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Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Royal Rumble 2007

January 28, 2011 | Posted by Jack Bramma
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Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Royal Rumble 2007  

DVD Packaging: This is the Royal Rumble Anthology edition so it comes in different packages with 5 discs in each one. The fourth volume box is white with gold trim.

DVD Presentation: The menu is simple but it’s the same for every disc in the set. It has this triumphant fanfare playing over a brief montage from that year’s RR on the right half of the screen. The left half is the same as the box design except it’s white with gold trim.

Relevant Storylines: The Hardyz team up once again for the last time ever, one time only. Cena proves CM Punk right by committing vandalism and assault with a deadly weapon in the same match. Kennedy has been on a run beating six world champions but unfortunately none of them were champion at the time. And HBK and UT settle old scores.

Scheduled Card:
1. MNM vs. The Hardyz.
2. WWECW Championship: Test vs. Bobby Lashley (c).
3. World Heavyweight Championship: Kennedy vs. Batista (c).
4. Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Championship: Umaga vs. John Cena (c).
5. Royal Rumble Match

• The standard solid video package that focuses on the history of the event and the Road to WM but includes my favorite visual from any RR, the gangster Flair entrance from RR 92. It also mentions the particular feuds Kennedy-Batista, Lashley-Test, Cena-Umaga. Kennedy plays the destiny card, the Lashley feud has no particular angle, and the WWE sold Umaga’s splash off the top through the table as the most harrowing move in the history of our great sport (TM Tony Schiavone).

MNM vs. The Hardyz. These teams had a hastily thrown together feud in late 06 and early 07 that still produced great matches due to their undeniable chemistry. It was almost like McMahon begrudgingly went with it because he first billed it as a “one time only match” and “the last time the Hardyz ever team up” because they wanted to push Jeff and Matt as singles guys. But then the matchup kept happening because it worked. This is the show where the gophers botch the red carpet roll out. Mercury is wearing the plastic man mask because of his unfortunate spot in the ladder match the previous month. Melina is wearing something that could loosely be described as clothing. MNM has the scrolling ticket chinchilla jackets that are excellent.

• Hardy chant at the bell. JR playing up Matt having a jaw injury on Smackdown the previous week. Matt tries to jump Mercury but Nitro jumps him from behind and then quickly tags in Mercury. They go with the generic clubbing blows to start. Mercury mounts with more rights. Nitro in with some rights and boots. Matt comes back with forearms that go nowhere. Hardy chant crops back up as Matt comes back with more rights and Jeff gets tagged in. He hits the springboard dropkick. JR: “Jeff Hardy doesn’t do anything normally, I can tell you that.” Mercury powers Jeff back into the corner and tags in Nitro. Jeff cuts him off with an inverted atomic drop and the sitout double legdrop to a big pop. The Hardyz hit the double back elbow and senton/elbow drop combo. Mercury comes in but gets sent out with a vertical suplex from Matt. Matt sends Nitro into the turnbuckle. Matt with a swinging neckbreaker for 2. Matt tries a bodyslam but Nitro slides out and gives him a stiff right hand for the jaw psychology. Nitro tags in Mercury as JR calls it an “opportunistic tag” and I don’t even know what the hell makes that distinguishing from every other tag in the history of tag wrestling. They put the boots to Matt. Mercury with a right to Matt’s jaw. Nitro with a European uppercut and chokes on the corner. The ref pulls him away and Mercury hits the Batista kick behind the ref’s back. Nitro working the neck vice. Matt tries punching out but Nitro comes back with the Muay Thai knees. MNM hits the double jawbreaker for a two count and Matt is selling the jaw well. Melina does the female version of the troll yell as King speculates whether or not it’s a scream of pleasure. JR: “I haven’t made a lot of women scream, so I can’t tell you.” Matt tries rolling through for a counter but Mercury rolls with him to hit more rights and a short arm clothesline for another 2. Mercury goes to the chinlock. Matt fights out with rights but Mercury pulls him down by the hair for a boot. Mercury goes for the second rope elbow drop but whiffs and Matt tags in Jeff. Jeff with a sloppy sleeper neckbreaker on Nitro and a shitty flying burrito. He hits the sitout gordbuster. No sells a right from Nitro and hits the whisper in the wind for 2 as Mercury breaks up the pin. Terribly executed sequence from Jeff. Matt in and hits a back suplex on Mercury and he rolls to the floor. The Hardyz go after Nitro and hit the double suplex. Both head up top on opposite corners. Jeff tries a splash but eats knee. Matt hits the guillotine leg drop though. Nice inversion of the usual spot. Matt has to get back on the apron because he’s not the legal man. Mercury tagged in and goes low on Jeff and works a version of the Malenko/Garvin/Orton stomp to boos. Nitro hits a running hip check in the corner for 2. MNM hits a tandem leg drop for 2. Crowd into the match and buying the hope spot as Jeff elbows out and gets a roll up for 2 but Mercury jumps right back on the offense with rights. MNM hits the double ribbreaker and Mercury taunts to huge boos. Nitro with some kicks and goes to the OrtonLock (chinlock with body scissors). Jeff elbows out and Nitro goes to the front facelock. Jeff pushes against and works toward his corner. He backdrops out but the ref stops Mercury from coming in and misses the tag to Matt. MNM pulls Jeff back to their corner to boos. MNM try a double team but Jeff pushes Mercury into Nitro instead. Nitro tries stopping him but Jeff mulekicks to counter and tags Matt. He hits clotheslines and back elbows and backdrops on Nitro and Mercury. He hits a running clothesline in the corner and a bulldog/clothesline coming out on both. Cover gets 2 on Nitro. Matt hits the yodeling elbow drop for 2 off the second rope. Nitro boots to counter a backdrop attempt and they try the Snapshot but Jeff in and breaks it up. Jeff hits the Air Hardy off Matt’s back on Mercury. They try another on Nitro but Jeff eats turnbuckle and Nitro gets the half nelson roll up for close 2. Matt with a Side Effect and a Twist of Fate on Nitro. Mercury bull rushes him out of the ring but tags in Jeff on the way out. Jeff hits the Swanton for the 3 at 16:21. The expected above average but not fantastic match between the two. The chemistry is there, the bastardly cheating is there, and the good double team spots are there. The execution is at times a tad sloppy and the spotty psychology prevents the match from being better. ***1/2

• Coach and Teddy and Kelly Kelly the exhibitionist are in the lottery room and Edge comes in to make fun of Kelly. Orton comes in to talk about the strained relationship of Rated RKO despite being tag champs. Both draw numbers and Edge quips, “You show me yours and I’ll show you mine.” King Booka interrupts and is not pleased.

• The Wrestlemania “All Grown Up” ad is next.

WWECW Championship: Test vs. Bobby Lashley (c). Lashley won a triple threat with Test and RVD but somehow Test “made an impact” by hitting Lashley with the belt and gets a title shot. Taz says Test is “amped up” and that’s an understatement considering his physique. Lock up gets a stalemate and a break but it’s not clean because Test smacks. Lashley takes offense and spears Test out of the corner until the ref gets a clean break this time. Test pulls him into the ropes to choke him and now it’s on. Test with some back elbows in the corner and more choking. Lashley tries a charge but eats another back elbow. Test tries his own charge but runs into a nice T-Bone suplex and a hanging vertical suplex and Test takes a breather as Lashley poses. Lashley gives him a right and pulls him back in but Test gives him a shoulder shrug and sends Lashley into the ring post from the apron. Joey Styles stumbles through calling Lashley “thickly-muscled” as Test puts him back in for a 2 count. Test goes to some arm/chin lock combination. Lashley gets to his feet as Tazz lays on the adjectives: “Size and Power and Quickness and Intensity~!” Unfortunately, we’re seeing only size at the moment. Lashley hits some forearms and goes for a charge but runs into a big boot. Test hits a badass armwringer/shoulderbreaker takedown for 2 and then he goes back to the boring resthold. Lashley forearms out again but runs into a back elbow. Test comes out of the corner into a back bodydrop. Lashley with a running clothesline and some shoulder charges in the corner. Lashley tries a press slam but the shoulder buckles. Always loved that spot and psychology. Test with a big boot and whines about only getting a two count. Apparently the big boot doesn’t beat em all, contrary to popular belief. Even Taz and Styles are miffed. Styles: “If the big boot was Plan A, what’s Plan B?” Taz: “Can Lashley come back from that boot?” Test tries a TKO but Lashley slides out and hits a belly to belly suplex and another clothesline and Test rolls to the floor. START THE DAMN COUNT REF! Ref gets to 8 as Test takes a walk and gets counted out at 6:43. Man, fuck that finish. And people wonder why no one considers the WWECW title a real title. 1/4* Post-match, Lashley demands retribution and brings Test back to the ring and throws him around some more. “ECW” chant? What in the hell? I sure hope that was sarcastic and if not fuck the marks in the front row too. Lashley hits a Bulldog powerslam and poses.

• Meanwhile, Cena gets checked out by doctors as Vince interrupts and ribs Cena about dropping the title and his catchphrase. Cena stares off into the distance as he contemplates voting for Mike Gravel based on his Rock ad.

World Heavyweight Championship: Kennedy vs. Batista (c). Kennedy got the shot by winning a beat the clock challenge which is almost always a terribly ineffective way of giving a guy a title shot when they don’t really want to push him. Kennedy alleges he beat 6 world champions in the build up which is true in name only but not impressive when you watch the matches and see how much offense he got in. Then he jumped Batista at the announce table. Meh. Pre-match, Kennedy gets on the stick and does his shtick. JBL cuts off Cole and puts over Kennedy big time on commentary. Kennedy avoids to start and finally goes for the lock up and gets easily tossed around a few times. The ref wants a clean break but Kennedy kicks the leg as JBL plays up Kennedy’s psychological games. Kennedy with rights and a roll up for 1. Batista shoves him into the corner and the ref again wants a break but Batista is the one cheating this time with a shoulder. Kennedy goes to the eye to retaliate but runs into a big boot. Batista hits a vertical suplex for 2 as Kennedy rolls to the floor. Batista follows and sends him into the apron. Kennedy begs off but sends him into the stairs leg first (not the Foley bump, much softer). Batista slides Kennedy back in and sells the leg. Batista hits some forearms, rights, and back elbows in the corner and shoulder shrugs. JBL: “Listen to me dammit! Don’t interrupt me again, SMARTASS!” Nothing brightens my day like someone berating Michael Cole. JBL then gives a detailed explanation as to why Kennedy’s win streak is ultimately meaningless without the world title. JBL: “That gold gets you in the Hall of Fame. That gets you the chicks. That gets you the money. That gets you to headlining pay-per-views. It’s the only thing that matters.” Awesome. Batista hits a few more shoulders and pauses to sell the knee and Kennedy seizes the opportunity to clip it and go to work as JBL cuts down Cole again for parroting his commentary. JBL: “Exactly what I just said! I’m sitting out here with a damn parrot!” Kennedy now works the knee more and does the arrogant heel cover for a 1 count. Kennedy applies an inverted figure 4 as Batista is actually kinda selling it here. Batista gets the ropes. Kennedy breaks the hold but continues working the leg and hits an Ole kick in the corner and another for a long 2 count. Kennedy botchs a Boston Crab and says fuck it and goes with a half crab. Kennedy has a busted knee from something which is the second time a stiff Batista has worked him over in a match (see GAB 06). Batista almost gets the ropes but Kennedy pulls him back to the middle. Batista slowly rolls through and gets a small package for 2. He tries a press/powerslam but Kennedy wiggles free and clips the knee again. Kennedy with rights but Batista comes back with a spinebuster and sells the leg on impact. Nice. Double KO spot and both get to their feet. Kennedy gets the advantage by targeting the leg and hitting more right hands. Batista Hulks up and hits some clotheslines and a back body drop. Batista with a running clothesline in the corner and an ugly bodyslam due to leg selling. Batista hits the forward roll slam on Kennedy despite Kennedy’s elbows. MOVESET! I know it’s Kennedy’s move but I don’t care. Batista hits his taunt and goes for the DemonBomb. Kennedy counters with a kick to the leg and Batista staggers backword into the ref and THEN Kennedy gives him the low blow and a neckbreaker. AHA! Psychology and logical cheating. I love it. Kennedy covers but no ref. Kennedy tells Nick to pull himself together as Kennedy hits a DDT for a 2 count. “Kennedy” chant starts up. Whoa, wasn’t expecting that. Batista reverses a whip but runs into a boot in the corner. Kennedy heads up top but jumps off into a harsh clothesline from Batista. Batista still selling the leg goes for the DemonBomb. Kennedy tries to punch out at the apex but Batista hits it anyway for the 3 to retain at 10:33. I have absolutely no problems with this match. This match shows the difference between no-selling and a face overcoming the pain to still win. Batista did the latter rather than the former. It had good psychology, smart cheating, good commentary, solid selling, and a nice finish. ***3/4

• Post-match, JBL continues to really give the hard sell for Kennedy and Batista sells the knee even in victory.

• Meanwhile, Ariel, who single-handedly got the biggest pop at December to Dismember by standing on the apron, and Kevin Thorn flirt. Hornswoggle is next and Coach cracks a short joke and HS bites his ear and kicks his shin to retaliate before running scared away from The Great Khali. Khali picks three different numbers and Coach tries to talk him back and Khali agree. KK picks up the remaining numbers and says they are the biggest balls she’s ever held. Cue Ron Simmons. This whole thing would have been much cooler if Khali took the whole bin of numbers with him.

Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Championship: Umaga vs. John Cena (c). At the previous PPV, Cena beat Umaga with a roll up out of nowhere so Armando Alejandro Estrada demanded this rematch. That loss took the wind out of Umaga’s sails. They built him up solely for the purpose of jobbing to Cena. Umaga showing off his Celtic heritage by wearing green tonight, but I could be wrong. King and JR saying Cena sustained an “ab injury” 6 days ago on RAW.

• Nose to nose to start. Umaga with a pieface and a shove. He tries a charge but eats elbow. They trade shots. Umaga tries a slam but Cena slides out and hits a jawbreaker that Umaga no sells. Cena gets a charge but eats a right to the gut and he sells it to the floor. Cena gets to the apron but Umaga knocks him back to the floor with rights. Umaga sends him into the stairs shoulderfirst. Chioda gets to 5 as Umaga punches Cena up the entranceway. Cena comes back with rights back down the path and sends Cena headfirst into the apron. Umaga no sells because he’s Samoan and everything and hits Cena in the abs some more. Umaga with a headbutt and a kick to Cena’s gut and another right. Umaga with some more shots and he sends Cena across but runs into a boot. Cena runs out into a hard clothesline and Umaga postures to a large mixed reaction. Cena up at 7 and he gets bodyslammed down. Umaga gets the top half of the stairs and throws them in the ring. Coming back in, Cena hotshots him and then throws the stairs at Umaga on the floor. Nice spot. Umaga up at 6. King says that after that he thinks Cena can bench press a Volkswagon. Cena meets him on the floor with more rights and sends him back in. Back in Cena runs into a spinwheel kick called a “phenomenal athletic move” by JR. Umaga goes to the shitty bearhug as JR attributes it to “Estrada’s coaching.” Now we know who to blame for this crap. Umaga turns it into a belly to belly suplex and now gets the other half of the stairs. Cena up at 8 and he’s illogically selling the ribs as the crowd chants, “We Want Table!” Yes, table of the singular variety. Umaga props the stairs into the corner so he can conveniently run into them later. Umaga places Cena on the stairs. Umaga goes for the Runaway Samoan Semi but Cena moves and Umaga eats stairs. Cena ignores the midsection injury and picks up the stairs and hits Umaga with them. Umaga up at 7. Cena goes up top and tries a crossbody but Umaga catches him and hits a release Black Hole Slam called a “tilt a whirl sidewalk slam” by JR. Cena up at 7 as Umaga continues with stomps and a butt bomb to Cena’s chest. He tries another but Cena gets the knees up and gives Umaga a throwback onto the stairs and then a proto-bomb onto the stairs. Crowd is feeling these spots. JR says that Cena has “the spirit of a warrior” which I suppose adds a new Native American slant to his character. Both down. Cena up at 5 as Chioda inexplicably stops the count on Umaga so Cena can hit the 5 Knuckle Shuffle with bad ribs and all. Cena tries an FU but his legs/midsection buckle and he collapses into the stairs. Cena blades but manages to get up at 8 and how he’s selling punch drunk and a midsection. “Cena sucks” chant gets going as Umaga pounds and chokes away in the corner. The kids responds with a “Cena” chant. Umaga barks at Cena and gets the stairs as Cena gets up at 8 from some right hands. Now, Cena decides to no sell (yet the spot works due to sheer emotion of the match at this point) and hit some rights. He gets a head of steam but runs into a Samoan drop. Cena up at 8 as Umaga goes for the Samoan Spike. Cena blocks it but eats a headbutt anyway. Umaga hooks him in the tree of woe as Cena has a major gusher going. Umaga goes for the Samoan diving headbutt but Cena moves and heads up top and hits the top rope fame-asser and sends Umaga into the ring post. Cena gets a monitor and takes out Estrada with it and now smashes it into Umaga’s head and the ringpost that takes the brunt of the damage. Umaga up at 8 but Cena shoulderblocks him to the floor. He tries a double ax handle but Umaga catches him and drives him into the post and then the ring stairs. They have really stepped it up a notch since getting the second stairs involved and the crowd is eating it up. Umaga drapes Cena on the near table and goes on the far table. He gets a running start across the stairs and goes for the splash but Cena moves and Umaga eats table. Umaga up at 9 and a significant portion of the crowd actually cheers because the match will continue. Estrada has a wrench and takes apart the top rope. Estrada tells Umaga to use the turnbuckle and go for a real Samoan Spike. Umaga goes for it but Cena avoids and hits the FU. Cena disposes of Estrada and levels Umaga with the turnbuckle spike as JR shouts a “GODDAMN!” If you don’t believe me, check the tape. Cena applies the rope assisted STF and Umaga passes out. JR: “Even a monster’s got to breath.” Umaga no sells and gets up. Cena applies it again and Umaga cannot answer the 10 count at 22:27. Awesome finish and great second half of the match. But the generic opening stretch and Cena’s inconsistent selling prevent it from MOTYC territory. ***3/4

• Backstage, Coach threatens to take a walk as Sandman comes in and draws a number and then says it doesn’t matter anyway. Flair is next and then the room changes into an impromptu night club and Flair dances with the ECW dancers including KK, Layla, and that other woman. As usual, any segment with Flair being Flair is gold.

Royal Rumble: We get a tremendously thorough and elaborate package for the RR that has different title cards for “History,” “Legacy,” “Controversy,” and “Destiny.” Then once it segues into calling this RR the “most star-studded in history,” there is a noticeable drop off. Also, they manage to find clips of JR, Fink, and Vince calling it “Royal Rumba!” like six times. The newer portion focuses on HBK, Kenny Dystrka, Edge, Khali, Kane, King Booka, and UT as the main threats.

• Flair gets number 1 to a chorus of “Woooo” chants. Finlay is 2. Flair gets a side headlock but gets taken down by a shoulderblock and now he’s pissed, dammit. He’s ready to thrown down with Finlay. Unfortunately that doesn’t go well for Flair as he gets waylaid in the corner. He gets Finlay off and hits some chops but struts and runs into a back body drop. Finlay gets him in the fireman’s carry and tries to toss him but Flair rakes the eyes. Kenny is out next after MAYBE 80 seconds. Flair meets him at the ropes with chops but Finlay chops off Flair with a hard elbow. Kenny tries to go for Flair but Finlay almost tosses him. Flair in turn tries to toss both but that goes nowhere as Finlay goes low. Flair chops the skin off Kenny’s chest. Matt Hardy out closer to 100 seconds. Matt hits a Side Effect on Kenny as Flair almost tosses Finlay. Matt tries to toss Kenny but he skins the cat. Finlay drops some knees on Flair. Flair goes to work on Kenny by gouging the eyes and hitting more chops. Edge is next. He has Spears for Finlay and Flair. He tries another on Matt but he dodges and gets a Twist of Fate. Matt and Kenny do the double clotheline spot and both are down. Flair rolls to the floor to get some chairs to do a conchairto to Edge due to Edge and Orton giving him one when Flair and Piper where tag champs for a brief spell in the build up. As he comes back in, Kenny cuts him off and then Edge tosses him to boos. Edge and Kenny celebrate. As Kenny hits the strut to mock the fallen, he gets tossed by Edge. Tommy Dreamer is next as he’s referred to as an “extremist.” He goes right for Edge and puts him in a tree of woe and dropkicks him but runs into a Finlay clothesline. Finlay also boots Matt in the jaw and Jerry plays up the psychology nicely due to Matt’s “broken jaw.” Cole adeptly sets up a punchline for JBL about King’s 30 minute performance in a past RR but King botches it and Cole clues him in and they yuck it up. Nice. Sabu is next and he immediately gets a table and puts it on the outside. He and Dreamer square off with rights. Sabu and Dreamer horribly botch a springboard tornado DDT. “Sabu” chant gets going as he eats a Dreamer clothesline trying another clothesline. Matt tries to toss him but Sabu goes low on him. Gregory Helms is next and he’s wearing a white do-rag. Sabu tries to toss Finlay but he lands on the apron. Helms with a neckbreaker on Matt. Matt and Hurricane apparently had a feud going. Nothing of note for a minute as Shelton Benjamin is next and he immediately throws Tommy Dreamer into the top rope neck first. That’s always been an underutilized strategy, I suppose. He tries to toss Matt Hardy more conventionally over the top rope but he hangs on. Finlay then tries to toss Benjamin but he hangs on and manages to pull Finlay with him and then Matt grabs both from behind and no one gets eliminated. Finlay then gives Matt a low blow. Matt and Shelton tease a suplex through Sabu’s table but no go.

Kane is out next at 10. Kane with some big boots and clotheslines. Kane with a tilt-a-whirl powerslam on Helms and a chokeslam on Edge and tosses Dreamer. Sabu tries a fist fight with Kane but that goes nowhere. Kane tries to press slam Sabu to the floor but he slides out. He tries to clothesline Kane to the floor but he no sells and backdrops Sabu to the apron but he hangs on. But it’s temporary as Kane chokeslams him through the table to the floor. Kane looks mildly regretful about the whole thing. Finlay pokes Kane in the eye a few times as CM Punk is next. He immediately goes for Edge but Finlay clips his knee and then pokes him in the eye and tries to toss him. Punk grabs the ropes to hang on. Punk sends Edge to the corner and hits the running knee to the face. Finlay cuts him off with some headbutts. He gets Punk in a fireman’s carry but he counters with some elbows. KING BOOKA IS NEXT! He goes right for Helms and tosses him back to the Smackdown midcard. Helms tries to taunt for the crowd but gets no reaction whatsoever. Finlay tries to toss Kane but Kane boots him low. Super Crazy is next and goes after BOOKA but Kane jumps him from behind and then gives him a back elbow. Kane hits a round of throat thrusts. BOOKA almost tosses Finlay but he hangs on. Jeff Harvey in cornrows is out next. The Hardyz hits a double suplex on Finlay and then some double team stuff on Edge. Then they hit a horrible-looking double wheelbarrow suplex on Super Crazy. They try a charge on Kane but he double goozles them. They counter and then hit the assisted Air Hardy on Kane but Sabu does not come out to protest gimmick infringement. Sandman is next and he enters through the crowd. He has some cane shots for the Hardy brothers and Super Crazy. He tries one on BOOKA but because he’s not holding court it doesn’t work and he gets tossed to boos. YES! Ring too full now. Finlay tries to toss Hardy as he skins the cat and Kane does the same with CM Punk. Randy Orton is out next. He has some CLUBBINGBLOWS for Super Crazy and then he and Edge toss Super Crazy and both of the Hardy brothers after some double teaming. Orton with a European uppercut on Shelton as BOOKA and Finlay almost toss Kane. Benoit is next. He has some chops for Team Rated RKO and a German suplex on Finlay and another on Kane. BOOKA tries to cut him off with a arm-twist hook kick but Benoit ducks and gives him a German too. Another for Shelton as Finlay finally cuts Benoit off with a forearm. Punk almost tosses Shelton but he hangs on. RVD is next and has some kicks and clothesline for the lot. Big “RVD” chant. BOOKA tries to represent Houston but he eats a kick in the corner and then Kane tosses him to big cheers. NOO! BOO! Well there goes the entertainment in the match for a while. BOOKA’s facial expression is great. He comes back in and hits Kane with a Harlem Side Kick and an Ax Kick and then tosses the big red retard. He continues throwing him around and into the stairs. The refs try to pull him off as Viscera is next. Vis tries to toss Edge but Orton says his partner and fellow tag champ. RVD goes low on Finlay with some rights and then kicks.

Johnny Nitro is next at 20. He also steals Shelton’s strategy and tosses RVD into the top rope. Vis flattens Punk in the corner and uses him as a back rest as Rated RKO collectively choke Nitro. So much for his burst of offense. Kevin Thorn is next to crickets because Ariel is nowhere to be found. Now Orton and Nitro have traded places in the choking. Vis tries to press slam RVD but Nitro saves him. RVD now tries to clothesline Vis over the top a few times. He goes for number 3 but gets clotheslined down. Shelton tries a powerslam but Nitro punches out and hits the Bluechipper dropkick. Bob Holly is next. Holly with rights on RVD and Nitro but no one else because they aren’t interested. Vis cuts him off with a clothesline. Shelton tries to eliminate RVD but he hangs on again. Everyone can’t skin the skin. Eventually someone has to take a fucking fall over the top. Everyone tries to gang up on Vis as Shawn Michaels is next. Finlay goes after him but eats a Thesz press, inverted atomic drop and a flying burrito that sends him over the top. Vis fights everyone off but gets Sweet Chin Music and then tossed by everyone. Hardcore now decides he wants a piece of HBK as does Shelton but HBK backdrops Shelton to the floor. Holly with some fierce chops on HBK. Chris Masters is next as Edge hits the Kona Clutch on HBK. Nitro with a vertical suplex on Benoit and he goes up top but Benoit recovers to toss him off the top turnbuckle. Rated RKO go for HBK. Chavo Guerrero is next as Benoit tosses Kevin Thorn. Chavo goes for Chris Masters but Masters pokes him in the eye. MVP is next and goes straight for Benoit but eats chops. Masters tries to Bulldog powerslam RVD over the top but he slides out and dropkicks Masters to the floor. Orton works over Punk as Chavo and RVD work on Holly. Carlito is next to a still pretty good pop but they had squandered his chance by this point probably. Carlito with rights on everyone. RVD almost tosses HBK but he hangs on. RVD and Chavo both try to kick/choke HBK to the floor but no go. Rated RKO decide to go for Carlito. The Great Khali is next and business is definitely picking up. The entire ring stops for him. Edge and RVD gets thrown around like gnats. Headbutts for all. Khali hits VICIOUS brain chop on Orton who sells death. Another on MVP and Benoit. Khali tosses Holly as The Miz is next and no one cares at all. Amazing what a few years will do for you. Miz gets immediately thrown by Khali and RVD is next. CM Punk is gone too. Carlito tries something but gets thrown to the apron. He hangs on and tries to jump back in but gets brain chopped to the floor. Always loved that elimination. Khali tosses Chavo into the top rope and miraculously it works out as Chavo goes over the top despite the laws of physics. Newton would be pissed. Khali hits the Snitsky taunt to a mixed reaction. Another Snitsky taunt. He grabs HBK and gives him the double chokeslam. Another Snitsky taunt.

UT is last at 30. Khali is in disbelief but tells UT to bring it on. UT with some “strykes.” UT comes back with a brain chop but UT no sells. They exchanges more rights. Khali goes for the choke but UT breaks the grip and clotheslines Khali. The bastard won’t go so UT keeps pushing until finally Khali hits the floor to a big pop. More rights for everyone. Old School on MVP and he’s gone.

Final Four: HBK, Edge, Orton, and Undertaker. Edge tries a right but eats UT’s version of the flying burrito. MVP gets a chair and tries to bring it in. The ref stops him but Orton gets the chair. UT tries to toss Edge but he hangs on and Orton lays out Taker with a chairshot. Edge is primed for the Spear but Orton won’t move. Edge tries it as soon as Orton turns around for the chair and Edge stops and says Orton has the wrong idea. Orton hits an RKO on HBK and he rolls to the floor. Rated RKO is primed to self-destruct but they target UT. UT bladed off the chair shot and it’s fairly weak. Orton with the CLUBBINGBLOWS and awkwardly hits the destiny taunt. UT comes back with rights and hits a couple of Ho Trains on both of them. UT goes for the double ChokeSlam but they both boot out. They send UT off but he gets a double clothesline. UT hits Snake Eyes and a big boot on Edge. He preps the ChokeSlam on Orton but Edge Spears him before he can do it. Edge gets the chair and smashes UT with it. Edge rolls to the floor to get another chair. Orton places the other chair under Taker’s head. HBK staggers back in and Edge directs traffic to tell Orton to get HBK. Instead, HBK backdrops Orton over the top. Edge tries a chairshot and HBK ducks and Edge eats a SCM to send him over the top and both are down for the double KO spot. Incredible sequence that came out of nowhere and if anyone watching didn’t have chills at this interaction then nothing WWE does will have a chance. UT does the zombie situp and HBK kips up. UT shits on Angle’s gimmick by dropping the straps. UT goes for rights in the corner but HBK ducks and mounts and tries some rights. UT throws him off and HBK charges in again. UT throws him off again. UT goozles him and throws HBK into the corner and hits with more shots that almost send HBK over the top. He tries to shove him over but HBK kicks him off and comes back with chops in the corner. UT recovers and gives HBK a hard Irish whip and HBK does his spot and transitions into Flair’s spot and winds up on the apron. UT goes for the flying zombie hipcheck in the corner but HBK ducks and UT lands on the apron. HBK gets a head of steam and tries a right hand but no go. He tries another but runs into a back elbow. Back in, UT telegraphs a backdrop and HBK counters with a swinging neckbreaker. They slug it out as the “HBK” chant builds but he runs into a big boot from UT. UT tries to front suplex Shawn over the top but he lands on the apron. HBK cuts him off and sends UT into the turnbuckle. Both head up top and jockey for position. HBK finally wins it after about a minute and knocks Taker to the mat. HBK hits the Macho Elbow off the top and tunes up the band. He tries SCM but UT catches the foot and counters with a ChokeSlam. He signals for the Tombstone. HBK slides out and hits the SCM. HBK up first and tries it again but UT ducks and tosses him to win it at 57:44.

• Legendary finishing sequence but WAYYYY too many stars and studs according to the advertising hung around for way too long. Starting with Flair and letting him do his thing is never a bad idea as he’s always good for pops and signature spots. Also letting Edge and Finlay be the entertaining vets who know the ropes and will cheat is smart. BOOKA was great for his limited time in the match but I really wish he had made a further run toward the end. The RR is a perfect showcase for a guy like Khali who can’t do much but everything he does works perfectly in the RR if everyone sells for him and they did. The HBK/Vis, UT/Khali eliminations were particularly good and everything with the final 4 was great but it just took too damn long for the story of the RR to develop and felt a lot longer than it was. ***1/2 mostly for the ending.

The 411: Everything other than the ECW is good, but nothing is spectacular other than the last 5-10 minutes. Watch the whole show for good solid wrestling and storytelling all around but FF to HBK's entrance for the epic stuff.
Final Score:  7.0   [ Good ]  legend

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Jack Bramma

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