The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2008 – Live, in HD, from Madison Square Garden. This rant will also be presented in widescreen, so adjust your margins to 100 columns to match. (2012 Scott sez: First WWE show I ever ordered in HD!) – Your hosts are Michael Cole and The Coach and Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler and Joey Styles and Tazz.Ric Flair v. MVP This is for Flair’s career, but not MVP’s title, which hardly seems like a fair swap. Flair grabs a headlock and gets knocked down to start. They trade hammerlocks and Flair starts with the chops, but MVP brings him down with a Yakuza kick and a neckbreaker for two. He goes to the armbar, but Flair elbows out and clips him. MVP fights off he figure-four, then reverses another attempt into a cradle for two. They slug it out in the corner and Flair gets backdropped, allowing MVP to follow with another high kick in the corner for…the pin? Nope, Flair’s foot is on the ropes. That’s always struck me as a dangerous way to break a count, because the ref could miss it. (2012 Scott sez: Just ask John Cena.) Flair gets a rollup for two, but MVP clotheslines him and gets a suplex for two. To the top for the superplex, and that gets two. MVP goes for some kind of fireman’s carry thing, but Flair escapes and they collide in the corner, giving Flair a cradle for two. Backslide gets two. Flair throws chops, but MVP takes him down with a kneelift. He sets up to finish, but Flair reverses to the figure-four to finish. Well it’s not like Flair was going to retire here. **1/2 – Meanwhile, Vince and his midget bastard discuss Rumble strategy. (2012 Scott sez: I forget, did they ever resolve the issue of Hornswoggle’s parentage? Was it actually Finlay who was his dad?) Chris Jericho v. JBL(2012 Scott sez: Oh man, this feud was DEATH. Jericho was already on the ropes as a babyface character at this point in his comeback and JBL did nothing to make people care about him.) JBL ducks away from the lockup to start and hides in the ropes, then goes with the cheapshot before Jericho takes him down with a spear and pounds away. The reactions for Jericho seem a bit tepid tonight. Jericho punts the ribs and quickly gets the Walls of Jericho, but JBL is in the ropes. JBL bails, bu Jericho hits him with a baseball slide and sends him into the stairs. Back in, JBL catches him with a stungun. JBL hits him with a pair of short clotheslines and chokes away on the ropes, forcing JR to say “larynx” far too many times for someone who can’t pronounce it. Jericho fights back with chops, but walks into the sleeper. Jericho fights out with a clothesline, but JBL boots him down and then sends him into the post. And we have blood! (2012 Scott sez: Blood? What’s that?) JBL is all over that, stomping the cut in the corner, but Jericho shoulderblocks him down and drops elbows. Lionsault and a Cactus clothesline put both guys on the floor, and Jericho uses a chair to draw the DQ. LAME. Jericho goes nuts and chokes JBL with the TV cable (which is hopefully Monster HDMI, since it’s in HD now and all), and that finally gets the crowd a little more on his side. Lots of blood from Jericho, but the match was strictly TV quality, with a limited moveset from JBL. **3/4 – Meanwhile, Santino Marella informs an apparently anorexic Ashley that Maria won’t be doing Ashley’s “booby magazine”. Spoiler: She already has. (2012 Scott sez: She was the last one to do so, I believe.) Smackdown World title: Edge v. Rey Mysterio What’s with the hate from the crowd for Rey Rey? And what’s with a tattoo of a chain around his neck? Who DOES that? Really, though, how can you not love Edge and his circus of flunkies? (2012 Scott sez: I guarantee I wasn’t watching this thinking “Hey, Edgehead #2 might just be US champion and one of my favorite wrestlers someday relatively soon.”) They do the test of strength and Rey escapes with a headscissors, and the crowd is just all over him for some reason. Low dropkick gets two (or should I say “Boo”) and Edge backs off. Edge gets the big boot and tosses Rey, and sadly the Edgeheads get sent back to the dressing room by the ref before they can do anything. Rey fights back in and goes for the 619, but Edge bails, so Rey follows with a pescado. Senton back in gets two. Rey misses a charge in the corner and Edge kicks him in the injured knee to take over, so Rey bails. Back in, Edge stomps the crap out of the knee and goes to a half-crab. Rey fights out with an enzuigiri, but Edge powerslams him for two. Edge can’t get a horse-collar, so he goes with a kneebar instead, but Rey kicks out of it. Edge stays on the knee, but Rey comes back with the bulldog, and the crowd really hates that for some reason. It’s not my favourite move either, but geez. (2012 Scott sez: Eh, it’s New York, what are you gonna do?) Edge tries a sunset flip, but Rey rolls through and boots Edge down for two. Rey takes Edge down out of a powerbomb attempt for two. To the top and a double-stomp gets two. Edge comes back with the big boot and sets up for the spear, but misses and hits the corner. 619 miraculously brings Vickie Guerrero out of her wheelchair in time to pull the ref out, and she blocks a second 619, allowing Edge to spear Rey and retain the title. (2012 Scott sez: This was the run where Vickie really blossomed from annoying manager into nuclear heat generator.) Good match, weird crowd reactions. Never really took off like their tag matches together used to, but Edge is a different worker now and Rey is a lot more banged up. The soap opera finish worked well. ***1/2 Quick story for you: I’m watching Smackdown at work the other night because it’s in HD now and thus I can actually justify having it on, and my co-worker, who hasn’t watched in a few years, is asking what happened to Teddy Long. I tell him I’m not sure, and he asks who the GM of Smackdown is now. I tell him that it’s Eddie Guerrero’s widow, and he comments that things much be just about as bad now as when he stopped watching. So there you go, WWE. – Meanwhile, Kennedy Kennedy gets in Flair’s face and volunteers to be the guy to retire him at Wrestlemania. (2012 Scott sez: I do believe that was the plan at one point before Shawn got the honors instead.) Shawn Michaels chases Ken off (“Kids these days…”) and then shills his t-shirt while mediating a dispute between HHH and Batista. – Maria joins us for the Royal Rumble HD Kiss Cam, but Ashley and her disgusting ribs interrupt to offer a spot in Playboy. Thankfully, Santino is once again the voice of reason and nearly incites violence from the crowd with his comments about the Giants. Maria polls the crowd, but Santino points out that the crowd are like sheep and they’ll cheer if you ask them if they want hepatitis. HA! The payoff, as usual, is Big Dick Johnson, because they had nothing better to use for a punchline, I guess. RAW World title: Randy Orton v. Jeff Hardy(2012 Scott sez: The 2008 Rumble was WAY up in buys almost exclusively due to Jeff Hardy challenging for the title now. For example, I bought the show based solely on seeing this match and I’m a cynical fuck who stopped caring about buying PPVs years before this show, so that tells you what kind of a draw this match was. And although hindsight says that what they did was the right decision in the long run, man was it ever the wrong decision at the time. A little goodwill goes a long ways sometimes.) This one finally has the big match feel that has been lacking from the other matches tonight. Well, except for Mike Adamle calling him “Jeff Harvey”. Hey, hope you enjoyed your one PPV, Mike. (2012 Scott sez: Sadly he stuck around a while longer.) Jeff is the Good Guy and Randy is the Bad Guy and the crowd has their side picked firmly. They fight for a lockup to start and Jeff grabs the headlock and gets two. Orton reverses to a headscissors, but Hardy takes him down for the legdrop and a low dropkick for two. Orton pounds him down (“Who’s your boy now? What’s he going to do? NOTHING!” That’s some good trash talk!), but Hardy clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a baseball slide that sends Orton’s head into the railing at a pretty sick angle. Jeff follows with a pescado, prompting Orton to take his belt and leave, but Jeff cuts him off and they brawl outside. Jeff tries to springboard in, but Randy uses his DROPKICK OF DOOM to counter and put Jeff back on the floor. Nice spot! Orton suplexes him on the floor, and gets two back in the ring. Orton uses the Garvin Stomp and then drops a knee on Jeff’s face (Not his beautiful face!) for two. Jeff fights back and sends Orton to the floor, then follows with a dive off the apron and surprisingly hits it. Back in, he gets two. He charges Orton and eats post, however, and Orton gets two. Orton goes to the chinlock with the bodyscissors, and a powerslam gets two. Orton uses his deadly side headlock, but Hardy comes back with a clothesline and elbows him down. Whisper in the Wind gets two. Mule kick in the corner and Jeff goes up, but Orton rolls to the apron to stop him. Hardy dropkicks him to the floor anyway and then goes back up with a moonsault press to the floor. Back in, Orton reverses the Twist of Fate into the RKO out of nowhere for the pin to retain. That one just totally sucked the life out of the crowd. Didn’t really have a finishing sequence as such, which hurt it a lot. I’ve gotta be honest, I bought the show based on the buildup to this match and I was expecting WAY more out of it, and it was a pretty big disappointment. Especially without some kind of big bump from Hardy or otherwise memorable spot. I dunno, I keep giving them another shot and they keep letting me down. ***1/4 (2012 Scott sez: Story of my life with WWE. “Hey, you like this Ryder guy? Let’s have Kane beat him like a dog for 10 minutes and then ‘break’ his back by chokeslamming him through a gimmicked stage. Now give us your money!”) Royal Rumble Undertaker draws lucky #1, and Shawn is #2. Huh. Wouldn’t have predicted that. Taker quickly whips Shawn into the corner for the Flair Flip and slugs away. To the other corner as Shawn teases going over the top again, but he goads Undertaker into charging and puts him on the apron. Shawn charges and gets caught by Taker, and they’re both back in for the big boot from Taker. Santino is #3 and he immediately eats the superkick and he’s gone. Poor guy. Shawn attacks Taker while he’s tossing Santino, and gets an atomic drop and chops in the corner. Flying forearm and Great Khali is #4 while Taker chokeslams Shawn. Taker immediately jumps Khali, but faces the BITCHSLAP OF DEATH. Crowd chants “You can’t wrestle”. Too true. Taker and Khali choke each other, but Taker dumps him and we’re back to Shawn v. Undertaker again. Hardcore Holly is #5, and Taker gets the corner clothesline on him and boots him down. Shawn keeps trying to catch Taker from behind and dump him, but Taker reverses to a fireman’s carry and they fight on the ropes. John Morrison is #6 and he gets his ass kicked by Shawn, but hangs on when chucked over the top. Shawn hits him with the flying elbow and sets up for the superkick, but John catches it and spinkicks him. Tommy Dreamer is #7, but he quickly gets pounded down by Undertaker. Batista is #8, and he’s all over it with spinebusters, leading to a showdown with Undertaker. Tommy interrupts that and tries a DDT, but Batista tosses him to end his dreams. Batista spears Morrison, but Taker chokes him out in the corner. Hornswoggle is #9 (8.5?) and he immediately hides under the ring. Can’t argue that strategy. (2012 Scott sez: Worked for Jimmy Hart back in the day. It’s solid battle royale planning!) Holly clotheslines Shawn to the apron, but he hangs on while Chuck Palumbo is #10. The black bandana in his pocket indicates heavy S&M, according to Wikipedia. Hey, he played the gay tag team wrestler. (2012 Scott sez: Oh man, was that when he was playing the car mechanic? He could have made way better money fixing all the vehicles blown up by Vince Russo over the years.) Jamie Noble is #11 and Palumbo tosses him right away. For the seven people who care about that feud, I guess. Shawn tosses Morrison and he hangs on, as CM Punk is #12 and throwing knees at everyone. He tries to bulldog Shawn, but Taker clotheslines him. Shawn ends up on the apron again, as does Palumbo, and Punk knees Chuck off to eliminate him. Cody Rhodes is #13 to deafening silence, and he’s dumb enough to go after Undertaker. Shawn tries to piledrive Batista but gets backdropped, while Taker beats on Rhodes. Umaga is #14 with red tights that threaten to blow out my TV, and he immediately clotheslines Holly out of the match while Rhodes backdrops Shawn to the apron yet again. Snitsky is #15 and he gets offense against everyone, but Rhodes jumps on his back and takes him to the apron. Sadly, neither goes out. The Miz is #16 as this thing is really starting to drag. Miz and Morrison team up on Punk while Taker tries to dump Umaga without any success. Shelton Benjamin is #17 and he too goes after Punk with a fancy DDT, but Shawn superkicks him out just as he’s getting warmed up. And yet Cody Rhodes is still allowed to bore us? (2012 Scott sez: Thankfully Cody would get much less boring after the whole Legacy deal.) Superfly Jimmy Snuka is #18 looking like he just got unearthed from his tomb, and poor Miz gets to sell for him. Speaking of unearthed, Roddy Piper is #19, and he’s not looking that hot either. Piper and Snuka do a comedy sequence while the match literally stops. Kane is #20 and dumps both of the seniors, thankfully. Chokeslam for Miz and he beats on Umaga in the corner. Carlito is #21 and he gets the usual flurry of offense before reality sets in with a bulldog from Cody Rhodes. Mick Foley is #22. Hey, he’s back. Again. How can we miss him if he won’t go away? Mick goes after Kane with a DDT while Undertaker powerbombs Batista, and there’s lots of laying around and punching going on. Kennedy is #23 and we desperately need someone to clear the deadwood. Downward spiral for Punk and Miz, but Taker sits up and chokeslams him. Big Daddy V is #24 as Snitsky gets tossed…and Shawn superkicks the Undertaker out. And then Kennedy tosses Shawn. Oh, SNAP. Well that makes the winner pretty obvious. I should note that Michaels and Undertaker were not “deadwood” and didn’t need clearing. Cody and Kennedy battle on the apron while Mark Henry is #25 to really crank up the workrate. Hornswoggle finally leaves the hiding spot and pulls Miz out, then goes back under again. Chavo Guerrero is #26 as we’re running out of spots and stars to fill them. Punk and Chavo go at it while Kane boots Morrison out of the match. Hornswoggle emerges again, but gets dragged in by Henry and Vis. Finlay comes in to save him, and takes him back to the dressing room. Apparently Finlay was #27 and was DQ’d for using the shillelagh. Lame. Elijah Burke is #28 while Chavo chokes Punk out of the match. HHH is #29 and it’s deadwood time. Rhodes is finally gone. V is gone. Mick Foley slugs away on HHH and gets tossed into Burke, putting them both out. So that’s why they left all those guys in there. Umaga misses a charge and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE for him. And holy crap…John Cena is #30. So much for rehab. (2012 Scott sez: Cena used a crazy technique called “lying” whereby he did not tell the truth about his injury on Twitter every week, thus preserving the illusion that he would be out for months instead of weeks. Randy Orton has not learned this lesson, apparently. I guess that makes Cena = Scotty and Orton = LaForge.) Bye, Carlito. So long, Chavo. Ciao, Mark Henry. Cena and HHH have the staredown and slug it out, and HHH gets a spinebuster. Umaga recovers from his Pedigree and attacks HHH, but gets speared by Batista. Kennedy gets thrown out like the garbage, and Batista clotheslines Umaga out for an encore. HHH and Batista team up to get rid of Kane, and we’re down to Cena, Batista and Kane. Now that’s quite the finish. Batista gives them the thumbs down and Cena can’t see anyone. HHH tells them to suck it and it’s on. Everyone slugs it out and Batista elbows Cena down and clotheslines HHH in the corner, then clotheslines both guys. Spinebuster for Cena, and he reverses a Pedigree into another one for HHH. Cena reverses the demon bomb, and HHH dumps Batista to leave Cena and HHH. They slug it out and now the crowd totally turns on Cena after giving him the big pop, and Cena gets a backdrop suplex. F-U is reversed to the Pedigree, but they clothesline each other. HHH tries to clothesline him out, but runs into a boot. He recovers with a DDT and fights with Cena on the ropes, but they trade finisher attempts and Cena dumps him with the F-U to win the match and the title shot. Pretty dull Rumble, but the finish was super-heated and shows that clearly they need to change the belt at No Way Out (if not sooner) and do Cena v. HHH at Wrestlemania for the title. *** (2012 Scott sez: Well, Cena v. HHH v. Orton, so close enough, although it wasn’t exactly a heated classic or anything.) The Pulse Nothing bad and a HUGE shock ending to the Rumble make this a pretty easy thumbs up, although honestly it was a bit of a letdown overall. If you’re watching for the Hardy-Orton title match, however, you’ll be disappointed. Mild recommendation.