wrestling / TV Reports

Hawke’s Royal Rumble 2019 Review

January 28, 2019 | Posted by TJ Hawke
Seth Rollins Royal Rumble
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Hawke’s Royal Rumble 2019 Review  

Some other Rumble reviews of mine



January 27, 2019
Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, Renee Young, Corey Graves, Beth Phoenix, JBL, Jerry Lawler, & Michael Cole


Becky Lynch vs. Asuka

This was for Asuka’s Smackdown Women’s Championship.

This match really illustrated the advantage of always making sure to convey a sense of physicality and competition. While there was no elaborate or even tremendously nuanced storytelling going on, both wrestlers from the start were always working with purpose and with the sense that they were always going for the win. That tone carried the day and gave the wrestlers some time to progressively build to the extended closing sequence where they both tried to finish things off. This battle was two expert craftswomen effortlessly composing greatness. Asuka may have won, but the match was worked in a manner that made both of them look great. (****1/4)


The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus) vs. Shane McMahon & The Miz

This was for The Bar’s Smackdown Women’s Championship.

Shane McMahon is so embarrassing in the ring that it gives AEW coverage to allow Cody to work non-tag matches for a few years. The fact that WWE positions Shane seriously as a wrestler in the ring speaks to all of their creative issues as a company.

Except for falling off of things, everything Shane does in professional wrestling looks terrible and drags everyone in there with him down. It’s not that the final product of his work has never been successful, it’s that someone is allowed to look that bad in the ring and take a spot away on big shows ever year from wrestlers who are actually talented and trained in any way.

A match like this is actually a good example of how three talented wrestlers can come together to work around Shane McMahon and make the final product passable. The final quality of the match is not the issue though. Why should these three be forced to work around him in the first place? Why can’t one of the many great wrestlers doing nothing in the company be in that spot instead and actually allow the other three men to do something meaningful?

I thought Shane McMahon “applying” a triangle choke on Cesaro was the worst moment of my entire life. Then he pinned Cesaro with a shooting star press. Fuck off and die, bitch. (DUD)


Sasha Banks vs. Ronda Rousey

This was for Ronda’s Raw Women’s Championship.

Ronda’s best wrestling matches are clearly going to be like her 2018 match with Charlotte when there is a certain sense of recklessness and violence. With that in mind, she did look pretty good here in a much different style with Sasha.

The story here was that Sasha was infinitely better than Ronda and that Ronda had very few tools to combat someone who is this much better than her. Sasha seemingly had an answer for everything Ronda tried to throw at her and was a step ahead of her from beginning to end.

Ronda basically just had her strength advantage and that stupid rolling thing she does way too often in matches…but apparently that was enough? After Sasha outclassed her every step of the way, Ronda’s variation of the Attitude Adjustment came across as a very anti-climatic conclusion. This seemed like a very necessary spot to do a fruit roll-up or fluke submission finish if they were determined to have Ronda retain. Ah well. (***)


Lacey Evans vs. Natalya vs. Mandy Rose vs. Liv Morgan vs. Mickie James vs. Ember Moon vs. Billie Kay vs. Nikki Cross vs. Peyton Royce vs. Tamina vs. Xia Li vs. Sarah Logan vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Kairi Sane vs. Maria Kanellis vs. Naomi vs. Candice LeRae vs. Alicia Fox vs. Kacy Catanzaro vs. Zelina Vega vs. Ruby Riott vs. Dana Brooke vs. Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley vs. Sonya Deville vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley vs. Nia Jax vs. Carmella vs. Becky Lynch

This was a Royal Rumble match.

Unfortunately this match was not good at all. The match was pretty much doomed from the start when Natalya came out at #1, and you just knew the WWE was clueless enough to think she was well-suited for the “veteran who lasts too long for the sake of just keeping the match together” spot.

The match had a number of other issues of course. One of the biggest being that the fun wrestlers whom the crowd liked (Kairi, Candice, Naomi, etc.) kept getting eliminated very quickly for no justifiable reason. They also just did a bad job of putting effort to make a lot of the match feel meaningful to compensate for the lack of star power in the match with Asuka, Becky, Sasha, and Ronda in other matches on the card.

The match recovered somewhat in the final stretch when they got Becky into the match as an injury replacement for Lana. It did not save the match by any stretch, but it gave the crowd a rooting interest that added some much needed energy to what was left of the contest.

The match came down to Becky and Charlotte after Becky eliminated Nia but not before Nia attacked Becky and injured her leg as revenge. Becky and Charlotte were primed to do some epic sequence to close things out…but it was not really all that special. Oh well. At least The Man won. (**)


Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles

This was for Bryan’s WWE Championship.

These two were put in a position to fail, and they failed to adjust in any way to fix things for themselves. First off, someone in the company needs to recognize that Bryan is not going to be easily booed in 2019. Thus, if he’s going to insist on refusing to get cheers there’s going to be a perpetual energy issue with all of his matches (especially on PPV).

Then AJ and Bryan worked a super methodical match that entirely relied on just a pure sense of competition but with no real urgency. It was basically a less fun version of the match Asuka and Becky worked to start the PPV.

Then the finish was Erick Rowan finishing AJ with a chokeslam. He and Bryan were clearly starting their NOAH Alumni Stable that will be similar to the Straight Edge Society. Boring match. (*)


Brock Lesnar vs. FInn Balor

This was for Brock’s Universal Championship.

Finn Balor recognized that this was a big spot for him and delivered one of the best performances of his career in what was Brock’s second straight great defense. Balor wisely learned from Daniel Bryan’s mistakes and just took it right to Brock. Brock was able to fight back obviously though and seemed like he was setting up for one of his trademarked heat segments.

The twist ended up being that Brock got sent into a table at one point which BROUGHT BACK HIS ISSUES WITH DIVERTICULITIS. That is basically the only thing WWE has insisted upon maintaining continuity about ever. This weakened Brock badly, and he was never able to dominate Balor as a result.

Balor was on the verge of winning after managing to connect on three straight tope con hilos.* He followed it up with the double stomp but Brock managed to kick out. When it seemed like Brock was on the verge of defeat, he pulled out the kimura out of nowhere to steal the contest.

*A perk of Brock only working ten times a year is that it allows him to just eat tope con hilos full on instead of catching guys. It’s great. More dives on Brock, please.

This match played out beat for beat the same as Brock’s 2012 match with Triple. Only this one was infinitely better.

After the match, the very insecure Brock Lesnar beat down Finn because the former has a small penis and has to compensate by dominating colleagues. (****1/4)


Elias vs. Jeff Jarrett vs. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kurt Angle vs. Big E vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Samoa Joe vs. Curt Hawkins vs. Seth Rollins vs. Titus O’Neil vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Mustafa Ali vs. Dean Ambrose vs. No Way Jose vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Xavier Woods vs. Pete Dunne vs. Andrade Almas vs. Apollo Crews vs. Aleister Black vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Baron Corbin vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Braun Strowman vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton vs. Nia Jax

This was a Royal Rumble match.

In no way could this be considered a great Rumble. It benefited though from the near idiot-proof formula of a Rumble. They spread out the popular acts well enough to keep things lively. They took advantage of the of their deep well of talent in their NXTs to throw in some surprises. Rumbles are naturally fun, and you have to really fuck up to well…fuck it up.

It never got past basic Rumble fun though because it’s the Fed, and the Fed is fucking awful of course.

The match was set up like a lot of recent rumbles where you convince yourselves there is going to be a surprise entrant that is really exciting and makes up for the less than thrilling Rumble experience so far. It never happens though. (Nia Jax’s sequence was surprising and lively but c’mon.)

The Rumble has basically become a metaphor for the entire wrestling fan experience with WWE. Everything is seemingly in place for something cool and Actually Good to happen. It never actually does though. You must always remember that.

At least Randy Orton did not win. (***)


Reviews of notable non-Rumble Royal Rumble PPV matches

John Cena vs. AJ Styles

Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins

The Rock vs. CM Punk

Rey Mysterio vs. The Undertaker

Brock Lesnar vs. The Big Show

The Rock vs. Chris Jericho

Cactus Jack vs. Triple H

Shawn Michaels vs. Psycho Sid

Bret Hart vs. The Undertaker

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
When you run a five hour long show, half of your show being bad does a lot to make the good seem less memorable.

article topics :

Royal Rumble, TJ Hawke