Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Royal Rumble 2011
Date: January 30, 2011
Location: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Commentators: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, Matt Striker
It’s an interesting choice for the annual redo as 2011 is kind of a forgotten time. This was something closer to a transitional period for the company as they were trying some different people in the World Title scene, hence why the Miz is defending here. Other than that we need a card for Wrestlemania and things will start here, with the only edition of the Royal Rumble with FORTY entrants. Let’s get to it.
The opening video looks at how winning the Royal Rumble can send you on the Road to Wrestlemania. The big draw is the forty man Rumble, which sounds more long than thrilling.
Smackdown World Title: Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler
Edge (in a rare face role) is defending while Ziggler has Edge’s ex-wife (and his current girlfriend, as well as acting GM of Smackdown) in his corner. Since Vickie is rather evil, Edge loses the title if he uses a spear. They trade some shots to the ribs to start with Ziggler hammering him down in the corner, only to get whipped hard into the other corner. The announcers proceed to talk about Vickie, with Striker bragging about getting along with Lawler for a change.
Ziggler gets sent to the apron and Edge slips through the legs to send him face first onto said apron. Back in and a neckbreaker gives Ziggler two as neither is exactly pulling away so far. A boot to the face and a hanging neckbreaker keep Edge down and we’re already on the chinlock. That’s broken up and it’s a catapult to send Ziggler into the buckle, only for him to grab another neckbreaker for two more.
The chinlock goes on again as the neck work continues. At least he’s sticking with something. Ziggler sends him outside, rams him into the barricade, and grabs another chinlock. Edge finally gets up and hits a double crossbody to put them both down. The missed Stinger Splash makes it even worse for Ziggler and a flapjack puts him down again. I love a good flapjack so points for that. A jawbreaker gets Ziggler out of trouble but the running Fameasser is countered into a sitout powerbomb for two more.
Edge heads up top, shrugs off a superplex attempt, and hits a high crossbody with Ziggler rolling through for two. Striker gets WAY too excited over a not very near fall, but that’s Striker for you. Ziggler dropkicks him for two more but Edge is right back with the Edgecator (it’s been awhile on that one), sending Ziggler straight to the ropes. Back up and Ziggler hits the Fameasser for two and the fans are getting into things for the first time.
A big boot puts Ziggler down but Edge has to stop himself form using the spear, instead going with the Edgecution for two, with Vickie pulling the referee out. Vickie gets on the apron to slap the already annoyed Edge, drawing out Edge’s friend Kelly Kelly for the catfight. The distraction lets Ziggler hit a Zig Zag for two in a rather hot near fall.
The sleeper goes on but the referee gets bumped just before Edge jawbreaks his way to freedom. There’s no referee and no Vickie and there’s the spear to cut Ziggler down. Cole: “COME ON REF YOU FOOL!” The referee gets up and it’s an Unprettier to retain Edge’s title at 20:44.
Rating: B. This took some time to get going but the drama was there near the end. That being said, I’m not big on the idea being Edge can’t use the spear and then “oh well he used it anyway”. In this case there would actually be some fallout though so points for that for a change. It was a great example of the Royal Rumble World Title match: not an epic, but a good solid match that had some drama before the hero retained in the end.
We recap the Miz vs. Randy Orton for the Raw World Title. Miz cashed in Money in the Bank on Orton to win the title back in November and then beat him again to retain at TLC in a tables match. Tonight it’s just a singles match, because WWE didn’t know how to build to a gimmick match back then either. The idea here is that Miz is in WAY over his head but he’s ready to prove himself on the big stage.
Miz talks about how unfair his title reign has been because everyone says he shouldn’t be here. Riley promises Miz will win.
Raw World Title: The Miz vs. Randy Orton
Orton is challenging and Miz has Alex Riley (sweet goodness what could have been) in his corner. I had forgotten how annoying/stupid Cole as the Miz superfan really was. It’s also weird to not hear the “QUIET ON THE SET” intro to Miz’s music. Orton unloads on him in the corner to start as Cole wants Lawler to call this one down the middle. They head outside with Miz being rammed into the apron for two and Orton starts kicking at the ribs.
A catapult sends Miz throat first into the bottom rope as Cole talks about Miz being able to brawl if you want him do. Striker: “Who comes up to someone and says ‘I want to brawl with you.’?” And that’s why Striker is a pest. Orton stomps away but Riley, who went to Boston College, snaps Orton’s neck across the ropes to a big pop. A missed charge in the corner lets Miz stomp away and there’s the running corner clothesline for two. Miz chokes away as Cole compares the basketball games that Miz and Lawler are invited to.
Riley cheats again so Cole high fives him as Miz grabs a chinlock. A knee to the ribs and another to the face get two apiece and it’s back to the chinlock. That lets Cole compare Miz to Lou Thesz, Bob Backlund, Steve Austin and DX rolled into one. Ok he can be annoying but when he turns it up that high, it can be a little funny. Orton fights out but walks into a big boot for two. Miz gets crotched on top though and a superplex brings Miz down for two more.
The backbreaker sets up the hanging DDT but Miz backdrops his way out of trouble. Back in and a top rope ax handle gives Miz two more and he hammers away. Now it’s a reverse chinlock to really mix things up a bit. They head outside again with Orton bouncing off the post for a nine count, allowing him to come back in with a Thesz press and right hands. The powerslam sets up the Garvin Stomp and a big knee drop gets two.
Neither finisher can hit so Orton goes with an Angle Slam of all things. Miz tries to bail so Orton clotheslines him down and throws him back inside for two more. Now the hanging DDT connects and the RKO is loaded up, but here’s the New Nexus for a distraction. Riley tries to come in so Orton throws him at the team, leaving Miz to take the RKO. Cue CM Punk, the leader of the New Nexus, with a GTS to Orton so Miz can retain at 19:50. Cole is literally jumping up and down in celebration.
Rating: C-. I’m a big Miz fan but some of these main event level matches just do not hold up all that well. What we got here wasn’t terrible but it also hit a firm ceiling and needed to be at least five minutes shorter. The ending set up something for the future and Orton vs. Punk should be good, but Miz still feels like he’s in over his head. That can make for a good heel, but the matches aren’t often the best.
Miz is stunned that he survived.
Cody Rhodes is too devastated by his recent facial injury at Rey Mysterio’s legs that he won’t be appearing tonight. It was his time to shine but now he will wait in the shadows. That’s the start of what could have been an incredibly awesome character. We wound up getting just an awesome one, so I’ll take what I can get.
Fans pick their Rumble winners. Some of them even gets them right.
Divas Title: Laycool vs. Natalya
Laycool is challenging after Natalya beat them in a handicap match at Survivor Series. Striker doesn’t think much of Natalya, again showing that Striker doesn’t need to exist. Hold on though as we have a message from the Anonymous Raw GM. There are a few changes to the match.
Divas Title: Layla vs. Michelle McCool vs. Eve Torres vs. Natalya
Natalya is defending and it is one fall to a finish. Laycool jumps them to start and takes over early on with Layla feeding Eve in for a clothesline from Michelle. A double Stroke plants Eve again as Striker asks Lawler to politely assess the Divas assets. Natalya gets back up and Striker tries to analyze things in that annoying way that only he can do so. Laycool clears the ring and that means it’s time for the awkward staredown.
That’s broken up as Natalya trips Layla and Eve rolls Michelle up for two. Natalya sweeps Eve’s legs but has to stack Layla on top of her for the double Sharpshooter. That’s broken up in a hurry as Lawler calls the hold a great photo op. Layla’s Layout puts Eve on the floor but Natalya is back up to take Laycool down. Michelle kicks Layla by mistake but Eve sends Natalya and Michelle outside. Eve’s moonsault finishes Layla at 5:12, even as Michelle has Natalya pinned at the same time.
Rating: C. This was a weird time for the women as they were far better in the ring than they were before but no one cared about this and the division was used as nothing more than filler. The wrestling wasn’t bad and there was a story, but you could see how unimportant all of this was in the grand scheme of things. I do miss Laycool though.
United States Champion Daniel Bryan, with girlfriend Gail Kim (oh yeah that was a thing), is ready to go from NXT rookie to World Champion, when the Bellas come in to apologize for trying to steal Bryan last week. The fight breaks out because they suggest they’re better than Gail, with referees not being able to break it up.
And now, the always popular (with me at least) Rumble By The Numbers:
656 losing entrants
39 eliminations by Shawn, a record
26 WWE Hall of Famers who have competed
183,932lbs that has competed in the Rumble, or 92 tons or 492 Big Shows
2 women who have competed in the Rumble
11 eliminations by Kane in 2001, a record
13 straight Rumbles for Kane, also a record
62:12 Mysterio lasted in the 2006 Rumble
1 second, the record for shortest time in the Rumble, held by Santino Marella
3 wins by Austin
2, the number of wins that spot #1 has produced, the same as #30
70% of winners have gone on to win the title at Wrestlemania
Forty entrants, ninety second intervals and CM Punk is in at #1 but here’s the Corre, as in all four of them, to surround the ring and jump him. The rest of the New Nexus comes in and the brawl is on but the GM emails in to say everyone but Punk needs to get out or be disqualified. Can you be disqualified from the Rumble? Anyway, Daniel Bryan is in at #2 for the geek out start. Punk shoulders him down to start and shouts as Striker talks about the internet loving this match.
Bryan grabs a fireman’s carry but can’t get Punk out as the CM PUNK chants start up in a hurry. A missile dropkick puts Punk down and it’s Justin Gabriel (of the Corre) in at #3. That means Punk gets beaten down in the corner but Gabriel misses the 450, allowing Bryan to toss him without much trouble. Zack Ryder, now a cocky heel with some song about a radio, is in at #4 and goes after Punk as well. Bryan breaks that up as well but tosses Ryder at Punk for an assisted Rough Ryder. Not that it matters as Bryan throws Ryder out a few seconds later.
William Regal is in at #5 and Striker is very pleased. Regal and Bryan uppercut it out and the internet smiles even more. Ted DiBiase Jr., with girlfriend Maryse is in at #6 and I’m having so many weird flashbacks to this forgotten era. Bryan kicks at Regal as DiBiase can’t get rid of Punk in a tag match I don’t really need to see. With that going nowhere, John Morrison is in at #7 and of course slingshots in to kick Regal in the head.
Morrison is sent outside in a hurry but he hangs onto the barricade like Spider-Man, crawls to the side, gets to his feet on the barricade, and dives to the steps for the save, inspiring a Jamaican named Kofi Kingston for years to come. As he defies….well something, Regal is dumped and it’s Yoshi Tatsu (with his AWESOME theme song) in at #8. We get some near eliminations with neither going anywhere so Husky Harris (New Nexus member) in in at #9. Striker: “If this kid looks like this at 23, what’s he going to look like at 30?” Eh bigger beard, carrying a lantern, kind of cultish. Maybe answers to the name Bray.
Harris cleans a bit of house and we rush to the next entry, with commentary pointing out how fast it is between Harris’ entry and Chavo Guerrero (the second Smackdown name, after Gabriel) coming in at #10. That gives us Punk, Bryan, DiBiase, Morrison, Tatsu, Harris, Henry and Chavo. Guerrero goes with Three Amigos to everyone he can find, with probably a dozen or so total. Striker: “Chavo Guerrero with a Royal Rumble moment!” Stop, please. Like, please. Mark Henry is in at #11 and this should clear the ring out a bit. Chavo is out in a hurry and Tatsu follows him until JTG is in at #12.
Everyone punches a lot and it’s Michael McGillicutty (Curtis Axel, also of the New Nexus) in at #13. JTG is dropkicked out in a hurry and the rest of the entrants start realizing that the New Nexus is getting too strong. DiBiase is backdropped out and it’s Chris Masters (HE STILL HAD A JOB???) in at #14. The Masterlock (not the Masterpiece Cole) has Punk in trouble but McGillicutty makes the save. David Otunga (ALSO New Nexus) is in at #15 and Punk gets rid of Bryan.
Masters follows him and the team dumps Morrison. That leaves New Nexus vs. Henry and it goes as well as you would expect for Mark, with the team clearing the ring. Tyler Reks (I barely remember him) is in at #16 and goes out as fast as you would expect. Vladimir Kozlov is in at #17 and gets the exact same treatment. R-Truth is in at #18 and manages to last a full minute (including Punk hitting a running knee in the corner and shouting “WHAT’S UP”) before getting tossed out.
Great Khali comes in at #19 for the hope spot and Punk hides behind Otunga in a smart move. Otunga goes at Khali, who isn’t smart enough to pull him out because he’s rather shove him away. Harris gets eliminated though but Mason Ryan (a musclehead from Wales and the final member of the New Nexus in the greatest luck of Rumble draws ever) is in at #20. That gives us Punk, McGillicutty, Otunga, Ryan and Khali but Ryan puts Khali out in a hurry. Booker T. returns in a huge surprise (and the kind that you need in the Royal Rumble) at #21 and Punk drops to his knees in panic.
Booker kicks everyone he can and gets in a Spinarooni but Punk and Ryan get him out. Punk smiles a lot (“WE’RE GOING TO WRESTLEMANIA!”)….and John Cena is in at #22. Cena counts all four of them and charges into the ring anyway with Ryan, Otunga and McGillicutty being knocked out in seconds, leaving Punk all alone. The eyes are bugging out and this is one heck of an underrated showdown. They knock each other down in a hurry and it’s Hornswoggle in at #23, playing Barbarian to Cena and Punk’s Hogan and Warrior.
Punk gets up and kicks Hornswoggle in the head, only to walk into an AA for the elimination. Tyson Kidd is in at #24 and gets double teamed, including a headscissors from Hornswoggle and an AA from Cena. Hornswoggle even gets in his own AA and Kidd is gone in a hurry. Heath Slater (Corre) is in at #25, takes a beating, and is out in less than a minute. Kofi Kingston comes in at #26 in a showdown that would be way more interesting nine years later (Daily trivia: Cena and Kofi have never had a singles match. You would think it would have happened in a one off at some point).
Kofi and Cena knock each other down and it’s Jack Swagger in at #27 to not do much, meaning it’s King Sheamus in at #28. Hornswoggle kicks him in the leg and gets Brogue Kicked out so Sheamus and Swagger can beat up the heroes. Rey Mysterio is in at #29 to pick up the pace and knock down everyone not named Sheamus, who blasts him with a clothesline. Trouble in Paradise puts Sheamus down instead and a 619 eliminates Swagger. Wade Barrett (the Corre’s leader) is in at #30, giving us Cena, Kingston, Sheamus, Mysterio and Barrett for a nice talent pool.
Kofi stomps Barrett down in the corner and it’s a banged up Dolph Ziggler in at #31. Mysterio saves Cena from being eliminated (with commentary talking about how smart he is to know you need friends in a match like this)….and DIESEL is in at #32 to a huge pop, which wound up wrecking a major storyline later in the year (Who would have called that?). Diesel cleans house to a big pop and it’s Drew McIntyre (almost unrecognizable compared to how he looks today) to hammer away, even as the LET’S GO DIESEL chants keep going.
Alex Riley is in at #34 and Miz joins him as Diesel is tossed out. Miz joins commentary and it’s Big Show in at #35. Sheamus and McIntyre are waiting on him as Striker and Cole talk over each other so much that I actually can’t understand either of them. I know Cole is a character at this point but he’s lead commentator. In other words, again, shut up Striker. Show dumps McIntyre and it’s Ezekiel Jackson (a big musclehead, also of the Corre) in at #36 to dump Show in a hurry.
Santino Marella is in at #37 and gets knocked to the floor (not out) almost immediately. Alberto Del Rio (still brand new here) is in at #38 with Ricardo Rodriguez handling his intro. Riley is eliminated during his entrance and Mysterio spends too much time staring at Del Rio, allowing Sheamus to hit him from behind. Del Rio’s entrance takes so long that it’s Randy Orton in at #39 for the parade of RKOs.
Kofi and Sheamus are both out and it’s Kane in at #40, giving us a final grouping of Cena, Mysterio, Barrett, Jackson, Marella, Del Rio, Orton and Kane (not too bad). Cena and Orton stare at him but he knocks both of them down without much trouble. Jackson can’t slam Kane and gets low bridged out (Striker: “That’s huge!” That’s the third time he’s used those same words to describe an elimination.).
Mysterio gets rid of Kane but Barrett dumps him as well, leaving us with Orton, Cena, Barrett, Del Rio and Marella (still on the floor). Cena and Orton have a showdown with nowhere near the heat of Punk vs. Cena from earlier but Barrett suplexes Cena to break that up.
There’s an AA to Del Rio but Riley comes back down for a distraction, allowing Miz to dump Cena. Rock would be back in two weeks so I think Cena will be fine. Orton gets rid of Barrett but Del Rio throws him out….as Santino crawls back in. Santino crosses himself and hits the Cobra (as taught to him by Jon Lovitz). The Trombone pose takes too long though and Del Rio throws him out for the win at 1:09:51. I lost my mind when Santino snuck back in watching this live and bought it completely, so they had a great idea with this one. He was already a Tag Team Champion so pushing him wasn’t out of the question.
Rating: B. This is a weird one as you could say cut out the extra ten people and it’s a classic but if you cut out the ten people, you probably don’t have the awesome New Nexus deal, which set them up as a threat and made Cena’s entrance that much better (seriously that was awesome). There are a lot of great moments here, but it goes a bit longer than the sweet spot. The winner was WIDE open this year though and that does a lot of good for the match. Oddly enough this should have been about thirty five people, which isn’t something you would often see. Good Rumble though and worth your time.
Rodriguez loses it to end the show.
Overall Rating: B-. The best word to describe this show is forgettable, as other than the Santino spot at the end. The Rumble is rather good and makes the show work, but there are so many people and angles that I can’t remember at all around here and it shows badly. There’s a reason that this era is so forgotten, and Rock coming back to take over things for a few months made it even worse. Punk would rise soon enough, but my goodness this is a completely lost era in a lot of ways. Check out the Rumble, but find something else otherwise.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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