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Cena wins Rumble in surprise return
By DALE PLUMMER and NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling




Almost every year, the Royal Rumble entertains fans with drama surrounding the WrestleMania title shot and excitement over returning superstars. Sunday night in New York City, those two elements came together perfectly for the 21st edition of the WWEís January pay-per-view.

Triple H battled hard just to get into the Rumble match and looked to be in good shape to win it when he entered 29th. But the Madison Square Garden crowd was stunned to see John Cena enter 30th and outlast a final four that included Kane, Batista and Triple H to emerge as the winner.

The final two men from the 2007 Royal Rumble, Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, began the match together and lasted over 30 minutes. Both were eliminated within a few seconds of each other, with HBK tossing out the Dead Man before getting thrown out himself by Mr. Kennedy.

Long-time fans got a treat when WWE legends Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper headed for the ring in the 18th and 19th spots. Neither lasted long, as Kane entered 20th and quickly dispatched the veterans.

Though he spent most of his time hiding under the ring, Hornswoggle enjoyed a long run in the Rumble and even earned an elimination when he popped out and pulled The Miz to the floor. He soon found himself at the mercy of Big Daddy V and others in the ring, but old pal Finlay bailed him out, though it cost him his own place in the match because he used his shillelagh.

Cenaís surprise entrance led to a quick thinning of the crowd as he threw Carlito, Chavo Guerrero and Mark Henry out in short order. Batista took care of Mr. Kennedy and Umaga to leave just four men.

After Triple H and Batista teamed up to eliminate Kane, The Game sent The Animal packing. Triple H and Cena squared off for a spirited four minutes, with each hitting a few signature spots. Cenaís triumph came just past the 51-minute mark and seemed to draw more boos than cheers from the lively MSG fans.

In the bout preceding the Rumble match, we saw a champion take on champion. WWE champion Randy Orton and Intercontinental champion Jeff Hardy started off with some mat holds. Jeff hit the leg drop into the abdomen. Hardy tossed Orton to the outside and connected with a drop kick through the rope, knocking Orton into the security barrier.

Orton, seemingly fed up with the match, grabbed his belt. Hardy cut him off, though, and tossed him back into the ring. Orton countered a high risk move, and Hardy crashed to the outside.

With both men back in the ring, Orton turned to the Garvin stomps. The WWE champ dropped two knees, nearly scoring a pin. The fight spilled to the outside again, and Hardy connected with a forearm off the apron.

Orton avoided a charge in the corner, sending Hardy crashing into the steel ring post. Orton took advantage and locked in a body scissors. Both men traded shots until Hardy hit a Whisper in the Wind. Orton rolled out of the ring as Hardy climbed the turnbuckle. Orton was dropkicked off the apron, and then hit a splash off the top turnbuckle.

With the action back in the ring, Hardy went for the Twist of Fate but Orton countered into an RKO. Orton covered for the win and retained his WWE championship.

The next WWE pay-per-view is No Way Out on February 17th.

If you've been with us for the past few years, you know the drill by now. Nickís comments will be in plain type with Daleís remarks in italics.

Ric Flair vs. MVP -- Career Threatening Match (for Flair)

WHAT YOU THINK
What are you most looking forward to at the Royal Rumble PPV?
The Rumble itself - 44%
Jeff Hardy vs Randy Orton - 36%
Ric Flair vs MVP - 6%
Chris Jericho vs JBL - 8%
Mysterio vs Edge - 5%
Flair grabs the mic to let everyone know what an honor itís been to wrestle at MSG. MVP cuts him off with his own entrance and itís on. The chemistry between these guys seems a bit off, with a couple moves that donít quite click. Flair is a trooper though, taking some bumps -- like a superplex -- that he doesnít always take these days. MVP goes for the Playmaker, but the Nature Boy reverses it into a Figure Four and gets his opponent to tap out. I figure heís got his job until Vince wises up and puts him in an Iron Man Match, because I donít think Flair could go for 60 minutes at this point.

Winner... and still employed by WWE... Ric Flair at 7 minutes and 56 seconds.

Match Rating: 6/10

Vince talks with Hornswoggle about the luck of the Irish in Madison Square Garden. Vince tells his "son" not to trust anyone in the Rumble, even Finlay. Guess who walks in? Finlay. So Vince drills the "DTA" into his boy and tells Finlay to watch his back.

Hey, itís the guy from American Gladiators! Not the new show either -- the cheesy original. Jim Ross and King Lawler introduce their new broadcast partner, Mike Adamle.

Chris Jericho vs. John Bradshaw Layfield

JBL and Jericho tie up to start the match, and JBL is very tentative. Jericho gains the upper hand, putting the boots to him. Jericho locks on the Walls, but JBL is able to easily grab the ropes. JBL recovers to slap on a sleeper. Jericho is tossed to the outside and is busted open. JBL stomps away at Jericho, who responds with a clothesline out of the corner. Jericho then misses a bulldog, but JBL still goes down. Both men fight to the outside. JBL clears off the top of the announce table, but Jericho tattoos him with a chair, getting himself disqualified.

Winner... JBL at 9 minutes and 26 seconds.

After the bell, Jericho continues the assault with another chair shot. Jericho grabs a camera cable and chokes JBL, hanging him on the ropes. A bloody Jericho is finally escorted back by several refs.

Match Rating: 7/10 (Finishing Move: 10/10)

Ashley knocks on Mariaís door, only to be greeted by Santino Marella. He tells her Maria isnít interested in posing in Playboy.

But we are. Right, Dale?

Yes, yes, we are are!

Edge (w/ Vicky Guerrero and the Edge Heads)(champion) vs. Rey Mysterio (challenger) -- World Heavyweight Championship

WHAT YOU THINK
What did you think of the Royal Rumble PPV?
It was great - 29%
It was okay - 22%
It sucked - 14%
Didn't see it - 35%
Rey comes to the ring with a cool gladiator helmet that looks like his mask but has spikes on it. He doesnít wrestle in it though. The Edge Heads are ejected early on for trying to interfere. Edge does a lot of work on Mysterioís left knee to ground the high flier. It doesnít stop him from pulling off a cool spot where he does a face-first slide under the ropes into a DDT on the outside. Mysterio dodges a Spear and hits the 619, following with a splash from the top rope. The three count is on the way when Vicky hauls the ref out of the ring. Rey goes back to work and tries another 619, but Vicky jumps in the way and takes the impact. Mysterio is shaken, but he launches into the West Coast Pop. Edge Spears him in mid-air and covers to get the duke.

Winner... and still World Heavyweight Champion... Edge at 12 minutes and 26 seconds.

Match Rating: 7.5/10

Mr. Kennedy congratulates Flair on his win in his own special way. Kennedy tells Flair that after he wins the Rumble, he would love... but HBK interrupts before Kennedy can finish that thought. HBK gives his congratulations to the Nature Boy. Batista walks in, and then Triple H joins the party. Triple H says as far as tonight goes, the best man will win.

Michaels also tries to plug his new shirt, now available at WWE.com, but Triple H says he hates shilling. Funny stuff.

Maria comes out to host the Kiss Cam. Ashley then walks out to join her, and wants to know if she will accept Hugh Hefnerís offer to pose in Playboy. Santino interrupts with a mystery guest. Santino says no one wants to see Maria naked and rips on the New York Giants. Ashley shuts Santino up to get Mariaís answer. She puts the answer to the crowd, and they go nuts. Santino brings in his special friend to meet Ashley. Its Big Dick Johnson decked out in Patriots gear. Ashley knocks him from the ring, sending him to the back.

Randy Orton (champion) vs. Jeff Hardy (challenger) -- World Wrestling Championship Match

Winner... and still WWE champion ... Randy Orton 14 minutes and 26 seconds.

Match Rating: 7/10

Royal Rumble Match

STATISTICS

No. entered No. eliminated
1 The Undertaker 1 Santino Marella
2 Shawn Michaels 2 The Great Khali
3 Santino Marella 3 Tommy Dreamer
4 The Great Khali 4 Jamie Noble
5 Hardcore Holly 5 Chuck Palumbo
6 John Morrison 6 Hardcore Holly
7 Tommy Dreamer 7 Shelton Benjamin
8 Batista 8 Roddy Piper
9 Hornswoggle 9 Jimmy Snuka
10 Chuck Palumbo 10 Snitsky
11 Jamie Noble 11 Undertaker
12 CM Punk 12 HBK
13 Cody Rhodes 13 The Miz
14 Umaga 14 John Morrison
15 Snitsky 15 CM Punk
16 The Miz 16 Cody Rhodes
17 Shelton Benjamin 17 Big Daddy V
18 Jimmy Snuka 18 Mick Foley
19 Roddy Piper 19 Elijah Burke
20 Kane 20 Carlito
21 Carlito 21 Mark Henry
22 Mick Foley 22 Chavo Guerrero
23 Ken Kennedy 23 Kennedy
24 Big Daddy V 24 Umaga
25 Mark Henry 25 Kane
26 Chavo Guerrero 26 Batista
27 Finlay 27 Triple H
28 Elijah Burke DQ Hornswoggle
29 Triple H DQ Finlay
30 John Cena

Most Eliminations: Triple H with five and a half

Shortest time in ring: Shelton Benjamin at 12 seconds

Longest time in ring: Batista at 37 minutes and 50 seconds

Longest time in ring without an elimination: John Morrison at 30 minutes and 30 seconds

Winner... John Cena.

Happenings...

Michael Buffer must have lowered his fee, or heís really hurting for work...

Jimmy Snuka looks a little... saggy. He was my favorite wrestler as a kid, and it was cool seeing him for a minute, but I was glad he didnít stick around long.

Finlay was disqualified for using his shillelagh even though Sandman used his Kendo stick with no penalty last year.

Hornswoggle was never eliminated, he just sort of walked off to the back when Finlay was disqualified.

Total Event Time: 2 hours and 50 minutes

Event Rating: 8/10

Dale and Nick are sure to hear from plenty of people that claim they knew all along that Cena was going to show up and win the Rumble, but theyíre not buying it. If you still think you can convince them, you can e-mail Dale at DPlummer627@yahoo.com or Nick at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.