Greetings grapple fans! This is (to my knowledge) the first article about the great pseudo-sport known as Professional Wrestling to be printed in the UCC Express in its near-20 years in print. And though it is 2016 I feel almost obliged to start this article with the following words: wrestling isn’t real. You may think it ridiculous that that needed to be stated, but if it wasn’t I couldn’t imagine the torrent of emails that would flood our Editor’s email accounts & social media about this taking a spot in the sports section.
Last Sunday World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) held its annual Royal Rumble extravaganza, a show main evented by the eponymous 30-man over-the-top-rope elimination Battle Royale. The last two Royal Rumble matches have been marred by disgruntled fans, both at home and present in the live crowd, expressing their displeasure that fan-favourite Daniel Bryan had either been easily eliminated or not in the match at all, in favour of Dave Batista (who famously played ‘Drax the Destroyer’ in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie) & hansy Somoan Roman Reigns.
Even before the show began fans openly expressed their displeasure with the show, with some opting to boycott watching the show entirely. Indeed, rumours were widely circulated that Daniel Bryan had not been medically cleared because of his ability to spoil the company’s plans, and not because of the large amount of concussions he has suffered over his near-20 year career inside the squared circle.
On the other side of the rumour mill was the reported signings of Bullet Club members AJ Styles (formerly of TNA & ROH), Karl Anderson & DOC Gallows (formerly Festus & Luke Gallows in WWE) and Shinsuke Nakamura from New Japan Pro Wrestling to WWE. The news broke the day following January 4th’s massive ‘Wrestle Kingdom 10’ show that the four men had been signed, with the signings of Nakamura & Styles confirmed in the intervening weeks. Gallows & Anderson, it is assumed, are to report to NXT, WWE’s Developmental territory, to assist former stablemate & Irishman Finn Bálor (formerly ‘Prince’ Fergal Devitt in NJPW) in an angle related to that of the Bullet Club’s founding. Nakamura is expected to report to NXT to learn WWE’s production style, but isn’t expected to last long there due to the high cost of his contract. The major rumour leading into the ‘Rumble was this: what role would AJ Styles play?
The answer is a big one. He entered the Rumble at number three to a huge pop, with various AJ Styles chants throughout.
This Rumble was unique in that the winner would win theWWE World Heavyweight Title itself as opposed to a shot at the belt at the annual extravaganza that is Wrestlemania. Also unlike other years the match was devoid of any past heroes & villains, despite rumours of a Papa Shango comeback…
The match was booked rather well, with the match setting up matches at ‘Mania, including Bray Wyatt v Brock Lesnar and Sami Zayn v Kevin Owens. The match finished with Triple H getting his revenge on Roman Reigns, dumping him over the top rope & quickly dispatching of Dean Ambrose for his 14th World Title. At the time of writing it is assumed that this is leading to Triple H v Roman Reigns in the main event of Wrestlemania in Dallas TX.
Mark Henry & Jack Swagger def. Damien Sandow & Darren Young, The Dudley Boyz and The Ascension*
Dean Ambrose (c) def. Kevin Owens – Intercontinental Title
New Day (c) def. The Usos – Tag Titles
Kalisto def. Alberto Del Rio (c) – US Title
Charlotte (c) def. Becky Lynch – Divas Title
Triple H def. WWE Roster – WWE WHC Title
(*Pre-show Main Event)