2020: The Missed Opportunities
It’s been a good run of Rumbles lately! 2019 gave us a fantastic Women’s iteration of the match. I gave the 2018 men’s Rumble a solid 7/10. Even the kind of “meh” 2017 and 2016 Rumbles, I graded out as ever-so-slightly above average. How long do you think a run like that can last?
I’ll admit, I’ve been reading reviews online after writing this, and everyone else’s opinion is different from mine here. That’s what makes the world go ’round, I guess!
Women’s Rumble: The Participants:
1. Alexa Bliss
2. Bianca Belair
3. Mighty Molly Holly
4. Nikki Cross
5. Lana (in a snazzy Captain Marvel-inspired outfit!)
6. Mercedes Martinez
7. Liv Morgan
8. Mandy Rose
9. Candice Lerae
10. Sonya DeVille
11. Kairi Sane
12. Mia Yim
13. Dana Brooke
14. Tamina (Tamina still exists?)
15. Dakota Kai
16. Chelsea Green
17. Charlotte Flair
19. Beth Phoenix
20. Toni Storm
21. Kelly Kelly
22. Sarah Logan
24. Xia Li
25. Zelina Vega
26. Shotzi Blackheart
28. Tegan Nox
29. Santina Marella
30. Shayna Baszler
4. Natalya (eliminated by Beth Phoenix)
3. Beth Phoenix (eliminated by Shayna Baszler)
2. Shayna Baszler (eliminated by Charlotte)
-Bliss and Belair start off, and the pair becomes a first-half fixture of the match. I’ve been lukewarm to Belair in NXT, often feeling she is generally overshadowed by Shayna, Io, Rhea, and others. She isn’t bad, but she never felt like she was in their tier. WWE decided to rectify that by making this Rumble a showcase of hers. That’s a plus. Build stars!
-Mighty Molly in at #3 for the nostalgia blast. My friend who obviously didn’t watch a lot of early 2000’s WWE texted me to ask “is [she] a WWE accountant who won a raffle to be in the rumble?” and noted she wasn’t impressed with Molly’s costume. Poor Mighty Molly! You’ve been forgotten!
-That said, I’d have exchanged Molly and Kelly for the IIconics in a heartbeat.
-Cross and Bliss share a hug, and man, this pairing really did wonders for Bliss, who I thought would be a dead-end character if she wasn’t in a title hunt.
-Lana and Liv Morgan are part of an angle that is main eventing Raw every single week, and they get… a few seconds in the Rumble before they eliminate each other. WHERE IS THIS STORY GOING? They… they really don’t know, do they?
-Otis appears from NOWHERE to be lying on the ground right where Mandy is dumped so that she lands on him. It’s weird because… when did he get there, and why? But I and the fans dig it and the development of their odd couple relationship. Otis hangs around shirtless for the duration of Mandy’s tenure. I admit, I kind of wish he got in and just started chucking people for her… I know he’s a goofy babyface, but…
-Sonya DeVille accidentally clobbers Mandy Rose, leading to both of their eliminations. As much as I am looking forward to the Mandy/Otis dynamic, I am not digging a Fire & Desire split. I like them as a team (and a donut taste-test video series).
-Bianca Belair with a tremendous overhead press toss of Candice Lerae! She actually just carries Candice around the ring for a while. Impressive.
-After Chelsea Green’s quick entrance and exit, the match resets to Bliss vs Belair. And at that point, Belair has SEVEN eliminations! She knocks out Alexa for her eighth. At least they went in with a plan for her.
-Naomi returns at #18 to a damn good ovation. Good for her! She doesn’t accomplish a great deal, but she has a true marvel of an elimination save when she leaps from the stairs to the barricade and BARELY makes it. Seriously, she gets the barrier by inches, and is in a position where you think there’s no way she can pull herself up to safety, but… she does it.
-Beth enters and in fairly short order SMASHES the back of her head off of the ring post selling a punch from Belair. At first it seems like she might have just run her own bell, but this turns into a gusher of an injury. She just bleeds more and more as the match goes on. Several minutes after the initial injury, she leaves a mess of blood on Charlotte’s arm during a struggle on the ropes. She is in the Rumble for a fair while, too, so respect to her for toughing that out.
-Between Mia Yim’s blue hair and Shotzi Blackheart’s green locks, I would like to point out how unnatural hair color on women is one of my favorite things. It’s just… the best.
(I am not counting Beth’s blood-soaked head in this.)
-I’m not going to lie: The Santina Marella spot got a laugh from me. He is just so damn earnest with everything he does, and trying so hard to get Beth to work with him… how do you not laugh at that? Rumbles always need the harmless fun spot.
-Shayna Baszler, dominant NXT champion, is #30. She ran roughshod over NXT for, what, years? It felt like years. She won the Survivor Series championship three-way. She has MMA credentials and recognizablilty. She just lost the NXT Title to Rhea Ripley to put her massively over and finish everything she had left to do in NXT. There’s NO WAY she doesn’t win the Rumble from this spot, right? Baszler vs Becky at Wrestlemania is money. It’s fresh. It’s already been alluded to. It’s so obvious.
-Except nope! WWE is allergic to not giving Charlotte every single accolade that exists, and Charlotte–who can easily segue into any high level feud for Wrestlemania without a win here–wins the damn Rumble. As I noted after this match: how do you NOT give that to Baszler? It’s inconceivable. I am reminded of how I felt when Charlotte went over Asuka at ‘Mania. It’s nonsense. And given that Baszler was fresh as a daisy at #30, it makes her look like a schmuck for losing. She was there for, what, a few minutes? I couldn’t have finished a donut during her whole time.
What a terrible, awful, no-good, very bad decision. Baszler was RIGHT THERE. You were so close, WWE.
Men’s Rumble: The Participants:
1. Brock Lesnar
3. Erick Rowan
4. Robert Roode
5. John Morrison
6. Kofi Kingston
7. Rey Mysterio
8. Big E
10. Shelton Benjamin
11. Shinsuke Nakamura
13. Keith Lee
14. Braun Strowman
16. Drew McIntyre
17. The Miz
18. AJ Styles
19. Dolph Ziggler
20. Karl Anderson
22. King Corbin
23. Matt Riddle
24. Luke Gallows
25. Randy Orton
26. Roman Reigns
27. Kevin Owens
28. Aleister Black
29. Samoa Joe
30. Seth Rollins
4. Randy Orton (eliminated by Edge)
3. Edge (eliminated by Reigns)
2. Roman Reigns (eliminated by McIntyre)
WINNER: Drew McIntyre
-This is the easiest/weirdest Rumble to take notes on. Let’s at least start with the backstory for historical purposes.
Brock Lesnar came into the Rumble as the reigning WWE champion. Despite the fact that he spent 2018 getting his teeth whitened by Roman Reigns and his 2019 experiencing the same from Seth Rollins, he was AGAIN being treated as a conquering, unbeatable beast. Which… fine. He’s Brock. You can do that.
Because of this, he declared for the Rumble as champ and basically announced he was entering for fun to beat up everyone and prove his superiority.
Inherently, this wasn’t an awful idea because anything could have happened from there. He could have won the damn thing and built a Wrestlemania story out of his newfound complacency. He could have made it to the end and lost right at the last moment, giving him a natural foe created on the spot. The #2 entrant could have surprisingly tossed him to build a story between them (and/or where you had Brock stick around and just bitterly beat the hell out of everyone outside the ring). He could last for a little bit and dominate part of the affair and then get eliminated, which seemed the most generic idea. There were a lot of directions to go! Guess which one they did.
-See entrants #2-#14? None of them matter. Brock tossed every single one. Most in a few seconds, but some got to survive a round or two to build a mild hope spot. The reigning Intercontinental Champion. The white-hot reigning NXT North American champion. Former champ Kofi Kingston, who the fans came alive for and for whom they wanted to see some kind of retribution against Brock. John Morrison who JUST made his full-time return. Fodder, all of them.
(Morrison and Kofi don’t even get a single “save” spot that they are so good at.)
-Don’t worry about those guys, though, because THE OC AND DOLPH ZIGGLER were secure in the back half of the match and got extended runs. Keith Lee is a bag of cockroaches, but we gotta protect DOLPH ZIGGLER in 2020 by letting him last from #19 to #27.
-After Kofi and Keith Lee were both pitched, I started thinking “Okay, Brock Lesnar: The Story: The Rumble, I’m here for you now. You junked two guys who it made sense to do something with, but Brock is putting in work; let’s see where this goes”. It took up to Lee’s elimination, but I was appreciating Brock’s effort and the developing story.
Well, it go’ed about three more minutes, and then Drew McIntyre eliminated him. This Rumble took the Brock story exactly to the point where I was buying it and really investing in it… and then it closed the book. Like… I JUST got hooked, guys. Okay, fine. I can’t have nice things. I get it.
-EDGE! I was dumb on this one and really bit on the idea that Edge wasn’t coming back. I really figured the rumors were just that, and he was never going to be able to bump again. Seeing him back–and doing really well in the match–was the highlight of the second half of the Rumble. He’s looking old, but in great shape.
-Can I point out that the camera work was ABHORRENT during this Rumble? Remember several years ago when they missed AJ Styles’ Titantron intro by focusing on Roman’s face? Here they miss Edge’s first Spear in almost a decade by showing a bunch of putzes in the crowd instead! It’s not the last moment, either. They miss another big Spear moment later on, and they just seem frazzled ever trying to get the right shots of things. You really only notice this stuff when it’s bad, and it was remarkably so this night. It was a lot of “What are you trying to show me?” or “Why are you showing me THAT?”
-Matt Riddle! …was tossed almost immediately. DON’T WORRY, THOUGH. Dolph Ziggler and Karl Anderson were still getting an extended appearance by that point in the Year of Our Lord Two-Thousand And Twenty.
-A Rated-RKO reunion to dispatch The Club made me happy. Orton and Edge did a fair bit together this Rumble, up to and including Edge catching Orton trying to turn on him, and bit the viper back instead. Prior to that, they did a double-team RKO and worked in unison quite a bit, which is odd because their tag team days were actually so short-lived.
-Reigning Royal Rumble victor Seth Rollins came out at the #30 spot with his entourage of the Authors of Pain and Buddy Murphy (wasn’t Murphy supposed to be IN this match?). Shenanigans ensued as there was a lot of interference, and Black, Joe, and KO all got dispatched, leading to a big brawl to the locker room that took Seth’s gang out of the picture.
-Roman Reigns proved he is a BAD FRIEND because Seth offered to partner up with him against the other remaining foes, but Roman clocked him. This lead to a finisher spree and Seth’s elimination. I know Seth has been a villain lately, but he never turned on Roman (aside from that first time that was long-since forgiven)! They were friends and reunited Shield brothers the last time they interacted. Roman is a fair-weather friend, and that’s why only his actual family members help him when other people dump dog food on him. Shame, Roman.
-McIntyre ended up winning the Rumble, his first ever. I’m not… unexcited about it; I just don’t care. WWE has done a really great job making Drew feel like a nothing background player henchman for the past year-plus, and this sudden idea that he’s a capable hero… it’s going to take me some time to buy-in. I’m not the kind of fan that goes on about “So-and-so is being buried!”, but man… Drew felt buried to me. I had forgotten he even existed for months at a time.
I have seen the reactions and the Pre-Rumble predictions; I know a lot of others got back on the SS McIntyre in preparation for this show, but to me, it all feels pretty sudden and out-of-nowhere. I’m down to see where it goes between now and ‘Mania, but I’ll be honest… I’m lukewarm because I haven’t cared about Drew since NXT.
-On one hand, Drew is better than, say, Cain Velazquez. On the other hand… boy, I’d much rather they had recast McIntyre and Keith Lee in each other’s role for this match. Lee feels like the much hotter hand at this point, even if he clearly has more to do in NXT.
1. 2001 (Austin III) – 10/10
2. 2010 (Edge) – 9/10
3. 2004 (Benoit) – 9/10
4. 1992 (Flair) – 9/10
5. 2007 (The Undertaker) – 8/10
6. 2019W (Becky Lynch) – 8/10
7. 1997 (Austin I) – 8/10
8. 1998 (Austin II) – 8/10
9. 2008 (Cena I) – 7/10
10. 2018 (Nakamura) – 7/10
11. 2002 (HHH I) – 7/10
12. 2018W (Asuka) – 6/10
13. 2016 (HHH II) – 6/10
14. 2005 (Batista I) – 6/10
15. 2020 (McIntyre) – 6/10
15. 2017 (Orton II) – 6/10
16. 2003 (Lesnar) -5/10
17. 1989 (Studd) – 5/10
18. 1996 (Michaels II) – 5/10
20. 2019 (Rollins) – 5/10
21. 2011 (Del Rio) – 5/10
22. 1999 (McMahon) 4/10
23. 1993 (Yokozuna) – 4/10
24. 2020W (Charlotte) – 4/10
25. 1990 (Hogan I) – 4/10
26. 1994 (Hart/Luger) – 4/10
27. 2013 (Cena II) – 4/10
28. 2009 (Orton I) – 4/10
29. 2012 (Sheamus) – 3/10
30. 1991 (Hogan II) – 3/10
31. 2014 (Batista II) – 3/10
32. 2006 (Mysterio) – 3/10
33. 2000 (The Rock) – 3/10
34. 1995 (Michaels I) – 2/10
35. 1988 (Duggan) – 2/10
36. 2015 (Reigns) – 1/10
From the comments I have seen, everyone is much higher on the men’s Rumble than I, so… it is what it is. It left me feeling blue-balled. Just when Lee went out and I started caring about what Brock was going to do, they pulled the plug on that portion. Also, I’m lukewarm at best on Drew. I’m bumping it a full point for Edge, though. The Women’s Rumble suffered badly from having the dead-wrong winner, and it took all the air out of the bout for me. They did good work on Bianca and the Santina bit made me laugh, but it was just all right.