10 Royal Rumble Silver Linings

Usually one of the WWE's most reliable winners, Sunday's Royal Rumble was mostly a dispiriting mess. But not entirely.
Share |

That low, slow-rolling ambient moaning sound you heard on Sunday night? That was every wrestling fan you know, watching the extended and inevitable outcome of the Royal Rumble, generally WWE's most entertaining annual event.

For a while now, the company has been starting to turn away from the heavily veined meat-slabs of its past and toward lithe, athletic, generally smaller guys, many of whom had pivotal roles in the last decade's American indie-wrestling boom. CM Punk spent the past year-plus as the WWE Champion, convincingly defending against all comers through ability and chicanery, just as Ric Flair once did. Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Antonio Cesaro, Cody Rhodes, and a handful of others have been doing consistently great work on WWE TV. Thanks to a recent influx of talent from WWE's developmental system, a ton more guys like this are starting to get TV time. It looked like the company was building toward a slow refocusing of its priorities. But this is the WWE, we're talking about, and shitting away fan goodwill is one of Vincent Kennedy McMahon's favorite activities. And so it was on Sunday night.

The pay-per-view ended with the Rock holding aloft the company's championship belt, having returned from B-grade movie stardom and, after his third wrestling match in the last decade, ended CM Punk's 434-day reign. Most of us saw this coming a mile away, but it got worse when McMahon himself, all smug ochre schadenfreude, smirkily foiled Punk's big last-minute cheat. And before that match, John Cena, the company's longstanding muscle-goofus figurehead, won the Rumble itself, guaranteeing himself a spot in the Wrestlemania main event. All signs point to a rematch of Cena and Rock's 2012 Wrestlemania headliner, a match the company—swear to Christ—billed as “Once in a Lifetime." It's as though McMahon's taking his wife's humiliating Senatorial loss and the general widespread Republican demographic apocalypse out on his viewers, pounding home the message that there is still one place where dominant power-clutching fuckheads are in no danger.

So yeah: Pretty dispiriting ending. But the Rumble itself—the 30-man battle royale that gave the event its name—remained a blast, as always. With the Rumble, the eventual outcome is really only a tiny part of the experience. The magic of the Rumble, as Nick Bond wrote in this space last week and I wrote last year, is in the way the format allows for tiny storylines to play out, for surprise returns and new feuds and unlikely alliances and groansome comedy bits, all within the space of one match. Wrestlers can become stars without winning, or they can become walking human punchlines. But no man, not even two-time winner Cena, is bigger than the Rumble itself. So, in the spirit of this, here are 10 great or ridiculous or wonderfully dumb things that happened during the Rumble itself.

1. The Return of Chris Jericho Jericho is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, someone who's been a standout in the Canadian territories, the Southern territories, Mexico, Japan, ECW, WCW's once-great Cruiserweight division. Then he somehow became a star in WWE, defeating little-guy odds and stomping with the big dogs. He's a vivid personality, an inventive high-flyer type, and a savant at telling a simple and resonant story in the context of a wrestling match. Also, every time he tries something that's not pro wrestling, he's fucking abominable: Singing barrel-scraping power-metal, stooping to Dancing With the Stars, operating as a D-grade cable Seacrest. Every time he comes back to wrestling, something he's done a few times now, it's cause for celebration. His last run, a small and whimpering thing, ended just six months ago, in a match with Dolph Ziggler that, in storyline terms, cost him his contract. (In real life, he was leaving so he could host a reality show about robots fighting each other.) Ziggler was the Rumble's first entrant, and when he grabbed the mic and said he didn't care who came next, the lights went out, Jericho's music hit, and my heart sang. This run could and probably will turn out just as badly as the last one, but I'll always be happy to see him come back.

2. Jericho's Miraculous Late-Rumble Run Call this silver lining 1a, if you want. Jericho actually lasted for just about forever in the Rumble, making it to the final stages. But his best moment came near the end, after the lumbering roidbeast Ryback (I like him okay, actually) had come into the match and tossed a handful of wrestlers out. Ryback's destructive rampage ended when he walked into a Codebreaker from Jericho, a move where Jericho tucks his knees up to the guys' chest, grabs him, and falls backward. The audience, which never really warmed to Ryback despite his obvious company-dictated next-big-thing status, erupted. And after his David/Goliath moment, Jericho went on his own rampage, hitting big moves on everyone else left in the match before Ziggler finally superkicked him out.

3. Goldust A couple of weeks ago, Dustin Rhodes, in his glammed-out absurdist Goldust alter-ego, wrestled in the main event of an indie wrestling show at a horse arena in Lexington, Virginia, near where I live. I thought about going, but it was an hour's drive to see Goldust wrestle the recently axed WWE midcarder Chris Masters, and it just seemed sad. Suddenly, though, Goldust was back in the Rumble, going straight after real-life brother Cody Rhodes—who was awesomely dickish throughout the Rumble—and generally transcending his gay-baiting gimmick ashe's been doing for nearly two decades. Goldust has been publicly hoping for a Wrestlemania match against his brother for a while, and his Rumble appearance made it seem at least halfway plausible.

4. Kofi Kingston's Wondrous Idiocy Last year, the oft-jumping Kingston narrowly avoided Rumble elimination by walking across the floor on his hands; you're not eliminated, see, until both your feet touch the ground. This time, he was teetering on the ring apron when, instead of falling, he lept onto the back of Tensai, the fake-Japanese behemoth he'd just eliminated. Tensai roared, thrashed around, and deposited Kingston on the announce table. After milking a moment of suspense, Kingston figured out his way back into the ring: Hopping on announcer John Bradshaw Layfield's chair like it was a pogo ball. It looked goofy as hell, and the aforementioned Cody Rhodes promptly kicked Kingston off the apron as soon as he arrived. I laughed. So did Cody.

5. Ziggler Goes The Distance Ziggler should be the WWE's next headliner: A rakishly handsome, freakily athletic bleach-blonde dickhead with a tendency to sell all his opponents' moves like he's getting shot and the ability to pull off a leopard-print metallic vest with spikes on the shoulders. But the company seems unwilling to pull the trigger on him completely, possibly because he's a bit shorter than most of its biggest stars and possibly because he doesn't appear to have muscles dripping out of his ears. I think that's it, at least. Otherwise, I have no idea. Maybe it's that they've given him the name "Dolph Ziggler." It would've been amazing if Ziggler actually won the Rumble, but instead, we did at least get the the next best thing. Ziggler entered first and ended up as one of the last four guys in the ring. He tossed a whole bunch of people, and he never looked winded. You don't have to win the Rumble to benefit from it, and Ziggler got to be the most impressive non-winner. That's something.

6. The Godfather Among all the deeply ridiculous characters of the WWF's late-90s era, the Godfather was arguably the most ridiculous: A lovably flamboyant pimp who'd offer his opponents whore-sex if they opted not to wrestle him. Always a shitty and predictable wrestler, he'd appear alongside a coterie of local strippers in every city; today, in real life (well, Las Vegas, which is close) he manages Cheetah's, the club from Showgirls. I wasn't especially amped to see the Godfather return to the ring at the Rumble, but I was amped to see Ziggler dropkick him directly out the second he entered. It was about as grand a return as the Godfather deserved.

7. The Continued Team Hell No Implosion The massively bearded mat technician Daniel Bryan and the hulking masked monster Kane spent last summer feuding, largely because they were both constantly angry sociopaths who hated everyone. Then they bonded over being constantly angry sociopaths who hated everyone. They've done a masterful-for-wrestling job of depicting a love-hate relationship in action, and that storyline nudged itself along just a little further when Bryan pushed Kanye out of the ring, then found himself thrown out while was celebrating. He landed in Kane's arms and begged Kane to put him back in the ring. Kane seemed to consider it for a moment, then dropped Bryan on his ass, leaving Bryan to make excellently cartoonish angry faces. Look, I'll take what I can get.

8. The Let's-All-Push-The-Fat-Guy-Out Moment A treasured Rumble tradition: An enormous man-mountain stomps his way out to the ring, and everyone else immediately drops what they're doing so they can all mob up and dump him. Usually, those guys are juggernauts like Mark Henry or the Big Show, and the crowd's efforts don't work. Once, a few years ago, everyone piled up on the Great Khali, and the visual of Khali, in a single movement, sending bodies flying in every direction provided what was easily the highlight of his entire career. But when the leviathan of the moment is a dancing human dinosaur who loses every match, it turns out to be pretty easy for six or seven wrestlers to push him out. This time around, Funkasaurus Brodus Clay's elimination seemed almost matter-of-fact.

9. Sheamus Plays Human Croquet Irish bruiser Sheamus won last year's Rumble, and he ended up in the final three this year. He also had a great minor moment on Sunday when he used David Otunga's body to knock Titus O'Neil's body out of the ring, effectively turning gigantic human beings into weapons and clearing a couple of useless stiffs out at the same damn time.

10. Bo Dallas Is A Thing Now Royal Rumble storytelling at its best: New guy (in this case, stringy-haired and greased-up third-generation prospect Bo Dallas) wins a battle royale to get a spot in the Rumble. He hangs around for a while, doing nothing of note but narrowly escaping elimination a few times. Then, he seized his moment and tosses out an established midcard beast; in this case, it was snarling British bad guy Wade Barrett. Said midcarder, enraged, pulls the prospect out of the ring and knocks him out. That's about the most direct route possible to introducing a new wrestler and throwing him into a new feud, so simple that it's almost elegant. Even as the top of the card falls into boring stasis, at least things are still churning further down.


Share |

Comments

This online journal is so pleasant to me. I will continue coming here over and over. Visit my connection too.. loft conversions

Amazing knowledge and I like to share this kind of information with my friends and hope they like it they why I do. college paper writers

I am all that much satisfied with the substance you have specified. I needed to thank you for this awesome article. Van hire

hat's what makes you the best. You should keep publishing more articles and you will Such Become One of the best writers ever food dehydrator reviews

Every one of the substance you said in post is too great and can be extremely helpful. I will remember it, much obliged for sharing the data continue upgrading, looking forward for more posts.Thanks girlsdoporn

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics , i will be always checking your blog thanks. click here for info

The quality of your blogs and articles and worth appreciating. homes for sale on the st johns river

I am upbeat to locate your recognized method for composing the post. Presently you make it simple for me to comprehend and execute the idea. Much obliged to you for the post. Plumbers south London

The data you have posted is exceptionally valuable. The locales you have alluded was great. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing.. 29 Hour plumbers

The people are very lucky to have this blog because it has better knowledge.
what is liability car insurance

I am glad to discover this post Very valuable for me, as it contains parcel of data... 0800 numbers from virgin mobile

Great blog you people have maintained there, I totally appreciate the work. http://www.homelandpatrol.net/

I’m surely coming again to read these articles and blogs Niche relevant blog commenting ! Best link building service forum

I’m trampled by your contents carry on the wonderful work. pick the best essay writing service in the market

I truly appreciated perusing this post, huge fan. Keep doing awesome me when would you be able to distribute more articles or where would I be able to peruse more on the subject? plumbers

Keep the balls rolling!! Nice posts you have given for us. Tradie Hotline

That’s really amazing and extraordinary blogs & can help those who get issues in searching this type of information. Tradie Hotline

Usually I visit your blogs and get updated through the information you include but today’s blog would be the most appreciable... cccam server

trust flow backlinks Great article Lot's of information to Read... johntechseo Great Man Keep Posting and update to People..Thanks high tf backlinks

Awesome substance material and extraordinary format. Your site merits the majority of the positive input it's been getting. Fahrrad Navi

Your articles are more than wow! And also the best way to make understand the things mentioned in it.
Curry Macfarlane

Awesome! It sounds great. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing.. Loft conversions teddington

Just try to specify ones substance can be as mind blowing. This clarity with your post is radiant and that i may believe you're a master for this issue. High caliber alongside your agree grant me to grab your present provide for keep changed by utilizing drawing nearer blog entry. You rock several alongside you ought to go on the pleasurable take care of business. scottsdale web seo marketing

The writer understand better the mind of people what they want to learn through their writing therefore this article is Tradiehotline.com.au/

This is an incredible article a debt of gratitude is in order for sharing this educational data. I will visit your site consistently for some most recent post. I will visit your online journal routinely for Some most recent post. loft conversions london

This run could and probably will turn out just as badly as the last one, but I'll always be happy to see him come back.steroids for sale

You have shared the best blog. This is what I really need immediately.
Sequoia Capital India

Your blogs and every other content are thus interesting and helpful it makes me return back again. Halloween costume ideas for women

All the contents you mentioned in post is too good and can be very useful. I will keep it in mind, thanks for sharing the information keep updating, looking forward for more posts.
more Info

On the show today is Nathan Stooke, CEO of Wisper ISP and board member of WISPA... dallas business coach

Listening to music always sounds great,Listening to the song we get comfortable.... 0800 call forwarding

Amazing site, Distinguished criticism that I can handle. Im pushing ahead and may apply to my present place of employment as a pet sitter, which is exceptionally charming, however I have to extra extend. Respects. menu New Jersey Wedding Limousines

I really love your write-ups guys continue the good work. Toronto Party Buses

I continuously continue coming to your website once more simply in case you have posted new contents. Tradiehotline.com.au/

It’s amazing in support of me to truly have a web site that is valuable meant for my knowledge. Toronto Party Buses

I love this blog because it is user friendly with appreciative information. novoline spiele

Your contents are too straightforward to browse and easy to understand. matcha tee

I'm also visiting this site regularly, this web site is really nice and the users are genuinely sharing good thoughts.
Sequoia India

This short article posted only at the web site is truly good.
Curry Macfarlane Group

I'm also visiting this site regularly, this web site is really nice and the users are genuinely sharing good thoughts.
loans now

I'm also visiting this site regularly, this web site is really nice and the users are genuinely sharing good thoughts.
internet loans direct by lender

I got this blog site through my friends and when I searched this really there were informative seo service

It's not my very first time to visit this blog; I’m visiting this daily and acquire superb info from here day by day. seo service

These are actually wonderful some ideas in the blog. You have touched good quality points here. In whatever way continue writing.
how to lower whole life insurance

It’s my fortune to go to at this blog and realize out my required stuff that is also in the quality.
liability only

This is an excellent blog along with the great knowledge.
forskolin for weight loss

Usually I visit your blogs and get updated through the information you . web site

Even as the top of the card falls into boring stasis, at least things are still churning further down.personal injury attorney atlanta ga

I can’t imagine focusing long enough to research; much less write this kind of article. You’ve outdone yourself with this material. This is great content. loftplan

Finally I’ve found your blog, awesome way of explaining each and everything really.
onetorontoplumbing.com