Tuesday, 31 January 2012
2003 ROYAL RUMBLE
THINGS FEEL VERY DIFFERENT HERE AT THE 2003 ROYAL RUMBLE as we are now enjoying World Wrestling *Entertainment* as the "F' has successfully been gotten out and what we for some reason all agreed to call the "brand extension" as though that were a sensible thing to say had taken place and so Raw and Smackdown were two largely discrete entities except for at the big shows like this the Royal Rumble so I mean you're still getting all of the dudes out there but the premise just isn't as good: fifteen guys from each of the two shows will enter the Royal Rumble and the winner gets to CHALLENGE HIS BRAND'S CHAMPION AT WRESTLEMANIA just seems like not as big of a deal, you know? And it is the stakes man *the stakes* that make the Royal Rumble what it is in large part although the very first one with like zero stakes ended up being pretty cool so idk. But my thought going in is that the wrestling might well prove excellent here *qua* wrestling but idk if I will be as emotionally invested here man that is not something I can guarantee you what with Michael Cole and Tazz calling half the matches at ringside and Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler a million miles away in the Tony Schiavone/Steve "Mongo" McMichael broadcast position it just feels strange and wrong.
Our opening contest features The Big Show in there with THE NEXT BIG THING Brock Lesnar who is making his Royal Rumble debut here as I believe he debuted the night after Wrestlemania X8 which I would remind you I attended and so jacked up was I by that event that I was like hellllll yeah I will watch Raw the next night and I don't think it was very good and so I stopped watching wrestling *seriously* again for a couple of years I guess but I do recall Brock Lesnar appearing from the crowd and wrecking some dudes at Paul E. Heymanously's behest. The winner of this match will go on to participate in the Royal Rumble match itself later in the evening and so there is every incentive here for both competitors to *bring it* and they do and in the end have A Good Match of which the high points were certainly: Lesnar's belly-to-belly suplexery of his much larger foe; Big Show sending Lesnar bouncing over the top rope such that his back cracked against the apron in a way that probably *shoot* hurt; and Lesnar's counter of a chokeslam with a deep armdrag into a pinning combination. Yes the traitorous Heyman who has sided with the Big Show here receives his comeuppance and also there is an F5 so yeah you've got to call this A Good Match between the then-youngest man to have held the World Title and "The World's Largest Athlete" so there you go. I think Lesnar lost that title of being the youngest guy to win the championship when one Randall K. Orton bested his mark at the The Summerslam that I attended at Toronto's sterile and wrong Air Canada Centre and I will probably tell you more about that later because why would you not want to hear things about that but it is not now the time.
The Dudley Boyz overcame the commonwealth duplicity of Lance Storm and brass-knuckle enthusiast William Regal (fuck man I totally typed "Steven" there at first and I thought I was over that) to claim their sixteenth world tag team title and I know I should care a lot more about a match between the always-at-least-totally-fine Dudleyzzzzzzz and a dude who is a *shooter* from Blackpool and a guy who was trained in the *The Dungeon* and wears Pancrase gear but there is nothing here that really catches my interest. I am disappointed that the Dudley Boyz seem to no longer go WASSSUUUUUP before they do the thing that they normally do only after they go WAAASSSUUUUUP however they do manage to hit a 3-D which is one of the better tag team moves ever imo.
Maybe the best angle I have ever heard of reaches its climax when Torrie Wilson exacts her revenge upon Dawn Marie for marrying Wilson's father and then fucking him to death. The match was a nothing match and it ended maybe eight minutes before I am writing this sentence but I can't remember the finish and Dawn Marie looks uncannily like a woman I used to work a data entry job with which *weirds* me out somewhat but lol that angle man that *angle.* Dawn Marie went so far as to come to the ring in a veil of mourning.
BIG POPPA PUMP FREAKZILLA SCOTT STEINER is about to challenge Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship which is just the best possible news. A video package shows all kinds of contract wrangling and secret clause stuff which is less compelling than the arm wrestling contest and posedown highlights that are also shown. We've reached the point in professional wrestling history where Triple H absolutely refused to do anything unless he could have Ric Flair there with him and I totally get where he is coming from there. I do not believe that the match that is about to occur here is the incredibly and famously awful one that some people think is like pretty much the worst main event match in World Wrestling Federtainment history or anything but maybe it is! I am ready for whatever occurs, I think. Earl Hebner is apparently the southernest guy ever which I learn only now in his pre-match instructions to both men and he makes it clear that he wants no nonsense here. Triple H is wearing red trunks for the first time possibly ever and they are adorned with an iron cross which suggests a radically different aesthetic than that of Freakzilla who opts for black boots and tights that have like two Superman logos and a number one in American flag colours and "BIG POPPA PUMP" on the back and they really are among the worst ones.
As the match begins Triple H takes a pretty solid beating in the corner and then outside and then inside and then in another corner. Steiner is dominant in this his first appearance at the Royal Rumble in nine years and that is the worst Boston crab you are likely to see that Triple H just escaped. You had every right to expect that facebuster that Triple H just landed to have *turned the tide* but it was *no sold* and a bear hug and belly-to-belly suplex later Big Poppa Pump is thinking hard about the Steiner Recliner which is one of the better names for wrestling moves but Ric Flair drags his fellow out of the ring. Finally Triple H is on the offensive after Freakzilla runs headlong into the biggest of boots and now on the outside he is *tasting the cold hard steel* of the ringside steps. This is not at all a bad match so far so there's no way this is the match that is often mentioned as being supershitty. In fact there are some pretty cool exchanges of holds and setups and things like that coming out of the corner where Triple H looks for the Pedigree but ends up suplexed and then they exchange what look like tombstone piledriver setups but Triple H goes into this cool neckbreaker and yeah there is nothing wrong with this. Triple H comes off the top and finds himself belly-to-belly suplexed yet again! Man there's another one. How many suplexes in this match man this is crazy there's another one and ANOTHER one and the crowd is really booing this right now but I think in the good way, you know? Shit man ANOTHER suplex this is not just good this is kind of awesome actually oh wait Steiner tried a double underhook powerbomb of sorts but he just totally fell and that's not awesome but I mean on the whole this match is cool. SUPLEX from the middle turnbuckle and I am still not as clear as I should probably as to whether or not that is technically a superplex and Triple H is leaving man he is just straight up leaving ad Flair is with him and oh my the referee is distracted and Triple H attempts to hit Steiner with the belt but he failed and then Steiner hits HIM with the belt but it is the softest most timid belt shot going and yet this is the point at which Triple H *blades* which is kind of funny. Back in the ring there is yet another suplex and the crowd really seems to hate all these suplexes but I don't!
Triple H is doing everything he can to get counted out but Big Poppa Pump will not allow this to happen and now he is doing push-ups in the ring to both display his fitness and taunt his foe. Now Triple H is trying to get disqualified by intentionally tossing the referee around but Hebner is like NOOOOO RASSLE and lol yeah there's another suplex. (Notes for further study: enumerate every belly-to-belly suplexes that occurs in Triple H's 2003 Royal Rumble title defense against Big Poppa Pump Freakzilla Scott Steiner.) Triple H eventually gets his wish for a DQ when he finds the sledgehammer under the ring and yeah that's how it goes. Hebner is yelling some garbled nonsense that you can't make out YOU FLANAMARRGLAFLURRR POWER! YOU FLANAMARRGLAFLURRR POWER! and now Eric Bischoff who is the Raw General Manager which is stupid has run down to the ring to help sort all this MADNESS out as Steiner had an unconscious Triple H trapped in the Steiner Recliner and lol the crowd haaaaaaaated this finish.
Ah I see we have another title match here this time a WWE Championship bout as Chris Benoit challenges Kurt Angle and I probably saw this match on the HARD KNOCKS: THE CHRIS BENOIT STORY dvd set that I haven't watched in a number of years but that lol I imagine has not aged particularly well in certain respects. Angle is out first despite being the champion which is not something I care for and he is accompanied by Shelton Benjamin and some other guy and whatever happened to Shelton Benjamin anyway? I learn that Kurt Angle won the title from the Big Show a month ago and this is his first title defense and something else I learn is that the other guy is Charlie Haas. Here's Benoit coming out to what I believe to be an Our Lady Peace song and they are not a good band but arr harmless. MY GOODNESS Team Angle has been ejected from the ringside area before the match has even begun!
And now the match has begun. Benoit goes for the sharpshooter within thirty seconds and Angle bails to the outside rightly wary of that excruciating hold. Angle applies the SLEEPER not long after but an arm drag is a pretty good escape from that! Lots of fast back-and-forth stuff here this is already pretty compelling. Michael Cole explains that these two were reluctant tag team partners for a time? Your referee in case you were wondering is the recently drug-suspended Mike Chioda. A ring apron DDT by Benoit as I ponder whether or not there could be a dumber body than that of Christ Benoit with these almost dwarfish little limbs knotted with juiced up muscle man he is *really* funny looking and not at all in keeping with the classical Greek idealizations of masculinity that I myself share (no homo? j/k totally homo). He misses a top rope headbutt but escapes an "Angle Slam" and applies the dreaded Sharpshooter but as you have no doubt already determined it is way too early for that to be it and so moments later Angle catches Benoit coming off the ropes with a pretty cool belly-to-belly suplex which is like the official technique of the 2003 Royal Rumble undercard and if you *had* to pick one move to see a million times you could do worse really. Snap mare to a rear-naked choke with hooks in on the ground from Angle and it is kind of dumb to call anything in wrestling or even mixed martial arts a rear "naked" choke because the "naked" part in hadaka jime refers to how it is not a gi strangle because *of course* it is not a gi strangle if nobody is wearing a gi so let's all just call it a rear choke or something and there have been some suplexes in the last minute or two but we're back to that same choke so don't worry about it. After a minute it's more like a chin lock so you can stop worrying about pretend strangle terminology too at least for the time being.
A double clothesline that sounded better than any other double clothesline has ever sounded puts both men down for a count of nine but when they get up there is a little bit of running around before Benoit hits his three German suplexes in a row only Angle got one in in the middle there too which was cool and one's thoughts turn to how cool that move looked in Fire Pro for GBA for some reason, way cooler than in any of the obviously much fancier WWF/E games and then Benoit blows an absolutely ferocious snot rocket just before he ascends to the top turnbuckle and I am sure we are all anticipating a top rope head butt here HOWEVER Angle runs up the turnbuckles and throws Benoit with yep a belly-to-belly suplex and now there are dueling ankle locks and then a CRIPPLER CROSSFACE which Angle escapes and lol we certainly have factual evidence that not everyone does so good job Kurt but then it is on again but then not then again but then not and ANGLE SLAM for twoooooooooooo and this is by any reasonable standard an excellent match of professional wrestling. With Angle's straps down to tell you the extent to which *it is on* there is another ankle lock but I don't know if I believe in that lock right now. Crazy German suplexes now man just *crazy* ones like the *release* one that sends Angle tumbling overhead and then Benoit hits a top rope head butt on Angle who was laying pretty much in the opposite corner and no matter who you've murdered or how ladies and gentlemen that was some kind of maneuver.
Angle just did like a power bomb only it went like *the other way* and sent Benoit's head into the turnbuckle and as he came out of the corner this *Rabid Wolverine* found himself in another Angle slam for twooooooooooooooooooooooo and now a Crippler Crossface is reversed into an ankle lock and he's out and he's in and you know I am starting to think that this ankle lock is going to be the end for Benoit and yeah it is and I wonder if Jack Swagger ever puts this match on and like a single tear rolls down his cheek as he sees how *over* the ankle lock used to be. Benoit stands alone in the middle of the ring after the champion has left and he receives a standing ovation from this Boston crowd and iirc they tried to make something like this happen a couple of other times for other people and it didn't always work did it? I am trying to remember the circumstances and details but I remember it falling pretty flat at least one other time they tried it.
Backstage we are shown the great RVD stretching and Kane comes by and is like you are a good tag team partner but I will eliminate you and RVD is like that's cool dude it is every man for himself bro and I am like lol I love you Rob Van Dam. Let me say that if you gave me a minute to think about it I could probably name you *most* of the guys who have won the Royal Rumble from 2003 until our present day but I definitely wouldn't be able to tell you which years or the circumstances in which they won or anything like that so really we are entering a period of pretty profound mystery and intrigue for me. I watched the 2011 Royal Rumble as it happened so I know all about that one but everything else from 2003 to 2010 I am pretty unclear on so let's explore together OK? I am a little disappointed to learn that this is a ninety-second affair but I get it I guess they had a couple of title bouts that had to go reasonably long I get it. Our first entrant is the Heart Break Kid Shawn Michaels who is unretired which is good and number two is Chris Jericho who comes out to his awesome Megatron-becomes-Galvatron video ONLY WAIT THAT ISN'T JERICHO THAT'S CHRISTIAN who serves as a distraction as the true Y2J sneaks through the crowd and assaults Shawn Michaels from behind! A low blow, a chair shot, and a solid *blade job* later and that's it for Shawn Michaels and now Chris Nowinski is the next guy and you might recall him from getting lots of concussions and now being an advocate for further research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy and idk if that's really necessary do you. He has not yet entered the ring however as Rey Mysterio who is called at number four actually precedes him. Rey does some excellent flippy things in and on and around Jericho and now all of a sudden Edge is in too and he is spearing dudes and Mysterio hits a top rope hurricanrana and lol remember when Mysterio got popped for steroids? He really did get pretty jacked for a while there or perhaps yoked would be the modern way to say that and while Jericho and Nowitski both *take a powder* on the outside Edge and Mysterio fuckin *tear it up* on the inside man they are really good at this. And now CHRISTIAAAAAAN CHRISTIIIIAAAAAAAAAN AT LAAAAAST YOU'RE OOOOON YOU'RE OOOOOOOOWN lol I had totally forgotten about that and he comes in and he is filled with hugging love for his pretend brother Edge but Edge is like wtf and spears him and HOLY SHIT Nowinski is supposed to get double missile dropkicked by Edge and Mysterio I guess but Edge leaves a split second too late and ends up basically diving feet first on dude's fuckin face as he's laying on the ground and it's GREAT.
Chavo is in next and the pace is nuts man it is NUTS. The ninety-second intervals might actually be an advantage here if guys are going to go this all-out and it would appear that they totally are! A couple of 619s occur on Chavo and Cristian and then Rey is caught in midair by Nowinski but he like hurricanranas him out and then Jericho clotheslines Mysterio out and this has been an *excellent* start to the evening's Royal Rumble match and on this subject there can be little meaningful debate in my view because this just owns. TAJIRI the Japanese Buzzsaw is the next man to enter the fray and I have always loved this guy and that is even before I just saw him do a modified airplane spin from like an octopus hold or something. Pretty good countdown timer this year too by the way! It plays into the neat water theme the graphics have this year. I have never heard of Bill Demont but we are told that he is a disturbed individual and he is from Tough Enough 3 and I really only watched like one episode of that ever and it was the one where Triple H came in and was like AAAAAAALLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH OF YOOOOOOOOOOUAHHHHHHHHH ARE AAAAAAWWWWWWFULLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAHHH
Tommy Dreamer arrives with a garbage can full of stuff and he takes a kendo stick to pretty much everybody and Edge grabs one too and they clobber Bill Demont out of the ring however Dreamer is soon thereafter struck by a *garbage lid concerto* of sorts by Christian and Jericho and is eliminated OH NO just when it seemed like Tajiri was getting in all his cool moves Jericho just like pushed him a little when he was going for the Tarantula and that is that. Edge makes short work of B-Squared who I guess is Bull Buchanan and they say he is a buddy of John Cena which is definitely the first tie his name has come up in any of these. Edge is on something of a roll here as he SPEARs Chavo off the apron and then he almost gets Jericho too however "shades of Shawn Michaels 1995" as JR puts it and Jericho is back in and dumps both Edge and Christian as they were *battling* along the ropes and Ross is like "so much for Canadian unity" and seriously JR do not raise the spectre that has so long haunted our people and a close-up shows that Jericho has a massive knot right on his forehead from stupid Tommy Dreamer's stupid kendo stick and it is bleeding pretty good too! RVD RVD RVD is in next and he gets basically all of his moves off on Chris Jericho in about seventy seconds and it quite a thing to see. Also he tries to *catapult* Jericho over the ropes which is not a thing you see enough of in these imo. Matt Hardy V 1.0 who strongly dislikes mustard is in next and his theme music at this time was AWESOME in my view it went OOOOOOHHH YEEEEEEEEEAHHH DUN DA DA DUN DA DA DUUUUUUUN and these three guys in here Jericho, Hardy and RVD are all pretty good FIVE STAR FROG SPLACH ON JERICHO and I love how much RVD *sold* that it hurt him to deliver so devastating a maneunver. Eddie Guerrero is in now and it's odd how little reaction there is for "Latino Heat" here but all that would change soon enough I guess and we are all of us together saying ROB VAN DAM just before a monkey flip out of the corner and FROG SPLASH FROM EDDIE AND NOW A TWIST OF FATE FROM HARDY and lol this pace is baaaaananas
AND HERE IS JEFF HARDY who has all kinds of red paint on his forehead and Matt attempts a truce but it is not an idea that is met with much favour and as Jeff Hardy strikes all the girlies go *eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee* and there's kind of a cool thing where Matt Hardy's second (idk who it is) lays down on the floor with is feet up so as to prevent Matt Hardy from being eliminated and ok it is Shannon Moore and he actually comes into the ring and takes a "Swanton" for his buddy which is big of him. Rosey from Three-Minute Warning is next and he is a pretty big dude compared to all these other guys in there right now. By the way this Royal Rumble is awesome so far. Here comes Test accompanied by the uncommonly lovely Stacy Kiebler and he murders several people directly with clotheslines and pump-handle maneuvers. We're past the halfway mark here too as Test was number seventeen and man this is FLYING.
IT IS HEEL JOHN CENA ROCKIN IT THUGANOMICS STYLE IN RETRO HOUSTON ASTROS GEAR TWENTY NINE DOOOODS AND ONE RUTHLESS MC YEEEAH BESIDES OPEN MICS ONE THING THAT GETS ME BOILED IS AN OLD SCHOOL THIRTY-MAN BATTLE ROYAL and his rapping lasts pretty much the whole ninety seconds and Jim Ross goes "word to your mother" which is *le mot juste* imo. Charlie Haas is in next and he really did not last in this Federation of World Wrestling did he. I hope he is doing something productive with himself and applying his *hoss* abilities in ways that benefit both himself and his community. lol in a spot to which there is the semblance of truth Jeff Hardy jumps up to the top for seemingly no reason whatsoever and RVD just kind of pushes him off a little and he's gone and Eddie just did a rope walk wrist lock hurricunrana or something it was pretty cool.
Rikishi aka the great Fatu is in next and Ross tells us that he has been in the most Royal Rumbles ever with eight and STILL this gigantic dude is doing that corkscrew *sell* of a simple clothesline and he is again to be commended for that. Jamaal of Three Minute Warning is also in now and Rikishi vs. Three-Minute Warning is kind of what's happening here right now and it's pretty good. It is getting to the point where the ring is a little bit cluttered and one expects a clear out of some kind before aaaaahahaha right on cue here comes Kane and we are *assured* by JR that business has picked up as Kane walks through hellfire and brimstone in that announcer's view. Kane gets rid of Jamaal and then double chokeslams Matt Hardy and his bro Shannon Moore and wooooah Jericho came *crazy* close to getting eliminated right there. Shelton Benjamin is in and did you know he was a national champion in wrestling and a national champion in track and field or so it is here claimed? Man there are a lot of dudes in there still I would have sworn Kane would have just wrecked people for a couple minutes. Looks like Cena wore jeans and wrestling boots rather than shorts and sneakers at this time in case you were wondering about that.
Booker T is in and after a poor showing in last year's Royal Rumble one hopes for more from BOOK this time around and yeah he follows a *spinnerooni* (sp?) with a pretty glorious backdrop elimination of Eddie Guerrero who is destined for bigger things but alas ultimately the grave however who among us can say otherwise. What are your thoughts about boarding the A-Train? I ask you because he is in and he is destroying people for a little bit until he gets reverse thrust kicked by Rikishi who then turns his attention to Jericho who is proving quite tenacious! But hey here is Shawn Michaels all bandaged up and he is going right after Jericho in order to exact revenge and he does kind of in that Test tossed Jericho out amid the assault and then HBK flew out over the top at him in an impressive way for a guy who is seriously old and still I bet largely broken. Maven arrives and goes right after Kane which could prove a mistake! Jim Ross observes that the road to Wrestlemania has a lot of bumps and curves and suggests further that we are seeing some of them tonight. Goldust comes in at number twenty seven so we are really getting down to it in this so far very good Royal Rumble! Goldust is eliminated by Team Angle after mere moments in the ring and actually they get rid of Booker T too so maybe this is the "coming out party" for Team Angle?
THE ANIMAL BATISTA IS HERE TO MAKE HIS ROYAL RUMBLE DEBUT and I guess he got into *the biz* relatively late in life didn't he? He sneakily does away with Test, pulling the rope down, and apparently Test fans are known as "Testicles." Batista enclobbers Rikishi out of the ring which is not good news to me and now here is Brock Lesnar who has already endured A Pretty Good Match against the Big Show earlier in the evening so who knows how much he will have here lol ok he just eliminated both Haas and Benjamin in about five seconds and then F5'd Matt Hardy out onto Team Angle on the floor and JR is like THAT DAMNED BROCK LESNAR JUST MANHANDLED MATT HARDY and Albert could straight up kick dudes in the face couldn't he? At number thirty we've got The Undertaker on a Motorcycle and he is being referred to on certain signs as "Big Evil" and this is a lot of dudes in the ring!
OK The Undertaker gets rid of Cena and Jamaal right away and he chokeslams and eliminates Maven next perhaps because of last year and Albert just did this like choking Albert bomb maneuver of some kind to the Undertaker which was a pretty cool move. This has got to be the high point of Albert's career as he just wrecks dudes for a couple minutes before RVD and Kane put him out and actually RVD and Kane do a bunch of cool tag team moves where Kane hurls RVD at people and RVD thinks they are going to do another one but it tuns into Kane pressing him overhead and tossing him over the top rope and both parties are like LOL OH WELL.
So your final four consists of the Undertaker, Kane, Batista, and Brock Lesnar which somehow feels kind of anticlimactic for some reason idk but here is Lesnar with a belly-to-belly suplex on Batista and an F5 on Kane and then Lesnar and *'Taker* go at it one on one for a bit which is apparently a renewal of an earlier rivalry of some not and you know what these guys do some pretty cool stuff here with near-eliminations and an F5 attempt that ends up a Tombstone Piledriver. With Lesnar down for a minute the Undertaker clotheslines THE ANIMAL BATISTA AKA BIG DAVE over the top and then is like "Kane my fellow brother of destruction let us surrender to the siren call of the night and hold hands and run towards Brock Lesnar" but it is a TRICK and a RUSE and Kane is OUT and then Batista is back in with a chair and the Undertaker has to deal with him for a second and Lesnar takes that opportunity to tip him over from behind and BROCK LESNAR WINS THE ROYAL RUMBLE AND I HONESTLY HAD NO IDEA THAT EVER HAPPENED. The Undertaker decides to be an exemplary sportsman here and congratulate his better on this night and BROCK LESNAR IS GOING TO WRESTLEMANIA and ooooh yeah OK so this is how we get Lesnar and Angle at Wrestlemania XIX and Lesnar suiciding himself OK I get it.
While this Royal Rumble match was certainly not as near-perfect as last year's perhaps best one ever, it was really good! The fast pace of the first half of it was about as exciting as anything in any of these so far and I say that as someone who is as you know *quite* excitable during Royal Rumble matches and also the last bit was good even if at first I was like "oh, these guys; alright I guess." I liked Angle/Benoit *a lot* and Triple H/Freakzilla was not without its odd pleasures and oh yeah Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marrie wrestled because *Dawn Marrie married Torrie Wilson's father Al and fucked him to death* so on the whole this was a solid show.