It goes without saying. There’s gonna be some spoilers ahead about matches from the Royal Rumble below.
The Royal Rumble event happened last night and it was fantastic from start to finish. The Usos shocked the world by clean-sweeping Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin, Shinsuke Nakamura fulfilled every smark’s wet dream by challenging AJ Styles and AJ Styles himself secured his spot as the champ that runs the camp with a solid victory over Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens… but these things aren’t what the event’s big focus was. What WWE wanted was for their fans to focus on the first (now-annual) 30-Woman Royal Rumble match that ended up main eventing/closing out the night. And with good reason, you know? The Women’s Royal Rumble is a huge deal to the Women’s (R)evolution and it should be put on a pedestal. The big question now is if what it accomplished was good or bad for the Women’s Wrestling in WWE because a lot of factors go into this.
THERE WERE EQUAL NUMBERS OF CHANTS ABOUT MEN (TO THEIR WIVES) THAN THERE WERE CHANTS ABOUT WOMEN AND THAT’S REAL DISAPPOINTING
This one’s a little disappointing to start off with. During the Royal Rumble match, fans broke out into an arena-wide chant a total of 9 times. Here’s a list of the chants aimed/about Women.
- “YOU STILL GOT IT!”
- This was said to Lita after the moonsault she did to Becky and Sasha that almost landed her on her neck. Molly Holly deserves one of these chants. What an injustice.
- “TOR-RIE WIL-SON!” *clap clap clap-clap-clap*
- This one happened after Torrie Wilson entered and did her entrance-moves. I should also add that Torrie Wilson looks incredible.
- “NXT! NXT! NXT!”
- After Ember Moon cleans house on the ring after her entrance, she faces off with Asuka for a brief moment. It’s a great moment.
- “RON-DA ROU-SEY!” *clap clap clap-clap-clap*
- Right before Trish Stratus comes out at #30, fans erupt into a Ronda Rousey chant. What bugs me about this one is that if anyone except Trish or Ronda had come out, they’d have gotten nuclear heat. Ronda claimed she wouldn’t even be in Philly, and that she’d be on location shooting a movie in like, Colombia. Fans were completely prepared to be let down.
Here’s a list of the chants about men during the Women’s Royal Rumble match.
- “RU-SEV DAY!”
- This one happens twice, once during Lana’s entrance and once when Lana confronts her opponents face to face. Naturally, during both of these things, the crowd chants her husband’s gimmick twice.
- “UN-DER-TA-KER!” *clap clap clap-clap-clap*
- Right after Michelle McCool’s entrance, she throws a couple people into a corner and gets some offense in. Naturally, the crowd chants her husband’s name.
- “JOHN CE-NA SUUUUCKS!”
- During Nikki Bella’s entrance offense, the crowd decides they have a great way to welcome Nikki back to the ring after months of not competing. Naturally, the crowd chants her husband’s name.
- “YES! YES! YES! YES!”
- After Brie Bella’s entrance, she gets a couple YES! chants from the crowd at large because, you guessed it, the crowd wants to chant her husband’s gimmick. This one kinda doesn’t count though; Brie starts it on her own.
It’s kind of telling that the Philly crowd decided to chant Rusev Day over Lana’s entrance and appearance. Not to dig too deep into it, because it’s wrestling, and that should be fun, but it really makes it look like people don’t see Lana as her own entity yet and that she’s just Rusev’s former manager. She is, but she’s more than that, you know?
RONDA ROUSEY CAME THROUGH IN THE BIGGEST JACKET EVER
Ronda Rousey is a huge talking point about the Rumble. She came through in a 5XL patent leather jacket (that I’ve been told was given to her by Roddy’s son) and stole Asuka’s entire shine from the win she’d just gotten. A lot of people are upset at that, but I think that’s super cool. You spend 45 minutes kicking the shit out of 29 other women, you outlast a team of superhuman women at the end and in celebration, Ronda fucking Rousey pulls up from halfcourt and drains a shot that makes everyone forget you just dropped 30 in one quarter. All things considered, it seems obvious she’s painted a target on Charlotte and that Asuka will likely push for a Bliss match but stranger things have happened. The best part about Ronda’s appearance, though, has to be the fact for days prior she’d been spotted in airports going to Colombia and made convincing arguments about the fact she wasn’t anywhere near Philly. The crowd, in their infinite wisdom, chanted her name at the #30 spot as if they knew she was there and I mentioned it above, but Trish Stratus really is the only name that could’ve elicited the “Oh, it’s not Ronda, but it’s someone very good” reaction she got. Could you believe if Layla got #30? Or if someone like Aksana made a return? Fuck that. Philly would’ve imploded.
SASHA BANKS IS LOWKEY A HEEL ALL OF A SUDDEN
Sasha Banks has been slow-burning a heel turn idea for a while now, which is cool. On paper, a gimmick of wearing Kanye’s Graduation shutter shades, tapping people out in a crossface, the backstabber finisher (in general) and calling yourself The Boss is almost instantaneously synonymous with a heel and so Sasha pulling it off as a face for months has probably run its’ course.
Near the end of the Rumble where Sasha started nearing the Final 4, she started doing some more testing-the-waters-esque heel shit. She eliminates Bayley and then screams at her on the outside, she starts using a much more vicious strike-set on everyone she encounters and when she attacks Asuka, she goes for the kill; not the elimination. It’d be easy for her to show up and say she got caught in the moment tomorrow, but it’d be even easier for her to blame her loss on being put at #1 and go ballistic on the entire roster. She’s the face of Women’s Wrestling (at least on Raw, tbh) and sometimes that face needs a little shaking up.
P.S.: THE ONE THING WE’RE NOT DOING IS THE SASHA’S RATCHET CHANTS IF SHE TURNS HEEL AGAIN. THAT SHIT IS SO WACK.
HALF OF THESE “LEGENDS” ARE VERY OBVIOUSLY IN RING SHAPE
Alright, let’s really sit down and talk about this one.
In the Royal Rumbles in years prior, there have been lots of surprise entrants from legends. It’s great! They allow older viewers to relate to the product easily, new fans get to peer into the past and the performers get to reprise their roles as their favorite characters in front of roaring fans. The one solid problem with Legends Entrants is the fact that Wrestling is, at its’ core, performance art and a lot of these legends are pretty old guys who can’t bump on the mat anymore. They go in, do some weird striking sequence, have a short one-on-one and are usually sent tumbling over the ropes…
But man, the Women’s Legends Entrants were awesome. Nearly all of them hadn’t missed a beat in the ring and looked as if they could return to the roster tonight without any problems at all. When Mickie James came back and faced off against Asuka in NXT, we all saw it as a “wow! she can still go!” but now that we’ve seen Trish, Molly Holly, Michelle McCool and numerous others pop up again, it’s looking more like “wow! all of these women retired way too early!”. If the Women’s Rumble has legends like this yearly, it’s definitely got a case for being more entertaining than the Men’s Rumble.
WOMEN ARE MUCH SMARTER THAN MEN
Okay, so I was really mad about this, but then I watched it back and got a couple second opinions from my friends and that changed a few things.
If you watched the Rumble, there are some points where, for no good reason, Women would roll out under the bottom rope and just kind of rest on the outside for a while and on the first watch/the live watch, it was jarring as fuck. You didn’t know who’d been eliminated because Stephanie McMahon was too busy cramming buzzwords into the mix. You didn’t know if someone was even in the match anymore because they’d hide under the barrier. At certain points, it became frustrating to watch, but then I realized that these women are smart as hell. I mean, a woman who didn’t use the rest strategy once ended up winning, but another woman who used it three times (Sasha) had entered at #1 and came in 4th place. I hope it doesn’t become a mainstay in the future Women’s Rumbles but I did appreciate that at least their resting went a long way.
Oh, except for when the entire ring pretty much rolled out at once, Naomi and Nia went at it in the ring and then Nia tossed Naomi into a sea of un-eliminated women on the outside so Naomi could have a Kofi spot. Fuck that noise.
NXT HAD A GOOD SHOWING
There were two NXT call-up entrances, similar to the Men’s Rumble’s Almas and Cole. NXT had Kairi Sane show up and wreck shop for a good 3 or 4 minutes before being tossed out, and that’s cool. Historically, smaller wrestlers don’t really get those luxuries — being able to really show their stuff of because they get piled on and have their momentum crushed. Kairi being able to fight off 5-6 other women and have a solid elimination before slowing down is promising, because it means she’s got some skills WWE respects.
The other NXT call-up entrant was Ember Moon, who’d just gone through a hellacious battle with Shayna “Evil Bayley” Baszler the night prior and successfully defended her title. What’s dope about Ember’s appearance is that she practically had one arm and still came out as a fighting champion (with one arm) and HIT AN ECLIPSE OUT OF NOWHERE (WITH ONE ARM). Man, if you’d told me a couple months ago I would’ve freaked out for an Ember/Asuka standoff, I’d have been so confused because that’s really all they did in their feud — stand off with eachother and have Ember lose because Asuka’s just that good. Turns out giving Ember some legs to stand on really helps her shine against someone like Asuka, and I’m looking forward to if they ever feud again.
SO WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Obviously, there’s a lot of seeds planted through the Rumble. Some big, some small.
- Sasha’s possibly a heel.
- Asuka hasn’t chosen a champion.
- Ronda Rousey is now signed full-time to the WWE.
- Charlotte looks like she wants a fight no matter what.
- Natalya still has no friends.
- Both of the Bellas are cleared to wrestle.
- The members of Absolution/Riott Squad interacted and seemed like friends!
- Naomi is, for now, the Morrison/Kofi of the Women’s Royal Rumble.
- Trish, Lita, Michelle, Beth, Kelly Kelly, Molly Holly and Jacqueline can go.
Regardless of the fact Men got more chants, or that a lot of the eliminations are awkward because Women are traditionally lighter and shorter and thus harder to throw over the top rope, the Women’s Royal Rumble is super cool and it sets an awesome precedent for the progression of Women’s Wrestling. It held its’ own against the men’s Rumble easily from storytelling to surprises and had tons of little moments that could turn into full-fledged iconic angles given the right looks. If none of those things get you excited for the future of Women’s Wrestling, I don’t know what to tell you. Women’s Wrestling is cool.