The Road to 'WrestleMania' begins at 'WWE Royal Rumble 2021'
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WWE Royal Rumble 2021 marks the beginning of the Road to WrestleMania. But it was definitely a different Royal Rumble PPV compared to years past. The electricity of the crowd and the anticipation of each subsequent entry to the Royal Rumble match just wasn’t the same. But WWE still made the most of the January classic.

Elsewhere on the card, Drew McIntyre defended the WWE Championship against AARP’s Bill Goldberg. Also, Kevin Owens made one last challenge to Roman Reigns’s Universal Championship. Then there were the Royal Rumble matches themselves. Surprise entrants, twists and turns, and swerves galore were all over the show. But which ones worked? And which ones fell flat?

Let’s get ready to Rumble and dive into the details of WWE Royal Rumble 2021.

Goldberg returns to challenge Drew McIntyre at 'WWE Royal Rumble 2021'

WWE Championship Match – Drew McIntyre (C) Vs. Goldberg

We open WWE Royal Rumble 2021 with a 54-year-old sitcom guest star challenging for the WWE Championship. Sigh. I’m counting at least five people in the Thunderdome with thumbs-down for Goldberg’s entrance, and somehow they’re also chanting for him. Why does security have to walk him to the ring? Who do they need to protect him from? The TV’s? I’m starting to think this isn’t real. Also, I can’t wait for the performance by Bad Bunny. Seriously. The anticipation is killing me. Killing me, I tell you. This match either makes Drew real for all time or buries him.

McIntyre spears Goldberg before the bell, and the fight immediately spills to the outside. Goldberg throws McIntyre shoulder-first into the steps before spearing him through the barricade. Well, at least some of the TVs in the front can see. That’s how that works, right? Drew’s favoring his ribs as he climbs back into the ring. Goldberg preps for another spear, but Drew gets a foot up and hits the Claymore for two. McIntyre goes for another Claymore, but Goldberg ducks. Another spear does a number on McIntyre’s ribs. Goldberg hits a third spear, but McIntyre kicks out.

At least they’re using the “Goldberg vs. Lesnar” formula instead of the “Goldberg almost kills Undertaker” formula. Goldberg hits the Jackhammer, but McIntyre kicks out. “I don’t think Goldberg understands,” says Samoa Joe. Well, I mean. You know. He old. Goldberg readies for another spear, but McIntyre dodges and Goldberg runs into the top turnbuckle. McIntyre syches up for another Claymore and hits it for the pin to retain. Well, that’s one sigh of relief. And at least Goldberg finished up at WWE Royal Rumble 2021 early enough to catch ‘Matlock.’

After the match, it’s handshakes and respect all around. Goldberg tells him he “passed the test” and that he deserves the title. I mean, I would think nine months as WWE Champion with wins over Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton would pass the test, but sure. Beating an elderly sitcom star is good, too.

Winner (And STILL Champion): Drew McIntyre

Match Rating: **

Carmella challenged Sasha Banks for the SmackDown Women's Championship at 'WWE Royal Rumble 2021'

SmackDown Women’s Championship Match – Sasha Banks (C) Vs. Carmella (W/ Reginald)

WWE Royal Rumble 2021 continues, and I continue to not understand why Carmella is playing this goofy character. The Staten Island Princess seemed a little more organic, a little closer to her own personality. But Vincent K. can’t have people being themselves, now can he?

Sasha goes for the Bank Statement early, but Carmella blocks and ducks under the ropes for a breather. Back inside, Sasha hits a waistlock takedown, but Carmella climbs to her feet. The challenger eats a back elbow followed by a springboard armdrag. Reginald interferes, so Sasha bounces his head off the apron. Carmella uses the distraction to bash Sasha’s head into the announce desk before throwing her back into the ring. She covers, but she only gets a two-count on the champion. Carmella backs Sasha into the corner and hits a succession of back elbows on Sasha.

The challenger bashes Sasha’s head into the top turnbuckle before hitting a head-scissor lock over the turnbuckle. Sasha fights back up from her knees, but Carmella hits a reverse standing bulldog for two. The challenger cinches in a reverse chinlock, but Sasha fights out of that, too, only to get put back down. Carmella whips Sasha into the corner before perching her on the turnbuckle. She goes for another head-scissors, but Banks hits a meteora off the top. But she lands awkwardly on her knee. With Sasha down, Carmella ties Sasha’s head around the bottom rope and stomps on her head.

Sasha fights back and hits the double knee in the corner. The champion covers, but it only gets a two-count. Sasha goes for Three Amigos, but Carmella counters the third. Sasha gets a knee, but Carmella throws Sasha out of the ring. Reginald catches her, and Sasha hits him with a rana. So the referee ejects him. Carmella takes advantage and hits a tope. She rolls Sasha back inside, but Sasha kicks out at two. Now the challenger wastes time arguing about Reginald’s ejection, so Sasha rolls her up twice for a pair of two-counts. Snap suplex from Sasha plants Carmella in the center. The champ goes for the Frog Splash, but Carmella gets the knees up and locks in the Cone of Silence. Sasha breaks free and hits a knee to Carmella’s face.

Carmella counters a Backstabber attempt. Sasha hits a high knee from the apron and goes for a top-rope double ax-handle, but Carmella kicks her out of the air. She goes for the cover but only gets two. Carmella drags Carmella to the center of the ring, but Sasha manages to cinch the Bank Statement for the submission win. This match was fine, and Carmella looked a lot better at WWE Royal Rumble 2021 than she did at TLC. Nothing to write home about, but nothing to get mad about, either.

Winner (And STILL Champion): Sasha Banks

Match Rating:  ***

30 women compete for a 'WrestleMan'a' championship match at 'WWE Royal Rumble 2021'

Women’s Royal Rumble Match

Entrants 1-10

Bayley enters at #1 at WWE Royal Rumble 2021. Also, she shaved “Cole” into the back of her head so she can challenge Michael Cole when she wins. I mean, if that’s what you wanna do with your WrestleMania shot, that’s on you. #2 is a returning Naomi. Awesome. WWE will screw it up, because it’s WWE, but it’s nice to see Naomi. Bayley talks some trash and goes for a kick, so Naomi beats her silly. Naomi does all the acrobatics in dodging and striking the Role Model. “You – still – got – it,” indeed. The first “ninety seconds” is up, and Bianca Belair is #3. Yeah, okay, she’ll have to Iron Woman it to make my prediction work.

Belair immediately goes after Bayley and tries to put her over the top, but the Role Model hangs on. Back inside, she eats a spinebuster followed by a springboard moonsault. Naomi goes after Belair next. She tries to lift Belair up for a powerbomb, but Belair reverses it, and they do dueling cartwheels while still locked together. Cool. Billie Kay is #4. She sits in on commentary instead of getting into the match. Meanwhile, Bayley, Naomi, and Belair are putting on an athletic clinic. Bayley teases eliminating Belair, but the E-S-T hangs on. Shotzi Blackheart (w/ Tank) is #5. Billie Kay tries to giver her an 8X10, so Shotzi fires a ball at her. Blackheart comes in and hits a missile dropkick on Bayley before putting Belair down. A kick to Naomi’s gut follows.

Shayna Baszler enters at #6. Hey, remember when I thought she might win last year? Boy. I’m stupid. Billie tries to give Baszler an 8X10, so Baszler tries to murder him. Appropriate. Baszler goes after everybody. Seems a little early for all these “try to put her over the top but can’t quite make it” spots. The #7 entry at WWE Royal Rumble 2021 is Toni Storm. I’m officially tired of the Billie Kay running joke. Storm hits a German suplex on Shotzi and another on Bayley. Shotzi hits a bulldog on Baszler followed by a kick to the head, and Baszler puts her over the top rope. We get our first return of the night, as Jillian Hall comes out at #8. Jillian actually takes an 8X10, and they team up.

Ruby Riott is #9, and she runs wild. But Toni Storm halts her momentum with a German suplex only to eat a superkick thanks to an assist from Billie Kay. #10 is Victoria. We’re starting to run out of Ruthless Aggression Era entrances for the women’s match at WWE Royal Rumble 2021. Victoria puts the punches to everybody before taking down Jillian and Billie with a double-clothesline. She follows that with a backdrop for Bayley before hitting a sidewalk slam on Ruby Riott. But Naomi comes out of nowhere and hits a dropkick on Victoria. Victoria hits a flipping legdrop on Naomi from the apron.

Entrants 11-20

Out comes #11, and it’s Peyton Royce. Peyton goes after Ruby Riott and tries to toss her, but Ruby hangs on. The Iiconics team up briefly to put down Victoria. Bayley comes up from behind, but Peyton hits a widow’s peak. Victoria hits the real widow’s peak as NXT’s Santana is out at #12. She goes after Storm and Riott. The ring is too full too early. Riott avoids elimination again, and Santana tries to choke her on the apron. Belair, hanging from the top rope, kicks three people off of her. Victoria starts dragging Belair aroun by her hair, as Liv Morgan enters at #13. She kicks Santana off of Riott and and hits a double-knee on Belair.

The Riott Squad hit a double-superkick on Baszler while Jillian hits a slam on Billie Kay. They team up on Jillian, but Billie Kay eliminates Jillian only to get eliminated herself by Ruby and Liv. And #14 is Rhea Ripley, and I suddenly remembered I left her out of my predictions. And RipleyMania is running wild! Ripley eliminates Storm with ease. Shayna Baszler chokes out Victoria and eliminates her. Ripley and Santana slug it out before Ripley eliminates her. #15 is Charlotte Flair, looking to repeat last year’s Rumble success. She goes right after Ripley, and they slug it out in the center. Meanwhile, Bayley slips under the ropes and powerbombs Riott off the apron. That was cool.

Now we get #16, and it’s Dana Brooke. She goes right after Ripley before hitting a missile dropkick on Naomi and Bayley. Brooke heads to the other corner and takes down six or seven women with a moonsault. Bayley and Liv Morgan get tied up in the corner, and Royce sneaks in to eliminate Liv. #17 is Torrie Wilson, and she goes after Dana Brooke before hitting a bulldog on Bayley. Now Wilson hits Royce with a suplex before clotheslining Charlotte. Ripley rolls away from Dana Brooke. Brooke tries to put her over the top. Dana comes at her with a head-scissors, so Ripley powerbombs her onto the apron! OW.

Up next at #18 is Ric Flair? The Nature Boy’s music hits, and he brings out Lacey Evans. And she’s wearing Charlotte’s robe from the kickoff show. Oh no she di-in’t. Lacey is coming out to WWE Royal Rumble 2021 slower than she did when she used to just turn around and go back. Evans wastes time posing, so Charlotte murders her. The fight spills out of the ring, and the ring is full of robe feathers. No one has ever said that before. Charlotte heads back in and eliminates Peyton Royce. Meanwhile, Baszler dumps Torrie Wilson as Mickie James comes out at #19. Meanwhile, the crack production staff missed Belair eliminating Bayley. Now Mickie and Charlotte go at it in the center.

Until Charlotte SMASH! Charlotte perches Mickie on the top turbuckle, but Mickie hits a huricanrana. She tries to eliminate Charlotte, but Charlotte hits her with a back elbow. The Queen throws Mickie through the middle rope and stomps her on the apron. And Nikki Cross is out at #20 to round out two thirds of the field.

Entrants 21-30

Cross runs wild on everybody. She hits a bulldog on Belair before hitting a cross-body on Baszler in the corner. Cross hits a tornado DDT on Ripley before hitting a jawbreaker on Charlotte. #21 is Alicia Fox. Sans wacky hat this year. R-Truth runs out to the ring, because he’s confused about which rumble he’s in. Tozawa and the ninjas (sigh) run out, so Truth uses Fox as a human shield, but Fox pins him to win the 24/7 Championship. Meanwhile, Mandy Rose comes out at #22. Alicia wastes time showing everybody her ugly belt, so Mandy decks her. Mandy eliminates Alicia, and Truth sneaks in to win his title back. #23 is Dakota Kai.

She goes right after Ripley and kicks the Nightmare into next week. Mickie ends up on the apron, and Evans hits the Woman’s Right to eliminate her. #24 is Carmella. Ripley chucks Dakota out of the ring to eliminate her before tossing Mandy Rose. Carmella taes her time getting in. Nikki throws her over the top, but Reginald catches her. He throws Carmella back inside, and she immediately eliminates Nikki. Tamina is #25, and she superkicks Reginald on her way in, which eliminates Carmella, who went over the top and was balancing herself on Reggie. We get the HOSS STAREDOWN before Ripley and Tamina battle it out in the center at WWE Royal Rumble 2021.

Belair gets Naomi over the top, but she lands on her back. With Belair hanging over the apron, Naomi uses Belair’s ponytail to climb back inside. Both women are hanging over the apron punching each other until they use each other’s leverage to save one another. That was cool. #26 is Lana, and she goes after Ripley. Tamina jumps her from behind. Meanwhile, Naomi tries to dump Belair, but the E-S-T hangs on. Lana tries to eliminate Lacey Evans, and that goes about as well as you’d think. #27 is Alexa Bliss, and she is delightfully insane.

She throat-punches Lana before decking Tamina. A dropkick to Rhea Ripley follows, and she jumps up and down like a little kid. Now everybody piles on Bliss, and the Thunderdome boos. There’s a Thunderdome glitch, and Evil Alexa wakes up just in time to get eliminated by Rhea Ripley. Now it’s #28, and it’s Ember Moon. Ember hits the Eclipse on Baszler immediately before hitting a snapdragon on Ripley. She tries to toss Evans, but Evans hangs on. Tamina goes after Ember and throws her into the corner, but she hits a double Eclipse on Charlotte and Tamina. #29 is Nia Jax. She and Baszler talk strategery, and they go after everybody. Baszler eliminates Evans. She goes after Moon on the apron, but Moon hangs on, so Jax knocks her off the apron.

Baszler and Nax team up to dump Naomi. Baszler wants to go after Tamina, but Jax vouches for her. And then they go after her anyway. Tamina tries to dump Jax, but Baszler makes the save and they dump Tamina. But now they go after each other, and Jax eliminates the Queen of Spades. Lana tries to jump Nia Jax from behind, and Jax chases her around the ring. Nia eats a slap from Lana, so Nia charges her. Lana grabs onto the ropes and lets Jax’s momentum carry her over. Cool, now let’s never speak of it again. And #30 is Natalya. Baszler and Jax murder her on the entrance, and now they come back in and beat everybody down.

They throw Natalya into the ring. She pulls Lana in for a hug and immediately punches her in the back and eliminates her.

Final Four

We’re down to Natalya, Charlotte, Rhea Ripley, and Bianca Belair. Natalya puts Charlotte down with a discus clothesline before hammering on Belair. She puts Belair over the top, but Rhea sneaks in only to take a German suplex from the Queen of Harts. Natalya puts Ripley over the top, but she hangs on. So Belair sneaks up and eliminates Natalya. Ripley and Bianca go after Charlotte, but the power of daddy issues gives her superhuman strength. The Queen hits a throw on Belair, as Charlotte points at the sign. Oh no. Now Charlotte pounds on Ripley. She charges Ripley, and Ripley backdrops her. But Charlotte hangs on. Belair hits Charlotte, and she still hangs on. They double-team her, and Charlotte is eliminated.

While Belair is busy taunting Charlotte, Ripley sneaks up behind her, and they both go over. Both women are hanging onto the second rope, their feet dangling. They sit on the apron, call a truce, and they slowly crawl back under the rope. They brawl in the corner. Belair perches Ripley on the top rope and punches her off the turnbuckle. But Ripley hangs on. She slides under the ropes and puts Belair on the apron. Belair survives again, and they collide in the center. Both women are down. This finish is awesome.

They go back to slugging at each other. Ripley perches Belair on her shoulders, but Belair escapes and sets up for a glam slam, but Ripley evades. Rhea goes for the Riptide, but Belair reverses and clotheslines Ripley over the top to win the Women’s Rumble at WWE Royal Rumble 2021!

That was awesome. The first half or so of this Rumble match languished quite a bit, but once we hit about #20, it kicked into high gear. And for the first time, a legit up-and-comer wins the Women’s Royal Rumble. You love to see it. Belair gets legit emotional in the post-match interview, and it must be dusty in my office tonight. That was emotional and compelling. See what happens when you let these people just be who they are, Vince?! You doddering, geriatric fool?

Winner: Bianca Belair

Match Rating: *** 3/4

Roman Reigns put his Universal Championship on the line against Kevin Owens at 'WWE Royal Rumble 2021'

Universal Championship, Last Man Standing Match – Roman Reigns (C, W/ Paul Heyman) Vs. Kevin Owens

Neither guy wastes any time, and it’s a slugfest BAH GAWD! Reigns goes for the Superman Punch, KO evades. KO goes for the Stunner, and Reigns evades and hits the Superman Punch. Owens gets to his feet at the count of four and hits the pop-up powerbomb. Roman gets up at four and goes for a Samoan Drop on the outside, but Owens puts him into the ringpost. So Roman throws Owens into the ring steps. The champion hits a spear, and Owens gets up at seven. Reigns picks up the ring steps and smacks KO in the face with them. But Owens doesn’t go down. Another shot, and KO drops to a knee.

Roman hits a third step shot, and Owens has to answer the count at five. The champion goes back to the well and goes for a fourth shot, but Owens hits a superkick. Reigns is down. He gets to a knee, so Owens plants the champion’s face into the steps a few times before throwing him into the Thunderdome monitors at WWE Royal Rumble 2021. Another shot to the LED boards, and Owens retrieves the ring steps. KO bounces the steps off of Roman’s head, and the champion is prone on a table. Owens climbs onto the platform and teases rolling thunder, but Reigns gets to his feet. He follows Owens onto the platform.

They struggle in front of the boards (where there’s a steel chair for some reason). Roman goes to town on Owens’s ribs before bashing Owens in the side of the head with the chair. They slug it out. Roman lifts Owens and dumps him over another row of LED boards, and Owens hits a superkick. The champion is down, and the referee starts the count. Now Owens has the chair, and he beats Roman’s knees with it as soon as the champ gets to his feet. Reigns is down again but gets to his feet at seven. Owens goes back to work with the chair, but Reigns fights back. The champion takes the chair back and batters the challenger. Owens gets to his feet, and Reigns teases throwing him off the platform. But Owens hits the Stunner on the edge.

Owens charges him but Reigns blocks and hits him with the superman punch. Before throwing Owens to his freakin’ death, throwing him off the platform through the table below. Somehow, Owens gets to his feet at nine. And the champion can’t believe it. KO staggers behind the curtain. He wanders into the workout ring, and Roman RUNS HIM OVER WITH A GOLF CART! Roman’s golf cart is my new favorite wrestler. Owens survives and gets to his feet, so Roman punishes him for his will to live by punching him in the head. KO drags himself to his feet and tackles Roman, going all Scutt Farcus on the champion. He bounces Roman’s skull off the road cases before pop-up powerbombing him onto a table.

KO climbs atop the cases and hits a frog splash through Reigns and the table. This match is nuts. Reigns can barely stand. Owens throws him into a ladder, and Roman’s down again at WWE Royal Rumble 2021. KO grabs another ladder and hits the champ in the head with it. Roman is prone on yet another table. Owens thinks about climbing on top of the cases, but he sees a forklift. Dude, pin Roman under the pallet! But it’s wrestling, so Owens climbs to the top of the forklift and hits a senton through the table! Roman beats another count but collapses to his knees immediately.

Reigns tries to crawl to safety. Owens follows and pulls him up and throws him head-first into a standing toolbox. He brings Roman back to the Thunderdome. Reigns gets to his feet on the entrance ramp and hits a desperation Superman Punch before spearing him through the LED boards at the top of the ramp. Reigns gets to his feet first, and Owens rolls off the stage onto his feet at the count of nine. Owens staggers around the stage, and Reigns follows with a pair of handcuffs. He pounds KO’s head. Owens fights back and hits a Stunner. Now Owens has the handcuffs, and he cuffs the champion to the stage supports.

The referee gets to a count of nine, so Roman grabs the referee and slams him into the lights. Owens moves in and gets low-blowed. That whole sequence was fairly clever as far as cartoon wrestling violence goes. Somehow Paul Heyman has the keys, but he legit can’t get the handcuffs free. So Owens and the referee have to just stand there like morons. Because Owens had to just stand there through the whole thing, Roman cinches in the guillotine. He goes out, and he can’t answer the 10-count, so Roman retains.

This WWE Royal Rumble 2021 match was actually pretty good until the handcuff spot just made everyone involved look like an absolute dunce. That botch knocks the match way out of four-pus star territory.

Winner (And STILL Champion): Roman Reigns

Match Rating:  ** 1/2

30 men will battle to earn a 'WrestleMania' title match at 'WWE Royal Rumble 2021'

Men’s Royal Rumble Match

Entrants 1-10

Edge starts WWE Royal Rumble 2021 at #1. Randy Orton (who, I’m told, hears voices in his head) is #2. Can they recapture the magic of THE GREATEST WRESTLING MATCH EVER?! Orton makes his way out, and Edge rushes to the entrance and beats the Viper down before throwing him into the ring. Randy goes under the ropes for a breather, but Edge follows, and they brawl around ringside. While they brawl at the announce table, Sami Zayn comes out at #3. Edge and Orton get back into the ring, and Zayn rushes in to take Edge down. He kicks at the Rated-R Superstar, and Orton holds Edge down while Zayn keeps kicking.

#4 is Mustafa Ali. Orton and Ali stare each other down, but Ali goes after Edge. Seriously, everybody’s target is the elderly fellow with the surgically-repaired neck? Zayn and Orton hold Edge up, and Ali wails away. Everybody tries to eliminate Edge as Jeff Hardy comes out at #5. Hardy goes right after Orton, but Ali and Zayn team up on him. Jeff comes out of the corner and hits them both with back elbows before hitting Whisper in the Wind. He goes for the Twist of Fate on Zayn, but Zayn throws him into an RKO from Orton. Orton and Zayn have a bonding moment before Orton hits the RKO. An RKO to Ali follows, and Edge comes out of nowhere with a spear. Edge and Orton brawl on the outside again. They fight on top of the announce table and puts the Viper down with a DDT.

#6 is Dolph Ziggler. Edge is wailing on Orton with a chair, and the referees break it up. Ziggler slithers into the ring and eliminates Hardy but walks into a boot from Edge. Ali tries to charge Edge but takes a backdrop. Zayn goes after Edge, but Edge picks him up and tries to put him over the top. Zayn hangs on, and Ziggler comes up from behind with a Zig-Zag on Edge. Everybody teams up on Edge and throws him over, but Edge hangs onto the ropes. Shinsuke Nakamura comes out at #7 and goes right after Ziggler. Nakamura puts Ali down, as referees try to carry Orton away from ringside. #8 is a returning Carlito! On one hand, cool. Yet on the other, we’re kinda scraping the surprise returns barrel at this point, aren’t we?

Nakamura takes Carlito’s apple, and he gets a backstabber as a reward. #9 is Xavier Woods, and he tackles Ali immediately. Zayn jumps Woods from behind and stomps at him. Ziggler and Carlito split off in the corner while Nakamura and Edge fight in the other corner. #10 is Big E.

Entrants 11-20

Big E goes right after Zayn, but Zayn gets a back elbow. Ali tries to charge but gets slammed. Zayn tries to take advantage from behind, but Xavier rushes in with a splash. Woods lifts Big E on his shoulders and splashes him onto Zayn. Big E picks up Zayn, and Woods comes off the top and hits a DDT. The New Day teams up to eliminate Zayn as John Morrison comes out at #11. Woods tries to toss Ali, but goes over himself. Ziggler comes up from behind to eliminate Woods but can’t.

Ali sneaks back in and eliminates Woods. Big E gets very angry indeed and puts Ali over the top rope to eliminate him. Meanwhile, Ricochet comes out at #12. Hey, I remember him. He comes off the top and takes out everybody before rushing Ziggler in the corner. Ziggler evades but walks into a leaping kick from Ricochet.

Edge goes after Ricochet, but Ricochet survives and hits a standing dropkick on Edge. Morrison goes after Ricochet, and they brawl in the corner. #13 is Elias. Hey, I always wondered what his actual entrance music sounded like! Ricochet comes after him, but Elias plants him with a chokeslam before hitting drift away on Morrison. Now Elias goes after Carlito but takes a standing dropkick. But Elias dumps Carlito. #14 is Damien Priest. Cool choice for an NXT rep. Priest puts Elias down before clotheslining Ricochet. Morrison and Priest slug it out, and Priest eliminates Elias. Miz comes out at #15 to ruin my life.

Before he comes to the ring, he trashes Bad Bunny’s turntable. Oh, right, Bad Bunny performed earlier. Anyway. Miz slides into the ring at WWE Royal Rumble 2021 and hits Big E with the Skull Crushing Finale. Morrison and Miz double-team Ricochet and hit him with a double DDT. Ziggler wants to be buddies, but Miz and Morrison beat him up. Bad Bunny comes out, and Miz and Morrison tell him to bring it on and get eliminated by Damien Priest in the meantime. Okay, so my life is less ruined now. Bad Bunny hits a splash on Miz and Morrison off the top rope and makes Snoop Dogg look like a chump#16 is Matt Riddle. YES, I’M KEEPING HIS FIRST NAME. Riddle and Nakamura slug it out. Um, yes, please.

#17 is Daniel Bryan. Cole calls him the “sentimental favorite.” Way to tell me it won’t be him, WWE. Bryan comes in and goes after everything that’s mobile before hitting the Yes Kicks on Ricochet. Ricochet answers in kind and hits a German suplex from the mat on DB. Priest tries to eliminate Edge, but Edge hangs on. Mayor Kane is #18. Well, that’ll be the front page of Bumblebutt or wherever he’s from. The Big Red Machine chokeslams Edge before hitting a double chokeslam on Riddle and Nakamura. Kane eliminates Ziggler before chokeslamming Ricochet onto the apron and eliminating him. Bryan and Kane make eye contact, and Bryan wants to reunite Team Hell No. They embrace in the center (GOT to give the people what they want!), and Kane chokeslams Bryan. Now Priest and Kane come face-to-face.

They slug it out for a bit, and Priest eliminates Kane. Now we get #19, and it’s King Corbin here to ruin my life. He eliminates Nakamura before going after Bryan. Riddle and Bryan work together to try to eliminate Corbin as Otis rounds out the first two-thirds at #20.

Entrants 21-30

Otis puts Corbin down before body-slamming Big E. Now he throws Priest across the ring before throwing Riddle. Otis hits a running clothesline on Priest in the corner to set up the Caterpillar. He teases the Vader bomb, and Corbin comes from behind to eliminate Otis. Bryan goes after Corbin and kicks the King silly. Dominik Mysterio is out at #21. Corbin immediately starts pummeling Dominik. He tries to eliminate the younger Mysterio, but Dominik hangs on and pulls Corbin over the top to eliminate him. Riddle and Bryan trade stiff shots before Priest breaks it up and chucks Riddle across the ring.

Priest throws Bryan into the corner but eats a kick from Riddle. #22 is Bobby Lashley, and he immediately throws Dominik over the top. Lashley slams Priest and eliminates him. Big E and Lashley collide in a HOSS FIGHT BAH GAWD. Lashley puts Big E up for a suplex, but Big E lands on his feet, and they slug it out. And it’s the Hurricane at #23! Big E immediately tries to eliminate him, but he wriggles free. Hurricane threatens to double-chokeslam Lashley and Big E, so they pick him up and throw him out of the ring. And Lashley hits an inverted legsweep to put Big E down.

Lashley tries to choke Bryan out in the corner, but Riddle comes up from behind. #24 is Christian! This reeks of awesomeness! I wish they’d used his other theme song, though. He puts Lashley down across the top rope, allowing Riddle, Big E, and a couple others to team up and put Lashley out. Christian hits the Unprettier on Big E before hitting a high elbow on Bryan. Now Edge and Christian hug it out, and Riddle wants in on the love. So Edge and Christian beat him down. It’s time for #25, and it’s AJ Styles with Omos. He rushes in and goes after Christian. Bryan chops away at Riddle, and Styles goes for the Phenomenal Phorearm on Edge. He dodges and spears Styles (hey, they caught it on camera this year!). #26 is Rey Mysterio, the 2006 Rumble winner.

AJ almost goes over the top, but Omos catches him and pushes him back in. Omos drags Big E over the top rope and to the floor before chucking him into the announce table. Sheamus comes out at #27. He clubs at a few peoples’ chests and caves in some sternums before hitting a backbreaker on Styles. Christian and Sheamus get into a slugfest, but Christian eats a Brogue Kick. Daniel Bryan goes after Sheamus with the Yes Kicks but walks into a Brogue Kick of his own. Sheamus tries to dump Bryan, but Riddle breaks it up. Mysterio goes for a 6-1-9 on Styles, but Omos catches him. Rey’s on the apron, and Omos picks him up and chucks him into the barricade. #28 is Cesaro.

He swings Sheamus around for a bit before putting him over the top, but Sheamus hangs on. Daniel Bryan goes after Cesaro and eats an uppercut, and Cesaro swings him, too. And he swings him for freakin’ ever. #29 comes out, and it’s Seth Rollins. Cesaro uppercuts Rollins as soon as he hits the ring, but Rollins hangs on. By the way, I think WWE is counting on me forgetting that Randy Orton was out here a while back. And #30 is Brawn Strowman. Keith Lee isn’t even in the thing?! I mean, okay. He cleans house, because that is what the Brawn do. Brawn throws AJ over the top, but Omos catches him again before Brawn walks into an uppercut from Cesaro.

Cesaro tries to eliminate Brawn, but he tosses the Swiss Superman. Sheamus goes after Brawn, so Brawn charges him and sends him over the top. Brawn starts to throw AJ over the top, but he sees Omos, changes direction, and throws him out the other side of the ring. Christian and Edge come out of nowhere with a double spear on Brawn. Now Riddle and Bryan square off in the center. They trade chops and kicks galore before Bryan pairs up with Edge. He hits Edge with the running knee and tosses him over the top rope, but Edge hangs on. Christian goes for the Unprettier, but DB escapes and hits a dropkick. Bryan hits a running kick on Brawn in the corner.

This is some really solid action at WWE Royal Rumble 2021. Bryan points at Riddle, so that’s probably his WrestleMania match. They brawl again before trading submissions. Riddle gets Bryan in a triangle and lifts him over the top rope. But Bryan hangs on. He goes up top and hits Riddle with a missile dropkick. The Yes Man gets pumped, but Rollins sneaks up from behind and curb stomps him and eliminates Bryan. Okay, so none of my predictions came true. I have no idea where they’re going with this. Rollins and Riddle brawl on the apron, and Rollins eliminates Riddle. We’re down to four (in the ring).

Rollins tries to convince Brawn to team with him against Edge and Christian, so Brawn chokeslams him. Edge and Christian double-team Brawn and hits a double clothesline. Strowman lifts Edge and tries to toss him, but Edge hangs on. He getes Edge over the top rope, but Christian comes up from behind to eliminate, but both he, Rollins, and Brawn get eliminated. Orton sneaks back in, just in time for Edge to eliminate him to win the Royal Rumble! That’s probably the best “wait, we forgot, he was never eliminated!” spot that I’ve ever seen.

It was clunky in spots, but it was also non-stop. The ring never got too full, the stories going in kept going, and new stories were spawned. It did pretty much everything a Royal Rumble match is supposed to do.

Winner: Edge

Match Rating:  ****

The Breakdown

Aside from the debacle of the Universal Championship finish, WWE Royal Rumble 2021 was a pretty solid show. I honestly have no idea where they’re going with Edge winning the Rumble, and that’s pretty exciting. Not that he’s the right winner, necessarily, but the action in the match showed me that he’s a good choice for a winner.

But seriously, that botch with the handcuffs is inexcusable for all parties on camera. Everybody looks stupider for having taken part in it, especially Owens and the referee for just standing there like dopes. Still, it wasn’t bad enough to hold back WWE Royal Rumble 2021 from being a really good show.

All images courtesy of WWE.

WWE Royal Rumble 2021

7.2

In-Ring Action

7.0/10

Booking/Writing

7.3/10

Storytelling

7.0/10

Entertainment Value

7.5/10

Pros

  • I did NOT see Edge winning the Rumble!
  • Goldberg vs. McIntyre was exactly what it should've been; nothing better, nothing worse
  • Both Rumble matches were a LOT of fun!
  • The Last Man Standing match was a lot of fun, too, until ...

Cons

  • DO THEY NOT KNOW HOW HANDCUFFS WORK?!
  • The booking early in the Women's Royal Rumble was a little sloppy. Just a little TOO much chaos.
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