The Spotlight On The 2016 WWE Royal Rumble

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.

Highlights:

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.

Closing Thoughts:

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.

 

The Spotlight On The History of the Royal Rumble- 1996-1999

As we continue down the path on the history of the Royal rumble we’re going to take a look at the last Royal Rumbles of the 1990s.  At this point in my life I was just about to  enter  my teenage years.  In October of 1996 I turned 10 years old and then by the time Rumble 1999 rolled around I was 12 years old.  It’s amazing to look back at these shows and not only see how I was changing as a wrestling fan but also how much the landscape of the WWF was changing at the same time.  Let’s get right into it…

1996–  For whatever reason this Royal Rumble is a bit of a blur for me.  If there’s one thing that they did that year was they had a match on the Free-For-All in which Triple H took on Duke The Dumpster Droese and the winner of the match got the number 30 entry in the Rumble while the loser got number 1.  Duke ended up winning the match (Hunter’s come a long way, eh?) but I liked the concept of having something on the pre show that impacted the Rumble later that night.  In many ways it’s similar to the four way tag matches two spots in the Rumble that they’re doing on sunday.  As for the show itself, the two things I remember most about this Rumble was that this was the first Royal Rumble that had entrance music between entrances which I thought really added to the show and overall kept the tempo up throughout the night.  From there, it was also the first Royal Rumble that didn’t close the pay per view, which I thought was weird especially because the world title match ended in a disqualification.

1997-  Are you enjoying the posters for each Rumble as much as I am?  In any event one thing that really stuck out in my mind immediately was remembering how awkward the promo that Terry Funk cut on Shotgun Saturday Night the night before the Rumble.  I had slept over my friends house and just like we did every time we had a sleepover we stayed up late to watch Shotgun (This show was so unique and really fun for its time, I wish it was on the Network) and ECW (which aired at 2:05AM in New York).  I’ve attached a link to the promo below and remember just how uncomfortable everyone looked with Funk going off the rails on the show, even Austin who literally looked like he was trying to get Funk to stop.  Of course, Funk would be gone from the WWF immediately following the Rumble due to the incident.

As for the Rumble 1997, this was one of my favorite Rumbles in that Austin winning came out of nowhere to me.  I remember being stunned but liking the twist as I was sure Bret Hart would win the match and take on Shawn at Wrestlemania 13.  I also remember Shawn getting a hero’s welcome this time around as the Royal Rumble took place in his hometown, at the AlamoDome in San Antonio, as opposed to Survivor Series 1996 where the Garden crown turned on Shawn completely.

1998-  I don’t know why exactly but I remember how cool it was that they continued to show Mike Tyson watching the Royal Rumble with Shane McMahon in a private suite throughout the entire night.  This was before Shane was really much of a character on WWE television and the two looked to be having a great time.  This was the night before Tyson was officially announced as being the enforcer for WrestleMania 14.  As for the Royal Rumble, the winner here was never really in any doubt as this was Steve Austin’s time.  This was actually the one time where the Rumble being on before the title match seemed ok to me as Shawn and Undertaker in the Casket match seemed to mean a lot more.  This was the second Rumble, by the way, that the Undertaker seemed to have died in a casket as Kane set the casket on fire to end the show.  The difference being that now the WWF had changed from the wholeso

1999-  I can’t lie this was one of my favorite Rumbles because Mr. McMahon won.  I don’t think anyone saw that coming and it made for a great twist, in my opinion.  The whole build to that match really was a lot of fun with all of the Shane and Vince training vignettes and the win was great for the characters.    I actually remember this was at the time when WWF would go live on the Home Shopping Network immediately after the pay per views and I watched the entire special just to hear the post match comments from the McMahons.  This was also the show where the Rock nearly killed Mick Foley with like 12 chair shots in their title match that’s heavily featured on the Beyond The Mat documentary.

That’s gonna do it for my look back at the first decade plus of the Royal Rumble.  I’d love to hear your Royal rumble feedback and memories! Tomorrow I’ll start to break down the Royal Rumbles in my area or that I attended live, by first looking at the Royal Rumble 2000!

The Spotlight On The History of The Royal Rumble- 1989-1991

Hello everyone we’re continuing our trip down memory lane looking at te different Royal Rumbles from years past as we get you set for the big show this Sunday night!  In this edition, we’re going to pick up where we left off and take a look at the Royal Rumble from 1989-1991

1989– Andre The Giant! The Immortal Hulk Hogan! WWF World Champion, The Macho Man Randy Savage! The list of the 1989 Royal Rumble is a literal who’s who of Wrestlemania main eventers.  If you’re a casual fan you probably assumed that Hulk Hogan won the first Royal Rumble match on pay per view, but you’d be wrong…it was actually Big John Studd.  Don’t get me wrong, Studd is a WWE Hall Of Famer and had an accomplished career in his own right.  That said, this was pretty random to me as Studd had just returned to the company as a babyface after being retired for two years and wasn’t really being pushed as a big star.  I’m not sure if it was for injuries or what but he was actually relegated to a referee for the Andre- Jake Roberts match in that year’s Wrestlemania so this was clearly before the winner of the Rumble won the shot at the champion.

As for the rest of that Royal Rumble, I remember renting this tape a million times from Blockbuster and actually enjoying the Rumble a lot.  I’ve always been a fan of the backstage vignettes showing the superstars choosing their numbers or even talking about how they were going to win the Rumble.  This show had a lot of that as it followed a story that the Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase was buying number 30 from Slick.  From there, Ax and Smash being 1 and 2, the mega powers exploding prior to their Wrestlemania showdown and Marty Jannetty hanging on by his toes made this rumble match a lot of fun. Aside from the Rumble, I can’t mention this show without mentioning the posedown between Rick Rude and the Ultimate Warrior.  Although it was a little hokey, this was 1980’s WWF and I remember that fondly.  I also liked that all signs led to Wrestlemania and this show was designed as this showdown was designed to do and the two would be held off until Wrestlemania 5.

1990-  This match to me is really remembered for the great showdown between the Ultimate warrior and Hulk Hogan in the middle of the match.  I remember thinking it was pretty silly that Hogan was in the match considering he was the world champion!  Hogan would go on to win the Rumble and, to me, the Rumble really wasn’t a big deal yet for the company as opposed to just a fun gimmick match and reason to have a pay per view, similar to the old Survivor Series format.  That said, this was the first of two years (that I can remember) where Vince McMahon kicked off the show by reading out the list of all of the competitors.  Vince had so much excitement that could be matched and I just love that old school Rumble music.  I love a good surprise as much as the next guy but something can be said for knowing all 30 participants prior to the Rumble match.

This was still prior to having cable and so I would continue to rent this tape from Blockbuster.  A couple other things about the show that I remember thinking as a child was why the WCW guy was doing commentary for WWF.  For those that don’t know, Tony Schiavone worked very briefly for WWF and this is one of the shows that he called.  Speaking of brief stints in the WWF, Rugged Ronnie Garvin (Of all people) had a singles match on this show against Greg Valentine.

1991-  No matter how many times you see it, how great is the Rumble poster above?  This was the first pay per view in which my family ordered live and it was crazy to see the event as it happened.  Leading up to that year’s Royal Rumble, I was told by my parents that my dad’s friend was going to be ordering the show and was going to record the show for me.  My dad’s friend had been doing this a lot as my family didn’t have cable.  Anyway the day of the rumble there were people in our house the whole day and everytime I asked who they were and what they were doing, my parents told me it was a surprise.  As it turned out they were installing cable and my parents were putting on a full court press to get cable installed so we’d be able to get the rumble.  I was absolutely ecstatic to be able to watch the show live and to stay up late doing so (WWF pay per views would become my one time a month to stay up late on a school night).  To this day I still have the tape that my dad recorded on pay per view for me.

This was the first show that made the Rumble seem really big time.  There was a title change on the show (Slaughter over Warrior), a big angle (Virgil turns on Ted Dibiase) and even though it wasn’t announced prior, the winner of the Rumble (Hulk Hogan) went on to face the champion at Wrestlemania.  As a huge Hulkamaniac (at age 4) Hogan winning to go on to defend the USA against Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter was as good as it got.

That’s going to do it for right now but tomorrow we’ll take a look at what some people consider to be the greatest Royal Rumble of all time, the only rumble that ended with 2 winners and my favorite non rumble match to take place at the Royal Rumble, until then, take care!