By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Royal Rumble Kickoff Show
Aired live January 31, 2021 on WWE Network and social media
Tampa, Florida at Tropicana Field
-The Kickoff Show was hosted by Charly Caruso from a desk on the usual spot on the main floor. She was joined by the panel of Jerry Lawler, Booker T, JBL, and Peter Rosenberg. They ran through the card and listed Asuka and Charlotte Flair vs. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles as the Kickoff Show match.
-A video package spotlighted the WWE Championship match between Drew McIntyre and Goldberg. Lawler said McIntyre will regret telling Goldberg that fighting him will be like fighting his own father. Rosenberg questioned whether Goldberg deserves the title shot. Booker said that he would like it if he were a promoter because of Goldberg’s star power.
-Carmella was shown in her dressing room. Reginald showed up. Carmella said the best way to throw Sasha Banks off of her game is to use her massive ego against her.
-The panel discussed the Banks vs. Carmella match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Sonya Deville joined the panel in place of Rosenberg. She said Banks isn’t the only Boss in town. Deville predicted a Carmella win. Lawler said Reginald will be the ace in the hole. Deville checked out.
-A Bianca Belair video package aired. It featured footage from her WWE Chronicle special that preceded the Kickoff Show (coincidence?).
-The panel chatted about the women’s Royal Rumble match. Rosenberg said the Vegas odds are on Belair for a reason. Caruso set up footage of Natalya talking on Instagram about being the 30th entrant in the Royal Rumble. Natalya said she would stand alone in the ring and would go to WrestleMania “and there’s not a damn thing that anybody can do about it.”
-A video package showcased the Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens feud to set up their Last Man Standing match for the WWE Universal Championship. JBL said Reigns has Owens’ number. Rosenberg made a case for Owens.
-WWE 24/7 Champion R-Truth crashed the set, as has become the norm on the Kickoff Shows. Truth was dressed like Elmer Fudd and said he was hunting rabbits due to Booker T’s friend singing at the Rumble. Booker told him that he had the wrong rabbit, and Bad Bunny would be performing, not Bugs Bunny. “That’s all, folks,” Truth said after being corrected.
Powell’s POV: I’m not a big fan of Truth’s comedy, but I did get a kick out of that bit.
1. Asuka and Charlotte Flair vs. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles. The Raw broadcast team of Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and Samoa Joe were on the call. Prior the match, Sarah Schreiber interviewed Asuka and Flair backstage. Flair downplayed the distraction of her father and Lacey Evans, Asuka said their opponents are not ready for them. Asuka made her entrance while Flair oddly stared ahead.
The WrestleMania sign is hanging in its usual location (it appears to be the same sign or same design as last year). Asuka was isolated by the heels for a stretch. Asuka came back with a couple of spinning back fists on Jax. Asuka hit a Codebreaker on Jax moments later and covered her for a two count, then sold an arm injury from earlier in the match.
Jax cut off Asuka on the ropes, but Asuka slid underneath her and powerbombed her into the ring. Asuka went for the pin, but Baszler broke it up. Asuka threw kicks at Jax, who scooped her up and dropped her with a sit-out powerbomb. Jax covered Asuka, but Flair broke up the pin. Asuka made the hot tag while Baszler tagged into the match.
Flair worked over Baszler with chops and a fallaway slam. Jax ran in to help, but Flair ended up performing a double Natural Selection on both opponents and then covered Baszler for a two count. Flair went up top, but Jax distracted her and then Baszler pulled her down. Jax hoisted up Flair, then Baszler tagged in, and Jax performed a Samoan Drop. Baszler blasted Flair with a knee to the head and then covered her for a two count.
Asuka leapt off the ring steps and hit Jax with a Hip Attack at ringside. Baszler tossed Asuka over the broadcast table. Flair went up top and performed a moonsault onto Jax and Baszler. Flair rolled Baszler back inside the ring. Ric Flair’s entrance music played and he strutted onto the stage. Baszler rolled up a distracted Charlotte for a two count. Charlotte came right back and applied a Figure 8, but Lacey Evans pulled Baszler to the ropes.
Baszler went for her Kirifuda Clutch finisher. Ric passed Evans an object. Flair applied the Figure 8 again, but Evans tagged her with a Woman’s Right from the floor. Jax performed a leg drop on Flair that led to the pin…
Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax defeated Asuka and Charlotte Flair in 10:30 to win the WWE Women’s Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match once they got through the slow first few minutes. I like the title change, as Asuka is the Raw Women’s Champion and Charlotte is feuding with Evans and her father, so they don’t need the tag titles. Not that it was necessary, but they made sure to establish that Charlotte was on the verge of winning twice had it not been for Evans interfering.
-The Royal Rumble numbers video aired.
-The panel spoke about their favorite Royal Rumble moments to close the show. Lawler spoke about how he loves surprises. Rosenberg spoke about Edge returning and how big things have been for Drew McIntyre and MVP since last year. Booker spoke about career making moments. JBL praised Road Dogg for clutching the bottom rope for nearly 20 minutes in a Rumble match. Caruso wrapped up the Kickoff Show and noted that the WWE Championship match would open the main card. Goldberg’s locker room door was shown as the Kickoff Show concluded.
Join me for my live review of the WWE Royal Rumble main card in a separate story on the main page.