Royal Rumble 2004
Date: January 25, 2004
Location: Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Tazz, Michael Cole, Jonathan Coachman
So another year has passed and the only real change is that Evolution is running wild on Raw. Yeah, HHH is champion again, Benoit is still having great matches but getting nowhere with them, Brock still owns the world, and the Dudleys are still the only tag team worth a thing. The levels of similarity between the two shows astounds me. Oh and Cena is now a face. Yeah that’s all I’ve got.
This really was a show that doesn’t mean much in the history of the company because nothing much happens. Shawn and HHH are going to have another classic in their endless series and Lesnar is having a match with Hardcore Holly of all people. Let that sink in for a bit before we start this up.
Naturally the opening video is about Shawn and HHH, because, you know, they’re more important than the match the show is named after. The whole thing is about roads which is fine but geez, could you be a bit more subtle next time? I didn’t really get what you were trying to talk about here.
Raw Tag Titles: Dudley Boys vs. Ric Flair/Batista
This is in the Evolution period so Flair thinks he’s a Horseman still I guess. It’s a tables match so at least we don’t have to worry about it lasting long. Evolution came in as champions here after having the belts stolen from them a month before. Oh and they’re 17 time champions here. They put Coach through a table on Raw in a pointless segment. Oh dang it they gave Batista a mic. Who thought this was a good idea at this point in his career?
The fight is on in the aisle, and I think Flair is on the verge of bleeding already. In a cool spot, Bubba is on one side of the ring and gets a table out. He slides it across the ring and it hits Batista on the floor on the other side of the ring. That was impressive. Seeing Dave with a lot of hair is just amusing. Flair is told to suck on that by Bubba which is an image I never want again. We go to a completely ranomd shot over the shoulders of the announcers. What the heck was the point of that?
The Dudleys hit that reverse neckbreaker that is always called a 3D by idiotic fans in the crowd. Shockingly, Flair is slammed off the top rope. Coach leaves for no apparent reason as Flair is about to get a 3D. He almost gets the What’s Up but Flair stops it. Batista puts D-Von through a table to end it. That was incredibly pointless.
Rating: C. It’s four and a half minutes long. How much of a rating could I actually give this thing? It was a way to give Evolution a bit more credibility as champions and that’s what it did. They lost them to RVD and Booker a few weeks later but whatever. This was fine for an opener I guess.
We go to the back and I have to take a break for a minute as Josh Matthews looks like a cross between Vanilla Ice and a gay porn star. I mean it’s just hilarious. Anyway, he’s with Cena who is a face now but he still raps. RVD interrupts him in a bizarre cameo. Cena was getting there but he wasn’t quite there yet.
We see a chair that’s reserved for Foley. This is in the middle of the angle where he was afraid of Orton and refused to fight him.
Cruiserweight Title: Rey Mysterio vs. Jamie Noble
Talk about two careers that have gone in completely opposite directions since this. Rey comes out first for no apparent reason. If Noble’s music was any more generic it would be off an American Idol winner’s CD. Oh yeah and Nidia, Noble’s girlfriend, has been blinded by Tajiri. It’s a fake, and if that surprises you I have to wonder why you’re here. Apparently Noble has been using her to help him win matches without her knowing about it.
Cole gets in the flat out stupid line of “Nidia looking on”. Cole, you are a plague upon mankind. Even Tazz calls him out for saying something stupid. How bad does that tell you he is? Nidia trips Noble “by mistake” and Rey gets a 619 and drops the dime for the win. Yeah that’s really all that happened. It’s a 3 minute match.
Rating: N/A. There’s more or less nothing here to grade so I can’t do it justice. The angle was stupid though and this is kind of insulting to the crusierweights. They give them 3 minutes for their title? Seriously, what’s the point in even having them out there? This was stupid and is a great example of why this division is considered a freaking joke.
So Chavo can’t stand Eddie because he’s jealous or something stupid like that.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.
I put Jr. because Chavo Sr. is with Chavo here. This was right before Eddie turned into the mega face and would become the most overrated wrestler in recent history. Yes Eddie was great, but you would think he was the second coming of Lou Thesz based on how much praise he got all of a sudden. He’s mad over here but still it’s annoying considering they’re still using his name in angles now.
Now in case you didn’t know that they grew up more or less as brothers, they’re going to let you know for the first time in the first two minutes. That should only be mentioned about 15 more times in the match. Oh and apparently Chavo hates Eddie now. I get that we have faces vs. heels, but this pro-Eddie stuff from Cole here is driving me insane. SHUT UP ALREADY. WE GET IT. In a funny spot, Chavo does Eddie’s dance thing and Eddie just flips him off. That was great.
Oh Eddie refuses to punch too. Chavo Sr., who is Eddie’s brother in case you can’t remember the family tree in your head, trips him to give Chavo the advantage. Since Chavo pales in the shadows of Eddie though, that lasts all of a second. Chavo steals Eddie’s sequence of moves, so Eddie follows it up by doing the exact same sequence. This allows for the frog splash to end it. That was just pointless. Eddie follows it up with a long beatdown of both Chavos to fill in some time.
Rating: C+. The wrestling here was quite good, but I still don’t get what was accomplished here. Eddie was just treading water at this point until less than a week later when he was launched into being number one contender for the Smackdown Title in a battle royal. This ended this mini feud so I guess that’s the point it served. I never liked Eddie vs. Chavo for some reason, but the wrestling was very solid.
Buy Mick Foley’s Greatest Hits and Misses. No you really should as it’s a cool set.
Benoit is in the back with Josh Matthews but Flair and Evolution interrupt him. If anyone can explain to me logically why Benoit was never made into the next big star of the Horsemen in WCW, I’ll get you a ham sandwich. They talk about Benoit being unable to win the big one, which more or less gives away the ending to the Rumble.
Since apparently I murdered a baby in a past life or something, we recap Bob Holly vs. Lesnar. It’s an even numbered year so it’s time to push him again. Holly fought Lesnar in 2002 and Lesnar messed up a powerbomb and it broke Holly’s neck. That apparently is what it takes for him to get a title shot. Holly kept jumping Brock and trying to hurt him with a full nelson. Yes, Hardcore Holly is getting a title shot at the Royal freaking Rumble. Just take me now.
Smackdown World Title: Brock Lesnar vs. Hardcore Holly
They announce Holly and that this is for the WWE Title and I expect Chimmel to just break up laughing. I mean seriously how could you keep a straight face announcing that? It’s amazing to think that Lesnar would be done with the WWE in three months. Holly jumps him before the match starts so the bell rings while Holly is waiting on Brock to get up. He misses a cross body, meaning that he was in control for all of two seconds of this match.
After that, it’s all Brock. I mean literally, four minutes have passed and Holly has been on defense since then. Tazz and Cole are really trying to make this sound like a legit match. They even say that Holly might be pound for pound the strongest guy in the company. That’s just completely stupid. Hey there’s offense! It’s a head slap and two punches and he’s down again. Also most of this is Brock with Holly on the mat in a hold.
He gets a slightly longer one here, even hitting his finisher, the Alabama Slam (think of a guy going for a sunset flip but not getting over and the guy he’s using it on grabbing his legs and slamming him back down to the mat). Naturally though he doesn’t cover but goes for the stupid submission and since that doesn’t work, the F5 ends this in like 6 minutes.
Rating: D-. This was a squash on PPV for the title. I can get the idea of having a throwaway feud that ends at the Rumble to set up the real feud at Mania, but this was just a waste of time. Serious, HARDCORE HOLLY is the best you can do? You couldn’t throw someone like Cena in there for a quick feud and title match that went 12 minutes or so? Vince loved Holly for some reason and refused to quit pushing him until he finally woke up and fired him.
We’re four matches into a six match card. The longest match so far: Eddie vs. Chavo at eight minutes and three seconds. I know I complain about PPVs being too much like a TV show but this is ridiculous.
HHH and Shawn are getting ready for their title match tonight. Of course it’s seven years in the making despite them feuding extensively since then. Basically this time Shawn had gotten a title shot in his home town and pinned HHH, but his shoulders were down too so HHH kept the belt.
That’s a great match that you should check out which I believe is on the Heartbreak and Triumph DVD. They go through the usual whining about HHH taking Shawn’s spot after the injury and I want to beat myself with a rock. This highlight package literally goes on for almost four minutes. WE GET IT.
Raw World Title: Shawn Michaels vs. HHH
This is last man standing. From the beginning of the recap package to the bell was about seven and a half minutes. Shawn is finally back to looking like a pro wrestler instead of looking like a tiny man that he was in the Elimination Chamber. What’s the deal with announcers always misusing the word literally? Monsoon said they were literally hanging from the rafters and Lawler says they’re literally beating the tar out of each other. No, not really.
Ross follows that up with a line saying that Michaels made a calculated mistake. I just shake my head and move on. In a shocking turn of events, HHH works on Shawn’s back. Lawler goes on a limb and says that Shawn’s back might be healed SIX YEARS AFTER HE HURT IT. I love how they try to make it sound like Shawn left and then HHH was a big deal the next day. In reality it took about a year for him to get to the big time and another year and the Rock before anyone took him seriously.
Shawn hooks on a figure four and Ross manages to plug the recently released Flair DVD. If anyone has ever been a better or more hardworking salesman than Vince McMahon, I want to meet them and buy something from them. We’re already seeing the problem that exists in every Last Man Standing match: the first fifteen minutes or so mean nothing.
You can go do something else while waiting on that part to end. There will be some decent spots, but it’s simply not going to end during that amount of time. We move to the let’s dodge each other’s finishers which is clichéd but fine I guess.
Shawn goes to the apron and tries a reverse springboard cross body to the floor but eats table in a good looking spot. Since it’s a big match, Shawn is bleeding. I know he emulates Flair but come on now. Hey let’s get a chair since we haven’t had enough violence so far. Naturally Shawn is up in time because we haven’t had the big face comeback yet. In case you can’t tell, I’m not thrilled by this match. It’s ok, but nothing great.
Shawn blocks a Pedigree and slingshots HHH in front of the turnbuckle so HHH can jump to hit the post. Shawn kills him with the chair for an eight or so. Both guys are bleeding. Shawn nips up and the fans are into this if nothing else. He initiates his ending sequence which is just like what Bret Hart would do even though he’s nothing like Bret Hart right?
For the life of me, if Shawn wants to hit a big kick, WHY DOES HE STOMP THE MAT WHILE THE OTHER GUY IS GETTING UP??? That’s just freaking STUPID. Oh come on now. After Shawn gets low blowed, he hooks a sleeper. While it’s psychologically a good move, it’s the best way possible to kill a crowd dead. This match has been 80% punching and chopping.
This match is going on, but all of the clichéd spots like the long double count are just getting annoying as all goodness. A Pedigree puts Shawn down again. He gets up and since he just took a big finisher he’s able to hit Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere, because you know, that’s perfectly reasonable. This leads to a double count out which gets booed out of the freaking building.
This caused Shawn to be completely ridiculous and consistently demand that he get a title shot and generally coming off like a total whiny little troll. This is why Shawn was in the Mania main event, and yes, I think it had a lot to do with HHH making sure that his buddy got to main event ANOTHER Mania and kept him from having to job to Benoit clean, but you’ve heard more than enough rants about that.
Rating: C+. This match felt like it was missing the middle part. It felt like 18 minutes of the feeling out process and then we shifted to the finish for about five minutes. The double count out thing I couldn’t stand but at least they had a plan for these two moving forward.
The problem though is that it’s just Shawn vs. HHH. This feud went on forever and while it’s a big match, it’s been done. That’s the thing: it’s just more of HHH only making his buddy look good instead of just allowing him to lay down for Benoit at Mania like he should have. It’s not bad, but once you think about it the match loses some luster.
We go to a long video package about the Rumble, mainly focusing on Benoit which completely gives away the winner. He’s number one and Goldberg is number 30. Yeah that’s about it.
Austin, Heyman and Bischoff get together. Hilarity ensues.
Brock and Goldberg look at each other. I think Goldberg wants to go get some coffee.
As mentioned, Benoit is first and Orton is number 2. Tazz and Ross are doing the commentary tonight and Orton is the IC Champion here. These two would headline Summerslam in about 7 months in a great match which led to Orton’s horribly botched face turn. GEEZ Orton looks different here as he more or less was all clean cut like some college kid. Compare that to what you see now and you’ll be amazed.
I’m not sure if I like this style of the Rumble. I like having bigger names in at the beginning, but they couldn’t have made it clearer that Benoit was winning if they put the WM 20 poster on the mat for this. I like these hard hitting people if nothing else. Henry is 3rd as I think the intervals are two minutes or so. Teddy Long is managing Henry here which means more or less nothing. After about a minute, Tajiri is 4th. I know this because there’s a graphic in the corner that says Tajiri 4th.
He and Benoit do some sweet looking technical stuff. Bradshaw is 5th and somehow he would be world champion in 6 months. He clotheslines everyone but Benoit who pulls him into a crossface. Bradshaw picks him up and tries to dump him but Benoit holds on and pulls Bradshaw out. Rhyno is 6th here as the intervals are actually staying pretty close to accurate here.
Tajiri puts Henry in the Tarantula but Rhyno gores Henry to knock Tajiri out. That’s actually pretty creative and I liked it. Benoit puts Henry out by just running into him a few times to a solid pop. It was bigger last year but we’re not going to speak of that. Oh Henry took some mist according to a replay to cause him to be in the Tarantula. Matt Hardy is seventh. We now have Benoit, Orton, Rhyno and Hardy in there. Hardy is a face here I think. Yeah he’s getting pops.
I just don’t think he means anything as a singles guy, which would date this show as sometime between 2001 and the present. The two successful singles guys and the two lesser so successful singles guys are together. In at eight is Scott Steiner who means more or less nothing at this point. He dominates for the most part with amazingly enough, more suplexes. In an amusing moment, Benoit is just like boy please and starts throwing Steiner around with them.
Ross points out something interesting by saying that no one in this Rumble has won before. Again, that’s the point of an announcer. Lines like that can do a lot as far as elevating a match. Number 9 is MATT FREAKING MORGAN! They know he’s awesome even here where he’s been around all of a few months. Even WWE bills him as 7’0 tall even though he’s about 6’8. He puts Benoit down with a huge power bomb though.
They refer to him as a rookie here so he hasn’t been around long. I know he came out of nowhere at SS 03 and then left around Mania before coming back as Carlito’s bodyguard. Hurricane is tenth. Morgan throws him out in a few seconds and he lands really badly on his leg and might be legit hurt. He almost puts out Hardy who makes a nice save.
Morgan just looks at him while he comes back in which just looks stupid. Booker is 11th and is apparently a favorite to win this? He has a bad rap version of his theme song. He and Steiner go at it and we get a WCW reference. Benoit and Morgan just sounds like a TNA dream match. Ross says that Benoit is still alive somehow. That’s a creepy line. Morgan has shrunk to 6’10 apparently but grows back to 6’11 before Kane is in at 12.
Steiner goes out off camera thanks to Booker. Morgan either has lifts in his shoes or something is weird about his height as he’s almost Kane’s size. They do a smart thing though and spin the camera angles a lot while they’re fighting though. As a recap, we have Benoit, Orton, Rhyno (who gores Hardy as I say that for his first noticeable anything in about 10 minutes), Hardy, Morgan, Booker and Kane.
Of those seven, three would be in TNA within four years. That’s either saying a lot or nothing at all and I’m not sure which. Kane is the only person up as the clock goes down to zero. The lights go out and a gong sounds. To say the crowd pops is an understatement. Kane had buried Taker alive (again) back at Survivor Series. Only in wrestling would that make perfect sense.
That had ended the biker gimmick as Taker would come back as the Dead Man at Mania to face Kane in a glorified squash match. Kane is distracted and Booker puts him out. Spike comes out as number 13 and never gets in the ring. You figure out why not. Rikishi is in at 14 after about a minute of waiting. Benoit puts out Rhyno as Rikishi gets in. Morgan gets a stink face as he must be counting the days to getting to TNA. Tazz mentions that Benoit is hanging in there, which sent a chill up my spine.
Less than 75 seconds later, Renee Dupree is number 15. He actually puts Matt Hardy out with relative ease. That’s surprising if nothing else. Rikishi puts him out a few seconds later. A-Train is in at 16 as he must be about gone from the company at this point. Yeah he would be gone in November after getting hurt in the summer. Benoit puts Morgan out. Orton puts out Booker and Rikishi in about 15 seconds. That’s not bad at all.
Benoit puts out A-Train just as Shelton gets in at number 17. A-Train goes over the ropes and to the floor, and Tazz says that he thinks A-Train is out and I shake my head. Orton puts out Shelton and we’re back to where we started out. Both are down as a guy in a fake afro comes out to introduce Ernest Miller at 18. This was one of the dumbest signings ever as Miller was barely over in WCW so he got hired here for no apparent reason.
Anyway, after dancing badly for a bit, Orton puts him out. In a very funny moment, Benoit tries to throw out Lamont, the guy that did the introduction but as he runs him to the ropes to throw him, just the hair goes off. It’s a lot better than it sounds. Angle is 19th to a HUGE pop. This is kind of a dream trip in there really. Naturally he and Benoit beat the tar out of each other.
Rico, now in his full gay stage, is 20th. Tazz sums him up in one line: you have to be as tough as Rico to wear those pants in the Royal Rumble. Rico was a guy that never got a fair shake as a wrestler. He was chained down by his gimmick and no one could ever take him seriously. If nothing else though, I’ve never heard a single bad thing about him and before and after wrestling he was a police officer in Nevada where he graduated at the top of his class both times.
Like him or not, that’s very impressive. Orton hits an RKO on him and puts him out. As Benoit and Angle beat even more tar out of each other, Test is 21st as no one cares. Main reason no one cares is he’s not here. Orton hits an RKO on Angle as we cut to the back where Test is out cold. Austin, who was sheriff or something like that at the time yells at someone we can’t see that they’re now number 21 as it was apparently the guys that did this to Test.
Austin sounds like Christian Bale from Dark Knight. It’s Mick Foley as the roof is completely gone after being blown off by his music. This was during an angle where Foley was afraid of Orton and refused to fight him on Raw back in December so he left the company. Ross says he knew Foley wasn’t a coward. The look on Orton’s face is absolutely perfect as he’s scared to death. Foley beats the living tar out of him and a Cactus Clothesline puts both of them out.
Foley beats on him even more on the floor as Christian is number 22. Oddly enough ECW is on at the moment and he’s in the main event (shocking isn’t it?). Orton is just getting killed by Foley this whole time. Scratch that he’s coming back with a SICK chair shot to Mick’s head. They fight up the entry way as they set up Rock and Foley vs. Evolution at Mania and the EPIC hardcore match at Backlash.
If you haven’t seen the Backlash match, go get Mick Foley’s Greatest Hits and Misses and check that match out. It’s a great DVD too. The final disc has four Foley matches on it where you can pick between original commentary or Foley and Joey Styles which is a cool idea. Nunzio is 23rd but he walks into Socko on the ramp. We haven’t seen anything in the ring for about a minute and a half at this point, but in this case it’s ok. The crowd is WAY into this.
Orton runs away and Foley staggers after him. Nunzio (Little Guido for you ECW fans) sits at ringside while everyone else fights in the ring. Tazz makes fun of Christian wearing pink tights. Ross says some great Canadians have worn pink tights which shuts Tazz up FAST. Big Show is in at 24. He’s finally back in normal looking tights which I couldn’t be happier about. Again, Ross says something very insightful: Yoko and Studd were both #24 when they won.
See, again, that’s something no one would ever pick up on and it offers something to think about. That’s the sign of a great announcer. Jericho is number 25. We have far too high of a Canadian to American ratio in there. Haas is in at 26th. Nunzio is still sitting outside. Jericho puts out Christian for the second year in a row apparently. Billy Gunn is 27th and is apparently returning.
Why in the world is he getting a pop? I just don’t get it. He gets a Fameasser on both Angle and Show which Ross points out is a bad idea because you have to have Show up to put him out. Ross stays on fire tonight by pointing out that number 27 has produced the most winners in history. Even Tazz says Ross is on a roll tonight.
Cena is number 28 to a solid pop. He would win his first title, the US, at Mania over Show who he’s feuding with at the moment. He puts Nunzio into the ring but gets jumped by the Italian and Show. Show slaps Nunzio on the back and Tazz says that’ll shake your ribs cheeks. Where in the world did that come from??? RVD is 29th and we know Goldberg is 30th. Cena hits the FU on Angle.
Your final grouping as Goldberg comes in: Benoit, Haas, Nunzio, Angle, Show, Jericho, Gunn, Cena, RVD and Goldberg. That’s a pretty sweet grouping when you think about it. Of the ten in there, you have four former world champions and three that would be champion in the future. That’s not bad at all. Goldberg destroys everyone in sight and throws out Haas. There goes Gunn. Nunzio is out. He sets to Jackhammer Big Show and here’s Brock to screw that up.
He nails Goldberg and then Angle throws him out during the stare down. If either guy was staying at Mania, that could have been EPIC. We’ve got six now. Show gets the Andre treatment which doesn’t work at all. Everyone keeps beating on him and then they realize they screwed up because he’s out cold and weighs 500lbs.
Ok, I get that he’s dead weight, but Angle has freakish strength and RVD holds a world record for a dead lift while doing the splits, yet five grown professional wrestlers can’t get him up? Show just goes insane and puts out Cena and RVD. Jericho shows his intelligence and gets the Walls of Jericho on Show. Show puts him out with one arm to just show off. The final three are Angle, Benoit and Show.
If nothing else they’ve saved the best guys for the ending. Angle hits an Angle Slam on Show which never stops being impressive. Benoit takes one that’s close to it but not quite. Show gets a chokeslam but Angle rolls through it into an ankle lock and Show taps again.
In an awesome looking sequence, Show is in the ankle lock and climbs up the ropes, then he kind of rolls forward over them to pull Angle out, because Angle couldn’t you know, LET GO OF HIS FREAKING LEG or something like that. Benoit rolls through a chokeslam with the most basic counter there is to it and continues his streak of being the only guy in history to consistently work on the right arm of an opponent.
Show taps again. That’s a nice bit of continuity there as all three submission guys manages to get him to tap but it means nothing. I like it though as it shows they’ve at least thought this out a bit. It’s so simply yet it ties the match together and shows that while Jericho and Angle are both great, they’re not as great as Benoit as only he gets rid of Show in the end. That’s a nice little touch and it works so well.
Show is in that thing for at least thirty seconds too so that has to hurt. Show breaks it with a similar counter to what Bradshaw did earlier. Benoit breaks the hour mark. Show, with his handlebar mustache, gets Benoit in a gorilla press but Benoit shifts into a chancers (DDT grip with the arm held also) to pull Show over the ropes and in a cool looking finish gets enough leverage to get him out.
That’s a perfect ending as Benoit didn’t use power or some contrived move. He did what he does best: got a hold on Show and used leverage to get him out. That’s textbook Benoit and it’s the only way he should have won this. The pop is great and for smarks everywhere, this was a perfect moment.
Rating: A. This was a great Rumble for multiple reasons. First of all, Benoit wasn’t focused on until the very end, which made it far less obvious that he was going to be the winner. He blended into the background, which helped him out a lot here. In the 92 Rumble where Flair more or less went wire to wire, he was the focus of the match. Here, Benoit was mentioned but it was far more casual. Second, the ending 6 or so were awesome.
There were a bunch of people there that could have won. Angle winning wouldn’t have surprised anyone I don’t think, and Show is always a legit contender in something like this. This match went very well and while it may not have been great, it was very fun. That’s the best way to describe it: fun.
Overall Rating: C+. The Rumble I the only thing here worth anything. Look back at the show and see what else you have. The tag title match is a squash, the Cruiserweight title match is 3 minutes long, Eddie vs. Chavo is ok at best, Hardcore Holly got a title shot, and Shawn and HHH had a decent but far from great match with a bad ending. Then you have a great Rumble. That’s not a lot to go on really.
The part that kills it for me is HHH and Shawn being the only other match longer than eight and a half minutes. Seriously, you couldn’t chop off 6 minutes of that and give three each to the first two matches? Overall, the show isn’t much at all, but the Rumble is great.
I won’t really recommend it as a lot of this stuff felt like it was from a 3 hour special or something. This wasn’t much, but the Benoit Rumble win is great stuff. You won’t find a better example of someone being launched into the main event than that right there. Definitely check that out, but other than that take a pass.