Royal Rumble 2019 Review

I’m not sure if it was the company I had, the venue/amount of people in the venue, the amount of alcohol I drank during the show or the results of the show… but this for me, and I’m pretty sure those I was with, one of the most enjoyable WWE PPVs to watch for some time. Pretty much everything went as I would have wanted, BAR one notable exception but given the story I suppose I could kind of accept it. Nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed this show. Even if the actual wrestling was at SOME times sub-standard… the way it was presented within the context of the matches and the show as a whole made it into, for me anyway, one of the most fun WWE shows for some time. I know afterwards I certainly felt very happy with how it all unfolded. And that for one isn’t something I can 100% say after most PPV events. So without going on too much more here is my review of the 2019 Royal Rumble…

PRE SHOW: Bobby Roode & Chad Gable defeated Scott Dawson & Rezar (with Drake Maverick) 

So this bizarre match-up was made during the earlier part of the pre show. For those who don’t know the other member of the AOP (Akam) is currently out with an injury. We watching it where we were didn’t hear that it was actually not for the Raw tag team titles held by Roode & Gable. It was very much what would be expected from an impromptu match; very basic tag stuff, went maybe a little over 5 minutes (6;54 apparently) and ended when Dawson dropkicked Rezar by accident leading not long after to Roode and Gable hitting a combo neckbraker/moonsault on Scott Dawson for the win. Everyone I was with at least wondered what on earth the point of this match was. Says it all really. 

*3/4

PRE SHOW: Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Rusev (C) (with Lana) to become the new United States Champion 

At the time I thought this match was above the usual standard of pre show matches. These two are good at what they do and played of one another really well here. The match itself had some good stuff without being exceptional; the finish came about when Shinsuke untied one of the turnbuckle pads to leave it exposed, so in her anger Lana came up on the apron and took off her shoes and gestured to the referee saying “HE’S CHEATING” (which those I was with found very funny indeed). Nakamura saw this and the two shouted at one another, this saw Rusev charging towards Nakamura but he in-turn moved out the way and Rusev accidentally hit his wife, knocking her to the floor below to his horror.  A mortified Rusev was then hit with a Kinshasa not long after and for a 2nd time in a month or so Shinsuke Nakamura is the United States Champion. Hopefully this marks something significant for Nakamura because he did pretty much nothing memorable in his first run with the belt. I’m sad they took it off of Rusev after a short reign but lets see what the future holds for both men. Overall this was a good match given its spot. 

***1/2 

It was at this point in the pre show announced that Braun Strowman would replace the absent John Cena in the Men’s Rumble match. 

Shawn Michaels (in his role as part of the pre show panel) announced ‘Half Time Heat’ to take place on the WWE Network during the half time period of next weekend’s Super Bowl. The match, playing off the aftermath of the previous night’s NXT Takeover, will see Ricochet, Velveteen Dream & Aleister Black take on the team of Adam Cole, the new NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano and the NXT Champion Tomasso Ciampa. Excellent news. 

PRE SHOW: Buddy Murphy (C) defeated Hideo Itami, Akira Tozawa and Kalisto to retain the Cruserweight Championship

If this was intended to be a showcase match to get people to watch 205 Live then it came across to me and my company as mission accomplished. It was a pretty action-packed match with all 4 guys getting all their spots in and ended with the champion keeping his title. For maybe the first time in a long time the crowd seemed to be into a Cruserweight match on a PPV from the early stages. Very fun to watch. I’m not sure who challenges Murphy next but he’s very much a worthy champion so no problems from me with him keeping his title. 

**** 

Asuka (C) defeated Becky Lynch to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship 

Opening the show with this match turned out to be a great decision. Crowd were very much in to it from the get-go and it was eventful throughout. Shockingly both women were on their A game in the entirety of the match and went pretty 50-50 as it played out. The pure wrestling sequences between the two were really good and the finish was just that.  Lynch hit a Bexploder on Asuka off the top rope, but this only led to Asuka putting Becky’s finisher (the Disarmer) on the challenger, then Becky put the Asuka Lock on the champion. Asuka would fight out and hit a kick, Becky got the Disarmer but Asuka rolled away, and then Asuka applied the Asuka lock and rolled into a bridge with the submission still applied (which really looked impressive) and Becky Lynch tapped out. A very good show opener. I immediately thought of the Summerslam 2018 main show opener as a similarly good match to open a show with and this, perhaps given the magnitude of the participants which of course came in to play later in the show, was of a very high standard. Very good match. Becky looked angry after as Asuka celebrated… foreshadowing… 

****1/2 

Shane McMahon & The Miz defeated ‘The Bar’ (Sheamus & Cesaro) (C) to become the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions 

Despite my personal HATRED of the Shane McMahon character I must concede this was fun for what it was. The story early on was Shane would save his partner from any trouble (Miz by the may was sporting a baseball shirt similar to that Shane wears during matches, emblazoned with ‘Miz and Mac’ across the front). a highlight was when Cesaro did his big swing move on Shane which got a reaction from the crowd, but somehow not long after Shane locked a from of Traingle Choke hold on Cesaro until Sheamus made the save. Eventually the finish saw Sheamus go for his Brogue Kick on Shane but he hit his partner instead, leading to Miz hitting the Skull Crushing Finale and then (and yes what I am about to write really did happen) SHANE MCMAHON, AFTER ALL THESE YEARS OF TRYING, SUCCESSFULLY CONNECTED WITH A SHOOTING STAR PRESS AND PINNED CESARO! The new champions went on to celebrate with Miz’s father who was in the front row. Even I have to admit that at 49 years old seeing Shane do that move was very impressive. I collapsed to the floor in horror at this result but am also interested to see where the story between the new tag champions goes (presumably towards a turn from one of them and a resulting match probably at Wrestlemania). This was about as good as it could have been. 

***

Ronda Rousey (C) defeated Sasha Banks to retain the Raw Women’s Championship 

Some said this match was ‘clunky’ in parts and maybe it was and some said it was the best match of the show (I wouldn’t go that far but it was fine in my opinion), but nonetheless the live crowd and the people I was with enjoyed it. Sasha was the more popular of the two with the crowd. One noteworthy spot was Ronda hitting Sasha with the successive vertical suplexes similar to that of Eddie Guerrero of the past, Sasha Banks’ hero. Ronda did all her usual stuff but Sasha coped with it all, Banks later hit a suicide dive to Rousey on the outside but Ronda caught her and locked in the Armbar which led to Sasha tapping but of course they were outside the ring so it didn’t count. Later back in the ring Sasha had a crossface on Ronda, Rousey got to the ropes though but Sasha moved into an Armbar, but Ronda got out of it. The finish was Ronda Rousey hitting her throw move (called ‘Piper’s Pit’ which is really nice) for the pin. Ronda helped Banks up after the match in a showing of respect, and after Rousey went to celebrate with her Husband ringside and Sasha walked away, the beaten challenger came back to the champion and they shook hands… but then Sasha threw up the 4 fingers… This upon reflection wasn’t the best Ronda match we’ve seen, but was of a similar level. 

***3/4

Becky Lynch won the Women’s Royal Rumble Match 

Although at times the in-ring action wasn’t of the best standard, this was as fan-friendly a booked match as you could have put on. I must add though that the first, perhaps half of this match absolutely sucked wrestling wise but it definitely picked up as it went on. Every watching wanted one outcome, and it happened and everyone was happy after. What a concept! I’ll do my best to summarise all that went on here. The match itself went 1 hour 11: 24. To the delight of our friend Seana who was with us Lacey Evans debuted at number 1 (she cut an in-ring promo too which Seana loved trust me………. although she absolutely stunk wrestling wise). Natalya was number 2. Mandy Rose 3, Liv Morgan 4 but was almost immediately launched out by Natalya for our first elimination. Mickie James, Ember Moon and Billie Kay followed. Billie skated around the ring not wanting to get in it without Peyton with her (something I kind of called in my fantasy booked Rumble so I was happy). Fan favourite Nikki Cross came out next and attacked Billie and then hit a big dive in the ring on all those inside. Shockingly enough… PEYTON ROYCE came out at number 9 and shockingly too she quickly joined her Iconic partner in double-teaming Nikki Cross. Tamina was number 10 and got Mickie James out not long after. NXT’s Xia Li was number 11 which was A a surprise and B cool. Sarah Logan was number 12. Nikki Cross was thrown out by The IIconics which I hope and presume means she is Smackdown bound. Charlotte was number 13. Lacey Evans (whom as I presumed would be was booked fairly strong in this match) threw out both Royce and Kay. Charlotte threw out Xia Li (which as an NXT fan I didn’t mind as being eliminated by a huge name doesn’t do any damage to Li). My favourite wrestler Kairi Sane came out next and was absolutely excellent throughout in all she did (a shock to absolutely nobody who has seen her perform before). Charlotte eliminated Tamina (PRAISE THE LORD). And then a personal dream happened as Charlotte Flair and Kairi Sane exchanged chops. Kairi went on to hit her diving elbow on Sarah Logan and then team with Natalya to eliminate her. Maria Kanellis came out at 15 (she was also not so good shall we say at the ‘rassslin) and quickly surprised Lacey and Charlotte with a double-bulldog. Naomi was at 16 and quickly got out Mandy to carry on their story. Naomi then did her (seems like it will be) yearly spot; this time landing on her hands outside the ring, climbing on the barricade nearby, walking along it and then jumping onto the steel steps next to the ring to a big pop (bravo). Mandy thought pulled her down off the apron to eliminate her which pissed off the crowd after their delight at her feat. Lacey Evans then went out as our pal Seana rejoiced. CANDICE LERAE (aka Mrs “FUCKING PRICK”… check my friend Dan’s Instagram…) was next out which was awesome. She was followed by Alicia Fox who got into a fight with Maria over Fox’s “captain” hat and Fox threw her out. NXT’s Kacy Cantanzaro was number 19 which was wonderful to see. Zelina Vega was 20, Ruby Riott 21 and quickly aligned with her Riott Squad pals Liv and Sarah, leading to them eliminating Alicia Fox and then Candice LeRae (having her eliminated by a few women at once protects her so I was ok with that). Dana Brooke was number 22. Ruby Riott eliminated Kairi Sane (not cool but meh). Zelina Vega took up a spot hiding under the ring (makes sense). IO SHIRAI of NXT was number 23 which was delightful because she’s an exceptional wrestler. She quickly did a moonsault to the outside onto all members of the Riott Squad before she went in to the ring. Former NXT UK Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley was number 24 which I liked a lot. The one time Gymnast extraordinaire Kacy Cantanzaro then seemed to be eliminated, but landed on her hands outside the ring before walking on them back to the ring post and climbing up it (similar t what she does in her entrance to matches usually) to get back in to the ring. But of course she was immediately then caught and then eliminated by Rhea Ripley. For those who may have been unaware of Kacy before this it was certainly a way to make her memorable. Number 25 was Sonya Deville. Ripley eliminated Dana Brooke. And then as Zelina Vega was shown to pop out her head from under the ring and laugh… HORNSWOGGLE appeared! He chased a worried Vega in to the ring, she was then thrown out by Rhea Ripley, and Swoggle continued to chase Vega to the back… ok then… anyway Alexa Bliss made her in-ring return at number 26. She eliminated Sonya Deville. Bayley was 27, she then threw out Ruby Riott and Rhea Ripley (having her eliminated by an established name looks after her somewhat). Lana then came out as the supposed 28th participant in the match, but after the bump she took during the pre show US title match was limping and had her ankle taped up. Everyone I think knew what was coming here… meanwhile Nia Jax was number 29 and clocked Lana on her way to the ring for good measure. Jax then eliminated Io Shirai (again a protective booking of an NXT roster member so that was fine), and not long after got Natalya out too (Natalya entering at number 2 lasted 55 minutes which has to be applauded). Carmella was indeed number 30 to come out. And then the main story we all saw coming and all wanted actually happened. Lana continued to struggle on the entrance way as officials attended to her, Becky Lynch came out and reasoned with fellow with her countryman Fit Finlay who was seeing to Lana that she should replace the injured number 28 in the match. Finlay agreed and Lynch came in to the match and got as much a reaction as you would expect… which was just a tad loud… she immediately went after Nia Jax of course. Charlotte then failed to eliminate the crowd favourite as did Jax after. Alexa Bliss then eliminated Ember Moon (who I had before the match as my iron woman prediction and she did just under 52 and a half minutes). IRL pals Bayley and Carmella teamed to throw out Alexa Bliss. Charlotte Flair then eliminated Carmella leaving a final four of Nia Jax, Bayley, Becky and Charlotte (which considering I predicted the final 4 to be the WWE 4 horsewomen and Sasha wasn’t actually in the match I was pretty close with). Charlotte eliminated Bayley and Lynch eliminated Jax and we all had our dream final 2. Nia though took her anger out on Becky causing her to land on her knee. Charlotte looked on gleefully. Lynch defiantly told worried officials she was good to go and got in the ring. Flair targeted her injured knee right away, and the two had an exchange. It concluded with Becky hitting a Bexploder, Charlotte later going for a big boot to Becky whom ducked it causing Flair to be positioned for Lynch to chuck her out. As you can imagine this pleased pretty much everyone who was in the live crowd and was were I was watching. Becky celebrated for a fair amount of time after to the absolute delight of the crowd. There were no returning legends this year and a lot of NXT appearances which I was delighted with. No Bella twins. General consensus where I was seemed to be that the legends weren’t needed and the modern day talent was sufficient. Having watched back most of the Rumble matches from the last 20 years or so within the last few weeks I thought this one was amongst the most satisfactory to watch. Whilst the in-ring action maybe wasn’t the most thrilling it was still nonetheless booked very well I thought overall. Of course we were all waiting for Becky and naturally it got good when she made her appearance. But overall I thought this as Rumble matches go was terrible first half and good after that, and in my opinion better than the Women’s Rumble last year. Notable stats were that it went 1 hour 12 exactly, Charlotte got 5 eliminations, Natalya (56) Ember Moon (52) Charlotte (50) went longest, Liv Morgan (8 seconds) Naomi (1 minute 28) went shortest time. 

***1/2

Daniel Bryan (C) defeated AJ Styles to retain the WWE Championship

It is amazing to think a WWE Championship mach between possibly the two best wrestlers in the company could be in the death spot on the show, but such was the fan rejoice at the result of the previous match I don’t think everyone watching was as in to the quality of wrestling on show from these two as they otherwise would have been. It was pretty much what you would expect from these two throughout; hard hitting at times, great exchanges of mat wrestling at others etc etc. Not long before the finish it got weird. Erick Rowan came out… Bryan went for an Enziguri kick on Styles but hit the ref instead. This allowed for AJ to hit a Styles Clash only to then be Chokeslammed by Rowan and then Bryan got the win. The match was obviously good, but that ending… I’ve no idea where that came from… everyone watching no-sold it… Rowan picked up AJ after the match and Daniel Bryan hit the running knee. This was all surprising to say the least. Weird. Ending for me at least killed what was a good match. 

***3/4 

Brock Lesnar (C) with Paul Heyman defeated Finn Balor to retain the Universal Championship

Pretty much as exactly as expected this one. Main story was Finn targeted Lesnar’s stomach as a point of potential weakness. Man Finn (no Demon) fought well but came up short It went under 10 minutes which this far in to the show and still with another Rumble match still to come was probably wise, and it showed by the fact the people watching were much more vocal during this match than the one before. Lesnar did his stuff, Balor did his and it ended with Brock winning with a Kimura after a Balor nearfall from a Coupe de Grace. I’m pretty certain it has been years since Brock won a match with a Kimura lock so that was interesting. Balor got maybe a bit more offence in that expected so that was cool. After it was done Brock hit Finn with a few Germans, his music played, then he went back and gave Balor an F5 which pissed off the live crowd. I can see where they were coming from as it did come across as a bit unnecessary after beating him clean to then attack him after as well. For what it was this was pretty much spot on. 

****1/4 

Seth Rollins won the Men’s Royal Rumble Match 

Elias was number 1. He did his gimmick performance thing. JEFF JARRETT was bizarrely number 2. They had a sing-song together which I think everyone else watching enjoyed way more than I did. It ended when Elias hit Jarrett with an elbow and then over the back with his guitar. Elias then threw Jarrett out. Shinsuke Nakamura (and not ecTHREE sadly) was number 3. Kurt Angle was number 4 which naturally people loved. Big E was 5 but got Angle slammed pretty quick after. Nakamura threw out Angle. Mr “FUCKING PRICK” (again see my friend Dan Winder’s instagram and it’ll make sense) and new NXT North American Champion JOHNNY GARGANO was number 6 which of course people loved. Jinder was 7 and Gargano got rid of him pretty quick (thank GOD). Big E then put pancakes in to Samir Singh’s (one of Jinder’s whipping boys) mouth and hit his finisher on him. Samoa Joe was number 8 and got Big E out not long afterwards. Curt Hawkins was number 9. Rollins was 10. Titus O’Neil came out as number 11, but was careful to approach the ring slowly so as not to slip and then got under the ring anyway which was absolutely hilarious. He then got into the ring but Hawkins threw him out, who himself was then eliminated by Samoa Joe. In his 12th Rumble Kofi Kingston was number 12 in this one. Mustafa Ali was next at number 13 and pretty much right away got new US Champion Nakamura out (so one would presume that’ll be a US title programme soon). Dean Ambrose came out at number 14. Dean tried to get Kofi out but he stayed in it (of course he did…). Dean eliminated Johnny Gargano (again an NXT person eliminated by an established big main roster name after a fair amount of time in the match, so no qualms from me). No Way Jose was number 15 but was eliminated after TWO seconds by Joe… he then seamlessly went back to dancing with his conga line. Drew McIntyre was number 16 and attacked the conga and Jose en route to the ring. He then went on a rampage upon entering, delivering Claymores to Rollins, Dean and Samoa Joe fairly quickly. Xavier Woods entered at number 17 and quickly saved his New Day brother Kingston from going out, but was then (along with Kingston) eliminated by McIntyre not long afterwards. NXT UK Champion Pete Dunne was number 18 which of course me and everyone around me was ecstatic with. He got a big crowd reaction upon attacking Mustafa and Drew. Andrade was 19. Apollo was 20. Number 21 was NXT’s ALEISTER BLACK!!!!!!!!!!! He was though quickly set upon by a combination of Dean, Drew and also by Andrade (which for obvious reasons was funny). An almost forgotten man (one of many on Smackdown) Shelton Benjamin entered at number 22. Mustafa got rid of rival Samoa Joe. Corbin was 23, he got rid of Apollo. Jeff Hardy was number 24. BARON CORBIN ELIMINATED ALEISTER BLACK (WHAT ATROCITY HAVE WE ALL COMMITTED TO WARRANT THAT HAPPENING???? FML). Pete Dunne did his finger-break spot on Corbin (much better) but Drew made the save and threw Dunne out (again I was fine with that totally). Rey Mysterio entered at number 25. Intercontinental Champion Bobby Lashley was number 26 and pretty much right away was gone courtesy of Rollins. In retaliation Lashley dragged Rollins from the ring and put him threw an announce table. Braun Strowman was number 27. He got out Corbin, Shelton and Jeff Hardy fairly quick. Dolph Ziggler was number 28 and he eliminated tag team partner turned enemy Drew McIntyre (why???? FFS). Royal Rumble match veteran Randy Orton was number 29 this year. He tried to RKO Braun but got the big running Powerslam for his troubles. R Truth did indeed enter in the number 30 spot… but NIA JAX attacked him from behind and made her way to the ring (I’m not making any of what I’m about to type up, it all 100% actually took place. And yes although I had a lot of alcohol in my system at the time I’ve quadruple checked since and turns out it REALLY REALLY happened as I’m about to explain). Nia went after Dolph in the ring, then Andrade, then Rey. Nia Jax then headbutted Mustafa Ali in the 2019 Men’s Royal Rumble Match and proceeded to eliminate him from the match. Orton went for an RKO on Nia from behind but she saw it coming. Ziggler then superkicked Nia, Rey gave her a 619 and Orton hit an RKO on the former Raw Women’s Champion. and then Mysterio and Randy worked together to toss Nia Jax out. Yes all that really happened I’m deadly serious. Trust me I didn’t quite know what to make of it at the time and still don’t now but it was obviously notable as the first real time that a woman has received offence from a man in a WWE match for some time (there was the mixed tag at Mania last year of course but this was very very different from that). To me it appears to be possible the beginning of WWE following many smaller promotions and re-introducing the idea of intergender in-ring interactions Anyway back to somewhat normal service… Orton hit an RKO on Rey and got rid of him and then Andrade eliminated Orton (already looking forward to that match happening). We were left with a final 4 of Braun Strowman, Andrade, Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler which I guess it pretty fine. The 3 others ganged up on Braun for a time, but Strowman eventually tossed out Andrade and Ziggler separately. As was the case with the Women’s Rumble earlier on the final 2 participants were the two overwhelming favourites to win the match going in, but it was all absolutely fine once again as I’ll explain… They had a back and forth that concluded with Rollins Curb Stomping Strowman on the ring apron which led to his elimination (this was a really cool looking spot). Once again the favourite won the rumble. But once again nobody minded as it was the person we all wanted to win. Overall the action in the Men’s rumble seemed to be better than the Women’s before it. It was equally as fun throughout to watch unfold. Some minor annoyances during it but none sufficient enough to substantially take away from the match itself. Overall a fine Rumble, maybe not as good as last years but regardless it was still of a decent quality. Stats were it went 57 minutes 35 which was shorter than the Women’s Rumble earlier, Drew and Braun each got 4 eliminations, Rollins (43) lasted longest and Jarrett (1:19) Jinder (29 seconds) Titus (5 seconds) No Way Jose (2 seconds) Xavier Woods (3 seconds) Lashley (13 seconds) went shortest time in the ring. 

***3/4

Overall afterwards I think I speak for myself, Dan, Lorraine and Seana who I watched the show with, along with all the people in the sports bar with us and pretty much everyone else who watched live in saying this was a fun show to see. It was mighty long but I think we all knew it would be coming in but from the beginning of the pre show to the closing shot of Seth a shade under SEVEN HOURS had passed which is an obscene amount of time for any event in my opinion. Result wise it went almost exactly as expected but on the whole we got all the stuff we wanted. There was a lot of… weird stuff that happened too (Rowan I’m looking at you) but I guess that will all be explained on TV this coming week and thereafter. I know coming out of the show I personally felt happy. So a fine job WWE. And my Uncle Scott always asks me if he should go on to purchase each WWE PPV on DVD when it’s out. I will certainly be recommending this one to buy! 

Josh. 

 

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