After a good NXT Takeover show, I was cautiously optimistic about the Royal Rumble. It’s my favourite  WWE show, but I’ve been disappointed the last few years. Could this year be the improvement I’m hoping for? I was excited for the women’s Royal Rumble – I’ve really enjoyed the women of WWE since The Four Horsewomen broke out in 2015. Plus, if there is anything better than a Royal Rumble, it’s two Royal Rumbles right?

The opener, WWE Champion AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (3/5) was better than I thought it was going to be. I’m not a fan of handicap matches at all, but I thought that this one was one of the best I’ve seen. There were some really good, quick sequences and I really liked the ‘controversial’ ending with the phantom tag.

I found myself being disappointed with the The Usos vs Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin 2 out of 3 falls match (3.5/5). I really enjoyed the match, I was just disappointed there wasn’t more of it. I understand that, they tried to change the standard formula of the 2 out of 3 falls match, but I really like 2 out of 3 falls matches and tag team wrestling…I wanted a long, epic match!

The men’s Rumble match (3/5) was an improvement on the last few year’s Rumble matches, but I can’t say it blew me away. For all the good comedy moments and guest stars, there were uninspired stretches once the likes of Cena, Reigns and Orton came in. Nakamura winning made sense, but it was predictable. I’m not sure what I want from the Rumble any more though…a surprise winner? More surprise entrants? I’m always a fan of the Rumble match, but I think it’s lost it’s spark recently. Maybe something radical (for example, a Rumble match with no previous world champions in?) could change that?

The Bar’s Tag Team Title win over Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan (3/5) was more storyline than match, as Jordan left Seth to fight the match alone after sustaining a head injury. I though this was fine – nothing memorable, but it got over the idea than Jordan let Seth do all the work and pushed towards the split of the team.

Brock Lesnar vs Braun Strowman vs Kane (3/5) was just there for me. I enjoy watching Braun smash people, tables, objects etc but I knew Brock wasn’t losing so there was no drama for me. I want to see Brock vs Braun one on one for the title at ‘Mania, but I know it’s going to be Roman Reigns vs Lesnar. A shame, because as ridiculous as some of the Braun stuff is, it’s pretty entertaining.

I thought the women’s Rumble match (4/5) was fantastic. Sure it was scrappy in places, but nostalgia and energy carried the match. The action never slowed down and there was lots of big spots and moves, It might be more difficult to have such a good Rumble match in 2019 without being able to depend on nostalgia and the novelty factor wearing off. I’ll be honest, upon first viewing I wanted to give the women’s rumble 5/5, but I had a think about it and re-watched the match again, once I’d calmed down. I think that, once I got over the surprises and watching old and new wrestlers collide, the match lost a little bit of it’s luster. Still, a great effort and a superb main event.

Overall, I’ll give Royal Rumble 2018 3.25/5. I’m both pleased and surprised with that score. I was expecting to be disappointed with Royal Rumble 2018, but I was pleasantly surprised. A good Rumble and a decent Rumble is more than I hoped for, plus some alright action across the card meant it was better than most of the WWE shows I watched last year. At this rate, we might even get a good Wrestlemania…