Folks, the 2020 Royal Rumble seems like it was 20 years ago. Brock Lesnar’s early dominance, Drew McIntyre becoming a star by finally eliminating Brock, Edge’s all-time great return… it feels like we’ve gone through an entire generation since that happened. Here we are, a year later, in an entirely different world than the one we lived in last year. How will the 2021 Royal Rumble stack up against the 2020 version? Let us find out. Are you ready? I’m ready. You know the routine, so say it with me… LESS DEW EET!!!
(0:04) We’re getting things kicked off with Drew McIntyre defending the WWE Championship against Goldberg. This match being on first has already caused a bit of a commotion on social media, with people wondering if Goldberg loses this match, only to enter the Rumble and win that. I’m glad to see Goldberg left his locker room without giving himself a fucking concussion or a bloody forehead. Now, if he can avoid nearly biting off his own tongue delivering a Spear, we’re really cooking with gas.
(0:08) In wonderful WWE fashion, we start the show with a lengthy video package, which takes us to one entrance for the first match… followed by another lengthy video package. We’re about to hit the ten-minute mark on the show, and we’ve only seen Goldberg make his entrance. To make it even better, the match itself won’t be as long as those video packages, and after this is over… we’ll end up getting another video package for the next match.
(0:10) I don’t want to see Goldberg suffer a career-ending injury tonight. I do, however, want his body to feel so shitty after this match is over that he decides he can’t do this anymore. This “experiment” needs to end posthaste.
(0:13) The first quarter-hour is almost done, and we’re just now getting the ring introductions for this one. How can we drag this out any further? Maybe another video package? A pre-match attack? A dance-off?
(0:14) Hey, a pre-match attack by McIntyre, and now, they’re brawling on the outside of the ring! Goldberg delivers a Spear to McIntyre through the ringside barricade, and the Ref is calling for some assistance. Wonderful.
(0:15) The bell rings! An immediate Claymore to start, but it only gets a two-count.
(0:16) A second Claymore is missed, and it leads to two Spears from Goldberg… for two. Pretty formulaic here.
(0:17) A Jackhammer gets a VERY believable near-fall for Goldberg, but the match continues.
(0:18) Another Spear attempt is missed, which sets up a Claymore for the win. Drew McIntyre retains the title. I don’t normally do play-by-play in these Running Diaries, but for this match, I did. I literally gave you every bit of action that took place. It’s all over. Please, for the love of Joe Pesci, let’s move on. No more Goldberg. I don’t even know how to rate that match, but it gets an easy 5 stars for the result.
(0:20) Both men shake hands and embrace after the match. They seem to be sharing a laugh now. Hooray? Goldberg leaves the ring looking tired. He’s sweating, breathing, and moving as if he was just in a 30-minute war.
(0:23) Next up, Sasha Banks defends the Smackdown Women’s Title against Carmella, who is accompanied to the ring by Reg E. Reg Tha Gawd. I’m going to assume this match goes longer than the opener, but we’ll see.
(0:29) Not that I was expecting a Dragon Gate sprint from these two, but things have gotten off to a slower start than I would’ve liked. For better or for worse, that’s Carmella for you. A lot of her character is the trash talk, so there are a lot of moments where she’ll hit one move and then stop to talk her talk for a bit. That’s only a complaint when she wrestles a lengthy match, because then it happens approximately 219 times.
(0:31) Shout out to Sasha’s Louis Vuitton ring gear tonight. Might as well call her Sasha Mysterio tonight.
(0:35) Reginald gets thrown out of the ringside area, and in the skirmish, Carmella attempts a suicide dive to the outside on Sasha that almost lives up to its name. She came dangerously close to Scorpion-ing herself there. Yikes.
(0:37) I’m not 100% sure, but I think Carmella’s shrieking just blew out one of my TV’s speakers.
(0:38) Banks Statement… tap… Sasha retains. I don’t think the outcome was ever in question. Sasha still being the champion means people will feel even stronger about a Bianca Belair or Bayley win in the women’s Rumble later. This was a fine match. Nothing great, but nothing terrible outside of Carmella nearly getting injured on that dive. Their match at TLC was definitely better than this one, though. Let’s say this was 2.5 stars, be thankful Carmella is okay, and move on.
(0:43) A backstage segment with The New Day making fun of Sami Zayn takes place. Okay. Kofi Kingston isn’t cleared to wrestle, but he’s here to support his brothers. They all have Brodie Lee tributes on their gear, which is a great touch.
(0:44) Bad Bunny is out on stage with a G.I. Bro version of Booker T to perform the hit song “Booker T” right now. I’m sure social media is full of “WHO?!?” comments from people who think they’re a lot funnier than they really are. Who? Seriously? You don’t know who that is?!? He won the WCW Title five times (five times, five times, five times, five times) for fuck’s sake!
(0:46) At least the performance was short and painless. Pointless, yes, but painless nonetheless.
(0:47) It’s time for the first Rumble match of the night. I would assume it’s the women’s version, but I guess you never know.
(0:51) Sure enough, it’s the women’s Rumble. Makes sense.
(0:52) Bayley is the #1 entrant this year. Well, that certainly makes her winning this a little more difficult. Bayley heads to the announce table and says she’s challenging Michael Cole at WrestleMania if she wins this. You know… I’m all for it. Watching Michael Cole get his ass kicked is fine with me.
(0:53) Naomi makes her return to the company as the #2 entrant. I’m so excited to see the weakest strikes in all of wrestling make their return to WWE programming.
(0:56) Our next entrant is Bianca Belair, which means some heavy favorites are in the first three spots. We’re off to an interesting booking start here.
(0:58) Billie Kay is #4, and she’s coming to the ring with a stack of autographed 8×10’s to hand out. She makes her way to ringside and hops on commentary. Smart move.
(0:59) Shotzi Blackheart, with full tank entrance, is #5. She rides the tank down the ramp, but is met by Billie Kay, who is nearly MURDERED by a projectile fired at her.
(1:01) Shayna Baszler is out at #6, and again, Billie Kay walks to the ramp to try and form a partnership. Shayna is not interested. You know, there hasn’t exactly been a ton going on yet. If you want to read between the lines, perhaps it means that one (or more) of these women are going to be there at the end, so they’re conserving their energy.
(1:02) So much inconsistencies in timing between entrants, as Toni Storm is now out in the #7 spot. Again, Billie Kay is looking for a partnership, but Storm ignores her.
(1:04) Shotzi has been eliminated by Baszler.
(1:04) Jillian Hall and her voice of an angel are out in the #8 spot. Billie Kay has finally found a partner, selling Jillian on a “Billie & Jillie” team name. Okay.
(1:06) Ruby Riott is #9. The ring is starting to fill up a bit.
(1:07) Victoria makes her WWE return as #10. She’s one of the most underrated performers from her era. I’m going to need something to happen in this match, though. Too many people in the ring at the same time makes for a pretty boring Rumble spot more often than not.
(1:09) #11 is Peyton Royce. Will the MEGA POWERS EXPLODE and have Billie Kay team up with Peyton again?
(1:10) Well, Billie and Peyton did some offense together, but it didn’t lead to anything.
(1:10) Santana Garrett is #12. There are 11 women in the ring, being forced to do half-hearted offense because they don’t have any room in the ring to do much else.
(1:12) Liv Morgan is out in the #13 spot. Dear God, let’s start having some eliminations.
(1:13) THE MEGA POWERS EXPLODE! Jillian Hall attacks Billie Kay, but within a few seconds, both women are eliminated. Jillian by Billie, and Billie by the Riott Squad.
(1:14) Rhea Ripley is #14, and now, things are going to get interesting. Here’s another heavy betting favorite to win.
(1:14) Ripley eliminates Toni Storm right away. I actually thought Storm would do better.
(1:15) Victoria is eliminated by Baszler, followed by Garrett being eliminated by Ripley. This is more like it.
(1:15) Charlotte Flair is out at #15. I would assume we’re going to get a showdown between her and Ripley at some point.
(1:16) Well, not a showdown, but a clothesline from Charlotte to Rhea as soon as Charlotte gets in the ring. Poor Rhea. She’s going to see Charlotte in her nightmares.
(1:17) Bayley and Peyton Royce team up to eliminate Ruby Riott.
(1:17) Dana Brooke is in the #16 spot.
(1:18) Brooke hits the turnbuckles, only to no-sell it and go back on offense. Weird.
(1:19) Peyton eliminates Liv Morgan.
(1:19) Torrie Wilson is in the #17 spot, and she looks exactly the same as she did when she was a full-time wrestler. That’s wild.
(1:21) Dana Brooke is eliminated by Rhea Ripley.
(1:21) Ric Flair’s music hits, and it leads to the worst fucking wrestler in the business today, Lacey Evans, coming out in the #18 spot. Seriously, there is NOTHING that Evans does well.
(1:22) Like a moron, Lacey walks into the ring and just turns her back on Charlotte, who proceeds to destroy her. Feathers from Lacey’s robe are all over the ring after that attack. It looks like a peacock exploded.
(1:23) Charlotte eliminates Peyton Royce, followed by Torrie Wilson being eliminated by Shayna Baszler.
(1:24) #19 is Mickie James. During Mickie’s entrance, Bayley was eliminated by Bianca Belair. That’s big.
(1:25) Can I just say that Jerry Lawler is fucking awful on commentary here?
(1:26) Nikki Cross is #20, and she hits the ring with offense for everybody.
(1:27) Alicia Fox is out as #21, and here come the random social media posts about how she’s one of the all-time greats.
(1:28) R-Truth runs out to enter the match, realizes it was the wrong Rumble, only to be followed by the usual cast of characters who are out for his 24/7 Title. Alicia Fox pins him in the ring to become the new 24/7 Champion as Mandy Rose enters the Rumble in the #22 spot.
(1:29) Rose eliminates Fox, which leads to Truth pinning Fox to win his title back. I still do not give a fuck about any of that. What a waste of R-Truth’s talent.
(1:30) Dakota Kai is out as #23, and she goes right after Rhea Ripley.
(1:31) Mickie James is eliminated by Lacey Evans, and somewhere, a garbage can smiles.
(1:32) The next entrant in the match is Carmella, coming in at #24.
(1:32) Ripley eliminates Dakota Kai, and then eliminates Mandy Rose seconds later.
(1:33) Nikki Cross goes to eliminate Carmella, but Reg E. Reg Tha Gawd saves her, which then leads to Nikki being tossed out.
(1:34) Tamina is in the #25 spot, and before she even enters the ring, she has eliminated Carmella. Mella was being held in Reginald’s arms, but he was taken out by Tamina and he dropped her. The bastard.
(1:35) Naomi is tossed out of the match, but lands on her back with her feet in the air. It’s a dumb spot, but hey, her feet never touched. She grabs Bianca’s hair, and they have a spot where they prevent each other from being eliminated. They’re both back in.
(1:36) Lana is #26, and she damn near eliminates Rhea Ripley as soon as she gets in the ring.
(1:38) Alexa Bliss is out in the #27 spot, and she’s skipping and smiling her way to the ring.
(1:39) Right as we’re about to get more mid-match Fiend theatrics with Alexa, she is tossed out of the ring by Rhea Ripley. That was dumb.
(1:40) Ember Moon is #28. Within seconds, Ember kicks the ever-loving shit out of Naomi’s face. Ouch.
(1:41) Nia Jax is in the #29 slot. Get the tables ready, Lana.
(1:42) Shayna Baszler becomes my new favorite wrestler by eliminating Lacey Evans, followed by Nia eliminating Ember Moon. Jax and Baszler then team up to eliminate Naomi, moving Shayna even further up my rankings.
(1:43) Jax and Baszler then eliminate Tamina before beating each other up for a few seconds, leading to Nia eliminating Shayna. Ooh, I hate her.
(1:44) Nia charges at Lana with a hilarious yell, only to have Lana pull the top rope down, eliminating Jax from the match. Good for Lana.
(1:45) Natalya is #30, but she gets attacked by Baszler and Jax before she can enter the match.
(1:46) Natalya, Lana, Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, and Charlotte Flair are in the ring, but as I type that… Lana is thrown out by Natalya. This year’s Final Four… Natalya, Charlotte, Bianca Belair, and Rhea Ripley.
(1:48) Natalya looks like an absolute idiot. She tosses Ripley over the rope to the ring apron, and then celebrates as if she made an elimination even though she’s LOOKING RIGHT AT RHEA. This allows Bianca to throw Natalya out, and we’re just down to three women here. Three odds-on favorites, too.
(1:50) Bianca and Rhea team up to eliminate Charlotte. Oh, now things are really fun. This is the type of ending that is REALLY hurt by the lack of fans in attendance, unfortunately.
(1:53) I was hoping for a longer battle between the final two, but Bianca Belair eliminates Rhea Ripley to win the 2021 Royal Rumble! After a slow beginning, the match ended up being a lot of fun. Bianca Belair sets the women’s record by lasting more than 56 minutes. A fantastic performance. A star-making performance. Rating a Royal Rumble can be a difficult task. Again, there were too many slow spots in the beginning to really call this a great match. I can be confident that it’s a 3.5 star ranking from me, though.
(1:56) In her post-match promo, an openly weeping Belair tells her parents that she did it. Great moment.
(1:59) The Miz and John Morrison knock on Bad Bunny’s locker room door and have a business proposal for him. Personally, I would rather see another hour of Bad Bunny performances than see a second more of Miz and Morrison.
(2:05) Speaking of things I still don’t care about, Peter Rosenberg is the new 24/7 Champion after pinning R-Truth. End this misery.
(2:07) Time for the Last Man Standing Match, with Roman Reigns defending the Universal Title against Kevin Owens. We could be looking at an early Match Of The Year candidate right here.
(2:12) The early rumor was that this was going to be a three-hour show. Here we are, almost 2:15 in, and we still have a Universal Title match and the men’s Royal Rumble to go. There goes that, I guess.
(2:15) I can’t help but have that feeling that, win or lose, Kevin Owens is going to be something insane tonight. Big match, big stakes, big event, big stipulation… yeah, he’s going to be out of his mind.
(2:19) We’re off to a fast and furious (hi, Rock) start here, with both men landing a finisher and/or signature move already, but unable to get the ten count in their favor.
(2:21) Continuing the fast pace, the match has already spilled to the outside, and both men are brawling all over the arena.
(2:24) They’re climbing higher and higher beyond the walls of the Thunderdome structure. Are we going to get the crazy moment from Owens early on?
(2:26) There it is! Roman throws Owens from the second level of the fan screens, sending KO crashing through a table. That was a big-time splat through the table, but there’s still time for more wild action. Throwing him from ten-ish feet? Pssshhh. Go for 20! How about 50?!? Owens got up before the ten count, so we could get it.
(2:28) In one of the funnier visuals in recent memory, Owens is staggering around backstage, with no Reigns in sight, until Roman comes out of nowhere and RUNS HIM OVER WITH A GOLF CART!!! Oh, man, I haven’t laughed that hard since I was a little girl. That was great. It didn’t get the ten count, though.
(2:33) Owens raises a forklift up, climbs to the the pallet that was raised, and delivers a Swanton Bomb onto Roman Reigns, who was atop a “table” that was clearly a cardboard-like structure covered by a sheet. Still a great visual, though. Did it get the ten count? No. No, it did not. Both men stagger into the Gorilla Position, where the camera immediately cuts to replays until they walked back out onto the stage. Looks like SOMEONE in Gorilla didn’t want to be on camera.
(2:37) It has been nothing but big shot after big shot here. I don’t know how either man is still standing.
(2:39) Reigns introduces handcuffs into the match, but it is intercepted, and cuffs Reigns to a lighting rig. As the Ref is about to reach the ten count, Reigns throws him into the rigging. Count over. Brilliant move. Paul Heyman is there with the key to the cuffs. In an LOL moment, Heyman and Reigns struggle to get the cuffs off as a second Referee is forced to stop his ten count for no apparent reason as they struggle to get Roman free.
(2:43) Roman Reigns wins. After being freed, he made Owens pass out with a Guillotine Choke, and KO was unable to make it to his feet before a ten count. A surprisingly “clean” victory. No Jey Uso, no Jimmy Uso, no other Anoa’i family members… just two men hitting each other with haymaker after haymaker. Unfortunately, you have to take away from the overall rating due to the ending. Things were going just fine until Heyman and Reigns struggled to get Roman free from the cuffs. It just looked really bad as the second Referee started his ten count, then just stopped and stood there while he waited. Then, a Guillotine Choke out of nowhere ends it just like that. Until the end, it was one of the better LMS matches we’ve seen in a long time. With that mess of an ending, I can’t give it any more than 4 stars. If you wanted to drop it to 3.75 stars, I’d be fine with that, too.
(2:47) Men’s Royal Rumble time. We already know Edge is #1 and Randy Orton is #2 here. During Orton’s entrance, Edge charges up the ramp and the brawl is on before the match gets underway!
(2:49) All of Randy’s burns have healed in time for this match. Good for him.
(2:50) As Edge and Orton continue to brawl at ringside, Sami Zayn is out as the next entrant.
(2:52) Mustafa Ali is here at #4, and the three heels in the match are all ganging up on Edge.
(2:54) Jeff Hardy is out at #5, so at least Edge can finally get some help.
(2:55) Orton shows that the Royal Rumble really is every man for himself, as they like to remind you a million times, as he hits Zayn with an RKO and then delivers one to Ali.
(2:56) Edge and Orton brawl outside again, and Edge hits Orton with a DDT onto the announce table… and it doesn’t break. Ouch.
(2:56) Dolph Ziggler is #6, and as he makes his entrance, Edge starts wearing Orton out with a steel chair.
(2:57) Jeff Hardy is the first man to be eliminated, tossed out by Ziggler.
(2:58) Shinsuke Nakamura is #7. Nakamura is someone who is being picked by a lot of people to win this.
(2:59) As Orton is selling a knee injury on the outside, being escorted from the ringside area, Carlito makes his return to WWE as #8 in the match. They’re really laying it on thick that Orton is injured and, therefore, is done with this match.
(3:01) Xavier Woods is #9, and he goes right after Ali, who has been making Woods’ life miserable in recent weeks.
(3:03) Big E is #10, and he’s going straight after Sami Zayn. The New Day members are, obviously, working together.
(3:04) They continue working together and eliminate Zayn. More to add to the conspiracy theory, clearly.
(3:04) John Morrison is #11, and if I hear Michael Cole say “Johnny Drip Drip” one more time, I’m going to kick an old man down a flight of stairs.
(3:05) Woods is eliminated by Ali, who then draws the wrath of Big E. E sends Ali out of the match in a fit of anger.
(3:06) Ricochet is the next man into the match and is already adding to his highlight reel with impressive offense.
(3:07) Elias is out in the #13 spot. As always with Elias, I remember when it looked like he could be one of the next big things in WWE, but that seems like decades ago. Elias does eliminate Carlito, though, so there’s that.
(3:09) In the often cursed #14 spot, NXT’s Damian Priest makes his entrance into the match. He’s been rumored to be making his main roster debut for weeks now, so this might be just that, and not just a random appearance from an NXT wrestler.
(3:10) Priest makes his presence felt right away by eliminating Elias.
(3:11) The Miz is here at #15, and I’m already waiting for #16. Miz destroys the turntables that were there for Bad Bunny’s DJ earlier. Why the turntables were still there, I have no idea.
(3:12) Oh, Lord, here comes Bad Bunny himself. In the distraction, Damian Priest eliminates both The Miz and John Morrison. Bad Bunny then climbs to the top turnbuckle and nearly fucking kills himself diving off, but manages to get caught by Miz and Morrison. No more of this, please. Kthxbye.
(3:14) Riddle is here in the #16 spot, bro.
(3:15) #17 is Daniel Bryan, and now, business is really starting to pick up. On commentary, Michael Cole is really painting the picture for Bryan being the favorite here.
(3:17) #18 is Kane, who approves of wearing a mask all of a sudden. Hypocrite.
(3:17) Right off the bat, Kane eliminates Ziggler and Ricochet within seconds of each other.
(3:18) Daniel Bryan wants to reunite Team Hell No with a hug in the middle of the ring, and we get it, but it’s followed by a chokeslam. Well, that wasn’t nice. Kane and Damian Priest go face-to-face in a nice moment, which leads to Priest eliminating Kane. Priest is doing very well tonight.
(3:19) King Corbin is out at #19.
(3:20) Corbin eliminates Nakamura. I weep.
(3:21) Otis is #20, and he Bushwhacker struts his way to the ring. He starts tossing everyone around with impressive suplexes… but then climbs the ropes and gets tossed out by Corbin. It was nice while it lasted.
(3:22) Dominik Mysterio is #21, and he eliminates Corbin after a brief skirmish. A kerfuffle, if you will.
(3:24) Bobby Lashley is #22 and he throws Dom Mysterio to the moon as he eliminates him. Lashley then goes after Priest, eliminating him.
(3:26) The Hurricane, who always seems to be involved in these things now, is out as entrant #23. I know it’s something we’ve seen in recent weeks, but hot damn, these 8k cameras that WWE is using for ring entrances make for a gorgeous picture. In the middle of that sentence, Hurricane was eliminated, tossed out by Lashley and Big E.
(3:28) Christian is out at #24! That’s a welcome surprise. Edge is smiling, almost getting emotional, as he watches Christian make his entrance.
(3:29) Lashley has been tossed out, eliminated by a group of men. Christian is off to a strong start, too, and he embraces Edge in the center of the ring. Nice nostalgia here.
(3:30) #25 is AJ Styles. It’s crazy that AJ’s WWE debut was five whole years ago. He has accomplished so much in that span.
(3:31) #26 is Rey Mysterio. I was hoping to see Dom around to eliminate his father, but you can’t always get what you want. LOL @ Rey having a beer-brand sponsoring his mask, giving us a commercial read from Michael Cole. Weird.
(3:33) Omos reaches into the ring, FROM THE FLOOR, and pulls Big E out of the match. That looked crazy. Welp. There goes one of the major favorites.
(3:34) Sheamus is here at #27, and he gets his chance to wear everyone out.
(3:36) Omos grabs Rey Mysterio from the ring apron and dumps him out. OMOS VS REIGNS AT WRESTLEMANIA?!?
(3:36) Cesaro is #28, and he breaks up a Bar reunion quickly. Airplane Spins for Sheamus and Daniel Bryan follow.
(3:37) Seth Rollins is back, making his return as #29. Another moment that was really hurt by a lack of fans. Seth makes his return and Michael Cole, with no emotion in his voice, merely mentions that Seth hasn’t been seen since Survivor Series.
(3:39) Braun Strowman is #30. Sorry, CM Punk fans.
(3:40) Strowman tries to eliminate Styles, but Omos catches him. Strowman decides to eliminate Cesaro and Sheamus instead, followed by changing sides of the ring to eliminate Styles, anyway.
(3:41) Strowman, Edge, Daniel Bryan, Riddle, Seth Rollins, and Christian are remaining in the ring. I would assume Randy Orton is also still in the match, but we’re getting close to the end, either way.
(3:44) The air is completely taken out of the building as Rollins eliminates Bryan. Wow. You could FEEL the excitement escape the Thunderdome.
(3:45) Rollins follows that up by eliminating Riddle. Rollins, Edge, Christian, and Strowman remain in the ring.
(3:47) Rollins eliminates Strowman and Christian, followed by Edge eliminating Rollins. Right as Edge is about to celebrate, Randy Orton returns to the match… only to be eliminated in seconds. Edge is the winner of the Royal Rumble. Incredible performance. Like the LMS match, this match suffered by a dumb ending. It just happened too quickly, and the company is relying WAY too heavily on Edge vs Orton being this classic feud that everyone wants to continue seeing. Still a very fun Rumble, overall. I can’t argue with 4 stars. Now, we have a potential Edge vs Drew McIntyre match at WrestleMania, but I think Edge vs Roman Reigns is way more intriguing. In WWE’s infinite wisdom, there’s still like 28 pay-per-views between now and WrestleMania, though, so we’ll see who the champions are moving ahead.
All in all, this was a good show. No bad matches. Two entertaining Rumbles, telling two very different stories. A very good Universal Title match. Definitely gets a thumbs up from me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to prepare for my next column. I’ll see you all on Wednesday in my usual slot. Thank you, as always, for taking time out to read my work.