Royal Rumble: Review/Recap

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Dean Ambrose defeats Kevin Owens in a Last Man Standing match to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship:

Besides the Rumble match itself this was really the only match I was looking forward to on the card, with how great Owens and Ambrose are together, both with their promos and their chemistry in the ring, and then add on the stipulation of the Last Man Standing and it had all the elements to presumably blow this feud off perfectly. Now I could easily see these two going back-and-forth on a couple more PPVs as I’m not sick of this match-up at all, but it seems like they’re diverging the guys after this since we’re heading into Mania and I presume they have different ideas for each of them heading into that show.

Anyways, the match was great as anticipated, and really the perfect way to kick off this show or any, with the energy high and weapon spots used to get the crowd going early. There were some cool moments like Owens just beating a ten count by rolling out of the ring onto his feet on the outside, Ambrose striking Owens who had a chair wrapped around his head and the general jawing back-and-forth between the two guys which gave the match an air that these guys actually hated each other. It was pretty clear that when Owens set-up a double-decker table outside the ring that he was eventually going to go through it for the 10-count loss, especially when the cameras made sure to never show it in a shot again until the fateful moment when Owens went to the top rope to moonsault onto Ambrose who was laid across a bunch of chairs, only to have Ambrose spring to life and push Owens through said tables and regain his belt.

The New Day defeats The Usos to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship:

I think I’ve said before that I’m sick of The New Day and their whole schtick, I mean I like them still, it’s just that their gimmick has worn a bit thin especially when they do the same overlong promos every week and have the same matches week in and week out. It doesn’t help that they’re facing off against the Usos, who aren’t bad, but are just generally bland and aren’t really great enough wrestler or have a good enough gimmick that they stick out to you to make you care about them one way or the other. Unsurprisingly, because of all this this was basically just a regular RAW TV match you’ve already seen a thousand times between the teams and wasn’t anything new.

There needs to be some new blood mixed in to at least make things fresh again in the tag division, but on the surface there isn’t really anyone. They already ran through the lackluster Dudley Boyz feud, one was starting up with the Lucha Dragons until Sin Cara go injured and now this Usos one doesn’t have any legs to it, so I don’t know where they go from here. I can’t even think of any teams, outside of any combination of jobbers they could mix and match, or I guess falling in line with that have them do a program with the Social Outcasts, which could be fun or a disaster. Or maybe they finally bring up an NXT tag-team, like Enzo and Cass who seem to have passed their opportunity to gain the NXT tag belts, and throwing them up with The New Day to go promo for promo with their colourful antics wouldn’t be the worst thing to head into WrestleMania with.

Kalisto defeats Alberto Del Rio to win the WWE United States Championship:

I’m unsure of the reason why this belt hot-potatoed between the two guys over the past few weeks, but here we are again with Kalisto winning the belt yet again, where hopefully he can maintain a little bit of a run with it this time. I really enjoyed the matches between the two, they obviously have chemistry, and this one was more of the same again, minus a couple missed cues and one large botched spot, but it was a great showcase for Kalisto and something that WWE actually tries to build off and not just squander like they did when he won before. They obviously wanted to push Kalisto and unfortunately or fortunately the Sin Cara injury gives them the exact excuse to do that with a guy who could be a great mid-card singles guy if they give him a proper run.

Charlotte defeats Becky Lynch to retain the WWE Divas Championship:

This was another solid match between the two. Unfortunately for Becky she’s basically just a stop-gap between the Charlotte/Sasha Banks feud that most certainly will be leading to that as the women’s match at Mania. After Ric Flair’s distraction help Charlotte picked up the victory and saw Sasha Banks walk down the aisle as she celebrated. The pop for Banks was bigger than I imagined, like it looked like it was deafening in there, and long overdue to turn her face since that’s what everybody so badly wanted when they’d chant her name in every Divas match. The Charlotte/Sasha Banks program for the title is what everyone has been waiting for since the NXT stars got promoted to the main roster, so let’s see if they can deliver us that classic women’s match on the main roster that everybody has been salivating for.

Triple H wins the 30-man Royal Rumble Match to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship:

The PPV wasn’t surprising in the least, matter of fact everything we thought would happen, did. So, of course, it’s the end of the match Roman hits his moves on Bray Wyatt as the clock winds down to see who the 30th entrant is… and Motorhead hits and Triple H in his impossibly buff body hits the ring to lay waste to all in advance of his 14th World title win. Now we all knew this was going to happen, Triple H had conspicuously been off TV since Reigns went crazy and gave him a severe beatdown following the TLC PPV, he was going to come in and spark the HHH/Reigns feud, presumably setting up their Mania match where Roman goes over for his PROPER coronation that WWE so badly wants with him standing tall after the biggest show of all time with the victory and title. The booking here was all sorts of weird, though, with them having the League of Nations take Reigns out of the match, beat him down and then have Reigns just walk backstage to supposedly nurse his injuries that were fine enough for him to walk on his own power. I mean, if you’re gonna do the whole “one vs. all, Reigns as entrant #1” stick at least have him stay in the match legit for the whole time, go that 55 minutes until he gets eliminated, but don’t cheap out on the person you’re trying to go over (above everybody else), it doesn’t make sense why you would cheapen his look in the match by pulling him out so weakly. Have him valiantly fight for the whole time and thus his loss to a fresh Triple H at #30 makes sense, rather than how they did it here.

Conversely there was actually some very smart booking in the match in regards to eliminations that follow storylines or perhaps set up storylines. Lesnar’s position in the match was basically just to feud with all the Wyatt’s, which is fine because that’s what it looks like he’s going to do for the next couple months. Sure, it was weird when the previously eliminated Wyatts eliminated Lesnar and then Lesnar just looked all mean and pissed off, but did absolutely nothing about it. We also had Sami Zayn come in to further move along his what will be life-long WWE feud with Owens and eliminate him to set-up whatever they do in the future. Owens eliminated AJ Styles to possibly set-up something in the future. Chris Jericho was eliminated by Dean Ambrose with rumours that they could do something at Mania, stemming from Jericho’s whole defiance of Ambrose back when they teamed at Night Of Champions. Small touches like this help to provide continuity with the overall storylines and are pretty easy things to do to either start a feud or plant seeds for things further down along the line.

Oh, yeah, how could I forget AJ freakin’ Styles debuted at the show, causing me much delay in writing this since I literally can’t stop watching his entrance debut on YouTube. It was seemingly the worst keep secret in wrestling that Styles was going to debut at the Rumble, but damn if I didn’t get excited like it was an unknown surprise when I first saw him walk around the corner in his entrance. I can’t even begin to describe how cool and surreal it is to finally see my favourite enter a WWE ring. They did it perfectly, putting him at #3 where Roman just dumped Rusev and was waiting for his opponent, all the attention drawn to who would be next. Some cool music hit and nobody really knew what was up until Styles sauntered out and the PHENOMENAL words went across the titantron and the crowd went absolutely nuts, like goosebumps each time I watch it level of nuts. I was literally watching the match, a damn WWE match, shaking my head at just how bizarre it was to see Styles in a WWE ring facing off against all these WWE superstars after over the past two decades doing everything but go to WWE and after headlining an ROH and NJPW PPV within the last month. They handled him perfectly to in the match, teasing the Styles clash, while still getting over his moves, and they had him go 27 minutes which is super respectable, especially since he’s not going to win and then having someone of the calibre of Owens, who he could feud with, eliminate him. It was awesome and I really could’ve wrote this whole thing about Styles, but I can’t wait to see how he’s used in WWE and the gravity of his entrance and treatment in the match gives me hopes that they won’t squander him and actually have high hopes for him.

So, we’re right where he though we were really, HHH won the title and know Roman’s gonna chase it for WrestleMania, which I know people hate having HHH main event that event, but really what better options are there at this point with everybody injured and with the company wanting to put Reigns over so bad, even to his detriment. I think it’ll be a good match regardless, whether WWE gets their moment or not, and they certainly didn’t set Roman up well in that Rumble match, but let’s see what they got for the next couple months.

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NXT TakeOver: London: Review/Recap

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Asuka defeats Emma:

Oh, man, I was not expecting this thing to be THIS good, especially right out of the gate. I mean, I though this match would be low-key good, given that Asuka is one of the best workers in the company and Emma is underratedly so good, but like the TLC PPV from a few days before, this first match just pulled the rug out beneath the rest of the card and stole the show. This was no doubt the best match of the night for me, with Asuka and Emma providing great chemistry in their technical wrestling skills all the way up to the end when they teased the deceptive win(s) for Emma with the help of Dana Brooke. It wouldn’t be that way, though, Asuka remained undefeated, but what a showing for both of them.

I’ve always felt semi-sorry for Emma because she can be just as great as a wrestler as Bayley, Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch when she wants to, she’s just kind of got lost in the shuffle due to a variety of reasons. She’s basically like the female version of Tyler Breeze where everyone just passed her by. But, hopefully she can shine in the division now that it’s pretty thin and includes green people like Nia Jax and Eva Marie, especially with the quality of match she just put on.

Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson defeats Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady to retian the NXT Tag Team Championships:

Can’t say the result of this was much of a surprise. As much as Amore and Cassady’s gimmick is fun and they’re little entrance schtick is like no other, they’re sub-par wrestlers and just don’t seem like an ideal to put the belts on at this time. Seemingly, the time to put the title on them has vanished behind them, not that they’re close to being done, it’s just that better options always seem to make themselves know. It seems quite clear that Chad Gable and Jason Jordan will be the next team challenging for the belts, and with wrestler as great as them it only makes sense to have Wilder and Dawson, great wrestler in their own right, be the ones to make it a better wrestling feud.

Baron Corbin defeats Apollo Crews:

Now this was something I didn’t expect at all. Baron Corbin not only going over, but doing so cleanly. I mean, it’s quite clear how high the company is on Corbin, it’s been like that for awhile, but Crews seemed to be the new fresh blood that they were grooming to be the next champion, or at least the next contender. He has the perfect big man build that they’re seemingly always looking for, coupled the agility with someone a hundred pounds lighter. It’s not even like it was some great war that went back-and-forth, where easily it was the weakest match on the card and neither man seemed very comfortable in the ring or with each other.

Bayley defeats Nia Jax to retain the NXT Women’s Championship:

Couldn’t say I was really looking forward to this, as both women’s contradictory styles didn’t exactly foretell a great match, especially coming after the last two TakeOver’s with the classics with Sasha Banks. In the end the match was a lot better than it had any right to be, with Bayley eventually making Jax tap out, because there was no way should could finish her off with her normal Bayley-to-belly finisher. Also, damn, you woulda though they’d want to protect Nia Jax some more, especially her leg drop finisher, but they had Bayley kick out of four damn leg drops. It was unbelievable, I saw Jax hit all those leg drops and thought realistically there’s no way that Bayley should kick out of those moves, but of course she did.

This was kind of a nothing feud, and with a Asuka/Nia Jax tease earlier in the show, it seems to leave Bayley’s opponent wide open. Are they gonna go the nuclear way and through Eva Marie right into it, or what? There’s not too many more options nowadays besides Emma and Dana Brooke who just got demolished by Asuka in back-to-back TakeOvers. So, basically, call me when Asuka finally gets her run at the title.

Finn Balor defeats Samoa Joe to retain the NXT Championship:

Now this is a match I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I’m a HUGE Samoa Joe fan and have been for over a decade and the fact that he’s in the WWE now is still something that makes me do a double-take. The storytelling for this thing was pretty foreseeable with us counting down the days until Joe turned on Balor when they were partners. Not that it hampered anything, since both of these guys are so well-rounded inside and outside the ring that they can make anything work. They had a great match, as expected, but nothing that really blew the doors off for me. Balor was going to retain, yeah, but I felt like there was a small part that could’ve had Joe take the title for a big swerve, but deep down I knew it wouldn’t happen.

So, the next TakeOver got announces, as expected for the Friday of WrestleMania weekend giving us two-and-a-half months between TakeOver’s and us wondering what that’ll include. It seems likely that Corbin will be going after NXT title, I guess, since he beats Crews. I don’t foresee them stretching that to Mania or having that main eventing that caliber of event, but who knows. I feel like they’re not going to boot Crews right out of the title picture, though, so I’d imagine he’d be right there, too. Does Joe stick around there, too? I don’t know if this is one and done with Balor, but who knows. In a perfect world this would be the perfect time for Joe to be promoted to the main roster, a place in dire need of some top talent and someone who has the potential to be a top heel or be great in literally whatever he does. But, supposedly they have no plans to move Joe up, which is a shame because after he got his title shot in NXT I don’t just want to see him spin his tires and hang around in the mid-card of NXT.

Oh, and how could I forget about the returning Sami Zayn, who worked the UK tour before this event and worked a match after the show to air on the following week’s NXT TV. People thought Zayn would come back and immediately go up to Raw, but who knows. One would imagine they’d love to do the Balor/Zayn title feud which makes the most sense and would probably be the perfect main event for the TakeOver in Dallas on WrestleMania weekend.

On the other side of things Hideo Itami is right smack in the middle of his six-eight months of being away from his shoulder injury that he suffered in May, so I’d assume he should be right around the corner from returning and he definitely provides another top talent that the division could use right now. One can’t help but imagine how great a Joe/Itami feud would be, except NXT runs the risk of that match stealing the show of whatever card it’s on. I’m salivating just thinking about it.

Honestly, I wasn’t that enthused with this TakeOver as a lot of people seemingly have been. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but didn’t really feel that special than some of the monumental TakeOver’s of the past few months and of the majority of the year. The show definitely has taken a dip in quality since earlier in the year and especially after losing a few stars to injury and a bunch to the main roster like Neville, Owens, and the majority of their divas division. Now it seems they’re just in the end of their restocking phase with cementing some new divas like Asuka, Nia Jax and strengthening their tag division with Wilder/Dawson and Gable/Jordan along with rising single stars like Corbin and Crews along with returning veterans in Zayn and Itami. I hope/think they can build some new momentum like that had coming into the new year last year and really go on another incredible run that always seems possible with this quality of talent.