By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The New Age Outlaws def. Cody Rhodes and Goldust to Win the WWE Tag Team Championships
Despite their age, the New Age Outlaws are still capable of having pretty good matches, and this was one of them. This was much better than the initial encounter between the two teams and made for one of the best Kickoff matches in quite some time. I was surprised to see the New Age Outlaws so over with the crowd, but was it really wise on their part to act like babyfaces even though they turned on CM Punk a few weeks ago? I welcome the title change, as it opens up the doors for a potential Cody Rhodes vs. Goldust match at WrestleMania. The New Age Outlaws are more than a nostalgia act at this point; whoever takes the titles off them (hopefully The Usos) will receive a huge boost.
Bray Wyatt def. Daniel Bryan
Going in, I expected this to be nothing more than a solid matchup on the card. Boy, was I (and many others) wrong or what? This match undoubtedly stole the show. It could be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it, as everything that followed paled in comparison. The action was exciting from bell to bell and both competitors truly brought their A-game. Wyatt had yet to have a memorable match since re-debuting in July, but proved he can hang with the best of them in this contest. The finish was fantastic with Wyatt catching Bryan on the outside and hitting the Sister Abigail on the barricade. It was a big, clean win for Wyatt and one that will certainly boost his stock as a singles guy on the road to WrestleMania.
Brock Lesnar def. Big Show
Honestly, I hadn't been looking forward to this match at all in the weeks leading up to the event, so I couldn't have cared less that it was only two minutes long. If anything, I am actually glad it was so brief. Sure, Lesnar brutalized Show quite a bit with the steel chair prior to the bout, but he needed a dominant win going into WrestleMania. A back-and-forth battle with Show (who had nothing to gain in the first place) would have done him no favors. However, the post-match bit with Lesnar relentlessly beating down Show with a chair grew tiresome and even comical toward the end. What was even worse was that The World's Largest Athlete was still able to walk away on his own, albeit with some help from some officials.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton def. John Cena
I originally thought that this match would actually exceed expectations and would even be better than their TLC match from last month, but it looks like I was wrong (again). The match itself was decent, but these two have faced each other so many times over the years that it was hard to really care. Obviously, the fans in attendance felt the same way, who voiced their displeasure for the boring bout by chanting a number of hilarious things. That was the only thing that kept my attention the entire contest, along with some suspenseful near-falls in the final few minutes. Cena and Orton doing each other's finisher on each other was nowhere near as epic as when The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin did it during their WrestleMania matches, so that just looked stupid. I had a feeling The Wyatt would interfere, and it turns out I was right (for once). The live crowd enjoyed The Wyatt Family attacking Cena, but it worries me. I would much rather see The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield and John Cena vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30 than Cena vs. Wyatt at this point, especially since I wouldn't expect Bray to go over.
Batista Won the 30-Man Royal Rumble Match
CM Punk and Seth Rollins kicking off the match was a nice touch considering their history and how they would go on to last longer than any other participant. Alexander Rusev was a pleasant surprise, as he had an impressive showing while he lasted. Whether this means he is officially main roster bound remains to be seen, but I wouldn't mind seeing him on Raw and SmackDown at this point. I didn't expect Kane to be named an entrant. He should have lasted longer and his eventual elimination of Punk despite already being taken out was lame, even if it is something that is done every year. Once again, Kofi Kingston had a memorable moment in the match by jumping from the barricade to the ring apron (something I thought he would pull of last year). His character may be stale, but his athleticism will never cease to amaze me. From Goldust eliminating Cody Rhodes to The Shield practically owning everyone in the Rumble, there were plenty of stories told throughout the match that I really enjoyed. Speaking of The Shield, Roman Reigns had a breakout performance and I am glad he was the one to break Kane's record of most amount of eliminations in one Rumble. The reaction he received when he went head-to-head with Batista at the end (more on that soon) was monstrous and solidified him as a future star in the company. JBL's brief stint, although unnecessary, was hilarious. Kevin Nash received a great reaction and the live crowd was very much behind the returning Ziggler. They also reacted favorably to Sheamus (my new favorite wrestler for the next year per my Royal Rumble Game), who made his return after nearly six months and had a dominant showing. The fact Daniel Bryan wasn't involved in the Rumble is absolutely asinine (though I laughed at how heavily Rey Mysterio was booed when he entered at No. 30). How can you not have your most over guy in the company not be a part of such a huge matchup let alone win it? The fans were waiting for that moment, and I don't blame them in the slightest for being vocal about their disdain for the finish. Although I consider myself to be a massive fan of Batista, even I rolled my eyes when he won the Rumble. Either WWE is clueless when it comes to making new stars or they have a master plan up their sleeves, though I am not all that confident in the latter scenario. Not even John Cena was booed that badly when he won for a second time last year! Recent reports have indicated that Batista mocked Bryan's "YES!" chant and flipped out fans after the event went off the air, so perhaps a much needed heel turn is in the works after all. Even still, it was an extremely disappointing ending to an otherwise great show.
All of the matches on the show, even the Kickoff match, were enjoyable and well wrestled. That being said, nothing was going to match Bryan vs. Wyatt, not even the Rumble match. We have had better Rumbles in the past, but at least this year's annual battle royal had its highlights and was well executed for the most part. The predictable finish to the pay-per-view was disappointing and sent many fans (myself included) into an outrage, but one thing is for sure: all eyes will be on Raw tonight. Regardless, I worth suggest purchasing the show if you didn't do so initially. The opener was excellent and early Match of the Year contender, Lesnar vs. Show was what it needed to be, Orton vs. Cena was entertaining if only for the crowd chants, and the Rumble was exciting to watch unfold as well.