It looks like the Beard Brotherhood has been formed between WWE Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan and Erick Rowan. Or perhaps the Wyatt Family is reforming? Bryan was a member once. It was a surprise ending to a very good match between the pair, even if not a very satisfying one. It leads to more questions than answers, mostly like, ‘Where does AJ Styles go from here?’ Does Styles have to go and get his own big man backup? And does Rowan still have his giant hammer and Kane’s away outfit? This is a work in progress, nobody won tonight.
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar made Finn Balor look like a million bucks. The Beast sold tonight, and put on another excellent performance. It was going to be a miracle by anyone’s standards if Balor had won the Universal title, but nobody thought he would dominate the match the way he did. Balor took more suplexes post match than he did during. Not only did the match leave Balor looking much stronger than he did throughout 2018, but it left Lesnar looking beatable. Balor lost nothing here, and Lesnar’s stock as champ increases, again.
And finally, the men’s Royal Rumble match. There were several solid debuts for NXT standouts like Johnny Gargano and Aleister Black, NXT UK champ Pete Dunne, and SmackDown newcomer Mustafa Ali. Garagno eliminated former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. Ali took out Nakamura, as well as Samoa Joe, who put in an excellent shift for his very first Royal Rumble. So big wins for Ali. Elias got to open the match, and had a nice bit with Double J Jeff Jarrett that ended with The Wanderer eliminating the Hall of Famer, but past that he didn’t get to do much. Elias was Rollins’ first victim of the night. Aside from Big E’s explosive entrance, the New Day didn’t get much out of anything tonight. Even Kingston’s two saves looked somewhat blown. Andrede came away from the match looking very strong. It was his second Rumble, after lasting more than half an hour in his debut, and he made it to the final four tonight. Shelton Benjamin, Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin – those were all men in the Rumble. That’s about all that can be said for their appearances. Same really for Drew McIntyre, who simply didn’t look very impressive. The same can be said for Intercontinental Champion Bobby Lashley, but he was only in the ring for 10 seconds. Braun Strowman quickly started to whittle the lineup down once he arrived. But the way he and Rollins were both removed from the match for so long definitely watered down the finish, and their overall impact in the match. Dolph Ziggler, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio, three former World champions, teamed up to knock out Nia Jax after she stole R-Truth’s spot. The fourth woman to enter the men’s Rumble match, now just the second to appear in both a men’s and women’s Rumble, eliminated Ali before being triple teamed and knocked out. Andrede taking advantage of Orton taking advantage of Rey lifts him to the next level on SmackDown for 2019. And then we got our finish, a tease surprise Strowman win, followed by a curb stomp on the apron, and Rollins booking a ticket to Suplex City, WrestleMania. Definitely a win for Rollins, another big loss for the Monster, and somewhat of a lackluster finish for fans. Thirteen of the entrants tonight were former world champions, only three former Rumble winners, and two Hall of Famers (both of whom were also married to the same Karen, too). It would have been 14 former world champs, but Jax killed Truth instead.
All in all, it was a good show, and that women’s Royal Rumble will be something special in future history books. With some Rumble’s going off the air to audible boos in recent memory, this year’s edition leaves things looking and feeling a lot more optimistic heading onto the road to WrestleMania.