2019 WWE Royal Rumble results, recap, grades: Becky Lynch, Seth Rollins reign as winners

WWE

The Road to WrestleMania 35 officially began on Sunday night in Phoenix as the 2019 WWE Royal Rumble told a number of major stories ahead of the company's biggest pay-per-view of the calendar year. While the two Rumble matches themselves may have left some to be desired by way of surprises, WWE chose the correct winners to challenge for major titles heading into WrestleMania.

The main Royal Rumble card started hot with three fantastic matches but cooled off after the women's Royal Rumble was both long and slow. A lackluster WWE championship match did little to pick things up, but the universal championship match brought back the necessary energy. WWE closed the show with the men's Rumble, which was well put together but ended just shy of midnight ET. Including the two-hour kickoff show, the entirety of the Royal Rumble broadcast approached seven hours.

There is plenty still left to learn, including which champions the Rumble winners will challenge. We may get those answers as soon as Monday night on Raw, as one should expect both victors to call out the red brand's current champions. That remains to be seen. For now, check out our detailed results with analysis, grades and highlights from the Royal Rumble.

Subscribe to the State of Combat with Brian Campbell podcast for audio analysis of WWE each week, and check out our instant analysis of the 2019 Royal Rumble below.

2019 WWE Royal Rumble recap, grades

Bobby Roode & Chad Gable def. Rezar & Scott Dawson via pinfall in a non-title match (Kickoff Show): This unannounced match would have resulted in a future tag team title opportunity for both AOP and The Revival should the Raw tag team champions have been defeated. They were not. With Akam injured, Rezar and Dawson became unlikely partners and made sure to get in each other's way throughout a series of miscommunications. The champions took advantage and produced a three-count on Dawson when Gable landed a moonsault just as Roode connected with a neckbreaker. This was very much a throwaway match, thrown together without much of a plan. Grade: C-

United States Championship -- Shinsuke Nakamura def. Rusev (c) via pinfall to win the title (Kickoff Show): Lana's involvement once again cost Rusev in an accidental way as Nakamura secured his second reign of the U.S. title. This physical match saw its conclusion come when the heel Nakamura began to unwrap the top turnbuckle cover. Lana jumped on the apron to get the referee's attention. But just as Nakamura screamed in her face to "mind her business," he sidestepped an attack from Rusev, who ran into Lana and sent her crashing to the floor. A Kinshasa to the back of the head from Nakamura followed for the 1-2-3. A decent match concluded with a somewhat surprising piece of booking. Grade: C+

Cruiserweight Championship -- Buddy Murphy (c) def. Hideo Itami (via pinfall) vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Kalisto to retain the title (Kickoff Show): This smorgasbord of controlled chaos featured plenty of aerial theatrics from the likes of Tozawa and Kalsto that were expected coming in. Yet it was the assortment of incredibly stiff strikes late that helped add an extra dimension. Murphy likely hit the best spot of the match when his wild tope con hilo cleared the top rope and nearly missed a trio of opponents on the floor. But it was Murphy who held on to his title by hitting Murphy's Law on Itami to put to rest any thought that a main roster call up was in his near future. Grade: B+

SmackDown Women's Championship -- Asuka (c) def. Becky Lynch via submission to retain the title: For as long as it lasted at just over 18 minutes, this one was as physical as it was spectacular. It also produced a surprising clean finish given Lynch's recent red-hot booking, which could serve as a table-setter for her involvement in the Royal Rumble match later in the evening. Either way, both superstars were willing to sacrifice their bodies repeatedly to up the ante in a main card opener that very could have closed the show. Lynch hit a Becksploder off the barrier wall, and Asuka countered with an insane inverted suplex from the ring apron that saw both nearly fall face first outside the ring. Lynch added a Super Becksploder from the top rope later on but could only get two. The finish was a good one as each wrestler took turns applying the other's submission finishing attempt. Eventually, Asuka countered out of the Asuka Lock and produced a fairly quick tap via a creative reverse choke with a bridge. Grade: A-

SmackDown Tag Team Championship -- The Miz & Shane McMahon def. The Bar (c) via pinfall to win the titles: It simply wouldn't be a big PPV without "Shane-O-Mac" risking his life for an insane spot. The 49-year-old delivered once again ahead of the finish as McMahon and Miz continued to play out a storyline that has been a ton more fun than it has any right to be. McMahon teased an early dive off the top rope and onto the announce tables but held back when Cesaro saved Sheamus. Later on, he attempted a Coast to Coast on both heels but was caught by Cesaro into a swing (that McMahon later reversed into a triangle choke). The finishing sequence began when Sheamus accidentally hit his partner with a Brogue Kick. Miz followed with a Skull-Crushing Finale to knock Sheamus out of the ring, and McMahon stunned the crowd with a perfect Shooting Star Press from the top rope for the pin. Grade: B

Raw Women's Championship -- Ronda Rousey (c) def. Sasha Banks via pinfall to retain the title: The in-ring chemistry between the two left anyone who had looked at this as a potential dream match once Rousey signed with WWE one year ago feel validated. The only shame in this matter was that they were given just shy of only 14 minutes to work. The intensity between the two was palpable and the action crisp in a match that featured constant reversals and counters. Banks hit the move of the match with a textbook superplex that could only get two. Later, Rousey intercepted a suicide dive attempt and put Banks into an armbar on the floor. Banks, who applied a variety of her own armbars to wear down Rousey, applied her Banks Statement finisher late (using the her wrist band as a way of cheating to choke Rousey) and went on to switch the submission attempt into a fujiwara armbar. But Rousey channeled her inner Hulk Hogan and John Cena by powering out by reversing and standing up before hitting a Piper's Pit slam with a bridge for the pin.

After the match, Rousey held Banks' hand as the two made up before Rousey held the ropes open for her. But Banks continued to pause and look increasingly angry as she walked away from the ring. Finally, Banks turned around and shook Rousey's hand before raising up a Four Horsewomen hand gesture, teasing a feud between Banks' original NXT cohorts (Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Bailey) and Rousey's former MMA training partners (Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir, Jessamyn Duke) who are now members of NXT. Grade: B+

Becky Lynch wins the Women's Royal Rumble: WWE delivered the booking fans had hoped to see thanks to Lynch's late addition to the match after Lana was badly limping and unable to make it to the ring. The problem was how long it took to get to the finish in an excruciatingly long match (over 71 minutes) that didn't have the reveals or action to fill even a third of that time. The extended finishing sequence -- featuring a final five of Lynch, Flair, Carmella, Bayley and Nia Jax -- may have been the most egregious when it comes to inefficiently wasting time until Lynch ducked a Flair big boot in the closing seconds and backdropped her to the apron before kicking her to the floor for the victory.

The second women's match of its kind in WWE history failed to produce a single true surprise entrant with the exception of Lynch's predictable appearance after she lost a title match earlier in the evening by submission against Asuka. Former WWE superstar Hornswoggle may have been the closest thing when he appeared from under the ring to chase away Zelina Vega, who entered at No. 20 and attempted to hide. Io Shirai hit the spot of the match with an asai moonsault from the top rope onto the Riott Squad outside. Meanwhile, Naomi and NXT superstar Kacy Catanzaro -- a former American Ninja Warrior champion -- completed essentially the same Kofi Kingston save by walking on their hands outside to avoid elimination (although Catanzaro creatively climbed up the outside of the ring post).

Lana, who came out at No. 28, sold the same injury she suffered during the kickoff show in her husband Rusev's title loss and never made it past the runway. Lynch came out to plead with WWE agent and countryman Fit Finlay, who eventually gave in to her demands to enter the match. Lynch went on to suffer storyline knee injury outside the ring thanks to Nia Jax, whom she had just eliminated. Flair attacked the knee with chop blocks but was unable to put Lynch away. Grade: C


Order of entryOrder of elimination

1

Lacey Evans

Morgan (Natalya 1)

2

Natalya

James (Tamina 1)

3

Mandy Rose

Cross (Royce 1)

4

Liv Morgan

Kay (Evans 1)

5

Mickie James

Royce (Evans 2)

6

Ember Moon

Li (Flair 1)

7

Billie Kay

Tamina (Flair 2)

8

Nikki Cross

Logan (Sane 1)

9

Peyton Royce

Rose (Naomi 1)

10

Tamina

Naomi (Rose 1)

11

Xia Li

Evans (Flair 3)

12

Sarah Logan

Kanellis (Fox 1)

13

Charlotte Flair

Fox (Riott 1)

14

Kairi Sane

LeRae (Riott 2)

15

Maria Kanellis

Sane (Riott 3)

16

Naomi

Catanzaro (Ripley 1) 

17

Candice LeRae

Brooke (Ripley 2)

18

Alicia Fox

Vega (Ripley 3)

19

Kacy Catanzaro

Deville (Bliss 1)

20

Zelina Vega

Riott (Bayley 1)

21

Ruby Riott

Ripley (Bayley 2)

22

Dana Brooke

Shirai (Jax 1) 

23

Io Shirai

Natalya (Jax 2)

24

Rhea Ripley

Moon (Bliss 2)

25

Sonya Deville

Bliss (Carmella 1)

26

Alexa Bliss

Carmella (Flair 4)

27

Bayley

Bayley (Flair 5)

28

Lana Becky Lynch

Jax (Lynch 1)

29

Nia Jax

Flair (Lynch 2)

30

Carmella

Winner: Becky Lynch

WWE Championship -- Daniel Bryan (c) def. AJ Styles via pinfall to retain the title: Raise your hand if you saw that one coming? An already methodical title rematch that was heavy on holds and short on fireworks saw the surprise return Erick Rowan, who was dressed in flannel similar to Bryan and stood ominously at ringside late in the match. After Styles ducked and enziguri attempt and Bryan accidentally took out the referee, Bryan was hit with the Styles Clash. But Rowan came in to break up the pin and landed a chokeslam on Styles to hand Bryan the 1-2-3. After the match, Rowan held Styles up again as Bryan delivered a running knee. All in all, this 24-minute affair was a bit of a disappointment in terms of entertainment -- save for a creative moonsault off the barrier wall by Styles into a reverse DDT -- although the Bryan-Rowan reunion from their brief time together in the Wyatt Family shows some promise. Grade: C

Universal Championship -- Brock Lesnar (c) def. Finn Balor via submission to retain the title: What a fantastic little piece of business. This story of "David vs. Goliath" was told expertly in this physical affair as Balor's athleticism meshed perfectly with Lesnar's ability to sell to smaller opponents when motivated. Making things even better was WWE's decision focus on the real-life struggle of Lesnar's battles with diverticulitis, which came into play when Balor pushed him stomach-first into the corner of the announce table. Balor, who countered an F5 into a beautiful DDT for a dramatic near fall, continued to work the mid-section before landing a trio of Tope Con Hilo's on the floor. The finish was just as compelling as Balor landed his Coup de Grace only to see Lesnar kick out and reverse into a Kimura Lock to force the tap out. After the match, an angry Lesnar held his injured side and landed a trio of German suplexes and an F5. Just over 8 minutes, this was the kind of violent theater that no one does better than Lesnar when he wants to. Grade: A-

Seth Rollins wins the Men's Royal Rumble: When all was said and done, the right guy won. Rollins, who holds equal acclaim as one of the most over and most deserving WWE superstars of a main event push, secured a title shot at WrestleMania 35 in April. This was the kind of booking that satisfies everyone as WWE rewarded arguably its most consistent and red-hot male superstar following a match just shy of 58 minutes that featured strong pacing and a bit of a late swerve when Rollins and Strowman, who were storyline injured outside the ring but never eliminated, dramatically returned to join Dolph Ziggler and Andrade in the closing minutes.

The match provided a number of anticipated tropes from Elias breaking a guitar over the back of Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett to open the match to Kofi Kingston twice walking on his hands to avoid elimination outside the ring. WWE's future was particularly well represented through appearances by NXT's Johnny Gargano and Aleister Black, along with U.K. champion Pete Dunne. The biggest surprise, however, came at No. 30 when Nia Jax beat down R-Truth before he could make it to the ring and stole his spot in a moment that will likely define the match for years to come. Jax, the fourth woman in WWE history to appear in a men's Royal Rumble match, had a nice run of physicality before succumbing to an RKO from Randy Orton, a 619 from Rey Mysterio and a superkick from Ziggler. Although it received much fanfare, it was fair to question whether Jax's appearance was in bad taste and overall a bit silly.

Although Strowman was a late replacement for the injured John Cena, the finish became predictable once he joined Rollins in rejoining the ring. That wasn't a negative in this case because it was the right choice (not to mention Ziggler and Andrade received booking they deserved). Rollins had been injured by Bobby Lashley, who was eliminated shortly after entering at No. 26 and took his anger out by slamming Rollins through an announce table. The finish came after a drawn-out battle on the apron in which Rollins tossed Strowman into the corner post before hitting a Stomp to eliminate him. Grade: B


Order of entryOrder of elimination

1

Elias

Jarrett (Elias 1)

2

Jeff Jarrett

Angle (Nakamura 1)

3

Shinsuke Nakamura

Mahal (Gargano 1)

4

Kurt Angle

Big E (Joe 1)

5

Big E

Elias (Rollins 1)

6

Johnny Gargano

O'Neil (Hawkins 1)

7

Jinder Mahal

Hawkins (Joe 2)

8

Samoa Joe

Nakamura (Ali 1)

9

Curt Hawkins

Gargano (Ambrose 1)

10

Seth Rollins

Jose (Samoa Joe 3)

11

Titus O'Neil

Woods (McIntyre 1)

12

Kofi Kingston

Kingston (McIntyre 2)

13

Mustafa Ali

Ambrose (Black 1)

14

Dean Ambrose

Samoa Joe (Ali 1)

15

No Way Jose

Crews (Corbin 1)

16

Drew McIntyre

Black (Corbin 2)

17

Xavier Woods

Dunne (McIntyre 3)

18

Pete Dunne

Lashley (Rollins 2)

19

Andrade

Corbin (Strowman 1)

20

Apollo Crews

Benjamin (Strowman 2)

21

Aleister Black

Hardy (Strowman 3)

22

Shelton Benjamin

McIntyre (Ziggler 1)

23

Baron Corbin

Ali (Jax 1)

24

Jeff Hardy

Jax (Mysterio 1)

25

Rey Mysterio

Mysterio (Orton 1)

26

Bobby Lashley

Orton (Andrade 1)

27

Braun Strowman

Andrade (Strowman 4)

28

Dolph Ziggler

Ziggler (Strowman 5)

29

Randy Orton

Strowman (Rollins 3)

30

R-Truth Nia Jax

Winner: Seth Rollins

2019 WWE Royal Rumble results, highlights

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Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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