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Cook’s WWE Royal Rumble 2019 Report Card

January 28, 2019 | Posted by Steve Cook
Becky Lynch Royal Rumble
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Cook’s WWE Royal Rumble 2019 Report Card  

Hi, hello & welcome to the 2019 Royal Rumble Report Card! It’s one of my favorite nights of the year and I have tomorrow off, so could things get any better? Probably not! We’re going to get some top title contenders for WrestleMania, some surprises, and all kinds of craziness out of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ stadium. Let’s get right to it.

The Kickoff Show panel consisted of Jonathan Coachman, Booker T, Beth Phoenix & Jerry “The King” Lawler during the first hour, with Shawn Michaels & David Otunga replacing Booker & King in the second hour. Charly Caruso was over on the stage saddled with JBL.

Kickoff Show Non-Title Match: Raw Tag Team Champions Bobby Roode & Chad Gable vs. Rezar of AOP & Scott Dawson of The Revival (w/Drake Maverick)

Drake made some deals earlier that led to this match, so it’s nice to see him earning his keep. Gable & Dawson with some chain wrestling early, and the makeshift team gets the advantage when Gable misses a dropkick. Rezar comes in to do some big man stuff, including some “crossfaces” on the ropes. Dawson tags in much to Rezar’s annoyance. I feel like the Revival are trying to troll Roode & Gable with their dotty tights now since somebody backstage caught on to what #FTR is all about. How about Bobby Roode becoming Robert Gibson? That’s what happens when he tags Ricky, er I mean Chad. Dawson going for those tights and since Curt Hawkins isn’t the ref, Roode actually has to kick out. Some mis-communication between Rezar & Dawson leads to some awkwardness, but eventually Roode & Gable hit their finisher. Pretty simple story here, with the mismashed tag team trying to come together against the champs but coming up short. I like Roode & Gable a lot, but they need a solid team against them. Ultimately, it was the first match on a pre-show so it doesn’t speak poorly on anybody. (**)

Grades

Roode/Gable: C

Rezar/Dawson: C-

Charly & JBL are interrupted by Lio Rush & Bobby Lashley. Bobby remembers he beat JBL for the US championship.

United States Championship match: Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

I feel like Greg Hamilton puts more effort into Nakamura’s entrance than Nakamura does these days. I must admit I’m disappointed that the reports Lana was pregnant don’t look to be true, as I was really hoping for a Baby Rusev. Not that I don’t approve of Lana on my TV, I certainly do, but I also approve of good people procreating. Rusev dominates early with shoulderblocks, throws & elbowdrops. Nak avoids the steps and fires back with a kick & some out of the ring play. Is Graves quoting Star Wars? Rusev with a dropkick to break the Shinsuke heel offense. He hits the Last Call & a spinning heel kick for a near fall. Nak goes outside, and Rusev wants to do a dive, but Nak kicks him before he can do it. The Machka Kick back in the ring gets 2, which might not bode well for our hero. The Accolade gets blocked, and Shinsuke goes to various kicks for a near fall. Polish Hammer by Rusev, then another Machka Kick! Lifts him up for a swinging slam, but Nakamura turns it into an armbar! Triangle choke! Grappling! Rusev lifts him & Nak turns it into the guillotine choke! Almost a tap by Rusev, but the ref lets it go, and a vertical suplex by Rusev gets 2! That was close. We going up the turnbuckle & that was a bad idea for Rusev. Nakamura hits the Cradle Shock and gets 2! Now he’s untying a turnbuckle & Lana’s pointing it out. Oh no, Rusev comes from behind, Nak moves, Rusev hits Lana, Nakamura hits the Kinshasa to the back of the head and we have a new US champ! That was some very lenient officiating, but apparently it stands, and Shinsuke Nakamura is once again the United States Champion. This didn’t quite get to full gear, but was a perfectly fine match for government work. They can do better. I assume this takes Lana out of the Rumble, which could open a spot for somebody else. Just saying.

Grades

Rusev: C

Nakamura: C

We’re getting some Halftime Heat on WWE Network! Ricochet, Aleister Black & Velveteen Dream vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano & Adam Cole. Sounds like some big game fun to me!

Cruiserweight Championship Fatal 4-way match: Buddy Murphy vs. Kalisto vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Hideo Itami

A series of rollups starts the match after Itami bails outside. Murphy showcasing his strength early with a vertical suplex to Kalisto on the outside. He then tries to match strikes with Itami, which doesn’t seem like a great idea. That man can strike if nothing else. We got a cluster on the outside with Tozawa diving between Itami’s legs onto Murphy & Kalisto. Itami being showcased as the smart man in this match. Nice monkey flip on the apron by Kalisto on Tozawa onto Murphy. Murphy tosses Kalisto out of his finisher into Itami in the corner. Tozawa’s screaming and hitting kicks for near-falls. Itami took a nasty rana from Tozawa there, and also takes a…dive! Murphy wants to dive, but back body drops Kalisto into one. Oh, and he’ll do one too because this is what 205 Live is all about. Vic said so. Kalisto with a rana DDT on Murphy for a 2.5. Murphy gets one of his own a minute later, and all four are in the ring now. Reverse rana by Tozawa on Murphy leads to everybody making covers, and Itami kicks out of a Salina de Sol from Kalisto. I hope the WWE Universe isn’t still filing in during the main event. Kick kick kick kick kick kick kick, jab. Knee. Lots of strikes all around. Itami & Murphy go back & forth, Murphy hits his Law and gets the three count! Some good work from everybody involved here, that even won over the crowd at points. I feel like the inevitable successor to Buddy Murphy is the man that just lost the NXT North American Championship, but the debate is whether that’s on Ricochet’s level or not.

Grades

Murphy: B+

Itami: B+

Kalisto: B

Tozawa: B

Shawn picks Drew McIntyre to win the Men’s Rumble. Otunga goes with Bobby Lashley. Beth picks Natalya to win the Women’s Rumble. Not sure why these people can’t pick people in the opposite gender’s Rumble matches. Intergender rules I supppose.

Smackdown Women’s Championship match: Becky Lynch vs. Asuka

Well hell. I was hoping this match would take place after the Women’s Royal Rumble Match, as it would add some drama for the eventual loser. Now, we will wait for the eventual loser to enter the Rumble. I dunno, I’m an old man so my sensibilities are different than most, but I would prefer it to play out in the weeks after than in the hours after. Even match early on, with both women showing quickness & agility and ruthlessness. The Becksploder into the barricade does gain an obvious advantage though. Becky takes it, pummeling Asuka for the next few minutes. She tries to weaken Asuka’s left arm for her finishing submission hold. She gets Auska in the ropes, which is a bad idea because Asuka can get her lock in the ropes. Then Becky gets the Disarmer in the turnbuckles. She dives off the middle rope into the knee of Asuka. Asuka gets that window of opportunity, and she hits a german suplex and then a hip attack for a nearfall. There’s a black screen and I’m wondering what I’ll have in store for Botched later this week. Becky comes back and hits a suplex for two. Asuka turns Becky into an armbar, and then tries the Asukalock, but it’s not fully locked in & Becky gets the ropes. Asuka teases the German on the floor but we know that’s not happening. She does eventually get kind of a fisherman DDT on the floor, which looks rough. They both make it in before 10. A shining wizard from Asuka gets 2. They’re firing back & forth & Asuka takes Lynch down with a back kick for two. They go to the turnbuckles, and a Super Becksploder gets 2.5! The fans say it is awesome, and Lynch goes up top and misses the legdrop, and ends up in the Asukalock, and the Disarmer! Lynch goes for the Asukalock! Asuka rolls into a cover for 2, hits a kick, and Lynch locks in the Disarmer! Asuka reverses into a cover! Then she gets that Asukalock in! Asuka flips over into a Cattle Mutilation variation, and Lynch has to tap out! I get the feeling this match will make a lot of people angry because Becky Lynch didn’t win. She got beat fair & square too. That will make even more people angry. But hey. Asuka’s pretty good. Damn good match to start a show.

Grades:

Asuka: B+

Lynch: B+

Smackdown Tag Team Championship match: The Bar vs. Shane and Miz

Miz’s Dad made the trip! He at least seems to care about his son right now, unlike when Randy Orton was around. Mis trying to work Sheamus early, but Cesaro is helping out & the Bar are actually a good tag team. Shane comes to the rescue since he’s the best in the world, and he ends up…well, not putting Cesaro through the table, but he does take Sheamus out. Cesaro hits the big uppercut. Now the Bar works over the Miz. Eventually, Sheamus rips open Miz’s ridiculous jersey and hits 10 beats of the balon. Cesaro hits a suplex for two. The fact that Shane is going to get the hot tag lowers my expectations for this match and raises my expectations for my Botched column. Also, the announcers are insulting my intelligence with this business of Miz dreaming of being a tag team champion when he’s already held it multiple times before with too many people to count. Stop. Shane tags in and hits his trademark blows & his smackdown DDT on Sheamus for two. He goes Coast to Coast into a Cesaro Swing! It’s a damn good swing too. Shane goes for a triangle choke, which is at least better than Undertaker’s attempts at the move. Sheamus breaks it up because it’s not like referees are calling anything tonight. A doubleteam White Noise gets two. The Brogue Kick gets broken up & Cesaro gets pushed in the way. A Skull Crushing Finale leads to Shane hitting a shooting star press on Cesaro for the three count! Well ok then. Miz Senior approves! Did we book this just so Miz’s father can finally approve of his son on screen? Well, I can’t hate on that too much. They might as well let this Shane/Miz stuff play out longer until an endgame is obvious. I enjoyed the match regardless.

Grades:

The Bar: B

Shane/Miz: B

Michael Cole makes a completely ridiculous attendance announcement that explains why the WrestleMania III attendance number is still debated three decades later.

Raw Women’s Championship match: Sasha Banks vs. Ronda Rousey

How come Sasha just throws her sunglasses to the ground instead of giving them to a fan? It’s a shame she grew up idolizing Eddie Guerrero instead of Bret Hart. I see Ray Rougeau has been replaced on the French announce team, and it feels like we don’t have as many languages represented as usual. I’m sure that’s not a bad sign. These girls showing some attitude early! Oh damn, Rousey trying the three amigos, but Banks breaks that up & Rousey tries to lock in a submission but nah. I’m just saying if Sasha’s theory is that Ronda can’t match her move for move, she’s in for a bad time. Not Ronda’s fault she’s already out-shined Sasha less than a year into her career when Sasha was supposed to be the best in the world. Sasha is going for the submissions here at any rate, while Rousey goes for the pins out of them. Kind of the opposite of what you would expect. Piper’s Pit, because Roddy did that suplex all the time. Sasha’s superplex gets two, then she goes back to an armbar. One of Jericho’s 1,004 moves. Sasha dives into an armbar on the floor. They go back into the ring, and a leg lariat from Ronda gets two. Sasha going for that Bank Statement, and choking her with a piece of attire, which seems illegal, but the referee won’t break the move. Now Sasha has a Fujiwara armbar. Rousey counters, and a gutwrench powerbomb leads to another Piper’s Pit for a three count. Ronda usually makes people tap, so getting a three count here was pretty big. I mean, Sasha didn’t have to tap out, so she can take pride in that, (and I’m sure she will), but Ronda winning a different way was good.

Grades:

Ronda: B

Sasha: B

Sasha puts on the booboo face and knocks the belt off of Ronda’s shoulder. Bayley should beware that woman is all I’m saying.

From what I’m hearing from my friend Adam that’s live at Chase Field, it’s tough to hear crowd reaction, punches & kicks. Also, there is no Roman Reigns merchandise available, so we probably shouldn’t expect him tonight. I would ask my other good friend Greg DeMarco, but he would probably tell me the opposite of everything.

Beth Phoenix is introduced to call the Women’s Rumble alongside Phillips, Young & Graves.

Women’s Royal Rumble

No grades here as per usual. Lacey Evans draws #1. Her hat stays on her head, in case you were wondering. Lasting the whole way would be a darn good main roster start. She says y’all will witness history, she is the one & only true lady of WWE, and she will clean up this entire women’s division. Natalya is #2, so now I’m really not liking Lacey’s chances. They trying to match each other up early. It’s a test for Evans. Nattie with a rana & a discus lariat as Mandy Rose comes out at #3. Graves might have a heart attack at ringside. Another discus lariat from Nattie as she’s surrounded by young & attractive blondies. She puts both of them into a Sharpshooter, and I think Graves called Lacey by her shoot name. Liv Morgan is #4, and we add to the young & attractive blond dynamic in this match. OK, Liv’s hair is pink. And she gets tossed out right away, so there’s a Women’s Rumble record of 8 seconds. Lacey pulls a cloth out of her tights and it’s not a tampon so that’s a nice change of pace. Mickie James is #5 & wearing some short tights tonight. I’m ok with that. Mickie trying to puish Mandy out, but Lacey breaks that up. The countdown leads to Ember Moon at #6. She’s going after anybody in her path. The problem is she doesn’t immediately eliminate her first target, which makes her look like Sid Justice trying & failing to eliminate IRS in 1992. I don’t think he recovered from that. Billie Kay is #7, and it’s nice to see she’s still around. She is refusing to enter the ring until her partner comes down, which seems like a fine strategy, especially at this point in the match. Nikki Cross is #8, and she smacks Billie down before ascending the turnbuckles & wiping out everybody in the ring. The woman wants to play. Let Nikki play. Not sure Mandy grabbing her by the hair is the best idea, but she tries it anyway. Billie enters the ring due to her anger, and she & Nikki go at it. Sure enough, Peyton Royce is #9 and she goes right after Nikki. They hit a doubleteam, then Ember goes after both of them. Ember teases being eliminated but not quite, and #10 is Tamina. I feel this could lead to some eliminations. Headbutts & Samoan drops to various people. Nikki Cross knocks Tamina through the ropes, which just serves to piss off Tamina. Mickie knocks Tamina to the apron, but Tamina mounts the turnbuckles…splash to Nikki! Shades of…not sure who to be honest. Mickie ends up eliminated after a Tamina kick, it was pretty lame.

#11 ends up being Xia Li from NXT & the Mae Young Classic. She cleans house for a minute, but sure enough it’s Tamina to even the odds. Sarah Logan comes out at #12 and hopefully she shows the same Viking spirit that War Raiders did at Takeover last night. She’s all over Ember early on. Ember manages to stay in. The Iiconics manage to eliminate Nikki finally, then Lacey attacks them because she needed something to do. Unlucky #13 is Charlotte Flair, who might just make that a lucky number. Lipstick to match those red tights, and now she’s going after everybody, who went after her first. Both Iiconics go out at the hands of Lacey Evans, which speaks volumes about their standing. Charlotte kicks Xia outta there. #14 is none other than the Pirate Princess, Kairi Sane! Charlotte eliminates Tamina while Kairi makes her entrance, and the two dominant females face off. Oh, I hope these two have a match down the road. Insane Elbow to Logan! Nattie helps Kairi eliminate Logan, then immediately turns against her. #15 is the returning Maria Kanellis! She tries to get attention from Charlotte & Lacey, which probably isn’t the best idea. She’s still taking people out either way. Charlotte spears Maria out of her boots, but Lacey really wants to get Charlotte out. Naomi is Sweet #16, and somehow Mandy Rose is still here so that’s who she’s going after. She gets Naomi out, but Ember kicks her, Naomi ranas Mandy, and manages to get on top of the barricade. She’s working that Kofi gimmick! She makes it to the steps, but Mandy yanks her off the steps! You know, the 1996 referees wouldn’t have let that count. Charlotte finally deposits Lacey to the floor, and #17 is Candice LeRae! Her husband went dark but she’s still good for now. Nattie hits a sitout powerbomb on Charlotte as Cpt. Alicia Fox comes down at #18. Maria wants to make friends with Alicia, as they’re Divas from back in the day. They hit some moves on Sane and hit their booties together. Then Maria stomps the hat like she’s a heel wrestling Jerry Lawler in Memphis, and Alicia throws a tantrum. Where is the next entrant? Ah, here they are. Maria gets eliminates as Kacy Cantanzaro comes out at #19! I like this! Natalya tries to powerbomb her but that doesn’t go well. She avoids Alicia Fox and headscissors her…Alicia lands on the apron, and ends up backbreaking Kacy. Well that’s lame. Zelina Vega is #20 & wearing the Lakers colors. She & Candice face off due to their interactions in NXT & it’s Gonzo Fonzo.

Ruby Riott comes out at #21 with her friends that got eliminated earlier. They yank Charlotte out of the ring under the bottom rope & smakc her down. Zelina runs away & goes under the ring, but Alicia Fox doesn’t escape the Riott Squad wrath. Sure enough, Alicia gets eliminated. Candice gets slammed into the barricade, then tossed over the top on the other side. Dana Brooke is #22 & goes right after Ruby & Kacy & anybody else. Big powerbomb to Kacy. Logan & Morgan drag Nattie outside, and Kairi gets tossed by Ruby. #23 Io Shirai comes out at the same time that the Riott Squad are trying to beat up Kairi on the ourtside, so that doesn’t go well for those people. A moonsault takes out all three before Io even enters the ring. Rhea Ripley is out at #24, which is bad news for everybody in the ring. Oh yeah, she’s wiping people out. Well, until Ember does something, then Dana Brooke gets to eliminate Ember. Kacy lands on the floor, but her feet do not touch. She manages to climb the ringpost and the turnbuckles, and lands in Rhea’s arms, but they reconnect their previous magic & Kacy ends up hack on the floor with the feet touching. Sonya Deville is #25, and doesn’t need to worry about her friend Mandy Rose being out there, so she’s going cray cray. I can only assume Nattie’s calling the match and that’s why she’s still out there. Dana gets kicked out by Rhea, while Zelina mocks her, and HORNSWOGGLE emerges! Vega is forced into the ring, and Rhea tosses her out! Hornswoggle chases Vega to the back while we all wonder what just happened. Alexa Bliss is #26 and got a heck of a draw. Until she met up with Charlotte, of course. Sonya goes after Alexa after Charlotte gets taken down. Moon & Nattie trying to get rid of Ripley. Sonya gets knocked out by Bliss, as lucky #27 comes down in the way of Bayley! It’s a good number to have! Bayley connects with Ruby early on & sends her out, then Rhea runs right at Bayley & gets tossed out! The fans getting behind Bayley! Lana drew #28 & is staggering down with that lame left ankle. Well, maybe not, as a referee & trainer check on her in the entranceway. We’ve got some action going on in the ring with Io & Ember while the fans chant for Becky Lynch. #29 happens to be Nia Jax, which is bad news for Lana as Nia attacks her in the entranceway. It’s also bad news for people in the ring. Io moonsaults onto Nia’s shoulder & gets tossed out. Natalya gets Nia on her shoulders, but that doesn’t last long, as Nia slips off & eliminates Natalya. Carmella won the #30 slot in the Mixed Match Challenge, and hits a rana on Nia. The momentum doesn’t last long. Becky Lynch comes out and asks Fit Finlay to let her enter instead of Lana, who is still in the entranceway. Finlay allows it! This seems somewhat questionable, but what the hell. I’m not going to argue with Finlay. The Man goes right after Nia, and Charlotte goes right after Becky! Ember smacks Alexa down, but Alexa has her hair. They fight it out on the apron…finally Bliss knocks Moon off after 53:10 for the werewolf or whatever she is.

Carmella is moonwalking & bronco busting all over Alexa. Bayley buckle bombs Bliss, and Carmella helps Bayley toss her out! Nia double clotheslines Baymella, then we get Charlotte breaking up Nia & Becky. Carmella going up top & cross-bodies Charlotte, Flair holds on and hits the backbreaker. Flair & Carmella going at it now, and Carmella gets knocked off the apron by Charlotte. Bayley nearly eliminates Charlotte but not quite. Bayley ends up eliminated by Charlotte while she’s on Nia’s shoulders, so we’re down to Becky, Charlotte & Nia. Charlotte warns Nia to stay out of it, but of course Nia refuses. Charlotte ends up kind of hitting an AA on Nia while Becky takes a powder on the floor. Welp, Becky yanks Nia off the apron to eliminate her, and we’re down to Lynch & Flair. We get excited for a secong before Nia pushes Becky off the steps & Becky lands on that darn knee. We want to see Charlotte vs. Becky to end this, but not this way! Becky talks some shit, and Charlotte goes after that knee. Becky’s fighting back, but Charlotte keeps going after that knee! She learned from the master, that’s for damn sure. But then she charges, Becky ducks and Charlotte goes over the top! Flair lands on the apron, and Lynch clotheslines her out! The Man is heading to WrestleMania, and I’m pretty sure we know who she’ll be challenging. Rousey vs. Lynch & Asuka vs. Flair seems to be the logical matches to have at WrestleMania to me. Last year’s women’s Rumble got by on nostalgia, this year’s was a look towards the future with some of the unexpected entrants from NXT, NXT: UK & lower. I dig it.

WWE Championship match: Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles

Talking about two of the best in the world right here. Ask me to pick one over the other, and I’d probably pick Bryan because we agree on more things outside of wrestling, but other than that it’s a coin flip. As an unbiased observer, I have to give AJ credit even if he’s wearing X-Pac long tights tonight. I also appreciate these guys doing the slow build for their match so the fans can calm down from the women’s Rumble, then come around when things are kicking into gear. It’s smart. We saw Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose absolutely die in a similar spot last PPV and not know what to do. Styles & Bryan will work through the lack of noise & interest until the people are ready to care again. And if they aren’t, who cares? Bryan can call them fickle. Dang, Styles hits the Phenomenon on the floor and that’s one of the better ones he’s ever hit. Almost wakes up the crowd. Styles hits nothing but knees on the springboard 450 & Bryan locks in the LeBell Lock. Styles gets out, then gets the Calf Crusher. Bryan’s tapped to that before, but it’s too close to the ropes. Styles hits some really good stuff from time to time, and it occasionally gets a reaction, but I assume most of these fans are getting that Royal Rumble Burger. Erick Rowan makes an appearance in a flannel shirt, which I take to mean he’s alligned with The New Daniel Bryan. Beard, flannel, has to be a Bryan friend, right? Sure enough, the ref gets bumped, Styles hits a Clash, and Rowan hits a chokeslam on Styles! Well, that’s the finish. I mean, these guys were booked in a spot to fail, and with a finish to fail. I appreciate the fact that both AJ & Bryan like to put in a good match, but they could have done a lot less and gotten the same reaction out of this crowd. A waste of energy & resources if there ever was one. It wasn’t terrible like that Rollins/Ambrose match at TLC, but they really should have cut 10 minutes. You have a ref bump & a distractionm finish before Styles & Bryan really get going, and then you can really get a pissed off crowd.

Grades

Bryan: C

Styles: C

WWE Universal Championship match: Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor

Unlike Bryan vs. Styles, I have no idea what to expect from these two. Balor goes to work right away, and soon enough ends up in Suplex City. But then Brock gets prodded into the corner of the table, which might make his diverticulitis act up. That’s Finn’s best chance here, and it seems to be what’s happening. So Brock’s taking that out on Finn. He’s landing the bigger shots for sure, but Brock still struggling. He tries another suplex, then curses and takes a knee. Nope, it’s not happening. The F-5 gets countered into a DDT for 2, then Finn stomps on that midsection. Dives! It leads to the coup de grace, and Lesnar gets the shoulder up and ends up locking in the Kimura. Finn’s gotta tap. Well, that was interesting for a few minutes & got more out of the crowd than twenty minutes of Styles & Bryan. Gotta give them credit for that. This wasn’t on par with some of Brock’s matches with smaller guys, but I already see some people pushing that argument to fit their narrative.

Grades

Lesnar: B-

Balor: B-

Lesnar destroys Balor after the match so we know he’s actually fine & Balor’s not actually good or anything. Good to know.

Men’s Royal Rumble

Elias is in the middle of the ring, as he’s drawn #1. Not great luck for him. He finally gets around to starting his song, but Jeff Jarrett chooses that moment to enter at #2! Lawler is so happy at ringside. Double J shoos Elias out of the way so he can do his strut. J-E-DOUBLE F J-A-DOUBLE R-E-DOUBLE T! Elias recognizes that Jeff wants to sing with Elias tonight! Jeff asks the crowd if they want to hear a duet, and Chase Field seems to be in favor of such a thing. Elias decks Jeff while he spells his name again, which is a shame because I was looking forward to that song. Elias breaks the guitar over Jarrett’s back and tosses him out in time for Shinsuke Nakamura to enter at #3. Not a great entry for a defending Royal Rumble winner that already had a match tonight. Elias gonna walk those ropes. Shinsuke gets clotheslined over but lands on the apron, and Kurt Angle is in at #4. Good thing Jeff is already out! He does some suplexes & typical Kurt Angle things. It’s New Day time, and Big E comes down at #5. Graves is down on Big E as a WM main eventer, but Cole, JBL & Lawler think it’s a great idea. Shinsuke knocks Angle outta there before #6 comes down. It’s Johnny Gargano, the NXT North American Champion! He used to be a good man, but not so much lately. Elias tries to get him out early, but Gargano hits a slingshot spear. NXT chants from the crowd. Jinder Mahal comes on down at #7. Somebody should tell Cole that Grandpa Singh is working for Impact Wrestling. Johnny Takeover knocks Mahal out of the match early! Already an impressive showing for the NA Champ. Oh boy, Samoa Joe is coming out at #8, and that’s bad news for everybody in the ring. Gargano misses that cross-body. Joe throws E out like yesterday’s garbage. Curt Hawkins is #9 #9 #9 Paul is dead. He’s gonna hang outside for awhile, then stick & move. The fans are down, but Joe chokes him out until Elias breaks it up. So Hawkins hides under the ring, hoping Hornswoggle is done for the evening. Seth Rollins drew the #10 slot, which is a slight upset because somebody else was always getting this slot for awhile. He goes after everybody for a minute, but ends up knocking Elias out. Every man for himself.

Titus O’Neil is #11. He gets a pop for not sliding, then sees Curt Hawkins under the ring, and chases him. As it happens, Titus gets eliminated by Curt, then Curt gets eliminated by Joe. Might as well get them outta here. Kofi Kingston is in his 12th Rumble at #12. Joe tries to toss him but nah. Mustafa Ali is unlucky 13, but if he makes it as far as Charlotte did I’d be impressed. Well, he eliminated Shinsuke, which could come up later on for US title contention. Unless Joe killed him in the turnbuckle. Dean Ambrose and his sirens are #14 like his idol Pete Rose, and he goes right at it with Rollins. Kofi hanging out on that apron. They’re saying both feet didn’t hit, and he swings around on the floor to get back in the ring. Gargano slingshots into a double arm DDT from Dean, and gets tossed out. No Way Jose is #15…and yeah, I had no idea this guy was still around. Greg DeMarco can tell us who the girls were in that konga line, and Jose got knocked out by Joe in like a second, so that was whatever. Sweet #16 is the Scottish Psychopath Drew McIntyre, who headbutts Jose & kills a few other people in the konga line. Good for him! Claymore kicks to Rollins, Ambrose, and eventually Joe. Xavier Woods comes on down at #17. Kofi gets thrown out, and I’m pretty sure both feet touched, but the referee allows these shenanigans. It doesn’t matter either way, as Drew eliminates Kofi & Xavier. Pete Dunne makes his way down at #18. Ali targets him right away, which is a bad idea. And now I wanna see Dunne vs. Joe. Drew jumps in to get beat up. Dean tries to eliminate him and gets foiled. Andrade is #19 and I don’t care for this variant of his original name. Cien Almas would have been much better, but I don’t make these decisions. He goes at it with Dean Ambrose while the clock ticks down. Apollo Crews is at #20 and already won a Fresh Start battle royal, so he’s in a good spot to main event WrestleMania. Sure.

Aleister Black comes down at #21, as no man is truly good or evil. He knocks Ambrose outta there, which is pretty darn impressive. Shelton Benjamin is still under contract & is #22. Dunne almost tosses him but Shelton skins that cat. Mustafa gets Joe out of the ring, which I feel might lead to some things down the road. Baron Corbin is #23. He Deep Sixes Ali, but Ali hangs in there after being tossed to the apron. Corbin does knock Crews outta here. Jeff Hardy is #24, and his last goal is to win a Royal Rumble match. Whisper in the Wind takes out a few people. Black & Dunne are over here breaking fingers & popping them back in, then Corbin tosses Black out. McIntyre tosses Dunne out. Rey Mysterio is out at #25. He jumps into a Baron Corbin backbreaker, which makes me wonder why Baron Corbin is still around after a couple of minutes. Bobby Lashley is out at #26, and he’s out pretty soon after at the hands of Rollins. This leads to Lashley yanking Rollins out of the ring & putting the man through the table to give the man a rest. I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. Braun Strowman drew that #27 slot that’s been so kind over the years. He immediately eliminates Corbin. Shelton wants some, and he gets tossed. Dolph Ziggler is here to show the world at #28. He takes Drew right outta there as a matter of revenge. Randy Orton drew #29, which doesn’t seem fair since he’s already won this thing twice. Everybody goes down after a Tower of Doomesque spot. Braun shoulderblocks the ringpost and hits the floor, but not over the top rope. R-Truth is #30, and Nia Jax attacks him from behind! She’s decided she’s going to be #30, which is certainly an idea. She tosses Mustafa Ali outta there after 30 minutes, and Randy Orton’s got some intentions. They don’t work immediately. She sets Randy up for Rey, then attacks Rey. Dolph breaks that up, and Rey hits the 619! RKO to Nia! Hey, you enter the match you get what you deserve. Rey & Randy eventually get her out of there, which leads to Randy tossing Rey, and Andrade tossing Randy!

We’re down to Andrade, Ziggler…and Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman. Though I’m not sure the announcers remember the Seth & Braun part yet. Welp, there’s Braun. And there’s Seth back in the ring now. Braun’s getting the best of all three right now as he’s the biggest dog there. Well, Strowman tosses Andrade, & Ziggler & Rollins land on the apron. Ziggler gets knocked off. Rollins has Strowman on the apron, but runs into a chokeslam. We got a final two. Rollins gets that 2004 Rumble spot on Strowman, but he fights out. They on the apron! Superkick and a stomp sends Strowman to the floor, and Rollins to WrestleMania! No surprise there. Rollins seemed to be the chosen one heading in, and he’s the chosen one heading out. Brock is gonna have to fight another David, and I’m not so sure he’ll overcome this one.

7.0
The final score: review Good
The 411
All I can say is I'm glad I don't have to work tomorrow, because that was a damn long night of professional wrestling. The Royal Rumble was one of those shows that was way too extra & could have used some time shaved off. At the same time, nothing was completely terrible & the booking made sense, so what can ya do.
legend