“I don’t like that! A no-name won!”
These were the words of my girlfriend Heather after Alberto Del Rio won the Royal Rumble match and the chance to main event Wrestlemania.
“He actually is a big name now; you just don’t watch every week.” I said to her. But even as I defended the WWE’s decision to give the newcomer such a big accolade, it was easy to see why she felt that way.
She is a casual fan at best, the kind of fan who quit watching regularly after the Rock/Austin era, didn’t realize that WCW was seriously messed up, and thinks that Hornswoggle is cute.
In her mind, big stars have to be 35-40 that one has watched for at least 4-5 years struggling to break through from the mid-card ranks. With the exception of the Miz (she thinks he’s hilarious), she doesn’t buy into people that haven’t been around for nearly a decade.
Either fortunately or unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way anymore. Young guys who would have jobbed for years (read: Sheamus) are now regularly thrust into the spotlight and given pushes, titles, and merchandise much sooner than in the old days.
This is simply the way it is now, due to spots opening up at the top-tier of WWE’s talent roster because of injury (Undertaker, Triple H) and people taking time off (Batista, Chris Jericho.)
Take the Rumble’s title matches for example. First, there was Edge (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler. Edge is a great example of a guy who rose slowly through the mid-card ranks; Ziggler is an example of a guy given a push faster than would have been given in previous years.
Edge got the win, but Dolph dominated most of the match and was made to look like a legitimate title contender. Heather’s take: “Woo, Vickie Guerrero does NOT need to be wearing that dress,” and “That dude (Ziggler) needs to pick up a bottle of Gin and put down the bottle of peroxide.” Expert analysis if I’ve ever heard it.
The second title match featured the Miz (C) defending against Randy Orton. Orton is a guy who went from jobbing to main-eventing very quickly (youngest ever World Heavyweight Champion), and the Miz is a guy who went from jobbing to main-eventing pretty quickly as well, someone who was given the opportunity to lead the company after only a few years in the industry.
The Miz got the win, but only after CM Punk and the New Nexus interfered. Heather’s take: “Why was CM Junk out there? He hate Randy Orton or something?” and “Why does Alex Riley carry a briefcase? Is he the Miz’s b**ch?”
I couldn’t answer either of these questions, and I was hoping Raw would answer the CM Punk question the next night. Nope.
(Note: I am not going to write about the Diva’s match. I know Eve won in a semi-controversial way, but that’s it. Not only couldn’t I analyze it, I couldn’t even tell you what happened during it because I didn’t watch it. Plus, you would skip over it unless I mentioned the Bellas.)
Before I go very in-depth about the Rumble match as a whole, I want to mention John Morrison. By far the coolest “spot” in the Rumble though was his acrobatic leap into the padded guardrail outside of the ring to avoid elimination. Heather goes “DUDE! OHMIGOD! DID YOU SEE THAT? WOAH!”
And in my opinion, that’s something that the WWE has missed out on by not making Morrison a major champion yet. Sure, his mic skills are bad, there’s no denying that; it’s a detriment for sure.
However, there aren’t many things or people in WWE that can make the casual fans pop like that, and I think that it would be a shame to lose a talent like that.
Later this year, is it farfetched to think that we could be talking about Morrison the way we talked about MVP last year? I mean, if you were him, you would probably think about leaving every once in a while, right? Sorry for the tangent; on to the main event!
The final match of the night was the Royal Rumble, a match that best showed the WWE’s new agenda (or so I thought at the time).
New Nexus dominated most of the early part of the match, looking very formidable and making CM Punk the favorite to win until novelty act The Great Khali (or as Heather calls him, The Human Tree) came in and temporarily halted their reign.
John Cena and Hornswoggle (yep, he got an entry spot) would ultimately stop the New Nexus’s domination, leading to a pretty normal Rumble match from then on.
The Rumble is always good for a few surprise entrants though, and this year was no exception as veteran old guarder’s Booker T (Heather: Oh My God! Harlem Heat, he’s awesome!) and Diesel (AAAAAAH! Big Sexy is back! Wow!) made appearances.
In the end, however, a newcomer reigned supreme as Alberto Del Rio came out on top, cementing his place as a main-eventer and top star of the WWE.
And again, whether or not you think the youth movement is good for the company, a good mix of veterans and up-and-comers can certainly be pretty entertaining.
Both Heather and I, a hardcore fan, thoroughly enjoyed the Royal Rumble, and I was pleased to see the WWE use the event to make a new star.
The preceding paragraph should have been the end of the article, and I wish it could have been. I could have even given it a snazzy ending, some thing like:
“He’s a no-name!”… Not anymore.
Would have been cool, right? But of course, WWE just had to go and name a new No. 1 contender for the Miz’s belt the next night on Raw: 61 year-old commentator Jerry “The King” Lawler.
Think about it; is the commentator violence angle really that important? The King can have a match at Wrestlemania without headlining the Elimination Chamber. And maybe I’m wrong, but I’m starting to agree with Michael Cole a little bit.
“The Scene Stealer” line was hilarious, and true to an extent. If you want to go young, WWE, then go young; I don’t really care, as long as you don’t go Darren Young. But is it too much to ask that we not have a novelty match headlining a pay-per-view?
Maybe I shouldn’t care so much, but I feel like the Royal Rumble has now been undermined in a way. I’m going to try to have patience, though, and hope that the creative team knows what they’re doing.
Wooo, got my first article out of the way. What do you think? Feel free to comment.