Crazy, ineptly booked, hilarious, infuriating…whatever else you want to say about 2014’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view, it certainly wasn’t boring. In fact, it strikes me as the type of show wrestling fans will still be talking about in years to come.
But while everyone may be talking about the crowd’s irate reaction to Batista’s victory or Brock Lesnar’s dismantling of Big Show, there are some moments on the card that have been overlooked.
With this in mind, let’s have a look at the most underrated and entertaining moments from Sunday’s event—in order of just how great they were.
Kevin Nash made a surprise appearance in the Royal Rumble, entering at No. 14. Thankfully, the former WCW champion didn't last that long—he got eliminated by rising star Roman Reigns within about a minute—otherwise, he may have seriously dragged down the in-ring quality. (The thought of Nash interacting with Ryback or Khali during the bout was also a frightening prospect.)
As it was, his cameo was a nice, nostalgic moment on the show. Of course, there was nothing too amazing about it, hence its low ranking here.
On the Royal Rumble pre-show, the New Age Outlaws defeated the Rhodes Brothers to win the WWE Tag Team titles for the first time since 1999. It was a fun little match that no doubt warmed the hearts of fans everywhere who like to look back on the Attitude Era fondly.
Credit to Road Dogg and Billy Gunn—despite ring rust and their advancing years, they both looked very strong here.
While most eyes were (understandably) on Brock Lesnar and his stunningly brutal treatment of Big Show, credit should also be given to Paul Heyman, who continues to prove he is a crucial part of the act.
The former ECW owner shined during his backstage interview with Rene Young prior to Big Show-Lesnar. Has any manager even been able to exude such sleazy arrogance? His continued dismissive treatment toward Young is also a great running joke.
His performance during the match itself was spectacular, too. Heyman egged on the deranged-looking Lesnar throughout the short brawl and later handed him various chairs with which to clobber Big Show with. It's important to note, though, as great as he was, he still didn't upstage or take away from what was going on in the ring.
While few have doubted that Bray Wyatt has the charisma, presence and mic ability to be a main event star in WWE, there has always been lingering doubt over his in-ring skills. He hasn't been in too many matches since he debuted last July, and you had to wonder whether the company lacked faith in him as a wrestler.
Thankfully, though, Wyatt proved himself to be a very strong in-ring performer during his blistering match with Daniel Bryan at the event. OK, so it helped that he was in the ring with one of the best wrestlers on the planet, but Wyatt more than held his own.
He delivered a great, star-making performance here, and it bodes well for his feud with John Cena.
Kofi Kingston continued his long run of incredible “how to avoid getting eliminated” spots at the Rumble when he managed to jump from the barricade onto to the ring apron, thus ensuring he stayed in the Battle Royal.
Even by Kingston's high standards, this was an amazing feat of athleticism. Now let's hope the star, who is barely doing anything on television right now, doesn't again have to wait a whole year before getting something memorable to do in WWE.
While the Royal Rumble match wasn't exactly out of this world—the lack of Daniel Bryan and the crowd booing eventual victor Batista vociferously damaged the match significantly—Shield member Roman Reigns still put in a strong, dominant performance and was easily the highlight.
The star managed a record-breaking 12 eliminations during the bout, and he made it to the final two. He may not have won, but he still made quite the lasting impression. That alone guarantees it a high ranking here.
While the crowd’s antics during the Battle Royal are now well known, we should also give credit to the fans who were in attendance for their reaction to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match.
Unsurprisingly, it's been hard for WWE to get people interested in what seems like the 5,245th John Cena vs. Randy Orton bout on pay-per-view. And the folks at the Consol Energy Arena were not shy about proclaiming their dismay over this tired feud and the mediocre action in the ring.
Throughout the match, the Pittsburgh crowd came up with an assortment of chants. The dreaded “Boring!” chant was heard several times. As was “This is awful!” “Daniel Bryan!” was another one. The fans even started yelling “We want Divas!” at one point. Orton didn't even try to hide his anger. Poor Cena looked visibly deflated, too.
Jerry Lawler's claim on commentary that the crowd was merely trying to “distract” Orton was hilarious. Amusingly, the audience even started yelling “Thank you!” once the Wyatt Family ran in to attack Cena.
Credit to the fans—they entertained themselves. They also made what should have been a forgettable match actually very memorable—even if it was for all the wrong reasons.