WWE held their annual Royal Rumble event last Sunday night, at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a fun night that seemed to satisfy the appetite of fans, especially those in attendance, thanks to a heart-stopping Royal Rumble Burger.
Would you eat it? I wouldn’t. Especially if I have to sit there for six hours.
It rarely happens, but I enjoy when wrestling occurs inside baseball stadiums. It’s a throwback to the early aughts when WrestleMania X-Seven was held at the Astrodome in Houston; WrestleMania X8 at SkyDome in Toronto, and WrestleMania XIX at Safeco Field in Seattle.
It’s just a cozier-looking environment than a football stadium. Also, I’m a fan of when the really long aisle has a bend in it. The superstars entered through the dugout on Sunday, which gave it a Tokyo Dome-Wrestle Kingdom feel.
The Royal Rumble is the start of a two-month road to WrestleMania and is headlined by two Royal Rumble matches – one for the men, and one for the women.
To the uninitiated, a Royal Rumble match consists of 30 participants. The match starts with 2 superstars in the ring and every 90 seconds, a new competitor joins the fray. You’re eliminated when you go over the top rope and both feet touch the ground.
The last superstar standing gets to challenge for the championship of their choosing at WrestleMania, thus securing themselves a main event spot at the biggest show of the year.
Let’s start with the women’s match because I find their storylines more interesting at this point.
Drawing #1 was Lacey Evans, who was making her in-ring debut on the main roster. Out second was Natalya – member of the Hart wrestling family dynasty. That made sense to me.
Lacey wasn’t as smooth as she could’ve been because making your debut in front of 48,000 people is probably terrifying, but having a veteran like Natalya in there helped.
This was only the second year the women have had their own royal rumble match. Last year was mainly devoted to bringing back women from the past to share in the historic moment.
I’m glad none of them came back this year, though. Yeah, it’s always nice to see them, but they weren’t needed. Instead, we got a glimpse of the future with multiple call-ups from NXT (the developmental brand).
I was impressed by Rhea Ripley, who is somehow only 22-years-old. Whenever they decide to bring her over from NXT UK, she’s going to cause quite a commotion.
Also impressive was Kacy Catanzaro, who you may or may not know as a competitor from American Ninja Warrior. She did a handstand on the top rope, and then switched the way she was facing, which was a move I’ve only ever seen done at the Olympics on the parallel/uneven bars.
And then she found herself on the floor, but her feet hadn’t touched the ground, so she ninja’d her way back in the ring.
I’m a fan. She probably has a lengthy run in NXT ahead of her before moving up to the main roster, but either way, the future is bright.
Another fun part of the rumble was when Zelina Vega was hiding under the ring, until Hornswoggle – a leprechaun who lives under the ring, but was released by WWE a few years ago – appeared and chased her away.
That clip just gave some of you nightmares, I can sense it.
Before I get to the end of the match, let me tell you about “The Man”, Becky Lynch.
Becky Lynch is the best thing in professional wrestling right now. She’s turning into the Stone Cold Steve Austin of this generation, which is perfectly fine with everybody.
The first match of the night saw Becky face Asuka for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Becky lost, which meant she’d probably find her way into the rumble later on, but we didn’t know how.
Fast forward to the royal rumble match. Lana comes out at #28, but can’t put any weight on her left foot, which was injured on the pre-show when she got involved in her husband’s match.
So while Lana is crumpling in the arms of the medical staff, out comes Becky Lynch to take her spot in the rumble. And the place went nuts.
In the end, the match came down to Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, as any wrestling fan could’ve predicted. Becky tossed Charlotte out, winning the match and sending herself to WrestleMania to face Ronda Rousey.
The Becky and Ronda rivalry has been brewing since last November, when they were supposed to face each other at Survivor Series. However, Nia Jax broke Becky’s face (quite literally) ahead of the event, and Charlotte faced Ronda instead – a match everyone thought would take place at WrestleMania.
But Becky Lynch has catapulted herself to the top of the WWE and the match everyone wants to see now is her against Ronda Rousey, which should/will be the first time the main event of WrestleMania has been a women’s match.
There are conflicting internet rumours that say Charlotte will eventually be added to the match. I hope that doesn’t happen because she’s not needed.
A year ago, Ric Flair’s daughter vs. Ronda Rousey would’ve been the biggest thing. Now, it’s not.
I’d much rather see Charlotte face Asuka, because if she doesn’t, I have no clue who’s worthy of facing Asuka. Maybe Kairi Sane from NXT? But then that throws a wrench in my plans for a Japanese faction consisting of: Asuka, Kairi Sane, and Io Shirai. #FantasyBooking
Also, with the WWE introducing Women’s Tag Team Championships at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in a few weeks, it’s possible that Bayley and Sasha Banks could win those.
And then at the end of WrestleMania, we could potentially have Becky, Charlotte, Bayley, and Sasha in the ring holding up their championships, while flashing the Four Horsewomen sign – a distinction they gave themselves will in NXT many years ago.
That’s important, because Ronda Rousey also claims to be apart of a Four Horsewomen faction with three of her MMA pals, who are all still in NXT.
It’s slowly starting to be teased, with Sasha holding up the four fingers in front of Ronda after their match at the Royal Rumble. Becky and Bayley subtly held them up too, the next night on RAW.
Somewhere down the line, the Four Horsewomen of WWE will face the Four Horsewomen of MMA. I just don’t know how soon.
All in all, the women’s royal rumble accomplished what it was supposed to. There was maybe too much sitting in corners and not enough attempts at throwing opponents over the top rope, but that’s also a complaint I have for the men’s rumble.
On to the men’s royal rumble match. I’ll do this one in bullet points, until the end.
- Jeff Jarrett showing up did nothing for me, since he wasn’t around when I started watching wrestling.
- The New Day needs to do something more serious than their current schtick.
- Samoa Joe deserves a championship.
- No Way Jose lasting two seconds in the match was exactly how long he should’ve been in it.
- Pete Dunne is fantastic.
- Andrade is a star.
- It was good to see Johnny Gargano get called up from NXT for the rumble. His wife, Candace LeRae, also debuted in the women’s match. That must’ve been fun for them.
Bobby Lashley came out at #26 and lasted 12 seconds. His elimination looked sketchy to me. I’m not sure if he messed up, but either way, he was gone.
But not so fast because this is wrestling and the heels have to get their heat back. I’ll explain what that means at another time.
So he grabs fan-favourite and Jesus lookalike, Seth Rollins, pulls him out of the ring (but not over the top rope) and sends him through an announce table at ringside.
I’m tired of spots like this in matches. We all know that whoever goes through the table will stay out there for 10-15 minutes, be “forgotten” about by the commentators who are standing five feet away, and then make a miraculous comeback at the end of the match.
Spoiler: Seth Rollins ended up winning the match, which I’m happy with, but I would’ve preferred he stayed in the ring the entire time.
But the best moment of the men’s rumble match was when R-Truth came out at #30 and was attacked from behind by a woman – Nia Jax.
Nia then entered the match and eliminated Mustafa Ali, before receiving a super kick from Dolph Ziggler, a 619 from Rey Mysterio, and an RKO from Randy Orton.
Basically, she received the signature move from three of the company’s top performers.
This was the first time in about a decade that men had delivered offensive maneuvers on a woman in the WWE. Now, by no means do I condone men hitting women, and neither do the WWE.
However, this is professional wrestling. It’s a performance art. It’s a different world than the one we live in and has come a long way since 20 years ago. I know many of you won’t understand and say this is terrible, but it’s not.
Nia Jax, who is hated by fans, came out looking like a million bucks after that display. And if this slowly opens the door for the return of inter-gender matches, I’m all for it.
I mentioned Candice LeRae earlier – she made a career on the independent wrestling scene, fighting men. When she was signed by the WWE last year, she mentioned inter-gender wrestling as something she hoped would be featured again.
She might get her wish.
So, Seth Rollins is going on to WrestleMania to face Brock Lesnar. I’m tired of Lesnar and hope he goes away. He disappears with the championship for months, leaving the television show in ruins.
I’m done with that nonsense. It’s been going on for too long.
As for the other matches on the card, here are my quick thoughts on them:
- I love that Daniel Bryan is considered a heel for telling the fans they eat too much bad food and that we’re all killing the planet by being wasteful. It’s the best.
- Shane McMahon is doing shooting star presses off the top rope at the age of 49. What?
I have so much more I could say, including stuff about the new wrestling promotion, All Elite Wrestling, but I’ll save that for another post.
I know 99.8% of my readers have no interest in professional wrestling, so if you’ve made it this far, thank you!
Hopefully you found this to be somewhat entertaining, if not educational. I’ve never put so much effort into a post.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about anything I just wrote, or didn’t write, whether you’re a wrestling fan or not. Please share your perspective!