THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
The journey to Wrestlemania has begun, as thirty of the top superstars battle it out for the right to headline the biggest wrestling show of the year. Oh, and there’s a couple of important title matches here as well. It’s time for WWE Royal Rumble, shown live on Sky Box Office here in Britain.
The show begins with Matt Hardy looking to regain his ECW title from Jack Swagger. This will actually be the first time I’ve seen Swagger in action (yep, I still don’t watch the weekly shows that much!), so this will make for interesting viewing. My first impression of the All-American American? Hey, he’s not that bad. I had expected him to make a few rookie mistakes, but he’s obviously been trained well. As for the match, a very good way to start the show. Hardy, well, was Hardy, a guy you can always look to for a good match, while Swagger impressed the hell out of me, and it was nice to see a few MMA moves thrown in there. Sadly, Hardy wasn’t able to regain the title here. After Swagger rammed his shoulder into the ring post, Swagger took Hardy down with a gut wrench power bomb to get the three count. A very good way to open the show.
Women’s action followed, with Melina challenging Beth Phoenix for the Women’s title. Needless to say that the ever annoying Santino Marella is also in the vicinity for this one. Once again the Glamazon proved just how good she is, especially at a time when the Diva’s division is somewhat overshadowed by TNA’s Knockouts. You can’t go wrong when you’ve got a great wrestler like Melina to work with. The most interesting part of this match saw Beth twist Melina’s leg backwards so she could hit her opponent in the head with it. There was one sloppy moment, but nothing to write home about. Despite her best efforts, Beth ended up losing the title. When it looked like Melina would take Beth down with a bulldog from a wheelbarrow position, she actually spun around and got the sunset flip-type roll-up to get the title winning pin. A very good match from the Divas here.
Then it’s the first of the two big title matches, with John “Bradshaw” Layfield, accompanied by his number one employee Shawn Michaels, challenging John Cena for the World title. Earlier on JBL told Michaels that if he helped him beat Cena his debt would be repaid, or words to that effect. Of course, this isn’t the first time Cena and JBL have gone at it over a major title, so this one had quite a lot to live up to. This is probably the best match JBL has had since his return to active competition, and while it wasn’t as good as the matches in their first feud a few years ago, it was damn close. Tons of great action was matched by the will he, won’t he drama surrounding Shawn Michaels. This was at it’s most intense when the referee was accidentally clobbered by JBL, and then JBL and Cena took each other out with a double clothesline. Michaels stepped into the ring, and as both men got to their feet, JBL ordered Michaels to take Cena out. Instead, Michaels took Cena out with sweet chin music, but to the surprise of everyone, he then did the same to Cena, draping JBL’s prone body onto Cena’s. A second referee entered to make the count, with the champion kicking out. Seconds later, Cena connected with the FU, or whatever it’s called now, getting the title retaining pin to end a great bout filled with great action and great drama.
The second big title match sees Edge, accompanied by Chavo Guerrero, challenging Jeff Hardy for the WWE title, which Smackdown General Manager and Mrs. Edge Vickie Guerrero changed to a no disqualification match. No matter how many times I’ve seen these two against each other, whether it be in singles or tag-team, I never tire of it. Edge dominated the early part of the proceedings, but things changed when the toys came into play, especially when Hardy’s second choice, Guerrero, was put through the Smackdown announce table with a splash off the top of a ladder. Back in the ring the action went back and forth, each man scoring with their signature moves. But when Hardy looked like he was getting the win after a swanton, Vickie Guerrero pulled the referee out of the ring. Jeff’s brother Matt then came down to the ring to even things up, and when it looked like he was going to help him take Edge down with the con-chair-to, the shocker came, as Matt clobbered his own brother with a steel chair. By now Edge had recovered, and got the three count seconds later, meaning that we had a new champion. Now while Cena v JBL may have been a good match, this was a whole lot better, filled with great action, a ton of drama, and an event that nobody saw coming.
Main event time, the Royal Rumble match itself, with the winner getting a title shot at Wrestlemania 25. Time to get out that old line again. By now, long rime readers will know that while I always enjoy these kind of matches, it’s a pain in the arse reporting on them. As always, though, the Rumble match proved to be great. Beginning with Rey Mysterio and John Morrison, the stars soon came thick and fast. Early on it looked like Vladimir Kozlov would put in a dominating performance as he quickly eliminated three men, including the Great Khali. However, seconds after he managed these feats, the big Russian was eliminated himself by Triple H.
Some explosive action followed, especially when Randy Orton and his Legacy buddies Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase got into the match, triple teaming as much as they could. Legacy were also responsible for Goldust’s elimination, as Orton convinced Rhodes to take care of his own brother.
The big surprise of the match came with entrant number twenty-five – none other than Rob Van Dam. Boy, was it great to see this guy back in the ring as he took out as many as he could with his own innovative style of offence.
The final man to enter the contest was it’s biggest, the Big Show, who soon made his presence felt by quickly eliminating sentimental favourite and the winner of the first Rumble, Jim Duggan, R-Truth, C.M. Punk, Mike Knox and Rey Mysterio, who had lasted nearly fifty minutes in an astonishing performance that saw him escape elimination countless times.
The final four were Triple H, Orton, Rhodes, and Dibiase, making it the proverbial three-on-one situation. Legacy soon began to take the Game apart, until Triple H managed to fight back, eliminating Dibiase and Rhodes, before Orton, who Triple H almost eliminated, came up from behind and threw Triple H over the top rope to claim his first Royal Rumble victory and booked himself a main event spot at Wrestlemania. As always, the Rumble match itself proved to be outstanding, one of the highlights of the professional wrestling year.
In conclusion – this year’s version of the Royal Rumble proved to be a great event. The four support matches all delivered in their own way, setting out the stall for future encounters leading up to the big one. The whole show was nicely topped off by the Rumble match, with some great performances from Rey Mysterio, Triple H, and Randy Orton, as well as the more-than-welcome appearance of Rob Van Dam.
So having taken our first steps on the road to Wrestlemania 25, this writing is looking forward to see what will happen in a few weeks at No Way Out. Hey folks, it’s Elimination Chamber time again!!!!!
A couple of things before I go. Congratulations to Linda Robin for winning the A1 Wrestling Newsletter Writer of the Year award. She does some great work, and it’s no surprise that she’s asked to contribute for so many websites. Yours truly came second, in case you’re wondering!
And don’t forget to visit my online store at www.lulu.com/twosheds316, where you can purchase my two latest editions, The WAW Years Volume 2 and New Collected Writings. Both books are available in print and download form, so please show your support for a struggling writer!