Can’t Knock The Hustle: Revisiting The Royal Rumble “#14” Curse

Can’t Knock The Hustle: Revisiting The Royal Rumble “#14” Curse

Updated: 7 days, 1 hour, 10 minutes, 54 seconds ago

The site that you’re currently reading, back in its days as Lords Of Pain, is where the infamous “Curse Of The #14” for the Royal Rumble was first uncovered.

 

LoP legend, sheepster, first wrote about the curse, and it got the attention of a lot of people. The following year, he decided he didn’t want to write a follow-up column, so I asked him if I could write it instead. With his permission, I have now done a column like this on several occasions, as there are obviously updates that happen on a yearly basis. The idea for this is usually attributed to me because of how often I’ve posted columns like this, and for three completely different sites, but I always make sure that the credit goes to sheepster, as there wouldn’t be a “Royal Rumble Curse” without his investigative work.

If you’re new to this, the idea is pretty simple… many people feel that the #14 spot in the men’s Royal Rumble match is cursed. Through the years, many of the men who have entered the Rumble at #14 have suffered from a wide range of issues, and those issues, more often than not, happen soon after the appearance at #14. We’re talking personal issues, professional issues, health issues ranging from minor surgeries to shocking deaths, and just about everything in between. It really is wild to think about just how many times that the #14 spot in the Royal Rumble has seen some weird shenaniganery follow it through the years.

All we can do now is journey through the years together, starting with the very first Royal Rumble, so let’s do just that.

 

1988 – “Outlaw” Ron Bass: By this point, Ron Bass was coming up on the end of his career, having made his in-ring debut in 1971. The 1988 Royal Rumble basically happened at the halfway mark of Bass’ WWF career, as he debuted for them in January 1987 and would leave the company in March 1989. He wasn’t exactly involved in any particular match or feud in the WWF that will be remembered throughout all of history, but he did wrestle here at the first Rumble, as well as on the first Survivor Series card, and only 16 men can make that claim. Once he retired, he pretty much stayed out of the spotlight until 2016, when he was named in a lawsuit filed against WWE that accused the company of hiding and shielding the risks of brain injuries over the years. The lawsuit would eventually be thrown out of court, and Bass would go on to pass away in 2017, at the age of 68, due to complications following surgery after a burst appendix. In a postmortem report shared by his family, it was revealed that Bass was suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) at the time of his passing. You can say that, as short as it was, his career wasn’t quite the same as it was after the 1988 Rumble, but going on to live almost 30 more years and passing away at the age of 68 hardly signifies any signs of a “curse” here.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

1989 – Marty Jannetty: There was a time when Marty Jannetty, as one-half of the Midnight Rockers (later known as simply The Rockers), looked like one of the hottest young talents in all of pro wrestling. Less than two years after the 1990 Royal Rumble, The Rockers were competing in a tag team match against enhancement talent. Jannetty would hit one of them, a man named Charles Austin, with his Rocker Dropper finisher, but Austin tucked his head when he shouldn’t have, causing him to break his neck on impact with the mat. Austin would sue Jannetty and the WWF, going on to win $27 million in a settlement. About a year after the Austin incident, Jannetty would be thrown through a glass window by Shawn Michaels, officially ending their tag team, in one of the most famous heel turns in wrestling history. If you asked fans, plenty of them would’ve predicted success as a singles competitor for Marty after the split, but that success never happened. To make it worse, while Marty couldn’t find success as a singles wrestler, he would be forced to watch as Michaels would go on to become one of the biggest, and most successful, stars in the history of the business. Marty self-sabotaged himself, though, dealing with legal and substance abuse issues time and time again. In fact, he would be arrested less than two weeks after the Rocker split aired on television, and would be charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia, as well as resisting arrest with force, after attacking a police officer. He would be suspended after the arrest, and then outright released after being sentenced to house arrest. Marty would make a handful of returns to the company through the years, but those aforementioned issues would follow him around and never truly let him get anything going, although he did have a brief reign as the Intercontinental Champion in 1993, as well as an even shorter reign as one-half (with The 1-2-3 Kid) of the WWF Tag Team Champions in 1994. He continues to pop up in the news from time to time, all these years, but when he does, you already know it’s probably not for something good. To truly know his real legacy, though, all you need to know is that today, a full 31 years after he and Michaels split up, you’ll always have someone referred to as the “Marty Jannetty” of the duo after a tag team splits up, and everyone knows precisely what that means.

The Verdict: Cursed

1990 – Haku: When 1990 began, Haku was already having some nice momentum in the company. Along with Andre The Giant, he was one-half of the WWF Tag Team Champions, and he had spent much of 1988 and 1989 involved in top storylines, including being “King” Haku (in the days before the King Of The Ring tournaments on pay-per-view) and facing the likes of the WWF World Champion, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, as well as Hulk Hogan, at various shows. Within two months of entering the 1990 Rumble at the 14 spot, he and Andre dropped the titles, and a couple months after that, he was doing jobs in opening matches at house shows. He never did match that early success he had, at least with the WWF, but let’s be real with each other right now… I’m not telling him that he was cursed. If you want to do it, go nuts, but don’t be surprised if you come out of that confrontation with the tip of your nose taken smooth the fuck off of your face. He’s the toughest man to ever step foot in a wrestling ring for a reason.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

1991 – The British Bulldog: As 1991 continued on, it sure didn’t look like Bulldog was going to be cursed. He would gradually move up the proverbial ladder, eventually getting the opportunity to compete in the main event of the following year’s SummerSlam event in his home country of England. At SummerSlam, he would defeat his brother-in-law, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, to become the brand new Intercontinental Champion in one of the best, and most memorable, matches in WWF history. Within a few months, though, he would not only drop the title, but be released from his contract for receiving shipments of Human Growth Hormone. After being released, he would head to WCW, where he had some early success, but his time there wouldn’t even last a year, as he would be released following an altercation at a bar. At the 1994 edition of SummerSlam, he would make his return to the WWF, and he would move up the ranks yet again. He was the final man eliminated from the 1995 Royal Rumble, nearly winning it all as the second entrant, and he was even having occasional matches for the WWF Championship later in the year. From there, he would become a member of the new formation of The Hart Foundation, finding more success, but he would leave the company again in 1997 after everything that went down during the Montreal Screwjob. Back to WCW he went, but his 1998 would be defined by injuries, first dealing with a knee injury in April and then a serious back injury in September. The back injury happened at the Fall Brawl pay-per-view when he landed on a trapdoor (twice) that had been set up under the ring canvas for The Warrior’s entrance later in the show. Bulldog would suffer from a spinal infection because of the bumps, nearly winding up paralyzed and spending six months in the hospital. WCW would release him while he was out, but this injury would cause him to become addicted to morphine and painkillers. Yet another WWF stint went nowhere before he would enter rehab due to those additions I just mentioned. On May 18th, 2002, he would have a heart attack and die at the age of 39, with years worth of steroid use and drug addictions likely playing a major role in his passing.

The Verdict: Cursed

1992 – Hercules: After spending a whopping 56 seconds in the 1992 Royal Rumble, Hercules would only be in the WWF for a couple more months before leaving and heading to WCW. He wouldn’t exactly find a ton of success there, though, not even making it to the end of 1992 before he was gone, having only wrestled three televised matches for the company in that span. After WCW, he would wrestle for New Japan, teaming with Scott Norton to form The Jurassic Powers, marking one of the most powerful and muscular tag teams in the history of the business. The duo would win the IWGP Tag Team Titles and hold them for five months, but that would be the last real success he would have in wrestling. He bounced around various independent promotions before retiring in 1999. Five years later, he would pass away in his sleep at the age of 47. He had been dealing with heart disease leading up to his death, but his years of using steroids did his heart no favors.

The Verdict: Cursed

1993 – The Berzerker: After the 1993 Rumble, he was gone from the company within a matter of weeks. Like many WWF departures, he would go work for WCW, but that didn’t last long, and he would go on to bounce around to several different promotions all over the globe to very little success. His post-wrestling career has been filled with legal issues, including seven DUI arrests and 16 arrests, overall, for various misdemeanors and felonies. He was part of the same lawsuit that I mentioned in the Ron Bass section, and of course, that lawsuit was thrown out of court. The only reason he didn’t go to prison because of the more recent arrests he had is because he was diagnosed with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

The Verdict: Cursed

1994 – Doink The Clown: I’m going to use a bit of creative license for this one. Weeks before the 1994 Rumble, the man who was portraying Doink, Matt Borne, was fired for multiple drug offenses. After Borne’s departure, the Doink gimmick was given to a wrestler named Ray Apollo, but it was never the same. Not only was Borne a better wrestler than Apollo, nobody could match Borne’s dedication to the character. He made a clown gimmick work when, if we’re being honest, it had no business doing so. Doink stuck around for a while, but it fell victim to some awful booking in that span. Matt Borne, meanwhile, would continue to battle his personal demons for years, ultimately passing away in 2013, at the age of 55, due to an accidental drug overdose. Following Borne’s death, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against WWE, claiming that the company profited from a “culture of violence” that “sacrificed” Borne’s brain, leading to injuries, depression, and the drug abuse that took his life. The lawsuit was filed by the mother of two of Borne’s children, and was litigated by the same attorney who was behind the aforementioned lawsuit that Ron Bass and The Berzerker were involved in. If you guessed that the lawsuit would be thrown out of court, you would be correct. In the end, I could only go one direction here. Even though Matt Borne wasn’t under the Doink face paint at the 1994 Royal Rumble, his lack of involvement was directly responsible for the on-screen decline of the character, and his off-screen troubles only amplified.

The Verdict: Cursed

1995 – Jacob Blu: Things start off bad here again, as Jacob and his twin brother, Eli, would be gone from the company by the end of 1995, but… that’s about it. The brothers would join a relatively rare group of people who would wrestle for the WWF, ECW (The Bruise Brothers), WCW (Creative Control/The Harris Brothers), and TNA (The Harris Brothers). However, it was their second time with the WWF that they’re probably the most known for, as that is when Jacob would become Skull, while Eli would become 8-Ball, and they would join the Disciples Of Apocalypse stable during WWF’s “gang wars” with Los Boricuas and the Nation Of Domination. In their time with WCW, they would even go on to win the WCW Tag Team Titles on three occasions, although the three reigns combined to total 38 days, as this was back when WCW was having every title change hands at an insanely stupid pace. The brothers would cause some controversy in 2002, though, when it became known that they had Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS, or “Lightning Bolts”) tattoos and also wore shirts with the symbols on them during a TNA pay-per-view. The whole thing largely blew over, as it would be noted that the Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish organization specializing in civil rights law, noted on their website that the SS symbols (and other Nazi-related symbols) were appropriated by multiple outlaw biker gangs decades ago, and do not “necessarily denote actual adherence to white supremacy.” Throw in the fact that Jacob Blu has a biracial family, and that Eli Blu has done charity work for Haitian orphans, and you have people who feel the controversy was much ado about nothing.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

1996 – Doug Gilbert: Doug was the younger brother of 1980’s Memphis wrestling legend, “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert, but he was pretty much unknown to viewers when he appeared in the 1996 Royal Rumble. In those days, a surprise entrant in the Rumble was generally an international star like Mil Mascaras, Genichiro Tenryu, or Carlos Colon, and they were used to build up excitement for the event and the WWF product in other countries. Gilbert’s Rumble appearance would last just under three minutes, which wasn’t enough time for people to figure out who he was. This would be his only appearance for the WWF. In 1999, while working for a promotion called Power Pro Wrestling, he would have the most infamous moment of his career. In an unscripted shoot promo, he started off by saying that Brian Christopher (best known as Grandmaster Sexay in the WWF) was only successful in the wrestling business because he was Jerry “The King” Lawler’s son. The fact that Jerry Lawler was his dad was one of wrestling’s worst-kept secrets, but it still wasn’t something that was openly talked about on television. Gilbert then said PPW promoter Randy Hales wouldn’t be able to turn his mic off because Hales was probably too busy smoking crack in the control room. He would close the promo out by saying that Jerry Lawler had recently “raped a 13-year-old girl,” which was an actual charge Lawler was facing at the time before the accuser eventually recanted her story. It should go without saying, but PPW would fire Gilbert immediately, and they would be out of business soon thereafter. It’s one thing to burn a bridge. Doug Gilbert dropped a nuclear bomb on that bridge, destroying it and everything within 10,000 feet of it.

The Verdict: Cursed

1997 – Goldust: Goldust’s 1997 would be remembered for his feud with Brian Pillman at the time of Pillman’s tragic death. He had a lot of good and a lot of bad after this Rumble appearance, but for a long time, it looked like he was going to be included in the “Cursed” group. After the ’97 Rumble, he would win one of his three Intercontinental Titles, the Hardcore Title nine times, the WWE Tag Team Titles twice (both with his brother), and the World Tag Team Titles once (with Booker T). That’s a lot of success. That bad, though, really hung around for a while. Two divorces, issues with addiction, and being fired by the company for no-showing an appearance. 1996 saw Goldust look like a possible WWF Champion in the future, but once 1997 rolled around, that looked less and less possible seemingly every day. The last several years of his life have saved him, though, and I’m talking about in and out of the ring. He has gotten clean and sober, has gotten into what might be the best physical shape of his career, and has been able to have some great matches when called upon to do so in AEW. He’s going to celebrate his 54th birthday in April, but it really looks like he could wrestle for another decade if he wanted to.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

1998 – Ken Shamrock: To me, this is one of the more interesting entries on this whole list. The reason for it is because this choose-your-own-adventure will take you down one road for pro wrestling, but down an entirely different road for MMA. He had a big 1998. After the Rumble appearance, he would go on to win the King Of The Ring tournament in June, the Intercontinental Title in October, and, with Big Boss Man, the WWF Tag Team Titles in December. After leaving the company in 1999, he would return to the ring in 2002 on the very first TNA pay-per-view, where he would win the NWA World Heavyweight Title. He would wrestle for multiple promotions through the years, and entered the Impact Wrestling Hall Of Fame in 2020. Lots of good stuff there. When it comes to MMA… well… things are different. Before he went to the WWF in 1997, his MMA record was 23-5-2. He was widely viewed as one of the best, and most dangerous, fighters in all of MMA, and was a champion in Pancrase and UFC through the years. When he left the WWF in 1999, he did so to return to MMA. His post-WWF MMA record is 5-12, and he did great damage to his legacy, fighting into his 50’s and suffering some really bad losses by TKO. If you’re going by his wrestling career, he’s not “Cursed” at all. Judging by his MMA career, he’s “Cursed” and it isn’t even close. He has had some minor personal issues in recent years, but a lot of it is considered “normal” and nothing that would really make you think twice. In the end, I think his wrestling success wins out because there was so much of it in a pretty brief period of time.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

1999 – Kurrgan: The 1999 Royal Rumble took place on January 24th. Kurrgan’s last match for the WWF took place on February 28th, exactly five weeks later. He went to Mexico and wrestled five times for CMLL, but that was it for his wrestling career. He has gone on to have one of the most fascinating, under-the-radar post-wrestling careers in recent memory, though, turning to the world of acting. He has roles in 300, Sherlock Holmes, Immortals, Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters, Pacific Rim, Hercules, and Deadpool 2. There are also television appearances on shows like Once Upon A Time, Haven, The Strain, American Gods, Titans, The Umbrella Academy, and Jupiter’s Legacy. The movies he had roles in have brought in well over $3 billion at the box office. He is infinitely more successful as an actor than he ever could’ve been as a pro wrestler.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

2000 – Bob Backlund: The streak continues, as Mr. Backlund avoids the curse. He was a surprise entrant here, not having been on WWF programming in a while, but it was a simple appearance. He did some work in a managerial role for Kurt Angle before moving to TNA and working there for a bit and doing some more work in Japan. There’s not a lot to talk about here, but if you’re looking for some sort of negatives, he did run for a seat in Congress later in 2000, but was unsuccessful. That’s nowhere near enough to consider him cursed, though.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

2001 – The Goodfather: While I understand what the company was going for with turning The Godfather heel and having him renounce his pimping ways to join up with Stevie Richards’ Right To Censor stable, it was such an unnecessary move. Not one fan of the company was looking for him to be a heel in any way. Later in 2001, he would be gone from the company, only to return soon thereafter at the 2002 Rumble as… The Godfather, and all was right in the world again. He has made numerous appearances for the company in the years since then, mostly staying away from physical activity after retiring from in-ring competition in 2003, and became a WWE Hall Of Famer in 2016. He is the fifth consecutive man to avoid the curse.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

2002 – Diamond Dallas Page: I don’t think it’s exactly a stretch to say that DDP’s WWF debut was, in a word, poor. He just wasn’t believable in any way as a “stalker” that was terrorizing The Undertaker and his then-wife, Sara. 2002 looked like when things would start to turn around for the man. A mere two weeks after this Rumble, DDP would defeat Christian to become the new European Champion and would successfully defend the title against Christian at WrestleMania 18. The Mania match is one of the most underrated matches in WrestleMania history, in my opinion, lost in the mix of a show that involved Triple H’s return to the top of the company, The Undertaker’s match with Ric Flair, and of course, The Rock taking on Hulk Hogan. This is when things began falling apart for DDP, though. Days after Mania, he dropped the European Title to William Regal, and a month later, during a match with Hardcore Holly, DDP would suffer a neck injury that was so severe, it would force him into retirement. He eventually returned to the ring two years later, and did some wrestling in TNA, but there was nothing like he did before the injury. If you’ve been reading my work for a while, you might remember some of my first versions of this column had DDP listed as being “cursed” and it’s hard to argue that. Then… DDP Yoga happened. You could argue that he’s more known for DDP Yoga than for his wrestling career, simply because of how viral he has gone for everything he’s done to help people. He has helped to save the life of Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and he has worked with the likes of Scott Hall, Buff Bagwell, and much more, helping them to not only get into better physical condition with the yoga routines, but to help them rehab their issues with drug and alcohol addictions. All the good he has been able to put out into the world since he retired far outweighs the bad that he dealt with before he initially retired. The man was positive enough, and powerful enough, to reverse the curse, making him our sixth straight “Not Cursed” verdict.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

2003 – Eddie Guerrero: Fuck. God knows Eddie’s story has been told at least five million times by now, so let’s just do the short version as far as any curse is concerned. Things started off well. A little more than a year after appearing in the 2003 Rumble, Eddie would shock the world and defeat Brock Lesnar to win the WWE Title, giving him the biggest win of his long and storied career. Then, not even two years later, Eddie was dead, suffering acute heart failure in a Minneapolis, Minnesota hotel room. It was one of the saddest moments in the history of professional wrestling. What more needs to be said?

The Verdict: Cursed

2004 – Rikishi: Two weeks after this show, Rikishi would team up with Scotty 2 Hotty to win the WWE Tag Team Titles. Three months after they dropped the titles, Big ‘Kish was released from his contact after the company repeatedly asked him to lose weight. He bounced around the world after that, wrestling for numerous promotions, before finally arriving in TNA. Six weeks later, he would leave the company after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a pay raise. It didn’t matter that he was in the semifinals of the 2007 Fight For The Right tournament that would crown the new #1 contender for the TNA World Title at the time. His personal life has seen a lot of ups and downs through the years, as well. On one hand, he was been able to watch his sons, The Usos, become one of the greatest tag teams in the history of the business, and is now seeing his other son, Solo Sikoa, make a name for himself in WWE. His cousin, Roman Reigns, has become the top star of this era, breaking records and dominating the WWE scene for well over two years now. On the other hand, though, his brother, Eddie, best known as Umaga, passed away in 2009 at the age of 36 after suffering a drug-induced heart attack. His cousin, Matt, best known as Rosey in WWE, passed away in 2017 at the age of 47 due to congestive heart failure. While he has had a lot of good stuff to look at since the 2004 Rumble, I can’t help but focus more on the personal tragedies and the undignified way he lost his WWE job in 2004, though. I wouldn’t fault you if you felt this was a “not cursed” verdict, though. It can be a toss-up.

The Verdict: Cursed

2005 – Orlando Jordan: A month after the Rumble, Jordan would beat John Cena to become the new United States Champion, making him one of only three men (Carlito and Kurt Angle being the others) to get a pin over Cena that year. While he held the title for nearly six months, making it the longest United States Title reign since “Stunning” Steve Austin held the title for the first eight months of 1994, his reign is best known for the match when he dropped the belt to Chris Benoit in 16 seconds at SummerSlam, followed by losing rematches to Benoit in 24 seconds, 23 seconds, 50 seconds, and then an Ironman-like 4:27. He would be fired in May 2006, and the rumor was that his release was due to him bringing an underage boyfriend on the road with him and bringing said boyfriend backstage at shows, even though he was unauthorized. O.J. would eventually admit that he was breaking the rules by bringing his boyfriend on the road, but he vehemently denied that the boyfriend wasn’t of legal age. He would end up in TNA, but his time there lasted only a year-and-a-half before being fired again, this time for rumored inappropriate actions backstage with male employees of the company. In 2017, a pro wrestler in Australia fired off more accusations against Jordan, saying that Orlando had been paying underage male wrestlers to hang out with him, go to dinner with him, and so on. The accusations would say that he would offer them extra money if they would allow him to grab their backsides. Whether the accusations were true or not, wrestling promotions in Australia felt there was enough to go on that they would stop booking O.J. for their shows. Trouble just seemed to follow him wherever he went.

The Verdict: Cursed

2006 – Joey Mercury: At the time of the 2006 Rumble, Mercury was one-half of the WWE Tag Team Champions with Johnny Nitro. They remained champions until May, and would then split up as Mercury was set to go and serve a 30-day suspension for a Wellness Policy violation. When his suspension was over, he remained out of action for six months for a stint in rehab before returning and reuniting with Nitro and their manager, Melina. At December 2016’s pay-per-view, Armageddon, MNM competed in a Fatal Four-Way Ladder Match for the Tag Team Titles, and Mercury would suffer one of the most gruesome injuries wrestling has seen. A ladder was propelled into his face, breaking multiple bones and causing him to bleed buckets. Within seconds, both of his eyes were swelling shut and he had to be taken out of the match so that he could be rushed to the hospital, needing dozens of stitches to close his wounds. Mercury was a self-admitted drug addict since he was a teenager, but the injuries he suffered at Armageddon caused him to form an addiction to painkillers, as well. Vince McMahon had to step in, and Mercury would eventually be released from his contract. He credits the release for saving his life, though, as it forced him to address his problems head-on for once. He would bounce around the independent scene for a while, ending up in Ring Of Honor as a member of Jimmy Jacobs’ Age Of The Fall faction, before eventually returning to WWE three years after being released. His in-ring return was cut short by a torn pectoral muscle, but while he was rehabbing the injury, he would start getting backstage work, first as a trainer for WWE’s developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling, and then as a producer on the main roster. He would even get back on-screen for a while as a member of J & J Security, with Jamie Noble, working as “bodyguards” for Seth Rollins, who was a member of The Authority at the time. Thankfully, his battles with addiction didn’t cause him to end up as another sad wrestling statistic, but there’s no denying the downward spiral his life and career went on after this Royal Rumble appearance.

The Verdict: Cursed

2007 – Jeff Hardy: When it comes to success in the wrestling business, 2007 was the beginning of great things for Jeff Hardy. It was the year that he really began to skyrocket up the proverbial ladder in WWE, placing him directly into the main event scene. Starting in 2008, combining WWE and TNA, Jeff would go on to win six World Titles, which isn’t counting the other singles titles, as well as tag titles, he won. If we were just talking about what someone accomplished in the ring, he’s a pretty clear case for someone who avoided the curse. Unfortunately, in-ring achievements are only part of the picture. 2007 saw him miss some time due to an injury, and then he had a second Wellness Policy violation in early-2008 that had him serve a 60-day suspension that also removed him from the WrestleMania 24 card, where he was scheduled to be one of the participants in that year’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match. A few days after the Wellness Policy violation, his home in North Carolina burned to the ground, sadly killing his dog. In September 2008, he had an incident at the Nashville International Airport in Tennessee where he wasn’t allowed to board a Southwest Airlines flight because airport employees felt he was too intoxicated. The following September, he would leave the company to deal with numerous injuries like herniated discs in his back and restless legs syndrome. Two weeks later, he would be arrested on charges of drug trafficking after a search of his home found 262 Vicodin pills, 555 millimeters of anabolic steroids, 180 Soma pills, cocaine residue, and drug paraphernalia. He pled guilty, receiving a $100,000 fine, ten days of jail time, and 30 months of probation. Jeff would begin his second stint with TNA in January 2010, and things looked good. His run was going well, and he became a father for the first time in October. The positives didn’t last long, though, because TNA’s Victory Road pay-per-view in March 2011 featured one of the saddest and most embarrassing moments in wrestling history when Jeff showed up for his main event TNA World Title match against Sting clearly intoxicated. This would cause the company to change the match on-the-fly and have Sting shoot pin him to win the match in 90 seconds. Jeff would enter rehab following the Victory Road incident, and he has continued to bounce around the world of wrestling, eventually leaving TNA in 2017 and returning to Ring Of Honor for a brief period, followed by a return to WWE a month later, before being released in late-2021 and heading to AEW in March 2022. He remains one of the most popular wrestlers on the planet, but he simply can’t get out of his own way. Whenever it looks like things are going well, more trouble pops up. In 2019, he was arrested twice, with the first being for public intoxication and the second being for driving while impaired, and he also injured his knee that year, forcing him to miss nearly a year of action after undergoing surgery. Finally, he was arrested in June of last year, charged with driving on a suspended license, violating restrictions on his license, and felony DUI. AEW would suspend him, without pay, and Tony Khan would say Jeff is unable to return until he completed alcohol rehabilitation and maintained his sobriety. Seven months later, there’s still no word on when, or if, Jeff will return to AEW. I said this in a previous version of this column, but it’s still true, even though I hate to say it… sometimes, with everything Jeff has been through, it’s a surprise that he’s still alive. I hope he can get everything in order, not because of anything wrestling-related, although he still has things to offer the business. No, I want to see him get his act together because of his family. He has a wife and two daughters that need him around for as long as possible.

The Verdict: Cursed

2008 – Umaga: Six months after this appearance, Umaga tore his PCL, putting him on the shelf for six months. Four months after returning from that injury, he violated the company’s Wellness Policy for the second time. He was ordered to go to rehab, but he refused, so the company released him. Six months later, he was dead, suffering the drug-induced heart attack that I mentioned earlier in Rikishi’s entry. A swift and brutal fall from grace for someone who entered 2007 feuding with John Cena over the WWE Title and looking like he had a chance at being the next big “monster” main event heel for the company.

The Verdict: Cursed

2009 – Finlay: He was already coming up on the end of his in-ring career at this point, retiring the following year, but that doesn’t mean his story ends there. After retiring from the ring, he would become a full-time trainer and agent for WWE. Nine months after retiring, he would be fired from his agent job because he put a segment at a house show together that would see The Miz interrupt the National Anthem. It was supposed to be an old school heat-getter for The Miz, building him up even further for his main event spot at WrestleMania 27 a few weeks later. However, there were members of the National Guard in attendance, and the segment received too many complaints from people who were offended, so Finlay took full responsibility and accepted the punishment. That might be enough to consider him cursed… if that was it. He would return to WWE after a year, and he has been praised and considered largely responsible for the women’s movement that WWE has fronted for the last decade or so. The women of WWE would go from being mainly just eye candy to being respected wrestlers to being WrestleMania main eventers, all under his watch. He has been credited for training and working with women like Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Beth Phoenix, Ronda Rousey, The Bella Twins, and almost everyone in between. That is more than enough to save him here, and that ends a six-year streak of curse victims.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

2010 – MVP: Here’s another person to add to the group of people who entered the Royal Rumble in the #14 spot and not even make it to the end of that calendar year employed by the company. MVP requested his release because he wanted to wrestle in Japan, and he was granted that release in December. He would find some success wrestling for New Japan, becoming the company’s first IWGP Intercontinental Champion and also scored a victory (in a tag match) over Hiroshi Tanahashi, who was the IWGP Heavyweight Champion at the time. After leaving New Japan in 2013, he would show up in TNA, participating in the really dumb storyline that saw him as an “investor” in the company and had him feuding with Dixie Carter on-air for control of the day-to-day operations. After a heel turn, he was rumored to be next-in-line for a reign as the TNA World Champion, but he tore his meniscus and would be replaced by Bobby Lashley in the title match. Lashley would go on to win the title, and MVP never came close to the momentum he had before he was injured. After working the independent scene for a bit, he would be announced as the newest member of the Lucha Underground roster. Eight whole days later, he was released after accidentally violating the terms of his contract by interviewing other members of the roster on his podcast. He made his return to WWE at the 2020 Royal Rumble, and has been there ever since. As the manager and general promo guy for The Hurt Business, he really shined in his role after a bit of a rocky start for the group, booking-wise. Even after the group split up, he did great work with Lashley, but man, that heel turn to join Omos was… something. MVP is another entry both sides have an argument. He missed out on becoming a World Champion because of an injury, and he barely lasted a week in Lucha Underground because of podcast interviews. That’s unfortunate. However, he found success in Japan, and he has been able to keep his name out there, through thick and thin, for the last 13 years. To me, that’s worth enough to say that he has avoided the curse.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

2011 – Chris Masters: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but… he was #14 in the Rumble and didn’t even make it to the end of the year employed by WWE. He lasted six months before getting released, but it was a pretty rough six months, barely being able to show his face on television. Once upon a time, Masters was regularly competing for titles in WWE, albeit never winning any, but now, he was relegated to Superstars tapings, dark matches, and house shows. After being released, he would go on to compete all over the globe, finding minor success here and there, but nothing that would be remembered much. What would be remembered though was the controversy he caused in 2012 when he tweeted a picture of himself with a gun pointed at his head. He had a drink in his other hand, so many chalked it up to him being drunk, but he still had to apologize for the pic, although his “apology” was basically wondering why everyone was so uptight and that it was “just a pic.” Masters has been able to bounce back in recent years, though, seeing most of his biggest in-ring successes for promotions like the NWA, Preston City Wrestling in England, and the All Wrestling Organization in Israel. Previous entries of this column have him listed as a victim of the curse, but now, I’m not so sure. He was really able to rebound from some of the negative stuff and is still enjoying some success to this day. I think I can officially move him to the “not cursed” side of things.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

2012 – Jinder Mahal: During this era, what do you remember most about Jinder Mahal? Not much, probably. He was on the losing end of match after match after match before finding minor success when he was sent to NXT, where he advanced to the finals of the Gold Rush Tournament to crown the very first NXT Champion. In the finals, he lost to Seth Rollins, and would return to the main roster in another “jobber” role, albeit one that was more entertaining as a member of 3MB with Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre. After a bunch of losing, he would be released from his contract in June 2014. He wrestled around the world for two years before returning to WWE in July 2016, where he went right back to losing and losing a lot. Then… COMPLETELY OUT OF FUCKING NOWHERE… Jinder defeated Randy Orton to win the WWE Title and would hold the title for six months. SIX MONTHS! That was the seventh-longest WWE Title reign of the 2010’s! Since dropping the title to AJ Styles in November 2017, Jinder has spent far more time on the shelf with multiple injuries than he has being an active competitor. No injury is going to be enough to counter that WWE Title reign on a scale of “cursed” to “not cursed,” though, me thinks.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

2013 – Rey Mysterio: This was Rey’s first appearance in over a month because he had been taking time off to deal with some nagging injuries. Six weeks after this, he injured his knee and needed to take eight months off. Five months after returning from the knee injury, he injured his wrist. That caused him to miss nearly an entire year, and then he was gone, choosing not to re-sign with the company. Three weeks after leaving WWE, Rey would be involved in a tragic accident in Mexico that would see one of his opponents, Perro Aguayo Jr., die in the middle of the match. After being dropkicked into the ropes to set up a 619, Aguayo’s body went limp. He was tended to by medical staff and rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The official cause of death was listed as a heart attack that was brought on by a cervical stroke suffered due to a broken neck. Rey would be cleared of any wrongdoing, and people with even half a brain could see that it was nothing more than an extremely unfortunate accident, but can you imagine how rough that must have been for him to go through? Aguayo was someone that Rey had known since their days in AAA together, back before Rey had ever debuted for ECW or WCW. Rey’s time away from WWE wouldn’t be all bad, though, as he would have some really crazy “dream match” scenarios. He would team up with Bandido and Fenix to take on Kota Ibushi and The Young Bucks at All In, which was, of course, the show put on by the Bucks and Cody Rhodes that would lead them to start AEW. After working in Lucha Underground, Rey wrestled for New Japan, teaming up with Jushin “Thunder” Liger and Hiroshi Tanahashi to take on Cody, Adam Page, and Marty Scurll of Bullet Club. He made a couple surprise appearances for WWE in 2018 before officially signing a deal to return in 2019, and he has been there ever since. His most recent WWE stint has been a bit of a mixed bag, though. He would win the United States Title twice in 2019, but one of the reigns was cut short by a shoulder injury and the other ended at a house show after only a month. There was also the Smackdown Tag Team Title reign that he had with his son, Dominik, in 2021. That must’ve been a blast for both him and his son. However, before that tag reign, there was also the ridiculous feud he had with Seth Rollins that involved people nearly losing eyeballs and the introduction of his kids into storylines for the first time. Now, of course, Rey has had to sit back and watch as his son… his first born… has begun to run with the wrong crowd and go from that sweet little kid he knew growing up to the hardened criminal that he is today. With Rey still being an active in-ring competitor, he has time to turn things around, but damn… go back to the beginning of this entry. That is some rotten luck, time and time again. I don’t think I have a choice here.

The Verdict: Cursed

2014 – Kevin Nash: Looking back at the most recent version of this column, I read the Nash entry, and it just made me sad. I came to the conclusion, pretty quickly, that he wasn’t cursed. Why? Well, because two months after this Royal Rumble appearance, Big Kev would induct his best friend, Scott Hall, into the WWE Hall Of Fame. The following year, Kev himself became a member of the WWE Hall Of Fame. I also mentioned that Nash would be inducted again in 2020, this time as a member of the nWo, making him one of only eight men (Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Booker T, Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Sean Waltman being the others) to be inducted twice. One more thing was mentioned in that entry a couple years back… Nash having a bit of a legal issue in 2014 when he was arrested for battery against his son, Tristen, who was 18 years old at the time. Charges would go on to be dropped, and it was said that Kevin was only defending his wife on the night he was arrested. Well, fast forward two years, and what updates do we have? Scott Hall passed away on March 14th, 2022, after suffering multiple heart attacks due to complications from hip surgery. Seven months later, Tristen Nash passed away due to cardiac arrest that was triggered by a seizure as a result of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Just like that, the positives from the previous column were ripped away from him. He has been very vocal and open, thanks to his Kliq This podcast, about the pain and grief he has dealt with over the passing of his best friend and then his son. Still, there has been a lot of concern about his mental health, and his attempts at dark humor to cope aren’t helping him. We all know people who have those dark senses of humor, but when you hear someone who has been through what he went through in 2022 talk about putting a gun in his mouth, your first reaction probably isn’t “oh, that Kev is such a jokester!” With what he’s been through, and continues to battle on a daily basis, I have to change the verdict here. Hopefully, when I do this column again several years from now, we can add some more positivity to this entry and change the verdict again.

The Verdict: Cursed

2015 – Diamond Dallas Page: As I said in my last version of this column, DDP might be the most powerful person on the planet because he has been in TWO Royal Rumble matches in the #14 spot, and he remains one of the most positive, uplifting people you will ever see. The odds of him beating this curse twice are insane. You’d be more likely to win this week’s Powerball lottery and then win the Mega Millions lottery two days later, and yet, DDP pulled this off. Consider my mind blown.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

2016 – Stardust: We’re back to this old chestnut… a few months after someone entered the Royal Rumble in the 14th spot, they were gone from the company altogether. Cody Rhodes was growing more and more frustrated with the Stardust gimmick, and he would repeatedly ask WWE to drop it and move him on to something else. When those requests were ignored, Cody asked for his release. After leaving WWE, Cody would become one of the hottest acts in all of wrestling. He worked for a ton of independent promotions, was an entrant in PWG’s Battle Of Los Angeles tournament in 2016, won the RoH World Title in 2017, and had a brief run in Impact Wrestling. The most fun he had seemed to be when he went to Japan and worked for New Japan, joining the Bullet Club and eventually being part of the group’s “civil war” storyline when he and Kenny Omega would battle over control of the group. All of Cody’s post-WWE stuff made him look like he was a mega star, and that WWE screwed up by saddling him with the Stardust gimmick and then letting him go. Then, of course, Cody helped to start AEW, becoming one of the Executive Vice Presidents of the company, and created a ton of buzz in the wrestling world. He was a big part of AEW building a big enough fan base to sell out shows, get on pay-per-view, and on national prime time television. Then, just as AEW was continuing to grow… Cody shocked the wrestling world by leaving the company to make a return to WWE. Cody showing up at WrestleMania as Seth Rollins’ mystery opponent was largely viewed as one of the biggest wrestling moments in 2022, and even though he is currently sidelined with a torn pectoral tendon, he has clearly positioned himself as that mega star he has looked like, and it certainly looks like his 2023 is going to be his biggest and best year in the business yet.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

2017 – Kofi Kingston: Two-and-a-half months after the 2017 Rumble, Kofi would be forced to miss some time with an ankle injury, but I think it’s safe to say he has bounced back. The New Day have won the Smackdown Tag Team Titles seven times since this Rumble took place, and even if Kofi wasn’t involved in the match (as he was during two of the title victories), he’s still credited with a reign because of New Day’s usage of the Freebird Rule. Kofi would also add two Raw Tag Team Title reigns and an NXT Tag Team Title reign to his trophy case. It was a singles win that saw him make the biggest splash, though. 2019 was the year of KofiMania, as he would rise all the way up the ranks to become the WWE Champion at WrestleMania 35 in a storyline that had the WWE Universe emotionally invested in every minute. Although New Day wouldn’t quite be the same with the rise of The Usos in the domination of The Bloodline, as well as Big E’s neck injury in March 2022, Kofi remains very popular, and he’ll probably be in contention for some sort of Tag Titles until the day he retires.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

2018 – Shinsuke Nakamura: Oooh, let’s get SPICY with the curse discussion. Shinsuke was the 14th entrant in the 2018 Rumble, and he went on to win the whole shebang. That’s it. Wrap it up. The curse has truly been defeated. Not so fast, my friends. As WrestleMania 34 came around, Nakamura had all the momentum in the world, and his WWE Title match with AJ Styles was expected to be a Match Of The Year contender. It… wasn’t that. The match was fine, but it didn’t even come close to meeting the expectations people had for it. To make it even worse, after unsuccessfully trying to become the WWE Champion, Nakamura would turn heel after the match. It was a move that nobody wanted, nobody asked for, and nobody was buying. Three weeks later, Nakamura had another shot at the title, but he and AJ went to a double-countout. Two weeks later, he had another shot at the title, but it was a draw, with neither man able to respond to a ten count after landing simultaneous nut shots on each other. Five weeks later, he had yet another shot at the title, but he would be pinned by Styles. Do the math… that’s four WWE Title matches in the span of ten weeks, and Shinsuke was unsuccessful in becoming the champion each time. His career has never been the same since that happened. Even while winning midcard titles or teaming with Cesaro to win the Smackdown Tag Team Titles, he was never viewed as the threat he was in the beginning of 2018. It was one of the biggest WWE screw-ups of the modern era, and is exhibit #982630997 of how much Vince McMahon fucking sucks at this “wrestling creative” thing. Nakamura’s case isn’t as extreme as many of the men mentioned in this column already, but to be a part of a fumble so blatant and so ridiculous places him in the “cursed” category. It isn’t just for those who died or have suffered tremendous personal tragedies, after all.

The Verdict: Cursed

2019 – Dean Ambrose: Say it loud with me for everyone in the back… within a few months of this Rumble appearance, he was gone from the company. Three months after this show, his contract expired after he refused to re-sign. Since leaving WWE, the man has done nothing but find success everywhere he goes. Two reigns as the IWGP United States Champion for New Japan, one reign as the Game Changer Wrestling Champion, and, of course, three reigns (plus one interim reign) as the AEW World Champion. His first reign as the AEW World Champion was, arguably, the best reign in that title’s history. It was nine months of him putting the entire promotion on his back and helping to elevate AEW to another level. Leaving WWE was one of the best decisions he ever made, as it allowed him to be himself, wrestling the way he wants, wrestling where he wants, and wrestling who he wants. On a personal level, he also became a father for the first time in 2021, so that’s also nice. He even found the strength to admit he had a problem with alcohol, checking into rehab and getting sober, returning in perhaps the best shape of his career. He’s having about as strong a post-WWE life as you can have so far.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

2020 – Braun Strowman: Time for someone else that has seen their verdict change since the last time I did a column like this. Braun was once one of the hottest acts in all of wrestling, and even though he had cooled off a bit by the start of 2020, things still looked good for him. A week after the Rumble, he beat Shinsuke Nakamura to become the new Intercontinental Champion, holding the title for five weeks. Two months after the Rumble, he defeated Goldberg to win the Universal Champion, finally winning a World Title after the aforementioned stretch as one of the hottest acts in wrestling. The issue with his Universal Title win is that he was a last-minute replacement in the match for Roman Reigns, who pulled out of the show over COVID concerns. Sure, Braun was the champion fair and square, but it always just felt like he was keeping the title warm for someone else. After WrestleMania, he became yet another victim of WWE’s trap where they would book someone against Bray Wyatt and have them be involved in some of the dumbest, most horrendous nonsense you’ll ever see. He lost multiple matches to Wyatt, including dropping the title to him at SummerSlam, and would then be attacked by a returning Roman Reigns. He would close the year out by missing two months with a leg injury. At the time, I figured he still had enough success to avoid the curse. Then came 2021, which changed things. He would be placed into a feud with Shane McMahon, where he… the 28-foot-tall monster… would constantly complain about how much he was bullied, and Shane… the non-wrestler who would sweat buckets and turn multiple shades of purple simply walking to the ring… continuously calling him stupid and making him look like it at every turn. When he was finally done with that feud, he failed to really gain any traction, and then he was shockingly released from his contract on June 2nd. He would then be involved in the laughably bad Control Your Narrative promotion, only to make a surprise return to WWE in September of last year. He was built up really well upon his return, coming back in incredible shape and looking every bit of the monster that he once was. Then he decided to make an unnecessary (especially because he’s a face) comment about “flippy flipper” wrestlers on Twitter, getting destroyed from every corner of the internet, from wrestlers and fans of every promotion you can think of, and showing why Shane McMahon might’ve been right about him all along. Perhaps it was a coincidence, and perhaps it wasn’t, but after he made the tweets, his push seemed to disappear. He lost to Ricochet, one of the ultimate “flippy flipper” wrestlers out there, and then failed to defeat Gunther and take the Intercontinental Title, even though he was being built to do so for a while. From the moment he won the Universal Title, it seems like it has been almost all downhill for the guy, hence me switching his verdict.

The Verdict: Cursed

2021 – Damian Priest: This would be Priest’s debut as a member of the main roster (he was a member of Team NXT at the 2019 Survivor Series). He started off hot on Raw, building up a bit of an undefeated streak and being part of a high-profile WrestleMania match where he teamed with Bad Bunny to defeat the team of The Miz and John Morrison. A back injury would force Priest to miss over a month, but when he returned, he was placed in a feud with Sheamus, who was the United States Champion. SummerSlam would see the crowning of a new champion, and Priest would hold the title for 191 days, making it the longest United States Title reign since Dean Ambrose held it for just short of a full year from May 19th, 2013 to May 5th, 2014. It would be the seventh-longest United States Title reign in WWF/WWE history. After finally dropping the title, Priest would turn heel and go on to help form The Judgment Day a month later when he helped Edge defeat AJ Styles at WrestleMania 38. The Judgment Day has certainly seen their share of ups and downs, including the entire Edge heel turn in the first place and the switch to Finn Balor as the “leader” of the group, even though Priest’s heel turn started when he attacked Balor in the first place. However, nothing has been bad enough to even come close to warrant Priest suffering from the curse. He has actually had a really good main roster run so far, with that United States Title reign, but also with his ability to have quality matches week in and week out, both as a face and now as a heel. He’s going to be 41 years old this year, but I think the best might be yet to come for him.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

2022 – Dominik Mysterio: The son joins the father on the list! 2021 saw Dominik and his father teaming up to win the Smackdown Tag Team Titles, which had to be an absolute dream come true for both of them. 2022, on the other hand, has been very different for Dom. He didn’t fare well in this Rumble appearance, but he was still able to participate in a high-profile match at WrestleMania, where he and his father faced The Miz and Logan Paul. They lost the match, but getting to participate in a match at WrestleMania that is getting mainstream publicity is still a big deal. The next big step for Dominik was a feud against The Judgment Day, who were trying to recruit him to join their group and turn his back on his father. After what seemed like forever, Dom would turn heel and join them. As a member of Judgment Day, Dom has largely been protected. Finn Balor and Damian Priest tend to handle most of the heavy lifting when it comes to promos and in-ring work, while Rhea Ripley has had a real star-making performance, positioning herself as someone who very well could be the next big WrestleMania main event star in the women’s division. Dom’s role has mainly been character work, and he has been able to show a comedic side that he was never able to showcase before. As a hardened criminal who, while locked away from society, has seen some things that no human being should witness, he is at an interesting fork in the road. He could take that fork and use it to shank someone who he feels has disrespected him, or he could turn his life around and make something of his life. Time will tell what choice he makes, but for right now, there’s no reason whatsoever to say that he has been cursed. He just might want to stay away from his father during any future holiday events.

The Verdict: Not Cursed

 

There you have it. With 35 Royal Rumbles, we have seen 16 instances of the curse striking the person who entered the match in the #14 spot. The 36th Rumble event takes place this weekend, and all eyes are going to be on who walks out when the buzzer goes off to signal the 14th entrant.

 

 

Weekly Power Rankings

Bryan Danielson vs Bandido: Fire. Straight fire. Another pay-per-view quality match, which is just what you’re going to expect with these two involved. Once again, though, it’s worth pointing out that Bandido debuted in AEW and immediately excited the fan base… and lost. Then he lost again in his third match for the company. This match was his fourth televised match with AEW (fifth overall), and he lost again. Four matches… three losses. He’s the new Konosuke Takeshita, all while Konosuke Takeshita is still playing the role of Konosuke Takeshita. There are approximately 500 people on the roster. You’re telling me you can’t round up a few people to lose to guys like Bandido and Takeshita every now and then?

The Trial Of Sami Zayn: I’ve said it a million times, but what we’re seeing in this story with The Bloodline is a master class and is something wrestling fans are going to be talking about for years to come. Everyone in the group has had multiple layers of character development. There have been twists and turns. When things need to be serious, they’re serious, but when things need to be silly, they’re able to pull that off very well. Fans are being taken on a ride right now, and although that ride is definitely getting close to coming to an end, we’re still excited for everything.

Banger Bros vs The Viking Raiders: A really entertaining, back-and-forth physical battle with two teams who want to earn a shot at the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. It’s amazing what can happen when there’s something on the line in a wrestling match, isn’t it?

The Young Bucks vs Top Flight: The Bucks have found a fine balance between not losing tag matches very often and losing just enough tag matches to help put other teams over. This was only the 11th straight-up tag match they’ve lost since AEW started, and Top Flight becomes the tenth team to beat them (Penta & Fenix have beaten them twice). It is usually a good sign of things to come when a team beats them, and that lines up nicely with Top Flight working with the Blackpool Combat Club recently, looking great as they did so. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Mark Briscoe Getting To Wrestle On Dynamite: Warner Bros. Discovery changed their minds about having The Briscoes appear on AEW programming. It’s a fucking shame that it happened after Jay Briscoe passed away, but they’ve given the green light to Mark Briscoe wrestling on Dynamite this week and having a tribute match against Jay Lethal. It’s going to be an incredibly emotional match, but I can’t wait to see it. Again, though, Warner Bros. Discovery should be ashamed of themselves for the stance they’ve taken against someone who was oh-so-clearly apologetic for the mistakes he made in the past.

The Usos vs The Judgment Day: Oh, hey, more fun with The Bloodline! Sure, the story told here didn’t make any sense, but the crowd still loved it. Jimmy Uso is “injured” in the middle of the match, and instead of the match being thrown out or Jey Uso being forced to go at it alone, Adam Pearce comes out and says the match will be a forfeit loss for The Usos, but then Sami Zayn steps up to take Jimmy’s place. From the time Sami joined the match, the drama was kicked up by a million. Every pin attempt by Damian Priest or Dominik Mysterio became a HUGE deal, as fans were waiting for Sami to be the reason The Usos lost, just to see how Roman Reigns would react to that. Good stuff here.

Darby Allin vs Kushida: It was good to see Kushida again. He’s one of the greatest cruiserweights/junior heavyweights/light heavyweights of all-time, and he got to show a lot of that here. The outcome of the match was never in question, which does take a bit away from the entire package, but both men were able to play to their strengths. It made for high quality work.

DX/Kurt Angle/Imperium Segment: I know some people disliked this, especially with word that the Becky Lynch vs Bayley match needed to be cut from Raw because of issues with time, feeling that this segment could’ve been trimmed or outright removed to give Becky and Bayley time. While I can’t completely disagree with that, I still enjoyed this segment. DX got to play the hits, so to speak, but they didn’t squash anybody, like they’ve done in previous reunions they’ve had on WWE programming. Kurt Angle was funny as the random replacement for Billy Gunn. Imperium, and specifically Gunther, got to look really strong. Seth Rollins and The Street Profits got to get some fun reactions from a hot Philadelphia crowd. Teddy Long made a great cameo that made a lot of sense. *shrug*

Brawling Brutes vs Imperium: Like I said earlier, isn’t it amazing what can happen in wrestling when there are actual stakes on the line in a match? Too often, you’ll see matches thrown together at random, and it doesn’t matter who wins, who loses, who looks strong, and so on. Butch, Ridge Holland, Giovanni Vinci, and Ludwig Kaiser put on a wildly physical battle. I know a lot of folks were excited for the possibility of Butch and Ridge facing Sheamus and Drew McIntyre in the finals of the tournament, but I like Imperium getting the win. Kaiser and Vinci needed to look strong, because they can’t look like bums while they stand next to Gunther.

Action Andretti vs Daniel Garcia: Andretti is on a mission to defeat everyone in the Jericho Appreciation Society, which will then be followed by him facing people from Chris Jericho’s past. Lance Storm will be lined up for a match soon, and so will Rhino. Ultimo Dragon will be next, followed by Gedo and Shane Douglas. Jerry Lynn and Masahiro Chono will be next. Dean Malenko is next, and then comes Billy Kidman. Rob Van Dam will be the next to show up in AEW. It will all come to an end with Goldberg’s AEW debut as Andretti’s mystery opponent at Double Or Nothing 2025. Mark it down.

Seth Rollins & The Street Profits vs Imperium: A good, house show-style match that followed the entertaining promo segment I mentioned earlier. Good work from all six men involved. Nothing offensive here at all. Rollins continues to be incredibly over as a face.

Willie Mack vs Brian Cage: *clears throat* BIG MEATY MEN, SLAPPING MEAT!

Tiffany Stratton: As I’ve said before, she is the next Bianca Belair, although she is ahead of where Bianca was at this stage of her career. After being away from television for five months, Stratton returned and looked even better in the ring than she did back in August. The future remains incredibly bright for her.

“American Badass” Undertaker: We haven’t seen this version of The Undertaker in about 20 years, so it was cool to see it again for one night. I’m glad Taker didn’t come out to beat LA Knight down, instead leaving it up to Bray Wyatt to take Knight down with a Sister Abigail.

The Creed Brothers vs Drew Gulak & Hank Walker: Give me The Creeds vs Indus Sher! This was fun. The Creeds were their usual destructive selves, but Gulak was able to shine as a ring general here, and even Hank Walker looked good for a bit. It all worked.

 

 

This Week’s Playlist: “Love From The Other Side” by Fall Out Boy… “HEROES” by Macklemore & DJ Premier… “Aqua Regia” by Sleep Token… “Granite” by Sleep Token… “Welcome To The Eastside” by KXNG Crooked… “Can’t Knock The Hustle” by Richie Evans, Rick Ross & Vedo… “Meet Your Maker” by In Flames… “Sing To The Grave” by Chelsea Grin… “10:35” by The Veer Union… “The Hanging Tree” by Elvenking… “Talk To Me” by As The Structure Fails… “0