Kalisto, Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado def. TJP, Gentleman Jack Gallagher and Drew Gulak (Kickoff Match)
Of the three matches on the Kickoff show, this was the match that needed to go on first when there was essentially no one in the arena. Doors didn't open until the Kickoff show started, further proving that a two-hour Kickoff show is unnecessary and WWE should wait until more people are in the seats to hold a match. This was completely inconsequential, and although the effort was there, it did nothing to make me care about the Cruiserweight division.
The Revival def. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
This was a rematch from Raw 25, and that was the only build that it had. As a result, it felt formulaic. Nothing about it screamed special at all and I simply sat on my hands. And this is coming from someone who is a fan of both teams! The Revival needed this victory way more, so while I was glad they picked up the win, I wouldn't be surprised to see them face off in a rubber match sometime soon.
United States Champion Bobby Roode def. Mojo Rawley (Kickoff Match)
James Storm's name had been bounced around online shortly prior to the pay-per-view as a possible opponent for Roode, but I didn't get my hopes up because I didn't think they would give that away on the Kickoff show. That said, Rawley was an underwhelming choice, to say the least. Didn't Roode beat him clean on SmackDown Live just two weeks or so ago? It was a decent enough outing, but they don't have good chemistry together and the finish looked terrible.
WWE Champion AJ Styles def. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
For anyone upset that the WWE Championship match kicked off the event, the belt hasn't meant much in a long time anyway, not to mention that this feud hasn't lived up to its full potential in the ring. The crowd might not have been as engaged in the action if this took place later on in the night, so I was fine with its placement on the card. Owens and Zayn didn't tease any tension, and while I wasn't a fan of the fluky finish with the referee not catching Zayn failing to tag Owens, it was a fun bout on the whole. Styles retaining his title was what needed to happen.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos def. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
I was really looking forward to this match stealing the show, and although the first fall was fantastic, it was sadly all downhill from there. I'm all for WWE switching up their predictable formula with the 2-out-of-3 Falls matches, but the finish to this was super flat. One could even say it looked botched, but I haven't heard anything from a reputable source to confirm that. It could have just been poor planning. I have no problem with The Usos holding onto the straps, but I'm curios what this means for Gable and Benjamin. They didn't come away from this looking too great, leaving me to speculate whether a split might be in their not-so-distant future.
Shinsuke Nakamura Won the 30-Man Royal Rumble Match
I'm obviously biased because I was in attendance for the event, but I firmly believe this was one of the strongest Royal Rumble matches of all-time. I realize that's a bold claim, but I stand by that because I have very few, if any, complaints coming out of this matchup. A handful of spots were wasted on the likes of Titus O'Neil and Dolph Ziggler (why bother bringing him back if he'd last all of two minutes?), but beyond that, there were several stories told that made this better and more intriguing than any other Rumble we've seen in years. Plus, I loved each of the surprises (Andrade "Cien" Almas, Hurricane Helms, Adam Cole and especially Rey Mysterio) and thought they were excellently executed. The final four was fantastic with Nakamura, Finn Balor, Roman Reigns and John Cena and there was so much suspense because of the huge chance of either Reigns or Cena winning. That made Nakamura's victory that much more meaningful and memorable. Nakamura vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 34 should be an instant classic.
Sheamus and Cesaro def. Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan to Win the Raw Tag Team Champions
The crowd was beyond exhausted coming off that hot Royal Rumble match, so the fact they were quiet for a majority of this matchup wasn't surprising in the slightest. Plus, we had already three out of four of these guys in the Rumble, not to mention that these two teams have clashed countless times since the summer. I thought they told a solid story with Rollins attempting to overcome the odds on his own since Jordan feigned an injury and basically bailed on his partner, but the crowd reaction would have been so much better if this took place earlier in the evening. The Bar are now four-time tag team champions, though I'm not sure who there is left for them to defend against. Expect Rollins and Jordan to be on a collision course heading into WrestleMania 34.
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar def. Kane and Braun Strowman in a Triple Threat Match
Predictability hurt this match more than anything else because you knew Lesnar and Strowman didn't have a shot in hell at capturing the championship. I applaud them for making this more than a standard Triple Threat match by incorporating weapons, but the crowd was still pretty deflated and it was difficult for them to invest in anything that happened here because the end result wasn't going to change. It wasn't as atrocious as it probably could have been and it didn't overstay its welcome, but this was far from must-see.
Asuka Won the 30-Woman Royal Rumble Match; Ronda Rousey Debuted
First and foremost, I despised how the women constantly slid under the bottom rope throughout the bout and stayed on the outside for a substantial period of time. Perhaps it was more noticeable in the building, but that bothered me at various points. That aside, this was a very enjoyable Rumble match. It was quite clear going in that it would be filled with surprises because of how few women populate the Raw and SmackDown rosters, so it was a treat seeing familiar faces such as Trish Stratus, Lita, Molly Holly, Torrie Wilson, Beth Phoenix, Vickie Guerrero and NXT Women's Champion Ember Moon. Did Michelle McCool really need to eliminate five women? Whatever. Becky Lynch getting eliminated as early as she did was also a bit bothersome, and it was evident Asuka was coming out on top as soon as Sasha Banks was tossed by The Bella Twins, but I'm glad WWE went with Asuka as the victor because it made the most sense. It was a win-win situation because it allowed her to win a pay-per-view main event and Ronda Rousey also debuted without actually wrestling. The men's match was better overall, but I understand wanting to close out the event with what everyone will be talking about on Monday, and that's Rousey.
It has been years since WWE last held a Royal Rumble where fans weren't on the verge of rioting when it was over, so that automatically makes this a thumbs-up event. The undercard wasn't exactly stellar, but the two Rumble matches delivered in spades and that's all that matters. More importantly, WWE didn't attempt to "swerve" us with an unexpected winner and pissing everyone off in the process. This marked the first Rumble event I've attended, and I'm thrilled that it was among the best in nearly in a decade. The road to WrestleMania 34 is off to a stellar start and I'm excited for what else is in store in the months ahead.