Welcome to the TJR review of WWE Royal Rumble 2020.
Before I begin, just a few words on the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash today when he was just 41 years old. He was married with four daughters and one of his daughters named Gianna died (she is 13 years old) with him on the plane. There were nine people that died on the helicopter. I’m a huge basketball fan and I played the game my whole life. He’s only two years older than me, so I watched his career play out before my eyes from watching highlights of him in high school to his NBA career. He had an incredible career with the LA Lakers for 20 years, he’s truly one of the best basketball players ever and probably one of the most famous people in the world. If you just said the name “Kobe” people would recognize him without mentioning the last name. I watched as he won 5 NBA Titles and retired as one of the best players ever. I feel for his family, friends and the millions of Kobe fans all around the world. Yes, he had some faults and made some mistakes, but he was a hard-working guy that did the best he could to provide for his family. I never met the man, yet I watched him so much on the court and followed his career so closely that I felt like I knew him. If anything, it’s a reminder of how precious life is. I'm pretty sad about this, but no matter what we do, life goes on. Rest in peace, Kobe and Gianna and the others. Thanks for the memories.
The distraction of pro wrestling is always there for us, I guess. I’m glad about that, at least. Let’s check out the Royal Rumble.
WWE Royal Rumble
From Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas
January 26, 2020
There were two matches on the two-hour Kickoff Show beginning at 5pmET / 4pmCT.
The Smackdown announce team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves called the first match.
Sheamus vs. Shorty G
Shorty tried waistlock takedowns, but Sheamus kept on tossing him down. Sheamus with a shoulder tackle, then a back elbow that sent Shorty into the turnbuckle and Shorty came back with a running cross body block to take Sheamus over the top to the floor. They went back to the ring with Shorty getting a takedown, but then Sheamus kicked him into the turnbuckle and whipped Shorty shoulder first into the turnbuckle. Sheamus with a shoulderbreaker to his knee. Sheamus stomped on the left hand of Shorty. Sheamus with an elbow to knock Shorty down again followed by Sheamus slapping on an armbar. Sheamus also pulled on the fingers of Shorty, which really slowed down the match. Sheamus sent Shorty to the apron followed by more than ten forearms to the chest. They went to the floor with Sheamus hitting more forearms to the chest. Sheamus yelled out: “Are you not entertained?” Fans cheered. Shorty got back into it with chops, a kick to the chest and Shorty hit a dropkick to the left knee. Shorty with a rolling kick on Sheamus against the turnbuckle and another running kick by Shorty. Shorty went up top for a moonsault, Sheamus caught him and Shorty hit a Tornado DDT. Shorty up top for a moonsault that connected for a two count. Sheamus with a running knee against the turnbuckle, Shorty rolled through and hit a rolling German Suplex for two. Sheamus went back to the left arm by stretching Shorty’s arm against the top rope and then pulling back on the neck against the rope. Sheamus went to the top rope, he jumped off with nothing, Shorty caught him with an Ankle Lock, Sheamus kicked him away and Shorty ducked a Brogue Kick. Shorty with the Ankle Lock again and Sheamus got to the ropes for the break. Sheamus with a kick to the left arm, Shorty with a crucifix pin, Sheamus got to his feet first and Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick for the pinfall win at 12:35.
Winner by pinfall: Sheamus
Analysis: **3/4 This was a good match with Sheamus getting the win as expected. I thought this would be a much shorter match in the five-minute range with Sheamus winning in dominating fashion, so at least they had more of a regular match with Shorty getting in plenty of offense. I don’t think Sheamus pulling on the fingers for a few minutes was a good idea, but the pace picked up after that. If this was on the main card it probably would have been longer, but on the Kickoff Show, they had more time for a regular match. Shorty got several believable nearfalls and then Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick to put an end to it.
The new Raw announce team of Tom Phillips and Jerry “The King” Lawler called the next Raw match.
United States Championship: Andrade (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Humberto Carrillo
Andrade missed a corner attack, Carrillo with an armdrag takeover and he missed a move out of the ring where Andrade tripped up Carrillo on the apron. Carrillo with a kick to the face, Carrillo with two boots to the face and when Carrillo went up, Andrade shoved him off the top to the floor. Andrade hit a reverse DDT off the ropes for a two count. Andrade with a running kick to the side of the face followed by a cross armbreaker against the ropes. Carrillo came back with an athletic arm drag, but Andrade stopped the momentum with a running back elbow. When Carrillo went for a move off the ropes, Andrade blocked it and slammed him to the mat. Andrade pulled back on Carrillo’s arms to keep him grounded on the mat. Carrillo got a pin attempt, Andrade with a back body drop, Carrillo landed on his feet and hit a cross body block off the ropes. Carrillo with a jumping kick to the head. Carrillo went for a rolling moonsault, Andrade got the knees up to block and then Carrillo avoided an attack followed by a moonsault off the top rope onto Andrade on the floor. Andrade hit two rolling suplexes, but Carrillo blocked a third attempt with a suplex of his own. Carrillo went for a moonsault off the top, Andrade blocked it and sent Carrillo into the turnbuckle. Andrade hit the running double knee attack against the turnbuckle for a two count. Carrillo got an inside cradle for two. Andrade and Carrillo exchanged forearm strikes, Andrade with a chop to the chest and Carrillo came back with a superkick for two. They were both selling like they were exhausted, Andrade avoided several kicks and Carrillo hit a back elbow. Carrillo went up top, Andrade kicked him in the head and they battled on the turnbuckle with Carrillo hitting a hurricanrana when they were both standing on the top rope and that was good for a two count. Carrillo hit a hurricanrana, Andrade rolled through and got the pinfall win at 14:20 to win the match.
Winner by pinfall: Andrade
Analysis: **3/4 The match was solid as usual from these two, but I think they can have a better match. There were a few moments where it felt like they were off a bit. I also question even doing it at this show. It didn’t do Carrillo any favors to be out of action for a month and then lose a match like this. Andrade is likely the long-term champion, which is fine with me, but I think there are better ways to utilize Carrillo if there’s a goal to build him up as a future champion. The fans weren’t into the match that much either because Carrillo is still new to them and it’s hard for him to stand out when he’s losing matches like this. The close finish likely means there are more matches coming between them.
I don't know why WWE had a two-hour Kickoff Show if they only had two matches on it. Keep it one hour, put the two matches on. You have less time to kill. The main PPV is scheduled for four hours.
That means there are four matches, plus the two Royal Rumble matches on the main card. They said Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin was up first.
ROYAL RUMBLE MAIN SHOW
A video package aired hyping up the Royal Rumble that featured Steve Austin talking over some highlights and it was as if he was giving a motivational speech to the wrestlers in the Rumble matches. Austin's three Royal Rumble wins are the most in WWE history, so it's fitting that he was used for this. Austin even looked at his watch like he famously did at the 1997 Royal Rumble (when he wasn’t wearing a watch). They also focused on the non-Rumble matches as well. Great video as usual.
There was a nice shot of Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas that is home to the Houston Astros. It was mentioned by Michael Cole that there were over 40,000 people there. The expectation was about 40,000 people and it’s a sellout or close to it, so when they announce a number it will likely be legit. It’s a baseball stadium as they have used in the past at Royal Rumble events.
Roman Reigns made his entrance for the opening match. It was a bit of a mixed reaction for the Big Dog with more boos than what he has normally gotten since he returned to action earlier this year. There were still cheers, but it sounded like some boos, so that’s why I am mentioning it.
The Smackdown announce team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves were at ringside to call this match while the Spanish and German announce teams were at ringside too.
King Corbin was loudly booed as he was carried down to the ring on the sedan. The entrances are longer than a usual WWE show because it’s a bigger stadium. The end of the entrance is by a corner of the ring instead of the front side of the ring. The wrestlers will have to adjust when they get into the Rumble matches later.
Falls Count Anywhere: Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin
Reigns attacked Corbin before he was on his feet and Reigns beat up the security guys with Corbin. Reigns went after Corbin on the floor, but Corbin punched him and then Reigns followed up with a headbutt as well as punches. Reigns with a belly to back slam on Corbin for a two count. Reigns charged at Corbin leading to the Deep Six slam for Corbin for a two count. Cole said that Corbin is the “king of the entire kingdom” as if that matters. Corbin hit Reigns with the steel steps to knock him down by the ring. Corbin cleared off the Spanish announce table. Reigns sent Corbin into the top of the English announce table, then a punch and Corbin bailed over the barricade into the crowd. Reigns and Corbin went into the crowd with Reigns knocking down Corbin with punches as they stumbled their way into the crowd. They went back towards ringside where Corbin hit Reigns with the ring bell and Corbin hit a Chokeslam onto the German announce table for a two count. They didn’t clear off the table before he did that move. Reigns came back with punches, he charged for a Superman Punch and Corbin gave him a Chokeslam through the Spanish announce table that was cleared off earlier in the match. They went brawling into the crowd again after pointed over to some massive structure by the technical area. Corbin worked over Reigns with forearms as they battled in the crowd. Corbin whipped Reigns into an equipment case. They went over to the row of international announcers that we see every PPV and Reigns gave Corbin a Samoan Drop through a table. Reigns gave Corbin another Samoan Drop through an announce table where the international announcers were and that got a two count for Reigns. When they got back up, Corbin sent Reigns back first into an equipment case.
They went over to the technical area that was several feet above the ground. That’s when Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler showed up to attack Reigns since it was all legal in a match like this. They were going to use a chain on Reigns, but The Usos showed up to save cousin Roman and they attacked Ziggler and Roode. Ziggler tossed Jimmy on an equipment case and Ziggler hit Jey with a superkick. Cole noted they were in centerfield in Minute Maid Park as they tossed Jey into some boxes. Ziggler hit Jey with a trash can. Roode and Ziggler set up Jey to put him through a security barrier, but Jimmy made the save by jumping off the stage and taking down those three guys. Corbin got back into it by slamming Jimmy onto a steel railing. Reigns got involved with two Superman Punches on Corbinas they battled in the outfield of MMP. They replayed the impressive leap by Jimmy. Reigns whipped Corbin into four porta-potty’s that were out in the crowd. Reigns opened a door of a urinal, then he threw Corbin into it and slammed the door on Corbin as well. Reigns wheeled the porta-potty around and then flipped it over with Corbin inside the porta-potty. Now there’s a sentence I don’t write very often. There were some appropriate “Holy Shit” chants too. Corbin made his way out of the urinal as Reigns worked him over with punches. They went to another part of the stadium near the dugout and Corbin took control. Corbin hit Reigns with multiple chair shots to the back. Reigns came back with a Superman Punch and a Spear on the dugout. The fans cheered the victory at 21:20.
Winner by pinfall: Roman Reigns
Analysis: **3/4 The match was okay with Reigns looking dominant in getting the win. They probably went a few minutes too long. There were some funny moments in there thanks to the toilet humor, plus the interference from other wrestlers and that fit the match because of the storyline going into the match. I thought Corbin might win because I had Reigns winning the Rumble later, so a loss here could set up another match, but if this is the end of Reigns vs. Corbin matches then I’m fine with that. I really hope it's the end of this feud. Please just move on.
Reigns celebrated in the crowd as the fans continued to cheer him. The boos during his entrance did not happen during the celebration.
Kevin Owens was shown getting ready in the locker room when his buddy Samoa Joe showed up to talk to him. Owens talked about having a good history in Houston winning the Universal Title and Intercontinental Title. Owens talked about eliminating Seth Rollins and winning the match,
Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville aka Fire & Desire were interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Sonya said that she cares about her partner so much that if they were the final two, she would eliminate herself instead of Mandy and said that’s the kind of friend she is. Rose didn’t say a word.
Analysis: That was interesting. It shows how loyal Sonya is and perhaps could lead to an angle between them where Sonya has a crush on Mandy, so we'll see where this goes.
The announce team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves offered condolences to NBA legend Kobe Bryant as well as his daughter Gianna, who passed away in the helicopter crash earlier in the day. Seven others also died. A graphic was shown In Memory of Kobe Bryant 1978-2020.
— WWE (@WWE) January 27, 2020
Analysis: It was nice of WWE to do that. Fans of WWE loved Kobe too, so it’s right that they took a moment to honor him. Let's not forget his 13 year old daughter Gianna and the seven others in that helicopter crash. Breaks my heart.
Commercials aired for WWE Shop along with Miz & Mrs. season two on USA Network.
Tom Phillips was at ringside representing Raw (no Vic Joseph) and was there to call the Women’s Royal Rumble match with Corey Graves and Jerry Lawler.
Women’s Royal Rumble Match with 30 Superstars
The intervals for entrants is 90 seconds as announced by Mike Rome. That’s been the standard for many years now. The #1 entrant is Alexa Bliss from Smackdown and Bianca Belair from NXT was in there as #2 and she got a good reaction from the crowd.
Belair was in control using the size advantage by punching Bliss against the ropes. Belair picked up Bliss easily and hit a backbreaker. Belair went off the ropes leading to a moonsault on Bliss. They didn’t do very much in their 90 seconds. It was former superstar Mighty Molly (Holly) at #3 in her superhero attire. Molly posed with her cape in the ring and the fans cheered. Molly almost got rid of Belair, but Belair saved herself from elimination. Molly went up top and hit a cross body block off the top to take out Belair and Bliss as fans chanted “you still got it” for her. Nikki Cross is #4 from Smackdown with Bliss smiling about that since that’s her tag team partner. Cross with a clothesline on Molly, then Cross hit a forearm on Belair while Bliss and Cross connected with slaps on their opponents. Bliss and Cross hugged in the ring as Graves said Bliss should throw her over the top, but that didn’t happen. Holly slammed Bliss and Belair hit the KOD slam on Cross onto Bliss. Cross with a dropkick on Molly, Belair with a Spear on Cross, Bliss with a sunset bomb on Belair and Molly hit a neckbreaker on Bliss. All four women were down as Lana (from Raw) made her entrance at #5 and she had a microphone with her. Lana told Houston to welcome the greatest WW (I think she forgot the E) superstar and she’s better than all of you pathetic losers. Lana said she’ll win the Royal Rumble for her hot, hot husband Bobby Lashley. Lana with a kick to Bliss, a facebuster on Cross and Lana nearly eliminated Molly, who was able to hold on.
Mercedes Martinez was #6 and she’s a recent signee for NXT. Martinez is in her late 30s, she’s wrestled for 20 years and was very good in the ring. Martinez with a boot, a spinebuster, a slam on Bliss and a German Suplex on Belair. Martinez hit a butterfly suplex on Lana. Martinez put Lana over the top to the apron, but Lana was able to hang on to avoid elimination. Liv Morgan from Raw was #7 in a new outfit for her and she ran down to the ring going for Lana. Morgan hit a running shoulder tackle on Lana, who was on the apron and Morgan eliminated Lana. That meant Lana was the first woman eliminated. Martinez put Morgan on the apron, Morgan hit her with a forearm, then went up top and Lana eliminated Morgan, so Morgan was in the match for about one minute. Morgan and Lana got into a brawl as the fans cheered Morgan beating her up. Mandy Rose from Smackdown was #8 and she wins outfit of the night so far. Wow. She’s tremendous. Rose slapped Cross, gave her a suplex onto the apron, but Cross battled back into the ring with punches. Cross hit a cross body on Rose to take her down. Candice LeRae is another NXT wrestler that’s in the Rumble for the second year in a row as #9 in this match. LeRae went up top with a missile dropkick, then a running kick on Cross and LeRae hit a springboard moonsault on Cross. Belair lifted up Molly and eliminated her, so that meant there were six women in the ring. Bliss went to eliminate Rose, who was on the apron and when she landed, Otis was laying on the floor to help her. Mandy landed on Otis to avoid being eliminated. Mandy smiled about that and went back into the ring. That was a funny spot. The fans popped huge for it. It’s Sonya Deville of Smackdown at #10 to join her buddy Mandy Rose in the ring. Deville with punches followed by a sliding knee on Cross. Deville and Rose tried to eliminate LeRae, but Candice fought her way back into it. Deville and Martinez exchanged strikes and then Rose helped Deville work over Martinez with a low/high attack. I don’t think Mandy’s knee came close to connecting there, but Martinez sold it. Rose and Deville eliminated Martinez, so six women left.
Kairi Sane of Raw was next at #11 and she is one half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions. Sane brought her umbrella into the ring, then she tossed it away and hit a double clothesline on Bliss and Cross. Sane with a headscissors on Deville, Sane kicked Rose and hit a running neckbreaker. Sane countered a Belair suplex with a suplex of her own. Sane with an Alabama Slam on LeRae. Mia Yim is #12 as another woman from NXT joined the match and Sane hit the Insane Elbow on LeRae. Yim with a neckbreaker on Sane, then the Eat Defeat boot to the face of Cross. Belair tried a press slam on Bliss, but Cross saved her friend. Belair picked up Bliss to knock Cross off the apron to the floor. Belair put Bliss on the apron, Bliss held onto the hair and battled back in with a forearm. Deville punched Rose by accident, Otis caught Rose, then Deville punched Deville onto Rose and Otis, so that led to Deville and Rose hitting the ground to eliminate those two women. The Rose elimination makes me sad, but I’ll get over it. Dana Brooke of Smackdown ran down to the ring as #13 in the match as she knocked Yim down and Brooke hit a Senton Bomb on Yim. Brooke with a back elbow on two women and then just battled others in the other corner. Belair with a press slam on LeRae to toss her over the top to the floor. Belair had five eliminations in the match so far. Bliss eliminated Sane as well. Tamina is #14 as she got went into the ring with a superkick on Brooke. Tamina with a superkick on Bliss as well. Tamina battled Belair with punches, but then Tamina did the dumb thing by running at Belair, who eliminated Tamina for her 6th elimination of the match – that’s the record for the Women’s Rumble according to Phillips. Dakota Kai was #15 and she’s also from NXT. Kai’s heel turn a few months ago was memorable. Kai tripped up Bliss and kicked her in the back. Kai hit a running kick on Brooke against the turnbuckle. Bliss eliminated Yim, so there were only four women left: Bliss, Belair, Brooke and Kai.
Chelsea Green of NXT was #16 with her representative Robert Stone standing by the entrance with her. Green ran down to the ring and dumped Kai out of the ring. Bliss followed that by tossing Green over the top to the floor, so Green’s time in the ring was very brief. Brooke charged at Bliss, who moved, Brooke on the apron and Belair eliminated Brooke with a shoulder tackle, so that’s the 7th elimination for Belair. It’s back to Bliss and Belair as the two women in the ring just like at the start of the match. Bliss with an STO trip, Bliss up top and she went for the Twisted Bliss splash, but Belair got her knees up. Belair tried to toss Bliss out, Bliss used her feet to hang on, they battled on the apron and Belair pulled Bliss into the ring post to eliminate her. That’s the 8th elimination for Belair as she was alone in the ring. Charlotte Flair from Raw was #17 and she was my pick to win although Jerry Lawler said that was his pick, so that concerns me. Flair did not hurry on her way to the ring. Flair went into the ring with chops to the chest of Belair followed by an overhead suplex. Flair charged, Belair moved and Belair sent Flair into the middle turnbuckle. Naomi was #18 and she got a big pop for return after about six months off TV. Naomi was rocking a big afro look. Naomi knocked down Belair with some offense, Flair and Naomi showed off some athleticism with some planned spots, then Flair chopped her to welcome her back. There’s a WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix at #19, who is a regular announcer for NXT these days. Phoenix went after Flair with a head takedown, then Phoenix put Naomi onto the apron and Naomi came back with a springboard cross body block on Phoenix and Flair. Belair has been in the ring for over 30 minutes as she tried to get rid of Phoenix while Flair worked over Naomi in the other corner. Toni Storm from NXT UK was #20 and she got a decent ovation from the crowd. Storm worked over Flair with kicks and punches against the turnbuckle. Flair with hard chops on Storm as Phoenix tried to eliminate Belair, but Belair knocked her down. Belair went to the top rope, so Flair saw her and Flair kicked Belair’s leg to knock her down. It was a 33 minute performance from Belair. Great showing from her.
Kelly Kelly was next at #21 as a “legend” if you want to call her that. Kelly retired when she was 25 years old. Must be nice. Anyway, the fans cheered for her as Kelly went into the ring and hit a headscissors on Storm followed by Kelly doing a bit of a Stinkface on Storm. Flair knocked down Kelly with a forearm to the back. Phoenix nearly eliminated Flair, but Charlotte held on to avoid elimination. Sarah Logan from Raw was #22 as she ran down to the ring to go right after Flair after her some recent altercations between them. Phoenix put Logan to the apron and Flair capitalized with a kick to get Logan out of the match. Kelly tried eliminating Flair, so Flair put her on the apron, Flair with a slap and Flair said “you bitch” followed by Flair hitting Kelly with a forearm to knock her out. Natalya was #23 as another Raw superstar in the match. It looked like Beth Phoenix was bleeding on the back of her head after some spot by the turnbuckle with Belair earlier. Flair battled Natalya against the turnbuckle, but Phoenix helped Natalya to deliver a double Powerbomb on Flair. Xia Li is another NXT superstar for the second year in a row and she’s from China and she’s #24 in this match. Li went into the ring with kicks for Natalya and Phoenix. Li with a spin kick on Storm, Flair kicked Li in the ribs and Li came back with a side kick on Flair. Flair sent Li face first into the turnbuckle, Flair set up Li on the top rope and other women were trying eliminations to no avail. Zelina Vega from Raw was #25 to join the ring as the seventh woman in the match. Vega with a spinning DDT on Naomi, Phoenix caught Vega, put her on the turnbuckle and Vega hit a headscissors takeover on Phoenix. Vega with a DDT on Storm. There were three women trying to get Flair out, but Flair was able to hang on.
There were five more entrants left with NXT’s Shotzi Blackheart at #26 and she hit an enziguri kick on as soon as she got in the ring. Naomi nearly got eliminated, then she ran down the steps and jumped onto the part of the barricade where she placed her feet against the barricade. That was incredible. It’s similar to what John Morrison has done in the past and it looked really cool. Naomi went across the barricade over to the Spanish announce table, where Naomi stood on the table. Carmella was #27 from Smackdown as she ran down to the ring while Naomi was still on the announce table. Carmella hit a spinning headscissors on Natalya. Carmella hit a bronco buster on Natalya and Phoenix. Flair hit the Natural Selection on Carmella. Glam Slam by Phoenix on Flair and Naomi hit a dropkick on Flair. Phoenix and Natalya sent Flair through the ropes into the ring post to knock her out of the ring, but she was not over the top to the floor. Naomi was still on the announce tables. Tegan Nox from NXT was #28 as she hit a clothesline on Vega followed by a running splash on Phoenix. Nox wit ha Chokeslam on Vega. Phoenix’s hair was mostly red due to the blood on her head and she hit a Glam Slam on Nox. It’s comedy time with Santina Marella at #29. That’s not a good thing. I’m a fan of Santino as a character, but the Santina gimmick was so stupid. Anyway, Santina went into the ring to try to hug former ally Beth Phoenix, who was not thrilled about it. Phoenix and Natalya stood on each side of Santina, so Santina took out The Cobra sleeve, the girls didn’t move, so Santina eliminated “herself” from the match. That comedy spot was over meaning it was time for #30 in this match…Shayna Baszler. This was very much expected as the former NXT Women’s Champion went to the ring and got a big reaction. Baszler went after Flair on the floor and whipped her into the steel steps. Baszler eliminated Xia Li and picked up Nox over the top to the floor to eliminate her. Baszler also choked Vega and lifted her over the top to eliminate her. Blackheart tried to eliminate Baszler, but Baszler managed to eliminate her. Meanwhile, Naomi walked across the top of an announce table onto the steel steps to get back in the ring. Baszler tossed out Carmella and Storm. Naomi jumped off the top, Baszler avoided her and Baszler picked up Naomi over the top to the floor. That meant four women were left.
The final four were Natalya, Beth Phoenix, Shayna Baszler and Charlotte Flair, who was on the floor. Phoenix and Natalya worked together to hit the Hart Attack double team clothesline on Baszler. Natalya celebrated with Phoenix, who turned on her best friend and Phoenix eliminated Natalya. Flair tried to eliminate Baszler and Phoenix, but the women were able to avoid elimination. Baszler was able to eliminate Phoenix. Flair was still hanging on the ropes, Baszler nearly eliminated her and Flair used her legs to lift Baszler over the top to the floor. It was Flair winning from the #17 spot in the match and she lasted 26 minutes to win. The match went 54:21.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a pretty good match with my pick of Flair getting the win. I just felt like they were going to pull the trigger with her since she hasn’t done that much of late. Baszler was booked strong with several eliminations and it looked like she was about to win when she nearly got rid of Flair, but credit Flair for the cool spot to end the match. I also liked how Bianca Belair was booked as the most dominant woman in the first half of the match. Beth Phoenix was impressive as well especially since she had a cut on the back of her head, yet she was still able to work most of the match and she did well. There was a lot of NXT involvement here because the Raw and Smackdown women’s rosters are very deep. I thought most of the NXT women did well. Some of them were only in there for short times, but a few of them got some cool spots in there. Did Flair really need the win? Probably not. Most people don't "need" to win the Rumble, but WWE wanted to put her over so they did.
Charlotte Flair celebrated by doing the cliched thing by pointing at the WrestleMania sign. There were some fireworks that went off. Charly Caruso went into the ring for the interview while noting that Flair gets to face a champion (I assume Raw or Smackdown Women’s Champion) at WrestleMania. Flair said she was a diamond cut to last and whether any of you wanted her to win or lose, she reminded all of us that this is her division…WOO! Flair’s music played to end it. There was a mix of cheers and boos for her. Flair walked away looking proud of herself.
Analysis: Congrats to Charlotte Flair. I assume she’ll face the Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch at WrestleMania, but they have done that match a lot, so I don’t know if others may be a part of it or if there will be another way to set things up.
A commercial aired for WWE 24 on WWE Network focusing on last year’s WrestleMania. These are usually very well done. That's on WWE Network on demand now.
There was a backstage interview with Kayla Braxton about to talk to somebody. King Corbin talked trash about Roman Reigns and said he was going to win the Men’s Royal Rumble match.
Bayley made her entrance for her Smackdown Women’s Title defense. Lacey Evans was next as the babyface challenger. When Evans got to the ring, she put her hat on her daughter Summer’s head and her husband was there as well.
The international announce teams were shown in the stadium: Portuguese, Russian, Japanese (hey Funaki), Hindi, French and Mandarin. That led to Corey’s usual joke about getting drunk with the announcers.
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bayley vs. Lacey Evans
Evans was aggressive to start the match and used her knees to attack the shoulder of Bayley. Bayley tried to take off the turnbuckle pad, the referee warned her not to do it, Bayley ran the ropes and then Bayley went down grabbing her right leg. It was all a ploy leading to a punch and Bayley sent Evans into the top turnbuckle. Bayley went up top and connected with an elbow drop. Bayley used her leg on the back of Evans against the middle rope. Bayley was in control with a chinlock. Evans with a headscissors takeover, but then Bayley took her down with a chinlock again. The crowd was dead for this as Bayley hit a back elbow to the face for a two count. Bayley drove Evans into the turnbuckle, but Evans came back by sending Bayley to the turnbuckle. Evans with a knee lift and then a roll through into a two count. Bayley with another elbow, then Bayley went to the middle ropes, mocked Bayley with a salute and Bayley missed a cross body block when Evans moved. Evans with weak looking two handed attack, then she drove Bayley shoulder first into the mat and Evans hit a splash against the ropes. Evans caught herself from falling out of the ring. Evans jumped off the top, slipped and then went crashing into Bayley. I don’t know what that was supposed to be. Bayley to the floor, Evans followed and Bayley whipped Evans into the barricade. Evans rolled toward her daughter, Bayley grabbed Evans, threw her into the barricade and then back into the ring. I think the fans were chanting "Kobe Bryant" at some point, but I'm not sure. I got some tweets about that. Evans blocked the belly to belly and Evans hit a neckbreaker followed by a standing moonsault. Evans with a salute, top rope moonsault by Evans, Bayley got the knees up to block and Bayley covered with an inside cradle while holding the tights for the win. It went 9:20.
Winner by pinfall: Bayley
Analysis: ** This was a below average match. The crowd was dead for most of it, they just didn’t seem to care about Evans trying to make her comeback and there were also a few moments where they seemed to be off a bit. The pin was weak with Bayley winning after getting her knees up although the tights pulling makes it look a bit cheap too. I’m not sure what the WrestleMania plan will be if they go with Evans getting the title there or maybe Sasha Banks turns face to go after Bayley. I feel like they want to put over Evans at WrestleMania, but I don’t think this feud is that interesting.
A video package aired to set up The Fiend vs. Daniel Bryan for the Universal Title. It’s two hours into the main show now.
Daniel Bryan made his entrance to big applause along with a lot of “YES” chants as usual. The Fiend Bray Wyatt was next for his creepy entrance that took a lot of time, which allowed me to take a bathroom break. The Universal Title that the referee held up was the version that had The Fiend’s face on it rather than the blue Universal Title. Both guys stood in the ring for the introductions.
Strap Match for the Universal Championship: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan
The way to win the match is by pinfall or submission while you are strapped to your opponent.
The brown leather strap was tied to the left wrists of the wrestlers. There’s no DREADED RED LIGHT~! on for this Fiend match, so that’s a wonderful thing. The Fiend was aggressive early with a Powerbomb out of the corner. Fiend whipped Bryan with the strap repeatedly. Bryan managed to kick Fiend out of the ring, then Bryan tried a suicide dive, but Fiend sent Bryan into the barricade. Fiend sent Bryan into the ring post followed by Fiend hitting Bryan in the back with the strap. Fiend put Bryan on the top rope and hit Bryan with the strap repeatedly. You could see welts on the back of Bryan due to all of the strap attacks to the back. Fiend hit Bryan with a uranage followed by a head twist. Bryan came back with a kick to the head followed by the running knee that he has used as a finisher and that got him a two count. The action spilled to the floor with Bryan jumping off the top onto Fiend on the floor. Fiend came back with a whip into the steel steps. Bryan came back by driving The Fiend into the ring post three times. Bryan hit a running knee off the apron on The Fiend, who came back with a clothesline leading to an impressive flip bump by Bryan. Fiend attacked Bryan with the strap again. Fiend cleared off the German announce table, Bryan was placed on the table, Bryan kicked Fiend repeatedly in the groin while on the table and Bryan gave Fiend a DDT on the table, which did not break. I assume the table was supposed to break, but it did not. Bryan got his payback with the strap as he whipped The Fiend repeatedly as fans chanted “yes” for it.
They went back into the ring, Bryan went to the middle ropes and hit a missile dropkick. Bryan worked over Fiend with Yes Kicks followed by using the strap against the shoulder of The Fiend. That was no sold by The Fiend, who asked for more so Bryan whipped him and kicked him in the head. Bryan held the arms of The Fiend followed by stomps to the face. Bryan led the crowd in “yes” chants, he charged in and The Fiend hit the Sister Abigail neckbreaker for a two count. It didn’t look as good as usual, but Bryan kicking out drew a big pop and shock from the announcers. Fiend whipped Bryan with the strap some more, then Fiend with a hard slap, Bryan got his feet up and Fiend put the Mandible Claw on Bryan, but then Bryan choked him with a triangle choke submission. Fiend managed to bring Bryan back into the ring the Mandible Claw hold in the mouth. Bryan came back with the LeBell Lock submission where he used the strap to pull on the face of The Fiend. The crowd got louder at that point and the visual of that looked great. The crowd was screaming in support of Bryan, but The Fiend powered out of it with forearms. The Fiend hit Bryan with the strap some more. Bryan got a rollup for a two count followed by the running knee again as The Fiend kicked out at about 2.9 to keep the match going. Bryan was listening to the “Yes” chants of the crowd and that’s when The Fiend got back to his feet. Bryan attacked with the strap to the chest, Fiend didn’t even sell it and Fiend hit a uranage slam along with the Mandible Claw for the pinfall win at 17:35.
Winner by pinfall: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
Analysis: ***3/4 This was the best Fiend match so far and I don’t think it’s very close. That’s a credit to Bryan reminding us why he’s the best in WWE when he’s given the chance to have a meaningful match like this. They did a nice job of utilizing the strap as a weapon, then they managed to head out to the ring, use the tables, hit low blows and it felt like a fight from the moment it began. Bryan gave him everything he had including his finishing submission, plus the running knee multiple times and the story was that The Fiend kept on coming back for more. The story remains that nobody can seem to put The Fiend down.
After the match, The Fiend held up his Universal Title. The lights went out and Fiend hauled ass out of there (I assume). The lights went back on, then Bryan was slowly helped out of the ring by referees to sell the physicality of that match.
Analysis: Daniel Bryan’s selling is the best in WWE and it’s another reason why he’s so great. By doing that post match selling, it puts over The Fiend even more than the victory.
There were commercials for some games I have never heard of.
A video aired for Super Showdown on Thursday, February 27th from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Analysis: I really hope WWE plans travel better compared to the last time in Saudi Arabia on October 31 because that was a mess when it came to Smackdown the next day.
They announced the attendance as 42,715 people at the event while bragging about beating a Taylor Swift match in attendance.
A video package aired to set up the Raw Women’s Championship match with Becky Lynch and Asuka.
Asuka made her entrance for this rematch of last year’s Royal Rumble event when Asuka made Becky Lynch tap out at that show. Asuka was joined by tag team championship partner Kairi Sane at ringside. Tom Phillips is with Jerry Lawler on the call here, so Phillips has likely replaced Vic Joseph on Raw at least for tonight.
Becky Lynch got a big ovation from the crowd as she entered with the Raw Women’s Championship. Lynch and Asuka are also the last two women to win the Royal Rumble match, so there’s a good history. The women stood in the ring for the championship introductions.
Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch vs. Asuka (w/Kairi Sane)
Lynch avoided a dropkick and then Lynch hit a shoulder tackle. Asuka brought Lynch to the apron followed by a kick. Asuka went for a hip attack against the ropes, Lynch avoided it and Lynch pulled on the arm of Asuka. Lynch went up top where she connected with a dropkick off the top turnbuckle. Asuka hit a neckbreaker on Lynch against the ropes followed by a jumping kick to the face. Lynch with forearms, Asuka to the middle rope and hit a dropkick for a two count. Asuka grounded Lynch with an armbar while Sane was pretty funny at ringside with her facial expressions. Asuka sent Lynch into the turnbuckle, Lynch with a forearm and Lynch with double knees to block a hip attack. Lynch with a bulldog followed by a low dropkick for a two count. Asuka sent Lynch to the apron, Lynch kicked her in the arm and Asuka blocked a suplex on the apron. Lynch blocked a suplex off the apron and Lynch suplexed Asuka off the apron leading to Asuka taking a bump onto her chest where she used her arms and legs to break the fall. Asuka sold that about as well as you could do it. Lynch with a dropkick off the apron to knock Asuka down on the floor. Lynch with the Bexploder suplex into the barricade. They went back into the ring with Lynch hitting a top rope leg drop for two with Lynch shocked about the two count. Asuka got a backslide pin for two, Asuka with a knee to the face and Lynch wanted a Bexploder, but Asuka fought her off. Asuka hit a sitout slam on Lynch for a two count. They went back to the apron, Asuka with a kick to the ribs and Asuka hit a running hip attack that sent Lynch into the turnbuckle. Asuka sent Lynch into the top turnbuckle, then she wanted a suplex off the ropes, but Lynch blocked it and Lynch kicked Asuka in the head. They went to the middle ropes where Lynch slammed Asuka off back first into the mat for a two count. It was almost like a Rock Bottom off the middle ropes.
Lynch went to the middle ropes with an attack, but Asuka got double knees up to block. Asuka slapped on an armbar, Lynch got out of that and Asuka tried the Asuka Lock, but Lynch got her foot on the bottom rope. Asuka suplexed Lynch back into the ring and Asuka kicked her with a hard kick to the face. The referee checked on Lynch to see if she was okay as the fans booed the pause in action while the referee made Asuka move back. The referee was about to wave off the match, but Lynch held his leg and stopped him from calling for the bell. Asuka hit Lynch with two kicks to the chest followed by a hard kick to the head for a two count. Lynch came back for a two count of her own. I missed whatever the move was due to a brief issue with WWE Network, which has been fine for most of the night. Both women were down, then they got up to their knees and to their feet as they got into a slugfest. Asuka sent Lynch into the corner, Lynch came back with a kick to the chest and Asuka spit the green mist into the air so Lynch avoided it. Lynch slapped on the Disarmher armbar and Asuka tapped to give Lynch the win at 16:25.
Winner by submission: Becky Lynch
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a pretty good match with Lynch avenging her loss to Asuka at last year’s Royal Rumble. This result was the most obvious outcome on the show, so I think that hurt the match a bit. I would like to see Lynch work over the arm a bit during the match because she barely focused on Asuka’s arm at all, yet she wins with an armbar finisher. It was also a bit of a surprise to not have Sane interfere at all to give Asuka the advantage more often. The work by both women was great, but I think they could have done more to add to the drama. The crowd came alive for some of the match, but they were not into all of it. By the end of the match, they were into it. This was a fun storyline with a good payoff. I hope they have something interesting planned for Lynch at WrestleMania.
Post match, Lynch looked at Asuka with a grin on her face as if to say she got Asuka and managed to find a way to beat her.
There was a plug for some WWE Shop merchandise items.
A commercial aired for WrestleMania, which is 70 days away.
The Street Profits did a hype promo in the backstage area. Montez Ford mentioned his better half (wife Bianca Belair) doing her thing as well as other things on the show. Angelo Dawkins calmed him down, which led to the duo talking about some of the competitors in the Rumble match.
Booker T, who is from Houston, got a big pop from the crowd as he made his way down to the ring to join the announce team for this match.
It was announced by Michael Cole and Corey Graves that Bobby Lashley and Rusev are not in the Royal Rumble match because they got into a huge brawl in the parking lot. That opens up some more “surprise” spots and NXT entrants. Booker joined the commentary to call the match.
The rules for the Royal Rumble match were announced by ring announcer Greg Hamilton. It’s the same as the women with 90-second intervals for the entrants.
Men’s Royal Rumble Match with 30 Superstars
Brock Lesnar, from Raw, made his entrance for the Royal Rumble match as the #1 guy in the ring along with the WWE Title and Paul Heyman by his side. Elias, from Smackdown, was next at #2 with his guitar. Elias insulted Lesnar, then he did his “Walk with Elias” promo with the crowd joining in. Elias did a song he called "Sacrificial Lamb" as the crowd clapped along with him while singing that he's got one more song to sing, Lesnar is pacing, he's ready to attack and he'll smash a guitar on Heyman's back. Lesnar went after Elias.
Lesnar tackled Elias, put him up against the turnbuckle and then he hit him with a German Suplex. Heyman slid Elias’ guitar into Lesnar, so Brock hit Elias in the back with the guitar. Lesnar tossed Elias over the top to the floor. Erick Rowan was #3 from Raw and he had his cage with a cloth with him. Rowan went in the ring, there was a waistlock and then Lesnar hit a clothesline on Rowan to eliminate him in eight seconds. The fans booed as Lesnar urged on more competition. Robert Roode from Smackdown was #4 with a concerned look on his glorious face as he slowly walked down to the ring. Roode was not on the original list of entrants for this match. Roode got into the ring, he got some punches, Lesnar with a kick to the ribs, Roode with a boot and then Lesnar with a clothesline. Lesnar with an F5 on Roode in the middle of the ring. Lesnar eliminated Roode easily. John Morrison was #5 from Smackdown for his seventh Royal Rumble appearance. Morrison went after Lesnar, who caught him and gave Morrison a belly to belly suplex over the top to the floor. Lesnar celebrated with the WWE Title in his hands.
Kofi Kingston was #6 from Smackdown and he’s the man that lost the WWE Title to Lesnar last October. Kingston slid into the ring, kick to the ribs, punches, the fans cheered loudly and Lesnar drove Kingston into the turnbuckle. Lesnar pulled Kingston across the ring and then Lesnar hit a German Suplex on Kingston. Lesnar picked up Kingston and drove him into the turnbuckle. Rey Mysterio from Raw was #7 as Lesnar turned to face a former rival of his. Mysterio went after Lesnar with kicks, then a dropkick to the knee and Lesnar shoved Mysterio down. Lesnar whipped Mysterio into Kingston against the turnbuckle. Lesnar with a double clothesline on Mysterio and Kingston to knock them down. Lesnar with a German Suplex on Mysterio across the ring. Mysterio and Kingston both went under the bottom rope to go to the floor. Big E from Smackdown was #8 as he ran down to the ring to help Kingston and Mysterio back to their feet as the three faces went after Lesnar at the same time. Lesnar shoved them all down and then Kingston hit the Trouble in Paradise kick on Lesnar. Big E hit the Big Ending on Lesnar, Mysterio hit the 619 kick on Lesnar, Big E with a corner splash, Mysterio jumped onto Brock, but Brock threw Mysterio over the top to the floor. Lesnar jumped off Big E’s back to knock down Kingston with a clothesline. That was impressive. Lesnar hit Big E with a clothesline to eliminate him. Lesnar gave Kingston an F5 over the top to the floor. It’s Cesaro from Smackdown in at #9 as he ran down to the ring to face off with Lesnar. Cesaro with uppercuts, but Lesnar came back with a vertical suplex and a clothesline to get rid of Cesaro easily. Shelton Benjamin, from Raw, was #10 as Lesnar smiled at the sight of his longtime friend and training partner since they wrestled at the University of Minnesota together. Benjamin had a smile on his face. Heyman hugged Benjamin at ringside and said he was happy to see him. Heyman wanted Benjamin to reunite with Lesnar. Benjamin and Lesnar hugged in the ring. It looked like they would work together, but then Lesnar gave him a German Suplex and a clothesline to eliminate Benjamin. Lesnar is laughing about it while Booker asked how gullible Benjamin can be. That’s nine eliminations for Lesnar.
Shinsuke Nakamura, the Intercontinental Champion from Smackdown, was #11 as Sami Zayn walked out with him, but then he went to the back. Nakamura won the Rumble two years ago. Nakamura hit a spinning kick to the head of Lesnar. Nakamura charged at him, but Lesnar picked up Nakamura and dumped him over the top to the floor. It was Montel Vontavious Porter aka MVP at #12 and Lesnar was dancing to his theme song. MVP walked around the ring to chase after Heyman, who ran around the ring. Lesnar grabbed MVP, brought him into the match and MVP worked over Lesnar with punches, but it didn’t last long as Lesnar hit an F5 on MVP. Lesnar tossed MVP over the top to the floor to eliminate him. Keith Lee was up next at #13 from NXT and he’s the NXT North American Champion. The fans gave Lee a big ovation as a babyface that’s on the rise. Lesnar with two knees to the ribs, Lee with a shoulder tackle and a second shoulder tackle knocked Lesnar down, which drew a huge pop. Lee with a splash in the corner, then a lefty punch and Lesnar bounced off the turnbuckle for a double clothesline spot. I’m glad Lee was not eliminated quickly. That led to #14, who was Smackdown's Braun Strowman and he got a big pop. Strowman with running corner splashes on both guys, then a dropkick on Lee to send him under the rope to the floor. Strowman left the ring with a running shoulder tackle on Lee. Strowman went back inside the ring with a clothesline on Lesnar. Strowman picked up Lesnar, but Lesnar came back with a German Suplex on Strowman, Lesnar with a German Suplex on Lee, Lesnar with a German Suplex on Strowman again and another German Suplex by Lesnar on Keith Lee. All three guys were down. Lee and Strowman bumped into eachother, they had a staredown and exchanged punches with eachother, so Lesnar dumped Lee and Strowman at the same time. That’s 13 eliminations for Lesnar, which ties the Rumble record that Strowman had in the 50-man Rumble match. That period felt longer than 90 seconds, but I’m not keeping track. Ricochet from Raw ran down to the ring as #15, he jumped onto Lesnar and Lesnar hit a backbreaker. Lesnar with a German Suplex on Ricochet to send him across the ring. Lesnar kicked away at Ricochet to keep him down.
Drew McIntyre was next from Raw as #16 in the match and Lesnar met him in the ring for a staredown. McIntyre told him he’s been waiting for this for a long time. Lesnar took off his black leather MMA gloves. Ricochet with a low blow kick to Lesnar and McIntyre hit a Claymore Kick to eliminate Lesnar. There it is. Drew and Ricochet got together to get it done. Huge pop from the crowd!
Analysis: That could be the moment that sets up Brock Lesnar against Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania. I would love to see that. It was set up really well. I know people hated Lesnar dominating, but it was all done for a big moment like that and I think that will be huge for McIntyre’s career. I’m happy for Drew. It was also payback for Ricochet on Lesnar after Lesnar attacked him on Raw.
McIntyre battled with Ricochet briefly as McIntyre held Ricochet in his arms and tossed him over the top to eliminate him. Lesnar was still out on the floor as The Miz entered at #17 and he’s from Smackdown. Miz went after McIntyre, who avoided a Miz attack and hit a DDT on Miz. McIntyre with the Claymore Kick on Miz and McIntyre dumped Miz out of the ring. The fans chanted “na na na na hey hey goodbye” at Lesnar, which pissed him off. Lesnar and Heyman went behind the barricade and Lesnar had some words for McIntyre to tease a potential rivalry with them. It’s AJ Styles from Raw at #18 as he faced off with McIntyre, who knocked down Styles with a shoulder tackle. McIntyre wanted a suplex, but Styles hit him with a knee to stop that and Styles slapped on the Calf Crusher and McIntyre slammed AJ’s head into the mat to stop that. It’s Dolph Ziggler at #19 from Smackdown as Styles hit McIntyre with a shoulder tackle to the back of the leg. Ziggler and Styles briefly worked together until Ziggler knocked Styles down. McIntyre with a belly to belly throw across the ring on Ziggler. Karl Anderson of Raw and The OC was #20 as he ran down to the ring to save his buddy Styles from elimination. Ziggler got back into it with a superkick on McIntyre as Styles, Ziggler and Anderson briefly worked together until Styles sent Ziggler into Anderson, who hit a spinebuster on Ziggler. The four guys paired off in the corner as we entered the final third of the match.
The #21 entrant is a WWE Hall of Famer as Edge made his entrance to a huge pop. Nice pyro display for him. The crowd was on fire for Edge, who was rumored to be back for this match, then he denied it and here is in the flesh. It’s awesome to see Edge back in a WWE ring for the first time since he retired nine years ago. Edge ran into the ring with a Spear for Ziggler (the director missed that due to a crowd shot at the time), a Spear for Anderson and a Spear for McIntyre too. Styles with a Pele Kick for Edge, but Edge managed to come back with a Spear for him too and Styles took a flip bump to sell it in a big way. This is when Styles suffered a legit shoulder injury because he landed right on the left shoulder.
King Corbin from Smackdown was up next at #22 with a backbreaker Chokeslam to the knee on Anderson. The fans booed Corbin as usual. Edge tossed Styles over the top to the floor. We found at after the show that Styles was eliminated earlier than planned. It looked like Styles hurt his shoulder because he was grabbing at it while referees checked on him at ringside. I hope it’s not too serious for Styles. Matt Riddle from NXT was up next at #23 as the fans popped for the Bro, who went into the ring where he kicked off his flip flops. Riddle kicked Corbin, he kicked Anderson and he kicked McIntyre repeatedly. Edge went after Riddle, who hit a ripcord knee lift to the face of Edge. Corbin tossed Riddle over the top to the floor to get rid of the Original Bro easily. Luke Gallows of The OC group on Raw was next at #24 as the sixth man in the match. Gallows with a boot to the face of Corbin, then punches on Ziggler and Corbin hit the Deep Six slam on Edge. McIntyre went up to Corbin and tossed him over the top to the floor to get rid of him. That was McIntyre’s fourth elimination of the match. The OC duo hit the Magic Killer double team move on Edge. Randy Orton was #25 from Raw and he’s a two-time Rumble match winner as he ran into the ring to go after The OC boys. Orton with a RKO on Gallows, RKO on Anderson and Orton stared at his former Rated RKO partner Edge as the fans cheered them. Orton and Edge hit clotheslines to get rid of Anderson and Gallows together. Orton complimented Edge for having shredded abs, then they stomped away on Ziggler and McIntyre in the corners.
It’s Big Dog time at #26 as Roman Reigns from Smackdown joined the four other guys in the ring. Reigns with uppercut punches, then a Spear for Ziggler and Reigns eliminated Ziggler. It was down to Reigns, McIntyre, Orton, Edge and four more entrants still to come. Kevin Owens from Raw was in at #27 as he went after McIntyre with punches, a clothesline on Orton and Owens hit a cannonball on Reigns along with a cannonball on Edge. Owens with a Popup Powerbomb on McIntyre and a KO Stunner on Reigns. Owens kicked Orton and gave him a KO Stunner as well. It’s time for #28 and it’s Aleister Black from Raw, who went after Owens with a pump kick to the face. Black hit a knee on Edge, who rolled to the floor and then McIntyre ran right into a Black Mass kick by Black. Orton brought Edge back into the ring. There’s another Raw guy at #29 because here comes Samoa Joe, who ran down to the ring. Joe hit a jumping kick to the head of Black to knock him down against the turnbuckle. Owens with a cannonball splash on Black against the turnbuckle. Joe and Owens had a staredown leading to punches between them, Joe with an atomic drop and kick to the face. Seth Rollins is #30 from Raw and he was the winner of last year’s Royal Rumble match. Owens had Buddy Murphy and AOP members Akam and Rezar joining him on the way to the ring.
Rollins slowly walked down to the ring with his buddies. Joe and Owens went under the bottom rope leading to a brawl against the four heels on the floor. Rollins and Murphy pulled Edge out of the ring and whipped him into the barricade. AOP tossed Orton over an announce table, but he was not eliminated yet. Rollins hit The Stomp on McIntyre. Rollins kicked Reigns in the gut and hit him with The Stomp. Black attacked Rollins with a kick to the back. Black with a kick to the head of Rollins, Black went to the middle ropes, Murphy grabbed the leg and Rollins eliminated Black from the match. Owens hit a Stunner on Rollins, Owens tossed Rollins over the top, but AOP caught Rollins to save. AOP held KO’s arms and Rollins dumped Owens over the top to eliminate him. Joe with a Coquina Clutch on Rollins, Murphy kicked Joe in the back, Joe punched Murphy to knock him down and Rollins dumped out Joe. Black, Joe and Owens went brawling with Murphy and AOP as they went to the back.
There were five guys left in the Royal Rumble match with Rollins as the lone heel along with Reigns, Orton, McIntyre and Edge. The four faces surrounded Rollins in the ring. Rollins tried to reason with Reigns to team up with him again, but Reigns hit him with a Superman Punch. Orton hit a powerslam on Rollins. McIntyre hit the Claymore Kick on Rollins and eliminated him from the match.
The final four in the Men’s Royal Rumble are Roman Reigns, Drew McIntyre, Edge and Randy Orton. It looked like Edge and Orton wanted to work together as former partners. Orton sent Reigns shoulder first into the turnbuckle. McIntyre with a forearm to Orton, but Orton hit an RKO on McIntyre. Edge hit a Spear on McIntyre as Edge talked strategy with Orton again. Orton and Edge hit a Double RKO on McIntyre. Orton went up behind Edge looking like he might do something, then Edge turned around and Orton just smiled at him as if to say that’s what I do. Orton walked in front of Edge, so Edge grabbed Orton and eliminated his former tag team partner. That was cool just like Edge's wife Beth Phoenix did to Natalya earlier.
It’s down to three men with Reigns, McIntyre and Edge. Reigns battled with Edge, Reigns hit an uppercut and a Superman Punch. Reigns set up in the corner for the Spear, Edge with a leapfrog, Edge ran the ropes and hit a Spear. Edge sent Reigns over the top, but Reigns held on. Reigns kicked Edge in the chest, Reigns pulled Edge over the top, they battled on the apron and Reigns punched Edge’s hand to eliminate him from the match.
The final two are Reigns and McIntyre. Reigns with a punch to McIntyre, he nearly eliminated McIntyre, but McIntyre came back with a Claymore Kick to knock Reigns down. McIntyre grabbed Reigns and eliminated Reigns for the victory! Drew McIntyre wins! Graves: “All I can say is that it’s about damn time!” I agree with that. It went 60:52.
Winner: Drew McIntyre
Analysis: **** This was a great Royal Rumble match. I haven’t gone four stars out of five for that many Rumbles, so that tells you I liked it a lot. I thought it was a very entertaining Royal Rumble match that had some awesome moments and really put over Drew McIntyre in a big way. It’s what they needed to do with him. There will be some fans that hated the first half of the match with Lesnar dominating, but I feel like it was needed because it meant that much more when Ricochet and McIntyre hit the two moves to get rid of Lesnar. Listen to the crowd when that happened. It was awesome. I also really enjoyed Edge’s presence in the match because while it was expected due to reports from PWInsider a few months ago, you don’t really know until you see it. Edge also had a great showing in the match, he was in there for a long time and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. I marked out seeing him out there. I picked Roman Reigns to win, but when I did that, I also said if he didn’t win that would be even better because it would mean more for somebody else. Every year we talk about who doesn’t “need” the win and Reigns is that guy, so I’m glad they put Drew over huge and I’m glad that it was Reigns that Drew beat in the end. It was exactly the right way to do it.
Drew McIntyre celebrated in the ring while a WrestleMania sign was shown and Drew posed so that the cameras shot him in the same shot as the WrestleMania sign. The win by McIntyre means he gets to face the WWE Champion or Universal Champion at WrestleMania and that’s likely going to be Brock Lesnar.
They showed replays of the key spots in the match. There was some fireworks display as well for the finish. The fans were cheering for Drew.
This event had a run time of 4:11:40 on WWE Network.
Five Stars of the Show
- Edge – With all due respect to everybody else, when you come back after 9 years, you get this spot. Edge was impressive.
- Drew McIntyre – Normally a performance like that would put him in the top spot, but I hope you understand why I picked Edge.
- Daniel Bryan
- Brock Lesnar
- Charlotte Flair
Apologies to others like Becky Lynch, Asuka, Roman Reigns and The Fiend. I can’t include everybody.
It gets an 8 out of 10 from me.
I thought this was a very good show from top to bottom. Both Rumble matches were well booked with the men’s Rumble match standing out as being the better of the two, but I really liked what the women did too. I’m genuinely happy for Drew McIntyre breaking through to win the Royal Rumble and likely going on to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE Title at WrestleMania. Sometimes in wrestling we get those moments that feel real and Drew winning that Rumble felt special. I’m happy for the guy. I know people hate Brock Lesnar because of the lack of dates he works, but he did a damn good job in that match tonight. Listen to the pop when he got eliminated. That tells you the story worked. It was also great to see Edge back in a WWE ring. He looked like he didn’t miss a beat after nine years away.
The non-Rumble matches were solid with Fiend/Bryan and Lynch/Asuka delivering predictable outcomes. I enjoyed both matches. The Reigns/Corbin match went a bit too long although it might put an end to that rivalry, so that’s a good thing. The Bayley/Evans match was definitely the worst of the night.
I enjoyed the show overall. It ran a bit long over four hours, but I was so into the Men’s Royal Rumble main event match that I didn’t even think about the time until after the match was over. This was a fun pro wrestling show, in my opinion.
This review was over 11,000 words. If you read it all, I thank you. You're awesome.