Royal Rumble Wrap-Up: 2011

Yesterday was the last Sunday of January, which means one thing: my favorite wrestling pay-per-view, the Royal Rumble! With Wrestlemania in Atlanta coming up in a few months (and tickets in our pockets), I got together with the guys last night to watch it.

Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler
Solid match between these two. Despite his rather unfortunate name (being only the second famous Dolph and the first famous Ziggler), Ziggler can definitely wrestle. Some good back-and-forth, and the ban on Edge’s spear made it interesting (and of course elicited a smile when both the ref and Vickie Guerrero got knocked down.) I don’t know if I missed something (only seen about half of Smackdown in the last few weeks,) but I have no clue why Kelly Kelly came down to attack Vickie; seemed kinda random. Being a Peep, my favorite part was Edge using Christian’s Killswitch to get the win (hopefully that’s a sign he’ll be returning soon.) No surprise to see Edge keep the title; Ziggler’s getting better each week, but he still needs that extra something before he’s at world title level.

The Miz vs. Randy Orton
I know he’s got his detractors, but I’m a big fan of The Miz. He’s one of the best talkers in wrestling today, and he can back it up in the ring. Plus I’ve always been a fan of a champ who isn’t a huge guy, because it’s never a bygone conclusion that he’s going to win; I like champions who seem like they have a chance of losing every time they step in that ring. Hell, the only thing about The Miz that I don’t like is the fact that Michael Cole’s always cheerleading him. I was glad to see Miz retain, even if it did take an interference by the Nexus.

Natalya vs. Michelle McCool vs. Layla vs. Eve
This was originally a handicap match, and changing it to a Fatal 4-way was a good idea. Natalya hitting a double Sharpshooter on Eve & Layla was pretty damn cool, and there was one point in the match where it looked like Eve almost had her cheekbone smashed in. Great ending for the match, with the double pin. No doubt we’re going to be hearing about that on Raw tonight.

40-Man Royal Rumble Match
Ah, the main event! This year’s Rumble match had 40 men in it, rather than the usual 30, which was a welcome addition. My favorite parts:

    • CM Punk’s a great guy to have at #1, and I liked the chaos that ensued between the Nexus and the Corre. But once that settled and Daniel Bryan came in at #2, it was pretty great. The first several minutes where it was largely those two were great, and made even better once William Regal got added into the mix. When you’ve got three of the best wrestlers today in the ring beating (and kicking) the crap out of each other, you can’t go wrong.
    • John Morrison wins the award for best Royal Rumble moment, hands-down. He got knocked off the ring apron and into the barricade. But instead of hitting the floor, he clung to the barricade, pulled himself up, walked across it like a balance beam, jumped to the ring steps, and got back into the ring. Morrison was my favorite to win the match, but even though he got tossed once the Nexus took over the ring, I’m glad he was at least able to have a great moment.
    • I wasn’t too excited when Chavo Guerrero entered, but that changed quickly once he started chaining Three Amigos on everyone and pointed to the heavens for Eddie.
    • I liked the idea of the Nexus coming together and taking over the ring, but it went on too long. After clearing everyone out, they should have only taken out maybe the next three guys before business as usual could resume.
    • Holy crap on the returns of Booker T & Diesel! I’m hoping they’re actually back on a regular basis instead of just one-off appearances. I was more excited to see Booker; he looked to be in great shape, and even though he got off all his signatures, it was a shame to see him fall to the Nexus machine. Diesel’s appearance was cool, and I was relieved that he didn’t pull a hamstring stepping into the ring. I don’t think I’d want to see him as a full time wrestler again, but he’d be great as the new Raw GM.
    • Although it worked for John Cena to break up the Nexus stalemate, I didn’t really want him to eliminate all of them.  Punk should have at least stayed in until Wade Barrett showed up.
    • I hated it at first when Hornswoggle showed up, but it grew on me and was actually pretty funny. The Irishman in me was glad that Sheamus was the one to eliminate him.
    • Purely on a wrestling psychology level, Kofi Kingston entering and squaring off with Cena was perfect.
    • Santino getting knocked out and rolling under the ring was pretty funny, although I wish the announcers had acknowledged it. I know they weren’t supposed to have noticed, but come on guys, it was pretty clear that he rolled under the bottom rope. But when he came back at the very end and hit the Cobra, it was pretty hilarious.
    • Towards the end, it looked like they were going to have it come down to John Cena and Randy Orton. Nothing against those guys, but it’s too obvious. I’d rather have someone who isn’t one of the top established guys in the company win the Rumble. Someone like….
    • Alberto del Rio! Alberto del Rio wins the Rumble! After John Morrison was eliminated, Del Rio became my new pick to win it. I’ve liked Del Rio since he first showed up in WWE, partially because I’ve always been a big fan of luchadores and the Mexican style of wrestling. It’s sad that despite the long, rich tradition of Mexican wrestling, there’ve only ever been two main event Mexican wrestlers in the WWE: Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio (who are coincidentally two of the most beloved stars in the company’s history.) I’m hoping that with Del Rio winning the Rumble and getting a main event push, they’re looking to change that.
  • Now that Mexican wrestling is a little further entrenched in the WWE, its time they push wrestling’s other rich heritage: Japanese Wrestling. I’m looking at you, Yoshi Tatsu!

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