|Alberto del Rio believes he has won the Royal Rumble, but he would still have to eliminate Santino Marella. Photos by Bruno Silveira, www.topropephotography.net
When it was first announced that the field for the 2011 Royal Rumble was going to be expanded from 30 to 40 participants, reactions from fans were mixed. Some welcomed the change and the possibilities it brought, while others snickered and wondered if there were even enough wrestlers on the roster to add 10 men to the event's showcase match.
Fans at the TD Garden in Boston found out Sunday night that an expanded Rumble wasn't too much of a good thing. With only three other matches on the card, wrestling's most famous battle royal took even more than its usual share of the spotlight, resulting in an entertaining if not spectacular show. The number of surprise entrants was few, but the Rumble held off on its biggest twist until the very end.
The simmering tension between the current version of Nexus and its former members in the Corre threatened to derail the main event before it even started. Nexus leader CM Punk was the first man announced for the Rumble match, but he was quickly joined by every man from both factions. The anonymous Raw general manager had to act through Michael Cole to end the resulting melee, threatening everyone but Punk with ejection from the Rumble if they did not return to the back.
It hardly mattered for Punk, who was joined by three of his troops within the first 15 entrants. Nexus systematically eliminated a series of opponents, often leaving them with spare time before the next man came down the ramp.
The Great Khali finally chipped into Nexus' dominance by tossing out Husky Harris, but their numbers were restored when Mason Ryan entered next. It wasn't until the arrival of John Cena, entering 22nd, that Punk and company took some real losses.
Cena made good on his promise to rid the Rumble of Nexus, throwing out the entire stable in fairly short order. He also laughed it up during the comedic portion of the match when he was joined by Hornswoggle, who stayed in the match long enough to do his impressions of several wrestlers' signature moves.
Rumored returnee Booker T lasted only about 90 seconds after entering 21st. Diesel fared a bit better, sticking around for over three minutes and getting enough love from the Boston fans to hear his name chanted.
Things turned more serious late in the match with numerous former champions among the last dozen men to enter. The historic 40th spot was reserved for Kane, who appeared in his 13th consecutive Rumble but couldn't overtake Shawn Michaels' record for career eliminations.
A solid final four emerged, consisting of Cena, Randy Orton, Wade Barrett and Alberto Del Rio. The first swerve came when Cena was the first of those four to exit, eliminated by The Miz after he snuck in from the announce table to dump one of the heavy favorites out to the floor.
With Orton unsuccessful in his attempt to dethrone Miz earlier in the show, he seemed a good bet to win the Rumble. Yet the WWE pulled out a refreshing bit of booking by having Del Rio toss out both Orton and Barrett, seemingly sending the relative newcomer on to a main event slot at WrestleMania.
There was one more surprise in store: Santino Marella, who had been thrown under the ropes and was out on the floor for what seemed like ages, returned as Del Rio was celebrating. Santino connected with the Cobra and hustled Del Rio over to the ropes for what would have been a colossal upset.
But Del Rio pulled the top rope down and pivoted so Marella flew out to the floor. Setting conventional logic on its head, the former masked Mexican wrestling champion got to celebrate by pointing at the WrestleMania sign amidst the show-ending pyro.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Elimination Chamber on February 20th.
As always, Nick's comments will appear in plain type while Dale's thoughts appear in italics. Dale lost a coin toss for this privilege ages ago and the matter has never been revisited.
Dolph Ziggler (challenger) vs. Edge (champion) -- World Heavyweight Title Match
The ref's counting arm stays busy, as there are about a dozen near falls in the first ten minutes of action. The announcers are quick to remind us that Vickie Guerrero has outlawed the Spear, so I don't know how Edge is going to win this match. Please note sarcasm. It does actually become an issue after Edge has Ziggler set up perfectly in one corner but can't use his go-to move. He settles on an Impaler, but Guerrero hauls the ref out of the ring while making the count. Vickie slaps Edge when confronted, but the champ senses Ziggler trying to take advantage and rolls him up for a near fall. More hijinks ensue between Edge and Vickie until Kelly Kelly hauls Guerrero off the apron and takes her out. Ziggler hits the Zig Zag but can't put Edge away. Dolph jumps on Edge's back to lock in a sleeper, and the ref takes a bump while the champ struggles to free himself. Guerrero is still down on the outside, so Edge decides it's safe to nail Ziggler with a Spear. He follows with an Unprettier to retain his belt. That was quite an entertaining match, perhaps the best I've seen from Ziggler thus far.
Winner... and still World Heavyweight champion... Edge at 20 minutes and 36 seconds.
Match Rating: 8/10
The Miz talks about how he is a champion, and he will go on to WrestleMania as WWE champion.
Because, you know, he's awesome or something. Also he's got Michael Cole on his side in a development that grows more tiresome with every passing week.
Randy Orton (challenger) vs. The Miz w/ Alex Riley (champion) -- WWE Title Match
The Miz wobbles on the corner turnbuckle from Randy Orton's punches.
Randy Orton tosses the champ from the ring to start the match. He beats Miz into the corner and whips him across the ring. Alex Riley gets in a cheap shot with the ref distracted, allowing the champ to get the upper hand. Orton explodes out of the corner with a clothesline. Miz knocks Orton to his knees, working him over with punches. Miz lays Orton across the apron, connecting with a running knee. The champ locks in a sleeper; Orton tries to reverse. Orton hits a superplex and follows with a back breaker. Miz knocks Orton from the ring, and Riley gets some shots in on the floor. Miz catapults Orton head first into the ring post. Miz scampers back into the ring, awaiting the ten count. Orton beats the count and clotheslines the Miz. Orton stomps away at the champ, following with a driving knee to the head. Riley distracts the ref and Orton, allowing Miz to hit the backbreaker/neckbreaker combo. Orton ducks a big boot and rolls up the Miz. The champ kicks out but gets hit with the elevated DDT. The Nexus walks to the ring, but Orton is able to take out Alex Riley sneaking into the ring. Miz goes for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Orton counters with the DDT. Before he can cover, CM Punk runs in, hitting Orton with the GTS. He pulls Miz onto Orton, and the champ gets the pin.
WHAT YOU THINK
What did you think of the Royal Rumble?
It was great - 23%
It was okay - 28%
It sucked - 18%
Didn't see it - 31%
Winner... and still WWE Champion... The Miz at 19 minutes and 48 seconds.
Match Rating: 5/10
In an amusing development, Todd Grisham reads a prepared statement from "Dashing" Cody Rhodes. It seems Cody is unable to compete because he is nursing a crushed face as the result of Rey Mysterio's recent actions. He's upset because Rey didn't apologize or even reach out to see if his face was okay. Funny stuff, and Grisham deserves a larger PPV bonus for delivering all of it with a straight face.
Michelle McCool and Layla (challengers) vs. Natalya (champion) -- Handicap Divas Title Match
Before the match the Raw GM chimes in with an email. He changes the match to a fatal four-way. The fourth Diva is Eve.
Natalya can't believe that Eve is the new Divas Champion.
I'm trying to decide if there was anyone who could have been more underwhelming as the fourth contestant. Nope, I don't think so.
Michelle McCool (challenger) vs. Layla (challenger) vs. Eve (challenger) vs. Natalya (champion) -- Fatal Four-Way Divas Title Match
Natalya tries to lock in the Sharpshooter on Layla and Eve at the same time, but McCool breaks up the attempt. Eve pins Layla while McCool pins Natalya. But the ref only sees Eve's pinfall, and she gets the win.
Winner... and new Divas Champion... Eve at 5 minutes and 9 seconds.
Match Rating: 3/10
Josh Mathews asks Daniel Bryan about the possibility of winning the Royal Rumble. Bryan says that would be pretty cool, but he's cut off when the Bellas interrupt and they want to apologize for Monday. After some backhanded compliments toward Bryan and Gail Kim, all heck breaks loose. Officials finally regain some sense of decorum.
I'm sure I'm not alone in my outrage over the insinuations that Kim is homely in some way. She is hot, and the fact that she can really wrestle (if they'd let her) just makes her hotter in my opinion.
The Royal Rumble
CM Punk is the first superstar out, and he is followed by Wade Barrett and the Corre. Nexus quickly comes to their leader's aid. Both factions brawl before order is restored by an email from the GM. He orders everyone but Punk back to the locker room under penalty of expulsion from the Rumble if they disobey.
Royal Rumble Stats
Winner of the Royal Rumble: Alberto Del Rio
| No. entered || No. eliminated |
| 1 CM Punk || 1 Justin Gabriel |
| 2 Daniel Bryan || 2 Zach Ryder|
| 3 Justin Gabriel || 3 William Regal |
| 4 Zach Ryder || 4 Chavo Guerrero |
| 5 William Regal || 5 Yoshi Tatsu |
| 6 Ted DiBiase || 6 JTG |
| 7 John Morrison || 7 Ted DiBiase |
| 8 Yoshi Tatsu || 8 Daniel Bryan |
| 9 Husky Harris || 9 Chris Masters |
| 10 Chavo Guerrero || 10 John Morrison|
| 11 Mark Henry || 11 Mark Henry |
| 12 JTG || 12 Tyler Reks |
| 13 Mike McGillicutty ||13 Vladimir Kozlov |
| 14 Chris Masters || 14 R-Truth |
| 15 David Otunga || 15 Husky Harris |
| 16 Tyler Reks || 16 The Great Khali |
| 17 Vladimir Kozlov ||17 Booker T |
| 18 R-Truth || 18 Mason Ryan|
| 19 The Great Khali ||19 David Otunga|
| 20 Mason Ryan || 20 Mike McGillicutty |
| 21 Booker T ||21 CM Punk |
| 22 John Cena || 22 Tyson Kidd |
| 23 Hornswoggle || 23 Heath Slater |
| 24 Tyson Kidd || 24 Hornswoggle |
| 25 Heath Slater || 25 Jack Swagger |
| 26 Kofi Kingston || 26 Diesel|
| 27 Jack Swagger || 27 Dolph Ziggler |
| 28 King Sheamus || 28 Drew McIntyre |
| 29 Rey Mysterio || 29 Big Show |
| 30 Wade Barrett || 30 Kofi Kingston |
| 31 Dolph Ziggler || 31 Sheamus |
| 32 Diesel || 32 Ezekiel Jackson |
| 33 Drew McIntyre || 33 Kane |
| 34 Alex Riley || 34 Rey Mysterio |
| 35 The Big Show || 35 John Cena |
| 36 Ezekiel Jackson ||36 Wade Barrett |
| 37 Santino || 37 Randy Orton |
| 38 Alberto Del Rio || 38 Santino |
| 39 Randy Orton || ?? Alex Riley|
| 40 Kane |
Time of the Rumble: 1 hour 9 minutes and 39 seconds
Most Eliminations: John Cena with 6
Shortest time in ring: Tyler Reks at 50 seconds
Longest time in ring: Unofficial time has CM Punk lasting the longest 35 minutes and 21 seconds, with John Cena right on his heels at 33 minutes and 55 seconds.
In four Rumbles, John Morrison has spent over an hour in the ring and only has one elimination. He did not eliminate anyone this year but did have the spot of the match. He was knocked off the apron by William Regal, but was able to land on the security barrier and save himself. Morrison then walked along the barrier and jumped onto the ring steps to get back into the match.
Alex Riley was eliminated, but no one here, or at the announce table for that matter, saw it.
WWE Champion The Miz eliminated Cena, despite not officially being in the match.
Yes, you read correctly, Kevin Nash, aka Diesel, made a return, along with Booker T.
Total Event Time: 2 hours and 46 minutes
Event Rating: 7.5/10
Countdown to WWE Royal Rumble
Royal Rumble Photo Gallery
Dale and Nick have covered numerous Rumbles together, as it's one of their favorite events. In their own spirit of expansion, they would be willing to take on a third member of the coverage team for 2012... if you can find your way to Central PA! Apply for this coveted spot at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.