Monday, January 30, 2012

Royal Rumble 2012 Review


Last night's Royal Rumble was a mixed bag. There was a lot of really obvious junk and the parts that were good did not amaze and had to be thought about to appreciate. The best way to sum it up is just to go through the matches and the Royal Rumble entrants and to sum up my thoughts on them.

Daniel Bryan versus Mark Henry versus Big Show in a Steel Cage Match 
Daniel Bryan is my favorite active wrestler. Any Pay Per View that he has a scheduled match in means it's a PPV that I will buy. I have to say that in case Vince McMahon reads this. Since he might be reading this I'll also ask him to stop his wife from running for office again. She's terrible, just stop. Thanks, Vince.
D Bry (with the help of GRAVITY) wins!
It's hard to expect a lot out of this match. Mark Henry is injured and Big Show is Big Show but Daniel Bryan managed to make lemonade out of it. I hope D Bry's victory means we can move past his feud with Mark Henry and the Big Show as it isn't doing anything for any of those wrestlers. Mark Henry had a great run as a monster heel and Big Show got to do the most blubbery crying since the Big Bossman stole his father's casket. Neither are really good workers and at best they work as characters that affect the plot. It's time for them both to move on.

Beth Phoenix & Natalya & Bella Twins versus Eve & Kelly Kelly & Alicia Fox & Tamina 
This was a surprise. No Divas match had been announced so the WWE went with their favorite tactic of throwing some random combination of women into a match together so they all get some face time. I feel really bad for Beth Phoenix and Natalya since they really love wrestling but are forced to work these matches.

John Cena versus Kane
I'm going to reiterate a point I've made elsewhere: adults who talk about wrestling on the innernette are not supposed to care about John Cena and Kane. We all think Kane is boring and that John Cena is John Cena. It's not for us. That's okay as long as we accept it.

If I was still my seven year old self who watched Robocop and Total Recall obsessively I would love this stuff. My twenty eight year old self who watches Robocop and Total Recall obsessively does not like it so much but understands why his younger self would like it. Look, kids see John Cena as a superman they want to grow up to be and Kane is really scary. Having a woman cry and Zack Ryder be involved just makes it even more appealing for children.

At the end of the day this feud does two things. First, it's not as bad as it could or should be. Second, it gets people who I don't really want to see all together in the same feud so they don't end up making everything else worse. Don't get me wrong, I'm kind of coming around to Cena but I'd rather he had a place holder feud with Kane before his match with The Rock instead of him burying all the guys I like. If he spends time in Kane Purgatory so Cody Rhodes and others can avoid getting Cena buried than I'm happy.

Brodus Clay versus Drew McIntyre 
I love Brodus Clay. The Funkasaurus is amazing. It's been almost a month and his schtick is still solid gold. I like Drew McIntyre but not enough to really care about his getting buried. Drew McIntyre deserves better but I can't be bothered to really care. Brodus Clay's entrance was longer than the match and I seriously have no problem with that.
There's nothing about this I don't love.
CM Punk versus Dolph Ziggler 
John Laurinaitis is the real reason this match was worth watching. He's amazing. The WWE Universe doesn't deserve him and only really cool people like me and the guys who post on the With Leather Open Discussions will miss Laurinaitis when he gets fired by HboringHH tonight. The rest of the match was good enough. Punk as a face is just annoying and last night's match just exemplified that. Ziggler was good, though, and despite this match not being as good as the Raw match they had a few weeks ago I was still happy with it.

The Royal Rumble 
The best way I can think to talk about the Royal Rumble match itself is to go through and talk about all the participants and wrap it up at the end with some closing thoughts.

1) The Miz - I love The Miz. He lasted a really long time and looked good. B+

2) Alex Riley - House show guy who has history with The Miz. Not bad! C

3) R-Truth - Man, way to strain credibility with this being random. Still, I like R-Truth. B

4) Cody Rhodes - CODY RHODES IS THE FUCKING MAN A++

5) Justin Gabriel - Hey, it's that guy with a funny accent and bad hair. It's okay, there's 30 spots so people like Justin Gabriel should be in it! C

6) Primo - I went to highschool with a guy who looks exactly like Primo. I also went to highschool in Puerto Rico so that's probably why. Still, I like Primo and Epico and he did fine. C+

7) Mick Foley - I want to love Mick Foley even when he's not being set on fire and thrown into thumb tacks. The Royal Rumble should have some older guys in it and Mick Foley is a good one for that role. Whatever. C

8) Ricardo Rodriguez - I'm going to complain about a lot of things here soon so I need to make sure everyone knows that Ricardo is not a problem. When Alberto del Rio's music hit I was excited because I like ADR. We then heard car horns and I was happy because his schtick makes me happy. Then we see the most beat up car ever and it turns out that it's Ricardo coming out to wrestle in tighty whities. It was amazing. I'm okay wasting 1 of 30 spots on a gimmick if it's going to be this funny. This was probably the best moment of last night. A++++++


9) Santino - Hey, Santino almost won it last year or something! I guess. One of the things the Royal Rumble can do is get jokes or plot points out of the way without making a big deal out of it. Having Mr Socko and the Cobra fight last night was a joke we all knew was coming and it was funny when it happened last night. Cody Rhodes kicked his ass out later on, too, so, hey, Santino, good job. B

10) Epico - See Primo. C+

11) Kofi Kingston - WHY IS KOFI KINGSTON THE RIDDLER? Riddle me this riddle me that which Jamaican stereotype needs a new teammate who can stop smoking pot? Kofi had a great spot last night, though, so I can forgive his weird gear. B+

12) Jerry Lawler - BOOOOO JERRY LAWLER BOOOOO F-

13) Ezekial Jackson - Eh, it's Big Zeke. He fought some with Cody Rhodes so that was a good continuation.

14) Jinder Mahal - Jobbers who are on every week should get some time to do something at the Royal Rumble. C

15) The Great Khali - No one wants the Khali. No one likes him. Just stop it. He can't even walk. As far as surprise entrants go this was probably the worst. Still not as upsetting as others, but just pointless. D

16) Hunico - Man, I love Hunico. I think this guy is the total package. He can do awesome stuff from the top rope. He can brawl. He can grapple. He's good on the mic. I'm a big Hunico fan. I'm sad he didn't get to do much last night, though, but his inclusion is a good start. B

17) Booker T - I'm okay with Booker T entering. Cody Rhodes eliminating him works since they had a recent feud. Booker T manages to still be relevant and not hurt his legacy. I like Booker T is what I'm trying to say. B

18) Dolph Ziggler - DOLPH ZIGGLER IS THE MAN. I'll talk more about that later. A

19) Jim Duggan - Jim Duggan coming out wasn't a bad thing. He got a good pop and it's whatever. Not a total waste. There's one really big problem with his entrance that I'll talk about later. C+

20) Michael Cole - BOOOOO MICHAEL COLE BOOOOO F

21) Kharma - SWEET! She should have done more but I'm just glad to have her back because maybe we can have all the other divas turn into valets as Beth Phoenix and Kharma have a year long feud. B+

22) Sheamus - LOOK HERE FELLA I LIKE SHEAMUS A

23) Road Dogg - No, just no. At least it wasn't X Pac? D-

24) Jey Uso - Around this time everyone started to think the same thing: Wait, aren't there like 10 other big names that have yet to show up? It's not Jey Uso's fault or anything. He deserved a shot at the Royal Rumble, but man this field is really bad so far. C

25) Jack Swagger - He didn't do any push ups on his way in and lost because of it. Way to ruin your chance at Wrestlemania glory, Swag. B-

26) Wade Barrett - THE BARRETT BARRAGE LASTED ALL OF THREE MINUTES. I like Barrett and think he was a believable, if unlikely, person to win. B-

27) David Otunga - Otunga not only came out at the best slot but after playing a ton of WWE '12 Royal Rumble matches where Otunga won (he's seriously the winningest Royal Rumble person I have in that game) I was really excited. O DOG!!! He didn't win. B

28) Randy Orton - My pick to win tonight. His coming out so late and not winning is probably due to his not being 100% after his injury. He helped put over a bunch of people last year so I've become a fan. B

29) Jericho - I have a hard time calling him "Chris Jericho". He's just Jericho. He doesn't put people into "The Walls of Chris Jericho". I thought he had a real good chance of winning. He didn't. Whatever. Him winning and cutting an awesome promo, something he can be counted on for, would have made this PPV twice as good. I'm glad he didn't win for reasons I'll get to later.  B

30) Big Show - Ugh, Big Show, why? C-

General Thoughts 
The first thought I, and everyone else, seems to have is that this field was terrible. Even if the field wasn't bad, and it really wasn't that bad, it was staggered really poorly. There are several people on this list that simply should not be there. It also didn't help that all the probably winners (Sheamus, Barrett, Orton, Jericho) all came out at the end. It was all just kind of weird and felt extremely anti climatic. At a certain point I didn't care who was next and by time we started getting people worth being excited about it was too late.

 Thinking about this some more I think we need to understand that what is more important than winning the Royal Rumble is being the person, or in this case the group, that was constant throughout. The entire match was carried by The Miz and Cody Rhodes (plus Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston to a lesser extent). They all lasted an incredibly long time and made the actual match interesting enough to watch. I think it says volumes that the WWE chose those guys to carry the biggest single match of the year.

 There were a lot of people I was expecting, and hoping in all of these cases, to make surprise entrances who never did. I really expected Christian and Alberto del Rio to make surprise appearances but I guess they were too injured to do so. I expected Golddust to appear and advance his feud with Cody Rhodes. There are others but those were the big three. One of the big failures last night was that it spent a lot of spots on total wastes instead of letting newer people get a chance and to develop a fued or something. Tyler Reks is really unique looking and his appearance could have given him something to do and maybe give him a few new fans. Yoshi Tatsu would go over huge with kids and could do something interesting. Instead we get Jerry Lawler (BOOOOOO!) and others.

 Even the people we did get didn't get to do much. Hunico should have had a chance to single someone out and get a feud or something going. There's so much wasted potential here that it makes me sad.

 I am glad Sheamus won. I really like Jericho and his current gimmick is amazing but the Royal Rumble should be won by someone that is there week in and week out doing good work. Jericho doesn't need the Royal Rumble win to feud with CM Punk. Those two can naturally develop a feud and have a match at Wrestlemania and it'll work. Sheamus has been stuck fighting Jinder Mahal for months and the Royal Rumble win gives him something to do. A Sheamus versus Daniel Bryan feud and Wrestlemania match will be really great. Those are two people I like and respect and putting them together will be really interesting. The other possibility, even if it's a longshot, is that I could see Sheamus calling out Undertaker. Sheamus is young enough that his ending the streak, or just putting on a great match with Taker, will help push him and cement him as a top draw for years. He's also one of the few people that I 1) want to see face Undertaker, 2) is young enough to really benefit, 3) could plausibly win, and 4) isn't HHH.

The biggest problem of the night was that the Royal Rumble match had no storylines or drama in it.  Stuff just happened and there was no clear story being told.  There was no narrative.  It just meandered around and it didn't give anyone anything to do.  I couldn't remember who threw out who or anything, really.  Matches need to tell a story and when you have the biggest match of the year that has 30 people in it and it can't manage to tell a single story, much less a coherent one, we have a problem.

EDIT: I forgot to talk about one thing that really bugged me last night.  In the middle of the Rumble we start getting all of their "ethnic stereotype" wrestlers come out.  I even like some of these guys but their gimmicks and booking is just racist and terrible.  We get a bunch of these guys, and again I want to reiterate that I really like some of them, and after they all get in we get Hacksaw Jim Duggan who's whole gimmick is just loving America.  It was weird and offputting.  Stop doing that stuff, WWE.

On the whole this was a pretty lackluster PPV. Raw and Smackdown have been solid since the TLC PPV and I was really excited for the Royal Rumble. It's my favorite match of the year and last night was definitely one of the least memorable or interesting in a long while. Between the self indulgent surprise entrants to the weird lumping of wrestlers, it just didn't work. All the same, I still had a good time watching it and it was a really fun time commenting on it last night with the brilliant folks at With Leather. The sense of cameraderie really helps make disappointing PPVs worthwhile.

"POOPIES AWARD WINNING" THESTINGER

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