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WWE Royal Rumble 2005

by Scrooge McSuck

- Originally broadcasted on Pay-Per-View on January 30th, 2005, from the Save Mart Center in Fresno, CA. I don't recall much of this show, which means I've either only seen it once when it was first broadcasted, or have never seen it, period. I do recall the commercials, as the poster reminds me of their West Side Story spoof/homage. Rey Mysterio wearing a wig OVER his mask still gets a chuckle out of me. Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross are calling it for Raw, Michael Cole and Tazz calling it for Smackdown.

Opening Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Edge:

Okay, I must apologize right now: I have no idea what the deal is between these two. Edge is freshly turned heel, if memory serves correctly, but other than that, I dunno. Edge attacks before the bell, but Shawn ends up dumping him to the floor. Shawn with chops, Edge with rights. Whip is reversed and Michaels with a Thesz Press. He tosses Edge to the floor again, possibly unclear of the rules. Shawn misses a baseball slide, and they kind of lose-track of the spot until Edge reverse DDT's Shawn on the floor. Edge connects with his own attempt at a baseball slide. Back inside, Edge pounds away and sends Michaels hard to the corner. Shawn offers a comeback but jumps into a powerbomb. Edge covers for two, and slaps on a rear chinlock.

Michaels finds his way back to his feet, but gets yanked down with a handful of hair. Edge misses a charge to the corner, but remains in control, hanging Michaels across the top rope. He misses a body press from the top rope, and Michaels with an Oklahoma Roll for two. Edge with a hard boot to the face for two. Edge's offense continues to rely on using Michaels' hair. Michaels shifts his weight on a back suplex, landing on top for two. Edge with a clothesline, then back to the chinlock. Michaels fights free and hits the Polish Hammer. Michaels with a pair of atomic drops and mounted punches. Sunset flip gets two. Shawn sweeps the legs and slingshots Edge to the buckle. Roll up for two. Edge threatens to walk, but Shawn follows. Edge uses a distraction from the referee to lay Michaels out with the Spear. Edge hits another Spear in the ring, but it only gets two. Michaels wins a slugfest from the top rope and connects with the elbow. Michaels goes for Sweet Chin Music, but Edge counters with an Electric Chair Drop. Edge with his goofy Sharpshooter, but Shawn never taps (usually). Lawler apparently forgot Shawn tapped at the previous year's Backlash PPV to Chris Benoit. Michaels with a cradle for two. Edge counters a roll up and hooks the top rope for the three count at 18:35. All that for such a lame finish? **1/2 Whatever they were going for, I just couldn't feel it. It was perfectly acceptable wrestling, but not the desirable match to open a show with, and just felt like it never really got going.

- Ric Flair and Eddie Guerrero pick their numbers. Flair likes his, Eddie hates his, so Eddie tries to steal Flair's number (and his wallet), but unfortunately, it's not allowed, and they are stuck with the numbers they've originally drawn.

Casket Match: The Undertaker vs. Heidenreich:

Please be short, please be short, please be short... It's one of those "I want to destroy the Undertaker because it's something to do" storylines, big whoop. 'Taker's Rumble Casket Match Record stands at 0-2... why should we make him the odds on favorite, again? 'Taker with a headlock, followed by a shoulder tackle and ARM DRAGS. Woah, Ricky Steamboat, save it for later. 'Taker with a single-leg crab, but Heidenreich makes it to the floor and tries taking a walk. Unfortunately, it must continue. Heidenreich takes over, using the Casket as a weapon and clubberin' away. 'Taker starts no-selling and goes for what looks like a Triangle Choke, but we're not into the MMA-Era of Undertaker, so it's just a transitional spot. Suddenly, Gene Snitsky shows up to help recreate the 1994 Royal Rumble Casket Match, and here comes Kane (via the casket) to help recreate the 1998 version, minus turning on 'Taker immediately after making the save. How do you make a bad match worse? By reminding us of over-booked nonsense from years passed. Heidenreich remains in control as it returns to a one-on-one match. Heidenreich fails at applying a Cobra Clutch properly, but the crowd still rallies. 'Taker traps his head in the casket and drops the leg across the lid. 'Taker comes off the ropes for a boot, but Heidenreich counters with a sidewalk slam. 'Taker refuses to lose (shocker) and mounts the comeback. Chokeslam and Tombstone, and it's all over for Heidenreich at 13:21. * It wasn't terrible and had a few cool spots, but should've ended with the run-in's. Unfortunately, we didn't get the epic Kane/Undertaker vs. Snitsky/Heidenreich Tag Match at WrestleMania 21 that was making the rounds at the time.

- Christian (along with Tomko) and John Cena have words. Christian challenges him to a rap battle ("Tomko, give me a beat" "No."), but Cena wins on the grounds of he's getting the bigger push. Probably the only good moment of Tomko's WWE run. Christian rhyming Transylvania with WrestleMania = Awesomeness.

WWE Championship Match:
John Bradshaw Layfield © vs. Kurt Angle vs. Big Show:

I don't know. Big Show was working as a token challenger of the month, but got it extended through to No Way Out in February, and Angle... uh... I guess Angle is in this in an attempt to carry the match to 3-stars. Angle and JBL are coming off a Last Man Standing Match on Smackdown, so Big Show is "the odd's on favorite." Angle graciously lets JBL and Show start. Show catches a body press, counters with a slam, and drops a leg for two. Angle tries his luck and it's all bad. JBL goes for a suplex, but guess how well that works out. Show with a double clothesline, but too bad this isn't Rumble Rules™. Show tries to Chokeslam JBL through a table, but Angle interrupts and knocks Show off the ring steps, through the table, instead. That's one way to increase the work-rate: KO Big Show for most of the match.

Back inside, Angle takes JBL down with an arm drag and hooks the armbar. What is this, Ricky Steamboat Appreciation Night? Angle sweeps the legs and continues to target the arm. JBL shrugs it off and drops Angle with a clothesline in the corner. Angle avoids a charge and takes him down with a German Suplex. JBL goes for the Clothesline from Heck, and gets taken down with another suplex. Angle-Slam is countered and JBL connects with a hard boot for two. Show (unfortunately) is back up to ruin the good match JBL and Angle were stringing together. Clotheslines and slams for everyone! Double Chokeslam is countered and we get THE DOUBLE GOOZLE! VINTAGE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS! Angle-Slam on Show. JBL boots Angle to the floor and covers for two. Show counters another Clothesline from Heck with the Chokeslam, but JBL gets the foot on the ropes at two. they take it to the floor, where Show tackles JBL through the barrier! That was a pretty new spot for WWE, at the time. Now it's required to happen once per show. Angle has a chair, but Show gives him a flapjack. Mark Jindrak makes the save, because I guess he was an Angle flunky. Now Luther Reigns joins in to try and beat Show down, while JBL's "Cabinet" (the Bashams and Orlando Jordan) try and help him up. JBL gets rolled back in, hits Angle with a lariat, and covers for three at 12:06. That seemed incredibly anti-climatic. *** Pretty good match, considering Triple Threats aren't my favorite. Big Show was used to his strengths, while JBL and Angle did their best in playing ping-pong balls for him. Didn't care for the finish, or the reminder of how useless the Basham's, Jordan, Reigns, and Jindrak were. I didn't even remember Angle had flunkies, so goes to show how well that went over.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Triple H © vs. Randy Orton:

This was still an issue? Triple H practically robbed Orton of the title at Unforgiven back in September, and here we are, FOUR MONTHS LATER. Orton desperately needed to turn heel again, and thankfully the creative team came through on that one. J.R. reminds me that there were TWO PPV's in January, the other being New Years Revolution, held in Puerto Rico for whatever reasons. Orton offers a respectful slap and scores an early near fall with a back slide. Orton goes for the RKO, but Hunter bails to the floor. Orton sends him back in and connects with a dropkick for two. Jim Brunzell would be proud. Orton goes for the RKO again and gets dumped over the top rope for it. Hunter sends him into the steps and mocks his signature pose, because why the hell not? Orton offers a comeback while the crowd chants "Randy Sucks." Hunter clips the previously injured knee, living out his fantasies of being Ric Flair. Hunter clips the knee again and drops an elbow. Hunter continues working the leg and slaps on the Figure-Four. This is quite an extended spot considering how early in the match we are. Orton takes offense to being bitch slapped and turns the move over.

Hunter keeps working the leg until being kicked into the Spanish Announcer's Table. Orton surprises him with a back breaker and slugs away in the corner. Crowd doesn't approve. Whip is reversed and Orton connects with a swinging neck breaker for two. Main Event Neckbreaker gets two. Powerslam for two. Hunter with an inverted atomic drop to cool Orton's comeback. Hunter to the top, only to get slammed off. Orton tries his luck and connects with a body press for two. Hunter catches Orton with the facebuster, but a Pedigree is countered with a slingshot to the buckle. Orton with failed RKO Attempt #3, and Hunter comes off the ropes with the running high knee. Orton counters the Pedigree with a short-clothesline for two. Orton with clubberin' blows, but a DDT fails. Orton's sympathetic face character continues to not get over. We get a ref' bump for the biggest pop of the match. Hunter whips out the Sledgehammer, because what's a Triple H Main Event without a Sledgehammer being used? Orton avoids damage by tripping Hunter into the ring post (to boos). Orton eyeballs the Sledgehammer, but Hunter lays him out with a clothesline. Orton continues to sell a head injury, but it's 2005, so nobody cares too much. Hunter ditches the Sledgehammer and casually finishes Orton off with the Pedigree at 21:35. *** Pretty good match, but unfortunately Orton's lack of babyface reaction hurt the story of the match. Instead of the crowd feeling bad for and rallying behind Orton, they just boo'ed his comebacks and popped for evil villain Triple H being the victor.

30-Man Royal Rumble Match:

Winner gets to choose whether he wants to challenge for the WWE Championship or World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 21. Eddie Guerrero is #1, and Chris Benoit, the 2004 Winner who went wire-to-wire, gets #2... does that mean we keep the clock going for him? J.R. notes he could watch these two wrestle ever day (sad face). They do some chain wrestling to tease us. #3 is Daniel Puder, the Tough Enough Winner who dared try and injure Kurt Angle during a shoot on Smackdown. He talks smack on the microphone and gets OBLITERATED. Benoit with a vicious back suplex, and Eddie with the Three Amigos. #4 is Hardcore Holly, insert your own joke here. The crowd cheers for Holly's rookie abuse, and the beating continues. Holly with the wheel-barrel kick for the hell of it, followed by the Alabama Slam. Puder gets tossed at 6:01 in his first and last appearance since winning Tough Enough. #5 is The Hurricane. Holly gets tossed by Benoit and Guerrero at 6:13. Hurricane tries his best, but gets dumped at 7:21. #6 is Kenzo Suzuki (remember him?), and nobody cares. He gets double-teamed but survives the 90-seconds. #7 is Edge, fresh off a victory over Shawn Michaels earlier in the night. #8 is Rey Mysterio, taking shots at everyone. Rey with a head scissors to eliminate Suzuki at 11:27. #9 is Shelton Benjamin, reigning Intercontinental Champion. Who will be the turd in the punch bowl to sour the awesomeness in the ring at the moment? #10 is Booker T... he's OK, I guess. At least it's not Viscera or some other useless slug. Tazz seems to forget Booker T vs. Triple H was a headlining match at WrestleMania TWO YEARS AGO, not "last year." That was Triple H against Shawn Michaels and Steven Richards. Eric Bischoff shows up at ringside for Reasons Unknown™.

#11 is Chris Jericho, just adding even more quality workers to the pack. Nobody bothers to try for an elimination, but I'm cool with it right now. #12 is Luther Reigns, finally breaking the streak, which I'm not complaining about. Crowd doesn't give him any kind of reaction, either. Everyone suddenly stops, and it becomes a 4-on-4 between Raw and Smackdown guys to a pretty awesome pop. #13 is Muhammad Hassan... everyone stops fighting to gang up on him, and he's body-surfing thrown out of the ring at 20:14. That was awesome. #14 is Orlando Jordan with some super-generic (shitty) music. #15 is Scotty 2 Hotty. How did he qualify for a spot in this Rumble? Hassan is still in the aisle and lays him out, because it's something to do. I guess that answers my question, too. #16 is Charlie Haas, which means we might get a battle of former teammates. Booker tosses Reigns at 24:21 and Jordan at 24:25 and celebrates with a Spin-a-rooni. It's short-lived, as Booker gets tossed by Guerrero at 24:42. Haas and Benjamin work together on Guerrero. #17 is Rene Dupree (with Fifi, the French Poodle). Will he perform the French Tickler during the Rumble? Haas with a hot shot, and Benjamin leap-frogs across the back. VINTAGE WORLD'S GREATEST TAG TEAM! Benjamin misses a Stinger Splash on Edge, and gets pushed off the top rope and out at 26:54. #18 is Simon Dean, the 21st Century answer to the Bodydonnas. His oddball warm-ups distracts everyone, allowing Edge to casually toss Eddie out at 28:15, because he's a jerk. #19 is Shawn Michaels. He interrupts Dean's warm-up's and clotheslines him out at 29:09. Haas gets back-dropped out at 30:23. Unfortunately, J.R. thinks it's Rene Dupree. #20 is Kurt Angle, to my surprise. He takes Benoit down with a German Suplex and hits a pair of Angle Slams on random bodies. Michaels escapes an ankle lock attempt and Super-Kicks Angle out at 31:14. Well, that's even more of a surprise.

#21 is Jonathan Coachman... wait, WHAT?! He sneaks up on Benoit, then hides like a butt-hurt little girl. #22 is Mark Jindrak, and even less people care for him than they did Reigns and Jordan. Angle comes back in and eliminates Michaels at 33:57. I guess this is how they kick-started their angle for WrestleMania 21? Shawn blades again in the Rumble Match. #23 is Viscera, because the WWE just couldn't exist without the occasional employment of King Mabel. #24 is Paul London, complete with Rockers inspired music. Dupree lays him out and does the French Tickler, which means he gets tossed at 37:38 by Jericho. #25 is John Cena (Spoiler: He might win), reigning US Champion with stupid spinner belt. Coach is still clinging to the bottom rope for dear life. Cena dumps out Viscera at 39:00. #26 is Snitsky. He sends London to the apron and clotheslines him off for the sickest, most awesome bump for an elimination at 40:23. #27 is KANE~!, but he's probably more worried about Snitsky than winning. Chokeslams to Edge, Benoit, Cena, Jericho, and Rey (one-handed), and Jindrak gets tossed at 42:09. Coach tries attacking from behind, but Kane no-sells. Snitsky saves and Coach goes back to hanging onto the bottom rope. #28 is Batista (Spoiler: Never mind, he might win). He sends Snitsky out at 43:11. Batista-Bomb on Kane! Jericho gets tossed at 43:55. #29 is Christian, going right after Cena. Cena FU's Kane out at 45:15. #30 is Ric Flair to fill out the field. He can win it all!

Flair goes after Coach and shoots him into a Batista spinebuster. Coach is gone at 46:30. They repeat on Christian and toss him out onto Tomko at 46:55. Benoit unloads with chops on Flair. Batista saves and hits another Spinebuster. He tosses Benoit at 47:31 to some serious crowd heat. Flair tries a double-cross on Batista, but it's an EPIC FAIL. Benoit had been in the Rumble matches for an uninterrupted hour and 50-minutes. Edge lays out Flair and tosses him at 48:05. Final Four: Rey, Edge, Cena, and Batista. Edge with spears for all. Rey avoids it and hits 619. Edge avoids a West Coast Pop and spears Rey off the apron at 49:22. Edge gets tossed by Cena and Batista at 49:43, leaving Cena against Batista. Cena goes for the FU Elimination, but Batista fights free. Here comes a Batista-Bomb, but Cena blocks and they both end up going over and out at 51:02. CO-WINNERS? NEVER AGAIN! Vince McMahon runs down, blows out both his quads at the same time (and still manages to no-sell it!), and from the ground declares the match must continue until there's only one winner. They go at it for a moment until Batista hits a Spinebuster and tosses Cena at 53:57 for the real victory. **** Not exactly the most memorable Royal Rumble, but the talent pool was pretty deep, there were very few dull periods, and a hot finish that is how things should've gone down in 1994, instead of copping out and having two people win. Batista would go on to a pretty hot face run and going over for the World Title at WrestleMania 21.

Final Thoughts: A great Rumble and a solid undercard makes for a satisfying experience. To focus on the negatives a bit, it's hard to say I didn't really enjoy Orton vs. Triple H, but the poor handling of Orton, and poor casting of him as a sympathetic face, hurt the overall enjoyment of what was a pretty good, well-worked, old-school style match. Michaels vs. Edge would've been a bit better had it not opened the show, but was still a solid performance. Honestly, only Undertaker vs. Heidenreich does anything to drag the show down, but it's only 15-minutes out of three hours, so it's fine. The Triple Threat was definitely a surprise, as I expected a boring mess, and walked away with a non-stop, action packed match that only suffers from a poor finish. It's not a glamorous card on paper, but it's worth giving a look.

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