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WWE ROYAL RUMBLE 2021 KICKOFF REPORT
JANUARY 31, 2020
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY MIKE F. MEYERS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Kickoff Panel: Charly Caruso, Jerry Lawler, Booker T, JBL, Peter Rosenberg
A video package was shown for McIntyre vs. Goldberg, which will be the first match on the main card. On the panel, Charly acknowledged the age gap between these wrestlers. Lawler said Goldberg would be motivated enough to overcome McIntyre’s youth. Peter wondered aloud if Goldberg even deserves this title shot. Booker said that Goldberg has an uphill battle, especially as McIntyre has a “cloak of invincibility” since winning the title. He added that the key for Goldberg’s success has to be striking first. JBL concurred, saying Goldberg has to win within five minutes or else it’s over.
The panel threw to Carmella, who was backstage applying mascara. Reginald appeared with a glass of champagne for Carmella. Sonya Deville joined the panel. The panelists took turns complimenting her updated wardrobe. Deville thought Banks defeating Reginald two weeks ago was “evolutionary.” Booker asked, “Who can’t beat that guy?” Deville predicted a Carmella victory over Sasha Banks.
Charly threw to a video package for Bianca Belair and her 2020 Royal Rumble debut. In the video, Belair said she wants to eliminate Bayley in the 2021 Rumble match. Charly asked what the Royal Rumble represents for people new to the roster. Booker thought that Belair’s recent match against Bayley helped to prepare her for tonight’s Rumble. Peter commented on the number of unnamed slots in the Rumble matches, and how he enjoys that as a fan. He added that the Vegas odds are all on Belair to win. JBL scoffed and said that Belair’s eliminations last year don’t mean she can win this year. Charly shrewdly indicated that the order of your entry in the Rumble can have an impact on your success.
A video was shown of an emotional Natalya saying she’s entering the Rumble at number 30 and intends to win. While JBL was talking about the value of entering late, Peter pulled the ultimate rib by flipping the height adjustment lever on JBL’s chair. JBL reacted loudly, and Peter pointed his thumbs at himself to take credit.
The panel discussed Reigns vs. Owens. JBL said Owens is a past and future champion, but right now, Reigns has his number. Lawler said you can’t outsmart Paul Heyman, and that Owens isn’t going to get one over on Reigns.
R-Truth appeared wearing a red and black flannel shirt and winter hat. Truth was confusing the musical artist Bad Bunny with Warner Brothers icon Bugs Bunny. Booker slowly broke it to Truth that it’s Bad Bunny, not Bugs Bunny. Lawler added clarification: “It’s a different bunny.” Truth looked stunned, then said, “That’s all, folks,” and quickly departed.
Announcer Team: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe
(1) SHAYNA BASZLER & NIA JAX vs. ASUKA & CHARLOTTE FLAIR, WOMEN’S TAG TEAM MATCH
Flair started off against Baszler. They started slowly by grappling one another in the middle of the ring. Baszler fired Flair toward the ropes, and Flair leveled her with a shoulder block on the rebound. Asuka tagged in and snap mared Baszler to the mat before delivering a kick to her chest. Baszler caught a second kick and threw Asuka to the mat. Jax tagged in and taunted Asuka verbally. Asuka responded by applying an octopus hold and landing a kick. Flair tagged back in and rolled up Jax for a one-count.
Asuka tagged in and landed two forearm shots but Jax quickly knocked Asuka to the canvas. Baszler tagged in and stomped Asuka’s right arm, then covered Asuka for a two-count. Baszler applied an arm bar, then leveled Asuka with a clothesline. Asuka kicked out of another pin attempt. Jax tagged in and applied a cobra clutch to Asuka. Asuka got free and hit a missile dropkick and a facebuster to Jax, finally knocking her off her feet. Asuka covered Jax for two.
Asuka climbed to the top rope but Jax met her there and planted a head butt. Jax lifted Asuka onto her shoulders but Asuka slipped down onto her feet, then powerbombed Jax from the turnbuckles to the canvas. Asuka covered, but Baszler entered and broke up the pin. Jax returned the powerbomb favor to Asuka and seemingly had the victory, but Flair dove in to bust up the cover.
Baszler and Flair tagged in simultaneously, and Flair laid in a series of chops and a fallaway slam to Baszler. Jax entered the ring and Flair hit a double Natural Selection against both opponents, then covered the legal woman Baszler for a two-count. Flair climbed a corner but Jax distracted her, allowing Baszler to yank her down to the mat. Baszler rocked Flair with a running knee strike, then covered for two. On the floor, Jax and Baszler fired Asuka over an announce table. Flair climbed the top turnbuckle and took out both opponents on the floor with a moonsault.
Flair climbed into the ring as Ric Flair’s music played and Ric appeared on the stage. Baszler rolled up Flair by surprise, but Flair kicked out. Lacey Evans appeared on the apron and further distracted Flair. Ric passed a foreign object to Evans, who then struck Flair with the loaded Woman’s Right. Flair was out cold, allowing Jax to pin for the victory.
WINNERS: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax by pinfall in 10:30.
(Meyers’s Analysis: The match was acceptable at first, but naturally Ric Flair and Lacey Evans had to become involved, sealing Ric’s heel turn against his own daughter. This casts doubt on a potential split-up and feud between Flair and Asuka, as it seems Flair would want her current crosshairs trained on Evans after tonight’s events.)
Find Mike Meyers on Twitter: @themikeshow42