The road to WrestleMania has well and truly begun and the first stop on the way took place this past Sunday when we landed at the 2020 Royal Rumble PPV
With thirty men and thirty women all looking to secure their place at the grandest stage of them all and earn a title opportunity, the excitement and unpredictability of the Royal Rumble
Sheamus vs Shorty G
Grade – D-
It still pains me to type “Shorty G” when referring to Chad Gable and the former Tag Team champion didn’t have a great night this past weekend at the Royal Rumble either. His bout against Sheamus was simply a basic way to give Sheamus some momentum ahead of his in-ring return and nothing more. We saw a basic story of the big guy vs the smaller underdog but the lack of interest from fans affected this match massively.
The two superstars are strikingly different and there was a lack of chemistry between the pair. What we got was a predictable end result of Sheamus scoring the win and a quick and simple one on one encounter. Shorty G will need a miracle to see his luck turn around and we can expect a dominant few months ahead for Sheamus.
United States Championship: Andrade vs Humberto Carrillo
Grade – C
This was a match that most certainly could have fitted in well on the main show but was booked for the Royal Rumble Kick off show and it was a bout that set the bar for the rest of the evening. Humberto and Andrade have a simple and clear history and after Humberto made a return this past week on RAW, he once again set his sights on Andrade, saving Rey Mysterio from suffering the same fate he himself encountered. Another match between the two superstars made perfect sense and the pair most certainly took advantage of the opportunity they were presented with.
This was a classic showing of the Lucha Libre style; the culture, the back story, and the talent from both superstars were on clear display here and contributed to why this was such a solid match. The lack of popularity Humberto has from the WWE Universe did affect the grading and was probably the reason this wasn’t on the main card, however, this was a fast-paced match up with some great back and forth action and a great title defence for Andrade. A very strong match for the night and hopefully we can continue to see Humberto work solid matches and Andrade booked in bigger angles heading into mania season.
Falls Count Anywhere: King Corbin vs Roman Reigns
Grade – C
The main issue WWE has with Corbin vs Reigns was how bored so many fans have grown of this rivalry. The pair have been going back and forth for weeks with Reigns suffering multiple acts of abuse and humiliation at the hands of King Corbin and his allies, however, the falls count anywhere stipulation here really did save this opening matchup for the Royal Rumble PPV.
This was a collision between two big superstars with a personal grudge towards one another. It’s rare we get to see falls count anywhere bouts booked and so this was an interesting and entertaining contest bringing something a little different to the card. The two superstars battled around the arena as predicted and while this wasn’t a pure wrestling masterclass of a match what we did see was an all-out brawl. There was outside interference as expected from Roode, Ziggler and The Usos which again added that little bit extra to a match that needed it causing pure chaos to erupt and the spots from these superstars had fans glued to their screens! Corbin was very dominant throughout the first half of this bout silencing doubters yet again but it came as no surprise to see Roman Reigns pick up the win and finally take out the King.
A solid opening matchup that gave Reigns some brilliant momentum at a time where he needed it but the strong showing from Corbin, The Usos, Ziggler, and Roode made this match far stronger and more entertaining.
Women’s Royal Rumble
Grade – B
The women’s Royal Rumble match this year really was an interesting one. With the Rumble matches of 2020 showcasing the stars of
We saw some pretty cool attempts from superstars trying to stay in the ring from Naomi using her creativity once again almost in Kofi Kingston style and Mandy Rose landing on Otis twice saving her from being eliminated. It was great to see the odd story between Mandy and Otis continue here and done the way it was done, we need a little bit of fun on a PPV! Storyline wise, Lana and Liv eliminating each other was a predictable angle that still managed to get the crowd excited and there does appear to be a genuine interest in their rivalry from the WWE U
The end result? Controversial to say the least. The crowd reaction was clear enough proof that Shayna Baszler was a serious fan favourite for the win this year and so when Charlotte eliminated the former two-time NXT Women’s champion to get the win herself left a bitter taste in the air. It appeared as though a strong set up was clear for Baszler vs Lynch and many believe the WWE has a case of a serious missed opportunity here but can we really be surprised Flair walked out with the victory? I think not.
SmackDown Women’s Championship: Bayley vs Lacey Evans
Grade – D-
Bayley vs Lacey Evans did showcase the lack of depth within the SmackDown women’s division. Lacey has come to blows with Bayley for quite some time now and so with that in mind there wasn’t a major interest from fans when it came to this bout. There was, of course, a personal element to this match and rivalry but the fact we have seen so much from these two already took a lot away from what we were seeing.
The action was kept fairly short and there was no surprise to see Bayley retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Lacey’s athleticism was on clear display and the sneaky and sly new side of Bayley’s character was also evident in how she scored the win. It’s vital the WWE do something pretty special for Bayley heading into WrestleMania for her reign so far has brought nothing standout to the table.
Universal Championship: Daniel Bryan vs The Fiend
Grade – A-
It’s been quite some time since we last saw a strap match in the WWE and so again it was great to see something fresh on the show. Wyatt using the strap to punish Bryan in the early stages of this match was so fitting to The Fiend’s character and set the tone for the bout.
Bryan did take a lot of punishment throughout this contest, but he walked in with so much fight and determination and eventually took his opportunity to use that leather strap to his own advantage. There is, of course, so much history between these two superstars which contributed to why this was such a great match up.
Was it their best? That can sure be debated however, on a night where it can be hard for singles bouts to standout these two did a great job! There was a level of intensity and brutality that no other match from the night brought. There were several on the edge of your seat moments where fans believed they were about to see Bryan pull off the huge victory but The Fiend showed no signs of slowing down and bounced back from everything Bryan threw at his way and left the Royal Rumble PPV still the Universal Champion. Another incredibly dominant performance from The Fiend, and an excellent showing from Daniel and my personal favourite match of the night, this match really did have a bit of everything.
RAW Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch vs Asuka
Grade – C+
With so much history between Becky Lynch and Asuka their RAW Women’s Championship match, last night was most certainly one to watch! Colliding exactly one year ago at the Royal Rumble PPV it was Asuka who walked out victorious back in 2019 and the biggest question mark around their match this past Sunday was; can Becky Lynch beat Asuka? She’s the opponent Lynch just hasn’t been able to get the upper hand over and with Kairi Sane at ringside things were not looking good for the champ. Fans, of course, know that these two women can put on a damn good match and as the most personal rivalry of the night a whole year in the making they didn’t disappoint.
Saying that I did feel as though there were moments the match fell flat and it felt as though they last crowd for a bit. It didn’t come across as though these two women got the very best out of each other’s move sets but what kept this match interesting and made this a must-see was that big question and waiting to see of Lynch really could beat Asuka. The last five minutes did see a change in the atmosphere. There appeared to be a sudden burst of energy and the live crowd seemed to be more invested in the action most likely due to the times we saw the match come close to concluding.
After some brilliant back and forth action that big question was finally answered when Becky Lynch was finally able to put away the Empress of Tomorrow and walked out of the Royal Rumble PPV still, the RAW Women’s Champion but Asuka did look incredible throughout this bout and it’s time WWE really did bring their attentions back on the Women’s tag team titles.
Men’s Royal Rumble
Grade – A
Now, this is a Royal Rumble match fans won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Arguably one of the greatest in history the WWE U
Regardless of what you think of him there really can be no denying Brock Lesnar had the most dominant performance we have ever seen inside the Royal Rumble match. There was a new level of intensity, unpredictability, and excitement thanks to Lesnar’s performance and moments including a showdown with Keith Lee were truly epic.
The biggest surprise of the evening, however, came at the hands of Edge who made a shock entrance in this year’s Rumble. After weeks of speculation, the big moment did in fact happen and the sounds of “You think you know me” left chills on everyone watching!
And then, of course, we have Drew McIntyre. After weeks of building momentum and turning things around Drew walked into this match ready for a fight and with the opportunity, he has been waiting so long. Taking out Lesnar and keeping his eyes on the Beast you could see his determination and that never faded. McIntyre kept that fight and pushed through what felt like two separate Rumble matches and in the end eliminated Roman Reigns to become the 2020 Men’s Royal Rumble winner! A much, much deserved victory.
This year’s Royal Rumble was a big one. There were a few weaker moments throughout the night including the SmackDown Women’s championship match but overall this was an incredibly memorable PPV. The men’s in particular really did stand out and is sure to go down in history as one of the best of all time! From Rated RKO reuniting to the surprise NXT entrants to the dominant performances from Lesnar and McIntyre, this was an epic Rumble match up you couldn’t fault and fans are now more than ready for WrestleMania.
Overall Grade – A-
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @TezangiVictoria. Thanks for reading!