It just means more when it’s at Madison Square Garden. In 2008 the Royal Rumble returned to The Garden for the first time in eight years. We would determine the #1 contender for Wrestlemania with a wide open, star-studded field. Who would it be? Undertaker? Shawn Michaels? Triple H? Batista? Could someone come out of nowhere to win it all?
The Rest of the Card:
-Ric Flair defeated Montel Vontavious Porter in a Career Threatening Match
-John “Bradshaw” Layfield defeated Chris Jericho by disqualification
-Edge defeated Rey Mysterio to retain the World Heavyweight Championship
-Randy Orton defeated Jeff Hardy to retain the WWE Championship
In a change, Michael Buffer is our ring announcer. Thought that was a cool touch. I wonder if this had something to do with their deal with NBC, because his only other appearance was on a Saturday Night’s Main Event.
There are a ton of announcers: Jim Ross, Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, Jonathan Coachman, Joey Styles, and Tazz.
#1 is The Undertaker, #2 is Shawn Michaels. Damn. That fires me up every time. They trade blows with both men narrowly avoiding elimination. Santino is #3. He gets hit with Sweet Chin Music and then tossed by Undertaker. Shawn sneaks up on Taker and tries to eliminate him but can’t do it. The Great Khali is #4. This is a hot Garden crowd, everyone is getting a reaction. Khali hits his Brain Chop but ends up getting eliminated by Undertaker. Shawn again tries to eliminate Taker from behind but fails.
Hardcore Holly is #5. He’s part of the reigning World Tag Team Champions with Cody Rhodes. John Morrison, co-holder of the WWE Tag Team Championship with The Miz, is #6. #7 is Tommy Dreamer. #8 is Batista. Damn, big guns in the match early. He tosses Dreamer. #9 is Hornswaggle. This is part of the awful storyline where he was revealed to be Vince McMahon’s son. He hides under the ring. #10 is Chuck Palumbo. Had forgotten he was still around at this point.
Jamie Noble is #11. He’s eliminated by Palumbo after about 30 seconds. CM Punk is #12, he manages to eliminate Palumbo with a High Knee. #13 is Cody Rhodes. #14 is Umaga. He eliminates Hardcore Holly with the Samoan Spike. #15 is Snitsky. #16 is The Miz. Shelton Benjamin is out #17 and is eliminated almost immediately by Shawn Michaels with a Sweet Chin Music.
#18 is Jimmy Snuka. Crowd goes wild for him. This is before they had overdone the legend entrants. He Headbutts everyone. #19 is Roddy Piper, who had recently overcome cancer. Him and Snuka get into it. Kane is #20. He immediately dumps Piper and Snuka. Undertaker Chokeslams Shawn Michaels as Carlito enters #21. He hits the Back Stabber on Punk. Mick Foley is #22. First time he had entered the Rumble since 1998. He looks bad here. Much thinner and moves better today.
#23 is Mr. Kennedy. Big pop for him despite being a heel. #24 is Big Daddy V. Undertaker eliminates Snitsky, but then catches a Sweet Chin Music and is eliminated. And then Kennedy dumps Michaels from behind! Taker and Michaels both gone at this point in the match was a shocker. Really wish they’d let them hang around into the final stage.
#25 is Mark Henry. Miz is hanging over the ropes when Hornswaggle appears from under the ring to pull him out and eliminate him. #26 is Chavo Guerrero, the ECW Champion. Kane eliminates John Morrison with a Big Boot. Hornswaggle reemerges and gets dragged into the ring by Mark Henry. That leads Finlay to run down and attack Henry and Big Daddy V with his shillelagh. Finlay then takes Hornswaggle to the back. The announcers eventually report that Finlay was entrant #27 and was disqualified for using a weapon. Pretty sure that’s the only disqualification in Rumble history.
#28 is Elijah Burke. Triple H is #29. He tosses Cody Rhodes. Then Big Daddy V! Him and Foley exchange blows in the middle of the ring to a big pop. Triple H eliminates both Foley and Elijah Burke. The mystery sets in as to who is #30. I was convinced it was Hulk Hogan. That would have been a magic moment, but what we got instead was even better.
It’s John Cena. Who was injured in October and supposed to miss nine months. Instead he’s back in three months and ready for a fight. He gets an absolutely massive pop. And then after about a minute the smart marks remember they’re supposed boo Cena. He tosses Carlito and Chavo. Then Mark Henry. Batista returns to the ring to eliminate Mr. Kennedy. Then Umaga. We’re down to four: Cena, Triple H, Batista, and Kane. Triple H and Batista toss Kane. Huge pop for the three way face off between maybe the three top guys in WWE at this point.
Batista with a Spinebuster on Cena, then another on Triple H. Cena counters a Batista Bomb attempt and Triple H eliminates Batista with a Clothesline. I think we get our first ever pointing at the Wrestlemania sign. Cena goes for the AA, but that’s countered into a Pedigree attempt. Cena slips out of that. They do a couple more AA/Pedigree counters ending with Cena hitting Triple H with the AA over the top rope to the floor.
Rating: ***½. Good, but not great. The first part with Undertaker and Michaels was great. And the end with Cena returning was awesome. But the middle part of the match was pretty dull other than the Piper and Snuka surprises. Too many people in the ring for too long, not enough memorable eliminations.
Cena decided he didn’t want to wait until Wrestlemania to get his shot at Orton and instead was granted his shot at No Way Out. Orton retained the title after striking the referee to intentionally get himself disqualified. On that same show, Triple H won an Elimination Chamber match to be the #1 contender at Wrestlemania. The next night on Raw, Cena was given a rematch with Orton where if he won he would be added to the Wrestlemania match. He did win, making the match Orton vs. Triple H vs. Cena for the WWE Championship. Orton won the match retain the title.
Over on Smackdown, Undertaker won an Elimination Chamber Match at No Way Out to earn the right to face Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania. Undertaker won, becoming World Champion for the sixth time.