WWE Royal Rumble 2016
January 24, 2016
Watch for free: WWENetwork
This one will be talked about for awhile… let’s get right to it.
Meet our Reviewers:
- Rich Kraetsch (@VoicesWrestling): One of VOW’s founders and ½ of the VOW flagship podcast.
- Alex Wendland (@AlexWendland): VOW’s resident grammar police, editor and NXT reviewer.
- John Sparkz (@JohnSparkz): Guest reviewer! John has been the engineer behind top hip-hop hits from artists such as Bad Boy-signed artist French Montana, Cam’Ron, Curren$y, Action Bronson, Retchy P, Smoke DZA and more!
Last Man Standing – WWE Intercontinental Championship
Dean Ambrose © vs. Kevin Owens
Rich Kraetsch: Given the handcuffs put on modern hardcore matches, this was about as good a Last Man Standing match as you could ask for. It was limited to only a few major spots—including a sick Owens bump through two tables—but without the ability for chair shots or blood, there’s only so much you can do. This isn’t a legendary match or better than Cactus Jack vs. Triple H from Royal Rumble 2000, but it was solid enough for an opener. ***½
Alex Wendland: For being the “lunatic fringe” of WWE, Dean Ambrose’s schtick is way too same-old-same-old. With the exception of the three table spots, this might as well have been a regular match for these two. Those three spots, however, were spectacular. This felt a lot like the tag team ladder match from last month in that it’s likely going to grow on me overnight, but it felt so formulaic. I’m not asking for blood, I’m not asking for unprotected chair shots. I just want it to feel different. Ambrose’s matches don’t feel any different right now, but those formulaic spots had an added degree of difficulty that deserves a bump. ***1/2
John Sparkz: I got caught up in over hyping this match to myself. Like Rich said without an ability for good chair shots and blood, once it was going I was just assuming it was a normal match between the two on RAW. I really like Ambrose and am a true hater of Kevin owens but I go into the match unbiased. I was actually blown away by the double spot and super pumped for the rest of the PPV after watching it. ***
WWE Tag Team Championship
The New Day (c) vs. The Usos
Rich Kraetsch: Very good match highlighted by the antics of Xavier Woods, Big E and Kofi Kingston (this shouldn’t come as a surprise). While it won’t be a match of the night contender, it featured a perfect blend of theatrics, hilarity from The New Day and high-impact spots from all involved. These teams have incredible chemistry and it’s made for a great series of matches that has elevated this division to heights not seen in quite awhile. ***
Alex Wendland: Despite the reputation, the WWE tag team division has been a lot of fun for a few months now, 100 percent led by The New Day. This match was a perfect example of why the division has been so fun. Not only did the match feel like it was a big time event, but the ending felt original and, for once in midcard WWE-land, earned. Moving forward, I would love (LOVE) to see a new team or two jump into the mix. ***1/2
John Sparkz: The tag team division is LIT these days! My only question is: Why are The Usos still fighting for the belt? The comeback of the Dudleyz seems to have lost steam, as they get bumped down to pre PPV matches. None the less the match was entertaining and it kept my eyes glued to the TV. I just would rather had ANY of the other teams going against The New Day, I feel like I’ve been watching the Usos for the last 3 years in every title match. ***½
WWE United States Champion
Alberto Del Rio © vs. Kalisto
Rich Kraetsch: In what appeared to be a Botchamania-tribute match, Kalisto won back the United States Championship giving us three US Title changes in January. What could have been a special moment and a crowning achievement felt flat and uninspired because this company doesn’t understand the importance of “the first time.” The match itself was fine but I can’t get the numerous botches out of my head. They immediately took me out of the match and Del Rio’s continued “don’t give a fuck” attitude isn’t endearing, it’s annoying and disrespectful. Kalisto worked his ass off throughout but got little back from Alberto. I love Kalisto and hope he adds stability to this title, but this was not a good start. **
Alex Wendland: A great match nearly ruined by the inane ramblings of JBL and Byron Saxton. This one isn’t even Michael Cole’s fault. In fact, those two shutting up during the second half of the match and letting Cole call the actions saved it for the television viewer. The whole week leading up to this match was a mess, but I’m not rating the whole week’s worth of matches, I’m rating tonight’s. In the ring, the only things really holding this match down was Kalisto’s sunset flip botch and the gimmicky ending. If you’re going to put Kalisto over, put him over clean. ***3/4
John Sparkz: I was super pumped when Del Rio came back. Always been a fan of his true heel personality. Kalisto is really entertaining to watch as well. The US Belt seems to be gaining more prestige, but it seems to me they are confused on how to promote these US Title Matches. I can overlook the botches in this match but the one thing that stood out to me was Del Rio seemed to be half there. Disappointed. **
WWE Divas Championship
Charlotte © vs. Becky Lynch
Rich Kraetsch: I loved this match. The emotion carrying over from a well built, logical story bled into this match and made it feel bigger than any main roster Divas match has felt in years (maybe, ever). The ring work also carried a similar emotion as you were genuinely invested in each and every move Becky did as she worked uber-babyface to Charlotte’s classic heel. As perfect a wrestling story as you could ask for unfortunately ended via nefarious means. Some may claim Becky was buried but given how close she was and how she lost, I don’t think she lost much in this. Regardless, the post match angle (Sasha Banks coming out and challenging) finished this match on a high night as main roster women’s wrestling is finally starting to show signs of life. ***1/2
Alex Wendland: There’s a lot to complain about here: Ric Flair committing sexual harassment on an international broadcast, yet another gimmicked ending on the second biggest show of the year for WWE and main roster women’s matches moving at 75 percent of the speed their NXT counterparts move at. Even with all the problems in this match, the silver lining is that the main roster women’s division is inching ever closer to the quality in NXT. Inching. Slowly. But moving. WWE could accelerate the process, of course, by removing the endless gimmickry and garbage like Ric “stealing kisses.” The match was properly good, but the pacing and flair garbage held it back. Becky Lynch lost while retaining the legitimacy of her contendership, even though she could’ve done that without having to hold a suit coat over her own head. This isn’t included in the rating, but the angle after the match in which Sasha Banks came out to challenge Charlotte, was great. **3/4
John Sparkz: The struggling Divas division (yes struggling) finally has some light shed into it. This match had a lot of good buildup behind it. It was very well done and even with Flair’s overstay at ringside it was still very tolerable to watch. Charlotte is a good champion even though since AJ Lee departed it seems the company has limited Natty to NXT and is giving these new gals a shot. I’m not mad at that. The set up for Charlotte – Sasha is going to be very good and could easily put the Divas division locked into a more talked about segment. ****
2016 Royal Rumble Match
Rich Kraetsch: All the talk will be about the finish and Triple H putting himself at the top of the company and the main event of WrestleMania but I’m not letting that cloud my thoughts on this Rumble. Sure, it’s disingenuous to ignore glaring story issues atop of the card, but this was a fantastically booked Royal Rumble. Think of how many future midcard matches, angles and new characters were developed in this hour. Sami vs. Owens, Styles vs. Neville, Owens vs. Styles, Ambrose shined. I know, I know, Triple H winning sucks and ended it on a deflating note but this was a great Royal Rumble — legitimately fun comedy, new stars getting their moment in the sun and future angles in play. The sooner you realize the WWE main event isn’t booked for you, the sooner you’ll begin enjoying the product again. ****3/4
Alex Wendland: I have no idea what to think of this Royal Rumble. The AJ Styles debut was absolutely exceptional and his exit was heartbreaking, though there was no way they were going to put the title on Styles on day one. Reigns didn’t go through the entire roster to retain the title, but he also wasn’t in the match for an hour before being tossed as part of the final three. Triple H threw a wrench into the entire Rumble match by entering himself, but WWE put a part time wrestler over the entire roster over building someone new yet again.
But at it’s guts, this was the best Royal Rumble match in ages. Highs, lows, smarky reactions and smarky reactions deftly handled (Reigns stretcher exit notwithstanding). I guess I don’t really have many complaints. ****
John Sparkz: Damn, I’m not let down but I want to say I’m let down. It started amazing AJ Styles coming out was crazy. But that was it! No crazy surprises or anything. I was hoping to see some old schoolers come back just for the entertainment. The booking was solid though i guess, I won’t be seeing RVD or Goldberg in the ring again, I’ve come to terms with that. Really good move to have Triple H come in at number 30 to win. I just hope it’s not vs Roman at WrestleMania. Compared to last year this was a grand slam! Just wished there was some cooler surprises. ****