The 22nd Royal Rumble started a 2009 calendar year that wasn't an amazing one for WWE. I'll always remember 2009 for the parade of guest hosts that would hurt Raw more often than it would help it while Smackdown was a far superior show on a regular basis.
There was some star power missing from this Rumble match with John Cena, Edge, Jeff Hardy, JBL and Shawn Michaels involved in undercard matches while Batista was dealing with one of his many injuries. When you factor all of that in it really wasn't a strong roster at the time. Let's see what went down.
WWE Royal Rumble
January 25, 2009
The announcers for the match are Jim Ross, who was from Smackdown, and Jerry Lawler, who was from Raw. Justin Roberts explains the rules to us. It's 90 second intervals, which has become the usual.
The #1 man is perennial babyface Rey Mysterio with #2 entrant John Morrison, who was in heel mode here. Rey boots him, Morrison picks him up and nearly throws him out, but Mysterio holds on. Rey comes back with a springboard crossbody block followed by headscissors. Morrison hangs on to avoid elimination. Rey dropkicks him, but Morrison still holds on. It's Carlito in the #3 spot, who was tag team champion with brother Primo at this point. He hits a sick neckbreaker on Rey. Morrison nearly throws him out as Carlito hits a springboard moonsault on Morrison. That was pretty sweet from Carlito. He should have done that move more often. The #4 entrant is MVP. He was in his losing streak gimmick, which turned him babyface. He suplexes Rey and hits the Ballin' Elbow on Morrison. He comes back with a facebuster on Morrison. JoMo goes for a kick on MVP, but he moves and he hits Carlito, which leads to MVP kicking Morrison down. Here's The Great Khali at #5, who was now a babyface as JR mentions his 7'3" inch size. All four guys go at him ninja style (that's one by one). He chops them all and slams Morrison down by the arm. Rey hits a dropkick that doesn't work. Carlito goes for the Back Stabber on Khali, which doesn't even work and the crowd basically laughs at him. Khali hits the Punjabi Plunge on Carlito.
It's time for another big guy as the "Moscow Mauler" Vladimir Kozlov is #6. He overpowers Khali, hits him with a boot and clotheslines him out. MVP charges in with his kick, he misses Kozlov and gets thrown out over the top. Kozlov goes to throw Carlito out, but he hangs on. Kozlov drops him quickly with a stiff spinebuster. Kozlov throws Carlito out, which leaves us with three. He gets a knee on Rey, but he can't throw him out. He headbutts Rey in the gut. It's all about "The Game" Triple H at #7, who was in babyface Hunter McMahon mode. They were feuding on Smackdown around this time. Kozlov puts him down with a headbutt to the gut. Face crusher by Triple H followed by a crotch chop and he throws out Kozlov. Hunter hits the running knee on Morrison as "I Hear Voices" plays and we've got Randy Orton in at #8, who goes right for Triple H. JR quickly states that Orton's never won the Rumble. HHH goes for Pedigree on Orton, but Morrison counters with a kick and Rey hits a seated senton onto Orton. Rey gets the 619 onto Morrison as everybody is down. The Cryme Tyme music starts up as they flip a coin and JTG wins it to be #9 thanks to a two headed coin. Mysterio nearly eliminates Orton as JR mentions again that the winner of the match goes onto WrestleMania to compete for a title in the main event. It's Ted Dibiase at #10, who was affiliated with Randy Orton in Legacy. Morrison and JTG avoid elimination. Mysterio nearly eliminates Dibiase.
It's Chris Jericho as a heel in the #11 spot. He was the 2008 Superstar of the Year, which was well deserved. Jericho hits the bulldog on HHH and then misses a Lionsault because he always misses. Hunter counters the Walls of Jericho as Chris hangs on to avoid elimination. The bearded monster Mike Knox is #12, who goes after JTG, Morrison and then Mysterio. The action is about as exciting as a Mike Knox promo, which isn't a good thing by the way. The Miz is #13, who is one half of the World Tag Champs with Morrison. A heel of course. He hits the running clothesline in the corner on HHH and Rey. Morrison uses Rey as a battering ram while Orton hits a RKO on Morrison, Miz and JTG. Crowd reacts huge to those. Then HHH hits a Pedigree on Orton. Hunter throws Morrison into Miz and they both get eliminated. Mysterio gets thrown out, then he climbs on to Miz and Morrison and the steps to avoid elimination. That was creative! Finlay is #14 in babyface mode to the Hornswoggle music. Orton and Dibiase double team Finlay. The other Legacy member Cody Rhodes is #15 as they work together to beat on a variety of different people. Rey hits a springboard, but Orton catches him mid-air and Orton hits a RKO. JR totally misses it while Lawler points it out. They show the replay. That was very cool.
The lights go out for #16 as the gong hits and The Undertaker walks out. Everybody in the ring stops while Undertaker goes nuts, punching and kicking everybody. He throws out JTG. Undertaker hits the Snake Eyes and boot to the face of Cody Rhodes. There's Goldust at #17 who goes for Dibiase right away. There's the showdown with his brother Cody. Goldust decks him with punches, but Cody hangs on to avoid elimination. Once again Cody hangs on. Orton walks up to Goldust to hit the RKO. I think that's five now. Orton instructs Cody to eliminate Goldust, so Cody throws him out. Randy shakes his hand. It's babyface CM Pulk at #18, who was the IC Champ at the time. He hits kicks and knees on just about everybody, ending it with a bulldog on Jericho. He hits the Go To Sleep on Triple H. That was nice. Undertaker hits a big boot on Punk. Mark Henry is #19 as Lawler asks: "Who could ever throw him over the top rope?" Yes. They say it every year. It's amazing. More ninja style attacks with the small guys bouncing off him. He hits a clothesline on Undertaker. He's a heel here, managed by Tony Atlas. There are 11 or 12 guys in there. Henry dominates everybody, but he can't eliminate Punk or anybody else. It's the Gold Standard, the US Champion, Shelton Benjamin at #20. He hits Paydirt on Finlay. Meanwhile, Jericho and Punk are fighting on the top rope as Benjamin leaps to the top rope, hitting a double Paydirt on both guys. That was sweet. Benjamin hits a spin kick on Henry as Triple H nearly eliminates Punk.
The final third of the match sees William Regal, as a heel, in at #21. He's managed by Layla at this time. We don't get any shots of her ass, sadly. Mark Henry, the perpetual threat to win, eliminated nobody and got thrown out in only 3 minutes. Mysterio pulled the rope down as Henry went flying out. Here's Kofi Kingston, who was still Jamaican (or Jafaican) here, is a babyface at #22. He hits the Boom Drop on Knox, who is still in the match for some reason. The ring is very full right now as JR points out Mysterio has been in there for 33 minutes. Undertaker spine-busters Benjamin down and then throws him out. We have Kane at #23, who the announcers point out has the record for most eliminations in a year ever with 11 in 2001. They say it every year…as they should. Kane takes down a lot of people as we have 12 or 13 guys in there now. I'm not counting. Undertaker's bleeding by the way, which was not a common thing for WWE at this point. Kane and Undertaker hit a double chokeslam on Dibiase. Then Kane hits one on Kofi. CM Punk pulls Regal out of the ring to eliminate him. What's Up for #24 R-Truth, who goes right after Triple H. There are a group of guys trying to get rid of Kane, but he's able to hang on. The ring is very full as we have a shocker at #25 Rob Van Dam. He only made a one night appearance as everybody in the ring stops. The crowd went nuts for him since he's from Michigan. He dominates the match as JR throws in his usual "educated feet" comment that we've come to know and love. He goes for the Five Star Frog Splash, but HHH charges at him so he leaps over him and hits a kick.
We have The Brian Kendrick at #26, who was "managed" by Ezekiel Jackson. Kofi gets eliminated by Kendrick and then HHH throws out Kendrick immediately. He lasted 15 seconds. The crowd keeps chanting for RVD. It's Dolph Ziggler at #27 in his "Hi I'm Dolph Ziggler" gimmick. He celebrates being in the ring as he extends his hand to Kane. He whips him into the ropes and Dolph is eliminated. Here's the king of the unibrow Santino at #28 and Kane immediately clotheslines him out. That was 1 second. He gets the official record for shortest elimination, beating the Warlord's 2 second record. Congrats for that. HHHHHHHHOOOOOOO for #29 Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who won the first Rumble ever in 1988. The crowd loves him of course. Everybody sells punches for him, even Undertaker and Kane, much to my shock. The last entrant is Big Show at #30, who is in heel mode here. Everybody watches Big Show as Undertaker has a faceoff with him only for Kane to walk in with a punch.
I'm not sure how many are in the ring, but it looks to be 15 or so. Big Show slowly throws Duggan out. Punk avoids elimination. Big Show press slams R-Truth and throws him out of the ring. Cody manages to dangle to avoid elimination. Punk keeps hanging on, which was a common trend in the match. Big Show keeps trying to throw him, but he can't. Eventually he just KO's Punk and he's eliminated. Mysterio and Knox both get dumped out by Big Show. Hornswoggle enters the ring. Oh great. He saves Finlay from a Kane attack for a minute, but Finlay gets backdropped out by Kane. Jericho hits the Codebreaker on Kane. RVD hits a leaping kick onto Show to stumble him. Orton hits the DDT off the middle ropes. Here's the Undertaker/Show faceoff again. They throw punches. RVD hits a Five Star Frog Splash, then he stumbles around and Jericho throws out RVD. Jericho hits a Codebreaker on Undertaker, who stumbles back into the ropes and he manages to throw out Jericho. Good elimination. The Legacy boys eliminate Kane.
The final six is HHH, Undertaker, Big Show, Orton, Rhodes and Dibiase. Show hits a chokeslam on Triple H while Legacy triple teams Undertaker. Big Show looks very winded here. Undertaker punches them all down, then he hits chokeslams on all three Legacy guys in succession. With everybody down he has another showdown with Show as the crowd chants for Undertaker. They exchange blows, Undertaker hits the boot and the clothesline. Undertaker boots Big Show in the head, but the big man holds the ropes to hang on. Undertaker tries to throw him out. Show pulls Undertaker over the top rope. They have a choke-off on the apron. Orton hits a RKO on Show on the top rope, which eliminates him. Big Show pulls Undertaker out to eliminate him even though he was on the floor. They go fighting into the crowd.
The final four is Triple H, Randy Orton, Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes. So it's the babyface Triple H versus three guys in the Legacy stable. They triple team him to the point where HHH is helpless as Orton slaps him in the face. Hunter counters the RKO by shoving him into the turnbuckle. He hits a facebuster on Rhodes followed by a Spinebuster on Dibiase. Orton nearly gets eliminated, but he hangs on. HHH hits a Pedigree to Rhodes. He throws Dibiase out. He throws Rhodes out. Right after Triple H throws Cody out, he gets thrown out by Orton. That was a well done finish. Great timing by all of them.
Winner: Randy Orton
The match ended at 58:38.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
- The match was average and I'd consider it the worst one of the 2000s. At no point did they crank it up into second gear and have an amazing match. It was the same kind of thing as the year before when they loaded the ring up with too many people at once. I've never been a fan of Royal Rumbles having 15 guys in the ring at once. It's better if the max is around 10 or so because you can see everything, the eliminations mean more and the flow leads to a better all around match.
- Orton was the first heel to win the Rumble since Vince won it in 1999, which was 10 years earlier. He was the right choice because they wanted to establish the dominance of the Legacy group, which was fairly new at this point. I believe that this performance did elevate the group, so it was effective in that sense.
- The crowd popped huge for RVD, who was a legitimate surprise after being out of WWE for a few years. He looked to be in great shape. I thought it would lead to a permanent return for him. Instead it was a one time thing.
- I was really disappointed that Jericho didn't have a bigger role in the match. He was the Superstar of the Year in 2008 and he should have had a bigger impact here. He was in the ring for 37:17, he eliminated only one person in RVD and he did nothing else of relevance. That's a waste of an incredible talent.
- The Santino elimination was the fastest in Rumble history. Don't blink or you might miss it.
FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Triple H at 49:55
Most Eliminations: Triple H and Big Show with 9.
Best Performers (3): Randy Orton – The RKO was over huge as usual. He didn't shine too much.
Triple H – Solid work, but never spectacular. Kind of like this match.
Rey Mysterio – He was never a threat to win, but he flew around the ring making everybody look good like usual.
Best Elimination: Undertaker eliminating Jericho after Jericho hit him with the Codebreaker was fantastic. Also props to Santino for being eliminated in just one second. Classic.
Match Rating: ***
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 Mysterio
2007 Royal Rumble won by Undertaker
2008 Royal Rumble won by John Cena
The 2010 Royal Rumble had a similar feel to 2008 in that a returning superstar that wasn't advertised ended up returning to win the match. You think you know him? We'll find out next time.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org