Published on January 24th, 2015 | by Gareth Davies0
It’s Now Time… For The Ultimate Royal Rumble!! Part 1
With the 2015 Royal Rumble just around the corner, welcome to part one of Need To Consume’s special feature putting together the ultimate Royal Rumble line-up. For simplicities sake I’ve limited the choices to one Tag title match, one World title match, one Secondary title match, one Rumble match, and one other, which has lead to many cups of coffee, sleepless nights, and ruined friendships. Enjoy!
The Hardy Boyz Vs. MNM – Royal Rumble 2007
Opening matches at the Royal Rumble are a mixed bag. And by “mixed bag” what I really mean is “forgettable sludge”. After all no one is really buying the event for the undercard, as the Rumble match itself is where the real money is. Hence the reason why such dead cert clunkers as The Bushwhackers Vs. The Fabulous Rougeaus, Ahmed Johnson Vs. Jeff Jarrett, and The Big Boss Man Vs. Road Dogg have jerked the curtain in Rumbles past.
However even with these slim pickings there are a couple of diamonds in the rough. Shawn Michaels Vs. Edge from 2008 is about as good as you would expect it to be without ever really hitting top gear, while the cruiserweight Six Way from 2006 is a fun little car crash. In the end though I’ve plumped for The Hardy Boyz Vs MNM from 2007. It’s easy to forget now, but at one point it seemed like MNM would become the tag team of the noughties. Of course that was until Joey Mercury’s “personal demons” dissolved the team for good and Johnny Nitro became a Doors tribute act. Still they were great together while they lasted, and add to that a focused Jeff and a pre meltdown Matt and this one is a frenetic and fast paced treat. It won’t set the world alight, but as Rumble openers go this is as good as it gets.
Shawn Michaels(C) Vs. Marty Jannetty – Royal Rumble 1993
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match
Speaking of “personal demons”, over a year after Shawn Michaels shocked the world by smashing Marty Jannetty’s head through the Barber Shop window, the two men finally met to settle the score. Originally this match was supposed to happen at WrestleMania VIII, but in real life Marty got placed under house arrest for assaulting a police officer, and Michaels moved on to a yawn inducing rivalries with Rick Martel and Tito Santana. Still, better late than never, and thanks to a slow burning blood feud and a storyline revolving around dissension bubbling between Michaels and Sensational Sherri, this one came in hot.
The match itself is almost a template for what would eventually become known as “WWE style”. Start off slow, throw in a couple of high spots here and there, before going all out bananas for the finale. And despite some sloppy looking offence (a suicide dive and a DDT from Jannetty both looked particularly brutal) this is actually a hell of a match. In fact the only real negative is that it’s let down by a dubious finish and a metaphorical “To be continued…”. Don’t let that spoil it for you though, as what proceeds it is an enjoyable contest between two of the best workers of their generation.
Unfortunately, what should have led to an exemplary series of matches between the two came to an abrupt end when Jannetty, in typical Jannetty fashion, was fired for allegedly wrestling this bout while drunk as a skunk. Which begs the question, how good would this have been if Jannetty was sober?
Bret Hart & Owen Hart Vs. The Quebecers(C) – Royal Rumble 1994
WWF World Tag Team Championship Match
We’re not the Mounties! Ah The Quebecers, dudes who dressed exactly like Mounties but then sang about how they weren’t Mounties for fear of being legitimately sued by the real Mounties. Managed by a pre-Raven Johnny Polo (essentially doing Jim Cornette’s white rich boy gimmick even though Cornette was working in the same company at the same time) they consisted of the ever annoying Jacques Rougeau and the criminally underrated Carl Oullett. This match isn’t about them however, even if they were the champs. No siree, this all about them Hart boys.
Trouble was brewing between brothers Bret and Owen, dating back to the previous year’s Survivor Series when Owen was eliminated and blamed it on his elder sibling. Having challenged Bret to a fight, The Hitman refused to compete against his own flesh and blood, preferring instead to resolve their differences with a chat and nice cup of tea. They did so and, for a time at least, The Sons of Stu presented a united front. Owen even cuts a fantastic promo in the build up to the match.
“I know after Survivor Series I said some things I probably shouldn’t have said. It doesn’t matter if they were true or not. I really doesn’t matter. Because 1994 is going to be our year! The Rocket is going to be taking off, and I’m going to have my brother Bret there right behind me! Quebecers, we’re coming for you. We’re gunning for those World Tag Team championships. And with my brother Bret and The Rocket leading the way, you’re going to be hitched right behind me Bret, we’re going to make 1994 a memorable year for The Rocket! And for The Hitman too.”
The tussle itself is also a perfect example of what made both Owen and Bret such wonderful in ring performers. Owen was starting to transition from his high octane aerial style to becoming one of the best technical grapplers in the game, while Bret was at this point at the very peak of his storytelling prowess. And even though you could argue this bout is just dressing for the more important post match angle, it still manages to be engrossing and fabulously entertaining, with The Quebecers more than holding up their end of the bargain. Even the final act with Owen’s botched backstage interview is both hilarious and somehow endearing, despite its inherent failings. In every way this is a joy.
CM Punk(C) Vs. The Rock – Royal Rumble 2013
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
No gimmicks. No stipulations. Just two of the greatest ever to lace up a pair of boots with the richest prize in the game on the line. With The Rock returning to squared to the circle after some time off to be a Hollywood megastar, a rematch against John Cena at the following WrestleMania seemed like a forgone conclusion. Alas one roadblock standing in his way was the longest reigning WWE champion since the 1980’s, the sociopathic CM Punk.
Building the match around The Rock’s injured knee, the two men put together a superb battle, even incorporating an accidentally collapsed table halfway through as if it was completely planned. Throw in cameo appearances from The Shield, Vince McMahon, and The Rock’s own mother – who probably has the best facial expressions in the entire business – and it cements this as a much overlooked classic.
What’s even more remarkable is that despite the result of the match being pretty obvious from the outset, Punk and Rock manage to keep the audience on the edge of their seats throughout. Accompanied by Michael Cole calling the action tremendously (which, let’s face it, is something that doesn’t happen all that often), the stars absolutely aligned for this one.
Royal Rumble match – Royal Rumble 2008
A controversial choice possibly, considering the high regard the 92 Rumble is held in. And while 92 has possibly the last truly great Ric Flair performance, together with Bobby Heenan’s peerless work on commentary, 2008 just pips it for me thanks to star power, a vocal and enthusiastic New York crowd, and a shock ending with the unlikely return of one of the biggest superstars of all time.
Starting off with The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, the final two combatants of the previous year’s Rumble, 2008 sets its stall out early as something special. With these two undisputed legends carrying the bulk of the early going we get a much more chaotic event than usual, with a series of old school multiple man brawls rather than the quick eliminations so prevalent in modern Rumbles. Some comedy spots from Santino and Hornswoggle keeps things light, and local favourites Tommy Dreamer and Mick Foley both get massive reactions from the Madison Square Garden crowd.
But it’s in the home straight where this match really comes together. With the frequently cynical MSG audience losing their minds thanks to a twist nobody saw coming, three of the eras biggest stars go head to head. A crisp and explosive finish leads to a result that out of context seems frustratingly predictable, but for that one night worked like a charm. A perfect way to book a rumble.
Agree or disagree? What are your top Royal Rumble matches? Leave a comment to let us know!
All matches and this Sunday’s Royal Rumble can be viewed on the WWE Network, available in the UK for £9.99 per month. Visit www.wwe.com for more details.