2015 Royal Rumble HITS:
Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins: I defy you to find a better multi-person World Heavyweight Championship match. This was, by far, Brock Lesnar’s best match since winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and it definitely in the top 5 matches of his entire career. Each competitor brought an incredible dynamic to this match, and there were a number of believable near-falls through-out. This was a star-solidifying performance for Rollins, as well. Rollins was made, here, and will be in the main event scene for years to come as a result of his performance here. Bonus points for his incredible top-rope-to-Spanish-announce-table elbow, and the (main roster) debut of the Phoenix Splash. If for no other reason, order the WWE Network to see a replay of this match.
Bubba Ray Dudley: The first, and best, of many nice surprises in the 2015 Royal Rumble match. Bubba Ray Dudley was welcomed home with wide open arms by the fans in Philadelphia, and he looked great. Could this be the beginning of a “Bully Ray” run in WWE? One could only seriously hope. The WWE is in need of strong heels right now, and Bully Ray spent a lot of time “in Nashville” perfecting being exactly that.
Diamond Dallas Page: At 59 years old, Dallas Page looked awesome in the Royal Rumble. I never thought we’d have the chance to see the Diamond Cutter again, but we got 3 great shots at it during the Royal Rumble match. Another awesome surprise.
Cesaro/Kidd (w/ Adam Rose) vs. The New Day: Ordinarily I don’t include pre-show matches on my Hit List, but this was definitely good enough to warrant a mention. I love the new “Brass Ring Club” t-shirts that Cesaro and Adam Rose were wearing, and they brought a certain intensity that opened up the show very well. Looking forward to seeing what comes of their tag team, and hopefully an eventual run with the championships.
The Rock Returns: This is a hit simply for the crowd dynamic following his surprise return. The Rock kicks some ass, cheers. The Rock endorses Roman Reigns, boos. The Philadelphia crowd passionately boo’d something The Rock did. It was just a really interesting, and exciting, thing to watch.
2015 Royal Rumble MISSES
The Royal Rumble Match: I am not here to crap all over Roman Reigns winning the match. As a matter fact, in hindsight, looking at the 30 guys WWE gave us in the match, he was an absolutely legitimate contender to win. However, this was not a strong Royal Rumble match, by any stretch of the imagination. It started off on a weak note (Miz and Truth don’t exactly scream excitement), and the middle portion of the match was especially heavy in the midcard jobber department. Would I have liked to see someone else, like Bray Wyatt, win? Sure. But I didn’t hate it nearly as much as the live Philadelphia crowd (or the subsequent internet fallout). The past two Royal Rumble matches have been disappointing. They have been disjointed, and the live crowds have been very vocal with their displeasure. Next year, might I suggest giving Pat Patterson a ring?
The Bellas vs. Paige/Natalya: Just a bad match. I rewatched this match again this morning, as through the lens of having company over during the event, I didn’t think it was that bad. It was. It was a Botchamania Special Event, and disappointing given how hard Nikki Bella has worked to be taken seriously as a credible in-ring performer. Paige and Natalya don’t click as a tag team, regardless of their quirky relationship on Total Divas. This was a waste of otherwise valuable Pay Per View time.
Overall Event: Not a big miss, but certainly not a hit either. I was excited going in to the Royal Rumble, and I left feeling somewhat underwhelmed. The New Age Outlaws vs. The Ascension was exactly what I thought it would be, but I still felt like there was something more that could have been done there. There wasn’t enough good on this show, as good as the good was, to outweigh how bad some of the bad was. It’s the story of the current WWE environment. I can only hope something changes, soon, as WrestleMania is only two short months away.
#CancelWWENetwork: What a stupid knee-jerk reaction by a vocal minority of WWE fans. #CancelWWENetwork trended, worldwide, until well into Monday morning. Granted, not all of the comments attached to the hashtag were negative, largely the tone was “because you chose Roman Reigns to win the Rumble, we’re cancelling our WWE Network subscription”. That’s completely ridiculous. Did you call your cable company and demand your moneyback after an unsatisfactory finish of a traditional PPV? No, absolutely not. The Network is much bigger than just the Pay Per Views, and is an important part to the sustainability of the WWE as a whole. Yeah, you might not be happy that Roman Reigns won, but by cancelling your WWE Network subscription, you’re taking money directly out of the pockets of your sweetheart Rumble pick, Daniel Bryan. It was a stupid reaction, followed by a stupid hashtag, and it actually deflated any point that those promoting it were trying to accomplish. It made them look like childish crybabies, and I hope WWE cancels their subscription for them, and then charges them double when they decide to try and sign up again pre-WrestleMania.