Royal Rumble 2017 certainly brought the excitement with title changes, fantastic matches, and great moments. Check out my thoughts inside!
Raw Women’s Championship – Bayley vs. Charlotte (c)
Bayley and Charlotte opened up the Royal Rumble with their Raw Women’s Championship Match. This right away clued me in to the fact that Charlotte would probably retain her title as expected. No one would put a Bayley title win on first so that was a pretty dead giveaway. The positive in all of this is that if that’s the first match then we’re in for a pretty good show.
Bayley and Charlotte had a pretty good match, I feel like they didn’t hold anything back and they really got after each other with some pushing and shoving in the beginning before putting on quite a show of wrestling. Bayley even hit a Macho Man elbow that seemed to cut Charlotte somewhere on the mouth. I would put this match up there with some of the early encounters between Sasha and Charlotte in terms of quality. I felt that Bayley was really on her game and really embraced her role as the underdog while Charlotte took physicality to a new level.
Charlotte did win the match after hitting Natural Selection on the edge of the ring and rolling Bayley in the ring for the pinfall. It was a logical ending to this match with Bayley being beaten out of nowhere. I love Natural Selection for that reason. It’s a move that can literally be used in any situation. Charlotte could do it off the top rope if she wanted to. I think the great thing about it is that it’s not the only thing that she relies on like so many stars. You never know when a match is going to end because Charlotte utilizes 3 finishing moves.
Bayley did a good job getting a lot of offense in in this match. I felt like there were a lot of points where it looked like she was poised to win only for Charlotte to thwart the attack. The fans desperately wanted Bayley to win, but Charlotte had a lot more “woos” than I expected. I think it’s very difficult to be behind any one woman right now because the women in WWE are so strong and putting forth such incredible matches. Bayley’s time wasn’t on this night, but she certainly proved her worth to those who might have been on the fence about her.
I think we’ll see these two face-off once again at Fastlane, but it’s possible that this one could be strung out until Wrestlemania. Hard to say at this point.
No DQ for the WWE Universal Championship (Chris Jericho in a shark cage): Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
The elements in this match all pointed to Roman Reigns winning. Jericho was in a shark cage so he couldn’t interfere and Reigns could do virtually anything he wanted to to Kevin Owens to claim the title. The no disqualification stipulation did seem a bit fishy to me though. The famous Wrestlemania X-7 match between The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin had that same stipulation added at the last minute to create an opportunity to have Austin win the title with the help of Mr. McMahon. It was much the same situation in this match.
Roman Reigns ended up losing the match after Braun Strowman interfered to put him through a table. Owens then rolled onto Reigns for the pinfall. This was one of those matches where you were just waiting for someone to screw with it. It was too perfect of a situation for Reigns. Jericho did end up dropping some brass knuckles to make it seem a little less obvious that there would be interference, but it was still pretty easy to guess what was going to happen.
I thought the interference finish was a dumb way to end the match. I would have greatly preferred Owens finally overcoming Reigns without help. Owens’ entire championship reign has been riddled with interference which is so strange for someone who was so dominant coming in to have to resort to those tactics. As entertaining as Owens and Jericho are together, I’ll be glad when they finally face off which looks like it could be coming at Wrestlemania. I’m just interested to see whether he still has the title by Wrestlemania.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship – Neville vs. Rich Swann (c)
One of the biggest knocks on Rich Swann would probably be that he hasn’t shown any real aggression yet. That all changed on Sunday as Swann took every bit of physicality that Neville threw at him and tossed it right back. It was a great battle between former friends, which was evidenced in a pre-match highlight package. The best wrestling feuds have always been between people who are actually great friends in reality. The ones that come to my mind instantly are Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H, The Hardys vs. Edge and Christian, and Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens.
Neville did eventually win the title despite Swann digging deep and going to a place he’s never been. It was the Rings of Saturn that made Swann tap out and Neville is your new Cruiserweight Champion! I definitely think it was the right time for Neville to win the championship and I really think he’s going to elevate 205 Live to be a good complimentary show to the three main shows.
I’ve really been impressed with the way that Neville has completely changed his character. It’s hard being a good guy because there is only so much you can do to get people to like you. Neville never seemed to be able to tap into anything that was very successful as a face on the main roster. When he became a heel, he was instantly more appealing. He’s a menacing character who’s really embracing his evil side.
I think this feud has a lot more left in it. I’m actually really interested in what these two can do with a bit more time. Their match at the Rumble wasn’t exactly short, but I could have easily been entertained for another 10 minutes.
WWE Championship – John Cena vs. AJ Styles (c)
If there’s been one feud that has captured my interest over the past year, it’s been the feud between John Cena and AJ Styles that has gone off and on for the better part of the past 6 months with a few month break in between. These two guys are complete opposites in the ring. Cena came up through the WWE system and made his name in WWE while AJ came up through the indies, Japan, and TNA to finally make it here. It’s a story of the biggest current star in WWE vs. the biggest current star from outside WWE.
John and AJ’s previous matches were nothing short of amazing, but this match was easily my favourite of the bunch. These two guys went out there at the Rumble and tore the house down. If anyone says Cena can’t wrestle at this point, I will no longer listen to anything they have to say. John Cena can trade moves with anybody as good as anyone ever has if not better. I’m not even a Cena fan but I truly respect what this man can do. Cena did win his 16th World Championship after 2 Attitude Adjustments in a row followed by the pinfall.
Now, I know what everyone is thinking, “How could they let Cena tie Ric Flair’s unbreakable record?”. They didn’t let Cena tie anything, Cena worked hard to attain all the success he’s had in the ring. He’s consistently been the hardest working guy in WWE and if anyone deserves to tie or break Flair’s record, it’s him. In the end, records are meant to be broken otherwise we wouldn’t keep them. This one almost certainly will be.
It would be tragic to not talk about how instrumental AJ Styles was in Cena’s big win. These two guys went back and forth chaining together incredible sequences and never once stumbling. It’s amazing how polished fluid the whole match was. One month into the year we already have a Match of the Year candidate. You really get to understand AJ’s value when you see how great he can make his opponent look. There were moments when Cena looked like a monster in there because of the type of bumps that AJ took. It was quite a match.
I really hope these two have a rematch, but AJ’s rematch clause will likely cover Elimination Chamber instead. If you didn’t see this match, go watch it now!
Royal Rumble Match
Admittedly, with as many names that were in this Royal Rumble Match this year, it was somewhat underwhelming to me. Jack Gallagher channeling his inner Mary Poppins and Tye Dillinger coming out at number 10 were the only real surprises. There was no Samoa Joe which really makes me wonder where Joe is and what he’s going to be doing next. There wasn’t a surprise appearance by Triple H. Every potential good thing that could have happened didn’t.
Make no mistake, it was an entertaining match that I definitely enjoyed. Brock Lesnar ended up eliminating a bunch of people right as he came in. Corbin got the elimination on Strowman and he was really impressive when he finally got eliminated. Big things are in his future. Goldberg ended up eliminating Lesnar when he got in there. Roman Reigns and The Undertaker had a battle that ended with Reigns eliminating Taker. That has to be a Wrestlemania preview. I’m not too excited for that one but I guess it’s probably what we’re getting.
The surprise of the night was Luke Harper turning on Bray Wyatt and trying to give him Sister Abigail. It was a cool moment, but the even better moment was Randy Orton winning the Rumble and eliminating Roman Reigns to do it. That was a bit of trolling on WWE’s part to make it look like Roman was going to win. Right now, it looks like Orton will challenge John Cena for the WWE Championship, but we’ll have to wait for the dust to settle. I’m happy with Orton winning, he’s been one of the most intriguing stars as of late and he’s a lock to have a good match at Wrestlemania.
Gallows and Anderson finally won the Raw Tag Team Championship! They pulled the tights to get it, but it’s about time!
Alexa Bliss was pinned by Naomi once again in the 6-woman tag team match. This could be a sign of feuds to come.
Nia Jax beat Sasha Banks in their kickoff match with a Samoan Drop. I’m not sure where they go from here, but Nia was dominant.
This event was top to bottom amazing. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that, but every match brought it. The extra time given to the matches definitely benefited everyone and we really got to see how talented of a roster the WWE has.