The Royal Rumble is one of WWE’s big four pay-per-views and is used to conclude old rivalries, while launching several new ones all in one night. It’s also the night where we usually see someone’s career get spring-boarded into the atmosphere by winning the Royal Rumble event, and heading on to main event Wrestlemania. Last night, WWE put on the 2015 edition from Philadelphia, and for the second year in a row, the show ended with the crowd booing the winner of the Rumble. If it weren’t for an unbelievably STELLAR World Heavyweight Championship match, the Rumble would’ve been an utter travesty. Save for the Tag Team Title match, the undercard was a bit underwhelming, and a lot of the booking within the Rumble match itself, just simply didn’t make sense.
That being said, let’s try to make sense of what we seen from the Royal Rumble last night:
The kickoff match was a solid contest with what was originally supposed to be a six-man tag match, turned into a standard tag team match between The New Day vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. Kidd and Cesaro were cheered by the hot Philly crowd while The New Day received a chorus of boos. The action within the match was evenly paced, and in the end Kidd and Cesaro picked up the win. Hopefully WWE is building Kidd and Cesaro to be the next competitors for the Usos Tag Team Titles, but if booking says anything, there’ll be a relatively new team that’ll get that shot before they do.
The New Age Outlaws squared off against The Ascension in a quick match that I believe was mainly designed to build credibility for The Ascension. They’ve had a hell of a time connecting with the audience, and last night was further proof of that. The veteran team of Road Dogg and Billy Gunn received a far bigger pop than the Ascension who came out to a suspiciously quiet crowd. Each team hit their trademark spots, with The Ascension ending the match by hitting Billy Gunn with the Fall Of Man. Looks like we could have two heel teams waiting on the sideline to challenge for the Tag Team titles. I’m all about building the tag team division, and the Usos obviously need more competition, but I definitely don’t think that The Ascension are the ones to be those challengers. The New Day is dead in the water at this point, and so far WWE has shown they have no interest in Cesaro being anything but enhancement talent.
The Tag Team Title match was fast paced and full of action. The Usos took on the challengers Miz and Damien Mizdow, and Mizdow once again stole the show. Not much to say here, as we’ve seen this matchup several times over the last several weeks of WWE programming.
Same thing with the Bella Twins vs Paige and Natalya. This was basically a moving advertisement for Total Divas that probably would’ve been more effective as a Fatal Four Way for the title.
The World Heavyweight Championship Match was unbelievable on so many levels. Right out of the gate, Brock Lesnar came out in full blown beast mode. He tossed Cena and Rollins around the ring like rag dolls for easily the first 6 minutes of the match. The tone was set early, and never really let up from there. This match went on for about a half hour, and was thrilling from beginning to end. John Cena and Seth Rollins hit a double suplex on Brock early in the match to try to slow him down, but nothing seemed to be effective against the beast incarnate. One of the first major high spots came from John Cena hitting three consecutive AA’s on Lesnar in the ring. The action spilled outside, where John Cena drove Brock through the barricade for another big spot. Cena and Lesnar fought alongside the announce tables where Brock would eventually go through the Spanish announce table courtesy of Mr. Money In The Bank, Seth Rollins. With Lesnar disposed of, the action looked like it would come down to Cena and Rollins as they both traded big shots and both hit their home run hits, kicking out at two. Rollins eventually hit the curb stomp on Cena, and broke out a move that I can honestly say I have NEVER seen before and in the process cemented himself as legitimately main event ready.
Brock Lesnar would soon make his triumphant return, F5 Rollins and retain his title. This match will be and should be considered one of the best of the year, and is hopefully a sign of things to come from Seth Rollins.
The Royal Rumble match is something I have been looking forward to since the conclusion of last years. Watching Batista point to the Wrestlemania banner after tossing Roman Reigns out felt eerily wrong, and ironically enough, I had that same feeling after watching Roman Reigns win this year. Much like The Animal last year, WWE fans were spoon fed giant doses of Roman Reigns while guys like Dolph Ziggler received micro pushes at a frantic stop/start pacing. The Royal Rumble from start to finish felt like it was put together almost last minute, with the eliminations and the order of entry having absolutely no rhyme or reason. The Miz and R-Truth started the Rumble at numbers one and two respectively, and each had been eliminated within 5 minutes. The surprise return of Bubba Ray Dudley in Philly at that, had a very special feel, but it also came entirely too early with him entering the mix at number 3. A very cool moment happened with a pretty intense stare-down between Bubba Ray and the 5th entrant in the Rumble, Bray Wyatt. Bray Wyatt had an insanely good Rumble match, as he was not only in the ironman spot, but he also had the most single eliminations with six. Bray Wyatt also had the most meaningful elimination, when he cut down Daniel Bryan’s night super early. Once Bryan’s feet hit the floor, the air was immediately sucked out the arena, as fans were forced to watch and realize the inevitable truth. At this point Bray Wyatt had all the momentum in the world, but it too would all be for naught.
Roman Reigns had yet to enter the match, and he was the heavy favorite to win. A few more mistimed entrants and eliminations later, Reigns hit the ring and the rest as they say, is history. I think by the time Reigns finally tossed Rusev over the ropes the crowd in Philly had already been deflated from watching the Rumble go down the way it did. Titus O’neil coming in at number 26, the Big Show and Kane coalition eliminating Bray Wyatt, Dolph Ziggler, and Dean Ambrose and having Rusev be eliminated so easily were all big missteps.
The stage is apparently set (for now) for Wrestlemania 31 as Roman Reigns will take on Brock Lesnar for the WWE title. The crowd last night unceremoniously showered Reigns with boos and depending on the next couple months could alter the WWE Championship title picture before Wrestlemania. It happened last year with Batista, with him getting booed out of the building every time he grabbed a mic, until WWE laid the foundations for Daniel Bryan to be inserted into the title match. While there is no clear cut runaway superstar this year as Daniel Bryan was last year, I’m holding out on hope that WWE has a few more swerves up their sleeves before we get to Levis Stadium.