2016 Royal Rumble Review
Despite its flaws, tonight’s Royal Rumble event was pretty damned good.
We kicked off with the Pre-show, and as many of predicted, was won by Jack Swagger and Mark Henry. We also saw a funny Twitter Q&A with the Social Outcasts. Some debate with my buddy Frankie about why Damien Sandow is not part of the stable. I’m just not sure he fits the group, but he did make a good point. This is job squad 2.0 and Sandow has been the biggest jobber of 2015. Valid point. Sandow was massively over during the match.
Backstage, Vince and Stephanie McMahon arrive and are interviewed by JoJo. Funny moment with Vince crouching down to her level.
The first match of the night sees Dean Ambrose retaining the Intercontinental Championship against Kevin Owens in the Last Man Standing match. I thought this match was damn good. Great table spots, some pretty awesome bumps, and again, in my opinion, both men put on a great match. A lot of back and forth, no shortage of foreign objects. Highlighted spots were an early cannonball putting Ambrose through the crowd barrier, Owens dropping Ambrose through a table off the top rope with a twisting cradle-plex off. Finally, Ambrose dumping Owens off the top and to the arena floor, plowing through two stacked tables in the process.
Next up featured The New Day retaining their championships against The Usos. Right off the bat, very noticeable how the live crowd were booing The Usos right from the start. Despite the occasional young-fan cheering for the Usos, the New Day was clearly over. New Day had some great pre-match, post-match, and mid-match antics. Xavier Woods killed it as ringside antagonist, bringing and introducing Francesca 2.0, and teasing the crowd. Not a show-stealer, but a great match showing more of how good New Day can be. Usos, they’re done. Stale.
Our third championship match saw a change of pace, as Kalisto defeated Alberto del Rio and became a United States Champion for a second time. This was a solid match between them. I would be remiss to point out there were a couple of botches during the match, however @muffnman described it as Kalisto paying tribute to his injured tag partner, Sin Cara. Besides that, another fast-paced balanced match which saw Kalisto hit not one, but two Salida del Sols on the Mexican Aristocrat for the pinfall victory.
Up next we got our long awaited Divas Championship match. Expectedly, Charlotte retained the Divas Title, but by a dirty finish, assisted by the dirtiest player in the game, Ric Flair. Becky was on fire, however the match was lacking something. What was not lacking, was interference from Ric Flair, as he planted a big smoochie on Lynch. The big stuff took place after the match was over, when Sasha Banks came out, dispatched Lynch from the ring and then teased a partnership with Charlotte, only to turn and lock her in the Bank Statement. WrestleMania anyone?
Finally the Royal Rumble hits and it starts off with a bang! AJ STYLES as entrant #3 because no one cared about watching Rusev coming in at #2 and being immediately eliminated. Same goes for #4 Tyler Breeze. In the ring, hit some flashy moves, and his dumped. Chris Jericho comes at #6. Man, even though Jericho is past his prime, I would still love to see a Jericho vs. AJ match. #7 sees Demon Kane entering, which cues Michael Cole to remind us for the gazillionth time about how many people Kane has eliminated. Goldust, followed by Ryback enters, the latter of whom gets booed, until he starts his “Feed Me More” chant. Crowd has been HOT for Styles since the beginning. Goldust is eliminated by Titus O’Neil, and then we get our comedy spot, as R-Truth enters, brings a ladder into the ring, starts climbing, and then yells “Where’s the Briefcase!” Funny moment until Kane dumps him from the ring. Roman Reigns gets his obligatory rest break as The League of Nations ambushed and plows Reigns through the French announce table. Sigh. Big Show enters at #15, does nothing, and now Reigns is being walked to the back. Sigh. Kofi was eliminated by Jericho when the cameras were not looking.
I would like to point out, the announce team seem genuinely surprised by the constant chanting for AJ Styles.
Luke Harper and Braun Strowman enter two numbers apart, and start dominating the match, with Strowman lobbing Kane clear over the top rope. Kane has ZERO eliminations this year. If that isn’t enough, Strowman then single-handedly eliminates Big Show also. I guess Strowman has to look strong too. Kevin Owen hits the ring, and goes right after AJ Styles and the live crowd loses their minds. Neville almost eliminates the Phenomenal One, but Kevin Owens is the one to eliminate him, shouting “WELCOME TO WWE!” Dean Ambrose enters next and goes right back after Kevin Owens. The crowd continues to chant for Styles even after the elimination. If you didn’t think it was crazy yet, out comes charging Sami Zayn who tears right into Kevin Owens, and eliminates him.
Erick Rowan enters next, and the Wyatts now get rid of Stardust and Neville, then wear down Ambrose, Jericho, and Zayn. Mark Henry enters next at #22 and is immediately overwhelmed and dumped over the top by the Wyatt Family. So much for your last Rumble Mr. Henry. Next to leave via Wyatt is Sami Zayn. Out comes Brock Lesnar at #23 and immediately takes the Wyatt Family to Suplex City. Rowan is eliminated, and Jack Swagger enters and leaves just as quickly as Mark Henry, thanks to Lesnar. Miz comes in at #25 and heads to the announce table, while Lesnar then eliminates both Luke Harper and Braun Strowman. Just when all the Wyatts are gone, Bray enters at #27. Despite being eliminated, the family returns and eliminates Brock Lesnar from the Royal Rumble!!! Wow.
Dolph Ziggler comes out, and now Miz opts to enter the ring since Brock is gone. Sheamus enters at #29. But of course… Roman Reigns returns! Crowd boos emphatically as he tosses The Miz and Alberto del Rio. As Reigns amps up, #30 comes out and its… TRIPLE H! This means one thing… Wade Barrett is NOT in the Royal Rumble. Out of all the League of Nations members, Wade Barrett does not get a spot in the Rumble. The Final Four comes down to Sheamus, Dean Ambrose, Triple H, and Roman Reigns, after Ambrose lobs Jericho from the ring. Ambrose and Reigns manage to dispatch Sheamus, but Triple H seizes the opportunity and tosses Reigns, leaving himself and Ambrose to determine a new WWE Champion. Ambrose nearly emerges victorious on a number of occasions, but ultimately Triple H overpowers the Lunatic Fringe, eliminating him and claiming the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for the 14th time.
Not a bad PPV at all. Roman Reigns NOT retaining was very good to see, as the whole “miracle return” has been played out so often and clichéd it would have killed any chance Reigns had of staying in favor with the fans. If Ambrose would have suddenly won, the fanbase, the internet, everyone, would have lost it. I admit, I jumped when it came down to Ambrose and Triple H, thinking maybe Reigns would try to interfere and cost The Game the title. Alas, it was not to be.
What did you all think of tonight’s Royal Rumble? The title matches were pretty good, and the Rumble itself, while nothing special, had some pretty interesting moments. My guess is Brock vs. Bray at Mania, and Roman Reigns vs. Triple H for the WWE Championship. I hope we get something crazy like Kevin Owens vs. Neville vs. Sami Zayn vs. AJ Styles in the near future. Because, wrestling, and ratings.