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    Monday, January 29, 2018

    WWE Royal Rumble 2018 Results: Winners, Highlights

    WWE Royal Rumble 2018 twice deftly executed the 30-wrestler Battle Royal formula.
    There were no babyfaces getting booed or fans bemoaning how the big bout unfolded this time around. Subplots shone, surprises wowed and the winners of both the men and women's Royal Rumble matches were warriors the audience could get behind.

    Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka claimed victory in Philadelphia in dramatic fashion.
    AJ Styles, meanwhile, survived against two challengers at once to retain the WWE Championship. Brock Lesnar pushed past two monsters to keep the universal title in his grasp.
    In those bouts, Sunday's pay-per-view laid the first bricks of the road to WrestleMania.
    Styles vs. Nakamura for the WWE title looks to be a lock. Asuka will have her choice of women's champ to try to conquer. And even UFC star Ronda Rousey looks to be en route to The Show of Shows after making a surprise appearance.

    6-Man Cruiserweight Tag Team Match (Pre-Show):
    Kalisto outwrestled Drew Gulak before his partner, Gran Metalik, had Jack Gallagher in retreat mode. The babyfaces were able to maintain control with quick tags and fast-paced offense.
    TJP soon the led way, though, as his team slowed the bout down, leaning on submission holds.
    Big risks helped Metalik mount a comeback. And a Salida del Sol from Kalisto sealed the victory.       

    Result
    Gran Metalik, Lince Dorado and Kalisto win via pinfall.

    Analysis
    With Enzo Amore's sudden exit amid sexual assault allegations, WWE had to scramble to replace the originally scheduled Cruiserweight Championship bout. It's not surprising the company went the six-man tag route. That's been the go-to option for the division ad nauseam.
    With zero build and no stakes beyond impressing whoever may emerge as the general manager of 205 Live, there was only limited spark here. There were a few fun moments, but this was no great showcase of the division.

    Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. The Revival (Pre-Show):
    Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson had Scott Dawson reeling early. Dash Wilder didn't fare much better.
    The Revival eventually pounced on Anderson's leg. That weakened The Balor Club member enough for the former NXT champs to take advantage and get the pin.
     
    Result
    The Revival wins via pinfall.

    Analysis
    This was far from The Revival's best match, a short bout with an odd dynamic. It wasn't clear who the heel was, and Dawson and Wilder's win was a fluky one that didn't do much for their momentum.
    And this had all the makings of a throw-in pre-show contest with no significant buildup ahead of it.

    Bobby Roode vs. Mojo Rawley (United States Championship; Pre-Show):
    Bobby Roode played to the Philly crowd before issuing an open challenge for his United States Championship. Mojo Rawley answered the call.
    Rawley bowled over the champ and then stayed on top of him, talking trash throughout.
    The champ was able to battle back. A lifting DDT was enough to keep Rawley down for a three-count.

    Result
    Roode wins via pinfall to retain the United States Championship.

    Analysis
    Rawley doesn't constitute a major league-level surprise, but the open-challenge format was a fun element.
    Like the rest of the pre-show fare, this wasn't long enough to really get going. It was meant to be the classic story of a babyface coming back despite taking a pounding, but it was missing a number of beats.
    It's odd that WWE has booked Rawley to take two clean losses to Roode. The company doesn't appear interested in tapping into the challenger's newfound momentum as a character.

    AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (WWE Championship)
    To kick things off, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens tagged in and out to frustrate Styles. The Phenomenal One fought off the two heels for a spell but soon found himself taking punishment in their corner.
    KO hurt his ankle while on the attack, forcing Zayn to take the lead against the champion.
    A gutsy effort saw Styles survive his foes' best shots and counter with his signature offense. Amid the chaos of the match, he was able to surprise Owens with a roll-up pin.

    Result
    Styles wins via pinfall to retain the WWE title.

    Analysis
    A well-paced bout with some great near-falls kicked off the PPV proper.
    Styles looked crafty and courageous. Owens' injury created an intriguing dynamic for the match, giving The Phenomenal One a realistic chance to win. Each man involved has had better stuff on his resume, but this was a shot of fun to start things off.
    And WWE left the door open to continue this narrative, as it looked as if Owens didn't actually tag in before he got pinned.

    The Usos vs. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin (SmackDown Tag Team Championship)
    The 2-out-of-3 Falls match featured a lot of mat wrestling in its early stages. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin came out on top in those exchanges and were able to chop down and control Jimmy Uso.
    Jey Uso's high-risk offense got his team back into the fight, however.
    A series of superkicks allowed the champs to score the first fall and go up 1-0. Not long afterward, a roll-up gave The Usos the second straight fall.

    Result
    The Usos win 2-0 to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championship.

    Analysis
    WWE went a different route here, delaying the first fall and giving the champs the rare sweep. That provided the bout with a surprise but also gave it a strange rhythm. The climax was far from emphatic as a result.
    The Usos continue to be painted as an elite team, something that will make their eventual loss an even bigger deal.

    Men's Royal Rumble Match
    Rusev and Finn Balor entered as No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
    Balor ousted Baron Corbin, and The Lone Wolf responded by laying out both Rusev and the Irishman. Elias sang a song before going into battle. Tye Dillinger didn't have a chance to enter at No. 10, as Owens blindsided him and Zayn stole his spot.
    Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro and Seth Rollins were among the entrants who followed.

    All three members of The New Day were in the ring at the same time but didn't get a chance to dominate as a trio. Jinder Mahal took out both Xavier Woods and Big E.
    Bray Wyatt and Woken Matt Hardy teamed up before eliminating each other. Once John Cena entered, the entire field ganged up on him. Rey Mysterio arrived and soon had to cross paths with Roman Reigns.
    The recently absent Dolph Ziggler entered last.
    Nakamura, Balor, Cena and Reigns represented the Rumble's final four. Cena ousted Balor, Nakamura took out The Champ, and The King of Strong Style was the last man standing after eliminating Reigns.

    Result
    Nakamura wins the Royal Rumble match by last eliminating Reigns.

    Analysis
    The Rumble featured a number of welcome subplots. Corbin looked strong despite his exit. There was the usual fun Kingston spot and some NXT flavor to the contest. And fans may be upset that he didn't win, but Balor was one of the bout's stars. His was a career-boosting Iron Man performance.
    The final moments saw a poetic standoff between two generations: Randy Orton, Cena and Mysterio looking across the ring at Reigns, Balor and Nakamura.
    The result, though, will be what people will most be talking about. Going with Nakamura is the kind of bold move the Royal Rumble has been missing for the past few years. The victory elevates a fresh face to the top tier and embraces the New Era in a big way.
    The win sets up a WrestleMania match with Styles, a title clash that will be tremendous.

    Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan vs. Cesaro and Sheamus (Raw Tag Team Championship)
    Despite the abuse he took in the Royal Rumble, Rollins put his foot on the gas and went right after the challengers.
    Concern for Jason Jordan distracted Rollins, leaving him vulnerable to The Bar. The heels beat up on The Kingslayer as medical staff looked over Jordan at ringside.
    Rollins was able to mount a comeback, but Cesaro and Sheamus' two-on-one advantage left him reeling.
    A wobbly Jordan eventually tagged in, but he could barely stand. As Jordan took a breather on the ring steps, Rollins had to fight off two charging enemies. He failed to fend off The Bar, however, and soon found himself at the wrong end of a three-count.

    Result
    The Bar wins via pinfall to claim the Raw Tag Team Championship.

    Analysis
    This was a mostly one-sided match clearly designed to be a buffer between the men's Royal Rumble and the last two marquee bouts.
    It relied more on story than action. Had there not been a handicap match earlier in the night, that story would have resonated more. Rollins' heart was fun to watch, but the overall electricity of the bout was of a moderate voltage.
    The loss will set up some animosity between Jordan and Rollins, opening the door for some interesting angles in the near future.

    Brock Lesnar vs. Kane vs. Braun Strowman (Universal Championship)
    Once the bell rang, Braun Strowman steamrolled Lesnar and Kane. Even when Lesnar brought a chair into the mix, The Monster Among Men remained the dominant force.
    The combatants began to destroy tables with their opponents' bodies.
    Hard strikes and power moves comprised a physical battle. Kane was able to prevent Strowman from finishing off the champ but fell victim to The Beast Incarnate himself. An F-5 onto a chair did Kane in.

    Result
    Lesnar wins via pinfall to retain the Universal Championship.

    Analysis
    Lesnar held on to the universal title in a demolition derby with shattered tables strewn about the battlefield. It was a sequence of big spots, a showcase of power and destruction.
    Kane wasn't able to keep up with the other two guys, while Strowman was far and away the central star. It's disappointing WWE hasn't just pushed Strowman into the spot Lesnar resides, but it's not unexpected. Before The Beast's contract ends and he possibly leaves for UFC, WWE is intent on making him the marquee attraction.

    Women's Royal Rumble Match
    WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon sat in on commentary. Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair watched the bout unfold from ringside.
    Sasha Banks entered the match first; Becky Lynch entered next.
    Lita later joined the fray and found herself fending off Banks, Lynch and Mandy Rose from Absolution. Kairi Sane from NXT charged in and laid out the opposition.
    Chaos erupted as the ring filled with entrants. Rivals teamed up to take down Lana. Michelle McCool took out four women moments after stepping into the ring. Vickie Guerrero knocked out Carmella with her own Money in the Bank briefcase.
    When Nia Jax marched in, she flung out a number of opponents. She soon faced off against Beth Phoenix, who got into the powerhouse's face.

    Asuka laid out Carmella and others once she entered. Trish Stratus came in at No. 30 with the ring still relatively full.
    Banks and The Bella Twins ganged up on Asuka, but The Boss still fell to the floor. Nikki turned on her own sister Brie, and The Empress of Tomorrow kicked Nikki off the ring apron to be the last woman standing.
    Ronda Rousey emerged after the bell and shared an intense moment with Asuka.

    Result
    Asuka wins the Royal Rumble match by last eliminating Nikki Bella.

    Analysis
    The interactions between stars of the past and present proved really fun. They provided a great juxtaposition with a number of fresh pairings.
    It's too bad Alicia Fox and Paige both suffered injuries ahead of this bout and weren't able to be a part of it.
    McCool scored several eliminations in a bit of a surprise. Sane and Jax both had impressive showings. Naomi provided the Kingston-esque memorable escape from elimination.

    WWE did well to call back to Moon and Asuka's NXT rivalry as well as revisit James and Stratus' old feud.
    The final moments didn't have quite the drama of the best Rumbles ever, as there weren't as many legit favorites in the mix. Still, we saw enough big moments and electricity to go along with all the history to justify the bout's main event spot.
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    Item Reviewed: WWE Royal Rumble 2018 Results: Winners, Highlights Rating: 5 Reviewed By: BrandIconImage
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