Last Night we watched the WWE Royal Rumble and of all the Rumble's I've watched, this one was the best. After the past few years of decent yet uninspired programming with occasional flashes of brilliance, the WWE finally put on a memorable show. The storylines were kicking at full steam, betrayal, aggression and glory were on display last night.
The big story was the next phase in The Age of Orton. Randy Orton has been referenced as the future of wrestling more than once, last night was the beginning of making that future the present. Orton has been set up with a huge heel push, taking out Vince McMahon while he was in babyface mode, forming his own faction and winning the Rumble. The past few years has seasoned the grappler as he has gotten the smug ruthless bad guy act down. He has all of the tools to make it to the top and dominate the business.
And in a real shocker, Matt Hardy took a huge heel turn by betraying his brother Jeff Hardy-screwing brother Jeff out of the World Championship. In normal daredevil Hardy form, Jeff battled longtime nemesis Edge in a match that naturally worked in tables, ladders and chairs.
Meanwhile the slow brewing Shawn Michaels / John Cena / JBL combo started to pay off with a well paced match. The women's match between Melina and Beth Phoenix was surprisingly entertaining and fun. The sight of Phoenix taking Melina's foot and twist it backwards to kick Melina in the back of her own head was incredible. Great stuff.
Best of all, the Rumble itself was nonstop entertainment. Even though the outcome was a foregone conclusion (no way that Orton was going to get the push he was getting and not win) the match itself had wall to wall action. The ring was crowded with superstars as eliminations came slowly. Headliners like Triple HHH, Undertaker, Big Show, Kane, Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho spent considerable time in the ring and got their signature moves in. All the things you watch the Rumble for, surprise returns (RVD!), cross brand fighting (Taker and Kane together again!) and a conclusion that sets up Wrestlemania.
It wasn't just the best Rumble, it was the best Wrestling program I've seen in about five years. Could this mean 2009 is the big comeback of wrestling? I doubt it will financially, but creatively there are definite signs of life. Even the audiences seem to be waking up a little bit, more signs and louder chants are popping up both during the PPV and on Raw. Tonight on Raw it appears actor Mickey Rourke may have a feud with Chris Jericho leading up to Wrestlemania. Things are looking up!