POST IT NOTES
**We will be live with Rewind-A-Raw tonight as Wai and I go through the show from Tulsa, Oklahoma with the fallout from the Royal Rumble. We will be live after the show concludes and will be chatting about the latest news along with taking your feedback.
**If you want to submit your questions for Tuesday’s ASK-A-WAI Mailbag Show, you can send them on the POST Wrestling Forum thread with the show coming out Tuesday night for all POST Wrestling Café members.
**Brandon Thurston and I conducted an interview with Abraham Riesman, the author of the upcoming book Ringmaster: Vince McMahon and the Unmaking of America. This will be released on Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET on both the POST Wrestling and Wrestlenomics feeds.
**The Royal Rumble POST Show from Saturday night is available both in audio and video.
BLOODLINE ANGLE HIGHLIGHTS ROYAL RUMBLE
WWE executed one of its best angles in years, concluding its Royal Rumble event with a savage beatdown of Kevin Owens that prompted Sami Zayn to stand up for his best friend and end his allegiance to the Bloodline.
Like many of the best stories, this one was not mapped out with the original intention of pairing Sami Zayn with the Bloodline for a brief involvement. The chemistry was evident from the get-go and they opted to run with what clicked as Roman Reigns truly found himself as the Tribal Chief leader of the pack, while Zayn added the ability for others to flesh out their characters from Jey Uso as the resistance to Zayn’s involvement, Jimmy as the fun one that loved Zayn and adding Solo Sikoa as the muscle, who backed Zayn.
It became intriguing episodic programming, something preached by WWE for decades but fairly carried out, with audiences looking for clues on a weekly basis as to the true motivations of the main characters and where things were headed.
Saturday’s angle at the Royal Rumble was not the climax of the story but was its own “Red Wedding” where Zayn and Owens were left for dead in a highly charged post-match segment that left a stadium full of fans and worldwide audience buzzing after its ending that took a good show and made it into a memorable one due to the ending.
The Royal Rumble presented an interesting dilemma between two competing camps of fans. The ones advocating that the Bloodline story was the hottest in the company and therefore, Roman Reigns and Sami Zayn should be the WrestleMania direction, or the alternative, the return of Cody Rhodes and carrying out his quest for the championship that was laid out after his return to the company last April.
It isn’t a case of one being right and the other being wrong, both are strong stories and the fact, WrestleMania 39 is going to be a massive success with heightened interest around the product, which is attracting said interest without the need for outside stars or the return of any legends. It is the regular roster members that have grown the audience and as seen by the quarter-hour performance last Monday on the Raw is XXX special, The Bloodline story has resonated with a large audience with Sami Zayn being the special ingredient.
Given the outcome of the Royal Rumble match and the appearance of Cody Rhodes being the one to get the title match at WrestleMania, a lot can still be done with Zayn from now until WrestleMania.
It would seem there is no other option to headline Elimination Chamber in Montreal than with Zayn challenging Reigns. Because of the injury angle including a hip attack on Owens with a chair around his neck, Owens shouldn’t be on television for weeks and I would not announce him for the show in Montreal. Instead, you have the dynamic of Zayn going for the title in his hometown and the question of Jey Uso’s loyalty. This can be the backdrop for the ending with Jey torn between family and friendship but opting to side with his blood but doing so in a conflicted manner, which keeps the door open for his eventual divorce from the Bloodline. It allows Reigns to win and tease a repeat of the Royal Rumble by having Solo Sikoa place the chair around Zayn’s neck as the audience screams for their hometown hero when Kevin Owens makes his triumphant return and the Bell Centre explodes. Owens cleans house and the final scene of the pay-per-view is Owens and Zayn staring at one another eye to eye and ending the show by embracing as the audience goes wild. Owens and Zayn are back together and challenging The Usos, which is strong enough, in my opinion, that it could close the first night of WrestleMania while Reigns and Cody have night two.
More than anything, the Bloodline story is an example of following something that is working, identifying a beginning, middle, and end, and carrying through without the fear of everything being scrapped in the middle because of one bad number on television or the unpredictable whims of the showrunner.
There has been a generation of fans that have been taught to absorb “moments” in the absence of stories with legends returning, surprises and swerves, and isolating specific events rather than piecing together drawn-out stories that peak with an event instead of being contained to one. Twists and turns within a story are great if they are logical as it pertains to the greater story being told and not simply to shock people because “they’ll never see it coming”. Jey Uso walking out of the ring was a surprise element but every fan watching completely understood why he was conflicted because they lay the groundwork for months of Jey going from Zayn’s greatest detractor to the strongest ally of the group.
The past seven days are evidence of having faith in your talent and creative direction and that, with patience and a quality story, it will bear fruit. The strength of Raw is XXX was not the legends from the past or a hot shot moment but instead, the nearly 30-minute Trial of Sami Zayn. It extended to SmackDown, which is expected to finish with a large audience, and indicates that the audience came away with an interest in what’s happening now instead of just seeing the stars from yesteryear.
The table is set for several big months for WWE and if positioned correctly, will have more than enough to extend beyond WrestleMania and come out of this season with several elevated stars and a thriving main event scene.
Tonight: Rewind-A-Raw with John Pollock & Wai Ting (11 p.m. ET)
Tuesday: ASK-A-WAI Mailbag Show with John & Wai (Patreon)
Tuesday: Pollock & Thurston Interview – Abraham Riesman
Tuesday: upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
Friday: WWE Q4 and 2022 Year-End Financials with John Pollock & Brandon Thurston
Sunday: NXT Vengeance Day POST Show with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
Sunday: Wrestlenomics Radio
**It will be a big edition of WWE Raw tonight from the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma following the Royal Rumble. The Elimination Chamber show is on 2/18, so that card will take shape quickly and probably have a good sense of the key matches after this week’s programming.
**WWE issued a press release touting the success of the Royal Rumble, which was the most successful show in the franchise’s history. The gate topped $7.7 million, so that puts it ahead of all but the biggest WrestleMania events and last September’s Clash at the Castle event in Cardiff. The Saudi shows are their own deal, which are the largest shows of the year because of the amount the government pays per event. Merchandise and sponsorship figures also set new records with the latter led by the MTN Dew Pitch Black sponsorship and Applebee’s sponsoring the countdown clock. I would expect more and more product integrations, which have already become the norm over the past few years given the lucrative nature of the integrations. They also had a promotional tie-in with Zelina Vega dressing as Juri from Street Fighter 6 for the Rumble match. Given the expanded reach for Peacock topping 20 million paid subscribers and a lot of buzz for the event, it was the most-watched Rumble at least compared with the pay-per-view/WWE Network/Peacock era (the USA Network edition in 1988 did an 8.2 rating). All these numbers will likely be topped by WrestleMania 39, which is a two-day event.
**The funeral for Jamin Pugh took place on Sunday at Laurel High School with tons of wrestling luminaries in attendance as the gym was packed. Tony Khan reportedly flew talent on a jet that wanted to attend as there were AEW Dark tapings over the weekend. Jay Lethal and Roderick Strong led a ten-bell salute for Pugh with Caprice Coleman and Mark Briscoe speaking at the service along with Pugh’s parents. For such a horrible tragedy, it was an upbeat service with Mark Briscoe delivering a wonderful eulogy for his brother mixing in humor and optimism and conveying a deeply rooted faith that has allowed them to get through this loss while also separating their views from organized religion. In a touching story, Mark revealed that Jay’s “Reach for the Sky” tagline came as a result of getting emotional watching Toy Story and hearing that line from Woody.
**Brandon Thurston reported on Wrestlenomics this week that A&E will be running a ten-episode series beginning April 9th called “Stone Cold Takes on America”. The series will air Sunday nights and kick-off at the conclusion of the next set of A&E Biographies on WWE talent and one week after WrestleMania 39.
**Logan Paul is teasing an announcement for Tuesday with the UFC. The video teaser features various comments about Paul wanting to fight in the UFC and ends with Paul signing a document next to Dana White and telling the UFC president, “I want Paddy Pimblett”. After suffering a knee injury last November at WWE’s Crown Jewel, Paul returned to action on Saturday in the Royal Rumble. His brother Jake is scheduled to box Tommy Fury on 2/26 in Saudi Arabia.
Major announcement tomorrow @danawhite pic.twitter.com/vNaATFp0He
— Logan Paul (@LoganPaul) January 30, 2023
**Being the Elite Ep. 333 “Reach for the Sky, Boy” including highlights of Mark Briscoe’s appearance on Dynamite last week and the locker room coming out at the end of the match.
**NWA Power presents a live episode on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on its YouTube channel from the Knoxville Convention Center in Tennessee. The live special comes two weeks before its next pay-per-view on 2/11. The following matches are scheduled for Power on Tuesday night:
*NWA U.S Tag Team Championship: The Fixers © vs. The County Gentlemen
*No Tables Match: Bully Ray vs. Odinson
*Champions Series Final: Team Tyrus vs. Team Rock N’ Roll
*Kamille & Thom Latimer vs. Angelina Love & Fodder
*Contract signing between Tyrus and Matt Cardona for 2/11
*Aron Stevens and Mae Valentine’s wedding ceremony
*Matt Cardona, Kerry Morton, Pretty Empowered in action
**Taya Valkyrie will defend the MLW Featherweight Championship against Billie Starkz and a match between B3CCA and Delmi Exo for this Saturday at MLW’s SuperFight card at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia.
**From the Royal Rumble on Saturday, Gunther now holds the record for the longest-lasting participant in a “traditional” Royal Rumble match at 61 minutes and 40 seconds while the longest would be Daniel Bryan from the 50-man Greatest Royal Rumble at 76 minutes and 5 seconds. For WWE’s stats, they previously recognized Bryan as the longest while still acknowledging Braun Strowman’s 13 eliminations from the Greatest Royal Rumble, which is tied with Brock Lesnar from 2020 for the most in one match.
In the women’s matches, Rhea Ripley now holds the record for the longest stretch in the match at 61:08 while Liv Morgan is second at 61:07 after they began and ended this year’s match with both outlasting Bianca Belair’s previous record of 56:52. Chelsea Green set the record for the shortest time in a women’s match at 5 seconds (she also lasted 12 seconds in the 2020 match). Dana Brooke, Tamina, Natalya & Liv Morgan are the only women to have appeared in all six editions of the women’s Royal Rumble match going back to the first one in 2018.
For the overall length of the event, the 2023 show was the second longest in history behind the 2019 show.
**Becky Lynch turns 36 years old today.
ON THIS DATE
Steven Regal makes his first appearance on WCW programming (this was taped several days prior) in 1993. Regal contacted Bill Watts and the communication led to a job for Regal, who was given the “Lord Steven” moniker later that year and paired with Bill Dundee as Sir William. Regal worked with the company until 1998, returning the following year after an ill-fated run in WWF that was affected by his drug issues.
The Rock sets up his rematch with Hulk Hogan for the No Way Out event in 2003, which was as forgettable as the first match was memorable.
The only 40-man Royal Rumble took place in 2011 and was won by Alberta Del Rio, who would face Edge at that year’s WrestleMania. The highlights of the match included surprise appearances by Kevin Nash in the Diesel character and Booker T. appearing. Nash would return throughout the year for a program with CM Punk and later, Triple H.
WRESTLENOMICS RADIO: The business of Royal Rumble 2023
Brandon Thurston, Jesse Collings, and Chris Gullo talk about the business of the 2023 Royal Rumble including its attendance, reception, Google Trends, and notes from the post-event press conference.
WWE ROYAL RUMBLE POST SHOW
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE’s Royal Rumble event from San Antonio, Texas featuring two Royal Rumble matches and Roman Reigns versus Kevin Owens for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.
THE LONG & WINDING ROYAL ROAD
Alan4L joins WH Park to talk about a hidden gem of a match featuring Hayabusa & Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Jun Izumida & Tamon Honda.
John Pollock & Wai Ting review this week’s WWE SmackDown featuring Kevin Owens vs. Solo Sikoa and AEW Rampage featuring Jamie Hayter vs. Emi Sakura.
WATCH ALONG: WWF Royal Rumble 1997
Join John, Wai & Brandon from NJ as they watch the 1997 WWF Royal Rumble match LIVE! Featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Mil Mascaras, and more. Exclusively for members of the POST Wrestling Café.
John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite from Lexington, Kentucky, featuring Mark Briscoe wrestling Jay Lethal on TBS in honor of the late Jay Briscoe.
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