wrestling / Columns

411 Wrestling Fact or Fiction: Was Drew McIntyre the Right Call to Win the Royal Rumble?

January 29, 2020 | Posted by Jake Chambers
WWE Drew McIntyre Royal Rumble

Welcome back to the 411 Fact or Fiction – Wrestling Edition, I’m your host, Jake Chambers. Every week, Fact or Fiction poses statements on pro-wrestling history, culture and current events and then challenges writers to explain why they believe each statement is totally factual or completely fiction. No middle ground will be tolerated!

We’re taking a break this week from the 411 Wrestling Road to Wrestlemania Fact or Fiction Invitational Tournament to focus on some Royal Rumble weekend fallout. However, we’ll be back with the second half of the Round 1 bracket next week.

This week’s guest is: Robert Leighty Jr..

Robert does the heavy lifting as 411’s reporter for WWE Backstage and the various documentaries (such as this great Chronicle episode on John Morrison). He sits through all that talking and thoroughly recaps the main points and succinctly translates the gist of the interactions. At least for me, I’d rather read a Leighty Jr. report than sit through those actual shows!

Check out his clear and spirited prose for last week’s Backstage Report that featured Becky Lynch and CM Punk. He has the smarts of a good critic and the temperament of a patient, long-time fan, which is often a good counterbalance to some of the more extreme voices out there in the pro-wrestling opinion-verse.

So let’s see what how he handles the fallout from the Rumble!

Statement #1: CM Punk being on WWE Backstage has been a complete waste of time.

Jake Chambers: FACT – I think we can officially confirm that CM Punk did not “change the culture” with his select appearances on Backstage, as promised. Short of one crazy shot at The Miz caught on camera kind of by accident, Punk has said nothing controversial or even interesting. The lethargy for pro-wrestling he told us about for years in interviews and on social media turned out NOT to be work. Dude doesn’t care about the WWE and has only contributed to the boringness of the “product” since retuning and becoming a generic talking head on some empty faux-talk show. Can’t he try another MMA fight instead of this?

Robert Leighty Jr.: FICTION – I’ve had the duty of covering Backstage and the show has turned into one I look forward to every week. I believe everyone involved has had great chemistry together and you can see that they are just having fun. Punk making his return to anything WWE related was the biggest thing to happen with the show and it immediately started the rumors that Punk was coming back to the WWE to wrestle. That hasn’t happened and I think it has soured some on what he has been doing on the show. For me his appearances have been enjoyable and I am just happy to see him enjoying talking about pro-wrestling again. That was never more evident that this past week’s show where he just seemed to be having fun and seemed at ease talking about something he once hated. We may have to just accept the man never wants to wrestle again and if this is the way we get him around the business, that is better than nothing, and I would never call that a waste of time.

Statement #2: Following their victory at Worlds Collide, Imperium are currently the best faction in the WWE.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – I like Imperium better as a 3-man tag team than a 4-man faction, because aside from Alexander Wolfe getting pulled from the Worlds Collide main event, he’s never really felt like an organic member of the group. I can’t go with Undisputed Era either as they lost the two major 4-person faction matches they’ve had recently, first at Wargames and then against an Imperium one member down. Therefore, I’m going to have to go with Seth Rollins’ Monday Night Messiah faction, now that they’ve added the grossly underrated Buddy Murphy and the RAW Tag Team titles. This faction seems mostly focused around one goal, securing Rollins spot at the top of the flagship show in WWE, and I believe they can do it.

Robert Leighty Jr.: FICTION – I will still run with The Undisputed Era as they seem like a better team/faction while Imperium is more WALTER wrecking dudes and nobody having an answer for him. Part of that could also be that I don’t get to see much of Imperium outside of WALTER while the UE have dominated NXT airwaves for over a year. Even in the match on Saturday the story was that the UE had answers for everything other than WALTER and that’s why they ultimately lost. WALTER is basically a one man team and that is not to short change those around him as they are fantastic, but the UE seem to be nearly all equals even if Cole is the main cog in the team. Clearly they are the two best groups in the WWE, but Rollins’ group is starting to gain ground and should be fun to watch in the coming months.

Statement #3: While watching the Women’s Royal Rumble Match, you believed anyone other than Charlotte had a chance of winning.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – They need to do something about that match, like ban all actual regular contenders for the women’s title. Considering that the women’s “rosters” on the two main brands are pretty thin, people like Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Becky Lynch, and even Asuka, Natalya or Namoi, would get cycled through for title shots on a monthly basis, so it makes no sense for them, in kayfabe terms, to even bother to go through the trouble of winning this match. If you’re Charlotte, why not just sit out the Rumble and then win whatever championship at Elimination Chamber? With the only other rumoured favourite to win, Shayna Baszler, not coming into the match until #30, (and this match not being the main even guaranteeing Rousey wasn’t going to be involved) pretty much every other entrant was an eye roll up to that point.

Robert Leighty Jr.: FACT – I am a member of a sports board that talks mostly about Pennsylvania High School sports, but there is also a wrestling section and we have a PPV pick em contest. 75% of the people involved picked Shayna and that would have been my choice, but I wanted to be different and went with Rousey getting a surprise win. Once it became clear that Rousey wasn’t there I had belief that Shayna coming out at 30 was going to be the winner and we would get her heading to Mania against Lynch. So, yes there was a time during the match I believed someone other than Charlotte was going to win. Shayna was the only one that had a chance outside of Charlotte and when she was tossed then you knew what was coming as apparently we can’t have a WrestleMania Women’s Title match without Charlotte involved and I get it, but it seemed like this was a good time to give someone else a shot. With that said, Charlotte/Becky has a ton of history and I am sure they will deliver.

Fact or Fiction – Quick Hits
– one sentence is all you need for this FoF lightning round!

1. You wished Ronda Rousey had returned and won the Women’s Royal Rumble.

Robert Leighty Jr.: FACT – Well, she was my pick and I am still waiting for that one on one match with Becky Lynch.

2. You wished John Cena had returned and won the Men’s Royal Rumble.

Robert Leighty Jr.: FICTION – We are past Cena winning Rumbles and he doesn’t need to win the Rumble to get a way to WrestleMania.

Jake Chambers: FACT – If the wrestling world was fair, Cena would be retiring with a Tom Brady-like 6 Royal Rumble wins to go with his 20+ world title reigns.

3. Pro-wrestlers never really retire.

Robert Leighty Jr.: FACT – I’m sure there is someone out there that legit retired, but I am of the assumption that there is a dollar price or match that would entice every retired wrestler and they just weren’t offered it.

Jake Chambers: FACT – Even Stone Cold kind of wrestled a match when he was a coach on Tough Enough.

¡SWITCH!

Statement #4: You’d be happy to never see another ladder match again.

Robert Leighty Jr.: FICTION – I am a sucker for gimmick matches like a cage match, hell in a cell, and ladder match and I will never get tired of seeing them. I will always go into a ladder match wondering if those involved can do something I’ve never seen before. We thought we saw everything with the ladder match after Shawn/Razor and then we had the Hardy Boys and Edge and Christian breath new life into the gimmick. There will always be a generation that will want to top what previous stars did and as mentioned, I want to see what they can do. I do think there are times the stipulation is over used and doesn’t make sense in certain feuds, but in the end it’s still an entertaining match when done correctly.

Jake Chambers: FACT – Stay with me for a second here. Everything evolves, and there’s clearly a huge difference between what you see in a WWE main event match in 2020 and 1970. We’ve seen even the most devestating finishing moves kicked out of dozens of times. Whereas a single piledriver used to finish a match, now you can piledrive someone on the apron and it’s just a midmatch transition move. Potentially, sometime soon, finishing a wrestler with a 3-count will be too old fashioned. And since this gimmick will not die, the next evolution of the ladder match could be to figure out how to normalize it as one aspect of all wrestling. Is it too late to stop the ladder match infection now and get rid of this gimmick forever?

Statement #5: The Street Profits are funny.

Robert Leighty Jr.: FACT –  I enjoy The Street Profits and think they are making the most of what they are being asked to do each week. I am nearly 40 and aren’t the target demographic for what they are trying to accomplish, but there are times they do make me laugh and the crowd enjoys them as they get a pop when they show up on screen. I wasn’t a fan of their SNL type skit last week, but someone out there probably was. These guys will never be what Bobby Heenan, Jesse Ventura, and others were, but that’s an unfair level to compare them to in this WWE product. The two of them thankfully have enough natural charisma to get over what they are trying to do even if not everything hits 100%.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – Ouch, these dudes are completely UN-funny in my opinion. I’m not sure there’s been anyone officially “funny” in the WWE since they started scripting everything. You’re never gonna get the natural humour anymore that we had with legends like Bobby Heenan, Jesse Ventura, Randy Savage, Don Muraco, Mr. Perfect, Stone Cold, The Rock, Kurt Angle… I mean, wrestling used to be really funny. Now they’ve got a team of writers putting together demographically algorithmic jokes where the cameras are already targeting dorks in the audience to cut to for the punchlines (it’s probably even in the shooting script) so they can clip this shit for Youtube. Whatever charm the Street Profits had is being slowly pulled out of them like information from a suspected terrorist in Zero Dark Thirty and we all have to watch in painful discomfort.

Statement #6: The way Drew McIntyre won the Men’s Royal Rumble Match was great.

Robert Leighty Jr.: FACT – The Rumble match seems to be one where people loved it or hated it because of the Brock run. For me the Rumble was fantastic and I loved what they did with Brock. Him wrecking fools is what people want to see and it didn’t kill anyone that was sacrificed to him. His run meant whoever eliminated him would be seen as a big star and that’s what happened when Drew took his head off with the Claymore. It seemed that was the way to set up Brock/Drew at Mania, but the WWE doubled down by having Drew win the entire match by eliminating Reigns. Everyone seemingly had Reigns pegged as the winner and having Drew eliminate him just further cemented that the WWE is getting behind him with the rocket push. This was booked perfectly to make Drew look like a killer and that’s what’s needed as he preps for a Mania match with Brock. Even Roman didn’t get to look this dominant when he had his moment winning The Rumble before Mania 31.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – I get why everyone liked the match, the Brock stuff was different for a format we’ve seen monotonously repeated every year. However, in order to facilitate that first half they had to top load the second half with most of the actual contenders to win. Other than winning, I don’t think Drew comes out looking really that dominate, because he knocked Brock out following a low blow by Ricochet, and eliminated perennial Rumble #2 Roman Reigns. Eliminating Reigns at the end of a Rumble is about as helpful to your heat now as beating up Vince McMahon has become; Nakamura and Seth Rollins are about in the same position today as they were when they did it, and likely McIntrye will be a midcarder again this time next year no matter what happens at Wrestlemania. Now, if you give Drew the Brock role in the match, or make him go on a reverse Brock run in the second half and eliminate everyone of those real contenders one at at time, now you’ve got a real superstar making moment. This just felt like a lot of smoke to me.

Thanks again to Robert Leighty Jr.

Be sure to join him for his LIVE coverage of WWE Backstage right here at 411mania every week. And definitely make sure to add his Twitter account to your follow list!

Next week we’ll be back for Week 3 of Round 1 of the 411 Wrestling Road to Wrestlemania Fact or Fiction Invitational Tournament!

In the meantime, keep up with the top half of the bracket:

Week 1: Dino Zee vs. Kevin Pantoja

Week 2: Steve Cook vs. Tony Acero

See you next week!