The 32nd edition of the WWE Royal Rumble was a huge event. The show took place at the home of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. Not only that, but the broadcast had a runtime that was nearly five hours long, which meant it was about two hours longer than most Royal Rumble events in WWE history. Add in a two hour Kickoff Show and the fans at the Rumble PPV were in their seats for nearly seven hours depending on when they arrived. For WrestleMania shows, that has become the norm for most of the last decade, but this was a new thing for the Rumble PPV. Was it a good thing? Not really. The show was too long and WWE likely knew that.
As for the show, the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches were the highlights while major stars like Brock Lesnar, Ronda Rousey, Daniel Bryan and Asuka had some big title defenses on this card as well.
This review was originally written on the night it happened in 2019. I am adding some 2021 thoughts in blue font because there’s always more to say. I’m not going to point out the face/heel designations this time.
WWE Royal Rumble
From Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona
January 27, 2019
A video package aired hyping up the Royal Rumble matches with clips of past Rumbles and highlights of current stars to promote the title matches.
There was a digital graphic telling us they were live in Phoenix. There was a big and loud crowd in Phoenix with WWE planning for over 40,000 fans.
Becky Lynch made her entrance first for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Great pop for Becky while fans facing the hard camera were given “The Man” signs to hold up.
The Smackdown announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show. Asuka made her entrance. The Spanish and German announce teams were at ringside as well hoping nobody breaks their tables. Asuka and Becky stood in the ring as ring announcer Greg Hamilton did the intros for this championship match.
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Asuka vs. Becky Lynch
Lynch knocked down Asuka with a shoulder tackle and told Asuka to fight her. Asuka kicked Lynch in the back of the legs to take her down. Lynch connected with forearms to the face and a running forearm off the ropes. The battle went to the apron where Asuka hit a running hip attack that knocked Lynch off the apron to the floor. Asuka went for a kick, Lynch avoided it and kicked Asuka off the apron to the floor. Asuka whipped Lynch into the side of the ring into the LED board. Lynch came back with a Bexploder suplex into the barricade. Back in the ring, Lynch stomped away on Asuka against the turnbuckle. Lynch with a suplex for two. Asuka avoided a kick to the face and hit a kick to the gut. Asuka was trapped against the ropes, so Lynch hit her with forearms. Asuka put the Asuka Lock on Lynch using the ropes, but she had to break at a five count. Asuka missed a corner attack as Lynch slapped on the armbar against the turnbuckle. Lynch to the middle ropes, she missed an attack and Asuka hit Lynch in the face with a knee. Ouch. Asuka came back with a missile dropkick off the middle ropes, then another hip attack, spinning back fist, a kick and a release German Suplex from Asuka. Another hip attack by Asuka got a two count. Asuka went up top, she jumped off with a dropkick and Lynch avoided it. Lynch picked up Asuka and hit a one-armed slam for a two count. Asuka slapped on an Asuka Lock, but wasn’t able to lock it in because Lynch rolled over to the ropes. They battled on the apron with Asuka punching Lynch repeatedly in the back. Asuka wanted a slam off the apron, but Lynch held onto the ropes. Asuka grabbed the ropes to prevent Lynch from hitting a suplex. Asuka grabbed Lynch and hit a neckbreaker/suplex bump off the apron onto the floor. Asuka got back in the ring while Lynch made her back in just before the ten count. Asuka with a running kick that got a two count.
The match turned into a slugfest with the crowd getting into it. Asuka avoided a Lynch strike and hit a spin kick to the head. When Asuka charged, Lynch moved and kicked Asuka. Lynch grabbed Asuka on the top rope and hit a Super Bexploder Suplex for a two count with Asuka kicking out at the last possible moment. Great nearfall. Lynch went for the leg drop off the top, but Asuka moved and went for the Asuka Lock. Lynch managed to get out of Asuka’s hold and Lynch slapped on the Asuka Lock, but Asuka escaped. Asuka hit a kick to the head. Lynch pulled down Asuka with the Dis-Arm-Her submission on the left arm of Asuka. Rollup by Asuka got a two count. Lynch covered for two with a rollup. Asuka Lock again by Asuka trapped Lynch, Asuka flipped over into a bridge and Lynch tapped out to give Asuka the submission win. It looked like the Cattle Mutilation submission that Daniel Bryan used to use in the Bryan Danielson pre-WWE days. It went 17:10.
Winner by submission: Asuka
Analysis: **** That was a really good opening match with Asuka winning the battle of submissions in a clean manner. I didn’t think it would end clean like that because of how popular Lynch is, but it is nice to see a clean finish to really put over Asuka in a big way in her first major title defense. I thought the first part was a bit slow, but then they really picked up the pace and had an exciting final few minutes where it looked like either woman was going to win. My prediction was Asuka wins by countout or DQ to keep Becky strong, but I think Becky will be fine. They can build to a rematch down the road with Becky wanting revenge. A four-star out of five opening match is a nice way to set the table. (Obviously, WWE felt like Becky could lose here because of the moment that happened later in the evening.)
(They did a great job here as expected. I think it was a good choice for the opening match as well since they are two of the best women’s wrestlers in WWE that are so skilled in terms of submission wrestling, counters and building up nearfalls. Asuka winning made sense especially after what happened with Lynch later in the show.)
There was a plug for WWEShop.com. There was a commercial for the “Fighting With My Family” movie about Paige’s life. It is in theaters on February 22.
The Miz and Shane McMahon were up next for the Smackdown Tag Team Title match. The entrances are taking place from the dugout of the Arizona Diamondbacks, so it’s not that long of a walk as there might be in another major stadium. The Miz greeted his dad George at ringside and Shane shook his hand. Sheamus and Cesaro were next as the Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Bar – Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Shane McMahon and The Miz
Shane and Miz are both wearing baseball style jerseys as their matching shirts. The champs have matching purple tights. Shane tackled Sheamus to start the match, so the heels took a break. The heels used some heel tactics to isolate Miz in their corner. Shane went after the heels when they attacked Miz. Sheamus punched Shane off the apron to the floor. Sheamus picked up Miz, put him against the ropes and Cesaro got in a cheap shot leading to Sheamus kneeing Miz out of the ring. Cesaro and Sheamus cleared off the English announce table, but Shane saved Miz. Shane gently put Cesaro on the English announce table. Shane went up top while Miz held Cesaro and Shane was about to jump, but Sheamus attacked Miz, so Shane jumped off the top with a clothesline on Sheamus. Cesaro came back with an uppercut on Shane. The champs were in control with a double team slam on Miz in the ring. Sheamus hit a knee drop off the middle rope to the chest of Miz. Sheamus put Miz on the apron, took the shirt off Miz and hit him with forearms to the chest. Cesaro back in with a double team suplex by the champs for a two count. Cesaro grounded Miz with a chinlock. Sheamus stomped away on the chest of Miz. Cesaro pointed at Miz dad and hit a double axehandle to the head. Cesaro tagged in, Miz with a back body drop and Shane got the hot tag against Sheamus. Shane whipped Sheamus into the ropes followed by a back elbow, a punch to the head and Shane hit a DDT on Sheamus for a two count. Shane put Sheamus against The Bar turnbuckle, which was stupid, so Cesaro tagged in and Shane punched Cesaro down. Shane went up top and went for the Coast to Coast dropkick on Cesaro and Sheamus, but Cesaro caught Shane. Cesaro gave Shane the swing for about 20 spins (I’m guessing on the number), which led to cheers from the crowd that was impressed. Shane grabbed Cesaro in the Triangle choke submission. Cesaro tried to power out, but Shane grabbed the leg. Cesaro was fading, but Sheamus broke it up with a knee drop. Miz back in the ring with a kick to Sheamus, which led to a Sheamus clothesline on Miz on the floor. Sheamus picked up Shane and Cesaro jumped off the ropes with a double team White Noise slam for two. Sheamus wanted a Brogue Kick, Miz shoved Cesaro holding Shane, so Sheamus kicked Cesaro by accident. Miz hit a Skull Crushing Finale on Miz. Shane went up top with a Shooting Star Press on Cesaro! Holy shit! That was great. Shane covered Cesaro for the pinfall win at 13:20.
Winners by pinfall and New Smackdown Tag Team Champions: Shane McMahon and The Miz
Analysis: **1/2 The match was average with a slow start leading to a clever finish. Shane’s SSP looked pretty good for a 49-year-old guy that never really does the move that often. Sheamus and Cesaro did their job well in terms of setting up the key spots, controlling most of the action and coming close to winning a few times. I expected the title change. I don’t think Miz and Shane will be long term champions. I think it’s more likely that Miz turns on Shane leading to a title change in the near future and then they’ll have a WrestleMania match against eachother. That’s my feeling anyway.
(This was a fun moment when it happened with the fans caring about the Shane/Miz team winning. That Shooting Star Press by a nearly 50-year-old Shane was very impressive even though it wasn’t as perfect looking as a smaller guy doing it. The Shane/Miz team would end up splitting with Shane turning on Miz and I was underwhelmed by their WrestleMania match. Still, this was booked well at this point in the story.)
After the match, they showed Miz’s dad George at ringside looking proud of his son. Miz went over to his dad at ringside and gave him a hug. Shane hugged George as well. They celebrated with the titles. Miz even got a hug from Dana Warrior at ringside.
There was a commercial for Cricket Wireless with Sasha Banks. A commercial aired for WWE Network.
The Raw announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Renee Young took over on commentary at ringside. Cole announced the attendance at 48,193 people. Did they inflate the number? Probably. It’s WWE. That’s what they do.
There were videos shown to tell the story of the Ronda Rousey match against Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Title.
Sasha Banks was walking down a hallway where Carly Caruso showed up for a quick interview. Banks did her usual promo about how nothing has been handed to her, she has proved herself and she’ll show why she’s the best in the world when she makes Ronda tap out.
Sasha Banks made her entrance. The international announce teams were shown: Portuguese, Russian, Japanese (hi Funaki), Hindi, French and Mandarin.
Ronda Rousey got a big ovation for her entrance. They stood in the ring as announcer Mike Rome did the introductions for this championship match.
Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey vs. Sasha Banks
Rousey tossed Banks around the ring early. Rousey was mad at some fans chanting that she can’t wrestle, so Rousey hit two rolling vertical suplexes. Rousey went for an armbar, but Banks blocked and got to the ropes. Banks with a hard slap to the face, so Rousey kicked Banks out of the ring. Rousey missed a forearm against the ring post that is a digital screen. Banks hit a suicide dive through the ropes to take out Rousey on the floor. Banks grounded Rousey with a chinlock. Banks with the double knee attack for a two count. They had a sloppy exchange where Rousey hit a running elbow that looked hard, but Banks appeared to be okay. Banks with double knees to the right arm followed by a running knee to the face for two. Banks missed a double knee attack because Rousey moved, but Banks came back with a submission where she pulled back on the right arm of Rousey, which she worked on earlier in the match. Banks tried the Bank Statement by the ropes and Rousey broke free. Rousey got Banks on her back and hit the Piper’s Pit slam that didn’t look like it connected the right way. Rousey yanked on Banks’ arm by the top rope. Rousey went up top, Banks punched her to knock her down, Banks with a knee to the face and Banks hit a superplex off the middle ropes for a two count. Rousey came back with takedowns where she grabbed the left arm of Banks and Banks managed to send Rousey out of the ring. Banks went for a running attack out of the ring, Rousey caught her and slapped on the armbar on the floor. Banks tapped out when they were outside the ring. Rousey sent Banks back in the ring. You can’t win on the floor like that. They went back in the ring with Rousey punching Banks in the ribs repeatedly. Banks came back with a knee to the head and Rousey hit a jumping knee to the head for two. Rousey tried a slam, but Banks avoided it and sent Rousey face first into the turnbuckle. Banks jumped on the arm of Rousey. Rousey went for the armbar, Banks slipped out and Banks countered a Rousey slam into a cover for two. Banks slapped on the Bank Statement and even used an arm sleeve, put it around Ronda’s mouth, which was illegal. Banks couldn’t lock in the Bank Statement, so she grabbed a Fujiwara armbar. Rousey managed to get out of it with a Gutwrench Powerbomb and Rousey hit a Piper’s Pit slam on Banks leading to the pinfall win at 13:55.
Winner by pinfall: Ronda Rousey
Analysis: ***1/2 The match was all about submissions with some moments in there where it looked sloppy. There were a few times where I thought Banks may have been hit too hard in the head and the referee was checking on her repeatedly. They managed to get through the match just fine. Rousey ended up getting the pinfall win, which is rare for her because she usually wins by submission. The outcome did not surprise me at all because Rousey is likely going to WrestleMania as the Raw Women’s Champion.
(They worked hard and had a very competitive match here. I don’t think anybody watching this thought that Rousey was going to lose here because she was obviously going into WrestleMania as the champion. Banks put up a good fight, though. I thought there were some chemistry issues early on, but then it got better as the match progressed.)
After the match was over, Rousey and Banks each stood up as a sign of respect. Banks nodded at her as a sign of respect. Banks left holding her arm. Rousey had her hand raised in the ring while Banks looked distraught. Graves mocked Banks saying that she might cry. Rousey went over to her husband Travis Browne at ringside and got a kiss from him. When Rousey got to the aisle, Banks was there and they shook hands. Banks held up the 4 as in Four Horsewomen and she left while Rousey had a serious look on her face.
Analysis: The Four Horsewomen story is something to build to in the future with Banks, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Bayley teaming up at some point against Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke. We don’t know when it might be, but it might be at some point in the next year (if Rousey sticks around) or later.
(No sign of that match happening now.)
A commercial aired for Elimination Chamber on February 17.
The announcers mentioned Buddy Murphy’s win during the Kickoff Show. They also showed Nakamura beating Rusev for the United States Title due to Rusev accidentally knocking his wife Lana off the apron and she was grabbing her ankle. Nakamura hit a Kinshasa on Rusev to win the US Title again, so Rusev’s title reign was one month of nothing.
Finn Balor was shown backstage getting ready. The locker room of Brock Lesnar was shown with Paul Heyman walking in to talk to his client.
Beth Phoenix was announced as a guest commentator for the women’s Royal Rumble match, which is up next. The announcers for the women’s Rumble are Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Renee Young and Beth Phoenix.
Lacey Evans made her entrance as #1 in the women’s Royal Rumble. She did a promo saying she is the one and only true lady of WWE. Evans said that she’s there to clean up the entire women’s division. Natalya was up next as #2 in the Rumble match.
30-Woman Royal Rumble Match
Evans and Natalya started the match with Evans nearly getting eliminated, but she held on to prevent it. Evans worked over Natalya by the turnbuckle and Natalya hit headscissors followed by a clothesline. Mandy Rose is in at #3, which drew a nice reaction from the crowd along with Graves…and me. She’s great. Rose went into the ring with a running clothesline and a jumping knee to the face. Natalya came back by slamming Mandy onto Evans. Natalya grabbed both women and slapped on the Sharpshooter on both women at the same time. Liv Morgan is #4 as she skipped down to the ring. Morgan charged at Natalya and Natalya gave her a back body drop over the top to the floor. Morgan was only in the match for a few seconds. Evans and Rose worked together briefly, but Evans yanked her down by the hair. Evans attacked both women against the ropes. It’s Mickie James at #5, who of course is one of my favorites. James went into the ring with clotheslines for all three women. James with punches on Evans followed by a neckbreaker. Natalya wanted a German Suplex, but James got out of it with a spin kick. Rose sent James into the turnbuckle and James tried a headscissors by the ropes. James and Rose each were nearly eliminated, but they both held on.
It’s Ember Moon at #6 as the other four women paired off in corners. Moon hit a springboard cross body block to take out James and Natalya. Front suplex by Moon on Evans. Running splash by Moon on Rose and she tried to toss her, but Rose held on. James tried to get rid of Moon, who managed to hold on. The five women just stood in the corners trying for eliminations. Billie Kay of the Iiconics is #7 in the match. Kay stayed on the floor instead of going into the ring right away. She said she wants to wait. Kay told the announcers she’s waiting for Peyton Royce. The five women in the ring just teased some elimination spots, but nobody was thrown out. Nikki Cross is #8 and she got a nice ovation as she ran down to the ring. Cross shoved Kay into the barricade. Cross went up top and hit a cross body block on the five women in the ring that were there waiting for her, which was so nice of them. Cross hit forearms on the women in the ring and she nearly tossed Evans, but she held on. Cross hit a neckbreaker on Moon. Cross hit a bulldog on James. Rose grabbed Cross by the hair and Cross hit a reverse DDT on her. Kay finally went into the ring for revenge, but Cross took her down by the hair. There were seven women the ring. Peyton Royce is #9 to join her buddy Billie Kay and Rosey hit a senton slam onto Cross to save Kay. Royce hit a spin kick on Cross while Kay held Cross. Moon with a headscissors on Royce. Kay and Royce stomped away on Moon. Phoenix had a funny question asking Graves if he’s watching anybody other than Mandy Rose. Tamina is #10 as she slowly walked down to the ring to no reaction as the ninth woman in the match. Tamina with a headbutt on James, Samoan Drop on Moon, Samoan Drop by Tamina on Royce and a Samoan Drop on Kay as well. Cross with a forearm on Tamina and a dropkick followed by a tackle that sent Tamina through the ropes, but not over the top. Tamina went back in with a superkick. James nearly eliminated Tamina, but Tamina was on the apron. Tamina went up top and hit a Superfly Splash on Cross. James went up top and hit a seated senton on Tamina. James was sent to the apron and Tamina kicked her to eliminate her because James went over to the top. The clock ticked down for the next entrant.
It’s Xia Li at #11. She’s from NXT and she was in the Mae Young Classic. I don’t think anybody had her being in the match. Li was on fire with kicks for everybody including an impressive spin kick on Evans. Tamina went after Li, which led to Li avoiding an attack and hit a spin kick to take out Tamina. Sarah Logan of the Riott Squad is next at #12 with a running knee attack on Natalya. Logan slammed Moon off her shoulders and into the mat. Logan tossed Moon to the apron, knee to the face and Moon used the tips of her boots to save herself on the bottom rope. The Iiconics double teamed Cross and eliminated her. Evans put Royce onto the top rope, but she couldn’t eliminate her. Charlotte Flair is #13 as one of the favorites in the match. Flair was attacked by the other women as soon as she got in there, but Flair was ready for it as she slammed Evans and Moon. The duo of Royce and Kay were eliminated at the same time and I think it was because of Evans, but it wasn’t really shown other than the landing. Flair sent Li to the apron and eliminated her with a boot to the head. Good bump by Li to the floor. Tamina hit a superkick to stun Flair. It’s former NXT Champion Kairi Sane at #14, who makes sense as a surprise entrant. Flair managed to clothesline Tamina over the top to the floor. Sane entered the match with a clothesline off the top onto Logan. Sane unloaded on Flair with chops, so Flair came back at her with chops as well. Evans hit Flair in the back with a double axe. Natalya slammed Logan down. Sane went up top and hit the awesome Insane Elbow to a good pop from the crowd. Natalya picked up Logan and Sane helped Natalya eliminate Logan. Nataly kicked Logan so it was a brief alliance. Maria Kanellis was next up at #15 and she barely wrestles anymore in WWE, but there she is. Flair and Evans got into a staredown, Maria asked them to pay attention to her and Maria hit a bulldog on Flair and Evans at the same time. Maria hit an X-Factor on Moon. Maria teased a corner attack and Flair hit a Spear on Maria. Evans sent Flair into the turnbuckle as the two tall blondes battled in the corner.
The second half of the match began with Naomi as #16 and she ran down to the ring instead of doing her full entrance. Naomi went right after Rose with a jawbreaker. Naomi sent Rose to the apron, kicked her in the head and Rose was eliminated. Moon kicked Naomi on the apron, Rose tried to slam Naomi down and Naomi did a handstand to try to avoid elimination. Naomi climbed onto the barricade, she walked across it and jumped onto the steps. Rose went over to Naomi and pulled her off the steps, which eliminated Naomi. That meant Naomi was only in the match for about one minute. Flair eliminated Evans with a boot to the face, so Evans was in the match for about 30 minutes. Candice Lerae from NXT was up next at #17. Lerae with a missile dropkick on Moon. Jawbreaker by Evans on Moon. Lerae went after Moon with Moon hitting a gutbuster knee to the ribs of Lerae. Natalya hit a Powerbomb on Flair. Alicia Fox is #18 and there were seven women in the match. When Fox went into the ring, she kicked three of the women right away. Maria convinced Fox that they were friends, so they focused on Sane with Fox hitting a dropkick. Maria hit a DDT on Sane. Maria grabbed the Fox crown, then Fox put the crown on Maria and Maria stomped on the crown. Fox did a flip bump followed by a temper tantrum. Fox sent Maria into the turnbuckle. That was a lame sequence. Fox sent Maria over the top to the apron and Fox hit a dropkick to knock Maria off the apron. Kacy Catanzaro is #19 and she’s from NXT as well as well as the show American Ninja Warrior. Natalya picked up Catanzaro, but Catanzaro took her down with a headscissors takedown. Catanzaro nearly eliminated Fox, but Fox held on. Fox hit a backbreaker on Catanzaro. It’s Zelina Vega at #20 and I believe she is the smallest woman in the match. Vega got into Lerae’s face leading to a face to face confrontation and Lerae slapped Vega. Dropkick by Lerae sent Vega into the turnbuckle. There wasn’t much going on as the women were paired off in corners. Natalya has been in the match for nearly 40 minutes.
It is Ruby Riott at #21 with her buddies Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan by her side. They went after Flair on the floor. She was not eliminated because she was sent out without going over the top. The Riott Squad pulled Fox out of the ring, they beat her up a bit, then sent her back in and Riott eliminated Fox. Lerae was on the apron, so Logan and Morgan slammed her into the barricade. Riott tossed out Lerae. Meanwhile, Vega hid under the ring without the women seeing her. Dana Brooke is #22 with a sitout Powerbomb on Catanzaro that looked like a rough landing onto the tailbone of Catanzaro. Morgan and Logan pulled Brooke out of the ring. Sane went for a headscissors on Riott, but Riott held on and tossed Sane over the top to the floor. That was a rough landing for Sane as she flipped over the top and landed hard. Io Shirai of NXT is #23 and she’s the best friend of Sane, so she ran down to the ring to save her friend. Shirai with a dropkick to take out the Riott Squad and Shirai kicked Riott down. Shirai went to the turnbuckle and hit a perfect moonsault onto the three Riott Squad members on the floor. Shirai nearly eliminated Riott, but they held on and battled on the apron. Rhea Ripley is #24 and she’s from the NXT UK brand. Ripley is a talented younger wrestler with a bright future. Brooke tried to eliminate Catanzaro with a slam onto the floor, but Catanzaro’s feet didn’t touch the floor. Catanzaro crawled to the barricade, then went to the ring post and climbed her way back in. That was cool. Ripley and Catanzaro had an exchange with Ripley launching Catanzaro over the top to the floor. Sonya Deville is #25 with a bit of a flurry, but she didn’t do much. Brooke hit a cartwheel elbow on Ripley. Ripley sent Brooke onto the apron and kicked her to eliminate her. Vega was under the ring laughing at Brooke and Hornswoggle showed up from under the ring, which led to a big pop from the crowd. Vega went into the ring, Ripley picked her up and Ripley tossed Vega out of the ring. Hornswoggle chased after Vega up the aisle, so that was the end of that story.
Alexa Bliss is #26 as we get into the final five entrants. Flair got a hold of Bliss and she went for a Powerbomb, but Bliss countered into a sunset flip Powerbomb. Deville went after Bliss with a kick to the ribs, Bliss lifted Deville to the apron and Bliss decked Deville with a punch to eliminate her. Deville didn’t get to do much in the match. Bayley is #27 and she ran down to the ring while fans were prepared with “Hugger Section” signs facing the camera. Bayley cleaned house with clothesline and punches. Riott drove Bayley into the turnbuckle, but Bayley grabbed her and clotheslined Riott over the top to the floor. Bayley gave Ripley a back body drop over the top to the floor. That was a big elimination. Lana’s music hit at #28, but she had a heavily taped left ankle. Lana slowly tried to limp down to the ring. Lana stopped herself and knew she couldn’t go because she was favoring the left leg injury. The medical staff checked on Lana, so she was not in the match. There wasn’t much going on in the ring as the clock counted down for #29 Nia Jax. Jax attacked Lana in the aisle, which was really cheap, so it got good heat from the crowd. When Jax went into the ring, she predictably cleaned house while Phillips noted Natalya has been in the ring for 55 minutes. Shirai went for a moonsault on Jax, but Jax caught her and tossed Shirai out of the ring to eliminate her. Jax tossed Natalya out, so Phillips noted Natalya was in the match for 55:58 as the Ironwoman in this match. Carmella is #30, which we already knew because of the Mixed Match Challenge finals that allowed her to earn that spot. Carmella had on some Phoenix Suns colors. Carmella with a headscissors takedown. Carmella with a dropkick and Jax took her down with a running body attack.
Here comes Becky Lynch. She went up to Finlay, who was checking on Lana and she wanted to be in the match. The fans chanted “Becky” for her. Finlay said it was okay and she joined the match unofficially as #28. I think they should have had Triple H, Vince, Shane or Stephanie there because we were told they were the people in charge, so if one of them told Becky to join the match then it’s more official. Maybe WWE will use this as an angle. I don’t know.
Lynch entered the ring and got into a slugfest with Jax. The crowd was going crazy as Lynch unloaded on Jax with punches. Flair tried to eliminate Lynch, but Lynch saved herself and took down Flair with punches. Jax nearly eliminated Lynch, but Lynch kicked Jax and Jax hit a Samoan Drop on Flair. Lynch up top and she hit a missile dropkick on Jax. Bliss and Moon battled by the ropes with both women going over the top to the apron. Bliss put her foot on Moon’s throat and did a sweep the leg to knock down Moon on the apron to eliminate her. Carmella with a bronco buster to Bliss. Carmella with a slap to Bliss, then a superkick by Carmella to Bliss and Bayley gave Bliss a Buckle Bomb into the turnbuckle. Bayley and Carmella worked together to eliminate Bliss. Jax hit a double clothesline on Bayley and Carmella. Jax teased a punch to Lynch, so Flair kicked Jax and Bayley hit an elbow drop off the ropes on Jax. Flair launched Bayley across the ring with a suplex and Carmella did a hair whip on Charlotte. Carmella up top with a cross body block on Flair, but Flair held on and hit a backbreaker. Flair went to the turnbuckle, Carmella tried to take her out with a headscissors, but Flair put her on the apron and Carmella got back in after a kick. Flair sent Carmella onto the apron and Flair hit a big boot to eliminate Carmella. Bayley nearly eliminated Flair.
Final four women are Charlotte Flair, Bayley, Nia Jax and Becky Lynch.
Bayley got in some offense, but she couldn’t get an elimination. Jax put Bayley on her shoulders and Flair kicked Bayley out of the ring to eliminate her.
The final three Flair, Jax and Lynch had a staredown as the crowd made some noise in anticipation. Lynch was sent out of the ring, but not eliminated. Flair kicked Jax repeatedly and Flair picked up Jax for a slam, but she couldn’t hit her with a move. Flair lifted Jax over the top to the apron right where Lynch was and Lynch pulled Jax off the apron to eliminate her.
Lynch slowly walked onto the steps right in front of Jax, so Jax shoved Lynch down and Lynch was favoring her left knee. Referees checked on Lynch on the floor. At first, Lynch grabbed her right knee and then changed to the left knee. Normally the working injury knee is the left knee. Flair was in the ring smiling at the sight of Lynch looking like she was hurt. Lynch limped into the ring and said that she can go, so she told Flair to fight her. Flair hit a shoulder tackle to the left knee. Flair hit a knee drop onto the left leg of Lynch. Flair put Lynch up against the turnbuckle and kicked the left knee. Flair tried to eliminate Lynch, but she couldn’t and Lynch hit an enziguri kick to the head. Lynch tossed Flair over the top to the apron, but Flair held on and kicked the leg. Flair hit an overhead suplex on Lynch. Flair went for a kick, Lynch ducked, Flair to the apron and Lynch hit a forearm to Flair on the apron to eliminate Flair. The match went 72:00.
Winner: Becky Lynch
ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Natalya at 56:01.
Most Eliminations: Charlotte Flair with 5.
Best Performers (3): Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Natalya.
Analysis: ***1/4 I thought it was a good Royal Rumble with the final sequence really standing out. I watched it twice now and I liked it less the second time, so I lowered my initial rating a bit. The first half was boring at times, but when you end strong, that’s what matters. The women at the end did such a great job of telling a story with Lynch taking Lana’s spot and ultimately finding a way to get the job done. Some more thoughts point form style:
– It was interesting how they didn’t bring back some women from the past and instead chose to feature NXT stars. Some of them looked like they belonged just fine while others looked like they were out of place a bit.
– Going 72 minutes felt like it was too long. Cut it down a bit and it would have been better.
– I’m happy Natalya was the one that lasted the longest by staying in there for nearly one hour. It’s smart to have a veteran like Natalya because she is a leader in the division that was easy for everybody to work with. Flair was in there for a long time as well.
– The final three sequence of Lynch, Flair and Jax was the right call. The way Jax was eliminated was pretty clever even if it was cheap by the babyface Lynch. It fit the storyline.
– I’m happy about the Lynch win. I’m sure the majority of you reading this are happy too and that’s a great thing. Becky is easy to root for while the fans love her, so it’s the right call by WWE. She’s a great choice. I said all along that it would be her or Flair and I still think we’ll get Rousey vs. Flair vs. Lynch at WrestleMania. Maybe Flair gets the Smackdown Women’s Title from Asuka and Lynch chooses to challenge both women. I don’t know how it’s going to go, but Rousey vs. Lynch vs. Flair remains the plan as far as I know.
(I remember picking Charlotte to win this because Becky wasn’t officially in the match to begin, but then they did the angle with the Lana injury to put Lynch in the match and that made Lynch the obvious winner at that point. I thought Lynch made a mistake towards the finish by selling the right leg initially and then selling the left leg after that, so that’s something that hurt a little bit. As you can see there, the Rousey vs. Lynch vs. Flair plan was already known by this point and that’s what ended up happening.)
The crowd exploded as Lynch was announced as the winner of the match. Lynch pointed at a WrestleMania graphic that was displayed on the screen in the background. The camera stayed on Lynch for about two minutes as she celebrated the win. No replays of the key spots.
A video let us know that WrestleMania is 70 days away.
The video package aired for the WWE Title match with Daniel Bryan facing AJ Styles.
AJ Styles made his entrance first as the challenger. Good pop for him as usual. Daniel Bryan was up last as the WWE Champion looking confident as always. They stood in the ring for announcer Greg Hamilton to announce them.
WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles
There was a feeling out process to start the match with Bryan trying to create some pace as the heel in the match. Styles whipped Bryan into the ropes leading to a back body drop. They did a spot where Styles charged, then Bryan grabbed him and launched Styles shoulder first into the ring post. Bryan drove Styles’ left shoulder/arm into the steel ring post. Back in the ring, Bryan with a hard kick to left arm followed by the stomp to the left arm. Bryan hit a double underhook slam into an armbar on the injured left arm of Styles and they rolled to the ropes. The crowd was quiet at the start of this match likely due to the cheering they did for Becky Lynch in the women’s Rumble match. Bryan worked over Styles with punches to the face. Styles got some momentum going with punches to the face followed by a dropkick and a leaping clothesline. Styles with a backbreaker and a neckbreaker for a two count. They went into a sequence where each guy got two nearfalls. Styles hit a dragon screw leg whip to take down Bryan by the left knee and then another takedown on the left knee. Bryan came back with a drop toe hold that sent Styles into the middle turnbuckle. Bryan hit a Dragon Suplex that led to a rough landing on the back of the neck of Styles. They battled by the turnbuckle with Styles thinking about a Styles Clash, but Bryan kicked him away. They went to the floor with Styles hitting a moonsault off the apron into a reverse DDT on the floor. That drew the biggest reaction of the match because it’s such a cool move.
Styles sent Bryan back into the ring. Styles went for a springboard 450 Splash, but Bryan got the knees up to block. Bryan was grabbing his left leg to sell the injury and Bryan slapped on the LeBell Lock submission move on the left arm of Styles. Bryan yelled at Styles to tap, but Styles powered out of it and went for the Calf Crusher on the left knee of Bryan. Styles pulled back on the knee of Bryan, but Bryan managed to get to the ropes. They got back up to their feet with Bryan hitting an enziguri kick to the head. The crowd got into it a bit more with chants for both guys. Bryan worked over Styles with several kicks to the left arm. Styles tried to fight back, but Bryan kicked him in the head again. Bryan stomped away on Styles and then Bryan favored his own left leg. Bryan went up top, Styles went after him and Bryan sent Styles groin first into the top turnbuckle. Styles took a lot of moves to the groin last year. Bryan stood up with Bryan on the top rope with Bryan wanting a suplex, but Styles landed on his feet and he got a two count on Bryan. Styles slapped on the Calf Crusher submission on Bryan again, but Bryan managed to get out of it. They fought over a backslide and Styles hit a brainbuster. When Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm, Bryan kicked the left hand of Styles to stop that. Styles knocked Bryan back down. Styles went for the springboard attack, but Bryan kicked the left arm again. Styles with a Pele Kick to knock down Bryan again. Both guys were down as Erick Rowan went down to ringside. They dropped the “Erick” from his name before, but Graves called him Erick again. They did a ref bump spot and Styles hit a Styles Clash on Bryan. Rowan went into the ring, picked up Styles and hit a Chokeslam on him. Bryan rolled over to Styles and covered for the pinfall win at 24:35.
Winner by pinfall: Daniel Bryan
Analysis: **3/4 That was such a hard match to rate because technically they did a good job, but the crowd was dead for most of it. That’s not a good sign when it’s a WWE Title match. I liked the psychology of Bryan working over AJ’s left knee and then Styles working over the left leg. It just didn’t connect with this crowd likely because it was tough to follow the women’s Rumble. I think WWE made a mistake by booking just a regular match for them here when it should have been a street fight or something that made it feel different than a regular match. That’s something I wrote repeatedly in my Smackdown reviews in the last month, yet we still got a regular match. I also think going 24 minutes was too long. Shave off 5-7 minutes and it would have helped a lot. The win by Bryan was expected although I didn’t predict he would have help. It fits his character as a heel champion.
Post match, Rowan held up Styles and Bryan hit a running knee to the face of Styles. Bryan posed with Rowan.
(It’s weird to think that two of the best wrestlers of the last 20 years Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles could have 20+ minute match that doesn’t hit three stars at least, but it’s true. This match wasn’t like the classic match they had on Smackdown in June 2020, that’s for sure. It was a way to further Bryan’s heel run as champion while introducing Erick Rowan as an ally to give Bryan help as the champion. At this point, it wasn’t clear who Bryan was going to face two months later at WrestleMania. Kofi Kingston didn’t seem like a viable choice, but that’s what ended up happening.)
Analysis: It’s a new alliance to bring Rowan back into the mix, so maybe the Bludgeon Brothers duo is finished or perhaps Harper will join Rowan when he comes back. It’s a good idea because it gives Bryan some backup for his rants as the champion. Bryan was also briefly in the Wyatt Family with Rowan about five years ago, so that could be mentioned too. Perhaps Rowan is a “believer” of Bryan’s “Planet’s Champion” gimmick.
A commercial aired for the WWE 24 documentary about WrestleMania: New Orleans that airs on WWE Network.
A commercial aired for Halftime Heat next week featuring an NXT Tag Team match on WWE Network: Ricochet, Velveteen Dream and Aleister Black vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano. That should be great.
They showed a clip from NXT Takeover Phoenix with the brawl that aired after the show to set up this tag team match.
The video package aired to set up the Universal Championship match with Brock Lesnar as Goliath facing Finn Balor as David. It’s the classic big man vs. smaller man story.
— WWE (@WWE) January 28, 2019
Finn Balor made his entrance and the crowd posed at the right time during his entrance. Balor was dressed in his regular gear. No “Demon” look for him even though it’s a major championship match, so I guess that part of his character is done for now. Brock Lesnar was up next with his advocate Paul Heyman by his side.
Lesnar and Balor stood in the ring as announcer Mike Rome introduced Balor. Heyman took the microphone from Rome to introduce Lesnar like he usually does.
Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs Finn Balor
The bell rang with Balor attacking right away in a manner that surprised Lesnar. Balor connected with several dropkicks and a double foot stomp to the back. Lesnar hit a belly to belly suplex that sent Balor across the ring. Lesnar went after Balor on the floor and hit a belly to belly suplex on the floor. Lesnar picked up Balor and teased a slam through the announce table, but Balor shoved Lesnar into the corner of the announce table two times. Lesnar came back with a knee to the ribs while Lesnar was grabbing his ribs. Back in the ring, Lesnar tossed Balor into the turnbuckle. Lesnar with a belly to belly suplex that sent Balor across the ring. Balor tried to charge in leading to Lesnar hitting a clothesline. Lesnar kept on selling the rib/side injury. Lesnar picked up Balor and I think he said “shit” because they muted it. When Lesnar tried to pick up Balor, he couldn’t lift him because he was hurting. Lesnar wanted an F5, but Balor countered into a DDT for a two count. Balor stomped away on the injured midsection of Lesnar and a double stomp to the ribs. Balor with a dropkick that sent Lesnar down on the floor. Balor with a somersault dive over the top onto Lesnar on the floor two times. Good job by Lesnar moving into it the first time to make sure he broke the fall. Balor went for a third somersault dive and he took out Lesnar on the floor. The crowd was really into it as they cheered loudly for Balor. When Lesnar was sent back into the ring, Balor went up top and hit the Coup de Grace double foot stomp to the stomach of Lesnar for a two count as Lesnar kicked out. Lesnar slapped on a Kimura Lock submission on the left arm of Balor and Balor tapped out to give Lesnar the win at 8:40.
Winner by submission: Brock Lesnar
Analysis: ***1/2 I enjoyed that match a lot. It felt like a sprint kind of match where they went at a fast pace because it was on the short side and that meant they could go right into some exciting spots. The start was great with Balor moving quickly and Lesnar had a tough time stopping him. When Balor hit the somersault dives onto Lesnar it looked like he could win the match. I didn’t really think he was going to win, but at least he looked competitive. The finish was a bit of a surprise with the Coup de Grace leading to the Kimura Lock for the win. I thought Balor would get to the ropes, but I’m okay with how it ended. Lesnar did a great job of selling. I know some people hate Lesnar because of his push and that’s understandable although when you look at his performance, he did very well here. Balor did awesome as well.
(This was a good match that was full of action. I actually forgot that it was under ten minutes, but in watching it again I get why they did it that way to make it a more exciting match. When Lesnar faced other smaller guys like Bryan and Styles in matches, the matches were a lot longer than this. I don’t think it hurt too much. Lesnar winning without the F5 was interesting and also showed he can win in other ways.)
After the match was over, Lesnar hit Balor with two German Suplexes. The announcers did a good job of saying that Lesnar was attacking Balor because Balor hurt Lesnar. Lesnar posed with the Universal Championship and the fans booed him. Lesnar picked up Balor and hit the F5 to lay out Balor one more time.
(I think this was just done to get heat on Lesnar for doing a cheap attack. Nothing more than that.)
Analysis: It could lead to another match with them, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen since the WrestleMania plan is likely Lesnar vs. Rollins. If they were to do this again then maybe have Balor in the “Demon” gear and perhaps that could lead to him winning.
The 30-Man Royal Rumble match is next. The duo of Jerry Lawler and John Bradshaw Layfield were introduced as guest commentators for this match. They were joining Michael Cole and Corey Graves.
Elias is #1 in the Royal Rumble. He spouted his catchphrases with the crowd chanting along right on cue. When Elias was about to start the song, he was interrupted by #2 in the match…WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett did a promo spelling his name out like he loves to do. Elias figured that Jarrett was out there to sing a duet with him. When they were about to sing, Elias attacked Jarrett from behind.
Analysis: This took a few minutes and I was bored by it mainly because I knew we had another hour-long match to sit through in this very long show.
30-Man Royal Rumble Match
Elias the #1 entrant attacked the #2 entrant Jeff Jarrett with punches and Elias hit a lefty clothesline. The match started at 10:55pmET. Elias grabbed a guitar and hit Jarrett in the back with it. Elias dumped Jarrett over the top to the floor. Shinsuke Nakamura, the US Champion, is #3 in the match. He was not originally announced for the match, but they included him likely because he was last year’s winner. Elias did a rope walk spot as if he was The Undertaker and he tossed Nakamura across the ring. Clothesline by Elias, but Nakamura held on to avoid elimination. Kurt Angle is #4 and he got a big ovation as the 50-year-old Hall of Famer ran down to the ring. Angle with a German Suplex on Elias, a German Suplex on Nakamura and belly to belly suplexes by Angle on both guys. Big E of the New Day is #5 and he tossed pancakes into the crowd. Big E entered the ring with two belly to belly suplexes to Nakamura and a side belly to belly slam. Big E ran the ropes with a running splash on Nakamura. Angle went up to Big E and gave him an Angle Slam. Nakamura went behind Angle and whipped him into the ring post. Nakamura put Angle on the top rope, knee to the ribs and a knee to the head by Nakamura got rid of Angle, which led to boos.
There’s a nice surprise at #6 with NXT’s Johnny Gargano, who had a five-star match (in my opinion) with Ricochet at Takeover Phoenix on Saturday. He’s a heel in NXT, but he got a big ovation because he’s a great performer. Gargano hit a DDT on Big E. Gargano hit a slingshot shoulder tackle on Elias. Jinder Mahal is #7 to no reaction. Mahal with a body slam on Gargano, knee to Big E and a kick to Elias. Mahal with a powerslam attempt, Gargano slipped out and Gargano sent Mahal to the apron. Gargano kicked Mahal two times to eliminate him. The Singh Brothers went into the ring, so Elias tossed Sunil out of the ring. Big E stuffed pancakes into Samir’s mouth and hit a Big Ending slam to get rid of him. Samoa Joe is #8 as he walked down to the ring with an intense look on his face. Joe went into the ring and took everybody down easily. Joe got into a battle with fellow big man Big E and launched him over the top to eliminate him. Curt Hawkins is #9 with Cole noting he’s on a 256-match losing streak. There was not much of a reaction for him. Hawkins bailed to the floor, then he went into the ring and punched Joe in the back followed by Hawkins going out of the ring. Hawkins stomped on Gargano as the fans chanted “Let’s go Hawkins” so maybe they did care. Joe put a Coquina Clutch on Hawkins, Elias punched Joe in the back and Hawkins crawled under the ring. Seth Rollins is #10 and he’s my pick to win the match. Big pop for him from the crowd since he’s one of the most popular guys in the match. Rollins sent Elias onto the apron and Elias held onto the steel ring post, so Rollins hit his hands to eliminate him. Rollins battled with Gargano, which would be an amazing match.
Titus O’Neil is #11 and the announcers were going crazy about his epic slide in the Greatest Royal Rumble last year. O’Neil ran to the ring and he stopped as he got to ringside. The fans cheered as O’Neil did not slip on his way to the ring. Hawkins appeared under the ring, so O’Neil went under the ring to chase him. O’Neil charged at Hawkins in the ring, Hawkins ducked and O’Neil was eliminated. Joe eliminated Hawkins right after. Kofi Kingston is #12 as the announcers talked about his many memorable near elimination spots. Kingston hit a clothesline off the top as he got into the ring. Mustafa Ali is #13 as he went after Joe right away since they’ve had a rivalry on Smackdown. Ali with a facebuster on Joe. Nakamura battled with Ali which led to kick to the head by Nakamura and Ali eliminated Nakamura with a dropkick while Nakamura was seated on the top rope. That could be a US Title feud with Ali challenging Nakamura. Ali with a Tornado DDT on Gargano and Joe hit a belly to belly suplex that sent Ali into the turnbuckle. Dean Ambrose is #14 and he got into a slugfest with Seth Rollins right away. Ambrose nearly eliminated Kingston, but Kingston managed to keep his second foot from hitting the floor. Kingston put his feet against the side of the ring, then got to the steps and avoided being eliminated. Kingston hit a leaping DDT on Ambrose. Gargano went after Ambrose, who hit him with a DDT and Ambrose tossed Gargano out of the match. Kingston hit a Trouble in Paradise kick on Ambrose. No Way Jose made his entrance as #15 with the conga line joining him at ringside. When Jose got into the ring, Joe hit a clothesline on him. Jose was eliminated in about two seconds. The music started again and Jose danced his way to the back. What a boring waste of a Rumble spot.
It’s Drew McIntyre at #16 and he gave Jose the Glasgow Kiss headbutt to put him down. Drew beat up other guys in the conga line. McIntyre entered the ring the Claymore Kick for Rollins and Claymore Kick for Ambrose. After a bit of a slugfest, McIntyre hit a Claymore Kick on Joe as well. Xavier Woods is #17 to join his New Day buddy Kofi Kingston in the match. Kofi was on the apron and he got knocked off, but Woods saved his buddy by putting Kingston on his back. That led to Woods putting Kingston onto the steel steps. Cole had a funny joke saying he remembers JBL and Ron Simmons doing that. When Woods and Kingston entered the match, McIntyre eliminated both. That meant Woods was only in the ring for about five seconds. Pete Dunne, the UK Champion, is #18 in his first Rumble. Dunne hit a kick to the head of Ali, a kick to the head of Joe and Dunne stomped on the elbow of McIntyre. Dunne suplexed Ali onto McIntyre. Dunne tossed Ali to the apron, but Ali held on to avoid elimination. Andrade is #19 and he went after Dunne with an incredible counter into a DDT for a two count. Andrade went after Ambrose against the turnbuckle and not much happened there. Apollo Crews is #20 with Cole trying to put him over as a sleeper kick. Crews went into the ring with a lot of enthusiasm, but the crowd barely reacted to him. McIntyre was nearly eliminated with Rollins going after him and McIntyre managed to save himself.
There’s another NXT name as Aleister Black entered at #21 with the crowd chanting “NXT” for him. Black was an NXT name that I expected in the match. Black hit a moonsault to take out two guys. Black with a kick to McIntyre. Ali went for a leaping attack, but Black decked him with a kick. Black nailed Ambrose with a Black Mass kick and that led to Ambrose bumping over the top to the floor to eliminate him. Joe hit Black with a powerslam. Shelton Benjamin is #22 leading to a Benjamin spin kick on Crews. Benjamin avoided elimination when Dunne went after him and Benjamin hit Paydirt on Dunne. Benjamin with a running knee to Joe and Ali dumped his rival Joe over the top to the floor. That’s another thing I predicted with Ali getting rid of Joe. Baron Corbin is #23 with a clothesline on Rollins. Corbin sent Crews to the apron for nothing and Corbin hit a Deep Six slam on Ali. Crews was still on the apron, so Corbin punched him out. That meant Apollo was on the apron for about 15 seconds instead of simply going back in the ring. Why was he there for so long? Odd. Jeff Hardy entered as #24 to a pretty big reaction from the crowd. Hardy hit a double leg drop to Black’s ribs and a Twist of Fate by Hardy to Benjamin. Hardy went up top with a corkscrew body attack to take out three dudes. Black nailed Hardy with a kick to the head. Dunne stretched the fingers of Black, jumping kick by Dunne and a knee by Black on Dunne. Corbin grabbed Black and tossed him out, which drew huge boos. Dunne went after Corbin, McIntyre hit a Claymore Kick on Dunne and McIntyre dumped Dune out of the ring. Rey Mysterio is #25 to pick up the pace. Mysterio jumped on Corbin, who hit a backbreaker on Mysterio. Andrade stomped away on Mysterio and Andrade hit a sitout Powerbomb on Mysterio in the corner. No offense from Mysterio yet.
Bobby Lashley is #26 and he’s the Intercontinental Champion with Lio Rush by his side. Lashley with a belly to belly suplex on Rollins. Rollins sent Lashley over the top to the apron and Lashley let go, so Lashley was eliminated. Rush cleaned off an announce table and Lashley cleaned off another table. Lashley attacked Rollins on the announce tables by picking him up and hitting a Spinebuster that sent Rollins through the English announce table. There were referees that showed up at ringside to get Lashley out of there. Braun Strowman is #27 as a favorite to win the match. Strowman went into the ring, he choked Corbin, one punch from Strowman and a clothesline sent Corbin out of the ring to get rid of him. Strowman eliminated Benjamin. Strowman eliminated Jeff Hardy. Dolph Ziggler is #28 and he wasn’t expected to be there, but there he is. Ziggler went after McIntyre and hit him with a superkick to eliminate McIntyre. That is earlier than I thought McIntyre would be eliminated. Randy Orton is #29. Strowman was waiting for Orton and hit him with a Powerslam. There was a spot by the ropes with Mysterio hitting a top rope attack on Andrade and Ali at the same time while Strowman put Mysterio on his shoulders. R-Truth was #30 and he was about to do his entrance, but Nia Jax showed up to attack. Jax beat up Truth, so she went into the ring to take his spot. Jax went into the ring to go after the guys with clotheslines, a leg drop, a headbutt by Jax on Ali and she put him on his back leading to Jax dumping Ali out of the ring.
Orton had a staredown with Jax as the fans were cheering at the sight of this. Orton wanted an RKO, but she avoided it and hit a shoulder tackle. Mysterio followed that with a 619 on Orton, but Jax caught Mysterio. Ziggler with a superkick on Jax, Mysterio dropkick to Jax, Mysterio with a 619 to Jax and Orton hit an RKO out of nowhere on Jax. Orton and Mysterio sent Jax to the apron and Mysterio kicked her out. Orton hit an RKO on Mysterio and dumped him over the top to eliminate him. Andrade followed that up by tossing Orton out.
The final four in the Royal Rumble are Dolph Ziggler and Andrade with Strowman and Rollins out on the floor.
Ziggler and Andrade got into a slugfest. Strowman went into the ring to take out both guys. Strowman with a running splash on Andrade and then a running splash on Ziggler on the other side. Rollins slowly got back to his feet, so Strowman left the ring and ran over him with a running shoulder tackle. Strowman sent Rollins back into the ring. Superkick by Ziggler to Strowman, Andrade double knees to Strowman, Zig Zag by Ziggler on Strowman. Rollins up top and he hit a Frog Splash on Strowman. When Strowman got back up, he managed to dump Andrade out easily.
Strowman put Rollins and Ziggler on the apron. Rollins held on. Strowman knocked Ziggler off the apron to get rid of Ziggler.
Rollins nearly eliminated Strowman, but Strowman held on. Rollins with a superkick and Strowman held onto the rope to stay alive. Strowman with a Chokeslam on Rollins to put him down. Strowman tried a Powerslam elimination of Rollins, but Rollins grabbed him in the headlock. They battled on the apron with Rollins sending Strowman into the ring post, Rollins with a kick and Rollins hit The Stomp on Strowman on the apron to eliminate him. The match went 57:35.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a solid Rumble that had the right guy going over, so I’m not going to complain about that. I didn’t love the way it was booked because of the story of Rollins on the floor for like 15-20 minutes. I get why they do it that way to build sympathy for the guy by making it look like he overcame a lot to win, but I don’t think it’s necessary. That’s a spot WWE does in regular matches occasionally. I don’t like it in a match like the Rumble. I think some of the comedy things they tried with the likes of Titus O’Neil and No Way Jose didn’t really work. I feel bad for some of the others that were barely in there. The NXT surprises were well done and they got some offense in, so I liked that. I think Aleister Black had a very good showing. Rollins and Strowman was fine for the final two since Strowman was dominant in the match. It reminds me of the way Kane/Big Show finished as runners up in the Rumble. I thought Drew McIntyre could have been at the end too because he was out earlier than I expected. I’m happy with the Rollins result, though, so it’s cool with me.
ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH FACTS & OPINIONS
Person that lasted the longest: Seth Rollins at 43:00.
Most Eliminations: Braun Strowman with 6.
Best Performers (3): Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre.
(Rollins was the obvious choice and the right choice. There wasn’t a point in the match where I thought it wasn’t going to be Rollins either. You could tell going into the show that WWE was positioning Rollins for this, then they booked him to be in the Rumble longer than anybody else and Seth found a way to win too. Braun Strowman did very well in the match as a runner up as well. As I noted above, it reminded me of how they used to book Kane and Big Show in Rumble matches where they made it near the end. Seth won and the crowd was happy for the guy.)
Rollins celebrated the win while looking up at the digital WrestleMania logo that appeared on a screen in the upper deck. Rollins had a surprised and happy look on his face. The fans cheered, but they were also tired and likely were ready to go home after such a long night. The Rollins celebration continued as Cole signed off nearly five hours after this show started.
Analysis: The plan is Lesnar vs. Rollins at WrestleMania. I hope that it ends with Rollins beating Lesnar for the Universal Title because it’s time for Rollins to win that prize.
(This was also around the time we found out that Rollins was dating Lynch. It was a big night for both of them as they won the Royal Rumble match on the same night. Over a year after that, Becky said she was pregnant and then in December 2020, the couple became parents to daughter Roux. It’s a cool story.)
This show had a run time of 4:40:19 on WWE Network.
It gets a 7 out of 10 from me.
I enjoyed the show. I’m also exhausted after writing over 10,000 words for five hours, so I don’t know what else to say here. I think five hours is too long. Four hours is fine. My favorite match was Becky/Asuka and I think the two Rumble matches were about the same with both of them having good finishes. I was most disappointed by Bryan/Styles. Lesnar’s win over Balor was fun and if they went another five minutes that would have been the best match.
Best Match: Asuka vs. Becky Lynch (**** out of 5)
Worst Match: Shane McMahon and The Miz vs. The Bar – Sheamus & Cesaro (**1/2)
Five Stars of the Show
1. Becky Lynch
2. Seth Rollins
4. Charlotte Flair
5. (tie) Brock Lesnar
5. (tie) Finn Balor
Check out the WWE Royal Rumble review archive right here.
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