Welcome back! It’s been a while. As we sit around impatiently in lockdowns around the world, allow me to bring you the 24th, extra long edition of the series. Royal Rumble 2011 holds the tagline of “The Biggest Royal Rumble In History”.
#1 (’88) – #2 (’89) – #3 (’90) – #4 (’91) – #5 (’92) – #6 (’93) – #7 (’94) – #8 (’95) – #9 (’96) – #10 (’97) – #11 (’98) – #12 (’99) – #13 (’00) – #14 (’01) – #15 (’02) – #16 (’03) – #17 (’04) – #18 (’05) – #19 (’06) – #20 (’07) – #21 (’08) – #22 (’09) – #23 (’10)
Royal Rumble 2011 – TD Garden
The undercard wasn’t much to talk about, possibly one of the most forgettable. And probably for the better, as the Royal Rumble is the longest ever on a show with the same title (WWE Greatest Royal Rumble being a standalone). Edge retained the World title against Dolph Ziggler, The Miz defended his WWE title against Randy Orton, and Eve Torres became the new Divas Champion in a Fatal 4-Way. There you go, that’s all we need to know. Can you believe it’s been almost a decade since this happened? Time sure flies.
Royal Rumble 2011 features 40 wrestlers from the Raw & SmackDown brands. ECW discontinued in 2010 to make way for NXT, so it’s the first time only two brands are represented since 2006. The commentary team consists of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker (calling his third and last Rumble)
Anyone remember the New Nexus lead by CM Punk? Well, he’s our first participant. Of course, his Nexus minions will be doing everything in their power to help him be victorious. Before the match can get under way, The Corre (Wade Barrett, Ezekiel Jackson, Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel) surround Punk and beat him down; prompting David Otunga, Michael McGillicutty, Husky Harris and Mason Ryan to come to his aid. A familiar sound of the ‘Anonymous General Manager” fills the TD Garden and Michael Cole rushes to the stand. Gentlemen.. may I have your attention please.
We hear the crowd groan as he says “and I quote”. The GM demands Nexus & Corre (except CM Punk) return to the locker room or they will all be disqualified from the Rumble. Despite playing a notorious heel, the fans chant ‘CM Punk’ before the next participant enters.
“The Biggest Royal Rumble In History”
The United States Champion Daniel Bryan makes his way to the ring for his Royal Rumble debut. Matt Striker buries every other wrestling promotion by saying Bryan came from the “minor leagues”. Heel Cole calls Bryan a dork, and Striker mentions how the internet must be loving this. Cole yells ‘WHO CARES ABOUT THE STUPID INTERNET!”. A rather odd comment from Striker suggests (Bryan was going out with her in storyline) that Gail Kim.. “it’s not really a girlfriend”. Kim had been used less around this time and walked out of the company later the same year; so there’s clearly some heat there. I’m loathing the commentary thus far, only Jerry Lawler is trying to get the guys over.
Luckily in the ring, the action is picking up and we have dual chants of “Daniel Bryan! CM Punk!”. The third entrant is Corre member Justin Gabriel. He takes forever to set up a 450 Splash on Punk and misses, so the mistake gives Bryan the chance to eliminate him. #4 is Zack Ryder, a month before spawning the YouTube series ‘Z! True Long Island Story’ from the frustration of his position in the company. 43 seconds later, he’s been labelled goofy (by Lawler) and subsequently eliminated by Bryan. William Regal enters (his last Rumble) and Striker calls him the single greatest superstar to never hold a World Championship in WWE. And he’s got old history as one of Bryan’s biggest mentors, and more recent with Punk through their feud on TV.
Classic uppercut exchange between teacher and student. Punk chimes in with a roundhouse kick to Regal’s head, and Bryan kicks him back down to the mat. Here come’s entrant #6.
Cole admits Ted DiBiase Jr has been struggling for a while. He takes all three out with dropkicks and a clothesline, before turning his attention to Punk. #7 is John Morrison, who gets a pretty loud pop. He’s on a role and is close to breaking out at this point in his career. John hits some pretty moves, but Cole stresses it’s not helping to eliminate guys. Morisson does a Kofi by clinging on to the barricade like Spiderman to avoid elimination, while Regal is actually eliminated by DiBiase. Morrison walks the barricade and leaps parkour style back on to the steel ring steps. Cole sells it like it’s the greatest thing in the history of mankind. Hmm, it’s Yoshi Tatsu. CM Punk and DiBiase don’t like him and stop his momentum.
Punk’s first helper is Husky Harris (Bray Wyatt) making his Rumble debut. Fun fact, he was wrote off TV the next night on Raw after a punt kick from Randy Orton; so he could return to FCW. He’s also the youngest participant at 23-years-old. Matt Striker: “This kid looks like this at 23, imagine what he could look like at 30!?”. He’ll be a monster alright. Harris does everything he can to protect his leader. Chavo gets hardly any reaction as he enters on behalf of the SmackDown brand. Typical three amigos sequence back-to-back, to pop the Eddie nostalgia. Crowd does pop when he finally finishes it. Husky Harris runs over Chavo with his Ferrari engine.
Mark Henry’s here. Chavo dives at him but gets dropped out of the ring easily. Henry no-sells Punk and Yoshi Tatsu’s offense. Speaking of which, Tatsu’s eliminated with a clothesline. Punk brings Henry to his knees with a kick to the head, and Harris joins his leader to work him over.
JTG slides in and has a pop at everyone. He gets between Henry & Harris and is quickly lost in the mix. Not much happens before lucky number Michael McGillicuty (Curtis Axel). The momentum shifts in New Nexus’ favour. See ya later JTG. Harris & McGillicutty work together to eliminate DiBiase. Chris Masters is out and has been impressive lately according to commentators. A nice spinebuster on McGillicutty is followed by The Master Piece on CM Punk. Masters gets close to getting rid of Punk, but to no avail. Ok, now the momentum really shifts with David Otunga entering to make it four members of the New Nexus in the ring together.
Daniel Bryan, who had been in for over twenty minutes, is quickly eliminated by Punk. Many more eliminations follow with Masters, Morrison and Henry all hitting the floor. CM Punk’s New Nexus celebrate domination as the clock ticks down. Remember Tyler Reks? This was his one and only Rumble appearance. 34 seconds of a New Nexus beating is all Reks can muster before Punk eliminates him. Ok, here’s a better challenge in Vladimir Kozlov. Harris senton bombs Kozlov before Punk gets rid of him. R-Truth goes much the same way as the others, a 4-on-1 is too much to deal with.
Punk’s demeanour changes drastically when The Great Khali’s music hits. Khali fights through them and eliminates Harris! Nexus has been neutralized temporarily. The other big guy of the Nexus, Mason Ryan, rushes to the ring and squares off with Khali. After the giant Indian misses a strike, Ryan eliminates him! Which is probably the biggest achievement of his whole wrestling career. Once again, the New Nexus are in control.
Booker T! This surprise entry got a massive pop because he’d been away from WWE since 2007. What was he doing? He’d been winning championships in TNA Wrestling as a member of the Main Event Mafia with Sting, Kurt Angle and Scott Steiner. However, it also marked a slowing down of his wrestling career. He’d soon take Matt Striker’s position as a color commentator, and would only wrestle part-time in WWE from now on.
Nevertheless, Striker’s officially “marking out bro”. Booker fights on and hits the Scissor Kick on Otunga. Bookend on McGillicutty! Striker begs Booker for a Spinaroonie. We get one! But he’s attacked immediately after by Punk. Booker goes to lift him over the top rope, but Mason Ryan sucks all life out of the room by eliminating the returning legend, much to Booker’s surprise.
Ohh boy, it’s John Cena. He’s already buried one Nexus, so could we say this is chapter two? Of course, it takes literally seconds for Super Cena to eliminate Ryan, Otunga & McGillicutty, leaving a scared, lonely CM Punk. After a failed attempt at the GTS, they knock each other down with a double clothesline.
Ohh no.. it’s Hornswoggle. He shows Punk how much of a fan he is, but gets kicked in the head with zero remorse. Punk turns his attention to Cena. It’s been Raw heavy so far.. with 16 Raw superstars versus SmackDown’s 6. After picking Cena up off the floor, he’s unceremoniously eliminated via an Attitude Adjustment. Cena & Hornswoggle super team go! Poor Tyson Kidd.. he’s got to take the fall here. Yup, he gets a Hornswoggle Adjustment!? The crowd’s popping, which I guess is all that matters. Cena gets rid of Tyson Kidd and they go back to joking around.
Heath Slater’s the next to feel their wrath. He gets a stunner and a double “You Can’t See Me” fist drop. Tadpole splash finishes him off, although the cameraman fails to pick it up. Kofi Kingston is #26, which leaves Hornswoggle conflicted because he genuinely likes him. After some reluctance, Kingston & Cena lock up. Kofi gets the upper hand with his athleticism before Jack Swagger rushes to the ring. The ‘All American, American, American..’ is going to WrestleMania, apparently. Hornswoggle distracts Swagger long enough for Kofi to dive on him.
Current King of the Ring winner Sheamus is here, and Lawler has to ask why he doesn’t like Hornswoggle. Seriously King? You cant put 2 + 2 together? He’s a stereotype. After Sheamus takes over the match, he aggressively throws Hornwoggle down to the mat face first. After some posturing, Sheamus places Hornswoggle on the top turnbuckle. Cena tries saving him, but Sheamus eliminates ‘Swoggle with a kick to the head. Back to some serious action, Rey Mysterio enters the match and slides right in to Swagger’s grasp. He escapes and spins his body around the larger men surrounding him. Sheamus grounds him with a wicked lariat. Rey eliminates Swagger with a 619.. and man has this match picked up.
Wade Barrett’s on hand to represent The Corre. Dolph Ziggler officially becomes the first man to enter a Rumble at #31, but he’s recovering from his defeat from earlier in the night. Cole says it’s the first time we have a “31 entry”.. not a 31st entry, but a “31 entry”. DAMN! Someone get Ron Simmons on the phone. The younger audience get very vocal as Ziggler & Barrett get dangerously close to eliminating Cena, but luckily for them, Mysterio sure loves helping him out. #32??
It’s Diesel! He gets a great reception. Nash hasn’t been seen in WWE since way back in 2003. For eight years, he’d been working extensively for TNA Wrestling. In fact, Nash had actually signed a contract with TNA the same month and was scheduled to return to TV on episodes of Impact; but when WWE came calling they granted him his release. Barrett looks happy, while Sheamus and Kofi Kingston are worried. ‘Diesel’ chants as he punches and boots his way through the current roster. Even John Cena isn’t strong enough to stop this train. ‘Chosen One’ Drew McIntyre is here to team with Sheamus on Diesel. Big ‘Let’s Go Diesel!’ chant. Michael Cole almost creams his pants while introducing A-Ry Alex Riley (accompanied by WWE Champion The Miz).
Barrett eliminates Diesel and the crowd isn’t happy. Another ‘Diesel’ chant. The crowd is way more concerned with him than anyone in the ring. Striker tries mentioning it, but Cole doesn’t care because he’s talking to his best friend/lover The Miz. Big Show enters and has a brief staredown with Diesel.. man, why didn’t they let Diesel and Show have a few minutes? So much missed opportunity. Striker starts talking about the NHL (he probably meant NBA) and how the tallest man to perform in the TD Garden is 6’9, and Show is taller than that. Cole repeatedly and furiously screams “WHO CARES!!?” while the Miz calls him a nerd, asking for someone to cut his mic off. Christ. Miz and Cole take over and ignore the action, telling Lawler not to talk when he tries calling it. Show uses his power to eliminate Ziggler.
As Ezekiel Jackson runs to the ring, Show quietly gets rid of McIntyre from the match. According to Striker, a dozen nations are being represented in the Rumble. Whoa! Ezekiel eliminates Show just like that. What’s with these future nobodies lifting out guys like Khali and Show? Barrett raises his fellow Corre member’s arm in triumph. Santino Marella enters and surpasses his previous record of one second. Here come’s Alberto Del Rio in a 2008 Bentley while Ricardo Rodriguez announces him. Mysterio looks at him in disdain. Commentary (including Miz) and I completely missed this, but Alex Riley was eliminated earlier by Kofi Kingston & John Cena. Miz puts over Del Rio. Alberto takes so long to get to the ring that Randy Orton attacks him from behind and throws him in to the ring steps.
A flurry of RKO’s ensue. Orton eliminates Kingston & Sheamus in quick succession. Randy turns around slowly and looks in to the eyes of his long-time rival John Cena. The clock ticks down and Kane’s music hits. The Big Red Machine fires off with strikes and big boots, turning his attention to Orton with a sidewalk slam. Ezekiel Jackson runs at Kane, who dodges by pulling down the top rope and sends the biggest Corre member to the floor. Kane goes to chokeslam Mysterio, but he holds on to his arm and uses the big guy’s own momentum against him! That has to be Kane’s shortest Rumble ever. While Rey is on the rope, Barrett knocks him off and he’s gone too. It seems we are down to the final four, and The Miz remains on commentary despite not caring who wins.
Final Four (?)
Orton & Del Rio scrap in the corner while Cena & Barrett work each other. We get another cute staredown between Orton and Cena, who finally come to blows. Barrett breaks it up and really wants to stop him getting any kind of advantage. After hitting an Attitude Adjustment on Del Rio, Alex Riley comes out and distracts Cena on the ring apron. This is enough for The Miz to get in the ring and eliminate Cena! Cole calls it a smart move. Cena sends a warning to The Miz by using Cole as a proxy. We’re effectively left with three heel wrestlers? The crowd’s died down a lot. Orton goes for a RKO but is blocked. He grabs Barrett by the scruff and throws him out. Del Rio quickly gets on Orton and eliminates him! And your winner.. Alberto! Deeeeell… Riiiiiiooooo!
Terrible officiating, because Charles Robinson rushes in to the ring to tell Mike Chioda it isn’t over as Del Rio’s music plays. Chioda tells Del Rio he isn’t the winner but fails to tell him why, as Santino Marella slyly rolls his way back in. He readies The Cobra to strike.. and connects! Marella picks Del Rio up and runs him to the ropes, but Alberto reverses and sends Santino over instead. It’s official this time! The winner of the biggest Royal Rumble in history is Alberto Del Rio. Royal Rumble 2011 is one of the longest of all time.
While there were some positive reviews on this event, I can’t help but find it more of a letdown. It wasn’t the worst though! So let’s start with the positives:
- The dynamic between Daniel Bryan, William Regal and CM Punk made the early going refreshing. I don’t think this combination has happened anywhere else.
- The biggest winner here was CM Punk. It did the job of highlighting him as a future main event star, especially when the fans are chanting for him while being despicably entertaining.
- John Morrison’s Spiderman paves the way for the many creative ideas to avoid elimination. I can’t remember if anyone did something similar in earlier matches? If they did, forgive me.
- Booker T & Diesel were welcomed back with open arms, which to many would have been the biggest takeaway from Royal Rumble 2011.
- There’s some good action in the latter half as the ring filled up more after the John Cena & Hornswoggle stuff.
- While many of the guys they tried to push didn’t get over in the years to come, at least WWE were willing to try.
- The commentary was abysmal. Jerry Lawler sounded like the only professional out there, and Michael Cole’s obnoxious heel persona rose to another level of cringe. Matt Striker wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t grinding Vince’s gears to the point he has Cole burying him. This is a prime example of how not to call a Royal Rumble match.
- Is it right that the fans were more interested in the returns of two old veterans who spent several of their previous years working for another promotion? Don’t get me wrong, it was awesome to see Booker T and Kevin Nash, but being the two biggest highlights with 38 other participants does not sit well. Also, they lasted less than four minutes combined.
- While the New Nexus did do a great job, Cena eliminated ’em too easily for anyone to take them seriously. This is why it never got over, but at least it kept Punk in the limelight.
- Too many quick eliminations. 14 superstars experienced defeat in two minutes or less.
- Only John Cena & Rey Mysterio stood out as babyface potential winners. Once they were gone, it was difficult for the audience to root for anyone.
- The choice of winner was a surefire groaner. I don’t believe Alberto Del Rio ever got over to the point he deserved a Rumble victory, nevermind winning the biggest Rumble ever. Of course, you want to make new stars and giving them a huge win like this can be beneficial. However, Del Rio didn’t go on to great things. He went to WrestleMania and lost to Edge in the opening match in 11 minutes. Yup! That was his reward.. for winning a 40-man Rumble, a loss in the opening match of WrestleMania.
Road To WrestleMania XXVII
I cannot in good conscience recommend this, unless you’re either 1) a CM Punk fan, 2) you want to see a young Bray Wyatt in action, or 3) Alberto Del Rio is your favourite wrestler. I’m glad I won’t have to listen to heel Michael Cole again for a very long time; he was so bad it made me feel sorry for Matt Striker. And with that said, if you are interested in what happened at WrestleMania XXVII? You can find my old review on the show at shared link. Thank you for reading! And see you next time. — WrestleMania XXVII