The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2020 – 01.26.20
RIP Kobe Bryant.
Live from Whitney Houston
Your hosts are Michael Cole & Corey Graves & Vic Joseph & Jerry Lawler
Falls Count Anywhere: Roman Reigns v. King Corbin
Nothing like Baron Corbin to kick off a PPV! Reigns quickly throws him into the stairs as Cole notes that this feud has “been going on for months and months and months”. It sure feels that way. Maybe add another couple of “and months” on there for good measure. They fight on the floor again and do some walking and punching before heading back in the ring, where Reigns gets the Moment of Silence slam for two. This sets up the superman punch, but Corbin reverses into the Deep Six Piece McNuggets for two. Cole notes that Corbin is “King of the entire WWE kingdom”, but I’m immediately confused because I thought it was a universe? Time and space are BREAKING DOWN in the face of this dull feud. They fight on the floor again and Corbin preps a table, but they head into the crowd and continue their walking tour of the stadium. So they walk to one side and then walk to another part before walking back to ringside again, where Corbin drops him on a table for two. The crowd is busy paying attention to something else entirely, meanwhile. Reigns tries a superman punch, but Corbin catches him and chokeslams him through another table for two. Really? It’s only the opening match and already they’re desperately smashing tables and doing all this smoke and mirrors shit? So we head back to the crowd and it’s WALK WALK TIL YOU DROP, WALK WALK NEVER STOP. This is making Shane v. Miz look action-packed. Luckily Reigns finds a random table by the international announcers and puts Corbin through it, because that’s their one play so far and they keep going back to it. Corbin fights up, so Roman puts him through ANOTHER table for two. Corbin runs Reigns right into NEIL’S WORKBOX and they “fight” to the technical area, by which I mean walk there. And then of course Roo-Dolph run over and start beating on Reigns until the Usos make the save. So they have a brawl and that eats up some more time while you can hear the producers loudly yelling all the spots (“He’s up there, get ready for him!”). Jimmy dives onto the heels as promised, and then Roman goes walking with Corbin again. This time, they head to the port-a-potty section and Roman throws him in there and dumps it over, which draws a “Holy shit” chant. Well played, Houston. So then they go walking again, wandering around in circles and going nowhere, just like this match. They head to the top of the dugout and Corbin slowly beats on him with a chair, but Roman comes back with the superman punch and spears him for the pin at 21:15. They literally did nothing here. *1/2
Meanwhile, KO and Joe agree that it’s every man for himself tonight.
Meanwhile, Sonya Daville promises to throw herself out of the ring if it comes down to herself and Mandy at the end. Hmm, maybe they ARE going through with that storyline after all.
We’ve got Alexa Bliss at #1 and Bianca Belair is #2. Bianca beats on her in the corner and they fight to the top, but Alexa fights back until Belair catches her on a headscissors attempt and hits a backbreaker and standing moonsault. Molly Holly is #3 at 1:40 for another nostalgia run, doing the Mighty Molly gimmick this time. She tries to get Bliss out and hits them both with a clothesline, then goes up with a double crossbody as she’s still looking good as ever. Nikki Cross is #4 at 3:00 and she saves Alexa and cleans house while Alexa directs traffic. They stop for the Best Friends hug in a cute moment, but Belair hits Cross with a KOD onto Alexa and everyone is out. Lana is #5 at 5:00 in some spectacular Captain Marvel gear as she cuts her usual promo on the way to the ring and then cleans house on everyone and tries to get Molly out with no luck. Mercedes Martinez is #6 at 6:30 and no one knows who she is. So she cleans house and we desperately need an elimination soon here. She suplexes Lana onto the apron but can’t get her out. Liv Morgan is #7 at 8:20 and she puts Lana out at 8:35 for the first elimination of the match. And then she climbs to the top like a moron and Lana pulls her out at 9:15. NEVER GO TO THE TOP ROPE IN A ROYAL RUMBLE. It’s, like the first rule! Mandy Rose is #8 at 10:00, which I guess proves that her and Liv are different people. Mandy’s got a lot of butt cheek going tonight. You gotta give her that. Nikki gets all fired up and they slug it out.
Candice LeRae is #9 at 11:30 and she comes in with a missile dropkick on Martinez and moonsaults Cross as Belair tosses Molly at 12:20. Bliss backdrops Mandy out, but she lands on Otis, who has appeared from under the ring to save her, and she heads back in. That was well done. Sonya Deville is #10 at 13:30 and she runs wild and slugs it out with Mercedes, but the crowd is more into Otis. F&D double-team Martinez and toss her at 15:29. Kairi Sane is #11 at 15:30 and she brings an umbrella for some hypnotism and also runs wild for a bit. Mia Yim is #12 at 17:14 for more filler and she runs wild for a bit. The problem is that everyone outside of Charlotte and Shayna is basically at the same level of star power so it makes it hard to build to anything from a drama standpoint. Nikki gets put on the apron and Belair uses Alexa as a battering ram to put her out at 18:30, but Alexa hangs onto Bianca’s hair and stays in. Sonya accidentally puts Mandy out at 19:00, and then Belair tosses Sonya at 19:10, as even Otis couldn’t save them both. Dana Brooke is #13 at 19:30 and say it with me, she runs wild for a bit. It’s all just the same stuff going on over and over. Belair press slams Candice out at 20:47 to continue her big night. And then Sane goes to the top rope and Bliss slugs her down and out like a geek at 21:30. WHAT DID I JUST SAY ABOUT THE TOP ROPE? Tamina is #14 at 21:40 as the intervals are getting longer, and guess what she does? Runs wild for a bit. She has a slugfest with Belair but gets thrown out at 22:40. Tamina looked awful there, she’s gotta be nearing the end. Dakota Kai is #15 at 23:10 and Bliss throws out Mia Yim at 23:55. Thankfully we’re down to four again to thin it out a bit. Chelsea Green is #16 at 24:30 and she dumps out Kai at 24:50 but gets thrown out by Bliss at 25:00. Quite the main roster debut for her! Dana Brooke attacks Bliss, but Belair spears her out at 25:27 and we’re down to 1 and 2 again. Bliss goes up with Twisted Bliss, but Belair gets the knees up and they fight to the apron and slug it out there. Bliss holds onto the hair, but hits the post and she’s out at 26:40 to leave Bianca alone again.
Charlotte is #17 at 27:00 and she literally takes a full minute to make her entrance before running wild on Belair with chops. Bianca runs her into the corner and they’re both out. Naomi is #18 at 29:00 and she runs wild for a bit before her and Charlotte decide to go after Belair. Beth Phoenix is #19 at 30:10 and she goes after Charlotte and runs wild for a bit before they pair off and lay in the corners. Toni Storm is #20 at 32:20 and she runs wild for a bit. And then Belair goes to the top and Charlotte kicks her down and out at 33:30. Well unless they’ve got something big planned, Charlotte’s winning this one running away. Kelly Kelly is #21 at 34:00 and she does the spinning headscissors on Storm before Charlotte clobbers her. Beth throws Charlotte out, but can’t get her to the floor. Sarah Logan is #22 at 35:57, apparently still alive. Has she even been on TV this year? Charlotte boots her out like a Bushwacker at 36:34, however, and then puts Kelly out at 36:56. Natalya is #23 at 37:24 and she runs wild for a bit and teams up with Phoenix for a double powerbomb on Charlotte. Xia Li is #24 at 38:57 for more deadwood. And guess what she does? Runs wild for a bit. We’ve just got nothing for star power in this match. Zelina Vega is #25 at 40:45 for more nothing as the bodies are piling up again. So yeah, she runs wild for a bit. Beth and Nattie still can’t get Charlotte out, and Naomi saves for some reason. Shotzi Blackheart is #26 at 42:38 for more people no one knows or cares about. Naomi gets knocked to the apron but she does the Kofi spot again this year by clinging to the barricade, which is really kind of ridiculously pedantic. Carmella is #27 at 44:10 while Naomi hangs out on the announce table. Carmella gets her shit in while Nattie and Beth toss Charlotte through the ropes and out. Tegan Nox is #28 at 46:10. Come on, really? Do we not have ANYONE else this high in the draw? So she runs wild for a bit and there’s a million people in the ring doing nothing, but Phoenix hits Nox with a Glam Slam. Santina Marella returns to WWE at #29 at 47:30 for the comedy spot, but Beth doesn’t want a reunion. She teases the Cobra and then self-eliminates at 48:55. What a waste. Finally, Shayna Baszler is #30 at 49:30 and there’s your winner, hopefully. Xia Li is out at 50:00. Tegan Nox is out at 50:10. Vega gets choked out to the floor at 50:25. Blackheart is gone at 50:40. Finally Naomi makes it back into the ring while Shayna tosses Mella at 51:00. Toni gets tossed at 51:20. Naomi thrown back out at 51:30. Beth and Nattie are left in the ring and double-team her with a Hart Attack, but Beth turns on Nattie and tosses her at 52:20. I guess that red streak of blood in her hair made her into a killer again. Shayna powers Beth out as Charlotte tries the Flair 92 tribute win, but they both hang on. Shayna throws Beth out on a second try at 54:00 and then goes after Charlotte, but Charlotte takes her out with the headscissors at 54:20 to win. Just accept it. Because GOD FORBID we have a Wrestlemania without Charlotte in the title match. And we get the first POINT TO SIGN of the season for good measure. Now we just need Roman winning the other one.
Better than last year in some ways, but too many geeks and pile-ups with a few memorable spots isn’t exactly top tier stuff. Just a solid mid-tier Rumble. *** The first half was great, but In particular the repetitive “This person does their shit and then lays around” pattern sunk the second half of the match, with people like Toni Storm completely vanishing for minutes at a time. So we pretty much end up in the middle.
Smackdown Women’s title: Bayley v. Lacey Evans
Lacey gets dumped to the apron but sweeps the leg and drops an elbow to come back in. Bayley pretends to injure her knee and the ref stops the match and holds Lacey back, so of course Bayley blindsides her and goes up with her own flying elbow for two. Bayley with a chinlock for a few minutes as this just dies off, but Lacey takes her to the apron and gets a rollup for two. Bayley goes up but misses a crossbody and Evans is BUILDING MOMENTUM and CREATING SEPARATION. Bayley tries to toss her, but Lacey comes back in with a punch or something. They fight to the floor and Bayley heads back in, but is unable to get the suplex. Lacey with a neckbreaker and standing moonsault, but she goes up and misses a second moonsault, allowing Bayley to hook the tights and get the pin to retain at 9:17. Can we PLEASE move on to something else for them now? Dead match, dead crowd. Just felt like something to kill time on a normal Smackdown. *
Strap Match, Universal title: Bray Wyatt v. Daniel Bryan
Thank god, no red lights for this. Although they are using that stupid fucking Fiend belt as an actual title belt. I thought that was just a novelty belt for collectors. Fiend beats on Bryan with the strap to start, but Daniel tosses him and follows with a dive, which Fiend catches. More beatings with the strap as Bryan is whipped like the proverbial canine. Bray hangs Bryan in the tree of woe and delivers more shots with the strap to set up the uranage. Bryan escapes Sister Abigail and hits the running knee for two. So, uh, I guess this isn’t the “touch all four” rules, then. Bryan tosses him and follows with a dive, but Bray sends him into the stairs. Bryan comes back with a knee off the apron, but Fiend clotheslines him and they fight onto the table. Funny how they get rid of the stupid red light gimmick and now suddenly Bray’s been completely exposed as the same old Bray Wyatt again having the same boring matches he had before. Bryan fights back with the strap and they head back in as Bryan makes the comeback with the Yes kicks. Bray no-sells those and makes the comeback, but Bryan straps him down before walking into Sister Abigail, for two. Daniel goes up and Fiend tries to bring him down with the claw, but Bryan counters with an armbar attempt and then turns it into the Yes Lock, complete with strap assist. Fiend punches out of that and goes back to the strapping, but Bryan rolls him up for two and hits another Yes Knee for two. Fiend of course pops up from that like a horror movie villain and then no-sells Bryan’s straps, then finishes with the Mandible Claw at 17:32. Well that finish killed the crowd. I’m officially over this Fiend deal now, but Bryan as usual is a hell of a worker who got a good match out of him. ***1/2 Perhaps once Fiend loses the title to Roman they need to put the gimmick on the backburner as a main event guy for a while, because he’s not suited for these long matches. Not really sure why this was even a strap match, since it was just a normal match where they used the strap a few times.
RAW Women’s title: Becky Lynch v. Asuka
Asuka gets a rollup for two, but Becky fights back with clotheslines and tosses her. Asuka gets a kick to the arm from the floor and they head back in, where Becky goes for the armbar on the ropes and then follows with a missile dropkick for two. Asuka necksnaps her on the ropes to take over, but Becky fires back with forearms until Asuka gets a dropkick for two. Asuka with a shining wizard for two. Becky comes back with a bulldog out of the corner and a dropkick gets two. They fight on the apron again and Becky tries the exploder out there but then gets a suplex off the apron instead. Back in, Becky with the top rope legdrop for two. Asuka fights back with strikes and gets a fisherman’s spinebuster thing for two. That looked awkward. Back to the apron and Asuka hip-checks her into the post, but Becky shrugs it off and they head to the top, where Becky gets a sort-of Rock Bottom for two. For all the buildup that got, it felt like it was supposed to be something bigger, like a Spanish Fly or Flatliner or something. Instead they set up and set up and then Becky just kind of fell down on her. Asuka catches her with the armbar and apparently Becky hurt her arm earlier according to the announcers, although there’s been no signs of it. Becky gets the ropes to escape that, so Asuka puts her down with kicks and the ref calls her off and checks on Lynch. What is WITH that stupid spot tonight? The point of the match is to inflict damage and win, fuck off with that shit. Finally after the ref lets the match continue, Asuka kicks her down again for two. Basically Asuka had her whole offensive run broken up and punished for being too effective. Becky fights for her own armbar and gets an inverted DDT instead for two. Becky boots Asuka and forces her to spit out the green mist, and the Disarmer finishes at 16:24. This was a huge disappointment and kind of sucked after all the buildup, as they just had a match with a phantom arm injury storyline. **
BREAKING NEWS: Rusev and Lashley are both out of the Rumble. If they weren’t in it, would anyone have noticed or cared?
Brock Lesnar is #1 and Elias is #2. As usual Elias takes forever to get into the ring and start the damn match. So of course Brock finally has had enough and chases Elias into the ring so he can destroy him. Brock stiffs the poor bastard with the guitar and Elias is of course out at 1:03. Erick Rowan is #3 at 1:40 and he’s Warlord-ed out at 2:18, barely even making it into the ring. Robert Roode is #4 at 3:11. Brock kills him in short order, F5, good night at 4:28. John Morrison is #5 at 5:10 and he parkours out at 5:44. I should note that Corey says that the champion has never voluntarily entered the match before, but this is of course is completely untrue because Randy Savage did it in 1989 and Hulk Hogan did it in 1990. But those pre-date the title match stip so we can discount them. Kofi Kingston is #6 at 6:50 and finally someone gets some offense on Brock, albeit not much and not for long. But hey, at least there’s more than one person in the ring now. Rey Mysterio is #7 at 8:20, and Brock whips the tiny people into each other and beats them down. I should note that they finally ask at this point what Brock actually gets out of winning the match, since he’s already the champion. Big E is #8 at 10:30 and he rallies the troops as everyone attacks Brock and Big E hits the Big Ending, Rey gets the 619…and then Brock throws out everyone one after another at 11:50 and finishes by F5’ing Kofi out at 12:20. Well no revenge for Kofi tonight. Cesaro is #9 at 12:40 and he throws forearms but he’s out at 13:05. Shelton Benjamin is #10 at 14:20, as Heyman offers him a hug on the way in and Brock gives him a hug and seemingly accepts him as an ally and then of course throws him out at 15:20.
I will say, this has been different. If nothing else, there’s that.
Shinsuke Nakamura is #11 at 15:59 and he gives it a go and manages to kick Brock down, but he’s out at 16:48. MVP is #12, as rumored by people who live in Houston, and who the hell even knows who he is anymore? Brock grooves to his music and then sends him back into retirement at 19:10. Keith Lee is #13 at 19:32 and this should hopefully end this run because the joke has gone on WAY too long. Brock does not bask in his glory and gets overpowered by Lee, who hits Brock with a corner splash and slugs away. They clothesline each other and Braun Strowman is #14 at 21:39. Braun runs wild and knocks Lee to the floor, then does the ring tour gimmick and goes after Brock in the ring. Brock is woken up now, though, and suplexes everyone. Braun and Keith slug it out and Brock dumps them both out at 23:48. Jesus. Ricochet is #15 at 24:10 and he does an ill-advised springboard into the ring and gets wrecked. Drew McIntyre is #16 at 25:33 and Brock decides to take the gloves off, but Ricochet kicks him in the nuts and Drew finally boots Brock out at 26:40 to end the Brock Show get the match going for real. Drew continues on, and throws out Ricochet at 27:41. The Miz is #17 at 28:07 and Drew hits him with a DDT on the way into the ring, but keeps watching Brock on the floor. Drew with the kick on Miz and he throws him out at 29:02. So Brock hangs out in the front row watching and AJ Styles is #18 at 30:10. AJ throws kicks at the legs and takes Drew down with the calf crusher, but that goes nowhere. Dolph Ziggler is #19 at 31:49 and the heels team up on Drew, who manages to fight them off. Karl Anderson is #20 at 33:19 and he saves AJ, as Dolph superkicks Drew, but then the OC turns on Dolph.
HOLY SHIT IT’S EDGE is #21 at 35:00, and HOLY FUCK THE RUMORS ARE TRUE. Shut it down, they’re not topping that one. Edge spears everyone and King Corbin is #22 at 37:22 and he attacks Edge, who escapes and manages to throw out AJ at 38:44. Well there’s a Wrestlemania match if he’s back. Matt Riddle is #23 at 39:08 and we’re starting to fall into the “get your shit in” trap again as he runs wild for a bit but then gets tossed out by Corbin at 40:23. Luke Gallows is #24 at 40:50 as the ring fills up again, but Drew throws out Corbin like day old donuts at 41:52. Well, someone had to go and it might as well have been him. Randy Orton is #25 at 42:34 and it’s RKO for everyone. Rated RKO reunion leads to Anderson & Gallows getting thrown out at 43:00. Roman Reigns is #26 at 44:00 and Dolph is out at 44:25. Kevin Owens is #27 at 45:00 and we must be running short on time. So he runs wild and gets his shit in, and Aleister Black is #28 at 46:40. So he gets his shit in and Samoa Joe is #29 at 48:00. He has his showdown with KO and Seth Rollins is #30 at 49:33, along with his goons. They haul Edge out and send him into the railing, then drag Orton out and send him into the tables. Seth curbstomps Roman, and Buddy trips up Black and allows Seth to throw him out at 51:49. KO hits a stunner on Seth and throws him out, but AOP catches him and sends him back in. And Owens is hauled out at 52:23. Joe with the choke on Seth, but Buddy breaks it up and Seth tosses Joe at 52:39. Seth’s group brawls to the back with KO and Joe, leaving Rollins alone with the crew in the ring. So they all hit their finishers on the Messiah and Drew throws him out at 54:43.
Final Four: Edge, Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton & Roman Reigns
Rated RKO teams up again and it’s RKO for Drew and Edge adds a spear, and then they team up with a double RKO on him for good measure. But of course they turn on each other and Edge throws him out at 57:23. Orton’s like “Eh, you got me!” Cole notes that this is like a fantasy match in WWE 2K. Yeah, except with less glitches and the game isn’t crashing due to the Y2K bug. Roman misses a spear on Edge and Edge spears him and tosses him, but Roman hangs onto the apron. So Edge charges again and Roman pulls him out for a slugfest out there, and Edge falls out at 59:33. This leaves Roman and Drew, but Roman walks into the kick and Drew McIntyre wins a surprise Rumble at 60:15. This was kind of odd booking in the sense that Drew got to throw out Brock and that would have set up the title match at Wrestlemania, and they then could have had someone else win and earn the other title shot. But instead Drew got both things and now they have to do a battle royal or something for the other title shot. Good on them for finally pulling the trigger on Drew after years on the treadmill, and hopefully they follow up at Wrestlemania and don’t pull a Nakamura on him. As for the match, like Cole kept yammering about, it was literally two different matches bolted together into one. The first half went on way too long with the Brock stuff but it was different and served a purpose at least. But then the second half was really entertaining, top tier stuff and the Edge surprise was great. Overall, a pretty damn good effort. ****
Overall, as a PPV, mostly just a good show but not a great one. Really the men’s Rumble match is the only thing I’d go out of my way to watch. But at least it was only four hours long, and I was entertained enough at the end of the day to rate this as WATCH IT.