This year’s Royal Rumble was just about set in stone as far as matches were concerned. However, the powers that be must have figured that one more match was needed to fill time in between the World Heavyweight title match and the John Cena v Kane contest. Cue an impromptu Divas match – Beth Phoenix, Natalya and Nikki & Brie Bella taking on Alicia Fox (who, like Beth, has returned from exile), Eve Torres, Kelly Kelly & Tamina. No build up for it, but when does a women’s match in WWE have build up anymore?

For the record, Phoenix got the win for her team, delivering a Glam Slam to Kelly to get the victory.

Meanwhile, Kharma made her return to WWE as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble match, making Michael Cole eliminate himself, pulverising Dolph Ziggler, throwing out Hunico and then being eliminated by Ziggler while she wasn’t looking.

Lets see what was pepperoni, what was sausage and what was anchovies…

The Good

A few mis-steps here and there but overall, not a bad match. The women got time (as they usually do on PPVs), each got their own moment, and it was good to see Beth being dominant again. Her lack of television time has not gone unnoticed by fans and she actually made her return last week, facing Brie Bella on Superstars – Michael Cole even said beth has “been dominant of late”, despite her not being on TV since December 19, when Alicia Fox gave her a hell of a shiner thanks to her somersault legdrop finisher.

Towards the end, she was not happy with her team and angrily tagged herself in, making a Bella (sorry, I really can’t be fussed to figure out which one it was!) “get out of my ring!” One smooth Glam Slam later and Kelly was history.

Speaking of Kelly, I give her credit – she is willing to get the hell beaten out of her and do spots that nowadays you don’t see Divas doing in matches. Tonight was no exception. While all the other women were on the outside brawling, Kelly climbed to the top of a turnbuckle and launched herself into the group, sending everyone toppling to the ground. Aside from the entrances and the end of the match, this got the biggest reaction from the crowd. Kudos to Kelly for putting herself out there.

The Bad

It’s almost laughable to say this, but WWE did the fans of these women a disservice by not at least announcing this match beforehand. If even one person would have bought the PPV to see this match, then that’s one person’s money that is out of their pocket. It feels like it’s an indication of how little the women matter to this company. “Hey, I’ve checked the timing, and we’re going to come up short on this show.” “Oh I know, lets throw the women out there and tell them to wrestle for a few minutes.” “Great idea!” I can see this happening at a meeting about two hours before the show started. It’s both sad and laughable.

The Ugly

I’ve finally figured it out – Eve has the Michelle McCool syndrome. No matter how much WWE pushes her, no matter how good she becomes in the ring, she does not connect with fans in the crowd. She gets no reaction as a face, and the only reaction she has gotten in this storyline with Zack Ryder is because he is one of the most popular guys on the roster. But when she comes out for matches or when she is tagged in, she still elicits no cheers. One wonders if a heel turn would do her any good at this point (fans continued to not care when McCool was turned heel, either). It is a shame – Kelly continues to get the biggest face reaction, despite her lack of skill in the ring. Speaking of reactions, it says something that Beth was the heel, yet the crowd cheered for her win. And on the subject of Eve, why was she so happy for her match when she was so angry earlier on because of how Ryder was being treated by John Laurinaitis? What a glaring lack of inconsistency. If my other half was in a wheelchair, I doubt I’d be in the mood to do booty-pops before moonsaults.

At the end, Natayla hugged Beth but got no return hug. Nor did whichever Bella attempted to high five Beth get a response either. Natalya has gotten no singles win since her heel turn on August 5th of last year – her only wins have come when she is in tag team matches. There’s been speculation that she has some kind of heat on her which is why her losing streak has gone on for so long. Perhaps, however, the other speculation is true and that this is a storyline, leading to the break up of Pin-Up Strong (which already died a month or so ago). Perhaps the other big event that happened tonight will merge with this break up as we go into WrestleMania…

***

Entrant number 21 in the Royal Rumble was a shocker – as none other than Kharma returned to WWE. She looked fantastic and the crowd erupted for her, especially seeing her clothesline Michael Cole to the mat. Cole proceeded to eliminate himself by climbing over the ropes rather than face her wrath. Dolph Ziggler then screamed at her to get out and got an implant buster for his trouble. Hunico was next to try his luck but as he jumped at her, she casually scooped him up with both hands and dropped him over the ropes. The crowd was positively alive at this point – only to shower boos upon Ziggler when he eliminated her from the match.

I saw nothing that was bad or ugly about this (except maybe how short her time in the Rumble was, but I’m not even going to complain about that). Lets leave aside speculation on the lady’s pregnancy (except to say that we all hope everything went well!) and focus on what this could mean for WrestleMania. Let us say that Natalya’s losing streak turns out to be apart of an angle. We could very well see the split of her and Beth while Kharma resumes the destruction of the other Divas. Beth could throw Natalya to the wolves and we could see Kharma v Beth at WrestleMania.

However, we are all too aware of how anything that starts off good for the women of WWE turns sour too quickly. It remains to be seen where this will go, if anywhere. Tonight was definitely a great night for Kharma fans as she becomes only the third woman to take part in the Royal Rumble. Congratulations to her, and welcome back.

– Jennifer Logsdon

Matt says:

“Were we watching the same programming? McCool got plenty of heel heat. Alright then I challenge you to prove your claim and provide some sort of evidence backing your stance.”

Sure. There are dozens of examples, but here are 3 notable ones.

2010 Royal Rumble: After a video package is shown to the live and TV audiences recapping Laycool’s months-long humilation of Mickie James, Michelle’s music hits, and she enters to no reaction. People in the crowd can be seen leaving their seats and heading to restroom/snack bar during her in-ring promo.

NoC 2010: Michelle’s music hits, and she enters for her title unification match with Melina to no reaction.

Extreme Rules 2011: Michelle comes out to no reaction, and crowd remains dead for match with Layla.

Matt says:

“She and Layla, when they first started at least, got major heel heat when they were running around as Laycool. To go forth and make the claim that McCool got no reaction from people as a heel interesting because it’s definitely wrong. Take a look at her match where she pinned Victoria to send her packing to TNA, pretty sure she got plenty of heel heat on that one.”

No, actually, it’s quite accurate. McCool was exposed as heatless probably 99 times out of 100 when put on Raw or PPVs, where they couldn’t change reactions like they can on Smackdown. She even got crowds to stop booing Vickie Guerrero within seconds of Vickie introducing her.

Were we watching the same programming? McCool got plenty of heel heat. Alright then I challenge you to prove your claim and provide some sort of evidence backing your stance. If you can’t do that then I’ll just take it with a grain of salt and label it as just another internet person touting their opinion.

Ball is in your court, hopefully you can serve up.

Read the article and stopped at the McCool portion. She and Layla, when they first started at least, got major heel heat when they were running around as Laycool. To go forth and make the claim that McCool got no reaction from people as a heel interesting because it’s definitely wrong. Take a look at her match where she pinned Victoria to send her packing to TNA, pretty sure she got plenty of heel heat on that one.

It’s the Royal Rumble and of course the WWE isn’t going to announce a lot of matches. With as little time as the Divas are getting on TV anyway, they’ve re-entered another dry-period for the divas once again. Give it another year or so and maybe, maybe the divas will get serious again but with Kharma being back, she might give the diva division the injection it needs.

Otherwise, from what I read it was a decent article. Good stuff.