- Presented LIVE from the WWE Network on January 31st, 2021 from THUNDERDOME 2.0 in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL (No fans? No problem. As a Rays fan, I'm used to seeing that building empty, HAY-O!). Full disclosure: I haven't watched much WWE lately, so if I'm missing the small detail on a feud, I apologize in advance. On the Kick-Off Show, Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax regained the Women's Tag Team Titles from Asuka and Charlotte Flair thanks to interference with Lacey Evans who appears to have a relationship linked to Charlotte's father. Yeah, sounds like I'm missing some gold-tier content on Monday Night Raw.
- We are "treated" to a live performance from Bad Bunny with Booker T dressed as G.I. Bro.
- Royal Rumble: BY THE MOMENTS. You know the deal. Most eliminations, most appearances, going the distance, someone erased from the record books. The usual.
#11 is Peyton Royce and we desperately need the ring cleared. Ruby goes over the top buy hangs on. Billie and Peyton work together and Ruby feels jilted by their rekindled bonding. Royce with a knock-off Widow's Peak on Bayley. Victoria scoops up Peyton and gives her the real deal. #12 is Santana Garrett. SOMEONE ELIMINATE PEOPLE. She hits a handspring back elbow and who cares, the ring is too crowded. Belair has spent a lot of time teasing eliminations. #13 is Liv Morgan. Jillian reminds us she's in the ring and hits Kay with a sloppy Samoan drop. Riott Squad team up to toss Jillian over and Billie finishes her off at 18:44. She celebrates too long, and Billie Kay is dumped at 18:53. #14 is Rhea Ripley. OH PLEASE GOD, TOSS THEM ALL. Awesome dropkick to Storm and she's tossed at 20:02. Victoria hooks the Tarantula on Bayley, but Shayna interrupts and eliminates Victoria at 20:38. Ripley sends Santana packing at 20:58. #15 is Charlotte Flair. She rekindles her WrestleMania rivalry with Ripley. Meanwhile, Bayley slides out and powerbombs Ruby Riott into elimination at 22:33. #16 is Dana Brooke. The definition of a geek if there ever was one. She dives onto a pile of superstars with a senton. Everyone avoids a handspring elbow, so she goes to the opposite corner to hit Belair with it and nails Bayley with a swinging neck breaker. Peyton Royce eliminates Liv Morgan at 24:26. #17 is Torrie Wilson. I was hoping for a more random surprise like Jillian. She gets her sh*t in and Bayley is the latest victim of an X-Factor. Ripley avoids elimination and powerbombs Brooke to the apron for the elimination at 26:19. Kudos for that spot. #18 is Lacey Evans, coming out to Ric Flair's music and wearing a robe that looks not unlike Charlotte's. Charlotte goes on the attack, stomping Evans out of the ring. Charlotte tosses Peyton at 28:43. Shayna eliminates Torrie at 29:05. Meanwhile, Belair tosses Bayley at 29:11. NOOOO! #19 is Mickie James. I guess she's a Legend now? She gives Evans a kick on the way to the ring and you know the routine. She and Charlotte get into it as everyone else plays dead. Micki gets the spinning head-scissors out of the corner for old time's sake. #20 is Nikki Cross. WHAT IS THAT AWFUL MUSIC?! She hits the rip-cord neck breaker on Naomi and does the crazy routine even though she's clearly dropped the Sanity gimmick a long time ago.
#21 is Alicia Fox. "Another legend" as Tom Phillips says. Sure, if you say so. If Jillian is a legend, then Fox is one too. Suddenly, R-Truth's music plays, and Jesus Christ I don't know what's going on. He screams "wrong Rumble" and suddenly is chased into the ring by a parade of geeks. Suddenly, Fox pins R-Truth for the 24/7 Title at 34:00. WHAT AM I WATCHING? #22 is Mandy Rose. People are hugging in the corner clearly waiting for something to happen. Mandy with a pump knee and tosses Fox at 34:52. Then R-Truth pins her for the 24/7 Title at 35:02. What is that? 56 reigns now? #23 is Dakota Kai. She throws a bunch of clotheslines and takes Ripley down with a series of kicks. Evans eliminates Mickie with the Women's Right at 36:56. #24 is Carmella. Yay. Didn't see enough of her earlier. Ripley face-plants Kai on the apron and she's out at 38:02. Mandy tossed next at 38:18. Cross tries tossing Carmella, but Reginald saves. Nikki ends up on the apron and knocked out at 39:06. #25 is Tamina. She's STILL around? Carmella with another save from Reginald, but then he drops her at 39:33 as Tamina nails him with a Super-Kick. Ripley and Tamina slug it out to piped-in cheers. Naomi is due for a big elimination spot. Sure enough, she's stomped to the floor, but the feet don't touch. She grabs Belair's ponytail to pull her feet back up under the bottom rope and both save themselves from elimination. #26 is Lana. I guess her multitude of injuries healed. She goes for Ripley, because why the hell not. Naomi with a split-legged splash on Belair. #27 is Alexa Bliss. This should be interesting. She runs through her usual stuff, overly excited and being a total goof. Everyone gangs up on her and I'm begging for 5'0" Alexa to do the Big Show ROAR spot. Nope, never mind, the screens flicker and Alexa starts acting creepy as Ripley tosses her out at 44:47. Well, I didn't expect that. This was another pointless moment. #28 is Ember Moon. She comes in with the Eclipse on Baszler. Why doesn't anyone go for eliminations in these spots? #29 is Nia Jax. Try not to hurt someone when you clear the ring. Jax and Baszler unite and clean up. Evans is gone at 47:13. Moon is next at 47:25. Naomi gets launched at 47:39. Tamina gets a hope spot before being tossed at 48:26. Jax and Baszler start trading blows until Ripley interrupts and Jax tosses Baszler at 49:03. Lana hops on Nia's back and gets flung with ease. Lana leads Jax on a chase and Nia ends up going over the top rope at 49:50.
#30 is Natalya to round out the field and wrap up a ridiculously long 29-to-30 sequence. Jax and Baszler take their anger out on Natalya, NOT WEARING PINK AND BLACK. The sore loser club re-enter the ring and Ripley, Natalya, Charlotte, Belair, and Lana are left, and all are playing dead from that beating. Natalya betrays Lana almost immediately and tosses her at 52:01. Discus clothesline to Charlotte. She puts the boots to Belair and tosses Ripley across the ring with a release German. Ripley survives elimination and Belair tosses Natalya at 53:11. WE'RE DOWN TO THREE. POINT TO THE SIGN! Sorry, I played too much WWE 2K over the last 5-years. THEN THEY DO THE WIDE SHOT I WAS JUST REFERENCING BECAUSE KEVIN DUNN. Belair and Ripley double-team Charlotte, but the might of the Flair Bloodline WON'T BE DENIED. POINT TO THE SIGN, CHARLOTTE! POINT HARDER! Charlotte misses a boot and goes over the top. She hangs on from a rolling heel kick from Belair, but then a double-shot from Belair and Ripley finally eliminates Charlotte at 55:45. Belair showboats and both women go over the top but hang on and honorably re-enter via the bottom rope. Belair with a big forearm knocking Ripley off the top turnbuckle but she hangs on and slides in between the legs. Belair has another close call, and they slam each other face-first to the canvas. They go through a series of counters until Belair clotheslines Ripley over and out for the victory at 58:51. She gives a tearful post-match promo that's a bigger feel-good moment than simply winning the match while setting the iron-women record. Match was a lot of standing around, but they went with the right winner and seeing Victoria and Jillian got a smile from me. **1/2
- Peter Rosenberg pins R-Truth for the WWE 24/7 Title. Did he just call him "Michael Kaay" (the Yankees broadcaster) or did I mishear Michael Cole?
The referee finally catches up to Owens as he reaches a "practice ring" and here's Roman Reigns, running Owens over with a golf cart. I mean, Roman's blood ran over another guy who used a Stunner as a finisher, so it should've been obvious. Hey, Tropicana Field bleachers! Haven't seen you in a while. Owens again pulls himself to his feet at 9 and smacks Roman over the head with what I think was a foam food container. Roman no-sells the hell out of it and pummels Owens with right hands. Roman makes it personal, talking about Owens' father and grandfather, sparking the flame in Owens to bring the fight bac to Roman and plant him on a table with a Pop-Up Powerbomb. The table doesn't break, so Owens climbs some production crates and splashes Reigns through the table. Reigns is up at 9 without the need to use nearby assistance. Owens climbs a forklift and crashes through Roman and a table with a senton bomb! Roman again up at 9, but he's back down looking for space to recover. Owens with some trash talking, throwing Roman into nearby equipment. They work their way through Gorilla and sadly we cut to a replay, so we don't see who's camped out there tonight. They're on the entrance ramp now, with Roman hitting a Superman Punch and Spear that sends them crashing through the stage. Roman is up at 2, but Owens seems dead until he rolls off the stage and ends up on his feet out of pure luck. Roman has a pair of handcuffs as Owens valiantly fights, only to be overmatched by the larger and more alert Universal Champion. Owens fights off the cuffs again and hits a desperation Stunner. It's Owens in possession of the handcuffs now, attaching Roman to a low-laying piece of the stage. The referee reaches 9 and Roman sends him face-first into the set to knock him out. He nails Owen with a low blow and Paul Heyman returns from purgatory to unlock the cuffs. Um… Well, the handcuffs appear to not be cooperating tonight, so the referee has to play dumb and Reigns goes into what is generously a squat position to break the count. He traps Owens in a guillotine and chokes him out for the victory at 24:53. I thought they had one more trick up their sleeve (or at least an interference) but at least they didn't turn it into a spectacle. Ignoring the handcuff spot backfiring, this was a heck of a match and worth checking out. ****
#11 is John Morrison. He wipes out Shinsuke and goes after Edge. Woods with a flying DDT to knock Ali silly. They both end up over the top rope and Ali ends up eliminating Woods at 16:17. Big E is pissed and choke throws Ali out at 16:36. #12 is Ricochet. He dives in with a body press onto a pile of Superstars. Edge tries tossing him but Ricochet lands on the apron and takes Edge over with a head-scissors. #13 is Elias. At least he didn't enter #1 or #2. He plants Ricochet with a chokeslam and hits the Drift Away on Morrison. Carlito manages to throw a dropkick but is cut off with a high knee and tossed at 19:27. Was that air deflating from the needle being removed? #14 is Damian Priest. He hits Elias with a Cross Roads and lays into Morrison with a series of kicks. DID YOU KNOW HE'S THE ARCHER OF INFAMY? He tosses Elias at 21:18, making him my favorite Superstar for at least 2-minutes. Everyone camps in the corners, so Edge and Priest have center-stage. #15 is The Miz. He's in his 13th Rumble for those keeping track. He still has the Money in the Bank contract and uses it destroy the DJ stage from the performance earlier in the show. He hits Big E with the Skull Crushing Finale. Miz and Morrison with double-team work on Priest and Ricochet. Dolph tries being buddy-buddy and pays for it. Here comes Bad Bunny, pissed at what happened to his turntables. Meanwhile, Priest clotheslines Miz and Morrison out at 23:46. Bad Bunny adds insult to injury, diving off the top rope with a flying bunny press. #16 is Riddle. Yes, they dropped "Matt" hoping no one would notice they couldn't fire the sexual predators under contract. His exchange with Priest is second fiddle to a replay of Bad Bunny's spot. Riddle and Nakamura trade kicks. #17 is Daniel Bryan. Cole calls him the "sentimental favorite." STOP. You just jinxed it. He charges into the ring with corner dropkicks. He trades kicks with Ricochet until getting taken down with a German Suplex. #18 is Kane. WAH?! This is his 18th Rumble appearance and he's moving a bit poorly. He plants Edge with a Chokeslam for REAL old time's sake. Double Chokeslam to Riddle and Shinsuke. Choke throw elimination of Dolph at 28:32. Ricochet gets sent to the apron and chokeslammed off at 28:47. Bryan calls for a hug and somewhere Dr. Shelby smiles... until Kane gives Bryan a Chokeslam too. Priest calls his shot, fights out of a chokeslam and unloads with kicks before tossing Kane at 29:57. #19 is King Corbin. How is this gimmick still a thing?! Poor Daniel Bryan is just a punching bag for everyone. Shinsuke flips through the End of Days but walks into Deep Six and gets tossed at 31:17. #20 is Otis. He nails Corbin with a discus clothesline and plants Big E with a slam. Overhead throws of Priest and Riddle, but no eliminations. Wait, did they say Otis and Chad Gable (no longer Shorty G) are the Alpha Academy?! Corbin cuts off Otis' Vader Bomb, knocking him out at 32:50.
#21 is Dominik Mysterio. He runs in and gets planted with a spine-buster from Corbin. Why are they both wearing black and dark purple?! Dominik with a reverse head-scissors, eliminating Corbin at 34:12. Corbin vows revenge in the form of multiple 20-minute matches. Priest and Riddle fight each other to beat up on Bryan. #22 is Bobby Lashley, a.k.a. the CEO of the Hurt Business. He runs over Riddle and throws Dominik out at 35:48. Priest is clotheslined out at 36:02. Lashley and Big E meet in the middle like two freight trains and throw rights. Lashley escapes the Big Ending, Big E escapes a Jackhammer, and they go back to slugging it out. #23 is The Hurricane. Glad to see he wasn't blacklisted for appearing on an AEW PPV recently. He tries to shoulder tackle Lashley and goes for a Double Chokeslam as Lashley and Big E recreate the 2002 elimination to send Hurricane home at 37:55. Now it's Lashley's turn to punish D-Bryan. #24 is Christian. WHAT?! NO WAY! I honestly expected him at #5. He hangs up Lashley, allowing a triple-team of Lashley to send him out at 39:41. Christian with the Unprettier on Big E. Edge and Christian share a hug and Riddle interrupts like a goof. Double team wheelbarrow slam from E&C. #25 is A.J. Styles. Styles nails Christian with a Pele Kick and plants Edge with a short DDT. He teases the Phenomenal Forearm, but Edge avoids it and hits the Spear. #26 is Rey Mysterio. He comes in with a seated splash on Christian. Styles catches him off the ropes but Mysterio pushes off and sends him to the apron where Omos makes the save for Styles. Omos grabs Big E from the floor and pulls him over and out at 43:38. He puts the claw on Big E and throws him over the announcer's table to really add injury to insult. #27 is Sheamus. I think he's a babyface now. He clubs Riddle across the chest with a series of forearms, then moves on to working over Edge. Styles tries his luck and eats a back breaker. Christian throws rights but is nailed with a Brogue Kick. Bryan with Yes Kick and he eats a Brogue Kick as well. Omos saves Styles from the 6-1-9 and Mysterio is gone at 46:33 with another unofficial elimination from the big man. #28 is Cesaro. For the 10th time he's a DARK HORSE. He lays into everyone with forearms and gives Sheamus the Giant Swing. He gives Bryan the treatment too and I'm getting motion sickness from it. #29 is Seth Rollins. CALLED IT. He milks the entrance too. Cesaro greets him coming in with an uppercut. Seth avoids elimination and backs Cesaro into the corner with rights and chops.
#30 is Braun Strowman to round out the field, leaving us Edge, Riddle, Styles, Sheamus, Bryan, Christian, Cesaro, Rollins, Strowman and technically Orton. Strowman tosses Riddle down like a sack of groceries. Styles goes flying and Omos saves him AGAIN. Cesaro scoops Strowman up but Strowman escapes and tosses Cesaro at 51:08. Sheamus gets sent packing at 51:19. Strowman learns his lesson and tosses Styles where Omos wasn't a 51:36. Double Spear from Edge and Christian to wipe out Strowman. Bryan and Riddle light each other up with chop and kicks. Bryan wipes out Edge with the running knee but he's still able to avoid elimination. Bryan avoids the Unprettier and hits Christian with a knee as well. Bryan and Riddle rekindle their game while Rollins plays peak-a-boo from the floor. Riddle counters the triangle, putting Bryan over the top. Bryan hangs on and comes off the top with a missile dropkick. Rollins makes his move, nailing Bryan from behind and hitting the Curb Stomp. Bryan is gone at 55:21. DAMMIT. Riddle and Rollins trade blows for us with inside knowledge (or twitter). Riddle with the ripcord knee but Seth hangs on and Curb Stomps Riddle into elimination at 56:14. How can Rollins say himself and Braun, two men well into their 30's, are the future? Sure, compared to the 40-something Edge and Christian. Strowman plows through Edge and Christian and goes from corner to corner with avalanches. Edge blocks an elimination, holding onto a front face-lock. Christian from behind and both he and Strowman are out at 58:02. Edge avoids the Curb Stomp and Rollins is out at 58:14. RKO OUT OF NOWHERE BUT EDGE PUTS ON THE BREAKS AND TOSSES ORTON TO WIN HIS 2ND RUMBLE AT 58:32. This one felt a lot more energetic, even with the usual lull spots, and had more interesting special appearances and better mapped out spots. I don't know if I agree with Edge winning, but they went with the right calls all night, so might as well give them this one and see where it goes. ***1/2
Final Thoughts: A great Last Man Standing Match and the Men's Rumble makes up for the rest of the card, which was OK, but felt unspectacular. The women's match seemed like it lacked focus and never pulled in my attention, while the men's rumble, while nowhere near a classic, hit the right notes at the right times to cover for the moments where you know everyone's just waiting around for the next spot. Thumbs Up, though I personally recommend just watching Roman vs. Owens and the Men's Rumble and skipping the rest if you don't have 4 hours.