michael dworkis reviews the WWE winter classic …
Here we are. Here it came. There it went. In a matter of three hours the 25th anniversary of the Royal Rumble is now in the history books. While not the best of Rumble pay-per-views, it certainly delivered in the entertainment category. For some strange reason, while the event nearly went three hours, it felt shorter, as if not a whole lot actually happened. You be the judge, and here we go with the results.
Daniel Bryan defeated Big Show and Mark Henry in a Steel Cage Match to retain the World Title
In the opening bout of the show, Daniel Bryan, the crafty competitor put the title on the line against The Big Show and Mark Henry in a Steel Cage match. Many of you likely thought there was just no chance of Bryan walking out with the title, but he did. Now, the match itself was pretty devoid of any technical mat wrestling, but had plenty of moments where you thought the cage was going to break. Show and Henry brawled like two giants while Bryan attempted to play the role of David and take down two goliaths. Unfortunately, his bible story did not end with a heroic win as the World Champion found himself on the receiving end of numerous powerslams, splashes, bodytackles, and all your other stereotypical “super-heavyweight” moves. The end was nigh as Bryan made a quick climb up the cage, and The Big Show was right behind him. You could hear the live crowd gasp as Show made it to the top of the cage as well. As Bryan tried to escape over the cage, Show grabbed him by his head, his neck, an arm, as the smaller Bryan dangled high above. Unfortunately, Show was unable to bring him back in, and Bryan managed to break free and crash to the arena floor, winning the match.
Eight-Diva Tag Team Match — Beth Phoenix, Natalya, The Bella Twins defeated Eve, Kelly Kelly, Alicia Fox, & Tamina
That is all you will see for this match. A little background before I continue. My friends and I have a tradition to get together to watch pay-per-views, and we often rotate homes. I hosted The Royal Rumble, and my wife enjoys watching with us, since we spend most of our time making fun and cracking jokes. During the cage match, we were talking about various historic events, one of which was the Hell in the Cell between Mankind (Mick Foley) and The Undertaker. My wife had never seen that match. So, instead of watching the Diva match, we put in my copy of Mick Foley’s Greatest Hits and Misses and watched the sheer insanity that unfolded. My wife watched as Mankind went up to the top of the cell ceiling, and within the first few minutes, The Undertaker tossed him off the top and crashing right through the Spanish announce table. A few minutes after that, Mankind returning to the ring, going back up the cell, and The Undertaker chokeslamming Mankind right through the top and watched him crumble in a heap onto the mat. It was bloody, it was brutal. My wife enjoyed it, and that is why I married her.
Kane vs. John Cena went to a Double-Count Out
I like Kane. I like what WWE has done to the Big Red Machine, and that is turn him back into the Big Red Monster. This is what Kane is all about. No jokes, no team-ups with Santino. Kane is raw rage, raw power, and one hell of a scary dude. Unfortunately this match was the train wreck I expected it to be. You have an angry John Cena who just wants to brawl, and for some reason, it just does not work in this situation. I really hoped I would have been proven wrong. To make matters worse, it ended in a double-count out. The brawl continued all around the arena, and then Kane somehow found a broken Zack Ryder and beat him up some more for Eve to cry and Cena to be flattened with a Chokeslam. Not sure where this Cena-Kane-Ryder-Eve storyline is going, but if it ends up in another wedding ceremony, and I do not care who the lucky couple will be, I might start watching Impact Wrestling.
Brodus Clay squashed Drew McIntyre
Once again, I feel the rage building. Brodus Clay is a monster. Well, he is supposed to be one anyway. If you watched his debut on NXT, he was billed as The Human Suplex Machine. If you know your history, that was a title originally held by Taz from ECW. Sadly Taz now looks like the hamburglar and Clay is saddled with a Flash Funk or Earnest Miller 2.0 gimmick. I give credit to my friend Rob who labeled him as a cross between Scotty 2 Hotty and The Godfather. He did throw McIntyre across the ring with a nice Exploder Suplex. That was all. Squishy squashy bye-bye Jobber McJobby.
CM Punk retained the WWE Title against Dolph Ziggler
Now this match delivered. I was surprised after all the build-up with John Laurinitis being involved in the championship match, he stayed out of the whole thing. Punk and Ziggler had an awesome match. Again, Ziggler continues to impress me and I admit that I predicted the outcome wrong. I really thought Ziggler would walk out of the Rumble as WWE Champion. There were reversals, back-and-forth wrestling, and the best part was neither man had the upper hand for too long. Just when you thought Ziggler was dominating, Punk came back and took control. At one point in the match, Punk was about to set up Ziggler for the Go-To-Sleep, but the challenger reversed, attempted a hurricanrana, or a roll-up pin, but Punk spun around 360 degrees and WHAM! Spinning Powerbomb! Another reversal by Ziggler was successful as Punk tried another GTS and the Show-Off nailed the Famouser for a near three-count. CM Punk is the best in the world, he makes wrestling look real. Ziggler is not too far behind either. Although Punk did finally hit the GTS and knock-out Ziggler for the three count, I predict that Dolph Ziggler will be WWE or World Champion in 2012. The only times Laurinitis entered the match was to give Vickie the boot, take way too long to check on the downed referee, and then
to administer the winning three count to Punk.
Sheamus is the winner of the 2012 Royal Rumble Match
This was not the best Rumble in history, but certainly entertaining. The Miz drew number one when he lost to R-Truth in a match on Raw, but he lasted close to the end. Not much in the way of surprises this year. Each of the announce team had a spot in the Rumble, meaning Lawler, Booker T, and yes, Michael Cole all participated in the Rumble match. Once each was eliminated, they returned to their seat at the announce table. Hacksaw Jim Duggan lasted a whole minute during his special appearance. Now, some surprises were outright unbelievable. As we expected, Mick Foley entered the match, but shortly after the theme music of Alberto del Rio hit. We are rejoicing that the Mexican Aristocrat is back from injury, but no oh no. Instead driving down in a broken Pinto, is Ricardo Rodriguez, del Rio’s personal ring announcer. He actually wrestled, even eliminating Justin Gabriel from the match. Unfortunately Santino Marella ended the WrestleMania aspirations for the ring announcer. At that point, Santino and Foley have a standoff, and then quickly each one pulls out their respective… sock puppets. Santino is armed with The Cobra, and Foley dons his trusty pants-dwelling-pal, Mr. Socko. The crowd goes nuts, my friends, along with my wife and I are at the edge of our seats, wondering what will happen next? Then, like a sudden gunshot, Cobra and Socko lock up! It’s unbelievable! The dream match! Here! Wow!
Inevitable, both Santino and Foley are eliminated, and the comedy show is over. Then, a serious guest entrant appears … Kharma, who others may know as Awesome Kong. She is baaack! She delivers a huge Facebusting Bomb to Dolph Ziggler, but is eliminated by him when Vickie Guerrero distracts the female behemoth. A real surprise was the 23rd entrant, Road Dogg Jesse James! Lasting a decent amount of time until being eliminated by Wade Barrett. The Big Show entered at #30 and cleaned house, eliminating The Miz and Cody Rhodes who both lasted the longest out of all participants. The final four came down to Sheamus, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, and The Big Show. The Big Show was eliminated by Orton who was then thrown over the top by Chris Jericho. Sheamus and Jericho had a good one-on-one contest going, until Jericho, failing to recovering in time was at the receiving end of the Brough Kick, and knocked off the ring apron. Sheamus is going to WrestleMania.
Again, as I said before, not the greatest of Royal Rumble events, but certainly entertaining. The Rumble match felt rushed at times, and I wonder if certain eliminations did not happen fast enough, or maybe the spacing between entrants got shortened due to time constraints. In any case, we now ready ourselves for the big push towards WrestleMania 28. Before we can fully immerse ourselves in the hype, we cannot forget the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view is on the Road to WrestleMania, and if experience has taught us anything, things can change unpredictably in WWE.