For the first time in months, I found myself incredibly excited for a WWE PPV. Then again, this is the Royal Rumble, and anything can happen. As this was the “Rumble for all”, the Women took centre stage as their momentous Royal Rumble match was the night’s main event. Deservedly so. There were surprise returns in both matches which, without understating it, were booked to perfection. Welcome to the most must-see Vulture Hound weekly review in history; welcome to… The SmackDown Review. The Royal Rumble Review!


The Cruiserweight’s opened proceedings with a 6 man tag match between the masked trio of Kalisto, Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik taking on Drew Gulak, Jack Gallagher and TJP. There was a really good moonsault spot from the three luchadors as they jumped in sync onto their opponents outside the ring. Ultimately, it would be the high-flying three that went on to win this first match.

The Revival exacted their revenge after jobbing out to the Kliq on Raw 25 by beating the Good Brothers, Gallows and Anderson, in tag team action.

Bobby Roode issued the first title defence of his United States Championship in an open challenge. Everyone was excited, anticipating a huge return. Would it be Dolph Ziggler? Or even MVP? Nope, it was Mojo Rawley. Roode won btw.

The full show, the whole show, and nothing but the show:

The first match of the main show proper saw AJ Styles defeat Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, where once again, the ending was shrouded in controversy. Styles countered a pop-up powerbomb into a roll-up on Owens to retain his Championship. Despite this, it appeared that Zayn was the legal man and hadn’t made contact with the tag to Owens. After the match, Owens and Zayn confronted Shane McMahon about the finish, claiming he couldn’t let another referee screw them out of the championship. When asked if he’d seen the finish, Shane simply smiled and replied with, “yep.” Touché!

The Usos defended their SmackDown tag team titles in 2-out-of-3 Falls Match against Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable. Interestingly, this one didn’t even make it to the third fall despite featuring an array of near-falls before the first one was even scored. The Usos first fall came when they hit a double superkick on Gable. The second fall was made when Jey Uso quickly rolled up Benjamin in a small package. It completely took the wind out of the sails and leaves us all wondering where do The World’s Greatest Tag Team American Alpha Gable and Benjamin go from here.

Men’s Royal Rumble:

Now, I won’t even attempt to do a play-by-play analysis of this match as there were so many little spots and moments to mention. Instead, take a look at some of the key talking points for this incredible Royal Rumble match.

– Rusev and Finn Bálor started the match at number 1 and 2 respectively.

– Surprise entrants included NXT Champion Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas, Sami Zayn (after Zayn and Owens attacked #10 entrant Tye Dillinger), (STAAAAAND BACK) The Hurricane, Adam Cole and Rey Mysterio. Dolph Ziggler also made his return in at number 30.

– The New Day was eliminated by Jinder Mahal… Apart from Kofi who this year avoided elimination due to a pancake being placed under his foot. Yep, you read that right. He jumped back in the ring and eliminated Jinder but was then thrown out Cien Almas.

– Bray Wyatt and Woken Matt Hardy were in the ring at the same time and teamed up to eliminate, or “delete”, Rusev before then eliminating each other and continued to brawl on the outside.

– When John Cena entered the ring all other participants ganged up on him.

– The final four was Shinsuke Nakamura, Finn Bálor, John Cena and Randy Orton.

– Cena eliminated Bálor to a chorus of boos but interesting to note that Bálor is this year’s iron-man, lasting a huge 57 minutes 30 seconds!

– Nakamura was able to eliminate Cena with a Kinshasa and eventually dispatched Roman Reigns to win the match.

– During a post-match interview, Nakamura announced that he’d be challenging AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.

Let’s take a breather:

– After being dumped out of the Rumble by his “friend” Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins had to team up with Jason Jordan to defend their Raw Tag Team championships against The Bar. Early on in the match, Jordan suffered an apparent (worked) injury that looked like a concussion from being thrown into the ring post. Rollins did amazingly well to fight The Bar on his own. At one point, he tagged in Jordan who made it to his feet but the latter immediately tagged back out, much to Rollins dismay. In the end, fatigue took its toll on poor Seth who was dressed in some weird flame pants not too dissimilar to something Bam Bam Bigelow would wear. Sheamus was able to connect with a Brogue Kick to win the match and claim the titles back.

– A clunker of a title match had Brock Lesnar defeat Braun Strowman and Kane in a Triple Threat match for the Universal Championship. Near the start of the match, Lesnar and Strowman were shooting on each other, which if you don’t know wrestling terminology sounds weird at best. Basically, Strowman kneed Lesnar too hard in the face so Brock replied by smashing the giant in the side of the head with a very stiff punch. After a number of table spots, Lesnar eventually hit Kane with an F-5 to retain his championship. Following the match, Strowman stood in the ring screaming “YOU DIDN’T BEAT ME” at Lesnar.

Women’s Royal Rumble:

Just like with the men’s match, the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble was booked to perfection. Here are the best bits.

– The first two in the ring were Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. The former ended up being in the ring for 54 minutes and 46 seconds, making her the second ever iron-lady (after Margaret Thatcher ofc).

– Surprise entrants included Lita, Kairi Sane, Torrie Wilson, Molly Holly (not dressed as Mighty Molly), Michelle McCool, Vickie Guerrero, Kelly Kelly, Jacqueline, Ember Moon, Beth Phoenix, the Bella Twins and Trish Stratus.

– Vickie Guerrero took out Carmella with her own Money in the Bank briefcase.

– Michelle McCool interestingly got the most eliminations with 5.

– Naomi avoided elimination in Kofi Kingston-like fashion. She jumped onto the barricade and walked along on to a chair where she then crawled on her hands with her feet still touching the chair and back into the ring. She then got thrown out by Nia Jax.

– Beth Phoenix squared off with Nia Jax and eventually lifted her onto her shoulders but it took Asuka, Bayley, Brie Bella, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Sasha Banks and Trish Stratus to all eliminate Nia in the end.

– After Nia was eliminated, Sasha Banks turned on Bayley and threw her out of the ring.

– The final four were Sasha Banks, Asuka and the Bellas.

– The Bella Twins teamed up to eliminate Banks, then Nikki betrayed Brie and forearmed her to the floor.

– Asuka was then able to kick Nikki off the apron to win the match and become the winner of the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match.

– When the match was over, Asuka was being interviewed in the ring about who she would face at WrestleMania. As she turned to Charlotte, ‘Bad Reputation’ by Joan Jett began to play and out came Ronda Rousey to make her debut in the WWE. She starred off with Asuka who refused to shake her hand and then and pointed at the WrestleMania sign (5 or 6 times) before eventually shaking hands with Stephanie McMahon.

A Historic Rumble For All:

The two emphatic rumble matches left me feeling the best I have felt about WWE in a very long time. New feuds have been set up as well as giving people from NXT a good showing without having to push them on to the main roster. Both rumbles were booked with intelligence throughout, from start to finish. The two men that came out the best from this were definitely Finn Bálor and Shinsuke Nakamura who are clearly been made to look like the company’s next two megastars. The same can be said for Asuka and Ronda Rousey as they will look to find their WrestleMania opponents whereas it seems certain that Bayley will be taking on Sasha Banks after the Boss betrayed her best friend. Time will tell if they can get it right from here until WrestleMania but they’ve certainly given themselves a great start in the process.

By Bradley Tiernan

"Wrestling is better than the things you like" - John Oliver