After one of the stronger Royal Rumbles, from a storytelling standpoint, WWE put on a bit of a stinker on Monday night. As expected, Cody Rhodes opened the show after winning the 2023 Royal Rumble, but his opening spot didn’t hit as intended.
There were a couple of returns (Carmella; glad to see her healthy and Rick Boogs) that were mostly meh, mixed with some awkward mic work.
Here’s a look at the biggest winners in developing their current character direction and excess with the WWE Universe.
After a dominant and historic performance en route to winning the 2023 Women’s Royal Rumble, Ripley delivered a strong solo promo to announce her intentions to challenge Charlotte for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at WrestleMania.
It might have made sense for Ripley to challenge Bianca Belair considering she’s already on Raw and the two women are the most exciting performers in the division. However, it doesn’t seem like the right time for Ripley to collide with Belair. Maybe it will come at Summerslam.
Ripley looks set to win the gold in her next opportunity, and it seems WWE is more inclined to let Charlotte take her over. After all, Charlotte’s legacy is as indestructible as any in history.
Ripley is arguably the WWE Superstar on the most aggressive meteoric rise. After winning The Rumble, Ripley only strengthened further on Raw. It’s a long running program with Beth Phoenix, but it can be handled at Elimination Chamber.
Having Ripley beat Phoenix cleanly in an entertaining match at Elimination Chamber would be the perfect lead-up to a WrestleMania coronation for the Eradicator against Charlotte.
We’ve seen plenty of monstrous wrecking balls like Bronson Reed, but there’s always been something a little special about the former NXT North American Champion.
Reed has top-notch facial expressions, undeniable looks and the kind of in-ring explosiveness that could make him a solid upper-midcard draw. He demolished Dolph Ziggler, one of the greatest sellers of all time, and punched a ticket into the Elimination Chamber with the win.
Reed needs a little extra with his character or the current storyline, but I’d like to see him walk away from the ring with the US title in an upset.
The powerhouse returned from a ruptured Achilles, but his gimmick is about as brash as they come. At some point, Boogs has to turn heel in the most vicious and shocking way imaginable. He probably needs a manager too. There’s a lot of need for a guy who got a pretty healthy chunk of a highly anticipated episode of Raw after the Royal Rumble.
Boogs beat The Miz in an “improvised” match and then was super awkward in a backstage scene with The Street Profits and Elias. Overall, the return didn’t leave anyone wanting more.
Rhodes is probably going to dethrone Roman Reigns at WrestleMania, and that might not be the best idea.
Don’t throw a tantrum; Listen to me. Rhodes’ return from a torn pectoral at the Rumble was no surprise, and his victory was not much of a shock. Leaning more heavily on the strong babyface presence he seems to crave with all his pro wrestling soul, he looks like he’s trying too hard to be worshipped.
Rhodes’ opening promo came off a little gimmicky – even for pro wrestling – and unless there was something wrong with the sound in Tulsa, it didn’t sound like he was getting the kind of pop you’d expect from a guy who seems to have tickets. ending one of the most historic title runs in WWE history.
Is it just me or is anyone else wondering if Cody is really a big enough presence to be WWE’s main babyface?
I’m not sure what happened to the Judgment Day gimmick or what the long term plans were for Edge, but these occasional attacks on the faction he created is getting a little stale.
The I Quit Match with Finn Balor at Extreme Rules in September was fantastic, but there doesn’t seem to be a compelling spot for the Hall-of-Famer yet in the new year.
Ripley is on her way to bigger and better things as she’s easily the Lauryn Hill to Judgment Day’s Fugees. Damian Priest isn’t a big enough star to feud with Edge, and the same can be said for Dominik Mysterio.
We’ve seen Edge vs. Balor, so it’s hard to see where or how WWE will intrigue us with this feud. Edge’s performance on Monday was underwhelming, and that should never be the case for a performer with his resume.
- Seth Rollins def. Chad Gable – Elimination Chamber Qualifier
- Iyo Sky def. Candice LeRae
- Johnny Gargano def. Baron Corbin – Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
- Rick Boog’s def. The Miz
- Bronson Reed def. Dolph Ziggler – Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
- Cody Rhodes def. Find Balor