Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages – 2018 Royal Rumble Recap and Reaction – January 28, 2018

This crowd at the Wells Fargo Center got a hell of a warm up in the kick off show, and since Philly fans are notoriously ….. let’s go with loud, they should be on fire for the next 4 hours.  Not let’s get on the ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA!!!!!!

Handicap Match for the WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens

Kind of an odd choice to kick off the show with, but clearly someone from this match is involved in the Rumble and needs some rest time.  Then again, I wouldn’t put The Usos too early in a match again for a while after they stole the show with New Day at Summerslam before Summerslam even officially started.

To close out the kick off show, Ric Flair was on hand talking about the card for the evening and was asked about this one.  While he didn’t see it going well for AJ, he did point out that if anyone in the company was in the condition to win this level of handicapped match, it was Styles, going on to refer to AJ as the Shawn Michaels of this generation.

Owens and Zayn were just tagging each other in and out of the match for the first several minutes, attempting to avoid any opportunity AJ would have to get the offensive flurry started.  Once we finally got going, Owens would seemingly re-injure the leg that Styles targeted on Smackdown Tuesday night.  At this point, Styles found the opportunities to isolate his opponents and chip away.

Zayn and Owens worked as a well oiled machine, and honestly, I don’t know if another three guys in the company could have made a handicapped match more entertaining.  AJ Styles retains on a reversal of the Pop-Up Powerbomb into a roll up while Zayn was down on the outside.  There was some controversy around the ending, so this one ain’t done yet, not by a long shot.

2-out-of-3 Falls Match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos (C) vs Gable & Benjamin

Completely amped for this match going in, as I have been for every one of The Usos PPV matches since Summerslam, so if I trail off in some kind of disappointment, it’s probably my excessive expectations to blame.

I still find Shelton Benjamin incredibly boring.  His promo skills are crap, and it’s forcing Gable to have to work overtime in promo situations to get them over, which is not his strength either but he’s ok at it.  The Usos are on another level.  I really wish they were on Raw or The Revival were on Smackdown, as they could lead clinics on how a great tag team works together in matches.  Then again, I think I’d be on board for Usos vs AoP very, very soon.

After a few false finishes, The Usos picked up the first fall (1-0) with the Superkick tandem that DIY used to do (sad emoji).

I literally went to blow my nose and The Usos picked up a second fall (2-0).  A clean sweep as Shelton Benjamin got rolled up trying to set up for their tag finisher.  That seriously came out of nowhere.  Weird.

And yes, I am rather disappointed, but it wasn’t terrible.

The Men’s Royal Rumble Match

  • #1: Rusev
  • #2: Finn Balor
  • #3: Rhyno
  • #4: Baron Corbin
    • #1: Baron Corbin eliminated Rhyno
    • #2: Finn Balor eliminated Baron Corbin
  • #5: Heath Slater
  • #6: Elias
  • #7: Andrade “Cien” Almas
  • #8: Bray Wyatt
  • #9: Big E
  • #10: Sami Zayn (Tye Dillinger was jumped in the backstage area by Owens and Zayn, and Zayn stole his entry.)
  • #11: Sheamus
    • #3: Heath Slater eliminated Sheamus
    • #4: Bray Wyatt eliminated Heath Slater
  • #12: Xavier Woods
  • #13: Apollo Crews (who the Philadelphia crowd did not seem to like at all)
  • #14: Shinsuke Nakamura
    • #5: Shinsuke Nakamura eliminated Sami Zayn
  • #15: Cesaro
  • #16: Kofi Kingston
    • #6: Cesaro eliminated Apollo Crews
  • #17: Jinder Mahal
    • #7: Jinder Mahal eliminated Xavier Woods
    • #8: Jinder Mahal eliminated Big E
  • #18: Seth Rollins
    • #9: Seth Rollins eliminated Cesaro
    • #10: Kofi Kingston eliminated Jinder Mahal
    • #11: Andrade “Cien” Almas eliminated Kofi Kingston
  • #19: Woken Matt Hardy
    • #12: Bray Wyatt/Matt Hardy eliminated Rusev
    • #13: Bray Wyatt eliminated Matt Hardy
    • #14: Matt Hardy eliminated Bray Wyatt
  • #20: John Cena
    • #15: John Cena eliminated Elias Samson
  • #21: Shane “The Hurricane” Helms
    • #16: John Cena eliminated Shane “The Hurricane” Helms
  • #22: Aiden English
  • #23: Adam Cole BAY BAY!
    • #17: Finn Balor eliminated Aiden English
  • #24: Randy Orton
    • #18: Randy Orton eliminated Andrade “Cien” Almas
  • #25: Titus O’Neil
  • #26: The Miz
  • #27: Rey Mysterio IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    • #19: Rey Mysterio eliminated Adam Cole
  • #28: Roman Reigns
    • #20: Roman Reigns eliminated Titus O’Neil
    • #21: Roman Reigns/Seth Rollins eliminated The Miz
    • #22: Roman Reigns eliminated Seth Rollins
  • #29: Golddust
  • #30: Dolph Ziggler
    • #23: Dolph Ziggler eliminated Golddust
    • #24: Finn Balor eliminated Dolph Ziggler
    • #25: Roman Reigns eliminated Randy Orton
    • #26: Finn Balor eliminated Rey Mysterio
    • #27: John Cena eliminated Finn Balor
    • #28: Shinsuke Nakamura eliminated John Cena
    • #29: Shinsuke Nakamura eliminated Roman Reigns


Post match, Renee Young enters the ring to get Shinsuke’s championship of choice for Wrestlemania, to which he soundly responds: A J Styles!

Notes from the Rumble:  It really should be noted how high quality the performance Andrade “Cien” Almas was in this match.  Very strong showing from the NXT Champion.  The only time tonight I’ve not been on board with this audience was when they launched into deafening “you both suck” chants as Cena and Reigns went into their stare downs.

Raw Tag Team Championship: Jason Jordan and Seth Rollins (C) vs The Bar

Seth Rollins is a work horse, man.  He was in the Royal Rumble for at least a half hour, and then he had time to go get hosed back down before coming right back to the ring for this one.

Keep an eye on reports around this one, as Sheamus got hung up on the top rope and appeared to strain his back.  Remember that the Celtic Warrior is on borrowed time in the ring as he’s already suffering the effects of the same Spinal Stenosis that ended the careers of both Stone Cold Steve Austin and Edge.  He kept pushing in this match, just something to be mindful of.

Rollins started the match at a rapid fire pace.  Jason Jordan would soon after get attacked on the outside and driven into the ring post, where he stayed down for quite a while as Seth Rollins took an ass kicking.  Rollins put in a ton of work here, and when he finally got to tag his partner in, Jason Jordan acted too dazed to perform and immediately tagged him back in.  Cesaro and Sheamus went rapid tag offensive, delivering a Brogue Kick followed by the diving assisted White Noise.

Sheamus and Cesaro are your new Raw Tag Team Champions.  Congratulations, and Happy 40th Birthday to the Celtic Warrior.

Triple Threat Match for the WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (C) vs Braun Strowman vs Kane

Holy crap, the women get to main event.

Braun Strowman laid everything in his path to waste.  When Lesnar attempted to even the odds here, since he’s oddly outsized, he brought a chair to the party.  Braun Strowman threw a punch into the swinging chair and won the fight.  I’m surprised it didn’t create one of those DragonBall Z supernova explosion type things when they collided.

After being taken to Suplex City, Strowman got right back up and drove Lesnar through a table.  Later, Strowman picked up dead weight Lesnar with a waist lock right into a German Suplex.  Give this man the damn belt already.

Brock would land an F5 on Strowman through the German announce table.  Lesnar then flipped the American announce table on top of Strowman.

Kane finally regrouped by this point and went for a chokeslam, only to have it reversed and he took an F5 through the Spanish announce table.  So now there are ten commentators just standing around a pile of Ikea furniture pieces.

And Strowman got right the hell back up, delivering two powerslams to Lesnar.  Kane would come back to life and bring another chair into the ring, saving Lesnar from Braun.  Lesnar pushed Kane into Strowman on the apron, knocking him to the floor, then he delivered an F5 on Kane onto a steel chair, picking up the pinfall.

Brock Lesnar, to the surprise of no one, is still the Universal Champion.

The Women’s Royal Rumble Match

  • #1: Sasha Banks
  • #2: Becky Lynch
  • #3: Sarah Logan
  • #4: Mandy Rose
  • #5: Lita
    • #1: Sarah Logan eliminated Mandy Rose
  • #6: Kairi Sane
  • #7: Tamina
    • #2: Lita eliminated Tamina
    • #3: Becky Lynch eliminated Lana
  • #8: Dana Brooke
    • #4: Dana Brooke eliminated Kairi Sane
  • #9: Torrie Wilson
    • #5: Torrie Wilson eliminated Dana Brooke
  • #10: Sonya DeVille
    • #6: Sonya DeVille eliminated Torrie Wilson
  • #11: Liv Morgan
  • #12: Molly Holly
    • #7: Molly Holly eliminated Sarah Logan
  • #13: Lana
  • #14: Michelle McCool
    • #8: Michelle McCool eliminated Sonya DeVille
    • #9: Michelle McCool eliminated Liv Morgan
    • #10: Michelle McCool eliminated Molly Holly
    • #11: Michelle McCool eliminated Lana
  • #15: Ruby Riott
  • #16: Vickie Guerrero
    • #12: Sasha/Ruby/Michelle/Becky eliminated Vickie Guerrero
  • #17: Carmella
  • #18: Natalya
  • #19: Kelly Kelly
    • #13: Natalya eliminated Michelle McCool
  • #20: Naomi
    • #14: Ruby Riott eliminated Becky Lynch
  • #21: Jacqueline
  • #22: Nia Jax
    • #15: Nia Jax eliminated Jacqueline
    • #16: Nia Jax eliminated Kelly Kelly
    • #17: Nia Jax eliminated Ruby Riott
  • #23: Ember Moon
    • #18: Nia Jax eliminated Naomi
  • #24: Beth Phoenix
    • #19: Natalya eliminated Beth Phoenix
  • #25: Asuka
    • #20: Asuka eliminated Ember Moon
  • #26: Mickie James
  • #27: Nikki Bella
    • #21: Nikki Bella eliminated Carmella
  • #28: Brie Bella
  • #29: Bayley
  • #30: Trish Stratus
    • #22: Trish Stratus eliminated Mickie James
    • #23: The rest of the field eliminated Nia Jax
    • #24: Sasha Banks eliminated Bayley
    • #25: Trish Stratus eliminated Natalya
    • #26: Sasha Banks eliminated Trish Stratus
    • #27: The Bella Twins eliminated Sasha Banks
    • #28: Nikki Bella eliminated Brie Bella
    • #29: Asuka eliminated Nikki Bella

Asuka wins the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble Match

The two women’s champions join Asuka in the ring awaiting her decision, but it is interrupted by Ronda Rowsey, who points at the Wrestlemania sign and no one says anything.

What the hell just happened?

Final Thoughts:

Matt:  Why is everyone so excited about Ronda Rousey?  I just don’t get it.  You hate Brock Lesnar and now you’re amped to get another MMA part timer who’s going to get an obscene push without having to work to get there?  I don’t know.  But f*** that, Asuka and Nakamura won their Royal Rumble matches.  So the night is not a total loss.  I’m going to give the overall show an A.  So yes, on the whole I am grading it better than TakeOver, but Cole-Black and Gargano-Almas were unquestionably the best part of the weekend.  Hands down.

Jeremy: What a big night for Japan!  I kind of expected Asuka to win but I really didn’t expect Nakamura.  It makes sense though.  You want to tee up a “Dream Match” for AJ at Wrestlemania.  If AJ can make a match with Shane phenomenal, just imagine what he can do with Nak.  Asuka’s entrance at Wrestlemania is going to be incredible.  The two tag matches did nothing for me.  The only thing I liked about the Triple threat was Braun yelling at Brock at the end.  I did very much enjoy the handicap match.  For the two Rumbles, the men kept the tension.  WWE did some expert level trolling having Roman be in the final two.  Vince was smart enough to realize that Philly would burn the whole city down if Roman won again.  And Roman doesn’t really need a reason to get to Brock at Mania.  But WWE made us feel like it could go very, very wrong.

The women’s rumble was exciting because they had to fill it with a lot of surprises.  I didn’t really like that the legends seemed to get a lot of eliminations.  I feel like they shouldn’t have lasted as long.  But damn, it was great to see Lita back in a WWE ring.

The stupidest move in the whole show went to Nikki Bella.  Why eliminate your sister to go one-on-one with Asuka?  The only way either of you could win is through teamwork.  Instead, you just proved that you weren’t ready for Asuka.

As far as Rousey goes, I’ll take her over Brock any day.  Sure, she might end up being a part-timer but she truly loves the wrestling business.  She filled up her instagram with photos of her time in Bogota, Columbia.  She knows how to play the game.  I don’t think she’ll be a part-timer either.  Brock doesn’t care about wrestling.  Or at least, not very often.  I actually saw Ronda at an NXT show in Riverside a couple months ago.  Besides going to the curtain at one point to briefly talk to Roddy Strong, she was just there as a fan.  And she had a great time.