There is something going on where Akam is injured so Vince told Drake Maverick that Rezar would be teaming up with Scott Dawson and if the team won then he would consider putting both teams in title contention or something like that. It's extremely stupid. Why not just assign Rezar another partner? The panel all then said that this would never work because these teams have no respect for each other and hate each other. Since when? If anything, we've seen that these are the two most businesslike teams on the roster and if anyone could work together, I'd think It'd be a member of the AoP and a member of The Revival
CHAD GABLE & BOBBY ROODE vs. SCOTT DAWSON & REZAR (w/Drake Maverick) - 4.5/10
A cameraperson tripped and fell during Roode & Gable's entrance. The match was fine for the time it got. To put a positive spin on that last bit, I'll say that at least this match wasn't interrupted for a commercial. Roode & Gable won clean, with no screw-ups from the mixed team.
Based on where that "Prichard owns Meltzer" sign was, it looks like WWE comped Bruce a pretty good seat this year.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Rusev(c) (w/Lana) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura - 6.5/10
Rusev did Rusev stuff while Nakamura worked over Rusev's head via strikes. The finish saw Lana get up on the apron to try to tell the referee that Nakamura was taking the turnbuckle pad off. Nakamura got in her face, but when Rusev charged at Nakamura from behind, Nakamura moved and Rusev bumped Lana off the apron. This distracted Rusev, allowing Nakamura to hit a Kinshasa and get the win. Didn't we do this same "is Lana's presence at ringside detrimental to Rusev?" story over the summer?
This match, too, was not interrupted for any commercials, but this one got some actual time (well... ten minutes, but that's pretty good for a pre-show match). This means that either they've finally stopped that obnoxious habit, or their purposely luring me onto a false sense of security and they're going to stick three matches' worth of commercial into the Cruiserweight Title match just to spite me. Both seem equally likely.
NIKKI CROSS PROMO - Awesome
POST-SHOW INCIDENT FROM TAKEOVER: PHOENIX - Both Adam Cole and The Velveteen Dream came out to bother the champions. Also, Aleister Black came up the stage. They spilled backstage and were broken up by. Also, Ricochet was here. Hunter yelled a lot. The result of this is the return of Halftime Heat, which will feature Cole, Ciampa, & Gargano vs. TVD, Ricochet, & Black in a six-man tag. Why not just do this on NXT TV? The only reason I can think of that would really justify this in my mind is if this was the only way they could fit it in to the time frame the various stories require... which should mean that we're in for some solid booking on NXT for the next few weeks, so that's something to look forward to.
WWE CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Buddy Murphy(c) vs. Hideo Itami vs. Kalisto vs. Akira Tozawa - 8.25/10
This was an awesome four-[way using the standard four-way story, plus a little bit peppered in at times about Itami coming up with ways to capitalize on things other did while "conserving his energy" (as Nigel put it). This was certainly spotty, but it was a well-paced spotfest and they did a great job making the spots not feel so choreographed. If you want to see matches like this every week, you need to start watching 205 Live.
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Asuka(c) vs. Becky Lynch - 8.75/10
Well... that sure was a fantastic way to open the show! This match had that epic Tokyo Dome/WrestleMania main event feeling form the beginning. They took a lot of big bumps and did an excellent job of making everything they did mean something. They both pulled out some new stuff here, which was cool, and pretty every nearfall felt like it had a real possibility of ending the match. Do yourself a favor and GO WATCH THIS MATCH NOW. Not just because it was awesome, but because I have a sneaking suspicion that I'll be forced to spoil the finish later on in this review.
HOLY F*CK THERE IS NO WRESTLEMANIA SIGN!
WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Sheamus & Cesaro(c) vs. Shane McMahon & The Miz - 5.75/10
Miz dressing like Shane and doing Shane's dance was funny. Miz was the babyface in peril and got his midsection worked over. He made the hot tag to Shane McMahon, who beat the heels up on his own, despite being forty-nine years old. It's like being the promoter's son gives you superpowers or something.
By the time the heels started to get real offense in on Shane (meaning not a big swing), Miz had already recovered and was right there to help Shane out. Shane kicked out of their finish, got saved from being hit with a Brogue Kick by Miz pushing Cesaro into the way, then hit a Shooting Star Press on Cesaro (where he actually missed the area of Cesaro's body he was aiming for) for the pin, because apparently Shane McMahon needs to be a champion. And no, it doesn't matter what story they tell with them as champions to get to the Miz/Shane split that we all know is coming in time for WrestleMania; I'm certain I'll be able to find a way to get them to the exact same point without winning the belts. They celebrated with Miz's dad afterwards to play into that part of the story (remember that some sob story about not wanting to disappoint his father is what finally convinced Shane to team with Miz).
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS SASHA BANKS - Fine. Charly says that "people have been saying" (Wikipedia weasel words if I've ever heard them) that Sasha is going to lose because she can't keep her emotions in check. Wasn't the point of the clip they just showed us of the go-home segment to show that it was Ronda who was having trouble keeping her emotions in check and that Sasha was doing a good job of getting under Ronda's skin?
Sasha basically said this was all BS and that she would win.
Okay... I REALLY don't like these 3-D graphics that they project in the air for the Network. They're weird. Maybe they've replaced the WrestleMania sign with a 3-D graphic that will only appear when someone is supposed to be pointing at it.
WWE RAW WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Ronda Rousey(c) vs. Sasha Banks - 9.25/10
So... yeah. I F*CKING LOVED THIS MATCH. It was a combination of Bryan Danielson vs. Roderick Strong from ROH Vendetta and the AMAZING Johnny Gargano s. Ricochet match from last night's TakeOver. This was the personal dislike and submission-based viciousness from Dragon vs. Roddy mixed with the "you're so well prepared for my usual stuff so I need to come up with new stuff on the fly" from Ricochet vs. Gargano. These two women did not like and each and really wanted to hurt each other... but without ever forgetting that their chief objective was to win this championship bout. The pacing was excellent, the reversals and resulting momentum changes were designed wonderfully, the crowd extremely hot and the false finishes convincing enough that at several points they even had me thinking that Sasha Banks was about to make Ronda Rousey tap out clean in the middle of the ring.
The pinfall finish was an interesting choice that seems designed for Submission Match as the return match, but I'm not quite sure how they get Sasha right back up into title contention so quickly. I didn't like the post-match show of respect (after a match like this I'd rather they stay angry at each other), and I doubly disliked it when they kinda-sorta undid it a few moments later on the ramp with Sasha walking off and flashing the Horsemen/women symbol and walking off instead of shaking Ronda's hand. They already hugged! Why did Ronda need a handshake after that?
2019 WOMEN'S ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH - 7.25/10
I think the way I'm going to handle these this year is that I'm give a one-sentence blurb that should give you something of a feeling of why I gave the match the rating I did, then give you my stream of consciousness thoughts (edited together to make them easier to read), then give my real "review" thoughts afterwards. So... here we go:
BLURB: There was good to great action at times, but the booking made this SUCH A MESS.
- Lacey Evans was entrant #1 and cut promo telling us she was here to clean up the women's division.
- Nattie is #2. Lacey botched kipping up in what was supposed to be a mirror spot. Not a good start to her main roster career. We've seen what Vince will do to your career if you make an embarrassing mistake he finds funny. She also missed a moonsault soon afterwards. Now Vince is definitely getting ideas (although the heel who goes to the top rope and always misses is pretty funny).
- Mandy Rose in at #3, Liv Morgan was in at #4, then quickly eliminated. It then occurred to me that the first three entrants were all blonde, and the fourth spent most of her career as a blonde as well. I would laugh so hard if all the blondes came in, then all the brunettes, etc., and WWE never brought it up on screen at all.
- Okay. Here's a brunette with Mickie James at #5. She worked with Mandy Rose and it... didn't go very well (probably Mandy's fault). Ember Moon is in next.
- #7 is Billie Kay, who refuses to get into the ring until Peyton Royce shows up. Renee asked if there was anything in the rules that prohibited this behavior and she was told that there isn't. Okay... now that this loophole has been exposed, it'd be nice if we could get some sort of announcement tomorrow on Raw that such nonsense will not be allowed next year. Next was Nikki Cross, who attacked Billie in the aisle and then ran wild on everyone. Billie Kay finally got into the ring in order to get revenge on her. Just to mock Billie Kay, fate decided that Peyton Royce should be #9. The IIconics worked together.
Tamina is #10. She runs wild with Samoan Drops until Nikki Cross starts to get the better of her, but then Nikki gets superkicked, the squished by a Superfly Splash from Tamina. Aww... what a nice tribute to her deceased father (who we don't talk about because he's a murderer).
- Xia Li comes out at #11 and took it to Tamina. Now it's KICKS FOR EVERYBODY!
- #12 is Sarah Logan. She runs wild on everyone and almost eliminates Ember Moon, but then the random pairing of Nikki Cross and Tamina randomly helped Ember out.
- Nikki is eliminated by The IIconics, who immediately start fighting. They eventually got eliminated at the same time by Lacey Evans in some weird spot that the camera missed most of.
- #13 is Charlotte
- #13 is Kairi Sane as a surprise NXT entrant. For the second year in a row. She takes it to Charlotte, too, hits an elbow drop on someone, and helps Nattie eliminate someone
- #15 is Maria Kanellis. Basically everything she did felt like the opposite of what the devious manager Maria Kanellis that we watch on 205 Live would do. Her attempt to mock Ember Moon for being from Texas went over the heads of the announcers and the crowd.
- #16 is Naomi, who eliminates Mandy Rose, after which Mandy's attempt to come back and eliminate Naomi was used to cleverly and logically set up for Naomi to do this year's Kofi spot... and then Mandy just pushed Naomi down and eliminated her anyway. They brawled. If they're waiting for a PPV to blow this feud off then the Mandy/Sonya team won't be in the Elimination Chamber match to crowd the WWE Women's Tag Team Champions.
- Charlotte eliminated Lacey. Then mystery music hit and Candice LeRae came out.
- #18 was Alicia Fox. Maria tried to form an alliance with her. Maria then ended the alliance for no reason by stomping on Fox's hat. Fox through a temper tantrum and attacked Maria. There are about eight women in the ring right now and the only one WWE has put any effort into making me want to see win this match is Charlotte (arguably Nattie, too, I guess).
- KACY F*CKING CATANZARO!
- #20 is Zelina Vega. I popped for her Street Fighter reference.
- #21 is Ruby Riott... and Liv and Sarah come out with her. They pull Charlotte under the rope and beat her up on the outside. They pull others to the outside and beat them up, too. The camera made sure to show us Zelina Vega crawling under the ring. Ruby eliminated Fox on her own, then Candice after her buddies powerbombed her into the apron.
- #22 is Dana Brooke. It'd be hilarious if she eliminated Kairi for the second straight year. Dana ran wild until she got pulled under the bottom rope and beaten up. Ruby tossed Kairi out and she landed on her face. On second viewing, it actually looked pretty controlled to me. Damn that Kairi Sane is good.
- Io Shirai came out at 23 just in time to save Kairi from the Riott Squad. Io did the big moonsault press to the floor, but she had never been in the ring so she isn't eliminated.
- Vega keeps popping her head out and pulling back in... but I'm not sure what she's actually looking for as it's not like she's looking up into the ring to see what the landscape looks like. I mean... shouldn't she just hide under the ring on the side with the ramp and count the pairs of boots that walk to the back, or keep track by occasionally poking her head out on that side to look at the TitanTron and see what's going on?
- #24 is Rhea Ripley. At this point I realized that this stuff with the Riott Squad has cuased me to completely lose track of who is still alive.
- Kacy did an even cooler Kofi spot, but hers also involved an even more egregious abuse of the rules (her butt was on the ground but not her feet). You shouldn't be doing two Kofi spots in the same year. Rhea eliminated Kacy right afterwards. Then Sonya Deville came in and punished Rhea for eliminating Kacy by kicking her right in the face.
- Rhea eliminated Dana. Vega popped out from under the ring to laugh at her. Then Hornswoggle also showed up. Vega was scared of him for some reason. She ran away from him... and right into the ring, even though she could have gone in any direction. Rhea eliminated her, and then Hornswoggle chased her up the ramp. This was completely moronic. Do they think we WANT to see things like this?
- #26 is ALEXA F*CKING BLISS! Biggest pop so far. She runs wild until Charlotte cuts her off but Alexa reverses things with a Glitter Blizzard. Now Sonya is beating on Alexa but Alexa got her onto the apron and knocked her off with the big punch.
- #27 is Bayley. She got to eliminate both Ruby and Rhea
- #28 is Lana, who can barely walk. Who the hell cleared her to compete? The doctors come out to check on her as the fans chant for Becky.
- #29 is Nia, who beats Lana up for no reason and attacks her ankle even more. She then eliminated Io Shirai.
- Carmella came in at #30 as advertised. There were no dancing shenanigans of any kind.
- Then Becky came in and tried to convince Finlay to let her take Lana's spot. Who died and left Finlay in charge? So yeah. Becky got to be in the Rumble even though she already wrestled tonight and lost.
- Alexa and Ember had an AWESOME sequence on the apron, ending with Alexa eliminating Ember.
- Ember was in for OVER FIFTY-THREE MINUTES... wound up with a grand total of ZERO eliminations. Ouch.
- Of the thirty entrants, FOURTEEN did not record a single elimination. The only person with more than three was Charlotte at five. Four others had three (Ruby, Rhea, Bayley, and Nia), four more had two (Alexa, Nattie, Lacey, Becky), and eight people had one. I kind of like the idea of occasionally doing a year where the number of eliminations is kept relatively close. That being said, when you show me Rhea Ripley being a dominant monster (she wasn't in there for too long, I'm almost certain it was less than ten minutes) and get the second-highest number of eliminations in the whole match (and only two back from the leader) while NINE women from the main roster (37.5% of the main roster field) couldn't get a single one, it just makes me wonder why the hell Rhea Ripley isn't the one on the main roster and Dana Brooke or Sonya Deville aren't the ones in developmental.
- Bayley and Carmella teamed up to eliminate Alexa. F*ck Bayley and Carmella.
- We're down to Charlotte, Nia, and Becky... and now we're down to just Charlotte and Becky when Becky yanks Nia off the apron from behind. Are they dumb?! Why give Becky such a cowardly way of eliminating Nia?
Well... if you're WWE, the reason is that you think you need to have Nia shove Becky off the stairs so she her falls and hurts her knee. Because the fans would never have gotten behind BECKY LYNCH without a match-halting injury angle. Is a third person going to run out and replace Becky now like Becky did to Lana? Of course not.
- Becky and Charlotte have their big struggle and Becky sold very well and they had some very good elimination teases, but Becky eventually go the win and everyone cheered.
Okay... actual review time.
The feeling I was left with at the end of this match was a sort of stunned disbelief. I mean... they can't even put Becky over the right way! If you wanted Becky Lynch to win the Royal Rumble then WHY DIDN'T YOU JUST BOOK HER TO BE PART OF THE ROYAL RUMBLE IN THE FIRST PLACE?!
In the past five weeks I've seen countless different people come up with this same basic outline for what WWE should do with Becky Lynch- the hottest star in the company right now who is riding a wave of support unseen since Daniel Bryan in 2014- for her road to this year's WrestleMania:
1. Becky wins Royal Rumble and wants to challenge Ronda Rousey.
2. Some sort of situation is created whereby in order to do, she must first defeat Nia Jax at a Road to WrestleMania PPV, which she does (my preferred method would have been some sort of Rock/Big Show Royal Rumble 2000 scenario whereby Becky is the winner in the building but Nia brings some sort of evidence that allows her to claim it was a tie. Becky gets feud up with Nia's weeks of complaining so at Elimination Chamber she calls Nia out and offers to put her title shot on the line at Fastlane).
3. Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania.
Pretty basic and obvious, right?
But WWE can't do that. No no no no no. First they have to put Becky in a match for the other title and BEAT HER CLEANLY. Then have her get into the Royal Rumble due to an injury to someone else (Becky sure is lucky that Lana landed badly, otherwise she's be screwed, wouldn't she?). Then do a big injury angle with her so that when she does win, they can pat themselves on the back and talk about how well their injury angle with Becky worked because the fans all went crazy for Becky's win. Because they can't seem to accept the idea that fans want Becky Lynch to be our big babyface star over their objections, so they first have her lose, and then do this completely pointless Nia attack and injury angle with Becky that makes an already too-long show even longer, just so they can pretend that it's THEIR angle that got her over.
That rampant egotism is the only possible explanation. Becky certainly didn't need the help to get over, and clearly didn't surprise anyone because the minute Lana came out limping the fans were all chanting "WE WANT BECKY!"
As for the rest of this... I'm willing to forgive so many NXT entrants because they just plain don't have enough women on the main roster (I'd argue that maybe you shouldn't be doing a Royal Rumble if you don't have enough people to put in it, but that's a lost cause at this point), but the lack of cameo entrants was a shock. I know I usually rail against those, but I think someone like a Sara Del Rey would make for a nice moment, or finding someone who could have genuinely cool moments facing off against some of the current talent (like Trish had last year) would actually help the match (as opposed to someone like Godfather or The Hurricane or whoever randomly showing up, getting their sh*t in, and leaving. My guess is that Michelle McCool will turn into the female version of is in a few years). That being said, I'm not quite sure who that woman could have been this year, so it's hard to fault them for not thinking of anyone, either.
Back to my original thought there, the NXT entrants are okay, but using Kairi Sane two years in a row really didn't work for me, and like I hinted at with the Rhea Ripley comment, having then run so wild while many of the women on the main roster aren't getting much of anything kind of rubs in the idea that NXT call-ups have nothing to do with your kayfabe skill and more to do with whether the Powers That Be want you there or not, which is a vibe your wrestling company should always avoid giving off whenever possible.
Also I would suggest that in the future WWE book one of the Royal Rumbles as the opener and the other very late in the show. After his one I feel completely and totally drained, and the only remaining matches are the men's Royal Rumble and the two men's world title matches. I absolutely should not feel that way when you've got three major matches left (and I think some of the lack of crowd response in AJ vs. Bryan was due to this as well). This would be hard in any type of show, but on a show you're planning for SEVEN HOURS- including a FIVE-HOUR MAIN SHOW, getting through one of the Rumbles early and giving us a chance to recharge our batteries is going to be important.
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Daniel Bryan(c) vs. AJ Styles - 7/10
This was shaping up to be a really great match with AJ working the knee and Dragon working the arm, and just when they hit the point when you think they're about to kick it up into that next gear, Erick Rowan wandered down to ringside in his street clothes. Oh goody. You're making me sit through twenty-five minutes just to give me a f*ck finish.
And here's the ref bump. Styles Clash... and Rowan attacks AJ and hits him with a face-claw chokeslam... and then Bryan makes the cover for the pin. Rowan then picked AJ up and held him so Bryan could hit the Busaiku Knee and they left together.
I can't believe WWE has gotten me to the point where I'm complaining about AJ Styles and Bryan Danielson feuding over the world title, but this feud has been doing nothing for me, and that was how I felt SIX WEEKS AGO before their previous title match. And now they gave us this match again, and instead of letting it be epic, they told us that they are not only going to be continuing this feud, but now it's going to have interference in it. Do they think we're actually going to be excited by the idea of the Wyatt Family running in on WWE World Heavyweight Title matches? What is going through these people's heads?!
WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH:
Brock Lesnar(c) (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Finn Balor - 7/10
Balor is just regular Balor. No demon anywhere in sight. Not even Kane. Brock used his strength to throw Finn around a bunch. Finn worked over the midsection, which Brock sold extremely well. Finn eventually managed to hit the Coup de Grace but Brock kicked out and immediately caught Finn in a Kimura for the win. Then he beat Finn up after the match, too. If you're going to keep hitting moves on the guy afterwards for no reason then why didn't you just make the match longer instead? Do they think we like these nine-minute title matches?
THE DRIFTER SINGS - WHY IS THIS HAPPENING! You're the first entrant in the Royal Rumble. That doesn't mean you come to the ring with your stool and your guitar and cut a promo. Even Corey Graves told him to hurry up and just start the match, to which one of the other announcers (presumably on direction from Vince) immediately said "don't rush Picasso."
Before Elias could actually starting singing, he was interrupted by the second entrant: Jeff Jarrett. Is it time for the match to start? No. MORE TALKING! WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS TO US?!
Jeff Jarrett claims to be the "the world's greatest singer." My assumption is that Jeff has grown so old that he is now senile and doesn't remember that we all know that The Roadie sang With My Baby Tonight and not him. The Drifter wants to sing with Jeff, so I guess he forgot, too. For the record: Corey Graves has also forgotten, but JERRY LAWLER of all people did not, and made a lip-synching joke. They talk more until The Drifter, who is supposed to be a babyface, sucker-punches Jeff for no reason.
2019 MEN'S ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH - 6.25/10
For details on this format, see the women's Royal Rumble.
BLURB: I'm having A LOT of trouble caring who wins.
- Drifter beats Jeff up, gives him the El Kabong and eliminates him. Nakamura comes in at #3 even though he already wrestled tonight. And this wasn't even an injury situation like with Becky. He was the guy that WWE booked in this spot.
- #4 is Kurt Angle. If Kurt is going to come back then shouldn't they have saved him for a time when Drew is in the ring so Drew can give us the big look of shock and maybe a little fear? Instead we got Kurt coming out randomly here, being in for a few minutes, then getting eliminated by Nakamura before Drew was ever in the match.
- #5 is Big E. He runs wild. #6 is Johnny Gargano. He runs wild, too.
- #7 is Jinder, who runs wild on all of the non-jobbers. The Singh Brothers came out with him so they could grab at Elias and Big E. for no reason. Gargano eliminated Jinder, then Big E. and Elias pulled the Singhs into the ring and beat them up. Also, Big E. pulled pancakes out of his tights.
- #8 is Joe, who eliminates Big E., putting a halt to this pancake-based bullsh*t.
- #9 is Curt Hawkins. So an NXT guy can get a spot and the single biggest loser in the company can get a spot in the Royal Rumble but the Singh Brothers can't?
- Hawkins was in the ring for a bit but wound up on the floor and hid under the ring. Because apparently we need to see this spot in BOTH Royal Rumbles.
- #10 is Seth Rollins. He had a clever way of elimination The Drifter, but The Drifter is a babyface and what they did kind of made him look like a goof. Speaking of goofs...
- #11 is Titus O'Neil. Everyone talked about him tripping. He ran, almost tripped, but caught himself. He then saw Hawkins under the ring and went to chase him for some reason. They crawled across, got into the ring, Hawkins eliminated Titus, then immediately got eliminated by Joe.
- #12 is Kofi Kingston. They announcers talk about his many Royal Rumble feats of daring. JBL informed us that he has "defied the laws of physics at times." Yeah. Do you guys remember back in 2014 when Kofi knew both his exact momentum and his exact location at the same moment? Good times.
- #13 is Mustafa Ali. He got to eliminate Nakamura, so I guess that will be a US Title feud going forward.
- Yeah. There is absolutely no way these intervals are 90 seconds.
- #14 is Dean Ambrose. He eliminated Gargano.
- Kofi's big "feat" this year was the same abuse of the rules that Kacy Catanzaro used, but he didn't even do anything impressive to get back to a standing position. I think we need to put a moratorium on these spots until someone has an idea that doesn't make the rules feel like a total joke.
- #15 is No Way Jose, who I had completely forgotten was on the main roster. He danced out with his conga line, was immediately eliminated by Samoa Joe, and just danced his way to the back like he didn't give a sh*t that he missed out on a chance to challenge for the world title in the main event of WrestleMania. For this crime, he and his buddies were destroyed by #16, Drew McIntyre.
- DREW VS. JOE!
- #17 is Xavier Woods. Even before he got into the ring they did a goofy spot so he could save Kofi again. We have now had four of those spots on this one show. These people feel like heels for circumventing the rules with their cheap bullsh*t. I popped when Drew immediately eliminated both of them.
- #18 is Pete Dunne. PETE DUNNE VS. SAMOA JOE! PETE DUNNE VS. DREW MCINTYRE!
- #19 is Almas. Now in the ring we have Almas, Ali, Joe, Drew, Dunne, Rollins, and Ambrose. At least they're doing a good job of keeping the goofs out of the ring.
- #20 is Apollo Crews, who is no longer a goof.
- #21 is Aleister Black. He gets to eliminate Dean Ambrose.
- JOE VS. ALESITER BLACK!
- #22 is Shelton Benjamin, who I also forgot was still employed.
- Ali eliminates Joe, continuing their feud.
- Someone told us that Joe had been in for 24:05. If he came in at #8 and lasted until right before #23 came out and they're supposedly using ninety-second intervals then he longest he could have been in the match for is 22:30. Maybe the time is legit because the intervals aren't legit (rather than the announcers just pulling the times out of their asses), but if that's the case then don't give me times if they don't make sense. I will never understand why they work the intervals. Why tell a lie that you don't have to tell? If you want to make the match shorter then just have shorter intervals, or don't go so long past the final entrance. Twenty-eight waiting periods at ninety seconds each is only forty-two minutes. The men's Royal Rumble went fifteen minutes longer than this, while the women's one when a whopping HALF HOUR past it (seriously... it was 5:20 shorter than the one they did in Saudi Arabia, which had 166% more entrants!)
- #23 is Corbin, #24 is Jeff Hardy, 25 is Rey Mysterio Jr.
- Drew eliminates Dunne
#26 is Lashley. He quickly gets eliminated by Rollins so he pulls Rollins under the bottom ropes and attacks him, then puts him through an announcers' table. #27 is Braun. He runs wild, eliminating Corbin, Shelton, and Jeff.
- #28 is Dolph. Drew starts to jaw-jack with him. Strowman comes up from behind and eliminates Drew. Then Dolph got laid out. I really don't want to see Drew wasted on Dolph Ziggler. If he's not beating Brock, Strowman, or Cena this year at Mania, he should be beating Kurt Angle.
- #29 is Randy Orton. We know that R-Truth is next, which means we got absolutely ZERO of the big returns from injury everyone assumed we were getting (like Owens and Zayn, who they aired "returning soon" commercials for over a month ago and we've seen neither hide nor hair of them yet).
- A Tower of Doom spot happened. Braun speared the ringpost and tumbled out through the second rope, so now we've got TWO babyface on the outside.
- #30 is R-Truth, but he gets beaten up by Nia Jax and I guess she's just allowed to take his spot even though it's a MEN'S Royal Rumble and she doesn't have a Y chromosome. Also, unlike Becky earlier, Nia didn't even get anyone's permission. Here's a fun gimmick idea. Next year we can have a genderfluid wrestler win both Royal Rumbles. That will erase the stink of that Saudi blood money, Vince. Trust me.
- Nia eliminated Ali. Now she's having a stare-down with Randy Orton, countering an RKO, and beating him up. Does she have pictures of Hunter, Vince, and Steph touching underage farm animals or something? Why is she even in here?! All her presence is going to do is create logic issues and cause PR problems when some dude gets to fight back and inevitably has to hit her. Yes, I know it's self-defense and that this is a kayfabe professional combat event and that Nia is about the same size as many of the men in this match and even bigger than some), but such logical factors have never stopped professional wrestling's critics from attacking it on those grounds in the past, and in today's social climate, I'm not inclined to think that things will in any way get better.
Nia is about to attack Rey when Dolph kicks her in the face, Rey gives her a 619, and Randy hits her with an RKO. Rey and Orton work together against her with Rey finally getting the credit for it. Wasn't this the company that told people to never, ever, ever do intergender wrestling if they wanted to get hired?
- Orton eliminates Rey, then Andrade eliminates Orton. Andrade Almas and Dolph Ziggler are the last two left in the ring... but of course Seth and Braun are still down on the outside. This getting annoying and I just want this stupid match to end.
- Braun comes back and beats Dolph and Andrade up, then goes to the outside beat Seth up. He rolls Seth back into the ring so now all of the remaining competitors are in the ring. They gang up on Braun and hit him with their big moves.
- Braun eliminates Almas. Braun eliminates Dolph. Drama, drama, Rollins eliminates Braun. Whatever. That last bit was actually really good, but I'm so tired of this show right now that I can't bring myself to care.
I think this match had two main problems. The first was that it was mostly just a bunch of stuff. There was no real story of any sort being told with anything. Guys were just in there until they were out. There were small little moments (usually all based around the eliminations, like Ali eliminating Joe or Drew's elimination coming because he was distracted while trash-talking with Dolph), but nothing really felt like it had any meaning behind it. Even most of the eliminations felt like they were more about getting people out of the match than about paying something off or setting something up or even just continuing something already on-going. It was like booting up a Royal Rumble in a video game and just letting it play out.
The other major problem this match had was that so many of the big names were out well before the end. I tried to do the match to figure out how long before the finish some of the top names were out but this once again revealed the problems with their BS intervals, as based on his entry position and the time is he listed as being in the ring, Rey Mysterio, who eliminated Nia Jax, was eliminated from the match before the #30 wrestler should have even entered the match. But even without that, before wrestler #30 even entered the match, Drew McIntyre, Jeff Hardy, Dean Ambrose, Bobby Lashley, Samoa Joe, and Shinsuke Nakamura were all long-gone. By the time we were down to the final eight, only Strowman and Rollins felt like they had a real chance of winning, with there being a small outside chance that they would randomly decide to go with Orton just because he's Orton, so the rest of the match became a waiting game until it would come down to just Seth and Braun (or until one of them would otherwise be eliminated, making the winner obvious), rather than an exciting journey, like last year's final four in the men's match was, or even like the final three in tonight's women's Royal Rumble was where even if we all knew Becky was going to win, Nia and Charlotte at least seemed like theoretically credible threats of winning.
Another problem this had was that they really didn't give us too much to get excited about. Kurt Angle made his big return... and was then quickly eliminated. There was no big return from injury for Owens or Zayn or Matt Hardy, no EC III debut or Lars Sullivan, no return from Creative Limbo for Bray Wyatt, no one-off appearance Undertaker to signal to us that he might be appearing at WrestleMania this year, or wacky, fun one-off appearance from a DDP or RVD or someone like that. No Batista return to follow up on the seeds laid for the supposed Hunter vs. Batista Mania match. Nothing.
Well... there was Jeff Jarrett, but he overstayed his welcome with pointless talking segment with The Drifter and was eliminated right away anyway. Ditto for Kurt, who was put in spot where he had no meaning in the match and gone less than four minutes later.
The only thing they had like that was the NXT entrants, and as for those...
I REALLY don't like these NXT entrants. As I said above, I excuse them in the women's Royal Rumble because the women's division on the main roster simply isn't big enough, but the men's side definitely is, so there is no reason for them to be in there. Furthermore, the fact that some NXT guys can get a spot in the Royal Rumble but some people on the main roster can't is a little silly, and as I said above, it becomes even sillier when total losers like Curt Hawkins and No Way Jose can get spots but former singles champions like Rhyno or even Curtis Axel can't. And, quite frankly, can't we throw guys like the Singh Brothers some sort of bone here by at least showing them the respect of putting them in the Royal Rumble and giving them individual entrances (and especially they're going to be taking bumps in the match anyway)?
The other reason that I don't like the NXT participation is that when you come down to it, all it is is a cheap pop. It never means anything in the end. Maybe an NXT guy gets an elimination and maybe they don't but no one cares who eliminates who in the Royal Rumble nowadays, and if they get eliminated relatively quickly then that makes them look bad, and if last for a half an hour they just lost in the shuffle with everyone else who lasts for half an hour. It just waters down the idea of making main roster debut.
This was bad show from WWE. It was an overbooked turd that was mind-numbing to sit through. And the fact that I'm saying that about a show that started off with matches at the level of the Cruiserweight Title match and the two women's title matches, which also featured TWO Royal Rumbles and Bryan Danielson and AJ Styles going twenty-five minutes in a world title match is a real f*cking indictment of WWE. There ABSOLUTELY NO REASON for AJ and Bryan to go twenty-five minutes when they were just going to give us a f*ck finish in the end, no reason for the women's Royal Rumble to go as long as it did, and the men's Royal Rumble definitely would have benefitted from just letting Truth be in the match, get his sh*tin and get eliminated than that awkward, awful, logic-defying few minutes where the match ground to a halt so that we could focus on Nia Jax. Both Rumbles- but especially the men's one- felt rather soulless. I have a few ideas as to why that is. You can read some of them in the column I wrote last year entitled "How to Make the Royal Rumble Truly Great Again" (available in the editorials section of the main website or in the blogs/columns/rants subforum of the message board). Others, which centering around what I believe is a major flaw in the way WWE approaches putting the Royal Rumble together, you will be able to read in a column I post sometime this week (hopefully tomorrow. And I swear I really will write a column this time).
So, to recap: Watch the women's title matches and the Cruiserweight Title match. Watch the Universal Title match and the Women's Royal Rumble if you really want to, but for everything else you should just save yourself the time. But seriously... MAKE SURE YOU WATCH THE TWO WOMEN'S TITLE MATCHES!