I've read a lot of mixed thoughts on this year's Royal Rumble which I guess comes to no surprise considering wrestling fans are super fickle.
I personally loved the match. The only gripe I had was it being so early on in the show, but the women certainly took advantage of their spot in the main event.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
The men's Rumble only had one or two surprises and nothing to the level that everyone expected or wanted. I feel like that's where the internet really ruins wrestling these days because you get so hyped for the impossible to happen then when it doesn't you feel jaded and a great Rumble gets overlooked. I was personally glued to my seat the entire time waiting on one of these huge surprises and if the final 20 minute or so stretch between Reigns, Cena, Balor & Nakamura hadn't been so fucking awesome, I probably would have came off sour too but the final 30 minutes sent this match into all time great territory for me.
You literally had the corporate faces against the underdog internet favorites. You had old school versus new school and everyone was dying to not see another Reigns or Cena victory even though it felt so obvious. That's what made this great. Every Rumble since the Daniel Bryan disappointment in 2014 has been filled with tension, and everyone dreading the ultimate outcome of a Cena, Reigns, Orton, Batista victory. It had to end sometime and every year it was a nailbiter that just ended in disappointment, but this year was a nail biter with an outcome that was approved universally.
The fact that they structured this final stretch as such also helped it a lot as at one point Cena & Reigns squared off in a staredown with Nakamura & Balor. The battles lines were drawn and as said before, it ruled. The underdog finally overcame the corporate majority. This was three years in the making and truly a historic moment as Shinsuke Nakamura is the first Japanese wrestler to win the Royal Rumble.
I went a strong ****3/4 for the men's Royal Rumble match.
As for the other matches on the card, I tuned in right at the beginning of the men's Rumble so I only caught half of the show, but what I caught was ace and the annual Rumble was just the tip of the iceberg.
Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, and Kane had a chaotic barnburner of a heavyweight title match that I went ****1/4 for because it was quality for what it was. Three big guys barreling through spots and the continued tension between Lesnar & Strowman just straight up rules. We also had a tag title match that honestly fell super flat due to it coming right after the red hot Rumble, but Sheamus & Cesaro defeated Rollins & Gable to win the titles once again.
And in the main event, the women's division delivered a super solid ****+ Royal Rumble with loads of surprise returns and great exchanges. The highlights for me were Lita, Torrie Wilson, & Stacy Keibler, that's my childhood right there, man. Not to mention Michelle freakin McCool. The finish was also another refreshing surprise as Asuka won the first ever women's Royal Rumble. But the real surprise came post match as Ronda Rousey made her way to the ring. A lot of people hated it or were unimpressed, but I personally loved it.
I left this entire weekend of WWE action being extremely refreshed on the product. From the five star NXT to main event to the triumphs of two ever deserving japanese talents in Nakamura & Asuka. This was a weekend for the ages for WWE and I hope they can continue this momentum through the rest of the road to Wrestle Mania!