The Road to Wrestlemania begins, and when tonight’s show has finished we will know two of the top contenders for championships at Wrestlemania, because the Royal Rumble rolls through Houston, Texas. Minute Maid Park will play host to the two battle royales, where 30 of WWE, NXT and NXT UK’s top women will face off for a championship match at Wrestlemania. On the men’s side, things aren’t quite as simple, because for tthe 29 other competitors from across the world of wrestling, they have to go through the man who has elected to enter the match first: The WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar. The WWE Universal Championship will also be defended when the unstable Bray Wyatt faces off against a reinvigorated Daniel Bryan, and Baron Corbin goes tow ar with Roman Reigns in a match were falls will count anywhere. All of these huge matches and much more as WWE begins the Road to Wrestlemania at the Royal Rumble.
+ Men’s Royal Rumble Match: Brock Lesnar beginning the match had some huge implications, and there were a lot of interesting things they could have done, but they did not do them. The Lesnar experiment was a resounding failure in my mind. Outside of that saga, this was not bad at all. A number of different stories came into play towards the end, each of which made sense, and made for a more exciting match. I personally would have liked some more NXT involvement, considering they are meant to be ‘equal’, and the Women’s Rumble showed it is only a positive for fresh faces to appear, but what I got was more than fine, and the winner was well deserved
+ Becky Lynch (c) vs Asuka (w/ Kairi Sane) (WWE Raw Championship): despite a quickly quieting crowd, this was an all right match. The story has been building between the two for a long time now, and they have the in-ring skills to back it up when the bell rings, so I certainly rate this highly. The match itself was good, and the ending made a lot of sense given recent happenings, and I Look forward to whatever comes next for everyone involved
+ “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt (c) vs Daniel Bryan (Strap Match for the WWE Universal Championship): I don’t think this needed to be a strap match, and by the look of things, both Wyatt and Bryan may have regretted that decision by the end. The whips from the strap were terrifying as how they tore the flesh of Bryan in particular (because Wyatt at least wears a shirt). Bryan could get a good match from a broom, so this was always going to be good, and it was
+ Women’s Royal Rumble Match: Rumble matches are always good, but this was really, really good. A few surprises, a few not-surprises and all the standard fair were here to play, and aside from a particularly nasty looking, very bloody cut to the back of one woman’s head (but trust me, she didn’t mind) this was a clean match. NXT is a blessing upon this company’s women’s division, and that has never been more clear than in this match
+ Andrade (c) (w/ Zelina Vega) vs Humberto Carillo (WWE United States Championship): the fact that these two are great wrestlers, have a title on the line and a solid story backing it up and were STILL stuck on the kickoff show goes to show just how little the WWE wants these two to succeed. The fact it was a great match besides all that is even more proof that these two are going to be huge… eventually
+ Sheamus vs Shorty G: Chad Gable is a legitimate Olympic medallist, and I think he deserves better than this ‘Short G’ crap – but if he’s happy, then who am I to doubt him. I have missed Sheamus more than I thought I might, and I enjoyed this match, especially for a Kickoff Show throwaway
– Bayley (c) vs Lacey Evans (WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship): this was not very good. Lacey has had a good build up, and she has certainly improved, but on a big stage lik ethis it was not a good showing. I’m enjoying Bayley as the bad bitch champion, but she also requires certain opponents to put on good matches, and Lacey was not that
– Roman Reigns vs Baron Corbin (Falls Count Anywhere Match): this was horrible. Not violent, intense or technically any good, this was not even a good brawl. Corbin and Reigns each have such an upside when paired with the right opponent, and I can’t believe they are dead set on these two always working together
– not match related, but the camera work for this show, especially the two Royal Rumble matches, was abysmal. Big moves, entrances and celebrations were all missed or cut short to show uninterested members of the audience. Match quality has not been a huge issue for WWE in a while, and outside of the stories themselves, this horrendous camera work is something that needs to be changed
Should you watch this event: As a whole, this was a show of ups and downs. But nobody watches this event in particular for the non-Rumble matches, and thankfully both of them were pretty damn good. Wyatt/Bryan and Becky/Asuka were pretty good, too, but avoid the rest of the matches.