TEN YEARS AFTER: WWE Royal Rumble 2007

royal_rumble_07

WWE: Royal Rumble
January 28, 2007
San Antonio, TX
AT&T Center

The current WWE champions are as follows:
WWE Champion: John Cena (9/17/2006)
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Jeff Hardy (11/13/2006)
World Tag Team Champions: Edge & Randy Orton (11/13/2006)
WWE Women’s Champion: Mickie James (11/26/2006)
ECW World Champion: Bobby Lashley (12/3/2006)
World Heavyweight Champion: Batista (11/26/2006)
WWE United States Champion: Chris Benoit (10/13/2006)
WWE Tag Team Champions: Paul London & Brian Kendrick (5/21/2006)
WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Gregory Helms (1/29/2006)

Your hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole and JBL, and Joey Styles and Tazz.

  • The Hardy Boyz vs. MNM (w/Melina)

I had forgotten Joey Mercury came back so soon after Armageddon when his face got exploded in that ladder match. He’s wearing a face mask to keep all that surgery secured. As retribution for that career-altering spot in the Armageddon match, MNM gave Matt Hardy the SNAPSHOT on the concrete which dislocated his jaw. A work or not – this sets up this match quite nicely. MNM concentrate on Matt to start trying to get him down and punch on that jaw. Jeff tags in and atomic drops Nitro to set up the double legdrop to the balls. Matt joins in for TANDEM OFFENSE on Nitro as JR calls it. Nitro and Mercury punch Matt square in the jaw to take back control of the match. Stiff clotheslines and chinlocks follow. Mercury misses a flying elbow and Matt hot tags Jeff. Sitout gourdbuster on Nitro gets two. Whisper in the Wind gets a nearfall as well. Matt takes out Mercury with a back suplex so that the Hardyz can fly onto Nitro at the same time. More tandem offense if you will. Nitro brings up the knees to stop Jeff, but takes a flying legdrop from Matt. Now MNM is all over Jeff’s ribs keeping him in their corner. Sound psychology in this match. I’m loving it. They do the false hot tag spot and Matt is PISSED. Jeff gets the better of some MNM miscommunication and finally hot tags Matt. He bulldogs and clotheslines MNM at the same time. MNM set up Matt for the SNAPSHOT though, but Jeff breaks it up and the Hardyz hit Poetry in Motion on Mercury. Nitro however moves out of the way and rolls up Matt for 1-2-NO! Melina is quite upset over that not ending the match. I don’t recall anyone ever trying that before and makes you wonder why they never have. Matt pulls Nitro into the Side Effect and follows up with the TWIST OF FATE. Mercury stops the Twist of Fate by tumbling with Matt out to the floor. Jeff tags Matt on his way out and hits Nitro with the SWANTON BOMB for the win. (15:28) Right up there with their December to Dismember match, but more of a traditional formula than a ton of outlandish spots. Good stuff. ***½

Over by the Royal Rumble lottery drum, we have representatives from each brand watching over the thing. Jonathan Coachman (RAW), Teddy Long (SD!), and Kelly Kelly (ECW) are those representatives. Edge stops by to pick his Royal Rumble number. Kelly Kelly introduces herself to Edge and refers to herself as exhibitionist within the first five seconds of meeting him. Edge isn’t interested. Randy Orton comes over and picks his number. Yikes, Rated RKO isn’t getting along. After a double-entendre, King Booker appears with his queen. Tell him you didn’t just say that, Edge.

  • ECW World Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Test

Well, you can tell Paul Heyman is gone. The ECW world title is now being contested on a major PPV by two WWE midcarders who I wouldn’t refer to as “extremists”. By the way, these two had *just* wrestled a ten minute bout on ECW TV five days earlier. After a strong tie-up, Test slaps Lashley across the face in the corner causing Lashley to *lash* out at Test looking for a ground and pound. Test yanks Lashley into the ropes and chokes him a bit, but then Lashley catches Test for a T-bone suplex. Test retreats to the floor when Lashley gives him a stalling suplex. As Lashley brings Test back inside, Test keeps him on the apron and sends Lashley crashing his shoulder into the ringpost for a nasty fall to the floor. From there, Test works the arm and shoulder for a while. Lashley comes back using his right shoulder to butt Test in the corner. He tries a press slam, but Lashley’s shoulder gives out. WOTSILLA BOOT~! Cover, 1-2-NO! Lashley avoids the TKO and belly to belly throws Test away. A clothesline puts Test out on the floor. He stands up at the count of eight, but then decides not to get back in the ring and takes the countout loss. (7:11) Uh, what? Lashley brings Test back to the ring and gives him the Running Powerslam before standing over him victorious holding up the ECW world title. While it wasn’t great, this was fine until Test gave up. *½

John Cena is being checked by the WWE doctor when Vince McMahon stops by to see if he’ll skip the match tonight and forfeit the WWE title. Looks like Cena is going against doctor’s orders because he NEVER GIVES UP! HUSTLE LOYALTY RESPECT~! YOUR TIME IS UP, MY TIME IS NOW! YOU CAN’T SEE ME! McMahon gives Cena some unintended negative encouragement and then lets the doc go back to whatever he was doing with that stethoscope. KINKAY!

  • World Heavyweight Championship: Batista (c) vs. Mr. Kennedy

These two had a decent feud in the summertime in 2006 so I’m hoping their good work together continues. Kennedy can’t take his eyes off that world title when ref Nick Patrick holds it up in the air. Bats overpowers Kennedy to start. Kennedy thumbs Batista in the eye and continues with forearm shots, but Batista boots him back. They go to the floor where Kennedy shoves Bats into the steel steps where his knee takes some serious abuse. He’s selling it so much and knowing how injury prone Bats can be, I thought he may have torn something there. Back inside, Batista is still able to control Kennedy with punches and shoulder butts. All it takes though is a kick to the knee and Batista is putty in your hands. Time to go to school. WOO! Kennedy applies an INVERTED figure-four. That’s pretty cool. Bats finds the ropes, but the damage is done. Kennedy keeps Bats down in the corner and delivers the Running Facewash. He stays on the knee with a half crab while bleeding from the nose. The crowd seems behind Kennedy quite a bit. Batista tries coming back with power moves, but it’s so easy for his knee to bother him that Kennedy can slip away from a powerslam and go after the knee again. He does however hit a Spinebuster on Kennedy, but can’t capitalize. Kennedy kicks at Bats and even kicks him in the face which only serves to wake him up. He makes his superman comeback blocking out the pain. Bats delivers a Finlay Roll and calls for the DEMON BOMB, but Kennedy punches the bad knee and shoves Bats back into ref Nick Patrick. Kennedy kicks Bats in the balls and delivers a reverse neckbreaker, but no ref. Another kick to the head and a DDT gets 1-2-NO! Crowd is solidly behind Kennedy now. Bats runs into a boot in the corner, but catches Kennedy coming off the second rope with a clothesline. DEMON BOMB! Cover, 1-2-3. (10:32) This was all kinds of fun with loads of drama. With another 5-10 minutes, I think it could have went into MOTYC territory. All the same, an underrated match from my vantage point. ***¼

Kevin Thorn and Ariel are seen at the Royal Rumble lottery drum. Ariel seems happy with the number he drew. Time to go feast – whatever that means. When Coach mentions freaks in ECW, Hornswoggle stops by and picks a “small number” for Finlay. He bites Coach and runs away before being stopped by the Great Khali. Oh boy. Khali picks two balls from the drum. Coach tells Khali he can only have one number. He drops one of the lottery balls and leaves. With two lottery balls in her hands, Kelly Kelly exclaims how big they are causing a Ron Simmons DAMN cameo.

  • Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Championship: John Cena (c) vs. Umaga (w/Armando Alejandro Estrada)

Cena has his ribs all taped up after Umaga splashed him through a table on RAW. Classic staredown to start. Cena does fine with punching Umaga with rights, but then comes off the ropes and gets jabbed in the ribs. He has to retreat to the floor after that one. After a brief struggle on the apron, Umaga punches him to the floor and runs Cena into the steps. They brawl up the aisle and back into the ring where Umaga does what he wants to those ribs. Umaga then picks up half of the steps and tosses them into the ring, but Cena snaps his neck on the top rope to knock Umaga back down to the floor. As he gets to his feet, Cena picks up the steps and tosses them into Umaga’s face! Umaga is up at six. Despite all that madness, Cena gets cut off again this time with a spinning heel kick. When Umaga gets tired with a bearhug, he drills Cena with a belly to belly suplex. Ode to Yokozuna. The bottom half of the steps are now brought into the ring. Umaga leans the steps up in the corner to buttalanche Cena, but of course Cena moves and Umaga meets the cold hard steel. Cena then KO’s Umaga with the bottom half of the steps as well. When he staggers up, Cena tries to take him down with a flying body press only to get caught and destroyed with the Gunnslinger. We have another tribute to Yokozuna as Umaga drops a few Banzai Drops on Cena, but Cena blocks the third one with his knees. Cena gives Umaga the flipping facebuster onto the steps followed by the Protobomb! After Cena sells the ribs, he delivers the Five Knuckle Shuffle. It’s FU time, but Cena collapses and he may have had his head sandwiched between Umaga and the steps.

Cena is bleeding bad, but he’s up at nine. Umaga punches on the cut, but Cena will not give up. He doesn’t hulk up the way Hogan does, but he hulks up the way Sting does. He starts to NO-SELL and gets really pissed. Ahh, this is awesome. He punches back, but comes off the ropes only to run into a Samoan Drop. Umaga threatens the Samoan Spike. Cena stops the spike from digging into his throat, but gets headbutted down anyways. Umaga misses the tree of woe running headbutt as Cena sits up in the corner. He comes off the top rope and hits the Flying Famouser, but Umaga will not go down. Cena runs Umaga into the ringpost, steals a TV monitor away from Estrada, and then bashes it over Umaga’s head. Even still, Umaga is up at eight. Cena knocks Umaga through the ropes and leaps at him from the apron, but of course gets caught and backed into the ringpost. How have you not learned yet to *NOT* leap at Umaga? It’s like Sting trying to give someone a Stinger Splash up against the ringpost. Stop doing it! It never works. With three announce tables set up, Umaga lays Cena on the RAW table and runs down the tables to try and splash him only to miss. Umaga barely beats the ten count. The crowd even thought Cena had won, but nope. Estrada loosens a top turnbuckle using a giant wrench and instructs Umaga to use the turnbuckle connector like a BIONIC SAMOAN SPIKE~! He charges Cena only to get caught in an FU! Estrada gets decked! Cena whacks Umaga on the shoulders with the turnbuckle connector when he won’t stay down. He then applies the STFU while wrapping the top rope around Umaga’s neck — essentially choking the life out of him. When it looks like Umaga is done, Cena releases the choke. After a few seconds, UMAGA IS BACK MOVING AGAIN. Cena applies the STFU ROPE CHOKE once again until he *knows* Umaga is out. Umaga stays down for the ten count and Cena has survived another war with Umaga. (23:07) Now that’s pro wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. I could watch these two go at it every day. This had everything you could want in a wrestling match: violence, drama, psychology, and storytelling. Easy MOTYC as far as I’m concerned. ****½

Back at the Royal Rumble lottery drum, Coach is threatening to leave because of how he’s being treated by Smackdown and ECW. That’s when the Sandman comes to get his number. Not that it matters. WOO! It’s Ric Flair turn and gets the last lottery ball. Kelly Kelly flirts with him, but I’ve read she’ll flirt with just about anybody. Next thing we know, the lights dim and Flair gets grinded on by Layla and Brooke who make up the Extreme Expose. WHAT’S CAUSIN’ ALL THIS?

JBL puts over that last match as Cena’s greatest performance – and I have to agree.

  • The Rumble Match

We have Cole, JBL, and Lawler on commentary. JR, JBL, and Tazz would have been an interesting mess. This is billed as the most star-studded Royal Rumble ever. There’s maybe eight people in this Rumble that I would consider as *stars*. Ric Flair and Finlay drew #1 and #2. Flair chops Finlay and Finlay pounds on Flair. Kenny Dykstra comes out at #3. Flair is waiting for him and chops him all around the ring. Finlay ambushes Flair, but definitely didn’t do it to help Dykstra as Finlay tries to toss him over the top rope. Flair tries dumping them both out. I would have liked to have seen that happen, but it doesn’t. #4 is Matt Hardy. He drills Dykstra with the Side Effect. The babyfaces and heels pair off, but no one is eliminated. Edge runs out at #5 and goes into SPEAR mode. Matt Hardy knows it’s coming and sidesteps the charge to nail him with the TWIST OF FATE. Flair goes out to the floor and tosses some chairs into the ring because he’s a crazy old coot. It doesn’t nothing to help him though as Edge throws him out. Dykstra takes some of the credit and gets dumped by Edge as well. Tommy Dreamer enters in at #6. He punches on Edge and dropkicks him while he’s in the tree of woe. #7 is Sabu. He sets up a table at ringside and then goes inside the ring to go after Dreamer. Gregory Helms comes out at #8. He has an awkward run. Does he think they aren’t expecting him or something? He picks up where he left off things with Matt Hardy as they brawl. Finlay teases throwing Sabu through the table, but Sabu rakes the face. Shelton Benjamin draws #9. He does several table spot teases with Finlay and Hardy. Kane enters in at #10. Business is about to pick up. As he tears through everyone, Dreamer gets tossed. Sabu is next as he takes a CHOKESLAM off the apron through the table. You had to know when he set that thing up he was going through it. CM Punk makes his Rumble debut and joins the rest of the crew at #11. King Booker comes out at #12. He throws out Helms and then tries to eliminate Punk with the help of Benjamin. #13 is Super Crazy. He makes the mistake of going after the freshest people, but doesn’t get eliminated just yet. Jeff Hardy runs down at #14 and he’s still selling the abuse from the opening match. He joins Matt and they start double-teaming people. Smart move. The Sandman comes in through the crowd at #15. He doesn’t stay long at all. While he nails anybody who gets close with his Singapore cane, Booker throws him out. JBL – “You may drink beer, but you ain’t Stone Cold.” This is where an ECW announcer would have benefited that brand to have some defend Sandman, but what do I know? I’m just a dumb wrestling fan.

Randy Orton enters the match at #16. He and Edge toss out Super Crazy. To prove how dangerous they are together, they continue their eliminating ways by getting rid of both Hardy Boyz. Chris Benoit gets the crowd pumped at #17. Chops and suplexes all around. #18 is Rob Van Dam. He’s got kicks for everybody. As Booker staggers back out of the corner from one of those RVD kicks, Kane grabs Booker and throws him out. So distraught with what just happened, Booker gets back inside the ring and delivers a Harlem Side Kick followed by an AXE KICK to Kane. And if that’s not enough, he eliminates Kane and continues to beat him up at ringside until refs and agents stop him. Viscera comes out at #19. It’s amazing this guy is 500 pounds and can’t toss anybody out. Johnny Nitro enters in at #20. Shelton Benjamin is still around and he holds onto the bottom rope despite not touching the floor. Pretty wild, but it’s no crazy parkour stuff Nitro and Kofi Kingston will do in the years to come. #21 is Kevin Thorn. Yep. Moving on. We head to #22 with Hardcore Holly. This is sooo star-studded, I can’t even see straight. The ring is really starting to fill up meaning some big dude that they really want to push must be coming out soon. Shawn Michaels comes out at #23 and his hometown crowd wakes up. While everyone but Finlay is trying to dump out Viscera, Finlay is left to bump for Shawn until he’s tossed out. It takes Viscera receiving SWEET CHIN MUSIC in order to be staggered enough to be eliminated by everyone. Next thing we know, Benjamin charges Michaels and takes a backdrop to the floor. Out comes Chris Masters as #24. Rated RKO is seen concentrating on HBK. #25 is Chavo Guerrero. Benoit eliminates Thorn which is just about as interesting. MVP comes out at #26. He goes right after Benoit as they will start feuding very soon. Van Dam dropkicks Masters out of the ring to send him to the showers. I just noticed it seems Punk has spent a lot of time on the apron playing defense out here tonight. Carlito is #27. Van Dam and Chavo work hard to get rid of Michaels, but we know that ain’t happening. The Great Khali comes out at #28. He’s got headbutts and head chops for everybody. He tosses out Holly and Benoit. The Miz runs down at #29 and he’s immediately thrown out by Khali. There’s goes Van Dam, Punk, Carlito, and Chavo all at the hands of Khali. Shawn goes after Khali, but he’s given the TREE SLAM instead of being tossed out. WHO CAN STOP THE GREAT KHALI? Well, the Undertaker can. He’s #30. The crowd is totally behind the Undertaker and those punches. He manages to pound Khali up against the ropes and clotheslines him out all by himself. SCARY. Everyone is getting hit by Taker now. There’s Old School for MVP and now he’s tossed out to leave our final four.

FINAL FOUR: Edge, Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels, and the Undertaker. Orton cools down Taker with a chairshot. As Edge sets up for the SPEAR, Orton gets in his crosshairs and cocks back to hit Edge with the chair causing a heated discussion. Shawn finally gets up to his feet after the Tree Slam and gets dropped by Orton with an RKO. Edge and Orton go after Taker who is now bleeding. When that fails, Taker fights them off with a double-clothesline. Snake Eyes and Big Boot to Edge! Taker looks for the Chokeslam on Orton, but Edge saves the day with a SPEAR to Taker. Edge whacks Taker again with the chair. Rated RKO want to give Taker the CONCHAIRTO, but Orton sees Michaels is recovering. He charges HBK and takes a backdrop to the floor. Edge swings wild at Michaels with the chair and misses. He turns around and eats SWEET CHIN MUSIC to send him over the top rope to the floor. When Taker sits up and looks at Shawn, that’s when HBK kips up. Here we go. They beat the pulp out of each other in a corner. When Shawn gets whipped across into the other corner, the momentum takes him onto the apron. Taker goes for it all with a running boot and misses. Once he’s on the apron, Shawn charges him with a forearm smash. Taker is able to hold onto the ropes and knocks Shawn back when he charges him again. Taker stuns HBK with a big boot and looks for a superplex, but Shawn pounds him down to the mat for the Flying Elbow. San Antonio gets behind Shawn as he “tunes up the band”. Taker catches the kick though and pulls Shawn into a CHOKESLAM. HBK slips away from the TOMBSTONE though and lands SWEET CHIN MUSIC. He goes to superkick Taker out of the ring like Diesel in 1996, but Taker ducks and flips Shawn over the top rope to the floor to win his first Rumble match. (56:21) The final four saved this Rumble from being one of the most boring of all-time – and they saved it in spades because you’d be hard pressed to find anybody doing anything all that interesting before they got eliminated. Not only does Taker finally get himself a Rumble win, but #30 finally got a win for the first time ever. ***½

Final Thoughts: Some great booking for everyone but ECW. Not a giant stinker on the whole card except for the finish of the ECW world title match. Surprisingly, it really wasn’t all that bad of a match leading up to it. I mean I don’t understand why they went with *that* finish, but whatever. Were we really supposed to be so impressed with Lashley because Test couldn’t handle him? Anyways, aside from that and *most* of the Rumble match, this was actually a very good PPV and one I recommend. Thumbs up for Royal Rumble 2007.

AND NOW FOR A SPECIAL ADDED BONUS MATCH~!

  • Shawn Michaels vs. Edge – Street Fight (WWE Raw, 1/22/07)

We’re ultimately wrapping up the Rated RKO/DX feud here thanks to Triple H’s exploding quadricep muscles back at New Year’s Revolution. Much like the 2 Man Power Trip/Benoit & Jericho feud in 2001, this one becomes a triple-threat feud in an effort to find an opponent for John Cena at WrestleMania. John Cena became Shawn’s partner and won the tag titles the following week, but it’s not quite the same. It’s another ‘come-as-you-are’ street fight. Shawn Michaels has his forehead taped, Edge has his ribs taped like he’s DDP in 1997 and 1998. It starts much like the last street fight they had in 2005 where HBK rips off Edge’s vest and whips him like a dog with a belt. Shawn whacks Edge with a trash can, but then he pescados down into a trash can lid to the face! Commercials! When we return, there’s pairs of stairs and other plunder all over the ring. Shawn is bleeding courtesy of a face slam on those steps. Edge finds a ladder and SUPERPLEXES the ladder onto Shawn! He sells it like his arm is broken. Slow cover gets two. Edge makes a scaffold with the ladder using the stairs and wants to powerbomb Shawn, but Michaels punches him down. They both come up exchanging punches and chops. Michaels wins that exchange as he explodes off the ropes with the Flying Forearm. Shawn grabs a chain and wraps it around Edge’s face, which helps out tremendously with turnbuckle smashes. Why didn’t Piper and Valentine think of that? That’s a great 1983 finish. Edge is bleeding and gets slammed on the scaffold. Shawn heads up top, but gets stopped for maybe a superplex. Shawn counters and drops him sternum-first on the scaffold. Flying Elbow connects and the ref is getting all the plunder out of the ring to make room for something. Well, that kind of ruins it for me. Shawn “tunes up the band” and the crowd is ROCKIN’ IN THE IMPACT ZONE or whatever. Edge sidesteps Sweet Chin Music and tries to lift up Shawn for an impromptu Electric Chair Drop. That turns ugly as Shawn lands hard on the back of his head. Shawn counters the Spear with a Thesz Press that Edge made look like gold with his feet flying up in the air. Michaels Shawn KO’s Edge with a chair and then threatens him with a One-Man-Conchairto. As he doubles over to really get momentum with the swing, suddenly Randy Orton appears from behind in an AMAZING visual and RKOs the heck out of Shawn. Randy sulks in the corner with his black eye clinching his jaws while Edge crawls over and covers Shawn for the 1-2-3. (11:12 shown) Good brawl with tons of heat, but I would still recommend the 2005 street fight over this one. The Randy Orton interference just blew my mind. ***½

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