Charlotte (c) vs. Bayley
Raw Women’s Championship Match
I was surprised to see this match kick things off for such an important show in front of a hot crowd, but both girls really brought their A game to the Alamodome. Bayley’s lack of athleticism led to a few awkward moments in the match, but overall, I enjoyed it and thought it was a solid way to start the evening.
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Universal Championship Match
One of the things that made WWE so great in the late 90’s and early 2000’s was the level of physicality during World Championship matches on pay-per-view. With safety concerns at an all-time high (rightfully so), violent matches of that caliber have been much less frequent. This match, however, was one of the more physical bouts I can remember taking place in a WWE ring in quite some time. A huge “thank you” to both men (more so to Kevin Owens) for absolutely punishing their bodies to tell an amazing story through a professional wrestling match.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Rich Swann (c) vs. Neville
Cruiserweight Championship Match
I was surprised to see this match at this placement on the card and not at the beginning of the show, but based on the crowd response, WWE made the right move. Despite fantastic matches like this one occurring on a regular basis, fans still seem to be lukewarm at best when it comes to the Cruiserweight division. We’re excited about the outcome of this match and hopefully, a familiar face like Neville can help raise fans’ interest in the division.
John Cena vs. AJ Styles
WWE Championship Match
First of all, the crowd response for this match was amazing. The electricity in the building made me feel like I was watching the main event of WrestleMania, and the match itself was certainly worthy of that honor. I don’t know if we’ll ever see another AJ Styles/John Cena match, but if we do, they will have their work cut out for them topping this one. WWE’s booking of AJ Styles has been phenomenal, no pun intended, and John Cena capturing his sixteenth WWE Championship was a moment we will be talking about for decades.
Winner: John Cena
2017 Royal Rumble Match
This match ruined the entire night for some people, which is completely unreasonable. Although we don’t disagree that it was a letdown, the rest of the show was too good to disregard. Tye Dillinger coming out at no. 10 was fantastic, and hopefully, he’s officially a member of the main roster now. Kofi Kingston had another phenomenal save, and if you haven’t seen it, I suggest you check it out on the Network ASAP. Other than that, the rest of the match was borderline bad. I know spots were limited due to the stacked field, but there were not any legends, which was a bummer. I didn’t think we would see Finn Bálor, I knew Kenny Omega was not going to show up, but I did have high hopes for Samoa Joe. The fact that he was not in even the match was a disappointment, but hopefully, he shows up on Raw or SmackDown soon. The eliminations of Braun Strowman, The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and Goldberg were all anticlimactic. If Roman Reigns is going to be in the match, have him eliminate Braun Strowman, so he gets some revenge for what happened earlier in the night. I understand his main role was to prevent fans from booing Randy Orton, but if you’re so worried about Orton getting a bad reaction that you essentially book the match to cater to him, then don’t book him to win. Letting Bray Wyatt win the Royal Rumble match eliminates any need for Roman Reigns, as well as establishing a new star in front of one of the biggest audiences WWE will have this year. Finally, completely writing Seth Rollins off of the show was irksome. I understand why it was done, but Rollins deserved to be on that show in some capacity, even if it was simply to raise a little hell to help further his feud with Triple H.
Winner: Randy Orton
This was easily one of the best WWE pay-per-views of the last three years. If you’re a professional wrestling fan and you didn’t enjoy the show, then perhaps WWE just isn’t your cup of tea. Every match on the undercard delivered, with both Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns and John Cena vs. AJ Styles stealing the show. The Rumble match itself wasn’t as exciting as it should have been, but it did not ruin the show. I was also disappointed to see the Raw set in action; I had hoped for something unique for the Rumble. Lastly, the ramp was way too long. It took everyone a few extra seconds to get down to the ring, which interrupted the flow of the match. Even with all of these less than thrilling details, the show was successful in one major way: it made me excited to tune in this week to see what’s going to happen next.