We are less than 24 hours removed from the 2017 WWE Royal Rumble, and I must admit, I’m a bit disappointed. I won’t go so far as to say that the show was a disaster, like some of my other IWC pals have. The show most definitely fell flat, but only because everyone, myself included had much higher hopes for the main event. The reason we all watched last night was for the Rumble itself, and if I’m being totally honest here… WWE laid an egg last night. There’s many reasons why I think the Rumble was a dud, but overall, the show was great. Let’s break down why:
The Kickoff show started off with a bang as the RAW Tag Titles were on the line. Gallows & Anderson have been riding a wave of momentum into the Rumble, and it honestly makes perfect sense for them to have the titles. Sheamus & Cesaro were entertaining at first, but their partnership has become stale. It was time to move on, and hopefully Cesaro gets a solid singles title run, while Sheamus returns to the main event scene. Nia Jax and Sasha Banks put on a decently paced squash match that saw Nia Jax assert her dominance over the former Women’s champ. Expect to see Sasha fall down the card a bit, before an eventual Triple Threat at Mania.
Charlotte Retains Her Title:
The main show kicked off with Charlotte defending the RAW Women’s Title against former best friend, Bayley. The match was quality, but I don’t think the two women were given quite enough time to truly tell the story here. In fact, everything felt a bit rushed. With that being sad, Charlotte retained her title with relative ease, but this rivalry is just getting started. I think we’ll see more from these two women, and all signs are pointing towards Bayley finally ending Charlotte’s PPV undefeated streak at Wrestlemania.
Owens Retains In Shocking Fashion:
Next up, was the NO DQ match for the Universal Title. Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns had a really fun, hard-hitting match that saw plenty of back and forth action. There was also a number of false finishes, and of course an attempted assist from Chris Jericho, who was suspended above the ring in a shark cage. Owens actually ended up eating two of the matches high spots, but still managed to come out on top thanks to some interference by Braun Strowman. Surprisingly, Owens retained, and it appears we may see Finn return soon to challenge him at Mania for the title he never lost.
Neville Wins, And Becomes King Of The Cruiserweights:
While the Cruiserweight Title match exceeded expectations, the result was pretty predictable. Neville has been amazing as an entitled heel, and it will be tremendously fun watching Rich Swann chase him for the title. I hope these two get a shot at Wrestlemania to showcase some of the fire they displayed on the indie scene many years ago.
John Cena Inches Closer To History:
John Cena and AJ Styles had a better match last night than Cena and Punk did at MITB 2011. There, I said it. The two biggest names in the industry last night set the bar so damn high for the rest of the year, it may be impossible to top it. Styles and Cena share an in-ring chemistry that is unfathomable, and top to bottom, this was a five-star match. Both men took turns dishing out their best shots, and coming back from it all. For those of you still thinking John Cena can’t wrestle, stop it. He hung with the best wrestler in the world last night, all while showcasing why he truly does belong in the conversation of all-time greats. In the end, FOUR Attitude Adjustments was too much for Styles to overcome, and John Cena captured his 16th World Heavyweight Title. While it looks like we may be headed for a Cena led Wrestlemania main event, I’m holding out hope that Styles finds a way into that spot.
Royal Rumble Surprises And Disappoints:
The Royal Rumble itself was the only blemish in an otherwise perfect PPV. We all watch the Rumble for it’s over the top unpredictability, surprise entrants, and of course the eventual debut of a brand new superstar who becomes a major player in the months to come. The Rumble started off with Big Cass and Chris Jericho, and maintained a pretty slow pace until Braun Strowman hit the match as the No. 7th entrant. I had super high hopes that Strowman would have an amazing showing here, maybe staring down Brock, or Goldberg, or Undertaker, but none of that happened as he was dumped unceremoniously after about 10 minutes into his run. From there, the rumble really just sort of happened. It plodded along, and while it was cool to see him debut, Tye Dillinger at No.10 was pretty damn predictable. There wasn’t any major action until the rumble hit entrants 23-30 where all the big names started to show up. Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Luke Harper, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Undertaker, and Roman Reigns (yes, he somehow entered the Rumble as well.) all entered during this time. It was cool seeing Brock get dominated once again by Goldberg, and even cooler to see Taker turn around and eliminate Goldberg. It was not cool seeing Reigns eliminate Undertaker. No. That pissed me off. The final four came down to Chris Jericho, Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns and Randy Orton. Reigns of course got two more eliminations by taking both Jericho and Wyatt out of the match, only to then be eliminated by Randy Orton. Had you told me 2 weeks ago that Randy Orton would be winning the Royal Rumble, I’d of laughed in your face……but…… it actually happened.
For me, the Road to Wrestlemania just got a whole lot foggier. I had a pretty decent idea of what may or may not be happening, but after the Rumble last night, Vince and crew have demolished any trace of a hint that I thought I may have had about the direction heading forward. That’s actually a good thing though because without a ton of certainty heading into the biggest event of the year, that simply means the WWE is in prime position to give the WWE Universe a really special Wrestlemania. History on the other hand, may say otherwise…