There's no doubt that the past few Royal Rumble events have been something of a disappointment overall. Sure there have been plenty of moments over the past few years, but the shows as a whole have been somewhat lacklustre, or have ended with an unpopular winner of the 30-man rumble. However, the 2018 edition bucked that end with a superb show top to bottom, including the historic first-ever women’s Rumble match.
The two rumble matches were very much the draw for this year’s show and neither disappointed. Shinsuke Nakamura winning was a nice surprise, as despite having been the logical choice to win the match his run on the main roster has been a bit of a damp squib. Eliminating Roman Reigns last was a good spot, and the face-off with Reigns, Nakamura and Finn Balor squaring off with John Cena, Randy Orton and surprise entrant Rey Mysterio Jr was a nice touch as it had a passing of the torch feel to it. Speaking of Mysterio. He looked great and I'd be very surprised if he doesn’t have some involvement either at Wrestlemania, or in post-Mania season. Other highlights in the match included Andrade "Cien" Almas and Adam Cole (bay-bay!) getting a nice run in the match, showing that the company definitely have faith in them for when they are eventually called up from NXT. Although brief it was also nice to The Hurricane getting involved too.
Putting the women's rumble match on last was a great call, and the match itself was really fun, with plenty of surprise entrants. Lita, Molly Holly, Ember Moon, Kairi Sane, Trish Stratus, Michelle McCool, and Torrie Wilson were among the surprises, and while many were a little rusty, it was a really fun and well-constructed match. Asuka winning was 100% the right call, and definitely deserved the win. She was made to look like an absolute badass and a worthy winner. The post-match with Ronda Rousey was hardly a surprise, but it was certainly a welcome addition and Rousey brings a huge amount of star power to the table. I liked the tease that she was going to go for the women's championship, as this also sets up some nice possibilities down the line.
The two world title matches also did not disappoint on this show. AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens was a fun opener, and surprisingly free of shenanigans, while Brock Lesnar vs Kane vs Braun Strowman was a weapon and stunt-filled brawl between some huge heavyweights, just knocking the tar out of each other. I like that the two matches provided a nice contrast, following the old "three-ring circus" concept in wrestling.
Finally, the two tag matches were very enjoyable. The Usos vs Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin was a surprisingly straightforward affair, which is a shame but I enjoyed the match for what it was. The Raw ta title match was a bit of a slow affair, but that's understandable given three members of the match had been in the rumble, and Jason Jordan was nursing an injury. Still it was enjoyable overall.
This was a very fun show, with no filler and several top drawer, high-quality matches. The rumble matches are of the course the main attraction, but helpfully the undercard delivered huge as well. A very good show, which is well worth checking out.
EXTRAS: The pre-show is here in full, including three matches. Bobby Roode vs Mojo Rawley for the US title was a pretty average affair, The Revival vs Gallows & Anderson was the same match they always seem to have, while the cruiserweight six man featuring Kalisto, Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado vs TJP, Jack Gallagher, and Drew Gulak was a really fun bout that unfortunately, few will have likely seen, but it makes for a nice extra feature here.