WWE Royal Rumble 2024: 4 Things We Hated And 4 Things We Loved

WWE Royal Rumble 2024: 4 Things We Hated And 4 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.’s review of the 2024 WWE Royal Rumble, the show that was definitely sponsored by Slim Jim and has been the entire time, what are you talking about? For a card with only four matches on it, the Rumble was, as always, a momentous affair — 66 wrestlers performed, numerous storylines were advanced, and at least one WrestleMania main event appears to be set. But what did the WINC writing and editorial staff think of the final results?

While we are going to at least touch on every match here, this is not the place to be if you’re after a comprehensive review of all the Rumble’s occurrences. That can be found via our live coverage/results page. This (similar to our Rumble winners and losers feature) is about our opinions, the things we felt strongest about, for better or worse — from Bayley’s big win to Cody Rhodes writing perhaps the penultimate chapter of his story, and everything in between. Here are three things we hated and three things we loved about WWE Royal Rumble 2024.

Loved: Bayley earns her WrestleMania main event

Referee raising Bayley's hand

It finally happened. After entering at number three in Saturday night’s Women’s Royal Rumble match, Bayley went the distance, eliminating Liv Morgan at the end of the bout and earning her place at WWE WrestleMania 40. Not only that, but the broadcast confirmed that the two Rumble winners will occupy the two main event slots, setting Bayley up for the biggest match of her career in just over two months.

Bayley’s victory was well-earned, and fans of the former “Hugger” likely found a great deal of catharsis with her win. Being a Bayley fan isn’t the easiest; her booking hasn’t always felt satisfying for her level of popularity and talent. It felt like this was her year, however, and she’ll now be heading to Philadelphia this April to challenge either for the Women’s World Championship currently held by Rhea Ripley or IYO SKY’s WWE Women’s Championship. There is plenty of storytelling potential in a matchup against SKY, as the two stablemates have had their fair of tension despite remaining partners. On the other hand, a match between Bayley and Ripley would likely tear the house down as well.

Along with offering an exciting outcome, the match had the added benefit of being plenty of fun, taking full advantage of the stipulation with surprise appearances, unexpected eliminations, and some truly big moments. The in-ring showdown between Jade Cargill and Bianca Belair was a highlight, and likely a preview of a future WrestleMania match, but this was Bayley’s night.

Hated: The low stakes of the WWE Universal Championship match

Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman hold up fingers

Saying a Fatal Four-Way match for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship — especially one taking place at the Royal Rumble, WWE’s second-biggest show of the year — has low stakes might sound like a contradiction in terms, but hear me out. On one of the grandest stages in all of professional wrestling, WWE stacked three top guys against one of the longest-reigning champions in the history of wrestling: AJ Styles, LA Knight, and Randy Orton taking on Roman Reigns. So why did a match that would be a rainmaker of a main event on any other premium live event feel so inconsequential?

Because it wasn’t a main event match.

Sure, it was never going to be the main event of the Royal Rumble because that honor is (usually) reserved for the namesake match; that’s obvious. Also, by and large we are no longer in the era in which a world title match has to be the main event. But by booking it as the second match on the card, going on before United States Champion Logan Paul was set to defend a lesser title one-on-one against Kevin Owens, WWE made it obvious to anyone with an ounce of critical thinking skills that there was no chance of Reigns losing the title; it was nothing more than filler.

Make no mistake, it wasn’t a bad match; not by any means. There was some great action throughout, with a predictable surprise appearance from Solo Sikoa at least providing some intrigue. But its placement on the card made its outcome a no-brainer, which took all of the air out of the match in an entertainment medium predicated on the suspension of disbelief.

Loved: Character cohesion

Kevin Owens looks at brass knuckles while next to a fallen Logan Paul

Logan Paul vs. Kevin Owens for the US title was very much the odd match out on this peculiar four-match show. You had two multi-person matches where the winner got a world title shot, another multi-person match for one of those same world titles, and … a random singles midcard championship match? Okay then. But the result was a really fun contest with a finish that made sense from just about every angle.

I was pretty sure Paul was going to beat Owens, just because there’s no way Paul is losing that title before WrestleMania, but I really liked the way they did it here. Paul has been winning lately by having a friend slip him brass knuckles, knocking out his opponent, and hiding the knucks from the ref long enough to get the victory. Now he’s fighting Owens, a babyface with a strong sense of justice, but also a hothead with no impulse control who loves punching people. So how does that play out? Paul tries to hit Owens with the knucks, but Owens catches him, takings the knucks for himself, and smashes Paul in the face with them. But Owens isn’t a devious, experienced brass knuckles user like Paul — he’s just acting in the heat of the moment. So of course, when Owens uses the knucks, the ref catches him and disqualifies him. Absolutely, 100% brilliant. 10/10.

Not only does this keep Paul vs. Owens going forward in what might be Paul’s first real extended feud in WWE, you buy into all of it because it all makes sense. This version of Owens is the same one we’ve seen taking shape since last year’s WrestleMania when he was teaming with Sami Zayn. Paul has been using brass knuckles at least since SummerSlam. Austin Theory and Grayson Waller also got involved, which made use of their recent history with Owens, and even the referee was treated as a consistent character, having learned to keep an eye out for Paul’s tricks, ironically helping him catch KO. It all just works really well together, and it turned a random singles midcard championship match (with a DQ finish, no less!) into one of the highlights of the 2024 Royal Rumble event.

Hated: A lack of nostalgic surprises


Booker T in 2011, Bubba Ray Dudley in 2015, and Edge in 2020 are all examples of incredible nostalgic surprises that have taken place at the Royal Rumble over the years, moments that have become etched in time simply due to the reactions that they created. Surprise appearances are expected in a Rumble match, but in recent years WWE has tended to lean upon “WWE NXT” stars and injured members of the main roster over people from years gone by.

That was the case once again this year, and unfortunately, both matches suffered because of it. Granted, there were some enjoyable surprises tonight, whether that be Naomi and Andrade’s return or seeing Jordynne Grace step through the Forbidden Door. However, there were no big nostalgic returns from people of a different era to lift up the crowd and create that one moment that people would talk about 10 years from now.

The Rumble’s are serious matches because of what’s on the line, but because they last for so long it’s important to have those one-off moments to not only wake the live crowd up, but to break up the match generally. Both matches tonight, but in particular, the men’s could have benefitted from this. Considering the countless wrestlers that WWE has to choose from, it’s hard to imagine it isn’t easy for WWE to make this happen, so it’s just a case of the company not wanting to do it.

While it’s great to see stars like Roxanne Perez get an opportunity to showcase themselves, ultimately they’re not that well known by the larger audience and that is reflected by the quieter reactions when they come out. It’s important to get a balance, and WWE didn’t quite get that right this year. Sprinkle in a couple of stars from the past, and some classic moments could have been created that would have breathed life into each encounter, especially during their mid-match slumps.

Loved: R-Truth is a national treasure

R-Truth and Nia Jax

There is nobody pulling their weight quite like R-Truth.

Regardless of one’s opinion on comedic wrestling segments, R-Truth’s work ethic is undeniable. After making a surprise return to endorse Ruffles at last year’s Survivor Series event, R-Truth has been making his presence known by offering entertaining segments week in and week out. Tonight was no exception, as R-Truth pulled double duty with his appearance in both the women and men’s Royal Rumble matches.

When Truth appeared in the women’s Royal Rumble and ran right past Valhalla, I lost my mind. The thing about R-Truth that puts him a cut above other comedic wrestlers, is that he wholeheartedly believes in what he is doing, despite his antics being so mind-bogglingly irrational. There was genuine confusion on his face when he asked where the men were, as if he didn’t just run past a woman to enter the Royal Rumble.

Some may say that WWE is oversaturated with Truth, and there are some that will claim that his brief inclusion in the women’s match was thoughtless. I think that his women’s Rumble appearance, while not serious nor substantial, was done considerately. Nia Jax was the perfect person to stand up against and eliminate Truth, considering that in 2019, she entered the men’s Royal Rumble match and was famously RKO’d by Randy Orton before being eliminated by Rey Mysterio. Jax and Truth are two people who were in the similar situation of entering in an opposite sex’s Royal Rumble match, so it was a bit of a full circle moment that displayed a level of thought behind Truth’s inclusion. Plus, he didn’t overshadow any of the women by scoring an elimination, so it was a harmless segment that got a great laugh out of me.

Truth’s participation in the men’s Rumble was great. His hot-tag spot with Dominik Mysterio was absolutely hilarious, and Mysterio deserves his flowers as well for going along with it. While Mysterio is not necessarily as serious of a character as others in The Judgment Day, he is still considerably more earnest in his villainy than Truth, so to see him do something so goofy was a nice treat. Truth was unfortunately eliminated only a few minutes later by Damian Priest, but considering the current bad blood and high tensions between the two, it was better Priest than anyone else.

In such a fast-paced industry, it can be hard to keep a character fresh and relevant. For Truth to be just as beloved now as he was ten years ago is great, and it is even more impressive that Truth is able to supplement his comedic skill with in-ring participation, especially considering his age. While he may have missed the chance to headline WrestleMania, he can rest easy tonight knowing that he is a national treasure.

Hated: Pat McAfee is wasting space

Pat McAfee standing up behind a desk

ESPN host, WWE broadcaster, and all-around useful idiot Pat McAfee showed up in the Royal Rumble on Saturday, only to enter the match, survey the competition, and then promptly eliminate himself. It was a deeply unfunny moment and a waste of a Rumble spot.

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This year’s Royal Rumble was subject to a hefty rewrite, as the scheduled return of Brock Lesnar was canceled due to Lesnar’s inferred inclusion in sex trafficking allegations, but rewrites are hollow excuse for the clunky moment. The Rumble was in St. Peterburg, FL, which means the WWE Performance Center is a phonecall away. Oba Femi was a phonecall away, but instead the higher-ups decided to waste a slot on Aaron Rodger’s favorite loudmouth. I have soured on the childlike passion of Pat McAfee.

The Men’s Rumble was already a listless affair before McAfee fouled it up further, and I think this would’ve been easier to forgive if it were in a better match, however, it wasn’t, and so here I stand, furious at having to watch this manchild fail upwards. At least in his matches at WrestleMania, he took a bump or two and gave me something substantial. I want my pound of flesh if he’s going to do his rich-kid fantasy camp act, and McAfee’s appearance gave me nothing.

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