The reasons I've chosen the 2005 Rumble are precisely twofold: One, Batista's win (not really a spoiler) coincides with his return to the WWE and the Rumble match next week. Two, this was the West Side Story Rumble, which is hilarious. Give the promo a watch;
This was a Royal Rumble full to the brim with big stars that will be remembered forever, as well as complete nobodies who are forgotten almost immediately, with only a few guys inbetween those extremes. It's a Rumble that featured an insane elimination, racial politics, a hell of a lot of knife-edge chops, fake nationalities and a dog. So whithout further ado, let's get ready to Rumble! Yeah, I said it.
The first man out is Latino Heat—the lying, cheating and stealing Eddie Guerrero in his last Royal Rumble—with lowrider and all.
Howard Finkel is the announcer, with a reminder of just how awesome he was. If you saw Cesaro/Regal on the last NXT of 2013, you know the Fink is still awesome, and in my opinion the best announcer in WWE history.
Once Eddie's car has been reversed out by the valet, entrant #2 is out, and it's
|Pictured: The winner of the WrestleMania XX main|
event and the #2 entrant of this Royal Rumble
Daniel Puder is a name forgotten by history, so we will not dwell on him too much.
But this was a man who had pissed off the wrong people thanks to nearly legitimately breaking Kurt Angle's arm, and this Rumble appearance was to be his on-air punishment.
Once he gets into the ring, Guerrero and Benoit proceed to slap the shit out of Puder (and he is full of shit, clearly).
|If you look closely, you can see a career ending here|
It's almost comical to see the three guys just bully Puder, while he just has to stand there and take it.
A note to all rookies; do not upstage Kurt Angle. Puder's chest here is all the motivation you need to avoid doing that.
As a final indignation, Puder is chucked over and out while the camera isn't even looking, instead it's panning up for entrant #5: The Hurricane.
|He picked the wrong day to go shirtless.|
However, he is saved by a breakdown in the Best Buddies, as Benoit decides Guerrero needs a good chopping himself. Hurricane does get tossed out eventually though, and lands on his behind for good measure. 'So he can fly!' Tazz quips. Entrant #6 is Kenzo Suzuki, another early 21st century also-ran. And yes, Chop-Fest continues with him.
Entrant #7 is someone actually relevant though, and it's none other than Edge, at a time when he was beginning to hit his prime. He chops Benoit, creating Chopception. We need to go deeper.
#8 is Rey Mysterio, who eliminates Kenzo, giving us an excellent four of Edge, Guerrero, Rey and Benoit in the ring.
Seeing that shows just how tragic wrestling (and life in general) can be. Whoa, we got a bit serious there. Back to the comedy now.
#9 is 'the Intercontinental Champion' Shelton Benjamin. I quote Jim Ross's introduction of Benjamin here because it seemed like he was permanently IC Champion from 2004 to 2006. At least in my mind he was. No eliminations before Booker T enters at #10. Then, a wild Eric Bischoff appears for seemingly no reason. Presumably it's because he wants to cheer on the RAW superstars, but the idea of the brand split is so alien to me now, I can't remember how anyone could hold strong feelings for one show over the other, even the characters who appeared on them.
|Not his best picture.|
And just as I was about to make a point about how much talent was around in 2005 WWE, out comes Chris Jericho at #11. Yeah, that's a good way of proving that point. JR points out that Jericho was born in Long Island.
Ah, there's something that was crap about 2005 WWE; the decision to make all their Canadians become American, billing Y2J from Florida, and Benoit from Georgia. There was a reason for this madness, and after the completely irrelevant Luther Reigns enters at #12, the reason is revealed to us: Muhammad Hassan.
|I know what you're thinking: Daivari was awesome.|
Hassan was a talented wrestler who was going to be pushed as the first 'evil foreigner' post-9/11, and judging by the reaction he got from the crowd here, was probably going to do pretty well at it.
Just in case Jericho/Benoit/Christian/Trish Strautus had to feud with Hassan, WWE decided they had to be American to do so, so they all got migrated south of the border.
But then 7/7 (the British version) happened and his character got (rightfully) binned.
Anyway, everybody hates Hassan so all the peace-loving Americans (and Mexicans and Canadians) team up to throw Hassan out in a cool spot. Now Jericho can go back to being from Winnepeg, you idiot. #14 is Orlando Jordan, who comes out to what sounds like one of the generic themes in the video game that year. #15 is Scotty 2 Hotty, who actually looks better in 2014 than he did back then. Benjamin 2 Button continues his Royal Rumble tradition of getting attacked on the entrance ramp (Previously he'd been punched out by Kane in 2002) as Hassan takes out some of his anger on him, and getting even more boos from the crowd.
#16 is Charlie Haas, who still had the World's Greatest Tag Team theme at this point. You could tell who the Jannetty was there. Booker T chucks Reigns (Luther, not Roman) and Jordan (Orlando, not Michael), does a spin-a-roonie, and gets eliminated by Guerrero pulling the top rope down.
Apparently they were friends at this point, but I would have no idea. #17 is Renee Dupree, who makes the odd choice of bringing a dog to the Rumble. Again, in my old age I can't remember what the dog was called or why he had one, but there it is; a big ol' black poodle.
|An oiled-up man in shorts walking a poodle and waving the tricolore; a normal sight in Paris.|
|Believe in the Simon System.|
Tazz and JR then get confused between Haas and Dupree, leading to Ross awkwardly saying 'au revoir' to Haas when HBK dumps him over. I dunno, maybe they changed Haas' nationality too.
#20 is Kurt Angle, in his last Rumble, who proceeds to suplex everyone in the ring except for HBK, who manages to dump him over the top by reversing the Ankle Lock.
This would set up those two for an epic WrestleMania match, but that's another story for another time.
Moving along to Jonathan Coachman as entrant #21 for some reason. He predictably fails completely, but manages to survive by hanging onto the bottom rope for dear life, before entrant #22 Mark Jindrak enters. Jindrak is forgotton immediately is Angle plays the 'sore loser' card and dumps HBK from the ring, before hitting him with the steel steps and giving him a crimson mask. Ah, the days when WWE knew what matches they were going to put on at WrestleMania by the time of the Rumble...
|Yes, Ruck those Fules Cena.|
#25 is John Cena, still with the 'word life' theme and the US Championship spinner belt.
But make no mistake about it, he was very close to permanently entering the main event, despite still dressing up as a mid-carder for his entrance.
He then chucks Viscera over and out, showing off his emerging Super-Cena powers.
|Have a nice trip Paul.|
While London is being stretchered away, Kane chokeslams everyone, and throws Jindrak out, because apparently he was still in there. #28 is the man himself, big Dave Batista, who gets the loudest pop of anyone so far. Good odds that he'll get the same kind of response next Sunday, but will Daniel Bryan get a louder one?
Batista destroys Snitsky and throws him out, before Batista Bomb-ing Kane and getting a huge response from the crowd. Drax the Destroyer was very over. He also presses Jericho over and out, showing off the strength.
Not to be outdone though, Cena picks up Kane for the FU (a far superior name to 'Attitude Adjustment') and eliminates him, before having a chat with Rey Mysterio. #29 is Christian, the only man in this Rumble with a woman singing on his entrance theme. There's a historical fact for you.
|And the award for 'Best Flabby Belly' goes to...|
Batista lets Flair chuck Coachman out, before moving on to Christian and eliminating him, the second Canadian-but-not-billed-as-Canadian he's tossed out.
Benoit does Chop-Fest '05 one final time on the Nature Boy, but that only gets him eliminated by Batista as well, making it a trio of Fake Americans for Big Dave.
Flair tries and fails to eliminate Batista, and he gets chucked out by Edge soon afterwards.
We have our final four; Rey, Edge, Cena and Batista. Edge and Rey have an excellent sequence of near-eliminations, before Edge finally spears him out. He then attacks both Cena and Batista, which proves to be a poor choice, as he gets tossed out by both. Just Cena and Batista left, and only one man can go to WrestleMania! (Ignore the fact that both of them went to WrestleMania title matches that year...)
The pair trade a few punches before Batista gets Cena up for the Batista Bomb. Cena makes him fall backwards to the ropes, and then this happens...
Yep, both guys fall out of the ring, and hit the ground at pretty much the exact same time. Wrestling Historians (of which I am one, of course) have discussed whether or not this was a planned spot, or whether Big Dave botched in epic fashion by not holding onto the ropes. Botch or no botch, it's an awesome moment, and a time when the brand split actually aided the story, as the RAW referees declare Batista the winner and the Smackdown ones raise John Cena's hand. The speed with which the refs do this 'spot' makes me think it was planned all along, but Batista himself has said that he messed up the finish, so this one is still open to interpretation.
|Well, this is awkward.|
Eventually, Howard Finkel announces that the match will be re-started, with just Cena and Batista. If this was a botch, they covered for it incredibly well, and if this was planned, they ran it right up to the last second of PPV time.
Because there is literally 1 minute before WWE gets cut off, Cena and Batista hurry through pretty much the same finishing sequence, but with Batista simply tossing Cena over.
Anti-climax? Perhaps.But all that madness will be remembered in Rumble History forever.
The aftermath of this Rumble saw Batista go on to win the main event of WrestleMania 21, defeating Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship, while Cena also earned a WWE Championship match, ending the 9-month reign of JBL at Mania. Both guys would become huge stars, with Cena becoming 'The Guy', and Batista eventually becoming 'The Guy in that Marvel film'.
Batista will be back this week of course, ready to take a WrestleMania slot away from a mid-carder who has worked all year for it. And he will be in the Royal Rumble, of course. Can he repeat 2005 and win it all?
|Is this image going to get an HD re-make come Sunday?|