Commentators: Raw, Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler SmackDown, Michael Cole and Tazz
World Tag Team Championship Ric Flair & Batista vs. Dudley Boyz tables match: Jonathan Coachman assists on commentary for this opening match. Batista cuts a promo on the Dudleyz and manages to insult the hometown Eagles; that entices the Dudleyz into a brawl in the aisle. Ric Flair takes a backdrop on the floor. Bubba slides a table under the ropes across the ring into Batista’s ribs. The bell rings and Flair eats a powerslam and double suplexed almost through a table but Batista moved it. The Dudleyz turn their attention to Batista and extricate him from the ring. Flair chops Bubba on a table in the corner; Bubba reverses and hits a bionic elbow. Batista returns and takes Bubba’s head off with a lariat then takes out D-Von. Evolution works over each Dudley until Batista misses a second charge in the corner versus Bubba. D-Von takes down Flair but he counters a corner charge and goes up. Bubba Flairs Flair off the top rope and the Dudley Boyz set up a table as Coachman leaves the announce booth and strolls to the ring. Bubba flings the Coach into the ring and plan to give him the Wazzup spot but Flair interferes; Batista returns and spinebusters D-Von through a table for the win. Post-match Flair brags about Evolution. 3.5/10 Wow that was fast a match. Not too bad but it was way too quick for it to “out of the blocks”.
John Cena in Philadelphia Phillies POWDER BLUE jersey; he raps but Rob Van Dam interrupts and mentions his name. They show an empty ringside seat that is for Mick Foley; Steve Austin invited him to the Rumble to watch Randy Orton.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Rey Mysterio vs. Jaime Noble (w/Nidia): Nidia was blinded by Tajiri’s BLACK MIST accidently when Noble pulled her in between to shield himself. Noble backdrops Rey over the top but he returns via head scissors and sets Noble up for the 619 but Noble counters with a flapjack. Noble chops away and suplex hangs Mysterio off the top rope. Rey hits a quick roll-up for two but Jaime ends him with a clothesline and slaps on a seated abdominal stretch. Rey fights out; Noble tries the flapjack again but Mysterio dropkicks him. Rey hits a spinning hurracanrana and the wheelbarrow bulldog; Jamie counters the springboard crossbody into a gut buster, though. Rey blocks the Tiger Driver; Nidia “accidentally” grabs Noble’s leg to try to interfere and it sets up Rey for the 619; Mysterio drops the dime for three. 5/10 This was faster than the first but packed as much action as possible in those three minutes.
Recap of the Los Guerreros break up. Los Guerreros were one of the most entertaining teams ever. They did the Bret Hart/Owen Hart style break up; for some reason Kurt Angle got involved as well. Eddie’s Brother Chavo Guerrero, Sr. also got involved and assisted his son.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Chavo Guerrero (w/Chavo Guerrero, Sr.): Chavo uses Eddie’s old WCW music, which was awesome, for his entrance. They lock up and slap the crap out of each other; Eddie wants to punch Chavo in the face in the corner, but resists. Eddie drives him down into an armbar; Chavo forces him into the corner and chops him. Eddie chops back and smiles at Chavito. They trade headlocks and shoulderblocks. They trade chops and Eddie pokes him in the eye. Eddie applies a reverse armbar; Chavo luchas him up and hurracanranas him over the top. Eddie decides to use the ring steps to reenter the ring just so Chavo, Sr. can trip him up and faceplant him onto them whilst Chavo had the referee distracted. Chavo fires up and aggressively stomps and punches the hell out of Eddie. Eddie reverses but again will not punch Chavo in the face; Chavo has no problem punching his uncle though. Eddie reverses into a cross-arm breaker. Chavo lands a backdrop suplex and then the Three Amigos, mocking his uncle. Eddie flips over the third one and shoves Chavo into the corner. Eddie runs into an elbow and Chavo tries the tornado DDT; Eddie counters and head-butts the shoulder. Eddie lands the Three Amigos and fires up. Eddie lands the frogsplash for three. Post-match Eddie lays out Chavo, Sr. and loses his cool. He kicks his brother in los juevos and beats on Chavo; Eddie ties Chavo, Sr.’s tie to the bottom rope and Eddie beats Chavo bloody in the corner. 5.5/10 That was an awfully fast match for a year of storyline; I appreciate the story of the match with Eddie keeping his composure until he snapped in the end and beat the crap out of the Chavos.
Chris Benoit begins to talk about the Rumble until Evolution interrupts; Ric Flair calls him a lifetime second place. He then shoots Champaign all over the place and woos a lot.
Recap of Brock Lesnar breaking Hardcore Holly’s neck on September 12, 2002 and Holly’s vengeful return.
WWE Heavyweight Championship Brock Lesnar vs. Hardcore Holly: Holly attacks Lesnar as he jumps onto the apron and beats him up ringside. Lesnar goes to the neck to get the advantage but Holly posts Lesnar. The bell rings as Holly climbs to the top and MISSES a reverse elbow; Lesnar stomps way. Holly gets rammed into the ring apron on the floor and Lesnar applies a reverse bearhug back in the ring. Lesnar stomps away and lands a fireman’s buster for two; Lesnar reapplies the bearhug. You can tell Lesnar’s heart was not as into the WWE at this point; normally he’d be throwing his opponent around instead of settling into a bearhug. Holly reverses his field and now Lesnar has him in a front bearhug; Holly begins to battle so Lesnar belly-to-belly suplexes him. Brock goes back to another reverse bearhug-like move. Holly finally comes back and hits a diving clothesline followed by a dropkick; he lands the Alabama Slam and goes for a full nelson, trying to injure Lesnar’s neck, in lieu of winning the title. Lesnar retreats to the floor as he is getting back in Holly tires another full nelson but Brock hotshots him off the top rope; Holly charges into the F-5 for three. 2.5/10 I hate this decisive, boring, almost squash, match… in a blood feud. Holly returned and has been chasing Brock since before Survivor Series and he loses in less than six minutes; actually all of these feud matches, up to this point, have barely hit the ten minute mark. I guess the intervals for the Rumble are going to be fifteen seconds?
They review the ENTIRE Triple H/Shawn Michaels storyline from the Kliq to DX to the return of Shawn.
World Heavyweight Championship Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels last man standing: I think the entrances took longer than the last three matches. HHH forces Shawn into the corner and punches away. They go through a series of nearfalls, referee Earl Hebner just watches, to emphasize no pinfalls in this match. HBK drops his head for a backdrop and eats a facebuster; HHH whips Shawn into the corner HARD and adds a backbreaker. Triple H’s strategy is to zero in on Shawn’s notoriously bad back. They trade counters until HHH scores with a right. HBK dragon screws into a figure-four leglock; simple strategy, break the leg, HHH cannot stand up. It also works the notoriously bad quadriceps of HHH. First count of the match; Triple H low bridges a HBK charge and Shawn spills to the floor. Triple H begins to dismantle both announce tables. Shawn counters a suplex on the table and they battle on them. Shawn knocks HHH off and axe handles him. Back to the ring Shawn climbs; HHH counters Shawn coming off the top and tries a Pedigree, HBK backdrops him over the top. Shawn fakes out HHH with a pescato and tries an Asai crossbody but HHH moves and Shawn crashes thought the announce table. Shawn is bleeding and is up at seven; back to the ring HHH works the cut and Shawn is up at eight. Triple H keeps punching his head in hopes of a KO but Shawn keeps getting up at seven or eight. Shawn asks for more. Every time Shawn answers the ten count, Jim Ross acts like he cured cancer; hasn’t he been watching ANY Shawn Michaels matches in the last ten years? HHH continues to brutalize… wait Shawn starts to fight back; spinebuster puts Shawn down again. Shawn is a bloody mess; HHH grabs a chair and CLOBBERS Shawn with it. Shawn GETS UP! Triple H is frustrated now so he tries the Pedigree on a chair but Shawn counters and slingshots him into the post. Shawn acquires the (bloody) chair and CLOCKS Triple H with it; now HHH is bleeding. Brawling ensues until Shawn hits the flying forearm and nips up. HBK fires up and begins to build momentum with an inverted atomic drop. Shawn goes to the top and drops the elbow (to the heart of the champion). HBK tunes up the band… but Triple H counters with the deadliest blatant low blow EVER; they are both up at eight. Shawn applies a sleeper to try to put HHH out; Hebner checks the arm of HHH, after it drops for the third time HBK releases the sleeper to allow a count. Triple H struggles up at eight and they exchange arm-weary blows again. HHH hits a DDT on HBK; Shawn efforts himself up at eight. Triple H whips Shawn upside down in the corner; with Shawn seated on the top rope, HHH tries a backdrop superplex, but Shawn turns it around to a crossbody in midair. Both guys gut it out at eight. Triple H scores with a Pedigree. HHH is up at six as Shawn wills his way up at nine. Triple H charges right into Sweet Chin Music and then collapses. Shawn Michaels is ALMOST up at nine but collapses and the referee counts both men down; making it a draw. Triple H retains the title. Post-match referees check on Shawn as Ric Flair and Batista help out Triple H. HHH is stretchered out but Shawn refuses a stretcher electing to leave under his own power. 8/10 Intense brutal battle; both men fight and brawled and sold it like it was the most physically tolling match ever.
A nice recap shows all of the thirty various reasons for wanting to win and all of the various storylines involved. It all leads to WrestleMania XX (full review, click here).
Raw GM Eric Bishoff interrupts Howard Finkel’s Rumble announcement to boast about Raw and run down SmackDown GM Paul Heyman. That draws Heyman out who tackles Bishoff in lieu of verbally retorting. Sheriff Steve Austin rolls out on his ATV and stuns both of them for breaking “his law”.
Elsewhere, #30 Goldberg is about to talk to interviewer Terri Runnels when Brock Lesnar barges in and gets in his face about losing the title. Goldberg mentions Hardcore Holly; that freaks out Lesnar and Goldberg calls Lesnar a coward. At the commentator’s table Tazz gets Jim Ross to admit that Mick Foley is a coward for not showing up.
The Royal Rumble: #1 Chris Benoit because Heyman put him there; #2 Randy Orton because he is in line for the next big future push, start off this year. They circle and lock up; Benoit clotheslines Orton and snap suplexes him. Orton battles back and kicks in the corner; they take turns raking each other there. It’s time for #3 Mark Henry to head out, when he was managed by Teddy Long. Henry dominates Benoit and Orton; Benoit chops back but Henry overpowers him and then clobbers Orton. Benoit finally gets the advantage on Henry as #4 Tajiri heads out. Tajiri kicks the crap out of Orton and follows up with the handspring elbow. Benoit tries to vertical suplex him but Tajiri counters; Benoit standing switches into a pair of German suplexes. Orton, in his aqua trunks (looks awkward); tries Henry again to no avail. Orton saves off elimination; Henry turns his back, which allows Orton to gain control. #5 Bradshaw, still in the APA but looking a lot more like JBL, comes in and clotheslines everyone in sight; Benoit counters with a Crippler Crossface, though. Bradshaw stands up (still in the crossface) Benoit manages him over the top, ELIMINATING him. Everyone is down; Henry gets up and continues on Orton. Here is #6 Rhyno who goes for Benoit whom he turned on back in 2003. Tajiri applies the Tarantula on Mark Henry. Rhyno spinebusters Benoit but Chris leapfrogs a gore attempt and nails Henry (still in the Tarantula); that knocks Tajiri off the ropes ELIMINATING him. Benoit then clotheslines Mark Henry out ELIMINATING him. Rhyno and Orton both try to eliminate Benoit but he fights out. #7 Matt Hardy, Version 1.0 heads out and stomps on Benoit and Side Effects Rhyno. Benoit tosses him over the top but not out. They pair off and brawl in opposite corners. Here comes #8 Scott Steiner back down in the midcard where he belongs. Scott arrives and Steinerlines everyone and T-Bone suplexes Orton; trapped-arm belly-to-belly suplex for Benoit. Tazz is overexcited on commentary due to all the suplexes. Steiner gets off an uranage suplex this time on Rhyno. Steiner tries Benoit again but he says “you wanna suplex? Here’s two Germans for your ‘roided up ass.” Jim Ross mentions an interesting (but useless) nugget, that there are no former Rumble winners in this Rumble so we will crown a first time winner this year. Matt has Orton over the top but Benoit interferes as #9 Matt Morgan heads out. Benoit backdrop suplexes Matt Hardy. Morgan hits a spinning sit-out powerbomb on Benoit; Hardy tries Morgan but gets big booted. Steiner hits a vertical suplex on Rhyno as Morgan boots Orton in the corner.
It’s time for #10 The Hurricane to head to the ring and come off the top rope onto Matt Hardy. Hurricane goes for Morgan who no sells all of his offense except a poke in the eye; Hurricane crossbodys Morgan who catches him and ELIMINATES him. Steiner and Orton roll around on the canvas as Morgan almost eliminates Hardy as he hangs on. This is about the time I realized everyone in the Rumble tries to “out-almost eliminate” each other. They try to one-up each other in near eliminations. Matt goes for the legs of Morgan to get him down as #11 Booker T, with music I do not recognize, heads out. Booker goes for Steiner for old (new) WCW time’s sake then Booker clips Orton with an axe kick. The ring is starting to fill up as everyone hangs on the ropes. Here is #12 Kane, now without a mask, heads out as Booker (I think, it was off camera) ELIMINATES Scott Steiner; replay confirms it. Kane starts firing off chokeslams. Benoit gets one; Morgan tries to powerbomb Kane but he counters into a chokeslam. Matt gets side slammed and Rhyno big booted; chokeslam to Orton. Classic Kane Rumble entrance; everyone on their feet, Kane arrives, everyone down on the canvas. Everyone, sands Kane, is down as the Undertaker’s gong goes off for #13 distracting Kane allowing Booker T to ELIMINATE him; the actual #13 Spike Dudley heads out and Kane chokeslams him on the ramp. Everyone returns to brawling on the ropes. Kane buried the Undertaker alive (in his biker motif) at Survivor Series; weeks later Undertaker’s Deadman gong began to torture Kane all the way up to their match at WrestleMania XX (full review, click here). Here is #14 Rikishi heading out; I guess Spike was taken to the back unable to compete thus ELIMINATING him. Benoit who had been battling Rhyno for a while finally backdrops him out, ELIMINATING him as Rikishi lays everyone out; Matt Morgan receives a Stink Face. Everyone pairs off as #15 René Duprée heads to the ring and Tazz does not remember who he is. Duprée was in La Résistance just about a month after their debut. Matt tries a Twist of Fate and Duprée counter suplexes and ELIMINATES Matt Hardy. René decides to perform the French Tickler taunt in celebration; that leaves him open to a Rikishi superkick, ELIMINATING Duprée. Booker tries to toss Rikishi. Now #16 A-Train heads out and goes for Rikishi. Benoit avoids a Morgan boot in the corner and Chris ELIMINATES Matt Morgan. Everyone gangs up on A-Train but he survives. Orton sneaks up and ELIMINATES Rikishi from behind; then Orton ELIMINATES Booker T. A-Train beats down Benoit as Orton crumbles in the corner; here is #17 Shelton Benjamin heads to the ring. Benoit ELIMINATES A-Train as Benjamin attacks Orton. Shelton misses a superkick and Orton ELIMINATES Benjamin. It’s back down to #1 and #2 again. Benoit and Orton battle again; backdrop suplex to Orton. They clock heads for #18 Earnest “The Cat” Miller heads out with Lamont and they dance in the ring. Orton ELIMINATES the Cat as Benoit tosses Lamont over the top. Orton beats on Benoit until #19 Kurt Angle runs down and attacks Orton. Benoit and Angle do a quick battle of chops in the corner. Orton hangs in the corner as Angle begins to dominate the weary Benoit.
#20 Rico comes out, looking like he stole the “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s tights, and attacks Orton. Benoit and Angle continue their battle as Rico hits a corner step-up kick. Orton suckers Rico into an RKO as Benoit hits the rolling German suplexes on Angle. Rico is out so Orton fireman’s carries him over the top ELIMINATING him. Angle and Benoit battle on the top rope; #21 Test does not appear, Orton RKOs Angle. Test is in the back out cold; Steve Austin yells at someone off camera and makes that person the #21 entrant. Mick Foley heads to the ring as Orton poops himself. Foley clobbers Orton and Cactus clotheslines him and Orton over the top, ELIMINATING both of them. Foley beats on Orton on the outside of the ring as #22 Christian heads out. Christian posts Benoit as Foley clobbers some WWE officials with the steel steps allowing Orton a few chairshots. Orton gets a few parting shots on Foley and they brawl all of the way up the ramp. Foley gets Mr. Socko just as #23 Nunzio heads out, he eats Socko, and Orton saves Nunzio by kicking Foley in the balls. Nunzio hangs out on the floor as Christian and Benoit try to heave Angle; Kurt comes back with a German suplex on Christian and then Benoit. Angle gets Christian over the top. #24 Big Show comes out and annihilates everyone with head-butts, chops and clotheslines. His dominance continues as #25 Chris Jericho heads out; Nunzio still has not gotten in the ring. Y2J works on Angle until Big Show wipes him and Christian out. Show chops Jericho in the corner; everyone gangs up on Big Show to try to eliminate him. Show fights them all off in a very André the Giant-like way. Here is #26 Charlie Haas and he goes for Christian. Chris Jericho and Christian form a bond and double team everyone they can. Everyone battles; Angle works over Big Show in the corner as Benoit almost goes out. Christian turns on Jericho and tosses him to the apron; when Christian goes after him Y2J hooks himself between the ropes and backdrops Christian out, ELIMINATING him. Jericho turns into Big Show as #27 Billy Gunn, returning from some injury and returning to the “Mr. Ass” gimmick from the Billy and Chuck team, sprints into the ring; he Fameassers Kurt Angle and Jericho. Billy Gunn manages a Fameasser on Big Show and tries to toss Jericho. Y2J comes back and backdrop suplexes Angle. Here comes #28 John Cena to the ring, he brings in Nunzio, as Big Show awaits Cena. Big Show attacks Cena instantly as they feuded all the way to WrestleMania XX. #29 Rob Van Dam comes out as Jericho and Cena try to toss Big Show. RVD arrives and attacks the Big Show until Jericho intercepts him; RVD spin kicks him. Angle and Cena go at it as Benoit, RVD and Nunzio battle in the corner. Cena drops an F-U on Kurt Angle. The last entrant #30 Goldberg comes out and now people are going to hit the floor. He jumps over the top and clobbers Big Show with a spear. Billy Gunn eats a spear as well. Everyone tries to take on Goldberg but he casually destroys all of them. Nunzio jumps on Goldberg’s back as Goldberg ELIMINATES Charlie Haas with one arm. He flings Nunzio off his back and cuts him in half him with a spear. Goldberg kills Billy Gunn’s corpse with a clothesline ELIMINATING him; Goldberg press-slams Nunzio’s lifeless body over the top ELIMINATING him. Goldberg’s wrath of destruction is cut off by Brock Lesnar, who attacks him from behind and nails an F-5, setting up the infamous WrestleMania XX match. With Goldberg distracted, Kurt Angle lifts him over the top rope, ELIMINATING him. Everyone gangs up on Big Show again but he shoves them all across the ring. There are lots of dominating performances in the ring by the big guys tonight; Show begins to dominate the ring again until Angle clips the knee. Everyone hits high spots on Big Show; Lionsault, Five-Star Frogsplash, Five Knuckle Shuffle followed by Benoit’s diving head-butt. Angle rallies the troops to toss Big Show but they all cannot lift him. Show flings them all off again, tosses Cena over the top ELIMINATING him giving us the visual of him twisting his leg awkwardly from the beginning of all of the “do not try this at home” spots. RVD tries a monkey flip and Show tosses him over the top, ELIMINATING him. The final four for the 2004 Royal Rumble are; Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Big Show and Chris Benoit. Show tosses Jericho but Y2J skins-the-cat and tries Big Show he manages a second-rope bulldog on him; he applies the Walls of Jericho to Big Show for a meaningless tap out. Angle and Jericho battle on the ropes and Show manhandles Benoit. Big Show chokeslams Jericho over the top to the floor ELIMINATING Chris Jericho; Big Show begins to beat on Angle and sidewalk slams him. A chokeslam to Benoit as Angle tries a German suplex but gets floored by Show. Angle manages an Olympic Slam on Show and Benoit. Kurt removes the straps and asks the crowd who should receive the ankle lock; they vote Show who counters with a chokeslam… reversed into the ankle lock. Show taps again and screams in pain. Show uses the ropes to help him up and leg rolls himself, over the top, onto the apron ELIMINATING Kurt Angle in the process. Benoit climbs to the top and splashes Big Show over the top rope back into the ring, how unfortunate. This looks insurmountable for Benoit; he counters the chokeslam, however, into a Crippler Crossface as Show taps for the third time. Show stands up with Benoit on his back and then squashes him. Big Show removes his strap and stalks Benoit and taunts him. Show presses him but Benoit counters into a front chancery. Show flops over the top as Benoit holds on to the facelock Big Show slowly falls over the top, ELIMINATED, as Benoit goes from #1 to Royal Rumble winner. 9/10 One hell of a Rumble, obviously the long term ramifications of Benoit’s actions sour this a little, but as far as a moment and a Rumble they are close to perfect.
OVERALL 8/10 The Rumble itself if the best match of the night, as it should be considering this PPV is the Royal Rumble. Benoit elicits the usual (warranted) criticism again I separate the man from the professional wrestler and find this to be the best Royal Rumble match since the 1992 Royal Rumble (full review, click here). The undercard was FAR TOO quick (especially title matches) with the average match time being about six minutes; do not worry that much about that as the Rumble itself saves the PPV.