WWE's Royal Rumble 2012 came from St. Louis, Missouri, Sunday night, and you can hit up Kaleb Kelchner's live blog for the full rundown. Seriously how he has the attention span to consistently do it is a modern medical mystery.
It is fitting that a town known as the "Gateway to the West" hosted the opening leg of the "Road to WrestleMania." On the card were two championship matches, a big grudge match and the eponymous main event.
Through the night, several big questions needed answers. Some angles saw resolution, a few just began and others just kept going.
As an added personal bonus, I managed to con Mrs. Schaefer into watching the pay-per-view in exchange for making chicken kabobs on a bed of long grain rice. I got a few of her choice comments as well, so it was a fair trade if I do say so myself.
Let's get started.
The match opened Kane dominating the action while the crowd went nuts with the "Let's Go Cena! Cena Sucks!" chant. Kane looked like his hurt his quad a bit during the opening minutes. The pacing the match favored Kane's power moves, which was appropriate.
The psychology of the match was interesting as they used rest holds for the first bit to let the crowd get all the heat out of their system. I don't think the placing of the card warranted it though. The pacing also negated this idea to a large degree.
There were a few nice counters in the match. The "You Can't See Me" from the top rope was a cool shot. The double count out was disappointing. The segment afterwards lost my interest for the most part.
"John Cena has more followers than the Dali Lama." I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
Kane's new finishing move "Hell's Ruffie."
Cena's Five Moves of Doom will not be denied!
My wife crocheting during the match summed up my feelings.
The stipulation change was interesting with Laurinaitis "overseeing the officiating from the outside," as he put it. Vicki's ejection before the match at least got it out of the way. Both Ziggler and Punk had some nice exchanges in the opening moments. Some nice storytelling as well.
Both exchanged some nice, stiff looking landing spots with Ziggler off the ropes and Punk off the turnbuckle. Ziggler and Punk did a nice reverse of the Sleeper Hold into the tease of the Anaconda Vise. Ziggler's facial expressions were wonderfully done. The two had another nice reverse of the sling shot into flying crossbody.
The pacing for the match was good through out the contest with both men getting enough time on offense to be credible. The storytelling picked up the second half with Punk glaring at Laurinaitis and then the referee bump. The drama picked up nicely towards the end. Great reversal of the GTS into the leg bulldog. Nice ending as well.
The WWE's Video Production team rocks.
Laurinaitis is the best heat magnet in the WWE.
St. Louis is really earning their smark points tonight.
Ziggler's bright pink "Show Off" trunks are kind of distracting.
My wife dropped her crochet for this match.
"Randy Savage! Randy Savage!"
"Next GTS is for you, Clown Shoes!'
Wife quipped, "I can't take this!" after Ziggler nailed the leg bulldog.
That's a pay-per-view match.
The bout received no hype at all, but at least the outfits matched for the most part. Eve's ring work has improved quite a bit over the last year. Alicia, on the other hand, seems to have regressed?
The match followed the standard formula, but it allowed the gals to show their signature spots. Kelly Kelly had a nice spots with the splash from the top rope. Simply a place holder that could have been a TV match on Superstars.
So are the Bella Twins heel or face again?
Beth and Tamina went longer then the past eight Divas matches combined.
My wife has a rather sadistic side I think. She lost it laughing when Alicia screamed into the camera.
Actually, she pretty much laughed during the whole match. That about sums it up.
I love that women. She actually sang "Sit on my face and tell me that you love me." as Beth pinned Kelly Kelly.
Another match that wasn't hyped. At least Drew got on a pay-per-view. Drew opened with a little offense, which Clay no sold. After that, the standard squash formula applied. This really had no place on a pay-per-view I paid $45.00 for.
Brodus Clay still reminds me of Donkey Kong.
"That's a disgrace!" I agree Drew.
Analysis: The match opened up appropriately with Bryan being taken out of the equation. There was good use of the cage's structure in the opening segment of the match as well. Good storytelling in the opening minutes before the match switched gears.
The pacing felt slower when Big Show was dominating the offense. Henry looked good without too much limping. Bryan portrayed himself well as a scrappy champion. Bryan hanging off of Big Show's arm with the big man hoisting him up a bit was an impressive shot. The match was a bit shorter then I would have liked. But a fun match none the less.
It's nice having a heel who can generate heat on his own in the form of Bryan.
My wife laugh at AJ's fall in the recap video prior to the match. There's a reason I love her.
Bryan's trunks reminded me of the case design from "Dragon Age: Origins."
She also started laughing at Big Show's face before he ran into Henry while the latter was against the cage.
"Close that door!"
Bryan's beard is still epic.
"Dan-iel Bryan! Dan-iel Bryan!" St. Louis is already smarking it up.
Wife commented, "Mark Henry's ring gear leaves little to the imagination." That's an image I didn't need.
The Miz's promo technique has improved quite a bit, particularly in regards to pacing and his use of the audience. Opening with Riley and Miz was appropriate given their history. R-Truth coming out was a nice spot, and the reversals Miz and Truth had was nice filler.
Rhodes and Gabriel came out and the ring began to fill up. Gabriel had a few nice spots before Primo came out. Miz eliminated Truth. Afterwards, Miz was pulled out and ate a Lie Detector from Truth, but he wasn't eliminated.
Foley(!) came out and eliminated Primo. Foley took issue with Rhodes and gave him the double underhook DDT. Ricardo coming out was hilarious. Doubly nice touch with the junker car. Ricardo and Foley teamed up to eliminate Gabriel. Cue Santino for a comedy break continuance.
The pacing of the match has been good thus far. A key was getting The Miz out of the ring for now. Santino put Ricardo over before Cobra and Mr. Socko posed off. Epico came out at #10, ate a Cobra, swallowed Mr. Socko and was put out of his misery.
Miz returned and Cody returned to this planet and both Santino and Foley were eliminated. Nice segment. Kofi came out and nailed a double Boom Drop before the numbers took over. Lawler came out from behind the announcing table at #12. Jerry abused both Miz and Rhodes. Rhodes finally ended Lawler's dream. The Miz continues to be a snake.
Ezekiel came out and beat on everyone in the usual big man schtick. Jinder came out at #14 as the ring began to fill up again. Jackson began calling out Jinder Mahal. Both men tangled while the crowd broke into a "USA! USA!" chant. Jinder nailed a few spots before Khali(!) came out at 15.
Khali eliminated Jinder in short order. Ezekiel banged on Khali who no sold the hits and eliminated the "Personification of Domination." Hunico came out to a new theme at #16. Hunico hit a few spots before running into Khali. Booker came out at the next entrant. Booker hit a few spots before running into Khali. Having both Lawler and Booker in the rumble was a nice twist.
Kofi ate some offense from Miz and was almost eliminated before doing a handstand and hand walked back to the steps. Probably the spot of the match and a creative use of the rules.
Dolph came out next and entered the morass of humanity. Duggan came out at #19 and went on a tear while the crowd again chanted "USA! USA!" before being eliminated by Rhodes. The pacing of the match is still nicely done.
Booker and Khali both got eliminated with some help from Ziggler. Cole came into the ring at #20. Cole hammed it up with his singlet and danced around a bit. Kharma came in at #21 and put me out of my misery by taking it to Cole. Cole stepped over the rope and Booker tripped him up.
Kharma nailed her finisher on Ziggler and eliminated Hunico before being eliminated by Ziggler. Sheamus rushed to the ring at #22 and took out Kofi. Road Dogg came out at #23 and hit his signature spots. The crowd broke into a "You still got it!" chant. Jay Usos came out and did the usual thing.
The United States Champion Jack Swagger tore into the ring and his few key spots, including a nice slam on Sheamus. The "fodder" began to build in the ring for the "go home" segment at this point. Miz and Rhodes have both been impressive in this match. Ziggler eliminated his fair share as well. Barrett came out to some new tunes at #26.
Barrett hit a back kick on Road Dogg and threw him over the rope before taking issue with Sheamus. Ziggler hit a nice move on the Jay before Otunga came out to the ring. Orton came out at #28 and started beating on Barrett. Orton teased an RKO before being jumped by Rhodes. Rhodes ate a rope-hung DDT for his trouble.
Orton cleared one of the Usos from ring, RKO'd Barrett and tossed him over. The lights went dark and Jericho came out at #29. Jericho hit a few spots and tossed out Otunga. Big Show came out at #30 for the usual spot of the final big man and helped Sheamus eliminate Swagger. Swagger pushed Big Show and ate a W.M.D. for his trouble.
Big Show eliminated Miz and Rhodes at the same time, then tossed Ziggler out as well. Sheamus, Y2J, Orton and Big Show are the final four. After the stare off, they all collided. Big Show chokeslammed Y2J before eating an RKO from Orton. Orton eliminated Big Show before Y2J eliminated Orton.
Jericho and Sheamus faced off. Jericho pointed at the WrestleMania 28 sign and they locked up. Sheamus overpowered Jericho. The two exchanged a few moves before Jericho was teased as going over. Jericho fought off Sheamus and hit a missile dropkick on the Irishman.
The crowd broke into a "Y2J! Y2J" chant as Sheamus came to. Sheamus nailed an Irish Curse and teased a High Cross before Y2J slithered out. Jericho attempted to push Sheamus out before being fought off.
Sheamus hit a flying shoulder block on Jericho and tried to put Y2J over. Jericho dodged a Brogue Kick and locked Sheamus into the Walls of Jericho. Jericho let Sheamus out and attempted to clothesline Sheamus. Sheamus dodged it.
Good final segment between these two. The two took their struggle to the top turnbuckle and fell off. Both Sheamus and Jericho held on. Jericho hit a Codebreaker on Sheamus before going for a cover? Nice botch.
Jericho began to dominate Sheamus and tried to get the big Irishman over. Sheamus fought him off. Jericho slapped Sheamus repeatedly which angered Sheamus. Sheamus caught Jericho's Codebreaker and put him over the rope. Jericho held on for dear life before Sheamus nailed a Brogue Kick to finish him off.
Nicely paced match with some great ring work in the final segment.
"Awe..some..." "SAY IT TO MY FACE!"
Riley is a little too eager for his own good.
*Crash* Mark out!
I marked out for Ricardo.
Santino and Foley threatening each other was hilarious. Great segment.
Lawler was a nice surprise.
Wow! Did not see Khali coming. Not one bit.
Kofi's spot was nicely done.
My wife noted Vicki's outfit was not very flattering. I so agree with her.
"You still got it!" Thank you St. Louis.
Barrett's new theme sucks. No way around it.
Orton got a nice pop.
"Look at this!" my wife comments at Y2J came out. I know hon, believe me.
Nice ending between Sheamus and Jericho.
Miz, Rhodes and Ziggler looked impressive in the match for how long they went and who they eliminated. Kudos to Ziggler for doing double duty again tonight.
Commentary: The crew did a fairly nice job tonight. I was a afraid when Cole began burying Bryan from the get go. Once he settled down though, they collectively did a nice job calling the action for the most part. The lack of calling the action during the Cena vs. Kane match up a noticeable and seemed to degrade the match some.
Production Values: The opening shot with the pyro seemed a bit more "invested" then usual. Aside from that, there were no noticeable hiccups in the production from a technical stand point. Sheamus getting the extra "celebration" pyro at the end was cool as well.
The Rock and Cena promotion videos felt out of place, but it was perfect for a bathroom break. Otherwise, it was the usual fair for a WWE pay-per-view, which is to say they are great in this department.
Final Grade: B
There overall pacing of the show was nice. The Triple Threat Steel Cage match was a great opening segment. The two unannounced matches and an extremely dull affair from Cena vs. Kane left a lot to be desired. Punk & Ziggler and the Royal Rumble match made for great back to back matches.
The booking of the main event match and the surprise win of Sheamus helped matters a lot as well, and it felt like there were several sub-segments in namesake match. Overall, great job by the WWE.
Thanks for reading! What did you think of the event? Leave your comments below. You can also follow me on Twitter for the latest of my insane ramblings.