WWE’s Royal Rumble weekend started with the crowning of a new NXT Champion and ended with Randy Orton winning the right to go to WrestleMania 33 in Orlando. It also saw John Cena make history by winning his 16th world title.
In the middle, there were plenty of things to discuss – almost all of it good. WWE did its best to pull off one of the biggest pay-per-view events in recent memory and it did not disappoint. It succeeded on so many levels. Yes, there were a few things I could find fault with like how the Rumble match was booked. Yes, I have a difference of opinion on how some angles could be worked. But the company achieved what it wanted – which was to give fans hope this year chances will be taken and new champions will be crowned. And everything is bigger in Texas.
Here are a few things that went right in San Antonio on Saturday and Sunday night.
Bobby Roode, NXT Champion
I am a huge fan of Roode as a competitor, whom I view as this generation’s Arn Anderson. Someone said Saturday night on Twitter that Roode was Bruce Wayne, Anderson and Ric Flair all rolled into one. I would not go that far, but I see where the comparison comes from. The match between Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura wasn’t the showstopper I hoped it would be, but it did do two things – it put the strap on Roode and sets things up for Mr. Smooth Style to move up to the main roster. Roode is used to carrying a promotion as he did in TNA. This should be no different. His win was Glorious.
The SmackDown star pinned Alexa Bliss. This, as Mauro Ranallo pointed out, puts her in the pole position for the blue team’s Women’s Title. Naomi is the most athletic female on the Tuesday night roster and could get a push toward a title match. The six-woman tag team match (with Nikki Bella and Becky Lynch joining her) against Bliss, Natalya and Micki James was solid and continued three angles which will pour over into weekly programming. Monday Night Raw cannot compete with that right now.
The right thing to do. Putting the WWE Tag Team Titles on Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson should have been done months ago, but finally the company gets it right. While I am huge fan of Cesaro and Sheamus, the thought all along was these two bullies should have been taking everything they wanted since appearing on WWE’s roster. Now, does WWE do the right thing and keep the titles on around their waists or will they play hot potato with the former champions? If not, which tag team is worthy of trying to unseat them? I want to see WWE use these two as an nWo-like tag team that owned WCW for over a year.
Putting Nia Jax Over
That was domination. Nia Jax winning in what essentially a squash match makes Jax an even bigger heel now. Banks’ knee injury allows her save face. WWE hasn’t had a dominant woman like this since Beth Phoenix. What I would love to see is Jax vs. Charlotte – where Charlotte’s pay-per-view record is on the line. If WWE wants to promote Charlotte as the best female to ever compete in a match, then put her in this kind of situation and in the process, put Jax over once again.
Keeping the Title on Charlotte
So much has been made of Charlotte’s PPV record, building an Undertaker-like streak. Bayley was a viable opponent, but it is not her time yet. Having the fan favorite chase her only makes her a bigger babyface in the women’s division. Charlotte, as Michael Cole pointed out, is on a different level as everyone else. This is a solid feud, and like many challengers in the past, chasing will eventually allow Bayley to reign in the women’s division.
The Kevin Owens Show continues, but this time with the help of Braun Strowman. This guy has more lives than Felix the Cat. I love this situation as it sets up nicely for a feud between the Big Guy and WWE’s biggest performer. This falls in line with the theme of Owens not winning on his own. I have said it before, Seth Rollins used to get heat for help from the Authority. Now Owens has taken over that spot.
All Hail the King
Neville defeated Rich Swann to win WWE’s Cruiserweight Title. The move was the right one since Neville has brought new life back to the Cruiserweight Division. Neville’s ability to dominate since becoming part of the 205 crew has made the division worth watching once again. This was one of the more entertaining matches of the night, and should prove to be a feud that has some legs while other competitors join the fray to make this division great again. I suspect the King of the Cruiserweights will be the face of this group for some time.
This is an early favorite for Match of the Year. John Cena won his 16th World Title tying Ric Flair for the record for all time title reigns. You all know my feelings on this, but the match between Cena and Styles was better than any of the matches the two have had before. It was worthy of the title switch. For most of the past year Styles had been Cena’s kryptonite. The tide turned. How long Cena keeps the title is anyone’s guess, but on a night when each match delivered on every level, this one took the prize as the best.
And most of all, we now know Roman Reigns will face Undertaker at WrestleMania 33, Brock and Lesnar will continue in Orlando. Everything else is up in the air.