For the first time since 1992, we would see the WWE Championship on the line in the Royal Rumble. I had been waiting for this since they had unified the two world titles. If anything, surprised they hadn’t done this at some point between 1992 and 2016. Roman Reigns would be forced to defend his WWE Championship against 29 other men. It would literally be One vs. All.
The Rest of the Card
-Dean Ambrose defeated Kevin Owens to retain the Intercontinental Championship in a Last Man Standing Match
-The New Day defeated The Usos to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship
-Kalisto defeated Alberto Del Rio to win the United States Championship
-Charlotte defeated Becky Lynch to retain the WWE Diva’s Championship
Roman Reigns is entrant #1, as per pre-match stipulation. Rusev is #2. Last two guys from last year are the first two guys in this year. Roman hits a big Spear and dumps Rusev in just over a minute. Boos are absolutely vicious. Heckuva job, Vinnie.
Strange music plays and the camera zooms in on Roman’s face as AJ makes his entrance. Botch as they didn’t show the screen revealing who it was. Crowd is absolutely rabid. Is it amazing a year later that he’s the WWE Champion? I don’t know if it is based on how big the reaction was here. AJ sets up for the Styles Clash but gets it blocked twice.
#4 is Tyler Breeze. He lasts barely a minute before getting dumped by AJ and Roman. #5 is Curtis Axel, the man who was never eliminated from the Royal Rumble. Until here, where he’s gone after a minute. #6 is Chris Jericho to a big reaction. #7 is Kane. Goldust is #8. Ryback is #9. Not a lot going on right now.
Kofi is #10 to a pop even though New Day were still technically heels at this point. Titus O’Neil is #11. He eliminates Goldust. R-Truth is #12. I had forgotten him pulling out a ladder thinking this was Money in the Bank. Kane pulls him off and tosses him. Kofi gets knocked off the apron and lands on Big E’s shoulders. Luke Harper is #13.
Now the League of Nations (remember them?) attack Reigns as Mr. McMahon’s direction. Except Barrett isn’t there and I can’t remember why. Stardust is #14 as the League of Nations guys put Roman through the announce table. Roman is dragged to the back by referees. Of all the tone deaf ways they booked Reigns over the last couple years, this ranked pretty high on the list. Big Show is #15. I think he was a heel at this point, but it’s hard to tell.
Big Show tosses Titus and Ryback. Neville is #16. Strowman is #17 and he eliminates Kane before going toe-to-toe with Big Show. Strowman wins the exchange and dumps Show. Kevin Owens is #18, he quickly eliminates Styles after a Superkick. Dean Ambrose is #19. #20 is Sami Zayn, making his return from shoulder surgery. Him and KO go at it to a big reaction. Sami fires up and tosses Owens.
Erick Rowan is #21. Rowan, Harper, and Strowman team up and start tossing people. Neville and Stardust are first. Mark Henry is #22, he’s gone in less than a minute courtesy of the Wyatt Family. Sami is next, tossed by Strowman. Brock Lesnar is #23 and business picks up. He eliminates Rowan with a Clothesline after Suplexing everyone. Jack Swagger is #24. He’s tossed by Lesnar in 15 seconds.
The Miz is #25. He gets on commentary rather than get in the ring. Lesnar tosses Harper. #26 is Alberto Del Rio. Lesnar hits a series of Clotheslines on Strowman and eliminates him. Bray Wyatt is #27. Harper, Rowan, and Strowman return and gang up to eliminate Lesnar. Seemed designed to set up a Wrestlemania match between Lesnar and Wyatt but Vince changed his mind about that. Elimination got good heat though.
Dolph Ziggler is #28. Miz sneaks in and tries to eliminate Dolph but Ziggler skins the cat back into the ring. Sheamus is #29. Reigns returns to Superman Punch Sheamus and then eliminate Miz. He tosses Del Rio with a Clothesline. Triple H is #30 to a monster pop. Triple H Pedigrees Dolph in a symbolic moment.
Everybody starts hitting finishers. Triple H tosses Dolph. Again, symbolic. Triple H and Bray go face-to-face, something they’ve teased a few times over the years. Triple H dumps Wyatt next. Ambrose tosses Jericho.
Final four: Ambrose, Jericho, Sheamus, Triple H. Reigns eliminates Sheamus but is dumped from behind by Triple H. And of course the crowd goes wild. Down to Triple H and Ambrose. They do some great elimination teases that really make you buy Ambrose winning, but Triple H Back Drops him out to win.
Rating: ***1/4. Not great, not bad. A few memorable moments with AJ debuting, the Wyatt dominating, and a good Zayn debut. But the central story of Roman’s heroic comeback just didn’t work, and that put a low ceiling on the match.
Reigns was given an opportunity to become #1 contender at Fastlane. He won a Triple Threat against Brock and Ambrose and proceeded to defeat Triple H to become WWE Champion at Wrestlemania in Dallas.