The Best Ever?
The 2011 Royal Rumble may have been, and probably was, the best ever. You could make a case for the 1992 Rumble in which Ric Flair won the WWF Championship. An argument could even be made for Stone Cold Steve Austin winning the 2001 Rumble in spite of Kane's dominance, or Hulk Hogan's victory and Ric "The Model" Martel's then-record at the 1991 Rumble. All of the aforementioned Rumbles were remarkable in their own right. However, I will explain why this year's Rumble topped them all later in this article.
In recent years the Royal Rumble undercard matches have been less than spectacular. Try to list the undercard from last year and you'll find yourself likely unable to do so. This year, the formula was changed in that there were fewer matches. However, the matches that did occur were longer in duration.
This is a winning formula in my book, as I will take quality over quantity every time. The 2008, 2009, and 2010 Rumble undercard matches averaged (not counting Diva's matches) a little over 10 minutes per match with 4-5 matches per card. This year (once again, not counting Divas) had two matches which were both at the 20 minute mark. A 10 minute match on a pay per view simply does not cut it. When you factor in that the two matches this year were not only suitably long, but also good quality, you have a great start.
Edge v. Dolph Ziggler (and Vickie Guerrero)
The match started at a leisurely pace, but slowly built up. It was captivating towards the end with Vickie's interference, the near falls, and Edge's inability to perform a spear. Before the match and during the first half I was sure Edge was going to retain the title, spear or not. As it progressed however, I was unsure if Ziggler was going to cheat his way to a win. This slight amount of unpredictability caused the match to eventually exceed my expectations.
Edge's in-ring performance since his return at the 2010 Rumble has been subpar at best. Ziggler, meanwhile, is an underrated in-ring performer. Nearly every recent feud or match Ziggler has been a a part of, whether it be Kofi, Kaval, Daniel Bryan, or even John Cena, has produced high quality contests.
You cannot say the same for Edge. Just look at his boring run with Jericho and how he spoiled Kane's status with arguably the worst feud of all time. I'll give the credit to Ziggler for providing us with a good opener. I give this match three out of four stars.
The Miz (and Alex Riley) v. Randy Orton
Orton is a technician in the ring, while Miz is a serviceable in-ring talent with good mic skills that can sell. The cowardly heel champion versus the monster face with the heel cheating to win is not a new formula—however, it worked well here. The match had a moderately slow pace with occasional interference from Riley.
Like the prior bout, it picked up steam as it went along. The interference from Nexus is what sold this match. CM Punk's facial expression as he delivered the GTS was priceless. The ending to this match put an end to the Miz -Orton rivalry and thus created new and better feuds. Another very good, three out of four stars match.
The Royal Rumble
I'll save you the nauseating task of going over every participant and elimination, and instead focus on the main points of the match. The first half of the Rumble was dominated by CM Punk and the new Nexus. In what is seemingly the best strategy to win a Rumble, Punk and Nexus worked as a team to eliminate single competitors who had no chance of fending off multiple foes—that was until John Cena arrived.
Cena was able to eliminate the Nexus threat. Cena was then joined by Hornswoggle for a brief comedic segue that worked as it was humorous, yet not overdone, and helped advance the Rumble to the post-Nexus stage. Kofi Kingston entered and all returned to normalcy.
At this point, the remaining participants were all big name forces. The final four consisted of Cena, Orton, Wade Barrett, and Alberto Del Rio. Minus Santino Marella, who was hidden outside the ring after rolling to the floor without being eliminated. Alex Riley made a run-in that distracted Cena long enough for Miz to charge the ring from the announce table to dump Cena over the top rope. This was perfectly timed and well placed.
Barret and Del Rio began to work over Orton, who made his usual comeback and eliminated Barrett. Del Rio took advantage and immediately tossed Orton over for the victory in an impassioned ending. While Del Rio celebrated a dazed Santino rose up while the referee's attempted to tell Del Rio that he did not in fact win. Santino hit the cobra on Del Rio which sent everyone into an uproar in what could have been the biggest upset in WWE history.
Santino's facial expression, the cobra (his comical celebration), was intense and riveting. Santino sold the moment probably better than anyone other wrestler could have. All did not end well for him as when he attempted to toss Del Rio out Alberto countered and sent Santino flying. Ricardo Rodriguez went nuts screaming for Alberto as he smirked in the ring in conquest. Four out of four stars.
- A lot of Internet goons have tried to downplay the 40 man Rumble saying it was unnecessary and exposed WWE's thin talent depth. This couldn't have been further from the truth. Having 40 participants allowed the Rumble to go on for 70 minutes as opposed to the usual 50-60. This extra time could potentially slow down the match, but the pacing was quickened making for a better overall experience.
- Lost in the shuffle was John Morrison's parkour, freestyle, spiderman (or whatever lame it-term you want to use) move to cling on to the outside barrier, climb on top if it, jump over to the ring steps, boot William Regal, and then re-enter the ring. That was masterful.
- The 40 man Rumble also provided room for Diesel (Kevin Nash) and Booker T to make comebacks. Both received huge pops from the crowd, and added to the overall experience as they can still compete and were long missed figures from WWE. They were entertaining, and after all, isn't that what wrestling is about?
- Diesel and Big Show had a poignant moment when they crossed paths on the entrance ramp. Nice touch by WWE.
- CM Punk once again stole the show in the first half of the Rumble. His Straight Edge fueled diatribe last year may have been more unpredictable, but hes a Rumble star.
- The Rumble set up some high level feuds. Edge-Ziggler will continue and likely fade into Edge-Del Rio. Cena and Miz are going to feud until Wrestlemania. Orton versus Nexus and Punk will be a very nice change of pace.
There have been a lot of complaints by buffoons on the Internet about this years Rumble. Its all nonsense. Everything about this year's Rumble worked, and worked well. Try to deny it, you can't, otherwise it's just lame and played-out hating on the WWE because you have nothing better to do. Well, you could watch an old wrinkled Ric Flair have a triple threat match against the [sarcasm]so very exciting [/sarcasm] Mr. Anderson and Matt Morgan.