Torch Flashbacks WWE ROYAL RUMBLE COUNTDOWN - 2007 PPV Review: Torch Staff Roundtable Review Flashback
Jan 30, 2010 - 5:05:25 PM
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TORCH FLASHBACK ROYAL RUMBLE PPV COUNTDOWN
2007 WWE ROYAL RUMBLE PPV
January 28, 2007
San Antonio, Tex.
Pat McNeill, Torch columnist (8.5)
If you can get past the dull ECW match and Batista's crappy performance in the Smackdown title match, then this was a hell of a show, maybe the best WWE pay-per-view in two years.
The opening tag match was very good. It wasn't exactly what the WWE faithful were looking for, at least not in the beginning, but everyone turned in a solid effort and this probably helped elevate the tag team divisions slightly from the less than exalted positions they've been used in on Raw and Smackdown. Matt and Jeff are really fluid together, and MNM could have held their own in those Crockett Mid-Atlantic tag team divisions in the late 1980's.
The Lashley-Test match stunk, but if Test brings out Honky Tonk Man as his manager Tuesday night on ECW television, I'm willing to excuse it. How exactly did that help Lashley get over? And how did we reach a point where Bob Holly is a better alternative for a main event slot than either guy in the ring. As an exciting wrestler, Batista stinks. That's probably why the crowd ended up rallying behind Kennedy. You at least got the feeling that Kennedy was putting forth an effort. If WWE is still thinking about having Batista end Undertaker's WrestleMania winning streak, it's time to reassess that decision. In fact, it's past time to reconsider Batista's status if that's the best he can do for a pay-per-view main event.
Cena and Umaga's Last Man Standing match was everything the other two title matches weren't. It was fun and energetic and well put together. WWE managed to have Umaga lose twice without killing his status as a monster heel. The bad news is that there's not a natural opponent for Umaga at WrestleMania. At least not yet. This year's Rumble match was crazy fun. WWE finally filled in one of the big logic gaps by having the no. 30 wrestler win the Royal Rumble. Also, by having a Smackdown guy win the match, it adds intrigue to the next six weeks for WWE Raw as everyone jockeys for the title match. Everyone did a fine job and the promotion made some good choices in terms of which wrestlers got showcased. The down side is that the only newcomer to really get showcased in the match was the clumsy Great Khali. Overall, a great show.
Jason Powell, Torch columnist (8.0)
A strong undercard filled with World Title matches followed by my personal favorite gimmick match. It was hard to go wrong with that lineup, but the Rumble match itself failed to live up to my expectations. I enjoyed the final battle between Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. However, everything that led up to the final four felt anticlimactic. WWE usually does a better job of letting a mid-card wrestler or two make a strong showing. In this case, I was hoping C.M. Punk, Kevin Thorn, Kenny Dykstra, or even MVP would be showcased. Instead, the usual suspects were spotlighted; no one else really stood out, nor did any additional storylines come out of the Rumble match. Heck, they didn't even bother to come up with an intriguing combination for the opening 90 seconds between the wrestlers who picked one and two. Overall, though, this was a strong pay-per-view that looked good on paper and delivered for the most part.
Notes: John Cena and Umaga delivered the match of the night. It was a great brawl that made Cena look like a million bucks without doing any damage to Umaga's monster heel credibility. This match was as entertaining as any Cena has been involved in. Honestly, I enjoyed the Cena vs. Umaga match much more than than the Iron Man match between Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe from the last TNA pay-per-view… From a logic standpoint, it would have made more sense if Cena had taken the top rope down. It looked silly for Armando Estrada to go through all the trouble of taking the top rope down when he simply could have handed Umaga the wrench to use as a weapon… I'm ready for a Mr. Kennedy title reign. I knew there was no way he was going to win the belt tonight given the highly publicized plans for Batista vs. Undertaker, but I hope Kennedy gets a run with the title shortly after WrestleMania. Smackdown is overflowing with babyface acts, whereas Kennedy is probably the only heel who hasn't been fed to Batista and Taker one too many times… The finish of the Bobby Lashley vs. Test match was pathetic. Why bother putting that match on the show if the powers that be weren't going to spend more than a minute coming up with a finish?... Good opening tag match. I don't want to jinx him, but I'm pleasantly surprised that Jeff Hardy's return has lasted this long and has been so successful… I was really hoping to hear Jim Ross and JBL call the Rumble match. Michael Cole is no more than serviceable at best and Jerry Lawler is my third favorite color commentator in WWE these days… The live crowd was excited to see Sandman and they were just waiting for him to give them something to cheer about, but WWE was more concerned with burying him than pleasing the crowd. I'm not saying he should have been featured as a major player, but it would have energized the fans had he been allowed to deliver a few more crowd-pleasing cane shots before his elimination…
Sean Radican, Torch columnist (6.0)
The John Cena vs. Umaga match, along with the excellent Royal Rumble match itself almost made me forget what was a terrible undercard. The Hardy's vs. MNM contest didn't deliver a great match, it was just there, but then again creative screwed up a softball and rushed Joey Mercury back to the ring for a match that I forgot about by the end of the PPV. The ECW and World Championship matches were both absolutely horrible. I had to chuckle to myself when I saw Lashley's entrance video in the background with "soft spoken" written in the corner of an image of him in the ring. WWE ought to thank their lucky stars John Cena has turned into such a dramatic and versatile performer, as all his talents were on display in what turned out to be a surprisingly excellent Last Man Standing match against Umaga. Umaga doesn't suffer much from the loss, as Cena struggled to put him away.
Other thoughts: I guess Sandman is screwed, and so is Sabu, and so is Tommy Dreamer, and so is everyone thrown out of the ring by the Great Khali. How did MVP escape getting tossed by Khali anyway?... The backstage skits were really funny tonight. Everything from Ron Simmons's trademark "Damn" to Ric Flair dancing with the disposable girls was well done... I guess Vince McMahon finally got around to reading JR's BLOG's. Removing J.R. from the announce table during the Rumble match shows what an asshole McMahon really is to anyone that may have had some doubts... Michaels and Taker had one hell of a confrontation during the final moments of the Rumble. It's too bad they did all of that to set up Taker with a uninspired and terrible performer at WrestleMania. WWE needs to get the World Title off Batista as soon as possible... I give this show a slight thumbs up. If you can wait, buy the DVD, but if you really enjoy Royal Rumble matches, purchase a replay...
Bruce Mitchell, Torch columnist (5.0)
This was a lackluster Rumble, as these things go. The Rumble itself was pretty dull, with guys just hanging on until Khali arrived to clear the room for the Undertaker. The showdown in the last ten minutes between Shawn Michaels and Undertaker was nothing special and it something about Vince McMahon's faith in the next generation of Superstars, even Team RKO, that WWE went back to the tried and true. Even between the two veterans left at the end I'd say the wrong guy won. You can get to Undertaker-Batista just by having The Dead Man make a challenge, but Michaels has real momentum from the last two weeks so why not feed it even more? Michael Cole's audition in this match for the top announcer spot was interesting. The ECW exile just figured.
John Cena vs Umaga was okay. I liked how all the spots were actually less dangerous than they seemed, particularly Umaga's dive through the ECW announce table. Still, I wouldn't call it a good wrestling match or fight. Batista continues to be terrible. No one in WWE Creative is watching TNA pay-per-views so both companies coming up with the "Who cares? Screw It" finish in one month says something about the head in the sand state of the companies. Why doesn't Matt Hardy just punch Joey Mercury in the face?
James Caldwell, Torch columnist (7.0)
Set aside the abysmal Lashley-Test match and this might have been an 8.0 show. With a strong Rumble match, a very good WWE main event style match between Cena and Umaga, and a surprising performance by Mr. Kennedy against Batista, this was a good night for WWE. It will be difficult for anyone to best the final eight minutes between HBK and Undertaker and the final ten minutes of Cena-Umaga on PPV this year. Inside the arena, those sequences provided great drama and action. Umaga is a star in the making and Cena has this style of wrestling mastered. I don't believe WWE is done with Umaga in Raw main events going forward. I certainly hope they have a follow-up plan for Umaga if this is the end of his feud with Cena.
The crowd was clearly behind Shawn Michaels when it came down to him vs. Undertaker, but no one was disappointed with Taker winning ... Mr. Kennedy surprised me tonight. I thought he was ready for the belt tonight because he won over the live crowd and he stepped up his game more than I've ever seen from him. Normally, when he works on an opponent's body part, I'm looking for the remote. With this match, he mixed up his offensive attack and kept the match interesting ... Lashley-Test was difficult to watch. Lashley doesn't work well with similar sized wrestlers ... The opening match was a good start to the show with the Hardys serving their purpose of getting the crowd amped for the show ...
Wade Keller, Torch editor (7.5)
The first 45 minutes of the Royal Rumble was pedestrian. There were no star-making moments. Everything that happened seemed relatively interchangeable. Novel match-ups, such as Ric Flair and Finlay, weren't played up. C.M. Punk types weren't talked about as dark horses with a chance to win with as much fervor as in the past. It was a waiting game - for Orton, Michaels, and Taker in particular. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. And Rumble's should be great.
Then came the final 15 minutes, and that was great. The Great Khali eliminations were rapid-fire and helped boost him from sideshow freak here for a cup of coffee into someone WWE is serious about getting more out of. The Edge and Orton beatdown of Undertaker after Michaels rolled out of the ring was well done. Then Taker vs. Michaels for nearly 10 minutes was the best ten minutes of the night and the best ten minutes either wrestler has had inside the ring in a long time - dating back for Taker to his matches a year ago against Kurt Angle. Classic, memorable finishing 15 minutes.
WWE is to be commended. Michaels vs. Undertaker, which hasn't been seen in nearly a decade, was given away without prior advertising. They could have gotten away with two minutes of them against each other, saving a full-fledged battle going so far as to include them reversing or escaping each others finishers, for a PPV headline match. Instead, one of the few "dream matches" between icons that both exists as a possibility and hasn't been fully exploited in recent years, was given away in the Rumble. Normally, that might be considered bad business. In this case, it was smart because there probably isn't one fan who watched that who (a) isn't happy he bought the Rumble; and (b) isn't willing to pay to see more of Michaels vs. Taker.
Now, the Taker-Batista hype begins for WrestleMania, while Raw will have to work it out. Will it be Cena vs. Michaels? Will it be Cena vs. Orton & Edge, while Michaels goes on to another showcase match? Or will all four be thrown in there in a four-way title match? Or something else. Fans will wonder all of that, and Raw will likely tease and prod fans for a few dramatic weeks before focusing on the official match.
John Cena and Umaga each had one of their better matches ever against anyone. It was brutal looking without being ridiculously dangerous or gratuitous. The facial expressions, the selling, the feeling they were both really fighting and really trying to win, made this as really good main event - borderline four stars. The choke-out with the top rope may be a first, and the double-table run onto a third table with a splash was a first.
The opening tag was okay, but they should be able to do better than that with 18 minutes to work in. The other two title matches were bad. The finish of Lashley vs. Test took a one-star match down a notch. The Batista vs. Kennedy match should be one of the final strikes against Batista being the primary centerpiece of that brand's title matches. He's bad and getting worse. Actually, he had worse matches before, but credit goes to Kennedy and the producers for keeping Batista out of bad situations. Batista was there to sell a leg injury throughout the match, so anything clutsy he did could be blamed on his bum leg.
Overall, recommended show, but you can speed through everything until Umaga vs. Cena if you want, and you could even skip the first 40 minutes of the Rumble if your time is tight, and you'd see get your money's worth and feel safe having seen everything historically significant about this event.
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