Wrestling Review: WWE Royal Rumble (2018)

The triple threat. The handicap match. The Royal Rumble. The Revolution. For the first time ever, there will be two Royal Rumble matches on the same night, as the traditional men’s contest is joined by a 30 Woman Royal Rumble. The two winners – one man and one woman – of those huge battle royals will move on to face their brand’s champion at Wrestlemania. But just who those champions will be is also to be decided. The WWE Championship is on the line as AJ Styles defends against both Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, but uniquely, the match will be contested under handicap rules, where if Owens and Zayn win they will be the first ever co-WWE Champions. But there may not be a city left to host the Rumbles after the triple threat match for the WWE Universal Championship when Brock Lesnar defends against Braun Strowman and Kane. It will be Beast versus Monster versus Machine for the Universal Championship. All of these, as well as two tag team championship matches as the Road to Wrestlemania begins at the Royal Rumble.

+ 30 Woman Royal Rumble Match: it was a bold choice to put this match on last, but I think it paid off. There were just as many surprises in this match as the Men’s, if not more, but that also meant there were just as many missed opportunities for matchups. I was disappointed that so many of the women had to spend time outside of the ring, one way or another. Of particular note is just how horrible Sasha Banks was in this match, constantly chaning her targets in the middle of a sequence or stopping eliminations with seemingly no reason
+ Brock Lesnar (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs Kane vs Braun Strowman (Triple Threat Match for the WWE Universal Championship): holy shit I love me some big bois. The opening two minutes of this match had legitimate strikes hard enough to knock out mortal men, and the no DQ nature of a triple threat was used to hellacious effect. This was not a technical affair, nor should it have been, and in that regard this was fantastic
+ Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan (c) vs The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) (WWE Raw Tag Team Championships): the audience was near silent for this match, following the Men’s Royal Rumble match. This was a pretty good match all things considered, with a real emphasis on continuing the story of the last month of Raw, it’s just a shame that the crowd didn’t care for it
+ 30 Man Royal Rumble Match: it is always a given that there will be missed opportunities in these matches, simply due to how the entrants have to happen, but as always there were a number of huge surprise entrants. This match is all about the winner (or perhaps the final few) and if that is all you want then this was great. Not a well wrestled match, but as if it would be

You best believe it’s BIG BOI SEASON.

– The Usos (c) vs Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable (Best 2-out-of-3 Falls match for the WWE SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships): damn them Uso boys can talk, and damn that Gable boy can wrestle. But despite both of those huge positives, this still felt a bit too similar to everything we’ve seen over the past few weeks on TV. Much like the WWE Championship match which opened the show, I really was expecting more
– AJ Styles (c) vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (2-on-1 Handicap Match for the WWE Championship): there were a lot of ways this match could have gone, and it went the most likely option. A few moments played into the storyline of the past few weeks on Smackdown, but overall this was lacking something. As the opening match, it fell a bit flat

> Michael Cole and Corey Graves were making fun of Booker T during the triple threat, almost to the point where I felt sorry for Booker. It was especially stupid of them when Cole and Graves started making mistakes of their own
> I guess NXT is officially just the third brand, after Raw and Smackdown Live now?

Should you watch this event: It was a horrible idea putting the Men’s Royal Rumble match in the middle of the show, because the crowd was absolutely dead since that point. The Rumble matches are never known for their technical showings, but for the entrances, surprises and debuts, and in that regard both Rumble matches were good – though the aftermath was a bit confusing. One of the tag matches was good, one of the top title matches was good… this show was good. But as always, this should have been great.


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