Ten Years After… WWE Royal Rumble 2006

WWE Royal Rumble
January 29th, 2006
Live from the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida
Announcers: Joey Styles & Jerry Lawler (RAW), Michael Cole & Tazz (Smackdown) 

Silly Roman themed intro video package kicks off the show. It’s kind of weird to think that this is the Only Big 4 pay per view that Mark Henry got to headline in his 20 year WWE career. His best run in the Summer/Fall of 2011 coincided with Punk’s super hot streak so it never worked out. Here he’s just kind of an afterthought, sort of a standard monster heel of the month. Royal Rumble is important because last five winners had all went on to win the World Title afterward. Not sure if there’d be as long of a streak in terms of most Royal Rumbles won in a row by guys who would win the World Title after at WrestleMania.

Woah, they brought back the now voiceover guy to hype Edge Vs John Cena. Outside of that, this is a rare misfire by WWE’s production team.

Not sure why they went with the Roman theme. Invoking WrestleMania IX? Not a really good omen considering how that show went. At least, we don’t see Michael Cole in a toga. Cole & Tazz welcome us to the pay per view and intro us to RAW’s team of Joey Styles & Jerry Lawler and also say HOLA to Carlos & Hugo at the Spanish announce table. We’re gonna kick off with some cruiserweight action.

Six Way Match for the WWE Cruiserweight Title: Kid Kash (c) Vs Gregory Helms Vs Funaki Vs Jamie Noble Vs Nunzio Vs Paul London
I mentioned this pay per view is the one time Mark Henry headlined a Big 4 pay per view. Another minor footnote is I think this was the last pay per view where the cruiserweight title was defended. Jamie Noble recently returned to WWE and according to Cole, “has been tearing it up on Velocity”. LOL. Sixth competitor is a mystery man and it turns out it’s RAW’s Gregory Helms. Even though he’s not on Smackdown, he’s eligible for this match because this bout is open to all former Cruiserweight Champs. Smackdown guys kick Helms’ ass because we’re supposed to pretend the RAW Vs Smackdown rivalry is a thing. Cole talks about how Tazz made his debut at the Royal Rumble. Even though that moment was only six years earlier, it felt like twenty. Hard to think less than half a decade earlier, the wacky color commentator was one of the baddest men in wrestling.

This is a standard, multi man WWE cruiserweight match. They don’t really give us any reason to care about these guys. Just the most basic threadbare characters. Funaki’s wacky/foreign, Nunzio’s wacky/ethnic, Paul London is a hip/weirdo, everybody else is just a generic, angry heel. These guys are all good enough to make this solid and this seems better than a lot of these matches from this era but nothing to write home about. Helms wins with a Shining Wizard on Funaki. Thus starting the Greatest Cruiserweight Title reign in the history of pro wrestling (according to Josh Matthews). ***

Teddy Long and Vince McMahon are HYPE about the Rumble. Teddy says it’s the first Rumble of 2006 and Vince quickly tells him that it’s the only one. Vince is digging Teddy’s Louis Farrakhan look but then he shoos him away. Old man horndog Vince hits on Torrie Wilson, Victoria, and Candice Michelle.

Randy Orton is the first guy to pick his number and is psyched.  Triple H is 2nd and trash talks Orton. Triple H asks Torrie if she can open her box for him and Candice if she can hold his ball. Must’ve been rehearsing for the DX reunion a few months down the road. Orton laughs at Triple H’s number. Triple H is screwed!

Mickie James talks to Trish Stratus. Mickie wants to know if Trish will favor her or Ashley in their match that Trish is guest reffing. Trish says she’s calling it down the middle. Mickie confesses her love to Trish. Lawler be beatin’.

Mickie James Vs Ashley (Special Guest Referee: Trish Stratus)
Weird that the one Divas match on the card would feature the champ and face of the division as a special guest referee. Trish has a lot of history with these two as she trained Ashley and is getting stalked by Mickie James. I kind of wish they’d just made this a triple threat with Trish defending her title as Ashley is pretty awful and Mickie James hadn’t really gotten good yet. Mickie wins with a powerbomb then tries to hug it out with Trish who pushes her aside. * You don’t thank a referee, Joey Styles cries! Lawler thinks Mickie would really to thank the ref. And by thank, he means eat her out. Lawler doesn’t out right says this cause it’s not ECW.

Gregory Helms is in the WWE Instant Access booth with his biggest fan Josh Matthews.

Vince ogles the Divas tattoo. Victoria has a WWE Divas tramp stamp, which I hope for her sake wasn’t real! Big Show barges in and wants to show Vince his tattoos but Vinny Mac just tells him to pick a damn number. His hand gets stuck in the drawer since he’s still wearing the cast from having his hand (kayfabe) broken by Triple H. Rey Mysterio comes in. He’s dedicating the match to Eddie Guerrero. Him and Show bond because they were both in WCW, I guess. Glad Rey got over Show picking him up while he was tied in a stretcher and repeatedly slamming him against the ringposts! Rey is devastated and lets out a sad laugh and points his fingers to the Heavens! Damn you Angel Eddie for letting Rey pick a crappy number! Getting one over on Rey even beyond this mortal coil!

John Bradshaw Layfield (with Jillian Hall) Vs The Boogeyman
Poor JBL was World Champ ten months before this and is now doing midcard comedy with the Boogeyman. Boogeyman bothers Jillian Hall, which allows JBL to sneak attack him. JBL actually seems kind of like the face. Never got why Boogeyman wasn’t a heel. “Hey! He’s a scary guy who does gross stuff and is incomprehensible! Our fans will love him!” I sat next to a dude in a Boogeyman shirt at a house show not too long after this. But enough about my dad. Even the announcers seem to be kind of rooting for JBL. Boogeyman wins with a Boogeyslam on JBL in a quick match. Poor JBL. * No wonder why he retired not long after this.

Vince hits on the Divas some more. Vince says he just got goosed. It’s not by Candice. It’s Mama Benjamin who grabbed him by the biscuit. Vince tells Shelton to straighten his mama out. Shelton promises to throw HBK out for Vince. Melina enters and Mama Benjamin drags Shelton out. MNM pick their numbers and seem indifferent. MNM also vows to eliminate Shawn Michaels. Vince hangs out with the Divas (and Torrie’s dog Chloe) on the couch. Chloe has “Vince” tattooed on her crotch. Vince makes a face. OK. Dog genital tattoos. Let’s get to the midcard Rumble!

Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler are calling the Royal Rumble match this year.

Weird to have a Rumble this early in the show. Not even 45 minutes into the show.  Video package for the Rumble is pretty pedestrian. We didn’t have “Royal Rumble By The Numbers” for a few years after this.

Lillian Garcia’s intro is interrupted by the Spirit Squad. Lawler’s pissed because they recently cost him a shot in the Royal Rumble. For some reason, I thought they debuted later than this. First memory of them is them winning the Tag Team Titles from Kane & Big Show the night after WrestleMania 22. A wikipedia search tells me they debuted on the RAW before this, helping Coach beat Lawler to qualify for the Rumble. WWE seemed to love making Coach wrestle during this era for some reason. They do a Rumble themed routine. Poor Dolph Ziggler!

30 Man Royal Rumble, to determine who wins a World Championship title shot at WrestleMania 22
#1 is Triple H. Cole & Lawler flip out. Only two men have won in the #1 spot, will The Game be number three? Rey Mysterio comes in at #2. This is definitely in discussion for most star studded start to a Rumble although I think The Undertaker & HBK starting off in ’08 takes the cake. Bob Backlund & Ric Flair starting off ’93 is up there too. Mysterio enters in Eddie’s low rider, which I guess has recovered after being destroyed by Randy Orton a few weeks earlier. I’m kind of surprised we never got a Rey-Triple H feud but since it probably would have ended with Triple H decisively beating Rey, maybe we didn’t miss out on much. Triple H ducks a 619 as the #3 entrant Simon Dean comes down the aisle on his Segway. Triple H hates Simon Dean and him and Rey kick his fitness loving ass. They quickly toss Dean (Elimination #1). Simon Dean WILL NOT be headlining WrestleMania 22. Dang! Psicosis comes in at #4 and goes after his old rival Rey Mysterio for a bit before they team up on Triple H. Rey eliminates Psicosis with a headscissors over the top (Elimination #2). WOOO! Ric Flair is our #5 entrant. Of course, him and Triple H go at it and trade chops. Naitch hits Flair with eye pokes and nut grabs but gets eliminated after he misses a charge at Triple (Elimination #3). Triple H and Rey Mysterio have already collapsed in exhaustion, which kind of spoils the fact they’ll be here for a while. They’ve been in the match about ten minutes!  WELL! (It’s) The Big Show with his cool tattoos is in at #6. He goes after Triple H. SportsCenter’s Jonathan Coachman is #7 and quickly gets thrown out by Big Show (elimination #4). The undefeated Bobby Lashley comes in at #8 and him and Big Show have a hoss throwdown while Rey & Triple H have nappy time on the canvas. Big Show’s buddy Kane is in the #9 spot. Triple H & Rey still dosing off as we see hoss throwdown #2. Lashley hits Kane with the Dominator. Sylvan is #10. Now everyone in the ring is resting but Lashley. Sylvan is a dope and immediately gets chucked by Lashley (elimination #5). Kane & Big Show wake up and toss Lashley (elimination #6).

Big Show and Kane are doofuses and throwdown instead of teaming up to chuck everyone else until the end. Triple H tosses Kane & Big Show while they’re fighting on the ropes then immediately collapses (Eliminations #7 and #8). Rey hasn’t done anything in a long time. Carlito is #11. Rey wakes up now conveniently enough to get with a Backstabber by Carlito so he’ll probably sell that for another ten minutes. Chris Benoit comes in at #12. Chops and German Suplexes for everyone. Booker T, wearing long tights that are sort of a throwback to his WCW days, is the #13 entrant. He gets tossed quickly by Benoit and flips out (Elimination #9). Joey Mercury enters at the unlucky #14 spot. Tatanka comes in at #15 and Cole & Lawler are confused as hell. Tatanka!? TATANKA!? Carlito & Triple H have a confused but somehow nonchalant reaction that kind of sums up most people’s response to Tatanka’s comeback during this era. Crowd does the tomahawk chop chant. Other half of MNM, Johnny Nitro is #16. MNM try to double team Tatanka (Buffalo). That nasty ol’ hillbilly Trevor Murdoch comes in at #17. Lawler says Murdoch looks like a pile of milk. Rey narrowly avoids elimination and fights off Triple H. Cole talks about him catching a second wind as Rey collapses again. Eugene is #18. He channels Hogan for a bit. Ring is getting clogged. Road Warrior Animal comes in at #19 with lime green shoulder pads.

Rob Van Dam, making his return to WWE, is the #20 entrant. Crowd wakes up big time for this. Kicks for everyone. RVD tosses Road Warrior Animal as Animal charges towards the ropes (Elimination #10) . Orlando Jordan and his stupid looking hair is #21. Eugene pats the dozing Rey Mysterio on the head. OOH CHAVO! Chavo Guerrero Jr comes in at #22. Lost in all of the talk about Rey dedicating his match to Eddie is the fact that an actual relative of Eddie is in the match… Triple H quickly tosses Chavo. God damn WWE. (Elimination #11). Everyone kicks Triple H’s ass for disrespecting Eddie’s legacy. OH YEAH! Matt Hardy is the #23 entrant. Tatanka gets tossed by MNM as the crowd goes mild (Elimination #12). Super Crazy is #24. He goes after MNM. Much to Mr. McMahon’s chagrin, HBK drew a great number and is #25. It seems like this would set up a ring clearing spot but Michaels only eliminates Trevor Murdoch (Elimination #13) before “The Masterpiece” Chris Masters enters at #26. Lawler tries to start a Masters Vs Lashley debate, which is a funny idea in 2016. “The World’s Largest Love Machine” Viscera somehow gets the lucky #27 spot. Lawler picks him to win because nobody will be able to throw out someone that big. Viscera does the Viscagra to Matt Hardy. Someone should turn that into a gif and tweet it to Matt. Vis then tosses out Matt Hardy (Elimination #14). I bet Matt was glad he came back to WWE to get dry humped by King Mabel then thrown out of the ring. Speaking of MOM, Cole points out that Vis is wearing purple & gold PJs and says it reminds him of a previous look. Shelton Benjamin is #28. Eugene gets eliminated via Chris Benoit suplex (Elimination #15). Uh. There’s a tasteless joke to be made there about Benoit eliminating Eugene but I’m gonna avoid it…Our penultimate entrant is Goldust. Cole & Lawler are flabbergasted like this is a huge shock. I mean it’s a decent surprise but Goldust was in WWE less than three months before this! Super Crazy gets tossed by RVD & Mysterio (Elimination #16)Randy Orton is the #30 and final entrant.

Orton eliminates Chris Benoit after blocking a Crossface Attempt (Elimination #17). Geez. A lot of job guys left here at the end. Chris Masters & Carlito team up to toss Viscera (Elimination #18). Carlito then sneaks up on Masters and throws him out (Elimination #19). Goldust hits Carlito with Shattered Dreams and HBK and Triple H stop to watch it. Goldust gets eliminated via RVD spin kick (Elimination #20)I can’t believe Orlando Jordan’s still in here but Orton eliminates him right as I say that (Elimination #21). HBK fights out of a Snapshot from HBK. Nitro accidentally eliminates Joey Mercury (Elimination #22) then HBK eliminates Johnny Nitro (Elimination #23). Shelton Benjamin gets eliminated via Sweet Chin Music in spectacular fashion (Elimination #24) Vince McMahon angrily walks to ringside to the chagrin of HBK. He distracts Shawn Michaels and Shane McMahon pops in out of nowhere to toss HBK (Elimination #25). Shawn Michaels goes to kick Shane’s ass but gets attacked by Triple H. RVD eliminates Carlito (Elimination #26).

Final Four: Triple H, Rey Mysterio, RVD, Randy Orton

Stoned RVD & Rey want to form an alliance. They do the 420 Legdrop on Triple H. Rey accidentally eliminates RVD (Elimination #27). Some alliance. Triple H and Orton team up to try and toss Rey. Nerdy fact: This is the 2nd Rumble where the final three were the #1, #2, and #30 entrants. Other being ’95. Incidentally, both are two of the most hated Rumbles. I guess WWE shouldn’t end Rumbles with those entrants. Rey does a double 619 on Orton & Triple H. Triple H tries to throw Rey over the top but Rey headscissors him out of the ring (Elimination #28). Triple H pulls Rey under the bottom rope and throws him against the stairs.  Orton gets eliminated in basically same fashion as Triple H (Elimination #29) and Rey Mysterio is the winner of the 2006 Royal Rumble.

This might be my 2nd least favorite Rumble behind ’99. Rey had, by far, the least impressive Iron Man performance in Rumble history. I know the combination of his injuries and high octane style meant he couldn’t really go full throttle like Flair did in ’92 or Benoit did in ’04 but he seemed like he was on the mat most of the match and he didn’t really produce too many memorable moments outside the end. End was a nice moment but there needs to be more than that. Beyond that, there was way, way too much filler on the back half of the match. Even bad Rumbles are still OK but this was definitely bad by Rumble standards. **1/2

Mickie tries to talk to Trish Stratus in the WWE.com Instant Access booth but gets shooed away.

Chavo, Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko congratulate Rey on his win. Eddie’s in Heaven watching this. Edge interrupts this and trolls Rey Mysterio. He says Rey better not challenge him.

Another problem with the Rumble’s placement on this card is we still have the two World Tile matches to go and there’s only forty minutes left in the show. And you know WWE’s gonna use 15 minutes of that on entrances and video packages.

We see the story behind John Cena Vs Edge! Cena doesn’t care if Edge has sex on live TV! He’s getting the title back!

WWE Title Match: Edge (c) (with Lita) Vs John Cena 
Speaking of entrances eating up time, Cena gets a super elaborate entrance involving a weird, futuristic bridge descending from the ceiling and him walking across it. Seems especially extravagant for a non WrestleMania show. Edge just coming out in his goofy pleather jacket and sunglasses with Lita can’t help but feel second rate in comparison. This is one of those matches where the result feels obvious. Lawler & Styles outright repeatedly talk about Edge being a transitional champion which is kind of a tipoff. Given the time constraints, this match feels like a RAW main event. John Cena wins back the title after fighting off some Lita interference, by making Edge tap to the FU. ** For all of the talk about the Cena backlash at New Year’s Revolution, Cena gets a mostly positive reaction here. Miami seems kind of like a markish town.

Todd Grisham tries to get a reaction from Lita. She flips out. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan wanders in and calls her a “HOOOOOOOOOOO!” Good lord.

We see Mark Henry powering out of the Angle Lock on Smackdown last week.

Josh Matthews talks to Kurt Angle. After winning the World Title three weeks earlier, Angle quickly shifted back into being an ass kicking face after a few years of being a psychotic heel.

World Heavyweight Title Match: Kurt Angle (c) Vs Mark Henry (with Daivari) 
I like how the fans chanted “You Suck” chants during Angle’s music even after he turned face again, purely out of habit. Although at least Angle was smart enough to direct it at Mark Henry by pointing at him during the fans chant. Only a little more than 10 minutes left in the show. Mark Henry wasn’t awesome (or even good yet)  but even if he was, it’s hard to leave a lasting impression in a PPV World Title match with only ten minutes. Crowd just seems deflated after the Rumble and Cena Vs Edge. Really in a perfect world they probably should have flipped this match and the Rumble but that’s not possible for reasons we’ll see in a few minutes. Ref bump after Henry kicks out of the Angle Lock. Angle and Henry fight over a chair. Angle gets the win after ramming Henry’s head into a chair and rolling him up while holding the ropes. Lights go dark and Undertaker’s theme hits. Uh oh. Here come the druids! It’s Undertaker on a horse drawn carriage! Tazz is confused. WHAT THE HELL!? Undertaker wants the World Title! So much so that he shoots lightning and makes the ring collapse. Angle freaks. Tazz’s “HOLY SHIT” is bleeped out! Stupid TV PG! Match really was just time filler to set up the main event angle which was dumb but cool visually. Angle has a great terrified reaction to all of this. *

This is easily a top candidate for Worst Rumble PPV ever. Best match was a throwaway multi-man opener. ’99 was bad but at least had one classic match in the Rock-Mankind I Quit match (and a few decent undercard matches). This show had an underwhelming Royal Rumble and not one but two disappointing World Title matches. Doesn’t really set up a good feeling for the rest of ’06. The main storylines they’re setting up for WrestleMania 22 don’t really seem all that promising. HBK Vs Vince McMahon seems like it could’ve been a good idea on paper (Vince McMahon is dead set on screwing over the last guy from the Attitude Era he hasn’t screwed over) but it seems so perfunctorily done that it just feels like a rehash of a thousand previous “Vince McMahon is trying to screw this guy over!” storylines.

The Eddiesploitation stuff is problematic on a lot of levels. It’s really hard to figure out how properly honor someone’s memory in every day life, let alone in the carny world of pro wrestling. Rey Mysterio was put in a super tough place. Not only is he dealing with the death of his close friend but he’s suddenly thrust in the main event spotlight as a result of said friend’s death. Whether or not you think Rey Mysterio should have been a World Title contender (and I think his time to become a main event guy was long, long overdue), the way he was set up to be a main eventer didn’t do him any favors. There’s a way to incorporate a real life death into storyline to get a babyface over and make it relatively tactful. WWE did not do it that way. It seemed like Rey was only getting a World Title shot because his friend died.  This is not even to mention the beyond the pale heel tactics used by Rey’s opponents (“Eddie’s in Hell!”, destroying the low rider, et al). Eddiesploitation was bad for Eddie, his family (remember his nephew Chavo’s still around and basically a glorified jobber!), Rey, WWE, and humanity in general!

Rest of the main event scene just feels thrown together. Edge Vs Cena feud seemed like it could’ve/should’ve been a WrestleMania level main event but WWE rushed through it and now I guess we’re gonna get the inevitable Triple H main event appearance. Undertaker-Kurt Angle is fine but again, feels like sort of a rehash. It’s obvious that the roster turmoil over the past few months just had WWE booking on the fly and it’s apparent. This will be a theme for the next few years, I imagine.

Up Next on Ten Years After… Kurt Angle defends The World Heavyweight Title against “The Phenom” The Undertaker in an instant classic! Plus Rey Mysterio puts his World Title shot at WrestleMania 22 on the line against “The Legend Killer” Randy Orton! I look back at the last pay per view before WrestleMania 22, No Way Out ’06! 

See the rest of the articles in this series here: Ten Years After Archive

Written by Connor McGrath

Connor McGrath is a public access television show host and part-time amateur comedian, who resides in Portland, Maine. He contributes reviews of Northeast independent wrestling promotion, NWA On Fire along with occasional guest articles.

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