Going to try and do something a little different here, and rein myself in a little, as opposed to telling you both what you wrote - which I tend to end up doing with PPV reviews for some reason…
Really, really enjoyed the opening video. Whoever of you was behind that - pat on the back, sir. Excellent start to the show. “Climb to Immortality” is a great tag line too, btw.
Slightly surprised AJ/Benjamin didn’t kick the show off. That looked like a perfect opener to me, but Jericho/Orton works too, I guess. Orton being reluctant to engage initially played into things until his dropkick. Surprised that Jericho got in so little offence, and some of his trademark spots like the springboard dropkick and his other high flying moves weren’t used at all.
Really, outside of the titl-a-whirl, Walls and the Bulldog/Lionsault combo, plus the usual strikes … it was all Orton in terms of offence. A decent match for what it was, but felt more like a quick TV match rather than a PPV grudge match, so ultimately, something of a disappointment if I’m honest, and felt like half of a 13 minute match too.
No messing from The Berg tonight, as usual.
The Christian/Foley segment was fun. Obviously Captain Charisma has drawn a pretty shitty number, but him trying to change numbers was great. Glad there’s a few of these number drawing skits. That said, there was an undercurrent here to me, that there’s more to the Christian/Foley stuff - and an actual match between the two at WrestleMania is something I wouldn’t be surprised to see.
The early going between Benjamin and Styles was somewhat surprising. Given the athleticism between the two, I expected a lot more high flying early on, rather than the barrage of blows both men used mainly. There was a spot where Benjamin looked for a break to keep AJ off him, which was just too similar to Orton ducking Jericho in the opening match. Yeah, it’s heel tactics 101, but not two matches in a row. One of the pitfalls of two guys booking together I guess, but some more communication about what you’re both planning to do in matches on the same show would be a good idea, or some kind of editing process to work out the kinks in future.
Good to see you eventually working toward showing off the athletic ability of both men, with Benjamin learning from his earlier missed Stinger splash to land on the buckles, but then leapt into a dropkick. Thankfully Benjamin DID finally hit the Stinger Splash. You included a bunch of great near falls late on in the match, and some superb counters like that Hurricanrana into the power bomb, and AJ countering Benjamins attempt at the Styles Clash. Styles had to win this time, and thankfully he did. Still a little surprised this match didn’t open the show, it seemed primed to be perfect for that role, and after reading the match, I still feel it was perfect to kick the show off. If it was simply for symmetry of SD match, Raw match, SD match, Raw match, I don’t think having Raw, SD, SD, Raw would’ve been much of a big deal.
Couple of nice promos from Angle and Rock, though another backstage segment with people picking numbers out of the tumbler would’ve been nice too.
Intense. Angle and Goldberg didn’t disappoint in that respect. Expected Goldberg to get the better of Angle initially, rather than Angles speed helping him out in getting the upper hand, but the match took a 50/50 route of sorts to my eye, as opposed to what I expected to see with Goldberg in control for the most part. Couple of things from Goldberg didn’t really work for me, that being his ankle lock attempt, and him also taking the low road of cradling Angle and hooking the tights. Not really something I’d expect from Goldberg - even as a heel, especially when he’s a monster heel.
Again, I didn’t think the ref bump was necessary, saving Goldberg from defeat, even though he’d go on to lose anyway - and in the process tapped out in the match twice - him tapping out the first time made the eventual tap at the end mean less. It should’ve been a huge moment for Angle to make the indestructible Goldberg tap - and should’ve happened at the crescendo of the match, not mid way through. An Angle Slam for a clear three count at this stage would’ve worked better - or even still, Goldberg having a clear pin on Angle with the ref down would’ve protected The Berg and gave him an out for later in the match when he actually lost.
The steel chair did add to proceedings, and made the most of the ref bump, with The Berg bloodying Angle. If Goldberg was aware of the referee being out, then the inside cradle makes him look like a dumb ass. Not a good look for a top monster heel imo, but it fed nicely into the Spear from Bill. The finish - like I alluded to earlier - would’ve meant more had Goldberg not tapped out twice earlier in the match, and ultimately he loses a lot of steam in this match imo, even if his ankle is shattered to pieces; he still tapped out three times - but Angle looks superhuman - and the Anklelock is put over as the ultimate submission hold too.
I would say the two of you need to get on the same page though when it comes to putting the PPV events together, as this didn’t feel like a 30 minute match, especially with the match times of the two Raw matches, with the Rock/Brock match being half as long time wise, yet just a little shorter than this in reality. It’s a small thing, but it makes a big difference to be on the same wavelength in match times.
Ahhh, the Austin/Goldberg feud is ready to explode. No doubt Bill will cost Austin in the Rumble later.
The slower tempo early on with Rock and Brock was a nice change of pace. Brock obviously would overpower Rock, so it was good to see you have Rock think about it and change tact. This one seemed to take a different route, with a more physical story, and a lot of action happening out of the ring in the first half of the match, with the Samoan Drop from Rock to Brock on the outside a big spot. It felt like a dominating performance from Brock at times, with Rock really staying in the match with counters and reversals.
It really put Lesnar over as a force - without actually dominating the match, as Rock was always in the contest with his counters to everything - especially the F5 countered into Rocks fancy DDT. Always pleases me to see something that happens earlier in the match come back and play a role later on with Rock selling the earlier work on his back by Lesnar preventing him from hitting the Rock Bottom. Brock came across as a dumb ass here too, forgetting he would be DQ’ed for using the title belt. Cena proving to be the difference maker with the distraction was a shocking conclusion to the match - and sets Rock/Cena in motion for Mania. Going into WrestleMania with Lesnar as champion could be interesting, as I had this pegged to be Cena/Rock for the title at WM - and I can only imagine Lesnar will be the man to meet the Rumble winner…
Disappointing that there wasn’t any more backstage skits with people picking numbers after the Christian segment earlier in the night. Orton taking out Jeff to steal a spot in the Rumble adds another contender to the mix - and I wonder if Jericho will find a way into the match too??
Christian as the first entrant had to be expected after his earlier shenanigans. Wow. Austin being #2?? That’s big. It made the opening salvo much more interesting with the two rivals kicking off with each other, and including Tomko was smart too to add that early Stunner for a quick pop. Regal and Mercury looked like two quick fall guys, so it was a surprise that they lasted before Kennedy beefed the match up a little.
Disappointing that Noble didn’t survive too long, but Mercury was always going to be one of those guys that was there to make up the numbers. Goldberg screwing Austin that early is BIG. I expected it - but much later. Christian dumping Austin should give CC plenty to brag about on Raw. Monty in early too, though I thought he’d be one of those guys that would run through a bunch of people and eliminate them upon arrival. I’m convinced Kane has it written in his contract that he has to eliminate at least one person in the Rumble every year.
No mention from J.R or Tazz that Orton essentially stole Jeff Hardys spot in the Rumble?? Odd. Helps when you’ve got friends in high places, eh, X-Pac?? The Taker spot was pretty cool, though I’m disappointed that Monty Brown didn’t look all that impressive in the Rumble. He really could’ve with a dominant performance before the appearance from Taker. He’s just not getting the type of hype he needs for a program against The Deadman at WM.
No surprises that Carlito and X-Pac ended up being fall guys in short order. Now, Booker T is an interesting one. He’d been pushed hard on Raw coming into the Rumble, so he’s one I’m interested to see how he fares. Spinarooni early for the Booker man. Orton looking impressive too, with another elimination to his bow in London, sneakily taking him out after he got rid of Smith. You’re definitely keeping Kane strong for a reason, with a couple of eliminations here and it taking two big names to get him out too, with Edge making a big impact upon arrival.
Triple H @ #20 - sounds promising for The Game. The action really seemed to pick up upon Trips arrival, with Hardy taking his leave and the avoidance of the Spear to hit the Pedigree. Plenty of action in that two minute period. Looks like a lot of the big names got held back for these final ten spots; RVD, CM Punk, HBK, JBL and Big Show (obviously as he was already #30) and helped fill the ring in those closing stages.
The eliminations of Rhyno and Booker so soon upon their arrival shocked me, given how much you like both men. Especially Booker, after he was being pushed hard in the run up to the Rumble. I think that elimination would‘ve been better served for Christian to make rather than Triple H too, given the response his elimination would elicit from the fans. Punk dumping Haas was good too - feeding off their recent matches where Punk beat Haas twice. I liked that.
Helms, Nitro, Maven and Storm really did just make up the numbers late on and add some fodder for the big names to dump. Typical Rumble stuff. Though, in amongst it all, the elimination of RVD was particularly brutal, and continues the RVD/Edge issue with the way Edge finished Van Dam off - and the return of RVD later put the exclamation point on that issue. Kennedy gone in an instant upon Michaels arrival was a shocker - but he had a big run in the match, that hopefully doesn’t go unnoticed in the coming weeks.
Michaels and Hunter come face to face was a big deal - and was rightfully put over as such - until Edge and Christian combined to put an end to that fight before it even started. DX vs. E&C was a nice little sequence to include too. With JBL entering and eliminating Punk almost instantly, it started to get a little old. Almost every big name that entered did the same thing; enter and eliminate someone straight away. Big Show did it too, and it just felt a little shoddy for that to happen with the fresh man eliminating someone as soon as they enter.
Whoa; eight men to eliminate Show. It would’ve been a big spot for a Triple H or HBK to do it on their own, but the multiple person spot works just as good to put over the enormity of Big Show. Storm and Masters naturally would be next to go, and obviously Kennedy didn’t take too well to being eliminated by HBK earlier in the night. That’s another WrestleMania match in the making by the looks of things.
JBL was never a real contender in my eyes, so he made sense to go next, and with RVD in his future, Edge wasn’t likely to be victorious either - leaving the three contenders. Christian had an incredible performance, a star maker if ever there was one. A sixty seven minute run in the Rumble is a record - and you’d better have him run with that for all it’s worth, boasting about the length of time he lasted. Orton and Triple H as the final two is interesting, though Trips always felt like the favourite between them.
Trips vs. Angle or Trips vs. Brock should be good, provided Angle and Lesnar both hang on to their titles in the mean time. Bit disappointing not to have any genuine surprising entrants outside of the Raw and Smackdown rosters, and that’s probably all that was really missing from a very entertaining Rumble match. Some issues overall, but I’ve already written about them, so hopefully the two of you can work out the kinks before WrestleMania and get on the same page.
Trips vs. Brock or Angle
Austin vs. Goldberg
Rock vs. Cena
Christian vs. Foley (?)
Michaels vs. Kennedy
RVD vs. Edge
Has the makings for a loaded WrestleMania.