26th Jan2015

Royal Rumble 2015 – Results & Review

by Chris Cummings

RR-2015

We are a few hours removed, as I write this, from the end of the 2015 Royal Rumble. I didn’t stay up to watch it live this year like I normally do because the booking for the show hasn’t interested me enough, and the matches weren’t exciting enough for me to stay awake until 4am (UK-time) to watch them. Last year’s event was a controversial one, with Daniel Bryan’s name being chanted throughout the rumble-match itself which was won by a returning Batista. The response from the fans was so vehement that WWE were forced to insert Bryan into the WrestleMania 30 main event, where he won the title in New Orleans. Now, a year later, Bryan has just returned to WWE from a severe neck injury and is back in the fan’s hearts as their firm favourite. This year, unlike last, Bryan is IN the rumble match, and a solid favourite, for fans, to go to WrestleMania 31 and fight for the title. Let’s see what happens shall we?

The undercard was a strange one. A bunch of tag-team affairs which have had no real major-build to them and aren’t exactly “big-time” contests. The first of which occurred on the pre-show kick-off and saw Kofi Kingston and Big E from the tepid babyface faction The New Day, accompanied by their team-mate-who-never-wrestles, Xavier Woods, against Tyson Kidd and Cesaro, a fresh and fantastic newly formed team of super-workers, accompanied by Natalya and for some reason, Adam Rose and his gang of plebs, The Rosebuds. The match itself was good. Kofi did most of the work for his team, and Cesaro and Kidd had a nice showing, hitting some cool new team-spots and showing their abilities separately too. The ending of the match, which lasted about fifteen minutes, saw Cesaro uppercut Kingston from the outside of the ring, and Kofi fall into Kidd’s finish, allowing Cesaro and Tyson to pick up a victory on the pre-show of one of WWE’s biggest annual shows. I hope they go forward strongly with Kidd and Cesaro, the two of them are fantastic wrestlers who seem to have a good chemistry together, and they could have top class matches with the likes of The Uso’s and The ‘Dusts.

Cesaro & Tyson Kidd beat The New Day.

Going into the official live show itself, we are welcomed by Michael Cole, JBL and Jerry Lawler and we head into our opening PPV match, The New (Old) Age Outlaws, returning to the ring again after a segment on last week’s RAW, taking on the new-to-the-main-roster team of The Ascension. The match went longer than it should have. The Outlaws should really have been there to do a quick job to the younger team of big strong muscle-bound guys. The Ascension, for those of us that are familiar with them from their NXT run, aren’t exactly top-notch in the ring, and they benefit from short matches. This was tedious and boring, and ended with The Ascension hitting their finish, The Fall of Man, on Billy Gunn for the victory. Not sure what WWE are planning to do with this monster-heel team going forward, but I can’t see them being around for long.

The Ascension defeat The New Age Outlaws.

The second PPV match was another tag team encounter, with the WWE Tag Team Champions, The Uso’s, defending their titles against challengers The Miz and Mizdow. How Damien Sandow has managed to make this stunt-man character work to his benefit and become a popular babyface out of it is proof of how good he is. These two teams have been working together way too often lately, working tag and singles matches with each other on most television show episodes. The interest in the match began and ended with Mizdow. The fans chanted for him, and booed everything else, including the extremely talented but stuck-in-a-creative-rut Uso’s. Mizdow, as is usual, didn’t get in the match much at all. The ending saw The Uso’s pick up the victory after hitting the splash on The Miz, retaining their Tag belts. These teams need to move on to fresh pasture and do something new, and The Uso’s need to build their characters too, the fans are beginning to react to them with indifference, which is a shame considering how bloody good they are.

The Uso’s defeated The Miz & Mizdow.

Next, another tag match, this time with the Diva’s getting in the ring. WWE Divas Champion, Nikki Bella, along with her twin sister Brie, took on Natalya and Paige. The match was clumsy for the most-part and the two teams didn’t really gel. There were some okay spots from time to time, but Paige didn’t get enough chance in the ring, in my view, and the ending was abrupt and bland. Brie pulled Paige off the ring apron as she was about to tag a fallen Nattie, in the ring, and Nikki nailed Nattie with a forearm for the three count victory. Bellas win, no one cared.

The Bella Twins beat Natalya & Paige.

With the undercard tag team matches over and done with, and only an hour of the show complete, we move on to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match. Champion, Brock Lesnar, defending against John Cena and Seth Rollins. Adding Rollins to this match, which was initially going to be another Brock/Cena match, was a good call. Rollins was the glue, as he often is, that held this match together and brought life and energy to it. Cena did what Cena always does, nothing more. He smiled at times when he should have been showing intensity, called spots loudly, and hit his terrible offense of shoulder blocks. He hit his AA finish way too often too, and it was kicked out of no less than five times, which kind of begs the question as to why he isn’t using a new finishing move if that one is so useless. Brock hit suplexes on both guys and brawled with them, and Seth did plenty of running around. There was a big spot involving Cena spearing Lesnar through the ringside barrier which looked painful, and a little later Rollins hitting a diving elbow from the ring onto Lesnar who was positioned on an announce table. Brock sold this to the point where stretchers and doctors were being brought to ringside as the announcers questioned whether “The Beast” would be able to continue. For over five minutes, Cena and Rollins worked a singles match in the ring and had a decent back and forth. They have a fine chemistry together, and I’d say that Cena’s best in-ring showings in the past six months have been with Seth. Suddenly, as Cena and Rollins were winding up in the ring, Brock hit the ring, threw Cena to ringside and hit his finish on Rollins for the win. It was a sudden burst ending that seems to suggest that Brock Lesnar will be going to WrestleMania 31 as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. This could be very interesting. This was the best match so far, and the ending opens plenty of possibilities, depending on who wins the Royal Rumble match, which is next.

Brock Lesnar defeated John Cena & Seth Rollins.

The Royal Rumble match has been one of my favourite gimmick matches over the years. It’s the time when WWE begins to build to WrestleMania, and the match itself has seen some of the biggest names in WWE history win. Steve Austin. The Rock. Hulk Hogan. John Cena. Ric Flair. Shawn Michaels. Bret Hart. This year, there are a few possibilities for a winner, with the obvious favourite being Daniel Bryan, and others such as Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose being other plausible winners. The match began in a strangely low-key manner, with The Miz and R-Truth kicking things off. This didn’t set an exciting or big-match tone, and the two kicked and punched a bit. The first surprise entrant of the night soon appeared in Bubba Ray Dudley, fresh off his lengthy TNA run as Bully Ray. Bigger than when I last saw him, it was cool to see him again, and the Philly crowd, home to the original home of ECW, popped for Bubba. He eliminated Miz and stayed in for a few minutes. Soon, Bray Wyatt entered and eliminated Bubba and some other jobbers. This began a section of the match which we have seen in previous years. We saw it in 1994 with Kevin “Diesel” Nash. We saw it in 1997 with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. We saw it fairly recently too, with CM Punk. This year, Bray Wyatt stood in the ring, awaiting an entrant, which he quickly eliminated, and this repeated itself a few times, with superstars such as Sin Cara, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and a surprise-comedy-entrant in The Boogeyman (remember him? Yeah, wish I didn’t either). This segment of the match ended when Daniel Bryan entered at number 10. He got the pop of the night, the Philadelphia fans chanting “yes” as he made his way to the ring, and went at it with regular-rival, Bray Wyatt. A bunch of mid-carders followed, including Fandango, Stardust and Tyson Kidd, and the third and final “surprise” entrant, DDP, who got a nice cheer and hit a Diamond Cutter on Stardust. Rusev came out, eliminated Page and had a decent showing. More mid-card acts followed, from Goldust, to members of The New Day, Adam Rose, and others. During this time, and after not very long in the ring, Daniel Bryan was randomly and suddenly eliminated from the match by Bray Wyatt. It wasn’t a big spot, and the fans were in shock. Many stood with their mouths open, just flabbergasted. Their chosen favourite had been eliminated mid-match by a guy who has been treading water on WWE television for months, in Bray Wyatt. This began the downfall of the Royal Rumble, as the WWE fans booed the hell out of the match from then-on, rivalling the response from last year. Reigns came out and got booed, thoroughly and absolutely, by the Philly crowd. The announcers attempted to put Reigns over as a bigtime babyface, but the fans chanted for Daniel Bryan and booed every bit of offense that the once-over Roman Reigns dealt. As each superstar entered, most were booed, and soon there was a mild and awkward mediocre hum in the air, a sound of dissatisfaction and disappointment, a reluctance to even boo, but rather stand and watch in apathy at what a stubborn creative team had forced onto PPV again. Not learning from last year’s mistakes, WWE ruined their own match, and made Roman Reigns and other babyface workers such as Ryback, look like shit in the process. Dean Ambrose got a decent, but not great, reaction, and Ziggler, coming in at number 30, did too. The other entrants in this time were more mid-carders who did nothing of note, such as Titus O’Neil and Jack Swagger. Mizdow came out and was quickly eliminated, though he did get cheered. Kane and Big Show entered, and this is where the match went from bad to worse. Ziggler, the most popular man in the match for a moment, was dispatched by Big Show and Kane, easily and blandly. Ryback suffered the same fate, with Big Show and Kane eliminating him. Swagger too. Keep in mind that Big Show has been pushed as a main attraction for almost twenty years, and has never lived up to his potential or his hype. Kane has been in WWE since 1995 and has worked as Kane since 1997. Neither of these guys should be in the final five in a Royal Rumble match in 2015. They were, along with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. Rusev was still there too, though he was outside of the ring, out of sight. Ambrose was soon eliminated by, yes, Big Show and Kane, leaving the fans to boo and angrily respond to three men they didn’t want to be in the final four of the match. Reigns ousted Big Show and Kane. The fans jeered and booed, so Big Show and Kane hit the ring again and attacked, trying to use their heel prowess to get the crowd on Reigns’ side. It didn’t work. The Rock returned to WWE, and got the blandest reaction I’ve seen him receive, ever. He pummelled Big Show and Kane to help his cousin. Rusev then jumped in the ring, but taking the heat from what could have been an interesting finish, Reigns eliminated him easily and immediately. The fans looked on in distain and booed as The Rock embraced the winner of the 2015 Royal Rumble, Roman Reigns. Triple H and Stephanie came out at the end to look at Roman from the stage, and we saw a brief clip of Lesnar watching from backstage. That was it. Roman Reigns wins. Daniel Bryan was eliminated in the middle of the match, randomly. Bray Wyatt, who eliminated Bryan, did nothing of note later on, he was dispatched of without difficulty eventually. No-one shines except for Reigns. It was like WWE were creating a new John Cena, live on PPV, to the detriment of the show, the fans and the superstars.

Roman Reigns won the Royal Rumble Match.

And that’s it. I enjoyed the kick-off match, and the triple threat title match was decent, but the rest of the show was either bland and poor, or just plain bad. This was the worst PPV I’ve sat through in years, and the most predictable and poorly-booked Royal Rumble match I’ve ever seen. Roman Reigns, who should have looked strong and been getting a solid response as the babyface winner, looked terrible as he was being given “the rub” by his cousin, The Rock, in the closing moments. Just awful. The Road to WrestleMania begins with a car crash and I’m not sure whether WWE will be able to clear the destruction in time for the annual extravaganza in order to give the fans a show they can get excited for. Wow.

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