The 2019 Royal Rumble is the first major WWE PPV event of the year, and following up with the amazing NXT TakeOver: Phoenix with the start of the Road to WrestleMania.
There were 10 matches, with three of the pre-show and the main Royal Rumble card lasting almost five hours for the other seven matches. The very long night saw the two wrestlers originally favored to win the Rumble matches win and two WWE championships change hands on the show.
Here is a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of the 2019 Royal Rumble.
WWE Royal Rumble 2019 results
- Bobby Roode and Chad Gable beat Rezar and Scott Dawson
- US Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura beat Rusev (c)
- Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy (c) beat Kalisto, Akira Tozawa and Hideo Itami
- SmackDown Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) beat Becky Lynch
- SmackDown Tag Team Championship: Shane McMahon and Miz beat The Bar (c)
- Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (c) beat Sasha Banks
- Women’s Royal Rumble: Becky Lynch
- WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) beat AJ Styles
- Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) beat Finn Balor
- Men’s Royal Rumble: Seth Rollins
WWE Royal Rumble 2019: The Good
The Becky Lynch story
The show opened with Becky Lynch taking on Asuka, and the first thing I thought was that this was going to mean Lynch was going to lose and enter the women’s Royal Rumble match later on the show. That was exactly what happened.
The match itself was great, a hard-hitting match between two of the top women superstars in the WWE and the company seems set on proving that Asuka is the superstar that NXT fans always knew she was.
Asuka beating Becky Lynch by submission didn’t hurt Lynch either, as when she came out for the women’s Rumble match, the entire stadium erupted. She was easily the most over wrestler on the entire show.
Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor
Brock Lesnar works best when he is facing a smaller wrestler — one that he wants to work with.
His matches with AJ Styles (Royal Rumble 2018) and Daniel Bryan (Survivor Series) were more entertaining than any Brock Lesnar match in the last few years.
While the Balor match was not up to the level of the other two, it was still an incredibly entertaining big man vs. little man match. They played it smart and had Balor move to cause Lesnar to slam his lower abdominal area into the exposed ringside announcer’s table.
From that point on, Lesnar was injured. It was clear that Balor wouldn’t hurt Lesnar with just kicks and punches but when Lesnar suffered an internal injury, suddenly it looked like Balor had a chance.
When he hit the coup-de-grace at the end, it really seemed like Balor was going to pull off the upset and the fact that Lesnar needed to use a submission hold to win told a different story than other Brock matches.
This was entertaining and told a good story.
WWE Royal Rumble 2019: The Bad
Shane McMahon and Miz
It isn’t the story that bothers me that much. I like this version of Miz. It is something I haven’t seen before. He is always interesting and he is doing something very different and it still works.
I also don’t mind watching Shane McMahon try to destroy his body as he nears 50. He clearly goes all in when it comes to his performances.
However, The Bar is one of the best tag teams in the WWE. Add in The Usos, New Day and Sanity, and there are some fantastic tag teams on SmackDown Live that should be in the tag title mix.
And they gave the titles to Shane McMahon and Miz. This might be leading to McMahon and Miz at WrestleMania 35, but this title reign needs to be short.
Ronda Rousey vs. Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks proved that she could turn in top quality matches in the first year of the women’s evolution in the WWE when she feuded with Charlotte Flair.
However, something has changed for Banks. She has been stuck in a mid-card story with Bayley that went nowhere and then fought with the Riott Squad in a never-ending feud.
She also ended Paige’s career with a botched move in a house show match — not the first time that Banks has hurt someone in a botched move.
The Banks vs. Rousey match was nowhere near as good as the Rousey vs. Flair match and with fans excited to see Rousey and Lynch face off at WrestleMania (which is the prediction on who Lynch chooses to face), it seems Banks is just going to get pushed back down.
Sasha Banks and Bayley are favorites to win the first-ever women’s tag team titles, but unless Banks finally turns heel, there isn’t much upside left for The Boss.
No real surprises in Royal Rumble
Last year, there were legendary Divas coming into the women’s Royal Rumble match and fans loved it. They didn’t take away any time from the main wrestlers either, really.
One of the most exciting things for fans is to see legends make their appearance in the men’s match as well, or at least see a surprising debut (see: AJ Styles).
This year, the only men’s match surprises were NXT superstars, Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle, Dolph Ziggler
Jarrett was there as a gimmick and was eliminated before the third wrestler entered the ring. Angle was forgettable. Ziggler was slightly surprising and Jax was a waste. The only real fun surprises were guys like Johnny Gargano, Pete Dunn
With that said: where was EC3?
And, also, did Elias turn heel out of nowhere? He insulted the Arizona Diamondbacks in Arizona and then smashed Jeff Jarrett with his guitar. It was a strange night for Elias.
The women’s match was better, with the NXT appearances there very fun, so at least this isn’t ugly.
One last thing — neither Royal Rumble winner was a surprise, so that was a little disappointing that it was so transparent who was going to win each match — even if it was the right choices.
WWE Royal Rumble 2019: The Ugly
Not a happy Rusev Day
Rusev lost his United States Championship less than a month after he won it.
The fans are very much invested in Rusev and his role as a face is fresh and fun. At the same time, Shinsuke Nakamura came off an uninspired and boring title reign.
Now, Shinsuke is champion again and there is little chance they do much with him now that he is holding the title again. This match was just there to take the belt off Rusev and set up the Lana injury line that let Becky Lynch get into the Royal Rumble and back into the title picture.
Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles
Before this makes anyone mad, these two turned in a perfectly fine match against each other. They wretsled a more technical styled match, but the problem is that they followed Lynch’s Royal Rumble match win and had no chance of winning the crowd over with this style of a match.
This is similar to the Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose match from last year that should have been an aggressive blood feud but was instead just a wrestling match. It didn’t work.
Vince McMahon asked to see the more aggressive AJ Styles and that is what fans expected to see here. What they got was a wrestling match.
Add in an Erick Rowan run in and a referee bump that seemingly has put Bryan and Rowan together in a new stable, and it was just confusing.
This made no sense.
The WWE has said for the past few years that there is no reason to have men and women battle each other physically. Then, tonight Nia Jax beat up R-Truth and put herself into the men’s Royal Rumble match.
Mustafa Ali had a great showing and even eliminated Samoa Joe and then, after he refused to fight a woman, she tossed him out.
However, after she attacked Rey Mysterio, it was over with. Dolph Ziggler (who shockingly showed up after telling reporters that he was on hiatus and was not going to be there)
They then tossed her. The fans in attendance loved it because they have hated Nia Jax ever since she concussed Becky Lynch with a botched punch. But, it really felt unnecessary and out of place.
The pacing of the Royal Rumble
The 2019 WWE Royal Rumble was four and a half hours long and the pre-show was two hours. No matter how much someone loves the WWE, over six hours of wrestling in one sitting is way too much.
The show just seemed to drag on and on and on. Honestly, casual fans tuned out before the men’s Royal Rumble match even started, and that is not a good thing. Even if they want to go four hours, they need to pace things better.
This was a long show and seemed like a chore at times to make it through.
WWE Royal Rumble 2019: Final Thoughts
The 2019 Royal Rumble had some ups and downs.
The two title changes were not great as a makeshift team beat The Bar and Rusev lost his US title after just one month.
The two Royal Rumble matches were fun and the insertion of NXT stars was great, but the winners were easy to guess (even with Lynch being a “surprise entrant”) and the lack of surprises was disappointing.
The two world title matches were polar opposites, with Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor shockingly surpassing AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan in every way. The two women’s title matches were what most expected with Becky Lynch vs. Asuka being fantastic and Sasha Banks vs. Ronda Rousey being slightly paint-by-numbers.
Overall, it was a good Royal Rumble in 2019, with the biggest complaint being that it was too long and needed better pacing and maybe about 30 minutes shaved off the event.