With still a few hours left until the 2016, let’s take a look back at the 2015 edition because why not? Oh right, it was a trainwreck. Perhaps some lessons can be gleaned? Or maybe we should just celebrate the fact that it won’t get much worse than this. Philadelphia was already stuck with the 76ers and didn’t deserve this. The hosts are Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler and they would not be helpful.
The match starts with #1 Miz and #2 R-Truth as Awesome Truth explodes! They might have been something in 2011 but that Survivor Series match was there to make Rock and John Cena look strong it seems. Oh well. JBL helpfully says two guys won from #1 and names Shawn Michaels. What, did the other guy kill someone or something? Oh, sorry. Comedy with shucking and jiving early because that’s what Vince McMahon thinks all black people do. They trade near eliminations but we’re just waiting for the next guy because neither one of these dudes will stand tall.
Surprise return at #3 in Bubba Ray Dudley to a nice pop from the focal city of ECW. This was a one shot deal because he went back to TNA for several months before coming back after Summerslam. Truth serves as a D-Von proxy which may seem racist, but he helps with the Wassup headbutt move. That’s not too far from his catchphrase “What’s up!” Bubba yells for Truth to get the tables, but instead they hit 3D on Miz and Bubba Ray chucks him out.
Dudley also ends R-Truth’s night before #4 Luke Harper arrives. So this is the origin of the endless Dudley-Wyatts feud, except Harper was on his own at this point. Just normal big guy slugfest for a bit until #5 Bray Wyatt makes his Rumble debut. Bray is in the brown pants which is an odd choice. There is some doubt about if Harper and Wyatt are on the same page as the fans chant for D-Von to be next, but they eliminate Bubba before that can happen. A confrontation is teased, but why would they pull the trigger on a Bray face turn? He might sell merchandise!
Curtis Axel is #6 but wait, he gets decked from behind by Erick Rowan who now enters in his stead. This would start the only decent part of Axel’s career: the “i was never eliminated” with the clock bit. But now Rowan is in and Harper points a finger in almost Bullet Club fashion at Bray teasing a backlash on their former leader. But Rowan charges and eventually ends up with mild offense on Harper. Wyatt sneaks up on both and dumps them, so he’s now alone in the ring. Ok, so maybe they will build a Diesel-type monster here.
And another surprise at #7 in the Boogeyman. That’s rather underwhelming. Cole says it’s the Eater of Worlds (Wyatt) versus the Eater of Worms (Boogeyman) in a rare funny moment for him. Bray does the backward crab walk thingie and eliminates Boogey with a clothesline.
Little Sin Cara is #8 and I see what they’re doing now. He gets some of his flying stuff in, but is caught and tossed right back into the aisle. Boy that Bray is a sportsman, sending them out in a way so they will have a shorter walk. Wyatt grabs the mic and proclaims an open challenge and sends a message that this is Bray Wyatt’s year. Uh, that didn’t happen but it’s a nice sentiment. He does the “I got the whole wide world” song but singalongs aren’t very heelish.
Long Island Iced Z Zack Ryder is #9 and he gets a missile dropkick and a broski kick out of the chute. But he gets caught and is violently tossed back to the aisle. Yikes, at least he didn’t get hurt on that. Loving this Bray stretch but I wish he had more time to shine instead of just chucking guys after taking a move or two.
Flight of the Valkyries plays and the Philly crowd goes bananas because they actually get Daniel Bryan this year at #10. Wyatt beat him at the Rumble last year and is a bit of a nemesis. I miss Bryan, as he’s going 100 MPH (160.9 km/hour) here with kicks. Hurricanrana off the top rope, and now we are cooking with gas, or at least high quality briquettes.
The quality in ring drops with the NEW AND IMPROVED Fandango at #11 and not a single soul is Fandangoing. This guy reminds me of a crappier version of Alex Wright. Bryan gets him in a fireman’s carry and does an airplane spin! People have their reasons for loving a guy like Daniel Bryan but I love him because he respects the history of wrestling and will pull out stuff like that. Tyson Kidd is #12 and NXT saved his career. That neck injury from June 2015 broke my heart because I really like him. He gets a dropkick right away on Bryan but then the two team up on Fandango before slugging it out again in the middle. The two have a high impact collision and both end up down.
Lucky #13 is Stardust and the crowd is oddly very dead right now considering Bryan is in. Fandango and Stardust both skin the cat for no apparent reason other than that they can. Wyatt has been down in the corner for a very long time but rises to score with a chop block of all things. Kidd and Bryan actually try to wrestle and Bryan does a back suplex sending Kidd over and out. Bryan then flies thru the ropes to nail Wyatt, who is outside for some reason now.
Another surprise at #14 in Diamond Dallas Page, a guy who deserves a ton of credit for trying to help guys like Jake Roberts and Scott Hall. So he earned this slot based on that. He and Stardust square off in a battle of guys who do a thing where they hold their hands together over their head. Diamond Cutter on Stardust, but here’s Fandango from behind. He goes up top but is pushed and crotches himself. DDP gets a Diamond Cutter on him off the top. Bray sneaks up but he gets a Cutter too. Nice moment but maybe guys who will be around tomorrow should get shine instead of world champions from the 90s?
The then-Russian superman Rusev is #15 and he will not tolerate your American Cutters and lands that awesome Superkick on DDP to send him back to yoga class. Fandango is next and I proclaim my allegiance to Rusev. There’s a hint of a Rusev/Wyatt alliance but Bryan knocks that off with some swift kicks to both. He’s then caught by Wyatt and Rusev lands a kick and man is that a huge change from 1988. Nobody was doing kicks then and it’s 60% of offense now. Rusev tosses Bryan but he hangs on the apron. But here is Wyatt to bump Mr. Yes off and he’s eliminated and the crowd is unhappy, but not rioting. Surely they will continue to make Bray look strong and his eventual elimination will be a big deal, right? Nah, that might make sense.
Goldust is a veteran but he can’t hope to bring this one back right away at #16. He gets some early offense but the crowd is now starting to vocalize disapproval. Stardust tries to toss Goldust as their Rumble war from prior years continues and they end up facing off in the center. Daniel Bryan chants by the crowd, as I think things would be better if it was just heels in the ring now because the babyfaces are being sent out to die.
Speaking of being sent to die, it’s Kofi Kingston at #17 in the early New Day gimmick that everyone hated. Philadelphia cares not for Kofi’s babyface offense; they are giving him the Dick Allen treatment from 1969. Just a joke, people. Daniel Bryan chant #2 which Michael Cole actually acknowledges. Rusev with a headbutt on Kofi, which he sells! It’s progress against the racial stereotypes of old!
Adam Rose is #18 and because this ain’t Full Sail, nobody cares. Kofi gets tossed, but is caught by the Rosebud entourage who carry him around and put him back in. Meanwhile, Rose is dumped out right near them and they don’t bother to make a catch. Rusev hits the superkick on Kofi to end his night for good this time.
And now the crowd boos just a bit louder with Roman Reigns at #19, who comes through the crowd even if he came from the back last year. Large sign says “Reigns + Mic = not strong”. It had a line through the equal sign. Philly murmurs some more as Reigns cuts a swath of destruction. The Rhodes brothers are sent packing and Reigns even gains an edge on Rusev and Wyatt at the same time. Ok, that’s a bit much.
Big E is #20 so the ring is four guys who should be big stars but the crowd is crapping on it. Big E and Rusev had a nice big man battle at 2014 Money in the Bank. Crowd comes alive for Damien Mizdow at #21 of all people, at the height of his imitating Miz gimmick. But here’s the Miz to stop his stunt double from entering but as he heads in, Reigns sends him back. Mizdow ponders the situation and jumps into the fray and gets a DDT and neckbreaker on Wyatt and Big E respectively. Then Rusev has had enough and chucks him back next to Miz. Mizdow imitates Miz for a bit and that’s that.
Jack Swagger is #22 but people only pop for the “We The People” line. He’s not a real threat. Ryback is #23 continuing the theme of chant guys. He tosses around guys with ease and the crowd gets back into it a little. Rusev avoids elimination by staying low to the ground; he really is working a smart match so far. Crowd doesn’t appreciate such subtlety as they chant for CM Punk.
Oh no here’s Kane at #24 probably because he heard the CM Punk chant and thinks its 2014. This ain’t 2001/02 Kane, that’s for sure. Dean Ambrose is #25 and the crowd likes him quite a bit and gives him the “Let’s go Ambrose!” treatment. He was Ric Flair’s pick on the pre-show, even if the Lunatic Fringe had literally jobbed to a malfunctioning TV set at TLC a month prior.
And now an attempted comedy spot with #26 Titus O’Neil. He talks trash on his way down, and got knocked right out by Ambrose and Reigns…only he didn’t go out right away and needed a shove. So because he didn’t break the record, apparently Vince McMahon was pissed about that botch of a spot. Because THAT is where anger should be directed after this debacle. The wrestling business can be so stupid sometimes.
Here’s Wade Barrett at #27 and he’s still “Bad News” and is the IC champ. Wow, I didn’t think he had the belt at that point but that’s how devalued the IC title is. Not much happening in the ring now before the great Cesaro appears at #28. It’s a European uppercut clearance sale and his old partner Jack Swagger is first in line to receive. Cesaro dukes it out with Ambrose because the Swiss Superman was a heel at this point even though people wanted to cheer for him. It’s all because he’s Swiss because that’s bad according to McMahon logic. Big E ends up on the apron and Rusev sends him to the floor with a kick.
We’re not far enough down that toilet yet, so Big Show is here to help at #29. Everyone gangs up on him, but Show fights them all off because he needs to be strong. The guy no one wants to see any more because he’s been there for 16 years and done little of note in the last 7. Ryback is eliminated by Kane and Big Show and that will start a theme. Swagger gets the same treatment, but who cares about him. Rusev takes a chokeslam from Kane. If you know anything about me from reading these rumble match reviews, I do enjoy a nice big man performance. Hell, I gave #1 star in 1989 to Andre the Giant when he could barely move! But this is the wrong place and the wrong time for this bit.
Dolph Ziggler is #30 and gets some kicks on Wyatt, Big Show and Kane with his mildly educated feet. Nice spot with a double DDT on Show and Kane, and then he eliminates Barrett for good measure. Cesaro catches the Show-Off in the Cesaro Swing and then is clotheslined over but not out as a “Let’s Go Ziggler” chant breaks out. See, they weren’t ALL negative reactions. Somehow Cesaro is pulled over and Dolph kicks him off so that was a bit too brief of a stay for my guy.
So now that Ziggler has gotten the crowd excited, they make sure to kill him dead by having him come off the top rope and get hit with the Big Show KO Punch. Kane and Show pick him up like roadkill and gently put him over the top.
Maybe the crowd will get behind Bray Wyatt or something now that Kane is locked in Sister Abigail. But no, KO Punch and they do the SAME FUCKING THING as with Ziggler. I do not like to curse in this blog, but that was ridiculous. You spent all this time building him up after coming in at #5 and THIS is how you end his night? No one gets shine from it?
So now it’s Kane and Show versus the two Shield guys. Well, except they forget Rusev who is hiding outside the ring. Ambrose fights back to cheers and Reigns does the same to boos. Big Show won’t go over the ropes and Kane lands a big boot on Reigns. This leaves Ambrose to be chokeslammed dead and they give Ambrose the Ziggler/Wyatt Treatment too.
The official Final Four is Reigns, Big Show, Kane, and Rusev and the crowd expresses displeasure with a “Bullshit!” chant. Roman fights both guys to a cavalcade of boos and all I want watching this is some booze. Roman is on the ropes and Kane and Big Show have an argument, as if anyone cares. They are on the roped battling and Reigns comes up and verrrrry slowwwwly sends both guys out. Man, that looked just awful. And they ring the bell! Why would you ring the bell, there is a guy in the match? I know it’s a swerve, but when the bell rings, the match is over! Maybe you should have had Rusev win by eliminating Reigns after the bell rang and use that to overturn the result. It wouldn’t have been the last time in 2015 they’d scapegoat an overzealous bell guy in a PPV main event.
Meanwhile, Show and Kane come back in and hit a double chokeslam on Reigns. Crowd is now chanting for anti-American heel Rusev. Instead they find out what the Rock is cookin’ as the People’s Champ runs in to take care of family business. He hits a low blow on Show, which not only rhymes but is the first low shot I saw in the match. Rock Bottom on Big Show as well and the crowd is very much alive. Rock hits the outside and Roman is showered with boos alone in the ring, but here is Rusev to much cheering. But he gets speared and is laid out so that Reigns can point to the Wrestlemania sign, because that’s what they do. Highly original. Rusev is eliminated and Roman Reigns is your 2015 Royal Rumble winner.
But wait, there’s more! Rock is in for the official endorsement and raises his hand and points to the future Mania main eventer and shoots the greatest puzzled look in wrestling history as the City of Brotherly Love isn’t having it. In fact, they would have been happier with Brother Love as the winner. The Authority comes out to sneer because we MUST be reminded that this is the HHH and Stephanie Show. If I was them, I would have stayed the hell away from this stinkbomb. Let’s just get to the awards now:
1st Star: Rusev – I thought he worked a pretty smart match and looked damn good. He was pretty flawless from about June through Wrestlemania 31 and this was part of it.
2nd Star: Bray Wyatt – This had a chance to be an all time kind of performance if he had a better ended. He didn’t have any memorable battles late, so what was he supposed to do? All his good stuff came much earlier.
3rd Star: Daniel Bryan – He was awesome while it lasted.
Dick Murdoch Award for achievement by a legend: The Rock, just for giving us the photo above with that facial expression.
Morrison Award: Big E, who went 15:04 in the match and didn’t have too much going on. Because I swear this thing was put together by someone who had no concept of what wrestling is.
Summary: The WWE is quite fond of telling us what’s trending on Twitter. After this PPV it was #cancelWWENetwork which I couldn’t do because then how will I watch the 1992 Rumble whenever I want? I don’t have a VCR no more. In any event, let’s hope 2016 and beyond is better than this. Because it absolutely positively can’t be worse.