March 5, 2011
Alexander Settee

Royal Rumble 2011, January 30, 2011, TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA
Announcers: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, & Matt Striker

The 2011 PPV calendar kicks off here with the Royal Rumble, headlined by the Rumble match itself now featuring 40 guys. Since it basically just means adding the Superstars crew, who wouldnít have even been missed otherwise, I donít think itís a big deal, but itís different, if nothing else. The one Iím looking forward to is Edge and Dolph Ziggler as Iíve been a fan of Dolph for a while now and Iím glad to see him get a shot on a big stage. Besides that we have only two other matches as obviously the Rumble is slated to get a lot of time, so letís get to it.

Opening Match, World Heavyweight Championship: Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guerrero)

The Setup: Ziggler won a number one contenders four way on Smackdown to get the shot here, and in an effort to stack the deck in her mans favour, acting Smackdown GM Vickie Guerrero has ruled that if Edge uses the spear, he ill be disqualified and lose the Title.

The Action: Edge controls early on until Ziggler catches him coming into the ring with a boot and starts going to work on the neck. Itís fine, but not great in the early going, but then they get to a point where it kinda takes off. Edge gets a faceplant for 2, and then counters the Fameasser to a powerbomb for another 2. He goes up, with Ziggler joining him, but getting knocked back. Edge then comes off with a crossbody, but Ziggler rolls through for 2. Dropkick gets Ziggler another 2. Zig Zag is blocked, and Edge hooks an inverted Sharpshooter, but Ziggler makes the ropes. Edge then misses a rope straddle and takes the Fameasser for 2. He recovers and sets up the spear, but then holds off. He does get an implant DDT for 2 as Vickie pulls the ref out. She and Edge have words, and Ziggler almost collides with her, but then gets rolled up for 2. Vickie gets involved again, but now Kelly Kelly comes out of nowhere and lays her out. This distraction gives Ziggler the chance to hit the Zig Zag, but Edge kicks out at 2. The crowd, by the way, is losing its mind more and more on each passing nearfall. Next, the ref gets bumped, and so with no authority figures around, Edge connects with a spear. He then waits for the ref to recover and follows with an Unprettier for the 3 count to retain at 20:47.

The Verdict: This was really good and they did a tremendous job of getting the crowd into it and making them buy nearfalls, even off of things that arenít normally finishers. My complaint here would be that the late part of the match didnít really flow well. It was just hit a big move for a nearfall, then regroup and do it again. But regardless, I still really enjoyed it. ****

WWE Championship Match: The Miz (w/Alex Riley) vs. Randy Orton

The Setup: Miz beat him in a tables match last month, but Orton gets all the Title shots he wants apparently.

The Action: Michael Cole is getting more over the top by the week in his cheerleading of Miz, to the point where it really is detracting in my opinion. Orton takes it to Miz until Riley gets involved to turn the tide. That doesnít last long though as Orton is soon on him again, getting a superplex for 2. The hanging DDT is countered by backdropping Orton to the floor, and now the Champ finally gets some sustained offence. A countout is teased, but Orton makes it in and attacks with the powerslam, Garvin stomp, and a kneedrop for 2. Miz tries walking out, But Orton stops him and puts him back in. They trade for a bit until Orton hits the hanging DDT and sets up the RKO, but now we have Nexus out for the distraction. Riley gets launched on to all of them, but the smokescreen allows CM Punk to come in and hit the GTS. He throws Miz on top, just to make it totally clear heís a fluke champ, and he gets the 3 count at 19:50.

The Verdict: Obviously Miz is the Honky Tonk Man of 2011, but I donít know if thatís a good thing for your WWE Champion to be. A secondary belt is one thing, but this guy is theoretically the top guy, and all theyíre doing with him is making it clear that he doesnít belong. Plus, this was just to setup Orton/Punk, so again he comes off as not being important. The match itself was alright, although I really didnít like what they were going for overall. **1/2

Divas Championship Match: Natalya vs. Michelle McCool vs. Layla vs. Eve Torres

The Setup: This was originally set to be Natalya against LayCool in a handicap match, but the Raw GM intervened and added Eve at the last minute to make it a four way.

The Action: Layla and Michelle clear the ring and then tease going at it, but weíll never know as Natalya trips Layla up and Eve attacks Michelle. The faces then have no problems taking each other on. Natalya gets a double Sharpshooter on Layla and Eve, but Michelle breaks it. LayCool is back to double teaming until Michelle accidentally kicks Layla. Natalya takes out Michelle and Eve then lays Natalya out. Even then hits a moonsault on Layla and covers for the 3 count to win the Title at 5:13. They play up that thereís controversy as Michelle had Natalya rolled up on the other side of the ring at the same time, but the ref only counted Eveís pin, which I guess will result in Michelle ending up as number one contender (as shocking as that is).

The Verdict: This was the standard womenís PPV match, no better or worse than usual. Hopefully Awesome Kong can breathe some life into these matches soon. Ĺ*

Main Event, 2011 Royal Rumble Match

The Setup: As noted, we have 40 entrants this year, and theyíve announced 90 second intervals so it should end up being around the same length as a 30 man one with 2:00 intervals. Of the guys that have been announced, John Cena, Alberto Del Rio, and CM Punk are probably the top three favourites, although a surprise returnee could always take it, and with no clear direction for Wrestlemania anyways, several underdogs canít be completely ruled out either.

The Action: CM Punk comes out at #1, and heís followed by The Corre. Nexus quickly comes to their leadersí aid and a big brawl breaks out. The GM comes on and orders them to break it up or theyíll be disqualified. Daniel Bryan then comes out as #2 and the match is underway. They go toe to toe until Justin Gabriel is #3 and he goes right for Punk. Bryan knocks Punk down in position for the 450, which Gabriel tries, but misses, and he gets tossed. Zack Ryder is #4 and he doesnít even last the whole segment as he gets hiptossed out by Bryan. #5 is William Regal, who beats up both guys for a bit. This would probably be a good three way match, come to think of it. Ted Dibiase is #6, and he runs wild. #7 is John Morrison, and he also runs wild. He then does a crazy bit where Regal knocks him out, but he catches himself on the barrier with out his feet hitting the floor. He then pulls himself up, walks along it and leaps across to the steps so he can get back in the ring. That could easily have gone wrong, but he pulled it off perfectly, so good for him. Regal was eliminated while he was doing that. #8 is Yoshi Tatsu, who makes no impact. #9 is Husky Harris, so Punk now has a bodyguard. Chavo Guerrero is #10, and his deal is that he keeps trying the Three Amigos on various guys, but gets cut off after the second one until finally completing it on Daniel Bryan. Mark Henry is #11 and he dumps Chavo and Tatsu. JTG is #12, followed by Mike McGillicutty at #13, who tosses him. McGillicutty then teams up with Harris to dump Dibiase. Chris Masters is #14 and he gets the Master Lock on Punk, who is immediately saved. David Otunga is #15 and now with four members in, Nexus beings to dominate as Masters, Bryan, Morrison, and Henry are all gone in short order. #16 is Tyler Reks and 4 on 1 is too much for him as heís quickly out. Itís the same story for Vladimir Kozlov at #17 and R-Truth at #18. #19 is the returning Great Khali, who gets rid of Husky Harris and takes command, but Mason Ryan replenishes Nexusí ranks at #20 and he takes out Khali leaving them four strong in the ring again. #21 is Booker T, who gets a huge reaction for his surprise return. He gets all the signature spots in, but then they immediately deflate the crowd by tossing him like many a jobber. #22 is John Cena, who had vowed to eliminate all of Nexus for the match tonight. Indeed he runs through Ryan, Otunga, and McGillicutty to leave himself alone with Punk. #23 is Hornswoggle as Punk gets a token shot in on Cena before getting eliminated, although he does take home the Ironman award as a consolation prize. Tyson Kidd is #24 and you can see the humiliation coming a mile away. Indeed he takes the AA from Cena almost immediately, followed by one from Hornswoggle before getting dumped. #25 is Heath Slater, who takes a double Five Knuckle Shuffle and the Tadpole Splash before going home again. Kofi Kingston is #26 and he and Cena showdown like a couple of main eventers might, but it doesnít get much of a reaction. Kofi does get to hold his own with him, so there may be plans in the works for Kofi, but this reaction wonít help him at all. Jack Swagger is #27 and he takes it to both guys until Hornswoggle distracts him and Kofi connects with a crossbody. Hornswoggle then assists with the Boom Drop. #28 is King Sheamus, who stalks Hornswoggle until Cena saves. Swagger lays Cena out though and that gives Sheamus the chance to boot the little guy out. Rey Mysterio is #29 and he puts Swagger on the floor with a 619. Wade Barrett is #30, and he renews his feud with Cena. Our first ever #31 is Dolph Ziggler, who gets no reaction even though they were super hot for him match earlier. #32 is not Kevin Nash, but rather Diesel, who gets another big nostalgia reaction. The announcers really date him by talking about his big run in 1994, which was in fact seventeen years ago. #33 is Drew McIntyre and he forms an alliance with Sheamus against Diesel. Alex Riley is #34 and with him comes The Miz to do commentary. Wade Barrett puts Diesel out with a big boot and the crowd boos. Itís really telling about the state of the current product when two of the biggest reactions of the match go to nostalgia guys, and almost none of the starts of today are over at all here. Big Show is #35 and he has a staredown with Diesel on the way out before getting in and unceremoniously tossing Dolph, who was challenging for the World Title two hours ago. Riley also goes out at this point, in what was apparently a screw up. His return later on to do the distraction spot he needed to do seems to support that theory. Ezekiel Jackson is #36 as McIntyre gets eliminated. Zeke then gets Show out. #37 is Santino Marella, who succeeds in lasting longer than last year, although he gets booted by Sheamus and rolls to the floor. Heís not officially eliminated though, which becomes important later. Alberto Del Rio is #38, and his entrance takes the whole segment to the point where Randy Orton comes out at #39 and beats him up in the aisle on his way down. Orton then runs wild with RKOís and gets rid of Sheamus. Then only he and Cena are left standing so they go for the big staredown, and the place just goes silent. I guarantee that they thought it would be this epic moment, but clearly no one cares about seeing this match again. Finally we get Kane to complete the field at #40, so no HHH return here. Kane entered at 61:30, so the average interval was actually 1:37. Our finalists are: Cena (#22), Mysterio (#29), Barrett (#30), Zeke (#36), Santino (#37), Del Rio (#38), Orton (#39), and Kane (#40). Kane quickly low bridges Zeke out, followed by Rey taking Kane out with a headscissors. Barrett then tosses Rey. They do another Cena/Orton staredown, and this time they go at it to the same apathetic reaction. Riley then runs back out and distracts Cena so Miz can charge in from behind and throw him out, so thereís Wrestlemania for you I guess. Orton gets double teamed, but comes back to toss Barrett, and then Del Rio comes from behind and dumps him to seemingly win it. But of course we still have Santino, and the fans react like they believe he might pull it off. He connects with the Cobra, but makes the mistake of celebrating too early, so when he finally does go to toss him, Del Rio shifts the weight and gets Santino out to officially win it at 69:54.

The Verdict: This was a good Rumble. Even with the periods where guys were waiting for the next one to come out it never felt like it dragged or anything, and I think the ending was creative and different from what they might normally do. Del Rio as winner is a fine choice, and hopefully he does well at Wrestlemania. ****1/4

Overall Thoughts: This was definitely a really good show overall. The Rumble and Edge/Ziggler lead the way by both hitting ****, and well, thatís the majority of the show right there. Miz/Orton is ok and the Divas match is a Divas match, but neither drag it down badly or anything and so itís a pretty easy Thumbs Up for Royal Rumble 2011.

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