Written By: Alexander Settee
Royal Rumble 2010, January 31, 2010, Phillips Arena, Atlanta, GA
Announcers: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, & Matt Striker
So here we go with the first PPV of the new year and new decade, the Royal Rumble. The undercard build has been pretty underwhelming to me, but I’m really looking forward to the Rumble itself as they’ve done a great job of building several guys into having legit reasons to win so if nothing else I expect it to deliver.
Opening Match, ECW Championship: Christian vs. Ezekiel Jackson (w/William Regal)
Michael Cole kicks off the show by calling the Royal Rumble the “all star” game of the WWE. That’s obviously a lie because how the hell would Michael Cole be here if that was the case? Jackson starts out by establishing the power advantage, but Christian counters that with speed and cunning. He dropkicks Jackson off the apron, and then nails a dive to the floor. Back in the ring, Christian gets caught and slammed, but Jackson misses an elbow. Jackson maintains control though and whips Christian to the buckle a couple of times. Christian gets a Killswitch try out of nowhere, which Jackson counters to a press slam, but Christian escapes that and trips Jackson on to the ropes. He gets some more shots in and goes to the 2nd rope, but Jackson pulls him down and tosses him. Regal looks to get involved, but the mere thought of that is enough to get him ejected here tonight. Of course while the ref is busy with that, Jackson whips Christian to the steps, and then gets him back in for 2. Chokeslam gets another 2, as does a delayed suplex. Christian comes back and tries a springboard sunset flip, but Jackson pulls him up by the throat and drops him for 2. After a brief chinlock, Jackson nails a clothesline from behind for another 2. He then sets up for a superplex, but gets knocked back. Christian hits a reverse elbow and a 2nd rope dropkick for 2. Killswitch is countered again, but Christian does drop him anyways. He goes up, but misses a headbutt and is then clotheslined for 2. Backbreaker gets Jackson another 2, but then he misses a charge in the corner and takes a tornado DDT from which Christian gets his own 2. Jackson is back up with a clothesline for another 2. Christian ends up going to a sleeper, but Jackson powers him onto his shoulders and runs him to the corner. Christian comes out of there and from nowhere hits the Killswitch for the 3 count to retain at 12:01. Really good job here, and I give Christian a lot of credit because Jackson isn’t that good. I don’t know what the future holds for Christian with ECW being killed off, but I hope they have a good spot for him. I’d almost rather see him here as the big fish in the small pond though because in the bigger pond he’d get lost in the shuffle faster than you could say Jack Swagger or Matt Hardy. ***1/4
We go backstage where Teddy Long and Tiffany are interrupted by Cryme Tyme. Just like last year, they have only one spot in the Rumble for the two of them. Great Khali appears and they offer to trade him a kiss from Tiffany for his spot, but she’s having none of that. Miz then comes in to thankfully save the segment with his Awesomeness, but for his troubles he’s ordered by Long to defend the US Title against MVP, in the next match.
But to give him a brief moment to prepare, we cut to Randy Orton’s locker room as he prepares for his Championship match later on. Cody Rhodes comes in and lets him know he’s there for him, and then rats out Ted Dibiase for talking about how he’s going to win the Rumble and then beat Orton for the Title at Wrestlemania
United States Championship Match: The Miz vs. MVP
MVP had already been established as the number one contender, but instead of building to the match, they just gave it away for nothing. To their credit, the announcers do point out that although Miz had only a couple minutes to prepare here, it’s not really a disadvantage because MVP only had those same two minutes as well. Miz starts out beating on him, but his corner whip is reversed and he takes a clothesline. MVP then knees him and nails a suplex for 1. Miz gets the boot up on a corner whip, but then charges into a backdrop and takes a back suplex for 2. He bails to the floor, but MVP is right there with him and drops him on the barrier. As they get back in, Miz kicks him off to the apron, and then shoves him off into the announce table. He works MVP over on the floor for a bit and then gets him back in. A double ax off the top gets 2. MVP comes back with a flapjack and a couple of clotheslines. He follows with a facebuster and then goes Ballin’ to setup the Playmaker, but Miz escapes. MVP still gets him with a big boot for 2. Miz goes to the apron and drops MVP on the ropes. Back in, MVP gets him with a shoulderblock for 2, but then misses a charge to the corner. Skull Crushing Finale is countered to a rollup for 2. MVP then gets a couple of other quick nearfalls before Miz escapes to the floor. He puts Miz back in, but as he gets in himself, Miz cradles him for the 3 count at 7:31. Postmatch sees Miz taunting him about the win, so MVP drops him with the Playmaker. The crowd boos this which probably wasn’t the intention. It also signals that this feud must continue. *1/2
Chris Jericho and Big Show have an awkward meeting backstage. Show says he’ll throw out whoever it takes to win, including tag team partners past and present. R-Truth then appears to taunt Jericho, who talks big until he realizes that he backup walked out on him.
Now Orton is making his way to the ring when Ted Dibiase walks in. He lets him know that he’s there for him, and then rats out Cody Rhodes for talking about how he’s going to win the Rumble and then beat Sheamus for the Title at Wrestlemania. Orton says he doesn’t want anyone out there tonight. This and the previous one were both really good character building segments that are adding a lot of interest to the Legacy split.
WWE Championship Match: Sheamus vs. Randy Orton
It’s pretty clear right from the start that the fans want to cheer Orton, but he really does nothing to encourage it. They start with a staredown and then lockup. Orton comes off the ropes with a dropkick. They lockup again and break with Sheamus shoving him away. Sheamus then gets a clothesline and a single arm takedown. Orton bails, but Sheamus follows and keeps on the arm by ramming it to the steps. Back in, he continues working the arm, and then sets for a powerslam, but Orton slips off and clips the knee. That becomes Orton’s target, so he works a leglock. Sheamus finally kicks him off and sends him shoulder first to the post a couple of times. He runs into a knee though and Orton regains control. He posts the leg, but Sheamus ends up coming back with a single arm DDT for 2. Orton fires out of an armbar and they do the “yay/boo” punches with Orton getting the cheers. Sheamus then catches him with a backbreaker for 2. He sets up the Razor’s Edge, which badly needs an actual name, but Orton escapes and goes back to the leg. He sends Sheamus to the floor, and then as he gets back in, he gets him with the hanging DDT for 2. He sets up the punt, but Sheamus has the presence of mind to roll to the floor. Orton follows and sends him to the post twice. He gets back in, but then Cody Rhodes comes out of the crowd and nails Sheamus. He gets Sheamus in, where Orton hits the RKO, but the ref calls for the bell and disqualifies Orton at 12:26. I know this was meant to be about the Orton/Legacy storyline, but if Sheamus is going to make it, he needs a bit more help than this. After the match, Rhodes tries to explain himself, but Orton starts beating on him. Dibiase comes in, but he takes some shots as well. Rhodes and Dibiase cower in the corner while Orton stares them down, but that allows Sheamus to recover and nail the big boot on Orton. Dibiase and Rhodes then take off, leaving Orton laying in the ring. Match was kind of dull as heel/heel matchups tend to be, but it had some good storyline value. **
Women’s Championship Match: Michelle McCool vs. Mickie James
So for the past several months, Michelle, along with her sidekick Layla, has been hassling Mickie about her alleged weight issues. Some of the stuff has gotten pretty mean spirited, but in any case it seems to have drawn Michelle some heat. And it continues here as she brings out Layla in the fat suit for more mocking. Finally Mickie charges in and kills Layla on the floor before getting in the ring. Layla gets back to the apron, but when Mickie avoids a kick, Michelle nails her and knocks her to the floor. One DDT later and Mickie is the new Women’s Champion at 0:22. The rest of the babyface Divas come out with a cake which Mickie proceeds to splat in the faces of Michelle and Layla. Well, we had the heel build up the heat for several months and then built up to the match at the big show where the face finally gets her revenge. Whatever you do, don’t tell Vince because that sounds like old school pro wrestling to me. The match is obviously a DUD, but in terms being a final blowoff of a feud it was really good.
World Heavyweight Championship Match: The Undertaker vs. Rey Mysterio
Rey beat Batista in a cage match to become the number one contender here. He starts off by using speed to avoid Taker, but soon gets caught and tossed over the top rope. He nails Taker from the apron, but again gets caught as he tries to springboard in and sent right back to the floor. Taker sets Rey on the apron for the legdrop, which Rey avoids, but Taker lands on his feet. He then just nails Rey and hits it on the second try. Taker sets up a chokeslam, but Rey counters to a rana to put Taker on the ropes. 619 is caught, but Rey kicks him off to avoid a Tombstone. Taker then misses an elbow, so Rey springs off the ropes but flies right into a boot. They go to the floor again, where Taker beats on him some more. He then misses a big boot and wraps his leg around the post. In the ring, Rey baseball slides the leg into the post. He then gets an Asai moonsault, but when he tries another baseball slide he’s caught and thrown to the barrier. Back in, Taker gets 2 off of that. He’s also bleeding from the nose, but unlike last month they don’t feel the need to stop the match to patch him up here. Whether it means they’ve abandoned the idea of doing that entirely or they just won’t do it to Undertaker remains to be seen. Side slam gets another 2 for Taker. Rey fires back with some kicks, and then puts him down with a jawjacker. Inverted DDT puts him down again, and then when Taker sits up, Rey nails a seated dropkick. Springboard legdrop gets 2, but then he comes off the ropes into a clothesline. Taker sets up the Last Ride, but Rey escapes it and dropkicks the knee. This puts Taker on the ropes for the 619, which hits. Rey comes off with a springboard dropkick, which puts Taker on the ropes for a second 619, which also hit. Now Rey goes for the West Coast Pop, but Taker catches him and drops him with the Last Ride for the 3 count at 11:08. Pretty good big vs. little match here, and obviously Taker had to win to keep alive the idea that Shawn could win the Rumble and challenge him at Wrestlemania. ***
Backstage we see that Shawn had been watching the match. Kane then walks in and says that as the only guy to have faced Undertaker twice at Wrestlemania, beating him there simply can’t be done. HHH then shows up and they wish each other luck, but both say that they’ll win.
They then show the Royal Rumble stats video, which is always neat, and that leads us to the big one here tonight.
Main Event: 2010 Royal Rumble Match
The intervals are 90 seconds again this year. Dolph Ziggler is #1 and Evan Bourne is #2 so they start things off here. It’s basically a mini match that ends with them both hitting their finishers just before #3 comes out and it’s CM Punk who has Serena with him. He runs Bourne and Ziggler into each other and clotheslines both out. Serena then hands him a mic and he cuts a Straight Edge promo. #4 is JTG, so Cryme Tyme obviously came to a decision. On commentary, Striker notes that Punk hates people like JTG because he’s a drug user and loves to party. That’s fine for characterizing Punk, but isn’t the company line supposed to be that everyone just goes back to the hotel and plays video games? Anyways, he’s gone pretty quickly, giving Punk time to continue his promo. #5 is Great Khali, so Punk tries to reason with him and invites him to join the Straight Edge Society. Khali says no thank you and instead chops Punk down then puts him in the vice grip. #6 is surprise entrant Beth Phoenix. She stares down Khali, who decides to give her the easy way out by gently putting her over the top, but instead she kisses him and then uses that distraction to pull him over the top to the floor. That gets a really good reaction from the crowd. She then goes to work on Punk, who quickly comes back and hits the GTS. #7 is Zack Ryder as Punk tosses Beth. Punk then starts speaking to Ryder, but just attacks and tosses him. The crowd is really getting into Punk, which since he’s a heel means it’s the right time for him to get his. He says he’s better than whoever is next, and indeed is better than everyone. So #8 comes out and it’s HHH. He slowly stalks his way to the ring and then dominates Punk, but doesn’t eliminate him yet. #9 is Drew McIntyre and he goes at it with HHH now. Punk recovers and tries a GTS on HHH, but HHH just blocks it and tosses him. #10 is Ted Dibiase, who runs into a clothesline from HHH, but eventually hooks up with McIntyre for a double team effort. #11 is John Morrison who has the ongoing issue with McIntyre so they go at it ending with Morrison hitting Starship Pain. #12 is Kane who comes in and dominates the ring, but doesn’t eliminate anyone. #13 is Cody Rhodes who saves Dibiase from Kane. It’s finally starting to settle down into a battle royal now with the ring filling up a bit. #14 is MVP, who is attached in the aisle from behind by The Miz. He gets helped out without ever making it to the ring. #15 is Carlito who runs wild and hits Backstabbers galore. #16 is The Miz, who ends Carlito’s dominance with a Skull Crushing Finale. MVP then runs in and clotheslines Miz out, taking himself out in the process and they brawl so their feud is long from over. #17 is Matt Hardy and he nails a Twist of Fate on McIntyre, then goes to the 2nd rope but is thrown over and out by Kane. HHH then shoves Kane out. Then it’s his turn to run wild with spinebusters for everyone until he’s finally tackled. #18 is Shawn Michaels, and coincidentally that’s the number he won from in 1996. He immediately shows he serious by backdropping Carlito out. He then tosses both members of Legacy and Morrison too. McIntyre gets treated a little better in that it at least takes a double team from DX to get rid of him. This leaves Shawn and HHH in the ring, but here comes #19 and it’s John Cena. He takes out both of them and gets them with Five Knuckle Shuffles, but can’t eliminate anyone. HHH comes back and hits a Pedigree, but then Shawn Superkicks HHH over the top and out. #20 is Shelton Benjamin who briefly shines before getting caught trying Paydirt on Cena and being tossed. #21 is Yoshi Tatsu and his sequence goes pretty much like Shelton’s, working Shawn and Cena over for a bit, but then being thrown out by Cena. Big Show is next at #22 and he dominates Shawn and Cena as well, but this time they can’t come back and eliminate him. #23 is Mark Henry and he goes at it with Show. Henry even gets him with a bodyslam. #24 is Chris Masters who tries the Masterlock on Show but ends up getting dumped. #25 is R-Truth, who immediately makes an impact by shoving out Henry and Show together. He then holds his own with Cena and Shawn. Perhaps he’s this month’s Kofi Kingston? #26 is Jack Swagger who is surprisingly not eliminated in mere seconds as the buildup had teased. #27 is last month’s Kofi Kingston, Kofi Kingston. He gets to run wild and eliminate Swagger and Truth, so he’s not completely dead in the water yet. #28 is Chris Jericho who takes an Attitude Adjustment from Cena. Shawn then drops an elbow and sets up the Superkick, but Kofi prevents it by hitting Shawn with Trouble In Paradise. Cena then tosses Kofi, but Jericho hits him with the Codebreaker. #29 is the surprise return of Edge. He spears everyone and tosses Jericho so that issue is alive and well. #30 is Batista at 43:10 making the average interval 1:32.5 so they were pretty close on that aspect. The finalists are: Shawn (#18), Cena (#19), Edge (#29), and Batista (#30). Batista dominates until Edge hits him with a spear. Cena then gets the AA on Edge. Shawn comes in with SCM on Cena and Batista, but Edge clotheslines him to the apron. They fight out there with Shawn Superkicking Edge back into the ring, but then Batista knocks him off to the floor to eliminate him. The match then just grinds to a halt for a couple of minutes while Shawn gets all sad, and then he beats up a couple of referees when they try to get him to leave. Finally he does go and we get back to action. Batista sets up the Batista Bomb on Cena who backdrops out. Cena then low bridges him on a charge and eliminates him. Edge sets up a spear, but gets kicked. He shakes it off though and tosses Cena for the win at 49:24. Really good Rumble this year as they had a lot of good spots and by building up many possible winners instead of the usual one on two guys it made the match far more intriguing. ****1/2
Overall, I thought this was a very entertaining show. The Rumble was the big highlight as I expected it would be, but we also had some good stuff in the form of Taker/Rey and Christian/Jackson, as well as the Mickie/Michelle segment. Nothing here sucked either so it’s a pretty easy Thumbs Up for Royal Rumble 2010.