The 19th Royal Rumble came a few months after the death of former WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero. It was a tough period for WWE and its fans because Eddie was such a beloved figure who was a top star for the company upon his death. Due to that it made the winner a bit obvious although that didn't make me any less excited for the Rumble.

I remember watching it with a heavy heart, but also a smile because it made me think of all the great performances Eddie gave us through the years. Let's get to the match.

WWE Royal Rumble

January 29, 2006

Miami, Florida

The announcers are Michael Cole of Smackdown and Jerry Lawler of Raw. Lawler isn't the heel announcer anymore, which makes him very average. Cole was just okay at this point in his career. The intervals are at about 90 seconds. Lillian Garcia is the ring announcer and she botches some of the rules, but she eventually gets it right.

It's Triple H at #1 with Rey Mysterio in the #2 spot. He comes out in a low rider like Eddie Guerrero used to do and he wears an Eddie shirt, which he leaves on the windshield of the car. He's hugely over here. Hunter was a heel here while Rey was as popular as ever because they were mentioning the late Eddie Guerrero a lot, which only helped him in terms of popularity. The crowd chants "Eddie" fairly early. Rey hits a missile dropkick, HHH avoids it and hits a clothesline. We've got the fitness guru Simon Dean at #3 coming out on a segway. He works on Rey, but Rey avoids elimination. Simon thinks he's out, wants a high five from HHH and Rey hits a seated senton leading to both of them throwing him out. Rey takes over and hits a Bronco Buster on HHH. Psicosis of the Mexicools is #4. Great worker, but he never got much of a push in WWE. He goes after Rey and hits a spinning kick on HHH, then he picks up Rey who legdrops HHH in the face. Psicosis hits a spinning facebuster on Rey. He goes for a powerbomb, Rey counters with headscissors and Psicosis gets eliminated. That was a fantastic counter. WOO for #5 Ric Flair, who is in babyface mode. He'll party with you, but his credit card might be declined. Be warned. He had a feud with HHH to end 2005. The crowd is super hot for Flair. He goes after HHH, hitting a backdrop and all of his usual offense. HHH gets the facebuster with the knee, so Flair counters by GRABBING HIS BALLS! WOO! Hunter gives him a thumb to the eye, so Flair does one back. He walks into Hunter and HHH backdrops him out. Flair lasted about 90 seconds as we're back to the two guys. I would have liked to see more Flair in this match.

Well it's a Big Show at #6, who was also feuding with Triple H around this time. Rey has been chilling in the corner during all this. The story was that Triple H broke Show's hand with a sledgehammer, yet here Show is beating on him with the right hand. He headbutts Rey, then he goes for Triple H and hits a side slam. Show hits a bodyslam and a couple of elbows to keep Triple H down. The #7 spot is The Coach, who is in his second straight Rumble. He was announcing on Raw at this point. The crowd starts a "You Suck" chant for him. He goes after Show with a punch, Show grabs him around the neck and shoves him out of the ring. Show hits a press slam on Triple H. A big pop for Bobby Lashley at #8, who was on the verge of a big push. He was undefeated here and you could tell management really wanted to move him up the card rather quickly. Show goes for a chokeslam, but Lashley avoids that and hits a backdrop on Show to put him down. He boots him out of the ring under the bottom rope. He powers Rey down and hits HHH with a shoulderblock. It's one half of the tag champs, Kane at #9. He was the babyface partner of Big Show. He has a showdown with Lashley where neither guy goes down, so Kane just boots him in the face to knock him down. That works. Lashley hits an overhead belly to belly suplex. Lashley hits a press slam on Triple H and then he hit the Dominator on Kane. That was pretty damn awesome I have to say. The #10 guy is Sylvan, who was Smackdown's fashion consultant at this point. This gimmick didn't last very long. He hits Lashley from behind, which wasn't a smart idea as Lashley eliminates him with a hip toss. Double chokeslam by Kane & Show onto Lashley. That was nice. They dump Lashley. That was an impressive 3 or 4 minutes by Lashley. Well booked. Kane and Show start brawling even though they are partners. Kane boots Show, then he chokes him, but Show chokes him back. They both pull down on the rope a bit and Triple H comes up from behind to throw Show & Kane out. We're back to just HHH and Mysterio.

It's Carlito from Raw in the #11 spot. He was a heel who they wanted to push, but they never totally got behind him. Rey misses a moonsault and Carlito counters him to hit the Back Stabber. Triple H eye pokes him. Carlito's able to kick him and punch him down as we wait on the next guy. It's babyface Chris Benoit at #12 to a big pop. Chops for everybody and a release German suplex for Rey. There's a release German suplex for Triple H, Carlito counters one and Benoit puts him in the Crossface, which leads to Carlito tapping. Hunter throws Benoit in, who takes the bump sternum first Bret Hart style. Hunter and Benoit try to suplex eachother while Chris is on the apron, then they fight on the turnbuckle where Benoit headbutts him down and nails the flying headbutt. We've got Booker T. in the #13 spot. Benoit throws him out in 18 seconds even though Booker was the US Champion. Shows how much they cared about that belt. Benoit pairs off with Triple H while Carlito works on Rey. The fresher guys are working over the tired guys. Here's Joey Mercury at #14, who comes out with Melina. It's a shame we don't see Melina's entrance because she was ridiculously hot in these days with the short skirts. Mercury goes after Carlito. Benoit catches Mercury with a German suplex, but he counters with a reverse DDT. It's Tatanka at #15, who is a surprise entrant that's come back from the 90s. He actually hung around for a while after this. I was very shocked that they would bring Tatanka back of all people, but he did have a lot of energy at least. There are six guys in the ring as we reach the halfway point.

It's Johnny Nitro (Morrison) at #16, also of the heel MNM tag team that were the tag champs on Smackdown at this time. Benoit nearly eliminates Hunter, but he's able to slide back in. There's not a whole lot going on, so the crowd starts an "Eddie" chant. We've got Trevor Murdoch at #17, who was not exactly a bodybuilder.  Hunter goes to eliminate Rey, but he's able to hang on once again as he hugs the bottom rope to stay in. He dropkicks Triple H to the knee and hits a seated dropkick to the face. It's Eugene at #18 to a big pop from the crowd. He wants to shake Murdoch's hand, but he punches him a few times and Eugene Hulks Up on Murdoch leading to the Airplane Spin. That tires Eugene out and Rey hits a double bulldog on both guys. It's Road Warrior Animal at #19, who is immediately attacked by MNM, but he counters them with a clothesline and hits a powerslam on HHH. There are some near eliminations, but everybody's able to stay in there. A big pop for Rob Van Dam at #20. He was out since the middle of 2005, so he was very fresh and the crowd chants "RVD! RVD!" for him very loudly. He hits kicks on everybody in the ring. Spin kick on Benoit. Double dropkick on MNM. Eugene starts clapping. Van Dam dumps Animal out.

The #21 spot belongs to Orlando Jordan, who Cole says has plenty to prove. Doesn't everybody? The crowd chants for RVD. He gets a kick to the jaw of Carlito, who nearly gets eliminated, but he's able to hang on. Big pop for Chavo Guerrero at #22, who was a babyface due to the death of Eddie. Big "Eddie" chants as soon as Chavo gets in there. He hits a lovely headscissors on Carlito. Vintage Eddie time as he hits the Three Amigos suplex. To the top, Chavo goes for the Frog Splash, but HHH shoves him out of the ring to huge heel heat. Oh yeah for Matt Hardy at #23, who is in babyface mode. He hits the Side Effect. Super Crazy of the Mexicools is #24. There's not too much action here with the ring piling up. It's getting a little too congested for my liking. Rey nearly gets Carlito out while HHH nearly gets thrown out by Hardy. A massive pop for #25 Shawn Michaels. His main feud at this time was with Vince McMahon. Murdoch charges into Michaels, but Shawn ducks and Murdoch is eliminated. Shawn hangs on when Carlito tries to throw him out.

The final five begins with Chris Masters at #26, who does his full entrance as Vince has a joygasm backstage. He comes in throwing fists. If they really wanted to push him he should have thrown multiple people out right away. Hunter's able to hang on from a Hardy elimination attempt. The World's Largest Love Machine Viscera is #27 as The King wonders who can throw him out over the top rope. I don't know King except for the fact that he loses every year. But that doesn’t matter because he's a threat to win. Samoan Drop on Hardy. Then he jumps on Hardy and does the humping to Hardy. One of the worst moves in the history of wrestling. Hardy goes for a Twist of Fate on Viscera, so Viscera picks him up and throws him out. Now Matt can have grapes. The #28 spot is Shelton Benjamin, who was in heel mode with his "momma" by his side. That gimmick didn't work. Benoit throws out Eugene. Things are really quiet as Shelton Benjamin hits a spin kick on Triple H. Here's a surprise at #29 in the form of Goldust. He hits the atomic drop and clothesline immediately. Triple H nearly eliminates Benjamin, but he hangs on. "Hey hey there's nothing you can say" for Randy Orton in the #30 spot as a heel. He goes after Benoit right away and he eliminates him. RKO on Viscera. The ring is full of dudes. I can't even count. Cole says we're at 50 minutes now.

The team of Masters & Carlito eliminate Viscera. Then Carlito dumps out Masters because he's evil like that. Goldust hits Shattered Dreams on Carlito although that allows RVD to spin kick Goldust out of the match. Jordan works on Orton and Orton is able to eliminate him. Michaels hits the flying forearm on Triple H and an atomic drop, but MNM saves HHH. MNM hits a double Gutbuster on Michaels. Michaels backdrops Mercury, then Nitro charges in, HBK moves, Mercury is out and HBK clotheslines Nitro out to get rid of both MNM guys in succession. Shawn turns around right into a Dragon Kick from Benjamin. There are 7 guys in the match. Right on cue Michaels eliminates Benjamin with a superkick while Benjamin is on the apron. And Benjamin goes flying. Vince McMahon's music starts as he walks out in a suit. No running this year. Running leads to torn quads! Shane McMahon appears from behind and he throws Shawn out of the match. Then he does the Shane O Mac dance just for fun. Michaels chases Shane, HHH tries to Pedigree Shawn, but Shawn fights out and superkicks Triple H. We've got five left. RVD eliminates Carlito with a spin kick.

Final four: Triple H, Orton, RVD and Mysterio. RVD boots Orton down and then along with Rey they hit a double legdrop on HHH followed by a moonsault/Rolling Thunder combo on Orton. That was sweet. RVD to the top, HHH crotches him, Rey charges and HHH propels him into RVD who gets eliminated as Rey accidentally eliminates RVD. Now it's HHH and Orton left with Rey. They double team Rey as the announcers forecast doom for Rey. He manages to hit a double DDT on them. He dropkicks each guy a few times, showing a lot of fight. He sets up both guys for the 619 and hits it. Seated senton on Orton, but HHH comes back with a clothesline as all three guys are down. That was a really good sequence. The "Eddie" chant starts up once again. Orton hits a powerslam on HHH, which Cole now calls a scoop slam because he's an idiot. HHH comes back with a Spinebuster on Orton. Triple H goes for a Spinebuster on Rey, but Rey hooks his legs around him and propels Triple H over the top to the floor. Great elimination. There was a huge pop for that since Triple H was the favorite. After the elimination Triple H was pissed off, so he grabs Rey and throws him into the steel steps before tossing him back into the ring. Orton, who has a head full of hair by the way, realizes Mysterio is out. He picks up Rey slowly, puts him on his shoulder, charges in and Rey hangs on to flip Orton out with a hurricanrana for the win. Fantastic finish.

Winner: Rey Mysterio

The match ended at 62:12.

 

FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS

- The beginning was okay, the middle was below average and the ending was fantastic especially with the final three guys. They really booked it well by setting it up with Rey as the underdog against two dominant heels, yet he overcame the odds to get the win. It's hard to book the smallest guy to go the distance and to win the match, but they did a pretty good job of it. It would have been stupid for him to eliminate 10 guys or some outrageously high number. Eliminating six was fine because it was spread out. He didn't dominate. He just did enough to win.

- Hunter was excellent. You could tell the crowd believed he was going to win. It really makes me miss him as a heel because he was always better as a heel than as a babyface. He portrayed the bully well. He'd be a babyface later in 2006, so this was his last true heel run. This match actually made me want to see Hunter vs. Rey at Mania. Instead we got Cena over Hunter in the main event (so even though Hunter lost here he really got to main event) and the Rey-Angle-Orton triple threat that was way too short for reasons I'll never understand.

-  The Michaels-McMahon feud was okay. I don't think it was ever great at any point. It was just a case of Vince wanting to work with Shawn, I think. The silliness that followed with Shawn teaming with "God" was ridiculous although it set up the return of DX, which a lot of people loved.

- This isn't about the Rumble itself, but the last match on the show was Kurt Angle defeating Mark Henry. I totally forgot that Mark Henry main evented a PPV. I guess that shows why he's always a THREAT TO WIN. The Angle-Undertaker that followed a month after this was fantastic, by the way. Call it ****1/2 or so. I'm off topic, huh? Sometimes I ramble. Can't help myself.

- I was a bit sad watching this show with all the Eddie tributes. Really miss that guy.

 

FACTS & OPINIONS

Person that lasted the longest: Rey Mysterio at 62:12. That's the all-time record.

Most Eliminations: Rey Mysterio with 6.

Best Performers (3): Rey Mysterio - They booked him like the underdog the whole way and he managed to overcome the odds. He really did a fantastic job especially at the end.

Triple H - He really did a good job of not only being the favorite in the match, but also avoiding elimination a lot of different times in a lot of different ways. An awesome 60 minute performance from The Game.

Rob Van Dam - A great comeback for RVD who showed a lot of fire in his return to action. The match really needed his energy in the final third of it.

Best Elimination: I liked Mysterio's elimination of Triple H the best. The crowd reacted to it huge too.

Match Rating: ***1/4 The first third was pretty good, but things dragged way too much in the middle before ending in spectacular fashion.

 

Ranking the Rumble matches in terms of star ratings:

1992: ****1/2

2001: ****

2005: ****

2002: ***3/4

2000: ***3/4

2004: ***1/2

1990: ***1/2

2006: ***1/4

2003: ***1/4

1997: ***1/4

1994: ***

1995: **3/4

1998: **1/2

1988: **1/2

1996: **1/4

1993: **1/4

1991: **1/4

1999: **

1989: **

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Here's a link to previous Rumble recaps:

1988 Royal Rumble won by Hacksaw Jim Duggan

1989 Royal Rumble won by Big John Studd

1990 Royal Rumble won by Hulk Hogan

1991 Royal Rumble won by Hulk Hogan

1992 Royal Rumble won by Ric Flair

1993 Royal Rumble won by Yokozuna

1994 Royal Rumble won by Bret Hart & Lex Luger

1995 Royal Rumble won by Shawn Michaels

1996 Royal Rumble won by Shawn Michaels

1997 Royal Rumble won by Steve Austin

1998 Royal Rumble won by Steve Austin

1999 Royal Rumble won by Vince McMahon

2000 Royal Rumble won by The Rock

2001 Royal Rumble won by Steve Austin

2002 Royal Rumble won by Triple H

2003 Royal Rumble won by Brock Lesnar

2004 Royal Rumble won by Chris Benoit

2005 Royal Rumble won by Batista

The 2007 Rumble had one of the best finishing sequences ever featuring two of the all-time greats. Enough said.

John Canton - mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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