(Just so there is no confusion, the title is meant to criticize the Royal Rumble match and not the Royal Rumble PPV entirely).
There are so many adjectives that I could use to describe the main event of last night’s show. So many emotions that I could relay to you to depict how I felt about the match. However, I don’t think it could be accurately quantified with mere words, but I can tell you one certainty. Last night, the Royal Rumble became the Royal Fumble. There were sky-high expectations coming into the match. Video packages aired each week, reliving some of the Royal Rumble’s greatest moments. This was billed as possibly being the biggest Rumble match in history. With names like The Undertaker, Goldberg and Brock Lesnar headlining the Rumble, the claim certainly held some water. However, at the end of the night’s festivities, while the crowd cheered for the eventual winner of the match, Randy Orton, it was adulation out of relief, and not of enjoyment of the match. There are so many ways to dissect this, but let’s try.
- Big Cass was an interesting choice to start off the Rumble match, but since his entrance always requires talking, it wasn’t all that surprising. Chris Jericho coming out at Number 2 signaled to me that he was going to be the event’s Iron Man, because he traditionally lasts towards the final stages. WWE’s first mistake here, in my opinion, was how they booked Braun Strowman. Braun Strowman had been receiving a monster push up to this point, dominating everyone he’s come across with on the RAW roster, winning a feud against Sami Zayn, and making a name for himself by costing Roman Reigns the Universal Championship, which is bound to lead to a feud between the two. He finished with the most eliminations in the Rumble match, with seven, to no one’s surprise. This made it all the more confusing as to why he spent such little time than expected in the Rumble match, and how he was practically single-handedly eliminated by Baron Corbin after some weak hits by Sami Zayn and Tye Dillinger. It does make Corbin look strong yes, but it’s not like he had the monster push Strowman was getting. He’s just now beginning to be relevant on the Smackdown roster. Strowman only spent 13 minutes and 11 seconds in the Rumble. Kofi Kingston and Rusev spent more time in the Rumble match than he did. He eliminated The Big Show and Mark Henry by himself. Wouldn’t it look better for him if he were to get eliminated in a joint effort? Maybe The New Day and The Wyatt Family all gang up on him? While it doesn’t ruin his character much, there was no sense in how he got eliminated, and why he didn’t last towards the end to spice up the drama. Hell, with the impending feud with Roman, it would probably make the most sense just to have him come from the crowd and eliminate him, and skin the cat that way.
- My next beef comes with the order of the superstars and how they were introduced. This is being billed as the “biggest Rumble of all time”, yet they foolishly decided to pack in all of the big names together towards the very end. The first ten or so superstars, I didn’t mind when they come out. They had the United States Champion and very popular Jericho come out at 2 and they also had one of the big names in the match, Braun Strowman come out at the number 7 slot. However, with the big names and potential surprises that people were expecting, they did a poor job of balancing out the star power in the second third of the Rumble match. The second third consisted of all three members of two tag teams (The New Day and Sheamus/Cesaro) Rusev, Baron Corbin, The Miz, Dean Ambrose, James Ellsworth and Jack Gallagher. Now, guys like Ambrose and The Miz are certainly top tier, and the jury’s still out on Corbin, but I believe WWE needed one of those marquee names to make their appearance there. At the very least have The Wyatt Family come out there with Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt to add more star power. The crowd was visibly deflated after consistently waiting for one of those names to come out and the match just went on and on and on.
- It was borderline criminal how WWE booked Undertaker, Lesnar and Goldberg. Brock Lesnar didn’t come out until number 26, and while he did come in like a house of fire, it wasn’t anything we haven’t seen him do before. German Suplex, F-5, repeat. Then Goldberg came in later at 28. As soon as he came in, he spears Lesnar, and chucks him like he’s nothing. So let’s see, Lesnar loses within two minutes to Goldberg at Survivor Series, and then Goldberg eliminates Lesnar like he’s nothing. Why, oh why, should we now be convinced that let alone Lesnar, anyone, can defeat Goldberg? I mean, Lesnar lost to Goldberg over a decade ago, but at least that match had competition. You’re trying to tell me a Brock Lesnar who is still well in his physical prime can’t keep up with fifty-year-oldld Goldberg? Give me a freaking break. I wasn’t anticipating Goldberg coming out anything earlier than 25, because it’s clear that WWE is hesitant to put him in the ring for extended periods of time, and he seems to get visibly winded after doing minimal work. I mean the man was in the Rumble for less than three and a half minutes. The man only worked about 2 minutes of a squash at Survivor Series. So since Goldberg’s big return, we’ve had only about 6 minutes of him actually doing things in the ring. Lesnar out of Undertaker, Goldberg and he would do the best with an extended period of time just because he has the stamina.
- The Undertaker then teleported to the ring using Instant Transmission at Number 29, and he tossed around a couple of superstars and then just eliminated Goldberg like he was nothing. Yeah, the man that single-handedly eliminated Lesnar, turns out, can also be easily distracted and easily chucked over. If you haven’t noticed by now, all of these big names are being used in short increments and they are just rushing right through everything instead of building up any sort of segment. In addition, and this bugs the hell out of me, and a person (sorry I forgot your name) pointed this out in the comments section under my full review of the PPV column (if you haven’t read it yet, what are you doing?). He felt like WWE completely killed the suspension of disbelief in the Owens/Reigns match. He referenced how Owens used William Regal’s trademark Brass Knucks (which has been known to knock out people with a side swipe) and Owens, a big man at that, does a running punch square to his face, in addition to all the other punishment that he took before that point, was able to kick out. Well the Rumble match sort of had something similar to that. The Undertaker took a spear from Goldberg, but within like 30 seconds or so, he got immediately right back and threw him out. Like, Goldberg’s spears are supposed to be something crippling that should keep someone down for a good amount of time, and I just didn’t appreciate that no selling act.