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10 Things We Learned From WWE Royal Rumble 2006

The one where Rey Mysterio did it for Eddie Guerrero...

Well, you can't say that January 2006 wasn't an eventful month for WWE. From Edge becoming the first man to ever cash in a Money in the Bank briefcase, using it to win the WWE Championship from a battered John Cena, to Batista having to vacate the World Heavyweight title due to a torn triceps, there was no shortage of major news. And that was before the Big Four event at month's end, which would have major implications for WrestleMania 22.

The 2006 Royal Rumble was arguably the weakest overall Rumble in quite a few years, owed to a mostly-uninspired Rumble match, and two World title matches that were below par. Edge's rematch with Cena would prove to be decent, if underwhelming, while new World Champion Kurt Angle's closer with Mark Henry would have been a terrible end to the show, if not for the dramatic post-match angle.

Where most of the joy lay was in the Rumble match's finish, with ultimate underdog Rey Mysterio ousting nemesis Randy Orton in order to secure the title match at WrestleMania. Mysterio had dedicated his performance in the Rumble to the late Eddie Guerrero, and WWE fans heavily backed Mysterio's efforts to make good in his fallen comrade's name.

10. 205 Barely Live


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If you think today's WWE Cruiserweight division is treated as second class, take a gander at how things were in 2006, when the division was an afterthought on the SmackDown brand. The champion come the Rumble was hard-nosed veteran Kid Kash, whose WWE tenure is sadly lost to history. Kash would defend the belt in the Rumble opener against a medley of Cruiserweights, including Raw's Gregory Helms, who jumped to SmackDown upon winning the six-way skirmish.

With all due respect to Helms, it wasn't a good sign for company interest in the division when he would proceed to reign with the belt for more than one year, beginning with this show. Helms would defend the belt in low-profile PPV bouts against the likes of Super Crazy, Jimmy Wang Yang, and the occasional multi-man scramble, before Chavo Guerrero won the belt in a multi-man gauntlet at No Way Out 2007.

9. Still Going


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One of the more lackluster moments from the 2006 Rumble was the evening's second match, pitting Mickie James against Diva Search winner Ashley Massaro, with Trish Stratus as the guest referee, torn between two allies. Massaro was by no means a wrestler, and looked completely out of place in the match, with even a veteran like James unable to hold it together. That wouldn't be the only problem the match had.

According to James, the match went four minutes longer than it was supposed to. Stratus was not wearing a radio earpiece and wasn't able to signal for the women to go to the finish, so Mickie and Ashley kinda just flubbed around longer than intended. Mickie ended up having to apologize to those who had to wrestle after her, due to the timing issues caused by the match.

8. An Unlikely Shuffle


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Usually, we're used to seeing the Royal Rumble match close out the card, though there was a period in the nineties where the Rumble would be followed by the WWE Championship match. Generally, the titular match is the main focus, the reason for the event's popularity, so it would tend to go on last. The 2006 show would be a rare exception.

For the first time in Rumble history, the Rumble match would be followed by *two* matches instead of just one. Cena and Edge's WWE title match followed the Rumble, with Angle and Henry (for a very specific reason) finishing off the card. This would be topped in 2018, when the men's Rumble would be followed by three matches, with the 30-woman match being the final bout.

7. Everlasting Hell


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Kane didn't exactly have the most exciting of Royal Rumble appearances in 2006. His productive run through the 2001 match was the opposite of his fairly brief stay here, in which he helped Big Show eliminate young Bobby Lashley, before he and Show were dumped out simultaneously by Triple H, after three-and-a-half minutes in the ring.

But Kane's appearance did establish a new record. By appearing in the 2006 Rumble match, Kane competed in eight consecutive Rumble matches, beginning with the 1999 match. "The Big Red Monster" surpassed the mark of seven straight shared by Rick Martel (1989-95) and Owen Hart (1993-99). Kane would extend his personal record to 13 straight Rumbles by appearing in the 2011 match, before skipping the following year's gauntlet to face John Cena in the undercard.

6. Battered Book


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As far as the shortest time in the Rumble is concerned, two men shared that mark in 2006 - Sylvain Grenier and Booker T, each getting ejected from the fray in 18 seconds. Grenier's was simply for story reasons, as Bobby Lashley got to look strong in violently tossing him clear over the ropes. Booker's, meanwhile, was in deference to an injury.

Booker had been hampered by a groin injury since the final week of December 2005, which necessitated various wrestlers filling in for him in the US title best of seven with Chris Benoit. Booker tried to work in tag matches on a tour of Mexico in January, but was said to have tweaked the injury further. Booker even wore Harlem Heat-esque long tights for his brief Rumble appearance, possibly covering up one hell of a tape job, before his quick elimination at Benoit's hands.

5. The Whole F'N Return


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Rob Van Dam would make it to the final four of the Rumble match, scoring four eliminations in about 24 minutes of work. The popular Van Dam was fixing to be the face of the ECW brand that would debut late in the spring after the One Night Stand sequel, and a strong performance here would reaffirm his upper-card status.

The match was actually Van Dam's first in more than one year. In early-January 2005, Van Dam tore his ACL and his meniscus at a SmackDown taping, and would be sidelined for more than a year. During his recovery, Van Dam made an impactful appearance at the first One Night Stand, and would be drafted over to Raw later that month.

4. Surprise, Surprise


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Quite frankly, it was hard to imagine WWE *not* having Mysterio win the Rumble. When Batista was sidelined with the triceps tear, and WrestleMania plans were thrown into disarray, SmackDown needed a hero to fill the void. With Mysterio wearing his tribute armband with Eddie Guerrero's initials, the story seemed to write itself that he would win a World title in Eddie's honour.

Mysterio would claim in a 2015 shoot interview, however, that he didn't know until the day of the Rumble that he was winning the match. The original 'Mania plan was for Batista to defend against Randy Orton, but with Big Dave injured, and many of WWE's top agents and officials lobbied for Mysterio, knowing that it would be a special moment. The only one really resisting the idea was Vince himself, but ultimately, he went with the consensus.

3. Marvellous Masked Marvel


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By the time Mysterio made it to the final stage from the number two draw, you had a feeling that WWE, even at their most heartless, wasn't going to stop him from going the distance. The tension was thick when he was left alone with Triple H and Randy Orton, and the jubilation great when he managed to outlast both men in order to secure the victory.

As has been oft-noted in those Royal Rumble by-the-numbers pieces that run every year, Mysterio still holds the record for longest time spent in a standard Royal Rumble match, lasting one hour, two minutes, and 12 seconds. Mysterio's performance beat out Chris Benoit's 2004 mark by 37 seconds in order to establish a new record. Mysterio's mark has remained in tact ever since, because Greatest Royal Rumble doesn't count, quite frankly.

2. Change Of Plans


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On the same day that Edge cashed in his briefcase to become WWE Champion, the destiny of the World Heavyweight title was being altered at a SmackDown matinee show in Verona, NY. It was there that Batista was defending the belt against Mark Henry in what would be a disqualification victory for the champ. It would also be the match where Batista sustained the triceps injury that put him out of six months.

The injury scrapped the Batista/Henry match that had been planned for the Rumble, with Kurt Angle hastily switched over to SmackDown in order to basically play Batista's avatar for the foreseeable future. There's no telling whether or not Batista vs. Henry would've been any better or worse than Angle vs. Henry, but the latter wasn't exactly an inspired effort.

1. The Fringes Of Death


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Angle vs. Henry had to go on last as a way of shoehorning in a spectacular visual - The Undertaker would appear on a chariot during Angle's celebration, and caused the ring to collapse beneath Angle's feat in an apparent act of telekinesis. This set up the pair's match at No Way Out three weeks later, which would be an instant classic.

But look closely when Undertaker makes his entrance, and take a good look at one of his accompanying Druids. Among the crew was a 20-year-old novice wrestler that had just worked in a squash match on Velocity weeks earlier. That wrestler was none other than Dean Ambrose, less than two years into his wrestling career, and a few years away from parlaying indy darling-dom into worldwide fame.

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Justin Henry

Written by Justin Henry

In addition to writing lists and commentaries for Cultaholic, Justin is also a features writer and interviewer for Fighting Spirit Magazine, and is co-author of the WWE-related book Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs.