Every year, the thirty man over-the-top-rope battle royal known as the Royal Rumble kicks off the Road to WrestleMania. This year, the WWE changed it up as 40 men did battle for a shot at the world title. But that wasn’t the only match on the card as three titles were on the line earlier in the night. Find out how well the biggest Rumble in history and the rest of the action played out after the jump.
World Heavyweight Title Match – Edge defeats Dolph Ziggler
We’re underway with a World Title match right out of the gate. I would have figured that there would have been a mid-card title to open with but it looks like everyone is in the Rumble so we’re going to have few matches. The big story heading into the match was that Acting SmackDown GM Vickie Guerrero banned Edge from using the spear in the match under penalty of being stripped of the title. Conveniently enough, Vickie’s boyfriend is Dolph Ziggler. Classic heel tactics.
The early part of this match was controlled by Edge but a slow re-entry into the ring allowed Ziggler to take control with a kick as Edge climbed back through the ropes. From there, Ziggler worked over Edge’s neck. There were a few near falls for both men but for the most part, the fans really came alive for Ziggler’s near falls. The story built it so everyone thought that Dolph was likely to walk away with the title. The finish came when the ref was knocked down while Edge was locked into the sleeper. That allowed Edge to hit the Spear and the Unprettier for the win This was a good match but I don’t think it was the right match. You want to get the crowd going with the first match of the night. I think it was the right pace for a title match but too slow to open a pay-per-view.
WWE Title Match – The Miz defeats Randy Orton
There was a big reaction for Orton but nothing for Miz. It’s disappointing because he’s actually gotten some attention as champ which is more than the WWE got with Cena or Orton holding the strap. Orton got the upper hand early but Miz’s charge Alex Reilly helped him turn the tables quickly. A couple of times, Orton would hit a big move or counter out of a hold but Miz would squash the comeback quickly. Almost too quickly for the unnaturally quiet crowd. The finish came when Orton hit his suspension DDT on The Miz which prompted the Nexus to come out from the back. With the ref distracted, Nexus leader CM Punk hit the Go To Sleep on Orton and through Miz on top for the pin. This match moved at a much smoother and quicker pace than the opener. I don’t like finishes like this one at major pay-per-views but a finish with interference is better than not having a decisive finish. All in all, it was a good match but it wasn’t overly spectacular. The finish brings the mark down from the first match, though.
Divas Title Fatal Four-Way Match – Eve Torres defeats Natalya, Layla and Michelle McCool
This match was originally booked as Natalya against Layla and McCool in a handicap match. That changed when the anonymous Raw GM emailed in a change of orders to make it a fatal four-way. Out came Eve Torres and in came a fairly good idea of how this one was going to turn out. Layla and McCool took control early through strength in numbers and controlled most of the match. There was one cool spot early in the match when Natalya locked Eve and Layla into the sharpshooter at the same time one on top of the other. The finish came when Eve hit Layla with a moonsault for the three. On the other side of the ring, behind the ref, McCool rolled up Natalya for an unnoticed pin. I have a few problems with that finish. First, I wasn’t paying attention to the winning pin which takes away from Eve’s win. Second, not involving the defending champ in the finish also takes away from the new champ.
Royal Rumble Match – Alberto del Rio defeats 39 Other Wrestlers
For the first time, the Royal Rumble had 40 wrestlers in it. The first man out was CM Punk. Then the members of the Corre (the former members of the Nexus) came out to beat down Punk but Punk’s new Nexus stepped in an a brawl broke out. When order was restored, Daniel Bryan came out as entrant #2. There was a cool spot early when the #7 entrant was thrown from the ring by William Regal but caught the security barricade and was able to leap back to the ring in the most unique variation of “skin the cat” ever which was more of a Spider-man move. But after about #4, the ring started filling up with more and more wrestlers.
Then things changed when members of Punk’s Nexus started entering the match giving him a numbers advantage. With four members of the Nexus in the ring, they cleared house and then eliminated every new entrant until the Great Khali showed up and out-muscled the Nexus and even eliminated. Then another Nexus member showed up and out went Khali. And then the roof came off the building at #21 as Booker T showed up as a surprise entrant. He didn’t last long though as he was dumped from behind after flattening everyone else in the ring. And then in came John Cena who cleared the ring of all Nexus members including, eventually, Punk. Then Cena and midget wrestler Hornswoggle took control of the match by eliminating all comers.
The ring eventually started filling up again. The first #31 was Dolph Ziggler who did sell his beating from his title match earlier in the show. At #32 was another surprise entrant: Diesel! Kevin Nash was back as Diesel and didn’t even pull his hammy while in the match. The crowd was really into this with a “Let’s go Diesel!” and even booed Rey Mysterio when he hit Diesel with the 619. This Rumble was really back-end loaded with most of the big names coming in the final 20 of entrants.
The final four came down to Cena, Orton, Alberto Del Rio, Wade Barrett. Cena was the first out thanks to The Miz running interference. Orton quickly dumped Barrett out but Del Rio flipped Orton out at the same time to win the match… Or so everyone thought. Santino was knocked out of the match earlier but went under the bottom rope and popped back up in the middle of the celebration. He hit Del Rio with The Cobra (a chop to the throat) but when he tried to dump him over the top rope, Del Rio reversed and won again.
The action never really slowed down in this one except when the Nexus was alone in the ring but it worked in the context of storylines. I don’t think that Del Rio was the right choice based on crowd reaction as they didn’t much care. More should have been done with the surprise entrants because the crowd really liked them. My biggest complaint is that I don’t think anyone new was really showcased in this one. Daniel Bryan and John Morrison had their moments but no previously unknown wrestler really got a moment to get over with the crowd. The Rumble is always a good opportunity to move people up the ladder but maybe we’ll have to wait until WrestleMania’s Money in the Bank ladder match. At least this match was a fun hour. That’s all you can ask for in the end.
When I look back on this pay-per-view, I almost want to say there wasn’t much in it. Three matches and the Rumble. The show would have been better served with a mid-card title match added to the card. Still, the title matches were good, not great though, and the women’s title mess was kept short. It was well booked but lacking that little something to get it to the next level.
Final Rating: 7/10