|Date: January 28, 2018
|Venue: Wells Fargo Center |City: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
|Brands: Raw & Smackdown
|tweet me: @BastionBlogger
A video package kicks us off, it’s very stylistic and there’s a lot of emphasis on there being more Rumble than ever with the addition of the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match.
Tom Phillips welcomes us to the 31st annual Royal Rumble event.
AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn – Handicap match for the WWE Championship
Background: On the final Smackdown of 2017 Kevin Owens beat AJ Styles in a non-title match thanks to Sami Zayn. The next week, Zayn would also defeat Styles in a non-title match after interference from Owens. Enraged at back-to-back losses, Styles stated they might as well schedule him in a handicap match against Owens and Zayn, which Bryan took literally and scheduled for the Royal Rumble where Styles would also defend the WWE Championship against both men. On the January 9 episode of SmackDown, Styles said that although it was unfair, he was confident that he would win; Owens and Zayn interrupted and claimed that they would become the first-ever co-WWE Champions. On the final SmackDown before the Royal Rumble, Styles faced Owens and Zayn in back-to-back matches where Shane threatened that if one were to interfere in the other’s match, that person would be fired. Styles managed to defeat Owens in the first match by submission, however, he would lose to Zayn in the second match.
Previous PPV matches: This is a first time handicap match involving these three men.
Match: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will have to tag in and out of this match. And that’s what they both do before they see any action as they try and get inside the head of AJ Styles. The quick tags work as Owens takes the advantage against Styles. I’m not sure how co-champions is going to work but it’d be fun to see. AJ tries to fight back at times but can’t take control against Owens or Zayn. Styles manages to get some shots in on KO’s previously injured leg and then hits a top rope hurricanrana on Sami. AJ counters a helluva kick and hits a springboard reverse DDT. There’s a nice spot with Owens monkey flipping AJ who hits a hurricanrana on Zayn. Styles then locks a calf crushes on Owens but Sami Zayn breaks it up. AJ manages to fight off both opponents until the numbers become too much and Owens superkicks him and Zayn follows up with a blue thunder bomb for a near fall. AJ manages to fight Owens off the apron and then hits Zayn with a phenomenal forearm but KO breaks up the pinfall attempt. Zayn tries to make a tag to Owens but misses. AJ then throws Zayn out of the ring, Owens gets into the ring and looks to hit a pop-up powerbomb but Styles counters and rolls Owens up for the three! I don’t think he was the legal man and I’m sure that will be Owens and Zayn’s point of contention!
Result: AJ Styles wins by pinfall.
Review: This was a good way to kick off the show. AJ comes out of this looking great but I’m not convinced he pinned the legal man. I’m sure that was done on purpose. It was a strange match and not the usual WWE Championship you’d expect but it was fun and wasn’t a bad match by any stretch.
There’s an ad for Wrestlemania 34. 70 days away!
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are backstage complaining to Shane McMahon about AJ pinning the illegal man. They ask him if he saw it. Shane’s reply? Yep.
The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) (c) vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin – 2 out of 3 falls match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships
Background: At Clash of Champions, The Usos (Jey and Jimmy Uso) retained the SmackDown Tag Team Championship in a fatal-four-way match against Rusev and Aiden English, The New Day’s Big E and Xavier Woods, and Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin. On the following episode of SmackDown, Gable and Benjamin defeated The Usos in a non-title match, and they were awarded with a championship match on the first SmackDown of 2018, where they defeated The Usos to initially win the titles after pinning Jimmy Uso; however, Jimmy was not the legal man, and thus the match was restarted and The Usos retained their championship. The following week, Gable and Benjamin confronted SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan over the incident. After questioning if they should have to defeat The Usos twice in the same night, Bryan decided that at the Royal Rumble, The Usos would defend the SmackDown Tag Team Championship against Gable and Benjamin in a two-out-of-three-falls match.
Previous PPV matches: This is a first time two on two match on PPV for these tag teams.
Match: The Usos cut a classic Usos promo before the match. Jey Uso and Shelton Benjamin start the match and Benjamin takes the early advantage until both men tag out. Gable and Benjamin are showing a much more aggressive side. They make quick tags, not letting Jimmy make a tag. Jey eventually makes the tag and picks up the pace. Both teams get near falls as they pull out all the stops in the early going. Benjamin powerbombs Jey into Jimmy and then hits Jey with paydirt for a near fall. The Usos hit both opponents with superkicks and Jey then splashes Gable for a near fall! The first fall comes when The Usos hit Gable with two superkicks followed by a double superkick. The Usos win the first fall. Benjamin and Gable hits a double hart attack type move on Jimmy on the outside. Chad then hits a yakuza kick on the legal Jey Uso and Benjamin looks to set Jey up but Jey rolls him up for the three! The Usos win back to back falls to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championships!
Result: The Usos retain their Smackdown Tag Team Championships in two straight falls.
Review: This was a good match. I really think given more time that the two teams could have a tremendous match. But this was still good. The Usos retain their belts and are (in my opinion) the top tag team in WWE right now as well as being one of the greatest of all time.
There’s an ad for a documentary about Wrestlemania Orlando on the WWE Network.
Next up is the yearly Royal Rumble numbers VT.
The 2018 Men’s Royal Rumble match
Background: This is my favourite match of the year There are no major storylines going into this match, just that we know that the winner of course goes on to main event Wrestlemania.
Match: Jerry “The King” Lawler is introduced as a special guest commentator for this match. Rusev is #1 and gets a big pop, he starts against another man who gets a big pop, Finn Balor. Rhyno gets a decent “E-C-Dub” chant. If there’s one guarantee in a Royal Rumble it is that the # spot is cursed and it is proven agains as Rhyno is the first man eliminated. Corbin goes mad when he is eliminated and pulls Rusev and Dudley under the ropes and takes them out before taking out Heath Slater as he makes his entrance. Elias comes out playing his guitar, kicking Heath Slater on the way down to the ring. Andrade, the reigning NXT Champion is the 7th man and the first surprise of the night. Andrade and Bray Wyatt give Heath Slater a good kicking on the way down too. Pretty much everyone (except Corbin) gets a pop as they come out. Big E shoves pancakes down Slaters throat. Lots of “Rusev Day” chants. Tye Dillinger’s music hits at #10 but Dillinger doesn’t show, he’s shown getting beaten down backstage by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Owens says “I’ve got thus” but Zayn holds him back and says “I’ve got this” and Sami runs to the ring, apparently taking Dillingers spot.
Sheamus is the man to finally throws Heath Slater into the ring but Slater clotheslines Sheamus right back out of the ring, eliminating him from the match! Shinsuke Nakamura gets a big pop and the crowd sing his theme as Byron Saxton predicts Nakamura to win the Rumble. Jinder Mahal unbelievably eliminates both Xavier Woods and Big E. Jinder nearly eliminates Kofi but he lands on Xavier Woods and then uses a plate of pancakes to step on before Woods and Big E pogo him back into the ring. Kofi eliminates Jinder but then gets thrown out by Andrade. Matt Hardy is now Woken, he and Bray Wyatt team up to eliminate Rusev before eliminating each other. John Cena enters but then gets beaten down by Finn Balor, Andrade, Elias, Seth Rollins and Shinsuke Nakamura! The Hurricane is a surprise entrant at 21 but John Cena throws him right out. Adam Cole is a surprise at #23 an he gets a big pop. It’s a main roster PPV debut for him, as well as Andrade earlier on.
The Miz is surprisingly over in Philadelphia. Rey Mysterio makes his big return to WWE at #27! Roman Reigns gets boo’d louder than anyone else in the match. Goldust is a random entry at #29. Dolph Ziggler gets a decent pop at #30 after appearing to quit on Smackdown a few weeks ago, giving up his United States Championship in the process. When we get to the final six there’s a 3 on 3 face off between John Cena, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio and Finn Balor, Roman Reigns and Shinsuke Nakamura. A clash of the generations. The final four are Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, John Cena and Roman Reigns. The final four get a lot of time with Balor and Nakamura wrestling each other and Reigns and Cena opting for power. Cena hits a five knuckle shuffle on Reigns but Roman fires back with a superman punch. Nakamura eliminates Cena with a Kinshasa and we are down to Shinsuke and Reigns. Nakamura counters a spear the first time but gets hit with it the second! Reigns can’t eliminate Nakamura who hits him with a Kinshasa and then dumps Roman over the top to win the match!
Result: (Elimination # – Eliminated By)
Shinsuke Nakamura wins, last eliminating Roman Reigns.
- Rusev (12 – Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt)
- Finn Balor (27 – John Cena)
- Rhyno (1 – Baron Corbin)
- Baron Corbin (2 – Finn Balor)
- Heath Slater (4 – Bray Wyatt)
- Elias (15 – John Cena)
- Andrade (18 – Randy Orton)
- Bray Wyatt (13 – Matt Hardy)
- Big E (8 – Jinder Mahal)
- Sami Zayn (5 – Shinsuke Nakamura)
- Sheamus (3 – Heath Slater)
- Xavier Woods (7 – Jinder Mahal)
- Apollo Crews (6 – Cesaro)
- Shinsuke Nakamura – winner
- Cesaro (9 – Seth Rollins)
- Kofi Kingston (11 – Andrade)
- Jinder Mahal (10 – Kofi Kingston)
- Seth Rollins (22 – Roman Reigns)
- Matt Hardy (14 – Bray Wyatt)
- John Cena (28 – Shinsuke Nakamura)
- The Hurricane (16 – John Cena)
- Aiden English (17 – Finn Balor)
- Adam Cole (19 – Rey Mysterio)
- Randy Orton (25 – Roman Reigns)
- Titus O’Neil (20 – Roman Reigns)
- The Miz (21 – Roman Reigns)
- Rey Mysterio (26 – Finn Balor)
- Roman Reigns (29 – Shinsuke Nakamura)
- Goldust (23 – Dolph Ziggler)
- Dolph Ziggler (24 – Finn Balor)
Review: This was another great Royal Rumble with some big stars in it and some unexpected surprises. It was nice to see The Hurricane back for comic relief, Rey Mysterio’s big return to the company and some god exposure for NXT talents Adam Cole and Andrade. Shinsuke Nakamura wins the match though and goes to Wrestlemania. Presumably to take on AJ Styles, although I’d like to see a match against Brock too.
After the match Shinsuke announces that at Wrestlemania he will challenge AJ Styles.
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon are backstage celebrating that a Smackdown superstar won the Royal Rumble. Stephanie McMahon and Kurt Angle tell them that there are plenty of surprises to come.
There’s a KFC Royal Rumble next. Colonel Ric Flair wins it.
Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan (c) vs. The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) – Raw Tag Team Championship match
Background: Following an injury to Dean Ambrose, Kurt angle would grant a tag team title shot to the team of Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan, something Seth Rollins was not happy about. Jordan and Rollins would then beat The Bar for the Raw Tag Team Championships and tonight Sheamus and Cesaro got their rematch. Rollins and Jordan have continued to not see eye to eye with Seth not happy about Jordan getting involved in a match involving The Bar and then Seth accidentally kneeing Jason in the face.
Previous PPV matches: This is a first time PPV tag team match between these two teams.
Match: Seth Rollins and Cesaro kick off the match. Seth starts the match quickly but it isn’t long before Sheamus and Cesaro are making quick tags and preventing Rollins from tagging Jordan. Seth soon manages to fight off both men but Cesaro smashes Jordan into the ring post. The crowd seem a little dead for this match maybe because of the excitement of the previous match. A doctor is seeing to Jason Jordan now as The Bar continue to dominate Rollins. Sheamus and Cesaro make quick tags and beat down Rollins when he tries to make a comeback. Seth starts a decent comeback, hitting Cesaro with a blockbuster and a flacon arrow for a two count. Seth manages to hit a frog splash to both challengers and Jason Jordan gets back up onto the apron. Jordan tags himself in but he’s struggling to even stand up and he tags back out and walks down the steps. Sheamus makes a blind tag and hits Rollins with a brogue kick before The Bar hit the double white noise for the victory!
Result: Sheamus and Cesaro beat Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan by pinfall.
Review: This match was better than the crowd would lead you to believe. They were really quiet for it. But Rollins had a good match and looked pretty strong for most of the match but couldn’t win what was essentially a handicap match. The Bar are champions again and surely Jason Jordan is turning heel soon.
There’s an ad for the upcoming PPV’s.
There’s a VT showing the build to the triple threat match between Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman and Kane.
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane – Triple threat match for the Universal Championship
Background: At TLC 2017 Kane turned on Strowman when they were supposed to be teaming and crushed him in the back of a garbage truck; their team ultimately lost. The two then feuded over the next several weeks, leading to a match on the December 11 episode to determine the number one contender against Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble, but the match ended in a double countout. Raw General Manager Kurt Angle then decided that Lesnar would defend the title against both Kane and Strowman in a triple threat match at the event. On the January 8 episode, Kane attacked Lesnar from behind, followed by an attack from Strowman. After laying Kane and Lesnar out backstage, Strowman knocked over a lighting rig and crushed both. Lesnar was taken to a medical facility while Kane refused medical attention. Due to his actions, Strowman was removed from the triple threat match and fired by Angle. Strowman went on a rampage backstage, including destroying Angle’s office and flipping over a tractor. Before he could do anymore damage, Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon rehired Strowman, putting him back into the Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble.
Previous PPV matches: This is a first time triple threat match between these three men.
Match: The bell rings and it’s a fast paced start to the match with all three men going at it. Strowman actually dropkicks Lesnar. Strowman knees Lesnar in the face hard accidentally and Brock responds by punching Braun in the face twice. Strowman and Kane go at it but Lesnar re-joins the fight with a chair and smashes Kane with it! Strowman then punches the chair out of Brock’s hands and throws him out of the ring. Strowman lays out both men with stairs and then rolls tables into the ring. Strowman sets up the tables but Lesnar attacks him from behind with German suplexes. Braun then powerslams Brock through a table and pins him but Kane breaks it up. Kane shoves Strowman through a table. Brock hits an F5 on Kane and then pins him but Strowman breaks it up by German suplexing Lesnar out of the ring. Braun then looks to hit a powerslam on Lesnar through the announce desk but Brock counters and F5’s Braun through the desk before tipping another announce desk on top. Brock then F5’s Kane through the Spanish announce table!
Braun Strowman gets back up to his feet and hits two powerslams on Lesnar. Kane then attacks Braun with a chair multiple times. Kane motions for a tombstone on Lesnar but Brock counters, shoves Kane into Strowman and then hits an F5 on Kane onto a chair for the victory.
Result: Brock Lesnar wins by pinfall.
Review: This match was ok. It had plenty of action but it was a bit of a slow heavyweight clash. Realistically there would only be one winner. Plenty of tables, chairs and stairs but Brock is the winner and will probably go on to Wrestlemania.
They plug the next PPV, Elimination Chamber.
There’s a VT for the women’s Royal Rumble match.
Maria Menounos is the special guest ring announcer for the women’s Royal Rumble match. She introduces Stephanie McMahon as the special guest commentator. Raw Women’s Champions Alexa Bliss and Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte come out to ringside to get a better view.
The 2018 Women’s Royal Rumble match
Match: The match starts off with two big names in Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. A really strong start to the match. Sarah Logan, making her PPV debut gets the generally terrible #3 spot. Lita is the first surprise entrant and she gets a huge pop. It’s fin seeing Lita go toe to toe with the likes of Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. Mandy Rose has the distinction of being the first ever girl eliminated in a women’s Royal Rumble. NXT’s Kairi Sane is a cool surprise entrant. Lita hits twists of fate on Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks before hitting them both with a moonsault. “You’ve still got it” chant the crowd. She eliminates Tamina but is then eliminated herself by Becky. Dana Brooke eliminates Kairi Sane which was slightly surprising. Torrie Wilson is the next woman from the past to join the match. Lots of PPV debuts in this match, Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose both wrestling on PPV for the first time.
Molly Holly gets a good pop as she comes out. Molly looks great too, not looking like she’s missed a beat as she eliminates Sarah Logan and then hits a Molly-go-round on Sasha. A massive “Rusev Day” chant breaks out as Lana makes her entrance. Charlotte and Alexa must be disappointed to not be involved tonight as they watch on from ringside. Michelle McCool comes in hot too but she probably won’t be too chuffed with the “Undertaker” chant that accompanies her. Michelle cleans house, eliminating Sonya, Liv, Molly and Lana. That leaves the latest entrant and the first two girls. Vickie Guerrero is hilarious screaming “excuse me” as she walks down to the ring. Vickie grabs the briefcase out of Carmella’a hands as she makes her entrance and then hits her with it. Another fun surprise is Kelly Kelly.
Ruby Riott eliminating Becky Lynch is a massive elimination for Riott. Great to see Jacqueline back. The NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon is a surprise entrant at #23. There’s a great spot with Naomi nearly getting eliminated but landing on the barricade. She then walks around the barricade, ushers Maria Menounos out of her seat and wheel herself back into the ring….just to get eliminated by Nia Jax. Great to see Beth Phoenix back, I’m a big fan. she doesn’t last long, her old mate Natalya turns on her and eliminates her. Asuka is over. Carmella is really stiff with some of her kicks. A big “John Cena sucks” chant as Nikki Bella gets involved. Co-incidence that Brie gets the number straight after her sister Nikki. Nia Jax takes a big timeout on the outside. Bayley draws #29, I’d have had her in earlier. Trish gets a massive pop as she completes the field.
The crowd are on their feet as Trish Stratus and Mickie James face off. And the rivalry comes full circle when Trish eliminates Mickie. It takes 7 women to eliminate Nia. Sasha then eliminates her best friend Bayley. The final four are Sasha Banks, Asuka and The Bella Twins. The Bella Twins eliminate Sasha and then Nikki eliminates Brie! Asuka wins the match, kicking Nikki Bella off the apron.
Asuka wins, last eliminating Nikki Bella.
- Sasha Banks (27 – The Bella Twins)
- Becky Lynch (14 – Ruby Riott)
- Sarah Logan (7 – Molly Holly)
- Mandy Rose (1 – Lita)
- Lita (3 – Becky Lynch)
- Kairi Sane (4 – Dana Brooke)
- Tamina (2 – Lita)
- Dana Brooke (5 – Torrie Wilson)
- Torrie Wilson (6 – Sonya Deville)
- Sonya Deville (8 – Michelle McCool)
- Liv Morgan (9 – Michelle McCool)
- Molly Holly (10 – Michelle McCool)
- Lana (11 – Michelle McCool)
- Michelle McCool (13 – Natalya)
- Ruby Riott (17 – Nia Jax)
- Vickie Guerrero (12 – Michelle, Sasha, Ruby & Becky)
- Carmella (21 – Nikki Bella)
- Natalya (25 – Trish Stratus)
- Kelly Kelly (16 – Nia Jax)
- Naomi (18 – Nia Jax)
- Jacqueline (15 – Nia Jax)
- Nia Jax (23 – The Bella’s, Natalya, Trish, Sasha, Bayley & Asuka)
- Ember Moon (20 – Asuka)
- Beth Phoenix (19 – Natalya)
- Asuka – Winner
- Mickie James (22 – Trish Stratus)
- Nikki Bella (29 – Asuka)
- Brie Bella (28 – Nikki Bella)
- Bayley (24 – Sasha Banks)
- Trish Stratus (26 – Sasha Banks)
Review: This was a great match. Loads of surprises, loads of women from the past and loads of cool moments. Asuka wins and goes to Wrestlemania to fight for a title. A well deserved winner. A little predictable but predictable isn’t always bad. A fantastic Royal Rumble match, one of the best of all time.
After the match Charlotte and Alexa Bliss get in the ring and Asuka stands between them, eyeing up her potential opponent at Wrestlemania. “Bad Reputation” then hits and the crowd go nuts as Ronda Rousey walks out from the back! Ronda eyes up Charlotte, Asuka and Alexa Bliss before pointing to the Wrestlemania sign! She offers Asuka her hand and Asuka bats it away. Rousey then points to the Wrestlemania sign again. Ronda offers her hand to Stephanie McMahon who reluctantly shakes it.
And that was Royal Rumble 2018. It was a really interesting show. It started well, I enjoyed the first three matches with AJ Styles beating Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens and then The Usos beating Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin. The Royal Rumble was fun and I didn’t call Shinsuke Nakamura winning but I like it. AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura at Wrestlemania could be very good. The Hurricane was my favourite surprise in that match. The next two matches were ok with Cesaro and Sheamus beating Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan and then Brock Lesnar retaining the Universal Championship against Kane and Braun Strowman. And then came a really fun women’s Royal Rumble. Loads of surprises, loads of legends, a big win for Asuka who remains undefeated and then the debut of Ronda Rousey! It might be my favourite Royal Rumble of all time because of all the surprises. Really well booked and great to see some legends from the past.
Overall Rating: 68.3/100 (ranked joint 28th out of 355)
Match Of The Night: The women’s Royal Rumble match
Worst Match Of The Night: Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane
Surprise Of The Night: All of the great surprises in both Royal Rumble matches
Worst Booking Of The Night: N/A
Superstar Of The Night: Asuka
Royal Rumble 2019 Will Be Remembered For: Asuka winning the first ever women’s Royal Rumble and the debut of Ronda Rousey