So WWE’s second biggest pay-per-view event took place last night in Philadelphia, but what happened at the Royal Rumble and what do the outcomes mean for the future as the Road to Wrestlemania commences.
Kalisto, Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado vs TJP, Jack Gallagher & Drew Gulak
This was the first match of the night and it was done in a near empty stadium which says quite a lot about the current state of 205 Live really. Either way there was a really cool triple moonsault spot from the Luchadores and Kalisto hit a pretty nice Salida Del Sol on TJP for the win.
What does this mean?: 205 Live needs a big boost with all that is going on and hopefully with this new General Manager that is being implemented this week that should help things. Enzo is obviously not champion anymore and Rich Swann won’t be coming back anytime soon either, but Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali’s 205 Live mega bout was promising signs for the future. Could a certain surprise returner at this year’s Rumble be what the show needs to get the ball rolling again?
The Club vs The Revival
A slow paced match between two of the better tag teams in WWE, which is a real shame because as I say they are both great. Gallows and Anderson sold injuries well and allowed for Dash Wilder to gain a roll-up victory for The Revival. It was pretty difficult to get on board with the way this match went in all honesty.
What does this mean?: The Club are fine, they will re-unite with Finn Balor and move into more of a main event scene soon thanks to the star power they all have worldwide. As for The Revival, hopefully this can kick them on and maybe see them move towards a possible feud with top level tag teams like The Bar.
Bobby Roode (C) vs Mojo Rawley – US Title Open Challenge
Bobby Roode hosted an open challenge for his United States title in the final match of the pre-show against Mojo Rawley. The match was messy and the finish was botched as Roode hit the most un-glorious Glorious DDT I have ever witnessed. I don’t know what they are planning with Mojo but he is barely mid-card talent at this rate.
What does this mean?: Not an awful lot really, maybe Roode needs a couple of defences before the title matches can really heat up but this one wasn’t great. Hopefully feuds with people such as Jinder Mahal or Dolph Ziggler can reignite the US Title picture again.
Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens vs AJ Styles (C) – WWE Championship 2-on-1 Handicap Match
In a truly bizarre stipulation, AJ Styles defended his WWE title against both Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens in a 2-on-1 handicap match to kick off the main show. It was an enjoyable match with quite a few decent spots, including an incredible show of athleticism from Styles when he was flipped by Owens before hitting Zayn with a mid-air hurricarana. The match finished with Zayn missing a tag but the referee claiming it as a clean tag to Owens before AJ reversed a pop-up Powerbomb and rolled up Owens for the win to retain his title.
What does this mean?: Well the obvious occurred and Styles kept hold of the title, as he will do until Wrestlemania at least to set up a mega match with a certain Royal Rumble winner. As for Sami and Kevin, the controversy of the illegitimate tag means they can push this feud a bit further and maybe give them a rematch at Fastlane or before.
The Uso’s (C) vs Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin – Smackdown Tag Team Titles in a 2 out of 3 falls Match
This match seemed very sloppy from the first minute. There were very few memorable moments outside of the first fall, which saw The Uso’s host a Super Kick party and gain the first fall. I have never seen a 2-0 victory in a 2 out of 3 falls match before, until now; and the way they plotted the second fall just seems ridiculous. Yet another roll up for us to enjoy (or not) and The Uso’s retained their tag titles once more.
What does this mean?: Surely it means that Gable and Benjamin can take more of a backseat in the tag team title frame, they need a heavy heel turn to gain some more momentum and get back in the title picture. As for the Uso’s I expect them to carry on being one of the best tag teams going but maybe a title change could come soon, the opponents are yet to be known. Could it be Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn?
Men’s Royal Rumble Match
What on earth were WWE thinking putting this match THIRD on the main card? It is the match with the biggest attraction and the most potential for crowd pops, so why ruin the rest of the card by peaking crowd reactions so early. The match started with Rusev (the most over man in the company right now) and Finn Balor as the first two entrants. Rhyno, coming in at number three, was the first to be eliminated followed by a very angry Baron Corbin. Corbin then went on a tear and dragged Balor and Rusev out the ring without eliminating them. Heath Slater then became a great meme at number five as he was wiped out on the ramp by Corbin and each person that came in afterwards hit him as they went past. A truly great moment followed when Sheamus dragged Slater into the ring but was then eliminated by the jobber Heath, truly hilarious.
A truly wasted spot was Bray Wyatt’s moment with Matt Hardy, where they appeared to be teaming up for about a minute before eliminating each other at the same time? Surely this feud has more to give. NXT Champion Andrade Cien Almas put in an amazing half hour shift in the match before being eliminated by Randy Orton, just 24 hours after an amazing match at NXT Takeover with Johnny Gargano. We also saw Sami Zayn enter the match in the place of Tye Dillinger who was jumped by Zayn and Owens before he could enter. Sami Zayn’s masterplan of winning the match didn’t really go to plan, however, as entrant number 14 Shinsuke Nakamura eliminated him soon after arriving in the ring.
With Kofi Kingston entering at number 16 we got to see all three New Day members in the ring at the same time, but not for too long. Jinder Mahal swiftly eliminated Big E and Xavier Woods and as he went to eliminate Kofi we got our usual survival spot from Kingston, as he landed on a plate of pancakes and was elevated back into the ring by his fellow new Day members. Kofi’s survival then saw him eliminate Jinder Mahal with a Trouble In Paradise before Almas took out Kofi. One of the best eliminations came from Seth Rollins as he hit Cesaro with a springboard and the Swiss Cyborg catapulted over the top rope. It really heated up at number 20 as John Cena entered and brought the energy to the ring with an elimination to Elias. We got a truly hilarious return at number 21 courtesy of The Hurricane, who got a great crowd pop before being eliminated by John Cena.
Adam Cole became the second NXT Superstar to enter the Rumble this year as he entered the fray at number 23 and put on a good showing despite being battered up from his previous night’s bout with Aleister Black. A huge rumour was confirmed at number 27 when Rey Mysterio returned looking better than ever, hitting everyone with his incredible high flying moves and eliminating the aforementioned Adam Cole. The crowd’s cheers regarding Mysterio soon turned to boos when Roman Reigns appeared at 28 and clean up house with those uppercuts of his. He eliminated Titus O’Neil and The Miz alongside Seth Rollins before The Big Dog turned his back on Seth and eliminated him too.
Goldust the professional jobber came in at number 29 and did a couple of vintage moves before being eliminated. Number 30 was one of the worst kept secrets going as Dolph Ziggler came out but his “massive push” that we were promised clearly isn’t coming from this Rumble, as he was eliminated after only a couple of minutes by Finn Balor. We were then given an amazing moment by the final six in the match. We had an old guard vs new guard feeling as Reigns, Nakamura and Balor squared off with Orton, Cena and Mysterio before hell broke loose and the old guard hit their finishers on the new kids on the block. Roman Reigns eliminated Randy Orton and Finn Balor eliminated Rey Mysterio in quick succession to leave the final four laying on the canvas. Finn Balor’s incredible 57 minute performance came to an end when John Cena threw him over the to rope. John Cena was then eliminated by a great Kinshasa from Nakamura.
So then there were two, Roman Reigns (shock horror) and obvious fan favourie Shinsuke Nakamura. One of them was off to Wrestlemania to face the champion of their choosing. After some decent chain wrestling and build up including an amazing triangle choke on the top rope by Shinsuke, Nakamura survived a Reigns onslaught and eliminated Roman to win his first ever Rumble.
What does this mean?: Well for Nakamura it is obvious, he shall face AJ Styles at Wrestlemania for the WWE Title in a match to dream about. Roman Reigns will surely be facing Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title at Mania but that will be decided later on the road I am sure. Other side stories in this Rumble have been set up too, including the continuation of the Wyatt/Hardy feud and possible beef between Rollins and Reigns but who knows?
Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan (C) vs The Bar – Raw Tag Team Titles
Everyone apart from Jason Jordan in this match took part in the Men’s Rumble match before this one but that didn’t slow the momentum one bit as this match worked really well. Jordan must be working with an injury because the majority of the match saw Rollins in the ring which worked in the favour of The Bar who won their titles back in fairly comfortable fashion.
What does this mean?: I can feel a Jordan heel turn coming at the expense of Rollins after this match. It could set up a Jason Jordan feud with his dad Kurt Angle and also a Seth Rollins singles run which may see him feature in an Elimination Chamber match at the next PPV. Expect The Bar to have a fairly long title run now because they seem comfortable at the top of Raw’s tag team division now.
Brock Lesnar (C) vs Braun Strowman vs Kane – Universal Title Triple Threat Match
This match was booked as a spot fest but in actual fact it was mainly a botched mess. There were tables shattered all over the place and sloppy moves aplenty, mainly because of the lack of athleticism from Kane. Brock obviously retained with an F-5 onto a chair to Kane and after the match was over Braun scrambled back into the ring as if this wasn’t over.
What does this mean?: Kane has been given his big push before retirement here and I think he will maybe be given one more huge match before he hangs up his boots and mask but there’s no title on the horizon for the Big Red Machine. Braun Strowman wasn’t pinned in this match to ensure he still looks strong and I can expect him to continue pursuing Brock in the coming weeks and months. He will win a Universal title within 12 months mark my words. As for Brock, this title is his until Mania where he will lose it to Roman Reigns in a boo fest.
Women’s Royal Rumble Match
Here it was. The main event was the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble Match. History was being made and the first two entrants were two of the four horsewomen, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks; which was clever because they’re clearly two of the best performers they have. The first woman to be eliminated was Mady Rose when entry number five Lita shoved her off the apron. Kairi Sane (winner of the Mae Young Classic) came in at number six and was an absolute star, be sure to look out for her on the main roster some time in the future.
The returning legends in this match were absolutely brilliant, as we saw Lita, Michelle McCool, Torrie Wilson, Kelly Kelly, Jacqueline, Molly Holly, Beth Phoenix, The Bella Twins, Trish Stratus and even Vickie Guerrero come back to WWE for this match. McCool was on great form as she eliminated five people and they all provided plenty of cool spots. Beth Phoenix and Natalya reunited before Natty eliminated the Glamazon with some great heel work, Trish Stratus faced off with Mickie James to pay homage to their amazing feud way back when; and Lita hit a vintage moonsault from the top rope to roll back the years.
Business really picked up in the latter numbers as bookies’ favourite Asuka entered along with Bayley, Mickie James and Nia Jax. Predictably, Nia was a wrecking ball when she first entered, eliminating three people in rapid succession but once the ring filled up she became a target, as is always the case in the men’s match when the larger athlete enters.
Naomi had her own Kofi Kingston moment when she was thrown out by Nia Jaz but landed on the barrier in front of the fans before walking along it and climbing onto a chair and wheeling over to the steel steps and surviving in the Rumble. Great stuff. It was all pretty short lived, however as she was the fourth person to be eliminated by Nia Jax immediately after. Jax was eliminated some time later by everyone in the ring, including The Bella Twins, Asuka, Trish, Sasha, Bayley and Natalya.
NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon faced off with her former rival Asuka and pulled off some amazing moves before The Empress of Tomorrow eliminated Moon. The Bella Twins’ return put a halt to the Asuka momentum, as did Bayley at 29 and Trish Stratus at 30 who ensured the ring was full of bonafide stars.
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch, the two who started the match off, put in great performances and lasted over half an hour each; the former of the two made it to the final four and put in a great heel turn shift by doing so. Banks eliminated Bayley and Trish Stratus on her way.
The final four was Asuka, Sasha Banks and The Bella Twins and the undefeated Asuka quickly became the target of the others. That was until Sasha Banks got too big for her boots and was swiftly eliminated by The Bellas. The odds were against Asuka when she was up against Nikki and Brie on her own but she was helped out by Nikki’s greed as she eliminates her own sister, perhaps with the Wrestlemania match in sight. With it just being between Asuka and Nikki Bella the finale seemed evident and logic prevailed as Asuka won a tense apron battle to claim victory in the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match.
Once the Rumble was over and Asuka was about to select her Wrestlemania opponent, we heard some unusual music and saw some unseen entrance art. Out comes RONDA ROUSEY to an absolutely unbelievable reception. No words were spoken, but plenty could be seen as to how this incredible name will be booked.
What does this mean?: Surely it means more groundbreaking female events in the WWE, whether that be an Elimination Chamber or whatever. The Women’s Rumble was pretty great with some really memorable moments and great returns as well as, of course, the aftermath which will go down in modern WWE history. Asuka will more than likely face Alexa Bliss at Mania and Ronda Rousey could face Charlotte but she could quite easily make a feud with Stephanie McMahon and go down that route too. Also Sasha Banks could be a heel now which would be fantastic.
This was a pretty great PPV, both Rumble matches were spot heavy and had some amazing crowd pops as well as some dream returns; but above all they were booked correctly, with the two best choices winning the matches. The WWE Title match was enjoyable as any AJ Styles match is but the roll up victory was kind of frustrating. I am happy that The Bar won the tag titles back and the only thing that really stops the PPV being a 9 or 9.5 is the disappointment of the Universal Title match and the strange booking of the 2 out of 3 falls match. The Road to Wrestlemania has begun and I for one think it has got off to a great start.