Last night was the annual WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view event. Here are my quick thoughts on the huge show…
The Kickoff match was for the Womens Tag Team Titles. Charlotte Flair and Asuka LOST their belts to Shayna and Nia Jax. This was due to Ric Flair (and his new girltoy Lacey Evans) costing his very own daughter the match. Yeah, the titles are right back to where they were two months ago on Nia and Shayna. Predictable due to the ongoing issues between Charlotte, her dad and Lacey. Plus, we knew Asuka had to be freed up soon as she is the reigning RAW Womens Champion. The tag thing just seemed like a fun thing to do during the holidays. Now onto the serious business for WrestleMania season.
The actual main card show started off with a WWE Championship bout between The Stud Drew McIntyre and Bill Goldberg. You know a show is stacked when things begin with a WWE Title match. The champion McIntyre ended up getting the clean one, two, three victory over legend Goldberg. It was quick and relatively painless. The two did add in a pre-match brawl that added to the excitement. Ultimately though, this was about Drew gaining even more credibility before Mania, thanks to beating a WWE Hall of Famer. Goldberg did what he could at his advanced age and limited skill set. We know what to expect at this point, so it isn’t even worth complaining about. You get some spears and maybe a jack hammer sprinkled in at the end. Drew retained and now moves forward. No idea what Goldberg does next as he tends to pop in once or twice a year for ‘big’ showdowns.
Not even going to waste time with all the 24/7 Title nonsense. I actually used to defend this stuff, as it has a place on the card for comedy. Now? I don’t care.
Sasha Banks defeated Carmella to retain the Smackdown Womens. Okay match. It was better than their last big PPV bout but still filler before the road to WM kicked in. No disrespect to either woman…but more important issues are coming up for the title belt.
Bianca Belair won the Womens Royal Rumble to earn a championship match against the opponent of her choosing at WrestleMania 37. I think WWE only really had two options here. It was either going to be Bianca or Rhea Ripley, who we didn’t even know if she would officially be entered. Still kinda in that NXT/RAW/Smackdown limbo, you know? Well, she did appear and no surprise – it came down to Rhea and Bianca. The two heavy favorites in my mind. Very cool. In the end. Bianca got her moment, and it is well deserved. You saw the tears and reaction afterwards. This is her time, and I assume a bout versus Sasha for WM on the blue brand is near. Now for some little notes…
– Alexa Bliss was never an option to win but wow, she could have done a tad bit more. Even Charlotte, despite making the final three. Felt like just kinda ‘there.’
– Love me some Victoria. Awesome to see her show up. Never really a big Jillian Hall fan but also cool she is doing well.
– Fun stuff with the IIconics. A blast from the past between them.
– Santana Garrett should be a big time star in the company right now. Reportedly already a ‘main roster’ call up. Time to do something with her.
– Torrie Wilson and Alicia Fox looked great. Obviously nothing full-time. Just a one off and Rumble appearance. I’m all for it. They did great.
– Lana finally got the big moment over Nia Jax! Awesome. I enjoy those little moments during the Rumble. Small touches.
In the end, this was all about Bianca Belair. Good match, probably better than the men’s Rumble later on in the show, which we will get to in a bit!
Roman Reigns defeated Kevin Owens to remain Universal Champion. This was a brutal Last Man Standing match and yeah, the battle lived up to the billing. I know there was a big of a blunder towards the end with the handcuff and Paul Heyman, but who cares? We got the point. We knew what was happening. No harm, no foul. Whatever. Reigns was always going to retain, so the result is no shock. He has a couple of other challengers lined up. As good as KO is, he was the go-to ‘filler’ opponent for Reigns until we entered WM37 mode. Let’s go big dog!
Edge won the Mens Royal Rumble match in the main event. He was announced as entering number two. When it came time for the match though, he entered at number one. A small change but a whole ton of history. Only a select few have won after starting out first. Cool accolade to add to his resume, as this is now his second Rumble victory. He won back in 2010, ironically also returning from injury. I am all for Edge telling a redemption journey to the title he never lost back in 2011. I do have a few qualms about it. However, I am not THAT against the move on paper. A match with McIntyre could be entertaining, and a match with Reigns over on Smackdown could be amazing. Two options and still two months in between to sort out all the details. Now for a couple takeaways on the main event…
– Edge and Randy Orton started the Rumble and were the last two. I know WWE thinks this is some epic feud from 2020…but I would move on. Been there, done that. It’s over.
– Funny spot with The Hurricane. He works behind the scenes, so when the company needs these little pops, it is easiest to go with guys already there and you trust.
– Christian returning was a surprise. He’s had a ton of medical things that have kept him out of the ring for seven years. To return on the night Edge won the Rumble…hmmm…
– Carlito is back! Looking buff, let me tell you. Rumors are he may stick around a bit, on screen or off. We saw a similar deal with MVP last January, and now he’s full-time!
– Appreciate the Luke Harper tribute from the New Day fellas. Sure did feel like Big E was a favorite in the build…not so much during the match. He didn’t do much.
– Ditto to Daniel Bryan. In hindsight, you can see he was just a bluff as a winner. I mean, he’s been hanging around with Otis and Chad Gable. That’s not main event.
– Seth Rollins has returned. He should add a boost to the blue brand. I like the tease of him and Bryan going at it. Mania?
– Kane made a fun cameo, giving us a tiny reunion moment with Daniel Bryan. Again, I love these little moments in the Rumble.
– Damian Priest is officially called up from NXT. Like Rhea Ripley, he was stuck in purgatory for the past couple of weeks. He had a strong showing.
During the closing stretches, it was obvious we were headed towards a Rated R Rumble victory. Christian was out there. Edge has stuck around since the beginning and despite a sneak attack, Orton fell short. This entire ordeal belonged to Edge, who is now 47 years old and set to headline WrestleMania 47 despite wrestling only a handful of times in the past 11 years and JUST coming off a serious surgery/injury. Yeah, we will see how this goes. Like I said, I am a big Edge-Head, and we have two potentially great WM title matches ahead. Which wins out? How does it play out? Who leaves as champ in Tampa Bay come April? Lots of questions to answer.
Good show. I’d argue the Womens Rumble was match of the night, but that may be because I enjoy the winner most. Mens Rumble was entertaining with a bunch of surprises, just not sure the ending was best for business as WWE loves to say. The single title matches were fine and did what was intended. No complaints there. Solid PPV, as we begin to get a clear image for WrestleMania 37.
By Justin Watry (TWITTER: @JustinWatry)