the top, and it took him another couple of years to really find his way as a top level guy.)  Royal Rumble: Eddie Guerrero draws #1, and Chris Benoit is #2. They fight in the corner to start and Benoit takes him down with an armdrag, but so does Eddie. Eddie takes him down in a headlock and overpowers him, as Daniel Puder is #3. He stops to cut a promo, talking smack against Benoit and Guerrero, and somehow I’m sensing that’s a bad idea. They team up and kick his ass in the corner, holding a chop competition on him. Double suplex and then Benoit drops him on his head with a backdrop suplex. Guerrero gets the rolling verticals and Hardcore Holly is #4. He calls of Benoit and Guerrero, because he’s got this one. This sets up another chop contest on Puder, as they just tee off on the poor kid. Eh, who am I kidding, for $1,000,000 they can rape him in the middle of the ring and he shouldn’t be bitching. (2012 Scott sez:  How DARE someone get over on their own.  I don’t think Puder is even doing MMA these days, though.)  Holly gives him the Alabama Slam and Hurricane is #5, as Puder is out at 6:00. My boys turn on Holly and dump him at 6:15. Hurricane is their next victim, as they redden up his chest before Eddie betrays Benoit and they go back to fighting with each other again. Hurricane hits Eddie with the Blockbuster, but gets killed by Benoit’s chops again. Eddie dumps him at 7:24. Kenzo Suzuki is #6, and he takes the beating from the Radicalz. Benoit suplexes him and they pound him in the corner, then Eddie gets a backdrop suplex before Benoit tosses him…to the apron. Oooh. Eddie hangs on as Edge is #7. He’s all about Edge, to quote JR, as he goes after everyone without prejudice, and tries to dump Eddie. Doesn’t work, though. Kenzo hooks up with Benoit as Rey Mysterio is #8. He goes after everyone and bulldogs Edge, then dropkicks Benoit in the corner. Kenzo tries to dump him, but Rey hangs on and headscissors him out at 11:28. Eddie hits him with a backbreaker, however, and goes back to Benoit. Shelton Benjamin is #9 as the workrate really starts to flow. He goes after Edge with an elbow and backdrops Eddie as Benoit fights with Rey on the ropes. No one goes out, though. Rey does a nice headscissors on Shelton, and Booker T is #10. He pounds Edge down and gets a leg lariat, and Uncle Eric joins us at ringside for some reason. Rey springboards in from the apron to break up Benoit’s boston crab, and Jericho is #11. He elbows Benjamin down and starts chopping Edge, and now Teddy Long is out. Lots of punching and stuff as Luther Reigns is #12. Suddenly, all the RAW and Smackdown guys separate and team up. Big brawl erupts, which the crowd likes, and Hassan is #13. Now the brand differences are cleared up and everyone teams up to get rid of him at 20:15. Crowd likes that one too. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like Hassan as the outsider who just took things too far was an interesting gimmick idea, and I had no real problem with the subject matter as far as being tasteless or whatever, but he just couldn’t get over as a worker OR a talker, and that’s what killed him.)  Orlando Jordan is #14 as things settle back in the previous rhythm again. I think that the three black guys in the Rumble at the same time is coming close to setting some sort of record. Maybe during the Nation’s glory years there might have been four, but I can’t think of any other time there would be close to that many. The brothers should have teamed up to fight off whitey, but I can’t see that dynamic working as well with the crowd. Scotty 2 Hotty is #15, but Hassan lays him out before he even gets to the ring. Oh, sure, big man beating up a jobber. Scotty never enters the match, and thus is the winner and will presumably wrestle HHH at Wrestlemania. Charlie Haas is #16, as we’re halfway through now, and Booker kicks him in the face on the way in. Booker dumps Reigns at 24:24, and Jordan at 24:25, but Eddie dumps him at 24:42 after a Spinarooni that was ill-advised. Didn’t Ernest Miller’s dancing faux pas last year teach anyone anything? (2012 Scott sez:  Never stop for a dance-off in a Royal Rumble, no matter how funky you may be.  Brodus Clay would be well advised to remember that advice this year.)  Nice moment sees Haas & Benjamin reunited to beat on Eddie, and Rene Dupree is #17. He goes after Rey and chokes him down in the corner, but Haas hotshots him and double-teams him with Benjamin. Rey breaks up the WGTT love with a leg lariat, and Shelton goes up like a moron and gets shoved out by Edge at 26:36. How stupid do you have to be to try THAT? Speaking of stupid, Simon Dean is #18, and he takes his time getting in. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel bad for Nova getting that loser gimmick.)  Edge dumps Eddie at 28:18, drawing HUGE heel heat. They keep burying him and he keeps being the most over babyface on the roster. (2012 Scott sez:  I guess the burial remark ended up being ill-timed there.)  HBK is #19 as Dean finally gets into the ring, and he goes right for Edge. And Dean is gone at 29:11, via Shawn. Shawn goes after everyone and gets slugged down by Haas. Rey plays hide and seek with Edge as Shawn dumps Haas at 30:23, and JR confuses him with Dupree. Kurt Angle is #20, and he goes right for Benoit with a german suplex. It’s Angle Slams for everyone! Well, everyone but Shawn, who blocks and superkicks him out at 31:16. (2012 Scott sez:  Thus setting up one of the greatest WM matches of all-time!)  Coach is #21, and I’m not giving him much in the way of odds to last longer than Angle. Benoit elbows Rey down, and then turns his attention to Coach. Jericho and Rey fight on the ropes, but neither can get the other out. Mark Jindrak is #22, as Angle returns and dumps Shawn at 34:00. He beats on him outside and anklelocks him, which pretty much eats up that whole segment. Viscera is #23, as we’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Jindrak tosses Rey, but he hangs on. You’d think everyone would stop and get rid of Vis at this point. Paul London is #24, and quite enthused about it. Dupree beats him down, and Jericho dumps Dupree mid-dance at 37:40. (2012 Scott sez:  What did I JUST SAY about dance-offs in a Rumble?)  Everyone fights on the ropes and John Cena is #25. He goes nuts and hits everyone, then does us a favor and gets rid of Vis at 39:02. The intervals shorten a bit, as Snitsky is #25. He clobbers quite a few people until London tries a sleeper on him. Snitsky puts him on the apron and then clotheslines him off, resulting in London taking the somersault bump of the YEAR off the apron to go out at 40:20. Snitsky boots Cena down and Kane is #26, much to Snitsky’s chagrin. Gene goes after him and gets clotheslined, and Kane chokeslams some people for fun. Jindrak is out at 42:08. Coach commits suicide by attacking him, but Snitsky saves him. The COAT HANGER on Kane follows, and Batista is #27, to a MONSTER face pop. It’s for real, folks. (2012 Scott sez:  Well, duh.  Hard to believe people would think otherwise at the time given what a huge star Batista turned into.)  Snitsky goes bye at 43:10. He faces off with Kane and the crowd knows who it wants to win that one. Demon bomb on Kane! Jericho charges and goes for a ride at 43:57. He can’t get Edge out, however. Christian is #29 and he of course wants John Cena to avenge the rap battle. Cena FUs Kane out at 45:16, and Rey wants an alliance. Flair is of course #30, and we’ve got our field for the finish. Ric and Dave give Coach a ride at 46:32. Next up: Christian, who goes home at 46:57. Benoit goes after Flair with some chops, but Batista clobbers him with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. He goes back to Atlanta at 47:33. Flair tries to turn on Batista, and that proves to be unwise, but Rey and Edge save him. Edge spears Flair and tosses him at 48:06, and we have the last four. Final Four: Edge, Rey Mysterio, Batista and John Cena. (2012 Scott sez:  There’d be a hell of a tag match right there, and you could a few different combos of it effectively) Batista goes after Edge, but gets speared, as does Cena. Edge goes for Rey, but misses, and Rey follows with the 619. But that puts him on the apron, and Edge spears him off at 49:20. Edge goes for our heroes and gets dumped by them at 49:41. So it’s the obvious finish, with Cena and Batista. Slugfest and Cena goes for the FU, but can’t get him out. Batista tries the demon bomb, but both tumble out and it’s a tie. The RAW refs declare Batista the winner, and the Smackdown refs call Cena the winner, but Vince runs out to settle it. Sadly, he trips and blows out his knee on the way in, suffering the worst injury of the whole show. That’s pretty funny, actually. (2012 Scott sez:  Of course, it wasn’t just his knee, he actually tore BOTH quads, and was still back by Wrestlemania!  You can’t say he doesn’t set an example.)  Batista and Cena toss each other to no avail, and the match restarts. Cena goes for the FU, but Batista gets the spinebuster and tosses him for real at 53:54 to win the Rumble and go to Wrestlemania. Finish was really silly and messed up, but the rest was about as good as could be expected. **** The Pulse: The Rumble is always a fun show, even if this year was a bit of a foregone conclusion with either Cena or Batista having to win, although I’m not sure if the Rumble match was good enough to warrant a recommendation on its own given the weak undercard. Still, it was pretty darn good, so thumbs mildly up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2005

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2005 – Live from Fresno, CA. – Your hosts are JR, King, Cole and Tazz. Opening match: Edge v. Shawn Michaels. Shawn attacks to start and gets a backdrop, then takes him out of the ring with a clothesline. Edge stops to be all crazy, and heads back in to exchange shots in the corner. Shawn gets the best of that and puts his head down, perhaps in celebration, allowing Edge to get a neckbreaker. Edge slugs him down, but Shawn fights back, forcing Edge to use that old standby, the thumb to the eye. Shawn gives him a Thesz Press and tosses him, but misses a baseball slide. Edge gives him an Edge-o-Matic on the floor as a result. Edge follows with his own baseball slide, and this one hits. Back in, Edge sends him into the turnbuckles and stomps away, then fends off another comeback attempt by blocking a rana with a powerbomb. That gets two. Edge hits the chinlock, and that goes on for a while. Shawn fights up, so Edge takes him down again and mocks him. That never seems to be a sound strategy. Edge keeps hitting him with chops and charges, but goes up and whiffs, allowing Shawn to get a rollup for two. Edge kicks him down for two. They slug it out and Edge goes for a backdrop suplex, but Shawn falls on top for two. Edge clotheslines him down again and we go back to the chinlock. Shawn fights out and makes the comeback, hitting Edge with an inverted atomic drop and blocking a blind charge with an elbow. That sequence looked pretty awkward. Shawn pounds away in the corner and gets a sunset flip for two. Catapult into the corner gets two. Edge bails and decides to walk out, but Shawn is like “Hey, that’s my act!” and chases him back in again. They brawl on the floor and Shawn walks into a spear. Edge tries for the countout, but Shawn is too darn resilient. Edge gets a little overconfident and sets up for the spear, hitting it clean for two. They head up top and slug it out, which puts Edge down for a flying elbow from Shawn. Shawn gets possessed by the holy spirit and he’s JESUSING UP, but Edge counters the superkick with an electric chair. About time someone thought of that. It gets two. Personally I’m waiting for someone to wait until he sticks his leg in the air and then punch him in the nuts, but maybe that’s just me. (2012 Scott sez:  Pretty sure Jericho busted that one out in 2008, actually.)  Shawn gets a sunset flip, but Edge rolls through into the Edgeucator, and Shawn really should have tapped there. He doesn’t, however, because he’s just too darn resilient. Edge tries again, but Shawn counters for two. Rollup gets two, countered by Edge for the pin at 18:35. Didn’t like the finish and the slow middle portion, but the rest was solid. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t remember the circumstances around this feud, but it seems like it should have been better than it was.)  – Meanwhile, Flair and Eddie draw their numbers, resulting in Flair being delighted and Eddie not so much. The solution: Eddie picks his pocket. That’s certainly a unique solution. – Meanwhile, Heidenreich and Snitsky continue their epic romance from Survivor Series. I think someone’s been watching too much Oz. – Casket match: Undertaker v. Heidenreich. Speaking of Oz, this should be about as much fun as prison rape. UT grabs a headlock to start and hiptosses him into an armdrag. Heidenreich backs off, because he’s afraid of caskets. Interestingly, I’m afraid of Heidenreich matches. So everyone is kind of facing their fears. Taker goes after the knee now and gets a half-crab. Heidenreich bails and tries to run away, but Taker follows, and they brawl. I use that term loosely. Taker gets the worst of it, as Heidenreich overcomes his fear of caskets and rams UT into it a few times. They head into the ring, where Taker gets the deadly Bermuda Triangle Choke, but Snitsky runs in and breaks it up. That’s quite the complex plan they hatched, no? That allows Kane to pop out of the casket, which I’m sure no one saw coming, and clean house on his arch-enemy. How sad is it to have an arch-enemy named Gene Snitsky, whose gimmick is killing babies? Meanwhile, Heidenreich continues to fight his necrophobia, shoving the casket down the aisle while making sure no one else is going to pop out, and he whips UT into the stairs. He drives the casket into Undertaker, although it clearly misses by a lot, and they head back into the ring, where Heidenreich struggles to get a SLEEPER on Undertaker. Yes, he couldn’t remember how to do a sleeper. He rolls Taker into the casket, but that only makes him mad. Taker sandwiches Heidenreich in the casket and drops a leg on it, which was a nice spot if nothing else. Taker tries a bulldog (?!?) and Heidenreich counters to a Bossman slam, then tries a pin. Heidenreich smartens up and rolls him into the casket instead, but again it doesn’t work. They slug it out, with Heidenreich looking like he’s stoned while he flails away, and Taker gets a bad-looking DDT to set up a worse-looking chokeslam, and the tombstone thankfully finishes things at 13:19. Watchable, but not much more. * (2012 Scott sez:  I still feel ripped off that we didn’t get Kane & Undertaker v. Snitsky & Heidenreich at Wrestlemania.)  – Meanwhile, Teddy Long wants Flair’s number back from Eddie. And the wallet. (2012 Scott sez:  The number was probably worth more than the wallet at that point.)  – Meanwhile, John Cena’s number picking is interrupted by Christian, who wants a RAP OFF. “Tomko, give me a beat.” “No.” (2012 Scott sez:  TOMKO~!  This of course was a legendary segment.)  Christian’s rap is both fresh and phat, but Cena wins due to politics. – Smackdown World title: JBL v. Big Show v. Kurt Angle. Bradshaw goes after Show to start, and that doesn’t prove smart. Show smacks him around in the corner, but runs into a boot in the corner. JBL tries to follow with a high cross, but Show catches him and drops a leg for two. That brings Angle into things, and he gets pounded by Show, too. Show suplexes JBL and boots Angle down, then clotheslines both of them out of the ring. They fight on the floor and JBL eats post, while Show moves furniture around. He tries to chokeslam JBL through the table, but Angle saves with a low blow and a monitor to the head that sends Show crashing through the table. So with Show detained for a while, Angle beats on JBL and chases him into the ring, taking him down with an armdrag. JBL tries a big boot, but Angle takes him down with an armbar and tries to stay on that. Bradshaw takes over with a corner clothesline, but falls victim to a german suplex. He tries to counter with the Clothesline from New York, but Angle ducks (what a counter!) and gets another german. Angle Slam is countered with a boot to the face, which gets two. Show wanders back into the match and clotheslines them both a bunch of times, then slams Angle onto JBL. Into the corner for a butt splash on both, and another double clothesline sets up a double chokeslam. Angle and JBL team up for Total Elimination, but then Angle turns on JBL and suplexes him, then gets two on Show. Angle Slam on Show follows, and JBL gets two from that. Show comes back with a chokeslam for two. JBL bails, so Show charges him and puts him through the railing! Now there’s a spot you don’t see every day. Meanwhile Angle sneaks around and sets up a chair in the ring. Show flapjacks him on his own chair, but Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns attack Show. JBL’s flunkies help him out on the floor while Show beats up Angle’s crew, and OJ throws JBL into the ring, where he clotheslines Angle for the pin at 12:04. I know this will probably shock people, but I think this was too SHORT, because I was actually enjoying the hell out of it and liking the inventive spots before the abrupt finish. The overbooked finish kind of hurt it a bit, too. ***1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Talking point:  Who had the worse crew of flunkies at this point, Angle or JBL?)  RAW World title: HHH v. Randy Orton. Orton slugs him down to start and gets a backslide for two. He pounds HHH into the corner and backdrops him out, but a kick RKO attempt is foiled by HHH. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Steve Austin RARELY had the stunner countered or averted, and ditto DDP with the Diamond Cutter. That’s why it was such a great finish. When it happened, it was over, period. Anyway, HHH fights back and pounds away in the corner, but Orton drops him on the top rope and tries ANOTHER RKO, and fails AGAIN, as HHH dumps him out of the ring. Orton’s like a horny teenager going for a girl’s boob with that thing. HHH sends him into the stairs and slugs away, but charges and hits boot. Orton fights back as the crowd starts to turn on him, and HHH clips the knee and wraps it around the post. Back in, HHH clips him and drops an elbow on the knee. He keeps working on it, but Orton gets a cradle for two. HHH goes right back to it, and it’s figure-four time. After a couple of minutes of that, Orton reverses to escape, so HHH goes right back to the knee. Orton kicks him out of the ring, and fights back with a backbreaker as HHH comes back in. And suddenly the knee injury is miraculously healed and forgotten about. Neckbreaker gets two. Another one gets two. Powerslam gets two. HHH comes back with an atomic drop out of the corner and goes up, but gets slammed off. Orton goes up with a high cross for two. HHH comes back with a Pedigree attempt, which gets countered into a catapult. HHH counters the RKO again and follows with a high knee for two. Another Pedigree is countered with a clothesline, which gets two. They fight outside and Orton sends him into the stairs, and back in Orton slugs away in the corner. He tries a DDT, but HHH blocks and Orton seems to have knocked himself out. Orton takes a breather and gets checked out by the ref, who is promptly bumped by HHH. HHH beats Orton down like his bitch and then grabs the sledgehammer, but Orton manages to fight him off. Back in, Orton goes for the hammer, but gets owned by HHH. And that’s all she wrote for Orton, as KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes things at 21:28. Weird match, with a ref bump that didn’t even give Orton any offense, and a total destruction at the end by HHH. Oh well. **3/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Not much to say here.  That was the end of Orton’s big babyface run at the top, and it took him another couple of years to really find his way as a top level guy.)  Royal Rumble: Eddie Guerrero draws #1, and Chris Benoit is #2. They fight in the corner to start and Benoit takes him down with an armdrag, but so does Eddie. Eddie takes him down in a headlock and overpowers him, as Daniel Puder is #3. He stops to cut a promo, talking smack against Benoit and Guerrero, and somehow I’m sensing that’s a bad idea. They team up and kick his ass in the corner, holding a chop competition on him. Double suplex and then Benoit drops him on his head with a backdrop suplex. Guerrero gets the rolling verticals and Hardcore Holly is #4. He calls of Benoit and Guerrero, because he’s got this one. This sets up another chop contest on Puder, as they just tee off on the poor kid. Eh, who am I kidding, for $1,000,000 they can rape him in the middle of the ring and he shouldn’t be bitching. (2012 Scott sez:  How DARE someone get over on their own.  I don’t think Puder is even doing MMA these days, though.)  Holly gives him the Alabama Slam and Hurricane is #5, as Puder is out at 6:00. My boys turn on Holly and dump him at 6:15. Hurricane is their next victim, as they redden up his chest before Eddie betrays Benoit and they go back to fighting with each other again. Hurricane hits Eddie with the Blockbuster, but gets killed by Benoit’s chops again. Eddie dumps him at 7:24. Kenzo Suzuki is #6, and he takes the beating from the Radicalz. Benoit suplexes him and they pound him in the corner, then Eddie gets a backdrop suplex before Benoit tosses him…to the apron. Oooh. Eddie hangs on as Edge is #7. He’s all about Edge, to quote JR, as he goes after everyone without prejudice, and tries to dump Eddie. Doesn’t work, though. Kenzo hooks up with Benoit as Rey Mysterio is #8. He goes after everyone and bulldogs Edge, then dropkicks Benoit in the corner. Kenzo tries to dump him, but Rey hangs on and headscissors him out at 11:28. Eddie hits him with a backbreaker, however, and goes back to Benoit. Shelton Benjamin is #9 as the workrate really starts to flow. He goes after Edge with an elbow and backdrops Eddie as Benoit fights with Rey on the ropes. No one goes out, though. Rey does a nice headscissors on Shelton, and Booker T is #10. He pounds Edge down and gets a leg lariat, and Uncle Eric joins us at ringside for some reason. Rey springboards in from the apron to break up Benoit’s boston crab, and Jericho is #11. He elbows Benjamin down and starts chopping Edge, and now Teddy Long is out. Lots of punching and stuff as Luther Reigns is #12. Suddenly, all the RAW and Smackdown guys separate and team up. Big brawl erupts, which the crowd likes, and Hassan is #13. Now the brand differences are cleared up and everyone teams up to get rid of him at 20:15. Crowd likes that one too. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like Hassan as the outsider who just took things too far was an interesting gimmick idea, and I had no real problem with the subject matter as far as being tasteless or whatever, but he just couldn’t get over as a worker OR a talker, and that’s what killed him.)  Orlando Jordan is #14 as things settle back in the previous rhythm again. I think that the three black guys in the Rumble at the same time is coming close to setting some sort of record. Maybe during the Nation’s glory years there might have been four, but I can’t think of any other time there would be close to that many. The brothers should have teamed up to fight off whitey, but I can’t see that dynamic working as well with the crowd. Scotty 2 Hotty is #15, but Hassan lays him out before he even gets to the ring. Oh, sure, big man beating up a jobber. Scotty never enters the match, and thus is the winner and will presumably wrestle HHH at Wrestlemania. Charlie Haas is #16, as we’re halfway through now, and Booker kicks him in the face on the way in. Booker dumps Reigns at 24:24, and Jordan at 24:25, but Eddie dumps him at 24:42 after a Spinarooni that was ill-advised. Didn’t Ernest Miller’s dancing faux pas last year teach anyone anything? (2012 Scott sez:  Never stop for a dance-off in a Royal Rumble, no matter how funky you may be.  Brodus Clay would be well advised to remember that advice this year.)  Nice moment sees Haas & Benjamin reunited to beat on Eddie, and Rene Dupree is #17. He goes after Rey and chokes him down in the corner, but Haas hotshots him and double-teams him with Benjamin. Rey breaks up the WGTT love with a leg lariat, and Shelton goes up like a moron and gets shoved out by Edge at 26:36. How stupid do you have to be to try THAT? Speaking of stupid, Simon Dean is #18, and he takes his time getting in. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel bad for Nova getting that loser gimmick.)  Edge dumps Eddie at 28:18, drawing HUGE heel heat. They keep burying him and he keeps being the most over babyface on the roster. (2012 Scott sez:  I guess the burial remark ended up being ill-timed there.)  HBK is #19 as Dean finally gets into the ring, and he goes right for Edge. And Dean is gone at 29:11, via Shawn. Shawn goes after everyone and gets slugged down by Haas. Rey plays hide and seek with Edge as Shawn dumps Haas at 30:23, and JR confuses him with Dupree. Kurt Angle is #20, and he goes right for Benoit with a german suplex. It’s Angle Slams for everyone! Well, everyone but Shawn, who blocks and superkicks him out at 31:16. (2012 Scott sez:  Thus setting up one of the greatest WM matches of all-time!)  Coach is #21, and I’m not giving him much in the way of odds to last longer than Angle. Benoit elbows Rey down, and then turns his attention to Coach. Jericho and Rey fight on the ropes, but neither can get the other out. Mark Jindrak is #22, as Angle returns and dumps Shawn at 34:00. He beats on him outside and anklelocks him, which pretty much eats up that whole segment. Viscera is #23, as we’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Jindrak tosses Rey, but he hangs on. You’d think everyone would stop and get rid of Vis at this point. Paul London is #24, and quite enthused about it. Dupree beats him down, and Jericho dumps Dupree mid-dance at 37:40. (2012 Scott sez:  What did I JUST SAY about dance-offs in a Rumble?)  Everyone fights on the ropes and John Cena is #25. He goes nuts and hits everyone, then does us a favor and gets rid of Vis at 39:02. The intervals shorten a bit, as Snitsky is #25. He clobbers quite a few people until London tries a sleeper on him. Snitsky puts him on the apron and then clotheslines him off, resulting in London taking the somersault bump of the YEAR off the apron to go out at 40:20. Snitsky boots Cena down and Kane is #26, much to Snitsky’s chagrin. Gene goes after him and gets clotheslined, and Kane chokeslams some people for fun. Jindrak is out at 42:08. Coach commits suicide by attacking him, but Snitsky saves him. The COAT HANGER on Kane follows, and Batista is #27, to a MONSTER face pop. It’s for real, folks. (2012 Scott sez:  Well, duh.  Hard to believe people would think otherwise at the time given what a huge star Batista turned into.)  Snitsky goes bye at 43:10. He faces off with Kane and the crowd knows who it wants to win that one. Demon bomb on Kane! Jericho charges and goes for a ride at 43:57. He can’t get Edge out, however. Christian is #29 and he of course wants John Cena to avenge the rap battle. Cena FUs Kane out at 45:16, and Rey wants an alliance. Flair is of course #30, and we’ve got our field for the finish. Ric and Dave give Coach a ride at 46:32. Next up: Christian, who goes home at 46:57. Benoit goes after Flair with some chops, but Batista clobbers him with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. He goes back to Atlanta at 47:33. Flair tries to turn on Batista, and that proves to be unwise, but Rey and Edge save him. Edge spears Flair and tosses him at 48:06, and we have the last four. Final Four: Edge, Rey Mysterio, Batista and John Cena. (2012 Scott sez:  There’d be a hell of a tag match right there, and you could a few different combos of it effectively) Batista goes after Edge, but gets speared, as does Cena. Edge goes for Rey, but misses, and Rey follows with the 619. But that puts him on the apron, and Edge spears him off at 49:20. Edge goes for our heroes and gets dumped by them at 49:41. So it’s the obvious finish, with Cena and Batista. Slugfest and Cena goes for the FU, but can’t get him out. Batista tries the demon bomb, but both tumble out and it’s a tie. The RAW refs declare Batista the winner, and the Smackdown refs call Cena the winner, but Vince runs out to settle it. Sadly, he trips and blows out his knee on the way in, suffering the worst injury of the whole show. That’s pretty funny, actually. (2012 Scott sez:  Of course, it wasn’t just his knee, he actually tore BOTH quads, and was still back by Wrestlemania!  You can’t say he doesn’t set an example.)  Batista and Cena toss each other to no avail, and the match restarts. Cena goes for the FU, but Batista gets the spinebuster and tosses him for real at 53:54 to win the Rumble and go to Wrestlemania. Finish was really silly and messed up, but the rest was about as good as could be expected. **** The Pulse: The Rumble is always a fun show, even if this year was a bit of a foregone conclusion with either Cena or Batista having to win, although I’m not sure if the Rumble match was good enough to warrant a recommendation on its own given the weak undercard. Still, it was pretty darn good, so thumbs mildly up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2005

The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2005 – Live from Fresno, CA. – Your hosts are JR, King, Cole and Tazz. Opening match: Edge v. Shawn Michaels. Shawn attacks to start and gets a backdrop, then takes him out of the ring with a clothesline. Edge stops to be all crazy, and heads back in to exchange shots in the corner. Shawn gets the best of that and puts his head down, perhaps in celebration, allowing Edge to get a neckbreaker. Edge slugs him down, but Shawn fights back, forcing Edge to use that old standby, the thumb to the eye. Shawn gives him a Thesz Press and tosses him, but misses a baseball slide. Edge gives him an Edge-o-Matic on the floor as a result. Edge follows with his own baseball slide, and this one hits. Back in, Edge sends him into the turnbuckles and stomps away, then fends off another comeback attempt by blocking a rana with a powerbomb. That gets two. Edge hits the chinlock, and that goes on for a while. Shawn fights up, so Edge takes him down again and mocks him. That never seems to be a sound strategy. Edge keeps hitting him with chops and charges, but goes up and whiffs, allowing Shawn to get a rollup for two. Edge kicks him down for two. They slug it out and Edge goes for a backdrop suplex, but Shawn falls on top for two. Edge clotheslines him down again and we go back to the chinlock. Shawn fights out and makes the comeback, hitting Edge with an inverted atomic drop and blocking a blind charge with an elbow. That sequence looked pretty awkward. Shawn pounds away in the corner and gets a sunset flip for two. Catapult into the corner gets two. Edge bails and decides to walk out, but Shawn is like “Hey, that’s my act!” and chases him back in again. They brawl on the floor and Shawn walks into a spear. Edge tries for the countout, but Shawn is too darn resilient. Edge gets a little overconfident and sets up for the spear, hitting it clean for two. They head up top and slug it out, which puts Edge down for a flying elbow from Shawn. Shawn gets possessed by the holy spirit and he’s JESUSING UP, but Edge counters the superkick with an electric chair. About time someone thought of that. It gets two. Personally I’m waiting for someone to wait until he sticks his leg in the air and then punch him in the nuts, but maybe that’s just me. (2012 Scott sez:  Pretty sure Jericho busted that one out in 2008, actually.)  Shawn gets a sunset flip, but Edge rolls through into the Edgeucator, and Shawn really should have tapped there. He doesn’t, however, because he’s just too darn resilient. Edge tries again, but Shawn counters for two. Rollup gets two, countered by Edge for the pin at 18:35. Didn’t like the finish and the slow middle portion, but the rest was solid. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Don’t remember the circumstances around this feud, but it seems like it should have been better than it was.)  – Meanwhile, Flair and Eddie draw their numbers, resulting in Flair being delighted and Eddie not so much. The solution: Eddie picks his pocket. That’s certainly a unique solution. – Meanwhile, Heidenreich and Snitsky continue their epic romance from Survivor Series. I think someone’s been watching too much Oz. – Casket match: Undertaker v. Heidenreich. Speaking of Oz, this should be about as much fun as prison rape. UT grabs a headlock to start and hiptosses him into an armdrag. Heidenreich backs off, because he’s afraid of caskets. Interestingly, I’m afraid of Heidenreich matches. So everyone is kind of facing their fears. Taker goes after the knee now and gets a half-crab. Heidenreich bails and tries to run away, but Taker follows, and they brawl. I use that term loosely. Taker gets the worst of it, as Heidenreich overcomes his fear of caskets and rams UT into it a few times. They head into the ring, where Taker gets the deadly Bermuda Triangle Choke, but Snitsky runs in and breaks it up. That’s quite the complex plan they hatched, no? That allows Kane to pop out of the casket, which I’m sure no one saw coming, and clean house on his arch-enemy. How sad is it to have an arch-enemy named Gene Snitsky, whose gimmick is killing babies? Meanwhile, Heidenreich continues to fight his necrophobia, shoving the casket down the aisle while making sure no one else is going to pop out, and he whips UT into the stairs. He drives the casket into Undertaker, although it clearly misses by a lot, and they head back into the ring, where Heidenreich struggles to get a SLEEPER on Undertaker. Yes, he couldn’t remember how to do a sleeper. He rolls Taker into the casket, but that only makes him mad. Taker sandwiches Heidenreich in the casket and drops a leg on it, which was a nice spot if nothing else. Taker tries a bulldog (?!?) and Heidenreich counters to a Bossman slam, then tries a pin. Heidenreich smartens up and rolls him into the casket instead, but again it doesn’t work. They slug it out, with Heidenreich looking like he’s stoned while he flails away, and Taker gets a bad-looking DDT to set up a worse-looking chokeslam, and the tombstone thankfully finishes things at 13:19. Watchable, but not much more. * (2012 Scott sez:  I still feel ripped off that we didn’t get Kane & Undertaker v. Snitsky & Heidenreich at Wrestlemania.)  – Meanwhile, Teddy Long wants Flair’s number back from Eddie. And the wallet. (2012 Scott sez:  The number was probably worth more than the wallet at that point.)  – Meanwhile, John Cena’s number picking is interrupted by Christian, who wants a RAP OFF. “Tomko, give me a beat.” “No.” (2012 Scott sez:  TOMKO~!  This of course was a legendary segment.)  Christian’s rap is both fresh and phat, but Cena wins due to politics. – Smackdown World title: JBL v. Big Show v. Kurt Angle. Bradshaw goes after Show to start, and that doesn’t prove smart. Show smacks him around in the corner, but runs into a boot in the corner. JBL tries to follow with a high cross, but Show catches him and drops a leg for two. That brings Angle into things, and he gets pounded by Show, too. Show suplexes JBL and boots Angle down, then clotheslines both of them out of the ring. They fight on the floor and JBL eats post, while Show moves furniture around. He tries to chokeslam JBL through the table, but Angle saves with a low blow and a monitor to the head that sends Show crashing through the table. So with Show detained for a while, Angle beats on JBL and chases him into the ring, taking him down with an armdrag. JBL tries a big boot, but Angle takes him down with an armbar and tries to stay on that. Bradshaw takes over with a corner clothesline, but falls victim to a german suplex. He tries to counter with the Clothesline from New York, but Angle ducks (what a counter!) and gets another german. Angle Slam is countered with a boot to the face, which gets two. Show wanders back into the match and clotheslines them both a bunch of times, then slams Angle onto JBL. Into the corner for a butt splash on both, and another double clothesline sets up a double chokeslam. Angle and JBL team up for Total Elimination, but then Angle turns on JBL and suplexes him, then gets two on Show. Angle Slam on Show follows, and JBL gets two from that. Show comes back with a chokeslam for two. JBL bails, so Show charges him and puts him through the railing! Now there’s a spot you don’t see every day. Meanwhile Angle sneaks around and sets up a chair in the ring. Show flapjacks him on his own chair, but Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns attack Show. JBL’s flunkies help him out on the floor while Show beats up Angle’s crew, and OJ throws JBL into the ring, where he clotheslines Angle for the pin at 12:04. I know this will probably shock people, but I think this was too SHORT, because I was actually enjoying the hell out of it and liking the inventive spots before the abrupt finish. The overbooked finish kind of hurt it a bit, too. ***1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Talking point:  Who had the worse crew of flunkies at this point, Angle or JBL?)  RAW World title: HHH v. Randy Orton. Orton slugs him down to start and gets a backslide for two. He pounds HHH into the corner and backdrops him out, but a kick RKO attempt is foiled by HHH. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Steve Austin RARELY had the stunner countered or averted, and ditto DDP with the Diamond Cutter. That’s why it was such a great finish. When it happened, it was over, period. Anyway, HHH fights back and pounds away in the corner, but Orton drops him on the top rope and tries ANOTHER RKO, and fails AGAIN, as HHH dumps him out of the ring. Orton’s like a horny teenager going for a girl’s boob with that thing. HHH sends him into the stairs and slugs away, but charges and hits boot. Orton fights back as the crowd starts to turn on him, and HHH clips the knee and wraps it around the post. Back in, HHH clips him and drops an elbow on the knee. He keeps working on it, but Orton gets a cradle for two. HHH goes right back to it, and it’s figure-four time. After a couple of minutes of that, Orton reverses to escape, so HHH goes right back to the knee. Orton kicks him out of the ring, and fights back with a backbreaker as HHH comes back in. And suddenly the knee injury is miraculously healed and forgotten about. Neckbreaker gets two. Another one gets two. Powerslam gets two. HHH comes back with an atomic drop out of the corner and goes up, but gets slammed off. Orton goes up with a high cross for two. HHH comes back with a Pedigree attempt, which gets countered into a catapult. HHH counters the RKO again and follows with a high knee for two. Another Pedigree is countered with a clothesline, which gets two. They fight outside and Orton sends him into the stairs, and back in Orton slugs away in the corner. He tries a DDT, but HHH blocks and Orton seems to have knocked himself out. Orton takes a breather and gets checked out by the ref, who is promptly bumped by HHH. HHH beats Orton down like his bitch and then grabs the sledgehammer, but Orton manages to fight him off. Back in, Orton goes for the hammer, but gets owned by HHH. And that’s all she wrote for Orton, as KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes things at 21:28. Weird match, with a ref bump that didn’t even give Orton any offense, and a total destruction at the end by HHH. Oh well. **3/4 (2012 Scott sez:  Not much to say here.  That was the end of Orton’s big babyface run at the top, and it took him another couple of years to really find his way as a top level guy.)  Royal Rumble: Eddie Guerrero draws #1, and Chris Benoit is #2. They fight in the corner to start and Benoit takes him down with an armdrag, but so does Eddie. Eddie takes him down in a headlock and overpowers him, as Daniel Puder is #3. He stops to cut a promo, talking smack against Benoit and Guerrero, and somehow I’m sensing that’s a bad idea. They team up and kick his ass in the corner, holding a chop competition on him. Double suplex and then Benoit drops him on his head with a backdrop suplex. Guerrero gets the rolling verticals and Hardcore Holly is #4. He calls of Benoit and Guerrero, because he’s got this one. This sets up another chop contest on Puder, as they just tee off on the poor kid. Eh, who am I kidding, for $1,000,000 they can rape him in the middle of the ring and he shouldn’t be bitching. (2012 Scott sez:  How DARE someone get over on their own.  I don’t think Puder is even doing MMA these days, though.)  Holly gives him the Alabama Slam and Hurricane is #5, as Puder is out at 6:00. My boys turn on Holly and dump him at 6:15. Hurricane is their next victim, as they redden up his chest before Eddie betrays Benoit and they go back to fighting with each other again. Hurricane hits Eddie with the Blockbuster, but gets killed by Benoit’s chops again. Eddie dumps him at 7:24. Kenzo Suzuki is #6, and he takes the beating from the Radicalz. Benoit suplexes him and they pound him in the corner, then Eddie gets a backdrop suplex before Benoit tosses him…to the apron. Oooh. Eddie hangs on as Edge is #7. He’s all about Edge, to quote JR, as he goes after everyone without prejudice, and tries to dump Eddie. Doesn’t work, though. Kenzo hooks up with Benoit as Rey Mysterio is #8. He goes after everyone and bulldogs Edge, then dropkicks Benoit in the corner. Kenzo tries to dump him, but Rey hangs on and headscissors him out at 11:28. Eddie hits him with a backbreaker, however, and goes back to Benoit. Shelton Benjamin is #9 as the workrate really starts to flow. He goes after Edge with an elbow and backdrops Eddie as Benoit fights with Rey on the ropes. No one goes out, though. Rey does a nice headscissors on Shelton, and Booker T is #10. He pounds Edge down and gets a leg lariat, and Uncle Eric joins us at ringside for some reason. Rey springboards in from the apron to break up Benoit’s boston crab, and Jericho is #11. He elbows Benjamin down and starts chopping Edge, and now Teddy Long is out. Lots of punching and stuff as Luther Reigns is #12. Suddenly, all the RAW and Smackdown guys separate and team up. Big brawl erupts, which the crowd likes, and Hassan is #13. Now the brand differences are cleared up and everyone teams up to get rid of him at 20:15. Crowd likes that one too. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like Hassan as the outsider who just took things too far was an interesting gimmick idea, and I had no real problem with the subject matter as far as being tasteless or whatever, but he just couldn’t get over as a worker OR a talker, and that’s what killed him.)  Orlando Jordan is #14 as things settle back in the previous rhythm again. I think that the three black guys in the Rumble at the same time is coming close to setting some sort of record. Maybe during the Nation’s glory years there might have been four, but I can’t think of any other time there would be close to that many. The brothers should have teamed up to fight off whitey, but I can’t see that dynamic working as well with the crowd. Scotty 2 Hotty is #15, but Hassan lays him out before he even gets to the ring. Oh, sure, big man beating up a jobber. Scotty never enters the match, and thus is the winner and will presumably wrestle HHH at Wrestlemania. Charlie Haas is #16, as we’re halfway through now, and Booker kicks him in the face on the way in. Booker dumps Reigns at 24:24, and Jordan at 24:25, but Eddie dumps him at 24:42 after a Spinarooni that was ill-advised. Didn’t Ernest Miller’s dancing faux pas last year teach anyone anything? (2012 Scott sez:  Never stop for a dance-off in a Royal Rumble, no matter how funky you may be.  Brodus Clay would be well advised to remember that advice this year.)  Nice moment sees Haas & Benjamin reunited to beat on Eddie, and Rene Dupree is #17. He goes after Rey and chokes him down in the corner, but Haas hotshots him and double-teams him with Benjamin. Rey breaks up the WGTT love with a leg lariat, and Shelton goes up like a moron and gets shoved out by Edge at 26:36. How stupid do you have to be to try THAT? Speaking of stupid, Simon Dean is #18, and he takes his time getting in. (2012 Scott sez:  I feel bad for Nova getting that loser gimmick.)  Edge dumps Eddie at 28:18, drawing HUGE heel heat. They keep burying him and he keeps being the most over babyface on the roster. (2012 Scott sez:  I guess the burial remark ended up being ill-timed there.)  HBK is #19 as Dean finally gets into the ring, and he goes right for Edge. And Dean is gone at 29:11, via Shawn. Shawn goes after everyone and gets slugged down by Haas. Rey plays hide and seek with Edge as Shawn dumps Haas at 30:23, and JR confuses him with Dupree. Kurt Angle is #20, and he goes right for Benoit with a german suplex. It’s Angle Slams for everyone! Well, everyone but Shawn, who blocks and superkicks him out at 31:16. (2012 Scott sez:  Thus setting up one of the greatest WM matches of all-time!)  Coach is #21, and I’m not giving him much in the way of odds to last longer than Angle. Benoit elbows Rey down, and then turns his attention to Coach. Jericho and Rey fight on the ropes, but neither can get the other out. Mark Jindrak is #22, as Angle returns and dumps Shawn at 34:00. He beats on him outside and anklelocks him, which pretty much eats up that whole segment. Viscera is #23, as we’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Jindrak tosses Rey, but he hangs on. You’d think everyone would stop and get rid of Vis at this point. Paul London is #24, and quite enthused about it. Dupree beats him down, and Jericho dumps Dupree mid-dance at 37:40. (2012 Scott sez:  What did I JUST SAY about dance-offs in a Rumble?)  Everyone fights on the ropes and John Cena is #25. He goes nuts and hits everyone, then does us a favor and gets rid of Vis at 39:02. The intervals shorten a bit, as Snitsky is #25. He clobbers quite a few people until London tries a sleeper on him. Snitsky puts him on the apron and then clotheslines him off, resulting in London taking the somersault bump of the YEAR off the apron to go out at 40:20. Snitsky boots Cena down and Kane is #26, much to Snitsky’s chagrin. Gene goes after him and gets clotheslined, and Kane chokeslams some people for fun. Jindrak is out at 42:08. Coach commits suicide by attacking him, but Snitsky saves him. The COAT HANGER on Kane follows, and Batista is #27, to a MONSTER face pop. It’s for real, folks. (2012 Scott sez:  Well, duh.  Hard to believe people would think otherwise at the time given what a huge star Batista turned into.)  Snitsky goes bye at 43:10. He faces off with Kane and the crowd knows who it wants to win that one. Demon bomb on Kane! Jericho charges and goes for a ride at 43:57. He can’t get Edge out, however. Christian is #29 and he of course wants John Cena to avenge the rap battle. Cena FUs Kane out at 45:16, and Rey wants an alliance. Flair is of course #30, and we’ve got our field for the finish. Ric and Dave give Coach a ride at 46:32. Next up: Christian, who goes home at 46:57. Benoit goes after Flair with some chops, but Batista clobbers him with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. He goes back to Atlanta at 47:33. Flair tries to turn on Batista, and that proves to be unwise, but Rey and Edge save him. Edge spears Flair and tosses him at 48:06, and we have the last four. Final Four: Edge, Rey Mysterio, Batista and John Cena. (2012 Scott sez:  There’d be a hell of a tag match right there, and you could a few different combos of it effectively) Batista goes after Edge, but gets speared, as does Cena. Edge goes for Rey, but misses, and Rey follows with the 619. But that puts him on the apron, and Edge spears him off at 49:20. Edge goes for our heroes and gets dumped by them at 49:41. So it’s the obvious finish, with Cena and Batista. Slugfest and Cena goes for the FU, but can’t get him out. Batista tries the demon bomb, but both tumble out and it’s a tie. The RAW refs declare Batista the winner, and the Smackdown refs call Cena the winner, but Vince runs out to settle it. Sadly, he trips and blows out his knee on the way in, suffering the worst injury of the whole show. That’s pretty funny, actually. (2012 Scott sez:  Of course, it wasn’t just his knee, he actually tore BOTH quads, and was still back by Wrestlemania!  You can’t say he doesn’t set an example.)  Batista and Cena toss each other to no avail, and the match restarts. Cena goes for the FU, but Batista gets the spinebuster and tosses him for real at 53:54 to win the Rumble and go to Wrestlemania. Finish was really silly and messed up, but the rest was about as good as could be expected. **** The Pulse: The Rumble is always a fun show, even if this year was a bit of a foregone conclusion with either Cena or Batista having to win, although I’m not sure if the Rumble match was good enough to warrant a recommendation on its own given the weak undercard. Still, it was pretty darn good, so thumbs mildly up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2004

The SmarK Rant for Royal Rumble 2004 – Live from Philly. – Your hosts are JR, King, Coach, Cole & Tazz in various combinations.Opening match, RAW tag titles: Batista & Ric Flair v. The Dudley Boyz. Batista goes for the cheap heat by insulting the Eagles in his pre-match promo, but even Philly has probably turned on them by this point, so it’s for naught. (2012:  I know nothing about football, so I’m assuming that the Eagles choking was a big story at the time because otherwise I’d have no idea.)  Big brawl outside to start, and Batista hits the post as a result, allowing Bubba to bring a table in already. D-Von powerslams Flair and the Dudz set up the table, but Batista moves it out of the way. Dudz double-team him with a neckbreaker and D-Von dumps him with a clothesline, but Flair goes after Bubba with chops. Bubba rams him into the table and does his Flipping, Flopping and Flying, but Batista comes back in and people start tripping all over each other. Funny how that always seems to happen with his matches. It’s a thrilling slugfest and they mistime more stuff, but Batista charges into the post and gets double-suplexed by the Dudleyz. Flair is left alone with them and manages to head up to the top, but shockingly gets slammed off. The Dudleyz set up the table yet again, but now Coach runs in and gets beat up by Bubba. They stupidly go for the Wazzup on him, but Batista slams D-Von through the table for the win at 4:22. This wasn’t even a match, it was just a bunch of stuff that only ran 5 minutes. Horrendous opener. DUD  (2012 Scott sez:  Batista actually is a case of HUGE returns for very little invested.  They stuck him with Flair in a tag team for a few months for something to do with him, and Flair turned him from a big slug into a really good worker almost like magic.  It’s almost as though this was something that used to happen in wrestling all the time and worked or something!) – Meanwhile, John Cena’s flow is interrupted by RVD. In a nod to marketing genius, Cena now has plastic “Word/Life” knuckle coverings. Now why didn’t Snoop Dogg think of that?  (2012 Scott sez:  I think the spinner belt ended up as the true piece of marketing genius with Cena. )  Cruiserweight title: Rey Mysterio v. Jamie Noble. Noble dumps him to start, but gets put in 619 position, only to escape and faceplant Rey. He stomps away on the ribs and kicks him down, then dumps him on the top rope for two. Another kick gets two. Rey gets a schoolboy for two, but Noble clotheslines him down again. That gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Rey fights back with a rana. Rube Goldberg Bulldog gets two. Springboard bodyblock lands on Noble’s knee, allowing him to try the Tiger Driver, but he escapes and Nidia accidentally trips up Noble, and it’s wine dine 619 and drop the dime for the pin at 3:12. (2012 Scott sez:  Wine dine…what the FUCK?) This would have been ridiculously short even for TV, on PPV it’s an insult to the paying customer. ½* Finish was totally out of nowhere, too. – Eddie Guerrero v. Chavo Guerrero. Funny how even with Chavo Sr. in his corner, Chavo Jr. still isn’t allowed to be called “Junior”. (2012 Scott sez:  Same deal with Ted Dibiase now.  Vince just really hates “Junior” for whatever reason.  Probably projecting some daddy issues.)  Cole notes that Chavo should get the “Chavo sucks” chant, “if you know what I mean”. I think you were pretty clear there, Michael. They fight over a lockup to start and Chavo gets the first slap, so Eddie brings him into the corner, but doesn’t do anything there. He takes Chavo down into a chinlock, but Chavo escapes and chops him. Back to the lockup, and Eddie gets his own chop. They fight over a headlock now and Chavo overpowers him, but Eddie brings the chops and it’s on. Sadly, it immediately slows down again and they go back to the middle again, as Eddie takes him down and works on the arm. Chavo escapes with a rana that puts them both on the floor, allowing Chavo Sr. to get his licks in. Chavo hammers him outside and chokes away in the ring, but Eddie gets out of it. Chavo takes him down again, but gets caught in a cross-armbreaker in a move that would end any MMA match, but here it’s just a resthold. Chavo escapes with a backdrop suplex for two. He gets the rolling verticals, but Eddie reverses out of them. Chavo goes for the tornado DDT instead, but Eddie gets his own rolling verticals and finishes with the frog splash at 8:03. And after those months of build, that’s it for Chavo, pretty much. Eddie mauls him afterwards to really end the feud decisively. This was like the first few minutes of a really good 20 minute match. It was only 8, however. **  (2012 Scott sez:  I think we can all agree that Chavo ended up doing OK for himself as Kerwin White and then feuding with Hornswoggle for a year.) Smackdown World title: Brock Lesnar v. Hardcore Holly. Speaking of months of build with no payoff, we have this. They brawl outside to start and Holly sends him into the post, but whiffs on a flying elbow in the ring. Brock stomps away and gets a snap suplex, and they brawl outside again. Back in, Brock gets two. And now Brock gets a bearhug on the mat with about 8 inches of air between his arms and Bob’s body. And they lay there for a while. Brock keeps pounding on the back and gets the high fisherman’s buster for two. Back to the bearhug, as Brock is again barely making contact. He fires off the overhead suplex out of that, and back to the bearhug again. Holly fights out and makes the comeback (we’re at 5:00 at this point, by the way) as he gets the DROPKICK OF DOOM and the Alabama Slam. Cole acts like it’s over, but Brock’s CAREER would be over if that weakass finisher won the title. Holly goes to the full nelson, but Brock rolls out of the ring to escape. He necksnaps Holly to end that threat, and Bob idiotically walks into the F5 at 6:30. Thank god. Brock hardly broke a sweat in dispatching Holly after months of running from him. A world title match booked to go 6 minutes with 3 of it in a bearhug is a joke. ¾*  (2012 Scott sez:  I think this was Holly’s one loyalty title shot, although after taking liberties on Tough Enough and sandbagging Brock on TV I kind of wish that Brock would have given him a receipt of some sort here.)  RAW World title: HHH v. Shawn Michaels. After the awesome RAW match, I was counting on these two to save things. (2012 Scott sez:  These two are the Ross and Rachel of the WWE.  They love each other!  They hate each other!)  HHH hammers away in the corner to start and they slug it out, won by Michaels, and then they go to the mat with a headlock sequence. Shawn brings the chops, but walks into a facecrusher. HHH whips him into the corner to work on the back and gets a backbreaker. Another try is reversed, and Shawn legwhips him into a figure-four. JR notes that it’s right off the Flair DVD, but it’s really more off the Muto DVD. I guess it’s good psychology, because to be the Last Man Standing, you have to be able to stand. HHH takes a 3 count and gets up again. Shawn dropkicks the knee for another count. He charges and HHH pulls down the ropes, putting Shawn on the floor. HHH preps the announce tables and suplexes Shawn, but Shawn escapes and they slug it out on the table. The punches hurt more when you’re elevated, I guess. HHH falls off the table and the fans boo. Funny stuff. Back in, Shawn goes up, but gets booted coming down. HHH gets backdropped over the top, as is generally obvious when he goes for the Pedigree near the ropes (2012 Scott sez:  You’d think after all these years, HHH would learn not to try a Pedigree near the ropes.  Ditto for Scott Hall and the Razor’s Edge.) , and Shawn follows him out with a crossbody attempt that not only misses and lands on the table, but wouldn’t have hit HHH even if he hadn’t ducked. I hate spots like that. Shawn does his usual sick blade job, which is funny considering the wussy ones he was doing during the early months of his comeback in 2002. Or maybe it’s just misplaced stigmata? (2012 Scott sez:  I don’t believe I can take credit for that one.  That might have been one of Zen’s.)  Back in, HHH slugs away and Shawn takes a 7 count. HHH slugs away again and it’s another count for Shawn. More abuse from HHH, and it’s another count. JR doesn’t know how any human being can get up again. Yeah, a few punches, how devastating. More punching from HHH, but Shawn fights back, only to walk into an awkwardly-delivered spinebuster. That’s another count, and HHH slugs him back down again and grabs a chair. This whole segment is incredibly slow. HHH delivers a chairshot for another count. Shawn is up at 9. HHH goes for the Pedigree, but Shawn reverses into a weak catapult to the post, which allows HHH to cut himself. Blood does not speed up a match. Chairshot from Shawn and HHH takes a count, and now Shawn slugs away on him. Flying forearm and both guys are out, but Shawn is JESUSING UP. It’s a resurrection, just like Jesus! Without the death and miracles and stuff. (2012 Scott sez:  I dunno, Shawn had some pretty miraculous matches during that comeback.)  He fights back as the POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS HIM…to deliver an atomic drop. He ascends the ladder of Heaven and drops the big elbow. Superkick is blocked by a low blow to quiet the crowd again, and both guys are out again. They slug it out and now Shawn gets a sleeper, but releases and lets the ref count instead. HHH is up at 8, and gets a DDT, and both guys are down again. The inherent problem with these matches is that when it’s good, it’s dramatic, and when it’s not good, it’s two guys laying around. This is the latter. Shawn gets a slow chop, but gets whipped into the corner and brought down with a backdrop suplex, but both guys are out again. Back up at 8 for both, but HHH gets the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE. If that was Chris Jericho he’d be dead until next Thursday. HHH is back up, and Shawn follows at 9. Superkick, but neither guy gets up and it’s a draw at 22:45, which the crowd shits all over. (2012 Scott sez:  I don’t get why they couldn’t duplicate the magic on PPV that year.  Shawn was having awesome matches with Benoit, so it wasn’t him.  But this match blew and the Hell in a Cell match was a 40 minute wankfest.)  They couldn’t top the RAW match and it was foolish to try, although HHH is the son-in-law of the owner, so he gets 30 minutes of PPV time to try whereas everyone else gets 5. Match was too slow, too disjointed, and it didn’t feel like there was any psychology to it. **3/4 – We get a stupid time-wasting bit with Heyman, Bischoff and Austin to amuse the live crowd. – Meanwhile, Brock and Goldberg have another meet-and-greet. – Royal Rumble: (2012 Scott sez:  This is one of the few times where I had actual inside knowledge of who was winning well in advance, but I still didn’t believe it until I saw it.)  Chris Benoit is of course #1, and Randy Orton is #2. Since this is mixed brands, it’s JR & Tazz on commentary, and it’s a great team, showing that perhaps JR’s commentary problems stem from his partner. Benoit stomps away in the corner to start and gets a snap suplex, but Orton fights back in the corner and tries to push him out. Benoit knees him in the gut to break and Mark Henry is #3, with 90 second intervals as promised. Nice touch: There’s graphics with the number of entry this year, making it easier to keep track. (2012 Scott sez:  That was a permanent change, in fact.)  Mizark goes after both of them, but walks into a chop. Orton tries the CLUBBING FOREARMS, but gets clotheslined down. Henry works Benoit over in the corner, as Tajiri is #4. Still 90 seconds. Tajiri trades kicks with Orton and gets the handspring elbow, but Benoit cuts in with a german suplex, and drops an elbow on the head. Orton gets tossed, but hangs on to climb back in. Orton pounds on Henry in the corner as Bradshaw is #5 with intervals increasing by a few seconds. He hits everyone with Clotheslines from Heck, but Benoit blocks it with a crossface. That’s why he rules. Bradshaw tries to power him out, but Benoit uses leverage to get rid of Bradshaw instead, at 5:27. Well, there’s always shower rape to console him. (2012 Scott sez:  That and the repackaging and giant push he got about 3 months after this.)  Orton throws an elbow at Henry as the interval is up to 100 seconds now, and Rhyno is #6. He goes after Orton & Benoit while Tajiri tries the Tarantula on Henry. That’s kind of dumb – hanging upside down in the Rumble. Rhyno goes for the Goar, but hits Tajiri at 6:53 to eliminate him, and Henry gets elbowed out by Benoit at 7:08. Replay shows that Tajiri misted Henry on the way by to blind him. Mattitude is #7 and he goes after the heels, hitting a Side Effect on Rhyno, but Benoit tosses him. Matt hangs on, however. Everyone pairs off and slugs it out. Rhyno tries to suplex Matt out and Scott Steiner is #8. He starts throwing clotheslines and suplexes on everyone, and goes for Benoit, but Chris returns the suplex favor with some germans. Matt almost has Orton out, but Benoit saves with a backdrop suplex, and Matt Morgan is #9. (2012 Scott sez:  I totally forgot that Morgan was in WWE first, actually.)  He immediately hits Benoit with the deadly sitout powerbomb, and no-sells Matt’s stuff to set up a big boot. Nash Choke in the corner on Orton and he works him over while Steiner tangos with Hardy. Morgan works over Hardy in the corner while Rhyno spits on Benoit. Hurricane is #10 and he comes in with a bodypress on Matt, but he’s Hurri-gone via Matt Morgan at 13:32. The real highlight is Steiner & Orton rolling around on the mat in what looks like a lover’s clutch. Benoit & Rhyno keep slugging it out. Hardy tries clipping Morgan, but he doesn’t know how to sell it properly. Booker T is #11, and hostilities with Steiner are renewed. Nice touch. Axe kick on Orton and he goes for Morgan, but eats a knee. Everyone slugs it out as Kane is #12. Steiner gets eliminated off-camera at 16:44 by Booker. Kane starts chokeslamming people and runs the table, but doesn’t toss anyone, as Spike Dudley (with Undertaker’s gong) is #13, and causes Kane to get dumped by Booker at 18:30. Kane gets his revenge and Spike never makes it into the match. Back in the ring, Benoit tries to get Hardy out, and Rikishi is #14. Benoit dumps Rhyno at 20:25 as Rikishi cleans house and gives Morgan the Stinkface. Booker elbows Matt down as the other four fight in the corners, and it’s time for more bodies, with Rene Dupree at #15. That dance is so gonna get over with time. (2012 Scott sez:  Sadly, Dupree was cut loose before it could.  He was on the verge of being not terrible, though.) He goes after Matt Hardy and they fight over a suplex, and Hardy gets dropkicked out at 22:28. Dupree follows via a Rikishi superkick at 22:35. How nihilistic. A-Train is #16 and he rekindles that hatred with…Rikishi? Well, he’s the biggest guy, so you can’t fault the logic. Benoit dodges a charge from Morgan and dumps him at 23:48. Thank god. Everyone gangs up on Train, but Orton turns on Rikishi and dumps him at 24:15, and then Booker T at 24:20. So we’re back down to Benoit, Train and Orton, and it’s time for another person. That’s TIGHT booking. Shelton Benjamin is #17 and Benoit dumps Train at 25:10 or so. Benjamin slugs Orton down, but misses a superkick and lands on the top rope, going bye-bye via Orton at 25:45 as a result. So it’s back down to 1 and 2 again, as Benoit gets a backdrop suplex and they collide for the double KO, and wouldn’t you know, time for another entrant. This proves to be Ernest Miller at #18, and he slows the match down with a dance party, until Benoit & Orton redeem it by tossing both Miller and his butler at 27:46. (2012 Scott sez:  Serious aficionados, aka nerds, will note that they recycled Miller’s music for Brodus Clay)  And we’re back to SERIOUS contenders again, as Kurt Angle is #19. JR notes that Orton needs to “make hay while the sun is shining” to which Tazz replies “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” THANK YOU. Benoit and Angle immediately bring it on, while Orton sits in the corner and defers to their better judgment. That’s a very nice touch. Benoit chops away and elbows him out of the corner, but gets clotheslined. Vertical suplex by Angle and he tries get Benoit out, but Orton breaks it up. Rico is #20 and he gets pounded by Orton right away, but comes back with the corner kick and some groping. Orton hits him with the RKO while Benoit fires off germans on Angle, and Orton casually dumps Rico at 31:12. Benoit goes up, but Angle crotches him and tries to send him out, as Test is supposed to be #21, but someone has attacked him. And that someone is sent out by Austin to take his place. And that someone is…MICK FOLEY. Orton understandably shits the proverbial brick, as Foley goes nuts on him and beats the tattoos off him in the corner. Cactus Clothesline eliminates both guys at 33:46, but that’s good enough for Mick. They continue brawling outside as Christian is #22. The focus remains on Foley & Orton, as Orton finally catches a break with a pair of chairshots and they brawl up the aisle, allowing Foley to go for Mr. Socko. Meanwhile, Nunzio is #23, so Foley gives him the Sock, while Orton hits him in Mr. Cocko on the way back to the dressing room. Nunzio hides out on the floor while the other three do their thing inside, with Benoit and Christian trying to get Angle out. Stick together, Canucks! Angle fires off a german on Christian, and one for Benoit, but can’t get Christian out. Big Show is #24, and he goes right for Angle, and then deals with the other two. He pounds Angle down and tosses Christian around, and Jericho is #25. He saves his compadre from Angle and they work him over in the corner, but Show intervenes and rams them together. Show headbutts Jericho down and pounds him in the corner, and now everyone gets smart and goes after Show. 4-on-1 isn’t quite enough, and Show is able to fight them off. Charlie Haas is #26, but Vitamin C hit him with a double-suplex on the way in. Christian & Jericho toss Benoit, but he hangs on. Then Christian turns on Jericho and tosses him, but HE hangs on, and then backdrops Christian out at 42:48. (2012 Scott sez:  This was a rare late numbers sequence with a bunch of great workers having fun with complex booking.  Usually it’s the big monsters in this slot, so this was a nice change of pace.)  Angle gets a german suplex as Billy Gunn is #27 and he comes in with the Dumbasser on a few people. Everyone pairs off as it slows down a bit, with Jericho getting a backdrop suplex on Angle and then going after Show, but Benoit saves with a german suplex. John Cena is #28, and he brings Nunzio out of his hiding place, but gets jumped by Show as a result. Nunzio then goes after Show, which is kind of dumb, and gets nowhere. Cena tries next while Benoit scraps with Nunzio, and RVD is #29. He goes after Show, as seems to be the trend, but he can’t organize another try at getting rid of him. Everyone slugs it out as Cena gives Angle the F-U, and Goldberg is #30. Time to get rid of the dead weight. Spear for Show! Spear for Gunn! Powerslam for Haas. Nunzio attacks and gets Haas eliminated indirectly at 48:39, but then gets speared for his troubles. Gunn is Billy Gone at 49:00. Nunzio flies Air Italy out of the ring at 49:05. However, Brock runs in with an F-5 on Goldberg to pop the crowd, and Angle dumps Grizzly Adams at 50:15 while he’s being all intense. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, that beard was out of control in 2004.  Brock-Goldberg should have been so much bigger than it ended up being, though.)  So amazingly we have Benoit, Jericho, Angle, Cena, RVD and Show left. They make another try at getting rid of Show on the ropes, but you can’t fight gravity and he won’t go. Next tactic sees everyone hitting their finishers in succession, starting with the Lionsault and going frog splash, Five Knuckle Shuffle, flying headbutt, and Angle Slam. Show is still in it, however, so now Angle organizes a team carry, but that’s just wishful thinking. Show gets angry and tosses Cena at 53:02. RVD gets fancy and gets gone at 53:21. Jericho gets tossed and hangs on, as our final four is Jericho, Benoit, Angle and Show. How about THAT? Jericho is backdropped out again, but slides in again. Show tosses him into the corner, but Jericho comes back with a bulldog and goes for the Walls of Jericho. That seems a little counterproductive. Angle breaks it up and fights with Jericho on the ropes, but Show saves for Angle and chokeslams Jericho out of the ring at 55:11. Down to three. Angle walks into a sideslam, and Show chokeslams Benoit following that. Show fights off Angle’s suplex attempt, but falls victim to the Angle Slam, and Benoit gets more of the same. Angle takes a poll from the fans as to who to go after, and Show is lucky winner of an anklelock, which is of course meaningless. Show powers him to the ropes and Angle hangs on too long and gets eliminated at 57:40. So now Benoit is faced with having to eliminate single-handedly the guy that 5 people couldn’t get rid of at once. He starts by headbutting him back into the ring, but walks into a chokeslam, which he counters into the crossface. Again, that’s for nothing, as Show powers out and sideslams him. Show goes for the kill with a press-slam, but Benoit counters to a standing guillotine choke and hangs on. He pulls Show to the apron with that and won’t let go, and gravity proves to be Show’s enemy, as he passes out and falls out at 61:37 to make Benoit the winner and the recipient of the title shot at Wrestlemania XX. I was marking out like nuts last night and initially was thinking ***** because of the excitement and brilliantly tight booking, along with the great story of Show being the monster that no one could eliminate until Benoit figured it out, but after watching it again…I still loved it. HA! Fooled ya! It’s still *****, and the best Rumble I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen ‘em all.  (2012 Scott sez:  I think that’s too high.  ****1/2 maybe, given perspective.)  The Bottom Line: The Rumble match came as close as humanly possible to pulling off a miracle and redeeming what had been to that point a horrible show, but really HHH stinking up the ring…again…was too much to overcome in the long run. Thumbs in the middle, but order the replay for the Rumble only. Next stop for Benoit: Wrestlemania. And here I was worried that they wouldn’t even have a feud for him.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2004

The SmarK Rant for Royal Rumble 2004 – Live from Philly. – Your hosts are JR, King, Coach, Cole & Tazz in various combinations.Opening match, RAW tag titles: Batista & Ric Flair v. The Dudley Boyz. Batista goes for the cheap heat by insulting the Eagles in his pre-match promo, but even Philly has probably turned on them by this point, so it’s for naught. (2012:  I know nothing about football, so I’m assuming that the Eagles choking was a big story at the time because otherwise I’d have no idea.)  Big brawl outside to start, and Batista hits the post as a result, allowing Bubba to bring a table in already. D-Von powerslams Flair and the Dudz set up the table, but Batista moves it out of the way. Dudz double-team him with a neckbreaker and D-Von dumps him with a clothesline, but Flair goes after Bubba with chops. Bubba rams him into the table and does his Flipping, Flopping and Flying, but Batista comes back in and people start tripping all over each other. Funny how that always seems to happen with his matches. It’s a thrilling slugfest and they mistime more stuff, but Batista charges into the post and gets double-suplexed by the Dudleyz. Flair is left alone with them and manages to head up to the top, but shockingly gets slammed off. The Dudleyz set up the table yet again, but now Coach runs in and gets beat up by Bubba. They stupidly go for the Wazzup on him, but Batista slams D-Von through the table for the win at 4:22. This wasn’t even a match, it was just a bunch of stuff that only ran 5 minutes. Horrendous opener. DUD  (2012 Scott sez:  Batista actually is a case of HUGE returns for very little invested.  They stuck him with Flair in a tag team for a few months for something to do with him, and Flair turned him from a big slug into a really good worker almost like magic.  It’s almost as though this was something that used to happen in wrestling all the time and worked or something!) – Meanwhile, John Cena’s flow is interrupted by RVD. In a nod to marketing genius, Cena now has plastic “Word/Life” knuckle coverings. Now why didn’t Snoop Dogg think of that?  (2012 Scott sez:  I think the spinner belt ended up as the true piece of marketing genius with Cena. )  Cruiserweight title: Rey Mysterio v. Jamie Noble. Noble dumps him to start, but gets put in 619 position, only to escape and faceplant Rey. He stomps away on the ribs and kicks him down, then dumps him on the top rope for two. Another kick gets two. Rey gets a schoolboy for two, but Noble clotheslines him down again. That gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Rey fights back with a rana. Rube Goldberg Bulldog gets two. Springboard bodyblock lands on Noble’s knee, allowing him to try the Tiger Driver, but he escapes and Nidia accidentally trips up Noble, and it’s wine dine 619 and drop the dime for the pin at 3:12. (2012 Scott sez:  Wine dine…what the FUCK?) This would have been ridiculously short even for TV, on PPV it’s an insult to the paying customer. ½* Finish was totally out of nowhere, too. – Eddie Guerrero v. Chavo Guerrero. Funny how even with Chavo Sr. in his corner, Chavo Jr. still isn’t allowed to be called “Junior”. (2012 Scott sez:  Same deal with Ted Dibiase now.  Vince just really hates “Junior” for whatever reason.  Probably projecting some daddy issues.)  Cole notes that Chavo should get the “Chavo sucks” chant, “if you know what I mean”. I think you were pretty clear there, Michael. They fight over a lockup to start and Chavo gets the first slap, so Eddie brings him into the corner, but doesn’t do anything there. He takes Chavo down into a chinlock, but Chavo escapes and chops him. Back to the lockup, and Eddie gets his own chop. They fight over a headlock now and Chavo overpowers him, but Eddie brings the chops and it’s on. Sadly, it immediately slows down again and they go back to the middle again, as Eddie takes him down and works on the arm. Chavo escapes with a rana that puts them both on the floor, allowing Chavo Sr. to get his licks in. Chavo hammers him outside and chokes away in the ring, but Eddie gets out of it. Chavo takes him down again, but gets caught in a cross-armbreaker in a move that would end any MMA match, but here it’s just a resthold. Chavo escapes with a backdrop suplex for two. He gets the rolling verticals, but Eddie reverses out of them. Chavo goes for the tornado DDT instead, but Eddie gets his own rolling verticals and finishes with the frog splash at 8:03. And after those months of build, that’s it for Chavo, pretty much. Eddie mauls him afterwards to really end the feud decisively. This was like the first few minutes of a really good 20 minute match. It was only 8, however. **  (2012 Scott sez:  I think we can all agree that Chavo ended up doing OK for himself as Kerwin White and then feuding with Hornswoggle for a year.) Smackdown World title: Brock Lesnar v. Hardcore Holly. Speaking of months of build with no payoff, we have this. They brawl outside to start and Holly sends him into the post, but whiffs on a flying elbow in the ring. Brock stomps away and gets a snap suplex, and they brawl outside again. Back in, Brock gets two. And now Brock gets a bearhug on the mat with about 8 inches of air between his arms and Bob’s body. And they lay there for a while. Brock keeps pounding on the back and gets the high fisherman’s buster for two. Back to the bearhug, as Brock is again barely making contact. He fires off the overhead suplex out of that, and back to the bearhug again. Holly fights out and makes the comeback (we’re at 5:00 at this point, by the way) as he gets the DROPKICK OF DOOM and the Alabama Slam. Cole acts like it’s over, but Brock’s CAREER would be over if that weakass finisher won the title. Holly goes to the full nelson, but Brock rolls out of the ring to escape. He necksnaps Holly to end that threat, and Bob idiotically walks into the F5 at 6:30. Thank god. Brock hardly broke a sweat in dispatching Holly after months of running from him. A world title match booked to go 6 minutes with 3 of it in a bearhug is a joke. ¾*  (2012 Scott sez:  I think this was Holly’s one loyalty title shot, although after taking liberties on Tough Enough and sandbagging Brock on TV I kind of wish that Brock would have given him a receipt of some sort here.)  RAW World title: HHH v. Shawn Michaels. After the awesome RAW match, I was counting on these two to save things. (2012 Scott sez:  These two are the Ross and Rachel of the WWE.  They love each other!  They hate each other!)  HHH hammers away in the corner to start and they slug it out, won by Michaels, and then they go to the mat with a headlock sequence. Shawn brings the chops, but walks into a facecrusher. HHH whips him into the corner to work on the back and gets a backbreaker. Another try is reversed, and Shawn legwhips him into a figure-four. JR notes that it’s right off the Flair DVD, but it’s really more off the Muto DVD. I guess it’s good psychology, because to be the Last Man Standing, you have to be able to stand. HHH takes a 3 count and gets up again. Shawn dropkicks the knee for another count. He charges and HHH pulls down the ropes, putting Shawn on the floor. HHH preps the announce tables and suplexes Shawn, but Shawn escapes and they slug it out on the table. The punches hurt more when you’re elevated, I guess. HHH falls off the table and the fans boo. Funny stuff. Back in, Shawn goes up, but gets booted coming down. HHH gets backdropped over the top, as is generally obvious when he goes for the Pedigree near the ropes (2012 Scott sez:  You’d think after all these years, HHH would learn not to try a Pedigree near the ropes.  Ditto for Scott Hall and the Razor’s Edge.) , and Shawn follows him out with a crossbody attempt that not only misses and lands on the table, but wouldn’t have hit HHH even if he hadn’t ducked. I hate spots like that. Shawn does his usual sick blade job, which is funny considering the wussy ones he was doing during the early months of his comeback in 2002. Or maybe it’s just misplaced stigmata? (2012 Scott sez:  I don’t believe I can take credit for that one.  That might have been one of Zen’s.)  Back in, HHH slugs away and Shawn takes a 7 count. HHH slugs away again and it’s another count for Shawn. More abuse from HHH, and it’s another count. JR doesn’t know how any human being can get up again. Yeah, a few punches, how devastating. More punching from HHH, but Shawn fights back, only to walk into an awkwardly-delivered spinebuster. That’s another count, and HHH slugs him back down again and grabs a chair. This whole segment is incredibly slow. HHH delivers a chairshot for another count. Shawn is up at 9. HHH goes for the Pedigree, but Shawn reverses into a weak catapult to the post, which allows HHH to cut himself. Blood does not speed up a match. Chairshot from Shawn and HHH takes a count, and now Shawn slugs away on him. Flying forearm and both guys are out, but Shawn is JESUSING UP. It’s a resurrection, just like Jesus! Without the death and miracles and stuff. (2012 Scott sez:  I dunno, Shawn had some pretty miraculous matches during that comeback.)  He fights back as the POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS HIM…to deliver an atomic drop. He ascends the ladder of Heaven and drops the big elbow. Superkick is blocked by a low blow to quiet the crowd again, and both guys are out again. They slug it out and now Shawn gets a sleeper, but releases and lets the ref count instead. HHH is up at 8, and gets a DDT, and both guys are down again. The inherent problem with these matches is that when it’s good, it’s dramatic, and when it’s not good, it’s two guys laying around. This is the latter. Shawn gets a slow chop, but gets whipped into the corner and brought down with a backdrop suplex, but both guys are out again. Back up at 8 for both, but HHH gets the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE. If that was Chris Jericho he’d be dead until next Thursday. HHH is back up, and Shawn follows at 9. Superkick, but neither guy gets up and it’s a draw at 22:45, which the crowd shits all over. (2012 Scott sez:  I don’t get why they couldn’t duplicate the magic on PPV that year.  Shawn was having awesome matches with Benoit, so it wasn’t him.  But this match blew and the Hell in a Cell match was a 40 minute wankfest.)  They couldn’t top the RAW match and it was foolish to try, although HHH is the son-in-law of the owner, so he gets 30 minutes of PPV time to try whereas everyone else gets 5. Match was too slow, too disjointed, and it didn’t feel like there was any psychology to it. **3/4 – We get a stupid time-wasting bit with Heyman, Bischoff and Austin to amuse the live crowd. – Meanwhile, Brock and Goldberg have another meet-and-greet. – Royal Rumble: (2012 Scott sez:  This is one of the few times where I had actual inside knowledge of who was winning well in advance, but I still didn’t believe it until I saw it.)  Chris Benoit is of course #1, and Randy Orton is #2. Since this is mixed brands, it’s JR & Tazz on commentary, and it’s a great team, showing that perhaps JR’s commentary problems stem from his partner. Benoit stomps away in the corner to start and gets a snap suplex, but Orton fights back in the corner and tries to push him out. Benoit knees him in the gut to break and Mark Henry is #3, with 90 second intervals as promised. Nice touch: There’s graphics with the number of entry this year, making it easier to keep track. (2012 Scott sez:  That was a permanent change, in fact.)  Mizark goes after both of them, but walks into a chop. Orton tries the CLUBBING FOREARMS, but gets clotheslined down. Henry works Benoit over in the corner, as Tajiri is #4. Still 90 seconds. Tajiri trades kicks with Orton and gets the handspring elbow, but Benoit cuts in with a german suplex, and drops an elbow on the head. Orton gets tossed, but hangs on to climb back in. Orton pounds on Henry in the corner as Bradshaw is #5 with intervals increasing by a few seconds. He hits everyone with Clotheslines from Heck, but Benoit blocks it with a crossface. That’s why he rules. Bradshaw tries to power him out, but Benoit uses leverage to get rid of Bradshaw instead, at 5:27. Well, there’s always shower rape to console him. (2012 Scott sez:  That and the repackaging and giant push he got about 3 months after this.)  Orton throws an elbow at Henry as the interval is up to 100 seconds now, and Rhyno is #6. He goes after Orton & Benoit while Tajiri tries the Tarantula on Henry. That’s kind of dumb – hanging upside down in the Rumble. Rhyno goes for the Goar, but hits Tajiri at 6:53 to eliminate him, and Henry gets elbowed out by Benoit at 7:08. Replay shows that Tajiri misted Henry on the way by to blind him. Mattitude is #7 and he goes after the heels, hitting a Side Effect on Rhyno, but Benoit tosses him. Matt hangs on, however. Everyone pairs off and slugs it out. Rhyno tries to suplex Matt out and Scott Steiner is #8. He starts throwing clotheslines and suplexes on everyone, and goes for Benoit, but Chris returns the suplex favor with some germans. Matt almost has Orton out, but Benoit saves with a backdrop suplex, and Matt Morgan is #9. (2012 Scott sez:  I totally forgot that Morgan was in WWE first, actually.)  He immediately hits Benoit with the deadly sitout powerbomb, and no-sells Matt’s stuff to set up a big boot. Nash Choke in the corner on Orton and he works him over while Steiner tangos with Hardy. Morgan works over Hardy in the corner while Rhyno spits on Benoit. Hurricane is #10 and he comes in with a bodypress on Matt, but he’s Hurri-gone via Matt Morgan at 13:32. The real highlight is Steiner & Orton rolling around on the mat in what looks like a lover’s clutch. Benoit & Rhyno keep slugging it out. Hardy tries clipping Morgan, but he doesn’t know how to sell it properly. Booker T is #11, and hostilities with Steiner are renewed. Nice touch. Axe kick on Orton and he goes for Morgan, but eats a knee. Everyone slugs it out as Kane is #12. Steiner gets eliminated off-camera at 16:44 by Booker. Kane starts chokeslamming people and runs the table, but doesn’t toss anyone, as Spike Dudley (with Undertaker’s gong) is #13, and causes Kane to get dumped by Booker at 18:30. Kane gets his revenge and Spike never makes it into the match. Back in the ring, Benoit tries to get Hardy out, and Rikishi is #14. Benoit dumps Rhyno at 20:25 as Rikishi cleans house and gives Morgan the Stinkface. Booker elbows Matt down as the other four fight in the corners, and it’s time for more bodies, with Rene Dupree at #15. That dance is so gonna get over with time. (2012 Scott sez:  Sadly, Dupree was cut loose before it could.  He was on the verge of being not terrible, though.) He goes after Matt Hardy and they fight over a suplex, and Hardy gets dropkicked out at 22:28. Dupree follows via a Rikishi superkick at 22:35. How nihilistic. A-Train is #16 and he rekindles that hatred with…Rikishi? Well, he’s the biggest guy, so you can’t fault the logic. Benoit dodges a charge from Morgan and dumps him at 23:48. Thank god. Everyone gangs up on Train, but Orton turns on Rikishi and dumps him at 24:15, and then Booker T at 24:20. So we’re back down to Benoit, Train and Orton, and it’s time for another person. That’s TIGHT booking. Shelton Benjamin is #17 and Benoit dumps Train at 25:10 or so. Benjamin slugs Orton down, but misses a superkick and lands on the top rope, going bye-bye via Orton at 25:45 as a result. So it’s back down to 1 and 2 again, as Benoit gets a backdrop suplex and they collide for the double KO, and wouldn’t you know, time for another entrant. This proves to be Ernest Miller at #18, and he slows the match down with a dance party, until Benoit & Orton redeem it by tossing both Miller and his butler at 27:46. (2012 Scott sez:  Serious aficionados, aka nerds, will note that they recycled Miller’s music for Brodus Clay)  And we’re back to SERIOUS contenders again, as Kurt Angle is #19. JR notes that Orton needs to “make hay while the sun is shining” to which Tazz replies “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” THANK YOU. Benoit and Angle immediately bring it on, while Orton sits in the corner and defers to their better judgment. That’s a very nice touch. Benoit chops away and elbows him out of the corner, but gets clotheslined. Vertical suplex by Angle and he tries get Benoit out, but Orton breaks it up. Rico is #20 and he gets pounded by Orton right away, but comes back with the corner kick and some groping. Orton hits him with the RKO while Benoit fires off germans on Angle, and Orton casually dumps Rico at 31:12. Benoit goes up, but Angle crotches him and tries to send him out, as Test is supposed to be #21, but someone has attacked him. And that someone is sent out by Austin to take his place. And that someone is…MICK FOLEY. Orton understandably shits the proverbial brick, as Foley goes nuts on him and beats the tattoos off him in the corner. Cactus Clothesline eliminates both guys at 33:46, but that’s good enough for Mick. They continue brawling outside as Christian is #22. The focus remains on Foley & Orton, as Orton finally catches a break with a pair of chairshots and they brawl up the aisle, allowing Foley to go for Mr. Socko. Meanwhile, Nunzio is #23, so Foley gives him the Sock, while Orton hits him in Mr. Cocko on the way back to the dressing room. Nunzio hides out on the floor while the other three do their thing inside, with Benoit and Christian trying to get Angle out. Stick together, Canucks! Angle fires off a german on Christian, and one for Benoit, but can’t get Christian out. Big Show is #24, and he goes right for Angle, and then deals with the other two. He pounds Angle down and tosses Christian around, and Jericho is #25. He saves his compadre from Angle and they work him over in the corner, but Show intervenes and rams them together. Show headbutts Jericho down and pounds him in the corner, and now everyone gets smart and goes after Show. 4-on-1 isn’t quite enough, and Show is able to fight them off. Charlie Haas is #26, but Vitamin C hit him with a double-suplex on the way in. Christian & Jericho toss Benoit, but he hangs on. Then Christian turns on Jericho and tosses him, but HE hangs on, and then backdrops Christian out at 42:48. (2012 Scott sez:  This was a rare late numbers sequence with a bunch of great workers having fun with complex booking.  Usually it’s the big monsters in this slot, so this was a nice change of pace.)  Angle gets a german suplex as Billy Gunn is #27 and he comes in with the Dumbasser on a few people. Everyone pairs off as it slows down a bit, with Jericho getting a backdrop suplex on Angle and then going after Show, but Benoit saves with a german suplex. John Cena is #28, and he brings Nunzio out of his hiding place, but gets jumped by Show as a result. Nunzio then goes after Show, which is kind of dumb, and gets nowhere. Cena tries next while Benoit scraps with Nunzio, and RVD is #29. He goes after Show, as seems to be the trend, but he can’t organize another try at getting rid of him. Everyone slugs it out as Cena gives Angle the F-U, and Goldberg is #30. Time to get rid of the dead weight. Spear for Show! Spear for Gunn! Powerslam for Haas. Nunzio attacks and gets Haas eliminated indirectly at 48:39, but then gets speared for his troubles. Gunn is Billy Gone at 49:00. Nunzio flies Air Italy out of the ring at 49:05. However, Brock runs in with an F-5 on Goldberg to pop the crowd, and Angle dumps Grizzly Adams at 50:15 while he’s being all intense. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, that beard was out of control in 2004.  Brock-Goldberg should have been so much bigger than it ended up being, though.)  So amazingly we have Benoit, Jericho, Angle, Cena, RVD and Show left. They make another try at getting rid of Show on the ropes, but you can’t fight gravity and he won’t go. Next tactic sees everyone hitting their finishers in succession, starting with the Lionsault and going frog splash, Five Knuckle Shuffle, flying headbutt, and Angle Slam. Show is still in it, however, so now Angle organizes a team carry, but that’s just wishful thinking. Show gets angry and tosses Cena at 53:02. RVD gets fancy and gets gone at 53:21. Jericho gets tossed and hangs on, as our final four is Jericho, Benoit, Angle and Show. How about THAT? Jericho is backdropped out again, but slides in again. Show tosses him into the corner, but Jericho comes back with a bulldog and goes for the Walls of Jericho. That seems a little counterproductive. Angle breaks it up and fights with Jericho on the ropes, but Show saves for Angle and chokeslams Jericho out of the ring at 55:11. Down to three. Angle walks into a sideslam, and Show chokeslams Benoit following that. Show fights off Angle’s suplex attempt, but falls victim to the Angle Slam, and Benoit gets more of the same. Angle takes a poll from the fans as to who to go after, and Show is lucky winner of an anklelock, which is of course meaningless. Show powers him to the ropes and Angle hangs on too long and gets eliminated at 57:40. So now Benoit is faced with having to eliminate single-handedly the guy that 5 people couldn’t get rid of at once. He starts by headbutting him back into the ring, but walks into a chokeslam, which he counters into the crossface. Again, that’s for nothing, as Show powers out and sideslams him. Show goes for the kill with a press-slam, but Benoit counters to a standing guillotine choke and hangs on. He pulls Show to the apron with that and won’t let go, and gravity proves to be Show’s enemy, as he passes out and falls out at 61:37 to make Benoit the winner and the recipient of the title shot at Wrestlemania XX. I was marking out like nuts last night and initially was thinking ***** because of the excitement and brilliantly tight booking, along with the great story of Show being the monster that no one could eliminate until Benoit figured it out, but after watching it again…I still loved it. HA! Fooled ya! It’s still *****, and the best Rumble I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen ‘em all.  (2012 Scott sez:  I think that’s too high.  ****1/2 maybe, given perspective.)  The Bottom Line: The Rumble match came as close as humanly possible to pulling off a miracle and redeeming what had been to that point a horrible show, but really HHH stinking up the ring…again…was too much to overcome in the long run. Thumbs in the middle, but order the replay for the Rumble only. Next stop for Benoit: Wrestlemania. And here I was worried that they wouldn’t even have a feud for him.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2004

The SmarK Rant for Royal Rumble 2004 – Live from Philly. – Your hosts are JR, King, Coach, Cole & Tazz in various combinations.Opening match, RAW tag titles: Batista & Ric Flair v. The Dudley Boyz. Batista goes for the cheap heat by insulting the Eagles in his pre-match promo, but even Philly has probably turned on them by this point, so it’s for naught. (2012:  I know nothing about football, so I’m assuming that the Eagles choking was a big story at the time because otherwise I’d have no idea.)  Big brawl outside to start, and Batista hits the post as a result, allowing Bubba to bring a table in already. D-Von powerslams Flair and the Dudz set up the table, but Batista moves it out of the way. Dudz double-team him with a neckbreaker and D-Von dumps him with a clothesline, but Flair goes after Bubba with chops. Bubba rams him into the table and does his Flipping, Flopping and Flying, but Batista comes back in and people start tripping all over each other. Funny how that always seems to happen with his matches. It’s a thrilling slugfest and they mistime more stuff, but Batista charges into the post and gets double-suplexed by the Dudleyz. Flair is left alone with them and manages to head up to the top, but shockingly gets slammed off. The Dudleyz set up the table yet again, but now Coach runs in and gets beat up by Bubba. They stupidly go for the Wazzup on him, but Batista slams D-Von through the table for the win at 4:22. This wasn’t even a match, it was just a bunch of stuff that only ran 5 minutes. Horrendous opener. DUD  (2012 Scott sez:  Batista actually is a case of HUGE returns for very little invested.  They stuck him with Flair in a tag team for a few months for something to do with him, and Flair turned him from a big slug into a really good worker almost like magic.  It’s almost as though this was something that used to happen in wrestling all the time and worked or something!) – Meanwhile, John Cena’s flow is interrupted by RVD. In a nod to marketing genius, Cena now has plastic “Word/Life” knuckle coverings. Now why didn’t Snoop Dogg think of that?  (2012 Scott sez:  I think the spinner belt ended up as the true piece of marketing genius with Cena. )  Cruiserweight title: Rey Mysterio v. Jamie Noble. Noble dumps him to start, but gets put in 619 position, only to escape and faceplant Rey. He stomps away on the ribs and kicks him down, then dumps him on the top rope for two. Another kick gets two. Rey gets a schoolboy for two, but Noble clotheslines him down again. That gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Rey fights back with a rana. Rube Goldberg Bulldog gets two. Springboard bodyblock lands on Noble’s knee, allowing him to try the Tiger Driver, but he escapes and Nidia accidentally trips up Noble, and it’s wine dine 619 and drop the dime for the pin at 3:12. (2012 Scott sez:  Wine dine…what the FUCK?) This would have been ridiculously short even for TV, on PPV it’s an insult to the paying customer. ½* Finish was totally out of nowhere, too. – Eddie Guerrero v. Chavo Guerrero. Funny how even with Chavo Sr. in his corner, Chavo Jr. still isn’t allowed to be called “Junior”. (2012 Scott sez:  Same deal with Ted Dibiase now.  Vince just really hates “Junior” for whatever reason.  Probably projecting some daddy issues.)  Cole notes that Chavo should get the “Chavo sucks” chant, “if you know what I mean”. I think you were pretty clear there, Michael. They fight over a lockup to start and Chavo gets the first slap, so Eddie brings him into the corner, but doesn’t do anything there. He takes Chavo down into a chinlock, but Chavo escapes and chops him. Back to the lockup, and Eddie gets his own chop. They fight over a headlock now and Chavo overpowers him, but Eddie brings the chops and it’s on. Sadly, it immediately slows down again and they go back to the middle again, as Eddie takes him down and works on the arm. Chavo escapes with a rana that puts them both on the floor, allowing Chavo Sr. to get his licks in. Chavo hammers him outside and chokes away in the ring, but Eddie gets out of it. Chavo takes him down again, but gets caught in a cross-armbreaker in a move that would end any MMA match, but here it’s just a resthold. Chavo escapes with a backdrop suplex for two. He gets the rolling verticals, but Eddie reverses out of them. Chavo goes for the tornado DDT instead, but Eddie gets his own rolling verticals and finishes with the frog splash at 8:03. And after those months of build, that’s it for Chavo, pretty much. Eddie mauls him afterwards to really end the feud decisively. This was like the first few minutes of a really good 20 minute match. It was only 8, however. **  (2012 Scott sez:  I think we can all agree that Chavo ended up doing OK for himself as Kerwin White and then feuding with Hornswoggle for a year.) Smackdown World title: Brock Lesnar v. Hardcore Holly. Speaking of months of build with no payoff, we have this. They brawl outside to start and Holly sends him into the post, but whiffs on a flying elbow in the ring. Brock stomps away and gets a snap suplex, and they brawl outside again. Back in, Brock gets two. And now Brock gets a bearhug on the mat with about 8 inches of air between his arms and Bob’s body. And they lay there for a while. Brock keeps pounding on the back and gets the high fisherman’s buster for two. Back to the bearhug, as Brock is again barely making contact. He fires off the overhead suplex out of that, and back to the bearhug again. Holly fights out and makes the comeback (we’re at 5:00 at this point, by the way) as he gets the DROPKICK OF DOOM and the Alabama Slam. Cole acts like it’s over, but Brock’s CAREER would be over if that weakass finisher won the title. Holly goes to the full nelson, but Brock rolls out of the ring to escape. He necksnaps Holly to end that threat, and Bob idiotically walks into the F5 at 6:30. Thank god. Brock hardly broke a sweat in dispatching Holly after months of running from him. A world title match booked to go 6 minutes with 3 of it in a bearhug is a joke. ¾*  (2012 Scott sez:  I think this was Holly’s one loyalty title shot, although after taking liberties on Tough Enough and sandbagging Brock on TV I kind of wish that Brock would have given him a receipt of some sort here.)  RAW World title: HHH v. Shawn Michaels. After the awesome RAW match, I was counting on these two to save things. (2012 Scott sez:  These two are the Ross and Rachel of the WWE.  They love each other!  They hate each other!)  HHH hammers away in the corner to start and they slug it out, won by Michaels, and then they go to the mat with a headlock sequence. Shawn brings the chops, but walks into a facecrusher. HHH whips him into the corner to work on the back and gets a backbreaker. Another try is reversed, and Shawn legwhips him into a figure-four. JR notes that it’s right off the Flair DVD, but it’s really more off the Muto DVD. I guess it’s good psychology, because to be the Last Man Standing, you have to be able to stand. HHH takes a 3 count and gets up again. Shawn dropkicks the knee for another count. He charges and HHH pulls down the ropes, putting Shawn on the floor. HHH preps the announce tables and suplexes Shawn, but Shawn escapes and they slug it out on the table. The punches hurt more when you’re elevated, I guess. HHH falls off the table and the fans boo. Funny stuff. Back in, Shawn goes up, but gets booted coming down. HHH gets backdropped over the top, as is generally obvious when he goes for the Pedigree near the ropes (2012 Scott sez:  You’d think after all these years, HHH would learn not to try a Pedigree near the ropes.  Ditto for Scott Hall and the Razor’s Edge.) , and Shawn follows him out with a crossbody attempt that not only misses and lands on the table, but wouldn’t have hit HHH even if he hadn’t ducked. I hate spots like that. Shawn does his usual sick blade job, which is funny considering the wussy ones he was doing during the early months of his comeback in 2002. Or maybe it’s just misplaced stigmata? (2012 Scott sez:  I don’t believe I can take credit for that one.  That might have been one of Zen’s.)  Back in, HHH slugs away and Shawn takes a 7 count. HHH slugs away again and it’s another count for Shawn. More abuse from HHH, and it’s another count. JR doesn’t know how any human being can get up again. Yeah, a few punches, how devastating. More punching from HHH, but Shawn fights back, only to walk into an awkwardly-delivered spinebuster. That’s another count, and HHH slugs him back down again and grabs a chair. This whole segment is incredibly slow. HHH delivers a chairshot for another count. Shawn is up at 9. HHH goes for the Pedigree, but Shawn reverses into a weak catapult to the post, which allows HHH to cut himself. Blood does not speed up a match. Chairshot from Shawn and HHH takes a count, and now Shawn slugs away on him. Flying forearm and both guys are out, but Shawn is JESUSING UP. It’s a resurrection, just like Jesus! Without the death and miracles and stuff. (2012 Scott sez:  I dunno, Shawn had some pretty miraculous matches during that comeback.)  He fights back as the POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS HIM…to deliver an atomic drop. He ascends the ladder of Heaven and drops the big elbow. Superkick is blocked by a low blow to quiet the crowd again, and both guys are out again. They slug it out and now Shawn gets a sleeper, but releases and lets the ref count instead. HHH is up at 8, and gets a DDT, and both guys are down again. The inherent problem with these matches is that when it’s good, it’s dramatic, and when it’s not good, it’s two guys laying around. This is the latter. Shawn gets a slow chop, but gets whipped into the corner and brought down with a backdrop suplex, but both guys are out again. Back up at 8 for both, but HHH gets the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE. If that was Chris Jericho he’d be dead until next Thursday. HHH is back up, and Shawn follows at 9. Superkick, but neither guy gets up and it’s a draw at 22:45, which the crowd shits all over. (2012 Scott sez:  I don’t get why they couldn’t duplicate the magic on PPV that year.  Shawn was having awesome matches with Benoit, so it wasn’t him.  But this match blew and the Hell in a Cell match was a 40 minute wankfest.)  They couldn’t top the RAW match and it was foolish to try, although HHH is the son-in-law of the owner, so he gets 30 minutes of PPV time to try whereas everyone else gets 5. Match was too slow, too disjointed, and it didn’t feel like there was any psychology to it. **3/4 – We get a stupid time-wasting bit with Heyman, Bischoff and Austin to amuse the live crowd. – Meanwhile, Brock and Goldberg have another meet-and-greet. – Royal Rumble: (2012 Scott sez:  This is one of the few times where I had actual inside knowledge of who was winning well in advance, but I still didn’t believe it until I saw it.)  Chris Benoit is of course #1, and Randy Orton is #2. Since this is mixed brands, it’s JR & Tazz on commentary, and it’s a great team, showing that perhaps JR’s commentary problems stem from his partner. Benoit stomps away in the corner to start and gets a snap suplex, but Orton fights back in the corner and tries to push him out. Benoit knees him in the gut to break and Mark Henry is #3, with 90 second intervals as promised. Nice touch: There’s graphics with the number of entry this year, making it easier to keep track. (2012 Scott sez:  That was a permanent change, in fact.)  Mizark goes after both of them, but walks into a chop. Orton tries the CLUBBING FOREARMS, but gets clotheslined down. Henry works Benoit over in the corner, as Tajiri is #4. Still 90 seconds. Tajiri trades kicks with Orton and gets the handspring elbow, but Benoit cuts in with a german suplex, and drops an elbow on the head. Orton gets tossed, but hangs on to climb back in. Orton pounds on Henry in the corner as Bradshaw is #5 with intervals increasing by a few seconds. He hits everyone with Clotheslines from Heck, but Benoit blocks it with a crossface. That’s why he rules. Bradshaw tries to power him out, but Benoit uses leverage to get rid of Bradshaw instead, at 5:27. Well, there’s always shower rape to console him. (2012 Scott sez:  That and the repackaging and giant push he got about 3 months after this.)  Orton throws an elbow at Henry as the interval is up to 100 seconds now, and Rhyno is #6. He goes after Orton & Benoit while Tajiri tries the Tarantula on Henry. That’s kind of dumb – hanging upside down in the Rumble. Rhyno goes for the Goar, but hits Tajiri at 6:53 to eliminate him, and Henry gets elbowed out by Benoit at 7:08. Replay shows that Tajiri misted Henry on the way by to blind him. Mattitude is #7 and he goes after the heels, hitting a Side Effect on Rhyno, but Benoit tosses him. Matt hangs on, however. Everyone pairs off and slugs it out. Rhyno tries to suplex Matt out and Scott Steiner is #8. He starts throwing clotheslines and suplexes on everyone, and goes for Benoit, but Chris returns the suplex favor with some germans. Matt almost has Orton out, but Benoit saves with a backdrop suplex, and Matt Morgan is #9. (2012 Scott sez:  I totally forgot that Morgan was in WWE first, actually.)  He immediately hits Benoit with the deadly sitout powerbomb, and no-sells Matt’s stuff to set up a big boot. Nash Choke in the corner on Orton and he works him over while Steiner tangos with Hardy. Morgan works over Hardy in the corner while Rhyno spits on Benoit. Hurricane is #10 and he comes in with a bodypress on Matt, but he’s Hurri-gone via Matt Morgan at 13:32. The real highlight is Steiner & Orton rolling around on the mat in what looks like a lover’s clutch. Benoit & Rhyno keep slugging it out. Hardy tries clipping Morgan, but he doesn’t know how to sell it properly. Booker T is #11, and hostilities with Steiner are renewed. Nice touch. Axe kick on Orton and he goes for Morgan, but eats a knee. Everyone slugs it out as Kane is #12. Steiner gets eliminated off-camera at 16:44 by Booker. Kane starts chokeslamming people and runs the table, but doesn’t toss anyone, as Spike Dudley (with Undertaker’s gong) is #13, and causes Kane to get dumped by Booker at 18:30. Kane gets his revenge and Spike never makes it into the match. Back in the ring, Benoit tries to get Hardy out, and Rikishi is #14. Benoit dumps Rhyno at 20:25 as Rikishi cleans house and gives Morgan the Stinkface. Booker elbows Matt down as the other four fight in the corners, and it’s time for more bodies, with Rene Dupree at #15. That dance is so gonna get over with time. (2012 Scott sez:  Sadly, Dupree was cut loose before it could.  He was on the verge of being not terrible, though.) He goes after Matt Hardy and they fight over a suplex, and Hardy gets dropkicked out at 22:28. Dupree follows via a Rikishi superkick at 22:35. How nihilistic. A-Train is #16 and he rekindles that hatred with…Rikishi? Well, he’s the biggest guy, so you can’t fault the logic. Benoit dodges a charge from Morgan and dumps him at 23:48. Thank god. Everyone gangs up on Train, but Orton turns on Rikishi and dumps him at 24:15, and then Booker T at 24:20. So we’re back down to Benoit, Train and Orton, and it’s time for another person. That’s TIGHT booking. Shelton Benjamin is #17 and Benoit dumps Train at 25:10 or so. Benjamin slugs Orton down, but misses a superkick and lands on the top rope, going bye-bye via Orton at 25:45 as a result. So it’s back down to 1 and 2 again, as Benoit gets a backdrop suplex and they collide for the double KO, and wouldn’t you know, time for another entrant. This proves to be Ernest Miller at #18, and he slows the match down with a dance party, until Benoit & Orton redeem it by tossing both Miller and his butler at 27:46. (2012 Scott sez:  Serious aficionados, aka nerds, will note that they recycled Miller’s music for Brodus Clay)  And we’re back to SERIOUS contenders again, as Kurt Angle is #19. JR notes that Orton needs to “make hay while the sun is shining” to which Tazz replies “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” THANK YOU. Benoit and Angle immediately bring it on, while Orton sits in the corner and defers to their better judgment. That’s a very nice touch. Benoit chops away and elbows him out of the corner, but gets clotheslined. Vertical suplex by Angle and he tries get Benoit out, but Orton breaks it up. Rico is #20 and he gets pounded by Orton right away, but comes back with the corner kick and some groping. Orton hits him with the RKO while Benoit fires off germans on Angle, and Orton casually dumps Rico at 31:12. Benoit goes up, but Angle crotches him and tries to send him out, as Test is supposed to be #21, but someone has attacked him. And that someone is sent out by Austin to take his place. And that someone is…MICK FOLEY. Orton understandably shits the proverbial brick, as Foley goes nuts on him and beats the tattoos off him in the corner. Cactus Clothesline eliminates both guys at 33:46, but that’s good enough for Mick. They continue brawling outside as Christian is #22. The focus remains on Foley & Orton, as Orton finally catches a break with a pair of chairshots and they brawl up the aisle, allowing Foley to go for Mr. Socko. Meanwhile, Nunzio is #23, so Foley gives him the Sock, while Orton hits him in Mr. Cocko on the way back to the dressing room. Nunzio hides out on the floor while the other three do their thing inside, with Benoit and Christian trying to get Angle out. Stick together, Canucks! Angle fires off a german on Christian, and one for Benoit, but can’t get Christian out. Big Show is #24, and he goes right for Angle, and then deals with the other two. He pounds Angle down and tosses Christian around, and Jericho is #25. He saves his compadre from Angle and they work him over in the corner, but Show intervenes and rams them together. Show headbutts Jericho down and pounds him in the corner, and now everyone gets smart and goes after Show. 4-on-1 isn’t quite enough, and Show is able to fight them off. Charlie Haas is #26, but Vitamin C hit him with a double-suplex on the way in. Christian & Jericho toss Benoit, but he hangs on. Then Christian turns on Jericho and tosses him, but HE hangs on, and then backdrops Christian out at 42:48. (2012 Scott sez:  This was a rare late numbers sequence with a bunch of great workers having fun with complex booking.  Usually it’s the big monsters in this slot, so this was a nice change of pace.)  Angle gets a german suplex as Billy Gunn is #27 and he comes in with the Dumbasser on a few people. Everyone pairs off as it slows down a bit, with Jericho getting a backdrop suplex on Angle and then going after Show, but Benoit saves with a german suplex. John Cena is #28, and he brings Nunzio out of his hiding place, but gets jumped by Show as a result. Nunzio then goes after Show, which is kind of dumb, and gets nowhere. Cena tries next while Benoit scraps with Nunzio, and RVD is #29. He goes after Show, as seems to be the trend, but he can’t organize another try at getting rid of him. Everyone slugs it out as Cena gives Angle the F-U, and Goldberg is #30. Time to get rid of the dead weight. Spear for Show! Spear for Gunn! Powerslam for Haas. Nunzio attacks and gets Haas eliminated indirectly at 48:39, but then gets speared for his troubles. Gunn is Billy Gone at 49:00. Nunzio flies Air Italy out of the ring at 49:05. However, Brock runs in with an F-5 on Goldberg to pop the crowd, and Angle dumps Grizzly Adams at 50:15 while he’s being all intense. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, that beard was out of control in 2004.  Brock-Goldberg should have been so much bigger than it ended up being, though.)  So amazingly we have Benoit, Jericho, Angle, Cena, RVD and Show left. They make another try at getting rid of Show on the ropes, but you can’t fight gravity and he won’t go. Next tactic sees everyone hitting their finishers in succession, starting with the Lionsault and going frog splash, Five Knuckle Shuffle, flying headbutt, and Angle Slam. Show is still in it, however, so now Angle organizes a team carry, but that’s just wishful thinking. Show gets angry and tosses Cena at 53:02. RVD gets fancy and gets gone at 53:21. Jericho gets tossed and hangs on, as our final four is Jericho, Benoit, Angle and Show. How about THAT? Jericho is backdropped out again, but slides in again. Show tosses him into the corner, but Jericho comes back with a bulldog and goes for the Walls of Jericho. That seems a little counterproductive. Angle breaks it up and fights with Jericho on the ropes, but Show saves for Angle and chokeslams Jericho out of the ring at 55:11. Down to three. Angle walks into a sideslam, and Show chokeslams Benoit following that. Show fights off Angle’s suplex attempt, but falls victim to the Angle Slam, and Benoit gets more of the same. Angle takes a poll from the fans as to who to go after, and Show is lucky winner of an anklelock, which is of course meaningless. Show powers him to the ropes and Angle hangs on too long and gets eliminated at 57:40. So now Benoit is faced with having to eliminate single-handedly the guy that 5 people couldn’t get rid of at once. He starts by headbutting him back into the ring, but walks into a chokeslam, which he counters into the crossface. Again, that’s for nothing, as Show powers out and sideslams him. Show goes for the kill with a press-slam, but Benoit counters to a standing guillotine choke and hangs on. He pulls Show to the apron with that and won’t let go, and gravity proves to be Show’s enemy, as he passes out and falls out at 61:37 to make Benoit the winner and the recipient of the title shot at Wrestlemania XX. I was marking out like nuts last night and initially was thinking ***** because of the excitement and brilliantly tight booking, along with the great story of Show being the monster that no one could eliminate until Benoit figured it out, but after watching it again…I still loved it. HA! Fooled ya! It’s still *****, and the best Rumble I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen ‘em all.  (2012 Scott sez:  I think that’s too high.  ****1/2 maybe, given perspective.)  The Bottom Line: The Rumble match came as close as humanly possible to pulling off a miracle and redeeming what had been to that point a horrible show, but really HHH stinking up the ring…again…was too much to overcome in the long run. Thumbs in the middle, but order the replay for the Rumble only. Next stop for Benoit: Wrestlemania. And here I was worried that they wouldn’t even have a feud for him.