The 20th Royal Rumble occurred in San Antonio, Texas – the hometown of arguably WWE’s best wrestler ever: Shawn Michaels. His buddy Triple H was out with a leg injury (a torn quad for the second time), so Michaels went into the match as a heavy favorite. The other favorite was The Undertaker, who had never won a Rumble match before.
The two favorites were two guys in their early 40s. That didn’t mean the younger guys had no chance. It was just one of those matches where you had the feeling that Shawn or Undertaker would get the win.
I can remember being excited about the John Cena match against Umaga because Umaga was built up so well and they had great chemistry together. Did I think Umaga would leave with the WWE Title? No, but I was happy for the guy getting a big push.
This was also the first Royal Rumble to feature three WWE brands because ECW began in the summer of 2006, so that meant there were superstars from Raw, Smackdown and ECW in this match.
This was written several years ago. I have added some thoughts in blue font because there’s always more to say.
WWE Royal Rumble
January 28, 2007
AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas
The typical great video package started the show. It highlighted the twenty years of past Royal Rumbles as well as the matches taking place on this show. There was a big pyro display in the arena, the WrestleMania 23 sign was in the building and the fans were ready to go.
The Raw announce team of Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler welcomed us to the show. The Smackdown announce team of Michael Cole and John “Bradshaw” Layfield were also at ringside and the ECW announce team of Joey Styles and Tazz was there too.
The MNM team of Johnny Nitro, Joey Mercury and the lovely Melina entered for the opening tag team match. Mercury had a protective mask on his face after the brutal facial injury he suffered at the Armageddon 2006 PPV (read my review here) one month earlier. Melina’s entrance is one of my favorites ever. The Hardy Boyz entered as the opponents with Jeff as the Intercontinental Champion at this point. Two weeks earlier on Smackdown, MNM gave Matt Hardy a double DDT on the cement with the storyline being that Matt had a dislocated jaw.
The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy) vs. MNM (Johnny Nitro and Joey Mercury) w/Melina
Pre-match notes: The Hardys were the faces while MNM were heels. Jeff was the IC Champion from Raw, Nitro was a Raw guy too while Matt and Joey were Smackdown guys.
Nitro and Mercury took control as they worked over Matt for about a minute. Jeff tagged in with a dropkick on Mercury for a two count. Mercury managed to drive Jeff into the heel corner leading to Nitro tagging in. Jeff hit a double leg drop to the inner thighs of Nitro to put him down. Matt tagged in for some tandem offense taking down Nitro and Matt hit a suplex. Matt with a neckbreaker for two. Nitro with a punch to Matt’s jaw, so Matt went down since he was selling the jaw injury going into the match. Melina did her primal scream at ringside while Mercury punched Matt. The heels continued working over Matt by attacking his injured jaw. Nitro and Mercury drove Matt’s face into their knees followed by Mercury hitting a big clothesline. Mercury with a chinlock, then he slammed Matt down and Mercury took way too long on the turnbuckle, so Matt moved to avoid a dive. Jeff tagged in against Nitro with a forearm followed by a front suplex for two. Jeff hit the Whisper in the Wind attack off the top onto Nitro for a two count because Mercury broke up the pin. Matt with a belly to back suplex on Mercury. The Hardys hit a double team suplex on Morrison. The Hardys each went up top, Jeff went for a splash, Nitro got the knees up to block while Matt hit a leg drop on the throat of Nitro. Mercury tagged back in as Jeff became the face in peril. JR called Mercury “Nitro” a few times so he got them confused for some reason. Nitro tagged in with a running knee to the ribs of Jeff since they working over Jeff’s ribs at this point in the match. Jeff managed to get a cradle on Mercury for two, which was followed by Mercury punching Jeff in the ribs repeatedly. MNM hit a double team slam on their knees where they worked over Jeff’s ribs some more. Morrison prevented Jeff from tagging out by grabbing a headlock, Jeff did a back body drop, Mercury distracted the referee and the referee never saw to Matt. That’s a classic heel tag team move. Nitro tried a running attack, but Jeff shoved Mercury into Nitro to knock both heels down. Jeff hit a mule kick leading to Matt getting the hot tag.
Matt was on fire with punches, a back body drop to Nitro and an elbow drop to Mercury. Matt with a running clothesline, then a bulldog/clothesline combo on both heels for a two count that the fans bought as a nearfall. Matt jumped off the middle ropes with an elbow to the back of the head for two. Jeff saved Matt from a double team move. Jeff hit the Poetry in Motion double team move, but then Jeff missed going after Nitro and Nitro got a rollup on Matt for two. Matt with the Side Effect slam on Nitro followed by the Twist of Fate, Mercury tackled Matt out of the ring, Jeff got the tag and Jeff hit the Swanton Bomb for the pinfall on Nitro for the victory at 15:27.
Winners by pinfall: The Hardy Boyz
Analysis: *** It was a pretty good tag team match from two of the best teams from this era. It was slow paced at times, but the finish was well done. They had multiple PPV matches around this time although I wouldn’t say any of those matches really stood out as being a special match that we’re going to remember forever. The main story of the match was Matt getting worked over for the first part of them, then Jeff was isolated, hot tag for Matt and then they went to the finish soon after that. They got a few good nearfalls in there at the end that the crowd was really into it and Jeff getting the win made sense to put an end to this rivalry.
(A fine choice for an opener since the Hardys were so popular while MNM were a great team as well. Nice job of setting up the finish of this match too.)
After the match, the Hardys were in the ring telling MNM that it was over while MNM was outside the ring.
They went backstage where Raw’s representative Jonathon Coachman was there along with Smackdown’s GM Teddy Long. Kelly Kelly was there with Edge showing up and she introduced herself as an exhibitionist and the Royal Rumble tumbler (where the wrestlers picked their numbers for the match). Edge mocked her saying that sounds like a tough job and he asked if her name is Kelly Kelly so that she wouldn’t forget her last name. Kelly said at least that it is his real name. Randy Orton showed up to get in the face of his fellow Tag Team Champion and they opened their balls up with the paper on them. Edge: “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” Funny line. King Booker walked in with Queen Sharmell to deliver his “tell me you didn’t just say that” line.
Joey Styles and Tazz talked about this as a historic night because the ECW Title was on the line at the Royal Rumble for the first time.
A video package aired setting up ECW Champion Bobby Lashley defending the title against Test. Lashley won the title at the awful December to Dismember PPV and then Test stepped up as the first challenger. Test guaranteed that he would become the ECW Champion after he knocked down Lashley with the title. Heels lie.
Test entered looking about as big as he was during his entire career. Test wrestled in black plants for most of his career, but at this point, he was in white and red trunks. Lashley was also very muscular as usual and he still is to this day.
ECW Championship: Bobby Lashley vs. Test
Pre-match notes: Lashley was the babyface champion that held the title for over one month at this point. Test was the heel challenger.
Test put his hand in Lashley’s face to disrespect him, so Lashley tackled him. Test sent Lashley into the middle rope followed by an elbow smash to the face. Lashley came back with a T-Bone suplex with Taz saying his favorite “popping the hips” phrase followed by Lashley hitting a delayed suplex that sent Test out of the ring. Lashley went after Test, who managed to shove Lashley’s upper body into the ring post to knock him down. Test followed that big move with an armbar while the crowd was silent. Test wrenched on the arm leading to a two count and another armbar from Test. Lashley fought back with forearms followed by a back body drop and a running clothesline. Lashley with two shoulder tackles, the crowd popped a bit and when Lashley tried a press slam, his arm was hurting and he dropped Test. The ref checked on Lashley while Test hit a running boot to the face for a two count. The leg lap by Test made it sound loud. Test went for a slam off the shoulders, Lashley with a belly to belly suplex and a clothesline that knocked Test out of the ring. The referee counted Test out of the ring, Test got back up at seven and instead of going back in the ring, Test walked away. That’s a countout victory for Lashley at 10:29. The fans booed that finish.
Winner by countout: Bobby Lashley
Analysis: * A bad match with an awful finish. The crowd wasn’t into it at all. Test wanted so badly to be champion, yet he walked out after a clothesline put him outside the ring? What a lame way to end the match. I know it’s done to get heat on the heel and continue the rivalry, but this is a PPV match that should have had a better finish. They probably should have just put Lashley over and then if you want to keep it going, have Test get in a cheap shot after the match. The way this was booked didn’t help either guy.
(It was just a match to give Lashley a win although it was a bad finish. Test was a decent midcard heel, but it wasn’t a particularly memorable match. Just a way to show that Lashley was a fighting babyface champion and to get an ECW match on the show.)
After the match, Lashley left the ring and hit a clothesline on Test. Lashley whipped Test into the turnbuckle and hit a running powerslam. Lashley stood tall with the title.
Analysis: That should have been the finish of the match. It would have been better than what they did in the match.
There was a scene in the trainer’s room where there was a doctor checking on John Cena’s health due to John’s injured ribs. Vince McMahon walked in the room and Cena told him he was fine. McMahon said he didn’t think so. McMahon told Cena that he can’t see him…as the WWE champion and the Last Man Standing. McMahon wished Cena good luck and left.
The Smackdown announcers took over again with JBL saying “once again Smackdown is headlining a pay-per-view.” How are they headlining a pay-per-view by having a match at the end of a first hour of a three-hour show? Weird.
A video package aired to set up Batista defending the World Title against Ken Kennedy. Kennedy won a Beat the Clock challenge to earn the title shot. Kennedy mentioned that he has beaten six World Champions and they showed their images: Rey Mysterio, King Booker, Chris Benoit, The Undertaker, Kane and Batista. I believe some of those wins were not by pinfall, but they were still wins.
Mr. (Ken) Kennedy made his entrance leading to a pre-match promo. Kennedy said he’s going to be the next World Heavyweight Champion while doing his “Mr. Kennedy…Kennedy” line that he loved to do before matches. Batista got a good ovation for his entrance as the babyface World Heavyweight Champion.
World Heavyweight Championship: Batista vs. Mr. (Ken) Kennedy
Pre-match notes: Batista was the World Heavyweight Champion top babyface on the Smackdown brand. Mr. Kennedy was a heel on the rise that had a lot of momentum at this point.
There was an eye rake by Kennedy, but then Batista came back with a boot to the face followed by a suplex. Kennedy left the ring, so Batista went after him and Kennedy drove Batista into the steel steps with Batista selling a left leg injury. When they got back in the ring, Kennedy dropkicked the left leg. Kennedy worked over the left leg with punches along with a knee drop. Kennedy jumped onto the left leg leading to a two count. Kennedy turned Batista over in a submission hold to work over the leg. Kennedy with a running knee to the face while Batista was against the ropes. Kennedy was bleeding from the nose. Kennedy slapped on the half crab submission on the left leg. Batista managed to get cradle for two. Kennedy came back with a forearm to the back of the leg. Kennedy ran the ropes leading to Batista hitting a spinebuster, which led to Batista selling the left knee again. Batista with a clothesline, back body drop, corner clothesline and a body slam. Batista had Kennedy on the shoulders leading to the rolling senton that Kennedy used. Batista signalled for his Batista Bomb finish, but Kennedy punched the knee, Kennedy shoved Batista into the referee, a low blow from Kennedy and a neckbreaker from Kennedy. That led to a cover by Kennedy and a cover for about eight as JBL counted, but there was no referee. JBL complained about it. Kennedy with a DDT, referee Nick Patrick recovered and Kennedy covered for a two count. Some male fans in the crowd were chanting “Kennedy” while other fans were booing that. Kennedy to the middle ropes, he jumped off and Batista took him down with a clothesline. Batista picked him up, Kennedy tried to fight it off, but Batista powered through with the Batista Bomb leading to the pinfall win at 10:29.
Winner by pinfall: Batista
Analysis: **1/4 This was okay with Batista getting the win as expected with Kennedy getting plenty of offense after he worked over the left leg relentlessly. Batista did nice job of selling the left leg during the match, which is a good story to tell since he’s a bigger guy and the champion, so it makes Batista look sympathetic since he was dealing with an injury. There was also some controversy since Kennedy did have the pinfall to win the match, but the referee was knocked down and unable to count.
(It was a simple match to give Batista win just like Lashley earlier in the show. Kennedy was a heel on the rise, but it was obvious he wasn’t ready to win the title yet.)
After the match, Batista was selling the left knee injury. JBL was ranting about how Kennedy was screwed out of the victory. They replayed that moment with JBL saying the match should have been over and Kennedy should have won. Batista celebrated with the title as his championship reign continued.
It was back to the backstage area to check on the Royal Rumble match participants. Kevin Thorn and Ariel were at the tumbler doing their vampire schtick. I liked her. Little Bastard aka Hornswoggle! They gave him a chair to pick his number and then he bites Coach. Khali walked in for that visual of the giant with the little person. Khali picked three balls, Coach told him he can only have one so he tosses two of them down. Kelly picks them up and says they are the biggest balls she’s ever held in her hand. There’s Ron Simmons for the “DAMN” line. Some of that was funny.
(I’m sure Vince thought Kelly’s line was hilarious, so that’s what matters…to Vince.)
The band Saliva was at ringside because they had the “Ladies and Gentlemen” theme song for WrestleMania 23.
There was a video package for the John Cena vs. Umaga match that was a rematch from the New Year’s Revolution pay-per-view. Cena beat Umaga with a rollup. Umaga’s manager Armando Alejandro Estrada told Cena this time he can’t win on a fluke because it’s going to be a Last Man Standing match.
Umaga made his entrance as the challenger with his manager/handler Armando Alejandro Estrada joining him. The Umaga character didn’t speak English at this point even though he obviously knew English well. He just yelled angrily to put him over as a crazy heel character. John Cena got a big pop as he entered with a serious look on his face.
Analysis: I can remember reading around this time that Cena was close friends with Umaga and likely played a part in Umaga getting this push because Cena knew he needed heels to work with. That’s not taking anything away from Umaga, who was a very good performer. I’m just saying they were close friends.
Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Umaga (w/Armando Alejandro Estrada)
Pre-match notes: John Cena was the babyface champion while Umaga was a heel. Cena had his ribs taped up to sell a previous attack from Umaga.
The bell rang and they had a staredown that led to punches from Cena. Jawbreaker from Cena, but then Umaga punched Cena in the ribs to take control with Cena bumping to the floor. Umaga whipped Cena shoulder first into the steel steps with referee Mike Chioda counting, but Cena got back up. Umaga kept on punching the ribs of Cena, which led to John going back in the ring and Umaga continued the attack with punches to the ribs. Umaga charged, Cena got the feet up and then Umaga hit a clothesline that Cena sold well with that leading to a seven count. Umaga with a hard body slam. Umaga tossed the top half of the steel steps in the ring. Cena drove Umaga’s neck into the top rope and sent him to the floor. Cena picked up the steel steps and whipped them over the top out to the floor right into Umaga’s head. That was a cool spot. That got a count of six. Cena charged at Umaga in the ring, but Umaga decked him with a spinning heel kick. Bearhug time for Umaga, which led to a belly to belly suplex. Umaga brought the bottom half of the steel steps into the ring. The crowd wanted tables as Umaga set up the steel steps against the turnbuckle. Umaga set up Cena against the steps in a seated position, Umaga charged with the running hip attack, but Cena moved and Umaga went back first into the steps. The kids were screaming in joy in the crowd as Cena picked up the steps and hit Umaga with them. Cena went up top, Umaga caught him and Umaga hit him with a huge tilt-a-whirl sidewalk slam. Umaga jumped onto the ribs of Cena twice, then Cena got the knees up for a low blow and Cena hit a bulldog into the steps. Cena with a tilt a whirl back suplex/slam on the steel steps. Nasty. With Umaga laying on the steps, Cena hit the five knuckle shuffle first drop. Cena wanted the FU on the steel steps, but Cena collapsed with his head hitting the steps and Umaga landed on top of Cena, so the idea was that Cena took a lot of damage there. Cena came up bleeding, so he did a blade job while the camera was on Umaga.
Umaga worked over Cena with punches as blood was pouring from Cena’s head. Umaga with more punches as the referee counted Cena down for an eight count. There the dueling “Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks” chant at this point as Umaga hit him with chops, but Cena was hulking up. Cena with punches, then he ran the ropes and Umaga hit a Samoan Drop “with the velocity of a car crash” as JR put it. Umaga wanted the Samoan Spike, but Cena got his two hands up to block it, so Umaga connected with a headbutt. Cena set up Umaga upside down against the turnbuckle, Cena sat up to avoid a running charge and Cena hit an impressive leg drop to the back of the head. That looked good. Cena whipped Umaga into the ring post. Cena hit Umaga in the head with a TV monitor that sounded really loud because Cena really hit the ring post with the monitor. Umaga was up at a seven count, so Cena hit him with a forearm to the back to knock him out of the ring. Umaga caught Cena and drove him back first into the ring post. They were over by the the announce tables, all three of them and they took the cover off all of them. With Cena laying on his stomach on the ECW announce table, Umaga ran across the Raw and Smackdown tables, jumped and Cena moved, which sent Umaga crashing through the table. Oh shit! The referee got to a nine count…but Umaga got up somehow. The crowd thought that was it. What a great spot.
Umaga with a punch to the ribs as Estrada unhooked the entire top rope as it came loose and Umaga got a hold of the metal that was part of the turnbuckle. Cena turned around, Cena ducked and Cena hit Umaga with a giant FU. Cena punched Estrada down. Cena hit Umaga wit the metal then Cena locked in the STFU finisher using the ropes to choke him out. This was an awesome looking spot with Cena yelling while blood was pouring down his head. The crowd was chanting for Cena while Umaga passed out from the choking. Umaga got back a bit, so Cena put the hold on him again while using the ropes to choke Umaga down to the mat. Umaga was laying face first on the mat. Chioda’s count was up to six, seven, eight, nine and there’s the ten as the crowd cheered wildly for Cena. Cena retained the WWE Title at 23:09.
Winner: John Cena
Analysis: **** This was an awesome match that felt like a fight from the moment the bell rang. I remember being really impressed by this and felt that it elevated Umaga even in defeat. I’m sure some people felt like Umaga should win, but I didn’t expect that to happen. This was a great performance from Cena as the babyface champion that showed a lot of heart by coming back from everything Umaga threw at him and finding a way to win. By allowing them to use weapons it made the work easier for both guys and they were able to put on a very competitive title match. Considering how bad the other title matches were it was really nice to see a very good match here. It also protects Umaga by not having him get pinned.
(I liked this match a lot. It was one of Cena’s best matches during this period of his career. Umaga was a great opponent because he was able to look dominant on offense while also willing to sell Cena’s offense in a believable way. When Cena eventually found a way to win by choking out Umaga, it was believable because it looked like Cena wore the big man down and found a creative way to win the match.)
They showed replays of Cena’s win with JR putting over Cena for a “Herculean effort” that led to his victory. Cena was a bloody mess as he left with the WWE Title with most of the crowd cheering him.
Sandman was backstage picking a number. Sandman opened a beer, then he caned himself and he left. Ric Flair was the last man to pick a number out of the tumbler. Kelly and the other ECW dancers (Layla and Brooke) danced with Flair, he said “Woo” and that was it.
There was a video package highlighting past Rumble matches while focusing on current stars as well. It was very good as usual.
30-Man Royal Rumble Match
The announcers for the match are Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield as a heel and Jerry Lawler. The intervals are 90 seconds, or so they say.
The #1 entrant is Ric Flair, #2 is Finlay. I may be wrong, but these two are probably the oldest guys in the match. Finlay knocked down Flair with a shoulder tackle. Flair came back with chops and Finlay hit a back body drop. Flair avoided an elimination attempt with an eye rake. In at #3 is Kenny “Don’t call me Lenny” Dykstra. Lenny Dykstra was a baseball player – google it, kids. There’s the youngest guy in the match that was just 20 years old. Flair worked over Dykstra with repeated chops to the chest. Finlay nearly tossed Dykstra out, but Kenny held on. The early stages are always slow. It’s Matt Hardy at #4 in his sixth Rumble match according to Cole. Hardy hit a Side Effect on Dykstra. Dykstra’s close to being eliminated, but he hangs on and not much happens for the next minute. Edge is #5 and he immediately comes in to spear Flair and Finlay. Edge was an established main event level heel. Hardy gave Edge a Twist of Fate and then Kenny takes out Matt with a clothesline. Flair’s out on the floor through the bottom rope and he brings in two chairs. That doesn’t work as Dykstra kicked a chair out. Edge tosses Flair out. Dykstra celebrates with Edge, so Edge tosses Dykstra out. Kenny was shocked by that.
Tommy Dreamer from ECW is #6. A mild ECW chant starts, which explains how the fans feel about ECW by this point. Dreamer went after Edge with punches followed by a running dropkick against the turnbuckle. Finlay knocked down Hardy and hit a clothesline on Dreamer. Edge avoided an elimination from Matt while Dreamer and Finlay killed some time in the other corner. The #7 man in the match is ECW’s Sabu, who takes out a table and places it outside the ring because he wants to go through it later. Sabu goes for Dreamer and they immediately mess up a DDT spot. That’s Sabu for ya. The #8 guy is Gregory Helms complete with the odd theme music where he says his own name at the start of it. Could you imagine if everybody had music like that? Horrible idea. Helms goes after Hardy since they had a rivalry going. Sabu nearly got rid of Finlay, who managed to hang on. The six guys all pair off in corners of the ring, which leads me to think that a big guy’s coming in soon to clear the ring. The #9 entrant is Shelton Benjamin, who is a favorite of mine. Too bad he’s the most underused guy on the roster. Benjamin tried to toss out Dreamer and Hardy, but they were able to hang on. There’s the big guy I was talking about since Kane (no mask in 2007) is the #10 man. Kane with a boot to Dreamer, punches for several guys, huge powerslam on Helms, Kane with a Chokeslam on Edge and there goes Dreamer landing on his head like always because he’s nuts. Sabu charges at Kane, Kane puts him over the top but he’s on the apron. Kane gave Sabu a Chokeslam through the table. Sabu is gone after taking that big bump.
It’s CM Punk at #11 and he was another favorite of mine. Punk was an ECW guy at this point and I wasn’t too thrilled about that at this point in his career. Things would get better, of course. Punk tried to get rid of Edge, which led to nothing. Punk held on when Finlay tried to get rid of him. The man at #12 is King Booker with Sharmell and he quickly eliminates Helms leaving seven guys in the ring. Booker worked over Punk with punches. In at #13 is Super Crazy, who JBL joked that he worked as his doorman in New York. Crazy didn’t do much when he got in there. Booker nearly eliminated his ally Finlay, but Finlay held on. Here comes Jeff Hardy, the Intercontinental Champion, at #14 without his usual dance and he got a nice pop from the crowd The Hardys work together on a bunch of people with a double suplex on Finlay, double elbow drop on Edge and a spinning slam on Crazy. The Hardys hit the Poetry in Motion double team move on Kane. The man at #15 is the Sandman, who was probably drunk before he got down to the ring. Sandman drank a beer as he made his entrance through the crowd. Sandman canes both Hardys and Super Crazy, but Booker comes over and tosses Sandman over the ropes. Sandman was in the match for about 13 seconds. Can we give him the Bushwhacker award for that effort? Sure we can.
The #16 man is Randy Orton, who was a top heel on Raw. Orton and Edge (the World Tag Team Champions), known as Rated RKO, quickly eliminate Super Crazy together. Orton eliminates Matt and Edge eliminates Jeff at the same time. JBL mentions how a year earlier if Orton survived a hurricanrana he’d have gone to WrestleMania last year instead of Mysterio, so you wouldn’t have had Mysterio’s Cinderella story. Orton went there anyway in the same World Title match as Mysterio, so that’s not the greatest point in the world. Chris Benoit, the US Champion, is #17 and he’s as good as anybody at being on fire with a lot of fast-paced offense. Benoit with German suplexes on Finlay, Booker and Benjamin. I always wanted to see a Punk vs. Benoit feud. We never got it. It’s Rob Van Dam at #18 as JBL mentions that six former World Champions are in the ring. After RVD hit Booker with a kick, there goes Booker at the hands of Kane. Booker comes back in, hits the scissors kick on Kane and then clotheslines him over the top to eliminate Kane. I guess they need to have some storylines for No Way Out and there was a Booker vs. Kane match at that show. The man at #19 is Viscera as Booker and Kane were in a fight at ringside that was broken up. There wasn’t much going on as the eight guys in the ring paired off in the corner. It’s time for Johnny Nitro to come in as #20. RVD avoided elimination after Nitro tried to get rid of him. Orton and Edge worked together as they tried to get rid of Nitro. Benjamin was holding on the bottom rope as both of his feet are barely off the floor.
There’s Kevin Thorn at #21 to make the ring even more full. We’ve hit the 30-minute mark now. They replayed the Benjamin spot to show how awesome he is. Viscera tried to get rid of RVD, but that failed and RVD tried two clotheslines on Vis and then Vis came back with a clothesline. The #22 guy is Hardcore Holly to make it 11 guys in the ring now. JBL says Holly’s from LA – Lower Alabama. Everybody’s ganging up to take Viscera out, but they were unable to get rid of him. The biggest pop of the match comes for San Antonio’s own Shawn Michaels at #23, who enters to the Degeneration X music instead of his own music. There’s a Thesz Press! Stone Cold! No, it’s still HBK taking down Finlay. There goes Finlay (after 32 minutes) with a clothesline courtesy of HBK. Michaels superkicks Viscera, then everybody tosses the fat man out. There was a big back body drop for Benjamin from Michaels to send Shelton out of there. The #24 man is Chris Masters. Masters didn’t do much other than basic stuff against the turnbuckle. There goes Johnny Nitro courtesy of Benoit when Nitro was on the turnbuckle and Benoit knocked him out of the ring. Rated RKO’s Edge and Orton work on Michaels together. Oooooh Chavo, here’s Chavo Guerrero as #25 in the match. I like that song. Chavo with uppercuts on Masters and he didn’t do that much. Benoit eliminates Thorn from the match with just five more guys left to enter the match.
In at #26 is MVP, who can finally wrestle in his regular outfit. I guess the burns are okay now. It was an Inferno Match that he lost. MVP had a huge upside going into this match. Masters gets eliminated by a dropkick from RVD. Cole mentions RVD has made the final six in all of his Rumble appearances. Stop calling people extremists! It sounds horrible. The #27 man is Carlito as Cole notes that four men have won from that number in the past, more than any other number. Carlito went after a bunch of different people although he really didn’t do much other than throwing punches. Michaels held on when RVD tried to eliminate him. There are 11 guys in there. Two of the final three are Khali and Undertaker, so they are filling up for the big guys to throw a lot of people out. The crowd goes nuts as HBK tries to hang on again. He’s by far the most over guy in this match. The man at #28 is The Great Khali while the Khali cam kicks in shooting from his feet up to his chest. LOOK AT HIS SIZE! Vince is having a joygasm backstage. Everybody in the ring stops to try to confront Khali. Of course they do it ninja style by going one at a time at the guy. Khali hit headbutts on a bunch of guys along with chops to the head with Orton and Michaels selling it really well. Khali chucks out Holly. It’s The Miz at #29 and he’s gone right away when Khali tossed him out in seven seconds. I bet $2,000 on him. No dinner for me tomorrow! (That’s an original joke from 2007. Four years later he was the WWE Champ!) Khali threw out four more guys – RVD, CM Punk, Carlito (chop to the head) and Chavo. There are five guys left: Michaels, MVP, Orton, Edge and Khali. Khali with a two handed Chokeslam on Michaels. The final entrant at #30 is The Undertaker and he got a huge pop from the crowd. Nobody has ever won at #30. There are just six men left. Everybody’s down in the ring there except for Khali as Undertaker punches away at him. The crowd is going nuts for this, cheering for every punch. Undertaker punches him against the ropes and hits a stiff clothesline to eliminate Khali, who had trouble bumping over the top, but he got it done. Five guys left now. Old school rope walk leading to the punch on MVP and MVP gets tossed by the Deadman.
The final four are Undertaker, Edge, Orton and Michaels. Taker hit a leaping clothesline on Edge. MVP gets a chair, Orton takes it from him and Orton drills Undertaker in the head with the chair. Orton turns his back to Edge, who goes to spear Orton, so Randy turns around to almost drill Edge with the chair. They argue. RKO on Michaels, who falls out to the floor under the bottom rope. Rated RKO go after Undertaker, who is busted open from the chair shot. Taker manages to overpower them, hitting all of his clotheslines. There’s a double clothesline. Snake eyes from Taker to Edge, then the big boot. Undertaker is working his ass off tonight. Edge spears Undertaker just as he was about to chokeslam Orton. Michaels is still on the floor. Sick chair shot by Edge on Undertaker to the head. Edge grabs another chair to set up Taker for the conchairto. Michaels back up, a back body drop by Michaels sends Orton out and Michaels hits a superkick to send Edge out! The crowd went wild for this. Michaels and Undertaker are left with each of them lying prone on the mat.
Undertaker sits up, Michaels kips up. What a cool spot and moment that was. The crowd is going nuts for all of this. Hell in a Cell #1 flashbacks! Typical big man/little guy spots here. Corner whip, HBK does his flip up to the top of the turnbuckle. Undertaker charges, Shawn ducks and the boot sends Taker over the top on the apron. Michaels with a punch, but Taker fights Shawn off as they both get back in. Neckbreaker by Michaels. The final two men are the biggest in the history of WWE, according to Cole. That’s arguable and disagreeable in a lot of ways, but at least in terms of longevity, they are certainly up there. Undertaker boots Shawn down. Taker goes to suplex him out, but Shawn grabs a headlock on the apron. Shawn goes up top, Undertaker follows and wants to toss him out to the floor, but that doesn’t work as Michaels punched him down. Shawn ends up hitting the elbow drop off the top. Superkick…no, Taker caught him. Chokeslam hit for Taker. Tombstone…no…Sweet Chin Music knocks the big guy down. Another prone on the mat spot. This is the longest final two man spot in the history of the Rumble, I’m pretty sure. Michaels goes for the superkick, but Undertaker ducks it and lifts Shawn over the top for the elimination. Undertaker wins the Royal Rumble for the first time in his career.
Winner: The Undertaker
The match ended at 56:18.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS about the Royal Rumble match
– I remember going into this Rumble not knowing what to really expect. They had advertised it as the most star-studded Rumble ever although I don’t think it can really compare to the star power that existed in the 2001 or 1992 Rumbles. They ended up delivering the goods, though. All aspects of it were booked well with Edge being the guy that lasts the longest that ends up falling short, Khali getting the typical big man spots and as I will say many times the best final two spots in the history of the match. All of it led to an exceptional match.
– You can’t talk about this match without talking about the ending sequence. It was just really cool, especially if you’re any kind of WWE historian considering how much Michaels and Undertaker have meant to the company. Neither guy is the draw that an Austin, Rock or Hogan were, but their longevity and loyalty to the company set them apart from all the rest. That’s why it was a cool moment when they were the last two in the match, lying there all alone. Their one on one showdown lasted about eight minutes, which is the longest of any final showdown in Rumble history. Either guy could have taken it. Even though the fans wanted Michaels to win it in his hometown it’s not like they made a bad choice in giving it to Undertaker.
– I’ve never been a huge Undertaker fan, but it’s not like I hate the guy either. When he’s in there with the right people, like a Michaels, he’s at his absolute best. I don’t like seeing him against the big clods like Khali or Henry. He’s much better with the smaller guys that bounce off him like pinballs. Watching the 8 minutes with Michaels was a preview of the WrestleMania matches they would have at WrestleManias 25 and 26.
– As for Michaels, he was performing at a really high level. I’m pretty sure he was my WWE Wrestler of the Year in 2005 (I didn’t have official awards), then he got hurt for much of 2006 and he looked amazing here to start 2007. I remember some were bitching because the last two guys were men in their 40s that are obviously not the future of this company. Maybe they’re right, but at least on this night it felt right to see Michaels and Undertaker battle one on one. They proved they deserved it by having maybe the best finish to any Rumble ever. That’s why they got that standing ovation. They earned every bit of it.
– When I saw The Miz in this match there was no way to forecast that four years later this guy would be WWE Champion. You have to give him credit for working his ass off to get to that spot.
FACTS & OPINIONS about the Royal Rumble match
Person that lasted the longest: Edge at 44:02
Most Eliminations: The Great Khali with 7.
Best Performers (3): Edge – He was in the ring the longest, he was in there early and he dominated a lot of the action. He was at the peak of his main event powers.
Shawn Michaels – The hometown guy performed at a really high level like always. This match is typical HBK. He makes everybody better.
The Undertaker – He was the last man in and he only lasted 13 minutes, but he was absolutely on fire. He looked really healthy here, which has always been an issue for him. When he was on his game, though, he was phenomenal.
Best Elimination: Two for one as Michaels took out Orton and Edge in succession. It was a great moment that drew a massive reaction from the crowd.
Match Rating: **** I really liked this match a lot. The whole match was well done with the finish being as good as any in the history of the Rumble with the epic Undertaker/Michaels showdown that was very fresh.
(It is one of my favorite Royal Rumble matches. There’s plenty of star power and then the final two sequence is probably the best of all-time, so that makes it memorable too. The crowd was so into Undertaker/Michaels at the end of the match that it was a no brainer for WWE to book them in a WrestleMania match two years after this.)
After the match, The Undertaker was down in the ring selling exhaustion. Michaels was out on the floor looking frustrated about the loss. Undertaker and Michaels nodded at eachother as a sign of respect as if they said “good job” to eachother.
The Undertaker stared at the WrestleMania 23 sign that was in the arena. There was no sign pointing as we would see in the years that followed, but Undertaker did stare at the sign for a few moments. The Undertaker posed in the ring some more as some pyro went off in the arena. The Undertaker continued to pose in the ring as the show ended right there.
Analysis: The announcers loved to drive home the point that the winner gets to be in the “main event” of WrestleMania, yet it was Michaels that actually got to be in the last match at WrestleMania (aka the main event) when he faced John Cena while Undertaker faced Batista. It’s something WWE loved to say all the time to try to sell the importance of the WrestleMania win.
The show had a run time of 2:44:14 on WWE Network.
Show Rating (out of 10): 7
This was a pretty good show with a very entertaining Royal Rumble match thanks to the Undertaker/Michaels final two sequence, Edge was terrific in the match and the crowd was really into it. The Cena/Umaga match is one of my favorite WWE Title matches that Cena had at this point in his career. It was a Last Man Standing match that felt like a fight with Umaga looking great in defeat while Cena worked very well as the bloody babyface champion that came back. The rest of the card was just average with Lashley vs. Test standing out as the worst match of the night. It was a very good night for the babyfaces too because the good guys got the wins all night long.
(A good show overall. I highly recommend the Royal Rumble match and Cena/Umaga for being outstanding. The rest of the card isn’t that strong, but I think the top two matches are worth checking out.)
Best Match: John Cena vs. Umaga (**** out of 5)
Worst Match: Bobby Lashley vs. Test (*)
- John Cena
- Shawn Michaels
- The Undertaker
That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.
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