I actually somewhat thought in the back of my mind that Nakamura would take the title back from Rusev, and it would primarily be because of Lana distracting him.
Overall, this was actually pretty fun. It didn’t overstay its welcome and it got straight to the point. Both men put on a solid, hard-hitting affair that kept the crowd engaged. Not sure what the point of putting the title on arises to begin with was, though. ***
Buddy Murphy (C) def. Kalisto, Hideo Itami and Akira Tozawa – Cruiserweight Championship
So, in case you didn’t already know, the Cruiserweights are dope. This was exactly what I was expecting and I’m glad we got it. It was a sprint from the moment the bell rang, and each person got to have a reasonable amount of offense in. I especially liked the sequences with Buddy and Hideo.
Itami was the only one in the match to not hold the CW Title and I suspected they might put the title on him here, but Buddy is the safe choice for the moment. This was high-action, little BS and entertaining all the way through. ***3/4
Asuka (C) def. Becky Lynch – Smackdown Women’s Championship
I didn’t think the ending was in question, but you could have fooled me with that ending. This was a fantastic match to begin the night, and these two had tremendous chemistry with each other. What I especially loved was the battle of submission holds, and how each women resorted to copying the other’s signature move. I don’t think the image of Asuka hitting Cattle Mutilation will ever leave my mind.
Of course, this leads to the expected speculation that Becky will now enter the Rumble and win. If she’s able to win the Rumble after this showing, what a night for her. A fantastic, physical, competitive outing to begin the night that made both women look good. ****
The Miz and Shane McMahon def. Cesaro (C) and Sheamus (C) – Smackdown Tag Team Championship
Okay, I’ll start by saying that I’m not exactly Shane McMahon’s biggest fan, because I prefer actual wrestlers competing in 2019, but he worked his ass off here. This match completely blew away my expectations. I actually thought this would be bumped to the pre-show.
They told a simple story, kept everything basic, and made the big moments impactful. I’m not entirely sure what the long-term plan is here, but for now, this was pretty damn good.
Although I am a bit perturbed that Cesaro has been pinned clean by Shane McMahon and lost at WrestleMania to a 10 year old within a year, this was way better than anything the RAW tag division could dream of. ***1/2
Ronda Rousey (C) def. Sasha Banks – RAW Women’s Championship
Kind of a hard match to grade. I certainly enjoyed it more than I hated it. However, when I compare this with the women of Smackdown, it was kind of disjointed. Some of the spots just wasn’t crisp and at times it wasn’t pleasant to look at. For example, Sasha at one point did a Suicide Dive on Ronda, but Ronda somehow ended up on top.
I did enjoy the limb work from Sasha and her desperate attempts to make her tap out by using her attire and biting. Ronda was also extremely physical, although some of her offensive spots looked very awkward.
Again, I did like it, but I guess Becky/Asuka was what I thought this match would be. Solid enough. ***1/4
Becky Lynch Wins Women’s Royal Rumble Match
One on hand, it shouldn’t be painfully obvious that someone who was competing in a title match would eventually win the Rumble. On the other hand, who cares? Becky is going to freaking WrestleMania, and we’re getting the Ronda/Becky match that’s months in the making.
Now, let’s get down to the actual match. The biggest thing that hampered it down for me was the order of superstars. They didn’t really stagger the names as evenly as I’d like. With the exception of Charlotte at 13 to carry things, the Rumble was filled to the brim with women most casuals initially had trouble recognizing.
Most of the big names were within the final five of the match, and I think that kind of hurt the middle portion a bit. There were some entertaining bits, such as Naomi and Catanzaro’s ingenuity and the return of Hornswoggle.
I did like the representation of NXT, although that was to be predicted considering last year’s Rumble was filled with every major women’s name in the last 20 years.
Overall, though, this was a pretty damn good Rumble. While the end with Becky was a bit too Johm Cena-y, this is definitely another star-making moment for her, and all of the other women worked extremely hard. I never really tuned out, and it was fun to me. ****
Daniel Bryan (C) def. AJ Styles – WWE Championship
Well, that was certainly a thing that happened. So let’s address the upside down Sheamus in the room. Can you think of a return that was ever so awkward? I mean, AJ and Daniel Bryan are having a WWE Title match at the 2nd biggest PPV of the year, and it’s decided with interference from…..Erick Rowan?
Like, can you imagine if instead of Vince McMahon walking down the WrestleMania aisle to interfere in the Rock/Austin WM 17 main event, we got Gillberg? It’s just so random. The apparent alliance is interesting to say the least.
Let’s get to the actual match. It was okay, but I don’t think it was what it needed to be. The major factor working against this match was the fact that everyone in the arena literally just sat on their asses for 70 minutes. You can’t expect to get the crowd into your cool-off match with prolonged chain wrestling.
In addition, I’m not a fan of having this match go nearly half an hour just to have a finish where the ref conveniently gets knocked out the moment the lamer half of the Bludgeon Brothers decides to interfere.
I’ve also suffered some burn-out from watching these two fight each other so often in a short period of time. It’s similar to the deal with a Ziggler and Rollins last year. These two need time away from each other for a while.
Overall, a good match, but the wrong match they needed to have. ***
Brock Lesnar (C) def. Finn Balor – Universal Championship
I hope you guys saw the antithesis in the pace with this match. I actually predicted the match would begin with Finn’s signature corner drop kick. This was the pace the WWE Title match needed. Energetic and non-stop from the opening bell.