Shinsuke Nakamura def. Rusev (C) – United States Championship
I actually somewhat thought in the back of my mind that Shinsuke Nakamura would take the title back from Rusev, and it would primarily be because of Lana distracting him.
Overall, this was actually pretty fun. It didn’t overstay its welcome and it got straight to the point. Both men put on a solid, hard-hitting affair that kept the crowd engaged. Not sure what the point of putting the title on arises to begin with was, though. ***
Buddy Murphy (C) def. Kalisto, Hideo Itami and Akira Tozawa – Cruiserweight Championship
So, in case you didn’t already know, the Cruiserweights are dope. This was exactly what I was expecting and I’m glad we got it. It was a sprint from the moment the bell rang, and each person got to have a reasonable amount of offense in. I especially liked the sequences with Buddy Murphy and Hideo Itami.
Hideo Itami was the only one in the match to not hold the Cruiserweight Title and I suspected they might put the title on him here, but Buddy Murphy is the safe choice for the moment. This was high-action, little BS and entertaining all the way through. ***3/4
Asuka (C) def. Becky Lynch – SmackDown Women’s Championship
I didn’t think the ending was in question, but you could have fooled me with that ending. This was a fantastic match to begin the night, and these two had tremendous chemistry with each other. What I especially loved was the battle of submission holds, and how each women resorted to copying the other’s signature move. I don’t think the image of Asuka hitting Cattle Mutilation will ever leave my mind.
Of course, this leads to the expected speculation that Becky Lynch will now enter the Rumble and win. If she’s able to win the Royal Rumble after this showing, what a night for her. A fantastic, physical, competitive outing to begin the night that made both women look good. ****
The Miz and Shane McMahon def. Cesaro (C) and Sheamus (C) – SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Okay, I’ll start by saying that I’m not exactly Shane McMahon’s biggest fan, because I prefer actual wrestlers competing in 2019, but he worked his ass off here. This match completely blew away my expectations. I actually thought this would be bumped to the pre-show.
They told a simple story, kept everything basic, and made the big moments impactful. I’m not entirely sure what the long-term plan is here, but for now, this was pretty damn good.
Although I am a bit perturbed that Cesaro has been pinned clean by Shane McMahon and lost at WrestleMania to a 10 year old within a year, this was way better than anything the Raw tag division could dream of. ***1/2
Ronda Rousey (C) def. Sasha Banks – Raw Women’s Championship
Kind of a hard match to grade. I certainly enjoyed it more than I hated it. However, when I compare this with the women of SmackDown LIVE, it was kind of disjointed. Some of the spots just wasn’t crisp and at times it wasn’t pleasant to look at. For example, Sasha at one point did a Suicide Dive on Ronda Rousey, but Ronda Rousey somehow ended up on top.
I did enjoy the limb work from Sasha Banks and her desperate attempts to make her tap out by using her attire and biting. Ronda Rousey was also extremely physical, although some of her offensive spots looked very awkward.
Again, I did like it, but I guess Becky Lynch/Asuka was what I thought this match would be. Solid enough. ***1/4
Becky Lynch Wins Women’s Royal Rumble Match
One on hand, it shouldn’t be painfully obvious that someone who was competing in a title match would eventually win the Royal Rumble. On the other hand, who cares? Becky Lynch is going to freaking WrestleMania, and we’re getting the Ronda Rousey/Becky Lynch match that’s months in the making.
Now, let’s get down to the actual match. The biggest thing that hampered it down for me was the order of superstars. They didn’t really stagger the names as evenly as I’d like. With the exception of Charlotte Flair at 13 to carry things, the Rumble was filled to the brim with women most casuals initially had trouble recognizing.
Most of the big names were within the final five of the match, and I think that kind of hurt the middle portion a bit. There were some entertaining bits, such as Naomi and Kacy Catanzaro’s ingenuity and the return of Hornswoggle.
I did like the representation of NXT, although that was to be predicted considering last year’s Royal Rumble was filled with every major women’s name in the last 20 years.
Overall, though, this was a pretty damn good Royal Rumble. While the end with Becky was a bit too John Cena-y, this is definitely another star-making moment for her, and all of the other women worked extremely hard. I never really tuned out, and it was fun to me. ****
Daniel Bryan (C) def. AJ Styles – WWE Championship
Well, that was certainly a thing that happened. So let’s address the upside down Sheamus in the room. Can you think of a return that was ever so awkward? I mean, AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan are having a WWE Title match at the second biggest PPV of the year, and it’s decided with interference from… Erick Rowan?
Like, can you imagine if instead of Vince McMahon walking down the WrestleMania aisle to interfere in the Rock/Austin WrestleMania 17 main event, we got Gillberg? It’s just so random. The apparent alliance is interesting to say the least.
Let’s get to the actual match. It was okay, but I don’t think it was what it needed to be. The major factor working against this match was the fact that everyone in the arena literally just sat on their asses for 70 minutes. You can’t expect to get the crowd into your cool off match with prolonged chain wrestling.
In addition, I’m not a fan of having this match go nearly half an hour just to have a finish where the referee conveniently gets knocked out the moment the lamer half of The Bludgeon Brothers decides to interfere.
I’ve also suffered some burnout from watching these two fight each other so often in a short period of time. It’s similar to the deal with a Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins last year. These two need time away from each other for a while.
Overall, a good match, but the wrong match they needed to have. ***
Brock Lesnar (C) def. Finn Bálor – Universal Championship
I hope you guys saw the antithesis in the pace with this match. I actually predicted the match would begin with Finn Bálor’s signature corner drop kick. This was the pace the WWE Title match needed. Energetic and non-stop from the opening bell.
That being said, the match can only be so good when the match is so short. The match was definitely headed in the right place, with Finn Bálor doing his research in that Brock Lesnar has a history of diverticulitis and targeting the midsection. Brock Lesnar’s selling was also appreciated as well.
But with the way the march was going, that finish was way too abrupt. Now I understand they are working against the clock, and the match didn’t end until around quarter to 11. Well, maybe if they had shaved 10 or so minutes from AJ Styles/Daniel Bryan, this match could have been more on the level that Brock Lesnar has had with Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles.
Certainly a great sprint, but ultimately too short for me to care about, and Finn Bálor ends up looking like a geek, and essentially proves Vince McMahon right. Oh well. There’s always the Intercontinental Title. **1/2
Seth Rollins wins the Men’s Royal Rumble
I had Drew McIntyre winning because Seth Rollins was the obvious pick, and it seemed deceptively obvious. In addition, Seth Rollins defeated who I thought was going to win the Rumble, Drew McIntyre, clean on Raw. I’m far from mad because Seth Rollins is my guy, and I’m very much looking forward to Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.
This is probably the greatest Royal Rumble match of all time for the mere fact that we saw Nia Jax get RKO’d. I got my money’s worth right then and there.
In terms of surprises, I was pleased. I think we’re at the point where Royal Rumble matches need to be about the present and future. Past legends every now and again are fine, but I did like the NXT representation a whole lot more. I had around 3 or so debuting in this match, and we did get just that.
There was also some pretty neat storyline progression as well, such as Mustafa Ali eliminating Samoa Joe. Royal Rumble matches are a bit more interesting when WWE acknowledges that people are also supposed to be beefing with each other.
I believe this Rumble match was shorter than the women’s and it thankfully had more of a brisk pace to it. Guys went it and just did their thing. I must say that the final four of Andrade, Dolph Ziggler, Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins was about as random is it got, but it did work for me.
Overall, it wasn’t anything particularly memorable, but it certainly was high in quality, and much like the women’s, I enjoyed watching it unfold. ***3/4
The 2019 Royal Rumble was a very good PPV that desperately needed some time shaved off. I’m sorry, but even if this is a big PPV, you can’t be holding PPV’s that last nearly a third of one day.
There was certainly more good than bad on this show, as both Rumble matches were pretty good, the tag title match was surprisingly hot, and the SD Women’s title match delivered. However, both world title matches were disappointing and there were things that just needlessly padded time, such as the Elias/Jeff Jarrett segment.
I wouldn’t watch this start to finish again. If this was just Becky Lynch/Asuka, both Royal Rumble matches, the Universal Title match, 15 minutes of the WWE Title match and maybe just the tag title match on a one hour pre-show, I would be good. What we still got was very well done, but needlessly elongated.