By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Royal Rumble 2018 Kickoff Show
Aired live January 28, 2018 on WWE Network and social media
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at Wells Fargo Center
-The Kickoff Show was hosted by Renee Young, was joined by the panel of Jerry Lawler, David Otunga, and Peter Rosenberg. They hosted the show from their usual spot on the arena floor. Sam Roberts has the man with the fans role again.
-Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were shown backstage. They will answer the absolute worst of the questions submitted by fans in the social media lounge later in the show.
-A video package aired on the women’s Royal Rumble match.
-Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss joined the panel. Renee Young noted that the winner of the Rumble matches will be able to challenge the champions of their choosing at WrestleMania. Bliss picked Nia Jax to win the Rumble. Bliss said whoever wins will have the pleasure of losing to her at WrestleMania.
-Backstage, Jason Jordan was telling Seth Rollins that Kurt Angle knew what he was doing when he put them together. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin entered the room. Gable told Jordan he never knew he was such a daddy’s boy. Gable laughed and then he and Jordan hugged. Rollins left the room. Jordan introduced himself to Benjamin and noted that he and Gable were so good that they were going to call them the World’s Greatest Tag Team. Benjamin took offense. Gable stepped in and said that was before Jordan dumped him for his singles career on Raw. Gable asked how his singles career was going and said he still can’t make it on his own. Jordan pointed to his title belt and said it seemed to be going better for him than it was for Gable. Jordan wished Gable well with the Usos and then left the room. “That was your partner?” Benjamin asked. Gable responded by asking, “Can you believe that?”…
-The panel spoke and noted that it was Sheamus’s 40th birthday.
-A video package aired with Jim Duggan looking back on winning the first Royal Rumble match.
-Bayley delivered a selfie style promo in which she praised the fans for being the reason there’s a women’s Royal Rumble. She said she wants to be the first women’s winner and point at the WrestleMania sign.
1. Kalisto, Lince Dorado, and Gran Metalik vs. Jack Gallagher, TJP, and Drew Gulak. Vic Joseph and Byron Saxton were on commentary for the match. There were plenty of open seats even opposite the hard camera as the match got underway. The masked babyface trio gathered together in one corner and performed a triple moonsault onto the heels at ringside. An impressive spot heading into a commercial. [C]
Dorado performed a nice double springboard stunner on two opponents. TJP rolled up Kalisto and held his tights for a two count. Kalisto came right back with the Salida del Sol for the win. TJP bickered with his teammates afterward and shoved them both, but the cameras cut away quickly…
Kalisto, Lince Dorado, and Gran Metalik beat Jack Gallagher, TJP, and Drew Gulak in 13:20.
Charlotte joined the panel and bumped Jerry Lawler. Charlotte said she wished she could be in the women’s Rumble match. She said she’d like to win and then challenge Bliss for her title and then win both titles at WrestleMania. She indicated that she will be sitting at ringside during the women’s Rumble match. She was asked who she would like to see win. She mentioned Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella, and Sasha Banks. She noted that Lynch knows all of her strengths and weaknesses. Charlotte said there’s no one she wouldn’t want to face. She said she wished she could be the first entrant and would win the match. She said she wants to break Asuka’s winning streak. Rosenberg noted that the match is a possibility now that the winner can challenge for the title of their choosing…
Classic footage aired of Ric Flair winning the great 1993 Royal Rumble… A Royal Rumble numbers video aired…
Powell’s POV: The build to the Royal Rumble on Raw and Smackdown left so much to be desired this year. Fortunately, these video packages and now the Rumble numbers video are starting to sell the Rumble matches properly.
Owens and Zayn checked in from their locker room (not the social media lounge). They mocked a fan for using “u” rather than writing “you” and another fan for misspelling Zayn’s last name. Young fed them bad questions. Owens and Zayn mocked Rosenberg and everything else. Owens said KO Mania would begin with him and Zayn becoming co-champions. Both men answered a question in French.
A Rumble flashback focussed on Shawn Michaels winning the match in 1995.
2. “The Revival” Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Booker T called the match from ringside. JoJo was the ring announcer. Cole noted that 17,629 fans were expected to attend. The venue looked much fuller than it did during the opening match. Gallows and Anderson were getting the better of the match and The Revival regrouped at ringside heading into a break. [C]
The Revival targeted the left knee of Anderson. Gallows tagged in and worked over Wilder. Anderson tagged in and they set up for their finisher, but Dawson broke it up. In the end, Wilder chop blocked the bad leg of Anderson, and then Dawson pinned Anderson…
The Revival defeated Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in 9:15.
-JBL replaced Jerry Lawler as a panelist for the second hour of the show. The hosts delivered some Rumble hype and also noted that next month’s Elimination Chamber event will be a Raw exclusive show…
-Young set up a video package on the great NXT Takeover: Philadelphia sow from the night before (check out John Moore’s full review of this event here.
-Rusev and Aiden English checked in from backstage. English hyped it was the Rusev Rumble and noted that it’s Rusev Day.
-Alundra Blayze (a/k/a Madusa) joined the panel. She said every era of women’s wrestling meant something. She said she would have loved to have had a Royal Rumble back in her day. JBL praised her as a pioneer. Blayze said she feels a sense of pride, but she also credited the women who came before and after her. She said she’d like to be in the match herself. She said she’d like to beat Asuka’s ass. The rest of the panel got worked up and she was apologetic. Blayze was asked for a winner. She was amazed by the winner getting to pick who they wrestle at WrestleMania. JBL kept pushing her to predict a winner. She mentioned Nia Jax and then hesitated. “WrestleMania is going to come around before you pick a winner for the Royal Rumble,” JBL said. She still didn’t answer. She eventually said she’s a big fan of Nia Jax.
Powell’s POV: Wow, that was a train wreck. It seemed like JBL was trying to direct traffic, but Blayze just refused to take the hint to the point that it became a ridiculous and fun segment. By the way, there’s a story on the main page noting that Alicia Fox is out of the Royal Rumble and the Mixed Match Challenge due to injury. WWE has not identified the nature of the injury. Goldust gets to choose a new partner for the MMC.
-Sam Roberts checked in from the crowd and set up a video package on the WWE Universal Championship match. The panel discussed the match. David Otunga questioned whether there would be any alliances within the match. Young noted that the U.S. Title match was coming up shortly…
-A Rumble flashback showed Steve Austin winning in 1998 as Mike Tyson watched “Cold Stone” from a luxury box.
-Bobby Roode made his entrance and cut a brief promo about going from 30 to one in the Rumble and going from eight to one in the U.S. Title tournament. Roode announced that the U.S. open challenge begins now. Mojo Rawley made his entrance…
3. Bobby Roode vs. Mojo Rawley in an open challenge for the U.S. Championship. Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on commentary for the match. They took an early commercial break while Mojo was on the offensive. [C] Roode came back and went for his finisher, but Rawley powered out and ended up getting a two count. Roode came back and won with the Glorious DDT…
Bobby Roode beat Mojo Rawley in 7:45 to retain the U.S. Championship.
Powell’s POV: Imagine the heat in Philly if Mojo’s buddy Rob Gronkowski had shown up for this Rawley match. Instead, the crowd seemed more let down by Rawley being the mystery person than anything. Here’s hoping that’s not an ongoing trend tonight. I know more than typed that and…
-Rosenberg said something about how it was a great indicator of the type of night it was going to be.
-The next Rumble flashback was John Cena winning in 2008 when he was the surprise 30th entrant.
-Ric Flair joined the panel and said he’s always happy to be with the company. He said it was a big week for him having also appeared at Raw 25. Flair spoke about his 1993 win. Flair recalled saying “with a tear in my eye” and said sorry to the boys in Atlanta but he was in the big time. Flair addressed the Universal Championship match and said he doesn’t wish Brock Lesnar on anybody. Flair picked Lesnar to win the match. Flair also spoke about being a big fan of AJ Styles and said the guy in the best condition will win that match. He called Styles the current version of Shawn Michaels. “He’s that good,” Flair said. He also talked up the Smackdown Tag Title match. Meanwhile, the crowd was counting down Rumble style whenever the clock would count down to a new minute. Flair cracked that it was Royal Rumble night and he was in Philly, but he couldn’t drink.
-The panel ran through the lineup and delivered a little final hype including Flair putting over Philadelphia.
Join me in a separate story on the main page for live coverage of the WWE Royal Rumble event.