After several weeks (weaks?) of subpar building, the 2018 Royal Rumble took place in my hometown – the birthplace of America, the city of underdogs, home to the NFC champion (and future Super Bowl champion) the Philadelphia Eagles – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Rumble is always one of my favorite WWE PPVs, because it’s always full of spectacle and surprises.
AJ Styles Defeated Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens
The show kicked off with AJ Styles defending his championship against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. I was surprised to have a WWE title match opening up the show and surprised not to see any involvement by the SmackDown Commissioner or General Manager. Pretty much confirms there is zero chance of Bryan wrestling in a WWE ring again. I hated their involvement in Clash of Champions, but this match needed it. I guess such chaos would have placed it later on the card, though.
The match was fine, but the rules made it overly complicated (much like CoC) and took away from what was a decent match. I know Owens is working hurt, so I was surprised to see him in take as much punishment as he did. AJ retained, which is good news considering the winner of the men’s Rumble match. The finish was a bit screwy, so looks like this feud will continue to live on for a bit more. Oh, joy.
The Usos Defeated Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin
I felt like this is the match that should have opened up the show. What do you do when you have the two most exciting tag teams going up against one another in a 2 out of 3 falls match? Well, you make it a quick 2-0 victory for the defending champs.
I hope to see this feud continue, because it has yet to live up to its potential. Unfortunately, it looks like they might squash it soon in order to help the Bludgeon Brothers (bleh!) get over. Vince loves him some big, hairy dudes.
Shinsuke Nakamura Wins the Men’s Royal Rumble Match
I predicted Elias would open the Rumble with his guitar in the middle of the ring with the lights shining solely on him. I expected he’d be the iron man of the Rumble. I was wrong. The Men’s Rumble match opened up to the biggest pop I’ve heard before a Rumble match in a long, long time.
— Edwin Iguina ✊🏼🇵🇷 (@EdwinIguina) January 29, 2018
Finn Balor entered in at number 2. I would have liked to see him in his “Demon” get-up, but I get it. It’s a long match and being covered in Venom makeup would be impractical, I guess.
Here is a list of things I popped for:
- Heath Slater getting smacked around and prevented from getting into the ring.
- The performance by Cien Almas. The dude fit right in with the guys on the main roster. I hate that he got eliminated by Orton. (I hate Orton.)
- Pancake Gate! Kofi Kingston and the New Day put on a show last night with their spot. Tossing him back in there like he was a cheerleader was awesome.
- The return of Rey Mysterio. The guy looks amazing. Was great seeing him back in the WWE. I pray to all that is holy he’s coming on full time and they don’t put him in 205 Live.
- The “You both suck!” chants.
Things I hated:
- The Raw tag champs and contenders taking spots in the Rumble match.
- Tye Dillinger as collateral damage. I’m a big Dillinger mark. Hate his spot was taken from him. I hope he starts a (competitive) feud with Zayn. I need the full Tye Dillinger entrance on my television each week.
- John Cena’s mouth. You could see and hear him calling spots. It’s my biggest pet peeve. The dude just can’t help himself. Him and Reigns draped over the second rope waiting to eat a 619 from Mystery and John’s just shooting the shit.
- Not giving Rhyno the Gore. The crowd was crazy with ECW chants for Rhyno. Rhyno took off to land a Gore on Corbin and was blocked. I was irritated by this. Just let the guy get his pop. The place would have exploded if he landed it.
- Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy. These two should be gold. Instead their feud is just trash. I’m glad they eliminated each other, but it was so unceremonious. They might as well not been in the match to begin with. (Side note: Matt looks like he’s been hitting that DDP Yoga. Dude looks the best he has in years.)
The Bar Defeated Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan
This match was painful to watch. The crowd was dead silent. It was more a showcase for Seth than anything. I know Jason is working hurt. I hated they went with the concussion route, but it is what it is. Jordan’s selling was pretty meh. I’m a bit jaded here, because this is not the route I wanted the Jason Jordan storyline to go. The Bar retains. Please break these two up and have them feud. Bring back whiny Jason Jordan and do away with mouthy Jason Jordan.
Brock Lesnar Defeated Kane and Braun Strowman
Big guys never look good against each other, but when you make it a triple threat match with three big guys, it looks even worse. Braun was solid. He did have that mishap with the knee that pissed off Lesnar. Lesnar got up and legit punched him. You could notice the bleeps while he hands Braun the receipt. We all knew Kane was there to take the fall. For all the spots and all the carnage of furniture left by these three, it supremely underdelivered. I think it has more to do with Brock’s boring as hell title reign, though. It’s time to move on.
Asuka Wins the Women’s Royal Rumble Match
I was excited for this match. I was also worried for this match. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch set the tone of the match. Sarah Logan and Mandy Rose looked real strong. I popped as much as anyone for Lita until… I saw her wrestle. That Litasault was hard to watch. Most of the legends held their own, though. They booked Michelle McCool like she was Roman Reigns. She was on a rampage.
Here is a list of things I popped for:
- Sasha Banks’ Wonder Woman inspired ring attire.
- Beth Phoenix vs. Nia Jax – This interaction could’ve and should’ve gone longer. I want this to be a Wrestlemania match.
- Ember Moon vs. Asuka – Nice nod to their NXT days. Asuka talking smack on Ember’s arm injury was the best. Asuka is absolute gold!
- Mickie James vs. Trish Stratus – I remember the feud between these two as being absolutely epic. They don’t make feuds in women’s wrestling like they used to.
- Double Stratisfaction on the Bella Twins. What a great spot!
Things I hated:
- “Excuse me!”
- Lita’s Litasault
- Stephanie’s commentary.
- Nia continues to disappoint.
- Ronda Rousey’s debut. It took away from the moment. She looked so uncomfortable out there. The jacket was a nice touch. It was Roddy Piper’s jacket, but, man, way to shit on the moment. So awkward. So uncomfortable. It all fell so flat.
Overall, it was a good show. Lots of spectacle. The women’s Rumble match was a solid dose of nostalgia, but represented so much more. It was a massive improvement over last year’s Money in the Bank and showed us how strong the women’s division can be.
2018 Royal Rumble
Both Rumble matches were excellent. Unfortunately, both Raw title matches were not. Glad Ronda’s on full time, because she’s going to need to learn how to cut a promo ASAP.