The show opens with Ric Flair facing U.S. Champion MVP in a non-title match, with Flair’s career on the line once again. I would say that it’s a battle of the generations here, but it seems that every match Flair is involved in is a battle of the generations. Before the match begins, Flair makes an emotional speech about appearing in the Garden, but is interrupted by MVP’s entrance music. Now some may criticise Flair for still competing at the age he does, but you’ve got to give the man credit for doing it. As an opener, it wasn’t the most exciting of matches, but the drama surrounding Flair’s current situation made up for that, and makes for a compelling storyline at the moment, and in the end, Flair came out on top again, MVP tapping to Flair’s trademark figure four leg lock to end the latest part of the Ric Flair retirement tour. Not bad, but I get a feeling the big retirement match will take place sometime in March.
Then it’s a welcome return to pay-per-view as an active competitor for John Bradshaw Layfield, as he takes on another man who recently returned to active competition, Chris Jericho. As a fan of both men, this was one I was really looking forward to. Given the emotional issues between these two, it was obvious that this was going to be nothing more than a brawl, and quite an entertaining one at that. These two literally knocked seven sorts of you know what out of each other, with Jericho bleeding for his art after getting rammed into the corner post. In fact the only downside to this was JBL’s slight mess up of Jericho’s bulldog attempt. Jericho earned himself a disqualification when he clobbered JBL with a chair, and then, earning a little revenge after what happened to him a few weeks ago, choked out JBL with a camera cable, gaining extra leverage by standing on one of the announcer’s tables. I get the feeling that these two may have a gimmick match of some sort the next time they meet.
The first title match of the evening follows, as Rey Mysterio challenges Edge for the World title. Edge has the love of his life, Vickie Guerrero, as well as Zak Rider and Kurt Hawkins along for company for this one. Now this is what a title match should be. Great wrestling action between two men who are very suited to each other, despite their differences in size, and a great way of telling a story. Edge negated Mysterio’s high-flying attack by working on his previously injured knee, but this wasn’t enough to put the plucky underdog out as he came back strongly, and he would have had the pin had Vickie not stopped the referee from making the count after a splash from the top rope. She then saved her man again, protecting Edge as Mysterio tried to take him out with the 619. Edge then finished his man off, taking Mysterio down with a spear as he came off the top rope, getting the title retaining pin a few seconds later. A few blown spots, but that didn’t spoil the entertainment value of this one.
Onto the second title match of the evening, as Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy challenges Randy Orton for the WWE title, another one of the matches I was really looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint. Two tremendous performances here, with Orton playing the cocky and calculating champion to perfection, and Hardy doing what he did best, with the crowd willing him on as he attempted to become one of the few men to have held both the WWE and Intercontinental title. Hardy scored with some big shots early with his high-flying stuff, but Orton did a good job of grounding him with his offence. Hardy then made his comeback with some outstanding work, and as it looked like Hardy was about to win the title, Orton reversed the Twist of Fate attempt to score with a lightning quick RKO before getting the pin and retaining the title. A match definitely worthy of the status it was given, and I really hope we see these two against each other on pay-per-view again soon.
Main event time - the Royal Rumble match itself. It was a great touch to get legendary ring announcer Michael Buffer to kick things off. By now you’ll know that while I enjoy these kind of matches, I don’t enjoy reviewing them, which is why whenever I see one I just put my lap top down and enjoy the ride. And what a ride it was this year, with a few pleasant surprises, the first two being the appearances of Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka. Okay, they may be a little bit past it now, but boy was that a mark-out moment. Then came the surprise return of John Cena as entrant number thirty, a surprise because everyone thought that he wouldn’t be back until after Wrestlemania. But now, having made his shock return, and having eliminated Triple H to book his main event slot at the biggest show of the year, it will certainly be interesting to see how he performs over the next few weeks, and it’s a safe bet that he’ll now renew his rivalry with Randy Orton.
As a match itself, it was good, the right man won, and the fans went away happy.
In conclusion - the best WWE pay-per-view of the year so far. Well, I haven’t rolled out that old joke for a while now. The four supporting matches achieved what they set out to do, with the Orton/Hardy match outstanding. The Rumble itself was good, but I think I’ve already said that. So the 2008 version of the Royal Rumble gets a thumbs up from me.
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