Royal rumble recap

Edge is back, and Drew McIntyre is a star. Those are two takeaways from Sunday, Jan. 26’s strong Royal Rumble pay-per-view at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. Edge was the big surprise of the show, and based on the ending of Monday’s Raw looks to feud with old tag partner Randy Orton. But the big winner of the night was McIntyre. Not only did he eliminate Brock Lesnar (which, holy f-bomb moment in itself), he tossed out Roman Reigns last to win the whole match.

More on that in a bit, elsewhere on the show, Charlotte Flair won the women’s Rumble for what feels like the umpteenth time (even though we’ve only had two women’s Rumbles to date) to earn a Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania. The Man Becky Lynch retained her title by tapping out Asuka in vicious fashion, and Daniel Bryan was unable to topple The Fiend. The highlight of the night, though, was the Men’s Royal Rumble match itself — the best in years. A true return to form. Everyone who was expecting a repeat of years past was fairly surprised as the usual pitfalls of pushing stars we as an audience don’t particularly like seem to be avoided. Roman Reigns, company face and Vince McMahon’s personal superman action figure, lost; McIntyre won the match, and looks to be WWE’s next pet project. 

Brock Lesnar started the match at No. 1, a move that confused everyone when it was announced as he is the current World Heavyweight Champion. Brock “Full Time Pay for Part Time Appearance” Lesnar barely likes to work for five minutes and yet here he was in the squared circle for a good portion of the match. And as much as I hate to admit it, it was pretty freaking awesome. Elias, Erick Rowan, John Morrison, Keith Lee (what a big money match these two would have solo), Shelton Benjamin, Braun Strowman. All were tossed out by Lesnar, who ended up with 13 eliminations. Lesnar’s run would end with a combination of McIntyre and resident superhero Ricochet. As McIntyre entered the ring, he and Lesnar began squaring each other up. Lesnar began unstrapping his gloves, so you knew it was about to go DOWN. Alas, Ricochet hit a not-so-superheroic low blow to Lesnar from the behind and McIntyre eliminated The Beast with a Claymore Kick. The crowd went insane. Even though Brock did well that night, general consensus is still in the negative when it comes to Lesnar.

That’s not the last time the crowd went wild, because the 21st entrant was Edge, the Rated R Superstar, returning from retirement with a clean bill of health from doctors after undergoing two level spinal fusion of the discs between his C5, C6 and C7 vertebrae. Translation, Edge is hard as nails and spinal stenosis, the injury he suffered from, couldn’t stop the absolute madman from coming home and popping the crowd for the next couple of days. The absolute high that everyone who witnessed his return lasted for an entire week. He didn’t win the match, and was eliminated second to last by Roman Reigns. (The crowd, as you would imagine, wasn’t stoked about that.) He looked to be in great shape. Before his elimination, he ejected Randy Orton from the match. Raw on Monday ended with Orton demolishing Edge with a one-man Conchairto, so Orton appears to be Edge’s return opponent. Whether that match will take place at WrestleMania or before is unclear. But wow, from retiring nearly ten years ago and fans coming to terms with one of the greatest will never step foot in a ring to compete again to hearing his trademark entrance music Metalingus was a sharp turn that everybody got chills over. 

 The final two were Reigns and McIntyre. Reigns shot for a huge spear, but was cut off by a Claymore Kick and tossed over. The arena’s top blew off as everyone watching along saw Roman’s two feet hit the ground. The emotion was present on McIntyre’s face as he cemented his position at WrestleMania in April. The night ended in cheers as the big guy stood up on the turnbuckle and did the trademark point at the WrestleMania sign.

Tony Tann