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WWE Royal Rumble 2018 results: AJ Styles survives the numbers game when Owens and Zayn plan backfires

Perhaps to get any and all them free for appearances in the battle royal later on in the evening, AJ Styles handicap WWE title defense against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn opened the show at Royal Rumble in Philadelphia on Jan. 28, 2018.

After starting, KO quickly tagged in Sami, supporting reports he’s trying to work through/around back trouble. That might have been part of why “Kami” was doing it, but it also part of their strategy*, as Owens and Zayn employed frequent, and creative, tags in the early going against The Phenomenal One.

The numbers game worked and Kev seemed okay, until missing a cannonball in the corner “reaggravated” the worked ankle injury from last week’s SmackDown. Sami was forced to tag after taking a reverse DDT off a moonsault...

...and Styles locked in the calf-crusher - the very move Owens tapped to on Tuesday. Zayn made the save, and after another exchange and tag, a cheap shot by KO from the apron sent AJ straight into the move which finished him earlier, a Blue Thunder Bomb.

The champ kicked out before three, however... barely. He’d win another exchange with Owens outside the ropes, and hit a Phenomenal Forearm, but this time KO made the save for his latest best friend.

Strategy would get the best of Owens and Zayn in the end. They feigned a tag to save Sami when AJ had him in a precarious position. KO was unable to finish the deal though, and got rolled up for the pin... despite not being the legal man.

Expect cries of injustice, and involvement from General Manager Daniel Bryan and commissioner Shane McMahon, this week**.

Get complete Royal Rumble results and coverage of every match on the card by clicking here.

* Or “straightly”, as a WWE Universe member called it in his Social Media Lounge question to the heel duo on the Kickoff:

** Well, we didn’t have to wait that long. Shane was asked by Owens and Zayn if he saw that AJ didn’t pin the legal man, and their nemesis replied “Yep”. Expect more on Tuesday, still.

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