It’s time to review what is easily my favourite show every year. Of course I am talking about the Royal Rumble. Along with the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches, the third biggest match on the show was Brock Lesnar versus Finn Balor, who is replacing Braun Stroman after Stroman angered Vince McMahon on RAW three weeks ago. On the Smackdown brand, AJ Styles was challenging for the WWE Championship against Daniel Bryan. Also, Asuka faced Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Let’s start with the pre-show matches.
Bobby Roode & Chad Gable vs. Rezar w/ Drake Maverick & Scott Dawson
At the analyst desk for the Royal Rumble Kickoff was Johnathan Coachman, Beth Phoenix, Booker T and Jerry Lawler. After 45 minutes of the pre-show, we had our first match. The match that kicked off the show was an odd one. Since Akam, one-half of The Authors of Pain is injured, he teams with Scott Dawson from The Revival for a tag match. I can only assume this is to remind people that AoP exists. There was some sort of stipulation announced that if Rezar and Dawson won they would both get title shots for their teams or something. Early on there seemed to be issues with the team of Rezar and Dawson as Rezar gave a shocked expression when he was involuntarily tagged out. Roode was on a roll late in the match, hitting a Blockbuster. Dawson pulled the tights during a roll-up but it didn’t help him. Rezar got hit with Dawson’s move by accident and then was taken out of the ring by both Roode and Gable. With the help of Roode, Gable hit a Moonsault on Dawson to end the match. This was a dumb match. Why bring back Rezar while his partner is injured just to lose? The finish didn’t feel like it was proper, and the bad chemistry between Rezar and Dawson existed but wasn’t really shown enough, especially at the end.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev (WWE United States Championship Match)
The first championship match of the show was Nakamura versus current champion, Rusev. During this match Nakamura wore a very red outfit. Rusev was dominant early on, clotheslining Nakamura out of the ring after a couple of suplexes. He then threw Nakamura towards the steel stairs, but Nakamura dodged it and came back with a kick. He threw Rusev into a barricade and then kneed him in the chest. Back in the ring, Rusev got hit with a knee in the corner for a two count. Rusev got himself back together and got on a roll. He landed a Spin Kick off the ropes for a two count after a combo of moves. They must have cut to Lana 20 times during this match. Nakamura escaped an Accolade attempt and landed some kicks. Was there a “kicks only” stipulation for this match that I missed? Rusev landed a Matchka Kick and than a slam move which got turned into an Armbar by Nakamura. Shinsuke turned the Armbar into a Triangle Choke, and then a Guillotine when Rusev tried escaping. Rusev landed a Suplex to finally escape. The pin attempt following it got a very close count. Nakamura went to the turnbuckle after a near fall and took off a pad. Lana got on the apron and tried to let the ref know. Nakamura got in her face, and Rusev tried to attack him during this. Shinsuke dodged Rusev, and hit Lana instead. This distracted Rusev, letting Nakamura hit a Kinshasa to win the match. This match could have cooled down on the kicks. It’s hard to tell if the crowd is quiet or they are just hard to hear.
Kalisto vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Hideo Itami vs. Buddy Murphy (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match)
The final pre-show match was a fatal-four-way for the Cruiserweight Championship. Early in the match there was a nice move where Tozawa dove to the outside and hit Kalisto, who Huricanrana’d Murphy. Later on Murphy did a dive onto all three opponents. Hanging off the second rope Murphy was hit with a Huricanrana and seemingly planted his head in the canvas. Murphy landed a Powerbomb onto Kalisto but Tozawa broke up the pin. Kalisto gave Itami a Salida del Sol for a two count. Murphy gave a good knee to Kalisto as he was coming off the ropes. After a combo of moves against Itami he hit Murphy’s Law for the win. This match had some good stuff in it, with a lot of impressive spots.
Becky Lynch vs. Asuka (WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Match)
Opening the PPV was Becky Lynch versus Asuka. Early on in the match Asuka was kicked off the apron, landing flat on the floor. Outside the ring Lynch did a Beckslpoder onto the barricade. Lynch went off the second rope and was hit with a knee. Asuka landed a close count after a hit attack. Asuka went off the top rope but Lynch avoided her, and then hit a Rock Bottom for a two count. Lynch fell into an Armbar and almost escaped but then got put in an Asuka Lock. Lynch rolled to the ropes to get out. Back on the apron, Asuka gave Becky some sort of Suplex onto the floor. Becky made it back into the ring before the ten count. They traded slaps in the ring until Asuka landed a spinning kick for a two count. The fight found its way onto the top rope, where Lynch landed a Super-Becksploder for a two count. Asuka dodged a Leg Drop off the top rope into an Asuka Lock. Lynch did a Disarmer and then turned it into an Asuka Lock of her own. Asuka got out and then did a kick. After a chain of moves Asuka did a Chokehold to retain. I thought Lynch would win, but she didn’t. This match had good moments but felt like it wasn’t always entertaining. Like I mentioned before the crowd sounded dead, which didn’t help this match.
The Miz & Shane McMahon vs. Sheamus & Cesaro (The Bar) (WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match)
The next match was for the Smackdown tag titles. Right off the bat Sheamus was caught off guard was Shane speared him. Outside the ring Cesaro was put on a commentary table for an Elbow drop but got out of it. Instead, Shane did an elbow drop to Sheamus, who was standing. Late in the match Shane got a hot tag and did a ton of moves, including his horrible punches. Shane was going to give both members of The Bar a Coast-To-Coast, but Cesaro caught him and did his spinning move. Shane put in a Triangle Choke which Sheamus broke up by going off the ropes. The Miz went after Sheamus but was given a Clothesline outside the ring. Sheamus got tagged in, and then the team did a Double Team move for a two count. Sheamus tried for a Brouge Kick but The Miz shoved Cesaro, letting him get hit with it. The Miz gave Sheamus a Skull Crushing Finale, and then Shane surprisingly hit a Shooting Star Press to win the match.
Sasha Banks vs. Ronda Rousey (WWE RAW Women’s Championship Match)
After the Smackdown Women’s Championship match started off the show, the RAW women’s title match was two matches later. Near the start the fight went to the outside where Ronda punched a ringpost because Sasha dodged a strike. Sasha landed a dive and then put Ronda back in the ring. After a Double Knees in the corner Sasha got a two count. After Ronda dodged another Double Knees she tried for a Pipers Pit which was turned into an Armbar. She turned it into a Banks Statement, which Rousey eventually got out of. Rousey landed a Pipers Pit. Rousey was really selling her injured arm from the ringpost spot. Rousey went to the top rope, and Banks went up to it as well. Banks landed a Superplex for a two count and then went right back into another arm move. Ronda did Judo Throws and then got thrown outside of the ring. Rousey put Banks in a move outside the ring after catching a dive. Banks tapped out of this but that didn’t matter since they were outside of the ring. Banks put Rousey in a Banks Statement and used part of her attire to choke Rousey. This was transitioned into an Armbar which Rousey escaped and turned into a Gutwrench Powerbomb. She then landed a Pipers Pit to win the match. This was a good match in my opinion. It’s wild to think that Rousey debuted at the Rumble a year ago and put on a match like this only a year after.
Women’s Royal Rumble Match
The first Royal Rumble match of the evening was the women’s one. Beth Phoenix was a guet commentator for this match. #1 Lacey Evans was the first entrant, starting against #2 Natalya. Evans did a promo before the match started. #3 Mandy Rose was the next entrant. Evans missed a Moonsault while Mandy was coming out. Natalya gave both of them a Sharpshooter. #4 Liv Morgan. Morgan charged at Natalya and was thrown out. Evans gave both Mandy and Natalya a Bronco Buster. #5 Mickie James. #6 Ember Moon. #7 Billie Kay. Kay refused to get in the ring once arriving. She told the English announcing team that she was waiting for Peyton Royce. #8 Nikki Cross. Cross attacked Kay at ringside and then did a Crossbody off the top onto everyone in the ring. #9 Peyton Royce. Royce went in and tried to aid Kay. They teamed up on Nikki Cross. #10 Tamina. Tamina gave Nikki Cross a Frogsplash.
#11 Xia Li. Mickie James was kicked off the apron and eliminated by Tamina. #12 Sarah Logan. Ember Moon resisted elimination by having her feet hung on the bottom ropes. Nikki Cross was taken out by The Iiconics. Cross came off as very weak in this match. #13 Charlotte Flair. Xia Li was taken out with a kick from Charlotte. #14 Kairi Sane. Sane gave Logan an InSane Elbow Drop. #15 Maria Kanellis. Kanellis was hit with a Spear from Charlotte after doing a dance or something. #16 Naomi. Naomi and Mandy fought early on since they are currently in that homewrecker story. On the apron Naomi kicked Rose and then shoved her to the floor. Naomi was almost taken out by Rose but got onto the barricade, and then jumped to the steel steps. Rose shoved her eventually, eliminating her anyways. Charlotte eliminated Lacey Evans. #17 Candice LeRae. #18 Alicia Fox. After Fox gave a few people dropkicks Maria Kanellis tried forming an alliance. This worked, as they both worked on Sane. Maria stomped on Alicia’s hat, which made her freak out. This was a comedy spot that fell flat. Maria was eliminated shortly after #19 Kacy Catanzaro. #20 Zelina Vega.
#21 Ruby Riott. Ruby Riott came out with Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan, who were eliminated previously. They pulled Charlotte out of the ring (still in the match) and then teamed up on her. They did the same thing to Fox. Vega went under the ring on the other side. Fox was thrown out of the ring by Ruby. Candice was Powerbombed into a barricade, brought back into the ring and then eliminated. #22 Dana Brooke. Kairi Sane was eliminated by Ruby Riott. They kept cutting to Vega who was smugly hiding under the ring. #23 Io Shirai. Shirai went after The Riott Squad immediately, who were beating up Sane at ringside. Shirai landed a Moonsault off the top rope to the trio. #24 Rhea Ripley. Catanzaro was given a Baseball Slide to the outside but did a Handstand to the corner and got back in the ring. This match felt like a Best of John Morrison and Kofi Kingston with all of these close call eliminations. She was eliminated only moments later. #25 Sonya Deville. Ripley kicked Brooke out of the ring. Vega poked her head out of the ring again but this time Hornswoggle came out as well. Hornswoggle chased Vega, making her get into the ring and get thrown out by Ripley. #26 Alexa Bliss. Up to until this point Charlotte felt like the only person who had a realistic chance of winning. Deville was eliminated after getting hit with a punch from Bliss. #27 Bayley. Bayley took out Ruby Riott and Rhea Ripley. Not sure where the rest of the Riott Squad went. #28 Lana. Lana was playing up her injury from Rusev’s match. She had to get checked by medical staff halfway down the walkway. #29 Nia Jax. On the way to the ring Nia Jax attacked Lana and her leg. Jax caught a Moonsault from Io Shirai and threw her out of the ring. Shirai sort of folded when hitting the floor. Natalya was thrown out shortly after. #30 Carmella.
Carmella earned her #30 sport because she won the second season of the Mixed Match Challenge. Becky Lynch came out and negotiated with Fitt Finlay, and replaced Lana in the match. Bliss and Ember battled on the apron for some time. Bliss did a leg sweep to take out Moon. Bayley and Carmella teamed up to eliminated Bliss, but got clotheslined by Nia Jax right after. Charlotte kicked Carmella off the apron, making it only four left. Jax picked up Bayley and the got kicked, making her drop Bayley out of the ring. The final three were Jax, Lynch and Charlotte. Charlotte lifted Nia Jax and then dropped her. Charlotte put Jax on the apron, and then Lynch pushed her off the apron since she was outside the ring. Lynch was pushed by Jax which made her fall and get hurt. Just before Charlotte’s hand was raised, Lynch came in and the match continued. Charlotte targeted the injured leg frequently. Charlotte went over the ropes after charging Lynch, and then was hit, making her fall the floor. Becky Lynch won the Women’s Royal Rumble.
I enjoyed this Rumble. I thought it was good that they laid off the legends since they were a big focus of the women’s Rumble last year. Instead they gave many spots to NXT wrestlers. I thought the stars or potential contenders for the Rumble were a little too stacked at the end of the list. In the first ⅔ of the Rumble, Charlotte was the only real big name that came out. Lynch was the right one to win, as she will most likely challenge Asuka.
Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles (WWE Championship Match)
The WWE Championship was in the unfortunate position of cool-down. In this match Styles started bleeding through his nose. Bryan got a close pin attempt after a good looking Dragon Suplex. Later on, Bryan stopped a Springboard 450 by putting his knees up, and then put on the Lebell Lock. During the match Erick Rowan came to the ring. The ref was taken out, which gave Rowan the opportunity to give Styles a Chokeslam. Bryan pinned Styles to win. This was very disappointing. For one, the match placement was horrible. Also, the match was way too long and the crowd didn’t like it.
Finn Balor vs. Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman (WWE Universal Championship Match)
Right off the bat Balor jumped Lesnar as he had his back to him. Balor eventually lost control of the match, with Lesnar throwing him around. Lesnar took apart a commentary table, but then was rammed into it by Balor. Balor did two dives to the outside at one point, with the second one looking really good. Back in the ring Finn tried for a Coup de Grace, landing it, but Lesnar kicked out. Lesnar put in a Kimura right after, with Balor tapping. After the match he beat up Balor further. This match also felt like it didn’t have a ton of hype behind it, but didn’t have the cold reaction that Bryan versus Styles got. This was okay, I guess. Lesnar won, which is predictable. They kept it short, which was nice.
Men’s Royal Rumble Match
The main event of the evening was the men’s Royal Rumble match. #1 Elias was the first entrant. He was going to perform for the crowd, but was interrupted by #2 Jeff Jarrett. Elias asked Jeff if he wanted to do a duet with him. Before it start Elias attacked Jeff, making the match start. Elias smashed his guitar on Jarrett’s back and then threw him over the ropes. #3 Shinsuke Nakamura. #4 Kurt Angle. Angle came out to a good reaction. #5 Big E. Nakamura kicked Angle on the ropes and took him out. #6 Johnny Gargano. #7 Jinder Mahal. Mahal was accompanied by the Singh Brothers. Mahal was eliminated very quickly by Gargano via kicks. #8 Samoa Joe. Big E was thrown out by Joe. #9 Curt Hawkins Hawkins came in and out of the ring making weak attacks. He got caught in a Cohena Clutch from Joe, but escaped it because of Elias. Hawkins went under the ring. #10 Seth Rollins. Elias was eliminated by Rollins because he was holding onto a corner post but then got his hands hit.
#11 Titus O’Neil. When running out to the ring Titus was cautious to avoid falling. O’Neil went under the ring because he saw Hawkins, and then chased Hawkins into the ring and then went over the ropes. Hawkins celebrated, but was thrown out right after. #12 Kofi Kingston. #13 Mustafa Ali. Ali dropkicked Nakamura off the top rope and to the outside. Ali was thrown into a corner by Joe brutally. #14 Dean Ambrose. Kofi got thrown to the outside but avoided elimination by keeping his feet on the apron and rolling to the stairs. Ambrose eliminated Johnny Gargano. #15 No Way Jose. No Way Jose came out with his big conga line. When coming in the ring he was eliminated immediately, possibly breaking the Santino record. He barely missed a beat, partying with the conga line to the back. #16 Drew McIntyre. McIntyre headbutted No Way Jose and threw around a few conga line members on the way to the ring. He took out everybody when entering the ring. #17 Xavier Woods. Kofi avoided elimination by giving Xavier a Sunset Flip but keeping one foot in the air. Xavier held on to Kofi, putting him on the stairs. Once entering the ring they were both taken out by Drew McIntyre. #18 Pete Dunne. Dunne had a good combo of moves on many guys when coming in. #19 Andrade. #20 Apollo Crews.
#21 Aleister Black. Black eliminated Ambrose with a kick. #22 Shelton Benjamin. Joe was thrown out by Ali after being hit with a very nice kick from Benjamin. #23 Baron Corbin. Crews was eliminated by Corbin. #24 Jeff Hardy. Corbin threw out Black, catching him off guard. Dunne almost did a finger breaking spot on Corbin but was hit with a kick from McIntyre. Drew threw out Dunne after. #25 Rey Mysterio. Corey Graves talked about how Rey has had a “career resurgence” as of late, as if Rey was in a slump recently. #26 Bobby Lashley. Bobby Lashley was accompanied by Lio Rush. Lashley was thrown out the match very quickly, and the took Seth out of the ring from the bottom rope. Rush and him took apart commentary tables. Seth was Chokeslammed through the English table. #27 Braun Stroman. Stroman took out Corbin since he costed him the title shot that he was supposed to have. He took out Benjamin shortly after. #28 Dolph Ziggler. Jeff Hardy was eliminated at Ziggler came out. Ziggler immediately eliminated McIntyre. #29 Randy Orton. There was a four man Superplex spot involving Rollins, Andrade, Stroman and Mysterio. #30 R-Truth.
While coming out Nia Jax attacked R-Truth. Nia Jax took R-Truth’s spot. Jax took out Mustafa Ali. She turned around and had a face off with Randy Orton. He tried for an RKO, but was shoved against the ropes by Jax. Jax told Rey to do a 619 but then caught him when running. When Rey was held by Jax she was Superkicked. She then was hit with a 619 and then an RKO. She was taken out shortly after. Orton gave Rey and RKO and then eliminated him. Andrade took out Orton right after. Ziggler and Andrade were duking it out until Stroman came back in the ring. Rollins gave Stroman a Frogsplash. Stroman took out Andrade, making the final three Stroman, Ziggler and Rollins. Stroman threw Rollins and Ziggler over the ropes but they hung on. Stroman charged at them, which eliminated Ziggler. Rollins tried flipping Stroman over but he escaped the perdicament after Chokeslamming Rollins. Both guy went over the top rope and fought on the apron. Stroman was shoved into the post, kicked him and then did a Curbstomp to eliminated Braun Stroman. Seth Rollins won the 2019 Men’s Royal Rumble Match.
This match was okay. I was hoping that there would maybe be one or two more surprise entrants that weren’t NXT wrestlers. One small production thing that ticked me off was how they never showed the entrance stage when someone’s music hit. They would only ever show the stage after someone appeared, like it was a WWE video game.
In general the Royal Rumble had a lot of good stuff. There were some matches that didn’t do as well as they could, with only some of that being their fault (match placement, etc). I know it most likely won’t change so there’s no point in complaining about it, but the show was just too long. Even if it’s great wrestling, more than five hours of it is asking for a lot of viewers.