clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How clean was that finish? - The 2015 Royal Rumble match

One common complaint about WWE's Pay-Per-View (PPV) events this year is that there aren't enough clean finishes in the main event matches.  How many clean wins have been booked over the last 12 months of PPV main events?  Off the top of my head, I can't really think of any outside of Bryan versus Reigns at Fastlane 2015.

WWE is a never-ending soap opera and sometimes dirty finishes are needed to either add intrigue to an angle or to stretch a program out for another month.  But still, one squeaky clean finish out of the last 12 main event matches seems downright lazy.  Why should the audience tune into these PPVs if the probability of a decisive resolution to the biggest match on the card is so miniscule?  I expect plenty of screwy finishes on Monday nights, but when it happens so much on PPV it can make those events feel like Sunday Night Raw rather than must-see special attractions.

This situation really became worth paying attention to after SummerSlam 2015, because WWE booked wacky finishes in the two biggest matches on the card.  It's hard to find any bad matches on the card, but it is also difficult to say the show was great because Undertaker's match and Cena's match both had such convoluted endings.

So this begs the question, can we quantify how clean or dirty these PPV matches have been this year, and how does it compare to previous years?

I was going to start this investigation by looking back through the top 2 or 3 matches on each of WWE's PPVs this year and use a simple scale of 1 through 5 to judge the cleanliness of the finish.  I am using the word "finish" loosely, as something questionable can certainly happen early on or towards the mid-point of the match that can directly affect the ending.

There is a lot of debate over what constitutes a clean win or finish.  One example that I butt heads with fellow Cagesiders all the time with is Orton's victory over Cena at TLC 2013, where he used handcuffs to secure the win.  In my view that is a very dirty tactic and there is no way I would call that a clean win for Orton.  But others might argue that handcuffs are well within the rules for that match, and so it is a clean victory.  I can't get behind that logic at all because it would mean that any match with no disqualification rules in effect would automatically have a clean winner, no matter how many times Kane interferes in the match.  When the lights go out on Roman Reigns as he is climbing towards the MITB briefcase and then Bray Wyatt shows up to shove the ladder down, does that mean the match still has a clean finish because there is no rule against outside interference?  I think not.

However, Orton's use of handcuffs seems less dirty to me than the Bray Wyatt run-in.  I can certainly appreciate a heel cheating on his own accord to get the win.  Heels definitely need to have some tricks up their sleeve in order to keep the crowd hating them and to also garner sympathy for the babyface.  What I don't like is when a heel needs dumb luck outside of his control to escape defeat.  Rollins needed Undertaker to save his ass at Battleground 2015, and he needed Jon Stewart's unlikely help at SummerSlam 2015.  That's not anything close to portraying Rollins as a devious and resourceful evil mastermind who deserves comeuppance for his deplorable actions.  Instead he is just a really lucky dude who mostly looks like an ineffective chump.

But then there is the victory Rollins had over Ambrose in the ladder match at Money In The Bank.  Both guys fell off the ladder clutching the title, and Rollins pried it away from Dean's hands as they were both prone on the mat.  I'm not really sure how to assess how clean that win was for Rollins.  On the one hand, nobody from The Authority interfered and he won all by himself without using extremely unfair tactics like handcuffs.  In that sense I can actually see an argument that he won the match clean.  On the other hand, there is clearly an element of dumb luck at play in the way Rollins won.  Either guy could have been holding that title after they crashed to the mat, perhaps clouding the decisiveness of the victory.  Furthermore, the audience was largely confused at the finish of the match, and that's never a good thing.  So how clean was that finish?  I still have no idea.

These examples lead to me to conclude that there are different degrees of dirtiness, and one man's subjective grade just isn't worth much.  But if all of you Cagesiders take the time to vote, then the weighted average might give us some numbers that can be used to better determine how dirty these finishes really are, and how they compare to past years.  All you have to do is BOLIEVE grade each match on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of how clean the finish is.

My grading scale roughly works like this:

  • 5 - Squeaky clean - There were no shenanigans at play whatsoever, or the shenanigans that did exist had absolutely no bearing on determining the winner of the match.
  • 4 - Mostly clean - There was something slightly amiss from squeaky clean, like Cena and Punk dealing with the distraction of Johnny Ace at Money In The Bank 2011.
  • 3 - Dirty - There was a blatant act of tomfoolery, whether it be an undetected low blow, brass knuckles, or manager's interference, just to name a few.
  • 2 - Really dirty - Now we're probably at a point where the match has been affected by some run-ins in addition to multiple instances of basic cheating.
  • 1 - WTF - The dirtiness of the match is approaching the levels of Cena versus Wyatt from Extreme Rules 2014, Sting versus Triple H from WrestleMania 31, or Punk vs Triple H from Night of Champions 2011.  Either that or the match ended in a screwy no-contest.

This is my personal grading scale, and there is a good chance that it varies wildly from yours.  So come up with your own criteria and then consider the very first match on the list:  How clean was the finish of the 2015 Royal Rumble match?

Here are some things to keep in mind for this particular match.

  • Rusev and Wyatt employed a standard Royal Rumble double-team elimination to get rid of Bryan.
  • Rusev rolled under the rope and remained outside the ring on the floor for most of the second-half of the match.  He re-entered the ring after Roman was declared the winner.
  • Big Show and Kane came back into the ring after they were eliminated in order to beat up Roman Reigns, and Rusev was technically still an active participant in the match at this time.
  • The Rock ran in to the ring (with entrance music) to help Roman fight off Big Show and Kane.
  • Curtis Axel was never eliminated from the Royal Rumble match.

I'm going to vote for 2.  Big Show and Kane interfering after they were eliminated is a pretty big mark against it, and The Rock's run-in afterwards wasn't quite enough for me to drop it down to a 1.  Bryan's elimination and Axel's non-elimination had no bearing on my score.

That's my score.  What grade are you giving it, Cagesiders?

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats