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Wrestling

Royal Rumble 2021: A Feel Good Show For The Pandemic Era – Review

The Royal Rumble is arguably the most hopeful and exciting event in WWE’s calendar. It’s the start of the Road to Wrestlemania, it’s the indicator to where we’re going for the next couple months of programming. Stars are born, legacies are fortified, and legends return. This time around, we’re having a stranger Royal Rumble in the Thunderdome. So while there might not be fans, we’re all there emotionally.

Stuff about what the Rumble meant when I know the results…

WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Goldberg

That was a terrible waste of time. Who did that help? It made the Fiend look like a bitch. The only good thing about this was that it didn’t last very long. No one is expecting Goldberg to have any semblance of a good match in 2003, so expecting it in 2021, is even sillier. Drew doesn’t look good coming out of this. Goldberg didn’t do anything differently than we’ve ever seen.

So I guess for the really really common fan, this was exciting? But this was horrid and should never be on our screens again. Please keep Goldberg away from major titles and our young stars. If Goldberg wants to go on a spree of putting younger people over, maybe he should have thought about doing that in 2004.

Earning Goldberg’s “respect” in 2021 is meaningless.

I’m really tired of main event matches for major titles in WWE looking like this. Get some actual wrestling on the show. Thanks, next.

Drew McIntyre Wins Via Claymore and Retains The WWE Championship

Rating: .5/5

Just because Drew won. Never watch this again.

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Match: Sasha Banks vs. Carmella

This was an actual wrestling match. That’s what putting Goldberg on will do. For a match with Sasha Banks in it, this was a fairly sloppy affair. Carmella hit face-first on a dive. There was a frog splash that didn’t look quite right. But overall this was solid match. You can’t really have a bad match when Sasha Banks is involved.

Carmella’s submission is impressive looking and she’s probably got some more title reigns in her future. But for now Sasha Banks is the top of the mountain for Smackdown Live and their Women’s Title. This could have been better, their TLC match was a finer example of what these two can do. So it’s strange that they would give it all for that show, but for a large show like the Royal Rumble, it looks like they held back a bit.

The finish kind of came out of nowhere, and the match was a bit disjointed. Sasha is on to bigger and better things. Who knows where Carmella is going from here.

Sasha Banks wins via Submission and Retains The Smackdown Women’s Title

Rating: 3/5

Match was solid, but unspectacular. Thanks for getting the taste of Goldberg out of our mouths.

Women’s Royal Rumble Match

This one had some great moments, but also some seriously strange booking. Billie Kay was the highlight of the first half of the match, while Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair were the Iron Women. They both carried the proceedings, and the right person won. Bianca Belair was asking for the rocket to get strapped to her. Belair vs. Sasha Banks for the Smackdown Women’s Championship is going to be AMAZING.

Overall, this one was disjointed but WWE did the right thing. Having Charlotte win the Rumble two years in a row would have been a wet fart of an ending. I also despise how WWE gave away who number 30 was going to be ahead of time. Having it be Natalya was especially disappointing. So you’re sitting there the entire time between 29 and 30 just dreading the fact that she’s going to come out. Lana got her payoff with Nia Jax and then was dumped out by Natty. Billie Kay got somewhat of a joke payoff, but she was dumped out in front of her former tag-team partner.

Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler were the wrecking crew, but they too, were disappointing. I just don’t care for Nia Jax, she gets the Big Show spots for the women, but she doesn’t inspire any real fear or tension. There wasn’t the normal dominant performance like years past, but Belair and Naomi carried the entire thing. Logic got thrown out the window at certain points, which is par for the course for WWE’s booking of their women.

Women’s Rumble Continued

The women’s Rumble had the best ending possible with Bianca Belair and we didn’t get many surprises. Free agents like Taya Valkyrie and Tessa Blanchard didn’t make their debuts in the match. Alexa Bliss didn’t get to show us her transformation. But at the end of it all, the match felt good because the right woman won. Bianca Belair was the best choice.

Outside of the ending though, this was easily the worst of the Women’s Rumbles that they’ve ran so far. It just didn’t have that extra oomph and felt strange throughout. I hope they never announce the number 30 entrant in the future again, because that let the air out of the match until the end. They don’t often let the final two just breath and have a mini-match of their own, but they did with Ripley and Belair here. So for that, it doesn’t get a failing grade.

Bianca Belair eliminates Rhea Ripley to win the 2021 Women’s Royal Rumble.

Rating: 3/5

Belair was the right choice, but questionable booking choices drag this one down to the bottom of the list for Women’s Rumble matches so far.

WWE Universal Championship Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens

Is that the best Last Man Standing match in WWE history? Probably. While this would have been better with fans, like everything on the card, this was a product of the “Pandemic Era”. For a match that went into the back, it didn’t feel as long as the Randy Orton-Edge match from Wrestlemania last year. This was brutal as they come for WWE matches. Kevin Owens put his body on the line, Roman Reigns looked like a beast, and I would watch these two duke it out forever.

Owens flew off not one, but two high spots. He got ran over by a golf cart. He ingeniously used Roman’s own handcuffs against him, but he still couldn’t pull it out. Roman Reigns as a heel has plenty of room to grow here. So while Owens might not have succeeded, he earned all the respect in the world for this match. These types of encounters usually bog down with the ten counts disrupting the action. This time, however, it was a fluid, cohesive match, despite a bit of a screwup at the end of the match.

I’m guessing whoever wins the Men’s Rumble next is going to face-off with Roman at Wrestlemania, so Kevin Owens will need a sick feud to come out of this with. He deserves it, and if WWE didn’t have two amazing champions, he should be one. This was a fantastic match, instantly rewatchable.

Roman Reigns Wins Via 10 Count and Retains The WWE Universal Championship

Rating: 5/5

This one was the best singles match by far of the night. On a night where the competitors were shackled down by Goldberg or had off nights, this was a breath of fresh air.

Men’s Royal Rumble Match

Well that went from being relatively fun to completely mysterious, to a great Rumble. Sure, the super fan favorites didn’t end up winning, but Edge coming back and Christian making the final four is a great story. They almost threw us for a loop with Braun Strowman and then eventually Randy Orton at the very end. This was one of the most mysterious Rumbles of all-time. Going into it, there were definitive favorites, but since last year, this was always the plan. Edge coming back and winning from the number one spot is a hell of a story from where he was a couple years ago.

This one didn’t have the defining moment besides the winner though. The action was fast, this might have been the fastest Rumble of all-time. It sure felt like that, and we didn’t get too many huge surprises. There was only a couple of NXT people, and the rest were people who we’ve seen in recent history besides Christian. Shane Helms making an appearance with AEW and WWE this close together is pretty hilarious. What the Rumble is really good for though, is showing what feuds are coming up. With this one you can’t really foresee what WWE is going to do next. Is Randy Orton going to beat Drew for the title again and battle Edge at Wrestlemania? Who is Big E going to feud with for the Intercontinental Championship?

I’m really happy for Edge and I wanted Daniel Bryan to win, but there’s still room for him to challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship outright. Seth Rollins’s return also adds a brand new wrinkle to everything.

Edge Outlasts Everyone From Number 1 and Wins the 2021 Men’s Royal Rumble

Rating: 4/5

WWE Has The Wonderful Issue Of Too Much Depth At The Top

For many years there, WWE couldn’t make stars. Now they have too many at the top. Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Edge, Braun Strowman, King Corbin (yes, fight me, he’s awesome), Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura, the names go on and on. A lot of these guys could lead the company into the next era. It’s the feelgood story that brings us into The Road to Wrestlemania though.

The 2021 Royal Rumble was always going to be an event dictated by the pandemic. The WWE has been doing the best they can with the ThunderDome and making it feel like fans are in the building. From the Last Man Standing Match to everything else, this event was a fun watch, but doesn’t compare to the best Royal Rumbles ever. The two Rumble matches were disjointed a bit, especially the Women’s match. You might not say that the right person won both, but Bianca Belair and Edge winning both give solid stories into Wrestlemania.

It might not be an event that I rewatch a bunch, but this was a solid Royal Rumble. So let’s all get going on that Road to Wrestlemania.

For more on WWE, pro wrestling, or any other general pop culture, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.

By Hunter Bolding

Wrestling fan since Sting vs. Hogan at Starrcade. Video game fanatic since I played Wario Land on the Game Boy. Music nerd, Magic: the Gathering player, and any other fandom you can think of under the sun.

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