The Royal Rumble is the one show that really benefits from the brand split. Well maybe not the entire card, seeing has RAW matches dominate the show tonight, but this is first time in years that there isn’t a consensus pick to win the Rumble Match. The late favorite is Randy Orton, but names such as Bray Wyatt, Chris Jericho, The Miz, The Undertaker and Braun Strowman have all been mentioned as possible winners. San Antonio sets the stage for the 30th Royal Rumble.
The Main Event of the show, with 50,000-plus fans in attendance at the Alamodome, featured the only Smackdown match on the main card. John Cena was trying to reclaim the WWE Title from AJ Styles and become a sixteen time champion. The two men squared off and Cena got the upperhand, knocking AJ to the apron. Style got an elbow up the in the corner, stunning Cena. Styles hit a forearm smash and kept the pressure on with kicks to the ribs. AJ taunted Cena, but then missed a knee drop.
Cena went for an AA, but Styles was able to avoid it and he answered with an enziguri. Cena ducked a clothesline and hit a flying shoulder tackle. Style countered with a hurricanrana and went for a quick cover. Cena kicked out. Cena slammed Styles to the mat, but AJ leaped to his feet and hit a face buster. Cena staggered into the corner, but the exploded out with a lariat. Cena hit the five knuckle shuffle and picked up AJ. Styles escaped onto the top rope, but Cena hit him with a straight right. Style slipped out from under Cena and was able to get him up in a torture rack. Styles made a pin out of spin out power bomb, but Cena was able to kick out.
Cena ducked the Phenomenal forearm. He was able to pick Styles up for an AA, but AJ kicked out. Cena followed with another brutal lariat, but AJ wouldn’t stay down. Styled ducked another clothesline and connected with a Pele kick. Styles hit the Phenomenal Forearm, but Cena kicked out again.
Cena ducked another kick and was able to hit a face buster, but was unable to cover. The two went back to trading blows in the middle of the ring. Styles countered out of fireman’s carry into a calf crusher. Cena reversed into the STF and drug Styles back into the middle of the ring. AJ reversed into a jackknife cover and then an STF of his own. Cena was able to power up to his feet and then locked in a figure four. Styles countered into a cross arm breaker, which Cena was able to break with a power bomb.
Cena went up top, but was able to counter Cena’s high risk move into a powerbomb. Styles followed with the Styles Clash, but it still wasn’t enough to keep Cena down. AJ tried a springboard 450, but Cena was able to block it by getting his knees up. Style hit an ushigoroshi still couldn’t get the pin. A catapult sent AJ into the turnbuckle as Cena followed up with a cutter, but AJ wouldn’t stay down either.
Cena pulled out all the stops, hitting an AA from the top turnbuckle, but AJ was still able to kick out. Styles countered yet another AA and delivered a Styles Clash. Cena caught Styles looking for the forearm and hit him with not one but two AA’s. That was enough to put AJ down and Cena covered to get the win.
The next WWE pay-per-view is the Smackdown exclusive Elimination Chamber on February 12th.
Royal Rumble Kick Off Show
Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Natalya
Naomi gets the pin here on Alexa Bliss, which could possibly elevate her into the title picture.
Winners: Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi
The Club (challengers) vs. Sheamus and Cesaro (champions) – RAW Tag Team Title Match – Two Referees
Cesaro tries to end things early with a gut wrench, as one ref is in the ring and the other is outside. Gallows falls victim to a double suplex, followed by Sheamus dropping a knee. Anderson saves his partner from a series of uppercuts by distracting Cesaro on the apron. Sheamus then eats a big boot from Gallows. Sheamus connects with a clothesline off the top turnbuckle. Gallows fights out of the swing and tags in his partner. Anderson kicks Sheamus off the apron and gets a pin on Cesaro. Anderson uses the ropes for leverage, but the other official puts a stop to that. Sheamus puts a stop to the Magic Killer, but Sheamus accidentally hits the in ring ref with a Brogue kick. Cesaro locks in the Sharpshooter, but Gallows breaks the hold with a super kick. All four men brawl in the ring. Sheamus almost hits the other ref, but pulls up. This allows Gallows and Anderson to hit Sheamus with the Magic Killer. Cesaro dumps Gallows out of the ring, but Anderson is able to roll him up. He grabs Cesaro’s tights and is able to get the pin.
Winners … and new RAW Tag Team Champions: The Club.
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
Nia Jax tosses Sasha across the ring and then bull rushes her. Banks hits the mat hard, but she tries to fight back. Sasha is able to get the Banks Statement locked in, but Nia powers out of it. Jax then targets the injured knee, picking Banks up and hanging her upside down. Sasha goes for a sunset flip, but Jax shuts it down. Banks climbs the turnbuckle and hits the double knees. Jax kicks out and follows with a pop up Samoan drop. She covers and gets the pin.
Winner: Nia Jax
Bayley (challenger) vs. Charlotte (champion) – RAW women’s title match
Bayley dumps Charlotte out of the ring and then hangs her up on the second rope. She goes to the floor, hitting a head scissors. Charlotte counters a backslide with a neck breaker, but it’s not enough to get the pin. Charlotte locks a figure four around Bayley’s head and slams her around the ring. Bayley answers with a springboard cross body. Bayley drops an elbow from the top rope, but Charlotte kicks out. A kick to the knee stop Bayley in her tracks and the champ locks in the figure four. Bayley reverses the hold, but Charlotte reverse and bridges into the figure eight. She grabs the ropes and breaks it before the five count. Charlotte follows with a moonsault, but Bayley blocks it. Charlotte hits Natural Selection on the apron and scrambles back into the ring to make the pin. Bayley can’t kick out.
Winner … and still RAW Women’s champion: Charlotte
Match Rating: 6/10
Roman Reigns (challenger) vs. Kevin Owens (champion) – WWE Universal Title Match – No Disqualification
Before the match starts, Jericho has to get in the shark cage, but first he and Owens jump Reigns. Roman has had enough and slams Jericho into the cage. He personally shuts the door and the ref locks him up. The bell rings, and KO catches Roman watching the cage. With the No DQ rule, the fight immediately spills into the crowd and all sorts of weapons are used; chairs, announce table and monitors to name a few. Owens drills Reigns with a cannonball against the barrier. Owens then looks for a powerbomb off the apron, into a pyramid of chairs he built, but Reigns is able to block it. Reigns sets up a table, but it backfires, as the champ frog splashes Roman through it. The two men trade shots in the middle of the ring and Roman is whipped into a chair, but KO still can’t put him away. Jericho drop a pair of brass knuckles from the cage. The champ mocks Roman and connects with a Superman punch. Owens still can’t get the pin. Reigns blocks a powerbomb and Samoan drops KO through a chair. Owens pulls out a Stone Cold Stunner and still doesn’t get the pin. KO stomps Reigns into the corner and follows with a cannonball. A Superman punch sends KO flying off the top turnbuckle into his chair pyramid. Reigns tears apart the announce table and powerbombs Owens through it. Reigns waits for Owens to get to his feet in the ring, when Braun Strowman pulls him out and power slams him through a table. Owens crawls over and makes the covers.
Winner … and still WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Kevin Owens
Match Rating: 7.5/10
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan join Stephanie and Mick backstage to help with the drawing of entry numbers for the Royal Rumble match. Sami Zayn is the first superstar to pick. Dean Ambrose walks in and picks a ball. He opens Sami’s, who is going in at 8. Dean refuses to reveal his.
Neville (challenger) vs. Rich Swann (champion) – WWE Cruiserweight Title Match
Neville dominates the match early, but Swann fights back with chops. Neville slides out of the ring and baits Swann into following. Neville slams Swann’s head into the barrier. Neville goes up top, but leaps into a super kick. Swann follows with a hurricanrana. Neville falls to the floor and Swann quickly follows up with a twisting 450 splash to the outside. Neville kicks out of a jumping frog splash. Swann connects on another kick, but Neville is able to get foot on the ropes. Swann goes up top, but Neville catches him and hits a superplex. Swann kicks out, but Neville locks in a cross face. Swann taps.
Winner … and new WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Neville
Match Rating: 7/10
John Cena (challenger) vs. AJ Styles (champion) – WWE Title Match
Winner … and new WWE Heavyweight Champion: John Cena
Match Rating: 9/10
The Royal Rumble Match
Royal Rumble Stats
|1 Big Cass
|1 Jack Gallagher
|2 Chris Jericho
|2 Mojo Rawley
|3 Big Cass
|4 Mojo Rawley
|5 Jack Gallagher
|5 Mark Henry
|6 Mark Henry
|6 Big Show
|7 Braun Strowman
|7 James Ellsworth
|8 Sami Zayn
|8 Tye Dillinger
|9 Big Show
|9 Braun Strowman
|10 Tye Dillinger
|10 Big E/Xavier Woods/Kofi Kingston
|11 James Ellsworth
|11 Big E/Xavier Woods/Kofi Kingston
|12 Dean Ambrose
|12 Big E/Xavier Woods/Kofi Kingston
|13 Baron Corbin
|14 Kofi Kingston
|15 The Miz
|15 Apollo Crews
|16 Dean Ambrose
|17 Big E
|17 Dolph Ziggler
|18 Enzo Amore
|19 Brock Lesnar
|20 Xavier Woods
|21 Bray Wyatt
|21 Baron Corbin
|22 Apollo Crews
|22 Luke Harper
|23 Randy Orton
|24 Dolph Ziggler
|24 The Miz
|25 Luke Harper
|25 Sami Zayn
|26 Brock Lesnar
|27 Enzo Amore
|27 Chris Jericho
|28 Bray Wyatt
|29 Roman Reigns
|30 Roman Reigns
Winner of the Royal Rumble Match: Randy Orton
Time of the Rumble: 1 hour 2 minutes and 7 seconds
Most Eliminations: Braun Strowman with 7
Shortest time in ring: James Ellsworth and Enzo Amore
Longest time in ring: Chris Jericho. He started the match with Big Cass and then was the 27th man eliminated.
The John Morrison Memorial Award for longest time in the ring without a single elimination goes to Sami Zayn, who spent 21 minutes and 4 seconds without tossing anyone over the rope.
Randy Orton won with only one elimination. He threw out Roman Reigns, much to the crowd’s delight, to win the Rumble Match.
Braun Strowman’s seven elimination also happened in a row; starting with Mojo at two and ending with Tye Dillinger at eight. The streak was stopped when Baron Corbin eliminated Strowman.
Kofi’s Kingston made an incredible save. He was perched atop the ring post and had his leg knocked out from under him. Kofi was able to catch himself using the top of the post, hanging there until he was able to pull himself up.
Speaking of the New Day, they were eliminated as a team by Sheamus and Cesaro, who then where also eliminated as a team by Chris Jericho. They were Jericho’s only eliminations of the night.
Sheamus tried to eliminated his tag team partner, Cesaro, only to have Chris Jericho dump both them over the top rope. Afterward, Cesaro and Sheamus had words for each other on the floor.
Luke Harper may have officially turned on Bray Wyatt. He crushed him with a lariat and then set him up for a Sister Abigail. Randy Orton made the save though, hitting Harper with an RKO.
Goldberg eliminated Brock Lesnar almost as soon as he hit the ring. Goldberg nailed him with a spear and proceeded to dump him over the top rope.
The only surprise entrant this year was Tye Dillinger from NXT, who entered at 10, naturally. See in NXT, he is the Perfect 10. Roman Reigns entering at 30 could be considered a surprise, but not the good kind.
Total Event Time: 3 hours and 37 minutes
Event Rating: 7.5/10