Miz got a couple of pinning combinations early, but Antonio survived them. Miz went for a leapfrog, but Antonio caught him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker: 1…2…NO! That was fucking awesome. Antonio is the best. Antonio got the heat after that. Antonio hit a Michinoku Driver for another nearfall. Miz avoided another Michinoku Driver, and he hit a pair of neckbreakers. Miz made a comeback. Miz nearly broke his leg, Psycho Sid style, on a dive. Miz avoided a charging Antonio and then went after Antonio's injured leg. Miz called for the Figure Four, but Antonio fell to the floor. Antonio sent Miz into the steel apron. They went back into the ring, and Antonio hit the Neutralizer: 1…2…3
This match started solidly enough, Miz's injury seemed to cause the match breakdown to a degree. Everything after the blown spot seemed sloppy. Antonio looked very sharp before that. Match Rating: **1/4
Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez were backstage. For some reason, Bret Hart was backstage, and he encouraged Del Rio. The idea of using legends like Bret Hart and Ric Flair to make natural heels into babyfaces without the turns making any sense is pretty much the WWE creative process in a nutshell.
Big Show tried to overwhelm Del Rio early, but Del Rio stayed in the game with some kicks. Show went for a powerbomb, but Del Rio reversed it into an awkward hurricanrana. Del Rio then hit a seated senton and a step-up enzuiri. Del Rio went for the cross armbreaker, but Show reversed it into a Drunk Slam. Show grabbed a steel chair, but Del Rio got the chair and used it repeatedly. Show came back with a chokeslam. Del Rio fell to the floor. Show gave him a scoop slam. Del Rio came back with a kick to the balls and a kick upside the head. Del Rio "cheating" seems stupid considering his babyface turn doesn't make much sense to begin with. They brawled on the stage. Show used a light tube, but it didn't break. Show brought out a table. Show and Del Rio ended up on a hanging structure. Show chokeslammed awkwardly shoved Del Rio off the structure and through the table. That got a nine count. Show brought Del Rio back to the ring. He called for the KO punch, but Del Rio fell to the floor. Show tossed some steel steps at Del Rio, but the champ dodged them. Ricardo tried to help, but Show easily tossed him away. Show charged at Del Rio, but the champed dodged the attack again and Show went through the barricade. Del Rio used a chair to attack Show's back and left arm. Del Rio then used a fire extinguisher. "This is Awesome" chants. Back in the ring, Del Rio locked in the cross armbreaker. Ricardo then duct taped Show's feet to the ropes. LOL. Worst finish. That won the match.
This match was a really fun WWE-style Last Man Standing match, but holy shit, I hate the duct tape finish. WWE did that once before with Cena/Batista. It sucked then, and it sucked now. I had a fun time watching the match, but the finish left a sour taste in my mouth. I probably underrated this match, but again, that finish. Match Rating: ***
Backstage, Dolph Ziggler threatened to unify the world titles. WWE is trolling us with that tease that they will never follow through on.
This match was solidly worked, but it felt like a television effort as opposed to a big PPV tag match. I keep waiting for these teams to have a great tag team match, but it doesn't seem to be happening. Match Rating: **1/2
The Rumble Match
I've never reviewed a Royal Rumble style match before. So, I'm not sure how this is gonna work. I don't want to just list the competitors and the elimination order. That's lame. So, I guess I'm just gonna review it like any other match. This match is my favorite gimmick match, so I hope this match is great.
#1 was Dolph Ziggler. He was accompanied by AJ Lee and Big E. Langston. #2 was CHRIS JERICHO! I'm glad I stayed spoiler free. I thought Jericho's next return should be a surprise, and I'm glad it was. Jericho hit Ziggler with a supersplex, as Cody Rhodes came in at #3. Rhodes and Ziggler double teamed Jericho. #4 was Kofi Kingston. Santino Marella was #5. Dolph gave Santino a superkick, and Cody then tossed Santino, who was the first elimination. Drew McIntyre, once proclaimed the future of the WWE by Vince McMahon, came out at #6. Jericho almost got eliminated by Dolph, but he survived. Titus O'Neil came out at #7. Jericho eliminated McIntyre with a Silverking Dropkick. #8 was Goldust. Cody looked most upset. Cody and Goldust started slugging it out. The crowd loved Goldust. LOL, #9 was David Otunga. Why does he get booked for these things? What a waste. Heath Slater was #10. Sheamus was #11. Sheamus ran through everyone. Sheamus eliminated Titus O'Neil and Otunga. Tensai was #12. Brodus Clay came in at #13. I forgot he existed. Cody Rhodes's mustache is truly outstanding. Cody eliminated his brother. #14 was Rey Mysterio. Mysterio ran wild. It feels like the camera has missed some eliminations, but I don't care enough to figure it out. #15 was Darren Young. It took about five people to eliminate Brodus Clay. Kofi eliminated Tensai. Ziggler shoved Kofi off the apron, but he landed on Tensai's back. Tensai dropped Kofi on the commentation station shaped like a table. Kofi took JBL's chair. #16 was Bo Dallas. Kofi used JBL's chair to hop back to the ring. Kofi low-bridged Darren Young to the floor. Cody then gave Kofi the Beautiful Disaster, which eliminated Kofi. #17 was The Godfather! WADE BARRETT WAS RIGHT! Godfather was immediately eliminated by Dolph Ziggler. Weaksauce. I hope he comes back out as The Goodfather next. #18 was Wade Barrett. #19 was John Cena. Everyone mauled him, but Cena fought back. He eliminated Slater and Cody. #20 was Damien Sandow. Barrett eliminated Mysterio in a surprisingly casual manner. I guess that means Mysterio is not back full-time. I hope Mysterio has a match at Mania. #21 was Daniel Bryan. Bryan kicked everyone. A lot. We need another Jericho/Bryan match. #22 was Antonio Cesaro. I feel like Ryback is about to eliminate everyone but Cena soon. #23 was The Great Khali. #24 was Kane. I hope we get some more surprise entrants before the end. #25 was Zack Ryder. Ryder hit Ziggler with a Rough Ryder. Team Hell No eliminated Khali. Bryan eliminated Kane. Antonio sent Bryan off the apron, but he landed on Kane. Kane and Bryan debated whether or not Kane should put Bryan back in the ring. It was humorous. Kane decided to drop Bryan on the floor. I thought that was great. #26 was Randy Orton. Randy gave Ryder a RKO and eliminated him. Lol. #27 was Jinder Mahal. WHY??? Cena eliminated Cesaro. Boo. The crowd agrees. #28 was The Miz. Miz and Cesaro brawled on the entrance ramp. Miz was selling the injured ankle from the pre-show match with Cesaro. Sheamus eliminated Mahal. #29 was Sin Cara. I forgot he was rumored to come in. I'm guess #30 is someone big like Taker or Brock. Fuck, I just remembered Ryback hasn't entered yet. Bo Dallas eliminated Barrett. Lol. Barrett got pissed and just eliminated Bo Dallas anyway. #30 was in fact The Ryback. Meh. I want Batista. Ryback eliminated Sandow. Ryback eliminated Sin Cara. Ryback eliminated Miz! Yay! Jericho hit Ryback with a Codebreaker. Jericho hit Cena with a Lionsault. Ziggler got Jericho on the apron and superkicked him to the floor. RKOs for everyone. Ryback then clotheslined Orton over the top rope. Sheamus eliminated Ziggler with a Brogue Kick. Final Three: Sheamus, Cena, and Ryback. Three two-dimensional babyfaces! WWE! Cena and Sheamus double teamed Ryback and hit him with a double suplex. Ryback came back and hit Cena with a lariat. Sheamus avoided the Shell Shock. Sheamus hit Ryback with White Noise. I always find it weird when they treat Ryback like "just another main eventer." It seems like they had a chance to make him a bigger star. Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick, but Ryback tossed him out of the ring. Cena vs. Ryback. Meh. Ryback hit a spinebuster. Cena came back with the STF. Ryback seemingly passed out. Cena got him to his feet. Ryback came back with a shitty diving Thesz Press. Ok. They battled a little bit more, and Cena then just dumped Ryback out of the ring.
Probably the most disappointing consequence of this decision is that this really gives away the result of the main event. Cena's "comeback" story doesn't really play well, because the character doesn't show much weakness and even when he's not WWE Champion, he feels like the focus of the promotion. The idea of Cena/Rock II doesn't interest me at all, but there should have been a better way to get here. Cena should have had a really shitty 2012 with lots of losses on PPV undercards. As it stands, it feels like the corporate poster boy artificially had a "bad year." I'm rambling a bit, but my point is the storyline isn't good and the matchup doesn't interest me.
As for the Rumble itself, it definitely wasn't one of the best Rumbles, but I found it consistently entertaining and engaging. The Jericho surprise was awesome, and it makes me hopeful he will have a cool midcard program for Wrestlemania. There also was a lot of other smaller story touches that I liked. I doubt we'll get a Cody/Goldust PPV match, but I thought that small story worked. I LOVED the Kane/Bryan interractions. I stopped caring about their story a while ago, but I loved their eliminations. I just looked back through my recap. I guess didn't care about much else, but hey, I enjoyed this match a lot. I love the Royal Rumble. Match Rating: ***1/2
It looks like they have about a half-hour to work with. Context is everything. When I see photos of the Rock in the real world, I think he looks like a steroid freak. When I see him in the WWE ring (even next to Punk), I think he looks like a dude that just works out a lot. I hope Punk watches out for The People's Magistral Cradle. And here...we…go…
It's a slugfest to start. Rock sent Punk to the floor. Rock started to set up the Spanish announce table, but Punk put it back together. That made me crack up. Heyman punched Rock behind the ref's back, but Rock chased him away. Punk gave Rock a lariat and dropped him on a barricade to cut him off. Punk brought him back into the ring to get the heat. Punk was in control for a while. Punk was mostly going after Rock's midsection. Heyman got a cheapshot in behind the ref's back. Rock fell to the floor, and Punk hit him with a diving lariat. Punk tweaked his surgically repaired knee on that. Rock went after the injured knee, but Punk tossed him to the floor. Punk then took him out with a tope suicida. Back in the ring, Rock just started coming back…weird. Punk's injured knee gave Rock the opening. Rock called for a Rock Bottom, but Punk avoided it. Punk went for a GTS, but Rock reversed into a Sharpshooter. Punk reversed that into an Anaconda Vice. Rock reversed it into a pinfall, but Punk kicked out. Rock hit a DDT, and they both went down. Rock went for a Rock Bottom, but Punk reversed it into a crucifix pin. Rock kicked out and locked in the Sharpshooter. Punk made the ropes. They ended up on the floor. Rock delivered a lariat and successfully undid the Spanish announce table. Punk called for the GTS, but Rock tried to reverse it into a Rock Bottom, but the table collapse before Rock could hit the move. Lol. Rock's leg seemed tweaked from that. Rock then delivered a Rock Bottom on the floor. Rock rolled Punk back into the ring: 1…2…NO! Punk came back with a roundhouse kick upside the skull. They struggled to their feet and started striking it out. Rock came back with a running lariat and a spinebuster. Rock went for the People's Elbow, but the lights went out. The lights stayed out, as the commentators described The Shield triple powerbombing The Rock through the other commentators' table. Punk feigned outrage and shock. It was grand. Some people probably didn't like that, but I thought it was fun. Punk rolled Rock back into the ring: 1…2…3! Wow!
The crowd was not pleased. Punk celebrated. Vince McMahon came out. Punk and Heyman begged for mercy. Vince teased that he was going to strip him of the belt. Rock got on the microphone and said no way. Rock said Vince wasn't taking the belt from Punk. Rock wants to take the belt from Punk. Vince agreed to restart the match!
Rock was selling something fierce. Punk mauled him in the corner. Punk hit his ugly-ass diving elbow: 1…2…NO! Punk called for the GTS, but Rock escaped hit a spinebuster. Rock then hit the People's Elbow: 1…2…3!
With that, the story of CM Punk, the longest reigning WWE Champion in two decades, comes to a close. If you had told me, that CM Punk was going to be champion for 443 (or whatever) days, and that the last six months of his reign would have him be a heel with Paul Heyman as his manager, I would said "nice fantasy booking." However, that's exactly what happened…and it was an incredibly underachieving 443 (or whatever) days. Punk had lots of great matches (the ones with Bryan, Cena, and now, The Rock immediately come to mind), but there just wasn't a lot of gripping storylines. At least for me. Obviously, a super long Punk reign is preferable almost by default to the hot potato reigns we've been getting for years. That doesn't mean that Punk's reign was anything special. It's just better than the dumpster fire that's been the booking of the WWE Championship for the last five years. Part of the problem was clearly that even though Punk was the champion for over a year, John Cena was still "the man."
That is a huge fucking problem. Cena has been "the man" in the WWE for almost eight years now. You know how long Steve Austin was "the man?" 18 months. Sure he had another run in 2001, but he was a heel for most of it, and he was overshadowed by the hideous Invasion storyline. WWE needs to move on from John Cena in the worst way. Instead of doing that, they are trying to convince us that 2012 was a bad year for him, and that we should be thrilled that he's about to win the WWE Championship again in two months. Ugh.
As for The Rock winning the title, I am completely OK with it. WWE hasn't really done a "part-time" WWE Champion in a long time, and since he's only holding the belt until Mania, him being part-time doesn't really affect that much. Sure, Rock is a product of the past, but he still looks and moves like a main roster member. He's not breaking down physically in any obvious way, and he's probably healthier now than he was when he first left the WWE in 2002. He's the biggest star in all of wrestling, and he's a fine person to end CM Punk's reign. I wished it happened at Wretstlemania, but c'est la vie.
The match itself was a lot of fun, and I actually really loved the swerve at the end with The Shield/Vince. It was pretty Super Cena of the Rock to recover like that, but he wrestles so infrequently, the crowd didn't care in the slightest. Punk had pulled out a lot of tricks to keep the WWE Championship the last six months, and his tricks finally ran out. I would say that this was Rock's best match since he returned (but that's not saying too much quite frankly). I think these two are natural enemies, and I would love to see them involved again in a PPV main event tag match or something like that. Match Rating: ****
The 411: The Royal Rumble PPV is usually one of my favorite wrestling events of the year, and I imagine that will be the case again this year. It wasn't a perfect show or even a special show, but I enjoyed it a great deal. WWE's vision for Wrestlemania right now (Cena/Rock II, HHH/Brock II, Punk/Taker, Ryback/Jericho) is very disappointing, but I at least appreciate that the things they are doing to get to Wrestlemania make sense. If Rock vs. Cena is the main event of Mania, then I can't really complain about how they were booked here. It's the main event of Mania. Of course they should look strong. I was hoping the Rumble would have a few more surprise entrants, but overall it was a breeze to watch, which is always a sign of a good Rumble. Punk vs. Rock could have been better, but it definitely delivered enough for me. The other two matches were a little disappointing (and there was way too many filler video packages on this show), but they didn't drag down the show in any way for me. Big Thumbs Up for the 2013 Royal Rumble. The WWE has hooked me for the 2013 Wrestlemania season. Well, I'll watch the Chamber PPV and Wrestlemania at least.