WWE Royal Rumble

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

January 26, 2014 (Twitter @johnreport)

The coverage begins with the free Kickoff Show that started at 7:30pmET. The panel for the Royal Rumble is Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair and hosted by Josh Mathews. Everybody was in suits while Michaels had a plaid shirt. They spoke about winning the Rumble (all of them have won it - Michaels won two) and talked about the kickoff match as well. Renee Young read some fan tweets.

They showed some clips focusing on the Orton/Cena rivalry from the past few weeks and then the panel spoke about that issue. In the background, the announcers made their way down to ringside.

Backstage in the GM's office, midcarders pulled out their Royal Rumble entry number. It was Alberto Del Rio, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth (he didn't like his), Antonio Cesaro, Jack Swagger (Cesaro had the better one apparently) and the Great Khali. Damien Sandow showed up to laugh at him. Then Sandow picked his, so Khali laughed at his number.

Analysis: It's always interesting just to see Khali try to take a bump over the top to the floor.

The New Age Outlaws did their full introduction even though they're heels.

WWE Tag Team Championships: Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. The New Age Outlaws

The match is starting 15 minutes before the PPV starts, so it should get a decent amount of time. Cody missed a Disaster Kick, but then he was able to send Road Dogg outside the ring and the same for Gunn. Goldust hit a dive off the apron to take out Road Dogg. Cody hit a springboard cross body block to take out Gunn. They aired a Royal Rumble commercial during the match. It focused on Batista.

After that one minute break, the Outlaws isolated Goldust. Cole just bragged about WWE's account having 4 million Twitter followers. While the announcers weren't talking about the match, Goldust a sunset flip into a powerbomb on Road Dogg. Gunn tagged in as the announcers said that Gunn doesn't look like he's aged. Then why is he wresting in a shirt? Goldust hit a snap powerslam before making the hot tag to Cody. Road Dogg tagged in for his team and Cody was on fire against him - he even said "suck it" to Gunn. Missile dropkick on both guys by Cody. Road Dogg went for a Pumphandle Slam, but Cody countered into Cross Rhodes. Gunn broke up the pin. Goldust took him out. Gunn made a blind tag, so after Cody hit the Disaster Kick on Road Dogg, Gunn hit the Fameasser on Cody and he covered for the win after 8 minutes.

Winners by pinfall and New Tag Team Champions: The New Age Outlaws

Analysis: ** The match was fine. For all the talk of Gunn being in the best shape of his life, he didn't really look like it. That's not to say he looked really winded. It's just that it's silly to say they look as good as ever. It's a bit of a surprise that they would do a title switch, but storyline wise it makes sense assuming The Usos win the tag titles at WrestleMania. Now that it's on a team that we presume will be heels they can have a traditional feud. I just think Cody & Goldust were doing a great job, so they could have had a longer reign. Whether this leads to them splitting up is another story. Keep your eye on that story. The historical significance of the Outlaws win is that it was 14 years after their last title win.  

The Rumble panel talked about the Lesnar/Show feud. Then the Royal Rumble numbers video aired.

The panel made their predictions for Royal Rumble winner: Duggan said Ziggler, Michaels said The Shield (yes he picked three people) and Flair picked Batista.

Daniel Bryan was shown walking backstage. He's in the opener. That's the end of the Kickoff Show.

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ROYAL RUMBLE 2014 MAIN CARD

The opening video package focused on the Orton/Cena feud by saying it might be the biggest rematch in WWE history. It also focused on the Royal Rumble match. There was a big crowd shot and they were a vocal group in Pittsburgh.

Daniel Bryan made his entrance to a thunderous ovation. The announcers for the show are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John Bradshaw Layfield. The Spanish announcers were there with Ricardo Rodriguez joining them.

Bray Wyatt made his entrance. They showed the clip from a couple of weeks ago on Raw when Bryan attacked Wyatt inside the steel cage.

Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt (w/Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)

The crowd was chanting very loudly for Bryan. Wyatt was aggressive, but Bryan came back at him. Harper interfered. The ref caught him, so he sent Harper & Rowan to the back. There's a clearly visible "Cole Shut Your Hole" sign in the crowd. It rhymes. Bryan hit a cross body block outside the ring and then back in the ring he hit another cross body block. Bryan went to the top, but Bryan chopped him hard in the chest and Bryan landed on the floor. Wyatt went for a charge by the steps, Bryan moved and Wyatt hit his knee against the steps. It's the Mick Foley stair bump where he goes flipping over. Bryan focused on the left leg of Wyatt with a leg drag. Bryan continues to work over the leg by hitting a dropkick into the left knee while Wyatt's leg was against the ropes. They fought on the apron, where Wyatt gave Bryan an arm wringer that saw Bryan's shoulder go crashing into the mat. Unique spot, but it looked good. Wyatt got in some more offense and then Bryan was sent to the floor at the ten minute mark.

Wyatt hit Bryan in the head as it was up against the steel post. Cole referenced the concussion that Bryan had. After Wyatt hit a running splash outside the ring, he yelled at the fans "why didn't you help him?" Back in the ring, Wyatt got a two count. Wyatt drove Bryan's head into the middle rope. Wyatt did his upside down pose in the corner followed by his creepy crab walk and then a splash in the corner for two. Bryan was able to make a comeback with a running clothesline followed by some Ultimate Warrior-like rope shaking. Drop toe hold into the turnbuckle by Bryan. A hurricanrana off the top by Bryan for two. Both guys ran the ropes and Wyatt won that spot with a flying back elbow for two. Wyatt missed a charge in the ropes, so he landed on the floor and Bryan ended up giving him a Tornado DDT off the apron. Wow! That was pretty awesome. It looked like Wyatt's mouth was bleeding. Running dropkick by Bryan. Back in the ring, missile dropkick by Bryan. The crowd was chanting "yes" for Bryan's kicks including the roundhouse kick. Bryan hit two running dropkicks in the corner. He went for a third, but Wyatt came back with a huge clothesline that sent Bryan spinning in the air! Wow that was an awesome spot. It earned a two count for Wyatt. Wyatt wanted Sister Abigail, but Bryan was able to counter into a rollup. Bryan went for the Yes Lock, but Wyatt countered by biting his hand. It's at 20 minutes now.

They brawled on the top rope, which was a battle Bryan won. Instead of a top rope headbutt, he hit a splash. Wyatt rolled outside the ring. Bryan went for the Flying Goat dive outside the ring, but Wyatt caught him and slammed Bryan's head into the barricade. It was the Sister Abigail neckbreaker into the barricade. That was nasty! Crowd chanted "this is awesome" for that. Back in the ring, Wyatt hit Sister Abigail again and covered him for the win after 22 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Bray Wyatt

Analysis: ****1/4 That was an outstanding opener. It was a very physical brawl with several great spots throughout. I liked that they told a couple of stories in the match with Bryan working over Wyatt's knee and Wyatt was going after the head/shoulder area of Bryan from the beginning. With the announcers talking about Bryan's concussion it helped tell the story they were going for. I love that this match made Wyatt look like a star because it was the biggest match in Wyatt's career so far. As expected, any match that Bryan has that goes over 20 minutes is going to be great and Wyatt showed that he could keep up with him. The fans chanting "this is awesome" is justified. That's exactly what it was. These two went all out and they delivered the goods in terms of having an amazing match in the opener. You don't see too many PPV opening matches that are better than that. By the way, I'm 0-2 on my predictions so far. I'm confident in the rest of the night, but I had to point out that I'm winless at this point too.

Backstage, the lovely Renee Young interviewed Paul Heyman. He said it was the dawning of a new era because the WWE Universe was going to be conquered and subjugated by Brock the Unmerciful.

They showed Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger in the front row. My buddy Frank The Clown was sitting near him.

Back to the Rumble panel: Ric Flair, Jim Duggan and Shawn Michaels. They spoke about what we just saw with Michaels putting over Bryan's effort despite what everybody thinks he feels about him. He put him over huge.

Big Show made his entrance first. Brock Lesnar followed with Paul Heyman.  

Before the match could begin, Lesnar attacked Big Show before the bell. Heyman gave Lesnar a chair. He destroyed Show in the back with several steel chair shots. He was telling the ref to ring the bell, but Mike Chioda wouldn't do it. He  told Brock to back off. That didn't happen. Lesnar hit Show with the chair a few more times. Chioda took the chair from Lesnar. The ref rang the bell.

Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman)

As soon as the bell rang, Show decked Lesnar with a KO Punch to the face. Show was able to get control for a little bit and he hit Show with some punches to the ribs. Show went for the KO Punch, Lesnar avoided it, put Show on his shoulders and he hit the F5. Lesnar covered Show for the victory after 3 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Brock Lesnar

Post match, Lesnar was still selling the effects of the KO Punch he was received. He had that glossy look in his eyes. Lesnar grabbed the chair again. He destroyed Big Show with a series of chair shots. He hit him in several body parts with a focus on Show's legs as well as his back. He actually broke two of the chairs, so he went with a third one. The ref Mike Chioda tried to stop him, so Lesnar shoved him down. Lesnar grabbed another chair from under the ring. That's four chairs. After a few more chair shots, Lesnar finally stopped.

Lesnar walked away with Heyman. The WWE doctor and some refs helped Big Show up as he limped his way to the back.

Analysis: * Lesnar won as expected, but it was a much shorter match than I thought. I figured it would go about ten minutes. As it turns out, the entire angle went about 15 minutes and involved Lesnar destroying Big Show unlike anybody has before. If I had to guess how many chair shots there were I would say at least 40. Maybe 50. He hit him in the back, shoulder and knees. Nothing was near the head, which is the right way to go about it. That Lesnar F5 on Show was very impressive, by the way. I wonder what they'll do with these two going forward because Lesnar doesn't have a lot of matches and he might have different opponents at Elimination Chamber as well as at WrestleMania.

The Shield did a promo about the Royal Rumble. They talked about the match. Rollins said they would be united. Reigns said he's feeling good. Ambrose asked him for his number. Reigns asked for his. They never said their numbers. Rollins was the middle man in saying that it didn't matter - the number that matters most is 3 as in the members of The Shield.

Analysis: Solid way to build up some tension between them without going too far. Reigns is getting cocky, Ambrose is as well and Rollins is the guy between them. It will be very interesting to see what happens with them.  

Backstage, Randy Orton was interviewed by Renee Young. Orton said when he beats Cena that will put Cena to the back of the line. Renee talked about all the challengers going after Orton. He said when you're on top, people are going to want a shot. Orton called Wyatt a "Duck Dynasty reject" as well. He also mentioned Lesnar, Batista, Punk and Bryan. He said tonight he's going to show that John Cena isn't the face of WWE either.

Analysis: Good promo by Orton, who got all of the main points across.

There was an ad for WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans. I'll be there. It's 70 days away.

The Cena/Orton video package aired because that match is up next.

The WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton entered the ring first. I like it better when the champion enters last. John Cena's in his new shirt that has neon green in it. He needs to buy more cars, kids. Buy all the shirts! The next PPV is Elimination Chamber on February 23 in Minnesota, by the way.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton vs. John Cena

The crowd was chanting for Daniel Bryan when the bell rang. Then they went into the "let's go Cena/Cena sucks" chant. They were working a really slow pace in the first few minutes with Orton busting out his chinlock. Cena almost applied the Boston Crab, but Orton kicked him away. Orton with a suplex. The crowd chanting different things like "Y2J" as well as "Randy Savage" and also "boring" that was completely ignored by the announcers. Cena gave Orton a clothesline that sent him over the top to the floor. Outside the ring, Orton whipped Cena shoulder first into the steps. There's another "Daniel Bryan" chant. Orton with a DDT. Cole kept saying it was "electric" every time they would chant something they didn't really like. Orton did a pose on the ropes, so Cena took him down. Cena hit his shoulder blocks and spinning slam, but Orton came back with a powerslam for two. Cena hit his full nelson into a neckbreaker for two. Did Lawler just say Cena hasn't done that before? He's done it all the time since he came back from injury in October. Cena jumped off the top rope and hit a leg drop to the back of Orton's head for two.

Orton came back with a backbreaker at the 10 minute mark. Cena gave Orton a back body drop over the top to the floor. Orton hit a DDT with Cena's legs hanging off the apron, so Cena's head went crashing into the mat on the floor. That led to a two count for Orton. The counters continued as Cena applied the STF, but Orton made it to the ropes. They did a spot leading to a ref bump where Orton's feet accidentally knocked him down. Cena put Orton in the STF and he tapped out. The doctor checked on ref Charles Robinson. Orton capitalized by hitting Cena in the head with the WWE Championship. The referee recovered enough to count the pin, but Cena kicked out at two. I think the crowd is chanting "this is awful" at this point. Orton was stunned by the kickout, so Cena came back with an Attitude Adjustment and Orton was able to kick out at two. Orton hit the RKO. He covered for just two. They both kicked out of the other guy's finisher. Orton wanted the Punt, Cena moved and that led to Orton applying the STF on Cena. It didn't look like it was locked in perfectly, but close enough. Cena countered into a Crossface submission. Orton put Cena on his shoulders and hit the Attitude Adjustment for two. Of course when Cena got back up he hit the RKO on Orton and that was good for a two count. We're at 20 minutes now.

Cena wanted to do an AA off the middle rope, but Orton fought out of it. Cena hit a Tornado DDT. Then Cena applied the STF. As he had it locked in and Orton was ready to tap out, the music of the Wyatt Family started up. The lights went out. When the lights came back on, the three Wyatt Family members were on the apron. Cena was distracted, so Orton hit the RKO. He covered and Orton won after 21 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Randy Orton

Analysis: *** The match wasn't as bad as the crowd thought. They're just sick of Cena vs. Orton as am I. Can you blame them? We've seen enough (or Cena nuff). They really went all out with the finishers with each guy kicking out of the other's finisher and then they even hit the other guy's move. They really tried to do so many nearfalls, but I thought it was a bit much. It was still a good match at three stars out of five. Just not great or anything we haven't seen from them.

Post match, Harper & Rowan destroyed Cena with Harper hitting his vicious clothesline. Wyatt hit the Sister Abigail on Cena. The crowd was chanting "yes" for it. Cole said nobody was expecting this. If you read about wrestling online then you would because Wyatt vs. Cena is a rumored WrestleMania match. Now it's confirmed. After the Wyatt Family left, they showed replays and then Cena stumbled his way to the back.

Analysis: Good post match attack to set up a new feud and elevate Wyatt into a role as a top guy. I think this feud has a lot of potential. The worry is fans will cheer Wyatt as they did here. People are sick of Cena, but they will keep him face and have to try to make him a sympathetic underdog trying to deal with three guys in the Wyatt Family.

The WWE Network arrives in 29 days.

The New Age Outlaws were interviewed by Renee Young and they showed a clip of the finish with Gunn hitting the Fameasser. Road Dogg bragged about the 14 years between their title reigns and said they were headed to a party, but Renee wasn't invited. Billy's two words were "new champs" and they left.

There were some promos for the Royal Rumble match. We heard from the following people: The Miz, Jimmy & Jey Uso, Big E Langston, Fandango, Batista, Damien Sandow, Ryback and Rey Mysterio.

The panel went over their Royal Rumble picks again. Duggan went with Ziggler, Michaels went with CM Punk and The Shield (he picked four people) and Flair went with Batista.

Justin Roberts went over the rules for the Royal Rumble match. As we know, CM Punk is the #1 entrant.

Royal Rumble Match

CM Punk entered the match at #1. In at #2 is Seth Rollins. Good choice since he's one of the best workers in the company. Running kick by Rollins as Cole called him the "architect" of The Shield. Punk hit his running knee in the corner, then Rollins hit a kick and then Punk did one. They were both down as #3 is Damien Sandow. That's why Khali was laughing. The heels worked together to try to eliminate the babyface Punk. Punk hit a nice neckbreaker/DDT combo. It's Cody Rhodes at #4. He hit Cross Rhodes on his old rival Sandow. They paired off with Punk giving Sandow a back body drop over the top to the floor to eliminate him. Sandow lasted about two minutes. The #5 entrant is Kane, who wasn't listed in the match, but there were many spots available. He was wearing black dress pants as he wrestled. He went right after Punk with a clothesline and a sidewalk slam. Punk gave Kane a roundhouse kick and dumped him over the top to the floor. Kane lasted about 80 seconds (assuming these entrances are 90 seconds). The Bulgarian NXT performer Alexander Rusev was in at #6. He's a power wrestler that was destroying everybody. He went after everybody and hit a nice fallaway slam on Punk. Jack Swagger of the Real Americans is #7. He hit a Swagger Bomb on Rollins and on Rhodes as well. Rusev stared at him, they exchanged punches and Rusev hit a body attack on Swagger. Kofi Kingston is #8 as he went right after Punk. Kingston is a close friend of Punk outside the ring (watch the Punk DVD to see that). There wasn't a whole lot happening as the six guys in the ring were all standing by the ropes. Jimmy Uso is #9 and he hit a full nelson bomb on Rollins. The #10 man in is Goldust. His brother Cody is still in there.

There were 8 guys in the ring since Kane and Sandow were the only two eliminated in the first third of the match. A bunch of babyfaces worked together to eliminate Rusev. Kingston was on the apron. Punk gave him a forearm shot. Kofi landed in the arms of Rusev. Following that, Rusev placed Kingston on the barricade. Refs stopped him. Kingston ran across the barricade and jumped onto the apron. There's your annual Kingston save spot. Very impressive. The #11 entrant is Dean Ambrose, who ran in from the regular entrance rather than going into the ring via the crowd. Dolph Ziggler is in at #12 with a missile dropkick on Ambrose. Crowd chanted "let's go Ziggler" and Hacksaw Jim Duggan probably joined in since Ziggler was his pick. There were a lot of teased eliminations, but nobody went out. The #13 man is R-Truth. Somebody held up a "Jobber" sign right there. Good timing. Right on cue, Ambrose hit a running dropkick on Truth to eliminate him. He lasted about 15 seconds. Jimmy Uso went to the top, but Rollins kicked him in the head and Ambrose shoved him out. The Shield worked together right there. Kingston ripped off Swagger's boot and held on by using his feet along the bottom ropes. He hit Swagger with the boot. Kevin Nash is #14. There's a surprise. He looks to be in great shape and had dark brown hair. He came out to the NWO theme music. Nash immediately eliminated Swagger. The Shield went after Nash, so he only eliminated one person there. The #15 entrant is Roman Reigns, who is the muscle of The Shield as Cole called him. Reigns entered by hitting a leaping dropkick onto Punk while he was on the apron. Reigns hit a Spear on Rhodes. Kingston went after him, but Reigns caught him and dumped him over the top. Ziggler DDT on Reigns. Reigns quickly came back with a Spear and he eliminated Ziggler. Nash charged in, Reigns ducked and out went Nash. That's three eliminations for Reigns.

The #16 man is Great Khali. The Shield quickly worked together and Reigns hit him with a Superman Punch. They dumped Khali out. He was in for about 15 seconds. They were showing Khali replays. Goldust eliminated his brother Cody and then Reigns eliminated Goldust. The Rhodes brothers are out. They didn't show anything after the elimination, but it's been rumored they could do Goldust vs. Cody at WrestleMania. The man at #17 is the returning Sheamus, who has been out with a shoulder injury for the past five months. It wasn't announced that he'd be there, but most of us expected it. Sheamus went after The Shield members while Punk recovered in the corner. Sheamus hit a nice Brogue Kick. The crowd was really into the return of Sheamus. The #18 spot belongs to The Miz, who went after The Shield. He barely got a reaction. Has a former WWE Champion fallen as far and as fast as him in three years? Fandango is in at #19. He just did a quick dance with Summer Rae before entering while the crowd was doing the dance. He almost eliminated Miz, but that didn't work. Then the match died down again. It's #20, so that meant it was time for El Torito. He's in the Rumble instead of Diego and Fernando. He hit some big spots on Rollins as well as Miz. Cole said Torito is the smallest competitor in Rumble history. He ran at Punk, so Punk palmed him by the head and Torito hit a headscissors. Fandango decked Torito, who almost eliminated Fandango. Then a missile dropkick eliminated Fandango. Reigns caught Torito and he threw him over the top onto Fandango to eliminate him. That's 6 eliminations for Reigns.

Antonio Cesaro is #21 and he gave the Cesaro Swing to Miz. He briefly did the swing to Punk, but that didn't last and Cesaro gave the Cesaro Swing to Rollins for at least 25 revolutions. That's what it felt like. Luke Harper is #22. Reigns hit a Spear on Cesaro. Harper didn't do much when he went in there. It's Jey Uso at #23. There were 9 guys in the ring at this point. Huge uppercut by Cesaro on Harper and then Harper hit a huge boot to the face. That would be a fun power match. The #24 spot belonged to JBL, who slowly entered the ring and took off his coat. He told Cole to take his coat. As that happened, he turned his back to Reigns and that led to Reigns eliminating him too. There's another comedy spot in the match. Erick Rowan of the Wyatt family is in at #25 and he went after Miz, who was attacking Harper. Miz couldn't deal with them because Harper hit a huge clothesline while Miz was on the apron and that was the end of Miz.

The man at #26 is Ryback and the crowd was chanting "Goldberg" at him. Sheamus and Cesaro were exchanging forearm shots in the middle of the ring while everybody else was paired up in the corner. Cole mentioned that Punk & Rollins were in there for 40 minutes by now. Alberto Del Rio is #27 and he quickly joined everybody else in fighting in the corners of the ring. The #28 spot belongs to Batista. His ring gear is a bit different than what he had before, but he looks to be in great shape obviously. He eliminated Rowan. Ryback wanted a faceoff, so they went at it until Batista gave Ryback a back body drop over the top rope to eliminate him. Del Rio with a standing side kick to Batista. Batista fought back to eliminate Del Rio, so that's three eliminations for Batista. It's Big E Langston in the #29 spot, so only one more person left. Langston hit some power moves, then paired off with Sheamus. The #30 entrant is Rey Mysterio. Crowd wanted Daniel Bryan, but he's not in the match. Punk went at with Mysterio as they rekindled an old feud and each guy held on.

Sheamus eliminated Langston with a clothesline. 619 by Mysterio to Rollins, but then Rollins came back with a dropkick while Mysterio was on the apron. Reigns hit a Superman Punch on Harper to try to eliminate him. Reigns was celebrating that, so Ambrose tried to eliminate him. Rollins didn't like that. Cesaro tried to eliminate The Shield guys. Reigns ended up eliminating Ambrose, Rollins & Cesaro at the same time. That's 11 eliminations for Reigns, which ties a record.

Final four: Batista, Reigns, Punk & Sheamus. They all hit signature moves on each other. Punk ended up as the last man standing. He stood by the turnbuckle. Kane came out of nowhere, eliminated Punk and assaulted him outside the ring. Kane gave Punk a Chokeslam through the Spanish Announce Table. Good to see the Spanish table broken. That's what it does! I don't like when somebody is eliminated by somebody that's not legally in the match. It plays into the story that Punk is going to have an uphill battle and it will likely lead to a match against Triple H at WrestleMania.

They did a big final three setup with Batista, Sheamus & Reigns staring at each other. Batista hit a powerslam on Reigns. There were fans in the crowd chanting "no" during this. Sheamus wanted the Brogue Kick and the crowd chanted "no" during the setup for it. Batista Bomb attempt, but Sheamus fought out. He was on the apron. Reigns with a shoulder tackle eliminated Sheamus. That's 12 eliminations by Reigns, which a new record. Batista tried to eliminate him, but Reigns held on.

Final two Reigns and Batista had a big staredown. Reigns got the advantage early. Crowd was chanted "Roman Reigns" for him. He wanted the Superman Punch, but that didn't end up happening because he hit a Spear on Reigns. It didn't look that great. Reigns hit a  Spear of his own that looked awesome. They got to their feet, Reigns tried to throw him out, but Batista ended up turning it around and he tossed Reigns over the top to the floor. The match went 57 minutes.

Winner of the Royal Rumble: Batista

After it was over, they replayed a lot of Reigns' eliminations because 12 eliminations is the new record. There were a lot of highlights along the way.

Analysis: *** It was an average Rumble, so I'll give it three stars out of five. The formula is always there for them to hit three stars. There were some cool moments and Reigns was obviously the star of it despite the fact that he wasn't the winner. Batista came in late, only did a couple of eliminations and didn't really look that impressive. It's not like the crowd reacted to him like a top guy. They gave him the reaction of a regular guy who was just back in a match. It was good to see Sheamus again. I've been a fan of his work for a while. With that said, they didn't book him strong enough. CM Punk lasted nearly the whole match, yet he barely had eliminations or memorable moments. He was down on the mat for a lot it. The way he was eliminated will likely lead to a showdown with Triple H in the near future. I think we could also pencil in Punk vs. Kane for Elimination Chamber as a possibility. The Kofi Kingston save spot was fun. The comedy spots with Torito & JBL were just average. Not that funny, really. After Mysterio came in at 30, it was almost as if the air went out of the building because the crowd realized their hero Daniel Bryan wasn't coming in. Hopefully WWE officials listened to that. It was obvious what the fans wanted and who they wanted.

Batista was celebrating the win to end the show. You could definitely hear the booing. Batista pointed to the WrestleMania 30 sign as fireworks went off in the arena. The show went off the air at 10:44pm ET.

Analysis: Like I wrote many times throughout the night, the crowd wanted Bryan. They were rooting for him so hard in the opener and during the Rumble they kept chanting his name or things associated with him like the "yes" and "no" chants. Obviously WWE had other plans. They're likely going with Batista vs. Orton. For the sake of those two guys, they better not put that match on last. Put Undertaker's match last because if they do Batista/Orton at the end the crowd may turn on it. Listen how they reacted to Orton earlier. It's going to happen again at a show like WrestleMania, where a similar "smart" crowd will likely be present. I wish them the best of luck, but I have my doubts that Orton/Batista will garner the kind of crowd reaction that WWE wants them to get.

By the way, you can pencil in Roman Reigns as the 2015 Royal Rumble winner right now.

 

Five Stars of the Show

1. Daniel Bryan - Best match on the show. He should have been in the Rumble.

2. Bray Wyatt - That was the best match of his career. It was a huge night for him. He showed up and delivered. Props to him.

3. Roman Reigns - The biggest star in the Rumble match despite not winning. They are booking him very strong, which will propel him to the top in the next year.

4. CM Punk - Lasted the longest in the Rumble, so have to give him credit for that. Wish he did more in the match.

5. Big Show - Took a beating. Giving him respect for the job he did in making Lesnar look like a monster.

 

Final Thoughts

I'm giving it a 5.5 out of 10.  In terms of predictions, I got the first two matches wrong and the final three correct for a 3-2 record.

It wasn't the best Rumble match ever and the undercard was okay with a really good opener, but the ending was a bit deflating. It was clear what the crowd wanted. WWE wants to do what they want to do and that's a Batista/Orton feud because they think Batista's coming in hot. Listen to the fans, though. They don't really agree and they want Bryan in that spot.

The reaction to that Cena/Orton match was very interesting. Once again, does WWE management really listen to the fans? If they did they would know we're sick of Cena vs. Orton. Now they won't have more matches, but they should have avoided the rematch here too.

Best match was clearly Wyatt vs. Bryan. It was the biggest match of Wyatt's career and he stepped up to the plate to have an excellent match with the best wrestler in the company. While I don't love seeing Bryan do the job, it makes sense for Wyatt to win if they want to put him against Cena.

The Lesnar/Show match was just a vicious beating by Lesnar. A rematch could be happening, but it might not because Lesnar is likely moving onto other opponents with an Undertaker showdown at WrestleMania most likely.  

A four match card. That's what the Royal Rumble is. I'm okay with two singles matches going over 20 minutes and the Rumble coming it at just under an hour. That's what the usual is. Could it have been booked better? Yeah. It was not a bad show. It was slightly above average.

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John Canton - mrjohncanton@gmail.com

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