Since the weather appears to have cancelled Superstars, Part 2 of the Saturday Syndies will instead be dedicated to the Rumble. Namely, I'm giving myself a challenge: make the Rumble not suck. However, I'm imposing two restrictions. One, I can't swap anyone out or in the Rumble (which, by this definition, means Curtis Axel is in); and two, Roman Reigns still has to win. Could I do a Rumble that gets all the points across without causing Philadelphia to riot? We'll find out... but first, Main Event.
From Hartford, CT, on a delay. Your hosts are Tom Phillips and Jerry Lawler, as JBL is probably snowed in with any luck.
MATCH: The Miz and Damien Mizdow v. Kofi Kingston and Big E Langston. The hatred for New Day appears to have just been a Philadelphia thing. Langston and Miz start. Langston stops a waistlock and judo throws Miz, who stalls as the crowd wants Mizdow. Miz fires away, upset at the chant, but gets tackled by Langston after some reversals. A creative double-team high kick gets Kofi two. Miz with a headlock and tackle, but runs into a back elbow for two. Miz gets a jawbreaker as the announcers point out Miz is using the stunt double wrong (much the way Scott Keith did elsewhere). Miz tries a monkey flip, but Kofi lands on his feet and returns the favor for two. Kofi is whipped in for a forearm to Miz, and Langston gets a lariat for two as the heels “regroup”. Langston tosses Miz in (and Mizdow by proxy), and he rolls all the way out (and Mizdow by proxy), only to get tossed back in (as well as Mizdow by proxy). Langston with multiple backbreakers, as Mizdow uses the ropes to imitate this – even holding up on a few fake-outs in a great spot. It gets two as well as an ovation. Langston with a cross-corner shoulder ram, but Miz with a chop block on the second try as we go to break.
That Mizdow spot deserved to be on Raw.
We return with Miz working Langston over in the corner and refusing to tag, getting a front facelock. Langston throws him off, but Miz comes back with a DDT for two. Miz stomps away and fakes a tag-in to Mizdow, getting himself rolled up for two. Back to a low dropkick by Miz and he works the knee viciously, into a kneebar. Langston fights out, kicking Miz away, but Miz returns with a big boot for two. The announcers are stunned Miz won't tag as he works a chinlock. Langston fights out, but his boot attempt is caught and Miz with a hamstring kick and Figure-Four try. Langston kicks Miz into the post, hot tag Kofi. Dropkick, leaping lariat, and New Day Boom Drop follow. Cross-corner knee floors Miz and he goes up, but he's distracted by Mizdow and the crossbody misses. Miz tries the Million Dollar Move, but Kofi shoves him off into Mizdow. Mizdow does the move and tries the running clothesline, but Miz cuts him off and tags him in, chastising him. Predictably, this leads to Trouble In Paradise and the Midnight Hour to end it at 10:38 shown. Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling. **1/2, with the Mizdow backbreaker spot getting a half-star by itself.
MATCH: Curtis Axel v. Erick Rowan. Whoa, continuity! They even explain it in the intros. Axel offers a handshake, but changes it to a slap and bails. (Axel even calls himself the Royal Rumble winner during trash talk.) Rowan out, Axel in, and Rowan returns with a clothesline. Rowan with a bulldog buckle smash, then another. Axel slips out of a slam and bails, then pulls on Rowan's beard to get a Hotshot. Back in, he clips Rowan and pounds away. Axel taunts Rowan in the ropes. Rowan fights to his feet, but runs into a dropkick for one. Axel goes to the chinlock. Blind charge eats elbow, and Rowan headbutts Axel down. A beal follows, then an avalanche, and a few more for taste. Tackle leads to the full nelson slam for the pin at 3:43. 1/2* More of a Superstars match, if that makes sense, but Rowan needed this win.
Sidenote: the announcers are surprised Rowan did what he did at the Rumble and are searching for answers. The fact that Harper and Wyatt were in the ring waiting for him was seen as a nice side effect, but never the main reason.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER enters the Celebrity Wing of the Hall of Fame. Apparently, making HHH sell a beating is so rare that it puts you in the Hall. (Sorry, easy joke.)
RAW Recap. Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns have a side-by-side sitdown interview, conducted by Paul Heyman. How will Reigns handle losing? Reigns tells Lesnar instead: he knows who Lesnar is, but Lesnar doesn't know who Reigns is. So Reigns will win. A brawl nearly breaks out, but it's a staredown instead, followed by an angry handshake. “I don't respect you.” “But you will.” Nice.
Stone Cold will interview HHH on Monday. I don't think I'm exaggerating too much when I say this could be more important than Raw.
MATCH: Dolph Ziggler v. Luke Harper. Commentary during intros: “Network Network Network Network Network.” Crowd is behind Dolph right from the bell. Harper with a kick to start, and he ragdolls Ziggler into the buckle. European Uppercut follows, then a headlock. He gets a tackle on Dolph, and after some reversals, misses a clothesine before turning a backslide attempt into a throat thrust. Crowd begins a Wash Your Shirt chant, which Lawler gets a kick out of. Blind charge eats the middle buckle, and Dolph with a Stinger Splash and dropkick. Neckbreaker follows, then the Heart Attack Elbow for two. Harper gets a big elbow to send Dolph packing. On the outside, Harper catches a superkick and slingshots Dolph into the post as we go to break.
We return with a headlock on Dolph on the ground. Dolph looks like he's going to pass out in it, but fights to his feet. Harper shoves aside a dropkick, though, to keep control. Guillotine slingshot follows, getting two. Harper goes to the eyes, then uppercuts Dolph down. An elbowdrop misses, and again as Dolph keeps rolling away. Dolph with a jawbreaker and superkick for two. He avoids a charge and rolls Harper up for two. Sky High DDT gets two (after a few reversals). Zig Zag gets shoved away, and Harper tries a powerbomb only to get sunset flipped for two. Big boot by Harper sets up an uppercut and powerbomb for two. Harper's up first and points the guns, but walks into a superkick only to recover with a lariat for two. Not a fan of that spot, but if it's just Harper I guess I'll live with it. Harper misses a charge, and Dolph with the Famouser and Zig Zag for the pin at 9:27 shown. Not their best effort. *3/4 Dolph celebrates with the crowd as the show ends.
Now, Andy PG attempts to fix the Royal Rumble. I'm putting my ego on the line – again – so you can pick me apart the way you pick the WWE apart. Let's see how I do.
Luke Harper draws #1, but before #2 comes out, Erick Rowan emerges to attack his former partner. After a minute or so of brawling, referees separate the two and send Rowan to the back. Harper tries to recover as Dolph Ziggler gets sent out for #2. The two wear each other down, with Harper getting a few elimination tries, but never fully succeeding. Big E Langston is next at #3 (the crowd inexplicably frosty towards him). He and Harper exchange power moves like crazy as Dolph rests a little before jumping on Harper's back for a Zig Zag. R-Truth is #4 and forgoes his rap in order to charge into the ring. Harper goes for the discus clothesline, but Dolph superkicks Harper and fires him out of the ring, the first elimination. Kane enters at #5 and pinballs Ziggler around before everyone gathers up on him. But they can't get him out.
Bubba Ray Dudley fires up the crowd at #6, as he and Langston team up to do the Dudley moves on Truth. 3-D flattens him, and Bubba eliminates Truth from the match. Bubba and Kane square off in the ring, face to face, before Big Show enters at #7 and the Authority go nuts. Dolph is first to try, but he gets punched right over the top rope and out. Kane grabs Big E and fires him out of the ring. It's down to Bubba Ray being pinballed by the Authority as the crowd is begging for D-Von to be next, but it's not going to happen as Big Show press slams Bubba Ray to the floor, leaving just the Authority in the ring.
Tyson Kidd is #8 and yeah, he's not going to get much going here. Kane chokeslams him and throws him out of the ring, getting him the new record. Stardust is #9, continuing his streak of never drawing a double-digit number. Usually, it's because Cody has good stamina, but this time, he's getting sent out by Kane in under a minute. Zack Ryder returns from injury at #10, though he's reluctant to get in. Kane slides out and throws him in, but Ryder gets a dropkick on Show to tie him in the ropes. Ryder gets his offense in on Kane, including the Broski Boot and Ruff Ryder, but he can't get Kane out, as Kane boots Ryder down. But Ryder has help... sort of, as Curtis Axel arrives at #11. This doesn't change anything, as Kane catches Axel in a chokeslam and frees up Show. Show KO Punches Axel and tosses him to the floor. Ryder is on the top rope and dives onto Show, who merely catches him and throws him onto Axel. Can anyone stop the Authority?
Daniel Bryan is going to try at #12. He gets a huge flurry of offense, kicking both men repeatedly, but attempting the running knee on Show leads into a chokeslam from Kane. It looks like the Authority will dispose of Bryan, but Dean Ambrose is in at #13 for the save. It revitalizes Bryan into trying to fire back, including his corner flip into a dropkick as Ambrose gets his tangle clothesline on Kane. But still, it doesn't seem like enough. Maybe #14 will help? Ryback gets that number, and it looks good. In fact, it looks even better when Ryback gets Show up and, in an incredible feat of strength, tosses him out of the ring for the elimination! Kane is alone against three people who don't like him, and that goes poorly as he eats running knee, Shell Shock, and Dirty Deeds, with Ambrose getting the elimination of the Director of Operations.
The Miz draws #15, but is hesitant to enter given the star power in the ring. Thankfully for him, Ambrose attacks Ryback first, meaning it's not a handicap match. Miz renews hostilities with Bryan in one corner. Damien Mizdow is next at #16 and immediately aids Miz on Bryan. Ryback and Ambrose get the majority of the ring to show off, with the crowd likely behind Ambrose as they go back and forth. Goldust draws #17 and tries to pick off Ambrose to no avail. Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan separates the Hollywood boys and manages to toss Miz out of the ring. Mizdow sees Miz on the floor and panics, wondering what he's supposed to do next, but before we find out, Bryan tosses him out as well.
Cesaro enters at #18 and goes right after Goldust, swinging him for 20+ rotations. But he can't quite get Goldust out of the ring, as Ambrose begins pounding away. Ryback and Bryan have a mini-match in the corner. Adam Rose is next at #19 and helps his friend Cesaro attack Ambrose. Goldust grabs Rose and tries to toss him out, but the Rosebuds surround the area of elimination. No matter where Goldust goes, it does no good. Cesaro nearly sneaks up on Goldust, but Ambrose stops him. Kofi Kingston enters at #20 as Ambrose finally gets Rose over, but on the apron. Ryback tosses Kofi over everyone and onto the Rosebuds, who surf him around the ring and back in. However, this means that they forget about Rose, who is finally knocked to the floor by Ambrose. Meanwhile, Cesaro gets the Neutralizer on Goldust and finally eliminates the painted one.
Diamond Dallas Page returns at #21 and it's Diamond Cutters all around, ending with Cesaro. Fandango is in next at #22 and takes advantage, attacking Ryback, Ambrose, and Bryan in turn. He dances in the ring, but this allows Cesaro to catch him from behind and swing him, too. Kofi leaps for a monkey flip, but is caught by DDP and eliminated. DDP gives the sign of the Cutter, but as he does, Ambrose charges and clotheslines him out. Boogeyman draws #23 as the participants stare at him in confusion. Fandango gets an alarm clock to the head as Boogeyman stands over him, spitting worms on him. Sin Cara is next at #24 and doesn't change much. So let's go ahead to Rusev at #25, who clears some deadwood. Boogeyman is first out. Sin Cara soon follows. Rusev stands over Ambrose and seems ready to eliminate him next, but Roman Reigns is in at #26 to save his Shield brother. People begin to charge the prohibitive favorite, but it doesn't help. Fandango's out. Cesaro's out. Reigns turns his attention to Rusev, but Ryback tries to get both men eliminated. It doesn't work, as Reigns Superman Punches Ryback and tosses him out too.
Jack Swagger draws the lucky #27 and goes right after Rusev, reliving their summer rivalry. Bryan and Ambrose get to the center of the ring as everyone else goes to a corner. The two exchange blows in a slugfest to fire up the crowd. Bad News Barrett, though, slides in at #28 and attacks both men with punches to take over. He turns the pad inside out, but Bryan catches the Bull Hammer and slaps on the Yes Lock. Titus O'Neil is in at #29... for only a few seconds, as Reigns charges and knocks him right back out. Ambrose breaks the Yes Lock, while Rusev slaps the Accolade on Swagger... until Reigns comes off the ropes and spears Rusev mid-hold. Bray Wyatt draws #30, so the final field is Bryan, Ambrose, Rusev, Reigns, Swagger, Barrett, and Wyatt (in order of entry).
Wyatt goes right after Bryan, knocking him down. He gives Sister Abigail's Kiss to Ambrose, then goes to the corner and does the Inverted Look. Meanwhile, Rusev recovers and gets a big dropkick on Reigns, followed by a leaping superkick that knocks Reigns to the floor THROUGH the ropes. Rusev shouts at Reigns, which is his last mistake as Swagger recovers and scores a stunning elimination of Rusev! Reigns slides in as Swagger does WE THE PEOPLE and tosses him out, and now Rusev is furious and keeps the attack on Swagger. He clears the main announce table, puts Swagger on it, climbs the barricade, and splashes Swagger through the table. Officials send Rusev to the back and check on Swagger, who is put on a stretcher for precaution. Meanwhile, Bray Wyatt hits Reigns with Sister Abigail's Kiss, then climbs to the middle rope and conducts the crowd in song... which allows Bryan to pop up and dropkick Wyatt over and out.
Final Four: Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Bad News Barrett
Barrett is the first one up, and this time, the Bull Hammer connects on Bryan. Ambrose dives onto Barrett, but Barrett catches him in Wasteland. A Bossman Slam connects with Reigns, but Ambrose is back up and gets a clothesline. He tries Dirty Deeds, but it's too close to the ropes, and Barrett backdrops Ambrose out of the ring. He waves good-bye to Ambrose, but when he turns around, he gets Superman Punched by Reigns. Reigns slides out of the ring and lands the Drive-By Dropkick on Barrett. Bryan's in the corner, waiting for Barrett to stand up, and when he does, it's the running kneesmash. Bryan winds up again, delivering a clothesline to send Barrett over and out. It's Bryan against Reigns, and Bryan opens the ante with a tope suicida through the ropes to Reigns.
The two brawl around the ring before returning to it. They exchange shots, and it looks like Reigns gets the better of it. He whips Bryan into the ropes, but a double clothesline leads to a Double KO as the Authority – with Rollins, Kane, and Show in tow – head to ringside. Bryan is up first and stares at the Authority. It almost costs him, as Reigns comes up from behind for the elimination, but Bryan holds on. Now it's Reigns that sees why and begins yelling at Rollins. Bryan nearly tosses Reigns, too, but Roman holds on. It's back to square one, but Bryan keeps the advantage. Bryan lands the kicks, but as he bounces off the ropes for the exclamation point, Rollins catches Bryan and drags him over and out! Roman Reigns is the Rumble winner... but I don't think he wants it that way.
Reigns proves it when he jumps outside the ring and confronts Rollins. The two are nose-to-nose, but HHH tries to separate the two. Allegedly – in reality, he's setting Reigns up to be jumped from behind by Show and Kane. They roll Reigns into the ring and it's a 3 on 1. Bryan recovers on the outside and, after realizing what happened, jumps in off the top to knock over all three men. It doesn't last, as Big Show picks Bryan up and KO Punches him. It looks like a massive beating...
...but here comes Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to even the odds! HHH and Stephanie run for cover (as Rock races past them not giving them a second thought) while Rock goes to town on Show and Kane. A big spinebuster on Kane leads to the People's Elbow. Bryan lands the running knee on Show, which staggers him into a Rock Bottom. Seth Rollins is all alone and slowly gets up, staring first at Rock, then at Bryan. He turns around just in time for Reigns to spear him in half. Bryan and Reigns team up to throw Rollins onto Show and Kane on the outside, and it's Rock, Bryan, and Reigns in the ring celebrating. Reigns then shakes Bryan's hand and whispers something to him. We find out on Raw that he said “I'll try to fix this injustice.”
So what do we get out of this? First, you have a six-man main event of Reigns, Bryan, and Rock against Rollins, Kane, and Show, with the stipulation added that if Bryan or Rock gets a pinfall, they are added to WrestleMania's main event. Meanwhile, Swagger and Rusev have a Tables Match for the US Title (which is designed to get the US Title off of Rusev so that it can be defended at Mania and Rusev can go to face Cena). Bad News Barrett and Dean Ambrose have an Intercontinental Title match. Meanwhile, the unpinned John Cena gets one last shot at Brock Lesnar. If neither Rock nor Brock will do Fastlane, slide Cena into Dwayne's spot in the match.
And this is the lineup you throw out to get people to stick around after a free month. Maybe not the strongest, but it's what I'd do.
Matt Perri will give you Raw. Tommy Hall has NXT, SmackDown, and Impact. Scott Keith looks into his mailbag. Brian Bayless and Logan Scisco go back in time. Dock Muraco reports from Japan. And all of you continue the talk in the daily threads.
See you in seven!