2018 Royal Rumble Recap

The 2018 Royal Rumble is in the books and the Road To WrestleMania has begun! I made some predictions on the Royal Rumble – how did they turn out? How was the show? Find out below.

Overall, this was a fun, entertaining pay-per-view. The Men’s Rumble was entertaining, with some surprises. The Women’s Rumble – the MAIN EVENT! – exceeded expectations, with many surprise entrants. The title matches were decent. The pre-show was better than I hoped. The break down:

The Pre-Show

U.S. Title Open Challenge

This match didn’t have the challenger that I predicted but it was still a decent match. Mojo Rawley – the challenger – didn’t bring anything spectacular to the table but what he did bring, it worked. Bobby Roode overcame the size and power disadvantages and made a successful initial title defense.

Prediction: Bobby Roode vs. Hideo Itami; Roode wins via ‘Glorious DDT’ – pinfall

Results: Roode vs. Mojo Rawley; Roode wins via ‘Glorious DDT’ – pinfall

Roode probably will go on have a few more Open Challenge defenses, before settling on a permanent challenger, leading into WrestleMania (WM). Mojo Rawley? He had a good enough showing to keep him on the fringes of the U.S. Title picture, possibly feuding with former partner Zack Ryder for a short period.


Gallows and Anderson vs. The Revival

I am soooo glad that this match wasn’t another squash match. Both teams are too good to have one beat the other in a 2 minute waste of time. This match featured the “Old School” ground-and-pound, focus-on-one-body-part methods of The Revival, and the cohesiveness of G&A. This time, The Revival pulled out the victory. This doesn’t necessarily hurt G&A’s Tag Team standing but it does help The Revival’s.

Prediction: The Revival, via pinfall (“Shatter Machine” to Anderson)

Results: The Revival, via pinfall


Kalisto, Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik vs. TJP, Jack Gallagher & Drew Gulak

My worry for this match was time – would they have more than a few minutes for this match? They did and the wrestlers did not disappoint. This was one of the best matches of the entire card. Drew Gulak’s “No Fly Zone” policy ‘clashed’ very well with the Luchador tag team opponents. Highly entertaining match!

Prediction: Gran Metalik’s team, via pinfall

Results: Gran Metalik’s team, via pinfall

Kalisto picked up the win with a Salina Del Sol on TJP.


Main Show

Smackdown (SD) Tag Team Championships: The Usos (Champions) vs. Benjamin and Gable (2 out of 3 Falls)

I predicted that this would be a Match of the Night candidate; some sarcastically reminded me of this later in the night. Parts of the first fall lived up to that hype. The Usos’s almost superhuman resilience was on display, as Benjamin and (especially) Gable laid a 10 minute clinic on tag team wrestling on them. The Usos turned the tide, started using their feet (You get a Superkick! And YOU get a Superkick!), and took control of the match. Some awesome near-falls occurred for both teams until Gable went for his Rolling German Suplex. Jimmy Uso went for a Superkick, Gable ducked, Jey Uso hit with a Superkick, Jimmy connected with I think was their 40th Kick of the match, then they hit a tandem Superkick to knock out Gable and take Fall #1.

Fall #2 started with an all-out assault on The Usos, inside and out of the ring. However, it would not last long. Benjamin was setting up a double-team maneuver when he was rolled up by Jimmy Uso. The Usos take Fall #2 and the match.

Predictions: Usos win Fall 1, B&G Fall 2, B&G, Fall 3. 

Results: Usos win 2-0

That was a very quick end to a very good match. I think it also ends Benjamin and Gable’s Title aspirations, in the short term. I think B&G will be back in the mix by WrestleMania, however.


Raw Tag Team Championships: Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan (Champions) vs. The Bar

I like how the match story progressed but that didn’t save from being a dud of a match.

The “story” was that everyone but Jason Jordan had appeared in the Royal Rumble, with Rollins going quite a long time in it (Sheamus, not so much…). Instead, Jason Jordan spent maybe 3 minutes in the match: fighting with Sheamus outside the ring, Jordan was pushed into the ring post, spending most of the rest of the match on the ground, “hurt”. After Seth Rollins survived the Bar Beatdown, and Jordan finally made his made onto the apron, Jordan was tagged in, got into the ring… stopped… and wobbly tagged Rollins back in. Rollins, confused by Jordan, walked into a Brogue Kick, and Raw now has new Tag Team Champions.

Predictions: The Bar wins the Titles; Jordan turns on Rollins

Results: The Bar wins the Raw Tag Team Titles; Jordan didn’t exactly help Rollins

I still think that all of this leads to a Jason Jordan – Seth Rollins feud. Now, with Jordan basically hanging Rollins out to dry in this match, it almost a foregone conclusion. Don’t be surprised if the ‘feud’ starts tonight.


WWE Championship Match, 2-on-1 Handicap Match: A.J. Styles vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn

Here’s my “Match of the Night”!

The early parts of the match features Owens and Zayn increasingly frustrating Styles wit their antics: they would do one move, run away, and tag out. When Styles managed to get a shot in, they would run away again and tag out. Styles managed to stop Owens from running, via a well-placed kick, and the 3 were “off and running”, so to speak.

Along the many great moments of this match: Styles, escaping a double-team in the corner, managed to flip Owens one direction while arm-dragging Zayn the opposite direction.

The ending had Styles knock Zayn (the legal man) out of the ring. Owens attacked from behind, set Styles up for the Pop-Up Powerbomb, only to have Styles reverse it and pin Owens.

Predictions:

  1. Daniel Bryan gets *physically* involved
  2. Sami Zayn pins A.J. Styles to become the new WWE Champion

Results:

  1. Daniel Bryan did not get involved
  2. A.J. Styles pinned Kevin Owens to retain the WWE Title

There were many takeaways from this match. First, the months-long build up of tension between Bryan and Shane McMahon did not boil over, as most fans thought it would. I was surprised but a friend brought up a good point: there’s still plenty of time for it to happen. Second, Owens and Zayn have a very legit gripe about the end of this match: Zayn, the legal man, wasn’t pinned. They confronted Shane about it, backstage. His response? “I saw what happened”, laughter, and Shane walking away. Maybe that 30-second interaction sparks a WrestleMania feud?


WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (Champion) vs. Kane vs. Brawn Strowman (Triple Threat Match)

3 hosses, doing hoss things. Lesnar took a very hard knee to the head, early in the match, only to angrily react, cuss, and greet Brawn Strowman’s jaw with his “stiff” fist. An announce table was destroyed; a 2nd was turned over on Strowman… only for him to flip it off of himself. Strowman kinda put himself through a corner table; Kane got powerslammed through one table, F5’d through another. Lesnar wins.

Prediction: Lesnar pins Kane

Result: Lesnar pins Kane

In hindsight, this should have been the easiest pick. Now Brock Lesnar disappears until WrestleMania. I don’t mind Lesnar but I’m starting to tire of him holding a belt but only showing up 4-6 times a year. Whoever wins the Elimination Chamber match, they need to end Lesnar’s reign at WrestleMania. 


Men’s Royal Rumble

I LOVED the reactions that Rusev got, from the pre-show to the Royal Rumble. I also liked how genuinely excited Finn Balor looked when he came out.

Predictions

Entrant #1: Bray Wyatt

Entrant #2: Titus O’Neil

Results:

Entrant #1: Rusev

Entrant #2: Finn Balor

Some of the highlights included:

  • Tye Dillinger (“Perfect 10”) drew #10 again. I hope this continues every year. Unfortunately, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens jumped him backstage, with Zayn taking his spot.
  • Heath Slater took nearly 10 minutes to even make it to the ring. He was attacked on the ramp, then attacked by every person that came out, including Sheamus. Once he was helped into the ring, he eliminated Sheamus in 2 seconds. He was promptly thrown out.
  • Rey Mysterio was in the Rumble!! He physically looked awesome – he had trimmed down and he wasn’t wearing a knee brace for the first time in what feels like decades! He was also sharp in the ring!
  • NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas made his Rumble debut and lasted nearly 30 minutes. A great showing for the NXT representative.

Other happenings: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt worked together for a couple of eliminations… then eliminated themselves; Finn Balor lasted 57:30, the longest stint in years; Richocet did not show up; Kofi was saved by Xavier Woods’s chest, then a plate of pancakes.

Final Four: Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, and The Miz

Results: Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, and John Cena

I was very surprised the Cena made the Final Four but him being there ended up being a great thing: you ended up with (unofficially) “WWE”/”Old School”/”Vince’s Guys” (Cena and Reigns) vs. “New Japan”/”New School”/”HHH’s Guys” (Nakamura and Balor). It was a fun Rumble.

Predicted Winner: Roman Reigns

Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura

Afterwards, Nakamura was interviewed in the ring. He wasted no time in picking the WWE Title as the one he’s going after.

Nakamura vs. Styles. WrestleMania.


Women’s Royal Rumble

The first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match was the main event of the PPV… and it exceeded expectations! Old faces returned, new faces made a mark, and a streak continued.

Predictions

Entrant #1: Liv Morgan; Entrant #2: Becky Lynch

Results:

Entrant #1: Sasha Banks; Entrant #2: Becky Lynch

I thought that a big name would start off the Rumble, capturing the audience’s attention immediately, so that’s why I picked Becky Lynch at #1.

Prediction: Lita and Michelle McCool are the 2 that I can see showing up. Trish Stratus, possibly.

Results: Lita, McCool, and Stratus all showed up, along with 9 other former wrestlers.

Other Happenings:

  • Michelle McCool made arguably the biggest mark on the Rumble: 4 eliminations, about 15 minutes in the ring. Awesome!
  • Beth Freakin’ Phoenix had Nia Jax on her shoulders, trying to eliminate her. She, along with Natalya and Asuka, eliminated Jax. Natalya hugged Beth… then punched her and threw her out. Never trust a Hart!
  • Torrie Wilson and Kelly Kelly, while not perhaps the sharpest with their moves, still did pretty well, after years out of the ring.
  • Trish Stratus, given a little time back in training, could win her 8th Women’s Title, as she looked awesome!

Predicted Final Four: Asuka, Carmella, and Becky Lynch are 3 that feel like they will be there. A potential 4th: Nikki Cross. If Cross doesn’t show up, Sasha Banks might be the 4th.

Actual Final Four: Asuka, Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, and Sasha Banks

I will not pretend that I knew that the Bellas would not only be in the Rumble but would be in the Final Four. I was very shocked!

Both Bellas looked good in the ring. Asuka eliminated Sasha; Asuka eliminated Brie. Then Asuka choked-eliminated Nikki with her leg (Google the clip!) to win the Rumble!!

Prediction: Winner: not Asuka. I think she faces the Raw Champion – probably Alexa Bliss – at Wrestlemania. Instead, I think Carmella wins the first Rumble. 

Results: Asuka wins the Rumble; she does not make her decision about the Title shot; Ronda Rousey shows up, points at the WrestleMania sign a couple of times, leaves the ring; shakes Stephanie McMahon’s hand outside, then leaves.

Rousey showing up after the Rumble was a nice touch. Rousey signing with WWE as a full-time competitor is a little bit of a surprise. All in all, it was a good end to a great Women’s Royal Rumble!


This was one of the more enjoyable beginnings to the Road To WrestleMania is a few years. We saw history made with the Women’s Royal Rumble; Nakamura vs. Styles now may happen – AT WRESTLEMANIA; and the full card had few dull or bad moments. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens between now (Monday night) and WrestleMania!

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