Event: WWE Royal Rumble
Date: January 26, 2020
Venue: Minute Maid Park
Location: Houston, Texas
WWE presented their first major pay-per-view of 2020, Royal Rumble, from Houston last night and officially kicked off the Road To WrestleMania on a high note.
A total of four championships were on the line but none changed hands despite WWE teasing the crowning of new champions throughout the month-long build. None of the tag team titles were defended on the show but that didn’t bother the WWE Universe as the lengthy, thrilling, entertaining 30-Superstar Royal Rumble matches delivered a lot more than what anyone could’ve possibly expected.
Here’s how the PPV went down, with our grades and analysis for the inaugural PPV of the decade.
Pre-Show: Shorty G vs. Sheamus
A match born of Sheamus’ mockery of Shorty G for his size kicked off the first gala PPV of the new year. Since the beginning of their feud, The Celtic Warrior has been the obvious favorite to emerge as the victor, but the underdog Olympian’s sheer determination is what added an interesting flavor to the otherwise bland storyline.
Shorty G managed to fight back and executed a moonsault for a two-count over his opponent. A rolling German suplex even earned him a near-fall. Victory seemed like an elusive dream for the former Chad Gable who couldn’t put the former WWE Champion away with an ankle lock and close crucifix pin.
Sheamus finally knocked Shorty’s lights out with a Brogue Kick to pick up his first PPV victory in nine months.
Result: Sheamus defeated Shorty G
Analysis: As much as the rivalry allowed Sheamus to showcase his extreme level of aggression, Shorty G was crushed in order to put The Celtic Warrior over. Hopefully, the feud is over and WWE should focus on building young talent instead of throwing them under the bus for the sake of pushing veterans.
Pre-Show: United States Championship | Andrade (c) vs. Humberto Carrillo
Andrade wasn’t ready to give up his title so soon as much as Humberto Carrillo was laser-focused on dethroning his fellow countryman.
El Idolo made quick work of his challenger and neutralized any attempt at offense from the young Luchador who did spark multiple comebacks only to be overpowered by the champion moments later. Both Latin Superstars engaged in a series of sunset flip reversals; Andrade caught Carrillo and rolled him up to retain his title in clean fashion.
Result: Andrade (c) defeated Humberto Carrillo
Analysis: This feud seems to be far from over but Carrillo isn’t quite ready to win this title or any other title just yet. His character is bland, lacks unique traits and motivation and the WWE Universe can’t help but look past him. Unless the creative gives his character a major overhaul, Carrillo will continue to be the forgettable underdog who fans don’t care about, if at all.
Falls Count Anywhere: Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin
The months-long feud between Roman Reigns and King Corbin finally climaxed in the opening match of the main card as both men looked forward to winning their singles match before heading into the Men’s Royal Rumble showdown.
It was a wild fight that quickly spilled to the stands and created a chaotic environment as Reigns and Corbin made every place but the ring their playground. After spearing Corbin through the Spanish announcers’ table, Reigns dropped his opponent through another wooden unit when the fight reached the production structure. The Usos, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode joined the party to deliver a thorough dose of entertainment.
The bald heel was thereafter tossed in a portable toilet and tossed over as an enraged Big Dog continued to unload months of anger and frustration on his opponent. The King Of The Ring gained the upper hand on the dugout but Reigns quickly stunned him with a Superman Punch and followed it up with a devastating spear to pick up the sweet victory.
Result: Roman Reigns defeated King Corbin
Analysis: Reigns and Corbin concluded their rivalry on a high note as the live audience ate all the action up to indicate that the creative has indeed excelled at pushing the lead babyface and villain of SmackDown through a single feud.
Women’s Royal Rumble Match
The match struck the right chords and proved to be a thorough dose of entertainment. The Women’s Rumble has always been a cut above the men’s counterpart when it comes to surprises and this year’s showdown wasn’t any exception. Returning legends, namely, Mighty Molly, Kelly Kelly and Beth Phoenix were solid surprises alongside young NXT talents. Santina Marella‘s act was a pleasant comedy spot and Naomi’s miraculous save received a huge pop.
Shayna Baszler, Beth Phoenix and Charlotte Flair made it to the top three; The Submission Magician dispatched The Glamazon over the top rope before being eliminated by The Queen in stupendous fashion.
|1||Alexa Bliss||SmackDown||15||Bianca Belair||26:34||5|
|2||Bianca Belair||NXT||16||Charlotte Flair||33:20||8|
|3||Mighty Molly||Free agent||3||Bianca Belair||10:21||0|
|4||Nikki Cross||SmackDown||5||Bianca Belair and Alexa Bliss||15:08||0|
|6||Mercedes Martinez||NXT||4||Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville||08:14||0|
|8||Mandy Rose||SmackDown||6||Alexa Bliss and Bianca Belair||08:49||1|
|9||Candice LeRae||NXT||8||Bianca Belair||09:01||0|
|10||Sonya Deville||SmackDown||7||Bianca Belair||05:31||1|
|11||Kairi Sane||Raw||9||Alexa Bliss||05:22||0|
|12||Mia Yim||NXT||11||Alexa Bliss||06:30||0|
|13||Dana Brooke||SmackDown||14||Bianca Belair||05:26||0|
|15||Dakota Kai||NXT||12||Chelsea Green||01:32||0|
|16||Chelsea Green||NXT||13||Alexa Bliss||00:12||1|
|18||Naomi||Free agent||26||Shayna Baszler||22:01||0|
|19||Beth Phoenix||NXT||28||Shayna Baszler||23:05||1|
|20||Toni Storm||NXT UK||25||Shayna Baszler||18:40||0|
|21||Kelly Kelly||Free agent||18||Charlotte Flair||02:29||0|
|22||Sarah Logan||Raw||17||Charlotte Flair||00:28||0|
|24||Xia Li||NXT||20||Shayna Baszler||10:49||0|
|25||Zelina Vega||Raw||22||Shayna Baszler||09:31||0|
|26||Shotzi Blackheart||NXT||23||Shayna Baszler||07:57||0|
|28||Tegan Nox||NXT||21||Shayna Baszler||03:50||0|
|29||Santina Marella||Free agent||19||“Herself”||01:01||1|
|30||Shayna Baszler||NXT||29||Charlotte Flair||04:27||8|
Result: Charlotte Flair won the Women’s Royal Rumble
Analysis: WWE has once again shoved Flair into the title picture much like last year’s program. Baszler’s entry scored the biggest pop of the match and pumped in some drama to what was otherwise a regular battle royal featuring returning Superstars and Hall Of Famers. Given the intensity, pacing and overall outcome, the Women’s Rumble match is lagging way behind the men’s counterpart and the creative must figure out a magic formula to make the high-profile female bout as entertaining as the male’s.
SmackDown Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Lacey Evans
WWE’s decent job at pushing both Bayley and Lacey Evans as the next top villain and hero of the SmackDown Women’s Division has fared well as the build itself turned out to be extraordinarily good, but the PPV showdown lacked the intensity the WWE Universe was expecting from both women.
Evans and Bayley showcased a splendid performance but the preceding Women’s Royal Rumble match had already eclipsed the title bout as the exhausted crowd found it difficult to buy into the fifth match of the night.
A predictable outcome, Bayley countered Evans’ top-rope springboard moonsault and rolled her up to successfully retain her title via pinfall.
Result: Bayley defeated Lacey Evans to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship
Analysis: Evans’ championship aspirations were crushed only to build her up for a seemingly bigger, meaningful title victory at WrestleMania. While Sasha Banks vs. Bayley has been rumored to be the ideal booking for the SmackDown Women’s Title at ‘Mania, the company needs a top female babyface on the blue brand and who better than The Lady to insert herself into the mix and win it all on April 5th. Coming out of this feud, it’s clear that the WWE Universe is completely ready to accept Lacey as the next babyface champion.
Strap Match for the Universal Championship: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
There’s no denying that Daniel Bryan and The Fiend have enjoyed the best build for Royal Rumble and the credit goes to WWE for allowing The American Dragon to unleash his real-self throughout the feud.
Bryan put up a decent fight but fell prey to the masked monster who showed no mercy in whipping the babyface left and right, and the former Planet’s Champion eventually gave up despite enduring every offense coming his way throughout the match.
The American Dragon made one last attempt at taking The Fiend down but the latter easily overpowered his opponent and choked him with a Mandible Claw to continue his winning streak.
Result: The Fiend defeated Daniel Bryan to retain the WWE Universal Championship
Analysis: In 2014, Bryan and Wyatt tore the house down with an extraordinary match at the same event. Their in-ring chemistry was nothing short of electrifying as both men showcased yet another historic performance (Match of the Year contender) this time around to conclude their feud ahead of the Road To WrestleMania.
Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Asuka
Kairi Sane was at ringside to encourage Asuka during her title match against Becky Lynch, and while many were under the impression that The Empress would continue her dominance over The Man and leave the building as Double Champ, the outcome was exactly the opposite.
Crowd favorite Becky took a devastating kick to the face and teased a referee stoppage. Refusing to go down, Lynch demanded the match continue and ate a few more kicks but Asuka failed to put her away.
The Empress was about to spit the green mist but The Man kicked her in the stomach and forced the nasty liquid out of her mouth. Lynch applied the Dis-arm-her to score a hard-fought victory and retain her title.
Result: Becky Lynch defeated Asuka to retain the RAW Women’s Championship
Analysis: Storytelling at its best, the match featured plenty of moments where it seemed like Lynch would lose the title making Asuka shine like a million bucks in the process. The nod from Lynch to Asuka as a sign of respect left the door open for another intensifying feud in the near future.
Men’s Royal Rumble Match
Reigning WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar, ran through half the match, even eliminating the returning MVP during his time in the ring. Edge‘s in-ring return scored the biggest pop of the night as the Rated R Superstar speared everyone in his way and made it to the final three before being eliminated by Roman Reigns who in turn was thrown out by the victorious Drew McIntyre.
|1||Brock Lesnar||Raw||14||Drew McIntyre||26:24||13|
|3||Erick Rowan||Raw||2||Brock Lesnar||00:08||0|
|4||Robert Roode||SmackDown||3||Brock Lesnar||00:41||0|
|5||John Morrison||SmackDown||4||Brock Lesnar||00:09||0|
|6||Kofi Kingston||SmackDown||7||Brock Lesnar||05:06||0|
|7||Rey Mysterio||Raw||5||Brock Lesnar||02:54||0|
|8||Big E||SmackDown||6||Brock Lesnar||00:53||0|
|10||Shelton Benjamin||Raw||9||Brock Lesnar||00:37||0|
|11||Shinsuke Nakamura||SmackDown||10||Brock Lesnar||00:20||0|
|12||MVP||Free agent||11||Brock Lesnar||00:24||0|
|13||Keith Lee||NXT||12||Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman||03:32||0|
|14||Braun Strowman||SmackDown||13||Brock Lesnar||01:50||1|
|17||The Miz||SmackDown||16||Drew McIntyre||00:30||0|
|19||Dolph Ziggler||SmackDown||22||Roman Reigns||12:20||0|
|20||Karl Anderson||Raw||21||Randy Orton||09:46||0|
|21||Edge||Free agent||28||Roman Reigns||23:43||3|
|22||King Corbin||SmackDown||19||Drew McIntyre||04:06||1|
|23||Matt Riddle||NXT||18||King Corbin||00:41||0|
|26||Roman Reigns||SmackDown||29||Drew McIntyre||16:01||2|
|27||Kevin Owens||Raw||24||Seth Rollins, Akam and Rezar||06:59||0|
|28||Aleister Black||Raw||23||Seth Rollins||05:06||0|
|29||Samoa Joe||Raw||25||Seth Rollins||04:25||0|
|30||Seth Rollins||Raw||26||Drew McIntyre||04:01||3|
Result: Drew McIntyre won the Men’s Royal Rumble
Analysis: Edge returning to action for the first time in 9 years was a truly emotional moment for the WWE Universe as was McIntyre’s sensational victory since making his way back to WWE. The Road To WrestleMania is officially underway, and McIntyre’s recent babyface turn is clear indication that he’s the next big thing in the company. Lesnar was dethroned by Seth Rollins twice last year and McIntyre could soon become the second man to slay The Beast at WrestleMania.