Every January, WWE hosts arguably the second biggest event of the wrestling calendar when they produce the Royal Rumble. The event has become synonymous with surprise returns, big debuts and setting the table for Wrestlemania a few months later. Since 1993 the winner of the rumble has earned the right to be in the main event of Wrestlemania, but often the eliminations of major superstars start significant programmes in motion. The 2020 edition has been no exception, with some major surprises, and the elevation of superstars into the main event picture.
The men’s rumble match had an unusual feel to it, with the match in two halves. The first section was all Brock Lesnar as the WWE Champion dominated, eliminating superstar after superstar until his eventual elimination. The second half was a different story with more fun moments and the shocking return of Edge after almost a decade of retirement. It was a truly emotional moment, and the “Rated R Superstar” looked at a career-best in his return. The emotion in Edge's eyes told quite the story, as did the enormous pop from the assembled crowd. The whole bout was structured perfectly and delivered big in general terms. As rumble matches go, it was one of the better bouts in recent years, perhaps only matched by the 2018 edition for both a fresh winner and a fun ending.
The women’s rumble was perhaps not as well laid out as the men’s match and the lack of genuine surprises let the whole match down somewhat. It was far from bad per se, but without the momentum and big moments it didn’t quite match up the male offering. The ending was also a bit of an anti-climax as the winner was not the expected choice. It's a shame because the past two women's rumble matches have been really quite memorable and this lacked the spark that any great rumble needs.
The remainder of the card was mostly pretty enjoyable without ever creating anything truly memorable. Roman Reigns vs Baron Corbin was a creatively executed, chaotic brawl which made use of the unique aesthetic of the baseball stadium. Bayley vs Lacey Evans was easily the worst match on the show and Evans belongs nowhere near this level just yet, nor does her character work particularly well as a babyface. Becky Lynch vs Asuka was a good match taking place in front of a crowd suffering from fatigue after the women’s rumble. Finally, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt took on Daniel Bryan in a very physical, but highly entertaining strap match that on reflection was almost certainly the high point of Wyatt’s Universal title reign from an in-ring perspective.
Royal Rumble 2020 will ultimately be remembered as a one-match show. The Men’s rumble was a thing of beauty, but everything else on this show was instantly forgettable, even the matches that were actually good. Compared to the average WWE PPV this was excellent, and it set the table for the big Wrestlemania programmes which is exactly what the first step on the "Road to Wrestlemania" should do. It's just a shame there weren't more memorable moments along the way.
EXTRAS: A decent selection of extras including the pre-show featuring Sheamus vs Shorty G, and Humberto Carrillo vs Andrade, as well as a few segments from Raw and Smackdown in the lead up to the event.