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WWE ROYAL RUMBLE KICKOFF REPORT
JANUARY 26, 2020
STREAMED ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY MIKE F. MEYERS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Kickoff Panel: Jonathan Coachman, Charly Caruso, Christian, David Otunga, Renee Young, Booker T, Sam Roberts
Christian and Jonathan briefly joked about both having been in Royal Rumble matches, and Christian said the best strategy is to “stay low.”
The main panel threw to the secondary panel of Renee, Booker, and Sam, who were positioned along the first baseline of Minute Maid Park. Sam was quick to point out that Booker had been in Royal Rumble matches but had never won one.
Natalya joined the main panel, and said she would love to face Bayley one-on-one at Wrestlemania should she win the Rumble match tonight. She admitted to not being able to prepare for the Rumble since most of the entrants are still unknown.
The main panel discussed Lynch vs. Asuka. David said defeating Asuka was the only thing holding Lynch back, and Christian added that tonight’s match is bigger for Lynch than a Wrestlemania main event would be.
While discussing Fiend vs. Bryan, Christian said that Bryan has “flipped the script” on the Fiend, who normally has the upper hand in using mind games against his opponents. David disagreed, and claimed it wasn’t possible to get into the Fiend’s head. He also pointed out the logistical issue of Bryan being unable to get the running starts he needs for much of his offense if he is tethered to the Fiend with a strap.
After showing a strange corn dog commercial in which Lacy Evans wrestled a cartoonish furry monster, the panel discussed her match against Bayley. Bayley was interviewed live backstage. She said people shouldn’t buy into the Lacy facade, but she pronounced facade “fa-sade,” which is what happens when you require professional wrestlers to adhere to a script that contains speech unnatural for their true character.
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
(1) SHEAMUS vs. SHORTY G
Shorty G tried twice to go low and take down Sheamus, but both times Sheamus tossed him aside with little effort. Shorty G managed to get some holds in, but Sheamus leveled him with a shoulder block. Shorty G gained some momentum and hit a high cross body against Sheamus near the ropes, causing both men to topple over the top rope to ringside.
Back in the ring, Shorty G nearly applied an ankle lock, but Sheamus escaped and fired him into the ring post between the turnbuckles. Sheamus then landed a shoulder breaker, and it was revealed that Shorty G’s left ear had been cut open, likely on the corner move. Sheamus locked in an arm bar in the middle of the ring.
Shorty G got to his feet, but Sheamus knocked him back to the canvas with an overhead double axe handle to his chest. Sheamus went to work with some small joint manipulation to Shorty G’s hand, and Shorty G escaped by stomping on Sheamus’s feet. Sheamus tied up Shorty G on the ropes and went into his classic overhead clubbing blows to Shorty G’s chest. He rolled out to the floor and repeated this attack – the crowd counted along with the blows both times. Sheamus shouted to the crowd, “Are you not entertained?”
They rolled back into the ring where Sheamus began taunting Shorty G, calling him a disease. Shorty G finally managed to knock Sheamus off his feet with a low altitude dropkick to Sheamus’s knee. Shorty G landed a series of chops and forearm blows, and a pair of somersault heel kicks to Sheamus’s face. With Sheamus prone in the corner, Shorty G landed multiple stomps to Sheamus’s left ankle, and Corey pointed out that is Sheamus’s plant leg for the brogue kick.
Shorty G took Sheamus down with a DDT, then landed a moonsault from the top turnbuckle, then covered for a believable near fall. Shorty G executed a German suplex to Sheamus, showcasing his power. Sheamus stunned Shorty G by clotheslining him against the top rope, then attempted a leaping clothesline from the top rope but Shorty G rolled through and countered the attack into an ankle lock. Sheamus broke the hold by getting to the bottom rope.
Shorty G took Sheamus down with a surprise crucifix roll up, but Sheamus kicked out at two, then quickly hit the brogue kick. Sheamus covered for three.
WINNER: Sheamus by pinfall in 13:00.
(Meyers’s Analysis: Sheamus was a safe bet to win this match what with his recent return to action. To give the company credit, they made no effort to embarrass Shorty G by making him seem weak or ineffectual against a much larger opponent. The story of Shorty G trying to disable Sheamus’s limbs was told well.)
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Jerry Lawler
(2) HUMBERTO CARRILLO vs. ANDRADE (c) (w/ Zelina Vega) – United States Championship match
Carrillo got the upper hand early with some lucha-style arm drags. Andrade rolled out to ringside, and Carrillo scaled the top rope to attack, but Andrade hopped onto the apron and knocked Carrillo down to the floor.
In the ring, Andrade maintained control. He applied a cross arm breaker over the top rope, punishing Carrillo for the ref’s full five-count. He then applied an arm bar in the middle of the ring. Carrillo got to his feet and escaped the hold with blows to Andrade’s midsection, but Andrade quickly knocked him back to the mat. Andrade worked with the plodding pace of a heel, landing chops to Carrillo against the ropes.
Andrade countered another flying arm drag by slamming Carrillo to the mat face-first out of midair. Carrillo countered out of a submission with a sunset flip and covered for two. Carrillo took to the air again, hitting a high cross body before leveling Andrade with a roundhouse kick to the face. He attempted a rolling moonsault, but Andrade lifted his knees to block the attack.
Andrade charged at Carrillo, who was standing on the ring apron. Carrillo sidestepped and Andrade slid out to ringside, and without missing a beat, Carrillo launched off the top rope to hit Andrade with a moonsault at ringside – a really cool spot.
Andrade reversed the flow by hitting Carrillo with rolling suplexes, shades of Eddie Guerrero. He sprinted at Carrillo who was slumped in the corner and landed a double knee strike, then covered for a two-count.
Carrillo stunned Andrade in the middle of the ring with a superkick, good for a two-count. The wrestlers slowly got to their knees, then their feet, exchanging blows and selling the effects of the match. Both men missed big kicks and haymakers. They scaled a corner together, and Carrillo executed a top-rope hurricanrana. Carrillo crawled across the ring to cover Andrade, but Andrade kicked out at two. Carrillo went to roll up Andrade for a pin with a head scissors, but Andrade rolled through it into a pin of his own, this time good for the victory.
WINNER: Andrade by pinfall.
(Meyers’s Analysis: More good stuff from these two, apparently never destined to have a main card match. This is a likely candidate for a Raw rematch tomorrow night, as most fans will have missed this pre-show match.)
R-Truth joined the secondary panel. They tried to explain to Truth that he wasn’t in the Royal Rumble match. Sam asked Truth how he could’ve possibly watched John Cena as his childhood favorite. Truth simply responded, “On the TV.”
Charlotte Flair was interviewed backstage. Charlotte said, “I don’t see 29 competitors. I see numbers. When they look at me, they will see the queen.” Whatever.
The secondary panel did a walk-and-talk along the ramp where the Royal Rumble participants will make their entrances. Booker went on a tirade about the excitement of pre-match nerves, and concluded by yelling, “Shucky ducky, quack quack!” He then briefly abandoned the panel to celebrate with nearby fans.
After a video package, the panel discussed last night’s NXT Worlds Collide PPV. Charly described Walter as “a badass.” They suggested that potential NXT entrants into tonight’s Rumble may have an advantage, as none of the scheduled wrestlers will have prepared to deal with them.
The panel announced that Reigns vs. Corbin would take place at 7:01pm, opening the main card. Jonathan said he ran into Corbin earlier today, and learned they would both be at the Super Bowl next week.
Kofi was interviewed backstage. Regarding the Rumble, he said, “It’s a one way ticket to Wrestlemania. A lot of people are talking about Kofimania last year,” but “what matters is tonight.” Kofi said he didn’t know what number he was, and that was part of the excitement and unpredictability of the Rumble. He addressed the potential of him and Big E being the final two in the Rumble: “Well, then ring the bell!”, suggesting that no matter which one wins, all three members of the New Day win.