Kick-off show – yeah, I’m vaguely recapping this, for once, because I have a co-commentary partner in tumblr user latentexistence, and my usual partners in crime, sorabora and jax-ambrose. I’m also recapping it because the pre-show match is going to be important, showing us two of the people entering the Royal Rumble match.
Renee Young is perfect, as per usual, and dear god, they’ve let Lawler on the pre-show instead of Byron Saxton. Why? Why would you do this to us? So we’ve also got Booker and Corey Graves, and with the addition of Lawler, the IQ of the kick-off panel has been halved.
We get a reminder that Vince once made Stone Cold job to him, before we cover KO and Ambrose doing their last man standing match promos.
Kick Off Match: Darren Young and Damien Sandow vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley) vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) vs. Mark Henry and Jack Swagger
Proper entrance for Sandow, which makes me happy. Bless him, he looks so pleased to be out there. Fatal fourway, so the first pin or submission means the winner of that gets a space in the Rumble. Honestly, I thought Swagger would have been in there anyway, what with facing up to Del Rio, and the Dudleys, too. It’s not like we’ve got a huge roster right now, full of people who need to be in the Rumble more than these guys.
Size speaking, Mark Henry and Swagger are probably the most interesting two to add to the Rumble – Henry being hard to get over the ropes, and Swagger being over-confident and brash, and both of them having no real connection to the rest of the roster. Sandow and Young – Young would presumably help out Titus, and Sandow doesn’t have any allegiances. The Ascension would obviously work for Stardust, and the Dudleys are their own men. Whoever wins, I’m going to be interested to see what the result is.
No one starts off dominating, it’s all to play for and anyone’s game. Swagger and Henry win it, so I guess we’re going on who can be big enough to screw up someone else’s time. I’m pretty sad about that, I think that other than the Dudleys, that’s the least exciting option.
The Social Outcasts are out to do a few questions and answers, and Bo’s got some new knickers! I love the dynamic of these babies, how Bo’s the Mum, and Heath’s the dad, but Adam Rose is Heath’s boyfriend, and Curtis Axel is the awkward child going through an emo phase. They get a little grumpy about the questions, but they’re doing their best.
We get a nice recap of the Becky and Charlotte’s rivalry, and how they fell apart, which places Charlotte firmly in the heel space, and then Lawler ruins it all but saying Becky had a bad childhood and so has ‘daddy issues’. Oh my god, Lawler. Please don’t. Please, please don’t. It’s so awkward listening to Renee force laughter for sexist jokes. So, so awkward. Poor Renee, having to put up with this every month. They don’t pay her enough.
We start the PPV proper with poor JoJo trying to interview Vince and a Steph who looks about ten years younger with her hair in soft waves around her face. No sign of Triple H, so I guess he’s under the ring with a bottle of water and his sledgehammer, waiting to mess up Roman Reigns to set up a feud for Mania.
Dean Ambrose vs Kevin Owens – Last Man Standing Intercontinental Title Match
Wow, okay, we’re starting strong tonight with this match, the pop for Dean is huge, and the heat for KO is incredible. We have a French announce team, which means extra tables for these boys to go through. I think they might be here just for that, actually.
So, KO goes over the announce table and into Michael Cole, who clearly wasn’t paying attention! Dean grandstands on the announce table before KO throws him off it. Dean gets out a kendo stick, because a boy has to have his toys. KO takes control, throwing a cannonball that takes Dean down for a count of seven, really early. Owens is looking really strong, really furious early on, and Dean is looking exhausted, on the back foot.
A number of chairs end up in the ring, and once more, Dean is on his back, being counted at, struggling to get onto his feet while KO has a sit down in the ring for a minute. He’s clearly planning to take Dean through two chairs, but there’s a hell of a lariat from Dean to take KO down a little, too. However, Dean’s the one spending most of his time on the ground, rather than KO, just dragging Ambrose around by the hair. He goes for a powerbomb, but Dean reverses it and throws KO through the double chair set up.
Outside the ring, KO is throwing Dean into steps and into the barricades, before getting the tables out. Dean’s leaning against the ring, which still counts to be counted out, as it means he’s not standing up. There’s a rousing rendition of ‘O Canada’ from one guy, along with ‘I feel like you’re wasting your time right now’ and ‘I like your tattoo, it looks like the Rock’s’ as KO takes Dean up to the top rope to try to throw him into a double stacked table. He throws a chair at KO’s face which gets stuck around his neck, which it very comical, and takes a superkick to the face for his troubles. He reverses a pop-up powerbomb, and hits dirty deeds, sending KO down for eight. The minute Owens is up again, Dean hits dirty deeds again, sending him onto the floor again.
It looks like he’ll get counted out, but he rolls out at nine to get his feet on the ground. He’s still reeling, though, and so Dean sets out a table, rolls KO onto it, and does a huge elbow drop off the top rope, but it takes both men down. There’s a ‘holy shit’ chant from the crowd as both men get to their feet for a count of eight, and my wrestling chat points out that the match can’t be over, because Dean still has his shirt on, as the crowd give respectful applause. Wow.
KO shouts ‘I HATE YOU’ like a petulant child, and we get our second ‘holy shit’ chant of the night as KO takes Dean off the top rope with a pop up powerbomb and both of them through the table set up in the ring. KO stand up, but Dean is still flat on the ground – he manages to get up before the count, though. KO stacks four chairs, sticks Dean on them and goes to the top rope, but then Dean shoves him and he goes through the double stacked table from before. KO gets counted out, Dean keeps the IC title – and no one was even bleeding!
There’s a brilliant ‘Brock Lobster’ sign as Dean celebrates keeping his title, and then we’ve got ads for us to catch our breath. Wow. What a hell of a start to this PPV.
The New Day vs The Usos – Tag Team Titles Match
The New Day are pinker than ever, and my network stops, because why pay for something when I could absolutely fail for it to work? They try to have a moment of silence for Francesca, and then out comes Xavier, with a new trombone! He hasn’t even bothered to give her a different name, she’s just called Francesca II. Okay then. He says he can’t mourn forever, because a man has needs. They say they’re going to be gold this year, all golden everything – and then out come the Usos to interrupt. Jey stands on the ropes and flaps his arms like he’s trying to take off. Eden Styles is out doing ring introductions in a gorgeous dress, being gorgeous as always. There’s a woman who dresses perfectly for everything.
Jimmy Uso starts everyone off, and Kofi is a man who can really wear hot pink. Not everyone can, but he can really carry it. Jey goes to get the cover, Xavier loitering near the announce table for a little while. Outside the ring, Jey kicks Big E into the barricades, but Xavier grabs him and flings him over. Xavier Woods shouting at Michael Cole is my aesthetic. There’s a ‘play Francesca’ chant, but Xavier’s music is art, you can’t just make him play.
Thanks to Xavier’s interference, the New Day manage to isolate Jey and keep him away from Jimmy for a little while, and work him over, but Jimmy gets tagged in and so does Big E – Jimmy gets a pin for two and a half which looks like it could have been it. Jey gets send over the barricades into the crowd, and Big E almost takes Jimmy down for the pin on the distraction.
Everyone ends up on the floor outside the ring, because of course they do, the Usos never miss a chance to go flying, but Big E and Jimmy are back in, Kofi tagged in and send down at the last minute, Jimmy pinning him down – but Kofi’s foot is on the bottom rope. While Jey is busy arguing with Xavier, Jimmy takes a suicide diver over and Big E takes him down into the barricades. He’s still the legal man, so he gets back into the ring with Jey Uso, and pins him for three. New Day retain their tag team titles.
Xavier plays a happy tune on the trombone, because he is the best, and wonderful. The New Day celebrate keeping their tag team titles, and we get another commercial break to catch our breaths. So far, this PPV is delivering.
There’s a Wyatt promo where they say they’re War, Pestilence, Famine and Death – the Four Horsemen. They say they’ve slaughtered the Beast and the Chosen, and that Bray will have the whole world in his hands when he wins the Rumble tonight. The Apocalypse is here. Run. Or walk to your nearest concession stand.
Alberto Del Rio vs Kalisto – US Title Match
Time for our littlest luchador to come out, in white – that had better mean he’s going to win. Del Rio is in black and red, because he’s evil and we don’t like him. And he probably smells. In case you can’t tell, I’m still a little bitter that Kalisto lost the title the last week. After a DAY.
Del Rio’s using his violence and aggression to throw a gorgeous running enzuigiri that throws Kalisto down. It’s actually reasonably speedy, for Del Rio, who I always complain about being slow. JBL says he and Del Rio have talked about how fun it is to beat up the little luchadors. Okay, man, you want to get the medal for worst guy, or what?
What I love about this is that we’ve now seen this match… four times? Del Rio vs. Kalisto should be stale by now, we should be bored of this, but Kalisto’s got such spirit and such fire that we don’t care. If he’d still held the title, we might be like ‘give it up Del Rio’, but because we want to see Kalisto win, we’re invested in seeing this match.
Del Rio does the same old play with Kalisto’s mask, trying to pull it off, because he’s disrespectful and awful. JBL is telling awful stories, whining about how awful Kalisto is – seriously, dude, we all love him. Just be quiet. He does also reference Flat Stanley, though, which at least makes me smile.
Kalisto keeps his momentum up, keeping Del Rio moving slowly and steadily – but of course he sets up for the double stomp which takes forever, but Kalisto moves out of the way and hits a hell of a salida del sol for one, two – and Del Rio has his hand on the bottom rope. For a second, I thought he had it. Kalisto leaps off the top rope into a double knee, and Del Rio looks like he’s almost crying because he can’t manage to keep Kalisto down.
We see Del Rio uncovering the top turnbuckle in a corner, taking the padding off and leaving the steel, trying to send Del Rio into it – but Kalisto reverses it and sends Del Rio into it instead. He takes him down for one, two, three – YES. I admit, I threw my fist into the air for this and hissed out a quiet celebration yes so as not to wake my wife. That’s the result we all wanted, the one we deserve, and I’m so happy to see Kalisto clutching the title. So very, very happy to see Kalisto get the win and get the title back off Del Rio. Let’s hope he keeps it for a lot longer than a day this time.
Steph is cackling evilly at her phone – probably her husband under the ring, or Shawn Michaels’ Playgirl spread. Paul Heyman says he’s going to want to renegotiate Lesnar’s contract, and Steph says that as long as he beats the hell out of Roman Reigns, she’ll renegotiate anything he wants. She’ll do anything for Roman Reigns’ blood – but she won’t do that.
Charlotte vs Becky Lynch – Diva’s Title Match
Young Becky is cutest thing ever, and adorable, and you feel so awful about what’s happened since, as you see Charlotte say ‘nope, I’ve only ever wanted the title’. Also, ‘genetically superior’ is not something that we want to hear from a white girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. Really, no. This is the second time we’ve had this promo, but whatever, I’m down with that. I’m happy to have more Diva time, but I hope this doesn’t mean the match is due to be short.
Charlotte and her dad wander out, and Becky is looking ready to go and bright and sparky as ever. Not loving her corset, I have to say, I do worry it’s hard to wrestle in, and her new ring gear is… while it’s Ravenclaw colours, it doesn’t seem to work for her. And there’s tinsel on it. Then again, Charlotte looks like she’s wearing a see-through bralet. I don’t get this.
The two go straight for each other, Becky taking Charlotte into the corner quickly, but Becky’s scrabbling at Charlotte early, working her down to the ground. Becky bridges out from a pin, which is a gorgeous move, and really showcases her flexibility. The crowd are clearly behind Becky, who gets Charlotte into an armbar, but Charlotte fights her way out. Becky gets Charlotte out of the ring twice, Ric standing still and not moving, not getting in the way, but when Becky comes around the corner to get to Charlotte, Ric is in the way. Charlotte gets past him to aim a knee at Becky – and I’m sorry, I’m frozen in rage.
Ric Flair grabs Becky by the face and forces a kiss onto her. I’m… honestly, I could stop watching right now. I could stop watching and walk away right now. I paid for the damn network, and I feel sick to my stomach that I paid to see this. Commentary are talking like it’s anything normal, anything fine, and I’m shaking and furious, and horrified. I can’t even call the rest of this match, which is BULLSHIT. Becky deserves better, Charlotte deserves better, that’s a shitty angle to call, and that’s a horrible way to do anything. So we’re not allowed to let women fight men on television in case it normalises spousal abuse, but we’re allowed to see a man forcibly grab a woman and kiss her against her will. Now, I know Becky must have agreed to the angle, but it’s a hell of a blow. Divas deserve better.
Becky doesn’t even get the win after that, losing after Flair throws his jacket onto Becky’s face and the ref sees it but somehow doesn’t DQ Charlotte/ban Ric from ringside, and I just… I don’t care. I hate this. I’m so angry, and so upset, and the whole storyline we were getting with Becky and Charlotte is just….
Sasha comes in, kicks a broken Becky off the edge of the ring, puts Charlotte in the bank statement, and then waves the title around…. at one point, Charlotte was crying, and Becky was crying as well. That was a horrible, awful angle, and a horrible segment, and I hate that I had to spend my time dealing with emotions around that, instead of calling what might have been a brilliant match, but I couldn’t see it through my rage.
The Royal Rumble – WWE World Heavyweight Championship Title Match
Roman out for the Rumble, and I’m going to try really hard to care about this and stop having sexual assault flashbacks. I’m going to try, because damn it, I was looking forward to this. Rusev out second, and Roman takes him out early, then… it’s AJ STYLES! The crowd is very excited by this, as they should be, it’d be a bit of a shame if they weren’t. The boos for Roman started early, and Tyler Breeze comes out fourth, quickly eliminated, but he gets a hell of a pop. Curtis Axel gets a lot of pop, everyone’s glad to see him and he’s really intense, but he just doesn’t have anywhere to go with it.
Jericho out next, and he goes straight after Reigns – everyone else seems to have forgotten that he’s the title holder, and is giving him time to recuperate. Surely you take out the guy who won last year? Kane in, and he’s taken out the most men overall, so he first goes for Reigns, then Jericho, but can’t get anyone over the ropes, even Styles. Kane seems to be the only man remembering that Roman’s the man to beat, but he has to go after Goldust when he’s back in, after the fresh man.
Ryback has a nice new blue singlet on, a colour that looks very good on him, if you ask me, but I’m upset that it has a weird human head on the back of it and not puppies or kittens like the last ones. Kofi in next, with his New Day brothers on the outside. Ryback throws Styles, and that was a hell of a height, while Kofi’s in the corner raising Reigns’ legs like he’s prepping him for some sort of very athletic sex position.
So, after Harper comes out at 13, Sheamus, Del Rio and Rusev pull Roman out from under the ropes, with Vince looking on, and beat the hell out of Roman on the side of the ring, for funsies. They put Roman on the French announce table, and Rusev runs across the other two announce tables and splashes Roman through the table. Then the League have a cuddle with Vince, because he loves unfair odds, and they leave ringside with Roman flat on his back, being attended to by medics. He refuses the gurney, and insists on walking out under his own power.
I actually predicted this to a buddy last night, that Roman would win the same way Stone Cold did in 1998 – taken out by medics, and brought back in before the end to win the whole thing. Because WWE think we don’t have memories. Owens drags his limp body down to the ring after we’ve done setting up Braun Strowman as the new ‘giant’ and ‘monster’ and getting him to eliminate Kane and Big Show. The crowd chant for Styles after he’s eliminated following 28 minutes in the Rumble, and then down comes Dean, Owens fixated on him. SAMI ZAYN IS HERE! My gingerbread prince! Well, that gives Kevin Owens someone to fight other than Dean Ambrose.
The Wyatts form an alliance, and then Lesnar comes down to take them all to Suplex City. Swagger comes down and Brock just slings him out, no effort needed. Miz comes out and says he’ll turn Suplex City into Mizney World, to avoid Lesnar he stands on commentary and talks. Like this match wasn’t distracting enough. Del Rio comes out for the second time, this time to actually be in the match.
Bray comes out, and of course, with no DQ, the Wyatts can help their boss against Lesnar. Bray gives him a sister Abigail, and Brock goes out. Miz goes in as Dolph Ziggler comes in, so Miz has his pick of people to eliminate. As Sheamus comes down, out comes Roman, back into the Rumble into a chorus of boos. Triple H is out at number 30, as we thought he would be, ready to do his water spit, which is really unhygienic.
Finally Dean Ambrose’s shirt looks like it’s coming off, and I don’t know where Sheamus went, but I think he’s probably dead. Jericho pulls some impressive moves for an old man who isn’t in as good shape as Trips, so I’m actually giving him a little grudging respect. Trips tries to suggest Bray takes out Roman instead of him, but Bray’s not having any of it.
Eventually, it comes down to Sheamus, Triple H, Dean, and Roman – Roman takes out Sheamus and Triple H takes out Roman straight after, so it’s down to Triple H and Dean Ambrose. After some near misses, Triple H takes out Dean Ambrose, and now he’s a 16 time world champion. For a second there, I really, really thought that was going to be Dean’s moment.
Well, aside from the Divas’ match I will not speak of, that was a pretty good PPV. See you all for Raw tomorrow!