Don’t worry…I’m still here! Royal Rumble Thoughts

So it’s been awhile, huh?

Yeah…life’s had me pretty busy the last few months, plus the fact that I haven’t really found a lot of inspiration to write for some time as well. However, that changed after watching the Royal Rumble Pay Per View Premium Live Event & because of it, I’m here!

So let’s get down to it. WWE hasn’t impressed me in quite some time and as I’ve argued with a couple friends lately, every time I decide to tune in and give them another shot, it’s the same crap that pushed me away in the first place: Brock Lesnar is the unbeatable monster who does what he wants, beats everyone else to the point that nobody else is interesting because the main event has been so dominated by him & Roman Reigns for the last couple of years that it seems that nobody else matters in the eyes of the writers, so everything else is just background noise that exists in it’s own bubble until someone else starts to get over, only to be smacked in the face and pushed back down the card again.

Case in point: Bobby Lashley. Lashley became US Champion, won the WWE Title and then lost it. Had a feud with Lesnar, which should have been great to watch, only Lesnar bulldozed him and he was done and pushed back down to the midcard once again. Or how about the other night, when they were celebrating the 30th anniversary of Monday Night Raw & the main event was set to be Bobby Lashley vs. Austin Theory for the US Title, and in the middle of the match, Brock shows up, lays both guys out and leaves.

Ten years ago, Brock Lesnar was interesting. He was fresh off a run in the UFC, where he won their Heavyweight Championship and his return to WWE was exciting! There was a very real sense of danger each time he made an appearance, but it’s now 10 years later and while they’re still playing up that sense of danger whenever he enters the arena, it’s just stale and as I’ve already explained, Brock’s inclusion in storylines with any of these current characters isn’t doing anyone any favors since nobody seems to come out of a feud with Brock Lesnar in a better position than they entered, and I’d even argue that they come out looking WORSE than they did when the feud began!

Anyways, I’m back to talk about last night’s Royal Rumble event. Far moreso though, I’m here to share some thoughts on the men’s Royal Rumble match, itself. This thing was for the most part, fabulously booked! My only real gripes about it were the “100% random” entrances with two guys who are feuding just so happening to be the first two in the match with Sheamus & Walter…or Gunther, if you prefer to call him that now. My mind still calls him Walter, so be warned that I’ll likely still be calling him that here.

But Walter was made a bonafide STAR last night, being the final elimination after starting the match well over an hour prior! He was right in the thick of things throughout the whole match! Other stars of that match were easily Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, Seth Rollins & of course, the winner, Cody Rhodes. The mid-air collision between Logan Paul & Ricochet was absolutely nuts, and for the first time in a VERY long time, even Braun Strowman had a good showing. This match even got me to moderately appreciate Dominic Mysterio for the sleaziness he showed throughout his run in the match. Even the commentary was different here. Anyone hear Michael Cole call Dominic Mysterio a “piece of shit”? Like for real…that went out over the air! Also, how about Pat McAfee telling us that this show was being presented on “The Cock…Peacock”…for real! I can’t imagine NBC/Universal being overly thrilled with that nickname being used live on the air!

But the real story here is FAR larger than just what we saw last night. The big story here is really Cody Rhodes’ ascension to the top. I mean here’s a guy who started out very green in WWE, first tagging with Hardcore Holly, became one of Randy Orton’s minions as part of Legacy, then became “Dashing” Cody Rhodes with his ridiculous mustache & constant looking at himself in the mirror, which naturally was followed with an injury to his face that forced him to wear a protective face mask & force members of the live audience to put bags over their heads as his own ushers handed out paper bags. From there, he started a tag team with his half brother, Dustin, then known as Goldust and eventually morphed his character to being an offshoot of Goldust, known as Stardust. When his career became stagnant and he saw the writing on the wall that all Vince saw in him was this midcard talent, he decided to bet on himself and asked for his release from WWE. After being granted his release, a list appeared on his twitter account, where he listed a number of independent talents he’d like to take on now that he was free from WWE.

He wrestled EVERYWHERE following the WWE exit, from New Japan to Ring of Honor, the NWA & Impact Wrestling while building a name for himself and creating a new persona. He wrestled at the All In pay per view, defeating Nick Aldis for the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship, making Cody and Dusty the first father/son tandem to accomplish the feat. Along the way, he also challenged for the Impact World Championship and also won the Ring of Honor World Championship. In short order, Cody became one of the hottest free agents on the independent scene and following the All In pay per view, along with the Young Bucks & Kenny Omega, Cody formed All Elite Wrestling with Tony Khan and was named an Executive Vice President of the new promotion. During his time in AEW, he was portrayed as a top level talent and was the company’s first TNT Champion, defeating Lance Archer in the finals of a tournament. Though Cody never won the AEW World Title, I believe that was a personal decision by him to not push himself to the top of the card since his matches were attractions, themselves, which didn’t necessarily need a World Title to draw money for the company.

In February of 2022, the shocking news came out that Cody & his wife, Brandi left AEW as they were unable to come to an agreement on a new contract, and just over a month later, it was reported that Cody had signed back on with WWE. I can remember my initial thoughts being of Vince asking Cody if he was ready to put the Stardust paint back on, however as he made his re-debut for the company as a mystery opponent for Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 38, where he came out dressed just as we had last seen him in AEW, complete with his AEW entrance music by Downstait!

Guys always wonder if the fans will remember them when they leave WWE for an extended period of time, but just as is usually the case, the WWE fans immediately popped HUGE for his return! Dusty’s youngest kid who had left the company a few years prior had come back a man who was far more confident in who he is and what he stands for. As he said during the post-PPV press conference, he doesn’t play a character, he is himself – and that’s a refreshing change from a lot of the current WWE stars. You could instantly see the change in the room the second Cody came and sat down at the table. While Rhea Ripley’s portion of the press conference centered around her winning the Womens’ Royal Rumble and her decision of who to face at WrestleMania, that’s very much storyline heavy, where it’s really the decision of creative as to which route they would like her character to go, the decision effectively isn’t in her hands. So she’s sitting there, spouting off storyline reasons why she might choose Charlotte Flair or Bianca Belair to face at WrestleMania, Cody on the other hand, comes in, sits down and thanks the media (many of whom he knows personally and can call by name from all the coverage he’s received over the years), his questions centered around much more the real circumstances of his returning to WWE and the changing of the head of creative — Vince McMahon vs. Triple H and he even said how professional it’s been with Triple H, talking about the shots he took at Triple H and WWE while he was out on the independent scene and in AEW, but at the end of the day, business is business, and here he is, being pushed to main event WrestleMania…a feat never accomplished by anyone in his family. I’ve said in the past that I’m a lapsed fan, and I still consider myself as such, but Cody has my attention. There’s something very real about him that I truly appreciate. Let’s just hope WWE doesn’t screw up his march to the main event of WrestleMania and the WWE Championship.

On a side note, much of the rest of the Royal Rumble show was largely missable. While Bianca Belair & Alexa Bliss had a decent match for the Raw Womens’ Title, at no point along the way did it seem like Alexa truly threatened Bianca’s reign. Also, the Bray Wyatt / LA Knight Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match was complete and utter garbage all under blacklights. The Bray Wyatt character continues to do far more harm than good to those that he enters into feuds against. Nobody ever comes away from a Bray Wyatt feud in a better position than they were prior. Also, while the Womens’ Royal Rumble was a good match with a unique ending, the match itself, paled in comparison to the Mens’ Rumble match. Even the main event of Roman Reigns defending the WWE & Universal Titles against Kevin Owens was decent, it’s what happened later in the match and the post-match angle with Sami Zayn that everyone’s talking about as it pertains to Roman and the WWE Universal Title. I’d also love to hear Mick Foley’s take on the two bumps Owens took on the ring steps. Those were NASTY looking! I just hope this turn of Sami Zayn doesn’t muddy up the waters as it pertains to Cody’s pursuit of the title.

Thanks for reading!

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