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WWE ROYAL RUMBLE KICKOFF REPORT
JANUARY 29, 2021
REPORT BY MIKE F. MEYERS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Kickoff Panel: Jerry Lawler, Booker T, Kayla Braxton, Peter Rosenberg
-When Deville joined the panel, Booker asked how her joining the Rumble match wasn’t a conflict of interest. She said the job has evolved since he was there, and “we’re doing things differently.” Peter doubled down, saying she lost her match to Naomi as a competitor, then put on the jacket to become an official, then declared herself in the Rumble. Deville claimed that the referee for that match (Dan Engler) did not call things down the middle.
-A video was shown for Edge & Beth Phoenix vs. Miz & Maryse. Booker said that Maryse is a Hollywood beauty queen, “which is fine,” but he didn’t like her chances against Phoenix. Regarding couples in the ring, Peter reminded us of how co-panelist Booker T endangered his wife, Sharmell, with the Boogie Man.
-A brief backstage video was shown of AJ Styles saying that he’s never won the Royal Rumble, “but that changes tonight.”
-A video was shown for Rollins vs. Reigns. Booker said that Rollins has evolved since his time in the Shield, and that he’s working smarter rather than harder. He then compared Reigns to Thanos, and suggested Reigns could change everything with a snap of his finger. Regarding the bloodline, Lawler said that Reigns needs the Usos at ringside like how a fish needs a bicycle. Peter compared Reigns to Mike Tyson, and Rollins to Evander Holyfield. He said Tyson was in “god mode” but Holyfield just seemed to have his number, and he thinks Rollins might have the same advantage over Reigns.
-Damian Priest was shown backstage. He said he faces the best of the best on Raw, but in the Rumble match, he’ll see a lot of new faces. He suggested that his opponents will see the “Damien side,” and gave them the advice, “Don’t wake him up.”
-Kayla asked the panel for men’s Rumble winner picks. Lawler picked Omos, and said he’s so large that his shadow casts a shadow. Booker said that guys like Omos have a target on their backs for elimination. Peter mused on the potential final four wrestlers in the match, and threw out the names Montez Ford and Austin Theory, and went on to pick Theory to win. Kevin went with Randy Orton, and mentioned that he’s from St. Louis, the location of this year’s Royal Rumble. Kayla, no doubt through some contractual obligation, threw to a video of Johnny Knoxville on Jimmy Kimmel Live where he cracked jokes about being in the Royal Rumble while wearing a gold crown.
-The panel gave a rundown of the six matches on the main card. Finally, a Lashley vs. Lesnar video package was shown. Booker said they match up evenly and have similar collegiate backgrounds. Peter said that Booker has been in the ring with both, and asked what makes them different. He said that Lesnar was a young man when he faced him, but now, both men are grizzled veterans, and that he doesn’t see much difference. Lawler said he couldn’t wait for this match because he can’t predict a winner. Kevin then announced that Rollins vs. Reigns would be up next to begin the main card.
(Meyers’s Analysis: It’s strange to see a kickoff show with no matches. In the era of two Rumble matches, with each drawing entrants from NXT, other promotions, and other industries, it seems that the talent is spread too thin to include noteworthy preliminary matches as well.)
Find Mike Meyers on Twitter: @themikeshow42