Much like Christmas the WWE’s Royal Rumble event comes once a year and with it comes the joys of wishing and hoping for all the big matches to come over the next few months till WrestleMania. That being said, the last few Rumbles have been a bit of a let down (to say the least). But with this being the “biggest” WrestleMania ever, the WWE needed to hit this one out of the park and get more happy eyes on the product.
Did they do that? Yes and no. Let’s discuss…
The (Rebooted) Game:
So here’s the important part of the whole event, Triple H is the Champion for the 14th time (nine WWF/E Championship and five World Championship wins). While that was depressing to type its a statement on the WWE roster as a whole and the companies strategy towards WrestleMania. Why spent the whole year building a hero, when you can just get an older wrestler from the 90s and 00s to get butts in seats? From the Rock to Dave Batista to Brock to now Triple H the main events over the past five years sees a staple of the roster (Daniel Bryan/Randy Orton, John Cena twice and probably Roman Reigns twice) facing the drawing returning star.
While this method does seemingly work, it’s hard to make a star in the process. Especially when the ones working with the stars and John Cena or Roman Reigns. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think someone like an Owens is ready to sell out a Football arena quite yet (give him a year at least) but the idea of seeing another part time wrestler in the spotlight while the midcard struggles to get into the battle royal must feel like a punch to the gut for the likes of Stardust and Dolph Ziggler.
But with the focus of Triple H’s Mania match switching around so much; first it looked like the Rock then it switched to Seth Rollins who then got injured, it seems that Reigns and the WWE Title is the only road for this match. That doesn’t make it any easier for the fans who never saw Hunter as one of the top stars of the company.
AJ Styles: IWGP (Important Wrestler Getting Paid):
Without a doubt the biggest story going into the Rumble was the debut of former TNA and New Japan Pro Wrestling star AJ Styles and all the questions surrounding him. What number would he enter as? Who would he take out? Will he get a big push? Turns out the answers were third, Curtis Axel and yes but the push was from Kevin Owens throwing him out of the ring.
The match was a weak showing for the Phenomenal one who was seemingly there to just land on his back and land the occasional forearm to someone higher on the pecking order…and Goldust. So with the hottest superstar in the business right now (watch any of his matches in NJPW if you need confirmation on that statement) we all could have hopped for more of an impressive showing.
Short of his entrance which was a large moment for the Florida audience (again TNA country) his in ring work was short and only peaked when he was thrown out by Kevin Owens. Sadly, he didn’t even get the chance to hit his finisher the Styles Clash, but that could be due to no one wanted to take the bump.
But who knows, maybe there’s a cool program waiting for the former mini Flair waiting during the next addition of Monday Night Raw.
Owens vs Ole!:
With the main two stories out of the way, the return of the Owens/Zayn feud might have fallen through the cracks. While these two haven’t worked together on the main roster the crowd still came alive when Zayn and Owens met in the middle of the ring. With that type of response maybe these two will get to work with each other on the main roster over the next few months. Maybe a Mania match? One can dream…
Brock on the Bayou:
It seems like Brock Lesnar in the Royal Rumble was a bit of an issue. With the man/freak of nature so dominate over the past few years, it seems like a leap for the Wyatts to be able to eliminate him, even after minutes of beat downs and cheating. What seems to be planned for the next few months is Lesnar’s eventual destruction of the Wyatt’s from their wine drinking bald sheep to the grown man baby who wears an odd shirt that frequently shows off nipple. I hope WWE is happy with the millions they threw at the former UFC champion.
So this year had some good and bad. Good in the (hopeful) revival of a awesome feud and the debut of a former Bullet Club member. Bad in the waste of said BizCliz member and Triple H’s 14th Title win. At least we now know for sure what the main event of the WrestleMania will be with Hunter and Reigns fighting over the title. Its just a shame it’s another year featuring a man past his prime facing a baby face half the audience hates. But hey, its the WWE, we can’t expect to see Okada/Tanahashi now can we?