WWE’s Royal Rumble event always has a few surprises in store. Some are throwbacks, like Rey Mysterio’s shocking entry into the match tonight. Some are completely random – who expected Vickie Guerrero? Or Ronda Rousey?!
There are usually one or two disappointments as well. For example, tonight’s three-way title match between Braun Strowman, Kane, and Brock Lesnar was pretty good, until the boring, predictable ending. And of course, there are the eliminations you hoped wouldn’t happen.
One thing that didn’t disappoint, however, was the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match. The biggest stars of today (including Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Naomi, Nia Jax, Asuka, and the returning Bella twins) met the legends of the past who made the women’s division what it is today (Lita, Trish Stratus, Michelle McCool, Jacqueline, and Beth Phoenix) in a thrilling, hour-long free-for-all. The hall of famers looked as great as ever, and held their own against the young upstarts. In the end, though, it was brawler Asuka who came out with the win over 29 other women. The victory guarantees her a title match at WrestleMania, where can can choose to fight Raw champion Alexa Bliss, or Smackdown champion Charlotte Flair.
And speaking of ‘Mania, something else very big is coming in the women’s division. After Asuka’s hard-fought win, fans were treated to an appearance they’ve been hoping to see for some time: UFC legend Ronda Rousey. Wearing a “Rowdy Ronda” shirt, and the leather jacket that once belonged to Roddy Piper (who bequeathed her the nickname), she made her way to the ring to a thunderous reaction. She didn’t say a word, but simply pointed to the WrestleMania sign hanging high above the ring.
What will happen next remains to be seen. Who will be Rousey’s first rival? Will she be handed a title match because of her pre-existing popularity, or will she have to earn it? How will her fighting style fit in with the other female wrestlers? The next few weeks will be very interesting.
In closing, I feel the need to commend WWE for two things. First, bringing back women from the last 15 years to participate in the landmark match was a very classy move. With the exception of Guerrero, none of the 30 entrants were stunts just for a laugh. Every woman deserved to be there, and to see that acknowledged gave me new respect for the company.
Secondly, there’s the continued diversity. While probably 60% of the roster is white, there are more African American wrestlers than ever. Last year, Jinder Mahal’s championship reign made a huge difference to Indian fans. And now, the heretofore underrepresented Asian demographic suddenly has two Royal Rumble winners in one night. Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka, both from Japan, won their respective matches to advance to WrestleMania title shots. It’s great to see that WWE finally realizes that their product has worldwide appeal, and therefore deserves worldwide representation.
What did you think of the Rumble? Were you happy with the winners? And what do you hope to see from Rousey? Tell us in the comments!