20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 20

January 26th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: August 16, 2011 (aired on August 19, 2011)
Company: WWE
Show: Smackdown
Rules: Normal
Stipulation: #1 contender for World Heavyweight Championship at Night of Champions
Roster (19): Trent Barreta, Wade Barrett, Johnny Curtis, Ted Dibiase, Justin Gabriel, the Great Khali, Mark Henry, Tyson Kidd, Ezekiel Jackson, Jinder Mahal, William Regal, Cody Rhodes, Zack Ryder, Sheamus, Sin Cara, Heath Slater, Yoshi Tatsu, Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso

As we hit the last battle royal of this one-a-day series, we end on one of my favorites. It’s from the first Smackdown after Summerslam 2011. At that Summerslam, Wade Barrett defeated Money in the Bank holder Daniel Bryan. Sheamus’ sense of honor cost him when Mark Henry slammed him through a barricade and won via count-out. Randy Orton had finally ended his feud with Christian, meaning he needed a new contender for his World Heavyweight Championship.

And so, a battle royal was put together. It was meant to be a 20-man battle royal, but Daniel Bryan chose to challenge Alberto Del Rio earlier that night and got his arm destroyed. Too destroyed to compete again that night. Also, one of the angles of the time had Jinder Mahal more or less owning Great Khali, due to his status as brother-in-law. It’s a complicated Indian thing.

You can tell that they’re trying to make Mark Henry a big deal because when he walks to the ring, resident strong face dude Ezekiel Jackson is all, “Uh… shit.”

The bell rings and Henry stands in the center of the ring. With the exception of Khali guarding Mahal in the corner, everyone pounds on the World’s Strongest Man. He decides that it merely tickles. It tickles and Mark Henry isn’t a man who enjoys laughter.


He immediately removes Trent Barreta and Yoshi Tatsu. The minutes that follow include your usual filler of guys working each other over with nothing happening. Stuff comes alive when Ezekiel Jackson throws his rival Cody Rhodes over the top and he holds on by skinning the cat and pulling himself back in. Then Big Zeke just sends him back out with a massive clothesline.

Khali is still guarding Mahal in the corner and is commanded to take care of Ezekiel. Ezekiel stuns Khali with a running clothesline, steps back for a second one and runs right into a Brain Chop. Khali flings Ezekiel out of there and Henry decides to step up.

You might recall that Khali/Henry was a showdown that wouldn’t be in that 2007 battle royal I covered a few days ago and while they tangled in the Monster Mash, their interactions were barely of note. Finally, they’re going to go at it and I’m ready for it to be terrible. Khali chops Henry down and prepares for the Vice Grip. Henry powers out and then decides, fuck this, I’m the World’s Strongest Man!

Whoa! That’s kind of awesome! Extra points for most everyone else in the ring hanging back to see how this fight plays out.

Sheamus runs into Henry with an axe-handle and sends him rolling to the outside. He’s still in the match, but just angry. Also, champion Randy Orton is watching the battle royal unwind as he sits near the announce table with Henry angrily roaming around.

Whenever somebody gets eliminated, Henry proceeds to grab them and throw them around like a ragdoll. Just ask the Usos.

His rage not quite satiated, he returns to the ring and helps take the number down to four finalists: Henry, Sheamus, Wade Barrett and Sin Cara. You can tell Sin Cara is the fan favorite because of all the chants they edited in in post-production. Barrett, Sheamus and Sin Cara go at Henry together, but Barrett’s greed gets to the best of him and he turns on Sheamus. The two Europeans end up brawling on the apron after each going over the top rope. Sheamus wins the brawl with a kick to the chest and Barrett falls to the floor.

Sheamus and Sin Cara have a nice little battle that ends with Sheamus preparing to Brogue Kick him out of the ring. Henry gets up from the earlier beating and washes his hands of the big Irishman.

Now we’re down to Sin Cara vs. Henry. Sin Cara does a crossbody off the top and Henry falls over after catching him. It’s hard to tell if it’s a botch or not, but my gut says yes. Sin Cara is unable to move Henry with a couple hurricanrana attempts and goes for a crossbody off the second rope. Henry catches him correctly this time and crushes him with the World’s Strongest Slam. Then he presses Sin Cara’s sin carcass over his head and dumps him out of the ring like he’s nothing.

Mark Henry is the #1 contender and ends the show staring down Orton, taking a second to get a whiff of him.


After a career of being a jobber to the main event, Mark Henry would be rewarded for being suddenly awesome after 15 years by going over Orton cleanly and decisively. Twice! He proceeded to have the best heel title run in forever that sadly got derailed by an injury. Part of me will always lament that we never got the correct ending to the Rocky III Balboa/Clubber angle they were setting up with Daniel Bryan and Henry. But hey, said injury also led to Bryan’s heel turn and the whole, “YES! NO!” thing, so it all evens out.

Enjoy the Royal Rumble, everybody.

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20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 18

January 24th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: January 14, 2008
Company: WWE
Show: Monday Night Raw
Rules: Elimination does not have to be over-the-top
Stipulation: None
Roster: Batista, the Great Khali, Hornswoggle, Kane, Mr. Kennedy, Mankind

I talked about how injuries have a tendency to change the course of wrestling history to a dramatic degree, but it isn’t just injuries. In late 2007, a list was released of wrestlers who had been using an online pharmacy for certain items that were against the wellness policy. All of these guys (except Randy Orton) were suspended for 30 to 60 days depending on previous suspension records.

At the time, WWE was in the midst of an exceptionally stupid and never-ending story where Vince McMahon found out that he had fathered an illegitimate child and said child was on the WWE roster. This was meant to set up an angle where Mr. Kennedy was going to be revealed as Vince Jr. and feud with his “brother-in-law” Triple H. That didn’t happen because not only was he on that pharmaceutical list, but he had just done a big interview talking up how competent the WWE’s wellness policy was. So on Raw, Kennedy tried to say that he was Vince’s kid, only to be shut down and suspended. They’d find out the real answer the week that followed.

Backed into a corner, they revealed Vince’s son to be Hornswoggle, the undercard comedy act leprechaun whose only crime so far was becoming the Cruiserweight Champion and destroying the last remnants of that division for the sake of comedy. I’ll say that I wasn’t too opposed to the idea. I suppose the possibility of Hornswoggle becoming a Mini-Me version of Vince and barking orders in the form of vocal nonsense could have worked in some kind of surreal way.

The main story they went with was that Vince was embarrassed by his tiny son and out of either spite or insane parenting wanted him tortured in the ring as “tough love”. This meant putting him in matches that Hornswoggle would somehow come out of unscathed, either due to luck, guile or the help of Finlay, who disagreed with Vince’s behavior. These matches led to one of the most annoying aspects about Hornswoggle’s character, being the weird double standards about him being a competitor that continues to this day. If he gets the best of someone, then good for him! Way to go! If he is in any way attacked, even if it means being shoved over, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler will act like they just watched a puppy get run over. How can they let this happen?! He’s just a defenseless child (who has a beard and is in his twenties). Of course, if Triple H murders him, that’s different. Haha, that Triple H! He sure taught Hornswoggle a lesson! That’s what you get for messing with DX!

With the Royal Rumble coming up, Vince decided to enter Hornswoggle into the big match. Backstage on Raw, he talked to his mute son and suggested a warm-up to get him ready. A “Mini Royal Rumble” that would feature a handful of guys scheduled for the PPV match. Hornswoggle went off to the ring, ready to prove himself.

Out comes Mr. Kennedy and… wait a minute. When Vince said it was a “Mini Royal Rumble”, he wasn’t kidding.

Yes, we’re about to get a Royal Rumble of vertically-challenged doppelgangers. Should I be offended? Maybe. Probably. Am I entertained? Probably. Definitely.

At the very least, it’s kind of a nice thing to do for Hornswoggle who himself is a trained wrestler who rarely gets the chance to wrestle guys his own size. The other guys are wrestlers who know what they’re getting into and they’re getting a payday for this, so it really isn’t the worst thing.

Mini Kennedy tries to do the intro bit where he announces himself from the middle of the ring, but the suspended microphone doesn’t reach that far down and he proceeds to jump up and down in a failed attempt to grab it. The bell rings and Kennedy gets a cheapshot in. They fight it out until Mini Mankind shows up.

He pulls out Mr. Socko and Hornswoggle saves himself by kicking Mini Mankind in his mini-er Mankind and throwing him through the ropes. Then Hornswoggle presses Kennedy over his head and throws him over the top.

Having cleared the ring, Hornswoggle awaits his next opponent, Mini Batista. Not only does Mini Batista perform the Batista entrance sequence…

…but his timing on the explosion is better than the actual Batista.

Mini Batista Spears Hornswoggle and shakes the ropes. He sets up the Batista Bomb, but Hornswoggle backdrops out of it. Soon after, Mini Kane enters. While he is the smallest man in the match, he certainly goes 100% into the gimmick by pulling off Kane’s uppercuts perfectly. Despite being the fresher one, he still fall prey to the Batista Bomb.

Hornswoggle again goes for a kick downstairs and flings Mini Batista out of there. Mini Kane starts to take him apart and does a jumping clothesline off the second rope. He goes for a chokeslam and we suddenly remember the size difference.

Hornswoggle hits the Celtic Cross and then slides Mini Kane out of the ring. I should note that probably the funniest part of this whole segment is how when Vince was suggesting it, he said that it would include Mr. Kennedy, Batista and maybe a mystery opponent. This is a subtle joke in how Kane has been the go-to mystery opponent for the past 15 years.

Hornswoggle awaits his final opponent and Great Khali’s music begins playing. Unfortunately for the leprechaun, it isn’t Mini Khali. It’s the actual Khali. He steps into the ring, ready to crush the little guy, but then Finlay appears with his shillelagh and goes to town on the giant. Like I said a couple days ago, Finlay beating the shit out of Khali with his shillelagh is a wonderful thing to watch. It’s like watching a lumberjack going to town on a tree with an axe before, during and after it falls. Khali ends up rolling out of the ring to evade the punishment, meaning that Hornswoggle wins the match. Also, Finlay gets a piece of Ranjin Singh, but lets him off easy with a simple clothesline.

The angle came to a head prior to Wrestlemania, where JBL helped Vince beat Hornswoggle to the point of hospitalization while Finlay was handcuffed and could only watch. JBL revealed to Vince that Hornswoggle was never his son after all, but was Finlay’s. JBL ended up going over Finlay at Wrestlemania in a Bellfast Brawl and Hornswoggle proceeded to star in some terrible, terrible storylines in the years that followed.

Way to go, Kennedy.

Tomorrow we return to the past to build for the future.

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20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 17

January 23rd, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: October 30, 2007
Company: WWE
Show: ECW
Rules: Normal
Stipulation: None
Roster: Big Daddy V, the Great Khali, Mark Henry and Kane

I will defend WWE’s ECW reprise to my grave. While there were some tremendous missteps, the show was my favorite part of WWE every week. Once it found its groove, it was a place where new wrestlers could debut and make a name for themselves, old wrestlers could get a new lease on life, guys could have awesome matches with simple-yet-effective booking and once somebody got popular, they’d be drafted away to a wrestling show that people actually watched. So really, it was a lot like the old ECW.

Today’s topic is something that I really can’t defend as part of that. In attempts to get ratings early on, WWE would put high-profile wrestlers in the main events. The main example was Big Show’s ECW title reign where he’d take on the likes of Ric Flair and Batista because of his fighting champion status. Today’s match takes place the night before Halloween from a show that features both Nunzio trick-or-treating with some kids while dressed as Dracula and Tommy Dreamer wrestling while costumed as Paul Heyman.

Because of the Halloween theme, the powers that be decided on a Monster Mash battle royal. The idea is that it would feature four “monster” wrestlers going at it: Kane, Mark Henry, Great Khali and Big Daddy V. There were a lot of other guys they could have included at the time, like Snitsky, Umaga and the Boogeyman, but I guess they figured not to go overboard on it.

I should note that Kane is the only face in this match and while all four men were on the ECW roster at some point before or after this, Big Daddy V is the only ECW guy at the time of the match. He’s also gross as hell due to his various manboobs flopping around.

There is one thing about this match that I absolutely love and redeems everything about it. Throughout the night, they’d hype up the match with a series of vignettes for each competitor (barring Kane, who got to cut his own promo). Each one was overly dramatic and narrated by a Boris Karloff impersonator who proceeded to make each guy sound pants-shittingly scary.

“A leviathan creature driven by malice, the Great Khali yearns to crush all who stand in his path.”

Holy shit. Why couldn’t they do more promos like this? They should have Fake Boris hyping up Ryback matches.

As the match begins, it really isn’t all that terrible. Sure, they’re moving in slow motion, but it starts out strong enough. The three heels try to corner Kane and he evades them, then fights back. Henry and Big Daddy V blame each other for this and go at it with a series of strength-testing running shoulders. Then they both bounce the ropes and collide like two trains.


So, hey, this isn’t so bad. Henry briefly holds up Kane in an almost Angle Slam-type position and almost gets him out. Kane goes back to fighting everyone and the match finally jumps the shark when Henry shoves Kane into Big Daddy V for a Black Hole Slam. Maybe it worked on paper, but…

Wait, wait! He can do that better! Give Viscera a mulligan!

Eh, never mind.

Henry and Khali grapple in the corner, allowing Big Daddy V to crush them both with an Avalanche. He tries the same on Kane but misses, allowing Kane to clothesline him into the ropes and lift him right out of there. Hey, it at least looks impressive.

Khali puts Kane in the Vice Grip, then turns his attentions to doing the same to Henry. Kane and Henry team up and send Khali out of there with a double clothesline. A very slow double clothesline, but an effective one nonetheless. Now we’re down to Kane vs. Mark Henry. On one hand, they’re the two best workers in the match. On the other hand, that’s really not saying a lot.

The two go back and forth for a bit and Kane seems to have things in the bag. He climbs to the top to do his leaping clothesline. Of course, the #1 rule when fighting Mark Henry is that you NEVER. EVER. JUMP AT HIM.

Henry seems pretty into his victory and being crowned King of the Monsters. Not that this match really means anything in the long run. It’s never mentioned ever again and isn’t used to springboard Henry into anything. Granted, his return to ECW down the line would lay the seeds for his build to relevance, but the Monster Mash battle royal is independent of that.

Still, the match was only four and a half minutes, so at least it was short. Speaking of short, check back in tomorrow for the next battle royal.

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20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 15

January 21st, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: July 17, 2007 (aired on July 20, 2007)
Company: WWE
Show: Smackdown
Rules: Normal
Stipulation: Winner becomes World Heavyweight Champion
Roster (20): Batista, Deuce, Domino, Kenny Dykstra, Eugene, Fit Finlay, Sho Funaki, the Great Khali, Chavo Guerrero, Matt Hardy, Mark Henry, Kane, Jamie Knoble, Brett Major, Brian Major, Chris Masters, Shannon Moore, Montel Vontavious Porter, Dave Taylor, Jimmy Wang Yang

I wouldn’t wish injury on an active wrestler, but it’s hard not to admit that injuries make things interesting in the long run. By-the-numbers storylines are suddenly shaken up and the writers scramble to make sense of things and make a show worth watching. As intriguing as it can be, it doesn’t always work out for the better. Today’s entry, for example.

Recently, World Heavyweight Champion Edge had defeated eternal #1 contender Batista in a match where if Batista lost, he wouldn’t be allowed to challenge Edge for the title again. Edge moved on to starting a feud with Kane while Batista answered an open challenge from heavily-pushed and still fresh monster the Great Khali. Two matches set up for the upcoming Great American Bash. Unfortunately, Edge got injured about a week before the PPV. Teddy Long had no choice but to strip him of the title and being that this is Teddy Long, he decided to put the vacated title on the line with a battle royal, playa.

The battle royal has only a few viable names in it, which explains the winner. All in all, it’s a pretty entertaining set of segments.

Once the bell rings, Batista goes right for Khali, then gets distracted by fighting Mark Henry. Everyone just kind of wanders around getting into fights and our first elimination comes a minute in when Henry does away with both Major Brothers.

Goodbye, pre-Ryder.

Henry and Khali both go to town on their opponents, laying waste to the entire ring. Soon there are only two left standing.

So much for that showdown. Most of the wrestlers team up to hoist Henry out of the ring. They even celebrate, which JBL points out is a stupid idea because they still have Batista, Kane and Khali to contend with.

Batista shows off his own impressive strength when being attacked by Deuce and Domino. They have him choked into the second rope, but he grabs them by the heads and is able to throw them both over the top rope from his unfortunate position. Not bad.

Batista and Kane have a showdown, not unlike Henry vs. Khali in the sense that it doesn’t go down. Instead of having everyone rush them, it’s just Jamie Knoble, whose angry strikes are rewarded with a swift elimination. Eugene thinks this is awesome, but his enthusiasm doesn’t help him.

At the time of the match, Chavo and Jimmy Wang Yang are feuding over the Cruiserweight Championship. They have a cool moment where they save each other from the wrath of Chris Masters and eliminate him together. Chavo turns on Yang, but gets eliminated by the Asian cowboy in response. Yang ends up lasting quite a while until being pulled out of the ring by Hornswoggle. Yet again, Hornswoggle ruins everything.

Batista and Kane briefly team up to get Khali out of there, but they’re out of luck and he powers through, shoving both across the ring. He takes apart both mega-faces, but then the only other competitor left in the match, Finlay, shows up with his shillelagh. 2007/2008 was an awesome time when it came to this. Back during the Finlay/McMahon angle about Hornswoggle being Vince’s son, Smackdown was filled with matches that ended with Finlay beating the everloving shit out of Khali with that shillelagh. It ruled every single time.

Kane puts an end to this by choking him. As he lifts him up for the slam, Batista rushes out of nowhere and Spears Kane down. Batista flings Finlay out of there and continues his duel with Kane. The two grapple while leaning against the ropes, Khali comes by and takes them both out in one go. The Great Khali, the immobile man given a push because he’s really tall, is the World Heavyweight Champion.

Um… You’re… You’re holding it upside-down. Khali? You’re—eh, forget it.

I suppose it makes sense. They couldn’t give it to Batista after spending all that effort on that “no more title shots against Edge” stipulation. They couldn’t give it to Kane because injuring the champ and suddenly becoming champ in his place is really not face behavior. Mark Henry wasn’t as over as a top heel, Finlay was never going to reach that plateau and Matt Hardy was feuding for a lesser title. Khali at least gave Batista something to chase after.

And chase he did. Batista and Kane had a #1 contender’s match later that night. There was a draw, so they had a Triple Threat against Khali at the Great American Bash (two days after this battle royal aired, remember). Khali retained and had a celebration on Smackdown. It was a strange segment, as Khali danced around with some Indian women and Batista showed up to angrily annihilate everything and attack Khali. If you showed it to someone who didn’t follow WWE and didn’t listen to the crowd reaction, you’d swear that Khali was the good guy with Batista out to destroy fun.

A couple months later, Batista defeated Khali in another Triple Threat Match, this time with Rey Mysterio as the third man. They had a rematch in the infamously silly Punjabi Prison Match, where Batista finally won the feud.

Khali is a unique one. While I don’t like that he became champ, I don’t hate him as much as everyone else. I consider him to be a challenge for people to put on decent matches. Khali can only do so much in terms of mobility and variety, but it is possible to carry him into something watchable. Hell, Sheamus got a good match out of him once, if you believe that. He’s not so much a wrestler as he is a human obstacle course.

Plus whenever I hear that one song by Blondie, I always like to pretend she’s singing about the Punjabi Playboy.

Khali! (Khali!) On the line
Khali, Khali, any, anytime
Khali! (Khali!) My love
When you’re ready we can share the wine

Anyone else do this? Can you start so I can feel less awkward about it?

Tomorrow is keeping it in 2007. In fact, we’re just going to hang out in 2007 for a while if you don’t mind.

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