Six hours. Fifty-five minutes... Ugh... Hello everyone and thank you for joining me again here on Planet Kayfabe. The Royal Rumble is in the books. The show was about forty hours long, so there's a lot to get into. WWE announced a live attendance of 48,193 which means the shoot number is probably closer to 38,000. Still a decent number for the Rumble. Live from Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona this is the 2019 Royal Rumble.
*** PRE-SHOW ***
For the pre-show I'm just going to collect some thought. First thing of note is now that whatever tickets that would be sold have been sold they figured it was safe to finally "break" the news that John Cena would be listed as 'out' for the Royal Rumble. Prior to this show they said John Cena was "questionable" for the event, which usually in WWE speak that means they want to surprise you. This time it meant that ticket sales were slow so they were going to advertise John Cena for a PPV they knew he would not be apart of. That pretty much means if you paid thinking you were going to see John Cena you got worked. I'm sure many of you reading this don't care, but it was still pretty slimy.
The United Stated Championship changed hands in a decent enough match. Nakamura would recapture the title he lost on Christmas Day from Rusev after Lana tried to point out to the referee while standing on the ring apron that Nakamura was taking off the padding over the turnbuckle, which the ref clearly saw but didn't give a shit and was more concerned with Lana on the apron. As I'm sure many of you saw coming, Rusev, like a dumbass because all babyfaces in this company must have th IQ of a retarded squirrel charged Nakamura who moved and Lana took a bump to the outside selling her ankle in a spot that would actually be a key angle later in the show.
They also announced a Halftime Heat special, 20 years after the original Halftime Heat, taking place during the "big game" (can't say Super Bowl) next week featuring NXT Stars in a 6 man tag-team match. Alister Black, Velveteen Dream and Ricochet vs Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano and and Adam Cole. The best part was them burying Maroon 5 something fierce which I totally approve of. Although, they must have turned down WWE at one point because a shit mainstream pop act like that seems right up WWE's alley. You can also watch this on WWE's social media.
*** Main Card ***
Asuka vs Becky Lynch (Singles match for the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship)
Winner and still SD Women's Champion: Asuka
Becky Lynch and Asuka went for just over 17 minutes in what was possibly the match of the night. It wasn't a 5 star classic, but it was a very good championship level match to open the show. The thing most people are talking about is the fact that Becky Lynch tapped out to Asuka and critics of the finish (one being Bully Ray) think that made her look a little too weak and she should have passed out.
I disagree. I loved this finish. The reason why is because it is usually like WWE to do one-foot-in-the-water booking and try and make everyone happy and in the end everyone is even and no one is elevated and no one gets truly over. Asuka won the championship largely because of Ronda Rousey's interference at TLC. Her tapping out Becky solidifies Asuka as a legitimate champion and not some fluke who won the title due to being in the right place at the right time. If Becky had passed out like some had suggested we would have needed another match, or fans would feel like she deserves another shot during a time where they are going to be focusing on her and Ronda.
Tapping out shouldn't be the big mark of shame its become with some fans. It should be just another clean finish. They put the champion over. Someone has to go over or else why the f*** am I even watching this match? Its so rare these days for WWE to just put someone over in plain black and white, so I was all for this. Its not so important that someone taps out. Its how they are booked afterwards. Asuka tapped out to Charlotte last year and then she was put in a shitty feud with Carmella where she had to slip on banana peels to James Ellsworth. That's what hurt Asuka in 2018. Not tapping to Charlotte and if you've already watched this show you know how Becky's night ends.
The Miz and Shane McMahon v The Bar (c) Tag team match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Winners and new SD Tag Team Champions: The Miz and Shane McMahon
As predicted we have new Tag Team champions in the form of The Miz and the just turned 49 year old Shane McMahon. They went about 13 minutes which kind of surprised me because usually a match with Shane in it must get a half hour of PPV time, but this went just the right amount of time to not overstay its welcome. The body of the match was pretty dull and standard, but the finish was great.
Shane went for the Coast-To-Coast but Cesaro caught him and went for his old Big Swing spot which seemingly lasted 2 minutes. I thought Shane was going to puke, which would have been amazing. The Bar went to re-create the spot of Sheamus Brogue Kicking Shane'O while Cesaro holds him still, but this time The Miz was able to come in for the save and Sheamus ended kicking Cesaro by accident. Miz took advantage with a Skull Crushing Finale on Sheamus and Shane took the post where his 49 year old ass would execute a Shooting Star Press on Cesaro for the victory to win the SD Tag titles.
Afterwards they celebrated with Miz's father who was in the crowd. Miz was a total babyface here which is worth noting since on TV he was still acting heelish in trying to get Shane to become his partner as a sort of odd couple team. The crowd loved the finish, so if you think it sucks having Miz and a 49 year old former executive as your title holders at least they got a reaction tonight. We'll see how it plays out in the future. Hopefully Miz isn't as white meat as he was here because the chemistry lies in Miz being a bit of an annoying friend and Shane being annoyed actual adult.
Ronda Rousey vs Sasha Banks (Singles match for the WWE Raw Women's Championship)
Winner and still Raw Women's Champion: Ronda Rousey
IT'S BOSS TIME!!!
Anything I was worried about in my preview didn't apply here, so that's good. Nice to see these professionals are listening to a person with a web blog. There was some rough shit, but I don't mind. I like that Ronda is unpolished. She stands out. One of the things I don't like about WWE right now is everything is so clean and homogenized and guys are just doing a bunch of moves and showing off their agility and cardio. Ronda's work looks pretty legit even if some of the slams look awkward.
They went just under 14 minutes. Ronda spent this month putting over Sasha as an underrated talent coming off an uneventful 2018, but no one really thought she was beating Ronda here. They did a lot of submission work and countering which was really good. In the end Ronda won with her "Piper's Pit" move. I'm not sure how I feel about that name. I think it makes Ronda come off as a bit too derivative. If you didn't know better you'd think Ronda was Roddy Piper's daughter. I don't mind the little hints here and there but she has a kilt, the colors, the logo and now a move called Piper's Pit... I mean, come on. We get it. The post match celebration felt very long. Just what this show needed, more segments stretched out. Sasha flashed the "4" symbol for the Four Horsemen. The celebration went so long that I thought Sasha was going to attack Ronda but it didn't happen. The fans liked both wrestlers but if Sasha turned the fans probably would have popped because WWE has trained people to only care about moments, not actual stories, that they pop whenever someone turns now because they feel like they're actually seeing something.
Women's Royal Rumble Match
I'll get the obvious bad out of the way first. This match went 72 minutes. That's too f***ing long. Especially for the first Rumble match of the night. I know some of you will disagree, maybe even most of you will but I'm not a huge fan of them doing two 30-person Royal Rumble matches in one night. It's too f***ing much. In the future I think the women's Rumble should be 20 women instead of 30 if its going to remain on the same show or they could do an 'Evolution' style PPV based around the women's Royal Rumble and they can have the damn match go 80 minutes if they want. I know any way you slice it it almost sounds diminishing to not have the women's Rumble be 30 women or having it on the same show but its a simple fact that having two of these matches on the show going over an hour is just overkill.
As much as I enjoy seeing names from the past come out, they didn't rely on that here. There were 6 names from NXT and two "free agents" and Maria Kanellis who is listed as a 205 talent. Beth Phoenix was on guest commentary during this match as well. Like many fans my age and older, I like to see the past names get a quick run in the Rumble but I'm glad they changed it up this time and focused entirely on the current and future talent of the women's division.
Natalya lasted the longest. She entered at #2, lasted 56 minutes and eliminated 3 women. Ember Moon lasted about 52 and a half minutes but eliminated nobody... Weird. Charlotte Flair, who entered at #13 also lasted 50 minutes and got the most eliminations with 5.
Here's a rant that applies to both Rumble matches and I see this shit every year and I hate it. Even in the kayfabin' work of WWE I need some logic, rules and structure. Billie Kay comes out at #7 and refuses to enter the ring because she wants to wait for her friend. Fine, I guess because part of her gimmick is she can't be separated from her fellow IIconic. However we see this shit every year where the heel just stands outside the ring, or exits through the bottom rope and hides for heat just to wait for the herd to thin out.
Now, I can understand a heel hiding because that's sneaky but when a wrestler comes out and RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE REFEREES says "I'm not going in the ring" and the refs just stand there like a bunch of assholes why isn't this person counted out? Also, if its legal, why doesn't everyone do this? There should be a rule where you're counted out if you don't enter the ring before the next person's number is called. To me its not good heat. It just cheapens and undermines the Rumble. Another thing that cheapens the Rumble is when already eliminated wrestlers or wrestlers not even legally in the match at all come out to eliminate someone in the match. That makes no sense to me. Its like if you were playing a hockey game and the coach ran out on the ice to kick the puck into the goal and it actually counted as a score.
I guess I can't mention all of that without mentioning Zelina Vega who spent much of her time hiding under the ring which lead to a comedy spot with Hornswoggle who chased her around the ring. He actually got one of the better pops of the night. It was a fun spot. Hornswoggle is only 32 years old which is pretty crazy considering the gimmick has a bit of nostalgic appeal to it now since he debuted in 2006. Number 28 hit and it was Lana. It was supposed to be, but she was selling her ankle from earlier on the pre-show. The crowd had been chanting for Becky and they got Becky. She came out and with Lana in no condition to perform Fit Finlay gave the go-ahead for Becky to take her spot. I wonder if he reunited with Hornswoggle afterwards?
The match came down to Becky, Charlotte, Nia Jax and Bayley as your final four before being whittled down to Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. Becky and Charlotte were probably the two most predicted to win so this was a strong, suspenseful final two. Charlotte was playing more of a heel role here with Becky selling a knee injury of her own. Becky sold a lot but I think it only acted as a devise to waste time. No one really wanted to watch her sell. They wanted her time in the Rumble to essentially be like a hot tag. In the end Becky would gain the advantage and come out as the winner. So, for everyone who thought Becky Lynch was ~BuRiEd~ by tapping out to the f***ing champion of the Smackdown Women's division who holes the record for the longest undefeated streak in wrestling, all was made right here with Becky winning the 2nd ever women's Royal Rumble match.
It was an alright match. I thought the first 2/3's were kinda dull. Once we got into the 20's things picked up a bit and the stuff once Becky entered was great. So, the best was saved for last.
Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles (Singles match for the WWE Championship)
Winner and still WWE Champion: Daniel Bryan
Apparently some people (I didn't see them but enough for another wrestling news outlet to tweet about apparently) were complaining about all the women being on the show "too early". Well, here's why you shouldn't be upset if you thought the ladies were getting the shit end of the stick because this is what you call a kill spot. The WWE Championship and two of the best workers in WWE were given a piss break match. The crowd was dead. Again, they were probably saving their energy for the next Rumble match because apparently we just need two of these damn things.
Live I liked the match, but it wasn't their best. Their match at TLC was incredible. This was just pretty good and I think much of it stems from them trying hard to get the crowd into it. In this kill spot they should have just went crazy and did a full on spot fest instead of a scientific wrestling match. The people just weren't into it. I'm glad the champion retained, not just because Bryan is so hot right now but also I'd hate to see the title switched in such a dead spot on the card. The finish featured a ref bump. I groaned. Just a stale booking crutch that WWE needs to back off of for a while. They do it just to give the visual of AJ pinning Bryan. Whatever. Erick Rowan came out at the end dressed like someone's dad who played in a post-grunge band in high school to help Daniel Bryan. It sounds as random as it looked so I'm sure more details will come on Smackdown. Bryan is killing it on his own so I'm not sure if a heavy by his side will weigh him down, but we'll see. They are paying this bloated roster for a reason. Better start finding jobs for people.
Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) vs Finn Bálor (Singles match for the WWE Universal Championship)
Winner and still WWE Universal Champion: Brock Lesnar
Again, I saw some people worked up about this finish. Look... I don't know what to tell you. I love Finn. We all love Finn. There was no reason for any of us to think he was going over here. The match was very good. Possibly the match of the night. I'm leaning more towards this match than either of the women's title matches that were both very good as well. However the match was what we all knew it was going to be. Finn had a good showing and in the end Brock went over to begin the road to Wrestlemania. WWE didn't want to beat Braun again so they put Finn there. Hopefully Finn has a strong 2019, but there was no reason to think he was actually going to beat Brock here and if you got upset over that then I'm not sure what to say other than you should have known better.
The match officially went just under 9 minutes. It was a Brock vs smaller guy match. Aggressive and fast paced. The kind of great matches you've seen him have with guys like Bryan and AJ as well and Brock isn't beneath selling for these guys. One of the signature spots was Brock taking the corner of the announce table to the gut which was a pretty good idea. We've all seen guys put through tables to the point where we are numb to it and just pop since it looks cool, but seeing a guy take a corner of the table to the stomach is a sort of pain we can all relate to I'm sure. A couple good nearfalls. Finn counters the F-5 into a DDT. Finn then hits 3 straight dives to the outside on Brock. The crowd was pretty hot for this. Back in the ring Finn hits the stomp off the post for a great nearfall and Brock shortly thereafter his the Kimura Lock to submit Balor and retain the title. Very good match for the time given.
Men's Royal Rumble
Winner: Seth Rollins
Finally... The main event. The match started with Elias at number 1. He had his guitar in the center of the ring and cut one of his usual promos. Elias would be interrupted by the sound of a country fiddle waltz to bring in Jeff Jarrett at number 2 out in his mid-90's Double J gear. He looked hideous. That gear looked bad in 1995. In 2019 its a thousand times worse. Even though he looked like a goof, he was well recieved and he cut his old promo where he spells his name out. All the fans knew it by heart as if Jarrett never left because most of WWE's fans are old as f*** now and kids don't watch this shit anymore. I'm sure the kids who were watching were long in bed by now, too since on the east coast it was 11PM on a school night. Elias acted like he wanted to jam with Double J but intead he took his guitar and broke it over Jarrett's back and tossed him out of the ring. This would be Elias' only elimination, too. Much like the women's Rumble, they didn't rely on legends much here. Jeff Jarrett was the only surprise legend. Kurt Angle came out at number 4 and lasted 3 minutes, so it was all about the current talent and a few NXT'ers.
Seth Rollins, our eventual winner, came out at number 10 and lasted the longest at an even 43 minutes. I like that they did it that way because usually they like to put someone over as the "iron man" of the Rumble but then have someone else win it while the person who lasted the longest gets to talk about how they lasted a long time in the match. Here, Seth lasted the longest and won. Drew McIntyre was my pick to win. He entered at number 16, lasted 20 minutes and tied with Braun Strowman (#27) with the most eliminations at four, so no one went on a long spree of eliminations.
Number 30 was supposed to be R-Truth but Nia Jax took him out and entered herself into the match illegally. Or so I thought it was illegal. Corey Graves tried putting it over as the same thing Becky Lynch did when its nothing like that at all. Lana was unable to compete, so Becky came out and an agent granted her Lana's spot in the women's Rumble match. This was the men's Rumble. A woman came out, attacked an entrant and entered the ring without a ref, agent or Vince himself saying it was ok to do so. So... Why do we even have a women's Royal Rumble match? Shit, if this nonsense is legal, why not just have one Rumble match with 15 men and 15 women and save ourselves a good 70 minutes? Some of you may have liked this. I thought it was dumb. The only part I liked was when the guys hit their moves on Nia. Moustafa Ali, who has been given a mini-push lasted a half hour and was eliminated by Nia Jax despite being a woman in a men's match and inserting herself into it regardless of gender anyway. If I was Ali, I'd be ripping shit apart on Smackdown because he has a good case for saying that elimination shouldn't count. Again, it would be like if during the Super Bowl the New Orleans Saints came out to try to win the game themselves in the middle of it. Its just f***ing stupid. I get the whole "its wrestling just turn your brain off" excuse, but I need SOMETHING to make sense and this made no sense. So, R-Truth and Mustafa Ali have a legit gripe with this company... in storyline anyway. Whatever. I guess it pays to be The Rock's cousin. I'd rather The Great One get her some piddly bit role in one of his movies than all this screen time in WWE, though. I will say I'm a little surprised. Nia took legit strikes here. She didn't take a hold or a toss or was just thrown out of the ring. She took a Superkick by Ziggler, then a 619 and then an RKO. Some people are buzzing about that, but really, back in the late 90's this was fairly common. We saw the Dudley Boyz do big spots with women all the time, possibly most memorably Mae Young getting powebombed off the stage. So, that's whatever to me. I mean, they put Nia in the match they have to get her out somehow, right? Is another woman supposed to come out and clothesline her to the outside? It is what it is. Plus, Nia getting kicked in the face made much of this long night worth it. If you thought Nia getting involved here was great on all fronts, though I hope you weren't bitching when James Ellsworth got involved in the women's Money in the Bank a couple years ago.
Rollins and Strowman were the final two. Again, you had two believable potential winners to close the match. Braun is the winner of the Greatest Royal Rumble, but I don't think WWE even mentioned that. The finish saw Braun taking a Curb Stomp to the apron and he fell to the floor to award Rollins the victory in the 2019 Royal Rumble. The match went about 57 minutes, thankfully. If it went as long as the women's match this show would have been over 7 hours long including the pre-show. That's just ridiculous.
Some closing thoughts. I thought the overall PPV was good, but not great. I thought both Rumble matches were good but not great. I thought the other matches were good as well. So, a show where mostly everything was good, the only thing I can complain about is the time. This f***ing run time. It just keeps getting long and longer. All the time I hear wrestlers bitch about fans having their faces in their phones during the show. How can you blame them? 7 hours is just way too long to be at a wrestling show or any kind of show really. If your favorite band did a 7 hour set I'm sure you'd be checking your phone a few times, too.
I'm a big fan of the Royal Rumble, but I really feel having two 30-person matches like this in one night is just too much. I love the Rumble, but I can only take so much. If you told me you loved ice cream, I don't think you'd be thrilled if I planted a 5 gallon bucket in front of you and told you that you had to eat it all in one sitting.
Case Field was a nice setting but WWE really cheaped out here. They could have had some pyro for the winners of the Royal Rumble matches. They didn't even have a Wrestlemania sign to do that corny point pose after winning. It was just a graphic on a video board. Don't worry though. The sign will be on Raw. All these billions they fell back asswards into with these TV deals and they still cheap out on aesthetics. Whatever. Maybe they're saving it for all the guys they want to keep in WWE, but not push, but not want them to leave to AEW.
My final rating is 7/10 hot goth babes. A very good show, but a very long show. If I were booking it, I'd make it shorter and close some of the logic holes that plague the Rumble every year. Thanks for reading. Follow me over on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe. Enjoy Raw tonight and I'll see you next time. God bless.