This has turned into a pet project spanning the last few weeks, and I appreciate your indulging me for so long. It's been quite a roller coaster ride through Battle Royals past, as we build to this year's Andre Memorial at WrestleMania. From the vintage football showcase to The Hitman's big babyface turn, WrestleManias 2 and 3 offered two drastically different matches. Then we jumped ahead to the Hardcore scramble (mis-labeled a Battle Royal) at WrestleMania 14, and the cult classic Gimmick Battle Royal at 17. Today marks the penultimate stage of our journey, as we look at a schmozzy Tag Team Battle Royal, and the wince-worthy stinker known as the 25-Diva Battle Royal.
I'm surprised by how many participants have already been announced for the Andre Memorial this year; not only does it show a rare foresight on the part of WWE, but it also leaves little room for surprise (which is often the best part of talent-heavy match like this). But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, when we have plenty to discuss from Battle Royals past…
WrestleMania 14 - Tag Team Battle Royal
It's funny to see just Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler at a tiny announce table together (though I'm a bit sorry to see Lawler, given his choice of outfit for the big event - a flashy red jacket with gold fringe, and no shirt underneath - let's call it "gross marching band"). Speaking of outfits, I never fail to be mesmerized by the outfit that's about to come down the aisle for the opening match.
Sunny! Here she is in all her wild and sultry glory, leading the "new" Legion of Doom to the ring. They'd all three been on hiatus, and were re-packed and re-introduced as the "mystery team" entered into this match. Their entrance garners a crazed roar from the crowd, overstimulated by the sudden influx of spikes and sexuality into this situation. Sunny is basking in the "L.O.D." chant, swinging her hips and pointing to the sky in time to the chant.
And I guess they'd brought out all the other competitors earlier, because there is a swarm of men at ringside who climb in and get right to it as soon as the bell rings. Let's try to figure out who they are!
Hold up, I can't. I haven't a sweet clue who many of these guys are, and I'm only half ashamed to say that I had to consult Wikipedia:
Los Boricuas - Savio Vega and Miguel Perez
Los Boricuas - Jose Estrada and Jesus Castillo
The Truth Commission - Recon and Sniper (the former was later known as Bull Buchanan)
Bradshaw and Chainz - Three years earlier, Chainz had been the fake Undertaker
The Nation of Domination - D'Lo Brown and Mark Henry
The Nation of Domination - Farooq and Kama Mustafa
The Quebecers - Jacques Rougeau and Pierre Ouellet
The Rock n' Roll Express - Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson
The New Midnight Express - Bob Holly and Bart Gunn
The Headbangers - Mosh and Thrasher
Too Much - Scott Taylor and Brian Christopher (soon to be repackaged as “2 Cool”, which inarguably sounds better but is far less representative)
Disciples of Apocalypse - 8-Ball and Skull (twin brothers who used to be Jacob and Eli Blu)
Steve Blackman and Flash Funk
The Godwinns - Phineas and Henry
Legion of Doom - Hawk and Animal
This was clearly a dark time in the tag division. The act of typing out that list was pretty depressing. I think today's New Age Outlaws might be even more uplifting that most of the people on this list, and I am very definitively not a fan of the NAO. Someone check me on this, please.
And what a sloppily-designed match too. If your tag partner is eliminated over the top rope, then you must get out of the ring as well. Awkward. Savio Vega is out, and so his partner appears out of nowhere to be out as well. Barry Windham does a run-in (shout-out to Bray Wyatt's uncle, and namesake, as Bray's birth name is Windham Rotunda!) and eliminates Chainz (who does indeed look fake-Undertakery). Bradshaw notices that his partner is out, and blatantly gestures to the referee, who then ejects him. This is painful, although I'm taking an unexpected amount of pleasure from watching Sunny skitter and squat around the ring, under the guise of being intent on the match, but clearly delighting in being on parade.
Her team eventually eliminates The New Midnight Express for the victory, and the prize is meeting the tag team champions at next month's pay-per-view. So yeah, it's all pretty sad, starting with the OH MY GOD I just realized that The New Age Outlaws are the tag team champions at this time. I think I'm having a hard time with all this because of the New Age Outlaws facing The Shield at WrestleMania XXX. It's really sucking my will to live, even though I know it could be worse (match pulled from the card) and there are other great matches to look forward to on April 6th (10 more days!). Let’s move on.
25-Diva Battle Royal to Crown the Inaugural Miss WrestleMania
Instead of following the regular format to describe this Battle Royal, I am going to give you 3 reasons why it was a waste of time for all.
1. No Entrances
I was at this WrestleMania. To say that I went in with high expectations would be grossly understating what my poor friend Hilary suffered through for an entire year prior as I planned our trip to Houston. That being said, those high expectations were balanced out by the constant rushes of adrenaline and joy that I felt during that entire night. So, while I could have complained about many things, I tricked myself into having the best time.
So I'm there, and I'm not much of a Kid Rock fan, but found myself enjoying his little musical interlude. He gave ‘er, and his band was fantastic, but it ran too long and too early in the night. It would have been perfect in between Taker/HBK and Edge/Cena/Show.
Now I'm setting the stage here for good reason, because I stood up and danced and cheered and was All Sensors Engaged for over four hours straight that night. And I did not notice the Divas coming out for their match. I repeat, I FAILED TO SEE 24 WOMEN AND 1 MAN IN DRAG – until suddenly, without ceremony, they were in the ring. It seems that they shimmied down the aisle during Kid Rock's performance, not a one of them with announcements. And before Kid Rock was even finished soaking up the crowd's collective shrug, they rang the bell and the Battle Royal began!
I could barely differentiate between who was who in the ring, which was upsetting because I was hoping to see some old (yet freakishly new) faces. At the risk of sounding lame, I kept thinking of those washed-up women being given one last chance to have a big moment, spending big bucks on a fancy ring outfit and hours on getting all dolled up. It was really depressing.
If you were wondering how Sunny’s held up over the years, this is all you get
Since when do they forego entrances at a WrestleMania (oh wait, they did it at WM 14 for that tag battle royal too, but I’d like to think they at least announced them off-camera to the crowd). It's freaking ludicrous! And I considered this one a special show, being the 25th Anniversary. Aside from the Taker/HBK match, and Stone Cold and Steamboat going into the Hall of Fame, they weren't doing right by many of their talent. This was just one more non-confidence vote in the Divas division.
2. Super Fast
If the Divas match is considered the traditional bathroom break for fans, then this one wouldn't have even afforded you the opportunity to unzip your pants. What better way to show that you don't give a crap than to hustle all the ladies down the aisle while the camera's on Kid Rock (who wouldn't play ball with Vince on the licensing, so it's not even on the DVD), THEN hustle them right the hell out of the ring with zero consideration for high spots or flow. At only 5 minutes, the match itself failed to showcase a single woman who was out there. Tellingly, there is little commentary because there is no motivation to call the action. Lame excuses are given for the bouts of silence, such as Lawler’s, "I've been blinded by passion.” Even Jim Ross drops a half-hearted, “My money’s on the blonde.” For his part, Cole refers to Gail Kim as a Bella twin.
The missed opportunities to show some talented ladies the respect they deserve, and give the fans a chance to cheer them, are borderline tragic.
3. F'ing Santina
What's worse than no entrances and a rushed match? Have a man in drag win the women's match. And they kept up the charade for weeks thereafter, a poor-man's Mrs. Doubtfire that left us all groaning and Beth Phoenix stifled by the stupidity. I have nothing else to say.
Let's hope it's the one and only.
UPDATE: When I went to do some screen grabs for this match, I found footage of the Divas’ entrances during Kid Rock. It’s the first time I’ve seen it, since I didn’t catch it live, and my Blu-Ray doesn’t have it. It’s pretty icky.
Well, THAT was a downer, wasn’t it? Makes me want to fling a couple wrestling DVD’s out into the snow, to be found when Spring comes in July, wiped carefully with a tissue, and re-inserted back into my collection.