MANILA, Philippines – The city of Philadelphia added to the list of historic wrestling moments it has hosted, as Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka outlasted 29 others in their respective Royal Rumble matches on Sunday, January 28 (Monday, January 29 in Manila) at the Royal Rumble event of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
Nakamura, who entered at number 14, last eliminated 2015 Rumble winner Roman Reigns. He then made his intentions clear: he's going after WWE Champion AJ Styles at WrestleMania 34.
What a night!!! I can’t thank you enough @WWEUniverse. You guys were behind me,that was very reassuring!!! #royalrumble pic.twitter.com/qX2cu553We — Shinsuke Nakamura (@ShinsukeN) January 29, 2018
Asuka – the 25th entrant in the first-ever women's Royal Rumble match – captured the win in the main event after last eliminating Nikki Bella.
HISTORY HAS BEEN MADE! @WWEAsuka is GOING to @WrestleMania as the first-ever winner of the Women's #RoyalRumble match! #RumbleForAll pic.twitter.com/xtuNPLshQQ — WWE (@WWE) January 29, 2018
Nakamura and Asuka were the first Japanese-born wrestlers to win Royal Rumble matches. Both are heading to WrestleMania in April to face their chosen top champion in their respective divisions.
While Nakamura has made his pick, Asuka's choice was preempted following the appearance of newly-signed WWE superstar Ronda Rousey.
Earlier in the night, Styles survived Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a 2-on-1 handicap match to retain his title. But controversy arose when he pinned Owens, who was not the legal man in the pinfall. Had Owens and Zayn won, they would have become co-holders of the WWE Title.
Meanwhile, Brock Lesnar kept his Universal Championship after defeating Braun Strowman and Kane in a vicious no disqualification triple threat match.
Rumble returns, moments
Both Rumble matches saw the returns of multiple former WWE superstars.
2006 Rumble winner Rey Mysterio entered at number 27, while fellow former Cruiserweight Champion The Hurricane emerged from the 21st spot.
DIAL IT UP TWO TIMES! 6️⃣1️⃣9️⃣ to @JohnCena AND @WWERomanReigns! #RoyalRumble @reymysterio pic.twitter.com/6Yh15ef98x — WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) January 29, 2018
The women's Rumble was a trip down memory lane, with Torrie Wilson, Molly Holly, Michelle McCool, Vickie Guerrero, and Kelly Kelly, plus WWE Hall of Fame inductees Lita, Jacqueline, Beth Phoenix, and Trish Stratus all returning to the ring for this match.
#3️⃣0️⃣ = @WWE Hall of Famer @trishstratuscom! #RoyalRumble #RumbleForAll pic.twitter.com/gK381X9IRS — WWE (@WWE) January 29, 2018
NXT superstars likewise competed, such as NXT Champion Andrade Cien Almas, NXT Women's Champion Ember Moon, Adam Cole, and Kairi Sane.
The old guard and the new guns later faced off in the Final 6 of the men's Rumble, with veterans John Cena, Randy Orton, and Mysterio on one side, and Nakamura, Reigns, and Finn Balor on the other.
We are down to the FINAL SIX in the Men's #RoyalRumble match LIVE on @WWENetwork! @ShinsukeN @FinnBalor @WWERomanReigns @JohnCena @RandyOrton @reymysterio pic.twitter.com/PHmnjg7U5O — WWE Network (@WWENetwork) January 29, 2018
There were also comedic spots, such as Heath Slater being ambushed and kicked around by entrants on the ramp, and Vickie Guerrero unceremoniously thrown out by multiple women.
Also at the Royal Rumble event, SmackDown Tag Team Champions Jimmy and Jey Uso beat Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable in 2 straight pins in a Best of 3 Falls match.
Cesaro and Sheamus regained the RAW Tag Team Championship from Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan. Jordan appeared to have been dazed and tagged out of the match, leaving Seth to fend off their opponents.
In the kickoff show, Bobby Roode successfully defended his United States Championship against Mojo Rawley in an open challenge.
The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson) defeated Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, while the team of masked wrestlers Kalisto, Lince Dorado, and Gran Metalik were victorious over TJP, Jack Gallagher, and Drew Gulak. – Rappler.com
Michael Bueza is a researcher and data curator under Rappler's Research Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.