-It’s the start of the “Road to WrestleMania” as the WWE brings the Royal Rumble back to San Antonio’s Alamodome for the first time in 20 years. On that night, Shawn Michaels won the WWE Championship in his hometown and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin won the first of three Royal Rumble matches.
-A little run down of the pre-show. The Smackdown’s six women’s Tag Team match was exactly like every other six women Tag Team match we’ve seen.
-Cesaro and Sheamus versus Gallows and Anderson was serviceable, but not must see. It was great to finally see “The Club” capture the titles.
-Nia Jax looked dominate beating Sasha Banks so easily, but the crowd was flat for all five minutes of this.
-Shawn Michaels, who is really starting to show his age, makes an appearance in front of his hometown crowd to cap off the two hour pre-show. Jesus, does a pre-show really need to be as long as Smackdown?
1. Charlotte vs. Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship
-Michael Cole brings up an interesting stat that Charlotte is 15-0 in championship matches on Pay-Per-View. Ridiculous isn’t it? Cole then brings up that Bayley does hold two victories over Charlotte in recent weeks.
-A very clunky opening sequence from Bayley, but Charlotte slows things down and takes control of the offense. She locks in – ALL – the rest holds!
-The champion wears down the challenger and taunts her calling her “just a fan.” Good stuff. Bayley goes for a beautiful big elbow from the top rope to try and make up some ground, but only gets a two count.
-Bayley’s offense is wild and reckless, while Charlotte is slow and calculating. They mesh well to tell a good story.
-Bayley perches the champion on the top rope, but she fights her off and hits Natural Selection to Bayley on the edge of the ring apron for a three count!
-This was a good match, but I don’t think Bayley got to be in control long enough to look like a threat to the champion. I’m hoping for a rematch on Pay-Per-View.
-The best news here is that Charlotte looked really crisp and dominate in this opener.
2. Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Champion
-This is a No Disqualification match for the WWE Universal Championship in which Kevin Owens best friend, Chris Jericho, will be suspended in a shark cage above the ring.
-Chris Jericho is just an amazing performer and his reluctance to get in the cage is just hilarious. They fake out Reigns and both jump the “Big Dog,” but he fights them off and locks Jericho into the cage.
-Champion and challenger immediately go to the outside and walk and brawl through the crowd. Meh. My least favorite part of all Street Fight/No DQ/No Holds Bared matches.
-Owen’s sets up a strange multi-chair pyramid thing on the floor and attempts a power bomb from the apron but Reigns fights out and then turns and mocks Owens silly creation.
-Reigns looks to set up a table, but Owen’s sneaks up with a sick looking back stabber! Nice! You can hear Jericho cheering and clapping for his friend, above. I love Jericho!
-Owen’s keeps targeting the ribs of the challenger with chair shots and brutal looking frog splash from the top rope through a table on the outside. Really good looking. Owens lands perfectly on Roman.
-Owens begins to look for ways to finish off Reigns, and Jericho drops down some brass knuckles as the WWE Universal Champion mocks Reigns and goes for and hits a Superman Punch on the Samoan. Question thought, why did Jericho have to sneak a weapon into a match where weapons are allowed? Hmm-?
-Despite not having the most complimentary styles, and neither of them being the smoothest of wrestlers, these two have surprisingly good chemistry. The shortcuts of this gimmick match definitively help.
-They start trading big moves and Owens tries again to slam Reigns through his stack of chairs, but eats a Superman Punch and falls back through the pile of metal. I’m sure that hurt like hell. He follows up with a huge power bomb through the announce table.
-With Reigns in firm control it looks like we are getting a new champion, but Braun Stroman comes out of nowhere chocks slams Reigns through one table and power slams him through another to allow Owens to retain his title.
-I guess this means Stroman will not be winning the rumble tonight, because this surely means they will face off at WrestleMania.
-A good spectacle match, but I don’t think these two are the best opponents for one another. They worked so hard though, and that should not be overlooked. Fun stuff. Leave your brain at home when watching this if you want to enjoy it.
3. Rich Swann vs. Neville for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
-I’m really hyped for this match, as I think Neville will surely win and hopefully carry the Cruiserweight division to new heights in 2017.
-Both men are so quick, but the heel Neville takes control with a few big moves before grounding the champion with submissions and slams into the barricade outside.
-Swann is seriously warn down, but creates some separation to land a big move to the outside on Neville. Swann then mauls Neville with absolute fury in his frustration with being dominated for the first half of this contest.
-They start trading really beautiful kicks to the head, my goodness. These two are really good at execution. Everything looks so snug and crisp in this match.
-Neville locks in a crossface-armbar and the worn down Swann taps to begin what will hopefully be a long and dominate reign for Neville as WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
-A really fun match, but I feel like this should have gotten more time than it did? Why couldn’t we have had another ten minutes for this match to really tell a story? It would have certainly given Neville and Swann enough time to really take the fans on a ride.
4. AJ Styles vs. John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
-Last year, John Cena and AJ Styles had my favorite match of the year aside from Nakamura and Zayn’s near perfect match at TakeOver: Dallas. I’m hoping they give us a Match of the Year contender here to set the “Road to WrestleMania” on the right track.
-AJ Styles, the champion, enters before the challenger and thus triggering my number one pet peeve. The challenger should always enter first.
-No screwing around from these two pros as they go right into trading momentum with several really clean looking sequences. I love watching these two wrestle together.
-Styles breaks out the torture rack into a power bomb that he used on Cena at SummerSlam last year. Nice call back.
-Styles bails on an attempt at a flying forearm and Cena lands an early Attitude Adjustment for the first of what will probably be many near falls.
-You can see the frustration in Cena’s face grow and his intensity and anxiousness helps ad tension to this story. He is a master storyteller.
-Styles fights off a focused Cena for a pele and his first Flying Forearm for a two count! They start trading punches as Styles throws kicks to Cena’s leg to set him up for the Calf Crusher.
-They trade submissions in their beautiful reversal sequences. They crowd is so into this. It’s infectious. They follow up with several reversals until Cena locks in a Figure Four Leg Lock as the announce team bring up Cena potinetially tying Ric Flair’s legendary championship record.
-Cena goes for the top rope leg drop, but Styles dodges and his the Styles Clash! ONly a two count! Holy crap!
-“The Phenomenal One” stays focused and goes for a 450 but the challenger gets his knees up and hits a beautiful Code Red for another two count! Jesus!
-After everything else fails, Cena goes to the top rope with Styles and hits an Avalance AA, but STILL AJ Styles kicks out to the roar of the crowd. Cena with a look of shock.
-Cena goes for the AA again, but AJ counters into a Styles Clash but doesn’t go for the pin. He sets up for the final Flying Forearm, but Cena catches him and hits TWO Attitude Adjustments in a row to finally win his record tying 16th World Championship in an amazing main event match.
5. The Royal Rumble Match
-No. 1 is Big Cass and what an odd choice as usually the first entrant ends up being a distance runner in the match, but I don’t see Cass being able to go the distance. Maybe I’m wrong. Amore does get to do a great job pumping up the exhausted crowd who just got to see an amazing title match.
-And of course, at No. 2, here to spend another damn hour in the Royal Rumble match, it’s Chris Jericho!
-Kalisto is in at No. 3 as Cass delivers a big boot to a mid air Jericho. He also gets flattened by Cass as No. 4, Mojo Rawley enters the fray. The three men team up on Cass to try and eliminate the largest man in the match. Sound strategy. I like it.
-No. 5 is out and it’s Jack Gallgher with William the 3rd, his umbrella! He gets a nice little flurry of offense and a fun spot with Jericho. Still no eliminations. Texas native Mark Henry enters at No. 6 to a small pop. How is he still not retired?
-Gallagher is the first man eliminated as Henry tosses him out after he fails to hit a double ax handle. At No. 7 Braun Strowman enters the ring to surly eliminate EVERYONE.
-The wise veteran, Jericho bails immediately as Strowman eliminates Rawley, Big Cass, Kalisto, and Henry in quick order. Only Strowman and Jericho remain.
-We saw earlier in the night, Sami Zayn drew No. 8 and we get the face off between these two rivals. Zayn like a pit bull dog does his best to combat the monster, but is unable to make much headway.
-One big man not enough? How about another one?! The Big Show enters at No. 9 and we get the big boy face off as we catch a glimpse of Jericho cowering by the announcers.
-The two monsters go back and forth, but Strowman gets the better of the veteran and gets his fifth elimination.
-There you go internet! “The Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger is in at No. 10 (of course)! Zayn and Dillinger team up but still fail to make progress on Braun as James Ellsworth comes in at No. 11, but does not enter the ring.
-Here we go. No. 12 is Dean Ambrose who might be crazy enough to eliminate Braun all by himself. Ambrose pumps up Ellsworth to enter the ring, but he is quickly tossed out by Braun.
-All men try to take down the big man, but even a triple team doesn’t seem all that effective. No. 13 is Baron Corbin and now we will see the two big monsters of Raw and Smackdown go toe-to-toe. Dillinger is out as Braun makes his 7th elimination.
-Zayn hits Braun with a Helluva Kick and “The Lone Wolf” knocks out Braun Strowman! Impressive showing by Braun. He looked super dominate here. Jericho, Ambrose, Corbin, and Zayn are left as Kofi Kingston enters at No. 14.
-The Miz, who had a fantastic 2016, marks the halfway point at No. 15.
-Kofi nearly kills himself trying to do a cool near-elimination spot on the turnbuckle. Jesus.
-Definitely not winning, Sheamus is in at No. 16. We have reached the point in the match where not much is happening except punching and kicks against the ropes as Big E enters at No. 17 to join Kofi Kingston.
-With a beautiful face mask, Rusev enters a packed ring at No. 18 and gets a piece of everyone. It feels like the ring is simply filling up for either Goldberg or Lesnar to clear.
-The other half of the former Raw Tag Team Champion’s Cesaro is in at No. 19. He gives everyone a swing and nearly gives one to his partner, but is kicked by Rusev before he can.
-And we now have all three members of The New Day in the Royal Rumble for Goldberg to toss out as Xavier Woods joins the match at No. 20.
-A man who I thought would have won a Royal Rumble match by now, Bray Wyatt slowly walks to the match at No. 21.
-No one has been eliminated in a long time which mean one of the big names in this match is about to really get a big push.
-Apolo Crews enters at 22 as Cesaro and Sheamus eliminate all three members of The New Day! Holy crap.
-The celebration is short as No. 2, Chris Jericho, dumps them both out to clear the ring a little bit. The two partners have a face off on the outside.
-2009 Royal Rumble winner, Randy Orton, coming in late at No. 23. RKOs for everyone! Following Orton comes another Smackdown star at No. 24, Dolph Ziggler.
-Super kicks for everyone as the crowd starts a “Goldberg!” chant. No. 25 is the third and final member of The Wyatt Family, Luke Harper. He eliminates Crews and faces off with Randy Orton as Bray tries to defuse the situation. But Harper takes them both out. Harper nearly delivers a Sister Abigail to Bray, but Orton hits the RKO.
-And its time to wake up. Brock Lesnar is here at No. 26 with pyro and Paul Heyman. Ambrose and Ziggler are eliminated without a second thought and then supplexes and F5’s as far as the eye can see. a great visual with just Lesnar and a bunch of bodies on the ground.
-Lucky No. 27 belongs to Enzo Amore who is surely about to become a snack for the former UFC Heavyweight Champion. Clothesline. Toss. Thanks for coming Amore!
-Only three entrants left. No. 28 is Goldberg and I wish J.R. was here to say “business has just picked up!” The crowd is pumped for this. Face off. Goldberg hits the spear and eliminates Lesnar with ease! Holy shit! Lesnar is irate and the Alamodome is shocked!
-Orton and Wyatt team up on Goldberg but get a spear for their troubles as Goldberg surveys all the carcasses left in the ring.
-Only two entrants left.
-It’s him. At No. 29, its The Undertaker. Goldberg keeps and eye on the entrance ramp, but The Undertaker appears out of nowhere behind him! The two legend face-to-face for the first time ever! Corbin and Rusev break it up, but Corbin gets eliminated by The Undertaker for his troubles.
-Goldberg tosses Harper, but The Undertaker tosses Goldberg right after! WOW!
-Only No. 30 remains.
-The final entrant to the 2017 Royal Rumble is Roman Reigns!? What!? The crowd is not impressed whatsoever.
-Reigns and The Undertaker start trading punches. Superman Punch to The Undertaker, but a second one is welcomed with a Chockslam.
-The Miz and Sami Zayn are eliminated by The Undertaker. But he goes to eliminate Chris Jericho and is tossed out by Roman Reigns. The Texas crowd is pissed!
-Only Reigns, Wyatt, Orton, and Jericho remain. Jericho has now been in the match for over an hour, but is Superman Punched right after the one hour mark.
-Just like in 2015, Reigns is in the final three taking on a duo. What a new concept.
-Wyatt gets tossed and its now just Orton and Reigns. Randy Orton hits the RKO, and Orton wins his second Royal Rumble after clotheslining out Reigns. Well then.
-This was a lot of fun. It, like many Rumbles do, dragged in the middle, but the closing minutes were nail biters as I was completely unsure of who the WWE was booking to win this match. I was hoping for a Balor return. Or a set up to John Cena versus The Undertaker.
-It’s disappointing that for the last five years the Rumble winners were almost all men who had previously won a Royal Rumble match to be honest. I guess they are still waiting for someone to step up and become a big enough deal to main event WrestleMania.
-Still, this match was far more fun than the last three Royal Rumble matches by far. We can just only hope they do something interesting with Randy Orton at WrestleMania (and I pray it isn’t Orton/Cena for the 100th time).
Wow! What a fun show. It isn’t often I get to watch a WWE event this long where every match kept me engaged and did what it was supposed to.
-While I do think the Universal, Cruiserweight, and Women’s Championship matches all had a few things working against them they all ended up being enjoyable and told good stories.
-John Cena and AJ Styles is what the past generation had hoped from Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair. We, as fans, are so lucky to be able to get these two in the ring together. I hope we get to see them wrestle even more.
-The Royal Rumble match, itself, was a definite improvement over the past several years editions. It was fun and a lot of people got chances to shine. I don’t find Randy Orton too be that interesting of a winner, but I’m just happy there was not a huge backlash against the match like there was when Batista and Roman Reigns won a few years back. WWE has clearly played it safe the past few years with Triple H and Randy Orton winning the marqee match.