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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

Thoughts from the Top Rope 1.24.14: Royal Rumble Play-By-Play
Posted by Daniel Wilcox on 01.24.2014

Hello and welcome to another edition of Thoughts from the Top Rope with yours truly, Daniel Wilcox. I hope you are all in good health and I hope you're all looking forward to this Sunday's Royal Rumble extravaganza. If you can't wait for this Sunday then scroll down and you will find exclusive play-by-play of this Sunday's Rumble. More on that later.

It's been another busy week in the world of pro wrestling, which should come as no surprise as we join the Road to WrestleMania. Batista returned on Raw in what I thought was an underwhelming moment. I just don't think I want to see Batista vs. Randy Orton. In all honesty? There aren't many people I want to see Batista face. But his return Monday night didn't even make him seem like that big of a deal. The Orton/Cena feud has so little momentum I can't even muster up any interest in that match, even though it will likely shape our main event of WrestleMania.

And of course the Rumble is the Sunday and the winner seems to be up in the air. A lot of people think it's Daniel Bryan's time, and just as many think Batista is the only candidate. CM Punk seems to be a long shot. And no one one knows whether people will be pulling double duty at the Rumble either. It's anyone's guess, unless you go with my play-by-play later on.

Last Week's Feedback

Here's the best of last week's feedback, corrected for spelling and grammar where necessary;

From mj: "Sometimes the WWE has long-term plans (e.g. Rock-Cena), but most of the time they don't.

We don't need to speculate. We don't need to take the role of optimist or pessimist to evaluate the end of a storyline or the future of a particular character.

We can use evidence, precedence and logic.

Daniel Bryan first got incredibly over with the "Yes!" chants during WM 28. The WWE downplayed his popularity, tried to transfer his chant to others and were unwilling to give him another world title run. Nearly two years later, the chant is stronger than ever and Bryan's more over than ever.

At some point last year, Bryan figured out a "formula" that really engaged the crowd during multi-man bouts against The Shield. This caused the WWE to take notice. They decided to build up a Bryan-Cena main event for Summerslam, even though Vince was very much against it. He would later describe it as the "wrong attraction" and a "swing-and-a-miss."

Bryan beat Cena cleanly at Summerslam because he had to. The crowd wouldn't buy any other outcome. You have a big, muscular face that half of the crowd hates against a rising underdog face that everyone loves. Just as how Cena had to lose RVD many years ago, Cena had to lose to Bryan.

Does that mean the WWE ever planned for Bryan to actually have a reign as a champion? Hell no. They showed that by making Orton champ only a few minutes after Bryan's victory. Hell, they'd rather hold the title in "abeyance" than have Bryan as champ for even a month.

This is not speculation. This is the truth.

Simply put, the WWE has never had-- and still does not have-- any long terms plans for Daniel Bryan. They recognize he is very popular, but they do not want him to actually have a lengthy title reign as world champ. If they did, then that's what they would do.

However, every once in a while, the massive ovations and chants from the crowd force them to position him higher than they desire.


My Response: I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you here. You claim to use "evidence and precedence" while avoiding "speculation" but your argument is littered with just that. Say things like "WWE has never had" long term plans for Bryan is pure speculation and actually ignores the evidence that suggest they've wanted him to be a top tier player since day one. Bryan was fired because he had to be, was brought back into the main event of Summerslam, had high profile feuds and carried the United States title before winning Money in the Bank and a subsequent world title, which he carried into WrestleMania. This all long before the "Yes!" chants gained popularity. WWE has always backed Daniel Bryan. And I would massively disagree with the assertion that "the massive ovations and chants force them to position him higher than they desire." It's Vince McMahon's company, he could do what the hell he likes. If McMahon didn't want Bryan to be as popular as he is, he wouldn't book him in main event segments, he would give him story-lines at all, and he wouldn't be in high profile slots on pay-per-view. He could quite easily be a direction upper-mid card talent used as enhancement for the very top tier guys. The fact is Daniel Bryan has been one of the most-protected Superstars on the roster for the past year or more.

From Phil, who shares a similar view; "Bryan is a top star because the fans made him one, because he earned their respect. WWE has done absolutely nothing for him. They are behind Cena and Orton, their corporate, hand picked, spoiled brat stars. Bryan is OUR star. Those are the facts as I see it. If we want Bryan to be champ or...shocker, be the face of the company one day, we have to keep vocally supporting him at every show and FORCE the company to give us what we want. That Raw when the crowd hijacked the show because they didn't care about the Cena/Orton unification match, that needs to happen more often."

My Response: Again, this just isn't the case. When Daniel Bryan was down in NXT, a minimum of 90% of the audience had no idea who he was. But WWE made a big deal of his background, gave him a high-profile "Pro," and he was one of the few guys on that show who had an actual "angle" to work with. He's consistently been pushed since day one through the aforementioned title reigns and Money in the Bank victories. Bryan wasn't getting these amazing reactions from the regular viewing audiences, bar maybe Chicago and Philadelphia. WWE recognised the guy had talent and has used it incredibly well actually.

I think this comment from %_* sums it up as well as I could; "I think from day 1 of DB walking into the WW he has had no bigger supporter then Vince McMahon. Vince has been around for ever. He knows it doesn't matter how talented you are if the fans aren't behind you. What better way to get the fans behind someone then to let them think THEY, not him, made a wrestler a star. So, Vince finds someone with a large underground backing. Someone who's undeniably talented. And pretends to screw him over. It's done wonders for CM Punk. He uses "smart fans" to spark interest in a guy then creates the impression he's holding them back. He gets the fans to feel for the wrestler. Then he gets the fans to fight for the wrestler. Then the fans are invested in a wrestler.

Let's look at Daniel Bryan. The first thing they do is put him on a show with rookies. Not only that but they change his name in the most ridiculous fashion imaginable. They pair him with the Miz. They turn Michael Cole into the single most obnoxious person in TV history just to mess with him. Then he loses. And finally they fire him because of a tie. All this time IWC are losing our collective minds. He makes an epic return. He wins the US title. The reign starts strong but kinda fizzles. His match at Mania is bumped to the pre-show. Indy fans are pissed. Then he wins Money in the Bank one year after he's fired, because Vince hates small indy guys or something. He wins the title from Big Show after ending Henry's awesome Hall of Pain run. Is in there with Big Show and Henry and gets to defend his title at Mania. But he loses in 18 seconds. Within 2 years in the company he won the US title, MITB and was in a title match at Mania. But all anyone sees is the 18 seconds. After Mania the fans erupt and Vince had zero clue this would happen.

At Summerslam they try to get Charlie Sheen, the most talked about person on the planet at the time #bitching rock star from mars #bi winning , involved in match with him. They "demote him" by putting him in a team with Kane. But they gave them vignettes. Do the Rhodes Brothers get vignettes? They then drop the belts to the nobodies known as the Shield. He beats Cena clean for the title but loses it immediately. He loses in a feud with Orton, but not cleanly. He's then put into a program with this jobber named Bray Wyatt that no sees any potential in. Every time the WWE messes with Daniel Bryan The cheers get louder. Do you think Vince doesn't notice? Do you think it's an accident? Everyone wants Daniel Bryan to have a run with the belt. Then what? What happened to Jericho after his unified title run? Benoit ,well before you know? Cardinal rules of show business "Don't give the fans what they want. Give them what they need." And "Always leave them wanting more". This has been the master plan. You make the audience want something. Then you deny them. The more you tell them no the more they want. The more they want, the louder they get. And when they get it it's a bigger moment.

My Response: There might be a little bit too much credit given to Vince here, but the general idea is spot on. It was no coincidence Bryan was paired with Miz and Michael Cole in NXT, those guys are like the anti-Daniel Bryan. Since day one Bryan has been portrayed as not good enough, not to make him look bad but because they knew fans would rally behind Bryan, assuming he was good enough. And that's always been the case. And now they rally around him more than ever. We haven't seen the last of Daniel Bryan in the title picture, that's for damn sure.

Right, enough talk about Daniel Bryan. I guess come Sunday's Royal Rumble we will know for sure just what the hell is going on. Until then, just wait and see.

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This Week's Match

WWE Championship Match: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit Royal Rumble 2003

There's nothing to say other than this is a fantastic match and everyone should see it at least once.

This Week's Feature

This Week's Feature is a little nerdy, even for a wrestling fan. It's hardcore fantasy booking. See, when I first started as a writer at 411, I assisted Jeff Small on a feature called the WWE SmackDown vs. Raw Pay-Per-View Simulator. Small would have the AI play out matches of all the upcoming pay-per-views and briefly write up the match as a way of predicted the outcomes. At some point he got bored of doing this and opted to give up the feature unless one of his dear readers wanted to take over the reigns. That's where I came in except instead of doing a brief line about the match and the outcome, I ended up doing full write-ups of the matches. This is where I discovered I enjoyed doing full write-ups for matches, which would eventually lead me to being the recapper for Raw and a couple other shows for 411.

At the same time I also had a thing for fantasy booking. I was had a couple of runs with 411's landmark fantasy booking column The Fink's Payload. Then there was Andy Clark, one of the site's former writers and the man behind The Shimmy, for my money one of the better columns the site has had. Every year on his birthday column in August, Clark would weigh in with his first prediction fro the following year's WrestleMania card. One year, Clark enlisted my help as an avid fan of fantasy booking to do the play-by-play for the matches he predicted. Told you it was nerdy. But it was also a well-received project that was a ton of fun to do. In fact you can read it here, just don't please don't laugh. We did accurately predict Undertaker/Shawn Michaels stealing the show at WrestleMania 25, so there is that.

Anyway, the point is, I like fantasy booking and I know what I'm doing when it comes to play-by-play. So allow me to present this year's Royal Rumble match in all of its glory.

The Royal Rumble 2014: Play-by-Play

At ringside, Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL discuss the night's event, notably the controversial ending of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match that saw John Cena defeat Randy Orton to become the new champion.

Backstage, Batista is getting taped up for his match. Enter Randy Orton who informs The Animal that he will get his title back because he was robbed by John Cena. And then he will see Batista at WrestleMania, if he somehow manages to win the Royal Rumble. Batista tells Orton he got beat, and the only way he'll be in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania is if he wins the Royal Rumble. Unfortunately, Batista's in that, so Orton wouldn't stand a chance anyway.

They throw us to our expert panel for their Royal Rumble predictions. Ric Flair says you can't look past his former Evolution teammate Batista. Shawn Michaels thinks if there's anyone who can emulate his success and go from bell-to-bell, it's CM Punk. Very first Rumble winner Jim Duggan was supporting Daniel Bryan until he got beat down post-match earlier, and thinks Bray Wyatt himself is now a favourite.

Backstage, Renee Young asks CM Punk what his chances are of winning the Royal Rumble from the number one position. Punk says it doesn't matter if he's the first entrant or the last, his chances were always going to be hindered by The Authority. But being number one ensures that CM Punk will be able to eliminate all three members of The Shield and both New Age Outlaws on his way to becoming number one contender and booking his spot in the main event of WrestleMania XXX.

Elsewhere backstage there's a commotion as referees and medics surround Zack Ryder who appears to have been laid out. Ryder was a scheduled entrant in the Royal Rumble match.

Howard Finkle informs us it is now time for the Royal Rumble match! Superstars will enter at two-minute interevals. The only way to be eliminated is by being thrown over the top rope with both feet hitting the floor. The last man standing is the winner and will go on to challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX!

CM Punk is #1 as we already knew. Entrant #2 is Daniel Bryan! He gingerly makes his way to the ring following the beating he received earlier. He and Punk stare down and we have a massive "Yes!" chant! They shake hands and both look toward the WrestleMania XXX sign. They lock up and go the corner and break. Back in the centre of the ring they exchange kicks to thighs. Punk with a boot to the gut, whips Bryan into the corner. Punk comes in looking for the knee to the face, but Bryan ducks and sends Punk over the top to the apron! Bryan with forearms but Punk is holding on and comes back with a forearm of his own that creates some separation. Punk springboards and looks for the clothesline but Bryan catches him in the Yes Lock! Punk fights and then quickly rolls through, takes Bryan down and goes for the Anaconda Vice! Bryan avoids that and rolls away, charges Punk but gets scooped up, Go2Sleep attempt blocked! Bryan catches the leg of Punk on the way down, takes him down but gets kicked back to the corner! Both men back up as the clock counts down and #3 is... Damien Sandow! Sandow cuts a promo on his way down to the ring belittling Pittsburgh. He asks Punk and Bryan to wait while he talks, but Punk responds with a series of rights. Punk whips Sandow into the corner and hits the running knee. Running dropkick by Daniel Bryan! Another knee in the corner by Punk! And another dropkick by Bryan! They double clothesline Sandow over the top and he's gone!

Punk and Bryan tie up again and chain wrestle with neither guy being able to apply a hold for more than a few seconds. Bryan goes back to the kicks, knotting up the thighs of Punk. Punk responds with a roundhouse kick to the head, knocking down Bryan. Xavier Woods is in at #4. He goes right to work with right hands to Punk. He sends him to the corner and hits a monkey-flip! Daniel Bryan gets the exact same treatment. Woods takes a moment to celebrate and turns right into a running knee by Bryan! Punk picks Woods up and tosses him to the floor! Bryan tries to toss Punk but he blocks it and connects with another roundhouse kick. Punk heads to the top rope and points skyward in preparation for the elbow drop, but Bryan is up and meets Punk with right hands to the gut. Bryan ascends to the top and and looks for a superplex. He hooks legs round the ropes and hits a Spider Superplex! "Yes!" chants erupt as Bryan pulls himself up to the top rope. He comes off looking for the diving headbutt, but Punk rolls out of the way! #5 is The Miz. He runs in and goes right to work with rights to both guys. He tosses Punk to the corner and connects with the running clothesline. Miz is on fire and tosses Punk over the top rope, but he hangs on. Miz turns his attention to Bryan and hits a kneelift followed up by a neckbreaker. Miz sets up for the Skull Crushing Finale, Bryan fights it, rolls through and sends Miz over the top and to the apron! Bryan hits the ropes and nails Miz with the running knee sending him crashing to the floor! Punk tries to toss Bryan over but he holds on! Punk backs off with a smirk as Bryan composes himself and re-enters the ring and begins a mammoth "No!" chant. The clock ticks down and #6 is Roman Reigns! He slides into the ring and is met with kicks from Punk and Bryan as they team up. They force Reigns to retreat to the corner where they beat him down, but he shoves them both back and takes their heads off with a pair of clotheslines! Reigns sets to work tossing both guys around the ring. He tosses Punk and Bryan to opposite corners and hits a splash on both. Punk fights back with rights, comes off the ropes but gets dropped by the Superman punch! Bryan on the attack now with kicks. He sends Reigns to the corner, charges in and hits a dropkick! Backs up and hits another one! Bryan is on fire, he looks for a third... SPEAR! Reigns explodes out of the corner!

Jey Uso is #7. He charges the ring and goes right to work on Reigns, gets him to a knee and nails a superkick! Reigns is reeling on the ropes, Jey charges but gets sent to the apron. Jey blocks a punch and connects with a right. Jey up top, looks for a crossbody but gets caught! Reigns dumps Jey over the top rope! Punk from behind now and goes to work with kicks to Reigns, who squats Punk away and drills him with a big boot. #8 is R Truth. He goes straight to Reigns and gets the better off him and even drops him with the What's Up. Truth and Punk look to toss Reigns but he blocks it and hits both guys with headbutts. Reigns try to scoop Punk over the rope but Truth breaks that up. Truth infuriates Reigns with some dancing and catches him with a kick. Reigns comes back with body shots, Truth lands a right but Reigns hoists him and press slams Truth out! Punk back up now and attacks Reigns with more rights. They go back and forth, Reigns shoves Punk aside but Daniel Bryan nails a running knee! Reigns turns into a Go2Sleep! Dean Ambrose is #9, but Daniel Bryan catches him with a suicide dive before he reaches the ring! Punk slides to the floor now and he and Bryan tee off on Ambrose. Ambrose looks to retreat through the crowd but Punk and Bryan give chase. Seth Rollins meets them in the aisle-way to even the score and we have a brawl out in the crowd! Big E Langston is #10! He enters the ring and stares down Roman Reigns, who is just about up to his feet. They go toe to toe. Reigns pushes Langston, who responds by shoving Reigns on his ass! Both men fire off rights and Langston is getting the better of the exchange. Reigns begs off but pulls Langston's singlet to send him into the turnbuckle! Reigns set for the Spear but Langston avoids the contact and floors Reigns with a vertical splash. Straps are down! Ambrose and Rollins attack Langston! They put the boots to him and now Reigns back to his feet to join the attack. Bryan and Punk are shown laid out in the crowd, struggling to get to their feet. Langston fights off Ambrose and Rollins only to get nailed by a devastating Spear! Reigns directs traffic as the Shield sets up the Triple Powerbomb. Referees are trying to get Rollins out as he's not yet an entrant. They hit the powerbomb anyway and now Rollins begins to leave. Entrant #11 is Billy Gunn. Reigns and Ambrose pull Langston to his feet and toss him over! Gunn stares down the Reigns and Ambrose, unsure of the alliance, but before anything can occur, Punk slides back in the ring and goes after Reigns. Reigns and Ambrose beat him down in the corner. Daniel Bryan pulls Gunn off the ring apron and drills him with rights on the floor. Bryan in now and evens up the odds for Punk. He manages to get the Yes Lock on Ambrose! Sin Cara is #12. He nails Billy Gunn with a rana on the floor! Cara up top, comes off and hits Reigns with a crossbody! Head scissors take down to Ambrose!

Gunn slides back in now and catches Cara coming off the ropes with a tilt-a-whirl slam. Punk fires off on Gunn as Bryan works Ambrose over in the corner. Rey Mysterio is in at #13. He takes to the air and wipes out Ambrose with a seated senton! Reigns cuts Rey off mid-619 attempt and tosses him under the bottom rope to the floor. Reigns follows Rey out and tosses him into the steel steps. Luke Harper is #14. He goes right to work on Daniel Bryan who fends for himself with a series of forearm shots. Billy Gunn looks to toss Punk over the top but instead he goes through the middle ropes and hits Roman Reigns with a suicide dive! Sin Cara narrowly avoids elimination via Ambrose as Seth Rollins is official at #15! Punk and Reigns continue to brawl on the floor. Reigns gets the better of Punk, but Mysterio comes flying off the apron looking for a senton, only to be caught by Reigns, who launches Mysterio over the announce table! Back in the ring, Bryan is clinging to the top rope, arms and legs wrapped, as Billy Gunn and Dean Ambrose look to force him over. Cara picks them off though, making the save. Harper destroys Cara with the discuss clothesline! Punk in and goes to work on Harper, sends him to the corner and hits the running knee! Go 2 Sleep! Ambrose from behind, grabs Punk and hits the headlock driver! Reigns back in now and the Shield surround Bryan. Erick Rowan is #16. Lawler and Cole speculate about the entry order. Rowan helps Harper up as the Wyatts and Billy Gunn look on as the Shield pick apart Daniel Bryan. They hoist him up and nail him with the Triple Powerbomb! Mysterio crawls back in the ring and flails helplessly at Roman Reigns while the others look on. Reigns palms Mysterio down then breaks him in half with a Spear! Reigns picks up Sin Cara and tosses him to the floor. Road Dogg enters at #17 and the conspiracy is on. Reigns pulls Mysterio up and tosses him out.

Punk and Bryan are alone with the Wyatts, the New Age Outlaws and the Shield. Roman Reigns get the mic and says the Shield has dominated this Royal Rumble and they are the most dominant force in this industry and they will stand alone! The Shield stare down Harper and Rowan! The clocks tick down, lights out! Bray Wyatt appears in the ring at #18!. The Wyatts and the Shield brawl! Road Dogg and Gunn try to calm the situation down and they get decked! The Wyatts beat down Road Dogg! Roman Reigns spears Billy Gunn! Ambrose attacks Bray Wyatt and the brawl is back on! Wyatt sets Ambrose up for Sister Abigail but Rollins cuts him off with a flying knee! Pittsburgh has come unglues! Lights out! "BREAK THE WALLS DOWN!" Chris Jericho is #19! The Wyatts and the Shield stare down Jericho, but Bryan and Punk attack from behind! Jericho in and fights off Ambrose and Rollins. Erick Rowan charges CM Punk, but he low bridges him and Rowan is gone! Go 2 Sleep to Rollins! He staggers back to the ropes and Bryan clotheslines him to the floor! Codebreaker to Ambrose! He turns around into a running knee from Bryan! The fans are on their feet shouting "Yes!" Bryan tosses Road Dogg to the apron, and Jericho promptly eliminates him with a springboard dropkick! Jericho takes down Ambrose and locks him in the Walls! Bryan tosses Billy Gunn over the top and out! Reigns pulls Jericho off and trades rights with him, but Jericho rakes the eyes. Bulldog! Lionsault! Ambrose charges Jericho who back drops him to the floor! Punk tosses Harper! Bryan goes to work with kicks to Wyatt! He tosses him to the apron and eliminates him with a running dropkick! The place is electric! Reigns is on his own surrounded by Bryan, Punk and Jericho.

Backstage we see Zack Ryder being ruled out of the Rumble match. #20 is Roddy Piper! Reigns looks to get a shot in on Punk, who floors him with a kick! Reigns to his knees, and now Bryan with kicks to the chest and one to the head! Jericho stalks his prey... Reigns up... Codebreaker blocked! Reigns catches Jericho and dumps him to the floor! The crowd does not like that. Punk runs at Reigns but gets floored with a big boot! Bryan charges now and catches Reigns with a forearm, but Reigns response in kind with the Superman punch! Reigns backs Piper into the corner, but Roddy won't back down. He talks trash and cracks Reigns in the face. Another right by Piper! And another! And another! Reigns ducks one more and rebounds back with a Spear! Roddy Piper is dead! Reigns tosses him to the floor! #21 is Batista! The crowd has erupted once more! Batista makes his way down to the ring and squares off with Reigns. They exchange rights, Batista gets the better of the exchange. Reigns jabs Batista in the throat and poises for the Spear... charges... SPINEBUSTER by Batista! Thumbs up... thumbs down! The Animal goes for the Batista Bomb... but Reigns backs the Animal into the corner and pummels him with right hands. Fandango enters at #22. He dances his way to the ring with Summer Rae. He slides in and puts the boots to CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, both of whom are recovering in the corner. Reigns continues to work over Batista, choking him in the corner. Fandango tries to hoist Bryan up over the top but he fights back with elbows to the side of the head, so Fandango turns his attention to Punk. Batista fights his way out of the corner and backs Reigns to the opposite side, he scoops him up and nails a powerslam! Fandango leaps on his back now but gets pulled right off. Batista sets... nails Fandango with a spear of his own. Batista tries to hoist Reigns over but he again holds on as the clock ticks down and Goldust is #23! The veteran comes in and goes to work on Fandango. Punk and Batista now square off. Forearms by Punk have Batista reeling, he delivers a knee to the face and The Animal is down. Reigns once again looks to force Bryan over the top but he's resilient. Goldust makes the save and tees off on Reigns. Punk slams Batista mid-ring and heads up top... and connects with the flying elbow! Fandango up now and follows that up with the big leg drop! Bryan heads up now and Batista gets nailed with the diving headbutt! Alberto del Rio is in at #24.

Del Rio applies the cross-armbreaker to the fallen Batista and refuses to let go. Punk drops the leg on del Rio to break the hold. Reigns shoves off Goldust and looks to eliminate him. Del Rio with a throat-thrust to slow down Punk and now he tries to toss him. Punk goes over the top but holds on. Del Rio celebrates as he thinks Punk's gone, but gets caught by the springboard clothesline! Goldust drills Punk with rights though. Fandango works over Daniel Bryan in the corner as Reigns goes back to choking the fallen Batista. The clock ticks down and Rob Van Dam returns at #25! He goes right to the top rope and comes off with a thrust kick to Reigns! Spinning heel kick to Punk! Windmill kick to Fandango! Van Dam winds it up and connects with Rolling Thunder! He takes time out to pose and remind us off his name, with Pittsburgh obliging. Del Rio attacks him from behind but gets caught with a kick to the face. Van Dam heads up top... FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH! Nails it, but gets up and walks right into a Spear! Reigns stands tall, but Batista pops up behind him, kick to the gut... BATISTA BOMB! Cody Rhodes is #26. He comes in and teams straight up with Goldust; they hit a double suplex on Bryan. Then the same to Punk, and one for Del Rio. They attempt the same move on Batista, but he counters and takes both of them over with a suplex! Jimmy Uso is #27. He comes in like a house on fire. Connecting with clotheslines to del Rio, Punk and Fandango. Punk and Bryan have been in for 50 minutes apiece at this point, with Roman Reigns at the 40-minute mark. Van Dam is back up but getting hammered by Roman Reigns. Fandango looks to toss Goldust over, but Cody sneaks up from behind and tosses Fandango! Fandango protests on the floor, and the distraction allows Goldust to throw Cody out! Rhodes can't believe it! Goldust tries to remind Rhodes about last year, but Roman Reigns tosses him out as well! Kofi Kingston is #28 and enters with a series of high-impact moves. On the floor Cody and Goldust have a heated discussion until Fandango shoves Cody into Goldust. Goldust responds with a right to Cody! They exchange right hands on the floor before a couple of referees get between the pair. Dusty Rhodes even comes down to settle them down and the two brothers and tag champions leave shouting threats to one another.

Still in the ring is Punk, Bryan, Reigns, Batista, del Rio, Van Dam, Uso and Kingston. Batista seems to find a second wind and hits a pair of spinebusters on Punk and Bryan. He blocks a superkick from Uso, spins him round and connects with a third spinebuster! Uso up to his feet, only to be clotheslined out by the Animal. Spinebuster to Kingston! Batista tosses him out! #29 is Randy Orton! Batista stares down Orton as he slowly makes his way to the ring. Reigns attacks Batista from behind before Orton can hit the ring. Batista fights off Reigns as Orton slides in... SPINEBUSTER to Orton! Batista clotheslines Reigns out! Roman Reigns is gone! Batista takes a moment too long to celebrate his success and turns right around into a RKO! Orton looks to nail Van Dam with the RKO but he shoves Orton away, only to charge at him and get side-stepped. Orton tosses Van Dam over the top and to the floor! Bryan fires off with rights to Orton and builds up a head of steam only for Orton to toss Bryan to the apron and nail him with the rope-assisted DDT! Punk on the attack now but Orton is too fresh. He tosses Punk to the apron and nails the same DDT! Del Rio tries to talk Orton into an allegiance and Orton seems to agree. They begin to pick up the carcass of Batista but the music of #30 hits and it's Sheamus! He charges the ring and takes down del Rio with a clothesline! One for Orton! Sheamus scoops del Rio up and nails him with a powerslam! Backbreaker for Orton! Sheamus clotheslines del Rio to the floor! He takes in the roar of the crowd before setting Orton up for the Brogue kick! Orton ducks the kick, Sheamus turns back around and eats a running knee from Daniel Bryan! Punk from behind tosses Bryan, but he holds onto the top rope! RKO to Punk! Bryan skins the cat and nails Orton with a running dropkick that sends him over the top and to the floor! Orton is gone and we have a massive "Yes!" chant.

Your final four are Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Sheamus and Batista! Spinebuster to Bryan from Batista! He sets him up for the Batista Bomb, gets him up, but Bryan with the right hands... both men fall over the top rope and both land on the apron. Bryan with kicks as the crowd chants "Yes!" Bryan goes back into the ring, comes off the ropes and nails Batista with a running dropkick but the Animal still holds on! Batista shoves Bryan away, but Randy Orton goes low on Batista from the floor! He pulls Batista off the apron and the Animal is gone! Randy Orton scarpers out of dodge as Batista seethes on the floor. We're down to Punk and Bryan, who have been in there an hour, and Sheamus. Sheamus picks up Punk, ties him up in the ropes and hits the clubbing blows to the chest. He tries to toss him over but Punk fights back with forearms. Sheamus with a knee to the gut, he sets Punk up for the High Cross but Punk slips out the back. Roundhouse kick by Punk! Punk gets him up for a GTS, Sheamus slides off the back, shoves Punk away and goes for the Brogue Kick! It connects and Punk goes over the top and to the floor!

Daniel Bryan and Sheamus remain. Bryan is spent at this point. Sheamus couldn't be any fresher. They stare each other down, Bryan from his slumped position in the corner. He pulls himself and starts another "Yes" chant. Sheamus has none of that and immediately goes for a Brogue, Bryan rolls underneath it, then catches Sheamus in the Yes Lock! He has it applied as Sheamus fights to no avail. Bryan has it in tight, but Sheamus gets up to one foot, then two! Bryan still has the hold half-applied until Sheamus runs Bryan into the turnbuckle and he nearly topples out! Sheamus charges into the corner but Bryan avoids the contact! Running dropkick! And another! And a third! Sheamus is down to his knees. Kick by Bryan, and another, and another, and another. Bryan misses a kick to the head, Sheamus pops up, hoists Bryan up and connects with White Noise! Sheamus watches as Bryan pulls himself to his feet with the assistance of the ropes. Sheamus charges but Bryan with the low bridge and Sheamus falls to the apron. Bryan withs kicks to the gut and thighs but Sheamus won't go down. He grabs Bryan and hits a series of clubbing blows to the chest, then slingshots back over and connects with a shoulder tackle. Sheamus goes to the legs of Bryan and locks in the Irish Cloverleaf! Bryan fights through the pain. Daniel Bryan has a counter for any submission, he forces the break and ties Sheamus up in a sharpshooter! Sheamus crawls towards the ropes and when he gets there Bryan breaks the hold. Bryan stalks Sheamus, he wants the running knee, Sheamus turns around and ducks and Bryan crashes and burns! Brogue Kick connects! Sheamus pauses to gain his breath back before deciding he wants to toss Bryan out with the High Cross. He sets him up, gets him up, but Bryan ranas Sheamus over the top! Sheamus holds onto the apron. He drills Bryan with a stiff forearm, but Bryan hits the ropes and connects with the knee! Sheamus drops to the floor and Bryan wins @ 1:10:43!

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Bryan drops to his knees in exhaustion as the referee raises his hand. Bryan gets to his feet and leads the way in one final "Yes!" chant. Bryan looks to the WrestleMania XXX logo as fireworks go off around the arena, but the celebration is cut short as new WWE World Heavyweight Champion John Cena makes his way to the ring. Cena slides into the ring with his titled. He goes face to face with Daniel Bryan as Bryan encourages another "Yes!" chant from the Pittsburgh crowd. John Cena raises his Championship as we fade to black.

This Week's List

My idea for the list this week was going to be best choices for our WrestleMania main event. Then I realised that there were so damn many choices this year, so I figured the best way to do it was in the form of a poll! Everyone loves polls, right?

Your WrestleMania Main Event

What Match Do You Want to See Headline WrestleMania XXX?
pollcode.com free polls

This Week's Farewell

That concludes another edition of Thoughts from the Top Rope. If you want to leave me any feedback/comments/criticisms/suggestions, you know where the comments section is. Personally, I'd like to hear you thoughts on the inclusion of fantasy booking in the column. Is it something you'd like to see more of, or is there no interest?

And what's your thoughts on this Sunday's Royal Rumble? Who are the major players and who will come out on top? And what's the one match you would like to see the 30th edition of WrestleMania?

Hope you all enjoy the Rumble Sunday, I'll be back here next week. Until then, thanks for reading.


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