Royal Rumble 2018 was a professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event and WWE Network event produced by WWE for the Raw and SmackDown brands. It took place on January 28, 2018, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This was the 31st event under the Royal Rumble chronology, the first to include a women's Royal Rumble match, and consequently, two Royal Rumble matches.
Nine matches were contested at the event, including three on the pre-show. In the main event, Asuka won the first-ever women's Royal Rumble match, which was also the second women's match to main event a WWE pay-per-view, and the first to main event one of WWE's "Big Four" pay-per-views. The men's Royal Rumble match was won by Shinsuke Nakamura. Other prominent matches included Brock Lesnar retaining the Universal Championship in a triple threat match against Braun Strowman and Kane, and AJ Styles retained the WWE Championship against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a handicap match. The event was also notable for the surprise appearance of former UFC star Ronda Rousey following the women's match, officially confirming that she had signed full-time with WWE.
The card comprised of matches that resulted from scripted storylines and had results predetermined by WWE on both the Raw and SmackDown brands. Storylines were produced on WWE's weekly television shows, Monday Night Raw, SmackDown Live, and 205 Live, the latter of which is cruiserweight-exclusive. As is tradition, the card will be highlighted by the 30-man Royal Rumble, in which the winner will earn a world championship match at WrestleMania 34 for their brand's top championship: Raw's Universal Championship or SmackDown's WWE Championship. The event will also host the first-ever 30-woman Royal Rumble, in which the winner will earn a women's championship match at WrestleMania 34 for their brand's top championship: the Raw Women's Championship or SmackDown Women's Championship. Should a free agent win either match, they would have a choice at which championship to challenge for.
After Survivor Series, several women from NXT were promoted to the main rosters of both Raw and SmackDown. On the November 20, 2017 episode of Raw, Paige, who had been out with an injury since June 2016, returned along with the debuts of NXT's Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, forming the heel group Absolution, while similarly on the November 21 episode of SmackDown, NXT's Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan debuted and formed the heel group The Riott Squad. On the December 18, 2017 episode of Raw, with a larger roster of women on the main rosters, Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon scheduled the first-ever women's Royal Rumble match for the 2018 Royal Rumble, with the winner receiving a match at WrestleMania 34 for their brand's top championship: the Raw Women's Championship or SmackDown Women's Championship. Both brands' respective commissioners and general managers agreed that the women's match would have all of the same rules as the men's match, including having 30 participants. Stephanie was announced to join the commentary team for the women's match, and television host Maria Menounos was announced to be the special guest ring announcer.
On the October 16, 2017 episode of Raw, Kane returned from a ten-month hiatus and helped Braun Strowman to defeat Roman Reigns in a steel cage match. Kane was then added to Strowman's team at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in the 5-on-3 handicap Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match. During the match, Strowman accidentally hit Kane with a chair, which caused Kane to later turn on him and crush him in the back of a garbage truck; their team ultimately lost. The two then feuded over the next several weeks, leading to a match on the December 11 episode to determine the number one contender against Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble, but the match ended in a double countout. Raw General Manager Kurt Angle then decided that Lesnar would defend the title against both Kane and Strowman in a triple threat match at the event. On the January 8 episode, Kane attacked Lesnar from behind, followed by an attack from Strowman. After laying Kane and Lesnar out backstage, Strowman knocked over a lighting rig and crushed both. Lesnar was taken to a medical facility while Kane refused medical attention. Due to his actions, Strowman was removed from the triple threat match and fired by Angle. Strowman went on a rampage backstage, including destroying Angle's office and flipping over a tractor. Before he could do anymore damage, Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon rehired Strowman, putting him back into the Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble.
At Clash of Champions, SmackDown's Commissioner Shane McMahon and General Manager Daniel Bryan both refereed a tag team match pitting Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn against Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura, where Owens and Zayn would have been fired from WWE had they lost. During the match, there was controversy between Shane and Bryan, which resulted in Bryan giving a fast count for Owens and Zayn to win. Tensions between Shane and Bryan continued over the next couple of weeks, culminating on the final SmackDown of 2017, when Bryan scheduled Owens to face WWE Champion AJ Styles in a non-title match in the main event, much to the disapproval of Shane, who felt that Owens should not be in the main event, or facing the WWE Champion. That match ended when Zayn interfered, allowing Owens to win. The next week, Zayn would also defeat Styles in a non-title match after interference from Owens. Enraged at back-to-back losses, Styles stated they might as well schedule him in a handicap match against Owens and Zayn, which Bryan took literally and scheduled for the Royal Rumble where Styles would also defend the WWE Championship against both men. On the January 9 episode of SmackDown, Styles said that although it was unfair, he was confident that he would win; Owens and Zayn interrupted and claimed that they would become the first-ever co-WWE Champions. On the final SmackDown before the Royal Rumble, Styles faced Owens and Zayn in back-to-back matches where Shane threatened that if one were to interfere in the other's match, that person would be fired. Styles managed to defeat Owens in the first match by submission, however, he would lose to Zayn in the second match.
On the December 18, 2017 episode of Raw, Seth Rollins' tag team partner Dean Ambrose was injured by Samoa Joe. The following week, despite both wanting to take on Joe to avenge Ambrose, Raw General Manager Kurt Angle instead had his (storyline) son, Jason Jordan, and Rollins team up to face Cesaro and Sheamus for the Raw Tag Team Championship; Jordan and Rollins defeated Cesaro and Sheamus to win the championship. After the former champions confronted Angle about their contractual rematch, Angle scheduled it for the Royal Rumble. On the January 15 episode, Jordan caused a distraction, allowing Titus Worldwide (Apollo Crews and Titus O'Neil) to again defeat Cesaro and Sheamus in a rematch from the previous week, which Rollins disapproved of as he did not like Jordan acting on his own. Cesaro and Sheamus would try and return the favor during Rollins' match against Finn Bálor, but it backfired, resulting in Rollins winning, and Cesaro and Sheamus brawling with Bálor Club members, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, at ringside. On Raw 25 the next week, Jordan and Rollins were the guests on Christian's The Peep Show, which Cesaro and Sheamus interrupted and the two teams brawled where Rollins accidentally hit Jordan with a knee attack that was intended for Cesaro.
At Clash of Champions, The Usos (Jey and Jimmy Uso) retained the SmackDown Tag Team Championship in a fatal-four-way match against Rusev and Aiden English, The New Day's Big E and Xavier Woods, and Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin. On the following episode of SmackDown, Gable and Benjamin defeated The Usos in a non-title match, and they were awarded with a championship match on the first SmackDown of 2018, where they defeated The Usos to initially win the titles after pinning Jimmy Uso; however, Jimmy was not the legal man, and thus the match was restarted and The Usos retained their championship. The following week, Gable and Benjamin confronted SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan over the incident. After questioning if they should have to defeat The Usos twice in the same night, Bryan decided that at the Royal Rumble, The Usos would defend the SmackDown Tag Team Championship against Gable and Benjamin in a two-out-of-three-falls match.
On January 26, three matches were announced for the Royal Rumble pre-show. For SmackDown, it was announced that United States Champion Bobby Roode would have an open challenge for the title. Two tag team matches were scheduled for Raw: a rematch between Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson and The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson) from Raw 25, and a six-man tag team match for the cruiserweight division with Kalisto, Gran Metalik, and Lince Dorado against Drew Gulak, TJP, and Gentleman Jack Gallagher.
Two other matches had been promoted for the event, but were later removed.
The first was the tournament final for SmackDown's then-vacant United States Championship. Originally scheduled for the PPV, the finals were instead contested on the January 16 episode of SmackDown, where Bobby Roode defeated Jinder Mahal to win the title.
The second was a championship match for the Raw brand where WWE Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Amore was scheduled to defend the title against Cedric Alexander. However, after Amore was suspended from WWE on January 22 due to allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault, the match was cancelled. Amore was released the next day and the title was vacated.
The Royal Rumble pre-show contained 3 matches.
The first match was a Six-man Tag Team Match among the cruiserweight division with the team of Kalisto, Gran Metalik, and Lince Dorado taking on the team of TJP, Gentleman Jack Galagher, and Drew Gulak. The face team of Kalitso, Metalik, and Dorado were victorious.
|Kalisto, Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik vs. TJP, Gentleman Jack Gallagher & Drew Gulak||Preview|
|Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. The Revival||Preview|
|Bobby Roode vs. TBA||Preview|
|AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn||Preview|
|The Usos vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin||Preview|
|30-man Royal Rumble match||Preview|
|Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan vs. Cesaro & Sheamus||Preview|
|Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane||Preview|
|30-woman Royal Rumble match||Preview|
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Pre-Show: Kalisto, Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik defeated TJP, Gentleman Jack Gallagher & Drew Gulak in a Six-man tag team match (13:20)
- AJ Styles (c) defeated Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn in a 2-on-1 Handicap match to retain the WWE Championship (15:55)
- The Usos (Jey & Jimmy Uso) (c) defeated Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin in a 2-out-of-3-falls match to retain the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship [2:0] (13:55)
- Shinsuke Nakamura won the 30-man Royal Rumble match for a world championship match at WrestleMania 34 (1:05:27)
- The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus) defeated Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan (c) to win the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship (12:49)
- Brock Lesnar (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) defeated Braun Strowman & Kane in a Triple Threat to retain the WWE Universal Title (10:59)
Royal Rumble entrances and eliminations (Men)
A new entrant came out approximately every 90 seconds.
Royal Rumble entrances and eliminations (Women)
A new entrant came out approximately every 90 seconds.
Other on-screen talent
- List of WWE pay-per-view events
- World Wrestling Entertainment/Event history
- Event gallery
- Royal Rumble
- Royal Rumble 2018 Official website
- Royal Rumble 2018 kickoff show on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2018 on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2018 (ES) on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2018 (HI) on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2018 (JA) on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2018 (ZH) on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2018 (PT) on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2018 (RU) on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2018 (FR) on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2018 (DE) on WWE Network
- Royal Rumble 2018 Kickoff show at CAGEMATCH.net
- Royal Rumble 2018 at CAGEMATCH.net
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