I know that this is a Royal Rumble winner that has and will get a lot of guff. Not the type of guff Benoit received, but still, more than most. I only have a few more hours to bask in my glory of having picked Alberto Del Rio, so I'm going to enjoy writing this one. Doesn't hurt that it's my favorite PPV and I was actually there.
The 24th annual Royal Rumble was on January 30th at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The dark match showed R-Truth defeating Curt Hawkins in a Royal Rumble Qualifying Match. Edge defeated Dolph, with Vickie, to retain his World Heavyweight Championship. If Edge was to use his spear, he'd lose his Title. I seem to remember Edge did use the spear, but out of sight of the ref. Miz, with Alex Riley, defeated Orton to retain his WWE Championship. Eve defeated Natalya, Layla and Michelle McCool in a Fatal 4 Way Match for the Divas Championship. Natalya had been Champ prior to this match. This was absolutely a potty/beer break match.
For some reason the powers that be in the WWE decided that this Royal Rumble had to be bigger and grander than all the rest. For some reason someone thought that there needed to be forty entrants This really rubbed Pat Patterson the wrong was as he didn't think there was anything wrong with the original setup for the match as there hadn't been any changes made in the first twenty-three Royal Rumbles. This Royal Rumble Match started with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan as entrants one and two. Each entrant entered approximately every ninety seconds after that, and I do mean approximately. Punk lasted quite long into the match as he wasn't eliminated until after Cena came in at #22. JoMo came in at #7 and pulled off the sickest move of the night! When he was thrown out he somehow, like a gecko, stuck to the side of the barrier, then climbed up, jumped to the stairs and climbed back into the ring. He clung to the barrier on the side we were sitting and it looked cool, but nothing compared to how it looked at home watching the PPV. Husky Harris came in at #9 and was like a loose cannon. He attacked people and hit moves in a VERY sloppy way. I cringed at every one of them, and the next week his head was punted off by Orton and we haven't seen him since. Henry came in at #11 and was eliminated by Otunga, McGillicutty, Harris and Punk. Booker came in at #21 to HUGE pop. #32 was Diesel. He came out and the fans went absolutely wild for him! We all pretty much knew he was going to be there, but seeing him live with his freshly dyed hair was the loudest pop of the night. Big Show came out at #35, Santino at #37, Alberto Del Rio at #38, Orton an #39, and Kane at #40. As I've said in the past number of articles, this was Kane's 13th consecutive Royal Rumble Match, breaking his record from the year before. Santino left the match due to 'injury', but not over the top. In the end it was Del Rio in the ring alone thinking he won, but then Santino returned to the ring and for some reason thought he had won the match until Del Rio threw him out and won the match.
Alberto Del Rio decided to go after Edge and his World Heavyweight Championship. Del Rio and his bodyguard, the pre-Funkasaurus Brodus Clay, started attacking Edge in the weeks leading up to WMXXVII. Christian joined his former partner to help him out, and was in his corner at WMXXVII. This was the first match fought at WMXXVII, and Edge's final match in the WWE. Edge locked on the Edgeucator while Del Rio locked on the cross armbreaker. They finally broke, then Del Rio ate a spear and lost the match. E&C destroyed Del Rio's car after the match.
Del Rio was drafted to RAW. While he brought Ricardo with him, Clay stayed on Smackdown. At Extreme Rules Del Rio, with Clay, and Christian, with Edge, faced off in a Ladder Match for the vacated World Heavyweight Championship. There were some impressive high spots in this match and Christian hit a spear on Del Rio to pay homage to Edge. Christian won the Title that night, but lost it two days later to Orton.
in late May Del Rio got into it with Big Show, then had Ricardo run Big Show down with his fancy car. Big Show was out for three weeks to sell his knee injury. On June 19th Del Rio defeated Big Show at Capitol Punishment when the ref stopped the match when Big Show was unable to continue. Henry had beaten down Big Show before the match started. On June 27th Del Rio defeated Big Show in a Steel Cage Match with Henry's help.
At the Money In The Bank Ladder Match Del Rio defeated Riley, Evan, Swagger, Kofi, Miz, Rey, and R-Truth, and earned the right to challenge for the WWE Championship. VKM wanted Del Rio to go after Punk that night and almost did, but was attacked and laid out before it could happen. Punk left the WWE with the Title that night. On August 14th at SummerSlam Del Rio challenged Punk for the Title after Punk had successfully defended against Cena, then had been beaten down in the ring by Nash. Del Rio was the first Mexican born WWE Championship. On September 18th at Night of Champions Del Rio lost his Title to Cena, but on October 2nd Del Rio won it back by defeating Punk and Cena in a Hell In A Cell Match at the Hell In A Cell PPV. On October 23rd at Vengeance Del Rio retained against Cena in a Last Man Standing Match, but there was interference by Miz and R-Truth.
At Survivor Series Del Rio lost the WWE Championship to Punk. He had a rematch on the November 28th episode of RAW, but was unable to defeat Punk. At the TLC PPV Del Rio again failed to win back the WWE Championship in a Triple Threat Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match against Punk and Miz. The next night on RAW Del Rio suffered a torn groin muscle that required surgery. He's been out of action since.
A lot of people thought the Royal Rumble Match was great, others really didn't like how it went down with forty people and and that a virtual nobody won the match, but I think it was a great way to do things, push someone fresh and new. I have to admit that Del Rio hasn't lived up to the potential that I had hoped for. He seems to do better when chasing a Title belt than when he's actually holding it. Maybe when he returns – hopefully not tonight at the Royal Rumble to again win the Royal Rumble Match – he'll be able to drop his single note promos and push through that ceiling he's been stuck under.