By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Royal Rumble 2019 Kickoff Show
Aired live January 27, 2019 on WWE Network and social media
Phoenix, Arizona at Chase Field
-Jonathan Coachman hosted the show with the first-hour panel of Beth Phoenix, Booker T, and Jerry Lawler. The show was set up in front of a section of fans who faced the set and cheered loudly for the introductions of the panelists.
-The panel noted that Braun Strowman is in the Royal Rumble match. Strowman is replacing the “injured” John Cena.
-Charly Caruso and JBL checked in from the entrance area and focused on the Raw Women’s Championship match.
Powell’s POV: JBL is sporting John Cena’s hairstyle as a tribute to the sidelined legend. Or something like that.
-Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville checked in from backstage. Rose said she’s more than just great hair and a killer body. She said Naomi deserves what she’s done to her. Rose said it’s the perfect night to open doors for his career. Deville said it doesn’t matter what your last name is or how many titles you’ve held. Rose said it’s nice to know that at least one person has her back. “Until she doesn’t,” Deville said.
-Kayla Braxton stood outside the men’s locker room. Drake Maverick emerged and said Akam of AOP is injured. He said Rezar wants to be Raw Tag Champs and so do the Revival. Maverick said Rezar will team with Scott Dawson to face Raw Tag Champions Bobby Roode and Chad Gable on the Kickoff Show.
-The Royal Rumble numbers video debuted after not airing on Raw or Smackdown during the build to the event. 1,010 competitors have been in Rumble matches. Kane has eliminated 43 entrants, which is the record for most eliminations. Braun Strowman has the record for most eliminations in a single Rumble match with 13. Only 26 people have won Royal Rumble matches, and six men have pulled it off twice, while Steve Austin has done it three times. Santino Marella lasted just a second. Rey Mysterio lasted 62:12 to win the Rumble, which is the longest in history for a rumble winner. Daniel Bryan lasted 76:06 in a losing effort in the Greatest Royal Rumble. Sasaha Banks spent 54:46 in the first women’s Rumble match.
-The panel spoke about the women’s Royal Rumble match. Booker claimed Nia Jax was the favorite of the oddsmakers, which is not true. R-Truth and Carmella appeared on the Kickoff Show set. Truth claimed their No. 30 spots in their respective Rumble matches was breaking news. Lawler noted that the stats showed that only three wrestlers have won the Rumble from the 30th spot. He asked if they really thought they would main event WrestleMania. Truth and Carmella said they do simultaneously.
-Footage aired of Alexa Bliss speaking earlier in the day about returning after being sidelined for four months. She said she’s excited. She said she’s coming after a title and it doesn’t matter which one.
-Samoa Joe delivered a sit-down interview about the Rumble. He mentioned Mustafa Ali and getting revenge on Randy Orton for thinking it was a wise idea to RKO him. He spoke about being built perfectly for the Rumble match.
-Footage aired from Raw of Braun Strowman trashing Vince McMahon’s limo and having his title match with Brock Lesnar called off as punishment. They showed Strowman pushing the limo over after Vince left. Plus, footage aired of Finn Balor winning the four-way to replace Strowman in the WWE Universal Championship match against Brock Lesnar. The panel spoke about Lesnar vs. Balor and played up Balor as the underdog. A Lesnar vs. Balor video package aired.
-The focus shifted to Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship. JBL predicted that they would steal the show. Caruso set up a video package on their feud.
-Footage aired from earlier in the day of Bryan delivering a promo from a seat in the crowd. Bryan vented about the Royal Rumble hamburger that is being sold at the event and held it up for the camera. Bryan ended up stomping on the burger.
Powell’s POV: There is a one in 48,519 chance that Bryan was seated in the chair that Dot Net staffer Will Pruett is occupying at the show. Will, is there a smashed burger next to your seat?
-Coachman hyped the WWE Worlds Collide tournament special that will air next weekend on WWE Network.
1. Raw Tag Champions Bobby Roode and Chad Gable vs. Rezar and Scott Dawson (w/Drake Maverick) in a non-title match. Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young were on commentary for the match. Cole said that a win by Rezar and Dawson would put both teams in line for future tag title matches. Dash Wilder did not come out with Dawson.
The heels isolated Gable for a stretch and then Roode took the hot tag and worked over both men. Gable tagged in and joined Roode in performing a moonsault and neckbreaker combo on Dawson, who was pinned…
Bobby Roode and Chad Gable defeated Rezar and Scott Dawson in 6:55.
Powell’s POV: A silly match. I thought idea might be to protect The Revival by not having them lose again, but does it really matter if Dawson was pinned anyway? Does the lack of Wilder at ringside mean he’ll have an embarrassing Rumble match moment or just not appear on the show? What a waste of such a talented tag team.
-JBL and Caruso were talking on the stage when Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush interrupted them. Rush said Lashley is made for the Rumble and he came to WWE to dominate. Lashley posed and then the duo walked off. JBL and Caruso shifted the focus to the Smackdown Women’s Championship match.
-Coachman introduced new panelists Shawn Michaels and David Otunga, who replaced Booker and Lawler for the second hour of the Kickoff Show. Michaels wore an NXT hat along with an NXT t-shirt under a jacket. Michaels spoke about the Rumble match and how it changed from when he won.
Powell’s POV: By the way, the wrestlers are entering via the baseball stadium’s dugout, as noted by Dot Net reader Mike Roth, who is at the show. There’s not an elaborate stage setup for this show.
2. Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the U.S. Championship. The Smackdown team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on the call. Rusev clotheslined Nakamura to ringside and followed him to the floor. Nakamura caught Rusev with a kick from the ring steps and then ran him into the barricade before throwing him back inside the ring. Nakamura threw a knee to the chest of Rusev from the floor.
Later, Nakamura performed a falcon arrow for a near fall. Lana climbed onto the apron and argued with Nakamura. Rusev charged at Nakamura, who moved, causing Rusev to crash into Lana and knock her off the apron. Nakamura performed a Kinshasa to the back of Rusev’s head and then pinned him…
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Rusev in 10:15 to win the U.S. Championship.
Powell’s POV: The usual solid match from Rusev and Nakamura with what I consider to be a surprising title change. Rusev just won the title on the show that was broadcast on Christmas night, so I thought they would keep it on him longer.
-Coachman once again noted that Cena is out of the Rumble due to “injury” and would be replaced by Strowman.
-Nikki Cross delivered a pre-taped promo about how 29 other women would be trapped with her in the women’s Rumble match.
-An NXT Takeover: Phoenix recap video aired. Michaels set up additional footage from after Takeover of Velveteen Dream and Adam Cole confronting Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano. Aleister Black joined them on the stage and then Ricochet came out and they fought. The brawl continued backstage until referees pulled them apart and Triple H told the babyfaces to calm down. Michaels said you have to resolve things like that quicky. He said there’s a big game coming up. He announced the return of Halftime Heat during the Super Bowl with Black, Dream, and Ricochet vs. Ciampa, Gargano, and Cole on WWE Network and social media.
Powell’s POV: I don’t get to watch the Maroon 5 halftime show?!? Seriously, this is cool news and an easy choice given my musical preferences.
3. Buddy Murphy vs. Hideo Itami vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Kalisto in a four-way for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Aiden English were on the call. Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado walked out with Kalisto, but did not accompany him to ringside. Murphy performed a flip dive onto all three opponents at ringside at 7:10. Joseph told viewers that this is what 205 Live is all about.
Late in the match, Murphy and Itami traded punches while the other two were down. Kalisto and Tozawa got up and blasted them both with kicks. A short time later, Kalisto leapt from the top rope and into a big knee from Murphy. Itami set up for his GTS finisher on Murphy, who avoided it. Murphy ended up hitting his finisher on Itami and pinning him…
Buddy Murphy defeated Hideo Itami, Akira Tozawa, and Kalisto in 12:05 to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: Same story, different month. The wrestlers worked their asses off and had a good match, but it never seems to lead to increased interest in 205 Live. On a side note, I can’t believe WWE is still having the play-by-play voice react to big moves by telling viewers that it’s what 205 Live is all about. They’ve been doing that since the brand launched and it’s just repetitive and silly at this point.
-Drew McIntyre delivered a backstage promo. He asked where Dolph Ziggler, Kurt Angle, The Shield, and John Cena were at. He said winning the Rumble isn’t his destiny, it’s a certainty. He said he would ask to face the Universal Champion at WrestleMania and he will win that match too because he’s the king of the Raw jungle.
-The panel discussed the men’s Royal Rumble match.
Powell’s POV: The pre-show was an hour longer than it needed to be, but I did enjoy the commotion of having the panel so close to the live crowd. It made it difficult to hear at times, but it gave the show a livelier vibe than normal.
Join me for live WWE Royal Rumble main show coverage in a separate post on the main page.
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