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WWE Royal Rumble 2005 
January 30, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


Well, I won one, and I lost one.
I was a big loser in this year's Royal Rumble Game, drawing an endless series of impotent wrestlers who amassed very few points for me until John Cena. And that didn't help, cuz it almost hurts to have to cheer for Cena. 

But PPV Predictions? A perfect 5-for-5, baby! Of course, I finally nail one, and I have to share the

spotlight (I do believe Matt Hocking and I picked identically), but hey, my red hot 2005 prognostication continues! I'm 10-for-11 on the year!

And with that, I realize nobody cares about what *I* won or lost tonight. You care about who won and lost on PPV. Well, Batista was the big winner, punching his own ticket to WrestleMania in the climax of yet another VERY entertaining Royal Rumble Match. At present, he's likely to face Triple H, who retained his World Title over Randy Orton (and did it cleanly, with no interference and no cheating). On the SD! side, JBL once again escaped with his title more thanks to luck than to skill, and has things to worry about BEFORE WrestleMania.

You can get the full details, and all you gotta do is use that index finger to scroll down. Ain't hard to do.  Here are the full results of tonight's just-completed Royal Rumble pay-per-view (with some additional editorial commentary tacked on in the customary red italics):

  • On Heat: all the customary hype, including WWE patting itself on the back for the "West Side Rumble" ad by showing a "making of" package and then running the ad like they were doing us a favor. Hey, it was funny, no doubt, but how's about putting enough effort into the Actual Product so that you had more things THERE to pat yourself on the back about...  also: Maven cheated to beat Rhyno in a long-ish (for pre-PPV Heats) match, counting an ad break, probably 10 minutes and with good crowd heat for the most part, since everybody hates Maven.
  • Edge defeated Shawn Michaels via pinfall. After the video package/etc. and abbreviated welcomes from the three commentary, we shot it straight down to the ring for ACTION...  and these two did not come here to disappoint. Before Shawn could even get his bedazzled chaps off, Edge attacked, and they brawled like madmen for a minute. The culminated with Shawn doing the crazyman clothesline to get Edge out of the ring, and then skinning the cat to get himself back into the ring, where he took off his entrance costume and preened for the crowd. While Edge seethed at the perceived taunting, he got back in the ring and took a few more minutes of beating, before turning the tide with a simple poke to the eyes. That set the stage for a good five minutes of Edge pounding away on Michaels. There was no real focus to the attack that I can remember, though; my main memories are Edge settling in for a reverse chinlock, and Edge spearing the ever-loving crap out of Michaels on the outside of the ring.  Michaels finally started HBK-ing Up around the 12 minute mark, and pretty much from there on out, everything was fast-paced and quite awesome. After HBK got the fans into it with his comeback, Edge took the chance to really piss them off by putting Shawn back on the mat, and then "tuning up the band" to set up for a Spear attempt. When he eventually did land the Spear, Shawn kicked out, causing Edge to go apeshit, even pulling out some of his hair in frustration. More back and forth action until Edge was able to lock in his unnamed Sharpshooter Variation on Michaels...  but Shawn decided not to swallow his pride and save himself for the Rumble match, instead battling until he could get a rope break.  More frustration from Edge. As Shawn hobbled to his feet, Edge tried to catch him off-guard with a roll-up, but it didn't work, and in fact, Shawn re-countered. After a trio or quartet of ineffective roll-ups, Edge finally managed to get Shawn into a pinning combination by yanking Shawn's tights down (the non-camera side got the full moon job, because there's no Commandment that says, "Thou Shalt Not Expose Your Rump In Public"). They were close to the ropes, so Edge grabbed them for "extra leverage," while the ref did his best not to notice the transgressions.  And just like that, Edge steals the victory. Had to have been brushing right up against 20 minutes. [A Jim Dandy, that's for sure. Maybe not the blowaway megaspectacular you'd imagine, given the slow-ish opening half, but the super-awesome second half won me back with no trouble.  Tons if intensity and a good story with Edge's Frustration, which made his eventual win and jubilation more meaningful.  A logical opener, too, since these two had more work to do later on. I'd say Edge's win sets the stage for more between these two, and that when that happens, they'll top themselves. But now I'm almost thinking, given what was to come later, this might have to count as the "blow off" -- or at least the "blow off for now" -- to this feud. Shawn's got other fish to fry, and Edge can swagger all over RAW claiming victory over HBK. Which is fine in my book.]
  • Backstage: Torrie Wilson and Red Headed Spaz are manning the hopper, out of which all the Superstars will pick their Rumble entry numbers. Spaz, since she's got that quarter of a million to earn, is the one who is forced into the arduous duty of actually spinning the tumbler, while Torrie just stands there, like so many a Diva Loser, looking pretty.  Nearby, GMs Eric Bischoff and Teddy Long are chatting, and although there seemed to be some problems with Bischoff's mic, they basically ran through the EXACT skit that I'd proffered up in the Preview: they argue about which brand is better, and which brand will win the Rumble, and then Bischoff says, "Hell, it doesn't matter even if a SD! guy wins, since I know he'll want to come over to the big time on RAW."  
    And in walk Ric Flair and Eddie Guerrero to draw their numbers... they are oddly friendly, like old buds who haven't seen each other in a while, as they work their distinctive mojos on the Useless Divas and pick numbers. Flair is ecstatic at his draw, while Eddie is... contemplative. Waiting for Flair to finish his celebration, Eddie turns to him to congratulate him and wish him luck in the Rumble. At which point he goes for the Manly Hug Of WHOA That Was A Little Long And Awkwardly Hands-On...  but it was all for a reason: when Flair tries to show off to the girls and the GMs, he quickly realizes he no longer has the number he thought he had. And just as quickly surmised what happened to his real number: that lying, cheating, stealing SOB must have taken it. Excellent segment, all around.
  • Elsewhere backstage: Heidenreich is getting ready for his match, commenting on how he doesn't like caskets, when in walks Snitsky for Less-Justifiable and More-Flamboyant Display of Homoeroticism. Heidenreich proclaims "I don't like caskets" one more time. Snitsky reveals, "I know, I don't like them, either, but I DO like you, Jon." The retort, "Oh, well, I like you, too, Gene, but I still don't like caskets." Snitksy's re-reply is that that's OK, cuz he's got a plan. The first-name basis and mutual adoration is accompanied by a lot of heavy breathing and meaningful eye contact, too. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
  • Undertaker beat Heidenreich in a Casket Match. Taker tries to get us off to an unexpected start by busting out the OMG TECHNICAL WRESTLING... but Heidenreich's not exactly the best dance partner for something like that, so the result is just mostly sloppy. And that's the story of the match, really: sloppiness at every corner. Heidenreich eventually took control after Irish Whipping Taker into the casket and kind of working the back a bit. But Taker came back, and around the five minute mark, locked in on Heidenreich with a triangle choke. And that's when Snitsky's plan came together: he ran out and attacked Taker. Remember, no DQ in a casket match. Together, Snitsky and Heidenreich repressed their obvious urge to make hot, sweaty manlove to each other long enough to beat the crap out of Taker. After a minute or so of double-team moves, they thought they had Taker KO'ed, so they decided it was time to put him in the casket and win the match. But as soon as they opened the casket? THROUGH EMBROIDERED PILLOWS AND A NICE SATINLY LINING, IT'S KANE! It's best not to ponder why he was in there, but Kane Zombie Sitting-Up out of the casket was a nice little surprise moment...  Kane basically just picks off Snitsky, and the two rapidly go brawling into the crowd and disappear. Huh, so no "moment" between Kane and Taker, I guess...  that's stupid. Also stupid: this, which should, by rights, have been the climax of the match, came at less than the halfway point, and now Taker and Heidenreich have to limp through another nearly 10 minutes. Oy. Actually, with the casket now emptied, they could do some teases where Taker would get thrown in as Heidenreich continued to control the match, only to escape at the last second. Only problem: the logistics of beating the shit out of a man who is 3 feet away and above you while you're flat on your back result in a LOT of shitty, fake-looking spots.  Finally, though, Taker did make his comeback, and hit the Spot of the Match: with Heidenreich's head and neck in the casket, Taker put the lid down on top and then legdropped the lid in a definitely ouchie of a spot. Fans even gave it a "Holy Shit." From there, chokeslam, Tombstone, and Heidenreich got stuffed in the casket.  Taker wins.  [At 15 minutes and with the "climax" coming about a third of the way through and not even really coming off like that big of a climax, and with some of the sloppiness/fakeness of a few spot, there were some fundamental problems here. A few nice spots, I guess -- Kane in the casket, Taker's guillotine legdrop -- but not enough to justify the 15 minute length. And certainly not enough so that this match compared with the night four other matches, which all ended up being pretty damned good.]
  • Backstage: GM Teddy Long confronts Eddie Guerrero and insists that he give Ric Flair his number back. Before long, Evolution storms in and wants to BEAT the number out of Eddie, but Teddy maintains the peace by getting Eddie to return the number. And then, he holds out his hand, knowing full well that Eddie probably grabbed more than the number from Flair. Sure enough, Eddie produces Flair's wallet and sheepishly walks away with Teddy. That leaves Evolution to chat for a bit, HHH wants to go over the Plan for Randy Orton, but Batista wants to powder out for a sec to go draw his Rumble number. HHH gets all dictatory and says, "No, you do that later, NOW is when we talk about the World Title Match." Finally, Flair steps in before things get too heated, and calms them down and gets 'em together on the same page.
  • Elsewhere backstage: Teddy has returned to the Picking Room, just in time for Christian to show up to draw his number (and to also mention that he's signed Carlito's petition). Christian drew a number, and was very happy about it as he wandered away...  but as he was wandering away, John Cena was wandering in, catching Christian's attention. Christian is not impressed by Cena, and says he (Christian) could out-rap Cena any day of the week. So they engage in a Battle Rap. Christian's is so-bad-and-rhythmless-it's-funny, while Cena's is... well, obsessed with homosexuality. Note to John: that joke about Christian reaching into the tumbler because he likes playing with balls was funnier 10 months ago at the Draft Lottery. But I guess almost-funny recycled jokes are better than all-new fresh crap the likes of which Cena has to stick to on Network TV. Those damned ruckers with all their fules, keeping the hardcore street kid down!
  • JBL beat Big Show and Kurt Angle to retain the WWE Title. This seemed kinda short to me -- hell, a friend of mine saw this one pop on and decided it was time to go outside to catch a smoke, and when he came back, I think there was only about another 4-5 minutes left.  But in this case, that DEFINITELY worked to the match's benefit. Neither JBL nor Show was exposed at all. The pace was fast, the action was intense, and you wouldn't have had that if they'd padded out to 20 minutes.  The start was Angle milling around outside, enjoying Show and JBL beating the crap out of each other. But once Show and JBL starting hitting near falls, Angle had to get into the ring to break them up, and that's how he wound up getting involved.  He and JBL sort of worked together a bit to beat down Show, but Show came back with the first of an estimated 1372 Double Clotheslines in this match, sending both men out to the floor. Out there, Show started setting up for something VERY naughty-looking: he positioned the ring steps near the SD! announce table. He had a notion to chokeslam JBL off the steps and through the table, but at the last second, Angle bailed JBL out by hitting Show in the nuts. Then, while the ref tended to JBL, Angle grabbed a loose monitor and blasted Show in the head, causing him to fall backwards and through the announce table!  Ladies and gentlemen, I did not think it could be done, but we've just learned there IS a way to put Big Show through the announce table. Not necessarily visually stunning, but very creative spot. Angle and JBL locked it up in the ring, with Angle bringing the strap down and pretty much dominating this portion of the match, after about 2 minutes, Angle was in position to win the match, but Big Show had regained his feet and got in the ring to put a stop to that.  A few more double clotheslines, and Show was in control. But that ended in another very cool spot: Show wanted to double chokeslam Angle and JBL, but Angle got them out of that with another sac-shot. As the stunned Show just stood there dazed, JBL went one way, Angle the other, and they converged simultaneously with Angle going low for a chopblock from behind, while JBL attacked from the front side with a clothesline. IT'S TOTAL ELIMINATION~! Saturn and Kronus, eat your hearts out. But Show wouldn't be put down for good that easily. Show again fired up with Double Clotheslines, and after Angle powdered out somehow, focused on JBL. The two went to ringside, where JBL was sucking wind and leaning on the ringside barrier... so Show got a running start and shoulder tackled JBL right THROUGH the barricade. A decent visual, but they oversold it a bit, I thought...  in any case, JBL had to sell it like he was dead, since this was the excuse for EMTs and his cabinet to come out to the ring. Show, meantime, had recovered and was making mincemeat out of Angle in the ring. When it seemed like Show was about to win, Team Angle ran out and yanked the ref out of the ring to break the count.  Show immediately got distracted by Luther and Jindrak, and chased them down, as Angle slowly recovered and watched on.  Simultaneously, Orlando Jordan was telling the medics to get away, because JBL is a fighting champion and he needs to be in the ring, not on a stretcher... so Jordan basically deadlifts JBL back into the ring, where he gets on his feet, sees Angle woozily watching the fight up on the entrance ramp, and instinct kicks in. As soon as Angle turns around, JBL nails him with a Clothesline From Hell and falls on top for the one, two, three. [Somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-12 minutes, but as you can tell from the lengthy recap of the match, those minutes COUNTED and stuff was always happening. I can dig that. The stories for all three men were perfect, too: JBL was once again more lucky than good, Show wasn't pinned so he can demand a one-on-one rematch, and Angle... well, Angle was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he's the kind of guy who tends to use failure as a motivator to do more awesome things. Which, as it turned out, is exactly what happened.]
  • Backstage: Batista is WALKING~! and Carlito comes up and asks if he'll sign the "Evict Teddy Long" petition. Batista calmly says, "No thanks." Cuz really, why should he care about SD!? Carlito doesn't like this, and makes a big show out of taking a chomp out of his apple and chewing. Batista makes a big show out of not giving a shit, and just conversationally asking, "Say, did you happen to catch RAW last week?". Carlito did. "You saw what I did with that flagpole?". Carlito did. "Then imagine what I could do with that little clipboard of yours." Carlito promptly swallowed the apple and said he was just joking around. Batista has successfully defused the situation, so he says, "Alrighty, then. I'll see you around." And just for shits and giggles, he punctuates it with a friendly (if slightly too hard) smack on Carlito's (injured) shoulder. Do not annoy Batista!
  • Smooth Segue: So Batista keeps on going and gets to the Room of Random Number Generating. There, Teddy and Bischoff are bickering over the JBL title win. Eric's saying that SD! sucks since they had like 10 guys all out there screwing with the match. Teddy can't really argue that, but says it's how things go sometimes. Eric says, "Not on RAW," and declares that in HIS World Title Match, there will be no outside interference and that Evolution is barred from ringside. Batista, who has completed his number picking in the background (and is the first to do so without making an ass out of himself with the Useless Divas), can't help over-hearing the conversation, and perks up at this. Bischoff, indeed, confirms that this ruling is final when Batista asks. The only thing that's NOT final is who tells HHH. Does Batista want to do it, or does Bischoff have to do it? Batista says, "No, that's OK, I'll do it." But he says it with a little ambiguous Mona Lisa Smile. Is he HAPPY about this? 
  • #1 In Hopefully a Series of Many: in keeping with the "WrestleMania Goes Hollywood" theme, WWE produced an ad for WM21 that is a "Forrest Gump" parody. With, natch, Eugene in the titular role. I won't bother play-by-playing it, but it was funny shit, right up to William Regal popping in to proclaim, "Run, Eugene, Run."  And even better: you get the sense that this SHOULD be the start of a good dozen or so of these ads (kind of like what WWE did for the Olympics/SummerSlam theme), and for as ultimately pointless as they may be, my mind's already racing with all the cool possibilities for plugging wrestlers into parodies of signature movie moments. I've got one idea in particular that'd kick ass, but this recap is already running late, so I'll just say: think "Silence of the Lambs."
  • Triple H beat Randy Orton to retain the World Heavyweight Title. Out of the gate, this was standard back-and-forthy, punchy-kicky fare. Also standard: a good percentage of boos for Orton, and even one or two audible "Orton Sucks" chants. The fans even seemed to get a BIT behind HHH, as they counted along with him when he did the corner-mount-and-punch thing (and then booed when Orton countered it with an inverted atomic drop). But HHH eventually seized control at about the 5 minute mark, and started a concerted attack on Orton's left knee. This led up to HHH channeling his mentor with a Figure Four...  but after about two minutes, Orton was able to turn it over and reverse the pressure. And unfortunately, HHH tried to follow up by channeling his mentor yet again by going up to the top rope. It worked out for him exactly as well as it always works out for Flair.  Like the opener, once Orton escaped the Figure Four, the last half of the match was really pretty entertaining after a slow-ish start. They went back and forth and had plenty of near falls (some of them moderately convincing in a false finish kind of way). At about the 16 minute mark, Orton went for a DDT, but HHH reached out and grabbed the top rope to block it. Orton still crashed to the mat, though, and for some reason, was immediately rendered motionless. A replay showed nothing out of the ordinary, really, but JR and King immediately started theorizing about a possible concussion. JR, in fact, wouldn't shut up for the rest of the match about the dazed, confused, and far away look in Orton's eyes...  failing to realize that's the look he has ALL the time. Cuz he's not too bright!  At least now, Orton will have an EXCUSE to be a little dumber than the average bear! HA!  Watch me make fun of the guy with the Serious Head Injury! Because I can!  Anyway, Orton, far away look and all, eventually does get to his feet, and staggers his way to a corner, where HHH tries to attack, and ends up getting two for the price of one: he nails Orton, and Orton sandwiches the ref. HHH kicks Orton once in the head, causing a few more of those precious, rare IQ points to drain away, and then goes off to find his Trusty Sledgehammer.  But Orton, acting on instinct, avoids the sledge blow and instead sends HHH head-first into the ringpost.  HHH struggles into the ring, while Orton is also moving VERY..... FUCKING.....  SLOWLY.... but Orton spies the dropped sledge, and decides he might like to use it. But he's moving TOO slowly. HHH is able to put an end to the attempted sledge attack, and is about to redouble his effort to use the sledge against Orton. But then he sees the ref stirring, and decides to throw the sledge to ringside, unused. Instead, he just hoists up Randy's limp carcass and PEDIGREE TO ORTON~! Ref is more than happy to count to three.  [Another one right there in the 20 minute range. I have NO fricking idea where they go with the Orton/Head Injury thing, if in fact they go anywhere. It might have just been a one-night gimmick to explain HHH's ability to beat Orton because of a flukey bump. But here's the thing: if so, they COMPLETELY failed to get sympathy from the fans. And also: the match was laid out that HHH never once cheated during the ref bump. He TRIED to use the sledge, but never did. Evolution never came out. He just straight-up beat Randy Orton, fair and square. Which sends the subconscious message to fans, "HHH is just that damned good. Feud over." Which is also fine with me. Another one in the same area as the opener: very good, thanks to an excellent final half.]
  • Backstage: Teddy actually does congratulate Bischoff on a fine decision and a World Title Match devoid of interference. Hey, who says manners are dead? But Teddy also says Eric gave him an idea about interference on his own show... as if on cue, WWE Champ JBL walks in with his Cabinet, and all are drenched in champagne and celebrating. JBL rambles for a good 90 seconds about how unbeatable he is, all the drinking he's gonna do tonight, and all the hookers he's gonna fuck, all in that very hilarious over-the-top way of his. But Teddy's here to kill that buzz, if he can: he says JBL will have to defend his title against Big Show at the next PPV, one-on-one. But JBL's buzz remains intact, because he's beaten 2 and 3 men at a time in the last 2 months, he ain't gonna sweat Show all by himself. But then Teddy drops the other shoe: it'll be inside a barbed wire cage. Nobody gets in, nobody gets out. Now: JBL is not so happy. And Teddy gets bonus points for taking advantage of the much larger-than-most-PPVs audience to pimp his next brand-only PPV main event.  Clever mansard.
  • Elsewhere Backstage: Nunzio is walking, and apparently has his number to the Rumble match. Huh, that's odd, he never qualified. But I guess there's your answer to the 30th Mystery Man on the SD! side... NUNZIO~!  Except wait: Kurt Angle approaches, and basically says "Gimme, or else I break your ankle, cuz I am NOT gonna let that loss to JBL stand." Nunzio complies, and Angle's in the Rumble match.
  • Batista wins the 30-Man Royal Rumble Match. God I love the Rumble Match. God I hate recapping the Rumble Match. I'll try to hit the highlights folks, but this ain't straight-up play-by-play and you CERTAINLY won't get a canonical Order Of Entry And Eliminations out of this document. Sorry. #1 is Eddie Guerrero. #2 is Chris Benoit. And out of the chute, gOOdness shall be ours!  They lay it on us for 90 seconds, and then out at #3: it's the Tough Enough Toolbox! And methinks Eddie and Benoit will set aside their differences for a bit. Sho 'nuff. The beat on Puder for 90 more seconds, and then in at #4 it's Bob Holly, who says, "OK, back off fellas, if anybody's gonna beat the shit out of a Tough Enough kid, it's gonna be me." And they actually do a really funny-ass spot where all three guys take turns chopping the crap out of Puder's chest. Isn't rookie hazing cute? Eventually, Bob grows tired of this, and tosses Puder. I think Hurricane's out next, but basically, this is the part of the match where the ring started to fill up.
    If a guy like Holly or Hurricane or Kenzo came in, they usually didn't last long, because the ring was filling up with a pretty kick-ass roster of guys. Eddie and Benoit were in for the long haul. Rey was out, Jericho, Edge, Shelton, and Booker, too. It all built up to a Nice Moment, in which eight guys all realized "Hey, there's four of us from RAW and four from SD!," so they put personal difference aside and basically lined up to give us the "West Side Rumble" spot, just for real, instead of for laughs. Nice.  I think in addition to the 7 awesome guys I mentioned, Luther was the last guy in there to round it out for SD!.  Shortly there after, they gave us another moment, as Muhammad Hassan came out, and everybody in the ring pretty much just stopped. Hassan made a big show of entering the ring and praising Allah while everybody formed a circle around him. Uh oh, and the producers of "24" get blamed for mistreating Arab American characters?  I have a feeling Muhammad here's about to be subjected to an indignity that'll make the Terror Family look like they're taking a walk in the park.  Anyway: You know it's coming, and you know wrestling's Red State Mentality means the fans ate it up. Whoever was in the ring at that moment put aside heel/face or RAW/SD! alignments and just beat the piss out of Hassan. And they all gang up and toss Hassan out of the ring together (well, everybody but Rey and Eddie, who stood back, and Eddie, that bastard, cost me a half-point in the Royal Rumble game by doing so!).
    Then some more stuff happened, and more guys entered, kind of a few chumps in a row, it seemed like (Scotty 2 Hotty made an entrance, but crossed paths with an angry Hassan, and wound up having the shit beat out of him; we counted that as an elimination for Hassan). But for the most part, the weaker guys were out relatively quickly, allowing us to focus on the main seven guys.  Well, I guess it did get down to five of those guys, since both Shelton and Booker were eliminated in this stretch. Then Shawn Michaels entered around #20, and immediately went after Edge, but that was short circuited when Kurt Angle drew the immediate next number, and came into the ring en feugo. He suplexed anything that moved, until Shawn Michaels turn in the "Attack In Dumb Ninja Fashion" Rotation came up. Instead of just being suplexed, Michaels did a small piece of chain wrestling with Angle, and after a tantalizing series of reversals, hit the Sweet Chin Music and sent Angle flying out of the ring: total time, less than 90 seconds.  Oh, Kurt is NOT gonna be happy about this.  I will also mention one other "chump" elimination from shortly after the Angle spot: Paul London saved himself by landing on the apron after a backdrop by Snitsky, but Snitsky was having NONE of that noise, and he hit a running clothesline London, who flew off the apron and did that "inside-out" bump, landing on the floor face-first, BARELY clearing his head, otherwise he would have broken his damned neck. Amazing; they gave London the full EMT treatment on that, and the fans gave him a well-deserved "Holy Shit."
    We had a few big hitters entering in the last 10. Cena was maybe the first, and he made an impact by solo eliminating Viscera. When Mark Jindrak entered, he locked up with Shawn Michaels, and Kurt Angle actually re-emerged to help out his protege. Hell, he more than helped out, he pretty much single-handedly eliminated Michaels, and then kicked the crap out of him for a few moments at ringside (Michaels even bladed), so I think you can pencil those two in as dance partners at WM21, and you and pencil me in as There With Bells On. Coach was lurking throughout this last third of the match, too, picking his spots, but not getting eliminated. When Batista entered at #28, he immediately took out Snitsky, and went nose-to-nose with Kane for a moment (including an impressive powerbomb). But it was Cena who took out Kane in the end. Christian was #29, and basically stuck around just long enough to get press slammed into the waiting arms of the Lovely Miss Tomko by Batista. Flair, then was #30, and we had to start thinning the herd a bit.
    Batista and Flair worked together to eliminate Benoit. But then when Flair tried to take advantage of a distraction to sneak up on Batista, and while he was pleading with Batista that he didn't mean anything by it, Edge caught Flair from behind and eliminated him. Huh. That mean your Final Four was Rey, Cena, Batista, and Edge. Edge and Rey hooked it up, and Rey got eliminated by Edge in pretty short order. When Edge tried to interject himself into the Batista/Cena brawl, the two paused just long enough to double back-drop Edge out of the ring. So we're down to two: Batista vs. Cena. RAW vs. SD!. Tazz and JR (who called this match without their less talented partners) did a nice job sounding confident in their brand's guy, but respectful of the other's.
    The fans sound almost evenly split as Batista and Cena hook up. Cena gets control, and hoists Batista up into the F-U position, but can't dump him out over the top. Batista powers out, and sets up for the sit-out powerbomb. But Cena counters and Batista loses his balance, and BOTH men tumble over the top rope, and spill down to the floor simultaneously. GODDAMMIT, I HATE TIES! Obligatorially, the RAW refs raise Batista's hand while the SD! refs raise Cena's. Duh. And again, if one man had an advantage, crowd support-wise, I couldn't really hear it. Then again, I was too busy cursing the stupid-ass tie. But WAIT~!  Here comes Vince McMahon, and he don't look happy... but he probably should have taking the Power Racewalk to the ring a little slower, cuz he stumbled at the last second, and actually seemed like he might have hurt his right knee after he slid into the ring. So instead of standing there, he just sat on the mat and had the ref's circle around him. Howard Finkel announced that per the order of Vince McMahon, this match MUST CONTINUE....
    So they get Vince cleared out, and after less than 30 seconds of continuation, Batista hit the powerbomb and tossed Cena out over the top. He's your winner, and he's going to WrestleMania, where, unless he's convinced to jump brands, he'll face his boss, Triple H. Curiouser and Curiouser.  [Not quite as outstanding as last year's Rumble match, but definitely another excellent installment. Some outstanding action, some quality comedy spots, just amazingly well constructed and paced with the right stories being told... and best of all, they actually DID succeed in tricking me with the "false finish" of the double elimination. Of course, to convince me it was real, they had to make months upon months of shitty creative decisions so that I honestly believed this was another one, but that's neither here nor there...  the restart was exciting and satsifying to me, Batista's clean win is exactly what the doctor ordered, and although some might decry the lack of Evolution Drama, I'll say this: That's what RAW's there for tomorrow night. Tune in and enjoy. The Rumble was the hands-down match of the night, and I'll not lodge any significant complaint about it.]

So you give me a sweet-ass hour-long main event that I can't find fault in, and pack it on top of a preceding two hours that -- if I were a Star Rating type if assmunch -- I'd say three of the four matches were *** or better, and the other one was tolerable, and basically, you got yourself an excellent show.

Thumbs up from me.  And more thoughts/analysis/fall-out tomorrow in OO. See you then. 


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RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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