Just got back from the Royal Rumble. Here is my report (and my thoughts):
The arena was silent until 7:30. At 7:30, they played these videos (in the order written): Royal Rumble press conference highlights; 2004 Royal Rumble highlights; Eddie Guerrero book advertisement; highlights of the Carlito/Shaq incident; 2006 Royal Rumble commercial; RVD video.
At about 7:40, Tony Chimmel comes out. He first announces Tazz and Michael Cole, who come out to Tazz’ music. Then he announces Lawler and Styles (no Coach), who come out to Lawler’s music. The he announces the Spanish announce team.
Out comes Charles Robinson and we have a bonus match: Brian Kendrick versus Fit Finlay. Basically a squash for Finlay. Cool spot where Finlay crotches Kendrick with the ring apron. Kendrick gets trapped behind the apron and Finlay kicks him a few times. Finlay wins with a muscle buster type move.
Tony Chimmel then announces Lilian Garcia. She comes out, but to my surprise and disappointment, no National Anthem. Chimmel then gives a talk that we are moments away from the beginning of the Rumble–when it begins, stand up, hold up signs, cheer, etc.
Cruiserweight Challenge: Believe or not, the biggest pop for an entrant in this one was for Nunzio. Crowd reacted big time for London’s back flip to the outside (Holy S*%t chant broke out). Great reaction for Helm’s neckbreaker off the top rope as well. Not much of a reaction for Helms winning the title, though.
Ashley v. Mickie: Huge pop for Trish. No reaction for Mickie. Some cheers for Ashley. At the end of the match, the crowd was restless with boos and boring chants. It was a good thing they went to the finish.
Boogeyman v. JBL: Not a big reaction to Boogeyman when he came out, but once the action started, a big “Let’s Go Boogeyman” chant started. Didn’t last long, though, because this match was over in a blink of the eye.
When Lilian announced the Royal Rumble was about to start, the crowd (including me) was shocked as they expected it to be the closer on the show.
Royal Rumble: I am going to exempt the “Eddie” chants from the biggest pops because there were several of them during the Rumble.
Cena v. Edge: Again, the crowd was stunned that with the Rumble not closing the show, neither did this match. It took at least five minutes to lower and put together the special ramp that John Cena came out on. The crowd was mixed. The children and women love Cena at ridiculous levels. The men can’t stand him. The only problem was the men were confused about who to cheer for because no one likes Edge either. Lots of cheers for Cena. Also, lots of Cena sucks chants as well. When Cena won, the crowd was VERY mixed.
At this point, I’d say at least 10 percent of the crowd left and went home. They had seen the Rumble and Cena and were ready to go home.
Angle v. Henry: Absolutely no reaction to Henry coming out. Cheers for Angle, although he wasn’t hugely over (I think people were just down that this was closing the show). Lots of Henry sucks chants during the match. Thank god they at least ended with Undertaker or else it would have been horrible way to end the show. The pyro for the Undertaker special effects was extremely loud.
Final Thoughts: It was clear why they ended with Undertaker. They couldn’t collapse the ring in the middle of the PPV. Plus, they took the opportunity to tap into a huge audience and promote their Feb PPV main event of Angle v. Undertaker. With that said, they did it at the detriment of the Royal Rumble. They should have ended with Rey’s victory, as that was by far the loudest reaction of the night. The crowd pinnacled at that point. They were still loud during the Cena match. But, by the time the Angle match rolled around, it was dead. Plus, the crowd wasn’t overly impressed with Undertaker.
With respect to Cena winning the title, if it is WWE’s intention to have HHH wrestle Cena at Wrestlemania, it should be very interesting to hear the crowd’s reaction. HHH got a huge ovation when he appeared on the screen to draw his number. His entrance got the fourth loudest pop out of all entrances. And, during the Royal Rumble match, he got a lot of cheers. There are a lot of people that don’t like HHH. But there are a lot of fans that appreciate his work (much like Angle when he was a heel) and will cheer him. If it is Cena v. HHH at Wrestlemania, I have a feeling you will have a crowd reaction similar to the crowd reaction during the Cena/Angle feud.
At the end of the show, I was scratching my head. The booking of the show was weird. Helms winning after losing to Lawler last month. Boogeyman squashing a guy who was champ for 10 months. The Royal Rumble not closing out the show. Cena beating Edge, killing all momentum this company had built up (see Billy Graham and Randy Orton title reigns). Closing out with Angle/Henry was so anticlimactic and did nothing to further Angle as a champ. It was great to see the Royal Rumble in person. I just think WWE creative has no idea what it is doing.