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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.

Background

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.

Storylines

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.

Cancellations

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.

Event

Pre-show

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.

The second match was a Tag Team Match between The Revival and Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. The heel team of The Revival ended up victorious.

The final pre-show match was the United States Championship Open Challenge hosted by champion Bobby Roode. Mojo Rawley answered the challenge, but ended up losing the Roode, who retained his title.

Match Preview

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

Results

Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
(c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.

Royal Rumble entrances and eliminations (Men)

    Raw
    SmackDown
    205 Live
    NXT
     – Unassigned
     – Legend

A new entrant came out approximately every 90 seconds.

Entrant Eliminated by Time Eliminations
1 Rusev 12 Wyatt/Hardy 30:27 0
2 Finn Bálor 27 John Cena 57:38 4
3 Rhyno 1 Baron Corbin 2:12 0
4 Baron Corbin 2 Finn Bálor 0:54 1
5 Heath Slater 4 Bray Wyatt 0:34 1
6 Elias 15 John Cena 24:57 0
7 Andrade "Cien" Almas 18 Randy Orton 28:20 0
8 Bray Wyatt 14 Matt Hardy 20:00 1
9 Big E 8 Jinder Mahal 13:30 0
10 Sami Zayn 5 Shinsuke Nakamura 6:45 0
11 Sheamus 3 Heath Slater 00:02 0
12 Xavier Woods 7 Jinder Mahal 8:14 0
13 Apollo Crews 6 Cesaro 5:07 0
14 Shinsuke Nakamura - WINNER 44:25 3
15 Cesaro 9 Seth Rollins 4:59 1
16 Kofi Kingston 11 Andrade "Cien" Almas 5:24 1
17 Jinder Mahal 10 Kofi Kingston 3:32 2
18 Seth Rollins 22 Roman Reigns 20:15 2
19 "Woken" Matt Hardy 13 Bray Wyatt 1:02 1
20 John Cena 28 Shinsuke Nakamura 28:33 3
21 The Hurricane 16 John Cena 00:24 0
22 Aiden English 17 Finn Bálor 2:05 0
23 Adam Cole 19 Rey Mysterio 6:34 0
24 Randy Orton 25 Roman Reigns 13:34 1
25 Titus O'Neil 20 Roman Reigns 5:53 0
26 The Miz 21 Reigns/Rollins 0
27 Rey Mysterio 26 Finn Bálor 9:24 1
28 Roman Reigns 29 Shinsuke Nakamura 21:28 4
29 Goldust 23 Dolph Ziggler 2:22 0
30 Dolph Ziggler 24 Finn Bálor 1:35 1

Royal Rumble entrances and eliminations (Women)

    Raw
    SmackDown
    NXT
     – Unassigned
     – Legend

A new entrant came out approximately every 90 seconds.

Entrant Eliminated by Time Eliminations
1 Sasha Banks 27 N Bella/B Bella 54:46 1
2 Becky Lynch 14 Ruby Riott 30:54 2
3 Sarah Logan 7 Molly Holly 16:30 0
4 Mandy Rose 1 Lita 3:52 0
5 Lita 3 Becky Lynch 5:51 2
6 Kairi Sane 4 Dana Brooke 4:49 0
7 Tamina 2 Lita 1:34 0
8 Dana Brooke 5 Torrie Wilson 2:59 1
9 Torrie Wilson 6 Sonya Deville 3:04 1
10 Sonya Deville 8 Michelle McCool 6:41 1
11 Liv Morgan 9 Michelle McCool 5:12 0
12 Molly Holly 10 Michelle McCool 4:04 1
13 Lana 11 Michelle McCool 2:54 0
14 Michelle McCool 13 Natalya 8:38 5
15 Ruby Riott 17 Nia Jax 11:32 2
16 Vickie Guerrero 12 Banks/Lynch/McCool/Riott 00:57 0
17 Carmella 21 Nikki Bella 18:45 0
18 Natalya 25 Trish Stratus 25:34 2
19 Kelly Kelly 16 Nia Jax 5:02 0
20 Naomi 19 Nia Jax 6:49 0
21 Jacqueline 15 Nia Jax 1:52 0
22 Nia Jax 23 Banks/Natalya/Asuka/N Bella/
B Bella/Bayley/Stratus
17:56 4
23 Ember Moon 20 Asuka 6:14 0
24 Beth Phoenix 19 Natalya 2:22 0
25 Asuka - WINNER 19:41 3
26 Mickie James 22 Trish Stratus 8:24 0
27 Nikki Bella 29 Asuka 16:30 4
28 Brie Bella 28 Nikki Bella 11:58 2
29 Bayley 24 Sasha Banks 5:04 1
30 Trish Stratus 26 Sasha Banks 5:36 3

Other on-screen talent

Commentators
Interviewers
Ring announcer
Pre-show Panel
Referees

See also

DVD release

External links

Royal Rumble 2018 previews

Royal Rumble matchWoman's Royal Rumble matchBrock Lesnar v Braun Strowman v KaneAJ Styles v Kevin Owens & Sami ZaynBobby Roode v TBASix-Man Tag Team MatchLuke Gallows & Karl Anderson v The RevivalSeth Rollins & Jason Jordan v Cesaro & SheamusThe Usos v Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin

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2018 World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-views

NXT TakeOver: PhiladelphiaRoyal RumbleElimination ChamberFastlaneNXT TakeOver: New OrleansWrestleManiaGreatest Royal RumbleBacklashNXT TakeOver: Chicago IIMoney in the BankExtreme RulesNXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IVSummerSlamHell in a CellSuper Show-DownEvolutionCrown JewelNXT TakeOver: WarGames IISurvivor SeriesTLC: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs