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Chris King’s Top 5 WWE Royal Rumble Moments (2017-2019)

The WWE Royal Rumble is an event that always creates memories for legions of fans. Chris King takes a look back at his Top 5 Royal Rumble moments!

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The WWE Royal Rumble is an event that always creates memories for legions of fans. Chris King takes a look back at his Top 5 Royal Rumble moments from the past three years!

With the 2020 Royal Rumble pay-per-view just days away, I’ve gone back and re-watched the past three events to get fired up for this weekend. We’ve bared witness to some incredible moments such as Finn Balor getting his long-overdue rematch for the Universal Championship against Brock Lesnar, Asuka successfully defending her SmackDown Women’s Championship against “The Man” Becky Lynch, and Goldberg shocking the WWE Universe by eliminating Brock Lesnar!

Here are my top five moments from the past three Royal Rumble pay-per-views.

5. Goldberg/The Undertaker Staredown – 2017 Royal Rumble

If you’ve been a pro wrestling fan for nearly two decades as myself, then one thing you’d never expect is two of the pillars of professional wrestling having a face-to-face confrontation at one of the big four events inside a WWE ring.

On one side you have “The Phenom” a living legend and a cornerstone of WWE who has “dug twenty-nine holes for twenty-nine souls” for so many years and was prepared to do it again! On the other, you have”The Icon” Goldberg a true pioneer of WCW who was looking to find his way back to the WWE title scene and headline WrestleMania. What the WWE Universe got to witness was a chilling moment that made time stand still!

4. The Coronation Of The King Of The Cruiserweights

Two former friends did battle over the WWE Cruiserweight Title. The story began a month prior to Roadblock: End of the Line when Neville made his long-awaited return. After his buddy Rich Swann had just successfully defended his title against both TJ Perkins and Brian Kendrick, “The Man That Gravity Forgot” came down to the ring and decked the champion.

The two former friends turned bitter rivals who engage in a heated feud at the 2017 Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Both superstars delivered a fantastic five-star classic. This new edgy and ruthless version of Neville, in my opinion, is why his run in AEW currently is so effective. Swann withstood a ton of vicious attacks from his former friend but in the end, The King of the Cruiserweights laid waste and walked away with the Cruiserweight Championship!

3. The Empress of Tomorrow Arrived

This is actually a twofer from 2018 and 2019 where Asuka truly showed the WWE Universe that she was indeed a serious threat. First, Asuka won the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble match and cemented what every other NXT fan already knew that “Nobody was ready for Asuka!” It was truly an amazing moment. Unfortunately, she would go on and be defeated by Charlotte Flair to lose her huge undefeated streak.

Second, at this past year’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view, Asuka would successfully defend her SmackDown Women’s Championship against The Man Becky Lynch. The Empress had just won the title at TLC a month prior thanks to Ronda Rousey’s interference but still she was the champ. Lynch with the entire WWE Universe behind her delivered a great effort but, her story was heading a different direction and lost.

We’ll get to that in a minute. That night in Phoenix, Arizona it was Asuka’s time to shine and cement her name as the top female superstar for the SmackDown Live brand!

Honorable Mention: Seth Rollins Invades NXT 

While this technically wasn’t a moment that happened on the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, it did occur during that weekend. At NXT TakeOver: San Antonio, Seth Rollins shocked the world when he called out the brainchild of NXT and the man that screwed him out of the Universal Championship Triple H.

Rollins was desperate to get his comeuppance against his former mentor so what does he do? He goes back to where their paths crossed for the first time in WWE. “The Kingslayer” technically got his face-to-face but he also was greeted by security guards to prevent The COO from getting his hands dirty. In my opinion, it was arguably one of the most highly-anticipated rivalries on the road to WrestleMania in quite some time!

2. John Cena/AJ Styles Steal The Show

One of the best matches of all time, in my opinion, was John Cena vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship. The two rivals had already competed in blockbuster matches and this was the rubber match. On one hand, you have John Cena a true workhorse of WWE for the past decade looking to tie Ric Flair’s World Championship record and make history.

On the other, you have the self-proclaimed “Face That Runs The Place” AJ Styles the current WWE Champion who quite frankly could run circles around a plethora of superstars. Unfortunately for Styles, Cena was not of those superstars.

For whatever reason, both competitors who wrestle completely different styles brought out the absolute best in each other which made all of their matches truly phenomenal (pun intended). We were just blessed with a terrific match where Cena did the impossible by becoming a sixteen-time WWE Champion!

1. The Man’s First Step To WrestleMania

As if there was a bigger moment, perhaps there is but in my opinion, Becky Lynch claiming her spot in the 2019 Women’s Royal Rumble match and eliminating her long-time nemesis Charlotte Flair to ensure her road to WrestleMania was such a bad ass moment!

The Man had lost the SmackDown Women’s title earlier in the night, and the WWE Universe was chanting for her all the way back at number 15. They wanted her to enter the match and win the whole thing they did get their wish but it was at the number 28 spot.

That spot was originally for Lana but due to an ankle injury she was unable to compete so, Lynch came out to a raucous reaction and was allowed to take her place. The entire crowd went nuts as The Man and “The Facebreaker” Nia Jax went face-to-face for the first time since she broke her nose ahead of Survivor Series.

The Man utilized this opportunity to get her comeuppance against Nia Jax and to eliminate her long-time rival Flair to punch her ticket to WrestleMania. Of course, the match that the WWE Universe wanted for this past year’s Mania between Lynch and Rousey was changed to the Winners-Take-All match with the Raw and SmackDown Championship on the line.

It was truly a special moment with the Chase Field crowd fully behind The Man and here’s a clip of her hometown reacting to her triumphant win!


Those are my top five moments from the Royal Rumble, I would love to hear some of yours. I am very excited for Sunday and ready to see who will win the men and Women’s Royal Rumble matches and punch their ticket to the Grandest Stage of Them All!!!


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Opinion

Steve Cook’s Fave Five: April 2021

It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means…

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It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means.

It’s time to talk about my current five favorite wrestlers like I’m Booker T. Let’s break down the Fave Five!

5. Samoa Joe

I figure what happened between Samoa Joe & WWE was the following: WWE offered Joe an announcing contract since either they didn’t want to use him in the ring or their doctors wouldn’t clear him to wrestle. Joe looked at the contract, noticed the financial discrepancy, realized he could probably get NJPW to let him train young boys in California for that kind of money and said “thanks but no thanks”. Nothing else really makes sense to me.

Unfortunately, those who thought that WWE wouldn’t utilize Joe to their fullest potential were right. It wasn’t all WWE’s fault though. Joe had a lot of miles on his tires when he got there. Injuries are always more of a concern with larger wrestlers the older they get. And when Joe was healthy, he did get to do some good stuff and show people a glimpse of the Samoa Joe that people like me raved about back in the mid to late 2000s.

In any event, Joe got his WWE run. It was a thing that happened. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t wind up in AEW because he seems like the kind of guy Tony Khan would throw all the money at. Should be fun!

4. Kris Statlander

AEW does have a pretty insane number of factions right now. It risks the possibility of all of the groups blending together, with none of them really capturing the attention of fans. However, there are positive things about AEW’s faction warfare that shouldn’t be overlooked. It makes booking fresh matches to fill cards pretty easy. You can have groups facing off each week, but in different combinations that keep it fresh.

Another good thing: It can help us decide how we feel about characters that we might be on the fence about. Kris Statlander’s character was a topic of discussion from the moment she entered AEW. A lot of people weren’t sure how to take her. Wrestling aliens, or wrestlers who think they’re aliens, aren’t exactly common. Its the kind of thing that gets over in the indies, because those feds attract fans that are more willing to buy into unique concepts. Mainstream is a tougher sell.

Aligning Kris with the Best Friends makes sense to those in the know, since she came up working shows with them. It also helps people that don’t know about her figure out more. The Best Friends are a happy go lucky group that are the whitest of white meat babyfaces you’ll find in AEW, and that’s a good thing. They’re welcoming to people with unique personalities, as Orange Cassidy’s presence establishes. A friendly alien couldn’t ask for a better group to surround herself with, and from their appearances so far she seems like a perfect fit.

Add in the fact that the time on the shelf helped her get into better shape and refine her look & presence, and the sky’s the limit for Statlander. As long as she can stay in the ring, I’m expecting big things from her in 2021.

3. Tay Conti

Sometimes, all one needs is a change of scenery to approach their true potential. Tay spent a few years at the WWE Performance Center learning how to be a professional wrestler. During her time there, Tay never showed much in the way of potential. Even though she had a combat sports background and had the type of physical appearance that gets attention, Conti’s TV time was very limited and uneventful. She seemed like one of those wrestlers that was bound to stay in developmental until WWE gave up on them, then drop off the face of the earth without most wrestling fans noticing.

Tay’s story took a different route. She ended up being one of the cuts that AEW took an interest in, and was brought in for the Deadly Draw Women’s Tag Team Tournament. Her teaming with Anna Jay worked well on & off-camera, and she pretty much fit right in with the group immediately. She started training with Dustin Rhodes, and pretty much immediately started looking better in the ring & figuring out what worked for her. Now, she’s one of the people helping AEW’s women’s division go to a higher level.

This isn’t meant to denigrate WWE’s Performance Center or its methods. There just isn’t a wrestling training center out there that’s going to work for everybody. Tay had to find what worked for her. The people that recently got cut will have to do the same. Hopefully, the people that recently got signed by WWE will thrive in that environment.

2. Bianca Belair

We’ve recently seen three new Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella, all of whom are great in their own way. I’ve talked about Rhea Ripley before, she’s got unlimited potential and so far she’s done very well on the main roster. Raquel Gonzalez is doing very well on NXT and her push to the championship made perfect sense & got over. I do think the best of the title changes was Bianca’s defeat of Sasha Banks in the main event of WrestleMania Saturday. It was a special moment for Bianca, a very fun match to watch, and a great performance from both Bianca & Sasha Banks, who did everything she could to make Bianca in that match.

You see the video of the NXT segment up above, with the three current Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella celebrating together. Apparently there was a picture taken in 2019, and there were pictures taken after this week’s NXT, with Triple H making sure to get in there as he likes to do with all new champions. I’ve never really been a fan of that sort of thing, even the “Horsewomen” celebrations on previous NXT shows didn’t do much for me.

Besides the usual complaints people have about things like that, the thing that I didn’t like was how Rhea & Raquel came off. They were all smiling & happy like they were Big Daddy Cool Diesel after beating Mr. Bob Backlund in 1994. Completely against what Raquel has been up to this point, and what Rhea has been when she’s been at her best. Hopefully this is just a one-time thing for Rhea for the portion of the NXT audience that likes their lady wrestlers crying & happy after their performances, and hopefully it’s leading to Raquel getting dismembered by Dakota Kai, who can’t be happy about her heater winning the championship and then turning into Smilin’ Diesel.

Fortunately for Bianca, it does nothing to affect her character or our opinion of her. That’s why I think her title run will go best. I’m also putting her here because I’m pretty well convinced there isn’t a wrestling move or spot she can’t do well. Insanely talented, and the more experience she gets the better she’ll be.

1. Darby Allin

Sometimes you just want to watch something that’s stupid fun. Something that doesn’t need too much thought in order to enjoy it. Just people doing crazy things to entertain an audience. Darby Allin matches are just what you need when you’re looking for something like this. There isn’t anybody crazier in pro wrestling today than Darby, which is probably for the best. I’m convinced this kid has a death wish.

The one thing that kinda gets me about Darby sometimes is how he kicks out of everything. Poor Matt Hardy wasn’t going to beat that kid unless he shot him with a gun, and apparently there’s a metal detector at Daily’s Place. (Shoutout to Matt by the way, hell of an effort in that match.) But then I remember that Darby Allin is a daredevil and constantly posting videos online where he’s jumping off high places and doing crazy things. Obviously, it’s going to take a little more to beat a daredevil than your average pro wrestler.

What’s it going to take to beat Darby Allin? That’s a good reason to keep watching.


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Opinion

NXT Minus 6: About that Cole-O’Reilly match…

It was the Takeover match that held the most promise. Where did it go wrong? 

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It was the Takeover match that held the most promise. Where did it go wrong? 

Exclusive: Kyle O'Reilly is ready to renew his career-long rivalry with Adam Cole at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver

6. I was jacked to 11 for Adam Cole versus Kyle O’Reilly. I was ready to give it a Tokyo Dome 6 stars. MOTY before the bell rang. A masterwork of storytelling. I correctly predicted it would be an unsanctioned match. Then the action started, and it quickly became “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.”

NXT TakeOver: New Orleans | WWE

5. After the first few acts of violence, it was apparent that the problem with the match would be the stipulation. The last NXT unsanctioned match was Johnny Gargano versus Tommaso Ciampa in 2018. That was 3 short years ago, but things move quickly in today’s world. There is very little chance an unsanctioned match can deliver the level of violence it promises as long as NXT is on the PG-13 Peacock.

The Most Brutal Spots from Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly's Insane Unsanctioned Match at NXT Takeover - EssentiallySports

4. Fans are losing their minds over all the content Peacock is leaving on the cutting floor. A lot of it was offensive and would never work today, but that’s not the point. The fact is there’s only so much violence Peacock’s parent company NBC will tolerate from wrestling. Take the chain, for example. Other than the clothesline, it was practically useless. O’Reilly tried to make it work, but it fell flat. In an unsanctioned match, 20 feet of heavy duty chain should be all you need to decimate another human being.

The B Word: Did Pro Wrestling's Blood Dry Up? | Ring the Damn Bell

3. Maybe I’m a victim of my own wrestling memory. An unsanctioned match in Memphis in the 80’s would have been a bloodbath. Someone would have been hung over the top rope with the chain around his neck. Whipped across the back. Hog tied. Someone would have wrapped it around their fist for a few stiff shots to their opponent’s forehead. But that goes back to my original point. None of that would fly today even if NXT was only on the WWE network.

5 Hilarious moments from this week's WWE programming

2. I’ll go so far as to say the only violent-promising stipulation that interests me is Falls Count Anywhere. There is zero drama in wrestlers pulling chairs from under the ring. The chance to use the naturally occurring environment as a weapon still holds a world of suspense. Someone is going through windows, walls, off the stage, over the guardrail, stuffed in a locker. Honestly, I’m tired of people getting hit in the stomach with folding chairs. Of all the ways to hit someone with a folding chair, that’s the least practical. 

WWE Announces Multiple Injuries At NXT New Year's Evil - WrestlingRumors.net

1. I’m sorry to say Kyle O’Reilly versus Adam Cole didn’t deliver what I expected. Maybe I’m in the minority. Maybe I don’t need over-the-top violence to entertain me. Maybe I don’t need wrestling to keep pushing the envelope. Five of my top 6 matches of 2021 are straight up wrestling matches. Maybe all I need is two (or three or four) strong characters and a good story. Damn, I sound old. 


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