Tuesday, 29 January 2019

George's Review: 2019 Royal Rumble

Royal Rumble 2019 built on the success of 2018 when it introduced the first ever Women's Royal Rumble. This year, we got much more as we had two championship matches, with Asuka defending the Smackdown Women's Championship, and Ronda Rousey defending the Raw Women's Championship. But did this add or detract from the main match or was it a welcome addition.

Of course the two matches were welcome additions, but I am not sure they added much. Personally I would like to have seen the same set-up as last year with Asuka and Ronda sat by ring side watching the action.

Let's kick off the review with The Ravishing Russian, who un-knowingly helped set-up a surprise entry to the Rumble later on.

Lana accompanied her husband, Rusev to the ring for his US Title match against Shinsuke Nakamura. Not a match I watched, so I can't comment too much, but Lana certainly inserted herself into the situation, much like she has done in their recent outings.

This time, it didn't work in her favour as she was knocked from the ring apron down to the floor. Not only did this cost her husband his title, but also injured her ankle. I guess no-one saw this at the time, but it would go on to cost her her spot in the Rumble itself.

SmackDown Women’s Champion Asuka def. Becky Lynch

This was a hard fought match. It may have started out slow, but it still had everything one would expect from an opening match at a PPV.

In my predictions, I wasn't expecting such a clean win, especially from Auska over Becky, but that's what we got. Our review of the match goes into more detail about the match itself, but this is a feud that certainly needs to be repeated down the road somewhere.

Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey def. Sasha Banks

This match had everything, and really impressed me. It wasn't all Ronda, and wasn't all Sasha. Both ladies showed off their arsenal of moves and counter moves before we were treated to a pin by Ronda. This cemented Ronda as a great performer on the grand stage, even if she doesn't get the time she needs for those matches, we know she can deliver a good match.

Another pairing that I hope we don't see the last of. I want to see more of a build up from these two next time, but I think those seeds are being planted with the talk of the Horsewomen which are going to go head to head at some stage.

Becky Lynch won the 30-Woman Royal Rumble Match

Yes, you read that right! Becky entered herself into the Rumble and managed to win it. To be honest, that's what I thought would have happened. I wasn't expecting anyone else, although I would have liked to have seen Ember Moon take the winning spot.

How did it play out? Well, Lana hobbled to the ring at entry number 28, but struggled to get very far because of her injury earlier in the night. Nia Jax, entrant 29, added more damage to Lana when she walked past her on the way to the ring. Once Carmella was out at number 30, Becky came down and argued with Fit Finlay to put her in the match. The rest is history as she went on to win the whole Rumble, eliminating Charlotte in the end.

I'm happy with this. I know my colleagues at AWOW aren't as much, but WWE didn't have much choice. The crowd were chanting for Becky throughout the Rumble and were only satisfied when her music played and she made it to the ring. Now we have a more legitimate reason for Becky and Ronda to meet at Wrestlemania. They can have a nice build up to their match, and let's hope that Vince McMahon sees sense and we have the first Women's Main Event at WrestleMania.

What about the rest of the match?

Where were the Legends?

I was disappointed that not one of the past Superstars showed up to the match. I didn't expect the same level of entry as we did last year, especially as we had 23 members of Raw and SmackDown to showcase, but they could have given us a couple. I was rooting for Michelle McCool's music to hit and for her to match, if not beat her record for number of eliminations in 2018. However the message from WWE this year was not so much on "Then", but who they have now and upcoming. Which leads me nicely onto the women of NXT.

NXT and NXT UK entrants

The two champions of the respective brands were missing in the match, Shayna Baszler and Toni Storm. Last year Ember Moon, even one-armed, entered the match and had a show down with Asuka, so where were the champs? I hope there's a reason, but it was a shame to show these women off in the match.

We got to see Kairi Sane and Io Shirai show up in the match and they both had a good running. It was great to see them in action. Io Shirai seems to have the job of coming in to save Kairi with her moonsault off the top turnbuckle to the floor. Let's hope they come up with something more for her to do when she makes her debut on the main roster. 

Other entrants included Xia Li, who participated in both Mae Young Classics. I found it amusing she had to announce who she was to the crowd before she got lost with the next entrant in the match. Candice LeRae was another surprise entrant for me. I hadn't expected to see her, but loved how she got to exact a little revenge on Zelina Vega from their days at NXT. Kacy Catanzaro, another entrant from the Mae Young Classic was another surprise entrant, and she lived up to her American Ninja history by escaping elimination and ensuring her feet weren't on the floor, before making her way back into the ring and being eliminated by my favourite entrant from the NXT and NXT UK brand - Rhea Ripley.

Out of all the entrants from NXT, Rhea was my favourite and she slayed the match. It was a shame to see her eliminated to be honest, but she made her presence felt. Please, WWE, bring her up to the main roster sooner rather than later. She is one to watch, and one who will shine!

Raw and SmackDown Rosters

The rest of the match was good. It didn't have the same feel as it did last year, something was missing, but it was still a great match to watch and I found myself counting down and waiting to to hear the music play for the next entrant and watch them make their way down to the ring.

There were some highlights and low-lights for me in the match. The first low moment came in the form of Liv Morgan. I love her, she's such a fun character and can back up her crazy in the match. To be in it for only 8 seconds is disappointing. Naomi was another low point for me. She is so, so talented, but she was only in it for a short period of time. Of course, she showed off her skills by staying in the match after her elimination, but the only good thing that happened was the continuation of her feud with Mandy Rose.

Some of the highlights, have to go to Lacey Evans, in her first PPV, Natalya for lasting the longest in the match, and Ember Moon for nearly getting there. I am in love with the IIconics too, and how Billie Kaye was waiting for her bestie, Peyton Royce before she entered the match. Nikki Cross, although a short time in the match, also made an impact and I love her craziness and can't wait for more.

I can't ignore though, the only women referee around the ring, and the one to hold up Becky's hand at the end. I love to watch Jessika Carr when she's officiating, and it was a nice touch to have her there. Let's hope we see more of her in the years to come.

All in all, I loved to watch the Women's Rumble and can't wait to see more in the years to come. 

But wait ... there was more?

Nia Jax became the fourth woman in history to enter the Royal Rumble, after attacking R-Truth to take his spot. She had done well in the Women's match, but obviously wasn't done for the night. She was eliminated in the end by Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton, but not before taking out Mustafa Ali. 

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