The John Report: WWE Royal Rumble 2011 Recap

I covered this live when it happened. The Rumble match is in Play By Play format. The other matches are covering the main points. Enjoy.

————-

WWE Royal Rumble
January 30, 2011
Boston, Massachusetts

They show a video package highlighting Royal Rumble history. Pretty good like usual. The crowd looks full. Legit sellout. The announcers are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker as usual for PPVs.

World Heavyweight Title: Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler
I predicted this match would start because they don’t want to start with the divas and with only three matches on the undercard this is the one that makes the most sense. Edge comes out first. Vickie comes out, bans The Spear from the match, as she did on Smackdown. Vickie tries to start a Spear chant to taunt Edge. Ziggler’s out next and we get the in-ring introductions with both guys out there. I like that better.

I like how Lawler says the Rumble is huge because the first match is a World Title match. No Lawler, it means the midcard sucks. Ziggler starts out a bit slow early on. I’d expect this match to get 15-20 minutes with it not being a loaded card.

Nice offense by Dolph with some stiff sticks and a neckbreaker off of the ropes. The crowd’s not super hot, but I imagine they’ll pick up as the match gets going. Edge is able to come back and gets the slingshot into the turnbuckle for two. Ziggler comes back with a neckbreaker for two. Dolph takes control with a side headlock.

It goes outside a little bit with Edge taking a bump into the barricade. The match is slow and the crowd isn’t making much noise. They do a double crossbody block as we are nearly at the 10 minute mark. They continue building things slowly until Edge comes back with his usual array of offense. The crowd’s getting hotter. There’s a “Where’s Kaitlyn?” sign in the crowd for something. Dolph hits a Bareback like maneuver as Striker calls it. Nice powerbomb counter by Edge for two. Dolph comes back as they battle on the top rope. Dolph goes for the superplex, but Edge hangs on, knocking him off. Edge goes for a crossbody. Dolph counters it into a pinfall for two.

Dolph gets a dropkick for two. Edge puts Dolph in the Edgucator submission hold that is like a Sharpshooter except he doesn’t turn all the way. He used to do the move a few years ago. Dolph gets ropes. He comes back with a nearfall of his own. Edge puts him down with a boot. The crowd is going nuts as Edge positions himself in the corner with a Spear. He realizes he can’t do it. Ziggler slaps on the Sleeper Hold. Edge hits the jumping DDT that used to be his finisher for two. Vickie pulls the ref out of the ring as he’s about to count to three. She slaps Edge. Dolph charges in, Edge rolls him up and gets a two. Vickie slaps him again. Kelly Kelly comes out to attack Vickie. She slaps her in the face and pummels her. That was pretty random. Dolph hits his Zig Zag finisher. He takes a second to cover, Edge kicks out at two. Great nearfall. The pace has picked up big time.

Ziggler puts Edge into the sleeper hold. The announcers put it over big time as Edge gets out and accidentally knocks the ref down with his hands. He falls to his back, slamming Ziggler. With the ref down and Vickie down the crowd chants Spear. Edge keeps looking at the ref that’s down as Cole yells about how he can’t do this. Edge plays possum as the ref wakes up. “Edge is acting,” says Cole. Edge hits the Unprettier/Killswitch, Christian’s finisher, for the pinfall at 21 minutes.
Winner: Edge

Analysis: ***1/2 It was what I expected. The first ten minutes were slow and obviously to build up the second half, but it almost hurt the match because of how slow it was. I’m not sure how the Kelly thing fits in because they never had any interaction with her and Vickie before. Why not Kaitlyn in that spot? The ref bump was fine because it fit the story with Edge hitting the illegal move. If it leads to a rematch that’s cool. I enjoyed it. Good job by Ziggler in the biggest match of his career. Edge was his usual awesome self.

Here’s the WrestleMania video package telling us that WrestleMania 27 is 63 days away.

Miz vs. Orton is next.

Following the video package, The Miz is interviewed by Josh Mathews. Miz cuts a promo ripping on Randy Orton, Jerry Lawler and even local Boston hero Tom Brady. Riley says Miz is going to Mania as WWE Champion. Miz is in serious mode, so he doesn’t yell his “I’m the Miz and I’m awesome” catchphrase. It’s SERIOUS VOICES~! only tonight.

WWE Title: The Miz vs. Randy Orton
Orton comes out all serious like usual. Jerry Lawler just said, “I like to see a wrestler’s body language before a match.” Wrestler is a banned word, Jerry. Haha. Miz comes out next as Cole goes nuts about him. The crowd is popping huge for everything Orton. We get the in-ring intros that I love again.

It’s 8:42pmET as we start the second match. They are pacing the show well so far. There’s a “Push Trent Barretta sign. Cole argues with the other two announcers about how Miz is the best. He points out (correctly) that Orton’s never actually beat Miz, so he has to prove it. I’d rather see Miz vs. Morrison here. There’s some distraction from Riley to give Miz control. Striker points out how some people think they should have a ref on the outside of the ring as well as the inside. Yeah, as if that would ever happen. Orton goes charging into the corner, hurting his shoulder. Miz hits his running corner clothesline for two.

Miz slowed down the action with a headlock as Riley gives a high five to Cole. Lawler rips him for that. I love how Lawler forgets he was a heel announcer for so many years. Am I supposed to forget that? Miz hits a forearm for two. Miz hits a running knee on Orton. Somewhere HHH is fuming about the knee offense. It’s a joke, kids. Relax. Another headlock by Miz. It’s going at a similar pace as Edge/Ziggler. Miz puts him down with a boot for two. We’re at the 10 minute mark now.

Finally Orton comes back with a superplex for two. Randy hits his usual offense with the backbreaker, but Miz counters the DDT with a back drop. He distracts the ref as Riley puts the boots to him. Back in the ring, Miz hits a double axehandle off the ropes. I loved when Randy Savage did that move. Miz dominates as Cole says he watches tape to refine his game. His job isn’t easy. Randy gets thrown to the floor, Miz gets control and slingshots him into the ringpost. Remember the days when a guy getting thrown into the ringpost led to blood? I miss those days. Orton comes back with a flurry as we make it to the 15 minute mark. Randy puts him down with clothesline and the powerslam that Cole calls a scoop slam, but at least Striker was there to say powerslam. Knee gets two for Randy.

Orton goes for a powerbomb, Riley gets on the apron, distracts Randy and Miz hits his backbreaker/neckbreaker combo for two. RKO countered, Skull Crushing Finale countered. Orton hits the Angle Slam. Miz tries to escape with the belt, but Orton puts him down and throws him back in the ring. Miz puts him down with something we don’t see because they are showing a replay. Orton gets a rollup for two and hits the Suspension DDT as Striker calls it. That name works. Orton’s readying for the RKO as the Nexus guys come out without CM Punk. The ref goes outside the ring to tell them to leave. Orton throws Riley over the top rope onto the Nexus guys. The ref went down too even though he never got hit. Orton hits RKO. CM Punk comes out from under the ring, hits GTS on Orton. Miz covers, the ref comes back and counts the pinfall. Miz wins at about 22 minutes.
Winner: The Miz

After the match, Miz sold it like he had no idea what happened. Cole celebrated big time.

Analysis: *** Not as good as the opener, but still a solid match. It was too slow and Randy didn’t get enough of his offense in to win the crowd over. Did the ref even get hit on that ref bump? I think this leads to Orton vs. Punk at Mania since Cena vs. Miz is likely for the title.

Two straight 20 minute WWE/World title matches. That’s good. But we had ref bumps in both matches. It’s TNA booking night, I guess.

We got the Elimination Chamber video package. Three weeks away.

Backstage, Todd Grisham read a statement covering why Cody Rhodes wasn’t in the Rumble. He got a broken nose at the hands of Mysterio and didn’t want to show his ugly face because he’s so Dashing. That’s basically it.

They show some fans giving opinions on who is going to win the Rumble. One guy says Big Show because he’s the biggest. I guess those “Threat to Win” things work on some fans.

Divas Title: Natalya vs. Laycool
It’s a handicap match. Apparently Cole & Striker don’t like Natalya. Cole says Vickie is a bombshell compared to Natalya. I strongly disagree. Natalya is by far my favorite woman in WWE. It’s anonymous Raw GM time. The match is being changed. “I get a lot of complaints about how annoying Michael Cole is…” as Cole says I’m sure that’s just a joke. It will now be a Fatal Fourway divas title match. It’s Eve. Not Beth?

Divas Title: Natalya vs. Michelle McCool vs. Layla vs. Eve
I’m not sure why Eve is in the match. Why not Beth? Or the surprise with Kong? The Laycool girls had a showdown, but it didn’t last. Hey, Eve actually hit a dropkick. What did Eve do to ever get a title shot anyway. Natalya puts Layla onto Eve and puts the Sharpshooter on both of them. Double Sharpshooter by Natalya! Sweet. Michelle boots Natalya and pins Eve for two. Layla breaks up a fall attempt by Eve. Layla hits her neckbreaker on Eve, who gets booted out. I really can’t stand Michelle’s voice. Natalya hits clotheslines on each of Laycool. The crowd is pretty quiet. McCool accidentally hits the boot on Layla. Natalya gets knocked to the floor. Eve hits a moonsault on Layla. The ref counts the fall. Eve wins. On the other side of the ring there was another pinfall attempt with Michelle pinning Natalya. Match went about 5 minutes.
Winner: Eve

Analaysis: *1/4 Why Eve? She barely wrestles on TV. Beth’s on all the time winning matches and Eve gets thrown into with the belt. I don’t get it. Bad booking. The moonsault was pretty looking, but this came out of nowhere. I don’t understand the booking. I guess you can pencil in Awesome Kong and Beth Phoenix for the Rumble.

Backstage, Daniel Bryan talks about the Rumble. He’s got his girlfriend Gail Kim with him. The Bellas come into the screen and they brawl with Gail. Cole starts calling Bryan a dork. A pointless, waste of time segment.

We get the Rumble video package.

The 40 Person Royal Rumble Match

The #1 spot belongs to CM Punk. We don’t know who #2 is because all The Corre guys come out. They jump Punk and all the Nexus guys come out as well. They start brawling. It’s a battle of the factions. The Raw GM has buzzed in. The GM types faster than me. The GM orders them to break it up and go back to the locker room. Let’s start again.

The #1 guy is CM Punk as we know and #2 is Daniel Bryan. I would be fine if both of these guys lasted near the end. Two of the best workers in the company. Bryan hits a nice dropkick here as I worry about my site crashing due to traffic. It seems to be functional. The #3 spot is Justin Gabriel. Bryan hits a back suplex on Gabriel to eliminate him leaving us with the first two guys again. It’s Zack Ryder at #4, who is a huge threat to win. Cole points out his #1 contender status. Hilarious that they always mention that. Bryan eliminates Ryder with a hiptoss. By the way, I’m informed via twitter that they went 73 seconds to get Gabriel in there. It’s not at 90 seconds like WWE might tell you. The #5 entrant is William Regal as Striker calls him the best superstar to have never held a WWE or World Title. I don’t agree although he’s still very talented. I’d put Curt Hennig, Owen Hart and British Bulldog ahead of him. RIP to all of them. He hits suplexes on Bryan and Punk. Very physical knee to the head of Punk. Bryan comes back, putting both guys down as we await the next guy.

Ted Dibiase is in at #6 as I ask that they do more close-ups of Maryse. That doesn’t happen, much to my dismay. It’s John Morrison at #7. He gets thrown out, but he is able to stay in the match. Regal gets thrown out. Morrison’s feet don’t touch the floor as he gets pushed out. He hangs onto the barricade with his feet at the bottom of the barricade. He climbs the barricade, then jumps onto the steps. That was freaky. I’m still marveling at Morrison’s spot. I don’t think I can do it justice with a written description. One of those things you have to see. The #8 guy is Yoshi Tatsu. Not a whole lot happens. Here’s Husky Harris at #9 as he stands in front of CM Punk to block him from a beating. Striker mentions he’s the youngest guy in the match at 23 years old. The #10 man is Chavo Guerrero as we are a quarter of the way through in this 40 person Rumble. Cole doesn’t like Chavo’s chances. Not exactly a stretch to say that. Chavo hits the Three Amigos suplex, but Punk breaks it up and then Chavo hits the suplexes on Punk. Then he hits them on Morrison. Now Daniel Bryan’s turn. He has hit two suplexes on 4 guys and then he hits the third on Bryan. He does the Eddie Guerrero shuffle to a good pop. Chavo hits a missile dropkick on Husky.

In at #11 is Mark Henry as Striker wonders how you can eliminate Mark Henry. I don’t know Striker, but he’s never done well in a Rumble. So I think they know how. They say it EVERY YEAR because he’s a THREAT TO WIN. Mark dumps Chavo out rather quickly. Mark hits a clothesline on Tatsu. That’s two eliminations for Mark. #12 is JTG as the ring is getting full with jobbers. I’m sorry if I miss some eliminations and small things like that. It’s #13 Michael McGillicutty, who dropkicks JTG out. What a shock that JTG didn’t last longer. The crowd is pretty quiet at this point. It’s Chris Masters at #14. I have no idea what the time is between entrants, but there’s no way it’s at 90 seconds. Nobody gets eliminated during this period as we have 7 guys in the ring. More Nexus time as David Otunga is #15, giving us 4 Nexus guys in the match. Punk eliminates Bryan after 20 minutes of action. That sucked. I wanted Bryan to last longer. They eliminate Dibiase. I think it was him. They get rid of Morrison too. Now it’s four Nexus guys plus Mark Henry. They dump him out. Four Nexus guys in the ring as #16 comes down.

The #16 spot is Tyler Reks. They throw him out in about 30 seconds. Cole points out that they are going to bulldoze their way through the match by working together to throw everybody out as soon as they get in the ring. It’s one half of the tag champs Vladimir Kozlov at #17. They pound him down. Punk waves bye bye to Kozlov and easily throws him out after about a minute. Cole points out it might be the greatest strategy in Rumble history while Striker wonders who can stop this. What’s Up for #18 R-Truth. They attack him like a swarm of bees, says Lawler. I would come out Undertaker style by taking a minute to get out there. They dump out Truth after about one minute as well. Here’s the returning Great Khali at #19. It’s his return from being on a Big Brother like TV show in India. He’s a threat to win of course. He chops all of the Nexus guys down. Khali eliminates Harris. Punk escapes his grasp. That was good booking because it neutralized the group mentality that was dominating. Now we’re onto the next guy. It’s another Nexus guy at #20, newcomer Mason Ryan. Khali misses a clothesline and Ryan eliminates him. That’s an impressive debut. Smartly booked first half of the Rumble because it really elevates this Nexus group.

It’s a big pop for Booker T as the surprise entrant at #21 as Striker says he’s marking out bro. That was a great moment for one of my fave wrestlers ever. He hits a sidekick on Ryan as Cole calls it vintage Booker. He gets a Scissors Kick and a Bookend. Spinarooni by Booker. Mason Ryan dumps out Booker. I wish he could have lasted longer. A massive pop for #22 John Cena, who was my pick to win. Cena eliminates Mason Ryan fairly easily and then he clotheslines McGillicutty and Otunga at the same time to get rid of them. The crowd is going nuts as Cena faces off with Punk one on one. The #23 man is Hornswoggle. He’s a big threat to win! He’s the shortest entrant in Rumble history, of course. Punk boots him down. I marked out for that, bro. Cena eliminates CM Punk rather easily with the Attitude Adjustment. That sucks. Now the Nexus group is out, but The Corre group will be in there for the second half of it. Cena spends some quality time with Hornswoggle as they await #24. My boy Tyson Kidd is #25 and he has to sell for Hornswoggle, which is a damn shame. Hornswoggle hits the Attitude Adjustment on Kidd thanks to Cena putting him on his shoulders. Cena throws Kidd out. I’m sad that Punk didn’t last longer.

It’s the Wendy lookalike Heath Slater at #26. I think The Corre’s music is terrible, by the way. Cena and Hornswoggle do the double Five Knuckle Shuffle. That made me want to puke. Hornswoggle hits the Tadpole Splash on Slater. And Cena throws Slater out. There goes my idea that The Corre would get a good push late in the match. We get another babyface with Kofi Kingston at #27 as he takes his time getting in the ring. They each look up at the WrestleMania sign. They barely wrestle at all. There’s Jack Swagger at #28. He puts down both guys, hitting his corner splash off the ropes. He says he’s going to WrestleMania. Swoggle hits Swagger low (where else can he hit him?) so Kingston hits a crossbody. Kofi hits a Boom Drop legdrop on Swagger while using Hornswoggle as a step ladder. Sheamus is in the #29 spot. He puts down Cena with a backbreaker. Hornswoggle goes HBK on Sheamus as he warms up the band. He kicks Sheamus in the shin. Cena saves an attack on Hornswoggle, who is still in the match. Sheamus hits the Brogue Kick to eliminate Hornswoggle. He was sitting on the top. That’s my fave elimination so far. Rey Mysterio is #30, which used to be the last spot. Not this year. There are five guys in the ring at the moment, by the way. He hits his high flying spots on everybody, but Sheamus slows him down with a clothesline. I’m told most entrances are about 90 seconds now while the time check is at 10:18 meaning we got another 30 minutes or so to go. Kingston hits Trouble in Paradise on Sheamus. Rey eliminates Swagger with a 619 after Swagger holds on.

The #31 spot, first time ever, is Wade Barrett. We have five guys in the ring right now: Cena, Sheamus, Kingston, Mysterio and Barrett. There’s no elimination. Here’s Dolph Ziggler at #32 even though he lost the World Title match earlier in the show. They mention the power of his girlfriend Vickie Guerrero to get him in the Rumble match. Ziggler and Barrett try to eliminate Cena, but Rey saves him. It’s Kevin Nash coming out as Diesel in the #33 spot. That was a spoiler from the weekend. His hair was black unlike the usual gray as the guys in the ring all turn around in shock. I knew he’d be there, but didn’t think they’d go the Diesel route since he worked as Kevin Nash in WWE for a few years in the mid 2000s. He got a really good pop coming out. The crowd knows their history. He hits some power moves on everybody, but no eliminations. There’s Drew McIntyre at #34. I had to run to the bathroom quick. I missed Diesel getting eliminated, so he didn’t last too long. The Miz is out there as Alex Riley is in the ring too. Show throws out The Miz. Sorry for missing a bit there.

The #36 man is Ezekiel Jackson, who doesn’t come out to The Corre’s music. Show eliminates McIntyre. Zeke throws out Big Show. They are supposed to have a feud. The six guys in the ring are Cena, Sheamus, Barrett, Jackson, Kingston and Mysterio. There are 4 people left in the match. Santino is #37. He lasts longer than 2009 already! He goes after Jackson, which is a bad idea. Sheamus boots down Santino, who slides under the bottom rope. Cole mentions that Cena’s been in the ring for 25 minutes at this point. Jackson nearly gets rid of Cena, but he hangs on. The #38 man is a big favorite Alberto Del Rio. He gets the introduction from Ricardo Rodriguez as they don’t even show the happenings in the ring. That’s always fantastic. Striker mentions that Riley got eliminated although we never saw it or who did it. Del Rio takes time to get out there. Miz hangs around on commentary. I assume that means Cena is winning to set that feud up immediately following this match. The #39 entrant is Randy Orton. That means both title match losers are in the Rumble. RKO on Del Rio. RKO on Sheamus. RKO on Kingston. Cole references six RKOs in 2009 when Orton won. He throws out Kingston and clotheslines Sheamus out. We have the Orton-Cena showdown. The announcers always try to sell this as if they never wrestled eachother before. Cena points at the WM sign again. He sure loves doing that. No Triple H at #40. It’s Kane at #40.

We’ve got the hoss showdown with Jackson and Kane. Jackson charges at Kane, who ducks. There goes Jackson. The six guys left are Kane, Barrett, Del Rio, Mysterio, Orton and Cena. I still pick Cena to win like I said the whole time. Kane goes for a chokeslam, but Rey eliminates him with a headscissors. Barrett knees Mysterio in the back to eliminate him.

Final four: Cena, Barrett, Orton and Del Rio (and Santino, who I originally forgot about in the live writeup). Two babyfaces from Raw, two heels from Smackdown. We are at the 65 minute mark. We have some near eliminations, but Cena fights Barrett off with a Gutwrench suplex. Cole keeps talking about the dream of headlining WrestleMania. It’s like Orton and Cena haven’t been there many times before, huh? Cena can’t get AA on Orton. Now the heels take control of the faces in respective corners. Cena comes back with the AA on Del Rio. Here comes Riley to distract Cena. Miz runs in the ring to throw Cena out. There’s the typical elimination where they protect the top guy. The story is that Miz didn’t want to face Cena at Mania. Of course that ended up happening anyway. Orton throws out Barrett. Del Rio throws out Orton! I marked out! Del Rio wins…we think. The music plays. Wait a second. Santino comes back in. He never got eliminated. Santino hits The Cobra on Del Rio. Cole is going nuts calling it a huge upset. He goes to throw out Del Rio, but Santino gets thrown out. It’s official. Del Rio wins.

Winner: Alberto Del Rio

The match ended at 69:11.

 

FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS

– It was a solid Rumble using the typical formula they always do. The first half was dominated by CM Punk and the Nexus group. The middle part was a showcase for Cena. The end put over Del Rio huge by giving him the win from the #38 spot.

– I wish somebody lasted over an hour or that somebody eliminated a record number of guys. If you’re going to do the “biggest Rumble ever” you need to make it historic in some way. There wasn’t anything special about this match other than there were 40 people in it.

– The story of CM Punk and the Nexus dominating the first half of the match was awesome. Once they got eliminated the match lost a lot of the momentum it had and started to get a little boring.

– The tease of Santino ending was pretty fun for a second, but then when you realize it’s Santino you know it’s not going to really happy. I’ll give them points for being creative, at least.

– The match was too damn long at 69 minutes. I remember watching it the first time and being bored by it because it just kept going and going. I’m glad they don’t do a 40 person Rumble again.

 

FACTS & OPINIONS

Person that lasted the longest: CM Punk at 35:22.

Most Eliminations: CM Punk & John Cena with 7.

Best Performers (3): CM Punk – Lasted the longest and threw out the most guys. Carried the first half of the match.

John Cena – One of his better performances in a Royal Rumble match.

Alberto Del Rio – Wasn’t a clear number three star, so I’ll give it to the match winner.

Best Elimination: Del Rio eliminating Santino at the end.

Match Rating: ***

 

Final Thoughts

I’ll call the whole show a solid 6.5 out of 10.

There was nothing spectacular about it, but it wasn’t terribly awful at any point either. With both major title matches getting over 20 minutes they were able to tell stories with screwy finishes. I really don’t understand putting the belt on Eve. Why not Beth? The Rumble was fine, but never had the great feeling to it. It had its moment, but there weren’t enough of them to make it truly special to me.