Let’s get ready to [REMOVED FOR TRAAADEMARRRRK VIOLATIOOONNNNN]!
It’s Royal Rumble time! This year, the women, for the first time ever, get in on all the Rumbling! Will Undertaker show up? Will Ronda Rousey make her WWE debut? Will ECW icons pop the Philly crowd? Will the Women’s Rumble match close the show? Will anything be able to top Gargano vs. Almas from NXT: TakeOver last night? There are so many questions!
Oh, and don’t you worry. On Friday, ex-IC Champ Roman Reigns officially entered himself into the Rumble (you just have to say, out loud, that you’re in it) so there’s a strong possibility we might re-live the last time Reigns won the Rumble. In Philly.
Yes, remember when the hatred for Roman vastly outweighed the love for The Rock and Dwayne was shook? We could get a repeat of that moment. But without the Rock getting residual/spill-over Roman boos. If you’d like to check out my Royal Rumble Match Winner Predictions, you can do so here. They’re probably all scathingly wrong, but that’s part of the fun.
Lock it in right here, folks. I’ll be watching the Rumble PPV and putting up the results and my reactions here – while also live tweeting over at @TheMattFowler. Likewise, @IGN’s own twitter feed is gonna be Rumble-related for a while so float on over there too for silliness and such.
After a “just fine,” and sorta lengthy, 205 Live match (hey, it’s a 2-hour kickoff show) – Kalisto, Gran Metalik, and Lince Dorado vs. Drew Gulak, Jack Gallagher, and TJP…
…The Club faced The Revival in a match I was nervous about. After Revival got Ascension’d on RAW 25, this was, pretty much, their only chance to recover from that massive nostalgia bump-down/beatdown.
And hey – they won! This makes me happy. It was a solid back-and-forth bout and Revival got the “W.” The Club were the duo, assumedly, on the rise here given their new “Balor Club” alliance with Finn, but Revival rebounded (granted, it’s the kickoff show), worked over Anderson’s knee and eventually got the roll-up pin.
Now if they can not lose the inevitable RAW rematch, please, I’ll be good.
Winners: The Revival
I don’t know why, exactly, this was booked as an open challenge and not just Bobby Roode vs. Mojo Rawley, but hype levels were at maximum hype-etude when Rawley answered Roode’s call. Maybe they wanted us to think Ziggler might come back. Or someone – er – better. Not sure.
Unless your open challenge challenger is a big surprise and not just someone you’ve faced and beaten before, you’re going to win. So this wound up being Roode’s night. Still, I hope they do something worthwhile with Rawley and not just plop him back in a feud with Ryder. There was a tiny flub at the end with Roode’s finisher, but otherwise this one was standard kickoff fare.
Winner, and still U.S Champion: Bobby Roode
This was always going to be a weird match. The storyline circumstances to get here were jacked and a handicap match situation was never going to be the ideal combination for these three guys – especially considering Styles’ match at last year’s Rumble. But these guys still made this the best contest they could – especially that monkey flip into the hurricanrana! Superb athletes and great personalities making the best of a less-than-ideal booking platter.
Also, given that the stipulation practically handed the win to AJ (we were NOT getting co-holders of the WWE Championship!) it’s good that it went on first – though part of me really wanted the Men’s Rumble Match to open the event. It was a good opener, a hot crowd, and the right finish. This was never going to steal the show though.
Though where does this story go now? Owens and Sami griped to Shane backstage and he didn’t give a s***. Do we just go back to the same grind or do we move on?
Winner, and still WWE Champion: AJ Styles
JUST as I was in the midst of tweeting about how “2 out of 3 Falls” matches are weird because it takes the crowd, usually, about 10 minutes to start caring, the match ended at the 10-minute mark.
TWO FALLS TO NONE!
I mean, we all know, kayfabe, someone can win two falls in a row but that never happens because it doesn’t make for a good story. But that’s what we got here. This match had all the telltale signs of a stellar outing, where both teams took their time to craft a cool story (bro), but the Usos got a small package pin one minute after they took the first fall of the match.
That was…sure. Okay. I don’t know. I mean, I picked the Usos to win because the stip favored them a little, but why shut down Gable and Benjamin like that? Was there a time issue? A botch? Just a strange decision to make the match less competitive and the Usos more dominant? Blerf.
Winners, and still SmackDown Tag Team Champions: The Usos
Hey, that was a pretty damn fun Royal Rumble, folks!
Low on surprises and nostalgia pops, and that was a good thing. The ones that were there though were freakin’ awesome. Rey Mysterio? Hurricane? Kofi stepping on the pancakes and then vaulting up? There was very little actual dead weight here and I also loved that it came in the middle of the show!
And the overrun? With Cena, Roman, Balor, and Nakamura? What tension! The “babyfaces who get booed” on one side and the amazing New Japan darlings on the other? This was played perfectly, and having it come down to Roman and Shinsuke was [chef kiss].
This Rumble moved, it told good micro-stories, and had memorable moments. Slater eliminating Sheamus. Cena being the total enemy of fun and joy by eliminating Elias, Hurricane, AND Balor. There was some worry that Roman might go over because it wasn’t going on last and they didn’t want to end the night in boos, but WWE did the right thing here and put over Nakamura – at the direct expense of Roman! And boy, did they play with our emotions during the final five minutes. It was a nail-biter, that’s for damn sure.
Also – hey! – I’m doing pretty good with my Rumble card predictions.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Welp, serves me right for touting my Rumble predictions. I’m a big bozo.
Rollins and Jordan lost the tag titles back to The Bar after Jordon got knocked for a loop, saw tweety birds circling his head, and couldn’t function in the ring. He tried to tag in toward the end of the match but then (in actually a pretty funny moment) tagged back out and left Seth to the wolves.
The crowd, too, was in the midst of coming down from a pretty awesome Rumble match high – especially considering the outcome. Also, it was weird having seen these guys already in the Rumble match right beforehand, but that’s the game you play when the Rumble happens mid-show I guess.
Jordan wasn’t in the Rumble, of course. It works for his weasel character and the way he never wants to truly put himself at risk, and gets easily (and suspiciously) hurt when he does, yet doesn’t understand why he’s not accepted as a hero.
Winners, and new RAW Tag Team Champions: Sheamus and Cesaro
Annnnd, I’m back on track.
Kane, the obvious goof that he is, took the pin after a F-5 and Brock Lesnar is still your Universal Champion.
We knew this match would be short, sloppy, and brutal – and it sure as hell was. Braun and Brock were working so damn stiff that even when tables and chairs were brought in (Did you know it was No DQ? Because I sure didn’t) we were literally watching slow-motion recaps of knee strikes and head punches because they were so damn nasty.
Eventually, the tables took a beating and Brock even tried to bury Braun under one of them. A trick opponents once tried to use on Brock, if I’m not mistaken. Look, I’m okay with Roman vs. Brock at WrestleMania because I don’t like either of them so I’d rather them take up one match than be spit between two. This was, by all intents and purposes, true to design, a “slobberknocker.” I hoped for better, but this is what I expected.
Winner, and still Universal Champion: Brock Lesnar