Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (2011)

The Rumble match expands to 40 participants, while the undercard delivers strongly....

Royal Rumble 2011 - TD Garden - 1/31/11

I'd call this show one of the better Rumble PPVs of the last ten years.  It was a streamlined four matches and helped elevate a handful of new stars.  Though with one change this PPV could've been off-the-charts awesome.

The opener was an epic World Title match between Edge and Dolph Ziggler.  This was Ziggler's first PPV Title match and he and Edge were given plenty of time to breathe and tell a good story.
Smackdown GM Vickie Guerrero added the stipulation that if Edge used the Spear he would lose the Title, which added an intriguing wrinkle.  After 20+ minutes of action Edge retained.

The second Championship match pitted WWE Champ The Miz against former Champion Randy Orton.  This was a fine Title match, but as with 1998 and 2002 it was a wasted opportunity to elevate a rising babyface.  John Morrison had won a Ladder Match in December for a shot at the WWE Title.  Morrison and Miz had a built-in history as former tag partners, and booking them at The Rumble seemed a no-brainer.  Instead though, that match happened for free on RAW, and was easily the best match of early 2011.  They should've included Miz-Morrison on this PPV exactly as it occurred, especially since Randy Orton would be in the Rumble match anyway.  Regardless, Miz-Orton was still good.

Yeah Punk with the assist!

The one throwaway was a four-way Divas Title match - Natalya vs. Layla vs. Michelle McCool vs. Eve Torres.  The feud here was Nattie vs. LayCool, so Eve's inclusion and eventual Title win was pretty nonsensical.  Whatever.
The Rumble match roster was increased to 40 men for the first and thus far only time in history.  It was a pretty unnecessary expansion since the WWE roster was hardly exploding with megastars.  But it did make for an entertaining match.  CM Punk and Daniel Bryan started the bout and carried the first third.  I really enjoyed their work here and looked forward to future matches between the two.  Punk's Nexus and Wade Barrett's Corre stables were both featured heavily which resulted in some solid gang warfare.  The match ended with hot new heel Alberto Del Rio eliminating Randy Orton and claiming victory, only to be attacked by Santino Marella, who had been hiding under the ring.  Del Rio overcame the Pearl Harbor job (as Gorilla Monsoon would say), and tossed him out to win the Rumble.  He'd go on to curtain jerk WrestleMania in a losing effort against Edge (which badly halted his momentum), but it looked like Del Rio was in line for a major push.  He'd eventually have a cup of coffee with the WWE Title in an ill-advised Money in the Bank cash-in.

This was just not Orton's night.

Participants: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Justin Gabriel, Zack Ryder, William Regal, Ted Dibiase, John Morrison, Yoshi Tatsu, Husky Harris, Chavo Guerrero, Mark Henry, JTG, Michael McGillicutty, Chris Masters, David Otunga, Tyler Reks, Valdimir Kozlov, R-Truth, The Great Khali, Mason Ryan, Booker T, John Cena, Hornswoggle, Tyson Kidd, Heath Slater, Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, King Sheamus, Rey Mysterio, Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler, Diesel, Drew McIntyre, Alex Riley, Big Show, Ezekiel Jackson, Santino Marella, Alberto Del Rio, Randy Orton, Kane
Final Four: Alberto Del Rio, Santino Marella, Randy Orton, Wade Barrett
Long Man: CM Punk (35:21)

The 2011 edition was a very strong entry in the series, and one of a slew of good-to-excellent early 2011 PPVs.  Unfortunately WrestleMania XXVII wasn't one of them.  But this PPV set the tone for what should've been a great 'Mania season.  And it was, except for its culmination.

Best Match: The Rumble
Worst Match: Divas Four-way
What I'd Change: As I said, give John Morrison the shot against Miz.  Also I'd stick with the 30-man field.  Adding ten names watered it down a bit.  Remove Tyler Reks, Vladimir Kozlov, Zack Ryder, Tyson Kidd, Yoshi Tatsu, Khali, JTG, Chris Masters, Chavo Guerrero, and for fuck's sake Hornswoggle (seriously, he was in there for almost ten full minutes??) and you'd have a really impressive field.
Most Disappointing Match: Miz-Orton, just because Morrison should've gotten the shot
Most Pleasant Surprise: Seeing Punk vs. Bryan for a little while
Overall Rating: 8/10

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