WWE Royal Rumble 2019: Reactions & Review

Here’s my final thoughts on Raw and SmackDown Live’s WWE Royal Rumble 2019!

Bobby Roode and Chad Gable (c) vs. Rezar & Scott Dawson

Reactions: This randomly announced matchup gave off old Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament vibes. It featured a championship duo taking on a makeshift tag team in a bout that was wrestled in a very old school manner. It wasn’t flashy by any means – it was simply proficient and nothing more. Kind of confused at the end result, however (wouldn’t it have made more sense for the heels to win so both their respective teams could have gotten a tag team title shot at a later date?). This was…well, a match that was just there to fill time for the Kickoff Show.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Rusev (c) (with Lana) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE United States Championship)

Reactions: Like I mentioned in my preview piece for this event, Rusev and Nakamura have developed an underrated rivalry against one other. This unique pairing have also produced a number of good to great matches thanks to their ever evolving chemistry. This match rests firmly in the good category. There were a few extra elements added to this meeting that helped set it apart from its predecessors. I enjoyed watching both men switch up their usual Kinshasa into a Superkick counter exchange, plus Lana’s inclusion during the finish was slightly interesting. The title change genuinely surprised me, which gave this championship encounter a bit more life than originally expected.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Kalisto vs. Hideo Itami (Fatal Four-Way Match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship)

Reactions: 205 Live’s premier athletes know how to kick off…well, the Kickoff Show! This multi-man contest was packed with innovative move exchanges, intense action, and the hard hitting offense we’re used to seeing from the Cruiserweight roster. There were a few rough spots and bouts of miscommunication at several points throughout, but a majority of the bout was an inspired sprint worth witnessing. The closing stretch provided plenty of extra entertainment to the match as a whole (all those vicious kicks were quite the sight to see!). I definitely enjoyed what I saw from all four men here.

Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars

Asuka (c) vs. Becky Lynch (WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship)

Reactions: I expected a quality encounter between these two ladies and that’s exactly what I got. Asuka brought her stiff strikes and tight submission game to the dance against Becky’s suplex expertise and extra tough demeanor. This match started out with your usual grappling work that led into a strike exchange. Afterwards, both women tore into each other with a slew of of their signature maneuvers.

After Asuka drove Becky into the outside ring mat, we entered into an even more brutal portion of this title match. The submission sequences that made up the finish of this encounter ended up being the best part of it all. We even got a rare Cattle Mutilation submission sighting! Asuka’s back on top and its matches like this one that will keep her in that prime position.

Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars

The Bar (Cesaro and Sheamus) (c) vs. The Miz and Shane McMahon (WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship)

Reactions: Imagine my surprise when I found myself on the edge of my seat by the finishing moments of this surprisingly good tag match. While the starting and middle sections were a bit plodding, Shane did enough of his daredevil routine to liven them up a bit. After Cesaro countered his Coast to Coast into a Big Swing, me and the live crowd came alive. I really need to stop under-appreciating Shane O’Mac – his punches still look horrendous, but he clearly knows how to put on a spirited performance. The drama built to a fever pitch and the outcome was quite the shocker. I enjoyed this way more than I expected to.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Sasha Banks (WWE Raw Women’s Championship)

Reactions: Going into this one, it was easy to see that Ronda and Sasha would put on a match befitting of their marquee storyline development. This beef quickly grew heated, which gave it the extra push it needed to garner even more attention. With such hate brewing between both Raw competitors, this title match had all the workings to morph into a quality matchup. Thankfully, we got that very scenario here.

Sasha was more inspired than usual against an always game Ronda. Both ladies pushed each other to the limit – Sasha used her strong grapple work to work over the champion, while Ronda did more of the same as she looked to prove she could wrestle just as good as her opponent. As the match wore on, we bore witness to some brutal submissions and a few maneuvers fueled by hate. Watching “The Boss” I was used to seeing in NXT was certainly the highlight of this standout bout. And judging by the post-match interaction between both women, it looks like this feud isn’t quite over yet. A rematch is something I’m very much looking forward to now!

Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars

2019 Women’s Royal Rumble Match (30-Woman Royal Rumble Match for a Women’s Championship Match at WrestleMania 35)

Reactions: The second Women’s Royal Rumble had a lot to live up to after 2018’s first incarnation of the match. While this edition of the now annual battle royal didn’t surpass the first one, it still turned in a good performance. The added presence of several NXT and NXT UK Superstars made up for the absence of past Women’s entrants (I still hope we get a Jazz appearance someday). There were some interesting storylines dispersed throughout this Women’s Royal Rumble – the stable shenanigans of The Riott Squad, Lacey Evans’ main roster in-ring debut, Nikki Cross’ madness, and the amazing saves by Naomi and Kacy Catanzaro were certainly among those big moments.

There was definitely a lull in the action felt near the early portions of this Women’s Royal Rumble. But as the match continued, it got a bit better as more NXT and NXT UK talent hit the ring. Lacey, Ember, Natalya, Bayley, Alexa, Nia, Charlotte, and Becky rekindled old rivalries and looked the strongest. The hot finishing stretch between Charlotte and Becky was wonderfully told and made for a satisfying conclusion. The first Women’s Royal Rumble still stands tall as the best. But this second installment was still worth watching right up to its crazy conclusion.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Daniel Bryan (c) vs. AJ Styles (WWE Championship)

Reactions: Was it just me or did something feel decidedly off about this match? I loved it when it took place at last year’s TLC PPV, but this rematch was sadly a step below it. The champ and the challenger didn’t slack on their in-ring work, though – Daniel and AJ performed like the technical, high-flying wizards they’ve always been. But for some reason, this one didn’t connect with me like their previous PPV meeting.

A lot of the action was more of a repeat of a familiar formula from both men – extended limb work from Daniel followed by a strong comeback sequence by AJ. Which is then followed up by a series of back and forth counters and some unique move exchanges. The longer run time, slightly disinterested crowd, and deflating interference finish knocked a few points off of this bout’s final score. It still managed to be good, though. But I have to say this – I’m perfectly content with not seeing another match between these two for a while, which is something I never thought I’d say…

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Brock Lesnar (c) (with Paul Heyman) vs. Finn Bálor (WWE Universal Championship)

Reactions: While a bit short, this Universal Championship match stayed awesome all the way throughout. Once Finn planted Brock with a running dropkick as soon as the bell rang, I knew what we were in for – a knockdown, title match worthy brawl. Brock works best with opponents that are smaller than him, so it came as no surprise to see him gelling so well with Finn. To say that this match turned out better than another Braun vs. Brock match is an understatement.

The Suplex City routine didn’t run too long this time around since Brock sold the hell out of his injured ribs. This change in formula added more to the match and gave Finn more of a fighting chance. Finn’s fast-paced comeback made me and the live crowd come unglued! It truly looked as if we were going to crown a new Universal Champion on this evening. But that moment never came to pass. Even though I was let down by the ending, this title match ultimately delivered.

Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars

2019 Men’s Royal Rumble Match (30-Man Royal Rumble Match for a World Championship Match at WrestleMania 35)

Reactions: The best type of Rumble is a fun Rumble. The 2019 Men’s Royal Rumble was jam-packed with an amazing array of fun moments. There’s just too many to speak of, but I’m still going to try and list my favorite ones:

– Elias and Jeff Jarrett’s opening segment
– Kofi Kingston’s clever methods of saving himself from elimination (as usual)
– the quick elimination of No Way Jose
– Titus O’Neil and Curt Hawkins’ “under the ring” exchange
– Nia Jax’s unexpected inclusion

Along with all of those wholly entertaining events, there was a ton of hot action thrown in for for good measure. Seth, Drew, Braun, Andrade, Joe, Rollins, and a whole bunch of other Superstars kept this match alive with a quickened pace. That pace was magnified due to the fine work by damn near everyone involved. Props goes out to the NXT and NXT UK talents who put in good performances as well. The final four section of this year’s Men’s Royal Rumble was one of the most exciting ones yet. Seth picking up the win after being decimated by Bobby was the perfect way to solidify his big win. I loved each and every minute of this Royal Rumble!

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Match of the Night

The Men’s Royal Rumble Match!

Final Verdict

The 2019 Royal Rumble event was pretty worthwhile. The marquee match that (deservedly so) received the main event spot stole the show. The Universal Championship match, the two Women’s title bouts, and the Cruiserweight Fatal Four-Way match were definite standouts. Even the SD Tag Team Championship match added a bit of extra value to the show. The WWE Championship match was a bit of a disappointment, plus the random Kickoff Show tag match was a waste of time. Even with those blemishes, the 2019 Royal Rumble was still a good time.

Final Score: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars

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