By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Royal Rumble 2020 Kickoff Show
Aired live January 26, 2020 on WWE Network and social media
Houston, Texas at Minute Maid Park
-Jonathan Coachman was the host for the Kickoff Show. He was joined by the panel of Charly Caruso, Christian, and David Otunga at their desk on the main floor of the stadium.
-In a shocking development, the Sheamus vs. Shorty G match was announced for the Kickoff Show. The U.S. Title match featuring Andrade and Humberto Carrillo will also be on the Kickoff Show.
-Renee Young, Booker T, and Sam Roberts checked in from the entrance aisle.
-The Royal Rumble by the numbers video aired.
-Natalya joined the main panel at the desk and spoke about believing that she will win the Rumble match. She said she hasn’t faced Bayley and would like to do so in a singles match at WrestleMania.
-A video package aired on the Becky Lynch vs. Asuka feud. The panel discussed the Raw Women’s Championship match.
-“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan feud was chronicled in a video package. Young, Booker, and Roberts discussed the match, then the main panel also chimed in on the WWE Universal Championship match.
-A corndog ad aired featuring Lacey Evans. Her daughter and Corey Graves were also included. The panel acknowledged the ad and then discussed the Smackdown Women’s Championship match while footage of the Bayley vs. Evans feud was shown.
-Bayley was shown walking backstage when Kayla Braxton popped up out of nowhere with a mic. Bayley said she gets that Evans is a mom, a Marine, and wants to show people that dreams come true. She said the last part sounds familiar. She said she’d been there and done that, and would show Evans that her dream was not coming true. Bayley said she hoped that Evans’ “little brat daughter” would be seated in the front row so that she could see it firsthand.
1. Sheamus vs. Shorty G. The Smackdown broadcast team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves were on commentary at ringside. Both men said the Rumble is their favorite WWE event of the year. G started the match by going for a single-leg takedown, but Sheamus stuffed it.
A short time later, G performed a running cross body block that sent both men to ringside. Sheamus quickly regrouped with some forearms. They returned to the ring where G rolled up Sheamus for a two count. G went for the ankle lock, but Sheamus kicked him off and then ran him through the ropes and shoulder-first into the ring post. Sheamus performed a shoulder breaker.
Shorty was bleeding from the ear, which Cole acknowledged on commentary. They cut to a split-screen ad for the Rumble (just in case you were somehow unaware of the event despite watching the Rumble Kickoff Show).
Sheamus delivered his ten forearms to G in the ring, then delivered more at ringside. Sheamus rolled G back inside the ring, climbed on the apron, and asked the crowd, “Are you not entertained?” Sheamus told G that he was a runt who didn’t belong in the ring. G fired a chip to the chest, two slaps to the face, and then hit Sheamus with a couple of forearms.
G caught Sheamus with a dropkick to the knee to knock him off his feet. G went for a moonsault onto a standing Sheamus, who caught him. G ended up performing a DDT. G performed another moonsault and got a two count. G performed his roll into a German suplex for another near fall.
Sheamus came back briefly and went for a move from the top, but G avoided it and then applied an ankle lock. Sheamus escaped and went for a Brogue Kick, but G ducked it and reapplied the ankle lock, which Sheamus broke by reaching the bottom rope. G caught Sheamus with a crucifix rollup for a near fall. When both men got up, Sheamus blasted G with a Brogue Kick and then pinned him…
Sheamus defeated Shorty G in 12:35.
Powell’s POV: A well worked and solid opening match. I don’t know when Chad Gable’s contract expires, but he’s such a talented guy that it’s hard not to hope that he goes anywhere else so that he won’t be saddled with this awful name. Yes, I’ve mentioned that before and I’ll surely mention it again. I just can’t get over how awful his gimmick is.
-Cole and the panel spoke about the match. Caruso said Sheamus doesn’t seem to age. Coachman reset the show at the top of the second hour. The hosts ran through the main card lineup again. Caruso noted that the Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin falls count anywhere match will open the main show.
2. Andrade (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Humberto Carrillo for the U.S. Championship. Tom Phillips and Jerry Lawler were on commentary. Andrade was in offensive control two minutes into the match when they cut to another split-screen ad for the Rumble event. in the ring, Andrade performed a tornado DDT for a near fall. Andrade targeted the left arm of Carrillo.
Carrillo came back and went for a roll into a standing moonsault, but Andrade put his knees up. A short time later, Carrillo connected with a moonsault onto Andrade at ringside. Andrade came back with a Three Amigos attempt, but Carrillo blocked the third suplex and performed one on Andrade. Andrade came right back by throwing Carrillointo the corner. Andrade performed double knees in the corner and then got a near fall at 9:20.
Andrade set up for his hammerlock DDT finisher, but Carrillo countered into an inside cradle for a two count. The wrestlers exchanged forearms and chops. Carrillo caught a charging Andrade with a superkick and covered him for a near fall. A short time later, both men were on the ropes when Carrillo performed a huracanrana that led to another near fall at 13:20. In the end, Andrade rolled through a huracanrana and scored the pin
Andrade defeated Humberto Carrillo in 14:20 to retain the U.S. Championship.
Powell’s POV: Good work from both men. The crowd was attentive, but there was something missing because the build to the match was uninspired.
After some ads, Young, Booker, and Roberts spoke about the men’s Royal Rumble match. Roberts was making his case for Brock Lesnar winning the Rumble when he was interrupted by R-Truth, who said he was going to the ring for the Royal Rumble match. Truth asked Young, Booker, and Roberts if they were in the Rumble. Booker said they were working.
Roberts recalled Truth saying that he wasn’t going to be in the Rumble match. Truth recalled un-declaring himself from the match on Raw. Truth did his bit where he spoke about John Cena being his childhood hero. Roberts asked how Cena could have been his childhood hero. Young said she didn’t think the Rumble match was in the cards for Truth. He said they have his number.
-The main panel checked in from the desk and set up the numbers video (again).
-Charlotte Flair was interviewed on a backstage interview set by Sarah Schreiber. She said she obsessed over last year’s Rumble match, but she feels differently this year. She said she sees the other 29 entrants as numbers, whereas they will see the Queen.
-Coachman ran through the rules of the match and noted that new entrants will enter every 90 seconds rather than two minutes. Christian said the Rumble match is a life changing event.
-Young, Booker, and Roberts checked in from the entrance aisle again. She asked Booker what it’s like to make the walk to the ring for the Rumble match. Booker spoke about coming out in 2011 and said the pop like the Road Warriors in 1987. He labeled it his shucky, ducky, quack, quack moment of the night. The fans chanted for Booker, who played to the fans. Roberts recalled Vince McMahon talking the same walk down the aisle that they were and blowing out both of his quads. Booker told the Rumble match entrants to enjoy the moment and take it all in as they head to the ring.
-The panel spoke more about the Rumble match and Lesnar being the first entrant. Coachman set up a video package that recapped the WWE Worlds Collide event from Saturday night (my full review is available). Christian mentioned Walter as a candidate to surprise and eliminate Lesnar. They also recapped the dog food angle with King Corbin and Roman Reigns. Christian pointed out the obvious regarding the possibility of Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler getting involved due to the Falls Count Anywhere stipulation. The hosts continued to babble and played another video package.
-Kofi Kingston was interviewed by Kayla Braxton on a backstage interview set. He said played up the Rumble as being the most exciting time of the year because it’s a one-way ticket to WrestleMania. She asked if he knows what number he has. Kingston said he couldn’t say because he didn’t know. Kingston said he and Big E have talked strategy and would work as a team in the match. If it comes down to the two of them, then ring the bell because New Day has already won.
-The hosts continued to talk about the Rumble matches. Christian predicted Brock Lesnar and Natalya wins, and Otunga went with Braun Strowman and Charlotte Flair.
Join me for live coverage of the Royal Rumble main card in a separate post on the main page.