I tuned in to Sam Roberts trying to put over the Rumble by saying that it lets us think, for one night, that “maybe Ricochet will main event WrestleMania” even though “we know Ricochet won’t main event WrestleMania.” Way to bury Ricochet, moron.
SHEAMUS vs. CHAD GABLE - 6.25/10
Gable worked the ankle but Sheamus won with the Brogue Kick, because calling him “Shorty G” isn’t enough and WWE has to have Gable lose all of his matches, too. The crowd failed to count in unison when Sheamus did his big clubbing spot on the apron. And this is a show with two Royal Rumbles on it. This is going to be a long night, isn’t it?
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Andrade “Cien” Almas(c) (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Humberto Carrillo - 6.75/10
A fine action match, but nothing you really need to go back and watch if you missed it. Speaking of missing things, WWE decided that we needed a big sky-cam shot of their big full arena, so we missed Humberto hitting a quebrada for a nearfall (I figured out what move it was based on watching the Tron in the corner of the screen). You’ve OVER AND HOUR AND A HALF of non-match pre-show to do this in! Why would you do it in the middle of a match?!
FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE IN MINUTE MAID PARK:
Baron Corbin vs. Roman Reigns - 6.75/10
Whoa whoa whoa! I thought this was “falls count anywhere.” That’s how they billed it, so why did they change the rules?
This definitely didn’t need t go as long as it did, but at least they did their best to make sure it wasn’t just a walk and punch. The interference from the Usos, Roode, and Ziggler all helped keep things moving, Roman got his revenge on Corbin for the dog food incident by shoving him in a port-a-potty (though seeing him actually look dirty afterwards would have been nice), and beat him clean with a spear. Good. He got his revenge. Now I don’t ever want to see these two wrestle each other again, because we’ve beaten this horse so dead over the past sixteen months that it can’t even come back as a zombie.
SONYA DEVILLE CLAIMS SHE’LL ELIMINATE HERSELF IF IT COMES DOWN TO HER AND MANDY - Well… at least this wasn’t same segment we’ve seen over and over again recently with two friends saying that they’ll fight it out if it comes down to just them at the end.
2020 WOMEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE - 7/10
Looking at my notes for this match, I think I just have to say up front that it was mostly fine, with some stuff I really liked and some stuff I thought was idiotic. I think the best way for me to handle this to split this up into a bullet point section for the good stuff and a bullet point section for the bad stuff, then talk about some of the more meta-level problems I had in more traditional paragraphs.
- I’m a mark for things coming back to the first two people, so I loved the spot when at well over half way through, we wound up with #1 (Alexa Bliss!) and #2 (Bianca Belair) facing off in the ring alone again. - Bianca in particular put on what I thought was a rather memorable performance, setting the record for number of eliminations in one match, though I fear it will be overshadowed by Shayna coming in and tying the record in a much shorter span of time. The other two memorable performances here were Beth Phoenix (who wound up getting what seemed like a pretty bad cut on the back of her head, as her hair wound up looking Ric Flair’s when he would blade by the end of the match), and, of course, Shayna, running in like a wrecking ball and destroying everyone.
- I liked the little stories of teamwork (mostly with Bliss & Cross, Fire & Desire and the Divas of Doom), and did like the play off of 2018 with Beth turning on Nattie this year as revenge for Nattie doing it to her in that year.
- Liv and Lana going after each other was fine build to a match that I have no desire to see because I’m terrified of how bad it will be.
- I thought the elimination of Mandy and Sonya were fantastically well done. I just wish that first part with Otis hadn’t happened. I’ll wait until the bad section to rant about that.
- Why did Kairi bring a weapon to the ring with her, show us it could be used as a weapon… and then just throw it away?
- Naomi’s abuse of the rules spot infuriated me. I don’t like this “my feet didn’t touch the floor” technicality bullsh*t, but this one was more annoying than most because of how much f*cking time she spent on the outside, waiting/figuring out how to get back in. By the end, I was hoping that her makeshift bridge wouldn’t hold up as well as she thought it would and buckle and she’d find herself standing on the floor and accidentally eliminated in the desperate hope that this sort of f*ck up would make Creative sour on these spots and stop doing them.
- Did Kelly Kelly not get the Divas’/Women’s R/Evolution memo? Why is she running from corner to corner rubbing her ass in her opponents’ faces?
- F*CKING SANTINO MARELLA IN DRAG. Hey, everyone? Remember that thing we did eleven years ago and everyone hated and thought it was moronic and that it treated the women’s division like a joke? Well we’re bringing it back! I mean… what sort of f*cking diseased mind is given the option between giving the #29 spot in the women’s Royal Rumble to Sasha Banks or Santino in Drag, and chooses the latter?
- Okay… that first spot where Otis saved Mandy is up there with the absolute dumbest things I’ve ever seen. Am I supposed to believe that Otis figured he’d hide under the ring just in case Mandy needed help… and Mandy just happened to almost be eliminated in the exact spot Otis was hiding under, and that Otis just happened to decide to roll out to check if Mandy needed help at the exact right time (after all, the ring isn’t see-through, so how did he know Mandy was about to get eliminated?)? F*CK. OFF. Would it have really been that hard to just set up a spot where Mandy is teetering so Otis runs out to save her and manages to catch her when she actually does get knocked off?
- WHY THE F*CK DID CHARLOTTE WIN?! HOW THE F*CK DO YOU NOT GIVE THIS WIN TO SHAYNA BASZLER, especially after having Shayne come in like a bulldozer and eliminate eight people in a matter of minutes?
Okay… now onto the structural issues. They’re all kind of interconnected, as they revolve around the use of the NXT women. There were ELEVEN women from NXT in this match. Raw and Smackdown combined only had a total of fifteen (although Wikipedia is saying it’s one less because Naomi was apparently a “free agent,” though it’s also counting Beth Phoenix as NXT, which is stupid, so f*ck Wikipedia. It doesn’t even list wrestlers’ finishers because it doesn’t think they’re important, so what does Wikipedia know, anyway?).
If you can’t put a Royal Rumble on without using such a ridiculously high percentage of the talent from your developmental roster then the main roster women’s division just plain isn’t big enough to be doing a Royal Rumble. Yes, I realize that Nia Jax, Mickie James, Ruby Riott, and Ember Moon are all injured, but there was no reason for Sasha and the IIconics not to be in this match, and no reason not to do other things to try to pad the main roster numbers like call Maryse in for one night or see if you could get some other women from the past to come in so that it doesn’t feel like the majority of the match is people who really aren’t even supposed to be on the main roster.
I was also really bugged by Cole telling me that it was the “second year in a row” for some of these NXT women, as it calls attention to what feels like it is essentially a kayfabe lack of progress for these women. It also hurts the theoretical “what a cool surprise!” factor that WWE loves so much when you point out that this same woman was one of our cool cameo surprises last year. It gets to be like the Godfather showing up. We’ve seen him so many times that no one cares anymore.
CHARLOTTE FLAIR PROMO - She was a heel
BARON CORBIN PROMO - Bad. He complains about Roman using allies to help defeat him in their match. He vows to eliminate Roman from the Rumble and win it. This served no purpose.
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Bayley(c) vs. Lacey Evans - 4/10
The match started off fine but things started to fall apart towards the end. Heel Bayley won completely cleanly, as Lacey failed in front of her family, making her the Titus O’Neil of the women’s division.
Cole wrongly claimed that Bayley was in the middle of the longest reign in the history of the Smackdown Women’s Title as well as giving the wrong number of days. It appears that he forgot that Bayley lost the title to Charlotte at Hell in a Cell back in October and won it back on Smackdown later in the week. On its own this would be very bad, but it becomes unforgivable when you realize that Cole himself called both matches.
STRAP MATCH FOR THE WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE:
“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt(c) vs. Daniel Bryan - 7.25/10
Everyone assumed this would be a “touch the corners” match but it actually one with pinfalls and submissions. Okay… well why can’t Bray just disappear out of the strap? He can’t get DQed for doing so, and even if he could, he’d still retain the title.
Anyway, they had a great match. It turns out that when you take away the dumb sh*t, The Fiend is pretty tolerable.
WWE RAW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Becky Lynch(c) vs. Asuka - 7.5/10
Great, but not as epic as the build promised. Yes, Becky overcame Asuka and felt like she was in jeopardy most of the match, but the match didn’t come anywhere close to living up to the match it was billed as a sequel of.
THE STREET PROFITS WASTE TIME - Waste of time
2020 MEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE - 8.25/10
Was anyone else hoping that Erick Rowan was going to let his vicious monster pet out of its case and set the pet to attack Brock? Because I sure was. On a serious note, though…
Turning the “who will be the one to eliminate Brock” story in a one-on-one thing with each guy and then occasionally mixing things up by adding in another guy or two was a stroke of genius, as it made it impossible for it to let lost in the chaos because there was none. This also, of course, meant that it was the only story going on, and thus felt continuous because it really was continuous (as opposed to a little story like two people working together that gets interrupted to tell other stories with other people). They had the right set of guys at the right times to make Brock look impressive by eliminating them and also to ramp up the tension and make us think that Brock actually could be eliminated.
The ONLY misstep is one that had me absolutely furious because it’s something they should have known not to do. That, of course, was having Ricochet kick Brock in the balls (and from behind, no less) to set up Drew eliminating Brock. Did they not learn their lesson from the Seth Rollins debacle?
From that point on the match was good, but it was nowhere near as good as it had been before. Edge got a monstrous pop for his return and looked good in the ring, although the gray in his beard made him come across as rather old. Compare to MVP, who is almost exactly the same age Edge (MVP is two days older), but actually looked a lot younger (despite having looked a lot older during his TNA run). I’m happy to see him back, but I’m not really sure who I’d book him against or what I’d want to see him do.
I thought the use of Matt Riddle here was TERRIBLE. He came in, didn’t eliminate anyone, did some kicks, and got thrown out. How is that supposed to get anyone excited to see Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic final which they spent time plugging while Riddle was in the ring? It really felt like they only put Riddle in the match because they wanted to plug this week’s NXT and felt they had to put him in the Rumble to have an excuse to talk about it.
The stuff with Seth’s crew helping him eliminate Owens and Joe and then Owens and Joe brawling away with them was a perfectly fine way to keep that feud going, although I really wish they hadn’t repeated the “my friend caught me so I haven’t touched the ground and thus am not eliminated” spot. In all honesty, I’d rather they not do that spot at all.
Something else they need to not do, which was a problem in both this match and the women’s match, is work the times between entrants. Leaving aside general principles like “why lie when you can tell the truth?” or “why tell a lie that can easily be exposed?” (which I do think are important things for a booker to keep in mind in a business that inherently relies on falsehoods- even if the customers all know it’s a work- like pro wrestling), it’s just going to create problems for you when you want to impress me with how long someone has lasted. Several times during both Rumbles, the announcers would give us times that were actually impossible based on the number of entrants in the ring. Since I don’t think Cole was just making the times up (and if he was, they should have ordered him to stop after the first one), I see two possibilities for what went wrong. Either:
1) Cole was giving out shoot times… which is idiotic because it exposes the lie of the entrance times. Or…
2) Cole was giving worked times that were supposed to be plausible, but whoever was doing the math (I don’t know if it was Cole or someone backstage feeding him the numbers) FORGOT THAT THERE IS NO 90-SECOND COUNT-DOWN BEFORE NUMBERS ONE AND TWO, so the formula for where the time should be after a particular entry number is not 1.5xN, but rather 1.5xN-3.
I don’t know which problem they had, but both are embarrassing, and the best way to make sure this problem never happens again is to just use shoot 90-second intervals.
This was a meh show from WWE. There were more misses than hits, but the hits were still solid hits and the main event was awesome. Also, shockingly, this show didn’t feel like it took forever to watch, which I was terrified that it would, between the two-hour pre-show and the two Rumble matches. Now that the “Road to WreslteMania has begun” (hopefully none of you were playing a game where you take a drink each time that phrase was said, because if you were, you’d have killed most of your brain cells), I will be returning to watching Raw and SD every week. I hope it’s worth the time.