Tom’s Takes: Royal Rumble 2017

As if one late night of WWE wasn’t enough, how about another one the following day? That’s what we had to put up with on Sunday as the Royal Rumble took place. Officially on the “Road to Wrestlemania”, lads…excited?

After a mildly disappointing NXT Takeover event (read all about here) on Saturday night, I went into the Royal Rumble hoping that this might be one of those rare occasions where the main roster put on a better show than the NXT lot…and, for the most part, they definitely seemed to do it.

These big PPVs don’t half go on forever though – a two-hour pre-show? Up to four hours for the actual event? Good job these only happen 4 times a year. Saying that, two hours listening to and perving over Renee Young is not a bad way to start a night…plus there were a trio of “pre-show” matches to watch. So, that wasn’t too bad.

As I did with the NXT one, I’ll break it up so each match gets a few sentences…or more if I can be bothered/have a lot to say about it. Here we go.

Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Natalya

I have to admit I missed a good few minutes of this match as I relocated upstairs for the remainder of the show – so I probably missed the good bits. What I will say is that this match goes to show Smackdown Live has a pretty good group of female superstars to work with and also that Alexa Bliss is the best choice for champion right now; never thought I’d say that but she’s definitely improved since the brand split. Looks like they’re going with Naomi vs. Alexa, especially after the finish which saw Naomi pick up the win by pinning Bliss, which I’m OK with. Probably also Becky/Mickie as a secondary story and then Natty/Nikki still?

Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson – RAW Tag Team Title match

After some stupid finish on a recent episode of RAW saw Gallows/Anderson win the titles and then have them taken off them due to a DQ, this match had the added gimmick of two referees being around – being wrestling, of course one got knocked out and it was up to the replacement to finish the match. It was a decent tag match to be fair, not as good as the DIY/AOP NXT match but good enough. Glad it looks like they’re finally going to do something with Gallows and Anderson and also splitting Cesaro/Sheamus is the right call, they’ve run their course as a tag team I feel.

Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax

It’s crazy how over Sasha Banks is, don’t think there’s a female superstar on the roster who gets anywhere near the pop she does when her music hits. Nia Jax on the other hand…crickets. Not a great match, even worse that Nia wins.

Onto the main show now…

Charlotte vs. Bayley – RAW Women’s Championship

Charlotte keeps her perfect PPV record intact – 16&0 – with a win over Bayley. Good contest, this. Come a long, long way since Charlotte debuted in NXT and her first match was vs. Bayley – a heck of a long way. Does kind of suck that the only real challengers for the Raw title are these pair, Sasha and…ugh…Nia. Times like this the brand split is a bad idea. Can see them going with a Fatal 4-Way at Wrestlemania consisting all of the quartet.

Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns – RAW Universal Championship

This match was brutal, in a good way. Some hellacious bumps taken by both competitors throughout – Kevin Owens though the chair art he had so masterfully put together outside the ring, then Reigns when Braun Strowman came to save the day and keep us from having to endure a Roman Reigns title reign. Too much reigns in that sentence. Too much Reigns in the show tbh. No more. Well, not yet.

Rich Swann vs. Neville – WWE Cruiserweight Championship

Since the Cruiserweight Classic tournament, I’ve paid little attention to the Cruiserweight division – until Neville got involved. He’s perfect for the division and it makes you wonder why it took so long to throw him in. This was a very good match though with Neville getting the W and the title, now he’s actually the king of the cruiserweights. Until Jack Gallagher overthrows him…probably.

John Cena vs. AJ Styles – WWE Championship

Oh. My. God. Match of the Night…and it’s not even close. In fact, Match of the Weekend. The amount of John Cena matches I have enjoyed over the past few years, I could probably count on one hand – the last of which was their Summerslam match. But this was even better than that. Superb match, back-and-forth and even saw Cena adding some new moves to his repertoire. If we see a better match in the WWE this year, it’ll be something spectacular. Incredible.

The Royal Rumble Match

From the awesomeness of the AJ/Cena match, to this. Over the last few years, the WWE have screwed up these matches and this year’s incarnation was no exception – a distinct lack of “surprise” entrants; only Tye Dillinger at #10 could be considered as such? Suppose Roman coming out at 30 was also a surprise. But a bad one that nobody likes.

No Samoa Joe? Disappointing. No Kurt Angle? Disappointing. No Finn Balor? Probably legitimately not 100%, so not as disappointing. Randy Orton winning is also a bit of a disappointment as it means we’re likely to get Cena/Orton MMMCDIII…can’t you tell everyone is waiting for that?

Final Thoughts

All in all, very good and exciting Royal Rumble event. Except for the Rumble match itself, which was shit. But at least we had 2 hours or so of excellent pro sports wrestling entertainment to enjoy and look back on as one of the better WWE cards in a long time.

I liked it. Which is a rarity these days. Kudos.

T.

 

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