The Royal Rumble took place this past Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While only six matches made the main card for the four-hour show, the 31st installment of WWE’s January pay-per view will be forever remembered for the inaugural 30-woman Royal Rumble match as WWE continues to break new ground in what might come to be known as the “Women’s Revolution Era.”
While the undercard left something to be desired, the two namesake matches for the show did not disappoint, with the men’s match being one of the best Rumble matches WWE has booked in years.
AJ Styles (C) vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Together, Owens and Zayn had pinned Styles on SmackDown three times in the weeks leading up to their handicap WWE championship match Sunday night. Coupled with their on-going feud with SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon, shenanigans seemed obvious in this three-man dance. Owens and Zayn both laid the heel tactics on thick here with frequent tag outs and taking advantage of distracting the ref so the legal man could beat down the champion. The match was the best choice to get the crowd off to a hot start, even though these three great workers couldn’t build any momentum to take this bout from “good” to “great.” The presence of controversy on a “did he tag or didn’t he tag out” moment with Zayn and Owens shows that there’s still a little bit of fuel left in this feud as Wrestlemania begins to rise at the horizon.
Winner: AJ Styles Time: 15:55 Rating: 3 stars
The Usos (C) vs. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin
The Usos left 2017 as the undisputed tag team of the year in WWE, especially on SmackDown. They were able to revitalize their heel turn and turn themselves into charismatic trash-talkers on top of their stellar in-ring skills. Add in Gable and Benjamin and you have an opportunity to pull off a show-stealing match early in the night…except, they didn’t. While the match itself wasn’t bad, it was just oddly paced, especially with the only two falls of the match coming within minutes of each other. With the match ending with a two-fall victory for the Usos, it felt like there could have been more to say and do between these two talented teams. An underwhelming match that definitely could have been something better given the talent of the men in the ring.
Winner: The Usos Time: 13:55 Rating: 2 Stars