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    Tuesday, February 2, 2021

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Royal Rumble 2021

    Edge and AJ Styles in WWE Royal Rumble 2021

    Someone, somewhere in the WWE is doing something good. In the middle of a frustrating and exhausting pandemic, we're still getting some satisfying feel-good wins, like we did at this year's Royal Rumble. I don't know who to thank—did Vince McMahon finally realize he had to listen to the people? Did he start listening to his lieutenants more? Is Bruce Prichard finally humbled? 

    We'll never know, but whatever they're doing right now with regard to the big picture, it seems to be working.

    The women's Royal Rumble match leans in heavily on the power of youth, but to be fair, the women's division across both brands is set up well enough, already focusing on a lot of young talent. The only thing they had to do was pick which deserving young woman was going to win the Rumble match and get to the main event of WrestleMania, and they picked well—Bianca Belair had been dazzling the WWE Universe with her impressive physical feats since she was drafted to the show last October. 

    Rhea Ripley's time will come, too. If anything, the women's division has a good problem on their hands; a lot of people could've ideally been the last woman standing, but there could only be one.

    Speaking of things that could have gone many different ways, the men's Royal Rumble match may not have ended in a win that elevated a deserving younger talent, but going for the miracle narrative with an Edge win wasn't bad either. I can already see how the decision to go with him would be unpopular with a good number of fans, but there's a built-in story right here that stretches back to his original return last year. And honestly, it could've gone to a worse legend.

    The "legend spots" were used well, too—Carlito, the Hurricane, Edge, and a really surprising Christian were guys who could still go, not purely names who were just names.

    One last thing about the men's Rumble: fans are already pointing out how the average age of the talent in the match was around 38 years old. Look, the WWE has a problem with pushing deserving up-and-coming talent, but pointing out the numerical age of wrestlers is meaningless and irrelevant to the argument. It takes longer than many realize to be ready for the WWE, let alone its main roster, which sees a lot of the wrestlers fans want pushed end up being older than they realize. The guys I get behind? A lot of them are well in their 30s, and I know that's because they've been gathering experience for years

    That's just the way it is in this business—TV-ready wrestlers in their 20s like Tyler Bate, Pete Dunne, Brock Lesnar, and Kazuchika Okada are prodigies and should be treated as anomalies. You'll also notice that those guys tend to skew toward the mid-to-late 20s. You want to complain about WWE falling back to their stars from the previous generation, that's completely valid. But the year on their identification's got nothing to do with it exactly because the system's fucked up (at least, in the WWE's case). Or at the very least, because of the natural fact that you need experience, and experience takes time.

    On the whole, this year's Royal Rumble event feels like the only four-hour PPV that's truly earned its length, even more so than WrestleMania. They kept the card simple as possible, having only three other undercard matches, but when you've got two Royal Rumble matches (which both needed to happen) you've got no choice but to go four hours. The thing is it doesn't feel like too much at all, which is exactly what you need to feel during a long show. I'd like to see this be the blueprint for future Rumble events. 

    Royal Rumble 2021 Rating: A

    Match of the Night

    24/7 Championship shenanigans aside—which did see them give the title to Alicia Fox—the women's Royal Rumble match slightly edged out the men's when it came to being the better outing, and I'd like to think it's because the women worked a little harder. It's pretty satisfying, all the way to the end.

    Photo from WWE

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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Royal Rumble 2021 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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