- The six woman tag match was pretty good, about what I expected. They got just under 10 minutes, fine for a pre-show match. Everyone got some licks in and it looks like we’re going to get some kind of program with Naomi and Smackdown Women’s Champ Alexa Bliss going forward based on the finish.
- The RAW Tag Team Title Match was good; glad to see Gallows and Anderson get the titles after a year that can’t be described as anything but underwhelming. Now we have to wonder if the Cesaro/Sheamus team is done or if they’re going to stay together for a little bit. I figure there’s a match at WrestleMania ahead so they at least get until next month’s Pay Per View to try and settle things down between them.
- Nia Jax winning clean in five minutes over Sasha Banks was a bit of a surprise, albeit a realistic one. Sasha sold the knee injury a little during the match so that can be a catalyst for a rematch next month. I think Jax may be in the running for a RAW Women’s Title program but we’ll see if it’s with Charlotte (doubt it) or Bayley (makes more sense).
The Main Show
RAW Women’s Title Match: Charlotte (c) vs Bayley – Good opener as both ladies got good work in, and they got a decent amount of time to work (13 minutes and some change, although they could have gone a little longer in my book). Charlotte proves why she has the title and why they’re behind her so much every time out. I was a little surprised at the finish. I had Charlotte retaining the title but I figured it wouldn’t be a clean win. They’re obviously not done; the Bayley as underdog role is going to play out through the story here until WrestleMania.
RAW Universal Title Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs Roman Reigns – Great match with lots of crazy spots and big moves. This is the match I was hoping for out of these two as opposed to last month’s letdown at Roadblock. It really helped that I had no idea who was going to win this thing so there was plenty of suspense. Jericho found a way to get involved despite being in the shark cage above the ring, but Roman (of course) overcame it. The stacked chair bump Owens took was just insane as was the frog splash through a table he delivered outside the ring seen below. They just beat the crap out of each other for 20-plus minutes and it was fun to watch. The finish was another surprise as I was not expecting Braun Strowman to interfere (good move by the announce team to call back to the double spear Roman and Goldberg hit Braun with on RAW as justification for his involvement here). Whether this leads to Braun vs Roman at ‘Mania or something else we’ll see.
Cruiserweight Title Match: Rich Swann (c) vs Neville – This was the forgone conclusion match of the main show; we all knew Neville was going to take the title here. Even with that the guys had a really good match, maybe the best pay per view cruiserweight match we’ve seen since the division got rolling. Both guys hit some really good shots on each other and Neville’s new heel persona is one that he’s playing really well. I’m expecting him to just run over the division for the next several months before getting dethroned sometime this summer. Hopefully Swann won’t go the way of TJ Perkins and become somewhat of an afterthought after losing the title; he’s really good and is over with the fans.
WWE World Title Match: AJ Styles (c) vs John Cena – Another great match between these two legends, every bit as good as their Summerslam match if you ask me. They pulled out all the stops and left no stone unturned as far as pulling out moves, and the near falls out of finishers didn’t get out of hand. I’ve re-watched both the match they had at Money in the Bank last year and the match at Summerslam and this may be better than either of those. This match by itself made the show worth watching. And now Cena is the 16 time world champ, one more from breaking the official record held by Ric Flair.
The Main Event
Ahh yes….the Rumble match itself. There was a boatload of speculation and armchair booking leading up to this, and very little of it came to pass which of course was going to result in one thing from the so called smart crowd:
Among the biggest complaints I saw last night were: 1) No Surprises, 2) Roman coming in at number 30 RUINED EVERYTHING, 3) No surprise comebacks/NXT callups, 4) Randy Orton winning does not compute. OK, to tackle those one at a time….
- The ‘surprises’ in the past have consisted mainly of old timers returning or guys debuting who weren’t yet with the company on TV. Well, with the roster the size that it is now you don’t need to run Kevin Nash or The Godfather out there to fill a spot for two minutes. Yeah, those were nice nostalgia pieces but they were done out of necessity before and not by choice. They don’t need that right now. And as for guys not with the company this year that meant Kenny Omega, who’d told us several times that he wasn’t coming to WWE. That’s not his or Vince’s fault if you didn’t believe him.
- Just stop it already. Roman didn’t win the Rumble, and he didn’t win the Universal Title earlier in the show. What else do you want? ‘Why did he get to throw out Undertaker?’ Because they have a match coming up I guess. Y’all were mostly dreading the possibility of ‘Taker winning the Rumble so does it really matter who threw him out? Look, you all are gonna have to accept that Roman is one of the better workers in the company and he’s not going to get relegated to curtain jerking until Vince ‘books him right’, whatever that means. If you like his ring work enough, then booing because you don’t like his scripted lines is just dumb. I mean damn, Cesaro hasn’t said anything worth remembering in five years and y’all seem to be perfectly fine accepting him for his in-ring work and mannerisms.
- Finn Balor hasn’t been cleared to come back. Shinsuke Nakamura has a storyline injury. Y’all wouldn’t have cared about the Revival in the Royal Rumble so don’t even go there. ‘But why couldn’t Samoa Joe have come out at 30 instead of Roman?’ That’s the hill you’re gonna die on, Samoa Joe coming in and throwing out a few people before getting thrown out himself five minutes later? Yeah I’m sure if he threw out ‘Taker y’all wouldn’t have been firing off any ‘he didn’t earn that!’ tweets. Whatever….
- It’s called progressing a storyline. How about you just watch and see what happens. If it leads to Bray Wyatt winning the title at Elimination Chamber and the Randy/Bray match at ‘Mania is for the title…….isn’t that what y’all wanted for Bray? A real push, some title matches, and a title run? You’ve been saying that for almost a year and I agree with you. Well, it looks like that may be coming so you respond by…..complaining? Really?
Really good show top to bottom. The only problems were if you spent your time with your armchair booker/dirtsheet believer hat on the whole time, reciting your favorite internet wrestling buzzwords. Whatever….it’s a show, it’s entertainment, it’s a diversion. Lighten up a little and have fun for once. It’s actually pretty cool when you try it.