Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura were the victors of their respective Royal Rumbles, which is nice enough, though ultimately a little too predictable for my taste. The Rumble matches were good, but the other matches were pretty disappointing in my opinion.
WWE Title Handicap Match: A.J. Styles (c) versus Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
More referee screwiness? We haven't had enough of that already? I get that they wanted to start the build for Styles/Nakamura right away, but after SmackDown this week, we know that there'll be a title shot at Fastlane between Styles and either Owens or Zayn. So there's still plenty of "unknown" heading into Wrestlemania season.
Would've been cool to see how they handled the co-champion idea, but again, predictability wins out.
My prediction: A.J. Styles via pinfall over Sami Zayn
Result: A.J. Styles via pinfall over Kevin Owens
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) vs. Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable
This one was a shocker, for a number of reasons. First, the match wasn't all that great, which is surprising with the people involved. And second, I really did believe that the Usos would lose their tag titles after Jey's arrest for driving drunk.
Why even have this match if Benjamin and Gable lose here? It makes them look weak, and doesn't prop up the Usos at all. I think they would've been way better off pushing Bobby Roode's match from the pre-show to the main show and giving it some more time to breathe, and maybe dropping Luke Harper vs. Bo Dallas or something into the pre-show. Anything else would've been an improvement.
My prediction: Shelton Benjamin via pinfall over Jey Uso
Result: Uso #1 via pinfall over Shelton Benjamin
Men's Royal Rumble Match
Like I said, it was cool Nakamura won, even if it was pretty predictable. Honestly, I would've kind of liked to see what Philly did if Roman Reigns eliminated Nakamura to end the Rumble. But of course, that would've set up the Elimination Chamber as a match for the Universal title, and you know Brock Lesnar can't wrestle more than 8 times a year. You don't want to burn three of those matches by April.
Overall the match was pretty good, I thought they actually did a better job than they've done in years of capturing the old school style of people doing a lot of punching and struggling in corners, rather than the obnoxious "ABC enters the ring, does his finisher four times, everyone lays around the ring waiting for the next guy."
Hilariously, I find myself already imagining what we might see out of next year's Royal Rumble. I'm like an addict.
Longest time in match: The Miz
Final four competitors: The Miz, Roman Reigns, John Cena, Rusev
Winner: John Cena
Longest time in match: Finn Balor
Final four competitors: Roman Reigns, John Cena, Shinsuke Nakamura, Finn Balor
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Pretty predictable result, though I didn't expect Jordan to be basically a no-show. I'm interested to see how the RAW tag division evolves over the next couple months. It could go up, or it could go way down.
My prediction: Sheamus via pinfall over Rollins
Result: Sheamus via pinfall over Rollins
Universal Title Triple Threat Match: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane
Really crappy match. Even the big spots weren't interesting or impressive. Completely predictable, and despite their intentions, it doesn't preserve Braun's strength. He's lost three different Universal title matches at this point. He deserves to be set aside for someone else.
My prediction: Brock Lesnar via pinfall over Kane
Result: Brock Lesnar via pinfall over Kane
Women's Royal Rumble Match
I gotta say, I was impressed by the women in this match. A few of the legends showed a little bit of age, but honestly, almost everybody looked to be in good shape and very capable of handling themselves. The eliminations weren't any more obvious than the men's match, which is all you can ask for.
Asuka is obviously very popular right now, and her winning makes plenty of sense. I loved her confrontation with Ember Moon; those two have fantastic chemistry, and there's so much character in the ring when they're facing off. I'm also glad that Ember got an Eclipse off before getting eliminated; non-NXT fans need to see that move.
Longest time in match: Sasha Banks
Final four competitors: Nikki Cross, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella
Winner: Becky Lynch
Longest time in match: Sasha Banks
Final four competitors: Sasha Banks, Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, Asuka
The whole Rhonda Rousey moment didn't mean anything to me; I'm not a UFC fan, and star-power doesn't do much for me when it comes to wrestling. The word is that Rousey will be a full-time wrestler, but this was already an important event for the future of women's wrestling. I'm not sure you needed to double down after the women's Royal Rumble with Rousey.
Overall, I thought it was just an okay event. The two Rumble matches were very good, but the other matches were mostly garbage. It's a stark contrast to last year's Royal Rumble which had an incredible WWE Title match between John Cena and A.J. Styles, and a very, very good Universal Title match between Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns.
Ah well. Hopefully Elimination Chamber gives us some magic. See you then!
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