Philips Arena – Atlanta, GA – Sunday, January 31, 2010
Michael Cole, Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Matt Striker are on commentary.
MATCH #1: ECW Championship Match – Christian vs. Ezekiel Jackson
Christian has been the Champion since 7.26.09, and this is his eighth defense. Jackson is accompanied by William Regal. The big man from Guyana immediately tries to assert his power advantage, but the wily veteran Christian thwarts him and use his agility to take the advantage. They continue to go back and forth in the early going, both men using their best attributes to their advantage. Regal tries to interfere on Jackson’s behalf, but the referee catches him and sends him to the back! Now Jackson is all alone, but it doesn’t seem to affect him, as he whips Christian into the steps. Back in the ring Jackson covers for two. Jackson keeps Christian grounded and wears him down with strikes and slams. He goes up for a superplex but Christian fights him off and hits a flying back elbow. Christian goes up to the second rope to hit a dropkick, and that gets two. He takes Jackson down and goes for the diving headbutt, but Jackson avoids it. Jackson clobbers Christian with a clothesline for a two-count. Jackson hits a backbreaker for another near-fall. Christian comes back with a nice tornado DDT for a two-count. Jackson gets up and once again hits a clothesline for two. A series of counters ends with Christian putting on a Sleeper, which Jackson counters to an Oklahoma Stampede, which Christian re-counters to the Killswitch to get the pin at 12:01. That was a pretty decent big man versus little man match, especially given Jackson’s limitations. Christian is the right kind of guy to make someone like Jackson look good, and thus make himself look good for being resourceful enough to score the pin.
MATCH #2: United States Championship Match – The Miz vs. MVP
Miz has been the Champion since 10.5.09, and this is his fifth defense. MVP takes the early control, as the Champion is still taken off-guard by this impromptu title defense. They spill to the floor and MVP continues to control the action. Back in the ring, Miz kicks MVP to the apron and then knock him down to the floor. That gives Miz the advantage and the crafty Champion is happy to take it. Miz wears MVP down for a few minutes. Eventually MVP fights back, creates separation, builds momentum, all that good stuff. MVP hits the Ballin’ Elbow and goes for the Playmaker but can’t hit it. He settles for a Yakuza Kick for a two-count. Miz rolls to the apron and snaps MVP’s neck off the top rope. Back in the ring Miz misses a knee lift and MVP hits the POUNCE for a two-count. MVP misses the Drive-by and Miz goes for the Skull Crushing Finale but MVP counters that to a victory roll for two. The challenger tries a backslide and a jackknife pin but still can’t get the pin. Miz rolls to the floor. MVP throws him back in the ring, and when he gets back in Miz scores an inside cradle to get the pin at 7:31. That was a pretty standard RAW match that somehow found its way to pay-per-view.
After the match, Miz taunts MVP harshly, so the sore loser kicks Miz in the gut and hits the Playmaker. That’s a pretty terrible example set by MVP, since he talked tons of trash to the Miz and then lost completely clean because he got outsmarted.
MATCH #3: WWE Championship Match – Sheamus vs. Randy Orton
Sheamus has been the Champion since 12.13.09, and this is his second defense. They start off a little slowly and Orton takes the first powder. Sheamus follows him out and they brawl on the floor. The Champ goes after Orton’s arm, which is good strategy because it neutralizes several of Orton’s finishing moves. Orton responds by going after the legs. Momentum shifts back and forth, as both men try to establish dominance. Orton hasn’t officially turned babyface yet, but the crowd is chanting loudly for him. Sheamus takes the first sustained advantage and cuts off an Orton comeback attempt with the Irish Curse backbreaker for two. He goes for the Celtic Cross, but Orton slips out and kicks Sheamus to the floor. That gives Orton the opportunity to hit the Rope-hung DDT for two. Orton signals for the Punt but Sheamus wisely avoids it by going to the floor. The Champion is not safe though, as Orton follows him out. Sheamus shoves Orton into the ring post twice. He throws Orton back in the ring and Cody Rhodes hops the security rail and attacks Sheamus from behind. Rhodes does no real damage, but the referee argues with Rhodes, so he doesn’t call for the bell right away. Orton hits the RKO and covers, but NOW the referee can ring the bell, giving the win to Sheamus at 12:25. These two did not have very good chemistry, and the finish came off as extremely awkward and lame. That makes Sheamus look horrible. I mean people get paid to come up with finishes like that, it blows my mind.
After the match, Rhodes tries to explain himself (“I didn’t know attacking Sheamus in front of the referee would be a disqualification” is a pretty flimsy story), and Orton attacks him. Ted DiBiase comes out and tries to break them up, so Orton beats him up too. That gives Sheamus the chance to hit a Brogue Kick before taking off. So, Orton is officially a babyface now, and we just needed a dull match to get there. Weak, weak stuff.
MATCH #4: Women’s Championship Match – Michelle McCool vs. Mickie James
McCool has been the Champion since 6.28.09, and this is her fifth defense. She talks a lot of trash before the match, thinking that James isn’t showing up. Layla comes out in the fat suit again as Piggy James. Then the real Mickie James’ music hits, and the woman herself is here! James takes Layla down with a Thesz Press and hurls her into the guardrail. She gets in the ring and Layla tries to interfere, but James avoids it and McCool kicks Layla! James then hits the Mickie-DT to get the pin and win the title at a brisk 0:23! Obviously not much of a match there, but Lay-Cool needed to get their comeuppance and their uppance did come here.
MATCH #5: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Undertaker vs. Rey Mysterio
Undertaker has been the Champion since 10.4.09, and this is his sixth defense. Mysterio beat Batista in a Steel Cage Match to earn this title shot. The challenger tries to stick and move from the get-go, which is probably his best bet. Of course, Undertaker fights right back with his power and dumps Mysterio to the floor. Mysterio tries to springboard back in but Undertaker cuts him out of the air with a right hand. The Champion follows with the legdrop on the apron. Back in the ring Undertaker tries the Chokeslam but Mysterio avoids it and tries the 619. Undertaker catches Mysterio and goes for the Tombstone but Mysterio knees his way out of it. Mysterio tries a cross body and Undertaker boots him out of the air. Outside the ring Mysterio catches a lucky break and goes after the leg. Undertaker tires a Last Ride but Mysterio gets to the apron and takes Undertaker out with an Asai Moonsault. Back in the ring Undertaker reclaims control, wearing Mysterio down. After several minutes Mysterio hits a jawbreaker and catches Undertaker running into the corner with a boot. Mysterio follows with a Scorpion Death Drop, a basement dropkick, and then Drops the Dime for a two-count. Undertaker cuts him off with a vicious clothesline. He goes for the Last Ride but Mysterio slips out and this time connects on the 619. Mysterio follows with a missile dropkick to the back, and that puts him in perfect position to hit another 619. He goes for the West Coast Pop, but Undertaker catches him and hits the Last Ride for the pin at 11:09. That was great stuff and I feel like people don’t give that match all it deserves. This was how to book a big babyface versus a little babyface perfectly, and both guys pulled it off. Mysterio looked like he had a fighting chance when he really didn’t, and Undertaker just had too much for him. I love it.
MATCH #6: 30 Man Royal Rumble Match
Dolph Ziggler picked up #1, and Evan Bourne drew #2. They start off fast and furious, fitting for two men with something to prove. Ziggler hits the Zig-Zag but can’t score an elimination yet. Bourne takes Ziggler down and hits the Air Bourne, just as CM Punk (with Serena) comes out at #3. Punk quickly eliminates both, and then takes the microphone to cut a promo. Next up is JTG at #4, and he is fired up on Punk for sure. JTG doesn’t last long, and Punk continues his promo. The giant Great Khali is next at #5. Punk tries to recruit him for his stable, but Khali chops his head and then locks on the vise. Beth Phoenix’s music hits and she’s #6. Khali sets her on the apron. Phoenix plants a lip lock on Khali and pulls him to the floor! She then goes after Punk and puts him on her shoulders but Punk slips out and drills her with Go 2 Sleep. Zack Ryder is #7, and Punk briefly talks on the mic again but dumping Long Island Iced Z to the floor. Punk gets on the mic and brags some more, but the talking is done when Triple H is revealed as #8! Triple H and Punk stare each other down before the fight begins. HHH takes advantage, and Drew McIntyre is out at #9. A series of reversals ends with HHH throwing Punk out. That’s a bit of a bummer, Punk was owning that Rumble. Next up at #10 is Ted DiBiase. McIntyre’s arch rival, John Morrison is #11, making his fifth Rumble appearance. Offense continues coming from all four men in the ring, and Kane makes his twelfth Rumble appearance (tied with Shawn Michaels for most all-time) at #12. Kane dominates everyone with his power, and Rhodes comes out with lucky #13. Morrison tries a springboard move and Rhodes cuts him out of the air with a dropkick. Next up is sore loser MVP at #14. The Miz runs out and ambushes MVP with the U.S. Title belt as payback for earlier. We reach the halfway point with Carlito at #15.
Carlito actually gets to hit a series of Backstabbers, even one on Triple H. United States Champion The Miz is #16, and he puts a stop to that with a Skull Crushing Finale. Then MVP rushes out and clotheslines Miz to the floor, also tumbling out himself. Good old-fashioned booking there. Next up is Matt Hardy at #17. Hardy hits McIntyre with the Twist of Fate and nails Rhodes with the Side Effect. Kane then dumps Hardy out, and HHH dumps Kane! I thought Kane would go longer. HHH starts throwing Spinebusters around, and The Game is standing tall. He goes for a Pedigree on Rhodes, but McIntyre breaks it up. Next out is Shawn Michaels! He’s #18, the same position he won from in 1996. Michaels immediately eliminates Carlito, and then dumps Rhodes and DiBiase out. Morrison is next to go, as HBK is on a mission from God. D-X then join forces to clothesline McIntyre out. We’re down to just HBK and HHH now, but John Cena breaks that up when he comes out at #19. This should be interesting. Cena charges in and takes both Michaels and HHH off their feet and hits them with a simultaneous Five Knuckle Shuffle! He tries to eliminate Michaels but HHH breaks that up. HHH hits Cena with a Pedigree, and then Michaels Superkicks HHH to the floor! That’s awesome. Shelton Benjamin is next out at #20. Benjamin hits Michaels with Paydirt and goes for it on Cena as well but Cena heaves him to the floor. The energetic Yoshi Tatsu is #21. Tatsu gets a couple of moves in before Cena dumps him out. The one and only Big Show is entrant #22. Cena and Michaels wisely try working together to eliminate him, but they cannot yet. The match gets even bigger at #23 when Mark Henry makes his way out. Henry and Show square off but no eliminations come from it. Chris Masters is next at #24. Show quickly puts Masters out to the floor. Henry and Show struggle with each other by the ropes, and #25 R-Truth takes advantage by dumping them both out. That’s huge, no pun intended. Truth is a house afire on both Cena and Michaels, Jack Swagger is #26, making his Rumble debut. Kofi Kingston is out at #27. Kingston takes Swagger out, and then he creatively eliminates Truth. Chris Jericho is next at #28. Cena eliminates Kingston. From out of nowhere, EDGE is #29! The crowd explodes, as this is a surprise return from injury. Edge immediately eliminates his former partner Jericho, who had been talking trash about him for months. He hits Michaels with the Edgecution. Batista completes the field at #30, and we now have our final four – Shawn Michaels, John Cena, Edge, and Batista, arguably the best final four ever.
Batista starts slamming everything in sight, and he is all kinds of fired up. Edge cuts him off with a Spear. Cena hits Edge with the Attitude Adjustment. Michaels gets to his feet and looks to be in the best shape. He hits Cena with Sweet Chin Music, and then levels Batista with it as well. Edge tries to eliminate Michaels and they both wind up on the apron. Michaels Superkicks Edge back into the ring, and then Batista knocks Michaels off the apron! The crowd’s reaction was amazing, as they had built up what winning the Rumble meant to Shawn so well. Michaels looks heartbroken, knowing he doesn’t get his shot at the Undertaker now. He throws a fit, taking out a referee, and then Superkicking referee Charles Robinson! The devastation on his face is great, and really helps tell his story. Meanwhile, we have three men left. Batista charges at Cena and Cena pulls the ropes down to eliminate the Animal! We’re down to two. It doesn’t take long, as Cena charges at Edge, who sidesteps him and hurls him to the floor to win the Rumble at 49:24! This is a hell of a Rumble match, with Punk being awesome in the beginning, the Shawn Michaels saga, the huge return of Edge, good mid-card stuff like Miz and MVP, and no real dead time. It’s not quite as good as 1992, but it’s certainly in the top five, probably top three.
An amazing Royal Rumble match and the great Rey v Undertaker match ends this show on a very high note. The first four matches don’t offer much, but when the Rumble match is a good as this one, none of that matters. Thumbs way up.