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WWE: Royal Rumble and Monday Night Raw Review
This monthly article will focus on recapping the latest WWE Royal Rumble pay per view and the following Monday Night Raw. Today, I’ll be conducting the Royal Rumble review. The main point of the article is less of a move by move recap of each match, but more of the story revolving around the character. In an effort to keep things straight, we’ll go in chronological order of matches.
Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose(c) for the Intercontinental Title(Last Man Standing)
These two had the match of the night. Last Man Standing matches can be a bit repetitive with the referee counting so often. Owens and Ambrose did a great job of using the big spots when needed. In the end, Ambrose shoved Owens off the top rope to the floor through two tables. Ambrose was the right man to win, and Owens looked strong in defeat.
Both these performers also entered the Royal Rumble itself. Owens was given options for his next feud with AJ Styles or Sami Zayn during the match. Fighting either man would be a worthy program leading into Wrestlemania in a little over two months. It was strange that Owens made no reference of either man the next night on Raw.
Dean Ambrose had an even better showing in the Royal Rumble, making it to the final two. He came close to leaving with the Intercontinental AND World Heavyweight Championship belts. We’ll revisit the Rumble match in just a bit.
The Usos vs. The New Day(c) for the WWE Tag Team Championship
The New Day retained the titles after Big E scored the pin fall. Both these teams put in good work as usual. The staleness of the feud is neither team’s fault, it’s just a product of the tag team division being so thin right now. Both teams would come into play the next night with a returning star on Raw.
The Rock was back on WWE programming Monday night. There was a very off-putting moment where he shamed Lana(who is a female manager), implying the two had sex the last time the Rock was in WWE. If you think it was awkward typing that, try watching it. I know that was the character the Rock played years ago, but it shouldn’t really be on TV now. WWE shouldn’t come close to any male performer shaming a female character in any way.
The Rock came to the ring and ran through many of his normal lines before the New Day came out. If you’ve seen one Rock promo, you’ve pretty much seen them all at this point. It’s usually impossible to keep up with the Rock in a verbal setting. However, New Day held their own. They tried to duck a fight only to have the Usos come out to even the odds. The Rock hit his signature moves on New Day to end the segment. Oddly, Rock did not set up any role for Wrestlemania. We know he’ll be there, just not what capacity at this point.
Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio(c) for the United States Title
Not a terrible match, but nothing super exciting. Kalisto won the title for the second time after selling for Del Rio for most of the match. This is the third time within 10 days the title has changed hands between these two. Hopefully WWE stops playing hot potato and settles on Kalisto as champ. There is potential with him as a vulnerable champion that always finds a way to pull of the victory.
Del Rio barely had any role on Raw, while Kalisto battled the Miz in a non title match. I wonder if WWE will put Kalisto in a holding pattern with the U.S. Title until his tag team partner Sin Cara returns from injury. Sin Cara could play up the jealousy card since Kalisto won a major singles title, and the matches should be excellent.
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte(c) with Ric Flair for the Divas Championship
Becky Lynch has been doing great work as the baby face chasing the heel champion coming into the match. The match was a few minutes in when Lynch was on the outside of the ring and Ric Flair “stole” a kiss. Becky slapped him and hopped back in the ring. Again, this is very off-putting. There’s just no reward for a character to force another character into a kiss. After another distraction from Flair, Charlotte picked up the win to retain her title. Post match, Sasha Banks came out to kick Lynch from the ring and attack Charlotte from behind.
On Raw, Banks faced off with Lynch in a short lived match. Charlotte came down to interfere and end the match in around five minutes. We seem to be heading into a Triple Threat match for the next big event, Fast Lane. These ladies need a chance to flesh out their characters as we go, especially Banks. The crowd seemed unsure if the should cheer or boo her. Hopefully we’re building towards Banks winning the title at Wrestlemania. Mayne then we can get rid of the silly looking title belt and the word Diva. It’s FAR past time for the ladies to be the Women’s Division and be treated seriously.
30 Man Royal Rumble for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
With Roman Reigns being forced to defend his title in the Rumble, the list of potential winners was very short. Fans knew Reigns was in first, and the biggest “surprise” of the night came at the third entrant, AJ Styles. He has been one of the best performers not in WWE for the past decade or so. He had a good showing before being eliminated by Kevin Owens after around 28 minutes into the match. Styles also had a very nice debut singles match on Raw with Chris Jericho. It remains to be seen who his first feud will be with. On a side note, teasing his finishing move the Styles Clash is a good call. The first time Styles hits it on WWE TV, it should be in a huge moment.
As the match went on, Reigns was pulled out under the bottom rope and was beat up by the League of Nations, a faction comprised of Seamus, Rusev, Wade Barrett and Alberto Del Rio. For some unknown reason, they decided to just beat him up without actually eliminating him from the Rumble match. Reigns was taken to the back by trainers. This is not the last time the story of Roman Reigns will be completely illogical.
Another potential WrestleMania storyline played out a little while after with the Wyatt Family and Brock Lesnar. Braun Strowman, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper were all in the match when Lesnar entered and proceeded to clean house. He eliminated all three men before Bray Wyatt entered. Once Bray hit the ring, Lesnar was jumped by all four members of the Wyatt Family.
It took all four to dump Lesnar to the outside. This has to be one of my least favorite Rumble stipulations. There is zero logic behind guys who have been eliminated being allowed to eliminate active participants of the match. This is double when the title is actually on the line. Both Lesnar and advocate Paul Heyman walked to the back and weren’t heard from on Raw. Lesnar should be a lot more angry that the Wyatts tossed him. He was not pinned or submitted when he lost the title, but he never mentions it. Heyman is the only one.
Seamus tried to enter at number 29, but Reigns came flying in from the back to Superman Punch him. Roman hopped back into the ring, only to see Triple H enter at number 30 a short time later. The final four in the Rumble match were Seamus, Triple H, Dean Ambrose and Reigns. After some back and forth, Triple H emerged as the new WWE Champion.
The start of Monday Night Raw was reserved for gloating by Triple H, and the announcement that they would make a number one contender’s match at Fast Lane for a title shot at WrestleMania. One of the most confusing parts of the night was the match the Authority made. Brock Lesnar versus Dean Ambrose versus Roman Reigns in a Triple Threat match at Fast Lane just doesn’t make sense.
First, why are they giving Reigns another shot at the title? The whole point of the storyline is the Authority doesn’t want Reigns as champion. Why give him a chance to main event the biggest show of the year? Second, if Triple H wants to hold the title as long as possible, why in the world would he allow Brock Lesnar in that match? Most fans assume the Wyatts will cost Lesnar the match. But Lesnar has been singularly dominant for well over a year. Triple H should want no part of him in a one on one title match. Third, Ambrose has always been aligned with Reigns. Why would the Authority give him a chance?
Overall, the Royal Rumble was a well booked pay per view. It planted seeds for a ton of matches for the next two months. Unfortunately, Raw did a very poor job at continuing anything past the title scene. There is time for WWE to get all these feuds simmering, but next week’s Raw is very important to kick start the process. Hopefully when I review the Fast Lane pay per view, WWE will be in a much better spot story wise.
You can follow me on Twitter at @Bucn4life.