Last Sunday night the WWE held its 32nd annual Royal Rumble event at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. For the second year in a row the event fell on the first day of my company’s national sales event so I wasn’t able to watch it live. I eventually ended up watching it Wednesday evening with my bro after spending a few days trying to stay away from social media and results.
Overall I’d say it was a decent show but definitely not the best Rumble I can remember. This is traditionally my favorite show of the year and it just seemed sort of lackluster this year. When you’ve got ten matches on the card, including two full Rumble matches it’s bound to be along show… and it was. Nearly five hours long. I’m all for making the ‘Big Four’ feel special but there are ways to do it that don’t include lengthening the show.
(All photos courtesy WWE.com)
Bobby Roode and Chad Gable Defeated Scott Dawson and Rezar
A non-title tag team match on the kickoff show is not something that makes me change my long standing tradition of not watching the kickoff show. This show (the main show that is) was already nearly FIVE hours long the way it was. Shit like this just makes me think WWE is trying to punish its fans that are live in the arena.
Shinsuke Nakamura Defeated Rusev For The WWE United States Championship
I know people love Nakamura. I can even see why they might like him. To me, he’s always been ‘meh’ so a preshow match against Rusev is right about where he should be. By all accounts this was a decent match once it got to the ring but the ‘story’ between the two with Lana thrown into the mix left a little to be desired. In any case, seeing Nakamura with a belt heading into WrestleMania season shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Buddy Murphy Defeated Akira Tozawa, Hideo Itami, and Kalisto To Retain The WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Again, for me, another perfect match for the preshow. Just not my cup of tea. The recap and clips I saw looked pretty entertaining so I may actually go back and watch this one… who am I kidding. No I won’t.
Let’s get the show on the road…
Asuka Defeated Becky Lynch To Retain The WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
I was sort of shocked to see this one right out of the gate but when you take the whole show into consideration it makes a bit more sense. This was probably the match I was looking forward to the most (other than the Rumble matches themselves). 17 minutes of really good action between these two ladies that can really go. I’ve not been high on Asuka in the past but I’m coming around on her (save for her ridiculous dancing and intro). Becky Lynch… what can I say. She’s turning into this generation’s Stone Cold Steve Austin and no I’m not joking. She’s that damn good. Go check her out on Twitter.
That said, sort of surprising to not see Lynch get the title here but in retrospect probably the best booking decision. Lynch loses no momentum with the loss (especially with what happened later in the night) and Asuka was in serious need of a legit win after a crappy 2018. This gives here just that. Solid way to kick off the PPV.
The Miz and Shane McMahon Defeated The Bar To Win The WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
I try really hard to have an open mind when it comes to WWE booking decisions. I’ll go out of my way to defend stuff, especially when we’re heading into WrestleMania season. This, on the other hand, is just garbage. To me its pretty clear that the only reason we’re getting this match, and this title reign is so that we’ll get a Mix vs. McMahon match at WrestleMania when they inevitably break up. That’s not a match I want to see so by that logic THIS isn’t a match I wanted to see.
Why is Shane McMahon wrestling? Seriously. Dude is a tremendous athlete who, to his credit, has really done some amazing things. But he’s not REALLY even a wrestler. Yet this year he’s won the ‘Best in the World’ WWE World Cup tournament and now a Smackdown tag title. I just don’t get it.
As for Sheamus and Cesaro, I don’t like them either really but they deserved SO much more than to be a setup to a shitty Mania match. Meh.
Ronda Rousey Defeated Sasha Banks To Retain The WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Word on the street for months is that a women’s match is going to headline this year’s WrestleMania. Matches like this are the reason why. This was nearly 14 minutes of badassery from two gals to know what they’re doing in there. I’m always amazed how SUPER over stars like Rousey (and Lesnar) who are legit tough make it look like they’re at risk of losing to someone they’d legit maul in real life. That’s the craft that is professional wrestling. I’m not really a fan of Rousey naming one of her moves the “Piper’s Pit” but she’s paying homage to the Rowdy One so I’ll let it slide. WWE is in a great spot when it comes to the women here. No matter who they pit against one another on the top of the card, be it in a one on one match or more likely a multi way match it’s going to be great. They’ve got SO many matchups to choose from when you’ve got a lineup that includes Banks, Bayley, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch Rousey, Asuka, etc. they really can’t go wrong. Match of the night.
Becky Lynch Won The Royal Rumble
The Rumble match has always been my absolute favorite so when they added a second lady’s match last year I was stoked. As I said earlier the women’s division is simply on fire right now so it comes as no surprise that this was awesome. I’m never quite sure how to recap these things but I’ll give it a shot without going into too much detail.
There were some really awesome stories going through the match such at having all three Riott Squad members in there, Charlotte dominating as soon as she got there and a slew of NXT performers. They didn’t rely on ‘surprises’ or Hall of Famers like they did last year which just goes to show how deep the women’s roster is.
And then there’s Becky Lynch. Sure we’ve seen it before where someone wrestles earlier in the night and then returns for the Rumble but this just felt different. As soon as she showed herself I knew she was going to win but it didn’t matter… I was enthralled. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for a WrestleMania season that includes Becks front and center.
A couple of questions that I just have to ask:
- Does every Asian wrestler need to wear a mask?
- Could the IIconics be more of a Bella Twins rip off?
- Why is it that a monster like Nia Jax just isn’t believable?
- How awesome is Becky Lynch?
Bottom line, the women’s division is must see TV right now.
Daniel Bryan Defeated AJ Styles To Retain The WWE Championship
Not sure why you’d put this match in this spot in the card. Coming off a great Rumble match the crowd was dead which sucks cause AJ and Daniel gave an awesome performance. Psst… this is where you put the Shane McMahon crapfest. After nearly 25 minutes of awesome action came the only down part of the match in my book when Erick Rowan comes to ringside. Naturally this leads to him interfering and giving Bryan the win. I’m OK with them creating a heel faction for Bryan to lead but they could have just as easily given us a clean ending and then done a beatdown. I’m sure Daniel Bryan and his band of bearded vegans haven’t seen the last of AJ Styles and that’s a very good thing.
Brock Lesnar Defeated Finn Bálor To Retain The WWE Universal Championship
When I first watched this, I was really down on it. It was another quick Lesnar match (less than nine minutes) where The Beast was made do look vulnerable but then only to pick up a quick submission victory. After further thought it’s actually just what we needed. I’m the first to say that WWE has done a shitty job with Lesnar over the years and I hate that they’ve essentially given their Universal title the year off. But the post-match beatdown that Lesnar delivered tells the story that Lesnar is scared of Balor. It builds Balor and if he sticks around on TV, might lead to some interesting TV. There’s been talk of Lesnar leaving once again for either UFC or a rival wrestling company. I honestly hope he leaves but I’m hopeful that with storytelling like this he’ll at least elevate someone on his way out.
Seth Rollins Won The Royal Rumble
Not nearly as good as the women’s match but still an entertaining Rumble. Putting Rollins in that top spot headed into WrestleMania is a win in my book. I’ve already envisioned a scenario where Rollins and Lesnar are going at it at Mania and Roman Reigns returns to help Rollins slay the Beast. Whether you like Reigns or not you’ve got to know that that pop would be one of the loudest you’ll ever hear. Bummed that we didn’t get any legends or Hall of Famers other than Jeff Jarrett to kick off the match but happy that it speaks to the strength of the roster. Those throwback guys are good to see but there have been years when they’ve HAD to rely on them cause the roster was just too thin to fill out 30 (or 40) entrants.
As I said before, historically the Royal Rumble is one of my favorite shows of the year. Even if you’re not a fan of the Rumble matches there are a couple of REALLY great lady’s matches you can sink your teeth into here and a Styles vs. Bryan match that if it were on any other PPV would have been the main event.
The build to WrestleMania is upon us and with Lynch and Rollins as your Rumble winners the sky’s the limit. I can only imagine we’ll get Rollins vs. Lesnar and Lynch against some combination of Rousey, Flair, Banks and Asuka. And both of those matches are Mania main event calibur. Roll out Undertaker, John Cena and HHH, sprinkle in a tag title match, an IC title match and contests for Randy Orton and a couple others and you’ve got a hell of a WrestleMania card.
I haven’t watched much Raw or Smackdown lately but now’s the time. It’s the best time of the year to be a wrestling fan – time to point at that Mania sign!
Upcoming WWE PPV Schedule
Here’s a look at the PPV schedule through 2018.
- Elimination Chamber – 2.17.2019
- Fastlane – 3.10.2019
- WrestleMania 35 – 4.7.2019
- Backlash – May 2019
- Money in the Bank – June 2019
- Extreme Rules – July 2019
- SummerSlam – 8.11.2019
Did you watch the Royal Rumble? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!