Having a 30-man Royal Rumble at a time when WWE is depleted with injuries was not going to be an easy task. Credit WWE for giving us something we haven't seen in 24 years - a Royal Rumble match with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on the line, rather than a shot at it. This was last done back in 1992 when the vacant title was put on the line in the match, the first time the Rumble had any significant incentive for the winner. Since then, it's been perhaps the most anticipated match of the year almost every year.
Combining the title match and the Rumble match into one saves some depth, but it also left us with a short undercard. With only four matches for the first two hours of the event, one would hope that WWE would use that opportunity to give Owens and Ambrose ample time for a Last Man Standing Match. Also, it gives a great chance for them to let Charlotte and Becky Lynch truly display the magic they showed back in NXT.
With the way 2015 ended, the Royal Rumble provides a significant shot at starting 2016 off with a bang. We are officially on the road to WrestleMania 32. We can now assume that there will be a no.1 contender's match of some kind at Fastlane, possibly in a tournament format.
How did this year's Royal Rumble shake out? Read about it all here.
Event Card (in no particular order):
- The New Day vs. The Usos - WWE Tag Team Championship
- Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Kalisto - United States Championship
- Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch - Divas Championship
- Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Kevin Owens - Intercontinental Championship
- Royal Rumble Match - WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Spoilers lie ahead. Be warned!!
The New Day unveiled Francesca II, as Chris Jericho destroyed Francesca I a couple of weeks ago.
The early going of the match featured a cool spot where Xavier did a Tornado DDT off the barricade. New Day controlled the early going as Big E speared Jimmy Uso through the second rope to the outside.
The Usos mounted a late comeback but Big E got the win by hitting the Big Ending on Jey. Solid tag match, and the tag champs were their usual entertaining selves.
Winner: The New Day (c)
Match Rating: 7/10
The ladies had a solid storyline going into this match, with Charlotte's change in attitude having essentially broken up the friendship between the two. They got some solid time on a card with only five matches.
The match was solid, but was hurt by a pretty lame ending. Becky had Charlotte in the Dis-Arm-Her, but Ric Flair threw his jacket onto Becky's head, distracting her enough to release the hold... that deadly jacket! Charlotte would take advantage, hitting a spear for the win. Flair must have had some strong cologne sprayed onto that jacket.
Sasha Banks then came to the ring and attacked both ladies, then held the Divas Championship high. Is she next in line for a title shot?
Winner: Charlotte (c)
Reigns and Rusev began the match as the first two entrants, after being the final two last year. Reigns made quick work of eliminating Rusev.
Coming out next at no.3 was... A.J. STYLES! What a way to debut! The longtime TNA star made his WWE debut in TNA country, Orlando, Florida.
After a couple of quick showings by Tyler Breeze and Curtis Axel, out came Chris Jericho at no.6. The ring then began to fill up with Kane, Goldust and Ryback joining them as the next entrants.
R-Truth came out at no.12 and did a hilarious bit where he thought the match was a ladder match, as he grabbed a ladder and started climbing it, before realizing there was no title waiting for him. Kane then yanked him off and threw him over. That was followed by another hilarious spot, where Big E caught Kofi as he was thrown over, saving his partner and dancing with Kofi on his shoulders around the ring.
Vince McMahon then came out and directed the League of Nations as they attacked Reigns on the outside. Rusev would splash Reigns through the table, seemingly taking him out of the match.
Braun Strowman would come in and eliminate Kane and Big Show immediately (where was he last year?). That was followed by Kevin Owens entering, limping to the ring. Styles went for the Styles Clash on Neville, but Owens would superkick him, and eliminated him.
We can forgive Styles being eliminated if this means a Styles/Owens feud... Speaking of setting up feuds, out came Sami Zayn! Making his return from a May shoulder injury, Zayn eliminated Owens. Maybe that's his next feud.
Strowman, Rowan and Harper began cleaning house, leaving only Ambrose and Jericho in the ring, before BRROOCCKKKK LESSSNAARRRR came out at 23 and knocked everybody down, eliminating the Wyatt family over the course of the next few entries. After Strowman's elimination, out came Bray Wyatt, back with the rest of the Wyatts to gang up on Lesnar. Lesnar fought them off, but the numbers caught up to The Beast, and Wyatt hit Sister Abigail and the family eliminated him.
Reigns came back and attacked Sheamus as he was making his entrance at 29 and eliminated several guys in the ring.
We then awaited entrant no.30. As fans waited in anticipation of the last entrant, "time to play the game" was heard throughout the arena. Triple H came out to put an end to Roman's comeback.
With the help of Sheamus, Triple H managed to eliminate Bray Wyatt and Ambrose soon eliminated Jericho, leaving us a final four of Sheamus, Ambrose, HHH and Reigns. Reigns eliminated Sheamus, but HHH snuck up on Reigns to eliminate him, ending Reigns' run with the title. That left us a final two of Ambrose and the COO. Ambrose gave Triple H a big fight, but Hunter threw a big knee to stun Ambrose and throw him out.
The Authority comes out on top, presumably setting up a Reigns/Triple H main event at WrestleMania.
Winner: Triple H - New WWE World Heavyweight Champion
Match Rating: 7/10
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