Welcome, cats and kittens, to the first ever Cewsh Review! Wait, that’s not right. We’ve done these before, haven’t we? Sorry, it’s just been an awfully long time since we actually reviewed a show the week that it aired, and the whole thing is confusing the hell out of me. Let’s try again. Ahem. Welcome, cats and kittens, to another installment of the only reviews that Donald Trump hasn’t banned yet, Cewsh Reviews! Today we have a special treat for you all as we finally get up to date and kick off the Road to Wrestlemania with a Royal Rumble that feels very different for a change. The undercard is loaded with interesting title matches with far reaching implications, the Rumble is packed so full of star power that I have no idea where they’re going to fit them all, and even the pre show matches were more interesting than some recent PPV main events. But i’m getting ahead of myself. Back to help me sort through all of this is our Royal Rumble Professor, MichaelC, who will drop knowledge so white hot and insightful that you’ll be fanning yourself by the time he’s done like a Southern belle with a case of the vapors. We’re here to Rumble, baby. Let’s do this thing.
So without any further ado, let’s do a motherfucking review!
Segment 1 – WWE Women’s Championship – Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Bayley
Cewsh: First of all, this is a goddamn queen right here.
Also, it’s weird how half the people in this division only have one name and the others have full ones like real people.
This feud was the natural successor to Charlotte/Sasha, as Bayley is another of the fabled 4 Horsewomen from NXT, even though her development timeline was very different from the other 3. But rather than turn this storyline into the epic, world devouring feud that Charlotte and Sasha had, WWE kind of just used the lead up to this match to reintroduce Bayley to us from scratch. They hit us over the head again and again with the fact that she was a regular ol’ fan, just like you and me, while Charlotte was an untouchable dynasty, and that kind of thing has worked millions of times before, (it was the basis of basically every Ric Flair feud,) but it kind of fell flat this time. They successfully made Bayley a thing, which is admirable, but the actual match really didn’t have much heat on it coming in. Luckily, these two don’t need a lot of help.
The thing that kept running through my head over and over while watching this match was, “My god, it just doesn’t suck at all!” I know that seems like damning with faint praise, but I recently went back and watched the last few women’s matches that took place at the Royal Rumble, and the enormous gap in quality between just 5 years ago and now in WWE women’s wrestling is unfathomable. Now that the talent is so, so, so much better, it’s flat out condescending to want to applaud every time a suplex is done correctly, but I can’t help marveling at just how enormous the improvement actually is. These two had a very strong title match that the crowd was into, and it ended with a great, shocking finish that was a lot of fun.
The fact that I got to watch the match itself was nice, but the fact that the match exists at all is full on delightful. This is old news, I know, and I won’t harp on about it after this. But come on! I just came back to doing up to date reviews, and I’ve been wanting to gush about this for ages. Women! Yay!
78 out of 100
MichaelC: When I first got into the WWF, the reigning Women’s Champion was Sable, who hung at the Playboy Mansion so she could have unfunny skits with Jerry Lawler, and who had an entire WrestleMania feud around the fact that people now needed to pay to see her in skimpy clothing but they could “see her opponent for free” (!!). I think the subtext doesn’t need expanded upon.
The first title change I ever saw involved Debra losing a bra and panties match – look, I was thirteen and hormonal, and this shit embarrassed me – but being declared the new Women’s Champion because she looked hot. That was the on screen reason for it.
Ivory and Lita (and my old favourite, Molly Holly) came along and tried to drag women’s wrestling kicking and screaming into the modern day with some underrated matches. And just as soon as they did, Chyna was parachuted into the womens division to kill them all, make everyone with a vagina in wrestling look like utter shit, and then sod off in a huff so no one ever got put over from the ordeal.
So the WWE brought it back, and you had Trish Stratus (a one-time model who was also the fastest learner of the arts of pro-wrestling outside Kurt Angle this century), Lita, Molly (yay!) and Victoria around. However, anytime they had a roster of quality women stars, it still seemed like a segregated and subjugated aspect of the show. Perhaps it was when the Women’s Champion had to shave her hair off just to get on the WrestleMania card. Or, when you took trained and good women, and used them to try and get the latest model over. Whenever it looked like the division might have legs and momentum, it was all thrown away to push a Candice Michelle or an Ashley Massaro or a Kelly Kelly.
Because you know, something like lightning strikes (Trish Stratus’s progression) can just be repeated over and over again. That’s why Undertaker got to retire 10 years ago, and there’s multiple Cena replacements.
What I’m trying to say is that this match, Charlotte v Bayley, was a bog-standard Charlotte or Bayley match with some nice spots (especially the finish). Both are clearly capable of far better work than on this night, and probably will in the future. I think there’s some big show on the horizon, but they never mention it. But just think how much women’s wrestling has improved in its focus and attention on WWE TV, that this perfectly above average decent opener seems lesser. The work that Charlotte and Bayley and Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch and others have put in to make their division respected by audiences across the world is amazing, and it feels permanent.
And yet, I worry that just around the corner, a Kelly Kelly will show up. That’s what 18 years of WWE does to you.
Charlotte Over Bayley Following The Natural Selection.
Segment 2 – WWE Universal Championship – Sexy Pinata Match – Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Cewsh: I know this is where I normally talk about the feud that led up to a match, but I would hesitate to even really call this a feud. While Owens, Reigns and Chris Jericho have been mixing it up for a few months now, this is less a feud between Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens than it is an exercise in default weekly booking. In Owens and Jericho, the writers found an act that can eat up 40 minutes worth of airtime every week, and in Reigns they have a babyface for them to face who can lose without losing momentum. Somewhere along the way a shark cage got thrown in to make this seem like a blow off match of some sort, but despite all their attempts to convince us at the last minute that this is the bitter, heated feud of 2016, this feud is coming in to this show so flat that you could use it as a ruler.
Of course, while this is all true, that doesn’t mean the match itself can’t be good, and holy cow is it ever good. A cursory look around the internet has shown me that people aren’t all that enthusiastic about it, but I was on board from start to finish. The way they layered the high spots on each other really built everything wonderfully, and I would rank this right up there with the best performances of Roman Reigns’ career, as he was just awesome as the juggernaut that never stops coming. If they had managed to make us believe in the story or the stakes coming in, this may have been a whole lot cooler, but even so, this was a big time credit to both guys, and may have been one of the most memorable matches at a Royal Rumble ever if not for…uh…a match that comes later. We’ll get to that.
On the downside, beyond the fun of seeing him raised up in the cage to start with, it just seemed odd to have Jericho suspended above them ring, constantly beating on the chain throughout the whole thing, and while the Braun Strowman interference made sense, and was the right ending for everyone involved, something about it just came off flat. None of that killed the match, but it’s the small details that count.
82 out of 100
Cewsh’s Download Seal of Approval
MichaelC: Seemed like a decent match, but I spent the entire thing worried about Jericho being in that cage. You see, an very old favourite of mine, Owen Hart, died in a stunt gone wrong on live PPV. So anytime they bring abseiling or shark cage hi-jinks, I can’t enjoy it. Instead, I glance at the screen in high anxiety, thinking “Please end this match!” “Thank god, its over. Get him down!”
Wrestling fandom? It fucks you up!
Now that I know Jericho doesn’t meet a nasty end, the match is alright, but it’ll take time to recover from that anxiety.
Kevin Owens Over Roman Reigns Following THE STROWMANING.
Segment 3 – WWE Crusierweight Championship – Rich Swann (c) vs. Neville
Cewsh: The crusierweight division is a failed experiment, though not for lack of trying on WWE’s part. They just tried in the WRONG WAY. They gave them a show before it had established characters who could actually carry one, they’ve shied away from using their established stars in the division until Neville, and they have segregated them from the rest of the roster so thoroughly, that they’ve become the new piss break segment on every show. A lot of bad decisions have been made from the end of the Crusierweight Classic until now, but I have to at least give credit to the one thing that actually is working, and that’s Neville. With a menacing look, a build that puts the rest of the division to shame, and promo skills that have emerged out of some hitherto unknown place within him, Neville is goddamn killing it every single night.
On the other hand, we have Rich Swann who is very talented and was the first crusierweight to actually get a reaction from audiences. That’s all good, but he is maybe the most painfully one dimensional character in all of wrestling, despite desperate last minute attempts to stuff a backstory into him and this feud. As a result, the ending of this match is not in question at all. Neville is winning. After that, who knows?
Indeed, Neville DOES win, and the match is aggressively fine, without ever rising above that. Despite some fun action and some top level heeling by Neville, there’s just really nothing you can do if 52,000 people are sitting on their hands and looking around for the beer vendor. I wish there was more to say about it, but it was a 205 Live main event in terms of quality, and the amount that anyone seemed to care about its existence. Best of luck to you, Neville. You’re the king of a very troubled kingdom, and times will only get harder from here.
72 out of 100
MichaelC: What idiot thought it a good idea to introduce a whole bunch of new wrestlers on RAW with no build up whatsoever, and assume they’d get over?
There’s nothing wrong with Rich Swann, but the fans clearly don’t give a shit about him.
I blame the lighting. Blue lighting…something something science….to do with lowering mood and inducing sleep.
So what we have here is a HHH idea which someone in production is lighting badly to induce apathy in. Who could be so evil?
Which incidentally, is what the Cruiserweight division will be in a hurry unless they do something.
Neville Over Rich Swann Following The Rings of Saturn.
Segment 4 – WWE Championship – AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena
Cewsh: On some level, every John Cena feud is the same. He is the only household name in the wrestling industry, and every opponent who targets him is looking to show that they’re better than him. Beating John Cena is the one thing in wrestling that is the definitive marker that you have arrived and are someone to be taken seriously. Here is the list of people who have beaten John Cena on a major show in recent years. Kevin Owens, Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan. With the exception of Orton, every one of those guys used John to get their first major win to propel them into the main event scene. It’s not such a kayfabe accomplishment, but a hurdle you must overcome before fans will accept you as being a main eventer in this company. Over the years, John Cena, as a character, has grown wearier and wearier of the endless line forming to seek validation and deliverance. No one has been the victim or more surprise debuts, run in attacks, or alliances formed to take him down. He has faced down these challenges again and again and again.
And then AJ Styles arrived.
Arguably the greatest American wrestler of our era, AJ Styles languished in TNA for a decade as their figurehead and workhorse. He was never appreciated or challenged while he was there, and finally he left and went to New Japan where he truly found himself as a performer. In the Bullet Club, he found the attitude and personality he had been looking for all along, and for the first time in his career, he became the most complete performer in all of wrestling, and probably one of it’s 5 biggest names. Then he arrived in WWE, and was put in a feud with Cena so that he could get that validation win just like everyone else. He got it. Yippy skippy hooray. But while this feud went on for a few months and was fine, it wasn’t until the brand split took place that things really changed.
John Cena took time off to go be a celebrity, and while he was gone AJ Styles became the face of Smackdown, and began to loudly tear John Cena down. When Cena finally came back, ready for the same ol’ feud as always, Styles made his intentions clear. He did not want to beat John Cena. He wanted to REPLACE him. After years of toiling away, being better than John Cena and developing a style that could never be matched by someone like Cena, Styles was finally ready to truly be the top star in the wrestling world, and these weren’t just words. We could all see that Styles truly WAS ready, and so coming into this match, actual stakes exist. A win here proves AJ Styles right. A win here carries Styles towards his first Wrestlemania main event. A win here diminishes John Cena for the first time. A win here ends the John Cena era.
This is one of those matches that carries with it that rare “big fight feel” that promotions are chasing at all times. When Styles and Cena stand across from each other in the ring, something BIG seems to be taking place. It’s more than the simple smark/mark worlds colliding appeal of Punk/Cena, and the visceral hatred between Cena/Edge. In a way that only Okada/Tanahashi has recently shown, this match is between two people who could clearly be considered the best in the world, vying solely over that title. The fans buy into both of them and the importance of the match, the excitement in the atmosphere is tangible. Then the match starts.
THE MATCH IS FUCKING AMAZING.
Saying that this match is the best in Royal Rumble history is a hilarious exercise, since that isn’t really a high mark to reach. Nor is this the best match of either guy’s career. But the combination of these two and their contrasting styles is an absolute marvel to behold. After a few early minutes that, admittedly, drag, they take ahold of the format for big time WWE matches and just wring it for all it’s worth. You’ve got Cena over here pulling out every single trick in his “weirdo moves I know” arsenal, and Styles kicking out of moves that were engineered for years to be ultimate kill moves. By the time Cena started dishing out BURNING LARIATS of all things, I knew we had something special on our hands, and then it just kept building and building and building until finally Cena pulls out a roll through AA that we have NEVER seen before to get the win.
I Audibly Yelled Out “YESSSSSS JOHN YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”
I have never seen a match steal the show from the Rumble itself. Not ever in the 28 years they’ve been doing them. Until now. They gave us a match we should have gotten at Wrestlemania early, and while that is probably foolish in the long run, OH MY GOD ITS SO GOOD GO WATCH IT RIGHT NOW
93 out of 100
Cewsh’s Download Seal of Approval
MichaelC: AJ’s great. Cena’s the most irritating man in all of wrestling, and all the more irritating for how great he can be.
This match is great.
Cewsh probably has it ranked about like 101/100 with a Seal of Approval. If they still do the kittens, it probably got a thousand.
John Cena Over AJ Styles Following A Roll Through Attitude Adjustment.
Segment 5 – THE ROYAL FUCKING RUMBLE
Cewsh: It’s time, boys and girls. The way this works here at Cewsh Reviews is we’ll give you our stream of consciousness thoughts as the match goes on, while MichaelC keeps you updated on interesting Rumble trivia you can use to impress your friends and/or acquaintances. Let’s throw it over to the Professor with some words of wisdom before we get started.
MichaelC: We never did the Rumble in 2016. So in 2014, readers of this blog got Grumpy Michael, in 2015, they got Grumpy Michael, and in 2016, when they’d have got Very Good Mood Michael, there wasn’t a Cewsh Review! Now I’m worried that this rumble match will be awful, and people will just assume I’m permanently grumply, like a Defrost type colleague.
I’ve been away for two years. Is that an in-joke your readers will still get?
2016 was a brilliant return to form after a few dodgy Rumble matches. Will 2017 build on that?
Entrant #1 – Big Cass
Notable Entrants – Shawn Michaels (1995) and Chris Benoit (2004) won from this number, it doesn’t get more notable.
Unremarkable Entrants – Dlo Brown (2000) and Crush (1997).
MichaelC: Watching this live, I was having a Skype conversation with an old pal. I asked him who he thought would be number one and he said “Cass, so they can do the intro.” When the first strands of the music hit, I laughed.
Cewsh: I am kind of surprised that they got to do their entire spiel before the match starts. But Cass is a darkhorse for me tonight. He might be that guy who goes an hour just to cement him as a future big deal.
Entrant #2 – Chris Jericho
Notable Entrants – Rey Mysterio (2006) won. Some guy called Chris Jericho lasted 48 minutes in 2013.
Unremarkable Entrants – Headshrinker Samu (1994), Bull Buchanan (2001)
MichaelC: In one of the early Cewsh Reviews, Cewsh and I compared Jericho to the modern day Tito Santana. It felt rather apt (and if you think I’m going to crowbar in a reference to Tito drawing #2 in 1988, think again). So where the hell did 2016 come from?
Jericho had one of his career years. It’s not that the matches were any better than they were in 2012 (though they were), but it’s as if he actually cared, and his heelery became one of the highlights of the show.
So when Cass walks down to the ring, and his music cuts with no fanfare directly into Jericho’s and he flounces down to the ring like a star, with his aggravatingly condescending manner and neck scarf… The man is so great at being a naturally smug prick villain that it makes all those times they tried to make him a super serious villain who forced alcohol down people’s throats feel like a complete waste of his and our time.
Cewsh: And all those times he was a bland babyface with no direction were a waste of time, and all those times he was overshadowed his his own angle by putting him with someone more interesting were a waste of time, and all those times he came back with nothing to actually do were a waste of time.
Damn, if you condense his career down to the 3 or 4 years where he wasn’t wasting time, it looks pretty good though!
MichaelC: I like Michael Cole referring to Big Cass as a “royal rumble rookie”. See, he’s paying attention to previous Cewsh Reviews.
Entrant #3 – Kalisto
Notable Entrants: Ric Flair (1993)
Unremarkable Entrants: Nearly everyone else, but some include Marty Jannetty (1990), Papa Shango (1993), Rick Bognar the Fake Razor Ramon (1997), Tom Brandi (who? 1998), Golga (1999), Headbanger Mosh (2000), Daniel Puder (2005) and I could go on here…
MichaelC: Hmm, call me pessimistic, but I don’t think Kalisto is going to be Ric Flair.
Cewsh: I’m sure he’ll be thankful for that when he isn’t cutting promos on highway state patrolman at the age of 65.
Also, I didn’t notice it until this match started, but holy crap the ramp is long. It takes poor Kalisto a full 10 seconds of dead sprinting to get there. And half the Rumble entrants are giants. Hmm, this may be the longest Rumble ever. Can we get some golf carts in here?
Entrant #4 – Mojo Rawley
Notable Entrants: The Rock became a star in 54 mins from #4 in 1998. Also, obligatory “Mr Perfect did well in 1989” reference.
Unremarkable Entrants: The Great Khali lasted a minute in 2008. Zack Ryder (2011)
MichaelC: Mojo Rawley runs in like some big insane big goofy big… wrestling…man.
Cewsh: Mojo Rawley is a guy who always confuses me with his existence. Like, I always forget he’s a person and then he comes charging in and i’m like, “Why is a neon colored elephant in the ring?”
Entrant #5 – Jack Gallagher
Notable Entrants: Steve Austin (1997)
Unremarkable Entrants: The Hurricane (2005)
MichaelC: Jack Gallagher is great. I’m glad he got into this match, as the only cruiserweight who continually gets crowds interested in him. He even gets some memorable moments.
Cewsh: I think the umbrella is going to get more over than the man himself. But that umbrella is money, baby. MONEY.
MichaelC: To be fair, everyone’s got a decent showcase so far. It’s just some have massive upsides, and others are Mojo Rawley.
Entrant #6 – Mark Henry
Notable Entrants: Roddy Piper (1990), Rick Martel (1991)
Unremarkable Entrants: Bart Gunn (1997)
MichaelC: Home state hero of sorts. Mark Henry is semi-retired these days, but good quality for these sorts of matches. Though at least no one said “who can eliminate Mark Henry?” Chyna did it once! Rey Mysterio another time. It’s not proved especially difficult.
Cewsh: I just now realized that Mark Henry, Big Show and Kane have been off tv enough lately that I’m actually happy to see them! That hasn’t been true about any of those 3 in at least a decade. Yay Big Mark!
Jack Gallagher Has Been Eliminated.
MichaelC: Nooooo, there’s goes Jack Gallagher.
And an old Rumble thing holds true – first man eliminated is always #1, #2, #3 or #5. Never #4 or a late number. That’s blatantly not a deliberately designed stat, but one I find interesting none the less. Hey, maybe one day #30 will be the first guy out!
Cewsh: I would love to see that. Just a writhing mass of people trying to get their spots in.
Entrant #7 – BRAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNN Strowman
Notable Entrants: HHH (2009)
Unremarkable Entrants: Zack Ryder (2010)
MichaelC: Here comes the man, in the spot which Diesel made famous in 1994.
Will Braun Strowman “Diesel” the Rumble?
Cewsh: I don’t think you can use that as an adjective and have it sound like a positive thing. Or non-sexual.
Mojo Rawley Has Been Eliminated.
MichaelC: There goes Mojo after a huge spinebuster!
Big Cass Has Been Eliminated.
MichaelC: There goes Big Cass!
Kalisto attacks Braun! That goes as well as you might expect!
Kalisto Has Been Eliminated.
Cewsh: Braun Strowman is eliminating the entire field! He is eliminating the world. HE IS ELIMINATING CIVILIZATION.
MichaelC: Jericho, on seeing the big guy coming, immediately sods off for a time out. Smarter than the average bear.
It’s down to Mark Henry, who plays his role as cannon fodder veteran big guy!
Cewsh: I assume this will be the first of MANY face to face staredowns in this match. Poor Mark.
Mark Henry Has Been Eliminated.
MichaelC: Well, Braun is doing a damn fine attempt at Dieseling the Rumble so far!
Cewsh: Stop saying that! It sounds wrong!
Entrant #8 – Sami Zayn
Notable Entrants: Rey Mysterio (20050
Unremarkable Entrants: Ron Bass (1989), Bushwhacker Butch (1991)
MichaelC: Right, now, before the Rumble, they had one single “Rumble draw tumbler” section, in which Dean Ambrose and Sami Zayn drew their numbers. Ambrose opened Zayn’s ball, and announced he had drawn number #8. Now, time and again, WWE do these backstage segments which reveal (or hint unsubtle enough to reveal) what numbers people draw, or other times make it part of a storyline. In terms of suspense killing, “Roman Reigns you need to start as entrant #1” or “Guerrero stole my number” are six and half a dozen to the same effect.
So, when it got announced that Sami was #8 in the match, my immediate thought was: “Why the hell spoil that?”
But sometimes the WWE writers are actually quite clever. By now we all know the tropes of the Rumble match. We’re fairly genre savvy about how the Diesel Process works. So right as Braun was thumping Mark Henry, my friend on Skype said: “Oh, poor Sami”! There was this sudden realization about the earlier reveal, and what it meant about who was coming out next.
And we all know what happens to the next guy in this sequence! He gets Zack Ryder’d!
So when Zayn runs down to the ring, and survives, through pluck, luck and grim determination, he throws everything the audience is expecting into flux, and the lukewarm reaction to his entrance (because everyone and their dog expects lamb to the slaughter) grows as the arena starts to realize he’s not there to get killed.
Well, he does get killed but his feet don’t touch the floor, which is the main thing.
So why the #8 reveal? Purely so that, with the NEWZ that Sami’s in the doghouse, and those Meltzer hints about him being embarrassed in the match, they could play on 30 years of history and completely wrong foot the lot of us.
Often the WWE do daft writing things, but sometimes, they do something well. And we should applaud them.
Cewsh: Also, Sami Zayn looks like a foot. I know i’ve never expressed my opinion on that in these reviews before, but I think the time has come. A big ol’ foot.
Entrant #9 – The Big Show
Notable Entrants: Shawn Michaels (1989)
Unremarkable Entrant: Zack Ryder (2015)
MichaelC: Big Show lasts 90 seconds in there with BRAUN. This officially makes Sami Zayn tougher than The Big Show. Some dog house that Zayn is in!
Cewsh: Also, Big Show is looking so amazingly good! I hope he actually gets something out of this run he’s on because he genuinely looks like a whole new man. Kudos Show!
Big Show Has Been Eliminated.
Cewsh: Sorry Show! Your abs still look great!
MichaelC: Oh it’s number ten. Yeah I’ve seen the memes, but thank god the WWE wouldn’t do tha….
Entrant #10 – Tye Dillinger
Notable Entrants: Hercules (1991) lasted 38 minutes from this spot. The most telling stat possible about the quality of the 1991 Royal Rumble match!
Unremarkable Entrant: Epico (2012), or Mediocreo as Cewsh called him.
Cewsh: TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN
I can’t believe they actually did it. Joy upon joys!
MichaelC: Oh hell, it’s the wrestling meme himself!
Dillinger running straight towards Braun and taking it to him, makes him more credible than however many years of taking on Eric Young.
Snapshot of the first third – lots of no hopers get moments to shine. Braun’s the star.
Entrant #11 – James Ellsworth
Notable Entrants: Andre the Giant (1990) in his last Rumble. Dean Ambrose in 2014.
Unremarkable Entrant: Jamie Noble (2008), sadly.
MichaelC: Back in July, James Ellsworth was the first of the Braun jobbers. Remember those guys? Say a few words as Braun comes down to the ring and then die horribly. I loved it.
But Ellsworth had sticking power, showing a good deal of character in his very limited time. So they brought him back again, and again, and he sort of became Dean Ambrose’s little mascot until he betrayed Ambrose for a WWE contract. So it goes.
But no matter how Ellsworth tries and fails (he’s got the Spike Dudley/Mikey Whipwreck permanent underdog thing down to a T), he keeps running back into Braun Strowman.
So here we have him doing a running high five to the ring, alongside Carmella, until he gets to ringside and suddenly twigs: “Oh shit Brauns waiting for me again!”
Entrant #12 – Dean Ambrose
Notable Entrants: Undertaker’s Rumble debut in 1991
Unremarkable Entrant: Nikolai Volkoff (1992)
James Ellsworth Has Been Eliminated.
MichaelC: Instead of beating up Ellsworth for betraying him, Dean tricks Ellsworth into running into the ring. I laughed lots, then cringed lots as Ellsworth took the single most sickening elimination since Paul London in 2005.
Cewsh: This elimination was Ellsworth’s destiny. He was brought into this world for this moment, which will live on in highlight packages forever more.
Entrant #13 – Baron Corbin
Notable Entrants: Hacksaw Jim Duggan (1988). The Rock (2001)
Unremarkable Entrants: Mohammad Hassan (2005)
Cewsh: Baron Corbin’s whole existence in WWE evolves around getting to look cool in matches like this, so I think they’ll have something up their sleeve for him.
Tye Dillinger Has Been Eliminated.
MichaelC: Dillinger goes, after going toe to toe with Braun for a bit, he gets overpowered and out.
Cewsh: Everybody is just hitting finishers on Strowman like he’s a tackling dummy, but he still hasn’t left his feet. But, oh shit, here comes Corbin!
Braun Strowman Has Been Eliminated.
Cewsh: Oh shit! That’s Baron Corbin’s big moment for the night! He might as well just go home now.
MichaelC: In a rare moment of team work, Ambrose, Zayn and Corbin all work together, which culminates with Braun taking a fine bump off a clothesline for elimination. All credit to Braun, who looked like a star in this thing, and to Corbin too, who looked like a man with unlimited potential for the first time since… his NXT debut, perhaps.
Seven eliminations is exactly what Diesel got in 1994. I’m not saying “expect Braun to be WWE Champion by Survivor Series”, but I’m not saying to not expect it either…
Entrant #14 – Kofi Kingston
Notable Entrants: Bulldog (1991) lasted 36 minutes.
Unremarkable Entrants: Doug Gilbert (1996)
MichaelC: Ah the curse of 14th…
1988: Ron Bass – released within about a year
1989: Marty Jannetty – became a punchline, but he’s probably a sod anyhow.
1990: Haku – nothing happened. You think a coincidental curse is stupid enough to attack Haku?
1991: Bulldog. Dead aged 39.
1992: Hercules. Dead aged 47. Released within 3 months.
1993: The Berzerker. Released within…days, iirc.
1994: Doink the Clown. Clearly the curse struck the wrong clown.
1995: Jacob Blu: A Nazi-sympathiser who now finances TNA.
1996: Doug Gilbert. Who?
1997: Goldust. Maybe at one time, but he’s made a substantial recovery from drug addiction now.
1998: Ken Shamrock.
1999: Kurrgan. Released within 3-4 months
2000: Bob Backlund. Gone by May.
2001: Goodfather. Career pretty much over by May.
2002: DDP. Career ended that year.
2003: Eddie Guerrero. Died in 2005 aged 38.
2004: Rikishi. Released that year.
2005: Orlando Jordan.
2006: Joey Mercury. Met a ladder which disagreed with him and essentially ended his full time WWE career.
2007: Jeff Hardy. Err, he likes drugs, I guess. And got stuck in TNA. That’s sort of a curse.
2008: Umaga. Dead. Damn you, curse! I liked Umaga!
2009: Finlay. Retired from WWE in-ring competition within the year
2010: MVP. Released that year, to much surprise.
2011: Chris Masters. Released that year, to many tears from Cewsh.
2012: Jinder Mahal. Zzzzzzz
2013: Rey Mysterio. His career was pretty much finishing by this point in WWE.
2014: Kevin Nash. Arrested soon after.
2016: Stardust. Even Cody wasn’t immune, and he survived the Curse of #3 (it doesn’t bring death or job loss, just shit rumble performance…)
Well, 2010 Cewsh would have loved this!
He looked good in this, but the stats don’t lie, Kofi’s WWE career is clearly on borrowed time.
Entrant #15 – The Miz
Notable Entrants: Randy Savage (1989)
Unremarkable Entrants: One of the Squat Team members (1996)
Cewsh: The Miz has been in 10 Royal Rumbles? Has he ever gotten to do anything cool in any of them? Poor Miz!
MichaelC: Also at this point, I am realizing how good Corey Graves is at the whole commentary thing. He’s been putting over every entrant so far – with the exception of Big Cass and Enzo who he hates for comedic effect – and making succinct points which add to the wrestlers in the match, like how confident Corbin was running down to the ring because HE thinks he’s the biggest and best wrestler in the match. There’s no real histrionics or showing off, just calm and adds to the thing.
We need more of that and less Heel Cole/Matt Striker.
Cewsh: This year’s KOFI BIG TIME NO ELIMINATION SUPE SAVE SPECTACULAR, had him get caught on the top rope by Baron Corbin and attempt to escape by climbing onto the metal ring support BEHIND the turnbuckle. Then, when Corbin swipes his legs out from under him, he lands ribs first on the metal with a sickening thud, but manages to hold on, slip back into the ring, and nail Corbin with a Trouble in Paradise.
MichaelC: Kofi’s big save this year looked more like a save from a fuck up, to be honest.
Entrant #16 – Sheamus
Notable Entrants: Arn Anderson (1989) in his only Royal Rumble!
Unremarkable Entrants: The other Squat Team member.
MichaelC: Cewsh, Remember when Sheamus won the 2012 Royal Rumble?
And cost you the Cewsh Reviews bet?
That was great.
Cewsh: You’ll notice we didn’t place a bet on the winner this time, because reviewing those shows has broken me.
Entrant #17 – Big E
Notable Entrants: Owen Hart (1996)
Unremarkable Entrants: Damian Demento (1993)
MichaelC: #17 is the number I drew in the Official FAN forum Rumble Sweepstake! Come on Big E! Cewsh backed you for big things back in 2012! Don’t make him a sad puppy!
Cewsh: Mikey is referring to the first edition of Cewsh Scouts, where I earmarked Big E for greatness. I’m still holding him to that!
MichaelC: Jericho is doing the “I am awake, I hit by finisher, I die again” routine.
Entrant #18 – Rusev
Notable Entrants: Hulk Hogan (1989). Shawn won from here in 1996.
Unremarkable Entrants: Dino Bravo (1990), although it’s also remarkable in many bad ways.
MichaelC: We’re still at the point where every newcomer is getting some highlights in. Not an easy thing when the ring starts to crowd up.
Cewsh: I’m just excited that we’re officially going with “Handsome” Rusev.
Entrant #19 – Cesaro
Notable Entrants: Earthquake (1990). Cena and Reigns won here in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
Unremarkable Entrants: Hacksaw Jim Duggan (2012)
MichaelC: For some reason I’m reminded of Foley’s comment that any fool can get a chokeslam or piledriver over, but it takes a real talent to get the worm or a peoples elbow over as a big crowd popping move. Cesaro’s Big Swing comes to mind here.
Mandy pointed out: “Hey, it’s one of the guys you like!” and then laughed as he got dizzy on his own twirls.
Entrant#20 – Xavier Woods
Notable Entrants: Big E in 2015, and as part of The New Day too!
Unremarkable Entrants: Ahmed Johnson (1998)
MichaelC: Sami Zayn’s been in for around 25 minutes by now. Imagine what they’d have done if he got NUCLEAR HEAT.
“Goddamnit, Sami, you’re still in trouble. We’re giving you a 16 month World title reign, that’ll show you!”
Entrant #21 – Bray Wyatt
Notable Entrants: Ultimate Warrior (1990), Randy Savage (1991)
Unremarkable Entrants: The Warlord (1989)
MichaelC: Xavier Woods is everywhere. He got subbed out of the rumble three times, and was clearly trying to make his every moment count in one.
Entrant #22 – Apollo Crews
Notable Entrants: Earthquake (1991). Sheamus won from here in 2012. So did HHH in 2002.
Unremarkable Entrants: Either Hardcore Holly or Prince Albert had it in 2000.
MichaelC: When I watched this show with Mandy, she said that of all the competitors, Apollo Crews was the one she couldn’t see “still being around by the next Rumble”.
Cewsh: This is the part of the Rumble that gets really hard to review, because literally it’s just guys running in, hitting two finishers and then being absorbed into the swarm of dudes.
ALL OF NEW DAY Has Been Eliminated.
Cewsh: Hey wait a…
Sheamus and Cesaro Have Been Eliminated.
Cewsh: Dammit, I JUST finished saying how boring this part was, and then they go and eliminate half the field. STOP MAKING ME LOOK BAD, VINCE.
Entrant #23 – Randy Orton
Notable Entrants: Mr Perfect (1991). Lex Luger won from here in 1994.
Unremarkable Entrants: Either Hardcore Holly or Prince Albert had it in 2000. (Yeah we could all go check, but meh, it’s Hardcore Holly and Prince Albert…)
Cewsh: Oh my god, could you imagine if Randy actually won this thing?
MichaelC: Remember Rule 2 of Cewsh Reviews?
Never jump off something towards Randy Orton.
Well, Sami flies. And gets RKO’d. 30 mins for him so far though.
Entrant #24 – Dolph Ziggler
Notable Entrants: Hogan won from here in 1991, Austin in 1998 and Rock in 2000. I used to think it was the lucky Rumble spot. Seventeen years on…
Unremarkable Entrants: Honky Tonk Man (1990)
MichaelC: “He has a very different attitude” says Michael Cole. Yep, I hear he’s been trumping about it on Smackdown.
Cewsh: Of course his “different attitude” doesn’t involve new music, new ring gear, a new look, new moves, or new opponents. It really just involves him being mean to Kalisto. Maybe the problem is Kalisto.
MichaelC: In 2014, I made comment about Big E looking weak in the Rumble, and Cewsh said it was down to too many big men, some will look weak. It snuck into the middle of conversation in 2015 in an amusing gremlin.
If it snuck in right now, we could just pretend we’re discussing Apollo Crews. It’d fit.
Cewsh: Except Big E is and was amazing, and Apollo Crews is what you would get if Mr. Clean was a wrestler.
Entrant #25 – Luke Harper
Notable Entrants: Hogan won from here in 1990.
Unremarkable Entrants: A-Train (2003), Zack Ryder (2013)
MichaelC: Imagine a world where they push Luke Harper for more than a month at a time….
Cewsh: I really feel like they forget he exists. He’ll have an awesome run for a month where he does all this cool stuff, and then it’s “BUT WE FOUND A BIGGER GUY!”
Entrant #26 – Brock Lesnar
Notable Entrants: Hogan didn’t win from here in 1992.
Unremarkable Entrants: Scotty 2 Hotty (2001), but it’s worth it. Trust me. This is the latest number in the rumble – discounting 2011’s anomaly – which hasn’t produced a single winner.
Cewsh: Well fuck. Bye everyone!
Dean Ambrose Has Been Eliminated.
MichaelC: Apparently Dean Ambrose after 25 minutes is no match for a fresh Brock Lesnar. Who knew?
Entrant #27 – Enzo Amore
Notable Entrants: Big John Studd, Yokozuna, Bret Hart and Steve Austin have all won from this number. And no one ever will again now WWE have noticed this fact.
Unremarkable Entrants: Goldust (2003), Billy Gunn (2004), Viscera (2007), Jinder Mahal (2013)
Cewsh: Oh Enzo. Please never change. All of the suicidal bravery of Santino, with none of the irony. I love him so.
Enzo Amore Has Been Eliminated.
MichaelC: Enzo is very clever here. By OTTing his psyche up, before murder by Brock, he adds crucial in-ring seconds, and thus avoids the Santino Award for the night. By three seconds. Clever man, that Enzo.
Enrant #28 – Goldberg
Notable Entrants: Rick Rude (1990)
Unremarkable Entrant: Brian Knobbs (1991) – both of these men made the final three of their respective rumbles, however!
MichaelC: GOLD BOULDER! GOLD BOULDER!
Cewsh: SHIT’S IS GOING DOWN LIKE A WORKING TOILET
Brock Lesnar Has Been Eliminated.
MichaelC: Goldberg wipes out Brock. I think they’re doing the “redemption” angle with the wrong guy to get the sympathy for such an angle, but hey, it’s their show.
Cewsh: I actually love how they’re ding this, because ultimately, Goldberg is no match for Brock Lesnar. It’s kind of ridiculous to even suggest that he is. But whereas Lesnar’s matches are always drawn out beatdowns that last and last until he takes your best shot and laughs it off, Goldberg just runs through people. Goldberg’s best shot is too damn good. So to beat him, Lesnar has to actually take him seriously, with is completely contrary to his entire WWE run. It’s basically a drawn out lesson about hubris starring giant muscle mountains.
#29 One on one with Da Undertaker
Notable Entrants: Sid’s only rumble spot, in 1992. Edge won here in 2010. Jericho was runner up in 2012.
Unremarkable Entrants: Hercules (1990), The Warlord (1991), Repo Man (1993), Henry Godwinn (1997), Chainz (1998), Godfather (2000), Miz (2007), Sin Cara (2013) – not for nothing, this position used to have a reputation for dross, though WWE have tried to make it a marquee one in the last fifteen years or so more than not.
MichaelC: So all match long, its taken people ages to get down to the ring.
How long would it take Undertaker to walk down there, with his well known entrance?
He teleports into the ring.
It’s a joke, and I laughed lots at it.
MichaelC: Watching Goldberg and Undertaker fight in the ring…for the FIRST TIME EVER IN WRESTLING HISTORY… makes me realise how much the Goldberg WrestleMania match is not the dream match I want…
Hey, there’s only one man left! And it’s an unnamed star….
Balor? He’s doing a Cena, right?
Asuka? Hey, imagine Asuka comes out right now and kills everyone in the ring, I’d mark the fuck out.
Cewsh: Forget those guys! LASHLEY? IS IT LASHLEY! ITS TIME FOR LASHLEY!
Entrant #30 – Roman fecking Reigns
Notable Entrants: Undertaker (2007), Cena (2008), HHH (2016)
Unremarkable Entrants: Despite Ted Dibiase singling out Adam Bomb, arguably anyone else who drew the final spot and didn’t win.
MichaelC: They’re trolling me! I mean us. I mean everyone.
Well, not Cewsh, who is excitedly gripping his Roman Reigns teddy bear right now.
Don’t You Dare Talk Shit About The Little Dog.
Yeah I know, he’s quite good. But see all that I wrote in 2015? I stick by it. They could have had a new Cena with Reigns, and all they have is the next Orton. And this use of him to play with the crowds is only making things worse.
Sami Zayn Has Been Eliminated.
Sami Zayn, after lasting FORTY-FIVE minutes, goes down to a chockeslam. Actual fans online thought this was an actual burial. If this is a burial, where you get to look like one of the toughest guys on the entire roster, and showcased for one of the longest Rumble times EVER, then bloody hell, I want that kind of burial in my job.
Undertaker looks old. I think 26 years between Rumble debut and latest rumble is a record by far.
Chris Jericho Has Been Eliminated.
The Miz Has Been Eliminated.
The Undertaker Has Been Eliminated.
Jericho lasted 61 minutes. He was 80 seconds off beating Rey Mysterio’s record. Eighty seconds FFS. Can’t stand Mysterio.
Bray Wyatt Has Been Eliminated.
Roman Reigns Has Been Eliminated.
And so we find out the answer to the age old question: how do you get the fans to cheer a Randy Orton main event push again? Make him Not Roman Reigns.
Cewsh: It’s actually, kind of brilliant. If the idea is that the Royal Rumble should come from Smackdown, because they will need more help fleshing out their Wrestlemania card with all of the major stars on Raw, then having Randy Orton win makes sense, as he’s easily the biggest household name on that show. Meanwhile, by bringing Reigns out last and convincing everyone that he was actually going to win, you made it so people would actually be pumped when Randy Orton won, which is a thing that should not have been possible, because 2017 Randy Orton is butt soup with a side of butt baguette.
Should WWE have had to bait and switch us into liking the Rumble winner? Fuck no, it’s dumb and Randy Orton is a shit winner. But most geniuses lack common sense.
This was a great show, even if it wasn’t really a great Rumble. For the first time, the matches were so good, it made the Rumble match itself icing on the cake, rather than the only reason to show up and watch this stupid thing. That said, Randy Orton won, so EVERYONE CAN GO TO HELL.
Michael C’s Final Thoughts:
Roman Reigns being the “big surprise” did piss me off, but…its very effective use of 2015 to make everyone fear they’re going to do the same thing all over, so when Orton wins, everyone cheers. The match itself had a lot of fallow moments, but it helped make a lot of people (Braun, Sami, Corbin, Dillinger, etc) look better after than they did coming into the match, so on that account, I’d guess it’s a qualified success. Time will tell how much of one it is. Hmmm…hesitant B- with room for hindsight and history to improve the score…