It’s finally begun! The Road to Wrestlemania has always started with the WWE’s pay-per-view event, the Royal Rumble. Usually, the winner of the Royal Rumble becomes the number one contended for the WWE Heavyweight Title for Wrestlemania. But this year, things are different. This year, Roman Reign’s reign (get it?) is in jeopardy as the winner of the 30-man over-the-top-rope event will become the champ!
And, in all honesty, I wasn’t too excited, even with that stipulation. After the SHIELD broke up, I’ve always considered Roman Reigns to be the least interesting of the trio, so I wasn’t too concerned if he lost the belt or not. I’m actually more concerned about the level of excitement for the event. The Royal Rumble has always been my favorite WWE pay-per-view event which is why I’m so irritated that the past two years have been extremely boring! But maybe this year… this year, things will be better?
Let’s go find out!
Match #1: Intercontinental Title Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens in a Last Man Standing Match
Well, we’re off to a great start!
The idea of a Last Man Standing Match is to beat your opponent so severely that they’re unable to stand up during a ten-count by the referee. And, boy, did Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens try their darndest to do just that! As this is a no disqualification match, both Ambrose and Owens took turns at using various foreign objects such as kendo sticks, tables and chairs. No ladders, though, but you wouldn’t miss it because of the carnage! I love it!
The finish came when Owens laid Ambrose on top of a platform made of chair. Owens then climbed the turnbuckles to perform a moonsault on the seemingly unconscious Ambrose. It turns out Ambrose was playing possum as he tossed Owens to the outside on a double stacked table Owens set up earlier in the match. Owens was unable to answer the ten count, making Ambrose the winner of the match and retaining his Intercontinental Title!
Extremely fun match with both Ambrose and Owens brutally attacking each other. The action didn’t let up from the opening bell and it was almost a relief when it ended as I needed a rest from all the excitement. My only quibble is that they never took the match from ringside. I would’ve wanted them to go up the ramp or take the match to the stands. A nitpick to an otherwise phenomenal match.
Rating: 9 of 10 double stacked tables
Match #2: Tag Team Title Match: The Usos vs. The New Day
If I were watching wrestling for the first time, I would think The New Day were the “good guys” and The Usos the “bad guys.” That how much The New Day is being cheered! I mean, look at the reaction when Xavier Woods entered with Francesca II!
Anyhoo, the match between The New Day and The Usos. Although New Day members Big E and Kofi Kingston were the ones competing and they did pull off some really sick moves, such as Big E’s spear onto the outside and Kofi getting, well, selling superkicks left and right! But it was the antics of Xavier Woods that kept the crowd entertained for the most part. I have to hand it to Xavier Woods for listening to the audience and doing the perfect actions to keep them happy… such as refusing to play Francesca II. He is a heel, after all!
The closing moments of the match had Woods draping Kofi’s leg under the bottom rope, stopping a pinfall count. Big E takes advantage of the distraction by tagging him in behind the Uso’s back. After one of the Usos (I still can’t tell them apart) laid out Kofi with a superkick, the Samoan climbed the turnbuckle to finish the match off with one of their signature splashes. However, Big E, the legal man, snatches the Uso out of the air and hits the Big Ending for the pinfall victory.
A pretty exciting match made that much more entertaining thanks to the antics of Xavier Woods. There were a few botched moves but both The Usos and The New Day recovered nicely afterwards. Too bad it came after the excellent Last Man Standing as this match didn’t seem that good in comparison.
Rating: 7 of 10 Francesca IIs
Match #3: United States Title Match: Kalisto vs. Alberto del Rio
Not to sound racist or anything but… isn’t it weird that neither competitor for the United States title match is from the United States?
This is basically a classic underdog story. The typical David vs Goliath story in wresting. In this case, Kalisto is David and Alberto del Rio is Goliath. Still, I’ve been very impressed with Kalisto ever since he first appeared in NXT with Sin Cara as part of the Lucha Dragons. So, I was rooting for him. But it was still nice to see that Alberto del Rio didn’t take it easy on him since, well, I could cheer much more loudly to beat the bully!
This was also another great match as well! It was a seesaw battle with both Kalisto and del Rio getting the upper hand against each other several times throughout the match. However, the ending of the match was unnecessarily complicated. Del Rio removed the protective padding of the corner turnbuckle, exposing the steel. Del Rio then attempted to lauch Kalisto into the exposed turnbuckle but Kalisto reverses the move and threw del Rio into it instead. Kalisto takes advantage and hits Solina del Sol for the victory, making him a two-time United States champion!
Like I said, the finish was unnecessarily complicated. I would’ve wanted a cleaner finish with Kalisto getting a pinfall victory without the entire turnbuckle scenario. There were also a huge botch, wherein Kalisto landed head first. It looked really painful! Still, really good match overall.
Rating: 8 of 10 exposed turnbuckles
Match #4: Divas Title Match: Becky Lynch vs Charlotte
The WWE’s been trying to build up this feud for a while… but I’m just not biting! Look, I’m sorry. I love Becky Lynch and Charlotte. They are truly great wrestlers and they pull off really awesome matches. But their mic work? They really need someone to coach them on how to do a good promo!
Thankfully, both Charlotte and Becky Lynch were wrestling here so, yes, this was a pretty good match as well! There was a good back and forth here as well. There was a really odd moment early on when Flair gave a big, wet kiss to Becky! Um, isn’t that a disqualification, ref? I mean, the man pulled Becky off Charlotte and interfered in the match! At least send Flair to the back!
Anyway, the closing moments had Becky hooking Charlotte in the Disarm-Her but Flair tossed his jacket over Becky’s head. Charlotte took advantage of the distraction, nailing Becky with a thumb to the eye followed by a spear for the pinfall… but that wasn’t technically how this segment ended!
Sasha Banks strolls into the ring and kicks Becky out of the ring. She extends her hand to the retaining champion and both of them do the BFF pose! However, while Charlotte has her back turned, Sasha blindside her with the Bank Statement and silently proclaiming she now in the Divas title hunt!
It was a very good match but I really have to question why Flair wasn’t thrown out after the entire kissing incident? That issue lingered in my mind throughout the entire match. Oh, it was a really good match with both Charlotte and Becky showing their stuff. And the ending with Sasha Banks was fantastic. Overall, a good match marred because of Ric Flair… I never thought I would be ever write that because Flair is supposed to make everything better. Not this time, old man!
Rating: 7.0 of 10 wet, sloppy Ric Flair kisses
Match #5: Royal Rumble for the WWE Heavyweight Title
Simply put, this year’s Royal Rumble was much better than the previous couple of years… which isn’t really saying much. The two Royal Rumble pay-per-views before were really terrible! I’m guessing the WWE finally took notice and buckled down to make sure they don’t make it three times in a row!
There were numerous highlights this year. I liked that they’re re-introducing Sami Zayn into the main roster. It was heartbreaking to read he got injured during his first match on Raw against Cena. He made his return in the Royal Rumble and, while he didn’t look like he was back to the level he was a year ago, he still pulled off some really good spots for him to get noticed once again.
But the biggest surprise has to be AJ Styles. Now, the only way I know about him is through a few TNA matches I watched like… I dunno, 10 years ago? I did find him interesting and fun to watch back then but I totally forgot about him because, well, TNA! But he was incredibly impressive in his WWE debut during the Royal Rumble! Can’t wait to see more of him in the future!
Another highlight would have to be how Brock Lesnar came in and cleaned house. He was like a human wrecking machine and the crowd went nuts for him! He single-handedly eliminated every member of the Wyatt Family… except for the one that counts! Unfortunately for Brock, when Bray Wyatt came in at number 27, he had the other members of his flock to storm the ring (even though they’ve been eliminated already) to take out Lesnar. And they succeeded.
However, there were some lowlight as well. For one, there weren’t any surprise throwbacks entrants this year. It was nice to see Sami Zayn, AJ Styles and even Chris Jerico enter the Rumble. But where are the Doink The Clowns or the Too Cools this year? Also, I don’t recall a time in the Rumble where someone just started eliminating people left and right. Lesnar was the closest one to this description this year but I really want someone to just come in the ring and start cleaning house!
The worst part of the Rumble isn’t Triple H coming in at number 30 and winning the entire thing, though. Oh it was bad, for sure. But the worst part has to be Roman Reigns being dragged underneath the bottom rope and getting destroyed by Vince McMahon’s League of Nation goons. It was obvious that Reigns was going to be taken to the back and then come back at a future time since he wasn’t thrown over the top rope!
It was really lazy and predictable! Why didn’t they throw him back into the ring and then toss him over the top rope? Or, instead of sending him to the back, have him get buried under a pile of chairs? Or under the wreckage of the announce tables? Lame!
But, overall, as much as I can complain about this, this year’s Royal Rumble event was actually pretty good. The opening moments and the closing minutes were actually exciting. There were a few spots in the middle where things got a bit boring but nothing to groan about.
Rating: 7 of 10 Roman Reigns being sent to the back
Overall rating for the 2016 Royal Rumble
Color me surprised! This year’s Royal Rumble didn’t stink! In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it! The best match definitely has to be the Last Man Standing Match with Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens. But none of the matches were bad, which is saying a lot for the WWE lately! Hopefully, they can keep up this momentum until Wrestlemania!
Rating: 7 of 10 Triple H is the champ again? Really?
What did you think of this year’s Royal Rumble? Let me know in the comments section below!