NWK Reviews WWE Royal Rumble 2004

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NWK2000
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NWK Reviews WWE Royal Rumble 2004

Post by NWK2000 » Mar 17th, '19, 18:46

(Philadelphia Pennsylvania, January 25, 2004)


Intro

Armageddon 2003 (which I am not reviewing) was a dark day for marks everywhere. Evolution captured all of Raw's titles, Mick Foley had been hired as Co-GM and fired two weeks later when he basically walked out on a Loser Leaves Town match, and Eric Bischoff was running amok. This more or less set up Stone Cold's return as "sheriff" where he got to ride around on ATV and overrule Eric Bischoff whenever he wanted, negating the events of the previous Survivor Series. But he made Triple H vs HBK for the title last man standing

Meanwhile, Paul Heyman had been making life hell for Cena and Benoit on Smackdown, and Hardcore Holly returned from a neck injury to gun for the man who did it, Brock Lesnar. The booking was all over the place, but did this lead to an exciting PPV? Let's find out.

Opening video package: Fate, choices, betrayal. It's just as melodramatic as anything else in 2003, but much more subdued and real.

WWE World Tag Team Championship: Tables Match
The Dudley Boyz vs Evolution (Batista and Ric Flair) (c)


Jonathan Coachmen is out here for being 3Ded by the Dudleyz in a silly segment, and basically telegraphs his own run in. What follows is a terrible match, with botched looking bumps. Batista hoofs a table away so Flair doesn't get double suplexed, by the table bounces off the ropes and lands on everyone. Coach will not shut up about running in, and does, costing The Dudleyz.

3.5/10

Coach interviews Ric Flair: Perfect crazy Flair. Almost saves this stinky opener.


WWE Crusierweight Championship
Rey Mysterio (c) vs Jamie Noble with Nidia


During entrances Tazz and Micheal Cole refer to Nidia exclusively as "his blind girlfriend" really hammering home that Nidia, the girl in the sunglasses and cane is blind.

This is a serviceable story, in which brawler Jamie grounds Rey early with stiff sounding strikes. Rey fires back, but gets cut off when an undershot springboard crossbody gets turned into a gut buster. Nidia erroneously trips Noble from the outside, setting him up for a 619 and legdrop to the back of the head. Post match Jamie yells at Nidia who insists she thought he was Rey. This was a fun match ground to a halt by a hokey finish.
6/`10
Rob Van Dam interrupts a John Cena interview with Josh Matthews: Great. Cena is in the middle of a promo about how he will win the Royal Rumble. RVD pops in and say he'll win. He says, "Oh c'mon, that was cool" and wanders off. Cena and Josh almost corpse, but Cena brings it back around saying he'll win. I wish we had good natured joshing between babyfaces more often.



Eddie vs Chavo video package: A tag team split up angle set to sad cowboy music, in which Kurt Angle plays peer mediator. Los Guerreros lose another title match and Chavo ends it for good. Also Chavo Sr. shows up. This was a good video package

Eddie Guerrero vs Chavo Guerrero w/ Chavo Sr.
]

Chavo inherits Eddie's WCW theme, which doesn't work for this angle.

The story here is that Eddie is going out of his way not to cheat against Chavo and outwrestle him whereas Chavo tries to fire Eddie up. Chavo goes for the three amigos but Eddie fights out of it, hits his signature stuff and wins. This was a good match by two great workers that told a good story
7/10
Post match: Eddie beats up brother and nephew, making sure to leave Chavo Jr bloody.

Hardcore Holly vs Brock Lesnar video package: AWESOME. This was some of Hardcore Holly's best mic work, and the brawls leading up to it felt very real.

WWE Championship Match
Hardcore Holly vs Brock Lesnar (c)


They start out with a fun brawl in the beginning, which comes to a complete halt with Hardcore misses a crossbody. This leads to Holly being made to look like a doofus for the entire middle of the match. Holly fights back with a big clothesline, big dropkick and hits the Alabama Slam. Holly locks in a Full Nelson, and tries to body scissor it, which Brock appears to legit fight. They do the "keep the submission on rolling out of the ring" spot that I love so much. Holly tries to lock it in while Brock is on the apron which allows Brock to do the rope neck snap on Holly. Brock looks hurt though and is crawling to Holly. Holly tries to lock it in again, gets hoofed off, and walks into an F5 for the sudden win. You really get the feeling that Brock barely won.

Hardcore Holly's comeback to the end was near perfection and brought this match back from almost a dud to above average. This is a WWE Title defense that's thumbed at as one of those ones where you can tell who's going to win just from the match card, and while that may be true, that really causes people to sleep on this match, which is pretty unjust in my opinion

6/10

HBK vs HHH video package: Great! They set this up like this whole feud comes from Triple H being pissed off that he was a sidekick and erroneously claiming that he was HBK's kickstand. It's that blend of correct and incorrect that I can look back on this feud and appreciate

World Heavyweight Championship Match: Last Man Standing
Shawn Michaels vs Triple H (c)


The way that this match starts doesn't really give me an idea that they hate each other. Michaels waits calmly for Triple H to do his entrance, and then they chain wrestle, which includes a bridge an attempt at a backslide. However, once HBK locks in the figure four, the shit's on. What follows is a teased announce table bump, which eventually segues into HBK hitting a Springboard Crossbody and absolutely eating shit on the table, allowing him to blade. What goes from there is an amazing babyface comeback in which, over the course of 15 minutes, allows HBK to whittle away at Triple H. The finish of the match comes when HBK hits a Sweet Chin Music, but neither man can answer the referee's count, so the match ends in a draw.

You can tell Triple H has been listening to Ric Flair talk about Dusty finishes every day on the road, but this is a finish that I liked. HBK won the match without winning it. Stuff like this is why I shy away from modern reviews, because certain angles have to be viewed with the benefit of hindsight. This allows me to appreciate matches inside of a vacuum, and I can say that this is an amazing match.

9/10

2004 Royal Rumble video package: Didn't like it. This makes the case for two people with storyline specific entries, Goldberg, who won a Battle Royal to be #30, and Benoit who fought his way in, only to be placed at #`1 by vindictive Paul Heyman. Also it shows Randy Orton spitting on Mick Foley for no reason, telegraphing something major for tonight

The Royal Rumble is due to start, but we get a Bischoff, Heyman, and Austin segment in the ring instead: Bischoff interrupts Fink's ring announcing to put over Raw and bury Smackdown and Heyman. Heyman comes out, and the two cat fight, causing Austin to stun them both. This reeked of modern WWE filler, BUT it sows up a plothole for later tonight
Goldberg and Brock Lesnar interact: Just as bad as Survivor Series, but at least Brock has Goldberg's title loss to use as ammo to come across like a dick
The 2004 Royal Rumble
This is the first Royal Rumble in which #1 and #2 (Orton and Benoit) both went for long periods of time. This Rumble has a lot going against it to a modern viewer. It's low on surprise entrants, (Mick Foley attacks Test, but Austin allows him to replace him because he's the only authority figure able to after the pre-match segment). It's low on comedy, (Ernest Miller and his sidekick Lamont get eliminated by Orton and Benoit), and it's low on spots (Rhyno goring Mark Henry who's being Tarantulaed by Tajiri causing Tajiri to be eliminated, or Goldberg spearing Nunzio out of this plane of existence)

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But what it's high on is set-up for Wrestlemania. Beyond Benoit winning, and progressively taking out bigger men as he does, and the Orton/Foley confrontation, there's also Undertaker being teased which causes Kane to be eliminated and murder Spike Dudley, this also sets up Goldberg vs Brock as Brock interferes. This is a great Royal Rumble because Benoit was a true surprise win, and it's the start of a series of amazing perfomances for him.

8/10


Conclusion


This is absolutely required viewing before you watch Mania 20 (which BRM has already done a fantastic review on), but on its own, the Last Man Standing match and Royal Rumble Match are amazing, as well as the Guerrero match.
Up next on NWK Reviews
Matt Riddle's/Josh Barnett's Bloodsport
AAA When World Collide
WWE Wrestlemania 21
NWA-TNA Weekly Shows
WWE New Year's Revolution 2006

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