Powell's WWE Royal Rumble Hitlist: The Rock wins the WWE Championship, John Cena wins the Royal Rumble, Chris Jericho makes a surprise return, Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show in a Last Man Standing match
By Jason Powell
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WWE Royal Rumble Hits
The Rock vs. C.M. Punk: A very good main event. I know some people hated the restart of the match. I wasn't paying close attention to the time, so I bought into the possibility that they were going with the surprise finish of Punk going over. I knew there was a chance Vince McMahon would restart the match, but I also wondered if they were going to shock everyone by stripping Punk of the title. Once the match was restarted, it was pretty obvious where things were going, but I still enjoyed the overall ride they took us on.
It's cool that Punk can claim he was wronged because he scored the pin on Rock and the referee couldn't call what he did not see. It's even cooler that he controlled so much of the match. Punk never flinched with Rock during the buildup to the match, and he got a huge portion of the offense of the match. He may have lost the match, but he was treated like a star in the process. That won't be enough for some fans who are acting like they can't live in a world where Punk doesn't hold the championship. We'll miss you.
The only thing I really didn't care for was the People's Elbow finisher. I'm not a hater of the comedy move because it gets such a good reaction, but it's just not a WWE Championship finishing move. Why not go with the Rock Bottom or have Punk tap to the Sharpshooter? I hope they weren't going for the symbolism of The People's Elbow finishing off the man who said the people don't matter. Time stood still when the table collapsed and Rock appeared to injure his knee when the table collapsed. The hearts of everyone from Vince McMahon to John Cena to producers of Rock's upcoming Hollywood projects (if they were watching) must have skipped a couple beats.
The Royal Rumble match: This got off to a red hot start with the surprise return of Chris Jericho, which was big enough to warrant it's own section below. WWE told some good stories here with Jericho and Dolph Ziggler, Bo Dallas and Wade Barrett, and Ryback eliminating big dogs Randy Orton and Sheamus before being the last man eliminated from the match. I didn't care for the way Ryback was eliminated because it felt a little too easy for Cena to eliminate the monster. I thought they would have had something a little more creative in mind to protect Ryback.
Okay, Cena won again and it was a predictable outcome. I must admit that I was hoping they would surprise us by having the World Hvt. Championship challenger win to set up Cena somehow earning his title shot at Elimination Chamber. It didn't happen. WWE wanted to set up what the inevitable WWE Championship match between The Rock and Cena for WrestleMania 29. It's a rematch of one of the biggest and most successful main events in company history.
How could they not go back to it? You can suggest that other main events would have been more entertaining to you and you can speculate that your main event may have been more profitable, but can you really blame them for going with the match that's proven to be successful. Maybe it won't be as successful the second time around, but I'd be shocked if the drop off is so significant that people will be deeming this a poor call once the buy rate information is released.
Royal Rumble surprises: Chris Jericho was the MVP of the Rumble match. Dolph Ziggler worked a hell of a match and bumped all over the place during his lengthy run, but it was Jericho's surprise return that really made the match and created the "anything can happen" vibe. It always sounds strange coming from someone in my position, but I'm happy WWE and Jericho managed to keep his return a secret. No one saw that coming and thus it felt truly special.
Goldust was also a fun surprise and I loved the exchange he had with brother Cody. I'd love to see them get their WrestleMania match. I could also see Rhodes Scholars vs. Goldust and Booker T as a possibility. It was also nice to see Santino Marella make a surprise appearance following his neck injury scare. The Godfather didn't last long, yet it was a fun quick trip down memory lane. The Rumble match had fewer surprises than most expected, yet they were timed well, a couple made a big impact on the match, and there were just enough to keep things interesting.
Antonio Cesaro vs. The Miz: A good free preview opener. Cesaro looked strong and Miz seemed to be protected with the ankle injury. It looks like we haven't seen the last of these two based on their Rumble exchange.
Overall show: There was never a time when it felt like a match was unimportant or filler. Everything felt like it had a purpose. Rock vs. Punk captured the big match feel, and the Royal Rumble match remains an annual classic. It's good to see WWE is beefing up the Rumble weekend with FanFest events. They could turn the Rumble into a tourist destination much like WrestleMania. In fact, I think the average fan would rather travel to see the Rumble in person than SummerSlam.
WWE Royal Rumble Misses
Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show: They worked a hell of a match and put in a Hit-worthy performance. The problem was the horrible finish. We saw the same routine from John Cena and Batista at Extreme Rules in 2010. It wasn't a good finish then and in this case it hurt what was an otherwise strong match. Thus, the Miss is strictly for the deflating finish, not for the body of the match.
Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow: I was surprised by how flat the live crowd was during this match. Bryan even had to play to them to get some reaction after performing a suicide dive at one point. Oddly enough, the same crowd was popping for Bryan during the Rumble match later in the show. I think most people were ready to see a title change. As I mentioned last night, I have no desire to see this on pay-per-view again without a title change on television first.
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