Hello everyone and welcome to my WWE Royal Rumble 2016 review! As usual, I’m reviewing this show very late. Even though it is late, I still want to review it because a.) it was very eventful and b.) last year’s Royal Rumble was my first PPV review. I am hyped for this show, because some matches, like Owens vs. Ambrose, look great on paper and the Royal Rumble is always full of surprises. Some other matches have the chance to be good or vey good, but those are the most exciting. Anyhow, lets get the review started.
The show starts with a mysterious limo driving up, and Vince and Stephanie McMahon getting out. Vince says Reigns is getting the opportunity to defend his title and defend history. It’s a pretty generic promo hyping the Rumble, but Vince’s line of “I love this night, almost as much as I love me” made me chuckle. Then, a very well edited video package plays, equating the Royal Rumble with Ancient Roman Gladiatorial Combat. It is just such a cool promo to watch, even if the Roman Reigns storyline sucks ass. Our first match is…
Dean Ambrose (c.) vs. Kevin Owens – Last Man Standing Match – WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
While this was a pretty solid plunder match, there were too many choreographed moments and contrived setups. I appreciate the effort from both men, as they both took crazy bumps, but it didn’t have the gritty moments that make wrestling brawls great. There were definitely moments that felt spontaneous and real, like how, after receiving a chairshot, Owens yells “I hate you!” to Ambrose, but the majority of the match was them setting up spots, hitting a spot, setting up another spot, etc. The spots were assuredly cool, with a cannonball through the barricade being a highlight, but cool spots don’t make a good brawl to me. What really makes a good brawl is what made Doom vs. The Horsemen from Starrcade 1990 a classic, a sense of reality. In that match, they just beat the shit out of each other and did spots when the brawling naturally called for it. This match, however, was focused on the spots while forgetting to make the setup realistic or compelling. Also, two tables stacked on top of each other were set up mid way through the match, which kills all the drama after it. There is no way this match is ending until those tables break, which happened during the finish, so all nearfalls from the setup to the finish, when nearfalls are the most important to drama, held no weight. Overall, watching the spots were fun and I appreciate the effort, but the excess of flaws in structure cripple a potentially amazing stunt show.
Post match, an ad plays for a phone company and then another plays for some WWE Network shows. A video explaining why the next match is occurring plays, which cements the New Day as my favorite thing in WWE. Next up is…
The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E) (c.) (w/Xavier Woods) vs. The Usos – WWE Tag Team Championship Match
The promo before the match by The New Day is great and you should watch it. That is all.
Now, onto the match. It was pretty average, with a very basic structure. Basically, New Day gets heat, Usos make comeback, and then the finishing stretch. Now, while the structure is basic, a match’s quality is all about execution. While the pacing of the match was very good, and in theory the match should have never been boring, it still ended up feeling bloated and too long. I would attest that to the sloppy execution throughout the match, which really kept the crowd and myself from getting too invested. Two spots in particular were very poorly executed, and while they covered it well, they still hurt the flow. First was when an Uso was supposed to catch Kofi in a back suplex, but he missed or something and Kofi fell flat on is ass. Secondly was when an Uso and Kofi both went for kicks, but the Uso fell flat on his face and Kofi fell on his leg almost in an STF position. These were the most spectacular botches, but the overall match was littered with little moments of sloppiness that made this match feel choppy and poor. However, a really fun closing stretch did help the match and the finish was absolutely stellar. While the finishing stretch could have been shorter, since it lost the crowd a bit, some nearfalls were tremendous and perfectly done. While the entire match was marred by sloppiness, the ending third of this match made it a worthwhile watch and held the match together.
A couple ads play, one for toys and another for a behind the scenes of WrestleMania 31. Then, a recap of a huge brawl hyping the Royal Rumble is shown. This package transitions into a Bray Wyatt promo, where he says he’s going to slaughter people and win. For all of Wyatt’s faults, he has a damn good promo. Next up is…
Alberto Del Rio (c.) vs. Kalisto – United States Championship Match
This match has the perfect story and great action, but once again some sloppiness mars what could have been a really good match. The story was that Del Rio was the big bully while Kalisto was the spirited underdog, which works to both of these guys’ strengths. Del Rio showed his mean streak, tossing around Kalisto like he was nothing. Alberto dominated most of the match and brutalized the smaller man. Kalisto, to his credit, timed his comeback spots perfectly and got the crowd very invested in him. However, just as Kalisto was showing fire and making his comeback, he botched a Code Red badly, and it nearly killed the crowd. After this point, Kalisto seemed to lose some confidence and botched a few more spots down the stretch. While the finishing run was okay, it had the potential to be incredible if the botching didn’t hurt the crowd. The crowd wasn’t totally dead, though, as the finish popped them pretty nicely. Overall, the build to the finish of the match was fantastic, but the finishing stretch was crippled when it mattered most.
Post match, the kickoff panel tells me its time to mute the stream. Then, the pre show match is recapped, leading into a backstage segment. Paul Heyman and Stephanie are backstage and hype the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania with some clunky exposition. Also, Paul shoehorns some Brock Lesnar hype in as well. Another ad plays for a WWE Network show, which I skip. Just when I think ads are done, ANOTHER AD PLAYS! -_- I cannot stand how many advertisements there are here on this paid program. Thank goodness a video finally plays us into our next match…
Charlotte (c.) (w/ Ric Flair) vs. Becky Lynch – WWE Divas Championship Match
Overall, this is one of the better Divas matches in history, but that is more of a testament to the poor quality of the divas rather than the quality if this match. That isn’t to put a damper on this match, though, as it was a breeze to watch and very good. These two told a logical story with emotion, which was reflected through the match structure and action. Early on, Becky and Charlotte had some pretty nice chain wrestling, with Becky constantly getting the upper hand. Charlotte was trying every strategy she could, but Lynch kept one upping Charlotte, which was brilliant. This helps to establish Becky as a quality wrestler who is worthy in this spot, as she just outclassed the champion. Charlotte, as the champion desperate to keep the title, uses cheating to gain the upper hand. Then, once Charlotte takes the advantage for a little while, the finish has these two going all out with crisp counters and good nearfalls, building the drama. Even though the ending had interference, it was decently done and didn’t detract too much. It fit with the story they wanted to tell and made sense with all the characters. The only two issues I have are the slow as hell middle and the direction (or lack thereof) of Becky goes from here. Lets start with the pacing. The start and end were fantastic, probably 4* worth, but the middle kills this match with a figure four neck lock that never ends. Heat segments can be fun and exciting when there is something there, whether it be heel antics or good action, but an extended rest hold with some generic jawing off thrown in is a disappointment. Also, it is a shame someone as talented as Becky will probably be thrown to the wayside in favor of a Sasha and Charlotte feud. While that will probably produce good matches, Becky is so talented that I’m saddened her story will probably end here. However, this is a very good match, the best Divas match in ages, and the current MOTN.
Post match, Charlotte slams Becky’s face into the belt and celebrates with Ric, but Sasha comes out to a MONSTER pop. She is so over its not even funny. However, Sasha kicks Becky out of the ring and an “Asuka” chant breaks out. While all looks dandy, Sasha face turns in less than two minutes after her heel turn and attacks Charlotte. Looks like the next women’s program is set.
Another goddamn ad plays for some WWE Network shows. Then, a WrestleMania ad plays. In some more filler, a video plays with WWE giving fans an opportunity in the WWE Performance Center. Now, a statistics package plays us into the MAIN EVENT!
AJ Styles vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Chris Jericho vs. Curtis Axel vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Erick Rowan vs. Goldust vs. Jack Swagger vs. Kane vs. Kevin Owens vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Luke Harper vs. Mark Henry vs. Neville vs. R-Truth vs. Roman Reigns vs. Rusev vs. Ryback vs. Sami Zayn vs. Sheamus vs. Stardust vs. The Big Show vs. The Miz vs. Titus O’Neil vs. Triple H vs. Tyler Breeze – Royal Rumble Match – WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
Okay, so to review this, I will give quickish thought on everyone in the order they came out, and then give a short overall summary. Lets do this!
Roman Reigns: I don’t hate the guy, but he is not even close to ready to Main Event. He isn’t over, gets booed constantly, and makes the people who fight him babyface! As for his performance, he didn’t do all that much, and was a non-entity in most of the Rumble due to a stretcher spot. The stretcher spot was very cliché and dumb, but Roman refusing to leave on the stretcher was kind of cool I guess. Overall, very forgettable performance from a man who is supposed to be WWE’s number 1 face.
Rusev: Poor guy. He was so hot a year or so ago, but his feud with Cena killed him. He was eliminated before the next entrant was even out. At least he did a cool table spot.
AJ Styles: This debut was amazing, minus the botched camera work. Seeing AJ in a WWE ring was surreal, and the fact that he lasted over 20 minutes is great, He is going to get so over. While he did some cool stuff and was more active than guys like Roman, I wish he got longer to really shine. If Jericho can go to the final four, he can last a bit longer. However, his elimination building a potential feud between him and Owens is great.
Tyler Breeze: Similarly to Rusev, poor Tyler! He has a solid gimmick that could be great in the midcard, but instead he resides in the land of jobbers. The fact that he isn’t anywhere near the US or IC Title is a travesty. He was in the Rumble for such a short amount of time that he made no impact.
Curtis Axel: His spot with the Job Squad Social Outcasts was cool and Adam Rose took a nasty bump, but this performance was nothing spectacular. Still, being in the 2015 Rumble for more than a year and counting is very impressive!
Chris Jericho: He lasted for over 50 minutes and did jack shit. He had a few cool eliminations and a nice little sequence with AJ, but he was very forgettable.
Kane: He lumbered around for a while and did some stuff, but the most significant thing about him is the state of his wig. Look at this!
The poor guy has a bald patch! Otherwise, he did next to nothing of note.
Goldust: He was in for a bit, hit a powerslam on AJ, and was eliminated.
Ryback: I literally cannot remember one thing he did. He was in for more than ten minutes and did nothing the whole time.
Kofi Kingston: He was pretty great in this match, mostly for the yearly near elimination spot. While this one wasn’t insane, it was very funny, as he fell on Big E’s shoulders, and taunted on the outside for a while. New Day tactics are the best. However, his awesome elimination at the hands of Jericho was sandbagged and missed because the cameras were on Reigns’ stretcher job. Ugh!
Titus O’Neil: He entered with a lot of fire, which he is very good at, and cleaned house. That was surprising. After the initial energy, though, he fades to the background and does little of note.
R-Truth: He does a cute comedy spot, bringing in a ladder and climbing it since he thought it was a ladder match, but got eliminated shortly.
Luke Harper: He was in for a while and got a chance to shine. He had plenty of cool spots showing off his amazing moveset. He was one of the most active people throughout the Rumble, and was always trying to entertain. He’s an unsung hero of this match.
Stardust: He entered, did nothing, and got eliminated. He was only here to be a body in the ring for a while.
Big Show: He lumbered around only to be thrown out by Braun Strowman.
Neville: He did some highflying stuff and had a nice sequence with AJ, but did nothing too amazing and was eliminated like an afterthought.
Braun Strowman: Much like Big Show, he just lumbered around. He did eliminate people and got the shit beat out of him by Brock Lesnar though!
Kevin Owens: He did amazing for the time he was in. When he was entering, he sold the match earlier like a boss, showing that an insane match has some serious impact. Then, by eliminating AJ and brawling with Sami Zayn, he gets some major heat and sets up future programs. However, he was not in nearly long enough. Freaking STARDUST AND BRAUN STROWMAN were in longer. MOTHERFUCKING STARDUST! Anyways, great, if very short, performance.
Dean Ambrose: He laid low for a while before the final four, where he got to show some fire. A sequence near the end with Triple H was great, but I wish he had more to do.
Sami Zayn: It was awesome that he got to be here and build his feud with Owens, but he was also in for way to short! All he did was fight Owens and get eliminated. It was a shame, really.
Erik Rowan: With three Wyatts in the ring at the same time, they all get to clean house. However, like in every other match, Erik is eliminated first like the jobber he is. LOL!
Mark Henry: There is literally nothing to say here other than he got eliminated.
Brock Lesnar: Like the boss he is, Brock cleans house, destroys everyone, stiffs the hell out of Strowman, and looks like a beast. His elimination also sets up a feud for WrestleMania, even if it is with Bray Wyatt…
Jack Swagger: There is less to say here than there was for Henry.
The Miz: He puts in a very funny performance by avoiding Lesnar and the Wyatts and going on commentary. His snarky, self absorbed remarks were great. He did nothing and got eliminated quickly after he entered, though.
Alberto Del Rio: He was only here so Roman could eliminate a League of Nations member.
Bray Wyatt: His performance is pretty uneventful other than him using the Wyatt family to eliminate Lesnar. Looks like a Wyatt vs. Lesnar match is in the future. Yay.
Dolph Ziggler: He had a little sequence with Miz, but did little of not. He got a huge pop for nearly eliminating Reigns though!
Sheamus: He was here to give Triple H an ally late game. He was jumped before he entered by Roman, and did little once entering.
Triple H: He didn’t do too much other than the aforementioned sequence with Ambrose, but he was more here for story purpose. He wins to give Reigns a big opponent at WrestleMania, but the feud has no juice.
Overall the Rumble was solid, with multiple cool spots, fun moments, and feuds set up. However, the overarching story of Reigns is not over and there were too many moments of boredom, keeping this from greatness. While new competitors spiced up the match, and there was always a fan favorite in the ring, there was a lot of brawling with no purpose and selling. Also, AJ was the only surprise! In a match that is known for many crazy surprises, 1 isn’t nearly enough. While this is better than last year, I was too bored to say this is anything more than good.
Rating: *** ½
Post match, the McMahon family celebrates Triple H’s win. Close curtain.
While this isn’t an amazing show, it is definitely WWE’s best show in a long time. All the matches hover around 3*, and there is not one thing I am overly mad at. This is missing a really great or memorable match, but, for WWE, this is a great show. I wouldn’t say watch this, because there is so much good wrestling in the world right now, but if you have a few hours to kill or need some background noise, this is a very good choice.
So that was the Royal Rumble 2016 review, only a few weeks late! If you enjoyed, like, comment, and maybe even follow my blog. If you want to keep up with this site, my contacts and social media are here or in the sidebar to the left. Also, check out my work at Free Pro Wrestling, which is a great site where a person more talented than I write about great, legal, free matches. The next review in my queue is Starrcade 1991, followed by the next part of my AJPW 1990s review series. Also, I will review Fastlane, and hopefully have it done sooner than the Royal Rumble. Other than that, thank you for reading and see you next time.