Forget Wrestlemania, for me the biggest date in WWE’s calendar is January’s annual Royal Rumble event. Not only is it the beginning of the Road To Wrestlemania but it is an indication of how the year will pan out. The winner is often not obvious and sometimes a real surprise, it shows who WWE are favouring for big things in the given year and can lead to exciting and new angles, pushes and main eventers.
That’s the hope anyway.
The event can be monotonous and unbelievably dull when you ‘know’ (you can never be certain but you can get a strong feeling) who will be the eventual winner. This is made even more boring when you also know that the eventual winner won’t show up until the end, so you watch lower carders who have zero chance taking up room in the ring so that the big star can use them for target practice upon his entrance into the match.
This was that year.
There was no surprises who would win the battle royal. The moment John Cena declared his ambition to enter and win the match so he could head off to headline Wrestlemania, it wasn’t only the Rumble that was telegraphed, but the winner of the WWE Championship Match on the card, too. A huge anti-climax.
The Rock/Punk match is excellent and I cannot knock The Rock since his comeback. He doesn’t phone it in like so many ‘Legends’ have in the past. His heart and soul pours out, he WANTS to be the champion, he WANTS to prove he still has it. The embarrassing thing is that he sounds hungrier and more relevant than the jokey and lame Cena. Their match is good and the ending is clever. Punk held onto that belt until he couldn’t scratch and claw and cheat any more and Rock gave him his comeuppance. IT was no squash and Rock’s joy at capturing the illustrious title seems genuine and thus, the win important. It was still obvious though.
Just like when the last few dregs of the Rumble match fought it out, a little piece of you thought “Could Chris Jericho win it, here?” but you ‘knew’ the outcome. Still enjoyable, but dampened by the lack of surprise and tension.
That’s in no way to say that it’s not a fun way to spend an afternoon, The Rumble’s are always high-energy and fun affairs. The lower level guys get to show off their personalities a little bit and you get a feel of who shall be elevated and maybe who will enter feuds with one another. Kofi Kingston is to Rumble matches what Shelton Benjamin was to Money in the Bank matches. A middling guy who never really comes out of neutral, absolutely lights up the ring with stunts and comedy moments.
The undercard matches are excellent too. The World Heavyweight Championship match between Alberto Del Rio and The Big Show is absolutely wonderful and as brutal as a PG-era match can be. Big Show has been on a great roll recently and ADR’s face turn has freshened his character up too. Just a lot of fun.
Team Hell No vs The Rhodes Scholars is a great tag match and shows that two unlikely teams can make phenomenal viewing and entertainment when the chemistry is just so. Team Rhodes Scholars are as good together as any classic team ever were and Team Hell No are a force of nature.
They included a very welcome feature into the Rumble build up as they incorporated the old school interviews from the 1980’s and early 1990s. Individually a selection of Superstars pop up in pre-recorded interviews to talk about their chances in the match. It’s so lovely to return to a classic technique like that, as it was more than just a touching nod to the past, it actually showed what these guys think and showed their personalities a little. I sincerely hope this continues into the future.
So all in all it was a good event, marred terribly by the translucent booking. It’s one you’ll want to see and the undercard is great fun. It’s not one you will rank with your favourite Rumbles and in honesty it may be one that you wait for to be included in a 30 years of Royal Rumble box set or something.
The Blu Ray features a hour and half of extras, and any long term readers will know precisely what I am about to say. 80mins of bonus features seems generous, but it certainly isn’t the 3 1/2 hours (sans adverts) needed to put on the full pre-RR Raw and Smackdown, which is becoming a HUGE bugbear with me. Just show us what happened immediately before the PPV so we get a feel of the tension going in.
That’s in no way to say that the extras aren’t good, it does feature a lot of Raw and some Smackdown to show the story going in. But it’s not the full story and that annoys me. They could also have a compilation of some of the best/funniest/most tense Rumble moments or something, but no. Just a heavily edited Raw and a segment from Smackdown. Alright, but not enough.
Picture, sound and presentation is spot-on as always.
This is good but not a must-buy, though everything on there is solid, it’s not a classic Rumble and for that I’ll give it a