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Notes and Observations: Royal Rumble 2016

Dean Ambrose
Photo Courtesy of WWE

Sunday night, the Royal Rumble took place in Orlando, Florida. The event is a longtime staple of the WWE PPV business and one of the most beloved events of all time.

In terms of action, we had four title matches before we hit the main event, the Rumble match. Dean Ambrose (IC), Charlotte (Divas) and the New Day (Tag Team) all defended their titles against Kevin Owens, Becky Lynch and the Usos, respectively. They were all good matches that entertained those in attendance.

There was a title change in the United States Championship match, as Kalisto dethroned Alberto Del Rio. It was a shoddy match with some botches and loudly called spots, but the crowd received Kalisto well upon gaining victory.

Lastly, the Royal Rumble gave us a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, as Triple H eliminated Ambrose last to earn the title.

In the aftermath of the Royal Rumble, let’s now hand out a couple of awards and make some notes and observations about the event.

Match of the Night: Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens

The best match of the night led off the pay-per-view. The in-ring action, the psychology and the animosity that Dean Amborse and Kevin Owens shared was incredible. It truly made it a great match, especially for a Last Man Standing Match in the PG-era. I really hope this rivalry isn’t over.

Wrestler of the Night: AJ Styles

I could have given this to multiple people. Kalisto could have won, but his match had too many botches. I could have given it to Dean Ambrose for retaining the IC Championship and being the runner-up in the Royal Rumble. I could have given it to Triple H for winning the Rumble. However, I have to give it to AJ Styles as an obligation. He got the best reaction of the night and lasted over 20 minutes in the Royal Rumble match. Here’s to hoping he has a fruitful stay in the WWE.

Notes and Observations

  • In watching the pre-show (and other pre-shows), I realize that Corey Graves should be doing commentary on the main roster. He’s too good a talker and puts things over so well, something a lot of the play-by-play and color commentators don’t.
  • Speaking of the announce desk, Mauro Ranallo is the best commentator in the company. I know he’s only been around for less than a month, but he should have been calling the Royal Rumble.
  • I’ll be honest; I like Mark Henry and Jack Swagger as a tag team. It just works. Their American connection as a tag team is perfect; Henry toting the “We the People” chant with Swagger just looked so right.
  • The selling and ring psychology in the match between Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose is what separates them with most of the roster. That is likely because they actually come from pro wrestling backgrounds, not sports backgrounds. When you actually come up through the indies and get trained old school, you do things correctly. They even carried over selling their injuries to the Rumble match. Brilliant.
  • Commercials on a pay-per-view? Seriously? I know it’s on the WWE Network, but come on.
  • The New Day had a hilarious promo before their match with the Usos. Best act in the WWE right now. Also, if the New Day eventually ends, if Big E doesn’t break out as a singles star, it will be a shame. The way he caught Jey Uso on his shoulder for the Big Ending was beyond impressive.
  • The Usos were getting booed and the New Day was getting cheered. Who is the face team and who is the heel team again?
  • OK, the pointing to the WrestleMania sign camera angle is way too overused and has run its course. Hell, it jumped the shark several years ago. Time to quit using that.
  • The Alberto Del Rio-Kalisto match was OK, but there were a couple botches that lessened the match. Not only that, but Del Rio was calling out the spots too loud. I’m happy they at least put the title on Kalisto. Exciting new star, he is.
  • Smart booking by the WWE to set up Charlotte’s next feud at the pay-per-view, especially with Sasha Banks. She’s the most over woman on the roster. I predict she will eventually win the Divas Championship at WrestleMania.
  • I really didn’t think WWE was going to pull the trigger on AJ Styles until the night after Royal Rumble on Raw. That said, it was amazing that they got him in the Royal Rumble match and did it early, throwing out the speculation that would linger throughout the match.
  • Ryback used CM Punk’s running knees in the corners when he entered the match. I wonder if that was intentional, given their history. I’d love to hear CM Punk’s thoughts on that.
  • Wow, the babyfaces got dumped on all night, from the first matches to the Rumble. The Usos, Ryback and Roman Reigns, among others, received extremely negative reactions from the fans in attendance.
  • R Truth’s comedy spot in the middle of the match was somewhat funny, but why is he being portrayed as Santino Marella 2.0? It’s like he’s borderline mentally challenged when he’s climbing a ladder in the middle of the Rumble match like the belt was hanging from the rafters.
  • I think the booking of the Rumble match was obvious. I think most people knew Triple H was going to win, even though he wasn’t an announced participant. The thrashing of Roman Reigns and subsequent return was also obvious. It didn’t hold me back from enjoying the match regardless, even though Triple H being the WWE World Heavyweight Champion is kinda “meh.”
  • Sami Zayn made a surprise entrance to the Rumble, which was cool. I was expecting Finn Balor, though.

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