Sunday, February 15, 2015

Random Network Reviews: Royal Rumble 2009

Royal Rumble 2009
January 25th, 2009 – Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan – Attendance: 16,685

With “Random Network Reviews” now including ALL Pay-Per-Views, Saturday Night’s Main Events, Clash of the Champions and more, the next one to be pulled randomly is the 2009 Royal Rumble. Coming into this year, I was very much into the idea of Randy Orton being the next WWE Champion. He had just returned with cool sleeve tattoos, was interesting to watch and had just punted Vince McMahon in the skull. It’s crazy to think that 2009 is already five years ago and it will be interesting to see how things have changed and stayed the same.

The intro video plays with “Let It Rick” by Kevin Rudolf and Lil Wayne in the background along with highlights from Royal Rumbles past. It gets intercut with Randy Orton’s “Voices” theme and clips of him punting Vince McMahon and disrespecting Stephanie. I’ll admit, it was one of the more vicious looking punts. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler somberly open by saying that even with Mr. McMahon’s condition, the show must go on. ECW commentary, Matt Striker and Todd Grisham, one of my favorite recent duos, take over for the opener.

ECW Championship
Jack Swagger (c) vs. Matt Hardy

Two weeks prior, on ECW, Jack Swagger fulfilled his potential as a “wrestling prodigy” and won the ECW Title. This was the Swagger that I enjoyed, long before he won the World Title on Smackdown and was stripped of all personality. A collar and elbow tie up to start, but Matt hits him with a stiff jab that sends Swagger out to catch a breather. Matt gets him out there but back inside, Swagger brings him to the mat where he wants him. He uses his amateur background to his advantage, but Matt fights out and hits a bulldog for two. Matt gets tossed outside and lands on his arm. Swagger, like a shark smelling blood, wisely goes right after the arm. He even hits a big boot to the shoulder for two. I love when someone targets a body part and pretty much every move is directed there. Matt hits another bulldog, but is selling well. Swagger blocks a kick and gets a near fall with a belly to belly. He follows with a smart single arm DDT but makes a mistake up top. Matt hits a poor looking moonsault for two. Swagger blocks the Side Effect and goes back to the shoulder by driving it into the ring post. From that spot, Swagger nails the Gutwrench Powerbomb and retains.

Winner and Still ECW Champion: Jack Swagger in 10:27
I really enjoyed the psychology of that. Jack Swagger looked very smart by targeting the injury and Matt Hardy sold it well. Better than I expected. ***1/2

Randy Orton is shown arriving earlier today and the roster gives him odd looks and are unusually quiet.

WWE Women’s Championship
Beth Phoenix (c) w/ Santino Marella vs. Melina

Glamarella was way better than it had any right to be and I enjoyed it. Melina does her best early on but is just overpowered by Beth Phoenix. She swings her like a rag doll and this is when Beth is at her best. When she has a girl who can sell her offense well. Melina counters a side slam into an attempted armbar. Beth just lifts her and throws her into the corner. Beth then applies a half Boston Crab and torques it to the point where Melina’s foot is touching her head. She takes it a step further by making Melina STOMP ON HER OWN HEAD! Great, creative spot. Beth picks up Melina for a gorilla press but she slips free. Melina seemed to try a rollup but nothing comes of it as they get stuck. She ends up rolling her up for two anyway and drives her knees into the Champion’s back. She leaps off the top with a Rey Mysterio like move before going for her finisher. Beth blocks it and tries the Glam Slam, but Melina reverses into a pin for the three.

Winner and New WWE Women’s Champion: Melina in 5:56
A pretty good Divas match. Beth Phoenix was her dominating self and we saw a memorable spot because of it. Melina took the beating she should have and then got the sneak win. However, it’s a finish that we’ve seen often with Beth. **

This was during the ridiculous storyline in which Shawn Michaels was supposedly broke and had to be employed by JBL. He let JBL beat him to become number one contender. After the video package, JBL tells Shawn Michaels that if he wins the belt tonight, he will pay Shawn everything he owes him and that he’ll be done with him. He’ll also give him a spot in the Royal Rumble. I had no clue that having money means you can play General Manager. JBL leaves and Shawn turns right into The Undertaker. He tells Shawn that sometimes, its hell trying to get to heaven. FORESHADOWING!

World Heavyweight Championship
John Cena (c) vs. John “Bradshaw” Layfield w/ Shawn Michaels

It looks so weird to see John Cena wearing Big Gold. These two had a brutal match back in 2005 that helped solidify John Cena as the guy. Surprisingly, this opens with some mat wrestling that leads to JBL going outside to tell Shawn Michaels something. Cena hits his signature bulldog for a near fall and then busts out the Throwback for another. Outside, a slight distraction by Michaels allows JBL to jump in the driver’s seat. JBL wears him down with some elbows, while we get shots of Shawn’s expressionless face. JBL knocks Cena outside and seems to want the countout but then realizes this is a title match and goes to get him. Cena rallies when he knocks JBL off the top and nails his diving Fameasser for two. JBL bounces off the ropes like he’s going for the Clothesline from Hell, but Cena is bent down in front of him and he just awkwardly runs into him. Time for the Five Knuckle Shuffle combo and Cena goes for the Attitude Adjustment but JBL blocks with a big elbow. Cena doesn’t care because he locks in the STF right in Shawn Michaels’ face. See, the Monday before, this happened during Shawn’s match with Cena and JBL pushed the ropes towards Shawn. Shawn doesn’t do it here, but Cena breaks the hold anyway. JBL hits the Clothesline from Hell but Cena kicks out at two, because he’s Cena. Like nothing happened, Cena goes for the AA but JBL again blocks and accidentally big boots the referee. Of course there’s a ref bump. Shawn enters with both men down and they slowly get to their feet. The anticipation is high and Shan chooses to drill JBK with Sweet Chin Music. Cena seems pleased and Shawn wants none of that, so he gives Cena one as well! He drags JBL’s limp body over Cena and leaves. A new official runs out and Cena kicks out. As they get up, Cena ducks a clothesline and hits the AA to wrap this up.

Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: John Cena in 15:29
It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very good either. They’ve had better performances and the MVP of this thing was Shawn Michaels. **1/4

2008 was spent building Jeff Hardy towards the WWE Championship. He was close to the title on numerous occasions and was found injured before Survivor Series. On that night, he was replaced by Edge. Edge would win the belt but lose it the following month to Jeff, who finally realized his dream. Things turned sour for him though as he and his girlfriend got run off the road and his pyro damn near killed him one night. Someone clearly has it in for Jeff.

WWE Championship
Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Edge w/ Chavo Guerrero

Before this thing starts, Vickie Guerrero changes it to a No Disqualification match. Jeff Hardy charges at Edge and pounds away on him for everything he’s supposedly done over the past few weeks. A “We Want Christian” chant breaks out as a lot of fans, myself included, hoped to find out that Christian was behind the attacks on Jeff. Jeff is first to get a weapon but eats a dropkick, which knocks it out of his hand. Jeff knocks Edge outside and then hits a diving clothesline off the apron. He goes to springboard back in but a distraction from Chavo allows Edge to kick him in the face. Edge starts to pick apart Jeff and seems to be focusing on the ribs. Jeff surprised with a sunset flip for two but Edge clotheslines back down for two. They go up top and Jeff shoves Edge to the mat. He goes for a cross body but gets dropkicked in mid-air. They’re doing a great job of conveying how Edge knows Jeff’s every move and is ready for it. Edge goes to bring a chair in but Jeff spears him off the apron. Jeff dives out onto Edge and I see the ECW table and wonder why they’re still even out there. Jeff hits a Twist of Fate onto the apron which was a cool spot. Instead of clearing off the useless ECW table, Jeff goes for the Raw table and brings out a ladder. Chavo intervenes and pays the price for it, as Jeff puts him through the table with an elbow! Back inside, Edge exposes the turnbuckle. Jeff doesn’t eat the corner though and hits Whisper in the Winds. Jeff gets a near fall with that and another with a small package. He goes up top but Edge gets away. He counters the Hardyac Arrest corner dropkick by driving Jeff’s face into the exposed buckle. Creative stuff. Edge goes in for the Spear but Jeff catches him with the Twist of Fate! He climbs to the top but Vickie comes out to stop him. He hits the Swanton Bomb anyway but Vickie pulls the referee out. Matt Hardy comes out with a chair and puts Vickie in the corner. They set up for the con-chair-to on Edge, but Matt instead strikes his brother with the chair! HEEL TURN! Edge and Vickie are shocked but Edge, ever the opportunist, crawls over and pins Jeff.

Winner and New WWE Champion: Edge in 19:22
This is what happens when two guys have worked each other for years. They have instant chemistry and the fans were treated to a damn good match. The heel turn was relatively shocking and the only thing I disagree with, was Jeff dropping the title in his first defense. ***3/4

Jim Ross says it makes him physically ill to see one brother do this to another. He must have thrown up a lot when Bret and Owen feuded in 1994. Jeff is helped to the back by officials before we go backstage to future ESPN anchor Todd Grisham. He asks Randy Orton about the ramifications of his attack on Mr. McMahon. Chris Jericho, of all people, interrupts to say that he doesn’t vilify Orton for what he did. He then also says he thinks Orton will be fired. Odd segment. Lastly, we get the “Royal Rumble by the Numbers” video. I happen to love these things.

Royal Rumble Match
Rey Mysterio draws number one, bringing up memories of his 2006 win where he won from the beginning, albeit at number two. I remember watching this with my friends live and saying that John Morrison should be one of the first two so we could see his slow motion entrance and he indeed draws number two. They have a decent little athletic back and forth during their time alone and both guys hang on to prevent elimination. The buzzer sounds and its Carlito. He spits his apple because that’s cool and adds to the athletic start here, hitting a double jump moonsault. MVP enters at four, fresh off of ending his stupid and lengthy losing streak. There’s an “MVP” chant as he snaps off a belly to belly to Rey and hits the “Ballin” elbow drop in one motion. I expected him to do a lot in this Rumble coming off of his big win over Big Show. Rey stops MVP’s run with a head scissors of sorts after surviving elimination. The Great Khali draws number five, and with his recent release, continues the trend of entrants who are no longer with the company. He’s huge so he dominates but it’s less impressive since he’s the Punjabi Playboy here. Vladimir Kozlov, two months removed from a Pay-Per-View WWE Title shot, enters at six. Kozlov dumps out Khali on his own but it looks awful. He then throws out MVP to a chorus of boos. There goes my hope of a good MVP performance. He tosses Carlito too before Triple H comes out at seven because he’s tired of Kozlov’s crap. Kozlov misses a headbutt and hits the turnbuckle, which looked hilarious. HHH then eliminates Kozlov; sending him into a comedy tag team with Santino Marella. Randy Orton draws eight, and is the first entrant to still be a consistent member of the roster in 2014. He goes toe to toe with HHH because of the family issues after attacking Vince. Morrison, trying to move up in the card, interrupts them. Rey hits him with the 619 and everyone is down. Nine arrives and the Cryme Tyme theme hits. Both JTG and Shad come out and flip a coin to see who gets the spot. JTG wins and the camera catches Shad find out that it’s a double sided coin. I remember laughing incredibly hard at this live. He does nothing of note.

Ted Dibiase draws number ten, making it nine of ten guys that aren’t with the company anymore just five years later. Triple H and Rey are still there but not active. Morrison and JTG both hang on and get into a fight while handing before Rey and Dibiase do the very same thing. Chris Jericho comes in at 11 and I didn’t expect another big star so soon. He and Triple H engage in a battle of finisher counters before Jericho joins the list of guys who have skinned the cat so far, which is now up to six of the 11. Number 12 is Mike Knox and his beard. He goes right for Mysterio and then we see Orton and Dibiase team up because they’re in Legacy. They go for JTG, which is probably some sort of hate crime. The Miz arrives at 13 and looking at him, you wouldn’t believe he’s a future WWE Champion. He works some double team stuff Morrison but misses his Awesome Clothesline. Orton goes on an RKO RAMPAGE, hitting four in a row before HHH plants him with a Pedigree and eliminates Miz and Morrison together. Finlay draws 14 as Rey nearly goes out but walks on Miz and Morrison’s backs to get back in. Nothing good happens here and we’re halfway home when Cody Rhodes comes in. Legacy is complete and they continue the hate crime on JTG before focusing on HHH. Rey tries to springboard in but is caught with a mid-air RKO! Things get serious as a gong goes off and Undertaker draws 16. The ring lines up against him and all get a piece, but JTG is the only one tossed. Goldust comes in at 17 and ends up slapping his brother. He nearly dumps him out twice and its crazy how much better Goldust looks in 2014. He eats Orton’s sixth RKO of the match I believe. Cody tosses Goldust just before the new Intercontinental Champion, CM Punk joins the fray. He takes out Cody and Ted before hitting HHH with the GTS. ACRONYMS! Number 19 is Mark Henry and SOMEBODY BOUT TO GET THEY WIG SPLIT! Why is Mike Knox still in this thing?

The United States Champion, Shelton Benjamin, comes in at twenty. There are currently twelve guys in the ring and Shelton leaps to the top to take out Punk and Jericho with a super double Paydirt. Cody, Goldust, Ted, Shelton and Henry have all worn black and gold tonight. Punk skins the cat as 21, William Regal, enters. He goes right for Punk, who just took the IC Title from him. The camera missed Mark Henry getting eliminated somehow and even commentary is lost. 22 is Kofi Kingston, and he’s still Jamaican here. Mysterio has been in for 33 minutes at this point. Shelton tries to splash Undertaker but is slammed to the mat and eliminated. Kane enters at 23, so hopefully it’s time to clear out some of the ring. He has a faceoff with his brother, who is bleeding, and they double Chokeslam Ted Dibiase. Punk pulls Regal over the top and out before R-Truth joins the match. He hits his spinning forearm on HHH, who has pretty much eaten every signature move. The crowd pops hard for Rob Van Dam at 25, who is making a surprise appearance. He nails everyone with kicks and stuff. The Brian Kendrick is 26 and dammit if I didn’t absolutely love this character. He instantly eliminates Kofi but gets tossed by HHH in less than a minute. The most successful number in Rumble history, 27 goes to Dolph Ziggler who has awful music. He is doing his “I’M DOLPH ZIGGLER” shtick and gets tossed by Kane after introducing himself. So there goes that. Crazy to think how those two just main evented Smackdown like a week ago. Santino Marella is 28 and gets clotheslined out in one second setting the record for quickest elimination ever. This made perfect sense as the “Rumble by the Numbers” thing brought up Warlord’s two second record and Santino was purely a comedy character. However, in a Rumble where everyone has lasted long, the last three guys have survived a combined minute or so. 29 is another surprise as Jim Duggan comes in. He is the first Rumble winner but is in DIRE need of a shirt. Unfortunately, he outlasts the three previous entrants. The final participant is the Big Show.

The previous two years, number thirty has won but Show goes face to face with The Undertaker. Kane, sticking up for his brother, chops Show. Duggan must be on drugs as he tries to slam Show. It fails and he is gone. Knox and Finlay are still in here but Show eliminates R-Truth, so he’s cleaning it up some. It’s like everyone is hanging on as Punk literally does it three straight times until Show knocks him out. Show takes out trash by dumping Knox and Rey. Hornswoggle comes in to attack Kane but when he defends himself, Finlay gets mad. Kane gets rid of him. Orton gets in his signature DDT as Show and Taker square off again. RVD hits the Five Star and Jericho eliminates him but turns right around into the Undertaker. The Deadman survives a Codebreaker and rids the ring of the MVP of the second half of 2008. As Kane struggles to get Orton over, the rest of Legacy turns the tables on him and Kane is gone. Legacy is left with Triple H, Big Show and Undertaker. Show, like a moron, assaults HHH so Legacy jumps Undertaker. He takes all three of them out and gets into a slugfest with Show. He big boots Show over but Show actually somehow hangs on like a lightweight! He brings Taker onto the apron with him and they choke each other before both getting knocked outside and continuing their fight. HHH is left alone with Legacy, who jump him. HHH rallies and thinks he eliminated Orton before actually tossing Dibiase and Rhodes. Orton sneaks up and gets rid of HHH to end this thing.

Winner: Randy Orton in 58:37
Solid Royal Rumble but nothing special. Too many people survived for too long, leaving this to drag after number 30 arrived. Also, the outcome was never really in doubt. ***

Overall: 7/10; Good. This was a good show. The opener was a very well done match from a psychological standpoint and the WWE Championship match was the best of the night. The Divas match was decent but the World Title match was boring. The Rumble itself was only alright and could’ve been better. In the end, it was an enjoyable three hours. Next up on “Random Network Reviews” looks like it’s going to be Backlash 1999!