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wrestling / TV Reports

The Royal Rumble 2008 Breakdown

January 30, 2008 | Posted by J.D. Dunn

Royal Rumble 2008
by J.D. Dunn

  • January 27, 2008
  • Live from New York City, N.Y..
  • Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Joey Styles, Taz, Jonathan Coachman and Michael Cole.

  • First off, I have to say that MSG looks AMAZING in HD. The widescreen framing really does give you a feel for the scope of the arena. Plus, MSG is one of the few arenas that still has a distinct look.
  • Opening Match: Ric Flair vs. MVP.
    Cole scares me by recounting Flair’s in-ring debut and the result. Who is this pod person that replaced the real Michael “Just let it be over, Mick!” Cole? MVP shoulderblocks Flair down and powers him into the corner just to let Flair know he’s ballin’. A big boot to the head sets up a neckbreaker. Flair blocks a charge and clips MVP’s knee out from under him. That sets up a few figure-four attempts. MVP comes back and hits the Kawada Kick for… three? Oh, but Flair’s foot was on the bottom rope. MVP thinks he’s won, but Flair rolls him up for two. MVP hits a superplex for two. They collide for a double KO spot. Flair gets a small package for two, but MVP jump on him. He goes for the Playmaker, but Flair grabs the leg, reverses to the figure-four, and gets the submission at 7:47. I appreciate that they put Flair over cleanly, but they didn’t do much to set up the figure-four. Flair clipped him once, but that was about it. You also see the inherent problem with the Flair angle as they have to keep jobbing people to him even though Flair just doesn’t have believable offense any more. **

  • In the back, Vince McMahon tries to drive a wedge between Hornswoggle and Finlay.
  • Ross and Lawler pitch it over to Mike Adamle, late of American Gladiators and the XFL.
  • Chris Jericho vs. JBL.
    JBL just tries to hang back and stall to get Jericho to lose his cool. And lose his cool, Jericho does, although it’s not to JBL’s benefit. Jericho takes him down and pummels him. He puts him in the Walls of Jericho, but JBL is in the ropes. JBL bails, but Jericho goes out after him and sends him into the steps. Back in, JBL drops him on the top rope to take over. JBL hits a short clothesline and catapults Jericho’s throat into the bottom rope. Jericho fights out of a sleeper and hits a clothesline, but JBL responds with a big boot. Jericho charges but posts himself and gets cut open from the ringpost. Nasty cut too. Back in, Jericho roars back and hits the Lionsault. A clothesline sends JBL over the top to the floor. JBL starts tearing apart the announce table, so Jericho just grabs a chair and NAILS JBL in the face. That draws the DQ at 9:27. After the match, Jericho tries to strangle JBL with a cord, which presumably sets up a Bull-Rope Match. That’s pretty much the same formula they did between Eddy Guerrero and JBL. The match was okay, but it looked like they reigned themselves in a bit, probably not to overshadow the main events. **1/2

  • In the back, Ashley tries to get in to see Maria, but she gets stonewalled by Santino Marella. He gives her the stinkeye and tells her to go away.
  • World Heavyweight Title: Edge (w/Vickie Guerrero, Hawkins & Ryder) vs. Rey Mysterio.
    Rey gets a pretty solid chorus of boos directed at him. New Yorkers despise pluck – and stale wrestlers. The dorky helmet he wears to the ring probably doesn’t help either. Rey hits a sloppy bodyscissors takedown early. Edge tosses him to the floor where Hawkins and Ryder get a little too close for the ref’s comfort, so he tosses them. Edge goes after Rey’s surgically repaired knee and applies a half-crab. Rey kicks his way out of that and goes for the 619, but Edge pops up and powerslams him for two. Edge goes back to the leg for a while. He sunset flips Rey, but Rey rolls through and kicks him in the head for two. A weak doublestomp gets two for Rey. Rey sends him to the floor and slides out with a DDT on the floor. Back in, Edge just boots him in the face but misses a spear. A headscissors sets up the 619, but Vickie Guerrero makes a miraculous recovery and yanks out the referee. Rey goes for another 619, but Vickie sacrifices herself to protect Edge from it. Rey tries to hit the West Coast Pop anyway, but Edge spears him out of the air for the win at 12:34. Both guys are broken down from injuries, so this was just them kind of going through the motions until the wacky booking kicked in. **3/4

  • In the locker room, Mr. Kennedy waits for Flair to get out of the shower so he can cut a promo on him. Shawn Michaels interrupts, as does Batista and Triple H. A big coffee klatch ensues, and Shawn shills his T-shirt.
  • Maria comes out for HD Kiss Cam. Stop encouraging ugly people to mate, WWE! Ashley interrupts and asks Maria if she wants to pose for Playboy. Santino Marella breaks up the fun to answer “no” on behalf of Maria. He makes fun of the New York sports teams and says the NY fans would cheer for hepatitis. He tells them if they want to see boobies, he’ll introduce them to his friend (pleasedon’tbemaeyoung, pleasedon’tbemaeyoung). Turns out it’s Big Dick Johnson. Ashley beats the hell out of him with a rubber chicken. Silly timewaster segment as everyone who would be interested in seeing Maria naked has already marked my calendar… I mean, their calendars.
  • Mike Adamle sure is excited for “Jeff Harvey.” And now you know… the rest of the story.
  • WWF Heavyweight Title: Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy.
    The crowd is definitely buying Jeff as a main event threat, although some smartasses are chanting, “Let’s go Orton.” Jeff grabs a side headlock and works in his splits legdrop. A low dropkick gets two, and Jeff clotheslines him to the floor. A dropkick sends the back of Orton’s head into the barricade. Ouch! A plancha puts Orton down again, so he throws a fit and threatens to leave with his title belt. Jeff cuts him off and tosses him back in. He tries to slingshot himself back in, but Orton cuts him off with a dropkick. Orton stomps on his ankle and tells us it’s over, finis, done. Jeff tosses him to the floor and dives off the apron for a clothesline. Back in, Hardy misses a charge and posts his own shoulder. Orton goes right back to work, powerslamming him and hitting the chinlock. Jeff really sells it too, which makes the move interesting as opposed to someone just sitting there and pushing their hair out of their eyes. Jeff hits an out-of-nowhere Whisper in the Wind for two. Orton rolls to the apron to avoid the Swanton, so Jeff jumps off and dropkicks him at an awkward angle. He follows with a moonsault block off the top to the floor. Back in, Jeff signals for the Twist of Fate, but Randy spins him around in mid-move and hits the RKO at 14:06. The finish came off fantastically, but I get the feeling the fans were expecting something a little more dramatic and less out-of-the-blue because there was a moment after the pin where they just kind of looked around as if to say, “That’s really it?” This was a solid WWE main event. ***1/4

  • Royal Rumble Match:
    Michael Buffer is your guest ring announcer, which is cool. I kind of wish Triple H would have come out, Pedigreed him, and done the DX ripoff, but then I’m weird like that. The Undertaker is #1, getting the Ted Dibiase Curse. Shawn Michaels is #2, giving us a bit of symmetry from last year. Shawn takes the Shawn flip early, and Taker choketosses him into the corner. Taker stretches him across the corner and punts him in the ribs. He tries a second time and crotches himself. Santino Marella is #3, and he’s about to clean house on the ham-and-eggers. Oh, but first, Shawn just casually superkicks him, and Taker tosses him over the top. Shawn tries to dump Taker, but Taker fights back and goes Old School. Shawn drags him off. The Great Khali is #4. Taker goes right after him but gets chopped in the head. Fans chant, “You can’t wrestle.” Sadly, no one starts an opposing, “He doesn’t need to” chant. Khali misses another chop, and Taker casually dumps him. Hardcore Holly is #5. He goes after the Undertaker but gets booted in the face. Taker nearly dumps Shawn, but Holly makes the save.

    John Morrison is #6. He nearly gets tossed but skins the cat back in and goes after Shawn. Tommy Dreamer is #7 and is hugely over with the Northeast crowd. He cleans house on everyone before eating a boot from the Undertaker. Then again, he once drank from Taker’s spit cup, so a big boot probably doesn’t bother him as much. Batista is #8. He cleans house too and goes toe-to-toe with the Undertaker. Dreamer breaks up the epic confrontation and gets tossed by Batista. Morrison gets speared, eliciting sympathy from Taz. Hornswoggle is #9. He just hides under the ring rather than face an ass-kicking. Taker is distracted, so Batista spears him. Holly clotheslines Shawn over, but Shawn hangs on. Chuck Palumbo is #10 and slugs it out with his gimmicksake.

    A taped-up Jamie Noble is #11 and goes after Chuck. They seem to botch a spot where Chuck hangs Noble out to dry and then boots him. In reality, Noble just landed on the apron and had to pull himself back up. Chuck boots him out anyway. CM Punk is #12, getting the huge Northeast pop. He goes nuts with corner knees before the Undertaker cuts him off with a clothesline. Punk knees Palumbo out and gets Shawn Michaels on the ropes. Cody Rhodes is #13 and slugs it out with Punk. He stops to save Holly from the Undertaker. Umaga is #14… wearing red. I guess Triple H called every other color of the spectrum. Umaga Spikes Holly over the top. Cody nearly tosses Shawn. Snitsky is #15. No one cares. He still destroys everything that moves. Ross: I’d like to see Snitsky hook up with Umaga. That means a totally different thing to us under-30 folks, JR. Unless that’s what he really meant to say.

    The Miz is #16. Miz and Morrison beat down Punk. Taker tosses Umaga, but he lands on the apron. Shelton Benjamin is #17. Miz and Morrison are fighting on the top rope, so Benjamin vaults to the top and clunks their heads together like Moe. He hits the flying Flatliner on Punk, but when he stands up, Shawn simply superkicks him over the top. Well, that’s disappointing. Is Shelton destined to be Shawn’s perpetual bitch or something? Jimmy Snuka is #18. He smacks Miz around for a while. Roddy Piper is #19. Snuka and Piper go toe-to-toe. Everyone just stops and watches them go at it. Kane is #20. He tosses Piper and Snuka. Taker teases going after Kane but goes after Shawn Michaels instead.

    Carlito is #21. He staves off elimination by Punk and Morrison and hits the Backstabber on Punk. Rhodes drops him with a bulldog, though. Mick Foley is #22. Morrison nails him with a blind springboard kick. Mr. Kennedy is #23 and gets a decent pop. He hits Cody with a Facewash and Mic Checks Miz. There’s another one for Punk. He stops to talk trash to the Undertaker and gets chokeslammed. Big Daddy V is #24. Taker shoves Snitsky over, so Shawn just superkicks Taker out. They stare each other down, so Kennedy sneaks in and tosses Shawn. Taker works out his frustrations on Snitsky, which hopefully will *not* be followed up on with a match. Kennedy and Cody nearly eliminate each other. Mark Henry is #25, so Matt Striker must have worked out one of those Slick-like deals. Miz gets tossed to the apron, so Hornswoggle reappears and yanks him the rest of the way out.

    Chavo Guerrero is #26, hoping to go after a real title, presumably. Hornswoggle reappears and gets dragged in by Henry and BDV. Fit Finlay runs in and destroys them with the shillelagh. He takes Hornswoggle away, even though he didn’t go over the top rope. Ross tells us Finlay was disqualified for using the shillelagh. O-kay. Elijah Burke is #28, thankfully not showing up in Madison, Wisconsin. Chavo tosses Punk. We see Umaga Spiking Batista. Great selljob by Batista there as he looks like he’s about to gag up a chunk of his own lung. Triple H is #29. He tosses Cody. He tosses Big Daddy V, which was sold as a nearly impossible task on Smackdown. He eliminates Foley and Burke at the same time. HE’S SUPER H! Umaga misses a charge and gets Pedigreed. John Cena is #30, getting a HUGE pop for the surprising return. Hunter looks like someone ran over his dog. Oh wait. Someone did. Cena goes after Mark Henry. There goes Carlito. There goes Chavo. There goes Mark Henry. Finally, Hunter and Cena go at it. HHH gives him the spinebuster but turns right around into the Samoan Spike. He picks him up for another one, but Batista comes out of nowhere to spear him over. Batista clotheslines Kennedy and Umaga out.

    So, the final four are Triple H, Batista, John Cena and Kane. HHH and Batista quickly team up to toss Kane. Batista hands out spinebusters like a crooked doctor handing out steroids prescriptions. HHH winds up clotheslining Batista out, though. Hunter points to the big WrestleMania sign at the top of the arena, so Cena reminds him that he tapped out at the last WrestleMania they faced off in. The fans suddenly remember they don’t like Cena as the two slug it out. They take turns reversing each other’s finishers and clothesline each other for a double KO spot. Cena tries to FU Hunter out, but Hunter slips off his shoulder and DDTs him. Hunter picks him up to toss him, but Cena slips away and FUs Hunter over the top at 51:31. Well, everyone said this was a predictable Rumble coming in, and no one predicted this happening. They took a lot of creative liberties with the rules (and intervals) this year, but nothing that totally killed the idea of the match like in 1999. There were a number of disappointing moments (Shawn’s comparatively invisible performance for one) and slow spots. Outside of a few questionable eliminations, this picked up nicely at the end and gave everyone a hell of a shock. ***1/2

    The 411: I’m not sure anything could have lived up to the expectations coming in. It sure felt like they were trying to recreate the model of the fondly remembered Royal Rumble 2000 with the heel champ killing off the feel-good story cleanly, teasing boobies and delivering a joke payoff, and then having the biggest star in the company take the Rumble. Remakes rarely live up to the original, and neither does this. The atmosphere and booking make it an easy thumbs up even if it couldn’t live up to the hype.

    Easy thumbs up.

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