If you were a Chicagoan watching the WWE Royal Rumble last night you should have been left with a sense of outrage. Why? Because in addition to the signature 30-man over-the-top-rope battle royal, the pay-per-view was highlighted by a main event featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson versus Chicago’s favorite son CM Punk. And Punk got screwed.
Entering the RR, Punk was riding a history-making streak of 434 consecutive days as the WWE Champion and fans were divided on whether the Rock would break it. If you were a hard-core wrestling fan, you were rooting for Punk to hold on to the belt. You see, unlike the Rock versus John Cena match from last year’s Wrestlemania, championship reigns like this were truly “once in a lifetime” deals.
There were even rumors that Punk would carry his streak into Wrestlemania 29 and go up against the Undertaker (who is an undefeated 20-0 at WM) for a “streak versus streak” match. Alas, it was not to be as Punk ended up dropping the belt to the superstar-turned-movie star after getting hit with “The People’s Elbow”, a move only exceeded in ridiculousness by Dude Love’s “Sweet Shin Music.”
The disappointing part was that the PPV had so many high spots and appeared to be promising something fresh and new. Here were some of the highlights for me:
- The opening match between Alberto Del Rio and The Big Show was shockingly brutal and entertaining; with one of the most original endings I’d seen in a while. I don’t want to spoil it, but seriously, I was laughing so hard at how the match ended, not because it was comical but ingenious!
- Team “Hell No” (Kane & Daniel Bryan) continues to be the most entertaining duo in the WWE today. After defending their Tag Team title against "Rhodes Scholars" (Cody Rhodes and Damian Sandow) the teammates became competitors during the Royal Rumble. After eliminating his partner Kane, Bryan literally found himself in the "Big Red Machine’s" arms, begging him to carry him back into the ring to avoid elimination. Kane didn’t feel all that generous considering his own partner was to blame for his ejection. The whole scenario was hilarious.
- Kofi Kingston’s use of an office chair to prevent elimination from the RR was brilliant and an excellent follow-up to his “hand-stand” stunt from the last Rumble.
- Dolph Ziggler announced that he would be entering the match in the #1 slot and predicted that not only would he win the battle royal, he would also cash in his "Money in the Bank" contract to win the World Heavyweight Championship then go on and unify it with the WWE title at Wrestlemania. The prospect of this actually happening had me rooting for Ziggler all night!
- The surprise return of “Y2J” Chris Jericho to the WWE when he entered the Royal Rumble in the #2 slot was huge, as evidenced by the cheers of the crowd when the lights went out and Y2J's “lite brite jacket” appeared on the entrance ramp.
I was simply giddy when Golddust (AKA Dustin Rhodes) appeared and entered the RR to take on his younger brother Cody Rhodes.
I would lose interest in the match once Sheamus eliminated Ziggler and the contestants were whittled down to Sheamus, Ryback and John Cena. And yeah, I was less than thrilled when Cena won. Again.
So now it looks like we have a set up for another match between The Rock versus John Cena, this time with the WWE Championship on the line at Wrestlemania. And I couldn’t be more underwhelmed.
This whole scenario smacked of Wrestlemania 9 to me, and the infamous Bret Hart versus Yokozuna match. With Hulk Hogan out of the picture at the time, the WWF (as it was called at the time) put all their effort into building “The Hitman” as their top good guy. It was supposedly a time when the talent that had been languishing under the likes of Hogan and all the muscled-monsters of the WWF would get their chance in the spotlight. The match would end when Yokozuna defeated Bret Hart after interference from Mr. Fuji. Once his protégé won the WWF title, Fuji would inexplicably challenge Hulk Hogan (who just happened to be at ring side at the time) to a title match at that very moment! In one of the most bizarre and head-scratching moments in Wrestlemania history, Hogan would win the belt back and the status quo in the WWF would be restored.
It makes me wonder if having Bret Hart appear at the beginning of the Royal Rumble wasn’t some sort of omen. When you consider that the booking of the Royal Rumble was done to restore the status quo of The Rock and John Cena as the top dogs in the promotion, I think it was.
And just like he did Bret Hart, Vince McMahon screwed CM Punk.
What do YOU think?
ELLIOTT SERRANO IS A REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR AND CHICAGO’S TOP GEEK.
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