Written by: Scrooge McSuck from DaWrestlingsite.com
– After the spectacle that was the 2014 Royal Rumble, I figured to type up my introduction hours ahead of time, just in case we have another booking choice that features the crowd completely turning on the product. As much as some fear it will happen, I don’t think the crowd would react nearly the same way. First, Daniel Bryan is in the Rumble Match, and second, his Main Event cred means he won’t be a quick elimination early in the match. Had Bryan at least been used last year, I think the crowd would’ve been less upset than just keeping him out of the match, period. The other factor is that no matter how lame Roman Reigns’ promos have been, the crowd, for the most part, still responds favorably to him. There will be no repeat of “Boo-tista”.
– Presented live on Pay-Per-View (cough:Suckers:cough) and the WWE Network (a steal at $9.99!), from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA on January 25th, 2015. Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and John “Bradshaw” Layfield are at ringside to call all the action, unless otherwise noted.
The New Day (w/ Xavier Woods) vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (w/ Natalya & Adam Rose):
Originally promoted as a Six-Man Tag Team Elimination Match, but this change was the least of our problems tonight. I guess Woods’ ankle isn’t completely healed, otherwise I don’t understand the sudden change in booking. The crowd pops huge for Cesaro and boos the New Day, so to anyone that said PHILADELPHIA was going to be a dead Rumble crowd… you’re a moron. Unfortunately, my local WiFi connection was completely down for the match, so watching it after the rest of the PPV, I have to say it was a solid match, but there wasn’t anything to really get too excited for. Cesaro and Kidd with some good double-team spots, and I always love it when Kofi does a suicide dive and Big E. follows with the spear through the ropes. Hot finish with Kidd putting Kofi in the Sharpshooter, Big E. interrupting with a belly-to-belly suplex, Cesaro KO’ing him with a big boot, Adam Rose eating Trouble in Paradise on the apron, and Cesaro uppercutting Kofi into next week. Kidd finally puts Kofi away with a twisting Fisherman Suplex at 10:58. **1/2 Longer than they usually get, but never really picked up with the exception of the last 45-seconds. Would’ve been more excited to see the advertised Elimination Match, but again… least of our problems tonight.
The New Age Outlaws vs. The Ascension:
(Road Dogg & Billy Gunn vs. Viktor & Konnor)
PPV Opener, proper. The Outlaws suck up to the local crowd by wearing Philly Phanatic hats. Their pre-match routine is still pretty over, considering it’s been 14 years since they were at the height of their popularity. To sum it up quickly, everything you can think of about this match is wrong. First, who has the “hot, new” heel tag team embarrassed by a bunch of washed-up “legends”? Second, I’m sorry, but these guys are trying way too hard to “look cool” instead of being cool. Third, Viktor looks like a scrawny punk. The gimmick doesn’t fit the size of the man playing it. FOURTH, the Outlaws dominate the offense. FIFTH, Road Dogg and Billy Gunn, who I would generously call “average” workers at best, put on a better effort than the Ascension. SIXTH, the Ascension practically win on a fluke. Konnor tags from the apron and they just nail Gunn out of nowhere with the Fall of Man at 5:34. Seventh, JBL is impressed with their victory. Huh. ¼* Total garbage match, so expect the Ascension to win the Tag Titles at Fast Lane.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match:
Jimmy & Jey Uso © vs. The Miz & Damien Mizdow:
It feels like this angle has gone on forever, but thankfully Michael Cole reminds me that the stuff with Naomi actually lead to her standing by her man and refusing Miz’s efforts into advancing her musical career by going against her Husband. The smart crowd loves Mizdow, because… I don’t know. It’s funny, but I can’t believe it’s over with casual and smart audiences. I’m glad to say that other than the opening moments, the comedy from Mizdow was toned down quite a bit. First big spot came with Jimmy Uso nearly taking his head off being tripped into the ropes. The Uso’s recovered for some Uso Crazy fun, but one of them goes splat attempting a somersault. In a cute spot, Mizdow basically avoids all contact and lands a Skull Crushing Finale, but Miz’s cover only gets a two count. Miz continues working the entire match, eventually giving in to defeat after a wicked superkick/powerbomb combo spot, followed by a splash from the top rope at 9:21. **1/2 I’m not the biggest fan of constantly watching Miz vs. the Uso’s in handicap matches, but they worked well and again, Mizdow was toned down and he played a decent role in the match. The crowd was really hot about Miz refusing to tag him in, too.
Paige & Natalya vs. Nikki & Brie Bella:
For a company that constantly talks about wrestlers being second-generation (or in some cases, third), they don’t acknowledge the team of Paige and Nattie both being 2nd Generation performers. Yeah, we all know WWE hypes the heck out of Nattie being the daughter of Jim Neidhart, but what about Paige? Sure, her mom never worked for WWE, but it counts! I find it a little weird they’re doing a Diva’s Tag Team Match in lieu of a Championship Match, but in the Total Divas Universe, maybe this makes more sense? I actually don’t have a problem with this since WWE has actually tried to build it up for a few weeks. It’s just hard to care when they usually give them 5-minutes on PPV and in a death slot. On the plus side, they gave this a little bit of time, and without being in an unenviable position on the format sheet. The downside was some odd booking. Natalya plays Diva in Peril, following an awkward spot where a tag was made but everyone forgot about it. Paige was very energetic on the apron trying to rally Natalya and the crowd. Then came the weird spot… Brie pulls Paige off the apron to prevent a hot tag, and Nikki KO’s Natalya with the loaded Luger forearm for the three count at 8:05. I actually missed the finish because I turned around thinking the heat segment would continue. *1/2 Finish came out of nowhere, and anything Brie did looked back (maybe that’s what Brie Mode means), but the rest was OK.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Brock Lesnar © (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins (w/ J & J Security):
Going into the match, Seth Rollins poked the beast and now the beast is out for blood, and there’s a strong chance Rollins cashes in if he’s unsuccessful in winning the match. Did I mention this is Brock’s first match in over 100 days? As WWE Champion? I tend to hate Triple Threats, but there’s always exceptions to the rule… this. Rollins plays chicken-shit, leaving Cena to take a flurry of suplexes from Lesnar. Noble and Mercury try to help Rollins, and get thrown around too, playing dead for the next 15-minutes. Brock dominates until taking an AA, but Rollins’ cover only gets ONE. Rollins tries hitting his flying knee, but Brock catches and counters with an F5! To the floor, a table is undressed and Brock SMASHES a monitor against the steps. In most Triple Threats, you usually see different combinations work together. Not here. It’s either Brock picking apart both Cena and Rollins, Cena one-on-one with Rollins, or Cena and Rollins reluctantly teaming on Brock. Never does Brock work with anyone, and for good reason. Brock remains in control until one of the coolest sequences you’ll ever see: Cena hits him with THREE AA’s, with Lesnar practically no-selling the first and second, then barely the third. Rollins hits a curb stomp, and he’s still moving. Cena tackles him through the security barrier, AND HE’S STILL MOVING. Finally, he gets thrown into the steps, bopped against the head, and Rollins comes flying off the top rope with an elbow, seemingly ending Brock’s night. What follows is some A+ work between Cena and Rollins, trading finishers and near falls. Rollins appears to be on the verge of victory, coming off the top with an (almost blown) CORKSCREW SPLASH, but LESNAR LIVES and destroys everyone with more suplexes! Seth desperately rams Brock TWICE with the briefcase and goes for another Curb Stomp, but Brock is a fucking monster and finishes with the F5 to retain at 23:02. ****1/4 I honestly didn’t expect this match to blow me away, but damn it did. The vile crowd was quickly won over and stayed into it, without resorting to childish hijacking.
30-Man Royal Rumble Match:
Here we go again. Winner faces the WWE World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania XXXI. Going into the PPV, the probable winners were Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, and a distant third Dean Ambrose. No chance in hell a planned heel like Big Show, Rusev, or Bray Wyatt was winning. I’m kind of happy that guys like Los Matadores were pulled, opening the door for guest spots and scrubs worth using. Ditto the Uso’s. No need for tag team guys filling out the majority of the match. My official prediction coming in was Bryan tossing Show to win, and that Miz and Mizdow would start. I lead off the game with a single, as #1 is The Miz. Unfortunately, his former running buddy R-Truth is #2 (AWESOME TRUTH anyone?). Bubba Ray Dudley is #3, our first surprise entrant, and it’s cool to see him. Without D’Von, he adopts Truth into doing the Wassup Headbutt and a 3D before tossing Miz at 4:03. #4 is Luke Harper, and there goes Truth at 4:15. Bray Wyatt is #5, and he and Harper pound Bubba until tossing him at 6:57. Curtis Axel is #6… or supposed to be, but Erick Rowan attacks him and enters the ring for a Wyatt Family Reunion, which ends in both Harper and Rowan getting tossed at 8:55. THE BOOGEYMAN is #7, and he proceeds to have a Freak-Off with Wyatt. It doesn’t last long, and Boogey goes Bye at 11:09. Sin Cara is #8, nobody cares, and he’s gone at 12:22. Zack Ryder is #9, returning from injury. He hits the Broski Boot before getting tossed at 14:06. Daniel Bryan is #10, and the crowd explodes. He unleashes a flurry of dropkicks in the corner and a hurricanrana from the top turnbuckle.
#11 is Fandango, and he doesn’t do much. #12 is Tyson Kidd. #13 is Stardust. Kidd is tossed at 21:11, courtesy Bryan. He sends Wyatt to the floor and follows with a suicide dive, but both men are still alive. #14 is DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE, and the crowd is into him. Diamond Cutters for Stardust, Fandango, and Wyatt! Rusev is #15, and quickly tosses DDP at 24:35 and Fandango at 24:41. The countdown is coming… and DANIEL BRYAN is eliminated following a double team from Rusev and Wyatt at 25:37. To say the crowd just died would be the biggest understatement possible, and the match just goes into cruise control. Goldust is #16 and has a slugfest with his own cosmic brother. Kofi Kingston is #17. #18 is Adam Rose. Kofi gets thrown way over the top, but the Rosebuds catch him, dance around the ring, and place him back on the apron. Crowd is so dead they didn’t care for Kofi’s spot. Rose is tossed by Rusev at 30:37. Kofi’s gone soon after at 30:55. #19 is Roman Reigns, getting the Batista treatment. He tosses Goldust at 32:41 and Stardust at 32:45. Big E. is #20 and somewhere in there JBL makes an Otto Wanz reference. 100 cool points for anyone who gets that one.
#21 is Damien Mizdow to a big pop, but Miz doesn’t want him to enter. Reigns knocks Miz off the apron to prevent his stealing Mizdow’s spot, but Mizdow is tossed out quickly by Rusev at 36:05 and does a comedy bit on the floor with Miz. #22 is Jack Swagger. #23 is The Ryback (and we finally get our first and only CM Punk chant). #24 is Corporate Kane. #25 is Dean Ambrose to rejuvenate the crowd again. #26 is Titus O’Neil, who tries to break Santino’s record, but botches it. Credit the elimination to Ambrose and Reigns at 43:43. #27 is Bad News Barrett. #28 is Cesaro to a lukewarm reaction, despite monstrous babyface pops in the opener. Rusev tosses Big E. at 48:30. #29 is the Big Show (flushes toilet). Ryback and Swagger are gone at around 50:00 thanks to the double-team efforts of Show and Kane. #30 is Dolph Ziggler, rounding out the field. He tosses Barrett at 51:22. Cesaro with the Swing, to little response, and he’s dumped by Ziggler at 52:19. Show KO’s Dolph with a punch, and he teams up with Kane to toss him at 53:13. Wyatt gets KO’ed too, and tossed at 53:33. Ambrose and Reigns battle it out with Show and Kane… wait, where’s Rusev? Ambrose makes a strong showing until getting laid out with a Chokeslam, and casually dumped at 55:30… and now we know the winner. Show and Kane do the same stupid turn-on-each-other and choke spot they always do, and Reigns dumps them at 57:34. They attack, and here’s THE ROCK to make the save. Then Rusev shows up, hiding outside the ring for reasons that make zero sense, but Reigns overcomes the odds and tosses him for the real victory at around 59:30 (Reigns Wins, LOL). ***1/4 Rumble started off really fun with great surprises entrances, but once Bryan was tossed, you felt the crowd die. They weren’t as vocal as last year, but still mustered a chant here and there and boo’ed Reigns, but the really awful part is that WWE knew this would happen, and the solution was hoping the fans would get over it, and try to suck up to us by trotting the Rock out for a pointless spot.
Final Thoughts: Nothing much to the undercard, but the World Title Triple Threat was just so awesome it’s a good thing nothing underneath would outshine it. The Tag Title Match was OK, the Diva’s are decent filler, and the Kickoff Match was fine, so really the only bad match was the Ascension/Outlaws. The Rumble is a tale of two matches. The first half hour was great fun, with well done booking, excellent choices for surprise entrances, and a hot crowd. Then it felt like a match on life support, and by the time Rock showed up, it was clear WWE’s only solution to fixing things is doing things their way and throwing us a bone we don’t even like. Mild Recommendation, but not the trainwreck quality fun as last years Rumble.