Royal Rumble 2021
January 31, 2020
WWE ThunderDome at Tropicana Field
St. Petersburg, Florida

Watch: WWE Network

Meet Our Reviewers

Steve Case: Listen, this company sucks worse than it ever has, maybe more than any company ever given the amount of talent. Still, IT’S THE MF’N RUMBLE BABY! Get pumped! If they are to do anything interesting and noteworthy (for better or worse), it’ll start tonight. Here’s hoping for something exciting! Follow Steve on Twitter @Coachcase44

Kelly Harrass: Kelly is very tired after spending several hours shoveling today, so he’ll probably be extra grumpy in this review. He can’t resist reviewing the Rumble though. Follow Kelly on Twitter @comicgeekelly.

Garrett Kidney: As one of the final universally beloved things WWE does, Garrett is excited for the Royal Rumble. As he is currently playing Hitman 3, he is now envisaging a Hitman level based on the Royal Rumble and that’d probably be pretty cool. Follow Garrett on Twitter @garrettkidney

Griffin Peltier: Here so he won’t get fined. Let’s do a Rumble. Follow Griffin on Twitter @Hollywd12.

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler def. Asuka & Charlotte Flair © 

Steve: It’s funny that when you have three top tier wrestlers like Charlotte, Asuka, and Shayna, that they can make an absolutely horrible wrestler like Nia look competent. This was a nice little match! Charlotte looked very good and brought a lot of energy, though trying to get a bunch of pre recorded screens to clap was interesting. The finish was fine in the context of this weird Ric and Lacey love thing. How dare his real daughter get in the way of his infatuation for the Dollar General version of his daughter. Loaded women’s right lead to Nia skidding into a leg drop for a somewhat surprising win for the heels. If Charlotte hadn’t won last year, I would guess this may mean she takes the women’s rumble. Instead it’ll likely lead to her eliminating Lacey or vice versa. Nice little match. **3/4

Kelly: Ric Flair banging a girl that looks like his daughter is the most realistic thing WWE has done since Montreal. The match was fine. I haven’t seen Jax wrestle in a while, but she really seems to have lost some mobility in recent months. The other three put in just enough work to make this a passable preshow match. **¼ 

Garrett: Find somebody who loves you as much as the fake ThunderDome crowd noise loves Charlotte. Remember a year ago when Shayna was final two in the Rumble and then eliminated everybody in the Elimination Chamber by herself? That feels like a very long time ago. A perfectly solid opener until Ric Flair and Lacey Evans showed up to screw Charlotte. Honestly Charlotte deserved it for not supporting her dad’s romantic endeavors. **3/4

Griffin: The crowd is electric for every move! This was very clunky for most parts of the match – which is what usually happens when you have three good pro wrestlers in the ring with one really bad one. The team of Baszler and Jax is weird and they do not work well together. As this is the WWE, both Ric Flair and Lacey Evans distracted Charlotte, Ric gave Lacey some brass knuckles, and Lacey knocked Charlotte out so Nia Jax could get the win. A match. **

WWE Championship
Drew McIntyre © def. Goldberg

Steve: Our cat just took a ***** bump off of our cat tower when the other calico smacked him in the face. Anyway…

You can tell Drew thinks the sword stuff is stupid. I’m pretty sure the bell rang, but whatever. The match was exactly what you thought it’d be. Claymores and spears. Drew overcomes. Why do you need the “pre-match” heat though? Why can’t Drew just look dominant and strong? Instead, he’s barely beating a 50+ year old man who’s finally starting to look his age. No wonder this company has no stars. Also, for Griff below, the cat took two big bumps, so Goldberg wins in that regard! **

Kelly: There’s something I appreciate about matches like this. I can’t say that they’re good or even that I enjoy them, but it just makes sense that every now and then there should be a big match where dudes throw bombs at each other and spam finishers. This has basically become the WWE house style for their special attraction guys like Goldberg and Lesnar, but it works. I’d rather see this than have an old man bumble around for longer than he needs to. This was everything I thought it would be, I’m just happy they had Drew win. **½ 

Garrett: Spear. Claymore. Spear. Claymore. I wrote that before the match and shock of all shocks, that’s exactly how the match turned out! Well at least they *slightly* subverted formula by having Drew do the first Spear. There was something a little sad about Goldberg wearing shorts, chewing gum and stumbling while doing the Jackhammer when so much of his act has always been based on presentation and mystique but this was exactly what you thought it would be. **1/2

Griffin: Steve’s cat bumps more than Goldberg. Goldberg bump counter: 3. This was exactly what it should’ve been. It was short, McIntyre looked good kicking out of the Hall of Famer’s finishers, and he put it away with a Claymore. Despite this being short and playing to Goldberg’s strengths at this stage of his career, it was still pretty bad. *1/2

WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
Sasha Banks © def. Carmella

Steve: So who is Reginald and WWE are doing intergender matches on FOX now huh? And Carmella is doing stripper dances behind a curtain? That’s the kind of entertainment Peacock is looking for!

I know their TLC match got a lot of praise, which I didn’t see, but that was the best I’ve seen Carmela look. She hung right there with a boss (HA) in the ring like Sasha. The spot that got Reginald tossed was very creative, and that suicide dive looked great, even though Carmela ate it on her face. The finish kind of came out of nowhere, but this was solid with the right winner. ***

Kelly: Carmella is lucky that she didn’t break her face or snap in half, but it was totally worth it because that dive ruled. She and Sasha have really good chemistry which definitely saved this very messy match. Fun match! Shout out to Reggie. *** 

Garrett: Snoop Dogg should be charged for crimes against wrestling themes after now ruining two all-time great theme songs. I cannot in good faith go lower than *** for that Carmella dive alone. Perfectly fine match that you won’t remember next week but THAT DIVE! ***

Griffin: IT’S BOSS TIME! This was fine. Carmella’s pesky sommelier at ringside allowed for a few cool spots at the start of the match but it quickly descended into bad territory. Sasha Banks was good and looked great doing her moves and then they had to do the whole “manager/sommelier gets ejected from ringside” spot. Carmella did a King Cuerno esque dive and landed right on her face. Sasha’s reversal into the Bank Statement to end the match was pretty cool. Sommelier. **½

Royal Rumble Match
Bianca Belair Wins the Women’s Royal Rumble 

Steve: Stream of consciousness in 3…2….Bringing in King to announce the women’s rumble is certainly a choice. Naomi should get royalties from Netflix for her gear. Imagine not pushing Bianca to the moon immediately. These three would have a kickass triple threat match if this is any indication. There was no doubt THE TANK wasn’t going to be in this match. The amount of female talent on this roster is INSANE. And then Jillian Hall comes in. WOOF. Having Hall and Kay work together was pretty good though. Keep them away from the action. Victoria ruled back in the day. Shotzi being the only elimination so far seems weird. Santana Garrett? She’s still around? Young me would have loved this. I used to love when the ring would fill up. Old me thinks we need some eliminations. It’s getting crowded. Ask and you shall receive as the comedy acts get dumped. Rhea looks like she wants that 2019 Survivor Series momentum back. King being mad at Charlotte for interfering in his romantic escapades is high comedy. Torrie Wilson looks better in the ring than she did in 2003. Gnarly elimination for Dana yeesh. I would have rather had Ric Flair enter. Mickie James still looks like she could go better than half the roster, and this is a great women’s roster! GET THIS 24/7 TRASH OUT OF WRESTLING MY GOD. Rhea is trying to kill these ladies with her eliminations. Naomi getting the Kofi spot along with Bianca. That was actually kind of creative. Let’s get these last four in, this is starting to drag. Everyone attacking Bliss and Rhea dumping her ruled. Nia and Tamina in this ahead of anyone is bad. Two of the worst major league wrestlers, possibly ever. Nattie is in the match for 2 minutes and makes the final four. This is a GREAT final three. Bianca and Rhea taking out Flair was a great choice. Outside of the standard rumble spot spam and the “crowd noise,” Rhea and Bianca had a tremendous closing stretch. Rhea looked like a beast throughout and Bianca got the emotional win. Great rumble. ****

Kelly: Alright stream of consciousness Rumble review number one. Here we go. Aunt Pam is kicking off the match and she wants to fight Michael Cole? Sure, let’s do it. I hope Bianca Belair has a run like she did last year. I really enjoy when wrestlers are specifically good at the Rumble. They might not win, but they know how to survive through a good chunk of the match and rack up the eliminations. Billie Kay being the comedy person trying to get everyone on her side without entering the match is probably the best use of her. That sounds more harsh than I mean it to, I just think she’s funny. Jillian Hall is the first surprise and I really wonder how many current WWE fans know who she is. What the hell was that camera shot they used for Victoria’s entrance? It made her look like she was in one of the video games. The ring is really starting to fill up as Santana Garrett hits the ring and I have to assume that Nia Jax will be coming soon to clear things out. Oof Victoria took a nasty looking bump on her way out of the ring. Rhea Ripley entered and the ring is starting to empty, but no one has really stood out as dominant yet. All these years later and Torrie Wilson is just as good a worker as she ever was. Ripley gets her third elimination from Dana Brooke taking a sick powerbomb on the edge of the ring. That’s the best elimination thus far. Of course Jerry Lawler is defending Flair banging his not daughter. How fitting. R Truth and Alicia Fox fight off the 24/7 parade of geeks, leading to Fox winning the title. Truth almost immediately wins it back and the geek parade continues. Sorry Tozawa. Hell yeah here comes Reggie. Carmella too I guess. Ripley gets two more eliminations, bringing her to five. Reggie got super kicked by Tamina leading to the elimination of Carmella. Goodbye again Reggie. HERE WE GO IT’S LANA AND HER AWARD WINNING ENTRANCE MUSIC. They cut it off early and it made me sad. What a disappointment. Oh no, lady Fiend is here. Thank god for Rhea saving us from her going full lady Fiend. Tamina being eliminated reminded me of the time that she almost fought a dude at a bar on Total Divas. Lana gets her big revenge over Nia Jax and eliminates her. Probably the best booked moment of the match. Nattie double crosses Lana and that really fits with any story those two have had together on Total Divas. They’re both just the worst. We’re at the final three and it’s Ripley, Charlotte, and Belair. Based on who was in this match, these are the exact three that should be in this spot. Ripley and Belair eliminate Charlotte together because god forbid Charlotte look weak in any way instead of having Rhea finally get her heat back from last Mania. The closing stretch between Ripley and Belair felt frantic in the best way. I was ready to bury WWE for Belair feeling like a nonfactor for most of this match, but I’m happy to see her win, building off her dominance from last year. While the right person won and I really enjoyed the closing minutes, I don’t think this was a very good Rumble overall. For a good percentage of the match there wasn’t a through line or a central story. You can point to Belair surviving as long as she did, but with how the match was laid out, she spent far too much time laying in the corner. There were several times I thought she was already eliminated. We’ll see how the men’s Rumble turns out later tonight, but perhaps this was the result of the first year of plotting out the Rumble without Pat Patterson’s input. Ultimately, this was a fun, but flawed match. *** 

Garrett: I got Bianca Belair in the VOW Pool so I am VERY pleased. That clearly makes this a great Rumble. Seriously though, it was pretty uneven. The surprises were fun and it was really cool to see Victoria (even if the announcers really undersold her first appearance in 12 years). The first half in particular was really well paced and flew by. The back half slowed a little as it all built to a pretty clumsy Nia and Shayna sequence but it came back together again with a strong final three and a stronger again final two. Rhea and Bianca being there at the end should be a sign of a real attempt at elevating them to freshen up the main roster women’s division. Also Torrie Wilson is an ageless wonder. ***1/4

Griffin: I choose the last spot on these reviews on purpose. Read above for the Rumble recap. The match at times was very slow and sluggish. The surprise entrants were fun and the closing stretch of the match of the final three was pretty good. Bianca Belair had a good performance and really shone in the match. It wasn’t the greatest Rumble match ever but it wasn’t bad at all. ***1/2

WWE Universal Championship, Last Man Standing Match
Roman Reigns © def. Kevin Owens

Steve: This started out like they were going to do a sprint, which would have ruled. Then the counting started, and continued, the whole match. They climbed the Thunderdome, brawled, and Roman threw Owens off the Thunderdome through a stack of tables. Owens walking toward a warm up ring in the back and out of nowhere getting ran over by a golf cart woke me up a bit. They used every single trope in the WWE hand book. “There’s no way I can go home….if I quit!” My god gag me. The handcuff finish, as dumb as that is, would have been a nice finish here. But no! Got to get that ref bump in for the bingo players.  REIGNS WAS STUCK AND COULDN’T GET UP HAHAHA! Wow. After all that, a choke wins this. I just….wow. *1/2

Kelly: What an absolute disaster that finish was! No matter how good the first 90% of this match was, all anybody will remember was the incredibly botched finish. The referee is at most to blame here to me. Sure the handcuffs were giving Heyman and Roman trouble, but the referee didn’t bother to try to cover for it. He just stopped counting, which was so much more noticeable than if he started counting more slowly. And it sucks man, I really enjoyed this match prior to the finish, but it was so terribly botched, that it can’t be ignored. Both guys put in a strong effort and I truly feel bad for both of them. What a bummer. **½ 

Garrett: OWENS WAS ROBBED! I actually really enjoyed the first half of this match. It will never be mistaken for the meaningful conclusions to blood feuds of the past but it was big, dumb goofy plunder and it was a tonne of fun. They just climbed and fell off stuff for fifteen minutes! Then the handcuffs came out. Seeing the second referee get to the count of 5 and then simply STOPPING because Heyman couldn’t get the handcuffs off was hilarious. One of the most comically botched finishes in quite some time made all the worse because Roman just slapped on an anti-climatic choke immediately after for the win. All the air had come out of the match by that point. The jumping and falling off things was fun though! What an utter mess of a finish. **1/2

Griffin: I really enjoyed how quickly this started, no plodding like most Last Man Standing matches. They immediately fought among all the THUNDERDOMERS in the stadium. They kept climbing higher and higher like it was the Aggro Crag. Owens was thrown off the third level of the THUNDERDOME and somehow managed to drag himself back up! Oh my! Roman Reigns ran Owens over with a golf cart but Owens made it back to his feet! Oh my! Perfectly legal! This was a complete parody of WWE gimmick matches and it worked! It was a bunch of spots one after another throughout Tropicana Field and the THUNDERDOME. Props to the referee for the greatest ref bump of January – and then a new ref came out, started counting, and STOPPED COUNTING when Paul Heyman couldn’t unlock Roman Reigns from the handcuffs. When he finally was unlocked, Roman locked in a Front Facelock for the win. Simply incredible. LOL

Royal Rumble Match
Edge wins the Men’s Royal Rumble

Steve: Stream of consciousness in 3….2…..THE GREATEST OPENING TO A ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH EVER. Ali needs to get away from this place. Hell, I could say that about a ton of these dudes. Dudes from the late 90’s shouldn’t still be in prominent positions. This match feels like visiting your old relatives at a retirement home. Speaking of, here’s Nakamura! CARLITO?! And he’s jacked woah! Strap him up! If they cut to Orton two more times, I’ll believe he’s actually hurt. At this point in the women’s rumble (#12), I marveled at the amount of high level talent. At this point in this rumble , I’m shaking my head in frustration and regret. Damian Priest enters at 14 and this is the first time I’ve been excited to see someone. Miz vs. Bad Bunny at Wrestlemania. BOOK IT. Miz’s wedding party mixing it up in the ring. Bad Bunny just slipped off the top rope to the outside and will be on mainstream news I guess? Oh Matt Riddle….sigh. This match is just a bunch of old dudes and wasted talent. Case in point, Kane just eliminated Ricochet. Kane’s been hitting the luncheons HARD. Team Hell No reunion was at least fun. Good for Damian Priest getting a good little run. Otis suplexing the souls out of dudes was a great little ten seconds. Is Lashley getting a mega push? That was the best he’s looked since TNA. Christian is a cool surprise entrant. Edge and Christian working together in the rumble in 2021 just a everyone predicted. Rey Mysterio is sponsored by beer now? Wow Big E jobbed out by that lug. That suuuuuucks. I remember Sheamus being just okay when I was in high school. I’m 33 now. This Omos dude eliminating people from the outside is dumb. Where’s Jack Tunney or Gorilla Monsoon when you need them? I had no idea who’s music that was until they showed Seth’s face on the tron. Braun being number 30 is lame. WWE piping in “This is Awesome!” chants is also very lame. Not one person left in this rumble excites me at all as a winner, which is what I expected might happen. Wait?! You mean Orton wasn’t hurt after all?! Edge still outsmarting Orton was a nice twist. That said, you just had a 47 year old win the Royal Rumble. That’s this company for you. Pretty paint by numbers rumble. Hard to get excited by this. Can’t wait for this to end up being Edge vs Orton somehow at Wrestlemania. **1/4

Kelly: Let’s do it again! Edge and Orton start off hot, brawling on the entrance ramp. They’re spending quite a bit of time outside the ring and I hope that doesn’t become a harbinger of things to come. The heels control the ring in the early going of the match, actually giving this match some semblance of a story. Five people in and Orton and Edge find themselves outside the ring again. Nakamura looks like he feels like trying tonight. Carlito is the first surprise of the match. Thankfully he doesn’t end up spitting the apple chunks. That seems like a COVID nightmare. Randy Orton has walked to the back with an injured leg, so we know he’ll be back. The tide has turned so the heels don’t have full control of the ring anymore. Ever since Orton left and Edge has spent most of his time in a corner, Big E has been the clear star of this match. Elias comes out at 13 and I’m surprised that we didn’t get a song. Carlito gets dumped out. Outside of “oh hey, Carlito” he really didn’t do anything. Damian Priest makes his Rumble debut and comes off well. His size and look are perfect for a match like this. He instantly stands out. Bad Bunny did a dive onto Miz and Morrison and I’m in absolute shock that Miz managed to catch him. I wonder if he knows how lucky he is that he didn’t splat on the ground. Daniel Bryan’s out at 17 and he’s my pick to win. Of course, you can’t have a Rumble without the Big Red Mayor. Ricochet and Ziggler both get eliminated by the Mayor and that tells you everything you need to know about their place in the company. Priest eliminated the Mayor, but the dead weight is instantly replaced with Corbin. Otis dumped a bunch of dudes on their heads and made me realize that if he just wrestled like Taz, I think I’d love him. It didn’t last long though. He did the worm and got tossed. Bobby Lashley yeeted Dominik Mysterio out of the ring like it was nothing and that was the funniest thing in this match. OH HELL YEAH CHRISTIAN RETURNS!!!! This is a surprise that I can get behind. Give Edge and Christian the tag belts. I’m all in on a Christian return. Rey Mysterio having his own personal beer sponsorship snapped me out of my dreams of a Christian return run. AJ’s giant man ripped Big E out of the ring. That man is too tall. People just shouldn’t be that big. Christian and Sheamus square off and I feel like I’m watching ECW in 2009 again. Seth Rollins makes his big return at 29 and has a solid strike exchange with Cesaro. Braun is our number 30 and I’m so happy that he’s not the Fiend. Bryan and Riddle had an awesome exchange of holds, which seemed incredibly out of place here, but I loved it. They were both eliminated by Rollins shortly after. The closing stretch of this match was incredibly fast with Braun, Christian, and Rollins getting thrown out. Orton made his return and in a shocking turn of events, Edge actually managed to throw him out on his own. The victory wasn’t even tainted by Fiend stuff. Much like the previous match, this match didn’t really pick up until the finish. It was a fine Rumble, but there was a lot of the match that felt aimless. I’ll agree with what I said earlier, the loss of Pat Patterson was definitely felt in the pacing and plotting of tonight’s Rumble matches. The opening and closing of this match was solid, but there wasn’t much connective tissue there to string it all together. No one comes out of this feeling bigger than they did going in. A week from now the only thing I’ll remember is getting to see Edge and Christian together again. Hopefully this won’t become the norm for the Rumble matches and someone in the company will step up to become the new guy they turn to when they need to plot out these matches. This wasn’t a bad match. I’m not leaving this show feeling angry or exhausted from watching it, which is a nice change of pace. This is what WWE is now. At best, it’s an inoffensive show to pop on in the background while to scroll through your phone. *** 

Garrett: Let’s start with the good – Christian and Carlito were cool surprises. And then…there was the rest of the match! Most of it wasn’t actively bad, it was all just there. A whole lot of nothing with little in the way of memorable moments, notable performances or star making efforts. It was all just there. Just a lot of guys aimlessly brawling in corners. Edge winning is what it is. They could have set up any match they wanted with Edge quite easily and given the Rumble win to somebody that needs it, but WWE isn’t really in the business of making new stars. Promising newcomer Damian Priest just made his main roster debut at the spry age of 38. That’s what WWE is now – a bloated roster of guys in their 30s never allowed to reach their potential because of an infatuation with wrestlers from bygone eras. The Rumbles as pizza theory probably holds true but I’ve watched over ten old Rumbles this week and this would easily rank among the least interesting. **1/2

Griffin: The Road to WrestleMania starts now with my fellow Canadian Edge winning it all and guaranteeing himself a spot in the WrestleMania main event! The storyline of Randy Orton being taken out only to reappear later perfectly fine did nothing for me. The main highlight of this match was seeing Edge & Christian reunited! That was a big and fun surprise! This wasn’t a great Rumble match but it had some fun moments with the returns. The ending was booked as well as it could’ve been, with the last six all being guys who had a realistic shot of winning. Nevertheless, I am happy with the result and this may make me tune into Raw. ***1/4