The 2018 Royal Rumble event set out to make history, and it did just that. Many memorable moments occurred throughout the night, and the seeds were planted for Wrestlemania 34. Below are some of the top stories from the event.
Nakamura wins his first Royal Rumble match
In a Rumble match with many viable contenders, “King of Strong Style” Shinsuke Nakamura entered at No. 14, eliminated three Superstars and won the Royal Rumble in his first appearance in the match. The so-called Rock Star of Smackdown joins a list of nine other past and present WWE Superstars to win their debut Rumble match, including Ric Flair, Brock Lesnar and Alberto Del Rio. The final four in the match were John Cena, Roman Reigns, Finn Balor (who entered at No. 2) and Nakamura. Cena eliminated Balor, and Nakamura eliminated Cena. After a back-and-forth battle, Nakamura tossed Reigns over the top rope and was declared the victor to the monstrous cheers of the Philadelphia crowd. After the match, Nakamura stated he would use his earned championship match to challenge AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 34, taking it back to their New Japan Pro Wrestling days.
Both world champions retain
Although statistical odds were against them, WWE Champion AJ Styles and WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar fended off their multiple respective opponents. Styles kicked off the event defending against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, who would’ve been considered co-champions if victorious. Styles retained in controversial fashion, as he rolled up Kevin Owens for the three count despite the replay showing that Owens had not officially tagged into the match and was therefore not the legal man. Lesnar walked out of Wells Fargo Arena with his championship after a hard-hitting match against Braun Strowman and Kane. No announce table was safe in this one, as Kane and Strowman were both put through one, and Strowman later had another pushed on top of him. Lesnar won after executing his F5 finishing move on Kane.
Asuka makes history, Rousey’s debut overshadows Asuka’s feat
In the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble, Asuka entered at No. 25 and went all the way to secure her name in history. Women of WWE’s present and past, including Trish Stratus, Lita, Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly, Sasha Banks and Bayley fell at the hands of the Empress of Tomorrow in a generation-transcending Rumble. As the dust settled, though, the victor did not provide the biggest story of the night. As Asuka stood in the ring to decide which WWE Women’s champion to challenge at Wrestlemania, “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts blared to bring out the former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, Ronda Rousey, making her full-time WWE debut.
In other news
The Bar captured the Raw Tag Team Championships for a record-setting fourth time after defeating Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan, while the Usos retained the Smackdown tag belts after topping Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin in consecutive falls in a two-out-of-three falls match. The men’s Rumble match did not disappoint with surprises, bringing back Hurricane Helms and Rey Mysterio. In the pre-show, the Revival beat the Club, and Bobby Roode defended the United States Championship against Mojo Rawley. Also, the team of Kalisto, Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado survived TJP, Drew Gulak and Jack Gallagher.