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Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Royal Rumble 2009

January 30, 2011 | Posted by Jack Bramma
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Ring Crew Reviews: WWE Royal Rumble 2009  

Relevant Storylines: HBK sells his soul to JBL and all he got was a shitty toboggan. Beth Phoenix makes Melina bleed her own blood and kick her own back. Goldust is upset that Cody doesn’t like his movie reviews. And Legacy decide to team up for the entirety of the RR.

Scheduled Card:
1. WWECW Championship: Matt Hardy vs. Jack Swagger (c).
2. WWE Women’s Championship: Melina vs. Beth Phoenix (c).
3. World Heavyweight Championship: JBL vs. John Cena (c).
4. No DQ Match for the WWE Championship: Edge vs. Jeff Hardy (c).
5. Royal Rumble Match.

• The usual highlights of past winners open us up until the package is interrupted in mid-sentence with an invading, pirate-video of Orton smacking and punting Vincent Kennedy McMahon and knocking him the fuck out. The Orton section has his theme music in the background but the vocals only. This is a seriously awesome section on Orton and shows the MASSIVE heat and opportunity they had with him until they killed it by having Shane McMahon beat him and his entire stable up by himself.

WWECW Championship: Matt Hardy vs. Jack Swagger (c). Swagger has the spread eagle silver belt that looks badass but obviously second-tier due to not being gold. Stryker runs off about 15 nicknames for Swagger and I only remember one of them (“All-American American”). This is Swagger’s first defense after being Hardy for it a few weeks prior. Swagger has a great shit-eating grin. Collar and elbow goes nowhere and Matt actually tries to take a shot without giving a break but the ref stops him. Subtle heel stuff. Mild Hardy chant starts up as they do it again and Swagger tries the shot this time but Matt blocks and gives it back to him. Matt Hardy with some more rights and Swagger takes a breather. Matt follows despite the ref’s warnings and gives him more rights and sends him into the apron. Back in, Matt blocks a kick and hits a discus clothesline DDP STYLE. Matt sends him off but Swagger hangs on and takes another breather and works the count. “Let’s go Hardy” chant gets going. Back in, Swagger shoots for a double, gets it and goes to the mat. Swagger working a hammerlock on the mat. Matt gets to his feet. He reverses a takes a swing and Swagger counters with the Roll the Dice and goes back to the hammerlock. Matt elbows out and sets up the Twist of Fate but Swagger slides out to the corner. Matt comes in with a basement dropkick and hits a bulldog for 2. Swagger tries a charge in the corner but eats elbow. Matt goes up top but Swagger recovers and dumps him. Swagger now goes to working the left arm with some arm wringer/shoulder rams and a shoulderblock for 2. Swagger now goes to the keylock and Hardy immediately gets to his feet and escapes. Swagger tries to go on the offense in the corner by using the ropes to help with another keylock. Hardy tries shrugging it off to go on the offense but Swagger wraps the arm again and torques it. Hardy comes back with forearms and tries a left-arm clothesline which makes absolutely no sense other than to be an idiot and show that his arm hurts when he tries to use. Swagger of course blocks it and hits a big boot for 2. Swagger goes back to the keylock and torques it enough to lift Matt off the mat and drive him back into it. Swagger now counters to a basic arm wringer. Hardy shrugs it off and hits a clothesline with his good arm. Matt hits some more clothesline and a Side Effect called an “interesting maneuver” by Stryker. Hardy sends Swagger off and hits a clothesline in the corner. Hardy with a bulldog for 2 as Grisham tries to get over another nickname for Hardy as “The Resilient Warrior.” These are the same people who came up with “Stone Cold” and “The Rock” and “Mr. Perfect”? I don’t believe it. Hardy goes up to the second turnbuckle and hits arm is hurt bad enough to zap him of his yodeling powers. He hits an elbow drop for 2. Hardy tries a kick but Swagger counters to a belly to belly for 2. They jockey over a suplex until Swagger counters and hits a single-arm DDT/armbar takedown for 2. Swagger puts him up top and tries to arm-capture super back suplex but Hardy elbows him off and hits an ugly moonsault for 2. Crowd into the near-falls. Hardy tries the Twist of Fate but Swagger pushes him off. Hardy comes back with an elbow and tries another Side Effect but Swagger counters and throws him bad shoulder-first into the ringpost. Swagger says that’s it and hits the gutwrench powerbomb for the 3 to retain at 10:27. Not much to see here. The arm work was solid but the match was workmanlike and mildly boring. Although, I appreciate Hardy incorporating some subtle heel things to foreshadow the heel turn later. **1/2

• Post-match, Stryker and Grisham attempt to pluck heartstrings for Hardy by playing a violin and saying he’s been in a fight his whole life. This couldn’t possibly lead to anything bad or dastardly.

• Earlier today, Randy Orton arrived and the entire backstage crew and wrestlers stopped and stared in awe as he passed. That’s a pretty awesome way to single him out.

WWE Women’s Championship: Melina vs. Beth Phoenix (c). Melina allegedly, according to Grisham, had to win a 6-diva battle royale to get this match. If I was her, I would be pissed because that makes her shockingly overqualified to be champion much less challenger. Glamorella in full force here. No in-ring introductions for this? Heresy. Weird visual at the opening at Beth has a major league cowlick going and Melina has a a mountain of a weave. Phoenix throws her down to start! Melina works the side headlock but she CANNOT STOP THE POWER OF GLAMORELLA as Phoenix counters and throws her down again. A “Santino” chant gets going big time. Beth throws around Melina with the bearhug for a little while. Melina stomps and elbows out and hits a shitty Erik Watts dropkick but runs into a shoulderblock. Melina headscissors off a whip into the armbar takedown which sounds cool but was too slow. Cole speculates about how losing an arm would affect Beth’s offensive repertoire as Melina “works” the hold. Beth just stands up and dumps her in the turnbuckle. She gets a change but runs into a boot. Melina climbs her shoulders but gets thrown off backwards. WTF? Beth hits her own version of the Runaway Samoan Semi in the corner and then slingshots Melina back into the ring for 1. Beth now works the reverse half-crab. Beth torques it enough to kick Melina in the back of her head with her own leg. OK, that’s awesome and the crowd is digging that too. The ref demands a break for no apparent reason other than civility. There’s no crying in women’s wrestling! Beth gives her a Batista kick but Melina kicks her back. They almost botch a sideslam for 2 as Santino tells her to take it home. Beth places Melina on the top and tries to press slam her off but Melina slides out and botches a roll up. They cover with a jawbreaker and some forearms. Melina gets a roll up for 2. She drop toe holds Beth into the ropes, kicks her into them and then hits the troll yell hairtoss for 2. Melina avoids a charge in the corner and hits a seated senton off the top. Melina tries a reverse DDT/leg drop but Beth counters and sends Melina off who gets a roll up for the 3 to win it at 5:58. Crowd pops for the surprise finish but who gives a shit. I don’t think it’s exactly brilliant booking to take the title off the only over gimmick in the entire division but I suppose I’m not a creative genius. * for Beth’s beast half-crab.

World Heavyweight Championship: JBL vs. John Cena (c). The story here is that HBK lost his money in the stock market and now he’s working for JBL. I have my own theory about some of HBK’s angles during his return. In 05-07, David Cronenberg made a couple films with Viggo Mortensen as his lead in A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. Without getting too much into thematic significance or analysis, I think one of the overarching connections between both films is how Viggo can tell an entire story with just a look. Viggo is great at facial expressions but also at being a blank canvas that viewers can project onto it, because in both movies, he’s both a villain and a hero and even his closest friends and confidantes can’t tell who he really is. I feel that Shawn Michaels has the same quality to an extent and is perhaps the best wrestler at conveying solemnity, confusion, regret and a host of other emotions with just a look. I think you can see this in his heel turn on Hogan, his tweener run in the lead-up to WM against Cena, his feud with Batista after retiring Flair, his feud with UT, and particularly this run with JBL. In the number one contender’s match to get this shot, JBL forced HBK to take a Clothesline from Hell and lay down so he could get the shot.

• Pre-match, JBL tells HBK backstage not to be conflicted about Cena trying to convince him to turn on JBL. JBL says after tonight he will give HBK all the money he owes him and even says that he will guarantee that HBK gets in the RR so he can win it and face JBL himself at Wrestlemania. That’s quite the diplomatic, persuasive promo from JBL. Shawn’s about to exit but runs into the fuckin’ Undertaker who only has only line for HBK: “Sometimes, it’s hell getting to heaven.” That one line is the beginning of the build toward HBK vs. UT. Awesome all-around segment.

• What’s the over/under on cutaways to HBK? I’m going to be conservative and say 15. Cena with a headlock takedown. JBL knees to counter and gets his own. First cutaway to HBK and the second follow quickly. Dueling chants for Cena as he powers up to his feet and sends JBL off but eats a shoulderblock. Cena tries a low bridge an a leap frog and gets a 2 count off a back elbow. JBL rolls to the floor to regroup and talk strategy with HBK. Or more like he does the talking while HBK doesn’t say a word or even look in his direction but JBL is so adamant and sincere about what he’s saying. JBL is great here as the rich asshole buying HBK’s soul. Back in, JBL goes to work with the CLUBBINGBLOWS and more rights in the corner. He paintbrushes Cena with his boot. Cena comes back and sends him across and gets a bulldog for 2. Cena hits a throwback for 2 and JBL takes another breather. Cena gives chase but JBL ducks and Cena won’t hit HBK so JBL jumps him from behind. JBL sends him very tenderly into the stairs. Back in, that gets 2. JBL kicks Cena around and hits some punches and talks openly on camera for the second time so far. JBL is so great at his character but his offensive moveset is seriously lacking. JBL hits a short-arm clothesline and drops some elbows for another 2 as the HBK cutaway count is upwards of 10 now. JBL with a snapmare and goes to a chinlock. Ugggggggghhhhhhh. Cena gets back to his feet but runs into a sideslam for a 2 count. Cena rolls to the apron and JBL gives him a shoulder charge and sends him to the floor. JBL throws Cena into the stairs again. This is some weak shit. Back in, JBL covers for 2. JBL hits some rights in the corner and sits Cena on the top rope. JBL hits some more fuckin’ right hands and preps a top rope suplex but Cena counters and knocks him off to a mixed reaction. Cena hits the ugly top rope fameasser for 2. Cena tries a charge but eats boot in the corner. JBL goes for the Clothesline from Hell but Cena botches some counter and sends JBL into the turnbuckle instead and does it again. Cena hits a couple of shoulderblocks and a Protobomb and the 5KS. Cena goes for the FU but JBL elbows him in the eyes and gets the boot up in the corner. JBL goes for the Clothesline from Hell again as they repeat the spot from earlier but Cena gets the drop toe hold this time and puts him in the STF. They do this right in front of HBK and he’s tempted to help JBL reach the ropes. HBK starts to help but Cena mildly kicks him away to a chorus of boos. Cena tries going for it again but JBL kicks him off and sends him to the floor next to HBK. Cena gets in though without incident but runs into the Clothesline from Hell but that only gets 2 for JBL. Cena no sells recovery and picks him up for the FU but Cena slides out and goes for the big boot. Cena ducks and Chioda eats it instead. Double clothesline and both are down. HBK gets in the ring and JBL up first and eggs HBK on but he eats the Sweet Chin Music instead to his surprise. Cue the HBK visual storytelling as his expression says about 10 different things. Cena is relieved and tries to congratulate him but he eats a SCM as well and HBK drapes JBL on top. HBK then leaves without putting the ref in the ring. Jack Doane comes out and counts but it’s only a 2 count. Both up at the same time and Cena hits the FU for the academic 3 at 15:29 to retain. Unofficial total on the HBK cutaway countdown: 59 (was more like 18). Match was weak. They did nothing of note and were just waiting for the angle to kick in. The only interesting part of the whole match was the HBK dynamic which isn’t enough when he wasn’t one of the participants. *3/4

WWE Championship: Edge vs. Jeff Hardy (c). Alright, so back at Survivor Series, Edge returned with his Mansonian, mountain man beard to win the strap in a triple threat with Triple H and Kozlov which was a great moment but has been done like 5 times now for him. Hardy was supposed to be in that match but had been kayfabe attacked at a hotel. Hardy would win the title the following month in a nice unexpected moment but not the hard sell you’d expect for that win. Too many extracurricular activities going on for Hardy to get the full force of the storyline. It’s such a mixed bag because Hardy is doing some of the best work of his career during this period including the great Joker-esque promo in Manchester on 11/14 but the storyline is all about these mysterious sneak attacks that are apparently being done by Edge. Pre-match, Vickie comes out and makes it a No-DQ match.

• To start, Jeff bull rushes in the corner and goes with the brawling to start. Jeff boots him down and then sends into the opposite corner. Hardy tries to get a chant started for himself but no one follows. Instead a portion of the crowd starts chanting, “We Want Christian” because of his expected return. Hardy sends Edge off and hits a flying burrito as JR calls Edge a “menacing meteorologist.” Hardy with a boot and sends Edge off. Edge grabs the ropes to take a breather but Jeff is in hot pursuit. Edge slides back in the ring but Jeff smartly avoids the normal stupid face spot and instead gets a chair and tries to come in and THEN gets cut off like a stupid face. We’ll call that the delayed stupid face spot. Edge knocks the chair to the floor and punishes Hardy coming back in with more rights. JR calls Hardy “severly challenged” which I’m sure is offensive to some minority or handicap. Edge hits more rights as a “Hardy” chant gets going. Edge with some forearms. He sends Hardy across but he gets the up and over and takes down Edge with a clothesline. Hardy with a snapmare and a basement dropkick for 1. Hardy with a bodyslam and postures but the crowd isn’t really giving him love again. A meek “We Want Tables” dissipates quickly. Hardy with some more rights but Edge cuts him off with rights and sends him into the turnbuckle. Edge sends him off but Hardy baseball slides out and tells Edge to go fuck himself. Edge comes out with his own baseball slide but Hardy goes back in at the same time and then hits the suicide dropkick on Edge on the floor. Jeff teases a plancha and then hits a splash off the apron. Back in, Hardy is distracted by Chavo and then gets big booted off the apron trying a springboard whatever. Hardy tries to come back in but gets dropkicked to the floor again. Nothing worthy of the no-DQ stip thus far. On the floor, Edge sends Hardy into the barricade. Edge now sends him into each of the 3 different announce tables. JR calls it a “tri-branded headbutt” and Taz doesn’t want to miss out on the fun so he calls it a “horrific hat trick.” I swear these fucking guys are bored. Edge now taunts to a mixed reaction and drops an elbow for a 2 count. Edge gives Hardy a kick to the gut and taunts some more to another mixed reaction, but more cheers this time. Edge sends him across to the corner and then hits the pseudo-Spear into the turnbuckle. Edge sends him across and tries again but gets sunset flipped for 2 but he quickly cuts Hardy off with a clothesline. Edge is primed for a major transition and goes to the… waistlock? What? Is this even a damn PPV anymore? Hardy elbows out but then gets pulled down by the hair. We get a goddamn replay of the hair pull as they “slug” it out. Hardy hits the mule kick and goes up top but Edge cuts him off. Hardy shoves him off the top and jumps off like a pile of shit into a dropkick from Edge. JR says he *thinks* Hardy was looking for a crossbody. Edge covers for 2. Edge now rolls to the floor and gets a pair of chairs. Hardy spears him in kind off the apron with the 2 chairs. Nice callback to the delayed stupid face spot from earlier. Hardy now hits a plancha. They both get to the apron and Hardy hits a Twist of HATE on the apron. Hardy now gets his own branded headbutt but only gets through the first two. He preps the middle announce table and pulls up a Tommy Dreamer Ladder. Hardy places Edge on the table and then climbs the ladder. Chavo distracts and Edge tries to escape but Hardy hits a plancha on Chavo. Hardy sends Edge into the ringpost because he apparently has a kick-me sign on his back. Hardy sends Chavo into the stairs and then puts him on the announce table instead. Jeff climbs to the top of the ladder and actually goes off the top but as he jumps the ladder slips out and Jeff hits a splash on Chavo. Cool but dangerous spot. Hardy kicks Edge into the barricade. Back in, Hardy hits a crossbody off the top for 2. Hardy might have snuck in a backhoe like Kane because JR says he has “literally leveled the playing field.” After a whip reversal, Edge hits a big boot. Edge now exposes the top turnbuckle and then stares menacingly at it. The entire match Edge has been mildly limping around but it’s fairly pronounced here and it’s not selling. Edge tries to smash him into the turnbuckle but Hardy counters with Whisper in the Wind off the STEEL turnbuckle for 2. Hardy tries the ToF but Edge counters and hits the Edge-o-cutioner DDT for 2. Edge comes off the top for nothing. Jeff has the boots but Edge puts the brakes on. He tries to kick Hardy but gets kicked off himself into the turnbuckle and rolled up for a close 2 count. Hardy hits the ugly sideout gordbuster for 2. Hardy goes up top and Edge smartly just gets up and moves away. Hardy follows with a dropkick to send Edge him into the corner. Jeff tries the step-up dropkick coming down but Edge catches him and hits the Snake Eyes on the exposed turnbuckle. The match has definitely picked up some. Edge preps a Spear. He tries it but gets caught in a Twist of HATE. Jeff heads up top but Vickie comes out. Jeff kicks her off and hits the Swanton anyway. Hardy covers but Vickie pulls out the ref. MATT HARDY HAS COME [email protected]! And he’s got a chair. He gives it to Jeff and then gets another for the conchairto. Jeff places his under Edge’s head but Matt waffles him instead. THAT NO GOOD BASTARD! The crowd doesn’t like it and Edge cautiously covers for the 3 to retain at 19:24. First half was boring horseshit, but once the stipulation kicked in and they started using weapons and moves other than punches and kicks the match was better. Edge is a shell of the wrestler he use to be, but he’s much better at character. It just wasn’t enough to elevate the tepid first half. ***

• Post-match, everyone is aghast at what just happened.

• Next, Grisham interviews Orton. Orton says despite the incident he’s still in the RR. Before Grisham can ask his next question, Jericho interrupts and tells him to scram. Jericho thanks Orton for getting rid of that pandering drone McMahon. Jericho says that Orton didn’t take out Mr. McMahon because the real Mr. McMahon was dead a long time ago. Orton questions his motives. Jericho says he just wanted to thank him but at the same time let Orton know he would probably be fired the next night. This segment is good since Jericho was in a nice angle with Stephanie where she fired him and then rehired him after attrition.

Royal Rumble: The same video package from last year airs with some updated stats. Rey draws 1 and hopefully that doesn’t mean he’ll lay around for 40 minutes. Morrison is two and that should be a nice opportunity for him to show off some stuff. Morrison with a pieface early but eats some Tajiri kicks. They go through a reversal sequence that culminates in Mysterio trying the wheelbarrow bulldog but Morrison catches him and tries the toss but Mysterio hangs on. Morrison then tries to kick his hands off but only catches one. Back in, Mysterio hits a springboard crossbody and a flying headscissors ’97 edition. Mysterio tries to shitcan him but Morrison hangs on. Both good sequences but they could end up overdoing the skin the cat shit early. Carlito is 3 at about 100 seconds. He is tag champs with Primo at this point. Carlito does the apple spit at Morrison. He counters a moonsault from Mysterio with a neckbreaker. Morrison tries to toss him but Carlito lands on the apron and then hits the double springboard moonsault on Morrison. Carlito could go when he wanted to. Morrison hits a stiff running knee strike on Carlito. Morrison with a European uppercut on Rey as MVP is next to a substantial pop and an MVP chant. He had been on a major losing streak (hate that gimmick) but you wouldn’t know it from the crowd. MVP hits a Bulldog powerslam on Morrison, a belly to belly throw on Rey and then hits a Ballin’ elbow. He gives Carlito the jumping jawbreaker. Morrison tries a springboard kick but MVP ducks and Carlito eats it. MVP then hits the Drive-By on Morrison for another MVP chant. Mysterio hits a headscissors on him as The Great Khali is next. JR reels off his vital states and then calls him “the most popular wrestler from India in the WWE ever” and that’s significant considering his competition is… Tiger Raj Singh? He no sells and piefaces everyone and then hits the Snitsky taunt to a huge pop. A pop for Khali as a heel? What the hell? He swats down and no sells a missile dropkick from Rey and gives him the ultra-violent Brain chop. Carlito tries a backcracker and Kozlov no sells that and gives him a choke toss but Kozlov is next and it’s CLASH OF THE TITANS TIME! Khali tries a Khali vice but Kozlov no sells and then they botch Khali’s elimination so he just pulls himself over the top. Classic. Kozlov now shits on his gimmick and hits the Snitsky taunt. He no sells a springboard crossboy from Morrison and knocks him down. MVP goes for the Drive-By but Kozlov dodges and tosses him and hits another Snitsky taunt. Kozlov tries to toss Carlito and hits the premature Snitsky taunt but Carlito hangs on. Carlito tries a springboard whatever but eats a spinebuster and Kozlov tosses him and hits the UNPRECEDENTED FIFTH SNITSKY TAUNT IN THE MATCH! Kozlov no sells some shit from Rey and shoves him down as Triple H is next. It’s a good thing too because Kozlov winning would have been the biggest upset in double double E history… EVER. They go face to face and slug it out. Kozlov takes him down with a headbutt but Triple H comes back with a jawbreaker and the crotch chop as Kozlov cannot overcome the power of the taunt he’s gone. Morrison jumps H and hits a European uppercut but eats a high knee as Randy Orton is next and Cole would have you believe this is without a doubt the most controversial entrance in the history of the RR except for Mohammed Hassan and Daniel Puder and Kaientai and well you get the picture. Orton and Trips slug it out until Orton hits the neck/backbreaker. He preps the RKO but Trips counters with a Pedigree atempt but Morrison cuts him off with the springboard spinkick. Mysterio hits a seated senton on Orton and then hits the drop toe hold and 619 on Morrison and everyone is down. Triple H sends Morrison into the turnbuckle and tries to toss him but no go. Cryme Tyme flip a two-sided coin over who’s next and JTG wins. He hits some random offense including the reversal Side Effect on Morrison until Triple H no sells and sends him into the turnbuckle with some rights. Orton tries to toss Rey but he gets caught up in a headscissors and neither goes anywhere. Triple H pulls a page out of the 3 Stooges book as he smashes JTG and Morrison’s heads together.

Triple H jumps Orton from behind as Ted Dibiase is next at 10 and his music still sucks. JR immediately plays up the possibility of Orton winning due to Legacy working together. JTG and Morrison take him down with a double dropkick and immediately turn on each other. Dibiase tries to clothesline both over the top and they both skin the cat and takes turn trying to knock the other off the tope. Mysterio counters a powerbomb with the headscissors but both of them hang on as well. Mysterio hits a baseball slide lowblow on Dibiase as Jericho is next. Jericho immediately goes for Orton. So much for those 2 being in cahoots based on the backstage segment. Morrison hits a swinging neckbreaker on JTG. Trips now goes for Jericho but eats a bulldog out of the corner. Jericho goes for the Lionsault but Trips stands up and avoids. He preps the Pedigree but Jericho counters and goes for the WoJ but Trips legwhips out. Good sequence. H tries to shitcan him but Jericho hangs on. Orton and Dibiase start working together to take apart Morrison. Mike Knox is next and he’s sporting the Brody beard and I’ll admit I was a mark for his womanizing of Kelly Kelly and still am pissed about HBK burying him at SS 2006. Knox hits a fucking pump kick on Mysterio and is immediately over with me for it. Then he hits a Ho Train on JTG and Morrison cuts a Perfect flip bump off a clothesline for him as JR speculates about the difference between sociopathic and psychopathic. Orton and Dibiase now go to work on Morrison as Knox tries to toss Rey but Triple H stops it. Knox whips Triple H into Orton and Morrison and I’m sure he had to do some ECW/NXT house show in Siberia for that. JTG tries to squat Orton over the top but eats an eye poke. YES! Cheap heat. I love it. Miz is next to quite some heat. Miz hits the Stroke on JTG as Jericho and Rey tease a suplex over the top. Miz hits a clothesline in the corner on Triple H and then Rey. Miz n Morrison now double team Orton but run into the Orton/Dibiase team. Psychology in a RR is always wonderful. Miz whiffs on a clothesline as Orton gets kicked by Mysterio trying the wheelbarrow bulldog. He flips out and shoves Morrison into an RKO. Nice sequence. Orton now RKOs Miz and JTG. Triple H now hits the Pedigree on Orton to cut him off and tosses both remembers of MNM. Not sure how I feel about that. Rey is tossed over the top by someone but lands on MNM and uses them as Shannon Moore-like stepping stones to get back in the ring. Finlay is next and hits a bunch of inverted atomic drops. Finlay hits the buttbomb on Triple H and tries to toss Jericho. Finaly tries to toss Dibiase but Knox gets revenge and goes for Finlay. Bad idea as Finlay starts singing a song and breaks his thumbs. Actually Finlay just clotheslines him down and hits a few Batista kicks on JTG. Cody Rhodes is next and now Legacy has a brainstorming strategy and goes for Triple H and puts the boots to him to boos. Then they do the same to Finlay and Knox. It’s funny how JR and King are tripping over themselves to badmouth this strategy as somehow in violation or against the spirit of the match but fuck ’em. Mysterio springboards into an RKO in a nice spot. Knox fights off Priceless but eats a big boot. For 15, the lights go out and UT is next. Everyone stops to go for him. UT has soupbones and outta control zombie clotheslines. He tosses JTG easily and then headbutts everyone. “Undertaker” chant gets going as he hits Snake Eyes and a big boot on Cody. Goldust is next as Knox drives UT into the corner. Goldust with throat thrusts for Dibiase and Cody turns him around. They did a mini-angle in the lead-up. Maybe like 2 segments on RAW but it really got this interaction heat. Goldust smacks his brother and knocks him down. He gets him fireman’s carry but Cody lands on the apron. Goldust then tries to backdrop him but Cody again cheats elimination. Orton hits the RKO on him and then calls Cody over and lets him toss Goldust in a great little sequence. The RR needs more of this. See that elimination MEANT something. UT tossing JTG meant nothing. They don’t all have to mean something but it’d be nice if more than 1 or 2 every year had a storyline tie-in. Finlay tries to toss Dibiase but Legacy goes to save him as CM Punk (still a face) is next and he’s the IC champ. He has some signature moves for a few and some high kicks. He hits a bulldog on Jericho. Trips tries to give him a Pedigree but Punk counters and hits him with the G2S! Small consolation for riding his wave at SS 2006 but it’ll do. UT cuts off Punk with a big boot in a moment that would become the story of Punk’s career for one particular title reign.

Finlay and UT battle over headbutts as Mark Henry and Teddy Atlas are next at 20. He swats down a bunch and goes toe to toe with Undertaker and hits a Ho Train on him. Henry with a massive 400 lb headbutt on CM Punk. Triple H jumps him from behind but runs into the falling slam. Henry tries to toss Punk but he hangs on. Shelton Benjamin is next. He boots away on some and hits a leaping Flatliner on Finlay. Shelton then hangs Mysterio out to dry with a flapjack. Jericho and Punk jockey for position on the top rope but Shelton follows off and takes both down with popup super DDT. Shelton hits the spinning gamengiri on Henry. Trips tries to shitcan Punk but he hangs on. Alright, time for some eliminations. Let’s get this going. Henry tosses together Priceless as William Regal is next. Henry tries to press slam Rey to the floor but he slides out. Regal hits an exploder suplex on Punk and then hits him with a running knee. UT works over Shelton in the corner as Priceless targets Triple H. In the confusion, UT big boots Henry over the top. Mysterio and Orton do a slow ass crucifix as Rhodes and Dibiase almost toss Triple H. Rey gives Orton a vicious Batista kick as Kofi is next. He hits some chops and a few Bluechipper dropkicks and even Trips sells for him. He hits a boom dump and a Russian leg drop on Knox but Jericho cuts him off. There are 13 or 14 people in the ring but the actual number is less important than realizing there’s too many that you can’t even count them all in a wide shot. Shelton cuts off Knox with a high kick as Finlay goes low on Dibiase. UT no sells something from Shelton and then tosses him. Rey straddles the ringpost upside-down as Jericho tries to toss him. Kane is next and hits his own series of soup bones on all. He blind-side elbows Jericho by accident and hits a sideslam on Dibiase. Kane and UT go face to face but decide to team up and double ChokeSlam him and then hits Stereo ChokeSlams on Kofi and Jericho. UT tosses Jericho into the ringpost as Rey works over Knox in the corner. Punk headscissors Regal over the top as King and JR COMPLETELY whiff on pointing out their feud over the IC title. That’s inexcusable. R-Truth is next but doesn’t sing his entrance song. What kind of disgusting, despicable man shits on his own gimmick? I’M PISSED NOW! R-Truth hits some punches on some people and the barrel roll clothesline on Trips. There’s just too many fucking people in the ring. Regal and Punk fight over a suplex. UT gives more rights to Orton. RVD is next and he gets the loudest pop probably next to Taker. RVD hits a top rope heelkick on Kane thus reigniting the feud that perpetuated tragic breakup of Smoke n Fire, former world tag champs. Huge “RVD” chant as he kicks and clotheslines all down except for UT who can’t be bothered to feed into him and sell. Punk eats a springboard heel kick. RVD tries the 5 Star FS but Trips won’t let him so RVD spinwheel kicks him. THE Brian Kendrick is next as RVD nd Rey hits a double leg drop on R-Truth. Kendrick immediately dumps Kofi in the corner. Triple H brings back another favorite of mine as he tosses TBK into the top rope and then reconsiders and tosses him over the top rope on the other side. Not sure what the point of that was. Can we get stop giving established stars that no sell and just hit random offense entrances in the top 10 and then let them hang out for half an hour? RVD tries to toss Punk but he skins the cat again as Legacy goes to work on UT. Dolph Ziggler is next as most of the people are standing around at this point. Dolph backs into Kane and then introduces himself casually but Kane tosses him without issue. Knox tries to toss Dibiase but he hangs on. Rhodes hits an electric chair on Punk. Santino is next to a another big pop but he immediately gets clotheslined over the top by Kane to another big pop. “Santino” chant as he exits. UT and Trips slug it out and Jericho joins the party. Kane tries to push Trips over the top but no go. Hacksaw Jim Duggan is next and he gets the nostalgia pop. Everyone sells for him including UT. He hits a headbutt on Kane. Orton and Rhodes stomp R-Truth around and Orton cheapshots Finlay. But again no eliminations.

Showster is out last at 30. Everyone stands around to admire his walk. He piefaces Punk easily and goes face to face with UT but Kane jumps him from the side. I suppose that’s a receipt from May 19th. They slug it out until Hacksaw cuts them off and tries to slam Show over the top. Show elbows to counter and then gingerly tosses him to boos. That’s right, FUCK YOU SHOW! Jericho tries a sleeper on Show but eats a sideslam. UT tries to toss Punk but he hangs on. Show hits the overhand chops on R-Truth. Kane tries to toss Dibiase but he hangs on. Finlay hits the short-arm clothesline on R-Truth and then he gets tossed by TBS. Taker tries to dump Cody but he skins the cat and Punk does it again and they repeat it one more time and again until Punk eats a haymaker from Show and he’s gone. Show hits a Ho Train on Kane as RVD blocks a DDT from Orton. Knox and Mysterio jockey for an elimination as Finlay and Show sneak both and toss them off-camera. Goddammit. We couldn’t have done that 15 minutes and 10 guys ago ON CAMERA? Hornswoggle is in but Kane goozles him. Finlay tries to cut him off but he gets goozled. Kane tries a ChokeSlam but HS distracts and hits the floor and Finlay follows as Kane dumps him. Kane hits a big boot on Rhodes. JR pulls out his calculator to figure out Triple H has now been in there the longest. RVD gets the boot up on TBS in the corner as Jericho hits the Codebreaker on Kane. Trips and Orton slug it out as RVD tries to clip Show’s knee. Orton now hits his DDT out of the ropes on Trips. UT and Show now repeat the face to face from earlier but to not nearly the same reaction. They slug it out as Jericho clips Showster from behind. RVD hits the 5SFS on Orton but gets tossed by Jericho trying to recover to huge boos. Jericho gloats as UT zombie sneak attacks him from behind and headbutts Jericho. Jericho comes back with a Codebreaker but gets tossed by UT trying a clothesline. See that exchange between RVD-Jericho-UT wasn’t that much different but was more significant than other eliminations. It didn’t have a storyline tie-in; it just had some camerawork, commentary and SELLING that put it over. Simple but effective. Show chops Dibiase and Kane hits Orton around. Priceless sneak Kane and toss him.

Final Four (Six): Showster, Triple H, UT, and Legacy. I would wait until it’s only four but they are doing the four post standoff to signal this is the symbolic final four. Show stupidly goes for Triple H as Legacy combined goes for UT. I guess Show is still a little pissed about being called a fatboy, getting stabbed in the eye with a pen, and then having his hand broken by Triple H all on the same night. Show ChokeSlams Triple H and postures for a minute to breathe. UT hits a series of clotheslines and ChokeSlams on Legacy as Show just looks on patiently gathering himself. UT and Show go face to face for the third time to a “Taker” chant. This feud has almost no heat here and they are giving it so much disproportionate attention. UT hits a big boot and a running clothesline on Show. He hits another big boot but UT hangs on and lands on the apron. Orton tries RKO but UT casually disregards him. UT and Show goozle each other to the apron. Orton RKOs Show to the floor. UT tosses off Orton and goozles Priceless but Show pulls him to the floor. I like that elimination even if the crowd isn’t buying the feud. UT calls him a motherfucker and they “brawl” through the crowd. Now it’s just Trips and all of Legacy. Trips tells them to suck it but succumbs to the numbers quickly. They put the boots to him and pound him down. Orton tells them to “pick ‘im up.” Orton paintbrushes him around and tries an RKO but H rams him into the turnbuckle. Rhodes tries to clean up but eats a jawbreaker and Rhodes eats a spinebuster. Triple H tries a Pedigree but Orton rushes him and Triple H backdrops him to the apron but crowd bought it as an elimination. Trips hits the Pedigree on Cody and Orton slides back in. Triple H tosses Cody and Dibiase back to back but Orton sneaks him and dumps him to win it at 58:37.

• Nice pop for that finishing sequence and it’s about time they LET someone team together for the entirety of the match without double-crossing each other after 30 seconds. It’s too logical for it to never happen. Also, I’m glad that finally a heel won again. I appreciated the Punk/Regal and Rhodes/Goldust interactions and especially the Jericho/RVD/UT elimination sequence. Also the showcase for Kozlov and the UT/Show parts made sense just weren’t as enjoyable. But the RR has definitely went down a few notches the last couple of years. Too many people in the ring, too much skinning the cat, not enough cheap heel heat, not enough meaningful eliminations, etc. Also, if this RR was designed to put Orton over as the ultimate evil bastard, I wouldn’t classify it a success. ***

***Bonus Match: No DQ, Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship: Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Edge (c).*** This is from Armageddon 2008. Alright the story here is fairly simple. Jeff was supposed to be in the triple threat the previous month but was fayfabe attacked at his hotel. Edge ends up taking his place in the match with a surprise return at the very end and wins it. Edge pleads ignorance for the attack and blames Triple H instead. Great package for this that shows Hardy and Trips going after each other while Edge gloats from a distance.

• JR mentions that this could be the greatest match in Armageddon history which I’m sure is quite the dubious distinction. JR mentions the event goes all the way back to 1999 where Trips was in the first main event and victorious, but he neglects to mention he wrestled Vince in a 40 minute schmooze. Taz and JR are pulling the “can’t win the big one” card for Hardy during his entrance. Crowd is split along age and gender lines for Trips and Hardy during the introductions.

• Hardy immediately goes for Edge but Triple H jumps him from behind. Trips and Edge eat a few lazy flying burritos from Hardy. He stacks them up in the corner and sends them both across and hits an avalanche on both in the corner. H falls forward and Hardy springboards off him for Air Hardy on Edge. Cover but H breaks it up. Triple H gets whipped into the corner by Hardy and sent over the top. Hardy tries following with a plancha but Edge pulls him down from behind. Edge gets a head of steam but Hardy shitcans him and then hits a plancha. H manages to escape the carnage and then take down Hardy with a clothesline as JR notes “slobberknockin’ clotheslines are legal.” Hardy cuts H off but gets sent into the barricade for his trouble. Back in, Edge hits a Batista kick on H as he tries to slide in. Edge goes to work with some boots and rights in the corner. Triple H fights back with rights but runs into a big boot for 2. Off a whip reversal, Triple H gets a high knee, ducks a clothesline and hits a hangman’s neckbreaker. Trips hits a clothesline in the corner on Edge. Trips hits the jawbreaker and preps the Pedigree but Hardy back in and jumps him from behind. Hardy sends H off and lowers his head and Triple H gives him the jawbreaker too. H tries the Pedigree again but Hardy hits a Whisper in the Wind off the top to break it up. Hardy hits a few sloppy sleeper neckbreakers and tries legdrop pinning combination but H breaks it up. Off a whip reversal in the corner, Hardy slips and botches Whisper in the Wind and Edge covers by making it look like he got crotched on the top rope. Edge tries a top rope back suplex but H comes out and gets him in the electric chair position and Hardy hits the Whisper in the Wind on both and Edge eats the electric chair as well. Nice spontaneous spot if that wasn’t planned. Hardy covers Edge but H breaks it up. Hardy tries the WITW again but H boots him on the way down and preps the Pedigree. Hardy covers and catapults him into the turnbuckle. Hardy then hits the step up dropkick on the downed H but Edge hits the Edge-o-matic from behind and covers for a 2 count. Edge preps the Spear but Hardy leap frogs and Edge takes out H instead. Hardy clotheslines Edge to the floor. Hardy meanwhile hits the Twist of HATE on Trips and hits the Swanton but Edge pulls him out to break up the cover. Edge whips him into the barricade and then into the announce table. I guess Triple H is dead from Hardy’s finishing sequence. Hardy cuts Edge off and sends him into the announce table. Hardy whips Edge into a hand and the barricade. Hardy says it’s go time as he preps the announce table for impact but H clotheslines him down from behind. H throws Edge over the announce table and sends Hardy into the stairs. Now Trips preps the middle announce table so two are primed for a fall. H pounds Hardy onto the table as JR calls him “a tortured soul.” H gets the Pedigree ready but Hardy reverses and tries the ToF but H pushes him off and dodges an incoming Edge that Spears Hardy through the far table. Nice spot if expected. JR says that Edge “speared Hardy’s heart and soul.” That sounds like the opening of Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Does spear equal harpoon? Back in, Triple H has the Pedigree reversed again to the Edge-o-cutioner DDT but no cover as both are down. Edge in the corner calling for the Spear. Edge runs out into a spinebuster. Triple H taunts and finally gets the Pedigree but Kozlov pulls him out and throws him into the stairs. Matt Hardy now comes out to attack Kozlov. Jeff goes up top but Kozlov knocks him off to huge boos and a “sonofabitch” dressing down from JR. Ya know, in hindsight, this sequence makes just enough sense to be great. Matt had beef with Kozlov but was also the guy who attacked Jeff so he allows Kozlov to knock him off the top and THEN goes back to beating up Kozlov. H gets back in the ring after a spell but gets Speared by Edge. Cover gets a close 2 count. Edge rolls to the floor to get a couple chairs. He puts one up H’s head and tries to swing but Hardy grabs it from behind and waffles Edge instead to a pop. Hardy goes up top but Trips crotches him. Triple H hits another Pedigree on Edge and drapes the arm but Hardy comes flying in with the Swanton on Edge and covers instead for the 3 to crown a new WWE Champ at 17:18 to a huge pop. That reaction is as much for the moment as for the surprise of it. He gets the full boyhood dream celebration but the locker room doesn’t empty. Some innovative double-team spots and unexpected counters or signature moves from behind make this an above average triple threat. The overbooked finish and tease that they might not go through with it also elevates it slightly. ***3/4

The 411: An entire show that's just kind of middle of the ring. JBL-Cena and Edge-Hardy are average matches but disappointing considering the bulk of the emotion lies in something OUTSIDE of the match itself. The RR itself was OK but seems to be veering away from what consistently works.
Final Score:  5.5   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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