Lest We Forget: WWE Royal Rumble 2004
Hello everyone! My name is Maxwell Baumbach, and I am new to the 411mania staff. I would love to hear feedback from you all, especially on this first review, and am open to suggestions for changes in the future. Additionally, before each review, I will be including the “Must-Watch” Pay-Per –View Matches List for that given year. Without further ado, here we go!
It is often said that we cannot know where we are without knowing where we have been. This statement holds true for the current era of World Wrestling Entertainment, as back in 2004, the seeds were planted for some of their biggest superstars of the modern era, John Cena and Randy Orton. While both men began to ascend the cards in 2003, it was in 2004 that both men began to truly separate themselves from the pack and get over with the fans like true main-eventers. With this in mind, let’s travel back to the year 2004 to gain a better understanding of where these men came from, and why the WWE is where it is today.
WWE Royal Rumble 2004
From the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
January 25, 2004
The opening video package gives us a shot of a road, hyping up Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H as “seven years in the making.” The highlight package then goes on to talk about how everything can change in an instant, showing Hardcore Holly being put on the shelf for a year and a half by Brock Lesnar. We are reminded of the Guerrero’s feud with one another, as Chavo turned on Eddie. Lastly, the 30-man Royal Rumble is showcased, noting that tonight, destiny will play its hand as we begin the road to Wrestlemania XX. This was a tremendous way to open the show.
World Tag Team Titles, Tables Match: Evolution (Batista and Ric Flair) © vs. The Dudley Boys (Bubba Ray and D-Von)
Batista cuts off his music to cut a cheap heat promo on the Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams brawl off the bat, creating the illusion that they actually hate each other. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine when guys in a violent feud are suddenly content to trade wristlocks. Really cool spot by Bubba Ray on the outside, as he slides a table across the entire ring to hit Batista in the ribs on the other side. The Dudleys try to finish Flair with a double suplex through a table, but Batista moves it out of the way. Both teams brawl all over the place before eventually getting back into the ring. Batista goes for a spear in the corner but Bubba avoids it, allowing the Dudleys to connect with a back suplex/neckbreaker combination. The Dudleys set up Flair for a 3-D through a table, but Jonathan Coachman interferes. The Dudleys get ready to deliver the What’s Up to The Coach, but Flair breaks it up and sends Bubba to the floor. Batista rolls inside and gives D-Von a Spinebuster through a table to end the match at 4:22!
I have to question the booking here, as Batista was starting to get pushed at this point. I do not believe it would have hurt the Dudley Boys to have them lose clean here, and the interference by The Coach was greeted with apathy by the crowd. A clean finish would have made this more enjoyable and been more beneficial for Batista at the time. You can skip this. 0 for 1.
After the match, Ric Flair cuts a really odd promo, yelling into the microphone. I honestly couldn’t make out anything other than, “PUT YOUR ASS THROUGH A TABLE!” His marbles may have been lost for longer than I originally thought.
Backstage, Josh Matthews joins John Cena, who was still rapping at this point. RVD interrupts Cena’s rap to do his signature taunt. Cena and RVD share a laugh, and then Cena remarks that RVD looks like he’s been talking to Mary Jane. Oh, the days before the wellness policy! Cena concludes by saying that he will win the Royal Rumble tonight.
An empty seat is shown in the crowd, which is reserved for Mick Foley.
WWE Cruiserweight Title Match: Rey Mysterio © vs. Jamie Noble w/ Blind Nidia
There was a storyline at this point that Nidia was blinded by Tajiri, and Noble began to use her to rack up cheap victories. The action is fast early on, and Mysterio goes for a 6-1-9, but Noble gets up and hits a big press slam. Noble pinpoints the torso of Rey Mysterio as his target. Noble cinches in a seated abdominal stretch, but Rey fights out and manages to hit a big drop kick. Mysterio gets rolling with a hurricanrana and wheelbarrow bulldog. He goes for a springboard cross body but Noble counters it into a gutbuster! That was nasty. Noble goes for a Tiger Driver but Rey blocks. Noble then hits the ropes, but Nidia accidentally trips him up because she can’t see anything. This allows Mysterio to hit a dropkick to the back and a 6-1-9! Mysterio follows it up with a SPRINGBOARD LEGDROP TO TE BACK OF NOBLE’S NECK! That’s enough for the victory at 3:13.
Winner: Rey Mysterio
Despite the shenanigans and the short length of the match, this was still really entertaining. 1 for 2.
We get a commercial for the WWE Originals CD, which features WWE Superstars singing original songs. If you want to hear Rikishi doing his best imitation of Chef from South Park, this is a must-own product.
A video package highlights the good times that Eddie and Chavo Guerrero had together before their relationship fell apart.
Chavo Guerrero w/ Chavo Guerrero Sr. vs. Eddie Guerrero
Both men intensely struggle for position to start things off. Eddie shoves off Chavo, who slaps him across the face. The crowd rallies behind Eddie big time after that. Eddie tries to go on the offensive, but Chavo hides in the ropes, which is an awesome cowardly tactic in this predicament. Both men exchange evenly, and Chavo taunts Eddie. This sets Eddie off, who gains that advantage. However, Eddie begins to prove a bit gun-shy with his attack, as his temper has not completely boiled over yet. Chavo manages to take control with a headscissors that sends both men to the floor. Chavo Sr. inserts himself into the match-up and whips Eddie into the steel steps. Chavo takes advantage and sends Eddie inside where he fires away with mounted shots to the head. Eddie reverses to gain top position, but allows Chavo up. This proves to be a mistake, as Chavo takes him down and fires away again. Eddie manages to find a cross armbreaker from the bottom, but Chavo finds the ropes. Chavo quickly takes over and hits a back suplex. Chavo goes for the Three Amigos, but Eddie slips out on the third and shoves Chavo into the buckles. Chavo catches him with a boot coming in and goes for a Tornado DDT, but Eddie blocks it. Eddie hits a Three Amigos combination of his own. Eddie Guerrero goes up top and hits a FROG SPLASH for the victory at 8:04! After the match, Eddie lays out Chavo Sr. Eddie then snaps lays into Chavo with a series of right hands after the bell. Eddie also spreads the wealth and beats up Chavo Sr. as well. Chavo is busted open, and Eddie ties Chavo Sr. up to the ropes. Eddie throws Chavo into the corner and stomps a mudhole into him before firing away at his cut with more punches. Eddie then drags Chavo in front of Chavo Sr. and beats him up before the eyes of his own father.
Winner: Eddie Guerrero
This match was monumental in the rise of Eddie Guerrero. While it may not be a technical masterpiece like some of his more well-known classics, this was a crucial event on the timeline of Eddie’s push to the top. This victory elevated Eddie out of the mid-card and also showcased that his character has killer instinct. 2 for 3.
A commercial airs for Mick Foley’s Greatest Hits and Misses.
We get a prom from Chris Benoit, who is the number one entrant in the Royal Rumble as determined by Smackdown General Manager Paul Heyman. Ric Flair cuts off Benoit before he can even get a full sentence in. Flair says that Randy Orton will win the Royal Rumble, and that while Benoit is great, he always comes in second place.
A video package airs, detailing the rivalry between Hardcore Holly and Brock Lesnar, which goes back to the time that Brock Lesnar broke his neck.
WWE Championship Match: Brock Lesnar © vs. Hardcore Holly
Holly storms Lesnar as he walks down the ramp. Lesnar tries for an F-5 on the floor, but Holly slips free and shoves him shoulder-first into the turnbuckles. Lesnar manages to regain control and shove Holly’s back into the ring apron. Lesnar takes it back inside and wears down Holly with a weird seated inverted bearhug hold. Holly fights out but Lesnar drops him with a suplex. Lesnar goes back to the same hold as earlier, which Tazz calls a “Gutwrench.” Holly manages to fight out again, but Lesnar hits a belly to belly overhead suplex and then locks in a rear naked choke. Holly gets to his feet and gets free. A series of clotheslines drop Brock Lesnar. Holly hits a dropkick to send the big man down once again. Holly gets Lesnar up and HITS THE ALABAMA SLAM! Holly applies a full nelson to try and break the neck of Brock Lesnar instead of going for the cover. Lesnar rolls to the floor to try and break the hold but Holly keeps it cinched in. Holly releases the hold and rolls inside. Brock gets to the apron and Holly goes back to the Full Nelson, but Lesnar drops him on the ropes, injuring Holly’s neck. Lesnar hits an F-5 and covers to retain his title!
Winner: Brock Lesnar
This was an interesting match that told a good story. Lesnar tried to wear down Holly, which lost the crowd a little bit early on, but once Holly got on the offensive things turned around. Holly going for the full nelson instead of the pin showed that he didn’t care about the belt, but rather about maiming the man who put him on the shelf. A lot of people thought this was a low-rent title match for a pay-per-view, but it made perfect sense in context and was quite entertaining. 3 for 4.
Backstage, Triple H gets taped up in preparation for his Last Man Standing Match with Shawn Michaels. We then cut to Michaels, who is praying. This leads into a video package, covering all of their history, going back to Degeneration-X.
World Heavyweight Title, Last Man Standing Match: Triple H © vs. Shawn Michaels
We get some basic brawling early on. Shawn Michaels hits a dragon screw legwhip and applies a Figure Four. I really like that, because it is insulting to Triple H, as he is friends with Flair, but also because the match revolves around standing up, which would be difficult with a bad leg. Triple H makes his way up, and Michaels charges with a crossbody, but Triple H ducks down and Michaels flies over the top rope to the floor. Triple H prepares the Smackdown and Spanish announce tables for destruction on the floor. Both men go at it on the Smackdown table, but Triple H is knocked to the floor instead of through a table, which causes the crowd to boo. Back inside, Triple H looks for a Pedigree but HBK back drops him to the floor instead. Michaels tries to go for a plancha on the floor but Triple H moves back. Michaels saves himself by landing on the apron. HBK then springboards off of the second rope for a cross body, but Triple H moves and HBK GOES FLYING THROUGH THE SPANISH ANNOUNCE TABLE! HBK is bleeding profusely from his forehead somehow. Michaels makes it to his feet at the count of six. Triple H takes the action back inside and fires away with punches while Michaels bleeds out. Shawn makes it to his feet at seven, but Triple H sends him back to the mat. Michaels is back up at six, and the crowd is starting to get behind him. Triple H knocks him back down with a series of punches. Michaels makes it up at seven while Triple H yells at him to stay down. Michaels fires his way back with punches of his own, but eventually gets planted with a spinebuster. Triple H goes to the floor and grabs a chair. Michaels starts to get up, but Triple H decimates him with a chairshot to the back. Triple H goes for a Pedigree on the chair, but Michaels sweeps his legs out and drops Triple H onto the chair! Michaels then slingshots Triple H head-first into the ring post. Triple H gets up, but Michaels NAILS him with a chairshot! Both men are now busted open. Michaels hits a series of punches and comes off of the ropes with a diving forearm. Both men are down. The referee begins his count. The count reaches seven, and HBK kips up! Triple H makes it to his feet but Michaels greets him with right hands. HBK hits an atomic drop and heads up top. Flying elbow drop by Shawn Michaels! Michaels immediately pops up to his feet, and the entire crowd leaps up with him. Shawn goes for Sweet Chin Music, but Triple H drops to a knee and punches him right in the testicles! Both men are up, covered in blood, and HBK manages to find a sleeper hold! Triple H is fading, and Michaels shoves him down to the mat. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, Triple H is up! Michaels lands a few punches, but Triple H ducks under one for a DDT! Both men are down as the count gets hire. SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT, both men are up! Triple H whips HBK into the buckles. Triple H goes for a back superplex, but HBK turns in mid-air and hits the mat on top of Triple H! Both men make it up, and Triple H again ducks a punch from Michaels, this time to hit a PEDIGREE! ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE- HBK IS UP! SWEET CHIN MUSIC OUT OF NOWHERE! Both men are down! ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE, TEN! NEITHER MAN COULD MAKE IT UP! A medical crew makes their way down to the ring to help out both men. Triple H is carried out on a stretcher. Michaels is put on a stretcher as well, but he manages to fight off of it and walk out on his own power.
The crowd was not happy with the finish, chanting, “Bullshit!” However, it kept both men strong and would help build toward Wrestlemania XX. The match built perfectly, and the crowd was getting more and more hooked as they went along. If you love a bloody, grueling, and intense brawl, this should be right up your alley. 4 for 5.
Wrestlemania XX is in 49 days.
We get a video package to hype the Royal Rumble match, which hypes all of the contestants. Chris Benoit being the number one entrant and Goldberg being the number thirty entrant are focused on. Going into this event, the general consensus was that either Benoit or Goldberg would be going over, and this confirmed it.
Eric Bischoff cuts off Howard Finkle before he can conclude his introduction, and says that Raw is superior to Smackdown. He then cuts into Paul Heyman and ECW, which draws heat from the Philadelphia crowd. This leads to Heyman hitting the ring, and he is not happy. Heyman tackles Bischoff, and they are going at it. Steve Austin then comes out on his four wheeler to break things up. Austin asks them who started it, and both men accuse one another. AUSTIN HITS A STUNNER ON BISCHOFF! Austin then grabs some beers and shares one with Heyman, but Heyman gets stunned mid-chug!
Backstage, Terri Runnels is getting a word with Goldberg, but Brock Lesnar intercepts the interview. Lesnar says that he should be the one getting interviewed. Lesnar says that the last time he saw Goldberg, Goldberg interrupted his interview. Goldberg says all that matters is that he will win the Royal Rumble and win back his title. Goldberg then calls Lesnar a coward.
Tazz and Jim Ross discuss that Foley has not shown up, and Tazz gets Ross to admit that Foley is a coward.
30 Man Royal Rumble Match: Winner Gets a Title Shot at Wrestlemania XX
Chris Benoit is in at #1 as we already know. Randy Orton is out as #2. Benoit controls the first two minutes before Mark Henry enters at #3. Instead of the token, “Hey, we’re heels, let’s team up!” spot, all three men go after each other. Tajiri comes out at #4. We truly get an “every man for himself” feel as the heels fight each other and the faces fight each other. Entrant #5 is Bradshaw, who gets a big pop and hits a Clothesline From Hell on Orton, Henry, and Tajiri. He goes for one on Benoit, but Benoit COUNTERS INTO THE CROSSFACE! Bradshaw stands up and goes to dump Benoit over the top, but Benoit hangs on and sends Bradshaw to the floor instead! That was our first really exciting stretch so far. Rhyno makes his way out #6, and he goes right after his former tag team partner Chris Benoit. Rhyno tries to Gore Benoit, but Benoit moves out of the way and RHYNO GORES MARK HENRY IS IN THE TARANTUALA! The impact causes Tajiri to fall out to the floor! Benoit charges at Mark Henry and knocks him over the top rope! Matt Hardy enters at #7. Hardy hits a Side Effect on Rhyno and is then nearly thrown out by Benoit. Scott Steiner’s music hits, and he’s #8. He can’t do much worse than his Royal Rumble appearance last year when him and Triple H did whatever the opposite of tearing the house down is. Steiner cleans house with clotheslines and hits suplex variations on Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, and Rhyno before Benoit catches him with a duo of German suplexes. J.R. tells us that there are no previous Royal Rumble winners in this match, which is interesting. Matt Morgan is out at #9, and I remember thinking he would be a big deal at the time. Morgan plants Benoit with a sitout powerbomb and then nails Matt Hardy with a big boot that we now know as the Carbon Footprint. Entrant #10 is The Hurricane, who storms out to the ring (pun FULLY intended!) and climbs up top, immediately hitting a flying cross body on Matt Hardy. Hurricane is then gorilla pressed by Matt Morgan, who throws him out to the floor. So much for that. Morgan then goes after Hardy, who barely manages to stave off elimination by skinning the cat.
The #11 entrant is Booker T, who gets a sizable pop. Booker T and Steiner go at it as we get shades of the final episode of Nitro! Booker T hits a SCISSORS KICK on Randy Orton! Orton was barely bent over and Booker T jumped really high on that one. #12 is Kane, and Steiner was eliminated while the camera was on the entrance instead of the ring. Kane with a CHOKESLAM to Benoit! CHOKESLAM on Morgan! Matt Hardy takes a sidewalk slam from the Big Red Machine. As Kane gets up Rhyno charges for a Gore but is met with a boot to the head! Orton goes for an RKO on Kane but he gets shoved off and GOOZLED! CHOKESLAM TO ORTON! For #13 we hear a GONG AND THE LIGHTS GO OUT! Kane is terrified, as he helped Vince McMahon bury his brother just two months ago! This allows Booker T to sneak up and eliminate him! Spike Dudley, who is the actual 13th entrant, comes out. Kane thinks that Spike was responsible for the gong, so Kane CHOEKSLAMS SPIKE DUDLEY ON THE ENTRANCE RAMP! Ouch. I feel like WWE should always have a smaller guy to take beatings like that. #14 is Rikishi. As the big Samoan rolls into the ring, Benoit gives Rhyno a back body drop to the floor to eliminate him. Rikishi lays waste to everyone, and MATT MORGAN GETS A STINKFACE! Rene Dupree, who many thought would be a future main-eventer at the time, is in at #15. Dupree eliminates Hardy by dropkicking him off the apron. Dupree goes right into his dance, nicknamed “The French Tickler.” However, he turns around right into a crescent kick from Rikishi which eliminates him from the matchup. Entrant #16 is A-Train, known to newer fans as Tensai, and older fans as Albert. Benoit manages to eliminate Matt Morgan, continuing the theme that he is eliminating some of the largest men in the match. Orton dumps Rikishi out to the floor! Orton then follows that up by eliminating Booker T! #17 is Shelton Benjamin, who goes after Randy Orton right off the bat. During the entrance, Benoit eliminated A-Train. Benjamin goes for a Superkick on Orton, but Orton ducks and toss Benjamin over the top and out to the floor! Benoit and Orton , the first two men to enter, are the only two men left at this point. #18 is Ernest “The Cat” Miller, who has Brodus Clay’s theme music. The crowd is COMPLETELY SILENT as he dances in the ring. Benoit and Orton get to their feet, and Miller is quickly disposed of. Kurt Angle is entrant #19, who guaranteed victory to the troops. Angle gets big “You Suck!” chants to the tune of his music as he and Benoit go at it. Orton strategically sits in the corner recovering and watching on as Angle and Benoit go at it. Rico is out (in more ways than one) at #20. Rico is met with an RKO while Benoit hits the Rolling German Suplexes on Angle. Orton dumps Rico out of the ring.
Test’s music hits, but he is nowhere to be found as entrant #21. We cut backstage, and Test is laid out cold. Austin yells at someone who can’t be seen on camera, and tells the person that they have to be the 21st entrant, and to get their ass to the ring. MICK FOLEY’S MUSIC HITS! Orton is shocked and terrified. Orton and Foley exchange punches to one of the loudest ovations of the night! Foley takes control and goes to town with right hands! Orton gets to his feet, and FOLEY ELIMINATES ORTON AND HIMSELF WITH A CLOTHESLINE! Huge “Foley!” chants from the crowd as the two continue to brawl on the floor. Foley sends Orton into the steel steps and then chokes him with a camera wire. Christian is in at #22, but the action is on the floor. Staff members try to contain Foley, but he attacks them with steel steps! Foley tries to turn his attention back to Orton, but ORTON KILLS HIM WITH A CHAIRSHOT! HE ADDS ONE MORE FOR GOOD MEASURE! Orton drags Foley to the ramp and goes for another, but Foley fights out. Mr. Socko in the house! Nunzio is entrant #23, but as he runs down the ramp, FOLEY PUTS HIM IN THE MANDIBLE CLAW! Orton gives Foley a low blow! Orton gets the hell out of dodge as Foley follows him to the back. In the ring, Angle hits both Benoit and Christian with German Suplexes. Entrant #24 is Big Show, who throws everyone around with ease. Chris Jericho is out at #25! Jericho and Christian team up on Kurt Angle, but Big Show puts a stop to them. #26 is Charlie Haas, who Christian and Chris Jericho team up on and drop with a double team suplex. Christian tries to throw Jericho out of the match, but Jericho hangs on. Christian charges and Jericho hits a BACK BODY DROP TO THE FLOOR! Christian is out. Jim Ross points out that this is the second straight year Jericho has eliminated Christian, foreshadowing the tension. Billy Gunn returns from a short hiatus and enters at #27. Gunn quickly hits a FAME-ASSER on Angle, and then ANOTHER on Big Show! Tazz brings up that Billy Gunn was once married to a guy. I was hoping I could forget about that angle. The camera cuts to Nunzio, who is sitting on the floor and has yet to get in the ring. John Cena is entrant #28, and he spots Nunzio hiding on the floor. Cena throws Nunzio in and tries to go after him, but Big Show has Nunzio’s back and goes right after Cena. RVD comes in at #29. Van Dam hits a nice spinkick onto Y2J. Cena gets Angle on his shoulders, and CENA CONNECTS WITH AN F-U! Goldberg is #30, and the crowd goes nuts for his entrance. SPEAR TO BIG SHOW! SPEAR TO BILLY GUNN! Everyone’s going after Goldberg! Nunzio hops on Goldberg’s back with a sleeper. GOLDBERG THROWS HAAS TO THE FLOOR DESPITE BEING IN A SLEEPER HOLD! Nunzio gets thrown off, and NUNZIO EATS A SPEAR! Goldberg throws Billy Gunn to the floor! Goldberg then follows up by throwing Nunzio out! Goldberg goes for a Jackhammer on Big Show, but BROCK LESNAR HITS THE RING! F-5 ON GOLDBERG! Goldberg pulls himself up and tells Lesnar that he’s next, but Kurt Angle sneaks up behind Goldberg and dumps him out to the floor! Everyone then teams up to try and toss Big Show, but Show fights everyone off. Big Show gets dropped, and Jericho hits him with a Lionsault. RVD goes up top- FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH TO BIG SHOW! Cena pumps up his sneakers and hits a five knuckle shuffle. Now Benoit is up top, and he delivers a FLYING HEADBUTT TO BIG SHOW! Angle rallies everyone together to toss Show, but they can’t pick him up! Show fights everyone off again! Cena charges him but Big Show throws Cena to the floor, who takes a nasty looking spill on his leg! RVD goes for a monkey flip on Show, but he’s thrown over the top rope!
We are down to the final four of Big Show, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, and Chris Jericho. Jericho relentlessly goes after Big Show, but he can’t toss the larger competitor out of the ring. Jericho puts Big Show in the WALLS OF JERICHO! Big Show taps, but tonight, that means nothing. Jericho lets go and tries to toss Kurt Angle. Big Show gets up, however, and TOSSES JERICHO TO THE FLOOR WITH A CHOKESLAM! Three men remain! Angle goes after Big Show but is dropped with a sidewalk slam. Benoit tries to attack Big Show, but HE’S MET WITH A CHOKESLAM! ANGLE HITS BIG SHOW WITH AN ANGLE SLAM! Benoit goes on the offensive on Angle, but ANGLE DROPS BENOIT WITH AN ANGLE SLAM! Angle pulls his straps down, so you know he means business. Big Show, however, has other plans and grabs him by the throat. CHOKESLAM, BUT ANGLE COUNTERS IT WITH A ROLL THROUGH! ANKLE LOCK! Big Show taps out again, but it’s meaningless. Big Show uses the ropes to get to his feet while the hold is still applied. Big Show hurls himself over the top rope but slides back under the bottom rope, using his momentum to send Kurt Angle to the floor! That ruled.
Only two men remain- Chris Benoit and Big Show! Big Show tries to get back in the ring from the apron, but Benoit dives off of the top rope and hits a headbutt to the shoulder of Big Show! Benoit hits the ropes, but BIG SHOW GRABS HIM BY THE THROAT! Big Show pulls him up, but BENOIT COUNTERS WITH A CROSSFACE! Big Show taps, but for the third time, it does not matter. Big Show manages to get to his feet, and he drops Benoit with a side slam! The crowd rallies behind Chris Benoit, who has now been in the ring for over an hour. Big Show gets Benoit up for a Gorilla Press, but Benoit counters it into a guillotine choke. Big Show tries to dispose Benoit over the top rope, but Benoit keeps the submission locked in and gets his feet on the outside ring apron. Benoit sits back with the hold, and he propels Big Show over the top rope! BIG SHOW HAS BEEN ELIMINATED! CHRIS BENOIT WINS THE ROYAL RUMBLE! The crowd applauds Benoit, who worked over 19 years for the opportunity and lasted over an hour in the match to get his title shot at Wrestlemania XX.
Winner: Chris Benoit
I believe this to be the second best Royal Rumble, only behind Ric Flair’s victory in 1992. The booking was intricate, and the depth of the roster helped a great deal. They did not need to use surprise entrants or over-the-top comedy to hold my interest for over an hour. This was Chris Benoit’s biggest victory at that point and helped solidify him as a main-eventer heading into the WWE’s biggest pay-per-view of the year. 5 for 6.
The 411: While most of the undercard matches are brief, most of them are also entertaining. Eddie Guerrero’s win over Chavo was his last stop before quickly climbing up to the top of the card. Triple H and Michaels had the best non-Rumble match on the show in a thrilling, dramatic Last Man Standing Match. However, the Rumble itself is the selling point of this event. From bell-to-bell, it remained entertaining, which is tough to do given the format. It also set the stage for several important matches at Wrestlemania XX and got me genuinely excited for the event, which is what the Royal Rumble is supposed to do. I definitely recommend this show.
|Final Score: 8.0 [ Very Good ] legend|