It’s the 31st and you haven’t seen it yet, so you’ve probably figured out that today was the day for BRM’s Monthly “This Day in Wrestling History” Review Series! Today we’re going to watch a show that became a lot more relevant over the past week, but I promise you that I had planned to watch this show all along, for reasons that will become clear to you in this very column throughout the course of this year (and you’ll learn just how insanely ahead of time I plan these things). Edge’s return and McIntyre’s Rumble win do make this show rather interesting to go back and watch right now, but the real reasons I came here (in addition to the Edge return, which I actually haven’t seen before) are the Piggy James blow-off and the crazy match-up that is Rey Mysterio vs. The Undertaker, both of which I saw ten years ago, and haven’t seen since, and I’m very curious as to whether or not my views on them will change. Anyway, grab some popcorn and strap in for our first Royal Rumble… WWE Royal Rumble 2010.
ECW HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Christian(c) vs. Ezekiel Jackson (w/William Regal) - 6/10
They told the story of Christian needing to use speed and momentum to overcome Jackson’s tremendous size and power advantage. The one negative here was that the finish came out of nowhere. I know that sounds like it would work in a match like this, but in this case it didn’t, as Christian had just taken a big upside down ramming into the turnbuckle from Jackson, then managed to slip free and immediately hit the Kill Switch for the win, pretty much no-selling Jackson’s offense.
CRYME TYME ASK TEDDY LONG FOR A SECOND SPOT IN THE ROYAL RUMBLE - Both dumb and offensive. We start off with Teddy Long complementing Tiffany on the good match her wrestlers just put on. Teddy declared that Tiffany has “really got it goin’ on over there on ECW.” Two days after this, Vince McMahon would show up and announce that ECW was being cancelled, and it would be off the air in a matter of weeks, making Teddy look like an idiot.
Then Cryme Tyme showed up. They complained to Teddy that for the second year straight, they had only been given on Royal Rumble spot between the two of them. On the one hand, that’s a dick move on Teddy’s part, but on the other hand, they’re a tag team, and not one that was doing much winning, so they’re actually lucky they got a spot at all.
They then told Teddy that they had “coerced” someone into giving him their spot. They called The Great Khali over and explained to Teddy that they had told Khali that if he gave them his Royal Rumble spot, he could kiss Tiffany. Tiffany was rightly horrified by this, and ran to hide behind Teddy. Ranjin Singh then showed up and told Khali what was really happening. So in one segment we had- the stereotypical “gangsta” black heels trying to scam someone, then dumb foreigner who doesn’t speak English, and attempting to pimp a woman out. That covers the offensive, so now let’s move on to the dumb.
Teddy scolds Cryme Tyme for their manner of dress, including having their “pants on the ground,” at which point Teddy, Tiffany, Ranjin, and even Khali all break out into a song and dance repeating those words over and over again. I’m going to guess that this was some sort of internet thing they were referencing because Miz showed up and scolded them for their poor taste in pop culture or something like that, saying that in five years the only thing anyone would remember from tonight was him winning his first Royal Rumble. Teddy scolded Miz, telling him that unlike Raw with it’s guest hosts, Teddy was in charge tonight, so Teddy booked Miz to defend the US Title against MVP, which apparently he can do even though Teddy is the GM of Smackdown and Miz, MVP, and the US Title are all on Raw. To make things even worse, Teddy booked the match for right now. I hope someone is watching this feed so they can go tell MVP that all of a sudden he has a match right now. And just to cap it off, for absolutely no reason, Khali and Ranjin started singing “Who Let The Dogs Out?”
So yeah. This was HORRENDOUS. When the best thing about a segment is a scripted early 2010 Miz promo, you know it’s bad.
CODY RHODES APPROACHES RANDY ORTON IN HIS LOCKER ROOM - Good. Cody says that he listened to what Randy said on Raw and doesn’t want Legacy to fall apart. He knows that Randy can beat Sheamus on his own, but he’s got Randy’s back. Ted Dibiase Jr., on the other hand, Cody claims has been talking about nothing but winning the Rumble and challenging Randy for the title at WrestleMania. This was a good segment, but, in hindsight, when Cody attributed Ted’s supposed suddenly-found arrogance to the success of his “new movie” (The Marine 2), I couldn’t help but burst out laughing.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
The Miz(c) vs. MVP - 4.25/10
Miz won an uninspired match cleanly with a small package in about seven minutes to retain the title. He went to rub his win in MVP’s face so MVP laid him out with his finisher.
CHRIS JERICHO & BIG SHOW HAVE A MEETING IN A HALLWAY - Fine. Big Show thinks Jericho is jealous of Miz because Big Show said that Miz is a better tag team partner than Jericho. Jericho appeals to Big Show’s sense of loyalty and says that if it comes down to the two of them and Miz in the Rumble, Jericho knows that Big Show will side with him. Big Shows that if it comes down to the three of them, he’s going to eliminate both of them, because he is his own man.
At this point R-Truth showed up and said that he would eliminate Jericho from the Royal Rumble. Jericho said that Truth would have to go through Big Show to eliminate him, then turned around to find that Big Show had left. Truth emphasized that Jericho would be all on his own. This was an effective little segment at setting up the desired dynamics.
RANDY ORTON & TED DIBIASE JR. HAVE A MEETING IN A DIFFERENT HALLWAY - Fine. Ted says that he has Jericho’s back if Jericho needs him. Randy asked him where Cody was. Ted said he didn’t know, but he warned Jericho that all Cody has been talking about is winning the Royal Rumble and then going on to challenge Sheamus at WrestleMania. “He’s already counting you out.” Randy is clearly sick of all of this and told Ted in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want any help against Sheamus tonight.
WWE TITLE MATCH:
Sheamus(c) vs. Randy Orton - 5.75/10
Sheamus worked the arm, while Randy worked the knee. Things were going along at a nice, slow pace when Cody Rhodes jumped the barricade and attacked Sheamus while Sheamus was on the outside. It was questionable as to whether the referee saw it (but he was, of course, suspicious). Randy certainly didn’t see it, and while the referee was yelling at Cody, Randy hit Sheamus with an RKO, only for the ref to call for the bell for the DQ. I see what they were going for and why they thought it would be cool, but I think it wound up hurting things in the end because either way it’s going to be a frustrating DQ finish in a world title match, but doing it this way adds the confusion of making it seem like maybe the referee didn’t see the actual attack but was still calling for the DQ anyway, which would be bad refereeing according to the usual conventions of pro wrestling.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. Cody tried to apologize to Orton and make excuses, but Randy punched him in the face and yelled “YOU SCREWED EVERYTHING UP!” Ted ran in to pull Randy off but Randy eventually got angry and punched him, too. He went back to beating on Cody, telling him “YOU’RE DONE! YOU’RE FINISHED!” Randy managed to calm down… and turned around right into a Brogue Kick from Sheamus.
WWE WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Michelle McCool(c) vs. Mickie James - no rating, bad segment, but I don’t think it was too far off from being good.
This is a very hard segment for me to rate. I’ve been pretty outspoken about how much I liked the Piggy James angle and how I think it’s one of the first examples of the wrestling internet trying to be too woke and getting angry at the company instead of the heels. And now, ten years later, after watching the video package they presented to hype this match up, I still feel that way. In principle, I don’t even hate the idea of Mickie winning in twenty seconds. I’m not crazy about the champ getting squashed, but having Mickie take advantage of Michelle’s shock at accidentally hitting Layla when she was aiming for Mickie gives her enough of an out that you can do the “real” match on TV or at the next month’s PPV when Michelle gets her contractually-obligated rematch. And yet, while watching this, I still came out of it annoyed instead of happy that Mickie got her revenge.
The thing that made this fail for me was how damn long they took to get there. We got a video package that went a good three minutes, followed by Michelle’s entrance and then her talking for about two more. Yes, the talking set up Layla coming out in the Piggy James costume so that Mickie could charge down to the ring and kick her ass (this way Mickie gets to take Layla out first so that she does actually get revenge on Layla herself rather than her revenge on Layla just being getting out of the way of Michelle’s kick that wound up knocking Layla off the apron), but surely there was a shorter way to do it (like cut out some of Michelle’s promo). What we got here was about six minutes of hype and talking, and then a match that only lasted twenty seconds, and that is just going to be disappointing no matter what. With a shorter video package and a lot less talking from Michelle, I would have thought this was great. Instead, I came out of it annoyed.
And then there was the post-match segment. All of the babyface women came out and they smashed a cake into Lay-Cool’s faces like Lay-Cool had done with Mickie. Okay… well where the f*ck were these women when Lay-Cool was bullying Mickie and smashing cake in her face?
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
The Undertaker(c) vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. - 7.75/10
I’m probably overrating this match (I had to stop myself from giving it an eight), but the storytelling here is wonderful. Even without the announcers beating you over the head with it, someone who has no knowledge of pro wrestling would be able to quickly and easily understand the story of this match (that of the size difference between these two, and the need for Rey to use a hit-and-run strategy). Throw in some rather creative spots, including one which I don’t think I’ve seen before or since (it’s the one at the ringpost; you’ll know what I mean when you see it) and I just LOVE this match.
SHAWN MICHAELS INTERACTS WITH PEOPLE BACKSTAGE - Good. First Kane showed up to warn him that his obsession with The Undertaker will only result in his own demise. And Kane turned out to be right.
Kane left, then Hunter showed up and apologized to Shawn, but also told him that “me and The Undertaker is meant to be.” I wonder if they had next year’s Mania match planned out by this point.
2010 ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH - 8/10
The first two in are Dolph and Bourne. They have a nice little segment, but are then quickly tossed out by #3, CM Punk. Punk then started to cut a Straight Edge Society promo until JTG came out. JTG got some offense in but was then eliminated and Punk started to talk again. Khali is out next and he rejects Punk’s recruitment pitch and beats him up.
Next in is Beth Phoenix. She is the big, tough Glamazon and tries to have a stare-down with Khali, but he easily picks her up and puts her on the apron, then orders her to leave the match. She doesn’t, and uses her feminine wiles to eliminate him. WWE would talk this up as if it were somehow a big moment for women for years to come.
Beth got to run wild on Punk a bit, but he eventually hit his finisher and eliminated her. Zack Ryder came out and next and seemed to be considering Punk’s pitch, but Punk hit him in the head with the microphone halfway through, because no matter the era, Zack Ryder is a good who no one wants to be friends with other than fellow loser-goof Curt Hawkins. Punk eliminates Ryder and the talks some more until Triple H comes out. He, of course, beats Punk up for pretty much their whole segment together.
#9 was Drew McIntyre, in his first Royal Rumble. I had completely forgotten that Drew had ever not had a beard. He took forever to get to the ring. Hunter finally yelled at him to hurry up so he did… and Hunter kicked his ass, too. Hunter then went back over to Punk and went for a Pedigree that Punk countered into a GTS… but Hunter blocked it and tossed Punk out.
I always thought a lot of the hate for Hunter was overblown (then again, I like strong heels who can win cleanly a lot more than other people do), but for some reason in this match he’s just bothering me by coming in and dominating everyone else.
Hunter eventually got double-teamed by the combination of McIntyre and Ted Dibiase Jr. John Morrison came in next and ran wild on the heels. Then Kane entered and ran wild on everyone. Cody Rhodes entered at #13, just in time to save Dibiase from being eliminated by Kane. MVP was supposed to enter next but Miz ran out and hit him in the head with the US Title belt.
They developed something of a story with Kane and Hunter becoming allies of convenience against Legacy. Miz finally came out at #16 (Carlito was 15), but MVP charged right in after him, so that’s another nice little story being told there. It didn’t last long, though, as MVP gave Miz a Cactus Clothesline and they both tumbled over the top rope and down to the floor. They kept fighting afterwards and had to be separated by the referees.
The next entrant was Matt Hardy, who ran wild for a few moments before being eliminated by Kane… and then Hunter eliminated Kane, robbing us of the expected Kane vs. HBK moment that they seemed to be setting up earlier. He ran wild on everyone with spinebusters until Drew took out his knee. The heels beat him down until Shawn Michaels made his entrance and saved his good buddy, eliminating Carlito, Cody, JoMo, and Ted Jr. in the process. D-X beat Drew up and eliminated him together, leaving them alone in the ring. We got the big stare-down, but before anything happened, the next entrant’s music played…
And it was John Cena. Shawn and Hunter did a GREAT slow turn towards the ramp. Just wonderful “okay… we’ll deal with this guy first and come back to this later” body language. Cena ran wild on them. Hunter and Shawn rolling around to get into position for that double Five-Knuckle Shuffle was embarrassing, and the move itself looked even more embarrassing than that. Hunter saved Shawn from elimination and then nailed Cena with a Pedigree… and then Shawn superkicked Hunter over the top rope and down to the floor, which now makes me want to go watch the match these three had two months prior to this at Survivor Series.
Next in was Shelton Benjamin, who got to run wild for a bit before being eliminated by Cena. Ditto for Yoshi Tatsu. The same did not happen for the next entrant. And if you’re wondering who that entrant was, well… it’s the Big Show.
Big Show dominated for a bit and we had some very good elimination teases. Mark Henry came in and had a big face-off with Big Show. The next man in was Chris Masters, who I totally forgot was still around at this point. I’d like to point out that Masters is the only person so far whom the announcers have told me “earned his way into this match” via a winning a wrestling match.
Masters didn’t last long. I didn’t expect R-Truth to last long, either, but Truth actually got to be the one to sneak up behind Mark Henry when Mark was trying to eliminate Big Show and push them both over the top rope! And after Shawn Michaels had failed at doing the same thing, no less!
#26 was Jack Swagger. Matt Striker name-dropped Antonio Inoki. Lucky #27 was Kofi Kingston, who got to eliminate both Swagger and R-Truth in cool ways.
Next in was Chris Jericho. Cena got massively booed for eliminating Kofi… but that booing was nowhere near as massive as the pop that Edge got for his big return at #29. In probably the best thing he ever did in his WWE career, Matt Striker reacted by going “holy sh-” and then stopping himself. That sort of reaction actually felt real, as opposed to Michael Cole’s “OH MY!” or Jerry Lawler’s cartoonish “WHAT?!”
Edge speared everyone and eliminated Jericho. He then hit Shawn with an Edge-O-Matic and hit Cena with an Edge-a-cution, which I popped huge for.
Rounding out this year’s Final Four was entrant #30: Batista. A parade of finishers turned into Shawn running wild on everyone, setting up a great spot with him and Edge, and WONDERFUL execution on Shawn’s elimination by Batista. Shawn’s flailing and Batista’s clubbing at his arm when Shawn cut the rope felt so perfectly organic and real. Shawn’s reaction to being eliminated was also great. I wasn’t a fan of him attacking the referees, but everything else he did felt completely real and human. Cena eliminated Batista, then Edge eliminated Cena moments later to win the match.
This was a fun Royal Rumble with some nice little stories throughout, but the big story was Shawn’s, and I thought they did a great job of pulling the rug out from under the viewer on that story while still finding a way to give the Rumble a satisfying ending. Edge’s big return is what this match is most remembered for, but Shawn really stole the show. The early part of the match is, unfortunately, best remembered for the Beth/Khali spot which is best left forgotten, but if you want to watch this match, it’s easy to sit through, and once you get past Punk’s talking, the match never drags.
Overall, this was a meh show from WWE, mostly on the strength of the Rumble and the Rey vs. Taker match, but you’re not going to hate yourself if you choose to sit through it, unlike many of the more modern PPVs when WWE just decided they should go six hours just because they can. It moves at a nice crisp pace to fill out its two hours and forty minutes.
For the purposes of BRM’s Monthly “This Day in Wrestling History” Review Series, I’m calling this show a win, as I got to experience the big moments I wanted to experience, and the match I really came to see was everything I hoped it would be. Unfortunately, that’s all I have for you for now, but fear not, for BRM’s Monthly “This Day in Wrestling History” Review Series will be back next month!
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES
1. Matt Striker went off on a tangent about “what WrestleMania really meant” to his childhood self. How did he choose to push the importance of the biggest show of the year? By saying that it meant that the days are getting warmer and “soon you wouldn’t need a jacket to go outside.”
2. Striker says that Taker is trying to use his size to “cut the ring in half and isolate his smaller opponent.”
“Isolate” him? FROM WHO?! It’s a f*cking SINGLES MATCH!