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We are LIVE at the McNeill North American Command Center for this on-demand blog of Royal Rumble 2016 on the WWE Network.
How does one work a 14-hour shift, then deliver a coherent running dialogue of a WWE pay-per-view? I don’t know, and I doubt we’ll find out tonight.
As much as I enjoy the Kickoff shows, I’m going to skip ahead to the actual match. I’m funny that way. Your announcers are Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton. No, I don’t spend as much time with Saxton as I do with Mrs. McNeill. When we hit that point, it’ll be time to call the marriage counselor and the people in the freshly-starched white coats.
Damien Sandow gets the Hallelujah Chorus entrance, and the crowd loves it. Either that, or they think Easter has come early.
It’s Them Darn Dudleys vs. The Ascension vs. Swagger & Henry vs. Sandow & Young. Winners are in the Royal Rumble, where Roman Reigns will eliminate them in short order. We invite you to join the Rumble conversation via social media by using the hashtag #PatIsStillAvoidingSpoilers. I see some of the Impact Zone regulars got premium seats for tonight’s show.
Cole introduces the Real Strong Americans by saying “For those of you who have been watching WWE Main Event.” The crowd, of course, is chanting for Chad Gable. Swagger is tagged in. Cue JBL with the Oklahoma jokes. All eight guys hit the ring, which means we’re going to commercial.
Camp WWE is on its way. I hope Wade’s assigned that recap to…anyone else. Saxton points out that D-Von has never worked the Rumble match before. Pretty sure The Ascension hasn’t done it either. The Orlando crowd is watching something other than the match.
“What if Roman Reigns gets eliminated in the first two minutes of the Rumble?” I’d probably be paying closer attention at that point. Bubba hits the 3D but Swagger makes the save and Henry pins the Ascension guy. I’m one for one! Swagger and Henry eye each other warily.
Jerry Lawler is also one-for-one. Nice to know somebody reads my preview. Rich Brennan is in the Social Media Lounge with the Social Outcasts. I presume the newest member of the Social Outcasts is Tom Phillips. Bo Dallas appears to be the peacemaker in this group. Are all four of these guys in the Rumble? How did that get past Mr. McMahon?
Back to the panel, where Lawler is field testing some jokes from the nineties. I trust no one will mind if I jump to the pay-per-view?
Then. Now. Forever. Limo. The show opens with the arrival of Mr. McMahon and his daughter. Vince remembers JoJo’s name. The McMahons talk about the great opportunity Roman has tonight. “It’s not nice to make fun of JoJo, dad.”
“Fate twists its cruel hand.” That’s a bit much, voiceover guy. I’ve had a long day. Roman Reigns is “an empire of one” fighting “against tyranny.” In other words, he’s G.I. Joe. We get actual pyro to kick off the program as “Soundtrack To A Big Budget Movie” plays. And we kick things off with Ambrose versus Owens in a Last Man Standing match.
The champion comes to the ring first. JBL calls Ambrose “our resident lunatic.” Mr. McMahon isn’t a resident? Cole introduces the Spanish, French, Esperanto, and Klingon announce teams. Little Naitch is your referee.
We go straight to the punch-kick stuff. Owens throws the first chops. They manage to make this look stiff and not particularly cooperative. Ambrose sends Owens over the announce table into Michael Cole. Owens broke Cole’s glasses. Dean grabs the kendo stick from under the ring and goes to town.
If somebody can get Cole over to LensCrafters, he’ll made it back to the arena in time for the main event (maybe).
Cannonball by Owens nearly ends this match early. Owens breaks the kendo stick and tries to jab it into Ambrose. The crowd loves it. Owens finds a “toy,” a steel chair. And another and another. All Dean brought was a clothesline. Ambrose back bodydrops Owens onto two sitting chairs. That looked painfall.
Ambrose called Owens a “bear” on Smackdown. I’m guessing Owens had a look in the Urban Dictionary and took offense for some reason. Also, you don’t want to know what “bear trap” means. Dean barely survives multiple collisions with the steel steps. A few tables and chairs later, Ambrose finally hits his finisher, and Owens gets up at the eight count. Second time, this time on a chair. Owens rolls out to the floor. Good one. Ambrose puts Owens through a table. Nope. Nice bit of work, turning Owens babyface like this.
Kev needs some offense. He hits the package powerbomb. Nope. Ambrose finally sends Owens over the top rope through two tables for the finish. That was great. Unless you’re a fan of wrestlers not getting injured.
Another commercial for non-wrestling programs on WWE Network. Can’t wait.
The tag titles are next. It’s The New Day vs. The Usos. We get a eulogy for Francesca the Trombone, who regularly got more promo time than the United States champion. Then the champs celebrate their new trombone and shake their rooty tooty booties. They are All Gold Everything. I wonder who that’s a shot at?
This is a basic three-on-two handicap match, and nobody’s complaining. Look, I enjoy some wacky antics, but the cheating champs are the ones with the audience. Plus, the Usos are talented and charismatic enough to be more than foils for the Kings of Brony Comedy. Big E. wins it for his gang with the Big Ending after a blind tag. It was all right. Two for three.
Seth Rollins has gone samurai. Again. And WWE 24 presents the epic tale of Sting’s first WrestleMania, minus the part where his old WCW buddies sit around backstage and laugh at Sting having to put over Hunter.
Backstage, Bray Wyatt and his sheeple compare themselves to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Yeah, that’s been done. Bray wants to sell you insurance or something. Maybe Sister Abigail is really Flo from the Progressive commercials.
Up next, it’s Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto for the United States Title. Let us take you back to Smackdown, where the League bullied Kalisto and nobody came to help him.
JBL once again calls Del Rio “Mexico’s greatest export.” Ironically, if Donald Trump becomes President, America’s greatest export will be Del Rio.
This match is about Del Rio taking charge, then getting too cute and letting the challenger back into the match. It’s also about Kalisto botching his Code Red move. Kalisto does hit the Salida Del Sol to win the title back. Wow. For Del Rio’s sake, I hope he reallyis making seven figures.
Over to the All-Star Panel. Booker takes credit for bringing the U.S. Title to WWE. Really? Because I was sure Shane McMahon did that. They show the pre-show tag match again. Mark Henry and Jack Swagger win again.
Paul Heyman and Stephanie McMahon meet up backstage and reminisce about old times. Okay, maybe they did that part off-camera.
Coming soon to the WWE Network, Adam Copeland welcomes us to the end of his career.
Charlotte battles Becky Lynch for the Divas Title. Jerry Lawler isn’t around to remind us how all women hate each other. But the writers have it covered.
This match is all corsets and sequins and righteous indignation. Yes, Charlotte actually hides her dad. And Ric actually steals a kiss from Becky Lynch. JBL compares Charlotte to a few female athletes, but forgets to mention Ronda Rousey this time.
Becky has the match won when Slick Ric throws his killer jacket at Becky. Charlotte spears Becky for the win off the distraction. I remember the old days, where the jacket would have had to take an elbow drop from the Nature Boy. The jacket got off easy tonight. Charlotte beats up the Lass Kicker? Who will save us from the Flair Dynasty?
Cue Sasha Banks’s music. Cue the shocking swerve, when Sasha helps her pal beat up Becky. Cue the other shocking swerve, where Sasha jumps Charlotte from behind and applies the Bank Statement. Team B.A.D. all the way! The real winners of the Divas Revolution so far are the hair dye manufacturers.
WrestleMania season begins now, with our first serious WrestleMania 32 ad. Big Show threw a huge Chex Mix party at the Performance Center.
Over the years, 811 wrestlers have been eliminated from the Rum…Okay, 810 wrestlers and Curtis Axel, who is still in from the 2015 Rumble. Now let’s see who drew Number One in this year…Right. Forgot where I was for a moment. Did I mention I’m tired?
Byron Saxton says that Reigns has to be “comfortably numb” to survive this match. I’m sure someone backstage has some chloroform he can borrow.
Cole draws the duty of explaining why Roman Reigns is going to get booed. Reigns and Rusev start things off. We have a Lana sighting! Out goes Rusev.
Number 3 is FREAKING A.J. STYLES. Not crazy about the new music, but it’s A.J. Styles! The Phenomenal One gets a standing ovation. They tease their finishers. Number 4 is Tyler Breeze. A sign in the crowd syas “Push Tyler Breeze.”
Reigns and Styles push Tyler Breeze, over the top rope and out to the floor.
Number 5 is Curtis Axel. This year, Axel makes it into the ring. Reigns eliminates Slater & Rose. Styles eliminates Dallas and Axel. Only one of those eliminations actually counts.
Number 6 is Chris Jericho. He teases going after Styles, and punches Reigns instead. Number 7 is Kane. Kane and Jericho have something in common. Neither one of them ever wins the Rumble. Kane tries to toss Jericho. Jericho takes the slowest bump this side of Mae Young before going back under the bottom rope.
Number 8 is surprise entrant Goldust. Grab a corner. And a Snickers bar. Number 9 is Ryback. Ryback yells “Feed me more,” but none of the other wrestlers feed him. Number 10 is Unicorn Commander Kofi Kingston. Styles takes a backdrop from Ryback. The man is paying his dues.
Titus O’Neil is Number 11. As a reward for being Father of the Year, O’Neil eliminates Goldust.
“I’m Entrant Number 12. The ring is right there. I’ll be back in a minute, so nobody take my chair! What’s up? (What’s up!)”
Kofi goes over the top, lands on Big E., and gets a piggyback ride back to the ring. That’s a lot simpler than the way I booked it.
Luke Harper is Number 13. Mr. McMahon and the League of Nations enter through the crowd, drag Reigns under the bottom rope, and beat up the champ outside the ring. Hey, great minds think alike.
Number 14 is Stardust. Pay no attention to the men putting Roman Reigns through the Spanish announce table. Mr. McMahon gets hugs from Rusev, Sheamus and Del Rio. That’s right. Vince is a hugger.
Number 15 is Big Show. Out goes Titus O’Neil. Out goes Ryback. Reigns refuses a ride on the stretcher but gets helped to the back. So he’s out, but hasn’t been eliminated yet.
Neville is Number 16. Jericho finally eliminates Kofi Kingston. Bruan Strowman is in at Number 17. He eliminates Kane. That was unexpected. Strowman faces off with Big Show. If Show is 7 feet tall, Braun is 6 foot 10. Strowman eliminates Big Show.
Kevin Owens is Number 18, selling the whole way down the aisle. Limp, Owens, Limp! Owens, Styles, and Neville give us a quick triple threat match before Kevin eliminates the Phenomenal One. Styles gets another standing ovation (and chant) on his way out. Styles vs. Owens? I think we can pencil in another WrestleMania bout.
Dean Ambrose is Number 19. The crowd is deflated by A.J.’s departure. Sami Zayn is Number 20. The crowd is back. Sami tosses Owens before the crowd can finish its first “Ole, Ole” chant.
Erick Rowan is Number 21. It’s a regular Wyattpalooza out there. They join forces to eliminate Neville and Stardust.
Mark Henry is Number 22., with at least three more big men still on deck. They’ll need to show up soon, because Henry gets dumped by the Fam in short order. Out goes Sami Zayn. Ambrose and Jericho are in a handicap match, and they’re losing.
Brock Lesnar is Number 23. That gives away who’s arriving at Number 24. Lesnar actually gets to knock Strowman down. The Beast eliminates Rowan.
Jack Swagger is Number 24. I was wrong. Lesnar gives Jack an F5 and eliminates him. I’m okay with being wrong. Lesnar stands over a fallen Jericho, then sees Strowman get up and changes direction. Nice touch.
The Miz is Number 25. He sees Brock Lesnar waiting for him, and goes over to join the announce team. Well done. Lesnar eliminates Luke Harper instead.
Number 26 is former Rumble winner Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio and Ambrose join forces to attack Lesnar. That doesn’t work so well. Lesnar needs a few clotheslines to eliminate Braun Strowman, but he does.
Bray Wyatt is Number 27. The Wyatts surround Lesnar. Lesnar beats up all the underlings again and hosists Bray for the F5. Nope. Back in for another four on one. The Wyatts eliminate Lesnar together.
(Again, what a great idea!)
We’re down to Ambrose, Del Rio, Miz, Jericho, Bray Wyatt, and Number 28, who is Dolph Ziggler. Miz finally enters the match, but is unable to get Dolph over the top rope.
Sheamus is Number 29, but Reigns attacks the Pale Rider from behind and beats him down. Reigns is back in the Rumble. Roman eliminates The Miz. And Del Rio. Bray stops the champ from cleaning house.
Number 30 is Triple H. You were expecting Santino Marella?
Hunter takes his time, figuring surely someone can recover to help him out. Dolph and Bray try to get between them. They are brushed aside. Roman gets the advantage, but Sheamus saves Triple H. We get a quick round of Everyone Hits A Finisher before Hunter eliminates Ziggler. Bray and Hunter have a staredown before Bray throws the first punch. Sheamus saves Hunter again. Hunter and Sheamus eliminate Bray.
Then, we have our shining moment. After all these years, Chris Jericho finally catches Triple H by surprise. Y2J hits his signature move, The Codebreaker, and takes down the Cerebral Assassin. Jericho takes a moment to celebrate with the crowd.
The moment ends when Dean Ambrose grabs Jericho and sends the 25-year veteran out over the top rope. We are down to four.
Sheamus misses the Brogue kick and teeters over the top rope, where Reigns hits him with a Superman Punch. Sheamus is eliminated. Then Hunter eliminates Reigns for the biggest pop of the night.
We’re down to Triple H and Dean Ambrose. I wonder who’s going to win? Ambrose gets the advantage, but Hunter hits the knee and…yeah. Triple H is champion again! Who ever would have predicted that?
Triple H is going to WrestleMania. Assuming, of course that he retains the WWE Title from now until Apr…
Screw it, I’m going to sleep now.
Pat McNeill of Greenville, South Carolina has been a PWTorch Columnist since 2001. Listen to him as the host of Wednesday’s PWTorch Livecast!