Well the 2016 WWE Royal Rumble is in the books and what else can be said? We are on the road to Wrestlemania! I really enjoyed the heck out of that Royal Rumble show last night and felt that it was top to bottom a really good show. I’m going to go through everything in the order of which it took place so i can point out what I enjoyed about everything.
1) Preshow- It really seems like WWE is behind Byron Saxton as he is now the commentator for Raw, Smackdown and Pay Per Views. While I like Saxton and think he works really hard, there was something really nostalgic that I enjoyed abut Jerry Lawler calling the pay per views. That said, with Lawler and Booker T now both a part of the pre show panel, it instantly adds importance and credibility to the panel as the two legends work nicely with Corey Graves and Renee Young. As for the four way match, I thought it was a lot of fun and it felt really important as all 8 superstars involved showed a sense of urgency that they really wanted to be a part of the Rumble. I really also liked how into Damien Sandow the crowd was, they loved the guy and this is despite him not really being on tv for about 9 months.
2) Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens- At first i didn’t understand why Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose were the first match out but seeing that they were also in the Rumble, following a last man standing match, this was the only spot for them. These two tore down the house and lived up to the other last man standing matches in Rumble history (Foley-Rock 1999, Triple H-Shawn Michaels 2004, John Cena-Umaga 2007). The two kicked the show off with a bang destroying the timekeeper area almost immediately. My favorite spot of the night had to be when Kevin Owens took out Michael Cole out of desperation when he was sent flying over the announce table. I didn’t think the loss hurt Owens at all as he continued to come back throughout the match. On the other hand, it was good to see Dean Ambrose get a big win and he was one of the MVPs of the whole show for me.
3) The New Day Vs. The Usos- The New Day continue to grow on me more and more throughout their run in WWE. they have tremendous personality and it looks like it’s becoming harder and harder for them to remain a heel group as the crowd loves them just as much. The new Francesca was incredibly over with the crowd and i was happy to see the trombone back in full effect. As for the match itself, these four all busted their ass and continue to revitalize the tag team division. it was good to see the New Day keep the titles as they’ve now held those title for over 200 days. Keep your eye on Xavier Woods, by the way, I wonder if over time he’ll continue to show more of his athleticism because he’s really good in the ring.
4) Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio- I could watch these two go at it all the time here but to me, I would have held off on the first title change until this show as I felt it would have meant more for Kalisto to get it on a big stage. Kalisto is a joy to watch in the ring and it looks like WWE may have found their new Rey Mysterio type of luchador for the kids to get behind. As for Alberto, while i believe he could really benefit from having a mouthpiece or his own ring announcer, I don’t think he’s ever really had a bad match.
5) Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch- both of these ladies looked great in the ring and had a good match but the big story here in the end has to be the return of Sasha Banks. Other than AJ Styles, Sasha Banks got the biggest pop of the night from the live crowd. WWE has done a good job in keeping Charlotte and Sasha away from each other since both of them debuted on the main roster last August. I felt that last night was a great time to reintroduce their feud to WWE fans especially to do in in NXT country where fans love all of the talents who performed down in NXT. It’ll be great to see a high profile Divas title match on Wrestlemania, as I expect that’s where this is going.
6) Royal Rumble Match- There’s been a lot of criticism over the last few Royal Rumble matches but let me tell you, they got it right last night. First let’s start with AJ Styles who looked great and got a heroes welcome from the Florida crowd who couldn’t wait to see him. Styles got instant credibility by showing up and going toe to toe with the current WWE World Champion. He also lasted nearly 30 minutes in the Rumble match and WWE was really smart to have Kevin Owens (who has a similar fanbase as the phenomenal one) be the one to eliminate him. Speaking of Kevin Owens he looked tough as hell to stumble his was down the aisle to enter the ring because there was no way he was missing out on the Rumble. Of course this led to our second big return of the match as Sami Zayn returned and immediately reignited his feud with Owens. While people I was with were hoping that Finn Balor would be the NXT entry this year, I thought Zayn was the clear choice and the right choice. It was nice to see the little comedy spots from Kofi Kingston (who looked rather confused like it was supposed to be Xavier Woods in the match) and R Truth as there’s always room for some comedy during the Rumble. As for the finish of the Royal Rumble, I was a big fan of it. First of all if you watched that Rumble and saw Roman Reigns get taken out and walk to the back a beaten man, logic would say he was coming back at the end to win the match. I feel like if that happened (especially since Roman wasn’t brought to the back by a stretcher) then people would have a right to be a little frustrated. But the fact that Triple H returned, won the title and it came down to Hunter and Dean Ambrose (not Roman) that made for a very exciting finish. Personally, I would have went with Ambrose and had Roman cost Triple H the title but that’s not because I don’t think Triple H deserves a run with the title but rather that I don’t think Roman and Triple H need the title for their feud and that I think it would have been a good time to propel Dean Ambrose by giving him a run with the title. That said I think that by Triple H stealing the title from Reigns this puts a lot behind there feud. I also wouldn’t been too surprised to see a little tension between Reigns and Ambrose being that Ambrose outlasted Reigns in the Rumble.
Overall, I thought this was a really enjoyable Royal Rumble event and my favorite since the 2010 show which saw Edge return and win the rumble. The match had so many twists and turns along the way and it made for a really exciting watch. The three big surprise entrants (four if you include Kane) worked as they added to the match and each one, AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, Triple H, meant something to the match as a whole.