Another year, another Rumble. After last year’s mess of a Rumble, let’s look and see how this year’s Royal Rumble shaped up, match by match.
Intercontinental Death Fight
The pay per view was kicked off by an absolute barn burner of an Intercontinental Title match. Dean Ambrose defending against Kevin Owens in a Last Man Standing match. There’s not much to be said that will do this match justice, you really just have to go watch it. Normally Last Man Standing matches kill the pace of the show because a lot of the match winds up being both wrestlers taking a breather while a ref counts to ten, but this match was consistently fast paced and frantic. Owens and Ambrose found new and impressive ways to kick the shit out of each other. Ultimately Kevin Owens took a trip through a couple tables and laid down for the ten count.
The New Day
This section is titled The New Day, because they were the only thing about the tag match that was interesting or entertaining. Somehow, New Day manages to keep their gimmick entertaining, always adding something new to keep it from growing stale. The introduction of Francesca 2, to replace their original trombone Francesca 1, who was murdered by Chris Jericho, was fantastic. There’s not much to say about this match, New Day did their thing, the Usos were boring as usual, and New Day picked up the clean three with a Big Ending.
Next up was Kalisto challenging Alberto Del Rio for the United States Championship. It wasn’t a great match, it seemed like a watered down version of their Raw and Smackdown matches in the last couple of weeks. There were some nice lucha spots from Kalisto, and Del Rio was booked very strong. Eventually, Kalisto picks up the belt by countering an exposed turnbuckle spot and hitting a Solita Del Sol.
No Banks, No Thanks
The last match before the Rumble was the Diva’s title match between Charlotte and Becky Lynch. This has oddly enough, been the best feud on TV in quite some time. Becky has not taken kindly to Charlotte acting like a dirty heel, and the two former best friends have been beating the shit out of each other for a few weeks. This was a fast and fun match. Becky was booked very strong, getting the best of Charlotte throughout the match, and only losing due to drunken Ric Flair antics. Post-match, Sasha Banks returns and beats down both women and poses with the title. Yes please.
The Roman Rumble
First, let’s deal with the elephant in the room; Roman Reigns. This year’s Rumble was very much centered on Roman, the man who almost killed the business by winning the Rumble last year. The problem is not that Roman is an awful wrestler. Roman is bad but he’s far from the worst in the company, the problem is with the booking of Roman Reigns. This whole Rumble was booked on recreating the 1999 Rumble, with the Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Mr. McMahon feud. However, it’s now being done with Vince being an old man, and Roman, a man with less than a fifth the charisma of Stone Cold. It doesn’t work. The worst was having Roman removed from the Rumble early on by the League of Nations so he has an excuse to go to the back and have a rest. This was such a flimsy attempt at covering up that Roman doesn’t have the gas tank to last from #1 to the final 4 like he was expected to. Also, doesn’t Reigns skipping over half the Rumble and re-entering at the same time as Sheamus, #29, make him a heel? The crowd were not on Roman’s side, and the right call was made in having him lose the belt, but that leads into another issue.
Triple H. At this stage, it is painfully clear that the main event of Wrestlemania 32 will be Roman Reigns vs Triple H for the title, with Roman going over. There’s no point in fighting gravity, let’s not dwell on that too much. While Triple H winning advances Reigns’ story arc, the rumble should have been won by promising young talent, not the 46 year old heir to the entire company. If the Reigns vs Triple H feud is such a big deal, the title shouldn’t have to be in the picture. Triple H eliminating Roman was the right call, but why couldn’t the Rumble be won by Dean Ambrose, or another hot babyface?
There were a lot of great things about the Rumble match though. The biggest one being AJ FUCKING STYLES. Mr. TNA made his WWE debut and had a great showing Rumble, coming in early, lasting a long time, getting some eliminations, and being booked on par with established stars. AJ came out to a pop the WWE wishes Roman could get. Sami Zayn also showed up and rekindled his rivalry with Kevin Owens, and wasn’t injured in the process. Seriously, the booking of this Rumble was on point, and was miles ahead of last year’s. There’s so much more that could be said about this show, great stuff like the Social Outcasts, or bad stuff like the live 50/50 booking between the Wyatt’s and Lesnar, but overall it was a great Rumble, and a great starting note for 2016.