Monday, February 1, 2021

WWE Royal Rumble 2021

Despite relocating the Thunderdome from Orlando’s Amway Center to the significantly larger Tropicana Field, despite the state of Florida exhibiting some of the lowest COVID infection rates in the country, despite AEW continuing to host fans for the past several months, and despite several NHL and NFL teams welcoming back fans, the WWE continues to utilize the dystopian setting of virtual fans. All ranting aside, the 34th annual Royal Rumble and official beginning of the Road to Wrestlemania emanated from the aforementioned Thunderdome at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Florida. This evening’s card featured five matches including the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches with the respective winners securing championship opportunities at Wrestlemania.

WWE Championship
Goldberg vs. Drew McIntyre (c)
Winner: Drew McIntyre via pinfall
This match came to fruition several weeks ago when Monday Night RAW hosted Legends Night. After McIntyre defeated Keith Lee in the main event of the evening, Goldberg confronted the champion in the ring and told him the one thing he didn’t have was the respect of the other wrestlers as he proceeded to challenge him for his coveted belt. In my opinion, this was WWE’s answer to the recent AEW signing of the legendary Sting - but I digress. This contest started with a bang as McIntyre speared Goldberg propelling him from the ring. Goldberg quickly turned the tables first Irish-whipping him into the steel ring stairs and then delivering his own spear putting the champ through the ringside barrier. Goldberg withstood the first Claymore Kick from McIntyre and answered with a pair of spears followed by his patented Jackhammer. This was not enough as McIntyre kicked out of Goldberg’s pinfall attempt. McIntyre then dodged a subsequent spear attempt by Goldberg and answered with another Claymore kick to secure the pinfall and retain his title.

Smackdown Women’s Championship
Carmella w/ Reginald vs. Sasha Banks (c)
Winner: Sasha Banks via submission
The most entertaining part of this match occurred when Sasha Banks delivered a hurricanrana to Reginald that subsequently lead to his ejection from ringside by the referee. The merciful conclusion of this bout arrived when Banks withstood a kick to the jaw by Carmella and answered with the Bank Statement for the submission victory.

Women’s Royal Rumble Match
Winner: Bianca Belair
Bayley and Naomi found themselves as the unlucky recipients of numbers one and two. While the two women made solid 30+ minute showings for themselves, neither made it to the final four. This match was rather short on surpises with only three in the form of Jillian Hall, Victoria, and Torrie Wilson while the field was supplemented with NXT stars to compliment those from RAW and Smackdown. The final four contestants were Bianca Belair, Natalya, Rhea Ripley, and Charlotte Flair. As Natalya taunted Ripley instead of finishing off the elimination, Belair dumped Neidhart over the top rope. Flair was then muscled over the top rope by Ripley and subsequently knocked off the ring apron by Belair and Ripley. This left Belair and Ripley as the final two combatants. Belair then punched her ticket to Wrestlemania as she clotheslined Ripley over the top rope.

Here is the complete list of the entrants:

1 Bayley
2 Naomi
3 Bianca Belair
4 Billie Kay
5 Shotzi Blackheart
6 Shayna Baszler
7 Toni Storm
8 Jillian Hall
9 Ruby Riott
10 Victoria
11 Peyton Royce
12 Santana Garrett
13 Liv Morgan
14 Rhea Ripley
15 Charlotte Flair
16 Dana Brooke
17 Torrie Wilson
18 Lacey Evans
19 Mickie James
20 Nikki Cross
21 Alicia Fox
22 Mandy Rose
23 Dakota Kai
24 Carmella
25 Tamina
26 Lana
27 Alexa Bliss
28 Ember Moon
29 Nia Jax
30 Nataly

WWE Universal Championship Last Man Standing Match
Roman Reigns (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Kevin Owens
Winner: Roman Reigns
The next chapter in the ongoing rivalry between Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens was written this evening as the two men stood toe to toe again with championship gold on the line under Last Man Standing rules. For those in need of a refresher, this means that the winner would be decided after beating his opponent to the point where he would be unable to answer the referee’s 10-count. Roman Reigns faced a close call late in the match when he was handcuffed to a portion of the entrance scaffolding that left him in a seated position unable to get his feet beneath him. As the referee reached the count of nine, Reigns grabbed him by the collar and launched him headfirst into another part of the scaffolding knocking him out in the process. Owens then sought to capitalize on the situation but was met with a shot between the pipes. Paul Heyman then came to the rescue with a handcuff key and as Roman was freed, he proceeded to put Owens in a guillotine choke leaving him lifeless as the referee completed his 10 count.

Men’s Royal Rumble Match
Winner: Edge 
After suffering a torn triceps in a match with Orton that put him out of action for seven months, Edge found himself face to face with the Viper as they drew numbers one and two to start the match. The two combatants broke out into a brutal confrontation that eventually saw Edge seemingly take Orton out of the match after he laid waste to his knee with a steel chair. Unlike the women’s match, the men’s featured some great surprises including Kane, Christian, Carlito, and The Hurricane, as well as, the return of Seth Rollins from paternity leave. The closing moments of the match was a vicious flurry of action. First, Braun Strowman and Christian were knocked off the ring apron and eliminated by Seth Rollins. Edge then quickly avenged Christian as he tossed Rollins over the top rope. At this moment Orton returned from the trainer’s table and stunned Edge with an RKO Outta Nowhere but Edge reversed his attempt to throw him out and launched the Viper from the ring to punch his ticket to the main event at Wrestlemania!!! 

Here is the complete list of entrants:

1 Edge
2 Randy Orton
3 Sami Zayn
4 Mustafa Ali
5 Jeff Hardy
6 Dolph Ziggler
7 Shinsuke Nakamura
8 Carlito
9 Xavier Woods
10 Big E
11 John Morrison
12 Ricochet
13 Elias
14 Damian Priest
15 The Miz
16 Matt Riddle
17 Daniel Bryan
18 Kane
19 King Corbin
20 Otis
21 Dominik Mysterio
22 Bobby Lashley
23 The Hurricane
24 Christian
25 AJ Styles
26 Rey Mysterio
27 Sheamus
28 Cesaro
29 Seth Rollins
30 Braun Strowman

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