Written by: Scrooge McSuck from DaWrestling.com
– WWE Unforgiven 2004: Chris Benoit and William Regal defeated Ric Flair and Batista… Trish Stratus (Women’s Champion) defeated Victoria… Tyson Tomko defeated Steven Richards (in drag, in an impromptu match)… Chris Jericho defeated Christian… Shawn Michaels defeated Kane… La Resistance (V.2, Tag Champions) defeated Tajiri and Rhyno… Triple H defeated Randy Orton (World Heavyweight Champion).
This above was the card for the last Pay-Per-View I ordered live for the full price of (then) $35. Hell, it might’ve been $40. With DVD’s, WWE Classics on Demand, online streaming, and a 5 year gap of a lack of interest, I never found it to be too enticing to drop so much money for your typical run of the mill PPV. Rock vs. CM Punk has officially changed all of that. In a “sport” of predertermined outcomes, I see myself looking at it from a mark point of view, wanting to spend my hard earned money to see who is going to win the most anticipated match in what seems like a decade. This introduction is being written before the PPV takes place, so that the overall result of the show doesn’t manipulate the recap.
– Broadcasted live on Pay-Per-View on January 27th, 2013 from the US Airways Center in Phoenix, AZ, with Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and John “Bradshaw” Layfield calling all the action. I didn’t watch the pre-show match on WWE.com, but Antonio Cesaro retained the United States Title against Miz. The world wasn’t too sad.
World Heavyweight Championship; Last Man Standing Match:
Alberto Del Rio © (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Big Show:
Del Rio won the Title from the Big Show on an episode of Smackdown a few weeks ago, and I’m pretty sure this is his first defense. Lucky us, it’s another Last Man Standing Match. As a general rule, they tend to be tedious and long, but they pulled a good one out on Smackdown… can lightning strike twice? Maybe. Before the match, Del Rio and Rodriguez run into an old man who we find out was Bret Hart… it’s called Just for Men, Bret. Use it some time. Rodriguez gushes over him and gets the patented Bret Hart sunglasses in return. Cute spot. I don’t know how much longer Big Show can go, his movement is like watching a mail truck pull up, you see it moving, but it takes forever to get to the desired location. Del Rio controlled with lots of kicking, Show with his obvious strength advantage. Highspot of the match was them brawling up the aisle, with Big Show pulling Del Rio up onto a piece of the set, and chokeslamming him off, through a table. Del Rio somehow got up at 9. Other big spot, but of less importance: Big Show doing a mad “dash” at Del Rio, only to crash through the security wall. That would’ve been too much like the title change, so glad it wasn’t the finish. Del Rio starts using everything he can, including slamming a chair against the Show’s arm while resting against the ring steps, and blasting him in the face with a fire extinguisher. Finish comes with Del Rio trapping Show in the cross armbreaker, and with Show on his back, Rodriguez duct taped his feet to the bottom rope. The ten count was academic at that point, allowing Del Rio to retain at 16:56. Not an outstanding match, and I prefered the match on Smackdown more for the fact we didn’t see it already, but there was enough good spots peppered in to keep my interest.
– Matt Striker interviews Dolph Ziggler, along with A.J. and Big E. Langston. In a moment that makes me sick, Langston scares Striker off, and starts doing a comedy bit interviewing Ziggler himself. In MY day, the big scary guys didn’t talk. They shut their fucking mouths and looked intimidating. That’s how you draw money. Not by nuetering people as soon as possible.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match:
Team Hell No © vs. Team Rhodes Scholars:
(Kane & Daniel Bryan vs. Damien Sandow & Cody Rhodes)
After so many months of feuding, and Kane and Bryan constantly going over, you would think the Rhodes Scholars would finally win this one. Leave it up to JBL and Cole to make a witty comment when I’m barely paying attention, refering to Rhodes as a jacked up Freddie Mercury. Kane and Bryan control to start, giving it to both Rhodes and Sandow for a few minutes., It’s not long until Bryan gets to play the face-in-peril. I hate to say it, but a very cookie cutter match so far. These two teams had a much better match on Main Event to close out 2012, but as anyone knows, you can’t guarante a great match, you just have to hope for the best. Kane gets the hot tag and starts cleaning house. He hits his clothesline in the corner and side suplex for a two count. He heads to the top rope, but misses his signature flying clothesline, and Sandow takes him down with a pretty ugly neck breaker. Rhodes Scholars with a double suplex on Kane, but in the mean time, Bryan tagged himself in. He comes in with a missile dropkick on Sandow, Kane lays Rhodes out with a chokeslam, and Sandow taps out to the No Lock at around the 11-minute mark. Decent match, but it seemed rushed at times, there was some sloppy work here and there, and just an off night in comparison to previous work between these teams. Hell No needs new challengers. The Rhodes Scholars ran their course after 3 months of chasing without success.
– Kane and Daniel Bryan recieve their numbers from Vicki Guerrero. Hard to tell by their reactions, but Kane seems to enjoy his number better than his partners, then refuses to show the number he has, because that would be a terrible idea for the sake of strategy. Poor Daniel Bryan… I had them pegged as #2 and #3, but of course, I was wrong.
30 Man Royal Rumble Match:
As usual, winner gets his choice of World/WWE Championship match at WrestleMania XXIX. With such a deep field, it’s hard to predict a winner… until you know we’re getting Cena/Rock II, and thus the uncreative team won’t throw us a curveball when we actually want one. #1 is Dolph Ziggler, and a surprise appearance by Chris Jericho makes him #2. Couldn’t say anything but “I marked out” for that reveal. #3 is Cody Rhodes and #4 is Kofi Kingston. Santino Marella enters as #5, tosses everyone over, but no one touches the floor, and Santino is the first one eliminated. #6 is Drew McIntyre and #7 is Titus O’Neil. #8 is GOLDUST, and it’s mark out moment #2. He has a go with his brother to some decent heat. Cody uses the Goldust uppercut on someone, so Goldust returns the favor on him. #9 is David Otunga because…, #10 is Heath Slater, and #11 is Sheamus. He easily disposes of O’Neil and Otunga, working in his clubbing forearms on the apron spot on both of them. #12 is Tensai, and surprisingly isn’t tossed immediately. #13 is Brodus Clay, and yes, we get a battle of the bulk. It goes nowhere. Meanwhile, Cody dumps his own brother after a nice sequence. #14 is a returning Rey Mysterio, looking a bit smaller than I remembered, and #15 is Darren Young. Everyone gangs up on Clay so he can go back to shuckin’ n’ jivin’ for the everyone’s filthy kids, but Tensai is gone with a simple head scissors courtesy of Kingston. Ziggler knocks Kofi off the apron, but he hops onto Tensai’s back, rolls onto the announcers table, then uses JBL’s chair as a pogo stick to make his way back in the ring.
Meanwhile, #16 is NXT guy Bo Dallas, to no reaction while Kofi does his thing. Kofi tosses out Young, but then gets eliminated by Rhodes, rendering that last spot to get back in the ring pointless, but still awesome. #17 is The Godfather. I was hoping to see Papa Shango. He takes his sweet time getting to the ring, gets knocked out in 2-seconds, then back to the locker room with style. Call him the cooler version of the Bushwhacker Luke elimination. #18 is Wade Barrett and #19 is Superman. Sorry, John Cena. He tosses Slater and Rhodes with ease. #20 is Damian Sandow, and Rey Mysterio is gone thanks to Barrett. #21 is Daniel Bryan, and he unloads with No!Kicks on everyone. #22 is Antonio Cesaro, and #23 is the Great Khali, looking absolutely pathetic, barely mobile enough to get to the ring. Stop trotting him out like a circus freak! Kane is #24 and Zack Ryder is #25. Kane doesn’t do much until quietly eliminating Khali, but then Daniel Bryan tosses him out. Bryan gets tossed too, but lands in the arms of Kane. He begs to be put back in the ring, but Kane drops him like a bad habit in one of the best spots of the match. Randy Orton is #26, and he tosses Ryder. #27 is Jinder Mahal and #28 is the Miz. Miz attacks Cesaro in the aisle, who was tossed out by Cena moments earlier. #29 is Sin Cara, the most disappointing entry because it means we didn’t get another surprise entrant. Bo Dallas somehow eliminates Barrett, but Barrett returns the favor and KO’s him with the Bull Hammer. Take that, rookie! #30 is Ryback to round out the field. He tosses Sandow and Sin Cara quickly, followed by Miz. Jericho is gone courtesy of Ziggler after spending 45 minutes in the ring. Ryback tosses Orton after he cleans house with RKO’s, and Sheamus takes care of Ziggler, who had spent nearly 50-minutes in there. Ryback tosses Sheamus, then does a mini-match with Cena before a sloppy elimination gives the victory to Cena at 55:15. Absolutely enjoyed the Rumble, sans the finish. Not the best or even close to it, but very satisying from start to near-finish.
WWE Championship Match:
CM Punk © (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. The Rock:
It’s Day 434 for Punk as the reigning WWE Champion, best for 6th longest in WWE History. Remember, it was on Raw 1,000 where Punk kicked off his heel turn, attacking the Rock for his lack of respect and hogging all the attention. Punk/Rock has definitely been must-see television for the last few weeks without having to wrestle a single match against each other. Pre-match stipulations state that Punk will be stripped off the title if the Shield runs in and attacks the Rock. They slug it out to start, and expect a lot of it. Rock quickly goes for the spanish announcers table, but Punk puts it back together to be nice. He drops Rock awkwardly across the security wall with a suplex. Punk teases a knee injury, allowing the Rock to soften him up for the inevitably bad Sharpshooter. Punk goes for GTS, Rock counters with a Sharpshooter attempt, and Punk counters that with the Anaconda Vice, but Rock manages to roll through for a two count. Rock sets up for the Rock Bottom, Punk goes for the Vice again, but this time Rock is able to apply the Sharpshooter. It doesn’t look TOO bad, either. Punk makes it to the ropes to force the break, though. They take it to the floor for a spot on the announcer’s table, but it collapses under them before they can finish it. Ouch. Rock with a Rock Bottom on the floor in an example of repeating the spot after blowing it the first time. Back in the ring, Rock goes for the People’s Elbow, but the lights go out, and we can hear carnage. Lights on, and Rock is laid out on the crumbled remains of the other broadcaster’s table. Cole screams it was The Shield and Punk replies “Who!?”. He rolls Rock back in and covers for the three count at 21:36!? Woah, didn’t see that coming.
But… Vince McMahon shows up to strip Punk of the title because of the Shield’s involvement, even though there’s no actual footage that indicates it really was them. Just as he’s about to finish his sentence, the Rock interrupts and says no, that he wants to finish things, and we restart the match. BOO! Punk stomps away on him in the corner and chokes him down, but the referee pulls him off. Punk off the top rope with the Macho Man Elbow for a two count. He calls for the GTS, but Rock slips free, hits the Spinebuster, and the People’s Elbow ends the 434 reign of CM Punk, winning his first WWE championship since the summer of 2002. I honestly didn’t know how I’d feel about Punk dropping it to the Rock, but looking at it, the finish not only had me actively hanging on the edge of my seat for every second, but was honestly a satisfying conclussion to the reign of Punk, at least from the point of view of the Rock’s motivation. It’s also not Cena, so at least Punk jobbed it to someone else. There was some awkward spots and transitions, and Rock seemed gassed about 10 minutes in, but it picked up and didn’t have to rely on the excessive use of near-fall kickouts of all their finishing moves.
Final Thoughts: It’s not a classic PPV or from top to bottom the greatest in terms of quality matches. The undercard title matches were both fine, but better matches featuring the same participants have been featured on free television in the last four weeks. The Royal Rumble Match definitely delivered in terms of fun and enjoyment, even though I would’ve sold my unborn child for Cena not to have won. Punk/Rock wasn’t the classic that I concieved in my mind, but it was still a pretty good main event with a hot finishing sequence and a pair of swerves that for once benefits the babyface and gives the heel what he had coming to him for months. As always, not recommended at 45/55 dollars, but worth a look at some point at a lower price, probably for when it’s released on DVD.