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Hawke’s WWE Royal Rumble 2018 Review

January 28, 2018 | Posted by TJ Hawke
Shinsuke Nakamura Royal Rumble 2018 WWE
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Hawke’s WWE Royal Rumble 2018 Review  

My reviews of the best WWE matches ever.

April 5, 2017

October 7, 2015

August 22, 2015

July 20, 2014

March 28, 2010

April 5, 2009

January 28, 2007

June 28, 1998

July 4, 1997


July 28, 2018
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

This was a handicap match for Styles’ WWE Championship.

This was an indefensible match in every way.

On paper, it was an inexplicably stupid sounding match. In execution, it somehow became more boring than stupid. That is the perfect combination if you are trying to make an absolutely terrible world title match on the second biggest wrestling show of the year.

One might have hoped with these three, they would have just tried to bust out everything in their arsenal to deliver a wild match in spite of the stupid setup. Instead, they just worked a “logical” handicap match with TAFKA Steenerico working as methodically as possible.

They did somehow manage to get the crowd to care somewhat about the nearfalls and whatnot, but this was an embarrassment to everyone involved. Anyone involved in making this match happen should be removed from power. [AJ defeated Owens with a fruit roll-up to win despite Owens not being the legal man.] (1/4*)


Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)

This was a 2/3 falls match for The Usos’ Smackdown Tag Team Championship.

This match was absolutely bizarre. The first fall was super methodical, as Shelton and Gable tried to pick apart Jimmy’s leg. From there, Jey did made a wild hot tag, and it seemed like the first fall was about to finish up. Then they just kept going. And going. And going. They started kicking out of each other’s finishers. All in the first fall.

Then the Usos managed to snag the first fall despite being behind the whole match. It was a very odd, as it was simultaneously worked like the final fall but at the pace of a first fall in a 30 minute tag match. It did not work at all.

Then it got even weirder, as the Usos won like 30 seconds into the second fall to win this match 2-0. Whatever. Points for trying something different, but this match had no energy whatsoever. (**1/4)


Andrade Almas vs. Adam Cole vs. Aiden English vs. Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin vs. Big E vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Cesaro vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Elias vs. Finn Balor vs. Goldust vs. Heath Slater vs. Jinder Mahal vs. John Cena vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Matt Hardy vs. Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Rhyno vs. Roman Reigns vs. Rusev vs. Sami Zayn vs. Seth Rollins vs. The Hurricane vs. Sheamus vs. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. The Miz vs. Titus O’Neil vs. Xavier Woods

This was the 2018 men’s Royal Rumble match.

This match failed overall for a number of reasons. For starters, the first half or two-thirds of the match really dragged. There was not a ton of energy to it, and they took too long to start eliminating people. It started to feel like a typical boring battle royal.

The only good parts of this portion of the match were the jokes on the margins of the match. The plight of Heath Slater was hysterical and led to the great payoff of Heath eliminating Sheamus in one second. The New Day also did some good stuff with how they saved Kofi Kingston in his annual big spot.

Beyond that though, there was nothing really to be invested in. Finn Balor got to play the marathon role, but he did nothing note for the great great great majority of the match. It was cool to see Almas show up, but he too did not really get to do anything all that meaningful.

The end concluded with a bland final four sequence between Cena, Reigns, Balor, and Nakamura. They worked this portion of the match as if the mere idea of these four guys being in there together automatically made it cool. There was no sense of urgency. It was just soooo slow.

It did eventually come down to Reigns vs. Nakamura which did work reasonably well with the crowd. You could tell though just how cold the product is right now by the response to this final. It’s not that the fans did not like the idea of Nakamura winning. They just were not truly invested. It made the whole thing come across as being unimportant.

And that’s the perfect way to describe this Royal Rumble. It felt unimportant. There have been objectively worse Rumbles in history in history. But who could possibly care about this one. (**1/2)


Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan vs. The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro)

This match was for Rollins and Jordan’s Raw Tag Team Championship.

This match started behind the eight ball, as it came after the men’s Royal Rumble match and also featured three guys that the crowd had already seen on the show.

The construction of the match though somehow managed to make things even worse. They essentially turned this into a handicap match with Jordan working an injury on the floor. Between the post-Rumble cool off feeling and the fact that this show already had a proper handicap match, this one had ZERO chance to be successful.

To top off this shitfest, Jason Jordan became a heel for refusing to continue working with a concussion. Shades of R-Truth being a villain for drinking water during his match in 2011.

Sheamus and Cesaro put Rollins away shortly after that transpired. This was a total and utter failure. It would seem impossible for anyone to find anything to defend in this one. (DUD)


Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane

This was for Brock’s Universal Championship.

This was fine. They worked moderately hard, and they tried to take every shortcut possible to make this work. Kane is just too old and slow now though, and he had no place in this match at all. The only real highlight of this was that Brock and Braun briefly shot on each other towards the beginning of the match. We’ll give them some credit for that. [Brock won obviously.] (**1/4)


Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sarah Logan vs. Mandy Rose vs. Lita vs. Kairi Sane vs. Tamina vs. Dana Brooke vs. Torrie Wilson vs. Sonya Deville vs. Liv Morgan vs. Molly Holly vs. Lana vs. Michelle McCool vs. Ruby Riott vs. Vickie Guerrero vs. Carmella vs. Natalya vs. Kelly Kelly vs. Naomi vs. Jacqueline vs. Nia Jax vs. Ember Moon vs. Beth Phoenix vs. Asuka vs. Mickie James vs. Nikki Bella vs. Brie Bella vs. Bayley vs. Trish Stratus

This was the 2018 women’s Royal Rumble match.

This was a very solid way to end the show. This match particularly stood out in comparison to the dull and dragged out men’s rumble on the same show. There was a lot more energy to this one in large part due to this match having the advantage of being able to throw in a bunch of surprises. While some of the wrestlers brought back were never good in the first place, them being there gave the match an unpredictable and newsworthy feel.

There were not a ton of highlights to this one beyond that which would have been necessary to elevate this to the next level. The only real thing of substance was Sasha embracing her natural anti-hero role who will still prioritize her own interests above all else. She eliminated Bayley before she needed to and then leaned in to the villain role by being the one to eliminate Trish. All of that was well done.

The match then came down to Asuka and Nikki. It was not terrible idea, but the execution left a lot to be desired. The finish on the apron with Asuka kicking her off came off flat and awkward which ended things on a rather disappointing note. Overall though, this was still plenty fun. (***)


The big angle after the match was the debut of Ronda Rousey. She came out all smiles. Asuka refused to shake her hand. Stephanie McMahon was willing to shake her hand. It was a very awkward angle due to Ronda’s “just happy to be there” demeanor. It also took heat away from Asuka’s accomplishment and with Ronda just being able to insert herself into the Wrestlemania picture right after 30 women killed themselves trying to earn their spot. Oh well.


The final score: review Bad
The 411
This was a very underwhelming show. Almost everything felt like it was in slow motion and very few of the matches had any energy whatsoever. It's hard to imagine what anyone could genuinely defend on this show to be perfectly honest (beyond the Smackdown title match being creatively put together). It just felt so lifeless (especially in comparison to NXT the night before).