Considering that there was no Diva involvement advertised for the Royal Rumble last night, it turned out to be quite the affair with not one, but two great moments for the Divas roster. Firstly, Beth Phoenix and Kelly Kelly lead dueling teams to the ring for an impromptu Divas match that, compared to recent matches on Raw and SmackDown, was the Divas version of a wrestling clinic. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s the watercooler moment that everyone is talking about today — Kharma made a shocking return to the WWE as only the third woman to compete in the Royal Rumble match.
Let’s review the Rumble!
Much like last month’s TLC pay per view we are caught off guard as Beth Phoenix’s music hits and we realize that it’s time for another impromptu Divas match. This month, however, Beth has brought some friends in the form of Natalya and Brie & Nikki Bella. All of the Divas are clad in matching teal gear. While I appreciate the color coordination, I’m not a fan of the color itself and the shiny, metallic look. Points for effort, though.
Next out it’s the familiar team of Alicia Fox, Eve Torres and Kelly Kelly — but wait, they’ve found another friend! Natalya’s recent rival, the Samoan Princess, Tamina, has landed a pay per view match! Welcome to the big leagues, Tamina! Though not exactly matching like the heel team, A-Fox, Eve & K2 are decked out in fiery orange-ish outfits… while Tamina sticks to her black with leopard print trim. It’s okay, Tamina, girl. We’re just happy you’re not wearing that other outfit anymore!
As the Divas begin filing into the ring and taking to their respective corners, it’ll be the familiar duo of Tamina and Natalya kicking things off. I begin to suspect that this match will end as quickly as their matches on SmackDown and none of the other Divas will be tagged in, but I’m pleasantly surprised to learn that is not the case. The pair lock up as Natalya gets the better of the exchange with a side-headlock takedown. Tamina and Natalya rise to their feet as Tamina whips Natalya against the ropes and then attempts to barge her down but the third-generation Hart is not budging! It’ll take more than that, Tamina. Natalya grabs Tamina by the hair but the Samoan Diva uses her strength to lift Nattie on to her shoulders and seems to be going for a Samoan drop, however, Natalya quickly wriggles her way out of the move and plants Tam-Tam with a hefty slap. This only fires up Tamina more, it seems, as she slaps Natalya right back and hits her with a hard chop and a jumping headbutt. Pin attempt but no three for Tamina.
Tamina tags in Eve now, who despite her boyfriend being crushed by Kane for several weeks in a row, looks a little too happy. Eve, with not a care in the world, sets up her booty pop and hits a nice standing moonsault on Natalya. Pin attempt but once again Natalya kicks out. Natalya quickly finds a second wind, jumping to her feet, picking up Eve and charging into the heels’ corner. There, Natalya tags in Divas Champ Beth who is hungry for some competition. Beth quickly puts some licks on Eve but the former Divas Champ soon fights back with a nice kick to the face followed by a sitout clothesline. Eve then follows up with a senton splash but Beth puts up her knees and drives them into Eve’s back. Beth now takes advantage with a hard kick to the stomach followed by elbows and a pin attempt.
Beth then isolates Eve in the heels’ corner and tags in Brie Bella. Brie chokes Eve over the middle rope before kicking her in the head. Chinlock by Briezy as Eve tries to muster the strength to fight out of it. Eve eventually gets to her feet and manages to get out of the hold and tags in Miss Foxy who comes into the ring with a nice clothesline and not one but two dropkicks. Foxy begins stomping Brie in the corner. However, the referee becomes distracted by unruliness amongst the two teams on the apron and as his attention is diverted, Nikki pushes Brie out of the way and swaps places with her allowing the fresh Bella to dupe Alicia. Nikki plants Fox in the corner and drives her knees into Alicia’s back. She then snaps her arm against the mat before applying a nice submission hold. Foxy begins getting to her feet and hits a very cool splits into an arm drag on Nikki before giving the hot tag to the holler hollerin’ Kelly Kelly.
Kelly gets a big pop as she hits the ring with a face smash on Nikki followed by a twirly-bird headscissors. Kelly with a handspring butt bump in the corner and bulldog. Pin attempt but Brie breaks it up. This leads to the veritable mish-mash as all of the Divas duke it out in and out of the ring. As all of the Divas battle outside, golden girl Kelly sees an opportunity, climbing to the top turnbuckle and hitting a nice dive to take out all of the Divas. Good response from the crowd, too.
Kelly throws one of the Bella Twins back into the ring and looks to be about ready to pick up the victory, however, Miss B trips her up and Kelly lands throat first on the middle rope. Divas Champion Beth sneaks up on Bella and blind tags herself in with a hard slap to the arm. As Beth gets in the ring, we’re going to assume Miss B is now coughing up a lung.
Beth has had enough of all of the fun, games and shenanigans it seems. She picks up Kelly Kelly in that all too familiar position and hits the Glam Slam for a rousing victory.
Thoughts: Really enjoyable tag team match that saw all of the Divas get some time in the ring. As I mentioned, when I saw Natalya and Tamina starting things out, I really thought this was going to be another one of those tag matches that end in one minute with all of the other Divas still on the apron. I was so sure that Tamina was quickly going to hit the Superfly Splash and it’ll all be over in a minute, but thankfully that didn’t happen. Instead we got a fun match that saw all of the Divas involved get to have a little piece of the action and it was technically sound too. No big slip-ups that people seem to always be hoping for.
Watching it back, it definitely seemed like the Divas began to win over the crowd as they were quiet for most of the match but then started getting into it around the time Kelly was tagged in. From there, the big dive to the outside and Beth’s victory got good reactions and people seemed to be into it. It’s good to see them being able to get fans involved. Of course they’d be far more involved in these matches if WWE fleshed out the characters and made people care about these girls in the same way as past Divas, but hey, we’ve said that a million times. For what it was, it was fine.
I really enjoyed Eve’s exchange with Beth in this match. I recall seeing some of her FCW matches a few years ago and then seeing her fluidity in this match — from rolling over Beth’s back, the little kick thing she does etc. She’s come very far. I liken it to how I felt about Michelle McCool but on a lesser scale. With Michelle, her transformation in the ring was incredible to me and I enjoyed watching her wrestle perhaps more than any other Diva because of that reason. Watching Eve now, where she’s gotten very comfortable in the ring and has all of these unique moves that look great, it’s similar.
I also liked Alicia’s splits/arm drag combo, Kelly’s dive and the finish. I hope that poor Bella didn’t wake up with a hand print on her today!
Match Rating: 4/5
Also at the Royal Rumble, we got to see the surprise return of Kharma, who entered the Royal Rumble match at #21 and quickly made an impression.
As doofus Michael Cole (seriously, what a waste of an entry!) stands in the ring awaiting the next Rumble entrant, Kharma’s long dormant music hits after over 8 months of not hearing it and receives a huge pop from the crowd. Michael Cole looks understandably scared as Kharma hits the ring and clotheslines him. Cole jumps over the top rope to avoid any more of Kharma’s assault but as he’s standing on the other side of the apron, Jerry Lawler and Booker T give their announcing partner some payback by pulling him off the apron thus eliminating him from the Rumble.
As Kharma turns around, the gorgeous Dolph Ziggler awaits telling her to get out of the ring. Clearly, our Prince Charming doesn’t want to battle her and is giving her the opportunity to leave on her own. How chivalric! Of course, the Diva Killer is not going to back down from a fight be it man, woman or beast! Kharma delivers her first Implant Buster in many, many months and the distinct honor goes to Dolph!
Next, Kharma eliminates Hunico (who?) before unfortunately being eliminated herself by Dolph. Still, it was fun while it lasted!
Thoughts: I was not expecting Kharma to show up at all, but what an epic surprise. I figured Kharma would be in the Rumble match one of these years but given the close proximity between her pregnancy (assuming she gave birth recently) and the Rumble match, I didn’t think she’d be ready in time for this year’s Rumble. However, anything can happen in wrestling, as they say!
As for what this could mean for the future, that remains to be seen. I don’t want to speculate too much but I’m assuming Kharma had her baby recently and isn’t necessarily ready to be back full time. I’m guessing this could have just been a one off appearance to have her in the Rumble match and she’ll be back full time in a few months after maternity leave. Of course, I could be wrong and she could be back on Raw tonight, but we’ll see. I’m of the mind it was just a one off for now. Either way, it was an epic moment and it shows that despite being away for so long, the fans have not forgotten Kharma and she is just as much of a star attraction as ever.