The Only Review Of The 2018 Royal Rumble That You’ll Ever Need – Part 1

It’s been a minute, this I admit. Both in me posting here, and the return….

Sebastian and I. Yes, the literally version of the Legion of Doom is back, baby.

Today we’re going to hear from Sebastian, and in a few days I’ll throw in my two cents.

The only Review of Royal Rumble 2018 You’ll Ever Need

By Sebastian Howard

Well hello everyone, my names Sebastian and I’ve been writing online about wrestling since I was 15. My main two sites are at Inside Pulse http://insidepulse.com/insider/showard/ and I’ve written with Cal before on WCW in 2000, our review site where we reviewed all the Nitro’s and WCW PPV’s from 2000 and started doing 2001 before we just got so sick of it that we had to call quits https://wcwin2000.wordpress.com/ (Note about the WCW site, a lot of that stuff was written when I was much younger so some of it is very cringe worthy in hindsight but there’s still good stuff on there and you can see Cal and I, our styles, develop throughout).

Caliber and I are going to try to make this a monthly, or semi monthly, deal where we review the PPVs (or Network specials, whatever you want to call them). I’ve tried making a consistent writing schedule with Inside Pulse but it gets so annoying putting in a bunch of work and getting no feedback or response from other people, 411 seems like a better opportunity to get seen by more eyeballs and as an IWC mark for the longest time writing for 411mania is a kind of dream come true as most of my favorite wrestling writers have come from 411mania (or as it used to be known, 411wrestling) and Inside Pulse so being able to check this from my bucket list is pretty cool. Alright, lets get on to the Rumble.

Royal Rumble 2018 (Or Maybe the women shouldn’t have main evented this time)

Okay before I get into my formal review of the Rumble I wanted to point out the biggest problem with it I had, the placement of the Mens Rumble and the Women’s Rumble. I think they should have been switched and I want to clarify that I do NOT mean that in a sexist or old school wrestling fan way, I mean it purely from a quality and crowd response standpoint. I think that the women deserve to main event and really like how different it felt to let the women’s Rumble main event. I like the IDEA of it and fuck, I even liked the match BUT the main event for most people was the Men’s Rumble. Because you put the thing that people wanted to see most halfway through the card AND gave an ending that made everyone happy the crowd was completely burnt out after and didn’t care about anything until the Women’s Rumble (and even then the crowd wasn’t even close to as hot as they were for the Men’s Rumble). I think that if you had kept the Men’s Rumble as the main event the anticipation would have kept the crowd hot and you wouldn’t have a DEAD crowd for a BROCK LESNAR match. The main reason I think that WWE put the women’s Rumble as the main event was because they wanted to do that big open question mark with Ronda Rousey but I think you still would have people interested enough to tune in to Raw and Smackdown with the goodwill of Shinskue going over. Alright, now for the formal review…

1st Match: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs AJ Styles (C) for the WWE Championship:

Something that I kind of liked about this match and at the same time bothered me was that I thought the whole reason Daniel Bryan set it up was to set up a split between Owens and Sami and even though they’re the new best friends. What I thought was going to happen here was that it was going to be a triple threat and that Owens/Zayn were going to work over AJ for a while but then get all pissy when one of them tried to win the title and that AJ was going to be able to capitalize on that and retain the title. Instead we got an actual handicap two on one tag and Owens and Zayn never turned on each other. I actually really like that WWE didn’t go the predictable route on this as it gives a bit of freshness…. however it does kind of confuse the whole Bryan/Shane situation even more. At the beginning of the angle it definitely felt like Shane was a total piece of shit heel that was masquerading as a babyface, trying to fuck over Zayn and Owens for trying, and failing, to make Smackdown lose a completely pointless match to Raw at Survivor Series (I feel like the original script for that match did involve Zayn/Owens costing Smackdown the win and fuck, that’s even what Smackdown and Shane pretend has happened recently even though what REALLY happened was Zayn/Owens getting their asses kicked by Shane with a chair and then Shane getting pinned clean by Trips).

Byran Saxton has been COMPLETELY obnoxious on commentary lately, to the point where he’s just a corporate tool who will take Shane’s side on everything and actually enjoys seeing Kevin and Sami get their asses kicked by three guys on Smackdown but bitches about how unfair it is when Bryan makes a handicapped match. Whenever Byran opens his mouth about the Bryan/Shane angle I just want to yell at him with all these logical reasons for why he’s wrong… luckily Corey Graves does it though it doesn’t seem to get him anywhere. My point though is that now Bryan went from trying to help Zayn/Owens not get fired to straight up putting them in a handicapped match against the champion. It doesn’t make a whole lot of character sense and I can’t figure out who the fuck the heel is supposed to be at this point.

To the match itself though, I really, really dug it. AJ fighting against impossible odds, Zayn and Owens working perfectly as a team, the moves were crisp, the near falls believable and the whole thing was just a lot of fun. I was curious as to what the ending was going to be because, while I went for AJ retaining beforehand I didn’t realize that it was going to be a straight up tag handicapped and not a triple threat. That made it a lot more likely that Zayn and Owens could’ve waked out with the gold even though I still pretty much knew AJ was retaining. The finish was good, with AJ getting lucky and getting a quick roll up on a reversal from a pop up power bomb from KO even though KO wasn’t the legal man. This does continue the story and make it intriguing to me, when KO and Sami were bitching at Shane about the miscarriage of justice and Shane’s just like yep, I saw it and don’t give a shit…. I’m curious to see where the angles going but at the same time it kind of sucks that AJ/Owens/Zayn can’t just get a goddamned story based around them and have to be stuck in a weird Shades of Gray Authority story that no one really knows where its going… probably not even Creative at this point. As for the match I’ give it 4.0/5.0, you really can’t go wrong with AJ/Owens/Zayn together.

2nd Match: Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable vs The Uso’s (C) for the Smackdown Tag Titles

I really loved this match as well, the Uso’s were all over the goddam place and choreographed their moves so well, the timing, the story telling, everything about this match was working for me. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin were trying to do more mat based, kind of Chris Benoit/Kurt Angle psychology working over a bodypart and trying to slow down the Uso’s while the Uso’s were just a red hot babyface fast paced tag team. What bothered me about this match was the finish, if these guys had got to go all three falls we could’ve had an early contender for MOTY… instead it just kind of ended abruptly. I’m curious to see if its because we’re getting another match between them (which I would love to see) or if its just because they were short on time and Creative or Vince cares more about the Buldgeon Bros getting the titles. Disappointing ending aside this was a really fun match and definitely made me want more. 3.5/5.0

3rd Match: The Middle of the Card Royal Rumble

Okay, this was a FUN match but it also kind of felt like too much was happening in the early part for anything to sink in. I did love how hot the crowd was throughout the entire thing though (though they had shot their load after this), to me the difference between a good match and a great match is a hot crowd and this was one of the hottest crowds I’ve ever heard, at least for this match. Let’s go over some of the highlights:

Rusev and Balor started at 1 and 2, and Rusev was OVER AS FUCK. I wouldn’t have minded him winning the Rumble even a tiny bit and I think the crowd would’ve popped huge for it. Its definitely cool to see Rusev this over, I hope WWE actually DOES something with his momentum leading up to Mania or Rusev could lose his support from the crowd. Finn Balor was a goddamn WORKHORSE in this match and made it to the final four, another guy that I wanted to win. Balor winning would’ve really signified that the Balor Club was important and coming for the major title (or titles if you wanted to do a story with Gallows and Anderson being more motivated because Balor won). Baron Corbin at 4 was pretty great because he was IMMEDIATELY eliminated by Finn which I loved because I fucking HATE Baron Corbin. This led to Corbin looking like a badass with a small dick as he got super pissy that he lost and beat the shit out of everyone in the Rumble…. but without actually eliminating anyone. At first I was like, oh God, we have to get this stupid mini push for Corbin in the middle of the Rumble BUT THEN ELIAS CAME OUT AND EVERYTHING WAS A-OK AGAIN!

Elias pulled a CM Punk in 2010 and stopped the match cold to cut an extended promo/sing and play guitar. Elias’s song about how Rocky sucked had me VERY worried that Flex Kavana was about to come out and bury him in under a minute but instead we got Andrade Cien Almas. Now I’m not the biggest Andrade fan, I feel like his NXT Title run up until the latest Takeover has had a very Jinder Mahal feel to it despite Andrade being much more talented than Jinder is. He just felt very lame duck to me and I still haven’t learned much about his character beyond he’s Mexican and he’s got a really got valet. However, he had a genuinely AMAZING MOTYC with Gargano the night before and looked great in the Rumble too so maybe he’ll end up being one of my favorite NXT Champions in the future.

Bray Wyatt came in at 8… Wyatt got to look a little more dominant than he usually does as he eliminated a few people but the way that he was eliminated, with Matt Hardy and him both brawling to the outside, it didn’t feel cool or exciting, it just felt lame and it feels especially dragged out because they already had a mediocre match at Raw 25 and Wyatt went over clean but for some goddamn reason (read: they have nothing else to do with them) Wyatt feuds last FOREVER and no amount of clean wins on either side is good enough to end the feud, the feud will just end randomly. Think about Bray’s feud with Balor, that shit went for like three or four months and Balor beat Wyatt as the Demon AND as Finn Balor AND THEY STILL went on for another month and were going to do Demon vs Sister Abagail before Bray got the mumps and we got the much better, and far more interesting Balor/AJ match. Oh and as for Matt Hardy… poor, poor Matt Hardy. Matt Hardy comes in with a gimmick that is already sealed, delivered and ready to go and has made tons of money and got people talking about it and was OVER. And WWE has dropped the ball COMPLETELY on an angle that they didn’t even have to do anything to. I feel like Vince is such a goddamn control freak that he genuinely will not let Matt get free reign, or anything close to it, in WWE but its so ass backwards because this is an idea that could make you MONEY and people are excited about it but no, WWE has to have things a certain way even if that certain way is dumb as shit and ruined an angle that most wrestling fans were excited for.

Sami took Tye’s place at 10, I kind of liked the idea that Zayn and Owens would be pissed off enough to take a spot in the Rumble and try to win it but there were two major problems with this. First off Sami never really became a big part of the Rumble and was eliminated without much fanfare. Secondly, if Owens is so pissed off and wants to win the Rumble why the fuck didn’t he take out someone like Golddust or Titus O’Neil (who both had high spots in the Rumble) and take their spot? The whole time I was watching this Rumble, up until number 30 I was expecting that story to come back around but it never did and was just kind of ignored after Zayn got eliminated. Mind boggling, especially if you think about what Owens could have added to the Rumble. Shinskue at 14 who was SO fucking over it was insane, the crowd was singing his theme song at top volume for like two minutes straight while Shinskue beat the shit out of people. Extremely cool moment and I’ll come back to Shinskue in a little bit…

The Jinder/New Day thing was pretty good, I was genuinely pissed off because I thought they had booked Jinder to go over all three members of the New Day but Kofi was saved by the POWAH OF PANCAKES and eliminated Jinder in what is probably my favorite Kofi saves himself from getting eliminated spot. Seth Rollins came in at 18 with really goofy looking Kane pants…. Rollins was busting his ass in the match and had three pretty memorable spots in the match. First was when he pogoed Cesaro over the top rope, then when Reigns and Rollins hit their signatures to take out Miz and then Reigns turning on Rollins because Reigns is a total piece of shit and tossing him. Cena coming in only to immediately get jumped by everyone in the Rumble was pretty amazing, Cena really sold the moment with a big OH FUCK look on his face. The Hurricane coming in was kind of cute though I liked how fast Cena threw him out. I’ve never been the biggest Shane Helms fan but at least when he’s not doing that fucking gimmick he’s easier to take seriously…. when he’s the Hurricane its just dumb as shit and I never really thought he was funny or cool.

Rey coming in at #27 was… well at first I thought I was going to fucking hate it because the most recent memories of Rey in WWE that I have is when he came in number 30 at the 2014 Rumble and pissed everyone right the fuck off. Here though he looked to be in GREAT shape, like early-mid 2000s shape. He looked buff and slim and not, y’know, fat. It was almost like taking Mysterio out of that time period, like in a videogame, and putting him in the Rumble. He was so fucking fast and crisp and it was the first time in a while that he’s looked THAT good. Regins was 28…. crowd LOVED it… just joking. God damn, Reigns is SUCH an out and out heel, why is it that EVERYONE BUT VINCE CAN FUCKING SEE THAT!? Ziggler came in at 30 and it was a big oh shit moment… Ziggler hit some superkicks and had some momentum going but then just got tossed. Kind of felt like a wasted moment honestly, I’m not saying Ziggler should have won but after that angle he should’ve at the very least stayed in there for 5-10 minutes and looked good.

We got down to the final four which was Balor, Nakamura, Reigns and Cena. What was so funny, watching this live with the crowd very for Nakamura and Balor and very against Reigns/Cena…. it just made it so fucking obvious that WWE understands who the Philly crowd likes and dislikes and was using that in the story. Reigns and Cena were both acting like total douches the entire time, trying to make it about themselves and underestimating their opponents. This actually made sense from a story perspective, because Cena and Reigns were overlooking Shinskue and were more focused on each other and Mania they both got eliminated.

Overall a very fun Rumble but one that felt a little scattered at times. I’m very glad that WWE went with Shinskue winning over Reigns because its the SMART thing to do. Vince can still do his SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT Best Babyface of all Time Roman Reigns vs The Unstoppable Heel Monster Brock Lesnar at Mania (regardless of the fact that Reigns is most definitely going to be the heel and Lesnar the face judged by crowd reactions) and you give the fans a reason to like the product and get excited with Shinskue winning to set up Shinskue/AJ at Mania. Oddly enough for me, I actually liked last years Rumble a bit more than this one from an overall standpoint even though I liked the result of this one much more. I’ll give it 4.5/5.0

4th Match: Sheamus and Cesaro vs Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan (C) for the Tag Team Titles

Okay, this is when the show started to become a slog to sit through. We just had a RED HOT Rumble match that was great and had people happy as fuck and after that you’re going to go back to regular Raw TV matches? This match really sucked… I don’t mean from a technical standpoint because Sheamus/Cesaro vs Seth Rollins/Jason Jordan… they’re all talented wrestlers and they put on a decent match under the circumstances. The thing is though, this felt like we were going back to Raw and the crowd just did NOT give a shit. The placement of this match on the show was terrible and it also just made me not care…. why should I give a shit about these Raw tag team titles when I just saw two of these four guys bust their ass in a much more important match that had higher stakes and lost!? This was obviously supposed to go on before the Rumble originally and I think if it had it would have had a lot more success and crowd response. Again, this why I think the womens Rumble and the Mens Rumble shoud’ve been switched around. Also, I didn’t like the angle of this match even a little bit. They’re trying ot make Jason Jordan look like a pussy for not tagging in but realistically, if you have a concussion and/or serious head trauma you definitely SHOULDN’T continue competing in a fucking wrestling match. Remember the whole reason that Chris Benoit went insane was because he kept on competing in matches where he’d smack his head right against a fucking barricade and keep on going after he knew he had serious head damage? WWE wants to do this tough guy shit but realistically the moral of the story they’re trying to tell is not a good one. 2.0/5.0

5th Match: Kane vs Braun Strauman vs Brock Lesnar (C) for the Universal Championship

Another match DOA because of its placement on the card. This SHOULD have been a big match and if it was placed before the mens Rumble I feel that the crowd would have been super hot for it, instead it was after and the crowd was D-E-A-D! FOR A BROCK FUCKING LESNAR MATCH! I genuinely can not think of the last time that has happened. There were some nice spots in this match, I liked the stuff with Brock fucking up Strauman with the commentary tables, the close falls with Braun just continually powerslamming Lesnar but this just fell flat for me because of the crowd and also the predictability of it. Lesnar beats Kane with an F5, wow never saw that coming. 2.0/5.0

Main Event: Women’s Royal Rumble

Now for all my bitching about the placement of the Rumbles it was very cool seeing the women given the main event spotlight at what is probably the second biggest show WWE does all year. It was very different from what we, as wrestling fans or at least WWE fans, are used to do and it was cool as hell. Instead of going over this one as much I’m just going to get in some highlights I liked. First Sasha turning on Bayley, I hope now this means that we can FINALLY see a heel Sasha vs Bayley feud on Raw and maybe they can do something serious with them instead of just making them look like total losers all the time. Also, Sasha looked like a total star in this match. She came in at number 1 and made it till the final four (same booking as Balor actually which is ironic considering that they both were in the mixed tag team challenge together) and definitely looked like a favorite to win the whole thing until the Bellas eliminated her when she was going for the double stomps. I like that, even as supposed faces the Bellas are still just bad people who do heelish shit and will eliminate each other because they really only care about themselves.

Nia Jax had a pretty dominating run in the Rumble match up until she got thrown out of the ring through the ropes (not over them) by Beth and Natayla. After that she became a strangely non factor in the match and got eliminated when all the women teamed up on her. I did like the Naomi/Kofi Kingston spot though I thought it was rather obvious that she was going to make it all the way back to the ring only to get eliminated right away. My favorite part of the match was Trish Stratus coming back and kicking ass. Her and Sahsa had some time to shine and now I actually want to see Trish vs Sasha at WM… or fuck, Trish vs just about anyone would work right now. Who wouldn’t want to see her vs Askua or her vs Bliss or Charlotte? Also, Trish is still hot as hell so that’s always a bonus. Askua winning was the right call and I like that they made her the underdog, having to fight her way out of both of the Bellas and Sahsa at the end, though I will say the ending felt pretty obvious when it got down to Bellas vs Askua. I just didn’t see any way or reason really to try to put either of the Bellas over so that definitely took a bit of the unpredictability away from it, which ISN’T something the Men’s Rumble was lacking. 4.0/5.0

So after that you had Ronda come out to Bad Reputation and do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!She pointed at a Wrestlemania sign, tried to shake Askua’s hand, got turned down, shook Stephanie’s hand and kind of stared at the women champions. I get that this is supposed to build intrigue so you have to watch Raw but the ending felt so….. unsatisfying and confusing. Also its like, what the fuck has Rhonda done to earn a title match? Just being Rhonda Rousey? She’s literally getting a title match because she showed up at the Rumble and pointed at fucking sign! When CM Punk went into UFC he was trying to get a regular fight and all the UFC fans bitched about that…. imagine if he had gone in and tried to win the title in his first fight? Granted its a bit of bad comparison because Punk would’ve gotten his ass kicked while Rhonda has a scary kind of mma vibe where she could possibly beat the shit out of someone like Askua but my point is that even in a fake sport like Pro Wrestling you still should have to EARN your opportunities and Rhonda gets a title match at Mania just because she’s famous? I’d almost rather she came in the Rumble at 30 and they did the Bret Hart/Lex Luger deal with Askua so you could at least say she EARNED it from a story standpoint.

Final Thoughts: Great show that could’ve been better if they had switched the placement of the Rumble cards. Am excited for Shinskue/AJ and to see where the women’s story is going and which champion Askua’s going to face. Am also excited to see the crowd shit all over Reigns/Lesnar at Mania (which will probably be the main event) and to see where we’re going from here in general with a lot of characters including the whole GM story.

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~ by Caliber Winfield on February 1, 2018.

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