WWE put on one of the better Royal Rumble events in ages. The company doubled down on its two rising stars in Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka as the Road to WrestleMania 34 is officially in full swing.
The Royal Rumble told a story fans needed to see. While Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles both retained their brand titles, the night belonged to the signature matches – both the men’s and women’s battle royal events.
They did not disappoint. The historical moments of the matches, the old versus new guard in the men’s match and the rise of Nakamura to a perch he rightfully deserves. The mix of legends and new talent on the women’s roster, only to see the incomparable Asuka win a predictable spot in New Orleans. It all worked well and gave us all something to look forward to over the next few months.
I’m hesitant to put the arrival of Ronda Rousey on the highlight reel of the night only because part of me is excited she is now part of the WrestleMania package and part of me thinks she could have appeared on Tuesday night to challenge Charlotte for the SmackDown Women’s Title and it would have had more impact.
Now, like everyone else, I move forward with the hope WWE does not screw this up. If anything, the company that has struggled to fine balance and consistency for years now has balance. And after watching a painful 25th anniversary of Monday Night Raw just one week ago, I am willing to give the McMahon’s a mulligan if they pull this off correctly.
Nakamura and the WWE Champion AJ Styles will meet in the middle of a ring in New Orleans and tear the building down. A rivalry rekindled and a match fans have been screaming for since Styles made his WWE debut. Here are some general thoughts on the night that was solid, with the two marquee matches being spectacular.
Braun Strowman is a champion without a title. Will the baddest man in the business ever win the Universal Title? How does WWE continue to put Lesnar over when it is clear Strowman is the new beast of Monday nights? The triple-threat match between the two behemoths and Kane was a wrecking ball type event fans expected. The fact Kane at the pin from Lesnar must push a match between him and Strowman for one final confrontation.
The Raw Tag Title Match Was Poorly Booked. It was unfair to make The Bar and Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan the match following the win by Nakamura. It would have been unfair for any match to follow such a spectacle. Now, I wonder how the conflict between Jordan and Rollins is booked. The worst thing to do would be to book a match at WrestleMania between the two, but WWE now has time to build Jordan as a heel. That might be the best road for him to travel.
I would have liked to have seen more from the Smackdown Tag Team Title match. The Usos winning in two straight falls was unpredictable. It left me wanting more. The Usos and The New Day set a bar of excellence that won’t be reached for some time. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin have a chance to be very good tag team for a long time. This has potential to be a solid feud over the course of the first half of 2018. I just wanted more from it.
I loved the women’s Royal Rumble Match and about screamed when Lita, Torrie, Beth Phoenix, Michelle McCool and Trish all came out to the ring. I know fellow CCB writer Sarah Hirsch was doing the same thing (we were talking through messenger the entire match). The transition from the old guard to the new division was well played. Also, there is plenty of new talent that makes the women must-see television. The only issue I see with the booking of this match and the women’s division moving forward on Raw is Nia Jax will never be a champion. She is the baddest player in the game, and the company does not know what to do with her, unlike her counterpart Strowman.
What’s next for Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens? How will WWE continue to write this storyline? Owens is one of the five best performers in the company, but his current status with Zayn has lost its appeal. Someone, does this lead to a tag team match between the two BFFs, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan? That’s the only plausible reason for this type of scenario.
WWE Unreleased: 1986-1995