The 2018 men’s Royal Rumble ended up being the best Rumble match in years, capped off by Shinsuke Nakamura winning and challenging AJ Styles for the WWE Championship.
The match started much earlier on the card than in previous years, with the first-ever women’s Rumble scheduled to go last. Nonetheless, it was an incredible, epic battle, capped off by Nakamura sending the Philadelphia crowd into a frenzy by eliminating Roman Reigns to win.
No. 1 entry: Rusev
Aiden English started things off with his grandiose introduction, getting thunderous “Rusev Day” chants.
No. 2 entry: Finn Balor
The leader of the Balor Club is making his first-ever Rumble appearance here. Rusev nearly dumped him out right from the start, but Finn saved himself.
No. 3 entry: Rhyno
The ECW alum gets a great reception from the hardcore Philly crowd. He dropped Balor with suplexes while the fans exploded in “E-C-W” chants.
No. 4 entry: Baron Corbin
Corbin reversed Rhyno’s Gore into Deep Six and threw him out. Rhyno eliminated. However, Balor got from behind and dumped Corbin in a hurry. Baron Corbin eliminated. Corbin snapped and dragged Balor and Rusev out of the ring, though they’re not eliminated.
No. 5 entry: Heath Slater
Slater never even entered the match as Corbin laid him out on the entrance ramp. He left a trail of bodies on the floor, with nobody in the ring.
No. 6 entry: Elias
The Drifter came out with his guitar and “serenaded” the crowd with his “music” as he walked to the ring.
No. 7 entry: Andrade “Cien” Almas
A surprise entry by the NXT Champion! Almas hit the ring like a house afire and ran wild on Elias, narrowly missing elimination several times.
No. 8 entry: Bray Wyatt
Wyatt beat on Slater, who still hasn’t officially entered the match. Balor recovered and went after Wyatt, potentially reigniting their feud from late 2017.
No. 9 entry: Big E
The first member of The New Day makes his appearance here. Naturally, he fed Slater some pancakes before hitting the ring. E beat on Wyatt before Rusev laid him out with a superkick. The ring is really filling up with bodies now.
No. 10 entry:
Tye Dillinger Sami Zayn
Once again, The Perfect Ten enters the Rumble from the No. 10 spot. However, he didn’t make his entrance, instead getting beat down by Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens backstage. Zayn ended up taking Dillinger’s place in the Rumble.
No. 11 entry: Sheamus
One half of The Bar, Sheamus got immediately eliminated by Slater, who finally got in the ring. Sheamus eliminated. The celebration didn’t last long before Wyatt threw out Slater. Heath Slater eliminated.
No. 12 entry: Xavier Woods
Woods joins his New Day teammate in the Rumble. They double-teamed Zayn and Elias before going their separate ways, trying to survive this marathon of a match.
No. 13 entry: Apollo Crews
Crews is the first member of Titus Worldwide to enter.
No. 14 entry: Shinsuke Nakamura
The former IWGP and NXT Champion makes his first Rumble appearance this year. Nakamura went wild in the ring while the crowd sung his theme song. Nakamura knocked out Zayn with knees off the top. Sami Zayn eliminated.
No. 15 entry: Cesaro
Another half of The Bar, Cesaro enters here despite having a tag title match later in the night. At least he lasted longer than Sheamus.
No. 16 entry: Kofi Kingston
The entire New Day is now together in the ring. Crews nearly eliminated Cesaro, but the latter forearmed him off the apron. Apollo Crews eliminated.
No. 17 entry: Jinder Mahal
No love lost for the former WWE Champion from the crowd. Woods took a nasty bump to the floor as Jinder threw him out. Xavier Woods eliminated. Mahal took out another New Day member by kicking Big E off the apron. Big E eliminated.
No. 18 entry: Seth Rollins
Rollins enters as one half of the Raw Tag Team Champions. He ran wild with slingblades and dropkicks. He took out Cesaro in the process. Cesaro eliminated. Kingston nearly got eliminated, but he landed one foot on Woods, and Big E placed a pancake on the floor to keep him alive. He got springboarded back in the ring by his teammates and threw out Jinder to much rejoicing. Jinder Mahal eliminated. Of course, it didn’t last long before Almas threw out Kofi. Kofi Kingston eliminated.
No. 19 entry: Matt Hardy
Hardy has gone full Broken Matt by this point. Somehow, he and Wyatt both teamed up to eliminate Rusev, to the crowd’s disappointment. Rusev eliminated. They slugged it out and ended up pushing each other over the ropes. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt eliminated.
No. 20 entry: John Cena
The Face Who Runs the Place got a welcome reception from Philly. He got targeted by everybody left in the ring, but recovered to AA Elias over the top. Elias eliminated. Cena and Nakamura then went at each other for a minute.
No. 21 entry: “The Hurricane” Shane Helms
Another surprise entry, with The Hurricane making his triumphant return! Unfortunately, it didn’t last long before Cena threw him out. Shane Helms eliminated.
No. 22 entry: Aiden English
English is out to presumably avenge his tag partner Rusev, who got eliminated earlier.
No. 23 entry: Adam Cole
ADAM COLE BAY BAY! Cole makes his Rumble debut one night after a hellacious match with Aleister Black in NXT the night before. English got dumped out by Balor in the meantime. Aiden English eliminated.
No. 24 entry: Randy Orton
Last year’s Rumble winner makes his presence felt here, dropping Almas with an RKO and throwing out the NXT Champion. Andrade “Cien” Almas eliminated.
No. 25 entry: Titus O’Neil
O’Neil is now representing Titus Worldwide after Crews got thrown out.
No. 26 entry: The Miz
Miz enters one week after winning the Intercontinental Championship at Raw 25. He dropped Cena with a DDT and then hit the Yes Kicks on both Cena and Rollins.
No. 27 entry: Rey Mysterio
THE BIGGEST SURPRISE ENTRY YET! Mysterio makes his return after four years away from WWE, dropping Cole over the ropes and looking great in the process. Adam Cole eliminated. A 619 on Miz got the crowd nuclear-hot.
No. 28 entry: Roman Reigns
Reigns got the crowd reaction you’d expect in Philly. He did the things most big dogs do in WWE, before running wild on Miz and throwing out Titus. Titus O’Neil eliminated. Miz was nearly eliminated before the Miztourage saved him, but that didn’t last long — Roman and Rollisn teamed up to powerbomb him out. The Miz eliminated. Then Roman threw out his former Shield brother, of course. Seth Rollins eliminated.
No. 29 entry: Goldust
Goldust makes his 12th Rumble appearance here.
No. 30 entry: Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler is back a month after vacating the United States Championship and walking out (in storyline). He hit Cena and Orton with superkicks before dumping out Goldust. Goldust eliminated. Ziggler nearly knocked out Nakamura, but Balor dropped him off the apron with a forearm. Dolph Ziggler eliminated.
Only six men are left in the match now. Orton RKO’d Nakamura, his on-and-off-again tag team partner. Reigns Superman punched and threw out Orton. Randy Orton eliminated. Mysterio hit a 619 on both Reigns and Cena before Balor threw him out. Rey Mysterio eliminated.
The final four are Cena, Reigns, Balor, and Nakamura. After a long stare-down between all four men, they got down to the fighting. Cena and Reigns went after it, clearly not over their feud that led to a match at No Mercy. Balor and Nakamura fought them off and went one-on-one like it’s Wrestle Kingdom.
Just like that, Cena and Reigns got back into the action. Roman dropped Cena with a Samoan Drop and set up the Superman Punch, but Cena reversed it into a side slam. Balor then ran in with a slingblade on everybody, but Nakamura booted him. In the chaos, Cena threw out Balor to crowd boos. Finn Balor eliminated.
It’s down to Cena, Reigns, and Nakamura. The bigger Americans double-teamed Nakamura, but couldn’t resist going after each other again. Cena hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Roman popped up for a Superman Punch. He set up for the spear, but Cena reversed it into an AA. Then Nakamura got Cena on the apron and hit the Kinshasa to knock him off. John Cena eliminated.
Now only Reigns and Nakamura are left. The crowd is melting in favor of Nakamura as both men exchanged strikes. Reigns hit the Superman Punch and tried to throw out Nak, but he saved himself on the apron. He hooked a triangle choke on the ropes, a dangerous spot for Nakamura to be. Reigns lifted him up into a powerbomb, leaving both men laying on the mat.
With their energy spent, Reigns was the first to get up. He tried to spear Nakamura, but walked into a boot. Nakamura went for the Kinshasa, but Reigns speared him mid-flight in an awesome spot. Roman picked him up and went to the ropes, but Nak fought it off and hit the Kinshasa, before throwing Roman over the top. Roman Reigns eliminated.
Shinsuke Nakamura has already accomplished nearly everything a wrestler could in his Hall of Fame career. Now, he can add “Royal Rumble winner” to his storied resume.