10 Royal Rumble Silver Linings

Usually one of the WWE's most reliable winners, Sunday's Royal Rumble was mostly a dispiriting mess. But not entirely.
Share |

That low, slow-rolling ambient moaning sound you heard on Sunday night? That was every wrestling fan you know, watching the extended and inevitable outcome of the Royal Rumble, generally WWE's most entertaining annual event.

For a while now, the company has been starting to turn away from the heavily veined meat-slabs of its past and toward lithe, athletic, generally smaller guys, many of whom had pivotal roles in the last decade's American indie-wrestling boom. CM Punk spent the past year-plus as the WWE Champion, convincingly defending against all comers through ability and chicanery, just as Ric Flair once did. Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Antonio Cesaro, Cody Rhodes, and a handful of others have been doing consistently great work on WWE TV. Thanks to a recent influx of talent from WWE's developmental system, a ton more guys like this are starting to get TV time. It looked like the company was building toward a slow refocusing of its priorities. But this is the WWE, we're talking about, and shitting away fan goodwill is one of Vincent Kennedy McMahon's favorite activities. And so it was on Sunday night.

The pay-per-view ended with the Rock holding aloft the company's championship belt, having returned from B-grade movie stardom and, after his third wrestling match in the last decade, ended CM Punk's 434-day reign. Most of us saw this coming a mile away, but it got worse when McMahon himself, all smug ochre schadenfreude, smirkily foiled Punk's big last-minute cheat. And before that match, John Cena, the company's longstanding muscle-goofus figurehead, won the Rumble itself, guaranteeing himself a spot in the Wrestlemania main event. All signs point to a rematch of Cena and Rock's 2012 Wrestlemania headliner, a match the company—swear to Christ—billed as “Once in a Lifetime." It's as though McMahon's taking his wife's humiliating Senatorial loss and the general widespread Republican demographic apocalypse out on his viewers, pounding home the message that there is still one place where dominant power-clutching fuckheads are in no danger.

So yeah: Pretty dispiriting ending. But the Rumble itself—the 30-man battle royale that gave the event its name—remained a blast, as always. With the Rumble, the eventual outcome is really only a tiny part of the experience. The magic of the Rumble, as Nick Bond wrote in this space last week and I wrote last year, is in the way the format allows for tiny storylines to play out, for surprise returns and new feuds and unlikely alliances and groansome comedy bits, all within the space of one match. Wrestlers can become stars without winning, or they can become walking human punchlines. But no man, not even two-time winner Cena, is bigger than the Rumble itself. So, in the spirit of this, here are 10 great or ridiculous or wonderfully dumb things that happened during the Rumble itself.

1. The Return of Chris Jericho Jericho is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, someone who's been a standout in the Canadian territories, the Southern territories, Mexico, Japan, ECW, WCW's once-great Cruiserweight division. Then he somehow became a star in WWE, defeating little-guy odds and stomping with the big dogs. He's a vivid personality, an inventive high-flyer type, and a savant at telling a simple and resonant story in the context of a wrestling match. Also, every time he tries something that's not pro wrestling, he's fucking abominable: Singing barrel-scraping power-metal, stooping to Dancing With the Stars, operating as a D-grade cable Seacrest. Every time he comes back to wrestling, something he's done a few times now, it's cause for celebration. His last run, a small and whimpering thing, ended just six months ago, in a match with Dolph Ziggler that, in storyline terms, cost him his contract. (In real life, he was leaving so he could host a reality show about robots fighting each other.) Ziggler was the Rumble's first entrant, and when he grabbed the mic and said he didn't care who came next, the lights went out, Jericho's music hit, and my heart sang. This run could and probably will turn out just as badly as the last one, but I'll always be happy to see him come back.

2. Jericho's Miraculous Late-Rumble Run Call this silver lining 1a, if you want. Jericho actually lasted for just about forever in the Rumble, making it to the final stages. But his best moment came near the end, after the lumbering roidbeast Ryback (I like him okay, actually) had come into the match and tossed a handful of wrestlers out. Ryback's destructive rampage ended when he walked into a Codebreaker from Jericho, a move where Jericho tucks his knees up to the guys' chest, grabs him, and falls backward. The audience, which never really warmed to Ryback despite his obvious company-dictated next-big-thing status, erupted. And after his David/Goliath moment, Jericho went on his own rampage, hitting big moves on everyone else left in the match before Ziggler finally superkicked him out.

3. Goldust A couple of weeks ago, Dustin Rhodes, in his glammed-out absurdist Goldust alter-ego, wrestled in the main event of an indie wrestling show at a horse arena in Lexington, Virginia, near where I live. I thought about going, but it was an hour's drive to see Goldust wrestle the recently axed WWE midcarder Chris Masters, and it just seemed sad. Suddenly, though, Goldust was back in the Rumble, going straight after real-life brother Cody Rhodes—who was awesomely dickish throughout the Rumble—and generally transcending his gay-baiting gimmick ashe's been doing for nearly two decades. Goldust has been publicly hoping for a Wrestlemania match against his brother for a while, and his Rumble appearance made it seem at least halfway plausible.

4. Kofi Kingston's Wondrous Idiocy Last year, the oft-jumping Kingston narrowly avoided Rumble elimination by walking across the floor on his hands; you're not eliminated, see, until both your feet touch the ground. This time, he was teetering on the ring apron when, instead of falling, he lept onto the back of Tensai, the fake-Japanese behemoth he'd just eliminated. Tensai roared, thrashed around, and deposited Kingston on the announce table. After milking a moment of suspense, Kingston figured out his way back into the ring: Hopping on announcer John Bradshaw Layfield's chair like it was a pogo ball. It looked goofy as hell, and the aforementioned Cody Rhodes promptly kicked Kingston off the apron as soon as he arrived. I laughed. So did Cody.

5. Ziggler Goes The Distance Ziggler should be the WWE's next headliner: A rakishly handsome, freakily athletic bleach-blonde dickhead with a tendency to sell all his opponents' moves like he's getting shot and the ability to pull off a leopard-print metallic vest with spikes on the shoulders. But the company seems unwilling to pull the trigger on him completely, possibly because he's a bit shorter than most of its biggest stars and possibly because he doesn't appear to have muscles dripping out of his ears. I think that's it, at least. Otherwise, I have no idea. Maybe it's that they've given him the name "Dolph Ziggler." It would've been amazing if Ziggler actually won the Rumble, but instead, we did at least get the the next best thing. Ziggler entered first and ended up as one of the last four guys in the ring. He tossed a whole bunch of people, and he never looked winded. You don't have to win the Rumble to benefit from it, and Ziggler got to be the most impressive non-winner. That's something.

6. The Godfather Among all the deeply ridiculous characters of the WWF's late-90s era, the Godfather was arguably the most ridiculous: A lovably flamboyant pimp who'd offer his opponents whore-sex if they opted not to wrestle him. Always a shitty and predictable wrestler, he'd appear alongside a coterie of local strippers in every city; today, in real life (well, Las Vegas, which is close) he manages Cheetah's, the club from Showgirls. I wasn't especially amped to see the Godfather return to the ring at the Rumble, but I was amped to see Ziggler dropkick him directly out the second he entered. It was about as grand a return as the Godfather deserved.

7. The Continued Team Hell No Implosion The massively bearded mat technician Daniel Bryan and the hulking masked monster Kane spent last summer feuding, largely because they were both constantly angry sociopaths who hated everyone. Then they bonded over being constantly angry sociopaths who hated everyone. They've done a masterful-for-wrestling job of depicting a love-hate relationship in action, and that storyline nudged itself along just a little further when Bryan pushed Kanye out of the ring, then found himself thrown out while was celebrating. He landed in Kane's arms and begged Kane to put him back in the ring. Kane seemed to consider it for a moment, then dropped Bryan on his ass, leaving Bryan to make excellently cartoonish angry faces. Look, I'll take what I can get.

8. The Let's-All-Push-The-Fat-Guy-Out Moment A treasured Rumble tradition: An enormous man-mountain stomps his way out to the ring, and everyone else immediately drops what they're doing so they can all mob up and dump him. Usually, those guys are juggernauts like Mark Henry or the Big Show, and the crowd's efforts don't work. Once, a few years ago, everyone piled up on the Great Khali, and the visual of Khali, in a single movement, sending bodies flying in every direction provided what was easily the highlight of his entire career. But when the leviathan of the moment is a dancing human dinosaur who loses every match, it turns out to be pretty easy for six or seven wrestlers to push him out. This time around, Funkasaurus Brodus Clay's elimination seemed almost matter-of-fact.

9. Sheamus Plays Human Croquet Irish bruiser Sheamus won last year's Rumble, and he ended up in the final three this year. He also had a great minor moment on Sunday when he used David Otunga's body to knock Titus O'Neil's body out of the ring, effectively turning gigantic human beings into weapons and clearing a couple of useless stiffs out at the same damn time.

10. Bo Dallas Is A Thing Now Royal Rumble storytelling at its best: New guy (in this case, stringy-haired and greased-up third-generation prospect Bo Dallas) wins a battle royale to get a spot in the Rumble. He hangs around for a while, doing nothing of note but narrowly escaping elimination a few times. Then, he seized his moment and tosses out an established midcard beast; in this case, it was snarling British bad guy Wade Barrett. Said midcarder, enraged, pulls the prospect out of the ring and knocks him out. That's about the most direct route possible to introducing a new wrestler and throwing him into a new feud, so simple that it's almost elegant. Even as the top of the card falls into boring stasis, at least things are still churning further down.


Share |

Comments

It’s hard to find the good from the bad sometimes, but I think you’ve nailed it! would you mind updating your blog with more information...website traffic

Great job for publishing such a beneficial web site. Your web log isn’t only useful but it is additionally really creative too. There tend to be not many people who can certainly write not so simple posts that artistically. Continue the nice writing
wedding in tuscany

That i regarded away your blog given that Relating to over heard a huge amount of related to an individual's articles or blog posts. Re-Loader Activator

I'm impressed, I must say. Very rarely do I come across a blog that's both informative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you hit the nail on the head.ddos

I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative. i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you. as you have done a wonderful job. פתרונות מימון לעסקים קטנים

The worst part of it was that the software only worked intermittantly and the data wasn’t accurate. You obviously can’t confront anyone about what you have discovered if the information isn’t right. บาคาร่า

This content is written very well. Your use of formatting when making your points makes your observations very clear and easy to understand. Thank you. buy spartagen xt online

What's up to all, how is the whole thing, I think every one is getting more from this website, and your views are nice designed for new viewers. affordable optimization

Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job
Final Cut Pro X Effects

You have done an excellent job. I’ll undoubtedly dig it and in person recommend to my friends. I’m assured they're going to be benefited from this web site.
Houston Seo Company

You have done an excellent job. I’ll undoubtedly dig it and in person recommend to my friends. I’m assured they're going to be benefited from this web site.
Best SEO Companies in Houston

Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job
Best SEO Companies in Houston

This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post.
Custom tailored shirts Houston

The pill was manufactured for people suffering from brain fog, that is, lack of sufficient concentration or focus. Many Geniux users take it to encourage brain activity and lessen fatigue and sleepiness. http://www.usersbobet.com/

Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job
childrens dentist Houston

Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job
dentists pediatric dentistry Houston

Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job
childrens dentist Houston

Thanks for sharing the post..parents are worlds best person in each lives of individual..they need or must succeed to sustain needs of the family. home ac repair the woodlands tx

Thanks for giving me this information. Keep posting. Ready to escape insomnia’s vicious cir¬cle and reboot your brain for sound sleep. ac repair the woodlands tx

ac repair cypress texas
I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site.

It appears as though spent lots of time and effort in your blog. I’ve saved it and i’m searching toward reading through new articles. ac emergency

Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which I need, thanks to offer such a helpful information here. High PR Blog comments

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.
Austin CDL Best Lawyer

Thanks for a wonderful share. Your article has importaciones your hard work and experience you have got in This field. Brilliant reading .I love it. reinstating a suspended license texas Georgetown 

Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks
capannina

Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job
Web Design Colchester

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.
Web Design Colchester

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.
Web Design Colchester

Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job
argan oil reviews

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.
argan oil reviews

That is the nice tips and hints certainly towards some of those having their first go blogosphere, temporary not to mention adequate information… auto quotes

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.
hot escorts Vienna

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.
hot escorts Vienna

I found this is an informative and interesting post so i think so it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. http://www.getfreestuffonlinenow.com/ - free babies stuff

I was very excited to use my art and design skills on this big 3D object. Since the day we bought our house, I had always envisioned how I would change the layout to make it more simple, www.micoley.com - property auctions

Wow! Such an amazing and helpful post this is. I really really love it. It's so good and so awesome. I am just amazed. I hope that you continue to do your work like this in the future also.cobra golf

wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated.
japanese used car auction

wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated.
japanese used car auction

Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration....sleep apnea and cdl

This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post. mi40x workout sheets

As i up and running an important this as a result of try to make most beneficial consumption of a precious time. Ones own bringing up a blog onto your web log certainly given a hand to find that swiftness available these. Bless you! GENTING

I'm impressed, I must say. Very rarely do I come across a blog that's both informative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you hit the nail on the head. Your blog is important. top paper writing services

Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job
Plantation Shutters Brisbane

Fantastic article, my friend. This is, without a doubt, one of the best articles that I've read this year. I feel so amazing after reading this. This will certainly go in my best articles list...https://globalhub.ecn.purdue.edu/members/6664/blog/2016/Jan/tips-on-bathroom-decor-and-design

The article has actually peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your web site and maintain checking for brand new information. London Hotels

Such a very useful article. Very interesting to read this article.I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome article. best restaurants

You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work. berlin wall

I must say that a succesful family owned business in this day and age is a very refreshing sight ! As well as this is a very refreshing site. versailles palace

wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated. tourist attractions

Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job
Sightseeing