The 2004 Royal Rumble match ended with Chris Benoit eliminating The Big Show to cap off a masterful performance, giving him a WWE Championship match at Wrestlemania XX.
Well, that should have been the story. Instead, the next night on RAW, there was Royal Rumble winner Chris Benoit declaring he would challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship. How so, you ask?
He found a loophole. Since he was never going to get a fair shake for the title as long as Brock Lesnar was champion and his BFF Paul Heyman was his boss and general manager, Benoit just took his ball and went across the street. This left Smackdown in quite a predicament. Brock Lesnar was without a challenger for Wrestlemania. Put on the spot by WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, Paul Heyman was asked to come up with a solution. And he came up with a whopper.
The Royal Rumble.
It is the focus of the January 29, 2004 episode of Smackdown, the first Royal Rumble match on broadcast television. Ever.
The fifteen Smackdown entrants from the Royal Rumble match will have a Rumble match of their own to determine who will face Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship; not at Wrestlemania, but at No Way Out, with the winner of THAT match heading to Wrestlemania XX.
Showtime for the Live Retro Blog is 8pm Eastern Saturday night. That’s 7pm Central, 5pm Pacific, 3pm Hawaiian, and 1am early Sunday morning in Britain. Every else, figure it out.
As usual, we’ll be watching the WWE Network version of the show. You can join us if you have a Network subscription, or if you don’t have one, you can get one here (first month is free if you’re a new subscriber) or by picking up a WWE Network card wherever they are sold if you don’t wanna give out your credit card number.
Let’s get ready to rumble! Again!
Rated TV-14 DLSV.
Wait... what year is this again?
PYRO AND BALLYHOO! Smackdown #232, January 29, 2004 from the MCI Center in Washington, DC. Michael Cole and Tazz on commentary.
We open with Smackdown general manager Paul Heyman--whoops. Pardon the interruption. Vince McMahon, the WWE Chairman is here. (Also, don't talk to the Internet.) Tonight was to be a celebration for 2004 Royal Rumble winner Chris Benoit, but Chris is not here. He was on RAW on Monday. And it's Paul Heyman's fault. And Vince wants an apology and how we're gonna fix this.
Paul: Screw Chris Benoit. That's right, he said it. Because that's what Vince would do. When Scott Hall and Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart left, he didn't cry over it, he said screw it, he'll give someone else the ball. What does it mean? Paul Heyman is gonna give someone an opportunity. Paul Heyman's Smackdown presents... THE ROYAL RUMBLE.
15 Smackdown superstars, with the winner to face Brock Lesnar at No Way Out. Matt Morgan out due to injury, Hardcore Holly is in. Chris Benoit is out, Eddie Guerrero is in. Plus the other 13 Smackdown stars in the Rumble. Who wants to make network television history? Vince? Vince? Vince? Viiiiiiiiiiiince? Smackdown has a Royal Rumble.
Some of America's finest in the crowd tonight for Smackdown.
Match 1: The Basham Brothers (Doug & Danny) defeated Billy Kidman and Paul London to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship at 3:44. A distraction, twin magic, and a top rope DDT retain the tag titles for Team S&M.
Backstage, Dawn Marie is spinning the tumbler and Kurt Angle picks a ball. Everybody has to pick a ball to keep it on the up and up. Kurt dedicates the bout to the Armed Forces. Kurt gets his number and he's bailing. Did he get an early number? We'll know soon enough.
Backstage, Chavo Guerrero Jr. is backstage with Chavo Sr. Physical scars heal, but emotional scars are forever. Family feuds do that sort of thing. And he will get revenge on uncle Eddie. And once he's done, everyone will know who the biggest star in the Guerrero family is.
We see that man in the next scene. Eddie Guerrero picks a ball and Dawn Marie blows on it. Don't laugh, that's what happened. Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio enters with guest, champion boxer Jorge Paez.
MORE BALLS! Dawn Marie with John Cena. John suggests Dawn should grab his ball, but Paul interrupts and says everyone must pick his own ball. Rhyno enters as John leaves. John says Rhyno stinks. John in a moment of continuity suggests Paul should get Rhyno some soap. TRIGGERED.
The end of Rey Mysterio versus Jamie Noble from the Royal Rumble where Nidia mistakenly trips Jamie, leading to Rey retaining the title, leads us to the following contest.
Match 2: Rey Mystero defeated Jamie Noble to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Championship in 7:46. Late in the bout, Jamie was looking for a plancha on Rey, but Nidia got in the way, Jamie got frustrated, pushed her in the ring, then pushed her towards Rey, but Nidia stopped. That was the opening Rey needed to hit a springboard senton and retain the title. Oh, and Nidia's not blind. I guess it's over between Nidia and Noble.
In what may be the most obscure cameo in the history of the Live Retro Blog, RUe DeBona dishes a rumor about Playboy looking for the "perfect diva tag team". (For the record, it turned out to be Sable and Torrie, who graced the cover around the time of Wrestlemania XX. It would be the second appearance in Playboy for both.).
Who's RUe DeBona, you ask? Well, RUe, or Ruthann, was a former Miss Junior America, a member of girl group Boy Krazy, and was the co-host of highlight show WWE Afterburn. She was also married to current TNA commentator Josh Matthews from 2006 to 2008.
A shot of the Washington Monument as we get the smash-up for No Way Out.
MOAR BALLZ! Big Show's ball gets picked by Dawn Marie, because seriously, look at the size of Big Show's hand. Chicks dig it big.
Backstage, Josh Matthews is with WWE Champion Brock Lesnar. Lesnar talks about his confrontation at the Royal Rumble with Goldberg, and Goldberg's promise on RAW that Lesnar's next. Brock's response: Goldberg's resume doesn't stack up to Brock, and Goldberg's a Brock Lesnar wannabe. He ain't afraid of anybody, and to prove it, he'll fight anybody on Smackdown, but not for the title. Brock triggered by Goldberg chants.
MOAR BALLZ with the World's Greatest Tag Team. The balls in the hopper, Shelton. Focus. A production assistant runs in and grabs Paul. Moments later, we find Eddie Guerrero laid out and being attended to by EMTs. AND FIT FINLAY! FIT FINLAY CAMEO! Chavo Guerreros Senior and Junior walk in... and all the eyes turn toward them. Chavo Jr. pleads innocence, but Rey Mysterio is not buying it and attack until he's phyiscally restrained by Finlay. Is Eddie going to be okay?
During the break, an unconscious Eddie Guerrero is loaded into the ambulance. He'll be okay, but I reckon not tonight.
Match 3: Brock Lesnar defeated Orlando Jordan via submission in 4:19. It was a squash, homes.
WWE superstars at the Walter Reed Hospital earlier in the day, including Dawn Marie, Rey Mysterio, Shaniqua, and Matt Morgan.
Highlights of the Royal Rumble match. Kane was handling business when the familiar gong went off. Undertaker-related shenanigans? Who knows, but it was enough to spook Kane, and Booker T took advantage, eliminating him from the Rumble. The gong went off again the next night on RAW following a Kane victory. Then a Ring-like video spliced in with footage from Survivor Series where Kane buried Undertaker alive. And bluish-purple light. Either Undertaker is haunting Kane from the dead, or we're witnesses to an elaborate troll job.
Josh Matthews is with Mr. McMahon, and he point blank asks: are these shenanigans Undertaker-related? Vince is all, who's the Undertaker? This isn't Crossing Over and he ain't John Edward. Undertaker's buried, bro. Then Josh asks who's gonna win the Rumble, and Vince said that should have been his first question and not his second, but he'll get that interviewing right one day.
Kurt Angle bursts in the GM's office and he wants to know who took out Eddie Guerrero.Eddie's regained consciousness (good news), but Kurt's not cool with that, thinking Paul sent Chavo to do the hit and take his place. Paul pleads innocence, saying when Eddie's music plays, if he's in, he's in. And if he's not, well, Kurt's odds just went up. Oh, and the Royal Rumble's starting.
Regulation Royal Rumble rules apply. Two men start, new entrants at 90 second intervals. Angle's the first man in. Rhyno is #2.
Match 4: Eddie Guerrero last eliminated Kurt Angle to win the Smackdown Royal Rumble and a WWE Championship match at No Way Out in 37:06. That was a fun little Rumble. The losing brand oughta look into doing this every year. Just a thought. But Eddie versus Brock... not liking Eddie's chances if I'm being honest. Full results below.
Smackdown Royal Rumble
|Entrant #||Entrant||Elimination #||Eliminated by|
|Entrant #||Entrant||Elimination #||Eliminated by|
|9||Big Show||8||Angle, Gunn, Guerrero, Haas, Holly, Rikishi, Cena|
|10||John Cena||7||Big Show|
|14||Rikishi||13||Guerrero and Angle|
EDDIE MAC'S QUICK REVIEW
All in all, a fun episode of Smackdown with the show-long story of Eddie Guerrero rising up and overcome. And as if it wasn't made clear before the show that Eddie was going to be a big deal, at least in the short-term, it's crystal clear now. The first half of the show was nothing special, but the second half of the show is well worth your time. Solid 8.5 out of 10 on the strength of the Rumble.
No Live Retro Blog next week, as it is Elimination Chamber weekend. Back in two weeks.