WWE Royal Rumble (2/2)
Live from Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona!
Heading to the back, Charlotte Flair was stood by, as the commentators spoke in a concerned tone about the injury she sustained earlier. Charlotte had however requested the time to address those reports, vowing that she was 100% ready to face The Bella Twins.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships Match
Up against two popular Smackdown Superstars, Arizona’s own Bella Twins looked to score a huge win, with the obvious weakness being Charlotte’s injury from earlier in the night. As to be expected by anybody competing to two matches in one night, Charlotte was encouraged to sit back early on, with Asuka taking on much of the early goings of the match. This didn’t work well against the well-oiled Bella Twins, who used quick tags to try and slow down the hard-hitting Asuka. Eventually, Asuka brought Charlotte into the match, and the dual Champion proved herself to be capable, even if she didn’t appear to be at her very best. The powerful Nikki Bella eventually took advantage of Charlotte’s fatigue, with Brie Bella helping keep Flair away from her opponents. While The Bella Twins weren’t breaking any rules, it was clear that they were willing to do anything to win.
Having successfully isolated Charlotte Flair, while focussing almost entirely on the injured arm, the second generation Superstar suffered for a while, before she was able to reach her partner. Fighting off Brie Bella, Flair managed to bring Asuka in. This turned the match around, as the former NXT Women’s Champion dominated Brie Bella. Nikki didn’t fare much better, but her persistence eventually put the momentum back with The Bellas. Asuka began to struggle with Brie and Nikki, and looked to the corner to Charlotte. While Flair made it clear she was willing, Asuka made the judgement call that she was in too much pain. This proved to be a mistake, as Asuka turned into a Forearm from Nikki Bella. Lifting Asuka up, Nikki Bella was quickly able to hit the Rack Attack 2.0, picking up a huge shock victory by pinning Asuka.
The Bella Twins bt. Asuka & Charlotte (c); NEW WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions!
Following the match, The Bella Twins celebrated becoming the second ever Tag Team Champions, while the commentators put over the upset victory. They made it clear that Charlotte’s double duty was a key factor in the match going the way it did, as Asuka remained in the ring after the match. Charlotte joined Asuka in the ring, as The Bellas headed up the ramp, with the Japanese Superstar clearly taking the rare loss much worse. This was probably made all the more jarring by the fact that the woman comforting her had the Smackdown Women’s Championships over her shoulder.
After a look at what was yet to come, the commentators took a look back at the month of Braun Strowman. Since losing the WWE Universal Champion, Strowman has been on a rampage. Starting with the hospitalisation of Drake Maverick, Strowman’s path of destruction has seen multiple vehicles destroyed, and led his arrest. There was also a professional punishment handed out by the WWE, as it was confirmed that Braun Strowman would neither receive his rematch, nor would he be allowed to enter the Royal Rumble. Essentially blocked from the Universal Championship until after WrestleMania, Brock Lesnar became the target for Braun Strowman. Having not been seen since the night after SummerSlam, attempts to call out the former UFC Champion had thus far proved unsuccessful. Braun Strowman decided to take his pursuit to the next level, officially calling out Brock Lesnar to respond at the Royal Rumble.
Making his entrance, Braun Strowman clearly had one thing on his mind. As the commentator put over that even Paul Heyman hadn’t spoke to Lesnar recently, the tone suggested that there was little chance of Brock Lesnar appearing at all.
Braun Strowman wasn’t put off by this, and looked to appeal to the professional pride of Brock Lesnar. Strowman said that he knows that Brock Lesnar threw a tantrum and walked out of contract talks with Vince McMahon after what happened at SummerSlam, but that was months ago. Braun called on Brock to come and “prove himself” against the guy who took his title from him, saying that 500 days with the Championship was one thing, but he knows how it feels like an eternity as soon as you don’t have it!
Strowman continually tried to goad Brock Lesnar out, asking him if he is happy with the abiding memory of him being the guy in the background as Braun became the WWE Universal Champion. He added that the last time anybody saw Lesnar, he had just taken Kurt Angle out with an F-5. But what everybody remembers is Braun Strowman putting him through a Table on his way to ending his reign. Strowman was trying to get under the skin of Lesnar, but could see it wasn’t working, and accepted that Brock wasn’t in the building. Strowman then asked for anything, just one sign… even if it’s just on the big screen, or a call to the General Manager. He just wanted to hear something so he could confirm that Brock Lesnar is nothing more than a cowardly, primadona, who knows he couldn’t survive one on one with “The Monster Amongst Men”! Braun once again said “come on Brock… show the WWE Universe who you really are!”
When Braun said that, he did receive a response, but it certainly wasn’t from who he expected. Coming out from the back, in what was more or less a full body cast, Drake Maverick returned.
Maverick hadn’t been seen since Braun Strowman put him in a hospital, and the look on Braun’s face said that he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. Drake said that he isn’t here with news about Brock Lesnar, but he was going to put a stop to “this”. Grimacing as he spoke, Drake said that Braun Strowman’s punishment wasn’t just about the Universal Championship, or keeping him out of the Royal Rumble. The punishment was about teaching a lesson to Braun Strowman, that you can’t use force to get what you want. Braun wondered why, pointing out it was what had got him this far. Maverick said Strowman didn’t understand.
As “Advisor to the General Manager”, Drake tried to get through to Kurt Angle, but it didn’t work. Maverick revealed he was the one who spoke to Stephanie McMahon, and he is the reason Braun Strowman won’t have a Universal Championship rematch. Strowman was furious, and looked ready to attack Maverick again. From the top of the ramp, Maverick told Strowman that he would want to hear him out! Drake added that the punishment clearly had not taught him anything, but if Braun thinks he will be in another high profile match at WrestleMania, he’s got another thing coming. The WWE may have done everything short of firing Braun Strowman, but there was still more to be done. Fired up, Drake Maverick demanded Braun Strowman looked him in the eye, as he delivered his final message:
”Braun Strowman… you tried to kill me! And if you think that you’re just going to walk into WrestleMania, you’ve got another thing coming. You might bring me down again, Mr. Strowman… but believe you me… you’re going down with me!”
Drake Maverick then hobbled away on his crutches, leaving Braun Strowman to take in what he had just said. Strowman was clearly ready for whatever Maverick had planned, as the commentators turned attention towards the WWE Championship match, next.
Daniel Bryan’s first Championship opportunity since his return to the ring, a video package before the match put over the journey of the former Smackdown General Manager, who returned to the ring 9 months ago. His opponent was the dominant Samoa Joe, a friend of Daniel Bryan, and a man who respects the work he has put in. However, Samoa Joe is also a Champion who will do anything to keep his Championship. This showed going into the match, and Joe held nothing back with his usual ultra-physical style. Daniel Bryan is of course no stranger to this, and for large portions of the match he equalled the intensity of Samoa Joe. Both men had chances the win the contest, but in the end it came down to the competitors ability to take punishment.
Samoa Joe was aware of Bryan’s weaknesses, and was not going to let his friendship stop him from exploiting them. This came to a head after Joe escaped a “YES” Lock, and managed to duck a follow up kick from Bryan. Pushing his opponent into the turnbuckle, Samoa Joe caused further damage to the neck of Daniel Bryan, and it was clear the challenger was struggling. Joe looked to put Bryan out of his misery, but quitting has never been an option for him. This left the referee in a difficult position, as it became clear that Bryan stood little chance of escaping from the Coquina Clutch.
As Daniel Bryan faded, the pained look on his face began to be less animated, as he clearly came close to slipping out of consciousness. Joe was aware of this, and called on the referee to take action. Checking on Bryan, and receiving a less than satisfactory response, the referee had no choice but to call for the bell.
Samoa Joe (c) bt. Daniel Bryan (via referee stoppage)
As soon as the bell rang, Samoa Joe released the hold, leaving Bryan to slump to the mat. Samoa Joe was handed the WWE Championship quickly, as the referee turned his attention to Daniel Bryan. The challenger was no conscious, but clearly had been in no state to continue competing. Samoa Joe gave Bryan a look as he went by, but otherwise was focussed solely on his victory. While Joe could have been accused of showing little mercy to his opponent, the nature of his victory was 100% fair, and Bryan could have no complaints. Byron Saxton questioned Samoa Joe’s attitude, but was quickly shut down by Corey Graves.
Following the fallout of the WWE Championship match, and promotion for upcoming WWE events, the focus turned to the Main Event - the Women’s Royal Rumble match. A video package looked back at last year’s event, which featured the first ever all-female Royal Rumble. While Asuka took the victory, with an extremely impressive performance, it was the arrival of Ronda Rousey which stole the show. Exactly one year after her first appearance as a member of the WWE roster, Ronda Rousey will look to win the Royal Rumble… and finally get her hands on Shayna Baszler at WrestleMania.
Women’s Royal Rumble Match
Main Eventing the Royal Rumble for the second year running, the Women’s Rumble match opened with the usual introductions from the ring announcer. Going into the match, the story of Ronda Rousey had been heavily promoted, but the commentators made it clear that 29 other women were looking for their chance to secure a title shot at WrestleMania.
Coming to the ring with her IIconics partner, Peyton Royce left Billie Kay at the top of the ramp. Royce then walked to the ring with a smile on her face, talking to the WWE Universe. She said that she may have drawn the first spot in the Royal Rumble, but she’s still happy. That’s because she knows what’s coming next, promising that this Royal Rumble would be… iconic!
Entrant #2: Alexa Bliss
One of the most prolific Superstars in the match, Alexa Bliss was handed a tough draw. Lately she has been dealing with torn emotions, but stood shoulder to shoulder with Ronda Rousey as recently as Monday on Raw. Bliss made it clear that her standing with Ronda, against The Riott Squad, changed nothing between them. She has also vowed that she would watch nobody#s back at the Royal Rumble, despite a coalition being formed between The Riott Squad, Sasha Banks, Alicia Fox and Dana Brooke. Testing the theory that the Royal Rumble is every woman for herself, the third entrant had a clear allegiance.
(Joining Peyton Royce and Alexa Bliss)
Billie Kay’s entrance came at the right time for Peyton Royce, who had found herself struggling to stay in the ring. Kay went straight for Alexa, and allowed control to return to The IIconics. As they set out about eliminating Bliss from the match, The IIconics couldn’t have expect the woman who would appear next.
(Joining Peyton Royce, Alexa Bliss and Billie Kay)
Making her WWE return, Victoria was a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble, and in effect saved Alexa from elimination. The two women then got the better of The IIconics, with the smile on Bliss’ face making it clear she was in the ring with a competitor she had great respect for. The two of them came close to eliminating the IIconics, but the Australian duo found their way to hold on.
Entrant #5: Dana Brooke
(Joining Peyton Royce, Alexa Bliss, Billie Kay and Victoria)
Having agreed to work with Sasha Banks and The Riott Squad, Dana Brooke looked a little lost as she entered the ring, with none of her cohorts around to help her. She looked to pick off Victoria, expecting the out-of-practise Superstar to be ripe for the picking. Dana Brooke was wrong, and moments after she had entered the match, she became the first woman to be eliminated, exiting at the hands of Victoria.
Elimination #1: Dana Brooke has been eliminated!
(Joining Peyton Royce, Alexa Bliss, Billie Kay and Victoria)
Making her in-ring WWE debut, Zelina Vega looked to launch her career above even her associate Andrade “Cien” Almas’, as she attempted to win the Royal Rumble. Compared to Rey Mysterio, due to her small stature, Vega impressed in her first moments as an in-ring performer in the WWE, taking down Victoria with a Dropkick, and taking Bliss down with a Flying Crossbody. The IIconics looked to pick her off, but Zelina grabbed hold of the ropes, clinging on for dear life.
Entrant #7: Natalya
(Joining Peyton Royce, Alexa Bliss, Billie Kay, Victoria and Zelina Vega)
As the ring began to fill up, the experienced Natalya entered the ring, immediately facing off against Victoria. The IIconics took advantage of this, and were able to take the two of them down. Zelina Vega continued to struggle, as she faced the other shortest member of the women’s roster, Alexa Bliss. As this went on, The IIconics were able to eliminate Victoria, catching her off-guard.
Elimination #2: Victoria has been eliminated!
After taking Natalya down, Kay & Royce turned to Victoria as she exited, making fun of the veteran Superstar.
(Joining Peyton Royce, Alexa Bliss, Billie Kay, Zelina Vega and Natalya)
Making her way to the ring, Kairi Sane was stopped by Victoria, who encouraged her to go get The IIconics. The long-term NXT Women’s Champion was more than happy to do this, and went after her fellow NXT alumni. Sane was put over as a future star of the Raw or Smackdown rosters, and showed it very quickly. Before long, she eliminated Zelina Vega from the match, sending her to the back.
Elimination #3: Zelina Vega has been eliminated!
(Joining Peyton Royce, Alexa Bliss, Billie Kay, Natalya and Kairi Sane)
Out next was Sonya Deville, who since turning to singles competition has struggled to gain much momentum on Smackdown Live. Coming into the match, she went right after Alexa Bliss, getting physical with arguably the biggest star in the match thus far. Taking down the second entrant in the match was a good idea however, and Deville had an impressive start to the Rumble.
Entrant #10: Sasha Banks
(Joining Peyton Royce, Alexa Bliss, Billie Kay, Natalya, Kairi Sane and Sonya Deville)
Another potential favourite, Sasha Banks entered the match before any member of The Riott Squad, and this meant she had to look to form other alliances. This worked temporarily with The IIconics, but the resistance from Alexa, Natalya and Sane ensured that they were unable to dominate. Deville looked to side with Banks also, but the alliance became split with the next entrant.
(Joining Peyton Royce, Alexa Bliss, Billie Kay, Natalya, Kairi Sane, Sonya Deville and Sasha Banks)
Having won a battle royal in tainted fashion, Carmella was stripped of her earned right to enter in Smackdown’s last position in the Royal Rumble by Paige.
Long-term associate of The IIconics, Carmella and the two Australians worked together, ignoring the previous alliance with Sasha Banks. This annoyed Banks, and as she argued with Carmella, The IIconics were caught cold. Alexa Bliss grabbed Billie Kay, while Kairi Sane took hold of Peyton Royce. Throwing them over the top rope at the same time, Carmella’s plan for dominance had just been destroyed.
Eliminations #4 & #5: Billie Kay and Peyton Royce have been eliminated!
Entrant #12: Nia Jax
(Joining Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Kairi Sane, Sonya Deville, Sasha Banks and Carmella)
One of the Royal Rumble favourites, it didn’t take long for Nia Jax to make her presence know, taking everybody in the ring down with headbutts and strikes. Coming face to face with Alexa Bliss, the long-term rivals and former friends squared off. Nia was able to take Alexa down, but was quickly set upon by the other women in the match. While Jax managed to hold on, it was clear she was the number one target in the ring.
Entrant #13: Alicia Fox
(Joining Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Kairi Sane, Sonya Deville, Sasha Banks, Carmella and Nia Jax)
Coming in next, Alicia went straight over to Sasha Banks, and the two women looked to work together, focussing on Alexa Bliss initially. They then went after Kairi Sane, but the NXT Women’s Champion managed to stay in the match. Over on the other side of the ring, Nia Jax scored her first elimination, lifting Sonya Deville above her head and dumping her to the outside.
Sonya Deville has been eliminated!
(Joining Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Kairi Sane, Sasha Banks, Carmella, Nia Jax and Alicia Fox)
Making a return to a WWE, Maria Kanellis entered for her first WWE match since 2010. She was straight into the action, having most recently been seen managing her husband Mike Kanellis on “WCW Universe” on the WWE Network. The commentators put over comments that Maria had recently made about various members of the roster, and it appeared these issues spilled into an argument with Natalya when she entered the ring.
(Joining Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Kairi Sane, Sasha Banks, Carmella, Nia Jax, Alicia Fox and Maria Kanellis)
While Sasha Banks and Alicia Fox hadn’t had much luck going after Nia Jax, Kaitlyn wasn’t put off from trying to take out the biggest competitor in the match. Not used to being the less powerful Superstar, Kaitlyn took the fight to Nia Jax, but came out unsuccessful. Elsewhere, Alexa Bliss was targeted by Sasha Banks and Alicia Fox, but managed to get Alicia over the top rope. Fox was on the apron, and while Bliss continued to struggle with Banks, Natalya was over to hit the forearm that eliminated Alicia from the match.
Elimination #7: Alicia Fox has been eliminated!
(Joining Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Kairi Sane, Sasha Banks, Carmella, Nia Jax, Maria Kanellis and Kaitlyn)
Having scored a win over Becky Lynch towards the end of the year, Mandy Rose’s stature within the Smackdown Women’s roster had grown recently. She made little impact as she entered the Royal Rumble match, and went under the radar. Possibly for the best, with so many impressive Superstars in the ring. Giving a good showing for the NXT Women, Kairi Sane was eliminated, having been snatched out of midair while trying to take down Nia Jax.
Elimination #8: Kairi Sane has been eliminated!
Entrant #17: Ember Moon
(Joining Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Sasha Banks, Carmella, Nia Jax, Maria Kanellis, Kaitlyn and Mandy Rose)
Having returned to Raw a couple of weeks ago, Ember Moon pushed herself straight into contention talk, as she took down the Raw Women’s Champion with an Eclipse. The first time anybody had took down Shayna Baszler, and kept her down, since her Raw debut, Ember Moon proved herself capable of upsetting the Champion. It was Maria Kanellis who she was upsetting in this case however, as she was quickly eliminated after Moon’s arrival.
Elimination #9: Maria Kanellis has been eliminated!
(Joining Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Sasha Banks, Carmella, Nia Jax, Kaitlyn, Mandy Rose and Ember Moon)
Lana looked to go one better than her husband had earlier, with Rusev having one of the star performances of the evening before being taken out by Sanity. Lana came into the match looking for a quick elimination, but this didn’t materialise.
(Joining Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Sasha Banks, Carmella, Nia Jax, Kaitlyn, Mandy Rose, Ember Moon and Lana)
Having a much quicker impact, the wildcard of NXT’s Nikki Cross shook the Royal Rumble up dramatically. First going face to face with Lana, perhaps given her history with Sanity back in NXT, Cross took Lana down, before moving on to other competitors in the match. Cross’ early momentum managed to pay dividends, as she picked up a huge elimination, throwing the veteran Nayalta over the top rope following a back and forth between the two.
Elimination #10: Natalya has been eliminated!
Nikki Cross then strangely appeared to help Alexa Bliss, fighting off Sasha Banks and Carmella, who had Bliss on the edge of elimination. Alongside Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks had been in the ring for quite a while. Having competed twice as long as anyone else so far, the bizarre alliance with Nikki Cross came at the perfect time for “The Goddess”.
(Joining Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Carmella, Nia Jax, Kaitlyn, Mandy Rose, Ember Moon, Lana and Nikki Cross)
Entering the match at 20, Bayley had just one thing on her mind once she entered the ring. Going straight after Sasha Banks, Bayley was almost eliminated immediately. Her focus on Banks continued to cloud her, and she didn’t seem interested in the Royal Rumble itself. As this went on, Nia Jax managed to eliminate another two Superstars, getting rid of Mandy Rose and Lana fairly easily.
Elimination #11 & #12: Mandy Rose and Lana have been eliminated!
Entrant #21: Liv Morgan
(Joining Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Carmella, Nia Jax, Kaitlyn, Ember Moon, Nikki Cross and Bayley)
Liv Morgan was equally as single minded as Bayley, but took a more intelligent approach. Before she even entered the match, Liv Morgan went round to the side of the ring where Carmella and Sasha Banks were trying to eliminate Alexa Bliss. Grabbing Bliss, as she fought the two women off, Morgan allowed Sasha Banks to throw Alexa Bliss out of the match.
Elimination #13: Alexa Bliss has been eliminated!
While Banks’ alliance with Dana Brooke and Alicia Fox failed quickly, her association with The Riott Squad paid off just as fast. Having eliminated the woman who would almost certainly hold the record for being in the match the longest, Banks and Morgan (and Carmella, who they’d picked up along the way), focussed on other competitors in the match. Ember Moon was next in their line of sight, but the Raw Superstar managed to stay in the match.
Entrant #22: Mickie James
(Joining Sasha Banks, Carmella, Nia Jax, Kaitlyn, Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, Bayley and Liv Morgan)
Another veteran, Mickie James smartly looked to help Bayley from elimination, knowing that Sasha Banks and co. would be all the more dangerous with less competitors in the ring. This stopped Bayley being eliminated, but Kaitlyn on the other side was taken out after a clothesline from the impressive Nia Jax.
Elimination #14: Kaitlyn has been eliminated!
(Joining Sasha Banks, Carmella, Nia Jax, Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, Bayley, Liv Morgan and Mickie James)
Another former Divas Champion returning to the ring, Maryse was the 23rd entrant in the match. Her entrance had little fanfare, and the next couple of minutes of the match were fairly quiet. The next entrant changed this dramatically.
Entrant #24: Ronda Rousey
(Joining Sasha Banks, Carmella, Nia Jax, Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, Bayley, Liv Morgan, Mickie James and Maryse)
When Ronda Rousey made her entrance, everybody turned their attention towards the ramp. When she entered the ring, Ronda Rousey showed why she is “The Baddest Woman on The Planet”. Taking down everybody in her path, Rousey wasted no time looking to eliminate Superstars. Her first victim was Maryse, who she threw out of the ring with little resistance.
Elimination #15: Maryse has been eliminated!
Rousey then looked at the trio of Carmella, Liv Morgan and Sasha Banks, telling them to bring it on. Liv Morgan ran at Ronda, but was thrown out of the ring. Soon after Carmella was out at the hands of Ember Moon, who took her out as the former Smackdown Women’s Champion and Banks looked to go after her.
Elimination #16 & #17: Liv Morgan and Carmella have been eliminated!
The group of Superstars who had planned on getting rid of Ronda Rousey had diminished, and Sasha Banks decided to lay low for a while, with Sarah Logan and Ruby Riott yet to enter. Bayley would then go after Rousey, but was taken down easily. Rounding off an elimination heavy two minutes, Sasha Banks took advantage of this, eliminating Bayley.
Elimination #18: Bayley has been eliminated!
With the field thinned out, Ronda Rousey stood tall in the ring. Seemingly ready for whoever was coming, Ronda Rousey could not have expected the next entrant in the match.
(Joining Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, Mickie James and Ronda Rousey)
Put over as a cast member of GLOW, the commentators mentioned Kharma’s history in the WWE, one of the most dominant Women’s wrestlers in the history of the business. She went face to face with Ronda Rousey, and looked to intimidate the former UFC Champion. Looking down on Ronda, Kharma looked ready to test herself, having been retired for several years. Before Kharma could get into it with Ronda Rousey, she was grabbed by Nia Jax, the only woman who could match up to her physical stature. As the two women went back and forth in the middle of the ring, Mickie James was eliminated by Nikki Cross.
Elimination #19: Mickie James has been eliminated!
Nikki Cross continued to impress, going after Ember Moon. Showing a more aggressive style, Cross was the one to eventually come between Nia Jax and Kharma, jumping on Jax’s back and locking in a Sleeper Hold.
Entrant #26: Sarah Logan
(Joining Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, Ronda Rousey and Kharma)
Her only ally in the ring, Sarah Logan looked to save Sasha Banks from elimination, and was able to, taking down Ember Moon. Sasha Banks was clearly struggling, having been in the match for so long, but had a new lease on life, thanks to Logan’s arrival. This didn’t last too long however, and Logan looked to recruit Nikki Cross. Unfortunately, an attempt to control Nikki Cross was never likely to work.
(Joining Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, Ronda Rousey, Kharma and Sarah Logan)
As Naomi came down to the ring, Kharma and Nia Jax continued their heated exchanges, with the two of them jostling to throw each other out. Noting that the two women were teetering, Ronda Rousey went over and eliminated both women from the match, one after the other.
Eliminations #20 & #21: Kharma & Nia Jax have been eliminated!
The two women couldn’t believe it, and continued to argue outside the ring. Ronda Rousey had a lot taken out of her when throwing out the two competitors, and fell back in the ring. The commentators put over the huge eliminations, saying that the two biggest threats in the match had just been taken out. Sarah Logan looked to take advantage of the huge physical feat Ronda had just exerted, but was taken down by Ember Moon.
Nikki Cross thought she had eliminated Naomi almost as soon as the Smackdown Live Superstar had arrived, but she was caught by the arguing Nia Jax and Kharma, who saw her incoming at the last moment. The two women had no idea what to do with her, as referees continued to try and convince them to leave. Nia and Kharma simply discarded of Naomi, with the former Women’s Champion ending up back on the apron. Having escaped elimination, the returning Naomi dropped Nikki Cross with a Rear View!
Entrant #28: Ruby Riott
(Joining Sasha Banks, Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, Ronda Rousey, Sarah Logan and Naomi)
Expected in one of the remaining spots, Ruby Riott came out next, joining her Squad teammate Sarah Logan, and the woman she had made a pre-match pact with, Sasha Banks. The three came together strongly in this part of the match, and took down Ember Moon. While they couldn’t eliminate her or Naomi, they were out of the way. This allowed Riott, Logan and Banks to focus on Ronda Rousey. Rousey fought them off well, but eventually the 3-on-1 got the better of her. Rousey looked a certainty to be eliminated, until Ember Moon came off the top rope, taking The Squad and Banks (and Rousey) down to the mat. Realising the threat of Banks, Logan and Riott, Ember didn’t want to face them alone.
Nikki Cross continued her interest in Naomi on the other side of the ring, as the 29th entrant made her way to the ring.
(Joining Sasha Banks, Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, Ronda Rousey, Sarah Logan, Naomi and Ruby Riott)
Perhaps an underwhelming entrant, so close to the end, Tamina was another of the Superstars who went straight for Ronda Rousey when entering the ring. A clear pattern since after Ronda’s entrance, each competitor (Naomi aside) had gone straight for Rousey. This time it didn’t work out well for Tamina, as she scooped Ronda off the mat. Within moments, the second generation star was out of the match, the quickest elimination of the Royal Rumble so far. Tamina also became another statistic on Ronda’s impressive list of eliminations.
Elimination #22: Tamina has been eliminated!
With Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Sasha Banks controlling the few other women in the match, something strange happened as the numbers rolled down for the 30th entrant. Making a clear “line in the sand”, the three women didn’t approach Ronda Rousey. Instead they formed a line, as the countdown reached zero.
Ronda Rousey had been confused, but when the 30th entrant was revealed, it seemed all too obvious to “The Baddest Woman on The Planet”.
(Joining Sasha Banks, Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, Ronda Rousey, Sarah Logan, Naomi and Ruby Riott)
The surprise final entrant, Stephanie McMahon came down to the ring with a smirk on her face. When she entered the ring, she was guarded by Banks, Logan and Ruby Riott. Ronda Rousey was now in a four-on-one situation, and the other Superstars in the match were all down on the mat. Stephanie McMahon looked to send her women forward, but Naomi stood up and joined Ronda Rousey. Ember Moon was the next to return to her feet, and stood side by side with Rousey and Naomi. It was now 4-on-3, and the numbers were still in the favour of Stephanie McMahon.
The 8th woman still in the match was Nikki Cross, the NXT alumni who found herself between the two groups. However, on the order of Stephanie McMahon, Cross joined her side, meaning that Rousey, Moon and Naomi now had to deal with 5 Superstars across from them.
Stephanie McMahon’s plan was in full effect, and as she sent Sarah Logan and Ruby Riott forward, Naomi and Ember Moon responded. The two women brawled, with Sasha Banks and Nikki Cross being sent in by Stephanie McMahon. Sasha Banks went towards Ronda Rousey, and was taken down, while Cross stood doing nothing. Furious, the boss got in Nikki Cross’ face, telling her to get Ronda “right now!”
Instead of following orders, the unhinged Nikki Cross just laughed in the face of Stephanie McMahon. The commentators were shocked by the NXT Superstars disobedience, as Cross walked towards the middle of the ring, taking a spectator's role as Stephanie McMahon was left to face Ronda Rousey alone. With no interest in revisiting her previous interactions with Rousey, Stephanie McMahon rolled out of the ring, putting her hands up. Sasha Banks then came at Ronda Rousey from behind, taking her down. This allowed Sasha Banks to assist Sarah Logan with Naomi, before the two of them joined Ruby Riott in eliminating Ember Moon.
Elimination #23: Ember Moon has been eliminated!
Naomi was the next focus on attention, but Ronda Rousey came back in time to help her fend off the trio. It was then Nikki Cross who secured the next elimination, launching Sarah Logan out of the ring. Cross perhaps came in too strong, and was helped over the top rope immediately after by Ruby Riott. This left four competitors in the ring.
Eliminations #24 & #25: Sarah Logan and Nikki Cross have been eliminated!
It was now two-on-two, one made up of the pre-match favourites from Smackdown and Raw, the other made up of two woman who could barely be any different. The four women faced off, and by far the most fatigued, Sasha Banks simply looked to avoid contact from anybody. Now outlasting Alexa Bliss as the “Iron Woman” of the match, Banks was in trouble as Rousey caught her in the corner. Banks had little defence, and fell to the mat following a flurry from Ronda. On the other side of the ring, The Riott Squad had one more trick left up their sleeve, as Sarah Logan (who had been eliminated) helped Ruby Riott to eliminate Naomi.
Elimination #26: Naomi has been eliminated!
Still watching on the outside, Stephanie McMahon was delighted to see Sasha Banks and Ruby Riott left in the match. Ronda Rousey turned her attention to Ruby Riott, but was taken down from behind again by Sasha Banks. The two women then laid into Ronda Rousey, lifting her off the mat and looking to eliminate the overwhelming favourite. The commentators put over that Rousey really didn’t look like the favourite at that moment. However, Rousey had fight left in her, and she fought off the two McMahon stooges, sending Riott on to the apron. Sasha Banks then came at Rousey again, but the former MMA star dodged, sending Sasha Banks into Ruby Riott. Riott fell to the floor, leaving Ronda Rousey with just Sasha Banks to deal with.
Elimination #27: Ruby Riott has been eliminated!
The clash with Ruby Riott disorientated Sasha Banks, and Ronda Rousey soon had her where she wanted her. Banks tried to fight back, but having been in the ring for over 40 minutes, she was not going to overcome Ronda Rousey. Throwing her out of the match, Ronda Rousey has cleared the ring.
Elimination #28: Sasha Banks has been eliminated!
Note that this was only elimination #28, and as soon as Ronda Rousey stepped back from the ropes, she was grabbed from behind by Stephanie McMahon, who returned to the ring - having never been eliminated. This plan surprised nobody, but almost resulted in a shocking conclusion to the Royal Rumble match.
Just one step before being thrown over the top rope, Ronda Rousey was able to reverse the momentum, sending Stephanie McMahon flying out of the ring, and to the outside. Saving the WWE Universe from the nightmare scenario of Stephanie McMahon joining her father as a Royal Rumble winner, Ronda Rousey eliminated the Commissioner of Raw.
Elimination #29: Stephanie McMahon has been eliminated!
Ronda Rousey wins the Royal Rumble!
She will challenge either the Raw Women’s Champion or the Smackdown Women’s Champion at WrestleMania
Following her victory, the commentators put over that just one year after signing for the WWE, and debuting during the Royal Rumble event, Ronda Rousey had secured her place in a marquee singles match at WrestleMania! That event would be one year after her WWE in-ring debut, and would - judging by her pointing towards the private box where Shayna Baszler was sat - see her go one on one with the Raw Women’s Champion. While nothing was confirmed, Ronda Rousey’s chase of the “Queen of Spades” was put over.
Shayna Baszler wasn’t shown in the private box, but Ronda Rousey sent her message loud and clear. Having been through a lot during the match, Ronda Rousey’s emotion showed, as the second Royal Rumble event in a row ended with Ronda Rousey making huge headlines. Michael Cole signed off on a historic Royal Rumble event, promoting the victories of Seth Rollins and Ronda Rousey on the night, note the moments as the start… of the Road to WrestleMania!