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The Wrestling News Experience: 01.21.08
Posted by Stephen Randle on 01.21.2008



Good morning everyone, and welcome to the Experience. I am Stephen Randle, and due to suffering some unknown muscle injury while I was sleeping, I have lost full range of motion in my right shoulder and can't sit up straight. So I'm sure you'll excuse me for some brevity, since sitting in a computer chair right now is possibly the second most painful thing I could be doing right now. I don't even want to think about the first thing right now, but I'm told it involves a length of rope, tweezers, and a very small rock.

With that said, my very favourite PPV of the entire wrestling year is on the way, and I've got all the news I could possibly scrounge up and put down without my entire right side screaming in pain. Yeah, I don't know how much that is, either, but let's find out together.

What's On Tap: WWE Raw for January 21st

Two matches have already been announced for this week's Raw. In the first, Triple H has one last chance to enter the Royal Rumble match, and it's very simple: just win, baby. The only problem with that? His opponent, plus any possible stipulations, have not yet been named, and you can be sure that Mr. McMahon is looking to stack the deck as heavily as possible against the Game.

In the second match already announced, Mr. Kennedy deigned to accept the challenge of Shawn Michaels for a rubber match between the two Superstars, in, as the Wisconsin native put it, a "tune-up" for the Royal Rumble. You can be sure that Shawn Michaels is looking to make Kennedy eat those words, and do some tuning up of his own.

Plus, as Raw went off the air last week, Jeff Hardy made one of his trademark high-risk leaps from the Raw set, landing square on a prone Randy Orton and sending both out of the arena on stretchers. With word trickling out that Hardy left the hospital without treatment, can the #1 contender be at full capacity tonight, with only a week before his WWE title shot at the Rumble?

All this, plus you can be sure that JBL and Chris Jericho will continue their war of words mixed with violence, tonight on the last Raw before the Royal Rumble!

Oh yeah, and this week, Raw debuts in HD. Just in case you hadn't heard.

Around The Horn

Looking past the Royal Rumble, it appears that advertising for No Way Out is setting up the semi-yearly return of the Elimination Chamber, and also features Jeff Hardy pretty prominently. I will say that at this point, they'd be pretty foolish not to push him as hard as they can, as he already sells a boatload of merchandise, is as over as he's ever been, and has the added bonus of being another "former drug addict turns his life around" story that WWE could probably use for some good publicity. Plus, there's no way the government would ever believe that Jeff is on steroids. I know, I know, steroids don't automatically make you big and muscular, but we're trying to fool a government inquiry here, not well-informed citizens who aren't motivated by fear.

But hey, not all politicians are bad people, as apparently some have reached out to WWE for wrestlers to endorse their campaigns. Ric Flair was recently following around the Huckabee campaign, while Kane and Val Venis have offered their support to Ron Paul. Now, if we could only get Teddy Long to stump for Obama, I would start caring about politics again.

Apparently last week Batista was pulled over by someone who was dressed up as a police officer, but was only impersonating an officer. Even better, apparently this guy has done it before! These are the crimes you don't hear much about. "Hey, Jethro, let's go dress up like policemen and pull over speeding cars!" I tell you, some people don't have enough to do with their time.

For those who were worried, American Gladiators did get picked up for a second season, set to air in the summer. Hopefully that will give them time to both train the gladiators better in some of the events (because seriously, they're pitiful at Joust and Gauntlet), and also find some competitors who don't look gassed after the first thirty seconds of the Eliminator. I await the day when both competitors can actually fully complete the barrel rolls and hand bike without falling off.

There seems to be plans to turn Kevin Thorn face in the upcoming weeks. Because after you steal a man's valet, look, gimmick, and force him to switch finishers two or three times, the only thing left is to make him switch sides for no real reason, despite having no obviously marketable characteristics with which one could conceivably make into a face persona.

Shad and JTG, who used to be Cryme Tyme before being fired for allegedly threatening Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch and assaulting a referee, are apparently back in the WWE developmental system, likely looking to work their ways back up to the main roster. Hopefully this time their trainers will teach them some important lessons, like not threatening other wrestlers or assaulting referees, especially when Vince is in a firing mood.

And before I leave this segment, TNA and UFC have formed a partnership to promote UFC 81, set to be headlined by Brock Lesnar fighting Frank Mir, tentatively titled "The Alliance To End WrestleMania". Unconfirmed rumours say that Vince Russo is pushing to have TNA turn on UFC at the PPV, then immediately align themselves with WWE, because nobody will ever see it coming.

The Official Unofficial List of Rumble Entrants as of 01.14.08

WWE.com does not, in fact, list Shannon Moore, Jimmy Wang Yang, or Big Daddy V as participants, so it's possible that this list is incorrect. However, on Smackdown Michael Cole did mention that V, at least, was entered. Yep, that's why this list is unofficial.

Also, Trevor Murdoch becomes the official Rumble job boy, as he's now failed twice to qualify for the Royal Rumble in qualifying matches.

1. Umaga (defeated Hacksaw Jim Duggan on Dec 31 Raw)
2. Snitsky (defeated Drew McIntyre at Jan 4 house show)
3. Hardcore Holly (defeated Trevor Murdoch on Heat)
4. Shannon Moore (defeated The Miz and John Morrison at Jan 5 house show)
5. Jimmy Wang Yang (defeated The Miz and John Morrison at Jan 5 house show)
6. John Morrison (defeated Shannon Moore and Jimmy Wang Yang at Jan 6 house show)
7. The Miz (defeated Shannon Moore and Jimmy Wang Yang at Jan 6 house show)
8. Hornswoggle (defeated The Highlanders on Jan 7 Raw)
9, Mick Foley (defeated The Highlanders on Jan 7 Raw)
10. Batista (announced on WWE.com)
11. The Undertaker (announced on WWE.com)
12. Kane (announced on WWE.com)
13. Finlay (added by Mr. McMahon's decree on Jan 11 Smackdown)
14. Jamie Noble (defeated Chuck Palumbo on Jan 11 Smackdown)
15. Shelton Benjamin (defeated Tommy Dreamer at Jan 12 house show)
16. Cody Rhodes (defeated William Regal at Jan 11 house show)
17. Santino Marella (defeated DH Smith and Super Crazy at Jan 12 house show)
18. Carlito (defeated DH Smith and Super Crazy at Jan 12 house show)
19. Shawn Michaels (defeated Trevor Murdoch on Jan 7 Raw)
20. The Great Khali (commentator's mention on Jan 18 Smackdown)
21. Big Daddy V (commentator's mention on Jan 18 Smackdown)
22. Mark Henry (announced on WWE.com)

Who's Holding Gold

No new champions, but WWE continues to make ECW look like the new home of the Cruiserweight championship. I've got nothing against pushes for Jamie Noble and Chavo Guerrero, but when you were jobbing them out on Smackdown a month ago and suddenly make them look like the equal of your ECW Champion, there's something not quite right about that. Well, it could be worse, at least they've stopped pushing Big Daddy V against Punk. For now.

WWE

WWE Champion: Randy Orton
- 106 day reign
- defeated Triple H on October 7th (No Mercy PPV)
- Last Man Standing stipulation
- Next title defense: vs Jeff Hardy, Royal Rumble PPV

World Heavyweight Champion: Edge
- 36 day reign
- defeated Batista on December 16th (Armageddon PPV)
- triple threat stipulation involving The Undertaker
- Next title defense: vs Rey Mysterio, Royal Rumble PPV

ECW World Champion: CM Punk
- 139 day reign
- defeated John Morrison on September 4th (ECW on SciFi)
- Next title defense: vs Chavo Guerrero, January 22nd ECW on Sci Fi

WWE Intercontinental Champion: Jeff Hardy
- 140 day reign
- defeated Umaga on September 3rd (Raw)

WWE United States Champion: MVP
- 246 day reign
- defeated Chris Benoit on May 20th (Judgment Day PPV)
- 2/3 Falls stipulation

World Tag Team Champions: Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly
- 42 day title reign
- defeated Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch on December 10th (Raw)

WWE Tag Team Champions: John Morrison and The Miz
- 66 day reign
- defeated MVP and Matt Hardy on November 16th (Smackdown)

WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Title Vacant
- Previous champion Hornswoggle forced to vacate the title due to "his status as a McMahon" on September 28th (Smackdown)

WWE Women's Champion: Beth Phoenix
- 106 day reign
- defeated Candice Michelle on October 7th (No Mercy PPV)

TNA

TNA Heavyweight Champion: Kurt Angle
- 88 day reign
- defeated Sting on October 25th (Impact)

TNA Tag Team Champions: AJ Styles and Tomko
- 99 day reign
- defeated Team Pacman on October 14th (Bound For Glory PPV)

TNA X-Division Champion: "Black Machismo" Jay Lethal
- 134 day reign
- defeated Kurt Angle on September 9th (No Surrender PPV)

TNA Knockouts Champion: Awesome Kong
- 11 day reign
- defeated Gail Kim on January 10th (Impact)

The Injury Bug Bites

Inactive List as of 01.14.08

WWE

- Bobby Lashley, RAW, out 4-6 months as of July 23 (shoulder)
- Candice Michelle, RAW, out 4-6 weeks as of October 22nd (cracked clavicle)
- Gregory Helms, SD!, out one year as of May 17th (neck surgery)
- John Cena, RAW, out 6-12 months as of October 2 (pectoral)
- Lance Cade, RAW, out 6-8 weeks as of December 30th (separated shoulder)
- Matt Hardy, SD!, out 1-3 months as of November 20th (appendix)
- The Boogeyman, ECW, out indefinitely (calf)
- Torrie Wilson, SD!, out 2-3 weeks as of December 1st (back)

TNA

- Christopher Daniels, TNA, out indefinitely as of December 13th (kayfabe, "fired")

Transactions

- Jim Ross, RAW, signed to a contract extension

But…we didn't even get the semi-annual tradition of people attempting to force JR out of the announce booth, even going so far as to humiliate him on TV! I feel so ripped off.

- Kenny Dykstra, SD!, out indefinitely as of January 18th (knee)

Well, he's young, so he'll bounce back, but I have to say that when you're stuck in a team with a valet who overshadows you (even though she hasn't won anything of importance in years), you could probably use a good knee injury.

Links For Fun And Nonprofit

Byers and Prag have the weekend news reports

From the glowing box, Slimmer has Heat, Dunn and Csonka have ROH Undeniable, Dunn and Borchardt have Smackdown, Byers and Larry have Global Impact, and Byers and Larry also have regular old Impact.

The Gab Bag

Rick Funcannon, like many people, is fairly disappointed with this year's Rumble entrants, as it seems like only one person currently entered has a chance, that being The Undertaker. I have to agree, although I'll toss in Batista just because sometimes it's nice to pretend we don't actually know what their booking plans are for Mania. Other than that, well, Triple H might make a case should he qualify tonight (against, presumably, some Big opposition), and Shawn Michaels would be a threat if he weren't all tied up with Kennedy. So, yes, there does seem to be a larger selection of dead wood than past Rumbles. I think most of the blame can be placed on the fact that the undercard contains most of the wrestlers you would consider at this point to have a shot at title contention: MVP, Jeff Hardy, Orton, JBL, Jericho, Rey, Edge and even Flair. Actually, that speaks pretty well for WWE elevating people, doesn't it? Plus, CM Punk is already ECW Champion and therefore not a part of it, and Lashley, Cena, and Matt Hardy are all injured. Also, in the last year WWE lost from its roster Big Show, Chris Benoit, Booker T, and RVD. I'm not saying any of them would win the Rumble, but these are all guys who would add "star power" and possible doubt.

From The Anthology - Royal Rumble 2005

Okay, so since the last Rumble, Benoit and Eddie got their long-awaited title runs, which led to the rise of JBL, and also the rise of Randy Orton. One would work out (albeit not very well from a financial perspective), and the other would tank in near-record fashion. But, at least Triple H kept his hands off the title until September, which was a record for him on Raw at that point. Anyway, in the meantime, two Superstars were undergoing fairly meteoric rises that looked like they might actually save buyrates and ratings and provide monster faces for each brand for years to come. One was John Cena, who was pretty much pegged for that role from day one, and the other was Dave Batista, who was just hitting his stride as an intelligent monster who was getting just a little tired of playing lapdog for Triple H as the Rumble rolled around…

We are LIVE on DVD from Fresno, California, and your hosts are JR, Lawler, Cole, and Tazz (with Hugo and Carlos), and JR and Tazz call the Rumble again. The entrance is set up to match with the "West Side Story" parody that they did with the commercials leading up to it. Too bad Deuce and Domino didn't exist yet, although this may have given someone the idea.

Edge vs Shawn Michaels

Edge had pretty much just started his heel turn, and was not yet the Rated R Superstar that we know and love in a purely heterosexual fashion. This stemmed from Shawn Michaels winning the fan vote at Taboo Tuesday (as he always does), and Edge being a little cranky about finishing last. Oddly, for two guys who wrestle very well, they don't gel initially, leading to a few awkward spots. As a whole, in fact, the match is of much lower quality than both men are capable of, and pretty slow-moving to boot. Eventually, Edge tries to take a powder, but gets forced back to ringside. The ref gets in Shawn's face for some reason, and Edge hits a spear on the floor, but Shawn gets back in at nine. Edge mocks the setup for Sweet Chin Music, but a second spear only gets two. That right there would suggest that they weren't quite ready to get behind Edge totally at this point. Shawn hits the top rope elbowdrop, but Edge reverses Sweet Chin Music to an electric chair drop for two. Edge locks on a reverse Sharpshooter that he'd been occasionally using for a submission finisher, but Shawn gets the ropes. Finally they settle for Edge reversing a rollup into one of his own, using the ropes, for the pin. Yeah, Edge wasn't really initially a strong heel. Fortunately, in the next year, he'd win Money of the Bank, hook up with Lita, and feud with the returning Matt Hardy, really establishing himself as a sleazeball heel, and end up winning his first WWE Title. But I guess that's a story for next recap.

Backstage, Eric and Teddy supervise the Rumble drawings. Ric Flair and Eddie Guerrero draw first. Ric celebrates his drawing, while Eddie looks unhappy, but he hugs Ric anyway. Flair shows off his number, but Eddie, of course, switched numbers during the hug.

Further backstage, Snitsky and Heidenreich share a tender moment about their hatred for caskets. Still not sure why they thought Snitsky needed to shave to have a good "ugly" look.

Heidenreich vs The Undertaker - Casket Match

In more bad gimmick ideas, I really want to know who thought that Heidenreich needed to read poetry, and would be considered a monster heel for doing so. As "Undertaker vs Big Unstoppable Guy" feuds go, this would probably rank in the bottom three, down there with Kama and Giant Gonzales.

This, of course, the "West Texas Deadman" look that Undertaker returned to at WrestleMania XX.

Also, I never approved of them switching from the comically oversized giant Undertaker caskets to the conventional ones. They just don't look as intimidating.

Anyway, Heidenreich can't wrestle worth a damn, and Taker doesn't seem that interested in carrying this to anything watchable, so we get a lot of very basic offense, and little to no selling. Eventually, a massively bandaged Snitsky (presumably from something involving Kane) runs in to attack Taker. Heel doubleteaming ensues, but Kane emerges from the casket to avenge both his half-brother and his fetus, and fights Snitsky out through the crowd. Meanwhile, Heidenreich shoves the casket out into the aisle, I guess in order to prevent any other figures from Undertaker's past from popping out. Heidenreich chokes Taker out…well, in theory, since it's the worst chokehold in the history of professional wrestling, but Taker sits up in the casket, then legdrops the casket lid onto Heidenreich. Heidenreich reverses a running DDT to a Bossman Slam, then covers for a theoretical three, but rolling Taker into the casket has the same result as it did the previous time. DDT, chokeslam (both of which Heidenreich manages to mess up), Tombstone, and that's it.

Backstage, Teddy Long demands that Eddie return Flair's Rumble number, and the rest of Evolution shows up to intimidate. Eddie returns the number, and, after further cajoling from Teddy, Flair's wallet as well. This segues into an Evolution planning session, as Batista wants to go get his Rumble number, but Trip wants to talk strategery. Staredowns ensue, but Flair makes peace.

Further backstage, Christian (with Tomko) draws his number, but gets interrupted by John Cena. Christian reacts poorly, claiming that he can freestyle just as well. Tomko shows his first sign of personality ever, shooting down Christian's request that he drop a beat. In the usual fashion portion of the show, I own Cena's "Ruck Fules" shirt, and would kill for the "Captain Charisma" shirt that disappeared from Shopzone almost immediately due to some sort of copyright problems that may or may not have really existed. Geez, no wonder Christian thought he'd get more respect in TNA.

JBL vs Kurt Angle vs Big Show - WWE Championship - Triple Threat Match - No DQ

After going through Eddie Guerrero, Undertaker, and a hastily face-turned Booker T (still not sure why they bothered, they turned him back almost immediately), Kurt and Show were actually the only credible challengers left for JBL on Smackdown, except for the obvious Cena match at WrestleMania. Also, Show was bald at this point, having been shaved by Kurt sometime over the summer. Not the best look for him.

Show beats up both guys for a good long while, but Kurt blocks a chokeslam attempt on JBL through an announce table, then knocks Show out and through the table with a monitor. So, now they just do a one-on-one match between Angle and JBL. After a few nearfalls, Show makes it back into the ring, and resumes his path of destruction. Chokeslam on JBL, but they're too close to the ropes for a pinfall. JBL rolls out of the ring, and Show clotheslines him through the barricade, giving us our "holy crap" moment for the match. JBL's cabinet and EMT's check on the champion while Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns (the crappier version of Team Angle) pull out the referee and attack Show in the aisle. Meanwhile, Orlando Jordan throws JBL back into the ring, where he hits a Clothesline from Hell on an unsuspecting Angle, getting the pin and retaining the title.

Backstage, Carlito sucks up to Batista, begging him to sign a petition to have Teddy Long fired. I forget how that whole thing ended. Carlito preps an apple, but Batista makes not-so-vague threats about what he might do with said petition and Carlito thinks better of it. He continues on to the number-drawing room, where Teddy and Eric are arguing about outside interference. Eric bans Evolution from ringside (during which Batista gets line of the night for "I'm just here to get my number" in response to Teddy accusing him of planning to interfere), which amuses Batista.

Triple H © vs Randy Orton - World Heavyweight Championship

For those who forget, Orton won the title at Summerslam (which I saw live, to my disgust), then got kicked out of Evolution and quickly tanked as a good guy, so badly that the planned Trip-Orton WrestleMania match was scrapped completely and instead put on here so that they could turn Orton heel again to face Taker instead. As a bonus, I derived endless pleasure from the stupidity that was the adventures of Randy Orton, Boy…of Desssstiny (TM Calvin). And yet, they're still trying to get that Orton-Trip Mania match on the card three years later, for some reason.

Something strange in retrospect, Trip had just become the ten-time World Champion after winning the vacant title at New Year's Revolution. Of course, he'd also been the previous title holder before it was vacated, but whatever gets him to sixteen faster. Anyway, here were are in 2008, and isn't it funny how history played out, as Trip only got his eleventh title reign a couple month ago at No Mercy, and held it for roughly two hours. Since he lost the title to Batista at WrestleMania 21, Triple H hadn't touched a World title in over two and a half years. I guess he learned to pace himself.

I'm telling you all this, of course, because I'm mostly ignoring the match itself, which isn't very good, and suffers from the fact that you couldn't chart Orton's face heat with a thermometer capable of measuring absolute zero at this point. Okay, that's a bit harsh, but I worked hard on that line, so it stays in. Trip works the leg for a good long time, even cutting off several hope spots. Finally, Orton kicks Trip into the Spanish announce table to break, and starts his comeback, which mostly consists of punching and forgetting that he just spent ten minutes having his leg worked over. Anyway, at a certain point Trip blocks a DDT by holding the ropes, and Orton starts selling a concussion from the impact of falling on his back (the replay even shows that Orton's head never touched the mat). This leads to a ref bump when he goes to check on Orton, and Trip grabs the sledgehammer. Orton blocks the shot, but can't immediately capitalize as he continues to stumble around, appearing more drunk than concussed. Trip takes him down and grabs the hammer, but drops it as the ref stirs, and hits a Pedigree for the win.

Backstage, Kurt steals Nunzio's rumble number. In all fairness, he did offer to fight Nunzio for possession.

Back in the GM's room, JBL and his Cabinet enter to celebrate his victory, but Teddy informs him that he'll be defending the title at No Way Out in a Barbed Wire Steel Cage match against the Big Show. Why yes, the ensuing match was as bad as it sounds, and thankfully, they've never bothered to re-use that particular gimmick.

The Royal Rumble

#1 - Eddie Guerrero
#2 - Chris Benoit

Benoit and Eddie lock up, but nobody gets an advantage. They mat-wrestle for a while, but neither hits anything big in the first two minutes.

#3 - Daniel Puder

Puder won the Million Dollar Tough Enough contest, but would disappear to OVW after this and never make it back to WWE. Meanwhile, the guy who finished second is currently WWE tag team champion, and a guy who got kicked out in the qualifying stages for being too old became the Boogeyman. Anyway, Benoit and Eddie beat Puder around the ring with their trademark spots in a "welcome to the neighbourhood" bit.

#4 - Hardcore Holly

At this point, it was nearly impossible to hide the fact that Hardcore hated young wrestlers (he had just recently injured Carlito's shoulder during a house show, derailing that push), so Eddie and Benoit back off and let Hardcore go to town on Puder with chops. Benoit and Eddie add some chops of their own, then Hardcore kicks Puder low, hits the Alabama Slam, and tosses him.

#5 - The Hurricane

Eddie and Benoit toss Hardcore during Hurricane's entrance, then team up to beat down the superhero. Eddie takes a chance and attempts to toss Benoit, but gets some chops to remind him why that's a bad idea. Hurricane hits a floating clothesline on Eddie, but runs into chops from Benoit, and Eddie backdrops Hurricane out.

#6 - Kenzo Suzuki

Kenzo was not yet the successful comedy act he would become, so at this point he was just a bad wrestler. Benoit and Eddie continue teaming up, and work over Kenzo. Back suplex on Kenzo by Eddie, and Benoit sneaks up and tries to toss Eddie, who holds on.

#7 - Edge

Edge goes right after Eddie, then charges across the ring and beats down Benoit and Kenzo. He goes back to Eddie and tries to toss him, but Eddie wraps around the ring ropes. Benoit chops down Edge, but Kenzo interferes.

#8 - Rey Mysterio

Rey goes after everyone, but settles on a fancy bulldog on Edge. Dropkick on Benoit, but Kenzo catches Rey. Quick reversal sequence, and Rey ranas Kenzo over the top rope and out. Eddie gets a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on both Rey and Benoit.

#9 - Shelton Benjamin

Shelton punches away at Edge and hits a spinning back elbow, then backdrops Eddie. Benoit tries to toss Rey, while Eddie sneaks up and tries to toss Benoit. Rey chop blocks Shelton, then hits a rana.

#10 - Booker T

Booker attacks Edge and beats him down, hitting a spinkick. Rey and Shelton get tangled in the ropes, but nobody goes out. Eric Bischoff strolls out to the ring to cheer on the Raw wrestlers. Benoit puts Eddie in a Sharpshooter, and Eddie taps, which accomplishes little.

#11 - Chris Jericho

Jericho gets a shot on everyone, eventually hitting a back suplex on Edge, then mounted ten punches on Eddie. Booker attacks Jericho from behind, however. Teddy comes out to ringside as well.

#12 - Luther Reigns

Reigns and Jericho tangle, and we get a standoff between the four Raw guys (Benoit, Edge, Jericho, and Shelton) and the four Smackdown guys (Eddie, Rey, Luther, and Booker). They'd actually stuck to the brand extension for a while at this point, so the crowd is actually into the prospect. Eddie backdrops Shelton to the apron, but not out.

#13 - Muhammed Hassan

Ah yes, another example of WWE setting the standard for good taste. All the action in the ring stops at Hassan enters, and everyone beats him down. Rey hits a 619, and everyone gangs up and crowd surfs Hassan out of the match. You know, half the guys in the match at this point are Canadian, why would they care if Hassan hates America?

#14 - Orlando Jordan

Booker and Benoit beat down Jordan almost immediately. Jericho ends up on the apron fighting with Shelton over a suplex, but hangs on and rolls back in.

#15 - Scotty 2 Hotty

Hassan interrupts Scotty's dancing and beats him down in the aisle, locking in the Camel Clutch. You know, if they'd actually had the balls to make Hassan a good guy, an American Iraqi seeking to correct misconceptions, he could have actually been a worthwhile character instead of a useless racial profile. Scotty gets helped to the back and never enters the match.

#16 - Charlie Haas

Haas gets hit with a Booker sidekick almost immediately. Booker keeps going, tossing Luther and Orlando, then hitting a Spinarooni. Unfortunately, Rey dropkicks Booker into a lowbridge from Eddie, and he flies out. Meanwhile, Shelton hits a T-bone suplex on Rey.

#17 - Rene Dupree

A sign in the crowd says "I Spell "Loser" R-E-N-E". which shows the laughable state of the American education system, if nothing else. Haas and Benjamin reunite with a springboard splash on Rey, but Edge ducks a Shelton charge and shoves Shelton out.

#18 - Simon Dean

Dean takes his sweet time getting to the ring, while Rey hits a rana on Eddie. Eddie ducks a 619, but Rey gets a facebuster, and Edge sneaks up and tosses Eddie. Meanwhile, Dean is on the outside doing warm-up aerobics.

#19 - Shawn Michaels

Dean finally gets in the ring, but continues doing squats. Shawn goes right for Edge, then peels off to clothesline Dean out. Crowd even chants for Eddie as he leaves, which shows how truly over he was. Rey dodges Edge multiple times, while Shawn backdrops Haas out.

#20 - Kurt Angle

Kurt hits a German on Benoit, an overhead belly-to-belly on Rey, a German on Jericho, and Angle Slams on Edge and Dupree. Shawn reverses an Angle Slam, but Angle ducks a Superkick and reverses to the Ankle Lock. Shawn breaks, and a quick Sweet Chin Music puts Angle out, leading to a great feud and better matches, including the 2005 Match of the Year at WrestleMania.

#21 - The Coach

Tazz spends the entire time Coach wanders to the ring mocking him. Coach gets a cheap shot on Benoit and hides in a corner, so Benoit rips his shirt off. Jericho hits a leapfrog splash on Dupre, but tries to toss Rey and nearly gets rana'd out himself.

#22 - Mark Jindrak

Angle sneaks back into the match during Jindrak's entrance and muscles Shawn over the top rope, then slams him with the ring steps and locks on an Anklelock in the aisle. A dozen refs and officials (including a very well-dressed and at that point retired Finlay~!) break it up eventually.

#23 - Viscera

Vis was not yet the World's Largest Love Machine, but I believe that wasn't that far off. Vis slams Rey, then beats down Jindrak.

#24 - Paul London

London slides right into Dupree, who pulls him down by the hair and dances. Jericho takes advantage and tosses Dupree, then dances himself. A bunch of people try to toss Jindrak.

#25 - John Cena

The crowd goes nuts, and Cena has forearms for everyone. He runs into Vis, but manages to backdrop him out. Rey hits a Bronco Buster on Coach.

#26 - Snitsky

Snisky is a house of fire, as JR reminds me that he's bandaged up from the street fight with Kane on Raw that I was in attendance for, so you'd think I'd remember it better. Anyway, London climbs on Snitsky's back with a sleeper, but gets deposited on the apron, and clotheslined so hard that he does a flip on the way to the floor. Cena and Snitsky have a staredown, but Snitsky fights out of the FU and hits a big boot.

#27 - Kane

Kane goes after…well, you know. Chokeslams on Edge, Benoit, Cena, Jericho, and Rey, and Kane tosses Jindrak rather than bother chokeslamming him. Coach tries a cheapshot, which goes badly, but Snitsky saves Coach from a chokeslam and hits a pumphandle slam on Kane.

#28 - Batista

Despite still being a heel, the crowd makes it quite clear that they like Batista. The Batista conspiracy continues, as he gets 28 again, and he clotheslines Snitsky right out. Kane and Batista face off, and Batista gets a Batista Bomb. Jericho gets caught on a crossbody attempt and dumped.

#29 - Christian

Christian goes after Cena, but gets beaten down. 619 on Kane, and Cena FU's Kane to the floor. Cena and Rey form an alliance against Coach and beat the crap out of him.

#30 - Ric Flair

Flair and Batista also team up on Coach, because, really, it's Coach and nobody likes him anyway. Batista allows Flair to toss Coach. Flair feeds Christian for a Batista spinebuster, and Batista presses Christian out onto Tomko. Benoit chops away at Flair, but Batista charges him, then hits a spinebuster, and Flair and Batista toss Benoit. Flair tries to toss Batista, which is really not the best of plans, but allows Edge and Rey to dropkick Batista. Spear on Flair, and Edge tosses him.

Final Four: Edge, Rey Mysterio, John Cena, Batista

Edge goes after Rey, but gets pulled off by Batista. Spear on Batista, and another on Cena, but Rey leapfrogs a spear attempt and hits Edge with 619. Edge ducks a springboard and tosses Rey over the top, then spears him off the apron. Edge charges Cena and Batista, but they both backdrop him out. A staredown between the two hottest guys in WWE at the time ensues (and no, that's not hyperbole), and they start trading punches. Cena tries to FU Batista out, but Batista holds the ropes. Eventually Batista gets free and tries a Batista Bomb, but overbalances and both men fall out in a completely unplanned spot. The refs take turns raising hands while everyone scrambles to come up with something. Eventually, Vince strides out, but to continue the complete screw-up this match has turned into, he tears both quads trying to slide into the ring and must render his verdict while sitting on the mat in incredible pain, because he can't even stand. Meanwhile, Batista and Cena take turns tossing each other out in an attempt to become the real winner, so finally Vince decides to restart the match. Frankly, since Cena was going to end up with the other title shot anyway, I don't see why they couldn't have just gone with the double elimination anyway, but I guess you couldn't have had the whole "wacky evil plan" of Triple H over on Raw if Batista couldn't choose which brand he was going to get the title shot on, and that'd be too bad, right? Anyway, the end comes quickly, as Batista wriggles out of another FU, hits a Spinebuster, and easily tosses Cena to win.

Stephen Rates The Rumbles

Man, there is an interesting, but not necessarily fun, fact about this Rumble that just hit me as I was paging through it. Of the 30 Superstars entered in this match, only sixteen of them remain in WWE three years later. Of those, one is Coach, one is Chris Jericho, who would "retire" that summer and only return last month, and one is the soon-to-retire Ric Flair. I suppose the good thing is that of those sixteen, you have five future World champions (including all four of the Final Four), so you could say that this is the Rumble which really showcases the future (now present) WWE.

Anyway, the Rumble match is well booked, and I'm not one to take points off for the botched finish. I will note that on Smackdown last week, they aired a highlight of Batista winning this Rumble and made no note of the mistake, only showing Batista spinebustering and tossing Cena, so I guess it never happened. The undercard matches are underwhelming, although less so than 2004, and most of it can be blamed on the horrible Heidenreich-Taker abortion. I wasn't too fond of the sudden ending to the triple threat match, either, though, and as much personal pleasure as I got from Orton getting beaten so decisively, it probably wasn't the best thing for his career at the time, as he never really got an advantage on Trip. With that said, it's still a good show, but history has been kinder to it than I can be, having watched a whole lot of these lately.

1. Royal Rumble 2000 (Winner: The Rock)
2. Royal Rumble 1994 (Winners: Bret Hart and Lex Luger)
3. Royal Rumble 1992 (Winner: Ric Flair)
4. Royal Rumble 2004 (Winner: Chris Benoit)
5. Royal Rumble 2001 (Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin)
6. Royal Rumble 2005 (Winner: Batista)
7. Royal Rumble 1990 (Winner: Hulk Hogan)
8. Royal Rumble 1989 (Winner: Big John Studd)
9. Royal Rumble 1997 (Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin)
10. Royal Rumble 1998 (Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin)
11. Royal Rumble 2003 (Winner: Brock Lesnar)
12. Royal Rumble 1996 (Winner: Shawn Michaels)
13. Royal Rumble 2002 (Winner: Triple H)
14. Royal Rumble 1988 (Winner: Hacksaw Jim Duggan)
15. Royal Rumble 1999 (Winner: Vince McMahon)
16. Royal Rumble 1993 (Winner: Yokozuna)
17. Royal Rumble 1991 (Winner: Hulk Hogan)
18. Royal Rumble 1995 (Winner: Shawn Michaels)

And One To Go On

411 will have live coverage of Raw tonight starting at 9 pm EST. That's our show, Larry will be in tomorrow, I'll be back next week.

Have a good one, and always be a fan.





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