By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Royal Rumble 2019
Aired January 27, 2019 live on WWE Network and pay-per-view
Phoenix, Arizona at Chase Field
A video package opened the show… Tom Phillips welcomed viewers to the show. Ring entrances for the Smackdown Women’s Championship match took place…
Powell’s POV: Dot Net staffer Will Pruett is at the show and he and several readers have noted that there is not a giant WrestleMania sign in the stadium. In other words, the Rumble winners will have to wait until Raw to begin the annual pointing. As noted in the Kickoff Show notes, there is not a giant stage setup. Rather, the wrestlers are entering from the dugout area of the baseball stadium.
1. Asuka vs. Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Phillips was joined on commentary by Corey Graves and Byron Saxton. Greg Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Lynch performed an exploder suplex into the barricade at 4:35.
Back inside the ring, Asuka avoided Lynch’s Disarmher attempts. Asuka caught Lynch in the Asuka Lock through the ropes and had to break the hold. Lynch returned the favor by applying her submission hold through the ropes and also had to release it. Lynch leapt from the ropes and into a kick from Asuka at 7:45.
At 9:45, Lynch avoided a missile dropkick and then slammed Asuka to the mat and got a two count. Asuka reached up and applied an armbar. Asuka tried to counter into an Asuka Lock, but Lynch reached the ropes before she could fully apply the hold. Lynch and Asuka traded punches on the apron. Asuka got the better of it and went for a German suplex from the apron, but Lynch held onto the top rope. Lynch escaped it and went for an exploder on the apron, which Asuka stuffed.
Asuka grabbed Lynch in fisherman’s buster position, but rather than suplex her she leapt from the apron and twisted Lynch around in mid-air so that she landed on her back. Lynch raced back to the ring and barely beat the referee’s ten count. The women traded strikes on their knees in the middle of the ring. Asuka caught Lynch with a spinning kick and got a two count.
Lynch hit an exploder suplex from the ropes for a near fall at 15:05. Lynch put Asuka in the Asuka Lock, which Asuka ended up escaping. Lynch applied a Disarmher moments later. Asuka escaped the hold and rolled up Lynch for two. Asuka applied an Asuka Lock and then bridged until Lynch tapped out…
Asuka defeated Becky Lynch in 17:10 to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: The Man taps out? I didn’t expect to see Lynch win the title in this match, but I also didn’t expect to see her tap. My guess is the internal logic is that it won’t matter if Lynch enters the Royal Rumble match and wins, but we’ll see what happens. Either way, this was a strong match and a big win for Asuka.
2. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Shane McMahon and The Miz for the Smackdown Tag Titles. The Smackdown broadcast team was once again on the call. The Miz wore his own Shane style t-shirt. Miz went to ringside and hugged his father, then Shane joined him in hugging Miz’s Dad(!). The bell rang and Shane tackled Sheamus and threw punches at him. Sheamus rolled to ringside and acted shocked.
At 2:50, Sheamus and Cesaro set up to powerbomb Miz at ringside, but the mighty Shane made the save. Miz held Cesaro on one of the broadcast tables at Shane went up top. Sheamus ran over and broke it up. Shane leapt onto Sheamus, then stood up and ate a running uppercut from Cesaro. Shane was run into the barricade by Cesaro.
Sheamus and Cesaro worked over The Miz. Shane eventually returned to the apron and took a hot tag. Shane worked over the heels and went for Coast to Coast on both men, but Cesaro caught him and performed a lengthy version of the Swing on Shane. McMahon reached up and put Cesaro in a triangle. Cesaro powered him up briefly, then started to fade. Sheamus leapt from the top rope onto Shane to break up the hold at 11:50.
Sheamus performed White Noise on Shane, who kicked out of a pin attempt. Cesaro tagged in and held Shane in place while Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick. The Miz broke it up and Cesaro took the kick from his partner. Miz performed a Skull Crushing Finale on Sheamus, then Shane performed a shooting star press on Cesaro and pinned him.
Shane McMahon and The Miz defeated Shemaus and Cesaro in 13:20 to win the Smackdown Tag Titles.
After the match, Miz’s Dad was shown cheering at ringside. Miz and Shane went to ringside and celebrated with Miz’s Dad. Miz also stopped to hug Dana Warrior before he and Shane headed to the back as the new champions…
Powell’s POV: But what does Miz & Mrs. star Marjo think of this development? Will Pruett is going to be insufferable on tomorrow’s ProWrestling.net Live after seeing that “Shooting Shane Press” in person. You can hear him rave about all things Shane on Monday at 3CT/4ET at PWAudio.net. We’re through the first step of this storyline. Now we wait for the Shane and Miz breakup and the assumed match between them at WrestleMania.
The Raw broadcast team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young checked in. Cole announced 48,193 were in attendance. They spoke about the Raw Women’s Championship match…
Backstage, Charly Caruso approached Banks and said people say she can’t win because she can’t keep her emotions in check. She said she puts hear heart and soul into everything she does in the ring. She said Ronda Rousey might be a UFC Hall of Famer, but she’s never been in the ring with a legit boss. Banks said she would make Rousey tap out…
3. Ronda Rousey vs. Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship. Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Banks went for a slap. Rousey took her down with an arm drag, which Banks rolled into an armdrag. Rousey threw some early knees. She took a page out of Sasha’s book by performing two of the Three Amigos suplexes made famous by Eddie Guerrero, but Banks avoided the third. Banks slapped Rousey, who kicked her in the gut.
Banks tumbled to ringside. Rousey followed and threw a punch that Banks ducked, causing Rousey to punch the ring post’s LED case (the light went out in a nice touch). Banks performed a suicide dive and then threw Rousey back inside the ring. Banks drove her knees into Rousey in the corner a couple times and got a two count at 3:35.
Rousey came back with a wild elbow to the head that led to a two count. Banks fired back with punches and slaps, then pulled Rousey’s arm into her knees. Banks performed a running knee for a two count and showed frustration when she didn’t get the pin. At 6:15, Banks put Rousey in a nice armbar, which Rousey eventually rolled out of only to have Banks quickly apply a Bank Statement. Rousey nearly reached the ropes, so Banks pushed off the ropes to roll out of it.
Rousey performed the Piper’s Pit move at 7:10. Rousey applied an armbar over the ropes and had to break it before the ref’s count. Rousey ended up applying an armbar on the floor. Banks tapped out, but of course it didn’t count on the floor even though Rousey was pointing to her tapping afterward. Back inside the ring, Rousey threw punches to the abdomen of Banks and then shook her fist to sell the earlier injury. Rousey caught Banks with a knee for a near fall.
Rousey went for a suplex, but Banks threw her face first into the corner. Banks stomped on the injured arm of Rousey. Banks set up for a Backstabber, but Rousey avoided it and went for her own finisher, but Banks avoided that. Rousey went for a twisting move. Banks landed on Rousey for a two count. Banks applied the Bank Statement and used part of her gear. Graves noted that Banks couldn’t quite lock in the hold. Rousey reached for the ropes and Banks rolled her into a pin for a two count.
Banks applied a Fujiwara armbar at 13:20. Rousey rolled out of it and powered up Banks for a powerbomb style move. Rousey hoisted up Banks, mouthed the words “it’s over”, and performed Piper’s Pit finisher before scoring the pin.
Ronda Rousey defeated Sasha Banks in 13:55 to retain the Raw Women’s Championship.
After the match, Rousey helped Bnaks to her feet and an emotional Banks nodded in approval. Rousey held the ropes open for Banks as she left the ring. Rousey played to the crowd. Banks held her arm at her side and paused before walking to the back. Rousey sold her own arm injury while taking a lap around ringside and stopped to kiss her husband, who was in the front row.
Banks walked back and met Rousey. They shook hands with their left hands. Banks held up four fingers, smirked, and walked away. “Maybe this isn’t over,” Graves said. Rousey looked disappointed, but then went to slapping hands with fans…
An Elimination Chamber ad aired and touted “two unbelievable matches” and “one unforgiving structure”…
Powell’s POV: A terrific match. Excellent work from both women and I loved the extra attention they paid to selling their arm injuries afterward. It’s just a shame that Sasha has been so damaged. It’s not that she can’t bounce back in a big way, but if the company had taken better care of her, this match would have felt so much bigger. Even so, the women did a fantastic job and we got our first tease for a match between the Horsewomen. I just hope they make Sasha a real player coming out of this.
The Raw broadcast team recapped the Kickoff Show match results (Chad Gable and Bobby Roode beat Rezar and Scott Dawson in a non-title match, Shinsuke Nakamura beat Rusev to win the U.S. Title, and Buddy Murphy beat Hideo Itami, Kalisto, and Akira Tozawa in a four-way to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Title). They also discussed John Cena missing the Rumble match due to “injury” and hyped Braun Strowman as his replacement…
A shot aired of a smiling Finn Balor., then a separate shot aired of a smiling Paul Heyman entering Brock Lesnar’s locker room.
4. The 30-Woman Royal Rumble match. Beth Phoenix was introduced and joined Phillips, Graves, and Young on commentary. Entrant No. 1 was Lacey Evans, who cut a promo once she was in the ring. She said she is the true lady of WWE. “I am here to clean up this entire women’s division,” Evans said. No. 2 was Natalya, who fought with Evans until the countdown clock started.
No. 3 was Mandy Rose. Natalya performed a double Sharpshooter and Evans and Rose. Evans tapped out, but Cole noted that it didn’t matter.
No. 4 was Liv Morgan of Riott Squad. Morgan charged at Natalya, who dumped her over the top, making Morgan the first woman eliminated from the match.
No. 5 was Mickie James. She clotheslined the heels and then worked over Evans. James threw a nice kick at Natalya. James went for a huracanrana on the ropes on Rose, who held on. They ended up fighting near the ropes, but neither woman ended up being eliminated.
No. 6 was Ember Moon. A big CGI moon appeared on the screen during Moon’s entrance.
No. 7 was Billie Kay. She threw a fit at ringside and declined to enter the ring. Kay walked over to Graves and told him that she was waiting for Peyton Royce.
No. 8 was Nikki Cross, who received a nice pop. Cross ran to ringside and shoved Kay into the barricade. Cross climbed to the top rope and dove onto all of the entrants in the ring for a big pop. Cross worked them over and tried to toss Evans, who skinned the cat. Evans clutched at her ankle. Kay entered the match and fought with Cross.
No. 9 was Peyton Royce. The Iiconics went after Moon but failed to eliminate her.
No. 10 was Tamina. Cross and Tamina had a moment. Tamina went through the ropes to the floor, but she was not eliminated. Tamina returned and caught Cross with a big kick. Tamina performed a Superfly splash onto Cross. Tamina superkicked Mickie James and eliminated her from the match at 17:45.
No. 11 was Xia Li. She threw several kicks at the women in the ring. Tamina caught her going for a kick and the idea was to flip her over and have Li land on her feet, but it didn’t work. Li stood up and threw a kick at Tamina and received a polite pop when she played to the crowd.
No. 12 was Sarah Logan. Moon was nearly eliminated by Logan, but she wedged her boots under the bottom rope to save her. The Iiconics eliminated Cross at 20:40 to some boos.
No. 13 was Charlotte Flair. Royce and Kay were seated on the apron when Evans kicked them both through the ropes to eliminate them. Flair eliminated Li with a kick just before 23:00.
No. 14 was Kairi Sane. Flair eliminated Tamina. Sane entered the match with a leap from the top rope onto Logan, then she threw a series of strikes at a no-selling Flair, who fired back with chops, which knocked Sane to the mat. Evans kicked Flair from behind. Sane performed a top rope elbow on Logan, and then Sane and Natalya eliminated Logan. Natalya immediately hit Sane.
No. 15 was Maria Kanellis. Maria tried to get Flair and Evans to fight, but Flair hit her. Evans pulled her off so they could bicker. Maria bulldogged Evans and Flair, then performed a facebuster on Moon. Maria signaled for a bronco buster on Moon, but Flair speared her.
No. 16 was Naomi. A CGI “Feel The Glow” sign appeared. Naomi quickly eliminated Rose. Mandy tried to eliminate Naomi, who did a handstand and ended up walking on top of the barricade before leaping onto the ring steps. Just when it looked like Naomi would return to the ring, Rose pulled her from the steps to the floor to eliminate her. Fun stuff. Charlotte eliminated Evans with a big boot that knocked her from the apron at 29:45.
No. 17 was Candice LeRae. She entered the match with a missile dropkick on Moon.
No. 18 was Alicia Fox. Maria and Fox formed an alliance. Maria handed Fox her hat, which Fox placed on Maria’s head. Maria waited until Fox turned around and then stomped on the hat. Fox turned around and threw a hissy fit. Ugh. Fox ended up dropkicking a posing Maria off the apron to eliminate her.
No. 19. Kaci Catanzaro. The American Ninja Warrior winner showed off her athleticism in a quick sequence with Moon, then performed a move on Natalya from the top rope. Catanzaro used the top rope like a gymnast and tried unsuccessfully to eliminate Fox.
No. 20 was Zelina Vega. LeRae and Vega squared off as Phillips noted their NXT history.
No. 21 was Ruby Riott. Morgan and Logan joined her and they pulled Flair to ringside under the bottom rope. Vega crawled underneath the ring. Fox was eliminated by Riott. LeRae was powerbombed into the barricade by Logan and Morgan, but Phillips noted that she had not been eliminated.
No. 22 was Dana Brooke. Riott eliminated Sane.
No. 23 was Io Shirai. Riott Squad was picking on Sane. Shirai went after them and ended up performing a moonsault off the ring post onto the three before entering the ring.
No. 24 was Rhea Ripley. The former NXT UK Champion was face planted by Moon. Brooke kicked Catanzaro to the floor. Kaci’s body was on the ground, but the broadcast team said her feet never touched. Catanzaro did a handstand and walked on her hands to the ring post and reentered the match. Ripley eliminated her moments later.
No. 25 was Sonya Deville. Deville threw a great running knee to the chest of Riott. Brooke performed a handspring elbow on Ripley, who came back and eliminated Brooke moments later. Vega blew a kiss to Brooke, then Hornswoggle popped his head out from underneath the ring. Vega fled and Hornswoggle chased after her and they both ended up in the ring. Ripley pressed Vega and tossed her to ringside. Hornswoggle chased Vega to the back.
No. 26 was Alexa Bliss, who came out to one of the bigger pops of the match. Phillips noted that she had been out of action since September. Bliss eliminated Deville.
No. 27 was Bayley, who also received a nice reaction. Bayley eliminated Riott by clotheslining her over the top rope. Ripley charged and Bayley also eliminated her.
No. 28 was Lana. She limped out with her left ankle taped to sell the spot in the U.S. Title match where Rusev knocked her off the apron. Lana only made it a short distance when a trainer and a referee checked on her. Some fans chanted for Becky Lynch.
No. 29 was Nia Jax. Jax walked past Lana, who was still being tended to, then turned and attacked her. Finlay and another referee came out, then Jax headed to the ring. Shirai charged Jax, who caught her with a big boot that stopped her in her tracks. Shirai went for a moonsault. Jax caught Shirai and dumped her to ringside. Shirai’s leg appeared to bend under her awkwardly, but it wasn’t acknowledged, so hopefully she’s fine. Jax eliminated Natalya.
No. 30 was Carmella. Becky Lynch walked out to a huge pop and approached Finlay, who was still helping tend to Lana. Lynch eventually convinced Finlay, who motioned for her to go ahead and enter the match.
The remaining entrants were Lynch, Flair, Carmella, Bliss, Moon, Bayley, and Jax. Bliss and Moon fought on the ropes. Bliss tripped Moon and eliminated her, then mocked her by making a crying gesture.
Bliss was eliminated by Bayley and Carmella, who were then clotheslined by Jax. Lynch spun Jax around. Jax grabbed her by the throat and set up to punch her, but Charlotte kicked Jax from behind, and Jax and Lynch appeared to bump heads. Damn. Flair eliminated Carmella. Bayley went right after Flair, who fought back. Jax ended up hoisting Bayley onto her shoulders, then a Charlotte kick knocked Bayley to the floor.
The final three were Lynch (who looked fine after the previous spot with Jax), Flair, and Jax. Lynch was sent to ringside. Charlotte hoisted up Jax on her back, but simply rolled her over. A short time later, Jax ended up on the apron. Lynch pulled Jax off the apron to eliminate her.
The match came down to Lynch and Flair. Lynch slowly walked the steps. Jax ran over and knocked Lynch off the steps. Lynch sold a left knee injury. Flair smiled and Jax headed to the back. Two referees checked on Lynch while Flair continued to smile. The in-ring referee was on the verge of raising Flair’s hand when Lynch rushed in and stopped it.
Lynch barked at Flair to fight her. Charlotte clipped the knee of Lynch and worked it over. Lynch had a hope spot, but Charlotte cut if off with a suplex. Charlotte charged and tried to hit a big boot on Lynch, who ducked, causing Charlotte to end up on the apron. Lynch knocked Charlotte off the apron to eliminate her and win the match.
Becky Lynch won the 30-woman Royal Rumble match in 72:00.
Lynch celebrated in the ring. The WrestleMania sign appeared on the big screen. Lynch pointed at it and said she’s going to WrestleMania… An ad noted that WrestleMania is 70 days away…
Powell’s POV: A fun and crowd pleasing Rumble match. Lynch winning felt predictable given that she lost via submission to Asuka, but predictable isn’t a bad thing when it makes the vast majority of the fans so happy. I enjoyed a lot of the NXT surprise appearances and this turned out to be a long, yet entertaining Rumble match. Of course, Lynch’s loss to Asuka makes her decision a little more interesting. I suspect we’re still getting Rousey vs. Lynch at WrestleMania, but I’m curious to hear how Lynch explains her decision.
A video package set up the WWE Championship match…
5. Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship. Greg Hamilton delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. The Smackdown team was on the call. Styles charged at Bryan in the corner around 5:00. Bryan shot Styles over the top rope and he landed chest first on the ring post casing. Styles sold a chest injury at ringside. Bryan followed and ran Styles into another ring post while holding AJ’s left arm behind his back.
Bryan took Styles back inside the ring and targeted his left arm with a couple of submission holds, which Styles broke by reaching the ropes both times. Styles, who had a bloody nose, came back and threw several punches at the face of Bryan. Styles went for a Styles Clash, but Bryan avoided it and they went to a series of rapid fire pinfall attempts. Styles performed a dragon screw leg whip on Bryan. Styles charged at Bryan in the corner and took a drop toe hold that sent him face first into a turnbuckle.
At 11:25, Bryan performed a dragon suplex and got a near fall. Bryan set up for a move on the ropes. Styles fought him off and went for a Styles Clash from the ropes, but Bryan kicked himself free and knocked Styles to ringside. Bryan charged at Styles as he made it to the apron. Styles moved and Bryan crashed to the floor. Styles performed a moonsault off the barricade into a reverse DDT at ringside at 13:35.
Styles rolled Bryan back inside the ring and went for a springboard 450 only to have Bryan raise his knees. Bryan applied a LeBell Lock on Styles and barked at him to tap. Styles broke it and countered into a pin for two, then applied a calf crusher on Bryan, who eventually reached the ropes. Bryan came back and threw kicks to the injured arm of a kneeling Styles. AJ ducked the last kick, but Bryan turned and threw another kick at the arm.
Styles tried to roll Bryan into a calf crusher. Bryan rolled onto his feet instead kicked Styles before getting a near fall. Bryan held the arms of Styles and then stomped his face a few times. Bryan sold his knee injury and stopped. Bryan went up top and Styles cut him off and headbutted him several times. Bryan slipped under Styles and crotched him on the top rope. Bryan went for a belly to back suplex. Styles landed on his feet and ended up applying the calf crusher, which he rolled into a pin for a two count.
At 20:00, Styles and Bryan fought for a backslide. Styles elbowed Bryan a couple of times and flipped him over. Styles kicked Bryan and performed a brainbuster for a two count. At 22:15, Styles performed a Pele Kick and both men remained down. Suddenly, Erick Rowan walked to ringside dressed in a flannel shirt over a t-shirt and dark pants. The broadcast team called him by his full name and questioned why he was there.
Styles caught the leg of Bryan, who went for an enzuigiri, but Bryan ducked it and the kick took out the referee. REF BUMP!!! Styles performed a Styles Clash and had a visual pinfall. Rowan entered the ring, pulled up Styles, and slammed him down. Bryan covered Styles and the referee recovered and made the three count.
Daniel Bryan defeated AJ Styles in 24:35 to retain the WWE Championship.
After the match, Bryan motioned for Rowan to pick up Styles. Rowan complied and shoved Bryan into a running knee from Bryan.
Powell’s POV: A long match that played to a tired crowd that was spent after the long women’s Rumble match. The fans were slow to get onboard and the finish wasn’t rewarding for such a long match. It looks like Bludgeon Brothers are either no more or they are now a grunge version if Luke Harper shows up and joins the party. As much as I enjoy watching Bryan and Styles work together, it felt like they could have accomplished what they needed to and helped the overall show by shaving off nearly ten minutes.
A WrestleMania: New Orleans documentary teaser aired. It will air on the network after the Rumble… An ad aired for the NXT Halftime Heat. It mocked watching Maroon 5 and asked why watch their halftime show when you could watch the NXT show… Cole, Graves, and Young recapped footage of how the Halftime Heat match with Ricochet, Aleister Black, and Velveteen Dream vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, and Adam Cole was set up after Takeover went off the air…
A video package set up the WWE Universal Championship match…
6. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Finn Balor for the WWE Universal Championship. Balor entered as himself rather than as the Demon. Lesnar had a corny CGI symbol above him during his entrance (as have a number of wrestlers in the singles matches). Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match, which was called by the Raw team. Heyman delivered the introduction for Lesnar and gave a spoiler about Lesnar conquering all the way to WrestleMania. Balor smirked.
The ref took the title to Lesnar and was going to hand it to the ringside attendant when Lesnar stopped him, took the title, and gave it to Heyman. The bell rang and Balor performed a running dropkick on Lesnar. Brock shut down Balor’s early flurry with a big suplex. They went to ringside and Balor shoved Lesnar stomach first into the exposed corner of the broadcast table twice.
Lesnar bounced back and performed belly to belly suplexes in the ring. Young noted that Lesnar was wincing whenever he performed a suplex. Balor kicked Lensar in the gut and a sling blade clothesline. Balor charged Lesnar, who knocked him down with a big clothesline. Lesnar stood and did his dance. He tried to pick up Balor for another suplex, but he winced in pain and was censored as he cussed. Lesnar tried again and let it go. Lesnar picked up Balor for an F5, but Balor countered into a DDT for a near fall at 6:25.
Balor sent Lesnar to ringside and performed a flip dive. Cole said Lesnar’s title reign could be coming to an end. Cole said Lesnar had no idea where he was. Balor performed another flip dive. Lesnar held his abdomen and rolled back inside the ring where Balor gave him a running dropkick in the corner. Balor went up top and performed a Coup De Grace for a near fall that the live crowd was up for. Lesnar immediately applied a Kimura lock. Balor tried unsuccessfully to reach the ropes and then tapped out.
Brock Lesnar defeated Finn Balor in 8:40 to retain the WWE Universal Championship.
After the match, Lesnar attacked Balor and suplexed him. Graves said Balor made Lesnar a believer and that’s why Lesnar was attacking him. Lesnar performed another suplex. Heyman handed Lesnar his title belt, which he held up as his music played. Lesnar picked up Balor and performed an F5. Lesnar held up his title to a booing crowd, then winced to sell his abdominal injury…
Powell’s POV: It was what most of us assumed in terms of Balor getting a big near fall, but ultimately losing in the end. I’m surprised we didn’t see him kick out of an F5 given the story they seemed to set up on Raw. The broadcast team praised Balor for putting up a big fight. I’m just not sure how much he really gains since we’ve seen this formula before. And I didn’t feel like Balor pushed Lesnar so hard during the match that they intend to have him enter the Rumble, win, and then coming back to face Brock as The Demon at WrestleMania, especially since we already saw Lynch win a Rumble match after losing earlier in the night.
An Elimination Chamber ad aired for the February 17 pay-per-view… JBL and Jerry Lawler were introduced as guest commentators for the men’s Rumble match. They joined Cole and Graves on commentary…
7. The 30-Man Royal Rumble match. Entrant No. 1 was Elias, who sat on a stool with his guitar in the ring. He said the deck was stacked, but he would eliminate 29 other men. Elias was about to perform a song when he was interrupted by entrance music.
No. 2 was “Double J” Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett had the old Double J gear and hat. Elias smiled. Jarrett played to the crowd and did his Double J introduction. Elias said he gets interrupted almost all the time. He said it was nice to be interrupted by someone who actually brings something to the table. Elias assumed Jarrett wanted to do a duet with him. Jarrett played to the crowd and asked if they wanted to hear it. A big Yes! chant broke out. Elias asked Jarrett to do his introduction again, then hit him with a forearm to the face to start the match.
Elias barked about being compared to Jarrett. Elias knocked Jarrett down and asked who wants to walk with him. Elias smashed a guitar over the back of Jarrett and then threw him over the top rope to eliminate him.
No. 3 was Shinsuke Nakamura. Cole noted that Nakamura won the Rumble last year. Elias did a version of Undertaker’s Old School walk. The broadcast team acknowledged it and said Taker does it better.
No. 4 was Kurt Angle, who fought with Elias and Nakamura.
No. 5 was Big E. Cole noted that the New Day members were wearing gear that had Kofi Kingston’s best Rumble moments in comic book form. E tried to eliminate Nakamura. Angle snuck up behind E and performed an Olympic Slam. Nakamura attacked Angle and eliminated him at 7:10.
No. 6 was Johnny Gargano. Cole noted that Gargano is the new NXT North American Champion and that his wife Candice LeRae was in the women’s Rumble match earlier. Loud “Johnny Wrestling” and “NXT” chants broke out as he fought with Elias.
No. 7. was Jinder Mahal. The Singh Brothers headed to ringside as Mahal entered the match. Mahal was quickly eliminated by Gargano, which was preceded by Cole asking how embarrassing it would be for Mahal to be eliminated by him (sigh). The Singh Brothers were also beaten up.
No. 8 was Samoa Joe. Cole noted that it was Joe’s first Rumble match. Joe eliminated Big E at 11:55 while the broadcast team spoke about how Joe is built perfectly for the Rumble match.
No. 9 was Curt Hawkins. They are rushing through some of these entrances, as there didn’t seem to be much time between the Joe and Hawkins introductions. Hawkins entered the ring and then immediately rolled to ringside. Hawkins snuck in and hit Joe’s back, then ducked back out. Hawkins snuck back in and kicked Gargano and hit Nakamura. Joe applied a Coquina Clutch on Hawkins from behind. Elias broke it up and Hawkins rolled to ringside and hid underneath the ring.
No. 10 was Seth Rollins, who had new gear. Cole noted that Rollins was wearing Chicago Bears colors. Rollins eliminated Elias at 15:10.
No. 11 was Titus O’Neil. Cole asked if everyone was ready for Titus “World Slide”. Titus ran to the ring, stopped short of the apron, and then played to the crowd for not slipping. Hawkins stuck his head out from underneath the ring. Titus went under the ring and they both emerged on the other side and slid into the ring. Titus charged Hawkins, who ducked, and Titus tumbled over the top for the elimination. Hawkins celebrated and was quickly eliminated by Joe.
No. 12 was Kofi Kingston. Joe went after Kingston and failed to eliminate him.
No. 13 was Mustafa Ali. Joe was waiting for Ali, who ended up giving Joe a facebuster and then threw punches at him. Nakamura was on the ropes when Ali dropkicked him and knocked him to the floor to eliminate him at 20:00. Ali performed a nice tornado DDT on Gargano, then Joe performed a big suplex that sent Ali crashing into the corner.
No. 14. was Dean Ambrose. Rollins waited for Ambrose and they immediately traded punches. It was time for Kingston’s big spot. He was on his back and rolled over to the ring steps to return to the ring. Ambrose eliminated Gargano at 21:50.
No. 15 was No Way Jose. The goof troop conga line was with him. Jose entered the ring and Joe immediately clotheslined him over the top rope to eliminate him. Jose got up and danced with the Rosebud Rejects.
No. 16 was Drew McIntyre. Cole said McIntyre was his pick to win the Rumble and labeled him as the reason John Cena was not in the match. Jose and the Rosebud Rejects were still out there. McIntyre roughed up Jose and a couple of the stupid dancers and headed to the ring where he and Joe traded punches. McIntyre blasted Joe with a Claymore Kick.
No. 17 was Xavier Woods. Kingston was on his back again and Woods catapulted him onto his back. JBL said this is where he would turn on his partner. They leapt over the top rope and into the ring and were eliminated by McIntyre at 26:35 to end the Kingston silliness.
No. 18 was Pete Dunne. Cole praised his 600-plus day reign as the WWE UK Champion. Cole plugged NXT UK while Dunne worked over multiple wrestlers.
No. 19 was Andrade, who performed a nice DDT on Dunne.
No. 20 was Apollo Crews. Cole said he’d been thinking about Crews all week long and thinks he could be a sleeper pick.
No. 21 was Aleister Black. Cole noted that he’s a former NXT Champion and praised the match he had with Tommaso Ciampa at Takeover the night before. Black eliminated Ambrose at 33:30. Joe quickly attacked Black from behind.
No. 22 was Shelton Benjamin. Joe put Ali in the Coquina Clutch. Benjamin hit Joe with a knee to the head to break it. Ali eliminated Joe, who glared at him from ringside and then pointed at him.
No. 23 was Baron Corbin. Cole noted that Corbin lasted one minute last year before he was eliminated by Finn Balor. Corbin performed a Deep Six on Ali and then tried to toss him over the top, but Ali held on. Corbin eliminated Crews at 36:20.
No. 24 was Jeff Hardy, who received a strong reaction. Hardy performed a Whisper in the Wind on multiple opponents. Black blasted Hardy with a shot to the head. Dunne did the finger break spot on Black, who came back with a kick and then acted like he put a dislocated finger back in place. Corbin grabbed Black and tossed him over to eliminate him to boos at 38:25. Dunne set up for the finger break spot on Corbin, but McIntyre gave him a Claymore Kick and eliminated him.
No. 25 was Rey Mysterio. Andrade powerbombed Mysterio while Cole put over their rivalry.
No. 26 was Bobby Lashley. Lio Rush came to the ring with Lashley. Cole noted that an acting Intercontinental Champion had never won the Rumble match. Lashley was eliminated in seconds when he charged at a ducking Rollins and tumbled over the top rope at 41:15. Lashley pulled Rollins to ringside and suplexed him on the floor. Rush cleared the broadcast table and then Lashley chokeslammed Rollins through the table.
No. 27 was Braun Strowman, who went right at Corbin and eliminated him at 43:00. Strowman eliminated Benjamin moments later. Strowman was fighting Hardy against the ropes. McIntyre tipped them over and only Hardy was eliminated.
No. 28 was Dolph Ziggler, who quickly eliminated McIntyre.
No. 29 was Randy Orton. Graves questioned if Orton could join Steve Austin as the only three-time Rumble winner. Strowman called for Orton, who entered the ring and glared at him. Strowman stuffed and RKO and powerslammed Orton. Strowman played to the crowd, which didn’t seem all that impressed. They did a tower of doom spot with Strowman holding up Andrade and Ali as Mysterio clotheslined them from the top rope.
Supposed No. 30 entrant R-Truth made his entrance and was singing the the “What’s Up?” song when Nia Jax attacked him from behind and ran him into the barricade a couple times.
No. 30(?) Jax headed to the ring. Jax threw clotheslines at various opponents and dropped an elbow on Mysterio. Cole said he assumed Jax was officially in. Jax headbutted Ali, hoisted him onto her back, and eliminated him from the match.
Orton knelt behind Jax and then stood up. They looked at one another. Orton went for the move, but she stuffed it and then knocked him down with a shoulder block. Jax hoisted up Mysterio on her shouder, but Ziggler superkicked her. Mysterio gave Jax a 619. Orton put her down with an RKO. “What in the hell is happening?” one of the broadcast team members asked. Orton and Mysterio dumped her onto the apron, and Mysterio eventually kicked her off the apron to eliminate her. Orton quickly eliminated Mysterio, then Andrade eliminated Orton.
The final four were Strowman, Andrade, Ziggler, and Rollins. Andrade and Ziggler fought in the middle of the ring while Rollins and Strowman were down at ringside. Strowman returned and clotheslined both men. Rollins showed signs of life and was knocked down on the floor by Strowman.
Rollins ended up returning and joined Ziggler and Andrade in targeting the big man. Strowman quickly eliminated Andrade and then Ziggler. Strowman chokeslammed Rollins. Strowman tried to eliminate Rollins, who held on and carried him to the apron. Rollins shoved Strowman into the post and then superkicked him. Rollins gave Strowman a Stomp, causing Strowman to tumble off the apron to the floor.
Seth Rollins won a 30-man Royal Rumble in 57:35.
Rollins celebrated briefly and pointed at the WrestleMania sign on the big screen while Cole closed the show…
Powell’s POV: Another case of the Rumble winner being predictable, crowd pleasing, and the right move for WrestleMania. The men’s match had it’s moments and suffered a bit from the show feeling overly long at over 50 minutes past the advertised four-hour window for the main show. I enjoyed the women’s match more this time around, and I’m surprised that Seth’s big win didn’t feel more epic, as he spent such a long time lying at ringside selling the table spot.
Overall, the Rumble event was entertaining albeit mostly predictable in terms of the match outcomes. I’m just happy that it seems like Vince McMahon is listening to his fans rather than force feeding them the matches that he wants to give them. I will have more to say when Jake Barnett and I record the members’ audio review momentarily.
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The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...