I have to admit that I’m not really looking forward to writing this Royal Rumble. I have never been a Brock Lesnar fan, even before he threw over the WWE for the NFL. I’m glad he’s happy with where he is in life, with Rena (Sable), and I’m thrilled that he’s healthy as I know how bad issues with your digestive system can be. Honestly, I have no clue how he’s able to get enough nutrition into his body to fight after having a portion of his digestive system removed. I know he still has most of his digestive tract, but even when I had the majority of mine, I struggled with nutrition issues. I also really wish Brock would step out and discuss his health issues. I know he’s an extremely private man and I think that’s wonderful, but giving such a powerful face to digestive issues can really help those who are suffering in silence. Just my personal view on things.
The 16th annual Royal Rumble, the first for the WWE and first after the Brand Extension, was on January 19th at the Fleet Center in Boston, Massachuetts. Sunday Night Heat showed Spike Dudley defeating Stevie Richards, with Victoria in a one on one match. Brock Lesnar defeated Big Show, with Paul Heyman, in a Royal Rumble Match Qualifier. The Dudley Boyz defeated Regal and (one of my favorites) Lance Storm, to win the WWE Tag Team Championship. Torrie wilson defeated Dawn Marie. Scott Steiner defeated Triple H, with Flair, via DQ in a WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match, Trip retained the Title. Angle, with Team Angle (Benjamin and Haas), defeated Benoit to retain the WWE Championship.
The Royal Rumble Match started with HBK and Jericho as entrants one and two. HBK only lasted 2:29 before he was eliminated by Jericho. Jericho lasted 38:54 and eliminated a number of other wrestlers until he was eliminated by Test. Each entrant came in about every 90 seconds. #25 was A-Train and he really beat up on people in the ring until Kane and RVD worked together to eliminate him. Team Angle worked together in this match, but when Brock entered at #29, he eliminated them both as well as a number of others. Taker came in at #30 and eliminated Cena, then Maven. Kane and Batista fought against Taker and Brock. Taker eliminated Batista, then Kane. It came down to Taker and Brock. Batista was angered by the elimination and went after Taker with a chair. Taker avoided the chair shot and nailed Batista with a chair shot of his own. Brock used Taker’s distraction and eliminated him.
After Brock won the Royal Rumble, he started feuding with Angle. Benoit also continued the feud that he’d been having with Angle which led to a Six Man Tag Match at No Way Out with Edge against Team Angle. Edge was injured before the match, so it ended up being a Handicap Match. Team Angle was defeated even though they out numbered Brock and Benoit.
Angle and Brock fought their way down the Road to WM. At one point Angle even had his brother Eric, who could have been Kurt’s twin, take the pinfall so that Brock hadn’t actually pinned him and he could retain the WWE Championship. On Smackdown on March 20th Steph, the SD GM told Angle that if his brother or Team Angle interfered in the WM match, then Angle would lose the Title. Brock and Angle headlined WMXIX where Brock defeated Angle, but barely. Brock attempted a shooting star press which is a tough move for a big guy like Brock, but he had successfully executed the move a number of times in OVW. Brock miscalculated how far he would have to jump as Angle was quite a ways from the corner, and Brock under-rotated. In trying to execute the move he crashed head first into Angle’s ribs, his face to the mat. Brock was stunned and very obviously not all there. Angle had to improvise the ending of the match because Brock was not at all thinking clearly. Brock suffered a pretty severe concussion from that botched move. I remember watching that move when it happened and I still can’t watch it without cringing.
From there Cena went after Brock for an F-5 into a ringpost. Lesnar defeated Cena at Backlash and that was the end of that feud. Earlier in the show Big Show attacked Rey Mysterio and injured him. This renewed Brock’s previous feud with Big Show. They ended up having a Stretcher Match at Judgment Day. Brock won and retained his WWE Championship with the help of Rey and a forklift. They continued feuding on Smackdown where Brock tried to superplex Big Show and the ring broke. A lot of people were unhappy when Big Show and Henry broke the ring this past year as it had been done already and Big Show had been part of the breaking the first time around, but I have to disagree. I loved watching Brock and Big Show break the ring in 2003 and I think enough time had passed for Big Show and Henry to do it. Brock held the WWE Championship until Vengeance where he lost it to Angle.
Before SummerSlam Brock turned heel and feuded with Angle again. They went back and forth until they were put in an Iron Man Match for the WWE Championship on Smackdown. At the end of the match Angle locked on the ankle lock, but Brock wouldn’t tap and that won him the match. Many say that this was a top notch match, possible the best in Smackdown’s history. Makes me want to go back and watch it.
Brock defended his Title against Taker in a Bike Chain Match at No Mercy. Heyman became the Smackdown GM, so Brock realigned himself with Heyman to have a leg up. Going into Survivor Series Team Brock faced Team Angle in a Five On Five Survivor Series Elimination Match. Holly was eliminated first because he pushed a ref while attacking Brock before the match. Angle was eliminated by Brock after an F-5, then Benoit became only the second person to make Brock tap out as Brock was eliminated by tapping to the cripple crossface. Big Show was the last eliminated leaving Benoit and Cena the survivors from Team Angle.
It was sometime around here that Bob Holly’s back was broken. Holly blames Brock for the injury due to a powerbomb, but a lot of people think Holly is at least half to blame for the injury. From watching the match, I’d say Holly was fighting against Brock when he took this move. Brock shouldn’t have put Holly down the way he did, but Holly was fighting Brock so hard that Brock seemed to have no choice at that point. Holly has a history, and did before this match, for not working well with rookies and fighting against them in the ring as well as working overly stiff if he really didn’t like someone. Holly, when working on the early seasons of Tough Enough, was the one who taught the kids to take chops as his were called the stiffest in the industry at that point.
Brock retained his Title until Vengeance in February 15, 2004. Eddie Guerrero was the #1 contender. Earlier in the show Brock took a jackhammer from Goldberg, but didn’t seem to have any ill effects from it. During the match the ref took a bump by getting in the way when Brock lifted Eddie onto his shoulders for an F-5. Brock wanted to take advantage of this, but Goldberg came to the ring and speared Brock. The ref didn’t see this, but miraculously came to to see Eddie hit a DDT on Brock, but the ref didn’t see that Eddie had hit this move onto the Title belt. In typical Eddie fashion he kicked the belt from the ring before the ref could see it. A 5 star frog splash later and Eddie pinned Brock for three.
Brock did a lot when he was with the WWE and it was a natural to have him win the Royal Rumble when he did. He was quite the imposing figure and looked impressive in the ring, but it obviously wasn’t the best spot for him. I just wish Brock hadn’t left so abruptly and under such bad terms. While I was never a fan of his, I can appreciate that he felt he had to leave and explore other options. I do hope that Brock comes back for one more match at some point. It think it will tie up a number of loose ends in an industry where loose ends so rarely get tied up.