With a total of 60 superstars making an appearance in this year’s Royal Rumble matches, it’s hard to narrow it down to just five names that went above and beyond to deliver on the hype that comes around this time of year. The 2019 edition gave us some incredible performances from superstars that were out to make a name for themselves.
Here’s hoping that there are good things waiting for these lads and ladies during this year’s Road to WrestleMania. After Sunday night, it’s hard to deny that they’d make for a very intriguing bunch to be included on this year’s card. Here are our top 5 performances from the 2019 Royal Rumble event (apart from the winners).
Honourable Mention – Nia Jax
Nia has been a source of controversy for the latter part of 2018, and it seems that’s set to continue into 2019. The talking point coming out of the men’s Rumble was that Nia Jax was the last confirmed entrant, stealing the #30 spot from R-Truth. It was absolutely no surprise to me to see R-Truth be blindsided before he had a chance to do his cute little ‘my bad’ skit, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be at the hands of Nia, who had already competed in the women’s Rumble match earlier on in the evening.
Nia definitely made an impact as part of the men’s match, picking up an elimination in the form of Mustafa Ali and getting to have a showdown with Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton. Whether you’re a fan of intergender wrestling or not, you must admit that it was fun to see her get a belated comeuppance for breaking faces in the form of a crisp RKO.
I personally don’t see an issue with Nia as #30, it made for a fun ending to the match and once again broke a couple boundaries, making the typical ‘female entrant’ spot seem a little less cliche. I hope this is a step towards WWE being willing to let the men and women tear it up in the ring together, although admittedly it was a bit of a slap in the face for them not to give that honour to Candice LeRae instead.
5. Lacey Evans
Making her in-ring debut on the main roster, Lacey Evans entered the women’s Rumble first. Lacey managed to last just under half an hour in the ring, holding her own against some of the top names in the women’s division. Lacey was able to secure a couple of eliminations too, taking out both of the IIconics mid-way through her run.
To say the least, this was a fantastic first impression made my Evans, being seen to compete on the same standard as Charlotte Flair, Natalya and Ember Moon is going to do nothing but huge favours for her during this initial run on either Raw or SmackDown Live.
4. Pete Dunne
One of the surprise entrants this year was The Bruiserweight, a cameo that I personally have been expecting in a Rumble match since his signing in 2017. Pete Dunne had an amazing showing in this year’s Rumble, coming in at #18 and lasting just over 11 minutes in total. The UK Champion didn’t come in and rack up heaps of eliminations, but he did manage to prove himself worthy of being involved in future main roster content.
I wasn’t sure at first just how well any of the NXT UK talent would gel with the ‘WWE style’ of performing, that doubt wasn’t well placed. Pete Dunne’s sadistic style of wrestling really fit in well and made him look like a true threat to some of the big players in the match.
Also, he gets MVP status for getting my loudest pop.
3. Ember Moon
So I haven’t walked away with any bragging rights here, Ember didn’t quite win the Rumble but she did indeed put on a fantastic performance in the Rumble match this year. Ember was the second longest lasting competitor in the women’s match, and competed through most of her 50 minutes with a sustained elbow injury.
The former NXT Women’s Champion failed to score an elimination, but kept herself fresh and intriguing throughout the entirety of the match. Moon also found herself in some compromising situations which made for some fun ‘skinning the cat’ moments to avoid elimination.
I sincerely hope that Ember makes it back from her injury in time for WrestleMania, it’s criminal that she hasn’t been included in the title picture yet.
The glue of the women’s Rumble match, Nattie lasted just under an hour as part of this year’s edition, making history. Natalya is such an understated part of the division but she really showed her quality as a leader and a veteran in this year’s Rumble. She not only mixed it up with former rivals, but also with the newcomers to ensure they all had a moment to look great in front of an unfamiliar audience.
Natalya’s performance was second to none, truly making her the MVP of the women’s Rumble match.
1. Mustafa Ali
The former frequent of 205 Live had an absolutely fantastic night at the Rumble this year. Mustafa Ali was one of the longest lasting entrants in the men’s Rumble, putting in 30 minutes exactly and picking up some significant eliminations over Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe, two prominent stars from the SmackDown roster.
WWE have something special with Mustafa Ali and, judging by the run he was given in the Rumble this year, I would predict that within a year he’ll be holding some sort of gold. The Rumble is the perfect opportunity for WWE to cement new stars, seeing him hold his own with champions and main eventers only goes to prove that and makes him my personal MVP of the men’s Rumble match.
Who made it into your MVP list this year? Surely not Becky or Seth, right? Let us know in the comments below.