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Monday, 28 January 2008

Royal Rumble Live Notes

00.58am The Royal Rumble. My favourite Pay Per View all year, and I’m really excited about tonight’s event, which has a great looking card. As long as the finishes involved stand up to scrutiny, this could be the best WWE PPV for sometime.

01.02amWe’re at MSG, and I’m delighted that the stage is set up with the aisle in front of the camera, as it was in 2000. The NYC crowd in the Garden are almost always electric, and lest hope tonight is no example.

01.04amRic is out first, to a great reception, and I’d totally forgotten that Coach was the SD commentator (I haven;t seen Smackdown for a few weeks). Customary “Wooooo” and another great Flair promo to start the night. Making everything feel like a huge deal every time he has a match now is a very wise move, because you want to think that when Ric finally goes that it will have that special feel. It won’t be tonight though.

01.06amNice touch to get MVP to walk that aisle (sorry Ric) and have his music hit when Flair was still talking, generate more heat for him, as if he needed it. Ironically, the words of MVP’s theme song says “Can you hear the clock ticking?” and “I want you to remember me”. Prescient words?

01.15amRelatively short match, but an appropriate beginning to the show. Flair goes over clean, and in a match which was certainly more than adequate. Some nice spots, expcially whe Flair was counted out for the fall, but ironically it was referee, L’il Naitch, Charles Robinson who saw his mistake and noted Flair’s foot on the ropes.

Flair wins with a Figure 4 and continues the angle of his retirement. Who will be next? (I don’t mean Goldberg)

Vince gives Hornswaggle a pep talk backstage, telling the little bastard that he shouldn’t trust anyone. Certainly not his make up lady. Who keeps putting dirt on his face, dammit?

Back to ringside, and JR introduces us to Mike Adamle (that is his surname, I know it looks like half a name) who looks terrified, frankly, despite JR telling us that he is an experienced broadcaster. His job is to introduce the vignette about the Y2J/JBL rivalry. I think so, anyway, because all I can look at is his hair. Its about a foot high on his head. An all this in the very famous arena where, at Wrestlemania 10, Cy Spurling, of the Hair Club for men make Howard Finkel a wig. Spurling for the Hall of Fame celebrity wing 2008!

Jericho is on his way to the ring, and if you are watching this in Liechtenstein (I got my ‘Stein reference in before King this time) it is 2.22am. How fitting.

As we thought, this one ends in a DQ, with Jericho landing a chairshot on the head of JBL. Jericho bladed like a mad thing in this one, and this one had some believable offense from both guys. However, the actual wrestling was sub-standard, and because the outcome was fairly expected, the edge was lost form the match.

In fact, the biggest reaction came after the match when Jericho hung JBL with a cable, much like JBL did to Jericho a couple of weeks ago. I’d expect a strap match to come between these two next. The obvious plan is to go more than one PPV with this programme, and you get the feeling that a NO DQ stip will help them no end.

Santino gets a few seconds on camera, maybe more than he’ll get in the actual rumble match. He berates Ashley for trying to recruit Maria to her ‘boobie’ magazine. Haha, this is ironic because Ashley clearly does not have boobies, but instead has two fitted plastic contraptions on her chest.

We have the announcements for the World Title match, and I’d say that Edge is more over than Rey here. Split crowd, but like when I talk about Cena, at least people have an opinion. Michaels Cole is normally full of horse you-know-what, but this, as he said, really does feel like it has a ‘big match feel’.

That was nearly a classic. Very well thought out match, with the story being Rey having a hurt leg, and having to make a comeback with moves other than his usual. This led to a fantastic spot where Mysterio did a baseball slide to Edge on the outside, but slid head first and pulled Edge into a DDT. To me, the ending was both exceptional and annoying. I loved the final spot, where Edge speared a mid air Rey, who was bouncing over the ropes with a springboard attack. However, I think this ending was strong enough without them having to do a spot before this, where Rey had the 3 count over Edge, only for Vickie to pull the ref. I don’t think it was necessary to hurt Edge in that way. If he is supposed to be a legit contender to take on Taker, shouldn’t he be able to beat a one legged little fella?

Fun little segment backstage with Kennedy, Flair, Batista, HHH and HBK. Maybe Flair will put KK over at Mania?

Fantastic in-ring segment. Basically the premise was that Ashley asked Maria to do Playboy, which of course prompted Santino to emerge. Good lord that man is superb on the stick. He got cheered massively when he came out, only to have the whole arena booing his within seconds. Genius.

Orton v Hardy is next. Wait, no, its Jeff HARVEY apparently, as the new, experienced broadcaster gets the number one contender and the hottest guy in wrestling right now’s name wrong.

MSG pops big for Jeff, but I’m now fearing my own rule. I said in the preview that if this match was pre-Rumble then Orton would win. Post Rumble and I’d go for Hardy. Its pre, so as much as I hate it, I think Orton will go over.

Damn. I suppose it was always the most likely scenario, but even though I’d written how I thought that Orton would win, in my heart I still thought Jeff could do it. And although the ending was neat – RKO from the Twist of Fate – there was very little warning. I know that you want a bit of an impact at the end, but Jeff never even got a few false finishes to make his fight seem credible.
I’d suggest that Jeff will go very close in the Chamber then win the Money in the Bank. They have to give him a shot, surely, at some point.

Michael Buffer (WCW guy) is here to tell us the rules we all know, the rules of the Rumble – we probably know better than you, Michael. He has to read it off of a card.

A nice video aired to hype the Rumble.

Buffer does some Triple H gimmick infringement (I kid, I know he did it first) Man, I would have marked if Buffer has said “Suck it”.

The Rumble will be 90 seconds for entry this year, and now we know why. Undertaker has drawn number one, and takes 26 minutes to reach the ring.

So either the Deadman is going ‘coast to coast’, or my prediction will go up in smoke. And, oh my HBK is number two.

Santino is three, and to a big pop. The next big pop is HBK’s boot on his jaw. Taker throws him out. Still love you Santino.

02.58am – and that’s the last of the timechecks.....

Khali is four, and once again he is gone before the next guy comes in. Big “you can’t wrestle” chant for the big Punjabi block of wood, and Taker gets rid of him. HBK is sneaking up on Taker but getting nowhere.

Hardcore Holly is 5, and it seems the ring may begin to fill with midcarders?

Yep, here’s Morrison at 6. Michaels throws Morrison but the former Mr Nitro does a cool survival spot. HBK hits a top rope elbow, but looks like he has a busted mouth.

Big reaction for Tommy Dreamer as number 7. He might be the most over guy in the ring right now. I am not kidding.

Batista is 8 and beats on guys until facing up to Taker. Interrupted by Dreamer, who gets thrown out by the Animal. Big Dave with a spear to Morrison, and we go back to standard Rumble action.

Comedy at 9 – its Hornswaggle. And, to a good call from JR, shades of Jerry Lawler as l’il Horny hides under the ring. Batista and Taker going at it a lot here, HBK does another standard piece of athleticism, i.e going over the top and under the bottom.

Palumbo completes the first third of the match. Santino, Khali and Dreamer the only men out so far.

These 90 seconds feel quick. Predictably, Noble is out next to face up to Chuck, and gets quite a decent ‘Jamie Noble’ chant. It doesn’t last long, because he is gone within a minute.

In one corner Palumbo is beating down Undertaker, perhaps telling him that he is best at the biker gimmick. Which of course may or may not be true.

Great reaction for Punk, who lands a load of knees before getting levelled by Taker. Palumbo marginally survives on the apron before Punk knocks him down.

Cody Rhodes is number 13, and it means both he and Holly are in the ring. Cody helps Holly from a Taker beating, and actually gets Taker to sell........eventually. By the way, Michaels has done another clever piece of survival since I last reported on, but I can’t be bothered to do it every time, so just assume it keeps happening.

Umaga is 14, and is in brand new blood red tights. He lands a few stiff looking shots all over the place, and then Samoan Spikes Hardcore right out of there. Beatdown for Batista by Umaga, before UT breaks it up.

Snitsky at 15 as HBK continues to fly around the place like he is on a pneumatic bungee rope. Cody does a nice spot trying to eliminate Snitsky quickly, with both of them going over the top but holding on. JR compares Morrison to Michaels, and in fairness Morrison has looked good so far.

The Miz, complete with “X-Pac heat” goes right for Punk. Undertaker and Umaga are spending a lot of time matched up at this point – remember that this feud has been talked of for a while.

Can’t believe we are up to 17 already, and its Shelton. Massiev vertical leap to the top rope to knock both Miz and Morrison down. I don’t know what they were doing up there, I guess fighting each other.

However, despite Shelton being a likely candidate for going a long time, he is superkicked out by HBK. I guess there is some stopping him.

From a superkick to a superfly? 18 is.......Jimmy Snuka? Ok, the husk or the corpse of the Superfly anyway. He gets a few shots in, and has already lasted longer than Shelton. What’s the point of that?

Huge pop for number 19 (including me) as Piper is next. A nostalgia section, perhaps. Everyone has stopped to see Piper and Snuka get it on. Piper hasn’t brought a coconut to hit Snuka with.

Party pooper time. As everyone gets back into it, Kane is next, and dumps both Piper and Snuka. Massive chokeslam for Miz. Seriously, that was fantastic to see Roddy back. Hopefully his health issues are also eliminated.

Taker teases a chokeslam for Kane but goes after HBK the spider monkey instead. Carlito is 21, and has some nice interaction with Morrison and CM Punk.

22, wow this is going quick, is Mick Foley. Notables still to come are Triple H, Ken Kennedy, Big Daddy V, Mark Henry and Finlay. There are literally bodies flying everywhere, and it should be pointed out that although #2 Michaels is flying everywhere, Taker hasn’t looked like being threatened.

23 is Mr Kennedy, to a big reaction and chant. I don’t care what he says in interviews that make him look an idiot, I love Kennedy. I still say he is the next Steve Austin. He eats a chokeslam pretty quickly here though.

Taker clatters Umaga and Snitsky, and then HBK and Morrison. Second wind for Taker.

Speaking of seconds, here is a man who likes to go back for seconds, Big Daddy V.

And as he arrives, the complexion of the match changes. Taker throws Snitsky, is blindsided by a Michaels superkick which eliminates the Deadman, but Kennedy gets rid of HBK.

Taker takes out frustration on Snitsky outside with a legdrop on the table......apparently, because it wasn’t shown on TV.

Mark Henry is next, and as Miz is hanging over the ropes, Hornswaggle emerges to pull Miz out. He then dives back under the ring, and we then get a replay of Taker’s leg drop on Snitsky.

If you believed that ECW was an equal brand, forget it now because Chavo is 26. So a world champion wants to win a match to get a word title shot.

Morrison is out, and as Hornswaggle tries to pull another one out, Mark Henry pulls him in. Big V and Henry look ready to squash Horny, but Finlay comes in with shillelagh to pound them. The two boys in green leave, but haven’t been eliminated.

JR now tells us that Finlay is DQ-ed for jumping the gun. Don’t know about Hornswaggle. Burke is 28, so Triple H is still to come, and I guess Finlay was 27, because we’ve jumped a number. So much for lucky 27 this year.

Triple H is 29, so minimal workload for him, but there are a lot of midcarders to squash. Gone is Cody first of all. Gone is Big Titty V. Triple H and Foley hook up, and Trips throws him out, straight into Burke who gets taken out in the melee. Batista got a spike from Umaga a few minutes ago and is still on the floor. I also missed CM Punk getting eliminated.

Number 30 is...........John Cena!! Everyone is stood back and watching, as Trips stands mid ring. Still mixed reaction for Cena, but its getting more positive as he throws out Chavo, Carlito and Henry.

Cena nd Trips get it on with Trips hitting a spine buster. Umaga, Kane, Kennedy and Batista are the only ones left. Except Hornswaggle I guess. Good god.

Batista eliminates Kennedy and Umaga, then Batista and Triple H throw Kane out. Fast eliminations, and its Cena, Triple H and Batista remaining.

If anything, I think the crowd is behind Cena. They are certainly rabid for the staredown. Each man does their ‘taunt’, and Triple H’s crotch gets the biggest cheer. Shut up, I meant a DX crotch chop.

This now resembles a triple threat, with Batista getting the upper hand. He Spinebusters Cena then counters a pedigree into one as well.

Cena backdrops out of a powerbomb and Triple H clotheslines Batista out.

Cena and Triple H. Wow I never saw this coming. This really is awesome. Nice spot as Trips points to the Mania sign in the arena. This is superb stuff but I’m terrified that they are going to do something with Hornswaggle.

Fistfight ensues and the crowd are behind the Game, firmly. Cena does a 5-knuckle, and I think JR called it as being like Van Hammer???? Each man counters the other’s finisher and we get a double clothesline. Both men down.

Trips runs at Cena on the tropes, but Cena gets his feet up. Cena tries to FU Trips out of the ring, but counter and a DDT by The Game.

Game puts Cena on the shoulder and tries to haul Cena out. Cena escapes and looks for the FU again. Triple H escapes but Cena gathers him up again. FU to the outside. Cena wins the Rumble.


I can’t believe I just typed that.

Fabulous Rumble match. Magnificently booked throughout, and if I have any gripes it’s that a few people were made to look very average indeed (Kennedy didn’t do much, Shelton lasted about 30 seconds, Chavo eliminated Punk) but generally fantastic.

The undercard of this PPV was a big letdown, but the main attraction was terrific. The Undertaker and Michaels elimination spot was handled very well indeed. The legends face off was pretty cool, and the crowd was ultra hot. In one way you’d like to have more than one Rumble a year, but it would lessen the impact. It truly is a great event.

Now if the WWE can just learn to stop booking the general storylines so bloody predictably we could be on the way back. The talent IS there. There are a lot of people over as well.

Now that people are back fit after injuries, look at the roster. Triple H, Edge, Orton, Cena, Batista, Taker, HBK, Kennedy, Umaga, Punk, Rey, Flair, MVP, Hardy. All are over, most are talented.

I’m only giving this PPV 7 out of 10 because I thought for nearly two hours that it was pretty poor. The Rumble match saved it.

I’m really looking forward to Raw, and will try to do a live recap of it if I can for you.

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