The WWE Royal Rumble is always one of the most anticipated events of the year. It’s the one time of year in WWE’s calendar where anything can happen. That’s never been more true since, starting last year, WWE has a separate Rumble match for its men and women competitors. The Royal Rumble is typically the starting point on the “Road To Wrestlemania” and within it, we see several rivalries end, while new ones begin. This year’s Rumble had the potential to be one of the best ever, but ended up falling flat in several areas.
For starters, some of the undercard matches were actually really good, but ended up bogged down by clunky action in the middle, or hampered by confusing conclusions. One example being the ending of the Becky V Asuka match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. The match had been excellent through and through, and was honestly one of the best of the night. I was very perplexed at the decision to have Becky tap out, when the WWE producers have been working so hard to build her up as a badass. WWE veteran Bubba Ray Dudley also expressed the same feelings, offering a much more awesome conclusion to their match via Twitter:
That ending makes so much more sense. Having a decision made against her, that would cost her the title, but she would come out looking like a million bucks. Especially considering she took Lana’s Rumble spot, and had to do a ton of selling later in the evening before walking away victorious.
Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles put on a hell of a match that came across as hard hitting, and grueling. Both men took nasty shots from each other and still came back for more. The wrestling on display here was top-notch and was easily the best that I have seen/ probably will see from WWE for a very long time. The decision to muddy the finish via interference from Erick Rowan kind of taints this otherwise classic match.
I have nothing negative to say about the Women’s Rumble match. They used the available talent they had to perfection, and honestly, after the insanely predictable outcome of the Men’s Rumble, I kind of wish it’d went on last. Especially considering WWE used the Women’s Rumble match to slingshot Becky Lynch’s popularity into the stratosphere. She had a star making moment on Sunday, one that would’ve been better reserved for closing the show.
Instead we got a mostly dull, fast paced, Men’s Rumble (there was no time that there was an actual 90 second interval) that ended with an insane air of predictability. With no John Cena, no Bray Wyatt return, and no surprise Kenny Omega appearance, Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre were the clear cut favorites to win here. Once Drew got eliminated, and a few moments later Seth went through a table, it was clear who’d be the big victor of the night. The Men’s Rumble was missing a large chunk of its personality last night, and with a few wasted entrants on legends (Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle), it felt doomed from the start.
The Road To Wrestlemania may end up being a bumpy one, indeed.