Hello AW Universe,
The 2020 edition of Royal Rumble was a mixed bag, but the main event did exactly what it should do every year: make a star.
Here is a recap of the results and reactions to the event.
Sheamus d. Shorty G (Pre-show)
Andrade d. Umberto Carrillo to retain the United States Championship (Pre-show)
Roman Reigns King Corbin in a Falls Court Anywhere match
Charlotte Flair wins the 30-Woman Royal Rumble match
Bayley d. Lacey Evans to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship
Daniel Bryan “The Fiend” Universal Championship
Becky Lynch d. Asuka to retain the Raw Women’s Championship
Drew McIntyre wins the 30-Man Royal Rumble match
Sheamus d. Shorty G
– SKIP THIS –
I mean, come on, did anyone expect anything ground-breaking out of this one? Sheamus is back from what could’ve been a career-ending injury and Chad Gable is… well, “Shorty G,” now. One thing that does remain is Gable’s impressive grappling and in-ring work he hit a moonsault so pretty that would make Kurt Angle cry, and executed a picture-perfect German suplex bridge. Gable gets some offense, but this was always a spot for Sheamus to get his first win back in WWE.
United States Championship
Andrade d. Umberto Carillo
– SKIP THIS –
This match was actually a pretty well-told clash of styles, with Andrade’s slower, more methodical grappling grounding Carrillo’s fast-paced high-flying. This match isn’t bad, and that’s why you should skip, it’s just clear that this is the first in what’s probably going to be a lengthy rivalry, so there’ll be other (likely better) matches in their future. They certainly have chemistry together, so the matches should be entertainment.
Roman Reigns d. King Corbin (Falls Count Anywhere)
– SKIP THIS-
Reigns gets a pretty massive pop as he comes out, which is a good sign if the plan is indeed to have him win the Rumble match at the end of the night. As for the match itself, it was a fine hardcore-style match that utilised the entirely of Minute Maid Park for about five separate table spots. It’s tough to have an incredible memorable hardcore match with WWE’s fairly strict legislation of colour, so it did what it could with the somewhat limited creative freedom that’s allowed these days. Reigns won with a spear by, what I think was, the dugout after the inevitable involvement of Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode on Corbin’s behalf, and The Usos on Reigns’.
Honestly, all I could think the whole time during this match was how pissed I would be if I paid $300+ for tickets to sit ringside, only to have them go off into the outfield of a ball park.
Charlotte Flair wins the 30-Woman Royal Rumble
I mean come on, it’s a Rumble match! For the lack of transparency as far as announced participants, this match gave a healthy dose of NXT talent that undoubtedly impressed fans who were perhaps unfamiliar with the wrestlers. First and foremost Bianca Belair got the huge spot as the dominate eliminator. She and sweet Alexa Bliss opened the match, and both lasted over 25 minutes– oh, how I was hoping that they’d have both competitors last to the final four– with Belair leading the match with 8 eliminations, one of which involved Gorilla Pressing Candice LaRae onto the floor like she was a child.
The returning Beth Phoenix was impressive, both in lasting to the final three, but doing so with a noticeably growing mess of blood at the back of her head.
Liv Morgan eliminated Lana, only for Lana to pull Morgan down as she was heading up to the top rope, meaning that this rivalry somehow isn’t over yet.
Naomi returned and had one of her “save my feet from touching the floor with crazy athleticism spots,” but the best unexpected elimination save was Otis randomly rolling out from under the ring to save Mandy Rose as she was being tossed out of the ring.
Charlotte earned the victory, and though it might not have been the swerve or surprise that many had wanted like, say, a Shayna Baszler or Ronda Rousey win, it felt right. Charlotte is still inarguably the best wrestler in the women’s division, and adding a Rumble win to her resume is appropriate. Baszler was the 30th entrant, and with the crowd clearly behind her, led to some actually pretty intense boos when Charlotte did eventually eliminate her with a head-scissors (it looked as though they botched the first attempt at it). But, Charlotte being Ric Flair’s daughter, and a natural with this pro wrestling shit flowing through her veins, immediately cut a heel promo on the crowd, basically saying even if they didn’t want her to win the match, she didn’t give a shit because she proved once again that it’s her division.
With a tear in her eye. All hail The Queen, Charlotte Flair.
SmackDown Women’s Championship
Bayley d. Lacey Evans
Just a bizarre finish. They’ve ben laying the military and motherhood and resilience material for Evans on pretty thick lately, and even after Bayley’s heel turn, she still is failing to click with the crowd, so it seemed pretty telegraphed that there would be a title change here. But no, and I wouldn’t even really call it a swerve.
Also, are we just never going to know what happened with Sasha Banks? She’s all but gone from this storyline and didn’t even appear in the Royal Rumble match. What the hell’s going on here?
Anyway, I bring that up just to say that Bayley has just assumed the role of Child Antagoniser, as she got in Evans’ daughter’s face just as Banks had to start this whole feud. So adding that in even made it seem like Evans was destined for the title, but Bayley won with a cover after simply getting her knees up as Evans attempted a springboard moonsault. Bayley actually showed pretty good heel tactics in the match, attempting to untie a turnbuckle pad, feigning a knee injury to get an upper hand, and talking mad shit to Evans’ daughter.
Maybe the bookers are saving the Lacey Evans title victory for a blow-off match at WrestleMania 36? Must be, because there’s just no way that this feud ends this way.
Universal Championship (Strap Match)
“The Fiend” Daniel Bryan
The match was mostly a slow beatdown by Bray Wyatt, marking Bryan’s skin up with welts from some vicious and stiff whips from the leather strap. Bryan did get some offense in, landing some Running Knees and his own pelting with the strap; it looked as though he caught Bray in the right eye, swelling it shut as the match progressed. In another really cool spot, Bray nabbed Bryan in mid-Running Knee into a Sister Abigail. Then there was some great technical countering during the finishing sequence, with Bryan locking in a Triangle Hold on Wyatt as he had the Mandible Claw on Bryan on the corner, leading to a gruesome power spot as Bryan fought back and used the strap in the LeBell Lock. But it all ended when “The Fiend” began to no-sell some strap whips, locking in another Mandible Claw and then hitting a Mandible Claw Chokeslam.
It’s still too early to take the title off of “The Fiend,” but full-on babyface, “Yes Movement” Daniel Bryan is back, as the crowd was ready to see an underdog win. It’ll be interesting to see what happens on SmackDown this Friday, if there’s a set-up for another match for Bryan, or if “The Fiend” moves on to another victim.
There was also no red light in this match, so somehow that memo finally got through.
Raw Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch d. Asuka
This match told a great story. Both wrestlers exchanged offense, with Lynch getting the early momentum before Asuka took it back, and it swung back-and-forth until the end. Lynch fought out of an armbar, took a German Suplexes, and ate some wicked kicks to the head as she tried to rally. But it all went Lynch’s way after she had Asuka’s attempt to spit the Poison Mist scouted, mule kicking her in the stomach, thus having it spray all over Asuka, locking The Disarmer and and submitting her foe.
I think it would’ve actually been pretty good storytelling to have Lynch lose her, continuing the narrative of Asuka being her greatest rival of whom she could never beat, and chasing the title into WrestleMania 36 and finally felling her there. But at the same time, Lynch just looks so good with that title belt, natural with it, so holding on to it is fine.
Drew McIntyre wins the 30-Man Royal Rumble match
A star making match. What happened here shows precisely what the power of not only the Royal Rumble match itself, but of Brock Lesnar can do to make a new superstar.
Yes, there’s an argument to be made that the beginning third of the match was a little redundant, with Lesnar squashing far too many legitimate wrestlers– John Morrison, Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kofi Kingston, Big E– but they all set up to have Drew McIntyre to look like the next powerhouse, getting the rub from the heat that Lesnar built from being so dominant in the early going of the match, setting a new record for eliminations in a 30-man Rumble with 13.
But before we got to that star-making moment, we had the man who’s on the heater of a lifetime, Keith Lee, get his own. Lee got a rub from more than just extended grappling, it was from Lesnar’s impressed and bewildered look on his face as Lee made his way to the ring (“wow, that’s a big boy”) The Limitless one maybe didn’t go quite as far as fans would’ve liked, but fearlessly stepping up toe-to-toe with The Beast was a career-altering moment for him.
The seemingly innocuous dick kick from Lesnar to Ricochet on this past episode of Monday Night Raw played its way perfectly into Lesnar’s elimination, acting as the assist to Drew McIntyre’s Claymore Kick that ultimately felled The Beast.
But it was also a legendary star that stole the night for a moment, and that was the unexpected return of Edge. He looked great, doling out Spears like it was 2010, had a fantastic reunion with Randy Orton (“You look fucking good!”) and had a deep run to the final three– interestingly eliminated in the same spot as his wife, Beth Phoenix, was earlier in the Women’s match– and was a huge factor in having Reigns not win. The pop when his music hit was hair-raising.
Seth Rollins also did all he needed to do in this short time in the match. “The Messiah of Monday Night” used his cronies to take out his biggest rival– Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe– and when they left ringside, he pathetically pleaded with Reigns to join him when he realised he was alone in a ring surrounded by men who were out to get him.
But the night belongs to Drew McIntyre, a man who is impressive in size and athleticism, and has been given some creative freedom on the mic, unlocking his charisma, making him into the star that he his.
Lesnar vs. McIntyre for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 36 will be the next step on his ascension to greatness.