Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over twelve years now and have reviewed over 6,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Royal Rumble 2021
Date: January 31, 2021
Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe, Tom Phillips
A year has passed and a lot of things have changed, including the lack of a Thunderdome. This is one of the last major shows without fans and it is going to be weird looking back at how different everything was just a year ago. I’m not sure what to expect from the card but the Rumble is always cool to see. Let’s get to it.
Kickoff Show: Asuka/Charlotte vs. Shayna Baszler/Nia Jax
Asuka/Charlotte are defending as Baszler and Jax’s never ending argument continues. I haven’t heard them argue yet, but since that was all the ever did, I’m going to take a guess. Before the match, Charlotte talks about how she isn’t worried about her dad and Lacey Evans because it’s time to defend the titles. Charlotte headlocks Baszler to start and then runs her over with a shoulder.
Asuka comes in to strike away but gets kicked down for her efforts. It’s off to Jax, who has to break out of an octopus hold, allowing Charlotte to come back in for a sunset flip. The fast tags continue as Asuka comes back in but gets stomped down in the wrong corner. Jax grabs the cobra clutch but is smart enough to let it go and knock Charlotte off the apron before Asuka can get over to the corner.
They go up top and it’s a sunset bomb to plant Jax down hard. Baszler is right there though to cut off the hot tag attempt, because the villains are smart here. Jax’s sitout powerbomb gets two on Asuka with Charlotte making a save. That’s enough for the hot tag to Charlotte and house is cleaned.
A double Natural Selection puts down both challengers but Baszler is back with a knee to the face for two on Charlotte. Asuka takes Jax down on the floor but it’s a top rope moonsault from Charlotte to drop them both again. Cue Ric Flair and Lacey Evans, with the latter saving Baszler from the Figure Eight with a loaded Woman’s Right. Jax adds the legdrop for the pin and the titles at 10:33.
Rating: C. Wow, a Ric Flair/Charlotte story. We haven’t seen one of those in a bit. This was little more than a way to set up Evans vs. Charlotte, which never actually happened due to Evans’ pregnancy. It was a pretty dark period for the titles as well, as Jax and Baszler dominated the belts for a long time and they stopped having any meaning that they had in the first place. I do kind of like the nothing Kickoff Show matches too, as cramming in some kind of a story on here isn’t always the most fun. Not a bad match though, and seeing Charlotte lose is tends to be cathartic.
The opening video follows the show’s comic book theme, with people having to answer the call to accept their destiny.
Raw World Title: Goldberg vs. Drew McIntyre
McIntyre is defending after Goldberg accused him of disrespecting legends in a segment that didn’t seem to go as planned. McIntyre hits a Glasgow Kiss and spear before the bell to send Goldberg outside. Goldberg hits a spear through the barricade as the bell hasn’t rung yet. Back in and the bell rings, with McIntyre hitting a Claymore for two about ten seconds in. Two straight spears give Goldberg two and the Jackhammer (minus most of the jack and most of the hammering) gets the same. Another spear misses and McIntyre finishes with the Claymore at 2:31. And that’s it for Goldberg for now, thank goodness.
Respect is shown post match.
Smackdown Women’s Title: Sasha Banks vs. Carmella
Sasha is defending and Carmella has Reginald, her sommelier, in her corner. The threat of a Bank Statement sends Carmella straight to the floor and it’s time for a breather. Back in and Banks hits a chop but a Reginald distraction lets Carmella knock her off the apron. Some elbows to the face back inside set up the figure four necklock over the ropes, which burns through most of Carmella’s offense.
The chinlock goes on for all of a few seconds, with Banks fighting up and hitting a middle rope Meteora. That bangs up the knee though and Carmella gets creative by tying Banks’ hair in the rope. Since that isn’t the smartest way to win a match, she has to let Banks go, meaning the comeback is on.
A slingshot knee in the corner has Carmella in trouble but she sends Banks outside. Reginald catches her, earning himself a hurricanrana. That’s enough for an ejection, but Carmella wipes Banks out with a suicide dive. Back in and the Code of Silence is broken up as well, allowing Banks to hit a knee to the face. A low superkick gives Carmella two but Banks pulls her into the Bank Statement to retain at 10:25.
Rating: C. They were working hard, but I’m only going to be able to buy Carmella being so much of a threat to Banks. The title wasn’t going to change hands so close to Wrestlemania as Banks was all but guaranteed to be in a major match, meaning this wasn’t going to have that much drama. Carmella was trying, but this was a matter of time rather than a question of who was winning.
Big E. fires up Xavier Woods for the Royal Rumble but Sami Zayn comes in to complain about the conspiracy against him. Kofi Kingston comes in and the trio laughs Sami off.
Here is Bad Bunny, with Booker T. (as GI Bro), to perform his song Booker T.
Rumble By The Numbers video. That never gets old:
18 winners have gone on to win the title at Wrestlemania
4 consecutive winners have won the title at Wrestlemania
1 was Shawn Michaels’ entry number when he went all the way
1 second is the record for fastest elimination, held by Santino Marella
17 Royal Rumble appearances for Kane
43 eliminations for Kane
13 eliminations for Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman, the most in any given year
1:16:06 that Daniel Bryan lasted in the Greatest Royal Rumble
8 women eliminated by Bianca Belair and Shayna Baszler
4 women who have competed in the men’s match
3 back to back winners (Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels)
23 years since a consecutive winner
3 wins for Steve Austin
Women’s Royal Rumble
90 second intervals with Bayley (who has shaved COLE in the back of her head, continuing their one sided feud) is in at #1 and the returning Naomi is in at #2. The trash talk doesn’t work on Naomi, who staggers her a bit and dances. A kick to the head head out of the corner sets up the Rear View on Bayley but it’s too early for a toss. Bayley gets in a few kicks of her own and it’s Bianca Belair in at #3. Belair starts fast with a spinebuster and handspring moonsault to crush Bayley. Naomi gets sent to the apron, with Bayley sending Belair out there with her.
Billie Kay, still with her resume is in at #4 but sits in on commentary instead of getting in. Belair barely hangs on as Shotzi Blackheart is in at #5. Kay likes the tank enough that she goes over to offer her a headshot but Blackheart scares her back to commentary. The four inside actually pair off and it’s Shayna Baszler in at #6 as the entrances seem to be going fast.
Baszler knocks Kay down before getting in and the brawling continues as Toni Storm is in at #7 (and also passes on Kay). Naomi and Storm trade hip attacks to the face and Baszler tosses Blackheart for the first elimination. Jillian Hall, looking like she hasn’t aged a day, is in at #8 and she actually takes Kay up on her offer. Kay gets in too and it’s time to double team Naomi.
Ruby Riott is in at #9 and gets to beat up Storm, who cuts her down with a German suplex. The brawling continues until Victoria makes another surprise return at #10, giving us Bayley, Naomi, Belair, Kay, Baszler, Storm, Hall, Riott and Victoria. The spinning side slam plants Riott but Naomi dropkicks Victoria to the apron. That just lets her hit the slingshot legdrop and it’s Peyton Royce in at #11. We get an IIconics reunion so the team can beat up Naomi, but Kay won’t do the pose because she wants to be Riott’s friend too.
Victoria hits a Widow’s Peak on Royce and it’s Santana Garrett in at #12. The brawling near the ropes gives us more near eliminations as the ring is getting too full. Liv Morgan is in at #13 and it’s her turn to beat up a bunch of people, while also joining forces with Ruby. Kay tosses Jillian but gets eliminated by Riott and it’s Rhea Ripley in at #14 (Lawler: “RHEA RIPLEY??? RHEA RIPLEY???”) to toss Storm. Victoria tries the Tarantula for some reason and gets choked out by Baszler.
Ripley kicks Garrett out and it’s Charlotte in at #15. Riott tries to German suplex Peyton off the apron, allowing Bayley to powerbomb Riott out without much trouble. Dana Brooke is in at #16 and hits a top rope flip dive onto a bunch of people, who were nice enough to stand there in one place.
Morgan tries to get rid of Bayley but gets tossed instead as Torrie Wilson is in at #17 (Lawler approves). Torrie gets in some of that Hall of Fame offense with a clothesline and a suplex as Ripley powerbombs Brooke onto the apron for the elimination. Lacey Evans (to Ric Flair’s music) is in at #18 and she has even stolen the robe Charlotte wore to the ring. For some reason, Evans poses in front of Charlotte, who jumps her from behind and brawls to the floor (neither are elimination). Charlotte throws Royce out to blow off some steam and Baszler knocks Torrie out.
Mickie James is in at #19 and Bayley is tossed during her entrance. Mickie and Charlotte have a showdown with Mickie snapping off a hurricanrana out of the corner. It’s Nikki Cross in at #20, giving us Naomi, Belair, Baszler, Ripley, Charlotte, Evans, James and Cross as the field has thinned a good bit. Cross gets to clean house (WWE will instantly begin planning ways to ruin this as soon as possible).
Alicia Fox is in at #21 but here is 24/7 Champion R-Truth to run from the usual gang of idiots. Fox pins him to win the title and it’s Mandy Rose in at #22. Ross tosses Fox and Truth gets his title back, meaning the chase is on again, because this stupid gag has to continue. Dakota Kai is in at #23 and goes after Ripley and it’s time to brawl on the ropes.
Evans actually Woman’s Rights James out and it’s Carmella, with Reginald, in at #24. Kai and Rose are both out as Carmella isn’t sure about getting inside. Once she does, Reginald has to save her from Cross’ elimination attempt, allowing Carmella to superkick Cross out. Tamina is in at #25 and superkicks Reginald, who can’t save Carmella from being eliminated as well. We get the Ripley vs. Tamina showdown that no one was asking for and Belair kicks Naomi out…but her feet don’t touch. Naomi grabs Belair’s hair and pulls herself back up, because Naomi and Kofi Kingston have to have their big save spot every year.
Lana is in at #26 and goes after Ripley as commentary recaps the Lana Goes Through A Table Every Week deal. Alexa Bliss, still under Bray Wyatt’s influence, is in at #27 so everyone jumps on her. Then the video screens go out and she transforms, only to have Ripley toss her out in a funny bit. Ember Moon is in at #28 and comes in with the Eclipse to Baszler.
A double middle rope Codebreaker hits Tamina and Evans as Nia Jax is in at #29. Baszler knocks out Evans and Jax tosses Moon. Naomi is out as well, with Tamina being tossed after her. Jax and Baszler already get in a fight (BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THEY DO!) with Jax tossing her out. Lana goes after Jax and low bridges her out as Natalya is in at #30.
The final grouping is Belair, Ripley, Charlotte, Lana and Natalya, which is less than I would have expected. Hold on though as Baszler and Jax beat up Natalya and get back in to jump Lana. Natalya hugs Lana, who is stupid enough to fall for it, and gets tossed out to get us down to four. Belair gets punched down in the corner and Natalya German suplexes Ripley. Natalya talks trash to Ripley on the apron and gets tossed by Belair to get us down to three. Charlotte gets double teamed down but comes back with a suplex to Belair.
The sign pointing sets up a slugout between Charlotte and Ripley until Charlotte is sent to the apron. Belair and Ripley trade shots to knock Charlotte out and we’re down to two. They waste no time in fighting to the apron, where they both wind up sitting and then get back in. Ripley sends her to the apron but Belair is back in for a double hair takedown. The audio machine thinks this is awesome as they get back up, with neither being able to hit a finisher. Ripley misses a shot though and Belair clotheslines her out for the win at 58:49.
Rating: C+. The women’s Royal Rumble is a great thing and shows you how far women’s wrestling has come, but at the same time it shows you how far it has to go. The top of the division is good, but the Rumbles have required a lot of nostalgia entrants and it makes for some long matches. They’re still good and the bigger names do well, but there are a lot of times where I was rolling my eyes at someone like Torrie or Jillian or Mandy coming in because we needed someone to fill in a spot.
Now that being said, this was the kind of match that the women’s division has been needing. The Four Horsewomen have dominated the division for such a long time and it was dying for some fresh blood. The final two here were that fresh blood and Belair won to give her the big moment. That’s how this needed to go and it worked well, especially the drama of wondering who would pull it off.
Post match Belair breaks down in tears and thanks her family for helping her get here. Now it’s off to Wrestlemania.
Miz and John Morrison go to see Bad Bunny and offer a collaboration. That’s going to be a no, which doesn’t go well for the two of them. They don’t think much of Booker T. either, and of course he is right behind them.
The Kickoff Show panel talks about the women’s Royal Rumble.
We look at the Women’s Tag Team Title match on the Kickoff Show.
R-Truth comes up to the Kickoff Show panel and Peter Rosenberg wins the 24/7 Title. JBL: “This could be the worst event in wrestling history.” Corey Graves: “David Arquette is finally off the hook.”
We recap Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns for the Universal Title. Reigns has had to cheat/use the Usos to survive against Owens, so tonight it is Last Man standing. This was a great run for Owens, who was looking more motivated than he had in years. This also involved Adam Pearce almost having a title match before Owens got the match instead via card subject to change. For some reason this just kept going and wasn’t all that great.
Smackdown World Title: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
Owens is challenging in a Last Man Standing match and Paul Heyman is here with Reigns. They slug it out at the bell and Reigns hits a Superman Punch in less than thirty seconds. Owens beats the count and cuts off the spear, setting up the Pop Up Powerbomb. They head outside with Owens posting him but getting sent into the steps for his efforts. A spear drops Owens on the floor but he is up at seven.
Reigns hits him with the steps a few times and they fight beyond the barricade. Owens manages a superkick to get himself out of trouble and now the steps hit Reigns. They fight behind the video screens, where Reigns finds a chair to batter Owens some more. Another superkick gets Owens out of trouble again and he chairs Reigns in the legs for a change. Reigns fights up again and kicks at Owens’ legs, setting up a chair shot to the back.
A Stunner gets Owens out of trouble but Reigns is back with a Superman Punch. Owens gets tossed off the platform and through some tables, which really needed a crowd for the extra pop. That’s good for a nine and they fight backstage, where Owens staggers towards a practice ring. Cue Reigns to run him over with a golf cart (I’m sure that was AEW inspired) but Owens is up at nine again. Owens takes him down and unloads, setting up a powerbomb onto a backup announcers’ table.
A frog splash off a ladder puts Reigns through the ladder for another nine count. Owens hits him in the face with a ladder to put Reigns on another table….then climbs onto a raised forklift platform for a Swanton. Somehow Reigns is up and starts crawling away, only to be dragged into the Gorilla position and then back into the arena. A desperation Superman Punch sets up a spear to send Owens through the set but he rolls off the stage to beat the count.
Reigns says he can’t quit and pulls out some handcuffs but Owens grabs the Stunner. That means Reigns can be handcuffed to a lighting rig so Reigns has to beat up the referee to break the count. A low blow takes Owens down so here is Paul Heyman with a key. Another referee comes in to count….and then just stops, as Heyman takes well over a minute to get the key to work. With that nonsense out of the way, Reigns grabs the guillotine to knock Owens out and retain the title at 24:56.
Rating: B. It was a good brawl and Owens got in a lot of shots but that ending was a complete botch. Reigns could have hit the referee or something but instead the referee looked like he got distracted by a good looking taco. At least the rest of the match worked well though, as that could have been a near disaster. Reigns winning wasn’t the biggest shock, but this is going to be it for Owens, as he has lost multiple times now. At least this was pretty awesome while it lasted, save for the misfire at the end.
Men’s Royal Rumble
Ninety second intervals again with Edge in at #1 and Randy Orton is in at #2 because these two are joined at the hip. Edge jumps him in the aisle to start the fight before going inside for the bell. They’re right back on the floor with Orton being rammed into various things. Orton is knocked across the announcers’ table and it’s Sami Zayn in at #3. The three of them actually bother getting inside for a change, with Orton holding Edge so Zayn can stomp away.
Mustafa Ali is in at #4 (still part of Retribution) and goes after Edge because he doesn’t like older wrestlers. Jeff Hardy is in at #5 for a Whisper in the Wind on Sami and Ali. Orton is back up to yell at Zayn and hits some RKO’s. Edge spears Orton down, allowing the two of them to roll outside again. The Impaler onto the announcers’ table rocks Orton and Edge chairs him down as Dolph Ziggler is in at #6. Orton is busted open and can’t stand as Ziggler dumps Hardy. Edge gets back in and gets Zig Zagged, leaving the villains to triple team him.
Shinsuke Nakamura is in at #7 and goes after Ziggler before avoiding Zayn’s Helluva Kick. Nakamura kicks more people in the face as Orton is being helped out. Carlito is in at #8 and gets in a fight with Nakamura over the apple. There’s a Backstabber to Ali as Orton is STILL being helped to the back. Xavier Woods is in at #9 and goes after Ali, who injured Kofi Kingston.
Big E. (Intercontinental Champion) is in at #10, giving us Edge, Orton (on the floor), Zayn, Ali, Ziggler, Nakamura, Carlito, Woods and Big E. as the ring is getting full. Woods hits the Honor Roll on Zayn and then drops Big E. onto him with a splash. There goes Zayn and it’s time to go after Ali as John Morrison is in at #11. Woods hits his top rope DDT on Ali but they both wind up on the apron. Ali kicks Woods out but Big E. tosses Ali a few seconds later.
Ricochet is in at #12 and springboards in to dive onto another conveniently placed pile. Nakamura cuts Ricochet off and it’s Elias in at #13. A sitout chokeslam drops Ricochet and Elias beats on Carlito for one of the weirder combinations I could have imagined. Elias tosses Carlito, who wrestled one more match on Raw before leaving again, despite looking better than he ever had.
Damian Priest (making his main roster debut) is in at #14 and gets to clean some house, including eliminating Elias. Priest and Edge slug it out as we see Orton getting his knee worked on in the back. The Miz is in at #15 (Graves: “The M-I-Z with the MITB!”) but goes over to break up Bad Bunny’s DJing equipment before getting inside. Miz and Morrison beat up Ziggler as Bad Bunny comes out to yell. The distraction lets Priest toss Miz and Morrison, allowing Bunny to dive onto the two of them (that’s a Wrestlemania match). Riddle is in at #16 and strikes it out with Nakamura, which is more interesting than I would have expected.
Daniel Bryan is in at #17 and gets to strike away at a variety of people. Ricochet is fine enough to backflip over Bryan into a German suplex for the freaky athleticism display. Kane is in at #18 for a pretty weak looking chokeslam on Edge. Ziggler gets tossed and another chokeslam onto the apron gets rid of Ricochet (and that’s about all you need to know about Ricochet’s spot in WWE). We get a HELL NO reunion before Kane turns on Bryan, allowing Priest to kick away and toss Kane as well.
King Corbin is in at #19 and World’s Strongest Slams Nakamura. Commentary talks about Giant Gonzalez having a birthday today (along with Fit Finlay) as Corbin tosses Nakamura. It’s Otis in at #20, giving us Edge, Orton (in the back), Big E., Priest, Riddle, Bryan, Corbin and Otis for a pretty wide variety. Otis gets to toss people around and there’s the Caterpillar to Priest. Corbin sneaks up on Otis for the elimination though, leaving Bryan to fire off kicks to Corbin in the corner.
Dominik Mysterio is in at #21 and it promptly spinebustered by Corbin. That’s broken up in a hurry and Dominik headscissors Corbin out for an upset. Priest and Riddle get in a fight over who gets to beat on Bryan and it’s US Champion Bobby Lashley in at #22. Lashley tosses Mysterio and Priest in a hurry and we get the staredown with Big E.
Neither can overpower the other so they slug it out until the Hurricane is a surprise entrant at #23. Hurricane tries the double chokeslam on Big E. and Lashley, which goes as well as when he tried it on HHH and Steve Austin 19 years ago. That’s enough to get rid of Hurricane so it’s Riddle and Bryan kicking away at Lashley in the corner. Christian is in at #24 and gets in a quick shot on Lashley, allowing a bunch of people to toss Lashley out. There’s the Unprettier to Big E. and we get the Edge and Christian reunion (that’s cool).
AJ Styles is in at #25 as we’re getting a lot of talent in there at once. The Phenomenal Forearm misses Edge, who is back with a spear to drop Styles. Rey Mysterio is in at #26 (with a sponsorship with a Mexican beer) and goes after AJ, who is saved by an Omos intervention. Omos isn’t done and pulls out Big E., who is tossed over the announcers’ table. Sheamus is in at #27 and goes with the ten forearms to Edge. The ring is getting a bit full, so Omos pulls Mysterio out.
Cesaro is in at #28 to clean house but he doesn’t fall for Sheamus’ offer of a Bar reunion. Sheamus gets Swung and Bryan gets the same treatment until Seth Rollins is in at #29. Cesaro goes right after him for the slugout and Braun Strowman completes the field at #30. The final field is Edge, Orton (still not here), Riddle, Bryan, Christian, Styles, Sheamus, Cesaro, Rollins and Strowman. That’s ten names and at least seven Hall of Famers. Not too bad.
Strowman beats on various people and tosses Styles, who is caught by Omos to save him. That leaves Strowman to toss Sheamus, Cesaro, and the once again in Styles. Strowman gets knocked down and everyone pulls themselves up (including Rollins, who is on the floor but not out). Bryan hits a running dropkick on Christian and another one drops Strowman in the corner. We get a Riddle vs. Bryan slugout (actually rather cool) until Bryan has to save himself on the apron. A missile dropkick puts Riddle down but Rollins is back in with the Stomp to Bryan and an elimination.
Now it’s Rollins vs. Riddle on the apron, with Rollins Stomping him out. That leaves us with Rollins, Edge, Christian and Strowman, plus the missing Orton. Rollins and Strowman’s alliance lasts all of negative two seconds before Edge and Christian go after Strowman. That’s broken up, but Christian and Strowman are both tossed. Edge gets rid of Rollins but Orton is back with the RKO….and then gets tossed to give Edge the win at 58:26.
Rating: B+. The star power alone here is insane as you had one big name after another, especially at the end. The best thing about a Rumble is not being sure who is going to win the thing and that was the case here. There were even a few surprises to make it more interesting. It was also nice to have some talented people get extended runs where they actually did some things, as oftentimes they are just standing around doing nothing.
Edge doing the Iron Man thing was only so interesting, but it was a big deal to have him win. Now granted there is a good case to be made that Edge didn’t need the win and it should have been used to build up someone other than a Hall of Famer, but WWE likes its old wrestlers. Still though, very good Rumble and I wasn’t sure who was winning until the end. Now just ban the whole “OH WAIT HE’S STILL IN IT!” and I’ll be happy.
Replays, celebrations and pyro end the show.
Overall Rating: B. Pretty solid show here, with nothing bad and a good choice in the Women’s Royal Rumble (the Men’s….eh could have been worse). There was also a good brawl between Owens and Reigns and Carmella vs. Banks could have been worse. It’s always nice to have nothing to complain about and the Rumbles carried the show. This is one of the most unique shows of the year as the Rumbles are the majority of the show in focus, star power and importance. It worked well here, though neither Rumble was a classic. Overall, a good but not great show, as tends to be the case in WWE these days.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books
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