The Anderson Breakdown: Royal Rumble 2006 Instant Thoughts

Although my interest in the WWE tends to fluctuate these days, their big three PPV’s (Mania, Summerslam, and the Rumble) will always be the highlights of my wrestling calendar. Of the three, I’ve always had a particular soft spot for the Royal Rumble. In a company where every conceivable angle, wrestler, and match has been beaten into the ground and overexposed exponentially, the Rumble match itself is the only WWE matchup that still feels fun and fresh on a yearly basis. Usually the entire PPV is built around the Rumble, with some interesting lower card matches thrown in for fun as well. More often than not, the Rumble ends up being either the first or second most memorable PPV of the year.

It’s a damn shame that after a year of anticipation, this year’s Royal Rumble PPV turned out to be perhaps the worst Rumble in company history. Absolutely everything about it, from the pacing to the finishes, was just absolutely dreadful. I’m normally not overly negative, and the last thing in the world I am is a bitter net dweeb, but there’s just absolutely no getting around the fact that this PPV was just awful. Take away Rey’s win, and it might even rank among the worst WWE pay-per-views of all time.

Kid Kash vs. Nunzio vs. Funaki vs. Kendrick vs. Helms vs. London

What can really be said about this match? Sure, it was fun to see six great workers flop around for 7:00 minutes, but at the end of the day, what does it really mean? Nothing. Without any kind of a significant push, it’s hard to get too emotionally involved in nonsense like this. Without any emotional involvement, you’ve basically just got five wrestlers and a certified homophobe rolling around the ring. It was a decent little match, don’t get me wrong, but even if it was a five-star classic, no one would have cared because these guys just aren’t given any kind of regular spotlight.

Mickie James vs. Ashley

As anyone who’s bored enough to keep tabs on my wrestling opinions and year-end voting knows, I’ve been a huge fan of the Trish/Mickie stuff for the last few months. I think the writers have done a great job letting the feud develop slowly over time. If more angles were booked like this in the WWE, things might actually be a bit more bearable. Regardless of any of this though, Ashley still has very little business being placed in such a high profile match. Let’s face it, this poor girl has almost no training whatsoever compared to everyone else in the company. It just doesn’t make any sense to throw her to the wolves a couple of months in and expect her to be able to put on a Royal Rumble quality match. I almost feel bad for the girl. The crowd turned on this one big time, and I can’t say I blame them. Overall, just an atrocity of a match.

JBL vs. The Boogeyman

Much like the rest of the internet scene, I find the Boogeyman’s character to be highly amusing. His interaction with Jillian Hall in particular has just been so off-the-wall that it’s impossible not to laugh. It’s just a damn shame that the WWE is a wrestling company, not a variety show. The WWE is treading dangerous waters with the Boogeyman these days. He’s getting so popular with the fans that he almost has to be pushed. The only problem is, the guy just cannot wrestle. At all. He’s already coming dangerously close to being exposed as such. I’ve really liked JBL over the last two years, and on a roster as weak as Smackdown’s has become, I don’t think it’s the brightest idea to be jobbing him out to a cartoon character. What now for the Boogeyman? Logically, he has to continue moving up the card. But as you move up the card, you’re expected to work longer, better matches. Thus lies the Boogeyman conundrum. As entertaining as he is, the character’s already on borrowed time. Anyway, the match itself was no worse than anyone expected, but the act is going to wear pretty old pretty quickly if his push continues.

Vince Segment

Ahhh, it just wouldn’t be a WWE PPV without Vince doing a little good old fashioned “Vince booking for Vince” routine. I’d love to be in these production meetings were Vince just stands up and says, “Next, we’re going to get all of our women under contract together and have them crawl all over me. It’s what the fans want to see. Maybe I’ll even tongue a few.” Seriously, everybody knows that Vince McMahon is a married man. Everybody knows that Linda is a very sweet woman. They might be “divorced” in storyline terms, but when you’ve got McMahon family pictures, corporate conference calls, and countless other “real-life” references right there on WWE.com, even the markiest of marks is going to know of McMahon’s true marital status. It’s just not right, nor is it entertaining, to see this unbearable, sleazy, completely unbelievable nonsense on nearly every WWE broadcast these days. I’m sure Vince loves it, but he needs to realize, he’s the only one.

Royal Rumble Match

This is where I really start to have a major, major problem with tonight’s broadcast. Why in the WORLD, especially when you take the outcome into consideration, would you place the Rumble match halfway through the card. This decision was just idiotic beyond words. Pushing aside all bullshit about “keeping the titles strong,” which they aren’t, the PPV itself is NAMED after the Rumble match. It’s the main draw. Everything else on the card is secondary. Everyone ordering the event knows that. It’s what we all want to see. It just does nothing but downplay and devalue the sole gimmick match that still works in the company to have it throw carelessly into the mid-card.

I watched this PPV from a Sports Bar in Jacksonville, Florida, and the second people realized that the Rumble was going to be starting about 55 minutes into the broadcast, audible groans could be heard from the entire place. It made us feel ahead of time that the Rumble match was probably going to be a letdown, and even if it wasn’t, it just wouldn’t have the same psychological effect due to its poor placement on the card.

I don’t have the time or energy to dissect the actual match in much detail, but aside from the ending, it was definitely one of the more forgettable Rumbles in recent history. Last year’s was just loaded with unique twists and fun spots. We didn’t get any of that this year. Instead, we got Tatanka and Goldust.

Talk about lazy “surprises.”

Tatanka looked to be trying really hard in there, but unfortunately for him, he missed the bus by about a decade. Even after losing 30 pounds, he still looked to be carrying the entire Lumpy Indian tribe in his gut. His foolish “war cries” made the Rumble feel more like a bizarre parody than a contemporary matchup.

Guys like Booker T and Ric Flair were in and out entirely too quickly.

Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon continue to waste valuable television time setting up a feud that absolutely no one wants to see. This of course doesn’t even take into account the fact that no one buys the fact that the two have any heat with each other to begin with. Vince makes a habit of rehashing the goofy Montreal nonsense on a bi-weekly basis, yet expects us to just magically forget that him and Michaels were best of friends back then. The whole angle just doesn’t make an ounce of sense, and even if it did, again, no one has any interest in seeing it.

Rob Van Dam, the one guy I was looking forward to seeing more than anyone in the match, just looked absolutely awful out there tonight. Yes, some of it was just ring-rust, but the guy literally looks like he’s aged ten years since his last appearance. His offense was awful, and he honestly missed nearly everything he went for. I love RVD, but he couldn’t even get off the ground with some of his kicks. It was pretty sad to see actually.

Triple H was awesome in the Rumble match, and most of the scant good spots involved him (Show/Kane elimination, Chavo, etc..), but its tough to enjoy the guy’s work when it’s so blatantly obvious that he’s out there trying incessantly to duplicate Flair. It’s just not fun to see a grown man (married to the boss’s daughter) out there calling every shot in desperate hopes of being the “new Ric Flair.” It’s just weird to see.

Rey Mysterio’s big win was fun, and I’m genuinely glad he won the match, but the Rumble match itself was just placed so poorly on the card, and so cliché’ and average throughout, that it just didn’t feel nearly as big as it should have. If they would have just headlined the damn PPV with the battle royal instead of Angle/Henry, I think people might actually have a slightly better impression of this PPV. Even if they hated the card regardless, at least they’d still walk away with Rey’s win fresh on their mind. As it stands now, it almost seemed like an afterthough.

Edge vs. John Cena

Well, I guess this match proves that if nothing else, at least the WWE is self-destructively stubborn. Even though the fans had completely turned on Cena, and even though Edge’s run with the title had produced some of the best ratings in recent WWE history, the company was just so damn excited about John Cena vs. Triple H at Wrestlemania that they took the title off Edge three weeks after he won it. Whether it was the “plan all along” or not, it just doesn’t make an ounce of sense. Cena’s merchandise will sell whether or not he has the title. There was just no reason to put it back on him this early in the game, but alas, here we stand, with John Cena once again wearing the goofy spinner belt. AWESOME!!!!! Equally awesome is the fact that a seriuos post-match angle is scrapped in favor of a five-second nostalgia pun (Duggan).

Kurt Angle vs. Mark Henry

I’m tired of typing negative things about the Royal Rumble. But seriously, on what bizarro planet does Angle/Henry in the main event slot actually make sense? I guess on the same bizarre planet where the Undertaker is the future of the company and really needs the big push!!!

I haven’t read a single net review of the Royal Rumble yet, but I can guess, in full confidence, that many others will agree that Angle/Henry was among the worst main events in WWE PPV history. We’re talking Mable/Diesel bad here. It’s weird too, because both men are more than capable of putting on a better match than this. It was an 8 minute match paced like it was on course to go 90 minutes. It was just awful, and I’m shocked the Miami crowd stuck around for as long as they did.

And if you want a microcosm for every single thing that’s been wrong with the WWE for years, take a look at the ending of this PPV. The Undertaker, a guy who’s ten years past his prime and fresh off the complete burial of one of the few guys who’s supposed to carry the company into the future, decides that his idiotic Black Scorpion bullshit is more important than Rey Mysterio’s win the Royal Rumble. Instead of closing the show out with the sympathetic, heroic babyface winning the Royal Rumble in honor of his deceased friend, we get The Undertaker using the same stupid special effects at the Rumble TWELVE YEARS AGO and closing out the show by goofily pantomiming that “Gosh, I sure want that title.”

Just one of the stupidest, most-insulting endings imaginable. It’s sad that fan enjoyment and customer satisfaction can take such a massive backseat to internal politics on such a major PPV. A gigantic thumbs down to the WWE for ending the PPV on this manor, and the Undertaker should really be ashamed of himself for not stepping aside and letting someone else have their moment in the spotlight.

Just ridiculous on every level.

Overall:

A lackluster show who’s only high spot was completely overshadowed by an immobile old man who would rather hurt the business than sacrifice his ego. Beautiful.

– Ken

KenAnderson242@aol.com