The 20th Royal Rumble occurred in San Antonio, Texas – the hometown of arguably WWE's best wrestler ever: Shawn Michaels. His buddy Triple H was out with injury, so Michaels went into the match as a heavy favorite.
The other favorite was The Undertaker, who had never won a Rumble match before. For this write-up I'm using my original copy that I did in 2007 with a few small edits thrown in. I went through it, I think it covers everything very well and it's very detailed as usual. Let's get to it.
WWE Royal Rumble
January 28, 2007
San Antonio, Texas
The announcers for the match are Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield as a heel and Jerry Lawler. The intervals are 90 seconds, or so they say.
The #1 entrant is Ric Flair, #2 is Finlay. I may be wrong, but these two are probably the oldest guys in the match. #3 is Kenny "Don't call me Lenny" Dykstra. There's the youngest guy. The early stages are always slow. #4 is Matt Hardy. None of these people are winning, of course. Dykstra's close to being eliminated, but he hangs on. #5 is Edge, who immediately comes in to spear Flair and Finlay. He's an established main event level heel now. Hardy gives him a Twist of Fate and then Kenny takes out Matt with a clothesline. Flair's out on the floor through the bottom rope and he brings in a couple chairs. That doesn't work. Edge tosses Flair out. Dykstra celebrates with him, so Edge tosses Dykstra out.
Tommy Dreamer is #6. Mild ECW chant starts, which explains how the fans feel about ECW by this point. The #7 man in the match is Sabu, who takes out a table and places it outside the ring because he wants to go through it. He goes for Dreamer, immediately messing up a DDT spot. That's Sabu for ya. The #8 guy is Gregory Helms complete with the worst theme music maybe ever by saying his own name at the start of it. Could you imagine if everybody had music like that? Horrible idea. He of course goes after Hardy. The six guys all pair off in corners of the ring, which leads me to think that a big guy's coming in soon to clear it of some people. In at #9 is Shelton Benjamin, a favorite of mine. Too bad he's the most underused guy on the roster. There's the big guy I was talking about since Kane is the #10 man. Huge powerslam on Helms, chokeslam on Edge and there goes Dreamer landing on his head like always because he's nuts. Sabu charges at Kane, Kane puts him over the top but he's on the apron. Ooh, chokeslam through the table. Sabu is gone.
In at #11 is CM Punk, another favorite of mine. He was an ECW guy at this point and I wasn't too thrilled about that at this point in his career. Things would get better, of course. The man at #12 is King Booker and he quickly eliminates Helms leaving seven guys in the ring. In at #13 is Super Crazy, who JBL claims worked as his doorman in New York. I love JBL the announcer. Here comes Jeff Hardy at #14 without his usual dance because he's SERIOUS I guess. I bet he's high, though. Got to be consistent. The Hardys work together on a bunch of people. The man at #15 is the Sandman. He canes both Hardys and Super Crazy, but Booker comes over and tosses him over the ropes. I don't think he lasted more than ten seconds. Can we give him the Bushwhacker award for that effort?
The #16 man is Randy Orton. Orton & Edge, known as Rated RKO, quickly eliminate Super Crazy together. Orton eliminates Matt and Edge eliminates Jeff at the same time. JBL mentions how a year earlier if Orton survived a hurricanrana he'd have gone to WrestleMania last year instead of Mysterio. Of course Orton went there anyway in the same World Title match as Mysterio, so that's not the greatest point in the world. Chris Benoit is #17 and he's as good as anybody at being on fire with a lot of fast paced offense. Lots of German suplexes. I always wanted to see a Punk vs. Benoit feud. We never got it. #18 is Rob Van Dam as JBL mentions that six former World Champions are in the ring. There goes Booker at the hands of Kane. Booker comes back in, hits the scissors kick on Kane and then clotheslines him over the top to eliminate Kane. I guess they need to have some storylines for No Way Out. The man at #19 is Viscera. Nothing much happens as it's time for Johnny Nitro to come in as #20. Benjamin's holding on the bottom rope as both of his feet are barely off the floor.
There's Kevin Thorn at #21 to make the ring even more full. I'm guessing Undertaker or Khali is soon to clear the ring now. We've hit the 30 minute mark now. They replayed the Benjamin spot to show how awesome he is. The #22 guy is Hardcore Holly to make it 11 guys now. JBL says he's from LA - Lower Alabama. Everybody's ganging up to take Viscera out. The biggest pop of the match comes for San Antonio's own Shawn Michaels at #23. Thesz Press! Stone Cold! No, it's still HBK. There goes Finlay (after 32 minutes) with a clothesline. Michaels superkicks Viscera, then everybody tosses the fat man out. Big back body drop for Benjamin from Michaels to send Shelton out of there. The #24 man is Chris Masters. There goes Johnny Nitro courtesy of Benoit. Rated RKO works on Michaels of course. Oooooh Chavo, here's Chavo as #25 in the match. I like that song. Benoit takes Thorn out of the match with just five more guys left to enter the match.
In at #26 is MVP, who can finally wrestle in his regular outfit. I guess the burns are okay now. Masters gets eliminated by a dropkick from RVD. Cole mentions RVD has made the final six in all of his Rumble appearances. Stop calling people extremists! It sounds horrible. The #27 man is Carlito as Cole notes that four men have won from that number in the past, more than any other number. There are eleven guys in there. Two of the final three are Khali and Undertaker, keep in mind. The crowd goes nuts as HBK tries to hang on again. He's by far the most over guy in this match. The man at #28 is The Great Khali while the Khali cam kicks in shooting from his feet up to his chest. LOOK AT HIS SIZE! Vince is having a joygasm backstage. Everybody in the ring stops to try to confront him. Of course they do it ninja style by going one at a time at the guy. Orton sells the best. Khali chucks out Holly. #29 is The Miz. He's gone right away. I bet $2,000 on him. No dinner for me tomorrow! (That's an original joke from 2007. Four years later he's WWE Champ!) Then Khali chucks out five guys. Those that are left are Michaels, MVP, Orton, Edge and Khali. The man at #30 is The Undertaker. Nobody has ever won at #30. There's just six left. Everybody's dead out there except for Khali as Undertaker punches away at him. Crowd is going nuts for this, cheering for every punch. Undertaker punches him against the ropes and hits a stiff clothesline to eliminate Khali. Five left now. Old school clothesline to MVP. He gets tossed by the Deadman.
Final four are Undertaker, Edge, Orton and Michaels. MVP gets a chair, Orton takes it from him and he drills Undertaker in the head with it. He turns his back to Edge, who goes to spear Orton. Randy turns around to almost drill him with the chair. They argue. RKO on Michaels, who falls out to the floor under the bottom rope. Rated RKO go after Undertaker, who is busted open from the chair shot. He manages to overpower them, hitting all of his clotheslines. There's a double clothesline. Snake eyes to Edge, then the big boot. Undertaker is working his ass off tonight. Edge spears Undertaker just as he was about to chokeslam Orton. Michaels is still on the floor. Sick chair shot by Edge on Undertaker. He grabs another chair to set him up for the conchairto. Michaels back up, back body drop sends Orton out and Michaels hits a superkick to send Edge out! Michaels and Undertaker are left with each of them lying prone on the mat.
Undertaker sits up, Michaels kips up. What a cool spot and moment that was. Crowd is going nuts for all of this. Hell in a Cell #1 flashbacks! Typical big man/little guy spots here. Corner whip, HBK does his flip up to the top of the turnbuckle. Undertaker charges, Shawn ducks and the boot sends him on the apron. He fights Shawn off as they both get back in. Neckbreaker by Michaels. The final two men are the biggest in the history of WWE, according to Cole. That's arguable and disagreeable in a lot of ways, but at least in terms of longevity they are certainly up there. Undertaker boots him down. He goes to suplex him out, but Shawn grabs a headlock on the apron. He goes up top, Undertaker follows and wants to toss him out to the floor, but that doesn't work. Shawn ends up hitting the elbow drop. Superkick...no, Taker caught him. Chokeslam. Tombstone...no...Sweet Chin Music knocks the big guy down. Another prone on the mat spot. This is the longest final two man spot in the history of the Rumble, I'm pretty sure. Michaels goes for the superkick, but Undertaker ducks it and lifts him over the top for the elimination. Undertaker wins the Royal Rumble for the first time in his career.
Winner: The Undertaker
Good post match with Michaels looking frustrated and Undertaker nodding to him. Crowd is very appreciative of what they just saw.
The match ended at 56:18.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
- I remember going into this Rumble not knowing what to really expect. They had advertised it as the most star studded Rumble ever although I don't think it can really compare to the star power that existed in the 2001 or 1992 Rumbles. They ended up delivering the goods, though. All aspects of it were booked well with Edge being the guy that lasts the longest that ends up falling short, Khali getting the typical big man spots and as I will say many times the best final two spots in the history of the match. All of it led to an exceptional match.
- You can't talk about this match without talking about the ending sequence. It was just really cool, especially if you're any kind of WWE historian considering how much Michaels and Undertaker have meant to the company. Neither guy is the draw that an Austin, Rock or Hogan were, but their longevity and loyalty to the company set them apart from all the rest. That's why it was a cool moment when they were the last two in the match, lying there all alone. Their one on one showdown lasted about eight minutes, which is the longest of any final showdown in Rumble history. Either guy could have taken it. Even though the fans wanted Michaels to win it in his hometown it's not like they made a bad choice in giving it to Undertaker.
- I've never been a huge Undertaker fan, but it's not like I hate the guy either. When he's in there with the right people, like a Michaels, he's at his absolute best. I don't like seeing him against the big clods like Khali or Henry. He's much better with the smaller guys that bounce off him like pinballs. Watching the 8 minutes with Michaels was a preview of the WrestleMania matches they would have at WrestleManias 25 and 26.
- As for Michaels, he was performing at a really high level. I'm pretty sure he was my WWE Wrestler of the Year in 2005 (I didn't have official awards), then he got hurt for much of 2006 and he looked amazing here to start 2007. I remember some were bitching because the last two guys were men in their 40s that are obviously not the future of this company. Maybe they're right, but at least on this night it felt right to see Michaels and Undertaker battle one on one. They proved they deserved it by having maybe the best finish to any Rumble ever. That's why they got that standing ovation. They earned every bit of it.
- When I saw The Miz in this match there was no way to forecast that four years later this guy would be WWE Champion. You have to give him credit for working his ass off to get to that spot.
FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Edge at 44:02.
Most Eliminations: The Great Khali with 7.
Best Performers (3): Edge – He was in the ring the longest, he was in there early and he dominated a lot of the action. He was at the peak of his main event powers.
Shawn Michaels – The hometown guy performed at a really high level like always. This match is typical HBK. He makes everybody better.
The Undertaker – He was the last man in and he only lasted 13 minutes, but he was absolutely on fire. He looked really healthy here, which has always been an issue for him. When he was on his game, though, he was phenomenal.
Best Elimination: Two for one as Michaels took out Orton & Edge in succession. It was a great moment that drew a massive reaction from the crowd.
Match Rating: ****1/4 Loved it. The whole match was well done with the finish being as good as any in the history of the Rumble with the epic Undertaker/Michaels showdown that was very fresh. Second best Rumble.
Ranking the Rumble matches in terms of star ratings:
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
2006 Royal Rumble won by Rey MysterioWho is your pick to win the Royal Rumble match?
The 2008 Rumble had a surprising return that a lot of people weren't expecting.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org