WWE – Royal Rumble 2020 (Cert 15)
1 Disc Blu-ray /2 discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 247 minutes approx.
WWE kicks off 2020 with its annual Royal Rumble PPV and this year they’ve opted for an unusual direction for the men’s Rumble, by having WWE champion Brock Lesnar enter the Rumble at No 1 with the aim of defeating the other 29 entrants so he doesn’t have to work Wrestlemania this year.
I know, that doesn’t sound like Brock, wilfully missing a huge pay day but you ever know – someone might eliminate Brock and put themselves in contention for the WWE Title as a result. Ooh the drama!
Elsewhere the big news for the women is the rematch between Becky Lynch and Asuka one year on from the 2019 Rumble, in a match that should have been Becky’s first challenge after winning the title(s) at Wrestlemania 35, but didn’t because Vince. The narrative is that Asuka is the one blot on Becky’s record and she needs to expunge it. Can she finally topple the Empress?
Like last year, the show is held in a baseball stadium meaning no big entrance stage and a mile long trek to the ring. This also mean the crowd are going to be harder to keep interested as we saw last year after Becky when the women’s Rumble match to a massive ovation which then killed the fans for the rest of the evening.
Held on January 26th 2020 at the Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas before 36,000 fans, while the commentary desk is rather crowded with Tom Phillips and Jerry Lawler for RAW, Michael Cole and Corey Graves for SD, and a guest spot for Booker T.
Onto the matches and as always no results spoilers since the DVD/Blu-ray cover artwork has that bit covered but plenty of opinion.
Falls Count Anywhere Match – Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin
If ever proof was needed Vince McMahon hates the fans the continuation of this feud is it. Having already faced off in numerous matches on TV and PPV – singles, tags, and gimmick bouts – over the prior few months and boring fans rigid it was felt there was still some life in it yet, so here we are with this latest instalment.
Shortly before this show The Usos made heir triumphant return from purgatory (rehab?) to back Reigns up as Corbin had Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, so this essentially turned into a multi-man match. As it took place amongst the crowd only a small section of the stadium got to see the action properly. At least they enjoyed it, otherwise it was mostly tables being broken (ironic that they had a TLC match the month before that saw less furniture wreckage) and Corbin ending up in a portaloo where he belongs.
30 Women Royal Rumble Match
Quite an inauspicious Rumble for the ladies this year, due to a number of injuries to many of the main roster stars keeping them out of the picture, and the top names busy in singles matches elsewhere on the show. Thus there was a heavy reliance on NXT to fill up the 30 spots, which meant exposure to the masses for some but also zero recognition by said crowd.
The other noticeable facet was the lack of depth in the way of feuds to fuel the action, with only the wretched Lana-Liv Morgan story being the sole example. Even those who are feuding in NXT didn’t get to continue their disputes here either; then again, most of them were only in the match for a blink of an eye anyway, so what could they do? And to top it all, the wrong person won – this isn’t personal opinion but fact.
SD Women’s Title Match – Bayley (c) vs. Lacey Evans
Usually the match following a big one has trouble getting the fans invested because of the big comedown, but this wasn’t quite the case here as Bayley and Lacey had to follow a naff Rumble with a naff winner. Sadly, they didn’t have a chance since the fans aren’t taking to Lacey as a babyface too well, with her turn coming literally out of nowhere, not to mention her character is better as a heel.
Not that they didn’t try but everything just felt a bit off and Lacey is still trying to find her feet in making her new role work in the ring. The problem is also that this started out as feud between Sasha Banks and Lacey but with Sasha injured they had to transfer it to Bayley, whose run as heel SD champ hasn’t been the best, exposing the lack of depth to the SD women’s roster.
WWE Universal Title Strap Match – The Fiend vs. (c) Daniel Bryan
On the plus side, the stupid red lighting has been ditched so we can actually see what is happening in the ring. Unfortunately, it merely exposes how awful The Fiend is as a worker, but he is in there with someone actually able to figure out how to get a decent match out of this no selling freak, which he sort of achieved.
The strap stipulation was actual Bryan’s challenge which made no sense as it came out of nowhere having not been a part of the feud at all, plus it is not a usual idea for a face to have, but what does make sense in Vince’s world? Credit (or cringe) to Bryan for taking some nasty strap shots to make this work, leaving horrific red welts that wouldn’t have been seen under the red lights.
WWE RAW Women’s Title Match – Becky Lynch (c) vs. Asuka
The rematch one year in the making, but didn’t need to be if Asuka hadn’t been shunted aside for most of 2019 until they decided to turn the Kabuki Warriors heel and make them Women’s tag champs. Meanwhile, Becky has been doing the media rounds, stuck in dead end feuds with Lacey Evans, upstage real life boyfriend Seth Rollins, and getting the Super Cena treatment from Vince, which has seen fan investment dwindle slightly.
I know this makes me seem sarcastic but hear me out – during one point in this match, Asuka delivered a KO kick to Becky…and the ref stopped Asuka from making the cover! Isn’t wrestling supposed to be about incapacitating your opponent long enough for the three count? A prime example of Vince’s “hero sympathy” booking that has the opposite effect in what was otherwise a good match but not as good as the first one from 2019.
30 Men Royal Rumble Match
It has always been a bugbear of mine when Rumble winners claim to have “outlasted 29 other wrestlers” en route to victory when it is demonstrably untrue, especially if they entered in a late spot when most of the competitors had been long gone. This year however it seemed we may actually see someone go the distance and remove everyone from 2 -30.
That was the idea and for the first half of the match it was very much the case as Lesnar sent consecutive wrestlers packing in short order. There were moments of stability when he ring hosted more than two people, but these were brief, yet did have some storyline coherence – shocking I know. Overall, a decent match with some sensible booking in the end, although mileage will vary on the Lesnar dominance in the first half.
Of course the big news was the return of a Hall of Famer long though retired for good to the shock of everyone. Actually, the real big news was the idiot director cutting away when he hit the ring and missing the first big spot of his offence. Luckily this has been rectified for this release so we get to see it in all its glory.
The “Road to Wrestlemania” starts with the Royal Rumble as the WWE likes to remind us ad nauseum but with each passing year that road seems more and more uncertain as old man McMahon gets more senile. This year’s event had a rather unimpressive build up with only the Becky vs Asuka match seemingly having any force behind it. Granted the story was ready made if a little late, but it had substance whilst everything else had that last minute thrown together feel to it.
But the biggest issue was Vince changing his mind on both Rumble Winners just a week before the show, after seeing how the betting odds were going (yes, people bet on wrestling in the US). Whether this means Vince likes a flutter and wanted to ensure a pay is not for me to speculate but this is a lame reason to derail your own plans, which he essentially did.
On the one hand, the change in men’s match was the right call, at least in creating a new challenger for the main event picture; on the other, the logical favourite for the women’s match would have ensured the same thing except that didn’t happen, because favouritism will always win out. A spoiler perhaps if you’ve not seen the show yet, but seasoned fans should come to expect predictability from WWE these days where logic – or lack thereof – is concerned.
Not the worst Rumble event by a long shot, and as far as laying the groundwork for Wrestlemania goes, it certainly does that but how hopeful can we be that real change is afoot? I guess we’ll have to wait and see…
Best match – Becky Lynch vs. Asuka (by default)
Royal Rumble Kickoff Show Matches:
Sheamus vs. Shorty G
WWE US Title Match – Andrade (c) vs. Humberto Carillo
Monday Night RAW – January 6th 2020
Brock Lesnar Will Enter The Men’s Royal Rumble Match First
Monday Night RAW – January 13th 2020
Raw Women’s Title Match Contract Signing
Smackdown – January 17th 2020
Team Hell No has The Fiend’s Attention
Rating – ***
Man In Black