The SmarK Rant for WWE Royal Rumble 2021 – 01.31.21
Live from the award-winning and critically acclaimed THUNDERDOME. Isn’t this the second one? Are they both award-winning AND critically acclaimed?
Your hosts are Michael Cole and the usual crew.
WWE Title: Drew McIntyre v. Goldberg
Drew immediately spears Goldberg and they head to the floor before the bell, and Goldberg spears him through the railing. Back in for the official start of the official match officially, and Drew hits the Claymore for two. Another one misses and Goldberg spears him twice, for two. Jackhammer gets two. And we get SHOCKED TWO COUNT FACE from Goldberg as he’s finally learned WWE Style. Another spear misses and Drew puts him away with another Claymore kick at 2:30. Goldberg looked like an old man out there and this was completely pointless. And he’s still got a bunch of matches left on his deal, apparently! 1/2*
Smackdown Women’s title: Sasha Banks v. Carmella
Sasha immediately goes for the Bank Statement, but Carmella bails to escape. Back in, Sasha gets the ropewalk wristlock, but gets distracted by Reginald and that allows Carmella to run her into the table and take over. Edge-O-Matic gets two and Carmella goes to a chinlock, granting NO SEPERATION. That’s the worst thing you can do to someone! They fight to the top and Sasha fights her off and hits the double knees, but she misses a charge and Carmella wraps some of Sasha’s hair around the rope and stomps her down in a cute spot. They should save that one for Bianca Belair. Carmella tosses her, but Reginald catches her and Sasha takes him down, which somehow means that REGINALD gets sent back to the dressing room. That’s like a Joey Marella level stupid call. Carmella hits a dive that gets two and complains to the ref about that dumb decision, which allows Sasha to get a pair of rollups for two. Frog splash misses and Carm takes her down with the Code of Silence, but Sasha quickly escapes that. She goes up and Carmella hits a pair of superkicks on the way down, and that gets two. Sasha rolls her into the Bank Statement and Carmella taps at 10:24. Not sure why we needed the exact same finish as the last PPV, but the match was fine. **1/2
Meanwhile, Big E gives Xavier a pep talk about the wrestling gods, but Sami Zayn stops by to rant at them and learns that you can’t just call a black guy “brother”.
Bad Bunny is apparently a thing that exists. Moving on.
Women’s Royal Rumble:
Bayley is #1 and Naomi is #2 and apparently she’s been gone for a long time. I honestly hadn’t noticed. Naomi takes her down with a rana after some trashtalk from Bayley and hits SHE CALLS IT THE REAR VIEW but can’t get Bayley out. Bianca Belair is #3 at 1:42 and runs wild on Bayley but can only get her to the apron. Bianca and Naomi do some acrobatic reversals and fight to the ropes in a cool sequence, but Billie Kay is #4 at 3:32 and interrupts them. But she does commentary instead of joining the match, while Bayley hangs Belair by the hair but can’t quite get her to the floor. Shotzi Blackheart is #5 at 5:00, complete with tank, and she runs wild for a bit on everyone but can’t get Belair out. Shayna Baszler is #6 at 6:50, but Billie Kay offers her an 8×10 and gets punched for it. Shayna runs wild for a bit as this is taking a bit to get going. Toni Storm is #7 at 8:22 and she runs wild for a bit and trades butt shots with Naomi in the epic showdown we knew had to be coming. Shayna tosses out Shotzi at 9:36 for the first elimination, however. Jillian Hall is #8 at 10:00 as we’re really reaching for surprise entrants. So she’s the one to finally buy into Billie Kay and they team up on Naomi as Ruby Riott is #9 at 11:35. And she runs wild for a bit but gets suplexed by Toni Storm and everyone kind of piles up in the corners again. Victoria returns at #10 at 13:04, still looking the same. She runs wild for a bit and Peyton Royce is #11 at 14:49. They tease an Iconics reunion but get interrupted. Santana Garrett is #12 at 16:19 and she runs wild for a bit as there’s a million people in there and this is going nowhere. Liv Morgan is #13 at 17:45 and she runs wild for a bit. Why did Shotzi have to get thrown out early and friggin’ Jillian Hall gets to hang in there for 15 minutes? Speaking of which, Billie superkicks Jillian out at 18:55, but Ruby puts her out at 19:00. Rhea Ripley is #14 at 19:28 and hopefully she’ll clear the deadwood. She runs wild and tosses Toni Storm at 20:05 while Shayna chokes Victoria out and to the floor at 20:44. Rhea clotheslines Garrett to the apron and boots her to the floor at 21:00.
Charlotte Flair is #15 at 21:22 at we’re at the halfway point. She goes after Rhea with chops, while Bayley powerbombs Ruby out at 22:39, sliding under the ropes to do so. Dana Brooke is #16 at 23:03 and she goes after Rhea and apparently she’s full of moxy now. She runs wild with all her moxy and new attitude and does some handsprings and shit and then we can all go back to forgetting about her again. Liv tries some fancy stuff on Bayley on the apron and Peyton boots Liv out at 24:30. Torrie Wilson is #17 at 25:02 and she runs wild for a bit while Rhea powerbombs Dana Brooke onto the apron and out at 26:26. Lacey Evans is #18 at 27:03, complete with Charlotte’s robe and endorsement from Ric. This storyline is so stupid. Like, we know that Lacey is happily married because they spent months harping on it as her single character trait. Charlotte and Lacey fight onto the floor and that poor robe pays the price. So does Peyton, who gets thrown out by Charlotte at 28:58. Shayna kicks Torrie out at 29:11 and apparently Bayley was thrown out at the same time by Bianca. Mickie James is #19 at 29:39 and I guess she’s been relegated to the Legends section now. I’m liking the catsuit. She slugs it out with Charlotte and takes her down with a rana, but Charlotte stomps her onto the apron. Nikki Cross is #20 at 31:20 and she runs wild for a bit. Alicia Fox is #21 at 32:53 as this match is pretty heavy on the hasbeens. This brings out R-Truth, who apparently has the wrong Rumble match. The flood of 24/7 geeks allows Fox to roll him up for the title at 34:08. Mandy Rose is #22 at 34:22 and she throws Fox out at 34:22, and Truth rolls her up to retain his title at 35:06 and then runs away successfully. Dakota Kai is lucky #23 at 36:00 and Lacey punches Mickie out at 37:10. Carmella is #24 at 37:58 while Dakota takes a CRAZY facefirst bump off the apron and out via Rhea Ripley at 38:28 and then Rhea throws Mandy out a bit more gently at 38:40. Nikki Cross immediately throws out Carmella, but she lands on Reginald and goes back in to kick out Cross at 39:22. Tamina is #25 at 29:30 and she superkicks Reginald, which results in Carmella hitting the ground and being eliminated. She goes after Rhea for a slugfest while Naomi gets booted out by Belair, but they do the stupid technicality where she lands on her BACK so she’s not eliminated. So she gets back in with Bianca’s help. That’s just dumb. She literally went over the top and landed on the floor, she’s OUT. Lana is #26 at 41:59. Alexa Bliss is #27 at 43:43 and everyone gangs up on her, but then she uses magic or some shit and shorts out the screens, and Rhea tosses her out at 45:00 anyway. Ember Moon is #28 at 45:28 and she comes in with the Eclipse on Shayna and nearly misses. She runs wild for a bit. Nia Jax is #29 at 46:54 and she teams up with Shayna as expected and Lacey is kicked out at 47:29. Ember gets tossed out by Nia at 47:40. Naomi is thrown out at 47:55. Tamina goes out at 48:38, but then they turn on each other and slug it out and the camera is cutting all over the place. Nia throws out Shayna at 49:20. Have they forgotten about #30? Nia charges Lana and gets taken out at 50:04. And finally Natalya is #30 at 50:18 as they went 4:00 between entrants there for some reason. And the tag champs beat everyone down on the way out. Natalya tricks Lana and throws her out at 52:13.
Final Four: Natalya, Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley and Charlotte
Natalya puts Rhea on the apron and they slug it out, but Bianca puts Nattie out at 53:29 and we’re left with the three obvious winners. Rhea and Belair double-team Charlotte, who fights them off and has to point to the fucking sign in the middle of a fight. She charges Ripley and gets backdropped to the apron, and Rhea and Bianca team up and put her out at 56:06. And then Rhea turns on Belair and they both hang on the apron and agree to a truce to get back in the ring. Rhea gets knocked to the apron again, but slides in and puts Belair out there, and they collide and both are out in the ring. They trade slam attempts and then trade finisher attempts, and Belair clotheslines her over the top for the win at 59:10. She definitely earned that one. Most of the match was pretty pedestrian stuff but the last few minutes were excellent. Not enough to overcome the dull bulk of the match, though. ***1/4
Meanwhile, Miz and Morrison meet up with Bad Bunny and my internet connection is all fucky so I have to reload and miss whatever this was.
WWE Universal title, Last Man Standing: Roman Reigns v. Kevin Owens
Owens hits a pop up powerbomb and Reigns hits a superman punch right away, but they’re both up and they fight to the floor. Roman hits him with the spear out there and beats on him with the stairs, but Owens sends him into the LED boards and puts him on a table, but can’t do his dive because Roman follows up him to the stage and they slug it out. There’s a weird metatextual feel to this, as they fight into the fake crowd and do spots amidst the TV screens. It’s like being out of bounds in a video game or something and kind of wrecks the illusion they’re going for. Owens beats on Roman’s leg with a chair, but Roman beats him down for another count and KO is up at 7. Owens comes back with the stunner and Roman teases the big fall, but then throws Owens off the stage and through a table. But he’s up at 9. Why would you waste a big spot like that on what is essentially a near fall? Kevin escapes to the back, where they have another ring set up, but Roman runs him over with a golf cart in a wholly original spot. Come on, that was a pretty famous spot they’re stealing. I guess the memes will write themselves though. That only gets an 8 count, as Owens fights back again and powerbombs Roman onto a table and splashes him through it. That gets an 8 count, so we get ANOTHER Dynamite tribute as Owens climbs up a forklift for a senton to put Roman through the table, which gets a 9 count. So they head back to the award-winning and critically acclaimed Thunderdome portion of the stadium, where Roman spears Owens through some of the LED boards, but Owens rolls to his feet at 9. So Roman finds handcuffs, but Owens fights him off with a stunner and cuffs him to a light post. So Roman knocks out the ref to stop the count, because otherwise he would lose due to being handcuffed too low to technically stand up, see. There’s a fine line between “being clever” and “completely missing the point of the match” and that’s way past the line. Clearly Roman was not knocked out or unable to continue the match. Paul Heyman comes out and frees Roman after about 2 minutes of fighting with the cuffs while ANOTHER ref has to pretend to count and then pretend to stop counting while Heyman struggles with the cuffs. And then once he’s out, Roman puts Owens into the guillotine and puts his lights out to retain at 24:48. Didn’t like this one at all and they stretched this feud one match too many. The match was just a bunch of “falling from high places” spots with nothing of note in between them, and the finish in particular was terrible. It wasn’t technically bad for the most part, but I wasn’t into it. **1/2
Edge is #1 and Randy Orton is #2 and they’re immediately brawling in the aisle and around ringside as Sami Zayn is #3 at 1:30. Sami and Orton team up and work on Edge’s arm while Cole notes that #3 is the worst number to draw. #3 JUST WON A RUMBLE EARLIER TONIGHT! Mustafa Ali is #4 at 3:20 and he goes after Edge as well, but Jeff Hardy is #5 at 4:44 and he makes the save. But then he walks into an RKO OUTTA NOWHERE and Orton decides to hit a bunch more of them as well before Edge takes him out with a spear. So they head back to the floor to continue their brawl, as Edge DDTs him onto the announce table. Dolph Ziggler is #6 at 7:18, and he sneaks in and throws out Jeff Hardy at 8:10. Zig Zag for Edge and Shinsuke Nakamura is #7 at 9:09, complete with old music. Nakamura runs wild while the referees assist Randy Orton. Carlito returns at #8 at 10:40, looking ripped, and he hits everyone with backstabbers and can’t quite throw Zayn out. They’ve apparently been trying for months to get him to come back after seeing him on GLOW. Xavier Woods is #9 at 11:35 and Sami lays him out right away. Big E is #10 at 13:50 and the New Day double-teams Sami and destroys him before throwing him out at 14:59. John Morrison is #11 at 15:24 and he trades kicks with Nakamura while Woods and Ali hang from the ropes, but Ali wins that battle at 16:19. This angers Big E and he puts Ali out at 16:41. Rick O’Shea is #12 at 17:00. I thought he lost a qualifying match? He gets a few flips in and Elias is #13 at 18:39. He runs wild for a bit and dumps Carlito at 19:28. Damian Priest is #14 at 20:15 and I was hoping they’d do the rock star gimmick but it’s already ARCHER OF INFAMY from the announcers over and over. Priest throws out Elias at 21:20 while we cut to Orton getting work done in the training room.
The Miz is #15 at 22:05 and the Dirt Sheet team up to run wild, and then turn on Dolph as well. But then Bad Bunny (who is apparently “the biggest star in the music business” according to the announcers) comes out for a distraction and Priest throws both guys out at 23:52. And Mr. Bunny dives onto them as well. You’re no Snoop Dogg. Like seriously, is he even a real celebrity? I watch Todd in the Shadows religiously and I don’t know most of the pop stars he talks about but even then I’ve never heard of this guy. Matt Riddle is #16 at 24:50 and does nothing. Daniel Bryan is #17 at 26:23 and he does some nice stuff with Ricochet and Hizzoner Mayor Kane is #18 at 27:55. He chokeslams everyone and throws out Dolph at 28:35. Ricochet gets chokeslammed out like a goof at 28:55. Daniel Bryan wants to HUG IT OUT, but Kane chokeslams him anyway. Priest escapes a chokeslam and dumps Kane at 29:56. They should just pull the trigger on Priest here at this rate. Baron Corbin is #19 at 30:30 and he puts Nakamura out at 31:18. Otis is #20 at 31:46 and he runs wild for a bit with suplexes but goes up like a moron and gets shoved out by Corbin at 32:56. Bryan beats on Corbin with the Yes Kicks in the corner, and Dominik Mysterio is #21 at 33:38 and he immediately eats a spinebuster from Corbin, but takes him out with a headscissors at 34:13. So, like, is there going to be any actual stars in this match or are they just waiting until the end for dramatic effect? Like who among this group thus far is supposed to be a serious contender for a Wrestlemania main event? Daniel Bryan? Maybe? Bobby Lashley is #22 at 35:39 as the parade of midcard continues and he tosses Dom immediately. Priest gets clotheslined out at 36:10, and Lashley slugs it out with Big E. Hurricane is #23 at 37:10, fresh off his AEW cameos. He goes after Lashley and that ends his night at 37:58. Hurricane’s night, not Lashley. Christian also returns at #24 at 39:00 although given his issues this is gonna be a short night for him. Everyone gangs up and gets Lashley out at 39:44 as Christian pulls down the top rope to help, and he reunites with Edge after taking out a couple of guys. Riddle wants a piece of that hug, so E&C turn on him and beat him down. AJ Styles is #25 at 41:04 as we FINALLY get a main event guy in there. He goes after Edge with a DDT, but misses the Phenomenal Forearm. Rey Mysterio is #26 at 42:38, wearing his new sponsored beer mask. I’m so glad they made sure to tell me all about that. He sends AJ to the apron, but the bodyguard pushes him back in and then pulls out Big E at 43:39. Everyone piles up in the corners again as Sheamus is #27 at 44:53. He starts beating on people from the apron and hits Riddle and Edge with a double clothesline on the way in, and then boots the shit out of some people with Brogue Kicks while Olmos pulls out Rey Rey at 46:40. Cesaro is #28 at 46:59 and he reunites the Bar but turns on Sheamus with the Giant Swing and then gives Daniel Bryan an even Gianter one. Seth Rollins returns at #29 at 48:49 and this would have been a great time to repackage him into something that doesn’t suck, but NOPE. Cesaro tries to throw him out and he holds on and fights his way back in. Braun Strowman is #30 at 50:29 to finish off the field and he throws out AJ, but Olmos catches him again. Cesaro is out at 51:15, and Sheamus at 51:24. AJ is out at 51:39, but Edge spears Braun to stop the run.
Riddle and Bryan trade chops and Bryan hits Edge with the knee and throws him out, but Edge hangs on and stays on the apron. Bryan and Riddle go back to their battle and fight for a triangle, but Bryan goes up and hits him with a missile dropkick. And then Seth catches him from behind and tosses Bryan at 55:25. Riddle sends Seth to the apron and they fight out there, but Strowman slugs Riddle out at 56:20 with help from a Rollins stomp.
Final Four: Edge, Christian, Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman
Rollins gives Braun a peptalk and they appear to team up, but Braun turns on Rollins and then takes out Edge and Christian with corner splashes. He takes Edge to the apron, but Edge hangs on with a guillotine and Christian dumps Braun at 58:11 while sacrificing himself. But then Edge dumps Rollins at 58:30, and Orton returns to attack Edge, still in the match after an hour in the back, but Edge throws him out at 58:33 to win the match from #1. Really, they desperately needed to make a bunch of stars and they picked semi-retired EDGE to win this thing? And win via Roman Reigns “laying in the corner for an hour” method on top of it? This was not a star-studded Rumble in the first place, to say the least, and after last year’s wacky and drastically different Brock run, this felt particularly uninspired and paint-by-numbers. This was an OK Rumble with a bunch of fellas doing OK stuff and we’re still no closer to having a compelling Wrestlemania main event than we were when it started. ***
For me, these were two of the more mediocre and skippable Rumbles I’ve seen in a while. In particular the men’s one was a disappointment because they had all these directions they could have gone with it and just chose to do nothing with it instead. Look, Edge was a great World champion and a big star a decade ago, but his time is OVER. Let’s build someone new. Like Bad Bunny, apparently.