Original Air Date: January 23, 2018
Event Date: January 23, 2018 (aired live)
Commentary: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Greg Hamilton
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn head to the ring. Owens says that the future of WWE is in the ring. Zayn and Owens are the future, and they will soon be the co-holders of the WWE Title. Shane McMahon’s vendetta has backfired, and there is no chance that AJ Styles will get out of the Royal Rumble PPV with his title. Zayn says they will take Styles’ title, and then they will hurt him.
AJ Styles comes out to the stage. He isn’t sure if head heard Kami correctly. Did they say they were going to beat him and become co-champs? Nope. Styles will make sure Owens and Zayn are never co-champs.
Owens thinks Styles sounds ignorant. Ignorance is what got Styles into this “pickle” in the first place. To remind everyone, Owens and Zayn show Styles the replay of him suggesting a handicap match to Daniel Bryan. Owens then accuses Styles of trying to weasel his way out of a match that he suggested in the first place. Zayn then shows footage of Styles saying he’d fight Owens and Zayn in the same night. Zayn and Owens wonder if Styles will honor his own words.
Daniel Bryan comes out and begins to say that he respects Styles, but AJ cuts him off. Styles doesn’t know if Bryan is “in bed” with Owens and Zayn, but he agrees to face them tonight regardless.
Shane McMahon questions Bryan about putting Styles in back to back matches tonight, but Bryan says he wasn’t going to do that. Styles did that to himself. Bryan wonders if Shane thinks doubts Styles’ ability to defend himself, but Shane says Styles isn’t the person whose abilities he’s questioning.
Jey Uso (SD Tag Champ) w/ Jimmy Uso (SD Tag Champ) vs Chad Gable w/ Shelton Benjamin
(referee: Jason Ayers)
Result: Chad Gable wins via pinfall with a rolling bridging German suplex
Very good match. Gable was all over Jey in this one. Jey managed to break away at times to his Gable with some quick and energetic offense, but Gable was never far away from being in complete control. There were a minimum of shenanigans in this match, and I think it was a good setup for the tag title match coming up this Sunday.
Renee Young welcomes Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura has a simple plan to win the Royal Rumble: knee in face. Baron Corbin walks up and says Nakamura is all hype. Corbin doesn’t need hype though. His resume speaks for itself. Corbin wonders what Nakamura has done. Nakamura says it’s not about what he’s done, it’s about what he’s going to do.
Tye Dillinger says his time on the main roster will turn around in 2018, starting with the Royal Rumble.
Naomi vs Liv Morgan w/ Sarah Logan, Ruby Riott
(referee: Danilo Anfibio)
Result: Naomi wins via pinfall after a kick and a slingshot sunset flip
An okay match, but it was super short. Not a lot happened, but it made sense and looked fine.
The Riott Squad attacks Naomi after the match, so Becky Lynch enters the ring to even the odds. Natalya, Lana, and Carmella join the brawl. Becky and Naomi end up in the ring together, and Becky throws Naomi over the top rope.
Charlotte comes out to the stage. She’s impressed with what Becky just did, saying friendships don’t matter when you’re fighting for a chance to face The Queen.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Baron Corbin
(referee: Mike Chioda)
Result: the match ends in a No Contest when Randy Orton hits an RKO out of nowhere
Time: 6:38 (1 break)
Pretty good match. The last few minutes were very good, but the start was a bit sluggish. There was one particular transition by Nakamura late in the match that was great, and from around there to the finish, the match was very entertaining. The finish was well done too, though the nature of the surprise was probably better on TV than in the building.
Randy Orton hits an RKO on both Nakamura and Corbin. He celebrates.
Clips from RAW 25 last night.
New Day heads to the ring. They are excited about being part of RAW 25, and they’re excited to be in the Royal Rumble this Sunday. They are also excited to be teaming with the new US Champion tonight.
Bobby Roode heads to the ring. He’s excited to compete for the first time as US Champ in Washington DC. He wants to be the best US Champ in history, and his reign will be glorious.
Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston w/ Big E & Bobby Roode (US Champ) vs Jinder Mahal w/ Sunil Singh & Aiden English & Rusev
(referee: Charles Robinson)
Result: Xavier Woods pins Aiden English after a rope walk diving elbow
Good match. It was rather short and mostly took place during the commercial picture-in-picture, but there were some good exchanges. All the competitors were in and out of the ring fairly quickly, so everyone saw some action. I think this was a pretty decent pre-Rumble match.
AJ Styles comes out for a match, followed by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Shane McMahon comes out before Owens and Zayn can get to the ring. Shane tells Zayn that if he goes anywhere near the ring during Owens’ match tonight, he will lose his spot in the Royal Rumble. Shane says he will fire Zayn on the spot if he interferes tonight. The same goes for Owens.
AJ Styles (WWE Champ) vs Kevin Owens
(referee: Jason Ayers)
Result: AJ Styles wins via submission with a calf crusher
This was barely a match. After a brief exchange, Owens quickly tapped to a calf crusher. It was smart on Owen’s part.
Styles barely has time to release his hold before Sami Zayn enters the ring and attacks Styles. The referee keeps trying to check on Styles, but Zayn keeps attacking him.
AJ Styles (WWE Champ) vs Sami Zayn
(referee: Jason Ayers; watching in the back: Shane McMahon, Daniel Bryan)
Result: Sami Zayn wins via pinfall after a Helluva Kick and a blue thunder bomb
Time: 11:29 (1 break)
Good match. Styles went into the match hurting from Zayn’s attack, and he was preoccupied with Kevin Owens (who was being attended to at ringside) the entire time. It made for a very story-driven match, but I liked it. I think the match had to go this was to build some good tension for the title match on Sunday.
I liked this show. Lots of matches, and even though they weren’t all very lengthy, there were some good ones. I think this was a good show heading into the Rumble. It was definitely better than what usually seems to happen heading into the Rumble where a whole bunch of guys just head to the ring for a huge brawl to end the show. This show, while it could have highlighted more of the Rumble participants, actually paid attention to all the matches and built them up without being lazy.
Match of the Night
AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn
I’m not really a fan of handicap matches, especially when titles are involved, so I’m not looking forward to the WWE Title match at the Royal Rumble. But at least this match was entertaining tonight.