The Royal Rumble is usually one of the most fun nights of the year to be a wrestling fan, and last night was no exception. With a pair of solid world title matches, and a newsworthy Rumble match that featured some jaw-dropping athleticism, some faces from the past, and an unlikely winner, the show was a hit.
Here are a few thoughts:
. I was surprised to see Alberto Del Rio win the Royal Rumble match. Although there were several indications that he was one of the favorites, I still had a hard time believing that such a relatively-unproven talent would be awarded such a prestigious honor—much less headline WrestleMania. It’s clear that Vince McMahon remains very serious about freshening up his top-tier of talent with some new names. With 11 years experience, including as a top draw in Mexico, Del Rio is a good choice to be put on WWE’s fast track.
. I had my reservations about it, but in the end, having ten extra competitors in the Royal Rumble didn’t take much away from the match. On the other hand, it didn’t add much either. As expected, having 40 wrestlers instead of 30 just meant that the lull of mid-card entrants in the match took longer than usual. That said, WWE cleverly booked The Nexus to dominate the first half of the Rumble, which allowed the time to pass pretty quickly. Also, by keeping the intervals at 90 seconds (the perfect length, I believe) the match lasted more than an hour without ever feeling rushed. I’m not sure I’d do 40 again next year, but I wouldn’t necessarily mind if they did.
. I got a kick out of Booker T and Diesel making their surprise returns at the Rumble. I got especially nostalgic seeing “Big Daddy Cool” don the old black and grey tights and come out to the old trucker music. Both men have their share of baggage, but some of that should be forgiven, considering the total lack of leadership in TNA. Although neither should be given a major in-ring role, both may be worth keeping around as veteran presences in a very young and inexperienced WWE locker room.
. John Morrison is amazing. That spot with him being knocked off the ring apron and sticking to the ringside barrier was one of the most unbelievable things I’ve seen in 30 years of being a wrestling fan. Morrison’s acrobatic acumen alone should be reason for WWE to feature him prominently.
. WrestleMania looks to be Del Rio vs. Edge, John Cena vs. The Miz and C.M. Punk vs. Randy Orton. On paper, the line up doesn’t look very strong, although I trust all of those men are capable of delivering terrific performances. But to draw interest beyond its loyal fanbase, WWE is going to have to come up with some really special outside of those matches. And the clock is ticking.
. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the opening match between Dolph Ziggler and Edge. Ziggler seemed like an unusual choice to get a world title shot on such a big show, but I think he did enough in the match to prove he should be considered in the top mix over on Smackdown. It was definitely too soon to put a world title on him, but it’s not unreasonable to think Ziggler will be regularly headlining pay per views by the year’s end.