It seems that every year following the Royal Rumble there is a lot of chatter as to why it was dreadful and why the wrong guy won. I don’t think there was much complaint about the undercard in this one so let’s quickly go over the matches leading up to the Rumble match!
Naomi, Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch def. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Natalya
I caught this match on the pre-show but was half paying attention to it. I think Naomi pinned the champion in this one which sets up Naomi as a title contender. As far as the SmackDown women’s championship is concerned come Wrestlemania season I’m hoping the Boss jumps ship and challenges Alexa given the rumours of legitimate heat between the two.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson def. Sheamus & Cesaro (c)
We have new RAW tag team champions in this one and the two referee stipulation did help in having a decisive conclusion. I anticipate Gallows and Anderson will be transitional champions, perhaps setting up a four corners tag match at Wrestlemania where Big Cass and Enzo finally win the tag belts on the Grandest stage of them all.
Nia Jax def. Sasha Banks
A bit of a squash match here and Nia looked strong. As mentioned, I’d like to see Sasha move over to SmackDown but I’m not sure who Nia feuds wirh next as I don’t see her moving into the title picture versus Charlotte.
Charlotte (c) def. Bayley
I thought this was an above average match but not the best the two can have. Unfortunately, Charlotte beat Bayley clean so as a fan I can’t have too much sympathy for Bayley. I think it would have been better had Charlotte won by nefarious means. They really made note that Charlotte is at another level (and she certainly is) compared to Bayley but that certainly portrays Bayley as a weak challenger and shouldn’t be regarded as any threat. When Bayley finally does win you don’t want it to be fluke but deserved. There remains time to convey this story and have it culminate at Wrestlemania.
Kevin Owens (c) def. Roman Reigns
A great brawl between the two. I thought Jericho would be more annoying and overused but the shark cage stipulation was utilized effectively with Jericho only tossing brass knuckles to KO. The table and chairs spots in this match were great and added greater brutality. Strowman interfering was great because as absurd as it may sound, I’ve wanted to see a Strowman-Reigns match. Owens picks up the victory, but will he go into Wrestlemania as Universal Champion?
Neville def. Rich Swann (c)
A very good Cruiserweight championship match here between Neville and Swann. The crowd wasn’t totally in this match so that did hurt the match a bit. I am a fan of Swann and his athleticism is something to marvel at each time he is in the ring. Swann is also one of the best at taking bumps in the barricade as it always looks brutal. Neville continues to showcase his mean streak as he capitalized after a Superplex and hits his submission to force Swann to tap and we have a new champion. The right move here as Neville has proved he a top the division. Who will dethrone the King?
John Cena def. AJ Styles (c)
Up next is the battle for the WWE Championship. These two have tremendous chemistry although I still believe Cena’s greatest opponent remains CM Punk. I thought this match here was similar to matches they’ve had in the past. The take away from this match is Cena being a 16x champion tying the record of Ric Flair. Also of note is Cena’s promo from last week’s SmackDown. Cena claimed Styles isn’t at his level and is just a guy. I disagree that Styles is just a guy as he certainly earned that WWE Championship but in wrestling history there are very few men that are at Cena’s level. I think Hogan and Austin paved the way for a guy like Cena to thrive but I think John Cena is one of the greatest pro wrestlers of all time. Nonetheless, a fantastic match and we’ll see both men most likely compete in the Elimination Chamber in two weeks. Can Cena hold onto the title going into Wrestlemania? What is next for AJ Styles? Many questions remain going forward on the Road to Wrestlemania!
Randy Orton wins the Royal Rumble
Here we go! The controversial Rumble match where there is complaining as to who entered the match and who won the match. It should be noted that there weren’t any surprise entrants in this one but rather men on the roster. I’d say this is because the three big ones were announced early on in Goldberg, Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker. As far as other WWE Legends, I can’t think of any that I’d be clamoring to see. The noteworthy names are much older and so even going over the top rope may prove to be risky for them at their ages. Also we didn’t see guys like Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle or Kenny Omega. Balor and Angle are most likely not cleared as of yet for in-ring participation and Omega is signed to another promotion. I was disappointed that Joe was not in this match but I do believe if he were to enter he’d have to win and dominate and those spots were reserved for other superstars. Speaking of those reserved spots, I was a bit frustrated to see Goldberg, Lesnar and Undertaker be the guys to clear house. It totally set a distinction of levels in the WWE as all the other guys would just be laid out on the mat as these stars continuously stood tall . Lastly, Roman Reigns entering #30 has set the internet ablaze. I do see justification for his entry as he was screwed in his title match. I didn’t want to see him either but if he is set for a program with the Undertaker this was a way to set it up. Orton winning wouldn’t have been my choice but if he is to face Bray Wyatt as WWE Champion I think that’s a good addition to their story.
So what did I enjoy? I liked Jack Gallagher being a part of this match and his outing. I liked how Braun and Baron were showcased in this match and I think their domination compares to the special attractions (Goldberg, Lesnar and Undertaker). I like that at #10 we saw the Perfect 10, Tye Dillinger. I’m happy Ellsworth was involved. I didn’t have a problem with Goldberg making short work of Brock and I really loved the Goldberg-Undertaker faceoff. Overall, I’d say it was a standard Rumble with expected encounters and dominance by the big names.