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Immediate Royal Rumble Thoughts

It's time for my favorite wrestling event of the year! Hopefully it will be great, but just in case it isn't.... make sure to check out our Required Royal Rumble Reading section in between the action.

Pat McAfee returning to the announce booth felt like an incredibly big moment (which you don't see very often for a commentator) and it was a nice way to kick off show. I'm surprised the Mens Royal Rumble match is first this year, but couldn't think of two better people to kick things off than Gunther and Sheamus.

The first third of the match was a lot of fun - no surprises yet but a lot of great, hard-hitting performers who the fans are reacting strongly to. I wish this was a year where they went 2 minutes between entrants instead of 90 seconds, but I get the time constraints overall. I really like how they've kept the ring relatively full throughout.

The second third of the match was a bit more interesting, with some big names cycling through and still no real surprises. Bobby Lashley eliminating Brock Lesnar was a moment for the ages. Is Kofi Kingston still in the match, or what? My only thought is where the star power will be for the final 10 competitors (besides Cody Rhodes, anyways)? Will be interesting to see.

Booker T was a super-fun cameo; how amazing would it be to see have one more run in the ring? And I was wrong about star power - between Braun Strowman, Edge, Omos and several others, this match kept the momentum going. Did Logan Paul and Edge go to the same tailor? Still, the moment with he and Ricochet was pretty damn awesome. While the choice to make Cody Rhodes # 30 was super-predictable, it still very much worked. Was kind of worried he'd be booed by the pro-Sami Zayn contingent, but that never quite happened. The final several minutes with Rhodes and Gunther was incredible, even though the finish wasn't really in doubt for a second.

Overall, a great Royal Rumble and I'm already drained after watching it.

The Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match (sigh) was nothing more than a fun visual, and I'm not sure it was needed on a stacked show like this one.

I didn't mind the Alexa Bliss-Bianca Belair bout, but I was really expecting a title change here. Two serious bring-down matches following the Rumble and very surprising considering both women are capable of so much better.

The first third of the Womens Royal Rumble was a bit on the slow side, although it did pick up when Roxanne Perez came in. I have to say, Rhea Ripley entering at number one will only be effective if she wins the whole damn match.

Things started to pick up a bit during the second third of the Rumble, with a massive pop for Asuka and even one for "Definitely Not Doudrop" Piper Neaven. It was even great to see the return of Chelsea Green, even if only for a second.

The final third of the Rumble was easily the best, with a lot of intense moments there. The finish was quite inventine, and didn't hurt Liv Morgan or Asuka one bit. I take back what I said about Rhea Ripley as her "wire to wire" victory was a memorable one. Overall, not as strong as the Mens match, but not bad, either.

To state the obvious, we probably could have done without a "Hardy" concert at 11:30 p.m.

The main event was better than anything I could have anticipated. Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens delivered big time, even without the Sami Zayn drama at ringside. But then, the developments after the match were as emotional as anything we've seen in years, perhaps decades. The entire crowd was behind Zayn, Owens and even Jey Uso by the end, with them loudly shouting "F*ck you, Roman" - which has been hard to achieve with The Bloodline's "cool heel" popularity for some time now. Just a tremendous piece of work.

Overall... the Royal Rumble felt way too long this year, but pretty much everything meant something on the show, so it was time worth investing in.


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