It’s been a year, but we are back for another entry in my Ranking The Rumbles series!
We are going to do things a little differently this year. I’ll be actually talking about the whole of the 2021 Royal Rumble pay-per-view, though I will be focusing most of my attention on the two separate Rumble matches proper.
Before tonight, we’ve had 36 Royal Rumble matches–that includes men’s, women’s, and the 50 man Greatest Royal Rumble. Of those 36, I have one 10/10 score (2001) and one 1/10 score (2015). Would either 2021 offering meet either of those bars?
We will see!
But let’s get on to the show!
PRE-SHOW MATCH: Charlotte & Asuka vs. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
I figure this got bumped to the pre-show due to the fact that three-quarters of the competitors are in the Women’s Rumble match, and that match will take place mid-show. That’s fair. No other reason for this to not be main show material (seriously… do you think WWE would voluntarily just demote Charlotte for any other reason?).
It’s STILL WEIRD to me that we spent over two months setting up a storyline of Nia Jax putting Lana through tables, and the end game to it was… Charlotte winning another title. Lana just vanished from the storyline! HER OWN STORYLINE.
The Ric Flair/Lacey Evans stuff is… weird? And it makes me vaguely uncomfortable. I’m not sure why. They both seem like consenting adults, so it’s not like THAT. I think I just worry Ric is going to die mid-angle someday. Wasn’t he in a medically-induced coma within the last two years? And isn’t there a pandemic? Stay at home, Ric!
Anyway, Shayna and Nia won, which… sure. I’m hoping these Women’s tag straps eventually find their way to NXT where they are more needed. Hopefully whomever wins the Dusty Classic takes them off of Shayna and Nia. That seems… possible!
MATCH 1: Drew McIntyre vs Bill Goldberg
We all remember the Bill Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar match from ‘Mania a few years ago, and it was a BANGER (Uh, their second one, obviously).
The problem is… WWE also remembers it and KEEPS TRYING TO RECREATE IT. Both world title matches at WrestleMania 36 were essentially trying to be it, and so was this match. Sorry, WWE, but your bottle is already full of lightning! Your stone is already out of blood. Your horse has already ceased to breathe.
Still, it’s WWE, so you can never be sure, but I was relieved we got the ending that we got here. This match was exactly what it was supposed to be: Drew winning dominantly, even if he had to fight uphill to do it. Whew!
MATCH 2: Carmella vs Sasha Banks
Quick: who was the last “manager” in WWE?
Reginald is a “sommelier”.
Paul Heyman is “special counsel” (and before that, was an “advocate”).
Hell, Ricardo Rodriguez was a “personal ring announcer”.
Was it Zeb Coulter with Del Rio, Swagger, and Cesaro? Or did he have a nonsense title, too?
Is “manager” another banned WWE word?
I’m distracted by these thoughts, and I shouldn’t be. The Women’s Title match here was plenty enjoyable, even if the most noteworthy moment was Carmella almost perishing from a dive to the outside. That she just kept right on going is both amazing and lucky, and props to Sasha for not even caring about being subtle in checking to make sure ‘Mella was okay.
Mella continues to improve, and babyface Sasha is still the worst iteration of her, but this was the right call. Mella just doesn’t feel like a title holder right now.
A THING THAT HAPPENED: The Bad Bunny Song
I literally ONLY know this guy from a Snoop Dogg commercial. I guess he is a popular singer? Good for him!
MATCH 3: Women’s Royal Rumble Match
Here’s my first comment: My Mac must think I am drunk, because I was taking notes such as “Rhea Ripley elims Toni Storm”, but as I re-read them, I see my computer changed them all to “Rhea Ripley slims Toni Storm”
Naomi made her long-waited comeback at #2 to face-off against Bayley, and you know what? I’m happy she’s back. She’ll be buried in Midcard Purgatory, but I always respect how hard she worked to improve since her Funkadactyl days.
A highlight early on is Billie Kay just foregoing the match until she can make a friend, whereupon she is rejected by Shotzi, Shayna, and Toni Storm. Shotzi shooting her tank missile at Billie got a laugh out of me. Eventually, Billie befriends a returning Jillian Hall and enters the fray.
I’m a lazy writer who should be doing the work on these things–especially when my phone has a stopwatch RIGHT THERE–but the entrances feel highly rushed in the early going. I doubt 70 seconds are even passing between some of them.
Victoria with a return at #10, and I will admit to marking out slightly for that. I’ll be hypocritical later in regards to this, but you know what? I missed Victoria in a WWE ring.
As of Liv Morgan’s entrance at #13, there had only been ONE elimination (Shotzi, by Shayna), but as my screen cap up there suggests, things started happening more quickly after that point.
Lacey Evans at #18 wearing another Ric Flair robe, which leads to my note of:
I really got a kick out of those feathers. I am a child sometimes.
As you’ll note up there, R-Truth tried to come out at #21, but then realized his error and said “wrong Rumble!”. So I suspected he would be #21 in the men’s Rumble, but… not so much. Was there a third Rumble I am not privy to? Because given my love for the event, I sure would like to see it if so.
Yes, they squeezed 24/7 shenanigans into the middle of the women’s Rumble, and yes… I imagine folks will have a problem with that. Not me, though. I thought it was fun. The ring announcer calling out title changes DURING THE ROYAL RUMBLE made me laugh. I am, as usual, a very easy mark.
Don’t worry. I will have LOTS OF CRITICISM LATER.
Oh hey! At some point Skynet became self-aware and just figured out what I wanted all along.
Naomi at some point is thrown out and lands on her back with her feet up in the air and was declared still legal. No thank you, Royal Rumble. I feel like this has happened before, but I still hate it. The Royal Rumble should have NFL rules. Your back counts as “down”. Naomi can do legitimately impressive things; why do that as a spot? It just makes her look lucky (or it makes everyone who doesn’t land like that look like a buffoon).
In the moment of the night, Alexa Bliss came out at #27. She got the gang-up spot, which was hilarious because those are usually reserved for giants, and Alexa is a tiny, tiny woman. She then starts her transformation into The Fiendess, and Rhea Ripley essentially goes “Aw hell no” and EFFORTLESSLY THROWS HER OUT. Brilliant because it protects everyone. Rhea looks like the rare not-a-dumbass babyface, The Fiendess is not defeated, and it doesn’t set up Alexa for a title shot she doesn’t need.
I legit loved that whole bit.
The FINAL FOUR come down to Charlotte, Natalya, Rhea Ripley, and Bianca Belair, which from an unpredictability stand point, was a great final four because you had all three Favorites left. And then Nattie went out, so you still had all three left!
Bianca and Rhea get Charlotte out, and then Bianca finally wins the whole shebang. Good for her. I was pulling for Rhea because it feels like her momentum has been stone dead ever since last year’s ‘Mania, but they really were the two best choices.
All told: I really enjoyed this. Victoria came back. Billie Kay was fun. The final three segment was tremendous. There were good moments throughout. I think this is a solid 7/10, at least. Not elite, but quite enjoyable.
So does this set up Bianca vs Sasha? Is Sasha going to go heel again? Or might she lose the title between now and WrestleMania to someone like Bayley or Carmella? We will see!
MATCH 4: Roman Reigns vs Kevin Owens
At this point, my note-taking becomes non-existent because my wife decided to cuddle up on the couch and join me, and she HATES wrestling, so I had to appreciate the moment. This means my thoughts on the Men’s Rumble will be much less involved, but trust me: I HAVE THOUGHTS.
Roman and KO was an epic, and Roman just continues to deliver in his new role. The guy just puts on clinics these days. Has he had a bad match since he returned? Not on PPV at least, that’s for sure.
I loved that they brawled out of the “wrestling area” and out into the field of the Tampa baseball stadium. I love that there was a ladder set up in the middle of the floor back there, and it went uptown nothing. I love that someone left the keys in the forklift.
(My wife said, “Oh, he should smoosh him with the forklift and win like that”, and I actually had to explain to her that WWE did that spot twenty-two years ago)
There was a bit of a flub where Heyman and Roman couldn’t figure out how handcuff keys work, so the referee just had to refuse acknowledge Reigns was on the ground, but that’s fine. It’s fine.I’ve seen people claiming it ruined the whole match, and I think that’s a bit silly. It didn’t detract from anything before it for me, and I mostly loved this match…
Until the finish, where I remain notoriously underwhelmed by Roman’s guillotine hold. But fine. They are clearly building that up as an instant kill move so that someone can survive it to a monster pop. I get it.
MATCH 5: The Men’s Royal Rumble Match
If you had told me going in that Keith Lee would NOT EVEN BE IN THE RUMBLE, I’d have laughed and laughed at you. Then I would have remember Vince is in charge, and I’d have cried and cried.
But nope… Keith Lee was somehow not involved. I mean, I can see why. You couldn’t possibly cut out those direly needed Christian or Kane appearances. Even while it was nice to see Carlito since he was pushed from Legends’ Night… I’d have sacked him in a second to get Lee in there.
But nope. No Keith Lee.
(EDIT! I was not aware of this during the Rumble or in its immediate aftermath, but apparently Keith and Mia are in COVID related quarantine.That sucks, and I hope they get better, but it doesn’t make me any less disappointed)
I will sum up my feelings with this Rumble like this: as my wife watched the Royal Rumble with me, she repeatedly asked me the same question, which was something along the lines of: “Aren’t there any new guys in WWE? I know all of these people, and they’ve been around forever. Doesn’t WWE have any younger guys yet?”
AND THEN A GUY WHO DEBUTED IN 1998 WON THE WHOLE THING. Last eliminating a guy who debuted in, what, 2004? And has already won two of these?
Come on, WWE. Do better.
And… I don’t know. I have very little positive to say about this Rumble. The nostalgia spots were given to guys that elicited no reaction from me (Carlito? Christian? The Hurricane… doing the same exact spot he did in a Rumble back in 2002 or so? KANE?!). I have seen a lot of positive Christian sentiment online, but I guess I just didn’t miss him. He was doing stuff with Randy a few months ago.
There was only one real NXT showing (Damian Priest who, credit due, was given a nice showcase). Nothing wildly important happened, and the announcers all acted like we were idiots who didn’t always know Orton was going to come back. I literally spent the entire match thinking “Well, none of this matters since Randy isn’t back yet…”
Hell, we didn’t even get a Fiend re-emergence, and when I of all people say “this match really could have used more Bray Wyatt”, then you KNOW something is wrong.
Nothing about this one wow’ed me. At the 2021 edition’s ABSOLUTE BEST, it was just an okay Rumble match. And that’s where it peaked.
So I am unhappy. This match made me unhappy. It would have made me MORE unhappy if Randy had won, but it’s not like Edge is a vast improvement there.
I have 2015 as a 1/10, and 1995 and 1988 both as 2/10’s. I’m not sure this Rumble sank to either of those levels, but then I look at my 3/10’s, and I think they were all better than this year’s.
I will go 3/10. It’s likely that this Rumble is just leaving an awful aftertaste in my mouth, but was historically just middlingly disappointing.
Sorry; I’m salty I spent an entire match with my wife asking me where the new, young talent was just for WWE to give the match to a guy who debuted IN THE PREVIOUS MILLENNIUM.
1. 2001 (Austin III) – 10/10
2. 2010 (Edge I) – 9/10
3. 2004 (Benoit) – 9/10
4. 1992 (Flair) – 9/10
5. 2007 (The Undertaker) – 8/10
6. 2019W (Becky Lynch) – 8/10
7. 1997 (Austin I) – 8/10
8. 1998 (Austin II) – 8/10
9. 2008 (Cena I) – 7/10
10. 2018 (Nakamura) – 7/10
11. 2021W (Belair) – 7/10
12. 2002 (HHH I) – 7/10
13. 2018W (Asuka) – 6/10
14. 2016 (HHH II) – 6/10
15. 2005 (Batista I) – 6/10
16. 2020 (McIntyre) – 6/10
17. 2017 (Orton II) – 6/10
18. 2003 (Lesnar) -5/10
19. 1989 (Studd) – 5/10
20. 1996 (Michaels II) – 5/10
21. 2019 (Rollins) – 5/10
22. 2011 (Del Rio) – 5/10
23. 1999 (McMahon) 4/10
24. 1993 (Yokozuna) – 4/10
25. 2020W (Charlotte) – 4/10
26. 1990 (Hogan I) – 4/10
27. 1994 (Hart/Luger) – 4/10
28. 2013 (Cena II) – 4/10
29. 2009 (Orton I) – 4/10
30. 2012 (Sheamus) – 3/10
31. 1991 (Hogan II) – 3/10
32. 2014 (Batista II) – 3/10
33. 2006 (Mysterio) – 3/10
34. 2000 (The Rock) – 3/10
35. 2021 (Edge II) – 3/10
36. 1995 (Michaels I) – 2/10
37. 1988 (Duggan) – 2/10
38. 2015 (Reigns) – 1/10
So that leaves me with a really good women’s Rumble, and a really bad men’s Rumble.
Very “win some / lose some”.
But what can you do?
Leave me your thoughts on this year’s show. And until next time… take care!