Review: Royal Rumble 2017

The Royal Rumble 2017 is in the books and the road to Wrestlemania has officially begun. I’ve got mixed emotions about this event. On the one hand I had a lot of fun watching it with my friends in London. On the other, despite an excellent WWE World Title match between John Cena and AJ Styles, with the added bonus of Kevin Owens retaining his Universal Title too, I still have a bad taste in my mouth.

Main events make and break PPVs, they can drag them down and they can pull them up to greatness. This years Rumble match, while nowhere near as disastrous at 2014 and 2015 proved that WWE still haven’t learnt lessons from the past. With all the rumours of potential surprise entrants, most of whom would clearly never happen, do we have any right to be disappointed? Well yeah kinda. WWE hype the hell out of surprise returns and debuts every year and if they don’t happen it does fall a little flat. Especially if they enter the realms of ultimate fantasy booking such as, Kurt Angle, Kenny Omega, Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura and Finn Balor. Granted having Dillinger come out at number ten was nice, but other than that the only other surprise was Roman Reigns. No one wants that surprise.

At least the production crew managed to focus on the action better this year. We didn’t miss any eliminations or a repeat of watching Roman Reigns face while AJ Styles makes his big debut. So that is nice.

Pre-Show

058_rr_01292017ej_0659-50e043f088223938d385781452e2839dI didn’t watch the pre-show, I never do actually. If it’s not on the main card, WWE clearly don’t consider it that important. So I don’t bother. I’m delighted that The Club finally won the Raw Tag Team Championships though. It was almost make or break for them having failed so many other times, where could they have gone if they failed? In the other two matches the faces were victorious in the 6 women tag match and Nia Jaz defeated Sasha Banks, both as I expected.  I don’t see why one of these matches, specifically the tag team title match, couldn’t have been on the main card though to be honest. The PPV ended early, so there was definitely time.

Undercard

202_rr_01292017cc_2701-e10cb4227d2244c4b4ff261daeb6154eMoving onto the main show, I thought both the Raw Women’s Title and Cruiserweight Title matches were solid. I’ll admit to not focusing too much attention to either if I’m honest, but I enjoyed them for what they were. Charlotte remains the dominate heel Champion and remains on her undefeated PPV streak.

Meanwhile Neville is the new Cruiserweight Champion which is great. He’s by far the best cruiserweight and I don’t really like Rich Swann anyway. Thought that could be down to me not watching 205 Live.

Universal Championship

It’s no secret that I don’t like Roman Reigns and I’ll admit that it makes it difficult for me to enjoy his matches. So have been admittedly quite good butt there is always the under lying feeling of ‘oh for Gods sake its Roman Reigns, watch him look overly strong for no reason’ that blocks my vision. I can’t get the feeling of Cena 2.0 out of my head. I suffered 10 years of SuperCena, I don’t need a new one. It’s one of the reasons I prefer Smackdown if I’m honest.

2d8eb3c198b84b68-600x400I mean must he kick out of everything? Head thrown into a chair set up in the ropes? Kicks out. Brass knuckled Superman Punch? Kicks out? Put through a table, doesn’t affect him. Why does it always seem like Reigns is far more willing to dish out horrible bumps than to take them himself? Owen’s falling on those chairs looked horrible and the bumps AJ Styles took for him were nuts.

WWE seem content or obsessed with showing that Kevin Owens is completely outclassed by Roman Reigns at every turn and is a totally undeserving champion. I can’t actually remember the last time he won a match clean.

Chris Jericho didn’t really get involved in the match that much when you think about it. Yes he gave Kevin Owens the brass knuckles (which would have been legal from the start) but considering it didn’t do any damage what was the point? In a surprise twist though, instead of Jericho being the difference maker for the match it turned out to be Braun Strowman. Strowman, I assume was getting revenge for those spears from Reigns over recent weeks. Making it a No DQ match kind of nullified that previous gimmicks importance really. Gotta make sure Reigns looks strong though!

I’m assuming we will be getting Jericho versus Owens at Wrestlemania, which will be awesome. Whether or not it’s for the Universal Championship I’m not sure. It will probably be for the US Title I imagine, which would be a step down. They’ve been the best thing on Raw since the brand split and they deserve to fight at Wrestlemania in a main event.

WWE World Title Match

239_rr_01292017cc_2863-4d5e8362ec55fde017437b255f27b877This was a really good match. Match of the night by far and yet more proof that AJ Styles and John Cena are both really good. Could you imagine people cheering John Cena tying Ric Flairs record 5 years ago? Not a chance. Over the last two years though he’s been putting on great matches with a lot of people and has won me and other fans over.

Couple of little points that frustrate me about this feud. While AJ looked really strong having to be beaten by four AAs I’m not sure why WWE had Cena talk so much shit about Styles pre-Rumble. It made him look small time and a bit of a chump. Styles however, is amazing, but not only that he’s been carrying Smackdown since the brand split. So it just seems uncalled for and necessarily damaging.

Also, I feel like Cena winning his 16th title was a little rushed. I would have had Styles win for a 3rd time, really knocking Cena’s over confidence (which, now isn’t over confidence) before having him tie Ric Flair’s record at Wrestlemania. Huge ‘Mania moment. I guess you can’t save everything for Wrestlemania though otherwise the other shows matter even less than they do now. Still, it felt rushed since his return.

Overall, great match though. Really enjoyed it. Cena once again proving he can go with the best of them. Question; why hasn’t this Cena been allowed to exist for all of his run?

Royal Rumble Match

It is really difficult to review a Royal Rumble match, you don’t want to end up just listing what happened spot by spot. So I’ll just list a few highlights before moving onto the analyses:

  • Chris Jericho as a chicken shit heel, constantly getting out of the ring to avoid people.
  • Braun dominating early on, I didn’t expect Baron Corbin to be the one to eliminate him. I thought that Reigns would return to get revenge from earlier.
  • Tye Dillinger entering at number 10 was both awesome and smart. The only thing WWE could have done other than him entering would have been having The Miz come out. Instead we got a really cool moment and the crowd were very happy.

This years Royal Rumble was very tail heavy. Far too many big stars back loaded. Brock Lesnar 26, Goldberg 28, The Undertaker 29, Roman Reigns 30. The balance was off and the big names should have been spaced out more.

The Lesnar/Goldberg confrontation was even shorter than at Survivor Series. I was hoping for slightly more but I guess it moves the story forward. Michael Cole drove the point home that “Goldberg has Lesnar’s number!”. It’s the second year in a row though that this untamable beast just gets eliminated and just walks to the back. I was expecting repercussions!

Okay here’s the thing. Up until this point the Rumble match has been fine. It hasn’t been amazing, but it’s had a few cool moments and it’s ticking along nicely. WWE has trained its fans to believe that the number 30 spot is a big deal. It’s normally a big return, a debut or just big name in general. So when The Undertaker comes out at number 29, you automatically assume the next person out has to be even more important. Otherwise, it will be an anti-climax. So when Roman Reigns comes out, the mood in the arena and in the pub I was in absolutely tanked. It died. Suddenly it’s the 2015 Royal Rumble all over again. Last nights #30 entry just goes to show that one important mistake can ‘ruin’ an entire event. It went from an okay show with a great WWE Title match to “Not this crap again!” event. Roman Reigns was the exact opposite of what people wanted.

Why does Reigns even get a spot in the Royal Rumble when he lost? Why doesn’t Styles get a second chance? The character of Reigns is so spoiled, he gets everything on a plate which is why fans reject him so entirely when he gets pushed constantly as the most important thing in the world.

Suddenly there is a slew of eliminations with next to zero fanfare. Other than Goldberg, The Undertaker and Roman Reigns did the commentary team bat an eyelid about any of them? They even ignored Jericho and Zayn who had been in since numbers 2 and 8 respectively. It’s a recurring problem that important moments aren’t mentioned in recent years.

9b2fb107ff382baa-600x400The crowd went absolutely crazy when Randy Orton won, but that’s mostly because he isn’t Roman Reigns. It’s just like last year when Triple H won, we didn’t really want to see another victory. We just didn’t want Reigns. Not that it mattered in the end, as he still main evented Wrestlemania in a really boring and depressing match.

Did Orton need this win though? It seems like a really ‘safe’ and boring choice. He’s actually been doing some of his most interesting work in years as part of the Wyatt Family and unless this is going to continue that story arc it’s really dumb. Of course, if this does end up with Bray Wyatt as champion in the main event of Wrestlemania then I am fine with everything. Still though, couldn’t we have put someone new over? Like Bray himself? If the plan is for Orton/Wyatt it gets to the same destination but…better.

282_rr_01292017jg_2469-8a94685de1011e73d22d909760556729Orton winning is better than Reigns winning but it still left me feeling deflated. Just when you think WWE are going to start pushing the younger and newer talent. They make the entire rumble about three or four old part timers and give Orton his second Rumble victory instead of putting over someone knew. It’s not a disaster it’s just a missed opportunity.

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