At the start of the year, Braun Strowman was scheduled to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship. Now, it’s Finn Balor who will attempt to dethrone “The Beast” at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. Is Balor a better opponent for Lesnar than Strowman would have been?
Balor vs. Lesnar is one of many marquee matches at Monday’s Royal Rumble. Daniel Bryan defends the WWE Championship against AJ Styles. Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey faces Sasha Banks. Becky Lynch attempts to regain the SmackDown Women’s Championship from Asuka. And, of course, there are two Royal Rumble matches. With such a stacked card, which match should be the main event?
We’re joined by two new contributors from MPR’s Pipebombs and Headlocks for 2019. Rosie Rude and Sammy G make their NZPWI debut to answer these – and more – pressing questions.
Join us for the return of Gimme Five…
1. Finn Balor will face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at WWE Royal Rumble. Is Balor a better opponent for Lesnar than Braun Strowman would have been?
David Dunn (@david_dunn):
Two of Lesnar’s best matches in recent memory have been against AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan—men much closer in size and style to Finn Balor than Braun Strowman. Balor vs. Lesnar should be every bit as good as either of those. I am 100 per cent on board.
Grady Hooker (@GradyHooker):
He will give a completely different kind of match, for sure. I think it will be pretty similar to the Daniel Bryan match compared to the slower-paced monster-off that Strowman would have had. Better? Let’s wait for after the match.
Mister J (@misterjcomics):
Finn is a better opponent if only because it’s something new. That’s far from the only reason, but at least it shows that sometimes perhaps WWE can do something fresh. Of course, if Lesnar just crushes him, well, forget I said anything.
I’m not sure he is a better opponent per se. However, he is potentially more deserving, having never actually lost his title to begin with. Strowman has had multiple opportunities and thus far has come up empty-handed.
It will be super interesting to see how Brock deals with Balor’s natural speed and agility, which isn’t really something we would see in a battle of the big men. Definitely more fun.
Sammy G (@RealSammyG):
Hell yeah, he is! We saw a different side of Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series 2018 that D-Bry brought out of “The Beast”. I feel that with the recent rise of “The Demon”, he’s a more than worthy contender for the title he technically never lost!
Steve McCleary (@SJMcCleary):
Absolutely. Not only is it a match we haven’t seen before, extending the Braun/Brock program even longer (should they want to) but it takes care of the niggling story issue that Finn never got his title rematch. Match should be fun. And there’s always that one per cent chance that Finn will win.
2. This year’s Royal Rumble is stacked with marquee matches. Which match should go on last?
The main event should be the match with the most anticipation. And when it comes to Royal Rumble, that match is the one that’s the most unpredictable—the 30-Man Royal Rumble Match.
The men’s Royal Rumble. It will be one of the Rumble matches, and I think this year the person you want to stand tall at the end of the pay-per-view is going to be the winner of the men’s match and not Ronda Rousey.
The Rumble itself should go on last, surely?
Last year the women’s Rumble closed the show so I feel it’s fair that this year the men’s one closes the show.
Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles should absolutely go on last. It’s probably going to be one hell of a match and, frankly, I just want to see the WWE Championship main event for once. Just for once. Please.
With all the buzz around the women’s division at the moment, and following the success of last year’s inaugural 30-Woman Royal Rumble, I’d be totally cool with continuing the trend of having the women’s Rumble as the main event for another year.
One of the Rumble matches, whichever has the best ending booked. Hopefully that means the women’s Rumble, with Becky winning.
3. Royal Rumble isn’t the only event this weekend. ROH, WWE NXT, and NJPW also have a number of events around the world. What’s on your watchlist for the upcoming weekend?
Royal Rumble and TakeOver: Phoenix are top priority, but I’ll try to see as much as I can. ROH Road to G1 Supercard in Houston has some interesting matches, and NJPW’s Korakuen Hall events are always fun—especially with Kiwis Bad Luck Fale, Jay White, and Toa Henare on the card.
I am really slack when it comes to watching events but I will catch NXT TakeOver: Phoenix and Royal Rumble live, and then probably catch highlights of the NJPW show.
To be honest, I’m going to be catching up on NXT UK this weekend, (which I think I’m actually enjoying more than NXT itself currently).
I’m not sure I’m going to be able to watch anything live due to work commitments this weekend. However, within the next few days, I’ll watch TakeOver and Royal Rumble.
Royal Rumble is my very favourite pay-per-view so around this time of year I like to go back and watch my favourite Rumbles all over again. I’ll also absolutely be tuning in for NXT TakeOver this weekend. So much going on, so very excited for it all!
NXT TakeOver: Phoenix and Royal Rumble will be my main points of focus, but I’ll be keeping an eye on results from other events also.
I’ll watch TakeOver, and maybe the Worlds Collide special, whenever that drops, but I don’t have time for much else.
4. Andrade and Rey Mysterio thrilled the WWE Universe in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match on SmackDown Live. What’s your favourite match held under 2-out-of-3 Falls?
I stumbled upon this match from Starrcade ’93 last year and I think it’s great: Dustin Rhodes vs. Steve Austin for the WCW United States Championship. Unlike any other 2-out-of-3 Falls Match I’ve ever seen.
I am really bad at remembering older match-ups so I am going to say this one. Rey and Andrade worked hard and had great chemistry. You couldn’t fault that match.
Probably Flair vs. Steamboat at WCW Clash of the Champions VI, with honourable mentions to Santo and Octagon vs. Eddie Guerrero and Love Machine at When Worlds Collide, and any number of old World of Sport and NWA (territorial era) matches I can’t recall right now.
DIY vs. The Revival at NXT TakeOver: Toronto. The drama and story in that match was fantastic!
The 2-out-of-3 Falls Match between Daniel Bryan and Sheamus at Extreme Rules 2012. The way that Bryan concedes the first fall to easily pick up the second in a clever show of strategy really scratches my itch for storytelling in the ring.
Triple H vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at No Way Out 2001. This was the original 3 Stages of Hell Match, with each fall being a different stipulation. Ultimately, Triple H won this brutal match that led to an awesome future match type!
DIY vs. The Revival was pretty darn snazzy, as was Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro. Benoit-Jericho-Angle for the Intercontinental and European titles, while technically not one of these but having two falls, is possibly my favourite. We need more of these matches—gives announcers something to say other than “one fall”.
5. WrestleMania 35 is on the horizon, and with it comes the 2019 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Who are you picking to go into the Hall of Fame this year?
Every year I’m reminded, and then surprised, that Cyndi Lauper is not part of the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. Could 2019 be the year that changes?
Molly Holly, Tommy Dreamer, Dean Malenko, Christian, Vader and then a big headliner like The Undertaker, The Rock or The Big Show… someone who starts with a “the”.
Vader, Undertaker, Jim Neidhart, and Bam Bam Bigelow. If there was any justice, also Chyna, Demolition and Ivan Koloff.
I hear rumours of The Undertaker but knowing that it’s in the New York area, I’d be very happy to see Bam Bam Bigelow inducted.
This may be less of a pick and more of a wish but, Chyna. She was a trailblazer, an icon and an inspiration. She deserves her place in the Hall of Fame as a vital part of the history of women’s wrestling.
I would love to see Goldust and/or Marlena (Terri Runnels) go into the WWE Hall of Fame. A lot of people are throwing around Undertaker’s name for this year, but, I’d save him for 2021—after he hits his “30 Years of The Deadman” milestone next year! Lex Luger, Too Cool, or the New Age Outlaws would be nice to see inducted also.
Undertaker. Jim Neidhart, for sure. Malenko? Norman Smiley? Maybe this’ll finally be Chyna’s year?