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
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
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
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.