Who doesn't love Royal Rumble Sunday? It's easily my second-favorite wrestling event of the year (after Wrestlemania, of course), and as always, it's exciting because of the Royal Rumble match, and really, because it kicks off Wrestlemania season.
But, you already know this. Regardless, the WWE built a tremendous card for this year's Rumble and did a tremendous job hyping an event that draws and attracts so many casual wrestling fans.
This year's Royal Rumble was a great show. From start to finish, all of it was fantastic and I really enjoyed the variety and overwhelming talent that currently lies within the WWE. In fact, no one does these mega weekends in entertainment better than the WWE (Yup, not even the NFL and their big weekend coming up). Even, NXT on Saturday night provided another element that we've gotten used to
Overall, I thought the weekend provided plenty of moments that were really surprising, but in some aspects - and in a weird contradictory way - lacked the usual surprising moments. Yeah, I know, confusing, but I'll explain below in my quick thoughts on all of Royal Rumble Weekend.
- NXT is overrated. Boom. I'm sure that surprised you. But, no really, I think it is. While I very much like the Takeover specials and the wrestling it provides on the occasional Saturday night, the current NXT is lacking. In fact, I sometimes think some wrestling fans (mostly WWE fans) sometimes grab a case of the backup Quarterback blues, wanting so desperately to believe in the development brand over the main element. Again, I do like the product, but I'm not completely drinking the NXT Kool-Aid.
As for NXT Takeover San Antonio, DIY versus Authors of Pain was easily the best match of the night. Roode vs. Nakaumra was almost as good, but even Roode's entrance was the highlight there. The rest of the card was watchable and passable.
- I love the mega weekends that are the major four pay-per-views, but these pre-shows are ridiculously long. Like crazy long. I get that there is a ton of talent on the roster, but a two-hour pre-show plus the pay-per-view requires one to give up an entire day. Let's keep it to one-hour if possible. But I do like the earlier finish. Gives me a chance to get a sweet review in on the blog before bed.
- Who else still has, "I can blow your mind" still in their heads? No one does marketing like the WWE.
- Speaking of marketing, how about the storytelling of Corey Graves? This is high praise, but the dude reminds me so much of Bobby Heenan. He is the best color commentator in the business in any pro wrestling company right now.
- I had high hopes for Bayley vs. Charlotte. I'm not saying their match was bad, but I think I may have had my hopes set way too high. The finish with Charlotte hitting Bayley with the Natural Selection on the apron was a nice touch, and a finish we don't see often. Regardless, Charlotte continues to be super impressive, and I'm a fan of the pay-per-view streak they have going for her.
I'll also say this, I still think Bayley can be huge money for the WWE. I'm talking like HUGE. But, as always, it depends on where they take her, and if she can run with the ball. I'm hoping they keep this feud running as this match just felt short of what I think they are capable of.
- Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens was fantastic. Everything Roman Reigns is tough these days as they continue to attempt to shove the babyface aspect down our throats, when really, it feels just like that - them shoving a babyface down our throats. Life is sometimes that simple. But hey, it's the WWE's universe, they just let us in it.
Despite that, Roman isn't all that bad, and him and Owens delivered big time in this one. I thought the shark cage would be goofy, but it ended up being a nice throwback to old school wrestling, and added a weird spectacle to the No DQ bout.
Though, I will say this, and it's nitpicking, Reigns not selling the absolute beating he went through with Owens came through a bit. And of course, it surely was present when he entered in the Royal Rumble. But hey, gotta make Reigns look STRONG! Yah, I know...
By the way, the use of the stack of chairs was really cool. Big fan of the moment.
- Swann vs. Neville was a really good match, but you wouldn't notice by the way the crowd reacted to it. I'm not sure if the whole "Cruiserweight" genre hasn't been presented correctly, or if fans, specifically within the WWE brand, just don't care about it. The jury is still out. That style of wrestling does so well and is well received on every other wrestling platform except for the WWE.
Both men delivered a great contest, which picked up some really good steam in the end. Swann vs. Neville in a long term program has the ability to help out the 205 brand. It should be interesting to see where it moves going forward, and if they have an opportunity to get on a big show like Wrestlemania - like the actual show, not the pre-show.
- I absolutely am floored by AJ Styles. I've been a fan of the dude since TNA's Wrestling's first show in june of 2002, and ever since then, I've truly believed he's been this generation's most underrated wrestler. And of course, John Cena, as always, the standard bearer for all that is pro wrestling felt like a combination that would make for magic. And it did.
I'm not even going to attempt to do this one justice, so I'll just leave it at this - damn good. In a year where Okada vs. Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 11 set the bar so high, Styles and Cena went out and hit that bar.
By the way, I absolutely loved the AA, with the roll through for another AA combination. We need to get that move in WWE 2K17! And Cena needs to do that again sometime in the future. Great stuff. Such great stuff.
I was a bit surprised to see the 16th and record-tying world title win come last night, but hey, why not? If there is a dude that deserves it, it's Cena. In an odd way going forward, I'm looking forward to when loses it, and the eventual chase for number 17. Because, we know it'll happen. It has to.
And oh yeah, pretty freakin cool of John Cena to celebrate that historic moment with the kid from the Make-a-Wish foundation. Again, hard to root against Cena. At this point in his career, the body of work and the overwhelming effort speaks for itself.
I'm curious to see where Styles moves on to from here. Truth be told, I won't be upset with Styles vs. Cena again at Wrestlemania. But that's probably highly doubtful.
Orton. Gotta give it to them. Didnt see that coming. #RoyalRumble— Dome Pondering (@DomePondering) January 30, 2017
- Orton winning the Rumble was genuinely surprising. One of the things I missed about the Rumble is in fact the uncertainty around who will win it. Some years, of course a few more than others, the winner can be pegged to about 3-4 people. The win really was surprising, and it does bring Orton back to the forefront of the company.
Also, it was pretty clever of the WWE to have Reigns come out at number thirty and rival Orton. I'm sure they knew fans would root for Orton, thus avoiding the moment being anti-climactic. Very, very smart.
Though things line up for Orton vs. Cena right now, I would be surprised if we get the 34,321st version of this match at Wrestlemania. Although, there is a sort of revival of both right now that could make for an interesting program. Especially, when considering that Cena is nearing some rarified air, and Orton has always played second fiddle to him during this generation.
On the other hand, I was thoroughly surprised by the lack of well, "surprise" entrants into the Rumble match. No Kurt Angle? No Nakumura? No goofy legends? I figured Samoa Joe would be a shoe in after being left off of the NXT card. There were no real surprises that makes the Rumble fun. You know, what makes the Rumble, the Rumble!
They are really getting behind Braun Stroman. And honestly, the dude is believable in the role.
Someone is going to have to drive Taker with the length of that aisle. #RoyalRumble— Dome Pondering (@DomePondering) January 30, 2017
I want a full report on how that long aisle affected Rumble participation. That should be added to the "By the Numbers" piece for next year. Longest entrance aisle ever for a Rumble match? By the way, the "By The Numbers" piece is absolutely awesome.
The Royal Rumble feels weird without The Big Red Machine. No Kane just felt awkward.
Having Goldberg eliminate Lesnar was fun. I like the continued storyline of Goldberg and Lesnar, but there is just a part of me that doesn't really care to see another match. Maybe they'll sell me more on it in the coming weeks. As always, the WWE is good at that around this time.
Watching the Undertaker out there is sad. One of my all-time favorites, but it seems like that time is coming. It looks like possibly Reigns vs. Taker at Wrestlemania. Ummm, again, I need to be sold on that.
All in all, I truly enjoyed Royal Rumble weekend. There were plenty of surprising moments that came out of nowhere, and the expected surprises were non existent, thus, becoming surprises in themselves. Nonetheless, it was still a fun weekend of watching what the WWE does best, providing an array of wrestling entertainment to the wrestling fan. Overall, this weekend was fun, and as it should, it sets up what should be a fun sixty-three days heading into Wrestlemania.