The Road to Wrestlemania is officially underway and if it’s going to be anything like this show last night, it’s a road I’m very excited to be going down!
Everyone who’s ever used the internet has said it at some point over the past week, but Royal Rumbles are always so much fun to watch and this year was no exceptions, with two Rumble matches that were among the better ones as far as I’m concerned. Even better than that is that the Rumbles weren’t the only thing to write home about, as many of the other matches on the show were quality watches too.
Let’s not waste any more time getting into it and breakdown Royal Rumble 2020 match-by-match!
8 – Roman Reigns def. King Corbin
(Falls Count Anywhere)
No prizes for guessing this one would be last.
Quite simply, this match had everything that I hate about Falls Count Anywhere matches all rolled into one. The action was extremely samey the whole way through (the portaloo spot notwithstanding) as almost the whole thing consisted of Reigns & Corbin wandering around, occasionally hitting each other and throwing each other into the nearest, vaguely solid object.
Even when Roode, Ziggler & The Usos showed up, I still didn’t find myself getting excited, the spot where one of The Usos launched themselves from one of the stands was cool looking, but given that none of the four men involved in that spot were actually a part of the match, I just couldn’t find a reason to care. Also, the camerawork was just plain awful, I don’t know whether the cameramen were being told to shake the camera vigorously throughout all the action, or whether they were just bad at their jobs, but I almost got motion sickness from watching the action at one point.
It certainly wasn’t the most boring match ever and I’d rank it above the match that these two had at TLC, but that’s not exactly saying much. At least the right man won
7 – Sheamus def. Shorty G
Not much to say on this one, other than it was a lot more competitive than I was expecting it to be. I have no idea where creative are going with this storyline for Sheamus, but I’m happy to wait and see where it goes and that included not having much worth saying about this match. It’s nice that Shorty G wasn’t just annihilated like I thought he would be, but I honestly think watching him get slaughtered by Sheamus might’ve been a bit more fun to watch.
Like almost any pre-show match, it was perfectly acceptable, but not something I’m going to be talking about for very long after the fact.
6 – Andrade(c) def. Humberto Carrillo
(United States Championship)
Much like Sheamus vs Shorty G, this match was perfectly fine and the only reason this one goes above that match in my rankings is because it lasted slightly longer.
The dynamic between the two was quite different to Sheamus & Shorty G’s though, as these two men have very similar in-ring styles and it felt much more like the new kid on the block trying to get a feel for one of the older fighters, in order to find a weakness. Unfortunately for Carrillo, that weakness never presented itself and while I wouldn’t say Andrade dominated him in this match, he certainly seemed to get a lot more offence in than Carrillo did.
This match wasn’t as exciting as the match these two had at TLC last month, but I still thought it was a decent showing for a pre-show match where, ultimately, everyone knew the outcome going in.
5 – Bayley(c) def. Lacey Evans
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)
I think this is the match that I was the most pleasantly surprised by because, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t expecting much going in.
Bayley’s Pay-Per-View matches this past year have, for the most part, been rather underwhelming and I’m still not much of a Lacey Evans fan, but I think the two did a great job at putting on a well-paced and enjoyable match. For one thing, Lacey’s daughter is ADORABLE and her smile just seemed to instantly brighten my mood, but I also thought there was a lot of good action between the two.
I wouldn’t have thought Lacey could work that well as a face, but I found myself getting behind her as the match went on, thanks in large part to Bayley’s great ability to work as a heel. Watching this match it’s clear just how much Evans has come on as a wrestler, especially when you compare it to something like her matches against Becky Lynch from last May.
Admittedly, this wasn’t some super exciting match to set the world on fire, but I think these two women did an admirable job and made me finally see the potential in Lacey Evans’ new character direction, and more generally as a performer, so I’d rate that a success.
4 – Charlotte Flair won the 30 Woman Royal Rumble Match
With each year that goes by, I think the women’s Royal Rumble match keeps getting better and better. As WWE hires more and more credible female competitors, it no longer feels like the match is relying on the nostalgia pops and thread-bare action in order to get the crowd interested, finally putting it on par with the booking philosophies of the men’s incarnation of the match.
For the past two years, the downfall of the women’s Royal Rumble has been the first half but that wasn’t a problem here because I thought the first half of this match was the best portion of the whole thing. I wouldn’t have thought that Bianca Belair would be the one to get the rub of dominating the early portions but I absolutely loved how it played out. There was a good mix of everything in there, from the serious to the comical and it kept the action flowing at a good pace.
From when Charlotte entered through until Shayna Baszler showed up wasn’t all that interesting, but I still had a good time seeing people like Beth Pheonix & Shotzi Blackheart showing up and briefly kicking arse, even if blood somehow started POURING out of the back of Beth’s head.
While I’m a bit disappointed Shayna Baszler didn’t win the match, I’m not mad about it. While she is absolutely a ready-made star, I can understand why people think it might be a bit too early to give her a rub like winning the Royal Rumble and, let’s be honest, Charlotte was always going to have to win one of these eventually. Not to mention that sequence towards the end where Baszler just decided she’d had enough of this shit and eliminated EVERYONE still in the ring in space of about a minute was great to watch.
While it wasn’t perfect, it was undoubtedly the best of the women’s Royal Rumble matches we’ve had so far and I can honestly say I’d happily watch it again and have a good time doing so.
3 – Becky Lynch(c) def. Asuka
(Raw Women’s Championship)
This is one of those situations where I think a disinterested crowd took away from a match that was a lot better than the reactions it was getting. I don’t blame the crowd, however, if I had already gone through 3 hours of action and knew there was a Royal Rumble match immediately after this one, I’d try and conserve my energy too, but it doesn’t stop it taking away from the match somewhat.
Still, there was a lot of solid wrestling to this match and I don’t think we should let a muted crowd take away too much from that fact. These two have clear chemistry in the ring together and if I’m being entirely honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing another clash between them in front of a more lively crowd. Asuka did a good job of striking a balance between heelishly slowing down the action but keeping things relatively exciting and tense as she worked her magic.
Meanwhile, Becky did was Becky does and it was as much fun to watch as it always is. She’s so good at making herself look just about beatable, before striking out with the comebacks and sneaking away with the win. I especially liked the finishing sequence where both women were escaping each other’s submission manoeuvres and I’m happy that Becky finally got her win back.
2 – The Fiend Bray Wyatt(c) def. Daniel Bryan
Told you they’d make it work.
If I’m being honest, I was starting to lose faith that we’d ever see a really great Fiend match, his character didn’t seem to leave much room for competitive matches, however, I was thankfully proved wrong last night as I thought this was a great way to go about it.
Strap matches usually tend to restrict the performers in the ring, but that wasn’t the case here as they were able to get some really impressive action in and still feature the strap heavily in most of their spots. Throughout the match, I really got the feeling that Daniel Bryan was finally able to get a feel of The Fiend and had plenty of counters prepared for the erratic offence The Fiend threw his way.
It was a little slow to start, but that was necessary to get the damage in on Bryan and lend a lot more drama to his comeback, which definitely worked. Every now and then Bryan would get a little advantage over The Fiend and each time he managed it, he kept the momentum going for just a little bit longer. Unfortunately, the fact that it was extremely obvious going in that Bryan wasn’t going to win sapped a bit of the drama out of the final LeBell Lock, but I still came away from the match having had a great time watching some great wrestling, so I can’t complain.
1 – Drew McIntyre won the 30 Man Royal Rumble Match
Well, I sure didn’t see that one coming.
This was very clearly a Rumble of two halves and I think that both halves were as entertaining as each other, but in different ways. The first half where Brock was eliminating everyone was so fun to watch, it could’ve lost its novelty pretty quickly, but there was enough variation in both the entrants and the method by which they fought that kept it entertaining and it was clear from his face that Brock was having a great time, which helps LOADS.
My personal favourite moment in that first half was when Shelton Benjamin came out and Brock greeted him as an old friend because we knew that turn was coming, but Brock was so uncharacteristically cheery that I couldn’t help but chuckle. The drama was there too, with Kofi, Big E and Rey did their best to take on the Beast, it’s a bit disappointing that Kofi didn’t get his moment, but when the three of them prepared an attack on the outside, I felt the drama of it. Also, honourable mention to Brock bopping to MVP’s music.
Eventually, Drew came out at 17 and things went off the chain. Ricochet giving Brock the low-blow was a nice bit of poetry and the Claymore Drew hit to eliminate Brock was brilliant and Brock sold it like death to boot. As the ring filled up with people we got the more standard Rumble action and thanks to the calibre of the guys involved it was all great stuff.
Edge’s return was brilliant, even if a lot of us sort of knew it was probably going to happen. I became a wrestling fan not too long after Edge retired, but I’ve seen so much of his stuff since then and that look on his face as he walked out – pumped and ready to fight, but also on the brink of crying tears of joy – that hit me right in the feels and it was a wonderful moment. On top of that, he got a great showing, Spearing everyone in sight and giving us a cheeky little Rated RKO reunion for our troubles.
As I mentioned in my predictions, while Roman wasn’t the person I necessarily wanted to win, I would’ve been happy if he did and I’d come to accept the fact that it was just how it was going to happen. So when Drew threw Roman over the top and won I was genuinely shocked and overjoyed. I never would’ve picked Drew to win, but now the prospect of Drew vs Brock is in front of me I am GAGGING for it, make that man the first-ever UK-Born WWE Champion, I need that in my life.
As far as a Royal Rumble match goes, this was a resounding success on all fronts and it easily up there with many of the better Rumble matches to ever take place.
And that’s it! Those are my thoughts of Royal Rumble 2020! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back on Saturday where I’ll be running down Doctor Who Series 5!