TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts – January 30, 2011
Michael Cole, Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Matt Striker are on commentary.
MATCH #1: World Heavyweight Title Match – Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler
Edge has been the Champion since 12.19.10, and this is his second defense. He is not allowed to use the Spear in this match. Ziggler is accompanied by SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero. They start by slugging at each other right away, which is not really the beginning I expected. Edge takes control and goes for covers early and often, trying to put the plucky challenger away. Out on the floor Edge whips Ziggler into the barricade just for fun. Ziggler catches Edge coming back in the ring with a boot, and he follows that with a rope-hung neckbreaker for a two-count. That gives Ziggler control for several minutes, as he keeps Edge on the mat and cuts off his comeback attempts. After several minutes they collide on a cross body block attempt and both men are down. Back on their feet Ziggler tries a Stinger Splash but Edge avoids it. Edge hits a flapjack and follows up with a flurry of offense. Ziggler catches Edge in a chinbreaker for a two-count. He tries the Fame-Ass-er but Edge counters with a nasty sitout powerbomb for two. Edge goes up top and Ziggler joins him, only to get knocked back. The Rated R Superstar flies down with a cross body block but the momentum carries Ziggler over for a two-count. Ziggler tags Edge with a dropkick for two. Edge comes back and puts on the Edgecator. Ziggler reaches the ropes. Edge tries to squash Ziggler against the ropes but Ziggler avoids it and hits the Fame-Ass-er for a near-fall. Ziggler tries a whip but Edge reverses it and kicks Ziggler in the face. Edge wants to hit the Spear, but realizes he can’t. Ziggler tries the Sleeper but Edge escapes and hits the Edgecution and Vickie pulls the referee’s leg. Vickie continues to interfere, almost getting knocked off the apron by her man. Kelly Kelly comes out to pull Vickie off the apron and unleash a beating on her. Ziggler comes up from behind and hits Edge with the Zig Zag but it only gets two! The aggressive challenger locks on the Sleeper and the referee accidentally gets bumped. Edge breaks the hold and realizes the opportunity he has. He drills Ziggler with the Spear, and then flattens him with the Unprettier to get the pin at 20:46. Man, it sucks how far Ziggler has fallen down the card. This was a hell of a match, with great back and forth action, and a challenger that looked extremely credible throughout the match. The stuff with Vickie Guerrero and Kelly Kelly was kept minimal and actually added to the drama. What a great opening match, and an awesome showing for Dolph Ziggler.
MATCH #2: WWE Championship Match – The Miz vs. Randy Orton
Miz has been the Champion since 11.22.10, and this is his fourth defense. He has his protégé Alex Riley in his corner. Orton is the immediate aggressor, unloading on Miz and sending him to the floor. The punishment continues both inside and outside the ring. Miz is just getting destroyed here. Riley has to interfere behind the referee’s back to give Miz the advantage. After several minutes of non-descript offense from the Miz, Orton cuts him off with a back suplex. Miz immediately reclaims the advantage with a Yakuza Kick for two. He goes up top but Orton joins him and brings him down with a superplex. Orton unleashes a flurry of offense, but when he tries the Rope-hung DDT, Miz backdrops him to the floor. Riley takes more cheap shots whenever he can. Miz continues to wear Orton down, even hitting a catapult into the ring post out on the floor. The Champion hops for a countout. Orton makes it back in before the count of 10 and hits a Thesz Press. Miz cuts him off but Orton flies out of the corner with a clothesline. Orton hits the snap powerslam. The Garvin Stomp and a big flying knee drop get two for the challenger. Riley distracts again, allowing Miz to hit the Reality Check for two. Orton comes back with an Angle Slam for a two-count. Miz goes to the floor and grabs the title belt and looks ready to leave. Orton won’t let that happen though. Back in the ring Miz catches Orton with a mini-DDT for a two-count. Orton responds with the Rope-hung DDT, and then the Viper coils. For some reason The New Nexus make their way out (minus CM Punk) to distract Orton. The referee gets distracted with them too, and Riley sneaks in the ring. Orton pitches Riley over the ropes and onto the Nexus! That was a great visual. Orton hits Miz with the RKO, but Punk sneaks in and drills Orton with the Go 2 Sleep and puts Miz on top for the win at 19:50. That certainly felt a little long but it wasn’t horrible. I feel like Miz was underrated at this time and was generally doing pretty good work. He and Orton didn’t have amazing chemistry together, but this was solid formula stuff that was just a little long for the finish they did, which was just to set up another feud. It would have been more effective had Miz cheated but beat Orton himself, without the help of five other guys.
MATCH #3: Divas Title Match – Natalya vs. Eve Torres vs. Layla vs. Michelle McCool
This was originally scheduled as Natalya versus Michelle McCool and Layla in a handicap match, but the Anonymous RAW General Manager makes it a four-way and throws in Eve Torres for some reason. Natalya has been the Champion since 11.21.10, and this is her second defense.
McCool and Layla start off working together to subdue both Natalya and Torres. They hit Torres with a double Skull Crushing Finale and then dump her to the floor. Natalya fights back on Lay-Cool, catapulting Layla into McCool and covering Layla for two. Lay-Cool roll to the floor and Natalya follows them out. Layla takes Natalya out with a clothesline, and over on the other side McCool knocks Torres off the apron. That leaves Lay-Cool face to face. Nothing comes of it, as Natalya pulls Layla’s legs out from under her. Torres gets back in the ring as well, and now she and Natalya square off. Layla interjects herself and Natalya puts Layla and Torres in the Sharpshooter at the same time! McCool breaks that up and covers Torres for two. Layla hits Torres with the Lay-Out and McCool kicks her to the floor. Natalya takes care of both members of Lay-Cool and looks well on her way to retaining the title. McCool accidentally takes Layla out with a kick to the face, and Natalya rolls McCool up for two. Natalya dumps McCool to the floor, and then Torres sneaks in and dumps Natalya out. Torres sees a prone Layla and flattens her with a moonsault. She covers at the same time McCool has Natalya rolled up, but the referee sees Torres and counts her pin to give Eve her first Divas Championship at 5:12. That was pretty short but they packed a lot of action in there and the moves looked good. I have no beef with this.
MATCH #4: Royal Rumble Match
CM Punk is #1, and before the next entrant can be announced, The Corre comes out to attack and The New Nexus comes out to stand up for their leader. It’s a big brawl but none of this is official. The Anonymous RAW General Manager cuts in and says that everyone besides Punk has to leave the ring or face disqualification from the Rumble match. Both groups heed the GM’s words and Punk is free to battle #2, Daniel Bryan! I believe the internet needs a new pair of collective pants.
Bryan has the upper hand from the get-go, but Punk weathers the storm and staves off elimination. Justin Gabriel of The Corre is #3, and he goes right after Punk. Unfortunately for Gabriel, he misses a 450 Splash on Punk and Bryan dumps him to the floor. Zack Ryder is next up at #4. Ryder delivers Broski Boots to both Punk and Bryan, and lands the Rough Ryder on Punk. Ryder charges at Bryan and gets tossed out. Bryan’s mentor William Regal is #5. Regal throws both Bryan and Punk around, and drills Punk with the running knee. He trade European Uppercuts with Bryan and comes out on the losing end. Maryse escorts #6, Ted DiBiase, to the ring. John Morrison is next up at #7 and he’s all over the place. DiBiase throws him to the apron and Regal tries to knock him to the floor but Morrison makes it to the barricade and his feet don’t touch! That’s awesome. DiBiase dumps Regal out as Morrison walks across the barricade and leaps onto the steel steps, and is thus able to get back into the match. Yoshi Tatsu is the #8 man in the ring. Help for Punk arrives as Husky Harris comes out at #9. We’re a quarter of the way through with Chavo Guerrero at #10. Guerrero hits Bryan with the Three Amigos to get a nice pop from the crowd. Mark Henry is next out at #11. The World’s Strongest Man makes his presence felt by eliminating Guerrero right away, and then Tatsu shortly thereafter. JTG is #12 and he’s all fired up. The New Nexus grows stronger when Michael McGillicutty comes out at #13. McGillicutty tosses JTG. He then teams up with Harris to dump DiBiase to the floor. The #14 entrant is Chris Masters. The Nexus gets even stronger when David Otunga comes out at #15. Punk tosses Bryan, and Masters is next to go. Say goodbye to Morrison as well, and then all four members eliminate Henry. That leaves only the four Nexus members in the ring. Tyler Reks is #16, but it doesn’t look good for him. Punk kicks him in the head and throws him out. One half of the WWE Tag Team Champions Vladimir Kozlov is #17, and the Nexus make quick work of him as well. R-Truth is #18 and he gets swarmed and eliminated in about a minute. The Nexus gets a big challenge with #19, as it’s former World Heavyweight Champion The Great Khali, with Ranjin Singh by his side. Khali cleans house on the Nexus, even eliminating Harris! That leaves the Nexus with three members in the ring. They get a man back when Mason Ryan makes it halfway at #20.
Ryan ducks a clothesline and dumps Khali out all by himself! Nexus is four-strong again with no one else in the ring. In a huge surprise, the six-time World Champion Booker T is #21! He gets a nice pop from the crowd and he gets a few of his signature spots in, including the Spin-A-Rooni, before being eliminated by Ryan. The Nexus gets their biggest challenge yet as John Cena is #22! Cena is a house afire, throwing the Nexus all over the ring. He quickly eliminates Ryan, and then clotheslines Otunga and McGillicutty out at the same time. That leaves Cena and Punk alone together. They go back and forth until Hornswoggle comes out at #23. Cena dumps Punk out and makes peace with Hornswoggle as they wait for the next entrant. Tyson Kidd is #24, and Hornswoggle hits him with a headscissors and the Attitude Adjustment! Cena then dumps Kidd out. Heath Slater is #25, and Hornswoggle hits him with a Stunner, and Cena follows with the Protoplex. Cena and Hornswoggle then hit a double Five Knuckle Shuffle. Hornswoggle hits the Tadpole Splash and then Cena gets rid of Slater. Next up is Kofi Kingston at #26. Cena and Kingston stare at the WrestleMania XXVII sign and then go at it. Kingston takes the advantage but Cena pops out of the corner with a hard clothesline. Jack Swagger is #27, and we’re starting to get to the nitty-gritty. King Sheamus is #28 and he takes out Kingston and Swagger, and then hits Cena with the Irish Curse. That leaves Hornswoggle as the last man standing. Hornswoggle hits Sweet Shin Music, which just annoys Sheamus. Cena comes to the rescue, but Sheamus is still able to dump Hornswoggle to the floor. Former Rumble winner and longevity record holder Rey Mysterio is #29. Mysterio flies all over the ring until Sheamus cuts him off with a clothesline. He recovers and is able to eliminate Swagger. The #30 entrant is Wade Barrett. Normally that would be the end but we still have ten entrants left.
The first-ever #31 is Dolph Ziggler, who lost a World Heavyweight Title opportunity to Edge earlier tonight. In another huge surprise, Diesel is #32! The crowd loves them some Diesel. Next up at #33 is Drew McIntyre. WWE Champion The Miz’s apprentice Alex Riley is #34 and the ring is filling up. Barrett helps alleviate that issue by eliminating Diesel. Miz joins the commentators to provide some insight. More eliminations seem likely when the Big Show comes out at #35. Show dumps Ziggler to the floor, and Cena and Kingston eliminate Riley. Ezekiel Jackson is #36. Before Jackson gets to the ring Show eliminates McIntyre. Jackson then dumps Show all by himself. The other half of the Tag Team Champions Santino Marella is #37. Sheamus hits him with a Brogue Kick and Marella rolls to the floor. Alberto Del Rio rides out in style at #38. Del Rio takes so long getting to the ring that #39, Randy Orton comes out and attacks him in the aisle. Orton makes it to the ring and starts hitting RKOs. He eliminates Kingston and then Sheamus. Cena and Orton then face off and point at the sign to NO reaction from the crowd. That’s awesome. Finally the field is complete with Kane at #40.
Kane dumps Jackson out and we’re down to six, half of which have already won a Rumble match. Mysterio uses a headscissors to eliminate Kane, and then Barrett gets rid of Mysterio. That leaves us with a final four of Cena, Barrett, Del Rio, and Orton. Cena and Orton try to square off again and once again they get no reaction. Just give it three more years guys. The eliminated Riley shows up to distract Cena, allowing Miz to sneak in and eliminate Cena illegally. For some reason it counts, and Cena is gone. Del Rio and Barrett try to work together on Orton but the Viper fights them off. Orton pitches Barrett to the floor and Del Rio dumps Orton to apparently win the match at 68:39. But remember Santino Marella? He went under the bottom rope earlier, so he’s still legal. Marella sneaks back in and delivers the Cobra! The crowd is going ballistic. Marella goes to eliminate Del Rio but Del Rio counters and sends Marella to the floor to win for real at 69:52. For the first time with 40 guys they were able to keep it moving really well and had enough star power to spread them out and keep the crowd hot for over an hour, which is no small feat. Booker and Nash popped the crowd real nice and didn’t overstay their welcome. The segment with CM Punk and The New Nexus dominating was great, and I love the false finish with Marella because it was so different and so much better than Del Rio just dumping Orton to win. Good stuff here.