“WWE’s Royal Rumble 2020 Results Have Divided Fans”
It was a rollercoaster night for WWE fans watching the 2020 Royal Rumble. As is traditional, the road to Wrestlemania began last night with the first of 2020’s ‘big 4’ pay-per-views and there was plenty of excitement ahead of the fan-favorite event, which has become renowned and beloved for its shock returns, chaotic fun and periodic buzzer noises. The strong event card featured Becky Lynch getting an Asuka-shaped demon off her back, Daniel Bryan and The Fiend bringing back the strap match and Roman Reigns continuing his underwhelming rivalry with Baron “King” Corbin.
Of course, the crown jewels of the night were the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches themselves, and the PPV as a whole is often judged largely on the winners of those respective matches. Still in its infancy, the women’s Rumble has been won by the aforementioned Asuka and Lynch, while last year’s men’s winner was a still-babyface Seth Rollins. While champions are usually barred from entering the Rumble, 2020’s festivities were punctuated by the addition of the WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar, to the men’s battle royal.
Curiously, both the men’s and women’s Rumbles attracted wildly mixed opinions, but for very different reasons. Beginning chronologically with the women’s match, the Rumble was largely well-received, praised by some as the best since WWE introduced the female match. Naomi made a triumphant return, Mandy Rose and Otis enjoyed a fun spot that played off their recent angle and a few neat call-ups from NXT were brought into the fold. Aside from the appearance of Santina, there was precious little to complain about. That was, until Charlotte Flair was declared the winner over the second-place Shayna Baszler.
In terms of both in-ring performance and character, Charlotte is one of the best in the world, that much remains unquestioned. Over the past year, however, fans have soured on the Queen and this traces back to her inclusion in last year’s Wrestlemania main event, which many were hoping would be a straight 1-on-1 between Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey. There’s a general consensus that WWE push Charlotte too hard at the expense of other wrestlers, and this makes her a controversial Royal Rumble winner. Aside from being guaranteed a title match at ‘Mania, Charlotte’s win adds weight to accusations that WWE’s women’s division is centered around a select few stars and lacks depth, despite the multitude of talent available, and last night’s result certainly wasn’t a popular one on social media.
In contrast, the men’s Royal Rumble had almost the exact opposite problem. Kicking off with Brock Lesnar at number 1, the Beast Incarnate proceeded to eliminate a seemingly-endless string of popular wrestlers, including Shinsuke Nakamura, Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, Cesaro and NXT’s man of the moment, Keith Lee. The real-time reaction was almost vitriolic online, with many writing off the match as a flop, and although the Lesnar-fest might’ve been a bit overbearing – it did built towards a far more fan-pleasing result. After what felt like hours, Lesnar was eventually eliminated by Drew McIntyre with a Claymore Kick straight over the ropes, and the Scot would go on to win the entire thing.
McIntyre has been widely hailed since his return to WWE (and before on the independent circuit), and a recent face-turn has reinvigorated his fortunes, remaining popular with fans and being booked strongly. Still, few suspected WWE would get behind McIntyre so strongly as to crown him the winner of 2020’s men’s Royal Rumble. With a surprise feelgood win to see out the show, WWE seemed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, (almost) justifying Lesnar’s initial dominance and mostly making up for the questionable women’s Royal Rumble result from earlier in the night.
The measure of a Royal Rumble winner’s success, of course, isn’t just in winning the match itself, but in how they’re booked afterwards leading up the grand stage of Wrestlemania. As proven last year with Lynch and Rousey, a poorly planned story can quickly turn the tide on a popular winner, whereas an engaging feud could justify Charlotte going over Baszler. The only way to find out is to tune in… unless you cancelled your WWE network subscription as soon as Lesnar put Cesaro over the top rope.
WWE Monday Night Raw airs tonight on the USA network.
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