Saturday, January 30, 2021

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (2020)

The 2020 Royal Rumble served as the coronation of Drew McIntyre, over a decade after his WWE debut.  In that regard it was a success, if Drew as the top babyface is your cup of tea.  I was underwhelmed.....

The show kicked off with an overlong bells & whistles brawl between Roman Reigns and Baron Corbin. This pairing has never done anything for me and this was no different. They fought in the ring for several minutes and then brawled all around the stadium; since it’s such a big venue this undoubtedly helped bloat the running time. Near the end of the match Roman locked Corbin in a porto-crapper and tipped it over. Uhhh, okay. Then both guys ended up on top of a dugout, where Reigns finished him with the punch/spear combo. At least the finish was fun. This didn’t need more than 15 minutes but it got 21. Shane vs. Miz at Mania 35 was more entertaining. 

The women’s Rumble was shockingly early in the lineup. This was definitely better than 2019’s women’s Rumble but not a great one, and the wrong woman won.  This should've been Shayna Baszler's big moment given her buildup the previous few months.  On the plus side though, Shayna was booked like a monster for her four minutes, and Bianca Belair looked like a huge star in her 33-minute run. Each woman tossed out 8. Other than that we got a helluva run from Beth Phoenix, who withstood a bad cut on the back of her head and made it to the final three after tossing out her bestie Natalya (payback for 2018), and a lot of overly quick eliminations of NXT stars.  It came down to Shayna vs. Charlotte, and rather than go the logical route set up at Survivor Series they had Charlotte head scissor Shayna over the ropes to win. Charlotte would go on to challenge Rhea Ripley for the NXT Title, a match I was really excited about until Charlotte got to beat her, thus derailing Ripley's monster push.  Well done, guys.  This Rumble was fine but I didn’t like the result at all, and history agrees with me.

Participants: Alexa Bliss, Bianca Belair, Mighty Molly, Nikki Cross, Lana, Mercedes Martinez, Liv Morgan, Mandy Rose, Candice LaRae, Sonya Deville, Kairi Sane, Mia Yim, Dana Brooke, Tamina, Dakota Kai, Chelsea Green, Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Beth Phoenix, Toni Storm, Kelly Kelly, Sarah Logan, Natalya, Xia Li, Zelina Vega, Shotzi Blackheart, Carmella, Tegan Nox, Santina Marella, Shayna Baszler
Final Four: Charlotte Flair, Shayna Baszler, Beth Phoenix, Natalya
Long Man: Bianca Belair (35:29)

Friday, January 29, 2021

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (2019)

Well it wasn't the blow-away event it looked to be on paper, but the 2019 Royal Rumble was a fine show with a slew of very good matches and nothing bad.  Hard to complain about that.  Even the pre-show stuff was solid (Check out the blistering Cruiserweight 4-Way especially).

The 2019 Rumble was all about building the two big babyface WrestleMania challengers (who both ended up winning and subsequently started dating, becoming WWE's new power couple).

The show kicked off with a pretty great Asuka-Becky Lynch bout that was rock solid technically and built to a series of traded submission attempts.  After a brutal-looking Asuka cradle neckbreaker off the apron to the floor, Asuka and Becky made their way back into the ring for a climactic stretch where both women attempted to tap the other with her own finisher.  Finally Asuka scored an Asuka lock, and turned it into a Cattle Mutilation-esque variation by bridging on top of Becky for the tapout win.  This match was probably my favorite on the show.  Excellent stuff that made Asuka look really strong but showed Becky could keep up.  I was quite sure we hadn't seen the last of Becky.  Asuka was unfortunately depushed like crazy after this, and took most of the year to recover as they finally built up a rematch.

Next up was the one match I didn't care about, The Bar vs. Shane & Miz.  But this was fun.  Cesaro and Sheamus worked a stiff match as usual, Miz stayed away from most of it, and Shane took some good spots while dishing out a few of his own.  I still have a problem with the near 50-year-old non-wrestler Shane going toe-to-toe with actual wrestlers, but he made it entertaining at least.  The spot of the match was Shane going for a coast-to-coast on both Bar members only for Cesaro to stand up and catch him for a Giant Swing - very cool counter.  Finally Miz hit Cesaro with the Skull Crushing Finale and Shane landed a shooting star press to win the belts.  This title win was designed to build to a Shane-Miz feud, which ended up being horrible and made Miz look like a total geek when he couldn't ever beat his 48-year-old non-wrestler rival.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (2018)

And we're almost done with our historical Rumble journey....

Wells Fargo Center - 1.28.18

2018 kicked off with a helluva good PPV, as WWE continued its rediscovery of how to put on a fun Royal Rumble.  TWO in fact.  For a while there the Rumble had become one of my least favorite events on their calendar, but by 2018 it had fully returned to form, with one of the best examples of the gimmick, plus an historic first women's edition.  There was nary a bad match on the main card, both Rumbles delivered, there were memorable moments abound, lots of fun surprise entrants, a clear direction for WrestleMania, and a monumental debut to end the show.  Hard to ask much more of a Rumble PPV.

First up, oddly, was the WWE Title match.  AJ Styles defended against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, in a crisply worked 16-minute match.  Nothing spectacular here, but the three of them worked well together and AJ even got to bust out his moonsault-reverse DDT combo (the first WWE instance of this move I remember seeing).  Styles retained after countering an Owens pop-up powerbomb into a roll-up, but Owens and Zayn protested since Owens technically hadn't tagged into the match.  Solid opener.

Next was the Smackdown Tag Title match (SD kinda got shafted with this lineup; both of their bouts went on first), as The Usos defended against Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin.  Energetic, fast-paced and well-booked, with a shocking two straight falls for Jimmy and Jey, this was a fine undercard match.  I liked that the first fall was long and the second fall was surprisingly short - it was realistic and defied the typical structure for a 2/3 Falls match.

The men's Royal Rumble was third out of six, which was pretty baffling until the end of the show when it was made clear why.  I daresay this was the best Rumble match since 2004.  The booking of this match was predictable in a good way; everyone who should've gotten to shine did.  The final five ended up being the five most plausible winners.  Finn Balor entered at number 2 and made the final four, having lasted 57+ minutes.  And of course Shinsuke Nakamura got his WWE career-defining moment by outlasting both John Cena and Roman Reigns to win the whole thing (after 44 minutes of in-ring time).   This is how you book a Royal Rumble match in 2018.  Other notes: The returning Rey Mysterio looked better than he had in ten years, Andrade Almas and Adam Cole both had good showings and it was great to see the NXT guests not geeked out on the main roster for a change (Almas's main roster career is another matter unfortunately).  Anyway, this was a fantastic Rumble match that ranks up there with the 1992 and 2004 editions.  WWE's follow-up on Nak's big moment of course sucked, as he failed to dethrone AJ Styles for the title at four consecutive shows, two of those matches going to a draw.  But for one night it looked like Nak was poised to break the glass ceiling.

Participants: Rusev, Finn Balor, Rhyno, Baron Corbin, Heath Slater, Elias, Andrade Almas, Bray Wyatt, Big E, Sami Zayn, Sheamus, Xavier Woods, Apollo Crews, Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro, Kofi Kingston, Jinder Mahal, Seth Rollins, Matt Hardy, John Cena, The Hurricane, Aiden English, Adam Cole, Randy Orton, Titus O'Neil, The Miz, Rey Mysterio, Roman Reigns, Goldust, Dolph Ziggler
Final Four: Shinsuke Nakamura, Roman Reigns, John Cena, Finn Balor
Long Man: Finn Balor (57:30)

The match given the unenviable post-Rumble spot was Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan vs. The Bar.  This was easily the weakest match on the show and since Jason Jordan was injured and still hasn't returned, the whole angle was pointless, but this was inoffensive.  And The Bar regained the straps as they should have.  So no complaints there.

WWE Royal Rumble 2021 Preview & Predictions

It's late January and that means it's time for another WWE Royal Rumble.  And the 2021 edition of the company's second-biggest PPV looks like......a show.

This Sunday is the real test of my WWE boycott.  In years past, even when I've skipped most of the WWE PPV calendar, the Rumble and WrestleMania were the ones I'd come back for.  Still not sure if that will happen in 2021 or not.  My son seems interested in watching, so I might pony up the ten bucks just for his sake.  But on paper this looks like yet another totally skippable show.  Two Rumble matches with only about half the field announced (remember when the company actually planned this stuff out ahead of time?), one solid title match, one that looks like the drizzling shits, and a women's tag match.  That's what we have so far.

Women's Tag Team Championship: Asuka & Charlotte Flair vs. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax

They need to send Nia back to developmental - she keeps hurting or coming dangerously close to hurting her opponents.  This is unsustainable.  She's been on the main roster four years now, she should be a solid pro by this point.  Anyway there's enough strong talent here to make this a good match.  I assume this Asuka/Charlotte thing is temporary and we'll see them fight again.  And hopefully this time Asuka actually gets to win.  But for now I see the heels taking back the belts.

Pick: ShayNia Jaxler

WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre vs. Goldberg

Fuck this company for trotting the 54-year-old WCW guy out for the thousandth time instead of building up a real WWE Title challenger (Was Keith Lee busy?).  Goldberg beating Bray Wyatt last year was the final straw for me as a WWE fan, and now they're going back to that well again.  Like, there's no way they're feeding Drew to him, right?  I know they built up The Fiend as an unbeatable monster for six months before killing his push dead, but with Drew it's been a full year.  I sincerely hope this is just to give Drew more credibility by decisively beating the old spear/jackhammer guy.  There's also the possibility that The Miz tries to cash in again.  Seriously, get rid of the Money in the Bank gimmick, it's so worn out and tiresome now.  

Pick: Drew retains.  He better fuckin' retain.  I swear to god if he doesn't retain....

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (2017)

WWE returns to the Alamodome after 20 years and delivers another strong showing....

The 2017 Rumble (the first to be a four-hour show) and its main event took a lot of flak at the time, mostly due to the booking which was admittedly pretty unexciting.  No one new was positioned to be "made" with this match; it centered around the "safe" choices and we didn't get the expected Samoa Joe debut or a Kurt Angle return.  However we did get a very unpredictable Rumble with a larger field of potential winners than we'd had in a very long time.  There were easily ten or so guys who could reasonably have walked away with the WrestleMania title shot, and that's nothing to sneeze at.  Aside from that, the Rumble match had a couple little surprises, like Tye Dillinger entering at #10 and Jack Gallagher making the most hilarious use of an umbrella I've ever seen.  Other highlights were Jericho as the long man once again (lasting just over an hour), Braun Strowman pulling a 1994 Diesel and killing a buncha guys before being eliminated, Goldberg besting Brock Lesnar for the second time, and Roman Reigns eliminating The Undertaker and setting up their WrestleMania match.  This Rumble match was not unlike the 2001 version in some ways - the surprise entrants were minor but the match had a good amount of star power and primarily served to reinforce the established names.  The real issue with this Rumble match, as is often the case with WWE, was the follow-up.  Randy Orton won the match, turned on his supposed friend (and by this time WWE Champion) Bray Wyatt, and proceeded to have the worst feud of 2017 (if not his whole career).   I had few gripes about this Rumble match itself - it was fine in a vacuum.  It unfortunately led directly to a road of shit.

But what really made this show stand out was the undercard.  I say without hesitation this was the finest Rumble undercard WWE has ever produced.  Two stellar Title matches and two solid title matches, with not one stinker on the entire PPV.  One can't really ask for more than that out of a Royal Rumble undercard, which generally trends toward uneven at best.

The Women's Title match opened the show and this was the absolute right move to get the San Antonio crowd invested.  Charlotte vs. Bayley felt like the first match in a series, and they got a respectable 13 minutes to tell a story.  This match didn't blow the doors off the place but it wasn't designed to - it felt just about right for its place on the card, and the finish was novel if sudden - Charlotte nailed Natural Selection on the ring apron before rolling Bayley away from the ropes and scoring the pin.  Good opener.

Next up was the first of two monster Title bouts, as Kevin Owens defended against Roman Reigns in a No DQ match with Chris Jericho in a shark cage above the ring.  Unlike their lackluster Roadblock match the month before, this was an energetic, wild brawl that made great use of tables and chairs (though Jericho got less on-camera time for comedy than I was hoping for).  After multiple table powerbomb spots, Reigns seemed a lock to win the Universal Title when Braun Strowman appeared and decimated the unpopular Samoan, allowing Owens a cheap win and leading to a months-long feud between them.  This was a fun bells & whistles kinda match.

The weakest match of the night, by default, was the Rich Swann-Neville Cruiserweight Title match.  But there was nothing wrong here, other than the fact that the audience still didn't care at all about these Cruisers.  Neville captured the Title in 14 minutes with The Rings of Saturn and went on to have easily the best title reign to date of this version of the Cruiserweight division before leaving the company several months later.

The show stealer, as expected, was AJ Styles vs. John Cena for the WWE Title.  Goddamn this was great.  AJ and Cena delivered a strong showing at 2016's Money in the Bank and an insane spotfest at Summerslam, and tonally this match fell somewhere in the middle.  There was more storytelling here than at Summerslam but the traded finishers and kickouts were still prevalent.  Cena finally avenged his two losses to tie Ric Flair's 16-time Championship record, but Styles was kept looking really strong in defeat, kicking out of multiple AAs and only falling to a double AA.  This ranks right up there with the best Rumble undercard matches in history.

So I had almost no complaints about this show as a standalone PPV.  Every match was good or great, the crowd was hot, the Rumble was unpredictable.  Aside from the mostly terrible aftermath of this show there was little to find fault with.  A pretty great Rumble PPV.

Best Match: AJ Styles vs. John Cena
Worst Match: Rich Swann vs. Neville
What I'd Change: I'd have debuted Samoa Joe and had him murder a buncha guys in the Rumble
Most Disappointing Match: I wouldn't say anything was really disappointing
Most Pleasant Surprise: That the Rumble winner was under 40
Overall Rating: 9/10

Thanks for reading - subscribe to our mailing list, and follow us on Twitter, MeWe, Facebook and YouTube!


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (2016)

2016 - Roman Reigns is struggling to get over, so the company crowns a hot young new champion.....who is 46 years old....

Royal Rumble - Amway Center - 1.24.16

In another case of low expectations paying off, I really enjoyed Royal Rumble 2016.  For the first time in close to a decade WWE presented a Rumble card that had nary a bad match, plus a very fun Rumble match that felt like it shook things up a bit.  The main event scene heading into WrestleMania 32 may have been the drizzling shits but starting here the undercard began to take a more interesting shape, thanks in part to a huge new addition to the roster.

The opening match on this card stole the show, as hated rivals Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens squared off in a Last Man Standing match for the I-C Championship.  It's well-documented that I'm usually not too fond of the LSM stipulation, but these guys a) didn't waste much time on near-falls (or near-counts?) and b) worked in some clever spots (like Owens rolling out of the ring at the last second and landing on his feet to keep the match going).  They got a solid 20 minutes to create a really strong fight and told a great story of two guys who really despised each other.  Damn good stuff there.

These two know how to stage a fight

The New Day-Usos Tag Title bout was next, and while I was sick of seeing these two teams fight each other, it was a solid outing - well-worked and energetic, and The New Day retained to keep their historic Title run going.

The Kalisto-Alberto Del Rio US Title match was a fun little underdog story; Kalisto had beaten Del Rio for the belt the previous week only to lose it back a day later (I hate when they do that), but he managed to wrest the championship back on this show in a solid eleven-minute bout.  Del Rio would go back to being booked alongside his League of Nations pals before exiting the company again several months later.

Next up was the Divas Championship, which again was a well-worked little match.  Charlotte defended against Becky Lynch in a match nowhere near as good as these two were capable of, but still light-years better than anything since the Trish Stratus era.  2016 would see a major upturn for the main roster women, and this was a pretty good start.  The finish was silly but I actually kinda liked it.  Becky snared Charlotte in the Dis-Arm-Her, but Ric Flair tossed his jacket over Becky's head, distracting her long enough for Charlotte to hit a match-ending spear.  The post-match angle got my engine all revved up, as Sasha Banks stepped up and challenged Charlotte, rekindling their feud from NXT and beginning a main roster rivalry that would last the whole calendar year.

Now for the Rumble match, where WWE Champion Roman Reigns entered at #1 and needed to outlast all 29 opponents in order to retain.  I can't overstate how refreshing it was for the Rumble to be fun to watch again.  After five straight Rumble matches either devoid of star power or full of confounding booking decisions, it felt so good to see multiple people get time to shine, multiple stories play out, and an ending that (while I had reservations about it) made sense on some level.

This moment is STILL surreal for me

The big story for me was of course the debut of AJ Styles.  Seeing Styles in a WWE ring was absolutely surreal.  When he entered at #3 I feared the worst - a three-minute cameo followed by a dump-out at the hands of Reigns.  But AJ got nearly thirty minutes and got to eliminate some guys before being tossed out by Kevin Owens, and the Orlando crowd LOVED him.  Not a bad debut for one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the world.  Thus began one of the best years of AJ's legendary career, and a hugely successful WWE tenure.

The other stories included Brock Lesnar vs. The Wyatts, which was meant to lead to Brock vs. Bray at 'Mania before that plan was scrapped, and the surprise return of Sami Zayn, who eliminated Kevin Owens and kicked off the next chapter of their amazing feud.

Finally we had the match-ending storyline, where Triple H somewhat predictably entered at #30, out for revenge against Roman Reigns.  And the crowd was almost entirely on Hunter's side.  That's not so good for Reigns' prospects as a top babyface.  Also not good for Reigns' fan support was taking Reigns out of the match for half of it - surely he would've looked stronger and more sympathetic if he'd lasted the full hour only for Hunter to swoop in and steal it.  Instead an injured Reigns WALKED to the back, sat out of the match for thirty minutes, and then came back toward the end.  Hunter tossed Reigns out and then turned his attention to the other finalist, Dean Ambrose, for whom the crowd erupted when he nearly won.  Once again a Rumble match clearly demonstrated the disconnect between WWE and its fans when it came to Roman Reigns.

Participants: Roman Reigns, Rusev, AJ Styles, Tyler Breeze, Curtis Axel, Chris Jericho, Kane, Goldust, Ryback, Kofi Kingston, Titus O'Neil, R-Truth, Luke Harper, Stardust, Big Show, Neville, Braun Strowman, Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn, Erick Rowan, Mark Henry, Brock Lesnar, Jack Swagger, The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, Bray Wyatt, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, Triple H
Final Four: Triple H, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Sheamus
Long Man: Roman Reigns (59:48)

Sorry, did I wander into the year 2000 by mistake?

The 'Mania main event was of course the lukewarm-at-best Triple H vs. Roman Reigns match, which went on too long and ended with Reigns predictably regaining the WWE Title, to the delight of no one in attendance.  Whatever....

This Royal Rumble made me considerably more optimistic and intrigued for WrestleMania season, in and of itself a major improvement over Royal Rumble 2015.  And it was a damn enjoyable night of wrestling to boot.

Best Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens
Worst Match: Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto, by default
What I'd Change: I would've called an audible and had Ambrose win the belt, then had Reigns turn on him and challenge him at WrestleMania
Most Disappointing Match: Nothing really
Most Pleasant Surprise: That I actually enjoyed a Royal Rumble card again
Overall Rating: 7.5/10
Better than WrestleMania 32, Summerslam '16 and Survivor Series 2016? - Probably, about even, and no.

Thanks for reading - subscribe to our mailing list, and follow us on Twitter, MeWe, Facebook and YouTube!


NJPW New Beginning 2021 Preview & Predictions UPDATED

Welcome to another round of NJPW PPV Predictions, here at!

After a pretty fantastic two-night Tokyo Dome extravaganza, New Japan is back with the annual follow-up, the New Beginning tour.  We have some new champions defending their titles for the first time, we have a couple of grudge matches pitting legendary veterans against upstart heels, we have an epic G1 rematch, and then a bunch of multi-man tag bouts.  As always, I'll only be predicting the really important matches on this tour, so let's get started....  


Great O-Khan vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan

After going 0 for 3 at the Dome, The Empire stable is looking to redeem themselves in a pair of matches against Tencozy.  First up we'll see the young monster heel O-Khan facing the veteran bruiser Tenzan, in a match where the loser can never again use the Mongolian Chop.  I assume this rather antiquated stip is meant to serve as a passing of the torch.  Although, O-Khan relies on the Mongolian Chop so heavily he'd probably be better off never using it again.  But he shouldn't lose here.  Give the young guy the win.

Pick: O-Khan

No Disqualification: Will Ospreay vs. Satoshi Kojima

Much more promising is this bout, with the magnificent Will Ospreay facing the scrappy Kojima in a no disqualification fight.  This will be Ospreay's first prominent singles win since his heel turn, and should get him back on track as a rising villain.  I expect he'll have a strong showing in the New Japan Cup, perhaps even win the whole thing.  A decisive win here will get the ball rolling.

Pick: Ospreay

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (2015)

For the second year in a row the wrong guy wins the Rumble match, and WWE eats a plateful of shit...

Royal Rumble - First Union Center - 1.25.15

For the second straight year Vince McMahon's stubborn tone-deafness backfired on him at the Royal Rumble.  The egregiousness of the booking was even worse than 2014's Rumble, and here's why: at least in 2014 an argument could be made that WWE didn't realize how badly Batista's comeback and Rumble win would be received.  I mean, those of us with the capacity for logical thought knew Batista's return wasn't going to galvanize the fanbase like Vince hoped, and that 2014 was clearly Daniel Bryan's time.  But WWE realized they'd made a mistake and worked diligently to correct it, and eventually we got the WrestleMania we deserved.  But WWE learned nothing from this fiasco apparently, as you'll see.

Before I go on any further about this turd of a Rumble match, let's recap the undercard.

The Ascension experiment fell on its face out of the gate, as the fans didn't buy these two generic-looking Indie-style midcarders as the second coming of the Road Warriors.  But no matter, they still got a decisive win over The New Age Outlaws.  This stunk.  Moving on.

Another tag match followed, this one a WWE Tag Title match between The Usos and Team Mizdow.  Not bad but not much more than a run-of-the-mill RAW match.

Third time's the charm?  Not so much.  The Bella Twins faced Paige & Natalya in the third consecutive tag match on this show, and while probably the best bout so far, this also wasn't much to tell the grandkids about.

Amazingly, a memorable and awesome match broke out in the semi-main slot, as WWE Champ Brock Lesnar defended against John Cena and Seth Rollins.  Man, what a stunningly worked match.  All three guys wrestled like this was the main event of WrestleMania, packing the bout with non-stop action, near-falls, and high spots.  Lesnar dominated early with German suplexes galore (including a double GS on Rollins flunkies Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) before being put through a table by Rollins mid-match.  Rollins would then turn in a career performance, nearly defeating John Cena for the Title if not for Lesnar's third-act comeback.  Lesnar finally finished off Rollins by countering a Curb Stomp with an F5, retaining the Title and capping off his best match since SummerSlam 2013.  One of the best Triple Threats I've ever seen.

Had the Rumble match been anywhere near as good as the three-way this PPV would've been saved.  Alas it wasn't good.  At all.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (2014)

Vince McMahon's tone-deaf booking bites him in the ass, and one of his top stars abruptly ends his career....

Royal Rumble 2014 - Consol Energy Center - 1.26.14

The 2014 Rumble PPV is a show that could've been remembered as one of the great ones had they just changed the final ten minutes.  WWE had a great story to tell but in their infinite wisdom they simply opted not to tell it, that is until their audience demanded it.  That story was of course The Journey of Daniel Bryan, who had been held down for months by The Authority and repeatedly screwed out of the WWE Title.  It seemed inevitable that Bryan was to win the 2014 Rumble and challenge for the belt at WrestleMania 30.  But instead the out-of-touch Vince McMahon insisted on bringing back Dave Batista as a surrogate for the unavailable Rock (In what universe is Batista a suitable early-2014 replacement for The Rock, in terms of broad mainstream appeal?).  Big Dave was instantly pushed to the moon and slated for a 'Mania showdown with Randy Orton, but there was just one problem - no one wanted to see that.  No one.

More on that in a minute, but first let's discuss the excellent show opener.  Daniel Bryan had been feuding with The Wyatt Family for three months, and said feud included a brief and totally illogical heel turn by Bryan, who joined the Wyatts for two weeks.  This was intended to last longer, but the fans rejected it wholeheartedly, not at all wanting to boo Bryan.  Bryan would then reveal the whole thing as a ruse and get a measure of satisfaction by singlehandedly beating the crap out of all three Wyatt members.  This feud was seemingly over at this point, and logically Bryan would've moved on and refocused on the Championship.  Instead though, the company booked him for a singles match against Bray.  To be fair, this was one helluva match.  Intense, hard-hitting, and full of nice spots.  Bryan brought his A-game as usual, and Wyatt proved he could work a strong main event-level match.  Wyatt got the win, which again made little sense - as the blowoff to this kind of feud the rising babyface should generally emerge victorious.

Daniel Bryan delivers Sister Kick-in-face

Next up was the return of Brock Lesnar after a five-month layoff.  I know I'm not alone in this opinion, but WWE's handling of Lesnar over the past three years has been abysmal.  They bring back this massive PPV draw, job him out to Cena in his first match, have him fight Triple H exclusively for his next three matches (none of which were very good), book him in a spectacular one-off match with CM Punk, and then for this Rumble book him opposite The Big Show, with whom his previous matches were middling at best.  So out of six matches Lesnar only had two first-time opponents, and twice fought guys he already feuded with in 2003.  What sense does that make?  Wouldn't you want to book him against as many new opponents as possible to get a dozen or so dream matches out of his limited schedule?

This match consisted of Lesnar attacking Show with a chair for ten minutes and then finishing him off in two minutes of official match time.  Utterly pointless.

Lesnar would of course go on to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania (another guy he already fought in 2003), destroy John Cena for the WWE Title at SummerSlam, lose to Cena by DQ at Night of Champions, and disappear with the Championship for four months.   Meanwhile several very intriguing matchups have been left on the table - Lesnar vs. Batista, Lesnar vs. Sheamus, Lesnar vs. Bryan (granted that one was planned but fell through due to Bryan's injury).  As a huge Brock Lesnar fan I was pretty disgusted with how unimaginatively he was used for a few years there.  It almost seems like WWE went out of their way NOT to make money with him.

Okay, tirade over.

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (2013)

It's a Punk-Rock Rumble!

Royal Rumble 2013 - US Airways Center - 1.27.13

Speaking of The Rock showing up, the 2013 edition was mostly built around his in-ring return which was announced months earlier when he declared himself the #1 Contender for the WWE Title.  Yeah, he just showed up on RAW the previous summer to announce that he'd be challenging the WWE Champion at the Rumble.  Not sure how that works, where a wrestler can call his shots just cuz he's more famous than the others.  Anyway this Rumble was light years better than the 2012 edition, featuring a solid undercard and a decent Rumble match.

Up first once again was the World Title match (In what universe does a World Championship earn prestige by always going on first?) between Alberto Del Rio - fresh off a horribly ill-conceived babyface turn - and The Big Show.  This Last Man Standing match was decent, but the company's desperation in finding a Hispanic star to take up Rey Mysterio's mantle was showing.  Del Rio was and is completely unsuited to playing a heroic character.  He got over as a heel by acting better than everyone else.

Next was a strong Tag Title match as Champions Team Hell No faced The Rhodes Scholars.  This was at the height of Daniel Bryan and Kane's chemistry as unlikely partners, and they had a fine match with Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow.

It's like Superman vs. The Thing

Monday, January 25, 2021

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (2012)

The 2012 Rumble was notable for one solid match and the final ten minutes.....

Royal Rumble 2012 - Scottrade Center - 1.29.12

What a phoned-in show this was.  Considering the company had two excellent World Champions in January 2012 they sure put on a shoddy Rumble PPV.  An undercard with only one really good match (which was underwhelming), and a Rumble match featuring one of the worst lineups in history.  Let's examine this turd.  God, even the poster for it sucks.

The show opened, as so many PPVs of the time did, with the World Title match.  New Champion and smarmy dickish heel Daniel Bryan defended in a steel cage against two of the biggest men on the roster, Mark Henry and The Big Show.  The match told a good story and much of it consisted of Bryan using any weasely tactic possible to evade a toe-to-toe fight.  But at under ten minutes and with two massive opponents Bryan was hardly put in a show-stealing position.  This was okay, and the right guy won.

The obligatory Divas match was next as Beth Phoenix and Natalya (dubbed The Divas of Doom) teamed with the Bella twins against Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Alicia Fox and Tamina Snuka.  The DoD were the primary focus of the division at this point and seemed poised for a good heel run which would lead to a Beth vs. Natalya match at WrestleMania.  Alas none of that came to fruition and Natalya was saddled with an "uncontrollable gas" gimmick (who wouldn't get over with that?) while Beth got the privilege of being pinned cleanly by talk show host Maria Menounos at 'Mania 28.  Lovely.  This match was what it was, i.e. five minutes of "meh."

Parents' Night In #52: The Gold Rush (1925), Charlie Chaplin's Masterpiece

Happy 2021 everybody!  Justin & Kelly are back to watch and review The Gold Rush, Charlie Chaplin's 1925 silent classic about a prospector trying to make his way in the frozen Yukon!  We'll discuss Chaplin's genius, his perfectionism, his many romantic liasons, and of course the arduous production of this film.  Oh, and we're starting a dry January, so this episode will be the first PNI ever to not feature booze.  Weird.  So join us for some wintery fun as we marvel at the comedic mastery of Charlie Chaplin!


Snippet of The Gold Rush score written by Charles Chaplin. 

Parody lyrics: 
Welcome to Parents' Night In 
Come have a seat 
Our show is Parents' Night In 
And it's a treat 

Our names are Kelly and Justin 
And we are your gracious hosts 

So please join us on YouTube 
And become a subscriber 
To our show which is Parents' Night In: Boozy Movie Reviews 

Subscribe to our channel to stay updated on future episodes, and don't forget to visit, follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook

You can also listen to a podcast version of this episode at:


Disclaimer- Some contents are used for educational purpose under fair use. Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (2011)

The Rumble match expands to 40 participants, while the undercard delivers strongly....

Royal Rumble 2011 - TD Garden - 1/31/11

I'd call this show one of the better Rumble PPVs of the last ten years.  It was a streamlined four matches and helped elevate a handful of new stars.  Though with one change this PPV could've been off-the-charts awesome.

The opener was an epic World Title match between Edge and Dolph Ziggler.  This was Ziggler's first PPV Title match and he and Edge were given plenty of time to breathe and tell a good story.
Smackdown GM Vickie Guerrero added the stipulation that if Edge used the Spear he would lose the Title, which added an intriguing wrinkle.  After 20+ minutes of action Edge retained.

The second Championship match pitted WWE Champ The Miz against former Champion Randy Orton.  This was a fine Title match, but as with 1998 and 2002 it was a wasted opportunity to elevate a rising babyface.  John Morrison had won a Ladder Match in December for a shot at the WWE Title.  Morrison and Miz had a built-in history as former tag partners, and booking them at The Rumble seemed a no-brainer.  Instead though, that match happened for free on RAW, and was easily the best match of early 2011.  They should've included Miz-Morrison on this PPV exactly as it occurred, especially since Randy Orton would be in the Rumble match anyway.  Regardless, Miz-Orton was still good.

Yeah Punk with the assist!

The one throwaway was a four-way Divas Title match - Natalya vs. Layla vs. Michelle McCool vs. Eve Torres.  The feud here was Nattie vs. LayCool, so Eve's inclusion and eventual Title win was pretty nonsensical.  Whatever.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The History of WWE Royal Rumble (2010)

A fun show with a strong Rumble match and a surprise return.....

Royal Rumble 2010 - Philips Arena - 1/31/10

This show wasn't a classic either, but I found it a lot more fun than the 2009 edition.  Some new stars were being showcased, the World Title bouts were both first-time matchups, and the Rumble itself had a much greater sense of urgency.

Kicking things off was another ECW Title match (I believe the last one ever held on PPV) between Christian and Ezekiel Jackson.  Nothing special going on here but it was watchable.

A "bonus" match was next as The Miz defended the US Title against MVP.  Again, inoffensive, easily digestible, and you've forgotten it ten minutes later.  Like a Big Mac when you're drunk.

New WWE Champion Sheamus was third as he faced the technically-still-a-heel-but-slowly-turning-babyface Randy Orton.  These two had never wrestled before so this was novel.  They didn't have the best chemistry in the world, but later in 2010 they'd go on to have a splendid Hell in a Cell match.  This was fine except for the DQ ending accidentally caused by Orton's Legacy buddies.

A total throwaway was next as Women's Champion Michelle McCool faced Mickie James.  Their feud centered around McCool and Layla (a fantastic heel duo called LayCool) repeatedly taunting Mickie for supposedly being overweight.  She's not.  Not at all.  But Vince does seem to enjoy petty bullying.  Anyway this could've been a solid match but it was over in 20 seconds.  Vince also enjoys pointless surprise instant Title changes.  Just ask Daniel Bryan.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The 2020 Pro Wrestling Year-End Awards

Welcome to the 7th Annual Pro Wrestling Year-End Awards, here at, where I celebrate the highs (and lows) of the year that was, inside the squared circle!

Here's an understatement for you: 2020 was a weird year.  A global pandemic changed a lot of big plans for everyone, and the wrestling industry was most certainly not immune (no pun intended).  For the first time ever, holding wrestling shows without an audience became commonplace, and not only did every company take a major financial hit from the loss of ticket sales, but the wrestlers between the ropes were forced to reckon with the lack of crowd noise.  It really made everyone realize how vital an energized crowd is to the creative success of a wrestling match.  Some companies adjusted better than others.  Some came up with convoluted high-concept technological solutions and passed them off as revolutionary (You know who you are, Vince).  Some companies are located in countries that actually took the pandemic seriously and thus were able to let fans back in much sooner.  Regardless, 2020 threw all sorts of wrenches into everyone's plans.  But that doesn't mean we didn't get some fine wrestling along the way, and that's why we're here talking awards.

Before I hand out pretend trophies though, there's one major change to my wrestling viewing habits I'd like to discuss.  In April of 2020 I walked away from WWE, after 34 years as a fan.  Just take a moment to let that fact sink in.  I've been watching this wrasslin' stuff since 1986.  And while the WWF/WWE, historically my favorite wrestling company for most of that time, has had its numerous highs and lows, I stuck with them through all of it, at least on some level.  During the Monday Night War I was Team WWF through and through; never once did my loyalty to their product waver, even as they were getting their asses kicked in the ratings every week.  Starting in 2004 I fell off watching the weekly shows religiously and ordering every PPV, prompted by JBL's out-of-nowhere main event push.  Starting in 2005 I reduced my PPV orders to the Big Four.  With the advent of Netflix carrying WWE DVDs in 2006 I began waiting a month to rent most of the PPVs on disc rather than shelling out the $50 a pop to watch them live.  But when the WWE Network launched in 2014 I was all in.  I subscribed the first week and never looked back.  No matter how bad or nonsensical the weekly RAWs and Smackdowns became, I still watched every PPV event.  Even as NJPW became my new favorite wrestling promotion, spending $9.99 a month to watch every new WWE PPV (plus tons of nostalgic content) was a no-brainer.  So now consider just how unwatchably horrible the WWE product would have to become for me to decide after seven years as a subscriber that ten bucks a month was too much to spend.  I haven't watched a WWE show in ten months, and based on what I've been reading about them, I haven't regretted missing any of it.  It is a true indictment of Vince's cosmic ineptitude that someone like me, literally WWE's most loyal demographic, has completely lost interest in his product, at a time when he has probably the most talented roster ever assembled.  And now, given how great NJPW is and how much fun I have watching AEW, it would take a major creative and tonal shift for me to revisit WWE on a consistent basis.  I actually considered re-subscribing for one month just to watch the Royal Rumble, as it's always an enjoyable event.  And then they booked Drew vs. Goldberg as the main event.  Wow, Vince.  Way to clearly signal, "No thanks, fan of three-plus decades, I don't want you to resume giving me your money."  Such a business genius.  

Anyway, even despite all this, I've attempted to be impartial with these awards and give WWE their due when I feel they've earned it.  So here goes.....

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

NJPW WrestleKingdom 15 Night 2 Review

WrestleKingdom 15 Night 2 was on par with Night 1 overall, but less even-keel, mostly thanks to the opening match being subpar and the main event being a masterpiece.

Things started off with the King of Pro-Wrestling Championship 4-Way match, with the four winners of the Rumble squaring off.  This match was an inoffensive 7 minutes but could've been so much more had they included Ishii, Sho, Suzuki, or even one or two of the Young Lions.  Who wants to see Chase Owens or Bad Luck Fale in there?  I get Yano being involved since he's last year's champion, but once you add him the match is limited to a comedy spectacle.  Which is exactly what happened.  Owens and Fale ended up hitting the Grenade Launcher on Bushi, incapacitating him, but then couldn't agree on who would pin him.  Enter Yano with a double low blow to knock both heels down, and pin Bushi.  Yano is the new KOPW Champion for the time being.  Like I said, this was inoffensive.  *3/4

Up next was the Jr. Tag Team Title match, with Desperado & Kanemaru defending against new team Ryusuke Taguchi and Master Wato.  This match exceeded my rather low expectations; it wasn't amazing but it was an entertaining 13-minute match.  It started out pretty fast and furious, almost as a showcase for Wato, but Taguchi dominated the later parts.  The heels worked over Taguchi's leg and he got most of the babyface heat.  Taguchi handled Desperado for a while before Kanemaru distracted the ref, allowing Desperado to land a punch and hit Pinche Loco to retain the belts.  Seems odd to have this new babyface team come up short, but oh well.  The Jr. Tag division needs help.  ***

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

NJPW WrestleKingdom 15 Night 1 Review

Welcome to the two-part WrestleKingdom 15 review, here at!

Well, the 2021 Tokyo Dome show is in the books, and like last year's, this was a pretty excellent double album.  In a COVID world, sadly the crowd and time limitations kept WrestleKingdom 15 from fully giving you that epic PPV of the Year-type feeling, but I'll be damned if NJPW didn't work really hard to live up to previous editions.  What we got were two three-hour shows with very little fat on the bone and multiple ****+ matches on each night.  Hard to complain much about that, even if I do miss WrestleKingdom being the single-night blowout of years past.  But let's get to the Night 1 matches.

After the usual forgettable pre-show Rumble to decide the KOPW 4-way on Night 2 (they missed opportunities here to elevate one or two youngins), the PPV got down to business in earnest with Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Phantasmo to determine the number-one contender for Taiji Ishimori's Jr. Heavyweight Title.  Takahashi won the 2020 Best of the Super Juniors tourney, while ELP won the Super-J Cup.  These two had an excellent high-energy opener that saw ELP go all out to show off his prodigious athleticism, while Takahashi seemed to be conserving a little something for Night 2.  ELP paid homage to Bullet Club leaders of old, hitting a Styles Clash and nearly getting off a One-Winged Angel.  Ultimately though, Takahashi stole this match by countering ELP's finish with a Rey Mysterio hurricanrana trap.  A damn fine opener.  ****