Well that was… meh. WrestleMania 34 has passed us by, and with its passing we have had many long standing questions answered with just as many new ones asked. Let’s be realistic here for a second… it wasn’t very good at all. It wasn’t helped by the fact that NXT TakeOver New Orleans was earth shatteringly incredible, but regardless of Saturday nights superior show, ‘Mania once again flattered to deceive. We were presented with the most stacked card in history, but almost every match felt like nothing more than filler for the main event. With that said, post ‘Mania RAW was a blistering success. This was originally due to be a ‘Mania Hits & Misses rundown, but I had to include RAW purely for the fact I could only find 1 or 2 ‘mania Hits which were vastly outweighed by Misses.
Lets crack on shall we?
Hit: Ronda’s Rousing Rendition.
Hands up who expected this? Anybody? No? You at the back there, put your hand down you liar! Far and beyond the best match of the night, Ronda Rousey shocked and impressed the entire world with her performance on the Grandest Stage of Them All. She was far more involved than I ever expected and it was clear to see how much she cared about proving herself. Credit is due for both HHH and Stephanie, who both did everything in their power to put Ronda over in the biggest way possible. What next for Rousey? Well if her appearance on RAW is anything to go by, this feud is far from over and that’s something I’m more than happy to see. She needs at least a couple more months of being built up, plus some more mic work conditioning, before entering the title picture.
Miss: That Fucking Main Event.
Literally the most baffling thing I have ever seen while watching WWE… and I’ve seen ark Henry have a baby hand with Mae Young. Nailed on for an entire year, Roman Reigns was set to finally topple the beast and reward us with a full time champion. What did we get? One of, if not the, worst WrestleMania main events in history. To make matters worse, within 24 hours of Roman’s devastating loss, the instant rematch was announced for the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia. That’s right. The challenger lost and got handed a rematch. Without earning it. Who said WWE favour Roman Reigns and force him down our throats? You? Don’t be absurd! He’s great! He’s earnt it!
The only saving grace here was the return of my life long bae Samoa Joe. His appearance and subsequent berating of Reigns was a thing of beauty, and even led to a challenge for Backlash. This rivalry was fantastic the first time around… here’s hoping it leads to big things for Joe.
Hit: Opening The Show In A Big Way.
While it wasn’t the best match you’ll ever see, the Intercontinental Championship match between The Miz, Seth Rollins and Finn Balor was the perfect way to open proceedings. It’s always nice seeing the best guys the company has to offer starting the show off the right way. Unfortunately the match itself wasn’t even close to being the monumental 5 star extravaganza we expected. Rollins is a worthy winner however, and should go on to have a fantastic reign as champion especially considering the calibre of talent on RAW. Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, Elias, Dean Ambrose on his return, Finn Balor and Jeff Hardy could all result in some outstanding matches.
Miss: Rusev Day is On It’s Last Legs.
Who has Rusev upset? His short time in the company has gone from one extreme to another. Since losing his fantastic 1 year unbeaten streak to Super Cena, we have seen Rusev involved in a romantic storyline with Summer Rae and Dolph Ziggler, being fed to Randy Orton, becoming the most over guy in the business all by himself with the Rusev Day movement… to being pinned by Jinder Mahal at WrestleMania. I’s genuinely shocked he hasn’t walked away from the company yet. He is phenomenally talented, has the merch sales to give Vince a raging semi (he’s old, its difficult) and has reached almost Daniel Bryan levels of over. What’s next for him? More mid card mediocrity? With the Superstar Shake Up only one week away, Ru Ru desperately needs a change of scenery. Oh I almost forgot to mention. Jinder Mahal is our new United States Champion. Kill me now.
Hit: No Celebrities Or OTT Segments.
Thank. God. The. Rock. Wasn’t. There.
Despite the matches on show not being particularly exciting, barring 1 or 2, at least the focus of this Wrestlemania was on the actual wrestling. It was a nice change of pace to not be slapped in the face with celebrity involvement, unless you count Ronda Rousey of course, and it’s always nice when the talent doesn’t get buried by stars of yesteryear. I’m a sucker for nostalgia as much as the next cynical old fool, but seeing The League of Nations embarrassed by Stone Cold, Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 32 was completely unnecessary.
Miss: SDLive Tag Team Championship Match Placing.
The Uso’s. Tag team of the year 2017. Helped in large by The New Day and their insane rivalry. Surely this match, including the Blugeon Brothers, can only have been 24 carat gold right? Wrong! The match itself was uninspiring and frankly quite dull, but WWE did themselves no favours by placing this one right after Ronda Rousey’s triumphant debut. The crowd didn’t care in the slightest and barely made a sound. Going forward I’m concerned for the division. It was on fire for the longest time, but with Blugeon Brothers being in control for the foreseeable future I can’t see any more 5 star matches like the division was churning out weekly towards the end of 2017.
Hit: Braun Finally Winning Gold.
Strowman was my superstar of the year for 2017, and he won that much coveted award by a country mile. An amazing rivalry with Roman Reigns, months of making Big Show look good, a focal point of the title scene leading into SummerSlam, character development beyond anything we could have expected… he was more than ready to step up and show his potential at the top of a division. The tag team division was a strange place for Strowman to ply his trade, but at the end of the day it was entertaining and it was all we could talk about for weeks leading up to WrestleMania.
Miss: The Way Braun Won Gold.
The fears I had going into Wrestlemania were somewhat vanquished on last night’s RAW. The Bar in no way deserved to lose their titles after holding the weak division together over the last year, so thankfully Strowman and his unlikely partner 10 year old Nicholas (don’t even…) vacated the titles and handed them over to Kurt Angle. This doesn’t change the fact that winning the titles in the first place was the wrong decision. That’s twice in the last few months that champions have relinquished their titles for no good reason at all and it just reeks of creative not planning for the long term. Braun should have been given an opportunity at a singles title rather than diminishing the value of the tag belts. Sheamus and Cesaro were in danger of looking weak and potentially splitting up, but the announcement of a tag team elimination tournament to determine their opponents in Saudi Arabia has gone a small way to keeping them relevant.
Ember Moon. No Way Jose. Bobby Lashley. Jeff Hardy. Samoa Joe. Authors of Pain. Owens & Zayn… now that’s how you book a post ‘Mania RAW! Moon adds legitimacy to a women’s division which was becoming staler and staler by the month and should be a good challenger to Nia Jax’s newly claimed throne. Jose was a fun appearance as he swept aside and unnamed jobber, but hopefully it will turn out to be a one off appearance. Lashley received a great reaction and his interaction with Elias was absolute fire, with him looking more dominating than ever. Jeff’s return was a personal highlight for me, albeit a fairly pointless and confusing one, Unless he is going to be entered into the Intercontinental Championship scene, his appearance achieved nothing.
Samoa Joe has been desperately missed. The best natural heel that RAW has, and his interaction with Reigns was phenomenal. If Reigns wins the title in Saudi Arabia, Joe will be a fantastic first challenger. AOP was a predictable but nonetheless awesome debut. The RAW tag division has desperately needed new blood for a long, long time. Akam and Rezar will certainly bring plenty of blood to the table… other people’s blood. It’ll also be interesting to see the fall out from their dismissal of Paul Ellering… will he take charge of another team? Owens and Zayn was a fun little segment with a great match to boot, and with neither man coming away with a RAW contract it should lead to a few weeks of them invading the show until Kurt Angle eventually gives in and grants them their wish.
An absolutely fantastic episode of RAW.
Miss: The Dream Match Turned Into A Nightmare.
AJ Styles v Shinsuke Nakamura is, on paper, potentially the greatest match ever. So it’s a shame that the end product was completely and utterly average. Horrendous build up for months and months, the lac of interaction between the two and no real intensity really did the match a disservice. The crowd weren’t that into it, it was placed in an unusual slot on the card and was yet another case of WWE flattering to deceive. The saving grace here was Nakamura’s unexpected heel turn, which certainly ignited a little interest for me in an another very standard feud. Face v face never works particularly well in the first place. The Superstar Shake Up is going to have to conjur up something pretty special to make this WWE Championship scene worth watching. Finn Balor anybody?
Hit: Charlotte Ending The Streak.
THANKYOU CHARLOTTE. WWE’s best decision of the night by far. Asuka is the most overrated wrestler, male or female, of all time in my eyes. I’ve not seen anything to back up everyone’s claims that she is the best thing since sliced sex, regardless of how much you like to jizz over her time wrestling in Japan, and it would’ve been a crying shame to see her defeat the best female superstar of the last decade. This result went a loooong way to back up my long standing opinion that WWE don’t know how to plan for the long term. An Asuka win would’ve done absolutely nothing for SDLive. Charlotte has struggled to impress on the blue brand at times because of the lack of serious competition… so what the hell would Asuka have done?
We also didn’t see a Carmella cash in, which was strange considering she tries to cash it in every 17 seconds on SDLive. What does it mean for her? She isn’t ready to be a champion, shes barely ready to be a superstar at all.
Miss: The Far From Phenomenal Return Of The Phenom.
What the hell was this? I wasn’t expecting a 30 minute epic, nor did I want one to be honest, but this was essentially a squash match. With some of the worst build I’ve ever seen for an Undertaker match, the first hour of WrestleMania was all about seeing John Cena sat in the crowd like a ‘fan’. He even interrupted Charlotte’s absolutely massive moment en route to the back of the arena. Disrespectful on WWE’s part. The worst part of all this mess is that we will likely see a rematch at next year’s event so Cena can try and achieve some sort of vindication akin to HHH and Shawn Michaels in their encounters with The Deadman. The only positive to this match was that Elias got to be a part of something huge and appear at ‘Mania at the same time.
The match didn’t need to happen, and it may aswell not have done. Was the idea to allow Taker to win and make up for losses to Reigns and Lesnar? If so, it didn’t work. 10 more wins wouldn’t work, because at the end of the day his wins could be 50 but the losses will always be 2. WWE have destroyed the legitimacy of arguably the greatest of all time and his legacy means much less than it used to.
The Streak Part 4: Darkness Falls – 1998-99
Tiffany MC brings you the next two matches as part of The Streak, as The Undertaker battles Kane and the Big Boss Man at WrestleMania!
The years of 1998-99 were turbulent times for WWF and the Undertaker. The Monday Night Wars, started by the advent of WCW Monday Nitro were heating up and the question of which company would prevail was on everyone’s mind. In order to compete, WWE began featuring edgier, sexier, more reality based storylines.
For the Undertaker, this meant the introduction of his long-lost brother, Kane, setting off a storyline and partnership that has lasted 20 years and had more twists and turns than a daytime drama. Also in these years, Taker would reunite with Paul Bearer and unleash his disturbing Ministry of Darkness on the WWF, igniting a feud with Vince McMahon, which would culminate in one of the most shocking reveals in wrestling history.
WrestleMania XIV: Cain vs Abel Part 1: Of all the matches Taker had in this period, this WrestleMania match with Kane is not only one of the best in terms of quality, but had a very compelling storyline. The story has become a little convoluted over the years and there have been a lot of twists and turns, but the story in 1998 was this: Undertaker and Kane were brothers, there was a fire at the funeral home their parents owned, their parents were killed and Undertaker thought Kane had been killed as well, but Kane had only been horribly burned. Paul Bearer nursed Kane back to health and raised him while encouraging his hatred of his older brother.
When it was revealed to Taker that Kane was not only alive, but looking for revenge, he actually refused to fight his brother due to a promise he’d once made to their parents. It wasn’t until Kane and Paul Bearer cost Taker the WWF Championship at Royal Rumble 1998 and set the casket containing Taker on FIRE, did Taker finally fight back and vowed to unleash unholy vengeance on his brother and his former manager.
Before this match gets started, we’re introduced to Pete Rose, who was going to be guest ring announcer for this. Ol’ Charley Hustle was never afraid to shoot his mouth off and proceeded to insult the Boston fans and the Boston Red Sox, who at that time hadn’t won a World Series in 80 years. Before the riot could get going, Kane came out and attacked Rose and Tombstoning him, much to the delight of the crowd.
Taker’s entrance was simply AMAZING! It was such a cool entrance that a clip of it was used in WrestleMania promo videos for a few years. It started with a Gregorian chant while the druids, with lit torches, came out and since there was a long entrance ramp at WrestleMania XIV, there were a lot of druids when the chanting reached its crescendo, the lights went out and the gong started. Taker came down the ramp in a coat that made him look like Dracula, but it looked SUPER cool with all the lit torches.
Taker’s matches are never pretty or extremely technical, and this match was no exception. It started with punches and shoves and stayed there. Kane dominated much of the match and caught Taker during a crossbody attempt. Kane had the Tree of Woe in mind but the 6’10” Undertaker was way to tall for that.
Kane did a really great job of hanging with Taker on a big stage, but he was definitely a little rough around the edges. It wasn’t quite ‘Do I Owe You Money?’ territory, but it was close.
Throughout the match, Paul Bearer made his presence known, chastising Undertaker throughout the match in that annoying voice of his and getting in some cheap shots whenever the ref wasn’t looking. Have to say that Bearer was clearly whiffing a lot of his punches, but Taker sold his butt off anyway.
The match went out to the floor, but Jack Doan was very reluctant to do a count or do anything other than get out of the way. Even using the steps Kane had thrown to get back in the ring.
One of the craziest parts of the match was Taker going for the running dive and being…directed into the Spanish announce table, which was being manned by WWF Legend Tito Santana, who kept doing commentary on the floor while his colleagues tried to get up.
Taker’s self-preservation would finally kick in, but it would take THREE Tombstone piledrivers to put Kane away, and Kane still nearly kicked out at the last possible second.
Enraged at his son’s defeat, Paul Bearer grabbed a chair and attacked the Undertaker just for the hell of it. Kane joined in the attack and Taker was left in a heap in the ring, which made the win over his demented brother less than the sterling victory he’d wanted. However, Taker sat up and was able to leave the ringside area under his own steam.
Highlight: Pete Rose being a damn good sport and taking that tombstone like a champ. Taker’s entrance. Tito Santana continuing to do commentary in the wreckage of the Spanish Announce Table.
Rating: 7/10 This was a fantastic match and my favorite of Taker’s WrestleMania matches in the 1990s.
WrestleMania XV – Boss Man Goes to Hell: This match came about through one of the most disturbing storylines of the Attitude Era. The Undertaker had reunited with Paul Bearer and became the Lord of Darkness. Then he began recruiting superstars to form The Ministry of Darkness, which would be the launching pad for teams like Edge and Christian and the APA. Taker began demanding that Vince give him a title shot and began targeting Vince’s family, specifically Vince’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon. In an attempt to end the threat, Vince sanctioned the first ever WrestleMania Hell in a Cell Match and sent the Corporation’s Chief of Security, the Big Boss Man to end the threat of the Undertaker.
Boss Man comes out and still didn’t get in a great reaction, despite being the nominal babyface in this match. Undertaker, despite being a very scary heel, got a pretty good pop when the gong hit, though the pop died a little during the ‘Accept the Lord of Darkness’ stuff. Undertaker came out looking like a 90s horror film maker’s idea of Satan.
I’m going to be honest, I really hated this match. I wasn’t a fan of Taker’s Satanic stuff and that killed my enjoyment of this match. Boss Man, though being a good half a head shorter than Taker was still large enough to really be able to take it to Taker, including cuffing Taker to the cell and beating him with the nightstick. One funny thing was Taker going for Old School and then realizing that he was too tall to be able to pull that move in the cell, which was much shorter then, and then getting nut shot by Boss Man.
That said, this was a pretty good Hell in a Cell match and it was as brutal as you’d expect it to be in the days when bloody matches were a staple of WWE shows.
It wasn’t until after the match was over that the thing I hated most about this match happened. The Brood (Edge, Christian, and Gangrel) descended from the rafters and helped Taker ‘hang’ Boss Man from a noose from the roof of the cell. Even knowing that Boss Man had a harness on and wasn’t in any real danger, the sight of that…lynching was so disturbing that I can hardly stand to watch it. If I had to consider who would think that was ‘edgy’ and not ‘disturbing’, I’d say this spot came from the brain of Vince Russo.
Highlight: It ended.
Rating: 4/10 The match was fine, but I HATED what happened afterwards.
Steve Cook’s 2012 WWE Royal Rumble Road Trip
Steve Cook takes you on a stroll down memory lane as he attends the 2012 WWE Royal Rumble live and in person!
It’s Royal Rumble Week! If you’re anything like me you get nostalgic during these huge events in the wrestling year. We can’t help but think about some of our favorite Royal Rumble memories. Ric Flair winning the WWF Championship in the 1992 Rumble still rates as my favorite match ever. I watch it at least once or twice a year. Stone Cold Steve Austin’s various Rumble victories were a highlight of my teenage years. I think I can mention now that I watched them on a black box of questionable legality.
The one I remember most has to be the 2012 Royal Rumble. Internet experts might not agree with the idea of it being memorable. 2012 wasn’t one of the more well-received editions of the event. I might not remember it either if I wasn’t there. Oddly enough, I still have many fond memories of my trip to St. Louis. Since I was nowhere near sober for most of the weekend, this surprises me.
I thought it would be fun to dip into the archives and take a look back at that trip. The following originally appeared in the 02.01.12 edition of News From Cook’s Corner. If you’d like to read more of my classic writing, or even more of my recent stuff, 411mania.com has plenty of both.
The Royal Rumble has always been one of my favorite events of the year. There’s nothing quite like the Rumble Match, where thirty wrestlers enter in intervals to determine who will challenge for the WWE or the World title at WrestleMania. I’ve always wanted to see it live, but never had the opportunity until this year. The Rumble was in St. Louis, Missouri, which is a couple of states over from where I live and a couple of hours from the home of my Offtheteam.com podcasting partner and best Internet friend, Trent “The Penguin” Howell. I hadn’t seen ol’ Trent in person since we went to a Raw house show back in 2004, so going to the Rumble with him seemed like a darn good idea.
I spent a lot of time before the trip worrying about the weather for the 6+ hour drive to Cape Girardeau. Weather is always an issue in this part of the country this time of year, but I was blessed with clear skies and decent temperatures for the trip. Saturday night in Cape was pretty fun, we hit a couple bars once Trent finally got the headlight on his motor vehicle working after two trips to an auto part store. Trent’s wife joined us later in the evening and she was even cooler than he said she was. If you think AJ’s attractive you’d like her, as they’re the same size. Better-looking face too. Trent did good there.
On Sunday we headed up to St. Louis and set up camp in Harrah’s. I haven’t been to too many casinos in my day, but I might have to make that happen more often because the vibe there was awesome. Even if they rob you blind they’re really nice about it. They’ll give you a bottle of water when they close the bar at 3 AM. (By the way, if you’ve listened to our OTT podcasts and think we’re ridiculous, you should hear us talking sports & politics at 3 AM after a long, long night.) The chicken fingers I had at 2 AM really hit the spot. Making things even better was the fact that they were having a Chinese New Year’s celebration and the place was full of fine Asian chicks. Chinese New Year’s is my new favorite holiday.
But you’re not here to read about my casino adventure with the Penguins, you want some Royal Rumble thoughts! We were joined for the show by Trent’s friend Shawn and Andy Critchell, Larry Csonka’s Monday night 411 on Wrestling co-host. Andy is a very jovial fella and went absolutely crazy for Mark Henry, so he was pretty much what I expected. Good dude. I thought the crowd was really good but apparently it didn’t come across that way on TV for whatever reason. It was a pretty smart crowd, one that started chanting about how Cena sucked before the show started. The people around us were pretty good…there was somebody in front of me that held up a sign early on, but I approved because it said “I Paid To See Daniel Bryan”. If you want to block my view for a couple of minutes during a three-hour show I won’t mind if you have something that’s worth saying. I thought the crowd was a lot better than the crowds I’ve been part of in places like Cincinnati & Lexington, where people actually don’t respond to much of anything. People were reacting to stuff here, and all of us were going crazy at various points in the show.
Dark Match: Yoshi Tatsu d. Heath Slater
This would have fit right in on Superstars for sure. It wasn’t spectacular or anything, but both guys worked hard and it definitely wasn‘t bad. Yoshi was quite popular with the crowd and Heath got a good heel reaction. For all I know this might actually be a feud on NXT. I like Yoshi a lot, and Heath’s going to be around for awhile because he’s good at making other people look good.
Triple Threat Cage Match: World Champion Daniel Bryan d. Big Show & Mark Henry
With Mark Henry hurt and Big Show reportedly hurt, it was on Daniel Bryan to put on a show and he did just that. D-Bry got a hell of a mixed reaction from the St. Louis crowd, as boos dominated his entrance but there were a few loud “DANIEL BRYAN CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP” chants during the match. Like I told Larry (Csonka) people can’t say that he doesn’t get a reaction now. Well, they can say it, but they’re wrong. I question the reports of Big Show being hurt because he looked pretty good here and even got his 450-pound butt on top of the cage. Nice story here, with Bryan constantly trying to get out of the cage early, getting some offense in later, and a great ending sequence with Bryan hanging off the wrist of Big Show. Eventually he fell to the floor and retained the title, and I screamed about how that was my boy D-Bryan. Watching Critchell mark out for Mark Henry in person was quite the experience, and I don’t know what he would have done if Mizark had won.
Beth Phoenix, Natalya & the Bella Twins d. Kelly Kelly, Eve, Alicia Fox & Tamina
— WWE (@WWE) December 31, 2016
I wasn’t sure how they would get the Divas on the show, so we probably should have seen this match coming. This had Kelly Kelly doing a freaking cross-body off the top rope to the floor, so it was better than any Diva match I’d seen in quite awhile. Also, it was nice to see that Beth Phoenix is still alive and they actually had her win the match. Guess it’s time to build her up for her next challenger.
John Cena vs. Kane – Double Countout
I wasn’t feeling this at all going in, and the match & aftermath only made things less interesting. The Cena crowd response was interesting, as they got the LET’S GO CENA/CENA SUCKS chant going a couple of times (For the record, Critchell chanted the former while Penguin and I chanted the latter), but when that wasn’t going on nobody really knew what to do. Match was pretty much what you’d expect, then they went to the back so Kane could drag Zack Ryder out of his locker room and Tombstone him. I had a feeling something would happen to Zack when I saw that he had his own locker room. I guess it was nice that all the people that bought Broski headbands got to see their guy, even if he got Tombstoned.
The stretcher job seemed like a good time to get a t-shirt, but the Royal Rumble XXL shirts sold out. I probably should have seen that one coming. Fortunately I got back in time for the next match…
Funkasaurus d. Drew McIntyre
I was happy when Drew came out, then Funkasaurus came out and I lost my shit. You can’t help it, that song will get stuck in your head for days and how many chances will you have to dance along with a Funkasaurus? Hell yes I did the Dactyl arms. I got my Funkasaurus entrance so I didn’t have to start a riot or anything. Good times. I love the Funkasaurus and I’m so happy I got to see him do his thing live.
There were quite a few people wearing their James Laurinaitis St. Louis Rams jerseys at the show, but that didn’t stop John Laurinaitis from getting booed out of the building when he came out. He had to wear the sleeveless ref shirt so he could show off the guns!
CM Punk d. Dolph Ziggler
— Colt – Wrestling Coverage (@WWEColt) April 20, 2017
This got off to a really great start and most of it was enjoyable, but the overbooking at the end drug it down a bit. Of course that was to be expected with Big Johnny out there as the ringside enforcer, but it seemed kind of blah to me. Some darn good wrestling led up to it, but it didn’t quite live up to the MOTYC potential that most of us thought it had. Punk was rather popular. Ziggler had a solid performance, but as good as he is I don’t think he’s quite ready to carry Raw’s main title yet. He could be very soon, but he doesn’t quite have that connection with the audience.
As somebody who has watched CM Punk & Daniel Bryan compete on ROH shows with about 500 people at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds and at an IWA-MS show in a national guard armory with somewhere around 50 people, it was incredible to see both of them retaining their world championships with 18,120 other people in a huge arena. People often ask me why I bother with that indy wrestling stuff that isn‘t as slickly produced as WWE or Impact Wrestling, and that’s the reason. To see guys like Punk & Bryan go from performing at county fairgrounds & national guard armories to huge arenas…it’s a beautiful thing.
Royal Rumble Match
— WWE (@WWE) April 18, 2018
It was 55 minutes, so it’s best if I cover it in the Raw Thoughts format…
-Miz had a long run in the match and was the Iron Man by a couple of minutes over Cody Rhodes, but he didn’t do a whole lot for most of it. He laid on the floor for awhile after R-Truth took him out, then he got back in the ring and laid around most of the time. It’s like most of Miz’s career…he accomplishes stuff like winning the WWE title and headlining WrestleMania, but it doesn’t quite connect the way it should.
-I called Alex Riley being number two, and he lasted about as long as I expected.
-Cody had a much more impressive showing at number four, as he was active most of the time and threw out a pretty good collection of legends. Something tells me he’ll be feuding with a veteran at WrestleMania. It might be his brother Goldust, or perhaps his elimination of Mick Foley will lead to something. Either could work pretty well.
-Ricardo Rodriguez was fantastic. I thought it was actually ADR at first because I didn’t see just how wrecked the car was. I wonder if WWE expected a “RICARDO” chant.
-Socko vs. the Cobra got a tremendous reaction. I guess Santino started wearing the cobra sock just for that spot. Why not?
-Kofi Kingston needs to be doing something since his tag partner‘s having issues, and if Sunday’s Rumble performance & Monday’s victory over The Miz are any indication WWE gets that too. The walking handstand to remain in the Rumble was insane.
-I don’t need to see another Khali/Jinder feud, but at least Khali eliminated Jinder from the match. Speaking of which, WWE has some interesting wrestlers on the sides of their semis:
Kane (without mask)
There are some more I’m forgetting, but there were some interesting choices. They also have a couple of Rock/Cena WrestleMania semis.
-I know some of you guys didn’t like having all the announcers in, but the crowd went crazy for Lawler & Booker and booed the hell out of Cole. We were glad not to have to listen to them all night, but it would have been interesting to hear how they handled things when they all got back to the announce table.
-Hacksaw & Road Dogg got huge pops (and apparently Road Dogg still has it), but to me the biggest surprise in the Rumble by far was Kharma. We were actually talking about her earlier in the day while explaining the current storylines to Mrs. Penguin, and weren’t sure when she’d be coming back. Good job by her keeping that a secret, and the Implant Buster on Dolph Ziggler was tremendous.
Not a fan of the new Wade Barrett music. He finally had a decent re-mix of his old theme so I guess it was time to change it.
-People in the crowd were getting way too excited over who #30 would be. I told them not to get their hopes up, but no, they were sure that it’d be Batista or Rey Mysterio or somebody else making a big comeback. So they were pretty disappointed when it was Big Show.
-They saved a whole lot of the heavy-hitters for the end of the match, but it made sense to keep Orton’s return appearance a bit brief and it was Jericho’s first real in-ring action since September 2010. Not that you could tell, because the ending sequence with Jericho vs. Sheamus was the best part of the match. I had no idea who was going to win out of those two, and they showed some damn good chemistry. I’m sure we’ll be seeing it again sometime down the road.
-No Hornswoggle. I’m not really complaining, I’m just saying he wasn’t in the match.
-Sheamus won! He was one of the favorites to win and the person I went with on the podcast, and he’s a fine choice to have in one of the title matches at WrestleMania. I’m hoping it ends up being Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan, as it’d be pretty cool to have a match that got bumped off of WrestleMania XXVII be one of the main events for WrestleMania XXVIII. I was one of the people that thought Sheamus was getting pushed too soon a couple of years back, but he’s proven to be a solid wrestler, a good/unique promo, and he always comes off well as a spokesperson for the company whenever he’s doing radio shows & TV appearances. I, for one, will not be hopping off the Sheamus bandwagon anytime soon. Dude does a good job.
-Of course, if he goes against my boy D-Bry I’ll have to root against him at WrestleMania. But I won’t be too broken-hearted if he gets the win.
-I thought the Rumble match was pretty good overall. The comedy went over pretty well, the stretch with Jericho & Sheamus at the end was awesome, and there was a lot of Cody Rhodes. There were a lot of people in the match that didn’t have a chance of winning, I wouldn’t rate it as one of the greatest Rumble fields of all time or anything like that. It was still put together really well and had some good spots. You would think that yelling the countdown numbers over and over again gets old, but it really doesn’t.
— Steve Cook (@stevecook84) January 22, 2015
After the show we met up with a gentleman from England that goes by “Snowman” on the OTT Forums and headed to the Sheraton for drinks. Yeah, he flew in from England so he could see the Rumble & Raw. That doesn’t suck. The Penguins and I went back to the casino, and that is pretty much the end of our story. There are more stories, but I think I’ll save them for another time…Trent and I are doing a Super Bowl podcast on Thursday night so I’m sure we’ll be talking about some of the crazy things that happened then.
If I had to rate the weekend on a scale from 1-10, it would come in at about an 11 because I had so much fun. I can officially cross the Royal Rumble off of my wrestling bucket list. And hey, as Trent said, maybe St. Louis will host a WrestleMania after they build another football stadium for the team they get after the Rams leave. So there’s hope I can see one of those too.
…St. Louis ain’t getting no WrestleMania.
Can you believe I still had a full news column after this? Man, 2012 was great if you liked reading lots & lots of words about wrestling.