Courtesy of WWE Home Video, Matthew Roberts takes a look at the release of the 2020 Royal Rumble.
Having been among the 40,000 fans who had flocked to Minute Maid Park in Houston for the 2020 Royal Rumble event, and thoroughly enjoyed the evening, I was looking forward to revisiting the show on Bluray. What I found was that my enthusiasm for the event at the time was largely borne out when re-watching it in the comfort of my own home.
A big part of this was down to the Men’s Royal Rumble match itself. I’ve long been a “1992” man when it comes to the “greatest ever Rumble” match, with a soupcon of 2001 added to the mix. For me, 2020 deserves to at least be in the conversation for that topic now. And a lot of that was down to the man that everyone supposedly hates, Brock Lesnar. To still be criticising him for adhering to the contractual obligations in his contract as we reach a new decade seems the dumbest thing a wrestling fan can do. But that’s another story for another time. The Rumble match showed just what a performer Lesnar is. He, quite simply, “get it”. The destruction of half the field was a necessary evil and was more than compensated for by his sell job after his eventual elimination by Drew McIntyre. And lets face it, losses in the WWE rarely matter in the grand scheme of things. Are ANY of the people he eliminated in the match now in worse position in terms of their ranking on the roster as a result? No.
It was the little things that made Lesnar’s performance so brilliant. Cutting off Elias to attack him outside of the ring at the start of the match, dancing to MVP’S theme music (a crime I’ve been guilty of before), feigning a regard for Shelton Benjamin (who was hardly a threat to him) just to “turn” on him, his reaction to Keith Lee (I don’t’ swear in these reviews so I won’t type out the exact words)…all great moments. That some of the guys he has dominated in recent months (Kofi, Rey, Richochet) came in and gave it a shot showed that someone somewhere is paying attention to storylines in the WWE booking team too. To top it all off, once the Beast Incarnate had been sent on his merry way not only were we left, towards the end at least, with a number of names with a genuine shot at winning we also got the much longed for in-ring return of Edge, who certainly looked ready to go! All in all, a fantastic Rumble match.
The Women’s match couldn’t match that in some respects; the main one was that the choice of winner in Charlotte did, on the night, nothing but maintain the status quo in the division. There was no great clamour for her to win (though it was far from the unpopular decision on the night that many would have led you to believe) but watched in hindsight it does at least make some sense with what we now know about Charlotte’s night at WrestleMania. It wasn’t ALL about Charlotte though. Bianca Belair had the quasi “iron woman” sport in the match and looked like the star many will tell you she is destined to become in parts of the match. There were some nice surprises (be they the return of Naomi, a one off spot for Molly Holly or the inclusion of some NXT names who had not been advertised), some nice spots – including a corker with Mandy Rose and Otis – and the match rarely seemed to drag. Shayna Baszler made more momentum for herself in the latter stages too and in hindsight it’s perhaps as well she didn’t win. Ironically given her status as an NXT star, she arguably didn’t “need” the win as much as Charlie. Of course it wasn’t all great (the arrival of Santina Marella, for one) but it was by far the best of the Women’s Rumble’s we’ve seen in its short history.
The undercard was hot and cold. I enjoyed the Falls Count Anywhere match between Roman Reign and King Corbin more than most, but that is undeniably partly due to the fact that it finished right in front of me in the stadium and I got my ugly mug on camera. It perhaps went a little too long, but I never felt it dragged too badly. Bayley and Lacey Evans, on the other hand, made it’s ten minutes seem a lot longer than they actually were. You couldn’t fault the effort but it was almost as if Evans was trying too hard to impress; with time she may learn to pick and choose her moments better.
The Universal Title Strap match between Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan seemed to go down much better generally with other than I thought. Bryan was as good as ever, but there is something about the Fiend character that has yet to properly translate into the in-ring action side of things. It took the UNDertaker years to break free from the “restraints” of his character though so I’m not going to be too harsh. And hey, at least we didn’t get the red lights this time. The Becky Lynch/Asuka match was a lot better and even if only by accident (because I refuse to believe anyone in the WWE booking squad looked a year into the future at the beginning of 2019) this was a great match that played off their history and gave us the right conclusion.
As a Rumble card pretty much lives and dies on the Rumble matches themselves, this was a top notch entry into the canon. The Men’s Rumble was the best in years and the Women’s one was very good too. The Raw Women’s title match was the best of the undercard and even if some of the rest was a little underwhelming, it was still a quality night of action overall. And one well worth a re-visit.
The two kickoff matches are included. Sheamus and “Shorty G” seems a waste of time in one sense as it seemed to be at odds with Sheamus’ verbiage upon his return. But if it didn’t work character wise, the fact it was quite competitive did at least mean it was a decent match in of itself. Andrade and Humberto Carrillo could have done a lot better but they seemed to forget the history of the feud leading into the match and never really grabbed the crowd like you might have hoped. The Bluray add three TV segments from the build up to the event, none of which are essential but all add to the context of the event.
Format Reviewed: Bluray
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE
You can find me on Twitter @IWFICON