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WWE Royal Rumble 2007
by Scrooge McSuck
Presented LIVE on Pay-Per-View on January 28th, 2007, from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, TX. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are covering the stuff for Raw, Michael Cole and JBL for Smackdown, and Joey Styles and Tazz for WWECW. The Dark Match featured JTG defeating Lance Cade. At this point, Sunday Night Heat wasn't a thing (at least for broadcast television), so the dark matches weren't featured on a pre-show at the time.
The Hardys vs. MNM (w/ Melina):
We get a graphic reminder of why Joey Mercury is wearing a face mask (his face was ripped open after having a ladder knocked into him). I don't know why, but "Hardy Boyz" has been shortened to simply "The Hardys." OK, maybe the age thing is a reason, but play along with me. Jeff is the reigning Intercontinental Champion, and Matt is happy to be there. Ross notes that Matt and Mercy are from Smackdown, because we need confusing cross-brand booking. Nitro attacks Matt from behind to start the action. Mercury in with some ground ‘n' pound. Matt turns things around in the corner and Jeff comes in with a slingshot dropkick for two. Jeff with an inverted atomic drop and leg drop combo on Nitro for two. Hardys with tandem offense on Nitro and Matt follows with a swinging neck breaker for two. Nitro cuts Matt off by targeting the injured jaw (Matt took a Snapshot on the concrete on the go-home Smackdown). MNM continue to center their offense around hitting Matt on the chin. I'm surprised by how slow-paced the match has been, so far. Matt fights his way to his corner and tags in Jeff. He runs wild on Nitro, planting him with a sit-out gourd buster for two. Whisper in the Wind but Mercury saves. The Hardys connect with a double suplex. Nitro brings up the knees to counter Jeff's splash, but takes a leg drop from Matt at the same time. MNM are keeping things in prelim territory as far as their offense is concerned. Jeff with a surprise roll-up, but Mercury remains in control. The referee misses a tag, allowing MNM to drag Jeff back to their corner. This is a PPV right? They're working like an old school, house show opener. We get heel miscommunication and this time the referee does see the tag. Matt runs wild with clotheslines and elbows. Combo bulldog and clothesline to MNM gets a near-fall on Nitro. Flying elbow to the back of the head for two. Heck breaks loose with all four men in the ring. Jeff with Poetry in Motion on Mercury. Nitro avoids it and cradles Matt for two. Matt hits the Side Effect and Twist of Fate, and Jeff finishes with the Swanton Bomb at 15:28. Standard affair until a hot finishing sequence. ***
ECW Championship Match: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Test:
I honestly have little memory of WWECW after December to Dismember
, especially after Lashley's time fighting for the ECW Title is over. Test had a questionable return to pad the ECW roster, pushed as a top of the card threat despite showing zero improvement in all categories (except an obviously enhanced physique). Test looks ridiculously bloated, like late 80's/early 90's bloated. Like Hercules and Dino Bravo on a bad day. Lockup into the corner and Test with a slap. Lashley doesn't appreciate it and hits Test with a short Spear. Test sends Lashley into the ropes and chokes him with a knee across the back of the head... OK, maybe I should've described that a little less controversially. Lashley hits the no-sell button and throws Test with a T-Bone Suplex. Lashley with a delayed suplex, sending Test to the floor. Test is already sucking wind, 2-minutes in, and doing very little work. Test takes advantage of Lashley giving chase and sends him into the post for two. Lashley fights out of an arm bar, but Test remains in control, still working the arm. Is this 2007 or 1987? Lashley mounts a comeback, burying the shoulder into the midsection and dropping Test on an attempted press slam. I guess that ugly drop was a PLANNED SPOT. Test uses the injury distraction to hit a boot for two. Lashley spins off the shoulders and sends Test to the floor with a clothesline... and Test takes the count-out loss at 7:12. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT FOR A PPV FINISH IN A TITLE MATCH IN 2007?! Post-match, Lashley sends Test into the ring and hits the running powerslam. They would rematch later that week, and that would be it for Test's WWE career. He would be suspended shortly after for violating their wellness program, released, and unfortunately passed away in 2009 from an overdose of oxycodone. ½*
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Batista (c) vs. Mr. Kennedy:
Kennedy earned this title opportunity by winning a Beat the Clock Challenge. How quick was his time of victory? A mediocre 5:07. He also had to interject himself in Undertaker's match (squashing the Miz) to ensure his spot at the top. Lockup and Batista sends Kennedy to the canvas. Kennedy goes to the knee and surprises Batista with a roll-up for barely a one-count. Batista cuts Kennedy off with a boot to the face and takes him to the canvas with a suplex. They take things to the floor, with Kennedy again targeting the knee as he sends Batista into the steps. Batista stays on offense, but he's limping. OK? Kennedy finally takes control on offense, hitting a dropkick to the knee. Kennedy hooks a modified Figure-Four Leg Lock (taking his sweet time to execute the hold). More boots to the leg and a running boot to the face for good measure. Kennedy turns Batista over with a single-leg crab, but he rolls through and cradles Kennedy for two. Kennedy counters a powerslam and clips the knee. Batista pops up, catching Kennedy off the ropes with a spine-buster, but the damaged knee prevents him from immediately capitalizing on it. Batista starts no-selling Kennedy's strikes and runs wild with clotheslines. Batista muscles Kennedy up with a sloppy powerslam and hits a rolling fireman's carry. He signals for the thumbs down, but the referee gets bumped. Kennedy with a neck breaker but Nick Patrick is out. Kennedy with a short DDT for a near-fall. Batista nails Kennedy diving off the ropes and finishes with the Batista Bomb at 10:31. Technically fine, but nothing to get too excited about. **½
WWE Championship; Last Man Standing Match:
John Cena (c) vs. Umaga (w/ Armando Alejandro Estrada):
Do we finally have something to get excited for? All signs point to yes. There seems to be a concentrated effort to try and screw John Cena out of the Championship, much like they did with Steve Austin during the height of his run in the late 90's. Cena scored a fluke roll-up victory over Umaga, so clearly the next step is to book a match that seems impossible for Cena to win (insert your favorite laugh-out-loud gif here). Cena doesn't waste time throwing hands. Umaga shrugs him off, but Cena is nothing but persistent. Umaga goes to the taped abdomen, sending Cena to the outside of the ring. Umaga follows and sends Cena into the steel steps. Umaga no-sells having his head rammed into the ring apron and continues to target the ribs. Cena brings up the boots in the corner but runs into a clothesline. Umaga tosses the ring steps into the ring as Cena struggles to his feet. Cena hangs Umaga up across the top rope, lifts the steps, and launches them into the face of Umaga for his first big offensive move of the match. Umaga regains verticality and control of the match, busting out a bear-hug. The choice of offense used across all these matches seems dated, but it's nice at the same time not seeing the same over-done high spots killed from over-exposure. Now the base of the ring steps enters the ring. Umaga props Cena against the steps but ends up meeting the steel going for a running hip attack. Cena smashes Umaga in the head again for a long count. Umaga catches Cena off the top rope and hits a pendulum side slam. Cena brings up the knees to avoid being crushed and comes off the ropes with a bulldog. Spinning back suplex has Umaga go splat on the steps. Cena with the Five-Knuckle Shuffle, but an attempt at the F-U sees Cena collapse forward and smack his own head on the steps. Umaga pummels Cena in the corner as he shows off a crimson mask. HURRAY FOR PRE-PG WWE. Cena goes into Hulk-Up Mode, no-selling Umaga's strikes. He throws wild rights and lefts until Umaga sends him to the canvas with a Samoan drop. Cena blocks the Samoan Spike but is dropped with a headbutt. Cena busts out a flying leg drop and sends Umaga into the post. He bashes Umaga on the head with a television monitor, scrambling his brains. Cena with a shoulder tackle, sending Umaga out of the ring. He dives off the apron, but Umaga catches and slams him into the post. Umaga positions Cena across a table, only to miss the big splash. Umaga is still able to get to his feet just before the referee reached the count of 10. Estrada removes a turnbuckle rod, collapsing the top rope. Cena avoids the attack, hits Umaga with an F-U, and chokes Umaga out with a rope-assisted STFU, securing the 10-count to retain at 23:10. Yeah, this one held up well. I'm still not the biggest fan of the Last Man Standing gimmick, but they got creative without being cute about it, if that makes sense, and probably Umaga's best match. ****
30-Man Royal Rumble Match:
We've got 90-second intervals, and we'll see if there's ridiculous fluctuation throughout the match. #1 is Ric Flair
and #2 is Finlay
. What a combination to kick off the match. Lockup, Finlay grabs a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block. He throws forearms and Flair returns fire with chops. Whip is reversed and Finlay with a back body-drop. #3 is Kenny Dykstra
. He's got problems with Flair, according to Cole. I somewhat remember that. Flair lights him up with chops as a welcoming gesture. #4 is Matt Hardy
. I forgot he was still using his "V1" theme music as a solo. He hits Dykstra with a Side Effect but can't toss him to the floor. #5 is Edge
. He runs wild with Spears to Flair and Finlay. Hardy avoids a Spear and hits the Twist of Fate. Hardy and Dykstra have a double-down, leaving all five men on their backs. Flair rolls to the floor and fetches chairs to get revenge on Edge, but the plan backfires and Edge and Dykstra toss him out at 5:41. First in, first out, as they say. The celebration is short lived as Edge dumps Dykstra at 5:49. Schmuck. #6 is Tommy Dreamer
. He throws a flurry of rights and lefts at Edge, traps him in a tree of woe, and connects with a sliding dropkick. It's weird to see less reliance on big spots and more traditional "tease elimination" routines (unlike today where everyone plays dead immediately). #7 is Sabu
. He fetches a table so he can finally do the spot they wanted to do in 1996. He goes right after Dreamer, hitting a springboard what-the-f*ck. I think it was supposed to be a clothesline. Dreamer counters a second springboard with a clothesline. #8 is Gregory Helms
. He's Smackdown's Greatest Secret and stomps Hardy down in the corner. Lots of hugging, no eliminations. #9 is Shelton Benjamin
. He goes after Hardy, and again, nothing major going on for new entrants, just milling around. Who guessed FINLAY would be doing the Shawn Michaels routine of teasing eliminations? #10 is Kane
. BUSINESS IS ABOUT TO PICK UP. Maybe. Dreamer is tossed at 12:56. Sabu finds himself on the apron and Kane chokeslams him off, through the table, at 13:25. THANK YOU.
#11 is CM Punk. He immediately targets Edge. In the modern Rumbles, he'd hit 5 GTS' and eliminate maybe one person. Punk with a knee into the corner and another failed attempt for an elimination. #12 is King Booker. WWE's obsession with the "King" gimmick will never be understood. He's butt-hurt he hasn't received a one-on-one rematch with Batista and tosses Helms at 16:02. #13 is Super Crazy. Talk about someone who feels out of place, especially representing Raw. He's on defense as soon as he enters the ring. JBL makes fun of Mil Mascaras for his self-elimination in 1997. #14 is Jeff Hardy. The Hardys reunite, again, making zero efforts to toss people. Yeah, it's cool offense, but this is a Battle Royal. #15 is The Sandman. We need someone to clean house, and it won't be Sandman. He makes his entrance from the crowd. The generic music had me confused. He lays into people with a Singapore cane until Booker tosses him at 20:36. Thank you, come again. So far, Punk is the only "ECW Extremist" to not suffer a quick elimination. #16 is Randy Orton. BUSINESS WILL PICK UP AGAIN. Rated RKO toss Super Crazy at 21:38. Edge dumps Jeff Hardy at 22:06 and Orton finishes off Matt at 22:08 in a big cluster in the corner. #17 is Chris Benoit. He throws hands at everyone walking. Remember when he won in 2004 from the #1 spot? No? I don't blame you. Benoit mixes in a German suplex parade. #18 is Rob Van Dam. He goes through his usual sequence of offensive flurry without eliminating someone. Kane surprises everyone by tossing King Booker at 25:14. Booker is furious, re-enters the ring, and tosses Kane at 25:45. IT'S ALL LEGAL UNTIL IT ISN'T. #19 is Viscera. He's wearing his pajamas, because he's the world's greatest love machine. The focus is on Kane and Booker at ringside. Woah, Steve Keirn, Mike Rotundo, AND Dean Malenko are the gaggle of officials at ringside?! Worlds better than Tony Garea and Rene Goulet. #20 is Johnny Nitro. Was the roster this thin that we needed double duty with THREE BRANDS? The 90-second intervals have been honest, for those who care about that.
#21 is Kevin Thorn. He's Vampire-Like according to Cole. We focus more on a near-elimination of Benjamin than anything Thorn does. Too many bodies in the ring, and nobody getting dumped. #22 is Hardcore Holly. More running wild with right hands. JBL says Holly is from L.A.... Lower Alabama. OK, I chuckled at that. RVD teases another elimination. #23 is Shawn Michaels. He comes out to DX music. The crowd goes wild as he has a little thing with Finlay before tossing him out at 32:35. Super-Kick to Viscera and everyone gangs up to toss him at 32:52. Shawn launches Benjamin out at 33:03. #24 is Chris Masters. He stumbles around punching people. You can feel the inexperience in some people. Nitro goes high and Benoit knocks him out at 34:06. #25 is Chavo Guerrero with the world's worst music. Benoit uses a suplex to take Thorn over the top and to the floor at 35:23. Looking at the field, there's a lot of potential winners, and we still have five men left to enter. #26 is MVP. I'm not spelling out his entire name. He goes for Benoit, who wound up being the last major rival for Benoit before the end. RVD with a dropkick to eliminate The Masterpiece at 37:13. #27 is Carlito. This is the hot spot, or it was until about 2001. Then it became a dead spot. Michaels teases getting dumped. Once again, too many bodies doing very little. #28 is The Great Khali. OK, BUSINESS REALLY IS PICKING UP. I SWEAR. Khali no-sells everyone, throwing slow-motion headbutts to everyone waiting their turn. Holly gets thrown out at 40:55. #29 is The Miz. Khali tosses him as soon as he enters at 41:09, lasting a whopping 5-seconds. Benoit was tossed off screen as Miz entered. RVD is gone at 41:17. There goes Punk at 41:25. Carlito hangs on, but the HASSAN-CHOP finishes him at 41:31. Bye-Bye Chavo at 41:39. Michaels literally points Khali to the hard camera for his big pose. Michaels tries going toe-to-toe and gets laid out.
#30 is The Undertaker to round out the field. BUSINESS HAS PICKED UP A FOURTH TIME. No one has entered at #30 and won the match. Yet. He doesn't hesitate to throw hands with Khali. He withstands the big chop and fights out of the double goozle. Taker keeps rocking Khali with rights and clotheslines him out at 43:49. Taker peppers people with right hands and hits MVP with Old School. MVP is gone at 44:24, leaving a final four of Edge, Orton, Michaels, and Undertaker. Taker with a diving lariat on Edge. MVP fetches a chair, because he's a sore loser. Orton with the chair, whacking Taker across the head. Edge betrays Orton, but Orton turns around in time to prevent a Spear. Orton pauses jawing at Edge to hit Michaels with an RKO, then back to the arguing. Rated RKO find themselves back on the same page, targeting Undertaker. Taker fights back from the 2-on-1, running from corner to corner with avalanches. He ducks a double clothesline and hits a double clothesline of his own. Taker hits Edge with snake eyes and comes off the ropes with a big boot. He sets up for a Chokeslam on Orton, but Edge saves with a Spear. Taker takes ANOTHER chair shot, this time unprotected. Michaels saves Taker from a Con-Chair-To, tossing Orton at 48:44 and knocking Edge out with a Super-Kick at 48:48. We get the obligatory sit-up/nip-up spot as we're down to two men. Michaels avoids Taker's attacks and mounts him in the corner with right hands. Taker shrugs him off, but Michaels keeps pushing. Taker tosses Shawn into the corner and unloads with rights and lefts, sending Michaels teetering on the top rope. Whip is reversed, turning Shawn inside-out in the corner. He finds himself on the apron but manages to avoid a big boot. Now it's Taker on the apron, hanging on for dear life. Back inside, Michaels with a swinging neck breaker. Crisscross and Taker with a big boot. Michaels blocks a suplex, hanging on to the top rope. He goes high risk, but Taker cuts him off. Michaels fights off a super-plex and being thrown from the top rope to the floor. Taker goes crashing to the canvas, with Michaels following with a flying elbow. Taker blocks Sweet Chin Music and plants Shawn with a Chokeslam. Michaels avoids a Tombstone and hits Sweet Chin Music on the second try. Taker avoids Sweet Chin Music again and throws Michaels out at 56:24, marking the first time the #30 entrant has won the Royal Rumble. Not the most exciting Rumble, but the last 15-minutes really kicked it into a new gear and might be one of the best sequences to wrap up a Rumble match. ****
Final Thoughts: My tone shows I wasn't a fan of the era, and I mostly disliked the show until Cena/Umaga. Between that and the Royal Rumble Match, even my stubborn heart can't deny this was a solid show overall, and worth checking out. Just skip over Lashley vs. Test. At least the other matches rounding out the card were technically fine.
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