10) Dolph Ziggler Trolls Everyone, Gets Revenge on Drew McIntyre
Reaching near Chris Jericho levels of trolling, Dolph Ziggler conducted an interview 24 hours before the Royal Rumble claiming that he was “on hiatus” from WWE, flat out stating that he would not be appearing in the 30-Man bout this year. So of course, he showed up. Hopefully this means the Showoff is entering his sweet twilight years where he shows up when you least expect him, reinventing his career over and over again.
9) Asuka Scores Her Biggest Victory Yet
I was originally weary of Asuka winning the Smackdown Women’s Championship at WWE TLC last month, largely because it had to result in an inevitable collision with either Becky Lynch or Charlotte Flair at the Royal Rumble. Given how poorly the company has handled the Empress of Tomorrow since her loss at WrestleMania 34, the last thing she needed was an immediate loss.
Color me pleasantly surprised that not only did Asuka face Becky Lynch — the single hottest act in the company at the moment — but she did so clean in the middle of the ring, with a modified submission she doesn’t normally utilize, establishing her first ever title run in pretty much the best, most dominant way possible.
I saw some complaining online (what else is new?) about Becky losing given how popular she is, and how valuable she potentially is for WrestleMania. Some stated that she shouldn’t have been in the match to begin with, which I suppose you could make a valid case for. But the reality is, the match made Asuka look like the dominant champion she was always meant to be, and if the crowd reaction later on is any indication, it’s not like Lynch was hurt by the loss in any way, shape or form.
I would argue that this was Asuka’s biggest win so far in her WWE career. She defeated both Becky and Charlotte at TLC to win the title in the first place, but triple threat matches are hardly a fair or traditional environment and the victory was marred by outside interference from Ronda Rousey. The whole “undefeated” path of destruction through NXT was impressive, but she really never had an in-ring classic and the level of competition at the time was far inferior to what she has today.
8) Io Shirai Saves Her Pirate Princess
Kairi Sane and Io Shirai in a WWE Royal Rumble match? What a time to be alive…