THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne – now in it’s 10th year!
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We are now on the road to Wrestlemania, as thirty men entered the ring to see who would headline the biggest event of the year at WWE’s first pay-per-view of the year, the Royal Rumble, shown live here in Britain on Sky Box Office, with Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker handling commentary duties.
The show began with Christian defending the ECW title against Ezekiel Jackson, accompanied here by William Regal. This may well be Jackson’s best match since he emerged from the shadow of Brian Kendrick. His power game was highly impressive, and he didn’t need any help from his mentor, especially as Regal was banished from ringside for trying to interfere. Christian was solid as always, and it was these two ingredients that made for a great opener, with Christian hitting the killswitch out of nowhere to get the title retaining pin. Is there anyone who can take the title from this man?
The title action continued with the Miz defending the United States title against number one contender MVP. This last minute addition to the card proved to be an entertaining encounter, with the Miz again showing just how far he’s come. Miz and MVP were perfect foils for each other in this back and forth affair, with Miz getting the pin with a small package as MVP got back into the ring. Miz then gloated about his win, leading MVP to take him out with the playmaker. Nice work here from these two.
Then it was on to Randy Orton challenging Sheamus for the WWE title. Now this is something that you don’t get to see in the WWE universe much, a heel versus heel battle. This certainly proved to be an interesting encounter, especially as far as the crowd reaction was concerned. As the match went on they really started to get behind Orton, even though his character and demeanour didn’t change at all. The performances of both Orton and Sheamus can’t be faulted, and it was a very good match, with Sheamus getting the disqualification win when Cody Rhodes ran through the crowd and attacked Sheamus at ringside. After the match Orton went ape on Rhodes and Ted Dibiase, who came down to the ring to try and diffuse the situation. Orton laid them both out, before Sheamus recovered and took Orton down with the big boot. Me thinks we’ve seen the beginning of the end of the Legacy.
The Divas were up next, with Michelle McCool defending the Women’s title against Mickie James. This was the take it or leave it part of the show, McCool did the usual Piggy James bit, with Lela El in a fat suit, before James finally came down to the ring and got the quick title win after taking McCool down with a jumping DDT. James’ fellow baby face Divas then came to the ring with a big cake, which ended up being dumped in the faces of the now former champion and her best buddy. Well, it wasn’t much of a match or an angle, and hopefully this will be the end of this sorry affair.
Thankfully, normal service was resumed when Rey Mysterio challenged the Undertaker for the World title. This looked like a complete mismatch on paper, but it was by far the best of the undercard matches. Once again Mysterio played the part of the plucky underdog to perfection, getting the life beat out of him by the dead man, but always coming back strongly later on. Towards the end it looked like Mysterio could get the win after two 619s, but the Undertaker countered the west coast pop and got the title retaining pin after the last ride. A great match, a lot better than it had any right to be though.
Then it was on to the main event, the Royal Rumble match itself. Well, it proved to be as entertaining as ever, with numerous good performances, and a massive surprise. Early highlights were provided by C.M. Punk, with several eliminations, and as the match went on things got better and better, with the storyline surrounding Shawn Michaels the main focal point, as he tried to win the match so he could get another shot at the Undertaker. Then we got the big surprise. Entrant number 29 was none other than Edge, returning early from his Achilles tendon injury. Moments later Michaels found himself eliminated at the hands of last entrant Batista, before Edge finished the match by eliminating John Cena to earn his spot in the main event at Wrestlemania. A surprising ending perhaps, but a good one, and a welcome return for the rated R superstar.
In conclusion – the Royal Rumble kicked off WWE’s pay-per-view year in style. Apart from the awful Divas encounter, the undercard delivered big time, and the drama surrounding Shawn Michaels and the return of Edge made the Rumble match worth watching. In short, this gets the seal of approval, and is recommended to anyone who buys it when it’s released on DVD.