Before I begin my review, I’d just like to quickly address the death of Kobe Bryant. For those of you who haven’t already been made aware, Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest players in basketball history, diet tragically in a helicopter crash. I am a huge wrestling fan, but I am a bigger basketball fan.
Kobe Bryant played an essential role in my childhood and for my love of the sport. He would constantly play through pain, never make excuses and understood the value of pure, hard work for which there is no substitute. Hearing this news literally shook me to my core, and it reminded me that life is not only too fragile, but too short. Folks, if you have grudges against people, let it go. If you haven’t called up your friends and your family, give them a call and let them know you love them. Anyone can be here today and gone tomorrow, no matter who you are. Rest in peace, Kobe. I’ll never forget you.
Roman Reigns def. King Corbin – Falls Count Anywhere
This match played out pretty much exactly how I thought it would. A lot of punching, moves through furniture and the henchmen for both men coming out and brawling with each other. As far as Falls Count Anywhere matches go, this was pretty par for the course. Certainly wasn’t bad considering my expectations, and it was the ideal match to wake up the crowd a bit.
Roman winning was predictable as Corbin has won at basically every turn. My only hope is that this is the official end of their feud and that everyone moves on after this. PLEASE tell me we are moving on after this. **1/2
Charlotte Flair Wins Women’s Royal Rumble
So let’s address what happened in this match here. We got some good plot points going for us early. The most prominent story was the dominance of Bianca Belair, who made her Royal Rumble debut. With her eliminating about a third of the competitors, it was clear that this was done to build her up as a threat to knock off Rhea Ripley in Portland. While it probably won’t happen, this was a good, productive use of her. We also had continuing story lines such as Lana and Liv Morgan. So that part was good.
The return of Naomi was also pleasant to see, and she looked absolutely great. That’s definitely a look that I can get behind. The callbacks with Mighty Molly, Kely Kelly (hit or miss sometimes) and even Santina Marella was solid as well.
Now, when it comes to Charlotte winning, I’m not totally against the decision. I predicted Shayna Baszler would win, and it was looking that way for a while. So I definitely can’t say that I wasn’t surprised. An unexpected superstar winning a Rumble match is always pretty good. When it comes to Baszler and Charlotte, Charlotte is the better performer by a country mile, even though I think Baszler works better in certain situations.
My only gripe is that this may lead to Becky and Charlotte once again, which is starting to reach John Cena vs. Randy Orton levels of redundancy. I think Baszler would have been the better matchup for Becky (or whoever Charlotte challenges), but there’s a bad need for variety in the women’s division. Becky and Charlottee fighting again doesn’t do it for me, but considering the options to win the Rumble, I can’t say I’m too disappointed. Overall though, this was a great Rumble effort. It was everything that makes the Rumble match entertaining and more. Bravo. ****1/4
Bayley (C) def. Lacey Evans – SmackDown Women’s Championship
If you saw their match on SmackDown a couple of weeks ago, then you wouldn’t have a problem here. My expectations weren’t super high for this match, and I was partly expecting this to be a part of the pre-show. Overall, it was a pretty solid effort by the ladies that didn’t overstay its welcome.
Bayley winning was obvious because Lacey defeated her to set up this match. It’ll be interesting to see which opponent is built up for Bayley for Wrestlemania. But for now, a decent cool down match from the Rumble. **3/4
The Fiend (C) def. Daniel Bryan – Universal Championship (Strap Match)
This match was heading in the right direction. It was freaking brutal. Did you hear that shot that Bryan took when his back was facing Bray on the top rope? I remember when Mark Henry and Sheamus had a strap match about 7 years ago and I remember just feeling the pain of every time Sheamus got whipped with the belt. After the match, Bryan’s back ended up looking like a railroad track.
I was afraid that the strap match formula wouldn’t work, but these two did their absolute best to make it a war, and Bryan’s selling (remember this) was spot on here. Bryan gave The Fiend a run for his money, and they did a good job of following through on the story that this match would help prevent The Fiend from escaping. It started off slow with The Fiend dominating, but as soon as Bryan caught that second win, the match picked up in a major way. I loved all of that.
And as a bonus, I could actually see everything that was happening this time! No red lights! Imagine sitting there in that big arena live, and having to squint your eyes in a red hue and seeing two objects moving around. That part was good. What I didn’t like? The finish.
I can’t help but feel that WWE has booked themselves in a corner with The Fiend. You’re building him up as this invincible entity that requires something just short of killing him in order to defeat him. The Fiend kicked out of what felt like a limitless supply of Curb Stomps and being sent into explosives and still kicked out. So naturally, I wondered in this match, exactly what will a strap match do to stop him?
This was proven to me with the match’s finish. After 15+ minutes of whipping each other into oblivion, what does The Fiend do? He stands up, tanks everything, and ends the match pretty much instantaneously. So what The Fiend was basically telling us was that all of Bryan’s offense was basically worthless and he could have ended the match at any time. You essentially negate all of the work that built up to that. I’d rather have The Fiend squash Bryan from the get-go instead of pretending that what Bryan is doing hurts The Fiend because it clearly wasn’t.
Now the question is do I take away from the match because of 1 minute crappy finish? Well, I have to be honest. I loved the brutality the match was displaying. It was fun, and if it were two evenly matched opponents, this could have reached great levels. The finish was no doubt deflating (predictable if anything), but I enjoyed the majority of the match. I guess I’ll have to come up with a better ending in my dreams. ****
Becky Lynch (C) def. Asuka – RAW Women’s Championship
Anyone felt like this match was missing something? It’s like I enjoyed the match, but I didn’t enjoy it. Let me start by saying it definitely was a good match. The pacing was decent, the work was solid, and, well, it’s Becky Lynch and Asuka. I don’t think those two could have a bad match if they tried.
That being said, it just felt flat like what they were going for. This was supposed to be the culmination of Becky defeating the only woman she hasn’t beaten. It was supposed to feel like a very redeeming moment. However, this kind left me feeling the same way the WrestleMania main event did. It was just underwhelming.
I also thought they tried to force some drama. When Becky was knocked out and the referee was contemplating calling for the bell, and Becky told him no, that just told me the match was missing something. It didn’t feel natural at all.
On the bright side, I did like that Becky beat Asuka to the punch before the Green Mist could harm her. The match was still very well done, but this wasn’t as good as I was expecting it to be. Their match at the Rumble last year was so much better. I don’t know if it was the dynamic of Asuka being a heel this go around, but something was just not clicking. ***1/4
Drew McIntyre Wins Men’s Royal Rumble Match
So much to digest here, so little time. First, let’s address the winner. I believed Drew was more of a dark horse in this match and that he’d be cancelled out by a guy like Randy Orton.
However, WWE was slowly building him up for the past month or so. The countdowns to hitting the Claymore, the kip-ups, all those were subtle cues that hinted to us that a major face run was coming.
To call this a star making performance for Drew is an understatement. To eliminate Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and win the entire match is about as big as it gets. WWE had better go all in and never turn back.
My fear is that it will resemble something like Shinsuke Nakamura’s run. He eliminated John Cena and Roman Reigns back to back and he ended up losing at WrestleMania and had nothing to show for it. This situation is different, and I don’t think I can forgive WWE if they screw this up.
Addressing everything else, WWE definitely deviated from your standard formula in this match. I didn’t expect Brock to go the distance, although it was closely looking like it for a time.
I will be honest in saying that Brock eliminating everyone started to get tedious, but it’s always fun to see a motivated Brock look to make a strong impression on people. There’s no greater sight than seeing Brock showing personality. Dancing to MVP’s music, chasing down Elias, building on his relationship with Shelton…you know, the little things.
But now we must also address the rates R elephant in the room. Freaking Edge. A 9 year hiatus and he looks like he hasn’t missed a step at all.
I wrote an article recently about WWE’s over reliance on legends of the past, but oh boy is it still fun to see them come back. Edge is my favorite superstar of all time and believe me when I say my mom thought I was having a heart attack when I heard his music.
He’s probably the MVP of the match, because the moment he returned, the entire energy of the Rumble shifted. The Rated RKO reunion was also just beautifully done. It reminded me of the 2007 Rumble when it was those two, HBK and Undertaker left.
I don’t know what plans WWE has for Edge, and I certainly hope Edge is really, REALLY healthy. The finish was just also very good. You had four superstars remaining, and the only one who didn’t win won the match, as it should be.
Overall, I had a lot of fun watching this Rumble match unfold. The Brock stuff early got old, but the payoff was magnificent once he got eliminated. This has to rank in the upper tier of Rumble matches, and this one was a doozy. Add in the NXT cameos of Keith Lee and Matt Riddle and another treat in MVP, and you got yourself one fun Royal Rumble. ****1/2
It’s the start of a new decade, and WWE got off on the right foot. Perhaps you may have marginal disagreements with the quality of the matches, but I’d say WWE delivered on this PPV.
I found both Rumbles highly entertaining, and the undercard filled out the rest of the show beautifully. I didn’t review it, but Sheamus vs. Shorty G was also a pretty solid pre-show matchup as well.
The only things I didn’t actively enjoy was the opener and Bayley/Evans, but both matches didn’t overstay their welcome and the crowd was into the opener, so it worked out in the end. Royal Rumble 2020 is a definite recommendation for me. Only thing that’s left to see is how creatively WWE screws this up.