10 Biggest Shocks Of WWE Royal Rumble 2018

Beware of spoilers. Obviously.

[Fair warning: this article is absolutely loaded with spoilers. If you haven't yet watched the Royal Rumble (or NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia), be aware that results and surprises are mentioned extensively here.]

Okay, so. Has everybody caught their breath yet?

I think the vast majority of us would agree that the 2018 Royal Rumble was an excellent WWE pay per view - but the most characteristic aspect of the night maybe wasn't its quality, but rather its eventfulness. Lots of stuff happened - crowd-popping stuff - from shock returns to stunning match results. Even the order of the card caused a lot of debate and excitement online.

In stark contrast to the 2017 event, this one put the focus back where it should be - on the Rumble matches themselves. Randy Orton's victory last year was certainly a surprise, but it didn't capture the headlines in the way a Royal Rumble victory should. The biggest news was actually the Match of the Year contender between AJ Styles and John Cena, but the PPV's signature stipulation seemed to take a backseat.

This year's show reminded us how the Royal Rumble should be - a seismic event that revs everybody up for the road to WrestleMania. It was also a fantastic pay per view in its own right, and one which deserves to be looked back upon fondly.

Enough preamble. Let's dive into the incidents that made this PPV such an unforgettable one, from the good to the bad, to the downright shocking. Here are the 10 most surprising moments of the 2018 Royal Rumble.

10. The Women's Rumble Closes The Show


During the event, news broke on social media that the women's Royal Rumble would be closing the show. This had been theorised by many leading up to the PPV - but a lot of us were still caught off guard by the decision.

In hindsight, maybe it shouldn't have been that much of a shock - especially since Charlotte and Sasha Banks main-evented a main roster pay per view at Hell in a Cell 2016.

Still, it was tremendously exciting to see the women's Rumble not only treated with the same importance as the men's, but also handed the main event spot. Ultimately, it proved to be a win-win situation for WWE, as both Rumble matches were easily good enough to close the show.

9. Ronda Rousey Appears! (But Not In The Rumble Match)


I think most of us were convinced that Ronda Rousey would be showing up at the Royal Rumble - but perhaps not quite how she ultimately appeared.

The former UFC trailblazer didn't actually appear in the women's Rumble match itself, but rather waited until Asuka made history. This was a very wise decision, as we'd all fretted for weeks about Ronda taking the shine from WWE's current roster. Instead, by holding Rousey back until later, we've got a lot more intrigue heading into 'Mania season - and also the satisfaction of seeing a (very good) pro wrestler win the inaugural women's Rumble.

I've decided not to include Asuka's victory as one of the shocks of the night, as she was considered one of the frontrunners - although I didn't really feel confident in her winning until Trish Stratus came out at no. 30!

8. Nakamura Outlasts Reigns And Cena!


Alright, so maybe Nakamura winning the Royal Rumble wasn't the biggest shock in the world. I think most people had predicted either Shinsuke, Reigns, or Cena. However, the manner in which he won was a rollercoaster of tension and suspense - capping one of the most thrilling Rumbles in years (and possibly one of the best ever).

It's no secret that Nakamura's time on the main roster hasn't been quite as spellbinding as we'd have liked, reaching a nadir when he lost to Jinder Mahal in very straightforward fashion.

However, tonight could well be the beginning of a huge turning point. Not only did Shinsuke star in one of the best Rumble finishes ever (featuring an incredible final four of Nakamura, Cena, Reigns, and Balor), but he also knocked off WWE's two golden boys in the process.

Not only that, but he also challenged AJ Styles - hopefully giving us the WrestleMania match we've wanted since that staredown at Money in the Bank.

7. NXT Entrants Make An Impression


I'm a big fan of the NXT Champions entering Rumble matches. Andrade Almas and Ember Moon both got excellent reactions here, as did fellow surprise NXT entrants Adam Cole (baybay!) and Kairi Sane.

A special mention must be given to Almas for essentially competing in two Match of the Year candidates in consecutive nights. His TakeOver: Philadelphia match with Johnny Gargano is being touted as possibly the best NXT match of all time, and this Rumble felt excellent on every level - even if Andrade himself didn't play a role in the latter stages.

Ember Moon also had a great cameo, renewing her rivalry with Asuka and hitting a fantastic one-armed version of her finisher - all while selling the arm from her TakeOver defence against Shayna Baszler.

6. Sasha Eliminates Bayley


Sasha Banks was the ironwoman of the main event, and did so while appropriately clad in Wonder Woman-themed attire. However, her performance wasn't the most heroic in terms of babyface morals.

Despite holding on for much of the match without resorting to trickery, Banks turned to the dark side and eliminated best friend Bayley. It'll be very interesting to see how this plays out (hopefully a WrestleMania revamp of their NXT feud) - but it was also incredibly refreshing to see Sasha heeling it up again. She seems far more natural that way.

We should also probably talk about Roman Reigns eliminating Seth Rollins - although that one wasn't too much of a surprise, because WWE aren't even pretending to portray Roman as a Cena-esque good guy anymore. Probably for the best.

5. Rey Mysterio! (And The Hurricane)


I think the biggest surprise entrant in either Royal Rumble was Rey Mysterio, who was given a wonderful reception as he entered at no. 27. It certainly exorcised some demons for Rey fans, who would have hated seeing him booed at the 2014 Rumble, where he dared to enter at no. 30 and not be Daniel Bryan.

Mysterio actually played a key role here, making up part of the final six - which saw a past vs. present showdown between Cena, Orton, Rey, Nakamura, Reigns, and Balor.

Another big surprise was The Hurricane, although sadly he didn't last nearly as long. He managed to strike his signature pose a number of times though, which was quite nice.

While we're on the topic of surprise entrances, it was interesting to see Pete Dunne not entered in the Rumble. It was perhaps the sole weak point of an otherwise fantastically-booked match.

4. Trish! Lita! Molly Holly! 


The women's Rumble was always going to rely more heavily on surprise entrances, given the thinner nature of WWE's female roster - and it's fair to say that they were a decidedly mixed bag. Torrie Wilson and Kelly Kelly got nice nostalgia pops, but are hardly frontrunners in terms of the in-ring women's revolution.

Vickie Guerrero also didn't do too much in the ring, but that was never the point. She made the biggest impression as a heat magnet on SmackDown, and she did the same here - so fair play to her!

In terms of awesome surprises, though, the big names were out in force. Lita and Trish proved that charisma doesn't fade, while Beth Phoenix and Michelle McCool played key roles too. Molly Holly garnered perhaps the biggest surprise pop, and was rightly recognised as a crucial, underrated figure in the history of women's wrestling.

3. Naomi Goes All Kofi Kingston


From the moment Kofi Kingston entered the men's Rumble, we were all mainly waiting to see how he'd escape elimination. Although this year's feat wasn't the most athletically impressive, it was still an entertaining one, as Woods and Big E caught one of his feet and steadied it on a plate of pancakes - before vaulting him clean over the top rope and back into the ring.

However, while some sort of Kofi trickery may have been predictable, I'm not sure many of us counted on seeing it occur in the women's match! Naomi played the Kingston role to a tee, tiptoeing along the crowd barrier before crawling back to the ring with the help of Maria Menounos' ringside chair.

2. Gable And Jordan Lose Easily


Although hardly one of the key takeaways of the show, I still feel as though the result of the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match was a shocking one. The Usos won, which probably wasn't too surprising - but to do so with two straight falls (in a two-out-of-three falls bout!) seemed harsh on Gable and Benjamin.

I'm not against a 2-0 result in such matches on principle. I think it adds a degree of realism, especially as we're conditioned to expect either team to split the first two falls - but this probably wasn't the right place for it to happen.

Still, it was the better of the two tag matches on the main card - as the Raw competitors suffered from having to follow the excellent men's Royal Rumble.

1. The Quality Of The Show


Cena vs. Styles aside, the 2017 Royal Rumble wasn't the hardest show to follow - but I'm not sure many of us expected this year's instalment to be that good.

The men's Royal Rumble was, for me, not only Match of the Night - but maybe even a potential Match of the Year contender. That may be slightly over the top, and a result of my excitement in the immediate aftermath of the show, but it was certainly an excellent addition to Rumble history

The women's Rumble, although not quite as slick, was certainly a great bout as well - and a worthy inaugural edition. A strong case can be made to suggest that both winners were the right choices, and should set up some intriguing WrestleMania feuds.

Ultimately, despite TakeOver: Philadelphia blowing everybody away in terms of match quality, the Rumble didn't allow itself to be overshadowed - instead capping off a weekend WWE can be immensely proud of.

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Jack G. King

Written by Jack G. King

Head of News at Cultaholic.com | [email protected]