Royal Rumble 2009 was the twenty-second annual Royal Rumble professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It took place on January 25, 2009 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan and featured talent from the Raw, SmackDown and ECW brands. As has been customary since 1993, the Royal Rumble match winner received a match at that year's WrestleMania, (in this instance: WrestleMania XXV) for his choice at either the WWE Championship, the World Heavyweight Championship and the ECW World Championship.
Five professional wrestling matches were featured on the event's supercard, a scheduling of more than one main event. The main event was the annual 30-man Royal Rumble match which featured wrestlers from all three brands. Randy Orton, the eighth entrant, won the match by last eliminating Triple H, the seventh entrant. The featured match on the Raw brand was for the World Heavyweight Championship between reigning champion John Cena and John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL), which Cena won by pinfall after performing an Attitude Adjustment. The primary match on the SmackDown brand was a No Disqualification match between Jeff Hardy and Edge for the WWE Championship, which Edge won by pinfall after Matt Hardy interfered in the match and hit Jeff with a steel chair. The predominant match on the ECW brand was between Jack Swagger and Matt Hardy for the ECW Championship, which Swagger won by pinfall after performing a gutwrench powerbomb.
Royal Rumble 2009 featured professional wrestling matches that involved different wrestlers from pre-existing scripted feuds, plots, and storylines played out on Raw, Friday Night SmackDown, and ECW on Sci Fi - World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) primary television programs. Wrestlers portrayed a villain or a hero as they followed a series of events that built tension, and culminated into a wrestling match or series of matches. The event featured wrestlers from WWE's Raw, SmackDown, and ECW brands—a storyline division in which WWE employees were assigned to a television program of the same name.
The prime match scripted into Royal Rumble 2009, the annual Royal Rumble match, has featured at every Royal Rumble event since its inception. The match featured 30 male wrestlers from WWE's three brands; WWE officially announced 23 participants. The match ends when one wrestler remains in the ring after the elimination of all the 29 other wrestlers. (Participants eliminate opponents by tossing them over the top ring-rope and making both their feet touch the floor.) The winner earned an opportunity to challenge for the WWE, World Heavyweight, or ECW Championship at WWE's April WrestleMania XXV pay-per-view.
The main rivalry from the Raw brand played out between John Cena and John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL) over the World Heavyweight Championship. JBL earned his championship match against Cena after winning a Fatal Four-Way Elimination match—a standard match in which the last remaining competitor who has not been eliminated is declared the winner—on the December 29, 2008 episode of Raw by defeating Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, and Shawn Michaels.
Another rivalry from the Raw brand came with Melina challenging Beth Phoenix for her WWE Women's Championship in a singles match. Melina won the opportunity to face Phoenix on the December 29, 2008 episode of Raw by winning a battle royal, a match similar to the Royal Rumble, though with fewer competitors.
The main rivalry from the SmackDown brand incorporated into the Royal Rumble featured Jeff Hardy and Edge, with the two feuding over the WWE Championship. At WWE's previous pay-per-view event, Armageddon, Hardy had defeated defending champion Edge and Triple H in a Triple Threat match, a standard match involving three wrestlers, to win the WWE Championship. On the January 2, 2009 episode of SmackDown, on-air authority figure Vickie Guerrero announced that Edge would face Hardy for the WWE title at the Royal Rumble.
The ECW brand's main rivalry, that between Jack Swagger and Matt Hardy, had the two feuding over the ECW Championship. On the January 13, 2009 edition of ECW on Syfy, Swagger defeated Hardy to capture the ECW Championship. On the January 16 episode of Friday Night SmackDown, WWE announced that Swagger would defend the ECW title against Hardy in a rematch at the Royal Rumble.
The first match of the evening saw Jack Swagger defend the ECW Championship against Matt Hardy. The match started with both wrestlers countering the other's moves until Swagger injured Hardy's left shoulder and then targeted it for the rest of the match. Swagger ultimately defeated Hardy by pinning him after slamming him to the mat with a gutwrench powerbomb. Swagger thus retained the ECW title. The second match on the card involved the WWE Women's Championship, where Beth Phoenix defended her title against Melina. The match ended as Phoenix attempted to perform the Glam Slam on Melina, but the latter countered it into a roll-up pin, giving her the win and the Women's Championship.
Main event matches
The third match on the card pitted John Cena against JBL for the World Heavyweight Championship. JBL's employee Shawn Michaels accompanied him to the ring and first got involved in the match when the referee became incapacitated; he came into the ring and performed his Sweet Chin Music finisher both on JBL and Cena. He then left ringside, leaving JBL's arm on top of Cena. Cena however managed to get a shoulder up and performed an Attitude Adjustment to retain his World Championship.
The fourth match on the card involved the WWE Championship, as Jeff Hardy defended his title against Edge. Before the match began Vickie Guerrero came out and announced it as a No Disqualification match. Edge then revealed that Chavo Guerrero would be in his corner. During the match Hardy brought a ladder out and set it up near the Spanish announce table. When Chavo tried to interfere, Hardy put him on the table and jumped off the ladder, connecting with Chavo and breaking the table. Hardy then had the match won when he performed the Swanton on Edge after kicking Vickie off the apron when she tried to interfere. When Hardy went for the pin, Vickie stopped referee Scott Armstrong from making a three count. Jeff's brother Matt then made his way to the ring, placing a chair under Edge's face. Grabbing another chair, Matt at first appeared to be setting Edge up for his own version of Edge's con-chair-to maneuver. He instead hit Jeff in the head with the chair, allowing Edge to then pin Jeff and become the new WWE Champion.
The main event consisted of the Royal Rumble match. Rey Mysterio and John Morrison started the Rumble. The final six participants left in the match were The Big Show, The Undertaker, Triple H and The Legacy (Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase and Randy Orton). While the Undertaker and Big Show brawled on the outside apron (both went over the top rope, but had not hit the floor), Orton eliminated Big Show with an RKO, causing him to fall off the apron. Big Show eliminated The Undertaker shortly thereafter when he pulled his opponent off the apron by his leg. Despite being at a disadvantage against the Legacy, Triple H eliminated both DiBiase and Rhodes. With Triple H by the ropes, Orton quickly clotheslined him from behind to send him over the top rope and become the winner of the Royal Rumble match.
On the January 26 episode of Raw, The Legacy came out with two lawyers and a therapist. Randy Orton then revealed that he suffers from IED, which causes him to experience violent outbursts when provoked, losing all control of his emotions and actions. According to Orton and his lawyers, Orton had told Stephanie McMahon that if fired, he would not only take DiBiase and Rhodes with him but the whole locker room, as he would bring in a lawsuit against the company.
The Raw brand started the qualifying matches for the brand's upcoming Elimination Chamber match at WWE's next pay-per-view event, No Way Out. Three of the qualifying matches saw Kofi Kingston defeat Kane, Rey Mysterio defeat William Regal and Chris Jericho defeat CM Punk to qualify. In a fourth qualification match, Shawn Michaels failed to win a match against John Cena that would have made JBL eligible to participate in the Elimination Chamber.
The ECW Championship feud between Jack Swagger and Matt Hardy had officially finished when ECW's on-air authority figure Theodore Long announced on the January 27 episode of ECW that Hardy had requested a move to the SmackDown brand. Swagger had other problems as his ECW title belt was stolen by Hornswoggle. When Hornswoggle's storyline father, Finlay, urged Hornswoggle to give the title back to Swagger, Swagger shoved Hornswoggle to the ground, which caused Finlay to knock down Swagger with his own title.
On the January 30 episode of SmackDown, Matt Hardy proclaimed that he had no remorse about smashing his brother Jeff in the head at the Royal Rumble and costing him the WWE Championship. He then told the universe that he no longer considered Jeff a partner or a sibling. There were three Elimination Chamber qualifiers for No Way Out. The first match being The Undertaker versus Mark Henry, which Undertaker won via submission with the Hell's Gate. The second qualifier match was The Big Show defeating Festus with a K.O. Punch. The last qualifier was a triple threat match featuring Triple H, The Great Khali and Vladimir Kozlov. Triple H won the match after he delivered a Pedigree to Khali to pick up the victory.
Melina would successfully retain her Women's Championship against Beth Phoenix on two occasions before she was drafted to the Smackdown brand. Melina later engaged in a feud with the villainous Michelle McCool, which would lead to Melina losing the title to McCool at The Bash.
The event was well received by critics. The Sun noted the high quality of the matches, the surprising results, Matt Hardy's heel turn, and a superior-quality Royal Rumble match. Randy Orton's victory was also well praised as it set up an intriguing story for WrestleMania XXV, however, the win was also seen as obvious and predictable. The Sun ended its review with a high 9-out-of-10 score.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dark match: Jimmy Wang Yang defeated Paul Burchill
- Jack Swagger defeated Matt Hardy to retain the ECW Championship (10:27)
- Melina defeated Beth Phoenix (w/ Santino Marella) to win the WWE Women's Championship (5:56)
- John Cena defeated John Bradshaw Layfield (w/ Shawn Michaels) to retain the World Heavyweight Championship (15:29)
- Edge (w/ Chavo Guerrero) defeated Jeff Hardy in a No Disqualification Match to win the WWE Championship (19:22)
- Randy Orton won the 2009 Royal Rumble Match (58:37)
Royal Rumble Results
|1||Rey Mysterio||19||Big Show||49:24|
|2||John Morrison||6||Triple H||19:32|
|5||The Great Khali||1||Kozlov||1:30|
|6||Vladimir Kozlov||4||Triple H||2:40|
|10||Ted DiBiase||27||Triple H||45:11|
|13||The Miz||5||Triple H||1:18|
|15||Cody Rhodes||28||Triple H||37:01|
|16||The Undertaker||26||Big Show*||32:29|
|18||CM Punk||18||Big Show||22:29|
|23||Kane||24||Rhodes, DiBiase and Orton||18:21|
|25||Rob Van Dam||22||Jericho||14:56|
|26||The Brian Kendrick||13||Triple H||0:15|
|29||Jim Duggan||16||Big Show||2:50|
|30||The Big Show||25||Orton||9:32|
- Big Show was eliminated by Orton before hand, but Show eliminated Undertaker afterwards
Other on-screen talent
- This marked the return of Rob Van Dam. He hadn't been with the company since 2007.
- Official Royal Rumble website
- Royal Rumble 2009 on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2009 at CAGEMATCH.net
- Royal Rumble 2009 at Online World of Wrestling
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