WWE Royal Rumble 2017 Reaction
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
While January begins with a countdown from ten to one, wrestling fans most associate the month with the same countdown towards another festivity – the Royal Rumble.
Given the “Big Four” treatment, equivalent in 2017 to a NXT TakeOver event the day before, a two-hour pre-show and a five-and-a-half-hour Pay-Per-View, it was treated as a huge deal.
It probably also helped that it emanated from San Antonio’s Alamodome, with a house count of 52,020. It was practically WrestleMania without being it.
Given the Rumble’s star power of Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, The Big Show, Goldberg and The Undertaker, there was an unpredictability headed in that severely lacked the previous few years.
The Pre-Show Breakdown
– The Six-Woman Tag between Naomi/Becky Lynch/Nikki Bella and WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss/Mickie James/Natalya was a keen combination of various rivalries that we hoped would get the “Six-Hour Spectacle” to a worthy start. We figured with the recent Bliss/Naomi vocal spar that they’d use this as a chance for Naomi to score a future Title shot against Bliss. It’d only make sense. As far as the action, it was alright, as everyone within their rivalries stuck to their rivals. There was this cool chain of suplexes that involved everyone. Naomi had a particularly good showing as she used the ropes to fly around. The finish was paint-by-numbers, but logical, as Bella speared Natalya outside the ring, which set up Bliss for Naomi’s split-legged moonsault. Nothing fancy, but it got the job done nonetheless. We should expect a Bliss-Naomi Title bout at Elimination Chamber in a measly two weeks.
– The WWE Raw Tag Team Championship match between Champions Cesaro/Sheamus and Karl Anderson/Luke Gallows was created based off the assumption that things would go out of hand. They even assigned two referees to the match. With the Champs still fresh off The New Day’s record reign dethronement, we hoped that they’d keep it going. The Club with the belts won’t be viewed any differently after all that creative damage. They were pushovers at this point. Bald ones. SheaSaro pulled off some sleek double-team maneuvers and we went through the motions, our eyes fixed to the many seats in the arena beginning to fill up. The crowd was into Sheamus’ “10 Beats Of The Baron,” for what it was worth. Anderson tried to make a pinfall using the ropes, but that was stopped by the outside official. How stupid could a person be? Didn’t they know the stipulation headed in? Sigh. Sheamus inadvertently laid out the in-ring official with the Brogue Kick, which prompted the other to take over the dubious counting duties. It was better towards the finish as Anderson grabbed Cesaro’s tights to secure the pinfall, assuredly taking advantage of there being nobody outside to see it. Perhaps a Gallows/Anderson Title run won’t be so bad after all? Whatever will give them a better push as the badass heel duo they’re meant to be. As far as the bout, nothing great besides for Cesaro’s offense, story of our lives.
– The Sasha Banks-Nia Jax match was one of the night’s better built matches. Banks had the injured babyface sympathy after Jax’s numerous attacks on her knee, which prompted this whole feud. Banks got some revenge not long after, but it was still Jax who carried the momentum. It could’ve went either way, but for us, it made more sense to have Banks go over. Jax will still be a monster. That’s not how it went down, as Jax stood over Banks into the break with a fierce clothesline. We waited for Jax to target the knee and jeopardize it with a submission hold. They gave Banks a brief comeback spot with the top rope double knee, but that only “aggravated” things to where Jax only needed a Samoan drop to finish her off, in pop-up fashion. We were surprised they gave this to Jax.
– The opening video was well-done, as one would expect. It hyped up the Rumble’s number-oriented fun and how it “produced countless legends.” Then, that damn “WE GON’ BLOW YO’ MIND!” song began to play (same as many shows headed into this one) and they used the “Remember The Rumble” tagline once more because Alamodome. They transitioned the Rumble talk into the other Championship matches.
– The WWE Raw Women’s Championship match between Bayley and Champion Charlotte already had a nice “Lifelong Fan Against Supreme Athlete” backstory and it was a cool chance to see these two work together on a big stage like this one, opening the show essentially. As far as the meat of the build, it’d go to the mic work of both involved, though the topic of streaks was also prominent. Bayley held a 2-0 record over Charlotte in singles competition (though she had a third that was eventually revolved) while the Champ was an incredible 15-o in PPV Title defenses. How they’d book this was key to the story. Bayley could win on this big stage and it’d feel right, but why not hold all that off until the biggest stage possible – WrestleMania? Charlotte could remain a strong Champ until then and fatten up that record some more. We were slightly disappointed with the in-ring action, given the occasional awkward transitions and slip-ups on Bayley’s part. Bayley did a huracanrana through the ropes to the floor, but took a crazy amount of time to actually wrap her legs around the Champ’s head. Her second rope crossbody made up a little bit for it. Charlotte’s cold heel slaps were a nice touch to a possible underdog comeback tease. That was solidified with Bayley’s Lou Thesz press and her top rope elbow drop that channeled the late “Macho Man” Randy Savage in all its “Bombs Away!” glory. Another cool highlight was where Champion and challenger literally reversed the Figure Four back and forth. The fans bought into the near-fall after Charlotte missed her moonsault. That was the first sign people began to get settled in for this and now we’d truly get a match. Charlotte upped the ante with a rough-looking Natural Selection on the apron and part of us knew it was over right there. Excellent finish, but it seemed like the bout didn’t get enough time to cross into “great” territory. What we got was just enough, but they’re capable of way more.
– The WWE Universal Championship No Disqualification match between Champion Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns with WWE United States Champion Chris Jericho suspended above the ring in a shark cage was indicative of where their feud was currently at. It had been present since November and had gone through numerous repetitive stages. The only thing that saved us from pure boredom was the strong chemistry of Jericho/Owens on the mic as a best friend duo. Add to that the recent event where Jericho defeated Reigns for his own belt and there was a little something. Jericho originally played up his fear of heights when the cage stipulation was first introduced, but they lacked further mentions in the build. As far as the result, we figured Owens would lose since it’s a “big event,” but the stipulation could also give the Champ an out since we assumed Jericho would help, even from up in the cage. The pre-bell heel double-team made sense since it was up Jeri-KO’s territory. The bout itself carried a high “hardcore” edge to it thanks to it being out of the ring and in the crowd. A big plus here was the willingness of Owens to undergo some tough bumps. Owens connected with a frog splash through a table outside before Jericho copied Paul Ellering from NXT TakeOver: Toronto and dropped brass knuckles to the Champ. The crowd loved Owens’ mocking of Reigns as anyone would. Owens took a Samoan drop through a damn chair for a two. Out of nowhere, Owens pulled out a Stone Cold Stunner, though it wasn’t as crisp as the original. Once Owens built a pyramid of chairs earlier, we assumed he’d be the one to go through it. Set that up with a Superman punch to Owens to knock him off the top rope and that’s exactly what we got. This might’ve been Owens’ best match in a long time. As if that wasn’t enough, Owens took a powerbomb through the announce table. Before Reigns could hit the spear, he was attacked by Braun Strowman and put through a table in the corner with the running powerslam. Hot damn. You mean Owens has more than Jericho as a friend? We expected Reigns to kick out at that point, but he was down for the three and Owens retained. We’ll guess they somehow transition Reigns into a program with Strowman for Fastlane?
– The Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon/Raw General Manager Mick Foley/SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon/SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan/Sami Zayn/WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose backstage segment gave us a dose of authority figures, some Steph emasculation and good old-fashioned lottery ball comedy. We learned here that Zayn was number eight and Ambrose has a thing for churros. Odd, but alright.
– The WWE Cruiserweight Championship match between Champion Rich Swann and Neville with Austin Aries on commentary was the impending blowoff between the division’s biggest counterparts. Neville was on an upward heel tear towards gold, so why not do it here? This appeared to be a “come down” match besides for Neville’s throws towards the barricades. Swann hit a superkick as Neville came down from mid-air. The spot fans responded most to was Swann’s flying springboard phoenix splash. Swann attached his mean face and struck with a third roundhouse kick for a two. A few buyable near-falls, but eventually, Neville connected with the superplex and locked in a crossface to make the Champ tap. We finally have a new king. This should obviously create a rematch scenario for Fastlane.
– The WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between Champion AJ Styles and John Cena was probably the night’s second-most anticipated bout behind the Rumble itself. After these two stole the show at SummerSlam, they appeared prime and ready to do it again. The storyline here was the cocky Champion against the comfortable-yet-hungry veteran. Styles already had a win over Cena and came a long way since his 2016 debut, showing up as a World Champion one year later. Cena was on the search to make history, with this win being his 16th Title reign to match “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Of course, they could save that for Mania, but that works here too. The match was reminiscent of their SS bout – fast-paced, competitive and fluid. They threw everything at each other, even exchanging each other’s finishers and respective submission holds. We reached near-fall nirvana around the kick-out for the first Styles Clash. Cena pulled out a sunset flip destroyer. Excuse us. Not stopping, he even hit a cutter from a fireman’s carry position. He hit the “Super Attitude Adjustment” and we were sure that was it. Only a two. Jesus. Styles fought back with another Styles Clash. Two. This place is going insane. Another AA by Cena and he rolled back into another one to finally get the pinfall. Another Match Of The Year contender right there. Never get tired of seeing these two work together. They just got it from the get-go. Everybody wins.
– The Royal Rumble match certainly had hype all night long, with video packages dedicated to useless statistics only WWE would throw at us. Interesting that they started it off with an Enzo Amore/Big Cass monologue, but it was cool to hear 50,000 echo their catchphrases. The first half was rightly built around Strowman and his utter destruction. We also liked that they tied in several contenders like Zayn and James Ellsworth for it. Ellsworth probably had the night’s most painful elimination. “The Extraordinary Gentleman” Jack Gallagher was also in the match with his umbrella, but it was largely unspectacular. That did mark the first time a Cruiserweight shared the ring with a non-Cruiserweight. Woo hoo, progress. Would he have been able to fight for other Titles? Wish they’d get rid of that silly segregation of the Cruiserweights from the rest of the shows. Strowman had staredowns with Mark Henry (who he eliminated) and even The Big Show. Tye Dillinger’s “10” entry was expected, but still went over well, albeit he was eliminated by Strowman. Kofi Kingston had another “save” this year, this time, as he was knocked off the ring post and landed on his chest, but left his feet above the floor. Probably Kingston’s least favorite. The only thing we weren’t crazy about was how everybody was being saved up for the end, as it was inevitable that many would be quickly eliminated. It took the fun out of the entry guesses, plus there were no other surprises than Dillinger. They advanced some feuds, as Luke Harper got revenge on Bray Wyatt. Epic moment where Goldberg “had Lesnar’s number” and eliminated him after another spear. They stick to their guns there. Another feud that began was apparently between The Undertaker and Reigns. We were disappointed they had Reigns come in at #30 when he fought for the World Title earlier, but it became apparent that he was there to start things with Taker (probably for Mania) and to make Randy Orton’s win feel like the greatest thing ever. They truly teased another Reigns victory, which everyone would’ve hated. They still had him look strong (hardy har har) but played the perfect role for Orton. As far as the aftermath, it creates a Cena-Orton match on the SD side and we just don’t think that can be the plans. Something will happen around Chamber time.
- Pre-Show – Six-Woman Tag – Naomi/Becky Lynch/Nikki Bella def. Alexa Bliss/Natalya/Mickie James via pinfall
- Pre-Show – WWE Raw Tag Team Championships – Two Referees Assigned – Karl Anderson/Luke Gallows def. Cesaro/Sheamus (Champions) via pinfall to become new Champions
- Pre-Show – Nia Jax def. Sasha Banks via pinfall
- WWE Raw Women’s Championship – Charlotte (Champion) def. Bayley via pinfall to retain
- WWE Universal Championship – Chris Jericho Locked In A Shark Cage Above The Ring – No Disqualification – Kevin Owens (Champion) def. Roman Reigns via pinfall to retain
- WWE Cruiserweight Championship – Neville def. Rich Swann (Champion) via submission to become new Champion
- WWE World Heavyweight Championship – John Cena def. AJ Styles (Champion) via pinfall to become new Champion
- Royal Rumble – Randy Orton eliminates Roman Reigns to win
Posted on July 16, 2017, in Uncategorized, WWE and tagged AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, Apollo Crews, Austin Aries, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Big Cass, Big E, Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Byron Saxton, Cesaro, Charlotte, Chris Jericho, Corey Graves, Daniel Bryan, David Otunga, Dean Ambrose, Enzo Amore, Goldberg, Jack Gallagher, James Ellsworth, JBL, Jerry Lawler, John Cena, Karl Anderson, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, Lana, Luke Harper, Mark Henry, Maryse, Mauro Ranallo, Michael Cole, Mick Foley, Mickie James, Naomi, Natalya, Neville, Nia Jax, Nikki Bella, Paul Heyman, Randy Orton, Rich Swann, Roman Reigns, Royal Rumble, Rusev, Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, Shane McMahon, Sheamus, Stephanie McMahon, The Big Show, The Miz, The Undertaker, Tom Phillips, Tye Dillinger, Xavier Woods. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.