January 24, 2010
Alexander Settee

Royal Rumble 2005, January 30, 2005, Save Mart Center, Fresno, CA
Announcers: The Teams of: Michael Cole & Tazz, and Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler

As the buildup for the 2010 Royal Rumble continues, here’s a look back five years to the 2005 version.

Opening Match: Edge vs. Shawn Michaels
Edge had turned heel based off of the voting results at Taboo Tuesday back in October where Shawn won the vote to get the World Title Match. He claimed that if not for Shawn, he would have won the vote, and would be champion right now. Shawn was actually injured on the Raw right before that PPV, and although he gutted out that match, he then spent some time on the shelf which is why this match has been held off until now. Edge tries to jump him, but Shawn gets the better of it and clotheslines Edge to the floor. Back in, Shawn controls, but puts his head down on a whip and takes a neckbreaker. Edge’s whip is then reversed and Shawn gets a Thesz press and some punches. He tosses Edge, but misses a baseball slide which leads to a brawl on the floor. Edge then puts him down and connects with his own baseball slide. Back in, Edge gets a sitdown powerbomb for 2. He holds a rear chinlock, and cuts off comebacks by using the hair. Shawn backdrops him to the apron, but Edge pulls him down on the ropes. Edge goes up, but misses a crossbody and gets Oklahoma rolled for 2. Edge hits a crescent kick for 2, but then Shawn falls on top of him on a suplex for a 2 of his own. Edge clotheslines him down and goes back to the rear chinlock. He tries using the hair again, but this time Shawn is ahead of the game and connects with a knee, clothesline and inverted atomic drop. Shawn mounts him for punches in the corner, which Edge tries to counter with an atomic drop, but Shawn ends up with a sunset flip for 2. Shawn then catapults him to the post for another 2. Edge bails, with Shawn chasing him and the ref trying to break it up, but Edge takes advantage of that and gets Shawn with a spear on the floor. He gets in and tries for the countout win, but Shawn makes it in at 9. Edge mocks Shawn’s setup for Sweet Chin Music, hitting a spear instead, but it only gets 2. He’s clearly frustrated now. He sets Shawn on top and they fight up there with Shawn knocking him down and then dropping the elbow. Shawn now does his setup, but Edge ducks SCM, lifts Shawn up and drops him with an electric chair for 2. They get up and start trading shots, with Edge then sending Shawn off the ropes. Shawn goes for a sunset flip, but Edge rolls through to the Edgecator. Shawn struggles, but eventually makes the ropes. Edge goes for it again, but Shawn cradles him for 2. Shawn then escapes a slam and rolls him up, but Edge then reverses it, grabs the ropes, and holds on for the 3 count at 18:33. This was a really good match here as Edge kicks off a year that would see him rise to main event status. The finish is kind of cheap, but it does fit with Edge’s desire to beat Shawn no matter how he has to do it. ***1/2

Now we go backstage to the office where General Managers Eric Bischoff and Teddy Long are debating the merits of their respective shows. It’s also time for the Royal Rumble drawing which, will be supervised by Christy Hemme and Torrie Wilson. First up are Ric Flair and Eddie Guerrero. Flair is stoked about his number, and Eddie not so much. Eddie gives him a hug and then leaves as Flair continues to brag about his number. He shows it off, but everyone asks how he can be excited about that number, so he looks again and then takes off after Eddie, who apparently managed to switch them.

Then it’s on to John Heidenreich who muses about his hatred of caskets. But he needn’t worry, because his creepy BFF Gene Snitsky has a plan.

Casket Match: John Heidenreich vs. The Undertaker
This match is several months in the making as Heidenreich had cost Taker the WWE Title at two PPV’s last year, so Taker was granted this match, and was allowed to pick the stipulation, so he picked a Casket Match. Heidenreich’s thing was that while he was not afraid of Taker, he was afraid of caskets, so he wasn’t too happy about this idea. They start with Taker getting him in a side headlock and pulling him towards the casket, so Heidenreich breaks it and moves away. They do it again with Taker being sent off, but hitting a shoulderblock. Most of the stuff early on is built around establishing that Heidenreich doesn’t want to be within ten feet of the casket. They go to the floor with Heidenreich reversing a whip and sending Taker barreling into the casket. His confidence perhaps raised by the realization that it makes a good weapon, Heidenreich rams Taker to the casket a couple of times, and then gets him back in the ring. He taunts Taker, but then quickly finds himself locked in a triangle choke. Snitsky, whose plan apparently amounted to “I’ll run in when I see you in trouble”, does just that and breaks the hold. It’s even better with Michael Cole appalled at the fact that there’s a Raw guy getting involved in this here Smackdown match. Intra-brand interference would be fine I guess, but this is too much. So they double team Taker for a bit and then ask for the casket to be opened, but it turns out that Kane is inside. He pops out and cleans house, then takes Snitsky over the barrier and they brawl through the crowd and out of sight. Meanwhile, Heidenreich has begun carefully pushing the casket away from the ring, but Taker meets him there and rams him to it. His whip to the steps is reversed though and he flies over them. Heidenreich lifts the mats up, and then runs Taker to the apron a couple of times. He then return to the casket, and wheels it right into Taker. Back in the ring, Heidenreich uses a cobra clutch to put Taker out and then rolls him into the casket, but Taker gets his arm out so it can’t be closed. He fires back, and lays Heidenreich halfway into the casket, and then he closes it and drops a leg on the lid. He then goes for the chokeslam, but Heidenreich comes back with a headbutt. Taker gets the boot up on a charge though, but runs into a side slam. Heidenreich covers, with Taker even giving him the phantom pinfall, but that of course doesn’t count here tonight. So he drags Taker to the casket and rolls him in, but Taker suddenly recovers and grabs him by the throat. He gets out and it breaks down to a slugfest. Taker then hits him with a DDT, followed by a chokeslam and the Tombstone. Heidenreich is out, so Taker rolls him in and shuts the lid for the win at 13:21. This one wasn’t that good, which I figured going in considering who was involved. ½*

Back in the locker room, Teddy Long is working on getting Flair’s number back from Eddie when all of Evolution storms in. Eddie ends up giving it back, along with Flair’s wallet, before any violence breaks out, but they let Eddie know he’d better watch himself in the Rumble. Batista then wants to go draw his number, but HHH wants to discuss the game plan for the evening. Things get tense, but Flair keeps the peace.

And the it’s back to the office as Christian and John Cena are there for the draw, with Christian being pleased when he sees his number. He then takes on Cena in a rap off (“Tomko, give me a beat.”). I guess the idea was that Cena embarrassed him, but I don’t care for rap in the least and think they both sounded stupid.

WWE Championship Match: John “Bradshaw” Layfield vs. Kurt Angle vs. Big Show
The story here is that Big Show orchestrated a Last Man Standing Match between Angle and JBL on this week’s Smackdown, so he’s fresh while they come in selling the beating they put on each other. Angle bails to the floor right away, leaving Show and JBL to go at it. Show pretty much dominates that, beating JBL down and dropping a leg for 2. Angle came in for the save, so Show beats him up too. JBL nails him and tries a suplex, but Show reverses, and then nails Angle with a big boot. He clotheslines both guys to the floor, then joins them to continue the beating. He sends JBL to the post and beats down Angle to give him time to place the steps adjacent to the table, and then get the table itself ready. He goes for the chokeslam on JBL, but Angle nails him low. He then hits Show with the monitor and Show falls through the table. This puts him down for awhile, so Angle rams JBL to the barrier and beats on him. In the ring, he starts working the arm. JBL eventually fires out and hits a corner clothesline. He whips Angle back, but Angle goes behind and hits a German suplex. He can’t get a second one though. JBL comes off the ropes, but misses a clothesline and now Angle gets the next German. JBL avoids the Angle Slam and hits a big boot for 2. Show finally makes it back and clotheslines both guys. He continues running wild for a bit, slamming JBL onto Angle, and then splashing both guys in the corner. He sets Angle for the chokeslam, but Angle kicks off and JBL clips the leg at the same time. Angle then hits another German suplex on JBL and covers Show for 2. He gets Show with the Angle Slam, but takes a boot from JBL, who covers Show, who kicks out at 2. JBL then walks into a chokeslam, but gets his foot on the ropes at 2. He rolls to the floor, where Show spears him though the barrier. Meanwhile, Angle has a chair in the ring, but he hides it until Show comes in and then he nails him with it. Out on the floor, they’re selling the spear through the barrier like JBL is dead as the stretcher is brought out and The Cabinet comes out to check on their leader. Back in the ring, Show has flapjacked Angle onto the chair and he covers, but now Angle’s goons Mark Jindrak and Luther Reigns run in and pull the ref out. They double team Show on the floor to put him out. On the other side, Orlando Jordan sees a vulnerable Angle in the ring, so he rolls the half conscious JBL back in, with JBL nailing the Clothesline From Hell and covering for the 3 count to retain at 12:05. Screwy finishes were par for the course during JBL’s Title reign, and this was obviously no exception. The match was just a typical WWE three way with nothing special going on. *1/2

So now Batista makes his way to draw his number, but en route, he runs into Carlito, who wants him to sign a petition to have Teddy Long removed as GM of Smackdown. Batista’s not interested, so Carlito preps the apple, but Batista successfully intimidates him into backing off. By the way, while 2010 Batista is no small man, 2005 Batista must be twice the size of today’s version. I mean he is jacked up beyond belief at this point. So he goes in to draw his number and finds Bischoff and Long arguing the merits of the last match. Bischoff says all the interference was a bad thing, so to prove a point he is banning Evolution from ringside during the upcoming World Title Match. Batista gets a smirk on his face as he lets Bischoff know that he’ll pass that on to HHH.

World Heavyweight Championship Match: Triple H vs. Randy Orton
Back at Summerslam, Orton won the World Title from Chris Benoit, and then got kicked right out of Evolution for his troubles. He became a babyface, and the fans were behind him for his feud with HHH, but then he went right out and lost the Title to him at Unforgiven, crippling his momentum. It appears the idea was for him to chase the Title and eventually regain it, but the booking was pretty poor and just resulted in him getting less and less over. Ironically, the other member of Evolution, Dave Batista, was booked perfectly (assuming the plan all along was for him to main event Wrestlemania), to the point where by now the fans want him to be the one to dethrone HHH, making Orton the odd man out. So with time to kill until that happens, Orton gets one final shot at HHH here, while Batista goes into the Rumble later on as one of the heavy favourites. HHH gets in Orton’s face, so Orton slaps him and we’re underway. Orton gets a shoulderblock and a backslide for 2. He then hits a backdrop and goes for the RKO, but HHH escapes. Orton follows him to the floor and rams him to the apron, and then gets him back in for a dropkick for 2. HHH gets him with a knee to take over, but when he mounts Orton for punches in the corner, Orton steps out and drops him on the buckle. He goes for the RKO again, but HHH throws him off to the floor. HHH then whips him to the steps. Back in, HHH works him over for a bit. Orton makes a comeback to the sound of boos and a mild yet very noticeable “Randy Sucks” chant. HHH cuts him off by clipping the knee, which was hurt coming in due to a previous attack, and then posting it. He works on that for a bit, and then tries a figure four, but Orton small packages him for 2 to more boos. Now HHH hooks the figure four. Orton nearly has the ropes, but HHH drags him back to the middle. So now Orton turns it over, but HHH is in the ropes so it’s broken. He works over Orton’s knee some more, by going to the floor and ramming it to the apron. Orton buys himself some time by kicking HHH off over the announce table. HHH gets in, but takes the backbreaker. The crowd dynamic here is kinda weird as they’re not cheering HHH, but they seem to hate Orton more. Orton wins a slugfest and then gets a neckbreaker for 2. Powerslam gets another 2, and then he mounts HHH for punches in the corner only to get atomic dropped. HHH goes up, but Orton slams him off. So now Orton goes up, and comes off with a crossbody for 2. He puts his head down on a whip though and takes a facebuster. HHH goes for the Pedigree, but Orton scoops the legs and catapults him to the buckle. RKO is blocked yet again, and then HHH hits a high knee for 2. Orton escapes the Pedigree again and nails a clothesline for 2. They go to the floor where Orton rams him to the barrier and the steps, and then back in the ring where HHH blocks a DDT by hanging onto the ropes. Off of that, Orton sells like he fell on his head and was knocked silly. The ref is checking on him, but HHH charges and the ref goes down in the collision. HHH takes some shots to the head with Orton still having a glazed over look in his eyes. HHH goes for the sledgehammer, but before he can use it, Orton grabs the tights and sends HHH to the post. Orton is still gone, but he sees the sledge and slowly goes for it. As he sets up, HHH comes back out with a clothesline. With the ref stirring and Orton essentially done anyways, HHH then decides against using the sledge and just finishes Orton off with a Pedigree at 21:29. Obviously this was the end of the line for babyface Orton, so he was suitably killed off here, and given where they were going with the Batista thing, HHH had to win either way. The match was good, but nothing special. Incidentally, I think that could describe most of the matches they’ve ever had with each other in the years since too. ***

Kurt Angle is in a foul mood, and since he lost his Title match earlier, he wants in the Rumble. He steals away Nunzio’s number, daring him to try something if he’s got a problem with it, but Nunzio backs off. Here’s what bugs me about stuff like this. Being in the main event of Wrestlemania is supposed to be the biggest thing that can happen to a wrestler. They tell us this all the time, so in their world, it’s true. Nunzio just had his chance to get there taken away, and he does nothing about it? Isn’t this supposed to mean everything to him? But he just walks away, like oh well, that’s too bad? Obviously everyone and their Mother knows Nunzio isn’t winning anyways, but if we’re suspending disbelief, then I can’t accept that he would care so little about this. Not to mention that on this very show, we saw Eddie Guerrero steal a number and be forced to give it back, so what the Hell even are the rules?

And finally, JBL and The Cabinet barge into the office with the victory celebration well underway. Teddy Long informs him that because Big Show wasn’t pinned tonight, he’s still the number one contender, and he will challenge JBL for the Title at No Way Out in a barbed wire cage match. Sounds like a trainwreck.

Main Event: 2005 Royal Rumble Match
They mix up the announcing teams here as we get JR from Raw and Tazz from Smackdown to call this thing. They announce that the intervals are 90 seconds this year. Eddie Guerrero, complete with low rider entrance is #1, while Chris Benoit, who won from #1 last year, gets #2 this year. They go back and forth for a bit until #3 is Daniel Puder. He won Million Dollar Tough Enough on Smackdown recently (incidentally the runner up was current US Champion The Miz), and a spot in the Rumble was said to be part of his prize. His case is an interesting, yet long story, so I won’t go into it here. Anyways, this here tonight is an initiation for young Mr. Puder and nothing more. First he grabs a mic and announces that he’s going to win, then he gets in the ring and is immediately cornered and double teamed. Some of the hardest chops you’ll ever see follow and he just has to stand there and take them. After enough of those they bump him around a bit until Hardcore Holly is #4, and JR makes sure to note that he hates rookies. Benoit and Guerrero are more than happy to let him get his shots in, so Puder takes more hard chops and an Alabama Jam that looked like Holly put everything he could into. Holly mercifully tosses him to end the slaughter, only to be tossed himself moments later. The Hurricane is #5, and he gets to take some chops as well, but they’re done with roughly one tenth the force of the ones Puder took. Guerrero tries to throw Benoit out at one point, but in the end they combine to eliminate Hurricane. #6 is Kenzo Suzuki, and he manages to hold his own, lasting the full segment. #7 is Edge who charges in and runs wild on everyone. #8 is Rey Mysterio, who charges in and runs wild on everyone. He eliminates Kenzo with a headscissors. #9 is Shelton Benjamin, who, sing along with me, charges in and runs wild on everyone. #10 is Booker T, and he’s followed by Eric Bischoff who is out to cheer on the Raw guys. #11 is Chris Jericho, and he’s followed by Teddy Long cheering on the Smackdown guys. #12 is Luther Reigns, and at the urging of the GM’s each team comes together with Benoit, Edge, Jericho, and Shelton on Team Raw against Guerrero, Rey, Booker, and Reigns on Team Smackdown. The crowd goes nuts for this for some reason. I guess they still believed in the brand split at this point. So then, Muhammad Hassan comes out at #13, and apparently hatred of him crosses brand lines as everyone stops and surrounds him. The beatdown is short and he’s gone just like that. #14 is TNA Superstar Orlando Jordan and he goes right for Luther Reigns to continue the issue from earlier. #15 is Scotty 2 Hotty who dances his way down, but then gets jumped by Hassan and Daivari and laid out. He never makes it to the ring. #16 is Charlie Haas, who makes no impact. Booker clotheslines Luther Reigns out, and then quickly follows up with Orlando Jordan. That calls for a Spinarooni, but then Rey dropkicks him with Guerrero pulling the ropes down and out he goes too. #17 is Rene Dupree. The World’s Greatest Tag Team reunites briefly to work him over. Shelton then tires a Stinger splash on Edge, who moves, with Shelton landing on the top rope, and then Edge shoves him out to the floor. #18 is Simon Dean, and he spends the entire segment warming up on the floor, just beating the buzzer in. Also during this segment, Edge tosses Guerrero out. #19 is Shawn Michaels, who wants another piece of Edge. He also clotheslines Simon Dean out, and gets Haas with a backdrop as well. #20 is Kurt Angle. I went off on this earlier, but now there’s more. The fact that he gets his music, and on screen graphic suggests that WWE agreed that it’s ok for him to enter after stealing a number. So why doesn’t everybody who’s not entered just do that then? Anyways, he suplexes everyone, then goes for the ankle lock on Shawn. Shawn counters it and Superkicks Angle out. #21 is Jonathan Coachman, entered as a favour from Eric Bischoff. He takes a shot at Benoit, and then cowers in fear in the corner where he stays for quite awhile actually. #22 is Mark Jindrak as Angle comes back in and tosses Shawn, which apparently counts unlike when Vader did it in 96 as we saw last week. He then nails Shawn with the steps, busting him open, and then hooks him in the ankle lock until the refs and agents pull him off. You know, as stupid as this stuff with Angle was, it did build to what turned out to be a ***** match at Wrestlemania, so I forgive it. #23 is Viscera, but he has no effect. #24 is Paul London. Dupree sets him up for the French Tickler only to be tossed by Jericho before he can complete it. #25 is John Cena, who would be the co-favourite along with Batista. He quickly low bridges Viscera out. #26 is Gene Snitsky and he dumps London to the apron, then clotheslines him and London takes a sick flip bump landing face first on the floor. They stretcher him out, and I don’t know if that was worked or not, but it looked and sounded brutal. #27 is Kane, who comes for another showdown with Snitsky. He then chokeslams everyone and tosses Jindrak. Coach tries a shot, which seems stupid, but Snitsky makes the save for him. #28 is Dave Batista, to a huge reaction. He gets rid of Snitsky right away, and then drops Kane with a Batista Bomb. Jericho tries with him and is gone about five seconds later. #29 is Christian, who wants Cena for their earlier confrontation, but that ends badly for him. Cena then FU’s Kane to the floor. #30 is Ric Flair, entering at 47:46, so the average interval was 1:42. The finalist list is: Benoit (#2), Edge (#7), Rey (#8), Coach (#21), Cena (#25), Batista (#28), Christian (#29), and Flair (#30). Flair and Batista immediately join forces for a double team on Coach with Flair then tossing him. Their next victim is Christian, and Batista sends him packing. He then eliminates Benoit, who gets the Ironman Award as a consolation prize. Then Flair looks to toss Batista, but Batista buts it off. Flair acts like that’s not what he was trying, but nothing comes of it tonight. They get dropkicked by Rey and Edge, with Edge then throwing Flair out. The final four stare each other down for a bit until Edge spears both Cena and Batista. Rey avoids it though and hits a 619. The springboard misses though and Edge tosses him to the apron, and then spears him to the floor. Edge then charges at Cena and Batista, only to be backdropped out. This leaves the epic showdown of Cena and Batista. They slug away and finishers are teased. On a Batista Bomb try, Cena hooks him and they tumble over the top to the floor together. Good job on them for managing to land at the same time from the position they started in. So the Raw refs declare Batista the winner, while the Smackdown refs call it for Cena. No one knows what to do, so Vince McMahon charges in, tearing his quad in the process to hear the cases. While this is going on, Batista tosses Cena, who comes right back in and tosses him out. Vince finally orders that the match will be restarted. So they go with Cena trying an FU, but Batista escapes and hits a spinebuster. He then tosses Cena to win it at 55:59. Very good Rumble here this year, although I could do without stuff like the Puder thing, and Jonathan Coachman being in the match at all. The finish worked out really well as the fans were going nuts over who was going to be declared the winner, and thankfully they let it come down to a real winner instead of doing a stupid draw like in 94. ****

So this turned out to be a pretty good show. Half the undercard was good with HHH/Orton, and moreso Edge/Shawn, and then it was capped off with that Rumble match that really delivered. The low point was obviously the Casket Match, but that’s a small part of the show and doesn’t drag it down that badly. I’ll go Thumbs Up for Royal Rumble 2005.

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