by Adam Salzer
Hello, everyone, and welcome to my favorite wrestling night of the year, the Royal Rumble! Will this Royal Rumble be a reminder of Rumbles past, where a new face steps up and carves his name in the annals of history, or will we get another Rumble where someone you've seen a million times gets to go to Mania again instead of them actually pushing an up-and-comer? Let's find out together, shall we?
Kickoff: Naomi, Becky Lynch, and Nikki Bella v. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, and Natalya
No one's looking forward to this match, and no thought was put into booking it. I'm not expecting much.
Grade: C, decent, I suppose, but pointless. And Naomi's being groomed to be the next Numbe One Contender despite completely whiffing on a spinning heel kick.
Kickoff: Raw Tag Titles: Sheamaro (c) v. The Club, two referees for the match
This is a dumb stipulation, straight up. Having a second referee as opposed to having one run out after the inevitable ref bump adds nothing to a match.
Grade: B, My disappointment at the title change last night is equaled by my happiness over the title change tonight. Finally The Club are your Raw Tag Team Champions.
Kickoff: Sasha Banks v. Nia Jax
A women's match that has only slightly more story behind it than the six-woman tag. Hooray!
Grade: C, what started as a decent match ended very abruptly, and the leg injury was played up but never capitalized on, and had nothing to do with the finish. Weird match.
Raw Women's Title: Bayley v. Charlotte Flair (c)
A little surprised this is opening, but this should be a good match. Charlotte's streak will continue until Mania, I assume.
Grade: A, great match, I think they told a good story. There were a couple of sloppy spots, but that Natural Selection on the apron was brutal. Well done.
Universal Championship: Roman Reigns v. Kevin Owens (c), Chris Jericho suspended in a shark cage, no DQ
Owens should retain here, and I don't say that just because I don't want Roman Reigns to be champion.
Grade: A, what a match! While I disagree with WWE terms that No DQ also explicitly means no countout, these two guys absolutely beat the hell out of each other. Strowman makes his mark, though why we have yet to see, and Owens retains. Beautiful match.
Cruiserweight Title: Neville v. Rich Swann (c)
It seems a foregone conclusion that the title will be changing hands here, but I'm interested to see how they get there.
Grade: A, Fantastic match by these two, hit all the spots you need to, Rich Swann looked competitive throughout, and Neville makes that Regal Stretch look brutal. Good stuff.
WWE Title: AJ Styles (c) v. John Cena
I hope they don't make the switch here. If they're going to give Cena his 16th reign, which they will obviously do, it makes more sense for it to happen at Mania and, hopefully, not against AJ Styles.
Grade: A, Once again these two deliver an incredible match. I honestly enjoyed them trading submissions, sadly this makes Elimination Chamber super predictable.
2017 Royal Rumble Match
The Royal Rumble might be the one gimmick match I look forward to most every year. Moreso than even the Money in the Bank ladder match. Sometimes they screw it up and do really dumb things, but let's see what they do this year!
Grade: C, things started out so promisingly! We were on track for a top notch Rumble Match, then around pick 20 you start realizing there's only been one surprise entrant so far in Tye Dillinger, and he wasn't really a surprise if you've been paying attention. Then we get to 25 and the three big names haven't come out yet, so you realize if there's going to be a surprise it's going to be 30. Lesnar at 26, an absolutely wasted entry with Enzo at 27, then Goldberg and Taker at 28 and 29, and the big surprise at number 30 is...Roman...who's already lost the Universal Title tonight, and who NOBODY LIKES! If you've had a heavyweight title shot at the show, you should not be in the Rumble. Plain and simple. And then he eliminates Taker, a decision that NOBODY LIKES! That's going to lead to Taker vs. Roman at Mania, which no one is looking forward to, and Randy Orton gets the win, which no one wanted, and the only good outcome is Randy vs. Bray at Mania, which would mean that Cena's epic 16th title reign lasts two weeks.
Wow, that was cathartic.
Average Grade: B+, the disappointing Rumble and the bizarrely abrupt Banks vs. Jax drag down the rest of the stellar card.
- Take a Shill Pill: Enzo and Cass pimping KFC AND New Day pimping VUDU? These bits are bad enough when there's one in a show, but two? Stop.
- Milk Carton Report: You waste a rumble entry on James Ellsworth, you waste a rumble entry on Enzo Amore, you waste a rumble entry on Kalisto and yes, as much as I love him, you waste an entry on Jack Gallagher, and you can't include American Alpha? The reigning SmackDown Tag Team Champions, who were even barely on SmackDown this week? You couldn't give us the Usos? Kane? A returning legend who has no business being in the Rumble in the first place but it's nice to have that nostalgia? We may need to consider going back to 40 entrants.
Final Grade: C+, a whole point off leaves this Rumble at just slightly above mediocre, which is a shame because the Universal and WWE Title matches were awesome, the women's title match was great, and The Club finally became tag champs.
For a Royal Rumble whose tagline was "Remember the Rumble" they did a pretty good job of making this one forgettable. I'll be back in two weeks (seriously?) with Elimination Chamber. In the mean time check out this week's episode of The Rundown, only on the Questionable Endeavor Network, to hear how the rest of our hosts thought the show went.
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