Rhea Ripley was both the winner and MVP of the women’s Royal Rumble. Ripley entered at No. 1 and lasted longer than any woman in Royal Rumble history, last eliminating entrant No. 2 Liv Morgan to win the match. It was a good Royal Rumble match, despite the questionable choice to have Becky Lynch in only for a brief spell.
The Women’s Royal Rumble had a quiet opening section. Ripley was a major player, surrounded by the just-there field of Morgan, Dana Brooke and Emma. Bayley and Shayna Baszler were welcome additions, but didn’t do much at the outset.
B-Fab was the first elimination, lasting just over 30 seconds before Ripley tossed her out. NXT Women’s Champion Roxanne Perez got a nice reaction when she entered. She was followed by Bayley teammate Dakota Kai and then Iyo Sky, making Damage CTRL the dominant force in the Rumble.
Damage CTRL quickly eliminated Dana Brooke, Emma and Roxanne Perez. Baszler had a fun exchange with Natalya, which ended with both being taken out by Damage CTRL. Natalya had Baszler on the apron, but Baszler locked her into the Sleeper Hold. Damage CTRL flipped Natayla onto the apron, then eliminated both her and Baszler.
As Damage CTRL was ruling the ring, Big Time Becks entered at No. 15. The crowd instantly came alive, with “Becky!” songs and loud ovations. The numbers game eventually got the best of Lynch, who was laid out by the announcer’s table by the trio. (No one was eliminated here, as they exited the ring via the middle rope.)
That the crowd was into Lynch is no surprise. A little surprising was the massive pop they gave Asuka. Asuka came out with a painted face and a much darker attire. She had a great flurry of offense, suplexing and striking the whole field, getting big “Asuka” chants. She got just one elimination, taking out Tegan Knox. (Just moments before, there was an awkward moment when Tegan Knox completely missed a kick but Asuka sold it anyway.)
Entering at No. 19 was Piper Niven, formerly known as Doudrop. She laid everyone out, looking better here than she ever did as Doudrop, before Tamina came in at No. 20. One of the announcers said their clash was the one people have been waiting for, a very curious claim.
Their once-in-a-lifetime showdown was interrupted by Lynch, who the crowd again erupted for. Chelsea Green was next, with the announcers making a big deal about her return to the company — right before she was immediately eliminated by Rhea Ripley.
That was the first in a series of big eliminations. Lynch threw out both Kai and Sky, but was then surprised by Bayley, who flipped her out of the ring to massive heat from the crowd. Bayley was herself then eliminated by Morgan. Lynch then brawled with Damage CTRL into the crowd.
There was a cute spot where Michalle McCool’s music played at the No. 25 entrance. McCool was at ringside watching the show with her kids, at which point she unzipped her jacket and hopped over the barricade and into the ring. She immediately hit a Styles Clash, a nod to her husband’s last opponent.
Lacey Evans eliminated Zelina Vega in brutal fashion, putting her in a Cobra Clutch from the second rope. She hoisted Vega up and over the rope, dropping her from the turnbuckle to the floor outside.
The ring was filled with nearly a dozen women by the time No. 30 was due to enter. Sure enough, the final entrant is Nia Jax — an Irresistable Force that could clear that mass out. Incidentally, the production crew botched her entrance, hitting her music before the countdown clock even started ticking down.
Except that Nia Jax eliminated exactly no one — instead all the women ganged up on her. They blitzed her with big moves, ending with Ripley planting her with a (weak) Riptide.
There was a series of quick eliminations from here, with Asuka, Ripley and Raquel Rodriguez all scoring eliminations. Rodriguez nearly powerbombed Ripley out of the ring, but Ripley countered and felt Rodriguez flying over. The final three came down to Ripley and Morgan, who started the match out, and Asuka.
All three women quickly ended up on the apron. Asuka tried to spray mist at Ripley, but Ripley ducked so the mist sprayed Morgan instead. Ripley did a sweet 619 to kick Asuka off, and then eliminated Morgan to win the Rumble.
Rating: 3.5 stars. Still flawed, and in need of more star power, but possibly the best Women’s Royal Rumble yet.