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Reviewing The Rumbles: 2011

January 23, 2017 | Posted by Rob Stewart
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Reviewing The Rumbles: 2011  

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2011: The Reminder That Randy Savage, Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Rob Van Dam, and Daniel Bryan Have All Never Won A Royal Rumble

After two+ decades, even really good ideas can need a good shaking up. And while my viewings for this series has shown me that the Royal Rumble is nothing if not inconsistent, sometimes you need something more, something tangible. To that end, WWE decided maybe the Royal Rumble had featured 30 superstars for a bit too long…

I usually go straight into “Participants” here, but seriously… that poster was killing me. Who was that second face, I wondered. I must have stared at it for five good minutes before I Googled it. Turns out it’s Dolph Ziggler? I don’t… I still don’t see it. But okay.

The Participants

1. CM Punk (as leader of the New Nexus)
2. Daniel Bryan
3. Justin Gabriel
4. Zack Ryder
5. William Regal
6. Ted DiBiase
7. John Morrison
8. Yoshi Tatsu
9. Husky Harris (the man who would be Wyatt)
10. Chavo Guerrero
11. Mark Henry
12. JTG
13. Michael McGullicutty (not yet the equally unimportant Curtis Axel)
14. Chris Masters
15. David Otunga
16. Tyler Reks (This guy’s first name really should have been Oedipus. Or Imperious!)
17. Vladimir Kozlov
18. R-Truth
19. The Great Khali
20. Mason Ryan
21. Booker T
22. John Cena
23. Hornswoggle (actually gets in the ring right away this time)
24. Tyson Kidd
25. Heath Slater
26. Kofi Kingston
27. Jack Swagger
28. King Sheamus (I forgot he had a King of the Ring gimmick, actually)
29. Rey Mysterio
30. Wade Barrett (who looks SUPER WEIRD clean shaven after all these years of bearded Barrett)
31. Dolph Ziggler
32. Diesel
33. Drew McIntyre
34. Alex Riley
35. The Big Show
36. Ezekiel Jackson
37. Santino Marella
38. Alberto Del Rio
39. Randy Orton
40. Kane

The Final Four

4th – Wade Barrett (by Randy Orton)
3rd – Randy Orton (by Del Rio)
2nd – Santino Marella (by Del Rio)
WINNER – Alberto Del Rio (And I’ll just take a moment to refer you back to that list of guys at the top who DIDN’T ever win a Rumble)


-Ah, the infamous 40-man Rumble. I’m not sure what possessed WWE to do a 40-man Royal Rumble match, but to be fair… there’s not TOO MUCH fat here that could be cut because there’s only two old guy surprise entrants and most of these guys were at least doing things on one show or the other. I guess the roster was just overbuilt at this point, especially with the Nexus and the Corre running around.

-Pre-match video is Daniel Bryan canoodling with Gail Kim until the Bellas come in to be passive aggressive (they had enjoyed a platonic relationship with Bryan before he started dating Kim), and inspire a brawl with Gail.

-Ugh, this is heel Michael Cole era, so by the start of the match, I’m already ready to punch my television. It was a good idea in concept: take a guy who the fans already didn’t like or respect, and make him a heel. But Cole garnered nothing but “X-Pac Heat” because as a heel he was not just wormy and despicable; he was painful to listen to and just obnoxious and omnipresent. The fans never loved to hate him; they just hated him.

-Punk comes out at #1, and before #2 can be announced, the Corre and the New Nexus storm the ring to start a brawl. The Anonymous Raw General Manager (which is what happens when you write the beginning of a story but then get bored and wander away) steps in with an email. Cole declares that if the two teams (aside from Punk) don’t clear the ring, they’d all be disqualified from the match. Eventually, order is restored.

-Bryan vs Punk to start, and curse WWE for not making Punk/Bryan the current era’s version of Hogan/Savage or Bret/Shawn or Rock/Austin or Sting/Flair. I know general appreciation and respect for Punk has fallen off in recent years because he’s honestly a pretty petulant dude (and there will always be the professional contrarians who want to say Bryan was never really over or any good), but these two should have been having intermittent feuds and matches for year, and I could easily see one or even two WrestleMania main events built around their having a match for the belt. But nope. We got to see god damn Cena/Orton a thousand times instead, though. So there’s that.

-Gabriel and Ryder are both eliminated promptly by Bryan so that the early onset of the match can keep resetting to Bryan and Punk’s battle. It is William Regal at #5 that permanently interrupts their alone time, and he is greeted by a decent “William Regal!” chant. Matt Striker on commentary pumps Regal’s tires as the best ever to not win a major World Title.

-Morrison starts off a string of Rumbles where Kofi Kingston would ape his ability to dodge elimination when he gets shoved off the apron and lands, Spider-Man-like, on the barricade. He would get himself to a standing base on the barricade, then leap back to the ring without touching the floor. These kinds of acrobatic stunts are always attributed to Kofi nowadays, but Morrison was the guy to start them, right here. And shortly after this Rumble (it may even have been the next night on Raw), there would be a Battle Royal pretty much solely booked to make Morrison look great because he had 2 or 3 brilliant saves in it (though he doesn’t end up winning it).

-Husky Harris pops out, and Matt Striker ponders his future: “This kid looks like this at 23; imagine what he’ll look like at 30!” Ha… you have NO IDEA, 2011 Matt Striker. Seriously, though… Bray has lost a lot of weight since his NXT debut. Good for him!

-The New Nexus starts building up around their leader Punk, with McGillicutty and Otunga entering at #13 and #15 respectively. With four of them in the ring (Husky is the other), they scrub the match and begin waiting on victims to chuck. Quick eliminations of Reks, Kozlov, and Truth follow. Khali finally neutralizes and tosses Husky to start evening the odds. Punk is delightful during this whole run up until then, just heeling it up like a pro, and begging off from Khali when peril finally comes. Just when it looks like the worm has turned against the New Nexus, their last–and most physically imposing–member is next out. Mason Ryan dumps Khali, and the Rumble is back to a New Nexus foursome.

-Matt Striker goes BERSERK for Booker T at #21, shouting “This is a mark-out moment, and I am marking out!”. The fans are in love with it, too. Booker gets a good showing against New Nexus, but is ultimately pitched before #22 is up.

-Number 22 is, of course, Cena. And #lolcenawins against THE ENTIRE NEW NEXUS. So if you’ve ever heard Cena remark that he regrets pulling strings to change the ending to SummerSlam 2010, remind him that he basically did it again here. Punk is the last man standing, but by the time Hornswoggle gets to the ring at #23, Cena has gotten Punk out, too. Admittedly, the Punk thing here was very derivative of 2010, with the only difference being that Punk had his gang with him this year (Theme: Punk sweeps the ring for a few rounds, is momentarily matched by Khali, but only for a round before the next person out tosses Khali for him. Punk sweeps another round or two until a top shelf main eventer pops out and eliminates Punk altogether). But Punk is a genius performer, and he makes it work anyway. I didn’t even notice the similarity (right down to the Khali bit) until after the match when I was comparing notes, because during the run, I was too caught up in how great it was.

-Hornswoggle and Cena form a little alliance, and fuck me if it isn’t actually thoroughly fun and entertaining. Tyson Kidd is their first victim (and I’m sure some purists despised seeing Kidd get fed to Cena and Hornswoggle for a comedy skit, but screw those guys sometimes). Hornswoggle hits the Attitude Adjustment on Kidd in a comparatively impressive spot. And he and Cena do a double You Can’t See Me to Heath Slater before tossing him. Harmless, fun stuff.

-There’s decent build-up when Kofi comes down, and Cena respectfully treats him as a threat. They have a staredown under the WrestleMania sign. Their bout together is short-lived and underwhelming, though. But it made Kofi look respectable, at least, so booking props where they are due.

-Sheamus finally gets Hornswoggle out, and without giving HORNSWOGGLE too much credit for being any match’s saving grace, the whole thing takes a massive U-turn here. The opening 40+ minutes of this match were, at turns, exciting, entertaining, and humorous. After this point, it starts dragging heavily and little of any entertainment value occurs.

-Matt Striker is excited for Diesel, but not nearly as much so as he was for Booker T. Rey Mysterio hits the 619 on Big Daddy Cool to a chorus of boos, and a “Let’s go, Diesel!” chant breaks out. He doesn’t last too long, though.

-Santino enters, gets scared of Ezekiel Jackson, and gets Brogue Kick’ed under the bottom rope.

-There’s a “Fake Final Four” bit like the 2000 Rumble had where Cena, Randy, Del Rio, and Barrett are going at it, and Miz eventually runs in to eliminate John Cena. A frustrated Cena strolls over to commentary and pantomimes to Michael Cole that they aren’t besties anymore.

-The fans go NUTS when Santino re-enters after Del Rio has already been announced as the winner and has his music playing. Santino nails The Cobra and goes spastic, but Del Rio reverses the toss-out to maintain his win.

-And there you have it: Alberto Del Rio: one of the most “meh” Royal Rumbles winner in history. He would go on to be a little more interesting in Lucha Underground, but on the whole, Del Rio is one of the more polarizing figures of the last few years. There’s a lot of “He is terrible” “No, he is great” that I’ve noticed when his name pops up in discussion amongst fans, and I was in the former camp. He just never did anything for me. Keep in mind, Del Rio would go on to win the Money In The Bank less than half a year after winning the Royal Rumble, and man… WWE was really Roman-ing it up with him for a while there, right?

1. 2001 (Austin III) – 10/10

2. 2010 (Edge) – 9/10
3. 2004 (Benoit) – 9/10
4. 1992 (Flair) – 9/10

5. 2007 (The Undertaker) – 8/10
6. 1997 (Austin I) – 8/10
7. 1998 (Austin II) – 8/10

8. 2008 (Cena I) – 7/10
9. 2002 (HHH I) – 7/10

10. 2005 (Batista I) – 6/10

11. 2003 (Lesnar) -5/10
12. 1989 (Studd) – 5/10
13. 1996 (Michaels II) – 5/10
14. 2011 (Del Rio) – 5/10
15. 1999 (McMahon) 5/10

16. 1993 (Yokozuna) – 4/10
17. 1990 (Hogan I) – 4/10
18. 1994 (Hart/Luger) – 4/10
19. 2009 (Orton) – 4/10

20. 1991 (Hogan II) – 3/10
21. 2006 (Mysterio) – 3/10
22. 2000 (The Rock) – 3/10

23. 1995 (Michaels I) – 2/10
24. 1988 (Duggan) – 2/10

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
So yeah... the winner of the match is underwhelming, and the second half was a snooze. But the first 40 minutes was pretty entertaining in several different regards. Until about the time of the Hornswoggle elimination, this match felt like 7/8 out of 10 range, but it dropped precipitously from that point on.