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Reviewing The Rumbles: WWE Royal Rumble 2018

January 30, 2018 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Asuka WWE Royal Rumble 2018
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Reviewing The Rumbles: WWE Royal Rumble 2018  

2017: The Rising Sun

A Royal Rumble happened, and there was no way I was going to leave my adoring(?) public hanging. I’m sure as you were all enjoying the 2018 iteration of the Royal Rumble, you thought, “Gosh, hopefully someone will review this Rumble after the fact and provide me with some context as to where it fits in the grand scope of the Rumble’s existence”. Well, not to worry, because I have your back, friend. Hopefully you remember this series from last January, but if not, just Google yourself “Reviewing The Rumbles [year]” and enjoy the magic. But before that, let’s get on with the 2018 Royal Rumble match!

The Participants
1. Rusev
2. Finn Balor
3. Rhyno
4. Baron Corbin
5. Heath Slater
6. Elias
7. Andrade “Cien” Almas (The NXT champion who had a ***** match the previous night)
8. Bray Wyatt
9. Big E
10. Tye Dillinger Sami Zayn (Sami and Kevin Owens mugged Tye backstage and stole his spot.)
11. Sheamus
12. Xavier Woods
13. Apollo Crews
14. Shinsuke Nakamura
15. Cesaro
16. Kofi Kingston
17. Jinder Mahal
18. Seth Rollins
19. “Woken” Matt Hardy
20. John Cena
21. The Hurricane
22. Aiden English
23. Adam Cole (with taped ribs to sell his Extreme Rules match from the night before)
24. Randy Orton
25. Titus O’Neil
26. The Miz
27. Rey Mysterio
28. Roman Reigns
29. Goldust
30. Dolph Ziggler

Final Four
4. Finn Balor (eliminated by John Cena)
3. John Cena (eliminated by Shinsuke Nakamura)
2. Roman Reigns (eliminated by Shinsuke Nakmura)
WINNER: Shinsuke Nakamura


-God, it’s fascinating how over “Rusev Day” is as a concept (or gimmick or what-have-you). The fans absolutely LOVE Rusev here. Perpetual chants for him throughout, and a particularly boisterous one for him at his introduction (performed with style and gusto by Aiden English).

-Two beloved superstars start off the Rumble as Balor joins Rusev to start. That’s how you get the fans hot to start!

-Michael Cole annoys me early on by bringing up Shawn Michaels’ win in 1995, going wire-to-wire. He talks about discussing this with HBK and mentions how Shawn was able to last that whole hour. That Rumble wasn’t even forty minutes long! Don’t lie to the people, Cole.

-Rhyno is an oddly shaped man. Has he shrunk? Or am I just noticing this?

-Great booking for Corbin sees him toss Rhyno before his own lack of focus costs him, and Balor sneaks him out. Then Corbin goes on a tear, beating the tar out of Balor and Rusev before leaving. So this allows him to look strong, but it plays into how he has a history of missing opportunities. Also, I don’t care for matches that involve Baron Corbin, and it gets him out quickly here. Win-win-win.

-Baron also batters an emerging Heath Slater before he can enter the ring, starting a humorous trend of newly entering stars kicking Heath around.

-Andrade Almas is the first reigning NXT champion to participate in a Royal Rumble, and I really hope I’m not wrong on that. The only research I did was making sure Bo Dallas wasn’t champ yet when he entered in 2014. But I certainly don’t recall anyone else that could make this claim.

-I don’t know why this bothers me, but WWE continues to ignore Bray Wyatt’s full history, as Cole calls this Bray’s fourth Rumble. It’s his fifth! They’re incredibly inconsistent with who they count the “whole” history of and who they don’t.

-Rusev starts a little “Hulk Up” from the Rusev Day chants to try to empower him to get back in the ring right around the time of Big E’s entrance. Bray smacks him off the apron over and over, but Rusev keeps getting right back up. This guy has become a treasure, haha.

-It’s finally Sheamus who allows Heath Slater into the ring, but instantly regrets it when Heath eliminates him Santino Marella fast with a clothesline. This leads to the best commentary of the night—and I honestly kept laughing at this to myself all show long—when Cole points out it is Sheamus’ birthday, and Corey Graves responds incredulously “Sheamus’ birthday is on Rusev Day?”

-Speaking of which, moments before #12 is counted in, the fans are back to chanting “Rusev Day!”.

-Xavier Woods seems to have overcome his terror of Bray Wyatt, and goes right after him after entering the match.

-Upon Apollo Crews’ entrance—and damn, am I taking a lot of notes on this Rumble—Michael Cole informs us that only 4 men have ever won from a spot in the teens (foreshadowing!), but he doesn’t tell us who they are. Never fear, 411maniacs, because I got you covered. They are: Jim Duggan at #13 in 1988 (but there were only 20 men, so…), Shawn Michaels at #18 in 1996, John Cena at #19 in 2013, and Roman Reigns at #19 in 2015.

-Nakamura gets a BIG reaction for his appearance, with the fans humming his song for SOME TIME, and then giving him an applause and a chant when they finally wrap up with that.

-Jinder Mahal goes right after New Day, eliminating Xavier Woods and Big E in short order. His eventual effort to toss Kofi Kingston is thwarted when Kofi lands on the fallen Xavier Woods. This leads to some pancake-based humor where Big E produces a platter of the breakfast food for Kofi to stand on as he re-enters the fray. Kofi then gets Jinder out, but is quickly tossed by Almas.

-Seth Rollins and Cesaro, who would fight later in the evening for the Raw tag titles, have a bit of a skirmish that ends with Seth… somehow springboard kicking Cesaro out of the ring? It might have sounded good in theory, but it just looks like Cesaro threw himself out of the ring. Eh, not all eliminations can be winners.

-An interesting Rumble twist sees two rivals come face-to-face (Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt), but then they start working together (to the crowd’s dismay, as their union results in the elimination of Rusev). They then turn their attention to Almas for a second before it all implodes and they go at each other. They blew that up a bit early, if you ask me. I think having them work alongside each other for a few minutes could have been something worth doing. Ah well.

-John Cen enters and is immediately dog-piled by Elias, Balor, Seth, Shinsuke, and Almas (everyone left at the moment). The fans appreciate it, even though it is just a brief moment of Everyone Vs Cena. As the crowd disperses, Cena pitches Elias.

-Andrade Almas lasts until after Randy Orton enters, at which time the NXT champ eats an RKO on an impressive springboard spot. Good effort, and it’s nice to see him last as long as he did (and, to be fair, commentary notes several times during the match how long he had been in there).

-Rey gets a HUGE pop for his surprise return at #27, and he quickly gets Adam Cole out. Rey goes on to have a nice run, too.

-Rollins and Reigns work together to powerbomb Miz out of the ring, and then Roman whips Seth over the top. Seth gives a little look that reads “Yeah, I guess you’ve owed me that for three years now. Fair enough”.

-Dolph Ziggler with a “return” at #30 after abdicating the United States title and walking off Smackdown Live a few weeks before this show. Other than eliminating Goldust, though, he doesn’t really mean much here, and Balor knocks him off the apron in a minute or two.

-There is a little “old vs new” face-off, as Rey, Cena, and Orton square off against Balor, Shinsuke, and Roman. In the most WWE thing ever, all three of the “new guard” superstars eat the finishers of the old stand-bys.

The Final Four is another little delineation, this time along the lines of “Establishment vs Fans’ Choice” with Balor and Nakamura working against Cena and Reigns. Wait, didn’t John and Roman have a pretty vitriolic feud in 2017? Why were they working together? Come on!

-Finn Balor lasts from the opening of the match to the Final Four, but does not win it. I thought that would be a more prestigious group of men who have done that historically, but it’s actually happened fairly frequently (especially in the last few years). Finn joins Backlund in 1993, Bulldog in 1995, Austin 1999, HHH in 2006, Ziggler in 2013, CM Punk in 2014, Reigns in 2016, and Jericho in 2017 as the men who lasted so long and came so close.

-Shinsuke Nakamura ends up winning the whole thing, ultimately tossing Roman Reigns. And the fans are thrilled! But here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter because Roman is STILL going to be the main event WrestleMania this year. Eh. At least WWE sent the Rumble fans home happy this year.

-After winning the Rumble, Nakamura announces he is going to target AJ Styles at this year’s Wrestlemania because sometimes—just sometimes—we CAN have nice things.


The Participants
1. Sasha Banks
2. Becky Lynch
3. Sarah Logan
4. Mandy Rose
5. Lita
6. Kairi Sane
7. Tamina
8. Dana Brooke
9. Torrie Wilson
10. Sonya Deville
11. Liv Morgan
12. Molly Holly
13. Lana
14. Michelle McCool
15. Ruby Riott
16. Vickie Guerrero
17. Carmella
18. Natalya
19. Kelly Kelly
20. Naomi
21. Jacqueline
22. Nia Jax
23. Ember Moon (NXT Women’s Champion!)
24. Beth Phoenix
25. Asuka
26. Mickie James
27. Nikki Bella
28. Brie Bella
29. Bayley
30. Trish Stratus (And I was euphoric this was not Rousey here)

Final Four
4. Sasha Banks (eliminated by the Bella Twins)
3. Brie Bella (eliminated by Nikki Bella)
2. Nikki Bella (eliminated by Asuka)
1. Asuka

-I have to be honest… when the women’s Rumble was the main event, I thought “Oh god damn it, Rousey is definitely winning this”.

-Stephanie McMahon is out on commentary for this match, and—this may prove unpopular and get some angry comments—but she’s not particularly egregious here. She actually adds some good points throughout, notes things commentary isn’t looking at, and isn’t too self-congratulatory or obnoxious.

-Corey Graves is, like, Jerry Lawler levels of skeevy when it comes to Mandy Rose. I mean, he’s not screaming about body parts or anything, but he says things like “I just want to see Mandy Rose doing anything ever, honestly”.

-A not-nearly-still-in-her-physical-prime Lita comes out at #5, but let’s face it: she needed to be in this match somewhere, so who cares? She has a #TimesUp sash (or belt or something) on, too, so good for her. Lita also has the names of several female stars who passed on before this Rumble could be realized, and Cole rattles off some names. He does not mention Chyna, however, but Stephanie does for him. So a posthumous Hall of Fame nod seems likely this year…

-In case you were curious, Michael Cole either thinks Kairi Sane’s gimmick is yachting or that pirates cruise around in yachts because he mentions something about her yacht-based persona.

-Then again, he also refers to a simple dodge that Lita performs to avoid a Tamina superkick as “those Matrix-like moves” because he apparently forgot that was Trish’s thing? Not a good night even by his standards. Maybe this is why I found Steph more palatable.

-Kairi is dumped far too early by Dana Brooke. I would like to have seen her get some kind of run considering they went in enough on her to give her the Mae Young Classic crown.

-Molly hits a flipping rana onto Sasha Banks, causing Corey Graves to note that “if that doesn’t earn a You Still Got It chant, I don’t know what will”. Unfortunately, no such chant materializes.

-Lana has some of that Rusev rub, and the Rusev Day chants are back!

-Michelle McCool goes on an absolute tear, getting Liv Morgan, Sonya Deville, Molly Holly, and Lana all out before the next entrant even gets counted in.

-I have to be honest… all the legends that came out for this match, and my first mark-out moment of this Rumble was for Vickie Guerrero. I forgot how much I missed her. She annoys everyone left in the ring into working together to get her out, but hey… the was always Vickie’s role. She salvages some dignity by clubbing Carmella with the Money In The Bank briefcase as Carmella was making her way to the ring.

-Kelly Kelly obviously hasn’t done her spinning flying head scissors spot in a WHILE, and struggles to nail Michelle McCool with it. But hey; it’s still better than I could do it.

-Jacqueline out at #21, looking OLD, and so I have to Google her age. She’s in her mid-50’s, so that makes sense, I guess. She was around in WWE in the 1990s, so this is 20 years after her prime.

-Nia Jax at #22, and I really thought she’d be #28-#30 for the whole Big Show “Oh my god how will anyone get her out she is so fresh” shtick. She cleans out some folks, but her effort to toss Naomi sees the glowing one end up on the guardrail instead. She finds a wheeled chair and gets herself back into the ring… but is then instantly pitched by Nia.

-Ember Moon out for #23, and she is selling the heck out of her arm from her NXT Takeover match against Shayna Baszler. Props to Ember; she really goes out of her way to take care of and cradle her injured limb while competing in the match. The arm plays into her elimination, too, when Asuka targets it to get Ember out.

-Beth Phoenix looks good here. I figured she might have lost some muscle mass since her heyday, but if she has, it doesn’t show. She ends up getting Jax up in a fireman’s carry and holds her there for several seconds. Afterwards, she has a short-lived reunion with Natalya before getting eliminated by her friend.

-Carmella shrieks a LOT in the later stages of the match, and I keep thinking Vickie Guerrero has returned.

-Trish Stratus ends up being #30, and really… who else could it have been (besides, you know…)? She’s even back to blonde, which I hadn’t seen in her last several appearances. Trish quickly ends up in a face-off with Mickie James because OF COURSE. Trish signs the number seven for reasons I don’t quite get, but at first, with the fingers up for the Two, I thought she was making a reference to Mickie’s infamous V from Wrestlemania 22.

-Sasha turns on Bayley to toss her when the hugger isn’t looking, and this starts a little heel stretch for The Boss for the rest of the match. Sasha seamlessly transitions into her old NXT persona here, and that is desperately what her character requires at this point in her main roster career. She gets Trish out and coordinates the Bellas to work with her against Asuka.

-I friggin’ love Asuka. I know I’m not breaking new ground here, but she’s a delight. Her facial expressions and mannerisms are god damn brilliant. I would watch her just be an asshole to people and mock them all day long. Her reactions to Ember and Sasha are both great. Male AND female, she’s in my top 5 on the planet right now.

-Asuka wins the Rumble (which was a foregone conclusion when Rousey wasn’t in it), but then Rousey pisses all over her moment by debuting while Asuka was considering which title to chase at ‘Mania. Listen, I’m not INHERENTLY anti-Rousey. I think she’s great, to be fair. If she’s going to stick around WWE, I’m excited to have her. I just really didn’t want her to win the Royal Rumble, and then I felt like her coming out took away from Asuka’s moment. Asuka vs Charlotte should be a money match, but I’m relatively sure WWE will go Rousey/Charlotte as the “big” match, and Asuka/Bliss as the undercard women’s title. It’s just not what I want personally.


1. 2001 (Austin III) – 10/10

2. 2010 (Edge) – 9/10
3. 2004 (Benoit) – 9/10
4. 1992 (Flair) – 9/10

5. 2007 (The Undertaker) – 8/10
6. 1997 (Austin I) – 8/10
7. 1998 (Austin II) – 8/10

8. 2008 (Cena I) – 7/10
9. 2018 (Nakamura) – 7/10
10. 2002 (HHH I) – 7/10

11. 2018W (Asuka) – 6/10
12. 2016 (HHH II) – 6/10
13. 2005 (Batista I) – 6/10
14. 2017 (Orton II) – 6/10

15. 2003 (Lesnar) -5/10
16. 1989 (Studd) – 5/10
17. 1996 (Michaels II) – 5/10
18. 2011 (Del Rio) – 5/10
19. 1999 (McMahon) 5/10

20. 1993 (Yokozuna) – 4/10
21. 1990 (Hogan I) – 4/10
22. 1994 (Hart/Luger) – 4/10
23. 2013 (Cena II) – 4/10
24. 2009 (Orton I) – 4/10

25. 2012 (Sheamus) – 3/10
26. 1991 (Hogan II) – 3/10
27. 2014 (Batista II) – 3/10
28. 2006 (Mysterio) – 3/10
29. 2000 (The Rock) – 3/10

30. 1995 (Michaels I) – 2/10
31. 1988 (Duggan) – 2/10

32. 2015 (Reigns) – 1/10

The final score: review Good
The 411
I enjoyed both of these Rumbles. The men's Rumble I thought barely edged its way into a Top Ten Rumble of all time just because it was consistent; it never slowed down or got lazy. It was booked well, and the right guy won. I had fun watching it. The ladies' Rumble was a bit too reliant on names from the past, and there was really only one participant who was a threat to win it, so there wasn't a load of drama... especially after it was certain Rousey was not involved. Still, it was decent at its absolute worst and quite watchable and enjoyable.