Favorite Non-Rumble Pick: Asuka vs. Becky Lynch (Royal Rumble 2019)
At the time of the 2019 Royal Rumble. the popularity of Becky Lynch was at an all time high and though all signs were pointing to Becky facing Ronda Rousey in the main event of WrestleMania for her Raw Women’s Championship, there was some doubt if she would actually be in that spot as it could’ve just been given solely to the WWE’s golden child Charlotte Flair. The doubt would be expanded upon when Becky wasn’t announced for the Royal Rumble match and instead was placed in a match with Asuka for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. There are a lot of comparisons you can make between Becky’s Royal Rumble 2019 story and Daniel Bryan’s Royal Rumble 2014 story except this time they did the right thing and gave the fans what they wanted as Becky would end up entering and winning the Rumble match.
The match between Asuka and Becky Lynch was a very good match and while the match was going on it felt like either woman could come out as the victor as it was back and forth the entire time. There was one scary spot where Asuka attempts to hit a fisherman suplex off the apron but I believe she loses her footing and they both land very awkwardly. The finish comes when Becky and Asuka trade their finishing holds and both are able to keep escaping before Asuka finally locks in a modified bridging version of the Asuka Lock to win by submission. If the Becky vs Asuka match at this year’s Rumble is as good or better than last year then we are in for one hell of a showdown.
Favorite Rumble Pick: Ric Flair (1992). Since I had the first pick in this draft I had an open field to choose from, but I knew I had better not take any chances, so I went ahead and picked the person that the best Royal Rumble match of all time is centered around and that would be “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Flair’s story in the 1992 Royal Rumble is one of the best ever as not only does he last for over an hour, but he has to face some of the biggest names in the history of wrestling, including some that he had feuded with in the past. Flair worked his butt off the entire time he was in the ring as he was bumping his butt off the entire time and in the end he came out the victor and became the WWE Champion.
Least Favorite Non-Rumble Pick: Mickie James vs. Ashley Massaro (Royal Rumble 2006). This was an obvious least favorite pick as it was a really bad match, but I decided to pick the match for the fact that it was used to further the Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James feud which I enjoyed at the time. The match was built around Mickie being jealous of Ashley because she was too close to Trish Stratus, whom Mickie was obsessed with at the time. Trish Stratus was added to the match as a special referee and the story was whether she was going to stick to calling it down the middle or would she be against Mickie who was making her life a living hell. After a very bad match which Mickie tries to make work, we get Trish calling the match fairly as she counts Ashley’s shoulders to the mat to give Mickie the win.
Least Favorite Rumble Pick: N/A
I don’t really have a least favorite from my Rumble picks as I like all of them.
Defense of My Draft: I finally got the honor of being able to pick first, so with all the non Royal Rumble matches available I knew I had to make the right choice when it came to which match I would choose first because by the time it got back to me the quality of matches would’ve taken a step down. There were four matches I kept going back and forth on for my first pick, but I finally decided on John Cena vs. Umaga from Royal Rumble 2007 because it is one of the best last man standing matches in WWE history that was very violent. It would also be Umaga’s best match in his very short WWE career so I wanted to show some love to a man who doesn’t get enough recognition for how good he was. After I picked the first match it was just a matter of picking what I thought was the next best match available and because I got to pick two matches in a row it was easier to get more of the matches that I wanted.
Rumble Strategy: As far as my strategy for picking people for the Royal Rumble match portion of the draft I wanted to pick a mix of big names who had memorable Royal Rumble performances and some unique names that are personal favorites of mine who I think could’ve had some fun interactions with the big names in the match.
Best Draft Not My Own: Tyler (Non-Rumble Matches) & JT (Rumble Match) I like Tyler’s picks for non Rumble matches, especially the first four matches. The Triple H vs. Cactus Jack Street Fight was very close to being the match that I picked first as it has always been high on the list of my favorite matches and it was the match that solidified the fact that Triple H belonged in the main event scene and was deserving of the role of top heel in the company. Undertaker vs. Rey Mysterio is a very underrated and overlooked David vs. Goliath match. Hardyz vs. MNM is a nice old school southern style tag match which was unique at the time from anything else WWE was doing. Flair vs. McMahon was a bloody brawl that was better than it had any right to be. The rest of Tyler’s lineup after the first four matches is pretty solid as well.
The way I decided on who had the best Rumble Match picks I went down the line and looked at who’s lineup of oddball picks I liked the most, when I say oddball I mean the picks that weren’t featured on everybody’s lineup like Hogan, Michaels, Cena, Taker, etc. I finally decided to pick JT as he had some really cool oddballs like Tajiri, AJ Styles, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, Andre the Giant, etc so that is why he gets my vote for best Rumble Match picks that wasn’t my own.
Favorite Pick: In the non-Rumble match draft, being able to nab the Cactus Jack vs. Triple H Street Fight all-timer is hard to beat. I also love the MNM vs. Hardy Boyz match from 2007 and thought grabbing it in round 3 was good value. In creating my Rumble, I first looked for memorable moments and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s performance in 1997 fit the bill, as did grabbing both Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior from 1990 for their epic showdown.
Least Favorite: Lashley vs. Test from 2007. It was my last pick, so there wasn’t much to choose from.
Defense of My Draft: My non-Rumble draft features an all-timer in Cactus Jack vs. Triple H and value picks with MNM vs. Hardy Boyz, Ric Flair vs. Vince McMahon and decent matches throughout. My Rumble features Stone Cold checking his watch in 1997, the set-up for WrestleMania VI with the Hogan and Warrior showdown from 1990 and fun stuff like Matt Hardy and his Mattitude Followers (MFers) from 2003 and Trish Stratus’ return in 2018. I filled my Rumble with superstars at every spot to the best of my ability, and feel very good about including most major stars in my Rumble.
Rumble Strategy: For the non-Rumble draft, the strategy was fairly straight-forward, pick the best match you can. With the second pick, I was able to adjust my picks to some degree, guessing which one Trent was most likely to pick, since he was the only one picking between my picks half of the time. For the Rumble match, I started by going for the big memorable moments, then moved to filling the match with as many superstars and winners as possible. I also made it a point to watch what spots others had filled. This paid off when everyone filled their #1 and #2 spots early and I was able to hold off until the last rounds and still snag Eddie Guerrero from 2005 at #1 with my last pick. That’s great value.
Best Draft Not My Own: Jacob Williams. This is tough to evaluate for this one, as we basically had two separate drafts, one for non-Rumble matches and then Rumble participants. Looking at both, I think Jacob did the best job of the other drafters. Getting Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit from 2001, Chris Jericho vs. The Rock & the Glamour Girls vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels, as well as Shawn Michaels 1995, Bob Backlund’s 1993 and Diesel’s 1994 Rumble performances was an impressive feat for Jacob.
Favorite pick: AJ Styles vs. John Cena from 2017 was my favorite pick as I believe it is the better match between the two and is one of the best matches in Rumble history. It also has the historical value of possibly being John Cena’s last world title win, which also tied him with Ric Flair at 16 world titles. My favorite Rumble entrant pick was Shawn Michaels at 18 from 1996. I just really love this Rumble performance as he eliminated 8 people, two of which were Yokozuna and Vader simultaneously, and won the match by hitting Sweet Chin Music on Diesel. A perfect ending to a Rumble in my eyes
Least Favorite Pick: My least favorite pick is Eddie Guerrero vs. Chavo Guerrero because…..fuck Chavo. But really it was just kind of a bland match between two competitors that are actually very talented. Least favorite Rumble entrant was RVD at 12 in 2003. While I was glad to get RVD, his performance in this specific rumble wasn’t all that impressive because he only had one elimination and didn’t last all that wrong. I will also say 12 isn’t a number that has produced much in Rumble history.
Defense of My Draft: With the Royal Rumble match taking up much of these event on most years, you really have to rely on a lot of title matches and do your best to get the best of those title matches. Getting Cena-Styles was a big deal for me as I love that match, but getting solid IC title matches like Ambrose-Owens and Jannetty-Michaels is something I was very happ with.
Rumble Strategy: When I came to picking my entrants for the Rumble, I decided to take a bit of a different approach from everyone else as I picked my entrants pretty much in order from 1 to 30 with a few variances. When deciding on who to pick I obviously looked for people who have won the match or finished runner up at first. Front there I looked at how many eliminations they were able to achieve and how long they were able to last in their respective matches. Overall I am very proud of my Rumble.
Best Draft Not My Own: The best draft of matches that wasn’t mine belong to Mr. Rozzero. His first four picks are all very good to great matches and I’m a big fan of that Hardyz-Dudleys tables match so I would have to go with JT on this one. And while I truly do believe I had the best Rumble entrant draft, I’ll also give that one to Neil.
Favorite Pick: I am never shy about my love for the Hart Brothers vs. Quebecers. I love the match plus the memories of being there live and would have definitely been sad to miss out.
Least Favorite Pick: I really don’t have one. I guess the AAA six man from 1997, but whatever at that point.
Defense of My Draft: Picking from the fourth slot in this one made things a little tricky but I was happy with my first pick. On the way back, landing a great tag match with an all time Rumble moment worked out well. I also love my balance between match quality and moments (like Piper murdering The Mountie or Virgil declaring his freedom). I feel I have quality match depth on a PPV not known for its vast match catalogue. I also felt like I avoided anything truly bad (there are a lot of stinkers out there) as even my last pick is short and watchable. I KICKED ALL MY COMPETITIONS’ LEGS OUT OF THEIR LEGS!
Rumble Strategy: Best available every time. I really focused on star power and I think the top half of my Rumble is completely loaded, all time Rumble match potential. Oh, and the back end ain’t so bad either… closing out with the greatest Rumble surprise of all time is pretty sweet.
Best Draft Not My Own: I like Steve Riddle’s undercard paired with Logan Crosland’s Rumble. That would be a great card.
Favorite Pick: I have to go with my first pick, Rick Rude vs. Ricky Steamboat from 1988. I realize it’s an odd pick but I had watched it recently and really enjoyed it.
Least Favorite Pick: My least favorite pick was probably The Bella Twins vs. Paige and Natalya from 2015. Nothing against any of them really, I’m just not a huge fan of them…well, except for Paige but that’s for non-wrestling reasons. ANYWAY, I wanted to have a bit more female representation on my list so here we are.
Defense of My Draft: This was really difficult for me, having not watched a ton of Rumbles. So I relied on research quite a bit. I tried to pick matches that involved wrestlers who I enjoy and also seemed to have a decent enough star rating according to those who write about such things.
Rumble Strategy: Again, research was key here (thanks Wiki!) but it was tedious as fuck. I knew I wanted to include Drew Carey at #5 from 2001 because I thought that was fun. I liked the idea of Triple H at #1 and Vince as #2. And Kofi is a must, of course. Throw in others like Doink, Big Daddy V and Hercules, and I feel like that’s a unique match!
Best Draft Not My Own: Seemed like Jake picked up a lot of great matches so I will give the nod to him!
Favorite Pick: I really liked that I could pick up Glamour Girls vs. Jumping Bomb Angels. Even if it isn’t their best match, it’s still an awesome, unique match to have on my roster.
Least Favorite: Swagger vs. Hardy, though a decent enough match, is completely forgettable, and I likely could have picked up a more interesting match in that spot.
Defense of Draft: Since the Royal Rumble hasn’t necessarily been known for tons of great matches due to most of the focus being on the titular match, I tried to grab some unique matches, and as always, mix it up with some variety of wrestlers and eras.
Rumble Strategy: I set out to draft the ultimate “workrate” rumble. I sacrificed some in terms of star power, and I didn’t necessarily get everybody in their prime, but everybody in my rumble can just wrestle. Even guys that might be viewed as more of a novelty like Backlund are still great wrestlers. This rumble would be free of the dead spots that plaque many rumbles and surely be a banger.
Best Draft Not My Own: Steve Riddle had the best draft, mainly due to his top three picks. I have a soft spot for the Rock and Mankind “I Quit” match, and the Intercontinental ladder match really holds up.
Favorite Picks: The fact that I was able to snag Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt with the 10th overall pick was tremendous because I believe that match is one of the best openers in not just Rumble history, but in WWE PPV history as well. It is Wyatt’s coming out party as a potential star and it begins possibly one of the most memorable stretches in history for Bryan, and on a show that is not fondly remembered this match was a great start to it. In terms of the Rumble match itself, I would argue that I grabbed perhaps the greatest performance ever in Kane from 2001, and being able to grab that first was a major plus in what ended up being a pretty loaded Rumble.
Least Favorite Picks: In terms of the matches, I will go with my final pick of Michelle McCool vs. Mickie James not for the fact that it was bad even though it was pretty much a squash which it should’ve been given what Mickie had gone through thanks to Lay-Cool. The issue was that Michelle quickly won the title back a few weeks later and Mickie never got her full comeuppance, so that hurts it a bit plus by this point there were few Women’s matches to choose from and this felt like the best of the worst. For the Rumble match itself, I would pick Damien Sandow from 2013 in that my original #20 pick was taken before I could get it, and the #20 spot overall is not known for memorable entrants and this was just the best of the worst though it was a pretty bland performance.
Defense of My Draft/Rumble Strategy: This is an interesting PPV because obviously the hook for it is the Royal Rumble match itself, so most of the time the undercard takes a bit of a hit since the Rumble usually features the top stars. But as we have seen over the years, there are some epic matches that do take place and being able to grab Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho along with Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt was a huge plus. After that, it is basically filling out the undercard with solid matches and having the 6-man from 1989, Big Bossman vs. Barbarian, Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor, and the 6-Way Cruiserweight Open from 2006 helps that, and I even have one of the most memorable matches for all the wrong reasons in Triple H vs. Scott Steiner. I terms of drafting the Rumble match itself, I wanted to get some strong performances which I thought I did with Kane from 2001, Roman Reigns from 2014, and CM Punk from 2011. Add in some big star power throughout the years and I feel that I have one of the more balanced Rumble matches of anyone in the draft.
Best Draft Not My Own: When it comes to the non-Rumble matches, I have to give the nod to Trent as I think that John Cena vs. Umaga is up there as one of the greatest matches in Rumble history and that was a worthy number one pick. He then balanced out his card with some solid matches including one of my favorite matches seen live in Asuka vs. Becky Lynch, and even some of his lower tier matches were still fun. In terms of the Rumble match itself, while I want badly to go with Jennifer due to the unique group of competitors she chose, I will go with Neil as he certainly has the highest amount of Rumble winners in his match. He did balance that out with plenty of star power and solid performances, so as a result his Rumble is probably one of the best aside from my own of course.
Favorite Pick: Kurt Angle vs. Mark Henry in the 12th round felt like a good value pick for a main event that was actually a lot of fun. Imagine 06 Angle vs. Mark Henry during his early 10’s monster world champion run? While I have absolutely no desire to go back and find out for sure, Orton vs. Sheamus from 2010 feels like it HAD to be worth more than a 14th round pick so I had value there. I am a huge mark for the overbooked insanity of Undertaker vs. Yokozuna so I’m thrilled that I got it (and shocked Jenny didn’t take it in the first round.) But overall my favorite pick has to be Rockers vs. Orients. One of my all time favorite tag team sprints. Might have been a reach where I took it but I was kind of hamstrung by having the last pick.
Least Favorite Pick: I love the Tazz debut at MSG but I majorly reached for it at 5. It’s a fun angle (no pun intended) but it’s not THAT good.
Defense of My Draft: Don’t blame the rules but having the last picked sucked in this draft because, as it turns out, the Rumble does not have a lot of truly great matches. Once the HHH/Cactuses and Benoit/Angles are gone, there’s a whole heaping helping of useless Bushwhackers matches and totally unmemorable 2000’s midcard fueds. Despite this, I did my best with a really fun Bret/Diesel match (until the shit finish), and some enjoyable, if forgetable, midcard stuff like Razor/IRS. And speaking of Razor, his title match with Bret in 1993 was a great match even if nobody remembers it from an awful card.
Rumble Strategy: Here’s where I think I shined. I didn’t do the math, but I’m reasonably certain nobody has as many actual Rumble winners as me. Duggan 88, Studd 89, Lex co-94, Austin 98, Orton 09, Edge 10, Sheamus 12, Cena 13, Batista 14, Triple H 16, Nakamura and Asuka 18 are all in my match. Plus, I sprinkled in other big stars with good runs in the match like Hogan 92, Undertaker 93, Punk 14, and Jericho 03. I have Rikishi’s big run early in the 2000 match, perennial Rumble stars Shawn Michaels and Kane, and the man with the most preposterously memorable spot in Rumble history: Maven 02.
Best Draft Not My Own: It’s so hard to judge the Rumble picks themselves, but something about Logan’s draft jumped out at me. By virtue of having one of my all time favorite matches as his number one pick (Triple H vs. Cactus Jack) I’ll give the nod on matches to Tyler Kelley. I’m still bummed nobody could take an all-Kane Rumble.