It’s been universally panned, so much so that there was even a news story about it on the BBC website. But was it as bad as everyone said it was? Well, that’s what I’m hoping to find out by watching WWE’s Royal Rumble, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Box Office here in Britain.
The broadcast began with Daniel Bryan taking on his arch nemesis Bray Wyatt.
This was a tremendous way to start the show, and it may also be the best match that either men have during their WWE careers.
It began with Bryan trying to kick the hell out of his tormentor, but when Wyatt’s boys tried to interfere the referee promptly dismissed them from ringside.
From there we were treated to an absolute ton of incredible action. The performances of both guys was perfect, the storytelling was spot on throughout, and they had the fans in the palms of their hands from start to finish.
Both guys went all out to get the win, and after numerous pin attempts and massive moves it took a move outside the ring to signal the end. When Bryan ran the ropes and went for a suicide dive Wyatt caught him and took him down with a sister Abigail-like move against the barricade.
Wyatt then pushed his man back into the ring, and after a proper sister Abigail it was all over as Wyatt took the three count and pin.
Then it was on to the battle of the behemoths as the Big Show faced Paul Heyman guy Brock Lesnar.
We certainly had a lot of drama in this one. Lesnar attacked Show as soon as he got in the ring and before the match had started. Countless chair shots later and it looked as if the big man was out of it.
The referee eventually managed to stop the assault, and after checking on Show’s condition he finally called for the bell. But just as Lesnar was about to deliver another chair shot Show sent him into la-la land with the big right, almost knocking him out.
A brief skirmish outside followed, and once they got back in the ring Show connected with another right, this time to the body. However, just when he was looking for that big knockout show Lesnar lifted him onto his shoulders and took him down with the F5 for the winning pin.
That wasn’t the end of Lesnar’s night though. Countless more chair shots followed until the assault eventually stopped.
The only title match of the broadcast saw John Cena challenging Randy Orton for the WWE World title, with the win decided by either pin or submission.
Once again I have mixed feelings with regards to a Cena/Orton encounter. When this was first announced my first thought was “again?”, and although some of the exchanges were okay, once again I couldn’t help but think that we’d seen this all before.
There just doesn’t seem to be much chemistry, much fluidity, when these two go up against each other. Some if this wasn’t bad I suppose, but when wrestlers have to start using each other’s finishers to get a reaction you just know that something isn’t quite right.
The best part of this match came towards the end. While Cena was applying the STF for the umpteenth time the lights went out as the Wyatts appeared around the ring. Distracted, Cena was easy prey as Orton took him down with another RKO for the title retaining pin.
The Viper then headed for the hills as Wyatt and his boys took Cena apart, with Wyatt sealing the deal with the sister Abigail, which actually drew more reaction from the fans than the match itself.
Then it was on to the main event, the Royal Rumble match itself.
Beginning with C.M. Punk and the Shield’s Seth Rollins, this one was packed with the usual ingredients. We had the usual surprise entrants in the form of Kevin Nash and JBL, who left his position at the commentary desk only to be eliminated just over twenty seconds later.
Then there were the returns from injury in the form of Sheamus, who looked like he’d never been away, and the somewhat surprising entry of El Torito. Yep, if you haven’t seen it yet, the little guy who dresses like a bull entered the Rumble, and he actually eliminated someone as well. I’m sure that won’t go down as one of the highlights of Fandango’s career.
The long stayers were the first two men in the match. Both Punk and Rollins lasted nearly fifty minutes, and although they weren’t record breaking performances they did pretty damn good, until Punk was eliminated by Kane, who Punk had actually eliminated ages before, and Rollins was eliminated by his own team-mate Roman Reigns.
Speaking of Reigns, the big man put in an incredible performance. The guy was made to look like a monster, like a true superstar as he eliminated twelve others.
Then there was the return of Batista, who, unlike Sheamus, really did look like he hadn’t been in a wrestling ring for ages. There were the usual power moves that we’ve come to know from the big man, but he just seemed to be going through the motions, much like another former Evolution member.
Most heat of the night went to Rey Mysterio, the last man in. The masked man was simply booed just because he wasn’t Daniel Bryan, and when it became apparent that Bryan wasn’t going to be in the Rumble it suddenly became incredibly predictable, especially when it got down to Sheamus, Reigns and Batista, and once the Irishman had gone it was obvious who was going to Wrestlemania. Despite being portrayed as a killer Reigns fell to Batista, the animal eliminating him and booking his spot on the biggest show of the year.
In conclusion – so after everything that’s been said over the past few days, what did this writer think of the Royal Rumble?
I can certainly see where everyone who has voiced a negative opinion is coming from. The show started off tremendously well. The Bryan/Wyatt match was a great opener, and a definite match of the year candidate, while the Show/Lesnar confrontation was well played out, with Lesnar once again looking like a monster.
Then things started to go downhill. Putting Cena and Orton in the ring together has never done it for me. They may be the two biggest stars of their generation but against each other they just don’t have it, that indefinable thing that makes matches great, and I don’t think they ever will.
As for the Rumble, it started off well enough, and I really enjoyed some of the performances there, but the ending was predictable, and the absence of the man who is arguably the company’s biggest star at the moment from one of it’s biggest matches of the year not only leaves you scratching your head but scratching it so hard you get down to your skull.
But let’s shine a little light onto the proceedings momentarily with the match of the night no-prize. Yep, you guessed it, Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt get it this time around.
So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing left to do, and that’s to give this year’s Royal Rumble the….well, let’s give it a thumbs up for the majority of the Rumble and the Bryan/Wyatt match, but a massive thumbs down for it’s predictability.
By day I’m an unemployed retail worker, and at weekends I volunteer at a local museum, but by night I’m the author of The Two Sheds Review, Britain’s longest running professional wrestling and mixed martial arts blog. Visit my site at www.twoshedsreview.vze.com. It’s been online in one form or another since June 2000!