Royal Rumble 2017 Analysis: Cena Makes History, and Orton surprises everyone!
The 2017 Royal Rumble is now in our rear view mirror, and needless to say it is surrounded by a great deal of controversy.
Randy Orton winning the Rumble is not the worst choice to win, but it's most certainly not the best. Orton has been "cold" since his match with Brock Lesnar at Summerslam where he not only got defeated, he got his ass kicked. Since then, he's lost to Bray Wyatt, joined the Wyatts, won the Smackdown Tag Team Titles, lost the titles, and has just been treading water since then. His match with Dean Ambrose two weeks ago on Smackdown was incredibly dull, so him winning the Rumble and getting a main event match at Wrestlemania is even more confusing.
Especially considering the WWE Champion is now John Cena...and who on earth is excited about another Cena/Orton match?
The Rumble match itself was alright, but incredibly underwhelming considering the talent advertised to be involved. Strowman looked dominant, and continued to be built up well, and I was happy Baron Corbin got the honor of eliminating him. Corbin has been working hard and impressing lately, and while not even having a chance of winning, deserved a good spot in the Royal Rumble. Tye Dillenger coming out at number 10 was somewhat predictable, but him being the only NXT talent was disappointing. The match didn't pick up until the end when all the big names came out. Brock Lesnar killing everyone in the ring was quite a moment, only to be thwarted by Goldberg so quickly added to their soon-to-be match. The Undertaker had a few good moments, but he looks terrible. He moves like he's constantly in pain, and while he probably has a match or two left in him, I'm beginning to want to see him retire for his own health. I nearly destroyed my TV when I heard Reigns music at number 30, and thought it was the WWE trolling the fans by placing Reigns in that spot. Doesn't exactly promote good will. He did have his moment with 'Taker, and like I Tweeted last night, if we are going to see Reigns against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania with Reigns playing the heel I'm all for it. Orton eliminating Reigns was a sigh of relief, and while fans were happy Reigns didn't win, I don't think fans were happy for Orton winning either.
So the question is, where do we go from here?
Does Bray Wyatt win the title at Elimination Chamber and Orton challenges him at 'Mania?
Does Styles win back the title, and we see Orton vs. Styles?
Or are we going to see Orton/Cena again? I sure hope not!
The rest of the main card was pretty good. As expected, A.J. Styles against John Cena stole the show, even if it seemed like Styles did most of the work. I get why they put the title on Cena and had him break Ric Flairs record, but I don't agree with it. Cena as the 16 time World Champion just does nothing for me. As I stated in my Royal Rumble Predictions column, the options for Styles are limited with the title at Wrestlemania. While a Styles/Orton match for the championship would be something knew, I think Styles deserves a bigger spotlight on the card, and if that's threw Shane McMahon then so be it.
Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens had a much different match, but still good. Reigns continues to be carried to good-to-great matches by solid in-ring performers. Owens really went all out in this one! The frog splash to Reigns threw the table, and crashing threw the chairs were two crazy spots. I was for sure we were on our way to a Reigns title victory, but popped when Strowman came out and cost him. At that moment, Braun Strowman became my favorite wrestler.
It seems like the WWE is building to a Reigns/Strowman match at Fastlane, followed by a Reigns/Undertaker match at Wrestlemania. I'm fine with both, but I just hope Reigns can start a slow-burn heel turn culminating at Wrestlemania. While at times it might seem I'm down on Reigns, I'm actually not. I just think he'd make an outstanding heel before becoming a baby face.
The other two matches on the card were good, as expected, with the expected outcome. Charlotte and Bayley had a decent match, and the right finish. Bayley should become the Women's Champion, but she deserves at the big stage of Wrestlemania, and that's also where Charlottes pay per view win streak needs to end. Neville and Rich Swann probably put on the best cruiserweight match since the CWC. The right man won, as Neville is the clear highlight of the Cruiserweight Division. Now if only they can find the proper face to challenge him.
The pre-show matches were what they were. I missed Smackdown's six women match, but was surprised that the faces won. Way to build up Mickie James' return. I was glad Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson finally won the Tag Team Championship, it's been way over-due as they're the only team that should've beat The New Day for the belts. At least they have the belts now, and hopefully they can have a substantial run. Nia Jax beating Sasha Banks makes sense, but just makes Banks look even more like a loser. Please WWE, keep her off television until after Wrestlemania and have her return as a heel against the champion Bayley, or move her to Smackdown to dominate the division there.
It was a solid show, but the Rumble was a little bit lack-luster. I give the show a 7 out of 10 for a strong card, a weak Rumble, and probably not the best-of winners. I guess all that's left is to see what WWE can do with what they've done after the Rumble. It's all about the follow-up...no matter what we say or critique about the Rumble, the WWE has the ability to make even the worst booking decisions manageable.
We will find that out in a few hours with Raw. Until then...