The Royal Rumble has come and gone, and the Road to Wrestlemania is well underway. It was a hell of a night with highs and lows. So I figured we could take this time to do a match-by-match grading on how things went. So let’s hop to it in order of appearance.
Match #1: Men’s Royal Rumble
Bags’ Grade: B+
The night came straight at us with the Men’s Rumble. Great call to jerk the curtain with this match. It had great pacing, and some pretty spectacular spots. Logan Paul and Ricochet colliding in mid-air was particularly awesome.
Cody Rhodes predictably won it all. But it’s not the predictability of the finish that hurt the grade here. It’s the fact that they did this whole “road to recovery” angle with Cody coming in. I would have much preferred they stay silent about his recovery and let him return cold. We all knew how long the recoup time on his injury was, and did the math knowing a Rumble return and subsequent win was likely. But at least let us all pretend his return is a surprise. His music hitting upon his entrance to the Rumble would have been the biggest pop of the night.
Match #2: Bray Wyatt defeats LA Knight – Mt Dew Pitch Black Match
Bags’ Grade: C-
I’ll keep this short. Bray was great. Everything else about this match was tacky. Different, and kinda cool, but tacky.
Match #3: Bianca Belair defeats Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship
Bags’ Grade: B
Bianca and Alexa have great in-ring chemistry together, and I look forward to their matches. I wasn’t sure if Bianca would retain, or if Alexa would win the belt, leaving this the least predictable match of the evening. I agree with how it ended, and enjoyed the extra bit at the end with Uncle Howdy taunting Alexa. It loses points, as I expected a bit more from both of these two. They’ve put on better matches together. However, I’m willing to accept that as there is definitely more to this story left to come. I look forward to seeing how it all plays out, perhaps with Alexa winning at Mania.
Match #4: Women’s Royal Rumble
Bags’ Grade: A-
This match was everything I love about Royal Rumble matches. Some excellent spots, a pinch of comedy, some legitimately surprising entrants, and a deserving winner who isn’t already a hyper-established powerhouse in the division. Literally the only thing holding this match back from perfection in my eyes is that the “Final Four” was relatively weak. Asuka with her new (old) “dark” look was deserving of the final four, but not Liv and Nikki. I would have preferred either Becky, Bayley, or both of them being in the final four to really help put Rhea over and make it feel special. I also wish that Rhea didn’t win from the #1 spot. The Rumble winner coming from #1 has happened a fair bit in recent years. Winning from that 1st entry is supposed to be the most daunting feat in wrestling. It’s not special if it keeps happening frequently. She should have come from a different, but still fairly early position. I was thinking like #7 or #8.
But it was still great the way it was. No further notes.
Match #5: Roman Reigns defeats Kevin Owens for the Undisputed Championship
Bags’ Grade: A-
Yet another predictable result. We all knew Kevin Owens wasn’t winning. The question was in how they would handle it, and it was expertly done. The post-match shenanigans is where the true magic of this performance really was. I loved that they gave it time and let it breathe. The whole “will he/won’t he” aspect of Roman forcing Sami Zayn to hit KO with a chair was delightfully agonizing to endure. Until the ultimate payoff where Sami strikes Roman instead.
POP OF THE NIGHT.
Bravo. *Chef’s Kiss*
Cover Photo Credit: Business Wire