Wrestling Review: WWE Royal Rumble (2023)

The Road to Wrestlemania begins here, as two huge Royal Rumble matches will determine the top two championship matches at Wrestlemania in just a few months’ time. Across two matches, 30 of the top men and women in WWE will compete in the over the top rope battle royals, where the winner of each will go on to choose which of their respective division championships they will contend for at the Showcase of the Immortals. In the main event, the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns looks to continue his unprecedented run in this modern era when he faces Kevin Owens for the title. Reigns will not only have Paul Heyman in his corner, but Sami Zayn as well, where Reigns has promised that Zayn will face one final test of loyalty. The history between Zayn and Owens cannot be overstated, and just what this final test may entail is anybody’s guess. Bianca Belair will also be in action when she defends the Raw Women’s title against Alexa Bliss, the latter of who has had once again been falling into some dark and disturbing habits. Those dark habits, of course, are the result of a former partnership (for lack of a better word with Bray Wyatt, who will himself be in action against LA Knight in the anything goes, first time ever Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match.

+ 30-Woman Royal Rumble Match: this was all over the place, with just as many good moments as obvious horrors. The regular names were actually good, and thankfully the final few were more than good enough to carry the most important moment of the match on their back. Off the top of my head there were more surprises in this one than in the men’s match, and that did make this more exciting than the men’s match overall
+ 30-Man Royal Rumble Match: Rumble matches are always exciting, and I’m happy to say that though there were a few bigger chances to win than others, overall this could have gone a few different ways. Again as always, there were lots of missed opportunities and some strange entrance orders, but I don’t think it did enough bad to hamper an otherwise exciting match. I had my picks both to win and those I hoped wouldn’t, and I came close in both cases. I still have some issues, but overall this was lots of fun and one of the better matches in recent years

Roman Reigns (c) (w/ Paul Heyman & Sami Zayn) vs Kevin Owens (Undisputed WWE Universal Championship): this match did nothing for me. Sami Zayn is the most interesting part of this whole story, so I appreciate that Kevin Owens was the best option for an opponent, but for my money Sami Zayn was Reigns’ biggest opponent. Owens didn’t look to be at his best, and Reigns was working as slowly and ‘methodically’ as he has ever looked. The aftermath was most interesting part of all of this, but it dragged for far too long
Bianca Belair (c) vs Alexa Bliss (WWE Raw Women’s Championship): literally nothing happened in this match and it was so short I don’t even know what the point of it was. This is not entirely a knock on the women themselves, but the whole thing just gets a half-assed shrug from me

– – Bray Wyatt vs LA Knight (Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match): that’s right, a double negative mark. What in the absolute fuck was this? I am a fan of Bray Wyatt overall – I thought his cult leader schtick was lots of fun, and then the stuff with Brodie/Orton was a way to humanise him, and more recently the Fiend was one of the better spooky wrestling gimmicks – but enough is enough. LA Knight has the look, the mic skills and the in-ring ability to be a huge star in the WWE, but not if he’s stuck in bullshit like this

> I’ve never understood why the WWE uses the Royal Rumble matches to debut new music/remixes for the wrestlers. The opening notes are what most people will cheer/boo for, and the themes people aren’t familiar with are just awkward pauses in the action
> Michael Cole gave a shoutout to the new streaming service here in Aus, BINGE, which is where I was watching this. It’s nice to feel included

Should you watch this event: This was obviously only a two-match show, and those two matches certainly delivered. I cannot understand what was going through anybody’s head with that Wyatt/Knight garbage, and the two title matches were just not worth my time. Anyone could have told you that either of the Royal Rumble matches should have been last, in this instance obviously the Men’s match.

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