Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Five Count: Matches at the Rumble

It's Royal Rumble week, which is usually my favorite PPV of the year besides WrestleMania and my favorite non-traditional match in WWE's arsenal. I LOVE the Royal Rumble and we'll be talking about actual Rumble matches in the coming days and on this week's episode of Kick-Out!! Radio, but today I wanted to focus on the best matches on Royal Rumble PPVs that weren't actual Royal Rumble matches. Here are the top five:

5. The Rockers vs. The Orient Express - 1991
WWE just doesn't do matches like this anymore, especially not on PPV. The opening match of the 1991 Royal Rumble featured two established tag teams going out there and putting on a hell of a match with no title on the line. When's the last time WWE had a no gimmicks, non-title tag team match on PPV that didn't involve DX? Excellent match from a bygone era, check it out if you've never seen it.

4. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit - 2001
I hesitate putting this match on the list for obvious reasons, but it is one of the best ladder matches in WWE history. One of the best Intercontinental Title matches in recent years as well. Hell of a match, and I know a lot of people always complain that they'll never get to see it on DVD for the aforementioned obvious reasons, but it is on WWE's Ladder Match collection in its entirety. Oh, and even though it's just a straight-up ladder match, not a TLC match, it does feature one of the NASTIEST chair shots I've ever seen.

3. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz - 2000
The winners of this match got rights to the letter "Z." Oh my bad, Vince Russo was already in WCW by this point. Anyway, this was a tables match at one of my all-time favorite WWE PPVs, and while everyone credits the ladder match with Edge & Christian a few months prior as the match that put them on the map, I think this was the match that solidified not only The Hardyz, but the Dudleyz as well. It often gets forgotten since these teams had so many more-publicized matches, but I honestly enjoyed it more than some of the TLC matches. It was innovative, brutal and the red hot Madison Square Garden crowd pushed it into the upper echelon.

2. John Cena vs. Umaga - 2007
Easily the best match of the late, great Umaga's career and I daresay, it's in John Cena's top three. This match kicked off what I believe was John Cena's best year of his career and was kind of the end of an era for WWE. While they've had "extreme" matches since, nothing comes close to this brutal Last Man Standing match. It was done incredibly well too, while violent, it never felt gratuitous like many of the matches in that style, and was just a brilliantly told story.

1. Cactus Jack vs. Triple H - 2000
Attitude Era personified. If someone ever asked me to sum up the Attitude Era in one match, this would be the one I would pick and depending on the day you ask me, it might be my favorite match of all-time. The highlight of the 2000 Rumble PPV, which is one of my favorite shows ever, even if the Rumble match itself was disappointing, Foley and HHH gave it their all and perhaps the best performances of their careers. There was a lot of doubt about Triple H as a top-tier player before this match and his WWE Title reigns hadn't quite clicked with the audience... until this match. Mick Foley made Triple H the guy in this match and love him or hate him, it was a defining moment for the next decade. If I subscribed to the ridiculous "five star" ratings scale, this one would get six.

WWE - The Ladder MatchWWE Royal Rumble - The Complete Anthology, Vol. 3WWE - Mick Foley's Greatest Hits & Misses: A Life in Wrestling


  1. That reminds me... someone made a video recounting the ending of each Royal Rumble Main Event with Fire Pro. I thought you'd get a kick out of it.

  2. That was fun... I really miss that old school Royal Rumble theme song.