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  • Connor Ewens

Let's Review: Royal Rumble 2024

We are nearing the end of the first month of the year and it has been a pretty big month for the world of wrestling. New Japan put out their annual flagship Wrestle Kingdom event, 'Ace' Hiroshi Tanahashi taking the reigns as their president and their biggest star Kazuchika Okada confirming he is leaving the promotion. TNA splashed back into the mainstream in a big way with a great Hard to Kill event, featuring the debuts of some ex-WWE stars most notably Nic Nemeth aka Dolph Ziggler, as well as a match on TV between Josh Alexander and Will Opsreay being regarded as the best match in company history. AEW have began trying to rebuild their lost momentum even with their keyboard warrior of an owner casting a cringe shadow over the promotion. So, what about WWE? Well, unfortunately a HUGE shadow is cast over them right now with the allegations made against Vince McMahon and others. It is a very sensitive subject, I'm not gonna dive into the nitty gritty, but Vince has now quit TKO and WWE in light of the news. A shame because it has been an exciting month for the big Dud. The Rock returned essentially laid out a challenge to face Roman Reigns at some point. Speaking of the Tribal Chief, he has been booked into a feud which feels like the most likely of him dropping the title since last years Wrestlemania. Both Rumbles have been built up to have so many potential winners. This is a very unpredictable show. I recently did a fantasy booking so I will be keeping tabs of anything I predicted. Who will be walking out as champions? Who will be booking their ticket to main event the Grandaddy in Philadelphia? Lets find out. Let's review.


27th January 2024- WWE Royal Rumble @ Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida.


-opening promo package by Hulk Hogan. We've seen quite a bit of him in promos recently. Many think he may appear tonight in the match which I think is crazy, but I see him appearing at Mania. We also have the surprise return of Pat MacAfee on commentary. Always happy to see big Pat on commentary, he is great.


Women's Royal Rumble

The most likely candidates for winner here I think are Bayley, Nia Jax, Becky Lynch or possible returns from Naomi or Sasha Banks. Jade Cargill is a shout, but I think she is going to have a showcase rather than a win here. I'm not going to do a full play by play but I'll highlight the best and most important parts.


Entrant 1 and 2 are Natalya and Naomi! I think possibly one of the most expected returns of the weekend since she said farewell to TNA recently, but still a great moment for the Floridian. They wrestle to a stalemate, Bayley enters at 3. Bayley is a clear fan favourite currently. Number 5 holy shit its Jordynne Grace! TNA Knockouts champion! This is awesome, TNA chants ring out as Grace runs wild. A WWE x TNA relationship is definitely in progress then. Grace and Naomi resume their feud from TNA after a brief embrace. Asuka enters at 7, which is surprising because it was assumed that Bayley would be the only member of Damage CTRL in the rumble. These two work together, Bayley saving her from elimination even if she is tentative about the alliance since there is bubbling issues within the faction. Grace and Ivy Nile have a powerhouse contest, I would love to see a match between these two. Bianca Belair enters at 10, a third of the way and only one elimination so far. She unfortunately botches a springboard immediately but she quickly recovers. She has an impressive run of offence. Kairi Sane now enters, Damage CTRL with 3 members in the ring now so they are able to take control of the match.


The ring continues to fill up, Natalya again tries to eliminate her closest ally like she has done in the past but Tegan Nox reverses and throws her out, then Bayley throws her out. Kayden Carter & Katana Chance, who recently lost their tag titles to Asuka & Sane, team up and eliminate them from the match, Bayley is on her own. Chelsea Green enters and avoids being eliminated in seconds, refusing a repeat of last year. We get an awesome clash between Belair and Grace, the latter took a KOD on the apron to be eliminated. Zelina Vega enters at 17 with some like Decepticon-like wings. I honestly don't know what they were, I am hesitant to say they looked cool. Maxxine Dupri attempted a headscissors on Bayley and it looked awful. Nia Jax enters in at 19 and starts clearing out the field. Shotzi closes out the second third at 20 driving her tank.


Dupri does a "reverse caterpillar" which Michael Cole calls a larva, a great line. Thanks to Nia we now have only 6 ladies in the ring as Becky Lynch enters at 21. She goes after Lynch, a storied rivalry that has recently been reignited. Fyre comes in and tries a double team move but Shotzi fucks it, quite a lot of botched offence in this match so far unfortunately. Valhalla enters at 24, but then R-Truth's music plays and he enters the rumble. "Where are the guys?" Adam Pearce tries to explain it to him. "Are you telling me all them are women in there?" A funny segment. The match has dragged on for some time now, nothing has really happened outside of a few spots. Women come in, run through some offence and we're back to standing around and grappling in the corner. 27 is NXT's Roxanne Perez which is a nice surprise, at least something fresh. She has a nice flurry before Jax drops her. Jax gets 3 eliminations in a row, 8 total just as number 28 arrives, Jade Cargill. A huge pop for her, she immediately looks like a megastar. She goes at it with Nia, lifting her with ease and eliminates her. Lynch laughs at Nia, before she goes head to head with Jade. Now the match has seriously picked up. NXT's Tiffany Stratton at 29! Love this, she hits a huge swanton on all the ladies before fighting her former rival Lynch. Number 30 is the returning Liv Morgan who receives a nice reaction. No Sasha which is fine, I wasn't confident she would actually be here.


7 women left and they're all big names who could reasonably win it, except Stratton. Bianca and Jade finally have their stare down, I am fully expecting this to be Jade's first big singles match. Jade eliminates Lynch and Naomi back to back in impressive fashion, Naomi setting a record time in the match. Stratton holds on to Belairs hair to survive, but Bayley kicks them both down! A cool spot. Morgan, Bayley & Jade remain. Bayley chants ring out. Jade reverse an Oblivion, all 3 end up on the apron. Jade takes a ton of offence but Liv manages to take her out, then Bayley kicks Liv down to the mat to win! Bayley wins from number 3, Ric Flair style and now sets a new record for longest time in a women's rumble.


The Good- Bayley winning was the best choice if we were not getting Sasha Banks. The fans wanted it and they got it. She put in a hell of an effort going almost the distance. I assume she won't challenge Rhea, she will turn face and challenge Iyo Sky. The surprises of Naomi, Jordyyne Grace, Roxanne Perez, Tiffany Stratton, Jade Cargill and Liv Morgan were all great. Naomi was a feel good welcome back in her home town, Perez & Grace got to showcase their skills, Grace was a genuine shock that I didn't expect and it was great to see Morgan come back. Jade was the star pick though, she came in looking great and left looking great. She feels like a perfect fit here in WWE.

The Bad- The match really dragged in the middle portion, the first 10 entrants moved at a good pace but then it got real slow and eventless mostly until Jade arrived. We had a few nice sequences but a lack of substance. Also there was a lot of botching. Dupri's was possibly the most apparent but from start to finish there was plenty of awkward moments or moves that didn't quite sync up well. It got awkward in there. Especially Shotzi, I hate to say it but it would have been better if she contributed nothing because she was very botch heavy. The match had little flow, it's not a bad match but it could and should have been better. I think I booked a better rumble, go read that article.


Bayley wins the Rumble (65:03)

***


Roman Reigns (c) vs LA Knight vs AJ Styles vs Randy Orton, Undisputed WWE Universal Championship

1,245 days. Nearly 3 and a half years of Reigns as champion. It is truly historic, whether you hate it or not. After 18 months out, Orton has returned and immediately stepped up to Reigns. Both Styles and Knight have had their issues with Reigns and also want a shot. A number 1 contender match was set up, but Roman and his Bloodline attacked all of them, so the GM Nick Aldis set up a four way here. The 3 challengers have formed a shaky alliance recently to fight the Bloodline, but will that hold up during this match? Very interesting to see this match second on the card, it feels a bit out of place. Orton could win his 15th world title here, which I personally think he should if we're getting Rock vs Roman at Wrestlemania, then we can get Orton vs Rhodes at Mania. Although, I would love to see Knight win a world title. I just don't think it is time. Later this year hopefully.


It's nice to have a very different story in a world title match for a change. It is a 3 on 1 match early on but the animosity between Styles and Knight sends them fighting each other. Reigns gets very little offence in the early portion of the match. Orton takes control after fighting around the announce table, Knight clears house but now Roman is in to take control. Reigns punishes Knight whilst keeping Styles and Orton out of the ring. Styles manages to get in the ring and is beaten down, but it provides Knight with an opportunity to fire up. Knight's leap up to the top rope for a suplex is always so impressive. Knight hit a BFT on Reigns but Styles broke it up. Styles hits a Styles Clash to Reigns but Knight breaks it up. Orton reverses a phenomenal forearm into an apron hung RKO, then an RKO to Knight, then reverses a superman punch into a sweet RKO! 1-2-no. Solo Sikoa pulls the referee out, once again. Solo spikes Orton, then Knight and prepares a double stack for Reigns. The referee really should be in counting the pinfall since Knight is on Orton. Solo tries a hip attack to Styles on the outside but crashes and burns. A phenomenal forearm and Styles pins all 3 men but they all kick out. I don't think that could have been a legal pin but it was a cool visual. Styles wields a chair, shades of the Rumble last year. He wails on Reigns and then on Knight. He goes for Orton but receives and eye poke. Spear on Orton! He rolls out, Knight attacks Reigns but a push by the champ knocks both him and Styles out. Reigns hits a spear and pins Styles, quite flatly.


It might be just because I wanted it to be different, but that was a really flat finish to a really good match. Knight and Styles told a good story being too at odds to prevent Reigns' reign continuing. The match was very good, I wouldn't call it great though. I am really surprised we didn't see anything from The Rock at all.


Roman Reigns retains by pinfall (19:33)

***1/2


-Promo for I think a new WWE Saudi show, the WWE Experience in February. Or it is some weird pre-Wrestlemania fan event. Also NXT Vengeance Day in a weeks time.


-Jelly Roll is in the audience. I don't really fuck with his music, however his speech in regards to a bill to prohibit Fentanyl was inspiring and I advise you check it out.


Logan Paul (c) vs Kevin Owens, US Championship

Kevin Owens won a tournament to get this opportunity. Owens knocked Logan down with one punch due to wearing a cast, so Logan promised to beat him in the match and a court of law. Owens removed the cast, but Logan has targeted it presumably reinjuring the hand. There was also a backstage fight between the two at the PC which I always like. It is little things which they don't need to do but it goes lengths to adding more spice to a story. I'm unsure who is walking out here, the injured hand may give Owens an excuse for the loss.


Owens started of hot and aggressive but Logan targets the hand to gain control. Logan showcased his wrestling skill even busting out an Octopus stretch. Anytime Owens tries to fight back Logan had an answer. KO finally powers back with a neckbreaker and a pair of cannonballs. A frog splash gets him a near fall. Both men attempt but fail swanton bombs. Paul's awesome buckshot lariat sets up a frog splash for a near fall. Paul hits his big right hand for a big near fall, the first time it has been kicked out of. Another one of Logan's pals tries help but security escort him out. Then Theory and Waller come out to help, Theory gives brass knuckles to Logan but KO takes them. He throws the punch and nearly wins but the referee spots the knucks, calls for a DQ. Owens beats up Paul, putting him through the announce table in rage.


The DQ finish made sense and it was booked in a way that wasn't a sour way to finish. I imagine we will see a rematch on the horizon. This was another very good match, they worked hard and it was quite competitive though the beat down segment did drag on for a little.


Logan Paul retains via DQ (16:04)

***1/4


-advert for Wrestlemania XL, which I will be in attendance for!


Men's Royal Rumble

The clear favourites of course or CM Punk or Cody Rhodes. However Drew McIntyre, Gunther and even The Rock could be considered as possible favourites too. Since we haven't seen the Rock yet, will he appear here in this match? Now I don't think so since the world title match has already happened. Again, I'll highlight important parts as I run through the match.


Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso are 1 & 2. Awesome way to start. This is the first major in-ring confrontation since last year when Jimmy cost Jey the world title. This might also be a future Wrestlemania match. They have an even contest until Grayson Waller enters at number 3, cutting a promo on the way to the ring. "Yeet might be the cringiest thing I've ever heard" He might not be wrong. The heels double team Jey until number 4, the returning Andrade! I knew he would be back but not this soon! He was on AEW TV only weeks ago. A great moment for Andrade here. Santos Escobar is in at 7 and we get an awesome stand off between he and Andrade. Santos hugs him and tries to pose but Andrade brushes him off. Give me a singles match between these two please Big Trips. Dominik Mysterio enters at 9 to the loudest boos of the night. It is great how consistently hated he is. Carlito enters at 10 to close the final third, the Latino representation is running wild. He spits apple in Santos' face and eliminates him, a nice little addition to their rivalry.


Bobby Lashley is in at 11 and eliminates Kross after a minute or so, confusing since they're trying to rebuild Kross and the Final Testament as a force to be reckoned with. Kross pulls Lashley down, so the two have a big brawl. Kross' allies the AOP come down as do the Street Profits, the feud is far from over. This is feeling very similar to the women's rumble already. Good start but screeching to a halt in the middle part. There is little sequences or stories going on, all the guys hugging each other near the ropes. Finn Balor is in to save Dom from elimination and now the Judgement Day can take over the match. Cody Rhodes enters at number 15 and gets a near full entrance because fuck the rest of you guys. Rhodes hypes up the match briefly before he is worked over by Dom & Finn. Rhodes and Nakamura continue their feud. Kofi Kingston enters his 16th rumble match, second highest ever. Rhodes eliminates Nakamura with a cool rope-hung crossroads. Gunther arrives at 18, on his way he verbally bashes Ludwig Kaiser who just got eliminated. The IC champion murders everyone with chops, he slams Bronson Reed with ease. Gunther and Rhodes stare down and fight, a call back to last years final 2. Gunther eliminates Kofi, the first time in years he doesn't attempt a royal rumble save spot. There is a funny mini-story going on as Jimmy tries to befriend and ally with everyone who enters but they all refuse.


Bron Breakker enters at 20 and he goes on a tear of eliminations. He turns and stands up to Gunther. I can actually see Breakker being the guy who they want to end the reign. He manages to overpower Gunther and remains on top dominant. Big tall and boring Omos enters at 21. He boots Reed, who clearly hoists himself over the top rope for the elimination. As Bron and Omos stare down, Pat MacAfee has to enter 22. He enters, thinks about it and eventually just eliminates himself. What a waste of a spot. Bron clotheslines Omos over and then Dominik eliminates him. A mad Bron Breakker spears JD McDonagh who was entering at 23. At 24 we have R-Truth who throws in JD to be eliminated immediately by Jey Uso. Truth is on the apron reaching Dom for a tag. I love Truth. He gets the crowd to clap for the tag and he gets the hot tag! Truth pays homage to his childhood hero John Cena with 3 of the 5 moves of doom but Gunther boots him. Miz and R-Truth team up, but Truth saves Dom from being eliminated by them. The Truth & Judgement Day story is my favourite thing. Priest now enters at 26 and immediately eliminates Truth to huge boos. CM Punk is in at the most successful rumble number of all time, 27. He runs wild, eliminating Dom Dom in the process. Drew McIntyre enters 29. Gunther eliminates Jey who was in there for 50 minutes. Number 30 is...Sami Zayn! He's been out for a couple of months thanks to Drew.


So we're down to Rhodes, Ricochet, Zayn, Priest, McIntyre, Gunther and Punk. Drew flips Ricochet out of the ring which looked cool and rather dangerous. Zayn overcomes Priest, but Drew quickly eliminates Zayn. We get a pair of singles matches as Drew destroys Punk and Gunther destroys Rhodes. A dick measuring contest by the 2 big lads. Drew hits everyone with Claymores and then gets eliminated by Punk, it made him look a bit foolish. Gunther is once again eliminated by Rhodes, similar to last year. Rhodes vs Punk. We have ourselves a mini Rhodes vs Punk match to close things. It's very back and forth. Rhodes lands a Crossroads, but when he tries to capitalise Punk hits a GTS! Punk hits Rhodes with a Pedigree. "If you know, you know" says Corey Graves. Punk says "I didn't wait 10 years to lose to Dusty's kid" He goes for another GTS but it's reversed and he is eliminated by Rhodes. Cody becomes the first man in 26 years to win back to back rumbles. Rhodes immediately points at Roman Reigns. It is time to finish the story.


The Good- This match was definitely better paced than the women's match was. A perfect choice for number 1 and 2 to set up and build towards their eventual singles match. Jimmy Uso trying to make allies throughout the match was good fun. Andrade's return was great. I thought the Judgement Day stuff was consistently entertaining. R-Truth proves once that he is a national treasure and should be worshipped forever. We saw some good storyline progression as well as call backs to rivalries of the past as well as last years royal rumble. I think Cody Rhodes is absolutely the right call, only the 4th man to win back to back rumbles puts him in a very high calibre category. I think Punk and Rhodes being the final 2 was probably best since they were the most likely to win, Punk was the betting favourite as late as Friday when I last checked.

The Bad- There was a part of the second third that began to drag, a lot of time wasting and people stood around hugging in corners which killed the momentum for a bit. Bron Breakker looked like a beast throwing down all of the big boys, even eliminating Omos for him to be eliminated by Dominik Mysterio? I get heel heat but Bron isn't that over with the crowd, I thought it could have been done better. I think Drew's elimination looked really weak, hitting Claymore's on everyone but being dumped out by Punk pretty weakly did less for Drew than it did more for Punk. The worst spot of the rumble though is easily the waste of time Pat MacAfee. I love his commentary and he is a solid wrestler, but it was so unnecessary. He entered the ring, exited, re-entered, then exited and eliminated himself. Why? This could have went to a wrestler more deserving or even a surprise legend return.


Cody Rhodes wins the Rumble (68:14)

***1/2


Overall- 66.25%

It's pretty hard to have a bad royal rumble show because usually even a disappointing rumble is a good match. I think the running theme for this show is "good, but could have been better". The women's match started good and ended great but the middle portion of the match was very weak. The world title match was good but predictably ended with interference and a flat finish saw Reigns retain. KO vs Paul was good but didn't kick into another gear. The men's rumble was good but again we all expected more. I think there is blame on both sides for that. The match was hyped massively by WWE and also the fans who expected ever fucker to return here.


The big takeaway for me is, what will come of The Rock vs Roman Reigns? They teased it far too hard for it not to happen, I don't think it is a case of Rock vs Cena where he will challenge him a year in advance. Will we see Reigns wrestle across two nights? Will we see a triple threat? We will find out in due time I guess. Thank you for reading, if you would like I have a plethora of other wrestling content available so have an explore! See you later.


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