These days there is so much to watch. On Monday nights, there’s a three-hour episode of Monday Night RAW. Tuesdays, there’s Smackdown, and the many small shows that follow it (205 Live, Mixed Match Challenge, etc.). On Wednesday there is NXT, NXT UK and tournaments sometimes put on by WWE. Of course, there is also many PPV’s a year on Sundays as well. That just scratches the surface, as there are many promotions worth watching these days as well. You always have the chance to think about the past but you never get to relive it. It’s not that you physically can’t do so, because the WWE Network has nearly every show in their database. It’s that you don’t have the time. You’re too busy staying with the times to live in the past, even just a little. So, this is where this new series comes in. Looking back a decade you can see where the WWE was in 2009. Personally, I thought 2009 was the best year for me to do this. It’s the first full year that I started watching wrestling. I look back on the shows fondly, but who knows how they hold up, or if they were good in the first place. Since we will follow a timeline that started in January, the first review will be of the 2009 Royal Rumble.
Leading up to the Rumble there were many storylines that were taking shape even into the final segments of go-home shows. On RAW the main story that was carried out in the final weeks had no involvement in the Rumble. The go-home RAW ended with Randy Orton punting Vince McMahon in the head after frustration with Stephanie McMahon as a general manager. He was stretchered off as the show came to a close. Orton’s faction called “Legacy” which was himself and his two henchmen Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase had only formed recently. They were chosen to be in Randy’s group through tests. Sim Snuka would have been in the faction if it wasn’t for Cody getting the pinfall in a tag match against Cryme Tyme.
The RAW storyline that tied into the Rumble was John Cena versus JBL. JBL had recently hired Shawn Michaels as his client since Michaels had run into financial issues. This was their way of showing how Shawn had sold out. In the contract signing before this fight, Cena tried to convince Michaels that he is better than this.
Jeff Hardy’s life was being ruined by who everyone presumed was Edge. One week he was involved in a car crash, and the next week he got hit by pyrotechnics on his way to the ring for Edge’s talking segment “The Cutting Edge.”
In 2009 the commercialized version of ECW was on its final legs. The show died out in 2010 and turns into the original game show version of NXT. Heading into the Royal Rumble ECW had a new heel champion in Jack Swagger. Swagger defeated Matt Hardy on ECW TV two weeks before the PPV, using an exposed turnbuckle to help pick up the victory. Matt Hardy gets a rematch at the Royal Rumble. Also, the final match besides the Rumble itself was the WWE Women’s Championship being defended by Beth Phoenix against Melina. This feud seemed to play such a background role in the buildup to the PPV that I honestly didn’t even know it was on the card.
The opening of the Royal Rumble PPV had a compilation of old Rumble matches to the tune of “Let It Rock” by Kevin Rudolf. And also, despite Orton in any big matches, the video package diverts into the recent Orton rivalry. After that, we go right to the commentary table who say the show will go on despite Vince’s current condition. After that, we get the usual pyrotechnic show at the start. The no longer open Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan was the host for this event. The stage includes a road on the floor that leads to the ring. The Wrestlemania 25 logo is opposite to the stage, which is a tradition for WWE starting at the Rumble every year.
Matt Hardy vs. Jack Swagger (ECW Championship Match)
The first match on the show is Matt Hardy versus Jack Swagger. As mentioned before, this is Hardy’s rematch after being defeated on ECW TV two weeks before. Early on in the match, Matt was swarming Swagger, making him leave the ring for a breather at one point. After Swagger targeted Hardy’s left arm early on, Hardy was basically fighting with one and a half arms. Late in the match, Hardy hit a moonsault for a two count. After reversing many moves, Swagger threw Matt into the post, then hit a Gutwrench Powerbomb to retain the belt clean in 10:27. Hardy looked defeated, maybe even crying when leaving the ring. Not sure what made them think this would be a good way to start the show. It feels odd that Swagger felt the need to cheat in his first match against Matt yet cheat in this one. We went from thinking that Swagger was a cheating heel who wasn’t as good as a title would make most people, to cleanly considering him the champion. The match itself wasn’t horrible but just made no sense.
Melina vs. Beth Phoenix w/ Santino Marella (WWE Women’s Championship Match)
Before the next match, we see a clip of when Randy Orton entered the building tonight. I was surprised by how much they were playing up this storyline despite it not having much significance on this card. It becomes huge later in the year, but not right now. The next match was Melina versus Beth Phoenix. In this match Beth did some interesting submission where she stretched Melina’s leg backward, making her kick herself in the back of the head. Other than that, this match had nothing. Melina pulled a quick one and won the match via roll-up in 5:57 to become the new Women’s Champion. Feels like WWE got their two least interesting matches out of the way quickly.
JBL w/ Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena (World Heavyweight Championship Match)
Before our next match, we have a promo package recapping the relationship between Shawn Michaels and JBL. Backstage JBL promises Michaels that if he wins tonight Shawn will have a spot in the Rumble. As JBL leaves the room The Undertaker comes in and tells Michaels that “sometimes it’s hell gettin’ to heaven.” This is (I think) the first encounter between these two, which matters in the coming months. Despite this being RAW’s title match, it feels almost like an afterthought because of how much attention the Orton vs. McMahons segment is going. As the match was happening Michael was watching at ringside with a dead expression. JBL was having such early match success that the commentary team thought that Michaels might not have to do anything to help JBL win. Cena landed a Five Knuckle Shuffle then tried for an Attitude Adjustment only for JBL to escape. Moments later JBL found himself in an STF. Cena let go of the hold after Michaels distracted the ref by holding the ropes. After JBL escaped another AA, he accidentally kicked the ref, knocking him down. As the ref was down Michaels came into the ring and was set up to give a Sweet Chin Music. You expect him to give it to Cena, but instead, he gives it to JBL. Before leaving the ring he gives Cena a Sweet Chin Music as well. He put JBL’s arm over Cena, letting a ref that came from the back do the count. Cena surprisingly kicked out which let the match continue. Cena picked up JBL and hit an Attitude Adjustment to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in 15:34.
The match was fought at a very slow speed but it was obvious to tell the story of Michaels at ringside. I can’t explain why Michaels seemingly changed his mind, but I can assume that will be explained in coming weeks. While I feel the reason that Michaels is in this storyline seems odd, I thought this specific match did a good job at explaining it. Besides the story, there wasn’t much to say about the wrestling.
Jeff Hardy vs. Edge w/ Chavo Guerrero (WWE Championship Match) (No Disqualification Match)
The next match was the biggest match coming from the Smackdown brand. Hardy got the unconventional champion first introduction which Jim Ross pointed out. Before Edge came out Vicky Guerrero came out and said that the match will now be a No Disqualification match. Chavo was at ringside in support of Edge.
Right out of the gates Jeff was all over Edge. Jeff was the first to test the no DQ rule by going for a chair but wasn’t able to use it. Edge became dominant after taking Hardy outside of the ring, including a spot where he hit Hardy’s head on each commentary table once. Hardy did a Twist of Fate on the ring apron which looked painful for Hardy. After that, he tore apart the RAW commentary table and took out a ladder. You can see what’s coming next. Hardy went to the top of the ladder but got distracted by Chavo Guerrero. Hardy did a Frogsplash off of the ladder onto Guerrero, who was on the table. This took Chavo out of the situation at least for the moment even though he was watching the match from a distance for most of the time. Hardy did a crossbody off the top rope to Edge for a two count. Edge tore a turnbuckle pad off of a corner and then tried using it, but Hardy instead used the corner for a Whisper In The Wind. Edge reversed a Twist of Fate into a DDT where Hardy kicked out too late, but in storyline kicked out in time. Edge was able to use his exposed turnbuckle while reversing a move for another close count. Edge was setting up for a Spear, but Hardy reversed it into a very informal Twist of Fate. Hardy then went to the top for a Swanton Bomb, with Vicky Guerrero trying to interfere. She failed to stop the move but pulled the ref out during the count. Matt Hardy came out with a chair in what looked like to be in support of Jeff. He gave Jeff a chair then went and got his own. He then hit Jeff in the head with his chair. This allowed Edge to get the win in 19:27. Matt left the arena with a deadpan expression.
Well, there’s your next big non-title Smackdown program. The match wasn’t amazing but the storytelling was well done. The commentary team gave the finish the silence treatment for a good minute which made it a little more dramatic. Chavo felt sort of useless in this match even when you take into account his commentary table spot. Him sitting there obediently for most of the match made sense because it was completely within the ruleset for him to intervene at any point. Backstage before the main event, Randy Orton is being interviewed. He is asked about if the McMahon’s will take legal action on Monday against him. Chris Jericho shoos off the interviewer. Jericho sides with Orton on the McMahons issue. Jericho says he thinks this is Orton’s last night working for the WWE. What I found interesting was what Dave Meltzer reported. In the Observer Newsletter a week after the show he said the plan was for Christian to interfere, but that was changed since it would be too obvious. There was even “we want Christian” chants at the start of the match.
2009 Royal Rumble Match
After playing the “By The Numbers” video, we had the main event of the evening, the Royal Rumble match. The first two entrants were 1. Rey Mysterio and 2. John Morrison. Mysterio found himself nearly eliminated early on but fought out of it and delivered a Crossbody and Huricanrana. Morrison almost got eliminated before the third entrant of the Rumble came in. Entrant number three was 3. Carlito. He did a Springboard Moonsault to Morrison early into his appearance. 4. MVP. MVP just picked up his first win in a long time this week on Smackdown. 5. The Great Khali. Khali did a spot where he beat everyone down individually then got his cheer in. Khali hit a Punjabi Plunge on Carlito. 6. Vladimir Kozlov. Kozlov battled Khali since they were the two biggest and standing guys in the ring. Kozlov made the first elimination of the match, taking out Khali. MVP got taken out after thinking he could mount an offense on Kozlov. Carlito was taken out moments later by Kozlov as well. 7. Triple H. The first big name of the match was Triple H. HHH took out Kozlov after they squared off for a minute. 8. Randy Orton. Orton went right after HHH while Morrison and Mysterio hung out at ringside. HHH reversed an RKO into a Pedigree, but the move was stopped by Morrison. Mysterio hit the 619 on Morrison. 9. JTG. JTG comes in at #9 after winning a coin toss with Shad Gaspard. As JTG ran to the ring Shad found out both sides of the coin was a head. 10. Ted DiBiase. Despite Orton being near elimination DiBiase did not help him out.
#11. Chris Jericho. #12. Mike Knox. DiBiase and Orton might have figured out that they were a team because they strategize to both attack JTG. #13. The Miz. Orton hit an RKO on Morrison, Miz, JTG and then got hit with a Pedigree by HHH. Morrison and The Miz were both eliminated by HHH. #14. Finlay. Mysterio did a spot where he got thrown over the top but landed on the eliminated Miz and Morrison, but it was sort of missed because of Finlay’s entrance. #15. Cody Rhodes. Legacy was in full effect with Rhodes in the ring. Mysterio went off the top rope but was met by an RKO. #16. The Undertaker. The match came to a halt as The Undertaker came into the ring. He got a punch in on everyone in the ring. Undertaker eliminated JTG. #17. Goldust. Goldust battled with the weaker members of Legacy before being met with an RKO from Orton. Goldust was eliminated by Rhodes after he was instructed to do so by Orton. #18. CM Punk. He gave HHH a GTS shortly after his entrance. #19. Mark Henry. #20. Shelton Benjamin. Benjamin gave Punk and Jericho a Double DDT off of the top rope as they were both setting something up before.
#21. William Regal. Mark Henry got eliminated but it didn’t get covered. Regal went right after Punk as he lost his belt to him. #22. Kofi Kingston. A now bloodied Undertaker eliminated Shelton Benjamin. #23. Kane. There were too many people in the ring at this point. Mike Knox was still in there despite having no memorable spots. Kane and The Undertaker teamed up and Double Chokeslammed a DiBiase and Kingston. Regal got taken out by Punk, making Regal basically inferior to Punk at this point. #24. R-Truth. #25. Rob Van Dam. This was the first surprise entrant of the Rumble. He got a spotlight hitting tons of his signature spots. #26. The Brian Kendrick. Kendrick eliminated Kingston immediately but got eliminated right after by HHH. #27. Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler got thrown out by Kane after trying to shake his hand. Easy night for him. #28. Santino Marella. Marella broke the record for quickest Royal Rumble appearance with this spot, being taken out by Kane in roughly a second. #29. Hacksaw Jim Duggan. The second and final surprise entrant was Hacksaw Jim Duggan. He had another surprise entrance in the 2012 Rumble. #30. Big Show. The crowd seemed somewhat deflated as Big Show’s music hit.
Jim Duggan was eliminated by The Big Show after Duggan tried the opposite. Show threw R-Truth over the top rope over his head a minute or so later. You’d expect the build-up of people in the ring was for a big clearout spot when it was really for nothing. Punk got taken out of the match by a Knockout Punch by Show. Mysterio and Knox got eliminated after. Hornswoggle played as a distraction to help Finlay but got eliminated anyway. It was Kane that took him out. Orton gave HHH a draping DDT. Van Dam hit a Frogsplash but got thrown out by Jericho afterward. Jericho got taken out by Undertaker. Legacy teamed up to take Kane out of the match. Now there were only six left: Legacy, Big Show, The Undertaker, and HHH. After The Undertaker took out all of the little guys he had a face-off with The Big Show. Orton tried RKO’ing The Undertake while he was trying to eliminate The Undertaker. The Undertaker reversed it. Big Show got RKO’d onto the ropes, taking him out of the match. Big Show pulled Undertaker’s leg off of the mat, eliminating him as well. The two brawled to the back. The final four were Legacy and HHH. Of course, the three teamed up on HHH. He eliminated DiBiase and Rhodes, but in the process allowed himself to get eliminated by Orton. Randy Orton is your 2009 Royal Rumble winner in 58:50.
Orton a huge spotlight on this show. You could tell just by how much they were talking about Orton that he would win the Rumble. I can’t guess where the title picture goes from here on since Cena has the belt and Orton is feuding with the McMahons. If I had to predict, I would guess that something will happen at Elimination Chamber. I thought this was a decent Rumble match. They went pretty easy with the surprise entrants, with the only two being RVD and Jim Duggan. This was the first time that Legacy was operating as a full unit in a match, so not only did Orton get a push but his goons did as well. I didn’t understand the purpose of some guys just hanging around for so long. Mike Knox was an example where he was there for a long time but had no real purpose.
The top match besides the Rumble was Edge versus Hardy. Both big title matches shared a similar theme in that they weren’t based around the in-ring action. Both matches were all about the finish with the wrestling taking a bit of a background. The match to forget was, of course, Melina versus Beth Phoenix.