Royal Rumble 2005:
Edge vs Shawn Michaels - ***1/4
- After building this feud up from Taboo Tuesday, it finally comes to an end in this match when Edge uses the ropes to win. Nothing too great but some decent back and forth action and Edge's version of the Sharpshooter (Edgecator) is pretty cool. Thought it made him look weak, though, when two spears couldn't take HBK down. But at least Edge won so that makes up for it.
Undertaker vs Heidenreich (Casket Match) - ***
- Not as good as their SVS 04 match but still another decent bout which is surprising to an extent. I like Heidenrape's over the top selling of his fear for the casket but I thought bringing in Snitsky and Kane into this was a bit random. A cool spot was the apron legdrop into the casket which looked brutal. And speaking of Snitsky, that backstage segment with Heidenreich was even more homoerotic than WWE intended it to be, lol. And while we're talking about non-match stuff, I can't help but laugh at the way Undertaker says "Heeeeidenreeich... at the Royal Rumble.... you will rest... in... peace!" during the promo, specially the "Heidenreich" part. Reminds me of comedians that imitate horror movie villains.
JBL vs Big Show vs Kurt Angle - **3/4
- Below my expectations but still acceptable. Just too much outside interference that ruins it and it was only barely above 10 minutes. As always, JBL finds a sneaky way to escape with the title around his waist. It was also pretty cool when Big Show didn't need any slams performed on him to break the table by falling into it all himself.
Triple H vs Randy Orton - ***1/4
- This is one of their more 'accepted' matches out here and I can see why. A bit too slow with HHH working on the knees at a methodical pace then Orton sells the concussion that costs him the match after taking control towards the end. Well worked in terms of psychology. But I'm confused by the crowd. While I have noticed a few boos directed at Orton in previous Raw shows, here they even start a "Randy sucks" chant after giving him a decent pop during entrance. I guess it really was the best decision to turn him heel again, plus he's just better at playing that role.
Royal Rumble Match - ****
- Very enjoyable Rumble with some memorable spots from Angle/HBK starting their feud to the mini Raw/Smackdown showdown until Muhammad Hassan unites them in one. One person that stood out during the majority of the match to me is Edge. Here he is getting a bunch of heat before he was even in the Lita/Matt Hardy thing. But I guess it's not hard to get booed when you eliminate Eddie Guerrero & Rey Mysterio. Batista & Cena are the final two as if Vince had everything planned for his future stars and controversially, both are eliminated at the same time. According to Cena, it was not planned and Vince coming out was unscripted. When you look at how things continued later on and how fast they improvised, I find it a bit hard to believe. And the crowd was electric towards the end, both Batista & Cena had some minor boos when their hand was raised while 95% of the crowd was cheering both. I'm surprised at how over Batista got so fast when three months earlier there was a "Batista can't get over" sign that security took away. I also like how Tazz & JR show bias towards their brand which was a preview for the awesome brand feud that ended at Survivor Series. Furthermore on brands, I think it's amazing how superior Raw's roster was at this point. Smackdown is forced to bring out jobbers and irrelevant people whereas about every single Raw entrant had a purpose. Except Jonathan Coachman, that is. I have no idea why he was in this match for so long when it should've just been a quick elimination at best.
***3/4 out of ***** (A very good PPV with a great card. In the previous Royal Rumble, the gimmick match itself was the only worthwhile part of the show with a very underwhelming undercard, but this year, the whole thing is stacked with some of the company's bigger stars participating in the undercard. And as expected, the matches deliver to at least decent level and nothing is horrible.)
Edit - Didn't Benoit and HBK have a really good Raw match leading up to Mania 20?
They had two excellent matches. One in February and another for the World Title a couple of weeks after Backlash. Around early May that will be.