Let me start this review by saying one word: Yay!
Among all of the WWE’s pay-per-view, my favorite is the 30-man, over the top rope extravaganza that is the Royal Rumble. For a lot of fans, this is the beginning to the Road to Wrestlemania as the winner of the Royal Rumble will be granted the number one contender spot to compete against the WWE Heavyweight Championship at the biggest event of the WWE’s pay-per-view lineup, Wrestlemania. However, I’ve always found myself enjoying the Royal Rumble, the setup to the Granddaddy of Them All, even more than the actual Wrestlemania event itself.
However, my excitement for this pay-per-view extravaganza has waned as of late. That’s because the previous two Royal Rumbles were, how should I put it? Oh, yeah, they stunk! But I’m still hopeful that this year will be better?
Match #1: Bayley vs. Charlotte for the RAW Women’s Championship
We finally have Charlotte feuding with someone else for the RAW Women’s title. This’ll get some getting used to.
I’m not saying that Bayley isn’t a great performer in the ring. It’s the exact opposite, actually. She’s really good in the ring and combining that with her chemistry with Charlotte just made this match better. It’s just that I’ve gotten so used to seeing Sasha Banks in the ring with Charlotte that it took me a while to warm up to Bayley competing for the title. By the middle of the match, I welcomed the change as they put on a great show in that ring. Bayley’s Macho Man-esque elbow from the top rope was definitely a highlight.
The match wasn’t one of the great ones, however. I do feel that the feud between Bayley and Charlotte has been lukewarm at best. While the chemistry between the two was there, it was lacking in heat. It just seemed like Bayley wanted the RAW Women’s title and Charlotte wanted to keep it. It wasn’t personal like Charlotte’s feud with Sasha Banks.
I do have to say the finish was rather ingenious. Charlotte blocked Bayley’s superplex attempt and dumps her to the outside. As the Hugger struggled to get to the ring, the Queen of RAW nailed her with Natural Selection, smashing Bayley’s face into the (hard) ring apron. Three seconds later, Charlotte retained the title.
While there was nothing really wrong with the match and there were actually some really good spots, I can’t really say that I was extremely excited while watching the match either. I guess I just wasn’t into it because the buildup to it wasn’t that good. As such, I didn’t exactly care what was going to be the result.
Rating: 7.0 of 10 Bayley elbows from the top rope
Match #2: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens (with Chris Jericho hanging from the top of the ring in a shark cage like a sexy pinata) in a No DQ match for the RAW Universal Championship
When they made the match, I knew there was going to be a screwjob at the end so Kevin Owens could retail the title. I didn’t predict, however, who was going to be doing the screwing.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Making it a no disqualification match actually made this match for the RAW Universal Championship much better than expected. Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns were allowed to pull off some fun spots using various weapons like tables and ladders. However, I did observe that it was mostly Owens on the receiving end of the heavy hits and not Reigns. On the surface, it may look like Reigns was taking the brunt of the blow of Owen’s frogsplash through the table. But, in actuality, it looked like it hurt Owens, who was jumping from the top turnbuckle to the outside, by the way, to Reigns who was just lying on a table. Just my opinion.
The finish was, of course, because of outside interference, which led to Owens retaining the belt. After Reigns threw Owens into a pyramid of chairs and powerbombed him through the announcer’s table, The Big Dog rolled the champion into the ring and prepared to nail The Prizefighter with a spear. However, from out of nowhere, Braun Strowman dragged Reigns out of the ring and chokeslammed him onto another announcer’s table. Strowman then hit a running powerslam on Reigns through one of the tables that was set up in the ring. This enable Owens to crawl over a helpless Reigns for the pinfall victory to retain the RAW Universal championship.
This was a stupidly fun match, with Owen falling into various pieces of furniture and putting his body in harm’s way for our entertainment. Yep, it’s sadistic but it was still very beautiful. I do wish the finish was a little more creative. They could’ve found a better way for Jericho to be more involved in the match somehow, like throwing his boot at the referee or something. I also didn’t like Strowman interfering. It came from out of nowhere and really undermined Owens, especially since he could’ve won by other means, like with a low blow or something.
Rating: 8.0 of 10
Brawn Strongman Braun Strowman interferences
Match #3: Rich Swann vs. Neville
I really like this new Neville! The entire Cruiserweight division, not so much.
There’s been something wrong with the WWE’s Cruiserweight division for a while now. While last year’s tournament, which saw TJ Perkins becoming the first ever Champion in the division, their trip to the main roster has been rocky. This just proves that, although the division can deliver some exciting matches, they have to work a little bit harder with their storytelling. Adding Neville to the mix injected the division with some much needed intrigue, which is why I wasn’t surprised to see him win the belt over Rich Swann.
Even though the outcome was pretty obvious, the lead up to the finish was beautiful for the most part. Like I said, the Cruiserweights can deliver really fun and exciting matches and this bout between Rich Swann and Neville was not exception. The match was face paced from the get go but it really took some time to pick up. Really find Neville’s more methodical heel persona effective but it can slow the in-ring action down. Still, when things pick up, they really pick up!
The finish came right after Rich Swann kicked out of a pinfall attempt after being drilled into the mat by a superplex. Frustrated, Neville locked in his crossface/full nelson submission hold, which had Rich Swann tapping out and giving the title to The King of The Cruiserweights. Really good match but, like I said, there were times where Neville’s new style of ground and pound kept things tepid.
Rating: 7.5 of 10 superkicks on Neville from the top rope
Match #4: John Cena vs AJ Styles for the Smackdown World Championship
So, AJ Styles won the previous two outings against Cena. Can he do it for the third time?
I was really pumped up for this match. Cena and Styles other two matches together were simply phenomenal and extremely rewatchable. I was kind of worried that they may do the same routine like with what happened when Cena took on Kevin Owens for a second time. But my fears were put to rest as both John Cena and AJ Styles put on a heck of a show once again!
I have to say that the booking for this match was really fantastic with both Cena and Styles playing their parts perfectly. Cena utilized his power and demonstrated that he was going to use it throughout the match with massive clotheslines. Styles, on the other hand, used his agility and technical ability to try to win. There was a great back and forth effort throughout the match with lots of great action and fantastic spots.
Normally, I don’t like it when a wrestler, any wrestler, kicks out of a finishing move. But, for this match, it worked because it felt like both performers deserved the right to be able to kick out of a devastating move. Both Cena and Styles have reached a level where them kicking out of a wrestler’s most devastating maneuver seems appropriate.
The match did eventually have to end, of course, and it was a great finish as they even worked in the fact that both Cena and Styles kicked out of their respective finishing moves! After Styles connected with his second Styles Clash of the night, The Face that Runs The Place went to the outside to set up for his alternative finisher, the Phenomenal Forearm, to ensure that Cena was out of it. Cena manages to recover and grab Styles and connect with an Attitude Adjustment. The Leader of the CeNation doesn’t go for a pin, however. He instead rolls over Styles and lifts him up for another AA. Cena gets the pinfall victory, making him a 16-time Champion.
Incredible match worthy of the two top guys in the WWE as of right now. Both wrestlers gave it their all and, even with the rather overabundance of near falls, the finish made it feel like the buildup to the ending all made sense as to why they kicked out so many times.
Rating: 9.0 of 10 Cena rollups into another AA
Match #5: The 30-Man, Over-The-Top Rope Royal Rumble
I’ve mentioned earlier that the Royal Rumble is my favorite time in the WWE but I’ve been worried as they’ve really flubbed the previous two years. Two years ago saw Daniel Bryan being unceremoniously eliminated early and Roman Reigns emerging as the victor. Last year had Triple H winning the entire thing and becoming the champion in one of the laziest and most predictable Road to Wrestlemanis starts ever.
So I’m happy to report that, while there wasn’t exactly anything memorable or special with this year’s Royal Rumble main event, at least it wasn’t as terrible as the previous two years.
There were some really good highlights this year. The WWE did a great job with the overall planning of entrants this time around. They also did fantastic work with building up some of their up and coming talent. Braun Strowman looked incredibly strong and powerful. He looked like unstoppable for most of his time in the Rumble. He was the guy that eliminated The Big Show and Mark Henry single handed. The monster of a man had to be taken out by the combined effort of four WWE Superstars, namely Dean Ambrose, Tye Dillinger, Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin.
Baron Corbin also looked great in the Royal Rumble. Early on, I was incredibly critical of Baron Corbin as he didn’t really do anything for me. I’ve changed my tune as of recent weeks as Corbin has blossomed into a great in-ring performer as of late. He pulled of a nice performance in this year’s Rumble and came out looking strong. Incidentally, he was the one who knocked Strowman to the outside with a clothesline, which only made him look stronger.
Tye Dillinger was one of the surprise entrants for this year’s Rumble. I always get a kick out of the non-main roster entrants. Unfortunately, it seems like there were only two this year. One being Jack Gallagher (with William III) from the Cruiserweight division, who provided some necessary comedic relief early on. The other surprise was Tye Dillinger from NXT. It’s nice to see the WWE acknowledge him as he’s hugely over in NXT. And seeing the Perfect 10 come out in the 10 spot was perfect, if just a bit cheesy.
There were a few fun moments peppered throughout the entire Rumble. Braun looked impressive, especially since he cleaned house pretty convincingly. They played up the entire Seamus and Cesaro love-hate relationship as well. I kind of feel sorry for James Ellsworth as he seems to this generations butt of jokes in the WWE Universe but, hey! Everyone’s got his role in life and it looks like this is gonna be his. No shame in that. I do hope he has a fruitful career like the other comedy wrestlers like Santino Marella.
There was this year’s Kofi Kingston’s annual “My feet haven’t touched the floor” miracle save once again. While it may have look impressive on paper, it just didn’t look all that extraordinary on TV. It looked also downright painful as he landed chest first on the top of the ring post!
Things really picked up when the big named guys started hitting the ring late in the Rumble. As there weren’t all that many eliminations before they arrived, this enabled guys like Brock Lesnar, Goldberg and The Undertaker to clean house. I was shocked to see Lesnar get dumped out so unceremoniously by Goldberg, though! It was a good shock, however.
Since there were guys like Lesnar, Goldberg and The Undertaker in the Rumble, I was really disappointed that the WWE decided that the final three for this year were Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton and *sigh* Roman Reigns. Thankfully, the bigwigs realized that fans still haven’t warmed up to Reigns yet so they made the winner of this year’s Royal Rumble Randy Orton. Still, it’s kind of a letdown to see Orton, who’s star is slowing dimming, main event Wrestlemania.
This year’s Royal Rumble main event wasn’t spectacular and they played it safe. However, the action in the ring moved along at a nice pace and the wrestlers did their spots well and everything gelled together well mostly. It wasn’t the best Royal Rumble I’ve seen but it was definitely better than the previous two years.
Rating: 7.5 of 10 Orton’s going to Wrestlemania again?
Overall Rating for Royal Rumble (2017):
This year’s Royal Rumble was good but will not be remembered for the Royal Rumble itself. The undercard was great but it was the Smackdown Championship match that stole the show. I will say there wasn’t a bad match throughout the entire card; nothing stunk up this year’s Rumble. Randy Orton winning the Royal Rumble seems like an odd choice so I hope that the WWE tries to rebuild The Viper’s credibility as a possible main event contender before Wrestlemania.
Rating: 7.5 of 10 Really? Orton?
What did you think of this year’s Royal Rumble? Let me know in the comments section below!