There was no better location to host a history-making WWE Royal Rumble pay per view event than the “City of Brotherly Love,” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 30th Annual Royal Rumble concluded a week of WWE celebration, which began with RAW 25 on Monday.
With the build-up and anticipation of this momentous event, it was no surprise that they kicked off the event with the WWE Championship handicap match, AJ Styles versus Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. As usual, the match was simply “phenomenal,” as Styles successfully defended his title. And, of course, especially with Kevin Owens and his rash of controversial finishes, he complained to SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon but didn’t get the mercy he had hoped for. Shane usually has an over-the-top match at Wrestlemania. Is this the feud set-up for this spring’s big match?
While I find Jimmy and Jey Uso incredibly fun to watch, I find myself getting them confused in the ring. Ironically, the announcers said the same thing! The two-out-of-three falls match concluded quickly; I blinked and the Usos made their second pin against Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin.
Royal Rumble matches always bring out some interesting competitors, and it’s a perfect stage to introduce new talent or reinstate returning superstars. The past few Rumbles have also seen Kofi Kingston find creative ways of avoiding elimination, and he didn’t disappoint this year, using a plate of pancakes to save himself. Bitter rivalries put The Miz face to face with Roman Reigns and John Cena against Elias, which only adds to the excitement and drama. It was interesting to see the communication and teamwork of John Cena and Roman Reigns, who haven’t been in a ring together since last fall’s No Mercy pay per view. Seth Rollins came into the ring on fire, which was appropriate considering his new ring gear. The well-kept surprise entrant was the return of Rey Mysterio, adding to the Lucha presence in the WWE. The last two men standing were 2015 Royal Rumble winner Reigns and Shinsuke Nakamura, with Nakamura left to take the win.
The endurance of Seth Rollins is nothing to shake a finger at. After battling in the Rumble, he defended his Raw Tag Team Championship with Jason Jordan against The Bar, Sheamus, and Cesaro. While three of these men had just competed, Jordan suffered a head injury and never stepped foot in the ring, leaving the Rollins to carry the match by himself. He was unfortunately defeated, and The Bar are the new champions.
The Universal Championship three-way match between The Beast, Brock Lesnar, versus The Monster Among Men, Braun Strowman, versus The Machine, Kane was nothing but pure destruction. And, that’s pretty much all the match was: three men making a giant mess. Lesnar’s still champion, and no one is surprised.
The highlight of the night was the main event, the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match. Again, Rumble matches bring out new and returning talent. With a women’s roster that couldn’t fill out a 30-woman entrant list, there was a lot of speculation about who would be included. With the match being a culmination of the Women’s Revolution, it was amazing to see that some of the women who have paved that path return to the ring. There was everything from Lita flying off of the top rung to pure Stratusfaction of Hall of Famer Trish Stratus to Vickie Guerrero screaming “Excuse Me” until she was tossed by the masses. The strategies were a bit confusing, as some women stopped others from tossing competitors and some simply wanted their competitors to tap out. Yet, Asuka remains undefeated and was the last woman in the ring.
Then, the biggest, most poorly hidden secret of the night, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey made her WWE presence known by confronting Rumble winner Asuka, Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss, and SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair. With a shake of WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon’s hand, Rowsey has cemented herself in the WWE Universe.
The Road to Wrestlemania begins now. What feuds do you see forming? What matches are you looking most forward to at the Super Bowl of the WWE? I can’t wait to see Nakamura and Styles; I have a feeling that even if that match is not the main event, it will definitely steal the show.