It was the first stop on the road to Wrestlemania, but did it fulfil it’s expectations? That was what I was hoping to find out by watching WWE’s Royal Rumble, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Box Office here in Britain.
The show began with tag team action as the New Age Outlaws, Billy Gunn and the Road Dogg, took on the Ascension’s Konnor and Viktor.
Well, this pretty much went how I expected it to. The Outlaws brought back some fond memories doing their shtick, and they looked okay early on, but when the new boys started using the Dogg for target practice you kind of knew how this was going to turn out.
Roadie managed to get the tag to the Bad Ass on the outside, and although he pulled off a few good moves it wasn’t long before the Ascension boys were taking him out with that total elimination-like move for the winning pin. Not bad I suppose.
The first title match of the evening saw the Miz and Damian Mizdow challenging the Usos for the Tag Team titles.
This was more or less another handicap match as far as the challengers were concerned. While Miz took care of things in the ring Mizdow, much to the delight of the fans in attendance, aped everything he did in the ring. Miz wasn’t too happy though when the fans started cheering for his lackey, especially when the awesome chant broke out, and even more so when Miz refused to tag his partner in.
Once again the brothers looked impressive throughout as they pulled off some great high flying moves, although they almost fell to two skull crushing finales, one of which saw Mizdow almost setting up the win for his boss.
The end saw a very entertaining sequence in which the brothers foiled Miz’s superplex attempting before finishing off the so-called film star with a powerbomb followed by a superfly splash for the title retaining win.
The Divas were up next as the Bella Twins faced Natalya and Paige. Moving on…..
The penultimate match saw John Cena and Seth Rollins challenging Paul Heyman guy Brock Lesnar for the WWE World title in a triple threat match.
Say what you want about Lesnar not being around much, but when he is around he certainly makes an impact, and then some.
To say this match was eventful and dramatic wouldn’t be underestimating things. It had everything you could have wanted, the unstoppable force that is the World Champion, the former champion looking to avenge one of his worst defeats, and the up and comer, the future of the company, looking to make a statement in the biggest match of his career.
Lesnar looked like an absolute monster early on, throwing both Cena and Rollins around the ring as if they were cuddly toys. The two challengers had some success against him, but it was always fleeting, and the beast kept coming back time and time and time again. No matter what they did to him they just couldn’t put him away.
The turning point came when Cena took Lesnar down with three attitude adjusters and Rollins followed up with a curb stomp, and although the champion managed to survive that onslaught it was almost the beginning of the end when Cena barged him through the barricade into the time keeper’s area.
Cena then followed up by throwing him into the steel ring steps, and a few moments later it looked like the champion was out for good. As he lay on the Spanish announcer’s table Rollins put him through it after coming down from the top rope. Lesnar was motionless as he laid in the remains of the table, looking beaten, looking human.
Rollins and Cena saw their chance, but no matter what they did they just couldn’t put the other man away. As the doctors came out to check on the fallen champion the two challengers pulled out everything in their respective arsenals, but it just wasn’t enough to get the job done.
But then, after Rollins came off the top rope and took Cena out with a spiral splash, Lesnar suddenly came back to life. Rollins almost took him out again with his Money in the Bank briefcase, but just when he was about to take the champion down with the curb stomp onto the case Lesnar sprang back up and took him out with the F5 for the title-retaining win.
Then it was on to the main event, the Royal Rumble match.
So what can I say that hasn’t already been said over the past few days. Entertainment-wise this was a pretty decent match. There were some nice surprises such with the appearances of Bubba Ray Dudley and Diamond Dallas Page, and some dominating performances on the part of Bray Wyatt and Rusev.
But of course I have to mention a certain Daniel Bryan. I have to admit that I found it a little surprising that he was eliminated so early, and while I would have liked to see him at least in the last five given all the rumours that had been circulating about the Wrestlemania main event in the past few months his elimination really wasn’t a surprise at all.
As for the ending, first there was the false finish, with Roman Reigns eliminating Kane and the Big Show. But after Triple H’s buddies came back for the sneak attack and the Rock made the save it emerged that Rusev hadn’t actually been eliminated. Reigns quickly took care of that problem, taking the win that was greeted with one of the loudest chorus of boos I’ve ever heard.
In conclusion – is it me or are these Royal Rumble shows becoming a little bit controversial?
Firstly let’s look at the matches. While the undercard matches served their purpose in setting the stage for what was to come they were more or less blown out of the water by the Lesnar/Cena/Rollins three-way for the title. All three protagonists put in great stints, and I totally agree with those who are saying that this is already a match of the year candidate.
As for the Rumble itself, I think I’ve pretty much covered that already, and everyone kind of knew that Roman Reigns was going to come out on top. But as far as the powers that be not giving the fans what they want, and as far as Daniel Bryan being nowhere near the Wrestlemania main event, just think of this: the grand-daddy of them all is what, nearly two months away? Last year taught us that a lot can happen between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania, so let’s just wait and see what happens.
So with all of that out of the way there’s one more thing to do, and that’s to give WWE’s first big event of the year the thumbs up.
And remember, wait and see.
By day I‘m an unemployed retail worker, and at weekends I volunteer in a local museum, but by night I’m the author of The Two Sheds Review, Britain’s longest running professional wrestling and mixed martial arts blog. It’s been online in one form or another since June 2000!