Tag Archives: Wrestling

MensRoyal Rumble 2018 ReWatch

With the Royal Rumble less than two weeks away, we’re going back and watching one of our favorite Men’s Rumbles from recent years. We’ll look at the reactions wrestlers got and how they were presented back then.

While things haven’t worked out for the eventual winner, and many of these wrestlers have left the company, for a moment during 2018 there was a lot of excitement heading into WrestleMania.

  • Rusev enters number 1, with Aiden English introducing him. It’s crazy how over Rusev was, and so was English. They should have been pushed to the absolute moon. He was so organically over and was great in the ring. I hope he achieves something big in AEW.
  • Finn Bálor is number 2, I love how he always gets announced as from Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, hometown pride we appreciate being from the same town. I’m glad Bálor went back to NXT because he wasn’t getting anywhere on Raw or SmackDown really. The writers didn’t seem to get that he is tremendously talented despite being fairly small for a WWE wrestler.
  • The Manbeast Rhyno enters number 3 to a big ovation from the Philadelphia crowd. His run with Heath Slather as tag team champions was underrated. I used to enjoy seeing Rhyno tag with Tajiri back in around 2004.
  • Baron Corbin enters number 4. He still had hair then. I don’t know why they completely took away his hard guy persona. He won the Andre the Giant battle royal, and eliminated Braun Strowman in the Rumble in 2017. He was better like this.
  • Rhyno is eliminated by Corbin and Corbin gets thrown out by Bálor. Corbin attacks everyone and lays them out outside the ring. He was better like this than when he was constable or king.
  • Heath Slater enters number 5. He doesn’t get to the ring, Corbin downs him. This is the start of a great sequence.
  • Elias enters number 6. He is so over. He really should be used more. He plays guitar on his way to the ring, kicking Heath on his way. I think he’d be a great Money in the Bank winner. Imagine the champion being followed by guitar strums. He cuts a promo and says they should stop the clock until he finishes his song. He gets a lot of heat, the good kind. The clock interrupts him.
  • NXT Champions Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas enters number 7 to huge cheers. This was the night after his TakeOver match with Johnny Gargano for the NXT title. That was a great match. I hope they start booking Andrade as more of a winner soon, and make him more arrogant. He takes out Heath on the way.
  • Bray Wyatt enters number 8. Way before he was the fiend, he carries his lantern, and throws Heath into the barricade. He is still over despite terrible booking over the years.
  • Finally Bálor comes back into the ring and Rusev gets up.
  • Number 9 is Big E. He gyrates and gives Heath a pancake out of his singlet. He will always be Langston to me. I hope we are finally close to Big E getting a world title push.
  • Number 10 is Tye Dillinger, or at least it was supposed to be, but Kevin Owens and Sami Zaayn attack him back stage. Zayn enters instead.
  • Number 11 is Sheamus. Later on they have a tag title match. He throws Heath into the ring and Heath clotheslines him out. It’s his birthday. The crowd goes wild.
  • Number 12 is Xavier Woods. Woods would make a great commentator some day. Him and Big E team up.
  • Number 13 is Apollo Crews. He is still part of Titus WorldWide. He’s a great athlete but likely needs a mouthpiece to get somewhere far.
  • Number 14 is Shinsuke Nakamura. Everyone sings along to his entrance. He eliminates Sami Zayn. Nakamura should have been a superstar.
  • Number 15 is Cesaro. I don’t know why he wasn’t pushed like crazy after winning the first ever Andre the Giant battle royal at WrestleMania 30. 4 years on he was still really over despite not being booked well. If a surprise is going to win this year I would love to see him win.
  • Number 16 is Kofi Kingston. He gets a big cheer. I remember thinking he should get a World title reign but wouldn’t have imagined it would happen the next year.
  • Cesaro eliminates Crews, Cesaro should get a Rumble run where he gets a heap of eliminations.
  • Jinder Mahal enters number 17. It’s his first time in the Rumble, surprisingly. A few months ago he was WWE Champion. I will never get over that happening. He was a jobber like 6 weeks before that. He eliminates Xavier Woods and Big E.
  • Seth Rollins enters number 18. I miss BURN IT DOWN!!!! Big Reaction. His Universal title reign the following year was booked so poorly. He got stuck in a never ending Baron Corbin feud. I would have loved him to face AJ Styles at another nonconsecutive PPV (not immediately after the first time), and guys like Drew McIntyre, Samoa Joe, Andrade, Finn Bálor and Cesaro. I don’t think he should have faced the Fiend because it was too soon to give Bray the title. Have him turn heel and drop it to Braun. He eliminates Cesaro.
  • Jinder tries to throw out Kofi, Xavier Woods catches him and he stands on a plate of pancakes so he isn’t eliminated. The New Day launch him back in. Kofi throws out Jinder. Andrade eliminates Kofi. That was fun.
  • Matt Hardy enters number 19. He is in that bizarre feud with Bray Wyatt. They team up to eliminate Rusev to big boos.
  • John Cena enters number 20. He gets cheers and “John Cena Sucks” chants. Everyone goes after him. He eliminates Elias.
  • Number 21 is the Hurricane. He gets a big cheer, he nearly hits the Hurrislam on John Cena which was almost the best Rumble moment in history. Cena eliminates him.
  • Aiden English enters as 22. More Rusev Day chants.
  • Adam Cole enters number 23. This is the night after he faced Aleister Black in a No DQ match. I don’t think he’ll get booked well on Raw or Smackdown, I hope he stays on NXT.
  • Randy Orton enters number 24. Orton won the Rumble last year. Andrade dives at him but gets RKO’d. Orton eliminates Andrade. Good showing for Andrade, hopefully he gets presented well in the coming year.
  • Titus O’Neil enters number 25. I think this is his last Rumble appearance before he slipped at the Greatest Royal Rumble.
  • The Miz enters number 26. He is the Intercontinental Champion. It’s amazing how back at this time most were calling for him to get a World Title reign. Now that he has the Money in the Bank briefcase it’s hard to take him as a serious title contender because he has been booked so poorly and weak over the last year.
  • Rey Mysterio is number 27. He eliminates Adam Cole and hits a 619 on The Miz.
  • Roman Reigns is number 28. A LOT of Boos. It’s a million miles away from how well received he is as a heel now. Nobody wanted to cheer him. It did a lot of harm pushing him so much over everybody else. He eliminates Titus O’Neil to more boos. He tries to eliminate Miz but the Miztourage stop him. Seth Rollins hits a curb stomp on Miz. They hit a SHIELD Powerbomb on Miz. Reigns throws out Rollins, it’s weird how that wasn’t a heel turn.
  • Goldust is number 29. Him entering here ties him with the 2nd mist appearances in the Rumble. I don’t know how he was never World Champion. I would love to see him get a fairy tale AEW World title win, have the kind of reign where he just survives everybody after winning the title in the match of his life, then loses it to a heel like MJF or Omega.
  • Dolph Ziggler is number 30. This was a weird number 30. He won the US title, then relinquished it and walked out, then came back. It didn’t really make sense. It would have been great if he threatened to leave with the title a la CM Punk.
  • Ziggler eliminates Goldust. Bálor eliminates Ziggler.
  • The final 6 is a great dynamic, new guys in Reigns, Bálor, Nakamura and Orton, Cena, and Mysterio. They talk about Nakamura like he’s young even though he is in his late 30’s. Reigns eliminates Orton. Mysterio hits a double 619 on Cena and Reigns. Bálor eliminates Mysterio.
  • The final four is Shinsuke Nakamura, Finn Bálor, John Cena, Roman Reigns. The crowd is going crazy for Nakamura.
  • Cena and Reigns square off to “You Both Suck” Chants. Big cheer when Bálor and Nakamura interrupt it.
  • Cena eliminates Bálor to big boos.
  • Nakamura eliminates Cena. Down to Reigns and Nakamura.
  • Nakamura gets speared, but survives. He knees Reigns in the face and throws him over the rope. Nakamura wins to a huge ovation. That was a great final 4, a lot of tension and drama.

Nakamura could have been a huge star, he should have won the title at Mania before turning heel after the match. It should have been a classic encounter. The build was marred by them telling us it was a dream match but not really creating much of a narrative or drama. They booked AJ Styles title reign to death with him facing a 5-way match between Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and for some reason Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin. Nakamura could have won at Mania after a match where they were allowed cut loose, turned heel after the match like he did, had a good entertaining run, dropped it back to AJ Styles who drops it to The New Daniel Bryan.

I remember around this time there were the SmackDown Rankings. That was an interesting idea but they never really did anything with it. There should have been separate rankings for men and women to allow more people on the leaderboard. But it could have been a good way to organize title shots at filler PPV’s, without some random person just coming out and asking for a match or having the same matches continuously.

Despite the fact things didn’t work out for the winner it was a very enjoyable Rumble match and one that was worth a rewatch.

What’s your favorite Royal Rumble of the past decade? And who would you like to see win this years Rumbles?

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[Title image from WWE.Com]

Thoughts Ahead Of NXT TakeOver 31

Once upon a time NXT TakeOvers came with thematic names. We had TakeOver: R Eveolution, TakeOver: The End, TakeOver: Aaarrrgghhh (that one was made up). Then it became TakeOver: Location. Now we have our 2nd successive TakeOver with a numeric title, and a 3rd overall. Is this the future? Or is it just for now while they are all in the same placed. Whatever the name, TakeOvers rarely disappoint.

The NXT Championship match will see Finn Bálor take on Kyle O’Reilly. I’m delighted to see O’Reilly get a big spot as a singles star. He has been an unsung hero of the Undisputed Era’s dominance, often as a tag team wrestler. Those who watched him before his time in NXT will know he can go in the ring as a singles star. I would love to see him take the NXT Championship… just not yet.

Bálor deserves a lengthy run with the belt. He’s been booked as something of an also-ran in NXT since returning, portrayed as a star, but never being allowed to show his true star power. The Prinxe should get a reign as a dominant villainous champion. It seemed he was on course to meet Walter at NXTUK TakeOver: Dublin. Dublin has been severely hit by COVID-19, leading to that events postponement, possibly until next Summer. Bálor should hold the title until close to that event, with Walter costing him the title. That can lead to the Bray man getting a heroes welcome in Dublin as he competes for the UK Championship (which I have said before, should be renamed the European Championship, and NXT UK should become NXT Europe and tour the continent). Bálor has the opportunity to have mega feuds that build new faces, while possibly forming a stable, perhaps some kind of club.

Kyle O’Reilly can take the title next year. Reports are that the Undisputed Era will explode soon, with Cole and O’Reilly as Faces, and Fish and Strong as heels. We could see Strong steal the NXT Championship from under O’Reilly’s nose, before Kyle finally takes it off him, possibly ahead of next years SummerSlam. Kyle has the charisma to carry a huge storyline involving the UE turning on eachother in an attempt to claim the gold they once shared. Just as Bálor deserves a proper reign, O’Reilly deserves a proper build.

Io Shirai defends the NXT Women’s Championship against Candice LeRae. This is one of those occasions where it could go either way. Io has been a great champion, yet it would be incredibly fun to see LeRae and Johnny gloat over the Gargano’s holding gold. We’ve had plenty of lengthy reigns in NXT, maybe it’s time for Shirai and LeRae to trade the belt a few times before the end of the year.

The other member of the Gargan’s, Johnny, challenges Damien Priest for the NXT North American title. It might be harsh if Priest drops the belt, having only just one it. The Archer of Infamy has outstanding charisma, and should be allowed to defend against a number of competitors. However possibly the most entertaining option would be Gargano winning the title by nefarious means, before immediately dropping it back to Priest on TV.

Santos Escobar defends the NXT Cruiserweight title against Isaiah “Swerve” Scott. While Isaiah is the only obvious challenger, the feud has fallen flat, and it may not be the time for him to win. A dominant heel reign may be what the Cruiserweight title needs, which has really suffered ever since it was held by a certain Real-One no longer in the company.

The other match is Kushida v Velveteen Dream. While it’s good to see Kushida get a TakeOver match, Dreams current situation makes this an awkward affair…

We recently interviewed Mikko Maestro (@MikkoMaestro), a wrestler from Finland now based in the USA. You can listen to this episode of You Can’t Fake Gravity here.

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