Monday, February 6, 2012

WWE Royal Rumble 2012

WWE Royal Rumble 2012
January 29th, 2012
Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Attendance: 18,121

Well it's that time of the year again---no, not taxes time (that'll be soon enough), but time for the annual WWE Royal Rumble! Tonight's show looks fairly solid on paper, but PPVs don't take place on paper do they? Enough useless preambling, you know the deal here, let's jump right into things.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T

World Heavyweight Title Steel Cage Match
Daniel Bryan
© vs. Mark Henry vs. Big Show
Bit of a strange choice for the opener. Our crowd seems to be a bit bipolar tonight, largely booing Bryan on his way to the ring only for a huge "Daniel Bryan!" chant to start up when the bell rings. Bryan is quickly tossed aside at the bell so the two behemoths can go at it. Henry gets caught between the ropes and the cage so Show splashes him into it a few times. Bryan tries to sneak over the top while this is happening, but Show launches him back in the ring with a press slam. Show misses the WMD fist and Bryan manages to actually take him down with a running dropkick to the knee. Henry only just now gets back to his feet only for Bryan to take him out with some more kicks. Bryan tries to walk out the front door but Henry pulls him back in. Show superkicks Henry in the face (no, seriously, he actually stretched his leg that far) when he turns around though and goes back to working over Bryan. Henry gets some shots in back on his feet but eats a big spear from Show. Show calls for the chokeslam, but Bryan counters with a tornado DDT off the top rope for a two count. Bryan slaps on the LeBell Lock, but Henry breaks it up. Henry tries for the World's Strongest Slam, but Show nails him right in the face with the WMD fist for another near fall. Bryan tries to scurry out of the cage but Show has a hold of him at the top. Bryan dangles for a bit from the top of the cage as Show holds onto him by his wrist in a neat little spot, but Bryan just drops to the floor seconds later to retain the title at 9:08. Kind of a surreal match honestly, we had Cole running down Bryan on commentary like he was a face, Booker T defending him like he was a face, and the crowd chanting for him like he was the face...but then he did the whole cowardly heel shtick the whole match. Weird dynamic. About as good as you could expect given the limitations of 2/3rds of the participants though. Bryan celebrates afterwards like he just won the Super Bowl. **

We get another video package telling us about how awesome and swell of a guy John Cena is. I'm pretty sure these promos are only going to make people boo him more come 'Mania.

Beth Phoenix/Natalya/Nikki Bella/Brie Bella vs. Kelly Kelly/Eve/Alicia Fox/Tamina

Bit of a random match, you can actually see the waves of people leaving for the bathroom and snack stands as the bell rings. Nattie and Tamina start us off, trading chops and head-butts. Eve tags in and hits the Booty Pop moonsault on Natalya, a move that I'm pretty sure has set the women's rights movement back atleast 30 years. Beth tags in and gets her knees up when Eve tries another standing moonsault. One of the Bella's tags in (I can't tell them apart and neither can you) and works a lazy chinlock on Eve until Alicia tags in and stomps away on her in the corner. When she turns her back the Bella's do the old twin switcheroo though. Kelly tags in and delivers a really contrived flying headscissors followed by the handspring back elbow and the Jericho bulldog for a two count. The match breaks down from here with everyone brawling outside the ring until Kelly comes off the top rope with a plancha to wipe them all out! Don't look now but this match is actually getting kind of good. Beth tags in back in the ring though and finishes Kelly off with the Glam Slam at 5:29. This actually wasn't terrible, a few sloppy moments but the plancha spot from Kelly was quite nifty. *3/4

We cut backstage to see Zack Ryder being wheeled into the arena in a wheelchair with some sort of weird back brace on that looks amusingly similar to those vests you have to wear when you play Laser Tag. This has to a world record for quickest recovery time from a "broken back" that I've ever seen. Johnny Ace approaches Ryder and tells him he's got a special locker room set up for him with a TV and all of his favorite foods, proceeding to kiss his ass in delicious heel fashion, even throwing in a WWWYKI of his own. Eve walks up to interrupt him though and tell him about what a mean jerk he is. Ace really does do the heel shtick excellently, I must say.

John Cena vs. Kane

Biggest mark out moment of the night so far: the guy in the front row waving an Aqua Teen Mooninites sign. Awesome. I still can't get used to the weird welder's mask Kane wears over his usual mask, though it does kind of remind me of the killer's masks from My Bloody Valentine and The Prowler (classic slasher film references there for you kids). Both men brawl out of the ring almost immediately, where Kane gets tossed into the steps. Back in the ring Kane slaps on a chinlock. Boy they're starting off real hot and heavy aren't they? Suplex from Kane and he goes right back to the rest hold before both men begin trading punches again. Kane looks for the choke-slam but Cena avoids it and tries for the Five Knuckle Shuffle only for Kane to block it and boot his head off. Both men fight to the top rope where Kane is shoved off and Cena hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle off the top rope, which is actually kind of cool. Both men brawl outside to the floor, where they both wind up being counted out for the lame finish at 10:56. Actually not as bad as I had been lead to believe, from the way people talked about this match I was expecting a flat out DUD but it wasn't too awful or anything. Certainly wasn't good though. *1/2

After the match both men continue fighting into the backstage area, where Kane nails Cena with a chair and then finds himself directly in front of Zack Ryder's locker room. He breaks down the door and begins assaulting Ryder in the wheelchair with his lame new "glove over mouth" finisher. A supposedly unconscious (but very clearly not) Ryder is wheeled out to the ring where Kane tombstones him to cheers despite Eve's pleading. Cena comes running out from the back to try and make the save but winds up getting choke-slammed to more cheers for his troubles. Kane takes off and Ryder gets stretchered out. Well, that whole angle certainly just fell flat on it's face.

The Funkasaurus Brodus Clay vs. Drew McIntyre
Every time Booker T says "AW SHUCKY DUCKY" I feel like I'm watching an old racist Disney movie. Drew doesn't seem amused by the Funky One. Just your usual Clay squash here, Drew tries some offense to start and is then quickly put away with the "What the Funk" splash at 1:05. Harmless squash match, and the crowd seemed to dig the Funkasaurus. 1/4*

WWE Title Match
CM Punk
© vs. Dolph Ziggler
John Laurinaitis is our special guest ring enforcer here of course, and he appears impartial at first by sending Vickie Guerrero to the back to join their buddy Swagger. Punk tries a quick roll-up at the bell but it doesn't work of course. Michael Cole delivers what might be the funniest line of the night by accusing Booker T of being jealous of Ace because Ace was a better worker than him. Both men do some nice countering and evading and Punk tries for the Anaconda Vice, but Ziggler quickly escapes to the ropes. Punk sends Ziggler tumbling out to the floor with a nasty gourdbuster onto the top rope and then promptly follows him out with a big tope to the floor. Back in the ring Punk goes to the top, but Ziggler sweeps his legs out from under him and he crashes to the mat in a rather grotesque manner. Neckbreaker from Dolph and he follows it up with a series of big elbow drops into Punk's heart. He works a chinlock but Punk counters with a back-suplex. Ziggler starts working his trademark sleeper and Punk tries to counter into the Anaconda Vice but Ziggler counters back into the sleeper and dropkicks him. Ziggler tries for a hurricanrana but Punk catches him in mid air and plants him with a sick spinning sitout powerbomb. Punk hits the running knee into the corner and follows it with the running bulldog before calling for the GTS. Ziggler escapes the move though and catapults Punk into the corner. Punk lands on his feet on the ropes though and hits a cross-body, which Ziggler rolls through for another pin attempt. Punk hangs onto the top rope to avoid the Zig Zag and then just nails Ziggler with an absolutely sickening kick to the temple. Punk hits the Macho Man elbow off the top and gets a TON of air, but Ziggler kicks out again. Big "Randy Savage!" chant starts up in appreciation to the late legend. Back on his feet Ziggler tosses Punk right into the ref, who falls outside to the floor like he was just shot by a Desert Eagle. Ace checks on the ref with his back turned while Ziggler taps out to the Anaconda Vice in the ring so Punk gets in his face. He rolls up Ziggler for about a 4 count, but still Ace isn't paying attention. Ace rolls the ref back into the ring and slides in himself while Punk looks for the GTS again, but in the process of swinging Ziggler onto his shoulders he inadvertently hits Ace in the back of the head with Dolph's foot. Punk hits the GTS but still the ref is down and Ace won't count. Punk tries for another GTS, but Ziggler counters in mid-air into the Fameasser! That was an INCREDIBLE counter. Ziggler looks for a second Fameasser, but Punk launches him into the turnbuckle and DESTROYS him with the GTS and both Ace and the ref count the 3 to have Punk retain at 14:32. I could literally watch these two guys wrestle each other every single day and twice on Sunday. Hot crowd, some absolutely stellar counters (the GTS into the Fameasser was awesome), and just an overall great little match that wasn't hindered by the angle fortunately. ***1/2

2012 Royal Rumble Match

We're back down to 30 participants after last year's experiment with 40. The Miz is number one and makes sure to tell us he's awesome before the match actually begins with his former protege Alex Riley entering at number two. Riley tries to quickly dump Miz but Miz hangs on and low-bridges a charging Riley to eliminate A-Ri quickly. Next out is another former ally of Miz's, R-Truth. Truth fires off some hot offense as IC champion Cody Rhodes is out next at #4. Rhodes and Miz gang up on Truth for a bit until Justin Gabriel comes out next to add a bit of high-flying excitement to the mix. Primo is out next and he and Gabriel do a few nice spots while Miz tosses Truth out to eliminate him. Truth pulls Miz out under the bottom rope and gives him the What's Up on the floor to get a measure of revenge. #7 is none other than the legendary Mick Foley, who gets the pop of the night so far I'd say. Foley back drops Primo out of the ring quickly and then hits the running knee into the corner on Cody followed by the double arm DDT. Next out is Ricardo Rodriguez, who drives out in a beat up old Datsun in a hilarious moment. Big Ricardo chant as he takes it to a fallen Cody in the corner. Gabriel dropkicks him in the mouth, but Foley comes to Ricardo's aid and they both toss Gabriel out. To continue the comedy, Santino's out next. They do one of the most awkward somersault countering spots I've ever seen before Santino tosses Ricardo out. Foley and Santino both reach for their respective socks and we've got a battle of Mr. Socko vs. The Cobra! Epico is out at #10, and he winds up eating both of the sock finishers before being eliminated immediately.

Miz finally jumps back in and Cody awakens from his slumber to break up the battle of the socks and Cody quickly eliminates Santino. Foley delivers Mr. Socko to The Miz, but Cody sneaks up from behind to eliminate Mick and break it up. Kofi Kingston is in next to go dropkick crazy on both heels before hitting a double Boom Drop on them both. Jerry Lawler winds up drawing #12 in a surprise moment as he gets up from the commentary table to hand out some body-slams and the classic fist drop to The Miz. Cody tosses King out seconds later though and all these legend eliminations are garnering him some good heat from the crowd. Ezekiel Jackson is next out to throw some stiff shoulders. Jinder Mahal is next and takes so long to get to the ring that by the time he does, it's already time for the next entrant...who of course is the returning Great Khali, Jinder's kayfabe brother-in-law. Khali quickly eliminates Jinder and then tosses Ezekiel out as well to join him. #16 is Hunico who hits a nice springboard cross-body on Kofi before handing out an Olympic Slam to Rhodes. Booker T winds up drawing #17 despite saying he wasn't entered all of ten minutes ago, and he quickly cleans house in the ring before eating a head-butt from Khali, who lays in what I can confidently say are the absolute worst kicks I've ever seen thrown in pro wrestling history on Booker's ankles in the corner. Kofi is nearly eliminated by Miz, but he winds up walking on his own hands halfway across the ring over to the steel steps to remain in the match! Awesome, creative spot there. Dolph Ziggler is out next and goes right after Kofi while out next is the winner of the original Rumble match, Hacksawn Jim Duggan! Nice nostalgia pop for the old guy and he gets the big USA chant to start up before he's eliminated by Cody Rhodes, adding another legend to his list of eliminations so far. And as soon as I type that, Cody tosses both Booker AND Khali out! Damn, Cody's really racking 'em up. #20 winds up being Michael freakin' Cole to complete the announcer triumvirate of entries tonight.

Thankfully we don't have to see much of Cole in the Rumble though as next out is the returning Kharma (the former Awesome Kong)! Cole tries to eliminate himself before Kharma can but King and Booker wind up pulling him off the apron instead. Ziggler goes all 50s chauvinist on us by demanding Kharma leave the ring so he winds up eating the Implant Buster. Hunico tries jumping her from behind and gets tossed out easily as well, but this gives Ziggler enough time to recover and dump Kharma from behind. Sheamus is out at #22 and he immediately cleans house in the ring, handing out forearms and body slams to everyone in a ten foot radius. Kofi looks for the Trouble in Paradise but gets dumped out by Sheamus to some minor boos. OH YOU DIDN'T KNOW?! Yes, the Road Dogg Jesse James of all people is out next to continue the nostalgia theme, and damnit if he doesn't hand out some of his trademark spots with a ton of energy and pop the crowd huge with chants of "You've still got it!" New Age Outlaws were basically the coolest thing since Bart Simpson and South Park to me as a kid so I marked for that. Jey Uso is out next with Jimmy in street clothes, so I guess he won the brotherly coin toss for a spot tonight. Jack Swagger is out at #25 to hand out some suplexes. Wade Barrett is out next with some very lame new theme music and he tosses Road Dogg out quickly. Next entry is David Otunga and a small army of crickets, or atleast that's what it sounds like. In direct contrast Randy Orton is in next at #28 and gets a thunderous pop from his hometown crowd. Nice spot from Orton as he delivers his second-rope delayed DDT to both Rhodes and Ziggler simultaneously. Orton tosses Jey Uso out and then hits the RKO on Barrett out of nowhere before tossing him out as well! Chris Jericho is our second to last entrant and he quickly eliminates Otunga. Cole claims Jericho was the first entrant in the 2000 Rumble, but that was actually D'Lo Brown. Finally at #30 is the Big Show, who gives Swagger the WMD fist on his way to the ring after Swagger gets tossed out.

Show tosses out both Rhodes and The Miz moments later and then adds Ziggler to join them as well, eliminating the three longest remaining guys in the match in the process. So we're down to the Final Four now, with the Big Show, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, and Sheamus. Show chokeslams Jericho but turns around right into the RKO from Orton. Orton winds up tossing Show out with a bit of help from Sheamus, but then Jericho runs up from behind and eliminates Orton! We're down to the last two, Jericho and Sheamus. They go the whole Undertaker/HBK route for the finish by having a pretty damn good little mini 5 minute match here. Sheamus is nearly eliminated by a clothesline but manages to hang on with one arm at the last second. Jericho hits the second-rope dropkick but Sheamus still hangs on. Jericho slaps on the Walls of Jericho but Sheamus escapes and nearly back-drops Jericho out of the ring. Both men fight to the top rope and tease a superplex, but they both wind up crotching themselves and nearly both fall out. Codebreaker from Jericho and he tries for a pin attempt out of habit. Jericho starts slapping Sheamus right in the face, which only serves to enrage him. He catches Jericho in another Codebreaker attempt and tries to dump him out, but Jericho hangs on long enough to get back to his feet on the apron only for Sheamus to nail him with the Brogue Kick and eliminate Jericho, making Sheamus our surprise 2012 Royal Rumble winner at 54:54! Very interesting Rumble effort this year, there were a LOT of comedy and nostalgia acts involved so be forewarned if you can't take a bit of that spread out in a match, you're not likely to enjoy this as much as others. The second half of the match kicked up the heat though and the final showdown with Jericho and Sheamus was excellent stuff, about as good as you can work a battle royal match. Jericho was supposedly supposed to be the winner here, which would have made sense given his recent return to the company, but they apparently changed it to Sheamus at the last minute to swerve us. It definitely worked as the crowd seemed stunned when Jericho lost. Not one of the best Rumbles or anything and not anywhere as good as the last two year's matches, but a nice combination of fun and hard-hitting action in the finish made this a fairly good and entertaining Rumble this year. ***1/4

We close out the show with Sheamus celebrating his victory in the ring.

Bottom Line: Strange show this year to be honest, the first hour was totally forgettable stuff but the WWE title match and the Rumble were good enough to ensure the show wasn't a total wash. Given the Rumble and title match combined take up the larger chunk of the show, I'm leaning towards a very slight recommendation for this year's show, but it's nothing you need to run out and buy on DVD as soon as it hits shelves or anything. I'd say check out the last two matches, skip everything else. Very slight recommendation and minor Thumbs Up this year, but not by much.

Score: 6.0/10


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