I’ve debated since last night on how to approach this review, mainly because I’m not one to take a dump on the WWE product and then there’s how I felt about the PPV itself. I’m going to be honest here, but if you’re looking for another person who’s going to try and set fire to the WWE and/or another upset fan who cancelled their WWE Network subscription, then you need to look elsewhere.
First off, I made the comment some time back that the Network is our power over the WWE right now, that if you want your voice heard, the don’t subscribe if you don’t want to support them; but, if your reasoning is that Daniel Bryan didn’t win the Royal Rumble, so you’re cancelling your subscription and screw the WWE…that’s not at all what I meant. If you can’t find a single thing in the product that you enjoy, then stop watching, if you can’t find joy in watching old stuff that you can find on the Network and you can’t stand the current product, then don’t subscribe and don’t watch. If the Network were around this time last year, would people have reacted the same way as they did last night? Batista won, so now my only choice is to cancel my subscription and boo the product….that I’m going to watch every week anyhow. It kills me that fans are so fickle, even if I do understand the frustration and disappointment, I don’t understand hopping off on a bandwagon so many were furiously trying to get on board of just a year ago and now think it’s smarter to just burn the thing to the ground. When it got down to two men in last years Rumble, fans were clamoring for Roman Reigns to win it all, to keep us from seeing Batista win and because we were all fans of Reigns; but Reigns wasn’t ready a year ago, not for that level, not yet and while I’m not 100% convinced he’s ready right now, I’m at least willing to give him the two months it’s going to take to get to WrestleMania, for him to prove it to all of us.
If people wanted a story, something to put their emotional stock into, something to get attached to, then look no further than Reigns’ journey to ‘Mania. While it’s not quite the underdog story of a Daniel Bryan, it’s still us witnessing an up and coming superstar reaching for the brass ring and needing to prove he’s got it, he can hold that brass ring in the palm of his hand and march into the fire without getting burned. He’s not who most of us wanted to win this year, I was almost positive he’d be the victor, but I had some hope for Dean Ambrose or Daniel Bryan or Dolph Ziggler and maybe even a last minute entrant in Seth Rollins; none of those things happened and in fact, Rollins never turned out to be an entrant…even if story line wise it would have made perfect sense.
To go along with everyone’s extreme frustration and bitterness, they pointed to Curtis Axel, who was attacked from behind during his Rumble entrance, by Erick Rowan, who wasn’t permitted to be in the Rumble at all. When Rowan was eliminated, even the announcers pointed out that it didn’t count, that Rowan was never truly in the match; the thing is, they never looked to that again after the Rumble got going. Some fans were even saying that Axel is the winner of the Rumble because Reigns left the ring by going over the top rope and Axel was technically never eliminated. While it’s irritating they didn’t follow some sense of continuity –if the announcers make a note of it and do so several times, then you need to at least address the thing at some point,– no one other than Axel and his family and friends, really cared about him being in the Rumble, he was never going to win and would have likely been a near instant elimination anyhow.
I’ll come back to the main event soon, but let me get the other matches out of the way and give the title match its just dues.
The Pre-Show match between The New Day and Cesaro/Tyson Kidd turned out to only be that, rather than the three on three elimination style match it was originally booked to be; I don’t know if maybe Xavier Woods didn’t get medically cleared at last minute (he had a problem with his leg and had it in a cast for several weeks), so they changed it last minute or what. The match itself was pretty good, with Cesaro and Tyson Kidd continuing to show off their great tag team skills and The New Day showed their great athleticism and power. I honestly expected to see New Day come out the victors, prompting Adam Rose to be blamed for the loss and sparking a story line that would lead to a double turn from these two teams; but then Rose wasn’t even in the thing and never really had much to do with it at all, even from the outside. New Day lost and just looked like normal guys who had just suffered a loss, no over the top anger, no signs of a heel turn, just dudes frustrated they lost.
The best part of the Pre-Show? Seeing Corey Graves on the panel and proving himself to be getting better and better with each appearance as a commentator. Eventually he’s going to land on Smackdown or Raw and WWE will be far better because of it.
The New Age Outlaws vs The Ascension was the first match of the actual PPV and even though this happened:
it came after a longer match than expected, one that had Ascension being shown as weak and incapable for most of it, only really coming down to a moment of clarity, when Billy Gunn was hit in the head by Konnor, while Viktor knocked the Road Dogg off the mat on the other side of the ring; which is what set up the Fall Of Man finisher and the victory for Ascension. They needed to look strong in this one and while they got the win, they didn’t look as strong as I felt they needed to. I was let down by them not having Ascension get involved in The Usos match or to come out afterwards, that was more of a pipe dream than something I genuinely thought would happen. Things are looking up for these two, let’s just hope WWE knows what to do with them for the next two months leading into their first ‘Mania.
The Miz/Mizdow faced The Usos for the tag team championship in a surprisingly good match. Who knew that if you change up your appearance a little bit, it freshens a feud or at least a match?
I really liked the mixture of Umaga throwback paint and a hint of Demolition, it made me wonder that much more when we’d be seeing these two high flying champs going up against another throwback tag team in The Ascension. Obviously The Uso’s don’t fit the mold for Demolition, but the paint is at least a reminder of that team, while Ascensions paint/shoulder pads are one as well.
As for the match, it was filled with a ton of near falls and even saw Miz and Mizdow both landing the Skull Crushing Finale on a single Uso, only to see him kick out both times. In the end, Miz got his face kicked off and was hit with a big splash to close things out, keeping The Usos as champs.
Paige/Natalya faced The Bella’s in what could have been a bit disappointing since it didn’t involve the belt, but turned out to have some fairly amazing moments:
It was a really enjoyable match, though the outcome was a touch confusing. The Bella’s winning “cleanly” was a weird move, but it was a night for heels…except the Rumble itself. This is clearly going to continue as a feud, so perhaps that’s the reasoning for the choice. They put on a great show, one that makes me want to see more of it anyhow, so keep it up.
J&J Security was backstage trying to play WWE Immortals, only to be caught by Rollins who was furious they weren’t preparing for Rollins’ biggest match of his career. The biggest reason for even bringing this up, was Rollins making the comment that he’s tired of people talking about the future, that Rollins is the here and now. Them moving away from Rollins being the future and instead, him being the present, was an interesting move; but one that does make a lot of sense. Rollins isn’t waiting around for his main event shot, he’s already doing that, he’s already competing in those matches and after being in that triple threat match last night, he’ll never be questioned for being in a main event title match…if he even still was being questioned in the first place. Rollins needed that match, he needed to compete in it more than he necessarily needed to win it; he’s already been in the main event of other PPV’s, but this one was for the title and it was with the two biggest names on the roster; if he wasn’t solidified as a main event guy before last night, he sure as hell is now.
Speaking of that match:
If you had even the slightest doubt in what Rollins could bring to the triple threat match, it was burned to ash once the three count finished. Sure, Rollins didn’t win, but as I said above, he didn’t really need to; after all, Rollins caused that match to be the best of the night and was instantly pushed to the top of the ladder as the best match of the year so far and one that will be incredibly hard to top by anyone on the main roster –I believe wholeheartedly that an NXT match could at the very least come close.–
It wasn’t so much that that match stole the show, it was that Rollins stole the show, the night and the month of January. If he keeps on that pace, I don’t care what Reigns does at ‘Mania, Rollins will deserve the Slammy for Superstar Of The Year in December.
I’m getting ahead of myself though, this was an insane match, one that blew us all away and left us wanting so much more.
The craziest thing about this match wasn’t the huge spots that happened, it was Brock Lesnar getting hit with 4 Attitude Adjustments, a curb stomp and several other jaw dropping moves…and still getting up like he hadn’t been hit with anything more than a feather duster. When John Cena lands 3 AA’s on you consecutively and you still get up mere moments later, that’s really saying something about how they want to book a guy. Lesnar is a freak of nature, a Beast Incarnate, but he’s still been pinned by an AA before, so this new version of Lesnar is just a scary monster of a man; if they’re wanting to make sure Reigns looks superhuman when he defeats Lesnar, this is definitely how you build towards that.
This was undoubtedly the best match Lesnar has had in over a year and is arguably the best since his return in 2012.
Lesnar is still champ and it’s being said that he will be at ‘Mania too, which is either them keeping kayfabe –he won at the Rumble, so who’s going to stop him before WrestleMania– or they really aren’t going to have him compete again until then. I think we see the biggest moment of two men’s careers at ‘Mania, with Reigns winning –he’s going to win, unless that man dies before then, he’s going to win;– but the bigger moment will be Rollins stealing the title away from the Samoan Superman when he’s most vulnerable: after expending every ounce of energy in defeating Lesnar. Rollins will walk away from ‘Mania as the real champ or Ambrose will keep it from happening, setting up a potential triple threat for SummerSlam between all three former members of The Shield.
Alright so…the Rumble; back to the Rumble.
We got a few surprises:
Bubba Ray! I’m sad that Devon didn’t show up too, but it was great to see at least one of them. I know it’s a one off, that he only showed up for the Rumble, but it would be great to see him and Devon come back for another run, to help the tag team division one last time.
The Boogeyman returned, looking like a beast and faced off against Bray Wyatt for a moment, which was really cool. He got eliminated by Wyatt in mere seconds, but still, cool.
Zack Ryder came back:
DDP showed up and decided to Diamond Cutter everyone in sight:
Other than those and a Titus O’Neil quick elimination, there wasn’t a whole lot to write home about. Wyatt had 6-7 eliminations, Rusev had 4-5 and then it all went downhill from there.
Wyatt eliminated Bryan early…and I mean way early, which sucked every bit of the air out of that place and left Philly in a heaping pile of brotherly rage. That place went from cheering on what was a pretty good PPV, to booing that place like they had just stolen presents from a child on Christmas. In what can only be a rib against Bryan and all of the WWE Universe, when Bryan was eliminated, Goldust entered…which sparked this capture and caused us all to weep:
Shattered Dreams indeed, thanks for that Goldie.
We got to see Ambrose and Reigns join up again to take care of business:
Rowan and Luke Harper turning the tables on Wyatt:
Unfortunately, that one didn’t go anywhere. Rowan cut Harper off so he could get to Wyatt first, Harper didn’t like that and attacked Rowan, then Wyatt basically stood back and let the two giants duke it out until he could eliminate both of them. This was an important moment in the Rumble though, as it set up the possibility that we see this feud soonish, which is something to be excited about and left most of the audience clamoring for more, which is why I think it was done in the first place.
Kofi‘s big save this year was a huge letdown as well:
When the people boo Kofi, you know there’s something wrong and he got booed the whole time he was in there.
Outside of those things, there wasn’t any other good or interesting things that happened. We saw Big Show and Kane eliminate a bunch of guys we wanted to see win it, like Ambrose, Ziggler and Wyatt. The fact those two just delicately dropped each man over the top rope, was just insult to injury. Not only did they eliminate them, but they did so like it was nothing, which only pissed us all off even more.
At the end of the night, Reigns managed to push Big Show/Kane over the top rope “winning”, the problem was, Rusev had rolled out earlier in the night and was still in the thick of things. The Crowd suddenly started chanting “We Want Rusev!” and he rolled back into the ring…only to be quickly taken out by Reigns, giving Reigns the official victory; but before that, Big Show and Kane attacked Reigns, double chokeslamming the guy who took them out, only to end up having to face down The Rock. Reigns cousin helped him fend off the big men, leaving Rock to congratulate his cousin:
Here’s the thing with that moment and you can see it on Rock’s face: he’s shocked and confused the people are booing. To The Rock, when he got in there and held up Reigns’ hand, it should have been met with unanimous cheers, at least that’s what Rock expected…that’s not wht happened though, not even The Rock could help make the people like this moment.
I’m happy for Reigns, I truly am and I’ve been a fan of his since he first came into the WWE; but I am admittedly nervous about whether or not he can make us believe that he’s ready for this. As I said at the start of this, Reigns has the opportunity to write an incredible story, to convince us that not only is he ready, but he’s going to grip that brass ring so tightly, he’ll overtake Cena as the legitimate face of the WWE in a matter of months. Reigns has a lot to look forward to, but WWE needs to start letting him be himself a lot more so now, so the WWE Universe can get behind him; unless of course they want to turn him heel, but that’s not happening. Vince and Co are more than aware that shoving a guy down our throats isn’t how a star is made, so there has to be a plan in place, right?
As for the Royal Rumble, I give it a:
+ The title match
+ The Diva’s tag match
+ Seriously, that title match
– The Rumble
– The predictability of the Rumble –when you know how a Rumble a year away is going to end and then it does, that’s bad–
That’s The Lowedown on the Royal Rumble, thanks for reading and remember to watch more wrestling!
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The future is bright and full of suplexes!
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