Antonio Cesaro defeated The Miz on the pre-show, and reassuringly so considering how much I love Cesaro. As Booker T would say, he's in my fave five.
Alberto Del Rio vs. The Big Show had some great action, though I am a bit old-fashioned in liking clean finishes, especially when it's the face. I'd have been happy whoever won though, as I really like Del Rio as a face and Big Show as a heel. The choke slam (or perhaps, choke throw) spot off the set through the table stood out.
Dolph Ziggler gave a promo where he outright stated he'd win and unify the world titles, which is the first time I think I've heard the idea mentioned on WWE. It's probably nothing.
Team Hell No defied one of my Rumble predictions by retaining the tag team title against Team Rhodes Scholars. You may recall if you read last week's edition of this series that I thought the anger management graduation could mark the end of Kane and Daniel Bryan's partnership, so they might drop the titles and perhaps Kane would win the Rumble. Failing that, I predicted either a surprise returner (perhaps Christian or Mark Henry), or else John Cena would win.
When Dolph Ziggler arrogantly entered first, saying he was ready for whoever would be second, I was so convinced in that moment that we were about to hear "Feed me..." that I'd have staked money on it. "Break the walls down..." though, that was a complete surprise, and I actually got goose bumps. Starting with Ziggler and Jericho reigniting their feud was about as good as it gets.
As with any Rumble, there were some stand-out moments.The first four surrounding and eliminating Santino Marella was fun. Goldust's return was another great surprise and it's a real shame he didn't win. Kofi "John Morrison" Kingston's spot this year substituted the athleticism of last year's for downright absurdity. The Godfather—the Attitude Era's Brodus Clay—was quite brilliantly eliminated.
John Cena fought off five people at once on entry, then immediately eliminated two in a row, which wasn't a good sign. The final five marked the point at which there was no one I'd want to win, with Jericho eliminated. With the final three, it was clear who'd win, and my Rumble excitement turned to Rumble despair. Even though I knew deep down who'd win, and even though I've no desire to see Ryback main event WrestleMania, I was still enthralled by the exchanges between the final two. It's impossible not to be.
The Royal Rumble is the single biggest push of the year, and to waste it on Cena is disgraceful. If they want Cena to main event Mania, it doesn't have to be via the Royal Rumble. It's a terrible waste.
The Rock's pre-match promo invoked his previously cancer-stricken mother, as if someone had dared him to say something more tasteless than his invocation of Martin Luther King Jr on the previous Raw. Personally, I think he's understating his own importance, and that of the match—it was reticent of him not to say he was the reincarnation of Mahatma Gandhi, and his victory over CM Punk would be a victory for anyone who's ever had a leg amputated.
My criticism of The Rock's wrestling skills over the past couple of weeks hasn't drawn the rebukes I expected, but for those who doubt my point, here is my record of all the moves The Rock used: right hand strike, clothesline, kick, Russian leg sweep, DDT, Sharpshooter, Rock Bottom, Spinebuster and elbow drop.
When has The Rock ever gone to the top rope? When has he done a suicide dive? When has he fallen off the top of a ladder and through a table? I watch wrestling to see people doing amazing feats of athleticism and risk. I'm not saying anyone could do what The Rock does, but any professional wrestler could.
The match was a dire paceless mess of rest holds, but after CM Punk won it was clear that wouldn't be the end—there was too much time left. The faces of distraught fans gave me a good laugh. What then transpired was an absolute travesty. Beaten throughout the whole match, The Rock won with an elbow drop. The longest reign in 29 years ended by a spinebuster and an elbow drop by a man's third match in eight years, and one who was dominated for most of it.
The Royal Rumble was a dreadful event. Ever since Raw 1000 people were guessing The Rock would win the title, Cena would win the Rumble, and then they'd have a second match at WrestleMania. I, ever the optimist, had more faith in the WWE than that.