Who won the Royal Rumble last night?

A big jar of mayonnaise Sheamus, that's who.

Indeed, Sergio told you this last night, when he delivered the result of the most anticipated match of the year in pro wrestling. It's hard not to get up for the Royal Rumble, the one match WWE has to work hard to screw up.

But I'll be damned if they didn't do just that.

After spending my money to watch it live and in HD, having a few friends come over to enjoy the show with me and taking a few minutes to digest everything we witnessed, the final verdict here is that this was probably one of the worst Royal Rumble matches in the history of the WWE.

Let's break down why:

For starters, there were far too many filler entrants and the gimmick heading into the match that "any superstar is eligible to enter" was taken entirely too far. So far, in fact, that it greatly affected my enjoyment of the match.

Sure, it was great to see Jim Duggan come out and get a nostalgia pop. And the Mrosko household gave a good shout of "HOOOOOO!!" when he came down to the ring. We were also right there with it for the Road Dogg, Jesse James.

But the fact that they wasted three spots on all three ringside announcers was just ridiculous. Booker T, okay, I can dig that (sucka). Jerry Lawler, whatever, I guess that's fine. But Michael Cole?

This entire match felt light on talent and credible contenders to win. Indeed, by the time it was over, it was clear it was a three-horse race and the third horse was only a contender because he ended up in the final two.

The finish with Sheamus and Chris Jericho was good as far as the final two in a Rumble goes, as it featured more than a few near eliminations and generally kept my interest awaiting the winner. But Jericho winning was what made sense, especially after he teased "the end of the world as we know it."

But because Vince McMahon wanted to swerve those pesky dirt sheets, Randy Orton was eliminated in forgettable fashion and Jericho was taken out in a shocker by Sheamus, the one guy among the rest of the field who they can justify giving the win to.

It's not so much that he doesn't really deserve it. In fact, he's been given the longest sustained push of anyone on the entire roster. If there was a six-man tag match on Raw and Sheamus was a part of it, it's more likely than not that he was the guy getting the pinfall at the end of it. But his big push was sustained for so long without a payoff that it floundered. After all, you can only go so long making someone look unstoppable and not put a belt on him. So six months into his push, he's feuding with mid-card jobbers like Jinder Mahal.

That's the guy who wins the Royal Rumble?

This also undercuts Jericho's entire gimmick. He comes back after years away, introduces a character that confuses but intrigues the entire fanbase, he doesn't speak, he doesn't get involved in any matches, nothing. Then the first time he talks, he teases something big for the Rumble by saying "it will be the end of the world as you know it," just like the teaser promo videos said leading up to his return.

All just to have him get into the Rumble, actually wrestle, and get eliminated at the end. Just for the swerve and surprise because although Sheamus was a viable candidate to win, no one actually thought he would.

You can say all you want that Jericho not coming through on his promise to "end the world as we know it" last night is okay because he's a heel and heel's lie but that's a cheap cop out. Jericho's one line did more to sell this Rumble match than everything everyone else did combined.

That means those paying for the show were expecting some sort of payoff, some sort of something, to signify that Jericho wasn't just talking and was actually going to do something. Like clear up some of the confusion.

But no. Instead we were given nothing. Just Jericho becoming another member of the pack.

That can change tonight on Raw and, in fact, I fully expect it to. But this felt wrong on all sides. All of our predictions that he could enter at number 30 and pander to the crowd before eliminating the last man to win it fell by the wayside. Instead he entered like everyone else and got eliminated like everyone else.

Now he is everyone else ... for now.

The good news here, and I don't want to sound overly negative despite my obvious disappointment in how they booked this match, is that if there was ever a Rumble match to have a dull, uninteresting character like Sheamus win, this was it. If he does indeed go on to WrestleMania 28 to challenge for the world heavyweight championship, he'll do so as the fifth match down on the card. No one will be paying much attention to the world title picture by 'Mania, anyway, so who cares. Plus, Jericho can set up his feud with Punk without winning the Rumble match and it will be just as interesting as if he did win it.

So there's always that.

Here are a few other things I liked from the Rumble match that deserve mentioning (in my beloved bullet point format):

  • Kofi Kingston's handstand and walk from one side of the ring to the other to put his feet on the steps to avoid elimination was quite possibly the best save in the history of the match.
  • Primo's extended pause with his legs in the air on the top ropes leading to a hurricanrana early in the match was also visually impressive.
  • I'm the leader of the movement against The Miz as anything more than a comedy jobber but he deserves props for being the Iron Man of this year's match. Cody Rhodes also deserves plenty of credit for staying in for so long. Not because that's any sort of impressive feat due to the competitive nature of it but because the role of the Iron Man is often defined by how well he puts everyone else over. These are the guys selling for the surprise entrants and big names who come in later, making them look great. These two did this for a countless number of superstars and should be lauded for their efforts.
  • Kharma was great and her Implant Buster on Dolph Ziggler was visually stunning.
  • Mick Foley and Santino Marella's standoff with Mr. Socko and the Cobra sock was fantastically fun. Foley looked mostly labored and showed that his current out-of-shape self should stay as far away from WrestleMania as possible, at least until next year when he can get himself into semi-decent shape. But the role he was in last night was perfect.
  • Ricardo Rodriguez entering the match as a swerve to tease the return of Alberto Del Rio was delicious. His coming out in a bomber and spit-shining it was even better. His brief run in the Rumble match itself was perhaps the highlight of not just the match but the entire night.

This Royal Rumble had plenty of redeeming qualities but it ranks on the low end of the spectrum, largely because it featured so few actual contenders to win and the fact that Sheamus winning was just a swerve that hurt Jericho's character.

My final grade is a flat D. Very disappointed by the time it was over. How about you, Cagesiders?

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