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Posted in: The Eternal Optimist
The Eternal Optimist Reviews NXT Takeover & The Royal Rumble
By Dave Fenichel
Jan 29, 2018 - 11:03:55 PM

Question of the Day: What did you like most about the 2018 Royal Rumble?

Hi kids.

What a weekend eh? I thought I’d switch things up and drop my non Rumble series column early in the week. Why? Simple. I felt that there was an opportunity to put out an original article for you guys – a Takeover and Royal Rumble review column!

What’s that you say? There’s already three of these on LOP in the last 24 hours? THAT’S A LATTA BULL$HIT! A LATTA BS I TELL YOU! Ok then, I’d better come up with some decent criteria. Here we go:


Ratings Roadmap:

1 Star = Mr. Tito – “It’s horrible and I told you so. Now I’m going to tell you how I told you that it was going to be horrific”.

2 Stars = Rich Latta – “It’s really bad all the time, except occasionally I put blinders on and think it’s a lot better than everyone else. Most of these occasions involve The Velveteen Dream.” (FOH w/ that 3 ¼ star rating).

3 Stars = Skitz – “I wasn’t sure if it was good or bad, but that’s because no one ever knows what I’m talking about”.

4 Stars = The Doc 2017 – “I’m still more positive than the rest of you booger eaters, but social media and JInder Mahal have turned me into a mild curmudgeon”.

5 Stars = The Doc 2016 – “Life is good yo. Everyone misses this version of me.”


Without further ado:

NXT Takeover: Philadelphia Review:


The Undisputed Era v AOP Match Rating: Skitz.

AOP and The Undisputed Era had a fine outing, but I wanted more. The NXT tag team division has set a high bar that I expect to be reached on each and every Network Special. This match was unmemorable. Both teams went out there and did their job. The crowd ate it up and it got the event off to a good start, but I feel like both are capable of better.

The Velveteen Dream v Kassius Ohno Match Rating: Mr. Tito.

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some Velveteen Dream. The guy is an absolute star. With that said, Chris Hero has no business in a wrestling ring in 2018. He kind of looks like me, which is to say that he’s a fat tub of goo. This was botchamania. A train wreck from start to finish. Woof.

Ember Moon v Shayna Baszler Match Rating: Rich Latta.

It’s not that this was horrible. I felt like Moon and Baszler were building to something really good until that absolutely assanine ending. As an avid MMA fan, you can’t sell me that as a legitimate ending. You aren’t in an arm bar for almost five minutes without getting your arm broken, and you sure as hell aren’t turning it into a rollup victory. The aftermath was cool with the choke out, but I can’t forgive the booking here.

Alistair Black v Adam Cole Match Rating: The Doc 2017.

Although not an instant classic, Black and Cole delivered an old school hardcore match the likes of which we don’t really see in the modern day WWE. It provided the wild brawl that I craved without also feeling like a spot fest. That bump that Cole took on the edge of the steel chairs was absolutely nuts. I’d like to never see that again. All in all, a really solid outing. I’m looking forward to the coronation of Black as NXT champ in New Orleans.

Cien Almas v Johnny Gargano Match Rating: The Doc 2016.

Come on, was there any doubt on this one? Not only was it an early contender for match of the year, but it’s in the conversation for best match of the decade. While both Almas and Gargano are very good workers in their own right, they seem to create an extra bit of magic every time that they step in the ring with each other. Their chemistry is off the charts. They told a fantastic story that I think will be even better upon re-watch. Many wanted to see Gargano win, but Almas retaining was the right call. We can move onto Black v Almas and Gargano v Ciampa as the two headliners to what looks like an absolutely stacked Takeover: New Orleans show. I can’t wait.

Royal Rumble Review:


A.J. Styles v Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn Match Rating: The Doc 2017.

It is almost impossible to put together a quality match under the handicap stipulation. It often leads to one-sided and boring action. Such was not the case here. A.J. Styles is the best in-ring performer in the WWE today, and it showed. I thought he and Sami were unbelievably good during their time in the ring together, so good that I’d now advocate for Styles and Zayn to main event Fast Lane. I really appreciated the fact that the match went off without any type of interference from Shane and Daniel Bryan. The ending was fluky yet believable. This match worked for me.

The Usos v Gable/Benjamin Match Rating: Skitz.

Man, the WWE really had something good cooking here. The first fall was straight fire. It was an amazing match that could have stood alone in itself. It contained a tremendous amount of near falls including several false finishes that I thought for sure were the end of the match. Unfortunately, a quick roll up out of nowhere immediately after the second fall started wiped away what could have been an all-time classic. I can’t help but think that the WWE was worried about running out of time, and cut the match short as a result. I’m not going to completely crush this match because of how amazing the first fall was, but I think it could have been so much more than it was.

The Men’s Royal Rumble Match Rating: The Doc 2016.

I’ll have to re-watch it before passing final judgment, but I currently feel that this was the best Royal Rumble of all time. It was literally perfect – flawless booking from start to finish. I can’t even begin to do this justice by laying out everything that I loved. This Rumble had an incredibly good flow, was filled with awesome spots, created new superstars, had tremendous surprises and kept us guessing until the very finish. The final six were as good as any closing in any Royal Rumble. I loved that they had “old v new” and couldn’t believe that Roman Reigns and John Cena worked the Big Show/Kane heel spot to put Nakamura over in the biggest way possible. This was everything that the fans were missing from the previous Royal Rumbles. I will do a much more in depth breakdown in the format of my Royal Rumble series at a later date. Bravo to everyone involved.

The Bar v Rollins/Jordan Match Rating: Skitz.

Not much to see here. After the emotional roller coaster that was the men’s Royal Rumble, the crowd needed a cool down. I really enjoyed the subtlety of the Jason Jordan injury story that was told. The WWE did a great job of planting the seeds to a break up without putting forth a major angle that the crowd didn’t have the energy to receive. I’m looking forward to a potential Rollins v Jordan match at Wrestlemania, and I think this was a good step towards that. No complaints on this one, it fit its place on the card well.

Brock Lesnar v Kane v Braun Strowmann Match Rating: Skitz.

Look, I don’t know what people were expecting. This match was never going to be a classic. It was a car crash and that was the reasonable expectation going in. Again, as was the theme with the majority of the undercard, this match did what it needed to do. Braun was booked to be a monster and Kane was there to eat the pin. Braun’s time is coming but it’s not going to be until after Reigns v Lesnar goes down. I have no issues with the booking.

The Women’s Royal Rumble Match Rating: The Doc 2016.

If the Men’s Rumble was the best one of the decade, the Women’s Rumble might just be #2. This was fun from the minute it started until the minute it finished. The WWE did a tremendous job of hiding the lack of depth on the current rosters with perfectly spaced out legends. Every single nostalgic act served its purpose – highlighted by Trish showing that she still has it. Sasha Banks was the star of the match and much like Finn Balor, did a ton of re-establish her credibility. Nia Jax was booked like the monster that she was and most important of all, the right woman won. I really appreciated that the WWE allowed the Rumble match to be about the wrestlers and held off on Rousey’s debut until after the match was over. Rousey is going to be big business for the WWE, but it was a smart idea not to sacrifice this momentous occasion for an outside entity. I have serious concerns about the long term viability of a Women’s Royal Rumble without the heavy reliance on nostalgia, but this year’s version was an A+.

That’s a wrap kids. What’d you think of the two events from the weekend? Sound off below!

Facebook: David Fenichel

Twitter: @FFFightLeague

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