The men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches last night were very different from each other, and also both different from the last few years, but the finishes weren’t exactly shocking. The biggest surprise was Drew McIntyre winning the men’s match. Although a lot of people thought he had been built up to possibly win, everyone seemed sort of afraid that he’d ultimately lose to perennial WWE favorites like Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. As for the women’s Rumble, Charlotte Flair had been a favorite, but some thought she’d lose to Shayna Baszler (and the finish made that look likely until the very last second).
According to Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio, the original plans for last night were in fact for Shayna Baszler and Roman Reigns to win their respective Rumbles, but those plans were changed in the last couple of weeks. It’s interesting that the women’s match was changed from a newcomer winning to someone WWE sees as a reliable star, while the men’s match kind of went in the opposite direction. Not that Drew McIntyre hasn’t spent plenty of time on the main roster, but this level of push is new for him.
Another change was made at the last minute for the women’s Rumble. Sasha Banks was originally supposed to enter at #21, but was replaced by Kelly Kelly. According to Fightful, that’s because Sasha is not medically cleared to wrestle. That’s something many have been speculating about, since she was advertised for two matches on Smackdown this month and neither of them happened. PWInsider adds that the rumor is that it’s an ankle injury.