At the Royal Rumble, Kid Kash was slated to face five former Cruiserweight Champions in an Open Invitational Match. While he may have had a battle plan for Funaki, Nunzio, Jamie Noble and Paul London, the announcement of RAWâ€™s Gregory Helms as the final participant caught everyone off guard; while the five SmackDown Superstars attempted to take him out of the match early, the element of surprise prevailed in the end, as Helms walked out as the new Cruiserweight Champion.
Held under Texas Tornado rules with the first man to score a fall becoming the champion, the Invitational saw fast and furious action from the beginning. As every Superstar attempted a pinfall or applied a submission maneuver, another Superstar would invariably break up the action. As the match neared conclusion, Paul London seemed to have the advantage, and hit a breath-taking Shooting Star Press onto his opponents standing on the floor.
As he climbed to the top once more to attempt to finish the match, Gregory Helms caught him, driving London to the mat with a vicious top-rope neckbreaker. While Helms was too stunned to capitalize, Kid Kash seized the opportunity and nailed London with the Dead Level. It looked as if heâ€™d retain, but Nunzio and Funaki broke up the count.
A short time later, Jamie Noble had Funaki trapped in the Dragon Sleeper, but a recovered Helms attempted to break up the maneuver. Noble avoided his Shining Wizard attempt, but when he went to grab Helms, the former Hurricane sent Noble crashing to the floor. With that hurdle cleared, Helms turned his attention back to the groggy Funaki. His Shining Wizard connected on Funaki, and Helms made the pinfall to claim the Cruiserweight Championship once again.
Mickey James vs. Ashley
Heading into the Royal Rumble, some questioned whether Trish Stratus would be able to fairly officiate the match between Ashley and Mickie James. Prior to the match, Mickie told Trish that she loved her, catching Trish off guard and furthering the dilemma. In the end, Trish was impartial, and Mickie James was the one who walked out victorious.
Early in the bout, Ashley worked over Mickieâ€™s arm, frustrating her to no end. As Ashley was pounding Mickie in the corner, Trish got physically involved, pulling her protÃ©gÃ© off of James. While it was the correct thing to do according to the rulebook, it gave Mickie a chance to cheap shot Ashley and take control.
Mickie spent the majority of the match focusing on Ashleyâ€™s back and neck, at one point applying a brutal sitting variation of a bow and arrow. Ashley made a comeback, however, and pounded Mickie in the corner again. This time, Ashley shook off Trishâ€™s attempt to separate them, nailing Mickie with a spear into the corner.
At this point, Ashley stood Mickie up in the corner, and climbed the ropes to pound her some more. Instead, Mickie grabbed Ashley, driving her hard into the mat with a vicious powerbomb. Trish seemed appalled, but was forced to count as Mickie made the cover. The powerbomb was enough for the three count, giving Mickie the victory. When the match was over, Mickie attempted to celebrate with her idol, but Trish pushed her away.
Boogeyman vs. JBL
Coming into the Royal Rumble, the Boogeyman clearly held a psychological advantage of JBL. And when the smoke cleared, he held something infinitely more impressive: a victory.
Before the match started, Boogeyman stalked his opponent, and JBL once again threw Jillian to the proverbial wolf. Boogeyman proceeded to scare her onto the mat, and after pulling out a handful of worms, dripped the creepy crawlers out of his own mouth and into Jillianâ€™s. At that point, JBL attacked, hoping to catch his opponent off guard.
JBL used everything in his repertoire to wear down the Boogeyman, but the bizarre newcomer took everything the self-proclaimed â€œWrestling Godâ€ could dish out. Finally, JBL had him measured and went for the Clothesline from Hell; instead, JBL whiffed on the move, and was sent crashing shoulder-first into the post. The Boogeyman quickly pounced, nailing JBL with a pump-handle powerslam. With a handful of worms in his mouth, Boogeyman made the cover and scored the surprising pinfall.
Kurt Angle vs. Mark Henry
Before the Royal Rumble, Mark Henry said that neither strength nor speed nor technical ability could beat him. However, at the end of the Royal Rumble, it was a little bit of chicanery that helped Kurt Angle defeat Henry to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
Early in the match, the two men seemed at a stalemate as Angle tried to figure out a way to take down his larger opponent. Instead, he found himself getting caught by the Worldâ€™s Strongest Man and dumped to the floor, where Daivari was more than happy to take a few shots at his former client.
After that assault, Henry controlled Angle using his power, but the champion managed to apply the Ankle Lock. Much like on SmackDown, Henry used his power to escape. After Henry kicked out of a pinfall following an Angle Slam, the champion locked in the Ankle Lock once more. Daivari jumped up on the apron, drawing the refereeâ€™s attention, and when Henry broke the hold a second time, he sent Angle crashing into the referee.
At this point, Kurt switched strategies, and went outside the ring for a chair. Daivari attempted to stop him, but caught a chair shot for his troubles. However, when Kurt attempted to use the weapon, Henry blocked his attempt, and tossed Angle to the mat. As Henry advanced though, the crafty champion gave him a low blow, followed by two chair shots, the last of which felled the Worldâ€™s Strongest Man.
After Henry kicked out of the subsequent pinfall attempt, Angle went over and untied one of the turnbuckle pads on the middle rope. Angle ended up in that corner, but as Henry charged, the champion sidestepped and tripped him, sending the Worldâ€™s Strongest Man face first into the exposed steel. Angle then rolled up his opponent, and with his hands on the ropes for leverage, got the three count to retain the gold.
Angleâ€™s celebration was cut short, however. As he stood in the ring, the familiar gong of the Undertaker was heard, and the Deadman rode to the entranceway on a horse-drawn cart. As the Deadman stared down the champion, he gestured to the heavens and sent lightning bolts crashing down into the ring. As Angle stood amazed, the ropes fell down and the ring collapsed. In the end, the World Heavyweight Champion stood in the ruins with a look of bewilderment on his face as the Deadman turned and walked away.
John Cena vs. Edge
Coming into the Royal Rumble, Edge proclaimed that he would not be a transitional champion. Unfortunately for the Rated R Superstar, his 15 minutes of fame lasted exactly three weeks, and John Cena was the one who walked out of the Royal Rumble as WWE Champion.
Early in the bout, Cena had the champion off guard, and he was forced to retreat to the floor on multiple occasions. Cena finally had enough and followed him, but Edge used Lita as a decoy, allowing the champion to get in a cheap shot and take the advantage. Edge speared Cena into the steel ring stairs, and following a baseball slide that sent Cena into the crowd, the former champion barely beat the count into the ring.
From there, Edge remained in control, and at one point set Cena on the top rope. Edge followed him up, but was subsequently pushed down. Cena then went for a splash, but Edge moved away and regained control. Cena would later come back and try the F-U, but an eye gouge turned the tide towards the champion once more.
As the match headed to conclusion, Cena made his comeback, and hit the champion with everything in his repertoire. As Cena went for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, Lita jumped up on the apron to draw his attention. Edge recovered as Lita and Cena argued, but when the champion charged, Cena sidestepped and Edge ran into Lita. Cena then hoisted the stunned champion up, hitting the F-U. Not content with that, Cena applied the STFU to the champion. Stuck in the center of the ring, the Rated R Superstar was forced to tap out, and Cena claimed the WWE Championship for the second time.
The Royal Rumble Match
Only twice in history has the man who drew No. 1 gone on to win the Royal Rumble; never, however, had the man who started with him at No. 2 gone on to be victorious. In the 19th edition of the Rumble, that benchmark fell by the wayside, as No. 2 entrant Rey Mysterio went the distance to claim the main event of WrestleMania 22.
As the match began, Mysterio and No. 1 entrant Triple H were paired off. The two battled back and forth until Simon Dean entered at No. 3. He immediately went after Rey, seemingly looking to Triple H for acceptance. Instead, The Game attacked Simon, and with a recovered Reyâ€™s help, the unlikely allies tossed the fitness guru out of the match. No. 4 entrant Psicosis suffered the same fate, until Ric Flair entered the match at No. 5.
Flair came in with fists flying, but the wily veteran made a rookie mistake by charging Triple H as he stood near the ropes. The Cerebral Assassin simply sidestepped the charge, and sent Flair crashing to the floor. As Rey lay beaten in the corner, the barrage continued as Big Show drew No. 6. Show hammered everything in sight, even eliminating No. 7 entrant Coach with a swat of his hand. When partner and fellow World Tag Team Champion Kane entered the match at No. 9, it seemed like the monstrous duo would conquer everyone.
After teaming up to eliminate Lashley, Show & Kane surprised everyone by going after each other, leaving the beaten down Game and Mysterio to instead test themselves. However, as they leaned on the ropes attempting to chokeslam one another, Triple H came from behind and shoved both men out to the shock of the crowd.
The match continued, with both Triple H and Mysterio continuing to defy the odds at every turn. Several men attempted to eliminate the No. 1 and 2 entrants, but were unable to get them out of the match. When Randy Orton came out as the final entrant, 14 men were left in the ring with a chance to go to the main event of WrestleMania, including the two men who began the match nearly one hour earlier.
As the Rumble raged on, Shawn Michaels went on a run, causing the eliminations of MNM and Shelton Benjamin in succession to make it into the final six. At that point, Mr. McMahonâ€™s music hit, and the WWE Chairman made his entrance. As HBK stared down the boss, Shane McMahon made a surprising appearance, attacking Michaels from behind and eliminating him from the match. An irate HBK flipped out, running back into the ring and nailing Triple H with Sweet Chin Music before chasing the McMahons to the locker room. After the returning Rob Van Dam eliminated Carlito, the final four of Van Dam, Orton, Mysterio and Triple H was set.
RVD & Rey reprised their team, taking it to the former Evolution partners. However, as RVD went up to attempt the Frog Splash on Orton, Triple H shoved him down onto the top rope. Mysterio charged, but the Game launched him into RVD, sending Mr. Monday Night crashing to the floor.
The Legend Killer and The Game then decided to team up on Mysterio, stacking the odds against him even further. Rey was able to thwart their efforts and hit a double 619, followed by the West Coast Pop on Orton. Orton and Triple H managed to retake the advantage, but as The Game tried to nail Rey with a spinebuster, he spun around and used a body scissors to send Triple H hurtling over the top. The Game could not believe it, and pulled Rey out of the ring. He sent Mysterio crashing into the steel steps in a fit of rage, then tossed him back into the ring, seemingly easy prey for a very fresh Legend Killer.
Orton picked up the beaten Mysterio, and casually looked to slam him over the top. However, it was an overzealous burst of confidence on the part of the Legend Killer; as he attempted to toss Mysterio, Rey shifted his weight, grabbing Orton in a head scissors. Mysterio pulled, and as he hung on to the ropes, sent Orton over the top and to the floor to win the Royal Rumble Match. Dedicating the win to his longtime best friend Eddie Guerrero, Rey will now look to follow in Latino Heatâ€™s footsteps and become WWE Champion or World Heavyweight Champion in the main event of WrestleMania 22.
ORDER OF ENTRY:
1- Triple H
2- Rey Mysterio
3- Simon Dean
5- Ric Flair
6- Big Show
7- Jonathan Coachman
8- Bobby Lashley
12- Chris Benoit
13- Booker T
14- Joey Mercury
16- Johnny Nitro
17- Trevor Murdoch
19- Road Warrior Animal
20- Rob Van Dam
21- Orlando Jordan
22- Chavo Guerrero
23- Matt Hardy
24- Super Crazy
25- Shawn Michaels
26- Chris Masters
28- Shelton Benjamin
30- Randy Orton
ORDER OF ELIMINATION:
1- Dean (by Triple H & Mysterio)
2- Psicosis (by Mysterio)
3- Flair (by Triple H)
4- Coach (by Big Show)
5- Sylvan (by Lashley)
6- Lashley (by Big Show & Kane)
7 & 8- Big Show and Kane simultaneously (by Triple H)
9- Booker T (by Benoit)
10- Road Warrior Animal (by RVD)
11- Guerrero (by Triple H)
12- Tatanka (by MNM)
13- Murdoch (by Michaels)
14- Hardy (by Viscera)
15- Eugene (by Benoit)
16- Super Crazy (by Mysterio)
17- Benoit (by Orton)
18- Viscera (by Carlito & Masters)
19- Masters (by Carlito)
20- Goldust (by RVD)
21- Jordan (by Orton)
22- Mercury (by Nitro via Michaels)
23- Nitro (by Michaels)
24- Benjamin (by Michaels)
25- Michaels (by Shane McMahon)
26- Carlito (by RVD)
27- RVD (by Mysterio via Triple H)
28- Triple H (by Mysterio)
29- Orton (by Mysterio)
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