Royal Rumble In A Nutshell: Kicking Off The Road To WrestleMania

Good evening everyone! It’s finally time for our first major WWE PPV of 2019, the Royal Rumble! This show is all about kicking off the Road to WrestleMania. That’s right folks, the road to New Jersey in April starts right here in Phoenix tonight. Every major title is on the line, and we have the men’s and women’s 30 participant Royal Rumble matches to determine two title match opponents at WrestleMania. It’s going to be a hot night in the desert as WWE takes over Chase Field. Let’s crack open this  Nutshell and see how the action unfolds!

Best Match of the night:

I do think that we saw easily the best match out of Ronda Rousey to date. It’s encouraging to see that she basically improves every big match she has. She worked a brilliant match with Sasha Banks. The interesting bit really came at the end of the match, when it looked like the two might have a good display of sportsmanship. Banks, however, flashed four fingers at Rousey. Now, that either is Banks reminding Rousey of her own title reigns…or alluding to the clash we all know is coming, Horsewomen versus Horsewomen. I do think it’s too soon for that one, but it’s never too soon to lay the groundwork either.

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Worst match of the night:

The Rumbles were actually not all that great. OK, they weren’t horrible, and its the first time in a while where I was OK with the winner(s), but there was actually a lot to not like, too. The most egregious of those was Nia Jax entering the men’s Rumble. We all knew that Truth wasn’t going to actually take advantage of #30, he was just such an obvious waste for that slot (or any in the Rumble). As our own Dorathy Gass noted:

I will say most of the spots weren’t wasted on old-timers, which is a good thing…but losing a spot for Jeff Jarrett wasn’t great. The NXT guys looked great (so did the NXT women), but both matches truly lacked a huge surprise. The last really big surprise I can really say qualifies was AJ Styles and his debut. Some of that is AEW’s fault this year, but you would like one or two big ones a year. Ronda Rousey last year sort of qualifies, but she didn’t actually show up until after the match.

Star of the Night

I have to give this to the two Rumble winners-Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins. Now, nothing has been announced yet, but it sure looks like we will get Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey on one side, and Seth Rollins versus Brock Lesnar on the other. I think fans can be happy with both of those matches at the top of the card.

Spot of the Night:

There were many to like. I won’t be able to name them all, but let’s throw some out there.

Natalya with the Sharpshooter for two.

Erick Rowan with the claw-chokeslam.

Balor getting crazy with three flips over the top rope to the outside, taking out The Beast.

Jobber of the Night:

Finn Balor I think gets my nod here, because look at the abuse he took post-match. It was a shorter match than I had hoped for, and it was seemingly over in a blink. Balor absorbed a number of Germans post-match, along with an F-5 for his trouble.

But then we got the men’s Rumble…and I would say we have a few possibilities. No Way Jose and his Conga Line. Titus O’Neill. Hawkins. Take your pick.

Holy Sh** Moment of the Night:

I can’t believe that WWE says they want to push the tag team division (their words, not mine) and tonight we saw what we saw relative to tag team action: for RAW, the tag team champions went up against a mash-up of Rezar and Dawson. You can’t find a whole tag team that we’d consider a legit threat?

On the SmackDown side, we got a joke of a team-Miz and Shane McMahon-defeating one of the better tag teams of the last several years to become new SmackDown tag champs. Makes no sense to me.

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Erick Rowan is back, and apparently he’s now helping Daniel Bryan. He intervened during the WWE Championship match, delivering a claw-based chokeslam to Styles when the official was down, giving Bryan the win.

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Botch of the night:

On one hand, I can’t go too crazy. On the other, I do have a duty to have something here.

So, some of these might be attributed to nerves, I will give you that. But, some newcomers had some issues. Lacey Evans, early on in the Rumble, had a couple issues. One was a really bad kip up. There were others. These stuck out because it was, at that point, just a one on one match.

I believe we had an oops or two from Kacy Catanzaro too, but given her way of staying in the Rumble, you have to overlook that a bit  I think.

LOL Moment of the night:

Folks, most nights I don’t even do this anymore. Tonight I have to make an exception. Zelina Vega was opting to be that woman who hid under the ring in order to survive. Every so often, she peeked out from under the apron. Toward the later stages of the Rumble, she looked out, and she was not alone: Hornswoggle just so happened to be under there too, scaring Vega into the ring and immediately out of the Rumble. Ignore the questions about why or how Hornswoggle just happened to be there…it was funny.

Noteworthy Moment:

The women’s Rumble was an interesting one. We saw the first Chinese Superstar, Xia Li, and she looked good in limited action. We got to enjoy 31 entrants, none of whom were really legends-like last year. WWE brought in a number of NXT Superstars, including Kairi Sane, Io Sharai and NXT UK’s Rhea Ripley. I was surprised that we did not get an appearance by Shayna Baszler, however.

Erick Rowan has returned, now aligned with Daniel Bryan.

Jeff Jarrett is our first legend as an entrant into the Rumble, coming in at number 2.

Nia Jax stealing number 30

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Overall lowlights:

To an extent, the women’s Rumble felt a bit bland. I know I wasn’t alone-there were several on social media saying similar things. I didn’t think it was terrible. One plus was that we got a lot of newer faces, as opposed to retired Superstars (though, getting one or two legends back would have been OK).

Bummer seeing Rusev lose the belt so soon.

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Not a huge fan of Shane and Miz winning tag team gold, but I suppose there could be a bigger pay off down the road.

With some of the better names on the men’s side in NXT, it does begin to get disappointing to see WWE use a spot on someone like Jeff Jarret. Yes, he had a good interaction with Elias and all that…but with spots at a premium, it was more of a head scratcher. If WWE wants to keep with having the nostalgia entries, they should up it to 40 men again.

A bummer to not see Lars Sullivan. WWE claims they are still behind him, but considering we have been having him announced for over two months, you hope whatever is ailing him gets sorted out quick.

Overall highlights:

Having all the NXT Superstars involved in both Rumbles. Nice to see a push toward the younger/newer faces.

Fans have to be happy with both Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins winning. I think fans would have been happy with Strowman too-I was actually expecting some sort of finish where both men hit at the same time and gave them both a shot at the belt.

I think the regular matches did a really good job tonight, actually being better than the Rumble.

After the final bell:

It was definitely a big show, with plenty of action. It seemed lacking on the surprise factor, which I had expected because of the All Elite factor-there wasn’t a Kenny Omega out there to come in and have an AJ-esque debut. While WWE could have brought someone out of retirement we haven’t seen in a while, they opted for largely a youth movement, giving a lot of Rumble time to NXT and NXT UK talents, along with names like Mustafa Ali who had himself a nice showing.


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