Reviewing the Review: Royal Rumble 2015

We’ve finally arrived at one of the biggest shows of the year as we’re almost to the Road to Wrestlemania. While it seems like there are multiple ways to get to the biggest show of the year, it seems like this is destined to end with Reigns vs. Lesnar as the match that not many people want to see. Let’s get to it.

Cesaro and Tyson Kidd beat the New Day in a good pre-show match. It seems like New Day is already a lost cause and I can’t say I’m shocked. There isn’t much to the team other than a lot of sweating, but they’re fine as the face version of 3MB. Kidd and Cesaro have potential but I don’t see them being anything more than the challengers of the month.

Ascension beat the New Age Outlaws in the opener and it was exactly what it was supposed to be. I still like Ascension and it’s clear where they’re going with the team, but they went a long way around to get there. I’m also not sure what other veteran teams they can beat as the Dudleys don’t seem to be a possibility and the APA is retired. I’m sure it ends with Usos vs. Ascension for the belts, maybe at Wrestlemania, and the match could be good if they go with an old 80s formula. That being said, I’m not sure how much a win over the Outlaws is supposed to impress me in 2015. They were past their prime in 2000 and they’re still kicking around?

Heyman offered the Authority the use of Lesnar to take out Sting. That’s an odd choice as I don’t want to see Sting ground into dust from Brock’s stare, let alone what might happen if they had contact.

The Usos retained the Tag Team Titles over Miz/Mizdow in a match that no one wanted to see again. This feud died months ago, right around the time Naomi was forgotten. Why the writers will never understand that stories can save dull wrestling is beyond me but it’s a lesson that would save us a lot of headaches.

The Bellas beat Paige/Natalya with a forearm in the fourth straight tag match of the night. This looked like filler, was wrestled like filler, and ended like filler. In other words, it was filler because they’ve blown through Natalya vs. Nikki about five times already.

The old school Rumble promos don’t make me think anyone but Reigns has a chance.

Now we get to the real treat of the night as Brock Lesnar defended the World Title against John Cena and Seth Rollins. If there’s one thing WWE can get right, it’s carnage. That’s exactly what we got here as these three guys just beat the tar out of each other for over twenty minutes and it became who could possibly survive.

Cena and Lesnar both got to throw around the Stooges in a power off, leaving Rollins to steal the show with his high spots. The biggest of said spots was a flying elbow from the top rope to drive Lesnar through the announcers’ table. The idea here was that Lesnar broke a rib and was out of the match for a few minutes, which he sold like he was dead instead of just injured. However, this caused the lone problem of the match, which happens all the time in WWE main events.

With Lesnar down, Cena and Rollins traded finisher attempt and the fans weren’t all that impressed. Yeah they popped some, but there was no question about the kickouts. That’s become a trope in WWE main events and it’s something they need to change. Have them hit secondary moves here or something, but stop this whole “I hit a finisher and then you hit a finisher” sequence. It was stupid when Orton and Cena did it and it worked about as well this time. Even an STF attempt would work better than the AA, but that’s the formula they keep sticking with for some reason.

Before we get to the ending, I have to give Rollins some praise. He’s gone from the guy I thought would be the white Kofi Kingston to a guy who looks like he belongs in the World Title scene and stood toe to toe with John Cena and Brock Lesnar in a war. This guy is going to be a star someday and his face turn is going to blow the roof off the place. Just imagine the pop when he curb stomps some big time heel.

Anyway, Lesnar came back in and went into Beast Mode for the F5 and pin on Rollins. There is some serious money to be made with Lesnar as a face (assuming he isn’t back in MMA right after Wrestlemania) and it would be the easiest turn in years. He really wouldn’t have to change anything as he would just start fighting heels in the same way he is now, probably without Heyman to guide him, giving him an out to lose via DQ etc. It’s not a necessary turn, but he’s going to be the face at Wrestlemania anyway, so why fight it at this point?

That brings us to who he’ll be the heel against at Wrestlemania….and of course it’s Roman Reigns. I’ve spent far too much time talking about how Reigns isn’t ready and the 8000 stories they could go through to make things better (and those ways do exist. This story isn’t guaranteed to be the disaster people are sure it’s going to be) so instead we’ll look at the Rumble piece by piece.

First up we’ll look at the returns. This wasn’t the best part of the match as once you get past Bubba Ray’s good return, which didn’t lead anywhere as he wasn’t even out there five minutes, the returns took a big hit. I mean, the Boogeyman, Zack Ryder and Diamond Dallas Page? They were out there about four minutes in total and the last one was gone about halfway through the match. This can be a major strong point for the match and it fell totally flat here.

Before we get to the really bad things, let’s touch on the good stuff. Bray Wyatt had a REALLY strong stretch in there and looked like the monster he used to be. There’s still a lot of potential for him and I’m interested in where he’s going from here, even if it’s fighting Undertaker (though that depends on what you do with Undertaker going forward. I’m sure I’ll get to that at some point). Wyatt was the iron man at just under 47 minutes and made it to the final batch.

That gets us to the end of the really good/memorable parts (even Kofi’s save wasn’t anything special this year, though it was a matter of time until we got to the Rosebuds saving someone) so now we’ll get on to the really big flaws. We’ll start with what ended Wyatt’s, as well as far many others’, night: Big Show and Kane. This is where the Rumble went from being boring to just flat out bad.

At the end of the day, the Rumble set up a ton of potential with guys like Reigns, Rusev, Wyatt, Ziggler, Ambrose and Cesaro around near the end. That opened the door for a really hot ending in the same vein as Reigns vs. Rusev in the Money in the Bank qualifying battle royal back in July. What we got instead was the wrath of the Big Balds as Kane and Big Show threw out Ziggler, Wyatt and Ambrose in short order before getting in a quick fight with each other, allowing Reigns to dump them out at the same time.

So yeah, at the end of the day, it came down to Reigns vs. Big Show to end the Rumble, despite it being the least interesting story in years. I’ve yet to hear from anyone who actually cares about these two fighting but it closed the Royal Rumble to send Reigns to the biggest show (hardy har har) of the year. Why would we want to see these young and interesting guys when we can see Big Show being the same character he’s been since 1999? I mean, it worked for the New Age Outlaws in the opener so it can work here in the main event. It’s like bookends!

If that wasn’t enough though, they had Kane and Big Show go after Reigns again, only to have the Rock make a return for the save. The fans weren’t pleased even with one of the biggest stars ever out there, and can you really blame them? It didn’t help that they seemed to mistime things as Rusev came back in after not being eliminated and was tossed with ease in a final screw you to the fans with one more blast of false hope.

That brings us to the real problem of this match: the lack of doubt. Daniel Bryan came in at #10, eliminated Tyson Kidd, and was out in ten minutes, being eliminated between Adam Rose and Fandango. He was little more than a throwaway entrant as it seems WWE isn’t interested in doing anything with him this year. Here’s the thing: I can accept that. It may not be the most popular move, but Bryan is fresh off major neck surgery and has been back literally less than three weeks. I can understand WWE being hesitant to put the title on someone 33 years old and coming off a major injury, especially after they nailed his win last year.

What I can’t understand though is the idea to put him out that early. At the end of the day, this Rumble was over the second Bryan’s feet hit the floor. That elimination sealed every big of doubt away forever as it was just a matter of time until Reigns showed up, cleaned house (by which I mean three guys. Quite the way to showcase your new star WWE) and won the match. It was right out of 1993 where Undertaker was thrown out and there was zero doubt that it was going to Yokozuna (who just happens to be related to Reigns).

All the drama was gone and it became really, really boring. There was some hope, but Big Show and Kane took away whatever chance there was of the match being interesting. Daniel Bryan didn’t need to win, but he needed to be there to keep the crowd under control until the end. Having him lose clean, especially to Wyatt, is fine but don’t have him get thrown out in ten minutes after barely doing anything that early on.

The overarching problem with this Rumble was the lack of drama. Much like many bad Rumbles, there was zero doubt as to who was winning. There can be fun stories to be told if you stack the deck against them, but the final three (excluding Rusev) had as much drama as Mr. Perfect and Rick Rude vs. Hulk Hogan in 1990. On top of that they threw out Bryan ala throwing out Hogan early in 1989 and the results were just as lame. It didn’t help that the rest of the Rumble was horribly uninteresting with only one fun surprise and nothing else worth talking about. I could see it being the worst Rumble ever but 1999 is hard to top.

Overall, this show needs to be incredibly grateful for the classic World Title match because without that match, it’s a bunch of lame tag matches and a dreadful Rumble. That being said, the World Title match is good enough to make me forget about the earlier weak stuff, which is a common case in wrestling (see also Wrestlemania VI, where the show is pretty fondly remembered due to one match alone). WWE can salvage Wrestlemania’s main event, but this show left a horrible taste in a lot of mouths due to Reigns and Reigns alone being shoved down our unready throats.

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  1. good read. and agree 100%

  2. rampah says:

    Firstly I want to apologize for my bad english. It isn’t my first language and I dropped out of school nearly eleven years ago, so it’s a long time since I’ve written more than a few words together in it.

    Well then.
    I might be what people think of as a casual wrestling fan. I’ve never been at a wrestling show and I was a whole more into wrestling when I was a boy. But I’m hitting 30 this year and I realized that the current product isn’t really aimed at guys my age. However it still entertained me over the years. Although I’ve never seen a show live (mainly due to the time gap here in germany) and always whatched only parts of raw (fast forward is a bliss), I was always able to find fun in the product.
    I used to watch the PPVs the week after they aired, when I find the time to watch three hours. I avoided spoilers and reading reviews for those few days between, so the PPVs still held exitement for me.
    But in the Rumble to Mania period in 2013 that changed for me. Since then I only watched the big fours (Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam, Survivor Series) spoilerfree. And I also tend to use the fast forward button way more often today.

    The Rumble itself was always my favorite WWF/WWE show. Not Mania, not Summerslam. But since 2013 the rumble matches keep getting more and more boring for me.
    Yes, the idea that “anyone could win” is dead longer than that. But until 2013 it wasn’t so painful obvious for me who was winning.

    I remember in 2013 the annoying “not really once in a lifetime” storyline, written all over the place. It made the rumble less interesting, because I knew, no matter what, John Cena would “overcome the odds”. I haven’t watched the match lately, but I remember it being not that bad until the (at least for me) incredible boring and anti-climate paring witch Cena and Ryback. There was just no way that Ryback (or any other superstar not named Cena) would win this and that killed the exitement for me.

    In 2014, Batista came back. I thought, they couldn’t be so stupid to not include Bryan in the match. But that moment, when Rey Mysterio’s music hit…awful. And when Punk was tossed out, simply any tension was gone.
    Two years in a row the rumble resulted in boring predictabillity. And that is the worst that could happen to a match like the rumble: Boring. When people you don’t like win, it is part of the product and doesn’t need to be bad. But when you know what is going to happen, because they promote a rematch in some strange overhyped buildup or the momentum of a upcoming Disney movie, it gets bad.

    Now 2015. I believe when you will do the review again next year, it will be an D- or even worse.
    It stands out in particular of being the worst or second to worst rumble to me because of so many reasons:
    – Why are Miz and Truth starting? Why not Miz and Mizdow? Or some other two that have actually heat for another and the fans care about?
    – Bully Ray is brought back as an ECW original. Yes that was decent, as he might me the ex-ECW wrestler in the best shape as of today. But why not include Devon? Why don’t have a showdown with the Wyatts vs the Dudleys? The moment was there but it ended poorly.
    – The returning names with exception of Bully Ray didn’t create that much impact. Those returns can really put a rumble way up, but not so this year. DDP was nice to see, but after that literally nothing happened in that field. And he came in at #14 or #15 I believe.
    – The moment when Bryans’ legs hit the floor, any doubt for me was gone considering the win of Reigns. And he wasn’t even into the match at that point because it really was that early. Combine that with no more nostalgia returns and the rumble mood was gone.
    – The Mizdow segment was incredibly stupid. You have a guy that is really funny in this character and over with the fans and an awesome (hehe) heel in Miz. The story of “the Miz screws Mizdow” here writes itself, hell maybe if you don’t want to go that route keep him at least a few minutes in the ring to capitalitze on the momentum and make it more entertaining.
    – Why exactly were the three “fired” guys in the rumble when they are booked like this? They were just there and left absolutely no impact in that way.
    – The worst part of it, was the dominance of the washed up giants. I like both of them but that was just to much for me. It was just boring to see them eliminating one guy after another with so little effort. The second most over guy in the rumble? Here you go Dolph, you had your five minutes of doing nothing of note. Iron man Bray Wyatt? He can last that long but simply is no match for the power of the giants. And the list goes on. It made the last part of the rumble so boring and combined with the EPIC argument between Show and Kane (Who could have seen that coming?) and the overall predictability of Reigns winning it just became dull. It didn’t really make Reigns look good too. He seemed to barely survive against those two until his cousin had to rescue him in a cheesy moment.
    – Rusevs awesome return made him look like a stupid goof. This has to be the only time I heard an american crowd cheering for a russian character.

    I thought before the rumble that they booked themselves in a corner with only one world title and just 2 1/2 men that were serious contenders (Reigns, Bryan and a possible returning Orton).
    But I didn’t think it would become this boring, and that after last year.

    Yes, people will watch Wrestlemania anyway. But I think stuff like that hurts the interest for other PPVs way more, and especially the rumble itself.

    The tag matches are forgettable, but the triple threat was gold. All three men came out of it looking like legit world champions, thats very good.
    But the inclusion also showed, how Lesnar has been wasted in that dull rematches with HHH and Cena. Yes, the outcome could always have been mediocre matches like the one with Taker. But when you use the idea of having a guy fight only once each few months as a special attraction, the pairings should have been special attractions too. If Lesnar leaves after Mania, there will likely have been no Lesnar vs Orton, Lesnar vs Bryan, etc. and that is a shame, because the possibility was there.

    PS: Keep up the good work. I often enjoy reading the reviews here more than watching the show itself.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Your English was fine by the way.

    To quickly go over some of your complaints, Truth started because he can get fans into a match quickly. It’s the same reason he opens a lot of house shows.

    As for D-Von, it simply may have been he didn’t want to appear. That’s something a lot of fans forget: it’s not always WWE’s idea. HHH covered this in his Austin podcast. They’ll call someone up and say “We want you in the Hall of Fame.” “No.” “Uhhhh….ok.” It’s not always on WWE.

    The fired story has been going in circles for weeks. I really don’t get why Rowan wasn’t just in the Rumble officially as it’s not like Axel did anything of note with it. Agreed on the way they’re being used though, but that might be more that I’m sick of the story.

    I’m fine with Lesnar being around every now and then, but having him as champion this long is a problem.

    Overall, you’re absolutely right on the lack of drama hurting things. That’s fine every once in a while but like you said, this is the third straight year with no question as to who is winning. I can accept Rock vs. Cena II as the first one was such a huge money maker for them that the sequel made sense. Last year thankfully they called an audible for Bryan. THis year though…..yeah. Reigns is popular but not to the degree they’re hoping for. He isn’t being pushed like a superstar but that’s the reaction he’s expected to get. I don’t care for it either.

    Thanks. I’ll be doing these as long as people read them.

    rampah Reply:

    I guess D-Von not being avaiable is the most logical reason.

    It’s not, that Truth didn’t do bad as an entrant from the start (actually I think he’s great on the mic, and didn’t know that with the house shows and it makes sense). But when two people with a fresh feud or a longtime rivalry start, it sets for a great beginning. The last years were always great in this with 2014 Punk/Rollins, 2013 Jericho/Ziggler, 2012 Miz/Riley and 2011 Punk/Bryan, this year felt somehow underwhelming.

    The championship issue has become a mess. With only one world title (and the urge to keep the value of the Intercontinental title low) that really wasn’t the best idea. But what annoys me more is the fact, that Lesnar has had 4 Matches with Cena and 3 with HHH since he returned. And there were a lot of fresh and believable options for him. I could have undestood one match and in the case of Cena two. But the two more HHH snorefests and the Cena rematch were pointless. And Rollins showed how well even “small” names could have done with him.

    I liked Rock/Cena I. Epic buildup, very good match. But this “Cena has to redeem himself, because he had such a bad year in 2012″…it just didn’t interest me at all. I would compare it to the situation today, that I wouldn’t want Bryan vs The Authority again. It was done shortly before with very, very much time. I didn’t need to see it again. Combine that with two athor rematches in HHH/Lesnar and Punk/Taker, which both had a very biased buildup so there was no doubt who was winning, and WM29 felt like “meh” to me.
    Cena could have gone over Rock the year before, if needed that much, leaving Rock/Lesnar as an big money match. Punk/Taker could have been Title-Streak vs WM-Streak without Bearer involved. Or do HHH/Punk and Cena/Taker, etc.
    To this day WM29 seems like a turning point to me. Rock hasn’t wrestled a match since then, the Lesnar match was in that form a waste, Taker was still in shape, Punk still there and not yet loosing his smile.
    Yeah, Captain Hindsight is strong but the following title reigns by Cena (same old stuff, but the one Henry promo was awesome), Orton (great work by him, but overshadowed by the omnipresent authority), Bryan (injury sucks and thus ending in Cena again) and Lesnar (leaving without title matches) have all been underwhelming to me and I keep loosing my interest for the product as a whole.

    I know that another turning point will come and it will get interesting for me again eventually. But more of all I would like an entertaining rumble match or an interesting booked Survivor Series. Mania will be solid every year, there simply is too much money to be made, that they won’t put the effort in it.