1/24 Royal Rumble: The internet explodes

WWE Royal Rumble PPV Review
January 24, 2016
By: Adam Martin of Wrestleview.com

Coming off some pretty lackluster Royal Rumble matches the last two years, WWE was once again faced with another predicament: stick with Roman Reigns or bail.

I wrote in my Smackdown review a few days ago that while I think WWE was right to make a go with Reigns as champion, I literally found myself not caring about him “overcoming the odds” tonight during the Royal Rumble. It just wasn’t grabbing my attention and while I’m very aware I don’t speak for the majority of wrestling fans, I got the same vibe from a number of people I interact with on a weekly basis that follow WWE closely.

Whether or not WWE saw that was a completely different thing. With Reigns setup as the first entranct during the 30 Man Royal Rumble, it seemed obvious that he was going to get special treatment and ultimately overcome the giant obstalce of outlasting 29 other WWE Superstars to firmly plant his flag as the rightful WWE World Heavyweight Champion. That is of course if you feel the WWE is overly predictable right now.

Instead, we were treated to the in-ring return of WWE COO Paul “Triple H” Levesque as the final entrant in the 2016 Royal Rumble to get his revenge post-TLC back in December. We all knew at some point this was going to happen. Was Triple H entering the Rumble a little predictable? Sure. Was it a bad thing? Not even close. In fact, I really feel like WWE made the right call in having Triple H win and walk away champion.

TRIPLE H BECOMES WORLD CHAMPION FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2009

Before I dive into this we have to state the obvious: the internet crowd has grown to literally fall in love with Triple H and the NXT brand over the last two years. He’s created a safe haven down in Orlando including a state of the art training facility and a product in NXT that is now showcasing some of the top talent from overseas and North America.

It was a remarkable shift from almost 14 years ago when he was one of the most hated guys on the internet for his role at the top of the card and for only getting said position because of who he decided to enter a real life relationship with and later marry. If you think John Cena heat is bad on the internet, you probably weren’t around a decade ago.

While Triple H is no stranger to having high profile WrestleMania matches or temporary feuds over the last several years, he’s largely transitioned to a television character with authority and as the lead ambassador for NXT. He’s literally removed himself from anything involving the main event scene and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for close to seven years. Having him exact revenge over Roman Reigns and then finding a way to sneak past Dean Ambrose to once again capture the World Title is everything you want out of a television villain. WWE made the right call Sunday to take the title off Reigns. I only fear this could be a reboot of trying to create more sympathy for Reigns.

Oh yeah. The internet can try to make #CancelWWENetwork a “thing” again. I wasn’t a big fan of Roman Reigns winning last year either, but I also thought the Twitter campaign was goofy and it actually didn’t accomplish anything. WWE Network subscriptions didn’t drop off. Literally nothing changed. Even Vince McMahon addressed it a few weeks later.

“It created controversy and that’s good by WWE. It was a gesture from a vocal minority because ‘Santa Claus didn’t come on that PPV.’ The babyface didn’t win, so that person says they aren’t going to watch again, but they are.”

– Vince McMahon

So have fun tweeting that thing out. No one cares.

2016 ROYAL RUMBLE DELIVERS THE FUN

I have to say I really enjoyed this year’s presentation of the 30 Man Royal Rumble match. The stakes felt higher with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship up for grabs. We got the really fun surprise/debut of former TNA star AJ Styles. Vince McMahon bringing out the League of Nations to do his dirty work. Brock Lesnar tossing around The Wyatt Family. The really fun elimination of Kevin Owens by Sami Zayn. R-Truth doing what he does. Flat out, I was entertained and thought WWE put together this Rumble very well this year.

AMBROSE AND OWENS DELIVER ONCE AGAIN

Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens just have incredibly good chemistry. While it’s very possible tonight was the blow off between these two, I’m very pleased with what I got out of both the last few months and always made sure to put a spotlight on the work they put forth when the WWE television product as a whole remained lackluster. The added use of weapons with the Last Man Standing stipulation really took the brawling to another level. Hell of a bump by Owens through those tables. Excellent job by both guys on Sunday.

QUICK THOUGHTS

* It’s literally impossible to hate The New Day right now.

* Kalisto might have a good future as a solo act with Sin Cara out with an injury.

* What a great moment for the return of Sasha Banks to start things with Charlotte.

* It’s crazy to see AJ Styles in WWE all these years later. Never thought I’d see the day.

* I’d love to see the mind games between The Wyatt’s and Brock Lesnar continue on.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

53% of people polled on our Twitter gave WWE’s Royal Rumble a thumbs up. So, as expected, some mixed reviews for the show on Sunday night.

WWE might be struggling to find a path with the weekly television, but they still have this PPV thing down pretty well. With Triple H becoming the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, seeing where things go from here with Roman Reigns, AJ Styles making his WWE debut, Sami Zayn appearing to be part of the main roster to reignite his feud with Kevin Owens, Sasha Banks stepping up against Charlotte and The New Day solidifying themselves in the tag team division, I think WWE has setup the road to WrestleMania pretty nicely. Whether or not the television product gets a boost off this remains to be seen.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you thought of the Royal Rumble in the comments.

Follow me on Twitter: @adamwrestleview