Event: Royal Rumble 2011
Date: January 30, 2011
Location: TD Garden Arena in Boston, Massachusetts
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Last Eliminated: Santino Marella
Iron Man: CM Punk
Quickest Out: Tyler Reks
Most Eliminations: John Cena
For one year only, WWE decided to go with the gimmick of adding an additional 10 wrestlers for the Rumble match. The idea, of course, is that 40 is better than 30. This also meant it set the record for the longest Rumble match in history and CM Punk was the Iron Man starting at the number one spot.
How he did so was great, though, because he was the leader of the New Nexus at the time and after surviving the early stages of the match without any of his underlings, eventually they all filled the ring and completely took over the match, eliminating every other wrestler in the ring and then taking out any new wrestler that entered. This provided an excellent opportunity for the first big return of the match, Booker T.
He only lasted for a minute but it was still a great moment, punctuated by Matt Striker's excitable commentary.
Naturally, John Cena was the foil to stop the group when he entered the match next and cleaned house, dumping out Mason Ryan, Michael McGillicutty, and David Otunga, leaving Punk by himself with Cena. Then it got goofy.
Hornswoggle came out next, Cena threw Punk out, and Cena and Hornswoggle briefly teamed up to toss wrestlers as they came like the New Nexus had done. In a long match like this, it's good to have comedy spots. It's cool, though, Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick on Hornswoggle to end that nonsense.
It wasn't long after that Kevin Nash returned as his old Diesel character and got a big pop that he's still talking about over two years later. He, like Booker T before him, only lasted for a short period and was good for a cheap pop.
Perhaps the best part of this match was the swerve ending, which I would almost always caution against. But if you've got the right characters in place, sometimes it works and in this instance, Santino Marella was perfect for it. Alberto Del Rio had eliminated Randy Orton right after Orton had dumped Wade Barrett, presumably giving him the Rumble victory. His music played, they announced it, all that.
But everyone forgot about Marella, who had been on the outside but wasn't throw over the top rope.
He came back into the match and hit Del Rio with the Cobra, lighting up the arena and briefly flickering a hope within everyone that WWE would be insane enough to book Santino to win the Rumble match like this. It was not to be, of course, as Del Rio reversed him and sent him out to win the match.
In this instance, bigger was better. This is right up there with any other Rumble as one of the best in history.