“Hey, I have a column request if that’s okay. With the Royal Rumble coming up, I want to know your picks for the best Rumble entrants by number. For example, who was the best entrant to come from the 1 spot, the 2 spot, the 3 spot, the 4 spot and so on. Thx.”
Seems simple enough.
After a few back-and-forth messages with the guy who requested this topic, he clarified that I can use whatever criteria I want for my selections. Some Rumble numbers haven’t produced a winner, so I’d have to go by who entered from that number and lasted the longest, eliminated the most people, made history in some way, etc. He also said that I could use the same wrestler for multiple entries, and I have a hunch that will come in handy at some point.
Also, I’m only doing official Royal Rumble matches. No Greatest Royal Rumble, or anything along those lines. Finally, the 2011 Rumble, with 40 entrants, won’t count, as entries 31-40 would all be from that same match. Sorry, Alberto Del Rio.
Are you ready to have some Royal Rumble fun?
#1 – Chris Benoit (2004): He wasn’t the first person to win the Rumble from this spot, nor would he be the last, but I do think he had the best year that anyone had as the first entrant. Shawn Michaels gets props for being the first to win the Rumble from this spot (1995), but that year saw a new entrant come out every 60 seconds, meaning the entire Rumble only lasted 38:41. Brock Lesnar gets props for having the most eliminations from this spot (13 in 2020), but the way that year’s match was laid out meant that he only lasted 26:24 before being eliminated. Gunther gets props for setting the Rumble record for lasting 1:11:40 before being eliminated last year, but even then, he eliminated one less person than Benoit did in 2004. For obvious reasons, WWE has continued to go out of their way not to mention the winner of the 2004 Rumble, but I think Benoit is the clear choice here.
#2 – Rey Mysterio (2006): Again, he wasn’t the first person to win the Rumble from this spot, but he certainly had the best performance. Vince McMahon won from the #2 spot in 1999, but if you remember, that was the year that saw him spend most of the match outside of the ring, either on commentary or leading the attack on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Mysterio not only spent the entire 1:02:12 in the match, but he also eliminated six people to Vince’s one. That 1:02:12 would break Chris Benoit’s all-time Rumble record from 2004, and it would last until 2023, when Gunther broke it. Even if you’re of the thinking that Rey only won because the company wanted to use Eddie Guerrero’s death 77 days earlier in a storyline, it was still an impressive performance nonetheless.
#3 – Ric Flair (1992): 32 years later, if you were to ask wrestling fans to name their all-time favorite Royal Rumble performance, there’s a good chance this is the one they’ll pick. That year’s Rumble featured one of the biggest and best group of entrants that the event has ever seen, and it featured the added intrigue of the WWF Championship being on the line for the winner. Flair had a huge target on his back, and seemingly every new entrant went after him immediately, heel or face. While Bobby “The Brain” Heenan went through every possible emotion on commentary, Flair fought them all off, and, with the help of the poorest loser of all-time, Hulk Hogan, won the match. In the NWA, Flair earned the nickname of the “60 Minute Man” because of all the 60-minute matches he had through the years. Four months after making his on-screen debut for the WWF, he won the Royal Rumble and lasted… 60 minutes.
#4 – The Rock (1998): With Benoit, Mysterio, and Flair, we had people who overcame the odds and ended up winning the Rumble. Here, we have our first name that didn’t win the Rumble in that particular year. Sure, Rock came close, being the last man eliminated, but a loss is a loss. Rock and Steve Austin were the final two here, continuing their feud that wasn’t quite “main event of WrestleMania” level yet, but was already one of the better feuds that the company was putting on at the time. Rock lasted 51:32 here, eliminating three men along the way. Because it added another chapter to his story, as well as the story between him and Austin, he gets the easy nod here.
#5 – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (1997): The first of Austin’s three Rumble victories, this one might be most remembered for it not leading to a WrestleMania title shot. Austin was eliminated during the Rumble, but it happened behind the backs of the Referees at ringside, so he was able to sneak back into the ring and eliminate Bret “The Hitman” Hart to win. Because of his antics, Austin had his WrestleMania title shot taken away from him by WWF President Gorilla Monsoon. We were going to get a match at the following month’s In Your House pay-per-view, where the winner would get the WrestleMania title shot, but then WWF Champion Shawn Michaels “lost his smile” and forfeited the title. That led to In Your House being main evented by Austin vs Hart vs Vader vs The Undertaker, with Hart winning to become the new WWF Champion. On the following night’s episode of Monday Night Raw, Bret would defend the title against Sycho Sid, and the match would feature interference from Austin to see another title change. This would lead to Austin and Bret facing each other at WrestleMania 13, which continues to be my favorite match of all-time. That alone means I should pick Austin in this spot, but it’s not like he didn’t do anything of note in the Rumble on his way to winning. He lasted 45:07, and would eliminate ten men, which tied the record at the time for most eliminations in a single Rumble match. Well, until that record was broken four years later…
#6 – Kane (2001): …by this man. In the span of 53:46, Kane would eliminate a total of 11 men, including a stretch of seven consecutive entrants at one point. It was the most dominant anyone had ever looked in a Royal Rumble match before, and it took multiple chair shots and a Stone Cold Stunner from Steve Austin to finally put the big man down. In one of the best Rumble matches ever, on one of the WWF’s best pay-per-views ever, Kane is what stands tall and is remembered above everything else.
#7 – Triple H (2009): If you last 50 minutes in a single Rumble, eliminating six people along the way, you’re automatically in contention for something like this. Triple H was the last person to be eliminated here, but he put up a strong fight at the end, and that’s what really stands out to me. The final four that year was Triple H and all three members of The Legacy (Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase Jr.), and Trips fought his way to eliminate Cody and Ted Jr. before being tossed out by Orton. Entertaining stuff.
#8 – Randy Orton (2009): Well, I literally just talked about this, so you already know my thoughts on the matter. Orton lasted 48:30 that year, eliminating three people along the way, winning the first Royal Rumble of his career. I really enjoyed the smarts he used to pick up the win here.
#9 – Drew McIntyre (2023): Some of these entries are a little more difficult when that number hasn’t birthed a Rumble winner or at least a record-breaking Rumble performance. Not that Drew wasn’t impressive here. Quite the opposite, actually. Drew always steps up in big match situations, looking like an absolute beast, and this was no different. He lasted 39:10, which was the third longest of anyone in the match, and eliminated three people, which was tied for the second most of anyone in the match.
#10 – Seth Rollins (2019): There are a few of things that immediately come to mind when I think of the 2019 Royal Rumble. First, it was Jeff Jarrett’s first match with the company since October 1999, returning with his “Double J” character. Second, it was Nia Jax entering the men’s match, less than two hours after competing in the women’s Royal Rumble match. That was the weird moment where WWE seemingly gave up on its “no man-on-woman violence” stance for a bit, as Nia ended up taking a Superkick from Dolph Ziggler, a 619 from Rey Mysterio, and then an RKO from Randy Orton before being eliminated. Most importantly, though, this Rumble is remembered for Seth Rollins winning the whole thing. He lasted 43 minutes, eliminating three people, and had to get extra creative to make sure that Braun Strowman was sent to the floor to cap things off. Winning the Rumble was one of the few things Seth had yet to accomplish in his time with the company, and this helped take him to another level in history.
#11 – Sheamus (2013): I think a lot of people forget just how big a deal Sheamus was, simply because he hasn’t been a World Champion of any kind in over eight years. A year after winning the 2012 Royal Rumble match, Sheamus was looking very strong again here, lasting 37:23 and eliminating five people along the way. It’s a shame that a lot of his early contributions have almost been forgotten. He has been everywhere and done everything with the company.
#12 – Rob Van Dam (2003): Ah, yes, the era of RVD being one of the most over performers in the entire business, even though he wouldn’t become a World Champion in WWE for another three-plus years. On this early 2003 night, though, the crowd in Boston treated him like a main event player. For 33 minutes, Van Dam really looked like he “belonged” at the top of the card, before eventually falling short and being one of the last people to be thrown over the top rope.
#13 – “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan (1988): As the winner of the very first Royal Rumble, Duggan will forever remain the answer to a wrestling trivia question. So much has changed about the Rumble event since 1988. The first one aired on the USA Network, going head-to-head with the NWA’s Bunkhouse Stampede pay-per-view. It featured 20 men, instead of the 30 that we would see from the next year forward, and there wasn’t any prize on the line. 1992’s match saw the vacant WWF Championship go to the winner, and 1993 started the trend of awarding a World Title match at WrestleMania to the Rumble winner. The 1988 event has also been the only Rumble show held in outside of the United States, taking place in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Duggan was already very popular with fans before this, but the win really made him look great.
#14 – Shinsuke Nakamura (2018): What a bittersweet moment, looking back at it six years later. He was able to overcome the diabolical Royal Rumble “14” Curse to win the entire thing from that spot, and it really and truly looked as though a (WWE) star was born that night. In the six years since he won, Nakamura has gone on to have seven World Title matches on television or pay-per-view, failing to become the champion each time. He has been successful in the midcard and tag scenes, but hasn’t been able to break through that “glass ceiling” to become a true main event guy. For one beautiful night, though, Nakamura was on top of the wrestling world as the most talked-about man in the sport.
#15 – Roman Reigns (2014): The 2014 Royal Rumble was the weirdest Rumble in the entire history of all Rumbledom. Daniel Bryan and the “Yes Movement” was in full effect, dominating every little bit of WWE programming, whether he was involved in it or not. Bryan wasn’t announced as a participant in this Rumble, but everyone was SURE he would be in it. When Rey Mysterio came out as the 30th entrant and was met with a huge chorus of boos, we all knew we were witnessing something that would be remembered forever. That crowd in Pittsburgh began to take a warm, creamy shit all over the rest of the match. Batista was a rumored winner of the match, and the crowd hated every bit of that idea. Reigns, a heel at the time, was “adopted” by the crowd, who wanted anyone but “established” talent to win. If they couldn’t get Daniel Bryan to win, they wanted Roman, and boy, were they pissed when Roman was thrown out by Batista at the end. Roman became a star overnight, even without winning the match. He lasted 33:51, and broke the record for most eliminations in a single Rumble, throwing 12 men out of the match. It is INSANE to think about the crowd reaction to him here, and then to think about the crowd reaction to him at the very next year’s Rumble, but more on that in a bit.
#16 – Drew McIntyre (2020): I know a lot of people had a problem with the way the 2020 Rumble was put together, but I thought it was brilliantly done. Brock Lesnar, the WWE Champion at the time, decided to enter the Rumble himself because he felt that nobody was worthy of facing him at WrestleMania, anyway, and he was going to win the Rumble to earn himself a night off at Mania. Then, Lesnar eliminated entrant after entrant for 20+ minutes, looking like the dominant entity that he is. What happened, though? Drew McIntyre hits Brock with a Claymore Kick and sends him flying over the top rope. The crowd at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas exploded, and just like that, McIntyre was a “made man.” After spending 34:11 in the match and eliminating six people, Drew won and started his ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA. It’s just a shame that the pandemic shut the world down six weeks later, costing Drew his “WrestleMania Moment” in front of a paying audience.
#17 – Braun Strowman (2016): It turns out that the 17 spot doesn’t have the strongest of histories in the Rumble. Braun gets the nod here after eliminating five men in 18:01 of ring time. Included in that group of eliminations were Kane, Big Show, Mark Henry, and Brock Lesnar, which obviously makes Braun look like a monster. Yes, the Lesnar elimination came after Lesnar eliminated Braun, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan and the Wyatt Family members returned to the ring, but my point remains.
#18 – Shawn Michaels (1996): Michaels made history here, winning his second consecutive Royal Rumble, making him the second man in history (Hulk Hogan in 1990 and 1991) to win two Rumbles, period, let alone back-to-back Rumbles. While Michaels “only” spent 26:10 in this match, he eliminated eight men in that time period. The biggest difference between this win and his win in 1995 was that this was the victory that sent him to WrestleMania 12, where he defeated Bret “The Hitman” Hart in an Ironman Match to win the WWF Title for the first time, so there’s a ton of dominoes that began to fall on this night.
#19 – Roman Reigns (2015): Hey, remember what I said at the end of Roman’s entry for the #15 spot? Here we are, one year later. After the WWE Universe rallied behind Roman to win the 2014 Rumble, that same WWE Universe was completely sick and tired of Roman by the time the 2015 Rumble came to an end. He was viewed as another “John Cena” that was being pushed down everyone’s throats by the WWE machine, and fans were quick to voice their displeasure every chance they got. Roman was intertwined with Daniel Bryan again here. In 2014, fans began rooting for Roman because Daniel Bryan wasn’t in the match. However, in 2015, fans were completely against Roman partly because Daniel Bryan was in the match, but had already been eliminated. Fans hated Roman so much that not even The Rock could sway their opinions. Rock made an appearance at the end of the match to save his cousin from a two-on-one attack at the hands of Kane and Big Show, who Roman had already eliminated, but returned to the ring to fight Samoan Joe. The lasting shot of the entire show was Rock in the middle of the ring, raising Roman’s hand after the match as the crowd showered Roman with boos, causing Rock to be visibly taken aback by the entire thing. As I said earlier, the year-to-year reaction to Roman at the Rumble is so crazy to look at.
#20 – Rob Van Dam (2006): Earlier, I mentioned Rob Van Dam’s 2003 Rumble appearance, where he was super over with live crowds. It wouldn’t be until this appearance, in 2006, that it really looked like RVD could break on through to the other side, as the great philosopher James Douglas Morrison once said. He was in the Rumble for 23:52 in 2006, and he eliminated four competitors. The momentum he built up here led to him winning the Money In The Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania 22 a little more than two months later. Four weeks after WrestleMania, RVD defeated Shelton Benjamin to win the Intercontinental Title for the sixth time, which was tied for the second-most IC Title reigns ever at that time. Six weeks later, RVD would defeat John Cena to become the WWE Champion for the first time. He finally reached the top of the mountain in WWE. Let’s skip what happened after he won, and move on with the happy thoughts still in our minds. Hey, speaking of happy thoughts…
#21 – Edge (2020): His shocking return to the ring after nearly nine years of retirement due to a neck injury remains one of my all-time favorite moments in my years of being a wrestling fan. If I live to be 200 years old, I will never forget the look on Adam Copeland’s face as he stepped out through the smoke in his entrance, wide-eyed, soaking in the crowd reaction and the overall moment of something he never thought he would experience again. I’m not afraid to admit that I was very emotional watching that live, and I feel my eyes getting a little misty to this day when I watch it again. If a simple return was all we got, it would be enough to be in contention here. However, Edge looked strong here, lasting 23:43 in the match, throwing three fellow competitors over the top rope and to the floor. Four years later, he’s still going strong, and is now one of AEW’s biggest and most important stars, and none of it would be possible without this.
#22 – Triple H (2002): From one great return to another, this was Triple H’s comeback from a torn quadriceps that kept him out of action for eight months. When he got injured, he was one of the most hated heels in all of wrestling, but absence apparently made the hearts of fans grow fonder, and Trips was showered in cheers when he returned. The 2002 Rumble was one of the rare versions of the match that didn’t feature a real “ironman” that lasted 40, 50, or 60 minutes. While Steve Austin was in the match for the longest time at 26:46, Triple H was second with 23:14, and he eliminated four people in that time. While he did get to main event WrestleMania 18 because of this win, that was a match many people have forgotten, simply because The Rock vs Hulk Hogan was the memorable match that night and had everyone using their hindsight glasses to say it should’ve gone on last.
#23 – Lex Luger (1994): With the only Royal Rumble match to feature co-winners, this was quite the historic night for the WWF. After a face turn and character change in 1993, Lex Luger went from being “The Narcissist” to “Made In The U.S.A.” and was, for all intents and purposes, the replacement for Hulk Hogan after Hulk left the company. Lex received a WWF Title shot at SummerSlam 1993, but failed to win the title after only winning the match by countout. Fast forward to the 1994 Rumble, and Lex looked dominant, eliminating seven people in 21:58 of match time. The end of the match came when Lex and Bret Hart both tumbled over the top rope and hit the floor simultaneously. Multiple camera angles couldn’t show a definitive winner, so we got co-winners. This led to WrestleMania 10, where Lex got the first shot at WWF Champion Yokozuna, and the winner would go on to face Bret in the show’s main event. Lex would end up getting disqualified in his match, while Bret defeated Yoko to win the title, so you can see how the company felt about everyone involved.
#24 – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (1998): Even though Austin won the 1997 Rumble, there’s a chance the WWF would’ve failed to exist if he didn’t win this one, as well. He was in the middle of one of the biggest meteoric rises in pro wrestling history here, and this win took him to WrestleMania 14, where he would defeat Shawn Michaels to win the WWF Title. The rest, as they say, is history. If Austin won this match after being in the Rumble for five seconds, he would be in contention here. Him eliminating seven people in the span of 15:58 is just the icing on the cake.
#25 – Hulk Hogan (1990): We’re back to the era before Royal Rumble winners earned title matches at WrestleMania. In fact, the WWF Champion (Hogan), Intercontinental Champion (The Ultimate Warrior), and the Tag Team Champions (Andre The Giant & Haku) were all in the Rumble, and did not defend their titles elsewhere on the card. A five-match pay-per-view, with zero titles on the line and two of the four non-Rumble matches ended in disqualification. Times sure have changed. This was right in Hogan’s wheelhouse when it came to Rumble matches. He’d enter somewhere in the 20’s or close to it, eliminate a handful of people, and he’d either win the match or come very close to doing so. In, out, get your money. It only took him 12:49 to win this, but he did eliminate six men in that period of time, so at least he was active.
#26 – Hulk Hogan (1992): Oh, hey, another Rumble where he entered in the 20’s, eliminated a handful of people (four in 11:29 of in-ring time), and he came very close to winning it (next-to-last person eliminated). The biggest difference here was the ending of the match, where Hogan proved himself to be every bit of the scumbag that Bobby Heenan had been saying he was. Hogan and Ric Flair were fighting near the ropes, and Sid Justice came up behind them and dumped Hogan out. Instead of understanding that the match was every man for himself, ESPECIALLY because the WWF Championship was on the line, Hogan complained at ringside, refusing to leave the area, before holding on to Sid’s arm, allowing Flair to sneak up behind Sid and dump the big man out. Hulk, as a face, showed himself to be the poorest of poor sports and a very sore loser. WHOSE SIDE IS HE ON, indeed.
#27 – Yokozuna (1993): First things first, this was one of the worst Royal Rumbles of all-time. Of the 30 men in the match, you could make a case for MAYBE four of them having a chance to win, and the other 26 were nothing but filler that consisted of bad gimmicks, tag team wrestlers, and international stars that had zero recognition within the WWF fan base. This was also the event that featured the debut of Giant Gonzalez, arguably the worst in-ring worker to ever work in-ring, starting a program with The Undertaker, which would lead to arguably the worst match in WrestleMania history. At least Yokozuna got to look like the monster that he was, though. For 14:53, it looked like the WWF had found itself a new heel megastar to use for years to come. It’s just unfortunate that what made Yoko that megastar in the first place (his size) is the same thing that had him work his final match for the company less than four years later. Less than eight years after this match, Agatupu Rodney Anoa’i was dead at the age of 34 due to a pulmonary edema.
#28 – Batista (2005): 1994 saw the planned finish of Bret Hart and Lex Luger going over the top rope and hitting the floor at the same time, giving us co-winners of the Royal Rumble. 2005 saw the unplanned finish of Batista and John Cena going over the top rope and hitting the floor at the same time, giving us chaos and ultimately giving Vince McMahon two torn quadriceps muscles. What a complete and absolute clusterfuck. Batista saw 10:54 of action here, but he eliminated six men in that span, so… hooray? The botched finish and Vince’s one-in-a-million injury completely overshadow anything ol’ Bats did in the match, though.
#29 – Brock Lesnar (2003): Brock made his main roster television debut on March 18th, 2002. Three months later, he was crowned the 2002 King Of The Ring, defeating Bubba Ray Dudley, Booker T, Test, and Rob Van Dam to get there. Two months after winning King Of The Ring, Lesnar defeated The Rock in the main event of SummerSlam to become the youngest WWE Champion ever. After dropping the title to Big Show at Survivor Series in a nonsensical swerve that saw Brock’s manager, Paul Heyman, betray him to side with Show, Brock would head to the Rumble in a new role on the main roster… babyface. After spending a grand total of nine minutes in the match, Brock was able to throw four men over the top rope and emerge victorious. Two months later, he defeated Kurt Angle in the main event of WrestleMania 19 to win the WWE Title again. WrestleMania 19 was 377 days after his television debut, marking the end of what might be the most impressive “rookie year” in the history of this great sport.
#30 – The Undertaker (2007): If I were simply discussing my favorite Rumble entrants by number, this would be John Cena’s surprise return in 2008. We’re talking about the best Rumble entrants by number, though, so Taker gets the nod. He was the first person to win the Rumble from the 30 spot, but he had to overcome a lot to make it happen. As soon as he got in the ring, he had to go toe-to-toe with The Great Khali, who had just spent the last two or so minutes eliminating seven people. After disposing of Khali, he was on the receiving end of a two-on-one attack by Rated RKO, Randy Orton and Edge, including a chair shot to the dome that busted him wide open. Once Orton and Edge were eliminated, the match came down to Taker and Shawn Michaels, and that damn near turned into a match in and of itself. They battled back-and-forth for nearly ten minutes before Taker finally got the win. Good, good stuff there.
I turn the microphone over to you now. What did you think of my list? Did I miss anyone? As always, feel free to hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind. Enjoy this year’s edition of the Royal Rumble, folks.
Now, let’s go to my Weekly Power Rankings before closing things out with the list of music I was listening to when I put this very column together.
Weekly Power Rankings
Josh Alexander vs Will Ospreay: I don’t think Josh Alexander gets anywhere near enough credit and praise for the work he does, more than likely because Impact/TNA doesn’t have the same reach as WWE or AEW. I’m guilty of not giving him enough praise, too, because I haven’t been watching the product as much as I would’ve liked. It’s difficult to find the time to add even more wrestling to watch on a weekly basis. I did get to watch this, though, and it was great. No surprises, considering who was involved.
Samoa Joe vs Hook: I know that a lot of people hated this (mostly the anti-AEW tribalists), but I loved it. Hook looked like a complete stud, even in defeat. There are complaints that Hook made Samoa Joe look “weak” because he took all of Joe’s best offense and kept getting up, literally and figuratively, but I disagree. One, you can’t make Samoa Joe look weak. At all. Two, nothing in the storyline would indicate that Joe took his opponent as a serious threat, and we’ve seen that bite a million wrestlers directly on the ass over the years. This could… COULD… be a true star-making performance for Hook, but as always with AEW, it’s about the follow up and the follow through. If you trust that Tony Khan can continue the momentum here, this could be a historic moment for Hook. However, if you don’t trust that Tony Khan can continue the momentum, Hook will go back to being just another guy on the roster now. We’ll see.
Pro Wrestling Free Agency: Whenever someone’s contract is set to expire, there is all sorts of speculation, buzz, and rumors about where that person is going to go next. Will an AEW wrestler jump to WWE? Will a WWE wrestler head to AEW? What about this New Japan star? How about this Impact Wrestling talent? It makes things exciting. While people are still talking about whether or not MJF has re-signed with AEW, we’re fully in the middle of talk that Kazuchika Okada could be AEW or WWE bound soon. Fun stuff.
Adam Copeland vs Dante Martin: I think this was the best of the “Cope Open” matches so far. As I said last week, though, it really depends on how you view these matches. Is it a good thing because Copeland is helping to build up some of the younger, lesser-used talents on the roster, or a bad thing because it’s taking one of the top names in wrestling history so long to defeat those younger, lesser-used talents? If you’re someone who doesn’t like Copeland facing these up-and-comers, AEW has decided to fix that, but more on that in a bit.
Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa vs Dominik Mysterio & JD McDonagh: I’m really starting to worry about Johnny Gargano’s chances of becoming truly successful as a main roster wrestler. He really hasn’t been able to build much of a connection with the WWE Universe yet. I’ve been very “vocal” about that several times in the past, so I don’t need to do it again. Good-to-great matches like this are a fun viewing experience, but they don’t seem to be helping Gargano much.
Mark Briscoe: Not only did we get to celebrate the life and the memory of Jay Briscoe again, but we got the added emotional moment where Mark brought Jay’s daughter out. On the anniversary of Jay’s tragic passing, Mark told the story of doctors telling his oldest niece that she would never walk again because of the injuries that she suffered in the accident that took her father’s life. As soon as Mark yelled “HOWEVER,” I got goosebumps, and seeing all of Jay’s kids, including the aforementioned daughter, walk out on stage made me very emotional.
Christian Cage vs Dustin Rhodes: It was their first match against each other in over 14 years. When it comes to non house show matches, it was their first match against each other in well over 20 years. Rhodes is a few months away from his 55th birthday, and Cage is a couple months removed from his 50th birthday. Both men continue to turn the clocks back on a regular basis, though, and are putting on some of the best work of their Hall Of Fame careers. Honestly, that’s really cool.
Roman Reigns: Like it or not, he continues to make history. He is now in possession of the fourth-longest World Title reign in company history, currently at 1,240 days as of the day I post this column. That puts him 235 days away from passing Hulk Hogan’s first WWF Championship reign for third on the list. If he makes it to September 14th of this year, he will knock Hogan down the list. Whether you want him to do so or not… whether you think he will do so or not… you have to admit that it isn’t the most far-fetched idea ever. Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, WrestleMania, Backlash, perhaps an as-of-yet unannounced show in June, Money In The Bank, SummerSlam, Bash In Berlin… that’s probably it as far as pay-per-view events between now and September 14th, and as we know, he won’t be performing on all of those shows, anyway. Of those eight shows, I could see him defending his title on three of them, and perhaps a tag match or something thrown in on a fourth show, but that’s it. Like I said, it’s not so far-fetched.
Daniel Garcia vs Buddy Matthews: This was a really fun match, but was one of those matches that could’ve/should’ve had more time to use. Garcia and Matthews were really starting to get warmed up. If they were given somewhere in the vicinity of five more minutes to work with, it could’ve been really special.
Eddie Kingston & Ortiz vs Bryan Danielson & Claudio Castagnoli: Matches are put together in all types of ways, and success can come from any of those ways. This was one of those matches that started slow, but seemed to get faster paced and harder hitting as the minutes went by. I’m not sure that I’m thrilled about Kingston and Danielson continuing to feud with each other, but I guess that’s a different discussion for a different day.
Pete Dunne: He was Pete Dunne, and then, he became Butch. Then, he was Butch, and now, has become Pete Dunne again. This is great news for people who felt the Butch character wasn’t a good fit, and that Vince McMahon was “ruining” Dunne after great runs in NXT UK and OG NXT. It makes sense for people to be optimistic, as Triple H has proven to be a major fan of Pete Dunne through the years. For now, it looks like Dunne and Tyler Bate will be working as a tag team, and honestly, that’s not too bad for the time being.
Chris Jericho vs Matt Sydal: There wasn’t a chance in hell that Sydal would win the match, but at least it was entertaining. It still feels weird that Jericho remains a major part of the shows, even though he has been on the receiving end of so much controversy online that it led to him getting booed on AEW programming, but we’ll see what happens.
Seth Rollins vs Jinder Mahal: It was a better match than many people probably expected it to be, but even if it was an all-time classic, it will end up being remembered because of the fact that Rollins suffered an injury during the match. If Seth’s injury ends up being serious enough that it completely messes with the company’s WrestleMania plans, the memories of this match will change even further.
Kris Statlander vs Queen Aminata: This was one of Stat’s best matches in recent memory, but it was Queen Aminata that really put people on notice with her performance. She looked great here, and it was a nice back-and-forth contest.
Thunder Rosa vs Queen Aminata: Oh, look, another really entertaining performance from Queen Aminata. This was such a physical affair, with both women working stiff. I really liked it. What I’m about to say is in no way, shape, or form comparing Queen Aminata and Deonna Purrazzo to these names, nor is it me saying their career paths will end up being the same, but this situation reminds me of when the WWF debuted The Great Sasuke at In Your House: Canadian Stampede, having him defeat Taka Michinoku in the match. Sasuke was already one of the top light/junior heavyweights in the world, and was the choice to be a star in the WWF. However, it was Michinoku that impressed people so much that he would end up being the bigger star for the company, working with them for over four years, while Sasuke only wrestled two matches under the WWF banner. Purrazzo debuted for AEW after a match that involved Queen Aminata, and while that wasn’t Aminata’s debut, she was still largely unknown by the wrestling world. Yet, here we are, three weeks later, and it’s Aminata that has wow’ed fans more with her performances. Again, I’m not saying Aminata is going to be the Taka Michinoku here, while Purrazzo fades away immediately and leaves the company. It’s just an interesting correlation I made in my mind.
Adam Copeland Finally Facing A Veteran: If you’ve been complaining that Copeland is facing nothing but young, unused talent, have I got some good news for you. It was quietly announced that Copeland will be facing a veteran on this week’s episode of Dynamite. This opponent is a 55-year-old veteran of the ring that made his pro wrestling debut in 1988. “Murder Grandpa” himself, Minoru Suzuki, is the man Copeland will be facing. Wrestling is a fucking blast sometimes, you know?
Carmelo Hayes & Trick Williams vs Edris Enofe & Malik Blade: Athleticism, more athleticism, even more athleticism, and yet more athleticism. That’s what we got with this grouping of young talent on NXT. It was done well, and that’s all that matters sometimes.
“Switchblade” Jay White, Austin Gunn and Colten Gunn: I really, really, really do not care about seeing Ring Of Honor titles on AEW programming anymore. With that said, congratulations on the new RoH Six-Man Tag Team Champions. I guess.
Potential Optimism About Seth Rollins’ Injury: Early speculation indicates Rollins could… maybe… possibly… hopefully… be ready to go for WrestleMania after suffering a knee injury on Monday Night Raw last week. We’ll probably find out a few hours after this column is posted, so this could look poorly dated by that point, but we’ll see. The fact that he apparently avoided damage to his ACL is as close to a “good” thing as there is in this situation.
The San Francisco 49ers: This isn’t wrestling-related, but this is my column, so I’ll write about whatever I want to. Congratulations to my 49ers on making it to the NFC Championship Game, and they will be taking on the Detroit Lions for the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. I am excited.
This Week’s Playlist: “The American Dream Is Killing Me” by Green Day… “Goodnight Adeline” by Green Day… “Saviors” by Green Day… “Closure” by The Plot In You… “I Can’t Wait” by Nu Shooz… “25 Lighters” by DJ DMD, Lil Keke & Fat Pat… “Way Too Long” by Doe Boy… “Raining Blood” by Slayer… “South Of Heaven” by Slayer… “Love You To Death” by Type O Negative… “Amaranth” by Nightwish… “While Your Lips Are Still Red” by Nightwish… “Storytime” by Nightwish… “I Told You So” by Carrie Underwood & Randy Travis… “Nobody Knows” by Rayne Johnson… “Smooth Criminal” by Alien Ant Farm… “Lucas With The Lid Off” by Lucas… “Sittin’ Up In My Room” by Brandy… “My Boo (Hitman’s Club Mix)” by Ghost Town DJs… “Love You Down” by INOJ… “Time After Time” by INOJ… “The Best Is Yet To Come Undone” by Lit… “Hip-Hop” by Dead Prez… “Between Angels And Insects” by Papa Roach… “Stick ‘Em Up” by Ludacris & UGK