The Way Too Long Review of the 2008 Royal Rumble

So this is the final Royal Rumble show I need to review to have done them all.  Like any series of pay-per-views, there have been some hits and some misses.  The Royal Rumble, in my opinion, has been more hit then miss.

Thumbs Up: ’88, ’89, ’90, ’95, ’96, ’00, ’01, ’02, ’04, ’07

Thumbs Down: ’91, ’92, ’93, ’94, ’97, ’98, ’99, ’03, ’05, ’06, ’09

Thus, the score going into this is ten good shows, eleven bad ones.  I don’t remember this being a particularly good year, but my memory on show quality has failed before.  Let’s get to it.

January 20, 2008 from Madison Square Garden.  Bullshit, I’ve been there.  The building is more oval shaped then square, and I didn’t see any flowers there either.

Match #1
Ric Flair vs. MVP
Special Stipulation: If Ric Flair loses, he must retire.

I liked the whole Ric Flair retirement run stuff, but they could have found him better quality opponents.  Flair grabs the stick and says that he had his first match in the Garden in 1976, over five years before I was born.  MVP cuts off his speech and gets NO reaction.  He’s the United States Champion here but his title isn’t on the line.  Headlock, shoot-off, and MVP gets a shoulderblock.  Lockup goes to the corner but nothing comes of it and MVP shoots an airball.  Lockup and Flair ties up MVP’s arm and takes him to the corner.  Bitch-slap by MVP is followed by some chops from Flair.  Shoulderblock by Flair is turned into a drop toe-hold by MVP.  Running big boot and a neckbreaker by MVP for two.  Mounted punches gets two.  Flair chops some more but eats a snapmare into horrible looking half-nelson/chinlock.  MSG fans somehow get an “M-V-P-SUCKS” chant going despite the fact that such a chant can’t possibly be harmonious.  Shoot to the corner but Flair gets an elbow up and sets up the figure-four.  MVP sweeps out of it, so Flair fires off a few more chops.  Weak atomic drop by Flair and he goes for the figure-four again, but MVP turns it into a small package for two.  Kicks in the corner by MVP and a shoot to the opposite corner, followed by a backdrop.  Huge running big boot to the corner gets… three?  Actually, Flair got a foot on the rope.  MVP is pissed by that and Flair rolls him up for two.  Clothesline by MVP and mounted punches gets two.  Butterfly suplex gets two.  MVP preps Flair on the top rope and hits a superplex for two.  Bitch-slapping from Flair, then MVP loads up Flair on his shoulders.  Flair wiggles out, but botches landing on his feet.  Fans forgive him and don’t hate-hoo it, so Flair fires off some chops and we get a double clothesline for a double KO.  Chop from Flair and a small package for two.  Backslide for two.  Flair chops away, and then MVP gets a chop to Flair’s throat and a facebuster.  MVP loads up the Playmaker, but Flair turns it into the figure-four and MVP taps.  Flair tearfully bids farewell to the MSG crowd.
***1/2 Surprise, this was a pretty good match.  Despite the announcer’s oversell of the situation, nobody bought that Flair was in danger for one second.  In fact, the crowd was undeservingly cold throughout.  Easily the best match of MVP’s career, including his series with Chris Benoit.  This show is already better then I remember it.

-Meanwhile, Vince McMahon chats with his son Mr. Kennedy Hornswaggle about how he’s going to win the Royal Rumble.  Finlay shows up, and it’s up to him to make sure Horny doesn’t get killed out there.

-Meanwhile, Mike Adamle makes his WWE debut.  Adamle was beyond terrible, of course.  But I don’t blame him.  Vince McMahon, for whatever reason, has never been satisfied to get ‘wrestling guys’ doing commentary.  Adamle was to be the heir to Jim Ross’ throne, but his original pick was UFC announcer Mike Goldberg.  And of course you get guys like Jonathan Coachman and Michael Cole.  Now, both those guys did fine in the long run, but they weren’t fans growing up and had no previous experience in the business.  I would personally consider the three best WWE announcers ever to be Jim Ross, Gorilla Monsoon, and Vince McMahon himself.  As you might have noticed, all three were ‘wrestling guys.’  Todd Grisham did well with Matt Striker, but has no chemistry with Jim Ross.  Joey Mathews is decent.  Matt Striker is good enough that he should be used as the lead play-by-play guy for whatever show he’s assigned to, and the WWE would be fools to not get him under a long-term contract.  I was a big Jim Ross fan (he’s kind of dickhead anymore) but his time is coming to an end and they need a next-generation of announcers.  The same goes for Jerry Lawler and maybe even Michael Cole.  I know McMahon considers it somehow beneath the company to hire broadcasters who happen to be fans of the product to begin with for the spot, but he has to look at the track record.  Fans and wrestlers tend to do better then people who likely wouldn’t watch the product to begin with if they weren’t being paid to do it.

Match #2
John “Bradshaw” Layfield vs. Chris Jericho

This was during Jericho’s disastrous babyface run following his return to the WWE.  As a bit of a confession, I was not a big fan of Chris Jericho from 1999 to 2008.  Although he had moments of greatness, I felt that his babyface runs were nothing more then a speak-and-say catchphrase machine, punctuated by some mediocre, spot-blowing matches.  Especially when he was wearing lifts.  I seriously thought he was going to end up breaking his neck, and he came close during Summerslam 2001 against Rhyno when he blew a pair of high-risk moves in a row and nearly died in the process.  His heel runs were very tame, very generic, and he didn’t have the killer-instinct to be an effective heel the way the WWE was using him as.  Then he left ‘before he got stale’ (too late), goes away for a year and a half, writes a pretty good book, then he returns… and is the same catchphrase spewing twit he was before.  Only this time he looked like a total flamer.

And then he turns heel and feuds with Shawn Michaels.  The angle was actually pitched to the creative team by Steve Austin, who had the balls to say that Jericho was shitty in the role they had stuck him in.  It was like a miracle, because for the first time in Chris Jericho’s career, he wrestled like the type of heel the WWE needed him to be.  The matches all rocked and he earned himself a couple short World Title reigns.  And for the first time since he was the master of the loopholes in WCW, I could say that I was a Chris Jericho fan.  I hope the WWE doesn’t end up switching him back to the hero role, because he’s not suited for it.

By the by, this feud was over JBL calling Chris Jericho a bad father.  Which is a step up from spilling coffee on Kane, but still pretty uninspired.  Lockup and they both go to the corner, where they break clean.  Another lockup and we go to another corner for another clean break.  Jericho shows a little rage and slugs it out with some stiff shots, so JBL fires back with a fairly stiff forearm.  Mounted punches by Jericho, but JBL pushes him out of the ring.  Jericho comes back in and mounts some more punches.  Kick to the gut and some more punching, then Jericho ducks a short-arm clothesline and slaps on the Walls, but JBL immediately grabs the bottom rope.  Bradshaw bails, but sticks around the ringside area like a douche and gets hit with a baseball slide.  Jericho loads up a suplex on the floor, but JBL blocks it.  Jericho decides to ram him into the apron instead, and then throws him into the stairs.  Back in, Jericho charges at Bradshaw only to get launched into the ropes in a nasty spot.  I cringe for pretty much any hotshot spot.  Short-arm clothesline by JBL, then another.  Bradshaw catapults Jericho’s throat into the ropes, then chokes away.  Smacking in the corner by JBL, then a whip and a chinlock.  Jericho escapes, ducks a big boot and hits a stiff clothesline that hits pretty high.  Jericho tries to follow that up with some punches but charges into a big boot.  JBL picks up Jericho and tosses him between the ropes and into the ring post, busting him open.  JBL smells blood and pounces, punching away at the wound.  Stompery by JBL, then back into the ring for some stomping in the corner, targeting the cut.  Jericho actually has a good blade job going, but he fights back and hits a clothesline and some stiff shots.  We get a bit of editing by the WWE to cut out a botched spot, but they didn’t censor the crowd and we can hear the hate-hooing and “YOU FUCKED UP” chant for whatever it was.  Baseball slide to JBL’s face, then the Lionsault, then a 360 clothesline to send both guys to the floor.  They brawl on the outside, where Bradshaw rams Jericho onto the announce table.  He preps it for impact, but Jericho absolutely BLASTS him in the head with a chair, which JBL took unprotected, and that draws a DQ.  Jericho tosses him back into the ring, throws a chair in his face, then mounts some punches.  Jericho is not satisfied yet, so he grabs a power cord and hangs JBL with it.  A sign of things to come with Jericho, as this might be the first time he ever really seemed realistic in his killer instinct mode.
***1/2 Possible can of worms for this one, but since I’m reviewing the DVD and not the broadcast, I’m going to score based on the match that was presented here.  What was here was a very basic, but bloody and satisfying brawl.  I actually wish they were given a bit more time to build it up, and had varied up the offense a bit more.  And I seriously didn’t remember this show being this good so far.

-Meanwhile, Ashley runs into Santino.  Ashley wants to talk to Maria, but she’s getting ready for her first “HD Kiss Cam.”  Sadly, this DVD does not run in widescreen (or high definition as the WWE calls it).  Santino tells her that nobody is interested in her appearance in ‘a booby magazine’ and that he wishes he could vote her out just like she got on Survivor.  Yep, she was a disaster on that show.  I’m sure the WWE was embarrassed.

Match #3: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) Edge vs. Rey Mysterio

Edge, evil fucker that he is, brings the Edgeheads and Vickie Guerrero out to beat a guy half his size.  Mysterio wears a spiked Spartan helmet to the ring.  He should have fired off a quick headbutt with it on.  Smart-assed MSG fans hate Mysterio and love Edge.  The booing would actually carry over to television, but Mysterio’s injury prevented him from wrestling in a tag match with Floyd Mayweather at Wrestlemania and possibly saved him from turning heel in the process.  I actually wouldn’t mind seeing them try a heel run with Mysterio.  Granted, he’s small and thus it would be hard for him to heat-up his opponents, but who knows?  It’s worth trying at least once.  Edge shoves Mysterio to start.  Lockup and Edge grabs a wristlock.  Mysterio fights back and gets booed out of the building, even when he fires off a headscissors.  Edge gets a shoulderblock, but Rey gets a drop toe-hold and a dropkick for two.  Takedown gets one and Edge bails to the ropes.  Slug-off and Edge shoots off Mysterio, then shuffleboards him out of the ring.  Mysterio lands on his feet, so Edge baseball slides him.  Edge tries to distract the referee so Hawkins and Ryder can beat on Mysterio, but they get caught and ejected.  Huge heat on the referee for that one.  Mysterio sets up for the 619 but Edge moves out of the way.  Plancha by Mysterio and Jesus Christ the fans are just giving him holy hell on everything.  Seated-senton gets two.  Mysterio charges and gets flung onto the second rope.  He sticks the landing but Edge has a clear shot and kicks Mysterio’s knee, causing him to collapse off the ropes and tumble out of the ring.  Back in, Edge stalks him around and kicks away at the knee.  Stompery by Edge and a half-crab.  Mysterio turns around and kicks off of it, then hits an enziguri.  Edge is set up now for the 619, or is he?  Edge is playing possum and gets a powerslam for two.  Edge tries to get a muffler-lock, but Mysterio wiggles out that.  Edge still gets a half-crab, but again Mysterio fights out of it.  Pretty weird sequence where both guys seem to be at a loss for what to do next.  This leads to Mysterio hitting his seated-bulldog for two.  Mysterio chops away and shoots off Edge, then counters a sunset flip with a buzzsaw kick.  Edge shoots Rey to the corner but Rey turns it into a sunset-senton for two.  Rey climbs, gets caught by Edge, but he fights him off and hits a double stomp off the top for two.  Mysterio hits a rana that sends Edge through the ropes and to the floor.  Mysterio goes for a baseball slide and, in a spot that looks like an offense maneuver for Edge, Rey hits a DDT on the floor so weak that it looked like Edge had hit a sideslam on him.  Back in, that gets two.  Mysterio charges into a boot to the face.  Edge sets up for the spear, but Rey turns it into a rana.  619 and the splash, but Vickie Guerrero gets out of her wheelchair to stop the count at two.  Mysterio sets up for another 619, so Vickie climbs the ropes to act as a human-shield for Edge.  Mysterio gets distracted for a second, and then goes for the dime-drop.  Edge spears him clean out of the air and covers for the pin.
**** Wow, this show is WAY better then I remember it.  Pretty good match that was made more entertaining by the pricks in New York City.  Nice pacing, good booking, pretty decent ending.  In a way it’s too bad that the fans were such smart-asses, because this was a good example of how overbooking a heel can be a good thing.

-Meanwhile, Mr. Kennedy gives Flair a round of applause.  Kennedy’s threat to win the Rumble and retire Ric Flair is interrupted by Shawn Michaels.  Shawn gets in a pretty good line: “Can you believe that?  A loud mouth, obnoxious, trash-talking, platinum blond hair with a catchphrase?  These kids today.  That gimmick will never work.”  Then Batista shows up and he gets hate-hooing.  Then Triple H shows up and the fans pop for him.  All the super-buddies have a moment.  Triple H and Batista talk about the best man winning.  Shawn says the best man will win… and he’ll be without a doubt wearing the new HBK t-shirt that is for sale at WWEshop.com.

-It’s time for the Maria kiss-cam.  Various couples in the crowd kiss, with some girl getting more heel heat then MVP did by not smooching her boyfriend.  BUT WAIT~!! because here comes Ashley.  She offers Maria a spot in the next Playboy, BUT WAIT~!! because Santino is out to object.  And he’s got a mystery person with him.  Santino cheapshots the local sports teams, and then says that the only thing they have going for them is a football team from New Jersey that is *so* going to choke in the Superbowl.  I would like to think that deep down Santino’s speech is what inspired the Giants to beat the Patriots.  Ashley and Maria poll the crowd on if they want to see her pose for Playboy.  Crowd says yes.  Santino says the crowd is made up of sheep and if they were asked if they wanted Hepatitis, they would all cheer as well.  And they do.  Thankfully Bob Orton wasn’t around or else they would have got their wish.  Santino brings the mystery person into the ring, and of course it’s Big Dick Johnson.  Ashley beats him down.

Match #4: WWE Championship
(c) Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy

Jeff is the IC champion here but his title is not on the line.  Fans are split as Orton and Hardy lockup and circle around the ring.  Clean break, then Orton shoots off Jeff and eats a shoulderblock.  Headlock-takeover by Jeff gets two.  Orton turns the headlock into a headscissors.  Jeff struggles out of it and hits the triple-combo for two.  Orton brawls Hardy to the corner and jaws with the crowd.  Orton lowers his head into a kick, and then Jeff dumps him to the floor.  Baseball slide sends Orton into the guardrail and HOLY POOPIE did Orton take that bump like a man.  Orton sells it like he’s brain-damaged.  Huge pop for that, then Jeff hits a plancha.  Jeff gets in the ring and Jim Ross starts to have an aneurism over Orton being out of the ring which might cause Hardy to win via count-out.  Orton tries to grab the belt and bail on the match, but Jeff catches him and slams his head into the table.  Jeff tosses Orton back in and goes for a dropkick over the ropes but Orton gets his dropkick in first and Hardy tumbles to the floor in an awesome spot.  Orton bails to suplex Hardy on the floor.  He tosses Jeff in and covers for two.  Stompery by Randy and he starts to get arrogant and showboats.  Garvin Stomp by Orton, then a blatant choke.  You know, I didn’t think the Garvin Stomp would work for anyone in this day and age, but for some reason it works great with Randy, and that’s not sarcasm.  It’s a vicious move and it fits him to a tee.  I wish some other guys would add those long-lost old school moves to their arsenals.  Orton drops a pair of knees and covers for two.  Jeff fights back and dumps Orton through the ropes in a spot that seemed like it wasn’t totally thought out.  Assuming these guys did draw a blank, it’s not a bad way to cover it.  Hardy hits a flying forearm off the apron, and he looks good doing it.  He rolls Orton in and covers for two.  Jeff sends Orton to the corner but misses a charge and eats the post.  That spot didn’t look so hot, as Orton seemed to have moved out of the way a bit too soon.  Orton covers for two, and then throws a grapevine on Jeff.  Hardy fights out only to charge into a powerslam for two.  Now Orton slaps on a chinlock.  Hardy escapes and this time counters a reversal from Orton by hitting a diving neckbreaker and we have a double KO.  Both guys are up quickly and Hardy is hulking up.  Clotheslines and a back-elbow, then he takes Orton to the corner.  Whisper in the Wind hits for Hardy but it only gets two.  Momentum kick in the corner by Hardy and he climbs for the Swanton, but Orton bails to the apron.  He should have gone someplace else because Jeff hits a missile dropkick that sends Orton back to the floor.  Hardy climbs and hits a diving moonsault off the top and to the floor.  Orton nearly missed catching Hardy coming down.  That could have been a disaster.  Both guys are hurt on the floor, but Jeff recovers first and rolls Randy in the ring.  Twist of Fate is immediately turned into the RKO from Randy and that scores the pin.  Ending was lightning quick and out of nowhere and people bitched about it at the time.  You know what?  The point of the RKO is that it can come out nowhere.
****1/4 Another can of worms to crack open, but what can I say?  These guys kept up a really good pace and showed very good chemistry together.  Great bumps, good selling, they kept the resting to a minimum, and had good timing.  It’s sad the feud couldn’t continue.  I liked the ending too.  This was supposed to be Jeff’s first kick-at-the-can as a main eventer, so having him get caught with the RKO out of nowhere was supposed to represent the first part in Hardy’s learning curve towards the main event.  Remember, if Jeff doesn’t get busted for drugs right before Wrestlemania, he wins Money in the Bank at Wrestlemania and goes on to have a really spectacular 2008.  This was to be the first chapter in that, and if you go by that logic, this was the perfect way to start it.  I think the only reason people didn’t like it at the time is because they thought Hardy was going over and winning the title.

-Michael Buffer is out to announce the rules for the Royal Rumble.  Was it really worth paying him whatever he costs just to hear his catchphrase?

Match #5: Royal Rumble Match

I remember practically nothing about this, other then being floored by the #30 entry.  Rumble matches, like the pay-per-views themselves, are hit and miss.  Prior to reviewing this, here’s how I think the top five Rumbles would stand.

1: 2004 (*****)
2: 2001 (****3/4)
3. 1992 (****1/2)
4. 2000 (****1/2)
5. 1996 (****)

And I have several others rated four stars.  On the flip side of things, the really bad rumbles are (with one here being the worst)

1. 1999 (DUD)
2. 1994 (*)
3. 1998 (*)
4. 1993 (*)
5. 2009 (*1/4)

While a decent Rumble can be entertaining, as you can see the truly great ones are very rare.  Bad rumbles are more common and there are few things more painful to watch then sixty minutes of random brawling with no structure.  Basically I’m saying this… please don’t suck Mr. 2008 Rumble Match, sir.

#1 is the Undertaker.  There’s someone I never figured to see enter first.  #2 is Shawn Michaels.  What are the odds?  Shawn avoids a punch and brawls Taker in the corner.  He gets whipped up and down the corner, then slung into the corner and smacked around.  Shawn gets placed on the top rope, but then Undertaker misses a running big boot.  Shawn nearly gets eliminated trying to avoid it, and then Undertaker almost gets dumped by him.  Shoot-off and Shawn eats a big boot.  #3 is Santino Marella.  He’s like “well, I’m screwed” and only manages to get a muscle pose in before Shawn superkicks him.  Taker dumps Santino, then Shawn quickly pounces and tries to eliminate him.  Taker grabs a wristlock and decides to go for the rope walk, which seems like a bad idea, but Shawn slings him off the top.  Chops from Shawn and an atomic drop, then a shoot-off and the flying forearm.  #4 is the Great Khali, who has to duck the entrance way.  Taker knocks down Shawn, and then tries to attack Khali as he gets in the ring.  Fans give Khali a “You can’t wrestle” chant.  Taker slugs it out but runs into a chokehold.  Taker grabs one of his own, then Khali misses his brain chop and Taker pushes him out.  Shawn again tries to dump Taker as he does an elimination, and Taker tries to turn it into the wedgie bomb.  #5 is Hardcore Holly as Shawn nearly ranas Taker out of the ring.  Holly stomps Shawn down, then gets destroyed by Taker.  Shoot-off and a big boot to him, then again Shawn tries to backdoor Taker.  Undertaker is ready this time and nearly dumps Shawn out with a fireman’s carry.  Holly saves because he’s a tard barge, and he chops Shawn in the corner.  #6 is John Morrison.  Punches for all, then he tries to punch Taker and thinks better of it.  Shawn kicks Morrison down and casually tosses him over the top, but John saves.  Scoopslam by Shawn and the flying elbow, then Shawn tunes up the band.  Morrison counters and hits a spinkick.  #7 is Tommy Dreamer as Taker nearly dumps Holly.  Tommy has punches for all, and then runs into a big boot.  Tommy gets a big chant from the crowd.  Morrison hangs up Shawn on the ropes, and then smacks Holly.  Random brawling and the production seems to get that as well, so we quickly jump to the next entry.  #8 is Batista.  Spinebuster for Dreamer, then clotheslines for all and a backdrop for Morrison.  Taker and Batista have a stare-down, but Dreamer interferes with it and goes for a DDT on Batista.  It doesn’t work and he gets eliminated.  Spear for Morrison, then Taker stomps him down in the corner.  Shawn tries to dump Holly.  #9 is Hornswaggle.  The action in the ring stops like Andre the Giant has shown up or something.  Horny gets scared and crawls under the ring.  Holly chops Morrison’s nipple clean off and suplexes him.  He then backdrops Shawn and nearly dumps him with a clothesline, but Shawn saves with one hand.  #10 is Chuck Palumbo, who had just turned heel.  I totally forgot that he had come back around this time.  Morrison nearly gets dumped by Taker, who then goes after Palumbo.  Morrison grabs a headscissors on Shawn in the corner.

#11 is Jamie Noble.  Entrees seem to be going by faster then advertised.  I’m cool with that.  I mean, if they’re not going to do anything of note in the ring, might as well get more guys in there.  That said, the best Rumbles are the ones where they keep the dead weight at a minimum.  Noble and Palumbo had a tiff going at the time, so Noble goes nuts on him.  The fans are hot for Noble and chant for him, so Palumbo kicks him out of the match in about fifteen seconds.  Go figure.  A whole lot of nothing going on him the ring, the fans get potentially hot for something, and thus it’s killed in record time.  Bonus points because Noble gets legitimately injured in the process.  Injured fifteen seconds into the match?  Pssssh… TAKA Michinoku blew out his face during the Rumble and he wasn’t even IN the match.  Oh, and Vince McMahon blew out his knees and he wasn’t in the match either.  Noble, you have a LONG way to go before you can set a Rumble record.  Taker goes back to brawling with Palumbo while Batista and Holly go at it.  #12 is CM Punk.  Flying knees in the corner for all.  Never thought I would type that.  Bulldog attempt to Michaels is met by a clothesline from Undertaker.  Vicious one too, and Punk is knocked goofy by this and ends up unintentionally no-selling it.  He goes after Shawn, and then Palumbo lifts Punk up on his shoulders.  Punk ends up getting Palumbo on the apron, and then eliminates him with a kneelift.  Punk then nearly dumps Morrison as well.  #13 is Cody Rhodes, who is a tag champion with Hardcore Holly.  Just think, at this point the following year he would be in the final four.  Who’d of thunk?  He goes after Punk and nearly dumps him, but Morrison saves like a twit.  I hate it when the Rumble match is wrestled like a Battle Royal and uses Battle Royal Logic.

Battle Royal Logic is an off-shoot of my “Wrestling Logic” sarcastic bit.  It makes no goddamn sense for someone to save someone else in a Battle Royal, period.  BUT, it makes even less sense for someone (in this case Morrison) to save someone who was just trying to eliminate him (in this case Punk).  It’s a lazy way to fill time while you wait for your elimination cues.  The old guys like Verne Gagne and Ole Anderson got this stuff right: if you’re going to use Battle Royal logic, at least have it be babyfaces saving babyfaces and heels saving heels.  When stuff like the Punk/Morrison thing I just recapped happens, it screams ‘lazy’ to the viewers and it goes over the heads of the true-believing marks who tend to pony up the most money as it relates to wrestling.  It would take little effort to make this small adjustment to the Royal Rumble structure.  Hell, the whole thing could be addressed in less then a minute in a meeting before the show.  “Heels, do not save babyfaces.  Babyfaces, do not save heels.”  And the overall structure of the Rumble would instantly look a lot less lazy.  I get that these guys wing 95% of what they do in the ring during these matches, but at least play the role you’re in and don’t become a colorless character out there.

Back to the show, where Cody makes a save for Holly, then goes after Undertaker.  This would be an interesting thing to watch play out in full, so of course we cut to a shot of Punk doing nothing with Morrison.  We cut back in time to see Rhodes slug it out, and then we cut to a shot of Undertaker’s back where again we can’t see Rhodes trying to stand his ground.  Fucking awful.  Rhodes finally manages to take down Taker with a dropkick.  Cody goes back to Morrison, but Taker never forgives and smacks him down.  #14 is Umaga.  Clotheslines for all, until we get to Hardcore Holly, who chops away.  A taped thumb eliminates Holly, finally.  Batista goes after Umaga and gets taken down in the corner.  Bulldozer to him.  Cody almost dumps Shawn, and then goes back to Morrison.  Shawn climbs in the corner but Punk catches him and slams him down.  #15 is Snitsky.  Kicks and clotheslines for all, then Cody Rhodes almost dumps himself and Snitsky with a body-press, but nothing comes of it.  #16 is the Miz, who shares the WWE tag titles with Morrison at this point.  Terrible spot sees Punk hoist Morrison up for the GTS, but then he has to wait way too long for Miz to make his entry and the save.  Miz takes down Punk.  Undertaker nearly dumps Umaga, who wraps himself up in the ropes.  #17 is Shelton Benjamin.  He runs into the ring, jumps on the top rope and snaps the tag champs off the ropes.  Fans are hot for Shelton, so naturally Shawn Michaels superkicks him out of the ring after roughly ten seconds.

In 1992, we had the Flair Rumble.

In 1995, we had the Fast-Forward Rumble.

In 1999, we had the Russo Rumble.

In 2004, we had the Benoit Rumble.

And now, in 2008, we have the FUCK YOU~! Rumble.  “Is something currently entertaining you in the ring?  Yes?  FUCK YOU~!  Sit down, shut up, and be bored you ignorant fans.”

Random brawling with no structure at all, then welcome to Jurassic Park because… #18 is Jimmy Snuka.  He goes after CM Punk, then headbutts the Undertaker.  Taker actually sells this, which shocks the announcers as much as it shocks me.  More headbutts and weak punches for various people.  WWE knows this part is dog shit and speeds up the entrances.  #19 is Roddy Piper.  What are the odds that two geriatrics that happened to have feuded with each other over twenty years ago enter the match and then happen to draw back-to-back numbers?  I know, it’s wrestling, but let’s not throw that in people’s faces, shall we?  Piper takes his shirt off, and man is he out of shape.  He goes for Snuka and gets chopped down.  All the other wrestlers stop to enjoy the show.  They get bored almost as fast as I do and start brawling again.  #20 is Kane.  He dumps the old farts, then chokeslams Miz.  Random brawling, then Taker fakes like he’s going to chokeslam Kane, but grabs Shawn Michaels instead.  Kane saves Michaels from getting slammed.

#21 is Carlito.  He spits in the face of Cody Rhodes, who is apparently not cool.  Meanwhile, Michaels seems to have broken his nose at some point in this match.  If this was a good Rumble, I would go back and look for the spot that did it.  But this isn’t, so I ain’t.  Carlito nearly dumps Shawn, and then he gets caught on a springboard by Punk and Morrison.  He flips out of whatever they were going to do and hits the Backstabber on Punk.  Rhodes hits his bulldog on Carlito, and then we have random brawling until… #22 is Mick Foley.  Forgot about him.  Fans are super hot for him, so I’m guessing he won’t last long.  Punches for all, then a double-arm DDT to Kane.  Umaga hits a Samoan Drop on Undertaker, but there are too many guys in the ring for anything to be meaningful.  Chopkick by Morrison to Foley, and man, half the guys in the ring are just lying down.  This match sucks, so we go into speed entrances.  #23 is Mr. Kennedy.  He hits a running kick to Cody in the corner, and then somehow finds room to hit the Mic-check on Miz, then one on Punk.  Taker does a zombie sit-up, so Kennedy kicks him back down.  Kennedy gets caught in a chokeslam from him, and then we go back to more random brawling.  Random brawling, then #24 is Big Daddy V.  In an instant of pure, unapologetically horrible timing, Undertaker casually pushes Snitsky out of the ring, and then gets eliminated himself from a Shawn Michaels superkick.  Fans aren’t paying attention because Big Daddy V’s music is playing and he’s getting into the ring.  HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE!   This would be a great way to pay off the earlier spots if they had timed it right.  They didn’t, and thus the fans are robbed of the payoff for both the stuff earlier in the match and the previous year’s Rumble finals.

This match fucking sucks.

Then Kennedy takes advantage of Shawn starring down Undertaker and HBK gets tossed.  One of the very worst sequences in Royal Rumble history, and it should have been one of the best.  Taker is pissed and takes it out on Snitsky, prepping him on the announce table and dropping a leg on him, but the table doesn’t cooperate and barely gets dented.  Meanwhile, random brawling in the ring until Cody and Kennedy tease a few neat near-eliminations.  #25 is Mark Henry.  Man, if only they could have combined the sizes of the guys here with the year Benoit won the rumble.  There are WAY too many guys in the ring.   Hornswaggle pops out from under the ring to help someone dump Miz.  Then a whole lot of nothing.  #26 is Chavo Guerrero, fresh off winning the ECW championship in what officially marked the point where the ECW title became the fifth-string singles title.  Meanwhile, Morrison gets eliminated via a big boot from Kane.  Umaga almost dumps Carlito, who I had completely forgotten about.  Hornswaggle pops out while Henry tries to eliminate Cody Rhodes and gets dragged into the ring.  He gets sandwiched between Mark Henry and Big Daddy V, but Finlay jumps the gun on his entrance and beats the fat fucks with his shillelagh.  He helps Hornswaggle return to the back, officially eliminating him despite the fact that he never went over the top rope.  If there’s one good thing about this spot, it’s that it FINALLY got people to shut up about Maven never being eliminated in 2002.  Random brawling while the announcers are informed that Finlay is disqualified for jumping the gun on his entry and using a weapon.  Lazy booking, sure, but at least it’s not one more body in the ring with nothing to do.  #28 is Elijah Burke.  Meanwhile, Batista is on the outside of the ring at the very moment Jim Ross is pimping how long he’s been in the match.  But he’s not eliminated.  Meanwhile, Chavo eliminates Punk by slowly dragging him out of the ring.  Depending on who you ask, this might not have been planned, and if you look closely you can see that Punk goes to grab the rope to make the save, but ends up grabbing Chavo’s wrist.  It’s either that, or an incredibly weak elimination.  Meanwhile, we get a replay that shows Batista ate a taped thumb from Umaga that sent him between the ropes.  #29 is Triple H.  Time to clean house.  Cody is gone, and then punches for all.  Big Daddy V eats a facebuster and gets dumped.  Umaga does too, then Foley and Trips go at it, just like they did eight years previous in the same building.  Trips tosses Foley into Burke and both guys tumble over the top.  Umaga and Trips brawl, then Umaga misses a charge and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! for him.  We countdown the last entry.  I watched this show originally with a group of friends.  We all had heard Big Show was coming back.  We all knew for certain it was him.

#30 is in fact… John Cena, who was not expected back from his injury until that summer.  And what do you know, he’s wearing the new HBK t-shirt from WWEshop.com.  The ‘smart’ MSG crowd are totally made into marks as he pops the shit out of them.  Action stops in the ring, and then Cena takes out Henry and Carlito.  See ya Carlito.  Arriba diarchy, Chavo.  Fuck you, Mark Henry.  Trips and Cena have a big stare-down, then slug it out.  Trips lowers his head into a kick, then catches Cena in a spinebuster.  Before we can do much more with this, Umaga grabs Trips and loads up for the taped thumb.  Batista spears Umaga before he fires it off, then dumps Kennedy.  Umaga staggers up the rope and gets dumped by Batista as well.

FINAL FOUR: Kane, Batista, Triple H, and John Cena.  Faster then I can type that, Kane is dumped by Trips and Batista.  Which is fine, as these three are the top stars at the time, with nobody else in their league.  Three-way stare-down.  Batista gives them the thumbs-up, thumbs down.  Cena tells both that you can’t see him.  Trips crotch-chops both.  Big brawl follows.  It settles down to Cena and Batista, with Batista getting a back-elbow.  Clothesline to Trips, and then Batista fights off a double-teaming and clotheslines both down.  Batista charges at Cena in the corner, eats a boot, but still catches him in a spinebuster.  Trips goes for the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! but Batista turns that into a spinebuster as well.  Batista is feeling it, so he loads up Cena for the powerbomb, but John backdrops out of it, then Trips dumps Big Dave with a clothesline and we’re down to two.  Stare-down, then Trips points at the Wrestlemania sign.  Cena says to bring it on, and we have a long stall.  Big brawl, and the fans are clearly in favor of Trips.  Thus, we get the required YEA BOO punching.  Cena gets bored with that and hits the protoplex.  He jaws a bit with the fans and drops the five-knuckle shuffle.  If there was ever a time the WWE could have turned Cena heel, this was it.  “I came back from surgery and you SOBs still boo me?  Screw you all.”  Cena loads up the FU, Trips wiggles out into the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! but Cena fights that off and a double-clothesline leads to a double knockout.  Trips charges at Cena against the ropes but eats a boot.  Cena tries to FU Trips over the top but Trips wiggles out and hits a DDT.  Trips hoists up Cena to dump him, but John hangs on.  He loads up the FU again, Trips wiggles out, but Cena won’t be denied this time and hits the FU to send Trips over the top rope and to the floor.
1/2* Horrible Royal Rumble that instantly oozes towards the bottom of the pile, with the only thing preventing it from hitting rock bottom is the immortal badness of the Russo Rumble.  Nothing quite went right.  Michaels and Undertaker couldn’t recapture the magic they had the previous year.  The near-eliminations were done better and more insane the following year.  There was only one central storyline, the Undertaker/Michaels stuff.  The angle started well, was completely forgotten about for thirty minutes, then when they paid it off it was done so at the worst time you can do ANYTHING in a Rumble match (when someone is making their entrance) and thus the whole thing was a big waste of time.  Otherwise there were no high spots, way too much random brawling, some real oddball choices for elimination spots, and lots of moments where the WWE blatantly teased the crowd into thinking they were finally going to get everyone’s lazy asses in gear only to have the person heating up the match get dumped in seconds.  This Rumble was effortless… as in there was NO EFFORT.  Terrible.  Only saving grace was the first ten minutes or so was acceptable and the final two was decent.  Although, once again, Cena and Trips tried to recreate the magic that Undertaker and Shawn Michaels had the previous year and that’s simply was not possible.  There have been twenty-two Royal Rumbles by this point.  Twenty are better then this one.

That’s the end of the pay-per-view, BUT WAIT~!! because we have some…

BONUS FEATURES

Match #6: Intercontinental Championship
(c) Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton
1/14/08 Raw

Orton starts by blatantly kicking Jeff in the balls, drawing a DQ.  It’s kind of scumbaggy of the WWE to advertise this on the box as if it’s a full-sized title match.  Orton grabs a microphone and tells people not to change the channel, as they’ll want to see this.  Orton dumps Hardy, and then exposes the concrete floor.  Hardy stops him and fights off, and they make their way to the top of the entrance ramp.  Orton tosses Jeff into the metal set piece, and man does the Raw set look cheap up close.  Orton sets up Hardy for the punt but Hardy catches his charge and backdrops him off the stage, landing on… something.  Looks like an oversized shoebox.  Jeff climbs up the lighting rig, calls for something, but then decides to climb even higher.  Jim Ross is using his someone fell from the ceiling voice.  A little premature there, Jimbo.  Someone is ABOUT to fall from the ceiling.  Jeff is about twenty-five feet up and he drops the Swanton from there, onto what looks like cardboard and particle board.  JR groans like he just shit his liver out.  The announcers don’t talk while both guys get stretchered out.  Hell, they don’t even talk during the replays.  You know, when Shawn Michaels did this stuff with Owen Hart, it was fine.  It was new.  It was fresh.  Since then, the WWE has experienced a series of REAL deaths and real serious, life-altering injuries.  Hell, someone died on live pay-per-view.  So let’s cut the shit, shall we?  It was fine in 1995, but a LOT of shit has gone down since then and it’s time to stop this.  Now that being said, the spot was cool and despite the announcer’s melodramatic bullshit, it’s worth a watch.

Post Rumble Interview: Cena bumps into Triple H backstage.  Trips offers Cena kudos, asks if he’s back 100%, and says that sooner or later it will come down to them.  Cena says that he earned his spot, and that he thinks the title match at Wrestlemania might be against Triple H, or some such shit.  Fuck it, the whole thing ran a minute and was pointless.

BOTTOM LINE: For the first time ever, a total dog of a Rumble match is carried by the undercard that preceded it.  You get two nice little warm-up matches, then two really hot world title matches.  Sure, the Rumble was total dog shit with a side of rancid mayonnaise, but everything else on the show is worth going out of your way to check out.  So although the big Rumble match itself is the main selling point of the show, I give the 2008 Royal Rumble pay-per-view/DVD a thumbs up on the basis of it’s overall package.  Very fun show if you cut out the actual match the show is based around.

Thus going into 2010’s Rumble, we are tied at eleven shows with thumbs up and eleven with thumbs down.  Make sure you to check out the Royal Rumble Roundtable here at Pulse.  And I’m still working on the 1999 Royal Rumble Roast, a special Mystery Science Theater 3000 commentary that you can play over your copy of the ’99 Rumble.  It likely won’t be up as soon as I hoped it to be.

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