Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the only blog that has as many Royal Rumble eliminations as all the other wrestling blogs combined, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight, as we all take a collective deep breath and plunge into a brand new wrestling year with WWE’s Royal Rumble 2014. Now you and I both know that, while I can talk about New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom until I’m blue in the fingers, this is where we kick off the festivities for the most important time in the wrestling industry every year. The Royal Rumble. The Road to Wrestlemania. The very idea of it drags casual wrestling fans back to their televisions and sets message boards on fire with new users, and it’s hardly any surprise, as things are already started to heat right the hell up. Hell, this show only has four matches on it, and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM COULD MAIN EVENT A PPV EASILY. The culmination of the dramatic Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt feud, a new chapter in the storied Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show rivalry, and a clash between two of the biggest names of this era for the unified WWE championship, and all of that is just the warm up for the most anticipated match of the year itself, the Rumbly, Rumbly, Rumble. But what am I ding sitting here trying to sell it to you? We’ve all seen it, and boy howdy if people don’t ever have some strong opinions about it. Now it’s time to add outs onto the heap.
Cewsh: Well here we are, boys and girls. Nearly a full year has passed since the last Wrestlemania season, and somehow we all managed to drag ourselves through the Summerslog and make it back to the time of year where everything is just a little bit peppier all the way around. I can’t imagine that there will be anyone who will be reading this review who hasn’t enjoyed this wondrous time of the wrestling year for themselves, but just in case this is your first go ’round, it works like this. Starting at the Royal Rumble and going until Wrestlemania, WWE puts on the most interesting storylines, biggest stars and hottest feuds it can possibly think of in order to squeeze every last cent out of the casual fanbase when the big show finally rolls around. As a result, a year’s worth of awesome is usually packed into three short months, making even SMACKDOWN must see tv for a little while. And while we have all of that ahead to enjoy, it all starts here tonight with the most important wrestling match in existence. The Royal Rumble.
30 men enter, 1 man leaves. And regardless of who that man is, he will have a guaranteed match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania. Winning the Rumble is a legendary accomplishment, shared by an incredible collection of the biggest and brightest stars ever to grace the wrestling industry, (and Sheamus.) A win here steers you directly into the Wrestlemania storm, where you’ll sink or swim in front of the biggest audience of wrestling fans ever assembled.
But that’s just one aspect of this show. No, i’m not talking about the other matches. I’m talking about the hallowed CEWSH REVIEWS ROYAL RUMBLE BET. Oh yeah, baby, for the fourth year in a row, our Rumble expert MichaelC will be joining me for the review, and we have each chosen 3 competitors that we are willing to stake our sanity on. To the winner goes everlasting satisfaction and triumph. To the loser goes the punishment of having to review a horrible, horrible show that is chosen by the winner. We’ll get to who we chose a little later on, but just know that while we may seem friendly and amicable, battle lines have most assuredly been drawn. In fact, i’m typing this from within a pillow fort with a “No Michaels Allowed” sign on the front, so you know I mean business.
But we have a ways to go before we get to the real story tonight. So let’s get on with the rest of the show. Michael, what do you have for us?
MichaelC: Rumblings. In which I defend a city, bemoan at bad booking (not what you might think), look at Daniel Bryan from the perspective of someone who isn’t really a fan of his per say, make my favorite Kane/literature reference joke ever, and leave in lots of space for Cewsh to make fun of me.
(Oh and while I sum up the similarities between Orton and Bryan, which will in no way be a dig at your favorite – merely a highlighting of bureaucratic hypocrisy.)
Hope you like! Sorry for the delay!
Cewsh: (Disclaimer: SETTLE DOWN. I can already seem the whole teeming lot of you getting agitated simply by me reminding you of what happened on this show. Believe me, we’re going to address the whole Daniel Bryan thing, and the Brock Lesnar thing, and the Batista thing too. This whole review is going to be chock full of big things waggling all over the place. But before we get to the nuclear levels of outrage, we’re going to sit here and talk about this match because it deserves every second of attention that we can give it.)
It was a calm and peaceful night in Baltimore when the devil first appeared. He arose fully formed from our speculation and our hopes and appeared for the first time in front of the eyes of millions as a simple man. And while those who knew well of his coming had discussed endlessly the possibilities of his rise, for the majority of those watching, this strange man who preached about the end of days was a mystery in a fedora. That mystery quickly turned nightmarish, as this apparition calling itself Bray Wyatt and his adopted family began to wreck havoc across the WWE landscape. And in an era where wrestling has all but done away with supernatural monsters and superpowered heroes, the dark whispers of Bray Wyatt seemed all the more chilling and strange. And one by one before him, the heroes of the WWE fell.
Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan was making his rapid ascent to the top of the card as the hero of the people. He fought past every obstacle placed in his way, defeated everyone who was placed in front of him, and in the match of his life, he defeated John Cena to become the WWE Champion, in a moment that will define his career and enshrine him in the annals of wrestling history. And then with a simple Pedigree, the Authority entered his life and made it a living hell for months on end. But despite their best efforts to demean him and hold him back, Daniel Bryan remained the hero that the people chose, and they cheered him rabidly through the months. He was their hero, THE hero at long last. And unfortunately, that meant his time was up.
From the moment that the Wyatt family attacked Daniel Bryan for the first time, Bray made it clear that this was no accident, and nothing temporary. He wanted to convert Daniel Bryan to his side, to make the very man that the people held their faith and hope in let the devil into his heart. Bryan fought back valiantly, but sustained beating after beating and after months of humiliation and defeat, it seemed he had finally given up. He gave himself to the devil and turned his back on the people who had crowned him. Or so it seemed. A triumphant Wyatt only had a few weeks to crow about his victory until the moment presented itself for Bryan to show his true colors, ripping off his jump suit and leveling Bray with a devastating Busaiku Knee Strike. For one glorious moment, the hero fooled the devil to get close to him, and the people, well, they were pleased.
His pride injured, and his plan foiled, the devil had only one choice left. He would have to fight the hero on the hero’s terms, and show how powerful he truly was. And that finally leads us here.
Now look, this match is fucking ridiculous. It gets about 30 minutes, involves some incredible chemistry between these two, and did I mention it lasts 30 minutes? Not only did this match get all the time in the world, and attention from the announce team that is usually reserved for the main event, but the simple fact that a guy Wyatt’s size was still going at breakneck speed by the end of it is a marvel. And I do mean breakneck speed.
Honestly, this isn’t a match that I even want to detail bit by bit, because it’s so goddamn lovely that it deserves to be enjoyed on it’s full merits. Wyatt looks like a truly dangerous force, Bryan looks incredibly resilient and firey, and the show is stolen so completely that they might as well have just drawn the Rumble winner out of a hat and packed it up from this point on. In fact, I’m guessing that a lot of people wish that they had. Which brings us to the fact that Daniel Bryan lost this match, which seems to be all that people are likely to remember about it. Daniel Bryan, who the crowds loudly cheer for, lost this match and then was not a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble at the end of the night to make up for it.
We’ll deal with the Rumble aspect of this later on. For now, let me be clear. It is absolutely the right decision to put Bray Wyatt over in this match. It’s the right decision to such an extent that it’s weird that we even need to talk about it. You have a white hot babyface who has retained those reactions through wins, losses, screwjobs and side feuds, and you’re putting him in the ring with the hottest up and coming heel in the company. Both are great, both are young, and both have more than earned their spot. Now look at the main event landscape in WWE. More specifically, look at the main event heels. We have Randy Orton, occasional appearances by Brock Lesnar and…nobody. Meanwhile, Sheamus, the Big Show, Batista, CM Punk (well, at the time anyway,) Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry and Rey Mysterio are just twiddling their fucking thumbs on the babyface sideline waiting for somebody to face because Randy Orton can’t feud with 20 people at the same fucking time.
This match was an opportunity to build Bray Wyatt into a force that must be taken seriously, by having him cleanly beat a main eventer who is both beloved and comparatively vulnerable, while also proving that he can carry the load in a main event style match. He passed with flying colors. The sheer value of this completely outweighs the fact that Daniel Bryan didn’t win a match that ultimately won’t even matter to him. WWE successfully built something here in Wyatt, something that we will all benefit from in the long term. It’s just a shame that two rights have somehow made a wrong in the eyes of many.
92 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
MichaelC: Bray Wyatt is a tremendous character that up to this point had not yet translated into match quality. Now there is a (valid) point of view that he didn’t have much chance when facing people like R-Truth, but even so, there remained the niggling doubt that the man’s buckets of charisma didn’t translate into the wrestling ring itself. So there was a great sense of relief in this match. Admittedly, Wyatt was in there with a seasoned pro, but he looked every inch like he belonged in there with such esteemed company, and kept his own end of the bargain in a fine match.Wyatt took the ass kicking people had been screaming out for, but kept on going, like any one of the horror film villains he takes after. And then, once you think he’s down, WHAM! The killer’s blow strikes.
The Wyatt Family gimmick is such a great one it protects the deficiencies of the folk involved. That two of the three are learning quickly on the job can only be to the further success of the group. As for Bray, there is a high glass ceiling for this chap.
(Also, the spider walk is bloody freaky!)
Now, I feel I can put my cards on the table here. I’m not a massive Daniel Bryan fan. This means I feel I can discuss Bryan without being entirely too close to the situation to see how unimportant it is. Even with that said:
1. I think wrestling should be a meritocracy, with folk moving upwards by efforts or downwards for lack.
2. I feel the audience dictates the rise and fall of superstars over the years, and that if someone is to get over with the crowd then the best should be facilitated to make the most out of them. If I still hold a grudge that Raven’s overness in April 2001 was never translated into a push.
So if the fans are behind Bryan – and nearly two years of every bloody arena they visit goes a bit beyond being a smark favorite by now – then we must look at Meltzer’s point from above.
Now let’s ignore the hyperbole in the statement. Given Cewsh once paid for some godawful DVD show, (Cewsh Note: You can read that review here) purely because Orlando Jordan was featured in it, I can well believe folk have gone to shows to see just about any wrestler in existence. Besides, given a PPV in the recent past had to give refunds out over the Daniel Bryan decision on it, and this show turned out the way it did, someone must be buying these things for him. So boo hyperbole.
But then if we take the buyrates of the three shows Bryan main evented last year, they look bad at face value. Summerslam lost 62k buys, Night of Champions lost 14k and the next show (changed names) lost 45k in a year. Hell in a Cell regrouped but then the rushed return of John Cena helped it. However, a buyrate doesn’t happen in a microcosm. (And nor does a main event – an accusatory eye must be placed in the direction of the lengthy and well promoted Punk/Lesnar/Heyman feud, which seems to have drawn as well as me compared to Van Gogh.) And, indeed, it takes two to tango.
So a quick look at other figures, say, the ones from Randy Ortons last significant main event title push. Backlash 2009 lost 18k buys, Judgement Day 24k, (built on Orton v Batista), The Bash lost 18k, Night of Champions lost 6k, Summerslam lost 108k, and the September PPV lost 42k. His previous big title run lost on average 34k buys per show on the previous year, until Rumble season when he became an afterthought to Undertaker/Edge which was a big ratings grabber. (Buyrates also collapsed heavily during Orton’s title run/chase in 2010 and 2011) And this was him feuding with HHH, Batista, Cena, and several other proven draws. (Orton was also known for ages as being TV ratings poison, but given my views on recording those as evidence above, we can gloss over that.) Stats can tell you anything if you look. And these ones are a bit damning against the man Bryan was facing on 2 of his 3 PPVs.
I stress this because, frankly, the only person full time who can push those numbers just now is John Cena. And John Cena wont have that much longer in the ring at the rate he goes. So it is imperative for the WWE to get 100% behind some of the younger guys getting over.
It doesn’t, as we shall see, even need to be Daniel Bryan…
Cewsh: We go backstage where Paul Heyman is talking about how great it will be when Brock Lesnar challenges the winner of John Cena and Randy Orton. Remember that whole thing? It was the whole stated reason that he came back and everything? Yeah, funny thing that.
Cewsh: So, Brock hit Big Show with a chair a few times.
And a few more times.
And a few more times.
And a few more times.
And a few more times.
And a few more times.
And a few moWE’RE STUCK IN A LOOP HELP HELP!
On paper, the basic idea of this segment was to show that Brock Lesnar is a crazy person who will destroy everything in front of him, and to make the Big Show look okay in taking a quick loss. But I would be very surprised if the actual cause behind this match is that doing it in this way doesn’t actually count in Brock’s contract as one of his limited number of actual matches per year. He took one light bump, (off of the KO punch,) and the whole thing lasted less than 10 minutes, so if I were a betting man, I would guess that this got filed under, “television angle with limited bumps” and didn’t count against the total. If i’m right, then that’s a clever way for WWE to keep Lesnar on television for the entire Road to Wrestlemania without burning through their contracted agreement, while also using his name to hype the Royal Rumble card and get a few extra buys. That’s smart business, and like most smart business it made for booooooooooooring television. Like so boring, you guys. I’ve had prostate exams that were more captivating than this match, for both me and my doctor, and not just because he’s still curious about the lampshade.
In the end WWE got what they wanted out of this, and I imagine they knew that people weren’t going to fawn over it when they put it on the run sheet. So there you go. Let’s give them a bad score and move right along.
35 out of 100
MichaelC: Went pretty much as well as it could have. Brock squashes the giant to head into WrestleMania season.
Cewsh: I’m going to skip the backstory on this one, because i’m pretty sure that I’ve written more about John Cena vs. Randy Orton matches than is entirely healthy for one man. You all know the deal. The titles got unified, Orton and Cena have been feuding for 10 years, yadda yadda, yadda, somebody punched somebody’s dad, etc, etc. I can’t get bogged down in the details, because unfortunately, the story of this match isn’t about what happened in the ring.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. This was a very good match. It started slow, but built wonderfully to a killer last 5 minutes like pretty much all of Orton and Cena’s matches do. But the reason that’s hardly important is that the crowd sure didn’t seem to care whether the match was good or not. Clearly pissed off from Bryan’s loss and probably the Lesnar/Show non-match, the crowd took one look at the people in the ring in front of them and proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes ruining the match.
Now, I know for a fact that you can find 10 other reviewers on any internet street corner ready to tell you how awesome it was and how right they were to do it, and how it is their right to do whatever they want because they bought a ticket. There’s a complex argument there about the responsibilities of the fan and the etiquette of wrestling fandom that we aren’t going to ever settle until armageddon comes and the last wrestling fan gets the final word. But the reason why it’s such a hot button issue is because this crowd actively made this entire show worse for the people watching at home. They chanted for whatever came to mind, ignored the match going on in the ring, (even though it was actually a good one,) and just generally jerked themselves off at the show’s expense for 30 minutes. In doing so, they’ve continued a worrying trend in WWE lately, where the crowd refuses to play along until they get exactly what they want in the way that they want it. That may not sound bad until you realize that it is literally impossible to run a wrestling promotion if all you’re doing is giving fan service on a weekly basis. Anticipation can’t be built, villains can’t be built, and the whole machine grinds to a halt.
I know that the crowd was upset, and I’m sure quite a few of you at home were pretty upset too. You saw Daniel Bryan lose in the opening match and you felt like WWE was keeping something special from you, even though you had made it clear that you wanted it. But at the risk of sounding like an after school special, sometimes it’s important that we DON’T get what we want now so we can get something better further down the road. And even if you don’t believe that, throwing a crowd wide temper tantrum won’t teach WWE anything except that your town isn’t an ideal one to hold their events in.
Randy Orton beat John Cena to retain the title when Bray Wyatt appeared and distracted him. It was a great finish to a very good match that nobody will remember. This entire show could easily be said to be the moment that Bray Wyatt truly arrived as a star in WWE, but it will be held up and vilified as evidence that WWE doesn’t listen to it’s fans. It’s a shame, but there it is.
Man, this review has been a bummer, you guys. I could really use something to cheer me up.
84 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Cewsh: THAT’LL DO IT!
This year, WWE did a series of short promos in the classic Rumble style, letting many of the competitors explain why they think they’re going to win the Rumble. Alright guys, sum up why you think you’re going to win the Royal Rumble in one word.
Cewsh: And here we are at last. Now, i’m sure this is far from the first Royal Rumble for most of you, but just in case we have a few spring chickens in the audience, let’s break down the rules here. There are 30 competitors who have had their spot in the Rumble chosen at random by a lottery. The competitors that drew numbers 1 and 2 start the match off in the ring, and a new competitor joins them every 2 minutes from that point on. The goal is to throw the other wrestlers over the top rope so that their feet touch the floor. If they leave the ring any other way, or their feet never touch the floor, then they’re still in the match. In the end, the last person left standing in the ring wins the match and gets an automatic match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania.
Got that? Alright then. Let’s get to the goodness.
MichaelC: CM Punk is number one, and since I wrote those four words, he’s quit the WWE. A fortnight is a long time in review terms.
Cewsh: I’m sure he won’t play a big part in this match. It’s not like they were giving him a strong push immediately prior to his leaving, right?
MichaelC: People talk up Numbers 1 and 2 being equally unlucky, but for the last two Rumbles, 3 out of 4 from those positions have been there in the final straits. (The sole odd man out? Alex Riley of course!) Both numbers have won the Rumble twice, which is the same as Number 30, and a combined 4 times more than number four ever has.
Cewsh: If you’re trying to tell me that Seth Rollins is going to win the Royal Rumble then you’re going to have to excuse me while I travel frantically back in time to prevent that from happening. WHY CAN’T BOTH SIDES OF YOUR HEAD JUST BE THE SAME FUCKING COLOR?! AHHHH
MichaelC: Now, recurring readers of Cewsh Reviews might recall this position in a rumble, but for the benefit of newcomers and tortoises among us, Number 3 is the kayfabe unluckiest spot in the rumble match. In over half the rumbles now, the man in that position is the first man out, in many he is in and out in the blink of an eye.
The only men to laugh in the face of the Number Three Curse are Ric Flair (who won), Greg Valentine (a credible 40 minutes ended only at the hands of a fresh Hulk Hogan) and Cody Rhodes.
So…I don’t fancy Sandows chances. Neither does he by the looks of it.
Cewsh: Damien Sandow has less of a chance of winning this match than Damien Demento does and that’s a pretty impressive feat. I would stake my entire life savings on Sandow not winning if that weren’t the exact sort of thing that the universe gets off on ruining.
MichaelC: Sandow does aide the Shield man in beating down CM Punk, in the belief that this tactic will help survive 90 seconds. And despite a Punk comeback, it works.
MichaelC: #4 is a man who is statistically the most successful Rumble competitor on the current roster never to win the match, and is already one of the greatest competitors in Royal Rumble history. That man is Cody Rhodes. His stats? 2 hours 38 minutes of ring time in 6 rumble matches. (For perspective, only four men with a combined twenty-five World titles between them have lasted more than three hours in the rumble cumulatively – Jericho, Rey, Shawn Michaels and Triple H.)
He is 13th on the all time eliminations record too already with 13 eliminations, and is moving upwards in that direction per rumble.
Cewsh: Cody Rhodes has been in a Royal Rumble before? Seriously, it is stunning to see how successful he has been in so many Rumbles, despite never making much of a memorable impact in any of them. It’s like becoming the all time home run leader by hitting 20 every year until you’re 70.
MichaelC: Before anyone does much of note, CM Punk eliminates Damian Sandow! Lucky number 3 strikes again!
Cewsh: Whew, my life savings are safe.
Cewsh: It’s Kane! A shocking ripped, corporate Kane! An…unsettlingly attractive Kane, actually. There’s something I never expected to watch myself type. Anyway, he makes a bee line for Punk because they have ISSUES and such.
MichaelC: Have I mentioned how Kane is one of the great unsung big men wrestlers?
Cewsh: Yes, Michael. Every review that we do.
MichaelC: Ah. Well, Kane – no strange to dominating Rumbles – is in to take it to CM Punk.
MichaelC: And CM Punk tosses him right back out.
Anyone else sad Kane is out already?
Mrs. Cewsh: No.
Mama Cewsh: No.
Past Cewsh: No.
Future Cewsh: No.
AJ Styles: Does a boll weevil stick his funny part in a cotton ball? Well he sure does, ya’ll!
MichaelC: Poor Kane.
Cewsh: Oh yeah baby, we’re talking about Alexander Rusev. A goddamn monster of a man who has been showing flashes of incredible potential in some limited NXT appearances. Now, I find it incredibly hard to believe hat he’s really ready to get a serious push at this point, because everything that i’ve seen marks him as being green enough to shoot a CGI scene on. But as far as NXT Rumble entrants go, he’s about 800 steps higher up than Bo Dallas, so it’s worth a shot.
It’s time for some fuckers to get thrown out now that this monster is here!
MichaelC: Rusev comes in and beats the crap out of everyone, and gets the crowd onside relatively quickly with some agile offence. This is a great way to debut folk – for years the thought was if someone loses in the rumble in their debut they’d lose heat. Nonsense – booked well, and a newcomer can look a boss in minutes. Like Bobby Lashley in 2006, when he dominated The Big Show and Kane. Remember that, Cewshington?
Cewsh: Did someone say Bobby Lashley?!
Cewsh: Nobody cares.
Cewsh: Every year there are a few guys who are automatically going to be in the Rumble, but whom you never actually expect to come down to the ring when the countdown begins. Kofi is like that for me. He does a wacky stunt every year and yet I still forget his existence until he is actively in front of me.
MichaelC: Everybody is just waiting for his annual spot.
Also, if there’s been less play by play this year, that’s because…not much is happening.
Cewsh: That’s actually a really good point. This is certainly the slowest starting Royal Rumble in recent memory. I assumed that Rusev was going to get the elimination train rolling, but now he’s just hanging out with everyone else. This is rapidly becoming the most competitive barbecue in WWE history.
MichaelC: Jimmy Uso is the third Rumble debutante so far.
Cewsh: And he didn’t even have the decency to wear a pretty dress. He’ll have real trouble finding a husband with that attitude.
MichaelC: Not much happening in the match just yet. You’d think it was the prelude to a Dieseling or something.
MichaelC: Goldust enters his 9th Rumble match. No wins though. He did last over 25 minutes in 1998 in the middle of his S&M outfit phase though. Poor Dustin.
Cewsh: Goldie has been having one helluva career renaissance this year, but if he wins this match I will dress up in full Goldust body paint and go to work every day for a year, (or until i’m fired.)
MichaelC: A mass team up gets rid of Rusev, who sticks around to be part of Kofi’s annual spot. That was nice of him.
Cewsh: Alright, boys and girls. It’s time for everyone’s favorite game show! The Floor Is Lava with Kofi Kingston!
After being caught by Rusev in a stroke of luck, Kofi is deposited on the barricade a solid 7 feet away from the ring. Can Kofi find his way out of this pickle?
Well yeah obviously. I assume he trains all year by walking around the arena without touching the floor just to be ready. I expect that next year a rope will drop from the ceiling and he’ll swing around the arena like Indiana Jones.
MichaelC: Dean Ambrose is another debut, and is number 11, which is a spot the WWE likes to make people last from in recent years: Sheamus and Jericho being big examples.
The two Shield members work together. Clearly they’ve learned from Rumble history, and the mistakes of The Nation, who didn’t do much dominating in 1998.
Cewsh: Oh Dolph. It’s hard to believe that after how hot 2013 started off for you, you’d wind up such an afterthought in the Royal Rumble match. We’ll always have the Money in the Bank cash in, buddy.
MichaelC: Can’t help but be worried about Ziggler. I mean, those repeat concussions have to add up somewhere down the line. As an example, Mick Foley was having severe memory loss in 1999 from his concussions, and its most likely a significant factor in his hissy fits. Then you think of the number of stars who were undiagnosed during the Attitude era – Foley had 8 concussions diagnosed because he was smart enough to recognize the signs and seek medical help (though not smart enough to tone down his style…)
Oh look, its the sad looking Cewsh Reviews puppy again!
Cewsh: There was a time when Ron “The Truth” Killings was one of my favorite wrestlers and was genuinely exciting to watch. That was around the same time as the invention of the iPod.
MichaelC: R-Truth is in. R-Truth is out. What was the point of that?
A phrase I often use in relation to R-Truth.
MichaelC: The Shield team up to toss out Jimmy Uso. They are doing very well just now – imagine if Roman Reigns was in this thing…
Cewsh: Well we have like 5 monsters in this match and we’ve already seen two of them get eliminated without throwing anybody out at all. SOMEBODY needs to pick up some slack around here.
MichaelC: At this point there is some great talent in there just kicking and punching.
MichaelC: Kevin Nash! YES!
Cewsh: WOO BIG SEXY. Suddenly Mrs. Cewsh is actually paying attention to the screen.
MichaelC: Now here’s a man who can really Diesel this match, because he coined the term.
MichaelC: Kevin Nash tosses out Jack Swagger immediately. See? He’s great.
Oh sod – Nash has the non-kayfabe unlucky number 14 spot. Previous victims? Marty Jannetty (feckless idiot), Bulldog (dead), Hercules (dead), The Berzerker (who?), Doink the Clown (well, the original guy died), Jacob Blu (became a Harris Brother), Doug Gilbert (was doing a Rusev, got Vader’d to death, and never made the main roster), Goldust (personal demons), Ken Shamrock (irrelevance), Kurrgann (released that year), Bob Backlund (released that year), The Goodfather (released that year), DDP (back injury that year, retired), Eddie Guerrero (dead), Rikishi (released that year), Orlando Jordan (irrelevant), Joey Mercury (met a ladder that disagreed with him, personal demons, released), Jeff Hardy (something something drugs), Umaga (dead), Finlay (retired within the year), MVP (released that year), Chris Masters (released that year), Jinder Mahal (who?), Rey Mysterio (too buggered up now to care about curses).
The only man the curse was too scared to touch was Haku. And frankly, I don’t blame it.
Cewsh: I love when Kevin Nash is in these matches, because he so clearly understands his place in them. He gets the big pop, eliminates a guy, and then settles in until its time to be eliminated. He understands that less is more, and that’s why he’s the only member of the NWO who can still do these things.
MichaelC: For a man the match was meant to be booked around from the storyline, CM Punk has been mostly anonymous.
Cewsh: BUSINESS IS ABOUT TO PICK UP.
BUSINESS HAS PICKED UP AS ANTICIPATED.
This is the point in the review where I have to start making gifs of everything Roman Reigns does. For example:
MichaelC: Roman kills Kofi and Ziggler and eliminates them with ease.
Cewsh: The entire arena is buzzing now after all of that awesomeness and the wrestlers left in the match are just staring at Reigns in shock. This moment, this one right here, is all you need to know about Roman Reigns’ future in the WWE. If you are capable of destroying people in a way this convincing, you will main event. Forget promo skills and experience and all the other things that you generally have to have. If you can make a crowd’s collective jaw drop with your badassery then you’re a walking pile of money.
MichaelC: Khali comes out, the Shield toss him out.
Cewsh: Is Khali the most disappointing Rumble competitor of all time? I mean he’s fucking gigantic, but every year, people have no trouble with him at all. If the dude just brought a chair and sat down in the corner to read a book, nobody would ever eliminate him.
MichaelC: Oops, Goldust tosses Cody by accident. I wonder if that will lead to anything. Goldust goes too.
Cewsh: And now we’re down to just CM Punk verses the Shield, and Punk is totally fucked. He tries to fight back, but he’s just overwhelmed by the three of them. As the seconds tick down, the Shield set up to triple powerbomb him into oblivion.
MichaelC: The Shield are dominant. Who can save the day?
Cewsh: SHEAMUS! Oh shit! And he’s in a wrestling ring and not talking, so i’m actually happy to see him! Hooray!
MichaelC: This is Sheamus’s 4th Rumble match, and he has made it to the final three, (at worst,) in his previous two. A big rumble threat. I missed Sheamus.
Also, Punk and Rollins have been in for 27 minutes so far, and one of those men has been all over the place trying to get in the middle of the action. Yep, Seth Rollins…
MichaelC: The Miz lasted less than 90 seconds in 2007, 2009, 2010. Sadly, he lasts this 90 seconds.
Cewsh: I’ve gone on record for a good long time now as being an ardent Miz supporter. At this point, that bandwagon is so empty that it’s basically just me and Maryse driving it by ourselves in awkward silence.
MichaelC: Fandango adds to the debut pile. He and Miz go at it, shades of their epic feud from 2013. Hold me back.
Roman Reigns decides Fandango and Miz are not worth his time and casually goes over to help the other Shield members beat down Punk and Sheamus.
Cewsh: Fun fact, my friends and I were playing the classic Royal Rumble game where you draw random numbers and have to root for whoever you drew. I got Fandango, and I had to try valiantly to pretend like I had some cause for hope. That’s going to get really sad in a second.
Cewsh: EL TORITO YES. The best mini wrestler in the world comes in like a house of fire and genuinely starts beating up main event wrestlers. This is completely amazing, and one of the best things about the Royal Rumble. You can have your top guys in there doing comedy spots and it doesn’t hurt them. That’s just the Rumble, baby.
Cewsh: What?! I HATE YOU TORITO
CM Punk decides that he’s had quite enough of this nonsense and starts antagonizing El Torito. BIG MISTAKE.
MichaelC: El Torito – who reminds me of Max Mini – gets CM Punk to sell for him, eliminates Fandango, and is tossed out by Roman Reigns.
MichaelC: Mantaur reference by JBL – rewatching the 95 rumble recently, its telling how desperate Vince McMahons voice as commentator is over Mantaur, so anxious is he for that to be the next big threat. Ah, idealism.
MichaelC: Big swings for everyone!
I watched Claudio Castagnoli in ROH in 2007 after his visa issue release from WWE. If you’d said the chap wrestling Jack Evans would get back to the WWE and become massively over, I’d have thought you mad.
MichaelC: I wish Gorilla Monsoon was still about – he’d give us some commentary to chat about while nothing happens. Holy mackerel! It has indeed been a happening!
Cewsh: At this point, you can kind of get the sense that the crowd is holding back and waiting for something to happen. When I watched this live I assumed that it was just them hoping for a surprise entrant, but now it seems pretty clear that they are all holding their breath waiting for Bryan to show up.
MichaelC: Jerry Lawler asks if folk have won from every Rumble spot. There haven’t BEEN thirty royal rumbles yet.
MichaelC: JBL enters, getting a big cheer from me and my friend, Torn. Bradshaw was in five rumbles in his pre-Dallas days.
Cewsh: Hey, wait a second! He was retired in a match at Wrestlemania! Do wrestling retirements mean nothing to you people?!
MichaelC: He lasts longer than Jerry Lawler did in 1997. So that’s something.
As JBL was getting into the ring though, crouching by the commentary desk… THAT’S GOTTA BE KANE! I wonder if Kane still being there will prove relevant.
MichaelC: #25 is Vice, formerly of regular Cewsh Reviews correspondence.
Cewsh: He really does look like Vice, you guys. Though I have never seen Vice wear a jump suit.
MichaelC: At this point, the eagle eyed Rumble spotter might note that Daniel Bryan really isn’t going to be in the Royal Rumble.
MichaelC: Shield vs. Wyatt Family show down…and the camera angle and commentary team utterly miss the significance.
MichaelC: And as it was done while Ryback entered…so, so does the crowd. Well…that was a fluff in the booking.
Cewsh: This is kind of an important moment for Ryback. Will they treat him like a legitimate threat, thus proving that WWE sees him that way, or will he just be fodder like Khali?
MichaelC: Alberto Del Rio is in the ring, for his second and probably last Rumble appearance. (His contract is up and he doesn’t look like resigning.) Del Rio will be a case study for WWE historians for decades to come.
Cewsh: Primarily in regards to how you can give someone a great gimmick and have them put on great matches, and still somehow prevent them from getting over.
MichaelC: Cesaro getting some rumble spots in. I feel like a WWE star has really come out once they have their Rumble of note.
Cewsh: And here comes the eventual winner of this match. If you ever truly believed in any other outcome, then you’re dealing with layers of denial that I don’t even know where to start with, (this includes me.)
Batista promptly murders everyone.
MichaelC: Batista enters and eliminates The Artist Formerly Known as Vice.
MichaelC: Batista is one of my three picks to win the rumble. The other two were Jinder Mahal and the ghost of Andre the Giant.
Cewsh: He was so sure of Batista winning, and I was so sure that he was right, that neither one of us picked someone else that was actually announced to be in the match other than Batista. I was praying for a last minute wildcard. Because I am dumb.
Cewsh: Sooooo, not a threat then.
MichaelC: Meanwhile, Batista squashes Del Rio quicker than Orton squashed Wade Barrett in 2012.
MichaelC: Speaking of which, I don’t think Wade will be in this now. I’m now Sad News Barrett.
Cewsh: Oh baby, this is my boy right here. Get ’em E!
MichaelC: Big E is in, and frankly, has a stunningly unimpressive Rumble. For someone who is in their plans, he was just any other person.
Cewsh: I wonder if that’s the result of them just having too many monsters on the roster right now. Between Kane, Khali, Ryback, Reigns, Batista and Big E, how many spots are there to go around?
Cewsh: And our final competitor in the Royal Rumble is Rey Mysterio, who is met with such a hugely negative reaction from the fans that I was genuinely confused. Even now, it baffles me how everyone online and in the arena all got on the same page about not just hoping that Daniel Bryan would come back, but outright EXPECTING him to. When a guy has a grueling match earlier in the night and then isn’t also in another match later, that isn’t a shock, it’s the norm. And yet the power of this communal fantasy booking is so incredible that it causes everything from this point on to take place behind a curtain of boos. Crazy.
MichaelC: Rey comes out last, and gets the response this household has always wanted. WALL TO WALL BOOS!
(To be fair, this segment could have been saved axing someone like Jimmy Uso, and having the countdown to number 30 climaxed with an English voice going “If you were expecting Daniel Bryan to come back from his concussion and win this Royal Rumble, I’m afraid I’ve got some BAD NEWS!” Mega heel heat, and the issue is hand waved. Gallantly plugging on as if nothing has happened leads to its own problems… as we are about to see)
The crowd turn on the entire match, but really hate Rey Mysterio. It’s wonderful. Such is their disdain they even boo a CM Punk segment. No doubt he retired then and there.
Cewsh: Everyone in the ring could start doing Swanton Bombs off of ladders onto Nazis and the crowd wouldn’t have recovered at this point. This is one of the most hostile crowds in WWE history all of a sudden.
Cewsh: Wait, Big E is gone? FUCK YOU WWE, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. THIS IS PERSONAL NOW.
MichaelC: Cesaro doesn’t care what the crowd chant, he’ll just uppercut everyone for good measure anyway.
MichaelC: Big cheers for Seth Rollins eliminating Rey Mysterio. And bigger cheers from Mandy.
I did try to get SarahC, the newest member of our house, to understand Rumble rules. She just stared at me, and fell asleep. You’d have thought she was three weeks old when this was shown or something.
MichaelC: Reigns tosses Luke Harper (so that’s Shield 2, Wyatts 0, for those keeping score at home), only for…
Cewsh: Right after saving his Shield teammates by eliminating Harper, Reigns nearly gets tossed by Dean Ambrose. This is a big moment in the slow simmering storyline that is going to make singles stars out of both of these men, and Roman Reigns is not a happy man. And when Roman Reigns is unhappy, bad things happen.
MichaelC: In one small move tossing one tenth of the entire field, Roman Reigns, (in his Rumble debut,) has equaled Kane’s long stand record for most eliminations in one Rumble match. This kid is getting the superpush.
Cewsh: For good reason too. Every time Reigns does anything from this point on, the crowd seems to briefly forget that they’re upset. Which is a pretty staggering accomplishment.
Cewsh: We have a brief flurry of finishers, that leaves Punk standing tall over a bunch of gargantuan bodies. But before he can do anything, a huge meaty hand grabs him and pulls him over the top rope!
MichaelC: Kane tosses CM Punk out of the match! Chekhov’s Big Red Machine strikes!
Kane then chokeslams CM Punk through the announce table, forcing him to retire.
Incidentally, though it will never be mentioned on WWE TV, because it references Isaac Yankem, the wrestler Glen Jacobs has now equaled Shawn Michaels’ record for the most eliminations in Royal Rumble history with this elimination of CM Punk. That’s 38 as Kane, plus Yankem’s elimination of Fatu in 1996. It’ll never be mentioned on WWE TV, but it will at Cewsh Reviews. Well done, that Glen Jacobs. You are awesome!
Cewsh: We’re now down to three men, and while Batista is obviously going to win, Sheamus and Reigns are both riding high and as credible as can be.
MichaelC: Sheamus points to the WrestleMania sign just to get boos from the crowd. Hahaha he is amazing.
Cewsh: Now in past Rumbles, they always seem to make a point to put in inexperienced guy in at the end, so that he has his inexperience to blame when he is quickly tossed out by the wily veterans. I kind of expected that to be Reigns’ role here, right up until he took advantage of Sheamus and chucked him right the hell out.
MichaelC: Roman Reigns tosses out Sheamus! Kane’s record is broken!
In 2001, Kane eliminated…(deep breath) GrandMaster Sexay, Raven, Al Snow, Perry Saturn, Steve Blackman, Honky Tonk Man, Tazz, Albert, Crash Holly, Scotty 2 Hotty and The Rock for 11 eliminations in one match.
In 2014, Roman Reigns eliminated… (deeper breath) Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, Kevin Nash, Goldust, El Torito, JBL, Khali, Luke Harper, Cesaro, Rollins, Ambrose and Sheamus for 12 eliminations in one match.
The crowd are going nuts for Reigns, and if he won this a star would be bloody born.
Cewsh: A star is born either way. Breaking the Rumble record gives Roman TWO enormous records that will go down in the books for as long as there is a WWE. First, in becoming tying the Survivor Series record for the most eliminations in one match with 4, and now in becoming the king of eliminations in a single Rumble match. Frankly, if the announcer start calling him the Eliminator here shortly, I will not be surprised.
But in the end, this is the Royal Rumble, and excitement must give way to inevitability. And after Batista and Reigns have a spear fight, (which Reigns just embarasses Batista in,) the wily vet takes advantage and pulls out the victory in his first match back in WWE.
MichaelC: Just to cap a bizarre rumble finish, the camera focuses more on Roman Reigns disappointment at losing than it does on the winner.
Never mind Daniel Bryan – they buggered up so much of the booking in this match, when a great rumble (or the spots for a memorable one) could be seen if only they’d worked on the execution.
Cewsh: It wasn’t the best Rumble, it wasn’t the worst Rumble, and it might very well be the most controversial Rumble. But I sure as hell enjoyed it.
Cewsh: I have never done a review where I was this certain that my opinion would be a source of confusion and anger. Based on the internet response to this show, you are statistically either headbutting your scream while mispronouncing my name very loudly, or are simply sighing in disgust and switching tabs to whatever other sites you read while you should be working. I feel for you, really I do. But aside from an unbelievably frustrating crowd, this show had it all. Not one, but TWO of the pre Rumble matches on this show were classics, and both Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns had career defining performances here that clearly marks them as major power players in the year to come. And the Rumble match itself was a delightful blend of humor, (EL TORIIIIIIIITO,) and spectacle. So while people might have problems with who won and how, the important thing to remember here isn’t what you read on paper, it’s what happened in between the results. That wrestling stuff. It was pretty fucking great.
(Cewsh Note: I’m not giving a full show score, as there were only 3 matches that qualify.)
MichaelC: You won’t hear too much complaint about Batista here. Well, muted moans. I love Big Dave, and am a strong defender of his WWE run from after his Mania match with Undertaker. However, there are men for a moment, and it really isn’t his time anymore.
The over arching feel of this show, and indeed of the last half year, is that of familiarity breeding contempt within the WWE universe. It hasn’t been limited to the odd town or market. This is widespread. It reminds me of 1992, when even the Hulkamaniacs were starting to cheer other folk (Sid) and looking for new heroes. Every great dynasty hits its sell by date in wrestling. Its the way of life.
Point is, John Cena and Randy Orton have been centre pieces since 2004. Cena has been The Man without heir for nine straight years. Batista, despite his hiatus, has been around for as long, and had a million title matches in his last run. The Big Show, who replaced Daniel Bryan in the title matches last year, has been in those matches since 1999 nearly non-stop. Rey Mysterio, booed mercilessly, has been pushed as the ultimate underdog despite having a higher win/loss ratio than Cena and the Undertaker combined since 2002. It seems little wonder to me that the fans are desperate to latch onto someone new. Be it Ziggler last year, Daniel Bryan, or the oncoming Roman Reigns.
And in that, I’ll defend the crowd. Cewsh noted on Twitter it’d be great if the WWE never ran in Pittsburgh again after watching this. The shill Meltzer denounced it as travelling smarks. And hell, if they were merciless, I’d…not entirely concur but bemoan! But they weren’t merciless, they felt let down. Entirely different. And what’s more, right at the end we saw that this whole “Daniel bryan or nothing” charade folk on the internet like to play up the fan revolts as is all smoke and mirrors.
Once it became apparent Bryan wasn’t in the rumble, and the fans went mutinous, only one man brought them back onside. Roman Reigns. Not exactly a smarkbait wrestler, in fact the least likely of the Shield to be so. But he has the charisma of a young Kevin Nash and looks so much like the new star the fans want. So even in their pit of despair a sizeably loud “Roman Reigns” chant went up. They were so anxious for him to win that Rumble at the end, and it could have saved the show – but its clearly not time.
That’s not the reactions of a broken fanbase though. It’s the actions of a desperate one.
It seems to me the WWE will continue to face this issue until they deal with it, or fate decides to deal with it. [Note – I wrote this previous sentence before news of Punk walking out.]
Well that’ll do it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed our breakdown of the most hotly debated show of the year thus far. Next up, we’ll be bouncing back in time for a quick visit to our old friends WCW, as we review what many have called the worst major PPV in wrestling history. That’s right, it’s WCW Uncensored 1996, and it is…well let’s just say it’s going to take a whole lot of explaining. But until then, remember to always keep reading, and be good to one another!