The last few years of Royal Rumbles have been an endurance rather than an enjoyable night for the crowd in the arena and watching at home. It was a case of people being happy that anyone won except Roman Reigns. This year’s offering was much more fan friendly even if there were threats of disaster. Here are your three things.
The Men’s Rumble Was Booked Well
Despite the rumours of Daniel Bryan, it was Shinsuke Nakamura who took the honours in the most fan-friendly Rumble in years. There were only a handful of surprise entrants and of these Hurricane Helms, didn’t really alter the outcome. When it came time for the last entrant there was some hope for Daniel Bryan instead we got a half-hearted Dolph Ziggler Returning for a matter of moments before being eliminated. The real stars of this Rumble were Rusev and his growing popularity, Andrade Almas who showed more in his Rumble time than many established stars and Finn Balor who came so close to doing a Flair and winning from the first two. Instead, the two characters the smart crowd in Philadelphia were most afraid of John Cena and Roman Reigns whittled the numbers down until it was them Balor and Nakamura. Cena eliminated Balor from behind playing the heel before he fell to Nakamura before Reigns followed suit despite threatening to win as he did in 2015. Nakamura won and to no ones, surprse called out AJ styles for a dream match at Wrestlemania. Hopefully, they let this build and don’t throw any unnecessary roadblocks in the way of either man.
Do Not Stiff Brock Lesnar
Everyone has said that Brock Lesnar is a consummate professional despite the appearance he gives in the ring. So when another wrestler is clumsy and catches him painfully there’s a chance Brock may deal his own brand of retribution due to his senior status. At the beginning of this match that’s exactly what looked to happen. Braun Strowman caught Brock thick with a knee to the side of the head and soon after Brock took aim and tagged the monster with a right hook not seen since his UFC days. The monster Stroman nearly lost his head as the slo-mo replays showed but it gave this match the edge that was needed as all three men stiffed each other in a short sharp battle that ended with Kane taking the fall for Brock. As he left Braun was left in the ring somehow still compos mentis after the sickening hook. Moral of the story. Be professional with Brock unless you want to be reminded of who you are in the ring with.
The Women’s Rumble Was The Time They Needed
There is no problem with the quality of WWE Women’s wrestling. Just the perception that they don’t deserve as much TV time. This match going on last showed just how wrong people were. While it took a while to warm up after the crowd was still reeling from the men’s rumble earlier in the night it contained better storytelling and more spots than the men’s and had many genuine contenders not least the returning legends such as Lita, Torrie Wilson, Molly Holly, Michelle Macool and Trish Stratus at number 30. All these women gave a great account of themselves and many showed the current crop of superstars how it should be done. Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks were in from the start and they were there to take the bumps until Lynch was thrown out a little early around the mid-20’S. After this the storytelling kicked up a gear, you had Molly Holly and Macool clearing house, everyone picking on Nia Jaxx and some incredible shots and selling as Sasha Banks got battered. Despite this, the drive and focus of the Rumble didn’t get lost in nostalgia and when Trish came in at 30 instead of the rumoured Rousey, the crowd went nuts. Trish, who in my opinion evolved most from the eye-candy of the Attitude Era to a legitimate star, hadn’t lost a beat as she took big bumps and high risks, the theme of storytelling continued as she eliminated her old rival Mickie James before being dumped out by a now full heel Sasha Banks. Asuka came down and predictably brought her undefeated aura with her as she got down to the final four with Banks and both returning Bella Twins. The real fear was a Bella victory here but again the WWE refused to stick to type and had the sensible choice of Asuka winning. despite not being the hit on the main roster she was in NXT Asuka like Nakamura earlier is a credible winner and in the Rumble, that’s all you can ask for. They also kept the Rousey Reveal until the end as Asuka stood in the ring with the two non-participating Champions Bliss and Flair. Rousey came down with a Roddy Piper Styled T-shirt and actually wearing the WWE Legend’s jacket given to her by Roddy’s son. The crowd popped safe in the knowledge she wasn’t going to win the actual Rumble before we had the standoff and an obligatory point to the Wrestlemania sign.
So there you have it. Finally the Road to Wrestlemania can begin on the right foot after years of poor booking. The next few months are looking bright.