The boisterous crowd of over 18,000 at the Scottrade Center, in St. Louis, Missouri, welcomed spectators to the first WWE pay-per-view event of the year – the Royal Rumble. Fans eagerly anticipated the Main Event – the 30 man over-the-top-rope Royal Rumble Match. But, before that, they were treated to several intense undercard matches, two of which were for Championships. In the first contest, history was made.

For the first time in its 25 year inception, the Royal Rumble featured a Steel Cage match. It featured Daniel Bryan putting the World Heavyweight Championship on the line against The Big Show and Mark Henry in a Triple Threat Match. Mark Henry’s participation in the match was limited, because of an injury he sustained during a match against the Big Show a few days earlier, on Smackdown.

After a tough and trying battle, the champion tried climbing out of the cage to escape, but the gargantuan Big Show followed him up the structure. The two wrestlers then battled for a short time on top of the cage. Nail-biting, jaw dropping, combined with anxious anticipation, made this matchup entertaining and exciting. Bryan tried jumping to the arena floor, but Show held on to his opponent’s hand, and tried to pull him back into the ring. But, the conniving champion was able to escape his challenger’s grasp, and fell to the arena floor. As a result, Daniel Bryan, like so many times before, retained his championship. There were some fans who cheered the result. I agree with the decision to keep Daniel Bryan as champion. With his ongoing heel (bad guy) turn , it will make fans want to see him drop the title, especially before Wrestlemania. But, I hope he retains the title at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, and is able to defend it at Wrestlemania. This talented wrestler deserves a chance to defend the World Championship at the biggest event of the year.

Before the Rumble match, the WWE Championship was at stake, as the champion, C.M. Punk battled Dolph Ziggler. John Lauranitis appointed himself as the special guess referee, in the weeks leading up to this thrilling contest. However, he decided to monitor the match from the outside, and allowed one of the regular referees to officiate the action inside the ring. When the referee was knocked out of the ring, Punk applied his Anaconda Vice submission. Ziggler tapped out, but the referee didn’t see it since he was down, and Laurenitis didn’t bother to pay attention to the action inside, since he was “checking” on the referee. This action infuriated Punk. When the referee eventually recovered, the champion applied his Go to Sleep finisher on his opponent. The referee counted the pinfall, and Laurenitis slid into the ring, and counted as well, for some reason. C.M. Punk retained his WWE Championship, to the crowd’s delight. Shortly after, John handed Punk the title, and stood on the ramp to applaud the champion’s effort. John Laurenitis’ final actions were extremely confusing to Punk and the fans. Why did he do it?  It does leave the fans feeling there is some “unfinished business” between the two, which is exactly what the WWE writers wanted – to leave fans with a question mark, so they can tune in to Raw to see what happens next.

The Royal Rumble Match, is the one contest that fans look forward to all year. It provides excitement, thrilling action, and it keeps the fans wondering who will enter, and at what point. Also, in a match as unpredictable as this one, you never know who is going to win – considering that the prize is either a WWE or World title match at Wrestlemania.

The first entrant was The Miz, followed by Alex Riley. After some brief action between the former allies, the Miz eliminated his first adversary by pulling down the ropes, as Alex was about to knock out the first entrant.  As the match progressed, fans witnessed the in-ring returns of “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, and a former member of the New Age Outlaws and D-Generation X, “Road Dogg” Jesse James. Around the mid-point of the battle, the Miz believed he tossed Kofi Kingston over the top rope. But, Kingston avoided sure elimination in a very unique way. When he was tossed, he landed in a handstand position, walked on his hands, to the ring steps, and re-entered the fray – his feet never touched the floor. That, in my opinion, was an amazing display of athleticism, and it truly “wowed” those in attendance. Unfortunately for Kofi, he was eliminated after he was kicked by Sheamus, who entered at number 22.

The final four were (entry number in parentheses): Sheamus (22), the hometown favourite, Randy Orton (28) Chris Jericho (29) and The Big Show (30). Everyone went after Show, since he was the largest athlete left in the ring. Orton applied his RKO finisher move on the Big Show, and enlisted Sheamus’ help to eliminate Show. With Orton near the ropes, Jericho tossed the hometown hero over the top rope, which left Jericho and Sheamus to decide who receives an official Championship match at Wrestlemania.

The two wrestlers fought a tremendous battle. They both put their hearts and souls into the last few minutes, and truly entertained spectators. Chris avoided elimination several times, but he was finally ousted from the match when Sheamus kicked Jericho off the ring apron to earn his first ever victory in the Royal Rumble Match. The viewers were excited – they felt good for a man who has never won that type of match before. The victory would definitely do wonders for his confidence, and will give him the drive to improve for his match at Wrestlemania. I was happy as well, as I chose Sheamus to win the Rumble Match. I hope that the WWE organizes a match between the last two Rumble survivors. They performed really well with each other until that final elimination.

So, now that Sheamus won the Rumble Match, he is in a predicament. Which championship will he challenge for at Wrestlemania – The WWE Title or The World Heavyweight Title? And what’s next in the Laurenitis/Punk storyline?  I am sure fans will eagerly tune in for these answers, and a lot more on both Raw and Smackdown.

I think the WWE put on a spectacular show for their first pay-per-view of the year. The action was thrilling, and intense throughout. However, I think that every year, participants should enter the Rumble Match every thirty, forty-five or sixty seconds. I just believe with the 90 second intervals between superstars can become boring, especially if there is just one man standing in the ring after a prior elimination. But, that is just my opinion.

We are all looking forward now, to Wrestlemania 28, with the fervent hope that each match will be filled with thrilling, heart-pounding action and excitement.

Azeem Kayum

Be Sociable, Share!