a jim jividen blog

Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2011 Royal Rumble Preview/Top 10 Royal Rumble Matches of all Time/Who is the Most Successful Real World Alum of All Time?



Sunday is the Royal Rumble.  As I've done, in one form or another, for almost 15 years, that means I preview the show for Kirk Hiner, my longtime on again, off again writing partner, who has largely moved away from following the goings on at World Wrestling Entertainment.

Me?  Not so much.

My preview of the 2010 Royal Rumble is here.  My listing of the best wrestling matches of 2010, including the top ten for WWE is here. My list of every 4 star match in WWF/WWE history is here.

And you could probably poke around and find additional...less savory wrestling related writings.

So, if you aren't Kirk (and since he's in San Francisco, my ancestral home, this weekend..I think for the Adult Video News Awards, perhaps nominated for Best Gang Bang) it's likely that you are not Kirk, you can certainly stick around, but this is really not written for you.

Hey, Kirk - am I too old, too established in my Professor J. lifestyle, to tell that joke?

So, the other day, we're watching a rerun of one of those To Catch a Predator type shows, and the screen name of the guy about to get caught in the sting is Tunnels12000.  I thought that was a curious choice of handle: "tunnels" - and the joke I wrote was I wonder if that's some type of child molester code; if there were a series of safehouses leading the accused to Venezuela or some other country with whom the US doesn't have a strong extradition treaty, like part of a NAMBLA Underground Railroad.  Tunnels12000 might be the pedophile Harriet Tubman.

I wrote that joke, but then I didn't put it in the Sunday Tendown blog, out of concern that a search for "jim jividen" + "pedophile harriet tubman" might one day cost me a job.

That's the difference between me at 40, writing about Royal Rumble 2011, and me at, I don't know, 30, previewing the Benoit/Jericho ladder match for you.  Hopefully my work hasn't degraded as far as has WWE.

With that - the Rumble is always good, a can't miss gimmick, and it's Sunday from Boston.

WWE Championship: The Miz v. Randy Orton
-When last we left our story, Orton was the champ, successfully defending the strap against Wade Barrett at Survivor Series, with the stip, recall, being that if Orton retained the title, then special guest referee Cena would have to leave WWE....forever...

Which has happened, obviously.  I wonder what ever happened to that Cena fellow.  Perhaps he's been named Employee of the Month at some Walmart in Kansas City over a half dozen significantly more deserving co-workers.

Orton lost the next night to the Miz, who had a number one contender's briefcase won at an earlier PPV, and we're still in that program.  Miz (heavily supported by Michael Cole, whose periodic heel character seems to ebb and flow throughout the broadcast) is booked as the undeserving heel champion, just surviving by chicanery.  This is a reasonable analysis of his skill; Meltzer was a significant cheerleader for Miz getting this title run, with his ability to work not part of the discussion.  Miz isn't a bad wrestler, in fact, the best WWE match of the year thusfar was his successful defense against John Morrison on RAW (3 3/4 stars, which will almost certainly mean it will finish the year in the WWE Top 10, and maybe even the Top 5) although that was almost entirely due to Morrison.  But it's not his work, nor even his promo ability (which is okay/good, but not special in any way) that gets him his title - it's the Real World, as Miz got some mainstream media run following his winning the title.  And in 2011 WWE, they need all the publicity they can get.  Enough so that you'd expect, somehow, the Miz to keep the title here - in fact, to keep it all the way until Wrestlemania. 

Okay - who is the most successful Real World alum?  24 years - each year gets a winner.  Let's run it down.

1 - Kevin.  An early upset, given Eric's out of the gate celebrity.  In fact, for peak value "who was the most famous Real Worlder at any one time" - it's Eric and it's easy.  But Kevin's articles, books, films, and the possibility of a NYC congressional seat wins the year for me.
2. Tami.  Not a big year for successful alums.  Could be that there's been non-public success by one of the guys who left the MTV family as quickly as he could. Tami gets the call for me because she's still getting reality show work based on marrying one of those NYC prep legend ballplayers.  Kenny Anderson, I think.  Or maybe Lloyd Daniels.  Or Pearl Washington.  I don't know.
3. Judd - his long comic book run beats out his wife being an AIDS researcher.  Because what's more important, really, in the overall scheme of things? Here I'm just operating from a lack of information, as I don't know Pam's level of success in her field.  It's telling about the strength of season 3 that Rachel, who I just saw talking about her blog on one of the cable news networks just this week, has to finish third.  Hell, maybe fourth behind Pedro, and I'm not being facetious.  Here's a good competition, Judd/Pam v. Rachel/Sean for most successful RW couple ever.  Miz should start banging Jamie Chung to make it a three way dance.
4. Jacinda - she's solidly done films for the past decade, and would be a contender in a "who was the hottest Real Worlder" list, should that ever happen (my initial response - Melinda, with DC Emily as a dark horse).   But I'm uncertain how to connect that list to Royal Rumble 2011. 
5. Dan - I still occasionally run into Dan, either through something he's written online or talking about some gay related issue, so he wins this less competitive year.
6. Sean - probably wins the whole contest, as he won his Congressional election and Kevin lost his; Sean might entirely be an empty suit, there's a path to success in this country based on family positioning and political connections that might account for his status - but it's status nonetheless.  Is Sean going to be Governor of Wisconsin one day?
7. Lindsay - I think, 'cause I know she still has some level of radio career.  I was a little hot for her during that Seattle season.
8. Justin - He's a complex litigation attorney in NYC, other than Miz/Jamie he'll probably pull down the largest income of any alum in 2011.  Although - since he quit before the end of the season, that probably makes him a RW dropout and not an alum, so he wouldn't be on a smarter list than this.  It's sort of like when the NFL players list their schools, even if they didn't graduate.
9. Matt - he delivered his own baby at the side of a road in 2010, and that's enough to win season 9.
10. Miz
11. Kyle - he's producing Jim Rome's radio show
12. Trishelle - presumably, her run as kinda hot, "oops, where are my pants" girl has come to an end, and a list like this in ten years won't include her, but right now, she still wins Vegas.  She's playing poker now.  Thumbs up to Trishelle for milking every drop of fame out of her pioneering hot tub threesome.  Again, still not being facetious.
13. CT - 'cause everytime there's some mass homicide, like at that Russian airport this week, I half suspect CT, and eventually, when he's the correct culprit, this makes me look prescient. 
14. Jamie - she's blown by Jacinda and is now the most succesful actor coming out of RW, as she got the Hangover sequel; you'd put her below the Miz right now...I think...if you're talking about entertainment success...but he's hit his ceiling and she has a theoretical shot to go by him.  Nah, she's by him.  Miz is more famous today, this very second - he can get on Conan and she can't, but that's true for another 3 months.  Jamie > Miz.
15. Uh...let's say Landon, because he won the Challenge last year.
16. Melinda - just for the hotness.
17. Tyler?  Again, for Challenge success.
18. Jenn?  This is not a good run for the alums; to be fair, they're young enough, freshly removed from RW that beyond remaining on MTV it's asking too much for a 3 page resume.  We really see that break between season 14 and 15, no one is coming who could crack a top 5 list.
19.  KellyAnne?
20. Kim?  This has become the "hottest real worlder ever" competition after all.
21. Ryan
22. CJ
23. Emily
24. Eric

What were we talking about again?  Bad Girls Club?  No - that's not...oh yeah.  Miz keeps.  Some type of screwjob.  Won't be terrible.

(Edit - Miz kept.  Screwjob.  Wasn't terrible.  3 1/4 stars.)


World Championship: Edge v. Dolph Ziggler
-It's Edge's 6th run with this belt; it hasn't been a good one.  Kane, recall, was champ when we last left the story - he and Edge had a draw at Survivor Series, and then Edge took from him at the December PPV.  Edge, in the storyline, was once married to Eddy's widow Vicki - and now Vicki is with Ziggler, a good young worker who has a little bit of Curt Hennig in him.  Ziggler was IC Champ back at Survivor Series and now, theoretically, this is an attempt to push him to the next level.  Edge is gonna keep; this should be the best match of the night.

(Edit - Edge kept.  Best match of the night. 3 1/2 stars and I would have liked it better than that if not for the screwy Vicki on the apron/ref bump finish.)


Women's Match.


As of Thursday morning, that's the whole card, which seems unlikely.


Rumble Match


Hey Kirk - how many entrants are there for the Rumble?

(Kirk would respond with some type of joke here, probably about the Berzerker, but he'd get the answer to the question wrong, because he'd say 30.)

Not this year.  This year it's 40.  I guess it's to sell the show; without Cena or Hunter or the Undertaker (or Jericho/Michaels/Batista) in the singles title matches, this show is entirely sold on the actual Rumble match, so maybe the thought is the curiosity of 40 will drive some buys.

Yeah, I don't know.

They've announced 28 of the names. (edit - as of Saturday morning it's 34)


Alberto Del Rio - he gets pushed super hard on Smackdown doing the Latino JBL gimmick.  He's fine in the way that the Miz is fine.  
CM Punk - Recall Nexus, the big heel group from the first season of NXT?  Punk is now its leader and he's feuding with Cena.
Daniel Bryan - one of the greatest wrestlers who ever lived.  He's still US Champion, they're now putting him with one of the Divas.  Currently, he's nowhere.  
Darren Young - Superstars fodder
David Hart Smith - they broke the Harts up, Harry is the babyface, he's a Superstars guy.
David Otunga - part of the Nexus group
Drew McIntyre - turning face on the Smackdown side, they're giving him a Diva, he's always on the verge of getting pushed
Ezekiel Jackson - bodyguard type, now with the new heel group on Smackdown led by Wade Barrett, former leader of Nexus
Heath Slater - also in that group.  Called the Corre.  
Husky Harris - Mike Rotunda's kid, he's a good young worker, he's in Nexus
Jack Swagger - amateur champ, former Smackdown champ, his push has stopped and his growth as a worker has also
John Cena - yeah, he didn't really leave, he's still here.  He'll be in a main event at WM, so either he wins this or wins at the Feb PPV.
John Morrison - he and Sheamus pulled off the best WWE match of 2010 in December; he can do highspots that no one else in the company does
Justin Gabriel - in the Corre.
Mark Henry - been a babyface for a little while now.  Probably no longer the world's strongest man
Mason Ryan - brand new bodyguard type for Nexus.  Looks like Batista
Michael McGillicutty - Curt Hennig's kid.  In Nexus.  
Primo - Carlito's little brother; Carlito's long since gone.  Primo was a babyface a week ago, but apparently a heel this week.  
R-Truth - Ron Killings, still a face.  Works regularly on Smackdown. 
Rey Mysterio - he's Rey.
Sheamus - his push has stopped since he won King of the Ring last year.
Ted DiBiase - doing a losing streak gimmick that apparently ended on NXT this week, which is now an internet only show.
Tyson Kidd - turned heel in the Harts split.  Stuck on Superstars.
Wade Barrett - moved to Smackdown, now leads the Corre, the Nexus like heel stable over there.  Supposedly, they are setting him up to be the Undertaker's opponent at 27. 
William Regal - Now just a Superstars guy.  Can still go.
Yoshi Tatsu - Stuck on Superstars.  
Zack Ryder - Superstars fodder.

Big Show - he's a real big show
Chris Masters - there's never any reason to watch a Chris Masters match
JTG - the remaining half of Cryme Tyme
Kane - see below for Kane's possible historic night Sunday
Kofi Kingston - Kofi's good
Santino Marella
Vladimir Kozlov - Santino and Kozlov are comedy tag champs


Who wins?  Hell, I don't know.  I'd guess Hunter, in a surprise return.  If not Hunter - Cena/Punk and then Del Rio would be my picks.  I love the Rumble, it's always superfun and I'll enjoy it this year as well.

(Edit - it was Del Rio; 3 1/4 stars, and it was giving back points as it finished.  I really liked the first half - the Danielson/Regal exchanges, the Punk/Danielson dynamic, the terrific Morrison spot, the Chavo suplexes - the Nexus throws everyone out spot - which, incidentally, I did several years ago with the Clique in the number one contender's battle royal over in the Counterfactual.  It was Hornswoggle where they started to lose me; even if you like comedy wrestling, and I don't, that spot just went on forever.  The final four finish neither had any good wrestling or heat - and something I like from a battle royal is when there's just a couple guys left and we get an extended wrestling sequence.  That didn't happen, there really was very little wrestling once Danielson got tossed.  And I hated - just hated the finish - it wasn't just that Santino, a comedy wrestler, was who appeared from under the ring - it was that he was selling that comedy hold he has as the one that would win the Royal Rumble.  It really detracts from the idea of this being important to try to tell me that Santino is a legitimate Rumble winner, and at 2 men left I have to believe that, much less that he's going to win with a comedy spot.  I hated that finish.)   

It is unlikely that any of Sunday's matches crack the following list:

10 Best Matches in Royal Rumble History:
1. Angle v. Benoit ('03)
2. HHH v. Cactus ('00)
3. Jericho v. Benoit ('01)
4. 2004 Rumble Match (Benoit)
5. 1992 Rumble Match (Flair)
6. Bret v. Diesel ('95)
7. Quebecers v. Bret/Owen ('94)
8. Rockers v. Orient Express ('91)
9. Hardys v. Dudleys ('00)
10. HBK v. HHH ('04)

(edit - they did not).
And now some other stuff.


Past Winners:


2010 - Edge #29

2009 - Randy Orton #8

2008 - John Cena #30

2007 - Undertaker #30

2006 - Rey Mysterio #2

2005 - Batista #28

2004 - Chris Benoit #1

2003 - Brock Lesnar #29

2002 - Triple H #22

2001 - Steve Austin #27

2000 - The Rock #24

1999 - Mr. McMahon #2

1998 - Steve Austin #24

1997 - Steve Austin #5

1996 - Shawn Michaels #18

1995 - Shawn Michaels #1

1994 - Bret Hart #27, Lex Luger #24

1993 - Yokozuna #27

1992 - Ric Flair #3

1991 - Hulk Hogan #24

1990 - Hulk Hogan #25

1989 - Big John Studd #27

1988 - Jim Duggan #13

Most Eliminations (Career): Michaels (38) (Kane needs 4 to tie him)
Most Eliminations (Single Rumble): Kane 2001 (11) (with 40 men this year, will this be broken?)
Longest Time Mysterio 2006 (62 minutes, 12 seconds)

TBOR Athlete of the Month - January, 2011 + 2002 Athlete of the Year

My 2010 Athlete of the year post is here.


Nick Fairley

Runners-up: Aaron Rodgers, Rashard Mendenhall, Jimmer Fredette

I waited until Nadal got knocked out of the Australian Open to finalize that last spot; if Rodgers had a better NFC Championship he would have gotten the nod.

Fairley is now the first contender for 2011 Athlete of the Year.

Back in 2002, the Athlete of the Year was Barry Bonds.  AP took Lance Armstrong, starting a run of four consecutive wins for him; AP's been giving that award since 1931, no one else has ever won 4 in a row.

January - Vernon Forrest (Ken Dorsey, Jerry Rice, Donovan McNabb)
February - Adam Vinatieri (Kobe Bryant, Sarah Hughes, Joe Sakic)
March - Sue Bird (Drew Gooden, Luke Recker, Cael Sanderson)
April - Randy Johnson (Barry Bonds, Tiger Woods, Paul Pierce)
May - Jason Kidd (Mike Cameron, Patrick Roy, Shawn Green)
June - Shaquille O'Neal (Lennox Lewis, Luis Castillo, Ronaldo)
July - Lance Armstrong (Serena Williams, Jeff Kent, Ernie Els)
August - Alex Rodriguez (John Smoltz, Rich Beem, Barry Bonds)
September - Serena Williams (Miguel Tejada, Oscar de la Hoya, Charlie Rogers)
October - Barry Bonds (Russ Ortiz, Emmitt Smith, Troy Glaus)
November - Carson Palmer (Brett Favre, Larry Johnson, Michael Vick)
December - Rich Gannon (Priest Holmes, Marvin Harrison, Mario Lemieux)