What an outstanding Royal Rumble.
While not perfect, this was my favourite rumble PPV in years. I’m thrilled with both winners, and the action outside of the two major matches were all solid at worst. Some of the finishes left something to be desired, but overall it was a great pay-per-view. I went a respectable 6-3 in our official Royal Rumble predictions, and all was right with the world when Roman Reigns was eliminated.
Now, we’re officially on the road to WrestleMania, and we have our first official match. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura will battle one-on-one for the first time since WrestleKingdom 10, and the WWE Universe couldn’t be more excited. However, little else has been built to yet - which likely means huge developments tonight. Smackdown airs from Philadelphia for the fourth straight night - I’m @SpennyLove, and welcome to your official Smackdown preview on Win Column Sports!
It’s happening, everyone.
Entering at #14, Shinsuke Nakamura is your 2018 Men’s Royal Rumble winner. It was likely my favourite Rumble match since 2003; if you haven’t watched it, you’re missing out. It was a perfect blend of drama, comedy, and great wrestling. Most importantly, the right guy won. Now, we’re only 68 days away from AJ Styles/Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania. This will only mark their second one-on-one encounter of all time; as mentioned, the first was over two years ago at WrestleKingdom 10. The match also represented Styles’ last match with New Japan Pro Wrestling prior to the start of his WWE run; Nakamura’s would come nearly a month later. Now, the two will finally get their rematch.
It’s a great time to be a wrestling fan.
More Quick Hits:
- Styles retained his WWE Championship in his 2-0n-1 handicap match with Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. It was a controversial ending that I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of.
- Bobby Roode defeated Mojo Rawley to retain the United States Championship
- Dolph Ziggler returned as the #30 entrant in the Royal Rumble
- The Usos retained the Smackdown Tag Team Championships
- Ronda Rousey made her WWE debut
State of the Belts:
756 days since you beat me in Japan.
756 days since the last time we faced 1 on 1. 756 days since I’ve wanted my rematch. 69 days until I get my opportunity.
Nakamura. Styles. #WrestleMania
— AJStyles.Org (@AJStylesOrg) January 29, 2021
Nakamura. Styles. I don’t think much more needs to be said. Tonight will mark their first steps on the Road to WrestleMania; how will Styles respond to Nakamura’s challenge? Personally, I’ve been praying for this match since their interaction at Money in the Bank over six months ago. The two are both outstanding in-ring talents, and this is already my early pick for Match of the Night. Don’t believe me? Check out their one and only singles match at WrestleKingdom 10; it’s a wrestling clinic. I’m excited, guys.
For the first time in a while, there’s intrigue around the Smackdown Women’s Championship. While RAW member Asuka won the title, there’s rumours abound that she could still challenge Charlotte Flair for the blue brand’s top prize. There’s also a brand-new signee to WWE that didn’t appear on RAW last night. How will Charlotte address the championship situation heading into ‘Mania?
Rusev, Jinder Mahal, Kofi Kingston and Zach Ryder will battle in a fatal four-way tonight for the right to challenge Bobby Roode for the United States Championship. My ideal prediction for this is that Rusev somehow pulls off the victory, and the angle is used as a double turn for Ru-Ru and Roode. I’m a huge fan of both men; I just believe that both of their character alignments aren’t right at the moment. Roode is one of the top heels in the world when he’s on his game, and Rusev may be the most beloved member on the roster currently. Make it happen, WWE!
The Usos defeated Gable & Benjamin in a clean sweep during their 2-out-of-3 falls match. There’s no clear challenger to their titles right now, with every member of the Smackdown Live roster falling at their feet. Do we see new challengers emerge? I’ll bet we do - hello, Authors of Pain!
Here and There:
— WWE (@WWE) January 29, 2021
Dolph Ziggler was the recipient of the coveted #30 spot in the Royal Rumble, making his return after more than a month following his relinquishing of the United States title. I’m excited to see where he goes from here; when he entered, I firmly believed that he would win the match, but he was eliminated much quicker than I expected. Where does he go from here?
The Bludgeon Brothers, the New Day, Rusev Day, Breezango…there are simply too many solid tag teams on the blue brand. Smackdown has done a great job of making sure each is consistently utilized - will that tradition continue tonight? Both the New Day and Rusev Day have members in the United States Championship #1 contenders match tonight, but what of the Brothers Bludgeon and Breezango?
Three Things to Watch For:
- It’s a long shot, but with no Monday Night RAW appearance, does newly minted WWE Superstar Ronda Rousey appear? It’s not clear what her direction is after appearing on Sunday night; will she perhaps shock everyone and show up on Smackdown?
- Happy birthday, Becky Lynch! My personal pick to win the Royal Rumble was unfortunately eliminated, but there has to be a shot at the Smackdown Women’s Championship soon…right?
- WWE did a beautiful job of trolling it’s audience when Tye Dillinger was unable to make his entrance at #10. Why? A beatdown courtesy of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. How will the Perfect 10 respond tonight?
That’s it, wrestling fans! You watching? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on @WCSportsCA!