Sunday, January 24, 2016

LIVE Royal Rumble thoughts - January 24, 2016

11:01 - Definitely one of the better Rumbles we've seen, compared to the last few years.  There were some nice surprises, a few different people looked good, and some of the actions and eliminations gave us an indication of what might happen at WrestleMania.  I don't even mind Triple H winning -- it was a better option than Roman Reigns.  And I was thrilled they went with Dean Ambrose as the runner up instead of Reigns (although his elimination was a bit weak).  Overall, a pretty good show.

10:54 - Exciting few sequences there.

10:52 - Oh yeah, new gear for Triple H.  By the way, there are like six guys still in there and we only have 7 minuets left.

10:49 - I think the fans will only resent the fact that Reigns spent 20 minutes or whatever outside the ring.  They'll already resent the "All vs. One" storyline...this doesn't help.

10:47 - New gear for Ziggler as well.

10:44 - The Wyatt Family immediately showing that they're smarter than the League of Nations...

10:42 - Del Rio is 26.  We have Wyatt, Sheamus, presumably Triple H.....and who else?

10:35 - Big points to Mark Henry for rocking two different attires for his two matches.  Okay, he's number 22, right?  That leaves 8 more -- of which we know Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Jack Swagger, and presumably Triple H.  Am I missing any other confirmed names?  Are Xavier and Big E confirmed or just assumed?

10:32 - Kinda funny how, since Owens entered, it's pretty much all been about him.

10:28 - Here's hoping that leads to Owens vs. Styles at WrestleMania?  More likely -- we'll see them wrestle at Fast Lane and then they'll be in some mutli person schmoz at Mania.

10:25 - And after all that, they missed Kofi's elimination?!?!

10:24 - Some new red gear for Neville.  And I can already feel the annoyance of Reigns disappearing for the remainder of the match and returning at the end to win.

10:21 - What good is all of this if you let him just sleep outside?  You're just giving him time to relax.  Slide him in the ring and let somebody throw him out.

10:20 - Stardust debuting some new purple gear.

10:18 - I also like the heelish spin on Kofi's near elimination.  Instead of some amazing athletic prowess, he's just sitting on Big E's shoulders and chilling on the outside.

And is this their way of taking Roman out of the match and allowing him to sneak back in at the end?

10:16 - Alright, I'll admit it....I got a kick out of that.

10:14 - Okay, Titus, Ryback, Kane, or Goldust need to go.

10:09 - Considering that he didn't even bother zipping his jacket or wearing his hood, why did he even bother putting the jacket on?

10:05 - I wish Jericho would go back to the long tights.  The trunks at this juncture of his career make him look short and fat.

10:00 - Very poor camera work there.  The fans reacted but Roman hadn't yet, and the camera still hadn't shown who had entered.  It really took away from the moment.  Lackluster entrance as a result.

Plus that theme song wasn't my cup of tea.

9:59 - Or not.

9:57 - Not the perfect choice, but I do enjoy Rumbles where the final two people the prior year are the first two people the current year.  I expect both of these guys will last a while.

9:55 - New gear for Reigns as he now has a gold logo on his chest.

9:54 - Okay, we know Reigns is #1......who's #2?  I would think it needs to either be a big star, a big surprise, or somebody close to Reigns.

9:44 - Pretty awesome that the Divas match actually got a pretty big post-match angle build.  And it was handled pretty great, too, allowing Sasha to have a bit of an edge (by beating on Becky) instead of a lovable and plucky babyface.  And they didn't prolong Sasha's attack on Charlotte too long, either.  They didn't have them pretend to be friends for weeks and then turn on her.  It happened pretty much immediately, as it should have.  My only complaint is that Sasha's music didn't seem to play loud enough when she initially came out, which may have diluted the impact a bit.  Although the fans certainly reacted.  Good stuff.

So far, solid show with pretty much all the right winners.  Now, the toughest part....a smartly booked Rumble.

9:26 - I really feel like Charlotte SHOULD win this, since she's beginning to find herself as a heel champion, but part of me wonders if they might have Becky win so that there's at least one new champion tonight.  The question is, if Charlotte wins, who challenges her at WrestleMania?  Sasha Banks?  Is she healthy?

9:20 - Now officially anxiously awaiting February 21st.  And not for Fast Lane.

9:12 - So far this was my least favorite match of the night.  I'm happy that Kalisto got a big win here, but I have to wonder why they bothered giving him the title in the first place just to immediately take it away (and then give it back to him).  Why not just hold off the title shot until the Royal Rumble, where he could get his win and keep the title?

9:11 - A lot of these moves don't seem to be hitting correctly.

8:58 - As noted during the preshow, some new gear for Del Rio.  I'm a bit surprised the didn't put this in the "main event" spot before the Rumble, but I guess it makes sense.  Might as well give the male competitors who are doing double duty some time to rest during the Divas match.

8:51 - Really awesome finishing sequence there with Big E catching Jey Uso in the middle of the Big Splash into the Big Ending.  Great timing and nice looking all around.  As long as the New Day continues being entertaining and featured in a prominent role, why not keep the titles on them?

8:35 - I give Kofi half points here.  The New Day IS wearing new attire, but it's merely the inverse of their prior attire.  I miss the days when Kofi used to whip out some sort of comic-book inspired attire for the Royal Rumble.

8:33 - Why are they playing the Raw music right now?

8:30 - Fun match with the right winner that left both guys looking good.  It was smart to end the match on the high impact move.  WWE sometimes has the tendency to not end the match after something high impact, instead forcing the match to end on a signature move.  This was the smart ending.

8:09 - I know Ambrose isn't the biggest guy, but there's something about a black wifebeater that makes him look especially scrawny.  For whatever reason, even the white wifebeater makes him look more impressive.  I wish he would go back to the Ambrose shirts with the sleeves cut off.  Maybe for the Rumble itself?

8:06 - I've said it before and I'll say it again:  I absolutely love the statue promotional artwork for the Rumble.  Top notch stuff.

8:03 - That was a really odd way to begin the show.  It really didn't add any value to anything at all.  Nor did it give any hints about what's to come.

7:48 - I'm surprised (but happy) that they didn't alter the crowd reactions for the Batista and Reigns wins.

7:45 - 3MB AND Rybaxel references!  This is surprisingly entertaining.

7:42 - Wow, Jack Swagger and Mark Henry was the team I thought was least likely to lose.  They're the least over of the face teams on there and neither of them have a chance of winning, so what was the logic?

7:37 - I would legitimately watch all of those shows.

7:35 - It's a testament to Sandow's overnness that the fans still react this way to him.  It's truly unfortunate that WWE never capitalized on ihs popularity following the whole Mizdow thing.

7:30 - Wow, they're not even attempting to be impartial.  The announcing team is just the Raw announce team.

By the way, I'm guessing the Dudleys win this.  Also, how sad is this turn of events for Damien Sandow.  And why isn't Darren Young teaming with Titus, storyline wise?

7:17 - I find it odd that Alberto Del Rio has consistently worn long tights at live events but continues to wear trunks on television.  What's the motivation there?  But, at the very least, he is sporting some new attire.  Good job, Alberto.

7:16 - Okay, the Network is now working.  Has Jerry Lawler been demoted to the preshow panel now?  Wow.

Anyway, here are some predictions:

I think each champion should retain their championship in the non-Rumble matches.  However, my gut tells me one person will lose their title.  I'm guessing that will either be Ambrose or the New Day, depending on what the WrestleMania plans are for each person involved.  I'll go out on a limb and say New Day loses their tag titles, and the rest retain.

Okay, now the Rumble itself.  We will obviously see a Kofi fake out elimination, but due to his new heel status, I suspect he will get eliminated immediately afterwards.

As noted in my earlier posts, the Royal Rumble gives us the opportunity to "make" several people -- not just the winner.  There SHOULD be somebody who eliminates a bunch of people.  I suspect that could be Braun Strowman, but I also think it could be Brock Lesnar or Bray Wyatt as well.

There should also be somebody who lasts a long time.  By default, that will likely be Roman Reigns.  But I'd love to see somebody like Dean Ambrose get that honor.

How about surprise entrants.  The strong pick is AJ Styles.  If AJ appears, I suspect we will also see Finn Balor (but not the rest of the Bullet Club, who likely won't be as recognized by casual fans).  I think there's a chance we may see Samoa Joe as well.

Unfortunately, I don't think we'll see Cena, Bryan, Cesaro, Orton, or Rollins.  Well, Orton isn't too unfortunate.

Who do I see winning?  The three popular choices are Reigns, Triple H, and Brock Lesnar.  I think WWE will play it safe and will have one of them win (gut tells me Triple H).  If Roman isn't winning, I would do something shocking and have his elimination relatively early -- in the 20's.  Making the fans realize that there will definitely be a new WWE Champion will really ignite interest.  I'd LOVE to see something shocking and new, but I don't think we will.

7:03 - Okay, so the past two PPV events had issues with the WWE Network.  Right now the kickoff show hasn't started on my screen yet (FBI warning played, but now it's just a black screen).  After, what, two years or so, you'd think WWE would have mastered the higher capacity of viewers for their PPV events.

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LIVE Royal Rumble 2010 thoughts

1:02 - And while a long final two sequence has been popular lately (and there's a great place for it), the final three after Michaels' elimination is surprisingly quick.  Batista goes for a clothesline, but Cena ducks and eliminates him.  Edge goes for a spear, but Cena blocks it.  Cena goes for a clothesline, but Edge dodges it and throws him out.  It all happens in about a minute or so.  Yet it worked -- in part because of the great camera work again.  Cena rising to his feet after eliminating Batista, as we see Edge in the background sizing him up for the spear.

Once again, the last great Rumble, in my opinion. But, again, it's somewhat depressing to see how many people are no longer with the company after just 6 years.  Let's look at the entrants:

Dolph Ziggler - Yes
Evan Bourne - No
CM Punk - No
JTG - No
Great Khali - No
Beth Phoenix - No
Zack Ryder - Yes
Triple H - Yes
Drew McIntyre - No
Ted DiBiase - No
John Morrison - No
Kane - Yes
Cody Rhodes - Yes
MVP - No
Carlito - No
Miz - Yes
Matt Hardy - No
Shawn Michaels - No (but still appears on occasion)
John Cena - Yes
Shelton Benjamin - No
Yoshi Tatsu - No
Big Show - Yes
Mark Henry - Yes
Chris Masters - No
R-Truth - Yes
Jack Swagger - Yes
Kofi Kingston - Yes
Chris Jericho -Yes
Edge - No (but still appears on ocassion)
Batista - No

That is 11 Yes's and 19 No's.  And most of those Yes's, sadly enough, were guys who were in the Rumble six years prior to that.  Which means they really didn't retain new talent, they only retained established talent.  A sad realization.

Check the blog later and I'll have my LIVE thoughts for this year's Rumble, as well as my prediction on the winner, who will stand out, and who might be a surprise entrant.

12:59 - One of the greatest eliminations in Rumble history -- Shawn Michaels unceremoniously losing grip of the rope and simply falling to the ground.  It was awesome because it WASN'T this climatic moment that was built up.  It just....happened.  It felt real, almost like it was a mistake (people insisted it was, at one point).  It just added some realism to the whole thing and had people invested.  And, again, Michaels got eliminated (and people were clearly rooting for him) and his story continued.  He beat up refs.  He tried to re-enter.  The fans understood the story wasn't over, so they were able to move on to the eventual winner.

12:57 - Weird thing I had noticed but never quite understood -- Batista has the Smackdown logo on his trunks.

12:56 - It what feels like a rare occurrence, Batista comes in at 30 and is immediately in the final four (with Cena, Edge, and HBK).  A great final four that could have seen any of them win.

12:55 - And to my earlier point -- Chris Jericho didn't last in the Rumble long but his elimination meant something.  It was about the Edge/Jericho story.

12:52 - Edge enters at 29 and the place explodes.  Chris Jericho's reaction (as well as the reaction of the announcers) is great.  He comes in, hits everybody with a spear, and then eliminates Jericho.  Truly awesome moment.

Also, great camera work there, as Jericho's back was in frame as Edge's music started playing and his entrance video appeared on screen.  Overall great moment.

12:48 - Kofi Kingston enters.  This was before he started doing the comic inspired trunks (which I hope he brings back this year, despite his current New Day branding).  This was also before they started doing his crazy almost eliminations (which typically I love, but have been a bit too contrived lately).

Chris Jericho enters now.  If I recall correctly, he was a favorite to win (other than Michaels).

12:47 - Jack Swagger with his spiked hair and old theme comes in, with the goofiest look on his face as he runs into the ring.

12:45 - R-Truth of all people enter and eliminates both Big Show and Mark Henry.  He then hits signature spots on both Cena and HBK.  I don't recall this turning into any sort of push.

12:42 - Some fun sequences where Big Show and Cena both try to eliminate Shawn Michaels.  The fans are definitely invested.  I don't think Reigns will see the same sympathy.

Mark Henry enters and based on his bright red singlet, I'm guessing he's a face right now.  I think he was teaming with MVP periodically at the time.

12:40 - Yoshi Tatsu had entered and gotten eliminated but it wasn't worth talking about.  Big Show enters and based on his expression, it appears he's a heel at this point in his career.  Although I could be wrong.

12:38 - Triple H saves Shawn Michaels from an elimination, but Shawn turns around and eliminates him.  Again -- a great moment.  Not every major star needs to make it to the final 4.  The big moments need to be spread out.

Shelton Benjamin enters but is eliminated by Cena.  Another young guy who didn't last in the company.

12:37 - John Cena arrives!  A legitimately huge moment that, again, has been lacking in recent years.  They've done a really poor job of making big moments like these.  In a fun sequence, DX attempts to double team Cena but he overcomes them.

12:35 - Shawn Michaels enters and immediately gets rid of Carlito.  Then Cody Rhodes.  Then Ted DiBiase.  Then John Morrison.  Drew McIntyre lasts the long (again, odd), but is ultimately dumped by Triple H and Shawn Michaels.  Who are now alone in the ring.  Until....

12:34 - Matt Hardy enters to a big pop (rocking the Mattitude tights, a look I preferred over the baggy jeans) and hits a couple of signature moves before being shockingly eliminated. Rather odd, actually.  Kane is eliminated shortly after.

12:32 - Carlito hits the backstabber on virtually everybody in the ring.  This is a spot that's fun, but has been overused in recent years.  Now it seems like EVERYBODY enters, regardless of how over or high up on the card they are, and hits their finisher on everybody.  It loses its impact.

Miz also enters and is quickly followed by MVP and they eliminate each other.

12:31 - Carlito enters sporting an arm sleeve before they became a thing.  We haven't seen an elimination for a while, but I suspect I know why (you know who is entering soon....)

12:29 - MVP comes out next, but is promptly attacked by the Miz.  I wouldn't be shocked to see MVP fill the Bubba Ray spot this year as a surprise one-time return entrant.

12:27 - Cody Rhodes now enters (finally a young person who is still with WWE).  I'm kinda eager to see what new attire he has this year as Stardust.

12:25 - Sad realization.  A big deal is being made about the new up-and-comers in DiBiase, Morrison, and McIntyre.  Of all the people in the ring, only Triple H and Kane are still with WWE.  The rest all left, pretty much as jobbers.

12:23 - Ted DiBiase enters with the Legacy theme which, I never realized, has the line "it's a New Day."

John Morrison enters (sans beard).  He's a guy I wish would return.

12:20 - Triple H arrives to "ruin the fun."  This is less frustrating to watch now, because obviously Punk ended up being okay, but I remember being really annoyed by it at the time.  Punk was clearly on fire at this time in his career and for Triple H of all people to come in and eliminate him when fans were so behind him was annoying.

Drew McIntyre enters and they make a big deal about him, which is weird (although from what I understand, he's a big deal again now in TNA).  In an admittedly neat sequence, Triple H blocks the GTS and eliminates Punk.

12:17 - Beth eliminates Khali, roughs up Punk a bit (they were dating at the time, no?), before Punk hits her with the GTS and eliminates her.  This has to be one of the last time we've seen man-on-woman violence on WWE television, right?

Zack Ryder enters during his "half tights/half trunks" attire and is swiftly eliminated.  This was before Ryder took off.

12:16 - Fun interaction between Khali and Punk.  A not-quite-90 minutes later, Beth Phoenix enters.

12:14 - "As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted."  JTG was not long for this world.

12:12 - CM Punk with his original theme and awesome long hair and crazy beard comes in.  Loved this phase of Punk's career (despite being, for all intents and purposes, his least successful from a win/loss standpoint) and the Christ look.

Punk eliminates both guys (even considering Ziggler's current role, it's surprising to see him eliminated so quickly).  Love the Punk promo in between entrants here.  I also love that he gave this religious sermon and closes it with "it's clobbering time."

12:09 - You know what?  Let's do a LIVE thoughts on Rumble 2010.  Dolph Ziggler is #1 with his "I Am Perfection" theme.  Number 2 is Evan Bourne.  Matt Striker brings up a point I've mentioned before -- #1 gets all the accolades, but #2 starts at the same time.  It's weird hearing all of these "from Raw" and "from Smackdown" references.

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Pre-Royal Rumble Thoughts

Tonight is the Royal Rumble, one of my favorite events of the year.  And despite the past few years being disappointing, I'm still eager to see what they have in store.

But beyond having the wrong person win the past couple of years, the Rumble itself just hasn't been very solidly booked.  The greatest Royal Rumbles had numerous stories that led various Superstars into WrestleMania or, at the very least, gave them a great push.  The Royal Rumble typically had a few important roles:  Somebody who lasted a long time and somebody who eliminates a lot of people.  Last year, for all intents and purposes, that hasn't really happened.  Not to any memorable degree, anyway.  And the past few years have also been about one thing -- the winner.  In years' past, various people walked out of the Royal Rumble with a story.  Maybe it was based on a shocking elimination.  Last year, for example, Daniel Bryan (the "favorite" to win) got eliminated and.....nothing happened following that.

In my view, the last truly great Royal Rumble (which I am about to watch right now) was 2010.  You had a great "side story" in Shawn Michaels desperately trying to win due to his obsession with beating the Undertaker at WrestleMania.  You a fun Rumble story with CM Punk clearing the ring and giving promos in between entrants.  You had a heroic moment with Triple H entering and eliminating him.  You had a shocking elimination in Shawn Michaels eliminating Triple H.  You had surprise entrants such as Beth Phoenix and Edge (which also counts as a shocking return).  And you had a new winner that people wanted to root for in Edge.

I hope we see some of the above moments tonight.

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