WWE Royal Rumble 2021 Results: Reviewing Top Highlights and Low Points
Each year, the WWE Royal Rumble has the daunting task of setting the tone for The Road to WrestleMania. A great show will have fans pumped for the next few months, but a disastrous event will dampen everyone's mood.
With the pandemic still in effect and no fans in attendance at Tropicana Field, this year's event had an even tougher challenge in trying to please fans. But there was some great potential to work with, so it was all a matter of execution.
How did this year's Royal Rumble pan out? Did it provide a positive sign that this year may be an upgrade from the mess that was 2020? Or was it a bad omen of more turbulent times ahead?
Presented in order of appearance, here are the highlights and low points from the 2021 Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
Full Match Results
WWE Royal Rumble 2021 results
- Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler defeated Asuka and Charlotte Flair by pinfall to win the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships.
- Drew McIntyre defeated Goldberg by pinfall to retain the WWE Championship.
- Sasha Banks defeated Carmella by submission to retain the SmackDown Women's Championship.
- Bianca Belair won the women's Royal Rumble match.
- Roman Reigns defeated Kevin Owens in a Last Man Standing match to retain the Universal Championship.
- Edge won the men's Royal Rumble match.
Highlight: Women's Tag Team Championship Match
It's been clear for weeks that WWE had no real plan in place when Asuka and Lana (who would be replaced by Charlotte Flair) fought Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler for the Women's Tag Team Championships at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in December.
Over the past month, Flair and Asuka have held the titles just for the sake of holding them. They've had singles feuds that don't crossover with one another, and it was pointless for them to be tag team champions.
Putting the titles back on Jax and Baszler may not be the perfect scenario—there are other tag teams who could have filled that role—but it at least puts the belts on a better trajectory. Now, they can get a more prominent spot at WrestleMania 37 rather than being extra props for Asuka and Flair to carry.
The execution of the title change was fitting with the story, too. Lacey Evans and Ric Flair—for whatever reason—have been interfering in Charlotte's matches as of late and got involved once again on Sunday. Any other conclusion to this would have felt strange, so WWE made the right call.
It protects Flair, deepens that feud and allows the titles to go back to wrestlers who will make it their top priority to defend.
Highlight: WWE Championship Match
WWE played up concerns fans might have had that Goldberg would dethrone Drew McIntyre with a great setup to start the Royal Rumble PPV, as these two behemoths came to blows before the bell even rang.
When McIntyre was speared through the barricade, that could have been the sign he was doomed. However, he managed to kick out of that, plus two more Spears and a Jackhammer to prove his worth.
Given that we know Goldberg's matches are kept short, there wasn't too much more other than this and a few Claymores, but that was OK. It told a quick but effective story. The champion had the tenacity to power through, while the veteran proved he still had what it takes to step in the ring.
By the end of this segment, The Scottish Warrior was given a full commendation of deserving the title, which is exactly what the older generations need to do in order to make new stars.
Highlight: SmackDown Women's Championship Match
Despite the fact that Carmella had already came up short against Sasha Banks in a previous encounter, making it hard to believe she would somehow win the title this time around, this was a fun match.
The Boss and her challenger went at this contest as though it was the main event, and that energy helped this tremendously.
There wasn't too much to unpack as far as specific maneuvers were concerned (aside from a scary dive to the outside), but it was a solid match with a believable ending, with Banks retaining by submission.
Now that Carmella has tapped out more than once, this feud should be over and Banks can move on to her next challenge.
Highlight: Women's Royal Rumble Match
The only way Royal Rumble matches aren't fun is if WWE books a convoluted means to do something the fans can't buy into. Thankfully, the women's match was anything but that.
It had everything that needed to be crossed off the list.
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler looked strong, with the latter getting the second-most amount of eliminations and lasting a considerable amount of time. They also fought each other to further push along the story that they're a team but still don't like each other.
Lots of partnerships and feuds were referenced, which was nice to see. There were callbacks to Billie Kay with Peyton Royce and The Riott Squad, as well as Natalya and Lana, the Jax vs. Lana feud and more.
Rhea Ripley had her time to shine and get some revenge on Charlotte Flair for their WrestleMania 36 match last year.
Alexa Bliss had a moment of her own when her transformation into her Fiend-inspired alter ego was curtailed by her elimination. Alicia Fox won the 24/7 Championship in one of the most hilarious moments of the night.
This was fun from start to finish, and it was great to see someone as deserving as Bianca Belair stand tall at the end.
Low Point: Universal Championship Last Man Standing Match Finish
For the most part, the Last Man Standing match for the Universal Championship was fun. There were enough dangerous spots to satisfy between the elongated 10-counts, which always plague this type of gimmick.
However, everything went off the rails at the end, and that will likely be the only thing people talk about from this match going forward.
Clearly, Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns weren't able to unhook the handcuffs in time for the referee's 10-count. Since that wasn't the planned finish, WWE had to cut away and hope nobody noticed how much time had passed.
After what felt like a solid minute—certainly far more than 10 seconds—the handcuffs came off and the match quickly ended with a Guillotine Choke that felt like it wasn't the natural progression of things but rather a call to end things and move on.
Highlight: Men's Royal Rumble Match
Once again, giving the fans something to feel happy about is never a bad thing, and WWE went with an easy call for the sentimental favorite to win.
Of course, this ticked off other boxes, too. There were surprise entrants such as Christian and Hurricane Helms, some returns like Seth Rollins, and Kane continued to add more to his statistics. Team Hell No was referenced, old feuds were reignited and more.
The most important part of the story, though, was Edge going the distance and winning his second men's Rumble match. On both occasions, he came back from a career-threatening injury, which is amazing.
The Rated-R Superstar is so beloved that it's doubtful anyone has a problem with this choice as the winner, even if you were rooting for someone else. He's Edge, for goodness sake.
Like everything else, this would have felt better if it had taken place in front of fans in attendance. But the fact that it happened at all is something worth celebrating and a great way to end a great pay-per-view.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.