The Royal Rumble took place in front of 52,020 fans at San Antonio’s Alamodome and it was a great show. The two major title matches were awesome while the Royal Rumble lacked surprises, but there were a lot of interesting moments that set up WrestleMania matches well.

It was a long show too. The main PPV portion of the broadcast had a run time of three hours and 40 minutes. In addition to that, there was a two-hour Kickoff Show with three matches totaling about 25 minutes. That means there was about four hours of content to sit through, even though the total broadcast was nearly six hours long.

As mentioned above, the announced attendance was 52,020 people. I’m not sure if that’s the real number yet or if it’s an inflated number because WWE likes to raise the number all the time. It was a big crowd and they were loud, which played a part in making it a great show.

There was a lot to digest, so let’s get to it with a rundown of the show in the order in which the matches took place. I’ll also try to forecast where things are headed with key competitors and have a look at the likely WrestleMania card.

Naomi, Nikki Bella & Becky Lynch defeated Mickie James, Natalya & Alexa Bliss (Kickoff Show)

They got about 10 minutes for this match with a fun spot early on as the faces did a triple suplex on the three heels. Most of the match was about the heel team working on Lynch for much of the match. Naomi got the hot tag and cleaned house, leading to her pinning Bliss with a split-legged moonsault off the top rope.

Going into the match, I thought it was either going to put over James in her first WWE main roster match in seven years or have Naomi win to set up a title feud with Bliss. They went the Naomi route, which makes a lot of sense.

What’s next for the Smackdown ladies? With Elimination Chamber in two weeks, they will likely do Bliss vs. Naomi for the SD Women’s Title, Mickie vs. Becky and Natalya vs. Nikki as well. Bliss will probably keep the title until WrestleMania where it’s possible she drops it to Nikki there.

Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson defeated Sheamus & Cesaro to win the Raw Tag Team Titles (Kickoff Show)

After losing many tag title matches, Gallows & Anderson finally got the job done as they became the champions in a competitive match that went about 11 minutes. I was disappointed that they would do a title change on the Kickoff Show because it didn’t seem like a big deal. The finish was Anderson getting a rollup on Cesaro while grabbing the tights, which the ref didn’t see because their feud has featured matches where the referees were involved in the finish.

It could be the end of Sheamus & Cesaro as a team because they argued after the match. There’s nowhere else for their story to go. As for the new champs, a likely feud with Enzo & Cass leading to a title change at WrestleMania makes the most sense.

Nia Jax defeated Sasha Banks (Kickoff Match)

It was a dominant win for Jax in about five minutes. She won with a popup Samoan Drop. Banks got in some offense, but she really didn’t come close to winning at any point. There are rumors that Banks may turn heel around WrestleMania, or perhaps after that.

Charlotte Flair defeated Bayley to retain the Raw Women’s Title

The match was exactly what I expected it to be. Bayley put up a fight, but never really had a moment where you thought that she might win the match. There just wasn’t that believable near-fall spot to make it seem like Bayley was going to win. Instead, Charlotte kept coming back and hit a Natural Selection on the ring apron leading to the pin. It went about 13 minutes with Charlotte also having a busted lip during the match.

The plans for the Raw Women’s Title seems to be a Charlotte vs. Bayley vs. Jax vs. Banks match at WrestleMania where Bayley will probably get the title.

Kevin Owens defeated Roman Reigns to retain the Universal Title in a No Disqualification Match

This was the best match I’ve seen these two have and they have had a lot of matches in the last few months. It was given a lot of time at 25 minutes with Owens getting the cheap win, thanks to interference from Braun Strowman.

It was a physical match with weapons used all match long. There was a cool spot with Owens hitting a Frog Splash off the top rope where he put Reigns through a table on the floor. Owens also used brass knuckles given to him by Chris Jericho, who was above the ring in a shark cage, that only led to a two-count. Reigns shoved Owens off the turnbuckle and onto a pyramid of seven chairs that Owens set up on the floor. Reigns also gave him a Powerbomb through a table at ringside as payback for Owens doing it to him on Raw two weeks earlier.

When it looked like Reigns was going to win, Strowman showed up for an attack including a Chokeslam onto an announce table that didn’t break. Strowman hit a Running Powerslam that put Reigns through a table in the corner leading to Owens covering with one hand for the cheap victory.

I was a bit surprised by the finish, but when they added the No Disqualification stipulation last week, it made me think somebody was going to cost Reigns in a cheap way. I just didn’t know who that might be. In terms of match quality, it was above-average.

Reigns is likely going to face Strowman at Fastlane where Reigns might get the win. As for WrestleMania, we’ll get to that when talking about the Rumble. I still think Owens vs. Jericho is the plan for WrestleMania with the friendship falling apart at some point around Fastlane on March 5. The easy story would be for Owens to get mad that he lost the title, so he beats up Jericho to set up Jericho as a face and a US Title match.

Neville defeated Rich Swann to win the Cruiserweight Title

The right guy won here as Neville became the Cruiserweight Champion. It’s his first title on the main WWE roster. He has done a fantastic job as a heel in the last month and is the guy who can help carry the division going forward. I liked the match and the fact that they went about 14 minutes, but the crowd didn’t really get into it. That’s because the match before it was so good. Also, the cruiserweight matches on Raw are short. The fans just don’t care about these guys that much.

I’m not sure who Neville’s next feud will be with, but there are a lot of faces in the cruiserweight division like Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali out there. Plus, guys like Tozawa and Gran Metalik should be on television soon as possible opponents. I think Neville’s going to have a long reign to establish himself as a dominant champion in the cruiserweight division.

John Cena defeated AJ Styles to win the WWE Title

What a fantastic match this was. It topped their SummerSlam 2016 match that was outstanding and I rated this one five stars out of five. I think it’s the early contender for match of the year. It is going to be tough for anybody to top them, but it might happen because there’s so much talent on WWE’s roster.

They went about 25 minutes in a match where nearly everything was in the ring. They didn’t do spots outside the ring or use any weapons. It was all about telling an interesting story in the ring. There were a lot of kickouts of finishing moves. The biggest one happened when Cena hit an “Avalanche” Attitude Adjustment where he did his finisher off the middle ropes with a cover for a two-count right away. Cena was shocked by it and so was the crowd. Styles got a good near-fall with his Styles Clash as well. There were also a few minutes where they tried submissions moves on each other and both guys nearly won.

In the end, Cena hit an Attitude Adjustment, then rolled through, picked Styles up and hit a second Attitude Adjustment to win the match and the WWE Title. In total, Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment four times to finally put away Styles.

I loved everything about this match. The atmosphere in the Alamodome was amazing. Even though a lot of fans boo Cena, there are many more who love the guy and when he won the title, the crowd reaction was loud. Styles was the heel, but he gets cheered so much because he’s such an outstanding wrestler. I’m so impressed by Styles week after week and he didn’t let us down here. This was a match with a lot of hype and I feel like they exceeded even the highest expectations. It was one of the best WWE matches in many years. Loved it and can’t wait to watch it again.

Cena won a record tying 16th WWE (World) Title, which is the number recognized for Ric Flair’s title reigns. Flair had a few more than that, but 16 is the number that they have used for decades now. There was a report from PWInsider that Flair was originally flown into the Rumble to go in the ring to put over Cena, but they opted to just do it online instead. Flair also posted this tweet with Cena.

The expectation is that Cena isn’t going to have a long reign as WWE Champion. That’s because Elimination Chamber is in two weeks with Cena defending the gold against five other Smackdown wrestlers. The likely winner of that match? Bray Wyatt. It makes sense when you see what happened in the Royal Rumble.

After the win, Cena greeted a Make A Wish kid in the crowd. Class act. Will Cena ever turn heel? I really doubt it. Go watch some heel Cena from 2003 on WWE Network because I doubt we ever see him like that again.


About John Canton

John has been writing about WWE online since the late 1990s. He joined The Comeback/Awful Announcing team in 2015. Follow John Canton on Twitter @johnreport or email him at with any comments or questions. For more of his wrestling opinions, visit his website at Cheap pop!

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