We Review the WWE 2017 Royal Rumble

 

The Royal Rumble is one of the biggest shows of the year, as the event itself is one of the most anticipated matches of the year. True, it hasn’t always been perfect, but for better or worse, it’s an event to be excited for. This year was no exception: Two big championship matches, and a Royal Rumble with several big names, some of which only seem to come out of the shadows for events like this.

Bayley vs. Charlotte – Raw Women’s Championship

I was excited about this one because both women are extremely talented. Bayley and Charlotte had some good matches in NXT, but Bayley has improved since then so I thought this would top those. Sadly, if they have it in them, this was not the night as neither woman seemed to bring their A-game. Luckily these women can slink down the alphabet a little and still produce something decent. The final spot of Charlotte pulling natural selection on the apron was impressive. However points also have to be deducted for this match feeling like a glorified squash and disinterested crowd.

Match rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

In between matches, Sami Zayn drew his number and Dean Ambrose replied in a way that made me laugh harder than it should have.

Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns – No DQ Match for the Universal Championship with Jericho in a shark cage

Boy, was that description a mouthful. After a somewhat underwhelming showing at Roadblock: End of the Line (to both men’s credit, the match was good, but the ending was lame), I figured these two could do better, and this was it – probably not the best match these two can do, but definitely a good one. The no-DQ stipulation definitely gave Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens the chance to play to their strengths. This match was filled to the brim with wild spot after wild spot: Owens performed a cannonball to Reigns onto the barricade, Chris Jericho gave Owens brass knuckles to tool around with, and an insane-looking frog splash to a table outside. One of the strangest, but most awesome moments was when Owens tried to use a Stunner on Reigns. Roman got his licks in too, with a drive-by kick, dropping Owens onto a pile of chairs and performed a Samoan drop onto a seated chair.

Kevin Owens won when Braun Strowman came out and beat the stuffing out of Roman Reigns, even putting him through a table. (I don’t mind admitting I winced when Strowman slammed Roman onto that table and it didn’t break.) Strowman’s interference was a mixed bag because of… something that happened later in the show. Still, this match was impressive.

Match rating: 4 stars

Neville vs. Rich Swann – Cruiserweight championship

This was another match that was good but felt like nothing groundbreaking. Part of the problem was the fact that the crowd was dead. Maybe it’s been WWE making the cruiserweights look unimportant, maybe it’s the fact that this match was sandwiched between two huge matches in the thick of a six-hour show (counting the pre-show). I’d also theorize that Neville is being pushed as a top heel when fans would probably rather cheer him, but Neville is seriously one of the best heels in the company. Still, Neville and Rich Swann put on a pretty good match. Even if this felt like it should have been on 205 Live, it was still solid. Neville won with the Rings of Saturn – I get making Neville looking more heelish, but maybe the Red Arrow would have woken the crowd up.

Match rating: 3.5 stars

As we moved onto the main event, I began to realize: Smackdown was kind of getting the shaft tonight. During the original brand split, Smackdown often got the shaft at PPV time with having few matches on the card, compared to what Raw had. And I’m worried history might repeat itself with Raw‘s three matches, compared to Smackdown’s one. But to be fair, Smackdown made the most of that ONE match.

John Cena vs. AJ Styles – WWE Championship Match

Yeah, now we’re talking! I praised Owens/Reigns for having a match that played to their strengths, and I feel this is the same way: John Cena and AJ Styles are two guys who don’t NEED a gimmick. There was a ton of drama going into this match, with Styles earning two one-on-one victories over Cena last summer and Cena looking to tie Ric Flair’s record for most world title wins. The match started a little slowly but eventually picked up. These two showed off why they’re at the top of their game. This match was an absolute nail-biter with both men getting their big moves in on multiple occasions. Even Cena performing the Attitude Adjustment from the top rope couldn’t put Styles away. They say you can lose without looking like a loser, and that summarizes the end of this match: Cena caught Styles during a Phenomenal Forearm attempt and gave him an Attitude Adjustment, then ROLLED HIM OVER for a second Attitude Adjustment. Yeah, Cena won and tied Ric Flair’s record of 16 world title reigns. Honestly, I’m not too upset by that on principle but hindsight may have a way of making this a really awesome or really terrible decision.

Match rating: 4.5 stars

The 2017 Royal Rumble Match

As the match started, Big Cass was the first entrant. I normally like Enzo Amore and Cass’s pre-match promos, but this went on just a hair too long – points to Corey Graves for the Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure reference. As always, the Rumble had its good parts and its bad parts. Highlights included Strowman entering earlier and looking better than he’s ever looked eliminating people left and right. There were some comedy spots this year: Dean Ambrose tricking James Ellsworth into running to a fight with Strowman was funny, Jack Gallagher’s antics with his umbrella were hilarious (as Gallagher usually is). Seeing Cesaro get a little swing happy was fun as well. I feel like the comedy spots may have gone on too long, but each one made me laugh. There were impressive spots such as Cesaro and Sheamus eliminating all three New Day members at once, only to be eliminated themselves. Plus guys like Brock Lesnar, the Undertaker and Goldberg all looked good. Yeah, the argument could be made that they were robbing spots from younger talent who needed it more, but if they’re going to be there, they might as well look good.

Demerits included the occasional slowdown in action. Also, even if they hung in there, newer guys like Sami Zayn, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose and even Rusev eliminated ZERO people between them! Roman Reigns was the 30th entrant, and his presence felt pointless. I have no problem with the challenger to the title entering the Rumble but there seemed to be no storyline explanation for it. His presence seemed to only serve two purposes – One I feel like he was there to set up a feud with the Undertaker (Hope you weren’t too excited about that possible Cena/Taker match everyone was excited about) which is irksome because it seems to be crossing lines with Strowman feud from earlier. Also, I feel like Reigns was only used as a decoy so fans would cheer for the eventual winner… Randy Orton

Orton winning the Rumble was not a direct insult as much as it was a fridge logic annoyance. I will applaud the company for not telegraphing the winner (some columnists I follow pointed out that all the Rumble buildup was on Raw and thought a Smackdown victor was impossible) and not going for an obvious choice. Then I realized the real problem: We’re probably going to see Cena/Orton 78,975 at Mania (maybe Orton will challenge Owens). Fans were clamoring for Samoa Joe or Finn Balor to win the Rumble. While it’s debatable how well that would have worked (of the two, Joe would have been my pick since I think he’s more exciting), their presence would have added a much-needed spark to this Rumble. However, even among people in the Rumble, Bray Wyatt, Chris Jericho or The Undertaker would have been more interesting picks.

Still, I don’t want to hammer on this too much: Maligned winners such as Batista and Roman Reigns paid off in the end. Hindsight may make me eat my words on this, but right now, my crystal ball is looking bleak. As for the Rumble match itself, this was a passable Rumble but not one of the greats. It was better than 2015, but it hardly ranks with 92, 07 or even last year’s Rumble as great Rumbles.

Match Rating: 3.5 stars

Overall, Royal Rumble was good but not great. Most matches were good. There were no bad matches, but only the two championship matches were truly excellent. The Rumble match was decent but hopefully, hindsight will justify Orton’s victory.

The Good
  • - Great Championship Matches - Good but not great Rumble - Cena looked worthy of having 16 word title reigns - Every match was at least decent
The Bad
  • - Questionable Rumble winner - Underwelming Women's title match - New/current stars took a sideline to stars of the past.
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