With Takeover being surprisingly middle of the road, Royal Rumble has a fighting chance this year! Does it cash in on it’s opportunity?
Well now, this review is slightly delayed because for Big Four PPVs I get together with a few buddies and we make an event out of it. So between, hanging out, going til midnight, driving back and other things to get done…I had to sleep.
Big thank you to @Griever2112 for another fun get together! I didn’t win the Rumble picks this year, but he won our Botchamania award for worst picks. So that’s something right?
So now it’s time to see how the Rumble broke down.
- Scott Dawson & Rezar vs Bobby Roode & Chad Gable: Gable wins via Outtatime @6:55 – **
- United States Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura vs Rusev (c): Nakamura wins via Kinshasa @10:15 – ** 3/4 – TITLE CHANGE!!
- Cruiserweight Championship 4-Way: Hideo Itami vs Buddy Murphy vs Kalisto vs Akira Tozawa: Murphy retains via Murphy’s Law @12:05 – *** 1/4
- SmackDown Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs Becky Lynch: Asuka retains via Bridging Inverted Guillotine @17:10 – ****
- SmackDown Tag Team Championships: The Bar (c) vs Shane McMahon & The Miz: Shane wins via Shooting Star Press @13:20 – *** 1/4 – TITLE CHANGE!!
- Raw Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks vs Ronda Rousey (c): Rousey retains via Piper’s Pit @13;45 – *** 1/2
- Women’s Royal Rumble: Becky Lynch wins @1:11:25 – ****
- WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs Daniel Bryan (c): Bryan retains by pinfall after Eric Rowan Clawhold Slam @24:35 – ***
- WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs Finn Balor: Brock retains via Kimura Lock @8:35 – *** 3/4
- Men’s Royal Rumble: Seth Rollins wins @58:00 – ***
- So on the Pre-show we get Drake Maverick coming out of Vince’s office talking about an awful idea. This whole hodgepodge team of Scott Dawson and Rezar is just stupid. The match was forgettable but not offensive, the set up was stupid, we really didn’t need this.
- The worst part of the Rusev/Nakamura match is that the ref was literally right in line of sight for Shinsuke removing a turnbuckle pad, and decided to just look at Lana (can’t blame him) and not what she was pointing out. So the finishing sequence was a bit dumb, the Kinshasa to the back of the head looked lethal though. So all in all it was a decent match, but the storyline wrinkle was a little dumb, but more forgivable since it paid off later in the night.
- Cruiserweight’s got to main event the Kickoff Show, so that’s something. Too bad this match was just a basic 4 Way match with smaller guys and nothing of real note. Finishing sequence was a signature/finisher attempt spam and it looked like Hideo had a chance to steal it, but Murphy slips out of the Go to Sleep, and hits Murphy’s Law. I also really hate Lucha House Party, so seeing any bit of that automatically makes me wish for a Jinder Mahal vs Baron Corbin staring contest.
- Well now, this was a great match to kick off the main event. Asuka and Becky tore it up, plus the position allows for the loser to enter the rumble that will be a couple hours later. This match had great striking and technical moments. Asuka going for Fujiwara variations and Becky trying the Asuka Lock were nice elements to prove they just didn’t like each other. Plus I loved the innovative aspect to Asuka’s submission. It reminded me of Pierrothito’s submission Pierrothina, but the fact she bridged out of the necklock looks fantastic. Becky’s face looked to turn bright red, so it wasn’t a weak tap out, it was a fantastic match that never really got topped all night.
- Okay, the fact that Miz’s dad was in the crowd added to the story being told. The match was brutal. Miz held his own nicely, and it’s cool to see this different aspect. He’s not as much of a weasel since he’s trying to prove things to his father and his new best friend. Shane tried to stack up Sheamus and Cesaro in the corner for a Double Coast to Coast, but Cesaro caught him for a Big Swing that lasted a bit. Shane kicked out of the Tandem White Noise move The Bar does, which surprised me a little, and Miz sliding in to hit a Skull Crushing Finale to open up a chance for Shane to go to the top and pull off a gorgeous Shooting Star Press for the win was good stuff. Can’t be mad at this match. It wasn’t an all time classic, but it was good and fun at times.
- Unlike a match later in the night, most people knew how this was ending, and I don’t think Sasha ever won the crowd’s disbelief. Shayna Baszler needs to take pointers from Sasha since when she weakened a limb, she went after it. Sasha kept trying to tap out Ronda, and Ronda wasn’t having it. Hell Ronda got Sasha to tap on the outside, but that doesn’t count. The match was competitive, Ronda looked to be struggling since Sasha really worked over one arm, but the surprise was that Ronda won by pinfall after a Piper’s Pit, not submission. They had words, Sasha throws up the four fingers sowing more seeds of a Four Horsewomen face off, but nothing really happened regardless of really long awkward camera shots before the ad.
- So truncated version, Lacey Evans started things off, and the butterflies were evident. She had a few sloppy exchanges and couldn’t even do a Kip Up, to which Nattie teased her. Liv Morgan was in and out in a couple seconds, Ember had some cool moments, Kacy Catanzaro is gonna do athletic saves too, Billie Kay was stalling until her hetero-life mate Peyton showed up (get the damn reference people), Mandy Rose and Naomi’s story got a little more heat, Zelina Vega came out dressed as Vega from Street Fighter and had a funny under the ring thing which brought Hornswoggle out and confused Rhea Ripley, Lana limped along and couldn’t make because of an ankle injury caused by bumping off the apron in the US match…so Becky walked out and lobbied with Finlay for the #28 slot. Nia tries to screw Becky after Becky eliminates Nia, but gimpy and all The Man gets back in the ring and outlasts Charlotte for the win. Becky versus Ronda is all but confirmed now.
- Daniel Bryan and AJ were put in the death spot, coming off a very fun Rumble that had the crowd going, they started off slow, but the crowd never really got into things. Great wrestling happened in this match with working over limbs and setting up for finishers, on top of only pulling out bigger moves when necessary, but an unexpected re-appearance put the writing on the wall. Flannel clad Eric Rowan stalked the ring, ref gets bumped and AJ takes a Clawhold Slam as Bryan picks up the cheap pinfall. So Captain Planet has his first grunge rock Planteer, I guess this is a thing.
- Finn hit the John Woo Dropkick immediately, and really took it to Brock. Brock was on the back foot the entire match. Repeated Enzuigiris, Dropkicks, Tope con Hilos and even an assist from the corner of the commentary table. The crowd actually popped really hard during Finn’s multiple Topes, and the match, though not long, was a believable story. Finn even managed to land a Coup de Grace, where Brock kicked out and slapped on the Kimura Lock. He hasn’t pulled out the Kimura in what feels like years, so to me, that implied he was out of other options and needed this to work. Finn did tap, but the match was solid action the entire time and the story was perfect. One of Brock’s better matches in the last few years.
- Okay so the Men’s Rumble started off huge and just kinda went down/plateaued from there. Elias was number 1, he does his usual thing, before he starts his song, number 2 comes out, Jeff Jarrett. Jackie Fargo strut and all, I WANTED A DUET! Dammit Elias, I love you, but that could’ve been great. Granted, there’s some Irony with Jarrett getting hit with a guitar and eliminated…but COME ON! Andrade looked good and lasted til the final 6 I believe. Kofi had two saves, one on his own, which wasn’t great and then a tandem one when Xavier was coming to the ring. The best part of this is how McIntyre just clotheslined them both out immediately. So Xavier and No Way Jose might’ve tied Santino’s record. I guess we’ll find out next year when they do their stats rundown. The Men’s rumble was really mostly uneventful even though not bad, until the end. R-Truth got jumped by Nia Jax and she just inserted herself. The men were reluctant to hit her, until Dolph Ziggler Superkicks her, Rey Rey hits the 619 and Randy Orton RKOs her. Randy and Rey have a moment where it seemed like Randy was more surprised Rey hit her, but Rey looked at Randy like ‘Okay, but you have to help me hide the body’. So when Nia finally got eliminated the heel/face dynamic returned, but Randy and Rey having an understanding was cool and off putting all at the same time. So yes, Rollins wins because he was put through a table by Lashley, so he took a 20 minute nap and when Drew got eliminated earlier than expected, there was no way Braun wins that. So yeah…Rollins wins…ugh.
Overall Score: 7.75/10
Even though I’d prefer a root canal to anything involving Seth Rollins, a finish doesn’t change how good the show was. The only match that had to go away was the thrown together tag that started off the Pre-Show. That’s forgivable since people were still getting into the stadium and you don’t want to waste even a slightly important match on a mostly empty building. The women outperformed the men on nearly every level this event, but still, nothing was bad.
Little things about the show kept me interested during the monstrous 7 hours of insanity and the live crowd only really seemed to not care during AJ/Bryan, but also, they were the best ones to put there. If the crowd was dead, it wouldn’t rattle those two, and if anyone could reignite a crowd, it was those two. So, that was perfect placement.
Plus with assumptions of Rollins going after Brock and Becky going after Ronnie, you’d think SmackDown has to win the Elimination Chamber matches this year. Sure, they can extend Bryan/AJ, but that’s getting old. Asuka however, has no real challenger. But, it’s done, the week is in the books and Royal Rumble all things considered, was a better show than Takeover. It’s always nice to see when the main roster is allowed to step it up, even when they’re given a lower bar to exceed.
Good job WWE, now let’s hope Raw and SmackDown continue this and don’t fall back on old habits and make me cry tears of blood.