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Reviewing The Rumbles: 2008

January 20, 2017 | Posted by Rob Stewart
7
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Reviewing The Rumbles: 2008  

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2008: The Six

For the first time since 2000, the Royal Rumble returned to Madison Square Garden. And that show had a great lineup of matches and an absolutely pitiful Rumble, with a crowd who all seemed to be auditioning for the title role in Weekend At Bernie’s 3. How will this Rumble look in comparison?

The Participants

1. The Undertaker
2. Shawn Michaels
3. Santino Marella
4. The Great Khali
5. Hardcore Holly
6. John Morrison
7. Tommy Dreamer
8. Batista
9. Hornswoggle (during his gimmick of being Vince’s bastard son… WHO COULD TALK even though years later they’d start pretending he couldn’t. That always bothered me)
10. Chuck Palumbo (What did anyone ever see in this guy that led to his having such a long career?)
11. Jamie Noble
12. CM Punk
13. Cody Rhodes (Pre-dating his Legacy stint here, here’s Hardcore Holly’s partner, and if you’d have asked me before I watched this, I’d have forgotten all about that)
14. Umaga
15. Snitsky
16. The Miz
17. Shelton Benjamin
18. Jimmy Snuka
19. Rowdy Roddy Piper
20. Kane
21. Carlito
22. Mick Foley
23. Mr. Kennedy
24. Big Daddy V (This guy’s career just kept going!)
25. Mark Henry
26. Chavo Guerrero Jr
27. Fit Finlay
28. Elijah Burke
29. Triple H
30. John Cena

The Final Four

4th – Kane (eliminated by Trips and Batista)
3rd – Batista (eliminated by Triple H)
2nd – Triple H (eliminated by Cena)
WINNER – John Cena

Notes/Thoughts

-According to the commentary team (more on that in a moment), Royal Rumble winners were on a 7-0 streak of winning a world title at WrestleMania as of this year’s Rumble.

-No pre-Rumble video package, just a “By The Numbers” segment that they would end up starting every Rumble with from this point onward. To remind you that Kane eliminated 11 guys.

-How on god’s green Earth did it take WWE so long to say to themselves, “Royal Rumble. Rumble. Rrrrumble. RUMBLLLE! Someone get that Michael Buffer guy on the phone. He has to start this match off!” I know he was working with WCW for years for their main events, but they could have gotten him before that happened. And WCW had been closed by 6 years at this point; they could have gotten him since then. Anyway, they get Buffer here for one year, and as soon as you see him, it’s all so obvious.

-In some really appreciable booking, 1 vs 2 is a rematch of Undertaker/Shawn from the year before. It’s amazing to me that they’d never done that before this point, but given the outstanding work of Shawn and Taker, this was really the absolutely appropriate time to do it.

-This match has approximately ALL THE ANNOUNCERS, and it is glorious. Really playing into the brand split, instead of just having one Raw guy and one Smackdown guy, this year’s Rumble has Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross, Jonathan Coachman, Tazz, Michael Cole, AND Joey Styles all on commentary. You’d think six guys on commentary would be a nightmare and that they’d be stepping all over each other’s feet, but these guys do a brilliant job weaving in-and-out of who is calling what. Honestly, it might be my very favorite commentary set-up of all time.

-“You can’t wrestle!” chant greets the Great Khali, and he seems visibly pissed by it. Already falling by the wayside in terms of dominant booking, Khali is tossed by Undertaker alone, and doesn’t even last a full round before the next guy out is called.

-So this is the first year that the previously innocuous Johnny Nitro had become John Morrison. I know opinions were mixed on him, but I thought he was fantastic. Yeah, Starship Pain was blatantly grazing sometimes, and yeah his promos as a face were sometimes stilted, but he was really good worker and had more than adequate heel charisma. Glad to see Lucha Underground is using him to his potential these last few years.

-“Tommy Dreamer!” chant for Tommy from the MSG faithful. Joey Styles, being the astute commentator that he is, adds depth to Dreamer’s character by noting that if he won the Rumble, he’d demand a shot at the ECW title at WrestleMania due to Dreamer’s obsession with reclaiming that belt.

-Speaking of chants, This MSG crowd puts the 2000 crowd to shame. That crowd was dead and buried for the Rumble match. This crowd is involved and excited and enthralled the whole way through.

-There are some good main eventers in the first third of this Rumble, with Shawn, Undertaker, and Batista all out there by #10.

-There’s already a big reaction to CM Punk, and he does really well for a while upon entering (a remarkably flurry of “new guy offense”, and he eliminates Chuck Palumbo because seriously… nuts to Chuck Palumbo).

-The Miz joins his tag partner Morrison at #16, and they go right to work on their enemy, Punk. I thought Miz and Morrison were a great team–very much shades of Edge and Christian–and they were broken up well before they should have been. I’m going to try to quit talking about how much I love John Morrison now, I promise.

-Okay, this was undoubtedly my favorite part of this match: Shelton Benjamin enters and is almost instantly superkicked out of the ring by Shawn Michaels. Joey Styles follows with “I guess there is stopping Shelton Benjamin now!”

-Snuka looks like a god damn nightmare here. This is just embarrassing for him to even be in this match. Even weirder to think he’d be in a match at WrestleMania in a year-and-a-half, because he looks like a quarter-filled sack of dead skin on this night. Piper actually looks significantly better than Jimmy, and the whole match stops so everyone can watch these two legends go at it for a few moments. Smash a coconut over one guy’s head, and WWE will milk that moment for 25 years.

-Massive pop and chant for Mick Foley’s entrance, and he’s EASILY the crowd favorite of the evening.

-We ALMOST get to 15 legal guys in the match for the first time ever when Big Daddy V’s number buzzes, but it’s not to be. Before he makes it officially into the ring, Snitsky, Shawn, and Undertaker all go out. It would have been a technicality anyway, because Hornswoggle was actually under the ring and not in it.

-Speaking of which: So yeah… Horny had spent the entire match under the ring, appearing only once to grab Miz’s dangling arm and eliminate him. He tries the same trick later on, but is grabbed by Big Daddy V and Mark Henry, who get ready to destroy him. Finlay comes out with the shillelagh and bludgeons everyone for the save. But then Finlay is disqualified for this for two reasons: he jumped his number (why would that be a DQ? Why should you be punished for giving yourself more work to do?), and for using a weapon (…hell, SEVERAL previous Rumbles say spring to mind). Inconsistent Rumble Rules strike again!

-Finlay and Hornswoggle was such a good, well-done gimmick. I know that when Hornswoggle first appeared (as the nameless “Little Bastard”), Finlay just used him with no concern, but as they developed, Finlay became a desperate protector of Hornswoggle. It would end up being that Finlay was Horny’s REAL dad, but even before that was revealed, these two had such a good on-screen relationship. I, as a fan, really liked this angle and cared for the two of them. One of my favorite small moments in wrestling ever was on an episode of Raw where Finlay and Hornswoggle were walking down a hallway after Finlay saved him from peril, and Hornswoggle just looks up at him and say “Thanks”. For whatever reason, that scene remains with me.

-Triple H reminds us all what main eventers think of mid-carders, and he tosses Big Daddy V, Mick Foley, Elijah Burke, and Cody Rhodes all upon entering.

-John Cena with the big surprise entrance at #30, as he was back WAY earlier from injury than any reports had hinted at. The reaction for him is big, but it has been vastly overstated in recent years. Honestly, the crowd was more boisterous for Foley than Cena. It was a mixed bag of cheers and boos, of course (Cena’s, not Mick’s).

-Cena also cares little for your midcard drudgery, and dumps Chavo, Carlito, and Mark Henry pretty much right away!

-The final three have a nice little pose-off, with Dave giving both guys the Batista Thumbs Down. Cena reminds them both that They Can’t See Him, and HHH shows them that X marks the crotch.

-After Batista is out, the fans starting booing Cena heavily and cheer HHH. And, man… it takes some kind of guy to overshadow how bad HHH used to be at dominating the main event scene and burying every new talent that came his way. Even for as long as Cena has been around, and for as much as Trips has done to repair his image with NXT, I’ll always hold a bigger grudge against Hunter than Cena. Hunter was a huge part of why I didn’t miss watching in the early 2000’s.

Rankings

1. 2001 (Austin III) – 10/10

2. 2004 (Benoit) – 9/10
3. 1992 (Flair) – 9/10

4. 2007 (The Undertaker) – 8/10
5. 1997 (Austin I) – 8/10
6. 1998 (Austin II) – 8/10

7. 2008 (Cena I) – 7/10
8. 2002 (HHH I) – 7/10

9. 2005 (Batista I) – 6/10

10. 2003 (Lesnar) -5/10
11. 1989 (Studd) – 5/10
12. 1996 (Michaels II) – 5/10
13. 1999 (McMahon) 5/10

14. 1993 (Yokozuna) – 4/10
15. 1990 (Hogan I) – 4/10
16. 1994 (Hart/Luger) – 4/10

17. 1991 (Hogan II) – 3/10
18. 2006 (Misterio) – 3/10
19. 2000 (The Rock) – 3/10

20. 1995 (Michaels I) – 2/10
21. 1988 (Duggan) – 2/10

7.0
The final score: review Good
The 411
There's really nothing extraordinary about this Rumble, but there is a lot of really good touches. The 6-man commentary crew was genius, and I'd love for them to do something like this again. The fans were super-engaged and into the match, and that really pushed everything home. There was a good dispersion of main event talent early and late (the middle was midcard heaven, but Shawn, Taker, and Batista stuck around through it). It was a fun watch.
legend