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Reviewing The Rumbles: 2014

January 26, 2017 | Posted by Rob Stewart
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Reviewing The Rumbles: 2014  

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2014: The One Without Daniel Bryan

I swear I thought I watched this Rumble live on the WWE Network, but… nope. The Network didn’t debut until a month after this event. Funny how your memory can mess with you after less than three full years.

Anyway, yeah, this one. The second half of 2013 was all about Daniel Bryan. He had an extensive feud with Randy Orton after Orton cashed in Money In The Bank on Bryan’s celebratory moment, but Bryan could never quite get the belt back. The fans wanted him and only him, and all signs seemed to be pointing to a Rumble victory to get him to WrestleMania…

The Participants

1. CM Punk
2. Seth Rollins
3. Damien Sandow
4. Cody Rhodes
5. Kane
6. Alexander Rusev (his main roster debut)
7. Jack Swagger
8. Kofi Kingston
9. An Uso!
10. Goldust
11. Dean Ambrose
12. Dolph Ziggler
13. R-Truth
14. Kevin Nash
15. Roman Reigns
16. Great Khali
17. Sheamus
18. The Miz
19. Fandango
20. El Torito (How ludicrous that El Matadors were so bad, their midget mascot got more over than they did)
21. Antonio Cesaro (Like Rusev, he had not dropped his first name yet)
22. Luke Harper
23. Another Uso!
24. JBL (and this is his Rumble debut as the JBL character, which seems odd)
25. Erick Rowan
26. Ryback
27. Alberto Del Rio
28. Batista
29. Big E Langston
30. Rey Mysterio

The Final Four

4th – CM Punk (eliminated by Kane – outside interference)
3rd – Sheamus (eliminated by Roman Reigns)
2nd – Roman Reigns (eliminated by Batista)
WINNER – Batista

Notes/Thoughts

-This is the first (and thus far only) Royal Rumble to ever happen in Pittsburgh, PA, and I came SO CLOSE to attending in person, but ultimately decided against it. In the span of a week, prices on StubHub sky-rocketed, and I figured it just wasn’t worth it. I regret that now; I would love to have attended this show. Not because it was particularly good or anything, but because this crowd was ridiculously venomous. Earlier in the night, they shit all over the Cena/Orton title match by peppering it with nonsense cheers and chants, and they are good and restless by the end of this Rumble. Not that I wanted to go yell nonsense or boo all night, but the energy in the Consol Energy Center had to be charging.

-Pre-Match video is just a string of straight-ahead shots of guys explaining why they are going to win, and then we cut to a Legends Panel making their picks. Jim Duggan picks Dolph Ziggler, Shawn Michaels picks CM Punk OR any member of the Shield, and Ric Flair picks Batista, because he actually was paying attention to the WWE’s booking for the previous month+.

-Punk in at #1, and let’s all take a minute to mourn Punk’s last WWE match before walking out of the company.

-The fans are SUPER intense early on, and I think the arena countdown chant before entrants #3 and #4 are the loudest I’ve ever heard. They drown out everything.

-High spot early on see Punk hitting a nifty double DDT/Neckbreaker combination on Rollins and Sandow.

-The arena is DEAD for Rusev at #6, and the Bulgarian Brute enters the ring while somebody with ringside seats holds up a “JOBBER” sign. Rusev would end up having himself a pretty nice 2014 even with this fan’s doubt likely haunting him for the months that followed.

-Foreshadowing of The One-Sided Feud That Would Never Die: Rusev and Swagger (who WAS still a heel at this point) have a face-off in the Rumble while the fans chant “USA!” in support of Jack.

-When J[rest of name] Uso comes out at #9, there is a humorous ringside sign that’s obviously on the same page I am: “Go Jey Uso! Or is it Jimmy?”. Stereotypes die hard, and even The Usos are benefactors of Islanders Have Immortal Heads! when Punk tries to headbutt him, but only hurts himself. Jesus, are we going to still be doing this in 2030?

-Obligatory Kofi Moment Of The Night: Kofi is dropped into Rusev’s waiting arms (after Rusev is made to look strong by having 4 or 5 guys have to gang up to eliminate him). Rusev then puts Kofi on the barricade and storms to the back. Kofi manages a running start on the narrow barricade and jumps from it to the ring apron. Really impressive; I’ll give this one credit.

-Ziggler had EXPLODED at this point, and he gets a huge reaction and “Let’s Go Ziggler!” chant. And because WWE booking is super smart, Dolph instantly is put on the defensive upon entering the match to kill all that momentum. By the time Roman Reigns is brought in at #19, Dolph is still selling, and he treats the Spear like it liquefies his insides. I think I’d pay money just to watch Dolph take Spears all night; he made the move look positively lethal. The fans jump the gun on next year’s crowd by lustily booing two things: Dolph Ziggler’s elimination, and Roman Reigns (for tossing Dolph).

-Sheamus enters at #17 when only The Shield are standing, and he pummels the hell out of them. Just bounces from guy-to-guy-to-guy and beats them all down. For right up until the time #18 is buzzed (when they finally start turning the tide with their numbers), Sheamus is on them like white on him.

-I miss Fandango-ing. Fandango hits the ring too fast, but the fans don’t care; they keep right on Fandango-ing and “doot-doot-doo-doo”ing his song for what HAS to be a good 15 seconds after it stops.

-First “DANIEL BRYAN” chant of the match between #19 and #20. The Consol Energy Center is clearly getting antsy that Bryan hasn’t entered yet.

-Ambrose and Punk have just brilliant facial and physical reactions to El Torito, as if a curiously harmless alien had just entered the ring.

-Cesaro gets The Swing on Seth Rollins, and he goes FOREVER with him. The fans count several rotations, but then give up because counting is hard for Pittsburghers. They settle on just giving an ovation, and even after that, Cesaro keeps swinging for a while. I’ll take this moment to call myself out on being incredibly wrong about something: The first time Cesaro ever did The Swing on Raw, I remember thinking “This is really boring. What’s he going to do? Swing a guy around forever? Stupid. This will never get over”. I still don’t really get it, I guess, but fans seem to love it. Just one of those weird things, I guess.

-JBL on commentary calls out the history of each spot and the past winners thereof as every new guy is buzzed in, and finally Michael Cole (who isn’t even a heel anymore) tells him he has too much free time. JBL retorts “It’s called research”.

-The fans boo Reigns again–even though they DO generally like him this year–for pitching JBL. JBL, who last 5 seconds and did NOTHING except take off his coat, somehow merits a “You still got it!” chant from the crowd who is starting to just want to feel involved again.

-As soon as Big E is revealed at #29, the fans start a “DANIEL BRYAN” chant, which they then follow up with a “YES!” chant. And THEN…

-The fans notoriously suck the soul out of Rey Mysterio at #30, and the entire tone of the match sours here. To be fair, WWE never did advertise Bryan in the Rumble match itself (he featured in a prominent position on the ads and posters, but he had an earlier match against Bray Wyatt—who was also on the same ads), but they also knew the fans were expecting it and never outright said he wouldn’t be, either. For the next minute or so, the fans alternate between heavy boos and chanting for Bryan. The fans keep right on taking the piss out of the mach until Seth Rollins eliminates Rey, and then they take a moment to cheer that. Suddenly I feel better about 2006 because even I never disliked Rey as much as this crowd did on this night.

-Back in the days when it was so obvious that Dean Ambrose was “the heel” of The Shield, he tries to sneak-eliminate Roman Reigns (like Bryan/Kane last year, this was sensible based on previous booking, as Ambrose kept having issues arise between himself and Roman). Roman survives and flips Dean AND Seth out.

-Kane returns in the Final Four to pull Punk out, and whatever goodwill the fans MIGHT have had left goes out of the ring with him. More booing. Followed by another “DANIEL BRYAN” chant. Followed by more booing. Then a “NO!” chant. And then more booing. Must have felt good to be this Top Three in the ring while the fans tell you how much they hate you.

-The fans cheer their souls out for Roman Reigns against Batista just in the vain hope that there was ANY way Dave was not going to win, but it is, of course, futile. It is ironic that in 2014 they cheer Reigns AGAINST the pre-determined destiny here that they hate; in one year, Reigns would be that pre-selected destiny.

To be honest, this Rumble is bad, but I’ve never felt like WWE had any plans for 2014 that weren’t “Bryan Wins The Belts at WrestleMania”. I think this Rumble was just a big swerve to set up Batista’s heel turn. It seemed too obvious, dating back to SummerSlam 2013 when John Cena hand-selected Bryan as his opponent, only for Orton to pop out and screw him. Bryan getting his moment FOR REAL always seemed like the ultimate plan to me. I know people with their ears to the train tracks swear up-and-down that WrestleMania 30 was an audible early in 2014, but I could never bring myself to believe that.

Ranking

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 2013 (Cena II) – 4/10
20. 2009 (Orton) – 4/10

21. 2012 (Sheamus) – 3/10
22. 1991 (Hogan II) – 3/10
23. 2014 (Batista II) – 3/10
23. 2006 (Mysterio) – 3/10
24. 2000 (The Rock) – 3/10

25. 1995 (Michaels I) – 2/10
26. 1988 (Duggan) – 2/10

3.0
The final score: review Bad
The 411
Like I said above, I've long thought the 2014 Rumble was a long con, while the 2015 Rumble was the one they genuinely screwed up. But even then... that means this Rumble was, AT BEST, pointless nonsense (and at worst, it was the oblivious crap everyone thought it was).
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