A month’s long build-up to this year’s Royal Rumble got us all excited for the many possibilities that could happen. All the focus was on the Raw superstars, but in the end, it was the SmackDown team that made the mile-long journey down the ramp and came out on top. As Elliot makes his very hungover journey back to Liverpool from my house in Birmingham I’m taking this review off his hands as the SmackDown representative. I’ll even go the extra mile for him and attempt to copy his format. It will be much easier and less of a chore if I give you the straight up facts – just like WWE were keen on doing last night. Despite having a sore head I will do my best to “remember the rumble”.
As was expected the undercard of the Royal Rumble wasn’t all that great. The pre-show, however, did throw up one shock result when Anderson & Gallows became the new Raw tag team Champions by defeating the team of Sheamus & Cesaro. Not even two referees could stop them from finally winning the gold.
Other matches on the pre-show saw a six-woman tag match where Naomi restarted her push by pinning the SmackDown Women’s Champion, Alexa Bliss, for the victory. Nia Jax breezed past Sasha Banks in a match which served only as a reminder to us all that Jax really isn’t like most girls. She used to be a plus size model, you know! Banks, despite her best efforts, couldn’t get over the dominant size of Jax and eventually succumbed to a (kayfabe) knee injury not too dissimilar to that of Nakamura at Takeover the night before that ultimately handed the heel opponent the match.
A match to forget on the never-ending Charlotte Flair pay-per-view tour had Bayley suffer defeat on her first attempt at the Raw Women’s Championship. A fairly botched match from start to finish hasn’t done the “Hugger” any favours going forward as she will struggle to hit the heights that Sasha Banks has already reached.
The stupid shark cage stipulation match was also another one to forget. Jericho was locked away above the ring as Owens once again was made to look weak. Braun Strowman appeared outta nowhere to attack Roman Reigns and allow Owens the victory. His character has become cowardly a year on since his brutal run as the Intercontinental Champion and continues to get further away from the “Prizefighter” he is supposed to be. All I can hope is that keeping the title on him could set up the Jericho v Owens feud they have been teasing for the best part of five months.
For all he has done in the WWE, countless charities, and many wishes granted to ill children, Jonathan Cena Jr thoroughly deserves his record-setting thirteenth reign and record-tying sixteenth world championship reign. Albeit coming at the wrong time. Many feel his win over AJ Styles has served the purpose in reminding the WWE Universe that Cena is their top guy and Styles will still have to wait in line if he is to become the “face that runs the place”. A good match which had everyone wanting to see Cena win by some form of heel turn, but in the end, it was the simple consecutive use of the Attitude Adjustment that was enough to bury AJ. With this now tying Ric Flair’s record what lies ahead for Cena? When Triple H comes along to also tie the record I’m sure he won’t be the heel in that feud.
Much to my disappointment, there was a lack of surprise entrants in this year’s rumble with no Hall of Famers making a shock appearance. However, when I took the time to think about it, that only helped the Rumble to showcase the talents of the brilliant roster they currently have. This year’s event was full of intelligent spots that have done a lot to further the current storylines and help develop new ones going forward. That’s what the Rumble should be used for rather than the rola cola (cheap pop) machine people have come to expect.
– Jericho was the “Ironman” lasting just over an hour but only managing two eliminations.
– Tye Dillinger was the only NXT debutant. Yes, he came in at number 10!
– Strowman got the most eliminations which I cleverly pointed out beforehand would possibly be the average number of seven. He dispatched Big Cass, Kalisto, Mojo Rawley, Mark Henry, Big Show, Dillinger, and Ellsworth all in the space of 13 minutes before eventually being thrown out by Baron Corbin.
– Dean Ambrose fooled Ellsworth into getting in the ring with Strowman which was actually pretty funny for once.
– Some of the “larger” guys were transported to the ring by a golf cart because the walk down the ramp was so long.
– Jack Gallagher was the only Cruiserweight in the match and came to the ring with an umbrella. I think I could hear Marty Scurll raging from afar.
– Kofi Kingston once again avoided elimination by shenanigans. This time he clung on for dear life off the ring post after he was knocked back. He was ultimately eliminated by Cesaro.
– Kane didn’t feature at all
– Goldberg once again flattened Lesnar and eliminated the Beast with relative ease.
– Undertaker appeared behind Goldberg, cleared house, then threw out Goldberg when he had his back turned.
– Luke Harper turned on Wyatt and Orton. He first hit Bray with a discuss lariat and then attempted to give his cult leader the Sister Abigail as he kissed him goodbye but the attempt was thwarted by Orton who hit Harper with an RKO.
– Roman Reigns entered the Rumble at number 30 to a loud chorus of boos as stupid marks expected to see Finn Bálor or Samoa Joe… I was one of those stupid marks.
– Randy Orton won the match after eliminating Roman Reigns.
You could say it was a rather ironic tagline for this year’s Rumble as most of it is one to forget. Randy Orton was the less obvious and safe choice to give the WWE World Championship shot at WrestleMania. Understandably, there is some disappointment with the outcome but in the bigger picture, you have to realise it’s better to have a man who is involved in a good storyline with Bray Wyatt than having one of two part-time 50-year-old men headline the biggest event in professional wrestling.