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Royal Rumble 2008 was the twenty-first annual Royal Rumble professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It took place on January 27, 2008 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York and featured talent from the Raw, SmackDown and ECW brands. The event was also the first WWE pay-per-view broadcast in high definition. As has been customary since 1993, the Royal Rumble match winner received a match at that year's WrestleMania, (in this instance: WrestleMania XXIV) for his choice at either the WWE Championship, the World Heavyweight Championship, or 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. John Cena, the thirtieth entrant, won the match by last eliminating Triple H, the twenty-ninth entrant. The predominant match on the Raw brand was Randy Orton versus Jeff Hardy for the WWE Championship, which Orton won by pinfall after performing an RKO. The primary match on the SmackDown brand was Edge versus Rey Mysterio for the World Heavyweight Championship, which Edge won by pinfall after spearing Mysterio in mid-air. The featured matches on the undercard were Montel Vontavious Porter versus Ric Flair in a Career Threatening match and John "Bradshaw" Layfield versus Chris Jericho.
Royal Rumble featured professional wrestling matches that involved different wrestlers from pre-existing scripted feuds, plots, and storylines that were 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 main feud on the Raw brand was between the Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton, with the two feuding over the WWE Championship, which was held by Orton. Orton retained the title at Armageddon against the returning Chris Jericho after being disqualified, when the then-SmackDown! broadcaster John "Bradshaw" Layfield ran-in, and booted Jericho in the head. Orton retained the championship, as a result, due to titles not changing hands on disqualifications. On the same night earlier, Jeff Hardy had defeated Triple H to earn the opportunity to face Orton at the Royal Rumble for the WWE Championship. The following night, on the December 17, 2007 edition of Raw, Hardy teamed up with Shawn Michaels to take on Orton and Mr. Kennedy. Hardy gained advantage over Orton, and pinned the champion after a Swanton Bomb to earn the victory for himself and Michaels. Two weeks later, on the last Raw of 2007, Hardy and Orton met face-to-face in an in-ring segment. Orton looked set to RKO Hardy, but Hardy countered, and delivered the Twist of Fate to Orton. Later in the night, Hardy looked set to defeat Santino Marella, until Orton appeared on the Raw TitanTron and stated that he had kicked Jeff's brother Matt where his appendix used to be, proceeding further to punt him in the head. The following week on a special "Raw Roulette" edition of Raw, Hardy defended his Intercontinental Championship against Umaga in a Steel Cage match. Hardy managed to overcome the odds in the Cage, jumping off the top of the cage onto Umaga and hitting a Whisper in the Wind to defeat Umaga. On the January 14, 2008 edition of Raw, Hardy agreed to face Orton that night with his Intercontinental Championship on the line. However, as soon as the bell rang for the match, Orton immediately low-blowed Hardy, getting himself disqualified. Orton tried to deliver an RKO to Hardy on the concrete floor outside that he had exposed by removing the black floor padding, but Hardy retaliated and the two began to brawl up the ramp. When Orton looked set to kick Hardy in the head, the Intercontinental Champion countered and back-dropped Orton onto the arena floor below. Hardy then climbed 30-feet above on the Raw set, and then Swanton Bombed off the side of the set onto Orton below. The following week on Raw, Hardy and Orton were scheduled to "shake hands", but Hardy instead shook the hands of "people he respected more than Orton", like Lilian Garcia, Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross, and several fans in the crowd before re-entering the ring to confront Orton. A frustrated Orton ordered Hardy to shake hands with him, but Hardy performed a Twist of Fate on the WWE Champion instead.
The main feud on the SmackDown brand was between Rey Mysterio and Edge with the two feuding over the latter's World Heavyweight Championship. Mysterio won a Beat the Clock Challenge on the January 4, 2008 edition of SmackDown! defeating Edge with 90 seconds to go, and securing an opportunity for the World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble.
The rivalry between Chris Jericho and John "Bradshaw" Layfield started in Jericho's WWE Championship match against the defending champion, Randy Orton, at Armageddon. During the match, Orton whipped Jericho over the SmackDown! announce table straight into JBL. As Jericho tried to get up, he ended up "nudging" JBL out of his way. Later in the match, Jericho had Orton trapped in the Walls of Jericho, when, JBL stormed into the ring and gave a kick to Jericho's face, thus giving the win to Jericho, but via disqualification, and hence, Jericho did not win the WWE Championship. This led to an argument the next night on Raw, where Jericho, who was angry about not becoming the new WWE Champion, ended up stating to JBL, who confronted Y2J via satellite from the Raw TitanTron, that "John, you are no longer a wrestling god, you're a wrestling afterthought". Afterward, JBL gave his farewell address as SmackDown color commentator on the December 21, 2007 airing of Friday Night SmackDown and announced his return as an active wrestler on Raw. When JBL made his return to Raw on December 31, entering in his personal limousine with balloons and confetti shooting from the ceiling, and proceeded to address the crowd, Jericho quickly interrupted his promo and the two got engaged in a brawl along the barricade. The following week, Jericho was put into a handicap match against Snitsky and JBL. The match started with Snitsky and Jericho in the ring, but, soon after Jericho hit a Springboard dropkick on Snitsky, JBL came into the ring and attacked Jericho from behind. JBL get the better of this confrontation as he hit Jericho on the head with the ring bell and tied a cable wire around his neck. JBL then dragged Jericho, by the wire, from near the ring to the Raw set, where he assaulted him some more. Jericho suffered from a bruised larynx, burns around his neck, and had difficulty speaking for a week.
Prior to the annual Royal Rumble match, several qualifying matches for the match took place on Raw. The first qualifying match was on the December 31, 2007 edition of Raw as Umaga quickly defeated Jim Duggan to earn a place in the Rumble. Snitsky also defeated Drew McIntyre at a house show in White Plains, New York to also qualify for the Royal Rumble. Triple H failed to beat Ric Flair; therefore he was no longer allowed to compete in the Royal Rumble match, per the order of Raw General Manager William Regal. After Triple H destroyed part of the lower TitanTron on the January 14 Raw, however, Vince McMahon announced he would allow Triple H a second chance at the Royal Rumble if he could defeat his opponent on the January 21 edition of Raw. The Game defeated Snitsky, Mark Henry, and William Regal in a gauntlet match to gain entry.
Royal Rumble qualification matches
- Umaga defeated Jim Duggan - Raw, December 29 (aired December 31)
- Snitsky defeated Drew McIntyre - Raw house show, January 4
- Hardcore Holly defeated Trevor Murdoch - Raw house show, January 5
- John Morrison and The Miz defeated Jimmy Wang Yang and Shannon Moore - SmackDown/ECW house show, January 6
- Hornswoggle and Mick Foley defeated The Highlanders (Robbie and Rory McAllister) - Raw, January 7
- Jamie Noble defeated Chuck Palumbo - SmackDown, January 8 (aired January 11)
- Cody Rhodes defeated William Regal - Raw house show, January 11
- Carlito and Santino Marella defeated DH Smith and Super Crazy in a tag team match at a Raw house show, January 12
- Shawn Michaels defeated Trevor Murdoch - Raw, January 14
- Triple H defeated Snitsky, Mark Henry, and William Regal in a Over the Top Rope Gauntlet match - Raw, January 21
- CM Punk defeated Chavo Guerrero - WWE supershow, January 26
Before the event went live on pay-per-view, Shannon Moore and Jimmy Wang Yang defeated Deuce 'n Domino in a dark match. The first match that aired was a non-title "Career Threatening" match between the WWE United States Champion Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) and Ric Flair, in which had Flair lost, he would have had to retire from wrestling. At the start of the match, Flair started out working on MVP's left arm. Flair attempted to get the Figure-Four Leg lock on MVP, but MVP turned it into a small package for a two count. MVP knocked out Flair with a Running Big Boot in the corner and went for a pin, but Flair managed to get his foot on the rope just in time when the referee Charles Robinson counted to three. After the three count, the referee did not call for the bell as he had noticed Flair's leg on the bottom-rope and restarted the match. The match ended when MVP tried going for the Playmaker, but Flair countered the attempt into the Figure-Four Leg Lock, to which MVP eventually tapped out. Hence, Flair won and kept his career alive.
The second match was between John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL) and Chris Jericho. The match began with Jericho trapping Layfield in the Walls of Jericho. JBL got to the ropes, however, and slid out of the ring with Jericho quickly following him. JBL strangled Jericho with the ring ropes and later, plunged him onto the ropes. Jericho recovered and clotheslined JBL out of the ring. When they got in again, JBL threw Jericho into the ring post, as a result of which, Jericho was busted open. JBL tried to take advantage of this situation, but Jericho still fought back. The fight went outside the ring, where JBL began clearing the ECW announce table. Jericho grabbed a steel chair and hit Layfield with it. The referee immediately disqualified Jericho, who ignored the fact that he had lost the match and started to strangle JBL with some wires by the ring, in the same process Layfield did to Jericho on Raw.
The third match was for the World Heavyweight Championship with champion, Edge taking on Rey Mysterio. During the match, Vickie Guerrero stood up from her wheelchair, attempting to comfort Edge. Mysterio had Edge set up for the 619, and Vickie jumped in the way, risking herself. Edge then recovered, and speared Mysterio for the pinfall.
The fourth match was between the Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton for the latter's WWE Championship. Early in the match, Hardy performed a Baseball Slide on Orton who hit head-first into the barricade outside due to the impact. Knowing he couldn't win the WWE Championship via a countout victory, Hardy brought the knocked-out Orton into the ring. Later, Orton took advantage in the match, as he applied a Body Scissors on Hardy, followed by a choke-hold. Some of the other main highlights of the match were Hardy performing a Whisper in the Wind on Orton that hit him on the head; and, later hitting a Moonsault from the top-rope to Orton outside the ring. When Hardy brought Orton back in the ring and tried to deliver a Twist of Fate, Orton suddenly reversed it into an RKO and pinned Hardy to retain his WWE title.
The main event was the Royal Rumble match. The first two superstars who began the match were Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker (who were the final two superstars in the previous year's Royal Rumble) where they remained in the match for a little over 30 minutes. During the match Michaels eliminated Shelton Benjamin for the third consecutive royal rumble match. The ninth entrant, Hornswoggle was the smallest wrestler to ever compete in the rumble match, and eliminate another superstar. He remained hidden under the ring throughout the match. He would however assist in eliminating The Miz; as he did this, Mark Henry and Big Daddy V grabbed Hornswoggle. As they prepared to throw him over the top rope, Finlay illegally entered the match, as he was not due to enter the match yet, and hit Henry and Big Daddy V with a shillelagh. He then left alongside Hornswoggle and it was later announced that Finlay was disqualified for using the shillelagh, and Hornswoggle was eliminated (leaving the match with Finlay). The twenty sixth entry, Chavo Guerrero, was the first world champion wrestler to compete in the Royal Rumble match since 1990, when Hulk Hogan won the match. Triple H, the twenty ninth entrant, dominated as he entered the match, eliminating Big Daddy V, Batista, Mick Foley, and Kane. This was Kane's tenth consecutive Royal Rumble match, which is a record. The turn of the Royal Rumble match came when John Cena, who was originally scheduled to be sidelined with a torn pectoral muscle until later in the year, entered the match as the thirtieth entrant making his "triumphant return". He set a record for the shortest time that the eventual winner spent in the rumble match. He spent 8:28 in the ring, passing Brock Lesnar's record of 8:59. He ended up squaring off with Triple H, as the final two men left in the match. Triple H would attempt to Pedigree Cena, but Cena would counter it into an FU that saw him throw Triple H over the top rope, thus winning the Royal Rumble match and a World Championship match at WrestleMania XXIV.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dark Match: Jimmy Wang Yang & Shannon Moore defeated Deuce & Domino (6:10)
- Ric Flair defeated Montel Vontavious Porter (7:59)
- John "Bradshaw" Layfield defeated Chris Jericho by disqualification (9:30)
- Edge (c) (w/ Vickie Guerrero, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder) defeated Rey Mysterio to retain the World Heavyweight Championship (12:45)
- Randy Orton (c) defeated Jeff Hardy to retain the WWE Championship (14:10)
- John Cena won the Royal Rumble by last eliminating Triple H (51:50)
Royal Rumble entrances and eliminations
|4||The Great Khali||2||Undertaker||1:08|
|9||Hornswoggle||-||Never re-entered match||26:57|
|13||Cody Rhodes||17||Triple H||23:15|
|20||Kane||26||Batista & Triple H||17:58|
|22||Mick Foley||19||Triple H||11:29|
|24||Big Daddy V||18||Triple H||7:49|
|28||Elijah Burke||20||Triple H||2:10|
- Hornswoggle spent most of the match under the ring. After he entered the ring, Big Daddy V and Henry started to double team him. Finlay, who was the next scheduled entrant, came out early, attacked them both with his shillelagh and was immediately disqualified. He left the ring with Hornswoggle, who left through the ropes and never returned.
Other on-screen talent
- Royal Rumble 2008 Official Site
- Royal Rumble 2008 at CAGEMATCH.net
- Royal Rumble 2008 at Online World of Wrestling
|2008 World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-views|
|Royal Rumble • No Way Out • WrestleMania • Backlash • Judgment Day • One Night Stand • Night of Champions • The Great American Bash • SummerSlam • Unforgiven • No Mercy • Cyber Sunday • Survivor Series • Armageddon|
|2007 World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-views|
|New Years Revolution • Royal Rumble • No Way Out • WrestleMania • Backlash • Judgment Day • One Night Stand • Vengeance: Night of Champions • The Great American Bash • SummerSlam • Unforgiven • No Mercy • Cyber Sunday • Survivor Series • Armageddon|
|1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001|
|2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015|
|2016 • 2017|