WWE

Royal Rumble 2020: Full review as McIntyre and Flair win big, The Fiend and Becky retain, Edge returns

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Drew McIntyre stands over Brock Lesnar

Royal Rumble 2020 took place in Houston on Sunday night and proved a historic night for British wrestling and a memorable one for WWE superstars including Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Bray Wyatt.

Here is a look at the matches and analysis on what went down.

1. Roman Reigns defeated Baron Corbin in a Falls Count Anywhere match

How the match was won After fighting all around the Minute Maid Park stadium, the home of the Houston Astros, Reigns pinned Corbin on top of one of the players’ dugout after hitting a spear.

Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode had interfered to help Corbin as they attacked Reigns, but the Usos evened things up and an entertaining brawl took place.

Talking point How over Reigns was over with the crowd. Spectators roared him on for much of the match and when you think some of the hostile reactions at past Rumbles he has received it was striking how well backed he was this time. There were some boos when he later entered the Rumble, but compared to past years they were much less obvious.

The big winner It has not been the most enjoyable of feuds, the use of dog food a particular low point, but this felt like the climax to a rivalry that began in November.

The aim of it was to keep Reigns occupied until WrestleMania season and it has done that.

Reigns wins the feud and it is job done in that regard.

The down point The match was long and the first 15 minutes did drag, but once Ziggler, Roode and the Usos interfered business picked up and the finishing stretch saved things.

Verdict A good opener. The match was well set out to use the unique set-up of fighting around a baseball stadium, and having the denouement be right in front of fans was a smart move.

Reigns stands tall, Corbin demonstrates again he is a great heel who can get his opponent over, and it was a job satisfactorily done on all sides.

2. Charlotte Flair wins the Women’s Royal Rumble, eliminating Shayna Baszler last

How the match was won Flair, runner-up 12 months earlier, won the Rumble for the first time by throwing out Baszler last.

Flair had been hanging on grimly on the outside on the top rope, but was able to use the strength in her legs to flip Baszler over her head and to the floor.

Beth Phoenix and Natalya had been the other two women in the final four.

Talking point Flair, who entered at No 17, winning was a surprise as Baszler had been a pre-match favourite, but Ric Flair’s daughter has been in a title match at every WrestleMania she has competed in since 2016 so in hindsight it is not too much of a shock.

The interesting question is now who she faces in Tampa at WrestleMania 36? Arch-rival Becky Lynch, the Raw champion, is a match done to death, while a SmackDown rematch with Bayley is not the most exciting on paper. The narrative ahead here is intriguing.

The big winner Flair is the obvious one but NXT’s Bianca Belair was made to look a star in the first half of the match. She eliminated eight women and at 33 minutes, 20 seconds lasted the longest in the event, having been the No 2 entry.

Baszler missed out but still was made to look strong, clearing house with eight eliminations herself in a matter of moments after she came out at No 30.

The down point The match was hurt by a lack of believable winners. Until Baszler entered only Flair looked a viable contender, and despite many attempts to throw her out, there was a lack of tension. It showed WWE must do to build strong contenders among the women, and not just focus on Lynch and Flair.

Verdict This was well booked despite a lack of real contenders. There were some fun returns in the shape of Molly Holly, Kelly Kelly and Santina Marella, story continuation in feuds such as Liv Morgan and Lana, and the likes of Belair and Toni Storm from NXT getting good time to shine.

Flair’s match, but there was plenty to be impressed about.

3. Bayley retained the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship against Lacey Evans

How the match was won Evans looked to be closing in on a first title win as she had Bayley beaten down.

But she hesitated over a moonsault as Bayley got her knees her up. The champion capitalised to roll up her challenger, hold on to her shorts in the process, to get the pin.

Talking point Evans is still a work in progress. Her character is over with the crowd but her in-ring work is still a little tentative and even sloppy. Being a face takes some of the pressure off having to dictate a match tempo, but she still has some way to go.

The big winner Bayley retained and arguably it was one of her best performances since her heel turn.

Her mannerisms were on point and she seems to be getting into the swing of things with life on the dark side. There is hope yet for her largely underwhelming title reign to date.

The down point The crowd was very quiet, some of which may have been down to the challenge of following the women’s Rumble.

There was not a lot to be excited about action wise as this was very formulaic despite the best efforts of the two superstars.

Verdict There will almost certainly be a rematch. Pretty forgettable fare but signs of progress for both Bayley and Evans in their respective directions.

4. Bray Wyatt defeated Daniel Bryan in a strap match to retain the WWE Universal Championship 

How the match was won  After a brutal clash in which both men used the strap as a weapon, Wyatt’s The Fiend persona retained as he put Bryan in the Mandible Claw, hit a modified choke slam, and got the pin.

Talking point Bryan once again demonstrating what an exceptional talent he is. He did his utmost to put Wyatt over here, taking an absolute battering with the belt. His bloodied back was a horrendous sight.

He also sold the beating post-match, needing help to get to the back, which is the kind of message WWE is trying to build in what it is like to face Wyatt.

The big winner Both men. Wyatt had his best match as The Fiend and Bryan came across as a heroic babyface who loses nothing in defeat.

Plus the WWE ditched the horrendous red lighting that had previously been used in Fiend matches, and it improved the spectacle immeasurably.

The down point Bryan has now lost twice to Wyatt, having gone down at Survivor Series in November, so this feud is now finished and it is hard to see where Bryan goes from here.

He is strongly over but a mid-card feud or involvement in the Intercontinental title picture is the most likely scenario for him at WrestleMania 36, which is a shame as he deserves more.

Verdict A good strap match with unique and intelligent use of the aforementioned gimmick.

Wyatt is clearly going to WrestleMania as champion and his credibility in the role has been helped massively by Bryan’s willingness to go through the pain barrier.

Where they both go now will be fascinating.

5. Becky Lynch beat Asuka by submission to retain the Raw Women’s Championship

How the match was won Lynch was momentarily distracted by a minor ref bump and Asuka was priming to use the green mist.

But Lynch kicked her in the stomach, Asuka spat the green substance over herself and Lynch rolled through to put her in the disarmer and get the tap out victory.

Talking point Why WWE have not used Asuka better. The 2018 Women’s Royal Rumble winner was red hot when she came up from NXT, but poor booking has constantly hurt her and WWE had to work very hard to build her up as a threat.

She gave Lynch a good outing here and this deserved better then an insipid Houston crowd watching on.

The big winner Lynch got the win back over Asuka after losing to her 12 months ago. That was the story going in and she achieved her goal to stand tall.

She is set to go to WrestleMania 36 as champion, the only question being now who she faces?

The down point The match was a little slow early on, but the final third was hugely enjoyable. The slow initial pace did appear to lose some of the crowd, which was a pity.

Verdict A good match, a predictable result, but a reminder of just how good Asuka is in the ring.

6. Drew McIntyre won the Men’s Royal Rumble, eliminating Roman Reigns last

How the match was won It was a Rumble of two halves. The first half was dominated by Brock Lesnar. The WWE World Heavyweight champion ran through the field, eliminating a record-equalling 13 men.

But he was eliminated by McIntyre after Ricochet had kicked Lesnar in the groin from behind.

The last half of the match was top heavy with potential winners, but it came down to McIntyre and Roman Reigns.

McIntyre hit Reigns with the Claymore kick and threw him over to become the first British wrestler to win the Rumble.

Edge, competing in a WWE ring for the first time since 2011, and Randy Orton were the other stars in the final four.

Talking point A lot to take away. Lester’s dominance of the first half of the match, tossing the likes of Erick Rowan, John Morrison and Cesaro over in a matter of seconds.

No one has ever been booked like that in a Rumble before and it was unique viewing.

It also was effective as the pay off of McIntyre eliminating him led to the pop of the night.

The big winner McIntyre had the biggest night of his career. He looked like a bonafide star and a title match with Lesnar at WrestleMania 36 is a certainty.

Lesnar was brilliant in his portion of his match. Frightening when he needed to be but also selling for the likes of Keith Lee, planting the seeds of a future blockbuster match.

Edge was superb on his return to the ring after almost nine years and his interactions with Orton and AJ Styles certainly seem promising of a WrestleMania programme.

Seth Rollins and his heel faction were allowed to run wild for a bit and it continued their storyline with Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe.

The down point For the Lesnar angle to work some people had to be sacrificed. It was understandable but watching the likes of Morrison and Cesaro used as fodder was a shame.

The WWE’s production team also had a rare off night. Cutting away from Edge’s first spear and also missing Baron Corbin’s elimination at the time.

Verdict An unique Rumble match but a fun one with the right winner. Lots of potential WrestleMania angles continued and set up so a successful event all in all.

Pre-show

Sheamus pinned Shorty G

Andrade beat Humberto Carrillo to retained the Intercontinental Championship

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