Tonight was the annual Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View and for the first time ever there was a Women’s Royal Rumble. One thing that was implemented before the show started tonight was that the winner of both Royal Rumble matches would be able to choose which champion they would face at Wrestlemania. The Royal Rumble is always full of surprises and moments and tonight we saw some memorable ones to start the Road to Wrestlemania! Before I begin with my thoughts on tonights Royal Rumble here are the results of what was an epic night:
-Pre-show: Kalisto/Gran Metalik/Lince Dorado defeated TJP/Jack Gallagher/Drew Gulak
-Pre-show: The Revival defeated The Club
-Pre-show: Bobby Roode defeated Mojo Rawley to retain the WWE United States Championship
-AJ Styles defeated Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to retain the WWE Championship
-The Uso’s defeated Shelton Benjamin/Chad Gable in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match to retain the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championships
-Shinsuke Nakamura wins the 30 Man Royal Rumble Match
-The Bar(Cesaro and Sheamus) defeated Jason Jordan and Seth Rollins to win the WWE Raw Tag Team Championships
-Asuka wins the 30 Woman Royal Rumble Match
The pre-show consisted of three matches and the first was a 6-Man Tag Match with the stars of 205 Live. Originally 205 Live was suppose to be in the spotlight with Cedric Alexander challenging for the Cruiserweight Championship. Instead we had Kalisto, Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik taking on TJP, Jack Gallagher and Drew Gulak. I feel like this match set the tone for the Cruiserweights getting back to basics and starting from scratch. Hopefully this Tuesday on 205 Live when we find out who the new GM is we get a sense of where the division is heading. Following the Cruiserweights we were treated to tag team action with The Revival and The Club. As most you know who follow HWOS know that I was not happy that The Club and The Revival were thrown into a five minute meaningless match at the 25th Anniversary of Raw. I really felt The Revival needed the win more and I am glad they got it. The final match of the pre-show was Bobby Roode’s United States Championship which was answered by Mojo Rawley. I am not surprised that it was Mojo just like I wasn’t surprised that Bobby Roode retained the title.
The opening match of the Royal Rumble was the WWE Championship Handicap Match between champion AJ Styles and his challengers Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. This was the first time that there was an opportunity for two people to hold the WWE Championship at the same time. This was a really good match that tested the waters for it to happen again down the road. AJ knows how to tell a story and put on a great show but it helped he had two great people to work with as well. We go from a handicap match to a two out of three falls match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships. The Uso’s have been the standard bearers in the tag team division in the WWE for the last several years. Even though The Uso’s are a great tag team but you can only do so much and go so far until a new team needs to get the spotlight. Obviously WWE did not see this because Shelton and Gable lost to The Uso’s in two straight falls. I am actually kind of shocked Shelton and Gable lost that cleanly and that quick.
Speaking of shocking things I was really shocked that the Men’s Royal Rumble match was on the middle of the card. The beginning of the Rumble started with Rusev and Finn Balor which is an intriguing start to the Royal Rumble because how over they both are with the crowd. It was a chaotic start to the Rumble when Balor eliminated Corbin because Corbin then went after Slater, Balor and Rusev to put a halt to the Rumble match. I was really shocked the Andrade Cien Almas enter at number 7 after the grueling match he had last night against Johnny Gargano. I was not shocked however when Zayn attacked Tye Dillinger backstage and took his spot in the Rumble match. It was really interesting to see Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy work together momentarily and then eliminate each other. Another surprise tonight was the return of Hurricane Helms who was quickly eliminated by John Cena and then we saw Adam Cole come out after the brutal match he had at Takeover. The final 6 were Finn Balor, John Cena, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Shinsuke Nakamura and a returning Rey Mysterio. Dolph Ziggler returned at number 30 but they kind of wasted it like they have always done with him. The final two came down to Shinsuke Nakamura and Roman Reigns after Finn Balor and John Cena were eliminated. After fighting back and forth for several minutes Nakamura finally eliminated Roman Reigns and declared he would take on AJ Styles on at Wrestlemania 34.
After all that excitement in the Royal Rumble match we went into the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship where Seth Rollins, Cesaro and Sheamus were all in the Royal Rumble match prior to this match. The odd thing about this match is that Jason Jordan was barely in the match but that could be due to something going with his back injury or its going to lead to a bigger part of his storyline. I am happy that Sheamus and Cesaro are once again WWE Raw Tag Team Champions and I am hoping they get a big Wrestlemania moment together. The WWE Universal Championship Match was a chaotic scene with Braun Strowman being destructive as usual. I don’t understand why they have been pushing Strowman this much and then won’t pull the trigger on putting the championship.
In the Main Event, it was first ever Women’s Royal Rumble Match. Stephanie McMahon was on commentary while Alexa Bliss and Charlotte set at ringside. The first two women to enter the match were Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. The first surprises of the night were Lita and Kairi Sane and they were back to back. The other surprises were Torrie Wilson, Molly Holly, Michelle McCool, Vickie Guerrero, Kelly Kelly, Jacqueline, Ember Moon, Beth Phoenix, Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, and Trish Stratus. There was a few rough spots in the match but overall the match went really well and all the women should be very proud of what they did tonight. The final four in the match were the Bella Twins, Sasha Bank and Asuka. The Bella Twins eliminated Sasha and then Nikki turned on Brie. This lead to Nikki and Asuka as the final two. The match had a few rough spots but overall it was a really good match and in the end Asuka won the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble. Even though Rousey was not in the Rumble match she appeared to confront Asuka, Alexa Bliss and Charlotte. Even though it’s a huge moment I felt the timing of it was not well planned out because it took away from Asuka’s moment.
When it comes to moments there were plenty of them tonight. I thought this was one of the better Royal Rumble pay-per-views that I can remember that last few years. I really felt the right people won in every match except for the Universal Title match but we all know the politics where it’s headed. I would rate the Royal Rumble an 8 out of 10 for match quality and have some really surprising and quality entrants for both Royal Rumble Matches. The women should be very proud of themselves for what they did tonight and the entire roster really stepped up tonight to follow what NXT did the night before. The Royal Rumble is over and now we are on the Road to Wrestlemania. This also marks the return of my weekly column for the next 10 weeks where I will be covering the weekly happenings in WWE as we march toward to Wrestlemania.