Here we are, back for the first WWE PPV of the new year and, depending on how one counts, the new decade. Off we go with the review
Match 1: Sheamus vs Shorty G. I hate the name, why not just Chad Gable? That’s stupid and ruins him. The blue light, I have to believe coming in from outdoors is terrible and also kills the match. Guys did good work and Sheamus got a win in his first match back since April 2019. 2.5 stars, just solidly in the middle.
Match 2: Andrade vs Humberto Carrillo. Really good match, but also pretty long. Guys did a lot of good stuff. Andrade gets the win. 3 stars
Match 3: Roman Reigns vs Baron Corbin. After this match, I’m taking away his King title. Match starts off with Roman running outside the ring and attacking Corbin’s jobronis. Roman attacks one and turns his back 180 degrees on Baron. So immediately we know Roman is stupid or drunk or something, because no intelligent person would do that. If they ever got in the ring, I don’t remember it. They wrestled through the crowd, out to the various language commentary tables. Corbin goes through two tables. They wrestle over to the primary AV position where the crew is so afraid of these two maniacs fighting, they just continue mixing the audio and video as though no one is present. One of the AV guys could be seen smiling in the background. Roode and Ziggler come out and jump Roman. Uso Brothers out to even the odds. Fighting all around the floor. One of the Usos came off the AV booth to the floor, at least it didn’t look as fake as some dives do because he missed his brother by a little bit. Then Roman comes from nowhere with two Superman punches. Now we get the finest part of the match…a portable toilet sitting by the AV booth. Roman stuffs Corbin in one….that just happens to have two wheeled carts affixed to the bottom. He wheels this around…literally no portable toilet has ever had wheels on it and the others in the row didn’t…eventually Roman tips the toilet over. The crowd chants the obvious. Corbin climbs out completely clean. So we have Corbin in a fake staged toilet with nothing in it. Jesus wept. Eventually they end up on top of a dugout where Baron hits Roman with two of the weakest chairshots I’ve seen since 1997 WCW. Roman mercifully ends the match, pinning Corbin after a spear on top of the dugout. 21 minutes and 20 seconds of life was wasted with this match and it’s obviously phony toilet spot. .001 stars, slightly better than Bray Wyatt’s red light matches.
Match 4: Women’s Royal Rumble. Alexa Bliss and Bianca Belair start the match. They’re great workers and can carry the match. Molly Holly is next, good crowd pop. Lana comes down and cuts a promo all the way to the ring, good stuff. Mercedes Martinez gets a good reaction, hopefully she’ll be treated like a star. Spoke too soon, she’s dumped after about 3 minutes in the ring. Nikki Cross and Mandy Rose trade obviously whiffed kicks on each other in the corner waiting on another wrestler to come down. Mandy gets dumped and saved by Otis, which would have been a better spot 12 years ago before Kofi killed that well with the special ways to stay in. Mia Yim in at #12, thus far all the women have been treated as stars. Nikki Cross eliminated by Belair who was in the process of airplane spinning Alexa Bliss…Nikki was on the ring apron for at least 30 seconds after Alexa distracted Belair with no one else around. She made no effort to get back in the ring, perhaps she should undergo a concussion protocol because temporary lack of mental capacity is the only explanation for this. Tamina Snuka into the ring, does a stare down with Belair, so we have a superstar like Belair staring off with an undercard wrestler like Tamina…at least Belair dumps her quick. Chelsea Greens gets a superstar entrance and lasts about 3 seconds in the ring; what a waste. After the 16th entrant, only Bliss and Belair are left in the ring. Bliss is eliminated with an interesting tug of war spot with Belair’s hair. Belair is being made to look like a beast. Charlotte Flair out next. Charlotte takes longer to get to the ring than the Undertaker. If Charlotte doesn’t do at least two Flair Flops in honor of Naitch winning the championship 28 years ago, I’ll be sad. Next out comes one half of the Funkadactyls. Double kip up from Charlotte and the Funker. Double suplex on Belair. Beth Phoenix out next. Toni Storm comes out and looks like she’s trying to beat out a house fire with her bare hands, just going after everyone. Disadvantages of HD and big TV screens…Toni can be clearly seen calling spots with Charlotte. Kelly Kelly out next…nothing she does looks unsafe or anything, but it’s certainly a clear difference in how women wrestlers are trained now compared to 2008 or so when Kelly started. Sarah Logan gets a star entrance, business is about to pick up. Oh, sorry, too soon, she’s dumped in about 45 seconds. Nattie Neidhart out next, Nattie and Beth do a double power bomb out of the corner on Charlotte…they hold Charlotte up for a huge length of time to the point where I say “god almighty, just drop her.” Charlotte almost eliminated by 3 women…probably would have been were it not for Nattie obviously holding onto her legs when she’s supposed to be trying to eliminate her. Naomi with another Kofi spot. Blah. Shotzi Blackheart out. Talk about coming far in a short period, in November she was working a show with about 450 people in a church gym in Brooklyn, now she’s in front of 45,000 at the Royal Rumble. OH DEAR GOD. This match was so good….Santino Morella is out at #29. A man, dressed in drag, stares off with Beth Phoenix and Nattie, before hitting himself with a sock puppet and throwing himself over the top rope. I have nothing against people who dress in drag, that’s fine. Cool. An obviously heterosexual male dressing in drag to make a mockery of what’s supposed to be simulated combat is an embarrassment. So Shayna Baszler comes in at 30….she’s a superstar. She could be bigger than Rousey and Lynch if handled right. Legitimate main event star. She comes in and wrecks house. But only after Santino has come out and ruined the whole thing just by consuming oxygen in the same building as these real wrestlers. Baszler looks like a star. Charlotte last eliminated Baszler to get the win. I really want to rate this match lower than the opening match just for the Santino garbage…but I won’t punish the women for some stupid Vince McMahon nonsense. That crap really made me want to crawl through my TV and jump the ring like the guys back in the 70s, getting beat up and arrested would have been worth it in this case. 4 stars, just about as good as a Rumble match can be, with the Santino segment scrubbed from existence.
Match 5: Bayley vs Lacey Evans. Bayley wins after what felt like an eternity after countering Lacey’s top rope move and grabbing tights. Fair match, nothing special. Feel bad for the women having to come out after the Rumble match which I’m sure left many fans both exhausted and irate. 2.5 stars, solidly average.
Match 6: Daniel Bryan vs The Fiend. It’s a strap match. This was a difficult gimmick to pull off 25-30 years ago. Daniel Bryan looks really good with the short beard and short hair, like his old American Dragon gimmick. Well, hallelujah, the red lights aren’t on. Bray whips Bryan like he’s a jockey beating a horse. Very methodical match to start. Bryan hits the running knee, Bray kicks out. I believe that makes Bray the first person so kick out, perhaps that’s OK since we can say Bryan wasn’t able to get his whole starting distance. Bryan kicks Bray in the groin 5 or 6 times then hits a DDT on the announce table. I feel like the table was supposed to break. The match picks up a bunch after the table DDT spot. Bray hits Bryan with an aerial Sister Abigail that Bryan kicks out of. Bryan counters a Mandible Claw into an incredible arm bar over the top rope. Then counters the Claw again into a Lebell lock with the strap through Brays mouth. Bryan hits another running knee, kick out. Bray does some mandible claw into a choke slam into a pin combination for the win. Hard to judge…the early part was very plodding. Business picked up after the DDT on the table. Wish there would have been less false finishes. Bryans running knee kicked out of twice, not good. Very anticlimactic finish. 4.5 stars.
Bryan sells all the way to the locker room, great job. We find out that the next WWE PPV event is whatever day in February from Saudi Arabia, solidly reminding us that Vince only cares about money.
Match 7: Asuka vs Becky Lynch. Decent match. Sad that the women’s championship matches have been stuck in the death spots after great matches. They did a terribly overplayed spot where it looks like Becky was knocked out, ref about to end the match, Becky calls it off. We have MMA now folks…the refs don’t continue matches just because the competitor says they can continue. If a person is incapacitated enough for the ref to consider ending it, is the person really sound minded enough to determine if the match continues? Anyway…Asuka goes for the mist, Becky avoids, locks in the arm bar. Becky FTW. 3 stars, bit above average.
Now, it’s 10pm. We’ve been watching this event for 5 hours already. They give us a 3+ minute Street Profits segment. Because we have time to waste.
Match 8: Men’s Rumble. We’re told that Rusev and Lashley are out because they got into a “brawl” in the back. Wonderful. Brock Lesnar out first. Elias out next, he wastes more of our time by singing. Because it’s not 10:08 and obviously this match can’t start prior to 10:10pm, or something. Elias eliminated quickly, Erick Rowan out. Might have potential. My son just said, after he heard Brock’s voice last week “Who talks on the microphone for Mr. Five Year Old Person?” Brock has the voice of a five year old. Rowan out. Not sure what we’re in for here. Bobby Roode next, he lasts 41 seconds once he gets in the ring. Lesnar is burying the entire roster. John Morrison next. Ohio Valley Wrestling being represented well here. Morrison lasts 10 seconds. I’m bored. Kofi Kingston in next, does he last longer than his Smackdown match? Yes he does, mostly because Brock stopped fighting. Rey Misterio in next wearing a Batman gimmick. 3 men in the ring now, Lesnar still burying everyone, but also not really attacking anyone. Why not attack? About to have a 4th man in the ring. Big E comes out and takes charge. 3 on 1 against Brock. They screw around and get too flashy when Brock is beaten down. Rey and E out in short order. Kofi takes an F5 over the top. Cesaro in next, out in about 30 seconds. Shelton Benjamin next, Minnesota Stretching Crew back together. Let’s see how this goes… Shelton hugs Brock then turns his back on him. Of course Brock eliminates Shelton. Perhaps Shelton is on something that the Wellness Policy can’t test for because he was obviously delusional in the match. Nakamura out next, might have made it 30 seconds. I was going to comment about this being two IWGP Heavyweight Champions in the ring, didn’t have time before Nakamura was eliminated. MVP out, he hasn’t been in WWE in years, this should last long. 28 seconds long. Keith Lee from NXT next. Really hope he lasts long. This has the crowd up and awake. Lee knocks Brock off his feet and the crowd goes crazy. Double clothesline to the next entrant. Braun Strowman. There’s a lot of man meat in the ring now. Strowman goes outside the ring to do a bad shoulder tackle. Strowman and Keith Lee stare at each other like idiots and Brock eliminates them both. Ricochet next, lasts until Drew McIntyre comes out. Drew is massive. He doesn’t look it, but he’s massive. Several inches taller than Lesnar. Lesnar eliminated after a nut shot from Ricochet and a Claymore kick from Drew. Crowd goes crazy. Brock buries half the roster. Ricochet out quick. Lesnar still outside the ring, see where this goes. Miz in and out after 40 seconds or so. AJ Styles out next, crowd picked up. Ziggler next, crowd dead again. Karl Anderson out to no reaction. Edge out next, returning for the first time since 2011. Crowd crazy. Edge is visibly crying as he’s walking down the aisle. Edge spears everyone. Baron Corbin on the way out, the graphic artist and the sound guy are not in sync because Corbin’s graphic came up 5+ seconds before the music hit. Matt Riddle out, he lasts about 30 seconds. Next out is Luke Gallows. Edge is visibly blown up already after about 4 minutes. Gallows looks like Ax from Demolition. Randy Orton next, eliminates both OC guys. Roman Reigns next, crowd goes mild. Kevins Owens out to little reaction. Aleister Black next. Not much cooking. Samoa Joe next. Number 30 is Seth Rollins coming with AOP and Buddy Murphy. Crowd dead. No shock, they’ve been there for 6 hours. The jobronis are destroying everyone. Black went for a kick and Murphy interfered. Owens hits Seth with a stunner, throws him out, and Seth is caught by AOP. Owens, Joe, and Black brawl with AOP and Murphy at ringside. They all fight to the back. Seth, Roman, Orton, Edge, and Drew still in. Seth tries to make a deal with Roman, I can’t see this working. Rated RKO working together, Seth takes a Claymore, gets dumped. Rated RKO trying to work together. Double RKO on Drew. Orton tries to double cross Edge and hit a RKO, Edge says they’ll work together, then throws Randy over. Roman goes for spear, misses. Edge hits spear on Roman, crowd goes wild. Edge and Roman right on apron, Edge eliminated. Drew hits the Claymore on Roman and dumps him over the top. Drew McIntyre wins. Corey Graves tells us that the crowd is giving a standing ovation…well, the crowd was standing, but only because they’d been there for over 6 hours and jumped up to go home. Another match that’s hard to judge. First half with Brock was pretty blah. Second half picked up. Nothing stupid or foolish. Nothing phony. Good stuff. 4 stars.
Total event grade. 3 stars. The Rumble matches were good, I’m deducting Santino from the overall. The two women’s championship matches were decent but put in really bad spots on the card. Maybe they’d have been better off doing the women’s championship matches on the preshow. Not because they “deserve” to not be on the main card, but that the two matches that were on the preshow are certainly better bathroom break filler matches compared to two women’s championship matches that should shine. The Roman match was terrible, but I’d kinda forgotten about it by the end.