WWE Royal Rumble 2005 1/30/2005

January 30, 2005
Save Mart Center
Fresno, CA
Attendance: 12,000
Buy Rate: 1.02
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole & Tazz

Sunday Night Heat

1) Maven (Maven Huffman) defeats Rhyno (Terry Gerin) in 7:01

Pay Per View

1) Edge (Adam Copeland) defeats Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) with a roll up at 18:32

Fun Fact: This feud continued to escalate on the 1/10 Raw, when Michaels told Edge he needed to stop whining and expect to have things handed to him on a silver platter. Edge didn’t care for the advice and triggered a brawl on the ramp. Things continued the next week when Edge interfered in a match between Michaels and Christian. Even though both men were entered in the Rumble match, they were given a chance here to also settle the score between them.

This is one of many matches that will happen where Shawn Michaels will face someone he’s never seen before. In particular this is someone who established themselves while Shawn was on the shelf from 1998-2002. I thought the writing was kind of on the wall when Edge came back in April that he was eventually going to turn heel. The crowds were lukewarm to his return, and it was clear that some fresh heels were needed on Raw after the imminent face turn of Randy Orton. I thought the match was going to be a crazy all over the place brawl with non-stop action and energy. It wasn’t. The pace was very deliberate and Edge was using a bevy of restholds to grow tension and build drama for the match. I was a little put off on it as I expected the match in fifth gear. Maybe if this wasn’t the Rumble PPV it would have been as it seemed both guys were preserving energy. Well then why make the match eighteen and a half minutes? Make the match like ten or eleven minutes and go all out. Instead we get a long match with long restholds for two guys who rarely use them. Edge hit Michaels with a pretty sweet spear on the floor, although I didn’t understand why Mike Chioda was admonishing Michaels and let Edge walk away. I guess to set the spear up. Later in the match Michaels went for Sweet Chin Music but Edge countered with a nice Electric Chair. The ending was kind of a bummer as Edge wins with a roll-up and some ropes, but he is a heel. An ok match that could have been better, but the feud continues. Grade: 2.5

Justin: This heated feud continues and it still has a fresh feel to it. With Edge in the midst of his first heel solo push, he is bringing the intensity against the man he believes cost him the championship. Both men trade off basic strikes early and both looked good doing so. The match had a bit of a slower pace than I expected it to have, but I guess they could have been conserving some energy for the Rumble. Edge worked a resthold for a while and it draw some good heat, but really halted the flow of things. Michaels had a great comeback as always, featuring some creative near falls. The highlight may have been Edge’s stiff spear on the floor. The hot flurry at the end saves things a bit but the match as a whole felt very disjointed. The finish was weak as well as Edge steals the win, but I guess that plays into his character, as he was just happy to win it and shove it in Shawn’s face. The match was pretty long too so I was a bit disappointed that it was so blasé. Edge gets the win and continues to roll. Both men are ready to move on, but the feud would get one red-hot epic blowoff on TV come February. Grade: 2

*** Backstage, Eddie Guerrero and Ric Flair draw their Rumble numbers. Unhappy with his choice, Eddie pickpockets Flair’s number during a hug and takes off with a presumably better slot. Elsewhere, Snitsky and Heidenreich have another creepy encounter insinuating a potential partnership. ***

2) Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Heidenreich in a Casket Match at 13:19

Fun Fact: On 12/16, Heidenreich took a seat in the ring, read a poem and challenged the Undertaker to a match. It was then announced that the two would meet at the PPV. On 12/30, Heidenreich was in the ring claiming that he was not afraid of Taker. As he rambled on, the lights went down and a casket was wheeled down to the ring. The casket opened, Taker sat up and stared a whole through the spooked Heidenreich. Michael Cole then announced that he thought this intimated the Rumble showdown would be a casket match. On 1/6, Paul Heyman lobbied to have the casket stipulation taken off the match, as Heidenreich was afraid of caskets. Teddy agreed to drop the stipulation if Heidenreich and Heyman could defeat Undertaker that night on Smackdown. During the match, two caskets were wheeled out, driving Heidenreich from the ring. Taker took advantage, dropped Heyman with a Tombstone and putting him in a casket, ensuring the Rumble stipulation would remain in tact. On 1/20, Heidenreich revealed that he had no fear of Undertaker but was quite spooked by caskets. Taker appeared on the screen with an open casket that had a Heidenreich dummy inside of it.

I had said in the Survivor Series 2004 review that I thought Undertaker winning that match kind of quelled that feud, and that for it to effectively continue Heidenreich needed to win that match. Well at Armageddon Heidenreich got back into it by costing Taker the WWE Title in the four-way match. This match was no better at the start than their November match. A slow, lumbering affair with long restholds is broken by the run-in of Snitsky. That helped things a little, then the eventual surprise of Kane coming out of the casket to chase Snitsky off. From there the match picks up with some big power moves, and the cool visual of Taker slamming the casket cover into Heidenreich’s head. Eventually Taker hits the Tombstone and rolls Heidenreich into the casket. Now was this the premonition for a Heidenreich/Snitsky vs. Brothers of Destruction match at Wrestlemania? Stay tuned. This match was not much better than their Survivor Series match. Grade: 2

Justin: Our next match features another feud that is winding down. Heidenreich began involving himself in Taker’s business back in October and has twice cost him the WWE Championship. Taker looks for revenge here and he has the advantage thanks to Teddy Long. Before the match, the druids roll a casket down to ringside. Heidenreich would avoid the casket early as he made it clear he did not fear Taker but was not fond of the casket. After a plethora of strikes and basic offense, Taker would kick things up a notch by locking in a nice triangle choke. As Taker really started to take control, Snitsky interfered, playing off of the meeting prior to the match. As Snitsky was helping drag Taker towards the casket, the lid flew open and Kane popped up to a huge pop. Kane and Snitsky would quickly brawl into the crowd as Heidenreich took advantage and ran the casket into Taker in a nice spot. The highlight of the match had to be Taker’s vicious legdrop onto the casket as Heidenreich’s upper body was jammed inside it. It was stiff looking and made a great sound. Taker worked pretty hard here and the crowd was hot. Despite their limited offense, both men kept moving from bell to bell. The match was better than I expected and was a good blow off to an interesting feud. Taker notches another victory as he just keeps rolling along. Grade: 2

*** Teddy Long makes Eddie return Flair’s number and wallet, which he also stole during the hug. Meanwhile, in Evolution’s locker room, more tension is teased between Triple H and Batista over Batista’s main focus for the night. Back in the lottery room, we get an epic battle rap between Christian and John Cena, giving us the fantastic exchange between Christian and Tomko over the request for a beatbox. ***

3) John Bradshaw Layfield defeats Kurt Angle and Big Show (Paul Wight) to retain WWE Championship when he pins Angle with the Clothesline From Hell at 12:04

Fun Fact: On 12/16, Kurt Angle defeated JBL by DQ in a title match. After the bout, Big Show came down and wiped everybody out in an impressive showing. After some more attacks and verbal duels, Teddy Long announced this match for the PPV. On 12/23, the Cabinet set Kurt Angle up when Amy Weber asked him to meet her in her locker room. When Kurt arrived, he thought May was in the shower, so he stripped down to down to join her. Unfortunately for Kurt, it was Joy that was in the shower and an angry Show went on the warpath for revenge once he found it. Things would spill into the ring and Show would wipe out Team Angle, punching a chair into Angle’s face to cap the beating off. A week later, Kurt Angle got his revenge by setting up JBL with a kidnapping plot for Joy. The plan worked and Show wiped out the Cabinet to close the show. The factions would all go at it again the next week and this time it was Show that left bloodied and out cold as the show ended. On 1/27, Angle and JBL wrestled in a Last Man Standing match that ended in a draw when neither man could answer the count.

Scott: I really enjoyed the build to this match, with all the mind games and all the psychology of getting under Big Show’s skin and then Big Show making JBL and Angle crush each other in a Last Man Standing match on the Smackdown before this show. Now looking back, I miss Joy Giovanni. She was cute and had a rocking body. Amy Weber never did much for me, but I did enjoy Joy. As expected Big Show dominated the action until Angle hit him with a monitor while standing on the steel steps and he crumbled into the announce table. Angle and JBL get into it for a bit till Show gets in the ring and beats the hell out of them. From there it was spot-to-spot with drama in each. I didn’t doubt that JBL was going to win, because you definitely want this long heel reign heading into Wrestlemania. The match loses big time focus when we get crazy run-ins from JBL’s cabinet and Angle’s protégés Jindrak & Reigns. Again the lucky WWE Champion escapes a multi-opponent championship match. Ok, by now I actually liked JBL and his lucky, 80s type heel reign as champion. Grade: 2.5

Justin: Show gets a big pop here, as he was the only face in this intriguing battle. The build for this match was pretty good as all three men got their shots in on the others. Early on, Show overpowered JBL, which was a rare thing for the champion. After dominating for a while, Show would get dumped through a table and a fun little Angle/JBL segment would ensue. The pace was good and the action was hard-hitting. Once he woke up, Show was active and capped off the action with a great shoulder tackle, driving JBL through the ringside barricade. As the Bashams showed up to help their leader, Jindrak and Reigns came out to assist Angle while he battled Show. As Show was taken out, Orlando Jordan rolled JBL into the ring, and he was able to hit a desperation CFH to pick up the abrupt win. JBL survives another month with his gold thanks to the help of his ever-effective Cabinet. This was a fun little match with a good dynamic. I wish it went a little longer as the action was good and the end felt abrupt. JBL is still champ, but as we see in a later segment, his biggest challenge would await him the next month. Grade: 2.5

*** After an interference laden WWE Championship match, Teddy Long starts busting on Eric Bischoff, predicting there will be heavy interference in the next match. Bischoff caves to the pressure and announces that Evolution would be banned from ringside. Batista was also in the room, and he smirks and tells Eric that he would deliver the news to the Game. ***

4) Triple H (Paul Levesque) defeats Randy Orton to retain World Heavyweight Championship with a Pedigree at 21:27

Fun Fact: On 1/10, Triple H was celebrating his title win when Randy Orton interrupted him. Orton showed footage of Hunter allowing Batista to be eliminated, angering Batista as the Game scrambled to deny it. Orton demanded a rematch and Eric Bischoff agreed and announced that Orton and Batista would wrestle the night to determine who would face the Game at the PPV. Orton would win the match after he shoved Batista into Hunter, who was trying to interfere. Things would progress over the following weeks as Orton kept prodding Hunter, who slowly seemed to be losing his grip. Things were made worse for the champ as Batista seemed to be losing more faith in his mentor with each passing day. On 1/24, Hunter tried to force himself upon Stacy Kiebler and bully Jim Ross, who was being honored in his home state. Hunter bragged later to Batista, who wasn’t impressed with the story and he let his mentor know it. Hunter was equally as annoyed with Batista, as he was angry that Batista entered himself into a Royal Rumble qualifying match. Later that night, Orton would keep rolling by picking up a win over Ric Flair despite interference from Hunter.

I look back to their match at Unforgiven. I remember that it was kind of long for someone like Orton who had two matches worth of main event experience, and that includes the Elimination Chamber at Summerslam 2003. Fast forward a few months, the duration is slightly shorter and Orton is still learning the ropes. However, a few minutes in and you know where his character is going as the “Randy Sucks” chants start and Triple H is getting cheered for his actions. Where are these fans when the anti-Triple H goons were flooding the blogs saying he was a hump for not putting anybody over. The crowd gave up on Orton a couple months before and here it was confirmed. Now the writers should be blamed for Orton’s babyface downfall by hot-shotting the World Title at Summerslam instead of the slow burn that is working in Batista’s favor. As it progressed the match really is no better or worse than their Unforgiven match. Then the ending gets strange. Triple H blocks a DDT attempt and suddenly Orton looks like he was hit in the head with a frying pan. I don’t know if it was legit or not but either way it really spun the match in a strange direction. Orton spends the rest of the match walking around, or crawling even, like he’s drunk. Eventually Triple H hits the Pedigree and that’s that. Again, I didn’t understand the half-drunk thing at the end but the match was pretty average anyway. The crowd went crazy when Hunter won the match, which pretty much tells you what the bookers will be doing to Orton shortly. For the second straight PPV in 2005, we have an average undercard. Grade: 2

Orton gets a decent pop here as he continues to seek revenge on his former mentor. It was pretty evident that Orton’s face run was slowly coming to end, as even here the crowd seems split between the two competitors. JR did a good job of making this seem like a big match even though it really didn’t have that sort of feel to it. Hunter would dominate and work the leg for a while, really slowing down the pace of the match. Hunter was constantly working the leg and moving, but it just seemed to drag on a bit. Orton showed off some nice offense on his comeback, but the longer the match went on; the more the fans started chanting for Triple H. The closing segment was the best part of the match as it felt like a real slugfest filled with near falls and reversals. Just as Orton was gaining momentum, he attempted a DDT but Hunter hooked the ropes and Orton smacked the back of his head on the mat. For the rest of the match, Orton looked pretty loopy and if I were a betting man, I would say he had a legit concussion. It has been said that the concussion was a work, so I am pretty damn impressed with Orton’s selling as it looked damn real. As Orton struggled to stay in the match, the ref would get bumped and Hunter would grab the sledgehammer. Orton was able to fight it off, but he would eventually fall to the Pedigree, putting a period on this feud that started back in August. The match was hard-hitting but the flow was choppy and the match structure was just sort of weird. Orton’s face push is now dead in the water as Hunter puts him down once again. As 2005 dawned, many assumed Orton would get a rematch at Wrestlemania and finally regain his belt, but as we see later, things were changed and Orton was taken out of consideration here instead. Grade: 2.5

*** Backstage, Kurt Angle confronts Nunzio and steals his Royal Rumble number and his slot by proxy. In the lottery room, JBL and his Cabinet party train come barging into the room, carrying champagne and celebrating JBL’s win. Taking a cue from Bischoff’s stance on interference, Teddy informs JBL that he will be facing Big Show at No Way Out inside a Barbed Wire Steel Cage. JBL’s reaction to Teddy’s announcement was tremendous as he went from drunken elation to sobered shock. At ringside, Tazz joins Jim Ross to call the Rumble match. ***

5) Batista wins the Royal Rumble

Order of Entrants (with person who eliminated them)

1) Eddie Guerrero: Edge
2) Chris Benoit: Ric Flair & Batista
3) Daniel Puder: Hardcore Holly
4) Hardcore Holly (Robert Howard): Chris Benoit & Eddie Guerrero
5) Hurricane (Gregory Helms): Chris Benoit & Eddie Guerrero
6) Kenzo Suzuki: Rey Mysterio
7) Edge (Adam Copeland): John Cena & Batista
8) Rey Mysterio (Oscar Gutierrez): Edge
9) Shelton Benjamin: Edge
10) Booker T. (Booker Huffman): Eddie Guerrero & Rey Mysterio
11) Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine): Batista
12) Luther Reigns (Matt Wiese): Booker T.
13) Muhammad Hassan (Mark Copani): Edge, Jericho, Benoit, Booker, Benjamin & Reigns
14) Orlando Jordan: Booker T.
15) Scotty 2 Hotty (Scott Garland): Did Not Enter
16) Charlie Haas: Shawn Michaels
17) Rene Dupree (Rene Goguen): Chris Jericho
18) Simon Dean (Michael Bucci): Shawn Michaels
19) Shawn Michaels: Kurt Angle
20) Kurt Angle: Shawn Michaels
21) Jonathan Coachman: Ric Flair
22) Mark Jindrak: Kane
23) Viscera (Nelson Frazier): John Cena
24) Paul London: Snitsky
25) John Cena: Batista
26) Snitsky: Batista
27) Kane (Glen Jacobs): John Cena
28) Batista: Winner
29) Christian (Jay Reso): Batista
30) Ric Flair (Richard Fleihr): Edge

Longest Time: Chris Benoit (47:26)
Shortest Time: Scotty 2 Hotty (:00)
Most eliminated: Batista (6)

Fun Fact: This is Kenzo Suzuki’s final PPV appearance. Shortly after this show, he would suffer a collapsed lung. Upon recovering, he was sent to OVW to shake off any ring rust. He and Hiroko were drafted to Raw on June 30, but both were released on July 6. The couple would return to Japan and continue to compete in the business to this day. Kenzo’s final PPV record was 2-2.

Fun Fact II:
This is also Mark Jindrak’s final PPV appearance. He would remain on TV, continuing to team with Luther Reigns before turning face and being relegated to Velocity. He was traded to Raw on June 30 but was also released on July 5. Jindrak would head to Japan and eventually Mexico, where he continues to have a successful career. His final PPV record is 0-5.

Fun Fact III:
After the Rumble, Daniel Puder was sent down to OVW to work on his craft. He hung around there until September, when he was released due to cost cutting measures. He was given a chance to sign a developmental deal and head to Deep South Wrestling, but Puder refused and left the company outright. Puder would have a quick run in Ring of Honor before leaving wrestling to compete in MMA and run his gym.

Fun Fact IV:
Mike Bucci portrays Simon Dean, an obsessive fitness guru that debuted in late 2004. Bucci began training with Iron Mike Sharpe in 1992 and spent some time as WWF enhancement talent in his formative years. While training, he caught the eye of Raven, who brought him into ECW to join his burgeoning flock. Along with Steve Richards and the Blue Meanie, the newly christened Nova would parody various wrestling and entertainment acts. On the advice of Bubba Ray Dudley, the flock members decided to parody the New World Order and things blew up from there. Nova was redubbed Hollywood Nova, a knockoff of Hollywood Hogan, in the group now known as the Blue World Order. Bucci would hang in ECW until the doors closed in 2001. He spent the next two years on the Indy scene until WWE came calling and he signed a deal to join OVW. Bucci was an OVW Heavyweight champion in addition to being an assistant booker prior to his call up to the show in 2004. He was given a new gimmick and vignettes began airing where Simon Dean would hawk his Simon System weight loss gimmick in mock infomercials. His name was a spoof of backstage agent Dean Malenko, whose real name was Dean Simon.

Fun Fact V:
Many of the superstars in the Rumble were forced to qualify in various qualifying matches in the weeks leading up to the show. The most entertaining of these matches came on the 1/24 Raw when Batista wrestled and handily defeated La Resistance. After the match, Batista grabbed the Quebec flag and stuck it between Conway’s ass cheeks as he was lying on top of Grenier. It was just another in a tremendous run of character building moments for Batista.

Fun Fact VI:
Viscera made his return in 2004, when he and Gangrel were brought back to WWE by JBL to attack Undertaker. He was quickly moved to Raw and makes his return to PPV here. Since being released in 2000, Viscera made a brief stop in TNA and had stints in various other Indy promotions as well.

Fun Fact VII:
This is Ric Flair’s first Royal Rumble match since 1993. In that match he entered #1 and this time around, he enters as #30.

Fun Fact VIII:
The hits keep on coming, as this is Rene Dupree’s final PPV appearance. He would stick around on SD before being traded to RAW in June. He would be a mainstay on Heat and Velocity for the remainder of the year, with a short-lived tag team with Tomko in the mix, before suffering a hernia in the winter. Dupree would make a major recovery and would move to ECW in 2006. He had a decent push, trying to prove he was the most extreme athlete in ECW history. In 2007, Dupree would attempt a reunion with La Resistance member Sylvan Grenier, but it proved to be futile as Dupree was suspended for a Wellness violation in March, which would lead to his release in July. He has fought for several indy promotions since and continues to wrestle to this day. His final PPV record is 4-8.

The beginning of this rumble was pretty cool when Eddie & Benoit teamed to pound guys for the first few minutes. They definitely wanted to make the beginning of this match hot by putting a majority of the athletic guys in early to get the hot pace going. Eric Bischoff came out to motivate his Raw guys, and after Jericho came in SD GM Teddy Long came out to motivate his guys as well. The crowd was particularly hot for this one as the action was really cooking, until the entrance of the most polarizing character on the roster right now: Muhammad Hassan. The crowd started chanting “USA…USA”, then in a great ring psychology move the entire group of guys in the ring stopped, and beat the crap out of Hassan, throwing him out of the ring. Hassan gets his heat back by attacking Scotty 2 Hotty as he’s coming down the aisle. I liked the combination of JR and Tazz doing the commentary, as Tazz seems really honored to be doing a match with the Raw PBP man. Shelton made a nice corner move avoiding a crash, but then Edge tossed him out. When Angle came into the match he went bonkers early, hitting suplexes and Angle slams everywhere, until he ran into Sweet Chin Music. This is just the beginning there, fans. Angle would attack HBK outside after being eliminated, clearly setting up a feud. I thought Edge was going to be the showcase guy in this match as he came in early and made some big time eliminations. Clearly we all knew who was going to win this though. The guy who’s character has been percolating, burgeoning to the surface. The slow burn of Batista’s character has been the highlight of Raw the past couple of months, and now was his moment to clearly shine. Sure John Cena was also a possibility, and when he came into the match the crowd perked up after the usual mid-Rumble malaise. However in my opinion Cena was still growing and didn’t need the Rumble win right now. The time to finally pull the trigger on Batista was right now. That’s why I didn’t totally agree with the “Rumble 94” ending with two guys hitting the floor at the same time. I never liked that hook the writers would put in. I didn’t like it in 1994, and I wasn’t crazy about it with Rock/Big Show in 2000 (yes Rock won, but there was that drama at the end). The place went crazy when the Animal came into the ring. The Batista chants were very audible and very strong. Forget the tie. Batista should have just won it outright. Why the bookers had to keep testing the audience about Batista was ridiculous. First with Orton, now with Cena. Doing the whole Hogan/Warrior thing here just didn’t work. Batista was the one the fans wanted more. Yes Cena was popular, but Batista was on the flagship show and he needed the win right now. All the stuff with Vince in the ring kinda ruined the flow of the match and totally screwed the whole crowd mojo up. The match restarts and The Animal finally finishes it. So Batista gets the title shot in LA on April 3. Against whom? Will it be JBL, or will it be the end of Evolution? We’ll see. A great rumble that would have been better without that clusterfuck ending.

For the first time in a few years, the Rumble match had some big shoes to fill from the previous year’s tilt. Eddie Guerrero arrives as first to a big time pop. And that pop would be sustained as last year’s winner Chris Benoit was number two. If Benoit was going to repeat, it looked like he would at least have to match his longevity record set in 2004. The early portion of the match was well done. Eddie and Benoit had a quick showdown that was interrupted by the arrogant Puder, who grabbed a mic and ran his mouth at ringside. Benoit and Eddie didn’t enjoy that much and proceeded to stiff the crap out of the rookie. Things would get worse for Puder when known bully Hardcore Holly came out next to join in the fun. After all three veterans beat the snot out of Puder with nasty chops and suplexes, they quickly dumped him to the floor. Eddie and Benoit would work as a team for a while until the ring started to fill up. Rey would get a nice pop for his entrance as the ring was quickly filling with some top-level talent that really kept the pace up. As more bodies piled up, it slowed into a basic Rumble match. Eric Bischoff and Teddy Long would make their way to ringside as well to really add to the importance of the match. Playing off the rivalry, once there were eight men in the ring, they split off by brand and had their West Side Story-esque showdown to a big pop from the fans. As they battled, Muhammad Hassan made his entrance to some pretty good heat. In a memorable moment, the brawling stopped and both brands teamed up to quickly toss Hassan from the match. I liked the brand pride and the battle between the two sides but I will say that Tazz was pretty annoying regarding it throughout the match. He was over the top in his loyalty and it just got so repetitive that I just wanted to hear JR call the match alone after a while. As the angry Hassan was heading back, he jumped Scott 2 Hotty on his way to the ring and took him out of the match with a camel clutch, instantly gaining his heat back. Simon Dean makes his debut here as well and I thought he was pretty funny as he warmed up outside the ring. By this point I thought Eddie and Booker were having pretty impressive showings, in addition to Benoit and Edge, who were also still in there. Michaels gets his second big pop of the night as he enters and he came in late enough that a win seemed plausible. Kurt Angle, who stole Nunzio’s number, comes in next and completely cleans house with a crazed dominant flurry. That would be short lived though, as Michaels nailed him with a Superkick and sent him flying to the floor. Angle snapped, slid back inside and eliminated Shawn and then destroyed him on the floor. He drilled him with the steel steps and then cranked in the Anklelock as a bloodied Michaels writhed in pain. It was a great visual and a big time feud had been born. With Michaels out, John Cena seemed to be the most over as he also gets a big pop for his entrance. Despite a lot of great action to this point, the highlight comes late in the match when Gene Snitsky destroys Paul London with a stiff clothesline that sends London into a 360 spill to the floor off the apron. It was big time nasty and London was nuts to take it. After wiping out London, Snitsky then had to face his nemesis Kane, who was really getting over with the fans. The showdown was well done, as was Kane’s run of terror as he wiped everyone out with chokeslams. Despite the red hot crowd showering many others with love, the biggest pop of the match may have come for Batista, who entered at twenty-eight. He was impressive immediately as he dropped Kane with a cool powerbomb. This was a really well booked Rumble all around the crowd was hot and energized the whole way through. After Ric Flair came in, he and Batista worked together for a bit until Natch tried to toss him in a funny spot. The final four had a nice mix and may have been the best final four in a while. Rey and Edge would be dumped and the crowd was going crazy for Batista and Cena to close things out. Batista really looked awesome here and Cena was hanging with him. Just when it seemed like either man could pull it out, they tussled near the ropes and both men tumbled to the floor. It looked like an accident at first but that is because it was just really well done as both men at exactly the same time. As the refs argued over the winner, Mr. McMahon came power walking to the ring and that led to one of the most bizarre PPV endings of all time. As Vince was sliding into the ring, he bangs his quads on the ring apron and completely tears both of them! He gets into the ring and immediately collapses and then is forced to bark directions from his ass. Cena and Batista would restart the match, ending with Batista tossing Cena for the win. The finish was bizarre but this was a really great Rumble match. It was quite different from last year but I would argue that it was just as good in its own way. Batista is massively over and is headed for Wrestlemania.

Final Analysis

Scott: Once again we have a sub-par undercard with blasé matches and average workrate. The opener was disappointing when looking at the two men in the ring. The two title matches weren’t bad but just lacked that special something. As I look through history, there haven’t been many real sparkling title matches at the Rumble, due to the fact that history dictated titles don’t usually change. Slaughter in 1991 and Rock in 1999 were a couple of rare examples of title changes. Angle/Benoit in 2003 was a classic, but no title changed hands there. Orton/Triple H just didn’t have that special something you thought they could have had. Orton’s inexperience played a factor in those situations. The rumble was solid, but again the silly “Let the crowd pick” ending was a buzzkill. So if Batista was picked but the crowd response was bigger for Cena they were going to change the ending? I doubt it. I think Cena’s 2005 plans were already taking shape. Now from here until Wrestlemania has another PPV, and some interesting Raw storylines that will entertain us for the next few weeks. This undercard has me concerned though. Two PPVs in and we have seen Raw’s undercard and then a combo undercard both being dreadfully average. We’ll see what Smackdown gives us in February but right now I’m not impressed. That malaise of entertainment from the undercard in the second half of 2004 is seeping into 2005 and we’ll see if that changes. With the influx of main event changes possible, the product needs to get back to that well-rounded look it had in 2000-02. Just like New Year’s Revolution, the main event match carried the show. Final Grade: C+

Just like so many Royal Rumbles in the past, the Rumble match really carried this show. The undercard seemed good on paper but didn’t really deliver like was expected. JBL and Triple H continue to hold the major titles as they head into Wrestlemania. Just a month earlier, it seemed obvious that Randy Orton would win the Rumble and face Hunter at Mania. As 2005 dawned, Batista surpassed him in the crowd’s eyes and the booking team listened. Orton’s title match took place here instead and his mega face push is now officially DOA. Batista is still technically a heel, but that wouldn’t last too much longer. The Rumble match was a lot of fun and had various segments throughout that led to and blew off big angles. It was very entertaining and the crowd was rocking. A lot of upper mid-card stars, including Booker, Jericho, Eddie and Benoit, got nice pushes in it as well which only helped build their momentum heading into the biggest show of the year. Despite the weak undercard, this show was fun to watch and the hot Rumble carries it a long way. Final Grade: B-

MVP: Batista
Runner Up: John Cena
Non MVP: Randy Orton
Runner Up: Scotty 2 Hotty

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