Monday, January 25, 2016

Royal Rumble 2016: One Versus All

The Royal Rumble is either my second or third favorite WWE PPV/Special Show depending on where I choose to rank SummerSlam.  While I was not a fan of the One Versus All stipulation that put the WWE World Title on the line in the Royal Rumble I was still looking forward to this show.  The main reason is that I appreciated how that stipulation made sense as it related to The Authority punishing Roman Reigns.  I also liked the idea that it would give WWE some extra flexibility as we headed towards WrestleMania.  The idea that the winner of the Royal Rumble gets a shot at the title is solid, but it also locks you in to a large degree for the weeks leading up to WrestleMania.  Now that's not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case with these injuries, etc. it's nice to shake up that formula a bit.  Overall I thought the show was pretty good.  Here's my thoughts on what stood out to me.
  • Royal Rumble for Roman Reigns WWE World Championship--The main thing I can say about this is that I was absolutely baffled by the strong praise this match seemed to get on Twitter and elsewhere.  To me, this Rumble had entirely too many "Wait a minute..." moments to earn the praise it has.  I will look at those momentarily, but I want to get a couple things out of the way.  In theory, I had zero issue with Triple H standing tall as the WWE World Champion at the end of the night.  I had zero issue with Roman Reigns losing his title either.  Roman Reigns winning the Rumble from the number one position would have been absurd and just another example of them making him into John Cena 2.0 as it relates to him overcoming the odds.  What gets messy is the execution of all this.  I will get back to Triple H and Roman Reigns later, but here are my issues.  Look at these with the understanding that I really try not to nitpick wrestling logic to death.  I mean it's a world where the Irish Whip makes sense so I can overlook a great number of things.  What I don't want, however, is WWE Creative coming up with a bunch of scenarios that give you the "Hey, wait a minute..." type moments.  To me, that's what they did last night.  Here's a look at the moments that stood out, good and bad, in the Rumble itself.
    • Brock Lesnar's elimination was absolutely ridiculous.  For one, I get that a Royal Rumble is no DQ, but if anyone can just enter or re-enter the Rumble then everyone would be using that strategy.  If you wanted the Wyatts to gang up on Brock Lesnar and eliminate him then do that instead of having him eliminate all of them first.  Even as it relates to the Wyatts, why would they then leave?  They should have just continued tossing people so Bray Wyatt would win the whole thing.  The next part that was completely idiotic was Brock Lesnar gets tossed by illegal participants who DESTROYED him on Raw and he just takes a leisurely stroll to the back.  That completely flies in the face of what makes Brock Lesnar Brock Lesnar.  
    •  The Miz refusing to enter the Rumble.  Again this isn't real sport so I get that they can fudge the rules a bit and I also get that they've done similar things before.  That said if The Miz can just wait outside the ring without any repurcussions why would number 30 bother entering until there's only one left?  Now to The Miz's credit I thought he was pretty amusing out there although I liked it better when he was talking tough before he admitted he didn't want to get in to the ring. 
    • Not a logical issue, but Chris Jericho staying in the Rumble that long was ridiculous.
    • Back to the main angle, the Roman Reigns injury deal was poorly handled.  First of all we all knew he'd be back.  The commentators going out of their way to point out he was still in the Rumble didn't help either.  The biggest issue was that Reigns got off the stretcher, but then walked to the back.  That made it look worse in most people's eyes than if they had just wheeled him all the way out before making a miraculous comeback.  It made it look like he just didn't want to fight and was gaming the system.  Most seemed to look past the fact that he was illegally annihilated by the League of Nations and came to the point that basically Kevin Owens must be tougher than Roman Reigns.  Now I see the other side of it, but it's hard to argue that point as the whole thing was poorly handled.
    • Triple H looked like a face getting his revenge.  The Orlando, FL crowd didn't help this, but Triple H completely came across like a the face in this scenario which is absurd.  That's what happened though or at least it could certainly be interpreted that way which is beyond troublesome if you want the Mania crowd to embrace Roman Reigns.  
    • AJ Styles' debut was perfect.  Great theme song, great reaction from the crowd and Roman Reigns.  Even his elimination was perfect.  
    • R-Truth climbing a ladder.  Call me stupid, but I enjoyed that.  Crazy R-Truth is a guilty pleasure of mine and I thought this worked.  
    • Rusev taking a monitor to the back.  Don't know if you noticed, but Rusev took a monitor all the way to the back with him when the beat down Roman Reigns.  He even went on Twitter and claimed this made him the TV champion. 
    • The Orlando crowd already got a mention, but when you reject Roman Reigns because he got a big push and embrace Triple Freaking H, you've got a problem.  
  • Alberto Del Rio (C) v Kalisto for the US Championship--This one genuinely surprised me, but good for Kalisto.  That guy has the ability to be a Daniel Bryan underdog type if they'd let him run with it.  I am not saying he'll ever be as big as Bryan, but he can be a pretty big deal if they just let him keep doing his thing.  I enjoyed this match, not sure what the general consensus on it was though from people who analyze matches a whole lot more thoroughly than I do.
  • New Day (C) v The Usos for the WWE Tag Team Championship--You've seen it 1,000 times it seems and it was what it always is.  It's entertaining, but you're ready to move past it.  The finish was executed perfectly and I really liked that visual of Big E sneaking the tag and then catch "a flying Uso."  Really cool finish to a fun match which has been done so many times it's hard to care. 
  • Dean Ambrose (C) v Kevin Owens Last Man Standing for the IC Championship--This was every bit as fun as you would expect out of these two although the highlight of Owens' night was tossing AJ Styles out of the Rumble and mocking him if you ask me.  Both guys worked hard and the crowd was into it throughout.  The big spots worked and that's a testament to these guys making you care as we are all so desensitized to this stuff in general.
  • Divas Match--This came on when I was doing some other stuff to be perfectly honest.  I did not see the finish of the match itself, but I did see Sasha Banks make her statement and it was very well done.  I know people have been dying for it so hopefully it delivers unlike the miserable failure that was the Divas Revolution.
Here's where WWE gets me though, no matter how much I disliked the Rumble itself I look at Raw and think, "Well, this should be interesting." It may not be good tonight, but it will be interesting. They've lit the fuse on a lot of interesting things no matter how much I disliked certain aspects of the show and I will sit and watch tonight.  I don't give grades, but I have to give the show a thumbs up.  It would be even better had they not added so many unnecessary elements to the Rumble itself.  It's one of those things though where a lot of little things were handled well, but the biggest thing was executed so poorly that you have a hard time being too excited about it.  Regardless, I'll be watching like I do every week.