WWE Royal Rumble 2017
January 29, 2017
San Antonio, Texas
Watch: WWE Network
Meet our reviewers:
- Kelly Harrass: Kelly hates when WWE shows start at 6 because he works until then on Sunday. When he isn’t writing about Tiger Mask W or reviewing shows for this site, he’s playing Dragon Quest VIII or watching Kamen Rider. Find him on Twitter @comicgeekelly.
- Robin Reid: Robin is Voices of Wrestling’s BritWres Ambassador, heading up the European side of the site. Other hobbies include being ridiculed for low star ratings by a certain Mr. Lanza, so you have been warned. Follow his grumpy musings @theRDouble
- Garrett Kidney: Garrett writes about Total Nonstop Anthem Wrestling Exhibitions Action Wrestling Dixieland Impact Owl Town right here at Voices of Wrestling. Garrett was consumed by Pokemon and Final Fantasy back at TLC, having completed them he is now patiently awaiting the release of the Nintendo Switch. ‘Cause Zelda. Follow him on Twittah @garrettkidney!
Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella, Naomi def. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Natalya
Garrett Kidney: While dumping Mickie James into a throwaway multi-woman match on her first PPV back is a bit of a waste, this was a perfectly enjoyable opening tag. Maybe a little long, a little shorter and more of a sprint may have been for the better but you can’t really complain about this kind of match on a pre show. Naomi was the clear standout. ***
WWE Raw Tag Team Championship
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson def. Cesaro & Sheamus ©
Garrett Kidney: That poor referee got absolutely murdered by a Brogue Kick. I didn’t really get into this. Anderson and Gallows are such geeks as a team and have been for their whole WWE run that I can’t take them seriously. Cesaro should be a serious contender to win the Rumble at this stage of his WWE career but he’s still stuck in midcard hell, nevermind being on the pre show. The last few minutes were fun but it never really seemed to hit another gear. **3/4
Nia Jax def. Sasha Banks
Garrett Kidney: This was basically a squash match, which is interesting considering how heavily featured Sasha has been in the division. Sasha threw out some embarrassing strikes, with some of the least convincing looking slaps you’ll ever see. Jax was her usual frustrating self – showing glimpses of the monster she could be but never seemingly consistently getting there. Total squash and considering how Sasha performed it was pretty deserved. **
WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Charlotte Flair © def. Bayley
Robin Reid: This was a rock solid opener. Bayley took a little while to work into the match, with some awkward movement on offense in the early portions, but she finished really strong. On the other side of things, Charlotte looked terrific. She’s improved so much at working on top of matches, and she held this one together in the early goings. A cool finish capped off yet another good defence for Charlotte. ***1/4
Garrett Kidney: It’s actually sort of amazing how head and shoulders above the rest of the Raw Diva’s roster Charlotte is, as a character, performer and wrestler. Especially in comparison to Banks and Bayley considering the came through developmental together. Sloppy at stages Charlotte kept this one steady and it came together in the end. WWE surely have an end game for Charlotte’s streak by now but it’s hard to see who can deliver as consistently as she does. Not nearly as good or emotionally resonant as their past clashes (hindered by Bayley descending into obnoxious WWE fan service territory) but this was a solid effort. ***1/4
WWE Universal Championship
Kevin Owens © def. Roman Reigns
Kelly Harrass: I’m not going to lie, I was slightly distracted during this match trying to eat far more boneless wings than I should. This match didn’t really go the way that I was expecting and I’m really happy that was the case. I was 100 percent certain that Roman would win and we’d get the split between Owens and Jericho. It’s always nice to be surprised by the matches. This match was easily better than the lead up to it with Owens and Reigns both working hard. Owens took a pretty scary bump through a pyramid of chairs he constructed. The inclusion of Braun was a much welcome way to keep the belt on Owens without having Jericho interfere. God forbid Owens actually look strong in a title defense. Overall it was a solid, but ultimately forgettable brawl.
Unrelated; ENZO WHAT DAT MOUTH DO? ***1/2
Robin Reid: Some caged Jericho silliness aside, this was a super fun spotty brawl here. It isn’t something that’ll stick in the mind at all a few months down the line, but they packed enough stuff in here to keep me constantly entertained throughout. Both guys worked really hard, took some nasty bumps and the crowd was into it. Very little to complain about. Oh, and BRAAUUNN! ***1/2
Garrett Kidney: This match was remarkably heated considering where these two characters are at the moment, and I enjoyed it a great deal more than I expected considering how totally over Roman Reigns I am these days. As illustrated by the Last Man Standing match at the Royal Rumble last year vs. Dean Ambrose plunder brawls are generally a strength of Owens and this was no exception. The finish, while making sense in terms of setting in motion Reigns vs. Strowman at WrestleMania, certainly did Owens no favours as he continues to struggle to be taken seriously as champion. This was lots of fun though and Owens’ bump through the chairs looked like it absolutely sucked. ***3/4
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Neville def. Rich Swann ©
Kelly Harrass: Man, this Cruiserweight division isn’t working, is it? They tried everything to get the crowd invested, but outside of a few cool high spots, this audience was dead. I was entertained well enough by these two, but this wasn’t the match that it needed to be. This division still needs to have an awesome blow away match to get people to take it seriously. Swann and Neville have the potential to do that and something just didn’t click. In their defense, these guys weren’t placed in the greatest spot on the card to succeed. Having to follow a plunder brawl and taking place in the third hour of a five hour show didn’t bode well for their chances. It was as though these guys knew that no matter what they did, they wouldn’t convince the crowd to care and because of that, they didn’t try. **½
Robin Reid: To start off I just wanted to recognise the excellence of the video package that preceded this one. Unfortunately they then proceeded to have a first half of the match that bored me to tears. Inexplicably they made the decision to have the cruiserweight title match to be worked at the slowest pace on the entire show. While things did pick up for the second half, they had already lost any chance of the crowd caring. So disappointing. **3/4
Garrett Kidney: TJ Perkins, Brian Kendrick and Rich Swann have been our Cruiserweight champions to date and it feels like WWE has pulled the plug on all three as if they’ve been failures. Perkins was just beginning to connect when his legs were cut out from under him. Kendrick was never championship material and Swann, in spite of how cool a moment his initial title win was, never really grew into the role. Maybe Neville can finally turn the tide. The pacing of all the Cruiserweight matches has been totally off since the start of the division. The matches are slow, mat based and generally meandering rather than compact and exciting – it’s been very strange. Besides a little energy injected by Swann this wasn’t particularly great either. There was just little dynamic about it. **3/4
John Cena def. AJ Styles ©
Kelly Harrass: Let’s get this out of the way; AJ wasn’t buried here. He survived some of the best that Cena had to offer and kept fighting back. He survived the Super AA and it took another AA, plus the final execution AA to put him away. No, AJ came out of this looking great, even in loss. Now with that out of the way, this was amazing. This was paced wonderfully and the crowd was electric. The match brought back the awesome PWG worker John Cena from his US Championship run. These two have amazing chemistry together and this absolutely belongs in the 2017 match of the year conversation. ****¾
Robin Reid: Well this was very very good now wasn’t it. Not that we should expect any less from these two, but up until around the last two minutes it was on course to be a true classic. The submission counters, the seamless transitions, the callbacks to previous encounters and the overall feel of importance were all just top notch. Things got a little overly move-spammy for my personal taste in the closing stretch, but the early work was more than enough for me to still consider this a great match. ****
Garrett Kidney: AJ Styles vs. John Cena from SummerSlam made my Match of the Year ballot for 2016 so to say I went in with high expectations is an understatement. And yet they exceeded them in every way. This was absolutely incredible. The atmosphere was molten. The pace off the charts. The submission exchanges were superb. These two went out there and threw pretty much every single thing they had at each other only for Cena to emerge victorious after hitting his fourth AA (and two back to back). A war of attrition, a battle of wills, a test of endurance to see who could withstand absolutely everything the other had. This was just phenomenal. AJ Styles is one of the greatest pro wrestlers of all time, delivering every single time when called upon without fail. John Cena is John Cena. The standard of excellence in WWE. Pro wrestling doesn’t get much better than this. *****
2017 Royal Rumble Match
Kelly Harrass: This review is going to be written in a stream of consciousness style as the match goes on, so here we go. Enzo’s out to intro Big Cass after having sexual relations with chicken earlier in the night. He’s obviously too spent to enter the match himself. Jericho enters second, wearing a tremendous scarf. SUDDENLY, a WWE Network error where the picture disappeared and the audio continued to play. When it returns, Kalisto enters the match and has weird new gear. To my left, my friend is going on about how Zandig is his guess to be a surprise entrant. I’m hoping he’s right.
As Mojo makes his run to the ring, the point is really driven home that the ramp is too long. Gentleman Jack is the fifth man to enter and he uses an umbrella like he’s Tommy Dreamer entering with a kendo stick. I’m reminded that the show is in Texas when Mark Henry makes his entrance and starts throwing people around. Jack is eliminated and I was really hoping that his umbrella idea was going to work.
Braun Strowman enters and tosses out three wrestlers by the time I finish typing this sentence. Mark Henry gets tossed out five second later. Sami Zayn enters next and gets to have his underdog battle against Braun. Navy Camo Big Show comes to the ring with his sweet beard to fight the giant baby man as my friends offers the wrestlers advice like “kiss his ear” and “feed him a taquito.” Braun eliminates Big Show without doing either of those things.
Tye Dillinger enters at 10, making this the best booking decision in this match. Oh goddammit, here comes James “Waste of a Spot” Ellsworth. He’s probably going to eliminate Strowman somehow, isn’t he? Ambrose is 12 and he ends up throwing Ellsworth to the wolves, resulting in him taking a sick bump when he’s eliminated. Strowman continues to dominate the match as Big Banter Baron Corbin makes his entrance. The Perfect 10 is thrown out and the crowd is very upset, but a short time later it’s a time to rejoice as Corbin clotheslines Strowman out of the ring! The monster baby is gone!
Kofi Kingston did his wacky survival spot and almost broke his sternum on the ring post. Honestly, it wasn’t worth it. The match is actually getting kind of boring right around this point. Excitement is brought back to the match when Rusev sprints to the ring with a Doctor Doom mask on. My friend has now moved on to telling the wrestlers to slather their opponents in jam as a winning strategy. Zandig covered in jam is his new pick to win the match.
We’re at the 25th entrant, Luke Harper, and I am very underwhelmed by this Rumble thus far. Business picks up when Lesnar starts murdering everyone. Tom is listing off different types of jams that Smuckers makes and Lesnar has laid waste to everyone in the ring. Enzo is announced as number 27 and I’m more interested in the list of preserves.
I wonder if Goldberg passed a concussion test? I also wonder if I can find Blueberry Lemon jam at my local grocery store. OH SHIT GOLDBERG PUNKED OUT LESNAR AGAIN! What the hell does Goldberg have on Vince? BWAHAHAHAHA! They had Undertaker appear in the ring to keep his entrance under two minutes! Undertaker eliminates Goldberg and all the huge interactions are gone. Here comes Roman at number 30 and I would have been happier with Zandig covered in jam. The crowd seems to agree with me.
Roman tosses out Undertaker and they must be trying to make people not like him, right? Oh well, at least he didn’t win. Randy Orton turns the spear into an RKO and wins the match in a pretty cool finish. The crowd goes crazy for his victory and he gets a ton of pyro when he points to the sign. I feel like it says a lot about the WWE product that the fun from the Rumble is seeing Roman get tossed out. Either way, this Rumble was really alright. I wouldn’t call it actively bad, but it wasn’t good. There were no real shocks and no moments that will stick in my mind longer than a month from now. More than anything, the jam will stick with me. **¼
Robin Reid: This was an interesting Rumble. It was really boring up until Braun entered, then things really picked up for a while. I thought Braun did a really good job in the role of being the centre of attention of the second quarter of the match. I liked the way he was eliminated too; it felt like a nice little badge for Zayn and Corbin to take away. The match kept up the momentum post Braun too for a good while, but eventually the energy faded and it felt like they were just waiting for the big stars to arrive.
The next moment of note was Harper finishing his face turn, which I thought in general was really well done although would have benefitted a lot from him managing to eliminate Wyatt; he would have really benefitted from that credibility wise. Then we went back to the holding pattern until Brock, who was awesome for all the time he was in there including his elimination.
After Goldberg eliminated his big rival though, things kinda fell apart. The Undertaker-Goldberg face-off had some juice but that ended up being poorly executed and mixed in with a bunch of eliminations that didn’t feel like they had any weight. Corbin and Zayn, fresh off eliminating Strowman, were dumped out so unceremoniously that they lost any importance that they’d gained earlier in the match, and then Goldberg’s own elimination felt super anti-climactic. Undertaker’s wasn’t much better.
The big spear-into-RKO spot was cool, but when Orton tossed Reigns out I was kind of left with a feeling of “Huh, that’s this year’s Rumble done then”. Overall I’d say I enjoyed the match, but a few little tweaks could have really improved it. A surprise entrant or two wouldn’t have gone amiss either.
Garrett Kidney: First of all, I had number 23 in my Royal Rumble pool so Randy Orton just won me €40. A very good night! This was sort of the usual middle of the road Rumble. There wasn’t a tonne happening for stretches to allow the ring to fill up so somebody like Braun or Brock to stroll out and smash everybody. There were a bunch of interesting decisions in there. Corbin eliminating Brain rather than Roman, who was the “surprise” final entrant was strange given they seemed to set up the natural turnabout earlier in the show. Goldberg continued to look extremely clumsy. Lesnar continued to look better than anybody in the company.
Lots of people came and went without much consequence. Zayn was in the match for a decent length but ultimately didn’t make much of an impression. There wasn’t much in the way of surprises. Tye Dillinger was the only person not currently on the roster that appeared (though it’s neat that they did give him the ten slot). At least Jack Gallagher’s appearance was fun.
Reigns entering last and being the late focus of the match was somewhat laughable considering Roman’s misfortunes in Rumble’s past. But I guess the focus always has to be on him. With Harper turning on Wyatt and Cena capturing the WWE title it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting the Orton/Wyatt match at WrestleMania. Looks like Wyatt/Harper and Orton/Cena are more likely right now. Considering how much of the build was centered on Goldberg, Braun, Lesnar and Undertaker before hand and the end of the match being built around Reigns – Orton winning almost seemed like an anticlimax. Especially given how diminished his role has been lately.
At the end of the day there’s pretty much no such thing as a bad Rumble. They tend to tick over enough that they remain pleasant at the very least. There were no star making moments and as pretty much advertised beforehand all the big notable exchanges went to the part timers. This wasn’t amongst the better Rumble’s nor was it one of the worst. It was entertaining while it lasted but I don’t imagine I’ll think to revisit it too much in the future. ***