I’ve mentioned in the past how the Royal Rumble is and has always been my favorite WWE pay-per-view event of the year, even beating out the vaunted Wrestlemania in my list. That’s because of the actual Royal Rumble match itself. I can usually find something good each and every year and there’s always a level of excitement whenever the countdown runs down and a new entrant enters the ring.
This year, however, things felt different. Considering there are now a Royal Rumble for both the men and women divisions, it’s doubly disappointing both of them were bad.
Well, maybe not as bad as when the WWE tries to force feed Roman Reigns as the new top guy when it was clear we wanted someone else *cough* danielbryan *cough*. This year’s Royal Rumble wasn’t as bad but there was definitely something really wrong with the way everything went down. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s just go through the matches and go through what worked and what didn’t work.
The first match of the night was actually good as it pitted Roman Reigns against Seth Rollins with the WWE Universal title on the line. Regardless of how you think of them, it’s undeniable the pair can put on great matches. This one was no different in the grand scheme of things. There are some nice little touches throughout the bout, such as Rollins laughing maniacally getting laid out by a spear and Rollins powerbombing Reigns through the announce table (and the table absolutely exploding upon impact),
As good as the match is, the finish was just awful. After Rollins started laughing after eating a spear, he offered his fist, hinting as the classic SHIELD fist bump. This basically set off Reigns and he locked in a guillotine chokehold. Rollins managed to make it to the ropes to break the hold but Reigns refused. The referee counted up to 5 and Reigns was disqualified for it. This meant, despite losing the match, Reigns still kept his WWE Universal title since the belt cannot change due to disqualification.
What a terrible way to end what could’ve been a fantastic match! Disqualification due to refusal to let go of a submission hold? I get they didn’t want either to look weak, especially Roman Reigns as he is the current WWE Universal Champion and top dog on Smackdown. However, him refusing to let go of a submission hold just comes off as incredibly lame. Good match until the the lameass ending.
The next bout was the women’s Royal Rumble and, boy, did they mess this up good! There were a couple of decent spots but there were a ton of missed opportunities and just felt poorly paced. Some surprise entrants were a joy to see. I love how Melina got to make her grand entrance at the #2 spot. Having Ivory come out in her Right to Censor gimmick and talking continuously during her entrance and exit was smart. Unfortunately, practically all of them didn’t really get to do much. Most of the surprise entrants just made their way to the ring and then get promptly tossed over the top rope.
The entire thing also felt pretty aimless as the people in the ring were aimless. It was really odd to see random female Superstars just preventing others from being eliminated. It was particularly worse with Tamina as she just seemed to bounce from area to area, preventing someone from getting tossed over the top rope! Why stop them when you can help them get rid of some of the competition!
The worst thing about the women’s Royal Rumble this year is when they got to the #28 entrant because that was when Ronda Rousey sauntered to the ring. At that point, I already knew who was going to win the women’s Royal Rumble. Sure, she got the biggest ovation but to simply give her the title shot at Wrestlemania felt like a disservice to everyone else in the ring and who were eliminated up to that point. It knocked out all the wind from the possible drama of the final four because it didn’t matter. Ronda Rousey was going to win it all.
They still could’ve salvaged it by having a really good final four but they botched this as well! The final four this year featured Ronda Rousey, Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair and Shayna Baszler. Seemed like a really good final four but it’s almost like they rushed through it! Baszler locked in the Kirafuda Clutch on Bianca Belair but it got reversed and the EST of the WWE tried to toss Baszler out with her KOD. Charlotte Flair ran in and dumped them both at the same time, leaving the Smackdown Woman’s Champion against the Baddest Woman on the Planet. Charlotte went for a big boot but Rousey caught her and tossed The Queen over the top rope in a super anticlimatic fashion, cementing her ticket as the winner of the Royal Rumble and a title shot of her choosing at Wrestlemania.
I really didn’t like the Women’s Royal Rumble this year. There were no real highlights or cool spots. The eliminations were nothing spectacular, even during the final four. The finish was dissatisfying because it was obvious who was going to win it all and there was no “mini-match” to conclude it. It was incredibly uneventful and disappointing.
The next match was for the RAW Women’s Championship with Becky Lynch defending her title against Doudrop. I wasn’t looking forward to this match, if I’m being honest. The entire buildup for this was extremely negligible. Despite her getting the upper hand against Big Time Becks during the weeks leading up to this, Doudrop never felt like a proper threat. They did try to showcase her power with various slams and Becky did a whole lot of selling… or maybe not. Some moves, like that running senton looked like it really should’ve hurt as Doudrop landed on Lynch with full force! Ouch!
The finish came after Doudrop set up Lynch for a Banzai Splash. Becky Lynch managed to recover and stun Doudrop long enough to connect with a Manhandle Slam from the 2nd rope. Lynch goes for the cover and, 3 seconds later, retains her RAW Women’s Championship.
This was a decent match but definitely not pay-per-view caliber. The lack of buildup hurt it and, while Doudrop is okay in the ring, it was more Becky Lynch selling which made it as entertaining as it was. Not a good match but still watchable in general.
The next bout had Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman defending his WWE Universal Championship against Bobby Lashey with MVP at his side. Once again, this was a fun match but, like the one involving the WWE Heavyweight title, marred by a screwjob finish. It was fun to see a couple of powerhouses trying to outmuscle each other like this. I really loved how Bobby Lashley tried to compete on Brock Lesnar’s level when it came to doing suplexes to his opponent. I also liked the spot where Lesnar sidestepped a spear attempt by Lashley, causing the All Mighty to smash through the barricade.
Unfortunately, as I previously mentioned, this match had a screwjob ending. The referee was wiped out by both a avalanche in the corner as well as getting hit when Brock Lesnar hit the F5 to Bobby Lashley. This allowed Roman Reigns to interfere and spear The Beast. To add insult to injury, Reigns motioned to Paul Heyman to give him the belt… which he obliged with little hesitation. The Head of the Table then clocked Lesnar with the belt. Another referee made it to the ring and Lashley covered Lesnar for the pinfall win and become the NEW WWE Heavyweight Champion.
The match itself wasn’t spectacular but it was a respectable showing for both Lesnar and Lashley. They did a good job by focusing on using their power and trying to outdo the other. I also did kind of like the screwjob finish a bit because of the entire Paul Heyman situation. On the other side of the coin, I didn’t like the screwjob finish because, when it happened, I instinctively knew how this would work into the Royal Rumble and I didn’t like where it was headed. I’ll explain later when I talk about the men’s Royal Rumble.
The second to the last match was the Battle of the Married Couples. That’s not the real title of the match but it was a mixed tag team bout pitting Edge and Beth Phoenix against The Miz and Maryse. I was both looking forward to and dreading this match. It features Edge and The Miz, who are known to put on fun matches. It also had the return to in-ring action for Beth Phoenix and Maryse so, with the amount of ring rust the pair have, I was worried their performance was either going to be cringe or unsafe. Thankfully, the result was the former but with a not a whole lot really to speak of.
We did get a few spots featuring Beth Phoenix and she was generally able to complete as if she never retired from in-ring competition. She still seemed as strong and as powerful as she did before. Maryse didn’t really do much as she basically was there to distract Edge or use a loaded purse on Beth Phoenix as her main contributions to the match. I will say, however, she did pull off a neat looking hurracarana on Edge but that’s more of a testament to Edge’s skill.
The finish had The Miz and Maryse attempting to perform a double team version of the Skull Crushing Finale on Edge but Beth Phoenix broke it up and took out Maryse. Edge and Beth then hit a spear on The Miz. They then each performed Beth Phoenix’s Glam Slam on The Miz and Maryse, garnering Rated-R Superstar and the Glamazon the pinfall victory.
While definitely not a high caliber match, I did enjoy it because it’s simple and easy to understand. It’s your basic good vs. bad and good triumphing over evil. I’m probably not going to remember it a week from now but I did enjoy it during the here and now.
We then get to the Men’s Royal Rumble event and, honestly, I can’t say I was a fan of it. There were some interesting moments but it just felt dull. There was the return of Drew McIntyre from injury but it just wasn’t a cool enough moment in the grand scheme of things. I also can’t remember a single WWE Legend returning for this; I’m not counting Shane McMahon but we’ll get to him later. Instead, the WWE thought it would be a good idea to get celebrities like Johnny Knoxville because he has to promote his movie and Bad Bunny because of his upcoming concert tour. What a gyp!
It also lacked a lot of really memorable spots. I guess you can say the part where Chad Gable ran into the ring and sicced Damien Priest on Omos because he was the other big man left was good. This did lead Omos to get distracted and allowed the remaining Royal Rumble competitors to eventually toss him over the top rope with a lot of effort. Maybe Rick Boogs pressing Chad Gable “with one hand” looked impressive in hindsight… but I plain forgot about this moment until I tried to look up what else happened.
I would say this year’s Royal Rumble was generally alright until we got to #24 with the entrance of Kofi Kingston because he flubbed his yearly spectacular save. Just as he got on the ring, he was shoved off by Kevin Owens. He tried to grab onto the audience barricade but his feet clearly hit the floor! I have the sinking feeling this screwed up the rest of the Royal Rumble. I’m not blaming Kofi Kingston for this as he tried but he just couldn’t make it work.
We also got the only WWE Legend in the Royal Rumble at the #28 spot: Shane McMahon. He then hit the ring like he was a freight train, pummeling everything in his way. Why? What’s even worse is he made it to the final four! Once again, I have to ask why? Maybe it’s because I’m not a Shane McMachon fan. Still, why?
The worst thing about this year’s Royal Rumble was the 30th entrant, Brock Lesnar. The instant I heard his music, I knew Brock Lesnar was going to win it all. All of a sudden, all of the mystery evaporated! I mean, he had to win because he was cheated out of his title just a couple of hours before! Of course he was going to win the title shot to Wrestlemania to fight Roman Reigns, the man who cheated him out of his championship.
Oh, the final four wasn’t really a big deal because it seemed like the WWE realized they were running out of time so they rushed through the final four. The final two competitors was Brock Lesnar and Drew McIntyre. Just like the Women’s Royal Rumble, there was no epic “mini-match” to end it all. Brock basically sidestepped a Claymore Kick by Drew then the Beast did an F5 to the Scottish Warrior to the outside to win this year’s Royal Rumble. Boo!
Maybe I’m being too hard on this year’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view event. In retrospect, I kind of am. The thing is, the Royal Rumble is my favorite WWE event because of all the surprises it always has in store for fans. This year, there were zero surprises. The instant Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar hit the ring, I knew who would win their respective Royal Rumbles. It also hurt how bland the actual Royal Rumbles were as there were no real memorable spots to speak of. I will say I did enjoy the supporting bouts quite a bit but not enough to wash the bad taste of the actual Royal Rumble matches.
What did you think of this year’s Royal Rumble? Let me know in the comments section below!