WWE Royal Rumble 2017
Watch: WWE Network
Alamo Dome – San Antonio, Texas
We’re trying something new here. Five staffers have contributed match reviews to tonight’s overall review. You’ll get to see different perspectives on what everyone was most interested in (and/or) their brand they review’s representation on the show.
Naomi, Nikki Bella & Becky Lynch def. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James & Natalya
It’s interesting to see all of these stories unfold that SmackDown have managed to build for the women, the staredown between Becky Lynch and Mickie James only got me more hype for their eventual singles match. Their interactions were great. Natalya mocking John Cena in the face of Nikki Bella really did absolutely nothing for me, nor did their attempt at a suplex in stereo, especially since Natalya had to practically scream for Alexa to come back into the ring for it, but Nikki taking down Nattie towards the end of the match was a great small piece of retribution. Whilst Naomi being added as a potential new feud for Alexa is fresh and will no doubt add a new dynamic to the division. Alexa’s past matches with Becky haven’t been great, but they worked well together here. Isolating Becky was pretty much the perfect strategy for tagging in the fresh Naomi who got a decent crowd reaction and the win for her team. Didn’t really expect this finish but I liked it, they’re continuing to build up this division and each of their women in their own separate way. I really hope that once we roll around to Elimination Chamber we see these six women in a chamber match for the title as this formula seems to work. Decent match.
WWE Raw Tag Team Championship: The Club (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) def. Cesaro & Sheamus (c)
Unfortunately this match just felt like a pretty decent Raw match. Since this feud has begun I’ve wanted to see the two teams have a really good match, but we didn’t get that here. The match was pretty short and it even had one of the network commercials thrown right into the middle of it. The two referee angle didn’t play a huge role in the match either. Sheamus took at the first referee with a Brogue Kick on accident, the second referee slid in to finish out the match and that was the entirety of the angle. After that, Cesaro clotheslined Gallows over the top rope and then Anderson used a schoolboy on Cesaro the victory. I was really happy to The Club get the titles here as a fan of them. Booking wise, they really shouldn’t have gone any other way. Despite all my gripes, the San Antonio crowd actually seemed to be quite into this one which isn’t something you get on most of their Raw matches; so the quality of the match was heightened just a bit. Overall, for a match on the pre-show this pretty good, but it’s a bit disappointing for those that really want to see something more from these teams.
Nia Jax def. Sasha Banks
Out of the three women’s matches from tonight, this is the one I was least looking forward to due to my knowledge on Nia’s matches so far. But, this kind of worked for me. Sasha being the underdog wouldn’t work with anyone else but Nia. It’s an interesting and different position for her to be in, as in all of her other matches, she actually has a chance to win whereas here, Nia is the clear favourite not just due to her power and size advantage, but also due to Sasha’s “injury”. These two worked better together than I expected and actually put on a match I found very easy to get into. A pop-up Samoan Drop that looked absolutely brutal gets Nia the win. It’s refreshing to see Sasha take a loss, but this was also a match Nia really needed to win to establish herself as a real threat, instead of just facing local talent. This surprised me, and only adds to the fall of Sasha which will no doubt lead to her eventual heel turn. Hopefully that is.
WWE Raw Women's Championship: Charlotte (c) def. Bayley
Probably the match I’m most looking forward to from the women tonight. Bayley received an amazing pop here, imagine this at WrestleMania. Flames. I haven’t really enjoyed the build being centered around Bayley being a lifelong fan, but we finally have something fresh so I can’t complain too much. This is nothing like the scrappy matches of Flair and Banks as the two have a lot better chemistry together. It’s also the first time since she joined the main roster that Bayley has had the opportunity to show off why she was one of the most popular stars of NXT. Charlotte’s in-ring improvements were definitely on display also, as she took over a portion of the match and kept Bayley grounded, with her athleticism is very impressive. The flow of the match was pretty much perfect, there wasn’t a single moment where I felt bored or that the pace was slow. The close two-counts, especially the one after an elbow from the top rope from Bayley had my heart in my mouth, truly thought Bayley had the title won, brilliantly done even if it did bust Charlotte’s mouth open. A Natural Selection from Charlotte onto the apron put an end to Bayley. This may be my favorite Charlotte match thus far, and that says a lot because she’s been in quite a few. These two killed it. I can’t wait to see their rematch at WrestleMania, if of course that’s the way things go. Editor’s note: *cough, cough* Fatal Four Way.
WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (c) (w/Chris Jericho in shark cage) def. Roman Reigns
This was a great match. Overall, this was an incredibly physical match that I’ve been waiting to see between these two. With how stale this feud has been and how much they’ve fought on Raw I thought it’d be hard for Roman and Kevin to put on a good match. The no disqualification stipulation did the match well however and it was a smart move for this one. Jericho being suspended above the ring in shark cage was also played with well in the match, at one point Jericho dropping in brass knuckles for Kevin Owens. Owens set up a monument of sorts built of steel chairs on the outsides that was higher than the ring apron. Later in the match Kevin Owens took a Superman match from the top rope and went back first into the stack of chairs which looked absolutely deadly. I was cringing so hard when this happened since Owens went back first into the tops of multiple chairs and it just looked so painful. Also in the match Owens did a frog splash to the outside on Reigns through a table. This was a great spot, seeing a big guy like Owens do such a high risk move and the crowd popped huge for it. When it looked like Reigns had it won after he powerbombed Owens through an announcer’s table, Braun Strowman came in from out of nowhere and took out Reigns. Braun chokeslammed Reigns onto an announcer’s table and then did the running powerslam through a table in the corner allowing Owens to get an arm over Reigns for the win. Overall, this was an intense and physical match which is exactly what match between these two guys should be and it exceeded all my expectations.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Neville def. Rich Swann (c)
We had a solid build up to this match. Heel Neville attacking the super nice guy Rich Swann, trying to break out some aggression in him. Plus, this goes back to their days in Japan where Swann was Neville’s young-boy. A friendship turned sour and it all broke down in front of our eyes. The match itself was decent. It started off at a slower pace than I excepted and for the first half of the match it was pretty okay and nothing more. The crowd wasn’t into it until the second half when they really started turning it up and pulling out some high-flying maneuvers. Rich Swann was on a role and a few times it seemed like he almost had the win. Especially when he hit a beautiful, perfectly placed Rich Kick. But, Neville got his foot on the rope. Swann went to the top, but Neville met him up there and hit Swann with a suplex after trying several times before. Neville locked in the butterfly cross face submission which made Rich Swann tap. Neville is now the new Cruiserweight Champion. I know lots of people are down on the Cruiserweights but with two guys like Swann and Neville, I was excited. Yet, I feel a bit let down. Oh well, at least Neville can now rightfully call himself the King of the Cruiserweights.
WWE Championship: John Cena def. AJ Styles (c)
A video package plays showing the history between John Cena and AJ Styles since his debut at last year’s Royal Rumble to this last week’s SmackDown Live. The crowd is on fire for this match, the atmosphere is up there with any great title match of recent WWE history. Both wrestlers circle each other, Cena is the first to attack, taking AJ through the ropes and Irish-whipping AJ into the corner. AJ is able to get back on his feet and taunts him before getting some offense in, smashing his leg into Cena’s head. Cena jumps up from the mat and back body drops AJ from a great height. After blocking a punch Cena shoulder blocks Styles and tries an AA but AJ hurricanranas out of the fireman’s carry and brings Cena back to the ground. Cena lands a monstrous lariat on AJ followed by a Five-Knuckle Shuffle. He brings AJ to the top rope and tries a superplex but Styles slips under, puts Cena in a torture rack and jackknifes him to a two count. Through the early stages of the match, Styles is quicker to get up from the mat than Cena. AJ attempts a Phenomenal Forearm but Cena ducks and AA’s Styles for a two count. Waiting for AJ raise again, he throws another big lariat, he waits again for another lariat but AJ ducks and hits Cena with a pele kick. Phenomenal Forearm with great air. Styles rolls over to the throws, tossing Cena’s hand off him in the progress, and starts kicking a downed Cena. Cena hits AJ with a facebuster to buy himself some time to rest before picking AJ up and the two go back and forth, throwing punches. Calf Crusher reversed into a STF, AJ gets Cena in a facelock that gets lifted into an AA, a couple reverses later Cena applies a figure four leglock, that’s transitioned into a cross armbreaker that Cena escapes by lifting Styles with one arm and dropping him. On the top rope, Cena jumps but gets powerbombed and kicks out of a Styles Clash. Knees up, Cena hits a yoshi-tonic or a two count and AJ uses an ushigoroshi for a two count. We’re reaching the moment where both wrestlers are starting to reach the point of desperation and are using everything they know to defeat their opponent, a top rope AA doesn’t even defeat AJ and the shock is visible no Cena’s face. Another Styles Clash gives Styles enough time to go outside to try another Phenomenal Forearm but Cena catches him and gives Styles two AA’s back to back to win his record sixteenth World Championship.
Randy Orton def. 29 others in the Royal Rumble
List of entrants from #1-30, and who they were eliminated by in brackets:
Big Cass (Roman Reigns), Chris Jericho (Roman Reigns), Kalisto (Braun Strowman), Mojo Rawley (Braun Strowman), Jack Gallagher (Mark Henry), Mark Henry (Braun Strowman), Braun Strowman (Baron Corbin), Sami Zayn (The Undertaker), Big Show (Braun Strowman), Tye Dillinger (Braun Strowman), James Ellsworth (Braun Strowman), Dean Ambrose (Brock Lesnar), Baron Corbin (The Undertaker), Kofi Kingston (Cesaro & Sheamus), The Miz (The Undertaker), Sheamus (Chris Jericho), Big E (Cesaro & Sheamus), Rusev (The Undertaker), Cesaro (Chris Jericho), Xavier Woods (Cesaro & Sheamus), Bray Wyatt (Roman Reigns), Apollo Crews (Xavier Woods), Randy Orton (winner), Dolph Ziggler (Brock Lesnar), Luke Harper (Goldberg), Brock Lesnar (Goldberg), Enzo Amore (Brock Lesnar), Goldberg (The Undertaker), The Undertaker (Roman Reigns), Roman Reigns (Randy Orton)
The way I like to review Royal Rumbles is by dissecting what each person did in the match. As you can see above, there’s the order of entry plus who they were eliminated by. After an incredible night of matches, it was time for the one everyone was waiting for. The most unpredictable Rumble match of all time. Big Cass was out first so that Enzo Amore could cut the full-length hype promo for his man. There’s no way around that. They wouldn’t have been able to do so in other slot. Jericho being out second was a surprise, but an accepted one. The two would tussle as it wouldn’t take long for more entrants to come out. The “two minute” rule felt shortened at times. It isn’t always 100% accurate. Kalisto was an accepted midcard act to have in the match, to do a few neat showcase moves, and to put over Big Cass as a monster in his own right, when there’s guys that tower over him with star-power in the same match. Mojo Rawley is a HYPE definition of sports entertainment. He’s bombastic, debated, and oh so weird. He’s a good fit for the Rumble, who got a little rub from being in the match. Jack Gallagher was one of the highlights of the match. When you “Remember the Rumble”, you’ll most likely remember him as being one of the best parts of the match. It was a “could happen” scenario come true, as the best possible pick out of the Cruiserweights for the match. He brought out his umbrella, being the centerpiece of attention, implementing comedy, hitting Jericho in the nuts with it, only to open it in front of him; covering his crotch. Gallagher came crashing down Mary Poppins style in the best elimination of the match. Mark Henry was a perfect fit for the nostalgia/current part timer pop that’d go well no matter what. He threw up the horns, embracing his hometown reception. He was used to put over Strowman, one of two monsters utilized in that fashion. Another highlight of the match. Braun Strowman was the star of the match. The entire Rumble was built around him, with The Monster Among Men holding the ring hostage. He had the most eliminations in the match with seven. He got a rub off Mark Henry and Big Show. It went perfect. Speaking of perfect, the perfectly sensical entrant next to Strowman was Sami Zayn. Zayn played an iron man who didn’t win. He took the brunt of every possible signature/finisher in the match. He not only took the most damage but stayed in longer than almost anyone. This was a big win for Zayn, as he got over more in losing than he would have being last eliminated (for example). Big Show, who’s in the midst of preparing for Shaq at WrestleMania, was used to put over Strowman. It took a stare down and some extra effort, but the old wave Giant was no match for the current crop star. Another thing done amazingly well. I was worried #10 wouldn’t have been Tye Dillinger knowing WWE’s track record of screwing things up, but it was a spot molded for only Tye. Tye ran wild, teaming with Zayn, attempting to take out Strowman, hanging around for a bit. Beyond the original pop/entrance/running wild with Zayn, there’s nothing else to his appearance. It’s more of a question as to what he does from here. James Ellsworth was used as the main comedy attraction this year, holding out on being in the ring with Strowman until ex-best friend Dean Ambrose showed up as the next entrant. In a classic “1-2-go, just kidding, you’re still running” situation, Ellsworth was fed to Strowman and thrown back over. Carmella had Ellsworth’s face plastered all over her leggings in a bold fashion statement, representing her man. Speaking of Ambrose, he was a good workhorse fit for the match. Everyone knew he didn’t have the slightest chance of winning, but he was the seasoning on top of everything. He fit in where he was needed, and was a good babyface foil for everything else happening. In what had to be a rib, Brock Lesnar violence ensued on him and provided an elimination. Baron Corbin was turned into a made man when he picked up the scraps of a team elimination in progress, taking Strowman out of the match. Corbin could have done nothing else, as he’d be remembered for being the anti-hero of the Rumble. People can dislike him for picking up scraps, but everyone is thankful he managed to take out the man that would have easily won the match, for not the elimination. I’m lumping The New Day together instead of going in sequential order. Kofi Kingston provided us with his yearly Rumble spot, clinging on to the ringpost like an owl, and being hit off, only to cling onto it after smashing onto it. It took a lot of balls to execute, probably hurt like hell, but was underwhelming in comparison to past Kofi spots. It also felt fairly rushed even though Kofi was sitting perched for a while. While Big E is always fun, you always wish for something more for him in every situation he’s in, especially in the big time, where he’d thrive. He was the captain of the crew, doing some powerhouse things, but wasn’t an essential part of the match. You could say the same about the underrated in-ring Xavier Woods, who hit his pop up clothesline and elbow drop, but that’s all. Letdown = The Miz. But not in the way some of you fools think. Letdown in terms of the way the match went for him. He could have plausibly won it all, but unfortunately was used as a lacky on the heel side for babyfaces to hit offense on. Miz got zero eliminations, eventually being chucked over the ropes by The Deadman. There’s always The Chamber, ‘Mania, and beyond for a WWE MVP. I’m also lumping Cesaro and Sheamus together. Cesaro was an awesome entrant for a sprint, coming in, hitting multiple Cesaro swings, then being dizzy enough to pick up Sheamus by accident. “You can’t swing me, I’m your partner” made for an awesome moment. The two teamed up, temporarily, thankfully, to the point where they eliminated all of New Day at once. Sheamus tried to chuck Cesaro over in a betrayal, but they ended up thrown out because of such. Really great touch. Sheamus was overshadowed by Cesaro, but looked good in what he was doing. He’s slowly morphing back into 2012 Sheamus, who so happened to be best wrestler in the world. Or at least I hope. Yet another casualty to the part-timer spotlight and handful of monsters being put at the forefront of the match was Rusev. He went from hugging Vince McMahon the year prior to having NO eliminations and getting no rub whatsoever. He was a forgetful part of the match, having contributed/being given hardly anything. It’s unfortunate, but not all 30 men can be put at the forefront. He also entered late where Lesnar, Goldberg, Taker, Orton, Reigns, etc were to come. Funny enough the no elimination train keeps on rolling. Bray Wyatt got zero eliminations, yet he got to the final three of the match. He was instrumental in the Wyatt Family storyline continuing within the match, but wasn’t significant to the match as a whole aside that. Once again, another talent overshadowed by everything else. Bray was lurking though. Much like Kalisto, Apollo Crews was a nice midcard face addition to the match. Unfortunately we didn’t get a lot of interaction with Dolph Ziggler (coming soon), but Apollo was good for a moonsault or two, and eventually being thrown out. It wasn’t a waste of a spot at all. Randy Orton would be the winner of the entire Royal Rumble, a week of odds on favorite due to the nature of the beast within the company constantly changing. The odds wheel landed on him. He was very good in his role, hitting an RKO on Harper to save Wyatt, who would eventually be compromised unintentionally so that Orton could get the rub. The Wyatt Family storyline continues through the Rumble, with more thoughts on Orton to come when we get to the end of the match. The booking of Dolph Ziggler’s time in the Rumble was one of the better booked slots. He threw a superkick party, took some bumps, and was chucked out by Brock. It was great for his character to blow off steam only to lose in the process. It’ll be fun to see his first post-Rumble promo and actions to proceed. It is unfortunate nobody got a rub from eliminating him a la Rawley, Crews, Kalisto; rather thrown into the Brock fire. I feel like a broken record saying this, although this time it’s a little bit of a readjusted opinion. Luke Harper is continued to be utilized as the middle man in the Wyatt triangle, being RKO’d by Orton as he picked Bray over him. Harper was ousted by Goldberg in a neat visual. Brock Lesnar was embarassed once again by Goldberg. In a repeat of Survivor Series, Lesnar was speared after a staredown, instead pinned abruptly, he was thrown over the ropes with no extra effort needed. It’s an awkward extension of a build for their WrestleMania match (likely for the Universal Title via Goldberg obtaining it at Fastlane), as Goldberg has now laid waste to Lesnar twice in extremely quick fashion. It’s going to be weird to see motivation to face Lesnar again in the main event of WrestleMania. Lesnar was awesome cleaning the entire full house of the Rumble of about eight people at once. Suplex City, F5 for Zayn, embarrassment via Goldberg. Not a bad paycheck. Enzo Amore was the worst booking choice on the show. He wasted a slot for “comedy” purposes aka being fed to Brock. It could have been used more effectively on Slater who’s had interactions with Brock before, or better, a legend return to place emphasis on the danger of the situation, plus the elimination. I’m going to now talk about the end of the match and the last few standing. Goldberg as aforementioned, dominated Lesnar, throwing him out easily. This led to him being the most dominant force in the match, that was, until Undertaker showed up the next entrant over. It was already expected, and Taker looked miserably bad. Way past his prime, he looked way off, and the elimination of Goldberg via his “strength!” didn’t make for a nice visual. It was an okay, shock elimination to get Goldberg out of the match, but it could have been done so much better, with the rub going to someone else. The staredown was wicked, though. At first, Roman Reigns coming out at #30 was laughable. It then turned into a brilliant turn of events. He took the heat for coming out at the number he did, eliminating The Undertaker (sparking a WrestleMania match instantly), and then transferring a better reaction to Orton winning the Rumble, because he was the one to be eliminated match. The last stretch of the match was beautifully booked. It was all about part-time stars, which I won’t complain about. The only thing that sucks is that guys like Rusev, Harper, Miz, etc were all used as fodder, not main subjects within the match. Although, with all of this considered, it was still a well thought out, booked, executed, and fun Rumble match. Arguably the best one in the last few years. The worst thing? No surprise legend entrants. I’m excited as we continue on the Road to WrestleMania. Remember that this was just Day 1. We have to let stories play out more before we jump to conclusions. I’ll (for the most part) Remember the Rumble.
WWE ROYAL RUMBLE (JANUARY 29, 2017)
Excellent - 8.5/10
I'd say (Trask speaking), that the staff's opinion of the show balances out to the Royal Rumble being an excellent show. Everything is worth a watch sans the six woman's tag that's skippable. The two brand title matches are out of this world incredible, and the Royal Rumble, while not living up to its full potential, was still a fun hour watch that managed to intertwine tons of current storylines, while beginning a big push for WrestleMania 33. We're only two months away from The Grandest Stage of Them All, and Royal Rumble set the tone in tremendous fashion. Let's all recognize our 16 time champ.