WWF Royal Rumble ‘04
January 25, 2004
The undercard of this show is quite solid. The Dudley Boyz were always a staple of Rumble undercards and they had a nice opening bout with Ric Flair and Batista here. Eddie Guerrero beat his nephew Chavo in a fun match that was actually a few minutes too short, but it acted as the springboard for Eddie to move up the card in 2004. Brock Lesnar destroyed Bob Holly in a feud stemming from him legitimately breaking Holly’s neck over a year earlier. While the decision was never really in doubt, it was more a thank you to Holly for his years of service by putting the match not only on a major pay per view like this, but by also putting the Championship on the line. And Shawn Michaels and Triple H never have a bad match together, but this Last Man Standing Match went on far too long and still ended in a non-finish.
It was the Royal Rumble match that made this show so good. It was the Chris Benoit show, and it was coming out party as a main event talent. He had been working across the world for over a decade and this was change to finally break out as a superstar.
Taking a page from Ric Flair’s coast-to-coast victory in 1992, Benoit started at number one and lasting the entire hour-long match to ensure victory and a guaranteed World Title match at WrestleMania. Benoit interacted with every opponent who came into the ring and was responsible for eliminating most the match’s super heavyweights, including Mark Henry, Rhyno, Bradshaw, Matt Morgan and A-Train. The final minutes of the match featuring top stars like Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, John Cena, Benoit and The Big Show was quite stacked, and the closing moments with Benoit overcoming the 500 lbs. Big Show to achieve victory was a great finish to a great match.
In addition a second story weaved throughout the match as Randy Orton, the number 2 entrant, battled with and against Benoit tooth and nail until Mick Foley made a surprise entrance at #21, only to sacrifice himself in order to also eliminate Orton from the match.
Unfortunately it is now forever marred thanks to Benoit’s actions back in 2007. Benoit’s wrestling has all been erased from the WWE’s vault and his accomplishments are certainly not talked about or celebrated these days. As a fan it is not enjoyable to watch Benoit’s matches anymore and it makes pro wrestling seem even more trivial than it already is. Before Benoit’s actions this would easily be a top two or three show on this countdown based on the strength of his performance, but now it just doesn’t seem right.
- Victoria beat Molly Holly on Sunday Night Heat live before the pay per view went on the air.
- World Tag Team Champions Ric Flair & Batista beat Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley in a Tables Match.
- WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio beat Jaime Noble.
- Eddie Guerrero beat Chavo Guerrero.
- WWE Champion Brock Lesnar beat Bob Holly.
- World Heavyweight Champion Triple H fought Shawn Michaels to a draw in a Last Man Standing match.
- Chris Benoit won the 30-man Royal Rumble match last eliminating The Big Show. Other participants included Christian, Scott Steiner, Mark Henry, Matt Hardy, Spike Dudley, Rene Dupree, Charlie Haas, Nunzio, Billy Gunn, Booker T, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, A-Train, Rico, Ernest Miller, John Cena, Tajiri, Bradshaw, Rhyno, Shelton Benjamin, Mick Foley (replacing Test), Rikishi, Matt Morgan, The Hurricane, Rob Van Dam, Goldberg, Kane and Kurt Angle.