Chase Field – Phoenix, Arizona – Sunday, January 27, 2019
Monday Night RAW: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young
SmackDown Live: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and Graves
205 Live: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Aiden English
~KICKOFF MATCH #1~
RAW Tag Team Champions Bobby Roode & Chad Gable defeat Rezar (w/ Drake Maverick) & Scott Dawson at 6:55. If the Frankenstein team wins, both of their regular teams (AOP and The Revival) will be in line for title shots. Dawson and Rezar do a solid job working together, keeping Gable isolated for a bit. Eventually, Gable makes a hot tag and Roode is a house afire. Some heel miscommunication ends with Rezar knocked to the floor. The Champs hit the neckbreaker/moonsault combination to get the pin. Decent enough match for the time they got, but it was literally tacked on and didn’t feel important at all.
~KICKOFF MATCH #2~
Shinsuke Nakamura defeats WWE United States Champion Rusev (w/ Lana) at 10:15 to regain the title. Rusev has been the Champion since 12.25.18, and this is his first defense. The Champion is the aggressor in the early going, keeping Nakamura grounded (where he can’t strike). Momentum swings back and forth in front of this mildly invested crowd. Both men favor a strike-heavy attack in this match. Nakamura also tries an armbar and a guillotine choke, but Rusev powers out. When Nakamura goes to untie the top turnbuckle, Lana gets on the apron to confront him. Rusev charges and Nakamura moves, and Rusev knocks his wife to the floor. Nakamura delivers Kinshasa to the back of the head to get the pin and regain the title. That was about as much as we can expect from a Nakamura Kickoff match at this point.
~KICKOFF MATCH #3~
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Buddy Murphy defeats Akira Tozawa, Hideo Itami, and Kalisto in a Fatal 4-Way Match at 12:05 to retain the title. Murphy has been the Champion since 10.6.18, and this is his third defense. Itami goes right to the floor and lets the other three wrestlers battle it out. The action is fast and furious and stays that way when Itami rejoins the fray. The crowd gets into it to some degree, and the guys are all certainly working hard to win them over. Murphy and Itami are the standouts of the match, and the big build of the match is to the two of them fighting. Tozawa and Kalisto are certainly no slouches either. Murphy takes out Kalisto and Tozawa with knee strikes, and then after a furious exchange, puts Itami away with Murphy’s Law to retain. Great action here from four great representatives of 205 Live. None of the challengers really felt like they had a chance, but this was still plenty of fun.
SmackDown Women’s Champion Asuka defeats Becky Lynch at 17:10 to retain the title. Asuka has been the Champion since 12.16.18, and this is her second defense. Both women are aggressive, as they both have something to prove after taking each other to the limit in a TLC Match back in December. They brawl a lot and use a lot of strikes in the first part of the match, fighting both in and out of the ring. Once Becky takes control, she goes to work on the left arm, no doubt wearing Asuka down for the Dis-Arm-Her. Asuka sticks around and fights back like her title is at stake. When they fight on the apron, Asuka goes for what looks like a fisherman’s buster to the floor, and both women land with a thud. Back in the ring momentum swings back and forth, and they do a neat reversal spot where both women try each other’s submission finishers. Finally, Asuka cinches in the Asuka Lock, right in the center of the ring, and Becky has to tap out. Fantastic match, with both women going all-out to make this title feel like a prize worth fighting for. They did some really cool spots and built up perfectly to the finish.
Shane McMahon & The Miz defeat SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus) to win the titles at 13:20. Sheamus and Cesaro have been the Champions since 10.16.18, and this is their third defense. Watching real wrestlers like Cesaro and Sheamus have to treat Shane like an actual wrestler and not a sideshow is depressing. It makes me not want to talk about this match at all. The Champions isolate Miz for a while. Shane gets a hot tag, blah. The referee loses control and Cesaro mistakenly eats a Brogue Kick. Miz takes Sheamus out, and Shane hits Cesaro with a Shooting Star Press to get the pin and win the titles. Mostly fine as a match, but I hate the result. This whole storyline makes no sense.
RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey defeats Sasha Banks at 13:55 to retain the title. Rousey has been the Champion since 8.19.18, and this is her sixth defense. Both superstars show off in the early going, as both have talked plenty of trash to each other in the last few weeks. Rousey kicks Banks so hard that Graves describes it as “kicked her in the soul,” which is fantastic. Outside the ring, Banks takes control when Rousey misses a right hand and makes contact with the ring post. Banks controls for most of the rest of the contest, fighting off Rousey’s comeback attempts. In the end, after a series of reversals, Rousey hits Piper’s Pit and adds a bridge to get the pin. That was a really well-done, hard-fought battle that again proves Rousey is good and haters gonna hate.
Becky Lynch defeats Alexa Bliss, Alicia Fox, Bayley, Billie Kay, Candice LeRae, Carmella, Charlotte Flair, Dana Brooke, Ember Moon, Io Shirai, Kacy Catanzaro, Kairi Sane, Lacey Evans, Liv Morgan, Mandy Rose, Maria Kanellis, Mickie James, Naomi, Natalya, Nia Jax, Nikki Cross, Peyton Royce, Rhea Ripley, Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, Sonya Deville, Tamina, Xia Li, and Zelina Vega at 72:00. to win the Women’s Royal Rumble Match.
Lacey Evans is #1, and Natalya is #2. They have a disappointingly awkward exchange, and Mandy Rose is #3. This is a lot of luggage for Natalya to carry around the ring. Liv Morgan is the #4 entrant and she gets dumped by Natalya in a matter of seconds. Mickie James is #5. Next up at #6 is Ember Moon. More awkward brawling ensues, and Billie Kay is #7. Kay refuses to get in the ring until Peyton Royce can enter the ring with her. The crowd pops big for #8, Nikki Cross. This is the first time the crowd has perked up. Kay gets in the ring and good thing, because Royce is #9. Tamina is #10, so we’re one-third of the way done. She cleans house and eliminates Mickie with a superkick. Xia Li from NXT is #11. Riott Squad member Sarah Logan is #12. The IIconics join forces to eliminate Cross. Lucky #13 is Charlotte Flair. Everyone goes after Flair, which is smart. Lacey eliminates both IIconics. Charlotte gets rid of Xia. NXT fan favorite Kairi Sane is #14. Charlotte eliminates Tamina. Kairi and Natalya eliminate Logan. Maria Kanellis gets us halfway there at #15. Naomi is #16, and she goes right after Mandy, eliminating her in short order. Ever the poor sport, Mandy then eliminates Naomi from the floor. Referees come out to split them up. Charlotte eliminates Lacey, who spent almost a half hour in the ring. NXT’s Candice LeRae is #17. Alicia Fox is #18. Nothing much happens and Fox eliminates Maria. Kacy Catanzaro is #19 in a nice surprise. Zelina Vega is #20.
Moving right along, Ruby Riott is #21. Liv and Sarah come out with her, even though they’ve both been eliminated. The Squad pulls Charlotte to the floor and beat her down. Alicia is next to get pulled out and beaten up, allowing Ruby to eliminate her. Ruby tosses Candice next, as Zelina decides to hide under the ring. Dana Brooke is #22. Ruby tosses Kairi for her third elimination. Io Shirai from NXT is #23. Time passes and Rhea Ripley is #24! That’s rad. Ripley cleans house and I enjoy watching her wrestle. Dana dumps Catanzaro to the floor, but she keeps her feet off the ground and walks on her hands over to the ring post and pulls herself back up! The crowd pops big for that. Catanzaro leaps off the top rope right into Ripley’s arms, and Ripley dumps her to the floor. Sonya Deville is #25. Ripley eliminates Dana, and then Hornswoggle of all people chases Zelina out from under the ring, and as soon as she gets in Ripley throws her out. That’s three eliminations for Rhea Ripley. The returning Alexa Bliss is #26! People are excited to see her back in the ring, and she eliminates Sonya. Bayley is out at #27, and she quickly eliminates Riott and Ripley. Lana is #28, and she’s limping badly due to the injury she sustained on the Kickoff show. Nia Jax is #29, and she attacks Lana on her way to the ring just to be a bully. She gets to the ring and dumps Shirai right away, and then Natalya. Carmella completes the field at #30. Becky Lynch comes out from the back and petitions Finlay to take Lana’s place in the match. The crowd certainly wants that to happen, and Finlay allows it and the pop is enormous. Becky immediately gets in Nia’s face. We’re down to Becky, Charlotte, Nia, Ember, Alexa, Bayley, and Carmella.
Alexa eliminates Ember, who had lasted almost 53 minutes. Bayley and Carmella team up to throw Alexa out, ending her night. Charlotte eliminates Carmella, her fourth elimination. Down to the final four now, but that doesn’t last too long as Nia and Charlotte team up to dump Bayley to the floor. Charlotte gets Nia to the apron, and Becky pulls her out from the floor to leave only two – Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. As Becky walks up the stairs, Nia shoves her down, injuring Becky’s knee. Becky perseveres and gets in the ring, clearly not at full strength. Charlotte takes advantage, attacking the injured leg like a smart wrestler would. Even in her injured state, Becky muscles Charlotte over the top rope and wins the Royal Rumble. Well, this certainly finished strong, but everything leading up to Becky coming out was really weak. No one really got to shine despite some long in-ring times, and a lot of the action was awkwardly executed. However, getting Becky into the match was really well done and the finishing sequence was great, so all’s well that ends well.
WWE Champion Daniel Bryan defeats AJ Styles at 24:35 to retain the title. Bryan has been the Champion since 11.13.18, and this is his second defense. They show off their technical skills in the early going, wrestling back and forth on the mat. The crowd simply doesn’t care about anything they’re doing. Bryan attacks Styles’ left arm with a variety of offense. This goes on forever, with various Styles comeback attempts peppered throughout. Late in the match, Erick Rowan makes his way out to ringside in a flannel shirt, and gets absolutely zero reaction. Shock of all shocks, the referee gets bumped and Rowan interferes, hitting Styles with a Chokeslam. That’s enough for Bryan to get the pin. Ugh, I like these guys but this match was bad. Sure, they had an uphill battle going after a 70+ minute Royal Rumble match won by the most popular wrestler on the roster, but they just never clicked here, went way too long, and the Rowan thing sunk like a stone.
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar defeats Finn Balor to retain the title at 8:40. Lesnar has been the Champion since 11.2.18, and this is his first defense. Balor attacks right away and unleashes a flurry of quick offense, but Lesnar halts that momentum with a belly-to-belly suplex. They take the fight to the floor, and Balor does some damage out there, surprisingly. Back in the ring though, it’s all Lesnar once again. Balor counters an F-5 with a DDT for a near-fall. He continues attacking the midsection, and gets the crowd amped up. The Balor barrage continues, and Balor even hits the Coup de Grace, but Lesnar kicks out at two and immediately turns it into a Kimura Lock! After a brief fight, Balor taps out and Lesnar retains. This probably outperformed expectations by a little bit. It was a short but impactful match, with just enough offense from Balor and selling from Lesnar. Fun stuff.
Seth Rollins defeats Aleister Black, Andrade, Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin, Big E, Bobby Lashley (w/ Lio Rush), Braun Strowman, Curt Hawkins, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Elias, Jeff Hardy, Jeff Jarrett,Jinder Mahal (w/ Samir Singh & Sunil Singh), Johnny Gargano, Kofi Kingston, Kurt Angle, Mustafa Ali, Nia Jax, No Way Jose, Pete Dunne, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Samoa Joe, Shelton Benjamin, Shinsuke Nakamura, Titus O’Neil, and Xavier Woods to win the Men’s Royal Rumble Match at 57:35. Cole, Graves, JBL, and Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler are on commentary.
Elias is #1, and he has a song to sing. But wait! Before he can get his croon on, the #2 entrant is announced and it’s Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett! Elias and Jarrett put each other over and decide they should perform a duet. Of course, Elias sucker punches Jarrett and the match gets underway. United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura is #3. Hall of Famer Kurt Angle is #4. That’s two Hall of Famers in the first four entrants. Big E is #5. Nakamura easily eliminates Angle, which begs the question – why on Earth are they having Angle out there doing meaningless jobs instead of one last real program and then calling it a day? It’s mind-blowing. NXT’s Johnny Gargano is #6. Jinder Mahal is #7, and the Singh Brothers are with him. Mahal lasts about 30 seconds before Gargano sends him to the floor. The Singh Brothers get beat up too, because that’s their lot in life. Samoa Joe is #8, making his Royal Rumble debut. He eliminates Big E. Curt Hawkins, who has lost 256 matches in a row, is #9. Seth Rollins is #10, and he quickly eliminates Elias. Titus O’Neil is #11, and he makes sure to slowly approach the ring. I love that. Hawkins is hiding under the ring, and Titus goes under after him. As soon as they get in the ring, Hawkins eliminates Titus! Good for Hawkins, who then gets eliminated by Joe. Kofi Kingston is #12, and this is his twelfth Royal Rumble match. Lucky #13 is Mustafa Ali, and he goes right after Joe, and then eliminates last year’s winner Nakamura. Dean Ambrose is #14 and he goes right to battle with Rollins. Ambrose eliminates Gargano. No Way Jose is #15, and he has a conga line. Graves and King bury him, and they have been a little harsh on some of the guys tonight. Joe eliminates Jose in about a second, and Jose dances back to the locker room with the conga line. Drew McIntyre is #16, and he beats up Jose and several members of his entourage, just for fun. Xavier Woods is #17 and he saves Kofi from elimination, but McIntyre just eliminates them both anyway. WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne is #18. He’s awesome. Andrade is #19. Apollo Crews is #20.
We kick off the home stretch of the match with NXT’s Aleister Black at #21. Black eliminates Ambrose with a Black Mass kick. Veteran Shelton Benjamin is #22. Ali eliminates Joe on his own and gets a nice pop for it. Baron Corbin is #23, and he quickly eliminates Crews. Jeff Hardy is #24. Corbin eliminates Black. McIntyre eliminates Dunne. Rey Mysterio is #25. He won the 2006 Rumble from the number two position. Intercontinental Champion Bobby Lashley is #26, and he quickly gets eliminated by Rollins. Lashley is pissed, and he attacks Rollins, putting him through the ringside announce table. Braun Strowman gets the coveted #27 spot. Strowman immediately eliminates Corbin and then Shelton. McIntyre and Strowman eliminate Hardy, and then Dolph Ziggler is #28. Ziggler eliminates McIntyre. Two-time winner Randy Orton is #29. Andrade, Ali, Mysterio, and Strowman execute a Tower of Dom spot. R-Truth is supposed to be #30, but NIA JAX takes him out during his entrance and steals his spot.
Nia eliminates Ali. Then her night takes a turn, as she suffers finishers from Ziggler, Mysterio, and Orton. They send her to the apron and Mysterio dropkicks her out. Orton dumps Mysterio, and Andrade eliminates Orton. Andrade and Ziggler are left in the ring, with Rollins and Strowman out on the floor. Did the Tower of Doom spot really take Strowman out for a period? That’s weak. Rollins makes his way back in as well for our Final Four Proper – Seth Rollins, Andrade, Braun Strowman, and Dolph Ziggler. Strowman dumps Andrade and then Ziggler. Rollins sends Strowman to the apron but can’t finish the job. Moments later they go back to the apron and Rollins uses a Curb Stomp to eliminate The Monster Among Men and win the Royal Rumble. This was enjoyable and never boring, but it lacked any truly memorable spots or sequences. Super happy that Rollins won though.
Like any of the big four pay-per-views now, this show is LONG. My goodness it took me forever to get through this nearly 7-hour marathon. The Women’s Title matches are very good, and the Cruiserweight and Universal Title matches were also enjoyable. The Men’s Rumble was good-ish, and the Women’s was pretty bad but finished strong. So overall this is a positive review, but the length is just killing me.
Tags: Braun Strowman, Daniel Bryan, royal rumble, seth rollins, WWE