The Road to WrestleMania officially got underway on a night that featured some tense bouts between some of the best WWE has to offer. With championship opportunities to be earned, 31 men and 29 women (we’ll get to that) took part in this year’s respective Royal Rumble matches that included some brilliant surprise returns and some moments that should have gone differently (we’ll get to that, I promise). Welcome to the most must-see SteelChair review in history; welcome to… The Royal Rumble Review!
– (Pre Show) Sheamus defeated Shorty G.
– (Pre Show) Andrade defeated Humberto Carrillo to retain the United States Championship.
– Roman Reigns defeated King Corbin in a Falls Count Anywhere Match.
– Charlotte Flair won the Women’s Royal Rumble.
– Bayley defeated Lacey Evans to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
– The Fiend Bray Wyatt defeated Daniel Bryan in a Strap Match to retain the Universal Championship.
– Becky Lynch defeated Asuka to retain the RAW Women’s Championship.
– Drew McIntyre won the Men’s Royal Rumble.
The only two matches during what was a 2-hour pre-show saw Sheamus make a triumphant return to singles competition running through Shorty G before Andrade successfully defended his United States Championship against Humberto Carrillo. Two matches, which really would have been better suited for a spot on this week’s RAW and SmackDown.
It was a typical feisty performance from the former Chad Gable who almost had Sheamus beat with an Ankle Lock towards the end of the match only for the Celtic Warrior to escape and smash the former Olympian with a Brogue Kick for the win.
In a similar underdog fashion, Humberto Carrillo put on his usual high-flying display to try and get around the US Champ. Despite his attempts, Andrade was typically ruthless and consistently resilient towards his opponent, doing everything he could to get the job done. In the end, El Idolo was able to roll through from a series of roll-ups to get the pin and retain his title.
The Full Show:
Opening the main slog of the PPV was the Falls Count Anywhere Match between the biggest of dogs Roman Reigns and the intruder in his yard King Corbin.
A rivalry that has been boiling up for months has seen their feud reach its hottest point so far as the action immediately found itself into the crowd. With heavy blows exchanged, the pair made their way to the international announce tables where the 2019 King of the Ring winner choke slammed Reigns onto the Spanish table only for him to kick-out and respond with a Samoan Drop to Corbin for a near-fall in return.
As expected, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode eventually got involved to attack Reigns, but the numbers would be evened out when The Usos came to take out Corbin’s buddies. These teams continued to fight in a production area whilst the two leaders of their respective packs moved onto another section of the arena.
After throwing Corbin around in a portable toilet, the pair made their way towards the dugout of Minute Maid Park where Roman was able to deliver a barrage of Superman Punches before Spearing Corbin off his feet on the top of the dugout for the win. An exciting match to get things started for the crowd and one feud which may still continue into the next month as Roode and Ziggler square off with The Usos.
The Women’s Royal Rumble
Now, I won’t even attempt to do a detailed analysis of this match as there’s too much mention. Instead, take a look at some of the key talking points from the third edition of the Women’s Royal Rumble match:
– Alexa Bliss and Bianca Belair started the match at number 1 and 2 respectively with the latter going on to be this year’s ironwoman, lasting more than 33 minutes in the match and being eliminated 16th.
– Lot’s of surprise entrants, plenty of these were NXT talent but big names and returns included Mighty Molly, Mercedez Martinez, Naomi, Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix, Kelly Kelly and… Santina Marella. Whilst some would have enjoyed this callback, it was a completely unnecessary moment, especially when Santino eliminated himself with the Cobra. That spot could have been filled by someone else. Like an actual female competitor maybe.
– Mandy Rose first avoided being eliminated by landing directly on top of love interest Otis who for some reason was lying prone on the far side of the ring. He again caught her later on in the match only for Sonya Deville to fall on top of them, eliminating them both.
– Lana finally made it into the Rumble after losing her place to Becky Lynch last year, but Liv Morgan would be the one to ensure the Ravishing Russian was the first elimination this year when the former Riott Squad member immediately charged to the ring at number 7. Lana would then make Morgan the second to be eliminated by pulling her out of the ring despite no longer being in the match.
– Shayna Baszler was the number 30 entrant and made 8 eliminations in less than 4 and a half minutes! That was the joint-most eliminations alongside Bianca Belair.
– Naomi leapt and clung onto the barricade to avoid being eliminated. She eventually managed to get back into the ring by using the cover from the announce table as a bridge to the ring steps before being eliminated for real by Shayna Baszler.
– Beth Phoenix cut the back of her head open and her blonde hair was covered in blood. Despite this, The Glamazon made it all the way until the final 4 where she eliminated Natalya before being thrown out by Shayna Baszler.
– The final four was Charlotte Flair, Shayna Baszler, Natalya and Beth Phoenix.
– Charlotte Flair was able to claim another title opportunity by winning the match after she eliminated Shayna Baszler whos incredible performance in less than 5 minutes had us all thinking this would be the year for the Queen of Spades.
Catch Your Breath
The wind was taken out of Lacey Evans and the crowds sails as the Sassy Southern Belle failed in her attempt to become SmackDown Women’s Champion when she took on Bayley.
Whilst things have been heating up in recent weeks, this match struggled a little with its pacing considering it had to follow up for a potentially deflated crowd. Bayley did display enough ruthlessness to get herself through the match and see off a spirited Evans, which may have been a tough result for the fans given the timeslot of the match could have done with a big result to pick everyone up again.
Bayley continues to try her best to convince viewers that she is a legit baddie but after years of playing so nice as a role model, she has more of a lukewarm feel when coming up against the red, white and blue mother and military figure of Lacey Evans. We will have to see where things go once Sasha Banks comes back into the picture.
Things began to heat up once again as Daniel Bryan got ready to strap himself to The Fiend in order to try and win the Universal Championship. Once this got underway, Wyatt’s demonic character immediately absorbed the Yes Man’s offence and smashed Bryan with a powerbomb before lashing away at his back with the strap that tied the two together.
As the welts began to appear on Bryan’s back, the host of the Firefly Fun House took a little too much pleasure in his opponent’s misfortune which allowed Bryan the time to get to his feet and launch a running knee and almost claim the win. The Fiend recovered and the two went on to have some incredible exchanges that saw them both utilise the strap to help them with their attacks.
A Sister Abigail and LeBell Lock were not enough for either man to put the other away as time drew on to find a winner of this intense affair. For all of The Planet’s Champions attempts, will and determination to destroy the monster of Bray Wyatt, it was not enough as Bryan went down fighting whilst The Fiend delivered the final blow with the Mandible Claw to retain The Universal Championship.
Bryan walks away from another match with Wyatt as a defeated man, but is he down and out? We’ll have to wait until Friday Night SmackDown to see.
The final Championship match of the night before the main event Men’s Rumble saw RAW Women’s Champion, Becky Lynch, determined to finally get one over her nemesis Asuka by retaining her title.
With Kairi Sane at ringside for the Empress of Tomorrow, Becky seemingly had her work cut out but got to work early on by taking the upper hand. Both women teased their submission finishers and focused their attacks on weakening each other’s limbs to free up any opportunity to lock-in what could be a decisive manoeuvre.
These two incredible performers had their opposite number well-scouted and soon began to demonstrate their array of offence to gain an advantage. At one point, Asuka kicked The Man so hard in her face that it looked as though the referee was going to force a stoppage only for the hard as nails Becky to refuse to give in.
As the match continued Asuka went to spray green mist into the eyes of Lynch, but her opponent knew exactly what was coming and kicked the Women’s Tag Team Champion in the stomach, releasing the mist into the air. This gave Becky her chance so she leapt into action and locked-in the Dis-Arm-Her to force Asuka to tap out and retain her RAW Women’s Championship. It looks as though Charlotte Flair awaits her!
Men’s Royal Rumble:
Just like with the women’s match, there were too many moments to detail them exactly so here are the best bits:
– We knew beforehand that WWE Champion Brock Lesnar was entering at number 1, but who would be number 2? Elias was the unfortunate “sacrificial lamb” to enter second and face Brock’s rage.
– Brock would claim the most eliminations as he took out 13 entrants one-by-one like something we have never seen before. This included Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston and Big E who’s joint efforts were not enough to overthrow Lesnar. There was also a very physical encounter with surprise entrant and NXT North American Champion Keith Lee, yet this didn’t last too long as his refusal to work alongside Bruan Strowman got them both eliminated by Brock before another surprise entrant, MVP, was quickly dispatched.
– Ricochet held on for dear life as Drew McIntyre also made his way into the match for a tense moment with The Beast. It finally took a low-blow to take Lesnar off guard which set up McIntrye for a huge Claymore Kick to eliminate the man that had so far dominated proceedings at 14th place, nearly halfway through the match.
– As the ring began to fill up for the first time in the match, Edge’s music hit and the Rated-R Superstar made his shocking return to the company 9 years after he retired from career-threatening injuries. He’d go on to last over 23 minutes, eliminate 3 people and link up with Randy Orton later in the match for Rated RKO nostalgia only to eliminate him towards the end of the contest.
– Matt Riddle was another surprise entrant who received a huge pop only to be unceremoniously dumped out by King Corbin who was more than happy to soak up the heat.
– Seth Rollins entered in at number 30 accompanied by AOP and Buddy Murphy. From the outside, AOP and Murphy helped him eliminate Aleister Black, Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe who began to brawl with the men on the outside.
– With Rollins all alone, he was left to take on his fate with four men he has plenty of history with. Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, Drew McIntyre and Edge all landed signature moves on The Monday Night Messiah before he was eventually booted out by McIntyre.
– The final four were McIntyre, Edge, Orton and Reigns.
– After Edge eliminated Orton, The Rated-R Superstar squared off with Reigns. As they battled over the top rope and on the apron, it was nail-bitingly close as to who would go next. Reigns eventually eliminated Edge to a chorus of boos which left him all alone with McIntyre. The Scottish Psychopath took a Superman Punch but battled on to deliver a devastating Claymore to Reigns and eliminate the Big Dog.
– Drew McIntyre’s own dominant performance had him see off 6 other men and was also this year’s ironman in the process with a time of over 34 minutes. An incredible match and superb display for the first-ever British winner of the Royal Rumble who will presumably go on to face the man he eliminated in the Rumble at WrestleMania for the WWE Championship!
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE.