Jobber Report: Royal Rumble Re-cap, Reactions
Without any buffer or fluff, let’s get to it…
Pre-Show Elimination Tag Team Match:
A NEW DAY vs. CESARO & TYSON KIDD (with ADAM ROSE)
A match that I had high hopes for was a bit underwhelming. It wasn’t helped by the pre-show booking, as the superstars performed to a house that was still in the process of filling up. The crowd simply wasn’t into it, and the action suffered because of it.
It served the purpose, however, of putting over a deserving team of Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. It’s an all too common and overused story to have dissension in a tag team, as we can see from the Dust Brothers and The Miz & Mizdow, but I hope this pairing stays intact for a while. The athleticism and showmanship of both competitors gel beautifully to create exciting tandem maneuvers, and I look forward to seeing them up against a natural team like The Usos.
A New Day? I’m still waiting to see what exactly their game plan is.
The Rise of Rest-Spots:
THE NEW AGE OUTLAWS vs. THE ASCENSION
Road Dogg got the Philadelphia crowd nice and warmed up as the show began. Putting old, familiar crowd-pleasers like the Outlaws at the event’s beginning was a good move. The majority of the fans in attendance, astoundingly, were performing Road Dogg’s sing-a-long. (However, there was a beautiful audience shot of one female fan who looked absolutely lost.)
The match achieved it’s ultimate goal: convincing the WWE Universe that the Ascension can overcome more than your average jobber team, that they in fact can topple former champions. Reflected in the attitude of the commentators, Konnor and Viktor have proved themselves a force to be reckoned with.
I’m not convinced this was the attitude of the average viewer, however. The fans in the arena were largely silent during this match, except when one of the Outlaws show-boated or hit a signature move.
With good reason. Except for those flashy spots served up by the Attitude Era alumni, there were no real spots to speak of. Punches, kicks, headlocks, headlocks, headlocks. The Ascension may have won the match, but they did it in anything but enthralling or dominating fashion.
It seems more like K&V they allowed the Outlaws to come out, have some fun, hit their moves, get a few pops, then put them away with their finisher. Not a great match, but it served its purpose.
Maybe now The Ascension can start really working. A New Day would be a perfect team for them to butt heads with; positive, flashy, and talented. Let’s hope it happens.
Latest Episode of “The Mizdow Show”:
THE MIZ & DAMIEN MIZDOW vs. THE USOS
To be honest, I would forget at times the Tag Team Championships were on the line in this match. The team of Miz and Mizdow have that effect on me.
This was an entertaining match with some very nice spots, each team playing their strengths.
The Usos are like John Cena to me, in that they have good matches and have a solid ability to tell a story in the ring, but it’s so often the same story told the same way that before long I find myself bored. They are a great tag team, though, and their moves are always entertaining.
The real story of the match was the relationship of The Miz and Damien Mizdow. Mizdow copied every move from his mentor, but did so in a way that was slightly less enthusiastic than usual. Whenever he would preen to the crowd, however, Damien beamed with energy. This is subtle and brilliant story-telling from the former “intellectual savior of the masses”, and he is becoming very beloved among the WWE Universe. I can’t recall a time when fans have been so polarized in their reaction to partners of a single tag team. It’s really innovative and intriguing.
There was one running splash over the top to Miz on the outside near the match’s end that the Uso realized wasn’t going to land and was changed at the very last second into a ghetto blaster. The Uso fell hard on his back, Miz bumped for it anyway, and the Philly crowd broke out in a “You fucked up” chant. In fact, there was a strong ECW fan vibe to the entire night’s event.
The match ended with some nice coordinated attacks from Jimmy and Jay, while Mizdow conspicuously decided to take time out from helping his teammate.
The dissension will happen, but I think they can squeeze a few more matches out of this partnership. It’s worth it.
The Missing Page:
THE BELLA TWINS vs. NATALYA & PAIGE
I did not have high expectations for this match and I’m happy to say it surprised me.
There was some nice work from the Bellas, both as a unit and individually. Nikki is embracing the heel persona and is improving in every big match which she competes, adding to her move set and acting like a real bully in the ring. Brie, likewise, has stepped up her intensity, and her forearms are looking stiff and effective.
The Bellas displayed great technique as a team, keeping Paige out of the fight for the vast majority of the match and working over Natalya. I’m not sure the reason behind this, whether Paige was actually not 100% or whether it was a kayfabe move, but it helps to move along the rivalry while planting seeds for further spite between the new “frenemies”.
Good showing by all involved, some excellent spots in the match, hopefully a showing of continuing trends for the Diva division.
I cannot leave this match without making another comment about the announce team of Lawler, Cole and JBL. While Cole does a more often than not adequate job at remaining objective and commenting on the action in the ring, Lawler and Layfield are old dogs who don’t respect women and hurt the Diva’s division every match they call. I, for one, cannot wait when one of them retires and they promote Rene Young to a more prominent announce position, so that a competent and passionate female voice can finally be heard. Rant over… for now.
Should Have Gone on Last:
BROCK LESNAR vs. JOHN CENA vs. SETH ROLLINS
What a main event this was. Great story-telling, great action, great effort from all involved. Everyone came out looking better than they did going in, which is difficult to achieve in a triple threat match.
Brock Lesnar took the early advantage on both of his opponents, flooring Cena with his new favourite wrestling move: the German suplex. I feel like this move has really been overused by Lesnar, and I would be happier to see him mix things up a bit, but the power of repetition is powerful, and since SummerSlam of last year there is now a heavy resonance and recognition every time the move is hit. Brock Lesnar, with that one match, has taken a simple amateur wrestling takedown and turned it into a devastating game-changer.
Seth Rollins played his part perfectly. Stacked against opponents like Cena and Lesnar, Rollins is physically at a disadvantage, and he put all his devious cunning to work by taking advantage of every opportunity as it was presented. He would lay low on the outside as the two powerhouses battered away on each other, and then at a critical time would sail in with a knee to the back of the head or a perfectly aimed dropkick.
In fact, while Cena and Lesnar controlled the majority of the match’s action, it was Rollins who provided the highlight reel – a role he is really carving out for himself.
Brock Lesnar is an amazing performer. The genius of his character is that I forget he is a performer. He does not act like a performer, he doesn’t speak or fight like a performer. He acts, speaks and fights like a legitimate fighter. It’s so easy for me to watch his matches, as he dominates someone like Cena or Big Show, and think he no-sells to make himself look awesome at the expense of his opponent, that he is a selfish competitor. But then he gets hurt, and I see just how good he really is at selling. Not only can the big man take a bump bigger than Dolph Ziggler, but he makes me honestly believe he is suffering legitimate pain. When that happens, I am reminded why he deserves his current position.
This could have been a clean sweep or a dominating performance, but instead it became a compelling see-saw battle between three elite athletes, each playing their particular role to perfection and contributing riveting action.
In the end, Lesnar – after being diagnosed with a broken rib after absorbing a top rope elbow through the announce table by Rollins – came back from the dead to eliminate John Cena from the ring, withstand a desperate onslaught from Seth Rollins, and hit an F5 on Mr Money in the Bank to get the pinfall.
Like I said, no one came out of this match a loser. John Cena didn’t have to job out – even though it wouldn’t have hurt him very much. Seth Rollins proved what he’s been proving on a weekly basis; that he can dance with the biggest, baddest and best of the WWE roster and not only survive but shine. Lesnar proved that he is human, he can be hurt, he can be compromised, but that he has the heart and determination to push through to gain victory.
That makes him not only more threatening as an opponent, but it makes him more interesting as a character.
THE ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
There’s a lot to cover here, so we might as well just go through it play by play:
Entrants #1 and #2 are The Miz and R-Truth. No one on the announce bothers commenting on the fact these two used to be tag team partners. Kind of a lack-luster way to kick things off. I thought immediately: “Neither of these guys are gonna last.”
They waste time with dancing, preening, pointing at WrestleMania signs, and Truth asking the crowd what’s up. There’s stalling as they wait for entrant #3.
Bubba Ray Dudley is the first surprise entry to the Rumble and gets a massive reaction from his ol’ boys and girls in Philadelphia. “E-C-Dub” chants roar as Bubba Ray dishes out shots to Miz. He then notices R-Truth perched on the top rope and figures, “He’s not Devon, but he is black… he’ll do,” and Bubba and Truth perform a Whassup.
More stalling, as Bubba milks the crowd and Truth just stands there watching. Bubba calls for a table and gets a “Tables” chant started… but no tables appear, disappointingly. Miz gets thrown out anyway, why not have him go through a table?
Luke Harper comes in and a slugfest and clothesline battle ensues with Bubba Ray. They stalemate each other until Bray Wyatt enters and Bubba is history.
What comes next is probably my favourite spot of the whole Rumble. Wyatt and Harper are nose to nose, exchanging words. They look like they might be forming alliance or agreeing to fight, but before we can find out Curtis Axel comes out – only to be jumped by Eric Rowan who enters instead. Rowan, Harper and Wyatt in the same ring together, no formal partnerships, it was an electric situation. These guys have to work this angle out further in the future.
Side note: Axel never entered the ring and thus was never eliminated. He could have entered at any time during the rest of the match, but I guess we’ll let that go.
Rowan gets thrown over the top rope and decides that’s it for him, even though he wasn’t an official participant and could’ve stuck around and beaten on Wyatt. Harper is out as well as Bray Wyatt begins his reign of terror.
Announcing to the crowd, “It’s my year!” Bray proceeds to make short work of The Boogeyman, Sin Cara and Zack Ryder before getting slowed down by Daniel Bryan.
Here’s where things really start getting good. Bryan has the entire arena on its feet as he enters. As he battles with his old rival, the ring begins to fill up with talent: Fandango, Tyson Kidd, Stardust, and a returning Diamond Dallas Page.
Page hits a Diamond Cutter on everyone in sight and gets respect from the people. His good time is cut short by Rusev, who comes in and eliminates both DDP and Fandango.
Stardust takes a nap while Daniel Bryan goes at it with both Rusev and Wyatt. Then, the unthinkable happened… Bryan is out.
The crowd erupted in a chorus of boos, and then, like when the Undertaker lost at WrestleMania, the people became deathly silent. They were so stunned, no one counted down the clock to announce the next combatant.
Goldust enters, and is blindsided by Stardust. The two have a heated moment in the center of the ring, slapping each other across the face… but the crowd is barely there.
As the match continues with Kofi Kingston and Adam Rose coming in, the arena is full of indistinct grumbling and rounds of boos. A brief pop for the Rosebuds, who catch Kingston and put him back in the match, as their leader gets thrown out.
Roman Reigns enters at #19 to a huge negative reaction, which pretty much never gets any better for the rest of the night.
Roman eliminates both Stardust and Goldust. Nothing but “boo”s.
Big E Langston enters and his big-time power moves aren’t enough to get a single pop. The crowd is very out of it. It seems it will take a miracle to get a cheer from these people.
Then, a miracle happens. A bearded miracle. Damien Mizdow gets a huge cheer as he comes to the ring, but is stopped by Miz and a drama ensues between them. Again, I have to applaud Mizdow’s aptitude at working a crowd with this gimmick. He had the angry masses intent on booing everybody eating out of his hand for a brief time. They were behind him to succeed – and then he’s tossed out and the grumbling and boos continue like before.
Jack Swagger, at least, gets the crowd to go along with two “We The People”s, so that’s an accomplishment on his part. Too bad they didn’t respond to anything else he did.
Ryback has some people behind him to win it all, but still gets very little pop for all his power moves. The biggest reaction he got, in fact, was a big cheer when he clotheslined Roman Reigns. Ouch.
A “CM Punk” chant begins. Even though it has become a staple of wrestling fans since his departure last year, this time it is oddly appropriate.
Kane enters. There is a mountingly awkward silence at the action continues, as moves get no pop and the announce team tries to create tension for the viewers at home.
Then Dean Ambrose enters and the people come alive again. A chant of “Let’s go Ambrose” roars as they cheer the denim warrior on.
Titus O’Neil comes to the ring, for some reason. Maybe he heard there was cake. He didn’t stick around for long. Entrants like this make me wonder why these guys even lace up their boots. You have thirty spots to fill, why fill it with an actual part of your active roster only to have him tossed after four seconds in the ring?
Bad News Barrett and Cesaro join the fray. The people seem fairly satisfied to follow the rest of the match, but boos, grumbles and occasional “Daniel Bryan” chants drift aimlessly in the air always.
Big Show comes down and joins Kane in targeting Ryback, eliminating the Big Guy as payback for the Authority.
Somewhere around this time, Kane hits a chokeslam on Rusev, and the big Bulgarian rolls to the outside.
Dolph Ziggler is the final entry and it’s about time. The crowd goes nuts, cheering as Ziggler hits multiple superkicks to everyone. “Let’s go Ziggler” rings out as the fans pick their new favourite. The crowd doesn’t go completely mental, but almost.
But it was not to be. Big Show knocks out the Show Off, and together with Kane they unceremoniously dump the fan’s champion to the floor. They do the same to Bray Wyatt, as more boos erupt.
The final four left in the ring. There’s a nice moment, a show of brotherhood between Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, as they join to fight Big Show and Kane. The altercation does not last long. Roman is incapacitated, Dean is chokeslammed and joins Dolph Ziggler in being dumped out by the giants.
Now the crowd goes mental. Chants roar up one after the other:
“Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!”
“We want refunds! We want refunds!”
“We want Rusev! “We want Rusev!”
As Reigns’ elimination seems (kayfabe-wise) inevitable, Big Show and Kane cheapshot each other and become preoccupied with eliminating each other. Roman Reigns, in a classic hero move worthy of Hulk Hogan himself, comes back from the brink of destruction to put both giants over the top rope at once to get the victory.
The bell rings, but no music plays. This is awkward, and made doubly so by the intense negative reaction from the people, as Jerry Lawler and company try and sell the collective elation of… the three of them I guess.
Big Show and Kane beat down on Reigns to no reaction from the crowd, as The Rock’s music hits and the Great One races to the aid of his family member.
To his credit, Rock gets a warm welcome and his big moves get cheers from the stoney audience. It isn’t until he leaves Roman alone in the ring again after dispatching the heels so the boos return.
From out of nowhere, Rusev appears from under the ring! The people rally for half a second, but Rusev isn’t able to hit one move before Reigns spears, points to the WrestleMania sign, and throws Rusev over the top to the floor. Music plays and Roman Reigns is announced as the winner.
The Rock and he share a nice moment in the ring. I wish I knew what Rock whispered in Reigns’ ear as they embraced (“Don’t listen to them”, “I’m proud of you, anyway”, “Don’t let them see you cry, be a man”).
As the two members of the famous wrestling family celebrated in the ring, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H looked on and seethed.