What a fantastic show!

There were so many great moments at this year’s Royal Rumble. From Randy Orton winning it all and finally re-establishing himself as a main event player after spending the past few months absolutely killing it in the Wyatt family angle on Smackdown to Gallows and Anderson finally getting what’s theirs on the pre-show to John Cena winning his 16th title and tying Ric Flair’s record and then in true Cena fashion celebrating it all with a Make-A-Wish kid, there was a lot to love

Seriously, wrestling fans can be a fickle bunch for sure but I have no idea how you watched that PPV and didn’t leave not only loving it but genuinely exciting to see where things head to from here.

I had no idea what to expect coming into the Royal Rumble this year.

Part of it was because I spent the past two and a half weeks in Southeast Asia and didn’t get to see a whole lot of WWE programming.

But even following from a distance, it really seemed like no clear plan is unfolding for WrestleMania beyond Triple H vs. Seth Rollins and the likely Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg match which doesn’t even feel like the lock it once did as the company has given us some intriguing scenarios involving ol’ Bill that could potentially lead to a multi-man match of something else down the line.

I love this unpredictability and the lack of certainty going down that Road To WrestleMania.

It certainly doesn’t feel like last year where a lot of things were just uncertain because of bad booking and weird decisions down the stretch (I still don’t know where Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker came from. I get that it drew well, but what the hell man?).

On the contrary, the booking has been very strong throughout the company – particularly on Smackdown – which really made this instalment of the Royal Rumble one of the strongest top to bottom in recent memory. The strength of the booking means that there are a ton of directions a lot of stories and angles can go and all can lead to very satisfying payoffs for fans as we head into the Grandaddy of them all.

I’m not saying the Rumble was perfect (there are some things that continue to irk me in the WWE lately – mostly on Raw) but it was pretty damn close to it.

I honestly can’t wait to see what happens next because I genuinely have no idea where it’s all headed.

Since this is my first attempt at reflecting on a show, I will walk you through the style I’m going to use: I’m going to take you through match by match and tell you what I liked and didn’t like and maybe where I’d like to see things go from here. I’m not going to do star ratings or workrate reviews or anything because I’m not Dave Meltzer and I think that telling you how much I liked something is a lot more effective than assigning it an arbitrary number of snowflakes.

Oh and I count the pre-show matches for sure.

The panel show started with a recap on the awesome Seth Rollins promo from NXT Takeover: San Antonio. Moving that angle to the NXT show was a brilliant move. I didn’t get to see the show because I was in the midst of the Beijing to Montreal leg of my trip so I will watch it in whole this week (no spoilers please) but moving that there immediately tells fans that important things involving the entire company happen there. Vince McMahon used to proudly proclaim that “anything can happen in the World Wrestling Federation” and moments like that help reinforce that maxim.

It also helps reinforce the idea that NXT has moved beyond being simply the developmental territory and is a place of equal importance with any of the other brands.

When the company did Takeover, Survivor Series and Raw here in Toronto back in November, NXT was as big a deal as any of the other shows. There were as many Nakamura, Samoa Joe and Bobby Roode shirts in the crowd as there were for Lesnar, Reigns or anyone else not named John Cena. That’s probably the case for most fans who have the Network and are putting the vast majority of money in the WWE’s coffers. Putting NXT on equal footing not only helps service those fans but also will make the more casual ones want to check out the Network more. It’s a win-win.

Pre-show match one: Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Natalya

This match epitomizes how great the booking is on Smackdown and why it is such a superior show to Raw.

Raw can handle whatever Charlotte’s current feud is and maybe a half-assed secondary women’s feud that is treated like a bit of an afterthought and blown off limply on a pre-show and doesn’t really do either woman or the division any favours (more on that later).

Smackdown, on the other hand, puts this match together and each and every woman involved has a compelling reason to be there. Becky Lynch lost her title to Alexa Bliss and then continued to retain it in a screwy fashion until the whole “La Luchdora” decoy where Bliss and Lynch took turns playing mind games with each other using the lucha pastiche to play mind games with each other until the legit La Luchadora cost Lynch a cage match with Bliss and revealed herself to be seasoned vet Mickie James which has lead to a Lynch/James feud. Natalya revealed herself as the mysterious assailant who took out Nikki Bella at Survivor Series. Total Divas explode! Nikki Bella has a legit case to make as a contender to Bliss’ title as well. Naomi has been lost in the shuffle as of late but seems to have Alexa Bliss’ number in non-title matches.

Every one in the match has a reason to be there and it makes a quick six-woman tag team match seem way more important in terms of developing storylines.

I have to give a shout out to Alexa Bliss on her work on Smackdown. I’m going to be doing a column on her that I’ll hopefully have ready this week but she has been undoubtedly the MVP of women’s wrestling as of late. Unlike Charlotte she doesn’t need to have people fed to her to stay strong. Her character and mic work are top notch and she is solid in the ring and constantly getting better. Remember when the focus was on the “Four Horsewomen” (Charlotte, Bayley, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch) coming out of NXT? We all totally overlooked Bliss and she’s blowing our collective minds with her work as the champ on Smackdown.

I’m glad that Becky Lynch has Mickie James to keep her busy because Alexa Bliss deserves a nice long run with that title or at the very least until WrestleMania. Since Nikki Bella has the most mainstream appeal of the Smackdown women (at least in the eyes of WWE), her match will probably feature at WrestleMania. I really hope they let Lynch and James do their thing and run with Nikki Bella vs. Alexa Bliss as a separate program. Alexa deserves it.

In terms of the match itself, it was quicker than it should have been but that’s the nature of the pre-show special. Which it was on, the action was crisp and quick. Lynch, Natalya and James are all fantastic workers while Bliss is a heat machine and is working her way up to that level and Bella has improved by leaps and bounds in the ring and Naomi is one of the most underrated worker in the company.

I’m glad that Naomi got the pin. She deserves the spotlight given how hard she works which shows in the ring every time she’s out there. I’m looking forward to a nice little program between her and Bliss to keep the title picture going over on Smackdown as we head to WrestleMania.

Great pre-show match.

Pre-show match 2: Raw Tag Team Titles: Sheamus and Cesaro (champs) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson

I’m a man who can admit when he is wrong. Earlier this month, I wrote about WWE superstars that I felt should switch brands. You can check it out here. Gallows and Anderson were on that list because I genuinely thought that Sheamus and Cesaro winning meant that those two were firmly out of the title picture.

How wrong I was.

Gallows and Anderson got some singles victories and a Dusty finish win over the odd couple of international superstars setting up for this match.

It was the type of excellent, hard hitting and well worked affair that you would expect from this combination of solid workers and they really made the most of the short time they were given. A perfect combo of chain wrestling and power moves. I’m a huge fan of each man’s work and it’s really hard to believe that Luke Gallows is the same man who was saddled with that awful Festus gimmick all those years ago.

Thank the good lord upstairs for New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Gallows and Anderson absolutely killed it in the Bullet Club and it was disappointing to seem them treated like such lame ducks in the New Day feud with the extra low point of them dressing up like doctors and making dick jokes after putting Big E on the shelf with a groin injury.

Now the company is finally treating the two like the good brothers they are and put the tag team titles on them. This instance is definitely one where I am really glad I was wrong.

Let’s hope Anderson and Gallows keep the belts for a long time, although I have no idea what team they are going to defend them against given the thin tag division on Raw.

Another New Day feud would be a step in the wrong direction for Gallows and Anderson, and it really seems like Cesaro and Sheamus are going to go back to feuding with each other after dropping the belts, which is also kind of a step back for them but at least will give them something to do up until WrestleMania and they had great chemistry together during their never completed best-of-seven series so there are far worse fates for them beyond renewing their rivalry.

The ref bump that lead to the finish tells me that at least one more meeting between the mismatched foreigners and the former Bullet Club members is in store either way.

This would be a great opportunity for another NXT team to come up and go right for the good brothers and their belts. Given that #DIY just dropped the belts, this would be a great opportunity to bring up Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa especially given that beyond competing for the tag belts, each man could also compete on 205 Live which is still part of the Raw brand.

Pre-show match 3: Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax

In that same brand split article, I suggested that Sasha Banks should switch brands to Smackdown.

In that case, I was not wrong. All of my worst fears of what life on the Raw brand would be like for a post-Charlotte Flair feud, Boss came to fruition in this one.

Sasha Banks deserves far better than to job to the very talented but still green Nia Jax in what was essentially a squash match. Far, far better. I’m not just saying that as a huge mark for her but also as someone who recognizes that Raw has a terrible track record of booking women who aren’t feuding with Charlotte.

Banks jobbed clean in a glorified squash and really what is next for her? A rematch with Jax? Even if she wins, she’s still lost in the shuffle as long as Charlotte has that belt given how long they feuded for last year and she’s probably going to be in a holding pattern until Flair drops the belt. Then the best case scenario is a heel turn and feud with Bayley.

That, however, is assuming that Banks still has her spot in the pecking order. Given how hard they are pushing Nia Jax and the returning and likely heel Emmalina, it’s unlikely that a Banks heel turn would even net her a top women’s program.

Jax also is going to be in a holding pattern. I really don’t see her turning face. I especially don’t see Charlotte turning face anytime soon. I doubt they will run a heel/heel Jax vs. Flair program so she destroyed Sasha Banks only to move on to…..who knows?

Given the listless direction of the Raw women’s division beyond whatever the title program is, I really don’t have a lot of hope for the future of either woman as long as they are on that show. I really hope I am wrong about that as I was for Gallows and Anderson but at this point it’s really hard for me to see it going any other way.

Royal Rumble match 1: Raw Women’s Title: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Bayley

What if we were are all wrong?

We all assumed that the Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair feud was going to WrestleMania and maybe it still could but Bayley doing the job clean here really didn’t help her credibility or make for a compelling program going forward.

I assumed like everyone else that Charlotte would win by cheating and keep the issue going. That’s not what happened. Much like too many of her Sasha Banks matches ended, this one had the wrong result with Charlotte hitting natural selection out of nowhere to retain the belt.

I get the appeal of Charlotte to an extent and why the WWE continues to push her like she’s 2002-2004 era Triple H. She’s the daughter of one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, she’s an amazing natural athlete, she does well in public appearances and has a level of athletic credibility that many former women’s champions have lacked.

She looks like an elite athlete and brings instant credibility to that division in public appearances in addition to being wrestling royalty. I get that.

But the Charlotte superpush is really killing the rest of the women’s division on Raw.

A Charlotte/Bayley feud didn’t need the belt to be compelling where a Nia Jax/Sasha Banks one probably did. I get that the WWE is committed to Charlotte’s PPV win streak but they’re doing it at the expense of the rest of the Raw women’s division. Banks should have won that feud and Bayley should have got the moral victory tonight.

Instead Flair won clean and it’s going to take some convincing to get fans to buy into Bayley deserving another shot. If she doesn’t go over Charlotte at some point, they’ll have killed another women’s star’s credibility.

But as I said earlier, maybe we’re wrong. Maybe Bayley isn’t the one that’s going to end Charlotte’s reign at WrestleMania. Maybe the WWE is as high on Asuka as the rest of us or has some other plan that we haven’t thought about. Otherwise this was a weird finish that hurts the feud more than it helps it.

Royal Rumble match 2: WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns

This was a great hard hitting, well-paced match. The entire PPV would have been worth it just for this one and it wasn’t even the best match of the show.

Kevin Owens is absolutely killing it. If you were to have told me that he would still be holding the belt since winning it at the post-SummerSlam Raw after Finn Balor had to give it up, I probably wouldn’t have bought it.

Owens doesn’t look like the pro-typical WWE star that gets pushed to the moon. He doesn’t have male model good looks or a body that looks like it came out of Muscle and Fitness. What he does have is more charisma than most pro wrestlers have dreamed of in their life. His “best friends” angle with Chris Jericho is easily the most entertaining, hilarious and just fucking wonderful program that the WWE has run with in a very long time. How many terrible Raws haven’t been salvaged by Jericho and Owens’ character work and promos? They’re just killing it right now and have been the MVP’s of Raw and maybe the WWE in general since the team started last summer. The most amazing aspect is that in an era of highly scripted promos, the two are allowed to ad lib most of their stuff – as they revealed to Edwards and I at their live podcast this during Survivor Series weekend in Toronto.

Speaking of Jericho, how great was he up in that shark cage? He cracked me up more than once with his yelling from high above the arena and he even manages to put a new spin on something simple like passing brass knuckles down to Owens. This has been by far my favourite Jericho run ever and I am going to miss him when he tours with Fozzy again.

KO also brings it in the ring. Every single time. When is the last time you saw a bad Kevin Owens match? I know I haven’t. His work is impeccable and laid out so well. The spots are perfectly timed and the psychology is spot on. He’s also got so much creativity in terms of how he build contraptions out of foreign objects (in this case chairs) even though it always backfires on him and results in a crazy bump. I can’t say enough good things about Owens and he’s turned what many thought would be a career damaging lame duck title reign into a legacy defining body of work on the top of the Raw brand.

You also have to give it to Roman Reigns. There are only so many times that he can be involved in absolutely classic matches before you have to acknowledge that he is holding up his end of the bargain and bringing it as well. He’s done some amazing work with AJ Styles, Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins, Rusev, Owens and many more in the last year. His character may be stale as hell but his in ring work cannot be denied. Fans can shit on the guy but he delivers when it counts.

Although the character may be refreshed soon. Was I the only one who detected may be the beginning of a subtle heel turn when Roman opted to punish Owens more by putting him through a table rather than pin him after that crazy bump through all those chairs? Or maybe I’m giving the writing team too much credit. The actual Rumble match gave us more reason to speculate. More on that later.

The ending of the match really had me convinced that a Braun Stroman vs. Roman Reigns WrestleMania program was a done deal. Initially my reactions was that this might be premature given that Stroman is going to get major face reactions against Reigns and that there are probably better uses for the Stroman mega-push than using it to sacrifice him to Reigns and have the crowd take a dump all over it.

The Rumble lead me that there may be other plans for Roman at WrestleMania. I haven’t been so excited for an episode of Raw in a very long time. I can’t wait to see where all of this goes.

The best part of all is that Kevin Owens is still the champ in an outcome that most people didn’t see coming.

Also, I don’t if Stone Cold didn’t like KO’s Stunner, I thought it was great.

Royal Rumble Match 3: WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Rich Swann (c) vs. Neville

I have to admit to being a huge Rich Swann mark. He is easily my favourite part of 205 Live and I was very happy that they opted to put the belt on him after the initial TJ Perkins experiment didn’t really work out. Really I’ve been pissed off since the Cruiserweight Classic that Perkins went over Swann in the first place.

Swann brings it in the ring, has a really fun character and a real life heartbreaking story of overcoming adversity that makes him the ultimate babyface. It’s pretty much impossible not to root for him knowing that he lost both parents by age 16 and overcame drug addiction and falling in with the wrong crowd to become a wrestling superstar. It’s a great story that makes the upbeat, positive character that Swann plays even more compelling.

Having said that, the right decision was absolutely made here.

Neville has been an absolutely monster since coming back from injury. His physique makes him look far more powerful than the other cruiserweights in the division and made the match-up with Swann appear like much more of a David vs. Goliath affair.

I’ve also really appreciated Neville’s new ground based assault since he came back. It makes sense to protect himself after a pretty gruesome leg injury but also makes sense from a ring psychology perspective as well. Given that he’s bigger and stronger than most of the opponents that he’s going to go up against in the cruiserweight division, it makes sense for Neville to ground and pound his opponents and get them to submit rather than employing the aerial assault that he employed before gong on the shelf.

I’m excited to see what the future of 205 Live and the Cruiserweight division holds. The money is in the chase and WWE can really create a future star with whoever unseats Neville and has a ready made feud for whoever that babyface champ will be when Austin Aries returns from injury.

Speaking of which, Aries is absolutely killing it on commentary these days. He’s adding so much to the cruiserweight division and his chemistry with Mauro Ranallo and Corey Graves is off the charts. It’s a star making turn for him without ever setting foot in the ring.

It you aren’t watching 205 Live, you should be.

Match 4: WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena

In a world where Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada just changed the parameters of what a wrestling match could be just four weeks ago, I can’t say that this match is the best match I’ve seen so far this year, but I can say that it’s the best WWE match I’ve seen so far and it’s set the standard for the company for the rest of the year.

If you didn’t see it, go out of your way to watch it and then go back and watch it again. It’s an instant classic that easily lives up to the excellent John Cena vs. AJ Styles title match from last year’s SummerSlam.

AJ Styles has been the best worker in WWE by far since his debut at last year’s Royal Rumble. His in-ring work is off the charts and his rapid rise to the top of the WWE food chain is well deserved. I’m glad he finally made it here to cement his status. I’m not saying that you couldn’t consider Styles an all-time great if he never came to WWE, but his work is so good that he deserves to be showcased in the world’s biggest wrestling company.

JBL actually made a great analogy for once in the intros to the matches when he compared AJ Styles to “Dr. J” Julius Erving. Dr. J was generally considered to be the most exciting and possibly the best basketball player in the world while he was in the ABA but we didn’t know that for sure until he was able to match-up with the best players in the NBA. After the merger, Dr. J forever cemented his status as one of the best ever. Styles has been able to do that as well.

Are you listening Kenny Omega?

Styles deserved his run with the belt and probably deserves another one too. Beyond that he absolutely must keep his spot firmly and squarely and the top of the card on Smackdown. Whatever he moves on to next better be a major program and a featured match at WrestleMania. Shunting Styles down the card for a part-timer would be unacceptable and a slap in the face to the Phenomenal one given the year that he’s had since coming into the company.

As far as John Cena goes, I’ve made my feelings about him pretty clear here. Nobody deserves to recognized as the most decorated world champion in the history of professional wrestling more than John Cena. There has never been a better ambassador for the industry than Cena and never been anyone with a run at he top longer than him.

Every single time he is in a big match, he delivers and this was no exception. Everything I love about wrestling was on display in this one. It was perfect.

Anyone who complains about the result here is just expressing a personal bias because it was absolutely the right call and Cena put over Styles clean as a sheet last year, which cemented him as top guy and also made Styles look very strong in this one as it clearly took everything Cena had to put him away and win his record tying 16th world championship.

If I were a betting man I would guess that Cena drops it again, probably at Elimination Chamber and earns his record breaking 17th world championship at WrestleMania. At least that’s how I’d like to see it play out.

It’s really hard for anyone to justify hating the guy when the first thing he does after winning is run into the crowd to celebrate with yet another Make-A-Wish kid (Cena has granted well over 500 wishes, hundreds more than anyone else).

Sorry I’ve got a tear in my eye now.

Royal Rumble Match #5: THE ROYAL RUMBLE

This was easily my favourite Royal Rumble in a very, very long time due to the uncertainty of who was going to win it. The last time I was genuinely surprised by the outcome of a Rumble was five years ago when Sheamus of all people won it. John Cena, Batista, Roman Reigns and Triple H have all been gimme ever since due to storyline necessities.

Having Randy Orton win the Rumble was great. Although, apparently not unexpected by all as Edwards had alerted me as soon as I got home from Southeast Asia that betting lines favoured Orton. It seems that word has been leaking out about results for the purposes of betting on WWE (which is a weird thing to bet on) which is too bad because people who follow gambling closely probably weren’t as genuinely surprised as I still was.

Orton absolutely deserves it too. Since last being on top as part of The Authority angle in 2013, Orton put over Seth Rollins to help cement him as a top guy, spent a long time on the shelf and has since returned to Smackdown to participate in one of the show’s hottest angles with the Wyatt. The Viper shocked many by taking on what many considered to be a strictly mid-card angle but the result of Orton’s involvement with the family has renewed Bray Wyatt’s importance and placed him higher at the top of the card and also has elevated Luke Harper to new levels.

His full out face turn and tease of a Sister Abigail to Bray Wyatt helped to cement Harper as a new babyface star (given the massive pop he got) and create a new chapter in the Wyatt saga. One that will also have to cover what the fallout will be between Wyatt and Orton now that Randy has the glory that Bray sought.

I love wrestling for the potential in storylines and angles like this. What I love even more is that there is a world of possibilities open between now and WrestleMania and I have no idea who Orton will be facing for the title by the time the Super Bowl of wrestling rolls around.

It was clear by Survivor Series in Toronto how hot this angle was and having it potentially be part of a main event program at the biggest show of the year is a testament to the excellent work of Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Randy Orton who took on what seemed like a lesser role and made pay off in major ways.

Randy Orton absolutely deserves that Rumble win and the spotlight that will come with it.

The match itself was one of the best in a long time and full of great moments right from the start. Having Chris Jericho and Big Cass start out the match was hopefully a sign of things to come if the WWE gets behind a Cass solo push. There is nobody better for him to work with than Jericho who has no problems putting over young talent and could make Cass a top guy not just by putting him over but also by teaching him while they work that program. Jericho’s US title would make a lot of sense around Cass’ waste if they ever decide to go that direction.

Really I just want anything but the inevitable best friends break up and program.

I also loved that Jericho got to last over an hour in the Rumble and make it to the final four with Roman Reigns, Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt. In many ways, it’s a fitting reward for Jericho who has been giving arguably the best work of his career in his current run and has been one of the most unselfish stars in wrestling history as he continually uses his position to elevate others and has been a major reason for the runaway success of Kevin Owens on Raw.

He also got to show off his great current chickenshit heel character by hiding a lot, playing possum and sneaking up behind the former tag champs Cesaro and Sheamus simultaneously.

The Rumble also showed off the superiority of Smackdown to Raw in a lot of ways.

Beyond the fact that the all of the hot angles not involving part timers were Smackdown based, also in the little moments.

No single moment in the Rumble epitomized this more than how both James Ellsworth and Enzo were used. Both guys came in the Rumble at times when they were forced to face monsters. In Ellsworth’s case it was Braun Stroman and he was tricked into it as revenge by Dean Ambrose for his previous interference in Ambrose’s series of matches with AJ Styles. It was a cute moment and it worked. As Ellsworth was fooled into thinking both he and Ambrose were heading into face the monster only for the chinless one to find himself alone and promptly tossed out by Stroman.

Great bit of comedic work for a comedy act.

Enzo entered after Brock Lesnar had basically laid everyone out in the ring. Only to last about a second against him. Which only hurt his character and sacrificed him to build a part-timer who likely will never interact with Enzo again.

One spot worked well and another undermined a great character.

That sums up the difference perfectly.

There were other wonderful little character moments as well like Bray Wyatt still having a hold on Xavier Woods. The Miz taking everyone’s finisher. The newly heeled Dolph Ziggler coming in like a house of fire with a shit attitude but also getting one in on old rival Baron Corbin and so and so forth.

There were also a lot of welcome surprises.

When Braun Stroman started going on his tear which included being fed former monsters like Mark Henry and newly jacked Big Show. It seemed he was going to be in the “Diesel” spot and break Roman Reigns’ elimination record building up for what earlier in the show seemed like an inevitable WrestleMania match between the two.

Instead he got to look strong and was then eliminated after a Helluva from Sami Zayn by Baron Corbin. Allowing Zayn to get revenge and Corbin to cement himself as a major player. Brilliant booking.

Having Tye Dillinger come in at number 10 was so perfect. Just one of those moments you live for as a wrestling fan. Not sure if that means he’s going to find himself up on Raw or Smackdown but he’d be a great challenger for The Miz’s IC title if that’s the case.

Jack Gallagher’s involvement was also a lot of fun even if it was all just for the umbrella spot.

Also at what point does Kofi Kingston decide he’s going to stop having the spot of the show? I thought he was going to kill himself on that sick bump on the ring post. Speaking of New Day was anybody else hoping that Big E would turn on Kofi and Xavier Woods rather than pull them back in the ring? Just me then? Okay.

Even the use of part-timers wasn’t too damaging to the rest of the roster. I could have done with Baron Corbin being the one to eliminate The Undertaker rather than the other way around but it’s WWE and that would be asking for too much.

Speaking of Taker he had a lot of moments that could lead to his ultimate roll at WrestleMania. There’s no doubt that Corbin should and hopefully will be looking for revenge after the Dead Man ended his strong showing. There was also The Undertaker-Goldberg showdown that lead to Taker eliminating Goldberg. That popped the crowd and gave us a glimpse at a dream match we didn’t even know we wanted that would be 100% fresh.

But the most interesting direction Taker could take might have been given to us by the man who ultimately eliminated him: Roman Reigns. Remember when I said Reigns was acting subtlety heelish at the end of his title match with Owens? After having the crowd take a dump on him when he entered the Rumble at 30, he eliminated a living legend beloved by all.

Could that be The Undertaker’s WrestleMania program? Roman can’t stay face against him. We can all dream.

Lesnar-Goldberg seems the likely direction for those two. Especially after Goldberg easily dumped Brock playing off his Survivor Series squash of him, but the crowd seemed way hotter for Goldberg to face a fresh opponent in The Undertaker.

So what do they do?

This is the wealth of possibilities that is the WWE in 2017 and I loved every minute of it.

The Rumble delivered in every way, shape and form and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

If you haven’t seen the show, get to it immediately and don’t miss Raw or Smackdown this week and the build up to WrestleMania always the best time of the year (with the notable exception of last year but we also lost Prince and Bowie that year so I’m not counting it. Fuck 2016.).

I’m giddy with anticipation and high on wrestling right now and that’s where you should be after the Royal Rumble.

WWE brought it in a big way.

Special shout out to the guy who the “Rusev is my favourite Total Diva” sign. That was absolutely fantastic.

So there is my first show review. Let me know what you thought on twitter (@josh_kolic), facebook or via e-mail at thehoopandtheharmblog@gmail.com.