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In what was a stark contrast to the 2013 Royal Rumble match, the 2004 Royal Rumble match was clearly the main event of that show. This match was filled with possible winners, with headliners Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Big Show, Booker T, Kane, Scott Stiener(hey he was WCW World Champion, and feuded with Triple H for the belt a year prior), and Goldberg all in the fray and young up and comers John Cena and Randy Orton, it really was a wide open field especially considering that there were two title matches out there for the taking. Another thing I noticed was that there was a clear picture of what matches were coming at Wrestlemania 20, as by the end of the show you knew you were getting Kane vs Undertaker and Goldberg vs Lesnar. They also teased under-card matches of Big Show vs Cena, Christian vs Jericho, and the Randy Orton/ Mick Foley feud that would evolve(pun intended) into a 3 on 2 handicap match with the Rock and Sock Connection taking on Evolution(minus Triple H). I can remember at the time thinking this match was good but something of a disappointment, which is crazy considering at the time I was a huge Benoit fan(which a lot of people will think I’m crazy to admit now) but looking back this match was really good. It aged far better than the 2013 match.
Standout Performance – Obviously this goes to Chris Benoit who went bell to bell, entering at number 1 and winning the match. He was the second to do so, but really the first because when Shawn Michaels did it the match was about half the length as usual with minute intervals between entrants. Benoit went over an hour, and only Rey Mysterio would beat that time two years later entering at number two and winning that match. Honorable mention has to go to a young Randy Orton, who entered at two and stayed in the match for over thirty minutes. He showed some glimmers of greatness including hitting some #RKOoutofnowhere’s(years before twitter existed) and an awesome sell job from a headbutt that would make father Cowboy Bob proud. You have to give it up for Beonit on this one though, because from the start he was on. He had a great elimination of Mark Henry, another excellent moment when he stood up to put an end to Ernest Miller’s antics, and the final elimination of the Big Show.
Surprises – At this time it was thought that surprises were a thing of the past because with the brand split each brand would get fifteen entrants, but WWE creatively inserted the surprise of Mick Foley, who jumped poor Test off camera to shoehorn into the Rumble so he could get his hands on that smug little prick Randy Orton. Also Mr. Ass Billy Gunn made a return from injury, which may or may not have been promoted. I don’t really recall.
The No Chance In Hell Winner – Matt Morgan. Sure, because of his size and look he probably had a better chance than the cruiser weight division entrants Tajiri, Hurricane, Spike Dudley(who never even got in the match), and Nunzio, but Matt Morgan just sucks. Sorry. He even botches taking a chop block spot from Matt Hardy. Seriously, the blue chipper shouldn’t have even been in there, especially in this era when their was an abundance of talent in the company. And yes I know that Rico, the World’s Greatest Tag Team, and this year’s Santino Marella/Warlord/Bushwacker Luke competitor Renee Dupree were in there, but Morgan just takes the cake. I almost gave this to Hardcore Holly who faced Brock Lesnar for the WWE title earlier in the show, but I do have to stick to form
Most Memorable Moment – The Foley/Orton brawl was off the chain. We got agents Fit Finley and Dean Malenko hitting ringside, unprotected chair shots, ultra violence and this isn’t even CZW. The entire Foley surprise and subsequent fight was just spot on and so very different than what we see in WWE today. It was believable, violent, and engaging. It also eventually led to what Mick Foley claimed was the best match of his career at Backlash that year. So a big thumbs up.
What To Watch For – Bradshaw lariat fest, Scott Stienr/Hurricane/John Cena eliminations(all three look like they twisted an ankle), Kane the world beater, Ernest Miller’s entrance music and act(New Day members and Brodus Clay I’m looking in your direction), people love to tell Kurt Angle he sucks despite the fact that he’s awesome, Rico’s tights, Stairs to Finley’s face, how much everyone used to love John Cena, GOLDBERG spears the hell out of everyone, young Brock Lesnar(sans phallic sword tattoo), roar spot, parade of finishers on Big Show, oh my god this match is awesome go watch it.