This year’s Royal Rumble didn’t really have the greatest build up to it; rather than focusing on potential winners and weaving some storylines throughout the two Rumble matches, the WWE opted to hang their hat on the “unique” aspect of WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar competing in the match and just kind of let the rest of the card fall into place.
However, some strong matches and some surprising appearances, and results, helped to make up for some of the shortcomings of the night and resulted in an interesting field being laid out for WrestleMania this year.
Until then, though, let’s take a look at what went down and see if we can map out that road a little bit.
Surprising no one, this match opened the kickoff show for the night and, despite mounting some offense and desperately trying to make Sheamus tap out to the Ankle Lock, Shorty G came up…short…against Sheamus’ brute strength.
However, Shorty looked pretty good, even in defeat, but all the moxie and underdog fire in the world doesn’t change the fact that Chad is lumbered with a stupid name, stupid ring attire, and a stupid gimmick. He should be proving his mettle through his amateur wrestling background and technical ability but, instead, his natural talent is forever overshadowed by this weird-ass gimmick.
Presumably, though, we’ll see these two tangle again at some point so that Shorty can eventually come out on top…or Sheamus will just keep kicking his teeth in for the next few months until we’re all sick of seeing it.
My prediction: Sheamus to win.
Actual winner: Sheamus by pin fall.
This turned out to be a bit of an odd match; rather than a fast-paced, over-the-top contest that built and built to a crescendo, there was some undue hesitation and it felt as though they were working a step behind their usual speed.
Nonetheless, there was a great near fall off a top-rope Hurricanrana and, surprisingly, Zelina Vega was basically a non-factor for a change, allowing Andrade ti retain through a quick roll-up on his own merits for a change.
It seems the WWE is quite big on Humberto Carrillo but I’m not entirely convinced he’s much more than a bland babyface as he hasn’t really “wow’ed” me since appearing on the main roster. There’s still time to change that but the WWE has an annoying tendency to slap the United States Championship on top potential up-and-coming babyfaces and then do nothing with them so it’s hard to get too excited.
My prediction: Andrade to win and retain the championship.
Actual winner: Andrade by pin fall, retains championship.
Nothing like being stuck in the opening match to show how humbled Roman Reigns has become in recent months. As expected, Reigns didn’t just have to contend with Baron Corbin; he also had to fend off Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler but the Usos soon arrived to even things out.
This match was full of over-the-top brawling all around the arena, featuring spots through tables and even Corbin taking a tumble in a port-a-potty (thankfully, he didn’t emerge covered in shit). The two of them ended up in the dug out where Reigns shrugged off a bunch of chair shots, landed the Superman Punch, and finally got the win with a Spear.
Thankfully, this seemed to be a decisive end to this seemingly never-ending feud, with Reigns getting a decisive win and humiliating Corbin at the same time. I don’t for a second believe that the WWE will put the brakes on Corbin’s push but, hopefully, these two and spend a bit of time away from each other going forward.
My prediction: Roman Reigns to win.
Actual winner: Roman Reigns by pin fall.
And here we go, a match built entirely around one woman: Charlotte Flair. Luckily, Flair didn’t rear her head until number 17, giving Bianca Belair a chance to make one hell of an impression by tossing people all over the show.
We got a few surprise appearances; Molly Holly, for one, Mercedes Martinez, Kelly Kelly, Beth Phoenix, and even…Santina Marella. Gotta say, I don’t feel including a joke of a character in drag is very appropriate for 2020; have a joke entrant, for sure, but maybe keep the men out of the women’s Royal Rumble?
Anyway, the match eventually whittled down to Beth, Shayna Baszler, Charlotte, and…Natalya, of all people. Beth chucked out Nattie, then got sent out by Shayna but, in the end, the status quo prevailed over common sense and Charlotte threw out Shayna to get the win.
I can’t say I’m massively impressed with that result; not only was Shayna a far better and more fitting choice (her best mate is Rhonda Rousey so a feud with Becky Lynch just makes perfect sense) but even breakout stars like Bianca would have made a welcome change. But, of course, it cannot be allowed that the WWE has put on a WrestleMania without their golden girl in the main event so there’s that to look forward to…
My prediction: Shayna Baszler to win.
Actual winner: Charlotte Flair by elimination.
This was nicely placed to let people cool down a bit after the women’s Rumble match; that, and perhaps Lacey Evans’ ineffectiveness as a babyface, may have contributed to the lack of interest the crowd had in the contest.
There wasn’t much to write home about in this match; Lacey kicked out of an early Top-Rope Elbow Drop and worked a strength game but Bayley brought the fire, taunted the crowd, and eventually got the win by grabbing a good handful of Lacey’s tights.
This probably won’t be the end for these two, mainly because there doesn’t seem to be any other contenders (or competitors) on Friday Night SmackDown for Bayley to face; maybe it’d be better to shift Bianca Belair up to the blue brand so that we can get a proper babyface challenger for Bayley (…but we’ll end up with Sasha Banks, somehow).
My prediction: Bayley to win and retain the championship.
Actual winner: Bayley by pin fall, championship retained.
Thankfully, finally, the WWE decided to turn off the red lights for this match and just let the Fiend, Bray Wyatt, and Daniel Bryan go at it unimpeded. The big story here was Bryan bringing everything eh had and the Fiend shrugging it off; in a nice change of pace, this didn’t mean Wyatt kicking out of a finisher spamfest and, instead, saw him power through spots such as countering the Running Knee into a Sister Abigail and getting choked in a Yes! Lock that included brutal use of the strap.
However, Wyatt escaped the hold, whipped Bryan into a red-welted mess, and finished him off with a Mandible Claw Chokeslam to retain. As expected the entire point here was to, again, put over the Fiend as this unstoppable, unhinged monster and, in that regard, the match succeeded. Bryan is the perfect guy to help put over Wyatt’s new character and I half-expect to see them battle one last time before WrestleMania.
My prediction: The Fiend, Bray Wyatt, to win and retain the championship.
Actual winner: The Fiend, Bray Wyatt, by pin fall, championship retained.
Apparently, Asuka represents a massive piece of unfinished business for Becky Lynch as she hasn’t been able to beat her in singles competition. With that in mind, such a match would probably make sense if a) the WWE hadn’t ruined Asuka in the last year or so b) there had been some real build up beyond just randomly bringing this plot point up and c) Asuka wasn’t the WWE Women’s Tag team Champion, as her focus on a singles title kind of devalues the tag belt.
Anyway, it was all academic as, despite finally being portrayed as an actual threat throughout the match, Becky finally put Asuka away when she dodged the Poison Mist and locked in the Dis-Arm-Her. So, I guess we’ll be seeing Becky vs. Charlotte at WrestleMania while Asuka refocuses on her tag team responsibilities but I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see them tangle once more on the road to WrestleMania.
My prediction: Becky Lynch to win and retain the championship.
Actual winner: Becky Lynch by submission, championship retained.
So Brock Lesnar was, obviously, number one, which meant that fools got wrecked for quite a while; he busted up Elias, made short work of Erick Rowan, and launched John Morrison right back to Lucha Underground. He only encountered any real issue once Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, and Big E joined forces to try and take him out with a finisher-fest but Lesnar simply threw them all out anyway, because why bother trying to give Kofi a little bit of payback?
Neither Keith Lee or Matt Riddle fared much better, which is legitimately disappointing for their eventual appearances on the main roster but, as with the women’s Royal Rumble, we got some massive appearances here: MVP randomly showed up (dressed as Black Panther, no less) but the real story was the welcome and entirely unexpected appearance of Edge and Lesnar being taken out by Drew McIntyre!
The match eventually came down to Edge, Randy Orton (who briefly reunited as Rated-RKO), Roman Reigns, and Drew McIntyre; Edge saw Orton sneaking up on him and took him out then got into a losing battle with Reigns, who was eventually laid out with the Claymore and chucked over the top rope to give us one hell of a surprising winner that really made up for Charlotte’s lacklustre win earlier in the night.
Given that McIntyre so decisively took out Lesnar, you have to believe that he’ll be challenging Brock at WrestleMania, which gives the WWE a few months to put some effort into turning McIntyre into a bad-ass tweener/babyface. This seems like quite a chore to me as McIntyre has done nothing but nefarious deeds since returning t the WWE but people are really rallying behind his ability to kick ass and take names so, hopefully, this will be Drew’s time to finally shine.
My prediction: Braun Strowman to win.
Actual winner: Drew McIntyre by elimination.
What are your thoughts on this year’s Royal Rumble? Did your predictions pan out better than mine? Where do you see Edge going from here? Sound off in the comments and join me for next months pay-per-view.