The Eternal Optimist Presents: Ranking The Royal Rumbles (#11)

Hi kids.

Welcome back to another edition in my Royal Rumble column series.

In today’s column, I’ll discuss the Royal Rumble that came in at 11th place on my countdown. As a reminder, here are the criteria that I used to analyze the matches:

The Participants – The easiest way to create a Royal Rumble is to have a compelling roster that people want to see participate. I’ll take a look at the level star power, the level of “overness” of the other players, and whether or not there were an unnecessary amount of jobbers and/or non-factors in the match.

The Storylines and Flow of the Match – The storylines are without question the most important part of a Royal Rumble match. I’ll look at whether or not the storylines presented enhanced the match. I’ll also look at the surprise entrants and evaluate whether or not they added value. Lastly, I’ll look at whether or not the match had a solid flow or if it dragged at times. This is by far the most important category, and it will be the category in which I spend the majority of each column discussing.

The Final Four – Every Rumble inevitably comes down to a “show down” between the final four competitors. Here, I’ll look at whether the WWE chose a strong group to represent the final four, and whether or not the end game to the Rumble was compelling.

The Winner – I’ll evaluate three things relating to the winner of each Rumble. First, was the winner a surprise? I have a strong appreciation for Rumble winners that weren’t necessarily expected to win. Second, was the winner satisfying? Just because the winner wasn’t someone I expected doesn’t mean that I enjoyed the outcome. On the other hand, just because the winner was a foregone conclusion doesn’t mean that I didn’t love every minute of it. Lastly, how did winning the Royal Rumble impact this wrestler at Wrestlemania and beyond? The overall success of the subsequent push impacts how I view many of the Rumbles and their winner.

A couple additional disclaimers:

First – lengthy Royal Rumble runs rarely move me. Sure, you might love Rick Martel lasting 53 minutes in 1991. I didn’t. He, as well as almost everyone else that goes coast to coast, spent the majority of the match sitting in the corner getting kicked. For me, a single wrestler’s longevity is the most overrated factor in evaluating the strength of a Royal Rumble.

Second – these factors aren’t weighted evenly. They are merely talking points. My overall impression of the Rumble is what ultimately mattered when I made my rankings.

Last, but certainly not least – I’ve added a new wrinkle to this column series. As you already know, my thought process on wrestling seems to wildly differ from the majority of the fans in our community. Many have taken me to task in other forums over where my rankings ultimately landed. I’ve decided to incorporate that into this column series. As such, every entry will end with a guest “rebuttal” telling me exactly why I’m an idiot for ranking that particular Rumble where I did. The guests range from my fellow columnists, both on the main page and the Forums, to real life friends, to buddies I frequently interact with on social media. I try not to take myself too seriously, and I think you’ll enjoy the alternative takes.

No rebuttal today.  A rebuttal was written over a year ago for this particular entry, and I proceeded to lose the email.  Alas, I’ll eat this one.

Here is where the countdown currently stands – links to the previous columns are embedded:

Without further ado, here’s the Royal Rumble that clocked in at #11 on the countdown:


#11:  The 2010 Royal Rumble


The Roster:

  1. Dolph Ziggler
  2. Evan Bourne
  3. CM Punk
  4. JTG
  5. Khali
  6. Beth Phoenix
  7. Zack Ryder
  8. Triple H
  9. Drew McIntyre
  10. Ted Dibiase
  11. John Morrison
  12. Kane
  13. Cody Rhodes
  14. MVP
  15. Carlito
  16. Miz
  17. Matt Hardy
  18. HBK
  19. John Cena
  20. Shelton Benjamin
  21. Yoshi Tatsu
  22. The Big Show
  23. Mark Henry
  24. Chris Masters
  25. R Truth
  26. Jack Swagger
  27. Kofi
  28. Jericho
  29. Edge
  30. Batista

There was plenty of star power here with Triple H, John Cena, HBK, Jericho, Edge and Batista. The problem is that outside of the top guns, only one other wrestler, CM Punk was anything more than fodder for the established stars.  This Rumble contained a lot of decent talent that wasn’t factored into the match at all.  In short – 2010 had a strong roster that wasn’t used to the best of its abilities.

The Storylines & Flow:

2010 is such an interesting Rumble to discuss.  The WWE managed to jam pack this Rumble with interesting storylines – some of which I liked, some of which I didn’t. 

As I mentioned above when discussing the roster, CM Punk was the only non-established superstar that wasn’t treated as an afterthought and a body for one of the top guys to eliminate.  This was during his “Straight Edge” gimmick and a year and a half prior to him setting the world on fire via the “Pipe Bomb” promo.  I loved how he held court in the ring.  The mic work in between eliminations when he was alone in the ring was something unique to previous Rumbles.  It really gave you a glimpse of what he could do.

On the other hand, while Triple H brought the star power early to this Rumble, I didn’t like that he eliminated Punk.  It felt way too early in the match to kill of a storyline that could have carried the Rumble until they were to ready to move towards the finish.  To me, it felt like nepotism at its finest.

The 2010 Rumble was full of unique occurrences.  In addition to CM Punk and his mic work, Beth Phoenix became only the second female wrestler to compete in a Rumble.  Her kiss of the Great Khali and his subsequent elimination was cheesy and ridiculous, but also very memorable. 

I have to give the WWE credit for attempting a mid-card storyline between MVP and The Miz.  The Miz attacked MVP on the way to the ring only for MVP to return when The Miz’s number came up with a decent storyline.  It led to a double elimination and ultimately should have paved the way for a solid mid-card bout at WrestleMania.  Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to anything.  The Miz ended up in a three minute tag title match and MVP was an also ran in an unmemorable Money In The Bank match.  Continuing this storyline through WrestleMania would have been a much better option.

Again, we’re at the point of the countdown where I legitimately love every single match.  When nitpicking as to where to rank Rumbles, the 2010 Rumble fell short in the sense that it had a tremendous lull in the action between Triple H’s entrance at #8 and HBK’s entrance at #18.  There was no reason for it to be the case.  If you look at the caliber of wrestlers that entered in between those two – it’s a list of straight ballers.  Unfortunately, as mentioned in my write-up on the roster, this was a time for the WWE when they simply weren’t creating new stars.  It is what it is I guess, and I’m glad that this issue would be corrected in a span of less than two years.

All of that being said – from the moment that HBK hit the ring at #18, the remainder of the 2010 Royal Rumble is an unbelievable spectacle.  I absolutely loved the action between Cena, HBK and Triple H when they were the only three in the ring.  HBK’s elimination of Triple H was unexpected but awesome.  It really highlighted the desperation that he had.

Speaking of HBK’s desperation, it was THE storyline of the match.  The Undertaker was the champion on Smackdown at the time.  HBK’s story arc was so unbelievably unique because he wasn’t desperate to win The Royal Rumble in order to challenge for the world title, but because winning the Royal Rumble would be the only way he could get another shot at The Undertaker at WrestleMania.  It was different and it was powerful.

I really enjoyed the showdown between The Big Show and Mark Henry.  As you know by now, hoss v hoss action is high on my list.  Their interaction not only with each other but with HBK and John Cena was top notch.  It was surreal to see R Truth eliminate both men.  It came off more as a referendum on how the WWE viewed The Big Show & Henry at the time rather than a positive note for R Truth. 

All of the storyline focus aside, I believe that 2010 brought a quality of in-ring action that hadn’t been seen in prior Rumbles.  With the back end of the Rumble loaded with stars, we were treated with a tremendous amount of one on one action between all time greats.  Royal Rumbles are often littered with clusters of wrestlers hugging each other against the ropes.  The large amount of one on one action made this Rumble come off as a series of mini matches between legends.  It was both different and tremendous.

Of course, you can’t discuss the 2010 Rumble without getting to Edge showing up as a surprise entrant and winning the match.  I’ll do a deeper dive into this when discussing the final four and winner.

The Final Four:

On name value alone, it’s pretty hard to top a final four of Edge, John Cena, Batista & HBK.  HBK’s elimination and subsequent meltdown was fascinating.  As good as it was, it’s placement presented challenges for the match finish.

The problem was that fans were so into HBK’s storyline and the idea that he could once again challenge The Undertaker at WrestleMania 26 that when he was eliminated, it took the air out of everyone’s sails.

The WWE could have easily overcome this.  They had three top end Hall of Fame caliber wrestlers in Edge, John Cena and Batista.  Had they given them sufficient time to tell a better story, the fans could have forgotten about what happened with HBK and been more invested in the finish.  Instead, two rapid fire eliminations occurred and the match was over.

In hindsight, Edge’s return was a big deal.  The WWE didn’t pick the right group of wrestlers to be there with him at the end.  Had the WWE gotten the HBK storyline out of the way a bit earlier in the match and replaced Cena and Batista with a set of three heels for Edge to overcome, the focus would have rightfully shifted back on his triumphant return.  This was certainly a missed opportunity.

The Winner:

Although Edge was technically a surprise entrant in the match, his victory wasn’t surprising.  It was all but confirmed prior to the match that he would be making his return, and it was expected that he would win.

He was definitely a satisfying victor.  Edge was a big star prior to his injury, but his entire top of the card run as a singles competitor had been as a heel up until this point.  The fans were clamoring to see him receive a face level main event run.

Unfortunately for him, the Royal Rumble didn’t catapult him in the way that one would have expected.  It really wasn’t his fault.  As mentioned earlier, HBK’s storyline that ultimately led up to his retirement match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 26 was just so unbelievably compelling.  Edge’s return really had no chance to compete with that. 

Instead, his WrestleMania title shot against Chris Jericho ended up being a secondary attraction rather than the final step in cementing his status as a main event baby face.  He never really received his run as the top face in the company and unfortunately for him, would retire a little more than a year later due to injury. 

Overall:

In hearing my critique the 2010 Royal Rumble, you’d think that I hated this match.  That isn’t the case at all.  2010 is a fascinating Royal Rumble, filled with strong storylines, some of the best one on one action in any Royal Rumble, tremendous star power and unique happenings.  My need to focus on the shortfalls in this match were necessary to shed light on why this match didn’t crack the top five despite its obvious greatness, not as a reflection on my views of the overall match itself.

That’s a wrap kids.  These are going to start coming hot and heavy, as we’re about two months away from The Royal Rumble.  Tune in next time to see which match clocked in at #10.  Thank you for reading, sound off below!

I can best be reached @The_Eternal_Optimist

 

 

 

 

 

 

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