Review: Women of WWE lead Royal Rumble in spectacular fashion

Review: Women of WWE lead Royal Rumble in spectacular fashion

My love for professional wrestling began all the way back in middle school, when my young mind believed it to be the completely real and one of the coolest things to ever exist. Practicing Swanton Bombs into my grandmother’s pool led me to join my school’s wrestling team, where I thought I would be performing Batista Bombs and 619’s, but instead a skin tight singlet and sweaty head gear is what was in store for me.

This confusing setback did not ruin my love for the wonderfully athletic performance art. For many years I continued to watch the flagship professional wrestling outlet, World Wrestling Entertainment or more commonly known as, WWE. But, like some fans, I simply grew out of the fandom. The WWE was steering towards a more family friendly show, changing John Cena’s finishing move from the “FU” to the Attitude Adjustment or “AA” was the last straw.

It wasn’t until last year on April, 2nd, I was scrolling through Twitter and I saw two words that immediately sparked my interest, Hardy Boyz. The reintroduction of the legendary tag team duo at Wrestlemania 33 was also a reintroduction for myself, back into the the world of professional wrestling.

Now in 2018, the first pay per view of the year is one of the best in the entire industry, the Royal Rumble. Coming off the back of a nostalgia filled, but lackluster 25th anniversary episode of Monday Night Raw, high hopes still swept across the fan base, especially with the first ever women’s Royal Rumble match being held that night.

Surprisingly the United States Championship match between the champ Bobby Roode and the Gronk look-alike Mojo Rawley was held on the pre-stream before the actual pay-per-view started. Bobby Roode is absolutely a star in the WWE, having one of the best entrances in the business, but after watching the match I understood why it was kept off the main card. It lacked any real exciting moments and finished with Roode retaining the title.

When the actual event started we were treated to the 2 vs. 1 handicap match for the WWE Championship between Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and A.J. Styles. A flurry of wonderfully performed combo moves were performed between all three men. Sami Zayn is one of the hardest working performers in all of the WWE, taking bigger and bigger bumps every time he enters the ring.

This was a wonderfully athletic match to begin the night with, showing off the best that Smackdown has to offer.

While Zayn and Owens were the heels (bad guys) of the match, I started to feel like a victory was coming their way but, a controversial misjudgment by the referee that will surely be talked about on Smackdown kept them from becoming the first ever co-champions and The Phenomenal A.J. Styles held on, a victory the workhorse of Smackdown certainly deserved.

After a lackluster and simply boring 2 out of 3 falls match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship, the men’s 30 man Royal Rumble Match began.

At the one and two positions entered Rusev and Finn Balor. This was a surprisingly early entrance for Baylor, the first ever Universal Champion. But this was clearly on purpose, as Balor lasted almost an entire hour, an absurd amount of time.

A couple of fun gags later involving the unending beatdown of Heath Slater and a 20 second elimination of Sheamus, entered Shinsuke Nakamura, a frontrunner to win the whole rumble. It was clear the Shinsuke was going to last until at least the final three, he has been getting a big push in the WWE.

It wasn’t until the entrant that came in at the 27th position that the Rumble really got exciting. Returning after almost 4 years, Rey Mysterio, an absolute legend in the industry came running down the aisle. The venue exploded in excitement hoping that a return from Mysterio is to come in the near future. Mysterio was a mainstay in the 2010’s but has been headlining the indie-wrestling scene as of late.

Nearly an hour in and the final six stood in the ring, on one side the all-time greats, John Cena, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio. On the other stood the future, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Roman Reigns. This was definitely a statement from the WWE that rang out for the thousands in attendance and the millions watching at home.

After flurry of finishers, Reigns eliminated Orton and Balor eliminated Mysterio. Reigns and Cena stood and the crowd erupted into “you both suck” chants. Cena later eliminates Balor and Nakamura then turns the tables and eliminates Cena.

The final two, the overproduced Roman Reigns and the fan favorite Shinsuke Nakamura, and in glorious fashion Nakamura takes the Rumble after throwing Reigns over the ropes.

While the victory was sweet for the fans the entirety of the Rumble was lackluster and lacked star power. The return of Rey Mysterio was hands down the most exciting part but with hopes of a possible return by CM Punk or Batista, the Rumble could have been so much more.

Next, was the triple threat match between three of the biggest superstars in the WWE, the champion Brock Lesnar, Kane and Braun Strowman. This match was filled with destruction, but with three huge brawlers it felt very slow with very little personality. The only redeeming moment was when Lesnar threw an actual punch that hit Strowman square in the temple after delivering a heavy knee to the head to Lesnar. WWE is a scripted show so when real anger enters the ring fans explode and cheer.

I’m just gonna skip the Raw Tag Team Championship match because that was just plain bad.

Finally the match of the night, the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match. Announced weeks early by Stephanie McMahon, this match was the beginning of a wonderful female driven movement in the WWE. This match also saved the entire pay-per-view from being fairly boring and lethargic.

Standouts from the current roster of women were entrants #1 Sasha Banks, #2 Becky Lynch, #18 Natalyia, #22 Nia Jax, and #25 Asuka. These current stars on the roster shined in their first ever rumbles. Both Banks and Lynch lasted 30 plus minutes, with Banks lasting over 50.

But with a smaller female division in the WWE than the men’s division, the surprise entrants made the match extremely exciting, a feeling that was lacking from the men’s rumble. Multiple WWE Hall Of Famers made a presence at the rumble including, Lita, Michelle McCool, Jacqueline, Beth Phoenix, The Bella Twins, and at #30 Trish Stratus.

After defeating both Bella Twins, the undefeated Asuka was the victor of the Rumble, cementing her position as one of the best new stars in the entire WWE.

Similar to how Wonder Woman (2017) granted women a female hero for themselves, this rumble awarded all the women of the WWE, past and future, an avenue to show off how they can put on just as good of a show as the men. And in the case of this pay-per-view, a much better show than the men.

All of the Hall Of Famers and wrestlers that returned for this match held their own and the only real mistake was brought upon by Sasha Banks who is a current star. She was performing kicks on Lita in the corner of the ring and was clearly off by half a foot and the camera caught the whole thing.

The excitement that the returning stars as well as stars from NXT (The WWE’s farm show) brought redeemed the entire event for me. On the back of how well the Women’s Royal Rumble went, the first ever Women’s Elimination Chamber match will be held at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in four weeks time.

A renaissance has begun in the WWE and it isn’t being led by the Diva division, but the stars of the Woman’s division.

By the way, Ronda Rousey, sporting throwback Rowdy Roddy Piper gear, made her first appearance at the end of the pay-per-view issuing a non-verbal statement that she has arrived in the WWE. Expectations are very high to see what she will do and what the rest of the WWE will do on the road to Wrestlemania.